Tuesday, July 30, 2013

100 Posts of Sketch Goodies

Centennial Post

With this update I pass an important milestone as I've reached my 100th post. Until this very moment I hadn't really stopped to consider the significance of that. I'm wordy by nature, and my writing tends to be verbose. I'm given to rambling like a halfway-senile moth; I don't have much of a direction in the first place, and I still manage to forget where I'm going. The end result, of course, is that I've written a lot. Your average college kid will dispense five-hundred words about not wanting to write a thousand word essasy. Over the lifetime of this blog I've written that much at intervals that have varied from once a week, to over a year between posts, to at least a couple of times a week since WonderCon in March. If everything were to be aggregated together I've written a novel and then some. That's an achievement.

What's more, is I've stumbled on a formula that works for getting my creative impulses out into the world. Jim Lee says that forty percent of creating art is the audacity to put yourself out into the world; to broadcast your madness, if you will. In this space thave I've carved out for sharing the sometimes kooky inner workings of my id I've found a rhythm, a kind of heartbeat, a pulse that sustains a piece of myself that I can't show in any other way. Certainly not in my day-to-day working life. 

As I write this it occurs to me...I'm proud of what I do here.

Now that I've made something I can be proud of the task is to avoid becoming complacent. It's great to put up my drawings, and musings, and comics, but it should evolve and expand. What's next? I don't know. Hopefully something I can continue to be proud of. 

Sketch Dump: Some Recent Goodies

I don't have a proper Geek Speak Comic ready to post yet. The pencils are done, I just have to do the finishing work. I'm going to go back to Sketchbook Pro and continue working on learning how to do my finishing work in a digital format, but in the meantime I thought it would be good to show that my drawing hand has not been idle. I've grasped my pencil and stroked it up and down...the page...you dirty people...

Here are some of the things I've been working on. 

The first of the illustrations is Ms. Marvel from Marvel's Avengers and her own title, Captain Marvel. I like her story. She can fly, she's super-strong (strong enough to go toe-to-toe with the Hulk for more than second or two), she's nearly invulnerable, and she can throw energy blasts. In many way she's Marvel's answer to Superman. What's great about her is that she's just as formidable in her civilian identity. She's a colonel in the United States Air Force, a fighter pilot, and was chief of security in a restricted military base when an explosion fused her DNA with that of an undercover Kree soldier. Ms Marvel/Captain Marvel is a tough, smart super-heroine who can be really interesting the hands of a good creative team. 

The cartoon is something silly I was doing as a warm up before doing the pencil work on the newest Geek Speak. I'm not sure where the idea came from. It was something on the lines of "what kind of shenanigans would go on in a high school full of classic movie monsters...go."

The final drawing is one I really like. It carries the noir sensibility of this drawing from an earlier post. I'm not an authority on noir fiction or film by any means. I've only seen a few noir films, mostly thanks to my good friend Lendell Prime and a series of movie nights he hosted a few years ago. Of those I have seen my favorite noir film is L.A. Confidential. There's a style and a sensibility to noir that speaks to me in a way that few other genres do, which is probably why I like the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Urban fantasy is a tasty fusion of both the noir setting and sensibility, with the spectacle of sword and sorcery. 

Comic Con
I do want to continue relating the story of my experiences at ComicCon, but I don't want to bury it under the rest of a post. At a minimum it gives me something to write for tomorrow. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Con of San Diego and the Panel Blues

Conning the Comics Out of San Diego - Day Two

The second day of Con was our earliest day. Tea Leaf and Celluloid Girl were going to be dressing in costume for the day, so they needed to be up bright and early to get dressed. For the official record, they were freaking adorable in their matching Avengers t-shirt/nightshirts. 
While they got into costume, Lendell Prime and I did our best to sleep in. When that ultimately proved hopeless we got up, dressed, and went down to breakfast. 

