Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Earth's Mightiest Heroes Again: Brought To You By Crayola

Here are the pencils for my most recent Avengers page:

Since I've been in an Avengers mood lately I drew this one with crayons while at school with the kids.

Then I commissioned another of my students to draw my comics's characters. I give you (clockwise from top) Sloar, Loranna and Filmore from White pony courtesy of Maxime (I think.) There were jelly beans exchanged.

My pick of the post is a webcomic by my new friend Sara Burrini! She is German and recently returned to our fair country to continue her association and studies with the folks at Periscope. She was previously and intern just like me. You can find her comic, the title of which translates to "Life Ain't No Pony Farm" at this link

Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof via webcomics nation.

She told me that you can turn on google's 'hilarious' translation. I am going to try it and if unsuccessful; learn German. Sara is going back to Germany this Thursday so farewell Sara-check in with her comics and her professional progress as she is a cartooning Juggernaut destined for greatness. Seeing her reckoning with the same obstacles I struggle against on the long climb to a job in comics gives me hope-we're in it together! Check out the fabulous Ms. Burrini.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Yarr ye pasta eatin' land lubbers

We've had a fantastic week of traffic at the site and we've got people returning to read White Pony!

Having said that I don't really have a reason for this post other than this picture... this amazing picture.

Behold, Cap'n Noodle Beard the Tasty!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Paul and Jeff...and no not Gilbert and Beck

I am inspired by more than guitars as of late:

My ImageMy Image

This is a brief tribute blog to two new friends of mine at Periscope. While it is true that everyone there has made huge efforts to make me feel welcome and boost my artistic efforts to new heights I owe these guys an extra bit of thanks for their hospitality over the last month in particular.

Paul Tobin writes about 173 marvel titles each week including Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil, Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four and Avengers. He has been my window into the process which has its' roots in the dialogue between artist and writer. He gave me my first pro script to work from. Paul often imparts great advice that only a writer would be able to offer up without specific prompting-including pacing, placement based on dialogue and not playing to your biases.

He can also give you a beneficial scolding about unnecessary crosshatching while pontificating on excessive breast size in the comics medium without ever having to stop typing. He has been a great coach and helped me loose my doe eyed wariness in the face of previously intimidating 'big time' creators. His example is a good one in that he works hard, comes up with killer stuff and still has fun. He did the straight job thing for a long time while slowly breaking in and that type of dedication is necessary to do a really fun and challenging job like comics. His support lends me confidence because he knows just how long the road is and what the obstacles are.

He recently put me in a new issue of a comic he is working on in the part of a 3rd grade teacher and that is better than being in the movies. It means that some version of me lives in a world where I could be friends with the X-men.

So thanks Paul.

His wife Colleen Coover has been a great help to me as well. Her stylistic inclinations are almost the opposite of my own and that is why I value her opinions so much. She can help me by informing me about things that aren't my strengths-things she does well like cartooning and simplifying. Paul and her compliment each other nicely as a couple; both are witty and informed on a wide range of subjects.

I also like their take on culture and current events-but this is a Paul and Jeff post so she will have to wait for the post I eventually do on her and Steve Lieber. At some point I'll have to do a post on each of the Studio members. They are all great.

Jeff Parker is super generous both with his knowledge of comics historically, as a business and with actual comic books. He has gifted me several and is currently letting me borrow his Marvel Adventures Avengers comic. He writes Agents of Atlas, Mysterius and Exiles.

His Personality while working is a rare blend of subtle and funny. He is patient with me and my many questions. Jeff offers both strong artistic suggestions and helps me remember that comics should be fun. He is the sort of guy who can take all the best things you like from pop culture and cram them into a 20 page story without it seeming cluttered. His ideas/scripts are cool, thrilling, emotionally dimensional and funny.

He gave me one of the best gifts I ever got just the other day: a Leonard Kirk page inked by Kris Justice from Agents of Atlas-a book he writes and basically created. It is one of my favorite comics for many reasons many of which are nicely displayed on the page I was given. It has most of the agents depicted under water, in scuba suits, battling crab monsters.

Thanks a million to Jeff Parker for such a stunning show of generosity.

I also wanted to post this Picture of my B-bender Equipped Telecaster. Hooray for Guitars!

