Saturday, November 19, 2016

We're not whining!

First, I state my regret for not posting my opinion on the election, Hilary, and Trump, back in October as I had intended to. Given the polls, I thought it wasn't all that important for me to preach to my small choir. But I see now how wrong that was. It's important to say what you believe in, so here I'm putting it out on the internet's porch to see what cats lick it up.

I've heard a lot of people describe the Democrats' and Hilary supporters of "whining" and feeling "bitter" that our gal didn't win. Maybe there is some of that. But for many, if not most, it's more of an expression of fear. Fear of losing the rights and privileges that were fought for for so long and we're still fighting for.

This may be very difficult for a straight white male to understand, since these rights and privileges I'm talking about you've enjoyed since 1776. The only significant new right granted to white men that I know of is the right to vote at age 18, and you may not get too fired up about that without a draft (if I understand correctly, the main controversy during the Vietnam conflict was that men were being drafted at age 18 but couldn't vote until 21...).

So let me put it in other terms for you. You're familiar with the religious order of the Shakers, right? Known for their simple living, architecture, furniture, appliances (the modern broom was invented by them!), and equality of the sexes, and (gulp) celibacy. So the celibacy bit drove them basically into extinction, but let's imagine a world in which it didn't: more people joined up in support of the zero-growth population movement or whatever. And let's say they cleverly jerrymandered the electoral districts to win elections despite being a political minority. And let's say a Shaker zealot was elected as leader.

Now do you understand our fear? That this zealot may try to impose equality of the sexes and celibacy on you. And you don't want that! And just when you think, "well, let's go in with an open mind," the first actions the President-elect takes are to appoint an anti-your religion person to a key post. And then suggests a Supreme Court Justice nominee who has publicly stated that it should be illegal for you to have sex in your own home to honor the Shaker celibacy. That this President-elect was going to remove rights and privileges that you value...and in short, to impose their views on you and make you conform to their way of life.

That's exactly what is happening with Trump right now. The appointment of the white-supremacist and anti-Semitic Bannon and the suggestion to appoint the anti-gay Pryor (who believe gays should be jailed for having sex in their own homes) have confirmed our worst fears. So for women, minorities—blacks especially, gays, and people who love any of them, or are married to them, or have biracial children, or have gay relatives or friends, etc.etc. etc., the outcome of the election is more than just a "bummer." It's an attack on our fought-for civil liberties.

Maybe you didn't understand that when you voted for Trump. Or maybe you live in a part of the country that needs work, and you simply want a job and food on your table. I get it, I forgive you. But in the coming months, if you believe in equality, then we'll need you. We'll need your support against the decisions and policies and policy-makers who seek to remove the rights of your friends and neighbors.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Black Lives Matter

All 14 significant black characters in 1970s DC Comics (ish). Who am I missing?
I don't have anything really new to add to the discussion, but I can't delay saying it any further: black lives matter.

I've always thought it, but one bit I read along the way summed it up saying, "it's no longer good enough to not be a racist, you need to declare you believe black lives matter."

My thoughts are pretty much in agreement with John Halstead's as stated on the Huffington Post a few months back. The only thing I'd add is, politically correct labels are tricky. Maybe you heard from the black community while you were growing up that "African American" was more respectful...and maybe now you still can't muster it to say "black."

I've heard often the argument that on a personal level some people feel that they're now losing out on what should be theirs or their children's because jobs, spots at top colleges, are going to less qualified people for the sake of diversity. Maybe that's true, and maybe it isn't. One of my favorite critiques of Gwenyth Paltrow (whom I adore, actually), described her success along the lines of "it's easy to score a run if you start out on third base." Similarly, if you are denied your run from third base, for the sake of someone on first—but that person had to sacrifice a meal to buy their uniform, protest their way into the game, and widdle their own bat, who is more qualified after all?

