Thursday, December 24

One Year's Work

 A year ago today, Christmas Eve 2019, I started penciling the Outskirts fantasy historical fiction graphic novel. I thumbnailed the script a few weeks before and sat at the drawing table on the first day of my holiday break.

Since then, the comic has gone through two drafts and a color layer. This isn't the first page of the comic any more. This is.

I played with breaking panel borders and slowing the movement of the story slightly. But this is still a recap of the first Outskirts issues, where we meet the Ladies of the Lake. But this comic expands that premise a lot.

I haven't worked on one story this much. It's been literal years. I hope I can craft a final product that shows the time and consideration. But I am hobbled by constant internal comparisons. "It doesn't look like this artist or that artist." It makes me question the work, but I can't redo the story infinitely. It has to be released into the wild. And then I can work on the next story.

Sunday, December 13

Second Proof

Printed a new proof and tackled it in the early Saturday hours. I wanted to sleep, but it called to me. Called me lazy. I couldn't let that go unanswered. 

 There's a 60-year leap between panels on this page. We move around a bit in this one.

I put sticky notes on the right side of pages for edits and a note on the left-hand side for pages that need new artwork -- panels or entire pages. I don't have many of those, and I knew they were necessary. Only found a few instances of panels I discovered simply don't work. The temptation to redo art throughout is strong, but I would never stop. I have this dread of carrying the project around my neck for years. Remember Michael Douglas in Wonder Boys, carrying around a printed manuscript the size of a cinder block? That. I don't want that.

I've begun work on the next Heroes of Sinclair story too, and that will become my focus before long. I feel the call of superheroes again. It's been a few years.

Saturday, October 24

Working on the Graphic Novel

 The next OUTSKIRTS story is still chugging along. 110ish pages of comic work. Here's the notes on my first draft after I mark lettering corrections, script revisions and art fixes.

And here's an early page with the layer of blue I'm thinking of using throughout the comic.

This was going to be done in June. I clearly had no idea how much work this would be. But I find myself at home a lot more these days with lots of time to work it up.

Tuesday, September 22

Nightcrawler and Storm

 Two more X-Men people.

And this one turned out right nice.

Saturday, September 19


 The unofficial week of X-Men artwork continues.

rogue of the X-men

Thursday, September 17

The Rasputin Mutants

Drawing me some X-men for a week or so, and here's the first two.



Saturday, September 12

Fanfic of Thrones

My son and I and I cosplayed as Littlefinger and Tommen at Dragoncon, and he will not abide by their deaths (He knows very little details of the series, just basic plot points as filtered by Mom and Dad. Honest. He’s ten.). He's writing a Game of Thrones fanfic to bring them back, enlisting You Know Who. He asked for a cover. I can do that.

I thought I finished the pencils, but he asked for a dragon. Right at the last second too. I made a new bottom edge on the pencils, measured the amount I “cut away.” and added that same amount of new board at the top. I could then add his dragon and keep my original art dimensions.

 I started off with some Alan Davis cover style sketches. He does great "standing people" compositions.




Thursday, September 10

Doctor Strange

I wasn't a big fan of the character until recent runs by some big-time creators. Jason Aaron, Donny Cates, Mark Waid, Kev Walker, Chris Bachalo -- these are names that lure you in. 

 They did some big fun work with small tweaks. Magic has a cost, but Strange figured out how to cheat that. Strange has to make a deal with the devil to save a life, but he regains his fine motor skills. A ghost dog. Librarian interns. An assistant who can only ask one hero-related question a day. Fun comics stuff. 

So I drew the dude. Still getting the hang of markers.

Thursday, September 3

A Plateau

 I started writing the OUTSKIRTS graphic novel almost as soon as I wrote a certain panel in the anthology series. That was 2018. It was a vague suggestion that I thought would only be caught by a subgroup of a subgroup of readers. But I thought it had potential as a larger story.

So I started the GN. The thumbnails began in November, and the page pencils began Dec. 24. In late August I finished the first round of pencils and inks.

That's roughly two inches of art boards, and I know there will be more.

I'll scan and letter atop them and see how the story works. Writing is rewriting. I have the advantage of lettering my own script so I can revise on the fly.

Here's the GN's first panel:

And here's the last:

A lot happens in between. Almost a whole century.

As a bonus, here's my Eddie Campbell From Hell homage panel.

Saturday, July 4

Flex Mentallo Again

Working through the second season of Doom Patrol on HBOMax.

I read the Morrison/Case comics as single issues back in the early '90s and loved its perpetual apocalypse. There was no melodrama of angry exes rallying a gang to show up the new girlfriend. No backyard baseball games or gossip by the pool. All the kinds of downtime moments you'd find in Avengers or X-Men or Teen Titans. This book was an endless stream of cosmic masculine menace; two baddies named Mister something is saying something about comics. The title was already in its fifth gear when Vertigo started, and I happily followed Morrison to Invisibles.

