Sunday, October 30, 2016

Shrimptober!

It's hard to believe I haven't posted to this blog since July. A lot has been happening. If you don't care and just want to get to my Inktober, click on the jumbo shrimp and enjoy! If you'd like my work and want to know more, please keep reading after.









All in all I'd say Inktober 2016 has been a success. I got a 16 page ashcan comic under my belt and it turned out OK. It was great practice for what lies in store for me.

The impetous behind this comic was an off the wall comment I made on Twitter about how I should draw a comic called "Prawn in 60 Seconds" based on the character I had come up with earlier this year. It was just me being stupid but people actually liked it! I have trouble backing down from a challenge. The next thing I know it was on! October 1st hit and off I went armed with these tools and a half baked idea about a giant shrimp monster:


Really that's all there was too it. I had no plot. No thumbnails. Nothing. I made it up as I went like Keyser Soze I'm lucky it turned out halfway decent. (Always plot, script and thumbnail before you make a comic kids!) You'd think I'd know that by now but October was just too crazy with all that's been going on and I was forced to wing it.

So what's been going on?

LOTS!  I'll try to be brief. I put The Caped Sphincter comic on the back burner. Part of if was my usual summer slump. But then things really heated up for me. I did some sketches just for fun. Then I did a few marker sketches for people as thank yous for following my work. That lead to a request for my first commission! Around the same time I was asked to do a page for the Nottingham Comic Con anthology. I'm super honored to have been asked. There is so much talent in that book! I have to thank Mr. Kev Bret  and Mr. Tony Esmond from The Awesome Comics Podcast and Down The Tubes. for thinking of me. Then Jon Laight, the awesome writer of Brethern Born got in touch to do an all ages comic with him! Naturally I jumped at the chance. The dude is an awesome writer and writing long form comics is not my strong suit at the moment. I was secretly wishing I could work with a writer when Jon found me. Perfect timing!

Jon has come up with an exciting all ages spy family comic called Late Knights. We're only in the concept stages now but here's a sneak peak at the logo and the main characters.  Follow me on Twitter for more teasers and art. We're hoping to have the comic done in 2017! Fingers crossed!


Thanks for stopping by and taking an interest in my work!


Monday, July 11, 2016

This Week In MesyComics: Weeks 15-16, Breaking The Cycle

I see a pattern. Summer hits and my art production drops off. That is one of the unexpected benefits that has come out of blogging my comics journey for the last six years. I only noticed this because I finished 100 Days of making comics last year around June and had all these hopes and dreams on how much more I could make. Then summer hit and I fell into a massive slump that lasted until the middle of Fall.

I think part of last year's failure was a fear of writing and a fear that my comic had to be perfect. Looking back on my blog and social media posts I now see that it's part of a cycle! I was lamenting on Twitter that maybe I have seasonal depression (I do hate heat, humidity and both sunburns and sunscreen). Summer sucks. I think I'm also just busier with life stuff: the kids are out of school and I spend more time with them, vacations can kill a week at a time, 2 of my kids have summer birthdays, there's a couple holidays in there, etc. I think it may be a combination of all of these things.

This might sound bleak but I have at least identified the problem. That's the first step in finding a solution. What to do now? That, I'm not sure....I think accept it, draw what I can, force myself to draw when I actually do have the time but may not feel like it and (hardest of all) quit beating myself up about it.

I see all these great indie and pro creators in my Twitter feed and fall into the compare and despair trap. I have to realize that everyone is different with different skill levels, drive and circumstances in their lives that all affect how much work they can produce. What I can focus on instead is just try to do the best I can. I'm not getting paid for this. I serious doubt anyone cares about my comics that much (including my mom). So do what I can do and try to focus on the fun and doing the best I can when I have time to do it. If I'm not having fun then it's only going to compound the problems.

In light of all this I forced myself to block off a bit of time over the last two weeks and I made a sketch cover for Dr. Strange. I've been enjoying this comic a lot and I'm interested in seeing the film when it comes out. I also saw a couple pieces of fan art that I really liked so I thought I'd have a go.

