Sunday, March 28, 2010

Logos and Stuff

Just a few odds and ends this time. I'd hoped to have more art to post but it feels like my life has been turned upside down (again) the last couple of weeks. Suzanne and I are fine but work has been downright nasty and there have been some other things I don't want to go into online. The work thing is frustrating because I remember many times in college when our roommates or friends would claim to be envious of us art students because they were under the impression we didn't have to work as hard as the rest of the student population. I have very vivid memories of all-nighters, sick to my stomach on No-Doze and Vivarin, trying to finish my projects on time while my roommates were snoozing away, having finished their two hours or so of math homework. Those guys are now making great livings as Pharmacists and Physical Therapists, working bankers hours and spending nights and weekends with their families while Suze and I are still plugging away doing 14-hour days and having to meet unreasonable deadlines. It feels stupid to complain about our jobs while good people are out of work but I guess the grass is always greener. I should be grateful to be getting a paycheck, I suppose.

And not be a complete downer, but I heard this weekend that Dick Giordano passed away after struggling with an illness. I can't say I was a raving fan but I did like his work and could always spot it a mile away. He was a giant in the industry and I was too intimidated to say hello at conventions. That's something I regret because he seemed to be a very nice, approachable man. My sincere sympathies to his family, friends and fans.

Last post, PJ mentioned wanting to use Mike's LOST character drawings for a post about the show but not wanting to presume. PJ, it was very nice of you to wonder that. All I can say is that I don't think Mike would have minded. He probably would have been flattered. So please feel free. My only concerns with people using Mike's work is that a) folks don't try to pass it off as their own, b) if any money is to be made as a result, I would hope it would be passed on to the Mike Wieringo Scholarship Fund at S.C.A.D. and c) I'm made aware of it so I can make sure Mike's work isn't being used for something unsavory or in a way I feel Mike wouldn't appreciate. None of those apply to you, PJ, so post away.


Okay, on to some smiles. For me, anyway. One of the bright spots in my life that keeps me going through the long hours at my job is my work on THE HAND ME DOWN HORROR. I'm fully aware of the odds against me ever finishing the project, much less getting it published, but it's a fun little diversion and I really enjoy myself when I'm working on it. Sometimes I picture the ten or twelve people who read this blog seeing the stuff I post and thinking to themselves, "He's not serious, is he?" The answer is yes...and no. I have no illusions. At this point, I'm aware that I'm doing fan fiction. I'm also aware that if, by some slim chance, the book actually makes it to the finish line, it will be inevitably compared to the work of my brother and found lacking. And I'm fine with that. I expect it will be either panned, ignored or overlooked completely. But I'm doing it for me and that's all I need. It gives me the hope that my life can be more than sixty hours a week at my desk and dinners in front of the TV. If people end up liking it, that's just gravy.

As I've been drawing the characters and seeing them come to life in front of me (I only had the vaguest of ideas what some of them looked like.) the project has become more and more real to me. I thought maybe having a logo for the book would solidify things for me. I was right. One day, during my lunch break, it was raining outside and I couldn't take my usual walk. So I spent it working on the logo and came up with several possibles. Christian helped me whittle down the candidates. This was his favorite:

His view was that it had a nice old-school typography look to it. I agreed with him. The problem is that, with this logo, I fear that my Stephen King influences are showing. This font is very similar to the one used in the DEAD ZONE logo. It's why I chose it, in fact. I even did a stacked version that was much too close for comfort. I got so distracted by the similarities that I don't think I can bear to use it. Sorry Christian.

So this is the one I'm going with. I think it looks cleaner and a little more modern. I will most certainly tweak it before I'm done but I think it's close. I hope you dig it.

I was so happy with the direction the logos were taking that I whipped up a cover sketch with my Wacom tablet at work and put the logo on it. I'm extremely happy with the cover design but I'm afraid I can't post it because I feel it reveals a little more than I'm ready to share yet. Maybe once the writing is done.

Have a great week and I hope I didn't come off sounding like this chick:

Saturday, March 20, 2010


No, not the award. Oscar Freiberger, the character.

A couple of weeks ago, I got involved in an email dispute with a couple of coworkers about the TV show LOST. I've always been a big fan of the character Kate (played by the lovely Evangeline Lilly) but these two guys can't stand her. They contend that she's worthless as a character because she contributes nothing to the story. "She's just around to screw things up. Name one thing she's done," one of them said. Now, at the time, all I could think of was a lame response: "She keeps me watching."

But the question stuck with me. I've since thought of several things Kate's contributed to the story, not the least of which was taking Aaron off the island. But the idea that a character has to actually do something proactive to have value to a story kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I mean, Kate, as a reluctant member of the love triangle between herself, Sawyer and Jack, has had great influence over the decisions those two have made and, thus, has affected the story, albeit indirectly. And, in her defense, her character is not uninteresting. Her backstory is one of the more action-packed and riveting of the entire group.

