I'm gonna steamroll through a few things here and there, mostly writing this because I haven't written much in a while and I don't want to fall into a not-posting slump again, I guess. It's been a strangely busy, eventful week.
Over the weekend I decided I needed to educate myself in the ways of Italian horror, because I got a few strange looks and gasps of disbelief from friends when I would mention that I didn't like Suspiria and that I haven't really watched anything else of the genre. So I watched Lucio Fulci's City of the Living Dead, and it was so very AWESOME. Also watched Mario Bava's Black Sabbath and got a few more titles on my Netflix Instant Queue to get into.
Also on Sunday I traded in a bunch of unwanted comics and games, hooked up with a friend while he was in town, and watched Cowboys Vs Aliens, which I REALLY enjoyed while we were watching it, but now, about a week later, it doesn't linger too much in my mind. Eh.
And because, I don't know, I guess I needed to remind myself of what a masochist I can be, I purchased Demon's Souls for the PS3. It got exceptionable reviews despite being ludicrously hard, and I can see why. Yes, once you die and lose your body you have to play with a significant chunk of health missing and lose all your accumulated souls (which work as both experience points AND currency), you can't pause the game, and any single enemy can beat the piss out of you, but it's so addicting and atmospheric and I love it. My character is a knight called Knife-Eye, which I realize is like telling the enemies to stab me in the face. I lose track of time when I play this game. It just keeps kicking my teeth in and I keep coming back for more.
Tuesday I finally snared a model and got a bunch of reference shots that I've been drawing from. Here's a sample of what I'm doing for a new piece:
The top one is when I first inked it, the bottom one is where I decided it needed more work. Figuring out how much ink to put on and leave off the page is stupidly important and can lead to me staring at the page for a long time, fearful that one wrong pen stroke could ruin everything.
And here's a photo of what I was drawing at work last week, just because:
I'm also currently tearing through that copy of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo you see in the upper left corner there. It's not until about halfway through the book when things kick into high gear and get pretty great. The film was okay, but I probably won't watch the sequels. I'm more excited for David Fincher's crack at it that's coming this December:
Kudos to Trent Reznor and Karen O for taking an annoying Led Zeppelin song and making it pretty sinister. Actually, that trailer is so good I almost don't NEED to see the movie, I can just watch this again whenever.
On top of that I'm reading the first volume of Grant Morrison's the Invisibles after watching the documentary on him, Talking With Gods, which is on Hulu for free. I highly recommend it.
Also got visited by a friend at work yesterday, went with her to Johnson City, got some sweet pizza, and watched Rubber, which is a strange and brilliant movie about a killer tire with telekinetic powers. No reason.
Now, back to doing more work. Or playing more Demon's Souls. Whichever.
is the title of a Philip K. Dick short story I finished not too long ago, and is my favorite that I've read so far. An interesting twist on angels, with more fire and tampering with elements of the universe that should not be tampered with. Yes.
As usual, I have been hard at work, and have come to share with you a few little things. First, a progress shot of FOUR pieces for EMBRACE INFECTION. I thought one was done, but I'm gonna go back and rejigger it slightly. Two are nearly done, and then another one is nowhere near complete and I feel like the more I do to it the worse it gets, which is a little worrying...
Still trying to get my hands on a model for another piece, and ideas came for two more today. One of those ideas involved this quick sketch thing that I did tonight:
Isn't futura such a beautiful font?
I've been in my own head a lot lately, thinking about all kinds of weird, possibly silly things, and I'm not sure what I should do about it. Don't worry, I'll spare you the angst, just thought I'd let you know that some murky thoughts lurk within my brain that are bugging me, but I will find a way to dispose of them before long. Burying myself in artwork isn't cutting it like it usually does.
I need to find other things to talk about. This is all just self-indulgent "HEY LOOK AT WHAT I'M WORKING ON RIGHT NOW," single-minded crap. That entry I did on anime got a lot of interest (by which I mean more than 5 views) so maybe I need to do more of that. I was thinking of doing a week of posts where each day I would talk about someone or something that I really love and enjoy, that a lot of people may not be too awfully familiar with.
Considering how most everyone these days just bitches and complains about how things suck, I figure a bit of celebrating and evangelizing the things I love is in order. I should get on that, yes? Yeah, I think I will do that.
I'm really sleepy.