Process Shots of my Sketch Cover:




I also did a little inking on my comic! Not much since the last time but at least it's something. Here that is:

PG 14 Inks in Progress:


So there you have it....appears I have a cycle I need to try and break or in the very least accept. I'll do my best. Thanks for bearing with me. As always, follow me on Twitter if you like comics and my asinine commentary. I'm always happy to talk and share the comics work of others even if I'm may not be producing many of my own!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

This Week In MesyComics: Weeks 14-15, Been Down But Not Out

Hey everybody thanks for checking in. I've been on a bit of a break (some intentional and some not). Social media was getting on my nerves so I unplugged and spent time off-line, had a couple of my kids birthday's to celebrate, nice father's day weekend, etc. I'm feeling a bit better so I hope to get back to the drawing board ASAP.

I'm wondering if I don't suffer from some sort of seasonal depression however. I hit a lull last summer too. That turned into a full blown artistic slump. Keeping my fingers crossed it's not a repeat but something I'm curious about. Who ever heard of seasonal depression being in the summer?

I do have one piece of artist news to share. I have a fantastic and supportive wife. She heard me mention how I have trouble drawing women so she bought me this cool drawing model. It's crazy how pose-able it is and has all these attachable hands and accessories. A bit anime in look but who can argue with how useful this is. It's a bit expensive (probably wouldn't have bought it for myself) but now that I have it I'll have to get the guy too.  It's by SH Figuarts.


Monday, June 6, 2016

This Week In MesyComics: Week 13, Friends, Family, Fan Art and Ikea?

This week's free time was severely limited. Hung out with friends and family and what free time I had in the mornings this week I spent doing fan art. Me and the kids have been doing a lot of Mario Kart so I drew my favorite guy and kart set up from the game. The girls got a kick out of it because I printed out the inked like art so they could color their own version. It killed my comic progress for the week but I'm glad I did both the playing and the drawing. Josie really loved both.

I'd hoped I'd get some time on the weekend to draw but we ended up going to Ikea (always a time suck) and then spent most of the day Sunday putting furniture together.

Anyway, here's my Mario Kart fan art from the week!


Monday, May 30, 2016

This Week In MesyComics: Week 12, Down to Earth

After the awesome amount of progress last week, it was time to come back down to earth this week. You'd think I'd get more time with a long holiday weekend but alas that time is filled up with family. I got what's more like a "normal" week in for me: 1/2 - 1 hour before work if I can wake up on time each day and a bit on the weekend.

So what did I do? I penciled PG 14. I'd probably call this rough pencils but since I work digitally I can do my tightening up when I ink.  Here's how the process goes.

Thumbnail of PG4
I had the thumbnails done from a few weeks back. I do these fast, lose and small on regular paper. I don't like to fuss over them too much. They serve to rough out how the story will flow so I try to go with instincts to keep the motion fluid. I can always tighten as I go.

Pencils of PG 14

As you can see here in the rough "pencils" (I do these digitally in Manga Studio) I kept with the thumbs for all but the 1st pane layoutl. I wanted to get more of the Crobster bursting through the door and less of the Cop's face. In the initial thumb I had the cop getting based with the case. In the pencils I have it being held up to draw more attention to it and to more clearly identify it as being a case. The pencils are a bit rough but they'll do.

Started Inks of PG 14
From there I tint the roughs back and start inking on a new layer above.

Nothing as fancy as last week but progress is progress and such is the life of an indie cartoonist. Making a living and family come first. I hope you all had a great holiday weekend and spent as much time as I did with those you love.  See ya next week!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

This Week In MesyComics: Week 11,

I wish all weeks could be as good as week 11 was. I'm lucky if I get 5 hours per week to work on this comic but, thanks to my lovely wife taking the kids Friday night, I got double the time last week. More importantly I got several hours in a row instead of all spread out! It's so much nicer for the creative groove if you get that much time. I think it shows in this week's progress report.

Finished Inks On PG13

Here you can see the progression from thumbnails, to pencils, to what I'd consider my finished inks. Some shading may be added in the coloring stage but this is pretty much it.  (Click on any image for a larger view). Being both the writer and the artist on this I tend to edit as I go. I'll change angles or details to create a better story. You can see panel 4 & 5 inks are a bit more active than the penciled page. I think it was Larry Hama who said, never draw people just standing around. I think the inks are more dynamic and create a better visual story.

