Apr 16 2014

Dial H: Into You (vol. 1) – China Mieville

Apparently, Mieville is a big name in sci-fi, which may be why she got the job of writing this comic, because, honestly, I don’t really see what is so special about this. A fat loser finds a way to (temporarily) become a random super-powered person. I just find the writing sometimes awkward, the superpowers more silly than interesting, and little to make me care about the various characters. The only issue I really enjoyed in this collection was #0 which was a back story to the dial that grants the powers.

Apr 15 2014

You Put Your Left Foot In…Your Mouth

You may remember this page from a few weeks ago:

And this week we have the follow on page:

This page has a lot going on. Not only are there 9 panels (which is pretty rough, especially as I hate to draw small), but there is a lot of text (which I greatly trimmed). One of the challenges of this comic is that it basically comes down to two guys talking, so how do you keep that interesting visually? As you can tell, I use lots of shadows, and I make a real attempt to have some subtle (and not so subtle) imagery in my panels. For instance, in panel 1, C’s shadow is pointing its finger at M. And to a lesser extent, C’s hands indirectly point to M in panels 6 and 8 as well. Whereas in panel 5, he’s practically “smooshing his head.” Whenever I run out of ideas, I look to Wally Wood for inspiration.

I love this page. M establishes himself as a liar (“no smoking” when there’s clearly an ashtray in the room). C implicates M as the murderer but then covers it up by pretending he’s accidentally insulted M’s feet. And ultimately, M walks into C’s trap (as will be more clear on the next page, which I’ll get around to eventually!)

Apr 13 2014

Studio Time 4-13-14

This one was tricky, because it’s tough to fit 9 panels on a 7×11 page.

Here’s the original mock up.

I forgot to take pictures of the intermediate sketches. Here’s the start of the inks.

And the finished inks.

Apr 11 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1: Cosmic Avengers – Brian Michael Bendis

Wow, shocking, another Bendis book. Well, this one was sort of ok. By this I mean I like the strange space superheroes, but I don’t like the idea of throwing Iron Man into the mix for no good reason, that Space Lord is a whiny teenager (except he’s a grown man) and the fact that Rocket Raccoon keeps says “I murdered you” with a great deal of glee, and it obviously suppose to be funny, is a little more than disturbing. The story is about a group of superheroes defending the world against alien invaders. I would skip it. 

Apr 10 2014

But, Doc, I’m Scared of Needles!

And the finished page.

I wanted to have more scenes of C investigating and gathering clues, without having to double the length of the book. Hopefully, a few 1-page scenes like this will give the flavor of the investigation.

The key here is that C figures out that F was likely intoxicated at the time of the murder, which is something that will come up in the following scene with M. Stay tuned (although there’s no guarantee that I’ll do the pages in the order they appear!).

Apr 08 2014

Unwritten – Mike Carey, art: Peter Gross

Cej first mentions this title in a general review, but the series certainly  deserves a larger mention. Take Harry Potter (make it real), add your Master’s in Literature, a Dan Brown-esq conspiracy, and plenty of murder and intrigue and vola! As of this writting there are seven volumes (Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity, Inside Man, Dead Man’s Knock, Leviathan, On to Genesis, Tommy Taylor and the War of Words, and The Wound) although I’ve only read the first five–get on the ball Cej and get me the rest! What, you expect me to buy my own comics?!

Tommy Taylor is a famous children’s story character, or is he just the son of the author? Or is he not the author’s son at all? And is Tommy really the character in the story and are the stories real?! In any event, why do so many people want to capture or kill Tom? What is his link to a cabal and can they actually shape reality through the control of stories? So many questions and I’m enjoying all of them. Carey delves into ideas like the collective unconscious, the power of myth, censorship, childhood celebraties, and lots and lots on literature. Well done!


Apr 07 2014

Buzzing Around You

Here’s the finished page where C confronts M in his office and lays out what a crappy job M has done with the murder.



Apr 06 2014

Studio Time 4-6-14

Luckily I put some sketches together yesterday, so I had this to work with:

So with that plus 4 hours and some ink we have a page where C gets some info from a faintly familiar medical examiner.

Apr 05 2014

Not-Studio Time 4-5-14

I realized that the year is already 1/4 of the way gone, and I still have a ways to go before I complete the Calimbo comic. So I dashed out a few scene sketches, which will save me time in the long run. I threw these together at home rather than in the studio.

Here C is talking to the Medical Examiner.

This is a transitional page. We start with C thinking about the case and transition to M starting to freak out.

Here we see C waiting to confront M (although he will claim that he was there for another reason).

Apr 05 2014

Enigma – Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo

I heard so much about this comic and everyone says how great it is. Honestly, I couldn’t stand it. The art is scratchy, the coloring is dull, the plot is boring (it’s about a boring guy who comes across a mysterious superhero and even more mysterious) villains), and comes to an end without coming to a conclusion, and the only thing that makes the comic the slightest bit interesting [SPOILER BUT WHO CARES BECAUSE THE COMIC ISN'T VERY GOOD] is that the main character turns out to be gay. Ooh, how shocking, that certainly makes the comic worth reading, since it is about a guy who suddenly discovers he is gay without any past hint of homosexual feeling or experience? Yeah, right. Skip this crap. 

