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Archive for February 2012

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TothPix: Clint and Mac part 4

Clint & Mac drawn by Alex Toth continues this week with some fine, fine frames, and what has now become one of my favorite Toth pages ever. Just you wait. As always, you can refer to and read the story in its entirety at Michael Sporn's splog.

Topping off page 11 is a honey of a horizontal panel. Toth arranges it this way so we can read the long name of the shop, being careful not to place anything directly in the center of the frame. This is good example of a rule of thirds composition, which artists and photographers typically apply vertically. Toby with that all-important satchel fill the right third, while Clint & Mac are cropped far left, entering frame. Despite the simple set-up, Toth achieves great depth with foreground and background planes, adding details near Toby's head, with the light post and reflections in the upper window. It doesn't seem much, but there's a lot going on here.

The lower tier of the same page shows a nice close-up of Toby's bag, another figure in deep background. In the next frame, though the principles are placed center-frame (atypically, for Toth), it works nicely and I really like the body language.
All right, here we go: page 12. It's astonishing. A self-contained page, Toth knocks this one outta the park. Just take it in, and don't worry about getting distracted with a couple poorly chosen bright colors - I blow away the color further below and really get into the nitty-gritty.


The smart design, storytelling, blackspotting, perspective and composition are even more evident in black & white/grey. The boys track Toby to the car and hitch a ride before getting bumped off in the last panel. Get a good look at how he's balanced lights and darks here - a sight to behold.


In each panel, though usually not placed middle-frame, Toth makes clear the center of interest (indicated in yellow below). Through a clever use perspective and changing POV, Toth carries lines from frame to frame, leading the eye through the page, action -by action, balancing angles throughout to achieve astounding page composition. None of these lines are perfectly vertical or horizontal, even the side of the building in frame 1. Dynamic!


In frame 1, all eyes are on Toby as he enters the car. His foot/leg jutting into the bright sidewalk catches our eye. The boys knocked out in silhouette in the foreground put them front-and-center, but not to distract us from who they're following, and to add drama/mystery. And boy, this guy knew how to draw cars!


I can't get over these two frames in the middle tier. Toth places us in the driver's seat in the car directly behind Clint & Mac hanging onto the spare, riding the bumper. The heroes, being the center of attention are not placed in the middle of the panel, but offset to the right and cropped. The main horizontal lines either lead us to or frame the boys. Beyond foreground, mid- and background, Toth further separates planes with the exhaust from Toby's car. Extending and reinforcing those lines into the next frame, the artist combines an exterior and interior shot to cleverly crop and frame the boys still hanging on to the rear of the vehicle. Amazing.

Look at any shot on this page, and you'll find no tangents - just brilliant composition and design, subtle and careful placement of elements for great storytelling and picture-making. The final shot couldn't be simpler, again with a silhouette to show the action without details of the boys reactions, expressions or potential pain. A few motion lines, a cloud of exhaust and some bouncy lettering - this is comics!

The color undermines the illustrative shot atop the next page, separating overmuch left and right, drawing to much attention to some cars center frame, and not enough of a knock out of the two boys on the right. But this is a superb drawing, the vehicles rendered in chiaroscuro fashion, and again with no lines exactly straight, even the center line of the street, which could've cut the panel in two.

The middle tier of page 13 is a sweet one with multiple planes, detail, texture and wonderful composition. He's really on his game.

And what about this shot closing the page? Unassuming, but a real winner of a panel. The POV is from behind, so the tilt of his head, hand gestures and trailing smoke tell us what we need to know about the General.
Knocking out the color and tweaking tone a bit help punctuate the power of Toth's silhouette here, the first panel on page 15. Nice profile and pipe. Note the upturned glasses, dangling pipe and collar are not in complete silhouette.

We close with a nice vertical shot of the Bookworm who'd earlier hired Clint & Mac.


Next week: The dock, a boat and the warehouse. Great stuff coming up...!

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Alphabeast: S is for Salamander

Fire Elemental!


I haven't posted any of my Alphabeasts here on the blog since I is for Imp. So if you've missed J-R, check 'em out at the Alphabests Tumblr page.

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SpongeMonkey Character Studies

I'm working on this story, see? Doing sketches of the characters in various states. Trying a different, rougher look than my last book. Here are a couple of  the SpongeMonkey in early stages of his development...



And every monkey has his boy...


The story's really coming together now. I figured out the climax last night, I think. This is gonna be fun!

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Brainy Monkey


For my next story, SpongeMonkey - a study of a Monkey in his Study.

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TothPix: Clint and Mac part 3

Making a return after a month hiatus from Toth Tuesdays due to an increasingly busy schedule, I'm picking up where last we left off, in the middle of page 8 of Alex Toth's Clint & Mac. As always, you can refer to and read in its entirety at Michael Sporn's splog.

There's this nice, large shot at the zoo in the middle of page 8, showing three main characters to the left, surrounded by an array of incidental characters. Great body language, folds and blackspotting here. A variety of textures are simply suggested throughout, including the impressionistic, Sickles-like rendering of the tress and bushes. And right near Clint & Mac, there's that turtle again...


The next page (9) is really sweet: great panel and page composition; a variety of angles; smart design, cropping and blackspotting; wonderful details on cars, buildings and inside the flat in the last frame. I blew out the color for this, as a couple minor elements were inexplicably colored a bright red, as you'll see, further below...


Toth opens the page with a wide establishing shot, the sidewalk edge creating the border of the lower left of the panel, Clint & Mac in the background on the right. It's all grounded with the solid black of the street surface. The vertical pattern on the gate on the upper right of the page balance the vertical stripes on a garment on the lower left of the page.

In these two panels from the middle tier (not facing panels), we see a couple nice overhead shots. Viewing Mac from above with his face obscured, we focus instead on his crouch and the card he's picking up. The angled of the sidewalk reinforce and carry through the angle above in panel 1. Strong shadows highlight the panel on the right, the building details picking up only some indirect light in the shadows. For coloring, it'd make more sense to have lightened the green of the truck catching light and using a mid-tone darker color in the background rather than that yellow. Ugh. The artist undermined!

Tons of detailed clutter in the final panel with various shapes, angles and  curves smartly knocked out in cool colors, Mr. Smith cropped by foreground elements, colored brightly to pop.

Smith is confronted by our heroes in these three panels forming the top tier of the next page (10). Smart composition, cropping and expression on Smith's face in panel 2. Love it!

Toth closes the page with a cool overhead of the boys and that car, the shadows of which bleed into the black of the street. Great juxtaposition of positive/negative space. The final two panels couldn't be simpler, but serve the story as we focus on the lock from the inside of the vehicle. and we see these boys so much in the story, it's nice to break things up and go with a silhouette in the last frame.

Next week: To the leather goods shop!

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LIVE from the Web, it's bluemoontoons!

I'm hitting the ground running with my new WebComics site, bluemoontoons, updating twice-weekly pages of our first featured comic, Terror Tots! This strip will run in full color for 40-odd pages before the next new feature begins. Thanks to co-creator and my pal, Len Strazewski for the funny script of our group of unique quintuplets.

bluemoontoons comes jam-packed with a full archive of 40+ pages of comics, comprised of all the toons that had been up here at bluemoonstudios.com. In addition, I've added a couple comics which have seen print recently: Lodged, a short story for the Bigfoot-in-a-suit comic, Proof by Alex Grecian and Riley Rossmo (Proof #16 and Proof Book 5: Blue Fairies); and Pippi Van Wrinkles, from the Fractured Fables hardcover book from Image.

Check in at bluemoontoons Thursday when a Tot first encounters their arch nemeses!