Saturday, March 10, 2012

Big Sketches

Here's the first batch of finished sketches that will be going out with the books next week. Some Robin, some movie poster parody fun and possibly my favourite one so far, Andi chilling in a tree.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Convention season is coming up soon, and I have a plan.

I know there's all this stuff floating out there right now about creator-owned comics and people calling for the immediate stoppage of sketching the corporate icons we all hold so dear, but I'm going to focus less on the negative, and more on the positive.

I don't hate Marvel or DC. I read plenty of both. And I'm not the one to dump on your enthusiasm for their characters. If you want 80s Rogue done in my style, I'll give you the best 80s Rogue I can!

But, I'm going to try and do as much as I can to sketch independent characters, and when I'm done - I'm going to split $10 out of that $30 or $40 I make per commission, hunt down the creator and give them their share. If they don't want it, I will either donate it to the CBLDF, or pool it all in a separate account and maybe do something awesome with it at the end of the year to get more people making more Next Big Things.

It happens often enough at conventions where people say to me "What do you want to draw?" so this is where I'll get to do it. Or if someone really wants Batman, maybe I'll ask them if they want Batman and Darkblade together. Then I'll go find Thom Zahler, show him a photo of the sketch, and give him 10 bucks as thanks for creating a character that let me create that piece of art. If they don't know who Darkblade is, I'll write on the back. "Love and Capes. Check it out."

A lot of people probably won't care what I'm doing. A lot of people probably won't take the money. Some might hate my renditions of their characters. Some might not. I've already seen blog posts from some artists stating "Hey. I have characters too! You can draw them all you want if you give me appropriate credit!" Well, this is appropriate credit, right? It's a system worth trying.

A system I'm calling being Artonomous.

I don't have any conventions until April, but I'll let you all know how it goes.

If anyone wants to join in, please do! I've uploaded a nice-sized logo here you can right click, print out and stand on your table if you like.

There are a lot of us out there doing our own little thing. There are collectives. There are alliances. But still we remain fractious, and maybe a simple little logo and a mission statement is a way for us to mobilise a little more but still not take too much time away from us creating our beloved comics. As superheroes are so often heard to say "We can't take him alone, but if we team up..." ;)

I'll leave you with a commission of Catbeard the Pirate I did yesterday.

It was commissioned by the creator himself, Matt Nelson, and it's an awesome comic, and I did it free for him, as thanks for bringing something new and interesting in to the world. Let's get creative!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

No art here. Just comic thoughts.

Boy, all this 'more women for DC Comics' stuff is everywhere! I've read it all, see all the sides of the story, etc. etc. and don't have anything to add that hasn't already been said, but one thing that did strike me is what's wrong with the DC Relaunch from another perspective.

And this is all meant in a purely constructive way. I hope the DC relaunch is a success. I'm even interested in some of it. I hope, in general, it just ends up spreading the joy of comics wider, raising all boats with the tide! I really do. But I'm skeptical, and here's why...

The DC House Style.

I know DC have always had a house style, but surely, in a relaunch intended to grow readership, this should have been the first thing to go. One thing I've seen people saying a lot lately is, yes, there are a ton of female creators, but they don't fit the DC style so the point is moot. Well, get rid of the style! That's your first barrier to diverse creation right there. Not just for females, but anyone who wants to do something truly different and out there.

In creativity, more than anywhere else, you gotta take risks, you gotta go for broke, and keeping to a house style is an unnecessary restraint. Dark and gritty works for Batman, but it doesn't work for Teen Titans. What works for Superman, doesn't work for Supergirl even, and so on. Most of us have seen some of those failed pitches floating around, from Dean Trippe's Lois Lane: Girl Reporter to Ben Caldwell's YA Wonder Woman series, and I can only imagine these were passed over because they don't fit the House Style. Maybe tons of other reasons, too, I have no idea, but if you're pitching a radically different take on a character that DC thinks should only ever look one way, well... it's a long way uphill from there. It'd be like giving Jim Lee a picture of a giraffe and telling him that's what he looks like in the mirror. "Pfft. Get outta here with your crazy ideas!"

Forget breaking up DC in to statistics of men/women/minority/etc characters for a second, and lets break it down in to style. (This is the part where if I had the inclination I would do a pie chart that showed 100% Jim Lee or Similar.)

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mind that style. It would work for many a book, but not EVERY one. And yes, there is wiggle room within that style - Frank Quitely is nothing like David Finch, etc, etc. but Frank Quitely is also nothing like, say, Mike Maihack. Or Doug TenNapel. Or Kate Beaton... actually, Ms Beaton already does her take on these superhero characters that seem to be wildly popular with a lot of people - judging by how the superhero strips of hers get more widely tweeted, tumbled, liked, etc. than her more literary/historical strips. At least, they're usually only ever the ones I see. Why isn't DC offering her insane money to make them even more insane money?

Imagine a DC Comics where Morrison and Finch gave us Batman, but Faith Erin Hicks gave us Batgirl. Where Johns and Lee delivered us some Superman, but Clio Chiang gave us Supergirl. Where Zatanna was brought to us by Ted Naifeh, Teen Titans by Sarah Mensinga, alongside Flash by Manapul, and Green Lantern by Mahnke. Why is there no room for that kind of diversity??

Honestly, you could give as many awesome examples as you want for who could be doing great things for DC, but more often than not, you're going to come up with names of people who just don't want to. UNLESS they're given free reign. UNLESS they're allowed to be themselves, artistically. IF their uniqueness is perceived as a value, not a detriment. If they're allowed to bring what they offer to the table without it being re-shaped in to big boobed, beheaded bimbos!

