28 December 2008

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Following on after steps 2&3 (see post below), I scan the sketches from my sketchbook that I think worked best from my thumbnails into my computer at lo-res . I lay these out at 1-1 in my 'page-grid' (see pic directly below). I find this stage very useful, as I can import the individual sketches from my sketchbook, and then scale/shift/rearrange them so I get the composition just right. I then print out a simple rough (in my case, i work on A4) that I'll use as the guide for tracing onto my final art board.

Here's an example from a story Im composing in DIGESTED.02:

I use this as the underlay. I place this under a final blank art-card (that i will be inking onto), and place them both on my lightbox and lightly trace all the major lines in blue pencil.

Afterwards, I tight pencil (add details) to the final art-card in more blue pencil.

Then I ink it.

Anyway, that's it for now... see you at the next meetup (Jan-3rd), or failing that at THE LIST-II book launch (Sat-17th-Jan-09)... Details here.



24 December 2008

23 December 2008

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Like most authors, step.1 is the writing... though the next steps in the creative process usually diverge into idiosyncratic methods for each individual creator.

After the idea, story & writing are done... I visualize the narrative out through 2 intermediate steps prior to pencilling my final artboard.


I thumbnail quick images from my script to get a good 'shot' of each frame. These literally take me 5 seconds each to scribble. No care in technique is taken. It's simply bainstorming ideas. My thinking on each thumb is, "No, yes, no, no, maybe, no, yes".... it's that quick a physical exercise.

When I think I've gone through the short story/arc of the script in my thumbnailing, I then start to sketch the thumbnails I think 'worked' into my sketchbook as quick final compostions. You can probably see which thumbnails influenced sketches below...

Once i start sketching like this, i often come up with even more camera angles and perspectives. The above boxing scenario was only 1-2 thumbnails, but i ended up running with it once i saw it gain form in these sketches. This process is really like putting flesh on the skeleton... visually speaking.

This sketching process is the most fun for me. You see, I have a guide (the thumbnails) to hold my hand, and so sketching the content of panels in my comic like this is an absolute joy.

I never have the fear of a blank sheet of paper.

  • -

I shouldn't have promised to review TANGO8 because it's just too hard. Man, its such a nice book. There are so many nice pieces inside that it would take forever to review each story, but let me assure you... they're all tasty.

Unlike many other anthologies, I think this one is a major class above. It has quality strewn throughout it. The more experienced authors act as support to the newcomers and as such, make the reading experience flow nicely. The Caleo's have done a fine job in putting this book together. This anthology isn't like so many others where there's only 1 or 2 standouts and you feel like you just got ripped off. You want to hug this book.

TANGO8 is worth every penny paid. You get to sample local published authors like Bruce Mutard, Mandy Ord & Nicki Greenberg... as well as lesser-known (though talented) people like Daniel Reed, Anthony Woodward, Simon Barnard, Tim Molloy, Gina Monaco/Ben Smith, Mirranda Burton, Andrew Fulton, Neale Blanden, Paul Bedford/Matt Emery/Fleur Andrews, Gordon Reece, Jason Franks/J.Marc.Schmidt... to name just a few. The bumper 250pg book is packed with 70 authors!

This is the best local anthology that I've ever seen.
Get it here.


18 December 2008

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Have been looking forward to the launch of Bernard Caleo's anthology TANGO-8 for the last few weeks. It's become the local comicbook scene's pre-eminent anthology of great authors.

First off, let me apologise for the low quality photos. In all the excitment, I'd forgotten my regular camera, so I had to use my woefull phone camera. I also forgot my voice recorder to catch Bernard's speech.

Anyway, the time arrived yesterday evening, and my woman & I made our way down to Brunswick for the event.

The launch was at Mr Willkinson at 295 Lygon St, East Brunswick.

Bernard's launch speech was supposed to begin at 7.30pm, so we arrived at about 7.00pm to settle in early.

The place was packed!

