Artist. Designer. Awkward wad of nerd. Fights off existential terror and self-loathing with Godzilla films.

amechanicaldisaster@gmail.com

Things just got REAL

So, guess what? EMBRACE INFECTION IS UP:
 Hanging the 10 pieces on Sunday was excruciating, partially because I got there at 8am after a night of no real sleep. I felt like I was operating at the limits of my capacity doing this thing. But it's up, open to the public, and that's all there is to it.

Instead of a comic for yesterday's East Tennesseean, I made a piece of shameless self-promotion:
 I don't think any of the other BFA shows have actually been mentioned in the paper yet. This issue also got a press release, because I got sick of just promoting myself and wanted people to take interest in the other artists I'm showing with. 

It's hard to believe this is the week I've been building up for since the summer. It's surreal. I feel like I'm in this weird daze, and my nerves are on fire, I'm worried about things going horribly wrong, about somehow still failing and not graduating, stupid things like that. Tomorrow morning for class I'm going to have to stand in the gallery and answer questions from classmates. I have no idea what they'll ask. I really don't. I probably won't sleep tonight. Oh lord.

Friday I meet my advisor in the gallery for, I guess a critique of sorts. Then that evening is the reception. I've got a decent number of friends supporting me and saying they'll be there, which I'm really excited about. Saturday I take it down. Man.

In other news, my friend David and I are collaborating for a pair of strips for one of the final weeks of the paper, an adventure with Professors Bear and Waterbear. David's writing the script, I'll draw it of course, and we've pleaded with the editor to give us a lot of space for each strip so that it'll be something truly epic. I'm so excited about that. He just asked me if I'm against time travel somehow being involved. AWESOME.

I've also been writing/thumbnailing/designing a new comic, which may end up as a graphic novella, considering how far I am into it at this point. I'm keeping tight-lipped about it, but what I find funny is that, that one other comic, the sci fi action one I rambled about? I got 30 pages in before dropping it, and the plot was bland, there wasn't much action, and there was nothing weird. I was being more...conservative, I suppose. No dreams, no nudity, no strange creatures, none of that. This new comic I'm working on? Over 30 pages plotted out, the plot largely involves dreams, there are strange creatures, and there's quite a bit of nudity. And I'm not slowing down much at all or getting frustrated with it like I was with the last one. I guess I should stop trying to be more normal and just let my work be as weird as it can be, it's more fun that way.

Hm. That's it. I'll let you know how the reception and everything else goes. I should go to bed soon...

[Brett]

Momentum overwhelms

Okay, what the hell is up with the spam comments about handbags? Why do I keep getting those? I think that's the first time I've ever even typed the word "handbags" ever in my entire life. Worst. Spambots. Ever. Couldn't I be spammed with something more interesting? Like, I don't know, fresh organic produce or something? I get comments so rarely as it is, and that makes the spam even more annoying.

Oh well.

Here's today's Distinguished Gentlemen strip, in which things get pretty epic:
Exciting right? Though I have to confess, I completely jump the shark in next week's strip. How do you jump the shark in a comic strip about a giant fire-breathing penguin? You'll see. Here's a hint: there are only two or three methods for getting rid of a giant monster, and none of them are all that sensible.

That's a terrible hint.

HEY! I HANG THE PIECES FOR EMBRACE INFECTION IN THREE DAYS. HOLY CRAP. The time is upon us! Get stoked! Reception next Friday! Come see me trying not to be a massively awkward nerd surrounded by my own art! There are two other people exhibiting as well, and I think they're both more talented than I am, so if you don't come to see me, you should come to see their work instead. Especially since one girl's exhibition is about a secret agent cat going to Paris to stop a mouse's diabolical plans.

I'll be so glad when this is all over and done with. Did I mention I can't stand to look at the pieces anymore? Because I can't. I'm just glad I got all that weird psuedo-sexual mutation stuff out of my system so I can move on to things that are hopefully more easily digested by the public.

(yes, I'm already working on another comic from the ashes of that action comic I gave up on)

(it's already incredibly weird, sorry)

(no I'm not talking about it yet, too soon)

[Brett]

I'm getting pretty good at little things

I'm kind of sick, either from something I ate or a stomach virus of some sort, who knows, so I'll try to be brief (and will not succeed). Here's today's Exciting Tales! strip, a haiku about the rain:
So here's the cast, from left to right: The raptor with the umbrella is my friend Ricky's TRUE FORM. Next up is Harold, who readers should be familiar with. At least this time he's not getting slapped with a fish or assaulted by a large waterbear. Then there's my editor, Alaina. Her cellphone apparently never works, and she wanted it in the comic. Past her is Sterlin, carrying a copy of Museum for Dead Clowns and listening to uh, probably Black Flag. Then there's Radha, annoyed, and Trey, who wields the Iron Fist. The melting guy is my old roommate, because I think I once dreamed about him melting in the rain. Last we have Dr. Noe looking down at Sami's arm as she drowns in a puddle because she's short.