It also has a G-bender and a drop D lever. After about 180 dollars worth of time, tools and parts, I can bend with the best.

In my head the other night I was trying to match my teachers at Periscope up with Starwars characters because I'm just that big a nerd: Steve Lieber is like Yoda (he has untold levels of ability and speaks from experience.) Paul is Like Han Solo (edgy/roguish and somewhat of a heroic loner) -which fits with Colleen as Leia.

I guess that would make Jeff Admiral Ackbar (he has gravitas and an accent) Ron Randall is Obi Wan Kenobi (because he is low key and masterful) and David Hahn is Chewbacca (because he is tall, loves Snacks and everyone loves him-while sometimes misinterpreting his words.)

David Hahn gave me a thumbnail sketch, of what I think is one of his fable pages, which is now framed and in my studio so thanks David!

It depicts two gorillas who become best buds and fight Hitler on the edge of an atomic blast/robot and dinosaur invasion... or at least that is how it appears.

My POTP for this week is the web extension of DC that draws its' content from independent submissions. It is nonetheless good and worth investigating even if you are opposed to the big two: check out ZUDA. It is a way in which web cartoonists can get some exposure and a little money for their books.

My favorite of the ones I've come across is called High Moon. Good stuff-nice drawings and solid writing. The viewer can be a bit frustrating but the purpose is to keep people from printing them out I guess? Steve and Jeff told me that although it has value for other reasons, there can be a side effect of these competition-based sites that results in a sort of social viper pit. That because of the structure of the site, people who are competing begin to spam all their friends with voting requests. The upside is that comics do have to pass a filter of some sort (unlike most of the internet comics out there) so you end up with some decent content. See the goods for yourself. Next time will be something indie but I thought zuda was worth sharing as it bridges the gap from what Nathan and I do to the mainstream.

Stumptown, A New Guitar, Avengers...Assemble!

So, Stumptown was fun but I was only there for Sunday. Saturday was spent mostly practicing with the new lineup of Emily Herring's country band 'Henpecked' in which I play lead guitar and steel guitar. Previously I was bringing two dobros to each gig and practice along with my telecaster. Thanks to the guys at Guitar Crazy I am the proud owner of a 1947' 1050 model National double neck Console steel guitar. Each neck has eight strings and it is really really cool sounding. I have what I need to play with just about anyone now.

It only had one previous owner and that gentleman bought it when it was new. He also had a hand built combo amp he bought around the same time (1947) from a guy named Leo Fender who didn't go on to do anything significant in the world of guitars... but seriously the amp was worth as much as a small house. The lesson here is that old guys rule. Thanks for passing the torch sir, whoever you may be.

As for Stumptown it was cool and I made contact wit a few editors including Dianna Schutz and Bob Schreck both of whom were very gracious. I was introduced to Bob by my friend Steve Lieber as being "the real deal" which made me feel good and want to work harder so that I might be worthy of such praise. That stuff was good and I came away with some business cards. Later on Lindsey and I had dinner with some friends of ours the Johnsons and their friends from NY Ryan Dunlavey and his wife.

I am working my way through some sample pages and Here I've posted my line work and then the spotted blacks that I did on a print out of my pencils(shown in a previous post.)You might notice some corrections in both the transition from the penciling stage to the fine line and the fine line to the blacks. I just couldn't stand the spiderman I had drawn. Also Jeff Parker and Steve told me my Hulk wasn't exactly Hulky enough so I went back and altered some of that stuff too.

I also wanted to post an Avengers commission I requested from an 8 year old at my work named Mia who very sweetly told me "I don't like super heroes" to which I said "Well I don't really like Mermaids but I draw them for you." I bribed her with jelly beans. So here for evryone's enjoyment is a sweet team shot pinup by Ms. Mia; Clockwise from upper left is Giant Girl, The Hulk, Storm, Iron Man, Captain America and Wolverine.

Yes-I love it.

My POTP this time is a charmingly cool craft site belonging to a girl named Leslie Levings who stole the Stumptown show taking everyone's heart by storm via her polymer clay creations.

Check out beastlies to see her unique sculpey creations and tell me you don't kind of want to own like 10 of them.

