Blog Hop

Hi, Readers, Friends, and Curious Bystanders!

I haven’t updated this particular blog in a while, but I haven’t forsaken it, either.  For my grand return I’m taking part in the blog hop. It’s sort of like a chain letter for the power of good.  I was asked to participate by the former link in the chain, my wife Benita at her blog basicallybenita.com.  Her answers are well worth reading as well.  To participate, one must answer the following four questions:

Question One: “What am I working on?” This is pretty straightforward.  I’m continuing to to format the third “Johnny Saturn” graphic novel for publication, as well as writing future Johnny Saturn stories, painting a picture, tackling the drawing of hundred different faces in a hundred days, a Johnny Saturn game resource and series bible, a prose anthology, and more.  My slate is full.  Most of my attention goes toward my self-published Johnny Saturn work, because I believe that is what I’ll be remembered for. I also have a collection of digital textures I’m collecting for publication, and I also take time out to mentor artists in training.

Question Two: “How does my work differ from others of its genre?” This is a tough one.  I could say that my take on the superhero genre (because that’s what “Johnny Saturn” is) is character based focusing on metaphorical politics, mental illness, social trends, and perhaps a bit of a deconstructionist view of the genre overall.  Other comics have done these things individually, but not in this mix.  My heroes and villains are hard to tell apart, because they all have flawed motivations and a gray moral scale that they are willing to bend as needed.  Murder for love? Revenge for righteousness?  Another difference is that the supers (or “metas” as we call them) change and/or update costumes regularly, because who never changes their clothes?  None of my characters wear spandex or Lycra–their super uniforms are practical and much more realistic.  Another difference is that violence and injury are far more realistic–I’m somewhat offended by bloodless fictional fighting, and believe that we do no service to our young people if they think that fighting is as real and relatively safe as professional wrestling.  Violence has consequences.  Death and crippling are very real possibilities.  Well, I could go on about all this,  but lets put it this way–in the great scheme of things, my writing is more like Warren Ellis or Grant Morrison than Stan Lee’s.

Question Three: “Why do I write/create what I do?”This is a tough one.  When things get hard, and life offers lots of excuses to stay away from being creative, it’s easy to wonder why we do the things we do.  Is it pride in being one of the elect, the storytellers who entertain others and share our views? Is it a need to actively pursue anything we are interested in and enjoy, like writing or comics? Is it a desire for a personal legacy, a creative thing that could outlive us?  Is it the reaction of people who read our work and reward us with their appreciation, confirming our self value? Is it a restless imagination that will not be silenced, and the frustration and depression that come from a stymied, blocked creative drive.  For me, it’s all of those.  All.

More specifically, if you were to ask me why I create fantasy and superhero stories, that’s easy.  Those are the things I’ve dug since I was a kid.  I grew up on geek culture before it became mainstream.  I was was one of the fanboys who didn’t get the girls, and made up for it with tales of Elric, or Captain Kirk, or Gandalf, or Hercules, or… Well, you get the idea.

Question Four: “How does my writing/creative process work?” It wasn’t always this way, because I used to try to move the wet noodle with a bulldozer, and force creativity into a mold.  Those days are decades past now.  Now, I let stories come to me.  I don’t write them down, because the good ideas stay and grow, and bad ones fall away.  Sometimes two or three ideas will grow together into something really unusual and interesting.  I don’t force it.  I don’t write them down because that merely spends their energy and gives you permission to never pursue them.  The ideas are ready when they are ready, no sooner.  If you try to force them to become ready, they disintegrate into unreadable muck.  I no longer read any books on storytelling, or dialogue, or writing at all.  It has to be organic and flourish on its own–it’s not about my skill as a designer of plots.  If I have to rely on my skill, then it’s stilted unlovable crap I produce.  Instead, you nourish it by leaving those ideas alone until they are good and ready to kick in the door.

Over the years my drawing techniques have become much the same.  I don’t do thumbnails and charts and research or any of that.  The pictures come to me whole, and I practice life drawing from what I see in my mind.  If I try to construct the drawing, compose it by all the rules and armatures and fleshing out, it looks like stilted crap.  Stiff and stupid and immature.  That stuff is rubbish.  I can see whatever I’m drawing in my mind’s eye in pretty good resolution (usually), and I can rotate and rearrange the scene, change the lighting and colors, and pick what I want to draw.  Once it’s on paper I almost always rearrange it some, because the mere act of getting it sketched in offers up ways I can improve it.  In other words, there is little that is mechanical to my drawing process–it’s organic through and through, and I feel the emotions charging through me almost as if I was there, on the paper and in the picture.

Scott Story

 

 

More Cool Artists Links!

Note, I don’t really include writers’ links, because the whole flippin’ world is a big writer’s link.  If you need plot prompts or character naming sources or world creation help, then I’m probably not the guy to ask.  But, when it come to art, I’m there, baby! Whoo!

Web GL Water

Photo Editor Online (much like Photoshop)

Perspective Tool (In Japanese, but still useful)

Silk

Neon Flames

Figure Drawing Practice

Turbosquid

Gravestone Symbolism

Observations, Artists’ Links, Etc.

Hi, All:

I just got done using the panel creation tools, 3D figure tools, and the texture creation or registration tools in Manga Studio 5 Ex.  These took a couple of hours to get familiar with an to actually put into use, but this was a first time exploration, and it was easy enough that I didn’t have to refer to the manual or tutorial videos.  I think this will go pretty fast in the future.  I learned the how to use the lettering balloons the other day, and those too had an initial learning curve, but all was well pretty early on.  I also had some specific lessons to learn in using their incredibly useful vector tools, but happiness was the result.

Here’s a tutorial I made from one of my more recent projects:

Image

 

Short Movie Review

I just watched the indie film “All Superheroes Must Die.”

There’s some excellent writing in this–you can tell the writer wasn’t writing an indie film. He was writing something with emotional resonance, and bigger than life moments, and endings to long histories that we can only guess at. Honestly, some of the words were touching and powerful.

There’s a Frank-Milleresque crime noir element to this movie. The soundtrack is good, the production values relatively good. Three of the five leads were really good, and their acting was real and even memorable.

Now, as for the criticisms… As a creator of indie entertainment material myself, and as a writer who sometimes tries to transcend my medium and the resources I have at hand, I don’t feel like chopping this movie up for it’s flaws. I believe this crew gave 110% effort to make something of substance. In many ways they succeeded, so I give “All Superheroes Must Die” a positive grade.

Cool Stuff. Really.

Here’s some more outstanding resources for the imaginative digital artists out there. And, if that’s not you, then here are some fun toys to divert yourself with.  Whatever. I’m cool with it.

FaceGen Modeler 3D

Flashface

Project Dogwaffle

Escape Emotion (First and second one are particularly cool)

Ethnic Skintones

Ka-Boom

3D Anatomy Models

Text-Image Converter

The Pencil

Pattern8

CGTextures

There is no excuse if you wish to create.

 

Yo, I say. Just Yo.

So much on my mind, so little cohesiveness to it… Sad really…

*Benita and I have been watching a British TV show called Time Team, a sort of archeology reality show hosted by Tony Robinson of “Black Adder” Baldric fame.  Very clever, really, as plans go.

*I am working on a series of pictures that simply kick ass, pictures which in different combinations will be our behind-the-table vertical banner, the cover to our third trade paperback, and a series of bookmarks.  This unusual set got me really excited, because I was dreading the banner.  I’ve never worked that large, after all.  Sorry, you can’t see them yet.  You’ll dig them, though.

*I’ve almost waited the requisite week to see the latest episode of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. It’s a pain in the ass, but no so painful as the prospect of actually finding a normal tv and turning it on when the show originally aired.  I have a life, after all.  My evenings are devoted to my wife and getting to bed early.

*My Acid Reflux is really kicking my ass lately, and I’m in the process of changing my diet.  Eating is not as much fun as it used to be, but I don’t like being in discomfort all the time. “Discomfort,” in this context, means that I hurt so badly I can’t sleep and can barely concentrate.  But, I’m getting better.  This problem killed my Uncle Buddy, or at least directly led to his passing, and I don’t want to be a repeat performance.

*I’m designing a fictional magic system for a fantasy series I’m working on.  You’ve probably seen hints of it in Johnny Saturn as my thoughts on all this have firmed up over the years. My ideas on this are pretty revolutionary and paradigm shifting, and it all dates back to a rather odd night in Chicago in 2008.  Oooh, cryptic…. But not sinister.  Get your mind out of the gutter.

*I don’t talk negatively about other artists, living or dead.  I have been fans of some of them so long that I’ve begun to see flaws or stylistic traits that bug me.  This artist deadens his beautiful paintings with too much black, that artists is inconsistent on how many heads tall his characters are, and this other artists parodies cute girls to the point that they look like aliens.  No, I’m not naming names, and I still love these artists, but some of the sheen has gone off the polish, or some such.

Be cool, and Yo. Just Yo.