Saturday, May 14, 2011

Emerald City Blues Deluxe Edition

For those of you that follow my work. You might have seen my pages from my project Emerald City Blues. ECB is my take on the Wizard of Oz taken in a more mythical context. I explore the darker side of imagination and the perception of what is real and the meaning of existence...oh..and there is lots of fighting and swords....

As a project ECB started in a really unique way. It began as part of 24 hour comic book day. 24 hour comic book day is an international artistic challenge where you try and create an entire comic in 24 hours. I took on the challenge and although I came up short I did manage to pencil 17 pages of the first ECB story and ink 11 of them. It was a lot of fun but little did I realize that was just the beginning of where ECB would go.

In the days following that 24 hour burst of creativity that gave birth to ECB I started to script the pages and began to see the beginnings of a larger story emerge from those first action packed pages. As I finished the pages I would post them on Deviant Art. Much to my surprise the pages began to develop a strong following.

As I started to attend more Comic Conventions I decided to do a small print on demand run of ECB. I sold out of it quickly and went back to print with a new cover and second issue. I sold out of both of those! This lead to me the decision to put ECB out through Comic Book stores. Once I made that decision I started to think how I wanted to present ECB to a wider audience. This train of thought lead to ECB the Deluxe Edition. Which is the original story colored and refined with a few added story elements. The process of pushing this story and art to a new level has been a challenge but very exciting because it's becoming the book I imagined that in that first 24 hours.

I'm posting a sneak peek of Emerald City Blues the Deluxe Edition along with the original pages as they appeared online and in those original print runs.


Sunday, May 08, 2011

Free Comic Book Day Recap

Yesterday was Free Comic Book Day and I spent it at Geoffrey's Comics doing sketches for Comic fans. As a kid I worked at Geoffrey's Comics and even though the location and the faces have changed I still feel like it's the place where I first learned to love the art form of comics and met a lot of the friends I still have today.

I arrived at the store before 10 am and there was already a line around the building with kids and Comic fans eager to get some free comics! My nephew Jack road shotgun and the always hilarious and super talented Michael O'Hare double teamed the line of sketch hungry Comic fans. We drew for four hours straight. (South Bay representing!!!) The most amount of requests were for Captain America, Deadpool, Wolverine and various characters from the Kick Ass Comic. Sold some of my sketchbooks and did some of my better sketches of the day on the back of them. I wish I would have snapped a few shots of the better ones. I did a Two Face a Hobgoblin and a Joker I was happy with.
(to get one of the few remaining copies I have of sketchbook click here: Future Flashback Sketchbook

Midway through my good friend Dave Riddick showed up with his sons and fun was had by all. Unfortunately Captain Greedy aka Geoffrey Patterson could not make it because he is sick and recovering in the hospital. Customers of the store signed a huge get well card and everyone gave their well wishes to his son Geoffrey Jr. who now runs the store. Saw some familiar faces from back in the day and had a good time meeting the Comic fans and spreading the Comic book gospel.

As creators we meet readers at conventions which gives us one type of perspective on the industry. I think interacting with fans in the Comic Book stores is a lot different because the Comic store is the front line of the industry. It's where the rubber meets the road in terms of selling Comics and converting people to your work and to the art form. For me talking to the readers and learning what they like and what they are buzzing about was much food for thought. I recommend FCBD it to every creator/self publisher. You meet the fans, you work with the retailers and you have a great time.


Friday, May 06, 2011

Flippers Free Comic Book Day

There has been a lot of talk in the last couple of days about people who buy commission sketches at conventions and turn around and "Flip" them on ebay. Over the years I've had different opinions about convention commissions but for the most part once someone buys something from me I feel it's their property and they can do with it what they please. I've had key pieces of art switch hands over the years. Sometime I don't know why the person did it, other times I felt like the art ended up in the hands of someone who appreciated it more. Once you sell a piece no matter the level of emotion you put into it. It takes on a life of it's own.

There was a point where I just did free sketches for people at every convention. I would draw the entire convention and I almost always had a line. I only changed my policy when I found out certain people would hit me up at every show and turn around and sell the free sketches on ebay for $50-$100 bucks. I was not cool with it because it was not in the spirit of how and why I was doing free sketches. I changed my policy to a free sketch if you purchased something. Which seemed to work pretty well. In the end I settled on free sketches for kids and a set price for sketches and for more complex pieces a higher commission price. I've found that sort of weeds out the "flippers" and the people who really enjoy your work seem more than happy to pay for the artwork they want. As recently at the Wizard World Anaheim show I had a collector commission a sketch cover from me and he had one of the guys who does grading come over and watch me draw it so he could get it sealed and verified that I drew it. For him it's obviously an investment. Which is fine by me. If he turns around and sells it five years at a higher price it only contributes to the overall value of my artwork which in the end I believe will benefit me in the long run from a financial standpoint.

I guess it's all a matter of perspective. I used to like to go through my old artwork and try and remember the mindset I had when I created it. Now I focus more on what I'm creating at the moment or where I'm planning to take my art in the future. Past artwork hopefully represents a step towards learning something new.

