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

amechanicaldisaster@gmail.com

"I'll drop you like a sack of kaiju shit"

Minutes into Pacific Rim, I felt my eyes watering. About halfway through, after Gipsy Danger triumphantly brings down a kaiju on the edge of Hong Kong (midway through one hell of a setpiece), they came back. The movie made me cry tears of joy. I don’t think any movie has done that to me in some time. After being let down by Iron Man 3 and Star Trek 2 Much Crying, this is exactly what I needed.

 I don’t want to write a full-fledged review, or go into a plot synopsis or anything, you can go literally anywhere else to read something like that. I just want to talk about how this movie worked on a personal level for me and throw out a bunch of random thoughts that I’ve had in my head all weekend.
I grew up on Godzilla movies and Power Rangers. Giant monsters were just the coolest thing ever to me at 8 years old, so this stuff is just in my blood. When I hit my teenage years, that passion moved into giant robot anime, specifically shows like Gundam Wing, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Big O. Recently I’ve been getting heavily back into the old Godzilla movies I liked as a kid, along with the 90’s Gamera trilogy, tokusatsu shows like Super Robot Red Baron (which I wrote at length about here), basically anything I can get my hands on, and you can tell it's been influencing my art a lot too. So it goes without saying that I was excited for Pacific Rim. I feel like this movie was made JUST for me. I started grinning the moment that kaiju started tearing into the Golden Gate bridge and I don’t think the grin ever left my face until well after it was all over.

Yeah, yeah, the movie is cheesy. That’s exactly how I wanted it to be, though. I wasn’t sure how Guillermo del Toro was gonna handle the movie at first, but from the moment I saw Raleigh and his brother strutting down that corridor in leather jackets like rockstar fighter pilots, I knew the movie was in good hands. There are certain clichés in the movie, yeah. Idris Elba plays your stereotypical hard-headed military commander that’s in every Gundam anime I’ve seen, and he plays it perfectly. I would’ve been disappointed if there wasn’t macho posturing, bickering, and fighting between any of the pilots, and I believe that every kaiju movie NEEDS a ship trapped in the middle of a raging storm, mistaking the giant monster coming at them for an island. Okay, it was all a bit predictable, but really, tell me, what kind of human drama were you expecting? I didn’t want darkness and cynicism and crying, and thankfully neither did del Toro.
The WWII influence is all over the place. The leather jackets, the kaiju kill stamps on the Jaegers along with painted logos, the design of the computers that the characters interact with are all heavy, colored buttons, switches and microphones in metal casing as opposed to fancy touch-screen tech that we’re used to seeing EVERYWHERE now. I approve of that aesthetic, it’s much more physical. It IS a little weird that in a movie taking place more than a decade into the future, everyone dresses like they’re from the mid-to-late 20th century, but the costumes suit the rest of the production design and makes it all feel a bit timeless and more, well, heroic feeling in a way I can’t quite articulate. I love del Toro’s films for their visual aesthetics and this movie did not let me down at all.
That first Jaeger in the prologue, the blue one with the fin on its chest? That design just SCREAMS Go Nagai. Seriously looks like it almost belongs in Mazinger Z or an episode of Super Robot Red Baron, fitting for a first generation Jaeger. I wish we’d gotten to see more of it in action. Cherno Alpha, another Mark I that we see, is yes, SUPER RUSSIAN, but also brings to mind some old-school Japanese mech designs that have the kind of dome heads with no neck. Like this dude from Red Baron:
Also, the Jaeger designs in general feel more to me like Armored Core and Virtual On than Gundam or Evangelion. Yes, the computer voice is absolutely GLaDOS from Portal, no mistaking that, but that voice is also VERY similar to the announcer in Virtual On. “ROUND ONE, GET READY” is a thing that’s embedded in my brain from putting so many quarters into that game.

THE MUSIC. The main theme is great for getting you pumped up and rooting for the Jaeger pilots, and the darker stuff, when the kaiju were attacking, was remarkably similar to the music I’m used to hearing in kaiju films, especially Koh Otani’s scores for the Gamera trilogy and Giant Monsters All Out Attack. Bravo, Ramin Djawadi.

All of the kaiju, while pure CG, looked like you could conceivably cram a guy in a suit and make it work. The way they moved, too, while more natural and animalistic, still had little touches that made them feel like guys strapped into heavy rubber suits from time to time. My ONLY complaint about the movie is that I wish the kaiju had been more colorful, or had more markings on them. I can only handle so many greyish tones and blue bioluminescence. Individual roars, while not necessary, would have been great. Each kaiju in a Toho movie has its own unique cry, easily distinguishable from one another, and a nod towards that would’ve been great.

