Saturday, February 28, 2015

100 Days of Making Comics Day 9:...Pencils, Schmencils

Howdy folks!

I'm a little late on the post this morning because I slept in and had a nice waffle breakfast with the family on this fine Saturday morning. Yesterday I began the pencils to my comic.  In case I didn't mention this before, I'm teaching myself Manga Studio 5 as I go. While I did the thumbnails and roughs in this program I really hadn't gotten the flavor of the tools until I started penciling.  Can I just say...OH...MY...GOD!

Where has Manga Studio been all my life?  Some people don't like digital because it doesn't have the same feel and control of real media.  I totally get that.  Even if the tools today behave more like real media, using a table is like drawing on glass...yeah, you can get different nibs but it's still not the same. Since I was never great with regular media this didn't bother me. I figured I'd have a learning curve with real media or digital so why not just do digital so I can take advantage of the undo and other benefits.

I'd always used Photoshop since the first edition 25 years ago. It's great and does the job but it's never been like real media. It's gotten better but I think Sketchbook Pro and Painter are better.  Painter is ridiculously complicated and Sketchbook Pro is too simple for anything but sketching. Manga Studio 5 however hit the sweet spot!  5 minutes into drawing with Manga Studio and I could already tell it made me a better inker because I was using better tools. I like the pens so much that I plan to scrap the pencils entirely.  Since I can erase ink in digital, why even bother with the pencils? If you are really good in traditional media I'm not sure these tools will be for you, but if you're willing to accept the difference in feel and the learning curve it takes to use them, they will knock your socks off.  You can even ink in vectors, which allows you to move lines independently once you draw them! Unlike pixel ink where all lines are connected, vector looks the same but allows each line to be altered separately! That's pretty amazing stuff.

Anyway, enough gushing over Manga Studio.  I'll make reports throughout my journey. I think I'm going to spring for the EX version has perspective rulers that are supposed to be phenomenal and I could really use those.

Only got about 30-45min in yesterday but plan to put a lot more time in this weekend.  Enjoy your Saturday everyone and thanks for checking in.

Friday, February 27, 2015

100 Days of Making Comics: Day 8...Roughs Complete

Happy Friday everyone and an a Great Day 8 for me in the 100 Days of Making Comics challenge!

For those of you who don't know, I'm a week into a 100 day challenge, where I spend at least 30 minutes a day working on a personal comic project. For my challenge, I've chosen to rewrite and draw an ashcan comic I made in the early 90's called The Caped Sphincter...a superhero farce about a big butt in a cape. I'm taking what was a two issue book (I only ever finished issue 1) and making it as a 4 issue mini-comic (5.25" x 8.25") of 12 pages each. Last time was B&W and this time I'm going full color with it. It should be better than the original book when I'm done but don't expect anything too serious and we should all have a good time.

That being said, I'm pleased to announce that Issue 1 is completely roughed! I'm so happy because now I can get down to work doing the fun stuff...PENCILS! I put about 2.5 hours in yesterday to finish roughing out the last 3 pages of the book. We had some snow here in Baltimore so I worked from home for half a day and then called out for the rest. In hindsight I would have been better off going to work but I don't like to take chances when it comes to snow...turned out to be only an inch! Should have gone in but what are you going to do? Can't predict the weather so I made the most of it and spent some time on my own stuff.

Pencils are such a good way to start off this weekend. Enjoy your Friday everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

100 Days of Making Comics: Day 7...Spider Gwen

Good morning guys and gals.  Day 7 here in the 100DMC challenge and I'm feeling good. I took a little break yesterday to draw Spider Gwen (the Sketch Dailies prompt of the day).

For those of you unfamiliar, tweets a daily sketch prompt and if they like your work they'll retweet it and post it to their website. I enjoy their site for practicing drawing and to see all the inspirational work other people do. I was originally hoping to get some exposure for my comics with the occasional RT and post to their site but that doesn't happen for me. Maybe you'll have better luck. Even still, I do like the prompts and seeing the artwork of others. So try them out. Lots of crazy good artists post work there and the prompts are usually pop culture related and fun.