Back to drawing!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Comics, the south-paw industry. (PG-13ish)

I was listening Terry Gross talk to comic-book historian Craig Yoe about the little known fetish art/porn of Joe Shuster when I recalled something that Sarah noticed at S.P.A.C.E.

C'mon, whip with your back!

I've got no problem with Joe drawing a little S&M but it turns out he was drawing it with... HIS LEFT HAND!!! Yes Joe Shuster, much like what it turns out to be roughly 90% of comic book artists, is a south paw. Sarah, a left handed beauty, noticed as we were walking the aisles of S.P.A.C.E. that most of the artists were drawing as though they lived in a bizzaro world. After double checking that we weren't looking into some sort of frightening mirror that reversed everything we found out the awful truth that south-paw fever had struck at the heart of the independent comics community.

So please remember if you start feeling the urge to switch-hit or you see your child trying to write with their left hand slap that hand and slap it hard... otherwise they'll never achieve their full potential.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I hope you have enough S.P.A.C.E.!

I'm just back from a vacation with my family to Newport News, VA and we had a great time. We got to check out how dumb the first people to land at Jamestown(e) were, Williamsburg (both historic and non), and the Yorktown battlefield where we kicked some British ass in 1781... no offense to our British readers. These three places make up what the Virginia Tourism Board likes to call "The Historic Triangle". We also got to see my Sister in Law, Sister's Husband in Law, and my Niece in law while we where there. My niece Sophie takes adorableness to new cheek squeezing heights.

John Smith had a fantastic Mustache.

For what it's worth we were there from Saturday night to Friday morning and their was still tons of stuff that we didn't get to see/eat. Thumbs up for Newport News.

On our way back we stopped in Columbus to see my In-Laws and more importantly so Sarah and I could hit S.P.A.C.E. (Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo)
I don't mean it as an excuse but when my Father died last year a lot of things fell to the wayside. Previous to that I had been advocating pretty heavily for Melee and then I just stopped. I now feel like it's time to start taking what Ben and I do seriously. We put out good comics and I don't think that the goal of getting people to look at our funny, free, entertaining comics is impossible.

At the Con we met a few really great people but I wanted to give a few a shoutout.

First I have to say that Chris Hallbeck of The Book of Biff was super cool. I had liked his stuff already but we ended up chatting for about 10 minutes and he gave me some good advice on advertising for Melee.

I don't know what it was about the single panel stuff that drew us in but we also had a nice little chat with Millard Draught of Dog-Eared who apparently also runs a sign company and gives good deals to comics guys who need signs for their tables. I think Ben and I will be in touch with Millard pretty soon.

I finally bought Birth and Novo and got to meet Michael S. Bracco who I had been keeping in touch with when Birth first came out before he won a bunch of awards and became popular. I read Birth and Novo as soon as I got home and ended kicking myself for not buying the second volume of Novo when I had the chance. Novo is the sequel to Birth and Michael says that he plans a storyline that will run about 5 or 6 books. I am looking forward to them.

Lastly, because of our Vacation Destination, it seemed appropriate for us to stop by Lora Innes's table. Lora writes and arts the Dreamer a comic about a high school girl who is transported back to the revolutionary war when she goes to sleep but still has to deal with all the normal dramas of being in High School when she wakes up. I've read through the first two issues so far and am looking forward to reading some more!

Anywho we met some other great people at the Con like Dave Arhar who created Franklinstein and the people over at Dimestore who do Small Press Idol. I look forward to hitting more cons in the area and hopefully have a table setup at some of them soon.

I will leave you with this... the road song that originally tortured my family on the road but that we were all singing together by the end of the trip.

Holiday Road...

I have no idea why the dogs bark at the end...

-- Nathan

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Shrinky-Dink Yourself

Recently at my day-job we made shriky dinks out of ubiquitous/cheap materials and it was a lot of fun.

All you need is some number 6 plastic (look for the recycling symbol with the 6 in the middle), an oven and non-watercolor color pencils. The ideal choice is prismacolor brand because of how nice and lush the leads are. First sand down the plastic so your pencil can get some purchase. It should be sanded opaque like a plastic cutting board. Draw as intricately as you like keeping in mind the idea that it will shrink to about a 1/3rd its original size. Set your oven to 325-put the finished plastic drawing in the oven and monitor it for 3 minutes. It will shrink up into a ball but it will unfold and when it does count to ten slowly and remove from the oven let it cool and you'll have a sweet little art object that you can make into a pin, a game piece, jewelry, pet tag, label, fridge magnet... you name it.