The names! Mako Mori, Newton Geizler, Hercules Hansen, Stacker Fucking Pentecost! Those names alone are enough to inform you of what kind of movie you’re going into. You just don’t let people with average names like mine pilot a 250 foot tall robot designed specifically for punching the crap out of giant monsters from another dimension.
The only characters who really curse in the movie are Chuck Hansen and Hannibal Chau, which is very fitting for both characters. And most of the swearing is of course from Hannibal. I just thought that was a nice touch. While I'm at it, let's take a moment to appreciate how ballin' Ron Perlman is in this movie, brief as his appearance is.

Clifton Collins, Jr. I’ve only seen him in two other movies, Scott Pilgrim and Crank 2, but I dig that guy. Not sure why he was dressed as the Eleventh Doctor, but I have no complaints. And the balding, long-haired dude running Hannibal’s shop, is that the same actor who played that vampire in the beginning and end of Blade 2? And why was that old guy with the metal detector so familiar to me?

…So yeah, it’s safe to say I loved it. I’ve seen it twice now, the second time in 3D, and plan on seeing it at least once more. The last movie I saw more than twice in theaters? Hellboy 2. Funny how things like that work out.

This is my design

Bear with me. Trying to articulate thoughts that have been running through my head is always kind of difficult.

As I'm laying out plans to get the final three chapters of Other Sleep finished this year, I'm slowly beginning to sketch out the basics of my next graphic novel idea. It's going to be an entirely different beast. Some things will be similar to OS I guess, sci-fi with a female protagonist, but I want to tackle it in a different manner. I'm thinking about story structure, most specifically.

This week, I blasted through the entire first season of the new Hannibal TV show. Which is weird, I never go through an entire season of ANY TV show that quickly, unless it's the Tim and Eric Awesome Show or something equally ridiculous and short, you know? But yeah, I watched all 13 episodes.

Airing on NBC, Hannibal definitely has its roots in network television and the standard episodic structure that most shows follow, but it's the way it subverts that structure which I was really keen on. Like Law & Order, CSI, all those other shows, it was a "villain of the week" kind of thing, where each episode had our intrepid team of FBI agents hunting down a different serial killer. But unlike those other shows, the killers were hardly the focus at all. Part of the appeal was definitely seeing the crime scenes, the incredible and gruesome ways the victims were mutilated and placed, but beyond that? The killers hardly mattered. They didn't get into harrowing chase scenes with the killers, deal with crazy hostage situations, nothing like that, half the time catching the bad guy was just...anticlimactic. You don't get that cathartic moment of victory when they snag them. That's not what's important.
What's important to the show is Will Graham and his relationship with Hannibal Lector. The serial killers are just there as foils, seeing how they relate to Will and Hannibal. And, well, even if you made a totem pole of mutilated bodies, sorry, you're STILL not as fucking horrible as Hannibal is. If Mad Mikkelsen had facial hair, he'd be twirling and stroking it every second while trying not to let out a Dick Dastardly laugh. Dude's just an incredible villain. Will's downward slide into insanity, Hannibal's manipulations, those are the focus. The drama isn't in catching the guy who cuts his victims backs into wings and poses them as angels, the drama is in watching Hannibal and Will sitting and talking. I love that.

So again, episodic nature, but the episodic stuff is completely secondary to what's developing over the course of the entire season, which is Hannibal getting inside Will's head, pushing him further and further into darkness. The last two or three episodes cast off the episodic stuff in favor of pushing Will over the edge and tying everything up. The finale was kinda sloppy and disappointing, but still, it was a great show to power through.

And then we have the Japanese TV show Super Robot Red Baron, from the 1970's. Yes, I'm about to compare Hannibal to a show that's entirely about robots punching each other. Feel free to stop reading at any point.
I got Super Robot Red Baron on DVD just before going to HeroesCon, and started watching it around the same time I started watching Hannibal. The entire series is 39 episodes long, and I'm not even 10 episodes in because, well, I was also watching Hannibal, and um, watching more than two episodes of Red Baron at a time would probably leave me catatonic.

The first few episodes of this show are INCREDIBLE. Okay, it's given that this is a tokusatsu (special effects) show, all about giant robots fighting, aimed at kids, but there's still a story there, and the way it handles that story is insane. Character development? There really isn't any. In Hannibal, you're watching Will slowly lose his damn mind, episode by episode, dramatic tension building until everything snaps in the finale. In Red Baron, the main protagonist's brother, the scientist who built Red Baron, is killed just a few minutes into the SECOND FUCKING EPISODE.

