Monday, September 29, 2008

Baltimore Comic-Con: Total Perspective Vortex

[image: part of our setup with Jake's sketchbook, one:off, and Evan's sketchbook; the rest of the images can be found on my flickr account]

Every once in a while, the universe will let you know where you stand in the grand scheme of things. This can be taken as a total beat down of morale or as a harsh life lesson in the form a total beat down of morale. This weekend at Baltimore Comic-Con, it was both and then some.

The kru and I were riding high as we landed at BWI Airport. Laden with 100+ books, prints, and art supplies, we looked forward to a triumphant return to Baltimore Comic-Con as legitimate comic creators. Our setup was stocked with books and prints; the quality and quantity of our products had jumped immensely from our last appearance. The months of prep we did for this convention was noticeable as we set up our tables: the three of us barely had enough room to fit everything on two tables. We ran into small press and professionals alike that recognized us and were excited to see us setup at the show. This was a great sign. Then the doors opened, the crowd rushed in and it rushed hard. Usually there's a slow buildup to the constant rumble: the crowd would trickle through the convention center, the noise would slowly ramp up, and within two or three hours we would be at a frantic pace to keep up with everyone dropping by the table. Somewhere, somehow, the magic mailing list appeared, and everyone got the memo: Baltimore Comic-Con is a great show. The attendance seemed to have double and right off the bat traffic had hit rush hour mode. Getting across the hall became a weary adventure for anyone. By noon, we could tell it was going to be a long day; sadly we didn't realize how long it was going to be.

Traffic was great, our work caught a lot of eyes and people were dropping by to check it out. But checking it out was all they were doing. We all made some pretty quick sales then there was a massive drop off. Then there was a massive drop off in traffic as well. It was like Chicago all over again, but not as harsh for some reason. I think it was because this time we didn't have as measly of a setup; which to a certain degree made it worse. There were months of prep work for this show: months of fidgeting with book specs, and weeks of waiting for books; tons of emails to/from convention reps, printers, and UPS. I have a stack of invoices for stuff i spent a lot of money on; and I end up with nothing to show for it but solid red numbers. This is the harsh reality of it: sometimes hard work pays back with absolute nothing. In this industry, there are pros and amateurs collecting pay. This time, we paid to be the amateurs.

It was a real good knee to the face; I'm talking a solid clinch and constant, Wanderlei-esque barrage for most of the weekend. My hopes were high for this convention; and honestly a bit too high. In my personal experience, I spent most of the weekend watching others make sales, contacts, and connections. My own shortcomings in trying to make it in this industry were brought straight to the forefront, glaring loudly, and making a scene by not making a scene. It was like being back in my design classes in college: the honest glance-over from the professor that said "why are you wasting my time with this?" followed by curt walk-away. As I sat there watching the traffic flow straight pass me, I honestly thought about quitting. I put serious thoughts into flying home, going back to the office in slacks and a button down, and never turning back.

But that's the reality of it, and it's a lesson that I learning the hard way, which is the only way to really learn good lessons. The weekend was harsh, but not the end of the world. There were some sunny spots in the storm kept it from being a total disaster. For one was the loving warmth of our hosts Eva and Steve. Evan said it best: a home cooked meal is the ultimate sponge that soaks up all the fail. Spending a relaxing evening with a nice meal with loving people was the solid corner stone to my weekend. If i had to spend the night in a hotel room somewhere with the day's failures still pounding down on me, I don't know what mindset i would have been in for Sunday. The guys from Gaijin Studios gave us real words of encouragement; even offering us various places to stay if/when we visited them in Atlanta. A plan that i think we'll take them up on soon. And a quick shoutout to our semi-neighbor Michael Bracco (aka. Mikey B, because we know too many Mikes/Michaels). It nice being around such an uplifting and supportive personality. Check his stuff out and send him some love (and money!). Special thanks to the booth babe in the tight vinyl dress across from us. And even more specialer thanks to the cute girl for the most interesting con sketch for Jake ("Doc Savage with Hawkgirl in a suggestive, not lewd, pose"); and for giving me my only sketch for the weekend. I'll take sympathy when I can, especially when she's cute.

