Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Crogan's March is here!

I opened my mailbox today, and guess what I found? 

 The book came out looking really beautiful, thanks to Keith's excellent design and Oni's high production values.  Pick it up or order it, if you find yourself so inclined! Also, though my website's complete overhaul must wait until I'm back at school and thus able to get help with formatting problems that I'm having, the store WILL be up and going January 1st, with one item - something unique and hopefully lots of fun.  So check back! * Edit: Just found out that Oni Press has a few in-house copies immediately available from the website. Not sure whether Amazon's are shipping yet, or if they're on shelves, but if you want one guaranteed to you within the next few days, it's the way to go.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Sakai/Schweizer Interview Free to Read Online

Hey, guys! As part of the Comics Journal's new changing-to-a-web-format launch, a number of the interviews from the 300th issue are being posted for free in their entireity. I mentioned the one that I did with Stan Sakai earlier; now it's up. Read it here.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pencils and one great sweater

A couple of pencils from the ten-page story I'm doing for the Crogan's Vengeance / Salt Water Taffy Free Comic Book Day comic.

 This first page was an attempt to try and go back to the style of pencilling I did with Crogan's Vengeance - small fixed-weight pen drawings with spotted blacks. I actually did this about a third smaller than I did with Vengeance, drawing it at about 4" tall. After doing the second page, and realizing that my gutters were actually twice as wide (working this small it was hard to guage) and that I couldn't accurately estimate how big my letters were going to be when I tightened them up, I decided to go back to the NEW way. Here's the third page:

 This is the method I used on Crogan's March - a 4" x 6" template in which I used blue pencil. This has a downside - it's hard for me to clearly envision my black-and-white ratio, but the benefits outweigh that. My hope is that I've had enough practice over-analyzing the black/white composition thing and that now a kind of developed instinct will carry me through. In the final version of this page, the bottom panel has actually grown a little taller to include the top of the pulley-thing, and the row above has gotten shorter - it was only as tall as it was in order to fit in young David Crogan's dialogue in that right-hand panel, and in measuring it out I found that it required less space than I originally thought. In other news, I found my old J. Peterman "Nantucket Sweater" that I stole from my dad when I first went off to college. He had worn it for years and years before THAT, and for the past couple it had somehow ended up in a storage box. I found it when we were unpacking, and I've worn it pretty much every day since. It's ridiculously comfortable. Peterman clothes last decades; there's not a hole or fray in sight, and I am REALLY hard on clothing. The fact that it survived my undergrad living and a Europe trek is a testament to its stability. So if you're looking for the world's greatest sweater, this one gets my vote, and it pops up in their catalog every few years, so keep your eyes peeled.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The sketches I do when I can't do work

Sorry for the slowness in keeping this up - I'd resolved to be more regular, but circumstances threw a kink in my intentions pretty quick. We had a large plumbing problem (really large, necessitating a nine-foot-deep, seventy-foot-long trench to be dug through our yard, which cost us the entirety of what I'm getting as an advance on the new book, and THEN some) that flooded our garage and storage area, meaning that everything was moved into the studio for the week it took to fix everything. Our first major issue with home-ownership, but one that will hopefully negate any major plumbing issues for the next ten years. Anyway, while I couldn't get much done in the way of work, I DID do a lot of sketches upstairs. Here they are, somewhat annotated: 

Professor Moriarty, with his rounded back and big head. After I was finished, I realized he looked a lot like Adam Schiff, the old D.A. on Law & Order, though that might be the expression of impatience with Jack McCoy's crazy courtroom antics.

A presumably early design for a character in the fourth Crogan Adventure book. In the post-Arnold age, most strongmen are depicted with strongly defined musculature, but real strongmen (think the guys who pull semi trucks) tend to be just a big mass with a low center of gravity. I like the idea of my big strongman character being somewhat shorter than most of the major characters, just because it's something you rarely if ever see. 

Another character from the fourth book, the captain of the tramp steamer, as yet unnamed. The ship, not the captain. Though she doesn't have a name yet, either.

