Sunday, August 29, 2010



Okay, folks! I had an idea for a contest, so that you sharp-minded readers can prove your mettle of both noticing details AND having a good grasp of history. Here's the question:

Two of the characters in Crogan's March have met another Crogan, someone other than Peter.

1. Who did they meet?
2. Where did they meet him?
3. How do you know?
(i.e. show your work! I ain't countin' guesses, just deductions.)

You can deduce the answers from information contained in Crogan's March, if you're clever.

The first person to send me an e-mail with the correct answer (chris@curiousoldlibrary.com) wins a drawing of him or herself as a Legionnaire.  It's gotta be via e-mail, so that I can tell which ones I got first.

Website Overhaul!

Well, after a long time of wanting to, I've given my website a bit of an overhaul. It still has more or less the same setup, but the ugly colors are gone and now it has many more sections - a place to buy original art, links to interviews, teachers' resources (which are still in the works), drawings, f.a.q.s, etc. Check it out! The original art page I'm especially glad to have, as it will hopefully make it easier for folks to buy pages, and it'll be easier on ME as I won't have to go through portfolio after portfolio checking to see what I have on hand.

2 Things -

1. If you clack the "blog" link, you'll find that the banner at the top only serves to send you back to the main page. Working on this!
2. The text needs some kind of border/buffer on the side. I know it butts right up against the walls of the browser window. Working on this, too!

Anyway, check it out: The Curious Old Library (www.curiousoldlibrary.com)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A couple of Hessians

I got to the part in the book where I introduce the troop of Hessians, and realized that (with the exception of the Captain) I hadn't designed any of them!  Whoops.

(click for bigger version) There are seven total; here are the two with the biggest speaking parts.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Studio Tour

I just cleaned the studio, and thought now's as good a time as any to take some pics. Click on them for a bigger view.

An overview of my work area.  The desks were made out of old doors that were in our garage, bolted together and held up by some metal shelving units we got at Home Depot.  On those shelves I mostly keep different kinds of paper stock. My computer rig is in the corner.  Starting from the desk and moving right:  An Epson Stylus Photo 1270, which I use to print out blue line (only the blue nozzle works - I got it used from my dad); my wife's old college TV, hooked up to my brother-in-law's old X-box, which I use to watch DVDs (and, maybe twice a year, spend a couple of hours playing games);  iMac computer; Wacom Cintiq screen, where I do any touch ups and digital coloring; Epson GT-20000 Scanner; paper towels; HP Laserjet P1006, which I use to print my pencil templates, page proofs, etc.

Two of my bookshelves, along with my filing cabinet.  The bookshelf on the right holds my bigger reference books (my favorites being the 7-volume Peoples of All Nations set, which is kind of like National Geographic but from the 1910s, and Junks and Sampans of the Yangtze, which is exactly what it sounds like) and "art of" books.  A lot of the latter are animation books, but I've got some comic ones there, too, as well as live-action films.  The bookshelf on the right is all graphic novels. The filing cabinet holds work for my comics classes as well as lots of interviews with different comic artists that I've found online or in magazines and printed or made copies. The art in the middle is a drawing of Peter Crogan done by Usagi Yojimbo cartoonist Stan Sakai, and below that is a Guy Davis page from B.P.R.D.  Above the filing cabinet is a watercolor by French Belladone artist Pierre Alary

If you were to look to the right of the filing cabinet, you'd see this - stairs that go up to the regular part of the house, and another bookshelf.  The art on the wall, left to right, is a Muppets comic cover by Roger Langridge, featuring Sherlock Holmes; a print of that great Art Adams King Kong drawing; a watercolor of Super Spy character Pipe Man by Matt Kindt; a sketch of Phony Bone dressed as Captain Ahab by Jeff Smith; and below that some covers from George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman series, hands down my favorite historical adventure series ever. The books in the window are library books. On the shelf are some of my need-at-a-moment's-notice history books, mostly about Pirates, North Africa, the French Foreign Legion, the American Revolution, and 1920s China.  The bottom shelf, and a chunk of the one above it, are National Geographic magazines.

This is my mini-comics assembly area.  I have a Swingline long-arm stapler, an X-acto papercutter, and a cutting mat.  Nothing too fancy, but it works. The left half of the top shelf is about old newspaper strip collections; the right half is comics history, criticism, and textbooks, plus some animation and film texts, too. The middle shelf has my comics anthologies on it, an in-progress scratchbuilt model of a ship that will play a large role in the fourth Crogan Adventures book, and some of my mini-comics, organized but organized haphazardly.  The bottom shelf is all mini-comics, too.

My drawing desk is a table-top from the scratch-and-dent section of Ikea, bolted to the doors at my preferred drawing angle.  The scratches and dents are on the underside.  It's big enough that I can make a wide arc of my arm from one bottom corner to the other without going off, which is great, as I have pretty long arms.  To the left is a lightbox, previously owned by Shawn Crystal, Pat Quinn, and James Sturm, and which will be owned by someone after me.  The lamps are from Ikea, too, and were eight bucks apiece.  The mirror that runs across the back is so that I can make faces. On the right corner of the desk I keep the tools I use all the time - a pencil sharpener, an eraser, a tiny ruler - and some white ink.  I have their spots masked off with painter's tape and labeled because otherwise I lose them.

My cups are the only way I can keep track of my art supplies.  They're all labeled with what goes in it, whether it's new, like new, or used, etc.  This way I never have to hunt for the right tool, and I can keep tools that still have ink but may be a little dull.  The rack was built by me, with each cup-hole drilled with a doorknob bit.  It took forever, and was hard.

Lastly, I have my pipes and tobacco.  Most of the pipes are on a beautiful rack my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas a few years ago.  Now that we have a baby, Liz isn't keen on me smoking in the house anymore, which is a shame because I love having a briar between my teeth when I'm drawing pages.  Behind that, you can see my hat rack, which (now that I don't take the train every day) sees less on-and-off than it used to. The art on the wall is, clockwise from left, by Chris Wright, Paul Maybury, Richard Thompson (it's a Cul-De-Sac strip), Scott Chantler, and Nick Bertozzi.  The pipes in the frame are pre-civil war clay pipes.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Need Help Finding a Replacement Eraser

Artists and Toolhounds - I need your help!

I've had this eraser for about five years. In those five years, I have used it on just about every one of the eight hundred or so pages of comics that I've done, plus most sketches where I've used a pencil. But lately I've been erasing much more than usual - I'm erasing the underdrawing of my pencils, and it's starting to take its toll. I took this photo a month or two ago, and as you can see, there was still a substantial chunk left, about one inch by one inch, and a little shy of a quarter inch thick. It's very solid and slick, with almost no porousness. My wife bought it for me in a Barnes and Noble stationary section because I liked the inkwell design that had been printed on it. Unlike most erasers that I've tried, this one doesn't leave crumblies; instead it leaves the little ropes of rubber seen in the picture. It erases great and is easy to clean up, and obviously has great longevity. I've scoured B&Ns ever since without ever seeing the set again, and have sampled any number of erasers at art stores trying to find something comparable, but never with any success. Nearly all of them make crumblies instead of ropes. Has anyone ever found one that seems like it might be a suitable alternative? At the rate I'm erasing now it probably only has a couple of months left in it at best, and want to be ready with its successor on hand when it finally serves away to nothing.