Velvet Rope # 8: A Three Panel Preview

Still cranking on my Velvet Rope horror short, "Friend Request." I thought it'd be fun to share a little 3 panel lettered preview. Enjoy.


Creator's Toolkit #4: Dirk Manning's Write or Wrong Column

Here is a completely unsolicited plug for a great series of articles for aspiring comics creators generally, and writers specifically. For the past couple years, Newsarama has featured a column titled "Write or Wrong," written by Dirk Manning. Dirk is the writer/creator of the online and print series Nightmare World.

Now, I'm not going to do the articles justice here, but Write or Wrong consistently provides some "tough love" to aspiring comic writers, specifically on just how much work it takes to get anywhere in the industry. Still, Dirk provides some helpful tips on topics such as how to find and work with artists, marketing your comic and building your brand, general storytelling do's and don'ts, and a host of others. The column is must read stuff for up-and-comers and those trying to break in.

To get a sense of just what drives Dirk's philosophy regarding becoming a comics creator, you need to look no further than his article, WOW #3: How Badly Do You Want It?- Dirk recalls a conversation he had with Marvel editor Axel Alonso, where he asked him for advice on how an aspiring writer could increase his or her chances of breaking in.

Alonso told him, “If you want to write comics you have to show editors that you can actually write comics. It’s hard to find the time to sit down and read scripts, but we all love comics, so you’ll need to show you can write comics using a comic. To do that you’ll need an artist. You’ll need to either find someone willing to work with you for free or pay someone to illustrate a short script for you… and it may cost you a decent amount of money. However, you could have a nice entertainment system at home… or you could pay a really good artist to illustrate one of your scripts so you have something to show editors. It just comes down to a matter of how badly you want it.”

This really jives with my own philosophy. You could spend all day long thinking up cool Spiderman story lines, drawing 5 page sequential samples of the Fantastic Four taking on the Justice League, or fill your hard drive with script after script. Hey, if that's what you want to do, nothing wrong with that. But if you actually want to be a comics writer or artist, sooner or later, you actually have to get around to creating actual, complete comics. To expect anyone to hire you, or even listen to word one of a pitch, before you've actually demonstrated the ability and the tenacity to see a comic story told from start to finish is pretty ridiculous.

So check out Write or Wrong. The complete set of links to all the articles can be found here. You'll be glad you did.


Creator's Toolkit #3: New Studio

As mentioned, a new office was one of the best perks of my new apartment. Here are a few pics of my new setup. I'm loving that I'll have sufficient shelf space for all of my graphic novels. I put up a cork board to post finished pieces and other bits of inspiration. I've some new organizers to keep my inking pens and other drawing tools organized. And finally, my computer set up is optimized with a new all-in-one printer, scanner, and wacom tablet.

So in short...I'm ready to crank out the comics!


Gaming #1: Spore Creature Creator

While this is primarily a comics blog, from time to time I'm going post about video games, which which shouldn't be much of a surprise, as I spend my work week developing them for a small software company.

If you've got a few minutes to kill, do yourself a favor and download the Spore Creature Creator for free. Spore is the new game created by celebrated game designer Will Wright (creator of The Sims and SimCity.) While the game itself isn't set to be released until the beginning of September, in a brilliant move, they have released the Spore creature editor to the public for free today.

Spore is being called a "massively single-player online game" that allows players to control the evolution of a species of their creation from it's nascent origins from the primordial ooze all the way to it's development as a galaxy conquering society. What's especially cool is that most of the characters you will encounter in the game will be characters created by other Spore players. Which is one of the reasons Electronic Arts and Maxis decided to launch the creature creator before launching the actual game. This move ensures that there will be a host of original player-created content in the game on day one, and more importantly, a whole lot of gamers already invested in the game and chomping at the bit to see the creatures they've created in action.

Check out my first Spore creation here...I designed this guy in about 10 minutes, and he was busting a move shortly there after...


Super Seed #16- Still Rolling...

I'm still very happy with the relaunch of Super Seed as an ongoing webcomic. My daily page views are continuing to rise, people are contacting me to enter my monthly drawing contest (more details on that can be found HERE) and I've managed to consistently update with new pages every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

I've recently moved (more on that in a later post) and so I've been away from the drawing table for a while. All of my things have been packed or in transit and have yet to be organized and put in their proper places. But I'm thrilled with my new location for two main reasons. One, I've reduced my commute to work from a soul-sucking hour plus drive each way, down to a scenic 5 minute stroll to the office. This is going to greatly increase the time I have to devote to comic projects...two hours a day saved, times 5 days a week, times 40 plus work weeks a year....yeah, that's some serious time I'm getting back, not to mention a great boost to my quality of life. (Oh yeah, and my wallet...Sorry Mr. Mobile, Sorry Mr. Hess, won't be coming by so often any more.)

Another reason my change of locale will be great for my comics production is that I'm going to have my own office/studio that I can really hook up just the way I want. More on that in a post to come.