Drawing of a character for a Star Wars comic I've been kicking around - who knows if it'll ever see the light of day, but anyway... he's blue.
Anne of Green Gables - one of my wife's favorite book series, and movies. She roped me into watching it a few years ago, and I loved 'em.
Another 4x6" warmup drawing. No story to this one, just a guy on a boat.
Since my work is almost exclusively intended for pure black and white (i.e. no gray), I generally do all of my sketches and for-practice drawings in pure black and white, too. But I've been going over Guy Davis's sketchbooks a lot lately, and love how his gray marker work looks, so I've been toying with them from time to time. This drawing was done a little bigger than usual, about 10" square. My hands are generally too big for most revolver handles, and I have an unconscious habit of extending my pinkie finger when holding one, as if I were drinking tea or something. So I drew this guy doing that.
Captain Nemo. I think in Mysterious Island he said something about his wife and kid dying in a bombardment by the British, or something - it's been a long time since I read it. I don't remember whether he was on hand or not, but I gave him a few bombardment scars, just in case. My white ink was still packed and under loads of stuff when I drew this, otherwise I'd have drawn in some bubbles in that window.
Nemo put me on a Victorian Science Fiction kick for the rest of the evening, so I did this guy, some sort of military guy patrolling a British colony on Mars, complete with ray-gun (plus I got to draw another pith helmet)...
...plus this guy, a Martian. I think the Edgar Rice Burroughs martians had four arms and tusks, so here ya go. I dressed him kind of like a 1930s Mongolian with a metal space-vest. That's it! The plumbing problem is fixed, and the studio is operating at about 65% efficiency (lots of stuff still packed and stacked), but I'm working on a short Crogan's story for free comic book day. I'll post some thumbs sometime over the next couple of days.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Baby Penelope

Though I try to keep the blog mostly about comics-related stuff, I have been asked by a lot of people to see pictures of Penny, and as I don't have a Facebook or anything like that I've not been able to show her off. So for those who are only here to see new pages, please forgive this foray into personal life... for everyone else, here's little Penelope Schweizer.

 Nicole Dabbs (wife of Resurrection and Holiday artist Doug Dabbs) is an EXCELLENT photographer, and came by to do one-week pictures. She's got a bunch on her blog, as well as a slideshow. She also did a Maternity photo shoot with us a couple of weeks before she took these. So if you've an inclination to see what me, the missus, or the baby looks like, these'll give you an idea. I've been working on a comission piece for a while, I should have it up in the next few days.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Crogan's Vengeance makes the "Maverick" list

I found out a couple of days ago that Crogan's Vengeance made the 2010 Maverick Reading List, which is the Texas Library Association's Graphic Novel list - the list is broken into categories of age range (6-8, high school, and adult), and Vengeance is #9 for the middle school category. This is a big deal to me - not only does Texas have more libraries than any other state in the country (if the knowledge gleamed from my undergraduate library science class is still accurate), but it's also a very well-respected bunch, and to be picked for the list is a real honor to me. Thanks to everyone involved in the selection!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Comics Journal #300 out now

 The Comics Journal's big 300th issue special is out now (or will be this week), so pick it up! This issue is a collection of interviews - an "established, influential creator" (Art Spiegelman, Dave Gibbons, Jaime Hernandez, David Mazzuchelli, etc) talks with a "rising star" (Matt Fraction, Dash Shaw, Sammy Harkham, Frank Quitely, etc) about the differences in their approach to comics as a result of the generational shifts and advantages. I was lucky enough to be asked to do a back-and-forth with Stan Sakai, one of my all-time favorite cartoonists. Stan is genuinely one of the nicest, supportive, and patient people that I've ever met, and it was a real pleasure getting to be put in a situation where I could ask a lot of nit-picky questions that I'd otherwise never do. It's a fascinating interview if you're familiar with Stan's work, and if you're not, it's a great place to get a general idea as to what he's all about. Plus, there's some stuff about me, if you're interested. The interview runs for 16 pages, and is found from pages 220-235. The whole issue is a fascinating read. If you're at all familiar with comics, you'll know that these are some of the most respected folks in the medium, and to get to have these great Hitchcock/Truffaut style segments is a real treat for any comics scholar. You can pick it up at your local comics store, at Barnes and Noble, on Amazon, etc.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Atlanta Comic Arts Forum

Comic Book Resources/Robot 6 has a write up on SCAD-Atlanta's recent Comics Art Forum, with a few quotes from yours truly. Give it a read!

