Wednesday, September 30, 2015

24 Hour Comic Day Anthology Cover

Today I got a bit further along on the new cover for the 24 Hour Comic Day anthology book. I spent most of today inking the piece but I thought I'd show off the pencil sketch first.

In order to streamline the process for the 24 Hour Comic Day and, because I wanted to create the cover in the same way I'll be tackling the event this Saturday, I penciled the cover in non-repo blue pencil. The idea is that, once I am done inking the page, there will be no need to erase any pencil marks before I finish and scan the piece to the computer for touch ups and lettering.

The problem with the non-repo blue pencil is it is a bit harder to capture with a photo than if I had penciled it my usual way. But, hopefully you get the idea.

I'll show of the final inks tomorrow!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Saturdays are Music Days!

I spent most of the day today working on music with Lou. I thought we were going to work on a song we had previously recorded but we ended up recording something new and playing around with how many instruments and sounds we could get out of the midi player. I wouldn't say we came away with an actual song but more of a pattern with different instruments coming in and out of the mix. If nothing else, it was a great way to get myself more acquainted working with midi files and I did find a really beautiful sounding violin patch.

I just wish I could spend as much time on my own music as I do on Lou's. But, I am finding it's sometimes easier to help someone out with their own dream than working on your own all by yourself. And, if nothing else, it is fun hanging out on a Saturday afternoon with a friend, having a few drinks, and making a bit of noise.

I also finally found some time tonight to make a quick video and upload both the raw files I received and the mix I came up with for my friend Adam's new music track, "Little White Sermon." Since Adam is being super sneaky about this project and in the past few years has done his best to erase all traces of himself from the internet I am only sharing these mixes here on my blog.

The first half of the video is the raw recordings of the session I got from Adam and, from about 5:10 on, it's the mix I came up with. I hope it's fun to listen to the differences side by side and I really hope I did a somewhat decent job.

Saturdays have definitely become music days here around the studio!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Space Girls and Bike Rides!

Most nights I have free I'll wind the day down by taking a bike ride around town. I used to take my old heavy cruiser bike out for a loop but, since I've gotten a new and lighter road bike, I've been taking longer rides that total around fourteen miles. I basically ride from one end of town to the other and loop back taking a different route that takes me close to the foothills and back to my house.

Last night I was on this run and I thought I was either tired or getting old because peddling seemed a bit harder than normal. But, I kept chugging along, listening to a podcast and letting my mind wander. Around the ten mile mark, when I was going down a hill, I tried to change my front gears from the usual mid-gear I cruise along in to the harder gear. It was then I realized I had done most of my route in the harder gear. So, I wasn't too tired or too old, I had just forgotten to check the gear under my left hand.

I didn't think it wore me out too much as I got home but my aching legs and sleeping in until 1:30 this afternoon say different. Still, I got back on the bike tonight, made sure I was in the right gear, and gave myself a break by doing my old eight mile route.

I got the newest page for OilCan Drive finished and posted tonight. You can check it out HERE. This will probably be the last new one for Track Three for a bit as I get ready for the 24 Hour Comic Day Challenge. But, I am sure I'll get back to it as soon as I can. I am pretty much at the half way point of this chapter and I can't wait to keep going and tell more of the story in my head.

Also, the pin-up piece I did for The Specialists Kickstarter campaign was featured today. The guys gave me a really nice little write up and featured both my piece and the cover of OilCan Drive Track One. I really hope they are successful with their campaign. I would love to have one of those hardcover books on my shelf. You can check out both the write up and the campaign HERE.

I listened to the Avs again tonight as I worked but they couldn't pull it out this time. They lost 1-0. Ah well, pre-season is where you're supposed to work all the bugs out of the system. But, it was fun to listen to the game again on the radio. I am looking forward to watching them again on TV but there is really something nice and nostalgic about simply listening to a game while you work. It somehow makes me feel like a kid again.

And, finally, the piece above is the character of another artist who I met at Denver Comic Con. He asked me if I would do some sketches of her and I liked her so much I had to say yes. The little black and white piece I did as a warm-up to start the day a while ago while the pencil sketch was my first attempt at figuring the character out. I don't think I've quite got her yet and I haven't heard from him lately so I really don't know what will happen with this project. Still, she is fun to draw so I am hoping we can do something together with her soon.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fuschia Seemed Right...

As I shift my focus from the OilCan Drive weekly comic pages to the upcoming 24 Hour Comic Challenge I realized, with time running out, that I better get a bunch of stuff figured out quickly.

