I've been really stupidly busy lately.
First off, I've been trying to work my ass off on completing chapter 2 of Other Sleep, but, well, other life-related things keep getting in the way. I'm nearly done coloring it, and after that all I'll lack is the lettering. It should be up here in the next few days, I promise.
I had that comic show in Gray, TN a few weeks back, and it was slow, not really the greatest experience ever, but not too bad either. Sold a few sketches and some comics and met the other two artists who were pretty nice guys.
I'm still working on that print collection for the Distinguished Gentlemen and Exciting Tales strips. Here's the wrap-around cover for it, though I may make a few changes to it before it's done:
Then my birthday happened last weekend. All I really asked for from my family was a proper drawing table, because drawing on a flat desk so much at work and on the floor or on my bed at home was starting to do some damage. Turns out we had one in the basement for years upon years with old computer stuff sitting on it. I cleaned it up and dragged it upstairs and now I got a pretty righteous setup that I sadly haven't gotten to use nearly as much as I'd like to:
I love it.
This week was my best friend David's birthday, and we went and saw the Avengers. I REALLY didn't want to go, for reasons best outlined in this Comics Alliance post by David Brothers. Buuuuuuut Leif bought our tickets, so I figured why not. Even going in, I really didn't want to like it. I was actively looking for reasons to hate it, and, well, the first act of the movie definitely gave me plenty of reasons.
The main big thing that bothered me for the majority of the 2 hour+ movie was simply the way it was shot. For one thing, it was shot digitally, when I feel like it could have looked so much better if it were shot on film. But you know, Hollywood is trying its hardest to kill film and make everyone go digital. I'm not saying movies shot digitally are bad, I mean hell, Crank 2 was shot with cameras you could go purchase for yourself at Best Buy and I LOVE the look of that movie. The problem here was in some part due to the way Joss Whedon shoots, coming from a TV background. For practically half the movie, it feels like you're not watching a REAL movie, just something straight-to-DVD that somehow got a larger budget than usual. There was a lot of stupid camera work that got on my nerves and the lighting, combined with the super-high-def clarity of being shot digital made the costumes, especially Captain America's, look WAY too fake. It felt more like a guy doing really expensive cosplay, not an actual soldier/superhero, until the costume got battered and ripped up later in the movie, then it looked good. Everything was just too clean, and the lense focus too sharp, it was so distracting.
This actually DID work to its advantage in one scene between Loki and Thor where it felt like I was watching an 80's fantasy film, and it actually developed a certain sense of charm that everything coming before it lacked.
So I was not happy for the first 45 minutes or so. But! BUT!! I must give credit to Joss Whedon for keeping the "witty banter" down to a tolerable minimum, and for having a good sense of character development and understanding of how to handle a big cast of unique characters and how they work with/against each other. The movie would sink or swim depending on how it was written and how the character dynamics worked, and Whedon made it soar. Once the plot REALLY kicked in and the stakes started going up, the movie got good and I wasn't so distracted by how it was shot.
The final act is insanely impressive, despite the alien army reeking of another common Hollywood problem: being over-designed. The CG is great, very realistic yes, but I hate how everything is so damn unnecessarily detailed that rather than looking like something that could very well exist, you can just tell that the aliens were designed by a team of artists locked in a studio somewhere. There's just too much detail.
But it's okay because the Hulk steals the bloody show and wrecks things good. And Mark Ruffalo's performance as Bruce Banner was great, he was definitely my favorite character in the movie. Loki was fantastic as well.
Also? The final, post-credits scene was probably my favorite in the entire movie. And it was, weirdly, the most grounded, human, relatable scene in the movie too.
So yeah, I actually really enjoyed the movie after I got through with the irritating first act.
Yesterday was Free Comic Book Day, and I got the opportunity to go to Mountain Empire Comics in Bristol and set up for the day to sell copies of Burst Reach and stuff. I was partnered with a man called Dionysis Metalcult, creator of Metalcult Comix, drummer/vocalist for a metal band called Cult of Dionysis, and owner of one sweet mustache. We traded comics and he gave me a couple CDs which I'm listening to right now. I couldn't have asked for a cooler guy to share a table with.
(Spider-man was there too, he's pretty cool)
I met another artist there, Betty Ogletree, who does fantasy art. I'm jealous of her use of color and attention to detail in her work. She let me try out her Copic markers, which were awesome. I plan on getting me some.
Also, legendary illustrator Charles Vess showed up for a while, and we kind of nerded out at him. Here's a pic of him with Burst Reach and Metalcult Comix:
All in all, a good time was had, and this BLEW that show a few weeks ago out of the water. I had such a blast.
And now it's back to work. Gotta finish chapter 2 and put it online, finish designing that print collection of strips, get chapter 1 printed, AND work on Burst Reach 2 and get it finished and printed in time for ROB-CON 2012. No rest for the wicked...
