Super Awesome Update

But first, an explanation as to why I haven’t updated:

I’ve let my weekly meetings slip by me the last 3 weeks, since I injured my neck. I’ve been busy with chiropractic and massage treatments to begin the process of retraining the reverse curve in my neck, which kills when I lean over at my desk. 

Okay, so the AWESOME news:

I went to HeroesCon 2015 on a whim. I found out it was going on literally 24 hours before it was going to end, so, I did what any maniac would, and I pulled an all-nighter. re-inking my first comic page with a brush, and also a page I drew over a year ago and never intended to keep. 

After a night of no sleep and all ink, I headed out for the 3 hour drive. I didn’t even have time to go to FedEx and get copies of the dang things. I had no fancy portfolio. Just a worn out, orange scrapbook that I threw into a canvas grocery tote. I also included an ink I did of one of Terry Dodson’s cover art pencils, and a random Captain America page I found on the web and had practiced inking on. None of this was intended for the eyes of anyone… just my first attempt at inking someone else’s pencils.

There were about 22 others at the portfolio review. At least half were SCAD graduates. Every single person except me had a fancy black portfolio. Dammit!! I was the unprepared oddball. I listened intently to a lot of the other artists’ reviews, even after mine had been given, to get an idea of where I stood in this game. 

The reviewer (a very big deal kind of guy) said that I definitely had talent. I did not hear him use the “t-word” in any other review (but then again, I did duck out once there were only 3 people left to review because I held my bladder for way too long at that point). All of my life’s struggles just vanished for a moment, when he said that. I so rarely tell myself I’m good. As stupid as it may sound, I needed to hear that, even if he was just saying it to keep me going. It did mean a lot to me. It meant the world. 

I mentioned I held a BFA in Digital Art, but that my past work was conceptual and performative. He asked what I wanted to do in comics, and I said I wanted to publish a graphic novel, and also work as an inker for either Marvel or DC, eventually graduating up to a penciler. He said my work was ready for the industry and to “be annoying” by emailing editors with ink samples. He did mention that I needed to use the brush more (not the Micron pens) for the organic line look, and to get ahold of some additional pencils from a few other artists to demonstrate that I could ink anything, good or bad.

And regarding the epic 3-part 300 page graphic novel project (my Self-MFA program), he said (paraphrasing): 

“Stop RIGHT NOW on your graphic novel, and get work inking. Then, when you’re working as an inker, you can pitch your story to your editor…” (and then he talked about that process)… “It’s not going to pay out if you self-publish something that long with years of effort put into it.” 

Coming from the editor-in-chief of a big entertainment company, with an Eisner no less, don't blame me if that advice is gold to me right now. I do want to publish the GN. I want to do it right, with strategy.  

I’m halting this experimental SMFA program right now to follow my leads to comic jobs. The real world called. It said I don’t need an MFA.

I’ll post here as often as I can with updates, however I’m going to be super busy trying to locate some sequential pencils from others to ink, and redesigning my website for comics jobs. 

Not to mention, I’m moving back to my second home in Colorado in all this momentum. 

SMFA Week 3 review

The illustrator in me, Sal, and the writer in me, Sol, had a very difficult meeting with the Director (also me) today. We were all 2 days behind schedule, due to the Director getting distracted last week with ideas about a portfolio website, which ended up confusing Sol on her priorities. {Note: I’ve decided that Sal is male, and Sol is female. I think this has something to do with my animus balancing me out but who really knows.}

Ultimately we decided that the distraction was worth the lesson. More in a second, on that.

If this is a Self-MFA program, than it has to be at least equivalent, if not better, than a certified program from a university. The materials to be studied and the projects to complete must not only lend themselves to mastering in an art form, but also to acquiring work in the real world. That’s the whole point and reasoning behind the SMFA. To get really good at something, beyond just the looks of it, but also into the theory of it. 

Most traditional MFA programs have the added bonus of peer support and making connections to people who can open doors. So, in replacement of that, we decided that we need a DeviantArt account, and we need to get to more Cons. We also need a completely new portfolio website that has only sequential art (which we can print and bring to ComicCons for review and critique).

