The Stringer – Making of (2)

Hello everyone!

Let’s show a new “making of” for a page of “The Stringer”. As I said in a previous entry, I start by doing a fast schematic scketch directly on the margins of the script sent by Ted.

As you can see, there were initially only 4 panels, but I added three more in order to feel more confortable and give the reader all the information. Lucky me, Ted is a very detailed writer, but also very flexible and open to change if it makes my life easier. So you can see the final 7-panels structure under the text.

Ok, first drawing on the new panel structure:

For the central panel background, supposedly showing a street in Amsterdam, I mixed two photos from a trip I made some time ago. It’s actually not Amsterdam, or even Holland, but Ghent and (I think) Bruges, in Belgium.

And voilà, a beautiful fake view of Amsterdam!

Now let’s move to the inking, adding some extra details: the beard for the first character, the 500-Euro banknotes and the bank statement:

Then I add the plain colors:

Some shadows, the only text balloon, and it’s done! Ready to receive one of those wads of cash in payment for all the hard work! 😁

I hope you liked it! More interesting stuff to come!!

Watch the October Skies for the Return of The Silent Invasion

Dark Matter, Book Four of The Silent Invasion will be released this coming October. This tale of shadowy, out of control, international cabals weaving byzantine webs of deep state conspiracies, fear, and paranoia in an America that may be controlled by mysterious space aliens “continues” in an alternate-world 1970—five years after the “conclusion” of Abductions, the previous book in the series.

The jury is still out on whether The Silent Invasion is a documentary or just the addled ravings of a couple of comic book geeks from southern Ontario.

Here are a couple of finished pages from Chapter Two…

Until next time, stay safe and watch out for those little green men!

The Stringer on wheels

Hello!

I always loved drawing cars, motorcycles and anything with wheels.

My sister-in-law Helena keeps some of my first drawings that I made (aged 3-4 years) in the letters my older brother sent her when they were still sweethearts . Those drawings were invariably of cars, crazy racing stories, influenced by the cartoons “Wacky Races” and “Mach GoGoGo” (she jealously guards those letters in the absurd hope that someday they will have some value, poor little thing!).

Therefore, for someone like me it is a pleasure to illustrate a story written by Ted Rall, in which his characters are always running from one side to the other using all kinds of means of transportation, which he often describes in detail.

If we add that the story takes place in different countries and at different times, as in “The Stringer”, the pleasure of researching, documenting and drawing the appropriate vehicles, borders on lust for me, a maniac of documentation and accuracy.

So, let’s take a look at what we can find in “The Stringer” (in order of appearance in the book):

In the cover, I draw a Land Rover Defender with a lot of life behind it and certainly more than one interesting story to tell. Choosing this model is poetic license, because the quintessential all-terrain vehicle of the Middle East foreign reporters is the Toyota, as we will see later. But I find the Land Rover more beautiful, and it is a kind of tribute to its end of production after 67 years of faithful service.

Let’s go into the story: back in the early 70’s, Mark’s father drives a beautiful, massive, stylish Pontiac Grand Prix.

I would like to think it was the 455 cu in (7.5 L) rated at 310 HP, but I don’t see Mark senior as the wheel-burning type, more of a quiet cruiser. It must have been a pleasure to drive that liner with the V8 purring like a cat.

Fast forward in time: it’s the late 70s – early 80s. Mark enters the paradise of citizens allowed to drive. His girlfriend Patricia drives a white Camaro Z28 with red stripes to break hearts of everyone she comes across (at least mine, if I had crossed paths with her at that time). Mark, meanwhile, rides a fabulous badass Chevy Nova SS.

Anecdote: the Nova was Ted Rall’s first car, as you can see in this photo from his youth, in which Ted tries to convert a sports coupe into a station wagon.

Young Ted is under the boat…

Second anecdote: my first car was my father’s Simca 1200, a French shell rated at astounding 52 hp. It’s certainly not the same…

In that same colour!!

Patricia’s Camaro did not have a very good life; here it is a few years later, showing its scars, limping through heavy traffic on the freeway.

Ok, cut to the 21st century. In the middle East countries, modern Toyota Hilux from news agencies and NGOs and old Soviet UAZ trucks coexist seamlessly.