All this I say, thinking of me, which is what I do best. I have achieved an awful lot for myself, growing up squarely lower-middle class. I attended mediocre public schools, and had no family connections. But still, my parents made sure I had they best they could give, including the uniform and the bat, and of course, I had open admittance to the game. Growing up, they had less than they gave me. And their parents had less. My grandmother was essentially orphaned by age 10 and worked her way through high school with two jobs. You too may think back of your family's historic hardships thinking you deserve certain things.

But the reality it, if we keep tracing our roots back, pretty much all whites, latinos, Asians came to this country on their on free will--and had the means to do so. Blacks, on their other hand, did not. Sold off from their homes as property, and in many if not most cases treated worse than pets. Pretty much the only group of people treated as badly (though in different ways) have been Native Americans.

So please, if you can't say "black lives matter," I simply ask that you ask yourself why you can't. Challenge yourself and your logic. Think of more than just yourself. And talk about it. This country is on a destructive path, and it's up to us to change.


Saved by the Bell V2 ANNOTATED

Complete series cover by Chynna Clugston Flores
Have you bought your Saved by the Bell Freshman Year compilation from Roar? Do it!

Sadly, this compilation of V1 and V2 will be the complete run for us. The license ran out, my editor moved on, and it's time for us to do the same. But first, let's walk through the second volume. If you didn't see my notes on my V1 art, click the tag for "Saved by the Bell."

I have mixed feelings about V2. I was crazy busy at my day job during the production of the stories, and the deadlines of everything combined was really stressful. But I look at some of the art here and think, "well, alright, still pretty good."

Overall, there are fewer inside jokes and bits snuck in, but here we go (page numbering from Freshman Year):

"Just Married"

This was my favorite SBTB story to draw. Loved Ox and Lisa; some homo-subtext with Zack and Screech. Just a joy to draw!

P157 P1: Screech is wearing a T with a Mayan symbol I had recently seen at a museum in Paris. Miss Wentworth came from Google image searching from the show--she was an actual character! Eames desk chairs and chairs throughout this story, too! Fred and Daphne from Scooby Doo in the back row next to Ox.

P158 P3: My recurring background character indie gay boy Jeff gets huggy in front of Fred and Daphne; Leslie and Herbert from V1 also still a couple and appear in the backgrounds throughout this story.

P160 P1: Far right, is a girl in a Betty (Bat-Girl) Kane dress, carrying a tennis racket (Betty's first love), behind Kate with her trademark umbrella in mini backpack.

P160 P5: My oft-used explosion effect.

P162: I really liked this page. I hated the Jesse character on the show, but I imagined her as a a lipstick lesbian when I drew her, so liked her more.

P163: More Eames in the library. I loved drawing Lisa and Ox; their dynamic (though exaggerated) reminded me of my sister and pretty much every BF she's ever had.

P164: P1 More touch-action for Jeff. P3-4 "twin sister" poster for my friend Matt, who has a twin sister.

P166: Miss Wentworth sports a dress inspired by Kara Zor-el from the 70s.

P167 P6: Jeff sports a "haifischbaby" T designed and sold me me.

P168 P6: hearts for Jeff and his skinny boy BF.

"Rumor With a View"

I hated this story, it was a lot of talking. From Jesse about Slater. Ugh. But still got kudos from my editor for making some interesting things happen.

P185 P1: another example of me compressing scripted panels 1-3 to make a half-splash. Here, the gang takes second place to Jeff and his skinny boy BF in the center. Happy with this page...though the perspective gave me a run for my money...

P186 P1: Jesse has a book titled Bra Town in her locker!

P186 P6: I haven't used the flower effects since Cavalcade in 2006!

P187 P1: Krueger fiberglass chairs.

P187 P4: Poster for the BBC show Do Not Adjust Your Set.

P188 P1: Kate with her backpack and umbrella.

P189: I loved this page with the shrubbery.

P190: I loved this page more...shrubbery plus shirtless Slater. Plus fun Kelly in P6.

