Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Original Art Requests

I'm going to put another big batch of original art up on my for sale blog to help with my mission to clear out the stacks of art in my office, not to mention the always helpful extra money to help cover the time off I'm going to be taking to finish the Fade novel. Trying to decide whether I should upload the art from my issue of STORMWATCH:PHD, more art from SUPERNATURAL:ORIGINS, the first issue's worth of pages from MIRROR'S EDGE, or random leftover pages from the NIGHTCRAWLER mini-series I drew. Not too mention the various pages I have from other projects that have been gathering dust in my office. There's a lot of original art to chose from, but if there's anything you'd like to see go up, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Original Art Update

Buried under week this weekend, so I still haven't had time to pull together the JOHNNY CHAOS pitch for my Pilot Season project, but I'll jump on it as soon as the issue I'm currently working on is wrapped up. Gonna' be a long week, though. Lots to do before I can put this issue to bed.

In the meantime, I've put all of the art from SUPERNATURAL: ORIGINS #1 up for sale my original art blog. Still hoping to get this stack of art out of my office, but every time I turn around, I find more pages from various projects. I'll post a few of my discoveries after I'm done with this week's work.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pilot Season: JOHNNY CHAOS layout

I've been buried under deadlines all week, but I found a little time to work on the next concept for my Pilot Season project, JOHNNY CHAOS. After looking through the old CHAOS material from my closet, I decided to make a few major changes, including turning Johnny into a teenager as opposed to the slightly cynical twenty-something from this projects earlier incarnations. I also found myself shifting his origin around a bit, since I'd stolen some of my ideas for Johnny and incorporated them into the FADE novel.

Now that I've got all of that sorted, here's a look at my design for the presentation piece I'm working up to go along with the new proposal. Hopefully I can steal a little time this weekend to do the finished piece.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

On The Nightstand

by Stephen King

I remember when the first Dark Tower book came out, and I remember reading in the afterword that King wasn't sure he'd ever finish the entire story, and I remember thinking that he HAD to, and that I HAD to be around to read it.

Well, he DID finish the story, and I AM around to read the rest of the books, but for some reason, I never did.

Don't get me wrong, I bought them all, and in hardcover, no less. But somehow, the burning desire to know how the story ended faded over the years. I got about halfway through the fourth book when it came out, set it down, and never picked it up again.

(Though I DID leaf through to look at all of the illustrations by the brilliant Dave McKean. I might have lost some of my need to finish the stories, but I'm not an idiot.)

The seven Dark Tower books have been sitting on the bookshelves in my office for years, gathering dust and mostly forgotten until a few months ago, when I took the 4th book down for another look at the little pen & ink illustrations McKean had done for the start of each section in the book. And suddenly, I realized that I actually needed to know how it all ended. I already a pretty good idea from the parts of DARK TOWER IV: WIZARD & GLASS I'd read years before, but I really wanted to know for sure.

I started with the beginning of book 4, realized I had no idea what was going on, and decided to start over with book 1. It's been long enough that the storytelling subtleties, not to mention large portions of the actual plot, are long gone from my memory, so it was like reading them for the first time.

To be honest, I stalled again in the middle of book 4, but after a long day of drawing, I was lying in bed, awake and worrying about my deadlines and had to do something with my brain other than thinking. So I picked it up, settled in for a few hours of reading, and finished it in one gulp. When it was done, I went into my office and grabbed the fifth book, WOLVES OF THE CALLA, and got it started before I lost momentum.

I don't have a lot of time for reading these days, but I downed WOLVES in a handful of big gulps. And without giving anything away, I'm pretty sure it's heading in the direction I thought it was, but that need to know how it all ends remains. In a strange way, I think I never really wanted it to end. And maybe that's why I avoided reading the last books when they finally came out.

I'm on book 6 now, SONG OF SUSANNAH, with book 7 still waiting for me. I'm not sure it can live up to the expectations of the teenager who first read THE GUNSLINGER, but one way or another, I'm going to find out.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


And here's the first of the four concepts for my Pilot Season project. For those who don't know, I've decided to take four projects that have been sitting in my closet for years and rework them into new proposals. Each week, I'll be putting a new one here on the blog, and whichever concept gets the best reaction will be turned into a 32-page one-shot.


DESTINY WALKER in "The Horror of Hartley Hall"

For centuries, the women of Destiny Walker's family have protected humanity from the evil forces waiting in the shadows. Armed with ancient magicks and forbidden knowledge, they have single-handedly held back the tide of darkness.

