Saturday, December 01, 2007

My kingdom for a scanner!

My art goal over winter break is to finish next quarter's Nathan Pretzelberger strips, which will keep me from being forced to work on them (or more likely, decline to work on them in the interest of other work and then feel bad about doing so) during school. As I am apparently stuck with three studio classes this coming quarter, as well as for the following two quarters I will be at SCAD, it will also assist in preventing me from going any more insane than I may or may not already be. I've got a couple of weekends for getting stuff done, but I'm having trouble getting myself to work for more than an hour before / after work during the week (generally about a panel's worth of pencilling for a snail in winter like myself). I'm finding that it's hard working in a house that feels like it must be a consistent 55 degrees--makes me wish I was back in Savannah.

Anycrap, to that end I've been spending a lot of time dicking around in my sketchbook these days; mostly working out new character designs for the Nathan strips. I'm introducing Nathan's rival this quarter (the OTHER future greatest sequential artist in the world, natch), something I've had floating around in sketchbooks for a while. His dealie is that he possesses both the most obnoxious, irritating personality in the universe, but is also quite artistically talented (which he loves to make clear in subtly arrogant ways that are superficially self-deprecating). Obviously, every person in the strip, other than Nathan, thinks he is perfectly wonderful. I've tried to make his physical appearance the embodiment of irritating. If it is the case that he closely resembles yourself and/or one of your friends/relatives, apologies in advance :( But not really.

I've also had to come up with a bunch of relatives for Nathan's extended family, who will be in a Thanksgiving-themed strip (a little late, but I do not care). My favorite is his teenage cousin who refers to everything she dislikes as either "gay," or one of a surprisingly large number of more offensive synonyms thereof. Sometimes I wonder if I'm getting a little iffy with some of the jokes I want to use in a strip that runs in a school-funded paper; whenever I do, though, I just remember Jonchad's Frm_Bhnd.Thrst and Ben Passmore's chocolate and vaginal flavored presidential candidates and immediately start to relax. If you don't know what I'm referring to, you may be better off, depending on when you last ate.

Finally, I'm working on a new header for this very blog (as may be noticed in a few of the above images). The text title was always supposed to be a placeholder, but I just haven't gotten around to sprucing things up around here until now--it might be nice to play around with the layout a little bit too. I ain't too much good with th' HTML an' nunnathat, though... web design skills sure would be nice to have right about now.

The Nathan thing is cute and would probably look fun after a little work, but putting him in the title of something like this lends him some sort of prominence in terms of my artwork that I decided I don't want him to have. Sorry Natey.

Oh, and let me just mention that Achewood has been absolutely hilarious this week. More so than usual, even. For shame if any of my Sequential Art brethren are not reading this regularly!

Friday, November 02, 2007

One Spring Morning

And so, this is my submission for SCAD's 2007 anthology, "Pantomime." 2 - 8 pages, grayscale, no talking allowed.

Not a lot left to say about it at this point. As previously stated, I'm pretty satisfied with the result as a whole.

I can't believe there's only two weeks left in this quarter. Where does the time go?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The windshield was broken, but I love the fresh air you know

2nd place in the ACP contest... I have to admit I'm a little disappointed, but hey! Any sort of recognition is nice.

A few updates:

Finally managed to finish my anthology submission. I'm excited to see the final version of that book--I think there's going to be a lot of real good stuff this time around. I'll try to get the story online sometime soon (probably at the end of the quarter when I get some spare time). Feeling much better about this one than any of the other (relatively) longish work I've done in the past.

I'm annoyed with myself for not being able to do more than 3 (4, if you count the five page strip for whenever the next comixtravaganza is) Nathan P. strips this quarter, but the anthology and classes just had to take precedence. Though it's probably a ridiculous goal what with working full-time, I'm going to try to finish next quarter's batch over winter break (or at least make some manner of dent in that pile).

Better cut this short, though. I have pictures of flayed pigs and intestines to print. More on that later.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Holy Guacamole!

So apparently, Jessica Clary (Assistant Director of Student Media at SCAD) submitted a few of my Nathan Pretzelberger strips to the National Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker awards in cartooning. I was e-mailed this link today:


Everybody keep their fingers crossed for me... winner gets announced sometime in October. Eek!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The time has come to speak of many things

Right now I'm pretty much in the home stretch of Summer break--School starts next monday, and before I head back I plan to finish inks on the last 5 pages of my submission for SCAD's next anthology. Though it's not saying much, I'm more happy with this story than any of my prior works for SCAD's collections--the ideas all seem to be pulling together really well and just fitting. You know? My drawing is still nowhere close to where I'd like it to be, but I can tell that it's getting incrementally better, and I'm happy with that progress.

