Friday, December 30, 2011

Moon Prince Page 93: The Bat-man Speaks!

This week, we hear from the bat-man. But what are we hearing???

Click on the image to read the whole page.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Grammy Time

I usually try to keep my "work" life separate from my "art" life (which I flog through this blog), but I'm making an exception to give a shout out to two of my favorite day job co-workers, Dave Bett and Michelle Holme from Sony Music, who were recently nominated for a Grammy for "Best Boxed / Special Limited Edition Package" for Bruce Springsteen's "The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story."

I did some of the imaging work for them and I got to see the enormous care, attention to detail, and meticulous organization (it was a huge undertaking) they put into this project. You can see the package, including a gallery of many of the booklet pages, here.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Rough Pearl Page 7

This week, Adam hates on Jersey.

Click on the image to read the whole page.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Moon Prince Page 92: Angry Pirates!

This week: those are some mad pirates!

Click on the image to see the whole page

- and Merry Christmas from Kevin, Melissa, Max and Molly!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Here's a video I wrote and co-directed many years ago for the Crash Test Dummies - it's their version of "The First Noel". We shot it in a pizza joint in Niagara Falls, Canada in a single day - then had to go shoot another video for them (for their cover of "Androgynous" by the Replacements) at a nearby amusement park for the following two days!

If you look closely, Brad (the lead singer) is holding a "World's Greatest Dad" coffee mug, which I asked the props person to go buy somewhere. The next day, on the set, I looked closely at the mug and realized he'd drawn it on in magic marker, having been unable to find one in a store! He did a good job, too.

When the camera pans over to Ellen Reid sitting at the piano it's a deliberate nod to the opening credits for Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Rough Pearl Page 6

This week: Adam is self-obsessed.

Click on the image to read the whole page.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Marc Sobel Interviews Me at Graphic Eye

Comics writer Marc Sobel (he of the widely followed recent issue by issue analysis of Love and Rockets, which is being turned into a book in the near future) has a long interview with me up at Graphic Eye

Friday, December 16, 2011

Moon Prince Page 91: Ahoy, Bat-men!

This week: more violence!

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Short Interview

There's a short interview with me up at Jazma Online, the comics and entertainment site. Just click here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Ugly Thumbnails

Many cartoonists create beautiful little pages of preparatory drawings for their comics called "thumbnail" pages. My friend Bishakh Som, who is a wonderful cartoonist (you can see his work here) posted some of his thumbnail pages on Facebook last week that were just gorgeous, and suggested to me that I post some for The Moon Prince.

I'm sort of torn about this, because my thumbnail pages are very loose and scribbly. I use them to write the dialogue and plan the sequence, design and layout of the drawings, but the drawings themselves sure aren't much to look at. On the other hand, I guess it's sort of fun to see to see the process that goes into making comics like these, and I like to give visitors to this site something to look at while they're waiting for new pages of comics (stay tuned for more piracy and warfare on the Moon this Friday!).

So, without further ado, here are some of my ugly thumbnails, followed by the finished black and white drawings for the page they're from and the final colored page, with all the water and spooky fog. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Rough Pearl Page 5: An Encounter with the Chair

This week, Adam thinks bad thoughts.

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Moon Prince Page 90: Kitko's Revenge!

This week: Kitiko don't play like that!

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cedric Murray - Behind the scenes!

Here's another behind the scenes peek at a photo used to make the Moon Prince. In this case, it's the author (Kevin Mutch) himself posing for Cedric Murray all the way back on page 4!

Stay tuned for this Friday's page, where Kitiko gets really mad!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rough Pearl Page 4: Welcome to My Lair!

Here's the latest rough and scribbly page of my Fantastic Life sequel. This week, Adam and a pretty young student are alone in his office.

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Moon Prince Page 89: Batmen! On the Moon!

This week - a fight to the death in the Lunar skies!

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Queen Melissa

Making The Moon Prince requires thousands upon thousands of reference photos. Here's one of Queen Mathilde being posed by Max and Molly's mom, Melissa.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rough Pearl Page 3

This week, Adam gets turned-on.

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Moon Prince Page 88: She's Gonna Crash!

This week: Spectacular action abounds!

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sugar for The Moon Prince

Los Angeles based art critic Doug Harvey had some kind words for the Moon Prince in the latest issue of Artillery Magazine, calling it "one of my favorite current comic-reading pleasures." 

He also gave a shout-out to Fantastic Life, calling it a "slacker druggie zombiefest with the best-rendered fictional art school ever."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rough Pearl page 2

Here's the second not-yet-inked-or-colored page from my new story, The Rough Pearl.

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Moon Prince Page 87: Where There's Smoke...

This week, ALIENS! No kidding!!!

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Grandpa Fraser

Since the last couple of pages of The Moon Prince have featured a young girl (Molly, of course) standing guard with a rifle, I thought it might be interesting to post an old, old picture of my grandfather (the real Max and Molly's great-grandfather), William Fraser.

