Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Marshall Rogers: A Remembrance

I just received the word that Marshall Rogers had died and I still don't want to believe it. Marshall, who I've written about before, was, in my opinion, the greatest Batman artist of all time. What he lacked in technical ability at anatomy at the time that he burst on to the scene in 1977 was far overcome by his natural gifts in storytelling, and his unique vision.

The scans are from my originals of Detective #478, Eclipse Magazine #8 and an unpublished page from a Goodwin/Rogers/Austin that was abandoned when Archie died. The Panel from Detectives Inc. is scanned from the book.

Why should we remember Marshall? I only met him once in person, as a teenage fan, and I was looking forward to seeing him at the Super-Con on June 2nd and getting the chance to chat with him. But not knowing him moves his work in to a totally different realm for me: I don't have the chance to know that man behind the curtain, and now I never will. His Batman will remain enigmatic to me, a creation of Englehart's brain and Marshall's and Terry late hours at the drawing board.

DC, has, by a loose count, reprinted the seminal Batman tales that the three did in Detectives #471-476 more than 6 times in the last 30 years, which must be some kind of record. For all that people say that O'Neill and Adams reinvigorated The Batman, I believe that it was the Rogers/Austin Batman that set the template for the many more years to come, until others decided to subsume Miller's future Dark Knight persona in to the modern day.

Oddly enough, I always believed that those issues were the pinnacle to the three teaming up to produce such a rare and perfectly balanced masterpiece of a story, and yet that was hardly the truth at all. Steve wrote all six issues and delivered them to DC and went off the write his first novel, the underrated Point Man. The pacing of the books was modified by Marshall in places, as was some of the dialog, to fit the story on the board. That's incredible. Marshall was just channeling this new version of The Batman from his head and filling pages with it. The movement of the cape alone was so... different... than those that had come before it, that I still can't quite figure out how he decided to put so much air under the thing.

I fully intend to do a long look at the O'Neill Rogers Batman text story someday. And I'm not even biting into the Mister Miracle issues, which had their own mix of Rogers and Kirby pastiche. I don't think that they were as successful as The Batman work, but they should have been.

Leaving DC, Marshall was on the vanguard of alternative publishing, with Don McGregor on the inaugural Detective's Inc: A Remembrance of Threatening Green. Filled with beautiful odd moments, Marshall pulls out all the stops, including using a whole art store's worth of zipatone on the opening night sequence alone, and the panel here, with its reverse sihlouettes on the trees.

I Am Coyote, my personal favorite, was serialized in the B&W Eclipse Magazine, and was a stunner of a story. Off on the deep end of magik ans science with Englehart again, Rogers took the art to town and went big (the originals are much larger that regular art, and seem to have a much more epic feel to them, just as Kirby and Ditko did on the twice up art) and went weird. Coyote and the Void were scary and funny at the same time, and you got the uneasy feeling that you had stumbled onto some bizarre part of Steve Englehart's brain that wanted to put one hell of a fresh twist on the usual shadow cabinet rules the world story.

While Coyote would continue as a character on Marvel's Epic line, it would never have Roger's unique vision on the art again.

Scorpio Rose, the Strange Apparitions portfolio. The Madame Xanadu one shot. Oddities that crept out of Roger's studio, but that never scratched the itch that the prior work had given us. Marshall was a visionary, but his vision let us to the Foozle and that wasn't what we wanted at the time. Mainstream comics were not at the right spot for Marshall.

I wish that we had had more issues like those of his '70's work. I wish that Levitz hadn't gone to the Dollar
Comics and simply left his and Giordano and Wein on the regular book for a year. Just so that we could have see where it all would have, could have gone without the interruptions. Most comic fans don't need the history lesson, but I want to go down memory lane, when Marshall was an innovator whose work floored me, and I wanted for people to see some of exquisite work in all its original black and white glory.

I wish that i had had time to go to dinner and bullshit with him for a while. But I can't, and it violates my cardinal rule: find the people whose work you love and tell them that. Buy them dinner and beer. Give them their props. I just ran out of time. Damn.

