Thursday, August 24, 2006


Thanks to BoingBoing - one more thing to drool over.



Research 'Til Your Eyes Bleed

What? No drawings? Not yet, they're coming, but Ray's comment on research gave me an idea for a post. And here it is -

Research for The First Fear:
The Lost Tomb of Viracocha: Unlocking the Secrets of the Peruvian Pyramids
The Atlantis Encyclopedia
Machu Picchu
Forbidden History: Prehistoric Technologies, Extraterrestrial Intervention, and the Suppressed Origins of Civilization
The Alien Files (5 DVDs)
Arctic Mission (5 DVDs)
And, of course...
The Occult History of the Third Reich (3 DVDs)
• Plus, every History Channel 'Lost City...', 'Crop Circle...', 'UFO...', 'Wacky Theory...' episode.

And we're just getting warmed up.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

The Story Begins to Come Together

After having a few 4 AM epiphanies, The First Fear storyline is beginning to become whole. Or whole enough that I can start looking at the overall structure for things like: flow; exposition; and dynamics in character growth, action and plot reveals. At this point the visuals will be challenging as the story spans both locations and time. It currently moves from the Arctic (thousands of years ago) to Machu Picchu (hundreds of years ago) to Europe and WWII (decades ago) to potentially a Nazi-run present-day/future, complete with alien technology and occult rituals.

Much of the story is now motivated by the question of what would happen if anyone with a domineering, non-inclusive worldview actually found an advantage that moved a global conflict from tit for tat to a brutal takeover? I want to take legends like the Spear of Destiny (whoever had it was supposedly invincible, and it is rumored that when the Allies recovered the artifact from the Nazis, Hitler died in his bunker two hours later) and expand that advantage to technology. Technology that is alien in origin. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

It is at this point in a project that one can either be elated at the flow of ideas or overwhelmed by the immensity of it all. Especially if you're planning on doing it all yourself (concept, story, art, production, new software, etc.).

I'm excited.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

First Fear Sketches - 1

I have been working on introducing an important character to the story and, as I said before, the events in the Middle East have greatly affected my thinking. This introduction actually takes place in WWII and, of course, involves the standard Nazi occultist. But these sketches revolve around the character of a boy who will have an intimate connection to the lead character, who is a vampire.

This child emerges from the rubble of a destroyed town. Smoke still rising and corpses still warm. And later in the scene, the child has to drag a bloody body across the town square. I never thought I would write anything like this, but it's where the story is currently taking me. We'll see how much stays through the final edit, but for now I'm trying not to edit anything.

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The Origins of the Story

I had not intended to write a vampire book. This all started out with my hope of fleshing out the Ralph the Punk, Burning City, story that has been around in various forms since 1984. But in working out details for that story I developed a background concept that I was too excited about to leave as a backdrop. I felt it was strong enough to stand on its own. And, with that, I moved on to vampires. And all things dark and spooky.

Essentially, these creatures of the night, legendary embodiments of primal fear, have a purpose and a function. An alien function that answers for me why they exist, how they survive and why they are immortal. It is those original base fears that interest me and that is the reason for the title, The First Fear.

As I have been writing, the story has become influenced by two events in my life. One is personal and one is happening on the other side of the world. The personal side is all about dementia and it's effects on both the person with the disease and the people surrounding them. (And no, the vampires don't get dementia. Nor any other monster.) The other event is the fighting in the Middle East. Most pointedly, the battles between Lebanon and Israel that have wrenchingly engaged the civilian population on both sides.

The exciting thing about these influences is that they've taken the original idea of a basic action adventure story and given some depth to the characters. It has allowed me to move beyond thinking about just getting characters from point A to point B and into a place where I have check with the characters first before the plot moves ahead. As I write the script I will not only be creating text, but sketches and visual narratives/storyboards/rough page layouts to help me determine if the story is working as a comic book. And to see how much of the story I can tell visually and not just through dialog and narration.

After this there will be more drawings and less talking.

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Exposing Myself - Creating My Comic Book

My original intentions for this blog were to push and promote. 'Push' as in pushing me to get work done, because an empty blog is a sad blog and to promote some interest in what I was attempting to do with my creative output these days. Some events of my personal life have crept in to the blog and that's okay, but I am going to try and focus on the work more. This entry is an example.

I am in the process of writing a comic book. The book's final form, I don't know at this point. Self-published? If necessary. I am interested in putting as much of the process out there as it's created. Some of my fellow artists think it's a little nuts. I will try to be cautious of spoilers for the one or two people who might actually read the damn thing when it's done.

That said, I have been working on the script now for a few months in between other projects, like getting the Cafepress Burning City store up and running and getting ready for Wizard World. Well, those things are functioning or done and while there are always other distractions I am going to make the comic book a priority.

I would like to treat this like the ongoing production diary of a movie. Show the process, it's pitfalls, it's triumphs and, ultimately, how a project like this gets done. Or not.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM)

'The Milwaukee Art Museum'

Julienne and I took a road trip up to Milwaukee on an amazing beautiful day this past Saturday to see the Masters of American Comics exhibition.