Kudos to the Quality Inn for offering a complimentary continental breakfast, plus some. Most such breakfasts offer only half-stale pastries, watery coffee, and equally watery fruit juice. The Quality Inn where Tea Leaf had booked our room (more on that later) offered decent pastries, plus a waffle station, plus eggs, sausage, and bacon. They get high marks for variety, an "A" for effort if you will. If you sense a "but" coming here it is, "but" they get a big old FAIL for eggs, sausage, and bacon which were an abomination. The meat in particular looked like warmed over roadkill. The waffles were good, though, and the coffee was dark and strong, so I can turn a blind eye to the steaming health hazard representing the rest of the "hot" breakfast.

When they were done Tea Leaf and Celluloid Girl were dressed as Jamie and Cersei Lannister from the Game of Thrones. They had gone to a lot of trouble for a really authentic look and the results were incredible

The drive to the con was easier than the drive to the hotel. Mostly that was due to a good night's sleep and a cup of coffee to lubricate the reflexes. We arrived at the con at roughly 9:30, just in time for the floor to open. 

We went our separate ways pretty much right away. I left to get in line for the big Legend of Korra: Book Two panel, Lendell Prime went to a two part panel on The Anatomy of a Fight Scene, and the "Lannisters" left to walk the floor. 

What came next for me was a taste of the authentic convention going experience. I stopped to use the bathroom and check my schedule on my way to Ballroom 20, where the Korra panel would take place. Checking my schedule I remembered that I had put a star next to the same panels Lendell Prime was going to be attending. For a moment I thought, "there's no way I'm getting into this panel, I should just catch up with [Lendell Prime]." I shrugged that off as pessimism and went to get in line anyway.

To say the line was long would be like saying parts of Colorado are kind of bumpy. It definitely wasn't the longest line within line of sight. The line for Hall H, where the days biggest panels of the convention would take place (including Game of Thrones but more on that later) could be seen behind the convention center along the harbor. The Korra line wasn't that long, but it did go out side the convention center, and down the steps halfway to the path by the harbor. 

The line for Korra was moving fairly well and there was a decent chance of being able to get in. Even so there was a family behind me whose mom was less then optimistic. I'm being too generous. I should call things like I see it. She was being a whiny, unbearable brat and her bellyaching was about to drive me bugfuck. Still I persisted. Eventually we got back inside the convention center. Once inside the convention center the line stopped moving quite as well and we had some waiting time. after fifteen minutes or so it started moving again as some people cleared out of the previous panel. 

As the line moved I got closer and closer to the doors for Ballroom 20. The anticipation was so strong I might have peed a little, had I not stopped to use the bathroom before getting in line (but more on that in a moment). As a group we got to the front of the line where we could see the doors to Ballroom 20, and that's when the people managing the thing closed it off and announced there was no more seating. 

Honestly this was the worst part of the con for me. Standing in line for over an hour to have the panel closed in front of me was not fun. Not able to get into the Korra panel, and not really caring about the other panels taking place. I decided to go to the floor. The funny thing is if I hadn't stopped to go to the bathroom I would have been able to get into the panel. It would have been tight, but I'd have made it. 

More on the second day of Con is to come. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Geek Speaking the Best at What He Does

Geek Speak: The Best at What He Does

Fuck. So I have to post this comic with apologies to Joss Whedon. At some point I remembered that he'd already made basically the same joke in the pages of Astonishing X-Men. By the time that occurred to me I'd already done the finishing work, added the text boxes, and laid out the panels. I wasn't about to put in all that work and not post the thing. 

If I get a cease and desist letter from Whedon's people I'll be sure to scan it and post it here, with the important bits redacted. 

The worst part is I can't be sure if I came up with this idea on my own, or if this moment from the comic book was floating around at the back of my head and only resurfaced due to some chain of linked events. The idea for this came up during the drive to the convention center one morning of Comic Con, thought now I forget the context. 

