Thursday, April 29, 2010

From SNitLoE page 68

I am still caught up in Spider-Man stuff and chores around the studio, so nothing new today. However, here's a quick scan of a panel from a very recent page of Savage Nobles in the Land of Enchantment.

Hippies! Goats! Don't you wanna read this book?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Look Out!

Okay, so I am pushing my own envelope and trying to draw a popular superhero character, not because I actually like that kinda thing, just because I want to learn from it. These are NOT YET but are GONNA BE pages 8 and 9 from Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man #58. The script was provided courtesy of its writer, the generous Paul Tobin. It was professionally penciled by Ben Dewey (who finally has the website he deserves- keep refreshing the homepage!) I have made a point not to look at Ben's art though, yet.

Professional opinion seems to be that the layout and storytelling are pretty good, but the figures need a ton of work and Spiderman's shoulders are really narrow. I'm gonna take some photo-reference tonight and try to get better-proportioned people and more believable poses, and I'll post it again when it's inked. Coming up with something to post every day is HARD.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Supreme Anarchist Council

NOTE: The color errors in yesterday's post have been amended!

Here's a group portrait of the Supreme Anarchist Council from G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday:

Back Row: Gogol aka "Tuesday," Pole who does not enjoy "goncealment." "...out of this collar there sprang a head quite unmanageable and quite unmistakable, a bewildering bush of brown hair and beard that almost obscured the eyes like those of a Skye terrier. But the eyes did look out of the tangle, and they were the sad eyes of a sad Russian serf."

"The Secretary" aka "Monday" "...his smile was a shock, for it was all on one side, going up in the right scheek and down in the left."

Front Row: Dr. Bull aka "Saturday" "They took away the key to his face. You could not tell what his smile or his gravity meant... Those black discs were dreadful to Syme; they reminded him of half-remembered ugly tales, of some story about pennies being put on the eyes of the dead... Syme even had the thought that his eyes might be covered up because they were too frightful to see."

Professor de Worms aka "Friday" " if some drunken dandies had put their clothes upon a corpse... it did not express decrepitude merely, but corruption."

Gabriel Syme aka "Thursday" Not an anarchist - an undercover agent for Scotland Yard.

The Marquis de St. Eustache aka "Wednesday" "the man carried a rich atmosphere with him, a rich atmosphere that suffocated. It reminded one irrationally of drowsy odours and of dying lamps in the darker poems of Byron and Poe.

For this image I forwent the brushy ink style I naturally favor and tried thin lines, artificially colored. I'm shooting for the look of animation on this one.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Me & Edith Head

Here are some pages I drew about a month ago of Sara Ryan's story Me & Edith Head. This was just for fun, sort of a diagnostic essay for the Periscope people, since Me & Edith Head had already been published, illustrated by Sara's own husband Steve Lieber (a Periscope member). Without ever reading Steve's original, I set about illustrating the first four pages of the story.

Even though I feel I've come quite a ways from here, this project was a lot of firsts for me. First time illustrating somebody else's script. First time using blue non-repro pencil. First time using a mechanical pencil. First time coloring digitally. (Edit: the colors now appear correctly on the internet.)

It's also my first time lettering digitally, and as you can see, I still haven't completed that part, which is why there are no captions or dialogue. So you might be kind of confused. Here's a little summary of what your missing.

Page 1 - Katrina has just tried out for the role of Queen Titania in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." She's daydreaming about how nice it will be, but the sound of her parents' bitter arguing in the next room sours her mood.

Page 2 - The next day, Katrina nervously waits to see what role she got, and found out that she has been assigned "costume design," a role she considers herself totally unfit for. She has to go see Gabriel Chang in the costume room. He explains that costume design is all about mixing and matching and considering "juxtapositions." Katrina takes a utilitarian view of clothes and isn't buying it.

Page 3 - Katrina impugns that Mr. Chang is a costume man now because, like her, he was once turned down for acting roles. He says no, and in his office pulls out two books, "How to Dress for Success" and "Edith Head's Hollywood," a biography of the famous costume designer. He tells her to read them.

