Saturday, February 28, 2009

For better or worse the new website is up and overall I have to say I'm pretty darn happy with it. I went through it a little bit and found many many errors that I had to fix on the fly but overall it seems to be running pretty smoothly.

Today is my wife's birthday and I am going to do my best to make her happy on this day as well as every other day I have the good fortune to be with her. We went out drinking with some friends tonight which is always awkward for me considering I don't drink. I did however go through about 10 Diet Cokes tonight some with lime, some without, depending on how dangerous I felt at the time.

Please tell your friends about what we do here if you are so inclined.



Thursday, February 26, 2009

New Site, New Ideas

The things that we are currently working on are all centered around the re-launch of the website. Nathan has been toiling diligently to get it all together. I am drawing a new introductory comic for the site navigation. That is the skinny on Melee stuff for the week.

I spent some time installing my B-bender which is going to be really super sweet once I get used to the options it provides. My advice to any of you who install stuff on guitars you care about; don't try and do it while you are feeling excited and hasty because you might break a titanium drill bit and have to spend several hours sanding around it with files until you get it out again. Ignoring the silliness of such a hypothetical: I love the bender.

I will share a link sent to me by Jeff Parker and Colleen Coover who found this guy's stuff on

It is petty rad

It is by a guy who goes by Balak01-he is French and a total bad ass. Both these images are from his tutorials:

He talks abut the potential for digital comics and how you can still give the reader control over the flow of time. It provides dramatic real possibilities for capturing the rhythm necessary in comedy, horror, action... pretty much any genre could be enhanced by the techniques and tools available through the potential advances that the computer format makes possible. You will just have to check it out for yourself:



Colleen gave me a button with her artwork on it and Jeff gave me a soap covered 'Agents of Atlas' trade paperback (a whole other story) and lunch. These are great people. I love Periscope.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Portrait made with Love

The Kids at Art 4 Life spontaneously drew a portrait of me with my hat off showing my crazy hair. They then added my catch-phrase "blah blah blah" I am flattered that they remember all the words of wisdom, love and caution so clearly. I also liked it later when they added huge protruding circus sideshow teeth-they erased it before I could preserve that detail. For your enjoyment:

Ben Dewey-Art teacher by Georgia and Mia

The second one is of me with the rendering for the sake of comparison. I think it is a fair representation.

I won't dignify the slur on Q.T. with a response. Nathan did find a dog of equal cuteness... I can say that

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Admiral Q. T. Wiggles vs. The Hot-Dog... Dog

Okay I know I have the advantage here because Ben was unable to take a picture of this so called "cute dog". For all we know Admiral Q. T. Wiggles could look like this...

You may or may not have seen this before but I dare you to see this dog and not attempt to pinch it's cheeks through your computer screen. For your edification dear Melee Fans, I submit to you The Hot-Dog... Dog.

I win.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Victory is Expensive

I won a string-bender on ebay and that is exciting for two reasons; My telecaster is going to be a tricked out hotrod country guitar supreme and I'd never bid on anything before. I also found some Jorge Zaffino Comics for sale on ebay and they are super cheap.

Nathan, Sarah and I had a Melee meeting tonight and it was suggested that I write about more than comics to make the blog more relatable to non comics people inn addition to my fellow nerds. Case in point- I saw the most adorable thing I've ever encountered in person: a baby pug dog. Out on a field trip to the Portland Art Museum, with the kids from the Arts program I teach at, we saw the cute little muffin across the grass from that huge statue of Teddy Roosevelt on the park blocks: I dubbed him Admiral Q. T. Wiggles. He had bowed legs and a fiesty attitude. He was battling one of those spikey haried pomeranians. His larger yet dandy foe was cowering at his barely audible chirps. He was the size of a kitten. Even a battle hardened Navy Seal would've inadvertantly started babbling in baby talk upon encountering his twitchy tail and walleyed stare. All my Art 4 Life kids were enthralled. Lastly: he was being carried around in a woman's purse

Here's to you Admiral.

...And here's to those ebay losers who didn't win the Hispshot B-bender with G palm lever and drop D toggle.