Where is the benefit in doing the SAME thing 52 times every month, endlessly? Even Jim Carrey gets sick of being Jim Carrey, you know? Diversity is never going to happen if you sit around in your House, only answering the door to people who know to come round back, while ignoring the possibilities of opening up the front door to everyone else.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Aliceopolis - for Team Cul de Sac

Cul de Sac is the best comic strip out there. I will always have that soft spot for Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes, but for the sheer wonder of discovering something new and unique, and crazy funny - Cul de Sac hits that spot. It hits that spot so repeatedly I think I've gone crazy funny from the impact, myself.

Part of Max Overacts is inspired by Cul de Sac, and its ability to throw a one liner into not just the final panel, but EVERY panel if Mr Thompson feels like it (which he often does), usually from Dil - who could out non-sequitur Ralph from the Simpsons any day of the week (which is why I wanted to do a strip with Dil in it). :)

Anyway, this is my piece I will be sending to Team Cul de Sac. (Details here). The art will be auctioned off to raise money for Parkinson's Disease research in association with the Michael J Fox Foundation - another hero of mine, starring in the movie I have watched most in my life - Back to the Future, as well as the Frighteners, Spin City, and so much more - I cried when he walked off into Central Park at the end of Spin City. Heck, Max's school in Max Overacts is called Alex P Keaton Primary School!

I encourage any other artists here to do something for the auction too. And if you don't have the first three Cul de Sac collections already, go straight to Amazon and buy them. Consume them. Love them. Then excruciatingly wait for more. :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Major Sun Pages

So, a little while ago on this blog I showed some characters for a superhero story I submitted to Zuda. Well, since then, Zuda has stopped the competitions, and I'm kinda committed to Max now - along with some other concepts I'm researching, so Major Sun was never meant to be, it seems.

The first 8 pages are done though, so may as well show 'em, huh?


So, as you can see, the concept was that a kid inherits his grandfather's superhero legacy but doesn't quite get the chance to use it. Instead, they have to chase the dog down and, um, clean up his mess, so to speak.

Eventually, Cisco, and Rebel would have taken it in turns to use the amulet, and go off half-assedly think they're doing good without thinking about their consequences, but alas the story is dead before it ever began.

Right now, I'm sticking with Max Overacts, 'cos I really think I've found my rhythm with the gag strips.

Monday, May 24, 2010

No art here. Just Lost thoughts.

I loved the finale, and here's why:

The whole 'you're dead' thing was not a bait and switch. The clues were there the whole time. The first thing Rose says to sideways Jack on the plane in the season 6 opener was 'You can let go now' which is why both she and Bernard seemed like they knew what was going on (because they had each other in both realities the whole time).

Some people had terrible deaths. Pulled from life before they were ready, and the sideways world was great for creating real closure to everyone's stories. Everyone in the sideways world, once they had awoken to their memories of both life, and death, were at peace. Were happy with how they'd lived their lives. How utterly optimistic and wonderful is that?!?

The reason Eloise threatened Desmond becomes clear. She felt guilty that she caused the death of her son, and wanted longer with him, and was afraid Desmond would take him away from her.

Ben stayed a little longer until he could move on with Alex, and really, he always felt like an outsider to the survivors. It would have been weird to see him go with them. He had his little moments with Locke and Hurley, the two he had a connection with the most, and that's enough.

Even if you were not satisfied with the afterlife stuff, there was still a good ending for the real world. Kate, Sawyer, Miles, Frank, Richard and Claire all escaped the island. (I loved the bit with Richard getting his first grey hair. Real surprising, affecting little moment there.) Hurley and Ben lived on as the new Jacob and Richard, it was implied they sent Desmond back to Penny and his son, and they would run the island differently. Living in harmony with Rose and Bernard, and Cindy and the kids, and the rest of Locke's camp who we never saw again, but also must have still been around somewhere. We might even think the two eventually leave it themselves once no people remain to corrupt the power source.

I will always believe the power source is tied to Atlantean mythology. If you've ever seen the Disney movie Atlantis, there are a lot of similarities between the two. In that movie, the Atlanteans powered everything with a light source hidden underneath the city, that was also tied to the souls of every Atlantean. When the profiteers took their crystals, the Atlanteans lost their long life, etc. I don't need any real answers on that because they gave us enough clues to make our own.

In the pilot Locke says backgammon is the oldest game in the world, 5,000 years - to me, this is the writers TELLING us that's when the story of Jacob and his brother takes place. All the ancient Egyptian stuff is what came between then and the Black Rock. There's more fun to be had in making up that stuff in my head than being told what happened.

All that mythology stuff is not that important anyway. It was always about the characters, and the episode had enough character resolution to fill two boats. It was full of teary moments. And yeah, maybe they didn't LIVE happily ever after, but I get the same sense of peace from this finale that the characters had. No matter what happens in our lives, in death, we get to reunite with those we hold most dear.

I don't much believe in afterlifes and all that stuff, but dammit, if I wouldn't want mine to be like the one we got on Lost.

I'm not going to head out and start a religion based on Lost's ideology, of course - I'm not a complete idiot, but that makes it, to me, a deeply moving resolution.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Major Sun

So, it's done. The 8 pages are sent, and here I am, with my final character design, the titular hero, Major Sun. A character of few words, evidently.

The waiting begins.