Wednesday, March 31, 2010

character sketches for new book.

I've been bouncing two different book ideas around. One was another 30's era supernatural story involving athenian and african mythological figures and Robert Johnson. The other is a murder mystery in a rusty, snow covered, rural massachusetts town, where only a washed out ex-paper mill employee can figure out who done it. Above is some preliminary sketches for the murder mystery, which is the idea I'm going with.
The murder mystery story sounds bland compared to the Robert Johnson story, or compared to the book I'm working on. At the face of it the new book will seem in stark contrast to the new book because it's not overtly political, the plot is straight forward, there is a small cast of characters, and the style of the art is going to be far simpler than Tug is. In way this is the point. After working on Tug for almost two years I realized that some fundamentals were lacking in it that made Tug a strong book. I had started with the idea of making a comic in an older narrative tradition, specifically like the Brothers Karamazov, with many characters and subplots, as well as a lumbering and slow moving main plot. I thought it be refreshing because the books content and style would stand in contrast to prevailing expectations of graphic novels today.
It's been a big undertaking and I'm honestly a little burnt out on it. Also I often find it hard to properly maintain my skills as and artist/ writer while working on a project I'm emotionally and politically invested in. I think a basic issue among artist activists (not claiming to be an activist here.) is that quality is often shaky when trying to transmit an opinion through a piece. There's a kind of adage that relates to this that goes something like "never write (or draw) when your upset." This seems contradictory. It would seem that someone railing against injustice would want to maintain a feeling of outrage, I think however, that it is very hard to edit in a hyper emotional state. It's hard FOR ME to edit in an emotional state.
There's a point when I need to hit the RESTART button so I can get my bearings and re-sharpen my tools. I did this a couple times in school while working on my comic strip. I opt to work on none political work so I can easily stand back an rate myself on narrative and skill. So I figured the best way to recharge my batteries as well as continue to be productive is to start a new book (while continuing to edit the old one.) that would help me develop and strengthen basic comic narrative structure.
It's not going to be a fluff piece. The intention of the book is to deal with certain dynamics of race and power in a small town, but not as head on as in Tug Benson. I think it would be hard for me to make something apolitical.
I've had a long debate in my head about this and I'm still not totally sold on it. I am certain that the issues of forgotten history, labor, racism, and power are best served by artists and writers that can create top quality works and I don't feel like that is what I was making.
Anyway rant over. More to come.


Monday, March 29, 2010


Found this guy, he does really nice female figure work, something I'm always working on.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


we've been banging out our broads for a deck show coming up for Skateistan. I'm pretty happy to be working to help a great organization. I'll post our finals in a bit.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dust from the road brings out my eyes.

hey folks

Just got back from Austin and South by Southwest and oh the stories! Too much happened to recount, but I'll try to give you an idea with a stream of conciseness bullet point list:

* Impromptu hobo rag time bands on the street.
* Opened for a big band only to have Ralph offend them deeply with itinerant finger flicking.
* Endless bonanza of dumpstering.
* Gwar
* Caught in a rain storm with my buddy under a tarp, in a puddle, and damn near naked.
* Made fast friends with two amazing bands, one being Dry River Yacht Club from Tempi.
* Blues Duo with mysterious and amazing Wisconsin guitarist.
* Got a new hat.

And this barely recounts the sheer glam and pop of the trip. It really shook the dust out and made me a new man.
I went to Austin because you need to leave paradise to remember why you moved there. New Orleans is an island danerous, dynamic, oppressive, free, and not a lick like Austin. Austin is easy and clean, it's like playing pick a number against yourself.
I needed it though. I needed to fly solo and trudge silent roads, shadowed parks, and grungy jagged streets again, eat garbage, and play good music to folks who can't tell the difference, if only for a bit.

Also I was stuck on a my book. I've been working so long on Tug, I forgot what it was to start something from nothing. It's coming together. When I was huddled under the tarp against the wind and icy rain with my buddy the story started to coming together in ernest. I'm waiting on letting anyone know what it's all about though, it'll be good, trust me. I posted a doodle I did in my sketch book.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Headin West

On my way to Austin, TX today. Well hopefully, the driver can be forgetful, he might space on picking me up, or the way there, or that he was gonna go at all. But I need need this. I'm getting burnt out on submissions, writing, drawing. When the things you love turn to chores it's time to take a breather I think. It's been almost four months since I've slept in a parking lot or in road side bushes and I'm not feeling totally myself. So it's on to Texas and its many steers and, um, steaks, cough.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

rejection sweet rejection

This here's a quickie I did yesterday while I was brainstorming for the new book. It's going to be markedly different than Tug, I'm not sure if that's wise or not.

