Friday, 31 December 2010

How To Draw Comics

I recently responded to someone who was wondering what tools they needed to make a comic after seeing someone working on one in a coffee shop. I was baffled by all the tools and techniques when I set out to make my first comic. This is by no means comprehensive but if your new years resolution is to make a comic, this can help you to achieve that goal.

Here you can see me posing with my tool:

QUESTION: What tools do you need to make a comic?


This may sound corny, but you should just use whatever feels right to you:

Maus; A Survivor's Tale was drawn on common typing paper with a cheap pen to give it its desperate, this-must-be-told feel. It is the only graphic novel to win the Pulitzer prize.

Alex Ross primarily paints covers, but he has done a few graphic novels, fully painted in gouache and watercolor. He has won multiple awards for his work.

Sophie Crumb has made comics using a bic pen. Really cheap.

Most artists today are switching to digital, however. It's not quite the majority, but it will be soon. They draw in photoshop with a Wacom (or other brand tablet).

Traditionally, comics are drawn with a brush and/or a nib pen.

Hunt was the favorite brand, the 102. Crow quills and spoon bills. I personally hate this nib, as I feel as though the quality is in serious decline. But many artists still swear by it. And their art is astounding...

The brush is tricky, but it can produce beautiful, lush results. Jeff Smith's Bone is fantastic and is done entirely with a brush. The problem with brushes is that they are tricky, inconsistent and expensive. If you go to an art store, look for sable and look for a fairly large size (at least an 8 in the US). If the store is worth its weight in salt, they should let you test it out with some water. If it doesn't "snap" back into shape and keep a clear point without splitting, it is a dud.

Some are rounds, some are liners... as long as it has a sharp tip that won't go haywire when it gets wet, it's comics gold!

I use a cheaper, non-sable brush called "Masters Gold." Go figure! It is around 6 to 8 dollars and is the best for its price. I also use a pen... but the dip pen I use is from Japan and all the info on the packaging is in Japanese, so I have no clue what they're called! It says G-Pen on it and that's all I know. But they are phenomenal! They are only available in one or two art stores in Manhattan, so I have a feeling they are hard to come by.

Ink is a matter of personal preference. I buy Winsor-Newton's black India ink with a spider on the box. It is pretty pricey, but it is the perfect consistency. Some artists buy cheaper, watery ink and leave the bottle open for days so it thickens. I don't have the time or the coordination to leave a bottle of ink sitting open in my room. I have to have deep black on the page... some artists photohop it to look darker.

Oh, and the paper I use is 14X17 Bristol board with a little "tooth" a.k.a. roughness. I love drawing on watercolor paper, but damn that stuff is too rich for my blood!

I have a pretty inventive pal whose blog COMICS TOOLS has a bunch of tips and tricks... it was on hiatus for a while and is possibly back, but if you look through it you can find a ton of advice on everything from eraser shields to Ames guides.

It's here:

Sorry for all the info, but when I was starting out, there was just really vague advice like, use a big brush, get an old pen, everything's done with computers, etc. etc. and I was bewildered until I started hanging out with actual comics artists who turned up their nose in utter revilement at my tools.

Just kidding, they're all pretty nonchalant. And were super helpful.

All that being said; draw however you're comfortable! Use whatever you have. I started drawing with a bic pen at the last convention I was at and people were astounded by it. It cost 10 cents.

What's more important is the actual content. But we all know that already!

Simply the Best

2010 has run its recession-plagued, prop-8 decrying course, capping the end of this Bush-bespeckled decade.

I hope you have a moment to spare in your busy day to allow me to take you back...

back to relax and rub elbows with our old friend Father Time. Grab my crystal balls and rub vigorously...

we are about to descend, you and I...

We are all a little older and a little less wiser. The gulf is as oil-logged as a port-a-potty after a Nazareth concert, David Wojnarowicz's art still scares the shit out of Christians, queer kids getting bullied finally made it into the news, volcanoes erupted, Chilean miners emerged, children sighed, butterflies flew, mists misted, leaves fell and idols toppled... and yet sugar still manages to taste as sweet.