And I MISSED it. It happened so fast. I turned my head to look at a text message or something, and when I turned back, shit was exploding and robots were fighting, and it didn't even occur to me until the end of the episode that anything had happened to the brother. This show is so dedicated to putting giant robots onscreen punching each other that it speeds through plot relentlessly. I mean, dude's brother was strapped to a fucking crucifix with a bomb tied to his neck, which just went off. That's a hell of a way to watch a family member die, especially since they briefly mentioned in the first episode how their parents and ANOTHER brother went missing after a car accident! Ken, our hero, doesn't have time to mourn, he's gotta pilot Red Baron and BARON PUNCH the fuck out of the Iron Alliance!
 

Then the villains make an android double of the dead brother and send him out to fuck with Ken. This happens in THE VERY NEXT EPISODE. There is no time given over to Ken coming to grips with his brother's death, with his new responsibility of piloting a giant robot or any of that. Any other TV show would have waited until mid-season or something before pulling a move like that, but the writers of Super Robot Red Baron give no fucks, nor do the villains that they write.

In any other kind of show, that would be terrible writing, but for some reason, with this show, I can't help but actually ADMIRE it for being so dedicated. They waste no time blasting through dramatic developments and plot twists to get to shit exploding. A single 20-minute episode feels like its half its length.

See, there are plenty of examples of storytelling where a plot development or dramatic twist is rushed through, and it feels sloppy and wrong, or shoehorned in because it doesn't fit in with the rest of the story, but Super Robot Red Baron does it so goddamn consistently that I can't help but be in awe of it. It's not like Power Rangers, Ultraman, or your standard Godzilla movie, where you're sitting through bad jokes and boring crap before you get to the robots and monsters fighting. This show just cuts to the chase and gives you more action than you know what to do with. You have no choice but to roll with shit as it happens, and I love it for that.

An example of abandoning the episodic structure almost completely would be the new season of Arrested Development on Netflix, the episodes of which you could technically watch in whatever order you wanted if you so choose, due to its labyrinthian style of jumping through time from character to character. Then there's the Wire and Mad Men, which are less like TV shows and more like novels in the way the story unfolds in each. What I love about the Wire is that it's one or two related cases developing over an entire season in a more realistic fashion, completely bucking the standard cop show routine where each episode is a different case.

So what does any of this have to do with my new graphic novel that I'm slowly plotting? I have no idea right now. The storytelling in Other Sleep is so straightforward because I just sat down and wrote it beginning to end, picking out dramatic moments to end each chapter on and then working with the page count from there. I want a more solid structure for this next graphic novel, and I feel like some sort of episodic structure would work really well for it. For years before I started Other Sleep, I was constantly tinkering with a comic that would've been structured like an old-school videogame, but that's a subject for an entirely different blog entry, yep.

Anyways, I've rambled enough now. Go watch Hannibal. And Super Robot Red Baron! BOTH.

[Brett]

Burst Reach 3 now available!

Rising up from self-imposed exile to let you all know that I put a PDF of Burst Reach 3 up on Gumroad for a mere dollar!

Go check it out: https://gumroad.com/l/oLcJ

And, you know, if you want a physical copy? Email me. It's 3 bucks, plus shipping, and I'll sign it and throw in a free sketch or button with it!

If you want a quick preview of the contents of the comic, here's a Tumblr post I did on it.

Thanks, and let me know what you think of it!

[Brett]

HeroesCon 2013

I spent this past weekend at HeroesCon, neck-deep in nothing but comics culture and nerdery. We got up at 3:45am Friday morning to drop my girlfriend’s mother off at the airport before we drove the three and a half hours to Charlotte, so I spent all three days of the con sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, much like everyone else there, it seemed. This is basically how I am now that I‘m back in the real world:
Last year was the first time I’d ever been, wandering aimlessly and trying to put copies of the first issue of Burst Reach into the hands of artists and writers I admired. This year, however, I shared a table with my friend, comics mentor, and convention veteran sketch monster, Jeremy Massie. This is basically my third con appearance, and, like I said in my previous blog post (I think??), I had no idea what to expect at all.
The truth is? I think I did better in one day at ETSUcon back in April than I did in all three days at Heroes. Everyone was saying that Saturday would be massive, that I’d be slammed with sketch requests and people buying things from me, but it turns out actually that I sold more books and drew more sketches on Sunday alone. I barely had anybody Friday and Saturday. This, ah, well, um, led to a bit of an existential crisis Saturday evening. I had packed so much, unrealistically thinking that Burst Reach 3 and Other Sleep would sell really well. I DID manage to get rid of all of my leftover copies of the first two issues of Burst Reach, which was a great relief, but still, I could feel despair closing in as I sat at my table watching hundreds of people walk by without so much as a glance in my direction or worse, standing in front of my table in order to get a look at the insanely cool collage pieces at the table next to me while awkwardly pretending I wasn‘t sitting there.

