Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ain't blogged in a minute...

I don't like to talk politics, but I'm getting sick of all this craziness surrounding health care reform. You'd think the people of America (or at least the Republicans) don't want any change at all. Everyone says reform is necessary, but the only ones putting out ideas are the ones putting in work. Everybody else claims that "Obamacare" will kill the country and encourage euthanasia, and you got people chanting "Death to Obama" over this crap... but no one is coming up with anything better or even different. So I guess we're happy with the way things are.

Oy. Anyway, what I really wanted to blog about was how smooth my Jet Dancer planning progress is. It's so funny that when forced to be away from deviantART for a while (it doesn't seem like my job is going to restore social network access on our computers any time soon, if at all), I don't seem to struggle with indecisiveness the way I used to. It used to take nary a simple thought about a moment in Nia Black's story or the background of my WCL project to make me shift gears and go back to developing one of them, but nowadays I can actively think about the ideas in terms of what I did wrong with them and why they didn't work out (yet), considering all my mistakes while developing my definitive concept, Jet Dancer.

I was giddy as a schoolgirl with the turnout in my Jet Dancer jam (here) even though it wasn't a huge amount of entries, I appreciated every one of them. It makes me feel like this character can really go places.

I have been spending the last couple of weeks developing the graphic novel in between all my other responsibilities. I have vowed not to pencil a single page until I planned all 48. Some might think that it's no big deal that I've roughed up sketchy thumbnails of pages, but the way I think about it is this: part of building a house is finalizing the blueprints and layout so you know exactly what you're building. It's not minor--that's a huge step. A solid blueprint leads to a strong structure. These thumbnails are my blueprints, and I'm nearly done. My motivation was re-invigorated and I roughed up to page 40 today. I actually planned out eight pages today, when my usual record was four, and for a few days last week, I barely did one or two. If I can keep the same pace, I can have this entire book planned out by tomorrow evening. Then I can move on to page penciling and the cover.

It feels great to be getting somewhere. I'm tempted to scan and upload the rest of the layouts, but I think I won't. I am working on other art too, but I'm not sure if I want to upload anything that might distract me.

I guess that's it for now. Stay strong, stay busy, stay moving forward.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Final layout--for the first chapter

As of today, I finished the last four pages of my first 12-page chapter.


Got the comic laid out in a way that I'm feeling...I'm going to start drawing the first page on Monday. Got a busy weekend ahead.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More comic layouts

The second set of pages in the first chapter of my Jet Dancer comic book in development... while sketching these up (which isn't as easy as it may look), I also finalized the entire story. The first two stories I wrote were okay, but I wasn't excited by them. Then I stopped and thought about what I wanted to do with my story. The whole point is to establish a fun character. All I need to do is define her and have fun with it. It needn't be deep (like 99% of the other stories I come up with). So for me to come up with an action story that can be contained in a 48-page comic book (as opposed to, say, a 350-page novel) is quite an accomplishment for me.

Anyway, the layouts...


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Working on comics...

I'm always fighting this internal battle. See, I'm in school for Graphics and Multimedia. My goal is to make video games. It seemed like a practical idea at the time...the industry is booming, I like games and I have a little code writing in my background, not to mention an appreciation for art and graphics. But I also have this unending drive to draw comics. I don't believe there's anything wrong with that, and the more I try to resist it, the more I just keep trying to do it.

So, with that, I have purged two of the three concepts that have plagued my mind and compelled me to be indecisive for the last decade or so, and have resolved to focus 100% of my creativity on one thing.

To that end, I went out and bought myself a pack of Canson Fanboy Comic Book Layout Pages. They're structured in such a way that makes it easy to plan rough thumbnails of comic pages complete with notes. Today I spent some time revising a story I came up with for my premiere character and I planned out a comic. Below are the thumbnails I scrawled up on my layout paper:


I gotta say, it was fun. I felt like I was making some definite progress on good comic planning, and the paper only cost $3.88 (Utrecht was having a sale) for 35 sheets with four layouts each. That's far more than I need to create the book I'm working on, which I plan to produce within a year's time...a 48 page graphic novel featuring the one and only Jet Dancer.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

This layout...

...isn't working for me...


Trying to get this last commission done...I have to admit I'm not happy with this composition, but this is about the fifth attempt at this. I know I'm capable of better.

I also know my client is getting impatient...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I hate hard work.

No, I don't mean the way everyone hates hard work. I mean, I REALLY don't like it. I shy away from it. I avoid it like the plague. I naturally seek the path of least resistance.

In short, I'm lazy. Chronically so.

Case in point: I work for the US Government. US civilian employees are some of the most slow-moving, sedentary people in existence. When referencing them, it's difficult to use the term "work force". Now, there are exceptions to this rule. I used to be. But after 10 years of working in the same office, I feel it coming on. I take my time with every task. Assignments that used to take three hours, I drag out over days between my web surfing, sketching and strolls around the block. And my superiors don't seem to care.

