Monday, April 25, 2011

more coming

Had a nice long weekend with travelling, but that meant I didn't spend a lot of time working on the comic. I'm no closer to having a new finished page posted than I was this time last week - BUT I was able to draft another 10 pages in rough.

Those new pages need a lot of finishing, but the brass tacks are in place.

Looking forward to sharing the new stuff. The part of the story the I've really been looking forward to comes up in the next 10 pages - which is awesome. The unfortunate part is this - it takes about a month for me to get 10 pages posted.

But I'm really excited to be getting where we're getting.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

From moderday LA and Delhi, to cenozoic Portland

You can click on this link to read the "My taxes pay your salary" from Tomb of the Undead.

Darrell Starkwood looks to strike back at Dr. Miller.
I hadn't done anything like the final scene on the page before in the comic - I did some "smudging" and I really like the profile of Starkwood's face as the scene border. I liked drawing the detective, as well - I thought he was neat to draw. I hope you're not too attached to him, because you're unlikely to hear from him again ... ever. On the way home, after that shift, he decided to retire and move to Oklahoma, never to be heard from again. But you don't need to know that.

Graphic novel news
An interesting survey of news this time - we've got graphic novels about life in India, life in Oregon and life in Los Angeles. Check it out.

The Harappa Files | Ode to the commonplace
Graphic commentaries that illustrate the familiar past and present of Indian life
Supriya Nair

Sarnath Banerjee’s third book, after Corridor and The Barn Owl’s Wondrous Capers, is a series of “loosely bound graphic commentaries”, produced three years after he promised his editor he would never write a graphic novel again. He volunteers this information in an introductory page to The Harappa Files. The book opens with Greater Harappa Rehabilitation, Reclamation and Redevelopment Commission, sketches which explain how a “secret think-tank of elite bureaucrats, historians, ethnographers, social scientists, law enforcers, retired diplomats and policymakers…set up the committee to conduct a gigantic survey of the current ethnography and urban mythologies of a country on the brink of great hormonal changes.”

The “Harappa findings” are made public in subsequent pages, in flashes of illustration and commentary, most two or three pages long. Some of them contain slices of life from a less momentous age. Bureaucrats are represented by gargoyles; “self-taught chemists” selling cures for the eczema caused by terylene shirts are memorialized briefly; we recall a time when “we knew what the capital of Tonga was and how many medals Nadia Comaneci won at the Montreal Olympics”.

Some look forward. File #0491 / 11C / Nano conjures up visions of a Delhi saturated with so many cars that pedestrians “can finally cross the road” when the jam ceases to move.

The Greater Harappa Commission notwithstanding, the “findings” in this book are presented entirely in Banerjee’s trenchant voice and visual vocabulary. The stories here are succinct and often funny; but most also resist the temptation of the anti-climactic sting, or the single payoff line or panel that might make them slapstick.

The most refreshing thing about The Harappa Files is its format, which offers many opportunities for readers to return to it, dipping into a story or two at a time, lingering over favourites. It will feel like holding a commonplace book—certainly in the medieval sense of the term, as a scrapbook of memory, fact and aphorism, but also literally, as a book about the commonplace.

Banerjee has a wicked eye for the ubiquitous visuals of life in Delhi and Kolkata, so often representative of other parts of urban India as well. There is an awkward vibrancy to the way his characters are drawn. Like their surroundings, in schools, government offices and yes, the homes of the bourgeois, their beauty is complex and ungainly; it coexists and melds with their ugliness, their indifference, their sense of semi-permanence.

Banerjee draws these imperfections without caricaturing them, and his colouring expresses their mood near-perfectly. Sometimes in black and white, sometimes in cool, solid colours, each piece of art acquires depth and clarity. In File #6851 / 5M / Jessie, Banerjee depicts the scientist J.C. Bose, who demonstrated a wireless telegraphy experiment in Kolkata years before Marconi, but lost out on a Nobel Prize because bureaucratic delays prevented his discovery from becoming international news in time. He is looking, Banerjee says, “at two fornicating ants, wondering whether to cremate the pair with his magnifying glass or let his good upbringing come in the way”.