After the mess that was that last blog entry, I realized I needed another break, this time from the Embrace Infection stuff. It's like I had a stamina meter, and all the single-mindedness made it reach its limit and I had to burn out and slow down to let it restore. Yes, I'm using another videogame reference to describe my life, that's kind of pathetic. Anyways, I stayed busy regardless, and thought I'd just do a post that's a bunch of things I've been looking at, listening to, watching, or thinking about.
So in no particular order, the things that have been occupying my head these past few days:
This may have become a new theme song for myself.
Still looking for a model, yes.
Antarctic cryptozoological thing, ningen. Gonna play a big role in my next comic I'm working on.
Also somewhat important to the comic is me trying to wrap my head around the concepts of and differences between dark matter, antimatter, and dark energy. I hate you, Wikipedia.
Another important element to the comic. Also, where I work.
I bought this game for like, 2 bucks yesterday and really enjoy it. It makes me want to go back and do more weird vector art again.
Rewatched this again last night and today. One of my favorite films ever, and also one of the most beautiful I've ever seen.
There's probably more, but I think this is good enough. My head hurts.
Oh hey, what's up? Not much, just the same old same old.
I'm back into my routine. Eat, sleep, read, draw, work, watch stuff on Netflix, not always in that order of course, but it's not been too exciting. I've made some progress on the Embrace Infection stuff this week, mostly. An idea hit me hard today and got me digging through and scanning 21 pages of notes from my high school Biology classes, mostly charts, tables, illustrations, and a handful of pages about genetic mutations, which I'm planning on trying to implement into some of the pieces I'm working on right now and other, future pieces. I've started a fifth illustration, and I've got a sixth one in mind, but trying to find an appropriate model to work with for it.
The concept and all are gelling together with each piece. The narrative is being played more loosely, and instead of sticking to a single, solid theme, a lot of different ideas and emotions are being poured in. I just do the work, and when it's all done and I can look at it all together, I can figure it out then. I've abandoned the body horror "guy turns into a monster" thing, but I did put together this quick sketch of what I was leaning towards for the final monster alien form thing:
Those t-rex arms with the membranes? Weak. The rest of the design is kind of neat, maybe I'll throw him into some other future project...
I guess I'm thinking a lot about whatever will come next, and how I can push myself and my work. On the side I'm scribbling together a plan for a new comic, but I'm also taking my time with it because I want it all to come out nice. Thinking of serializing it as a webcomic somewhere other than here, but we'll see. Also considering content for Burst Reach 2, and when it would see the light of day, and where to go with that whole thing.
I'm posting a lot more focused, possibly more interesting things over on Tumblr, like thoughts on Grasshopper Manufacture's next game, Ghost Rider poster designs, movie trailers, stuff like that. I guess that's where I talk about the things that interest me a lot, while here I just talk more about myself and my work like some pretentious jerk.
Gosh, I feel like my head's full of cobwebs right now or something, I'm sorry this is kind of a lousy blog. I'm trying to think out loud and I'm not doing a terribly good job of it, so, as Warren Ellis would say, back down into the mines I go.
I am proud to announce that Rob-Con was quite the success, with every copy of Burst Reach successfully handed out to friends, professionals, and strangers, with help from my friends Kellee and David. I also had a few people I hadn't seen in YEARS show up for a copy, which felt good, and I really enjoyed seeing them again and getting to chat. Also met some cool guys like Luther Myrtle and a cute girl dressed as Carmen Sandiego. And a dude dressed as Sinestro. And I got Jeremy Massie to draw me an awesome picture of Godzilla and Jet Jaguar doing the safety dance that I should scan. It was absolutely exhausting, walking around the floor for hours with my messenger bag full of comics goodness, but so very worth it.
Now I have to go print more. I'm gonna see if any of the local comic shops will take some to be picked up for free, and I've got more friends who wanted a copy and couldn't get one.
So will this help me in the future? Will my site get more hits, will this improve my chances of making it professionally? Who knows, all that matters is that I pulled off something I never thought of accomplishing before, and there's no turning back now.
I picked up a few cool things at the con too: A volume of Lupin III, a Love and Rockets collection, the first volume of Jack Kirby's the Eternals, and Apocalypse: The Eyes of Doom, which I'm pretty sure was originally printed in an old issue of Heavy Metal. These, coupled with some comics I ordered from Amazon, Jame Stokoe's WonTon Soup, the Woman Trap, and the final volume of Planetary, means I've got quite a bit to sit down and read.
For anyone who didn't get a copy, I put up the two new comics from Burst Reach today, INTERMISSION and DRZAEM. I had so much freaking fun doing Intermission, but Drzaem is definitely the stronger story.