All the cool kids are posting pix of their drafting table, so I'm excited to jump on the bandwagon:

My trusty CD player and the downtown library's collection of audiobooks have been getting me through many a grueling night of painstaking work. Many thanks to Al Franken and Ann Coulter for all the laughs! Page 7 of the comic is currently in process there, as you'll notice.

This is another page from the comic. 37 panels... no, not joking, though at this point, I'm pretty sure that I wish I was. As a preemptive response to anybody who inevitably attempts to draw any comparisons between my chosen method of storytelling and that of that "Chris Ware" hack: shutup. I can draw small if I feel like it. I hate you.

Sadly, due to unforseen circumstances, there will be no Nathan Pretzelberger strips in the first or second issues of the District, though after that, with the blessing of the dear lord god and a little luck, the strips will run uninterrupted until the end of the quarter. In addition to schoolwork, I'll have to make 8 (or so?) Pretzelberger strips and tone all 8 pages of the comic this quarter... it'll be an interesting challenge. I expect to run on very little sleep this quarter, so, to all my classmates at SCAD: If you say hi to me and I punch you in the nose, just remember that it is your own fault. You jerk.

And one last thing:

Thanks to my parents for their generous birthday gift ( not to mention the wonderful Stephanie, faithful friend and my insider at Circuit City :D )

Saturday, July 21, 2007

That Toddlin' Fuggin' Town

So, something like 85% of the reason that I wanted to go on a weekend trip to Chicago with my family this summer was to see Francis Bacon's Figure With Meat at the Art Institute (An additional 14% was seeing Quimby's Comics). Imagine my joy when I arrived and discovered that they decided--and presumably it was a decision calculated purely to piss me off and ruin my trip--not to have it on display.


On the bright side, they did have three Ivan Albright paintings on display, which were incredible. I still swear I'm going to see a Francis Bacon in person someday before I die--Since Triptych 1973 is apparently in a private collection somewhere, it'll hopefully be Three Figures and Portrait at the Tate Museum or (I was hoping...) Figure with Meat.

Oh, and the pizza really wasn't all that great, either. I must be some type of yahoo or something.

Friday, June 29, 2007

More Old Folks

This batch is a little bit better; I feel like I'm getting more comfortable with the Wacom tablet and picked up a few more stylistic ideas. I'm especially fond of that second one, but tend to lean away from that style for anything sequential related--stuff like that tends to get really busy and hard to read if not done really carefully.

Gonna have to wrap up the sketching sometime soon and actually get my hands dirty (hopefully this weekend). I've been brainstorming for Pretzelberger strips and have at least one idea that I'm pretty excited about. Also, I think I'm going to be brush inking and hand lettering all of the Pretzelberger strips I do over the summer, so hopefully the quality is a little bit better. I have to say, I'm a little worried about the lettering, especially since it'll be so different visually from all of the older strips... but we'll see how it goes.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Old Ladies

In an effort to keep myself from slipping too far into my typically hedonistic summer lifestyle of drug-crazed orgies and riot instigation, I'm making an effort to keep myself distracted by drawing pictures of elderly women.

I'm trying to keep myself on a regimen of one per day, at the moment. All of these were drawn (with photo reference courtesy of our friend google images--feel free to look up any combination of the words "old" "elderly" "lady" and "woman" if you'd like to see how poorly I draw) in Painter 9 (which I'm currently trying to learn) using this nutty thing I've had since like 1996 that passes for a Wacom tablet.

The elderly ladies are practice for a short story I plan on drawing this summer for SCAD's next anthology, which prominantly features a woman of age. This year's theme is going to be Pantomime (which apparently means they're looking for "silent" comics). Though it's not entirely fleshed out yet, I've got a concept that I feel good about at the moment--it's working in my head, anyway, so hopefully I can cram it from there into the maximum 8 pages that SCAD's allowing (which has become an annual struggle for me, apparently).

As I've got the whole summer to finish this one and polish it up, I'm going to make a real effort to get it looking as nice as I possibly can. My previous two efforts for these anthologies have been far more rushed than I'm comfortable with, and the artwork was mostly a disappointment on both. Hopefully, things will be different this go around.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Being An Account Most Unprecedented in Nature

I doubt I can even begin to describe how much fun this project was. Believe it or not, the original assignment was to pencil and ink 4 pages from a "Ghost Rider" Marvel-style comic plot--as you can see, I took it upon myself to take certain, er, liberties with that basic idea. I finally got around to digitally coloring the pages this quarter, and, for the most part, I am well pleased with the results. It would have been nice to have some more time to spend touching things up, but after a while the cost : benefit ratio on stuff like that just starts to skyrocket and one just has to decide when enough is enough.

