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Wednesday
Jul272016

New Image Gallery for Earth PD

I have created an image gallery to hold all material from the Earth PD series. The multiverse story can now be found all in one place and the character info sheets are setup in a second gallery.

This will make for easier access to the Earth PD material.

The galleries can be found in the top of the right-hand column.

Tuesday
Jul262016

One Multiverse Among Many-03

I finally got through the deconstruction of all the comic files splitting up the pages into folders of characters. I knew it would be tedious and time-consuming but will pay off later down the road.

So to make up for missing last week, I put together two character sheets explaining the characters introduced so far. I will be doing this for every new character as many of them won't be recognized by most people. Even readers who are somewhat familiar with the public domain characters may not know who a few of these characters are.

These characters have been forgotten about for so many decades. I've seen a few other works featuring characters from this time and am glad to see some of them getting more attention. With many of them it's almost as if you're creating an entire new character because... you ARE! All they're giving you is a framework to hang your writing on.

Much of the enjoyment of writing and drawing these characters is taking a two-dimensional character and breathing new life into it. Life that it may never have had when it was in publication. It's difficult to find any information about their social life, friends, or any other situations they may be involved in. But that was how comics were in the 1940s/50s.

About This Comic

For upcoming installments, I've picked some characters for certain powers and characteristics. Two of these characters were in but a single issue. Those characters are virtual blank slates in regards to backstory and personality. That just means that when I'm through, they'll be a more rounded characters Initially I thought I would have trouble finding characters I needed for this story. But after collecting, cleaning, and sorting the information from the Public Domain SuperHero wikia (pdsh), I found I had more than enough material. Very little auxillery information, but tons of characters. Two of the characters in this first installment were were in but a single issue.

This section of the story will range between 15-20 pages. It's longer than most comic stories from that period but shorter than what we have today. But I'm looking at an introduction, establishing the plot line, and closing this chapter. Successive stories will broaden out the events and characters. No one wants to read a single, never-ending story. You get bored after a while. Besides, there are hundreds of good characters to introduce.

The other thing that's been nice is getting back to drawing. For ten years I concentrated purely on building graphical elements into complex data visualizations. That in itself is a complicated task but while engaged in this pursuit I had forgone any actual drawing. It's nice to get back to working with paper and pencil. The change I've made from traditional comics is doing the inking and coloring on the computer.

Dr. Haunt

The character who introduced the story.

The Purple Zombie

The new character introduced on page 3.

Page 3 of One Multiverse Among Many.

Tuesday
Jul122016

Earth PD-One Multiverse Among Many...-02

And now, page 2 of One Multiverse Among Many... or another lesson of how to make a 1950s comic book. It's mostly lessons on how to work with Illustrator in making a 1950s comic book. Nevertheless, it's an interesting trip.

Paint Brush vs. Stylus

First off I'm learning quite a bit about controlling the style on the Wacom tablet while I'm inking. I went into this with decades of working with traditional pen and ink only to find that the two act nothing alike. I searched many tutorial sites for tips on controlling the stylus but the bulk of the tutorials were on creating shapes and coloring those shapes. Almost nothing on digital inking. I continue to search for information. I know it's out there, just haven't found it yet.

The one piece of excellent advice I found was to choke up on the stylus and try to keep the stylus is a vertical position. As soon as I tried this it reminded me of doing Chinese calligraphy. It's the same technique. I suddenly found my control of the ink lines had improved dramatically. I could get the line to start small, grow large, then shrink back down to nothing again. I also found drawing longer lines was much easier. Granted, I still have a problem with the need to watch the screen and draw on the tablet. Oh but to be able to afford a tablet that allows you to draw right on a screen. But they are not cheap.

Looking Back

The stars are beginning to take shape as stippling comes back into my memory. That was a quick one thankfully.

Cross-hatching is a problem and will continue to be a problem. This goes back to not having a tablet that I can draw on directly. When cross-hatching on paper, you have the ability to spin the paper as you're creating those strokes. This allows all the strokes to be even and curve in a uniform manner. My current system does not allow for this so I end up needing to do many little corrections to the cross-hatching lines. It can get very time consuming when there's much shading to be done.

Hands continue to need work. They are the most difficult body parts to get right. and when they're wrong, people spot it instantly. I've been spending much time sitting at the creek doing nothing but drawing hands. They still need work though. I have noticed that in many of the older books of which I'm using as reference, hands were occasionally done quickly. And sometimes the hand position didn't make a lot of sense. But this is nothing compared to the lack of detail I've found on many of the background items. I've seen furniture that is nothing more than a vague shape and some ink shading. The 1950s was a different time in the comic book world.

I've noticed problems with some colors, There's a slight problem with the blacks on the page and I believe it stems from when I created my custom art brushes. The tutorial said to check the tickybox to allow the lines to take on other colors and tints. But this has made my black lines, well, not so black.

Storyline

Storyline... All of the literary worlds (or multiverses) co-exist in a universal space. Most inhabitants of these multiverses are not aware of the others, except for a few that venture outside their realm. I choose Dr. Haunt to be my narrator. In This Magazine Is Haunted, Dr. Haunt was only the narrator of the horror story. I have given him a larger purpose, someone who is charged with overseeing the activities of these multiverses. He is not alone but many of his associates are from what you might call this copyrighted multiverses so you won't see too many of the others. There will be a need for characters from various multiverse to... well that will be revealed at a later time.

One Multiverse Among Many - Page 2

Afterthoughts

So way did I do silhouettes? Why not draw the actually characters? The normal saying for this is, It's easier to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission. But in this case, I don't want to find out what might happen is I used the likeness of those copyrighted characters.

I am looking for other local artists who have been doing this for a while. I think that personal communication with other artists would help tremendously. I think it's time for a trip down to the local comic book store. If anyone might have that information, it would be the owner of the store.

It is true though. If you really want to learn something then pick a large project and dive in. The need to solve the multitude of problems that arise will keep you busy but will also give you the knowledge you need to advance quicker.

Wednesday
Jul062016

Anatomy Lessons

After the problems I had with the figure on the page 1 of the One Multiverse Among Many I figured it was time to pull out the anatomy books and take a refresher course. It's been about a decade since I did any figure drawing and I'm definitely out of practice. What have I been doing for the past ten years? Mostly creating charts and graphs which require many lines and shapes placed in exacting order. And so my drawing skills deteriorated from non-use.

So I went back to my library and got some of my anatomy and figure drawing books. Tomorrow I take some time to brush up on how to make people look better. I did it before when I was in school, I just need some extra practice.

But this isn't going to stop production on the book. It only means that each page will improve as I re-educate my brain in drawing with paper and pencil.

Tuesday
Jul052016

Earth PD-One Multiverse Among Many-01

Here is the start of the Public Domain-Multiverse project. It's been kicking around for some time and required quite a bit of research and upgrading of certain computer skills. I also needed to collect a few golden age comic books. The count is now 700+ and counting.

Scope Of The Art

The project is a combination of works found in the public domain (which have no restriction on their use) and creating the story in the art style of the 1940s/50s. Unlike the current trend of books I've seen using a painterly style for the art, I was drawn to the the style, and it's inherent limitations, of the older four-color press books. The limitations are a challenge: flat color with no special effects, a 64-color palette, and only the black ink to create form and structure. The other limitation is self-imposed. All the work is being produced on the computer in Illustrator and some Photoshop, but no filter or effects will be used. It's definitely a nuance that needs to be learned and practiced.

For this first page, all those white stars in the background were stippled in. I could have adjusted the airbrush in Photoshop to create this same effect saving me much time and much more insanity, but for this first page, I didn't. I think there's justification for using the airbrush, as there is a technique for that type of splatter using ink, an old toothbrush, and some masking material.

Gaining a modicum of control of the stylus when drawing the ink lines has been quite a challenge. The stylus and wacom tablet don't respond in the same way as drawing with pin or nib. The best way of describing it is that the brush and nib behave in a predictable manner and will continue in the same direction as you're lifting it from the paper. The wacom tablet, on the other hand, takes any slight jiggle as a clue that it should shoot a bezier handle off in that direction which cause the line to end up curled to one side. This forces me to stop and fix every line after it is drawn. I am still looking for a solution to this problem and I hope to find it soon. Illustrator works best when you're work with the pen tool and you set you points and bezier handles with each point you lay down. I find it extremely touchy when using the brush tool. But in order to achieve the look and feel I want, I must learn and conquer the brush tool.

I may experiment with Photoshop sometime in the future. The brush tool there is not beholding to bezier and acts more like a traditional brush. I like the clean line black lines that are easy to manipulate I get from Illustrator and not sure if I want to give that up. It's great for quick fixes after many lines are already in place.

Earth PD Direction

I've developed an idea for these characters to live and work in and why they would have come together. Dr. Haunt, the character pictured above, was merely a host in the comic This Magazine Is Haunted. He showed no real powers except storytelling. So with a clean slate I decided to use this character as not only my storyteller but also the link between all the characters that will come after.

What Characters Will Be Used?

Any character that's in the public domain is a possibility. Reading into that, you can expect this will not be limited to the superhero genre. Currently I have part of the mechanics worked out in dealing with public domain genres that are different. That's going to be both a whole lot of fun and a total pain in the neck.

How Often Will This Be Updated?

The plan is to bring out one new page per week. With my current schedule that seems feasible to accomplish presently. If the situation changes either way, then publication will increase or could slow down to a crawl. Since this is not a monetary endeavor, it could be moved to the back burner if a writing job falls into my lap.

Why Did You Decide To Do A Comic?

First of all, I heed the words of Neil Gaiman who said Make Good Art. It's a simple mantra I tell myself everyday.

After I graduated with a graphic design degree, I found it quite difficult to find reasonable work in a city filled with an over abundance of schools pumping out graphic design graduates. When the writing gig at Carnegie Mellon was cancelled due to lack of grants, I started looking for some art work I could do. When I hit a page talking about superheroes in the public domain, I began thinking about years back when I always said I wanted to draw a comic book. So 50 years later, here I am. I just wonder why it took me so long to get around to it.