Yesterday I received my copy of Doug TenNapel’s Sketchbook Archives in the mail, and man is it gorgeous. The book is the result of Doug’s incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign from October of 2012 to collect some of the best pieces from over 40 of his sketchbooks spanning nearly 30 years of his career.
Because of the enormous success of his Kickstarter my $30 sketchbook quickly became a staggering beauty of a book featuring a foil stamped, leather-bound cover with a ribbed spine, and heavy weight, premium-stock, gold gilded interior pages. This book would look right at home in the personal library of a much better read man than me. A library where imported cigars are smoked regularly, and paired with well aged scotch poured neat in expensive crystal glasses, while well-informed debates covering important topical matters are discussed amongst gentlemen. But instead, my copy was denied its birthright of superiority and resides on the Ikea bookcase in my office amidst the other carefully selected pieces of my adult(ish) library of fancy comic book collections, art books, and popular fiction.
Since I only received the book yesterday I haven’t made it all the way through its densely packed pages of awesome, but since I’ve been waiting on this book for about 7 months (one of the draw-backs of backing a Kickstarter publisher) I dove into its content almost immediately after opening its shipping box. For fans familiar with Doug TenNapel’s work, a lot of the content of this book will seem familiar. Several of his popular graphic novels can be seen in this book during their infancy, showing us major plot lines before they were retooled or completely cut from the final, finished draft. Seeing some of Doug’s unfiltered process laid out in detail for some of my favorite stories has been my absolute favorite thing (so far) about enjoying this behemoth of a book.
And trust me, this thing is every bit a behemoth…
I’m sure it’s going to take me a while to get through this thing, seeing as every page so far has been worthy of careful, detailed analysis to uncover all the subtle nuggets of detail fans like me bought it for in the first place. Not to mention the sheer beauty of some of the illustrations found in the pages of this book. I’ve pored over some of the compositions I’ve seen already at least a dozen times in just my first 48 hours enjoying it. There’s nearly 300 pages contained in the Sketchbook Archives, and I’m not rushing the experience. I’m sure the book will see multiple revisits over the years, and why shouldn’t it, this thing was built to last.
Because of their special place in my heart, I do tend to be overly critical of the physical condition of the books in my collection. Which leads me to my only negative criticism of Doug TenNapel’s Sketchbook Archives. Due to the way my copy was packaged there are several spots on the back cover and spine where the leather was scuffed during shipping. These are nit-picky complaints, that are only validated by their small (nearly inconsequential) effect on the rest of the overall stunning quality of this book. Perhaps if there was something between the book and its cardboard shipping box to prevent friction during the shipping process this could have been avoided. But, for $30 (plus an extra $10 at the end to off-set some unexpected shipping snafus) this book was an absolute bargain, blemishes and all.
According to his Kickstarter updates Doug TenNapel ordered a few extra copies of the Sketchbook Archives to sell at convention appearances in the near future. He hasn’t mentioned a price yet that I’ve seen, but be certain it’s not (and very well shouldn’t be) priced as low as some of us got it for while funding his Kickstarter. When compared side-by-side with several of the “premium” comic collections on my shelf (Dark Horse Comic’s Hellboy: Library Edition [$50], DC’s Absolute New Frontier [$75], IDW’s The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures [$75], and Fantagraphic’s Usagi Yojimbo: Special Edition Hardcover [$100] to name a few) Doug TenNapel’s Sketchbook Archives more than holds it’s own. This book certainly matches the quality of the finer books in my collection, even surpassing a lot of them in several ways.
Overall, I’m really satisfied with Doug TenNapel’s Sketchbook Archives. Even with the long, long wait of a Kickstarter funded printing, this book far exceeds my expectations in every way. I strongly urge you, should the opportunity ever arise, to pick up your own copy of this fantastic sketchbook collection. For added detail, by way of bragging about having a copy of my own, I’ve included some photos showing off the awesome quality of this book.
Aw Yeah Comics! Issue #1 was just released digitally from Comixology, and I couldn’t be more excited. In part, because Aw Yeah Comics is the brain child of some of my favorite cartoonist (Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani of Tiny Titans fame) but also because I had the extreme pleasure of contributing to this issue.
My good friend Marc Hammond is the manager of Aw Yeah Comics (the comic book shop) in Skokie, IL, which he co-owns with Art and Franco. Marc and I met several years ago when we both lived in Central Florida. We both eventually set out from there to follow our dreams, mine leading me to San Diego and cartooning, and Marc’s to the suburbs of Chicago running his own comic book shop. During these hard, pioneering years of our journeys our collective struggles have endeared us to one another. We’ve celebrated success, encouraged the other through setbacks, and commiserated on the strain of living far from your family and friends.
Not too long ago, Marc emailed me a script he’d written for a one page, Public Service Announcement inspired, strip for Aw Yeah Comics! Issue #1. Although I’m pretty busy with my own projects, the opportunity to be in an anthology comic which will feature Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani was too good to pass up. The assignment was full-color, which isn’t something I have a lot of experience with, but overall I’m mostly satisfied with how everything turned out.
