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.