my computer died, so i was at the apple store all day. drew a lot. some is not to be disclosed, some is...
a scene from DD3:
before the dare detectives were the dare detectives, they were sample characters for a spoof roleplaying game, that i made up in math class (sorry ms almeda) in 8th grade. sarah is pretty much unchanged, only she is no longer an elf. toby was originally a cheerful barbarian named stygor. or something equally dumb. probably stygor.
sarah had a 6-pack of nubs, magical sentient lumps that absorb excess magic (even then, she was a bratty princess who studied magic in school). they were pretty ridiculous. the little guy was named reece, for some reason he was an ex-boy band member (boy bands had just become a thing, and i loathed them), and he was also a con man. (each sample character represented a different race, occupation, physical type, personality etc.) the chipmunk was a guest star, imaginatively called "samurai chipmunk". he was kind of an asshole. and that pirate was, of course, maria. only she was actually a villain.
8x11, pencil. SOLD.
in college, when i decided to ditch the RPG angle and turn them into comic detectives, i had to make some changes. the big problem was that the group had no leader. sarah is smart, but no leader, and toby (i had mercifully changed his name by then), was, we'll... toby. and reece and SC were useless. so i cast around for an existing character, and settled on maria. i liked having another girl on the team, since sarah isn't really an ambassador for her gender or anything. also, evil maria had a whole gang of pairates and was always scheming. another bonus was that now-detective maria had a built in backstory -- pirate turned crook turned crook-hunter. but i did make both her body and her personality more lean, to really contrast her with sarah.
by this point, reece and SC had lost whatever appeal they originally had, but i felt like i needed one more person to round out the group, and i decided it should be a talking animal, since they're a big part of the dare world. i also wanted someone extra-cartoony, both in appearance in personality, as an outlier to the wackier end of the DD world. so i mashed up reece and SC and made jojo, the jerboa. uh... yeah. at the time, a lot of the DD creatures were turning out to be australian (a la red dingo) and i thought jerboas were australian. they're not. so i just made him a bunny, instead. and thus a legend was not born.
near the end of my sojourn, as i was getting loopy, the mac techs had a whole conversation about "battle of the planets":
no, i do not know why one of them has bernard change's beard. maybe it was a loan?
you can thank/blame michael may, josh elder, and paul morrissey for this one. it was a nice flashback to ninth grade, where i would spend all my class time drawing out ridiculous, pointless comics of a few pages each. old georgie would have fit in just fine with the rest of them!
8x11", pencil. SOLD.
doodle on the back side. probably a better likeness, but not as funny!
one of my favorite parts of drawing oz. the kalidah are described as having the heads of tigers and bodies of bears, with long nails. for some reason, lots of artists just stick a normal tiger head on a normal bear body, which seems a little... normal, for a world with flying monkeys and axe-wielding cyborgs and poisonous narcotic flowers running around. but whatever.
a few weeks ago, i went into my girls' class and drew a bunch of stuff for presidents' week. this... is pretty much exactly what i drew. except in class, there was also jefferson and lincoln tackling a space-cyclops.
no, that is not an expression. that is literally what happened.
georgie's arch enemy is immortal zombie-blackbeard. naturally.
michael may reminded me that the junk in my room includes not only a model of the coach in dracula, but also a model i used for cairfax abbey.
i'd be happy to email the schematics to anyone who's interested in making their own. it's easy, just involves a lot of cutting! (as you can see, i gave up on the cutting and just took photos, the cut out the windows in PSD.)
as per rad's comment, here's some oooold 3d modeling i had stared for all the dare enviros. it was quite foolish of me.
why, yes. that is a monkey head. why do you ask?
which also make a good segue, since later this week i want to talk more about enviros...
yes, it was originally the name of a sci-fi story. it's actually one of my 3 ur-stories, from which most of my other stuff (including even my WW and big barda stuff) is cannibalized. the other 2 stories are DD and closing night.
got a letter with some great questions, and i get asked some of these questions a lot, so i thought i'd put the reply here for everyone's entertainment:
hi lord voldemort!
1) focusing on just one story is and has always been a problem for me. i feel that i've only got it under control in the last year by being ruthless and avoiding even a peek at certain project folders.