Case in point: I have never completed a comic book in my life, not in full color anyway. Every time I get to the point where it will become challenging (e.g., resolving perspective issues in each panel, coloring it all up) I shy away.

Case in point: Yes, I finished my novel, and I even edited it from start to finish numerous times. But marketing, getting an ISBN, submitting it to literary agents (which requires writing a decent novel outline) and heaven forbid rewriting it to make a better story out of an already good one... these are things I avoid.

Now, I'm getting ready to start school (online courses). This whole lazy approach to life isn't going to work, not if I'm going to get my degree. I need to learn how to appreciate hard work... even enjoy it. I'm hoping I get lots of commissions, not so much because of the money (although I guess if it weren't about the money, I'd lower my prices), but because I don't like doing commissions, as I stated before. They're hard work. But I need to learn to appreciate hard work, and the best way to do that for me, I think, is to have a lot of things that I may not necessarily WANT to do, but HAVE to do.

If that doesn't work, there's always brutely forcing myself to finish a comic that I've started...

Video Games...

Every now and again, I consider giving up video games completely. I keep thinking doing that can only benefit me.

A little background: when I was a little kid, I didn't have much. I hesitate to say "we was po'" but I will say that I grew up in a household with a single mom and three other siblings, and it was usually my two younger sisters that got my mom's attention, both emotionally and financially. So, lacking the toys and other things my friends had, I turned to pencil and paper for my entertainment. Since I didn't have action figures, I made up characters, often transforming them into paper figurines, building board games around them, and more...which quickly evolved into trying to draw comics and write stories about them. As time went on, I gained stuff...had some toys, an NES, SNES, Game Boy, so on...this stuff never lasted. It would break or get lost or stolen or whatever, and when I was without, I focused on my characters and drawings some more.

In a nutshell, it was being 'without' that helped me to become creative. I can only imagine how far I'd have gotten if I was completely disinterested in the material things my friends and more well-off relatives had growing up, and completely focused on my art. I might have a better work ethic now that I'm in my early 30s.

But the past is not a wound I'm looking to heal or anything, I just wanted to illustrate a little part of my persona. Now that I have a full time job (not to mention a working spouse), there's nothing preventing me from having the things I want. If I want a new game for my PS3, Wii, DS or PSP, I just buy it...or at least pay Gamefly's monthly fee. Same with movies, books, whatever. But I spend most of my recreational time and dollars on video games. Mind you, my number one source of artistic inspiration happens to be video games. I was never a big comic reader (one wonders why drawing comics is such a big part of my artistic identity); I was much more into animation and gaming. The stuff I create is usually inspired by an experience I had in a game.

However, it's been a long time since a game has truly inspired me. I just end up playing them for fun these days, and sometimes out of some strange sense of obligation. I know it's detrimental to my creativity. I know that if I did not have access to these games, my mind would focus on creativity. It was a general lack of gaming, internet access and challenging work that led me to write my Nia Black novel--the one thing in my life that I've worked through to a solid state of completion.

And yet, my wife, my number one supporter, expresses her disagreement with my idea of selling most of my games, even though I'm the only one in the household who plays them. She believes I will become depressed without them, and she (rightfully) considers them her property too, so I can't just up and sell them or give them away without her OK.

And even if I did sell them, what then? I would either get a fraction of their worth (if anything) in real cash since none of my games are particularly rare, or I would sell them to Gamestop or Gamefly for credit towards more games...defeating the whole purpose.

I could, of course, simply not play them. Out of sight, out of mind. Funny story though...I recently acquired Cross Edge, an RPG for PS3. This game, strangely, has become a new activity that my six-year-old daughter and I share. She loves to read the dialogue, and I help her with larger words (when they're not speaking) and she really likes a lot of characters in the game, especially Prinny. Last night, she was extremely disappointed that I chose to focus on art (I'm creating a Jet Dancer model sheet) instead of playing Cross Edge. It's hard to turn my back on that kind of validation.

I dunno. Maybe I'm just stressing for nothing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I was sitting at the bus stop today and I felt more like sketching than like playing my PSP for a change. So I came up with an idea. I whipped out my phone, where I keep a variety of photos and reference images that I use in my art. One such folder houses a selection of my choice artistic nude photographs. (Don't lie; you've got a folder like that too.) I like drawing women, and I like having my inspiration with me wherever I may be. So anyway, what I did was opened said folder and turned on the slideshow function. I challenged myself to gesture the figures that were displayed in the brief time that they showed up.

Then I realized that the slideshow's frames had a limit of a four second delay, which was just too fast. So I came up with another idea...I simply brought up a pic, then rough gestured it until my phone's screen automatically switched off (about thirty seconds). Then I would turn the screen back on and switch to the next pic, and gesture that. It was like having my own little Posemaniacs 30-second gesture app on my G1.

Then it started raining and I had to stop drawing. Wet paper is no fun. But here was the result: