The Importance of Seeing It Through

I’ve illustrated only a few graphic novels. There are cartoonists that can produce an astonishing amount of pages every year. On the flipside there are cartoonists who take a decade to produce their magnum graphic novel opus. I’m not the fastest, but I’m also not the slowest. Speaking from experience, I’ll add that having a child can slow you down your productivity a bit. The most important thing to do when you’re working on a graphic novel is to simply finish it.

There was an interview in The Comics Journal years ago with Aaron Renier – I’m paraphrasing of course, but he was talking to a fellow cartoonist, the talented Craig Thompson. He was offering advice while Aaron struggled with his debut graphic novel, Spiral-Bound.

I can tell you from experience, It’s difficult, grueling and daunting. The sheer amount of work is overwhelming. Craig Thompson worked on many comics that he abandoned before finishing his breakthrough, Goodbye, Chunky Rice. He realized that the most important part is to finish things. You have to see it through. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. There may be weeks where you get nothing done, or days you lose because you realize the storytelling didn’t make sense. Even though you may like the drawing itself, you’ve gotta throw out the page and start over.

To have a finished book, to hold it in your hands – it’s like crossing that finish line. You, can’t get there, however, if you don’t stick with it. If you’re a flake, if you don’t commit to the work, you can never finish. You simply have to chug along, do the work. See it through.

To find out more about my new book, PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, including how to order a copy, go here.

 

Revisiting Older Work

It’s a common occurrence for illustrators to be uninspired. Some call it Artist’s Block, some refer to it as a rut. These are all describing a similar situation. From experience, I can tell you it’s not fun.

I’ve gone for extended periods thinking what little work I’ve created is terrible, and well beneath the standards I’ve set.

Comparing your work to others’ is something that only makes it worse. “I’ll never be as good as _______!”

There’s one thing I’ve found that can provide quite a boost in self esteem, and that’s revisiting and re-creating old artwork.

Surely I’m better than my 20-year-old self at this point.

Every once in a while, I’ve been taking old pieces of mine from my art school days ( give or take a few years ), and redrawing them. I have a folder on my desktop computer with older files I like to revisit, and it’s not difficult to find awkward art that could benefit from some tweaking. It’s great for self-esteem, and generally a lot of fun. It’s my favorite way to break out of any kind of funk or drawing rut.

Here are a few examples…

Redraw

redraw 2

redraw 3

redraw 4

Thanks for reading!

To find out more about my upcoming graphic novel, PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, go here.

 

Cartooning Influences

One of the most asked questions cartoonists receive during interviews is a fairly obvious one.

Who are your influences?”

Any creative person you talk to has more than a few artists who they look to for guidance and inspiration. When you’re stuck in a rut artistically/creatively, it certainly helps to go back to old favorites and look at some of your favorites with fresh eyes. I always find new techniques and approaches I may have not caught in previous readings.

I have many cartooning heroes, but a few I always go back to are Daniel Clowes, Gilbert Hernandez and Chester Brown.

influences

Not only does their artwork speak to me, but each of their narrative voices are so clear, distinctive, personal and specific. I discovered David Boring and Louis Riel around the same time, around 2000-2001. I was just beginning art school and the medium of comics was opening up a whole new world for me. I’m still trying to make work worthy of the impression those books left on me.

I’ve sat down and studied their work so often, you’d think I was trying to absorb their cartooning powers through osmosis.

When working on books, there have even been times where I would have to hide their books from myself for fear of swiping something unconsciously, or ‘aping’ their style too much.

I think a lot of illustrators go through something similar with their influences.

Of course I’d be kidding myself I said the Kuberts weren’t an influence on me as well, having gone through their school and seen them create firsthand. Adam, Andy and Joe always amazed my classmates and I with their work ethic and command of the craft.

It’s pretty amazing how much you can retain and recall from studying others’ work. It all goes into a huge melting pot, through your own brain, and onto the page.

To find out more about my new graphic novel PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, go here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Story of Lee volume 3

I’ve officially started writing the script for volume three of our book with NBM

The Story of Lee.

Let’s see what happens to Matt and Lee. Will they stay together or split? Will Lee stay in Britain or go back to Hong Kong?  How about Uncle Jun?

Who knows?

No one, yet.

Not even me!

Meanwhile, there are a few copies of the special Story of Lee banded set left. Not many as its sold well.

This is a good deal, with volume 1 and volume 2 of the book packaged together with a specially printed band (or ‘obi’ as they called in Japan). And its $4 cheaper to buy this banded set of the two volumes.

Get your copy here:

http://www.nbmpub.com/comicslit/storyoflee/storyofllee_home.html

SOL banded july 2017

 

Creating Characters For PRIDE.

When creating character designs for PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, I tried to take inspiration from life. This was after all, a narrative grounded in reality, albeit a fictional one – and there is inspiration everywhere. Why do some people catch your eye more than others? It could be what clothes they wear, or a certain shape of their nose, or the way they walk. There are truly interesting and, frankly sometimes odd looking people lurking everywhere, if you’re paying attention. Thinking about these elements in terms of characters can lead to more interesting and full backstories.

Those same features that look odd or distinctive in real life translate very well to comic books. Somehow the simple comic iconograghy and spare ink lines render them less severe. I’m not sure why, exactly. I suppose one extreme example would be a Dick Tracy comic strip villian. They don’t look too threatening when drawn in a tiny comic panel with india ink, but take one of those designs, to scale, and put in on a person in real life? People would be running and screaming.

Here are quick sketches my two main characters, Andrew and Julie, in a few step by step process shots.

For more information on PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN, click here.

 

Andy sketch

Julie sketch

Pride Of The Decent Man: Casting Call

If you’re a cartoonist around my age, chances are you also grew up reading Wizard Magazine. Their ‘top ten hottest’ writers and artists lists were always fun to see for us aspiring comic creators. Another memorable regular feature was their fantasy casting of possible comic book movies, ‘Casting Call.’ Of course, no one thought at the time we’d be in a deluge of comics-based movies and TV shows twenty years later.

So…In the spirit of Wizard Magazine, and a few totally 90’s magazine layout choices, here are a few casting choices I’ve made for a PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN film! With suggestions from friends and these new things called Google and IMDB, I think we’ve got some strong choices here. Realistically, any one of the salaries from these actors would eclipse the budget of a film of this size, but hey, this is a fantasy after all. Call me, Hollywood.

Oh, and to find out more about Pride Of The Decent Man, my new graphic novel from NBM, go here!

PRIDE CASTING CALL

Inspiring PRIDE

 

“Where did the inspiration for PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN come from?”

I’ve gotten this question quite a bit since I started working on it.

I would say it came primarily out of wanting to tell a small scale, human story. Ask a lot of cartoonists why they make the books they make, and you’ll hear the same answer over and over – they make the books they would like to see in the world. They make the books they want to read.

Many of my favorite films have the element of basic human struggles – relationships, work, poverty… so it’s not surprising to me that the story I’ve ended up telling contained some of these elements.

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I love the film American Beauty, and A lesser known independent film called Wendy And Lucy. Both feature small town life, and characters who are desperately trying to find their place in the world.

My favorite novels and comics also share these qualities. Catcher In The Rye, David Boring, Perks Of Being A Wallfower…

PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN is simply my first longform attempt to tell a story/comic I’d want to read.

For information on how to order PRIDE, go here.

PRIDE OF THE DECENT MAN is also in the Previews catalog in your favorite local comic shop this month. Tell them to order with code JUL172009.