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Behind the Scenes: Lynch & Lucas

In terms of the sheer amount of time spent on each page, Lynch & Lucas is probably the most labor-intensive comic I’ve ever done, so I thought it might be nice to do a quick overview of where all that time went.

The comic’s text comes from this short interview with David Lynch. My first task was to get a transcription that I could work from. First I thought I would have to transcribe it by hand, but then I remembered that YouTube generates a transcript automatically! (Click on the “…” icon and choose “Open transcript”.) It wasn’t perfect but it was more than good enough for my purposes. I printed it out and reworked my script on paper. If you watch the video you’ll notice that I rearranged the order of some of the sentences, but other than that the whole thing is more or less verbatim.

Next I had to figure out how I was going to draw the characters. Drawing likenesses is not one of my strong suits so it took some experimentation to come up with the best way to do it. Generally I just redraw the person over and over again until I hit on a simplification that seems to work. With George Lucas it took a few tries, most of which looked nothing like him at all, before I got a result that seemed usable:
George Lucas sketch process

Note that I also switched to a brush pen before doing the final drawing there. Maybe that helped get a good result; who knows. In any event, I thought that one brush pen drawing ended up being a better likeness of Lucas than most of the appearances in the final comic. Oh well!

David Lynch was next up. Since the comic features both his younger and older likenesses, I had to figure out how to draw both. I started with his current look.
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Two new “biographicomics”!

The reason Non-Seen updates have been a bit sluggish lately is that I’ve been sidetracked by some side projects, including some short biographical vignette comics. These have been announced on Twitter previously but not everyone is on there (such as me. I’m not really on there.) so I thought I’d better mention them on here as well.

First up, we have Igor Stravinsky telling us about his dreams of the perfect interval:
Igor Stravinsky's Interval Dream

And then we have David Lynch’s tale of his fateful meeting with George Lucas:
When David Lynch met George Lucas

Normal updates to The Non-Seen should resume soon!

Comics Time: Friends With Boys

You know who can write a coming-of-age story better than John Green? Faith Erin Hicks, that’s who. And she can draw, too. Friends With Boys may not have any cancer patients or shallow philosophizing, but it does have plenty of character drama, attractive manga-style artwork, clever plotting, and impeccable comic layouts. If that’s not enough, there’s also a ghost.

fwb_03

The story centers around Maggie McKay, a girl who is starting high school after a childhood of homeschooling. According to the author biography, Hicks herself was homeschooled until high school as well, and (also like Maggie) has three brothers. As such, Hicks is clearly using her own life experiences as material, but rather than taking the easy route and writing a memoir (as far too many other cartoonists have done), she has instead synthesized a fictional scenario using her own childhood as a basis. Well played.

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Webcomics Time: Der-Shing Helmer!

Have you read any comics by Der-Shing Helmer? No? Shame on you! As artist-writers go, Ms. Helmer is up there with the best of them, and frankly, she’s more than the webcomics scene deserves. She took a hiatus that lasted a couple years, but now she’s back and better than ever–and producing two comics simultaneously, no less!

helmer01

I suppose I’m biased, given that Helmer works in one of my personal favorite genres–long-form speculative-fiction adventures–but her writing stands up beautifully regardless of one’s preferred subject matter. Her worlds are original and very completely realized, a tough thing to pull off. Her characters are complex and unique. Her writing can be a talky at times, but not so badly that it distracts from the experience. These are stories one will remember and think about.

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Behind the Scenes of The Non-Seen

As I launch into the exciting world of Chapter 2, I thought this might be a nice time to give you all a little peek into the process of making each page. Let’s take a look at the making of Page 1, start to finish.

The page begins as a script. I went back and forth a lot on what to open the chapter with, and ultimately decided to show Claire waking up on the first page, then cut to the parents talking on the second and third pages. Here’s what my script said:

We open with Claire awakening the following morning, happy at first and then transitioning to irritation as she thinks back to the events of the night before. She wants answers. She gets up.

Ruth is out at the shoreline, collecting marine life samples. Alan meets her with a cup of coffee on the way to the lighthouse. They discuss his dreams and his unsettled thoughts over the last couple days. Ruth mentions that she’s going on a trawling trip later.

As you can see, my scripts generally don’t include dialogue or any sort of blocking; I find that stuff easier to work out in thumbnails. Here’s how I initially broke down these three pages:
First draft- thumbnails for first three pages

As you may have noticed, these pages don’t really resemble that which I finally drew. These were a first draft and I ultimately scrapped them and tried again. (The slashes across the pages indicate that they are not for use in the final comic.) I eliminated the page with Claire because it seemed unnecessary and because I have a bad tendency to start chapters with characters waking up. Instead I decided to jump straight to the parents, and to merge their two pages into one, as it seemed a lot of that was filler. Here’s the final thumbnail (with this and all other images, I will display only the first panel. Click to see the rest):

second_draft_small

As you can see, the dialogue and blocking are more or less solidified at this point, and the panel arrangements have been decided.
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The Non-Seen: Debut!

The Non-Seen: Logo

Hey, remember that teaser I posted back in December? Well, it turns out it’s not another abandoned project, because Chapter 1 of that comic, which will is called The Non-Seen, will be debuting in the Comic section on April 1. I’d hoped to post this announcement a lot earlier so that there could be a period of anticipation, but I was too preoccupied with the comic itself to get the announcement together. The Reader Orientation is available now, and the first few pages will all appear on Tuesday. For the first month there will be two pages a week, and after that it’s probable that I’ll have to go to one page per week, but we’ll see. Enjoy!

And now: Bucephalus!

Bucephalus teaserHello all! My new comic is in the works and will begin appearing in this space soon. Honest. In the meantime, however, I’m re-running a series of strips which most of you will not have seen before. In 2010 I drew a semester’s worth of comics for my college newspaper (The Daily Campus of the University of Connecticut). The comic was called Bucephalus and it was a silly space opera. Very un-Sunrise-like. In any case, while you wait for the new comic, I provide these strips for your enjoyment. Bucephalus will appear every weekday from February 3 through March 21, in the comic section (formerly known as the Sunrise section).

Will Bucephalus ever be remade, nicer and better? Well, let’s see how much you guys like it.

Comic Teaser

teaser
Coming soon…?

Sunrise: The Complete Anthology

The complete anthology of Sunrise, my now-completed webcomic, is now available for purchase. Until February 16, the option of a signed and/or drawn-in copy is available. See this page for more details, or see below and after the fold for additional pictures and information. Click here to go ahead and order a copy for yourself.

Sunrise anthology, in isometric-esque view

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Ten Years of Zarks!

Zirconius: Allies and Enemies

This is a fateful date. You are probably already aware that it is Pi Day (especially so at 1:59) but it is also, coincidentally, the day that the Zarks were born. For it was on Pi Day in 2002 that I happened to create, almost absent-mindedly, a creature called a Zark to serve as a bit enemy in the embarrassingly-titled comic Space Kid. I’ve related this story a million times before, so I’ll just give the synopsis:

  1. Zarks turn out to be cooler than Space Kid
  2. Zarks gradually take over comic
  3. Zarks go on to star in video games and stuff

And so, to celebrate the first ten years of Zarkdom, I present the following show of rare and/or unseen images from their storied lineage. And if that’s not enough, I also offer you a digital copy of the complete Zirconius comics, a guide to the Easter Eggs of Into the Titan, and some old backstory: Maz’s journal. (Links are below the fold.) Share and enjoy.

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