I feel a little bad that I spent two hours on Spider Gwen (yes, I'm that slow!) because that's two hours I could have spent on my comic but I did put in 45 min - 1 hour yesterday morning and felt a little burnt out last night after work. I gave myself a pass to have some fun and I feel like I need to post some sort of content while I'm doing this 100DMC....most visitors are here for the gag cartoons but their could be some people who've enjoyed my sketches (My mom likes them! Take that Sketch Dailies!).

Seriously though, I think I need to sprinkle in some non 100DMC stuff from time to time.  I know I don't get many visitors to this site but the ones I do get, I value dearly and I'd like to make those fans happy.  It's a balancing act.

The 100DMC is going great. I'm starting the roughs for PG9 today, which means only 4 more pages of roughs and I can get down to drawing!! I'm very excited about that.  I can't crank the music and zone out while I'm writing, scripting and roughing out the comic.  I miss the music while I work. It's much more important to my creative process than I realized.  It keeps me energized!

So that's it for today's update.  Thank you so much for stopping by. See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

100 Days of Making Comics: Day 6...Over Half Roughed!

Good morning fine people! First let me say thanks for all the support and interest in this journey. My humble blog is getting around 30 visits a day. That number is laughable to most professional cartoonists I'm sure but for me it's over double what I'd been getting which means somebody is interested. Thank you!  It really helps keep me motivated.

I'm on Day 6 of the 100 DMC and I already have a greater appreciation for those who've gone before me in this challenge, as well as those who make comics for a living. This is not easy. Putting it all on the internet has made me second guess everything. What was once a great little comic of my youth has now been put under the scrutiny of my adult eye, and makes me nervous to tell you the truth. I'm use to drawing strip/gag comics and doing a full book is a completely different animal. Sure I can draw the panels, but there is so much more that goes into a comic book. So much more writing and prep work that goes into it before you can get to the fun stuff of drawing and coloring.

I'm eager to get to that part of it so I've been trying to get more than 30 minutes in when I can. I put in about 1.5 hours yesterday and I've got Issue 1 roughed out through PG7. I was able to cut and paste a few of the old panels from the 1996 book to serve as roughs which saved some time.  I plan to re-draw the whole book but essentially those panels have the same action in them so why redraw the rough?

I won't be able to cut such corners when I get to issues 3 & 4 so I might as well take advantage when I can.  More roughs on tap for today!  See you all tomorrow with the next update.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

100 Days of Making Comics: Day 5...Painting the House

I'm 5 days into the 100DMC challenge and I can compare my experience to that of painting the house. If you've ever painted a room and you're like me, you think of rolling the walls and are like, "Oh yeah, that's not so bad! I'll knock this room out in no time!"  The reality is you have to first clean up all your kids toys, move the furniture into the center of the room, tape edges, edge in with a small brush, THEN roll...wait, do it all again and then put everything back together when your done. It's a lot of small details that no one thinks about but if you don't do them, it will show in the end.

That's pretty much like making a comic and where I'm at now. Prep work...or laying the foundation to do a good job.  Spent about 45 minutes yesterday before work and got hung up on PG4 dialog while doing the roughs.  I think I got that where I want it for now, so today I hope to get at least one more page of roughs....MORE hopefully.

Yesterday was the first time I spent close to the minimum of 30 min. It is no where near enough time to suit me and I'm going to try and put in more whenever possible.

The other thing I found out is writing takes my undivided concentration. When I make comics I like to have music on. I can't do that when I write. That's a bummer I hadn't planned for, but all the more incentive to get it over with so I can get on to the good stuff!!

Thanks for tuning in! Please stay tuned and bear with me until I get some drawing up!

Monday, February 23, 2015

100 Days of Making Comics: Day 4...Roughs

Day 4 of the 100DMC and I'm feeling pretty good about the story restructure. I got to spend about an hour yesterday on the thumbnails. I reorganized the story to have better page turns, reveals and flow. The dialog is going to need a major overhaul. Some of it is pretty bad.That's the toughest obstacle I foresee during the roughs now.

