11 May 2007

I tell you – there’s nothing better than coming home after work on a Friday night to find packages of comics on your doorstep.

The internet is great for these sorts of surprises.

One of the notable ‘gems’ that arrived (and that I’ve been waiting for with baited breath), was Jordan Crane’s hand-made minis Keeping Two, with hand-pulled silk-screened covers.

These are the two books Jordan sent me from his website.

Keeping Two: Parts 1 & 2

Sample from inside Keeping Two pt-2.

It's the tale of loss in people's lives, and how everything comes in three's. This pattern is recognised by our protagonist, and he's determined to keep things at two.

The artwork is simply beautiful, and the story telling is fluid and very natural. Jordan's command of dialogue & pacing is fantastic. Jordan really loves comics & self-publishing, which you can easily tell when you open this book. You'll find yourself re-reading it for the sheer pleasure of experiencing a well crafted comic.

You can also get Jordan’s continuation of Keeping Two (part3) from Fantagraphics in his quarterly (or so) comic Uptight, which not only contains part-3 of the above Keeping Two, but also introduces a new story – so you get two awesome continuing stories in one comic!

And an inside page from Uptight containg pt-3 of Keeping Two.

What are you waiting for?...go and buy them all!


PS: For those of you who need help with preparing your artwork for print, etc - Jordan's website has a Repo Guide (at the bottom of his webpage) that you can download for free! It explains everything you need to know about preparing your files for the printer.
A few months ago while at one of the monthly Melbourne comicbook meets, someone mentioned how they remembered my 3-part short story that I published years ago in Aaron Burgess' anthologies 'The INK'.

I thought, "Hey, I think it would be nice to compile all 3 stories into one complete booklet.".... so I went home & (over the next few weeks), drew a cover, wrote an introduction and a backpage.

I just mailed the disk off to ComixPress today, so we'll see when it's done. (Hopefully before Doujicon (sp) ). Here is the cover and a couple of sample pages.

I'll let you know when this little 16-page baby comes in.


08 May 2007

I've always liked seeing how and where other comicbook authors work. Perhaps there are others who share my fetish. We start off with my favourite room in the house. The studio:

This is where I do my tight-penciling & inking.

I got this drawing board (above) from a family friend who worked as a builder. An architect firm he was doing work for was throwing this board out, so he called me to see if I wanted it. Guess what I said?

This is where I do my writing, sketching & underlays.

Right above all that mess, is where i past up the final story arcs that I work from.

Anyway, hope you liked the peek - now, back to work.


The other day I bumped into a friend I hadn’t seen in years, and the first thing he says is, “So you still doing your comics?” – to which I replied, “Yeah, always.”

THEN he says, “Cause you never know, one day you could make it when Hollywood comes knocking…. Just take a look at what happened with Spiderman!”.

Now, I have nothing against one’s right to sell their product to Hollywood. (We should all be so lucky to have that choice). After all, it’s your work & you have the right to do what you want with it. But what ‘rubs’ me is people judging creativity (and more importantly legitimising it) - ‘solely’ by the amount of money that people, who largely AREN’T creative, will pay for it.

This, in terms of manners, is even MORE insulting when you’re talking to the artist themselves.

I may as well tell a girl, “Keep it up doll, because one day someone might marry you”.

Look… I know where the impulse of ‘economic value’ in creativity stems from. It’s a way of un-creative people vicariously being part of creativity by owning it. (ie. Rich people owning a Van Gogh painting & ‘feeling’ artistic.). For this reason, I believe that ‘creativity’ (true creativity - not just consuming it) - will increase it’s worth in the future. Good news for those of us who are following our passions. Just think, in 5-10 years, how many people will actually be able to write or draw as well as the current (falling) standards given that the years required to get to such a level will most likely not ‘pay-off’ financially….. or EVER.

Just think about how much standards have dropped in the last 30 years? How many Einstein’s, Hemingway’s or Picasso’s have we produced in the last few decades?


How many people will ‘roll the dice’ in favor of ‘who they are’, rather than 'what they can own' - in our current climate?

This re-definition of valuing (or rather, DE-valuing ) almost everything into modern/financial terms, misses the ‘core’ of why it ‘became’ in the first place. It misses the point that the ‘reason’ for most creativity is ‘for’ & ‘of’ itself.

Money is simply the consequence of a job well done.


06 May 2007

Aside from the convenient procrastination I’m commonly susceptible to (aren't we all at times?), I must admit that when it comes to my comics pages – I just have to make sure I get it looking the way I want. Even if that means re-doing pages.

