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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Saga Continues

Ha. Well it has been a long time in the making.  As my regular reader will know, I began my side project, 'Johnny Morte', as a mini-comic some time back, and it kept developing as I added new themes and ideas and colour.  I like to think it has continued to improve, as I became more familiar with my subjects, and I've actually loved the way it has evolved from something good enough for me to experiment with, to something good enough to present to the paying public.  As I've mentioned in the past, I tend to grow the story back the way to a period before the action I thought was the beginning, began, and I think that really does help create a story that has more meat, and makes more sense, because rather than relying on flashbacks, the tale runs in a chronological order of events and is therefore easier to follow.  So, this new post will be a beginning before the beginnings that have been seen on the blog in the past, if you see what I mean.  This is not, however, the beginning of the story, it is about 6 pages in, but I was playing around with my colour schemes so I thought I'd post them.

The first pic' here is what I'm using as a background and an overlay, so that I can achieve a look of decayed and decaying opulence. I won't add it until everything is put together, but then I'm not really colouring the pages at the moment, I just got a little excited and raced you do.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Yay! Progress.

The fact that I've finally made the cover to issue #1 of Johnny Morte means that I've finished the first comic book.  I may make some changes, but it's largely done and those changes won't be huge.  I don't know if I'll colour it - I might.  It's very freeing because now that everything in Johnny's world is established and most of the main characters are introduced, I can work on other projects at the same time.  This may well include drawing some cartoons again for the first time in years.  An odd thing happens every so often; I think of a cartoon, so I write the punch line with some notes and file it away.  As a result I have some ideas in the vault.  Yippee. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Last Teeny Update Before Resuming Proper Posting

I'm going with black gutters in parts of Johnny Morte.  Issue #1 of the comic begins with a dream sequence, then a night sequence and then a flashback sequence, so I'm going with black gutters up to the flashback sequence.  There will be other pages with black gutters further on in the story, and again there will there will be a point to them.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Johnny Morte cover #1

Well, I'm not sure about this one.  I'll know better tomorrow, when I look at it in a more detached way.  It will do for now, I suppose.  It is kind of comic bookish, which I like:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Page 1 of Johnny Morte

Anyone who has read the posts on Johnny Morte, from his beginnings as a mini-comic, will hardly find the inclusion of the Charon/Grim Reaper character a surprise, but I didn't want anyone unfamiliar with it to see all at once where the story might eventually go.  Which is daft really because all the details are on this blog, but I thought it was interesting to see how people reacted to the story without knowing it goes all supernatural.  Anyway, I've finished page 1, which obviously comes before the 6 pages in the post below this one, so let's imagine it there rather than have me deleting the previous post and posting again..  I'll put the cover up this week,  and maybe another few pages:

Monday, September 09, 2013

Hello Future Rod, it's Me Again.

Still waiting to update, but I'm going to post this and delete the previous post, because the drawings are more up-to-date and there are more of them.  Again, I'm holding page 1 back for the time being, as it gives so much away, so these are actually pages 2-7 of Johnny Morte #1. 

I did a nifty thing here on one of the pages (bear with me if it's so bleedin' obvious I should shut up). I had been redrawing an ear and an eye over and over again, erasing the things and trying to get them right.  Then I remembered I was drawing on layers on the computer (I'm not kidding), on Manga Studio, so I took the rectangle tool and isolated the area on my "linedrawing" layer that I wanted to change, and increased the brightness on that area turning the black line grey, like pencils.  Then I created a new layer called "eareyeam" (injecting a little humour, you see) and drew the ear and the eye on the new layer, using the previous ear and eye as a guide for what not to do.  Then I highlighted the "linedrawing" layer and leaving the rectangle tool in place I erased the old ear and eye.  After that I right-clicked the "eareyeam" layer and merged it with the "linedrawing" layer.  I know it's a pretty obvious way to make corrections but I felt dead-chuffed about it. #EasilyPleased.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Coming Soon

I'll be posting a long-winded blog on the fabulously gory and utterly fantastic manga 'Shingeki No Kyojin' (Attack on Titan), by 27 year-old mangaka Hajime Isayama.  Attack on Titan has been growing in popularity steadily since the original manga's launch in Kodansha's Bessatu Shonen Magazine in 2009.  Nominated for the 16th Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize in 2012, the manga features the battles between humans and the man-eating giants who now rule the world.

An anime adaptation of the manga is scheduled to premiere in Japan this spring (2013), to be directed by Tetsuro Araki (Death Note, High school of the Dead).  A live-action film version is also on the way, but film journalist Hiroo Otaka reported recently that Tetsuya Nakashima (Kamikaze Girls, Confessions) had left his position as director.  Although a new director for the film isn't in place, the movie is still expected to be released in 2014 or perhaps later.

