Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sit Tight, Skeezix

The past couple months have been pretty tense, Skeezix-wise, as the prospect of pre-term labor has been with us pretty constantly. But the Adorable Progeny has hung in so far, and every day he does he gets stronger and more developed. So listen to your father, Skeezix, and stay put for another ten weeks, okay?

The line quoted is from Sea Dreams by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Sea Dreams is a narrative poem about a family coping with getting swindled out of their savings, but the following is often excerpted as Cradle Song for collections of children's poetry:

What does the little birdie say
In her nest at peep of day?

Let me fly, says little birdie,
Mother, let me fly away.

Birdie, rest a little longer,
Till the little wings are stronger.

So she rests a little longer,
Then she flies away.

What does little baby say,
In her bed at peep of day?

Baby says, like little birdie,
Let me rise and fly away.

Baby, sleep a little longer,
Till the little limbs are stronger.

If she sleeps a little longer,
Baby too shall fly away.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Danger!

I'm blogging mid-movie, here. I penciled this during the first half hour of Danger: Diabolik, inked during the rest of the movie, and colored it and am posting it while listening to the commentary.

Danger: Diabolik is great fun, by the way. If you found a couple of thirteen year old boys who just happened to be cinematic geniuses and gave them a budget, this is the movie you'd end up with. Everyone either dies or makes-out. Highly recommended.

Or, you know, if you don't have time, you could just watch this. Same difference.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Coccinellidae Crusher!

Here's another runner-up for my latest Fist-a-Cuffs combatant. I'd wanted to make a character named Ladybug for awhile, both because it was the Lovely Wife's childhood nickname, but also for the potential contrast between cute and kick-ass.

Forcefield armor isn't exactly a new idea, but it was still fun taking my turn at drawing it. As was trying to draw a big, brawny ladybug.

I thought I saw a girl wearing this hoody on the street one day. When I realized she was wearing something else, I had to use what I thought I'd seen for something.

The forcefield is generated by the box at her waist. The goggles are for, uhm... Ladybug vision?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

December, 1997, pt. 5

And now, we near the end of the Sketchbook of Christmas Past. I think I'm back in Richmond for these pages, spending a day with the girlfriend before boarding a bus back to New York.

Two items of note on this page: 1. Me playing with words, perhaps with (gawd help us all) poetry in mind; and 2. I have made a note of Scott McCloud's peculiar notion, the 24-Hour Comic.


This drawing bears at least a passing resemblance to the girlfriend's cat, Gunther, who liked to have sex with my socks.


And we end as all sketchbooks should, with puppies.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Patron Saint of Mean Old Bastards

What with the madness and all, I completely missed my chance to hype the latest round of Fist-a-Cuffs, the battle-blog for daring doodles. Trying out the whole "late is better than never" theory, I thought I'd share my slush-pile on the way to developing the combatant I actually submitted.

This was a three-person tag-team round: two fighters and a manager. I came up with Ol' St. Bastard here as a manager character.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

December, 1997, pt. 4

Christmas Vacation, ten years ago, has been previously blogged here, here, and here.

Okay, so I've left my father's house for the maternal end of the ol' familial gauntlet. But first, a haircut.

The next several sketches are from my maternal grandparents' place. I'm not too sure why I was playing around with Latin (my one year of Latin has now completely degenerated to "Amo Amas Amat" and a phrase which I take on faith as being dirty), but the first quote's reference to the New Sun is a clue that I'd dug through some boxes of paperbacks in the basement, and was rereading Gene Wolfe. More on this, later.

Oh, also, that lamp that's just barely doodled shows up again in my story "The Baker's Son." Should you be interested.

The mantle clock was made by Silas Hoadley. Hoadley was a clock maker in the in the early-19th Century, known for making clocks with wooden movements. My grandfather was pretty sure that he was related to Hoadley on his mother's side, and his two Hoadley clocks were prized possessions.

I have no idea how the chronology works here—these are sketches from the Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, VA. Why are they in the middle of this visit? Maybe I made a quick trip up there? Maybe I just drew in the middle of my notebook when I was there earlier? I dunno. But, hey, "Shardula" is a pretty cool word, huh?