This is, more or less, a cry for help. Well, not necessarily. It’s more of a…I dunno, a personal appeal.
I’m proud of the work I’ve put into Other Sleep, and, obviously, I would like for as many people to see it as humanly possible. I want this comic to be a major stepping stone towards making a career out of my comics and art. I’ve been trying to promote it in a bunch of ways, screaming at friends on Facebook, distributing postcards, going onto forums and other sites to tell people about it, and emailing people too.
I’ve always been of the do-it-yourself mentality, and I don’t enjoy asking for help, but, honestly? I can’t do this by myself.
It’s a strange and common belief that if it exists on the internet, then hundreds, if not thousands, of people have seen it, and I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Or maybe it is, I don’t know. My personal website was only averaging about 10 unique visitors per day, but lately it’s dropped. Any piece I upload to Deviantart usually only gets 5-10 views. I have all kinds of social networking accounts that no one really pays attention to, and I have to admit that sometimes it’s discouraging. Not that it stops me, no, not at all, but when you’re an aspiring artist who hopes to one day make a living doing his thing, you kind of hope for more people to take notice, yeah?
And that is where YOU come in. The best way to get people to look at Other Sleep, and my work in general, is if YOU talk about it. All I’m really asking is that you spread the word. If you really liked the first chapter, why not post a quick link to it on Facebook? Or maybe you know one or two specific people who you think would really enjoy it, go tell them about it! Got a blog, or a Tumblr, or something similar? Share it on there. “I read this weird new webcomic, check it out here.” That’s it. That’s all you have to do. That’s all I ask of you.
Promoting my work is an uphill battle, especially when it comes to Other Sleep. Being monthly as opposed to posting pages two or three times a week is one thing that makes building interest difficult. And, well, the number of webcomics out there on the internet is MASSIVE. Making things even more difficult is the fact that, unlike most of the popular webcomics these days, Other Sleep is not a gag comic. It doesn’t reference anything remotely popular like Star Wars or My Little Pony or videogames. There are no superheroes or moe-blob underage girls for the otaku to obsess over. It is its own unusual, unique thing, an original creation that I’ve put a lot of myself into, not to mention time and effort.
It’s a sad truth that original work DOESN’T get as easily and frequently seen as some dork’s Dr. Who/Adventure Time mash-up does. I mean, I see people sharing memes all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. Can’t you, just this once, rather than re-share something George Takei posted on Facebook that most of your friends have probably already seen anyway because they also like George Takei, can’t you help build interest in something new, something different, something that has nothing to do with Game of Thrones? JUST ONCE?
Your friends probably wouldn’t notice anyways because someone else will have posted a wacky screenshot from Draw Something, so what does it matter?
But no, in all seriousness, if you tell one friend about Other Sleep, or just post the link to the website, or like/share the Facebook page, just one small gesture like that, I WILL BE SO GRATEFUL TO YOU AND WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER.
Just…just think about it, won’t you? My birthday is this weekend, and you can do this for me as a gift. Thanks.
(also: Chapter 2 should be up in the next week or so! GET PSYCHED!)
I'm going to do a bit of a braindump today. Things I've been looking at, listening to, thinking about, et cetera.
I keep listening to this song, because it's so good. It brings to mind imagery from Stalker, and makes me think of a What If? sequel to that film where, after another decade or two, Stalker returns to the Zone and finds that it's...changed, in a sinister, austere fashion. Give it a listen, it's remarkable.
I read Sharknife ZZ by Corey Lewis this week and HOLY CRAP IT IS AWESOME. I could only read it in quick bursts, a handful of pages at a time, because it's so dense with style and it's so overwhelmingly fun to flip through. Corey is at the top of his game with it, and it was so worth the 6-year wait it took him to make it. I did some fanart, I loved it so much:
This blog post by David Brothers about the Before Watchmen crap is absolutely venomous and on the nose. I was initially thinking of buying the Minutemen series because I love Darwyn Cooke, but now, ugh, I'm just not going to bother at all.
I wrote a blog post over on Other Sleep about the bad 1980 movie Altered States and how it's kind of the backbone for the comic. I'm planning on doing posts every week over there about what's influenced it. I think next time I'm gonna write about Guy Davis and his work on BPRD.
I'm trying to figure out how I can really promote the hell out of Other Sleep and get people to check it out. I don't think it's something I can do myself. Right now I'm hopping on messageboards and stuff, and I made a list of comics professionals and critics and bloggers that I want to send it to, but I just haven't worked up the guts yet to email any of them...
