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Archive for January 2009

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Comics for Jewish Kids: Chanukah

We're now into our third year of a comics series for Kid's Zone magazine which is becoming more and more fun as we do it. The scripts we're getting are even more inventive and refined than earlier stories, taking advantage of what can be done with comics. In this Chanukah story, I got to draw an old talking tree and a talking candle. Fun! Read the whole story (and the rest of the series) at our Prime Projects section of this site, and learn more details of the comics and creative process in previous posts.

All these comics I draw the old-fashioned way by hand, then they're scanned and colored digitally. The line art is converted into paths and shapes with Adobe Illustrator (rather than Photoshop) so Mary can color away. One she's done, I tweak the color here and there and do all the lettering and word balloons with a font based on my comics lettering style, which means it ends up looking just as if I did it all by hand. It also gives us more freedom and options in making changes to the art or dialogue. Even though we've streamlined the process to be quicker, cleaner and more effective, I'll soon be experimenting to simplify the process further, about which I'll write about here. Stay tuned!

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IRREDEEMABLE from BOOM! Studios

It's just been announced at the BOOM! Studios site that my long-time pal, artist Peter Krause is making his return to a regular comic book series With IRREDEEMABLE, a superhero book written by Mark Waid.

Pete and I have been storyboarding buddies here in the Twin Cities for quite some time, but after a decade of that it looks like Pete's gotten itchy to do comics again. Pete's got a naturalistic drawing style, with a fine eye for subtle expressions and actions, but he can also pull out the stops for dynamic hero stuff. And his storytelling is spot-on and solid regardless of the genre. Now teamed with Waid's writing, I'm really looking forward to IRREDEEMABLE. Check out more preview art for the series on Pete's blog, then order IRREDEEMABLE in advance so you don't miss an issue.

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Number Crunchers

My best friend in kindergarten lives 5-10 minutes away, even though we grew up in another state. For several years now I've done illustration work for him, a prominent accountant who does business valuations. In an industry he and his partner view as staid, they like to mix it up and have a little fun in their ads and mailings. That's where I come in.

I did this sketch last year around this time, but it was shelved when we went with another concept. Last month when the time came for their next ad, we dusted off this concept. I gave them robo-boots and gloves to become Super Number Crunchers and help their ad stand out.

Going to final art, I changed the pose on one of the characters to face him more directly to the viewer, and improve spacing and composition. I also enjoyed messing with some new textures in Adobe Illustrator.

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Inauguration Day 2009

I'm so proud of our country every inauguration day, especially stirring with the peaceful transition of power. I love the pomp and ceremony blended with substantive political change, the sense of renewal. It might not have happened had George Washington not set the precedent:
...It was a rare moment in history. In London, George III questioned the American-born painter Benjamin West what Washington would do now he had won the war. "Oh," said West, "they say he will return to his farm." "If he does that," said the king, "he will be the greatest man in the world."
He broke the mold, then Lincoln fought tooth and nail to keep the Union together, paving the way for today. Wow. Blog nod: Ann Althouse

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MLK Day: Content of Character

I did this magazine cover in 1990 when I was reading up on and learning a lot about the civil rights movement. What appeals to me most about this great (but flawed) man is his incredible stoicism and patient strength. Jackie Robinson had similar qualities. How they (and so many others) could endure what they endured I'll never know.  But it was an integral ingredient for non-violent protest, which King adopted as the main strategy for the civil rights movement. He knew it could work within a moral (though tainted) society which followed a rule of law, as Ghandi did with the British government in seeking independence for India. The method doesn't and can't work otherwise, as much worse will happen to you than being thrown in jail. He worked within the system, using it against it self, for the betterment of us all. MLK Day is a good idea and well deserved, but kids today are taught in school about King every year, for long periods, sometimes to the detriment of other important figures in the history of America. It seems we've over-corrected a bit in trying to right a wrong, so have to work to make sure the founders (great men, also flawed) still get their due, too. Our kids deserve a balanced and more complete sense of how the U.S. was founded, has endured and has grown to be more perfect along the way. Sometimes I think an important part of King's message is lost or at least obscured. In his most famous speech, he said:
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
We're not there yet, as his message has been co-opted at times by lesser leaders since. But perhaps tomorrow is another step in erasing the racial lines. U2's song in tribute to King, Pride (In the Name of Love), has gotten a lot of attention since they introduced it almost twenty-five years ago. They played it to a huge crowd on the Mall yesterday. But I always loved another from the same album, their MLK.