Whatever the source it does beg the question, "does Wolverine have a hobby?" Drinking beer, smoking cigars, and getting into bar fights are all rewarding pursuits, to be sure, but does he have anything that he looks forward to doing during his rare down times. Somehow I don't see him collecting stamps or quilting. 

Here is Whedon's take on the joke in the pages of Astonishing X-men. If you haven't read his version of the X-Men, check it out. It's worth the cost of admissison.

Comic Con - to be continued

I will continue to relate my ComicCon story, but it will have to wait until my mind is no longer reeling from a condition known as "the tired."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sketch Dumping on Comic Con in San Diego

Work Day Sketch Dump: I Do The Weird Stuff

I was in a sketching mood today. One of the things I took away from ComicCon had nothing to do with the other artists at Con, the panelists, or anything else. On the last day of Con I was walking through artist's alley and chatting with the exhibitors there when I stepped up to a booth where an artist was drawing something for a boy who could not have been more than ten or eleven years old. The artist had the boy's sketchbook open in front of her and she was drawing one of his creations. His sketchbook caught my eye. There was no theme, no structure, no single character drawn over and over again. He was just drawing whatever was in his head and it looked so...free. So when I picked up my pencil to doodle at work today I thought of him, and I thought, "fuck it, just draw, don't try to make something that looks amazing, just do what feels good."

When I look at that last sentence and then at these drawings there's only one rational conclusion. I need serious professional help.

Comic Con Day 1 (Continued)

The Witty Women of Steampunk was really good panel where the creators talked about their work and the role of women both in steampunk, and in fiction in general. They broadened the discussion to talk about what steampunk is in general, and personalized it by discussing what it means to them. My notes form the panel are fairly incomplete but the moderator of the panel was nice enough to put the panelist's websites on the screen.

After the panel it was more or less lunch time. None of the four of us really know San Diego at all, so we ended up in a parking lot where Fox had set up some kind of big event for Axe Cop, their new animated series. Free pizza was part of the event, and we were both hungry and sleep deprived so we decided that not paying for lunch was a good idea. The lesson of today's story is this, don't make decisions about meals when you are hungry and sleep deprived.

After lunch we parted ways again. Some of us had panels to go to and some of us were going to the floor.

Not sure how I forgot to mention it, but during my wandering around the convention floor I wandered across a booth where a sculptor was selling his wares. In the collection of scantily clad gorgeous heroines I found this good looking fella. Friends and readers of this blog will know I'm a huge fan of the Savage Dragon by Erik Larsen. I saw this, found it it was sixty dollars, struggled with myself for basically three seconds, and bought it. Money well spent. I know it's a sixty dollar statue of a comic book character that's nowhere near as well known as Spider-Man but it's money. well. spent.

The sculptor signed it for me as well. There was a rumor circulating around the booth that Erik Larsen was at the con and might sign it if I could find him, but I was never able to prove that for a fact. 

Back to "current events"

The next panel on my list was "Advanced Digital Inking Techniques" with Brian Haberlin, co-creator of Witchblade and the artist and co-writer of Anomaly. After a lengthy plug for Anomaly, which is the longest graphic novel ever produced, Haberlin got down to dropping the digital inking knowledge. 

I've started working with digital illustration tools which is why I attended the panel in the first place, so I was looking forward to getting front loaded with some serious techniques. Not wanting to fuck around I sat in the front row. No hiding in the shadows like a timid shrinking violet for this eskimo. Haberlin set up, picked up his stylus, looked at the panel attendees leaning forward in their folding chairs, yearning for knowledge on brushes and opacity controls and said, "we're going to focus on Photoshop today." Fuck. 

I use Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, not Photoshop, so this was going to have almost nothing to do with me...and I was sitting in the front row. What followed was basically a painfully dull look into how great Photoshop is. To be fair the content was great, if you use photoshop, it was only particularly dull for me because I don't use Adobe's program, and I can't afford to buy it. With that said, Haberlin is a good instructor and I'm going to keep an eye on his site www.digitalarttutorials.com. He mentioned there might be tutorials coming for other illustration software packages like Manga Studio and Sketchbook Pro. 