And then the Flex Mentallo mini came out, and it became one of my favorite comic stories ever, and the best of the subgenre wherein the good guys recoup from the villain's conquest of the world. I wrote about it for the late, great PopImage website and was blurbed for the back cover of the Flex trade, so he and I are linked forever. If my one claim to almost-fame in the comics is my blah-blah stamped next to Quitely art, that is a glorious destiny based on unabashed love.

They nailed that character in the HBOMax series. His earnest, inherent decency is charming and right. He is kind. He is confident. He wants to help. He's a genuine throwback superhero dressed as a circus strongman, and it makes my comic heart soar.

When I get the urge to draw Doom Patrol, I default to Flex.

Here's my previous Doom Patrol fan art. 

I like to see the progress. 


Tuesday, June 30


I need to level up my coloring skills, and specifically, I need to get better at brush options to for textures.

I drew Dazzler after sketching up some poses, then I scanned in the pencils instead of inking on the page. I did all the finishing in Photoshop.

I normally digital ink and color in Illustrator, so this was a big learning curve. They both allow layers which is essential for color control, but I find the line control better in Illustrator.

I went through a number of Kyle T. Webster brushes in Photoshop to work up the lighting effects. I wanted lots of blues and yellows to reflect her 1980s outfit.

Saturday, June 27

Marrying Is Half the Battle

For Mother's Day, my wife, The Countess, wanted a pole chain saw to prune with. OK, I said. This is not a surprise to me or anyone who knows her. She's a tomboy, a term that's faded alongside our limited notions of skill sets and expectations. The world spins a little slower since March, so we have lots of time to beat back the treeline.

Based on a photo of her posing proudly with her new gagdet, I worked up a classic '80s GI Joe card for her. I decided to try to paint it, if you'll pardon the term, in Photoshop.

Monday, June 1

Zorii Bliss

Love that costume and helmet. Hope we can see more of her in future Star Wars shows.

This was done with PITT pens, Sharpies, and Spectrum Noir markers.

Saturday, May 30

Cooking With Kurt, An X-Men Fan Short

Met a guy on Twitter last year, GreekHeat, who asked if I would be interested in drawing up an X-Men comic -- something just for fun as we're both big fans of Nightcrawler. Sure, I said. That sounds cool.

It would also be good exercise for me. When I write my own stuff, I tend to write in my comfort zone on backgrounds and situations. Rooftop hero conversations and the like. When I've had the chance to draw other folks' scripts, they make me branch out and level up.

Also, when someone asks if you want to draw anything X-related, the answer is yes. Always yes.

Earlier this month, I again posted my enduring love for Nightcrawler, and I quickly got a DM saying, "oh, hey, I got the script I mentioned last year." I was all for it. I am currently on page 56 of an original 100-page graphic novel, and I could use the break for all the above-mentioned reasons, but also because I am sick of drawing these people.

He sent a three-pager starring Nightcrawler and Colossus, and it takes place in the mansion, and it includes a mob of mutant kids and a surly Logan. Yes, of course I would draw this. I'm posting the behind-the-scenes art after the story, but let's just jump to the good stuff.

Nice, right? That's fun stuff.

And here's how I did it.

GreekHeat sent me the script via Google Docs, and I started simple page layouts. He had everything broken down by panel and page, making my job 50 percent easier. I sent him the sketches for his OK.

I then got to work on page two, because that one terrified me. Interior perspective? Angled birds-eye view? Gah.

When I felt like I had a splash that included all the script asked for, I moved to tight pencils.

After getting GreekHeat's OK on these, I moved to inks. Amateur Tip: Talk to your writers. Show them your work. That way they know you're making progress, and they can adjust things before you move to inks. Maybe you didn't leave enough room for the word balloons. They can catch stuff like that. Make things easy on yourself. Communicate.

I lightboxed the pencils onto new comic boards and used markers and PITT pens for the inks. After getting the OK on those, I lettered them. GreekHeat had a small change in the dialogue, and I was able to fix that and send it back for the OK. Then we released it into the wild. 

I highly recommend this to flex some art muscles and bond with your fellow fans, whatever that fandom is. I can go back to my hack GN with a refreshed eye for camera angles and body language and composition. This has made me, yes, a better artist, and for that I thank GreekHeat.

Also, I learned how I prefer to depict BAMFs. When I tried to copy those of other artists, they all looked flat. I like my BAMFs. 

Friday, April 24


Drew Adam Warren’s Empowered after binging the most recent two volumes. It’s the only (kinda?) manga I read because I don’t know enough about the medium. But this is energetic comics with surprisingly deep emotional moments. This was done with a new range of markers I hope to get comfortable with.

Sunday, April 19

Viva la Pepper

I was reminded this week of the biggest mistake in the MCU: Pepper losing her powers at the end of Iron Man 3. A legit origin story with no connection to an infinity stone wasted.

Friday, April 17

Six Fan Arts

I got into the social media trend and asked for drawing requests. I got a lot. 40 of them.

Here's what I made. This was fun, and it was a nice break from my graphic novel work.