Comics seem to be the underdog art form. It's rare to find someone who would view any of them on par with fine art or great literature, even though some comics combine both of those to tell magnificent stories. Of course, there's also the fact that most comics artists like to view themselves as the underdogs, the starving artists, the James-Dean rebels.
I just like to draw comics, plain and simple.
Here are some of the things I've drawn online, in roughly chronological order (newest stuff at bottom - updated 9/22/02):
- A 24-hour comic.
- An insane invention of Scott McCloud, a 24-hour comic is a comic that is created--from first imaginings to final inks--in 24-straight-hours. It's a challenge that a lot of folks have taken up (especially art school students, from what I understand)--and it's grueling but worthwhile. My own 24hr comic was a weird mishmash of things, fueled by random flips through the dictionary for inspiration; it's ultimately a story about an ancient evil, a raver, a rent-a-cop, and a museum after hours. I'm amazed it's even coherent.
- An experiment in simultaneity.
- (Riiiight.) This was a comic strip that I submitted to Greg Stephens as a No Contest entry based off an idea someone had in discussion on the Reinventing Comics messageboards. It tells a simple story in four panels, simultaneously in two rooms. Wait for the page to load completely, then move the mouse over the panels and you'll see what I mean.
- Man Bites Dog.
- It's not exactly a comic, but an idea engine. Having a creative block? This page is something I came up with in high school to prevent that from happening.
- I bought a new drawing tablet earlier this year. This was my first doodle with it. It seems to be most people's favorite.
- Guest strips.
- After seeing the doodle above, R Stevens of Diesel Sweeties invited me to draw a few strips (#141-145) during a week when he was falling a bit behind on comic-strippery and real life. I have a bad habit of trying to come up with an artistic challenge for myself, so I tried drawing each strip as if it were drawn by one of the characters in his comic. I think it came out pretty well...my favorite is Friday's, but I've always liked that genre.
A week later, I got a request to do the same from the eminently talented John Allison for his comic strip Bobbins (the British word for "crap"--more of that self-deprecating artist humor, I guess). Again, I had to come up with another gimmick, so this time, I drew five strips (May 14-18) each in the art style of a different country. This week actually tried to tell a story, but I think the whole project was a little too ambitious, and too pressed for time, so it didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped.
Also drew a strip for the geeky comics theory discussion at Zwol on Reiterating Comics.
In November, I contributed a panel to Derek Kirk's jam comic The Trouble With Ed, an ongoing story being told by master artists Derek, his brother Brent, Jesse Hamm (read "The Giantess"), Jason Shiga, Gene Yang, Ben Catmull, Lark Pien, Hyung Sun Kim, and more. Wowsa.
Recently (December 2001), I organized a holiday guest fortnight (yes!) at Diesel Sweeties (...it begins here). Ten amazing guest strips from the likes of Derek Kirk, Jesse Hamm, Dan Sandler, Vera Brosgol, Les McClaine, John Allison, Steph Pulford, Greg Stephens, and Jon Bennett. You can check out my contribution over here...including a larger version (.PNG, 197KB) that lets you see more of the details.
...and I got a guest strip up at Zwol...this time, making fun of the fact Greg hadn't updated in a long, long time.
- Catsitting Noir.
- Sleep deprivation and a lousy knack of saying "you're on" to artistic bets will get you into a bind like this one...I drew this bizarre tale of taking care of a cat (a la detective noir, with the cat as femme fatale) as a last-minute (literally) submission to the EXPO 2001 book. It didn't make the cut for some reason, although I was certain it was better than some of the arguably more bizarre, poorly-drawn stuff in the EXPO 2000 book. Maybe next time.
[This comic actually did see print--in the charitable Potlatch: Comics to Support the CBLDF. Buy a copy and support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.]
- The Comics Jam Calendar 2002.
- I had a few panels that made it into Jesse Reklaw and F.C. Brandt's calendar, made up grids of calendar days that are comics panels, with each month telling it's own twisted and often nonsensical story. My current "big" claim to fame, since I drew panels among some of the "top names" in indie comics. Yee-ha. Jesse sent me a couple copies of the final calendar (your prize for contributing) as well as several of his own comics and a note of encouragement...thanks, Jesse!
- Fusion is a very strange collaborative comic project masterminded by daniel in which you see only the panel created before yours. I contributed a panel to Music Kills and a panel to something about weight scales taking over the world.
- Lo-Fi Press
- Lo-Fi was a grand grassroots initiative to develop, edit, and distribute print comics internationally via the internet. I did a few random things for the project, like a flyer (written by JC! Fletcher) and an 8-page comic/pamphlet (written by Lyle B. Clarke). Lo-Fi has currently stalled completely; Lyle's in design school; I've been bogged down with other things, so I haven't finished the pamphlet. If someone wants to grab the torch and run, go ahead...
- Indie Rock Pete Hits Indie Rock Bottom
- This long-awaited, long-overdue miniseries, a spinoff of Diesel Sweeties and a tie-in with Song Fight!, debuted November 7, 2001, and was my first real webcomic series. R Stevens and I came up with the plot, Jeffrey Rowland wrote the snappy script, and I drew the squiggly pictures. The aesthetic of the two-tone strips was inspired by the comics at Highwater. (The biggest complaint about the series was that it ended too abruptly, so I guess that's a pretty good thing overall.) I learned an awful lot about working on a regular series from the month of IRP...so thanks go to R and Jeff for showing me how it's done.
(Answer: by the seat of one's pants!)
- My brother Nathan and I are now publishing a weekly serial 1940s pulp/noir adventure strip on ModernTales.com! It's a subscription site, but you'll always be able to see the latest week's strips for free. Why subscribe? If you do, you'll not only get access to all the archives, but also scripts, sketches, and other goodies we've got in the wings. And all proceeds from our strip go to the International Red Cross. Go! Check it out and let us know what you think (on the messageboards).
- On the burner...
- Drew a couple "one-hour comics"--the extremely foreshortened variant of McCloud's challenge. The first one had zombies because I felt like drawing zombies. The second one is unfinished because I ran out of time and Flash ate all my homework--I mean, linework for the first six panels; it's probably subliminally influenced by reading too much Bill Watterson and Paul Adam lately.
Aside from catching up and keeping up with Radiopolis schedule, not much else is on the burner. I'll probably throw together a site on huah.net to hype radiopolis and give some hints as to what's to come, but that might take a while.
Here's an incomplete list of some nifty, artistic folks to check out as well, in no particular order:
My brother, Nathan, is not only a phenomenal writer, but a talented cartoonist himself, although he'll deny it.
An expert pixel-pusher and the wit behind Diesel Sweeties, Richard Stevens III has encouraged me to draw comics almost as much as my brother. I don't know if that's a good thing, but R himself has been keeping himself busy with DS and the details of trying to eventually make a living off of drawing comics.
I couldn't say enough about John Allison's Bobbins (read the entire archives in one sitting) ...but then John killed off Bobbins to create the spinoff Scary-Go-Round which is even better! Jeffrey Rowland did the same thing with his old When I Grow Up, transmogrifying it into Wigu, which is (yes) even better!!
Utter comics genius. Go read!
I also suggest reading the works of T. Campbell and Jason Waltrip, and Maritza Campos--funny, clever writing, and webcomics you can get lost in.
Derek Kirk's work blows my mind. His small stories are just phenomenal, his humor spot on, and his depiction of life in Korea is hilariously accurate. Trust me.
Ditto for the work of Vera Brosgol. Her sketches and paintings have a life and verve and a mischief all their own. If you like mortifyingly senseless violence, great characterization, and a touch of magic realism, check out her weekly comic Return to Sender.
Greg Stephens' Zwol not only hosts forums for all sorts of artists and writers who want to discuss the next evolution of comics, but his strip has had some pretty innovative uses of panels and word balloons within the standard space of a comic strip.
Randy Oest's been quiet for a little while now, but his Subatomic Cafe sprang from the early brouhaha on the Zwol forums as a potential NPR/PBS style free public comics web site, and (to quote Monty Python) it's not quite dead yet. Check it out, at least to read his fascinating comic on the history of Valentine's Day.
Stephanie Pulford's an engineer and not an artist by her own measure, but she sells herself short. I don't know why exactly, but there's something undeniably endearing about her comic 6:35.
Alan Tew doesn't really update anymore (he should, though). He works for a company that makes video games, and then draws jaw-dropping figure sketches in his free time.
Dan Sandler recently reposted his old Captain Jim comics. This sci-fi space opera was one of the very first comics on the Web (I remember reading it in 1995 with Netscape 0.9 beta!)...and the art and story get consistently more intriguing with each issue. He's going to start drawing comics again...I've seen a preview, and it looks like good stuff. (What else?) Sign up for the announcement list.
Jason Powers, designer and comics artist, draws clever little books that fit in the jewel cases that CDs are stored in. (I laughed out loud at the ritual of meat-sitting! Read DD6 to figure out what I'm talking about.)
Jason Shiga is a storytelling GENIUS. Don't believe me? See some of the stuff he's cooked up in the "interactive comics" section of the site. His book Meanwhile... is mindbogglingly brilliant.
Jason Lutes' Berlin is like reading a work of literature. It's poignant, intelligent, and compelling.
Jason Little draws the sordid and lively ongoing adventures of plucky film-developer Bee. You also ought to see his 3D comic "The Abduction Announcement"--requires no polarized glasses, but the effect is just as vivid!
Jason Pultz's got skills--he draws a Comic Strip, too.
I almost forgot to mention ndroid (see the Comikaze projects, although be warned the sketchbooks can be risque), the astounding "Piercing" by David Gaddis, Justine Shaw's Nowhere Girl (which is amazing--and much MUCH better than the name might imply), Caleb Sevcik's Zap Jones, the Seattle-based Comics As Fine Art club, Xtine Norrie and the folks at the House of Spookoo, Scott McCloud's Morning Improv, and all the folks who won Xeric grants...I'm sure I'll add more later.
So, why isn't this a fancy page?
I've got an idea for a better page, but like General Patton once said in WWII, something half-decent now is better than something perfect next week, right?
Give me a few
Besides, if the nondescript, "old-school" home page is good enough for Neal Stephenson, why can't it be good enough for me?
(Answer: I'm not a renowned and well-paid novelist.)