Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Saved by the Bell #6 ANNOTATED

In May or so, I worked on SAVED BY THE BELL #6. I enjoyed drawing this story, and I hit my stride with some of the panel layouts. Of course, enjoy the cover by Chynna Clugston here, and buy the e-edition on Amazon!

The e-format drives the page layout, so while it's written as a 12 page story, it's really 12 2-half pages or 24 half pages. It can be a challenge maneuvering the script into the half page format (would be a no brainer for me if the 12 page script allowed freedom to be drawn as a whole page) I'm probably not describing this well. Too little or too much coffee maybe.


Sorely lacking for my enjoyment are splash pages or half-splashes. So for this story, I significantly altered the script affording me the space for a half-splash. I love panel 1! The girl with the blue hair is wearing the "Hippie Daisy" T-shirt I designed while hanging a poster reading "art by Tim Fish." Zack is wearing the "Johnny's Magnet" T-shirt I designed. Jeffrey, the scruffy indie boy I worked into the backgrounds of issues 2 and 4 appears embracing his BF or maybe just a hookup. Tough to say. Panel 4 was really fun to draw.


The script places Kelly in audition lines for the "Pop Diva" TV show, so lots of familiar faces worked into the crowds throughout the story. 

Panel 1:
  • Archie, Betty, Veronica (obscured by the letterer's placement of text)
  • Jughead
Panel 2:
  • Andrea Thomas/Isis
  • Kathy a.k.a. Pumpkin Head, a.k.a. PH (woman I work with)
  • Indie Uncle Sam
  • Human Bomb
  • Phantom Lady
Panel 5:
  • Lilandra
In panel 4, we meet two producers—the villains of the story. The primary villain I drew after my most recent ex. The secondary villain, I drew after his then BF. After I drew this, but before it was published, they broke up.

PAGE 5 Panel 1 we see recurring background character, a rather large gal, drawn after a colleague of mine. We also see a poster for a pub I frequent, Tavern at the End of the World. Panel 2 is Jeffrey again, and panel 5 we see Leslie from issue #4.

PAGE 6 Screech wears a robot T I designed for my office's student employees (my day job is at MIT). In panel 5 we see the iconic single pedestal Planner Group desk designed by Paul McCobb.

PAGE 7 Zack's polos drawn by me are usually labelled with the mark you see here...kinda looks like a whale. Or a sperm. Not sure. We also get to see the foil label in the desk drawer in panel 2; panel 6 I re-use my explosion effect I've blogged about before.

PAGE 8 turned out alright, except Kelly's head in panel 4 bothers me...should be a little over to the right. Looks like she broke her neck. Oops.

PAGE 9 catches a glimpse of Jeffrey eating some fries.

PAGE 11 went through significant edits in the pencilling and layout phase. Given the half-page publishing format it could have benefited from being busted out over 2 pages. But sometimes there are easy pages to draw and sometimes tough ones! Since my editor generally gives awesome quality and helpful feedback, I think the page turned out well.

Panel 1:
  • Fred from SCOOBY-DOO
  •  The Wizard from my Arche-Lady series
  • Black Canary
Panel 2:
  • Arche-Lady and Doctor Glax
  • Lyle Norg/Invisible Kid
Panel 3:
  • Johnny Magnet from my Arche-Lady series
Panel 4:
  • Black Canary again
Panel 5:
  • woman dressed as Tigra
Ok, that's all for May! What will June bring?—time will tell!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

March? April? All a blur...

Since I'm too lazy to figure it out precisely, let's call this the update for what I was up to in March and April. I was between SAVED BY THE BELL #s 4 and 6, and it was the right time to get some rainy day DIY projects off my plate. 

First, March is typically my travel-for-MIT month (my day job is at MIT), with 3 trips nearly back-to-back-to-back. Second, my mom's chemo was over and she was feeling pretty reasonable and the noise from my dad's wood shop wasn't as likely to bother her...and her surgery wasn't scheduled until early May. Third, I've generally been trying to finish up my projects out of the woodshop in case my folks need to sell their house in a hurry, I'd be out of the way. 

Closet shelves from 2010, plus headboard from 2012.
 I bought my loft in the Brickbottom Artists' Building and moved in May 2010. That summer, my dad, Richie, and (a very little bit) I created a closet and installed a Murphy bed.

It was a challenging project for my dad, since he was used to working in his woodshop and having everything he needed right downstairs. So, there were errors here and there.

One of the errors was a mis-cutting of the extremely odd-shaped closet shelves which maximized a small, triangular space resulting from the project.

As a work-around, my dad installed the trim away from the wall using blocks of plywood. The plan was that I could re-make the shelves one day and finish the project.

This of course would mean emptying out the closet, and living without it for a few weeks.
Closet and headboard, 2014.
I removed the trim pieces and blocks of wood.