P191: Jeff and his BF bicker.

P192 P1: poster for Slumbrew's comedy night (every Sunday).

P192 P2: poster for Race for the Cure...featuring Robert Smith. :-)

P192 P4: Ox, Leslie, Herbert in BG.

P193 P2: Rabbit book in the locker.

P191 P3: not sure what this poster was.

"Hats Off"

This is probably my second favorite story to draw. Lots of fun stuff going on with the cursed hat, and some fun splashy stuff to draw. Plus Ox. I love drawing him!

P199 P1: Bayside Chess team poster and I can't recall what the other was meant to be.

P200 P1-3: Several glimpses of Backpack Kate and Jeff. More Krueger fiberglass chairs.

P200 P5: McCobb Planner Group dresser 1509.

P201 P4-7: I had to scrap the first draft as the writer and editor wanted to invoke a feeling of a lots of time passing with Zack stationary. Here I drew the background once, and layer over several characters, some which recur over the 4 panels, others don't. A reasonable solution!

P202: I thought this was a prank when I read the script...Slater wrestling in a singlet?!? For me?!? It felt like a gift. Luxuriate on this page.

P202 P1: More Kate, plus Herbert and Leslie milling about.

P202 P5: My friend Scott is really "into" wrestling, and as tribute to him and our friendship, I asked him to send me a few of his favorite wrestling pics. This panel draws from one of them I thought worked best.

P203: Another fun page to draw, Kelly getting nailed by the basketball. I get to use my explosion effect.

P204 P3: Jeff wearing a Tin from Metal Men T; creepy stalker lurking too.

P205 P1:

P205 P2: McCobb Planner Group desk 1561.

P206: Among my favorite pages to draw of the series! I loved the way the bonfire in P3 turned out with the light and shadows. I think I managed to pull off the tiny panels well, against some big splashy stuff. Plus Ox! He may be the unofficially 7th Beller.

P207 P1: Poster is obscured, but it reads, "Cheer try outs and coffee house." Kelly wearing a 1976 Supergirl T & hotpants combo.

P207 P2: Ox carrying a Math for Jocks textbook. Last Ox I think :-(

P208 P1: Poster for my upcoming anthology, Love Street.

P208 P2: Joelle's script describes "a tall hot guy approaches Jesse." and his lines are attributed to "GUY" like so:

GUY:  Are you Jesse Spano?

At the time I was drawing this, one of my co-workers, by the name of Guy, was leaving Boston for Seattle. I made this Guy look sort of like our Guy (tall, insanely broad shoulders and insanely narrow waist). One poster behind him is of a sneaker (Guy had/has a sneaker fetish); the other is a poster from the "we miss you club" with little drawings of my co-workers in a heartfelt tribute to Guy.


By now I was slipping further behind deadline, and really stressed out. Fortunately, this script was much easier to draw with the beach-y backgrounds. Though is did limit the inside jokes and recurring background characters I was inserting. Fun  to draw the guys in swimtrunks, plus lifeguards!

P213 P1: The only glimpse of Backpack Kate. Some weird layering of the title font over Zack's hand.

P220-221: For all you Kelly fans, I gave you as much bikini action close-up as I could!

P224-226: I drew the hospital scene first, since it was the toughest. Lots of talking in bed, but I I like the way it turned out.


That's all for Saved by the Bell! I'm both sad and relieved we're not moving on to sophomore year. I wracked up just under 100 pages in the series, and overall, I am pleased with my efforts. Since so much of the script was talking, locker scenes, the Max, and classrooms, I tried to take every moment to do my best layout and inking. And, when it came time for splapstick, I dove in there too. Plus I got to draw a few alt locations (the mall, the studio, the ski lodge, the beach, etc.). So the series wasn't my usual fare, but I 99% loved working on it and am grateful I had the opportunity! Joelle's scripts were spot on in series' tone; my editor Adam (mostly :) pushed me to better places; and it's an honor to be side-by-side with one of my favorite artists, Chynna.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

We're in a drought!—conserve

Jay Scott Pike, known for his "Good Girl Art", created "Dolphin" for DC Comics in 1968.
If you're a native New Englander like me, you're probably not used to droughts or conserving water. New England tends to be pretty naturally ample in that crazy diversions from rivers hundreds of miles away or anything. The reservoirs just fill up. Clearly, I have not researched this.

