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

Haven't done one in years

(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?
Food, comics.

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?
Traveling, comics.

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 is a great cure for depression.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“Hey! Fuck you, tough guy!”

From my brain to yours

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
Embrace Infection
Drive Angry 3D
Troll Hunter
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo soundtrack
Nonplayer #1
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!


Alma Mater Suspiria Vision

Only someone who is an Argento or witch house fan may get that. I don't know if my "audience" comprises of either of those. Oh well.

So uh, I graduated yesterday morning. That was exciting. I think. More exciting was finding pads of comic board at Michaels this week that were buy one get one free. Even more exciting was the stack of comics I bought in between three different stores.

But no, graduation. The ceremony was thankfully short and relatively painless, due in part to some nice conversation about movies and nerdy things with the girl I was next to and because I paid very little attention during all the speeches and stuff because I was too busy doodling all over my program:
I nearly flubbed when it came to the whole "walking across the stage" thing because I was dizzy and my head was hurting, but no one commented on that, so I think we're good.

I was around page 51 or 52 of the comic I keep talking about, which I shall from here on out refer to as "Project Sense." Now, though, I realized the past 10 pages weren't working so well, so for the second or third time I am rewriting this scene. Still, progress is progress.

You may have noticed the new banner up top and such. That carcass is the remains of this:
This is a giant monster originally supposed to appear in Project Sense. It was also a bit of an attempt at doing some Geof Darrow style detail in a drawing. Or if not Darrow, then James Stokoe. However, after showing the original sketch to a friend, we determined that, for the purposes of the comic's story, the monster was way too, um, dinosaur or kaiju in design, not nightmarish enough, so it's back to the drawing board there.

Here's the entire carcass:
I've made some other minor changes to the site here and there, and I plan on doing some more soon.

Also in the pipeline is a five page comic for my friend Sterlin's next Pizza Flag book, a sort of anthology of comics, short stories, and poetry from local talents.

Word. Now back to last-minute Christmas crap and playing Zelda: Skyward Sword, which I want to eventually talk in more detail about.


Bullet right through the sternum

I'm stupidly late with this, but here's the final strip for the East Tennessean, the conclusion to the epic adventure of Professor Bear and Professor Waterbear:
That first panel is probably one of my favorite things I have ever drawn.

I had to do a Powerpoint presentation on Embrace Infection this week. I think it went well, considering my Powerpoint had a grotesque shot from David Cronenberg's the Fly and some early 20th century photographs of skin diseases. I talked at length about my comic book influences too. I'm not terribly good at doing presentations or talking to groups of people so I always try to throw in weird, funny things in order to make people laugh and keep them entertained because I know no one enjoys sitting through a bunch of students standing up and trying to talk about their work. I sure as hell don't.

I just need to write up a grant proposal thing and I'll be done with that class. I graduate this coming Saturday. HOLY CRAP I GRADUATE THIS SATURDAY I'M SO NOT READY.

"So what are you going to do next, Brett?" SHUT UP LEAVE ME ALONE

Actually, I do know that no matter what happens next, I'm going to keep doing comics. I'm in the early stages of figuring out some stuff to pitch to guys like Heavy Metal, thinking about webcomics, and of course working on that big comic I've remained kind of hush hush about.

Actually, I haven't remained so hush hush about it, my last few posts on Tumblr have been examples of how I'm trying to figure out the overall look of the comic, playing with different colors and styles. And I've posted some of the rough layouts over there too. Here's a colored one I did last night, in case you're too lazy to click on that link:
40-some-odd pages have been written, with the last 8 or so frequently rewritten. I'm still figuring things out. I have no clue how long it's really going to be. I know the last page, last panel, but...I don't know how to get there. You know how it is.

Um, that's it. I got stuff to do now. AWAY.


He's still a crybaby

I’m going to talk about anime again. You may want to go read something on Cracked now instead. Or look at eerily specific Tumblr pages.

