Tuesday, July 17, 2012


         Here's something I was drawing that started reminding me of an old story concept of mine called Kismet- so I added a title panel. I've been dying to draw that logo for a while now. The original story was about the converging fates of four characters and it had a sci-fi Bollywood setting.

        I FINALLY wrapped up a comic I've been working on for the past six months. I'm still trying to figure how to not make it take so long. I've noticed a pattern when it comes to doing comic stories. Before a story comes along you've kind of got the blues. You wonder if you have any creative juice left and if you'll be able to top what you've done before. You go down a few creative dead-ends and then BAM! Inspiration hits! You start making these crazy neural connections and suddenly you're able to articulate that thing that's been on your mind. This is the big high point- what it's all about. Everything that follows ripples off of this moment. If you're not bouncing off the walls with excitement at this stage then there's no point in going any further- you'll have a shitty comic. Now for me- that initial excitement gets me maybe about a few pages deep and then I start worrying. From then on it's an emotional roller coaster ride. I don't think there's been a single comic I've worked on where there wasn't a period of complete hopelessness and despair. That kicked in big time about halfway through this last comic. That feeling that you're no good as an artist and you're wasting your life away behind the drawing table. For me a lot of the despair comes from being one of the slowest cartoonists on planet earth. But then finally you find yourself inking in those last two words: THE END. I love those two words. I just like the way they look on the page. But this moment you've been waiting for is always anti-climactic. There's no applause or fanfare and nothing in your life has really changed. Then maybe a week later it sinks in that you're done and you finally have a feeling of accomplishment. Even if your comic DID suck, even if it took forever to draw, just being done makes it feel like you accomplished something. All that former self doubt is wiped away...for a second. Then you want to get right back on that roller coaster- and you better do it quick! Otherwise you're really in trouble!

        Here's a cover my pal Dustin Weaver drew for Astonishing X-Men #52.
           If you look in the background you'll see a clock based on an old comic strip character I did called Snar-fled. Sometime in the near future I'll do a Snar-fled post. Now, besides the Snar-fled tribute there are a number of things I really like about this cover. The thing that impresses me the most is that it has a subtle emotional quality even though there's nothing dramatic happening. You see it subtly in the posture and the expression and in the banal treatment of her cybernetic limb. It's treated like what it is- a prosthetic- not something that gives you super strength and speed. But even with these little details- how are we getting that feeling of emotion? It's because Dustin thought a lot about the character- he detected something tragic about her and he sympathized with her and so that feeling informs everything that he put into the drawing. This is what separates a drawing that is technically proficient from a drawing that you can emotionally connect with. You have to think about the character!
         Jaime Hernandez is the master of this method. Here's an example from Hernandez Satyricon.
           First you've got Hopey. Trouble with a capital T. She's naked, she's got her hair and her tongue sticking out and she's antagonizing Maggie with that water bottle. Just that little detail and we get a sense of their relationship. And you can tell she's a little horndog. Sure, we all love Hopey, but imagine dealing with her in real life? She'd be intollerable! Next you've got Daffy, the perpetual third wheel. You know she's wishing they'd just hurry up so she can get to the club already. The way she's leaning on her elbow- she's got her jacket on, her fishnet stockings, a key dangling from her hand and her purse at her side. She's ready to go! And you know that by the time they get there the show will probably be over and they'll get mixed up in some unrelated adventure.  And poor Maggie, you can tell exactly what she's thinking: this hair is hopeless, I'm hopeless, and everyone will just be staring at my fat butt. But on the surface there's nothing overtly dramatic happening in this illustration. All these personal details subtly work together to create a snapshot of reality. It's because Jaime knows his characters inside and out.

          Here's another L&R illustration out of Hernandez Satyricon starring Cheetah Torpeda and Rocky and Fumble. I just included it because I'm such a robot fan.

Here's a cover by Dan Clowes, another artist to whom I am largely indebted.
            This was drawn during what I would call Clowes's transitional period- from drawing more detailed, heavily rendered  faces to the pared down cartoon style he's using now. I have to admit, I sort of prefer 90's Dan Clowes to turn of the century Clowes- but this is one fine example of pared down, character-based cartooning.  Look at the main guy in the first panel. A simple enough looking character design- it could almost be anybody- yet with the tiniest details we know that this is an upper-middle class hipster. He's older than he looks- the bags under his eyes, the tiny hint of stuble. The bulbous forehead and upturned nose indicate someone who is brainy and snooty. And the way his hair is neatly combed. Now compair him to the other characters in the same panel. They're all completely different and we instantaneously get a sense of who they are. There's almost a graphic novel's worth of information on the cover of this obscure music zine.

          Moving on... Here's a few sketches. I'd really like to use this title for something.

And yes, I've drawn some Gobots fan art.

         I basically drew this to demonstrate that you can take an asexual, blocky figure and make it look feminine. This is Smallfoot, she was a little red Toyota, and that's Scooter's face next to her.

        They just opened up a thrift store down the street from where I live. Given the remoteness of the location it's kind of a minor miracle. My brother picked up this album there today.

          Also, I noticed it was Harry Dean Stanton's birthday a couple days ago so I thought I'd share this ancient watercolor painting I did in High School.
           It's based on his appearance in Fire Walk With Me.