There is a poignancy to the tea-stained sepia illustration of the great man, and to the nonchalant absurdity of Banerjee’s text, that no middle-class revolutionary can adequately convey.
Click to read more.

Graphic novel set in Portland sends young readers back to the Ice Age to learn about the Missoula Floods
Anne Saker
The Oregonian

On family car trips back and forth from Portland to Montana, David Shapiro told his little boys stories of a great wall of water that crashed through the Northwest a long time ago.

A naturalist by inclination and education, Shapiro figured that his children could not be the only ones fascinated by the Ice Age tale of the Missoula Floods.

But Shapiro wanted to put the story in a genre where kids could "see" the floods that carved the Columbia River gorge. He blended Portland's DIY culture and its natural surroundings and hired two artists to write, illustrate and self-publish a graphic novel – a format "to make the material more fun and engaging" for a generation more familiar and even more comfortable with computer-driven creations than the eons-long story of natural history.

"Terra Tempo: Ice Age Cataclysm!" does just that. In its 140 pages, three young Portland friends discover a mysterious gateway for time travel on Council Crest. Jenna, her twin brother Caleb and their buddy Ari zip back 15,000 years to confront short-faced bears, saber-toothed tigers, woolly mammoths. Ultimately, they witness a booming crack at glacial Lake Missoula that triggers the massive flood.

For a touch of magic realism, the authors bring in a Thunderbird, a mythological creature of the Northwest's Native people. The gigantic bird allows the three time travelers to hitch rides over the vast landscape to witness the changing earth. Jenna, whose flowing red scarf is almost a character on its own, names the bird Yakima.

The authors say, "Yes," the next "Terra Tempo" story will have dinosaurs.
Click to read more.

Vankin Tours the LA Nightlife with "Poseurs"

Kevin Mahadeo

Celebrities, extravagant parties, high-end clubs -- the Los Angeles nightlife definitely serves as an exciting, glamorous and sometimes downright seedy backdrop for countless tales across all sorts of mediums. And while "Poseurs" also employs the LA lifestyle as its setting, the Image Comics published graphic novel provides a whole new perspective on it all since writer Deborah Vankin spent years of her life immersed in that world as a reporter for countless news publications.

Written by Vankin with art by comic veteran Rick Mays, "Poseurs" follows three different youths who looking for their own sense of identity and place while caught up in the Los Angeles party scene. Currently a staff writer for the "Los Angeles Times," Vankin has acted as an arts and culture reporter for the past 10 years. Her background and experience in the area gave her a unique viewpoint for the "party-noir" graphic novel, which hits stores this week.

We caught up with Vankin while she took her dose of after work coffee to talk about how she got into comics, reality versus fiction and her enjoyment in breaking the fourth wall.
Click to read more.

The Eternal Descent of crime noir and Obamacare

Here's an update for page 46 of Tomb of the Undead, which I hope you'll check out and enjoy.

Evelyn tries to soothe Miller while he feels pressure from the consequences from his actions.
When I decided on using the window as a light source, I wasn't sure how dark it was going to make the rest of the plane, but I think the shading has worked out nicely. It isn't too distracting, and it really gives a feeling that Miller is trapped in the dark, or perhaps is hiding on the plane, from the pressures and dangers that are resulting from him running to Mersailles on the museum's dollar.

Anyhow - I hope you like it.

Graphic novel news
There's more political graphic novels coming through the pipes - including a story about an MIT economist interested in authoring a graphic novel about Obama's health care plan. I found a photo to include, though I'm not sure if it's friendly to the ambition or not.

On a lighter note, I think I found a heavy metal band's graphic novel about themselves (I'm not sure) and a really neat "film noir" style comic that looks really interesting, too.