I'd show the thumbs but they are so bad, they'd be meaningless to anyone other than myself. I know what is supposed to transpire on each page and how the panels are going to lay out but that's about it. Sketching is minimal and there's little dialog if any. I'll write the dialog to fit the space as I draw the roughs.

I'm not sure I'd recommend this process to anyone, nor do I think I'll be this lose on any future comics but since I have the old work to go by I feel like I can cut some corners. I'm anxious to get beyond the roughs and start the pencils. Just have to be careful not to rush things now. I know the foundation is important and I don't want this whole project crashing down on my head by issue 3.

Today, the roughs!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

100 Days of Making Comics: Day 3... Ashcan

Got a bright and early start on today's 100DMC, thanks to having to change a wet diaper on my two year old....she and mom are nestled back in bed and I'm in my subterranean, snow-covered lair working on the comic.

Yesterday I gave you all the back story. Today I'll give the plan and progress report so far.

After scrutinizing the old book, Issue 1 has to be completely reworked.  I'm still very proud of it but it's by no means professional caliber. I've found it to be filled with too much explain-o copy and the plot structure could be reordered to provide more mystery and entertainment value for the reader. For the fans of the old book, there will be no drastic changes to any of the characters or plot so you should still be pleased. Also none of the art is being reused (except maybe the cover image). When I'm done I'll have a new telling of the story with all new art. You'll also get the conclusion to the work I finished 20 years ago (Sorry to leave you hanging!) Hopefully new and old fans will be happy when it's over.

Besides the structural changes I'm making, I've also decided to make a format change.  Issue one was an "Ashcan" format. Hopefully I'm using the term correctly.  Basically copy paper folded in half and saddle's a very rudimentary format that works well for self publishing on the cheap. The new format will use modern comic book proportions but instead of 2, 22-24 page issues I'm coping the story up into 4, 12 page issues.  This will allow me to get output to you guys quicker. Also, I think it can be scaled down to fit this format (5.25 x 8.25).

I saw this book on free comic book day and I really liked the look of it. Didn't care for the story much but the art and subject matter grabbed my attention, then I looked at the construction and liked that as well. Seemed like a nice size and manageable chunk for somebody doing an entire book on their own.

That's the plan and the progress has been good. Logged about 3.5 hours in over the first 2 days.  Roughed out the first 3 pages before I figured out I was going to change the story structure. Now I've gone back to make thumbnails. I'm not using a script: Writing as I make the thumbs...I got the first two books to go off of but even then I didn't script it ahead of time. Making it up as I go like Keyser Söze!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

100 Days of Making Comics: Day 2...

Welcome back! Day 2 in the 100DMC as I'm now going to call it.

So, yesterday was the big announcement that I'm diving headfirst into the pool. I'm setting to work on The Caped Sphincter. I read through the old book and did some planning stuff. That's about it.

Since you're probably wondering to yourself, "Why would you make a comic about an ass in a cape?" I'll tell you. Because it's absurd. I like absurd comedy. If you want something deeper: this book is a not so subtle jab at establishment superhero books and I enjoy flipping the establishment the bird.

Don't get me wrong, I love superhero comics and still collect Spider-Man and Batman today. Old comics will always be more dear to me but I know that's only nostalgia speaking. If I were born today, this would be the stuff I like. Superhero comics haven't really changed much. Sure it's ridiculous and repetitive but that's why I love them. That and the art. The big named artists and characters are well deserving of the praise they get but I think putting them on a pedestal and worshiping them at conventions is pretty nuts. At the end of the day we're all just making funny books about guys in tights involved in Sisyphean struggles with other guys in tights. Let's not take it too seriously.

I'd like to think the deeper meaning was why I made The Caped Sphincter but it's not. One day around 1992 a couple of friends (Jason and Shawn Cusick) and I were reeeeally bored and having a slouch in their parent's living room. One of us called another one a name, that guy built off part of that name and called the other guy something and it went around the horn until somebody got stuck. Jason was odd man out when he got tagged with "sphincter". Best he could come back with was calling Shawn "a caped sphincter." His loss was so bad and we made so much fun of him for not coming up with something better, I went home and drew a comic of a giant ass in a cape, entitled The Caped Sphincter.  He made another appearance in some of my earlier comics but just sat in a drawer until 1996 when I made the book you saw the photo of yesterday.