I had posted on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to be in a comic walking miserably through the rain, and they responded. Except Ricky, but I just REALLY wanted to draw a raptor. And my old roommate, who I do not talk to anymore.

Um. There were things I wanted to talk about prior to like, getting sick, but I can't remember what they are. I've just been watching Top Gear and rereading Darwyn Cooke's comic adaptions of the Hunter and the Outfit, which are some of the best comics I've ever read. Also the first volume of X-Statix. But uh...I can't remember if there was anything I wanted to talk about regarding any of these things?

I did interrupt a conversation between two former co-workers the other night when they were talking about what new DC titles they were reading. I screamed, "NO, FORGET ALL OF THAT, I'VE GOT ONE WORD FOR YOU: OMACTIVATE!!"

I'm still one of like, two people enjoying that comic, I think.

Right, on comes the nausea. AWAY.

[Brett]

Standing one step closer.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Would you like to see today's Distinguished Gentlemen strip? It's another one that I'm proud of:
That line in the bottom panel, spoken by the penguin in the distressing font? That may be the greatest piece of dialogue I will ever write. I seriously think that I am just BRINGING IT with these recent strips, I am so happy with the work I've been doing.

Which is why it's so disappointing when they get shoved into a tiny space in the newspaper, barely readable at all. Monday's Ghost Monkey strip was printed so freaking small. It angered me, that something I put a lot of effort and love into, was made to look almost like an afterthought, like "oh we have this little tiny bit of space left so let's just throw this stupid comic strip in there." I know that's not what it is, I know the guy who does the page layouts has to deal with the articles and ads that HAVE to be a specific size on the page (its the ads which keep the paper going) and that he doesn't really have a whole lot of time to sit and come up with a layout that's nice and balanced, pleasing to the eye. But, you know, it still kind of hurts, especially because of the detail I've been throwing into these lately. I just have no control over it. But hey, that's why they're all online too!

Of course, there have been other strips in the past which were printed pretty huge, which is awesome. And, regardless of size issues, I've heard that the comics have been getting praise, and I've heard some funny stories too. Apparently a friend of mine that works in the library on campus has people occasionally come up to him and ask what my comics mean. And David told me a story the other night about how he watched a guy open up the paper to the page that last week's Distinguished Gentlemen was on, stare at it for a long time, and then slowly smile. Heh.

Anyways, onto better things. I accomplished a lot yesterday. For one thing, after a few excruciating hours, I got my vinyl sign cut out for Embrace Infection:
It'll be going vertically on one of the gallery walls, most likely.

On top of that, I received my postcards for the show. I only ordered 50, which was barely enough. I distributed about 30 or so throughout the art building on campus and handed out quite a few too. Today I mailed a couple to some good friends. ADVERTISING. Finally, I picked 10 of the 12 prints to hang and dropped them off to be professionally mounted. Next Sunday is when I'll be hanging the pieces.

To sum things up: SHIT IS GETTING REAL, DAWG.

Oh, and that comic I was working on, that I talked so much about earlier this week and last? I uh, stopped. The story got too far away from me. So I'm setting it aside. What was it that I said in that one entry? That I hoped it wouldn't get scrapped or something?

Oops.

But hey, at least I've got a thrilling story going with the Distinguished Gentlemen being chased by a giant fire-breathing penguin in Antarctica, right?

[Brett]

Down in the old morgue.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN. Here's today's East Tennessean strip, about the Ghost Monkey of ETSU. It's a true story:
Could this be my best work yet? Next week's Exciting Tales! is going to be a haiku. I can't do haiku very well, so it's bound to be terrible. There may be a dinosaur in it though.

I thought about writing about all the different horror movies I've been watching lately. I think I've finally pulled myself out of my John Carpenter kick that I've been on after making attempts at watching some of his lousier films like the Ward. I bought Halloween and watched it last night, of course. Old Vincent Price films like the Masque of the Red Death, but those still don't compare to the outrageous awesomeness of the Abominable Dr. Phibes. Re-watched Nosferatu and and the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which led me to draw this last night:
I MAY re-watch Nosferatu again tonight, because it is great. I also watched Shadow of the Vampire, which I had bought earlier this year and kind of forgot I owned. And another favorite of mine, Bram Stoker's Dracula.I had started watching the 2005 remake of Dr. Caligari, and it was...eh. The acting wasn't too good, though Doug Jones was REALLY creepy as the somnambulist. If I finish it, it'll be for his performance, definitely...

Eh, that's it. I'm gonna go eat candy and draw now.

[Brett]

I want my own clockwork band.

