Jan 2, 2017 #inking #comics #storytelling

It's going to take a minute to get used to writing a 7 rather than a 6... Anyway, here's a little bit of inking talk.

So after the pencils have been laid down, the FUN begins! With this particular story I decided the wavy lines of hand drawn borders would add to the rugged bare bones-ness I was looking for, so I drew the panel borders freehand with a pen. Generally I avoid using a pen whenever possible, as I'm a diehard brush man. I also tend to avoid using white paint, and prefer to establish negative space while laying down the blacks. Here, though, I used the white paint to do the razor wire - then wondered why I didn't use it more - before putting it back in the drawer to be not used again. Most of the textures I like to implement while inking were established by the '50s by masters like Jack Davis, Will Eisner, Wally Wood, etc. O'Barr and I share a deep love and respect for the old EC war books, TWO-FISTED TALES and FRONTLINE COMBAT, and wanted to emulate that feel with this puppy. So in the snow, rather than leaving it pure white space, I couldn't resist putting in a few wavy Kurtzman lines to signify clumps; most of my lighting techniques are ripped off from old Spirit books. In fact, there might not be anything original on this page! Ah, wise King Solomon was right. HOWEVER - it's all about using what works to tell the story you're telling. Hopefully this portrays the kind of grit and gruel we were going for. After the inks are down I erased those damned pencil lines and scanned the page in, usually at least 400 dpi, and submit it to the editor. Hopefully they like it! No, hopefully it blows their minds. I think our editor on this was nervous but kind about it.

So after the pencils have been laid down, the FUN begins! With this particular story I decided the wavy lines of hand drawn borders would add to the rugged bare bones-ness I was looking for, so I drew the panel borders freehand with a pen. Generally I avoid using a pen whenever possible, as I'm a diehard brush man. I also tend to avoid using white paint, and prefer to establish negative space while laying down the blacks. Here, though, I used the white paint to do the razor wire - then wondered why I didn't use it more - before putting it back in the drawer to be not used again.

Most of the textures I like to implement while inking were established by the '50s by masters like Jack Davis, Will Eisner, Wally Wood, etc. O'Barr and I share a deep love and respect for the old EC war books, TWO-FISTED TALES and FRONTLINE COMBAT, and wanted to emulate that feel with this puppy. So in the snow, rather than leaving it pure white space, I couldn't resist putting in a few wavy Kurtzman lines to signify clumps; most of my lighting techniques are ripped off from old Spirit books. In fact, there might not be anything original on this page! Ah, wise King Solomon was right. HOWEVER - it's all about using what works to tell the story you're telling. Hopefully this portrays the kind of grit and gruel we were going for.

After the inks are down I erased those damned pencil lines and scanned the page in, usually at least 400 dpi, and submit it to the editor. Hopefully they like it! No, hopefully it blows their minds. I think our editor on this was nervous but kind about it.

Dec 29, 2016 I'm A Terrible Blogger #pencilling #comics #art

If anyone is paying attention, you must have realized by now that I'm awful at "blogging". Most likely I've been dispensing my personal brand of wit and wisdom through other various "social media outlets", and hopefully you've found me on one of the 3 I frequent. If not, MY BAD.

Anyhoo, Christmas has come and gone and now the New Year is upon us. Been a miserable ride for most of the world lately, and I won't get into my personal opinions here (most of you know how I feel about things anyway), but I'll try and post some more art as the New Year progresses. After all, it's about all we've got left! (Slipped an opinion in there)

So here is the 2nd level of page creation (according to my process, 3rd if I wasn't writing the page)... THE PENCILS! In this particular instance I worked on 100lb Bristol paper, unlined. I'd recommend using a better quality paper if you can, I worked with what I could afford here at the time. In the end I don't think it makes much of a difference other than finesse and time (I've heard stories that the paper Jack Kirby used was so cheap and pulpy that a certain inker had to literally IRON them down before he could lay any ink), so use what you can afford! At this time I was using a regular old #2 pencil, like the one us old fogies used to fill in "Scantron®" tests, because I didn't know any better. These days I use a blue pencil, which saves an incredible amount of time due to NOT ERASING. I can't tell you the hours spent erasing after inking, then having to clean it more in photoshop when it'd been scanned. With the blue pencil it's a matter of erasing the blue lines in the computer, and poof! they're gone. But again, here I was just using a standard pencil. As you can see here, I went ahead and wrote the lettering in there. The publisher was a little taken aback by this, as it is far from standard these days to include letters in the art, but that's the only way I knew how to do these things. I felt (and still do) that it's part of the composition and should be treated as such, and thankfully (with the weight of O'Barr behind me) the publisher accepted this with no problem at all. I just wish I were better at it. So now it's all laid out (I darkened them in photoshop for the publisher's sake) and ready for ink! Yay!

