Wednesday, July 29, 2009

For anyone who still visits this blog - sorry. I've been caught up in finishing American, Eh and starting a new online comic, Cake Brat. Plus planning for SPX and the launch of my company Acute Studios.

Anyways, I'm probably going to shut this blog down for now, and be posting my updates on the Acute Studios blog instead: And eventually putting up Cake Brat comics. Busy busy busy. But it's good! :-)


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

AE Complete (Sorta), The Falls, and Phaira Lore

American, Eh #2 is fundamentally finished. Now I have to go back and clean everything up, add extra details, shadows, redo panels that don't work, etc, which adds a bit more time, but it's nice to have all 17 pages + cover basically inked and in sequence.

I think AE#2 isn't bad at all. I do wonder, though, if AE is too plot driven. The whole "this happened, then this, then this" without much pause for reflection, or getting to know the characters enough. Sure, it's fun for me and family and friends who know me, or know M, but to the outside eye, I don't know if there's much depth. Or if there should be.

I am not thrilled with some of the art, but that's typical artist-angst. I have to keep reminding myself that it's just as important that I'm *doing* these comics, regardless of the outcome, and committing to doing something I've always wanted to. I only started all this in August! I can only get better, right?

Or, to quote James Kochalka: "If you don't think you're awesome, then who else will?" I'm working on that, James.

While I'm scripting AE3 and finishing up AE2, I've been inking a three-page mini-comic, the first of a series of minicomics under the series name Lybarie, which essentially will be a few poems put into comic form as a means to experiment with different styles. A lot of this is going to come from my Master's thesis, but I think, without trying to sound all Master-y, that my poems are very visual, tell some interesting stories, and more importantly they're not vague or sound all academic. So they, so far, are translating alright to comic form. The first is "The Falls" which was the first poem in my thesis.

Either way, it's nice to do something short, instead of looking ahead to pages and pages. Just as a break, but a way to keep practicing inking with a brush. And drawing and inking from memory, and not relying entirely on photos. I'm proud that the first page of The Falls, which is all landscape, is drawn and inked from memory, no reference used. And it looks pretty realistic. That's a big deal!

I'm still hoping that Juniper Key and the Very Serious Girl might be put together for September's SPX Conference (which Jodi and I are now officially online and registered for under Acute Studios - very sweet), but it's on hold for the moment due to Jodi's wrist.

In the midst of all this, I'm looking to put together at least one other book for SPX - something fiction-based and a little different, so there's a variety to display and sell. Still mulling over Cake Brat - I have a lot of scribbled pages and sketches for characters, but it's not ready yet for anything solid. (I kind of have this belief that stories will only emerge when they're ready, so I don't push it if it's not coming to me loud and clear.)

Or, I'm actually considering, and I can't believe I am, reanimating an old universe I created from about 2001-2004, and haven't touched in five years. Phaira Lore is a science fiction series I worked on for years. I wrote five screenplays and lots of short stories in this universe. But I stopped in 2004, moved on, and haven't looked them since (there's some drama behind that decision, but I'm not getting into it). For the past two weeks, during downtime at work or at home, I've been reading all these stories and scripts and kind of marvelling at the energy I had to do all of it. It's a bit of a raw read, though - I'm mildly embarassed at some of it, but I'm.... nostalgic? Relieved to reread it? There's a quiet love for these characters that I haven't touched in years, cheesy as it sounds. They were a big part of my life for a while.

When I left it, I didn't forget about it - I always thought I would eventually do something with PL - tighten it up, change some details, but use what I created. Because despite some of the stuff I'm embarassed at, the overdramatic nature of some parts, or realizing how parts were directly stolen from other shows like the anime Cowboy Bebop, fundamentally it's a story about a girl and her two brothers, and how in the midst of violence and craziness they struggle to work and live with each other. Which I like, and I see clearly now. I don't need particular characters to spice things up - they can be cut. A lot can be cut, and simplified, and in the end it's still interesting characters, a good story, and a universe to work in. Whether in comic form, or maybe story form with pictures.... I don't know. But that's the news for now.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Page 16, Visible Fuck-ups, and Who is the Cake Brat?

