Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spelunking In The Webcomics Caves

I have been looking online for my 'Pick of the Post'and I have found some terrible stuff which I won't post and, like gems in the real world, there are small pockets of treasure amongst the dreck. One such ruby is this short (I assume ongoing) series drawn by Yvel Guichet about a guy walking around on a celestial body of some sort. Nathan always gives me a hard time for only looking at the art but it is immediate, I am pressed for time and drawing is what I like best so I am inclined to give the drawings a once over before I read the story. It was the first thing after actively searching for an hour that didn't make me want to pull my hair out in frustration. It has a strange title but it is beautiful so go take a look:


I have a whole litany of things that I discovered since; but I'll put them up one at a time as I do future posts. Why read this blog a lot when you can get all the picks o' the post in one entry? That would be silly.

I'm also going to post a page of White pony as I do it in sequence. First the rough pencils:

This is the initial laying down of the idea and most of the time I won't get any tighter than this because I like to go straight to the pen (a uniball vision available at any Fred Meyer or Target)which I use for its' reliable nature and water-fastness. Nathan and I wanted this to be a loose off the cuff comic and I like to use loos off the cuff materials much to the chagrin of all my friends at Periscope.

I've been trying to keep these pages to a 2 hour deadline and I think I'm still in that vicinity but it depends on the page. I also end up doing them in episodic bursts. It might be that I have some time in the morning or at night when I get home from the day job.

It has been a busy week and that includes band practice, CVA (Cavemen V.S. Aliens) and whatever time I can fit in with Lindsey. This weekend will continue the thrill ride of events with EMERALD CITY COMIC CON! Expect pictures and a comprehensive review/account of doings and transpirings... Here is a little CVA for y'all:

This is the part of the story where they gas him with alien fumes and he relinquishes his club and spear. I will eventually paint over this with watercolor and post that too.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

White Pony Banner Nonsense

I spent a good chunk of my day creating what I believe to be the penultimate banner for White Pony. What I've discovered is that penultimate banners are roughly 10-20 times the size of normal banners and thus useless.

Here is the penultimate banner I created...

This animated beauty clocks in at 830 k... more than 8 times the top size any reasonable website lets you use for an advertising banner. But you can't argue that it's not beautiful so don't even try. This is the Citizen Kane/Godfather II of banner ads.

After fiddling around with the idea a bit I was able to alter it an come up with this slightly less awesome version that without any optimization clocks in at about 55 k.

Perfectly serviceable.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Small Triumphs.

It can be nice to do little things well.

Lindsey and I just watched "American Movie" and it reminded me of how it can be at some points in your life when you want things badly but you either aren't capable of seeing or aren't willing to take the necessary steps to get to your supposed goal. At one point The 'protagonist' of that film says something about not finishing things because they seem more real-that there is pressure to make something of it. I have had that seemingly contradictory feeling often; just coasting on the enjoyable dream of a thing and that being enough to sustain you- you know it is an illusion but it is still satisfying in the short term. What one should do instead is delve into the hard and lengthy process of becoming the thing you emulate to obtain the long lasting success that comes from quality.

I feel like there have been sincere moments of advancement in that humbling process and that the INTRO COMIC is the first tangible product of the rewards glimpsed by myself and those around me. I am thankful for the chance to really do what I want and giving up ego (as much as one can) to learn and improve is the source of that. I just want to get better and tell cooler stories and I can see a clear path to that now.

Thanks again to everyone at Periscope Studio for the opportunity and to Nathan for putting it all together. A small triumph. Steve Lieber said that 'if those pages didn't get me work they'd at least get me attention.' I'm just glad they turned out cool.

My Pick of the Post is A comic I found called "Skin Deep" by Kory Bingaman that has a great, seemingly original premise, and some genuinely funny moments.

There are a few drawing issues and design quirks here and there but I have my share of those too and the newest pages show huge improvements over the initial efforts. I really enjoyed reading it and I think this is a story worth following. There are direct parallels to be found in it for people who live on the cultural fringes. Kory's ideas seem born of empathy and real cleverness. It looks like she has a pretty serious fan base already but you don't stop supporting a cool band once you discover they're already popular eh? Go check it out and tell your culturally fringey friends too.

Here is a spiderman comic that I did for a kid named Lucas who I haven't seen since the day he asked me to do it and was subsequently picked up as we plotted the strip together.

Not bad for a 5 year old. He suggested the green goblin and the bit with the web shooter. Then I colored it with crayons.

Awesometastic New Intro Comic

I decided a while back that I liked the idea of doing a comic specifically for first-time visitors to the website but I didn't want Ben to have to spend time on non-comics stuff. So I pieced together a makeshift comic from images cut from Chaos PhD. and Roscoe Porter. The resulting monstrosity got the job done in the same way I'm sure you could bandage up a gunshot wound with an healthy amount of duct tape (stop saying duck... it's DUCT!).

Here is the what I slapped together...

I'm sure Ben will post a little more about the new intro comic but I think it's some of the best work he's done to date. Here is the new comic that puts mine to shame... SHAME!!!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

I am Gorilla-also: P.S. Bal bal bal

I feel like the rosy comics-tinted future I've hoped for since I was a kid is getting closer each day.Speaking of kids and Comics-here are a few pieces I did with the kids during 'free drawing' at their request. Generally they ask for things like "ah Ironman Comic" or "Hulk and Ironman...can you draw that?" It's nice to know that the classics are still appreciated This first one is done with crayola markers and an office pen.

This one was a flip-chart marker and a micron 03 I think

Tomorrow Lindsey and I are going to her cousins wedding in Idaho so today I'll leave you with this collaborative golden nugget of weirdness that I made with the help of several young artists at my day job:

So... Do you like the dress or not?

Well, since I started the draft of this post we left and we have returned from Idaho. It was a good time. Boise is a neat little town but there aren't enough trees for me.

Also please check out this site: "Jellaby" via the Secret Friend Society website, which is my pick of the post.

There is a bit of Mingola in there and the cartooning is well executed. It reminds me of the best things that James Kochalka does and a bit of my friend Colleen Coover. I was doing some searches on Fantasy and Sci-fi Comics/Blogs and eventually found my way to a few sites. There is a ridiculous amount of terrible manga-style crap out there and I can't get into it. That style is the visual equivalent of Beyonce's singing... by that I mean gratuitous and terrible especially when imitated by amateurs... yuck. On the other hand I was given a Osamu Tezuka book by Dustin Weaver at the studio (a tale of future Phoenix) and it is pretty cool. Dustin has many interesting insights into it and yet, like my Manga-phobia, he had trouble getting over the initial hurdle of the drawing style. Luckily there are a few quality comics out there to combat the tide of dragonball/sailor-moon wannabes and Secret Friend Society project "Jellaby" is one of those. What I saw included nice color choices, compitant panel layouts and good storytelling. Check it out. If the reasons I gave aren't enough just remember: it isn't Manga.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sketching for the Kids

I was telling Lindsey this morning that funny things happen at Periscope all the time and if you aren't there you end up missing out on jokes that start getting referenced later.

One example that I love came from one studio member asking another where her coat was obtained. This prompted a conversation about 'Delia's' catalogs being used in an inappropriate context considering the common age of the models within-thus for the last few weeks at least half a dozen Delia's catalogs have been floating around the studio. If I hadn't been there for that I'd miss out on the chuckle I get every time I pick up an issue of Punisher and find a sunny picture of a tween girl in new spring poncho priced at 19.99. I love that place.

This is my IRONMAN sketch that a kid left behind.

In other news the kids asked me to draw Ironman so I did. This is my Ironman drawn without sketching. I've been trying to imagine the image I want to render as fully a possible before I commit any line to paper. Drawing that way is a good exercise for keeping your designs clean and your drawings precise. I feel like I'm getting better more quickly in little ways every day and thinking about image making differently. Though it has some issues and it feels kind of stiff to me now I still like it.

I was searching for zombie comics online to prepare for my own little series of zombie stories and I found this site called XOMBIFIED.COM

I couldn't find any complete comics but they had some great flash animations and I found myself enjoying those the same way I would a good comic. It is apparently pretty popular having been viewed some 17 million times? I'm not a huge fan of anything that hints at anime but I could overlook that in favor of how fun and well put together some of the sequences were. Check it out.

Friday, March 13, 2009

If Chuck Close Worked In Yarn

I went to Stumptown Coffee on the way to the studio to get my $1.50 friday treat of an 8 oz columbian brew and I was pleasantly surprised by the art adorning their walls. The pieces looked like painted portraits from outside and, once on the other side of the glass, they turned out to be much more labor intensive: crochet. Here is one I thought was really cool.

For the rest check out artist Jo Hamilton's web site:


As a (former) painter I think they have a real vibrancy and one doesn't long for more to look at. They are richly constructed and deserve/demand more than a quick pass with the eye.

As for me I am about to start another session at Periscope and I'm already feeling great about the day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Nathan, Sara and I had our (Mostly) weekly meeting tonight and we came to the conclusion that we should be trying to connect with the rather substantial web-community that is out there so that we can...

A: Find cool new stuff to get us charged up about making comics etc.


B: Start establishing a web presence that will help the flow of traffic toward our comics and blog.

In this way, we hope, we will cease to be a lonely island of nerds toiling in anonymity and could potentially make some new friends via those sites on the Internet where people are making comics. We represent a certain demographic and there are others like us. Now it is time to begin finding those people and sharing their cool offerings, in addition to our own, through this very blog. In this attempt at techno-diplomacy we hope to build some solidarity for all those of our same ilk, those with an appreciation and love of free comics. Nathan and I are committing to share one interesting/cool/relevant site with you per post.

Let the experiment begin!

I just checked this guy Joey Manley's site out and it is particularly relevant to the discussions that Nathan and I have been having for the past year in so much as he talks specifically about webcomics, creators, the business of comics and a host of other comics developments.


I know I'll be checking it out on the regular.

Also I am committing to post a picture of some sort with every installment so here is a picture I made (commissioned) a kid draw for me today:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mission 'Four' The Future... you'll get it later

While I was at the studio today working on pages for Ron Randall I had a conversation with Paul and Colleen over Thai food about my future. Paul asked something like "So you want to do comics for a living right?" and I said yes to which he replied; "so what's your plan?" This is a good question to which I don't have a satisfactory answer. I have tried to progress in a logical upon graduating from art-school but it seems like there has always been something to get in the way or that I misdirect my time/resources. My drawings and ideas seem clunky and juvenile to me and I tell myself "I can do better than this!" It could be a mix of those things, that keeps my dream career floating out on the hazy horizon, but I don't want to fall back on any excuses or into anymore traps.

Colleen and Paul suggested doing modest stories around 4 pages in length about anything that will help showcase my skills. Complete narratives that I can submit as samples but also double as content for Melee.

Nathan and I have a lot of irons in the fire and that is fine because I can still make a commitment to the projects we have started but I know if I want my real job to be comics then I'll have to put some things on the back burner for a bit. Good news for those as yet unexplored projects, in some ways, because when I get around to them I'll do them faster, better and more professionally than I could have if I was just some work-a-day kids art teacher instead of a prolific, working, comics illustrator. I also think it could be good for Melee in the sense that people have short attention spans, we have lots of ideas that never get manifested-this could be the ticket.

I was thinking about calling these little pieces "Ben's Monthly Four" or "Four Weeks-Four Pages" or "Fabulous Foursome Finished in a Fortnight" and that is why Nathan is the writer between the two of us.

Check back in with this blog from time to time and, on the sight (hopefully) for my four page samples, you could watch a hopeful comics dilettante develop into a seasoned pro right here. Stay tuned for "To the Fourth Power!" or whatever Nathan lets me call it.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Busy Bee

I have been doing a lot of running around on my own time for music stuff also support work at the studio (compared with the first few months) and it has been really fun. I got to do some robot zombies for Steve Lieber and a flaming wreck of a limousine for Ron Randall. I am working on an intro comic for the new WEBSITE and I went back and colored the last panel of the sketchbook prequels that launched White Pony.

It was/is called "The Sword of Adamas" which everyone reads as 'sword of adams' but they are wrong. It was similar to how the kids at my day job kept asking me where to find the 'notification' section of the library for their scavenger hunt yesterday-because they were just glancing at the words and assuming without reading them that they knew what it said... Nonfiction is different by a bit than notification. ADAMAS means unconquerable in Greek, I think, I read it in an eyewitness book about geology last year while reading to the kids. It is the root word for diamond. In my dorky mind it instantly equated with a warrior-king in a fantasy style epic about swords and magic monsters.

Nathan has agreed to post that comic and I will get back to Cavemen Vs. Aliens, or CVA as we call it to avoid any confusion with other properties, in the very near future armed with what now I know about how to draw better comics. This new knowledge was brought to you by The fine people at Periscope Studio. Paul Tobin gave me a nice short crit the other day and I employed his suggestions immediately to a positive effect in the panel I was working on at the time. This panel in fact:

He suggested less feathering-or hatch marks around forms. Let the objects breath more and don't feel tempted to cover every inch. So I went back in with pro white and tried to give it a little room for the eye to rest. He also told me to draw faster which should please Nathan. So thanks Paul.

I lettered this digitally at the studio tonight and did some digital clean up.

Also Thanks to Jeff Parker who gave me comics and to Ron and Steve for bringing in healthy snacks to counteract my doughnut invasion.

Steve also turned me on to this guy... Who's name I'll post along with a link when I get down to the studio today. And here it is as promised:

Rudolfo Damaggio who is a grade A bad-ass

Please check out and tell your friends. It is new and will have regular updates. We are getting serious... Seriously fun (drumroll cymbal crash)

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Unhappiest Place on Earth in America

I still have some behind the scenes things to do with the website and I'm going to start posting a few blogs about how to put together a half-way professional looking website with some fairly basic skills.

Having said that I'm happy about the way things are going and in general and am a pretty happy guy all around these days but Business Week seems to have something stuck in it's craw (I honestly have no idea what the phrase "something stuck in your craw" means but it seems appropriate here) because they're calling me a liar.

On February 26th Business Week compiled a list of the "50 Unhappiest Cities in America" and guess who number 5 was... Cleveland, Ohio!

Jason Nelson/Getty Images
Well, it's probably not that bad let me just go Google the number of cities in America...

More than 20,000!?

Ok so that's pretty bad... well at least I don't live in the rotting cesspool that's the #1 unhappiest city in America.

Some place called Port Land,

Jason Nelson/Getty Images

oh wait it's Portland. Sorry Ben. Hang in there buddy, things are looking up-ish.