I doff my cap at add cordially "in your faces"

Your consolation can be that you got to keep your $148.51

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

If you think 'Jorge Zaffino' sounds like the name of a wizard; you'd be right

Steve Lieber has an uncanny ability to look at someone's work and recommend at least 3 artists that will blow that person's mind and make them wish they'd known of them earlier. This has, atleast, been my personal experience via Periscope studios and the revelation that Steve hipped me to this time is the Argentine master of Menace: Jorge Zaffino

Now if you haven't seen his stuff it isn't surprising. I had only inadvertantly seen some and, even then, not known it was this guy. He did a little piece with Chuck Dixon for the first 'batman black and white' anthology and it is great. I remember seeing it and thinking it was solid but I wasn't paying attention to the right parts. I was also totally distracted by Kevin Nowlan's pages, being some of the finest work I've ever seen. Jorge's stuff is like coffee: strong, acidic and dark. Also one might say a somewhat acquired taste common amongst adults. He doesn't mess around with the sort of filagree that appeals strongly to youthful untrained eyes. His success as a storyteller is an accumulation of subtle devices and seasoned, hard earned, draftsmanship.

Breathtaking. I get charged up to draw just thinking about it!

I also wanted to mention Jeff Parker's 'Agents of Atlas' which was a blast to read and has great pulpy elements all throughout. Issue number one is out now and it is like one of those movies that uses special effects really well-always to enhance and never distract from the story. When I say 'special effects' in this case, I mean a robot, a talking ape, a kung fu master, a goddess, a mermaid and a psyonic spaceman who pilots a flying saucer. Jeff writes all kinds of stuff and offers up tibits of insight all the time-he is a busy guy which is good for those of us who like to read well written comics.

And on that subject Writer Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover have returned from NY comic con and it is nice to have them back. I like their wit and combined presence especially when it gets Steve and Jeff Parker going on some current event or comics related gossip. Sometimes they talk about other pros and funny situations and it all seems like it will be a lot of fun some day to be in on these inside jokes/conversations once I've been in the business long enough to obtain stories of my own.

Steve also showed me Joe Kubert's Tarzan as a good example of wide shots used to enhance the variety in panels. Really really wide shots help establish scale and give some nice negative space to let the eye rest. Paul Tobin actually mentioned something about that regarding what sort of artistic styles one might use in setting the pace of a story. Busy art can help slow a reader down and sparse art helps a story that relies on a quick pace to allow otherwise salient details to fall by the wayside. Cool idea to keep in mind for my future attempts

Some guy sent Steve some goofy art and at a huge file size that doesn't mean much aside from the fact that it prompted studio appreciation for my not being a goon. It helps that I'm old. It's nice to know I'm liked

They also keep buying me lunch which is exceedingly nice. If you're already giving people tremendous gifts every day it is a fulsome but welcome thing to recieve free food on top of that. I'll never be able to repay these fantastic people. I sould be buying them lunch and giving free guitar lessons or something they'd want. The problem is that they are all bad ass at things I want to kow how to do and I can't offer them much in return except thanks and well deserved praise.

I am working on scanning and cleaning up 90 some pages of the Pander Brothers' latest graphic novel. It doesn't have any words in it as of now and as a result I can only intuit that it is a combination between a spy movie and a soda commercial. Some panels have really cool things happening in them. The drawings are semi-manga style which isn't my taste but I have still found little things to crib from the aesthetic. There is value in everything.

Alright... I am going to draw out some more of the white pony pages I coreographed a battle for before I have to go to bed.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wally Wood and If I Knew Then

I've been sick and busy so I haven't yet posted this week but I am enjoying working on this blog and it doesn't feel like a distraction-the way other attempts to blog have historically. I learned a lot this week and much of it came from Steve Lieber who is the closest thing to a mentor in comics that I am likely to have. He is very generous with his time, resources and knowledge. The other day Steve asked me if I had ever heard of Wally Wood and, like Alex Toth, I had heard the name in interviews and peripherally through other comics culture contexts. I had never seen the art and once I did it was like finding that puzzle piece that you needed to complete the frame of that bigger picture-let's say a puppy and a kitten in a basket of fall flowers.

