"I’m an artist, I do comic strips, and my main preoccupation is doing drawings."
Two days ago, at the age of 73, Jean "Moebius" Giraud died. The world is poorer, dimmer for it. It's a devastating loss.
Even if you're not aware of the man and his work, you've at least felt his influence in comics, movies, and videogames. Moebius single-handedly redefined science fiction art, and inspired many artists and creators, including, but not limited to, Ridley Scott, Katsuhiro Otomo, Hayao Miyazaki, Brandon Graham, Paul Pope, Geof Darrow, Mike Mignola, Frank Miller, and Jim Lee.
The man was a giant, a legend, and it's staggering to think about the massive body of work he left behind. What's even more staggering is that, even in his old age, Moebius could still draw better than most artists half his age, and was producing still greater work. Unlike a lot of artists and creators, the talent of Moebius never wavered. He was one of the greatest living artists, and his work will continue to inspire others for generations to come.
The internet is flooded with obituaries and tributes to the man, most of which are much more eloquently written than what I'm trying to type out here. I spent all day Saturday reading them, watching videos of him drawing, documentaries on his work, and flipping through my collection of his comics. I was incredibly lucky last summer to find all six volumes of his work that Epic Comics had published back in the late 80's and did not hesitate to buy them all at once, and I flipped through them all yesterday. I found my copy of the Fifth Element on DVD because I knew he was interviewed in one of the special features. I watched Blade Runner with Ridley Scott's commentary because I knew how big of an influence his comic the Long Tomorrow played on the look of that film. I just drank in as much as I could about him and his art.
And I cried. I've never cried over someone's death before, but my respect and admiration for Moebius is just so great, and I can't think of a single artist involved in sci fi or comics who wouldn't say the same.
You've seen this little tribute I did before, probably, but it's worth posting again:
And here's an attempt I made in December at copying a panel from his comic Marie Dakar, published in Dark Horse Presents:
Like I said, we've lost a giant. The world will not be the same without him. My mind is still reeling from it.
Thanks for the amazing art, the great comics, the inspiration, for everything. Godspeed, Jean.
"At one point I truly believed that I could be a prophet, a saint, whose medium was drawing. But no, I’ve become…well, now I’m a 67-year-old man. And I’ll die in some truly banal manner, the same way I live. But I still draw, I put all of my energy into my drawings, to make them vibrate. I would like people to say, “oh, he’s really bizarre, but he’s there all the same.” That’s all."
The universe really did not want me to see Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Plans to see it with friends fell apart left and right for various reasons. Things nearly fell apart again on Saturday, but I overcame the atrocious weather, a car that may be on its last legs, a killer headache, and sore throat brought on by an encroaching sinus infection, and finally got to see the number one movie I was excited for this year!
AND IT WAS FUCKING METAL.
No, seriously. I haven’t had so much fun in a theater in a long time. I can’t get over how awesome it was. Neveldine and Taylor bring their skull-busting cinematic style that they established with Crank and Nicolas Cage comes along for the ride in one of my favorite performances ever.
I’ll admit to knowing next to nothing about the comics and I never saw the first movie either. For this one, they kind of seem to lean on the Bruce Banner/Hulk dichotomy, with Johnny Blaze living in an abandoned building, away from society, struggling to keep at bay the demon that’s possessed him, that turns him into our titular character. “Am I going to regret this? Bringing you here with me?” “…Yeah, probably.” As a result, he kind of sucks at communicating with other people (hilariously), is okay with stealing painkillers from a hospital, and is constantly two steps away from catching fire and sucking out souls left and right. This leads to some of the greatest Nicolas Cage freakouts EVER, with Death From Above 1979 playing in the background during one fantastic scene.
