Monday, December 11


For the upcoming Heroes and Villains show at Asheville's Zapow Gallery, I made a Hela illustration, and here's how it happened.

A while back, I drew a Hela for a friend and chased the idea of a skull illusion in her antlers. I couldn't make it work that time, and it bugged me. This theme show gave me a chance to try it again. I started off with very quick sketches and went quickly to reference pictures.

The Flying Spaghetti Headdress

Such majesty.
I worked up a drawing based on that and scanned it while still trying to work out those horns.

This is better than I thought. Shoulda ran with it.
I was convinced these hands weren't right and decided to smash together my sketch and the photo reference.

It was awkward.
I printed this out at full size and lightboxed it before I realized the positioning was off, and the photos made the contours weird. I had a drawing head atop a photo body. It didn't mesh. I scrapped this and went back to my original pencils. I moved the drawing up on a 11x17 document and sketched out more of the body and the costume design. I printed and lightboxed that version. Then I went to inking.

The paper buckled from the ink.
I worried the antlers would be lost in the black background. I intended to have a starfield back there, and that would take some craftiness.

I made a couple of practice star fields by putting down ink on scrap paper and trying the toothbrush trick: You mix paint and water, dab a toothbrush into it, and run your thumb on the bristles to flick paint at the background. If the consistency is right, you can spray small dots of white and create stars. Too much water and the stars fade as the paint dries. Too much paint, and it spatters in globs.

But before I did that, I manually put down stars with a few Wite-Out pens. Then I made a mask by cutting out my print of the pencils to keep the toothbrush stars off Hela's face and body,

This never takes as long as it looks.

That done, I sprayed on the stars. Then I removed the mask and added more Wite-Out stars along the border of the figure.

It hurts my wrist to look at this.
I realized immediately the horns would be lost. I scanned the inked image you see here and played with it in Photoshop by cutting out the black antler interiors. I decided white horns would work better. I painted over the inks with a couple of layers of Titanium White acrylic. I then strengthened the antler borders by sharpening them with brushes and markers and adding stars around those new outlines.

And here we go.

Thursday, December 7

Big Time

I started my Robot Wonderboy line of comics in 2010, seven years ago now, and somewhere in there I had the notion to get my books in Asheville's Malaprop's. The much beloved indie bookstore is a touchstone for the city -- a gorgeous space crammed with books and literary knickknacks. For years, I walked into that store to remind me why I was shoving around ink. I looked at the comic section to inspire my brain and competitive drive to get myself alongside the copies of Gaimans and Larsons. But that could only happen, I reminded myself, if I did the work. So let's get back to work.

And today ...

I can sit on the summit I marked on my map, turn around, and see how far I have climbed.

I also restocked my titles in Downtown Books and News, the sister store.

That's four local stores now with my stuff -- along with Comic Envy and Highland Books -- and that's a heady realization.

Learn from me, guys. Heads down, pencils sharp. Do the work.

Thursday, October 5


Here's what I'm doing daily for this year's Inktober effort.

Friday, September 15

Doom Patrol

The latest volume of Doom Patrol is by Gerard Way, Nick Derington, Tom Fowler, Tamra Bonvillain, and Todd Klein, and I love it. It takes me back to the oddity of the Morrison/Case run in the '90s, and I invested hard in those stories.

When DC published the Flex Mentallo mini, I embraced it like a best friend. A few years later, when I wrote for PopImage, I vomited a love letter to the mini as part of a sitewide Morrison package. Years and years later, DC blurbed me on the back of the Flex Mentallo trade. I had no idea until I picked up a copy and flipped to the back cover. I almost fainted.

So when DC announced Doom Patrol was coming back and written by Way, I was onboard immediately. I keep a row of high-school lockers in my heart, and one of them is plastered inside with panels from his Umbrella Academy.

I love the art in the new comic, especially the colors by Bonvillain. It's a style that permits anything to happen, and we'll accept it right off. I'm about to use the cold season to hunker down and make some comics, and I needed an exercise to stretch those drawing muscles. It became an excuse to employ (read: steal) Bonvillain's palette for Doom Patrol pin-ups as a tribute. Another love letter. So here we are.

Sunday, August 20

Mr. Robot

As we near the October season-three premiere, I binged the previous seasons of Mr. Robot. Love this show. It combines Fight Club and V for Vendetta. I think it also, potentially, could borrow from Invisibles; the emphasis on created identity and even weaponized disassociate disorder is very intriguing and Morrison-esque.

But we haven't explicitly had that level of sci-fi on the show yet. Bits of dialogue encourage me that direction, like Tyrel and Elliot saying things are above them, and Mobley and Trenton talking about going back to before the 5/9 hack AND White Rose's obsession with time. It doesn't have to go in this direction to be good; it already is good.

So I had to draw something for it.

The pencils.

The ink study.

The final piece, all inked up.
Took some work to convey Rami Malek's face, but Christian Slater was easier. I liked this, and it got me back into brush work.

Friday, July 28

I'm Going To Be At An AnimeCon!

And I have no idea what to expect.

This Saturday, I'll be at the A.A.R.C. (Asheville Anime Regional Con), and I dont know much about anime. But this show has become Asheville's most establish convention as other shows fell by the wayside. It has the potential to be a big(ger) deal next year when people realize it's virtually the only game in town.

I'm told it brings in fans of all genres, and I plan to enjoy myself and bring my art bidness to one and all. We should see cosplayers and crafters and kids and slightly overwhelmed adults. You know, a convention.

Wednesday, July 19

Throwback Buddy Comedy

That Game of Thrones season premiere was good for a lot of reasons, and some of that were the parallels. Sansa and Jaime bristling at their siblings' ruling style. The Hound and Arya meandering Westeros, moving in different moral directions. But mostly Tormund and Baelish giving Brienne and Sansa the howyoudoins at Winterfell and seemingly doing nothing else.

I know. Baelish is fomenting dissent between Sansa and Jon, and Tormund is about to man a Night's watch castle. But for now, they are unsubtle stalkers, otherwise different in every way.

I couldn't get this image out of my head, and it was a good day's inking and coloring. A fun exercise away from the short comic work I'm doing. More on that later.

Tuesday, June 13

Last-Second HeroesCon 2017 post

I'm going to be there again, for what I think is my sixth consecutive show with a table. Holy crap! SIX YEARS!

This time I'm bumping tables and elbows with one Laura Truxillo, whose work appears in the Mike Wieringo Tellos tribute book for which I am delighted and proud and professionally envious as hell.

I'll have new prints, including one for my beloved Twin Peaks. I'll have this for sale soon on this site, but I'll definitely have them at the convention. She has art like you wouldn't believe, so buy it all, fools.

I got new sketches and comics and prints, and please see me, especially if you have costumes. Cosplayers get $1 off each item at my table!

Speaking of costumes, I'll be donning my Littlefinger costume for pictures late Friday. Find me, and call me all the bad names. He deserves it.

This will be my last big show of the year, so let's do it up right.