I've always thought of myself as a comic strip artist and not a comic book artist. However, it was the mid 90's. Comic books were big and I figured, I'd have a go at a book. Who better to star in it than The Caped Sphincter?  Without much planning or study or even a script I just got some comic book artist boards and started drawing it.  It ended up being a 2 issue story arc of 22-24 pages each. I got the first one completely inked and printed it up at Staples, and somehow sold 25 of the 50 issues I'd made. Not bad! It was just a local shop and most people just took a copy out of charity I'm sure but it was fun.  I managed to finish penciling the 2nd issue but I got a real job as a graphic designer, the comic book industry was tanking and my local shop closed up.  That was all she wrote for The Caped Sphincter.

Here we are now, coming up on the 20 year anniversary. I see what fun all these indie comics guys are having with the 100DMC and I figure the time is right for The Caped Sphincter to make his return!

Tomorrow, I'll detail that plan for you.  Today, I'm putting pen to tablet.  LET'S DO THIS THING!!

Friday, February 20, 2015

100 Days of Making Comics: Day 1

Good morning, fans of my comics.... and what I fine morning it is.  I'm back among the living!

Last weekend I planned a 5 day weekend to work on some comics projects, investigate a way to make some side money and finally learn Manga studio. What happened instead was I got deathly sick, spent 4 days in bed and the 5th, my daughter's preschool had no heat so I spent the day with her....oh...for...FIVE.

That gave me a lot of time to think and what I thunk is that I'm joining the fine comic book makers who came before me in taking The 100 Days of Making Comics challenge. You can check out all those who completed it here at their website.

What is The 100 Days of Making Comics challenge? Well, first you grab a bucket of ice water and dump it on your head and when you come back I'll tell you. All done? Good job...100 days isn't about curing ALS and I don't even think it's technically a challenge. It was a goal started by Kevin Cross, to put aside 30 minutes a day to work on a personal comic book project. Along the way it's become a movement of sorts. Pure and simple.

And that's what I'm doing. Starting today, I'm putting in 30+ minutes every day to work on making a comic book. I've been wanting to do a graphic novel as part of my life goal for a while now. I spent the better part of the last year or two trying to get better as an artist, studying illustration, learning how to make comics and basically just thinking about what a massive elephant this is I'm trying to eat.

Laying in bed sick this week, I realized the only way it's going to get eaten is grab a fork. Got it. So where to start?

I'm starting with what I know.

WTF is that you say? That my friends is an ass in a cape. Stupid, I know.  Draw what you know right?  So there ya go!  Chew on that and I'll fill you in on the back story behind this relic tomorrow!

Stay tuned!! And thanks for checking in.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sketch Dailies: Samus Aran and Frozone

This piece was for last week's Sketch Dailies prompt: the video game character Samus Aran.

I need to practice my figure drawing skills, so this was a good subject. I tried to create a piece that was less cartoon than my usual stuff. This was a real challenge for me. Thank God for the internet and all of the visual references and thank God for Photoshop to undo all my many mistakes!

All in all I'm pretty happy with how this turned out.  Hopefully you all will too.

After posting Samus Aran, I saw that today's Sketch Dailies prompt is none other than Frozone! Since The Incredible is my wife's favorite Pixar film and cartoons are more my speed, I had to do him too.  TWO Sketch Dailies in one day!! Go me!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Last Resort: The Empire Strikes Back

I tried to put a little something in this one for everybody. (Click image for larger view.)

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Last Resort: Trial Run

I've had trouble getting into a groove this year. Trying to snap myself out of it and post more work. Getting a comic out 2 days into the month is a good start....lets see if I can't keep it going.

This one was a lot of fun to draw and a bit of a technical challenge. I've never drawn a mob before.