Aqua Vastum

2013-05-04 11.39.14

For my FCBD mini-comic this year I had been planning one of my typical whimsy-laden picture books, complete with broken verse and adorable protagonists. However, a couple weeks before the event I attended a local Community Cinema showing of “The Island President.” The film illuminated many facets of our modern environmental situation that I have somehow managed to ignore, or at least kept at arm’s length. When it was all shown to me at such a personal and immediate scale, they leapt into focus. It became important that I somehow capture my feelings on the matter, so as to remind me later when it all seemed less pressing, and that night I went home and click-clacked a manic e-mail to myself. The next day I refined those ramblings into the script for “Aqua Vastum,” which I hope can convey unto you some of the intensity I felt that evening.

If you haven’t checked into Community Cinema programs in your area, I highly recommend it, I have yet to attend a showing that didn’t spark conversations for weeks to come. And I especially appreciate WCTE for putting on our local showings here in Cookeville.

If you would like to print copies of “Aqua Vastum” for educational purposes, please contact me and I will be glad to get you a pdf. I’ve also set up a quick link for this post, at bit.ly/aquavastum , if you’d like a fast way to share the comic.

Thanks for reading!

 

FCBD 2013

Free Comic Book Day is back! Hip! Holler! Hooray!!!

Had a blast out at Mountain Top Comics, as I always do. Got together with Bryan, Joe, Shannon, Kevin, and Orlando (I don’t have links for all of you guys, let me know and I’ll update this:) to do free sketches for everyone who came out, and it was great. Here is a big parade of my frenzied marker sketches:

Thanks so much to everyone who braved the rain in the name of comics and art, it was grand to see you!

“We The People” mini-comic

Here is a mini-comic I created in an attempt to condense my concerns over our current political climate. While the comic itself was initiated by my train of thought after Obama’s DNC speech (and yes, I am a bit slow getting this out:) it truly is a Party neutral editorial, dealing more with the concern and civic responsibility we voters should have when approaching this election. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and if it resounds with you at all, please pass it along.

 

FCBD and My New Book!

Hi guys! I’ve got all sorts of exciting announcements for you today.

Right off the bat, I want to pass along a bit of good press received for myself and my art in the local newspaper. It was a great article written by the talented Megan Trotter, and I really appreciate it.

Even though it is mentioned in the article, here is another reminder to schedule in some time for Free Comic Book Day tomorrow. It’s an amazing worldwide event, entirely free, and is a great way to support comics, get yourself reaquainted with current stories, find all new favorite books, and to introduce someone new to the medium. Every year there is a book I add to my list purely because of its FCBD sample, and I would never have found these gems otherwise. Do yourself a favor, find a shop near you.

And if you are in the Upper Cumberland area, why not come on out to Mountain Top Comics in Cookeville? There will be an all day event, with all the usual free comic wonderfulness, as well as several local artists (including myself!) doing free sketches for those who come by. I will also have free copies of my new mini-comic, “Frolic Not The Mount.” It’s a good’un! And since the shop is located just a few minutes from the movie theater, you can drop by on your way to see The Avengers (which was so good I have not the words to properly express myself:)

Now, my Big News is the formal announcement of my new book, “Sadbot: A Lackluster Love Story.”

Here’s the official back-cover-blurb: Ted Robo isn’t naïve about love, he’s just rather inexperienced.  A brutal breakup leaves him crestfallen, dour and discouraged from ever romancing again.  But even a sad robot can be pulled from the bitter depths of heartbreak.  With the help of his farcically benevolent buddies, a few wayward blind dates, and one tiny but true aquatic friend, Ted reluctantly embarks upon a quest for happiness.  And who knows, if he keeps his antenna up, he might even find it.

It is an 84 page large format (8.5″x11″) black and white paperback collecting a variety of the Sadbot comics I have posted online over the past five years. Included are the “Origin,” “Barbot,” and “These Three Dates” stories, previously only published at Inanimate Shorts. There is also a brand new 11 page Sadbot story, “Monstrorigin,” detailing how Ted came to meet his fishy friend. And there is an Author’s Note, by me, the Author, detailing the history of Sadbot and including, for the first time seen publicly, the original notebook doodle that gave birth to Ted. This is a professionally printed book, which I am self-publishing through Lulu.com, and I am quite excited about it!

On that note, this Saturday at the Mountain Top event, I will be pre-selling Artist Editions of A Lackluster Love Story, to be received at my upcoming book signing on May 19, also at Mountain Top (more details to follow). These Artist Editions are $25, which will include a signed copy of the book, an exclusive Sadbot mini-print, and an original ink drawing of our hero, Ted, or the cast member of your choosing. There are only 20 of these editions currently available, and they will be reserved on a first-come-first-serve basis at the FCBD event (Where I will also have a proof copy of the book to show off!) If any are still available afterwards, I may try to offer them online somehow, but no guarantees!

