Monday, August 28, 2006

Milwaukee Art Museum

Here are a couple more shots from my pilgrimage to the Masters of American Comics show in Wisconsin. (Saying that still feels odd, somehow).
The building is TRULY amazing from the outside and is equally impressive once inside. The stagnant aesthetes of Chicago architecture should take note.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

An Egg, Cavalier

I'm always guarded about what I know and what I post; don't want any spoilers. A contributor at did some research and has begun to uncover some good stuff on Mr.D.
I love Fables fans. They're notch above the rest, I say.
Here's a sketch of Mr.D during his work-up. Before Shelly Bond had me lose the jaunty chappeau.

Barely Sane's Hootenanny

My friend and contemporary, the talented Mr. Barry "Insane-in-the-Membrain" Crain is blogging. 'Bout time.
Go give/receive devas...

More Character Work-ups

Hey. Throwing out some more initial stabs at JoF. These are a few pages of character documents. Old Sam only rated a page in the moleskine as I had a pretty good idea of where I wanted to go with him. Whereas, Pris has more sheets than Goldie and Jack combined. The extra/ failed attempts at Pris Page either became the basis for Robins' appearance or a germ for the likely look of the "Third Page"...
I still get a kick out of seeing how I began chasing Goldie. I thought that putting a wrench in her hand would make her sinister and threatening; it only made her look capable. Shelly insisted on loosing the "big hair" (good thing). Had to move away from the whole atheletic goddess thing and think more whining malcontent. Bingo.
If you read Issue 22 of Fables, "Cinderella Libertine", then you may know that I chose to draw Cinder with a petite frame.
This departure from previous versions of her was simply my riff on her story. Cinder wasn't a tall amazon; she was, for lack of a better word, the runt.
If I were drawing a book that allowed me to exploit the superhuman dimension, I would. But one of the things I really enjoy about Fables is the variation on the human body types.
So Goldie comes off a bit fuller in these sketches, and really trims up a bit on the actually page (I imagine that she vents a good deal of her spite through cardio training).
The Bagmen were based on old KKK outfits from the 1860's, then reigned in a bit because it was freaking me out. Then Bill requested the goggles to be added and tada!
The thing over M.Thenardier is a noodle for Babe's Cow, er...OX bell.
Mary, Mary indeed.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Jack of FABLES, Issue#2 Pencils

As StrongBad would say, "Holy Crap!".
I can't believe the second issue is aight. Well, this will gimme an excuse to lope down memory avenue and do my best not to unsheath any spoilers or mix any metaphors. When first given the script Shelly was ready to bet that I had never in a million years thought that I'd be drawing Humpty Dumpty. Well, Shellers...I have drawn Humpty before. It was for an "ASYLUM" story back in the early 90's. It was weird, weird, weird; and THAT HD really still gives me the creeps. I'll post examples of that art at a later date so that this present specimen of the Eggy One can enjoy the spotlight on his own.

Costuming is one of my favorite things when doing historical related stories; research is HOT kids, don't do drugs! The original costume for D-man had a fashionable hat, as was vogue for the period. But Shelly felt that the brim, though pimpin', was detracting from the egginess of the character. She was right. As far as "the period" goes, you're on your own for discovering when that may be. I can't tell you.
Ha! See? Panel three? Goddamned chainlink fence...RRWWWAARRR!!!!
What!? German Tape AND Barbed wire? No way am I keeping this up...Although the cut tape gives a nice "creeping thorny vine" feel.

Mr. D's morphology is tied to the level of stress he is exposed to while held at the Golden Bough. A bit like a skin condition, his shell continually cracks and chips as he emotes giving him that great distressed look.

Coming up with a servicable floorplan for the cottages that lined the terraced valley of the GBRC worried (bothered) me. Only because one can never be too sure of how much of the story was going to happen within the walls of one of these buildings. The up-side being that they were all identical save for a few "personal" touches of the residents.
You have to go with thatched roofing with this bunch.

I swear that the placement of Goldie's specs in panel one was a happy accident.

It's the hatchet cleaving locks of hair from Goldies' head that makes me wince. There's a documentary about the bloodiest day at the Indie 500 or maybe it's Daytona...a pit crewman is stuck by a rescue vehicle on it's way to assist a driver (who's already dead as it turns out), the camera just catches the poor guy rolling sickeningly across the tarmac; that's what I was thinking about in panel five.

Remember that shot of Shelly Winters in the river (no not in the Posiedon Adventure) during "Night of the Hunter"...Yeah, still freaks me the fuck out; the current moving by her as she sat dead in the buggy.
Clouds looking more "sheeplike" every panel, Fred.

