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Comics

3

Superman vs. Hollywood Book Released

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I drew the cover art for Superman vs. Hollywood, a trade paperback with a sub-title that explains more: "How Fiendish Producers, Devious Directors, and Warring Writers Grounded and American Icon." Written by Jake Rossen, with a forward by Mark Millar, the book explores Superman's adventures with movies and television: the successes, disasters, and those that never made it to the screen due to behind-the-scenes hi-jinx. Just released by Chicago's Cappella Press, it's getting positive reviews. If you're interested in Supes or the fantasy and/or foibles of movie-making, pick it up through the Blue Moon Amazon Boutique. Update (3/18/08) There's an initially skeptical and ultimately positive review of the book, Superman vs. Hollywood for which I provided the cover. Check it out. The review links to this post. Further Update: I just received an email from the writer of the book, Jake Rossen, who's provided a link to a web site he's put up to keep tabs on all reviews and info. Read more at supermanvshollywood.com.

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Pentel Pocket Brush drawing

I finally picked up the Pentel Pocket Brush so many have recommended. I just tried it out for the first time with this drawing, a preliminary study for a graphic novel, "Spirits and A Higher Power." Poor Willie Morgan looks like he's having a bad night.

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The brush isn't as juicy as I'd like, but maybe it isn't flowing properly yet. So I ended up using more of a dry brush effect than I'd intended, but that worked to my advantage, I think, serving the material better. This kind of quick exercise helps form the look and tone of a larger work, sometimes  leading places not exactly expected. For the next sketch, I think I'll simplify even more and go darker, working more shadows on his face and clothing. Next time.

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Tzivos Hashem Kids Comics

I'm delighted that we're beginning our second year doing comics stories for the outstanding Tzivos Hashem Kids magazine. Over 300,000 copies of each issue (in English) are distributed world-wide, and tens of thousands more in a variety of additional languages are sold. This strip is one of our favorite regular projects. I'm so pleased that clients like Tzivos Hashem are choosing to use comics to communicate their important messages, in this case to interest kids (ages 8-13) in their Jewish heritage and religion, teach them about their background and where they come from, in a manner that is fun, informative and that will speak to them.

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Comics are an effective and entertaining medium. Not only do comics stand out and grab attention due to their visual nature, but because they combine words with pictures it's easier to convey sometimes complex actions and concepts to readers of all ages and backgrounds. Today I'm working on layouts for the next installment, and though I can't share those yet, I can show some art from a previous issue. I begin work on each issue with a rough layout, breaking down the plot or adapting the story into comic book pages. These breakdowns are a few inches tall, kept small so I don't focus on detail yet, but rather on panel and page composition and storytelling. It may be difficult to tell anything from my chicken-scratch, but trust me, I know what's going on there, which may become more clear to others when compared side-by-side with the completed page.

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I then proceed to larger layouts, working at print size. The  lower portion of the page was of particular interest to me, as I needed to show the hero, Joey, chasing a bunch of ice cream trucks through the city streets. Breaking these actions into a series of smaller panels, especially when followed by the larger title image, I found a fun and interesting juxtaposition. Instead of showing the whole city, which is suggested in snippets, we focus on the drama of Joey's chase.

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Between this layout stage, through the pencils and the final art stage, I changed the last panel to show better Joey's reaction, as well as the the men beginning to unload the boxes from the trucks. This also builds suspense, as one has to turn the page to discover their destination.

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The final pencils and inks are done at an enlarged size (124-140% depending on the project). Sometimes we have to finish these comics quickly on a tight deadline, and I'm feeding finished inked pages or sections to Mary, so she can scan and prepare them digitally to get started on coloring, while I pencil and ink more. Read all of the comics we've done so far for the magazine, and we'll let you know here when the one on which I'm working now is available.

2

Comics For Health

Since the Fall of 2006, we've been working on art for a sizable campaign for the National Kidney Foundation. The main portion of the project utilizes comic book or the graphic novella format as an informational tool to educate people about the diagnosis and treatment of kidney disease. For this bi-monthly series of large (2'x 3') comic book posters, I designed about ten characters (both patients and their healthcare team) who guide the reader through a typical dialysis center. I also provided art for collateral material, such as the logo, brochures, trade show displays and animation.

