Friday, July 24, 2009

Various Bits of Business

A quick update on some of the things going on:

I'll be finishing my story arc on the new DOCTOR WHO ongoing series within the next few months (they have me drawing issues 3-6), and then I'm taking a few months off from the comic book work to finish the Fade novel. I'll blog a bit on that process later, but for those people who have been asking me how work goes on the Fade material, I thought I'd post that little update.

In the meantime, there are a few possible comic book projects floating around for me to work on after the Fade novel is finally finished. Hopefully I'll have some details in the next couple of months, but as soon as I hear anything, I'll announce it here.

I'll also continue work on the Pilot Season project shortly. Just had to get caught up on my DOCTOR WHO work. For those of you who have been following it, I've finally decided on the fourth project I'll be proposing, and it's going to throw a bit of a monkey wrench into the voting so far.

I'm also happy to announce that I'll be doing covers for all three of Whitley Strieber's Vampire Trilogy books that are being re-issued by the fabulous Borderlands Press. The first cover has been online for a little while now, but I encourage everyone to check it out at the Borderlands Press website.

And for anyone who might be interested, I'm also looking into attending this year's World Fantasy Convention in San Jose, CA from October 29th to November 1st. I don't go to a lot of conventions, since I never feel like I can afford the time away from the art table, but I greatly enjoyed the WFC they held here in Saratoga Springs, and I've been waiting for a chance to go to another one.

Now Playing

by Christopher Fowler

Of course as soon as I got back from NECON, I had to get right back to work on my next issue of DOCTOR WHO for IDW. Never an easy transition, especially after Douglas Clegg fills your head with new and interesting ideas to apply to the novel you're working on. The writer side of my brain and the artist side of my brain don't always play well with each other, so some times the switch over is a lot less smooth than I would like.

Luckily, I'd downloaded the audiobook of Chris Fowler's THE VICTORIA VANISHES to my computer to keep me company while I fight with the latest batch of pages. I've said before how much I like Fowler's Bryant & May books, and this one -- the latest out in the States -- is no exception. I'm halfway through now, and enjoying it as much as the earlier books in the series. I've really come to like Tim Goodman, who has been the reader on all the Bryant & May books so far. Usually I prefer the author to read his own work, but Goodman does an excellent job with the various characters, each with their own distinctive voice.

Hopefully they'll have the next book in the series, BRYANT & MAY ON THE LOOSE, online before long. I've really come to rely on listening to these books, along with countless Doctor Who audios, while I'm drawing.

On The Nightstand

by F. Paul Wilson

Still recovering from my trip to Rhode Island last weekend for the annual Northeastern Writer's Conference (more commonly known as NECON). It's three and a half days of hanging out with writers, artists, editors, and a small group of fans, and one of my favorite events to attend.

Every year, the organizers set aside one night for a mass author signing, where everyone can buy books from their favorite authors and get them signed. I usually come back with a huge stack of books, and this year was no exception. One of the highlights of this year's stash was the new paperback edition of F. Paul Wilson's THE TOUCH.

As everyone who reads this blog knows, I'm a huge fan of F. Paul Wilson. His novel THE KEEP more or less sent me down the path of being a Horror/Dark Fantasy reader (and eventually writer) long before I'd ever even heard of Stephen King and Peter Straub, and his Adversary Cycle books remain personal favorites of mine. THE TOUCH is the third book in the cycle (at least in publishing order... it's actually the fourth in chronological order... but I'm an Adversary Cycle nerd and have to point thngs like that out at every possible opportunity) and while I've read my original paperback copy many times, it's been awhile since I've gone back for yet another go.

I started in on it the same night as the mass author signing, and I've only put it down to work, eat, hang out with the family, and occasionally sleep. I'd almost forgotten just how good this novel is. An interesting mix of Medical Thriller and Supernatural Adventure. And as smooth as Paul's writing is, I'm not sure I've ever seen it smoother than in THE TOUCH. His paragraphs flow so naturally, and the dialogue is particularly sharp in this novel.

As soon as I finished THE TOUCH last night, I was sorely tempted to jump straight into the next book in the cycle, REBORN (well... the next book in the publishing order of the cycle), but REBORN is about to be re-issued in a brand new trade edition just like THE TOUCH, so I think I'm going to wait for the new edition since I'll be buying it anyway. Can't help myself. Nothing like a new slick cover on one of your favorite books. It's a sickness, but one I've learned to enjoy.

Still, I might not be able to wait until September for my next dose of Paul's writing, even if it is something I've read many times before. Maybe it's time for me to dig back into THE KEEP once again.

But all the other books I picked up last weekend are begging to be read, as well. Ah, the choices. The choices.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

From The Closet: How To Be a Post-Modern Cartoonist

As many of you now know, I've been working on four issues of the new Doctor Who ongoing series at IDW, which has kept me pretty buried for the last few weeks. Since I haven't had any time to finish and scan the next installment of my Pilot Season project, I thought I'd put up another of the pages I discovered while cleaning out the art in my closet.

As far as I know, this is my first published comic book work, at least the first work that was published without a photocopier. I drew it when I was still in college, 19 or 20 years old, and apparently incredibly cynical, maybe even more so than what I like to think of as my Dark Years (i.e. my time in L.A.). It was published in the college literary annual, the name of which completely escapes me, though I'm pretty sure I still have a copy of it somewhere.

A few years later, I would make my 'professional' debut in the pages of Caliber Comics' NEGATIVE BURN anthology, but I guess you could say this short piece is where I really got my start.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Project News: DOCTOR WHO

For those of you who have been wondering about the secret project I've been talking about for the last few months, I'm very excited to be able to finally tell you that I've been drawing a four-part story in IDW Publishing's new DOCTOR WHO ongoing series.

As anyone who knows me or has read any of my blog entries is surely aware, I'm a huge DOCTOR WHO fan, so the assignment is a real thrill for me. And as excited (and a little terrified) as I am to be working with one of my favorite characters, I'm equally excited by the script I've been given. Tony Lee, who wrote the excellent DOCTOR WHO: THE FORGOTTEN is handling all of the writing for the ongoing series, with rotating art teams coming in to draw each story. My story starts with issue 3, which is in this month's Previews, with a September release date.

And the best part? Paul Grist is providing the covers. I'm a big fan of Paul's work so it's a dream come true to work on a project with him doing the covers. I'll be doing a couple of variant covers for the run (the piece above is the variant cover for #3), but I'd rather have the Grist covers.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

On The Nightstand

by Brian Lumley

I'm on the last leg of this issue of my secret project (which I hope will be public knowledge soon), so I don't have a lot of time to read, but I've still managed to make it through the first two books in Brian Lumley's NECROSCOPE series.

I hadn't really heard of Lumley before I went to work at Borders, but I'd vaguely heard of the first book in the series, NECROSCOPE, probably because there were a couple of NECROSCOPE comic books in the early 90's, including one at the company where I started out -- Caliber Comics.

Truth be told, I probably wouldn't have read any of these books if I hadn't developed a serious interest in learning how to write prose around the same time I started at Borders. I'd always read a lot of Horror, so I was pretty sure that if I was going to write anything it would be in that genre, so I started educating myself by reading as many Horror novels as I could get my hands on.

I read a lot books by authors I'd always loved, studying how the constructed sentences, paying attention to the flow of their plotting and the various ways they kept the narrative moving forward. When I'd finished with those, I started in on many of the classics of the genre, like THE EXORCIST, THE STEPFORD WIVES, ROSEMARY'S BABY, and others. And when I'd read as many of those as I could, I started in on the authors my favorite writers were always talking about, which led me to guys like Richard Matheson, Richard Laymon, Fritz Leiber, and Brian Lumley.

I tried some of Lumley's Cthulhu Mythos stories first, which to be honest, was a bit of a mistake. It's good stuff -- well-written and evocative -- but the NECROSCOPE series is where Lumley really seems to shine. His blend of Vampires and British espionage is original and engaging, written with his usual flair, but tackling old subjects in a new and interesting way. I burned through all of the NECROSCOPE books at the time, skipping over the VAMPIRE WORLD novels (which I thought were going to be more Fantasy than Horror) and the two LOST YEARS novels (since I have a hard time when an author goes back to do a new story stuck in the middle of a long series you've already gotten to the end of).

But with the DARK TOWER books finally read and back on the shelves in my office, I'm now on a mission to read all of the NECROSCOPE books -- including the ones I skipped first time through -- from the start of the series to the end, and I'm pleased to discover that I still enjoy Lumley's writing as much as I did when I first picked them up.

I'm not as interested in the Horror genre as I was when I started figuring out how to write prose, but I learned a lot about writing from reading Lumley. He's a tight plotter, excellent with characterization, and very good at the old pulp rule of "if your hero is in trouble, throw more trouble at them whenever possible". It's an entertaining way to write, and a lot of fun to read, especially when the writer creates a sympathetic and complex main character like Harry Keogh.

And seriously, how can any book with an exclamation point in the title not be entertaining. Pure Pulp fun written by a real master of the craft.