We lost the large fish near the top of panel one (I was hungry). Revise got, uh...revised in panel two. He's Clifton Webb meets David Niven. I try to convey a sense of 30's panache to his attire and surroundings; hence the feel of the yachting party.
Still having some "plastic' issues with Jack.

Don't let's start...

I have this friend who has a coupla kids. One of the kids, when he was 5-6, used to hump the carpet. He didn't know what he was doing, really. He'd just be playing on the floor or watching tv...then he'd get the urge, like a dog I guess. Thing is, he'd didn't care who was around. His mom would say, "Billy, that's UPSTAIRS behavior!" The kid would lurch up the stairs to his room, I guess. Panel five looks like there's some upstairs behavior going on.

God I wish I had put some paintings on the walls...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Roadtrip: Milwaukee Art Museum

What do you know? The Thunderbirds just happened to be practicing that day; BONUS!
Secretly I had always imagined that I'd become a world famous manpurse model...

A highlight of this brief summer was a trip to see the Masters of American Comics exhibit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The show was outstanding. Many other comic pros that got a chance to see it said the same. Just seeing the original Winsor McKay Li'l Nemo art was thrilling; the Herriman Krazy Kat pages; transcendental...
I'll post some interior shots of this AMAZING building, but for now here are some exterior shots as the approach was made.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What MY Summer Looks Like...

While the "Phat Cave" (my lab and lair) is out of commission (it's TRULY a cave, with the front being completely boarded up waiting, waiting for the weeks-long installation of windows (not the Operating System, but close)), I've been working from home.
The view may account form some of the perspectives seen in the comicbook that I draw.
The view is nice, but relentless; I'm forever distracted by some detail miles away; or the clarity of the fiddle player who's presently playing a Civil War era lament, 400 feet down and a block and a half to the west. Now if I could only call in artillery...

I've spent NO time outside...I haven't worn shorts or flip-flops.

Yes, that's a pool. Have I been down there? What do you think?

I'm an Autumn person anyway.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


By the second-third week in June (at this latitude, at least) the Northern Catalpas are in full bloom. Summer really has not arrived in Chicago until this happens. Yes, I have certain NCs that are my that a PROBLEM? >8~(
This particular tree is at the corner of Waveland and Wayne and impressive because there's a healthy covering of Wrigleyville (it's in Lakeview West, actually) Ivy covering it's trunk.. Considered a "dirty tree" because of the amount of detritus it creates throughout the season (long seed pods, dropped blossums and the large spade-shaped leaves) this badboy grows fast and gives great shade; plus it's got great character! Hmm, maybe that's not Ivy...
OK, "Squidbillies" is on...Later.
Damn..I've seen it...

Friday, August 11, 2006

More JoF Work-up Art

Some more art retrieved from the work-up stack for JoF#1. There are several more pages of Goldilocks, but the one below, even though I didn't finish inking some of the figures, hit the nail on the head. It's was the idea for the poolside shot of her; kind of Lolita; kind of film noir femme Chuck Taylors...and topless, reading some quasi-leftist tome (if allowed). The sort of annoyingly sexified and distracting thing this whackjob would do around the GB. The following character studies were spot-on, too. She wound up a little sexier on the actual page; but these drawings are really when I "got her".

The Golden Bough crest we see on official uniforms (like Old Sams') around the facility.

Jack Horner Character Work-ups

After finding out that I had been picked as the regular penciller for Jack (which didn't even have a title at this point), all I had as far as work were the initial character designs. It's the general process of submitting and resubmitting, then slyly doing whatever seems to work out over the course of the characters natural "evolution" on the page. I notice that early on, I drew Jack in a lot of unflattering low-angle shots. I believe I may have stopped that at this point.
Here are the first passes fo Mr. Horner. I saw him as being up to no good(as usual), so a shovel seemed to be in order; Cool Hand Luke.

For some reason I thought that Paul Pope would work...the ladies like Paul Pope. My intern at the time, Caitlin McKay and my longtime studiomate Jill Thompson would Ooo and Aah over photos of Pope in some interview I figure why not give it a shot. I guess I thought having him pose by a water fountain would re-enforce his badassedness.
This is the final "close-enuf" sheet. He's pretty pretty here. So you'll notice as I read the final script and got to know JH a little better I made some changes on the fly; dropped the hairline nearer the brow, etc.
Man, a little short on the leg-length there...Oh well.


Pencils; Jack of Fables ONE

Well, all the feedback on JoF#1 has been really good! I've read at least 20 reveiws(most of them linked via the Fabletown Community, thank you Cindy McShane) and they're very positive. All I can say is, "Man, just wait!"
Here are the first tentatvie pencils for the series. Strange how one becomes "seated" over the course of drawing a featured character. Jack began, with no gentle prodding from my Editorial Deity, Shelly Bond, to capture the essenced of a particular badboy on a certain network show which has an "L" as it's leading letter. OK. This after I had already made some stabs at the look of Jack. I've drawn him before, in an entire unpublished issue of "Fables"... So I had tackled with Mr. Horner before.
Eventually, Brad Pitt became a sort of mental-picture mantra, generally, as I drew the book. Now, finishing issue number EIGHT of the series, Jack has taken on more of a Matt Dillon mookishness, than the Pitt "Legends of the Fall" rebel.
At any rate, enjoy the scratchings below.
For some reason, it was very urgent that I complete Page 5 first. Something Bill requested. I'm fairly methodical and linear when I work from a script; I like running from page one through twenty-two. Only deviating from page sequence if there's a snag with the layout approval or if I git just plain yeller before some insane request from Matt and Bill; which, I know, is my faoult for encouraging them by going all out when they ask for something, "OMG, this fool will actually DRAW a field of thousands of sunflowers singing!"
(Don't even think about it you two)
So, we start with page 5.
WTF is up with the suspension on that van!?
Ah! Note the switch-out of Jacks' ubiquitous briefcase. Originally the crew (Bill) wanted something unique and unsual for Jacks' journey. Then we (Bill) decided to go with something more standard..It was a good call, no? I mean, what are those bellows on the sides? Jeez.
One of the great things about "Fables" is the l'petite motif features that Bucky adds to the layouts; the themed accents that trim the pages or harbors the page number. Astounding stuff, right?
Well you're never ever going to see that in JoF. Just forget about it. I tried; see? There at the bottom? The reel of film, decoratively unravelling? Enjoy THAT because that little nuance is EXTINCT after this page. Hats off to Bucky, though.
There's taht case again. I really am glad that the decision was made to have it be a standard briefcase. We thought that Jack would collect this like travel labels and such,. I mean, WHAT the hell kind of Samsonite crap was I thinking?
OK that cloud thing starts here...Fred Schiller claims that they're Chuck Jones Sheep without the little black legs and faces. I'll buy that. Prince Charming is shown circa 1840. I do a shitload of Googling to find authentic costume. Oh, Bill and Shelly didn't think I could pull off Bigby blowing out the Fabletown conflagration while in his lupine morphology...and LOOK! See what I can accomplish when I'm not on the sauce?
OK, now we're talking. This page rolled out well enough; Pris is still unfamiliar to me...
...but I love how familiar she is with the Sig Sauer here, particularly panel two.
This early in a book, pray for these happy accidents. Watch the "cloud thing" starts over these next pages; a cross between Portugese Men-o-War and molars.
Heh,...Idiot move, no? I love it!

So what's wrong with you neck?

So notice here that Jack does not have that X-RAY dealie happening with his arm yet. That's something Bill and Shelly requested later. His face here in panel 4 is a little ferretish..mmm
Here's more testimony that it takes a village to draw a comic (sometimes)...We could'nt be sure of what type of facial hair the Pathetic Fallacy would be sportin'...Matt initial reguested, per the character document, that PF would be like a college math professor complete with goatee. Everybody hmm'd and haww'd for a week until we decided to nix the lip-throw; the nose-coaster; the filtrum-filter; the two-caterpillars-snoggin-over-the-tunnel...
(See Below), here we start with the phuckin' chain-link fences!!!
Bill SWEARS that he has a map of the Golden Bough; it's penned by pixies on the thigh of Thai Princess. Seriously.
So now in the GB, we start to see the kind of facility this is; some of the individuals in the background are just wags at characters; unusual enough to pass for fables but vague enough to invite speculation and possible character assignment later. There's the Tinman, of course...Not too close to the MGM character.
When first told about the Golden Bough Trustee, Old Sam, I thought to draw from (muse over, not actually draw in likeness) Morgan Freeman's character in "Shawsank Redemption". Everyone thought that was a good enough call. So I imagine Freeman's cadance in speech and motion when I render Old Sam.
In Panel One, per the script, that's the starving street urchin of Victorian England, Little Tommy Tucker and the Cat and the Fiddle (geniune 11th century fiddle). I know, what's up with the Cat in the Kilt? Hey, I just draw, lady.

Hilarity DEFINATELY ensues...