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Behind the Scenes of The Non-Seen

March 7th, 2015 | Artwork, Process, 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!

March 30th, 2014 | Artwork, Comics, The Non-Seen

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!

February 2nd, 2014 | Comics

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

December 27th, 2013 | Comics

teaser
Coming soon…?

Sunrise: The Complete Anthology

February 2nd, 2013 | Artwork, Comics, Sunrise

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!

March 14th, 2012 | Artwork, Comics, Et Cetera

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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Starring “The Lorax” as Himself!

March 6th, 2012 | Comics, Et Cetera

The Lorax comic

So, they’ve appropriated a character who preaches not just an environmental message, but also an anti-consumerism message, and they’re using him in advertisements. Advertisements! Advertisements for cars! I don’t care if he is fictional… this is slander.

And, on a side note, how do you make a movie out of Dr. Seuss and get a PG rating? Actually, forget asking how, what about why? Also who, when and where. Someone has to account for this whole travesty.

Sunrise Covers Breakdown

November 13th, 2011 | Comics, Et Cetera, Sunrise

Sunrise covers

Size of dot reflects character’s proximity to camera. Orange line indicates the character’s duration within the series. Characters who never appeared on a cover: Stephenson and Ritchie.

Color swatches show basic palette of cover art. Apparently the best way to imitate a Sunrise cover would be to use a lot of gray, a little sky blue, and desaturated colors.

On Location (Digitally)

October 10th, 2011 | Process, Sunrise

Perspective is always a challenge. This is doubly true when working with scenes that don’t exist. Some of the first scenes in Sunrise Issue 10 take place in an enormous hangar containing an airship. What’s an artist to do in this situation? Well, why not build an airship hangar?

Nefertiti In Hangar, 1

Nefertiti In Hangar, 2

Not a real hangar, obviously… a couple hours in Blender and I’ve thrown together this lovely digital hangar which has already saved me endless frustration. For those of you unfamiliar with the technology, this is a digital 3D model which the computer can render from any angle. Of course, the excitement doesn’t end with accurate perspective, because this is also a lit model! Take a gander:

Nefertiti In Hangar, rendered

My “people” are made of blocks, yes, but still, it’s nice to know where all the shadows fall.

With this in hand, I can go back to my paper and ultimately produce this:

Nefertiti in Hangar, complete

Accurate perspective and realistic lighting, with no cursing or sobbing required. Computers, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s give them a big hand.

Sunrise, Setting

August 30th, 2011 | Comics, Sunrise

Issue 9 before being put into storage

Quick, what’s the difference between Calvin and Hobbes and Star Wars? Naturally, the two have so little in common that the question hardly makes sense. The comparison which I’m trying to draw, though, is this: Bill Watterson ended his series early, when it was still in its prime, while George Lucas’s epic continues staggering along, soiling its legacy a little more with each installment. While I’d like to see more Calvin and Hobbes as much as the next guy, I have to admit that I’m glad Watterson ended it before it turned sour.

You can probably see where this is going. I am going to be ending Sunrise following the completion of Issue 10. This was not an easy decision for me to make, and I’ve given it a lot of thought. Sunrise has served me well. When I started it in 2008, the only long-format comics I’d drawn were my Zark stories. I hadn’t taken any figure drawing or illustration classes yet. I wasn’t yet reading graphic novels(!). Now, ten issues later, my artwork has improved dramatically and my writing has followed suit. (How strange to think that the most recent issue was more than twice as long as the first!) Sunrise has always been primarily a learning experience for me, and I’d like to think I’ve learned its lessons well. It’s time for me to graduate.

But why graduate now, when it’s only just becoming strong? Well, to be honest, I’m getting tired of it. The episodic format doesn’t interest me as it once did. I want to move toward working with long-form stories (e.g., graphic novels) and Sunrise does not lend itself to that. Secondly, I’m interested in moving away from genre fiction. While I do have some ideas for a sprawling space opera (and Realm of course) I think it might be fun to do something about the real world for a change. Finally, Sunrise has some inherent limitations that become more pronounced to me with every issue. It too often tends to have very long passages of dialogue, and in many cases there are no opportunities for interesting visuals. As I’ve said previously, Sunrise is based pretty closely on Star Trek, and Star Trek is not a comic. This kind of storytelling works much better on TV. In short, Sunrise is wearing thin, and I’m ready to try something new.

Which is, of course, what this really comes down to. While Sunrise is ending, I have numerous other projects, at least one of which will move up to take the spotlight that Sunrise is currently occupying. Realm is one possibility. I’m also planning a graphic novel which might be well-timed to start soon. And, dare I mention it, a silly science-fiction gag strip which I may run in the interim. Suffice it to say (and this cannot be stressed enough) I am not leaving webcomics. Sunrise or no, I will be making something, so do stop by and see what it is. Naturally there will be further announcements as the time grows near.

Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that Issue 10 is going to be awesome. It’s got airships. It’s got action. It’s got drama. It’s got over 70 pages. It’s also the most Tintinesque issue yet, so some of you will appreciate that I’m sure. So don’t be glum. Buckle up and thanks for coming along for the ride.

Jonah Robinson, Raven, Albee… how can I ever forget them?