My only big concern with the coloring is that page two isn't well-enough unified with one and three. The bump up on saturation in the fourth one is intentional and (i think) turned out the way I wanted it to; my main concern is that the saturation in the second one competes with it and might lessen its overall impact. I wanted to use color to make the difference in environment real obvious between the last panel and the previous ones, which worked--but I think the page's overall unity was compromised. This is fairly minor, but it taught me that I'm going to need to pay more attention not only to the overall harmony between the panels of each individual page, but also between the pages of each project.

Originally, the characters were far more foul-mouthed than they are in this version--I still think "burn, you bastards" and "get out of the road, rim jobber" are infinitely more amusing, but one of my professors asked if he could submit the black and white linework of this piece for use in the Sequential Art section of SCAD's next catalogue, so I figured it would be wise to tone things down a bit.

Oh, and Dopey McHurtsalot in the top right quarter of page 4 is undoubtably the best thing I've ever drawn in my life.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Nathan Pretzelberger 16 (or "a handy-dandy guide to ripping off Nathan Pretzelberger")

Just wrapped up the 16th Nathan Pretzelberger strip, which will be the final one to run in The District this quarter. I've always found something inherently absurd about the idea of desiring a car as an end in itself rather than a means, as well as the popularity of SUVs and the masculine culture built around expensive cars. Recently, a "post sexxxy pix of cars" thread on SCAD's message board provided me with more than enough material for a strip, and sooo...

Doing these on a weekly basis is getting to be a bit of a strain, what with other homework / side work competing for my attention, so I'm hoping to "bust out" a "whole buttload" of them in whatever free time I have o'er summer break.

So far, the process I've used for creating these strips has been more in the interest of speed and consistency than creating a truly polished, finalized piece, because of the weekly deadline. As such, I don't bother drawing or inking them on bristol board, use felt tech pens for inking (when I'm not doing it digitally), and letter digitally rather than by hand. These all save time, but do result in a lower quality look--one of these days, I'm thinking of drawing all of the older strips over again (complete with hand-lettering and brushwork) and fixing up all of the visual problems, probably whenever I put out a large, comprehensive book collecting them.

When creating a Pretzelberger strip (after I've scripted out all of the dialogue and maybe done some thumbnails), I start with a 12 x 8, 300 - 600 resolution canvas in photoshop, upon which I use guidelines and the shape tool to create panel borders. Then, I put in the lettering. I've been using Comic Book from I'm not crazy about it, it's less awful than most of the other free "comic book" fonts online, and, as I've used it for the past 15 strips, I feel a bit obligated to it in the interest of visual consistency.

Next, I flatten all of the text layers and reduce the layer's opacity so that it barely shows up--this is so that after I print the page, draw on it, and scan it, the text won't show up. I want the text to be on the page before I draw so that I know how much image room I have to work with--as this comic is a bit on the ridiculously wordy side, cramped images are an ever present issue, so I try to reduce that as much as possible.

Next I'll print the image, fitted to 8.5 x 11, 95 lb paper, and draw the initial pencils, taking care to keep important visual stuff away from the text area.

This is the point where I would get out the tech pens and ink this naughty little biz-natch, but since I've recently gained access to a drawing tablet, I decided to try digital inking this go-round. Though I'm still getting used to drawing digitally and it shows, I think that method shows promise, and probably looks better overall.

I had to tweak a few things during the inking process, most notably flipping the first panel, which I think improves the visual flow. And uh, corrects for the fact that I drew his steering wheel on the wrong side. I also moved the image in the third panel up a little bit to keep Nathan's pudgy little fingers from getting lost behind his whithering insult to Chester.

I attended a presentation yesterday at the Sequential Department discussing the various "business models" possible for indy comics, mainly with an eye toward the web. It provided a lot of food for thought, and I've been pondering ways to attract more of an audience to the strip. Most of the *really* successful webcomics have a sort of built in audience based on whatever niche interest they pander to (which, in general, seem to be video game fans). I doubt that Pretzelberger has "niche appeal" to anybody but thin, twenty-something art school students interested in comics who are named Isaac Klunk; on the other hand, the feller that makes Achewood doesn't seem to have any targeted appeal other than people who like the funny, and last I heard, he's doing pretty well for himself. There's always hope.

It would probably help if I managed to create a REAL site for the strip, rather than just the current MySpace page. Hopefully I can get going on that sometime within the next year.