This photo was taken around 1902, and shows Bill with his pet black bear (really!) and a toy gun. I believe at the time he was living near Keewatin (a Cree Indian word which means "Blizzard of the North"), Canada.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Rough Pearl, Page 1

Here's the first page to The Rough Pearl, the sequel to Fantastic Life. I'll be posting new pages every Monday.

 (As I mentioned previously, you'll notice it's not very polished, due to time constraints - so please bear with me!)

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Moon Prince Page 86: A Solemn Moment

This week, Mad Billy is laid to rest.

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

pood No More

There's an excellent post over on Geoff Grogan's Look Out Monsters blog announcing the end of our giant format newsprint comix project pood. Pood made it to four issues (which seems to be the magic number for anthologies I co-publish, see: Blurred Vision) and, while it would have been nice to keep it going forever, we had to recognize that these are dark days for comix on paper.

I'd just like to say thanks to all the artists involved (there were so many I'm afraid to try and list them in case I miss someone!) to Alex for all his tireless efforts and to Geoff for letting me be part of the trip.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fantastic Life in Diamond Previews This Week

My graphic novel Fantastic Life (which won a Xeric Award and was included in The Best American Comics 2011) is in the November 11 issue of Diamond Distribution's Previews catalog, so if you'd like to see it in your comic shop now's the time!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Super Love People, Page Fifteen

This week: the enigmatic conclusion to Super Love People.

Next Monday: Page one of the Fantastic Life sequel!

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Moon Prince Page 85: Ten or Fifteen Small Steps

This week: Ten or fifteen small steps for a boy, one giant leap if he doesn't use the ladder!

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

USA Today Reviews BAC 2011

Hey, I got singled out (Along with Joe Sacco, Kate Beaton, and Joey Sayers) in USA Today's review of Best American Comics. It's here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ghost Puppets

Happy belated Hallowe'en!

This is an illustration I did back in the early 90's when I used to art direct for the Crash Test Dummies. It's a pen and ink drawing of two ghost puppets we had built for a rock video I wrote and co-directed for their song "The Ghosts That Haunt Me" (if you're curious, you can see the video here).

 Click on the image above to see a bigger version.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Super Love People, Page 14

This week, Superstalker bows to the inevitable.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Moon Prince Page 84: A Sad Realization.

This week, a bit of an emotional roller coaster.

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

After Picasso

This is a digital composite from 1998 based on an old Picasso painting of a couple of Amazons running down a beach. I used barbie dolls for the bodies and my wife and her sister posed for the faces, hands and feet (I used my wife's boob for both of them, reshaping it so it wouldn't be too repetitive. Is that wrong?).

Click on the image to see it bigger.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Super Love People, Page Thirteen

This week, just when it was looking sort of, possibly, romantic, things change again.

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Moon Prince Page 83: Aughhh! The MOON!

This week, Max and Molly are in dire peril! Still!

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sneak Peek

Anyone out there who might have wondered what happens to poor deranged Adam after Fantastic Life will surely be thrilled to hear that a sequel is in the works, picking up on the story about 12 years later. It's tentatively titled The Rough Pearl, and I'm going to start serializing it here in a few weeks (after Super Love People wends its way to some sort of baffling conclusion) but in the meantime here's a little sneak peek:

You'll notice it's sort of rough looking - that's because I'm also doing The Moon Prince right now and I don't have time to polish up the drawings and add full color. A couple of my cartoonist friends have sworn to me that they like this loose look just fine, so I'm gonna go ahead and put it out there, with my fingers crossed that you'll like it too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

BAC at B&N

Here's a couple of pix from the Best American Comics event last night at Barnes and Noble in Union Square. I'm the dude with a microphone stuck to his head, and that's fearless editor Alison Bechdel in the middle, and the redoubtable Gabrielle Bell on the left.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Super Love People, Page Twelve

This week, the Superstalker gets brought down to size.

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Moon Prince Page 82: Decisive Action Must Be Taken!

This week, the queen stands up for once!

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Swipe Comics

Back in the early 90's I was involved with an "artist-run center" up in Winnipeg, Canada, called "Plug-In". We mostly showed Conceptually based paintings, installation and performance art, but we tried to liven things up from time to time, so we brought in Fantagraphics' touring "Misfit Lit" show of original comics art. 

We flew Chester Brown, Charles Burns and Mary Fleener in for the occasion, and afterwards, Chester was kind enough to send me a copy of his graphic novel Ed the Happy Clown, which had one or two panels in it based on old comics panels which he had used as a "point of departure" - more or less "sampling" them, in other words. I loved this approach (I was doing big paintings based on found images at the time) and wondered if it would be possible to make a whole story that way.  