I am going to employ this technique in making game parts and nifty little miniatures to sell at the next stumptown comics fest!

I'm going to head into the studio now and next post will be about what I learned from this years' STCF but for now enjoy the caddillac of nerd accessories-as seen at Emerald City Comic Con. I give you "The Sultan"

If you are the world's biggest dork/your parent's best friend/roomate at age 30-plus despite a surplus fortune you made through webdesign and your skills with pearl script; this is the must have accessory for that one night a month you and your battlestar gallactica chatroom buddies get together and slay the horrifying creations of the necromancer.

My POTP (pick of the post as it will henceforth be called) is not comics related, though I have plenty of that to share in the future, it is the greatness of space! Check out the mind blowing images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope: Hooray for Science! People who know me well know that I love science. Everything from particle physics to theoretical mathematics and astronomy. I don't understand most it but I have a crush on science as a discipline though I am married to art. Check out the pictures and you'll want to come up with all sorts of science fiction plots for comics-if you are anything like me

Also here is a youtube video of a song by one of my favorite guitarists that features a digital wacky waving tube man as its' only visual: Jimmy Herring-Scapegoat Blues

Till next time. Now go get yourself some number 6 plastic and make something cool.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Emerald City Comic Con was very good over all but not dramatic. I suppose there are those amongst us (Americans in particular) who want things to happen in the current moment as if it were some fictional, future retrospective, lifetime movie of our experience-set to music with a pronounced 'ah ha!' moment. Things aren't really like that and yet, I felt a bit of that over arching potential success hovering around in the air. I guess it doesn't matter really if one's dream comes true in gradual increments or all at once. Thanks to my friends here at Periscope it is happening and that is enough to make me very happy no matter the pace.

I didn't take pictures because I am not one to add to the already huge archive of 'look at this crazy nerd in a jango fett/Dragonball Z costume' photos. There was a man who was the same height as Peter Mayhew in a Chewbacca costume-I almost was tempted to get a shot of that. The ceiling was like something out of Tron-as described by Jeff Parker-worthy of a look but aside from a few little deviations it was pretty par for the Comics convention course. The odd pretty girl dressed like Xena, a zombie or just sporting her favorite spring corset was common. At one point I was standing at a table getting a portfolio review and a woman came up with an elaborate backpck and started browsing the books there. The guy next to me said what I was thinking; "At first I was trying to figure out what she was 'supposed to be' and I realized she is carrying her baby in that thing." People and their crazy costumes... and their normal baby gear. It is also amazing how there is a typical comics professional body type: potato shaped with a bit of an unkempt beard. Most of my heroes adhere pretty closely to that archetype.


Jeff Parker was kind enough to let me have a bit of floor space in his hotel room which, due to its' size and proximity to the neighboring rooms gave us an obligatory set of front row seats for the carnal shenanigans going on next door. It was the loudest most pornographic sounding sexcapades I've ever heard in my life. At first we debated whether it was real, a movie or some sort of art piece but once we heard the distinctly audible unmistakable slap of a hand against buttocks the contest between real and fake was decided. We also determined that there had to be three of them because it never stopped and you could hear 3 unique voices. The other clue was the woman in the skin-tight tiger striped dress getting out of a cab as we were checking in. Jeff said the neighbors must have been on some sort of Sex-vacation. Just to be clear: we were trying to talk about Alex Toth and we couldn't help but hear these people-we are not weirdo pervs-they are. It was like they were doing it for our benefit. I wanted to sleep and think about comics which is hard to do when it sounds like the AVN awards are being broadcast into your room via megaphone.


I met Eric Canete and that was rad. He interrogated me about why I want to draw with a brush like all other comics people and after failing to give him an answer he would accept he told me to draw they way I feel comfortable and let that style speak for its' self. He also thanked me for my interest in the blog and smiled when he told me he wouldn't put it back up. He is one of my favorite artists and a cool guy for taking the time. His buddy Ivan Brandon was the one who introduced us and that guy is cool too. He has a super sweet viking project he did with an unknown artist and I have got to get a copy.