The Hilux was also, unfortunately, the preferred car of ISIS, to the point that in 2015 the U.S. government opened an investigation (with the collaboration of Toyota) to discover the origin of the hundreds of Hilux that ISIS used for its movements and attacks. Different explanations: jumps to dealerships in countries in conflict, “disappearances” of shipments in Australian ports, unscrupulous intermediaries…

Further north, bus travel in the former Soviet republics is a catalog of jalopies with millions of kilometers on their backs. Here we can see a LIAZ on a road in the middle of nowhere in Kazakhstan.

Roads where you can have the most unexpected encounters: for example, a MAZ 537, a prodigious monster from the heyday of Soviet military engineering, towing an old nuclear missile on its way to dismantling.

But it’s not all transportation hardship for Mark. Sometimes he gets around in style, for example in this Mercedes S500, with which he visits a business partner at a former Soviet factory. His partner still drives around in an old UAZ van that we can see parked in the alley.

Mark’s other partners have more budget and move around in better vehicles. And nothing better for a picnic in the dunes than a huge, massive Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6. And if it´s two of them, much better!!

A Lincoln Navigator is not bad either, and is somewhat more discreet, although it requires certain security precautions depending on the country you are in.

But luxury goes out the window when you have to resort to public transport in northern Pakistan. Although the cheerful and extravagant decoration of its buses is quite a spectacle

Anyway, when things get serious nothing like an old and reliable Toyota Land Cruiser, the king of the tough off-roaders ex-aequo with the Land Rover.

A brief parenthesis to better-known places: a Fiat 500, Vespas… which city could it be?

Too bad the Dolce Vita does not last long. Back to the rough roads of northern Afghanistan, where the ditches are overflowing with reminders that the situation is complicated. The ubiquitous Toyota also dominates the cab market in the Middle East, in this case we see a Hiace minivan.

The bandits in these parts have changed the horses for motorcycles. In the foreground, we have a Kawasaki KLE 500 from the first half of the 1990s.

The second one could be a Honda from about the same era. In any case, tough as nails, virtually indestructible and with minimal maintenance, ideal for ISIS blitzkrieg actions.

And this is the end of the automotive review of “The Stringer”, I hope you liked it!

The Stringer: Making of

Hi again,

Since I was a reader in my childhood -One Million Years B.C.- I was curious about how the cartoonists worked. In the age before the Internet, it was hard for a small-town-boy to get this information. So, I searched here and there, digging into magazines and books.

Not too successfully, I must say. The first story I sent to a fanzine -two pages- was drawn in just one paper sheet. I mean, I draw page 1 in the front side, and page 2 in the reverse, just as I see them printed in the magazines.

Ok, enough about embarrassing moments. Just in case you’re curious about the creative process, here you’ve got how I make a page starting from the script sent by Ted Rall.

As you can see, my first sketch is on the same page of the script. Almost illegible. It is just a reference; the page is already in my head.

Then, let’s start with the real page (I work mainly digitally, trying to advance a bit faster than my usual slow pace): don´t forget to put the texts on a separate layer before drawing, you will save a lot of time and headaches.

Here I clean the preliminary drawing, without text:

Then inking, again on a separate layer:

Here is the ink layer after hiding the underlying scketch:

Then I add the plain color. The middle panels are in grayscale and with diffuse borders, we´re supposedly into Mark´s thoughts:

Then shadows…

… and ready for texts and balloons.

Ok, page finished. I send it to Ted (what patience you have!!) to try to look as if I am making some progress and to disguise the fact that there are still 120 more like this one to go. Yay!

“The Stringer” – How it all started.

“I have an idea for a new graphic novel (…). Any interest?”

And with these two simple questions, Ted put the poison back in me.

After publishing “The Year of Loving Dangerously” with Ted Rall in 2009, I fell in my usual state of “feeling-void-after-finishing-a-book”. “YOLD” had been a colossal effort -although a rewarding one- in terms of searching references and creating an appropriate graphic atmosphere. Being myself a maniac of documentation and historical coherence in the silliest details – a car seen in such and such a scene, a magazine cover, the inside of a subway car of NYC in 1984… – and with the level of detail with which Ted elaborates his scripts, the work was simply exhausting.

This “I have lost all my energies and skills” lasts usually for some months for me. But in this case, aggravated by personal trouble, it took around three years until, in February 2013, I received a message from Ted that rang a bell in my brain.

“I have an idea for a new graphic novel.

The book is about a washed up reporter/war correspondent who is largely out of work because newspapers and magazines are all going under and slashing their budgets and closing their foreign bureaus. (…) A wicked take on the state of the media, the collapse of the economy, the Internet, the nature of warfare, etc.

Any interest?”

Of course I was interested!!! So I climbed aboard, never imagining that I was embarking on a 6-year-152-pages-task.

First discussions were about what style would match better the story. I am always experimenting with new things, changes of style, attempts at evolution. At that time I was trying out a style that was not as realistic as “The Year of Loving Dangerously”…

Mmmm… Not this time, sorry!

… nor as dark as “Bluesman”.

No-no…

I was looking for something more schematic, that synthesised reality in order to, without losing realism, give it a more “cartoonish” touch that would fit better with Ted’s satirical-cynical writing.

Much better!

Ok, so we have the style… What about the main character? How should Mark look? He was a guy in his late 40s/early 50s, a little rattled by life but still in the mood, a bit cynical but still confident in himself and his ability. Someone just like Robert Redford in “All the President’s Men” or maybe Nick Nolte in “Under Fire”.


But there was something that didn’t fit the “schematic” style I was looking for. Also, it was necessary to reflect the passage of time – decades – as we told Mark’s story. An obvious recourse would be to make the protagonist’s hair greyer, so he needed to be dark-haired.

So I switched to a most modern look, dark hair and gray temples. Got it!

Discussing with Ted a cast if “The Stringer” were a movie, I see Ben Affleck as Mark. Ted’s betting more on George Clooney, who’s not bad either.

Anyway, Ben or George: if you’re reading this, know that we’re counting on you for the role of a lifetime 🙂

Thank you for reading. More to come on the creative process of “The Stringer” in the next days.

Fanatical’s New NBM True Crime Graphic Novel Bundle Now Available!

If you enjoy stories about mysterious murders and notorious criminals, Fanatical has launched a brand-new bundle of graphic novel eBooks that will get your detective taste buds tingling.

The leading digital retailer has launched the True Crime Graphic Novel Bundle – featuring up to 20 new-to-Fanatical eBooks across three tiers, starting from as little as $1 USD. The bundle features graphic novels from the critically-acclaimed NBM Publishing, America’s first publisher of graphic novels since 1976, with an array of stories based on well-known crimes and other fictional events that will send a chill down your spine.

With Tier One, you’ll get access to four eBooks including Faster Than a Speeding Bullet: The Rise of the Graphic Novel that contains the must-reads, milestones, most recent developments, and what to look for in the future of this exciting medium.

Connect the dots and discover who is behind a series of post-First World War murders in Terrible Axe-Man of New Orleans; follow the story of one of the great folk legends of the Wild West in True Death of Billy the Kid; and experience Rick Geary’s inimitable style as you explore three delectable murders in Treasury of Victorian Murder.

Choose Tier Two of the True Crime Graphic Novels Bundle and you’ll receive an additional six graphic novel eBooks. Look back through history with an all-encompassing variety of genres, including both fiction and nonfiction, with 101 Outstanding Graphic Novels; relive one of the most scandalous murders of the times with the  Reuben Award-nominated Madison Square Tragedy; witness a smoldering film actress turn into an intrigued investigator with Louise Brooks: Detective; and more!

Or opt for Tier Three and receive all 20 eBooks in this collection. Enjoy Rick Geary’s take on infamous serial killer Dr H. H. Holmes in Beast of Chicago; visualize one of the most famous assassinations of the Victorian era in Murder of Abraham Lincoln; and uncover the life of a 22-year-old woman and her ghastly murder in Black Dahlia – winner of the 2017 YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens, and Non-fiction Winner at the 71st Annual NCS Reuben Awards.

Enjoy these classic graphic novel eBooks and so much more with the exciting True Crime Graphic Novel Bundle now. All eBooks featured in this bundle are available in PDF format.