The back of the closet had been primed in 2010, but never painted, so I painted the back wall of the closet the color of the walls of my apartment.

I stained, varnished, and reinstalled the trim boards. While I was at it, I stained and varnished the closet floor and trim, while still affixed.

Already a huge improvement, though my dad used a lot of scrap wood, and it had all aged nearly 4 years exposed to the air, so they each took the stain very differently.

I then made a new shelf template, and cut new shelves from thinner but better quality plywood than the initial batch were made from. I then stained, varnished, and placed them. 

Voilá!—a cohesive, finished space, which not only looks better but is also more functional (since the opening is now wider). Felt awesome to finish this project before my 4 year anniversary in my space.

Headboard with vinyl grasscloth covered doors.
Above, you'll note the headboard. The first thing I made solo. It was a good first project, but I used some warped scrap wood, made some construction and finishing errors, and ultimately didn't like the design.

Also, I had this lovely set of four brass hourglass-shaped pulls.Using but two of them in the last headboard piece, it was nagging me to have another pair un-used.

As I finished the awesome closet, the headboard looked like a real eyesore to me. So, it became the first piece I re-made. I batted around better designs, used solid poplar, and made fewer construction errors. And my finishing skills have improved dramatically since 2012, so I am happy (for now!) with the headboard. 

I made a few sets of doors from MDF which I can swap out seasonally. The wallpaper-covered ones pictured above and the citronella painted vinyl grasscloth ones pictured to the left.

It was also time for new sheets and towels, and I was shockingly able to find ones that looked great in my open closet and the bathroom.

Mr. Darby photo-bomb.
Next up, kitchen phase V: over-the-sink lighting.

When I embarked on my kitchen redesign, it centered around the vintage mid-century solid maple cabinets I acquired via, a recycle-reuse non profit. 

Along with the cabinets came this nasty old gas wall oven. My building isn't set up for gas appliances, and I reiterate, the old oven was nasty. But I swiped the control panel with the idea to turn it into a light fixture for over the sink. Two years ago, my dad re-wired it so the clock, timer, and indicator light work, and set it up so the dial that controlled the oven temperature would operate the light as a dimmer dial.

I came up with the idea to use it as a drawer face and the whole thing could slide and and out if repairs needed to be made. Then we constructed the drawer. I'll give my dad a lot of credit, he was figuring this complicated project on the go. But, it was done.

Back at my apartment, I nervously drilled the cleats into the cabinets. The drawer slid in snugly. It functions perfectly and looks great. 
Just in time, about a week before my 4th anniversary in my space, completing a 3 year 5-phase kitchen remodel. Done, yay!

After this was complete, and I had but one project left in my dad's woodshop, which is now 75% complete. Yay, finishing unfinished business!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Saved by the Bell #4 ANNOTATED

I was originally slated to draw every third issue; but not long after I completed the art for "Fashion Don't," I was informed it would be used as issue 2, and I was asked if I could draw issue 4 post haste. Ask any fellow I've dated—I never say "no" so away we went consuming the better part of February.

Enjoy the cover and stock art from Chynna, and settle back for "Screech-a-Date."

As often as I could in this story, I tried to create visual symmetry with the panel layout. I thook the challenge to myself very seriously. You won't get a sense of it in digital, but hopefully it will be very apparent when the stories are in print. 

PAGE 1, panel 3 we have a poster for the BrontĂ« sisters—all three! You know me, I love their depressing novels...Jane Eyre, Tennant of Wildfell Hall, Wuthering Heights, all among my favs.

PAGE 2, Slater is wearing the t-shirt I designed and available on my website "Haifischbaby" though it's colored here as light blue.

PAGE 2, panel 1 features the indie gay boy, Jeff, that I drew into the backgrounds of issue 2 at the left of the panel. At the right of the panel, we see Cannonball, Danielle Moonstar, Magma, and some other girl I intended to represent as The New Mutants.

PAGE 3, panel 1 we have a poster for a big fight, Northstar vs. Kyle, Marvel's out gay couple I drew in Nation X.

PAGE 4, I added Lisa's unscripted stretches to add interest for me.

PAGE 4, panel 6, the PSA "check yourself" was inspired by the girls in my high school graduating class. What they said was a lot nastier, so I cleaned it up for Bayside.

PAGE 5, panel 4 I got to use my favorite explosion effect that has been in use since 1998.

PAGE 5, panel 6 was quite a controversy—you see draft 3 published. I was really happy with the first version, but it didn't capture the spirit of the joke. Ultimately I downloaded this app developed by a university in Vienna that maps combined expressions. I drew it just as the app shows but the result has a Kelly that looked old and hag-like. No one was happy with that, so on to draft 3, a wildly exaggerated goofy expression. Good enough.

