Saturday, January 31, 2009

Melee Guys Working Overtime...Workout

Here are a few new black and white pages of 'White Pony.' I usually put grey tints into them and then send them to Nathan for lettering and dialogue reform. That process typically clocks in around 30-45 minutes. We're trying to go for speed and energy with this project. I specifically want to produce a lot of pages quickly so I can improve my storytelling, composition, anatomy, backgrounds, proportions and a whole host of other things that come from really drawing everyday. I had a professor once who said that you can't really make good work without making a whole bunch of bad work first. so here is some of that 'bad work' although it is starting to get a little more toward the end of the spectrum I hope to reach-the Nowlan/Mignola junction.

Well all aside from that little description, Nathan has just finished lettering a long term project that I had done art for and this means more comics for all. I have been working on 3 comics; CVA, RTD and White Pony. I also got a chance to mess around a little with a Cintq display and it was pretty sweet. Even without knowing any keystrokes or shortcuts I was able to do an almost fully rendered drawing of the Hulk in under 10 minutes. Crazy. I didn't save it cause I did it at the studio and I also didn't think it was worth showing-I want to try doing a multi layer piece starting with a hand rendered sketch. The important thing is that I have confidence about my potential with that equipment.

I talked with Nathan over the last few days and he is working on revamping the website to reflect our new aesthetic and store of content. I don't imagine that many people out there will read our blog before we get the new stuff up but I am making a good faith effort to post regularly so that if there is a fan base, eventually, those excellent people will know we cared and worked before we knew people were watching.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fun and Progress

Today I worked at Periscope on some of my own pages for CVA and I did some erasing for Colleen.

There is tangible progress in my thought process as well as my speed. Eventhough I'm actually redoing some pages of CVA I feel like it's going to be subtantially stronger and further along in a shorter span of time because I'm not plauged by compositional abiguity. I was able to draw out an entire 2 page spread and ink about a third of it inn the span of about 4 hours.

The studio is fun and I am finally feeling like I can say things as I now know a few people in more than a peripheral way. I am tired a lot because I am engaged on many fronts aside from the internship but I feel like I'm really doing something. It is like that Teddy Roosevelt quote; "Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." Though the work may not seem hard or worth doing to everyone, it is exactly what I want to do. It is comforting to know that from practical experience with an environment where I see it and get to participate in it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Alex Toth is the Yoda of Comics

Monday I went into Periscope because I wanted to spend the whole day amongst the pros and see what an actual full length day there would feel like. I had been working for a while on a page of CVA (cavemen versus aliens) and I was asking Steve Lieber about composing panels and he asked me in return "have you looked at much Alex Toth?" I had seen a snippet here or there and likely dismissed exploring it further as a function of youthful stupidity. He then proceeded to show me two different examples of his work-one was a romance comic that had more dynamic fluidity than 10 contemporary comics put together and a fighter pilot story reprinted in the 80's that was so bad ass that it left me feeling like a ham-fisted clod.

Toth is like a kung fu master that just sat you down using only his thumb. He is so good at directing the eye and conveying mood that you really have to be looking for it to see how it works. The thing that is apparent immediately is the story-not the technique. After I had been looking at his stuff for about 20 minutes I wanted to redraw everything I'd ever done.

That was Monday. I've been absorbed by thoughts of Toth since then.

Learning about this guy made me feel simultaneously hopeful and sad. I'm sure the Germans have a word for that.

Tuesday we were fortunate as a nation to have a brilliant, charismatic, articulate, purpose driven, empathetic Democrat sworn in as the first black President of the United States and a vile, contemptuous buffoon barely worth mentioning eschewed into the dust-bin of history. Hallelujah. With our awesome new President at the helm I feel like good things are ahead. I feel inspired to be better at life. It sure is refreshing to be excited about your country.

As for today I worked on some pages and both Ron and Steve complimented my progress. That felt nice. I really do like everyone there and so far this is the best thing I've done for myself since moving here.

With the help of Colleen, Jonathan, Ron and Steve I'm going o get myself a wacom tablet and start doing some digital stuff. Time to join the 21st century.

Look for my first clumsy attempts right here once I get that tablet.

I've posted a few Toth pages here for any of you who are unaware, like I was, how brilliant this guy is. A master at reducing forms their essential components and not losing the power of communication

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Week One at Periscope

It is Sunday now and I am reflecting back on my first week at Periscope. Personally I think it was great and I learned a lot just from looking at the work of the studio members aside from the conversations. Everyone there has been kind and forthcoming about their process and assisting me with my own. I was a little shy at first but they seem to think I'm okay. So far I've met and Gotten advice from the following awesome people; Steve Lieber, Johnathan Case, Ron Randall, Colleen Coover, Jeff Parker, Ron Chan, Dylan Meconis, Dustin Weaver, Paul Tobin, David Hahn, Cat Ellis, Rich Ellis, Terri Nelson and a few other Friends of the studio including a very nice girl named Erica. I will try to recount a few tidbits of what I've learned so far:

Steve said that a panel should almost function like telling a joke-if you start by saying "a guy walks into a bar" and then go on to describe the bar in detail including when it was built, materials involved and its' color scheme then you've lost track of the point you're trying to get across. Similarly a panel should describe the thing you want to express and if there is too much information surrounding that subject your reader's focus will get thrown off.

