Monday, January 28, 2008

There's a M.A.N.T.I.S. in my pantis...

There are probably five people in the world who will get excited about this:

And I'm three of them! Whoo-hoo!

Thursday, January 24, 2008


I had some downtime today at work and was wasting it surfing the 'net. A little voice in the back of head was nagging me. I felt like I should be doing something. Then it hit me. Dummy! Perfect time to get some sketching done. Usually, I'm a little shy about drawing at work because it looks like I'm goofing off. Which, I guess, I am. If I'm on the Internet, I can claim that I'm "image searching." But lately I've been doing a lot of work-related drawing (which, unfortunately, I can't share) so I wasn't too worried about it.

My downtime didn't last long so I only managed this quick headshot. I didn't have time to clean it up with graphite pencil or even fix the problems like the weird right eye. But I liked the gestural quality of it. It doesn't have that overworked feel my stuff usually gets.

This is the Grandfather character in my story. He's one of the most important characters in the story though he only really has one scene. I broke my rule again about not casting actors as my characters but in this case, it's forgivable. I've had this guy in mind since I started working the story out in my head, though only as a point of departure. I don't plan on using photo reference when I start drawing the story. I've aged him a bit here and I drew this picture from memory, without using any reference. I'm sure Leaf will be able to guess instantly who it is.

Suze and I plan to start trying to catch all the Oscar nominated films and this weekend will be NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. I wanted to see it anyway but now I won't have to talk Suzanne into it. I think it may be a little more violent than is her usual preference. Then, hopefully, it's on to JUNO and THERE WILL BE BLOOD. I'll have to watch MICHAEL CLAYTON by myself as Suze has already seen it.

That's about it for now. Have a good weekend!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cloverfield (NO SPOILERS!)

I saw CLOVERFIELD last night with Suzanne and our buddy Paul. Wow. I can't talk too much about it without ruining whatever there is to be ruined about it. I'll just repeat what Harry Knowles has said on his AICN site...ignore the hype. Everything you've read about this movie is crap. There's no big secret, no big mythology. The title CLOVERFIELD is meaningless unless it's some kind of inside joke. There's nothing to figure out. All the pre-release viral crap you saw on the Internet...forget it. Just go see the movie and take it for what it is.

Suzanne and Paul didn't like it much but I did. I thought it was one of the most amazing, clever and outright shocking films I've seen in a long time. I think they'd let the marketing B.S. sink in and were disappointed there was no payoff. I didn't let that happen to me. I've learned not to go into anything with any preconceptions. It paid off with BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and it paid off here. The first 20 minutes or so are hard to get through because the video camera conceit is hard to get used to and the setup is just sort of boring. But once the action starts, the stuff you saw in the trailer, all hell breaks loose and you get used to the shaky-cam pretty quickly. There's one scene early on that's very reminiscent of 9-11 that Paul and I agreed was probably in poor taste but was excusable in the context of the film. And there was one scene in a subway station that was personally disturbing to me...a little close to home. But that's going to happen from time to time, I suppose.

I'll post my thoughts in more detail once the film has been out for a while and everyone gets a chance to see it. I can only recommend that you go soon, while the movie is in the "good" theaters...before they bump it to all the theaters with screens smaller than the average HDTV. The sound design is very important to the impact of this movie and it would behoove you to see it presented in a theater with a good sound system.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


After weeks of frustration, I finally managed to figure out my female protoganist, Dana. As I said, I had what I wanted in my head but as is often the case, there was a disconnect between my brain and my drawing hand. So I did the BAD THING. I found an actress that closely resembled what I was looking for and tracked down a ton of reference photos. And this is the result. I usually hate it when artists use actors as their inspiration for character designs because it's usually so obvious it's distracting. But I was out of options. What amazes me most is how closely the actress resembles the image I had in my mind. The character is actually based (very loosely) on a girl I knew in high school but I only have one yearbook photo of her and, as weird as it sounds, she didn't have the right "look". After several days of running through actresses in my head, I'd pretty much given up on finding the right one. Then, by accident, while looking for something completely unrelated, I stumbled across a bunch of photos of this particular person and the lightbulb went off. She was perfect. Ten points to the first person to guess who the actress is.

I didn't quite finish this sketch to my satisfaction. I was taking advantage of Suzanne's going out with friends downtown. I seem to do my best drawing and writing at my desk at work as I tend to get lazy when I get home. I'd been working on this for about a half hour when she got back, unexpectedly early. So this is as far as I got.

I think the hair is too much. The actress actually has a lot more. But, I feel like the character would have a little less and not quite so...done up. I also didn't quite get the mouth right. She looks a little too mature here as she's supposed to be in her mid-teens. I was especially worried about the nose. I didn't want her to have a cute little button nose that everybody draws. I want her to have some character in her face and part of that includes a more prominent(?) proboscis. Not big, just different. The problem is that photography is more forgiving of this sort of thing. When you're drawing someone, any deviation from the ideal comes across as caricature. But I think I managed to give her the nose I wanted without making her look like Barbara Streisand.

I should have some time tomorrow night for another go at it.