PAGE 6, etc. Originally, the Max was not going to be styled after the TV show's set. After I submitted inks, there was a change of plans. So, I had to draw new backgrounds, digitally wipe out the existing backgrounds and layer in the new. 

I love the way PAGE 7 turned out! I did a nice job on the trees and particularly like panel 5.

Nice perspective work on PAGE 8.

PAGE 9, though in the background, Jeff's reading and stretching is far more interesting than the conversation in the foreground. Also, we see a flyer for Jimmy James' trivia at the Precinct Bar, Tuesday nights. Just after I submitted inks, Precinct shut down for renovations. When it re-opened 6 months later as the upscale hipster dive bar Brass, they eliminated the trivia night.

PAGE 10, panel 6. I had suggested placement for the word balloons which never came to be. So the pacing feels off to me, and there is a lot of white space.

PAGE 11, ha, Van Gogh and You.  Panels 5 and 6 I drew as scripted, but then everyone realized that the joke needed either Lisa worked into panel 5 or to be edited. As it was already colored and I was leaving on a business trip, I wasn't game to re-draw it. So it's an edited joke.

PAGE 12, panel 3, Jeff is wearing a beaver bullet T-shirt also available on my site. Panel 4, random dude wearing another of my Ts, Johnny's Magnet, sadly colored in green.

Overall, a better output from me than #2...fewer smudges to correct, fewer edits to make, felt like I was back in the groove! Onward!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Hrm—Let's say "January Update"

Completing SBTB #2, thinking, that was fun, it probably won't repeat, I turned back to my own comics with the verve that New Year's brings. Over the next few weeks, I finished annotating THE COMPLETE (AND ANNOTATED) ARCHE-LADY VOLUME 1, all 556 pages! The series, more or less, from 1991-1996.

This is not complicated, but labor intensive. In 2011, I scanned (tedious) all 1000+ pages of the art from the series that I drew from 1991-2001. Then, I had to place and resize the files (tedious) from V1 into InDesign. Then, add my notes (fun!), and export (tedious).

So, 3/4 of the process is tedious x 556 for V1. I was about to turn to the annotation of V2 late January, when my SBTB editor contacted me and advance the work of my next assignment. I was glad it was going to happen, and sooner than expected! 

Here's the draft of the cover for V1. More soon—

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Saved by the Bell #2 ANNOTATED

I finished inking this New Year's Day, and make some edits to the inks once the colors were complete. Lots of consistency errors, such as Lisa would be wearing some jewelry on page 2, but not page 3, etc. 

It had been a while since I had drawn a comic, and I was definitely rusty, despite my warm up period. Inking especially, was a smudgy experience. Lots of correction fluid on the pages of Saved by the Bell #2!

But here's an inside look at the issue. You'll have to buy it to follow along, which I hope you did on March 4!

The cover is by Chynna Clugston. She draws the odd-numbered issues of the series, and the covers, as well as setting the character style guide. She is amazing, and I am honored to be such a close part of a project that she's on. I've been a fan of her solo series Blue Monday for a long time.


Lisa's outfits here and the whole issue, are ripped from the pages of Seventeen magazine. I hadn't ever looked at Seventeen!

Shout-outs on the posters hanging to Marvel, my series Cavalcade of Boys, and an ad for French Club as I've studied French (poorly) for many years. Colorist got the flag wrong though.


Shout-out to my OGN Strugglers, though obstructed by the letterer.


Ha, Jessie's book is titled, Subject.


Had to research random teachers that appeared on the show for this page.

Panel 2, first appearance of, let's call him Jeff, the gay indie boy that is a recurring background character in my art.

Panel 4, I forget what this was supposed to be a shout-out to.

Panel 5, Jeff panel-bombing again.


At first, there was no style set for the MAX. By the end of the issue, it was decided to go with the TV show set, as if anyone would hang out there present day. But it was too late to change for this issue.


Possibly the only full page I really like of this issue.


Panel 1 is nice. My Co-worker Rosheen, a huge SBTB fan, is there, as is my friend Adam, who lent me some pens for inking this. I couldn't find them locally, couldn't wait for an online order, yet I had a deadline. Thanks, Adam!


Jeff panel-bombs panel 2.

PAGE 10—awful!


Fashion channel's offices utilize Saarinen Tulip Chairs, designed in 1953.

Panel 4, poster for the Jane Austen Society.


Panel 3, Jeff's reading in the background.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Oops—mid-year updates

Ok, looking back to my ambitions for 2014, I was rather too ambitious for who I am today.

I've kept up with my Saved by the Bell assignment, which has been fantastic. I have a great editor, the script is fun to draw, and it's an important step for my comics, professionally speaking. Great, yes? Yes.

Each 12 page shortie takes me about a month to complete (pencil, edit, ink, edit) before and after working at MIT. The assignment is the series' even-numbered issues—more or less—one month on, one month off.

I'd thought I could keep pace on my off-months with my own pet projects (Arche-Lady compilation; Arche-Lady SPECIAL #s 13, 14; Cavalcade mini, Baby Makes Three). Nope. 

Sadly, the assignment comes to me about 5 years too late, both in terms of the peak of my production capabilities, drive, and draftsmanship. While I think my art is still solid, and I've not faltered on the deadline, I'm simply not able to keep burning the candle at both ends. 

In short, I love the assignment, and I love my down time.

In the coming weeks, I'll offer up some details about how I've spent 2014, but in the meantime, here's a quick update on all my boastful New Year's plans:
  •  Saved by the Bell —issues 2, 4, 6 e-published and TPB due soon. Issue 8 inks submitted. PASS
  • Sign up for New York Comic Con—applied but rejected. FAIL
  • Cavalcade of Boys "Quickies" mini—3 of 8 pages drawn; won't have in time for Boston Comic Con. FAIL
  • Baby Makes Three—no progress. FAIL
  • Arche-Lady compilation—completed V1, V2 not yet started. FAIL
  • ArcheLady SPECIAL #s 13, 14—no progress. FAIL
  • Make new business cards—complete. PASS
  • Make new convention banner—incomplete, not likely to have in time for Boston Comic Con. FAIL
Oh well. In the meantime, enjoy this sketch of Kelly Kapowski, which was one of 3 final character sketches that got me the SBTB job.

UPDATE: I just finished and uploaded my new banner. If it functions properly, I will have it in time for Boston Comic Con. Might just be a PASS after all!  

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Saved by the Bell

Secret revealed! It's Saved by the Bell

Lion Forge Comics acquired the right to do a SBTB comic, and hired Chynna Clugston as lead artist. Right time, right place, with me at NYCC and Greg pimping me over to Lion Forge. Yay!

I'll be a regular back up story artist, with my first story slated for issue 3. Not sure if it'll be precisely monthly after that or a bit random but regular. 

Was a lot of fun sketching the characters, pushing closer to Chynna's style guide. The series is set in present day, so I spent a lot of time looking at Seventeen magazine for the latest teen girl fashions.

That's all I'll say for now. I'm excited to get the next script late this month. In the meantime, more work on the Arche-Lady compilation!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Damn you, Monica Gallagher!

Monica just posted her ambitious (doable, knowing her!) comics goals for 2014. She didn't mean it, but the gauntlet was thrown down! Here we go with my art goals for this year:

Secret Shorties

After I picked up a last-minute cancelled booth in artist alley during New York Comic Con in October, I was approached for an ongoing comics project.

The publisher wouldn't like me to  say much about it yet, but more or less, I'd be doing a 12 page shortie per month. It's a nice pace, a nice page rate, and fun subject matter. 

I just completed the inks for the first shortie yesterday. To the right is a awkward slicing from page 9 panel 3. If you can guess what the assignment is from this, you will earn the page as a prize. Good luck!

I don't know how long the series will last, or even if I will be picked up after this shortie...but, if I am, and the series isn't cancelled, my first goal is to stick with this for a year, all 2014, 12 pages per month of the secret shorties.

Baby OGN

If I can ramp up to something of my former pace through 2010, then I should be able to get in a few pages per month of my half-finished OGN about the straight people and their baby. Greg offered to edit the second half so it could be pushed into a better place. If I can get a few pages in per month from March-August, I could have it in time for NYCC.

Arche-Lady compilation

I abandoned this after scanning all 1000 pages of the series which I worked on from 1992-2002. After I got all jazzed about comics post-NYCC, I started with the annotation of the series, and got through about 400 pages. Obviously, 2 500-page books intended only as xmas 2014 gifts for my friends is a high-effort low-impact project, but I want to do it, damn it. You won't want to buy this, trust me.

Cavalcade mini

I've got one page completed, and 7 more scripted. Cover planned out and everything. Seems reasonable to have in time for NYCC and Angouleme, yes?

New York Comic Con

If I have a new OGN and a collection of secret shorties (as the publisher plans to have) then it'll be totally worth it to do NYCC in October. So on the goals list are cards (I didn't have any last year!), and a new banner thingie. 

Angouleme Festival

Ok, technically, that'll be January 2015, but all the commitment and prep will have to occur in 2014. I'll need to have a little French mini, a poster, and I hope to finish the faux magazine cover I started when I last attended the festival, as a freebie handout.

Ok, this list is absurd. Unless the secret shorties fall through and then there's room to spare for some unforeseen project. 

Yay, 2014! Yay, Monica!

Oh—since she asked, I will too: do you have anything you want to see from me in 2014? Blog entries? Pics of me in undies? etc.?