Colleen Coover has been really helpful and inspiring in that regard-She is great at reducing the components of a panel down to their essentials. Her storytelling is nice and clear. Her drawings are concise and readable. Steve Lieber described it aptly when he said that "Colleen can't put down a line without charming the world." She showed me how she does her thumbnails: First she uses a big brush to block in the basic drama of the composition-big back forms against white forms or vice versa. then she converts that to a lighter grey in photoshop and does quick linear elements over the top to flesh out some details. At that point she light boxes what she has and refines the lines. I like this because she is going for bold strokes instead of getting mixed up in how a doorknob looks or how many hairs are on the poodle she just drew. Watching her work even a little has made me see that I can be kind of 'cart before the horse' in my own approach.

I've also seen how Steve Lieber and Ron Randall work and it involves a nice balance between technology and traditional hand techniques. Both of them are master storytellers and each of them expressed to me that the computer is just another tool used toward the end of creating something entertaining and expressive. I don't know the name of it but Steve showed me a grid system that he will sometimes layer under his panels to use instead of tedious nature of measuring out all the lines by hand. It might be a photoshop component. He does do all his lettering digitally but draws panel boarders and word bubbles by hand. I got to do some of that and it was nerve wracking! I didn't want to mess up his pages. From watching how he works I am trying to reduce the overdrawing that my insecurities tend to encourage.

They showed me this program called Sketch Pro (I think) and it blew my mind. You should check it out because it is amazing. The few times I saw a studio member use it on a page it was not in lieu of drawing skill but a sort of prompt for consistency's sake. It amazed me though. I had no idea something like that existed. Sometimes it's like these people live in the future. They do have cool computers and Wacom tablets and seemingly everyone there knows how to use all the stuff with a varied range of skill levels-I would be at the bottom of that roster.

They have told me that I'm going to be doing some digital coloring which is nice.

I've learned about some great new tools and seen a bunch of great art. I've also now seen what it looks like when professional people have fun and work at the same time. All the people I've met are badass and I'm glad to amongst them getting to draw and learn the real business of comics illustration.

Thanks to Ron Chan, Matthew Clark, Dylan Meconis, and Ron Randall for the use of your drawing desks. Also I'd like to thank Steve Lieber for giving me the chance to get to know everyone and all those people who approached me in conversation not knowing if it would be worth it. Hooray for Periscope and it's great crew of fine people.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Welcome to our world of Blog

I'm spending my time lately finishing the lettering and dialog for a project that Ben was hired for. I think the project is going to turn out really well but we've definitely learned some things about how to charge for projects and what we need to do them well.

After I'm finished with the project (hopefully this weekend) I'm going to be finishing up our new website design and getting up a lot of new content as well. Ben and I are plugging away at Cavemen vs. Aliens but the thing that I am really excited about is our new fantasy webcomic Tales from the White Pony which is going to be, as the kids say, "off the hook". What I like so much about White Pony is that unlike most of the fantasy web comics I see out there right now it is a cross between dramatic and funny. Most comics I've seen are either completely slapsticky or have no sense of humor about themselves at all. Now that's not to say that they aren't good it's just not what I'm looking for most of the time.

For any of you who have done a little Nerd Gambling (anything with dice) in your day you know that there is a sense of fun in the air. People toss jokes around in between and when killing Orcs and drinking mead... Ben and I just wanted to create a comic that had that same energy to it.

Well welcome to our blog and as a treat here are the first few pages of Tales from the White Pony.

- Nathan

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I got an internship with Periscope studios that starts Monday. I'm excited and a little nervous about it because I want to do well and get the most out of it. There are a lot of guys I admire who make up the roster there and I am curious to see what their working style is like. I'm also hoping to get crits on things that will advance my understanding. The last good crit I got was from Steve Lieber at last year's Stumptown comics fest and it was through the conversations I've had with him that my work has improved and that I'm lucky enough to get in with these fine professionals.

I'll give an account of my work with them if everything goes according to plan. I'm crossing my fingers and trying not to take anything for granted.

Nathan has set up this Blog for us and as we go along I'll be posting artwork and such to accompany my posts. We have talked a lot about what kind of stuff will accompany the blog, though we've got a few concrete ideas, there is sure o be some random stuff that pops up here and there too.

Welcome to the blog everyone and please tell your friends if you like what you see or read. We love comics and we will continue working hard to make things worth reading and looking at-it would be nice if there were people to look at and read them.