Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ryan Claytor's Art Exhibit

I thought I'd get up a quick post and this time...

wait for it...

It's not about me (that should bring an audible gasp.)

Some of you may have read information about Ryan Claytor here before (if not, shame on you,  you should read some of my previous posts). However to get the low down about Ryan check out his website He's an amazing comics creator and if you've never seen some of his work he has some free previews on his website as well as the option to buy some of his work and/or merchandising i.e. Elephant Eater Comics the flamethrower*
(*not actual merchandise please read disclaimer before use.)

But I digress, here's the meat of this post.

Ryan's having an event at Gone Wired Cafe in Lansing, MI, Wednesday December 3rd. It's going to be a solo art exhibit showcasing some of his work.

Stop on by and get a chance to meet Ryan. He's incredibly friendly and I'm sure you'll be able to squeeze some good conversations out of him. I'll be in attendance and hope to see others there as well.

For more info on the event click here or on the image above. While you're there take some time to peruse his website and see what he has to offer. Be sure to check out the comics section and news. Ryan has a lot of great stuff to enjoy.


Friday, November 28, 2008

THE OLD BECOMES NEW: Comics Obscura Issue 3

AH HA!!! I have returned...

Of course that's after recovering from my tryptophan induced sleep. And now back to the third installment of "THE OLD BECOMES NEW"

For this installment I'll be talking about Comics Obscura issue number three.

All in all this issue was probably the greatest learning experience.

First off the printing.

While the traditional offset press was producing fantastic work the cost became an issue.

For those of you who are not aware about traditional offset printing the majority of your cost comes from setup. The setup usually consists of checking the files for consistency, developing the plates, mounting the plates on the press, aligning the plates (in multiple color printing), and checking ink levels as the pages go through the press. All of these things have to be done for each side of the paper being printed on. Of course this is all based off of a "camera ready copy".

A camera ready copy is the final piece ready to go to print and shot onto a negative to be "burned" onto a plate for the press. In the modern age Camera Ready is actually just a digital file in a specified format (by the printer) that requires no to minimal work (usually transferring the files to the plate making software) on the printers end to go to press.

Before I talked about cost mainly being in the setup that's because the  actual printing is fast and not that labor intense (depending on the machine). You'll notice when getting quotes from printer that you'll begin to see what's called volume discount. This is essentially how you would lower the cost per unit of your print run this is because to have the machine print 3000 pages takes a little more time than it would take to print 1000. Most of the work is already done in the setup hence the cost is reduced the larger the print run.

For comics Obscura Issue 3 I decided to switch to digital print-on-demand through This kept my cost per unit comparable to the traditional offset prices of a lower print run. Overall the product was great we switched from a glossy paper to a standard bond paper (kinda like normal printer paper but a little heavier weight). If you're looking on printing 1 or 500+ issues for your own production you might wanna give them a shot. You can find Ka-Blam by clicking here.

Also issue# 3 brought up another interesting subject... Deadlines and dedication.

Previously all of the creators were really gung-ho about producing their work. Something interesting happened after issue 2... Everyone got lazy.

Now when I say that, I blame myself for part of it.

I had a lot of personal life events happening preventing me from staying focused on my work as well as dealing with new production issues.

However a lot of the artists involved lost focused and found other events in life to occupy their time. This took place because of that artistic hurdle of a continuing project. The simple thought of "I just wanna get this done and move on to the next part" took over and when they saw the next hurdle coming they would look elsewhere to bide their time. When this shift in attention took place it wasn't a conscious choice. The mind found something it was more interested in and the body soon followed. In a was it was a sort of escapism from what they had set out to do for themselves. Speaking of which it started to turn more to the artists no wanting to let me down, but this is a whole other subject for another time.

Comics Obscura was founded as a driven group of artists who came together to publish their works. I became involved taking the helm (due to my experience) and Comics Obscura bloomed into a professional quality production.

Taking the lead had its positives and negatives.

It was good to the fact that I started streamlining a lot of the digital process and post production work as well as expanding my studies on graphic narrative and visual storytelling.

