Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Grind On Con ON

This weekend I'll be attending the annual Baltimore Comicon and be set up in booth right next to my buddy Bret Blevins who missed last year due to his broken collar bone. I love the BCC as its just the right size and full of comic books fans who are the real fans, the readers, though you still have plenty of Cosplay and a few Celebrities. I look forward a a few days away from the board at home to sit at another board in the con drawing away, doing sketches. I also enjoy seeing a few fellow pros as I exit my art cave for a brief stint in the sun.

The current story line of the Judge has been a bit hit-literally. Seems the fans have really gotten into the whole "Death of Sophie" story line that came out of the plot I pitched to the previous writer,Woody Wilson. The story has taken a turn of the dramatic in the last week with what might be a fatal car crash for Sophie and the band. I just turned in my 9-19 week and the story continues to turn in what I hope is an unexpected and entertaining direction for the readers. Some long answered questions about the characters and locations will be revealed. So far feeling are mixed, some want Sophie DEAD, or paralyzed, some have written to say please let her live. Some say some pretty disgusting things too. However I agree with Hitchcock-
"Always make the audience suffer as much as possible."
I think he also said he thought realism was boring. Some readers really go through hoops trying to figure out things, which of course are wrong--but that means they are interested--and that's what its all about.
When Francesco took over I wrote out an A-Z outline that laid out the past nearly 7 years of plots and sub-plots Wilson weaved on the strip. This way Ces would have an idea of where things are, are not and could be. It was sort of shocked myself at all of the things that had happened--or not. One of the things I really wanted to return to is the change of seasons in the strip, holidays, etc. Otherwise things just go on in a very weird "other world" where time does not ever really pass. This current story line with the factory and Rocky and Godiva will wrap I think by November and then we can reset for the future, maybe with the regular cast of characters, or maybe not, some things for sure will never be the same.Then Ces and I can start our run fresh from the previous story lines.
Here is the final inked strip--sans word balloons of course.

There is also an adjustment on my working with Ces' rhythm and flow as a writer and I know its hard trying to come in and tie up all the straggling plot lines. About you can see my rough layout for the coming Sunday and it was really packed too tight with copy so I sent my rough to Ces and he rewrote it to knock down the amount of copy. The Sunday strip is also very restrictive as far as format with the top two tiers fixed, only the bottom do I have freedom of panel size. I still had to drop the type a font size to make it all fit and not seem cramped.
Here is a whole week of the Phantom which was just run, sans balloons so you can see the art. I loved doing this week as I got to do some action. This story line has been great for e a honestly a break from the Judge as its adventure and I can stretch my legs. It is a lot of research on China and Tibet, old military uniforms, monks, Tibetan people, animals, temples, etc. Fantasy has to work by being based on enough reality so you can stretch it. I think some fans can be too literal minded and then anything like the Phantom falls apart right away. You want to suspend your beliefs without suspending all logic, but also you don't want to look behind the curtain.

In other news I will be a guest of honor at the Artisacon next month in New Jersey. Its a weekend show in Burlington Lyceum where many to pros and local artists like myself will conduct demos, do portfolios reviews and more. A great opportunity for those looking to get one-on-one tips from industry pros like myself. I'll have more of an update soon about my appearance.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Summer Heat

Summer has pretty much cooked off here in the studio, literally so in the past few days with temperatures with a heat index of 108-112 degrees. It has been so hot I was forced to put in my second air conditioner up stairs to try and make it workable for me. Having my arm stick to the paper and the paper act like a damp cloth is something that makes deadlines even less bearable and inking suck. As a result I have been taking the afternoons off in the peak of the heat and working later in the night when the temps drop. I look forward to the crispness of fall, but honestly dread the idea of winter and snow. I can't see myself living in snow the older I get, and the idea of a sunnier climate appeals to me more and more. Another hottest year on record they say and I can believe it!

Working away and feeling a bit of strain these weeks to be honest I came to realize it has been six years since my last real vacation, and that I won't have one this year--again. I'm certain many cartoonist, or strip cartoonists feel this pain. Trying to build more time into doing the strips is a constant battle. I remember hearing a quote from the late, great Leonard Starr that one day he looked up from his drawing table and 35 years had passed. Well I am close to that very number now myself as a pro cartoonist but almost 40 since I started working in art at 15.

There are days you feel the Burn, the energy is not quick to come and those are the hard days to be sure where its habit and practice that server as much as anything else to get the job done---though I have to say this Phantom story is fun, and a lot of research.

                                                      Two more pages from the DC job

Things will be very different this fall for the first time in 15 years as I will not be teaching any classes. I some ways I will miss it and in someways I will not, it was sometimes a big deadline crunch for me on teaching days, but mainly I am just so busy now with two strips. Things have certainly changed a lot school wise and price wise in that time, some places literally doubling in price, or more. I feel for any kid with a dream, but I am less and less about the colleges and art schools and more about the ateliers these days where you can get the skills without the BS and expense. I just interviewed Jeff Watts about his Watt Atelier near San Diego for the next issue of Draw!

                                            Pencils from an upcoming Judge Parker Sunday

 Jeff has a great school and one I did consider before PAFA, but at the time I didn't want to move and like Nelson Shanks school, Incamminati, didn't offer a degree ( Incamminati does now through a local college)-- at the time I wanted the degree as I was teaching, and something you need to teach on a college level now. But I wonder sometimes how different things could have been if I did go to either of those other places or move to California 10 years ago.

So, I will be putting my energies more into focusing on new projects like getting a collection of Comic Art Bootcamp from Draw! ready to print for 2017 and another book or two including a new version of From Script to Print with Danny Fingeroth, the first version is now out of print and going for over a hundred bucks I have been told. I also will be focusing more on some personal painting or art projects I have been too busy to do. Teaching is just one spinning plate I have to let drop for now.

                                                Another week of the Phantom in progress

I have painted the least this summer and this year of any since I started school and graduated, though I am thinking about painting all of the time and want to get back to it in a big way by next year. My mind has been changing about maybe what I had originally intended to do as a painter and the fact that I am not/and will not be a full time painter and that its a real probability I will never be one.

I would have to sell an awful lot of paintings to equal my commercial income and I don't see that as a current possibility. When I was in school I thought that maybe I'd transition over, but the the financial collapse happened and the debt from school piled up too. But Art is long, so I hope I can paint into  my 70-even 80's if I live that long, and my eyes stay good, so I took that pressure off the table. I will also need to market my art maybe in a different way and the traditional galleries seem to be suffering, at least in Philly. So many things to think over and study while working away on the guy in the purple underwear.