Monday, November 16, 2009


Well, in the space of a week, I finished the book, bought a house, and had a baby. Woof! It's also the last week of classes, so grading is fierce (my scripting class has seventeen students, each of whom is doing a 28-page script), and we're moving this weekend. By Thanksgiving, I expect things will start to level out, but until then I am as swamped with life as I've ever been. Liz and the baby are both doing great. Here are some sketches I've done over the last few days, mostly in preperation for the fourth Crogan book, which is going to take place in Warlord-Era China - I started playing with gray marker again, something I've not done in quite a while. 


 Some crew designs, including my rough plan for Daniel Crogan's Tramp Steamer captain (top), along with a Fu Manchu type fella in the bottom corner. He'll not be in the book, but all the drawings I've been doing of the Green Gang and other Chinese 1920s stuff gave me a hankering to draw him, too. Also, here's the rough thumbnail for a larger drawing I hope to do once I'm all moved in and my other art obligations are finished:

 Crogan's March has gone to press! It should be available at select stores at the end of December, and everywhere shortly after (if I'm not mistaken - I often don't know what I'm talking about).

Saturday, November 7, 2009

New excuse for missing deadlines!

 Penelope Anne Schweizer was born Friday at 9:36 am. She's 1'8 tall, 7 pounds 5 ounces, and she looks around a lot. Yay!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

'Crogan's March' is FINISHED!

Aaaah! The second book is finally DONE.

 After a 48-hour long final stretch (with a two-hour nap break squeezed in), Crogan's March is completely finished – all of the pages checked and rechecked for artistic clarity and spelling, framing sequence reworked at the last second because the original version was a little heavy-handed, cover notes sent, mock-up for volume 3 finished, thanks and dedication and acknowledgments all done… Woof! I finished up around 4:30 am Friday night/Saturday morning. I can’t begin to express how much of a relief it is to be finished, especially with all the other stuff going on in life. I loved working on the book from start to finish, don’t get me wrong, but having the Oct 31 deadline hanging over me was very stressful. Luckily, it’s all done – I can focus on teaching for the next three weeks, finish a commission I’ve had on hold for a while, and spend time with my wife and (in a few days) daughter. I’ll have other projects that I’ll be working on, but none with the madcap ferocity that this one required… at least not for a few months. So keep your eyes peeled for the book, which is due out at the end of December!

Monday, October 26, 2009


Each quarter I teach a class on Character & Environment Design for the Animation Department, and each time I try to do a demo maquette to show how to approach armature, base sculpting, detail sculpting & texture, painting, etc. This time around, seeing as Halloween is rapidly approaching, I thought I'd try my hand at H.P. Lovecraft's famous slumbering monster, Cthulhu, an ancient evil creature that waits patiently in a sunken Cyclopeon city deep beneath the sea for his chance to rise and destroy humanity. Click on any of these to bring up a bigger version of the picture in a new window.

 One of the things that always bugs me is that, with rare exception, he's always depicted exactly the same. Human body, tentacles coming out from where his mouth would be, humanish hands with pointy fingernails, etc. He never looks remotely as inhuman as I expect from the writing.

 He's described as HAVING tentacles - a cephalopod-inspired head, I think the prose says - and "vaguely anthropoid shape," meaning, to me, that he walks upright and has four appendages, nothing more. I wanted to distance this design as much from human while keeping to that basic idea as possible.

 He's described as having claws - flabby claws, actually - so rather than the human-hand-with-claws-on-it approach, I decided to go with more of a vaguely crab-based approach.

 I saw a gaming miniature of the character once with a lot of eyes, which was one feature that I wanted to keep. Oh, standing next to the monster, which is, I guess you might say, a "waterline" model, seeing as he's half-submerged, is a little Corto Maltese figure for scale. He's about seven inches tall, I'd guess, and about ten inches wide.

 I wanted to show a mouth, and I did my best to make it as gross as possible. I didn't have any balsa when I was doing the initial sculpt, so I crudely made the teeth from wooden coffee-stirrers that I cut into triangles with wire-cutters.