And when he does inevitably lose his shit and transform? Things get surprisingly bizarre. You’ve probably seen interviews with Cage where he talks about his methods for playing the Rider, the swaying like a cobra, the makeup and contacts, and you probably thought, “man, he’s weird,” but IT WORKS. When the Rider is on screen, it’s surreal. He is not human. He’s unpredictable. He’s not a superhero at all, more like some beast from a horror movie. It’s like his mere presence bends the rules of reality around him, like a grisly hallucination. No one really knows how to react when he shows up and starts screaming in their faces, and it’s just gnarly.
I had this weird worry that somehow this movie would neuter Neveldine/Taylor through studio interference or something, like how they stepped down from directing Jonah Hex because the studio kept getting in the way and screwing with their screenplay. I was also worried that, being PG-13, the movie would be too, er, “safe” or something. I’m happy to say that this is not true, that their balls are on display just as much as in the Crank movies and Gamer. The Rider pisses fire, vomits bullets, incinerates people with his chains and the big villain, Blackheart, decomposes anything and everything he lays his hands on, and that includes a rather large number of people. The camera work is fantastic, and setting the movie in Turkey leads to some amazing visuals. There are also a few fantastic animated segments providing back story for characters that I wish more comic books looked like. I never pulled my eyes from the screen at any point.
So yeah, 2012 is off to a good start. The only other films I really want to see this year are Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie and Prometheus, and I kind of doubt either of those two will be as batshit crazy and awesome as Ghost Rider was. Man, now I want to go watch it again…
A few days ago I finally finished up Cyberpunk Blues 2: Your Fan Club Sucks, and threw it up on the site. You can read the whole thing HERE.
I jumped back and forth when working on this. While drawing it, there'd be one minute where I loved it and another where I hated it. I tried putting some Paul Pope influences into it, as well as Kirby and Gabriel Ba, who were the big influences in the first comic. I also came to a realization that there's a bit more Jaime Hernandez to it though, which isn't a bad thing at all.
The original script was 12 pages, the Little Shockers had FIVE members, and there was just a lot of fat that had to be trimmed off to make it work. It still feels a bit urgent, but that's okay.
The idea came about pretty easily. I've been reading a lot about absurd and obsessive fanbases doing crazy shit, nothing new there, but I started thinking about like, a hit squad. Like, what if, say, someone did something that scandalized um, Nicki Minaj? She's pretty dang popular right now, right? Anyways, what if that happened, someone practically ruins her reputation, say, uh, the guy from some lousy band, I dunno, and so her fans go after him?
Casey came about...well, I once saw this video of a topless Japanese girl with a surgical mask and tape over her nipples dancing BADLY to some anime theme song or something. Oh, wait, here it is. Yeah, no, I don't know why it fascinated me so much, aside from being stupidly absurd and well, going back to the theme of crazy things devoted fans will do...
...Man, that's the first time I've seen that video in months. Her dancing is just...so bad...
I'm a bit sad that Gail only shows up in two panels this go around, but in keeping with the themes of the first CB story, I had to go reference the leaked nude cellphone pics of Scarlett Johannson. HAD TO.
When I think about it, Cyberpunk Blues isn't very cyberpunk in the traditional sense, is it? Nor is it bluesy. It's more about celebrity musicians screwing with each other. I mean, nude photos and sex tapes are leaked all the time, but I'm a little surprised no one's used it to their advantage in the way Vince did with the first comic. It's bound to happen eventually, right? And when it does, I can be there to obnoxiously shout "I CALLED IT" at everyone.
Well, okay there is that one Rammstein video, but I don't think it counts...
Coloring this was a tough deal, taking three or four separate attempts, but I think I finally got it where I wanted it, and I hope you enjoy it.
Next up? Working on the previously mentioned collection of East Tennessean strips, 90+ pages thumbnailed for the big graphic novel project, and I've got a few more pages to fill for Burst Reach 2. I've got my ideas, it's just a matter now of hammering it into gold, yeah?
That's all. Keep being awesome, kids.
I'm gonna follow up on something I said in that last entry, regarding Marvel, DC, and creator-owned comics.