I just inked page 16 last night, and have to do a few other bits on it before moving onto penciling and inking page 17, which is the last page. Then figure out the cover, do that, and American, Eh #2 is done. How 'bout that? Not bad at all. I have to go through and make corrections and tighten everything up, but the basics of each page are solid.

I'm pretty stoked, actually. I made a goal a few months back that I had to finish a minimum of two pages every week. Well, with Christmas, then NYC, and just that heavy winter laziness that robs me of any kind of motivation, that goal got pushed back. But for the past month, I've been sticking to it, and making myself work on the comic at least one hour every day. And the 2-pages a week goal hasn't been too difficult at all, it turns out, despite all the mistakes and set-backs.

I make lots of mistakes. Lots of mistakes. My white-out pen is always popped out and shaken because I'm still not a confident inker with a brush, particularly now that I'm re-learning to hold it vertically (as you are supposed to do, I learned) instead of angled like a pen. I will never be able to sell original copies of my comic pages for this reason - who wants visible fuck-ups? I can't help but wonder how they *do* that - even the more amateur artists at the SPX who aren't super famous. Am I missing something here? Are they faking me out with their pretty, perfect boards?

I'm also debating what to do next, while I'm scripting AE#3, which usually takes a couple of weeks to figure out. I want to keep going with inking and practicing with my new swanky Winsor and Newton Kolinsky sable brushes (which *do* make a difference, holy crow) . One thing I'm turning around in my head is another title, which came from a random reading of a post on Hong Kong food.

Cake Brat is actually this:

But someone in the comments section made mention of what a great name it was, and I agree - it's stuck in my head for weeks now, and I've been turning it over in my head, and letting characters and situations come to me. Everything is scribbled in my little black sketchbook right now, but I'm thinking it might be something new to try, something outside of my personal romantics. Titled Cake Brat, with overdone, overt covers. Sprinkles on red lips that spell out Cake Brat, you know, really over the top, trying-too-hard stylized art. But then inside, it's just someone who is known as "the Cake Brat" from these covers, whether it's a band name or or even as just a nickname.....

It probably sounds strange, but I'm not going to get into much more here, because it's all still being figured out in my head, but we'll see where I end up going with it. It's probably going to have something to do with food and music and stuff.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

SPX, NYC, 10,000, and JOM

Hey. So been a while. Yup.

What's going on. Hey, American Eh #2 is on its way to being done! That's something. It's slow going, but getting there. I'm working on page 12 right now, out of an anticipated 17. I'm going through the predictable "why am I bothering, this sucks" phase now that I'm 2/3 of the way through, but I'm trying not to let that get to me.

Keep going, right? At least I'm drawing and inking and trying to get better.

American, Eh? #2 details how I ended up leaving after my sophomore year at the University of Windsor, Ontario and moving on a whim to a room in a house in Quincy, Massachusetts, which is just outside of Boston. I did not exactly think this sudden, very dramatic move through, as you'll see.

Some panels, though, I do think came out really nice.

I sent off registration and a big hunk of my personal savings to the Small Press Expo last Friday. Jodi (of Rottin Rotti and others) and I are going to come together in October under the umbrella of Acute Studios, our working company name. I hope people buy stuff, because the thought of the printing costs and other big gulps of my savings floating away to prepare for SPX, well, I just hope that at least, I can break even. Making a bit of money would be cool too, but mostly I just want to be a part of the community, even if for a weekend.

M is also coming to help hawk our shit - he'll be behind the table with us, pointing at AE books and yelling "Hey, I'm in this! Did you see? Get over here!" His dream come true. (Do you know how many years he's been asking me when I draw: "Is that me? Is that me? Why don't you do a comic with me in it?" Well, HERE. It's a whole frickin' series!!)

Besides three planned issues of American, Eh? the plan is to possibly have one or two other mini-comics to sell, possibly poems / images done in ink washes, possibly something else. I'm focusing on AE right now, so I'll decide later. Jodi will have her Rottin Rotti comics, her Julie Light comics, and I don't know, maybe Fighting Divine? And Jodi and I are collaborating on my kid's story, Juniper Key and the Very Serious Girl - I wrote and created, she's gonna illustrate. Hopefully we can get that together because that would be extremely cool to have something by the both of us to display.