'Masters of American Comics Show'

The show was good, but couldn't live up to the hype I heard prior to visiting. A great collection of original works that was inspiring to see, but the exhibit didn't do as good a job explaining how these artists related. It was nice to see a variety of folks, both young and old, enjoying the show though. And it was important to see the original 'Meatball' strip by R. Crumb. For some reason, that played an significant part of my high school experience in New Orleans.

'I love this place'

We have to go back, because I love this building. Maybe it was the gorgeous day, but there didn't seem to be a bad angle on the place. Even the garage was a soothing, lovely environment.

'Julienne soaking up the sun along Lake Michigan'

Julienne took advantage of the weather when I took a second look at the exhibit after lunch in the cafe.

'The Burke Brise Soleil closing'

We got there just in time to see the closing and opening of the Burke Brise Soleil. We were on a theme weekend having just seen the Cirque du Soleil show, Corteo, the night before.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

I'm So Sick

The comic book I'm working on, The First Fear, has gotten another song in the 'inspiration' soundtrack. The band, Flyleaf, has a tune called, I'm So Sick, which works perfectly with where I'm going with the script. Their website has it streaming in the background, along with another song, Fully Alive.

Dementia has played such an integral part of my life the last several years I have decided to incorporate it into the story I'm writing. (And no, I am not the one suffering from the disease.) A meeting I had earlier today delivered the news that we were coming to a threshold I have been dreading for a while now. It's surprising how this phase of the disease has brought on an emotional impact that is far greater than I had imagined. You always think you're prepared.

I've not used my art as personal outlet other than to entertain, shock and amuse the viewer. After 35 years of making things, I appear to be at a crossroad where an emotional investment into this story may be of some use. We'll see.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Wizard World Chicago 2006

'One view of the Wizard World floor'

Twenty years ago I sat behind a table at comic book convention in Atlanta promoting Shatter for First Comics. And now, after a two decade hiatus, which included designing laser shows, computer games, theater posters, web sites, business strategies, and software, I'm back behind the table.

'A boy and his table'

I had a great time, mostly because of the people I hung out with, the artists I met, the old friends I saw, and the new folks who came up to the table and showed an interest in my work. Plus, I sold a few things.

'Deb and Alex Wald hawking his wares'

Sharing the table with me was Alex Wald. A great artist who is getting back into the game with both feet (and his talented hands), many people were happy to see his work at the con. The owner of Mimoco (designer toys) said it best when he saw Alex's table, "Amazing artwork!" Alex's better half, Deb, came by for support and to see her first comic book convention.

'Bill Reinhold, comic book artist extraordinaire and the nicest guy in comics'

Sitting to our right was Bill and Linda Reinhold, two of comics' longtime talents. I have known them since the First Comics days and they are a tremendous pleasure to hang out with and learn from. Plus, Mike Reinhold is the coolest kid in the comic book world.

'Michael and Bill'

'Alex Wald, Andy Wachowski and Geof Darrow'

Sitting to our left was Geof Darrow, concept designer for the Matrix movies and currently blowing people away with his book, Shaolin Cowboy. Another friendly Chicago talent. Helping him out was two more cool folks - his nephew, Gayne, and Andy Wachowski.

'Andy and Geof'

Andy's name may seem familiar because he and his brother, Larry, are the publishers of Burlyman Entertainment. Oh yeah, they've done a couple of movies, too.

'Denise Dorman, Alex, Linda (Lessman) Reinhold, Dave Dorman'

Also stopping by were Dave and Denise Dorman. Dave is a master illustrator who was also sitting next to me twenty years ago in Atlanta. Now he's another Chicago area guy.

"Master Chief inspects Burning City'

The gaming world was definitely represented and to prove it, Halo's Master Chief, came by to inspect the goods. Some of the costumes people were wearing were pretty amazing this year.

'A very cool Battle Angel Alita tattoo'

The manga world was also there in force, but the coolest version of it was this young woman's Alita tattoo. This website has some interesting takes on potential casting of the upcoming movie version of Battle Angel Alita.

'Batgirl, Batgirl, Batgirl'

I thought I would end this tour with a classic figure, pardon the pun, and a shout out to Internets pal, Ray, who dropped by in the flesh to prove he wasn't a 14 year old girl messing with our minds online. A couple of other stalwarts whom I see every year were Zack and Eugene. And, of course, John.

Before I go I would like to thank James Mortensen of Comix Revolution in Evanston for supporting the cause and buying a Burning City t-shirt. I also thanked Michael Turner in the hotel elevator for helping my wife love comics via Fathom. He was happy to hear that.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Pre-launch Preparations. All Systems Go.

According to the Wizard World website clock, in about an hour or so there will be one day left until the convention. Alex and I have been building stores and creating products into the wee hours of the morning far too many times in the last couple of weeks. I'm waiting for one more package to arrive (minty fresh biz cards and Ralph the Punk postcards) and then I'll brush my teeth and get a good night's sleep.

If you're going to the convention (and that means you, Ray) come by and see us at table #3027 in Artists Alley.

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