A nice quote from Steve in the LA Times Obituary:
"He drew a total fantasy world, but he wanted it to be a very real fantasy world," Englehart said Tuesday. "It was very striking, it jumped off the page … another artist could have worked on pages every month for 30 years and not made the impact Marshall did."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

In Praise Of Mentors: Alan Weiss

The Wardancer panels are scanned from my original pages.

Like many comic artists, I was essentially self trained in the specifics of comic art. Like most I nicked a nose from Adams, a hand from Gulacy, a layout from Perez and tried to synthesize them as my own. As I worked more on my inking I studied different approaches, from the thick line approach of Dick Ayers and Jack Abel, to the studied contrast in Klaus Janson and Pablo Marcos' work, to the precision in Terry Austin's.

How cohesive is this really? I recall seeing the swiped Chaykin figures in Jim Lee's early work. How do we develop a style and a language that will allow us to actually critique our work and make it better?

Arriving in New York for my first comic book work back in the early '90's, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work on the book Wardancer with Alan Weiss. Alan had been through the trenches of '70's Marvel with all the people that were my idols, creators of my favorite comics: Steve Englehart, Jim Starlin, Al Milgrom, Barry Smith, et al, and had a million and one stories to tell.

And he could draw. Oh yes he could.

It would end up being the best situation that I could have imagined. My ink work looked terrible on the pencillers who came up with outlines and no substance. (Take a look at the first half of Good Guys #4, or better yet don't) Alan's work was a substance and form, all muscle and sinew, light playing over the figures as they moved and breathed in a 3 dimensional space. It was both a joy to work on and pulling out my own fingernails tough.

After I did each batch of pages Alan and I would meet at a diner to have a bite, talk some life and go over the work. He had asked me to do less feathering and use more texture to round the figures. I ended using a combination of grease pencil and dry brush work to add the grain he was looking for. It made for absolutely beautiful originals; they had depth and clarity and fullness to them that is lacking on more graphic work. Given the color process at Defiant, it also led to horrible, horrible printed work. It was a shame.

Alan gave me the terms and verbage to adequately discuss the art of comics, the art of lighting a figure and how to, if need be, fix said art. I did as much fixing as I could along the way. I learned how to sculpt the figure with the brush, much you might sculpt stone in three dimensions. I also found that few editors have the knowledge and language to adequately convey what they want from artists, which is a huge issue when it comes to review artists work at con, or being able to actually discuss the work in the office. It may be one of the great failings of the comic biz, that there are very few Archie Goodwins nuturing new talent or tweaking existing talent to being better.

It was an amazing education in a short concentrated period of time, punctuated by lessons on the politic of comic books, as well as the brutal reality of the comic market circa 1993/94, which was not a great time for comics. I know that in talks with Alan, I saw an extremely creative individual with a number of fun, interesting ideas, many of which were simply too far afield to have worked in the "grim and gritty superheroes or bust" world of the 1980 and 1990's. In a world of Rocketo and Milk and Cheese, Steel Grip Starkey would certainly have had a better chance of finding the sales it needed.

While those days of living in New York are more than a few years in the past, I still remember so much of those afternoon sessions poring of the artwork with Alan, figureing out ways to make things better. I still look at my own work with that eye: does it have form? Does it have substance? Does it take life on the page?

Viva La '70's: Part Two

An interesting debate rages over the blogosphere over the quality of the '70's comic, with some popular players weighing in. Here are a few bits to catch you up:

Over at Dick Hates Your Blog is a rehash of the 1970's era books, and, lets face it, he doesn't think very much of the them. In particular is his comment that nothing very good came along during the decade.
Marvel and DC were likewise rehashing the previous decade until Claremont and Cockrum (with much help from Len Wein) reinvigorated the superhero team comic. But again, the new X-Men are often lumped in with the comics of the 80s, perhaps because it was so influential on the comics of that decade.
and Heidi MacDonald retorts, quite correctly:
Come on now! Is Dick trying to be silly? As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, the current comics biz is mostly run by post-boomers who all came of age reading 70s comics... Marvel in particular, had a great run that is still being strip-mined to death.
and Journalista at the Comics Journal, the vanguard of comics criticism, weighs in with this deep thought:
But let’s face it: 1970s superhero comics sucked pig balls.
To which many pigs, said "Yeah!" But the rest of us who were picking up the rapidly escalating 20 cent comics of the decade probably have a more informed take on the work. Our friends over at Journalista have their view, now here is mine.

