Saturday, November 28, 2009

COMICS FOR ALL AGES 02 _ More Gordo!

It's been busy times with new pages and the Thanksgiving holiday.

I'll be returning next week with more comic art and new insights, especially after attending my first class with Klaus Janson (!) at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in NYC.

For now, more Gordo and friends!

Friday, November 20, 2009


Sorry for the late post. Been busy on new comic pages.

In honor of the upcoming birth of my new niece and her soon-to-be big brother Peter, I thought I would post some art from a cartoon pitch of mine that I would like to revisit as a comic strip for kids.

Here are the intro comic panels from the pitch book and an illustration of Gordo along with his mother Nellie (as in, "Whoa Nellie!").

A bonus illustration of Sesame Street's Snuffleupagus and his baby sister Alice inspired by Peter.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

COMMISSIONS _ The Art of the Pin-Up

One of the draws of a comic convention, and now through online commissions, is to get your favorite artists to illustrate your favorite characters. While the other half of Big Apple Comic Con was devoted to acquiring autographs from some shooting stars of TV, screen, and wrestling ring, the real celebrities were the paper heroes of Marvel and DC. Situated at the perfect center of Artists' Alley, I still found it difficult to get passers-by at the con to notice my FREE Frozen Dark mini-comic. But, there were plenty of unestablished artists who increased their traffic with the promise of familiar four-color friends.

And, you can often ask for anything you want! Where else can you play out your Alien Legion Vs. Alien fantasies?

Some of my favorite comics artists, Alex Maleev and Paolo Rivera come to mind, have productive side gigs as commissioned illustrators. Others, like Chris Samnee and Michael Cho, were brought to my attention specifically because of the skill they brought to the design demands of the single page.

Chris often eschews line and renders full volume in shadow and negative space. His subjects mythically emerge and recede from the page.

Michael has a printer's eye for flats and his heroes feel like they are preserved in Pop Art amber.

In both cases familiar characters are reborn through the personalized treatment of the artist. I don't feel like I yet have the clout or consistency to garner commissions but have plied my trade through the "Artists/ Non-Artists" threads on the Bendis Board.

By following the arbitrary request of the board member Fygar I am compelled to render a character that I might not otherwise think to sketch AND post it for an audience of peers.

Here are a few recent examples of my negotiation between the mystique of a character with a considered approach to the illustration style:

I've owed my buddy Roy, co-founder of the Cartoonists' Association of Rutgers, this sketch for about ten years. He kindly reminded me when I ran into him at a con and I was inspired to try a color version of Chris Samnee's approach while marrying some Kirby and Zeck like chocolate and peanut butter.

SUPER MARIO So there's the Brooklyn plumber that kills turtles and enchanted mushrooms by jumping on their heads. Sounds violent.

Not my favorite hero and I don't even read him regularly. But, I wanted to communicate that he's young, thin, immensely powerful, and possesses the best costume of the last 10 years.

FREDDY KRUEGER I had no interest in drawing Freddy. A realistic interpretation with all of the burn scars and posturing seemed like a chore. As I doodled, I discovered the character's wily side. Lithe and coy, perched on a flaming child's skull, I actually feel like I nailed the narrative of the character in this one.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

FROZEN DARK _ The Full Mini-Comic

I was never in a band. I never had the after-school garage practices, sweaty basement shows, or packed-van touring. No local fans or feuds among friends. But now, Swifty is right when he says that this Blacklight Comics collaboration is the closest approximation we have to doing the rock band thing. If that's the case, Frozen Dark is our first single.

Here's a LINK to the full comic as a Google Doc. We printed a number of copies for the Big Apple Comic Con and there is still the intention to include it in a friend's horror anthology. This doc is also a temporary home as we set up our main site.

As our first complete story, there's a lot being worked out on the page.

I soon discovered that a cast of young, bald, boys in similar dress was confusing in terms of identifying the players. Although the three main orphans are aged apart, I added a white shawl to our protagonist, Azuba, to better distinguish him with an iconic accent.

In terms of illustration influences, I was clearly looking at Asian brushwork, particularly the Vietnamese artist Huy Toan, to achieve a line that was as loose and descriptive as possible. I believe I succeeded in exactly one panel (which, from what I hear from other artists and on comic podcasts, is a pretty good ratio).

I had always pictured designing the page on biased grids to heighten tension, drive focus, and mirror the driving snow. However, I do think the layout can overtake the story at times and I certainly ran into a number of issues when resolving the design across adjacent pages.

We also started with the initial premise of having to make a midnight bathroom trip in a foreboding landscape. Then, the goal was to build to something more without losing the initial sense of dread. It's especially difficult to surprise a comic reader when all of the panels are already visible on the page. There's the added risk of being too opaque or corny or obvious when handling material that should be horrific.

Please take a look and come back to let us know how it read for you.

If you're interested, I've also discussed the story and toning of Frozen Dark in previous posts.