Friday, October 19, 2012

Funding options

When I first considered self-publishing, funding sources became a priority. I assumed (naively) that launching this blog with my online 'hand' held out hoping for a donation would generate some money. This didn't transpire. I realize that folk are bombarded daily with requests for charity or demands on their disposable income (as well as the fact that promotion of STP has been so far limited). I was never completely comfortable asking for money to fund my publishing dreams anyways, and when nothing trickled in, I prepared to do things out of my own pocket.

Last week, I noted that IndieGoGo is available for Canadian projects. I've eyed Kickstarter ever since it began, but they restrict projects to US citizens (as of this writing). I like the concept of rewarding folk willing to contribute to my dream with nifty 'gifts'; I have some neat ideas bouncing around my noggin if I ever had the opportunity to try either site.

I've discussed the matter with my co-publisher, and we have some mulling to do. Funding is a powerful tool; it could either help complete material that is at a fledgling stage, or allow us to print stuff that's almost finished. We'll have to go over out list of concepts, and decide A) if funding is worth pursuing, and B) which 'baby' should be our focus.

I'm confident that if people were properly introduced to my ideas, they'd become as passionate about them as I am. Once we've decided if/when to take that step, this blog will share the details.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Moving forwards

Thanks to the assistance of my lovely wife, Sore Thumb Press is on the move! I've completed inking 24 pages of Ninja Baby and have found an excellent colorist ready to tackle the pages; it feels absolutely wonderful that one of my 'babies' is that much closer to being ready to print.

We're considering print options; I'd suggested a black and white book for traditional paper. Color does look a lot more vibrant, perhaps pdf versions would sell just as easily. Once the book is colored, lettered, and finalized, we'll make the decisions necessary to have the book ready to share with the world.

While my colorist works on this project, I'll focus on a second concept. That will involve a bit of mulling, since I have many that I'm attached to; whichever it is, the news will be broken next week!

Friday, September 28, 2012


Inking Ash's Ninja Baby pages has been much fun so far. He uses an expressive, dynamic style that suits the material well. Poses are interesting, and action sequences are really effective.

Inadvertently, a lot of 'me'  creeps into the finished pages; I add background details, trying to keep consistent with prior panels. I've started to add panels, in order to flesh out the story.

Here's an example. This is Ash's pencilled page:

This is a critical moment in the story, where the main villain is introduced. My concept is that she sucks the energy out of well-loved toys, and they turn into controllable 'zombies' as a side-effect. While inking, I decided that more was needed to show the villain in action, which would result in a smoother pace (the story now has a beat to 'breathe and create tension):

This also pushes Ninja Baby's discovery of the villain to the next page, which I find works better.

Although my drawing skills are still improving, I've always prided myself on my story-telling skills, a bi-product of my days doing storyboards (where clearly defining action and showcasing 'acting' is essential). I'm glad I'm confident enough to tinker with Ash's nice pages, and it ultimately becomes more of a collaborative effort. 

Next week: a progress report on NB 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Onward with Ninja Baby!

My wife suggested I create some character poses; not only would this result in a model sheet of sorts, we'd end up with artwork that could be reused for different purposes. I whipped up some sketches this morning, and am surprised how easily Ninja Baby flows from my pencil.

The design might still use a bit of tinkering; I'm not sure about the hair and belt, or if her onesy should have texture. Things that can be worked out at the color stage, of course.

Inking pages progresses smoothly; I'm at page 4 of the second story that will grace our first 'issue' (format still under consideration) and I really like the overall vibe. Having material directed toward really young viewers seems natural and appropriate, and my mind is whirling with which concept to focus on next.

That's it for this week, more behind-the-scenes next time.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Back on track

The Summer has just flown by.

Well, at least as far as STP is concerned.

I put aside my self-publishing endeavor to focus on commissions and entertaining kids home from school. With them back in class, and with my wife's help, I can devote time to finally getting things moving.

We've decided to focus on finishing pages for Ninja Baby, since I had a good amount already pencilled. I've inked 11 pages of a first story, and am working on the second tale right now (there's a good chance I'll add a page to the first story to 'beef' it up). 

Although I may keep material in b&w, color would be essential for web presentation or pdfs. I'm having someone tackle a sample page, and I'm excited at how it may turn out.

Once I have 24 pages ready, we'll figure out the next step. It makes sense that our priority should be having completed, print-ready work.

Let's hope I can keep up my weekly pace, and much appreciation for the comments and assistance of my wife! 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Before Watchmen

Back in 1986, I was an avid comic collector; I'd begun in earnest about three years prior, and I picked up quite a variety (hey, they were affordable back then). 

I remember when Watchmen first came out. I may have read about it in Amazing Heroes, but I don't recall being blitzed with tremendous hype about the book. I'd become a fan of Alan Moore from Saga of the Swamp Thing (ah, those pre-Vertigo days...) and made a point to pick up the limited series.

I can't remember fully how I reacted back then; I could see that Alan was doing something wild and different that comic books hadn't seen before. I was impressed with the thought and craft that went into the books, although some of the underlining themes about super-hero psychoses did bother me a bit (hey, I collected the wholesome adventures of Superman by Cary Bates and Curt Swan, ok?).