Not only would I like to get some idea of the story fleshed out a bit more before I sit down for twenty four hours to draw a comic but there is also the matter of getting a cover done for the upcoming collected anthology of those comics. Every year my local comic shop, Time Warp Comics, hosts the 24HCD event and, after everyone is done with their stories, collects the comics into one big printed book to sell in the store. Last year it was the store's thirtieth anniversary so everyone was asked to have the store's mascot, Tommy Time Warp, featured on the cover. That made it a bit easier. But, this year, there hasn't been any directives so I've had to come up with something entirely on my own.

So, I figured, when in doubt, tie it into something I am doing with the story rattling around in my head.

During lunch I grabbed the nearest piece of paper I could find (it just happened to be a fuschia colored piece of paper) and quickly sketched out this idea. Since most of the OilCan Drive pieces I do fit into an album inspired square format it was nice to do something different and go back to the regular vertical comic book format in this new design. Honestly, it felt kind of like doing an OCD movie poster so I did my best to find my inner Drew Struzan.

We'll see if this idea pans out as I start putting pencil to paper later this week.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Shot, Score!

I got the November round of illustrations done for Sports Illustrated Kids this afternoon and sent them off. That gave me enough time to run out, grab some sandwiches for dinner, and get back in time to listen to the first pre-season game of Colorado Avalanche hockey!

The great part is that hockey season has (almost) begun but the bad news is that, because hockey isn't nearly as popular as something like football, none of the pre-season games are televised. So, I have to revert to listening to them on the radio.

But, it's not all bad. It reminds me of being a kid and the radio isn't nearly as distracting as the TV so I got the newest OilCan Drive page inked while I listened to the game.

This newest page may be my last page of this newest OilCan Drive chapter for a few weeks. In less than two weeks I'll be participating in the annual 24 Hour Comic Day Challenge and I need some time to prep for the event. Not only do I like having some idea of what I 'm going to be drawing in that twenty four hour period but the organizer of the event has asked that everyone submit a cover design for the anthology of stories they'll be publishing later this year. So, I've decided to give myself a break, change my focus a bit, and get this stuff out of the way while putting the next few weeks of OilCan Drive on the back burner.

But, fear not, if all goes well I'll have a new twenty four page OilCan Drive story I can show off later this year.

Still, I'm glad I got this newest page almost all done and ready for Friday's update. It felt good to ink a page while listening to a hockey game.

Oh, and the Avalanche won the game in what sounded like a very fun three-on-three overtime after coming back from a 4-2 deficit! I am so glad hockey is back. Between that and the weather cooling off a bit I can finally think and create again!

Monday, September 21, 2015


The last few days have been a bit of a whirlwind.

On Thursday night I headed down to Denver to attend an art show that Josh Thorne, who I mentored while he was in high school, was a part of. He has teamed up with a couple of other guys and formed a company called All Day Ind. and together they are doing some really great art. Josh and his partner do the illustration and their third member makes beautifully crafted custom made wooden frames. Of all the other artists I saw at the gallery that night they definitely had the most impressive set-up. We got their a little late but the atmosphere was great and it really felt like what a hip and trendy rock and roll art show would look like if you saw it in a movie.

On Friday I finally had a chance to jot down some initial ideas for my OilCan Drive 24 Hour Comic that I'll be attempting in a little under two weeks. I like to get some idea of what I am going to do during that twenty four hours instead of going in cold so it felt nice that some of my ideas are finally gelling. Hopefully I can get something more set in stone as I get closer to drawing day.

And, it must have been a long week because I ended Friday with a nice long nap before dinner.

I also finished up my mix of my friend Adam's song so hopefully I can get that up here soon. I want to put the music to at least some sort of simple video so I can showcase not just the music but some images as well. Plus I want to make sure it's okay with Adam if I show it off before I just post it online.

Saturday found me recording a new Lou song that, at first, sounded to me like some sore of theme song for a new Law and Order series...Law and Order, The Lost Years maybe. But, once we but it through the paces and added some orchestration to it the whole song changed. I sent Lou off with an initial mix of the track which I'm sure he'll be adding some lyrics to.

Saturday night I spent catching up on Doctor Who's last season and inking my illustrations for the next round of Sports Illustrated Kids, "What's The Call." Everything flowed really nicely and I actually got ahead of my self appointed schedule. So, today, instead of inking the pieces, I actually got two of them completely scanned, colored, and finished. One more to go and I'll be done with this round.