Remember, every product that you purchase in Fanatical bundles or across the Fanatical Store, is officially licensed. This means that the publishers of these fantastic products are rewarded for their efforts each and every time.

Welcome to The NBM Holiday Gift Guide

We’re proud to present several of are our most beautiful and best reviewed graphic novels of this year which can make great gifts for your loved ones.

ACT NOW AND GET A HOLIDAY SPECIAL 25% OFF!*

Just enter ‘Holiday’ (capital ‘H’!) in the coupon box.

The coupon is vaild on any and all titles on our site. *Promotion expires on 12/15.

Please allow up to 3 weeks in shipment for the cheapest shipping alternative.


Giant
By Mikaël

Giant is a stunning saga of uncommon folk in perilous times and one no lover of grand stories could possibly resist.”Now Read This

From French Canadian cartoonist Mikaël, Giant tells the story of the immigrants who built Rockefeller Center during the Great Depression in 1932.

The lead character is an Irish immigrant nicknamed “Giant”, working high above the New York skyline, who engages in a letter exchange with the wife of colleague who fell to his death, posing as him and sending money as he doesn’t have the courage to tell her the truth.



9×12, 120pp., full color HC, $24.99, ISBN 9781681122533, e: 9781681122540, $16.99

Previews


The Louvre Presents: Red Mother With Child
By Christian Lax

“An action-packed and splendidly drawn narrative.”Publishers Weekly

In Mali in Africa, a red Mother with Child, a 14th century African sculpture, is saved from the destructive madness of Islamists by Alou, a young honey hunter.

In the company of other migrants, sisters and brothers of misfortune, Alou goes all out to reach Europe. His goal and his obsession: entrust the precious statuette to the Louvre Museum!

An epic adventure, touching upon the burning worldwide issue of refugees and immigration, in the ever-expanding Louvre collection commissioning graphic novels from leading world artists to spin tales around the famous museum.

9×12, 144pp, full color HC, $27.99 US / $36.50 CAN; HC ISBN: 978168112257152799

Previews


Willie Nelson: A Graphic History
By T.J. Kirsch & Various

“A diverse crew of illustrators pool their talents on behalf of a singular artist.”Kirkus Reviews

Country music icon Willie Nelson is recognized all over the world for his music, philanthropy, and unmistakable look.

Since he was a child in Hill County, Texas, he has been writing and performing for adoring crowds. Though his mainstream success did not come until later in his life, he has been determined to take his unique sound and voice to the people even before he was a household name.

There have been tragedies, missteps, IRS troubles, good times and bad along the way, but Willie continues to shine his positive outlook and project his humble voice out into the world. In this graphic novel biography, all the chapters represent a different era of his life and struggles – each illustrated by a unique indie comics talent.

7 ½ x10, 88pp., B&W, HC, $16.99; ISBN 9781681122625; ebook: $11.99, ISBN 9781681122632

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The Louvre Collection: Leonardo 2
By Stéphane Levallois

“Bold and brilliantly realised blend of historic recreation and futuristic imagination.”Slings and Arrows

Planet Earth, engaged in an intergalactic conflict, owes its salvation to the clone of Leonardo da Vinci and to the rebirth of his genius.

Author Stéphane Levallois has created the fantastic universes of many of the big Hollywood blockbusters (Alien, King Kong: Skull Island, Harry Potter and many others). The result of two years of elaboration and work, this space opera exemplifies his talent in two areas that he masters to perfection: the universe of science fiction and art.

To build his story and compose his boards, Levallois draws from the painted and drawn work of the Renaissance master, selecting a large number of drawings and paintings by Leonardo to represent the characters, vessels or even the architectures in his story. The grand scale result is stupefying as Leonardo’s everlasting visions are successfully projected into a stunning futuristic setting. A visual experience not to be missed, in a large format hardcover.

10×14, 96pp., color HC, $29.99 ISBN 9781681122649; ebook: $16.99, ISBN 9781681122656

Previews


The Rock & Roll Set

Here is a set of 3 tomes on great rock and roll bands! The bestselling comics bios of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Bob Marley are collected into one attractively banded set. Includes:

THE BEATLES IN COMIC
“A graphic adaptation of a story so well known that one’s first reaction is probably, ‘Does this need to exist?’ The answer is, yes, it does! Pithy commentary effectively condensing the band’s history, and trivia that should amuse even hardcore fans. A satisfying snack for children as well as adults.” – Huffington Post

Here’s the complete illustrated story of the Beatles from their formation, through the Beatlemania phenom all the way through their breakup. We see how they evolved along with and amplifying the uproar of the sixties, became politically and socially active and have achieved a lasting impact unparalleled in pop music. Chapters combine text and comics for complete information presented in a fun way.

THE ROLLING STONES IN COMICS
“Works nicely as a pocket history of Rock & Roll’s key band, but its narrative quirks and far-out art are what make it special.” Psychobabble

When the Rolling Stones hit the scene in the 60’s, it was to play Rhythm & Blues, nothing more. They are far from imagining that they are not just going to change music but also become the mouthpiece of a changing world. Sticking their tongue out at the establishment with their brilliant music and hard-hitting lyrics, they achieve planetary-wide success.

With Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in the lead, these rebels have become, over fifty years, not just music, but a whole attitude!

Through twenty-one stories in comics accompanied by biographical texts and a rich iconography, this book makes you relive, in a totally new way, the incredible epic of one of the biggest rock bands ever.

BOB MARLEY IN COMICS
“Without any doubt Bob Marley and comics fans will be very pleased.” Reggae Vibes

In the middle of a depressing youth in a ghetto of Kingston, Jamaica, Robert Nesta Marley sees only one way out: music. And that music will be what Jamaica made of rock and pop locally that had hardly been heard anywhere else: reggae!

It is Marley who brings the unmistakable beat of reggae to the entire world. From small stages in Jamaica, his partners of the Wailers accompany him all the way to the most fabulous world tours and adulation. Beyond a rocketing musical career, the most famous rasta wants to shake things up and proclaim all over his humanitarian and egalitarian values.

ISBN 9781681122618, $74.99; DIAMOND CODE: JUN201207

Previews

 

Happy Holidays from NBM Graphic Novels!

 

All New Sale Books Just Added

We’ve just added a number of books going on sale at $2.99 or $4.99!

These are books previously at $15 to $30 where we have extra stock we need to clear out before year’s end. Come take a look at the amazing bargains of beautiful graphic novels!

This includes such GNs as:

STREAK OF CHALK
Abelard
THE MERCENARY The Definitive Editions

And a whole bunch of Dungeon books:

DUNGEON: Twilight Vol.4

See the complete list here and get these while they last!

Eurotica Half Price Sale!

Now ALL of our EUROTICA catalog of sexy graphic novels by American and European artists is 50% OFF!

Use code E50 in the coupon box when ordering.

This sale ends by Thanksgiving!

Get the great work of:

  • Kevin Taylor (Girl powering her black magic)
  • Cornnell Clarke (Peanut Butter with wildly sexually free college girl Molly Fredrickson)
  • Quinn (his gorgeously painted Shadow & Light, beautifully erotic, extremely hot)
  • Hartmann (fully painted Barbarian Chicks & Demons)
  • Robert Edison Sandiford (3 volumes of black sensuality)
  • And many more!

We’d show you covers and art but we want to be discrete here… Come on over and let yourself be seduced…

You must be over 18.

Just enter coupon code E50 in the coupon box when ordering.

TAKE A LOOK

(free print offer not included)

Willie Nelson: A Graphic History Scribe T.J. Kirsch Talks School, Comics, Willie & More On New Podcast

Hello out there in blog land! If you’re reading this, chances are you’re interested in Willie Nelson: A Graphic History from NBM. Chances are also good that you’re maybe interested in the people that worked on the project. Well, today… is your lucky day! T.J. Kirsch ( that’s ME ) was recorded having a wonderful conversation about that project for the Vodka O’Clock Podcast this past week. Amber, the host of VOC, went in depth with T.J ( ME ) about his beginnings in comics, in secondary schooling, his experience as a literary agent, his previous book Pride Of The Decent Man ( NBM ), and more!

Click here and crank up your podcast listening device – whatever that may be – and take the journey. You’ll be enlightened, possibly distracted from doing those dishes, or that commute to that grocery store you love so much.