Here's the second of my grandfather's Hoadley clocks. This clock has been gracing my studio for the past year. And look! It's my mom with my then-brand-new niece, Sophie! Needless to say, Sophie has grown.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

This One The Dire Wraiths Fear More Than All Others

You know who I love? ROM, that's who. I am the exact perfect age to remember and have been captivated by every single stage of the Spaceknight's brief career. I realize that this might be hard to imagine , but there was a time when the idea of a toy with blinking lights and electronic breathing noises was very exciting. The first Star Wars movie was still a pretty recent memory, and this toy was like owning your very own special effects!

Of course the toy was very expensive, and I never so much as knew a kid who owned it. And, in the turns-out-those-grapes-actually-are-pretty-sour department (TOTGAAPS), it was a pretty lousy action figure, having something like half a point of articulation. But, aw man, the dreams ROM inspired.

And then there was the ROM comic, a merchandise tie-in comic that had no right to be good, and by today's standards probably isn't, but in 1982 I would have fought you for saying as much. There was quite a while there when ROM was my favorite character in the Marvel Universe (which is pretty much saying he was my favorite character in all of literature). The dustbins of juvenilia contain more than a few passionately scribbled attempts to figure out what my Spaceknight incarnation would look like.

ROM's comic lasted 75 issues, and each and every one of them was written by Bill Mantlo. In 1992, Mantlo was the victim of a hit-and-run accident while roller blading, and will probably spend the rest of his life in a nursing care facility. Floating World Comics is hosting an art show to raise money for Mantlo's continued care on December 6th, which will include the above contribution. For those of us not in Portland, Oregon, a book will be available of the work donated to the show. I hope you'll consider donating, or buying a print, or a copy of the book. Do it for Mantlo! Do it for ROM!

Friday, November 30, 2007

December, 1997, pt. 3

Still tracking my Christmas vacation during my first year of grad school; still at my Dad's place. The bird is Popeye, an Eclectus parrot. My father has quite a few parrots. They all hate me. Popeye here once climbed out of his cage, walked on his little bird feet in a straight line through three rooms, climbed up the side of a couch, across the couch to where I was reading, and bit my thumb. It is a resolute hate.

This was, apparently, the year I took up the foolish notion of learning the recorder, even though no one of the entire planet likes music played on a recorder. I practiced diligently for months, until I was defeated by "Short'nin' Bread."

Holy Moly! We're just getting to dinner? This may be the single sketchiest of day of my whole sketching life.

Uhm... and old lantern?

And me looking emo-tastic in a window's reflection that night when I can't sleep.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wondering About Wondering About Wonder Woman

Project Rooftop has just posted the winners and finalists of the Wonder Woman Wardrobe War, featuring special guest commentator Gail Simone! There's some really nice stuff over there. Joe Quinones' piece just may make you swear off drawing forever, but that's okay, because Maris' will have you reaching for the pens to make up some rootin'-tootin' adventures for her adorable Wonder Woman. And, of course, Ming Doyle just rocks it.

In other news, I was just interviewed by the Associate Press (Cincinnati) about comics in colleges. I don't know when the article will run, and one never knows how widely an AP story will carry, and, geez I don't even take a paper, so if anyone sees this article, I'd appreciate you bringing it to my attention. Always good to have things like that in the job file.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

December, 1997, pt. 2

Continuing the look back through an old sketchbook filled up during a ten-day Christmas vacation, here's some more of my day out at my father's place.

I received this book as a Christmas present, a book I was inordinately fond of. It was stolen from my studio within the year. Ah, art students.

Bric-a-brac.

Chicken coop.

Hoss.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Forbidden Sins Deleted Scene

By amazing coincidence, just after friend-of-the-blog, Stephen Eidson, requested a sketch from Forbidden Sins, even though I explicitly stated that I had already documented every second in which I appeared in the movie, I just happened to remember a little extra footage of me from later in the movie.

Funny how memory works, huh? Anyway, not my most dignified moment, but I think it ties up the Polygraph Technician's arc nicely.

Monday, November 05, 2007

More Reasons to Fear My Power

What do Darkseid, Dr. Doom, Galactus, and I have in common? Exquisite fashion sense? Unquenched and unquenchable thirst for power? Being created by Jack Kirby? Yes, yes, but also: we have all been listed by CBR as among the 365 reasons to love comics! Nice!

While I'm checking through my blog hits, here's some other points of interest:

PopMatters has reviewed the latest issue of Ballyhoo Stories, which is my first issue as the magazine's comics editor. I'm proud of the line-up of cartoonists who contributed, and delighted by their work, and it's nice to see that some other folks liked it, too.

A strip from this very blog is assigned reading for a comics writing workshop at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education.

And from the always amusing realm of Google search phrases: while most Googlers swing by the blog looking for good deals on beeswax, or information on encaustic painting, there's still a steady stream of disappointed folks searching for "Supergirl upskirt" and "how to draw Ironhide" (the transforming robot, not the cursing sailor). But the hot news is the sudden increase in Shannon Tweed fans and searches for "porn movie mistakes."

Ah, geeky, horny internet, you're so delightfully predicatble. Which is why I'm changing the name of this blog to "Supergirl and Catwoman making out in a Gundam."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ghost Robot!

Flee! Flee before the ectotronic terror of... The Phantomaton 2000!

Is it the ghost of a robot who died, or a robot made out of ghosts? What is its nefarious purpose? Why is it looking at your Wii like that?

Some people say the Ghost Robot doesn't exist, that it is the fever-dream of technofetishphobiacs and crack-addled fishwives. But we know better, oh yes, we do.

B000000001110101111000010100001000001001100000000!

edit: more shocking evidence here.

another edit: footage of the Ghost Robot in motion! so, now we know it's not just a pie plate on a string.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Two Matters of Grave Importance

Pal and one-time collaborator, Chris Radtke, writes to ask if I might turn the mighty tide that is the Beeswax audience towards a vital debate raging on his website: Who would win in a fight, a minotaur with a trident or a centaur with a crossbow?

What makes this different from other nerd fights circulating the internet is the caliber of celebrity judges. George Clooney? Paul Reubens? Jennifer Love Hewitt? Ozzie? Yes, all these and more. My favorite may be unflapped Tiger Woods, who responds as though it was the most normal, even routine, question in the world.

Okay, now, the subject of this debate is as close as I'm going to get to an appropriate segue-way for a topic that has been weighing heavily on me these last few days. Bear with me a moment, will you? I'm not shy about letting my geek flag fly, right? You've seen me draw superheroes in the past, and you know I'll do it again. But before I was a comics geek, I was a role-playing geek. And any role-playing geek my age was weened on the polyhedral teat of Dungeons & Dragons. It's not a system I remember fondly. In fact, I hold D&D in the kind of disdain you can only summon for a childhood love outgrown: the rules are sloppy; the random attribute generation means either lopsided characters or cheating; the emphasis on walking through rooms killing monsters and looting their bodies is narratively impoverished; and, worst of all, the untextured high-fantasy aesthetic is just plain puerile and annoying. And, goldang it, why all the dice? Build a game on a pair of ten-sided percentile dice and be done with it.

So why do I keep daydreaming about this?

What's even weirder is that I don't even want to play. I just want to read the new Player's Handbook and roll up a few characters. What the hell is wrong with me?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

December, 1997, pt. 1

Here's some images from one of my favorite old sketchbooks.

My first year of grad school, I filled a pocket-sized sketchbook during a ten day Christmas vacation.

I drew the first page while waiting to catch the bus to Virginia, and drew last on the bus ride back.

Not only can I chart where I was during the each section of the sketchbooks (bus station, bus, girlfriend's, Dad's, grandparents, bus), but what I was thinking about.

The preceding pages were from the Girlfriend stage of the tour. The psychologically astute among you may to pick up on a certain ambivalence I had regarding the relationship.

Now I'm at my Dad's place.

This sort of relentless resposnive doodling isn't easy. It precludes all sorts of other activities, like, say, socializing because you're always nose-deep in your sketchbook.

But dang, if it doesn't keep the artistic chops up.

This sketchbook represents me at my sketching peak, but I kept the habit up pretty well for years... until I moved to Memphis. I've tried, but there's something about Memphis that I just find singularly uninspiring.

More to come!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Jellyfish

I decided, back at the beginning of the semester, to draw an animal everyday. This lasted all of three days. This is the third one.

Jellyfish, jellyfish, jellyfish... do I have any interesting stories or associations with jellyfish? Uhm... I ate one once. Bought it in Chinatown, and took it as a gift to my brother in Maine. We dumped it in some soup. It pretty much dissolved and slightly thickened the broth. No particular flavor to report.