The distraction I mentioned earlier, happened because I listened to a Gutter Talk podcast by the folks over at Making Comics. Scott Mccloud was the guest on the episode, and he talked about starting SLOW. How, when we know we want to work in comics, we want to jump in and do our epic 200-page graphic novel right off the bat. (Shit!) Considering that he just accomplished his first creator-owned graphic novel that he wrote and illustrated, and it took him FIVE YEARS (its almost 500 pages!), I listened intently. He suggested trying a ONE PAGE comic. Start there. And then a two-page, and four-page, and so on, doubling each time. 

So, were implementing that exercise into our curriculum. (And at some point if anyone ever ends up reading this, I’m going to look like a lunatic, having split myself up into 3 people in order to make this work. Is the Director even a person? Who knows.)

For the next 7 weeks, this is the lineup of comic shorts for Sol to write and for Sal to illustrate:

Next week: Create a 1-page comic.

2nd week: Create a 2-page comic.

3rd and 4th weeks: Create a 4-page comic.

5th, 6th and 7th weeks: Create an 8-page comic.

In the 8th week, the Director is going to post the best pages out of those works online, and create an entirely new portfolio site. Currently the website is a graveyard of past accomplishments and fine art, but nothing relating to sequential art or comics. It’s going to get a makeover in the week of July 16 - July 22. (Our week now starts on Wednesday, humpday.)

The week of July 23rd, we’re taking a vacation, dammit. We will need it for what comes next.

By August 1st, Sol will begin writing a 22-page minicomic. By October 1st, Sal will have completed illustrating that comic. It may be a series of short stories, or it may be a serialized version of the intro to the graphic novel. To be determined later. Printing will be done by Oct 7th, if possible, in the case that I get my ass to NYCC for portfolio reviews. By Oct 24th the prints must be done, to be ready for distribution at ACE: Asheville Comic Expo. ACE was founded and is organized by Comic Envy, an awesome local comic shop here.

All the while, Sol is to be continuing the outlining of the graphic novel. She came up with her method of timelining the story and keeping organized in a visual diagram, to serve as a compass along the path of filling in the gaps. We decided that for our own good, we had better not try to combine a webcomic with a graphic novel. We’re sticking with the three-part structure, contained in one book. 

Due for next week:

Sol: Read Ch 2, Ch 3 in Mastering Comics. Write a 1-page comic.

Sal: Read Ch 4, Ch 5 in Mastering Comics. Draw the 1-page comic.

A return to inking...


Week 2. First and second attempts at comic style inking. These are 8x10s. I started with a blue pastel sketch of my facehead, then did the inking with design markers on tracing paper, laid over the sketch. The first one (seen below, with crosshatching and parallel lines) took me a little over 3 hours. The second one (seen at the top, with pointillism and some other new technique I’m calling ‘squarism’), took me about 5 hours. 

pointillism (pointl-izem): n. the gateway to controlled madness.

Wk 2 Review, SMFA program

This last week in my Self-Master’s of Fine Arts program (not to be confused with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), my two halves Sal and Sol achieved much. 

Sal did 8 hours of self study in inking techniques, of which I will post next. I hate that I can’t figure out how to post pictures with a header/title, otherwise I’d include them in this post. Sal decided on some major uses of a few different techniques that will carry the story forward visually and relate to the identity of the main character and the theme.

Sol did a lot of work in freewriting. Sol came up with a freewrite technique (it’s pretty freakin fun!) to release unconscious mental content and make connections in the plot to many of the main characters, which were previously hidden. That process brought about the coming to terms with the ending of the story, which was a great weight off of my chest.

This week’s assignments:


-Do 5 more hours in self study on drawing and inking fabric, especially the folds, as they occur on the human form as it bends and moves.

-Finish the initial tracing paper assignment but make sure to only use examples of 2 or 3 point perspective. Use five examples, and find the perspective guide points that the original artist used to create the scene.


-Create the visual diagram for plotting timelines, to be used for all plotting.

-Go through all collected notes and files, and plot the timeline of major events and turning points. Don’t get caught up in plotting minor events yet.

-Begin plotting separate timelines of main characters. Don’t plot minor characters yet, no matter how tempting.