I know, I know….. the notion of “That’s good enough” should be the end of a page when I think (and that’s the real ‘trick’ word here – THINK) the page is completed.

For those unfamiliar with my methods of working – I past up everything onto a wall as I go.

This helps me see it the flow & sequence of it all. It also helps me identify if anything isn't working or sticking out like a sore thumb.

Below is a typical example of ‘never being satisfied’, which would cause many people to slit their wrists, if not for the fact that I LOVE writing & drawing comics so much that I would end up thinking – “But if I’m dead, then… how will I be able to draw comics?”

The following is the opening page to a chapter of my current project that introduces the main character & his environment, so I had to make sure it encompassed a few things & REALLY set the ‘mood’ for the reader.

(You can click on any image to enlarge it.)

The protagonist’s city is gloomy & grey, so the image had to have ‘punch’ to compensate for the ‘blandness’ of his environment. How?... well there’s nothing more that I love in B&W comics than mood. That means (more often than not) lotsa ‘black’. Needless to say, I have a fetish for buying nibs & ink.

This was my intitial finished page.

It was ok, but not 'exactly' what i wanted for the reader to 'get' as their opening notion of my story. I didn't say much with the image. I just went for execution.

I stuck it up on the wall and got on with the next page. This method works for me in that I can see (as a whole) the entire sequence as finished sequential pages. The more I look at them, the more ‘wrong’ sections stick out for me. The ‘editor’ in me simply loves that. Because of the largely ‘grid-like’ fashion that I construct my pages, it’s not too much trouble re-doing one panel (here or there) without it messing the whole page up.



The more the days wore on, the more the opening page looked ‘ok’, and not good to me – so I decided the scene should be more of a 3-dimensional ‘landscape’, than a simple 2D perspective shot.

This is what I came up with, and how it developed:

The intial blueline pencil drawing.

The intial inked lines. (mostly thin)

More detailed inks.

Blueline contrasted out & inks sharpened/cleaned up.

Now, I wasn't that satisfied with the sky at this stage. It looked nice, but not bold enough - so I decided to draw darker clouds as an overlay. I put another sheet of paper over the top, and drew different clouds...

While i really liked the clouds as an inked piece, it made the page sway a little too much into the 'cartoony' category. That is - lighthearted or child-like.

So I added more texture to the clouds which gave it a better (more serious) effect.

Which I then added to the page, cleaned up strays, and added my 1-colour greytone as a slight nuance.

(Hopefully, I stay happy looking at it on the wall as i do the forthcoming pages). -lol


05 May 2007

Well, it's 9.30pm on Saturday night and I just got back from Melbourne's monthly Pulp Faction meet, and as usual, it was great. Seems like every month we need to 'join' more tables together in the pub as more people arrive.

Since we're into comics, I should let some pictures do the talking;

Lizzie, Tom & Philip discussing 'what's good' & 'what isnt'.

Lee pretending he doesn't know a big camera is sticking in his face. Also, one of the few photos where Greg isn't sticking his finger up.

I'm not sure if Paul is grabbing his nipple or giving the 'thumbs up'?

Paul's hefty script.

Lizzie talking like an Italian to Colin Wilson.

Avi came in with a new hair-do & an 'official' ozTaku mug!

Did I mention the mug?...

David (AKA 'the machine') has a twin brother (Also called David) who is at home making comics while this one is out getting smashed.

Greg Gates providing some feedback to the work of an insecure (fragile) comicbook author.

Philip Bentley's friend Stephen Campbell has spent years (YEARS) doing an 80 page comic on A2 sheets of paper, and then reducing them to comicbook size!?

A closer look at Stephen Campbell's work.

The guy with the most street 'cred' on the table... Colin Wilson signing one of his books. Colin has (and continues to) work for the major publishers in the US.

A page from one of Colin's books for Wildstorm. (Click on the picture for a bigger view)

The alcohol starts to kick in. (They're laughing at the table)

Fitts, who's leaving for Europe for a few years to holiday & spend time doing comics.

Greg & Colin laughing at THE mug.

Greg looking at Michael's sketchbook.

This month's winner of the monthly challenge..... Caanan (AKA 'lil sketchy').

So then...

As you can see from the pics, it was another fun gathering. People brought along their sketchbooks, inked pages, & published books to show and discuss. Talk ranged from published books, minis & movies - to the discussion of up-coming projects. There was praise & criticism.

Like most meets, I came away
fired up to be a hermit behind my drawing board, watching my right hand scribble.