And, somewhere in the middle of all of that I also put the finishing touches on my steady-cam rig and got a few bike rides in.

And, tonight's bike ride bear count? Three bears...two cubs and one Momma black bear. I gotta be careful out there at night but they all seemed to be doing okay and I hope as long as I don't bother them they don't bother me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Specialists

Today I blocked in all of the figures for the newest round of Sports Illustrated Kids, "What's The Call", illustrations. Meaning I sketched everyone out in non-repo blue pencil so I could get all the gestures and proportions ready before I go to detail and final pencil sketches tomorrow.

I also completed the first rough mix of my friend Adam's song. There are a few little things to tweak but I am pretty happy with how it is turning out so far.

All in all, it was a pretty productive day considering I wasn't feeling too well when I woke up this morning.

Today's piece of art is a pin-up I did for The Specialists, a web comic about super heroes and villains set during World War 2. Over the last few years of doing conventions around Denver I became friendly with both creators Shawn Gustafson and Al Fukalek. During this year's Denver Comic Con I, along with a few other very talented creators, were approached by Shawn to do a pin-up as an incentive for their upcoming Kickstarter campaign to fund a Specialists hard cover omnibus book.

I love the book both Al and Shawn produce and I love the characters so, of course, I said yes.

The character I was assigned to portray was The Bombardier. The design is very reminiscent of Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer so I had a blast coming up with the idea of this piece and putting it all together. I did feature the patches that are on The Bombardier's jacket in my final illustration but, after going back and forth with Shawn, it was decided to keep them off the final print. I figure you can see the final print over on the Kickstarter site so I thought I'd show you the alternate, what might have been, version here.

You can check out The Specialists Kicsktarter campaign HERE. I really hope this project funds because I think it would be really cool to have a giant hardcover book of this comic. I've already pledged so I hope you do too. And, if you pledge enough you can get a nice print of my piece.

To wind down tonight I watched the first half of Robert Rodriguez's Desperado. Man, I miss movies like this. They were super inspiring back in the day and it's nice to see that they still hold up. Hopefully I can watch the end tomorrow night. For now, I am off to sleep!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Fort Collins Comic Con

Last Friday Monika and I headed up to Fort Collins to attend their first ever Comic Con. It was only a one day event on Saturday but we were asked if we could set up our booth the night before so we headed up north and spent the night with one of Monika's friends.

We were both pretty tired as we drove up to Fort Collins but we found the event center okay and headed in to set up. The whole event was held in a big gymnasium with one of those indoor tracks running around the top of it. I had a bit of a high school gym class flash back but I managed to keep it to myself. The table we were assigned was right next to a runway and PA loudspeaker set-up. I didn't think anything of it at the time but I wish I had. I might have asked to move right then and there.

We did a pretty quick set up of the table and backdrop and called it a night. We had a late dinner and headed over to Monika's friend Anne's house to spend the night.

I always have a hard time sleeping anywhere new so I don't think I fell asleep until around 3am or so. I guess that is normal for me but I was hoping with how tired I was it might have been easier to sleep. The alarm came all too soon at 6:30am and we were up and ready to go.

Because the convention was only a one day event the coordinator's scheduled it from 8am until 8pm. That is one looooong day to be sitting behind a table trying to hock your wears. And, it didn't help that I hadn't slept well the previous two nights.

Things started slow and I didn't even have my first sale until 11am. There were a lot of people in costumes walking around and, because we were right next to the stage, I had a good view of all the costume contests. In fact, once people got off the stage they all gathered right in front of my booth. That was alright but what quickly drove me nuts was how loud they had this PA cranked up to talk to the crowd through out the day. And we were right next to the speaker! It felt like some sort of torture every time this one certain guy with a booming voice jumped on the microphone. We asked if they could turn it down or if he could not yell into the mic but that didn't help. By the end of the day both Monika and I were a bit shell shocked and twitched every time anyone got on the PA.

Other than that things went well. We met some new people and got to catch up with some old friends and I even sold a few books here and there. It was a long long day and I'm not sure if I am in a rush to do it again. The business side of me thinks it might have been too much work to earn how much money we brought in. But the people we met and talked to made it fun so I guess I should turn off my business head sometimes.

I also got to do a bunch of sketches for people and here are a few photos I took of them before I gave them to their new owners.

Oh, and my favorite costume out of all the people I saw there? It had to be the Latino man who reminded me of Guillermo from The Jimmy Kimmel show wearing an orange and blue Denver Broncos Iron Man suit. Seeing that guy made my day and definitely made the trip worth while.