It was either in seventh or eighth grade, knee deep in my love for Gundam Wing, DBZ, and Outlaw Star (which I still declare to be one of the greatest anime series ever), when I finally started digging into stuff that didn’t come on Toonami thanks to the internet. I was immediately drawn, like any other kid mildly interested in Japan, to Neon Genesis Evangelion. I read about it obsessively, looked at everything I could, downloaded and watched AMVs over a year before I finally acquired a DVD player and a couple volumes of the show itself. It was the designs of the Eva units, the Angels, the weird psychological and religious stuff that caught my interest and I latched onto it.

(I wanted to post the AMV set to Rammstein's Engel, but it can't be embedded. This will do)

I never watched the entire series. In fact, I think I never watched any more than maybe 9 episodes and End of Evangelion. It was one of those situations where what I had in my head was so much different and better than what the actual show was. At the tender age of 14 or 15, I felt I identified with Shinji, yeah, but even then, I thought he was a bit too whiny, too much of a crybaby, and it felt like the writers were trying too hard in places to be funny or emotional. And as I grew older I eventually just dropped it entirely. In that last ultra-big anime and manga blog post I did, I mentioned my knee-jerk reaction in which I would tell people that I hate anime. This was around the start of that denial phase, when I decided that Evangelion sucked and that I would no longer show interest in it. See how that worked?

Fast forward to present day. Amazon recommended me Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone, 10 bucks on Blu-Ray. I asked on Facebook if it was worth it, was told yes, ordered it, and watched it. And now I’m super nostalgic.
This usually doesn’t end so well.

So, the movie. I had my fingers crossed that they’d rewritten Shinji, at least a little, to make him less of an emo child. Sadly, that wasn’t so, but since this was a movie I was watching and not the show, they thankfully kept the whining and crying to a bare minimum, making it easier to deal with. Also, I was reminded of one of the main reasons I was so enamored with the series to begin with: Eva 01 tearing shit up. The battles against the Angels are like what I always wanted from a giant monster film, which is a high compliment given that I’m a stupidly huge Godzilla and Gamera fan. And really, watching Evangelion 1.11 really felt like watching a giant monster movie, having to sit through some half-interesting human drama before getting to see a giant morphing diamond thing firing massive lasers. So, not the rewrite and improvement I was expecting, but still great. I miss the graininess of 80s/90s anime, and this being a digital transfer of the film straight to high-def BD, the movie is almost TOO crisp and clean, there's no grit at all, but then you see what they did with the final Angel encounter and just stop caring about why no one gets dirty.

It’s just interesting to think of the ways in which something can influence you, even when you’re not terribly familiar with it. With Evangelion, I also owned volumes 1 and 5 of the manga, again, before I saw a single full episode of the show. Then I cut pages out of them and used them in collages and stuff, because I was an idiot and figured I’d never want to read them again.

I rediscovered these two pages that I scanned from one of the volumes, and realized that this scene was a big influence on the comic book I’m currently working on:
Really, I was not thinking about these pages, or of Evangelion at all when I got the idea for this comic and started working on it. If anything, I thought I was largely ripping off the film Altered States and maybe a little bit of Fringe and HP Lovecraft, so my mind was blown when I found these. I mean, seriously, the opening pages to my comic are so damn close to this it's kind of unnerving.

And that’s the other reason I decided to just go for it and buy the Blu-Ray, to figure out just how much the show, the manga, the designs, influenced me on some very deep level. I do believe wholeheartedly that the white Evas in End of Evangelion (which show up in the above AMV) are the freakiest, coolest designs ever and I've tried to mimic them on multiple occasions. I also think Eva 01 is one of the reasons I used purple and green so much in my work. Either that or the Mystic Cave level from Sonic 2 on the Sega Genesis, who knows?

This also could lead into an argument about things we remember and the fact that they surely exist on the internet. Is it better to just cling to your memories, especially when intentionally referencing something, or should you refer back to the source material and get as close to it as possible?