Saturday the 21st, I'm going to be at the Tri-Cities Toy and Hobby Show. Basically I'll just be doing sketches, giving away Other Sleep postcards, and selling copies of the new third printing of Burst Reach for a buck apiece. The guy who manages the show is a really nice guy and is letting me have a table for free to do my thing. This is, I guess, my first "appearance," so to speak, since I don't think walking around Rob Con last year thrusting Burst Reach into people's hands necessarily counts, yeah?
(by the way, there I also dropped some copies of Burst Reach off at Atomik Comiks in Johnson City, so you can grab them there too. Tell Shawn I sent you)
Also? The third printing of Burst Reach is STAPLED BY ME, rather than saddle-stitched at Kinkos. This justifies the long-arm stapler I ordered in the middle of the night back in February with a copy of Redline when I couldn't sleep.
I'm also going to be at Mountain Empire Comics in Bristol for Free Comic Book Day, drawing and stuff.
AND I bought a 3-day pass today for Heroes Con. I'm really excited about that, since it'll be my first REAL con.
And finally, I just watched a really good documentary on digital sampling in hip hop that's called Copyright Criminals. It's great, you should check it out on Netflix.
Okay, back to work.
You read that right folks, the first chapter of Other Sleep is now online! Click the image below to go read the first chapter!
I'm excited. I've been working my ass off on this and it makes me so happy to see it now up for public consumption.
Things have been set in motion. Gotta keep the momentum going. I've already got almost half of chapter 2 drawn now, I'm still writing the later chapters, and putting together other ideas and stuff.
I also made a page specifically for it on this site, so you should check that out.
That's it for now. There's yet more work to do. SO MUCH WORK.
Maybe I should start titling all of my blog posts after Wu-Tang Clan songs.
SO! After an 8-day drawing binge, I have FINISHED drawing the first chapter of my graphic novel!
This is one heck of an accomplishment for me. It's a huge step forward. Massive progress.
I'm also excited to announce that I have a website set up for it and everything already!
YES. The comic is titled OTHER SLEEP, and the website is up and running! All you gotta do is click that picture. CLICK IT.
I'll be posting OS-related things on the blog there, and I've got a 3-page preview for the first chapter set up for you to ogle too. AND YOU CAN COMMENT ON IT. Go go go!
The complete first chapter will be up sometime in mid-to-late April. My self-set deadline is end of the month, so I can print some copies of it for Free Comic Book Day. Rob, the man who runs Mountain Empire Comics and Bristol's own Rob-Con comic convention, talked me into making a FCBD appearance at the store, and I don't want to show up empty-handed now do I?
I've also got a table for this year's Rob-Con, of course. I plan on having quite a few things there for people, including Burst Reach 2!
Exciting times, these are.
Also, in between all the drawing and planning and website tomfoolery, I did another photography thing:
The copy machine at work is old and does those wicked looking, lo-fi punk prints like you see in older textbooks, and I'd been dying to do something with it for a while now, and thus this was born!
And that's it. I got more work to do tonight. I'm just about finished lettering those pages up there, yeah...
I realize it's been some time since I've shown off anything I'm working on. Some of you, my theoretical fans and avid readers, are probably thinking that I've been sitting around on my butt, picking my nose and watching Trailer Park Boys. That's only half true, I was watching Mad Men and Breaking Bad, actually.
God, I can't believe I typed that.
But no, here's a quick glance at what I've been doing:
I've been churning out pages like mad. The top row of pages is for a short supernatural comic I'm working on for Burst Reach 2, tentatively called GRICE. It's inspired by Hellboy, witch house music, and the Wu-Tang Clan, and I think it's the coolest comic I've ever drawn so far. The bottom half is pages for the graphic novel in progress. I'm on the cusp of making some sort of announcement regarding that, as soon as I figure out where I'm going to be hosting it and stuff.
Here's the first page of Grice, colored. Click to embiggen:
And here's a finished image I did for the graphic novel, as the uh, cover I suppose, to the first chapter:
Finally, here's a photo I took in January and messed with the other night on a whim which was brought about by feeling kind of down in the dumps over silly emotional things:
Her pose kind of captured how I felt, heh. Plus, I haven't done anything actually photography-related in a while, so it was nice opportunity to use a different part of my brain.
Also a quick pencil sketch from the same shoot. I drew this after I finished reading a weird, awesome sci fi romance novel called As She Climbed Across the Table:
Other things: Been reading lots of comics, particularly older volumes of the BPRD, which I'm kicking myself for not getting into sooner, watching some good TV shows on Netflix, and some good movies too. The Social Network, the Man Who Fell to Earth, the Game, just to name a few. Also I've been replaying the crap out of Bioshock.
So, all in all, things are moving right along, as they should be, right? OH ONE MORE THING:
I wish more movies looked this good. I'm trying to keep my expectations in check, but it's just too hard, man.
Okay, that's it. You can go now.
"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.