Learning Process
I also had a couple major break-throughs while inking. The first was in the inking technique itself. While I've always been using the G-Pen to ink in Manga Studio I have not been treating it like the brush it is.  What I mean is that it creates great thin to thick lines. I use this on the outlines of characters quite a bit. But when it came to shading the characters I was treating it more like a ball point and doing a lot of hatching.  Hatching can be good but you can also run parallel lines of thin to thick to create some nice shading effects.  Here is a work in progress shot I used to communicate the idea better in a twitter conversation I had with another cartoonist.


As you can see, you can get two different looks out of the same tool. I think there's a place for both and I'll probably mix the two techniques but it was a big eye-opener to realize I'd been not using the tool to it's full potential.

Color Change
It was getting late Friday night when I got the bright it might be a good idea to change all the colors in my book! I said I was going to bed on twitter, but ended up staying up another hour or so playing with the look of the colors. 

I always felt like my colors were one of my weaker points as a cartoonist. I tend to be too saturated but other than that I can't put my finger on why I hate my colors other than they just urk me. I didn't want to go back to grayscale as a cop out. I generally like a color comic better than a black and white one and I wanted to beat this problem, not run away from it.

What I came up with was to split the difference. I toned all my pages brown (gray on the night time scenes). Not full on but toned everything way back. It gave me a nice muted look and then I went into each page and masked out selections where I wanted pops of more saturated color. I may have one or two pages left of the first 12 to tint but I'm pretty sure this is the look I'm going with....for now. :)

Hopefully you guys like it! I wish I had as much free time every week as I did this one. I feels good to get so much done!

Monday, May 16, 2016

This Week In MesyComics: Week 10, Thumbs, Pencils and Inks Oh My!

Howdy folks. This week I have a bit of a process post on how I make the sausage here at MesyComics. As you know from last week, I finished the plot and thumbnails to issue #1 of this comic. I thought about going through and penciling the whole thing but since I do so much work in the ink stage (my pencils are a bit rough), I thought it better to ink as I go.

So this week, I'm posting everything I got done in about 5 hours work.

THUMBNAIL
These are done about 3 inches by 5 inches and I work traditionally for speed and fluidity


PENCILS
I pencil digitally in Photoshop or Manga Studio. I haven't settle on one over the other yet.  I love the multiple undos and the ease of scaling....basically cleaning up for my lack of skill! As you can see I change the view of the last panel to make it more dramatic and to also get more of the control room door in the shot. It's important for the next scene and also to make it have a sense of foreboding. Like it's looming over the cop.


INKS
I like to use vector inks in manga studio. It's nice having the ability to move a whole line if need be. Or snipping off the ends of some shading that goes beyond another line. I highly recommend the vector inks feature in Manga Studio

WRAP UP
It's been an OK week but I can do better. Getting up in the morning has been my main problem. If I don't get up at 4:30 it severely limits how much time I can work. The day job and the family occupy most of my hours in a day.  I'm going through some sleep issues with my little ones right now. Hopefully that gets ironed out and I can get back to the early starts!

Monday, May 9, 2016

This Week In MesyComics: Week 9, Who's got 12 more thumbs and a finished plot? THIS GUY!

After two weeks of not having much to show I'm back in business! I'm just going to open by busting out my thumbs! PG12 is where I left off in the upper left and the rest are pages 13-24. This is how rough I do the thumbs. I do them pretty sloppy and in pen on paper. I'll reference these for the next step, which is to do the rough pencils, which I do digitally.


Finished Plot!
As you can see I have a finished plot! What a nightmare that was. This damn plot caused me to quit this comic last year and caused me to freeze up and stall and drag my feet this year but it's done. Here's what I learned.

DO NOT START DRAWING UNTIL YOU FINISH YOUR SCRIPT!  This seems like a no-brainer but if you're like me you are excited to draw so you just dive in. My comic from 1996 was made up as  went and it shows. I was going off that old script to make my 2015 version and I was kidding myself into thinking it was better than it was. 

To make matters worse I got halfway through drawing it then had to marry up the drawing with a plot that makes sense. I didn't realize it but I kept fixating on the old bad script and trying to make it work. It wasn't until this week that I decided to throw it aside and rewrite the last half...pretending as if I didn't know what I'd written before. Near impossible but I think I did it. I may actually insert a few more pages before I'm through. If it ends up helping the story I think it will be better than sticking to an arbitrary 24 pages. Right now it's 24 and works as a plot. I'll decide as I go if I need more room to tell it but for now it works.

What I Should Have Done
Now that I've made every mistake in the book I can correct some mistakes going forward. I still like the Marvel method so I don't think I will write a full script on issue two. I WILL have a completed outline though.

I'm going to treat it like drawing: block it out in shapes and then refine those shapes into a finished rendering. I'm going to write a summary of what happens in the issue. That gives me the beginning, the middle and the end.  My next step is going to be to number a page 1-24.  Each number represents one page and I write a sentence as to the main thrust of each page.  That gives me the rough framework of the story.  From there I can detail the actions on each page. Since I'm both drawing and writing this I don't have to give a lot of detail but I do break each page down into chunks or snapshots that then become the panels. Once I have that I do the thumbnails as you see them above. Sometimes I change the arrangement or number of panels at this point. Then I start penciling and things may change again there.  I may even go so far as to add whole pages. Since I'm indie have that luxury so I may as well take advantage. Once the pencils, inks and colors are finalized I'll go in and write the dialog.

If I had money I'd actually prefer to pay a writer! I make comics because I enjoy drawing them and coming up with goofball ideas but writing is pretty difficult for me. A pro writer would make for a better end product. But if I want to draw I have to write so I'll just do the best I can.

Fun Stuff
While struggling through the script I made a few Post-It note sketches of characters from Rick and Morty. I love this format for quick fun drawings to help burn off some stress.


This week I'll be doing some pencils! Hooray!!


Monday, May 2, 2016

This Week In Mesy Comics: Week 8, Drawing on the Horizon

Happy Monday! I'm pleased to report the nasty virus has run it's course and I'm getting back into a groove. I'm polishing off the script and will be doing roughs this week.

I apologize for the lack of speed and lack of art to post. Writing is a bit of a stumbling block for me and the reason I quit on the comic last time. It's tough even now. I'm slow and apprehensive and the process is painful but I'm pushing through. I think it may have been easier if I had a large block of time to just sit in a closed room and plow through writing but this chipping away a little each morning is less than ideal. I'm not that awake this early to handle the mental challenge of writing and the fear has me moving at a snail's pace. Some mornings I hit snooze and don't even get up in time to put in the work. Motivation is a big problem. It's very frustrating.

But enough of my woes. I persevere and I'll post some roughs next week.

Sketch Cover
I felt bad about not having any art again so I did this sketch cover on Saturday. Then, of course, I beat myself up for using that block of time to draw rather than write. Whatever! I thought it was a cool sketch cover concept. They left the cover blank in the area of the painting that Harley Quinn is holding and that is the section I filled in.

Enjoy!


Monday, April 25, 2016

This Week In Mesy Comics: Week 7, Sick As A Dog

I'm in a plotting phase of the comic so I wouldn't have many visuals to post this week anyhow, but I feel I'll to some nasty virus. Still not 100% today but I'm out of bed. I hope to have something better to post next week. Sorry :(

Monday, April 18, 2016

This Week In Mesy Comics:Week 6, Half-Arted

Sorry I'm late on this post. I was traveling this weekend. It's a pretty short and sweet report for this week folks. Just coloring. I got 2 pages done. More importantly they are pages 11 and 12, so I'm half way home on the art (minus lettering). The two pages look like different sizes but the splash page is full bleed.

Coloring:




Writing:
Now begins the hard part...Finishing the script!  It was a rookie mistake to start the art before the script was done. However, I have the old comic I did in 1996 to go off of. So, at least I have a frame work for the story. It won't be easy but I'm confident I can wrap up issue 1 in a satisfactory manner in 12 pages. I won't make that mistake again on issue 2!