I seem to have gotten off the topic of this post, which is Super Seed...but hey, my move will mean I'll have more time and energy to keep Super Seed coming out regularly for weeks and months to come. A new page was uploaded today, and one of my favorite pages is going to be dropped on Friday. Here's a larger image of a piece of that page. I guess it's pretty obvious why I like the new page so much...


Pin-Ups #3: Homages

I spend most of my comics creation time focused on developing my own comic projects. As a result, I don't have the most extensive sketchbook of mainstream comic characters. But I do read a ton of super hero books, and from time to time I can't resist tackling them. And every once and a while, I decide to do a homage piece. When I see a layout that I just can't resist, I'll grab the lightbox and then put my own twist on it...usually swapping in different characters. These always make for strong finished pieces, and while I can't take all the credit, they're fun to do. I've included a few of my favorite examples that I've done over the past year or two.

Each of these pieces include characters from Rob Liefeld's catalog of characters, and shared them over on his boards.

This first piece was a homage of David Finch's awesome first cover for the New Avengers. I adapted the cover to be a mock cover for a book that was advertised but never was released- The Allies, comprising of characters from Rob's extreme universe.

This next piece was based on McNiven's awesome cover to the second issue of Civil War.

And finally here is a piece I did entirely digitally. It was for Diehard pin-up contest...I couldn't resist.


Sketches and Layouts #4- Task

Here's my entry for the latest sketch challenge over at the Liefeld boards. About an hour to pencil and ink. I really dogged the decapitated character in the background...but hey, it's just a sketch.

You can check out the other entries that come in over the next 48 hours here. (You might have to register/login.)


On the Net #2: Wrong Turn Post-Script

Oh, the magic of the internet...

I love Internet Movie Data Base. I decided to do a little, where are they now for the actors that appeared in my film. One of the things I hung my hat on when I first showed Wrong Turn in my film class was that I had casted, by far, the hottest actress for my lead. Frank Miller's Sin City story required nothing short of a drop dead beauty. And Kristi Clainos was that.

Now it's a cliche that everyone in Hollywood is an actor-slash- (waiter, bartender, production assistant, street performer, you name it.) But until you're there in LA, it's hard to get a sense of what that really means. As it turns out, many aspiring actors and actresses are willing to do free film work so long as you provide them with a copy of the finished product and give them a credit. So casting my movie was actually a lot easier than I thought.

Kristi, who I cast as Deliah in my film, was a real trooper. She actually was shooting a nylon stockings commercial the following day, but was still willing to roll around on the ground in a somewhat physical shoot. So, I'm definitely happy to see that she's managed to make a career out of acting. IMDB tells me that she went on to do an episode of Showtimes' Sleeper Cell, Cold Case, CSI, Las Vegas, and Desperate Housewives, among other things. So go Kristi.


On the Net #1: Wrong Turn

Heh. I'm moving this week, and doing all of the packing and cleaning that changing addresses entails, and what did I come across? Why, my first (and only) attempt at making a short film. What's this have to do with comics you say? Well, actually it relates very well.

In 2001, after a rough first year as a teacher in inner city New Orleans, I hopped in my car and drove out west for a summer in LaLa land. On a whim, I enrolled in a course at the University of Southern California's School of Cinema and Television- a summer workshop called "Directing Intensive." It was basically a 5 week crash course in movie making, with the end-of-course project being a finished short film. It was five weeks of running around L.A. writing, casting, rehearsing, producing, directing, and editing a film. In hind site, it was a hell of a lot of work, and I'm kind of amazed I was able to get it done. LA is a different place...but we'll deal with that some other time.

I decided to adapt a Sin City yarn titled "Wrong Turn," which I believe was from Frank Miller's Booze, Broads, and Bullets collection. While it's pretty embarassing looking at the final product now, I still get a kick out of it. And hey, the $158 million world wide that Robert Rodriquez's Sin City movie made four years later proves at the very least that I can pick material that will work well on the big screen. I'll admit that not even Bruce Willis and Jessica Alba could have saved my flick...but hey, it was my first crack.

So get your popcorn ready...


Velvet Rope # 7: Set-backs and Progress

Good news and bad news time. The good news is that the pencils for my story for Arcana's Velvet Rope horror anthology helmed by Mark Poulton, tentatively called "Friend Request" are progressing nicely.

The bad news is that they aren't progressing fast enough. Turns out my submission was one of the last ones Mark recieved, and he wants to get all finished pages in by mid-June. Now, even if it wasn't crunch time at work requiring some 12-14 hour days, and even if I wasn't in the middle of moving residences, I could probably buckle down and knock out my penciled pages. But given that Bong hasn't had a chance to start inking pages yet, it's doubtful he'll be able to finish by then. And there's NO WAY we'd be able to get the pages colored and lettered in time. So, I'm sad to say, my story most likely won't make it into Velvet Rope #1.

I'm a little bummed. I think it's a cool little story, perfect for an anthology series. But on the brightside, Mark and Arcana are planning for success with this anthology, and he said he'll reserve a spot for "Friend Request" in issue #2. So, I'll continue to work on it. As it is no longer a rush job, I can take the time to make sure it's of really high quality when it does see print.

Anyway, check out finished pencils for pages 2 and 3.