Page 4 - While her parents put together a slap-dash meal, Katrina reads Head's book. Edith, in a very 1950's way, says that a wife must continue looking as well turned-out years into her marriage as she did at the beginning, and not "as if she had been shot out of a cannon." This leads Katrina to picture first her mom and then her dad, well...

Over the rest of the story, which I won't draw, Katrina gets more and more into costume design, and starts taking better care of her own personal appearance as well. Meanwhile, her parents keep fighting and end up getting divorced. She designs a terrific costume for Titania and the cast, and even though her parents sit separately in the audience, they're both proud of how self-assured she's become.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Lucian Gregory

Okay, so I fell through on my promise to post something every day, and pretty quickly. Sorry! But give me a break; the Stumptown Comics Fest is this weekend, and in addition to helping everyone around the studio get ready, I'm putting together my own portfolio to show editors and stuff. Very intimidating!

Lucian Gregory is a character introduced in the first pages of G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday. He's an "aesthete anarchist," and a delightful straw-man, who falls into an ideological dispute with the protagonist, Gabriel Syme, who, along with the narrator, is basically Chesterton by a different name. But shortly thereafter, the rebellious poet introduces Syme (an undercover "philosophical policeman") into the company of the world's most dangerous ring of anarchists!

Here is GKC's opening description of Gregory:

"...the red-haired poet was really (in some sense) a man worth listening to, even if one laughed at the end of it. He put the old cant of the lawlessness of art and the art of lawlessness with a certain impudent freshness which gave at least momentary pleasure. He was helped in some degree by the arresting oddity of his appearance, which he worked, as the phrase goes, for all it was worth. His dark red hair parted in the middle was literaly like a woman's, and curved into the slow curls of a virgin in a pre-Raphaelite picture. from within this almost saintly oval, however, his face projected suddenly broad and brutal, the chin carried forward with a look of cockney contempt. This combination at once tickled and terrified the nerves of a neurotic population. He seemed like a walking blasphemy, a blend of the angel and the ape."

My picture is not worth a dozen, much less a thousand, of Chesterton's words, but my hope is to at some point illustrate in comics form a scene from this book, or at least draw a decent pin-up of it's seven main characters (code-named Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday). Everything I've ever wanted to say, Chesterton has said it already and better. For months now I've been dreaming of writing a story where the characters were purely allegorical and had no personalities beyond their respective ideologies, but in Thursday I have already just that.

edit: I will say I'm proud of Gregory's gesture. My original conception was to having him point up a finger, mid-tirade. Way too Platonic. This way, he looks more like he's shaking his fist at God!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


My goal is to post something here every day. I'm very late today, but it's still Wednesday on the West Coast. I've been working on this all week and it's finally ready to post:

I did this two-page comic for Steve Fuson (sorry, no website), a writer (and I think artist?) here in Portland whom I met at some random comics get-together. We're submitting it to the zine Stumptown Underground for their "Family"-themed issue coming up in May. I'm pretty confident we'll make the cut, as Steve has been featured in I think every single issue of Stumptown Underground so far.

Steve gave me a good script to work with - very little stage direction aside from dialogue and a camera-angle recommendation for the penultimate panel. If I had one complaint, there is a little too much material on the second page compared to the first, and it's unfortunate that the break in time after David picks Avery up from jail doesn't occur across a page break. Oh well, I don't see away around it and apparently neither did Steve. A two page story is fun for both the writer and artist - you have to get so much information across right away if you are gonna have any chance of telling a complete story.

My big focus for these two pages was "spotting blacks." This is the illustration technique of choosing where to put the large black areas 1.) to direct the reader's eye and 2.) to give form to the objects, suggest light-sources, etc. Even though it's all over the best comics (especially the old black and white ones), it's a frightfully artificial technique.