The '70's, which have been labeled by Dick to be a decade without an identity had their high and low moments, but that was all against the backdrop of a huge shift in business and distribution that certainly had an effect upon the content in the books. The traditional newsstand distribution that existed, and thus a particular audience was starting to shift in the '70's, and you would soon see books that were selling on a fraction of the numbers that prior decades had seen.
Marvel, which has a ton of low points, although many of them not as low as DC's in the same decade, also had some very interesting high points. Want to look at Jim Starlin's Captain Marvel and Warlock? The prototype for the giant universe ending crossover. Don McGregor's Killraven and Black Panther were almost of a lyrical bent, with metaphysical leanings, and certainly were the most literary comics prior to Alan Moore's arrival. Steve Gerber's acerbic wit lent Howard the Duck and Man-Thing a bite that would be hard to imagine in today's corporate driven properties. Moench and Gulacy's Master Of Kung Fu was an artistic delight to read (Doug's final story arc of multiple first person narratives in MOKF from #40 - 50 was certainly something that Marvel in the '60's would never have tried). Heidi had it right: Marvel is still mining the second generation of artistic talent that came in after Kirby, Ditko and Steranko.

Do I even need to mention the All New, All Different X-Men? I doubt that we would have comics today without them. As I mentioned in an older post on Dave Cockrum's death, we should be kissing the feet of Claremont, Byrne, Austin, Wein, and Cockrum that we have an industry to blog about.

That was Marvel in the '70's. It didn't need to establish one single identity to have some great high points.

DC? Put this in your pig testicles: Kirby's Third World is modern mythological foundation for the DC universe, started in the '70's. Do we have the Batman of today without Rogers and Adams' versions? Nope.

Your turn!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Dark Phoenix Always Rings Twice

Odd Jack has some nice thoughts on making Mary Marvel evil, but besides being snarky about it, as I was on the Turner JLA cover, he starts to go into the odd thinking that happens when "Good Girls" turn to the Darkseid... er... Side.

Its amazing to see how often the new "Bad Girl" decides to use sex as her weapon of choice, or at the writer will use sex to show how uninhibited the new "Bad Girl" is, as if women with repressed sexuality are still a horrible norm in our society. Perhaps they are, but then why don't we see men expressing the same bad tendencies? Because men are already allowed to screw all the women that they want anyway and called "studs" while women who follow the same path are "sluts"?

If we try to go and rip away the odd victorian morality that we still see in some comics, it becomes obvious how "blah" the usual "Bad Girl" is. She puts on a darker costume (Dark Phoenix), uses her powers more creatively (Sue Storm), starts to use her vagina a little more, throw in a little lesbian kink and, PRESTO! You've got the "Bad Girl".

Perhaps if we didn't have such a stultified view of sexuality we would have far darker "Bad Girls". (Oddly enough, since so many of the comic founders were Jewish, their heroes and heroines were terribly whitebread. There is none of the deep sexual guilt in Judaism that we see associated with many other religions.) When I hear about mothers who lock their kids in the car and push the car in a lake, that is a far darker version of a "mother" than most comics will ever tolerate.

In order to make our characters "dark" we have to first identify with who they really are, not just men and women, but how they interact, what their fears are, and then we start to turn the screws on them and the reader. Repressed sexuality may be a part of the character, and, perhaps for Sue Storm, it makes sense, but I'm far more worried about a writer twisting our usual preceptions of women in interesting ways. Morrison's Zatanna from 7 Soldiers was a far more interesting version of her than we've been allowed to see. but Morrison's a great writer.

