Over the week I do warm up drawings in the morning, and by the time Friday comes around I see how totally senseless they are! Although, this week the sketches came together to form an important lesson!
Brooklyn Blood by Paul Levitz and myself moves forward another eight pages in Dark Horse Presents! On line, and below, is a preview of next month’s splash page. Have to say, I really enjoyed drawing the subway. I love-hate the subway like many in NYC, but mostly I love it. The dancing that is not allowed is always entertaining and only costs me some pocket change. The food that is not allowed…well that always smells bad for some reason and we all know the ads are boring since Dr. Zizmor retired. I have at least two friends who were ticketed for peeing in the subway and one, along with MANY others, who got away with it. Once, an older woman lit up a big joint on the 1 train and smoked it like she owned the car. One night I witnessed a birthday celebrant vomit on a subway seat, and floor, and another seat. Watched a woman create a blowtorch out of her hair spray can and a lighter in the service of chasing away some kids who had been harassing her. Passed the Fonze, who was coming up out of the subway as I was going down. Saw the police and EMT workers bring a body up from the subway only to have the white sheet fall off as I walked by. That last one will haunt me forever, and that’s kind of what I ended up drawing in this latest chapter.
The time for words is over, though! You can look at the preview of the art now. The one where I get to draw the subway.
This week’s Dark Horse Presents (Issue 19) features another chapter of Brooklyn Blood by Paul Levitz and myself along with other stories by a plethora of creators. Below is page one of Chapter three (sans copy).
I also did a little reportage type drawings and thought this particular one was an interesting failure. If you can tell what it is then, that’s great. But over all, it went so far off the rail it’s embarrassing. And interesting. And embarrassing…
I’ve been busy with children’s books and New Yorker cartoons of late, so it’s surprising (to me at least) that there are two comic books out this month containing stories by me.
Next week will be part one of Brooklyn Blood, by Paul Levitz and myself in Dark Horse Presents. As you can see from the small preview below, it involves skulls. It also involves Brooklyn and some blood. And a cop. Look for it in DHP issue 17 with a cover by me. The cover with a skull.
Also, out today, I think, is issue 25 of Michel Fiffe’s unstoppable comic, “Copra.” For this anniversary issue Fiffe asked a few people such as, Benjamin Marra, Chuck Forsman, Kat Roberts, Sloane Leong, Paul Maybury and myself to contribute. I did an 8 page story you can see a small preview of below. It involves a guy with his skull breaking open. Spoilers: There will be more skulls in the story.
I was as first hesitant to touch fiffe’s creations, but it turned out to be a fun project and I hope I did good! I certainly don’t want to be the “Tales of the Gold Monkey” to fiffe’s “Raiders of The Lost Ark.” Skulls!
As I can now talk about the Dark Horse Presents story called ‘Brooklyn Blood’ I’m working on with Paul Levitz, and I’m teaching a Summer Residency in sequential art at SVA this summer, I thought my Friday post could be about just a small teeny tiny bit of my process. Where the class I teach is mostly concerned with telling a story, making that story clear on the page, using panel layout to guide the eye, finding that story inside of you that haunts you and causes you a small bit of metal pain when you dig it up (yes we did that in my very first class), I thought I’d post something a little more basic here. How I draw a comic page! Or part of a page. Note that what you see below is just the bottom third of a page from the upcoming ‘Brooklyn Blood.’ We’ll skip the writing part as Paul did that.
Step A: After I read the script I draw several thumbnails with a black marker. I throw most of them away in disgust. You see here the thumbnail I settled on. Then I scan this winning thumbnail into the computer and place it in page template (the template being the correct proportions that it will be when printed).
Step B: I draw the rough pencils on a Cintiq (if you don’t know what a Cintiq is just hit the Googles). If you don’t have a Cintiq, many people use a light box to draw finished pencils on top of the blown up thumbnail which you can enlarge on a copy machine or computer.
Step C: Then I get back out of the computer by printing out a blue line version of the pencils on Bristol board. Blue line because I can now ink it in the real world with black ink, and when I scan it back into Photoshop, the blue line will not show up in the scan, only the black lines show up.