I went and bought a huge stack of old comics and cut them all up to make a big pile of panels, then fished around in them and pulled pieces out at random to try and collage a story together. The result was a comic called Captain Adam, which you can read here (if you click on the pages you'll also see the collages each page was based on). Here's the collage I made for the cover:

And here's the ink drawing I made from it:

Here's the pencil crayon on Xerox color study I did for the company (Digital Chameleon, operated by Winnipeg's own Lovern Kindzierski, one of the pioneers of digital coloring) which created the original digital separations:

and finally, here's the cover with digital color recreated by me a few years ago (I couldn't find Digital Chameleon's version) for a revised version put out by Blurred Books here in NYC:

(Click on the images to see larger versions)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Barnes and Noble Panel

I'm going to be on a panel discussion for Best American Comics 2011 next Tuesday, Oct. 18th, at the Union Square Barnes and Noble in Manhattan, with this year's editor Alison Bechdel and Gabrielle Bell, who's also in the book. Since both of them are vastly better known than me, I'll mostly just try not to say anything stupid.

The info for it is here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Super Love People, Page Eleven

This week, the Blue Siren begins her song.

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Best American Comics 2011

Houghton Mifflin's The Best American Comics 2011 showed up in the mail yesterday:

Lemme just take a peek inside here and... hey! How about that? Sixteen pages from Fantastic Life!

My old Winnipeg pals might be interested to know that it's a "Blue Note Cafe" scene, crawling with thinly disguised (or undisguised) characters from back in the day.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Moon Prince Page 81: Startling Revelations from a couple of Slippery Characters

This week, the Inquisitor and the Captain of the Guard put two and two together.

Click on the image to see the whole page.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Animated Example

After I posted yesterday about different versions of the first page of my Fantastic Life comic I noticed it was a bit hard to see much difference between the last two (color) versions, although I remembered making lots of little changes, so just for fun here's an animated GIF to show them better (I turned off the "color holds" in the first version to make it easier to see the changes to the drawings):

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

OCD Comics

So my book Fantastic Life is starting to make its way into a few stores, courtesy of indie distro maven Tony Shenton, and I thought I'd put up one of those "process" posts that comics artists sometimes do for the benefit of anyone who might be curious about how they make these things.

When I started Fantastic Life in the summer of 2006 I hadn't drawn any comics in more than twenty years (I did Captain Adam in 1993, but I don't count that as "drawing" because it was a "sampled" comic, more like a collage). Needless to say, I was really rusty. Here's the first page of Fantastic Life just as I drew it then, using pencil on a 16 x 20" sheet of bristol board (click on the images to see a larger version):

I didn't want to finish the drawing the traditional way, using India ink applied with sable watercolor brushes or nib pens, because I remembered how frustrating that process was for me when I was young - I'm a little obsessive-compulsive, and I hated how hard it was to rework ink drawings.

So instead, I figured I'd clean it up in Photoshop and just add a lot of contrast (using color correction curves) to the grey pencil lines to make them more "graphic", and adding tones by painting them in on a Layer set to "Multiply". I also decided my hand lettering looked too messy and was too tedious to fix, so I typeset the texts using a comic book style font I downloaded.

Here's what I came up with (this version was published in Blurred Vision #3):

I thought this was reasonably okay - although I was a little disappointed in the "scratchiness" of the overall look. I kept forging ahead, and after about ten months I was forty pages into the book. By this point, I'd started manipulating the drawings a lot in Photoshop - distorting and reshaping them a lot to improve anatomy and perspective using the Liquify filter and Transform command. This was terrific, and made me much happier with the look of the pages - except for one problem. The pencil marks were starting to look really fuzzy and beaten up from all this reworking.

It occurred to me that I could "ink" these mushy drawings using the pencil tool in Photoshop and have a much cleaner - and less scratchy - result, so I gave that shot, and came up with this (notice all the changes to the layout I was able to do digitally):

This looked considerably better to me, although it meant I had to go back and redo more than forty pages! To make matters worse, I decided I wanted to work in color, since I was uploading each page to my website as I completed them. So, for about six months I redid the old pages while still trying to keep up with my page-a-week schedule of new pages. I also had a font made from my own lettering, and replaced the old font in all of the texts. By January of 2010, I finally had all 121 pages done. Here's the result (notice I was using colored outlines - in comics these are called "color holds"- which I later discarded):

Then I found out the book had won a Xeric award. Suddenly I was faced with the prospect of publishing all of these pages as a single book - and I was mortified by how much my drawings had changed (improved, I hope) over the course of the four years I'd been working on the story. So I went back and reworked every single page again, to try and make the style and quality more consistent. I also realized that all of the music I'd been quoting (for this page it was originally "Chinese Rocks" by the Heartbreakers, which was later changed to "Running Free" by the Buzzcocks) was probably copyright infringement, so I changed it all - in this case to something I made up.  All of this took another six months! And here's the final, final result: