Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

The great thing about coffee shops is the abundance of napkins...

Monday, 29 October 2007

Spotting Blacks with Bells On

Here's the original sample with the borders and balloons. See how it still follows a kind of winding pattern from the first panel to the third? Yet, broken up with the words it's not as noticeable. Incidentally, if anyone wants to letter for me (or give me lessons), you can see I'm in dire need!

I'll talk more about this later, because there isn't any real information on the web for aspiring comic makers.

Spotting Blacks

So I've just learned about "spotting blacks." It sounds troubling, but it's actually a really useful tool for comic book artists. And it made me realize why I love the Hernandez brothers, Milt Caniff and Jack Kirby so much. They all do this with the greatest of ease.

Okay, so here's a random panel taken from The Black Coat (which you should check out!):

This is Francesco Francavilla inked by Jeremy Colwell if I'm not mistaken. If you look at the ominous shadows on The Black Coat, there is more than a shadow, but a sense of weight to his body. Especially the head and legs. The same with the anchor on the left.

Now the sun, or negative space in the center is such a contrast that our eyes almost follow around it. If you look at a page layout, you can usually see big chunks of black that pop out at you. Our eyes are so used to looking at black letters on white pages that we are trained to see dark areas as objects and light areas as negative (or unimportant) space.

Using this techniqe allows readers a movement from panel to panel that ties each one together. If you look through any of the "phonebook" reprints from the 60s (a perfect example is Thor's costume; black vest, white circles and brush strokes throughout the cape), you'll see this pattern emerge.

Comic artists still use this method, but not nearly as skillfully as someone like Jack Kirby. They are of the mindset that coloring will add that extra dimension. But it is just as important to push the black areas in color comics as with black and white. Not to diminish the importance of coloring, but the main body and weight is in the black areas. Have you ever seen a movie where the black is sort of grayish or washed out? That's exactly what happens with comic pages without healthy doses of black. They feel two dimensional, no matter how much shading or gradients are applied.

A lot of artists end up doing this without thinking about it, simply because it's so prevalent. But it's good to take a step back and try it out.

Here's some panels I'm working on without speech or borders. I'm no Jack Kirby (or Francesco Francavilla), but I think I'm pretty good at matching the black areas to draw out the important elements.

There's a huge article with lots of examples in Draw magazine number 14 of Summer 2007

Here's a ton of pages where you can see the rhythm of using black as a weighty shadow.

And I couldn't really find a good explanation of it, but there's another blog where this guy tries to explain it as well:

Stephan DeStefano's blog;

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Thursday, 25 October 2007

IE Tease +

I couldn't resist posting more from Invisible Empire! I really like the way this panel turned out, in no small part to John K and his blog ALL KINDS OF STUFF. Check out his tutorial on wrinkles and Bugs to see the evolution of this panel.

It doesn't have quite as much space as I would like, but the general shape and movement makes me really happy. If you have any ideas on what should change design-wise, please leave a comment and let me know...


If you're into independent comics and haven't heard INDY SPINNER RACK, check it out. But more importantly look out for AWESOME, an anthology Charlito and Mr. Phil (the other one) put together with some really great stuff in it. A lot of the kids in it are on their way to being heavyweights (and some already are!). It's printed really nicely, allowing each comic its own look. It's a great deal (15 bucks for 208 pages and 60 contributors) and part of the sales go towards The Center for Cartoon Studies.

Check it out, check out their podcast at and keep watching the sky!

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Monday, 22 October 2007

Cave Skull

It is so hot today I had to imagine myself in a a cave... when the snow comes I'll be drawing flames on everything!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Monday, 15 October 2007

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Cute, Sad Things

I'm opening up a shop in Williamsburg called "Cute, Sad Things." It'll be full of $60 t-shirts that have cute things with sad clown faces. I'll make what they call "a killing!"

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Friday, 12 October 2007

Sacco and Vanzetti

I'm really proud of this. It's from a picture of Sacco and Vanzetti. I'm assuming it was taken in 1920, but if anyone knows otherwise, please let me know. They look like they are being led to a train. I drew Sacco first, and he looked a little too young, or handsome. So I tried to add more shading. But in other pictures, he looks really young and handsome! Vanzetti has this ominous shadow from his hat, but his eyes are barely visible beneath the visor.

If not physically accurate, I think this captures the mood and pride (from what I know) of the two. Thousands of people around the world marched in protest of two people essentially put to death because of their political beliefs. What are we doing right now, as the Constitution of the United States, what I would argue might be the eighth wonder of the world, is being eroded? Who will march for the people being condemned to die for their beliefs today?

Yesterday's Heroes

Oops! Yesterday's oddity... today.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Too Stiff? No Such Thing!

Inking without sketching is a fine line (no pun intended) between overdoing or making a drawing too stiff. As a lover of the pen and loather of the pencil, I do this more often than I should. I'm not the loosest of artists, so this doubles the burden of trying to make the images more organic and less stuffy. The above is an example of STIFF DRAWING, which should be avoided unless you are drafting or a robot.

Monday, 8 October 2007

A Friend for Saint Francis

I've been drawing (despite the insane heat radiating from every molecule in the atmosphere) all day on Invisible Empire... but I took a break to give St. Francis a friend. I'll think of a clever name soon... but it's just too darn hot to think right now!

Here's to a great week!

Friday, 5 October 2007

Such a Perfect Day

I got to do everything I wanted to do today. Hang with my boy, organize, clean and work on Invisible Empire and have a drink with friends. What more could I ask for? Actually, having my records alphabatized would be nice...

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Super Special Sneak Preev

So this is a super extra sneak preview of Invisible Empire, the screenplay that I'm adapting into a twelve issue comic book.

You're seeing something so far ahead in the future, it might as well be a colony on Mars, folks. IT'S THAT FAR AWAY!

But you get a special preview just because I love you (see yesterday's post as proof).

Remember, you can always click on the pictures to make them bigger. I wouldn't recommend it with this one, but look at the swiss cheese giraffe enlarged. It's crazy! (I might color it in the near future).

Monday, 1 October 2007

Thanks for checking it out!

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