First off, a lot of amazing and talented people passed away this year. I am sure there are some people I am forgetting, it felt as though every other day somebody's death was being announced and making me sad:

Peter Orlovsky, Dino De Laurentiis (who produced your favorite movie), Susso Cecchi D'Amico (who wrote my favorite movie), Dennis Hopper, Black Lizard director Umetsugu Inoue, Leslie Nielson, Dick Giordano, Mike Esposito, Fernando Fernandez, pioneering artist Violet Barclay, Bill DuBay, George Hickenlooper, Chris Kanyon, Rammellzee, When Rabbit Howls author Truddi Chase, Alexander McQueen, the amazing composer Henryck Gorecki, Ari Up, Albertina Walker of The Caravans, Lena Horne, Mike Edwards (cellist for ELO), musical pioneer Peter "Sleazy" Christophson, Gang Starr's Guru, Pete Quaife, producer Sonia Pottinger, Debbie Abono (manager of Possessed, Exodus, Cynic, Obituary, Skinlab etc.) Tuli Kupferberg of The Fugs, Teddy Pendergrass, FEAR's Derf Scratch, Armando Acosta, the beautiful Shirley Verrett, J. D. Salinger, Howard Zinn, Rue Mcclanahan, Captain Beefheart and last but not least Ronnie James fucking Dio, Frank fucking Frazetta and the incredible artist Louise Bourgeois.

R.I.P. and thanks for the long, strange trip.

Now to the part you've all been waiting for: THE LIST

Before I dive in, I want to show you the sheer panic and insanity that can occur when writing said list.

Shelby Cobras brought the pimpled wrath of a thousand bleeting Metal Sucks readers who promptly drunkle finntrolled and fromped all over Illogical Contraception.

Witness the horror, if you dare:

Metal Sucks bloated itself with Korn-fueled fury in the aftermath:

There was so much music that came out this year, I haven't had a chance to wade through it all. I still haven't found the new Deathspell Omega or the new/old Abruptum EP. Come on, NY record stores, get with it!

And this isn't in order. Music isn't about hierarchies.

AVSKY - Scorn
COSMIC CHURCH - Absoluutin Lävistämä
LYRTHAS - In Shadows Imbued
BETTYE LAVETTE - Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook (OK, to be honest this isn't that great, but if you see her doing it live it is incredible. The bland studio musicians kind of ruin the recording, but she's a legend)
SWANS - My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky
1349 - Demonoir
THE FALL - Your Future Our Clutter
FREITOD - Nebel der Erinnerungen
WINTERWOLF - Cycle of the Werewolf
CRETACEOUS - Saurian Jihad EP (R.I.P.)
SALOME - Terminal
THE MELVINS - The Bride Screamed Murder
BURZUM - Belus (People shit all over this but I thought it was great)
ENSLAVED - Axioma Ethica Odini
ABIGOR - Time is the Sulphur in the Veins of the Saint (they regained their footing after the previous, iffy release)
DRUDKH - Handful of Stars
KORPBLOD - Norrön Megri
ERYKAH BADU - New Amerykah part 2: Return of the Ankh
M. LAMAR - Negrogothic (cass)
M. LAMAR - The Black Death
RAMESSES - Take the Cure
ANU - Opus Funaerum
XASTHUR - Portal of Sorrow (the final album, and I couldn't think of a better obituary for this incredible project. R.I.P.)
DEATH IN JÜNE - Peaceful Snow / Lounge Corps (at first I had trepidations about this album but it is fucking beautiful, campy and terrific)
DARKTHRONE - Circle the Wagons (the best of their new crusty sound, with riffs for days!)
THE MEADS OF ASPHODEL - The Murder of Jesus the Jew (metal's weirdest weirdos with what might be their best album)
BONE AWL - Bowing Heads demo
GRAVELAND - Cold Winter Blades (a.k.a. music to LARP to... this was a grower)
DIAMANDA GALÁS - The Cleopatra Set? Monthly releases (Not a proper album, but some of the greatest fucking music to come out this year, released monthly on her website)
LUDICRA - The Tennant (if you hate metal, this will show you why you are a tool)
MOIRA SCAR - Slink to Intensity (musical genius)
THE CHASM - Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm (even though this technically came out in the end of 2009, it is probably the best album on here and everybody slept on it on their end of year list)


GRINDERMAN - Heathen Child

How can you argue with that?