Art for me is about taking an idea or an emotion and realizing it through a drawing or painting or in a printed book. Once those ideas are converted they reside withing the experience I had making the art and the experience someone has viewing or reading it. In that sense the physical artwork doesn't hold a sentimental place in my life. In many ways I'm sure it would have a better "life" in the hands of a collector who will display it or have a deeper emotional connection to the physical art. In this case I don't mind giving the artwork a better life...for a price..ha!

For those of you that don't know tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day. I'll be doing free sketches (I still do them from time to time) at Geoffrey's Comics from 10am-12pm. Come by get some free comics and a sketch!
15900 Crenshaw Blvd # B
Gardena, CA 90249-4875
(310) 538-3198
First person to mention Deviant Art will get a free signed issue of Samurai The Graphic Novel!
You can always buy a copy of Samurai The Graphic Novel here: Samurai TGN buy page!


BLAST Palette 01

For years I struggled with painting and coloring. Mainly because I couldn't separate the color theory from the ideas that going into the rendering (like and shadow/texture). Once I moved them into two schools of thought...coloring became easier to understand. It's still something I'm working on and trying to get better at so I thought it would be fun to share one of my tricks with you. For me coloring can be approached as a graphic design problem. How do I pick the right color combo for my design. In some respects I believe the right color combos, keyed to the emotion of the piece is more important than the rendering.

I keep a palette of color combos that I can pull from no matter what rendering style I use. With a few tweaks I created some combos I plan to use on future BLAST pieces. I have provided them as a download for you to experiment with along with some line art of the original BLAST piece.
Have fun!


PS you can buy a limited edition print of BLAST here: BLAST limited edition print

Thursday, May 05, 2011


Got a chance to see a screening of THOR last night hosted by the LA Times with a Q&A with Kenneth Branagh and Chris Hemsworth. I've always enjoyed the THOR comic and character. If you know me you know Walt Simonson's THOR is in my top five comics of all time. Great epic stories and art. After reading those comics the standard for what a THOR story can be is set pretty high. That being said I didn't have high hopes for the movie. From the trailers it felt more like Hulk and less like Iron Man. After waiting in a huge line for about an hour we were let in. I have to say the LA Times Hero Complex crew was well organized and on point. They managed the crowd got everyone seats and free popcorn and drinks. The theater itself is the sort of IMAX mini screen but was still huge. If you can see the movie in 3D IMAX it's on a whole other level.

(Mini Spoilers ALERT!)

Okay so if you are still reading you don't care about spoilers or in this case mini spoilers. I don't want to give the whole movie away. The story starts out pretty fast paced on Earth but quickly moves to Asgard. Suffice to say Asgard is like this amazing futuristic Jack Kirby/modern concept art mash up that made me think of how f%$king cool would it be to see a New Gods movie. Branagh get's down to not only telling the story but also character building from the moment the movie starts. Despite all the beautiful eye candy not a chance is missed to reinforce and build the characters and every scene is edited to get the information and drama or epic nature of the scene without dragging. He really captured the right balance between a complex comic story and action adventure pacing without cutting down on the actors. It really works as a super hero Shakespearean toned adventure. The actors and dialogue leads with the effects riding shot gun.

I sometimes forget how great Anthony Hopkins is when he is given a great role to wrap his acting skills around. He owns the part of Odin and his father son relationship with THOR an Loki reveals so much about their characters without having him play the part as Johnny the Explainer.

The Frost Giants are played as force of nature and THOR's adventure into their realm is on par with any of the action scenes from LOTR. The Frost Giant King comes off as noble/savage and a bit scary. All well played.

Once things move to Earth Natalie Portman and crew brings the THOR out of water story to life. Natalie Portman comes off very Julia Roberts like in that every scene with Hemsworth is funny, cute or touching. The chemistry is great and Portman earns her Geek street cred back post Star Wars.

As for Hemsworth. He becomes THOR. Maybe it's his acting or maybe it's the fact that I only know him only as Kirk's father in the Trek reboot but he really inhabited the character. I do believe he will be taking over Hugh Jackman's spot as the Geek hunk de jour.

The movie has a ton of Easter Eggs and lots of humor and action. I won't spoil the ending or give away much more. THOR is right up there with the first X-Men and the first Iron Man as far as Marvel movie go.

In the Q&A afterword Branagh discussed his love of the character and the idea that THOR is such a genre mashup and that's what appealed to him as a director. He also keyed in on the selling the relationships between the characters even without the costumes and effects. Obviously he understands the craft of acting and he looks to give each of his actors the tools to put their skills on display. Branagh also talked about the epic nature of Marvel's plans for the crossover of the movies and characters. He seemed into the idea and was very interested in doing a THOR sequel. He also talked about how they did concept art and animatics for at least two more huge fight scenes that he would like to use in other THOR films ending of course with Ragnarok.

Hemsworth talked about how they built a fighting style based of the poses from the comic. This is pretty evident in the movie with certain poses looking like Simonson and others like Hitch. He said they looked at footage of Mike Tyson punching to get the savagery of a hit and get that across in THOR's fighting style. He also talked about working with Joss Whedon on the Avengers and that he was leaving to start shooting it in New Mexico.

In other news I'll be signing and doing free sketches this Sat. for FREE COMICS DAY at Geoffrey's Comics in Gardena from 10-12. Come down and get a free comic and a free sketch!