Apr 14, 2011

Size Matters Not.

A few nights ago I was showing Jennie some of the things I've been drawing lately - faces one and all. The page I showed her had five of them on it, and wasn't even full. She looked at them for a minute and said, "Why are they all so small?"

Little Boxes
'Roid rage guy, sideways tennis player, bad 11th Doctor, horrendous Amy Pond,
and ink drawing of me just to prove I can still sort of draw sometimes.

I've always drawn stuff small. Or, rather, compact. I'd never really thought about why I do that. A printed comic book page is a little smaller than 8 1/2" by 11", but the artist generally draws it much larger than that and it is then shrunk down to fit the page. When I drew my mini-comic, I drew it all at actual size, and even laid out the way it would be printed - the original art is just four sheets of regular printer paper, with each sheet having two side-by-side pages on it. The idea of drawing it any other way terrified me. How would you make copies at Kinkos of the pages weren't already laid out how you wanted them? Clearly, I'm totally professional about this.

I got to thinking about why I draw things small, though, and I think I've cracked it. The smaller I draw something, the less detail I feel like I have to include. I can get away with not trying as hard if I draw something small. The bigger the drawing, the more space there is to fill. Maybe that's not the way I should look at it, but it seems to be how my mind works.

When I write, I'm not afraid of the blank page. I know some writers are, but it's never really intimidated me. When I draw, though, the blank page might as well be laughing at me. What if what I put on it looks like crap? Only recently have I come to realize that it doesn't matter. A vast majority of what I'm going to put down is going to look awful. The only way to do it right is to do it wrong a whole bunch first.

In class tonight, we pretty much just had free drawing time the whole time. I decided to draw a face, much larger scale than what I had been drawing. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. It's a bald woman, because I didn't want to try to draw hair and completely ruin it (hair is hard!). I think there's a bald woman in the first Star Trek movie, so let's say that it's supposed to be her. The drawings on the first page took probably half an hour each. This drawing took me an hour and a half just to do blueline. I feel like it shows.

Bald Woman

Apr 6, 2011

He will learn patience.

I've been thinking a lot about drawing lately, which I'm sure is no surprise given the nature of this blog. But I've been thinking about it, and in particular I've been thinking about not drawing, about what it's like when I draw and what it is that keeps me from doing it more often.

I doodle all the time. I've wasted countless post-it notes at work with random sketches of Batman or The Flash or just some random person. It's a nice little diversion from whatever I'm working on, and perhaps more importantly it's quick. I start it and I finish it in about twenty seconds, and then I move on with my day.

I think that's how I want all drawing to be: quick. As soon as I start, I just want to be done so I can move on to the next thing. Put another way, I have no patience. If I stop, or even if I slow down, I will either get frustrated or lose interest. I want to draw, but I always want to be done. Perhaps I have some weird addiction to the feeling of having completed something, which is truly a wonderful feeling. But it's a quick fix, and nothing compared to the feeling of having worked hard on something for a long time and seeing the end result. I felt that after I finished my first mini-comic, and while I still am not happy with the quality of the art I know that it's the best I could do and that I took my time with it and put everything I had into it.

I attended a small comic convention this past weekend, and there I managed to pick up a copy of The DC Comics Guide to Pencilling Comics for $5. There are no exercises or anything in this book, it's mostly a how-to book for beginners, which is what I need. My plan, then, is to work my way through this book. The first chapter is on drawing faces, so that's what I'm going to do first. I may spend a week or two on the blog posting nothing but drawings of different faces. Hopefully I will learn things as I go and there will be some sort of improvement. I think, though, that as long as I slow down and really spend some time thinking about what I'm drawing, that that will help. Here's hoping, anyway.

I've also signed up for a drawing class at a local art center. It's a ten-week course that starts tomorrow. I'll post stuff from that class as well, and I'm sure I'll work on whatever techniques I learn there right here. I'm pretty excited about the course, about the book, and about this whole undertaking. Here's hoping it actually takes me somewhere.

I'll leave you with a sketch that I did at a bowling alley a few months ago. It's a design sheet for a Norman Bates action figure, with swappable heads. Spoilers for Psycho, but, really, it's been 50 years, you should have seen it by now.


Apr 4, 2011

On Green Lantern (or, Haters Gon' Hate)


I don't have strong feelings on Green Lantern. I've never been particularly interested in the character, though I did enjoy Kyle Rayner's characterization in Grant Morrison's JLA run. I read some Hal Jordan stories sporadically up to and including when he went nuts and destroyed all the other Green Lanterns, and I thought he was way more interesting as a villain than he ever was as hero. Of course, we all know now that he only went bad because he was possessed by a yellow fear demon (I mean, naturally, right?), but whatever.

So now there's a Green Lantern movie coming out this year, and the internets, they are abuzz. Maybe it's because I don't have a strong attachment to Green Lantern, but I think the movie looks completely awesome. I enjoy Ryan Reynolds, and I think CG technology has gotten to the point where ring constructs won't look goofy or completely fake.