From there I headed back to the floor where I picked up a copy of Battlepug and the Lone Wolf and Cub omnibus edition, volume 1. Lone Wolf and Cub is a very famous samurai epic about an assassin and his son that may have been one of the inspirations for The Road to Perdition. The other book, Battlepug, is a hardcover collected edition of the webcomic by the same name. It looked like a fun read, and the book was beautiful so I picked it up, which would not be the last of the impulse purchases for the weekend. 

Around this time I met up with Lendell Prime and we made our way over to artist's alley. While we were over there we met Philip Moy who was selling original panels from his run on G.I. Joe and Samurai Jack. Lendell Prime's face broke into the widest smile I've ever seen on him when he found the G.I. Joe original artwork. I'm pretty sure that smile stayed for the rest of the convention.

While we were wandering artist's alley Tea Leaf and Celluloid Girl called Lendell Prime and asked if we were ready for dinner. By then we were starving so Lendell Prime and I met them and we headed into the Gaslight District to find a place to eat. We finally settled on a Mexican Seafood restaurant. 

Something you may not know about guys when they hit their thirties, some foods you've been able to eat your whole life suddenly don't break down all that well. This means you get to be more prone to gas. Mexican food is one of those things that's a no no unless you live alone, or you've been married so long you've given up keeping track of who's farted on who. When we sat down I raised this indelicate subject as a gently as I could.

"Let's agree here and now," I said, "that since we're having vaguely Mexican-ish food for dinner (it was really more of a Mexican fusion type place), there's no judgement tonight. Even if one bed sounds like heavy artillery is shelling the city; no judgement." They laughed, but I don't know for sure if there was any judgement. I'll get to that in a minute.

After dinner we wandered the Gaslight District and ended up in the Chuck Jones Art Museum. I want to go back to San Diego for this alone. The walls were covered with the most amazing original paintings by Chuck Jones and others. The collection included iconic moments from some of the most memorable of Looney Tunes animated shorts. I looked at them and was transported back to the first time I saw many of his cartoons on Saturday morning television while staying with my grandparents at their Kansas farmhouse. I wandered the smallish space soaking in the artwork and reliving moments I thought I'd long forgotten when it occurred to me that my friends were waiting outside. With no small amount of reluctance I made my way out to the street and we headed back to the convention center.

The next thing on our list was the Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog sing-along. Tea Leaf, Celluloid, and I were really excited about this so we made our way to the huge conference room that had been set up for it. We arrived early, and there wasn't a line yet, so we were able to go right in, where we caught the last half of the Spike and Mike Twisted Animation panel. 

By this time all of us were beyond tired. Tea Leaf and Celluloid both looked as if they might happily sleep through the sing along, and Lendell Prime was looking grimly determined that he would not fall asleep until he was horizontal on something resembling a bed. I made the call and suggested that we didn't have to stay if everyone was getting really tired. There was a short debate, and just as everything was getting ready to kick off the sing-along we decided to head to the hotel. 

That first trip to the hotel was one of the most difficult drives of the whole weekend. It involved navigating surface streets in downtown San Diego so we didn't have to go through the Gaslight District, driving four different highways, then finding somewhere to make a u-turn when we found our exit in El Cajon. 

Exhausted, sore, and happier than any of us have probably been in months we checked into the hotel, got to our room, showers happened, and beds were staked out. I excused myself to sneak in a phone call with Mildly Sensational. By the time I got back the lights were out and all three were already sound asleep. I made my way to my side of one of the two queen sized beds (I was sharing with Lendell Prime), climbed under the covers and...did not go to sleep. 

Not right away, at any rate. Some asshole's car alarm went off about every five or ten minutes for an hour before I finally managed to drift off. When I did, it was the soundest, best night's sleep I'd had in a long time. I'd let go of being a square peg in a round hole for a day, and it had done me good. 

