Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Back from Portland

I'm back from Portland, Oregon, where I've spent the last two weeks! As part of my MFA requirements, I needed a field internship, and the good folks at Oni Press (publishers of my forthcoming graphic novel series) allowed me to do it with them.

I stayed with Oni editor-in-chief James Lucas Jones and his family, and they were so hospitable, really making me feel like family the whole time I was there. Jen is a great cook, so I ate like a king the whole time.

A breakdown of what I did there:

• Helped out (and ransacked a bunch of books) from the Oni Office

Here's James (in the back) and Randy (in the front), doing their editorial duty

• Played a lot with Zadie, who, at five, is the youngest member of the Jones household

• I spent a couple of afternoons catching up on Crogan's Vengeance at Periscope Studios, where Jeff Parker, Colleen Coover, and a host of other remarkable comic-folk do their thing. It was great - reference books everywhere, shop talk, food carts across the street, etc.

A shot of the studio

Jeff and Colleen

Ron hard at work

• I got a tour of the
Dark Horse offices. Big staff and a fancy building, and with a statue of Usagi at the reception's desk... if that doesn't put you in good spirits, well, then you probably shouldn't be there.

• I flatted a bunch of pages for the "Jumper" graphic novel, to aid in the coloring process

• I spent almost two days at Powell's, a used bookstore the size of a city block and perhaps my favorite store on Earth

• Read a BUNCH of graphic novels. I'm pretty bad about keeping up-to-date, but I read a bunch of James' books (their house is stacked with 'em) - here's a partial list of what I can remember:
American Born Chinese, Black Diamond Detective Agency, the Plain Janes, CCS's Houdini, the Salon, Tales from the Farm (Oh, I saw Brett and Leigh at Top Shelf, too), The Maxx vol. VI: Friends of Maxx, The Three Paradoxes, Fox Bunny Funnies, Vampire Loves, Salamander Dreams, Garage Band, and my hands-down-gotta-get-a-copy-for-myself-favorite, Sam Hiti's Tiempos Finales. I've only seen Hiti's drawings, never his comics (remember, I never know anything until well after everyone else knows it). GET THIS BOOK (the big orange version). Just wait for me to get it first.

• Did the "First Thursday" gallery hop with Joe, the Oni Man Upstairs

• Went to a Hanukkah party at Greg Rucka's and Jen Van Meter's. Greg has the coolest basement studio EVER. EVER. Plus the food was really good, and Jen took the time to explain to me the symbolic meanings of the foods prepared (again, SO good)

• I got back in time for my 27th birthday! That's right, I'm 27. Out of the mid-twenties, and into the late twenties. Woo! I got a drill (to customize my drawing table), a copy of George MacDonald Fraser's WWII Burmese memoirs, Flight of the Conchords, volume 1 of Young Indiana Jones, a bathroom scale, a ledger, and a Christmas shirt! What a haul.

Also, upon returning, I discovered that my big inkjet printer (on which I print my pencils in blue line) no longer works. So I've been at a semi-standstill, and have used the time to relax and watch a couple of those Young Indiana Jones episodes. While watching, I took the time to customize and paint a few miniature soldiers, shown here next to my pocket-knife for scale (these are REALLY tiny):

I turned some WWI Ottoman machine gunners into British Empire-era Aphgan Hillfolk with a machine gun; turned a couple of Wellington's staff members into Arab riders, and turned an Ancients Elephant into an Empire-era hunting elephant, complete with rider (slightly modified Zulu Wars Officer). I made all the elephant back accoutrements from scratch - it was a lot of fun.

I want to make a few miniature dioramas, but I've neither the space or the time, currently, but I am going to build a foreign legion fort as a tool for staging scenes in the next Crogan's book, so I'll have to make time for that. Ha!

This is one of my non-comic related nerdy hobbies, of which I have quite a few.

Anyway, I'm going to be updating my website considerably sometime in the extremely near future... keep an eye on the comics page for complete stories, including The Hero, Regina Rich, Middle School Detective, and maybe a couple of others, plus lots of new illustrations, posters, etc.

Oh, and since I mentioned Young Indiana Jones before, I want to gripe for a second. Once again, George Lucas has stuck his clumsy revisionist hands into something that doesn't need fixing. The episodes no longer have the intros with George Hall playing elderly Indiana; instead, there's a condescending narration by some overly enthusiastic kid purporting to be young Indy -- the first episode's intro seemed so bad that I thought "Man, was it really this bad? I remembered it being better," which luckily it was once we got past the ever-present Lucas tampering. Why can't you leave well-enough alone, George Lucas? Why do you have to make wonderful things and then ruin them later? Luckily, this one isn't ruined beyond repair, just a little clumsy at the beginning. I expect that the Harrison Ford intro (which used to be called "the Mystery of the Blues," not sure if it still is) is also gone. Oh, well. Granted, the kid actors in the old intros are eye-goungingly bad, but it's still better than the new version.

I'm also not a fan of the chronological setup, instead of the way-they-were-aired setup; the second part of the "curse of the jackal (now called "my first adventure" - barf) is gonna be some ten-fifteen episodes later, I'd reckon. So shame on Lucasfilm for AGAIN changing things better left alone; that said, I am EXTREMELY glad that these are once more available.


Shawn Crystal said...

Birthday? When? Happy B Day!
See ya Thursday. Back to penciling.

nolan woodard said...

Powell's rocks! My old office was just two blocks away from there and Ringlers, the bar I told you to eat lunch at, is just three blocks from there! That's my old stomping ground! Glad you had fun and enjoyed yourself and I've got an Andrew Jackson DVD for you. Happy Birthday!