Besides all this preparation, M and I and our friend Net (who is featured in AE #2) went to New York City two weeks ago, my first time, and I completely fell in love with the city, the food, the atmosphere. I am already plotting my return - I think I started plotting on the train back to Providence:

And I've dropped some weight, which was a pleasant surprise. It was weird though, to suddenly be a size 8, struggling to keep pants up, after years of struggling at size 10, going vegetarian, working out every day, counting every calorie and nothing ever changing. Then bam! Down 10 pounds? How??

People have asked, and I've thought about it, and I guess it happened slow over the past six months due to stuff like this:

-stopped eating fast food altogether, except on very rare occasions
-have much less soda on a weekly basis. Drink lots of tea instead.
-cut down on dairy to just cereal in the morning, yogurt in the afternoon, and a glass with dinner.
-started eating a real breakfast, usually fibre-full cereal and juice, instead of Carnation Instant Breakfast
-starting making things like cookies and other sweets myself instead of packaged. Also stopped eating things like microwaveable dinners and Hamburger Helper and now make fresh dinners every night.
-started listening to my body when I ate, and when I start feeling full, I stop.

Since I realized I lost the weight (which was Christmas, and on Jodi's Wii Fit in Canada. I was "WTF" for the whole day after that - sorry Bean!) I bought a pedometer and I'm trying to walk more - leave my office at the college twice or three times during the workday and just walk around for 10 minutes. I think it helps, though I don't know how the hell you can hit 10,000 steps a day, like they suggest. I hit 6,000 on an active day. 10,000 is balls.

And hey, did you hear? I have a new little nephew. Mr. Jack Oliver McCallum.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Curvy Wisdom Teeth, Uses for Teabags, and Psychic Mum

So I had that one random wisdom tooth out today. I was really freaked about it going in, and M had a good explanation for it: "That's the problem when you're never sick - being sick or having something wrong affects you more than it might others." Of course, hearing his horror stories (and the stories of countless others) didn't help with my fear.

It wasn't so much the actual tooth removal that scared me, but the drugs. (The tooth was actually kinda neat on the X-ray - the top was normal and straight up, but the bottom long two points were really curved away. It looked like a jellyfish or something. I really wish I could put the X-ray on here, it was funny.) I learned that I was getting three different types of drugs for the surgery - local novocaine on the actual area, an IV of Valium (!) and then the anathestia gas. They told me it would knock me out. And the idea of losing an hour and not remembering anything was really freaky to me. Plus I had some paranoia about experiencing some side affect of being knocked out. It's being a bit wussy, I know, and it could be way worse, but I'm a chicken shit, I guess.

Anyways, I go in, and they lay me down and put a heart monitor on my finger. Which doesn't help the nerves (but didmake me think, wow, just like on the medical drama shows). They put the gas mask on, and as I breathe, my whole body becomes more and more numb, which I hate and makes me increasingly nervous. I shut my eyes for a minute, open them, and poof - surgery's done. WEIRD.

So it's done, and I was a bit fucked up earlier, but now I feel okay - it's just taking forever for the bleeding to stop entirely. So I've had lumps of gauze in my mouth all day (and now I'm popping frickin' VICODIN post-op, like Dr. House!) and for the past two hours, been following the suggested alternate of taking a tea bag, wetting it, and wadding it against the extraction point. Which is gross, because your spit mingles with the tea leaves, and you've got mouthfuls of light brown goober. I just took the last bag out, put in some fresh gauze, and I'm hoping it's stopped. We'll see.

Otherwise, I've kept a steady icepack against my cheek in the hopes of staving off any future swelling. M was so nice to me, particularly when I came home and I was on the verge of fainting and really confused about all the instructions. He's always physically warm, and has big warm hands, and when you're upset, it's such a comfort to cuddle up. He even got lecture-y like my mum when it came to keeping to the schedule and eating, which was funny.

Speaking of mum, again, funny, but earlier today M asked if I wanted to call her. I did, but 1) I had a big wad of gauze in my mouth and 2) I didn't figure she'd be home (she's the Exec. Director of a Community Foundation and works more regular hours now). I also feel a bit silly that I want to talk to my mum when I don't feel well when I'm pushing 30, but hey, I do.

So who calls at 6:30pm? :-)

Even if it was just for a few minutes, it was really good to hear her voice.