The Pathos of Comic Con Mustaches

Geek Speak: The Desolation of the Hipster 

It seems like mustaches are everywhere now. A day hardly goes by that I don't see mustaches on bags, posters, postcards, and coffee mugs. Somewhat more rarely I'll see mustaches on actual people.

At some point in the recent past there was a cosmic event, an alignment of the planets, the shifting of ley lines to create a new nexus point, or a My Little Pony/Care Bears cross over that fundamentally altered the laws of nature and made mustaches cool. Whatever it was, I missed the memo.

I'm not saying all mustaches look bad, but it does take a certain kind of person to pull it off. The guys wandering around in v-neck shirts with the cuffs rolled, their legs squeezed into skinny jeans, and a pencil-thin handlebar mustache are patently not that kind of person. It looks fussy and pretentious. If it takes longer to style the hair on your upper lip than it takes your girlfriend to get dressed, it is no longer cool.

Speaking of the significant others. I can only attest to my own experience, but none of the girls that I have ever so much as kissed have been fans of the mustache. Most have hated it because it itches, causes them to break out, and looks bad anywhere but on one of the Village People, or in porn from the 1970's.

Of course, I can't grow a mustache. Every time I've tried I end up with a kind of anemic fu manchu. My prejudice might be envy.

San Diego Comic Con: Where Wonder Goes to Play

Those who know me even a little bit, even those who only know me through this blog, know that I'm a big fan of comic books. I have my favorites such as the Savage Dragon, and Fables, but I really like comic books as a story telling medium overall. For those of us who appreciate and collect Comic Books the San Diego Comic Con has been a kind of promised land. I've wanted to go to Comic Con for as long as I've been collecting comics, which started when I was in the seventh grade. It's funny, when I think about it, that was also the year I met the girl I'd marry ten years later. I guess I discovered the two great loves of my life in the seventh grade: comic books and Mildly Sensational. 

Every year since moving to Los Angeles I've intended to go to San Diego for the convention, and every year I've been stymied by something. Most of it good. Last year it fell on the same weekend my wife and I had already rented a cabin and planned a trip to Big Bear Lake for our anniversary. One time I didn't get to go because we'd already planned a trip to Denver so I could meet my nephew for the first time.  This time, my path to Comic Con was laid out well in advance. Tea Leaf has a professional registration with Comic Con International, and generously offered me his guest pass. It was enough in advance that I could start saving money to go, and my wife said her anniversary present this year would be that I would get to go to Comic Con. 

After months of waiting, pinching pennies, and planning I woke Wednesday the 17th with just one day separating me from my pilgrimage to the holy land. I spent Wednesday with my family, playing with my daughter, hanging out with my wife, and generally not worrying about the things that cause me stress on a daily basis. I packed, I made sure I had everything I would need, and I put my daughter to bed, which was the last time I would see her for four days.

Thursday morning my alarm went off at 3:45. My wife and I stayed in bed for a bit, just being together, then I got up, ate breakfast, we said our goodbyes, and I was out the door by 4:45 to pick up Tea Leaf, Celluloid Girl, and Lendell Prime. 

The drive to San Diego was uneventful, and moved really well. We didn't hit any of the major traffic snarls that would cause people to fully lose their minds later in the day. The highlight of the drive was probably the aircraft carrier that passed along the coast headed in the opposite direction. It could not have been more Top Gun if it had theme music.

Tea Leaf had secured a parking pass so when we arrived, we drove into the parking structure below the convention center itself. By the time we were parked it was only about 7:30 in the morning and we had an easy two hours to kill before the convention started officially.

