Thursday, January 28, 2010

White Pony Thumbnails!

Nathan suggested I post some of the original thumbnails I come up with in the process of developing finished pages for our web-comic. Here are the thumbnails along with the originals.

Page 94:

Pages 88 and 89:

Page 95:

And here is a preview of page 96:

If I don't have a clear idea of what I want to draw then I tend to do more elaborate drawings in the planning stage. If I have already done a nice little thumbnail but I'm unsure of the panel order than I occasionally try a quick full page rough like page 94: the first image is just a structure guide to see how it will look laid out. I also sometimes have cause to design a prop and you can see that on 94 as well. I drew a couple of grapple guns and then I drew a model that was similar to what you ended up seeing.

In the case of these recent pages I've been plotting the story and coming up with a rough script that I then send to Nathan for tweaking. I occasionally drop in a bit of dialogue just to drive him nuts as I did on page 95 with "onward to adventure and beyond." He will call me and when I ask him what he thinks of that line I get a whole host of wonderful responses. I love to annoy him with my dialogue and then have him fix it.

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my brain.

As a side note My pick of the post is a charming Web-strip I found called Hell Has Found Me. I discovered a business card sitting on the lunch table, that must have been given to one of the studio members, and I had a look at the URL for myself. HHFM is a nice, light-hearted, Fantasy strip if you like blue-collar Monsters, paintball, talking corpses and other odds and ends found in frequent over-lap with the world of RPGs, fantasy, Comics or any other context where nerds are in great supply.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why Darwyn Cook Is Better Than Most Of Us.

I've recently been paying more attention to the stripped down aesthetics of more crisp styles demonstrated beautifully by Periscope members David Hahn and Jonathan Case. In addition to those two friends of mine I increasingly enjoy like-minded comics artists Alex Toth, Bruce Timm and Darwyn Cooke.

All of these people have the guts and know-how to take complex forms down to efficient abstract line work without losing the nuance. There is also an uncanny enhancement of narrative through the power of their abstraction. When I saw Darwyn Cooke's "new frontier" from DC I knew I had to redraw my Conan pages. I am certain that I can tell that story with more efficiency and power. I want to fuse the lithe line work of Adam Hughes, Olivier Coipel, Terry Dodson, Yanick Paquette and Eric Canete with the streamlined art deco forms chiseled onto the page by the artists I first mentioned.

I've been reinvigorated by the recent hard work, manifesting in success, of my fellow Ben: My friend Ben Bates. He was auditioning for a spot on Archie Comics' Sonic the hedgehog with persistence, patience and passion. He kept doing drawings for them in a manner that could not be ignored. He demonstrated that they would be foolish not to hire him and he got the job. I'm hoping to duplicate his efforts with My Conan work. I'd love to draw that book and I'm gong to keep making pages until I get a shot at it.

Here Are some of my new sketches for the revamped Conan pages. I'm trying to be less stiff and more Darwyn. Though I will say that these ended up being an exercise and I won't be drawing final versions. I talked my new approach over with artist Colleen Coover, who is one of my great teachers, she convinced me to keep making pages and 'never to remake pages.' She told me that you need to keep momentum and take what you've learned and apply it to the next page. One can get stuck in the quicksand of perfectionism really quickly.

The next few Conan Pages should have some of the Darwyn Cooke Spark in them if I can capture the spark of what I've been studying.

The Importance Of A Great Collaborator

One thing to consider is that doing a webcomic or printed comics work can be a thankless and isolated task. Unlike film, comics doesn't require more than one person and as such it is easy to get into a situation where you make decisions in a strange vacuum. In the best of circumstances a creator can have a partner to bounce ideas off of, review the work and share both the criticism or praise. I like working with Nathan because it we keep each other honest and obligated to produce. I imagine it would be rather easy to let certain projects slide (as I have with my boardgames) if I didn't have a friend and coconspirator to push those things along for our mutual benefit.

In summary, our method is essentially this:

1. get yourself a creative partner you love and respect outside the realm of comics

2. make a point to have regular meetings.

3. commit to a schedule and hold your counterpart to it.

4. plan small even if you are thinking big.

5. divide up the tasks necessary for achieving your goals.

6. be willing to let go of your own individual concerns in favor of the bigger picture.

7. decide on projects that you are both excited about.

It is like being in a band. The more people you add the trickier it gets to organize things but the more interesting the artistic interchanges can be. Try solo projects if you are inclined but save the heavy lifting for collaboration.

I'm with Coco

What NBC is doing to Conan O'Brien is absurd. I don't now, nor have I ever, understood the appeal of the bland simple humor that Jay Leno does. Letterman was screwed out of The Tonight Show 20 years ago, Conan O'Brien is being screwed out of it now and if the show is moved to 12:05 (where it's name will be changed to "The Tomorrow Morning Show") they'll ensure that it's never good again. Johnny Carson is spinning in his grave like a rotisserie chicken.

Friday, January 8, 2010

First Work of the New Year.

I have a dear friend who loves both Thor and Ghost Rider. He and I have been very close since we were about 3 years old and he is also a close friend of my dear old pal Nathan, with whom I co-created 'tales from the white pony'(amongst other webcomics) and share this blog. We love this guy. For his birthday/Christmas/engagement I thought I might make him a little commission that he could put up on his wall:

This piece took quite a while because I started from a little sketch, did tight pencils, inked it and then painted it by hand. I'm going to send it off to him in a few days framed but you all get to see a scan of it before I do! Below are some of the steps that I took on the path to the finished image.




I did some color roughs too but I don't think they are different enough from the final picture to merit inclusion. If you want a commission of this type from me shoot an email to melee comics and we can work out a rate. This one only cost my buddy Ben B 26 years worth of friendship.