Monday, August 20, 2012

Dream Jobs

I think we all dream of dream projects we would give anything to work for. I'd like to share mine, and the reasons why I would love to work on them.

Pirates of Dark Water was a cartoon series in 1991. Imagine Star Wars meets Treasure Island. Oh did I love this series. Unfortunately it only ran 21 episodes. The series even turned into a Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo game. A mini series was also published by Marvel comics. I would love to retell this, but complete the story. It's sad that it is frozen in an unfinished tale.

Doug was a great show from my childhood. It was like a 1990s era Archie. A kid who goes to junior high, maybe high school, and goes through all things boys that age go through. He's also a comic geek, and writes and draws his own hero, Quail Man. I honestly think this would be a really great digest comic that could rival Archie. I think Disney owns the rights to Doug now, and they own Marvel Comics. It could come to fruition. Marvel/Disney, are you reading this?

Thundarr was a cartoon series in the early 1980s. It falls somewhere between Conan, Star Wars, and Kamandi. It's an apocalyptic future earth where "super science and fantastic magic" both reign supreme. Thundarr carries the powerful Sun Sword (light saber like), and he is friends to a princess with magic, and Ookla the Mok (wookie).

Only Pirates of Dark Water ever made it to a comic format, but all these would be perfect for the format. A more serious Thundarr would be perfect. Just look at what wonders Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord did for Conan in Dark Horse! Comics is a perfect medium to keep a loved cartoon series alive.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Comics Process Part 3 - Lettering

Welcome back. If you haven't been following, part one is here, and two is here. I hope you find these useful, and always, if you have questions feel free to ask.

Well, first and foremost, I finished my newest mini comic, an all ages story about a Shaolin monk who must save the village from a wild ogre. The comic is totally free to read online at

The book will also be in print and can either be purchased in my Etsy store (soon), and at any future comic conventions until copies run out.

Shaolin Monk cover!
So now on to the comics process. Every mini comic I take on, I try to work on a couple key points to expand my chops. The two big things for this book were environments and lettering by hand. Last comic was a little background-light, so I really pushed it for this book. As for that, I don't think I need to go into much detail. As in part one, I found a lot of reference photos to use for locations in the comic.

But lettering, that's what I'd like to talk about. As I've heard countless times in Jessica Abel interviews and lectures, hand lettering can make a world of difference. Also, in my portfolio review a few months back, this statement was also reiterated. Word balloons, dialogue boxes, sound effects, they are all a significant part of the art as a whole. They shouldn't deter from the art, they shouldn't be an eye sore, they should be integrated. Hand inked sequential art can clash against streamlined perfectly smooth vector balloons and fonts.

If you know much about lettering though, it's all about laying out an ames guide, ruling out lines, and creating word balloons with french curves. My art style doesn't express complete perfection, and I was looking for a quicker turn around for lettering. So I came up with an alternative approach: creating the balloons and text digitally, then printing them as non photo blue, and inking it by hand. This way you get a lot of precision, while still getting the uneven individuality of every letter by hand. Interestingly too, even though I'm going over a certain font, my own hand gestures make it in. The outcome is a blend of my own handwriting, a touch of varying line-weight, and slightly reminiscent of the original font.

The most important thing is the tool for inking the balloons and letters. I choose the Pentel Sign Pen SES15. The tip is pretty rad, it has a lot of give to it, but it's not uncontrollable like a brush pen can be. They are pretty awesome tools. The one trouble I have with them is that they don't seem to be waterproof. That leaves marker coloring and watercolors on top of inks to be slightly a messy situation.

Here is a comparison between my hand lettering, vs the digital fonts and vector balloons I made. Click on it to zoom in, and compare. I think it's not bad for my first attempt at this method. I also really dig the brush style letters, it feels very calligraphic. It's fitting for a story about a Shaolin monk.

This page is my digital lettering, colored in non-photo blue (Cyan 7%). I scaled the letters at 200% larger than the size it will be in the printed book. I printed it on bristol, then started to ink.

Here's what I came up with. I scanned it in, and placed it over my finished pages, and that's it!

I really like this outcome. If anything, I think the brushwork was a little thicker than I planned. Next time, I'll try printing the balloons out at 225% - 250%, thus making my signpen lines a touch smaller.

Have any of you tried out this method before? It saved me time, while giving me some nice unique letters and balloons. It really matched the book.

Friday, August 3, 2012


Today I thought I would have a brief blog about sketchbooks. As a comic artist, or any type of artist really, I believe you should have a sketchbook on hand at all times. I also believe you should be drawing often in these books. Just let artistic diarrhea take place. Just eject whatever without filter. Mimic an illustration you saw, perhaps you are impressed by the location you're at and what to draw it. As a comic artist, I see all sorts of things that I'd like to incorporate one day into my comics. This could be a unique tree, or the interesting skyline, or perhaps an old beat up pay phone. As a comic artist, you draw everything, even if it's not too exciting. You have to be able to convey an entire story, not just two guys in spandex punching each other. This is why you should be ready at a moment's notice to draw whatever intrigues you.

But if you really work like this, your sketchbooks will pile up. I know some people think it's sacrilege to toss sketch books. I honestly believe after two or three years, scan through the books, keep pages that interest you, and toss the rest. I have one exception though: childhood art. I still have a couple sketchbooks and comics from my youth, and I hold onto them dearly. They are a glimpse into my child self. Anything before 18 I think are really gems, and I'm so glad to still have a few things. Not only do I see a growth, but I also see what has stayed the same. I'm still making comics, at age 10 or 30. I still have ridiculous stories of fantasy and science fiction.

Another alternative is to scan your sketchbooks. It is the digital age, an external harddrive is smaller than a room full of sketches.

One last thought about sketchbooks. Always date the sketchbook. Occasionally date the art in there as well, just for a reference of when you drew it.