At least Dark Phoenix didn't have to die for having premarital sex with Scott. She just shouldn't have killed the damn Broccoli people. Perhaps Lis over at Kid Sis will haul out her thoughts on evil Scarlet Witch. Vacation on Wundargore Mountain anyone?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Rhetorical Question: Do Turner's Women Have Intrernal Organs?

Of course not. We all know that. Its just been proven once again by the sneak peak cover of JLA #10 the Meltzer has posted on his My Space page, that I've stolen and posted here.

OK, I'll be up front about this: I like breasts as much as the next heterosexual man, probably even more so. But this Power Girl is just out of bounds. Really. If they are going to be that big, than I want a body behind them that can at least look like it might hold them up and instead we literally have a chest cavity smaller that the mammary gland on top of it.

Obviously I'm wrong and the market place is correct because Turner keeps getting work, and I've never met Michael so I'm not picking on him personally, but this just doesn't work for me.

I'm clearly not a true fan boy anymore. I've lost my credentials.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sneak Peek: Pistoleras Page 6

Another sneak peak at Pistoleras artwork with the tones added in.

Comments? Questions?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Oh That Pesky Generational Gap: Marvel Essentials

Over at Continuity Error is a post on the Essential series by marvel, which adds a wish list of new essentials.

This paragraph caught my eye:
Pretty much anything by Stan Lee is unreadable (sorry, Stan, you're a great creator but those old issues were baaaad), who the hell is Killraven and I don't think I'll ever want to read 500 pages of Ant-Man
as did this is at the top of the Essentials list most wanted:
Secret Wars: You can go two ways with this. There can be a single volume version with both Secret Wars and Secret Wars II along with some essential tie-ins, or it could be a two-volume set, one for the original and one for the sequel and each with plenty of tie-ins. I think it this would be a cool Essential mostly because I'd like to see the series feature important and classic storylines, not just reprint old stuff in order.
I respect Continuity Error greatly, first because I love the title of the blog and wish that I'd thought of it, and secondly because he featured the Godzilla vs. Barkley comic that a good friend of mine was the inker on, but that first paragraph just got to me. After all, I understand that you can't immerse yourself in that much Hank Pym at any one time without going so mad that you might find yourself turning into Yellowjacket.

However, I would make the case that McGregor and Russell's Killraven (i.e. The War of the Worlds) was an astonishing read in its day. Without having the issues in front of me, we had an interracial romance (which was not the sole focus of the sub-plot thank you), a father-daughter horror story as one of the band of adventurers has to care for her father who has had his mind taken away, and a whole host of emotionally wrenching episodes as they journeyed across the Martian devastated USA.

While starting out in a fairly generic Marvel style, P. Craig Russell moved forward at lightening speed (as did a number of his Marvel contemporaries most notably Starlin and Gulacy) both in terms of layout and illlustrative style. The rotating series of inkers on the book may have had the effect of making sure that some of the artistic growth was being buried under diverse hands, but for those who were looking it was apparent that Russell was something special. The series finale Mourning Prey was a monster step forward with P. Craig Russell's style, one that would signal his shift artistically to where he has gone to today.

And when it comes to the Secret Wars essential: Jeez, I can hardly believe that anyone would want read that again, much less have it in a squarebound edition, but hey, someone bought the thing in the first place, so there must be a level of nostalgia around it. I think that I would love this essential: Marvel's Essential Failures. Comprised of Omega the Unknown, Black Goliath, the odd Marvel Premier (Legion of Monsters, Seeker 3000, and Paladin), and The Champions (with unpublished material). Lets hear it for '70's Marvel goofiness!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

We're Watching the Watchmen: Moore and the Movies

Buried on the Wired Blog I found this lovely still, which should wet the imagination of just about every comics fan out there, while igniting the same level of dread at equal proportion.

Why dread? Shouldn't we be overjoyed to have one of the signature works of the comics medium finally transferred and adapted to the big screen with a great big budget?