There's an inherent conundrum here: I'm angry at both companies, yes, so you'd think the natural thing to do would be to stop buying their comics altogether and to encourage others to do so. But it's not quite like that.
Look, most of DC's stuff is so bland and, well, corporate, feeling way too much like their books were put together on an assembly line (because they were) and pumped out like McDonalds hamburgers or something. But at the same time, they have Alberto Ponticelli drawing the crap out of Frankenstein, Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have made the Flash into one of the greatest all-ages superhero comics ever, and OMAC is like an experiment gone violently wrong that somehow escaped the basement and got to run free for 8 months before DC finally got their shit together and put it down. Which is a shame, because I love OMAC. I will continue buying those books until OMAC is canceled and they inevitably play musical chairs for the creators on the other titles.
(that's one thing that always annoys me: Marvel and DC juggling artists and writers around so much that getting a nice team doing a long, solid run on one title is almost impossible these days)
Daredevil is hands down the best book Marvel is putting out at the moment, and anything that Jerome Opeña draws can gladly take my money.
What I'm saying is, yes, I hate the companies, but they've got some great, talented people working for them, and I like those guys and I don't want to see them lose their jobs.
So here's what you do: Buy the good stuff, don't buy the crap. I don't care if you've been reading X-Men religiously for years, if it's really sucking, STOP BUYING IT. I wasn't saying to stop buying anything Marvel and DC related altogether, I'm just saying be more selective and go for the quality stuff.
Nevertheless, you should still buy way more creator-owned comics than anything the big two are shilling. Here, let me help you with a nice long list of comics and graphic novels that you need to buy:
Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker
BPRD (hell, ANYTHING involving Mike Mignola)
King City (the collection is out next month, and this is my single favorite title in the list. BUY IT)
The Walking Dead
The Strange Talent of Luther Strode
Parker: The Hunter & Parker: The Outfit
Sharknife ZZ (out next month!)
Locke & Key
Old City Blues
Anything by guys like Paul Pope, Mike Allred, Warren Ellis, and well, any of the creators involved in the above titles.
I'm sure there are a shit ton more than this too, that list is just off the top of my head.
The biggest company represented in this list is by far Image, whose publisher Eric Stephenson seems to be the only man displaying intelligence when it comes to publishing comics, but don't count out Dark Horse, IDW, Oni Press, Archaia, and others. Hell, Vertigo and Icon are respectively owned by DC and Marvel, and they put out creator-owned titles. If Marvel fails, then Icon fails, which means no more Casanova, which is the single best science fiction comic being released right now. I don't want to see that happen.
So there you have it. Now go forth, buy awesome comics, support your favorite writers and artists, damn the spice, save the men, and fuck the police.
I originally had a big, 900+ word blog entry written up in regards to Marvel and DC with the whole Before Watchmen and Ghost Rider fiascos that had taken place last week. But it was REALLY too long, rambly, unfocused, and well, other guys have done a better job talking about it than I have.
The bottom line was: Marvel and DC suck, yes, so BUY MORE CREATOR OWNED COMICS. Demand them from your local comic shop! It should be fairly obvious, yeah? SO DO IT.
There's a lot wrong with this frankly draconian industry, and buying more indie comics is a great way to start fixing things. Also, stop buying shitty comics, which is uh, most of what Marvel and DC put out. Seriously, QUIT IT.
NOW. With that out of the way, I can show you guys a couple of new pieces I recently finished. This first one is the result of listening to Ritualz and reading Hellboy: The Crooked Man. Not a bad combination, really:
I think this is the best use of color I've implemented into a piece.
Also, I did a naughty drawing for Valentine's Day:
Also coloring the pages for Cyberpunk Blues 2, and trying to put together collections of my Exciting Tales! and Distinguished Gentlemen strips from last year to print and sell at cons. Looking at e-book stuff too. Waiting for Eye Alive to release so I can put Zimmik up on here in its entirety. Finally, that graphic novel I was working on over a month ago? I had 60+ pages written, and am now working on a second draft that I'm 30 pages into writing and thumbnailing. The plan is to serialize it online like a webcomic, but we'll see. I gotta get the complete story and designs locked in first.