The current 'furor' over Before Watchmen, DC's latest attempt to boost dismal sales, is a bit perplexing. I'm not aware of all of the facts, but it appears to me that DC owns the characters, and can do whatever they please. All of the sudden hand-ringing over creator-rights seems a bit hollow; I doubt Alan's arm was twisted to produce the work, and I'm sure he enjoys Royalty payments from the endless reprints. 

I've avoided the teeth-gnashing at Comic Book forums. DC has managed to assemble a  solid roster of talent to create Before Watchmen titles, despite the controversy surrounding the project; that being said, I haven't picked up Minutemen, nor am I really interested to do so. It's not because I feel the original limited series is being tarnished by this crude cash grab, it's just that I feel the original work stands on its own, and a prequel is completely unnecessary.

Maybe new fans will pick up the books and discover Watchmen for the first time. I kind of doubt it, the project seems to be an attempt to attack the wallets of old-timers like myself who remember 1986 fondly.

Good luck, DC. I do hope the company remembers (before it's too late) that well-written and beautifully drawn comic books by passionate creators can indeed sell, without the need for such disappointing and creatively bankrupt gimmicks. 


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Alien: Resurrection

I stumbled across this movie the other day while channel surfing; I had memories of seeing it in theaters when it first came out, but couldn't recall if it was any good. When the credits popped up, I was surprised to find a familar name as screen-writer: Joss Whedon.

Rewatching the film, his fingerprints are all over it; a small group of hip (and visually interesting) characters struggle against near impossible odds while tossing clever and salty quips. The plot device of returning Ripley as a clone, with neat 'powers' to boot, is intriguing and handled deftly. All in all, a fun 'comic book' movie, way before the genre began to dominate steamy Summer movie theatres.

It's cool to consider how Joss paid his dues, while producing material that was obviously near and dear to him. His early scripts led to Buffy, which eventually led to Astonishing X-men (one of the finest runs on the book in its history), and ultimately the runaway success of Avengers.
I have tremendous respect for his skills and creativity.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Avengers: My review

Saw the movie this past Saturday with my lovely wife. Overall, I thought it was fun romp, my low expectations were solidly met.

Joss Whedon has always shown a deftness with dialogue and banter, and I enjoyed the character development and clever zingers. As a matter of fact, I think I preferred the quiet moments to the loud and bombastic action sequences. Today's movies approach fight scenes as a hyper-kinetic video game, which tends to get tedious. The over reliance on CGI and shots awkwardly inserted solely for the purpose of 3D were other annoyances.

That being said, The Avengers is an entertaining blockbuster; I left my brain switched off (I gave up trying to follow the logic of the plot early in the flick) and went along for the ride. Performances are great (although there was way too much Robert Downey Jr, it almost felt like an Iron Man sequel with special guest stars) and the film treats the comic book material with the right mix of awe and humour, without being condescending.

I was surprised to see young kids in the audience; although language is tame, there are intense and violent scenes that may be too much for young ones.

I had a geek moment when I recognized that deadly grin after the closing credits!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Avengers assemble!

One of the first comics I ever purchased was Avengers 221. I think I was sold by the cool cover (props to Ed Hannigan, who had an excellent design sense) which made me want to find out who might be joining this particular team. The artwork inside was clean and appealing, and the story really entertaining (Jim Shooter was on a roll at this time, and I followed the title for a dozen issues or so).

I don't think I ever would've imagined an Avengers movie as a kid; even when I heard it announced a couple years ago, I figured the logistics of appeasing actor egos and coming up with a coherent plot for such divergent characters would be doomed to failure. As it stands, it looks like Joss Whedon may have pulled off a minor miracle in delivering  a comic book blockbuster that might feel like a good ol' fashioned comic book.

On the threshold of Avengers mania, I think a loud shout out should go to the dudes behind it all: Stan and Jack. Considering the wealth of characters both conceived or put their stamp on is absolutely humbling; it always puts a smile on my face, considering a time when creativity wasn't hampered by focus groups or Twitter trends, and books were put together on the fly. 

A couple of talented guys thought it'd be neat to put Iron Man, Ant Man, Thor, Wasp, and the Hulk together to beat up on Loki, and dammit, they were right! Cheers to the Earth's Mightiest Heroes, I hope the movie kicks tail and maybe inspires some kid to think up new characters to save the day in the funny books!  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Secret Origin of DC Comics

I managed to catch Secret Origins of DC Comics on TMN last Saturday, and really enjoyed it. It was cool to hear the actual voices of some of my favorite artists; for example, I'd seen photos of Neal Adams, but actually hearing him speak is another thing altogether. Putting a face to Len Wein and Marv Wolfman was also cool.

The overview represented the 75 years of the publisher fairly and with a nice balance. Overall, the documentary touched on most of the major events of the last 7 decades; of course, moments or creators that are important to a comics fan like myself are probably irrelevant to the layman.

Seeing the early years of the company was enlightening. One of the main things I took from the film was how DC dealt with certain crisis points (ironic choice of word considering how many Crisis series they've released): whenever sales crashed for whatever reason, it seemed that daring creative voices stepped up to save the day.