Having suffered through more than enough adapted Alan Moore movies, I can say that the dread has long since overtaken the excitement portion of my brain. Why should we expect that this adaption will be any better than From Hell or V for Vendetta? I would love to say that "Hollywood doesn't get it." but I don't think that that is actually the case. I think the makers of V did get that elusive "it" but were unable to fully translate the material to the screen. I'm not so sure about From Hell, but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt a little bit.

The problem lies in a couple different areas: one, primarily, being that Moore's work tends to work on a number of different levels all at the same time, layers of subtext upon subtext. From Hell builds upon itself and the degree of drama is inherent in that, since we all know the general story of the Ripper. The standard screenwriter's "A" story, "B" story and "C" story seems to not be able to convey the material in a fashion that allows it to be adapted without being disemboweled.

The second, and this is key, being the episodic nature, never more so than in Watchmen. Squeezing all 12 issues will require so much material being taken out that I doubt that the murder mystery part of the material will get its proper due, much less the underlying motivations of the different costume wearers, the history of the alternate earth, the relationship of heroes to the community during different time periods, etc. Look at Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Rowling's most successful long form book in the Potter series: at 3 hours it plays like the short version of the book, with all the most important plot points, for the Harry Potter fan. Those wishing the real deal will work their way though the book. The same need to condense the material will most likely happen to Watchmen, and it will lead those non comic fans to say,"What's the big deal?"

A modest proposal: Watchmen as an HBO miniseries, like 24 or Carnivale, that would require the viewer to come back again and again as the clock moves closer and closer to midnight. I would allow the material time to breathe and the view digestion time to appreciate the subtextual material better. It makes the payoff at the end all that much better.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A Boom Tube Full of Comics: Jack Kirby Omnibus

Now, this is the RIGHT way to do this.
Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus vol. 1 will be released in May, marking the first salvo in DC’s plan to reprint the entire Fourth World saga in order of publication. Readers today will be able to read the stories in the order that readers in the early 70s were able to read them. Vol. 1 collects stories from Jimmy Olsen #133-139 and the first three issues each of Forever People, Mister Miracle and New Gods.
The important part of this, really, is the ordering. Kirby was, without any question, a real stream of consciounce writer, one whom ideas and concepts would cascade into the forefront of his mind and spill out onto the page.

Mark Evanier has certainly written about how Kirby created the Black Racer and agreed that maybe he would hold off on using him so that the readers could get used to the lay of the land with Lightray, Orion and Darkseid, and then the very next issue #3 of New Gods had, you guessed it, the Black Racer!

This will be a great pickup, and an entertaining read for those who have never read the original source material that DC has been using and sometimes abusing for over 30 years. Even for us old timers, I know that I have gaps int he original issues that I read, thus missing some of the narrative thread, and that this will give a fresh approach to the material. I'll be very curious to see others make a fresh evaluation of the material. My guess: the ordering of the comics will point out that the series was even better than people remember, but that its flaws, because its certainly not perfect, will also be magnified by the printing here. Just my guess. Soon we'll see

The Cynic: Jennifer de Guzman and More Wonder Con

De Guzman has a post about WonderCon that she label's "I'm so cynical", and after prowling the aisles myself, I can certainly see the side of things that are doing such a good job of bringing her down. Here is her most positive paragraph:
I think what depressed me is the separation I feel from comics and graphic novels as storytelling and art when I'm in convention crowds. Sometimes it is not like that. Sometimes I'm gratified that we're getting these comics into people's hands. And there are those moments, when more girls pick up Wonderland or GloomCookie, or I say, "Oh, no, they can look at it all they want! We don't believe in putting comics in plastic bags around here!" when a father warns his kids not to touch copies of The Super-Scary Monster Show too much, and the kids open the book and grin at the art, and one declares, "I want to be a cartoonist when grow up!"
But lets be realistic. There will always be chicks in tight skirts and cleavage to draw attention to people's booths. I've been going to comic shows longer than she's been alive, and while I deplore the emergence of porn as a viable sales vehicle in the comics/collectibles biz, this is no different than the shift that has happened in the outside world. So after all these years of Cons, here's what I think: things are miles better than they were just 10 years ago in the long off age of 1997.
Yes, there is a disconnect between the folks that desperately want to be having a picture taken with the Adam West Batman (although the kitschy part of me thinks thats OK) and the Eddie Campbell, Gene Yang, Evan Dorkin fans, but that's OK. Hell, Evan might even go pose for a laugh.