Step D: You can ink using a Cintiq also, but I still like using messy ink and brush or pen or wooden sticks. I personally like making marks on real paper. Too much work in the computer ends up putting me to sleep.
Step E: I scan the final black and white art back into the computer and on a separate layer from the black art in Photoshop, I add the colors! I also add the word balloons early on in the process because that does affect where the reader’s eye goes, but for this brief art example, I left that bit out! And there you have it. The exciting, amazing secrets of an illustrator! I just now see that I wrote “step A” in the text, and “Part A” on the art. That’s called a mistake. I make many of those! It’s part of the process.
To quote Marianne Moore, “I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle.” That’s how I feel many times about Experimental comics. But many times, experimental writing gets me out of the rut of creating and polishing “important” art and projects down to their perfect boring nubs. I have other reasons for looking into “experimenting” with sequential story telling, but for now, enough said. The 2 page comic below was created by taking the first few words of the first paragraph of a random story in the Times for panel one, then the second and third words in the second paragraph of that story and so on. I then finish the sentence those words started so I can have a bit of an Exquisite Corpse all by myself. I never spend more than 10 minutes writing the whole thing. With this story, I pretty much drew what I wrote (with some embellishments). I’ve already created some new “constraints for my next one so the art will be more interesting. I will bore you with those details next week.
When I’ve been paid to write, it’s usually been for something funny in Mad Magazine, Nickelodeon magazine or children’s books that slant towards the silly.
I say supposed to, because one has to write a lot of stinky poop before coming up with something people laugh at. Just ask my wife. I show her all my material. So much so, that if I hand her a napkin at the dinner table she reflexively crumples it up and throws it on the floor.
Way back in the mid 90’s, Back before social media when people un-friended each other in the real world with a drink to the face or the classic slap with one glove, I wrote and drew gags and strips for Nickelodeon Magazine.
Chris Duffy was the editor of said magazine and he was nice enough to give me semi regular work along with many other talented cartoonists. Honestly, I was not worthy to be in there with the likes of Kaz, Sala and Henderson. Mr. Duffy never knew this, but before I worked for him, I had pitched two comic strips to newspaper syndicates that were promptly rejected. Chris specifically asked me at the Nickelodeon interview, “Tim Have you ever failed to sell a funny cartoon or make a person laugh?”
“No, sir,” I answered. “No sir Mr. Duffy!”
“Good,” Chris answered. “We don’t hire ‘those kind of people’ here.” Then he pulled a bottle of Wild Irish Rose out of his desk drawer and we celebrated. By “celebrated” I mean that Chris drank and took Polaroids while I held back tears.
But he didn’t buy ALL my ideas, and with good reason. When Chris didn’t like an idea I sent to him, he’d send me a letter back with a melted chocolate bar in it. At least that’s what I told myself it was. I kept all my rejected ideas though. Grim reminders of what bad ideas are made of. Yes, kids never got to see “The Adventures of Sleepy Joe and Noisy Marg!” or “Weak Bladder Billy vs. Chuck Stunning!” or “Secret Agent Mannequin!” or “The exciting Adventures of Used Tissue Salesman!” That last one has such a gross ending, I can tell you!
The point is, never give up, always explore what makes you laugh, unless what makes you laugh is Carrot Top or Gallagher, in which case you should stop exploring. Just stay home. Please.
In fact, that “Easter Bunny” cartoon above is a cartoon I couldn’t sell anyplace. Nobody likes that cartoon gag but me. But I know someday someone will pay me money for that. Maybe build a whole movie around that ONE idea like a Nicolas Cage film.
If my blog is to be one of those helpful blogs in a “how to draw cartoons, make money and meet celebrities” kind of way, I just wanted to point out that for all the cartoons (and few kids books) I’ve sold, I have a big folder full of rejected material and old melted chocolate bars. In fact sometimes you do some thing that NEVER sees the light of day, much like many things that go on in the Vatican. Below, you can enjoy a full page cartoon I sold to Nickelodeon way back in…the late 90’s? I don’t remember. It never did end up seeing print before Nickelodeon Magazine shut down. I thought people should see it before the year 2020 and it actually becomes sadly true and thus, not funny.