Thursday, April 26, 2012

MoCCA

I love New York City! It's always a party. And I'm gonna be in New York City at MoCCA.

AND I just got proofs of the new minis I plan to have at the show:


High Flyer was the mini series I did right after college, and I've decided that it's time for it come back! This one's got two new big stories in it (with me chillin in barroom raconteur mode) and whole mess of little pieces of sweetness and light.

AND of course:


You gotta have that fancy footwork. All the favorites breakin it down for real.

I'll be at the Boston Comics Roundtable table (tabletable?).

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yippy yo! Boston Comic Con!

Wow, so Boston Comic Con was last weekend, and it was pretty awesome. The awesomest thing for me at any convention is meeting other comic bookers and getting to pick up new stuff (stuff that you don't find in no comic book store). There's also this other part at conventions where I stand behind a table and sell comic books to people. Oddly enough, I am much better at this selling things bit after lunch, especially when lunch includes Jameson and Guinness.

But anyway, COOL COMICS:


Geraniums and Bacon No. 6 by Cathy Leamy is great auto-bio-slice-of-the-life-comics. It's got tarot readings, drinks, bodily functions, and the dreaded question of "Did I turn the stove off?"

Wolves by Becky Cloonan, which just absolutely beautiful. It's got art of the god-damn-it variety, meaning of course, "GOD DAMN IT! How does she do it that awesome???" And it's got werewolves.

World Bestiary: A Thorough Account by Erica Henderson and CJ Henderson. Also beautiful with art of the god-damn-it variety. It's a whole pile of beautifully rendered mythic beasts. Each one made me think, "Oh, man. That guy is going into my next comic!"

She Died in Terrebonne by Kevin Church and T.J. Kirsch is awesome. It's got a little Dashiell Hammett, a little Raymond Chandler, and (maybe this is only because it's a detective story set in the Pacific Northwest) a little David Lynch. It's a totally tight story with impeccable art.

Breaking and Entering by Holly Foltz pretty much documents the coolest break in ever.

Animal Sense by Jose Luis Olivares is pure genius. I actually was at his apartment while he was making this cut paper accordion fold comic, and I have to admit that I watched him doing it and really saw just random patterns. But THEN, seeing the finished comic all folded and cut appropriately my mind was blown. The whole thing just came together beautifully. It was like when you're at the eye doctor and they're are doing that thing with the lens gizmo and they keep saying "Number one or number two?" and every single lens is super blurry and you can't see anything and then suddenly, "Number one or number two?" and you're like, "OH MY GOD! NUMBER TWO!" If that makes any sense.

AND finally...

School Pencil by the previously mentioned Holly Foltz, Jose Luis Olivares and the previously unmentioned Matt Aucoin is rock and roll. On the inside cover it tells you when it was made: April 20th, 2012. The comic con was on April 21st! How cool is that? There need to be more comics like this. Matt's also got some awesome pictures from the con up on his site.

AND there's this great piece on Bleeding Cool written by Louis Falcetti that does an amazing job of capturing what the con was like and also says some nice things about me and Dan Mazur and our little comic Cold Wind.

And MoCCA in NYC this weekend!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

ROBOTS! and Boston Comicon!


About three weeks ago, I decided to do a robot themed mini-comic. I asked a whole bunch of people I know and love to draw a robot for me. I thought I might get fifteen who were willing to contribute. Instead I got FIFTY awesome contributions!

And this weekend is Boston Comic Con and I've got this awesome ROBOTS! mini-comic that I'm gonna have for sale! You should come by (buy) and check it out! There is so much truly amazing stuff in it. I was blown away by what people sent in.

I'll also have some Battle Royale prints, and a split-mini I did with Erich Fletschlinger. Might even have some comics with dancers in 'em.

I'll be hanging out at the Boston Comics Roundtable table (tabletable?) with Dan Mazur, Dave Marshall, Aya Rothwell, and Joel Gill.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, THIS is my favorite song (for this week).

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Writing Process

Oh, my poor blog. So neglected. I know. I know, blog. It's not fair. I've been posting on that sexy little tumblr every day for the last three months. Leaving you alone, blog, unloved, unupdated. 