After some talking about it, I understand completely now. HeroesCon is just HUGE. It is packed with hundreds of artists and vendors, some who are new to things, others who are con veterans, heavy-hitting Marvel powerhouses like Paolo Rivera and first-timers like myself, all of whom are scrambling and struggling for the attention and money of con-goers. Why would you want a copy of Other Sleep from me when Sean Murphy is just about 20 feet away with Punk Rock Jesus and some killer prints at his table? So it makes sense that I did better at smaller cons with fewer artists. I mean, come on, I was at the same convention as Jim Steranko and Eric Powell, who was I to think that I’d do well in their presence?

It wasn’t all existential pain and self-doubt, of course. On the first day I got a personal inking lesson from Paul Maybury, who is a great artist and great person to chat with. I got to watch my girlfriend who’d never been to such a massive con run around, meeting up with old friends and making new ones while formulating a plot to leave me for Matt Fraction and Ben Templesmith. She had a blast all three days, and it made me extremely happy to have been able to bring her along with me and watch her having so much fun. And some good friends of ours came down on Sunday and we ate at Pinky’s Grill with them, which was fantastic.

I did some pretty fun sketches for people, too.
And saw some fantastic costumes.
And, despite not making much money at all, I got a TON of stuff.
(not shown: two shirts, a badass Ultraman poster, and a few other comics and stuff)

And on top of all that, here are some other highlights:
-After two days of searching for each others tables, I finally met up with Alejandro Bruzzese. Check his work out, it’s killer stuff.
-After seeing Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick together, my girlfriend claims that they’re exactly like she and I. Her words echoed in the back of my head when I got my copy of Hawkeye #1 signed by Fraction and felt like I was having a conversation with myself. That said, she still wanted to kidnap him.
-I saw Nate Bellegarde’s original pages for Nowhere Men and swooned.
-Did I mention Pinky’s Grill? That place is amazing. I like fried pickles now, how did that happen?
-I got to watch Massie draw this strange sketch request of Burt Reynolds playing cards with a lion:
-Supermag by Jim Rugg is a thing of wonder. And when I gave him a copy of Burst Reach 3, he complimented the look of Stranger Rains!
-The Out of Step Arts table may be my favorite. I got a great Paul Maybury shirt last year, and this year got a Toby Cypress shirt and a couple of Liz Suburbia’s minicomics. He’ll be at Rob-Con next month, too, so be sure to stop by!
-There was a Republican convention going on at the same time, and the juxtaposition of cosplayers and nerds with old white men in suits made for some fun people-watching.

…And I think that’s about it. I’m going to disappear for a while to work on chapter 7 of Other Sleep, and will resurface sometime in July as Rob-Con approaches!

[Brett]

Calm like a bomb

AT LAST, Burst Reach 3 is COMPLETED. Well, for the most part. I mean, I have to have the thing printed, and then I have to fold and staple all those copies myself, BUT STILL. I've spent these last couple of weeks in Antisocial Hermit Artist Mode, working to finish off Stranger Rains, coming up with and executing a one-page comic to fit into the book, then designing and laying out the whole thing and printing and pasting together the dummy copy. It's been grueling, time-consuming work, but it feels good to look at the (nearly) finished product. Here's the cover:
That may not quite be the shade of pink the final book will be, I'm going somewhere else to get it done and I...don't...actually know what their color selection is for paper. I try not to let things like that deter me.

Here's the inside cover, the table of contents:
...err, well, actually, I changed that annoyingly long sentence at the bottom to simply "SELF PUBLISH OR DIE," which I know I stole from somewhere, but I cannot remember where.

I'm happy to have gotten all this done a couple of weeks before Heroes Con in Charlotte, which is June 7-9. The girlfriend and I are heading down together, and I'm sharing a table with hero and savior Jeremy Massie. We'll be at table AA-41! I'm excited, and a little scared. I have a little experience under my belt now, and while last year's Rob-Con and last month's ETSUcon both got a good crowd, over a thousand people each, that's still NOTHING compared to the big huge three-day event that is Heroes. We're in the back, against the wall, so on the outskirts of Artist's Alley, but not in a corner or anything, so while we won't get the same kind of traffic the big artists do, it should still be bustling.

