Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Love is the Reason

I'm very excited about my latest book, “Love is the Reason” which hits stores any moment now. The story stems from an idea I had in 2004 focusing on darker romantic tales, and I spent a lot of time planning, outlining, editing, and writing it. The overlapping stories of Aubrey, Michael, Tighe and Chase allowed for foreshadowing, and incorporated recurring motifs. While I was always true to the outline, I also let the story shift organically, as characters developed. I wrote the story in as a newspaper serial; those pages had to be a bit dense to bring readers back each week (Figure 1). As a counter balance, I planned for “mood building” and “character development” moments that would be book exclusive pages, including some cinematic moments (Figure 2). Stylistically, each of the main characters was giving a slightly different “theme,” with Aubrey’s heavy blacks to Michael’s ’60s background patterns to Tighe’s zip-a-tone to Chase’s angular grays. From the start, Aubrey is set up as a dodgey character. But then I began interjecting dark and somewhat disturbing panels to tease the reader: is this foreshadowing? a flashback? a glimpse into Aubrey’s mind? (Figures 3 and 4). I even used a metaphor!—representing the fragile nature of love and relationships to blowing bubbles (Figure 5). As crazy as it may sound to some people, this is the first time I’ve ever felt like an artist. I admit I’ve told some entertaining stories in the past, but I’ve never put so much care into a project, utilizing storytelling tools in a thoughtful way. Reaction to the book so far has been positive, which really makes the last 18 months really worth it.

Monday, December 29, 2008

No hidden agenda

Historically speaking, I have a good day job @ MIT. When my old boss enticed me back to the office with a promotion, it was with a good understanding of my comics life. She even announced during an all-staff meeting, "these meetings are important... you shouldn't be doing other work—except Tim, he can sketch." I ended up with some great sketches either on meeting agendas, or directly in my sketch book. They often have lots of white out (to block out the bits of agenda I drew over). I usually glue the agenda sketches into my sketchbooks, and sometimes glue them onto pages of original art to ink, if I don't want to risk losing anything by tracing it. Turn the clock ahead a bit and I've been acting director of my deptartment since July. More work, more stress, more responsibility. Worst of all, I barely sketch during meetings anymore! As if my full attention really meant something. However, recently I was at a real yawner, and produced a handful of sketches; two are posted here. I'm not sure what the first boy is doing... leaning against a counter or bar, maybe doing a pushup. He looks a little different than my usual drawings, so I like him. Below is a sexy caveman. Regulars to my sketchblog know how much I like sexy cavemen (Gnaark of the Teen Titan entries, etc.).

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Every once in a while I do some life drawing or draw models, or coerce a friend into posing for me. Andy was gracious enough to sit in some often-needed poses for me. On the phone, texting, etc. I asked him to take his shirt off and hold it mid-way through the take-off. I was shocked to see just how wrong I had been getting it in drawing. But, I've used that sketch as reference at least twice now, most recently in "Love is the Reason." This looks very little like Andy of course. I am extrordinarily bad at drawing actual likenesses.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dana Girls

A while back, I nabbed from my parents' yard sale pile some of my sister's childhood books. Among them was a Dana Girls mystery, Secret of the Minstrel's Guitar, by Carolyn Keene. Like the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, the Dana Girls were written by several different authors in formulaic adventures. The Dana Girls were fairly independent, with their sea captain uncle as their guardian. In this book, they get mixed up with Gypseys en route to Portugal. I'm a bad judge of children's literature, so take my remarks with a grain of salt. Unlike Nancy Drew, I find the Dana Girls to be pretty flat. At least, in this novel, neither girl had a distinct personality or role. I did like the interludes of history/cultural lessons of Portugal. I understand from some Portuguese friends, the information is accurate, so you get a nice little taste of Portugal in addition to a mystery that made little sense. The girls ended up in my sketchbook with an early '70s flair. I started to use blue pencil, but then finished with my new favorite sketch pencil, which is super dark and super soft and flow-y.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Fish after Piotrowski (sort of)

"Crazy" Tim Piotrowski was drawing his salesman character repeatedly during SPX. I really love the way he draws the salesman, and we brainstormed the salesman's backstory. As a result, Tim drew in my sketchbook the salesman dreaming of a buxom babe. On the way home from the con, I drew the babe dreaming of the salesman.