William Burroughs: A Man Within

I didn't really see that many movies this year. What I did see was pretty awful (I tried to watch Tron, which was like a 2 hour deodorant commercial), but this Burroughs documentary was fantastic. Inspiring, honest and pulled no punches. I almost started crying every time Patti Smith started talking.

That Banksy movie, Exit Through the Gift Shop was pretty phenomenal as well. It was utterly depressing and damning, but if you're an artist, it's a frightening wake up call. I also perversely enjoyed the Joan Rivers documentary Piece of Work.


Hmmm... as usual I didn't read that much. Grant Morrison's Batman and Robin was spectacular, I must admit. The Judge Dredd reprint vol. 1 is vital, and Dan Clowes came out with Wilson, which I loved, although a lot of people weren't feeling it. Liz Baillie's Release the Bats was a collection of odds and ends and has a David Wojnarowicz piece that I absolutely love but really the whole collection is great. I also discovered Detroit Metal City, which I went on and on about in a previous post. It is weirdly amazing. Also I picked up Fred Chao's Johnny Hiro, which is extremely good but I haven't finished.

Hey, I guess I did read a lot of comics! Lucky me!


I have a love/hate relationship with this song, and I guess with Lil' Wayne in general.

Lil' Wayne - Drop the World featuring Eminem:

Personally it was a great year. I debuted Gorgeous Clothed Flies in New York and six of the original pages were featured in Keith Mayerson's NeoIntegrity: Comics Edition at the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art. I also got a grant to publish it for reals. I started and stopped a webcomic about the civil war... it is on serious hiatus! I started writing a novel. I made two minicomics, another installment of Demon of the Fall and my first personal minicomic called Comfort's Fist, both of which I was pretty happy with.

I got to table at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, which was a blast. My work got a shout-out in Time Out New York. I started work on Teufelskralle, a sequel to Gorgeous Clothed Flies using only ball-point pen. I designed my first logo, for Infra-Iridian and started work on a commission to redesign the logo for Everyman Espresso. I also am putting the finishing touches on an essay about Gerhard, "background" artist for Dave Sim's Cerebus.

I got to see Sunn and Boris at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple where they blew the power with a single riff. I got to see R. Crumb's Genesis in its entirety in person, I got to see Dan Clowes at The Strand, I did yoga for the first time and got to see the opera The Nose with animation by William Kentridge... and I got to see one of my favorite SF bands Ludicra play in New York.

And last but not even remotely least I put together a website (no small feat!), and began work which will become a full-fledged webcomic called


and that will debut next year.

If you're a savvy savverson, you can google that title with either "Sabin" or "comics" and get a sneaky peek.

Or something else entirely...


I learned that there is a time to laugh, a time to cry, a time to gather stones... etc. etc. WHERE IS 2011?

Thanks for everyone's support, love, photos and fun.

Monday, 27 December 2010

M. Lamar - Unloved and Unwanted

I might be biased, but who isn't? This is my new favorite song, shot by Siobhan in SF a week and a half ago. It is devastating, beautiful and brilliant:

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Your Move...