Next week....uncharted territory!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

This Week In Mesy Comics: Week 5, CADD

My Comics Attention Deficit Disorder (Or CADD for short) got the better of me this week and I don't have a ton of visuals to post other than this panel of The Last Resort I made.


Working on it took most of my free comics making time for the week. Doing it, I felt like I "should" be coloring The Caped Sphincter Issue 1 but I'm not going to beat myself up over it.While it might take away from The Caped Sphincter work it's still comics. And I still got some flatting and coloring done. Just one page (WIP) but it's another step forward.

"Should" is a hang up I need to eliminate from my art making. It always brings me down and makes me feel guilty about a lack of focus. It's not very healthy. Instead, I'll say I "could" have worked on coloring. Instead I wanted to draw and make a gag strip. For whatever reason it filled a need and fulfilling that need is more important than measuring myself against some arbitrary self-imposed deadline.

So that is it. See you all next week!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

This Week In Mesy Comics: Week 5, Got The Power Back

Hooray! I'm back.  I was without my PC for about a week. That stunk but thankfully it was just the power supply and I'm back in business.

Coloring:
When last we left off I was in the process of coloring the 12 pages that are inked on my comic. I stripped out all of the copy and have been coloring a little each day. I finished pages  9 and 10 these last 2 weeks. It's coming along.


Writing:
I probably could have used the week without the computer to finish writing Issue 1 but I find it easier to write with word processing software of some sort. I decided to read through my book on writing a 2nd time. I want to pound the lessons into my head. I'm a little worried since I have 12 pages inked and the script isn't done but since I have the copy from 1996 as my guide, I think it will work out. Now that I've stripped all of the text out I'm going to use the Marvel method: That is, finish plotting and scripting the issue. Then pencil the last 12 pages. Then work in the dialog as I refine the inks and color. The images are reading without any copy currently so, I should be good.  Issue 2 will be completely scripted before I pencil anything though. I'm learning as I go and the way I've done Issue one has been plagued with blunders I don't plan to repeat.

New Villain:
The coolest thing to happen over the last two weeks was this guy!


I love everything about him. I can't squeeze him into issue 1 or 2 but now that he's a living character I can't NOT use him. Look for him to terrorize the city in Issue 3. (I know, I know...I haven't finished Issue 1 and I'm already planning more. Have to have goals right?)

I guess I got a decent amount of work done but I always have an inner voice telling me it's not good enough or that I need to be working faster. It's hard to ignore. I just have to keep reminding myself family and the day job come first. Comics will get done when they get done....and they are getting done, so life is good. So glad to have the power back!

Until next time, thanks for dropping by!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

This Week In Mesycomics@yahoo.com Comics: Week 4, Dead PC

Sorry, for delay folks but my PC is dead. No update this week. I'm posting this from my phone. Things were going great on the comic until I hit the power on the old PC today and nothing happened.  I hope it's just the power supply and not the motherboard. Of course it's Easter and everything is closed.

It mighy take a while for me to get the new power supply and put it in, but hopefully I'll be back up and running by the weekend.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

This Week In Mesy Comics: Week 4, Learning to Enjoy the Ride

This week I faced my first major set back since resurrecting my comic book project. I got sick and then my kid got sick.Needless to say, I didn't get quite as much done on the comic book as I would've hoped this week. I'm not writing to complain or make excuses. On the contrary, I handled this week's set back very well mentally. It's a marathon, not a sprint. I continued forward, not back. I didn't stop. I kept going. And I ENJOYED what I did. In the past I would have beaten myself up about it.

Sketching:
I opened the week up doing a sketch cover and mid week I did a panel of The Last Resort.  Both are here:
 

 In the past I'd consider this kind of work slacking or goofing off. As long as I'm making comics with my time, I'm now giving myself a pass. I figure this kind of thing is needed to break up the long slog of making a full book; it gets something fun out for others to enjoy; it gives my brain a much needed diversion and it's fun! Above all else, FUN is the goal. Completing the book will come when it comes. This shift in thought enabled me to take it in stride when I got sick at the end of the week.

Finished Reading:
Over the course of the week, I finished reading this book on how to write.