 He's described as being green, which I decided to ignore - I thought that, given his crab-like tendencies, I'd go with an orange more invocative of crabs, at least the type one sees in restaurants. He also is supposed to have small, mebranous wings, but I liked his back so much as he was coming along that I decided to ignore that little fact, too. He's painted with an assortment of those 44-cent Apple Barrell craft acrylics.

 I painted the base to look like water. I'd thought about scuplting bursting waves, but decided agaist it. If my imagination ca't conjure up a few ripples, then I've no business making stories. Anyway, this was an in-class-only project, so it took longer than it otherwise might, but, as I made clear last time, all of my outside-of-class time is being spent finishing Crogan's March. I'm hoping to have the entire thing inked by Tuesday night, and to have all my touch-ups finished by Saturday.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Main story finished, framing sequence getting there...

I've been internet absentia for a while now, for pretty good reason - I've been trying extremely hard to finish Crogan's March by the end of October, because 1.That's the latest it can go to press and still hit shelves by year's end, 2. We're closing on a house on the 30th, and 3. My daughter is due to be born the following Wednesday, and I won't be much inclined to hole up in the studio once that happens. So the next week is likely to be one of the more overwhelming, so I've been teaching, prepping lessons and grading, and then using every spare second (there are so few these days) to try and knock this out. The "story" part - the section in the middle, focusing on the Legionnaire - was expected to clock in around 144 pages, but it grew to 199. As of yesterday, those 199 are finished. I am inking the opening framing sequence today (six pages), before and after our Comics Art Forum (more on that later), and I'll be doing the last three pages tomorrow, though I've still got some dialogue editing to do before penciling those. Once these are done, I have to go in and fix the numerous bolds in the first third of the book - I changed how I started making them, and need to go back and retroactively change the earlier versions - as well as a few artistic changes throughout. Nothing monumental, though - I feel confident I can finish in time. Once the book is done, I'll have more time to update this blog - I've got a number of news things to post.

Above: A panel from near the end.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

SPX Report

Okay. It's been a while since I last posted, due to a crazy schedule dominated by teaching duties, a schedule which currently permits little time for working on pages and NO time for updating my blog. Before getting back to normal, or as normal as can be expected during October, easily my most hectic month of the year, I thought I'd take a few seconds while scanning pencils to write a bit about my recent trip to Washington D.C.'s Small Press Expo.

 My editor, James Lucas Jones, standing with saintly patience considering he expected me to have the book finished by this weekend, which it is not This was the best SPX I've been to yet. The amount of foot traffic seems to have increased a LOT from previous years, which is nice. I changed up my usual buying strategy - in the past, I would sit at the table and sell until the end of the last day, then run frantically around during the show's last hour or so, trying to buy what books and mini-comics seemed my taste. This year, though, I was dropping off an order with a comic shop within minutes of arriving in DC, and as such had a clear idea as to what my profit margin already was. Knowing I wasn't going to go into the red, I did my shopping first thing, taking my time, and walking around the show at a leisurely pace. I got lots and lots of great stuff, and feel like I had a chance to look at everything I wanted.

 There were some things I had on my list of things to look for going in. There were two cartoonists in particular whose work I've developed a fondness for recently who were attending, and I wanted to pick up whatever they had on hand. The first, Kate Beaton, only had one book, which I snatched up. We all felt bad for her, in that her overwhelming popularity seemed to keep her from being able to have the sort of relaxed atmosphere most of us tend to enjoy about SPX, as she had a line around her table pretty much the whole time. That may have been great for her - it's of course nice to have your work appreciated - it just seems that she went from zero to superstar without ever having that comfortable getting-acclimated period. The second was Corinne Mucha, whose work I first encountered in the tenth issue of the consistently excellent Papercutter anthology.