I used to wondered where jellyfish ranked on the karmic ladder. I figure it's either right at the bottom (they pretty much just float around all day, just kinda accepting whatever comes to them), or right at the top (they pretty much just float around all day, just kinda accepting whatever comes to them). Is there any chance that jellyfish are the physical manifestation of those who have achieved Nirvana?

But now I see that that's a pretty foolish notion. The dwellers of Nirvana are clearly Tardigrades. Which is a nice thought, because there's a lot of them.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Inkling

I'm in the process of reorganizing my studio (read: organizing my studio) in order to minimize clutter (read: shoving everything up in the attic) and free up a little space (read: nursery).

I emptied out a couple drawers of sketchbooks, this morning. It is both exhilarating and embarrassing to look back through these things. Sometimes I feel jealous of my previous self for having ideas that seem fresher and more earnest that my what I'm doodling now. Mostly, I just cringe at the naiveté and often-crappy drawing.

In any case, it is impossible to go through a pile of old sketchbooks and not flip through them, and these were some of the first pages I opened to. I remember thinking about two characters, Inkling and Spot, but not drawing these pages.




That's kinda fun, right? Maybe, before they go to live among the rafters, I should do a little more sketchbook scanning.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Forgotten Mistakes/Forbidden Sins

They can't all be good decisions, right? And, we are collectively learning that the Internet makes it pretty hard to keep out mistakes safely buried in the past. Thanks to Google, entirely too many people know about my undergraduate fascination with the Atari Lynx, my affinity for shore diving, and, yes, my brief acting turn in an erotic thriller.

It was 1998, I was living in New York, going to grad school. I was meeting a lot of interesting people, including some actors, directors, and production artists. One day, while sitting in my studio, staring at a blank piece of watercolor paper, I received a call from an acquaintance who needed bodies in a hurry. There wasn't much budget, there wasn't much time, and they were pretty much dragging in anyone who owed them a favor or, like myself, was naive enough to think of it as an adventure.

The movie was Forbidden Sins, starring Shannon Tweed. All you need to know about it can be gleaned from the IMDB's plot keywords: "Sex scene standing up," "Lesbian Scene," and "Nude woman murdered."

I was supposed to be an extra, milling around in the back of a police station. But, when an actor flaked out, I, being the right height for the blocking and already in schleppy-cop costume, was suddenly promoted the role of "Polygraph Technician." And so, a star was born. A star that shone all the brighter for shining so briefly.

A fair number of people have been stumbling across this little gem from my past lately, and asking me about it. To save everyone the trouble of renting this soft-porn turkey, I've lovingly adapted the entirety of my screen time into easily-digestible comics format, below. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Forbidden Sins.

That's right. Death by orgy, baby.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pack 'em up!

I'm feeling pretty good on the home-front, these days. The Lovely Wife is not only knocked all the hell up, but has returned to her native soil from the wendigo-haunted hinterlands of Darkest Canada (she wears the scars of her year in the maple syrup mines with the quiet dignity of one who has looked into the frozen heart of the beast and did not blink).

But, at least until Apple shows us all how to convert our possessions into digital files and carry them around in a tastefully designed hip-top device, coming home means packing, and packing just ain't no fun.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Spoiler Alert!

Well, Young Mr. Trippe is up to his meme-jinks, once again. This time, it's Stephanie Brown, aka "Spoiler," aka "The girl Robin who got killed real fast and then ignored."

I've never been a particular fan of Robin, but I did buy the three issues or so when Stephanie wore the red-breast. A girl Robin caught my imagination, and seemed like a interesting pants-kick to the Batman-plus-one dynamic. It quickly became apparent that the writer was only pursuing this storyline because of editorial mandate, and that said mandate ended with Stephanie getting hers. Feh.

Anyway, Dean himself has drawn a very nice take on the character.
Jemma Salume, Joel Carroll, and Ming Doyle all have great ones, too. And many more to come, I'll warrant.

I'm not sure why I drew my Stephanie in the company of Hal Jordan and Metamorpho. But I'm glad Metamorpho is in the lead. That cat looks like he's got a plan.

Donkey

If I have a totem animal, it must surely be a donkey. Because I definitely have a totem garment, and it's a rumpled tweed jacket. And donkeys pretty much all look like they're wearing rumpled tweed jackets.

That, my friend, is logic.