However the downfall comes when trying to apply discipline. Communication broke down when deadlines weren't met and by that I mean personal deadlines.

Lesson: If you're going to tell someone that you are going to be done, be reasonable. If you're prone to screwing around and have other interests in life take that into consideration when setting a personal deadline. Delivering a product earlier that your deadline is better than stressing yourself out over missing the deadline.

Now that I've completely bored you until this point onto The Tao of Snarky installment three.

Issue three of Snarky is actually the first six pages of the first full issue titled The Tao of Snarky: The Cutting Edge.

For this issue I wanted to showcase my inks and not put in any tone work. I'm adding grays for the full issue but really wanted to give the pure white and black starkness of the panels a chance to shine.

The story takes off with after installment two so if you hadn't read that before scroll down and check it out.

I have a few favorite things about this issue and one right off the bat is the first page. The emotion that plays out on Snarky's face is one dread and complacency and when combined the words you get a sense of how he feels.

I'd love to here what everyone thinks is there favorite panels, phrases, or events from the sequential work posted and why. Not to geek it out (maybe just a little) but just to pick your collective brains and take a peak inside (without becoming a serial killer or spending the time in school to become a neurosurgeon) see how some of the work is coming across.

Well that's all for now one more main installment of THE OLD BECOMES NEW: After issue# 3. I'll delve into where Comics Obscura stands right now and some major changes that have taken place since then.


Monday, November 24, 2008


Wow, what a weekend...

Thank you everyone who stopped by, from new faces to old, it was great getting to talk with you all.

Hopefully everyone who attended had a good time. All of the exhibitors and creators really made it an enjoyable weekend.

Many memorable moments were had. From the quote "Toss it in the air like a baby." and carpooling with Ryan Claytor to rubber band wars at the end of Sunday.

Once again, thank you everyone for making the weekend worthwhile and great big ol' thanks to Brian Germain and Dark Elf Designs for putting on a great show.

I hope we all can stay in touch and not wait till the next con to try and play catch up.

Oh almost forgot one more thing "DARN YOU GALAXY COMICS AND YOUR $1 BIN!!!" between Ryan and I we easily took the equivalent of a long box home (for those who don't know what a long box is trust me it's a lot of comics.)

Keep an eye out for more stuff to come though XcapeCON I made some contacts with some other great creators and it looks like we're going to have some joint projects coming out soon.

Until next time,


Monday, November 17, 2008


So I've had a little problem keeping on track with my projects...

This includes but is not limited to the much needed revamping on my business card. Finishing the layout for Snarky: the Cutting Edge Issue 1. Writing and creating the rough Layout for a new "one and done" 24 page comic involving an antagonist almost everyone can understand, the Nazis. And also getting a new publication for Comics Obscura off of the ground...

Wait a minute...

This is involving that new project.

So anyways after issue 3 a great artist joined our group by the name of Rick Schlaak. He's constantly amazing me while his talent grows by leaps and bounds every time his pencil or pen nib touches the page.

Now I'm not going to give to much of the project away but I have one word for you... DINOSAURS (as if you couldn't tell by the title of this post).

Rick recently sent me some preliminary sketches he scanned in. All of the images were absolutely remarkable, however there was one that jumped out at me and begged to be colored(not literally but that would have been a sight to see). So I did.

I can't explaining to much about the project so I'll stick to basic dictation

The first image is the original scan of Rick's drawing (as I said this guys got serious talent).

The preceding image is my basic flats.

The third and final image if the final colors (sadly I saved over the mid stage file between my color flats and final, I apologize, next time I'll have it ready to post and stored in a safe place.)

Click on the images to see the image in a new window.



Saturday, November 15, 2008


Come and join myself and many other artists and creators at this years installment of the Xcape Con in Flint MI Saturday November 22nd and Sunday November 23rd. Last year they had a pretty good turnout and with a full day only costing you $8 (in advance $10 at the door) you can't find a better price.

At the convention you'll find some of the greats like one of my personal favorites: William Messner-Loebs.

