Heroescon

It’s been a bit crazy around the house lately. I’ve been traveling almost every weekend for the past month and my daughter, Kahlan had her second birthday party this past weekend so I haven’t had much time for posting. I’ll be traveling again this weekend to HeroesCon where I’ll be sitting at a table with writer Van Jensen. If you want a copy of Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer signed by both of us, this is the easiest and best way to do that. We’ll be a booths 438 and 439 in Indie Island, next to some great talent, Andy Runton and Rob Venditti.I’ve posted a map below.

 

I’ll also have copies of my newest book, “Knights of the Living Dead” available, I’ll post more details about that later. It looks like it’s going to be a great show. There’s going to be a lot of terrific talent. I’m actually hoping I have time to walk around and meet some of the great artists and writers that are going to be there.

TeenBookCon

So I should note Van and I will be at TeenBookCon in Houston, Texas next Saturday, April 14. I only get around to being in Texas every couple of years so if you’re wanting to talk comics or just get a book signed by Van or I you should come check it out. Did I mention admission was free? Talk about a plus. Oh yeah, and there will be other writers and artists there, in case coming to meet Van and I weren’t enough.

Pinocchio volume 3, is nearly finished on my end. Soon I’ll be free to work on other projects, and I already have several lined up. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to soon post some of the awesome concept artwork I’ve been doing for these books. I’ve been following several artists who’ve been posting their warmup sketches, and I’d really like to do more posting like that.

 

In fact, I’ll post one now, even though technically it’s a cooldown sketch, not a warmup. Here’s the first look at a character from a project that I hope to explore more over the summer. For now I’ll call it Virginia, but that’s not what it’s gonna be called.

 

Virginia is not the project name, but I needed to call it something.

 

On Pinocchio, inspiration, and plans

 

I’m feeling nostalgic. As I watch each page materialize under my pen I can’t help but look at where I started and how far I’ve come. The image above is from the latest and third book in the Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer series which I started, with the help of Van Jensen, back in 2008. Back then I had never worked on a graphic novel. Sure I’d worked on long-running newspaper comic strips, some with long story arcs that probably could have filled the space of a graphic novel. But, I’d never sat down and worked on a book. I was curious. I was excited. I was going to try it and see what happened.

PinocchioWhile I had several stories to choose from, I chose Pinocchio. It was only going to be one book, so I’d finish that and be able to work on one of the numerous other, longer, stories floating around in my brain. I started writing it and things just weren’t clicking, so I called up Van, who I knew wanted to write comics. I knew I had a good idea, and Van went and made it better. Collaborating with him is easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made (Besides getting married to a beautiful woman and having a beautiful baby of course. Sorry for getting off the subject. I’ve learned to play it safe.). Van kept the spirit of my original idea alive along with introducing his own fantastic ideas while also inspiring me to come up with new ideas of my own. Sometimes we’ll joke that we can’t remember who came up with what, although I’m pretty sure we both have favorite one-liners that we’ll lay claim to if asked. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to work with on this endeavor.

In the middle of working on the first book, we both realized we had more than one book’s worth of story. But no one was sure how successful the story would be. Admittedly many people didn’t believe we could write one book about Pinocchio slaying vampires, much lessthree. At the suggestion of our publisher, Dan Vado, we wrote the ending to the first PVS book in a way that the story would feel complete. Then it happened. People liked the story. A lot. So Van and I got the go ahead to finish the story we started, and we got to do it the way we wanted to. Those other ideas I had would have to wait while we devoted the next two years to working on the next two books. And the story expanded, with Van and I letting the reigns of creativity lead us down paths I don’t think we ever imagined it would have taken us, introducing us to characters we never could have believed we’d meet during a phone call back in 2008.Pinocchio

I work on the books at night. When I’m pushing my deadline I’ll work on them 7 days a week for months, often staying up until 1 or 2 a.m. only to get up and go to work in the morning. It can be… exhausting, and at the same time so refreshing. I can sit down to work on a page barely able to keep my eyes open, and then I’m wide awake, furiously scribbling as I bring to life puppets on a screen. Sometimes I feel ridiculous for working so hard on a story about puppets slaying vampires. I think to myself… is it really worth all this work? But I know the answer. I have as much choice in this as a dog does about chasing a squirrel. I don’t draw the story, the story makes me draw. Sometimes I feel like I’m cursed like Pinocchio, he’s stuck as a wooden boy, and I’m stuck drawing this book without any way to will myself away from it. Quitting is not a choice I have.