I have a second order of copies of Other Sleep that should come in this Tuesday, I'll get a LOT of copies of Burst Reach 3 printed up (I want to give some to a few choice artists I admire), gotta print more posters, and probably get more paper prepared for sketches and such. I have no earthly idea how busy I'll be, but by god I'll be prepared. I hope. There's no predicting, that's something I've realized in the few things I've attended. While Free Comic Book Day this year was smaller, I still did WAY better than I did at Rob-Con last year despite it's larger attendance, partially because I had a lot more work to show, maybe? 

So. Two weeks. I can't wait. It's gonna be crazy. YOU SHOULD GO.

[Brett]

A big bag of many things and stuff

So it’s been a while since I’ve done something like this, and I’ve been wanting to flex my writing chops a bit in this manner for a while now. Here we have, in no real particular order, a bunch of thoughts and feelings on a bunch of things I’ve been reading, watching, and playing lately.

BioShock Infinite: Damn good game with a crazy ending that really got people talking, which is more than most videogames even strive for these days. After beating it, I became increasingly disappointed in several of the choices made in the story, especially the way it shifts away from Columbia and the crazy racism and religious beliefs and started focusing more on Elizabeth and Booker. I was much more interested in the game’s social commentary than in the quantum mechanics stuff, and I’m hoping some of the upcoming DLC will shift the focus back on those aspects. That ending is a really good visualization of…of…multiple universes and such, though, and I like a game that doesn’t hold your hand and expects you to have at least a passing familiarity with early 20th century American history in order to kind of grasp what’s going on.

The Hunger Games: On a whim, I tried watching the movie on Netflix. I made it maybe 20-30 minutes in before giving up. It’s atrociously shot, more like a Shinya Tsukamoto film without the drill penises and screaming. Seriously, just the worst camerawork I’ve seen in some time. Unwatchable. I’ve started reading the book, and noticed that just from what little I watched, the movie also expects you to have already read it, which is a terrible idea. The book itself? I’m not far enough into it to have a decent opinion on it, but I am enjoying it somewhat. I’m not seeing how it caught on and became so enormously popular, but it’s not bad at all.

Kingdom Come, by JG Ballard: Ballard’s final novel before he passed away, about a dome-enclosed supermall in England and the crazed culture that builds around it. Like Columbia in BioShock Infinite, it’s an atrociously racist society, with consumerism as the primary religion. It starts off as a murder mystery, the novel’s protagonist looking for the man who shot and killed his father, and spirals into something larger and scarier from there. Not exactly what I was expecting, but this was my first time reading any of Ballard’s work outside of a few of his short sci fi stories.

Copra: Michel Fiffe’s self-published monthly action comic pays tribute to superhero comics of the 70’s and 80’s with explicit references to Dr. Strange and Suicide Squad, while simultaneously putting to shame every single book Marvel and DC are putting out today. The sixth issue dropped this month, concluding the first storyline, and it is the best monthly comic I’m reading right now. Fiffe is a beast, and every issue has at least a good two or three incredibly inventive sequences. Drop whatever crappy cape comic you’re reading right now and go pick this up. The first three issues are collected in the Copra Compendium, with the second collection coming soon.

Hawkeye: Having said that up there, Hawkeye is pretty good too, largely due to the crazy tricks David Aja has been pulling in the artwork. It may not deserve half the Eisner nominations it got, but it is quite enjoyable and a breath of fresh air compared to all the other crap that the Big Two print.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon: I have never played a Far Cry game before. I don’t really know what they’re about or anything like that. A friend convinced me to play this, however, by getting me to listen to the insanely good synthesizer soundtrack and watching a couple videos of the game in action. The game is every 80’s action/sci-fi movie cliché rolled into one, taking place in the dystopic future of 2007. The dialogue is hilarious, and the game’s hints during loading times are great, as are the tutorials. I’m usually not incredibly fond of shooters, but I will enjoy anything that’s drenched in neon with a killer synth score.

Adventure Time and the Regular Show: Fucking hilarious, wonderful cartoons. How have I never watched these before? They’re just so great. And weird. Good weird. I shouldn’t have to explain them to you.

Ren & Stimpy: Man, that first season holds up well. Weird, creepy, hilarious, unsettling, and a lot smarter than I remember it being.