Eventually the doors did open and the convention let the teaming throngs of people (not to be confused with the people's steaming thongs, I make that mistake all the time) into the exhibit hall. In no particular order here are my first impressions of the convention. 
  • Holy crap there are a lot of people here!
  • Wow, the people actually working the convention are really surly.
  • Holy crap there are a lot of people here.
The first panel I was planning to attend started pretty early at 11:00, so I had about an hour to walk the floor, and walk the floor I did. When the doors opened it was like being at Disneyland for the park to open. The gates part and you see the park and all the joys it offers. A piece of me that I have to stifle just to get through a day at work came to life and started weeping with pure delight.

I started out with Tea Leaf at Celluloid Girl, but we went our separate ways pretty early on, not before I had them take my picture with a life-size sculpture of Gollum. From there I meandered the floor taking pictures here and there, including the bust of a handsome devil with the serious orthodontic issues pictured to the right. 

It almost seemed like I'd barely arrived before it was time to go to the first panel of the convention. For me it was "The Witty Women of Steampunk." There are those who might read that and think, "why is this guy going to a girl's panel, did he leave his penis in his other pants?" Let me be clear on this, my favorite webcomic is Girl Genius my favorite action heroes are Ellen Ripley from Aliens and Sarah Conner from Terminator 2: Judgement Day. My favorite stories are those where the female characters aren't relegated to being set pieces that need to be saved by the male protagonist. This panel was dedicated to women who write compelling stories using the conventions (so to speak) of steampunk. 

This was a fun panel full of women writing stories in steampunk settings, but breaking away from strictly Anglo or Euro-centrist tropes. Among the panelists was Kaja Foglio who writes the Girl Genius stories. I was really going to the panel to see her, but ended up being engrossed by the other panelists as well. Kaja, meanwhile, was super caffeinated and talking about ninety miles an hour. She was gregarious, and animated, and funny and a lot of fun to watch. 

There was plenty more that I saw and plenty more that I did during the day, but it will have to wait until tomorrow as it is getting late, and this Normal Guy needs to sleep and recharge my batteries before work in the morning. 

More on my ComicCon adventures tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

San Diego Here We Come

Conning the Comics in San Diego

If you're a nerd even half deserving of that moniker then you know of, or have attended San Diego ComicCon. The weekend of the annual gathering to share, discuss, trade, and otherwise celebrate geekery in all of its forms are kind of like the holiest days in a geek's calendar. Every year fans, amateurs, and professionals alike make a pilgrimage to San Diego to join in the festivities. Everyone...except me...until this year. 

With one day left to go before I pick up fellow nerds Tea Leaf, Celluloid Girl, and Lendell Prime I find myself operating in a state of distraction. I joked with Tea Leaf today that by four-o-clock I'd answered questions from two people with, "ComicCon!...wait...what was the question?" Tea Leaf is registered as a professional with Comic-Con International. This means he gets a full-weekend pass, and a guest pass he can share. This year he offered me his guest pass, knowing that it's something important to me, and knowing that I had never had the opportunity to go.

Did I mention that Tea Leaf is an awesome guy and I'm incredibly grateful? No. Well...he is, and I am. 

He's also a talented and accomplished photographer. Check out his website, especially photos from the trip to Africa he and Celluloid Girl took for their honeymoon. Fucking outstanding stuff. There are even a couple of pictures of me in his headshot collection. 

I digress.

This year, I will be attending Comic Con for the first time, marking the realization of something I've dreamed of being able to do since I started collecting comic books in the seventh grade. For those who like numbers, that means I've been waiting to go to the San Diego Comic Con for twenty-three years. Although I'm not a "convention virgin" having broken that cherry at WonderCon, I'm by no means a seasoned pro. I'm excited, and nervous, and my expectations are sky high. 

We leave super early in the morning on Thursday for what is sure to be a zany fun filled weekend of adventure and discovery...or that might be the plot of Without a Paddle. The four of us will be splitting a hotel room, and Tea Leaf even secured parking for us so we don't have to take a bus or hike from some distant parking lot in a forgotten quarter of San Diego where there are alligators and banjo playing hillbillies. 