I also talked with David Mack, Adam Hughes and Tony Harris all of which were highlights for me. I made contact with a few editors and have started drawing test pages with the help of Paul Tobin and the rest of the studio as advisers. Paul gave me a Script that I'm working on as a preamble to my other Marvel Scripts that I'll be getting via email from a man I met at the convention. This man is C.B. Cebulski he is Marvel's Talent scout. David Hahn introduced me and it went well-he said he liked my stuff and gave me all his contact info so that I could test out on pages for Marvel editors. Paul gave me an Avengers script that I've started penciling:

The hard part is taking Paul's lush description and fitting in all the elements while keeping the dialogue sequential through careful positioning of the characters. Colleen Coover, Ron Randall, and Steve have all been very helpful with tips and tricks.

Tell anyone you know who is interested in becoming a professional comics artist to start following this blog because I will be sharing my experiences as I get closer to that goal. I wish I had been able to read about this process earlier in my life because there is a lot that you find out once your in it that would be nice to know before you go wandering in to the deep end of the pool. For instance here are a few things the periscope people have taught me:

1. reduce your huge portfolio to a few small pieces and keep them in a booklet about the size of a magazine-people will hate you if you drop a big black plastic art school portfolio onto their table full of loose pinups and your latest complete opus. Any pro has limited time and has probably been dealing with some weird con people all day so just be patient and listen to what they offer you.

2. Make small packets or mini comics that you can leave behind if they ask for one-these are called 'take aways'

3. Steve Lieber told me to get out there and "put my art in front of anyone who writes or publishes a comic book." He went on to say that anyone who has a huge stack of books at their but isn't drawing anything is probably a writer.

4. Have a clear idea of what you want from someone before you kneel down next to their table. If it is a crit tell them that. If it is just to show them what you do introduce yourself in that way. If you state your business they will be more likely to give you the kind of feed back you're looking for.

There is much more but I'll leave some of that for a future post

My pick of the post is that of Periscope Studio members Susan Tardif and Rich Ellis: THE RAVEN"S GAMBIT! a miniseries comic about fantasy adventures engaged in all manner of mischief and danger-some as a result of their own inept actions.RPG themed adventuring at its' best!

It has a familiar ring to anyone who has read our own White Pony strip or ever done role-playing (D & D and the like). It is well drawn, written and toned. Susan is a great colorist in addition to being a fine illustrator and Rich is an up and coming penciler/inker with a sharp sense of humor. Good people with a good comic. Who could ask for more?

And Yes, I wore plaid. I packed it before I read Nathans post. Happy now?

Friday, April 3, 2009

No More Discard.

Sad. Eric Canete took down his blog. I hope he's okay. This is a drag for me because I've really been inspired to draw in the last year by his example- I'm going to keep his link up because he deserves to have his name mentioned in as many places as possible. I hope that he decides to put up a website or something that I can promote. In the mean time one can find his energetic, lean, highly stylized, briliant work in your local comics shop in titles like "Ironman: Enter the Mandarin" and "End League" collaborating with Periscope studio member Rick Remender. Do yourself a favor and seek out his work. I will try to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Mystery Solved.-from the man himself I got the word at ECCC. He won't put it back up; I assume because he is out there kicking too much booty. I will make my next post about the con including his words of wisdom.

As for my pick of the post I found a charming little webcomic about robots that is worth looking at. I think the drawings are nicely handled in a consistent cartoon style and it is actually funny from time to time which cannot be said for many comics which profess such a claim outright. it is called ROBOTS WITH BRAINS Go see the fun for yourself.


This weekend I'm heading to the Gem City Comic Con (GCCC) in scenic Dayton, OH with Sarah and I'm really looking forward to it. Melee won't have a table this year but we're looking into it for next year. This year I'm just looking forward to going, buying some comics, and meeting some people. Keep an eye out for me, I assure you that I'll be the only guy wearing a Melee Comics t-shirt.

You can also catch Ben this weekend at Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC), I'm not sure but he'll be wearing but dollars to donuts it will be plaid.

In addition... AC/DC rules.

Exhibit A: Melee Style!