This is one of those times that I'm going to have to listen to my own advice: sometimes life sucks, sometimes the industry will beat you down and tear you up, sometimes you want to toss in the towel and give up. But how you take these events is an indication of character; if you can't withstand these harsh realities, then maybe this industry isn't for you. But if you really want to do this for a living, then understand how you fucked up, then shut the fuck up, and then cowboy the fuck up.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Baltimore Comic-Con 09.27-28.2008

[image: my new 11x17 prints, 100lb. glossy]

Three-fourth of the Space-Gun kru (Evan Bryce, Jake Ekiss, and myself) will be at Baltimore Comic-Con this weekend up in Maryland. We had a great time last year and are looking forward to this year. It's kind of a nice turnaround on our part, coming back with Synesthetic and a plethora of other stuff in tow. I've been cranking out the paintings and drawings in preparation for the show. I've got a new convention bag; it holds my 11x17 portfolio nicely with room to spare. We'll see if it holds up to the traveling. I should be getting my Gun Gals | Blade Babe pinup book in the mail on Thursday. There seemed to have been a slight hiccup in my transaction hence the late(r) delivery. We'll see how this turns out. I do have my 11x17 prints though, so at least i'll have something with me. So if you're out at the con this weekend, drop by and say "HI". We'll be at table 88, 89 with Jose Torres, writer of Leviticus Cross. What i look forward to: hanging out with Eva and Steve, our gracious hosts; seeing all the peeps at the convention again; getting a chance to meet Adam Hughes and Bernie Wrightson; and showing the the book to the peeps who saw us on our journey last year. What i don't look forward to: getting through the airport security, the long convention hours, and going to Jury Duty on Tuesday. Ah, cons, it's such a love|hate relationship.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Art Drop

[image: The Blue Raja from Mystery Men]

[image: Kaniugian Islands]

[image: Ref'd photo of nude model Justine Jolie; photo warped with photoshop to get that fish-eye distortion]

[image: Ref'd photo, random find; also warped with photoshop]

Sadly, my french gray set is running a bit low. The debate now is to either buy another set from Prisma; or "upgrade" to Copic, but then i would have to figure out what would be their color equivalents.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Inked Ghost Rider

[image: Ink on 5x8 Cresent hot press]

I don't know a lot about Ghost Rider besides the basics. I think the only book i have that he's actually in is "Hearts of Darkness" where he is teamed up with Wolverine and The Punisher. Romita's line work in that is what I associate Ghost Rider and Punisher with for the large part. And with Ghost Rider, he's really, really easy to draw: skull, fire, POOF! done. I'm trying out some feathering and hatching in this piece instead of doing a wash as a means of modeling. This was one I worked with entirely with a Pentel brush pen. I rediscovered it's awesomeness thanks to Mitch Breitweiser's inking tutorial. It is a great brush pen filled with terrible, terrible ink. It's a great line tool but not so good as a hatching tool. I never got the hang of using nibs which is why i stick to brushes/pens. There's a few brushes i want to try out that are a bit shorter with a bit more of a spring to them. It's funny because Evan is looking for a Photoshop brush that works like a real brush; and i'm looking for a real brush/pen that works like a Photoshop brush. For some reason I always looked for that one perfect brush that did everything: line, hatch, shade, paint. Now I'm way more open to have several brushes with each for a specific task.

I'm not sure about some of the hatching though; there are a few spots that it doesn't work. I put down the lines then went, hmm, well that didn't work out. I wish life had a CTRL+Z.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ink Washings

Ink wash (and acrylics on the top one) on 5x8 Cresent hot press. The second on is inspired by Dream from The Sandman; the helmet is a bit off though. The top one is inspired by Destiny, but not exactly him. I always loved The Endless, they're really fun to draw and interpret in your own way.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

POW! Fallout

[image: Brian and Paul auctioning off a Tara McPherson print]

The POW! show at Titan was a lot of fun. The live band was great, though just a bit on the loud side. Titan isn't the biggest of venues so it was hard to talk to folks. Granted, the Space-Gun Kru are a bunch of talkers. We like talking with people at these things while we work. We kind of get locked away in our homes working on projects and such so these events are the rare chances for us to see some people. But overall, a great time. Evan wrote up a blog that better encompasses the evening and the overall vibe of the show. I'm glad Evan is getting into the whole live art thing; it's a great way to hone particular skills and meet people. There's a level of spontaneity that live art creates; plus it's a good way to develop social skills within the industry/scene. I'm a bit wiped to go into details anyways. You can check out my photos on my Flickr account.

[image: Death from "The Sandman"; ink, gouache, beer, kosher salt on cold press]

This was my live piece of the night. It was done on another spare piece of illustration board i found in the time-machine. I think i'm going to stick to hot press for these things as I can not get a clean line on cold press. The toothy surface of cold press is really nice for the more abstract, splatter sort of art. But when i'm going to be doing way more inking than soft painting, hot press is the way to go. And doing a checkerboard pattern at a live art show is stupid, stupid, stupid. Thank god for the beer.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I recently dug through the ol’ way-back machine in the studio. And by way-back machine I mean the canvas bag that carries my oversized supplies like paper, pads, and such. I found some really old illustration board from my typography days; I guess they were spares I had made just in case I messed up on the project. I won’t go into why I hated my typography class this time around; I’ll just say that I was very, very glad the teacher left the program after that semester.