MIT economist writing Obamacare graphic novel
By Will Rahn
The Daily Caller

Jonathan Gruber, an economist at MIT, is planning to write a graphic novel about President Obama’s health care overhaul, the Boston Herald reports.

Gruber, who holds degrees from both MIT and Harvard, helped craft then-Governor Mitt Romney’s health care policy in Massachusetts. The book, tentatively titled “Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How It Works,” will be published by Hill & Wang.

“I’m going to use the facts to tell the story,” Gruber told The Herald. “I’m the narrator guiding the reader through the law. It’ll have lots of pictures and text.” He says that he originally turned down Hill & Wang when they first pitched him the idea, but later agreed to write the book after his family convinced him that too many people did not understand the bill.

Even opponents of Obama’s health care law think that Gruber was right to change his mind. “I’ve got to hand it to him,” The Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon told the paper. “It’s a brilliant idea.”
Click to read more.

Eternal Descent Graphic Novel Edition Announced – Presales Available
C.W. Ross

London, UK – The Eternal Descent Graphic Novel Volume 1 is now available for presales worldwide.

In a city where lost souls lurk in every shadow and darkness veils sinister designs, heavy metal could be the key to salvation…or the gateway to destruction! A fallen hero, a twisted demon, one gorgeous succubus, and an army of chart-topping guitar heroes: the pieces are in place. The Descent begins!

Featuring guest appearances from Atreyu, Firewind, God Forbid, Static-X, and Shadows Fall, Eternal Descent offers a radical new take on the metal genre, presenting iconic guitarists Gus G, Wayne Static, Dan Jacobs, and many more, as you’ve never seen them before! Volume 1 of Eternal Descent collects issues 1 to 6 of the comic book into a Graphic Novel edition with over 30 pages of bonus content and exclusive digital downloads – including unreleased mp3 and video content.

Eternal Descent directly involved numerous rock and metal guitarists in the creation of the series. Wayne Static of Static-X had this to say about his role in the Eternal Descent comic book: “This stuff is over the top, bursting with energy. Eternal Descent gives me the ultimate opportunity to be more than human.” Gus G of Ozzy Osbourne/Firewind states this about Eternal Descent and his character in Issue #3: “It’s incredible! That’s what being a comic hero is all about: Having supernatural powers and looking perfect!”
Click to read more.

Vertigo's NOCHE ROJA Takes Crime Noir South of the Border
By Vaneta Rogers

For writer Simon Oliver, his experience living in Honduras and his interest in the U.S./Mexico border became the ideal backdrop for his latest project, the Vertigo Crime book Noche Roja.

The original graphic novel, which comes out later this month, has already won rave reviews from mainstream book critics for its gripping, crime noir style. Featuring gritty, stylized artwork by Jason Latour, the book follows a hard-boiled private detective as he reluctantly investigates a series of brutal murders in a Mexican border town.

Born in the United Kingdom, Oliver came to the U.S. after living for years in Central America. Best-known to comic fans for his Vertigo series The Exterminators, Oliver brings his own experience and interests to Noche Roja, giving the story a brutally realistic view of life South of border.
Click to read more.

Enthusiasm for John Lewis's civil rights graphic novel

I'm a little behind on updating for the graphic novel, but here's an update for page 45. To read more of the scene, of course, you can just follow this link.

I had a helluva time trying to draw that airplane. They're tricky to draw well - and you could certainly argue that I didn't draw it well even after all the time I put into it. I had some fun with this scene on the airplane, too. There's a joke coming up in a few scenes where it'll probably pay off a little better.

But, a few passengers on the plane may resemble characters from Lost (to the best of my ability). You can really only see the Iraqi assassin in this image, but by eventually there will be more of an opportunity to see the other characters. Just an Easter egg, I suppose. (PLUS, it's almost Easter!)

