News

Return of "The Conjurers" Webcomic

Yep. Finally. Now that all three novels are written, I’m slicing off a smidge of time to bring back the webcomic. There’s still a lot of work to be done on books two and three. A ton of fine tune editing and all the illustrations. However, with book one coming out next July, I wanted the webcomic to revived and breathing well before the launch. Mostly because, even though it’s a rag-tag experiment, I love it. I love getting to visit the cast of “The Conjurers” books outside of prose filled pages.

Also, I know as a reader, it’s always cool when yo can visit a fantasy world in multiple mediums. And it’s super cool when you can visit that world while waiting for the next book to release. Besides, there are so many people and creatures and places in the Conjurian that I want to see. The best way to do that is an ongoing comic.

The next installment will launch on Halloween, which falls on a Thursday this year. There’ll be a new episode every Monday after that. If you have no idea what I’ve been rattling on about, you can read the comic from the beginning here: https://www.gocomics.com/the-conjurers

Nightmare Car Repairs

gasket-clown.png

I’ll probably repeat this several times, but these strips are ideas that strike me as funny at the time I doodle them. Doesn’t guarantee they’ll make sense. This is one of my favorites. The initial sketch was the clown poking out of the engine. Weeks later the mechanic labeling the problem as gasket clowns made me laugh. And there you go.

I liked how the final art turned out. You have to draw lots of comics before the style fins itself. I think I’m getting closer. I want them to be sem-realistic an not too cartoonish. Pretty good balance in this comic. The realism seems to heighten the dark weirdness and the humor at the same time. I’ll keep pushing and tweaking the style bit by bit and see where it goes.

In other news, my other comic, “The Conjurers”, which is a companion piece to the novels will be returning this Halloween! That too is an experiment and so far, I’ve enjoyed where the story has gone. Never been happy wit the art. Then again, I limited myself to one hour for pencils, inks and colors. Didn’t have the time while writing the books. More on that in my next post. Till then, leave a comment or drop me a line and let me know what you think of “Primordial Syrup” so far.

Singe Panel Cartoons - Shopping List

shopping-list.png

This idea lived in my notebook for quite sometime. Finally got around to sketching it up. Originally, it was a little demon-like creature running up to the lady to make his requests. Then I had the idea of not being able to see the creature, which, many times is a bit spookier. Has a bit of an “Evil Dead” vibe.

Lots more of these to come. I have a notebook full of roughed out comics. And I’m constantly doodling more. Drawing these weird strips has always been my default mode. It also helps to give your mind a break from regular projects, and I never really found a home for the weird stuff. Truthfully, I do them because this stuff clutters my head. Best to get them out.
For now, I plan on drawing one a week, although I write a bunch during the week. Maybe a collection in the future? We’ll see. What would you think about making prints available? And since I’m asking, would you wear one of these comics on a t-shirt?

Channeling my inner Lovecraft

RECIPE-IN-FRAME.png

This is one of the earliest Primordial Syrup comics I wrote. Sums up the tone of the comic nicely. Still not happy with the finished art. Wish I had made the creature more creaturey, with a bit of “Ancient One” flair. Still, progress not perfection.

In the coming weeks I’ll have more posts on “The Conjurers”. Currently I’m working on the illustrations for book two. Also sketching concepts for the cover. And I hope to have news on book one soon. A release date and maybe some actual photos of an actual book. Stay tuned.

Funny Comics - The Addams and Far Side Effect

Another new Primordial Syrup comic. I’m going to try and post a new every Monday. Once a week should be manageable. I have a ton written. The art can take some time, especially when the style is developing. You can probably tell two of my biggest influences were Charles Addams and Gary Larson.

Addams, aside from creating the “Addams Family”, generated some of the best and weirdest single panel comics at a time when weird wasn’t exactly mainstream. My dad had a hardcover collection of New Yorker comics. I was six or seven when I stumbled upon it. I loved any book filled with cartoons, however, most of them, aside from the art, didn’t intrigue me. They were dated, although I wasn’t aware at the time that that was the reason. However, every so many pages would be a single panel that stood out. Kind of like “One of these things doesn’t belong” on Sesame Street.

On those particular comics, I noted the signature, “Addams”, and scoured the book for more. From that moment on Charles Addams was my Odin of cartooning. “The Far Side” came along a bit later, but had a similar effect. When most of your thoughts and ideas are strange, a bit dark and off kilter, or fall into the “I don’t get it” category, seeing the works of Addams and Larson were a beacon in a field that can sometimes drag you down a conventional path just to make a living.

That said, Primordial Syrup has no endgame. They are simply the ideas that make me laugh. They are the cartoons that, if I opened up a hardcover collection of comics, would be the ones I would read.

Single Panel Cartoons

solicitor_082319.png

Where the weird things are. I’ve always done single panel comics. The earliest ones I remember were in fourth grade. It was always the best way to get the weird images in my head out. They also made me infamous in high school. First time I got called to the headmaster’s office was over a single panel comic.

The comic, like most of my single panels, was only a fleeting, strange thought. No deeper meaning, just something that struck me as funny. This comic featured an average tree-lined street in an average neighborhood. Except an enormous soap on a rope had smashed one car parked on the road.

Long story short, they called me to the headmaster’s office after the comic ran in the school paper. I spent half an hour reassuring him that there was no deep religious connotations implying that god had dropped his soap-on-a-rope. 