Maybe I just hang around in the wrong places (oh, internet fan forums, I wish I knew how to quit you), but the general consensus, at least up until this past weekend, was that this movie was going to be terrible. People have complained about how the costume looks, but for something that was always supposed to be formed on his body by his ring I don't know what people were expecting. Others have complained about Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan. For those that don't know, Hal Jordan is a test pilot who is chosen to become Green Lantern because of his great willpower and because he's fearless. In old Silver Age comics, fearless apparently meant totally boring. The best Hal Jordan stories I ever read were in JLA: Year One and Flash/Green Lantern: The Brave and the Bold, both by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson. In those comics, Hal is portrayed the way that someone who is actually 'fearless' would be portrayed: he's cocky. Not arrogant, but definitely more than a little self-assured. I see that in Ryan Reynolds, or at least I think he can play that. I don't think of Hal Jordan often, but when I do that's what I think of. Also, yellow fear demons.

New footage from GL was revealed at this past weekend's WonderCon, and a lot of people who I've seen previously disparage the GL movie have changed their tunes. Part of it, I think, is that the effects are much more polished in the footage that was shown, and I think you get a better feel for what the movie will look and feel like. The other part of it, though, is something I've been thinking about for a little while, and it's this: on the internet, at least in the nerd/fandom community, it seems that the default position is "this sucks".

Example: a few weeks ago I posted something on Facebook about how the aforementioned Mark Waid is going to be writing Daredevil. A couple of comments in, a guy I know through a friend at work goes off on a tirade about how the recently announced Daredevil movie (what I posted had nothing to do with the movie, nor had any commenters mentioned it), for which there is no casting and no script, only an attached director, is awful, how it is being marketed to appeal to the Twilight crowd, and a bunch of other nonsense that was based on nothing at all. I've heard the same guy complain about how the new Spider-Man movie is being marketed. Neither of these movies have had any marketing completed, save for the release of a few photos of Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man that didn't really scream 'sparkly vampire' to me. That didn't stop this guy for going off at length in nerd outrage about how awful those two movies are.

Is it just easier to hate stuff right off the bat than it is to give stuff a chance? Or is it just how people are? I feel like I tend to be predisposed to enjoy things; maybe there are some people who are just predisposed to hate things. Once you've experienced something, feel free to rag on it all you want. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and the more the merrier, unless that opinion is ill-informed, in which case I pretty much don't want to hear it.

I know this isn't revelatory at all - there's negativity on the internet? Joe, I never noticed that before! - but it's really been bothering me lately, and it's something that I really try to avoid. I'm not promising that I won't rant about stuff every now and then; after all, I've got a mental folder full of Flash rants that aren't just going to go away. But I do promise, as something of a pledge, that I will give things the benefit of the doubt before I complain about them. I challenge you, dear reader, to do the same.

So how about that Green Lantern drawing? I had to draw the head twice, but I'm proud that I successfully photoshopped the new head onto the existing body. His left arm is pretty bad, but I like the right fist. He doesn't really look like any one specific Green Lantern - it's sort of Kyle Rayner in Hal Jordan's current costume. What do you think? What works, what doesn't?

Apr 3, 2011

Work In Progress.

Oh, hello. I didn't see you there. How long have you been looking at me? Stop it, that's creepy.

So, you might be looking for Joe's Apartment. I'm afraid that place is gone. Yeah, it closed down a few months ago. I know, there was no fanfare, it just sort of faded away. Such is life, I suppose. You can still read any of what was posted there here. There's some classics, for sure, and no shortage of nerdery.

My favorite form of nerdery is comic book nerdery. Always has been, and probably always will be. I enjoy reading comics, talking about comics, and making comics. That last one is sort of what inspired this little format change.

I made a comic last year, a short, 8-page thing called Post-Script. I wrote and drew it, and my pal Jason Young drew the cover for it. I'm really proud of the story, even if I think there are things I could improve or expand upon. I think it definitely reads like a 'first comic.'

What I'm not terribly happy with is the art. It's pretty bad. I think it improves over the course of the eight pages, though. The more that I draw, the better (or, at least, more comfortable) I get, I think, if not by leaps and bounds but by little increments. I believe that, some day, I will be a pretty decent artist.

So that's what this revamp is for. I'm going to post drawings, talk about learning to draw, and as I work on stuff for comics and what-not I'll post stuff about that. It'll be partly about the process of making a comic, once I get to that, but mostly it'll be about me trying to improve as an artist. Some of the stuff that's going to go up here is going to be, I'm sure, awful. But hopefully it'll all lead somewhere good.

If you're reading this on an RSS feed, you won't see the full revamp - you'll have to click through to get the full effect (I know, what a pain in the ass). I hope you'll check it out, though, and that you'll join me for what will hopefully be a fun ride. Maybe you'll learn something, too, though I make no promises.

Goodbye, Joe's Apartment. Hello, Work In Progress.