I’ve always been told I’m pretty good at drawing. I probably get told that too often. Sometimes it helps to get a good kick in the pants in that regard. I got one earlier this week after talking to an editor about getting some more regular work drawing (something other than Pinocchio). It was a fairly defeating note, particularly because I respected the author, and because they still tried to be pretty nice about it… and because I believe they were right. I think for most artists, when they receive that kind of criticism, the immediate response is to throw their hands up. Is it worth it? Is it worth the exhaustion, the late nights, the time spent away from friends and family locked away working? Maybe it’s time to say you’ve given it your best shot and call it a day. But I’ve decided to take that note with a sense of optimism. Perhaps the same fate that put me in a situation to get to work with Van is steering me in a different direction than I think I should go. I look at where I’ve come as an artist; how much I’ve grown. I look at where I’m going. It helps to have somebody show you the ground occasionally. I think I was getting too close to it. Now I’m once again moving forward and upward. And as tired as I am, I feel refreshed. I feel alive again, alive in a way that I can’t explain to anyone who hasn’t felt it.

Admittedly, this could also just be feelings of extreme exhaustion… I know, I just killed the moment.

Below is a panel of PVS 3 that I drew tonight. Three years ago I never would’ve attempted drawing a character from such a weird angle. Now? I relish the opportunity to challenge myself. Keep an eye out folks, there’s going to be more where that came from.

House by a creek

So as I’ve been experimenting with new techniques, I came across a speed painting video that used an interesting technique for environment studies. Here was my first attempt at mimicking the technique. While I see room for refinement, I was pretty happy with it, considering I only spent 30 min. to an hour on it. I enjoyed working on it though, so you’ll probably see me post more stuff like this as I get time. Right now things are moving pretty steady on Pinocchio. Because I was sick around the holidays and didn’t get a chance to work as much as I needed to meet my personal deadlines, I’ve upped the number of pages I work on daily from 1 to 2. So far it just marginally affects the amount of sleep I get per night, and I’ve made significant ground on catching back up to my old schedule. Still, I’ll probably just keep this going so I can finish off PVS3 earlier rather than later.

Holiday craziness

I’m way behind on updating this blog. The holidays along with some sort of super bug virus have trashed my productivity the last month. Thankfully, the holidays are over and I’m feeling better, so let’s start with some news on the Knights of the Living Dead book and some new art. This weekend I finished the last of the covers for the digital issues of the story. Here’s a few examples.

 

Digital issues covers for Knights of the Living Dead

In the meantime you can download the first issue free from SLG’s website or Comixology. I’ve checked, it looks great on an Ipad. Right now it looks like the print version will be released late March.

Speaking of digital downloads, the first two issues of Pinocchio Vampire Slayer 3 are ALSO available. Like Knights the first issue of PVS3 is also free. Each additional issue is only 99-cents and the first two graphic novels are also up there if you missed out on those. I don’t know if you’ve looked around, but that’s the cheapest you’re going to find digital comics issues that aren’t free, way lower than the $3 or $4 some publishers are asking for. If you’ve been waiting for me to finish the book so you can see how the story ends, well, this is the best you’re going to get for a few months. These digital releases give Van and I a chance to show you the book long before it would make it through the print production process. You’re welcome.

On another note, I was surprised to have a box from Dark Horse sitting in my mailbox when I got home from visiting family around Christmas.

Turns out the Turok series that I worked on for a short period of time had finally been completed and they sent me a copy of the trade. It was totally unexpected, but awesome since I’d really liked the direction the story was going and this gave me the opportunity to see where Jim Shooter took the story.  A bonus for me was seeing that they completely switched the art style the issue after I worked on it which provides this amazing opportunity to see how different art can affect the the tone of the story. If you haven’t read this book, I’d recommend it on that alone (besides, that, you know, I also worked on it). But Shooter’s also crafted a pretty cool re-imagining of the original story and I could see where it might have become one of my fav’s up there with Walking Dead and Conan.

 

 

Pinocchio Vampire Slayer 3 and upcoming appearances

I haven’t updated in a while, so tonight I decided to go ahead and put together this. I also finally updated the Pinocchio Vampire Slayer website, which I’ve been meaning to do since July when we announced the title of the 3rd Pinocchio Vampire Slayer book, “Of Wood and Blood.”

Also, for anyone interested, I’ll be speaking about Pinocchio Vampire Slayer and working as an independent creator at the Fayetteville Public Library this Saturday, Oct. 29 at 2:30. More information can be found at the Fayetteville Public Library website.

 

Also, coming up on Nov. 5 from 10 to, I don’t know, 4 or something, I’ll be signing books and giving out buttons at the River City Comic Expo in Sherwood (which is just outside Little Rock in central Arkansas for those of you out-of-towners) along with other talented artists and writers. Had a blast at the last one so I’m looking forward to going again.

Future short project

I’ve been so busy working on pages for Pinocchio Vampire Slayer 3, I haven’t had a lot of time to work on this blog… and honestly, at best I’ll be working on Pinocchio through February. Still, I’d like to keep posting stuff without posting page-by-page spoilers of the new books. I have a certain image I thought would be perfect this week, but I couldn’t find it tonight, thankfully I found something most of you will likely like even better.

Below are the first two pages of a short comic I started, and plan on finishing… right after I finish PVS 3.