Monday, July 23, 2018

Original Art Sundays (Monday) No. 259: Sharp Invitations: Curt, sidebar page

Only a day off schedule this week, but pleased with the outcome.
I've been trying to find something to break the tension in the current story. Yes, it was a tense time, but I've read graphic memoirs that are so sad and unrelenting. It's often a rough road. Sometimes, as was the case with Rosalie Lightning, while the book was achingly well done, I couldn't bring myself to finish reading it.
Here I was, considering a way to break the tension, just for a narrative minute. As a result of Emil Ferris' massive and well-earned victory with My Favorite Thing Is Monsters at this year's Eisner awards (I voted for her in every possible category!), I was inspired to reactivate an old idea.
Sidebar: if you haven't read My Favorite Thing Is Monsters yet, do so ASAP.

For a while in the 90s, I was playing with pastiche romance comic covers. One of my favorites involved a cheerleader enrolling at Miskatonic University. I was also tickled by the word play of combining trans and lesbian as a monster thing.
Transylesbian. Ha!
I first worked up a version of this as a self-portrait idea for my senior year at MCAD, but instead I went with a black velvet painting, which I'm a bit sad I no longer have.
The idea for this fake cover resurfaced every now and then. I kept mulling that one day I'd find the right place for the idea to come to life, as it were.
And here we are.
The references in this are all over the place. Of course, there's the EC reference in the formatting and trade dress. I used my Ground Zero Press logo instead of the EC logo. While I'd like to channel some of the more decorative of the EC artists, like Crandall or Williamson, my loose style is more Johnny Craig. Craig told a good story, so I'm fine with that.
Other little things of note: of course, the Witch is wearing a Cheech Wizard hat. The werewolf rendering is inspired by the work of fellow Minnesotan Mike Ploog. He also tended to work in a freer style in his comics. Since the werewolf is supposed to be Curt, I also had to think about drawing a bald werewolf.
I suppose I could have thrown in a background, but for this one, I think simplicity is my friend.
Does it advance the story? Well, as alluded to above, I think perspective is crucial on this stuff. We're two pages away from things getting REALLY bad, and one of the things I've had to come to terms with is the contributions my emotional state made to these problems. Not to say I was at fault, because abuse victims are NEVER at fault, but as a former lover once told me, "you worry too much." So this is a mildly self-deprecating recognition of the inescapable fact that I worry too much.
Technical notes: I neglected to trim this page before starting it, so it's slightly disproportionate to the other pages. I'll either re-do it or scale it down and give it white border to conform to the other pages. The supplies used are pretty much the same as on the previous page:
Canson Recycled Bristol board
No. 3 and 6 Staedler pigment liners
lead holders, leads and graphite sticks
Magic Rub erasers
Crowquill pens
No. 2 and 4 Richeson synthetic brushes
Surprisingly, no white out on this one!
This might need a bit of fine tuning, but I'm pretty pleased with it as is. And I hope the readers have as much fun with it as I did. Even in a tough part of the story, you can't be grim all the time.
Next: back to the narrative, containing an unexpected declaration.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Original Art Sundays (Friday) No. 258: Captain Pinkard!

The next page is coming along well, but I missed Sunday and I wanted to get something posted this week, so here's an older piece.
As might be expected from the other recent work, the dark years with Curt have been on my mind of late. And that's no fun, either to live or to read about.
It's helpful to remember that there was more to him than just his rage and controlling ways. He could laugh and loved to experience life's sensations. That doesn't exonerate him, but it does lead to this piece.
Early in our relationship, our shared love of Star Trek was a big part of our time together. TNG was new then. We'd watch new episodes on first airing together. However, he didn't share my passion for vintage cartoons. But he did love the Pink Panther. So...

He was delighted by this! I had great fun doing it. It's pretty simple, just an under-sketch and markers on marker paper. I was in a two year commercial art program when I did this, and had just completed a class on markers. I still use them for color studies now and then, because they're quick, they blend well and they encourage speed.
Like all the other art I made for him, he gave it back when we parted ways. I found it in a stack of old work and here we are!
A quick diversion and something with a bit more joy than the current story, which has taken a rather dark turn.
Next: back to our story.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Original Art Sundays: Sharp Invitations: Curt, p. 16

Finally back.
I won't waste time saying why it took me so long to get this page done. It's unprofessional to kvetch, and nobody wants to hear it (and I don't blame them). Suffice to say it's been a tough couple months, with some days of bliss in the mix. I've been spending creative energy on music and writing, plus a whole slew of sketchbook stuff. I'll post some of that soon. For now, it feels so good to get back to The Work, my graphic memoir, Sharp Invitations.
As always, please keep clicking the "older posts" button at  the bottom of the page for more work, or just hit the "Sharp Invitations" label if you want to check out more of The Work.
When we left our heroine (moi), she was in bed with Curt, who had begun choking her as part of their lovemaking. This came directly on the heels of her meeting a trans lesbian, Sara, with whom she developed an immediate fascination. So much to sort out, and being a meat and potatoes guy, Curt's response was...
Read on.
The usual notes, personal and craft.
Personal: Curt had no clue I was afraid after his hands found my throat. He also had no idea about Sara. For my part, I was running blind, still desperately afraid of my own truth, even after surgery, for reasons I'll spell out in greater detail towards the end of this chapter (anticipated in another 7 pages, but it could run a bit longer in a 4th rewrite).
Craft notes: Minor scanning issues per usual. I will rescan everything upon completion of the book and those issues will be resolved.
Let's speak to timing. The part that hung me up was the first panel of the last tier. I toyed with going all silhouette on its ass, but I don't want to overuse that trick. There are some pages in this book that are nothing but silhouette. My mantra from The Wizard of Oz applies. These things must be done delicately or you hurt the spell.
I'm constantly torn between doing something innovative and ornate and just nuts and bolts layouts. I love ornate layouts, but I'm reminded of a favorite comic book history student who loathed J.H. Williams' work on Batwoman. He said it was so decorated that he couldn't see the story. He had a point. I think this page is a good balance between the two, and advances the story reasonably well. I kept the figures lighter and concentrated the blacks and grays in backgrounds and textures. The linear background on the second tier is a trick I picked from Terry Moore's Strangers In Paradise. I was re-watching Terry's DVD last night, trying to garner some fresh insight, or rekindle old insights. My "big takeaway": just keep doing the work.
Well, duh.
For spotting blacks on the bottom tier, I'm rekindling my fascination with dry brush, something American comic artists have underused historically. I do love the way it shows up in British work, especially from the late 80s. The challenge in dry brush is to get all the texture you want before your meager ink supply dries up.
Tools and supplies on this page:
Canson Recycled Bristol Board, rough finish side used.
Lead holder with #4B lead
#4B solid lead pencil
Miscellaneous straightedges, templates and triangles
Crow Quill and nib
#4 Richeson Snapi round synthetic brush
Tight Spot angled brush for corrections
Dr. Martin's Black Star Walnut Ink
FW Acrylic White
Magic Rub eraser
pretty much the stuff I usually use.
I have a HUGE bottle of Yasumoto Sumi Ink. Perhaps I'll give that a go on a page soon, but I do so love the Walnut Ink.
Next: sketchbook pages, then more memoir.