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Archive for August 2008

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Chris Sanders' Kiskaloo

I've loved Lilo & Stitch since it was released, so was pleased earlier this year to stumble upon the web site and blog the creator of those splendid characters, Chris Sanders. Here's a guy that's written and directed his original concept for Disney, and is now directing his next movie at Dreamworks, and somehow he finds time to do a weekly web comic. Sanders has been at it since late last year, and kept it up 'til he had enough to collect in a little book he's recently published.

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This little guy is Ogo the cat, one of the main characters from Kiskaloo, which contains the first two stories and a bunch of extras.  The stories and characters are charming and quirky. Sanders' line is supple and gorgeous. In his work, one can see glimpses of Charles Schultz, Bill Watterson, Walt Kelly, Al Capp and Carl Barks, but these influences show up as just echoes, and what emerges is a style all Sanders' own. The format he's chosen is square (the format to which I seem to gravitate for my own projects), somewhere between the traditional, small daily strip format and a larger Sunday funnies format. In this middle ground, he's able to do strips that are short and sweet one-joke strips, but also has room to let characters and concepts breathe and to tell larger, longer stories. For cute bunnies, vampires, scuba girls, tigers, babies, and a quest (not a quest -- a mission!), pick up this fine first volume at Bud Plant books.

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Microtek Scanmaker 9800XL

I always wait several months to upgrade on software to allow plenty of time for everyone to work out the bugs. But after having waited about nine months to take the leap to Apple's Leopard OS, I was eager to make the move. Before doing so, I've learned by being burned it's best to check that other software or hardware companies support their prodcuts in a timely fashion for a new OS. I ran into trouble with my Microtek scanner last time I tried this when upgrading to Tiger. It took Microtek 18-24 months to make available a driver that would work with OSX 10.4. Yikes! Unfortunately, I discovered this fact after the upgrade, and was forced for a year or two to keep my ScanMaker 9800XL hooked up to my old computer in another room. What a pain!  Not efficient and a waste of time. This kind of problem has driven other artists to give up on Microtek completely.

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Well, they're more on the ball this time, as the driver was made available about eight months after Apple released Leopard. That's not super-fast, but an improvement, and if you're going to wait some months for the new OS, it's probably worth it; at least, it is for me.  The Scanmaker 9800XL is a large scanner that accommodates the large comic book art I do (no more splitting apart pages with multiple scans and piecing them back together digitally), and is less expensive (now about $900.00; I paid $1100.00 five years back) than other comparable scanners (at least 2-3 times the price). It does a nice job on scans, saves tons of time given its image space. As long as they continue to improve on support, I'm going to stick with Microtek, and can recommend it.

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Sneak Peek PROOF Panel

After a couple really busy months with my regular jobs, I'm happy to have the chance to get back at work on a couple more personal projects, including a short back-up story to appear in the Image comic book, Proof. I've written here before about the early stages of the creative process, but here's the first glimpse of a finished color panel.

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I'm reminded just how much work comics can be, and while untold hours are spent fashioning what readers will absorb in seconds, there's nothing else I enjoy doing more. In this story, I get to draw a bunch of weird creatures, a couple of whom remind me a small bit of my earliest comic book work on the creator owned and self published Trollords (with Scott Beaderstadt). In a handful of months, you'll see what I mean.

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More Comics for Jewish Kids

We've completed another few installments of the comics stories we do for a Jewish kids magazine, a series which we've heard recently will continue for the foreseeable future, which is good news. Each story centers on certain Jewish holidays and the culture. One story focuses on the Four Sons of the Passover, which gave us a chance to go all super-heroic, thanks to the fun script by writer/editor Ella Broh. And another story features the star, Joey traveling the world for Shavuot to ask folks of other creeds and countries about the Torah. jcm_sample1.jpg It's funny, as I work on these comics, what gets me most jazzed is not always the large splash panels and big action, but the smalls ways in which I can employ storytelling strategies that work only in comics. For this quick series of three panels (above) a tiny superhero transports Joey from a magical time-travel land back to his grandparents' attic. Their return trip need to be treated differently than their way there, and while using as little space as possible. In a long horizontal strip and three tiny frames, I got Joey back where he belonged with simple, iconic images. It's also a treat to do these kids comics in the simple, bold fashion I prefer, rather than in a style that's over-rendered in ink or color. To compliment the line art and for a look easy-on-the-eye, Mary and I stick with essentially flat color in this case. For other comics stories, I may use another look and approach entirely. To read these latest editions, visit our Prime Projects section, open the Blue Moon Viewer, and click forward to "The Awesome Foursome!" Of course, you're welcome to read the earlier stories, if you haven't seen them before. Enjoy!  

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Bedbugs Book Progress

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Work on my children's book, Night of the Bedbugs has kicked into high gear recently, and I'm glad to be able to devote some time to it for a change. It feels great to check off more and more pages as finished. I'm still planning for the book to be a deluxe multi-media package, and began writing today another tune for the CD that will be included with the hardcover book. Below is another snippet of preview art.

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