Chess. Yes, chess. It is probably the most boring game, just under bridge and golf. Why am I talking about it? Because these rules, from the 64 Commandments of Chess, sound like something out of Sun Tzu's The Art of War (with a little tweaking) so I'm going to share them with you.
results guaranteed!

by Bruce Pandolfini
  • Be aggressive, but play soundly. Don't take unnecessary chances.
  • Make sure every move has a purpose.
  • If you know your opponent's style, take advantage of it. But, in the final analysis, play the board, not the player.
  • Don't ignore your opponent's moves.
  • Don't give needless checks. Check only when it makes sense.
  • Answer all threats. Try to do so by improving your position and/or posing a counter-threat.
  • Play for the initiative. If you already have it, maintain it. If you don't have it, seize it.
  • When exchanging, try to get at least as much as you give up.
  • Take with the man of least value, unless there is a definite reason for doing otherwise.
  • Cut your losses. If you must lose material, lose as little as possible.
  • If you blunder, don't give up fighting. After getting the advantage, your opponent may relax and let you escape.
  • Never play a risky move, hoping your opponent will overlook your threat, unless you have a losing position. In that case, you have nothing to lose.
  • Rely on your own powers. If you can't see the point of your opponent's move, assume there isn't any.
  • Don't sacrifice without good reason.
  • When you can't determine whether to accept or decline a sacrifice, accept it.
  • Attack in number. Don't rely on just one or two pieces.
  • Look for double attacks.
  • Play for the center: guard it, occupy it, influence it.
  • Fight for the center with pawns.
  • Don't make careless pawn moves. In the opening, move as few pawns as necessary to complete your development.
  • If feasible, move both center pawns two squares each.
  • Develop your pieces quickly, preferably toward the center.
  • Develop purposefully, and not just for development's sake.
  • Don't waste time or moves. Try to develop a new piece on each turn. Don't move a piece twice in the opening without good reason.
  • Try to develop with threats, but don't threaten pointlessly.
  • Develop minor pieces early. King-side pieces should usually be developed sooner than Queen-side ones, and Knights before Bishops.
  • Develop during exchanges.
  • To exploit an advantage in development, attack.
  • Try to give as much scope to your pieces as possible.
  • Seize open lines.
  • Determine whether you have an open or closed game, and play accordingly.
  • Trade when ahead in material or when under attack, unless you have a sound reason for doing otherwise. Avoid trades when behind in material or when attacking.
  • Choose a plan and stay with it. Change it only if you should or must.
  • If cramped, free your game by exchanging material.
  • Trade bad minor pieces for good ones.
  • If the position is unsettled, disguise your plans: make noncommittal moves.
  • If behind in development, keep the game closed.
  • Try to accumulate small advantages.
  • Use the analytic method. When you don't know what to do, first evaluated the position (as best you can), then ask pertinent questions about your analysis

Results guaranteed!



A Page About Love

I did this for a couple of friends. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up

The eclipse last night was incredible!

The loveliest moon, that ever silver’d o’er
A shell for Neptune’s goblet: she did soar
So passionately bright, my dazzled soul
Commingling with her argent spheres did roll
Through clear and cloudy, even when she went
At last into a dark and vapoury tent—
Whereat, methought, the lidless-eyed train
Of planets all were in the blue again.
To commune with those orbs, once more I rais’d
My sight right upward: but it was quite dazed
By a bright something, sailing down apace,
Making me quickly veil my eyes and face:
Again I look’d, and, O ye deities,
Who from Olympus watch our destinies!
Whence that completed form of all completeness?
Whence came that high perfection of all sweetness?

---- Keats, from Endymion

Curiouser and Curiouser and Curioust

Toppled Idols is bringing the year to a close, putting the final touches on the revolutionary underpinnings of another anti-fascist onslaught and soaking in the solstice, the complete lunar umbral eclipse and other ten-dollar words you might stumble across in a Cryptic crossword (i.e. un-American) or tripping off the lips of next year's poet laureate...

Any way, while incessantly googling the phrase "Toppled Idols" and wading through the ouroboros-like sewage of "American Idol" I came across this:

Agent 234? WTF?

It is repostings of this blog, mixed with other random stuff from the Huffington Post and archeology blogs. I'm assuming it's in Indonesian, since it says Indonesia somewhere on the site, but I have no clue what it's about. There's a lot of pictures of soccer (or footblah) and ladies with winning poker hands... what does this portend?


