Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Panels: An Addendum.

I debated making this post, as I thought it may sound very much like a tutorial or a criticism (which I am probably not qualified to do either of). I hope that it comes across as more of an observation, one that I hope might help someone out there when they're thinking about how to set up a page, and with a bit of knowledge that is by no means originally mine (see last paragraph).

I noticed this trend, on the heels of my last post, while flipping through a large stack of comics (some of the classics, some of the not-so-classics) and various websites of current artists work.

What I noticed more and more, was a tendency to use large panels to showcase the "coolest" part of the narrative or the shot that was the most fun or complicated to draw, ignoring the story beats that are the driving force of panel to panel storytelling. I'll say it in the shortest possible terms rather than trying to argue a number of small points: The size of the panel is determined by the story beat. The amount of time you want the reader to linger on said panel. The emotional impact of the content inside the box.

There. That ought to do.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My thoughts on Panel Grids.

This post could've been short enough to classify as one of Jerry Springer's "Final Thoughts", though I hope it is at least somewhat less inane and helpful.

At some point in the 1990's, comics developed a peculiar aversion to grids in favor of slanted, broken, speed line filled panels. I'm not saying it was completely across the board, but it was certainly a heavy trend well in the middle of this past decade and, in some areas, persists even now.

I'm not taking a stance that there aren't viable alternatives to grids that tell your story just as well (see anything Mike Mignola has ever, ever, ever done), but it sort of boggles the mind why artists with detail oriented styles would be opposed to using a storytelling tool that unclutters everything! Its Comics 101 for an artist struggling to pace a page, issue or an entire arc, whether its his script or someone else's.

Its clear that there are established artists who scoff at grids and that's fine, so long as I can tell what's happening panel to panel and, by and large, I can. On the other side of the coin, it can be dangerous for new artists if all they see are rows of panels cocked at 35 degrees to emphasize action. Because clearly it can be done without.

My closing argument? Grids were good enough for Jack Kirby. Grids were good enough for Alex Toth. Grids are good enough for me.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Picking apart storytelling.

I rarely make any non-art related posts, but when I do they tend to be centered on storytelling of some kind, and today is no different.

I'm currently on the fence with AMC's "The Walking Dead". With the exception of "Rubicon", I've learned not to doubt the quality of AMC's programming and production values, and this series seems to be no different. I am enjoying it so far, but I'm not loving it and I hope that changes.

My concern from the very first episode was how closely it would follow the Robert Kirkman's Image series, especially in the pace of the overall story arc. I hate to say it, and I'm well aware of just how in the minority I am on this, but the comic bored me quite quickly. This shouldn't be taken in any way as a reflection of Kirkman's writing ability, because I've read other works of his that have been stellar. My boredom stemmed from the repeated equation any post-apocalyptic storyline has to follow which is, in a nutshell: Run, hide, find friends, stay safe, surprise attack, one friend dies, run to safety, rinse and repeat. I'm not ashamed to say that two hours and fifteen minutes of any zombie film is all I need. I love 28 Days Later, but if it went on for 12 hours I'd be hoping for an actual zombie attack just to keep things exciting.

All that aside, the problems I had with the first two episodes, primarily clunky exposition and some forced dialog, seem to have disappeared. And finally, because I'm not Captain Negativity I'll give you the shows saving grace. I am happy -no- thrilled to have a late night television hero who has gone four (count 'em FOUR) episodes without cheating on his wife. Its sad that we've come to a point when a boy scout character with Superman caliber morals is the refreshing one. Coincidentally, this may also be why I love Superman so much.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Abe Sapien.

This is about as tight as my pencils ever get, and a very rare example of something I doodled out in pencil but didn't care to ink. Still, it was an entertaining little jaunt during that eye droopingly boring Miami/Chicago game last night.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Despite being my favoritest of favorite superheroes, I never find myself drawing the Big S very often. Maybe its because I never get the curly cue haircut right. Maybe its because I never find the right balance of Christopher Reevish, oak tree lean and Ed McGinnis barrel chested-ness.

Leaving that aside for a moment, the best (or at least my favorite) comics have always revolved around the every-man's perspective of the hero and their awe for even the most mundane things the hero might do. In the grand scheme, saving a falling crane and its operator from a 70 story drop might seem pretty vanilla in comparison to battling off Darkseid's hordes. But its nonetheless something that would impress a kid seeing it out his window and its certainly what invested me in Superman at a young age.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Character Sheet.

Though I'm not complaining about why, there's a very real chance I won't get to put much time into this project of mine for a while. At least not in any steady, consistent way. So, before my schedule undergoes some serious changes, I wanted to get as much of it on paper as possible. The arc is mapped out far better than I could've hoped for at this stage, especially considering its my first crack at it. I've been jockeying back and forth between writing and designing it without any real plan and have been surprised how well its ironed itself out. That said, I still don't know when I'll get round to making it all a reality, but I hope its something I chip away at.