Apr 02 2014

The Composer is Dead – Lemony Snicket (music: Nathaniel Stookey, Illustrations: Carson Ellis)

This is a clever little tale that introduces readers to the various sections and purposes of an orchestra, as well as the names of many famous composers, without being didactic, a word here that means boring school lecture. Nice touch to have a music CD included (although after four years maybe it needs to be a mp3 hyperlink). 

Mar 30 2014

Studio Time 3-30-14

My original thought for this page was to have it look as if C were a bee buzzing around M in M’s office.

That didn’t quite work for me, as it turned out. But I kept with the basic layout idea. Here you can still think of it as C looking at M from every angle / M surrounded and trapped by C.

Mar 28 2014

Message to Adolf (Part 1) – Osamu Tezuka

Admittedly, it was somewhat awkward to carry around an over 600 page hardcover with a picture of Hitler on it. The story revolves around Japan and its relationship with Germany and the Nazi party during the lead up to WWII. There are really three Adolfs: The obvious one and two German boys living in Japan, one Jewish and one half Japanese son of a German official. The story is often amazing in its scope and dedication to pointing out the absolute horrors of Nazism and Japanese complicity with it as well as their own fascist past.

Still, there are issues, the art often becomes too cartoony, one of the heroes engages in rape (yes, I’m arguing that it was rape), and every women falls madly in love with that same character as soon as they meet him. My biggest complaint–and perhaps this is the librarian in me–revolves around the McGuffin. I won’t spoil anything, but let me just say that if a document is completely inaccessible, it might as well not exist. Don’t believe me? Ok, I have the meaning of life written down right next to me. Would you like it? Oh well. Too much of the story deals with documents that would change the world, which is why the bad guys want to destroy them (not that they couldn’t just say they were fake), but they don’t need to if no one sees them! Useful information needs to be used to be useful, thus the term.

Interestingly, there is a lot of stress made about how kind and helpful Japan is to Jews; however, everything I’ve read shows that the Japanese–while rarely every meeting anyone Jewish–have extreme prejudice against them. Still, I’m very impressed that Tezuka tackles such a subject, forcing Japanese to recognize their role in the most important event of the last hundred years. The tale involved politics, intrigue, history, difficulties in coming of age, mindless racism/prejudice, and bravery. I look forward to reading the conclusion. 

Mar 24 2014

The Nobody – Jeff Lemire

Lemire presents a quiet tale about a stranger who comes to an isolated fishing village, attracting attention, and becoming the center of gossip as to who is this mysterious man covered in bandages. Based on H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, it’s a nice read with lovely illustrations.

Mar 24 2014

Da Vinci’s Demons

By no means pretend that this show is any good. The young Leonardo is portrayed as a scientist, inventor, artist, lady’s man, master fighter, drug user, problem child, momma’s boy, occultist, and adventurer, who is caught up in more than just the religious politics of his time, but a struggle between ancient secret societies. Still, its ridiculousness is exactly its selling point. Over the top situations, Dan Brown level historic conspiracies, and always a topless hottie or two makes this a teenage boy crowd pleaser.

Mar 22 2014

Magic Boy & The Robot Elf – James Kochalka

I never know what to think of Kochalka’s work. The drawings and ideas seem so whimsical that I always think it is going to be fun and lighthearted, but often it takes a rather dark turn. There’s a cat but it’s an alien and there is an old man/boy and he gets usurped by his robot invention and there’s a love interest and a hint of incest. I just don’t know what to think. 

Mar 19 2014

Indestructible Universe – Morgan Pielli

I totally admire anyone who creates and produces their own comic. That said I just wasn’t thrilled with this compilation of comics. Yes, there were many interesting and good comics, but they are a bit random and all short–which just doesn’t allow for a ton of depth. Take a look.

Mar 18 2014

And Here, Let Me Show You Some More Evidence

C is leading M into the final gotcha….

Mar 16 2014

Studio Time 3/16/14

It was a working weekend, but I snuck away from work just long enough to…do a different kind of work!

Last time, we left off with this mock-up:

I wasn’t quite happy with it, so I reworked it a bit:

And I used a combination of the 2 mock-ups to make the final page. I re-positioned the pointing hand in panel 1 so that it is a bit more dominant. But now I think I need to add some more black so that the nitre stands out some more.

I made sure that the footprints in panels 2 and 3 line up a bit better.

Panel 4 is meant to evoke the grim reaper. Not only is C indicating where the victim died, but it also signals that the end is coming for M.

Panel 5 has another symbolic “gotcha!”

“But, Cej, where did their flashlights go?”

Cej: “Quiet, you!”

Mar 15 2014

The New Deadwardians – Dan Abnett

Chief Inspector George Suttle, last of the homicide detectives of a post Victorian England wherein the upper classes are vampires and the 99% are, well, the same as always, but some sort of plague has set off a zombie epidemic. Suttle attempts to unravel the inexplicable murder of a vampire only to find out unwanted truths. This is an interesting idea, but I felt the entire story was designed as a set up for a future story, and that all the characters were only there to fulfill archetypes, in other words that were flat or Edwardian.  

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