More comic ideas boiling in my head, one of which is the new re-purposing of stupidly old characters from high school. Kind of setting them on the backburner while trying to get more work done for the EMBRACE INFECTION project. One piece is COMPLETELY finished, but I've also started thinking about changing things around, ditching a lot of the narrative content for something more loose and conceptual, and trying to pin down the overall look that will give the pieces more consistency. Some of the progress pieces I already shared earlier are being re-done or just outright thrown out (and in one case, re-purposed into the aforementioned comic that's also re-purposing old characters). It's tumultuous, man.
I've been hearing back from a few friends on their opinion of Burst Reach. My older brother and his friends do not understand it, which is to be expected, but they like the look of it. Others are telling me DRZAEM is the best, which warms my heart. I hope to hear from more people, yes.
On that note, I am exhausted, and should probably go to bed. Goodnight all, and for those of you that I met at Rob-Con, those of you who got a copy of Burst Reach, I give you my thanks. You're all awesome.
After hours and hours of work and a horrific single-mindedness that led me to forgot all kinds of other important things, BURST REACH #1 IS COMPLETE. To celebrate, I'm taking a break for a day or two before diving back into work on the senior project, EMBRACE INFECTION.
Burst Reach is 20 pages, half of it older stuff and half of it the brand spanking new INTERMISSION and DRZAEM comics. You can see the full front and back covers the thing in the Design gallery, but here's a wonderful picture of the books spilled out all over my bed:
...I may have printed a few too many, yes. And a few people have asked me why the cover is green. These people are fools to ask such a thing, but there is a reason. Two, actually: High visibility so that you could wave down a passing airplane should you wind up shipwrecked on a desert island with this as your only possession, and because I feel the somewhat distressing and extreme lime green helpfully reflects the strange content contained within.
This is a huge accomplishment, I am immensely proud and immensely excited about it. Yeah, it cost more than I expected to get them printed, BUT I DON'T CARE. Seeing my work in a physical object, self published, it's exhilarating. I can hold it up and say "I MADE IT MYSELF!!" Et cetera.
I think the hardest part was the act of downgrading the older stuff to be printed in black and white. I referred to the painful process as "REJIGGERING," and it's not perfect, but I think I got decent results. Take this side-by-side comparison of the second page of Cyberpunk Blues, for instance:
Cyberpunk Blues was so bloody difficult since it has always been up to this point a full-color comic that resembled neon lights puking all over people. Losing that is a hard blow, but the act of REJIGGERING/downgrading it almost makes it dirtier, sleazier, and dare I say it, more punk.
The process is somewhat like taking a wicked little SNES game, with full 16-bit graphics, and having to crank out a "de-make" of it in 8-bits on the NES.
So like I said before, I'll be giving these out to anyone interested at Rob-Con 2011 this Saturday in the Bristol Mall. I have a couple friends who volunteered to help hand them out as well. On top of that, my good friend, comics mentor, and much more talented artist Jeremy Massie will have a table! I will probably be pestering him a lot in between searching for back issues of Heavy Metal and trying to get people to take Burst Reach.
After Rob-Con is over, I'll be putting INTERMISSION and DRZAEM online to be read.
Here's hoping this turns out to be a huge success and that some day I will actually be able to make money doing what I love. I have a feeling people will like it, regardless of how bizarre it is and if nothing else, it'll give people something to remember me by when they leave the convention.
Man, making a book is a lot of hard work. I'm accomplishing things at a decent rate, but my real worry is when I print it and start making copies, and then, you know, the whole handing it out thing. But it's so much fun. Especially because I just finished drawing, inking, and scanning the two-page Intermission comic I came up with to fill some space. If you ever, for some reason, wonder why I love comics so much, God help you, but here's a good reason:
YES. The Intermission comic, as you can see, features an old character Reginald the Distinguished Gentlemen, making his return to talk about outer space with a DEINONYCHUS. Yeah, clearly reading Ricardo Delgado's Age of Reptiles Omnibus left an impression on me. I remembered something while drawing this page, something I had learned as a child, but somehow forgotten: DRAWING DINOSAURS IS FUN.
The other page has a spaceship and weird cosmic stuff in it, and I have this repetitive rhythm thing going on in it too. I read someone saying that part of the fun of drawing comics is you come up with little ideas as you're drawing, things you think are really clever, and you have to laugh. I did a lot of laughing with these two pages.
I also worked up the logo for the book:
And here's the drawing I did for the cover of the thing:
I feel most comfortable drawing Vincent without a shirt on. And Ezra is without pants because I had no idea how to draw a skirt folded to the way she's sitting and hate drawing shorts.
A redneck customer with a teardrop tattoo at the storage buildings saw me working on it and loved it. This is a personal victory.
And finally, here is what David got me for my birthday from a Gundam store in Korea, and from Tokyo:
The Gundam model is what I'm most stoked and terrified about. I haven't made a Gundam model in YEARS, but I am excited. The bag is worth keeping too. Also a sweet postcard, a Squirtle toy, and a wicked Bearbrick Gundam keychain. My best friend knows me all too well.
With that out of the way, it's back into the mines I go. This book isn't going to finish itself, you know, and the progress I'm making just motivates me more!
I have successfully finished toning the pages of DRZAEM! Now I am in the process of formatting it and trying to put together the 22-page mini-comic I will be handing out at Bristol's Rob-Con in two weeks. It's going to include Ezra Neuro and Cyberpunk Blues, a couple one-pagers, and some other stuff. I think I'm gonna call the whole thing "BURST REACH."
I look forward to awkwardly walking around trying to give it to people.
Anyways, I won't be posting the entirety of DRZAEM until after the con is done, but until then, here's the first page:
Like I said, it's kind of weird. The whole narration-though-multiple-word-bubbles thing makes perfect sense to me, but I doubt anyone else will really get it much.
I feel like I should've been doing this crap years ago, why it took me so long, I'm not sure. But it's getting done and I'm not planning on slowing down any time soon.
My best friend returned from his conquest of Korea just last week, and we got together Sunday evening, the first time we'd seen each other since February, catching up and going on about how things have been this year. Important things. His foreign adventures kind of motivated me to really get off my butt and really work, to set some real goals and pursue them. I can't find the words to express it, but yeah.
Anyways. Back to the grind, there's still more to be done!
I toned 5 of 8 pages for DRZAEM today. Here, take a look:
My plan is, once this is finished, to put together a little book with this, Cyberpunk Blues, and some other stuff in it, to be printed and handed out at Rob-Con in two weeks here in Bristol.
I currently have the house to myself and have spent the time just watching documentaries about futurism and science-y things on Netflix while drawing and stuff. I finished reading that first volume of Akira, and decided to use one of my final pages of comic board (which I am never buying again, those lines are evil and the paper's too expensive) to draw a random page.
It...didn't come out all too well, but it helped me get a grasp of how Katsuhiro Otomo set up and laid out his pages, his compositional skills, and how detailed he was, more detailed than I could manage. My attempt looks half-assed next to his, but it was a good learning process. I'm trying to think of a few other comics where I could try the same thing.
And I finished a drawing for another senior show piece. Here's a snippet:
Took forever to draw, and I'm rather proud of how it came out.
Also, I found these pieces of Legend of Zelda art done by an artist called Katsuya Terada, and I love them:
When you bring up this iconic game series to anyone, and I mean ANYONE, these are NOT the kinds of images that come to mind, not the same colors or style at all. Imagine if any one of the Zelda games looked more like this art and less like...well, Wind Waker or Ocarina of Time did. The game would be almost entirely different, and the series would, dare I say it, probably not be quite so ultra popular as it is today.
Which would be fine by me, I love this work, and I've grown sick of all the Zelda obsessed kids I run into all the time. Don't get me wrong, I too am a big fan of the series, Link's Awakening and Twilight Princess probably being my favorites, but I guess I just don't like people who are obsessed with something in an unhealthy manner.
Here's another wicked awesome piece. That thing in the background is a Moblin. A freaking MOBLIN. They've never been that huge or ugly in any of the games!
Have you seen the screenshots and trailers and previews for Skyward Sword? It looks ugly, doesn't it? Like they tried and failed to combine the art style of Wind Waker with Ocarina of Time. I'll still play it, but sheesh. What was wrong with the look of Twilight Princess? That game was AWESOME. It was epic, it was dark, it hinted at certain elements that are extremely present in these pieces of art I'm in love with.
Look at Link in these. He's more mature, more stoic, that shield is not going to provide him much protection, so he HAS to be cautious and keep his wits about him. Honestly, the line art and colors in these remind me more of Moebius than of anyone Japanese.
I look at these and think of the Zelda game that could have been, then I see Toon Link and I cringe. Why must you torment me like that, Nintendo?
Anyways, that's it. Think I'm gonna find an excuse to use this Books A Million coupon that came in today's paper...