This is a quick design sheet for a character from that story that I've decided to simply call; The Mad Turk. Turkish readers, please do not send angry letters. This is a madman who simply happens to be Turkish.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


If you can keep from yelling that every time someone even utters the word AKIRA, its a distinct possibility that you are a robot. Because I was doing it the whole time I was drawing this.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Rocketeer.

I believe the criteria for this sketch was: Draw the Rocketeer flying and/or carrying something heavy. Since I imagine the jetpack isn't a twin Rolls Royce Phantom engine, "dragging" is probably the most the man could do with anything over whatever Jennifer Connolly weighs. What a ride that would be though, right?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Tis' but a scratch!

Haven't exactly blog-sketched in a while, though I have been posting other bits and pieces. Unfortunately, my scanner has a peculiar (code for shitty) way of scanning black and white art when there's only one color element in it. Thus, this scan is not up to par. Bah.

Thought I'd be a little less than serious tonight. Have at you!


I've had some inquiries recently into buying some of my originals which, apart from commissions, I hadn't been doing. They were mostly sketches, or little bits and pieces I did for fun. But, as the world goes, some unpleasantness has me thinking about setting up an Etsy shop to unload (at least part of) the baby elephant sized stack of stuff that has been piling up.

Before I do that, I wanted to give a chance to anyone who had asked earlier (or hadn't asked at all) about certain pieces to drop me a line again, so they get first dibs and I don't sell them from under your noses. If anyone has seen something they liked, please feel free to give me a shout. Prices may seem arbitrary but I assure you they're all based on size, medium and complexity (ie one character v two, background vs blank and so on).

I'll probably set up the Etsy shop with a few pieces to start out, hopefully by the weekend. Cheers, all.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pre-Project Design Part III

I once read "The trick to period fiction is to set it so far in the past that no one would even know if you fucked it up." A sentiment I find myself comforted by, though not willing to follow to the letter. In the meantime, a few horrendously scanned bits of design and reference. I leave nothing to chance this time.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pre-project Design Part II.

A quick brush and ink sketch from last night.

I'm perhaps getting a little too wrapped up in this stuff but, as I said yesterday, having to reference your content panel to panel is a frustrating way to work and, at least in my case, slows down my productivity immensely. So, chalk up a few weeks of reference, designs, sketches and so forth before you even start, and you shave off that much time when actually working.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pre-project design.

There's something terribly exciting and, at the very same time, terribly dull about prepping for a new project. Even one you're not in a frantic rush to finish. Frankly, I'm not even in a frantic rush to start it, though there is something frustrating to me about getting through a work day without an actual comic page getting done. Still, design is fun, especially when you have no one in particular to answer to but yourself and architecture can be even more fun. Specifically, non-western architecture (zzzzz...).

I feel, justifiably, like I've spent more time reading and poring over reference than I have doing any actual drawing. As an artist, this poses a conundrum. The solution? Trudge through text and photo/art reference during the day (around actual work, of course) do the satisfying artsy stuff in the evening. That way I can sleep soundly knowing I satisfied the requirements of the title "artist".

Anyway, here's a bit of the plodding and yet entirely enjoyable stuff I've been wading through.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Architectural Studies.

I'm loathe to start any new project, long or short term, without drawing the settings, costumes and characters until I could do it in my sleep. I have, admittedly, done this before. Chalk some of it up to arrogance and some up to a need to get cracking immediately. Neither excuse is acceptable and, unless I'm being drowned in money for the effort, one I'm not likely to use again.

I've always found architecture comes to me fairly naturally, and I have a habit of never ruling anything out, other than a rough idea of my perspective. Architecture is as much an art as sculpture, painting or the comic itself. It should be felt, not just stared at, and is a large portion of my problem with the extensive use of photoreferencing in comics today. If I wanted to look at a photograph of a building in my background I'd make a collage or, better yet, stare at the building itself. I could go on and on, but rants about subjects like these are best in small doses, as I know I would like them.

But for any of you archi-files (Greek majors hit me up with the proper term) out there, enjoy a small sampling of brush sketches for a project in the earliest of early stages.

Monday, November 1, 2010

New Gear...

I'm planning on selling my old Macbook very soon, in favor of some newer portable gear. As most readers of my blog would already know, I scarcely do any of my work digitally, outside of scanning, the occasional zipatone and the obligatory corrections and double page spread stitching. My iMac being my main workhorse, I'm in the market for something easy to carry, to use mainly for on-the-go reference, music and possibly limited Photoshop work (though mainly the first two). That said, I'm in quandary over whether to pick up an iPad, a Macbook Air or spend the money for a Macbook Pro, which I know can do all three.

I have a reasonable amount of readership here, so if any fellow pros have said equipment, or are knowledgeable about their respective capabilities for these kinds of applications, feedback is not only absolutely welcome, but greatly appreciated!