So here is the 2nd level of page creation (according to my process, 3rd if I wasn't writing the page)... THE PENCILS! In this particular instance I worked on 100lb Bristol paper, unlined. I'd recommend using a better quality paper if you can, I worked with what I could afford here at the time. In the end I don't think it makes much of a difference other than finesse and time (I've heard stories that the paper Jack Kirby used was so cheap and pulpy that a certain inker had to literally IRON them down before he could lay any ink), so use what you can afford!

At this time I was using a regular old #2 pencil, like the one us old fogies used to fill in "Scantron®" tests, because I didn't know any better. These days I use a blue pencil, which saves an incredible amount of time due to NOT ERASING. I can't tell you the hours spent erasing after inking, then having to clean it more in photoshop when it'd been scanned. With the blue pencil it's a matter of erasing the blue lines in the computer, and poof! they're gone. But again, here I was just using a standard pencil.

As you can see here, I went ahead and wrote the lettering in there. The publisher was a little taken aback by this, as it is far from standard these days to include letters in the art, but that's the only way I knew how to do these things. I felt (and still do) that it's part of the composition and should be treated as such, and thankfully (with the weight of O'Barr behind me) the publisher accepted this with no problem at all. I just wish I were better at it.

So now it's all laid out (I darkened them in photoshop for the publisher's sake) and ready for ink! Yay!

Nov 18, 2016

I'm not sure what I have this blog for, since I have facebook, twitter and instagram accounts, but I'm going to figure it out. Perhaps it would be a good place to share information on my process rather than to simply showcase art. The art is floating about, and it's bound to settle somewhere on this site, so I think I'd like to use this blog to explain some of the things about comic art and storytelling that I've learned in my limited time. For the now, here's an example of my "breakdowns".

This is from the very first page of "THE CROW: SKINNING THE WOLVES", and it's unique in that James gave me plenty of freedom in the storytelling. I detailed the process in the trade paperback, but I'll try and go through it a little more here. This is how I usually approach a page. I find a piece of scrap paper and work it out in ballpoint or pen; no pencils, otherwise I'd be inclined to perfect it and that's not the point. For me the breakdowns are from the gut, and the fine tuning comes later. If I'm responsible for dialog I'll write it in the side and use loose balloons in the panel to try and make it work with the composition of the art. This page is a little bit of a cheat, as it's really a "splash" broken down into panels to signify a camera move. The idea is to start with the snowflake and the eye follows it down, presumably into this hand, which (reading left to right), follows with a pan over to the soldier with his weapon at the ready.

This is from the very first page of "THE CROW: SKINNING THE WOLVES", and it's unique in that James gave me plenty of freedom in the storytelling. I detailed the process in the trade paperback, but I'll try and go through it a little more here.

This is how I usually approach a page. I find a piece of scrap paper and work it out in ballpoint or pen; no pencils, otherwise I'd be inclined to perfect it and that's not the point. For me the breakdowns are from the gut, and the fine tuning comes later. If I'm responsible for dialog I'll write it in the side and use loose balloons in the panel to try and make it work with the composition of the art. This page is a little bit of a cheat, as it's really a "splash" broken down into panels to signify a camera move. The idea is to start with the snowflake and the eye follows it down, presumably into this hand, which (reading left to right), follows with a pan over to the soldier with his weapon at the ready.

On Standing Rock #NoDAPL #Mni Wiconi #waterislife

I haven't drawn anything all week. In fact, I brought a sketchbook with me on my trip to North Dakota and I didn't touch it once. Barely looked at my phone. I went up there with a couple of my sisters to drop off the few supplies we could figure to bring and help out any way we could with the Standing Rock Sioux and their struggle against the pipeline. I knew we were only going to be there long enough to drop the stuff off, check things out, and come back home.

I feel guilty that I'm not still there.

If you don't know what's going on, here it is in a nutshell: A pipeline is being built on disputed land. It was supposed to go through Bismarck but Bismarck didn't want that poison near them, so they brought it right up to the edge of the Standing Rock Reservation. The land it's going through is, according to the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851, Sioux land. They're building it anyway. The Sioux camped out in its way and were met with billy clubs, sonic weapons, tear gas, rubber bullets, bean bag guns, mace, arrest, attack dogs and more. There are currently over 250 tribes camped out there, along with all types from all over the world. The Dakota Access Pipe Line (DAPL) has the Sheriff's Dept, local police, National Guard and militarized mercenaries in the form of "security" there to get them to move.

The Governor who dispatched the National Guard has stock in the pipeline. So does the Sheriff. So does Donald Trump, apparently to the tune of some $100,000,000 or so. President Obama and all the Federal constituencies have stood back, saying essentially to "ride it out, see what happens".

And that oil? We'll never see it. It's to be sold to foreign interests.