The Silver Age was almost single-handedly  launched by Julie Swartz; Neal Adams and Denny O'Neil electrified the 70s; Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore's Watchmen revitalized the 80s. Stunts like the Death of Superman and Bane breaking Batman sold gangbusters in the 90s. Geoff Johns and Jim Lee have probably saved DC with the recent Nu 52 relaunch.

Comics have always succeeded based on quality; well written and beautifully drawn books tend to attract readers, rather than fair weather collectors. Sales have dwindled over the years on account of a variety of self destructive decisions by the industry, to the point where I honestly wonder if DC Comics will still exist within 5 years. Fortunately, I have my long boxes to turn to anytime I wish.

Regardless, the legacy of the publisher is certainly their iconic characters that transcend the medium. I've been a big fan of DC every since the first Batman issue I read as a youngster; I'm grateful for all of the years they've entertained me, and have tremendous respect for the writers and artists who have contributed their heart and soul to telling stories that will last forever.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Navigating the waves of 'social media' is quite a challenge. I've realized that self-promotion is essential in order to generate interest in my work, and I've mulled how to use the various sites effectively. 

First of all, I decided to move The Swap to a webcomic hosting site, which will surely get more eyeballs on it, and perhaps lead people back here. This blog will continue to serve as a platform for musings on comics in general, as well as showcasing behind-the-scenes art and concepts. 

News of my self-publishing efforts will appear on Facebook. Although I've been busy with work this year, I still cling to the hopes of having my concepts see the light of day. Perhaps if I can build solid momentum with the proper use of social media, it'll be easier to get my projects on the move.
I have a Twitter account, but wonder if it's that useful; it seems that tweets can easily be tuned out amidst the tidal wave of comments throughout a given day. Regardless, we'll see how it goes.

I feel energized by this renewed focus; using these sites properly is certainly key, I just have to find the time to maintain everything!

Next week: From thumbnail to inks

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Swap (1)

And now for something completely different.

A few years ago, I was asked to do an 8 page story for a small press horror fanzine. I rediscovered the original art when going thru my files and found that I like it, warts and all. I decided to 'fix' the art (ah, we fickle artists, always unsatisfied with our work) and rework it as a webcomic. The original plot is by Jim Main, but everything else is me.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Interlude: Style choices

I've found myself consciously (and unconsciously) influenced by many comic book artists: early in my drawing career, George Perez and John Byrne were absolute favorites; later, I discovered Neal Adams, Gil Kane and John Romita. As I got older, I found myself drawn (bad pun) to Jack Kirby and Joe Kubert.

All of these gentlemen have distinct art styles, although the common factor is an ability to draw extremely well and convey a story in an entertaining and clear manner. I've struggled to 'find' my own style; my default tends toward a realistic approach, but I tend to have a lot of fun when drawing in a more exaggerated style.

Hot off the drawing board is the above webcomic. It's a contest entry that I hope to win, since I find the concept fun and engaging. I decided to try a style that suits the quirky material, and think the results are swell.

With more drawing, perhaps I'll 'find' the style I'm most comfortable with.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Interlude: drawing fast

When I first started reading comic books, I didn't give much thought to creative teams. I did notice a certain consistency month to month, and began to recognize the work of certain creative teams. Justice League of America became a favorite title, and I appreciated the work of Don Heck and Brett Breeding (both under-rated in the grander scheme of things).

Back then creative teams would stick around for a whole bunch of issues, on account of speed and professionalism. Dick Dillen drew the same title for years without missing a beat. Jack Kirby produced long runs on several titles, some of the finest work of the medium.

Speed was achieved by having artists focus on layouts, rather than tight pencils, which the inkers would have the responsibility of cleaning up. This resulted in more of a creative synergy, and solid storytelling, not pretty pictures, was the goal. Nowadays, pencillers labour over pages obsessively, rendering every little detail and even shading in black areas (as if the inker isn't smart enough to figure it out). While artists used to produced two pencilled pages a day, the standard today is one page every two days.

Of course, it's argued that the results are so mind-blowingly amazing that the time and effort is justified. I much prefer the old days, where masters knew how to suggest, rather than draw every little detail needlessly, and comics didn't treat themselves as high ART.

My approach is this: rather than produce a tight pencilled page, I prefer to whip up a rough layout, and finalize the piece at the inking stage. Of course inking from roughs requires a little courage, since there's no 'safety net' of every line spelled out. That being said, the process produces interesting results (I often change my mind or add details at the inking stage that I hadn't considered when pencilling), and helps me draw two inked pages a day.

I've started off this blog with an example of a recent page. I hope it illustrates my point.

Next week: a spooky new webcomic

Friday, February 17, 2012

Perry's Trip (8)

And that's
where I left off. An admittedly strange and disjointed start to a webcomic, I'll admit, but I remain pleased at how I was able to rescue some rather atrocious artwork from my Comicopia days and recycle it in an interesting way.

Perry is the first character I ever created a long time ago, and I'd bet the guy will pop up again in some fashion.

Next week: A brief interlude on my artistic approach, followed by a spanking new webcomic the week after.