I suck at color. Like, really suck. But I want to get better, so I’m practicing. And I’m trying to start somewhere easy (maybe?). My favorite comic book almost ever, Casanova by Matt Fraction, Gabriel Ba, and Fabio Moon, was originally published with a one color palette. The first mini-series was all in different shades of green. The second was all blues. More recent volumes have expanded their palettes and look great – but I was always kind of struck and charmed by the one color look. So, as I’m writing and drawing a story that’s in the process of being accepted (hopefully – waiting to hear back on a new ending) for Red Stylo, I thought I’d play around with color. I don’t know yet if I’ll submit the pages as black and white or as color, but I’m not totally unhappy with how this page came out.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s involved in working freelance. So far, lots of phone calls, texts, and Facebook messages. Contacting and connecting with everybody I can think of that might be a gateway to new work. So if that’s you, and you haven’t heard from me, expect to.
Another thing I’ve been thinking about is branding. There’s a lot I hate about marketing talk. Just the word, “branding” kinda makes me ill. But if I’m going to put myself out there, I need to create and maintain an image and style that will stick with people.
I’ve got several video jobs lined up. I want to have something I can put at the front or back of video jobs that acts as a signature. This is what I’ve come up with so far:
Where to start…
After a seven year run, full of laughs, accomplishment, friendship, frustration, and the occasional bruise, I am no longer employed at Crossroads Christian Church.
I have worked at two churches in my life. One was a nightmare and one was great. I take the same lesson from both of them, though: I am not cut out for church work. It makes too many demands. It mixes the spiritual and the financial in ways that I am no longer comfortable with. I love Crossroads. I’m pretty iffy on the institutional church as a whole, but I don’t hold the majority of it’s sins against Crossroads. It gets more things right than it gets wrong. My hope is that’s always the case.
Comics for one. I’m currently working on an eight page submission for an anthology (more on that once everything’s approved). I’ve also got plans to print all of my short form work in a collection in time for this year’s Kentucky Fried Zine Fest in the spring. Beyond that, I met with a friend last week and laid plans for a really big national venture. There’s months of work to be done before we announce it, but watch this space.
Comics aren’t a money maker for me yet, so in the mean time I’m trying to do a lot of little things instead of chasing down any one thing (at the advice of a trusted friend). I’m designing and directing a haunted attraction for a local Haunted House owner. I’m dipping my toe in the video freelance pool, I’m putting some of my old video work up for sale on some websites that do that kind of thing. I’m figuring out I might not thrive under a boss, so let’s take a crack at being my own. So, like I said, a lot’s new.
This website, going forward, will be a one stop shop for everything I’m involved in, not just comics. Check out the menu bar up above, there are links to my comic work, my video work, and my social media foot print. The comics and video will be updated regularly.
2014 was the year I started writing and drawing my own comics in earnest. What did I accomplish? Let’s see:
1. I completely wrote, drew, inked,and lettered my very first 90 page story, Monster Truck. There’s a real power to just finishing something. To knowing that you can do something. To getting your first baby out into the world. Clearing your plate for your next, inevitably better work.
2. I submitted and was accepted into a comic anthology. I saw on Tumblr that Mindless Entertainment was taking submissions for a comic anthology their doing called, “Steal The Show.” I worked up a short story and sent it off, and was happily accepted in. The anthology will come out in the spring. It will appear online but there are also attempts being made at a printed version and I think it’s going to be submitted to Comixology. So, that’s very exciting. I also submitted to a couple of other anthologies. One, unfortunately, ended up being cancelled and I’m still waiting to hear from the other one. Finger’s crossed.
3. I connected with collaborators. I wrote a three page story for professional artist and former Robert Kirkman collaborator, Terry Stevens. Terry has sent me some preliminary sketches and I love them. I also adapted a song by Fanged Robot/Robby Cosenza into a short story. Robby, by all accounts, loved it and we’re waiting to get together and talk about what future collaborations may lie ahead.
4. I write and draw every day. I get up at 6:00 and belly up to the board. Besides the 90 page Monster Truck, I’ve completed several short stories (many mentioned above). You can see them all here on the site at www.monstertruckcomic.com/comics. I love making comics and I find it completely exciting and invigorating. I will draw every day of 2016. That’s as close as I came to a New Year’s Resolution this year. By 2016, I will be so much better. At least that’s the plan. What other plans do I have for this year? I plan to have a table at my very first comic convention. I plan to self-publish all of my short stories into a collection. I have a friend that’s trying to get me interviewed on a couple of local comics-related podcast.
The end game is that in a few years I have a reliable fan-base that is willing to pay money for my comics. So, watch this space.
I believe in sacred places. Spots where the work comes easier. Place where the veil between your brain and idea space are thinner. I’ve had several. My old desk in my Dad’s auto body shop where I wrote between doing estimates. The harvest table in our dining room and now this studio space in our house. I love the bi window. I love the doors to the rest of the house. The centerpiece is the drawing desk my buddy Todd made for me. I saw one downtown, pointed it out to him, and he just whipped it together. I still have to stain it but I can’t stop working long enough to do it. It’s the perfect height for standing or sitting. I love it. Thanks Todd.
I’ve been updating the comic every week, but have neglected the behind the scenes stuff. Let’s play catchup.
I have finished writing and penciling Monster Truck. I have about ten more pages to ink, letter, and scan.
I hate post production i.e. scanning, cleaning, computer lettering, and re-sizing.
I feel like in the past 6 months my art has really improved. I’ve learned to slow down and take my time. That makes it really hard to upload pages every week that I drew months ago. I look at the stuff I did back then and cringe. I’m sure six months from now I’ll cringe at the stuff I’m doing now. It was so important to me to get this story on paper that I gave myself permission to rush. Prove I could do it once. That kind of thing. I keep kicking around the idea of redoing Monster Truck as single issues, redrawn and hand lettered. I just love the story so much I want it to look the best it can. But redrawing seems like a daunting, joyless task. Still undecided.
I have started several new projects:
Witch Kisser – doing a one issue story that will serve as a lead-in to a long-form multi-issue story. I’m thinking I’m going to publish it as a single issue, physical comic before it goes to the web. It’s about being a fraud, misogyny, religious tolerance, and the stories we tell ourselves about other people. On a more practical level it’s a western about a witch hunter that gets in over his head quick.
Inside Mummy – It’s a heist story! Featuring a mummy! I’m going for funny, manga-like in energy and tone. Something funny and action-packed.
Stomp – I started drawing this story ten years ago. I pulled it out recently and it held up, I thought. It’s a fight comic about a young cyborg woman and crooked cops. I’m starting over and redrawing it.
Moon Rocks – This is my attempt to play the Legion of Super Heroes straight. The Legion of Super Heroes were a bunch of super powered teenagers who lived in a rocket ship and protected the world. My guess is that if you gave a bunch of teenagers super powers and their own rocket ship, things would get cray-cray pretty quickly. Look-wise, this book takes a lot of inspiration from Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors.
I’ve decided that once Monster Truck is finished I’m going to need a brand for all of these comics to exist under. So, allow me to introduce: Spookit Press:
So, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. If you’re reading the comic every week, thank you. It means the world to me. If Google Analytics is right, there aren’t very many of you looking at it every week, but that’s okay. We start where we start.
Here’s what buckets I’m dipping my sponge into these days:
1. Wolf In The White Van by John Darnielle – A great little book by the Mountain Goats frontman. It’s about being and outsider. It’s about not being understood, it’s about escape. It’s friggin awesome. It is everything that’s great about a really good Mountain Goats’ song in book form.
2. Southern Bastards by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour – If you grew up in a small town in the south (or even just a small town probably), especially one that was a little too into high school football, this book will fit like a pair of gloves you don’t remember buying. It reads like an old movie from the seventies that your dad would watch on TV on a Saturday afternoon. It is a pulpy story about a violent prophet without any honor in his hometown. It is great.
Through The Woods – Emily Carroll – A lot of comics try to do horror but most of them end up defaulting to gore and titillation. Emily Carrol does horror. Genuine, psychological, something scratching at the back of your neck, tapped into some universal feelings horror. She has a gift. If you like to be creeped out, like seriously creeped out – get this book.
Harmontown – Dan Harmon is a hero of mine. He is equal parts talent, love, self-loathing, and bone-searing honesty. Harmontown is a documentary that follows him on a countrywide tour that takes his podcast to various cities. You get to see him and his friends embark on a heroes journey. You get to see them disect their own story while they’re living it. And you get to see Harmon’s heart – which is far and away the best part.
Penny Dreadful – I heard this show was bad, but it had everything in it that I love, so I watched it. It’s not bad. It’s a little predictable. The Dorian Grey character is a little too leather pantsy, open shirty, but other than that, it’s a great little show about cowboys fighting monsters. Who doesn’t love a little genre-smooshing?
Strange Negotiations by David Bazan – I don’t have any new music. Bazan is one of my favorite artist and his music has taken on a personal significance to me these days that makes it even more meaningful. It’s too hard to pick a favorite album, but musically, this one is great. It steps a little bit away from the religious critiques of Curse Your Branches into more of a political/social sphere. Bazan has a sharp mind and a sharp tongue.
Between getting the Monster Truck web comic ready to launch (it launched today, check it out over at www.monstertruckcomic.com and a two year old’s birthday, I’ve really fallen behind on Inktober – so here are two more to get me close to caught up.
The fist is Hector Plasm, one of my favorite characters ever. Hector was created by Benito Cereno and Nate Bellegarde. I re-read his stories every October as they are great Halloween reading material. Benito is also a fellow Lexingtonian, so I feel a certain kinship. I drew Hector trying to get some Bi Bim Bop at his favorite Korean place and being interuppted by a Preta (which I think are Korean, if they’re not, I’m really embaressed and so, so sorry. I inked this one with a crow quill, pigmas, and a brush for the big black spots. I think I cranked the levels up too high when I scanned it in. I also pulled a Schultz with Hector and made his head too big.
The second picture is Earl Tubbs from one of the best books I’ve read all year – Southern Bastards by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour. I did this one with a big fat brush covered in big black ink and it was so fun. Latour’s style is so distinct and interesting. It was fun trying to imitate it (poorly).