I stand by my grade of 3 out of 5. I think it's a great tool and one that should enable me to fix my script for issue 1 and 2. I think the book could have benefited from having all the examples tie together better in a complete project but it was good enough.  If I'm still having trouble after this rewrite, I'll get more help.

Coloring:
Over the course of the week I did get one full page colored and tweaked all of the previous pages slightly. I got the tip to not go too dark with your color (black value especially) and to stay in the top half of the color picker. Otherwise, your book will run the risk of looking too dark and muddy when printed. After those revisions, I began work on PG9 inks. I had to fill in a lot of missing line work once I removed the previous balloons. Lesson learned!



All in all I'm happy with the week and hopeful it I'll break the pattern of getting down on myself and stalling after a setback. Here's hoping!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

This Week In Mesy Comics: Week 3, Pacing the Project

Welcome to the progress report of my comic, "The Caped Sphincter". I did a lot of coloring this week and reading about how to write so I had more time to think than I have things to show. I'll share both today.

Coloring:
Starting off with things to show, I got two more pages colored. Once again I've stripped out all of the text because my lettering, writing and dialog all needed to be improved. One of the unexpected side benefits of doing that is when you see just the sequential art, you can tell whether or not the story is working. I think my art conveys the story well. I'm pretty happy and hopeful that the finished product will be at least readable.

I'm still not 100% in love with my coloring style but it works and doesn't take forever so it will have to do.

Schedule:
As you can see, only getting about an hour per day to work on this doesn't make for quick progress. That is my biggest frustration with making comics but a realization that I've finally come to grips with. Realistically I can only make 1-2 issues per year unless I get much faster. Commitment is key: Doing work every day, steadily, whether you are in the mood or not. Eventually it will get made. I'd like to set a schedule for myself but I did that last year and it destroyed my psyche. I froze. There's just too much I don't know yet, so I can't commit to a time line other than ASAP.

Ideally I'd feel good making 2 comics per year. Once I get issue one finished I'll have a better gauge of how long it takes me to make a page and can see if that's reasonable.

Writitng:
I'm about 3/4 through this book about learning how to write comics.



So far it's been very helpful but I'd give it 3/5 stars at the moment. It's got tons of great instruction on all of the aspects of writing comics but I'd like to see one project from concept through to completion to tie it all together. I'm not sure the book is going to give me that or I'd rate it higher. Still a good resource and I'd recommend it.

Only time will tell how much it actually helps me but it the very least this version of issue one will be better than the 1.5 versions that have come before it. And I'm very grateful to have my wife (who is a college English professor) to clean up all the technical aspects! It should read much better than my blog posts! :)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

This Week In Mesy Comics: Week 2, Coloring Style

Coloring
After toying with coloring at the end of last week, I've come up with a method I'm finally happy with. It's called "Cel Shading" and mimics that of some traditional 2D TV animation. There are many ways to do it but here is the method I'm using (all digital):

1. Set your inks on a layer and set that layer to multiply.

2. Set up a new layer, below the inks, called "flats" and paint with a hard edge brush (or use selection and fill) to lay out all of the basic colors as solid.

3. Between the flats layer and inks layer, create a new layer called shadows. You can either fill this with a solid gray tone (I prefer a light cool gray) and mask it or select and fill as you go. Basically you want to create shapes using your selection lasso or paint with a hard edge brush, the places where the shadows will go.  I prefer select and fill because it's fast if you know your hot keys.

4. When you're done, create a new layer between your shadows and inks and set the blend mode to soft light. You can also use overlay or hard light but soft light is less contrast and I prefer that in most situations. Then, like we just did with shadows, paint or fill the highlight areas white.  Just that easy. Here's an example:

In the past I was messing around with too much brushing and gradients and it was a time consuming process. Truth be told, it didn't really suit my art that well either but it was all I knew how to do. I like this technique better.

I've also tried to make my color palette more subdued. Everything was super saturated in the past. It was OK enough for "The Last Resort" strips but a whole book of that may be an eye sore.

Lastly, I stripped all of my text and speech bubbles out. I made the rookie mistake of inking my balloons by hand so I had to remove them. Thankfully it was only 12 pages.  I'll save my thoughts on lettering for another day.  Here's this week's work: