Monday, December 27, 2010


This thumbnail is a general idea of a visual I'm trying to solidify. It's a dream sequence of sorts - very Miyazaki (gooey) in nature. As such, I have been studying jars of canola oil, water, and india ink in an attempt to work out the metaphorical bugs. Hit and miss in execution.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Current reads.

Black Jack (Volume 1)
Osamu Tezuka

I really need more Osamu Tezuka in my life, and so I'm reading Black Jack along with the rest of the Buddha books (which are just so damn impressive that I don't even want to try posting about them). Black Jack is a lot of fun - it feels like a TV show. Take a shot of Murder, She Wrote "oh gosh! I happened across the most intriguing caper! how do I always get into these scrapes!" premise; blend in a bit of that gorey medical drama that all the kids are talking about these days; then add a satisfying lone-wolf vigilante twist. Mix well. Black Jack himself is a famous, and very coy, rogue doctor that charges near-extortionist fees for his services - after all, he's the best, and most daring, in the business. He turns out to be a really complex character, though, which kept me reading, and smiling, with every cheeky turn. I brought this book with me on a trip and it was an excellent choice. It's a decent paperback volume, but the length of the episodes is just perfect. Nice, occasionally tough-love tales in easy-to-swallow capsules. See what I did there with the medical analogy? Yeah, I hate myself, too.

Craig Thompson

Oh my God. I finally read it. I can't remember who told me, but they said, "you will cry". They weren't far off. I know there's likely an oversaturation of memoir-style coming-of-age graphic novels out there, but this has to be the gold standard. I ignored my husband's parents for an entire evening because after 10 pages, I literally couldn't stop reading. I even stayed up late to finish it. My emotional stomach is quite frail, and any story that involves child abuse just wrenches my heart, so between the two churning organs - and the compulsive need to end this book, no matter how painful - I was actually triggered into an acute bipolar episode. My husband awakened to me tapping at the glass at 3 a.m. like a stray dog because I'd been in such mental disarray that I'd locked myself out of the house! Awesome, right? Thanks, Craig Thompson, for doing your part to keep the pharmaceutical corporations in business. Also, I am one of those people that peed their pants all over The Office's Jim and Pam romance, so of course introducing two adorable, troubled teens with their completely pure-hearted love affair - hair-stroking and letter-writing - just sent me squeeing all over the guest room, freaking out the cats. I can't even go on with this. In short, Craig Thompson, you owe me a box of Kleenex. And my poor husband a six-pack!

Friday, December 3, 2010


I've been pulled into the Shining Force SOS campaign and plan on sending in some fan art, so here's a quick sketch of the protagonist of Shining Force II. Character design is definitely a fun portion of this game (aside from the fantastic turn-based strategy combat). Between centaurs, wolfmen, phoenixes, pegasi, and other creatures, there's plenty of subject matter to choose from. Bowie is fun in his little blue tights and all, but I have yet to decide on the final piece.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Children's book.

I am up to my neck in Christmas commissions from family and friends. One is a short story put to illustrations - the first I've done, but it should be a lot of fun. I've been given "full artistic license", which is exciting and terrifying at once.

Another will be an abstract landscape, and two more are pet portraits. It's a lot to do and a lot to choose from. It will be a busy, but rewarding, month!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Yakmas tidings.

Those who have known me for a few years probably know about a fantasy creation of mine called Yakmas. It's a holiday that basically exists to worship livestock. You can celebrate Yakmas in your own home by giving your pet a can of snooty, extra-yummy food, brushing their fur, and maybe pretending you'll have to eat them if your family gets hungry during the winter. If you're not into all of that, there's always Yak Shaving Day.

This is actually something I'm sending out for the Postcrossing project - something I haven't done in a while, but is a lot of fun.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A new space.

I'm very happy to announce that my husband has finished building me a drafting table. I've always been skittish about them - normally I draw on a couch, curled up, with a clipboard on one knee - but as time goes on, I realize I need a workspace. I need somewhere to plant myself and say, "OK, let's go!". Honing some good posture wouldn't hurt, either.

It's up in the attic so I will not be easily distracted. There is a mini-fridge is stationed just to the right. Yes, good, good. While it will be a difficult task to keep cats from using it as a scratching post or bed, the plus size of living with animals is their potential for cuteness, company, and a handy built-in paperweight feature.

Can't wait to give this a whirl!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Multimedia test!

I sold four pieces of art recently, which gave me an opportunity to pick up some india ink and watercolor paper. I've had this insatiable urge to do color washes for the last two months or so, complete with ideas for new work. I've always been terrified of paint, much less watercolor, but I'm already having a blast - testing how the ink works out with colored pencil, marker, and pen overlays. The results are promising. My visions may soon become a reality!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Current reads.

Elfquest: Wolfrider (Volume 2)
Wendy and Richard Pini

I've known a lot of people who were into Elfquest from a young age; even my sister dug up a copy at the library, I remember. For such a popular series, I haven't read very much of it. And I should, because I see a lot of traits from my own worldmaking in it. Elfquest is definitely an absorbing world, with its own lingo, culture, and mythology bursting from every seam. The characters are well-defined and fun to follow through their centuries of adventures, ranging from conflicts with humans to tribal upheaval and folk tales. However, I'll sound like a prude here: I was surprised by some of the sexually-charged content. I'm trying to imagine an 8 year-old picking this up and reading about "recognition" (the elf word used for "intercourse") and the occasional nude romp in the woods, culminating in "indescribable pleasure". Okay, it was just once, and perhaps I am a prude after all. Anyway. When I generally think of Elfquest, I think of big, glittery eyes and abs. I'm glad to have expanded that knowledge base, though!

Daisy Kutter: The Last Train
Kazu Kibuishi

I'll admit it. I'm biased. I freaking love Kazu Kibuishi. He's one of those artists I have a huge crush on. His webcomic, Copper, tugged ferociously at my heartstrings, and I've loved every feature of his in the Flight volumes. No matter what he illustrates, a real warmth comes through, and this is the case with Daisy Kutter as well. She's a tough-talking retired gangster, trying to run a general store and get in the occasional witty jab at her ex, who now happens to be the sheriff. Although has she really left her old life behind? Oh, and by the way, in this western fantasy, there are robots. Seriously, what's not to love? This is another great example of a penciled comic that presents itself beautifully, much to my glee. Kazu, I will have your babies anytime.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Water studies.

As much as I told the river to hold still, it wouldn't listen. Never have I known such stubbornness!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A perspective I always have issues with.

My husband, looking like John F. Kennedy - it was a warm-up! - then tilting his head back at various angles. Practice, practice, practice. I hate this angle because it's hard to know which lines to emphasize and how to keep the face from looking flat (like the bottom left).

Friday, October 8, 2010

Character designs on both fronts!

You know, I feel like every time I post Long Tom here, I need to make a disclaimer that it's meant to be an outdated black stereotype. Oh, the other disclaimer is that smoking isn't as hip as those new-fangled moving pictures makes it appear. So if you decide to become a racist or acquire lung cancer, please don't send me nasty e-mails.

I'm getting a .3 mm Copic gray in the mail any day now, and I'm happy to say that 0.2 mm less nib will allow me to do tons more detail work – at least in something far less damning than black.

Mastiff flop.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Steamboat designs.

Going for more of a cartoony feel, I whipped up some Steamboat Follies portraits. I'm quite pleased. As much as I long for more realism in my work, caricature comes pretty easy.

I've been going through Tintin In The Congo, having previously read quite a bit about the racism interwoven within Hergé's work. Now, I love Tintin. But you can't deny that the portrayal of blacks is atrocious, from the goofy designs to their total helplessness without any Europeans around. Anyway. Because Steamboat Follies takes place in a hammed-up, southern, post Civil War setting, I decided to give the racist caricature some study. I feel kind of dirty - but excited - to try it. It serves the cartoon well, in my opinion!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bonnie rides again.

I got a comment from a friend saying that I haven't uploaded any sketches lately! My apologies. I now give you a sketch of the reason why I haven't been sketching. Because I love paradox.

Red Dead Redemption, also known as Candice Rides Around On A Lot Of Horses And Collects Wolf Pelts For Six Hours A Day, is the sort of video game I've been hoping for since Shadow Of The Colossus (which I've also tried to capture in tribute, except its lead is a shoe-in for bishounen of the year, thereby unworthy of my clumsy, non-manga hands). Anyway. The character here is Bonnie M[a]cFarlane, a presence I very much enjoyed in this western epic, and right up my alley as far as character design is concerned. This is very hastily done, but any practice is good practice, right?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Current reads.

The local library has a great selection of graphic novels - more than I've ever had access to, really! - so I've been up to my eyeballs in sequential art. One of the problems with getting into comics nowadays is that there's so much to choose from, with independent artists coming out the wazoo. So I figured I'd take a moment to cover a few that I've enjoyed recently, for those who might be interested in expanding their own lists.

Aya, Aya of Yop City, Aya: The Secrets Come Out
Marguerite Abouet (writer) and Clément Oubrerie (artist)

The year is 1979. The place is Cote d'Ivorie. Do you have any idea what's going on? Me, either, until I read three Aya books. This seems to be the goal of the authoress; to show people a thriving, peaceful region of Africa, and not the war-torn, starving imagery that most westerners retain. I didn't really appreciate the full scope of these works until I read reviews by others who had also spent a lot of time on the Ivory Coast - they raved that the region was captured so beautifully, through color and cultural detail, that it was an immaculate translation of their own memories.

Aya is sort of an endearing shojo chronicing the day-to-day dramas within a group of friends. The title character is nineteen years old; mature, smart, and aspiring to become a doctor in a rather misogynistic micro-culture. Older teen girls could do well by these tales, as Aya is a headstrong source of sanity while her friends get into trouble, doing things that teen girls do. The storylines are not unlike That '70s Show, but in Africa. And the artwork is cute... it makes infidelity and mild beatings palpable to a casual reader. Somehow it strikes a good balance.

I had trouble keeping all the characters straight through the first book. There's Aya, her two friends, their parents, several boyfriends, all their households, and several more townspeople introduced each book. Adding to the reader's plight are a smatterings of "dêh"s and "kêh"s, as well as other local dialect to spice things up. What helps is a character tree in the front of the book, and a glossary in the back. (A nice little bonus are the character-"written" pages with local recipes, dating tips, and more.) So if you're going to approach these books, really be prepared to engross yourself in the full Ivorian experience.

Cairo: A Graphic Novel
G. Willow Wilson (writer) and M.K. Perker (artist)

While this work showed a ton of promise – the first few pages hooked me – I was extremely disappointed that it was rushed. It's a light read, and perhaps worth reading, but not something for my shelf.

A good-for-nothing smuggler runs into a smuggled Israeli soldier, and there begins a sordid journey with two American characters, a jinn, and a smattering of other who-knows-what mythology. Lots of surprises! Parts of it were very slick and enjoyable – like a waxing-philosophical genie wearing a suit and garnished with his own slightly-scripty typeface – but others were kind of cheesy and rushed. The art is a strong black-white-and-gray scheme... sometimes anatomically questionable, but never distracting enough that it loses motion. By the end, it was trying to close up like a 2-hour film epic, but I just didn't feel the full impact. So, all in all, it was okay, but ultimately disappointing.

For me, this illustrated the need to really let a comic book breathe, and reach its full potential – it should have been longer, or a series. For me, this is an important warning!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Steamboat Follies?

A steampunk radio drama was written by Joe, but pushed aside for a time. When I asked for something new to draw, he dug it up for me and said that it was destined for visual comicry. I couldn't agree more! It was really fun looking up 19th century costume design, and he writes so purdy that it'd be a fantastic project. Who knows! For now, I dream of hoop dresses.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tab'rin with blue face paint.

My markers are itching to make some comics. Above is a design for my flagship character, Tab'rin, in traditional garb.