Our schedules while we're there are pretty packed with a combination of panels, browsing the exhibit hall, and (my favorite) visiting creator booths in Artist's Alley. While there I will be trying to get photos of the best cosplayers I find (male and female, though the ladies generally seem to have the better, more elaborate costumes) and of the panels I attend. All of those experiences I will attempt to distill into the pages of this blog for the reading enjoyment of my dozens of fans. 

If you're an artist with a booth in Artist's Alley this year, send your booth number to geekspeakcomic at gmail dot com. I'll  be sure to come by and say hello.

If you're planning on attending ComicCon there are several guides out there, but I recommend this one from Click Communications:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Geek Speaking the Thirteenth Anniversary Bus

Geek Speak: Another one rides the bus

This one was so long delayed because I've been working with learning my Wacom tablet, and it's slow going, but so far I'm pleased with the results. One thing I have found is that I'm working way too hard on these. If you look at the full-sized version you'll see some effort went into shading and lighting. I finally had to decide between getting the cartoon exactly where I wanted it, or to just go with as much of it as I had done. The latter seemed like the best prospect for actually publishing. 

I looked at some other black and white comics out there, and I went back through my big book of Bloom County strips. For the most part comic strip artists seem to do pretty minimal shading. Most don't go much further than the pretty minimal shading in the big panel. To find that balance between getting something I can be proud of and publishing on some kind of schedule I'm going to have to tinker with how much shading I do for each. 

For the next strip I think I will take a break from the grocery store. I want to draw some other things for a couple of strips before we come back and visit these characters again. 

Big Thirteen

I can't let this day pass without writing something about how important July 15th is to me. On that day thirteen years ago Mildly Sensational and I stood on the shore of a mountain lake high above Denver and pledged to love, honor, and cherish each other for the rest of our lives. Our ceremony didn't actually include those words, but that was the meaning regardless of the actual prose. 

At the time we were both twenty-three, and I was just barely out of college. Mildly Sensational would still be in school for another semester. We were two kids just starting out, and making the biggest step either of us had ever tried up to that point. It was funny, scary, and joyous. The most important thing, though, is that we were taking it together. 

People in love say they've married their best friend. In our case I don't think it's true, because it doesn't go deep enough. I don't know if even my best friends will come to know me as deeply as my wife. She has seen me at my very best, and at my very lowest. She's laughed at my bad jokes, been angry with me when I've done something stupid, weathered my mistakes, held me on the few occasions when I couldn't contain anymore feeling and had to break down and cry, and been proud of me the rare occasions I break away and do something amazing. 

Did I marry my best friend? No. I found a missing piece of my own being. One who was searching for a fragment of her own self. We held each other and didn't let go, and thus made ourselves whole. 

That is what my wife makes me feel. The other emotions are there, too; the love, the anger, the joy, the sadness, and the silliness. All of that is great, but the important thing is that when I am with Mildly Sensational I am most myself. I am complete.

After thirteen years of marriage I can still say I've found the love of my life. You complete me, Amanda. 

I love you.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Doodling in a Sketch Dump

Work-a-Doodle: The Sketch Dump

So...holy crap...it takes a long, long, fucking-long time to do finish work on my comic strips using my Wacom tablet. What would take me an hour with my art markers, and would look more than passable, is taking me freaking days to do on the Wacom. The results look good, but my God I hope that it starts going faster as I get more accustomed to working with it. 

Anyway. I had promised two Geek Speak strips this week...That's looking like it's not going to happen. I'd still like to share some of my work, so I went back through some older drawings that I've had sitting in a folder for a while now. Mostly these are doodles taken from my notepad at work. When I started looking through the pages of doodles it reminded me that I'd been meaning to scan these for ages, and it just never happened...until now.

I've clearly come a long way, but there's still some good stuff in here. I'm presenting them here in no particular order. Enjoy. 