But here we are in a drought now, and no judgements about you or your water use, but it's time to conserve as many towns are at dangerously low water levels.

Here are a few things you can do that will make a big difference:

1) Don't water your lawn or wash your car. This is an easy one for my city-dwelling friends who neither have a lawn nor own a car. But for those of you who don't, give it a rest. I still see people at the car washes. I want to picket!

2) Turn the water off while you brush your teeth. I think most people do this already, but there it is.

3) Don't use your garbage disposal. They're the worst. You take potable water, and ruin it by creating a garbage puree just so you don't have to scrape your plate into the garbage.

4) Shower European style. If you've stayed with friends or AirBnB in Europe, you know the hot water tanks don't hold much. So one rinses down, turns the water off, then lathers up, then water back on to rinse. And, quickly.

5) Shower less. You probably don't need to shower daily, or the 2-3x daily you might be showering. Read this article by TIME magazine if you don't believe me. It wasn't all that long ago that most people didn't shower daily. Try going retro.

Again, no judgements, but do what you can. Myself, I've done #s 1-3 for years, and started #4 during this drought. I'm not up to #5 yet.

Good luck!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Baby OGN update

Believe it or not, there is something of an update about this OGN I can't ever finish.

But first, let me share that this week has been awful! I awoke Monday feeling sick and by that night, I had a fever of 101+ that persisted most of Tuesday. I was somewhat function Wednesday-Thursday but the fever came back Thursday night, and Friday I pretty much lost my voice. It has barely come back.

But eesh, after so much couch time after hurting my back, and this past week due to the unexplained by my doctor illness, I am really tired of television.

Ok, back to the Baby book. You'll recall from past posts that I had written and drawn 6 chapters as vignettes back in 2005. I got distracted with my first Marvel assignment that Fall, and all kinds of projects in 2006. But I published the first 3 chapters in Something Fishy... in late 2006.

From there I got distracted with many things, year by year, until I picked it back up in 2011. I re-outlined the second half, attempting to give it more structure rather than the collection of vignettes it started as. I also wrote chapter 7 and drew 1.5 pages of it.

Then it sat again until earlier this year.

I had shared the original 6 chapters with Greg and the outline. He encouraged me to finish it...that it was cute and relevant. Accepting, too, that it would be far easily to finish this book than start one from scratch, I moved forward, and re-outlined the second half again. And re-wrote chapter 7. I've also drawn 3 more pages and drafted the cover. Wheee!

But something was nagging me about my outline. It was too much for what it was. So I condensed it from a 12 chapter outline to 10 chapters. Meaning, if and when I ever finish chapter 7, I'll only have 3 more to go.

Pretty awful for a book I hoped to have at New York Comic Con in a month from now. Booooo procrastination and sloth! 

Anyway, you should be following me on Instagram to see little snippets of drawings from this book and other stuff.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

August, yuck

Didn't mean to leave you hanging! But here's August.

First, I'll remind you that summer is never good for me. I'm not sure if I simply "dislike summer" or if I suffer from SAD in summer (it's real!—go research it!).

Next, I'll say when all one has to worry about is minimizing strife and maximizing happiness, you really don't have a bad life. But when a bunch of rich white men fled the wealthiest nation in the world to become richer, they put some pretty awesome thoughts to paper, which we all want to be true.

To the point, I hurt my back! Actually, I hurt it in summer 2006, moving lots of boxes about at San Diego Comic Con. Ultimately not severe, but it did take weeks to regain full mobility. Since then, it doesn't take much to re-do whatever I did. But when I have, the recovery period isn't terribly long.

