Monday, August 29

Magic WheneverIfeelikeit: Deadman

This is a drawing easily ten years old.

I found a site way back when that was devoted to Deadman (a Google search turns up nothing now), and it featured a gallery of artist renditions. I asked to join in, and I tried it as a painting originally. That failed hard. I moved to ink and brush and a lot of white paint. But by the time I submitted the piece, my clumsy efforts at communicating with the site's owner and my delay convinced the owner to pass. I instead posted it to a much earlier version of this website. Like I said, it was years and years ago.

So let's see this again.

Reference Photo, Aug. 29

This idea is stolen outright from Stuart Immonen.

Friends of mine requested a drawing of their daughter in a Spider-Man costume, and I took pictures of her in her Spidey poses. They felt a little flat. Here, I'm adopting her pose and moving the position of the viewer for a better composition.

Sunday, August 28


Not a week after posting my Etrigan sketch, I found An Etrigan toy at my local comic shop.


Gone, gone
O, dignity.
I bought another
toy for me!

Tuesday, August 23

Magic WheneverIfeellikeit: The Demon

Gone, gone,
O form of man.
Rise, the demon

This guy needs to meet Hellboy. They need to share a stack of pancakes.

Friday, August 19

Magic Fortnight: Raven

This started as a pose notion, and I was maybe halfway through before I realized I had done much the same angle and character with Sistah Spooky. Oh well.

Those arms are confusing, but I think the shading is coming along. Since she's a Teen Titan, I wanted her to have different proportions from someone in, say, Fully Grown Titans.

This leaves me with only two blank pages in the current notebook. Time to crack open a new one.

Sunday, August 14

Magic Fortnight: Beginning Thor

The first sketch is in my standard sketchbook size, and it seemed like an easy exercise in camera angles. But he now looks very squat. The foreshortening doesn't quite work. My thunder god is a Tolkein dwarf. Also, that head is a tad simian.

I made a new sketch with the same pose on the larger sketchbook, and I decided to do all the simple linework before doing any shading. Then I can add that incrementally and hopefully avoid the heavy-handed finishing that makes my work seem stiff and drab.

The feet look farther away, boosting that illusion of depth. And presumably he's now very, very tall.

Oh, and, hey, a background!

I'll post the finished work when it's, well, finished.

Friday, August 12

Magic Fortnight: Sistah Spooky

Sistah Spooky is from Adam Warren's Empowered (link possibly NSFW), a comic I look to these days as I tweak my style. I don't want to ape Warren's work, but I can certainly learn to loosen my corpse-stiff linework. Also, I'm very tempted to print my comic direct from pencils.

Spooky is a minority high-school student trapped on a campus dominated by cruel cheesecake blondes. She discovers they each made a deal with a demon for physical perfection, and she wants in. She gets the same physical upgrade (in exchange for her soul), but the demon gives her too much mojo, and she goes into business as a bitter superheroine. She hates Empowered, another cheesecake blonde.

This is my first pass at a Spooky sketch, and I wasn't happy with the flat hand placement and the face. The arms should be bent more, forcing the hands higher and foreshortening the arms. You can see that I didn't finish it; that's Empowered herself on the top left.

I went with a pose that forced me to consider the cape and arms to balance the stance. I played a bit more with shading and highlights. It's progress, but it's a small increment forward. Maybe I just don't like her mask's eyes.

Thursday, August 11

Deleted Scene

This is the panel sequence I referenced in my Lions Club speech. Except I never got around to actually saying it. This is Kitty Pryde saving the president of Iran from a Sentinel, and this is prime comics goodness.

Sunday, August 7

Magic Fortnight: Hellboy

Wait, isn't he more of a horror character than magic?

Wait again, isn't he kinda scifi? Or fabulist?

The beauty of Mike Mignola's character is that the franchise goes where he wishes and takes on genre trappings as it requires. But he's definitely magic. He's fighting changelings and dragons and witches. That's magic.

Wait, isn't that more adventure?

See, anything Mignola wants it to be.

The original sketch for this felt pretty good until I set it down and approached it a few hours later.
That's more of a Superman pose. It had to go.

I moved to a larger sketchbook to work big and to play around with markers and pens. The usual sketch sizes are 5.5 x 8.5. This one is 11 x 14.

I think this one turned out not too badly. Not bad for a piece done between periods of calming a sick baby.

Friday, August 5

The 'Inflated Sense of Importance' Publicity Tour: Lions Club

I was invited to speak about being an indy comics creator to the local Lions Club last night at their monthly dinner meeting. I had just over a week to prepare, and I wrote a speech to fill the allotted 20 minutes speaking time.

The copy was 17 pages, double-spaced. I did some homework on various topics: circulation numbers and comparison to 40 years back; the Siegel and Kirby lawsuits; the new Ultimate Spider-Man; and the recent X-Men scene where the American Jewish mutant teenage girl saves the president of Iran. I wrote about my portfolio and meager comics career. I wrote about conventions. I wrote about the Marvel formula of tortured heroes, female characters, singles vs. trades vs. manga, and comic stores. I highlighted the main points in each paragraph for quick cues during the speech. I felt prepared.

And then, when I took the podium, I never looked at the printed copy.

My introduction informed the audience (and me) that I was "going to tell us his life story," and I realized with some dread that this angle veered away from my speech outline. I took the podium and followed up on the introduction off the top of my head (I know my bio better than anyone) and that segued into our new local comic store and direct sales and the evolution of indy comics and the comics code and Fredric Wertham and spinner racks, and I was off. I used the majority of my speech material, but I didn't want to delay the conversation by rifling through my papers to find a salient point. Writing it up and editing it and highlighting the main points cemented it in my head, and I dropped information as those data points came up in the talk.

I didn't know what kind of audience to expect, and I was warned to mind the time as these folks wanted to leave around 8 pm. I arrived at 6, and we sat down to eat around 6:15. I think I started talking at 7. My 20-minute speech lasted 45 minutes. I pulled out of the parking lot at 7:57.

I knew I had them when I mentioned the 1960s Batman TV show and how it affected comic sales. And throughout the speech, they asked questions about Dell and Fawcett comics, Classics Illustrated, and the relationship between comics and radio shows. What could have been a stiff lecture quickly became a back-and-forth with incisive questions (what's more important: the pictures or the words? can't people make comics digitally without using paper at all? aren't comics skewed toward an older demographic now?).

I was lucky twice. I was fortunate to be asked to talk comics, and I was fortunate to have an engaged audience who sat forward and locked in. I went long because they wanted more.

I was going to upload my original speech text here, but it in no way resembles last night's conversation. It has the ingredients, but not the recipe.

I can't thank the Lions Cub enough for this opportunity. A highlight of a comic creator/fan's comic life. Support your local Lions Club. They do good work.

Also, I plugged the hell out of the town's new comic store, and I hope that translates into business for them. (And you, seeing as how they sell your comics? Well sure.)

Wednesday, August 3

Sharing Is Caring: Debt Ceiling on 'West Wing'

Did someone mention Our Lord and Savior Toby Ziegler?

This is from 2005, by the way.

Monday, August 1

Magic Week (or Fortnight): Dr. Fate

I like heroes with ties to mythology, and Dr. Fate got his magic thanks to Egyptian gods. Also, he drew power from an amulet, and the "magic item" origin remains a cool element of comics.