Graphic novel news
In Daytripper's review, we'll find out what Kenny McCormack from South Park does when he grows up and get's a job as an obit writer in Brazil. Rep. John Lewis commissions a graphic novel about his "involvement" with civil rights, specifically on being beaten as a young man by state troopers in Ala. And I've drummed up an enthusiastic Lewis fan who'll buy the comic no matter what. Enjoy.

Daytripper: wrenching existential graphic novel
Cory Doctorow

Daytripper collects the full run of award-winning Brazilian comic-creating twins Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon's acclaimed graphic novel. Daytripper is the story of Bras de Oliva Domingos, the son of one of Brazil's most treasured writers. Bras aspires to write novels, too, though the closest he manages for some time is a job writing obits for a daily newspaper.

Daytripper tells Bras's life story through a series of vignettes, and at the end of each one, Bras dies, usually in some horrible, tragic fashion. And then the next installment begins, and Bras is alive again, and his terminal accident never happened, and his life proceeds.

With each iteration, Bras has the chance to come closer to doing the right thing -- for himself, for his lovers and friends, for his family, for his son -- and with each turn on the wheel, Bras learns something new.

This existential device works extraordinarily well, making for a story that grows progressively more moving with each chapter. Somehow, the impacts of the inevitable deaths are never diminished through repetition, but rather increase in their tragedy.
Click to read more.

Rep. John Lewis to write graphic novel on civil rights
By Catalina Camia,

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., center, will write a novel about his experiences in the civil rights movement.

As a young man, Lewis was beaten in Selma, Ala., on the day in 1965 that has become known as Bloody Sunday. Marchers were on their way from Selma to Montgomery when Lewis and others were beaten by Alabama state troopers on the Edmund Pettus bridge.

Top Shelf Productions will publish the novel, called March, in 2012. Top Shelf, a graphic novel and comics publisher, said the agreement with Lewis is a first for a sitting member of Congress.

"It is not just a story of struggle; it is a story of involvement," Lewis said in a statement posted on Top Shelf's website. "It shows the ups, the downs, the ins and the outs of a movement."

Putting Lewis' story in the form of a comic book will help educate a new generation about the struggle for civil rights, said publisher Chris Staros.

Lewis, 70, was first elected to Congress in 1986. Later this month, he is slated to receive a Medal of Freedom -- the nation's highest civilian honor -- from President Obama.
Click to read more.

My Head May Explode From the Sheer Awesomeness of This
Stephen Saperstein Frug

John Lewis -- former head of SNCC, participant in the Freedom Rides, and, for the past twenty-five years, a member of Congress (from Georgia) -- is one of the few people I can think of in American life that I would unhesitatingly and unabashedly label a hero.

For those of you who don't know, he was at the center of the Civil Rights Movement in its key years in the early 1960's -- a participant at the lunch counter sit-ins in the early 60's, a freedom rider, head of SNCC, (and) a speaker at the 1963 March on Washington where King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

Now, I will admit that my confidence that it will be good is very low. Lewis is a fine writer of prose, but writing prose is a very different task than writing comics -- and most writers of prose who try to make the transition do a poor job of it. Writing a comics script is as different from writing prose as writing a play or a film script is: it requires a real understanding of the medium. If you just think that you've written books, you can write a graphic novel, well, you're wrong. It's not just like writing a book with pictures.*

Nor am I encouraged by the fact that Lewis's co-author, Andrew Aydin, is a member of his staff -- that is, someone who is primarily engaged in politics. Presumably Lewis can tell his own story, after all; what he needs for this project is someone who can help him tell it in the medium of comics.

[...] even if it doesn't work, y'know what? I'm there. I'm reading it. Because even if it isn't a fabulous artistic production, I'm sure it will be very interesting, and have some insights into a key period of history.

And besides, John Lewis -- John !!@#$%ing Lewis -- is writing a !@#$% graphic novel. It's had to get more awesome than that. In this matter, quality is would be just a bonus.
Click to read more.