Friday, January 18, 2013

And So it Goes...

...tiddely pom.  To quote someone else with very little brain. 

I've drawn 26 pages of my comic book, A3-size, and inked them, despite the fact that I don't need to do that because I'll be inking digitally - but I did anyway, it's my way of finalising the pencils and checking continuity (or I'd edit from now until doomsday).  So whilst they look like final pages, they aren't, they're really my final pencils, and there's still one stage to go, the digital inking.  Which is why I was at the printer's, you see I have to get the drawings onto the computer and at the moment I have no A-3 size scanner, so I was there getting the drawings reduced to A4-size so I scan them in easily and quickly on my A4 scanner, without folding the pages and joining the artwork together on the computer - which is tedious in the extreme. 

So, after scanning the reduced A4-size pages in, I went to work on them using a combination of Photoshop, Illustrator, and Manga Studio.  I used Photoshop to increase the A4 drawings back up to A3, reduced the levels so that the drawings look like feint pencil, and established a new layer before I opened the drawings in Illustrator, where they were inked.  In Illustrator, I imported the drawings with layers converted to objects, and started to draw, using Sherm Cohen's cartooning brushes.  After finishing, I imported the drawings into Manga Studio, where I ruled the pages, placed word balloons  and laid-down a layer of text.  I then exported the finished drawings as PSD files, and then I discovered the mistake.  

When I exported the drawings from Manga Studio I took my eye off the ball, and halved the size of the pages when I reduced the resolution from 600dpi to 300dpi. So what I now had were A4 size drawings, again.  Oh, it's possible that it wouldn't have mattered that much.  Certainly, if I'd kept them at 600dpi, I'd have no problem increasing them to A3 at 300dpi, but I just feel that increasing A4 to A3 at a resolution of 300dpi, is pushing your luck.  So I've started again, only this time I'm doing everything, drawing, balloons, lettering, in Manga Studio, because I think that will allow me to finish inking all the pages by the end of the weekend.  Said he hopefully.

So this was the page all faded and I was building it a little at a time.  Having finished the panels and the balloons in MS, I was back in PS joining the balloons together in panel 2 and making the eye-hole for the door in panel 3 and I thought it was all coming along okay.  But the following day I discovered my sizes were all to pot.

(As always, if you want a good look at the pics (checking pen settings etc) right-click and open in a new window.)

So this time I need to speed things up and I've straight in with the inking in MS, using the Maru pen, and since I do the panels and balloons in there I might as well do the lot in that programme.

Back to Photoshop for that spy-hole though because it's easier for me to do that there.  Just a case of using the shape tool and setting the transparency.  If anyone wants to tell me how to do it in MS, I'm willing to learn.

 So it's not so bad, if it's a page that's got few straight lines and hardly any balloons.  When that's the case it's a little like tracing and it's a pretty quick job, but only because the pencil work is fully finished.  Otherwise it would be driving me up the wall..

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Moebius Loop

So I began working on Johnny Morte maybe two years ago?  It has taken this long to get it just the way I want it, and the story has evolved over the period and the look of it has changed.  Visually, it hasn't changed a great deal, but the story is a lot better, I think.  It is a comic, and I do view it as a 'pop project' to fund the other stuff, but it isn't a throwaway project, and I hope the length of time it has taken me to finalise the script and the artwork illustrates that.  I do take it seriously, and I won't let it go until I know it's the best I can do.

Letting it go is the problem really.  For decades now I have had a problem letting things go.  In fact, on several occasions I have supplied magazine publishers and card companies with "second drawings" along with the finished approved work.  This "second drawing" is a "really finished" drawing that I think is an improvement on the one requested.  At no stage, has any publisher used the "second drawing".  But quite recently, I took this obsession with getting things just right, to a whole new level.  I was looking at some old artwork I did in the 1980s, which was in a comic so it's a matter of record somewhere - it's an historical fact in some dusty collection somewhere, and I was going to put it online, and I actually found myself thinking about redrawing it.

Can you believe that?  I mean to say, in what way would that have been authentic?  I was going to post a thirty year old drawing that I drew yesterday. It wasn't as if I was going to re-imagine it, or contemporise it, or make it the way I always imagined it would be - all much more valid reasons for doing it.  No, what I wanted to do was remove the "mistakes" I made back then.  I knew right there and then that I had a problem, and knew what the problem was; I hate anything by me.  I was in danger of being caught up in a moebius loop where I would spend the rest of my life redrawing everything I've ever done every what?  Every 6 months, every year, every decade?  It suddenly became apparent to me that I have been doing this for some time.  Now, a version of this behaviour does have its place in the work I do. In cartooning one often looks back over the old rejects and even the accepted cartoons for new ideas, for a new spin, but that's different, that's re-interrupting the work, making it more contemporary.  What can't be healthy, surely, is being stuck in the frame of mind where one endlessly redraws the same exact idea over and over again, in a futile search for perfection - especially when that time would be better spent moving on and coming up with new ideas.