2) another thing that helps, both in sticking to one thing, and in moving that one thing forward, is having hard deadlines/goals. for example, i was noodling with dare from at least 1996 (it was a terrible RPG before then). but finally, in the spring of 2002, i said "enough is enough" and set the goal of having a 14pg ashcan to sell/pitch at SDCC. well the ashcan part fell apart, so i printed up a bunch of dare sketchbooks and just hopped on the plane. met dark horse and explained the premise and an idea of a few plots, (probably whipped out a folder of sketches, if i know me,) and tossed in a sketchbook. having the goal of putting something together by a specific point (comiccon), for a specific end (showing editors) helped focus me tremendously.
3) once you are hired for something and have deadlines, it's like school, much easier to motivate yourself to get it done. although, if you are like me, there is the terrible temptation (especially early on, when the deadline is so comfortably far away) to go crazy with things like character designs, then rush some of the actual story/drawing part later on. which is a terrible plan.
4) a good way to keep motivated is to actually look away from your project, finding outside things to incorporate. everyone needs a break, but you might (for example) go to the museum and find interesting armor or animals or whatever that you can cannibalize for your project. that way it feels that less is set in stone from the beginning, with the rest of the project being just rote completion.
i have also deliberately left certain parts of stories open-ended at the writing phase (starting with WW), so that i feel like i'm still contributing something new -- and even surprising myself -- as the work progresses. in the case of WW, etta was a very minor character who was actually cut from the first installment. but i liked her, so i worked her into the 6th part. turns out she really helped that part work much better than had i gone with my original treatment, and in the end she was so useful for the story (and fun for me) that her role expanded throughout the rest of the project.
5) you can do a whole book as pitch, and sometimes it helps, but i wouldn't. you should have at least 4-6 pages finished, both so editors can get a feel for the story and rhythm and how the final book would look and read, and also so they know you can actually tell a story (both as a writer, and as an artist). too many finished pages lock you into a story you might want to change. some editors/publishers also look askance at too much completion, as a sign that you are set in everything and unwilling to be flexible and to make the best project as they see it.
you should also have at least a rough outline, if not a rough script, so they can get an idea of how the story opens, all the exciting stuff, and how it ends. if you're meeting them in person, you might not need it all typed out if you can explain it both clearly and concisely, but that's rare among creators. but if you're sending them stuff, they'll need some idea of what happens. also, some sort of character bible. nothing fancy, just an idea of who the main characters are, what they do and why, how it affects the story, and why we should care. a few words (and art!) about what makes the world they live in interesting also helps.
when i first showed dare to DH, as i said it was very informal. but they were interested enough to ask for a formal pitch, which i believe included:
a) thumbnailed first issue (32pp),
b) a list of 10 case synopses (mostly a paragraph or 2, like the blurbs you read on back covers)
c) 10 character pages with sketches, very basic backgrounds, personalities, relationships etc
d) a few random sketches and notes of the dare world, wacky scenes etc
i've shown another potential project to a few publishers, and some have wanted a full outline or script, others have been interested solely based on this mini-website "pitch" that has characters, the enviro, a VERY brief (4 sentences) concept background, and very little about the actual plot (and no sample pages). so sometimes if the project looks interesting enough, or if you show it to the right person at the right time, you can skip some of the other things. although even then, people will usually want to see a little more meat before giving you lump of cash and a deadline.
and that's all i can think of for now. let me know if you think of anything else!
it is possible i changed the recipient's name. it is also possible that i am an evil wizard. who knows?
lots coming for 2012 and i'm gutting my studio to make room for all the awesomeness that is pouring — and will continue to pour — out of here over the next 12 months.the studio is dead, long live the studio!
yes that is a prototype "fluffy" toy from harry potter. yes it is one of a kind. no you may not have it.
warm up sheets for the kula kola caper... working out some structural kinks with the characters. also, since the bkgs will be drawn and not painted this time, working out some of the stylization (esp for flora).
also, i often think of or notice fun little details, and i'll store them in my head for years. then, in the heat of storytelling, i forget all about them. so trying to include some of those things, too (like washing beach feet).