The Sioux and their relatives on the camp call it not a protest but "protection" of Earth. If that pipeline ruptures (which is almost a guarantee) it will contaminate an aquifer that supplies water to the entire Midwest. The ENTIRE MIDWEST. That includes the Mississippi, all the way down to the Gulf Of Mexico.

These guys are digging their heels in, and the cold weather is around the corner. Trump's announcement of Presidency is not a good sign. President Obama's indifference is not a good sign. The enormous amount of power behind the pipeline is mind boggling. But these folks are digging in for a long winter, no matter what.

I stopped up there for two days to drop off winter gear and some solar stuff I'd been able to put together, along with some other junk I hope they needed. I planned on dropping it off and turning around, but we stuck around for a couple days and I saw things, beautiful things, heard amazing things, that I will take with me forever. Also saw some rugged, scary things.

I saw the sniper aiming at my face from the disputed bridge, saw the ATVs at the hilltop keeping the buffalo in a barbed wire confinement without food or water. I heard the helicopter in the "no fly zone", buzzing over the camp into the early morning, and the constant droning of a plane with no lights flying above, while everyone's phone mysteriously goes crazy. I saw the massive SWAT vehicle with the sonic weapon on its roof, the barbed wire, the men on the hillside watching us through binoculars or scopes.

I listened to stories about the raid, when they pulled men and women out of teepees and sacred sweat lodges near naked and after arresting them confined them to what were essentially dog kennels. I heard about the sacred items that were smashed, urinated and defecated on, and left on the side of the road in a pile. I heard many, many things.

There were other things I saw and heard, like the Elders during the morning prayer talk of possible infiltrators from DAPL. They told us, "If you see someone suspicious, invite him to sit by the fire and have a cup of coffee. Talk to him." TALK TO HIM. He told us about the cycle, and that our ancestors have been through worse, and this was our time. He said things that make my eyes well up even now, thinking about it. He called everyone his relatives. All were welcome at the camp, no matter race, religion, or sexual orientation. Weapons, alcohol and drugs were not. The slogan, heard passionately yelled out from time to time, is Mni Wiconi. "Water Is Life". It felt like a final stand for things beyond my comprehension and way beyond my control. Everyone was united for the purpose of protecting the water, the earth, the future.

Never have I been anywhere like that place. I am half Irish, half Ho-Chunk and I don't talk about it often because it's been a complicated part of my life and introduces uncomfortable conversations that I usually just don't want to deal with. But being in that camp made me realize some things. We ARE all brothers and sisters. This planet IS sacred, and we MUST do what we can to protect it. And if you feel, if you KNOW in your heart that what you are doing is true and good, you can be fearless in the face of anything. I've SEEN it.

I wanted to share that last part with you because we are living in a time of massive change. If I spend more than 5 minutes on social media I'm convinced we're all doomed. Even now I have a nugget of discomfort in my belly, and hopelessness creeps up. What I felt out there in Standing Rock was a oneness that I've never experienced before, a singleness of purpose that was so simple and so profound that it seemed to encapsulate every problem in the world and solve it for me as well. Protect the earth. Love each other. If I know in my heart that I am doing what is good and true, and harming no one, I can be fearless.

By no means am I perfect. I'm a grumpy, angry man with more character defects than I can list here without turning it into a Tolstoy novel. But I felt a strange hope for the first time in a WHILE up there. Not hope that everything's going to be okay, because it probably won't. Hope that just doing the right thing will lift this pain, this fear, this hate. That loving my fellows (as well as I can), loving the earth, will justify me in a way that goes beyond the material world.

Next week will be a tough one for the folks up there, and they can use your help. My suggestion would be to contribute to their Legal Defense Fund, because it's a pretty much guaranteed arrest to go against that law enforcement. If you can donate any kind of cold weather gear, that would be helpful as well. Here's their website, which has all the ways you can help:

http://standingrock.org/

Sorry for the long "blog", but I've been chewing on this for a while. I hope I can be, in the future days, nearly as good as I saw them be. I hope I can sustain the vitality they gave me in the face of the adversity to come. I hope I can be a good guy.

Nov 2, 2016

Welp, it's been a weird year and much of the weirdness will be coming to a head soon! I'm trying not to let all the outside weirdness hit me too hard, and you should do the same! Inner weirdness is about all I can handle most of the time, and it's usually spilling over the side of the cup anyway. Weird!

On a non-weird note, I am finally going to open up a little store on the site here, and sell a few original pieces a month through it. So if you've always wanted some original art here is the place, soon is the time!

Here's some weird art to occupy you in the meanwhile.

10/22/16 #inktober

Well, folks, it has been a while since I posted anything here on the ol' website, and a lot has transpired. Went to NYCC and had a great time, met some incredible comics fans and got to hang out in that indescribable city for a bit, then went to the opposite end of the country for an insane concert in the middle of the desert. I then returned to Chicago and have been sick ever since! Also came home to about $350 in parking tickets because Chicago wanted me to stay humble, I suppose. Ah well, now it's finally back to work time and aside from a few tasty things brewing on the old burner I've reinvested myself into a project that constantly lingers in the back of my mind.