For while our little comic get togethers like Wonder Con, San Diego, and (god help us) Wizard Con may be examples in geek excess, indeed almost any gathering of people devoted to one particular subject tends towards that, but in the real world, the aisles of Borders as opposed to Wonder Con, there is a much great relevance of Gene and Eddie's work than there is for the dreaded Spider Sperm saga.

This is a GOOD thing.

We're winning the battle, slowly but surely. And for every well done graphic novel by Slave Labor, Oni, NMB, Fantagraphics or any of the others, we increase the chances that our medium is taken seriously and rejuvenated as a popular media form.

So, jennifer, take a deep breath and relax. Your Monkey "scratch and sniff" shirt is in the mail.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Art of Storytelling: Should Cinema Rule?

Eddie Campbell, over at his site, has been putting up a number of "rules" of storytelling that he tries to live by, and I was caught by this one, In Thrall To The Cinematic Principle, which uses Bernie Kriegston's powerful EC tale, The Master Race, to discuss how comics are like and not like movies.

Eddie makes a number of good points about highlighting the drama and the action between the figures in the story, and brings a arguement against the modern comic page layout: i.e. one large panel with a splashy figure surrounded by a number of small panels that break time and action down in a series of step whether equal in time or unequal. (Image to be posted later)

I recall someone who was editing a version of the Marvel Universe guide discussing how hard it was to find a shot of Cyclops using his eye beams with the effect of the beams being shown in the same panel. He had to go all the way back to Kirby's layouts in X-Men 13 or so to get the shot.

Its true, we have a tendency to focus our camera on the protagonist of the panel often, and in doing so, we lose all the tension of the proximity of the figures to one another, their body language, their reaction to a word balloon in the same panel (thus compressing time into an immediate reaction shot in that panel). Twice in Pistoleras, I have scenes in the first 10 pages where the girls are stuck in smaller spaces and have to react to each other in a relatively quick series of exchanges, whether verbal or non-verbal. It seems rare to have that many "two-shots" in succession.

Krigstein, in other interviews, rails against the limitations that were laid upon him by Gaines at EC, and there is no question, given "Master Race" and what he would have liked to have done with it, that we would have far more advanced work from him had he been allowed to continue.
What is shocking is how Gaines couldn't see the forest for the trees here, while being so good as to allow Kurtzman the ability to follow his genius, and Woody his muse.

"Master Race" perfectly illustrates what Campbell is talking about, and he reproduces one of the pages at the climax of the story that makes a point to contain both characters of the story in each panel, thus never decreasing the drama as we're always aware of the proximity of each man to the other.

With all apologies to Scott McCloud, it has nothing to do with what is being said or done between the panels here. Each image is chosen to follow into the next, and makes for a powerful read-thru. It is in direct contrast to reading an episode of Love and Rockets, where so much is being set up in panel, and then we have an eighth inch of white space and we have to figure out what happened between Hopey and Maggie from the next 10 panels. Two different approaches. The latter rewards clever writing and patient readers.

I'm personally quite glad to see that Bernie left us at least this work to study, read and enjoy.

More on Eddie's rules later.

In Praise of: The Return of Jack Knight, Starman

This little tidbit came from the DC Comics WonderCon panel:

James Robinson does have a story in mind for more Jack Knight stories, and the door is open, Didio said, now, schedules just need to match up.

Amazing news to me. Starman is the Great American Comic Book from the 1990s, and deserves all the acclaim that it can muster. DC knows this, and has done a wonderful job of keeping the trades in print so that just about anyone can jump on board this wonderful series.

