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Week Twelve

 

Pages: 66-69

Hat: Yankees

Tools: Pencils (H and blue lead)

One of the most intense scenes in the entire second volume came to life this week...as evidenced by the pics above. Chapter Four opens with a flashback scene revealing the early days of earth's destruction (around the time of most of the web comics) and the events leading up to what happened to Neph's daughter, Krista. My biggest challenges were in giving a real sense of gravity to the destruction that ensues, and a sense of despair to the exchange to follow. This is also an instance where unfortunately,I don't believe I'll know exactly how well I've achieved the dramatic effect I was attempting until after the pages are inked. Sometimes it makes all the difference.

 

Week Eleven

Pages: 59-65

Tools: Pencils (H and blue lead)

Hat: Brooklyn Dodgers

"The younger filmmaker has this wonderful lack of intelligence when it comes to what is possible and what's not possible, and that enables him sometimes to do things that are really impossible."

-Francis Ford Coppola

Though the quote is specific to filmmakers, most narrative illustrators will rightly agree that in terms of the creative and conceptual process, there is little difference.

Back to good ol' seven pages again...not counting the two I did this morning, which, being Monday, I decided to count towards next week...meaning I not only met my stated objective of completing chapter three, but have Chapter Four well underway. Good stuff. This week was also spoiler heavy in terms of what I was drawing...I wish I could show more, but I'm still self-sworn to secrecy. I will say that the plot thickens in terms of the villians of our story, and their relationship with Neph.

 

Week Ten

Pages: 55-58
Tools: Pencils (H and blue lead)
Hat: Puerto Rico

Damn. Only four pages this week. I'm getting my groove back but it's slow going. Not sure if it's due to too much caffene, or not enough. Anywhoo, fight scene this week, and perhaps about time. the big pic on the left is the splash page I started last week and the accompanying sketch from which it came. Note the minimal, whispy lines and hugely disproportionate jaw on Neph in the inset of the sketch. This is always a sure sign that I'm not as into it as I should be. I must've been trying to eat lunch at the same time. It's a good thing my thumbnails don't need to be especially detailed at all. More often than not they're just to solidify a fuzzy mental picture.

When I draw a one on one confrontation of any kind, I try to keep it from being a standard, boring punch-kick-punch-kick sort of thing. I try to imagine what someone might do in a real, desparate sort of fight, especially for one's life, and it won't often be to trade blows with their opponent - It'll be to get them on the ground as soon as possible and by any means necessary. This is how you'll often see Neph fighting; more grapples and takedowns than anything else. Though I'll have him throw a good punch or two, if the opportunity comes up. Next Week: I begin Chapter Four (...?).

Weeks Eight & Nine

A good time was had by all on the last weekend in February, as I braved freezing cold, long lines, the near-inaccessibility of half of the guests in attendance, and the crooks running the municipal parking lots on Manhattan's west side, to attend the 2nd annual New York Comic-Con, which grew significantly from last year. It's on course to rival San Diego in size, scope, and importance, and I say it's about time the east coast had something this important for the industry, considering it's two biggest publishers are located here. I once again did my best to bring SoulExo to the attention of anyone who would listen, handing out flyers, buttons, stickers, whatever I had in reach.

Below are a few of the folks in the business I was fortunate enough to meet, talk with, and learn from (although guests of honor Stan Lee and Stephen King were nearly inaccessible...my only glimpse of King was when he, surrounded by aides, made a discreet move from a conference room to some back area of the convention center. My friends and I spotted him at the last second, which was admittedly kinda cool, considering we were just sitting there eating lunch).

Anyone who has a chance to listen to George Perez talk about the business should - it's very reassuring to meet a successful artist who's been in comics for so long who is still minimally jaded, optimistic, enthusiastic, and above all, still loves what he does.

In an unexpected happy accident, I also got to meet Coheed & Cambria (one of my all time favorite bands) lead singer Claudio Sanchez...who was promoting his recently released Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness Graphic Novel (bought a copy - highly recommended). This is another inspiring story for me - here's a guy who's only four years older than me, who's living two dreams of his at the same time, while producing work of quality and substance. I wish he and the band all the best...can't wait till the next tour date in NY.

In a truly cool move on Saturday (and probably one of the highlights of the weekend for me, personally), Steve Niles actually bought a copy of SoulExodus Volume one right on the spot at his signing table. If he can figure a way to subtly slip it into a bookcase in the background somewhere in the 30 Days of Night movie, I might just have a heart attack. Wishful thinking, perhaps, but it was still extremely cool of him. The photo was, as well. Thanks again.

Josh Medors
(Runes of Ragnan)

Peter David (Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born)

Claudio Sanchez (Coheed & Cambria)

fGeorge Perez ffff(The Brave and the Bold, JLA/Avengers)

J. Michael Straczynski f(Babylon 5, Amazing Spider-Man)

Steve Niles

(30 Days of Night, Criminal Macabre)

Pages: 49-54
Tools: Pencils (H and blue lead), Music, music, and more music
Hat: FDNY

Oh yeah! Some drawing these past two weeks. Very little, considering, but I'm slowly getting back into the routine. I hope to be back in full swing this week. Here we have some rather inticing glimpses of a female character which will play a HUGE role in SoulExodus from Volume Two onward. Not a great glimpse, I'm still spoiler-wary, but enough to intrigue. And holy shit! our pal Neph is actually wearing a shirt! It was rumored, but never believed.