Here's today's Distinguished Gentlemen strip, which is the most cinematic comic I've ever done, possibly:
I finished drawing the next strip today. It too is a doozy.

Nothing to report on. My life has been mostly horror movies, comics, and tying loose ends up regarding the exhibition of Embrace Infection and my graduation.

I would like to point out a few things: First, this week's issue of Secret Avengers is jaw-droppingly awesome. David Aja's art is absolutely perfect, channeling the likes of Toth and Steranko, with Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, kicking people in the face in a sci fi MC Escher-like setting. It's a thing of beauty. Second, I think that the Abominable Dr. Phibes is not only Vincent Price's greatest role, but also my favorite horror movie. Or it's at least up there with the Thing and the Fly. It's so ostentatious and wildly entertaining. Finally, I got to watch Psycho Gothic Lolita yesterday, and was quite disappointed. This is heartbreaking.

Er, that's all. Gonna go draw, eat cookie cake, and watch Halloween III: Season of the Witch, the one that DOESN'T have Michael Myers in it.

[Brett]

Skip to the fight scene.

Hello, here's yesterday's Exciting Tales! strip, which I sincerely believe is one of my absolute best comics yet:
After doing the Professor Bear strip? I HAD to do one about Professor Waterbear.  It also gave me the opportunity to do a figure drawing gag I had been wanting to do from the beginning.

Man, Harold just can't catch a break...

As mentioned before, Thursday's Distinguished Gentlemen will be pretty amazing, and Monday's Halloween strip will be even more amazing.

A friend sent me this video on Facebook. See if you can figure out why:

I think I like this guy. "MAY THE POWER OF THE COSMOS BE WITH YOU!!"

So I mentioned before that I'm working on a new action comic that I'm taking my time on. Since then, much progress has been made. I've been writing and thumbnailing simultaneously, which seems to be the best way to work, considering that I always get bogged down if I just try to sit and type out a script. I finished laying out the first chapter, which at 16 pages is longer than anything I've done before, but a bit short for even a single-issue thing. Still, it is what it is, and I may do a bonus supplementary chapter to squeeze in a few more pages. I started the second chapter today, with three pages thumbed out so far.
The guy on the far right is introduced in the second chapter, explaining how he bought an isolation chamber that he never uses.

I keep referring to this as my "dumb action comic," but it's hardly that at the moment. The fight scene in the first chapter takes up about 5 or 6 pages, and the rest is just two characters talking. No idea if there'll be much action in the second chapter, because I'm finding that it's more fun to develop the characters and the setting, but at the same time, I have to fight and keep myself from making it all just a big, boring exposition dump, so I have to figure out how much info to let out and when. There's a lot of questions between the two main characters, and figuring out what they are, when to ask and when to answer is a big chore.

There's a lot of designing to do too. In trying to give the town the comic takes place in a life of its own, there's a lot of defining to do. For instance, the hotel itself needs look as though it's been around quite a while, but the TV, furniture, and other little bits need to look new and different, like they've replaced the old furniture but left the room itself as is. Does that make sense? It's a science fiction future, but the town itself hasn't quite caught up just yet. And it's doubly difficult because I've never really drawn any real interior spaces before, my backgrounds are always light, and I'm going to try and break that with this comic. Also, a scene with a car. I'm going to hate myself when I start to REALLY draw this.

And compared, to the other comics I've done, there's not really any super weird and random crap. Not yet, anyways. I want things to slowly get more and more ludicrous as time passes, so maybe later on it'll become what it was originally intended to be. I realized I can't just make a comic that's a bunch of fighting and make it compelling or interesting if the characters don't do much else and the setting is ambiguous.

I mentioned No More Heroes and Old City Blues last time as influences, but I realized there's more going into it than that. Akira, the Woman Trap, King City, Ronin, and hell, I quote David Lynch's Lost Highway in one panel and in another do a scene similar to a Batman panel from the only Justice League comic I own. It's coming from all over the place, which is totally a good thing.

I probably won't start drawing the actual pages until December at the earliest, once the semester and my job doing comics for the East Tennessean is done.

Also, unlike previous Big Ambitious Projects I've come up with, hopefully this one won't get scrapped so quickly, especially after having written about it here.

[Brett]

There will be PENGUINS

Hello. Things have been happening.

Here's today's Distinguished Gentlemen strip, the start of a new storyline:
I admit, I drew this while I was in that slump I previously talked about, so it's not one of my favorites. Next week's strip, however, is going to be fantastic, trust me. Taking these guys in a new direction.

This week I made my design for the postcard for Embrace Infection:
There are a few more things I need to get done before the show, like mounting my pieces and some other silly odds and ends that the professor is making way too much of a fuss about. But they'll get done.

I really wish the show was sooner, so I could just get over with it and out of the way, because I'm to the point where I'm sick of looking at and thinking about this body of work and I'm ready to move on and do new things.

