Thursday, June 30, 2011

Heat Rises

Boy oh boy did it feel good to draw something other than Savage Nobles in the Land of Enchantment, I can't even begin to tell ya. This comic is for the "Summer" issue of Stumptown Underground and draws heavily on my own personal experience living in Brooklyn 4th-floor walk-up apartment during the summer of 2007.

Following the lead of Benjamin Dewey, here are my thumbnails (more like toenails!) for those of you interested in my, ahem, process. A big, special thanks to everyone at Barry Deutch's Graphic Writers' Workgroup for looking these over. They gave me the idea to add the scent-lines on page one, and the idea to make the protagonist black. Guys, if you read this and notice I didn't take your other suggestions, it's not because they were bad! It's because I'm stubborn!

Aside from personal experience, my main inspiration for this comic was Will Eisner, the man who evoked New York City, in all its glitz and gristle, better than any cartoonist ever has or ever will. Eisner's short-story anthology, "New York: The Big City" undoubtedly did more to get me into comics than any other book. Will Eisner also drew the world's most beautiful picture of a pile of uncollected garbage. Look at this:

Without any irony, I can call that beautiful. I can only dream of one day handling graywash the way Eisner did.

To close things out, here's my number one summer jam. There are a lot of songs that remind me of summer in New York City (i.e. pretty much any track on Sublime's self-titled album, a perennial campus favorite on the first warm day of the year), but this song by is actually about summer in New York City! Read my comic again while listening to this!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2028 Tonya Sketch

When I wrote the script for Savage Nobles in the Land of Enchantment back in the spring of 2009, I specified that in the final scenes Tonya should be wearing "a sort of ninja-guerilla-superhero-Zorro costume." It became my task two years later to interpret what the heck I meant by this, so before drawing page 170 I did a preliminary costume design:

Even though this was a pretty rapid sketch, I'm pleased with how it turned out. The outlandish costume and hair is a good foil for Sen. Greg's new straight-laced look. The posture is believable and the proportions are a lot more naturalistic than one can usually expect from me. I've actually had to be a consciously cartoonier in the finished artwork for the sake of consistency.

My main regret is that at some point while drawing this the ol' hormones must have taken over, because I made Tonya look sexier than she's really supposed to be. (What's with those gams? And isn't she supposed to be 43?) I always intended Tonya to be a proxy for the reader, a sympathetic punk rock everywoman with real life dreams and problems etc., and I think making her a super-hot babe gets in the way of this. I worry that on certain pages of the comic, especially as my own knowledge of constructive anatomy improved, I probably lapsed into some unwarranted horndoggery, and if so I apologize. That's also a betrayal my own principles: DC and Marvel's ridiculous body imagery and unrealizable physical ideals, both masculine and feminine, were a huge part of what repelled me from reading any comics whatsoever for most of my righteous teenage years... and a desire to smash these norms is part of what brought me back to comics in my mid twenties.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I Am So Great

I just finished what I consider to be a particularly good page of Savage Nobles in the Land of Enchantment, maybe one of the best. Not counting thumbnails, I did the entire page from start to finish in one day - actually just about 7-8 hours if you subtract all the time I spent singing in choir, hackey-sacking in the park, applying online for unemployment compensation, and queuing at the Department of Health and Human Services.

(please click the image to see the full-sized version!)

Though I am pleased with almost every aspect of this page (the page layout; the blocking of the figures; the human anatomy, gesture, and costume; the sweet but not saccharine tone, lightened by a little humor; the foreshadowing of Manaka's concerned glance) there are, as always, things I wish I could do better. Pro-inker Gary Martin, who graciously carved me a brand new anus while reviewing my portfolio at this year's Stumptown Comics Fest, wants me to focus on my line weight. So although I was already trying to use heavier lines opposite my light source, I'm trying even harder now - it worked pretty well on Theo's face in panel 4. I don't necessarily want the uber-slick look of some of Gary's (admittedly amazing) inking for my own comics, but even if I ultimately opt for a smudgier/sloppier treatment, it's still a skill I should have under my belt. Some of my lines, I think, are still way too thin, and I am still struggling with ways to create grays - my crosshatching is hopelessly haphazard and 165 pages later I am still smearing my drybrush all over the place inadvisedly.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Figure Drawing with Periscopers!

I went by Periscope Studio on Wednesday night for a figure drawing session they organized. Surrounded by the greats, it was pretty dang intimidating!

Great model! Though I'm feeling a little rusty. When SNitLoE is done, I wanna get back into figure-drawing regularly.

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