 Greg Means, publisher of Papercutter Mucha's comic was one of my favorites last year, and after getting a copy of the Ghost Comics anthology and being delighted by her contribution I decided to grab up whatever she had there. I got quite a few excellent minis and one book, and have been enjoying them a great deal. By coincidence, another anthology I got at the show, Wide Awake Press's Ancient Age, had yet ANOTHER Mucha story. She's quickly become one of my favorite new cartoonists, and I'm devouring her comics with joy and enthusiasm. Sitting next to Mucha was a cartoonist with whose work I was entirely unfamiliar, but am glad that I picked up - Sam Sharpe. He had two straight-forward mini-comics - one of which, Return Me To The Sea, was a beautifully drawn, excellently told story (I've yet to read the other) - and a couple of collections of hysterical gag strips. I also bought a dvd from him, something I NEVER do at a comic show, because A. it was about WWI pilots, and B. the special effects, as showcased on the back, seem to be obviously models, and I'm a sucker for intentional artifice. Whether or not that's how it's played, I've yet to see, but look forward to having some time to give it a watch. I was also impressed by the new books at the One Percent Press Table. My only disappointment with the 1PP table is that I'm rarely surprised anymore by the outstanding quality of both the comics they've made and the excellent production values implemented in printing those comics. Most times, when I find something as spectacular as what I find there, I flip out, and consider the show a success, then and there. But I expect that degree of excellence from 1PP, and, while I'm never disappointed, I also am rarely filled with elation upon leaving them, having found something completely unexpected. Anyway, the 1PP books I got this year were (as usual) some of the best books at the show, including a great 3-comic set by James Hindle, a formalist Galleon story from Alexis Fredrick-Frost, a new color piece by Joseph Lampbert, another fun action piece by J.P. Coovert, and a wonderful anthology including all four cartoonists, featuring perhaps my favorite Frederick-Frost story to date. I had a lot of time to visit folks - Savannah friends and Oni friends getting the brunt of my company - and having a great time, all around. I picked up a lot of other great books, including Beard-themed books like Lumberjack! and Pranas Naujukitus's excellent Beard. James, Cory Casoni, and I went to the Smithsonian. A group of about 20 of us went to my yearly favorite restaurant, an Asian buffet that required a long, wet trudge through the pouring rain. And a great train ride, there and back! I'm gonna wrap this up, but expect Crogan's March updates soon. Thanks to everyone there for making this such a great trip!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lost in the Dark

Well, I kept up a good pace, but this last week and a half has seen page output fall from a steady 2-3 finished pages a day to almost nothing. The book festival stopped me up, and then I spent all last week preparing for this quarter's classes. I had really wanted to finish up over summer, but now it's back to juggling. Bleh. Anyway, here's an image from the last long sequence of the book, which takes place in a cave.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Decatur Book Festival in One Week

One of the real treasures of Atlanta's cultural offerings is the annual Decatur Book Festival, held in downtown Decatur. It's the largest independent book festival in the country, with hundreds of authors, illustrators, publishers, and readers reveling in all things print. The folks in charge are also very comics-friendly, usually bringing in a number of cartoonists to do workshops, lectures, and panel discussions.

It's also completely free.

Below is a chronological schedule of the comic-related events going on at this year's DBF. I strongly recommend any SCAD comics students in the area to take advantage of these opportunities. Though any of you are (of course) welcome at my solo workshop, if you're only to able to come for one day, or otherwise need to prioritize your time, then please attend the workshops and talks given by someone who is NOT your regular professor; you've got me year-round, so be sure to take full advantage of the folks with whom you have less proximity.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Writer’s Workshop: Creating the Graphic Novel
Chris Schweizer (Crogan’s Vengeance)
SCAD instructor and cartoonist Chris Schweizer discusses approaches to creating a graphic novel, from planning to execution, including character design, layout, and storytelling. Agnes Scott Campus, Buttrick Hall room 219
Friday, September 4 @ 4pm

Minicomics Masterpieces
Eleanor Davis (Stinky, Secret Science Alliance), Chris Schweizer (Crogan’s Vengeance) Drew Weing (Set to Sea, The Adventures of Wulf and Merl), Joey Weiser (The Ride Home, Tales of Unusual Circumstance), Kevin Burkhalter (Kevin Days a Week), Jarrett Williams (Lunar Boy, SuperPro K.O.!), and Allen Spetnagel (Dr. Eisenbart)
Think drawing and assembling your own comics to amuse your family and friends doesn't count as making "real" comics? Think again friends! Come hear these mini-comics masters discussing the highs and lows of the mini-comics world, and give you some tips on your own masterpieces!
Saturday, September 5 @ Noon