Can anyone help me figure out what cryptic workings are at work here?

Are there idols needing toppling in Indonesia? A country that thanks to the American public school system I know nothing about and must resort to wikipedia to even figure out where it is?

The plot thickens, Charles Dickens...

Friday, 17 December 2010

The Mindscape of Alan Moore

Wow, if you haven't seen this yet, now you have no excuse. Alan Moore summarizes his work, his writing, where ideas live, technological singularity and how art and magic are interchangeable. Simply incredible.

We are all becoming steam:

More Than Perfect

When we make art, we constantly set ourselves up to fail.

There is a goal, something we need to make that doesn't exist in the world, and we practice, gather, research, try, push, get lost, sketch, exercise and struggle until it is done.

It is easy to get caught up in perfection. We can see it or hear it in its perfection, but in translating that perfect ideal we can get caught up in falling short.

But how much incredible music has been made with low-fi equipment or virtually non-existent production, how many sketches have you seen that had ten times more energy than the final painting, how much delicious food have you eaten that was "a mistake," how many accidents have changed the world? It is the limits that make us great.

If Picasso had kept trying for "realism" in his early days? You would never have heard his name.

Embrace the mistakes. Don't let them stop you. The only thing that is more than perfect is the work that is completed.

After that, your failures may succeed beyond your greatest successes:

This architect failed, and made one of the biggest attractions in the world:

Gone With the Wind was rejected 38 times. Lord of the Flies 20.
Ulysses was constantly rejected (and keep in mind that the rejections are the publishers that bother to write back) and James Joyce's first book was thrown into the fire after getting rejected so much:

Here's an epic failure by one of the greatest artists in the world:

Citizen Kane was a huge box office failure. Even though critics lauded it, it also failed to win any of the Oscars it was nominated for; Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing (all things it is considered revolutionary in)... only winning one: Best Writing (Original Screenplay) so it's 1 for 8:

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


The shroud is making a comeback in the Spring 2011 lines. Better order now to get ready for the rapture...

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The Meads of Asphodel - Stiller of Tempests

I can't get this damned song out of my head. The Meads of Asphodel channeling Comus on their newest album. Care to dance?

Take a Page From My Book

... please!

I have no idea what was going on in my sketchbook this day... half of it I was in a phone meeting... the other half???

Saturday, 11 December 2010


Ah, the tramp stamp, maligned, adored, cherished, ignored. Is there no finer tattoo fruit than thee? How can I count the ways?

I hope you tweet about this post!:

South of the Mason-Dixon:

Makes God For It Proudly:



Hey, I voted for change:


Too literal:

This has made the rounds but its incredibleness needs to be bludgeoned into you:

Irony eating itself:

You can't spell butterfly without... sorry I just can't do it:

Church attendance would increase seven fold if the word was presented thusly:

The tramp stamp is not limited by gender, oh no:

Possibly the most horrible/amazing one:

To purge your mind of all you have just witnessed, here's Otis and Carla with one of the greatest videos ever made... TRAMP!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Public Access

Long before the days of the internet, before the enlightened age, a box existed known as television. And on this box was a channel like no other, unique to every realm. It provided stimulus for over-smoked, under-Pringled youngsters like myself, and now that we live in an enlightened age, I can share with you all the weirdness and wonder of the world of PUBLIC ACCESS:

Obituary love the kids:

Ken Sander can't keep 'em down:

The incredible origin of the heart/peace sign:

Albuquerque's public access lets The Pepsi Generation do Tequila and Cracks in the Sidewalk perform Leatherworld:

That damn rogue helicopter pilot:

Goth poetry (watch for the "paws"):

CB Walker makes Andy Kaufman proud:

and lastly, never talk to a German hippy about politics (International edition):

We now return you to your regularly scheduled banality

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Cover Attack! THE DOCTOR IS IN!

...and the doctor is out! Thanks for playing!

PS Anyone asking for "Spin Doctors" gets excommunicated from the Idol

Thanks for checking it out!

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