We got back home safely Saturday night and had some ice cream before passing out while watching the beginning of Kill Bill Part One. Tonight I get to see how the first part ends!

Enjoy the art!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Faith in the Future

Phew, it's been another long day and I once again find myself writing this just a bit before 3am. One of these days this schedule is going to catch up with me.

I finished up the newest OilCan Drive page this afternoon and posted it tonight. You can check it out HERE.

I also did a few thumbnail ideas for a client that I hope to hear back from soon so I can get rolling on their next project. It's fun to bat around new ideas but also a little scary. I always hope I am giving a client what they want and the thumbnail stage is at least a good way to make sure we're both on the same page.

I also received a nice surprise from my friend Adam in Nashville. He sent me over the raw files for his newest song so I could open them up in ProTools and play with them. So, as a way to take a break from the drawing board tonight, I sat for a few hours and started mixing his song. I finally had to tear myself away from the fun and get back to work but I am hoping I can get back to it soon. Add this music mix to working on Lou's video and I doubt I'll have time to get bored anytime soon.

I'll also be up in Fort Collins this weekend for their first comic convention so I'm not sure if I'll be able to write tomorrow night. We'll see. I'll be spreading the good word of OilCan Drive and I'll have the usual books, music, trading cards, and stickers to sell and hand out. I'll also be bringing some original sketches that I'll be selling as well as doing commissions at the show. If you're near Fort Collins, come on by and say hello. It would be great to meet you. You can find more info about the convention HERE.

And finally, Craig Finn, a musician and writer who I've come to really admire, put out his second solo album today. About a month ago Craig asked for quick video submissions to go along with a song from the album, "Faith in the Future." I had already pre-ordered the new album and loved the EP of five songs I received for ordering so early. So, of course, I had to submit something.

I sat at lunch one afternoon and, as I drew a little cartoon of Craig with a word balloon singing the title of the track, "Maggie, I'm Still Searching For Our Son," I took photos of my progress. I sent both the photos and the time lapse video to Craig.

And now the video has been officially released and the first place you can see it is over at Rolling Stone. Among a bunch of other great fan submitted content, there are a few pieces of my art. It's really cool and I totally love the song!

Here are a few of the photos I sent in to Craig. Enjoy the video and enjoy the song. It reminds me of a bit of Bruce Springsteen mixed with a little punk rock and something else I can't quite put my finger on but I really like. If you'd like more info about getting Craig's album you can check it out HERE.

Now, it's time for me to get some rest! Too much rocking and rolling for one day!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ink Day!

Since Friday is coming fast I spent most of the day wrapping up the inks on the newest OilCan Drive page.

I got enough of it done tonight that tomorrow will simply be a matter of graying in the page, writing the script, lettering, and putting it up online. I don't see anything going wrong so there shouldn't be any problems keeping my OilCan Drive Friday schedule going this week.

It has been both scary and fun putting myself behind the right ball again by having to get a page done a week. Sometimes I think a page a week isn't all that much to ask of myself. I was taught and trained that a "real" comic book artist can get a page done a day. But, I figure that "page a day" thing usually refers to a penciler who is simply penciling a page a day. I have to remind myself that I am writing, penciling, inking, scanning, cleaning up, graying, and lettering a page each week. Plus, add that to my usual client schedule and trying to find time to do all the other creative ideas I have in my head and I should probably give myself a break.

A page a week may not seem like much but it's gotten me half way into a third book and that's not nothing. I know plenty of people who still talk about doing a comic book someday and have yet to draw panel one of page one. So, go me!

Oh, and I also learned a bit more about editing Lou's video today and did a few tests. It's all coming together. Maybe slowly...but it's all coming together!

I wound down tonight watching "Machete Kills" on Netflix. It was fun watching a movie like that after thinking about film and video stuff all day. And I am slowly figuring out how I can do a lot of that stuff here in the studio. It's an exciting time, boys and girls, a very exciting time!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Almost There!'s been a long day but I finally made some head way with Lou's video. I think I figured out how to get around all the weird frame jumps and glitches that the first video had but I'll have to wait until tomorrow to cut the new footage together to see if it works.

The good news is that, by doing that first broken video, it gave me a good template to cut the new one to so I can make quicker decisions and, hopefully, get the new video done sooner than later. Right now I am just trying to look on the positive side of things.

I was hoping to show off the video tonight but it looks like it will have to wait a few more days. I hope it's worth the wait. If nothing else, this has been a really good learning experience. For now, I am exhausted and off to bed!