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I've been working with comics for over twenty years, and though I'm not that active any longer in the comic book industry, I appreciate the opportunities when I get to apply the language of comics in other ways. The use of words and pictures is a powerful and effective communication tool, and we see more and more companies turning to this approach. We're happy to see it, as we're wholehearted proponents; it's what we do! Four (of six) completed posters can be viewed here.

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Beanworld is Back!

Yours truly makes an appearance with an old photo (circa 1989 or so) at Larry Marder's Beanworld blog today. Seeing it brings back a lot of memories of good times during the early days of my career in comic books. Larry and his wife, Cory became good friends, and I developed into quite the Beanworld fan.

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What a joy it was this past summer to discover Larry had started a blog, and that Beanworld material, both old and new is on the horizon, after a twelve year publication hiatus. Larry's been earning a living, working for McFarlane Toys all that time, but also pecking away at writing and drawing Beanworld, and now he's ready to Break Out again.

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I can't recommend Beanworld highly enough. It's cute, smart, funny, inspiring, pragmatic and a great comic. At first glance it may look simple, but there's lot going on under the surface, right before and behind our eyes with this most peculiar comic book experience. Larry's a fine cartoonist, and has created here a complex world with its own rules, his own personal myth. Reading Beanworld make me think, and want to be a better person. You can learn more at this Beanworld site, and don't forget to bookmark Larry's blog and visit often. Good to have you and Beanworld back, Larry!

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Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite

I've been working on my children's book, Night of the Bedbugs for quite some time. I made good progress on the final art over this last year, and am about to step up production on the balance of the final art, with a plan to self publish in hardcover format. Here are the pencils and final color art for page three. bedbugs_03_pencil.jpg bedbugs_03.jpg I'll be posting here more updates as progress continues.

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Who Needs Proof?

I've been reading more comics again of late. I went to a comic book shop last week for the first time in over a year, and picked up PROOF #2 (from Image Comics), which is written by a friend of mine, Alex Grecian. I've seen it in some form or another over the last year and a half, from the earliest pages, pre-publication. But it's quite another thing thing to see it all printed, and so nicely, at that. This is one fine book. proof.jpg PROOF is John Prufrock, otherwise known as Bigfoot. He works for The Lodge, an underground U.S./Canadian cooperative which protects mammals and other weird creatures from each other. In this first story arc, "Goatsucker," the reader follows rookie Lodge agent, Ginger Brown as she meets her new large, hairy partner, as well as other members of the lodge, including faeries, jackalopes and dodos. They team up in their inital case here to deal with the goatsucker itself, Chupacabra, or Mexican Bigfoot. This comic is creepy, humorous, thoughtful, and tons of fun to read and look at. Grecian and artist and co-creator Riley Rossmo are enthusiastic collaborators, giving readers plenty of bang for the buck. The stories and characters and the world they inhabit are dense and well thought out. The art is unique, rough, experimental, and pulls you in. A myriad of facts, asides and musings are interspersed throughout in the form of pop-up Cryptoids, a clever device that adds depth and insight, slowing the pace down nicely to avoid a too-quick read. If that weren't enough, each issue features a back-up that's integral to story, and there are many pages of articles, essays and letters to round things out. Rossmo's art is lively and organic. Though stylistically different, he reminds one of a young Paul Pope, experimenting from one style to the next, not letting anything slow him down. Energetic and prolific, he makes this fellow artist jealous. As for the writing, Grecian knows what he's doing. These two together are passionate about PROOF, are well ahead in terms of production and are ready for the long haul. A great thing about this book is that one can read it lightly and just for fun, and it works well in that vein. But if one wants to dig deeper, there's a lot going on under the surface that become more clear upon multiple reads. For example, let's examine Prufrock's name. Taking its cue from an early T.S. Eliot poem, we find that character feeling alienated and disappointed with the society in which he lives. No doubt our Bigfoot hero feels like he doesn't fit in. He may be a mammal, but not one of us, so provides a no-longer-missing link between humans and the other creatures you'll find in this fascinating world. There's a bunch more I could write about, but the highest compliment I can pay these guys is that for the first time in a few years, PROOF has me eagerly awaiting a monthly comic as its released. I've read issue #3 and could easily request more in advance from Alex directly, but I want to go on the ride with everyone else. So I've subscribed through heavyink.com. It's totally worth it. You want proof? Pick up the comic, too. Third issue is due December 27th.

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