And since this Is an art blog, here is a small excerpt from the “These Three Dates” story. As far as set-up goes, Ted Robo has just been shang-haied into an online dating service by his “dear” friends:

 

 Have a comic-tacular weekend!

 

Comics Comics Comics!

I’ve got a trifecta of comic updates for you lot!

First off, I have just relaunched Inanimate Shorts as newer, much more streamlined, comic blog. This will be the place to go for any new comics projects from me, so please keep an eye on it. I’ve gotten it primed with several of my classic journal comics, hourlies, and an array of pages created for The Oracle. In addition, I’ve posted the revised “Voyage of the Clementide,” previously only available to those who grabbed the mini-comic version a few years back.

Which segways nicely into: this coming Satuday, May 5th, is Free Comic Book Day! Wherever you may live, track down a participating store and go get some free goodies. If you happen to live in the Upper Cumberland area, might I suggest Mountain Top Comics? I, along with several fellow artists, will be setting up shop from 10-6, giving out free sketches to anyone who would like one. Plus, Mike will have a slew of great free books out there. Including, of course, a new free mini-comic from me.

And, lastly, I just thought I’d share a quick snap shot of something I got in the mail today:

More details soon:]

Omnicon Aftermath: “A Hero’s Journey”

My entry for the Omnicon Art Contest this year was a large story mural entitled “A Hero’s Journey.” For some time I’ve been aware of Joseph Campbell and his Monomyth theory, but have never done any real research into it. I recently found time to watch his “Power of Myth” interviews, which I found fascinating. And so my piece is an incredibly boiled down version of his Hero’s Journey. It is composed of seven story panels, laid out vertically to be read from bottom to top, each depicting a step in the journey. The seven stages I chose/combined are The Call to Adventure, Meeting with the Mentor, Crossing the Threshold, Trials and Tests, Descent into Darkness, The Final Confrontation, and Salvation.
I wanted to use very stylized and minimalist characters and layout, to show the generic and all-encompassing nature of the story, though I was certainly influenced by outside forces. When I decided to color-code the three main characters, that of the Hero, the Villain, and the Princess, I went with a green/red/blue pattern as a tribute to the Legend of Zelda series (which is also very obviously influenced by the Monomyth). To further iconicize them, I attached a basic shape to each of the big three, respectively a triangle, square, and circle. I used these shapes as central features, as well as a guiding force in the physical design and layout for each character’s form. In retrospect, it may have been a mistake to make the Hero both green and a triangle, since I was regaled all weekend with “That’s a cool Zelda piece!” and “Neat, but you got the Link and Ganon wrong.” Oh well:]
Another symbolic choice was using the same brown color for both the scenery and the Mentor figure, to imply that he was of the earth, and something of a primal force (I wanted a solid Old Ben Kenobi vibe about him). Furthermore, once he bestows the Mystic Power on the Hero, it creates an immediate change in him, which we see stays with him even once he has let go of it, and is also passed on to his love.
 
As far as art technique goes, I started with a six foot long and one foot wide pine plank, which I sanded thoroughly and stained liberally. I used a gloss polyurethane coat to make sure my ink would not bleed, which, unfortunately, also made it quite difficult to photograph. My apologies.
 
Once the stain had dried, I went in and measured out my panels and borders, and then penciled in each of my scenes.  A lot of my technique here has been refined on the smaller drawings I do on wooden plaques. If I’m careful and keep my pencil lines fairly light, they’ll usually erase right off.
 
After everything was penciled, I mixed up copious amounts of each ink (terrified that I would not mix enough, and have to try a color match at the very end) and went in to ink each figure. I used a dip pen with a basic drawing nib, first outlining each shape and then going through to fill it. For some reason a brush does not get good coverage on top of the stain, instead making little beads everywhere, so I actually had to go through and scribble each solid shape full.
 
This took For-ev-er.
 
Once all of the figures were filled in, I then went back and added the horizon and foundation lines. And when these had dried, I tediously painted in the borders with gold acrylic paint. Once that was all finished, I was fortunate enough to retain assistance from The Gentleman Philip Fox, who went back and quite carefully erased all my pencil lines and smudges.
 