I may write some more on anime related stuff again later, considering I recently also finished reading all 2000+ pages of Akira and picked up six issues of some horrible manga by the original creator of La Blue Girl, but maybe I shouldn't go into that...


Exchanging blows

Sorry about the rough period there of inactivity, but I'm sure few of you noticed, and those of you who did, probably didn't care much. That's the proper attitude. Last week was busy with work, a trip to Asheville in which I bought comics and helped my friends beat the Simpsons arcade game, Thanksgiving, and purchasing Batman: Arkham City on Black Friday. I'd rather be playing that right now, so let's do this.

First off, due to the holiday, there was only one paper last week, in which I concluded the Distinguished Gentlemen:
I'm a little sad to see them go. Perhaps I can continue their adventures another day in the future, and continue to get paid for it?

And next up is part one of mine and David's two-part collaboration, which will probably overlap the sidebar or something due to the format:
This was so tough to draw. It was David's first time writing a comic, and it was a tad...problematic. Eight panels, and he had written each of them packed with detail I just couldn't do, along with WAY too much dialogue. I unfortunately had to hack it down quite a bit.

The second strip, for Thursday, he did a MUCH better job with writing, but I'm afraid I screwed it up myself by accidentally drawing it a half inch shorter than it's supposed to be. Way to drop the ball, Brett.

There will be one final paper next Monday and that will conclude my job as official cartoonist for the East Tennessean. It sucks that it was only for a single semester, because the job kept me on my toes and I feel like I really improved a lot as an artist doing these silly strips about weird creatures. Everyone's opinion seems pretty positive, I haven't received any negative feedback. My editor told me of a couple compliments they've received, and pointed out to me that generally most people don't write or say anything unless they're upset by it.

...So my comics did not upset a single reader. Damn. I'll have to try harder next time.

Work continues on the still-unnamed comic book, with some 30-odd pages written and thumbnailed and still more to come. However, with my cartooning job ending, I feel like there's going to be a I will try to keep doing other comics that won't take months to plan out and write and such in order to stay limber while I tunnel through this massive beast of a project.

Graduation in less than a month. Holy crap. And what will I do then? I don't know, don't ask me that. All I know is that, no matter where I am or what I'm doing, I'm going to keep drawing, and more importantly, I'm going to keep drawing comics.

Now, I have to go hunt down Mr. Freeze's wife. Arkham City waits.


Back to the lab without a mic to grab

Well kids, the show has come and gone. And, well, I think it was pretty successful.

The reception got started a wee bit late, but that wasn't really a problem. We were tired from having our individual critiques earlier that day and having run around Sam's Club and Wal Mart in search of food for the thing, and I spent most of the evening in a daze, wired, but feeling like I could fall over at any second.
The response was pretty good, surprisingly. It's mind-blowing to me that people were enjoying my strange, colorful illustrations of naked people mutating and stuff, you know? Oh, oh, here's a few of my favorite guestbook bits:
I kind of wish I knew who drew the dog with the monocle.
I was happy to get rid of my last copies of Burst Reach (even though I'm pretty sure one of them was taken by my dad), and Sterlin arrived with a bag full of copies of Museum For Dead Clowns, which we also managed to hand out a few to friends. He also gave me Vonnegut's Timequake, a book about UFOs, and an old Less Than Jake album I didn't have.

I really can't think of anything else to say. The reception was a blast, a lot of my friends showed up, fun was had, and uh...I dunno. I had to go back today to take down the show, which felt kind of weird. It's sad that Embrace Infection was only up a week, but hey, there's always the gallery on this site for those who missed it!
Oh, and here's Thursday's shark-jumping Distinguished Gentlemen:
I'm gonna go lay down and sleep for a few days now, okay?

Thanks everyone, for supporting my steady descent into madness. People like me need people like you.


Things just got REAL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Momentum overwhelms

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

Oh well.

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

That's a terrible hint.

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

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

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

(it's already incredibly weird, sorry)

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


I'm getting pretty good at little things

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

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

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

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

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

Right, on comes the nausea. AWAY.