Jack Knight's personal journey, and his comic book journey, have plenty of meaning to me, and so I revisit them, both journeys, reasonably often. Especially the first 50 or so issues. tony Harris made his name and his career on this book, and so its easy to overlook the stylistic oddities of the early issues knowing the marvelous art that is to come.

I respect Jack's decision to move on, and appreciate the end of the series because it has just that: an end. His property, legacy as a character, is not diminshed one iota over the last 10 years. Should James have another story in mind, all I can say is this: pick the artist with care. I had a difficult time with Peter Snejbjerg, and would not want to go there again. Tony, you got room in the schedule to do one more run at this?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Artists and Art: Strange Bedfellows

I will fully admit to thinking about addressing fear of drawing in this post, as I find myself constantly battling the horrible suspicion that everything I do is complete shit and why am i bothering and all that runs through an artist's mind every time that they sit down and try to work.
And work it is. The "art" of Art is, like many things, is in making it look easy. We pick up a comic or graphic novel and find ourselves not thinking about how the artist sweat over the cover so that we would be motivated to pick it up in the first place. The best athletes make it look so easy when they perform.

We artists, lacking the immediate gratification of the audience standing on their feet as we throw the perfect touchdown pass, take our gratification, like our work, in slow motion. We sweat for hours to make the panel work that you, the reader will zip through on page 10. But we take our gratitude with each smile that the book brings, with each person that mentions a particular scene that they found memorable at a con years later.

This is, in one sense, why I've made it a real quest to go up to artists whose work I've enjoyed and tell them that. Some, like Pablo Marcos, said, "that's nice" and went back to their sketch (and not to diss Pablo, who I respect tremendously, but there may have been a language barrier there), but some are like George Tuska, whose work I read for years on Iron Man, and who I think got a real joy about someone coming up to them and talking passionately about pages and scenes drawn over two decades ago.

My hand only shakes when I'm nervous about starting a line somewhere on the page. And its always with a brush or a pen. Nothing like indelible ink to raise the stakes. Never happens with a pencil. To overcome this, I have a select bookcase of CDs to play and a bottle of Anejo Tequila to take a shot of when things are too tense.

Why would I admit my alchoholic tendencies? More to show the rest of the artists out there: nothing comes easy. For anyone who likes my work and thinks that they have it bad, here is the secret: there is none. We all struggle. And if someone had told me that years ago, when I hadn't had to discover it myself, I think that it would have saved me years of grief.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Wonder Con has come and gone...

... and I made about a 3 hour walk through with some friends. Its hard to show up at the conventions and not have a product that you can show to people, when deep down what you really want is to WOW everyone with something new thats been on your board. Ah well, I took the fisrt part of Pistoleras to show Mick Grey, inker on Promethea, and a great guy in his own right. He had some nice comments and very little harsh criticism. Heh, he's no help.

Saw my old college buddy Ron Lim and his phone pics of his kid. Didn't get too much time to chat with some of the other artists, but many of my old bay area buddies have moved to different time zones and I don't get the chance to see them as often. That is what San Diego exists for.

My good friend Steve Wyatt was also promoting his Super-Con in San Jose on June 2nd and 3rd and has a stellar line up of guests, including Marshall Rogers, who is still, in my opinion, the greatest Batman artist of all time. I hope to be able to get away to show up on the 2nd and have some booth time in artist's ghetto. For any bay area blog readers, this would be a great time to actually meet some of you. (I have a counter, and while I don't expect the guy in Korea who regularly reads, or the guy in Magill University of Montreal to show up, I know that there are at least a few of you out there...)

And for those days when your muse is lacking: Dani Draws has this great list of ideas to get free up the right side of your brain and think outside of those drawing blues. Feel free to make use of them what you will.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Couple Different Ways You Could Read This...

... and I suppose that I'm not to be reading this as "Drawing Life from... a train wreck" but I am.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, hmm.