Anyways, I’ve also recently discovered the wonderful world of poster art via OMG Posters!. It’s a great site with daily updates with wonderful poster art. It really makes me wish I had taken a printing class of some sort in college. I wonder how my career would have differed if I had known about this sort of community in my high school years. Anyways, I thought It would be cool to start doing little posters on illustration boards. Ideally I would print the lineart onto the board then hand color it; but 1) I don’t know how to or have the equipment to screen the art onto the board, and B) illustration board won’t feed through my Canon printer. Trust me, I tried. So I’ll just do some little posters by hand until I figure that out.

On the topic of illustration board, I have a terrible memory for the specs. I’m a bit more tactile when it comes to selecting paper and such. So when you ask what sort of paper I’m using; I have a hard time calling it on the spot. Cold, hot, rough, pounds, gsm, ply, smooth, vellum, etc; it gets all jumbled in my head. So I try to stick to what I already know… if I can remember what it was.

This piece is just me playing around with the materials and surfaces. Trying to figure out the best way approach to this. Dick Blick has a minimum order of 10 boards for the ones I’m looking at so I’d rather get what I can work with than have a bunch of sheets that I don’t like. Excuse the scuffmarks; working with digital media has made me a bit sloppy. You never have to worry about smudging ink in photoshop. And you can’t really undo an accidental ink splotch. Oh how I wish I had a CTRL+Z for real life.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Synesthetic in Quick!

Local journalist Dan Koller gave us some page space in today’s Quick, Dallas' free newspaper for hipsters and business folks with short attention spans. Our first write-up; how cool is that?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

POW! Live Art Auction 09.06.2008

[image: POW! Flyer by Paul Milligan]
Dropping a note about a live art event held this Saturday at Titan Comics here in Dallas hosted by The Hero Foundry, a non-profit organization that provides comics and graphic novels to school, libraries, and hospitals. It’s a great organization run by some great folk. The Spacec-Gun Kru will be there large and in charge with some live arting for your viewing and purchasing pleasure. The Hero Foundry has really ramped up their organization and is doing really awesome things for the local communities. It’s a free event with no cover charge and free food and drinks. So come out and support a great cause.

WHAT: POW! Live Art Auction
WHEN: Saturday, September 6th from 8pm - 11pm
WHERE: Titan Comics
3701 W. NW Hwy, Ste 125
Dallas, TX 75220

The shop is kind of tucked away in the back. It's behind the 7-11 in the back row.

Artwork from Tara McPherson, Rafael Albuquerque, Katie Cook, Ross Campbell, Evan Shaner, Ralph Niese, Mike Lagocki and more!

Live Art by David Rodriguez, Sonny Strait , Joe Eisma, Matthew Warlick, Evan Bryce, Vinh Luan-Luu, Jake Ekiss, Jonathan Miller and many more!

Live Musical Performances by American Werewolf Academy and DJ T.Strick!

If you're interested in participating in the Live Art Show and/or donating artwork for the Auction at the end of the night please email Paul Milligan at

Hero Foundry Website

Monday, September 1, 2008

Manga Studio

[image: Rouge pinup by Randy Kintz]
For the first time in a while I had some freetime to play with some programs. I've been holding off on using Manga Studio for a few reason. First off, a lot of the projects I was working on needed a fast turnaround and didn't give much leeway for experimentation. So I stuck with Photoshop which I've used since version five. Secondly the brush/table was offset by like three inches, which was really odd. Though all I had to do was reinstall my Wacom drivers which fixed everything.

Manga Studio is an interesting program, build exclusively for comic book production. I haven't messed with all the functions in this, but i've heard good things. So I just wanted to get my feet wet and work on some quick pinups. Randy Kintz has a some great, fun work. And he seems to have a similar inclination to draw hawt girls as I do. His pencils/pinups that he's posted on his DA site are tight enough to follow but rough enough to allow for some interpretation. And there's a level of complexity to them that is fun challenge to me. It allows me to work on some different lines than I normally wouldn't get the chance to. So with me caught up on projects for the most part, I was able to find some time to play with some new line-art that would be a challenge without making me cry on a new program that offers its own challenges.

[Another piece by Randy]
So, after reinstalling the drivers, Manga Studio worked like it should. It's an interesting program; much more control than PS, acts much more like a pen/brush for this sort of work. I had to tweak out the brush settings because it was trying to think for me. But I finally got it to work in a way that i can handle it. Hatching and feathering is much, much easier in MS than Photoshop. It also offers real time, arbitrary rotation of the page that doesn't muck with the lineart. This a godsend that baffles me isn't in the Adobe Suite. It's in nearly every other art program i've run into: ArtRage, Painter, MS. Free range page rotation is natural part of drawing because we use a different natural line. It also keeps me from craning my neck at odd angles to rotate my visual plane. The program is aliased so that's something to get use to; though it would make coloring/flatting a much easier process. So far, thumbs up. I'm going to play with for a while longer before I jump into it for a project.