Here's a little sample of one of the new characters, BARRGOTH.

9-9-16 #CincyComiCon!!!!

Hey folks, just getting the truck packed up to roll on down to CincyComiCon in Cincinnati! I'll have original art (including sequential pages), books, prints, and I'll be doing a few commissions as well. I love this show, as it is stuffed to the gills with folks much more talented than myself and I've left it feeling inspired and revved up. Swing on out and support a show about COMICS and the people who make them!

Here's some art. I'll have the original there if you want to check it out.

8/24/16

So I'm just gearing up for CinciComicon, coming up soon Sept. 9-11. I'll have original art, graphic novels, and prints for sale as well as a sketch list. If you'd like a pre-show commission hit me up here! In the meanwhile, here's a western/horror illo just for kicks.

8/18/16 Whoa, how did it get so late?

Well, it's been a month or two, sorry for being such a slack! I've been chugging away at some projects and hitting deadlines, so here's a little something: The hermit is coming out of his hobbit hole and will be appearing at the Cincy Comicon Sept. 9-11. Yeah! Here's a link: www.cincycomicon.com Hope to see youz all there. In the meanwhile, a little Coma D:

6/19/16 Once more, with color

I've always been a little odd about Father's Day. I will always love my old man, but ours was a complicated relationship, and looking for a Hallmark card for Father's Day always left me feeling jaded and cold. He's gone now, and not surprisingly I find myself dealing with this day in a new, strange type way. I won't say I took him for granted when he was here, because I don't think I did - but I'll say I miss him now that he's gone in ways unexpected. If you've got a complicated relationship with your old man, try to keep that in mind. If you've got one of those weird fantastic relationships, let him know you appreciate that. And to you new pops out there, do better, even if yours was the best. Happy Father's Day!

On a different note, here's a drawing of a boar monster.

5/30/16

Happy Memorial Day, folks. I'll be thinking of those who've sacrificed for their fellows today, and working on a war book that I can discuss more down the road. In the meanwhile, here's me trying another Gollum, this time with a little watercolor. Have a great day.

5/18/16 Gollum! Gollum!

Working on something for down the road, and was reading Fantagraphic's excellent collection of John Severin (and Will Elder) work BOMB RUN last night for a little inspiration. Instead, it utterly flattened me. The art, combined with Harvey Kurtzman's unparalleled storytelling, inspired and dejected me at the same time. If you're interested in a master class of comic storytelling, pick up BOMB RUN ASAP. In the meanwhile, here's my daily doodle:

5/2/16 Things in the pipeline

This weekend is Free Comic Book Day! There are tons of comic shops participating, and I encourage you to swing by your local shop to see what they've got going. I know that here in Chicago many have signings and specials as well as the usual FCBD goodies.

As for this hombre, my FCBD plans went askew. ANYway, there are some things brewing on the ol' stove that are pretty exciting but I'll not discuss them until they're more concrete. Right now I'm trying to focus on work despite the hand-shaking anticipation I'm enduring until I get to see CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR on Thursday. Really, Marvel? Releasing a Captain America film overseas before here? Shame on you! I need to see it now!

Here's a drawing.

4/25/16 A GREAT WEEKEND #AWYEAHCOMICS #SIDESHOWGALLERY

Monday, back to work after a nice weekend. The folks at Aw Yeah Comics in Skokie are fantastic! I'll admit I felt a little out of place in such a family friendly environment, and squirmed when kids would stutter in fear at the gore and horror in my portfolio... but they need to toughen up sooner or later and get with the cool stuff! Regardless, much thanks to those folks who stopped by and especially to the fantastic crew at Aw Yeah.

Sideshow Gallery was a smash, from what I saw. Anne and the team there put on a great show and the second I walked in I knew why I always feel so at home there. The art in the Mythical Creatures show was jaw dropping, congrats to all who participated.

This was long winded, so here's a cowboy getting shot with an arrow.

4/20/16 #Godzilla! Awe Yeah Mini-Con! Sideshow Gallery!

Folks, just want to let you know a couple things going on this weekend: I'll be at AWE YEAH COMICS in Skokie on Saturday! Part of their Awe Yeah Mini-con, it's seriously one of the best groups of people you could hope to meet and I'm looking forward to it.

Also, I'll have a piece in THE SIDESHOW GALLERY's "Mythical Creatures" show, which opens on April 23 from 7-11 at 2219 N Western, Chicago. Even if you don't make the show, stop by their shop - it's super bad ass.

Hope to see you at one of these! In the meanwhile, here's Godzilla.