Meantime, I've really been enjoying looking through the ESSENTIAL CAPTAIN AMERICA VOL. 4 I picked up yesterday. With the exception of a beautiful Alan Weiss fill-in, the entire volume is chock full of Sal Buscema and Frank Robbins art. Buscema has long been my favorite artist. The dependable simplicity of his artwork makes even the most ridiculous story readable. But Robbins has a special place in my heart. When I was a kid, I really didn't like his work. I found it grotesque and distracting. But, like "the Kramer", I couldn't take my eyes off it. Those wonky poses and the faces with crazy eyes and Sly Stallone lips...mesmerising. As my palate matured, I gained an appreciation for his work and he's since become one of my absolute favorites. Unfortunately, he was often paired with unsuitable inkers (like the much-maligned Vince Coletta). Which makes two of his issues in this volume such a special treat. In those issues, Robbins actually inked himself and the result is glorious to behold. I could stare at those pages for hours. All those gorgeous, lush inks slathered all over the page...oh, man. Despite the intrusive "corrections" by Art Director (and otherwise terrific artist) John Romita, who redrew a few of Robbins' faces, this volume is emblematic of what I loved about comics in the Seventies. Pick it up if you get the chance. You won't regret it.


I was robbed! Remember my American Gotham? Check this out:

Go to "prints" and click on "Paul Slater".

Just kidding. He probably did his first. Still...damn.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Scary Stuff!

Still nothing artwise to post. Works been rough. But as I was reading Todd Dezago's blog today and all the creepy stuff people were posting, I was reminded of when Mike and I were kids and the things that scared us most. I was youngest and, so, everything scared me. My parents like to reminisce about when the opening sequence to the ABC MOVIE OF THE WEEK would send me screaming out of the room.

There was this strange light effect that was part of it that looked, to my four-year-old eyes, like flaming daggers shooting at me from the screen. Couldn't take it.

Much later, when we were back living in the states, I remember being frightened nearly to death by two movies that aired on television. Well, one aired, the other was a trailer. The trailer was for a film called BEYOND THE DOOR that appears to be a cheap European knock-off of THE EXORCIST but has some really creepy stuff going on. Mike and I talked about this trailer for years and could never find the movie it went with. Fortunately, you can find just about anything on YouTube. Watch this and tell me you wouldn't have crapped your pants as a kid. Hell, it still freaks me out.

The second film was called LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH. My young mind latched onto several iconic moments from the film and that's what I remembered over the years after seeing it in my Grandmother's ancient house with no heat, no indoor plumbing and almost no electricity. I watched it in the kitchen on her tiny black and white television in between glances into the shadowy depths of her darkened hallway where the spiders that scurried around during the daytime were lying in wait for me. I had to make the journey down that hallway to the bedroom where Mom, Mike and I were staying while Dad was away in the Army. I could hear their chitinous bodies clicking away as they wove their web from floor to ceiling preparing to catch my fat little five-year-old body.

The movie stuck with me for years until it finally came out on DVD last year. I watched it in my darkened den with a fire going and the surround-sound on and boy, was I disappointed. I won't go into detail but it looked like it was made by a bunch of hippie friends between hits on the bong. Wasn't scary at all. They only thing of note about the entire film was an appearance by a super-young Gretchen Corbett, years before she would turn up playing Jim Garner's lawyer/girlfriend on THE ROCKFORD FILES.

Funny how the memory plays tricks on you.

Monday, January 7, 2008

One week into the new year and I’ve already broken my resolution.

I promised myself I would draw more. Just ain’t happenin’. I wanted this first post of 2008 to be a drawing of the lead female in my story. I’ve spent the evening starting and not finishing about 200 quick sketches of her face and it just won’t gel. I know what I want but I can’t get it on paper. Part of the problem is I’ve always struggled with every line in general but I especially have a hard time drawing women. Either the faces are too square or the noses are too long... The proportions are always wrong and always inconsistent. Another problem is that I’m basing her on somebody specific and her face wasn’t the kind of face that boils down well into a generalized graphic interpretation. Something’s getting lost in the translation and if I try to push it too far toward a realistic likeness, my style ends up making her look too masculine. I also don’t want to just give her a generic “cute-girl” face because it helps my writing when I can see a character’s face in my mind. It’s very frustrating.

It doesn’t help that I haven’t drawn anything in about a month. Whatever confidence I was building up before the holidays has long since dissipated. Between work, the Christmas shopping, the constant travelling and four straight weeks of being sick in one way or another, I lost my momentum. Around the time I was getting over a three-week long cold (not unusual for me), I acquired Dad’s stomach virus and spent New Year’s Day feeling like one of Seth Brundle’s test baboons. Suzanne spent the night nursing me through it while I shivered, delirious, in front of a roaring fireplace under three blankets with my worst fever in recent memory.

Mike always used to tell me he hated the time off between issues because if he took so much as a weekend off, it took him a week sometimes to get his rhythm back. I always thought that was strange because he was so good and whenever I got to watch him draw in person, he never drew a line out of place. It seemed to come so naturally to him. Even if what he’d drawn wasn’t what he’d intended, it still looked good. But I’m definitely feeling what he was describing and I’m very disappointed in myself. I’ve considered giving up the drawing in favor of just getting my story in shape but typing, “Wrote some stuff today.” with no drawing to go with it would make for an excruciatingly dull blog. Not that it’s a page-turner now.

I did manage to work on the Perhapanauts pinup last night but it’s still in no shape to post. It’s strange. That Nova pinup just spilled out onto the paper but I’m having so much trouble lately. I think I’m putting too much pressure on myself. I’m going to be drawing some storyboards at work tomorrow and since nobody ever sees that stuff but the creative team, I usually just crank those out no problem. Maybe that will help me loosen up. Man, I sure hope so. I'm tired of hearing myself whine.