Until 7/31, when I was moving furniture about. Yeow, this was the worst since 2006! I couldn't do much at all, but slowly regained my mobility. During this time, I had lots of time to think, and no ability to do—always a bad combination for me.

About a year ago, I started to consider what I wanted to do with life next. I reconnected with old colleagues, career mentors, and talked, and listened. I spun around and around and arrived where I started. Either I can't do what I actually want, so I don't care what I do; or, I don't want to do anything. I mean, at all. Day job feels like a cop out; and whenever I over-invest emotionally there, I'm always miserable. Comics is a dead end; my moment has past and my sensibility is pas...not that I can even draw like I used to. 

I'm not being defeatist much either. I was in PT last summer for the pain I was experiencing drawing. I'm in PT again for the other back issues...which seem to have surfaced another issue, all caused from drawing. Perhaps these steps I'm taking will simply allow me to keep  pushing forward. But it all seems a bit pointless.

I'm told I'm having an existential crisis; or a mid-life crisis. Maybe I'll simply feel better once Fall arrives.

In the meantime, it turns out that thanks to syndication and cable, you can watch the entire Two Broke Girls run in a few weeks. I don't watch much TV, so this show was new to me, and hit me like a lightning bolt! Where did it come from? When did it happen?

At first, I thought, "This is vulgar. This is weak." Then I thought, "This is pretty much how my coworkers and I talk to one another." And, I do like the chemistry between the two main characters.

Anyway, I have some more serious thoughts mulling around in my head I may express soon...on racism, on sexism, on feminism, on the election. Let's see if I can pull something coherent together.

But for now, I need to find out if that cupcake business is ever going to take off. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

2016 Progress

I made a lot of bold plans when traveling last November!

Once, maybe about 3/4 of my bold plans came to fruition, now I'm lucky if any do. Ever since I moved into the artist building—6 years ago!—my art production and motivation for art have plummeted. Oh well.

But here's what I've been up to since I made my bold plans:

To get back into the swing of things, I penciled and inked a gothic shortie written by Greg Lockard for our poison press presents anthology with Monica Gallagher. PLUS I concluded my 3 month eBay/CL sell-a-thon...lots of furniture, comic books, and knick-knackery sold! 

Penciled and inked Saved by the Bell V2 #4. This was a challenge: I was serving as an interim "senior director" at my day job since September...and to boot, I now had two vacancies on my regular team. So I had a vast amount of extra work, plus I was running two searches.

Penciled and inked Saved by the Bell V2 #5. By now I was drowning and had to ask my boss to take work off my plate, including one of the searches. Fortunately, the other search concluded successfully with a great hire.

Penciled and inked Saved by the Bell V2 #6. I was officially miserable, but kept pushing to hit my deadline despite March being my busiest month of my day job year, and the only time of year I have to travel for work.

Spent the month catching up on all the things I let slide at work for the past quarter. 

Caught up with all the personal things I let slide for the past 4 months.

Back to the drawing board, Greg and I reworked "Re-Infinity," and I penciled and inked the sci-fi entry for poison press presents. I love the way it turned out!

No art this month, though I did keep trying to rework the second half to Baby Makes Three. Frustrated with my progress, I turned back to furniture to refinish, and eBay/CL to sell off action figures I customized and more furniture, books, and miscellany.

Next post, I will talk about August. It's been not-good (that's me trying to be positive). For now, here's a sketch I did recently. Started off as random lines and became an aerial view of a city block.

Monday, July 4, 2016

By Jack Kirby and Tim Fish

When I was last at Angouleme, a representative from the Kirby Museum asked me to ink this pencil drawing by Jack "King" Kirby.

Ok, ok, they asked everyone who attended the exhibit. But it was still fun. Kirby's pencils are so tight, there's not much room for creative license. But there's a little Tim Fish in there.