And of course, I'll keep working on other stuff involving pretty ladies. Just gonna keep moving and making work. YEAHHHH.
Hello there kids! It's been a while, yes. Things have been happening. We had to put my 13-year-old dog to sleep, the Radiohead trip to Florida was canceled, I started quoting the narrator from the Beast of Yucca Flats, met a bunch of Koreans, and got a new computer!
Also, I finished drawing Cyberpunk Blues 2: Your Fan Club Sucks. Here's the first page in grayscale. CLICK TO EMBIGGEN.
There are gonna be two versions of the comic. The grayscale version is for when it gets printed in Burst Reach 2 some time in the foreseeable future. I'm also doing a colored version to put here on the site. GET EXCITED.
And here's a new piece of art I did, kind of following along the lines of Embrace Infection:
There's some other stuff I've done that you can see on my deviantART page, like a sketch of Robocop that's rather badly colored.
Also, I have acquired two movies that have quickly become new favorites of mine. The first is Shogun Assassin, the Americanization of two Lone Wolf and Cub films from the 70s:
I feel like I need to see more samurai films after watching and falling in love with this. Anyone got any suggestions?
The other movie is Redline, a racing anime that took SEVEN YEARS to make, all hand-drawn, and it is easily the coolest anime ever made:
Everything about this thing is awesome: character design, animation, the soundtrack, the cars, pacing, EVERYTHING. I had the biggest, stupidest grin on my face the whole time I watched it, and now I want to show it to EVERYONE. I feel like it was made especially for me.
That's all I have for you this evening, I'm afraid. Working on sixty ideas at once. Maintaining productivity. I'll try not to drop off the radar for another insane length of time, but I make no promises.
I LIVE! Heh, sorry, I kind of neglected this site for a while. Sorry. There was a mishap with the domain name due to transferring it from GoDaddy to Namecheap (because FUCK SOPA that's why) and in the realization that Squarespace had done away with the old yearly plan I was originally on, but it's all fixed up and we're back in business.
So, things I've done thus far in the year 2012:
-Photographed a nude model for a bunch of upcoming stuff I'm working on. The idea was to do more work in the vein of Embrace Infection but, eh, I dunno, I'm working on a couple pieces but I can't let go of this "been there, done that" feeling. Still, getting to shoot a cute model also allows me to do stuff like this pinup:
This also allowed me to achieve my dream of shooting a nude model standing on top of this super old TV that's at work. You'll get to see that one later, maybe.
-Started watching LEXX. I'd seen a few bits and pieces here and there when I was very little on the Sci Fi channel, and just remember being very confused, a little frightened, and a little aroused too. I'm still confused, but after years of collecting back issues of Heavy Metal, the series kind of makes sense to me now. It's almost like the creators read a LOT of Alejandro Jodorowsky's sci fi comics and said "hey, let's make a show like this!" It feels so much like Technopriests, a comic Jodorowsky wrote after LEXX, but still.
-Got angry at a random stranger on the internet for the first time in years, over something SOPA-related. My hatred for SOPA and PIPA is rather intense, yes...
-A customer at the storage buildings yesterday told me that he keeps his mother's ashes in his storage unit. Think about that for a while.
-Did the cover for Eye Alive volume 1, the anthology that my Zimmik comic will be printed in:
Har har har.
-Played Battleship for the first time in years too. Fun.
-Started work on the next Cyberpunk Blues story entitled Your Fan Club Sucks. This will go in Burst Reach 2, which I aim to have completed by April. I've set up a list of cons that I want to go to, and I want to get a table at maybe two or three. Talking to a friend about sharing a table at one of them. I may get more copies of Burst Reach 1 printed to give out, along with postcards, maybe some prints, and stuff like that. I barely know what I'm doing, but I'll figure it out and will of course keep everyone posted on it.