To give you guys a look into my process, I wanted to show you the evolution of one of the panels from the illustration all the way from script to finished, colored art.
Step 1.) Script from Marc
Panel 3- Adventure Bug is running from cartoony bug zombies.
Step 2.) Thumbnails
Step 3.) Tight Pencils (Faber Castell 2H on Strathmore 300 series smooth bristol)
Step 4.) Inks (Pigma Micron felt tip markers over tight pencils, eventually the pencils are removed in the computer using Photoshop)
Step 5.) Coloring and Lettering (Flat colors created using Photoshop, with a lettering effect created in Adobe Illustrator)
Issue #1 of Aw Yeah Comics! is available now from Comixology with a print version available at Marc’s store Aw Yeah Comics in Skokie, IL.
I’ve known Daniel Wheatfall for a little under two years, and have the extreme pleasure of counting him amongst my friends. Daniel is an incredibly talented Motion Graphic artist (check out his portfolio here), and over the course of our friendship I’ve grown to truly admire his body of work. On occasion I’ve had flights of fancy where I’ve imagined Daniel and I collaborating together, but since we both have pretty hectic schedules I assumed a collaboration between us to be just that, fantasy. However, a little over a week ago happenstance brought Daniel and I together and I’m excited to say it was to create a motion comic from Issue No. 0 of Your Cold Felt Heart.
We’re still in production so don’t press us for a hard release date, just know it’s coming sooner rather than later. As of now Daniel’s about halfway through creating the animations for the issue, and they’re absolutely amazing. We couldn’t keep a lid on this all the way until it’s completion, so we put together a little teaser trailer for you to enjoy in the meantime.
I’m really excited for this project, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you.
I took a trip back home to see my family on the East Coast recently. While on my vacation Brad, a new fan of my work, purchased several books from my Etsy store. This created a problem that I had not prepared for. Luckily, Brad was really cool and patient. To reward him for his general coolness and patience I drew this commission piece for him and included it with his order.
In the notes from his purchase he had requested a “sexy sci-fi girl” sketch, and using that as my inspiration I got to work on the composition. I’m a tremendous fan of vintage “pin-up” and “good girl” illustrations. Although I don’t feel that I have the gift for drawing women with all the beauty and respect they deserve, I was excited about channeling my love of pin-ups into a piece of my own.
I knew I wanted the woman in the illustration to be looking over her shoulder at something, with a rudimentary looking oxygen-supply floating somewhere nearby for balance. Like with most of my drawings, I also wanted a little story to go along with it, so making her oxygen-supply be what she was unexpectedly looking over her shoulder at naturally came together during the thumbnailing stage of the composition.
The finished piece was 5×7. I used my usual combo of Pigma Micron markers and graphite pencils to complete the illustration, with a large chisel tip Sharpie marker to assist with filling in all of the black. I added the gray tones in Photoshop after the illustration was done and shipped (sorry Brad). I call the piece “Undone”.
So, I’m only three pages into Your Cold Felt Heart Issue No. 1. Why? I’m in the midst of a full-blown workflow and art style crisis.
While creating Issue No. 0 I crafted a workflow and art style that involved incorporating my hand drawn characters with backgrounds I created using Adobe Illustrator. The upside to that workflow and art style was the ease of use for creating “true” on perspective backgrounds and three-demensional objects (like cars and trash cans, and other fancy things). The downside to that workflow was that it was slow as molasses, and involved a lot of back and forth between programs to create the final finished page. One of the reasons I went with that workflow and art style was a lack of self-confidence in my ability to draw three-demensional objects exactly on perspective, but honestly these days I wonder if ”perfect perspective” really matters.
I’ve been reading a lot of Bill Watterson’s comic strip Calvin and Hobbes lately, and can’t help but notice how little true perspective mattered to Bill. Calvin and Hobbes is an absolutely beautiful comic strip, probably the best since Schulz’s Peanuts, and it’s beautiful without the use of perfectly measured and executed perspective. Now, I don’t think I’ll ever compete with Bill Watterson’s beautiful line work, but I am thinking I might be putting too much emphasis on true perspective.
Although I’m really happy with how Issue No. 0 of Your Cold Felt Heart turned out, I really wanted to improve my turnaround time on creating Issue No. 1. Only being three pages in so far is not the improvement I had in mind; which brings me to my workflow crisis: Do I stay the course, and keep drawing my backgrounds and objects using Adobe Illustrator despite it being a slow and cumbersome process; or do I take the leap and draw the whole thing by hand this time, improving my speed while possibly creating some terrible artwork?
My column over at Monster Popcorn is talking about an edgier film than usual, Trey Parker’s Orgazmo. Despite having no nudity (aside from a few guys’ well placed butts), the reaction most people give when I talk about Orgazmo is more on the repulsed side of things than I’m used to. I can see why someone could be put off by some of the content in Orgazmo, I guess, even though I don’t find offense with it myself. The film certainly isn’t for the squeamish, but it’s got enough heart and belly laughts to balance out all those crude jokes for me.
