Cartoon and Illustration

Holiday scribbling

whiteboardxp72So yesterday I was waiting for my brother and his family to come back from a trip to Biltmore House (not far from where I live–about 45 minutes actually) and I got to scribbling on a white board that I’d left at the house.  We’d held a party on Saturday and a lot of kids were there playing with said board.  They’d gotten to spraying window cleaner on it and watching the images they’d drawn melt away.  That gave me a great idea.

I began experimenting with whiteboard using multiple layers of color with some splatter of window cleaner between applications.  Here’s the result.  It’s perhaps not great art, but I’m pleased with taking the medium to a new level for me.

I’ve been mostly frustrated by whiteboard as a medium and wondered how some people managed to get anything of worth on the things.  Now I’ve got a working method for making better whiteboard art.

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Cartoon and Illustration

Merry Christmas to all!

Just posting a short note today as I’ve still got prepping to do for Christmas (as do so many others out there, I’m sure).

But didn’t want the day to go by without sending out a Christmas greeting.

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Been using this same graphic several times this year, because there has just been so much to do.  So I originally used it on a poster for Gypsy Bandwagon’s performance at Classic Wineseller–a shop in our home town that has been very good to us as a band.  While we didn’t have the number of attendees that we have had on Saint Patrick’s Day, or July 4th, the crowd we did have were very generous and tipped us well.  The poster included similar images of our cohorts, Lance and Carissa Moore.

Then I used the graphic of Karin and myself to announce a party we were having for my cartooning buddies on December 21.  Lance sent a number of funny e-mails saying that Gypsy Bandwagon was going to sue for copyright infringement.  I sent back several “counter-suits” and they showed up at the party anyway 😉

Now I’m using the graphic for today’s greeting.  I don’t want any of my fellow Christians to think I’m trying to go all secular by the use of the elf graphic.  These things just hit me from time to time, and I have to go with inspiration as it is supplied.  This year it was elves.  But I do wish everyone a Merry Christmas and hope that they do recall that the prime importance of this season is as a reminder that God took on the form of humanity in order to save His people from the curse of sin.

Keep in mind that even though we celebrate this season (in all manner of forms, some more proper than others) that in a way we’re celebrating Christ’s humiliation.  He was simply humbled by being tortured and killed on a cross 30 some years after his glorious birth–He was, in fact, in the process of dying from the moment of his conception.  He was born to die in the place of lost sinners.

And a lot of people have made a huge deal out of the sign in the heavens, trying to discern if it was a comet, a supernova, etc.  But the real sign that Jesus Christ was exactly who He claimed to be is that He rose from the dead.

One really can’t separate Christmas from the Resurrection.  Oh, we humans try–oh, how we try.  But it can’t be done.

So, a Merry Christmas to all.  That is, I hope the knowledge that God loves you so much that He was willing to take on this humiliation for the sake of your possible salvation brings you joy and peace.

Presents under the tree are nice, but the greatest present of all was hung on a tree to die, and then rose again.

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Cartoon and Illustration

So, here’s where things are at right now…

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This is the follow up to my visit to Borderlands Comics and Games in Greenville, SC, and also to my work on The Other Dead #5–so if the image looks redundant, my apologies, but I’ve been busy.

So, going back a week or two–I was scrabbling around looking for work between a bit of a disappointing showing at Yama-Con and knowing I’d be going to Borderlands for a shop signing.  I kind of mentioned to Joshua Ortega that I was looking for work in an e-mail and he told me that The Other Dead team was a bit behind on issue #5, and then he asked if I’d be willing to ink some.

As it ended up, I did five pages of TOD #5 last week.  A bit out of my line, what with all the over the top violence inherent in a zombie story–but I have to say that it felt pretty right inking over Qing Ping Mui’s pencils.  I mentioned previously that it seems like Qing’s work is about half Van Gogh and half Carmine Infantino–but I also realized there was more than a little resemblance to Chuck Wojtkiewicz’s work as well.  Seeing as Chuck and I did a number of things together back in the 80s and 90s, that too felt familiar.

But, I have to confess that working alone in my studio there’s not a lot of feedback, and I tend to get kind of paranoid on any project that I’m working on.  In this particular case the “voice of doubt” took the form of me worrying that they were going to pull the pages back at any moment and pass them along to another inker (there were at least two others working on the same issue).  Even though every time I’d turn in a page Joshua and Qing would make a point to let me know that they were pleased with it (dropping an e-mail each time) I was still living with that fear.