Reviews of Cross Game, Daytripper and writing tips

Here's the third page of the next scene, All in, and the last page of Act I for Tomb of the Undead. I'm pumped that we've finally come this far. Forty-four pages is a significant achievement, and I think you should go back and re-read the whole thing to get a feeling for the characters, the plot points and the effort that I put into this.

Plus, it'll be fun.

Graphic novel news
Writing your story for a graphic novel
James Aric Keith

The actual writing
Now that about a week or two worth of planning is out of the way, you should be able to run through your story with ease. You already know what all of the plot points are. You should not encounter any blank page syndrome or writer's block because you already have a plan all the way to the end. And most importantly you should already have that all important connection to your characters.

So the next thing, and it has already been mentioned, is to create your character sheets. Which means you should know their back stories. Why they are like they are. Your characters could explore this in side chapters in your story. Or there could be room for a spin off sequel when this graphic novel is finished. If your story is involved enough, you should be able to think of your core characters as you friends.

I remember reading about Jerry Jenkins, the writer of the Left Behind series, saying that when he started killing off the main characters, it felt like his friends were dying. Because he had lived with these people in his head for all of those years during his writing of the series.

That is where you will need to be. If you want you characters to be memorable, that is.

Build strong characters.

Now I don't mean they all have to be Superman. That was not what I meant by strong. In fact, in most graphic novels these days, the main character has so many flaws, you wonder if they will ever amount to anything. But, create reasons for those flaws. Don't just say they exist because that's the way he/she is.

In my story, The Unbeaten Path, William Barcho is a brilliant scientist who experimented with using electronic scanning to try to "see"other dimensions. But, he woke something that our dimension isn't supposed to even understand, much less even be able to see. That something attacked his family on a fishing trip and sank the boat. Killing all but he and his daughter Meegan. Meegan is now confined to a wheel chair. He blames himself. Psychologically, he is completely broken. He is Obsessive Compulsive and is living in seclusion on the Nevada desert keeping himself and his daughter alive with a garden that he tends according to his Lakota upbringing in the "old" ways.

He is not a main character. Although he acts in a mentoring archetype, he actually ends up being a unwilling trickster archetype in most of the story, because of his unwillingness to confront, or allow anyone else to, the creature he unleashed. Another of my stories that I would love to see in Graphic Novel form!
Click to read more.

Daytripper - graphic novel review

How do you measure a human life? Is it by weighing your list of accomplishments or recognizing major events as well as the moments that may seem insignificant? Perhaps it is all of these things and as we can see in Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba’s Daytripper – a graphic novel that celebrates life’s big moments as well as the little moments that are just as important but also recognizes death as a part of life.

Daytripper introduces us to Bras de Oliva Domingos, son of a famous Brazilian writer and something of a writer himself since he pens some genuinely touching obituaries for the local newspaper in Brazil. Called the “Little Miracle” by his mother due to an event that took place during his birth, Bras finds himself thinking of ones mortality. On the evening he was attend a gala in his father’s honor, a stop to a nearby bar results in Bras’ death by the hands of an armed thief.

Yet this is not the end of the story for Bras’ life is filled with life’s little and big moments that keep including death. We find Bras in his twenties as he and his closest friend, Jorge, take a little trip to the beautiful city of Salvador where he meets a gorgeous and voluptuous woman named Olinda who he instantly attracted to and spends a memorable night with in this beach-side paradise. It is that same Olinda that a few years later breaks his heart by storming out of his place. A year later, however, Bras finds love again while getting his morning coffee … and finds death again crossing the street after deciding to go back and talk to the beautiful woman that caught his eye.