Bernard was at the door to greet people in his splendid white suit. There was no mistaking who 'the man' was this evening. He also gave the contributor's to TANGO-8 a complimentary copy (me included) as a fine gesture for participating.

... and there were fresh copies of the new book as well as a nice chronology of previous issues to show the 'life' that TANGO has had to date. A very impressive thing indeed!

For a Wednesday night, I'd imagine the owners were very happy with the 'sardine-like' crowd of artistic-minded people.

It wasn't long before you heard a speaker 'hum' and Bernard's voice saying, "Is this thing on?"

The master orator at work...

Bernard's speech, as usual , was masterful. A few people i chatted to afterwards repeated the sentiment, and were really impressed. Perhaps it's the fact that TANGO & this night means so much to Bernard, but there was a little more stardust about his words this evening. Damn i regret forgetting my voice-recorder. The speech would have been nice to post up here on my blog.

On seeing him around the room and chatting to him, you could tell he was happy and proud of the book and the launch. As Bernard would say... "Huzzah!"

Bernard up on the bar so that the crowd could see him.

... and some of that crowd being...

As usual, was great to catch up with my pals, but i must admit, that i got way too excited and comfortable, and didn't go around to meet as many new faces as i hoped to. Appologies to those that i didn't chat to - will try and catch you next time. (You know what it's like, you think "This is great! The night is young!"... well, it was a school-night - and didn't last as long as I'd hoped.)

It was the best booklaunch I've been to yet. Crowded, but cosy, and a real buzz in the air. For those that didn't come, you missed out on a good one. Shame on you.

As I mentioned earlier, I recieved my complimentary copy of TANGO-8, but didn't want to start reading it there on the night. Instead I'll wait until i have some time to myself, and devour the book with my full attention.

At my work desk the following morning holding TANGO-8.

I make a modest contribution on pages 38-39.

Get TANGO-8 now!
(As well as the older issues) from the official website. Don't be shy... go on, buy it. It's only $20 for almost 250 pages!

Bernard also made the announcement on the night that next year he's releasing a 'BEST OF TANGO' anthology through international distribution channels, which means that Europe and the rest of the world will get to sample some of the cream of Australian comicbook authors. Good on you Bernard!

I haven't read TANGO-8 yet, but will let you know in the next post what I thought the stand outs were. Can't wait.



08 December 2008

I made my way into the city an hour early to drop into the 'Alternate Worlds' comicbook shop for their Xmas sale. (Up to 80% off... this week only!) ... & gave a few things a chance that I normally wouldn't considering the cheap price of some books. Also bought 2 full-priced books.

Then, it was onto the last meetup of the year... and it was a nice endcap to the year. The wind was cool on a slightly humid day.

Upon arriving, Colin was looking at someone's folio...

...while I sat down and Greg showed me a copy of the latest TANGO anthology. Nice!... Details of the booklaunch at the bottom of this post. come along!

We're not usually this serious, I swear!...


Well, perhaps crazy, but definitely not serious... Oh jeez, how embarrassing.

The above photo was in response to claims that Trev, Paul and I were secretly part of a Shaolin Kung Fu monastery. Trev has the sleazy-magician thing going on, while I look like I'm trying for a major bowel movement... and Paul didn't feel like posing.

A nice time was had by all. It was a very full turnout of about 20- 25 people in all.

  • In depths chats of work we're doing over Summer.
  • Showing folio work around.
  • Showing new comics we've bought and discussing them in relation to our own methods and aims.
  • Drinking.
  • Good company.
See you at the launch of Bernard Caleo's latest TANGO No.8 anthology (Love & Food)... of which I have a 2-pager published, as well as many other talented local creators. Come to the launch and buy it! It's already in Minotaur & Alternate worlds.

Click here for more details from Bernard Caleo's website.
See you all there!


05 December 2008

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Those of you who know me well enough, know that Dave McKean's graphic novel CAGES is still my single most favorite book in the medium. Hands down.