Art Comics
Brian Ralph (Cave-In, Daybreak), Eleanor Davis (Secret Science Alliance)
A conversation between two of art comics' most versatile cartoonists about creating graphic novels and art for kids and adults.
Saturday, September 5 @ 1:45

Davis, Krosoczka, Vernon
Eleanor Davis (Stinky, Secret Science Alliance), Jarrett Krosoczka (LunchLady), Ursula Vernon (Digger)
Three cartoonists discuss their current works.
Saturday, September 5 @ 4:00

All Hail the Lunch Lady
Jarrett Krosoczka
Award-winning published author/illustrator Krosoczka will read from and discuss his latest work
Saturday, September 5 @ 5:00

Fear of a Black Marker: Race, Humor, Politics, & Cartooning
Keith Knight (The K Chronicles, the Knight Life)
Join Harvey Award-winning cartoonist Keith Knight as he presents his world-famous slideshow tackling race, censorship, politics and the media. A frequent contributor to Salon.com, Funny Times, MAD magazine and daily newspapers nationwide, Knight's work is guaranteed to make you laugh, cringe, gasp, and most of all, THINK!!
Sunday, September 6 @ Noon

The location of the book festival is immediately outside the Decatur MARTA station, on the East train line. It takes anywhere from 20-40 minutes to get there from Art Center Station.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Method Cartooning = Scenes Like This

FYI, doing this doesn't cut it. 

 Still plugging along. Today was a significantly less productive day than I've BEEN having (too distracted), but I still filled my daily quota.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Working out the details

As I get further and further into the book, I have less and less plot detail from which to work. This is intentional; the beginning MUST have certain elements in order to set up what will happen later. But, while this leads to a freedom of pacing, some good spontaneity of action, etc, it presents me with occasional problems when I get to bits in my outline that say things like "Crogan escapes from being chained to the post." That's a lot more easily thought of than executed. My protagonists, while in possession of decent athleticism, are hardly Cirque du Soleil material, so they can't do anything that a regular person wouldn't do... In these situations, I sometimes have to put myself in whatever situation they are in physically in order to figure out the logistics of how the scene will play out.

 Luckily, my wife is a patient and kind assistant when it comes to these matters, and is kind enough to be around in case I, say, break my arms or something. She also snaps reference shots! Where would I be without her? Anyway, now I know how he escapes! Just a little behind-the-scenes-process stuff, if anyone's interested.

New Panel

Is Pete Crogan angry because I haven't posted like ANYTHING lately?

 Could be! Sorry, I'm on the internet a grand total of 10 minutes a day lately, as I'm (as has previously been mentioned, many times) doing nothing but working on the book. I used to at least ride my bike to Java Monkey to do my thumbnails, so I'd get SOME exercise, but I haven't done that since Liz got back from Kentucky. Anyway, the book's coming along well and sort-of-on-schedule(?); so long as I don't let up I should be finished with the main story by the Decatur Book Festival (more on that next week) and with the framing sequence by the time classes start back.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Longest Day(s)

Liz pointed out that I now have 35-hour days. I wake up, work for about ten hours, take an hour nap, then work another ten-fifteen, sleep for eight, and repeat. Because of this, I have no concept of when things have or will happen, but I'm getting work done. The fact that Liz has been out of town this week makes the highly productive but peculiar schedule possible; she gets back on Sunday, so I don't know how things'll work then. Here's a panel: 

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Entre le Fort

Here's a couple of pages from the current scene, where the Legion arrives at Fort Mayne.  Sorry they're small, but these blog sites cap width at 400 pixels.  My solution for dusk turning to night was this feathering with stars thing.

More to come!  I'm doing kind of okay with the however-many-per-week thing... I've GOTTA be... and I'm needing to do only fifteen pages a week (roughly) instead of twenty.  Not having the slightest idea as to how long the book actually is going to BE, I'm sort of guessing, but even so...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Drawn on the Plane!

And here's the aforementioned drawing by Stan, which was the best way to start the weekend imaginable: