Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Under The Influences

Proper scan coming later. This piece, "Under The Influences", is for the Gallery Nucleus show based on Saturday morning cartoons of days gone by called "After These Messages...". A lot of great artists will be there displaying homages to their favorite animated characters, and hopefully you'll be able to pick up prints of this at the show. When I thought about what to draw, I couldn't pick just one character so I decided to draw all of them.

For those interested, here's a list of the shows I drew from going right to left (sort of): poochie, popples, strawberry shortcake, rose petal place, peter pan and the pirates, snorks, my little pony, care bears, alvin and the chipmunks/the chippettes, miracle girls, the muppet babies, shampoo and ryoga from ranma 1/2, paddington bear, the wuzzles, rainbow brite, that cheesy zelda cartoon, magical fairy persia (my first ever anime, age 8!), tiny toons, and more ranma 1/2. I'm missing quite a few series, but it would've messed up the composition. Drawing all these characters, I realized how much they added to my visual vocabulary. It also made me realize how much television I watched when I was little, and made me wonder what the psychological effects were, if any. Well I'm a cartoonist now so I guess that's saying somethin'...

Anyway, the opening is on Feb. 10th from 7-11pm. Hope to see some of you there! Tomorrow I get to scan chapter 4, make shabu shabu for Svet and Dee (visiting from far off places!), and have a lovely girly slumber party with the two of them. Can't wait! =)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Chapter 4 marathon -- finished.

Eight more inks. Chapter 4 marathon finished. Now there's chapters 5 and 6, plus the chap. 4-6 tone marathons. I don't know if I'll be blogging photos of those, but I have to say thank you to everyone that replied with encouragement, enthusiasm, and interest while I documented this one. It really bolstered my morale for working to finish this project in so many ways, and I'm very grateful. =)

I'm also very grateful for Sorcerers & Secretaries accolades. The first book made it onto ALA/YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens 2007 list, an honorable mention on Publisher's Weekly first annual critic's poll, comicsworthreading.com's Best of Year list, and a nomination for the Cybil awards. Thank you for tipping your hats at my first book! There were so many great graphic novels that came out this year, so check out those lists if you want recommendations! Some of the lists are old news, but I was too embarrassed to post about it earlier...

Also an interesting discussion on the John Byrne forum that Kazu pointed out to me. Here's an excerpt from one of John Byrne's posts:

Once upon a time, comics used to be able to offer something Hollywood couldn't. The way I expressed it was that when George Lucas wanted to film an alien planet, he had to take his crew to Tunisia, whereas I shot on location.

Comics had a "bigness" that the movies didn't. To do in a movie what Jack Kirby did in a comic would either cost most of the production budget, or run the risk of looking incredibly cheesy. But that's not so, anymore. Computer graphics have provided moviemakers with essentially the same "pallette" Kirby had -- if you want that alien cityscape, or that starship, or that incredible parallel dimension, you simply create it in the computer.

So, when we see something like STAR WARS, or SKY CAPTAIN, or SPIDER-MAN, we see the stuff that used to be strictly the province of comics -- and we see it bigger and better.

What's odd, tho, is that the current crop of comic creators seems largely to have responded to this challenge by backing down. They have effectively surrendered to Hollywood, saying "I can't do what they do, so I will do less." So we get painted panels of Tony Stark talking on his cell phone. We get heroes standing around arguing with each other. We get whole issues in which the title character does not appear in costume. (We are, after all, embarassed by costumes. Hollywood told us we should be.)

What we don't get, except very rarely, is the kind of over-the-top stuff that used to be the cornerstone of superhero comics. We don't get Superman smashing thru walls, we get him sitting on clouds. We don't get the Hulk ripping tanks apart, we get page after page of Bruce Banner feeling sorry for himself.

I don't feel like I have any expertise in the area of superhero comics, I stopped reading them around the time Gen13 came out, and to be honest I have only the vaguest notion of who John Byrne is. But I thought it was an intriguing insight.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Chapter 4 marathon, part 2 -- first 22 pages

Six more pages. Eight left. I must've listened to this song ten times today while I drew. >_<

I took a break partway through to watch a bit of Empire of Dreams, the documentary that comes with one of the Star Wars box sets. I was never a big fan of Star Wars or George Lucas, but after the documentary I've come to really respect and admire the guy along with the trilogy. With the first two films he really gave it his all, and worked himself to exhaustion under very stressful and uncertain circumstances to get his vision across the way he wanted. I found it very inspiring and would recommend the documentary to any creative as a good reminder that great things can be done with hard work, faith in yourself and your vision, and determination.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Chapter 4 marathon, part 2 -- first 16 pages

Six more inks! Is this getting repetative yet? Try doing it for 170 pages...

Speaking of which, Tim Beedle wrote an interesting checklist of tips for aspiring comic book artists. I could make a checklist of my own, but it's interesting to hear the editor's perspective. There are several of his points that I need to work on, myself.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Chapter 4 marathon -- continued

And so it resumes! First ten pages of chapter 4 inked. 20 to go. Dunno if I'll be able to go quite as quickly as I did with the pencils, but inking is a nice, relaxing activity (although my hand hurts at the end of the night.)

As for the story, I tried rewriting the last three chapters using an alternate chain of events. I tried to let the characters guide me, allowing them to act the way they wanted as I wrote. The result was completely unhappy, and not what I wanted the ending of S&S to feel like at all. The last version of the script was much better. There are still a couple minor kinks, but I think the basic emotions are spot on. The emotional story that's told is what's most important to me, so I think I'll stick with it for now and continue on the marathon for chapter 4.

I've also been obsessing over a certain show after Lillian suggested it might be on youtube. Sadly, there's only 15 episodes. Luckily, they're all online. Cupid was created by Rob Thomas of Veronica Mars fame, so VM is something I'm really looking forward to finally checking out... someday soon hopefully. =P

Monday, January 22, 2007

Chapter 4 marathon -- paused

So I inked about four pages, and will slowly work on them but don't expect frequent updates like last week.

I had a story meeting with the amazing Phil Craven (who is also a fan of the romantic comedy genre) and of course my honey Kazu regarding some of the little kinks in the end of the book 2 script. Well, those little kinks wound up unravelling large chunks of the story which are all thankfully in book 2 alone. I'll have to go back and redraw a handful of pages. The script as it is, is just "pretty good!". But I want it to be pristinely awesome. I want the reader to be moved and amused, not just mildly entertained.

Something I learned from my last book is that I want to feel like I did the best job I could with every project I put my hands on. I have a hard time feeling proud of myself for a mediocre effort, and my book will suffer for it if I don't give it my all. Since this will be the last book, I need to give it my best shot.

So because I'll be working on story stuff intensely as I ink, I think blogging more often will get boring. I'll update again when I have a good chunk of work that I can share with you guys in terms of progress photos. Until then, wish me luck!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Chapter 4 pencils finished.

Chapter four pencils DONE. Too tired to spread all the pages out like the previous photos...(can you see all the eraser crumbs?) It turns out there were only six pages left (not seven), but since I was so off today from last night, it was a long time before I could get into it. The first two pages took me from 9pm-2am, last four took me from 2am-6am. At least I got to go to the gym and have a nice dinner with Kazu before that.

For both the writing and pencilling stage, I find myself staying up the latest because the outcome of the pages depends on my mood. For writing, I have to put a lot of thought and feeling into it, and it's hard writing a good romantic scene, for example, when you're not in a romantic mood and thinking about how you have to do laundry or something. And when I'm pencilling it's like I'm acting, so I have to have a lot of focus and emotion. Usually I have to put my headphones on with scene-appropriate music to get me into the mood of the characters' feelings, and I have to totally ignore everything around me.

Tomorrow I get to clean my desk and print out the bluelines for the inking stage. It'll be a nice, brain-free day! Hopefully I can squeeze a movie and some veg-out time in between.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Chapter 4 marathon -- part 1.7

Eight more pages. So... twenty-four done, seven to go.

I felt like calling it a night around page 4 today, but instead I turned off the side of my brain that said "stop" and just kept going. Luckily I got lost in my audio book and before I knew it I reached my dream quota for the night (Barack Obama kept me awake better than coffee, so thanks, Barack!).

6am. Time for bed. Wonder if I'll be able to wrap up the pencils tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Chapter 4 marathon -- part 1.3

First sixteen pages out of thirty-one for chapter four (out of six chapters). Fifteen to go until I have to clean my desk again for inking.

Kazu paints on his computer behind me, and it keeps me going:

For those that asked, I'm drawing on plain old copy machine paper. I made myself a Tokyopop page proportioned thumbnail template, and made about 100 copies for the rest of the book's pencils.

Also, I'm listening to lots of Tears for Fears. Here's a great song (gotta love Roland's hair!): Famous Last Words

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Life is good

These past couple days have been good. I've been spending my last week or so doing rewrites for chapter four since I was having a hard time getting into drawing the pages. And if I don't enjoy drawing the pages, it's a bad sign for the reader! I'm happy to say though, that everything worked itself out and the script is good as gold (except for some more tinkering halfway through chapter six, but there's still time for that...!).

And so, to celebrate I thought I'd share some badly shot photos of a couple things that have been keeping me smiling while I toil away at S&S2.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Waiting For The Bus

The holidays were really good to me. I got to see my Mom and brother Tim, and had some good time off. It gave me time to think. I let off a lot of steam on poor Kazu about how frustrated I was doing comics, and I was about ready to quit. In fact I was telling a few friends how I was going to try doing something else for a while.

But I still had book 2 to finish, and I didn't want to do it with a defeatist attitude. Still, the ending was really frustrating me. It was 15% off the mark, and there was no way I was going to just keep drawing blindly, hoping it would work out in the end as I usually do. No one had read chapter 3, or chapters 1-3 all at once yet and given me any substantial feedback. This was really self-imposed. I didn't want to bug people about it, but this time I was really stuck. So I reluctantly forced poor Kazu to read it for me. After reading it, we had a little story meeting and with a simple sentence he fixed all the problems I've been having with the last three chapters. I can't describe how happy this made me, because not only did it make me excited for S&S again, but it also lifted all my fears and doubts about being a comic artist. Silly, isn't it? I didn't understand it until I had a chat with Jen Quick about our profession. As a graphic novelist, these works aren't serialized and you spend most of your time in your imagination without any reaction to your work but your own, the days can become depressingly lonely. I think this was at the root of my negative feelings about comics lately.

I feel so lucky to be with someone that can understand what I'm going through, and I need to remember to share my work more often with close friends and family (and my awesome editor!). In the least, it will give me a feeling of collaboration so I won't thing I'm flying solo all the time.

With a renewed enthusiasm for the characters, I was inspired to do this cintiq painting of Nicole and Josh waiting for a bus in Flushing, Queens (in my imagination, not accurate to the real Flushing!). I always want to do these kinds of images, but am either too lazy or lacked the confidence to give it a good try. And really, doing this painting didn't take me more than a day. I feel like I'm learning good lessons doing this series, and there's nothing else I would want to do right now than work on it.

By the way, according to amazon book 2 of Sorcerers & Secretaries comes out June 12th.