Well, Sunday came and I was putting in some extra hours after church and lunch out with some friends–and I got an e-mail asking if I’d care to take on a couple more pages.  But with the deadline being Monday, I told them I couldn’t.  Normally I would have, but I had to get to work decorating the house, some church business to take care of, and preparations to make for Borderlands.

So I turned them down–figuring even if they were happy with my inking on TOD #5 that would probably be the end of it.

Then I turned in the last page on Monday afternoon and got a response back from Qing asking if I’d care to help out on issue #6.

Sure!  How exciting!

This really helped me get ready for my visit to Borderlands.  Having a project pending is always a big boost when planning a public appearance.

So yesterday I got up early (not as early as I planned–because I mis-set the alarm clock, but managed to make a quick prep anyway) and drove the 80 some miles to Greenville, SC.  Met with Robert Young, who owns and operates Borderlands Comics and Games there in the “upstate”.

Robert and I have crossed paths many times over the years.  He used to work for Shelton Drum at Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find, and so has been involved in fandom and comics retailing at least since the 90s.  One of the first things Robert did was give me a sheet of Walter Gibson’s personal stationery, and commission a sketch of The Shadow–thereby winning my heart immediately.

Seems that Robert picked up a batch of the Walter Gibson stationery at the estate sale of The Shadow’s creator.  So he has a few sheets of this stuff to hand around, but it’s still pretty cool to have a piece of paper that says “Shadowgram” to put in my archives.  And drawing The Shadow is always fun.  There are just so many ways to approach the character–I tried to embrace my “inner Frank Robbins” and ended up doing a mostly brush interpretation.  Even though Robert only asked for a black and white sketch, I ultimately ended up doing a full color piece (well, accented neutral–the Shadow being mostly black, gray and red).

Actually I got only interesting commissions all day!  Normally there’s at least one “clunker” in the bunch–one that you really have to work to find interest in doing.  But not yesterday.  Shadow was followed by Black Canary.  That was followed by Cocky the Gamecock mascot (a nice change from doing strict superhero work)

Okay, great, ended up losing about half of this post due to some glitch.  I’m too pressed to re-type it–but let me just say that I had a great time at Borderlands and am looking forward to another visit soon (as well as attending SC Comicon 2014 that they’re organizing).

A shout out to Tom Littlejohn who came by and asked for a Batgirl sketch–which he’ll get in 2014 at one of our cartoonist meetings.

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Cartoon and Illustration

Quick inking notes (or should I say “Qick” inking notes?)

So, briefly (because I am just taking a break for a few minutes today) I am presently inking a set of five pages for the upcoming issue of “The Other Dead” from IDW.

Thought it might be good to mention this as I’m working and maybe drop in now and then to tell about the progress of the process.

What happened is that I’m friends with Joshua Ortega the writer of this series–which has taken off like a rocket since it’s release in late summer–and when the team got behind they asked a number of friends to step in and ink a few pages each to get things back on track.  

First off let me say that I’m really enjoying inking over Qing Ping Mui’s pencil art (thus the bad pun in the subject line).  Qing has a very free-wheeling pencil style.  Equal parts Van Gogh and Carmine Infantino, is how I’d describe it in artistic influence terms (if I’m any judge of such things).  Which allows me a great deal of freedom with my inks.

I’m doing pages 11, 13-16.  Also a great position to be in.  The story is well in swing before I ever have to appear, and the characters are all established by their costumes, attitudes, etc.

So when I have to draw President Obama whacking zombies with an axe there’s not a lot of pressure to make him a political caricature–or any such typical shorthand.  Just follow Qing’s pencils.  It’s kind of like if an actor is portraying a particular historic figure–once they’ve got the basic shtick down they can just be themselves.

 Free-wheeling myself today.  Just drawing little loopy lines and not worrying about the technical bits right now.

I’ve got some ink on all five pages of blue-lined artwork (which I output yesterday by means of hastily sent tiff files, a run through photoshop to make the pencils look blue and then a trip to the local printers to use their color laser printer to put it all on bristol board).  This is a great way to ink–it’s sort of like moving all over the entire canvas when doing a painting–working it up all over rather than getting too concerned with one single area.