So, as I'm now working on the script for the third part* of THE HAND ME DOWN HORROR, I started thinking about the relevance of my own characters. I wanted my lead character Johnny to have a fairly large group of friends because, unless you're talking about Peter Parker, most high-schoolers do. I wasn't what you'd call popular by any stretch of the imagination but, at that age, I had a "crew" that I hung around with at lunch and between classes and went to the movies with. Some of us were closer than others. But it was a nice, comfortable group that I knew I could count on if I needed something. And vice versa.

As I've been progressing into the more vaguely plotted-out portion of my story (I didn't do an outline so I know the beginning and end but only some of what comes between.) I'm noticing that some of my characters have, to this point, just been around for atmosphere and as foils for Johnny. (But, hey, nobody ever complains about Dr. Watson.) They all have their arcs and backstories and I'd intended to include all that in the story but I'm noticing just how little of that sort of thing you can include without slowing things down. Eamon's arc is my favorite and one that I think would resonate the most with readers. But I keep wondering if it has any real relevance to the main story. I would hate to shoehorn in something just because I like it. That's just self-indulgent.

Fortunately, I don't have that problem with Oscar, seen in the drawing above. When I was first thinking about these characters, I had an old high-school chum in mind if only in appearance and demeanor. I really liked this guy because, back then, in the age before the internet, he was a goldmine of knowledge about all kinds of obscure things I'd never heard of. He lived with his parents in what looked like a delightful old farm house with wonderfully creaky floorboards and, one day, when I gave him a ride home after school, he took me to his room and showed me his collection of old beer bottles and cans that are probably worth a fortune today. He had great taste in music and, while the rest of us were listening to 80's Pop (not knocking it, mind you) on the one good station in the area, he was walking around in DOORS T-shirts and listening to the classics that I wouldn't be exposed to until college. His dad ran a hardware store and, when we visited him, he'd talk to you like just another guy, and not like some kid that was bugging him.

As I got into the story, though, all that, neat as it was, wasn't enough and I realized I needed someone who knew the things that Johnny needs to find out. Johnny's not dumb but he's my Everyman (well, Everykid) and ultra-smart kids can sometimes come off as annoying or precocious. That's not Johnny. And I didn't want him spending the whole story on the computer Googling things. I want this to feel like a timeless coming-of-age story and kids sitting around with laptops is anything but timeless. (Can you imagine Wil Wheaton in STAND BY ME calling for help on his iPhone and pinpointing the body's location with GPS? Ugh.) So enter Oscar. Oscar knows everything. It's actually a sort of running gag throughout the story. Oscar probably couldn't use a shovel but he can give you a thirty minute dissertation on the Battle of Hastings whether you want to hear it or not. But he's also annoyingly sarcastic. He needed a personality so I started thinking, "What would Gregory House have been like as a kid?" And, boom. Oscar was born. I hope you'll like him as much as I do.

I was going to include some logo designs but, since work is a real bear lately (how am I ever going to draw this damned book when I barely have time to write it?) and this post has gone way long, I'll save them for next time.



* This, by the way, is the most I've ever scripted out on any of my little amateur projects. I've written (and re-written) untold "first issues" and typed up complete plots of at least half a dozen ideas and written several short stories and one novella. But I think I may actually finish this one. Imagine that.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Two Morrows Today

I love all the books that Two Morrows puts out and until they cancelled ROUGH STUFF and WRITE NOW!, I was spending more on their magazines each month than on the comics they were writing about. They just put out a long-overdue (in my opinion) tribute book focusing on the great Sal Buscema who is my all-time favorite comic book artist (Sorry, Darwyn.) and one of my personal heroes. (I forgive him for barely remembering and not really liking Nova. Nobody's perfect.)

Imagine my delight when they emailed me a while back to ask if I would be okay with them using one of Mike’s drawings of Spider-Ham for the cover of this month’s BACK ISSUE! (Which was really nice of them considering they didn’t have to, as far as I know. Marvel? Yes. Me? No.) Though the drawing’s been seen before, I’m so excited to see Mike’s artwork on the front of a new publication.

I can’t express how thrilling it always was for me to pick up Mike’s books each month. I’m in my 40’s now but I was still a little brother and still a comic fan. Seeing that ‘Ringo signature on a cover always filled me with pride and I couldn’t wait until the next time I could talk to Mike about his latest work. I can’t exactly call him up anymore but at least I’ll get to have a little bit of the old thrill again this Wednesday. So thanks, Two Morrows. I owe ya one.

Looks like a fun issue. Make sure to check it out.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of comics from Boom! Studios. Particularly the ones written by Mike’s buddy Mark Waid. I’ve been enjoying them immensely but I’ve started noticing a pattern with the titles. “Unknown”, “Irredeemable”, “Unthinkable”, “Incorruptible”...

And with Boom!’s streak of winning the rights to licensed properties recently, it got me thinking...

Hey, I’d buy it!