Friday, June 24, 2011

Ninja Baby part 2

After writing a couple of solid plots for Ninja Baby, I decided to have another artist take a go at the concept. I found Ash Jackson through Digital Webbing, and was immediately impressed with his style and attitude.

He produced a bunch of pencilled pages which I've only recently gotten around to inking and formatting. I'm extremely pleased with the results, and the following three pages are going to be part of an ash-can I'm putting together for September:




I really get a kick out of the action and expressiveness of the characters, and the pencils were tremendous fun to ink. I'm hoping that if Ninja Baby ever took off, I'd like to have Ash on the book somehow. In the meantime, these completed pages inspire me to finish my ash-can, and from there, we'll see how far my concepts will go.

Since he's provided pencils for a couple other of my concepts (including another I'll discuss next week), I'll devote more space to Ash in the future.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Concept 3: Ninja baby!

When my daughter Sarah was a small toddler, I was amused and amazed at how she bounded around the room. She seemed to have an almost supernatural speed sometimes; I'd look away for a moment and she'd dashed off to some other part of the house without a sound. Trying to keep up with her, I joked to myself that she was almost Ninja-like, and that sparked the idea for a character.

I thought it'd be alot of fun to have a baby defending her crib (and household) against menaces using her stealth and skills. I decided on having a ghostly spirit guiding her, inspired by Sarah's Grandfather Alan. At first I figured the concept might work as a children's book, but over time, developed it as a potential comic book.

Ninja Baby is a good example of a potentially fun concept that could work for all-ages. Kids would be thrilled to see a young heroine overcoming danger, and parents should chuckle at a pint-sized crime-fighter. I always thought that the art style for the strip chosen would be critical, as it is for any concept.

I hired Grant Perkins (an excellent artist from the UK, more on him in a future blog) to take a stab at it. He produced a few pages which were interesting, but I wasn't sure they fit my vision. I started coloring his work to see if I felt better about it. Here are his first pencilled pages that I worked on and adapted as a potential webcomic.

Although his pages are very fun, I felt that a softer, less stylized approach might be better. Next blog will discuss how I proceeded with this concept.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Slam McCracken... to be continued

The above shows my thumbnailing process for Slam. I tend to scratch out tiny drawings and jot down notes rather than proceed from scripts. I hammer out a general plot, but individual pages or sequences may shift as they're produced, which usually produces interesting results. I personally feel that comics work well when treated as writer/artist collaborations, and am not a fan of artists hand-cuffed by overly-detailed scripts. The Marvel-Method is still the best, in my book!

Here are the next two pages from the story begun last blog; these were printed in a couple issues of Comicopia, but I can't recall if the concept was well embraced there.

After my experience with Platinum Studios, I mulled over what to do next with Slam. At the time, Zuda (a branch of DC comics) was a popular competiton for aspiring webcomic artists to receive exposure. I decided to submit a polished 8 page webcomic introducing Slam, and was absolutely thrilled to be chosen as a competitor.

I came in 6th out of 10 webcomics (if memory serves, Zuda has since collapsed, unfortunately). The competition involved garnering votes for entries, which meant that certain folk could 'stuff the ballot box' to ensure a winning concept. I wouldn't be arrogant enough to proclaim that Slam was the best webcomic competing that month, but I find the overall quality of the strip was certainly top 3 material compared to the rest.

Regardless, the experience inspired me to pursue webcomics. I'd submitted to Zuda a second webcomic called Perry's Trip (which may debut on Drunkdunk in the near future), but was informed that the site was ending. My webcomics dream abruptly went on hold.

I find Slam to be a very strong concept, visually appealling and quite different from run of the mill webcomics. I've shifted my goals somewhat, and have decided to treat the story as a finite graphic novel (with sequels to follow). Once I figure out how many pages it will run, I'll have a better idea of how much time and resources will be required to get it done.

In the meantime, I have other concepts I'm working on, and I'll speak of one of those next week.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Concept #2: Slam McCracken, Hard Boiled P.I.

Slam McCracken started off as a gag.

I've always been a fan of The Far Side, and one day while doodling in my sketchbook, I drew an egg wearing a trenchcoat standing over a puddle and two popsicle sticks. I found amusing the idea of an egg detective solving crimes involving 'living' household or grocery items; the idea lingered in my brain until I decided to expand on it.

A fim course at McGill introduced me to film noir; as my idea developed I could visualize Slam (the name came pretty easily, a nod to Denny's breakfasts and egg commercials I remember fondly from my youth) in a black and white world both literally and figuratively.

Here are some early pages that were printed in an issue of Comicopia. They're pretty rough and incomplete, but give an idea of my thought process while developing the concept:

I've always loved the effect that crosshatching produces, and remain a big fan of Gerhard of Cerebus fame.

In 2008 (if memory serves), I submitted Slam as an entry in Platinum Studio's Comic Book Challenge. I was chosen as a Top 10 finalist, and invited to attend the San Diego Comicon to pitch it to judges. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to afford the flight, and didn't win.

However, the experience did tell me I was on to something with my hard boiled detective.

Next week: what happened next, and what's on the horizon with Slam