So here we go.  I'm on page 9 of JM Comic book #1 and very soon I'll have the entire 26 or so pages finished.and it'll wing its way away and it will be "the best I could do at the time" and that is what it will remain.  It's very freeing to set aside a compulsion, it's like stepping outside a moebius strip.

Right click to open in a new window. Clicking on through throws up tiny graphics.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Very Happy Lovecraftian Halloween

American author, Howard Phillips Lovecraft's (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) stories and his literary philosophy of "cosmicism" , the belief that life is incomprehensible to human minds and the universe is fundamentally hostile to the interests of humankind, exert a tremendous influence on modern fiction, and have had, and continue to have, a profound impact on the world of comicbooks.  It is an influence that began during the author's lifetime.  In his essay, "H. P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos", Robert M. Price identifies the "Cthulhu Mythos proper", a sharing of Lovecraftian-lore by Lovecraft's contemporaries, formulated during his lifetime, and subject to his guidance. The second stage identified by Price, is the stage guided by the person who coined the term the Cthulhu Mythos , August Derleth, who published Lovecraft's stories after his death, and attempted to catalouge and expand the Lovecraftian Mythos.  The second stage, the expansion of the Cthulu Mythos after Lovecraft's death, in stories, films, and comicbooks, has been so successful that librarians and booksellers still have to turn away would-be occultists who search in vain for the Necronomicon, Lovecraft's fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore.  The Necronomicon, as a shared element in fiction has surfaced in both the Cthulu Mythos Proper, and the later Cthulu Mythos.  In his short story, "The Children of the Night" (1931), Conan the Barbarian author, Robert E. Howard (a member of the "Lovecraft Circle" along with Clark Ashton Smith, the author of Psycho, Robert Bloch, Frank Belknap Long, Henry Kuttner, and Fritz Lieber), had his character Friedrich Von Junzt read Lovecraft's Necronomicon.  In his four-issue comicbook series Neonomicon, writer Alan Moore both expanded and subverted the Cthulu Mythos, by foregrounding, naming, and showing, graphically, the unameable terrors that lurk in the deep structure beneath the surface of Lovecraft's Mythos.  Lovecraft's Arkham Sanatorium found its way into the DC universe in the 1970s courtesy of Dennis O'Neil and during its time it has housed The Joker, the Riddler, Bane, and others and has featured in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, Neil Gaiman's Sandman, and in a number of DC's mini-series.
The magazine Metal Hurlant, was created by "Les Humanoïdes Associés" ( Jean Giraud (Mœbius), Philippe Druillet, Jean-Pierre Dionnet and Bernard Farkas) in 1974.  During its hugely influential run, which ended in 1987, it featured work by, amongst others, Jean-Claude Forest (Barbarella),  Richard Corben, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Enki Bilal (Immortal), Caza, Serge Clerc, Alain Voss, Berni Wrightson, Milo Manara, Frank Margerin, Angus McKie, and many others.  The Lovecraft edition in the US, where it was published as Heavy Metal, features a beautiful cover of Mister Lovecraft, by the fabulous J.K. Potter, which was markedly different to the equally beautiful H.R. Giger cover that graced the French edition.  All art is copyright the respective copyright holders.

Let me just warn you in advance that I've left some stuff out and avoided scanning entire stories in order to make sure we don't inadvertently put anyone's hard work into the public domain.  What is left, I hope, gives you a feel of the collection.  I haven't randomly omitted things, but I have chosen the stuff I think works very well, either as faithful adaptations of Lovecraft's work or in expanding the Cthulu Mythos.  One of my favourite's is the first story, Final Justice, by Chateau.  The artwork reminds a little of some Weird Stories and even some Sandman episodes.  Whilst I like most of the stories, attempts at expanding the Lovecraft Mythos, like  KTULU by Moebius, could have done with a little more thought, I think.  I love the look of  Xeno meets Dr. Fear and is Consumed, by Terance Lindall and Chris Adames, The Man from Blackhole by Clerc, Dewsbury's Masterpiece by Charland and Cornillion and Druillet's Excerpts from the Necronomicon.  I could have done with a little more Randolph Carter and the Cats of Ulthar in The Language of Cats by Claveloux, but it is what it is and it all goes to show that whether you adapt Lovecraft faithfully or just drop a little Lovecraftian Mythos into your text or a little sodden Lovecraftian love into your drawings, you end up with an interesting outcome.

I have quite a bit of Breccia's Lovecraft work here at McKie Towers.  It is all very beautiful to look at.  If I had to imagine a perfect artist for Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror, or any Lovecraft story it would be him.