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More Lobo

I found in the files a couple more con sketches of Lobo, from a few years later.

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Lobo Sketch

This is a sketch from years ago when I was more of a regular on the comic book convention circuit. I guess Lobo was popular back then, but I didn't read any of his books, even when I got comps from DC; not my cuppa. But I like his look, which is reminiscent of KISS, and his dog's cool too. As usual for my con sketches, it was done in black markers on colored paper, with a little colored pencil thrown in, topped off with white out. The texture of the paper gives it a slight look of canvas.

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Star Wars According to Clueless

Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it) from Joe Nicolosi on Vimeo. Blog nod: James Hudnall.

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PROOF Short Story: Lodged

Last month I completed my seven-page story for the Image comic, Proof. It's called Lodged, to appear in issue 16, on the stands in just a couple weeks, January 28.

The covers to issues 16 and 18  by artist Riley Rossmo.

Stop by your local comics shop to pick up a copy with my first comic book work in over a decade. Or, order a copy online at heavyink.com, though it'll probably arrive in your mailbox about a week later. Proof's a great book, Proof being Bigfoot in a suit, and it's a super time to hop aboard if you've missed it so far. The first two volumes set up the series characters and conflicts, and issue 17 will begin the fourth story arc which delves into Proof's intriguing past. Read my previous Proof posts here.

Come on, if you're not already, read Proof. You don't want to disappoint the ink monkey.

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Wanting and Having: Wacky Old Bony Legs

In 1970, while Christmas shopping with my Mom in downtown Chicago, my eyes spotted a crazy-looking battery operated horse by the name of Wacky Old Bony Legs. I was instantly besotted and obsessed, which must've been apparent to my Mom, who took note. Little did I know that began for her a weeks-long search for the buck-toothed equine, as she learned the store where I first glimpsed Wacky was sold out. Now, I wasn't an animal or horse fan, and Wacky looks kind of stupid, but for some reason, his goofy spectacles and buck teeth, his quirky name emblazoned on the sleek red blanket, and the promise of jerky, battery-powered movement -- at my command! -- sent my six-year-old brain buzzing. Imagine my glee upon opening the sizable package to discover what I'd coveted most to receive on Christmas morn was actually in my hands. I could barely contain myself, giddy and jittery while playing with my "flat footed friend," not much interested in the remote controlled dinosaurs my brothers had gotten.  I had Wacky Old Bony Legs!

After a few days, though, the excitement wore off, it seems, and he was broken within a week. I've often wondered since just why I was so taken with this dumb little horse; it almost incomprehensible to me now. But I never forgot the desire and anticipation I'd felt over Wacky, and the lengths to which my Mom went to fulfill my most fervent desire. The experience with Wacky taught me to check myself and wait a bit when I'm excited about a new purchase. There's nothing like wanting something so bad you'd do almost anything to possess it. But there's often a letdown when you actually have it. Sometimes wanting something is more enjoyable than getting it. It's best many times for me, I've found, to establish a waiting period before I buy.  I sometimes find I didn't want a particular thing as much as I'd thought; the moment has passed.

I discovered these photos of Wacky at ebay.com, where the toy had recently sold for $10 plus shipping, and I wanted Wacky all over again. Wow, that's cheap. But I missed my chance -- it's already sold! Will I ever get another opportunity to own him? And should I begin the search? Hmm. I don't know if I will or not. But if I do track him down, it won't be because I want Wacky as much or in the same way I did when I was six. It would be to remind me of that sense of a child's thrill...and a mother's love.

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