Qing also has a really cool style when it comes to drawing animals!  Some awesome looking zombie animals in this issue.  This is not the sort of book I’ve previously been that associated with (I did do a pin-up in issue one, but that was the very first zombie art I’d ever done).

Anyway, I’m just at the point of pulling out the fine point brush right now.  I’ve been doing all the pen work up to now and want to take a break from that.  Which involves me also putting back on my glasses and backing up a bit to “spot in the blacks” (as we say in comics-biz).

Another cool thing about working for these guys is that they all say, “Just have fun with it!  You’re a consummate pro–it will look great!”  I don’t hear that from editors and publishers very often.  Thanks for the strokes, guys.  I’ll try to do you proud.

Also, this book is under the creative consultation of Kevin Eastman–Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator?  That can’t hurt my career any.

Back to work.

 

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Cartoon and Illustration

Off to Yama-Con!

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Tales of the Obscure artwork © James E. Lyle.  All rights reserved.

I won’t be driving through the desert in the back seat of a car piloted by a teenage bikini model with a gun–and I am not a cephalopod either–but I do feel an impending sense of adventure at the prospect of going to Pigeon Forge this weekend for Yama-Con (Round Two: Fight!)

I attended Yama-Con for a single day last year, commuting to the event for Saturday.  I was treated very well–as well as I’ve been treated at almost any show.  But then again, since I have a number of friends who are on various organizing committees of this show–that helps.  (A “shout out” to Tim, Becky, and Charlie.)

This year I decided to take the plunge and go for the full weekend.  This means I’ve booked a room at the host hotel, will be taking all my meals in Pigeon Forge, etc.   This sets the bar high for returns on my appearance there. 

To that end, I’ve also corrected for a number of failures made at last year’s show.

1)  I lost sales at last year’s show simply because I could not take credit cards.  This year I have a smartphone and card reader ready to go.

2) The very fact that I’m going to be there all three days is a correction on last year.  I need to commit.

3)  I also need to wave my geek banner high!  In my younger days I’d show up at conventions and be part of the events.  I’d wear my comic book character shirts, Doctor Who scarf, mingle with the other fans, etc.  In recent years I’ve been somewhat reluctant to stand out–or rather I have stood out by not taking part on the festivities, dressing in “ordinary clothes”, etc.  This year, the Doctor Who scarf returns!  I’m wearing my Flash sneakers! It’s not exactly cosplay, but at least I’m going into carnival barker mode ( here I am thinking of Steve Martin in The Jerk: “Imagine the thrill of having your weight guessed by an actual professional weight guesser!”)

4)  I have planned a “loss leader” as part of my table display.  This is a complex business concept, but bear with me.  The idea of a loss leader is to have something that customers will come by for, that doesn’t cost much, and that you are willing to take a loss on–just to get them to your place of business–in hopes they will buy more.  Convenience Stores work on this basis, with gasoline prices set as cheaply as possible (seriously) in order to get people to buy other items. ( I guess Santa Claus has a similar set up.  He gives away presents so that parents will augment those gifts with other purchases. )  In this case, my table at the show.  My loss leader this year?  Anaglyph 3-D glasses, like those worn by the most recent two “Doctors”, David Tennant and Matt Smith.  These glasses will cost $1 for a pair.

5) I’ve also taken out an advertisement in the convention program.  This was a difficult decision to make, as at the time I made it, I had no money to pay for it.  Thank the Lord, some money did come in.  So I won’t be selling plasma to pay for the ad space.  The advertisement promises a free gift to everyone who comes by and mentions the ad–guess what that will be? 3-D Glasses.  

( BTW, if you’re reading this blog and come by and mention I’ll never know the difference.  But if you hit me up for freebies anywhere else but the show I’ll have to punch you. )

6) This last one is the hardest decision I have had to make concerning this convention.  That is, I have to be apart from my wife, Karin all weekend.  ( I did do that for my visit to San Diego this past summer, but that was across the country–not just over the hill ).  Karin has to play music in Biltmore Village on Saturday and Sunday–but I’d booked this show months before that date was announced.  She also needs the car available, so I’m carpooling with a friend.

So, off to Yama-Con!

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