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Steady-Cam Rig

 I tried again today to figure out why the render I did of Lou's video yesterday had all kinds of weird flashing and skipping frames in it. I thought I had it figured out but I guess not. I started to cut the video together again today but Adobe Premiere kept freaking out and shutting down so I finally gave up and started inking the next page of the OilCan Drive story. This video has almost driven me nuts but I am not giving up yet.

And, at least the comic book page is coming along nicely so it's good to know I can still do that without the brush and ink bottle crashing on me.

Here are a few photos of the cheap steady-cam rig I built last week and that I used to film Lou singing his song. It really worked out well and allowed me not only to move the camera around him as he sang a few takes but I also followed him over the shoulder as he walked into my building downstairs, took the elevator up, and walked down the hall to my condo. It really worked well. The only time it really didn't work was when I hit the counter weight on the bottom of the rig with my leg as I was walking.

But, other than that it was easy to use and the raw footage I got with it looked pretty decent.

I finished off the night by going on a bike ride around Boulder. Lately I've been going on these big 14 mile bike rides at night to clear my head a bit and listen to a podcast or two. I end my ride with a long stretch along 4th street, a path that takes me right next to the base of the mountains. And on my ride back down the hill tonight I looked to my right and saw what I think was a little bear running right alongside me. I think it was a cub since it didn't look too big. All I saw was a black shape that was too big to be a racoon hauling ass down the road. I kept peddling since, if it was a cub, I didn't want to be around when the mama bear came running out to see who was chasing her kid. Yikes!

But, I got away safe and sound and am now back home. Time for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a little TV to finish out the night!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Video Shoot

My friend Lou came over today and we did a quick video shoot of one of the recent songs he and I recorded to test some of the cinematic ideas I've had over the past week.

We used one of his songs called "Undiscovered" that we recorded last June. He started with a simple piano riff and, while I recorded and engineered, he came up with this song. He hadn't shot a video for it yet so I thought it was a perfect candidate to do some tests on.

Using my old GoPro Hero2 mounted to the cheap steady cam I built last week I shot Lou singing the song in the front of my living room. We taped at a few different frame speeds so I could test out some slow and fast motion effects to see what both the GoPro and Adobe Premiere could do. I've only used Premiere once and that was a while ago so it took me a bit to reacquaint myself with the system.

I had some trouble syncing up the different video speeds to the original audio because Premiere had trouble processing the video so, when I tried to make sure the lips were singing the right part of the song, the video simply jumped and skipped around so I had no idea how close I was. I got the best I could and then rendered the video.

I thought the video output would be the same parameters as the project parameters but apparently you have to tell the program how you plan to output it. So, after and hour spent on that first rendering, I had to start the whole process over again. Ugh. It took a few tries but I finally got something rendered that wasn't half bad.

It's been a long day but I'll upload the video tomorrow so you can check it out. It's by no means perfect but it was an interesting test. And, I think I may have even learned a few things.

Have a great one and I'll see you all soon!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Happy September!

The last part of this summer has been an interesting ride. Somewhere in the middle of July I felt like I lost any sort of creative mojo I had. No matter what I did nothing seemed to be flowing. Oh, I did work and tried things. The technical aspect of what I do was still there and I was able to work but nothing felt quite right at all.

Then, all of a sudden, once the weather cooled off a bit, my creativity returned with a vengeance. My head started spinning at a million miles an hour and I felt like I wanted to do EVERYTHING! I could barely contain it and I've been doing my best to focus it in some sort of useful direction.

Illustration is still my first priority but my head has been filled with so much more. I am writing more music, from the rock songs with OilCan Drive to actually trying to figure out how to compose for a symphony. I've been working with my friend Lou on his songs as well and honing my skills as a producer and recording engineer. I've started looking into film again and I built a steady-cam rig this week and have plans to do some test filming tomorrow. I've been doing my client work but also trying to keep the page-a-week schedule I set up for myself with OilCan Drive as well as do some more fun illustration for a few t-shirt companies here and there.

It's been crazy and I am just trying to enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.

For now, here is a piece I did for a t-shirt company of the ghost with the most, Beetlejuice. If you're interested in a t-shirt or print of the afterlife exterminator you can check out my t-shirt shop HERE.

And, because both losing your mojo for a while and then having it almost drive you crazy both seem to keep me away from the blog, here are a bunch of process shots as I was working on this piece. I hope you enjoy and I'll see you all soon! There are so many places to go from here!