Iron Man 3: Much better than I was expecting. Plot is full of holes, the villains’ motivations are…fuzzy, to say the least, and the final showdown at the end almost put me to sleep, but there are some really genius bits in there. I wish the movie had dialed back on the humor a little and focused a bit more on Tony’s PSTD/anxiety attacks. That could’ve developed into something really interesting, but in a movie with a ton of other stuff going on, it just becomes almost pointless as it gets buried in fanservice. I loved the handling of the Mandarin, and that entire Miami sequence in general is great. I heard some people this past weekend at the comic shop complaining, about how Tony is barely in the suit throughout the movie? I was okay with that. I liked that more, that it was trying to show Tony as more than just some handsome smart guy who says funny things. Still, WAYYYYY better than the Dark Knight Rises, that movie was just crap…

Upstream Color: The movie I have been waiting to see since it was first announced. It’s my movie of the year so far, and I kind of doubt anything else will top it. Shane Carruth’s Primer is one of my favorite films and I never imagined he would be able to top it, but he has. The soundtrack is wonderful, feeling like you’re in an aquarium, and is a big part of the movie’s atmosphere. It moves like a dream, showing more than telling, making you pay attention and search for clues, piecing together what’s happening as it happens. I need to watch it again, as I still don’t completely grasp it all, and I’d like to write something more on it, but I just haven’t chewed on it enough yet to come up with anything worth reading, especially regarding the (forced?) romance between the two main characters and how it appears to be a literal representation of how it feels to fall in love. Still, it’s sublime, you can pause it at any moment, frame it, and hang it up in a gallery, it’s that beautiful. The sound design is incredible. In a perfect world, we’d have more beautiful, intriguing movies like this to think and talk about. I can’t wait to see what Carruth does next.

Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain: My girlfriend got me into Bourdain’s No Reservations shortly after we met. I love that man, and this is the book that made him famous. I’m only a little more than halfway through it, I confess, but it’s wonderful, and reading it before bed is a bad idea because it always makes me hungry. Bourdain writes in a way that is intoxicating and addicting to read, and it’s his own personal account of his experiences hopping from one restaurant to the next, an ugly but exciting look at what goes on behind the scenes in the industry. I’ve got another book or two of his waiting to be read, and I hope they’re just as good.

Change: This 4-issue miniseries written by Ales Kot, illustrated by Morgan Jeske, colored by Sloane Leong, and lettered by Ed Brisson is incredible. Dense, too. I need to reread it to really wrap my head around it, especially since I kind of read the issues out of order on my first go, but it’s unlike anything else in comic shops right now. It’s strange and dense, vibrant and alive, and I love it. Like with Upstream Color, I want to see more like this.

There are so many more things I’d love to write and talk about, but not enough time and space here, and I’m kicking myself for just realizing that I’d left out the music I’ve been listening to lately as well: Colleen Green’s Sock it to Me, the Shirks, Electric Ills. I’d like to talk more in-depth about Power Glove’s soundtrack to Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Slime Girls, the new song Anamanaguchi dropped the other day from their upcoming new album, and more. But alas, I cannot.

So. What have YOU been reading, watching, playing, listening to? What’s been on your mind lately?

[Brett]

ETSUCON REPORT

...I hope I come up with a better title for this thing by the time I'm finished writing.

Yesterday was ETSUcon! Tomorrow is my 25th birthday! COINCIDENCE? Well yeah, actually it is.

It was quite an experience, being only the second real con I've ever done, but I surprisingly did pretty freaking well. Better than I'd expected to. Turns out people LOVE posters of giant skull robots and kaiju! And I managed to do quite a few mutant portraits for people, too!

Cosplayers roamed the ETSU Culp Center in droves, more than anyone could possibly try to count, but this Splicer lady was my favorite:
There was also a dude dressed as Ryan Gosling's nameless character from Drive? He was awesome and hung around my table quite a bit, but I forgot to photograph him because we kept talking about how cool the new Gosling/Nicolas Winding Refn flick Only God Forgives looks. Seriously, watch that trailer! Doesn't that just look AMAZING?!

It was also a weird experience to have groups of cosplayers get their pictures taken right in front of my table...when there were two empty tables right next to me. I didn't know how to react to that, just a bunch of costumed butts in front of me.

Nor did I know how to react to people who asked me if my work was based on or referencing anything, who would then just lose interest and walk away when I told them that it wasn't. It's like...there are a number of artists on the internet who complain about how someone else's My Little Pony/Deadpool mashup gets more attention than their own, original work? Which is a lame truth, but not something I've ever paid much attention to. This was the real world equivalent to that "if I don't recognize it, I don't care" mentality. Someone asked if my Distinguished Gentlemen collection (which was being given out for free) had any "meta references" in it, and when I told him no, he immediately put it down, and when I tried telling him about Other Sleep he just remarked that the only webcomics he likes are badly drawn MS Paint ones...which...I mean, if that's what you dig, then cool, more power to you, but that was just weird.