So in my adventures pitching my book around I get turned down a lot. Some are wonderfully impersonal pre-formatted e-mails, "Dear (insert name) thank you for submitting (book title) but we think it's suited best for kindling." Sometimes they're special though. Sometimes the editor takes the time to lay it to you all personal like. So I got one of these on this daylight savings time day and it was so brutal I had to share it. With all names of publisher and editor removed of course.

thanks for the submission.

Not really sure what to say about it. I think your theme is interesting and if done well there is a lot of stuff that people can learn in this period, as you say. I didn't see many echoes of From Hell in there but Upton Sinclair's Jungle i can see being forewarned in these initial pages - you know it has already been adapted in a highly politicised form by New York Cartoonist Peter Kuper a few years back, right? The work also covers some of the ground that James Sturm has drawn his Graphic Novels from and going back a bit Kings in Disguise by Vance and Burr. It's fertile ground for graphic novel material.

I liked your first page quite a lot, it's well drawn and the panel progression nicely done. I presume we are seeing Whitworth's car hitting the dog so the uncaring 'mill owner' theme is set very early on. I thought the dialogue and exposition was a little laboured - maybe needs polished a bit. It's a bit pedestrian mostly and then punctuated by some odd uses of idiom I wasn't really familiar with - 'Whore's chance in heaven' - not sure this is correct depending on your religion - something like 'snowballs chance in hell' would seem less something to stumble over - likewise 'life's a train with no stops' - is that really what they say?? I'd never heard it before. Overall though it did allow me to see the setting and how the story might progress.

i had a bit more problem with the art. I didn't dislike it but I also didn't think it was quite there yet as a finished article ready for public consumption. It's all pretty effective but the figure work looks kind of unnatural - lots of straight lines on human bodies where they shouldn't be - the chunky fingers and blank eyes felt like a bit of a cop-out to avoid doing the harder parts of the figure drawings that might throw the pictures out even more. It's adequate I'd say but not inspiring. Kuper got away with a very impressionistic style in his adaptation of 'The Jungle' and Eddie Campbell likewise adopted a style which left room for interpretation as it didn't have to always tell the story being told by Moore's prose. I think you are caught a little between a drawing style that is a little prosaic and a story which could be weighty and 'instructional' - they might not make for a great combination.

All in all I liked it for the ambition to do something which actually might connect with a market outside comics stores, and though I thought it was pretty good I wouldn't publish it in the form it's currently in.

thanks again for letting me see it.

all the best

Thursday, March 11, 2010

more of the devil lady

spent some more time hashing out some sketches and color testing, with mixed results I think.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Booky book books and a bike poster

another quickie color sketch of John Dog, it's the first shot at the main character in the midst of a horrible change.

anyhow here's a new bike poster, remember those? I forgot too. It's of my friend Wally a member of the Beehive Collective.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New Book (?): Lost Soul

My friend got me thinking about writing another book while I'm working on Tug. Something that would be very different, a kind of reprieve. I might be able to bring it out to publishers and agents, who might feel unsure about Tug.
So I got thinking about another story that's been bouncing around in my head a little. It'll be a more straight forward narrative, more subtle than Tug, and a hell of a lot shorter. I'm thinking about a fifty pager. I dunno. I'm not going to give too much away on the plot side because it's still real early on development and I need to get started on drawing chapter 4 of Tug. But here's some sketches I did for the new book, which doesn't even have a title yet.

Friday, March 5, 2010


A collaborative thang by me (inks) and kreeslak (concept, colors.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Open for Busy-ness

Hey folks
Money's low and I'm looking to get some stuff off my back so I put some more posters for sale and some postcards and a book too on

Also, If you want a poster or card of one of my pieces posted on newgrounds shoot me a PM.
The 11x17 run about 20 bucks, but I'll cut you deal seeing as I'm scrapping the bottom of the kitty.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Girls girls girls

You may of may not know that I've had a pretty hard time creating passable drawings of women. Make all the jokes you want about cartoonists never seeing a naked woman in real life, but this was really crimping my ability. Then when I was biking I decided on two things: read the bible I had picked up in a anarchist bookstore in Olympia (ironic?) and only draw women. After reading all of the books Moses cranked out I was pretty cashed out on bible talk. I can only stomach so much talk about drape colors and proper goat sacrifice. There are some pretty engaging parts of the Bible, Leviticus is not one of them (apologies to mom.)
ANYWAY! I did succeed in turning out some female figure work I wasn't embarrassed to show people. And the struggle continues unabated.
Last night I did some color scheme practice trying different types of split complementariness on scanned notebook paper.

Monday, March 1, 2010