Think about it. Virtually nothing you see in real life during the daytime is truly jet black, and certainly not shadows, which are generally just a darker shade of whatever color they are falling across, maybe a little more bluish if the light is coming from the sky. When I look at even the best spotted blacks for too long, the scenes start to look as though they were lit by a floodlight on a planet with no atmosphere. But then my eyes pop back into place and I resume my awe of people like Periscope's Jonathan Case, whom I have literally seen color the shaded side of the white sail of a white sailboat on the beach at noon PITCH BLACK and get away with it beautifully. Everyone should buy his forthcoming novel "Dear Creature" (formerly "Sea Freak") if they want to see the true extent of what can be done with these two colors.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Gasp! Now there's a picture of a naked person on the internet! (click for full)

...strange clouds...

On Saturday mornings I've been going to life-drawing sessions at Hipbone Studios. Needless to say, there's no better way to study anatomy. A lot of my sketches look great until I look at them from arm's length and realize the proportions are totally off - I've got to work on keeping the "big picture" in mind even as I'm rendering the details. Betty Edward's Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain has already been of invaluable service in helping to fix this.

The model this Saturday had the high cheekbones I associate with Native Americans, and one of the poses she struck made me think of the classic image of an Indian on a mountain outcrop watching the arrival of the first Europeans. Specifically, it makes me think of the line from Disney's Pochahantas, "... strange clouds..." Hey, if they're from the western hemisphere, it can't be orientalist, right? RIGHT?

Monday, April 19, 2010

BKLYN Recycle

Here's a drawing I did this weekend of the stoop of my old apartment building in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Here is an actual piece of dialogue that transpired on these steps some time in late '06, early '07:

Thug: Heymanyouliketoshmokeitdown?
Everett: What?
Thug: You like to shmokeitdown?
Everett: ... ... ... WHAT?
Thug: Weed, man. Do You Smoke It?
Everett: Oh. No.
Thug: ... seriously?

I'm trying to get better w/ the crow quill pen, but I think I'm going overboard. When every surface is peppered with detail, it all flattens out into an indecipherable mess. Next time, stronger blacks and whites to set off the grays.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

SNitLoE page 51

Part of what I want to do with this blog is get people excited about my up'n'coming graphic novel Savage Nobles in the Land of Enchantment. Many of my new professional comics friends have suggested that at this stage, it's better to work on many small projects than to pour one's self entirely into one big one - this reminds me of friendly advice in American Pie or The 40 Year-Old Virgin, except in this case, they have a good point. But I, still a Biggs or a Carrell at heart, can not take their advice literally. SNitLoE is too close to my heart for too many personal reasons, not least of all being that it's pretty much the only reason I started drawing again in spring of '09. I'm also convinced it's the only reason I even got my internship at Periscope Studios at all. Other than a few of the better Apostrophobia strips, which were four years old, SNitLoE was the only thing I had to prove to the Periscopers I wasn't a total cartooning novice. So while I spend Monday through Friday diligently drawing other stuff, the weekends are still dedicated to documenting the perils of the titular garage band, lost and separated in the endless deserts of southern New Mexico.

I am working through SNitLoE completely in order, one page at a time, and of an anticipated ~150, I have completed 71. In my opinion, that's an antihistamine number (by which I mean, it's nothing to sneeze at!) and if I were gonna give up, i think I would have done it by now. What you're looking at is page 51, one of the classic "lost in the desert" pages I was so excited about drawing . But how did Theo get out there? Why is the ground strewn with music equipment? This is not LOST; I really do have answers. But you'll have to read to find out!

"Fun" "Facts": The bird is the Cactus Finch, state bird of Arizona, whose call really is "cha cha cha." The plant stem is that of the rarely-flowering agave americana. Theo's tattoos (which can be seen more clearly in other panels) feature authentic Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Sanskrit, and Japanese! Maybe the finished comic will suck, but LET NO ONE SAY I DIDN'T DO MY RESEARCH!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

24-Hour Comic

On Saturday, April 10th, I stayed up for 24 hours straight and drew a 24-page comic (that's one page an hour, for those of you keeping track at home)! It was an incredibly intense and exhausting, but also immensely rewarding, "experience," in the most hippie/psychedelic sense of the term. This was at Cosmic Monkey Comics in Portland. About 8-10 other people also participated, although I think only four of us reached the 24-page goal as laid out by Scott McCloud (whom we can credit/blame for devising this perverse past-time).