Still, though. I saw some friends I hadn't seen in a long time, met some cool new folks (it seems appropriate that, as much time as he spent at my table, I never learned Drive dude's name), and I got video interviewed by stand-up comedian friend Hunter Roberts for a site he writes for called Gonzo Geek! Then I went and got Mexican food with a couple friends I don't get to see too often, so yeah, good times all around!

And hey, this next Saturday, May 4th is Free Comic Book Day! I'll be on 6th Street outside of Mountain Empire Comics doing it all over again. I don't think there will be as many Homestuck cosplayers this time around, though. Or Old Gregg.

Aw crap, I never came up with a better title for this entry. OH WELL.

[Brett]

Move like a shark

HELLO INTERNET. IT’S TIME FOR BRETT TO TALK ABOUT FREAKING OUT OVER ART THINGS AGAIN.
I’ve been insanely busy. This Saturday is ETSUCon, Johnson City’s premiere (I think?) comic/anime convention thing at, if you haven‘t put it together from the name yet, ETSU. I’ve got a table in the artist’s alley and as of yesterday I have everything together for the thing.
I’ll be selling FOUR different posters (two from Other Sleep covers, two variations of show posters), three different buttons, three different postcards of my October Game work, my remaining copies of Burst Reach 2 (the first one is sold out and I have no plans of reprinting it), a second printing of the first chapter of Other Sleep, I will be doing sketches, and I will be just GIVING AWAY my remaining copies of the Distinguished Gentlemen & Other Exciting Tales!
Oh, and after ETSUCon? Free Comic Book Day is NEXT Saturday, May the 4th (be with you har har har ugh) and I’ll be part of a big shindig going on downtown at Mountain Empire Comics. They’re closing off 6th Street to traffic and allowing anybody with anything nerdy to sell to come set up a table. I’ll be one of multiple visiting artists, including my main man Jeremy Massie, Matt Smith, and the one and only Dionysis. Here’s a link to the Facebook event for the thing. OH. Prices for everything at these two appearances, here:
Simultaneously, I’ve also been working on Burst Reach 3. You’ve seen the first page of the comic about a dream about an owl already, here are the first pages to two other comics that will be in it. The first is a comic about a girl who grows a second head, entitled HEADACHE:
And the second is a 10-page comic drawn ENTIRELY IN PENCIL called STRANGER RAINS, which is based on my painting series, the Same Mistake, and takes place right after the events depicted in those paintings:
…So you can imagine how busy I’ve been these past few weeks, scrambling to get things together. I was worried the copies of Other Sleep wouldn’t come in on time, the postcards were a last-minute idea suggested by a friend (got those in the mail yesterday), and I’ve been buying and gathering tools left and right, printing and cutting business cards, tweaking everything, you get the picture. Oh, and I’ve also begun painting a nursery for a soon-to-be-born nephew, but I’m doing that more to RELAX than anything else.

With ETSUCon just days away, my initial plan was to just hang loose, kick back, and rest until this weekend. Then my brain started screaming “NO BRETT YOU NEED TO PRACTICE DRAWING EVERYTHING WHAT IF SOMEONE ASKS YOU TO DRAW CAPTAIN AMERICA OR JAKE THE DOG OR A WASHING MACHINE.” My arm hates me right now. A lot.
I had this bad dream last night where I made it to the con with all my stuff, but had to punch in a bunch of info in this old computer like the kind you used to see at the DMV and things malfunctioned and messed up and I couldn’t get my table, or even into the con at all. And then I couldn’t find a drink. I don’t have nightmares, I just have dreams where horrible and ludicrous inconveniences happen. Also? Despite what you may think, Super Mario 64 is NOT a good game to play when stressed out and trying to unwind, it just leads to a lot of shouting and grumpiness.

I’ll be fine. I know I’ll be fine. I’m sure it will all go well. It’s just my brain being stupid but geez, I wish it’d lay off already. So there we go, come to ETSUCon and the FCBD celebration and buy stuff from me, and if I’m looking disheveled and weepy, maybe give me a hug or something and tell me it’ll all be okay? Yeah. And then I’ll draw Deathlok for you.

[Brett]

These sour times

So last week was Beat About's one year anniversary show. I got asked to do a poster for it by Sir Jesse Mutter of Ungodly Hour Aftermath. I'd been itching to revisit the Metal Zombies of Mars, so I busted this out for them:
In case you haven't seen it or had forgotten, here's the original appearance of the Metal Zombies, for an illustration assignment where we had to do a fake pulp magazine cover:
Ahhhhh, memories.

