Sunday, July 24, 2016

Back to the Sketchbook

I'm doing a bit of a rethink on my project Drown, which means going back to the sketchbook and trying to let ideas flow out. There is no particular intention with these, the idea is just to document thoughts as they come. Maybe they will lead to something and maybe they won't.

Sunday, July 17, 2016


I've hit a bit of a rough patch with the book I've been tentatively titling as Drown. There has been a lot of redrawing. Right as I near completion of a page, I will begin to feel that it is not working. I'll continue on because it's best to see a page in it's finished state. Then, when it's finished, I hate it, and I just feel like I have been wasting my time.

This page is within a section where a circus ship has been capsized in a storm and all the crew members, circus performers, and animals go crashing into the ocean. With this page, the black of the undersea section just felt too heavy in comparison to the above water section. Also, the above the water section is a little unclear in terms of what is actually happening. There needs to be a splash of some sort.

And so, the fix:

This one will rely much more on computer coloring to bring out depth in the thin clean lines.

This next draw/redraw situation is in a section where the heroic pair have been swallowed by a fish and descend into its stomach, and the problem here is the clean lines. They are far too thin and uniform. They don't really show any movement or life. On the previous page, the clean lines worked because it was crystalizing the moment of the elephant plunging into the water. This page is shouldn't be that clean though; it needs a little more action in the lines.

Which basically means switching up the tools and using a brush instead of a technical pen.

These are just two of a number of drawn and redrawn pages, and one of my brains likes to think that it is just problems with the individual pages, but another one of my brains thinks that drawing and redrawing is a sign of a deeper problem, which is that this project is currently directionless, and that the lack of focus within the overall work is seen in a lack of focus or clarity of thought within the individual pages.

I think I've jumped into this one a little too soon. I also think that one of my brains was very happy with the results of Hedra and wants to create another. That brain insists on duplicating the Hedra process, one in which I really did just jump in and start drawing, and so I felt I should do the same with this project.

However, the lesson for my brains to learn from Hedra should not be to view it as cookbook recipe template. It is simply that I should do whatever I want in whatever way I want to do it. Let the project dictate the form. Attempting to copy what was done before, even if it is something done by myself, is death.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


The development of a two page spread for my next big book, tentatively titled Drown, starting with the sketchbook page and going to the finished inks. I listened to a lot of Brian Eno while working on this.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Finished Pages

Starting putting together some finished pages for Drown (not sure about that title)(maybe Flood is better). These are really just tests to see if my ideas for how to play with and twist the 5x7 grid will work or not.

Finished page:

Sketchbook version:

I'm happy with how the paneling worked out, but unsure about the rain. I think that color will help make the page clear, but I'm also a little nervous that I might be cramming too many elements in. Complicated paneling, plus rain, plus a stormy sea, plus a mix of characters. It may all end up being noise. One possibility would be to add the rain on the computer as an after effect instead of drawing it on the page. I balk at this a little. It's not that I consider using the computer cheating, it's just that I think that there is something special about having it all done on paper.

Another one:

And the sketchbook ideas that went into it (drawn at Cambridge Common):

I made a flimsy little stencil to do the off-kilter panels (I think this is going to make laying out pages much easier):

I'm happier with this page. I think it definitely reads better and doesn't have as much of the noise that the first one had. Cutting out the backgrounds and just having the rain texture makes it read a little smoother. Still color will be important to make this one clear.

Along the bottoms of both pages, I've put in this seascape sequence (more noticeable in the second page), which I hope to continue through a number of pages, perhaps having it grow to take on another tier of panels and then another as the storm becomes more violent and destructive.

It's a start.

I listened to a lot of T. Rex - Electric Warrior while drawing these.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Drown 2

Here are some sketchbook pages with my beginning ideas for Drown.

I plan on sticking with my dense 5x7, 35 panel grid, but I want to add a few twists to it. The first idea I've had is to pop the panels out of the grid, almost like they are moveable pieces in puzzle.

I think this could be used effectively to show the world falling apart. Within this story there will be an oppressive boss who has absolute control. The strict panels will represent this absolute control, but when the control begins to slip, as other characters' rebellion becomes more open, the panels will begin to break apart, to tumble, to scatter. Eventually, there would come a point where the grid no longer exists. It has been destroyed as has ultimate power within the world.

I'm not sure of the feasibility of this. It could end up merely being confusing. It also could end up driving me crazy with the amount of measuring and laying out I will have to do to panel a page.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Drown 1

I've begun work on a follow up of sorts to Hedra. The working title is Drown and it takes place in a future world where the seas have risen and the whole world is flooded. I'm drawing a little bit of influence from J.G. Ballard's The Drowned World. I also have, of course, seen Waterworld. Though I hesitate to say that it was an influence.

The idea of a sunken world is one that has intrigued me for a while. I did some single page comics set in a sunken city back in 2008-2009. I've always wanted to continue with them, but the full story idea never really felt like it was there.

My girlfriend saw these comics and liked them, which led to her suggesting I continue in this style, which led to what became Hedra. And now I'm going to be returning to this flooded world idea.

So, here are those original comics (which I've posted before)(but here they are all together).

Sunday, May 22, 2016


My graphic novel All Star took me about two years to complete, which required a lot of focus and discipline from me. Too much I think, and when I was done, I told myself I wasn't going to do that kind of book again. It wasn't that I was dissatisfied with it, but I was frustrated by the burden that it became. I didn't want that to happen again. I wanted a healthy dose of fun in my comics.

And so there were race cars, gun fights, space ships, and rock and roll.

My mind went a million directions at once. You can pick up three of these comics at my etsy shop.

And there was this need, this feeling that I had to be cranking stuff out. I did eight conventions the year All Star was released, and I felt I had to have something new for each convention. It was good for a little while, but ended up being a little too much. There was a lot of fun, but it needed a little bit of discipline to balance it out.

Sometime last year, I settled on the idea of just one book a year. Nothing as rigid or demanding as All Star, but a little more finished than the race cars and westerns.

Hedra came out this year, and it's the book that I'll be taking to conventions and selling. I'm not worried about having anything else.

If you can't make it to one of the conventions I'll be at (MeCAF, Boston Comic Con, SPX, MICE, and possibly RIPE), you can also pick it up at my etsy shop.

Next year, my plan is to have a collection of surreal short stories put together from my collection of little Moleskines. I carry one around with me wherever I go and work on little stories whenever I find myself with some free time. I have no plan or intention for the stories. I try to do my best to leave them alone and let them find their own shape (which isn't always easy). The best will go into the collection, which I'm calling Peppercorns in my mind, but that is subject to change.

I've posted some of the shorter stories from these little sketchbooks here and here.

For 2018, I plan to have a stylistic follow-up to Hedra. It will utilize the same grid structure and will also probably be wordless. It takes place in a drowned world and is in the very earliest stages of existence.

My intention is to do a weekly post about the progress of this book, which is tentatively titled Drown. As with Hedra, it will be very visually driven, and so there will be no real "writing" process, but there will be a lot (a lot) of thumbnails. There will also be a lot of finished pages that will probably get thrown away (you can check out the Hedra kept to thrown out ratio here).

Those are my intentions.