-Ordered a new computer. WOO.
-Also ordered tickets to see Radiohead next month in Tampa, Florida. I'm excited, but nervous about this as well. I haven't been on a huge trip like this since I was a kid...
And that's all. Don't stop moving.
And here we are, in the year 2012, waiting for the Mayans to rise from their graves and obliterate civilization as we know it. Or something. I'm not so sure.
Here is my final drawing made in 2011, drawn while watching Top Gear and Louie:
Remember when I said I was considering doing more stuff in the same vein as Embrace Infection? I wasn't kidding. I already have a model lined up to do some shooting next weekend.
I am basically leaping headfirst into 2012 with guns blazing. The first half of 2011 absolutely kicked the crap out of me, I sincerely felt like I was at my lowest point. But I got back up and proceeded to repeatedly throatpunch 2011 into submission before finally setting its head on fire and graduating from ETSU with a BFA in Graphic Design. Whatever obstacles or challenges lie ahead for this new year? I say bring it. I will tear 2012's throat out with my teeth if I have to.
I usually never do resolutions, but I have some for this year: Make more comics. Travel more. Be even more awesome.
On the comics front, I completely finished Zimmik Looks For Love in a Barren Land yesterday. Sterlin says he'll hopefully have everything for the anthology book thing together around February to print and distribute, and is letting me come up with a cover for it. Then of course there's Project Sense, and then I'm also brainstorming on some stuff to submit to publishers. Zimmik, being only 5 pages, is also the perfect beginning for a Burst Reach #2, wouldn't you say?
The plan is also to go to several comic conventions this year. Especially Heroes Con, which I really wanted to visit last year and missed out on. I was also told my the wise man Massie that I would probably do well with my work at anime cons, so I may look into a few of those too. And if I know anyone going to cons that I can't make it too, I want to throw a bunch of work at them to hand out to people at said cons. They can be my representatives, yeah?
The idea behind doing more Embrace Infection type stuff is to keep me on my toes in between comic related things, to strengthen my skills in all areas, and if I churn anything particularly good, I want to try and start selling prints. Possibly through deviantART, maybe Etsy, but if nothing else then on this site. I'm going to have to do a bit of research on that. But not all of that will be digitally done. I've started painting again at work, trying to finish a barn I started painting for my mother over a year ago, and I think I'd like to try my hand at doing some acrylic and watercolors of strange mutated naked people, yeah?
I also need a new computer soon, because if this laptop finally gives up the ghost then I'll be stuck on the side of the road for a while...can't forget that...
So there we go, my plans for this new year. Who knows how much of it will actually pan out. I may not make it to more than one or two conventions, I may only come up with a few things to pitch to publishers and most likely none of it will be accepted, but still, I just have to try. I can't stop moving.
For the time being, the Portishead song "Machine Gun" is my anthem for the new year. I'm honestly not sure why, aside from the fact that it's Portishead, and that discordant beat is absolutely SICK. Also because someone decided to set the music to clips from Tetsuo the Iron Man, which is pretty awesome:
That's it then. Let 2012 know who they're messing with. What are your plans?
(pasted from my Tumblr)
(Stolen from Corey Lewis, comix warrior)
1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Passed works in progress, graduated college, self-published a book and handed it out to people, got comics published regularly in ETSU’s newspaper, and other stuff.
2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I usually never make resolutions but I have one for this year: Be awesome, make more comics.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
I don’t think so.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Somewhat close, my old guitar teacher did.
5. What countries did you visit?
6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Traveling. More friends. More notice of my work.
7. What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The reception for Embrace Infection, and graduation, for obvious reasons.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Same as above.
9. What was your biggest failure?
I regard the majority of the first half of the year as a bit of a failure, despite some things.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I don’t think so, no.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
All six volumes of AKIRA. Or the PS3 and new TV…not sure.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
David, for having the balls to go to Korea for several months.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Old roommate, a close friend, and some other people.