Next Saturday is the final punk show at the Bristol Grind House, and I did a poster for it as well, using an old photobooth pic I found on the side of the road at work:
I've been listening to the Shirks A LOT this week. I'm so excited. I hate that the Grind House is closing, but the good news is that Sterlin is still bringing punk bands to our sleepy little town of Bristol, with Colleen Green coming to Machiavelli's on the 17th.

I plan on writing a longer, more thoughtful thing about these shows, the Grind House, and Sterlin's efforts. Probably next week or something?

In other local news, Burst Reach, Burst Reach 2, and the Distinguished Gentlemen comics are all available now at the Purple Loon downtown! Once I get the first chapter of Other Sleep reprinted, I believe it will be sold there as well! Exciting, yes? If you haven't gotten a copy of either of the Burst Reaches or the Distinguished Gents, better hurry and head over there or talk to me, because I don't have too many left, and I have no plans on reprinting them again. I MIGHT do a pay-what-you-want pdf kind of thing, if only so that I can read them myself on my new Kindle Fire. We'll see.

Other stuff I've been into:
I've been sketching pictures of some friends of mine as Embrace Infection style mutants. Zombie portraits are kind of popular at conventions and things these days, so this my alternative take on that. I'm hoping it's neat enough that people will want to give me money to turn them into something out of a David Cronenberg movie.

If all goes well, I'm doing THREE conventions this year: ETSUcon (which is a new anime convention), Heroes Con, and of course, Bristol's own Rob-Con. On top of that, Rob is putting together something big for Free Comic Book Day. The street that his shop is on is going to be closed off to traffic, with dealers and artists outside selling our wares. 

Oh, ALSO!
I HAVE BUTTONS!! And they're awesome! All the credit goes to Haley and Steve at Self Destruct Buttons, they did an amazing job. I look forward to selling these babies...
Finally, I just finished up a 4-page silent comic for an upcoming Pizza Flag zine. No clue when it's coming out, but I'll of course let you know when it drops. I also did a...poem/narrative/comic/photodistortion thing for a Pizza Flag/William Birdcock zine that I think is dropping some time in April. Can't wait to post that. The owl comic will also be in Burst Reach 3, which I'll be releasing...um...sometime this summer. I'm still working on it, but trust me, it's gonna be great. I feel like Burst Reach 2 was a little bit of a misfire, not quite as frantic and entertaining as the first one, so I'm trying to make up for that.

That's all for now. Lots of stuff going on, considering we're only now just a quarter of the way through the year. It's just going to get better, hopefully. Stick around!

[Brett]

Things keep happening

The new chapter of Other Sleep is online! GO READ IT. Here's one of my favorite pages in a chapter full of favorite pages:
 Angry Ninel is angry.

Now that the comic is over 100 pages in length, I'm trying to think of ways to promote the comic and get more readers. One idea I'm contemplating is a contest/drawing for the Facebook page if I can get so many likes. Acquiring new readers is difficult. I've emailed some blogs and some creators that I'm fond of, but that doesn't really do much, it seems? I have Twitter, Tumblr, deviantART, other stuff, but I don't have very many followers on any of those networks. Word of mouth is a difficult thing when most people aren't too keen about sharing other people's work or whatever. If only I knew a way to go viral or something. Arg.

Err, anyways, that little bit of frustration aside, I've done a couple other things here on the site. First off, my untitled silent sci-fi western snowstorm comic now has its own page on here. Secondly, I put one of the short comics printed in Burst Reach 2, Devil Stomper Grice, on here too, and removed Ezra Neuro and Drzaem, because they're old. I'm keeping both Cyberpunk Blues comics up for now, but I'm contemplating dropping the ETSU strips...

I have a couple of wonderful friends who make buttons under the name Self Destruct Buttons, and I plan on getting some designs made to give out and sell! I'm doing at least two Other Sleep designs and maybe one or two other designs. I'm excited about that.

I'm doing possibly three conventions this year, and our local shop is having a huge outdoor event for Free Comic Book Day, so along with the buttons I'm trying to figure out what else to do. I won't be reprinting either of the Burst Reach books, and I think I'm going to just give away my leftover copies of the Distinguished Gentlemen collection since it didn't sell too well in the first place. A new Burst Reach is being plotted out, I'm gonna definitely reprint the first chapter of Other Sleep, and I may do another minicomic too...And prints! I want to do prints, but that's going to require more research first.

I'll keep you updating as these things happen, of course. As big as last year was, 2013 is going to be even bigger, and that excites and terrifies me all at once. It's an amazing feeling.

[Brett]