I'm working on a new action comic, writing and writing and rewriting it. I've written the intro four or five times and I think just today got it nailed down, with four thumbnails to go alongside it. I've designed a bunch of the characters (a few of which are repurposed from older concepts) and have done lots of frantic sketches. I'm not going to start seriously drawing the thing until I know what I'm doing, where I'm going, and approximately how long it may be. I'm making myself work slow, because I want it to look good and I want everything to work, and when I get stuck on a character or story element, I don't want to try to force it. Everything's gotta flow good.

The three big influences on this work are No More Heroes, Jerome Opeña's art on Uncanny X-Force, and the Old City Blues Comic I wrote about last time. To varying degrees, of course. There's a bit of Sergio Leone in there too.

My time keeps getting eaten by other things, though. My laptop is slowly dying, and the other day the disc drive wasn't working at all. I've ordered an external hard drive to back everything up onto, then I'm going to start looking at desktop machines. I'll keep using the laptop til it dies, but I don't know if that'll be next week or next year.

Also, I bought Dark Souls, the sequel to the horrible addiction that was Demon's Souls, on Friday. I shouldn't have to say anything else there.

...In fact, I'm gonna shut up and go play it right now.

[Brett]

In which Reginald curses

So I bought this graphic novel in Barnes & Noble yesterday, OLD CITY BLUES. It can also be read in its entirety on its website, and I think you should check it out if you're into cyberpunk awesomeness.

Here's the kicker, though: The creator, Giannis Milonogiannis, is my age. He's 23 years old and he has a hardcover graphic novel out that can be bought at Barnes & Noble. Holy freaking crap. Talk about throwing the gauntlet, because this thing's better than quite a lot of what the Big Two are putting out, and he's only 23. At first, it felt like a kick in the balls, that someone my age already has a graphic novel published, but it's a good, refreshing kick in the balls, a call to step up my game and work harder. It's motivating. It's the kind of comic that you can look at and just get inspired to do your own work, and we need more of that, you know? Comics and creators that ENCOURAGE you to step up and go for it. It's awesome.

It's the same reason I love King City and Casanova so much, because they make you WANT to make comics.

Anyways, here's this week's Exciting Tales! strip:
I REALLY wanted to pay tribute to Krazy Kat, and I REALLY wanted to do a comic about those annoying people who stand around outside the library and ETSU's Culp Center trying to give out Bibles, pamphlets, and crap like that. And here is the result.

(true story: this semester, an old man gave me a Bible outside the Culp Center. In exchange, I gave him a copy of Burst Reach. I have my OWN word to spread)

And here's this week's Distinguished Gentlemen strip, finally concluding the dating/lost hat story:
I love that walrus.

Next week is Fall Break, so they're only putting out one East Tennessean, meaning only one strip, which will probably be the beginning of the new Distinguished Gentlemen story.

That's it for now. More work to be done!

[Brett]

They're talking about you, boy.

So after that last entry, I decided I was being too much of a whiny emo loser bitch (in that order), and decided to get back in gear and get back to work...

...Then I got sick Saturday night, and spent all of sunday watching horror movies on Netflix: John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness, 2/3rds of Dario Argento's Inferno, Phantasm II, and Madhouse. Whenever I'm sick in October, I always sit and marathon horror movies. It goes back to this time in high school where I had a nasty stomach virus and sat watching AMC's Monsterfest.

While watching those films, I ended up drawing a piece of Casanova fanart. Newman Xeno, the comic's villain, is probably one of my favorite all-time characters. I considered trying to dress as him for Halloween:
Casanova is, incidentally, the best damn comic coming out right now, which of course explains why I'm having a hard time getting hold of the new issues. And one of the best comics ever. Trust me. You need to read it. Crazy sixties sexy sci fi awesomeness.

I finished reading John Dies at the End yesterday and loved it. Actually, I spent all day at work yesterday reading it, finishing the thing just 5 minutes before closing. I haven't been that absorbed in a book in quite some time. Excellent stuff.

And I've listened to this song more times that I'm willing to admit today, from the soundtrack to Drive, which I saw a couple weeks back:

I don't normally dig electro synth pop stuff, but this song is just hypnotic, like the movie itself was.

Hm...that's all I've got to share this evening. Oh, yeah, the Avengers trailer is out, and it looks like it'll do just fine, but that generic rock music and typical editing killed it for me. I kind of just wish the film was actually about Thor and Tony Stark going on a cross-country roadtrip and getting involved in wacky shenanigans with the Cosmic Cube or something, because aside from Black Widow being HOT, none of the other characters appeal to me. But then of course, the only superhero film I saw this year was X-Men: First Class, and I'm one of about five people seriously looking forward to Neveldine & Taylor's Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance next year, so what do I know?

[Brett]