Despite the momentary apprehension of a week’s worth of detention, I realized why I had always loved off-beat, bizarre comics. The sheer fun of seeing the hundreds of different interpretations over a bit of nonsense. With no effort of creating something that contained a profound statement or some worldly truth, it could inspire deeper thought unique to every reader. 

So ya, Primordial Syrup is the ongoing stream of strange that runs through my brain. I have notebooks full of ideas. I plan on rendering them into reality once a week. Let me know what you think in the comments. I’m always interested in what people think they mean. 


Writing and Illustrating - Process

Character Design - The Cast of the Conjurers

Cat Tank

Book Illustrating Process - Streamlined Doodling

Animated gif showing my illustration  process from doodle to final sketch.
From doodle to final sketch

Never underestimate the power of doodling. Here’s a quick sample of my illustration process for the Conjurers. I want the art for these books to have that same frenetic, chaotic look as my ballpoint pen doodles. Usually I use the small, thumbnail doodles as a reference to pencil the final drawing. but, using that method, I tend to steer back to my comic book style which battles my cartoony style and I end  up with a stiff, flat, boring picture. So on this go around, I decided to scan in those imperfect, scratchy doodles and ink on top. Seems to work so far. What I end up with are outlines of the final illustration. Once the book layout is done, I’ll give the drawings another few passes, adding a lot more details. I’m also hiding Easter Eggs for my magician friends and some clues for books two and three.

Art Process: Banners and Bookmarks

Today, I little insight to my art process. Recently, I worked out new pieces in my sketchbook. Starting with small thumbnails, I end up with a decently composited sketch:

rough sketch for Conjurers promotional art
Rough pencil sketch, 8 x 11 Moleskine notebook.

I scan these sketches in with my phone. Quick and easy. The sketch is only a loose guideline for the final piece so I don't need a high quality scan. Once I place the sketch into my Photoshop document, I can further tweak the different elements till I get a pleasing layout.

Once I'm relatively happy with the layout, I start inking. However, inking directly in such a large file can be annoyingly laggy. I select specific areas, create a new document and work on the inks there before dragging it back in to the original piece.

Inking process
Inking the tree separately from the rest of the drawing.

Above is a screenshot of the tree section. A lot of little detail here, so working in a separate, smaller file makes things a lot easier. You have to pay attention to line thickness. Making it too thin here will wash it out when it gets dragged back into the original. 

Beginnings of final inks
Compositing the puzzle pieces.

In the image above, I've pieced together the main character inks and that weird carriage.  Some background characters are still in the pencil stages as I haven't committed to the final layout or whether or not they will be included.  

I've got a long way to go before I finish the inks. Then onto colors. I'll post that process down the road.  The light at the end of the tunnel is that I will probably use this piece for both a convention banner and bookmarks. 

Foster Dogs and Happy Endings

A few days ago we took in a little pittie foster, Thelma, from temporary foster family. She had been rescued from a hoarding situation and had demodex. It's a nasty condition and needs lots of care and also adorable SPF dresses to protect her from the sun.After her foster mom dropped Thelma off, we knew this was going to be a long-term deal. No problem. Been there, done that. If we made eye contact, Thelma left the room. She spent the first few hours howling for her first foster mom and checking every window. Heartbreaking. It would take time and patience. Trouble was she needed regular baths and treatment for her condition. We couldn't get close enough to pet her and you can't rush fearful dogs.The first night, Gunnar and I spent over an hour trying to get her upstairs for bed.This morning, every astral body aligned, and I got a text from here former foster mom. She had adopted Thelma and was coming to get her! I'm sharing the video of their reunion. Unfortunately, I missed the first minute when Thelma was jumping into orbit but it's still enough to choke me up.As always, if you are looking to adopt a dog, please visit Long Trails to Happy Tails or your nearest shelter or rescue.

Speed Doodle from Book Three

Illustration from book three of "The Conjurers" novel series.I'll be handing over the manuscript for book three at the end of May. I won't start on the illustrations for some time. First have to get books one and two all illustrated up. However, as I work through the prose, I take a little time here and there to whip out a speed sketch from one of the scenes. It gives me a chance to at least have drafts of the final drawings lying around. It also allows me to work out the style for the final images. Trying to keep them light and sketchy and moving.I won't be posting a lot of illustrations from book three as they will contain a lot of spoilers for the first two books. Never the less, there will be plenty more to post when the actual drawing begins.

Sketch Warm Up - Meet the Cast

characters from the Conjurers book seriesWarming up to illustrate book one. Like I mentioned yesterday, I'll be editing book three and cranking out the drawings for book one over the next few months. Yesterday I drew my favorite supporting cast members, the Grubians. Those of you who have read the webcomic will be familiar with these rapscallions. And if you liked them there, wait till you get a load of them in the novels.Fair to say, these guys are my Shakespearean clowns, although they play a pivotal role in the first three books. My inspiration for them goes well past Shakespeare. My magician friends will notice a similarity to another tall and short magic duo. Except my big guy is the non-talker. Yep, Penn & Teller. Two of my biggest influences in magic since the third grade. They were the starting point for these two.Halfway through writing book one, I realized another influence for this pair were Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar. If those names aren't familiar, google them and then get the book that pops up in the results. I also recommend getting the comic adaptation and the BBC tele-play and of course the BBC radio drama version. Trust me on this.Lastly, the names. Was it too obvious? My devious Grubians are named after Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman, the two writers I can't live without. Well, also Susan Hill, but I have another character based on her we'll get to later.That's it for today. Back to editing book three and sketching up the art for book one. I'll be sure to post my progress on both.