The art is definitely a little rough around the edges, but the artificial constraints on its production render me invulnerable to criticism! I can excuse bogus anatomy, warped perspective, and spelling errors with the catch-all rebuttal "I was sleep-deprived!" (Clever, huh?)

After catching up on sleep, I also made a fancy cover and back-page image for the printed mini-comic version. Comic below - you can read my irrelevant commentary at the bottom if you still want.

To quote Wayne's World, "let's do the super-happy ending!" This story was based on a screenplay idea hatched years ago by me and roommate Turhan Sarwar. We wanted to pitch it to Disney and envisioned Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the lead role. (I still do.) But was the world ready for a Katrina Komedy?

In 2007, I think the answer was no. But now I'm not so sure. Melancholy is a totally valid reaction to catastrophe, especially in the immediate aftermath, but it is not the only reaction. Some of the sickest, blackest and most hilarious humor comes out of unthinkable tragedy during times of political turmoil etc. It's another way to cope!

Not that FotF is really black humor. If anything, I think it's pretty tame satire, and that approach is potentially even more tasteless. I preemptively apologize to any Gulf Coast readers offended by it. The hurricane let my family off so easy (comparatively) that I truly have no right to complain. I tried to work in an empowering message of triumph through adversity, recovery, etc. etc. that hopefully balances out the questionable humor. I also hope it counteracts what strikes me as a despairing attitude of victimhood in mainstream Katrina-coverage.

I guess I was a little tired of the morose treatment of the storm's legacy by well-intentioned outsider artists. As usual, the South serves as a vessel for the rest of the nation's angst - nothing new there. I have been away from the Crescent City for most of the rebuilding process, and so I don't exactly have my finger on the pulse, but something tells me that the city that invented jazz funerals has a more nuanced view of what it means to pull through a disaster.

Let There Be Art Blog

Much smarter people than me (namely, the wonderful artists at Periscope Studios in Portland, OR, where I am interning) have suggested that I start a blog to show my art. You ought to have some kind of web presence, they say, and a blog is preferable to a typical gallery site for this reason: a potentially intere$ted per$on who reads your blog knows how recently and how frequently you are coming out with new art, and can easily trace your improvement. A gallery site only shows that at some point sometime in the past you did some art. For all the gallery reader knows, you haven't done anything new in years

Which for me was sadly true, for a few years after college anyway. But 2010 has brought a new period of unprecedented productivity which I might as well share with the world. Read this blog to see what I've drawn recently. For all my eagerly waiting fans (I know you're out there), I'll also be posting occasional sneak previews of my still-in-progress "graphic novel," Savage Nobles in the Land of Enchantment.

To kick things off, here's a drawing from about a week and a half ago, "Temptation."

What I like about it: My first use of hugely popular grayscale markers was not a complete disaster, mainly because I limited myself to only two. This was also the first time I did a digital layout for a drawing. (I printed that out, penciled over it, scanned that, printed it out in non-repro blue, and inked that. Phew! Don't think I could do that every time!) The goat-face was directly inspired by my favorite art-blogger, James Gurney.

What I don't like: I wasn't sure, but Periscope "floating assistant" (i.e. power behind the throne) Ben Dewey almost immediately spotted the essential problem with this type of image. An intentionally flat "stained-glass"-style layout, however appropriate to the subject matter, jives poorly with the minor hints of three-dimensionality and modern perspective (on the chair, the censer, etc.) Better to go with one or the other. Also, the chair is jabbing the demon's armpit.

My church choir makes us launder our own robes, which gave me the opportunity for photo-reference!


Stay tuned!
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