But you know I still love you, blog. You my sweet thing.

And here's a new post!

The Writing Process: that baffling attempt to somehow organize that thing that I call a mind into some form of coherence. But also, the wonderful opportunity to not be an idiot. In public, talking to people, I make an ass of myself all the time, and once you've assed yourself, unassing is nearly impossible. It's hard to remove a foot from a mouth (like last Friday when I called Catholicism retarded without realizing that I was in fact speaking to a real live Catholic). But with writing, there is this fantastic opportunity to put your foot in your mouth and then take that foot out of your mouth without too much awkward embarrassment or physical contortion.

My goal with writing is to just get it all out: get good stuff down, get bad stuff down, hit a high note, put my foot in my mouth, tell a joke, go for raw honesty. All of it. Just let it blurt.

I've gone through a number of ways of doing this. I used to write full scripts with dialogue, captions, staging, everything in them. Then I switched to panel lists (which was how my first book, Flower and Fade was written). These panel lists no longer contained dialogue or any discussion of angles or where characters were, but simply what was in the panel (Panel 1 - Jack looks at Jane. Panel 2. Jane is looking down. Panel 3. Jane looks up at Jack. Panel 4. Jack looks down while touching the back of his neck with his left hand.)(Ooooh. I've got chills!)(And I'm sure some of my friends are saying, "That Jack and Jane story is every comic he wrote between the ages of twenty-two and twenty-five!"). 

The method I currently use is to write in comic book form. I'll plot out the story roughly in a notebook. In the case of this book, which I think will be around 100 pages, I wrote two pages of notes. I then sit down with a sketchbook and go. I draw a six panel grid on every page and fill the panels, no thought given to layout at all. The goal is just to get the images down.

It looks like this:


I don't stop, and I don't edit. I may have a bad day. I may draw/write something truly stupid, but the goal is to get to the end. I'll go back and fix things later (and often when I go back, I won't remember what it was I thought was as dumb as the Catholicism).

I like this method more than writing scripts because when I write scripts I get lost in the words. Comics are a visual medium, and when I am writing a script I forget that. Dialogue starts to dominate and there isn't enough visual action. Writing while drawing keeps me visual and makes for better comics (and less to throw out later).

For this book, which is about small town high school baseball, I ended up with 194 pages of rough draft spread out over three sketchbooks.


All these pages were numbered and scanned. I'd like to think that there is a purpose to numbering the pages, but I think I do it mainly because I like using my little number stamp to mark the pages.

I turn the scans into a big PDF and send that to whoever is willing to read a really rough draft. I think I sent this one out to about ten people. I'll take whatever I can get in terms of critique, and my belief is that the reader is always right. So if someone says a section is confusing, that section is confusing and I need to fix it.

The central event of this story is a break in done by two high school seniors. The most common feedback I got was that the relationship between these two characters was not developed enough. I heard this from at least five of the ten people I sent it to.

Other comments were:

"There are ton of F-bombs in this."
"Where are the parents in all this?"
"The baseball sections look really good."
"You weren't kidding when you said rough draft."

The lack of a relationship between the two friends is a serious problem. It's not so much a foot in my mouth but more of a body that is lacking a foot. And how can a book walk without feet??? And I want this book to run, God damn it!

Another sketchbook, another seventy pages of draft.


I scan those pages (and number them of course) and then create a new PDF containing the first draft and the additional scenes. That gets printed up and put into a binder. The physical act of putting the pages in the binder is a part of the editing process. Some pages from the PDF don't make it. The binder is the story fully plotted. This is what I will draw finished pages from.


The purple notes are editing notes. These include comments from the people who have read the first draft as well as my own. The green notes are chapter breaks. 

And this is the first finished page:


As I said, with the rough draft I do no page layouts. It's all a six panel grid. This first page looks nothing like what the first page of the rough draft looked like.

The first page of the rough draft:


(Note the stamped page number.)

I know what you're saying, blog. You're saying, "Oh, that's nice, Jesse posted, today he is mine completely, but will he post tomorrow? Hunh? NO! He'll be posting on that little tumblr of his!"

Don't be like that, blog.

Please.

There'll always be a place in my heart for you.