14. Where did most of your money go?
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Self-publishing Burst Reach 1 and getting to do comics for the East Tennessean! And Embrace Infection!
16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
TSOL - Fuck You Tough Guy was my personal anthem.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier. School is over, I burned some bridges, I’m ready to continue moving forward.
ii. thinner or fatter? Neither. My weight has hardly changed in the past few years.
iii. richer or poorer? Richer, yes.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Uh, the stuff I did during the first half of the year when I was bitter and angry and all those other things.
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Spent it playing Skyward Sword and eating.
21. Did you fall in love in 2011?
Yeah, but it didn’t go over all that well.
22. How many one-night stands?
23. What was your favorite TV program?
Top Gear, hands down. Also the IT Crowd, even though it’s not newer.
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I don’t think so? I mean, I guess last year I already hated my old roommate, but that hatred grew exponentially this year.
25. What was the best book you read?
Either the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or John Dies at the End.
26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I have no idea. Non-sucky witch house, and a few random songs that I just got stuck on.
27. What did you want and get?
New TV, PS3, great comics, a senior show, published comics.
28. What did you want and not get?
To travel, I guess? To do more comics.
29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Hanna, followed closely by Troll Hunter and X-Men: First Class.
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Traveled to the Arcade in Asheville with Leif and Sterlin. I turned 23.
31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Corey wrote, “having a solid creative team to enforce my creative goals…” and I agree with that. Getting out of that apartment sooner. A solid relationship, maybe, if we want to get emo here.
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
Same as always: Jeans and a shirt.
33. What kept you sane?
Netflix, the Pixies, my work (even when it felt like it was driving me mad), determination to overcome bullshit, Crank 2: High Voltage, seeing the awesome work that guys like Brandon Graham were putting out.
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Uh, I dunno. Scarlet Johannson?
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
The Occupy movement, this SOPA bullshit, and NDAA.
36. Who did you miss?
Ricky. So long as he’s in Washington I will always miss that bastard.
37. Who was the best new person you met?
…I have no idea. I met David Liebe Hart, that was pretty fuckin’ cool.
38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
Don’t stop moving, don’t give up if you don’t quite win, don’t let the bullshit slow you down, and www.presentcat.com is a great cure for depression.
39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“Hey! Fuck you, tough guy!”
Merry belated Christmas! And a happy new year too, I guess.
Things I'm most excited for in 2012:
Brandon Graham's Multiple Warheads
Corey Lewis's Sharknife 2 and other comics he has up his sleeve
The return of Geof Darrow's Shaolin Cowboy
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie
Brandon Graham writing Prophet
OMAC and Frankenstein crossing over
Drawing a bunch of comic stuff
I have a feeling it's gonna be a big year, full of stuff. And hopefully it won't be quite as weird and awkward as 2011 was.
Best of 2011:
Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE
X-Men: First Class
Shadows of the Damned
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Batman: Arkham City
Getting out of that apartment in Johnson City
Burst Reach #1, Exciting Tales! of a Strange University, and the Distinguished Gentlemen
Drive Angry 3D
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo soundtrack
Casanova: Avaritia #1 and 2
I'm heading into 2012 the proper way, with a new 5-page comic for Sterlin's next Pizza Flag Books thing. Here's the first completed page:
Not a single scrap of clothing to be found in this comic. Also lifting a bit from both Moebius and Michael DeForge for this. I'm trying hard to develop more backgrounds and settings and such, but this whole thing takes place in a barren landscape with little buildings in the background, so I'm not stretching out of my comfort zone too much. I think the next short comic I do will take place entirely indoors, so I'm forced to draw a bunch of interiors and stuff.
Project Sense's page count is now in the 70's. Had to tweak some stuff and add a scene or two to the beginning of the book. Once this ZIMMIK comic is compltely done I'll dive back into it for a while.
And I'm also beginning to entertain ideas of another series like Embrace Infection, gods help us all. Who knows if it'll come to be or not.
Enough, there's work to be done!