But the power that Destiny's family wields in battle carries its own dangers, and Destiny's mother -- tempted by the promise of even greater power -- turned her back on humanity and joined forces with the darkness.

Now Destiny is forced to assume her mother's place as humanity's guardian. Wary of the magicks that corrupted her mother, Destiny relies more on her wits and twin .45s than her supernatural inheritance.

But her promise to never use magic is put to its greatest test when Destiny investigates the death of Lord Hartley, a collector of rare artifacts. Hidden beneath his ancient manor house is a terrible secret that could turn the tide in the war against the darkness.

A secret somehow connected to Destiny's own mother.

Pilot Season: DESTINY WALKER pencils

Here's a peek at the rough pencils for the DESTINY WALKER presentation piece. Usually, I'll rough in the basic shapes and then add some detail later in another round of pencils before I ink a page. For the Pilot Season pieces, I'm planning on just doing a slightly more detailed rough like this one, and then added any additional detail in the inks. We'll see how well it works out.

Pilot Season: DESTINY WALKER layouts

Started in on laying out a presentation piece for the DESTINY WALKER one-shot I'll be proposing as part of my Pilot Season project. Still playing with some different ideas, but after researching various clothing options from the period, I've at least settled on a basic outfit for her.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pilot Season Preview (UPDATED)

Over the weekend, I finalized three of the four projects I'll be revising for my Pilot Season project. As I mentioned earlier, they're all based on pre-existing concepts from the boxes in my office, including one of my very first original characters, Johnny Chaos.

The first three projects are:

DESTINY WALKER, FREELANCE WITCH in "The Horror of Hartley Hall"

TWILIGHT & FENCHURCH in "The Black Pearl of Askotha"

JOHNNY CHAOS in "Ghost of the Machine"

I'm still debating what the fourth project will be. The 32-page limit is too short for a lot of the concepts I've been developing over the last couple of years, but there are still one or two that might work as short one-off stories.

I'll be posting the first Pilot Season proposal by the end of the week, so keep an eye out. Now I just need to find time to work up a presentation piece.

UPDATE: For the handful of people wondering what the longer projects that have been knocked out of the running were:

THE OCTOBER GIRL, a 90+ page graphic novel. Since I've already folded the main character into the FADE novel, this one will probably stay in the files unless I find a new approach to it that adds to FADE instead of taking away from it. And if I ever did it, I'd really rather have Michael Gaydos draw it.

FADE: SIGNS & WONDERS, a series of inter-connected short stories that began in NEGATIVE BURN. I abandoned this project three stories in when the FADE material started to go in a very different direction, but I still feel guilty that I never completed the story. This one I WILL do someday, but probably not until AFTER the novel is finished. And I'll have to completely redo the stories that have already appeared.

WALK THROUGH OCTOBER, a one-off graphic novella. This was one of my very first projects at Caliber in the early 90's. I put out a version of it that I wasn't entirely happy with (I was working for Disney and drawing an issue of STARMAN while working on it), and I've long been planning to expand it. I started work on a prose version of it that I intended to pitch as a heavily illustrated Middle Grade novel (I was hoping to talk the previously mentioned and disgustingly talented Michael Gaydos into doing the illustrations), but the idea for the FADE novel was coming together at the same time and I decided to focus on the new material instead of 'fixing' the old stuff. Still, I'd really like to do a new version of this story. It ties into FADE in an oblique way, so maybe after I'm done with the novel, I'll pull it out of the files again. I considered including this in the Pilot Season options, but if I did it as a straight-up comic book story, it would run to at least 90 pages, if not more.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


After selling a piece of SUPERNATURAL:ORIGINS art off the new website on the very first day (thanks, Brian!), I've added more pages from the first issue, including two double-page spreads.

Original Art Site (UPDATED)

With so much original art now sitting in piles on the floor of my office, I've set up a basic site where you can purchase some of these pages. Nothing fancy, but if you're looking for some of my art to hang on your wall, that's going to be the place to go until we work out something fancier.

I just added the first pages to the site, including all the black & white art from the MIRROR'S EDGE preview story we did for the 2008 San Diego Comic Con, along with the tryout pinup I drew for the game developers.

UPDATE 1: I've also added a pinup from the SUPERNATURAL: ORIGINS comic book I did for DC/WILDSTORM a while back.

UPDATE 2: And I've already sold my first piece. Cheers to my pal Brian for picking up the SUPERNATURAL: ORIGINS pinup!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

My Favorite Things

I've been following Guy Davis' work since his BAKER STREET days at Caliber Comics. I loved the way he and Gary Reed mixed my childhood hero Sherlock Holmes with a punk/proto-goth aesthetic to create something new and unique. And boy... was it unique. And very, very cool.

After I'd broken into the industry (through the very same Caliber Comics), I found out Guy was doing the SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE series at DC's new Vertigo line. Needless to say, I picked up every issue, with the exception of some that Guy didn't draw, which is ironic considering a few years later, I was one of the artists brought in to draw a fill-in story arc.

Somewhere along the way, Guy launched his own book, THE MARQUIS. It's jumped from publisher to publisher (Caliber to ONI to Dark Horse), but I've been following it from day one. Guy's work on any title is worth picking up and pouring over, but his work on THE MARQUIS is just exceptional. Not to mention the writing, which is as good as it gets. Always nice to find an artist who writes as well as he draws. It's becoming a rare combination these days.

As much as I love Guy's work on BPRD and other HELLBOY tie-ins (and boy do I love it), I wish he could just do THE MARQUIS full-time. Every time I hear a rumour about a new mini-series, I get ridiculously excited, even if I know the other work will take precedence over his creator-owned material. Still, it gives me something to look forward to whenever I go into the local comic book shop. You just never know when you'll come across a random MARQUIS one-shot that will totally make your year.

Now I hear there's a new collected edition of all THE MARQUIS material to date coming soon from Dark Horse. Can't wait. Even if I already have everything in the collection, my old editions are looking pretty threadbare by now. Whenever I run into a storytelling problem, or need a little inspiration, my old copies of THE MARQUIS are one of the places I always turn to for solutions.

On a personal note, I came very, very close to writing a book for Guy to draw at one of the 'Big Two'. Unfortunately, we lost our editor and the project fell apart. It's been almost 9 years since then, and I'm STILL in mourning. And yet, it's probably for the best... it would have been yet another project that kept Guy from working on THE MARQUIS.

Friday, June 5, 2009

My Own Private Pilot Season

So I've been thinking... I've got a bunch of potential work-for-hire projects coming down the pike, with a number of other possibilities floating around out there, but having dug all of this old art from projects that never went anywhere out of the closet, I'm thinking of taking one of them, re-doing it, and putting it out as a one-off special issue.

Whichever one I end up doing, it'll have to be short -- no more that 32 pages -- and relatively self-contained story-wise, which knocks a couple of contenders out of the running right off the bat. But that leaves at least 4 other concepts that I could develop into a one-shot.

The other limitation will be that the project has to lend itself to a quick and loose art style, since there's only so much time in the day and I would like to have a life outside of my job. Not to mention the fact that there are at least 2 people out there who will murder me unless I finish the Fade novel soon (Hi, Dan. Hi, Jim.). Luckily, the concepts I have in mind will all work with that kind of look.

So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to take 4 of the concepts I've got sitting around and work up short pitches for each of them, along with a pinup or sample cover to give an idea of what the main characters would look like, and then post them here on the blog. Whichever idea gets the best response will be the project I end up doing.

Once the project is chosen, I'll start working on it in-between my other projects, posting the progress as I go along, from sketches to final pages. And if it turns out well, I'll see about getting it published through one of the many great small press publishers out there. And if there are any small-press publishers (or even big-press publishers) out there who want in on this, drop me a line and we'll set something up.

I'll post the first project proposal next week, so keep an eye out. I'm going to try and put a new one up every week, and have the final choice by the end of the month. Obviously, feel free to check them out and let me know what you think of the various options. The final decision will be down to you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

From The Closet: DESTINY WALKER (Updated)

Yet another concept that's been kicking around a while. DESTINY WALKER, FREELANCE WITCH began life back when I was working with Mike Mignola on some HELLBOY stories. I created it as something for Ryan Sook (whose early work on the SPIKE & DRU series had just come out) to draw, but the similarities to HELLBOY were a little too on the nose, and the project never went anywhere. Luckily, Ryan came in to ink me on the first Lobster Johnson short story, KILLER IN MY SKULL, so we did get to work together at least once.

A long while later, an editor friend of mine was exploring the idead of doing manga-style graphic novels from American creators for the American and Japanese market. Never one to turn down a challenge, I dusted off the DESTINY WALKER idea and tried to fit it into the manga format, up to and including some tweaks to my art style at the time. Above is one of the storytelling pages I produced for the proposal. Unfortunately, my editor friend moved on from the company shortly after I sent him the pitch and I never heard back on the idea.