Life takes another turn for Bras as he and the same woman he met in the café is expecting their first child only for Bras to miss out on his son’s birth returning home to get something his wife requested. Unfortunately, the day of his son’s birth is also brings with it the death of Bras’ father. The young man looks back on his childhood as the family often took trips to their kin’s cottage when Bras’ father would use as the perfect opportunity to write. It is in one of those trips that young Bras experienced his first kiss under the winding roots of a tree with a pretty half-cousin.

Then there’s a defining moment in Bras’ career with a commercial airliner crashes at takeoff and pushes the man to write several obituaries for each confirmed passenger from the flight. Not only is it beautiful stuff but it inspires him to write his first novel that becomes a success. At last, Bras feels like he has caught up with his father. Unfortunately, the book tour takes him far from his wife and son who miss him very much. On top of that, his best friend disappears only to be discovered in a rundown shack in a bad mental state.

We finally reach the end of Bras’ life as a gray-haired Bras returns home after getting bad news from his physician. Bras isn’t afraid of what awaits him … he never was in the many death we see through his eyes. The fact is simple: one experiences life and takes in all the things it has to offer. There are good moments in our lives and bad ones but they are a part of the big picture that makes up our existence.

Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba paints this big picture called life in a way that you can feel what Bras goes through and relate to his ups and downs as well as the emotions that come with it. It’s a powerful thing for a graphic novel to make you feel and Daytripper does it so effortlessly. The art is also considerably impressive and just as expressive as the writing itself. Even Dave Stewart’s coloring is perfect enough that it compliments every panel to make this a beautiful-looking graphic novel.

Daytripper is as big and as meaningful as the story of Bras’ life and it will not fail to make us think and feel and wonder, which is a rarity within itself. With magnificent storytelling and artwork that is equally stellar, this graphic novel is easily one of this year’s best graphic novels and one that should be on anyone’s list regardless of your favorite genre. This is storytelling at its more perfect and I cannot recommend this one enough.

Click to read more.

Cross Game graphic novel vol. 1 by Mitsuru Adachi

Dennis Amith

Mitsuru Adachi is one of the most highly respected mangaka in Japan.

He is also known for his manga that revolves around baseball and high school/grade school crushes. But Adachi’s most famous work is “Touch”, a baseball/romantic comedy and a winner of the 1983 Shogakukan Manga Award (his second consecutive award a year after his highly successful high school romantic comedy manga “Miyuki”).

The manga series for “Touch” was award-winning, the anime series is one of the highest-rated television anime series of all time and it was a story that literally made audiences cry as it featured a story of friendship, tragedy, loss, inspiration and hope.

Adachi would go on to feature other stories that revolved around other sports but one wondered if he would return to baseball (which is a very popular sport in Japan) and in 1992, Adachi would write a baseball-related manga series titled “H2″.

Over 13 years later, fans continued to clamor for another baseball-themed anime series and Adachi would return with the manga series “Cross Game”, similar to “Touch” would feature a romantic comedy that would feature friendship, tragedy, loss, inspiration and hope.

And with Adachi’s first baseball manga series “Nine” along with “Touch”, “H3″ and “Cross Game”, the goal of the baseball players and characters are to make it to “Koshien” which translates to “tournament” and in Japan there are the “National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament” held in the Spring and “National High School Baseball Championship” in the Summer.

In Japan, the final 17th volume of the manga series was released in Japan and now, “Cross Game” will be released in the US in graphic novel format (compiling several of volumes into one release). “Cross Game Graphic Novel Vol. 1″ compiles the first three manga volumes into one collection.

“Cross Game” is a manga series that showcases the development of a Ko Kitamura, the son of a family that owns Kitamura Sports, during the time he is a 5th grader, a junior high school student preparing for high school and then later on in high school.

Click to read more.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Act II, 10 pages drafted

The title says it all - true, I haven't made any updates in a while, but it's a new month, a new act, and I wasn't really at my desk for the past week. But back in the basement today working on the comic, and managed to draft (as I said) up to page 55, which is awesome. They look good, and I'm excited to get them cranked out.

Expect some updates shortly.