The pic on the far right also displays a pitfall of one-point perspective, which is depth perception. My suggestion is to consult photographs, but if they're unavailable, try to at least think in terms of relative size. Establish an object on or near your vanishing point, and work the size of other objects, bigger or smaller (keeping in mind their distance from the vanishing point) around how the size of that first object would compare. Easy to learn, difficult to master.

Week Seven

Pages: 43-48

Tools: Pencils (H and blue lead), red ballpoint pen

Hat: ???

 

This week's work consisted almost entirely of a marathon 20 hour session on Saturday (into early Sunday), in which five and a half pages were completed: I believe the most I've ever done in a single day. It was a bit weird - I expected to feel burnt out, and I was (reluctantly) prepared to stop if the artwork reflected it, but it just didn't come. I did a page, took a break, and each time asked myself "wanna do another?" and I did. Quite frankly, it felt GREAT. I'm absolutely gonna have to try it again sometime soon. The photo on the right was something I thought was interesting to see side by side, particularly cause I don't do many sketches. This is usually about as close as I come, and it gives you an idea of how far removed from the sketch the finished product usually is.

 

Week Six

Pages: 36-42
Tools: Pencils (H and blue lead)
Hat: FDNY

I seemed to get my groove back as I wrapped up the second chapter this week. I did two of the three images you see here as parts of a character's monologue, or flashback, if you will. I don't know about artists in general, but I always dig these because whatever story your character is telling gives you the opportunity to interpret and illustrate his or her narrative, as opposed to just showing said character standing around talking for however long - although that is it's own challenge, and my hat goes off (yes, those hats do come off) to anyone talented enough to illustrate something like that in an interesting way. It's more difficult, but not impossible. The middle pic has (IMO) two of my best panels so far. Hands up, anyone who can identify the time period they take place in.

Week Five

Pages: 30-35
Tools: Pencils (H and blue lead)
Hat: Knicks

For various reasons, a lot less productivity than I would've liked this week. There were some key moments, however, including glimpses of two of the next book's major new characters. While I've been referencing a lot of expensive suits for the scenes to come (including the above one), the hand reference is mostly me (it's sort of an old drawing exercise, drawing your own hand until you're comfortable with it. Believe you-me, hands are really hard to draw if you're out of practice). I'm also a small bit disappointed that I've found I can use my own hands for both male and female hand reference. Oh well.

 

Week Four

Pages: 23-29
Tools: Pencils (H and blue lead)
Hat: Jagermeister

I began on Chapter Two this week (I'll be continuing the straightforward page numbering here, though, for the sake of progression). While I once again want to avoid spoiling anything major, The seven pages I worked on feature some first glimpses into the lives of some of our supporting cast before the fateful days in which the world came to an end. This'll be a trend throughout the second volume, shedding some light on certain characters and events as they may relate to the story as it stands (Think the flashback scenes in Lost, without that weird "rushing air" sound effect.) This particular scene I worked on this week also contains one of the simplest, and at the same time, in my opinion, best depictions of Cher I've done to date. See above. "Less is more" is a very overused cliche at this point, but I think it applies here.

Week Three

Pages: 15-22
Tools: Pencils (H and blue lead), many, many photographs
Hat: Brooklyn Dodgers

Chapter One was finished today. I'm very happy with the progress so far, in terms of both output and quality. Some of my best pages of this chapter came this week - including a scene with Neph and another (unnamed for spoiler purposes) character that is, dark and angry as it is, among my favorite moments in this volume. As a result of my work this week, the tip would be: to not be afraid to photo reference. It's not "cheating," it won't destroy your precious artistic integrity, and it doesn't mean you're any less creative for doing so. They're tools like anything else. My drawing table is littered with photographs - some taken myself, some not - and magazines, and they enable me to take what I am well aware is a fairly minimalist, stylized way of drawing, and give it a structure of reality that makes all the difference when you're trying to tell a convincing story. You can't always trust your memory and imagination - you ALWAYS remember things better, or at least differently than they really were. In terms of narrative, you have to ground at least one foot in the real world.

 

Week Two

Pages: 8-14
Tools: Pencils (H and blue lead)
Hat: FDNY

A lot of getting reacquainted with perspective this week, and getting plenty of mileage out of some trusty T-Squares. Free tip: A pro I met at a convention some time back (apologies, I forgot who it was) told me that one of the best ways to tell if your artwork is proportional and everything is where it should be is to flip it over and look at it backwards. Incredibly enough, it works like a charm, and I've been forced to re-draw many a piece because of it (including a few this week). Perfection is not so much a road as it is a hamster wheel.

There's also been a great deal of photo referencing, mostly from films, to get an idea of the look of what an infirmary in a war zone might be like. In short, this has been mainly a week of draftsmanship. Admittedly not my strength, but hard work conquers weakness. At least in theory.

Week One

Pages: 3-7
Tools: Pencils (H and blue lead)
Hat: Yankees
Off to a good start...A bit jittery on Friday night, but settling in nicely (it may have been all the caffene). I would like to find a harder blue lead, though. The ones I'm using break like dry spaghetti. Anyway, First photo is of page 3. This would be the earliest one. The next two are from Saturday, page 5. Doesn't look like much now, but I think it came out okay. I've been drawing a lot of assault rifles this weekend, which should give you some idea of how the opening scene of the next book is gonna go.

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