Wally Wood is the direct link between my favorite contemporary artists ad the larger illustrative ethos of the past. The tradition of great illustration that started to unravel in the mid 20th century was still a palpable influence on Wood and his contemporaries. This guy knew about form, function and storytelling in all the important ways. Steve said he would be like a holy grail of artists for me an he is right. Wood does all the kind of line making that I like, exciting design and pulpy subject matter that could give just about anyone a campy thrill. His work can be found in old anthologies of EC comics and in snippets here an there on the internet. His sci-fi stuff is unbeatable; you can see Mingola and Nowlan reflecting it in their work.

I have posted is 22 panels that always work-a guide that Steve and other studio members showed me to help my design sense and eye for page layout:

The funny thing about going to the studio is that everyone who is there with regularity is working professionally in some capacity or another and it makes me feel like a kid in a room full of adults talking about things I can't understand. I am reminded of being in college and my thoughts on computer-based work during that period. At the time it seemed like something that was specialized and had too many hurdles for me to jump. Expense and frustration with the interface were a few factors that kept me from investigating it but those things seem like cop-outs now because of how helpful it could have been. I was also young and pulled in many directions. I wanted to make comics but I didn't come back to that until after I had been through 4 years of school and by then I had fallen in with indie comics makers who were very DIY/low tech and computers didn't factor in much. After meeting a bunch of people recently who use them regularly it has confirmed my suspicion that traditional drawing skills are (commercially) secondary to good design, web savvy and the ability to improve your imagery with computer based tools. I've seen people who couldn't render very well take a goofy sketch and manipulate it digitally into an impressive piece of work.

I am chasing the techno-train down the tracks as it has already left the station. My hope is that I can continue to learn some of this new information and combine it with my solid understanding of form and analog techniques.

I don't think it's too late to get good but it does seem like I didn't have much foresight. I've got a bunch of catching up to do.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A launch date and a tilted yarmulke... what a day!

I caught a glimpse of a twenty something guy from my neighborhood driving with a yarmulke tilted to the right and a cigarette. It's like a scene from a terrible family sitcom.

I'm happy to announce that the new Melee Comics site will be going up as of March 1! The new site is going to have lots of new content in addition to all of your favorites.

New content includes...

* Our new bi-weekly fantasy comic Tales from the White Pony.
* A new short story featuring the Penguinjas from Chaos PhD called PENGUINS IN SPACE.
* Our new series of mini-COMICS.
* A Blind Willie Johnson autobiographical comic.
* ...and this Blog.

And that's just what we've got done now. Check back with the Blog to keep up with what we're working on now!

- Nathan

P.S. I stumbled on a webcomic that I really enjoyed... you may want to check out Josh & Imp.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Cintiq is just as fun as Guitar

I just started really messing with it today and this is what I did. I need to get me one. This is the first real piece I ever tried to do using photoshop and while there are issues I can definitely see the potential of both the medium and my ability to make something cool with it.

It was unbelievably fun. Check this guy out he seems to know what he's doing:

Mandryk the Magificent

Thanks to Dustin Weaver for telling me about him and talking shop, as it were, today at Periscope.

Done with a capital d... like this... 'D'

I really did enjoy working on this latest project called "Launch Your Life" and either Ben and I will make sure to keep you updating on it's launch but I am happy to be able to get back to writing about Aliens, Zombies, Orcs, Monsters, Cavemen, and the rest of the nonsense that I love so much.

My first priority right now is to finish the design of the new website and launch "Tales from the White Pony" but I am also writing the first of three linked Zombie stories. I don't want to give too much away but I will tell you that it won't be like any zombie tale you have seen in the past. "Moo ha ha ha!!!"

Alright I've go stuff to do but I will leave you with this some kind of wonder that has absolutely nothing to do with comics... enjoy!

FYI: This is decidedly rate "M" for language... such exquisite language.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Claire Wendling makes Pretty Lines

The folks at the studio showed me the art of a French illustrator named Claire Wendling. Her drawings and design work are all very impressive in her drawings are full of fluid, streamlined, curves and swift, angular passages. She is one of those rare individuals who can draw things that are separately/simultaneously; astoundingly cute, warmly sensual or darkly fierce and powerful. She has a lot in common with Mignola, Toth and Nowlan. I think she is France's answer to Eric Canete. The long and Short of it is that she is a super B.A. who I now think about whenever I put pen to paper. Check her out. I didn't want to forget how excited I was when I saw how she draws.