Then, it was finished! All told, I believe this took a little over a week to complete, and that was with some Very sleepless nights.
Whenever I work on a major piece like this, especially one in which I’ve invested so much thought, it is important for me to surround myself in inspiration the entire time. Normally I do this through thematically and emotionally appropriate music, but for this I ransacked my DVD collection for some of my favorite epic hero stories. Imbued within the ink are equal parts A New Hope, Never-Ending Story, The Rocketeer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Mask of Zorro, Hellboy, Conan the Barbarian, and more I can’t currently remember. As I worked, I noticed just how many this basic outline could fit over. Certainly Star Wars, as Lucas is a long-time supporter of Campbell’s. But also most of the others, perhaps with some slight rearranging of the steps’ order. And videogames equally well, when you think on it. The Super Mario series is basically a starter course in Monomyth.
All said and done, this was certainly a labor of love, and I am quite happy with my results.

Hourlies and Dailies

 It’s nearly upon us! The Day draws ever nearer! Put your affairs in order and ready yourself for The Event!

No, no, not the Apocalypse. Much better. Hourly Comics Day!
For those unaware, HCD is an annual web event, created by artist John Campbell, where individuals all over the world (artful and non alike) chronicle every hour of their own February 1st with a very quick and and simple comic.  More details can be found here. In edition, be sure to check out archives of the last several years on the forum, which is also where this year’s comics will be submitted (thread forthcoming.)
Regardless of whether you consider yourself a cartoonist or you are bashful to post a play by play of your life to the entire internet, I highly recommend doing these. Even if just as a personal log. I’ve participated for the past three years, and these comics have become some of my most valued creations, capturing both an entire day of my life and the mindset of myself whilst chronicling it. It is like a multi-layered journal entry, a mental landmark if you will, to which I can look back now and judge just how far I have traveled and grown. Yes, that is a bit deep and sentimental, but truly, these things are pretty cool.
In addition, after I finished last year’s Hourlies, I so enjoyed the journaling effect that I decide to go on with it for the rest of the month. I find the idea of day to day Hourlies to be quite daunting, so instead I decided to jot down one moment from each day throughout February. As you can see below, I didn’t quite make it, somehow dropping the ball just three days short (whether from inability or apathy, I cannot remember) but I’m steeling myself to try to meet the goal this year.
Last Year’s Dailies for February
(click for a larger image, and previous and next from that page to navigate)
Wow, my handwriting really doesn’t hold up to that much magnification. Toddler scratchings!
Anyway, I hope you’ll consider doing some Hourlies yourself this year, and let me know if you do!

“The Library Pumpkin”

One of the best things I’ve ever done was apply to be a part-time clerk at my local children’s library. Over two years later, I can honestly say my artwork wouldn’t be half of what it is today if not for the influence this job has had on me. From doodling bookmarks to decorating massive bulletin boards with paintings, I have been given so many great opportunities to grow artistically. One of my favorites has been the mini-comic/picture book I was allowed to create as a Halloween give-away.

“The Library Pumpkin” started out as a pretty simple activity book. It was going to contain a few mazes and word puzzles and coloring pages, and somewhere in there I wanted to do a little two page story about a pumpkin. As I started working on it, it grew and grew (pun intended) and turned into a full twelve-page story, written in verse, which necessitated it’s own book.

I like to find ways to challenge myself when working on a project, so I endeavored to do this entire book without ever touching a computer. Roughs were done in non-photo blue pencil. I laid them out on the page in the order that they would need to be printed and stapled, to form a proper mini. I inked them at size, and hand lettered every word (which explains the near illegibility at parts.) Then I ran the whole batch off on the library copy machine, hand cut them, and stapled the whole lot together.

Easily the most rewarding part has been watching the kids pick up this tiny book that they can keep, flipping through it to see familiar sites from the library around them, and even realizing that the jack-o-lantern on the pages matches the real one sitting on the desk.

Happy All Hallow’s Read to you all!

Vampires on Parade

I’ve been lucky enough these last few years to get occasional illustration work from my pal Chuck  at The Oracle. One of my favorite things about working with him is his vague parameters and willingness to print pretty much anything I send him. Case in point: my assignment for the October 28th issue was “Something to go with a How-To article on making fake blood.” Included was the recipe, which involved insane amounts of corn syrup and cocoa powder. And so, I decided to add “Soon-to-be-Diabetic Hipster” to the rolecall of notable vampires.

Done with dip pen and ink, then cleaned up and framed in Photoshop. This is the first time I’ve played with that particular hatching pattern (unabashedly influenced by this awesome Mike Holmes drawing) and I am A Fan. Here are a few process shots and close-ups:

And just to add a little extra meat to this post, here are some of my Oracle comics from the past. Enjoy!