Months ago, probably closer to a year at this point my office had a problem with bugs, mainly cockroaches. Now, California doesn't really get roaches the way Texas or Florida do, but the roaches we do get are harder than hell to get rid of. I never actually saw any bugs myself, but the building where I work eventually did have to call an exterminator. Gross as that is, there's still something funny about it. 

I want to say this one came from watching a nature special about turtles that discussed how hard it is to determine their sex. That would be a great excuse, but I'm pretty sure it's not the case. 

In the end I think this is just me being silly. A little gross, too, but does anyone really mind?

This one was drawn a while ago, around the time that a co-worker's son was graduating from high school and going on to college in Boston. At the time I think my co-worker was saying something along the lines of there was no way her son would stay in Boston because it's too cold and he'd miss his mommy (not sure if that last part actually happened, but it kind of fits my co-worker). It occurred to me as she said it that she might have been setting herself up for disappointment. His college in Boston had to have at least a few perks like girls, epic St. Patrick's Day parties, and lots of really good beer. 

That, and seasons are pretty. People from Los Angeles lament the cold in other states the way a vampire laments the rays of the sun, but it's a kind of sour grapes situation. If Southern California got anything resembling real seasons I think most people would really enjoy it. 

I'm pretty sure this is one of the few drawings I've ever done that employed the use of a straight edge. 

This was drawn years ago, so I don't remember the context at all, but I'm pretty sure I was having a bad day at work. 


Another one that was most likely drawn on a bad day at the office. In spite of that I really like this one. It has that feeling of cruising along and then suddenly hitting a wall, either of your own making, or one that was dropped in your way. Is there anyone working in a standard-issue cube farm who hasn't beat their head on their desk from time to time? No? I'm the only one with forehead bruises? ...awesome...

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Life Intruding on Hard Boiled SteamPunk Girls

Life and the Intrusion of its Stuff

I've been a little light on posts lately, and there's a reason for that. It's a good one. Give me a minute. 

Oh that's right, mostly it has to do with trying to burn the candle at both ends. If you've been reading this blog you know that I have a regular 9-5 gig. Lately, due to a combination of this and that (I won't go into specifics here) things have been more demanding, which means more working late, which throws off my schedule for the evening, and I'm ultimately pretty tired by the time I can actually sit at my computer and try to spin gold from the rough straw of a blank page. 

Family life is something else altogether. The time I get with my wife and my daughter is the most rewarding thing in my life right now, but it has its own demands. Anyone who has ever had a toddler will understand. 

Then there's wrestling with the recurring existential dilemmas, but that may be a topic for a different post.

Doodles: Hard boiled SteamPunk Marker Edition

Life stuff and the wall of thorns it has thrown up in my path notwithstanding, I have not been idle. In a previous post I mentioned that I was learning to work with some professional art markers I'd ordered. Here you can see some of the fruit of those labors. 

The SteamPunk character was drawn from a photo reference I found in a quick Google Image search...and will probably never be able to find again. It's a good thing I downloaded the original. The second image is my own, but I used an image from the Rockstar Games video game "L.A. Noir" to help with some of the details. It helps to make it feel authentic. You just can't pull a fedora out of your butt and...wait...that sounded weird. 

I really like the way the markers feel and the depth they add to my drawing. Since I started working with them I can't believe I didn't start buying sets here and there much earlier. 

With the same markers I did a couple of drawings for people at work. One was the "Awesome Possum" because I overheard one of the ladies I work with say that a couple of times to people she had on the phone. I thought it was hilarious so I drew a hip possum in sunglasses. The other was a kind of manga-styled-self-portrait of me making a "happy food face" for another of the ladies at work who brought in homemade mini-cupcakes for the office. 

Unfortunately I gave both of the ladies the original work and didn't get a chance to scan either one. The cupcake face I'll probably be doing again. One of my coworkers suggested putting it on a t-shirt. I've been thinking about it and it occurred to me, "why the hell not?" The same co-worker said I should be putting more of my art in a blog. He was right about that, so I should give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to putting some of my drawings on apparel.