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News from the Public Domain World

It's amazing what you find out when you decide to take up a new project. Some of it can be downright discouraging. But not enough to make you want to quit your bright shiny new project. This has to do with the Earth PD project. I knew I wouldn't be the first person to decide to mine out old Golden Age comic books but I was surprised by a few facts surrounding some of those reboots.

Project Super Powers

By the internet, Fair use,

It mainly has to do with Dynamite Comics Project Super Powers. Not what they did with the characters in the book but what they did to the characters in a legal sense. They've begun trademarking the names of the characters. Yes, I know these characters are in the public domain but I wondered just how they could do that and what were the ramifications of this move.

Public Domain Project (PDP)

After researching the subject this evening I found out following information about what can and can't be done.

  1. I can still use any and all characters which I can verify that are in the public domain.
  2. I can not use any trademarked name in a promotional sense (i.e., call my book the name of the trademarked character.)
  3. My rendition of said character must adhere exactly to the original. If I make any changes they must not reflect any changes made by the holder of the trademark.

On the surface that sounds like a daunting task. And it is. One slip up and there's a possibility of a legal kerfuffle that I am in no position to take on. the project would effectively be shut down. This means I must become extremely versed in both the original material and the material done using these public domain characters which are now trademarked. That means more time spent researching and less time actually drawing and painting.

But I am undaunted. I seem to have some extra time on my hands at the present. I will work the other aspects of my Public Domain Project (PDP) as I make sure I'm not stepping on anybody's toes with regards to their trademarks. I already know that I'm clean on the copyright aspect.



This idea came from an avatar I saw on a social media site. Can't remember where as it was probably a decade ago. But the avatar stuck with me.

When I found the image of the girl writing on the wall I knew this would work well with the text. I inserted some mathematical writings on the wall and there it was.


I hope that in this day and age of super-hyper political correctness that this is taken as a joke, not as a statement of fact or a personal belief. Just me having to post this disclaimer can be pointed to as being P.C. has gone over the edge.


Earth P.D.-Trails (101)

Trails (or Pretty Particles)

And now the natural progression for the Earth P.D. series. My original thought was to use pages and panels from the original comics to put together the series of life stuck in PD Hell. In very short order, I discovered how difficult it would be to find all the clips I would need for just one strip. I made the decision that it wold become a drawn strip.

I realize that I had not done much drawing in the past decade. Most of my time has been spend keeping up with the computer programs in order to stay relevant in the work force. At one point I realized how much I missed traditional drawing and that the dogged pursuit of more and more programs and coding skills was not achieving the desired effect.

I packed up my pad and pencil and headed down to the creek behind my house. I spent the day quietly listening to the creek and rediscovering my love of making things on paper. By lunch time I had this scene sketched out. I called the journey a success and headed home for lunch.

I scanned the picture into the computer and brought it up in Illustrator. Yes, I will forever make the initial drawing on paper but with the arthritis I decided that my best bet was to do the inking and coloring on the computer. I could make due with less control during the pencil segment but inking and coloring require a level of manual dexterity which I don't have for such delicate work.

So here is the first pencil/digital inking hybrid. You'll notice that all the panels are done in different styles. This will be the standard method as I will attempt to draw, ink and color an individual character in the style of their original publication. And while it makes for an interesting setpiece, it means I have to attempt to recreate multiple artist's style each time. I don't pick my projects because they're easy. I choose projects for the joy I get from them, no matter how difficult that project might be.

EDIT : I located a color palette of the 1940s 48-color palette. It looks more like an old comic book now. Still more design, drawing and painting work to research to do.

This will be how the public domain comic books project will be done. I will describe the pros and cons from this first project in a future post.




While moving into the next phase of my art I knew I needed to get acquainted with digital inking. I'm familiar with traditional methods using pen, brush, and ink and I knew this would require a different set of skills. I cranked up Adobe Illustrator and began looking up tutorials on the subject. I found there to be as great as, if not more diverse, opinions on the subject.

Anyone who has done digital inking knows the difficulty. The biggest obstacle for me was the inability to turn the paper. I know you can rotate work but it's a gamble. If you have a layer locked down and you miss that fact when you rotate the art, then things get out of alignment. Too many chances for a disaster.

One mistake I found myself performing many times was trying to draw curves with my hand rather than with my arm. It's a fact I've know for decades but the strangeness of the tools made me lose ficus and I ended trying to perform this simple task incorrectly. But this is why you practice. To get over those problem area and gain this ability st the level you had with traditional materials.

Another problem I find needs more control is the need to have perfectly clean and neat lines. I was worrying about every line that was out of place and I was constantly going back to fix everything till it was just right. More often than not, it was just wasting my time. What I should have been concentrating on was getting my technic down. Being able to draw a line smooth and consistent is what is important.

I pulled out my copy of DC Comics Guide To Comic Inking for a reread. It's a book about traditional inking but the basics are always necessary. It's fascinating to study the various styles of different inkers.


Data Art, Data Vis Without The Labels

I know, the title is not a justifiable statement, it's a generality. But this network, done my myself and Dr. Jürgen Pfeffer for a Doctor Who magazine, is a good example of what I mean from the title.

When we created the network, every node was labeled giving a view of 49 years of connections within the show. The Doctors, Companions, Acquaintances, and other important characters were color coded. The connections of each told the story of how 49 years of stories interacted. There was a lot of information and it required much in-depth searching of the network.

But for the image we wanted on the first page was one that wouldn't distract the reader with a complex chart. It was designed as an enticement to read the article. Hence, we decided to remove the labels.

It's a concept Jürgen calls noise reduction. If there's too much information in a graph it's possible for the viewer to be unable to grasp what the meaning of the graph is. In that case, the graph has failed. Our graph's mission was to catch the reader's eye so they'd read the title and then want to read the article. That's exactly what a graph with no labels would do.

This image is a piece of data art. It served no other purpose other than to attract attention to itself.