A few years ago, while casting about for something of my own to work on, I dusted DESTINY off once again and reworked it as another of my 1930s supernatural heroes projects, which actually worked much better for me and for the character. I pitched it around to a few people with the high-concept tag line "HELLBOY meets SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE", but again, the fact that it was a period piece was a mark against it and the revised DESTINY WALKER, FREELANCE WITCH ended up back in the files with all the other concepts that I just can't seem to give up on.

UPDATE: And here's a peek at one of the 1930s DESTINY WALKER sketches I did while preparing the new version of her.

From The Closet: THE MAGIC AGE

I'd been pitching an idea to DC for years where we'd take all the magical characters that were running around before the dawn of superheroes and do a story that was their last big adventure before the 'guys in capes' came along. I thought of it as a companion piece to James Robinson and Paul Smith's excellent THE GOLDEN AGE. I of course had to call it THE MAGIC AGE. Since it was a period piece (set in the late 1930s) with a bunch of characters that had mostly migrated over to the Vertigo line, the project never really gained any traction.

At some point, I decided to try and do the same idea but with my own characters, much like Alan Moore had done with the old Charlton characters and WATCHMEN. Needless to say, I'm no Alan Moore, and while the concept still held some interest for me, the story lost some of its emotional punch without Doctor Occult, the Spectre, and all the rest.

I began work on a preview story with my own characters and got so far as actually starting on some of the art before realizing it wasn't quite coming together for me. The above is one of two surviving pages-in-progress. Never inked the backgrounds, but I'd already put a lot of work into the figures.

Years later, I salvaged some of the characters for a book at Crossgen, which would (after Crossgen folded) become the TWILIGHT & FENCHURCH story I've already posted a few pages from.

These ideas just get stuck in my head and never let go. I'll do a 1930s supernatural heroes book at some point. And I suspect whatever form it takes, the basic idea will have originated in this old MAGIC AGE story.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

On The Nightstand

SECRET WINDOWS: Essays and Fiction on the Craft of Writing
by Stephen King

I'd never heard of this book before my friend Dan and I were poking around the dealers room at the last NECon. It's a companion book to King's ON WRITING, which for my money is one of four books about writing that are worth reading.

(I think I've mentioned them before, but for me, the best books on writing are King's ON WRITING, Ray Bradbury's ZEN AND THE ART OF WRITING, Tom Monteleone's COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO WRITING A NOVEL, and David Morrel's LESSONS FROM A LIFETIME OF WRITING. I'd definitely add SECRET WINDOWS to that list.)

Dan snatched up the copy sitting on one of the dealer's tables, but luckily there was another copy in a box somewhere. Otherwise, a fight might have broken out. It's an exceptionally rare book, released by the Book of the Month Club and never reissued in a regular edition. Probably why I'd never heard of it.

Being the kind of guys we are, we both stayed up late that night, drinking beer and reading this book, which (as the sub-title helpfully suggests) is a collection of essays, speeches, and lectures from King about the art and business of writing. I'd read a few of them in other places, particularly the long section on Horror fiction from DANSE MACABRE reprinted here, but there is more than enough new material to make it worth hunting down.

As I prepare to launch back into major work on the FADE novel, I started re-reading SECRET WINDOWS, looking for a little inspiration. Plenty to be found here. King talking about writing is always fascinating, and the introduction by Peter Straub is equally engaging.

From The Closet: Sketch 2

Another sketch from the supernatural book that I wanted to pitch to Wildstorm. Again, I used a photo as the backbone of the piece, but I wasn't happy with the way the face turned out, so I never showed it to my editor as far as I know.

Looking at the sketch now, I kind of like the hand and the overall look of the piece. Maybe I was being too picky about the face.

The smaller a piece is, the harder it is for me to get what I want out of a face. I've worked out a few tricks for drawing small faces over the years, but when I'm working with a new technique -- like using photos -- I have to figure out all new tricks that fit with that technique.

I think the photo reference look works best with more shadows on the faces. Or maybe it's just that more shadows looks cooler with almost any kind of art technique.

From The Closet: Sketch 1

I've been finding a lot of random things in with the pages from my closet. Not sure when I did this particular sketch, but I think it was part of a pitch I'd originally intended for Wildstorm.

It's also an early attempt at using a photograph as the basis for the drawing. I like the way the shadows worked out, so if I ever use photos on a regular basis, I might have to play with this kind of dramatic lighting.

If I remember correctly, I was hoping to pitch a supernatural mini-series to my editor, but it fell more within Old-School Vertigo territory than anything Wildstorm was doing at the time.

Still, I might recycle a couple of the ideas and create something new out of it. I've forgotten most of the plot-points by now, so I'd have to rebuild it from scratch, unless the old pitch is buried in closet, as well.