dare as pirates. i used to draw silly stuff like this all the time, some of which turned into actual story ideas. probably not this one! (although in DD5, they do run into pirates, including maria's family.)
pencil, 8x11". SOLD
a lot of people have mentioned "my" WW lately, she's always fun to draw.
from the dare detectives' history, when the people of enderby city started working with their beastie neighbors. they also developed giant mecha back then, to battle the arum hesh (giant empire). this period also produced the jetbike that furious george stole in "the snowpea plot".
also, that's a wombat, for some reason, back in the day i made all the dare beasties australian/tasmanian/new zealand-ish(?).
i was trying to work on something else, my computer was dragging and i was going through old drawings. several were rejected drafts of the batman/poison ivy commission i did. (for some reason, that one particular piece gave me more trouble than almost anything i've ever done. don't know why.)
anyhoo, i liked one of the old compositions so i started doodling it out again because, why not? well, it got out of hand, but whatever.
i've found myself using that particular "font" a lot. i shall dub it "achoo!", since i first drew it as a sneeze SFX for the wizard of oz.
inks from start to finish, i was nervous but it was a fun experiment, and i'm really happy with the result. my favorite part is actually the coat -- i've always loved those turn of the century ink illustrations, it was exciting to be able to at least tentatively imitate that look.
i might rethink st michel and use this approach, as opposed to pencils.
8x11", ink. SOLD.
(for some reason, i was listening to sublime's cover of "gin and juice" while doing this. i guess that's a weird combination, but i guess it worked.)
this is what my thumbs usually look like, to start. as i've mentioned elsewhere, i'm left handed so i usually start my thumbs on the right side of a page, then work left. although sometimes (like here), the left side fills up with corrections, notes etc.
a few notes:
first off, as you can see by the drawings of senator kincaid for page 11 panel 1, the camera is looking down at him, from maria's view. the following panel shows her from his view, helping to establish the mano-a-mano nature of the scene. i have slowly learned over the years (and from the chiding of wiser artists) the importance of really working your camera to sync with what the characters are experiencing.
also re: kincaid. i did several designs for him before, i 've had a pretty good idea of his look before this. but i took another stab at his design with this specific scene (and panel 11-1 in particular) in mind. sometimes you need to take your designs on a test run to see what works in practice, not just theory.
i think you should avoid pure profile or head-on views unless necessary, they are formal and can break the organic flow of a panel or page. but in this case, maria entering the the car is a pretty formal event, so i went for it.
(i generally try to keep movement from left to right, the natural direction for the eye to move. unless you're reading in japanese, in which case "abu nai! ABU NAI!".)
i usually have a very loose script at this point -- i don't belabor it, since i'm the artist, and since i know i'll be changing things once the art is in, anyway. i only write enough in the thumbs to clarify who is saying what and when, etc. in this scene, since the dialogue is so central, i worked it out much more thoroughly, in particular to make sure that everything will fit later.
finally, when you want to create drama in a scene that is essentially static, consider both angles and depth of field. in this case, while both characters are sitting, the camera suggests kincaid is dominating the situation. also, having a strong sense of foreground (kincaid), middle ground (maria), and background (guy in rain) adds visual interest. it's not a matter of having details, it's a matter of suggesting people moving through and operating in a world, not just sitting on a page.
also, i was watching old crime films while drawing, so hands and faces from that popped onto my paper. old films are great because... well, because the just are, dig it? but they're also great for stuff like that because they use more normal shots than more stylized modern films. characters and the cameras jump around less, there are fewer extreme close-ups, it's much more like watching stage performance (which it had, after all, only just evolved from). because they were just black and white, they also had very carefully thought out compositions in terms of light and depth. noir is naturally one of the best genres to appreciate this, since the visual play of light and dark was so central to the metaphorical play of light and dark in the material. but tons of old films (hitchcock and most bogrt crime films come tom mind) are also great.
had some unexpected downtime, this doodle got out of control.
another example of self-cannibalizing: the shield carrier (which is a fairly standard 70s-ish manga battleship) comes from a kid's comics i'd like to do, the mountain comes from a rejected sketch for the new DD2 cover.