Before I got into the habit of researching comicbooks online prior to buying, I remember walking past this fat $100 hardcover (500 pages and almost 5cm thick!) in Minotaur bookshop and thinking, "Hmm, not today, but someday I might give it a shot."
I tend to use the rule of thumb that, if Im 50/50 on buying something, I'll walk away, think about it, and if the desire is still there days/weeks/months later... then I'll get it. It avoids me impulse buying.
... well after about 8 months I just threw caution to the wind and bought it.
Here in Melbourne Australia, most comicbook shops have their graphic novels wrapped in plastic, so there's no way to look inside them, so I never knew what the interior pages looked like.
Anyway, after laying down 100 fat ones, I walked to my noisy station, boarded my cattle-filled train, sat down in my cramped seat & unwrapped my heavy book amidst the irritation of yapping and banal conversation. I took hold of the tome in my lap and hinged a few kg's of pages to the left. My God. I was gobsmacked. Seriously floored. Im not kidding... I was so in awe at each successive page turn, that the volume & noise of people around me went down.

It was the most profound visual experience I've had from a book ever.

CAGES covers so much in it's heavy 500 pages, that it's hard to describe it succinctly. On the surface, it's about a frustrated painter named Leo Sarbarsky and his relationship with a controversial author named Jonothan Rush; and Karen... a Botanist with a forest growing in her appartment.

There's a mysterious black cat that pops up throughout the book (who used to be a man), as well as an old delusional woman waiting for her husband to come home after years of absence. There's a Jazz musician named Angel who has a mystical way of exuding deep sounds from stones, as well as 2 mafia-style individuals dressed in black who run the appartment in which they all live. There's even more subtext with a surgeon who dissects things in order to find out what inspires love, and a God that looks like a little man who has conversations with his cat while looking over the world.

Under the surface of CAGES, is Dave McKean espousing the themes of art, creativity, and the price one might pay in pursuing it. There's a lot of intended weight to this book.

The thing that really stands out for me in CAGES, is the way in which Dave McKean experiments with the comic form and pushes it's capablilities. When you read it, you can see that Dave wasn't interested in the 'conventions' of comicbook story telling. He's just done it the way he thought communicated his points best. People throw around the term 'highly original' far too lightly in my thinking when they are simply describing a conventionally great book. But this book really is. Dave produced it as a personal project (in the background) between 1990-1996. That should tell you something.

The majority of the book is done in a very beautiful quick & measured nib-ink style... though the book does diverge into colour and other methods (intentionally) when Dave feels the story will benefit. The conversations, pacing and realism of the stories within are some of the best I've seen anywhere.
On a related note... i just found out that (while CAGES has been out of print for years) Dark Horse are about to re-release it in softcover, along with another of Dave McKean's personal experiments PICTURES THAT TICK. I'm planning on getting both... so i can keep my original hard cover of CAGES in tact.
Keep an eye open for these beauties...

Here are the 'proposed' covers... but who knows what the finals will look like?

Anyway... CAGES is still my favourite. I've learnt more innovative lessons of how to do comics from this book than any other. If you're fortunate enough to come across it... get it.


03 December 2008

It's 1.38 on a Wednesday afternoon. I've just eaten my lunch, and with some time up my sleeve before I hit the grindstone again, I start doodling on a piece of old illustration card i have in my work bag. I really enjoy sketching & drawing in a standard black roller-pen. The type found in most offices... the type that 'use' to be in banks.

Today, I used my faithful 'BIC Classic Finepoint'.

Working things out on paper like this really makes the world go away... even if its just temporarily.


Batman's been about the only spandex character in the comics scene that I've been able to stomach. The rest bore me senseless. Recently though, I stumbled across this DC statue that was designed by Mike Mignola from his own drawing style.

Now, I've never been one for figurines and collectibles.... but dammit if I wouldn't lay down some serious cash for this piece of Mignola art.

More pictures of the statue here.