For an eagle-eyed comic-fan, there are several great comic book nods placed in the openning credits of Orgazmo, and in lieu of an original drawing this week (I’ve got good reason, I promise) I thought I’d share some of Chris Stiles awesome art from the film. For Orgazmo, Chris did a series of fake comic book pages referencing several different periods of superhero comics and containing some pretty awesome homages.
The first thing that caught my eye, was an homage to a Dave Stevens’ Rocketeer print (check out the center panel of the right page):
As compared to it’s inspiration from Dave Stevens:
Another stand out for me was an homage to Frank Miller’s emotional ending to the Elektra Saga from the Marvel comic, Daredevil (also drawn by Chris Stiles, but this time in the style of 80s Frank Miller):
Honest, I tried really hard to find the Miller reference this was pulled from but the internet let me down. Sorry kids.
Chris Stiles went on to do major comic work, and is probably better remembered by some for his actual storytelling. But, for me, I’ll always remember him for his incredible illustrations with “Now You’re A Man” by DVDA blasting over them during the opening credits of Orgazmo. Check out my post on Orgazmo over at Monster Popcorn, and keep an eye out for news of the awesomeness that kept me from drawing for my blog this week.
My column over at Monster Popcorn updated today with some of my memories and thoughts on the live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. To say that I loved the Turtles as a child would be a tremendous understatement. Aside from owning every single Turtles toy Playmates put out, my brother and I would role-play as the Ninja Turtles everyday with the neighborhood kids using our own homemade ninja weapons. The first thing I remember seriously trying to learn how to draw was a Ninja Turtle. I would sit at our kitchen table and try over and over again to draw Raphael (my favorite Turtle, BTW), working at it tirelessly until I could draw him without a second thought. I drew the same image of a Ninja Turtle so many times I can still see it in my head over 20 years later. Every time I’ve redrawn a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle as an adult those awesome childhood memories have come flooding back. This week I drew Raphael as he appeared in one of my favorite scenes in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In this scene Raphael leaves his family behind to go see a movie disguised in a trench coat and hat. I really like the juxtaposition of a mutated, ninja turtle going about his business alongside everyone else, and knew right away it was the image I wanted to draw. The illustration only took two or so hours from pencils to finished colors, but I had to go a little further with it by quickly adding in a background and a word balloon. I’m sorry to say the perspective is pretty far off in the finished panel, but in my defense it was really early in the morning when I was drawing it. I really enjoyed drawing this guy, and will have to make another excuse soon to draw a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Check out my column on the movie here, and if you haven’t seen it in a while, I highly recommend you go back and rewatch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ’cause it’s pretty awesome.
This week I rewatched The Incredibles for my column over at Monster Popcorn. Man, I really love that movie! While watching it this time around it occurred to me that Mr. Incredible never directly touches Syndrome (the film’s villain). I get that The Incredibles IS a family friendly movie, but I couldn’t let that stand. So, this week’s sketch is of Mr. Incredible letting Syndrome have it right across his big, stupid jaw. I spent a little more time on this drawing than I probably should have but I really enjoyed working on it and just couldn’t help myself. Total, I spent about 3 hours on this drawing, from pencils to finished colors. Although I’m still no colorist, I have to say that I’m liking my colors on these drawings more and more. Check out my column on The Incredibles here, and while you’re at it check out the rest of Monster Popcorn. My friend Ben does a pretty awesome job pulling together the entertainment happenings of the week.
This week my column over at Monster Popcorn is talking about my absolute favorite movie, The Rocketeer. The film is an adaptation of the comic book of the same name created, written, and drawn by the incredible Dave Stevens. To simply say that Dave Stevens has influenced me as a cartoonist would be a tremendous understatement. Stevens’ artwork inspires me in a way few other cartoonist have. His absolutely beautiful line art and brush work are rivaled by none, and is this impossible vision to which I aspire with my own artwork (to which I fall embarrassingly short). This week I attempted to draw Dave Stevens’ creation, The Rocketeer, for the very first time in my life with better results than I expected. If you get the chance, check out my column about the film here. If you’ve never heard of Dave Stevens, or his comic that inspired The Rocketeer, I strongly encourage you to check it out for yourself. It’s available in collected form here from IDW Publishing.
With the release of Your Cold Felt Heart Issue No. 0 today it’s fitting to finish my post involving the process behind it’s creation, as well as officially debut the final cover. After completing the pencils, finished inks, and coloring, the final step was the inclusion of type and graphical elements to the finished design. The crease marks and rubbing effects were all created by actually creasing and distressing a piece of paper before scanning it in and applying the effect to the finished cover. The tagline included on the cover originally read “Frank’s North Side Adventure” which was my little nod to the second volume of Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer, “Cliff’s New York Adventure”. But, the reference to Stevens’ work seemed too obscure to forgive the inaccurate use of “adventure” to describe Issue No. 0′s content (despite my deep love for The Rocketeer). All together, I’m really happy with how the cover, and the issue, turned out. Now it’s time to start the next one. Issue No. 0 of Your Cold Felt Heart is available as of today in a limited print run at my Etsy store. Check it out!