Now if you're not familiar with his name you might be familiar with his work. Just take a peak into your collection and you may be surprised what he's done. He was co-writer for the MAXX w/ Sam Keith, he wrote a highly acclaimed run on Wonder Woman, and one of my personal favorites that he wrote and illustrated... JOURNEY: The Adventures of Wolverine MacAlistaire. He's worked on many more projects than this of course but those are just to name a few.

The last project listed, JOURNEY, was just released this past summer by IDW. Volume 1 (from what I can find) collects the first 9 or so issues, Volume 2 is scheduled to be released early 2009. Click here to find out more about JOURNEY. It is a fantastic read and comes highly recommended by myself I just finished reading the last issue of the series (issue 27) the other day and truly enjoyed the story of “Old Joss”. Take a moment to read some of this book and stop on by to talk with Bill. He's always doing sketches (for a cheap price considering his skill) and usually has some products to sell. Some of the best conversations that Ive had at these events have been with Bill.

Another creator of note: Ryan Claytor of Elephant Eater Comics. Ryan's recently become one of my favorite creators, choosing his life as the subjects of his stories. Now anyone who's got the fortitude to put his life out there as the context of his work already has my respect. I just read the publication of his MFA Thesis and when I finished it felt like I just got done having a conversation with Ryan. He should have a few copies of his project “And Then One Day” on hand. These are collections of his autobiographical comics. Each of the collections are a must read, even if you're not into autobiographical comics. Ryan has chosen certain points that are destined to be enjoyed in this all ages format. As well as pushing the bounds and exploring new avenues for the comics medium.

I could go on and on about the guests at this event and make this post incredibly long (as if it's not already), here's some of note (in no particular order):

Matt Busch
Eric Wilmoth
Mark Bloodworth
Uko Smith
Matt Feazell
Dark Elf Designs
Marc Wolfe
Larry Lonzby
Gemma Keech
Jason Ball
Justin Faber
and Many more...

Stop by and take a moment to talk with some of these great creators and maybe purchase an item or two (because we all love it when you do that!) Also you can find a complete list of guests and dealers at the Xcape CON website:

Hope to see you there!


THE OLD BECOMES NEW: Part 2: Comics Obscura Issue #2

The early stages of production for issue two blended with a lot of marketing and getting our names out to the public.

Marketing included a Radio interview on The Impact's Exposure program (The Impact is a diverse commercial free radio station produced through MSU, look for the podcast on 1/9/07), a couple news articles one through The City Pulse (a local Lansing free paper), and an interview found in the The Lookout (a paper published through Lansing Community College). We also had a signing at Clem's Collectibles. Also we had out first review done after Issue 2 by Eric from

All of the creators were on a high from the welcomed reception of issue 1. It helped push the creation of issue 2. #2 was scheduled to be released in March of 2007 however production issues caused a postponement and the issue was finally released in late April 2007.

The production of issue 2 brought to light many problems about how the books were put together.

First timeliness and quality of finished art.

All of the artists were really good about getting their work done (I applaud them on that). Some artists took longer and we ended up dropping 2 artists for the second issue. However, I found myself touching up the pages of multiple artists digitally leading to a longer than anticipated production time on my part.

A lot of the touch-ups had to do with ink and the various types of pens that were used. The ink that was laid down on the paper would appear to be black (in contrast to the white paper) until you look closely at lines. When looking closely there's subtle variations, some inks appear brown or just a dark gray. During scanning the intense white light picks up the subtle differences of the inks and exposes the problems. Removal of pencil lines after the ink is laid down further degraded the line work exposing more problems (I think that pun was intended). This caused problems when digitizing the lines as they would appear to be broken, dirty, or incomplete. Many hours were spent just correcting the lines of the original art digitally to reproduce the original intentions of the creators.

Tip: If you're trying to create art specifically to be reproduced get a hold of a scanner and then run some tests. Use different inks, pens, and pencils on various papers to try and find the results that you are looking for. This can take a lot of time and I'd recommend speaking with various creators and artist about what supplies they use. Pick up tips and tricks to try and make life a little easier.

Well now that I've probably bored most of you...

Onto the meat of my sequential submission for Comics Obscura issue 2.

The second installment of the Tao of Snarky.

Brad and I went into this issue with the concept of six pages in and out. A few scripts in, some editing and re-writing later I put together the following pages (click on the image to open the pages).

I just love this story. I wanted to pay homage to Eisner's The Spirit where he used one page for the title and told the story using the next 6 pages. With The Spirit some of the stories linked into each other but there was always a definitive end to each installment.

For the art I chose to take a different path than the first issue. In the first issue the grays were done on the physical page using Copic brand markers. This issue I stuck with physical inks and digital grays. For the grays I used Painter 8 and literally painted the pages using the Oil Pastel brush. I also played around a lot more with panel structure keeping it a little tighter than the first issue and presenting some unique panels as well.

One panel really stood out to me for this entire thing an ironically that's the last image. It's the quintessential exiting panel, our hero walks off into the distance bidding the audience adieu.

Let me know what you think I'd love to hear some feedback.

Now you've seen some more of the past, and have no fear once I get this out of the way I'll start posting some new things. I've been delving heavily into digital color so I've got some new pieces coming up and info on some new projects that I'm organizing and putting some work into.

So enjoy, I'll have the third installment of “LOOKING BACK”: coming soon including the third installment of the Tao of Snarky and I'll go a little bit more into the production end of Comics Obscura that brought some major production changes including the decision to go to digital printing instead of the traditional offset press.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

THE OLD BECOMES NEW: A look back on Comics Obscura issue 1

Time for another installment…

I’ve forgone posting new elements and made the executive decision to post some old stuff first. If you have seen this before hopefully it’ll be new and exciting for you to see it in a different type of media (HA! Laughed myself stupid after writing that one!). If you haven’t seen this stuff before then enjoy.

First off the following pieces are from Issue 1 of Comics Obscura.

I’d like to take a minute (or so depending on how fast you read) to talk about the introduction.

This simple two-page story was used to introduce our narrator of Comics Obscura, The Obscurationist. Choosing to write a rhythmic alliteration of verses the art came shortly after. Each of the four panels found in the rows were one solid image broken into panels to initiate a sense of time and motion. Each of the panels is given pace by the text that accompanies them. You may find this has a very strong feel for oration, that’s how we imagined the Oscurationist to be (An actor, a used car salesman, a carnival barker, etc.)

I had a lot of fun creating these two pages. Hopefully you’ll enjoy as much as still do to this day.

Now on to my main piece from Comics Obscura Issue 1… The Tao of Snarky

The story is about a detective (Snarky) who’s stuck on a foreign planet. I’m not going to give you much more now because the four pages below will pretty much set the stage for the world of Snarky.

It’s a funny thing how it came about though...

I have been working with Brad DeMaagd for a while now trying to get a few projects off the ground. This all started as a fluke detective story to grease the gears on our finally tuned machine. We tossed ideas around about what to do for a first issue. We had about three scripts written each one taking well over our four page limit we wanted to hold ourselves to. Suddenly Brad one day says “Oh yeah, here this quick little write up I did of Snarky writing in his diary…” I took one look at it read it over and simply replied “This is our first Issue.” Funny how sometimes things just fall into place. So I went to work breaking down the diary entry and pacing it for the comic. Threw images together experimenting with different styles on each page for the layout and in the end was really happy with the first installment of Snarky.

Please enjoy this four-page tale.

All in all publishing Comics Obscura issue 1 was a real positive experience. We sold a large portion of our first issue with in the first four months. We got great reviews, the individual comics were well received and the quality of the product all around was amazing. Though without the other creators the issue would not have been half as interesting, or had so much to offer over a multitude of genres.
But alas I have begun to overstay my welcome.

I’ll be posting installments two and three shortly so check back again and read them for the first time again… (if that made any sense). Plus I'll delve into my role with Comics Obscura and how's it's evolved since the first meeting over two and a half years ago.

Hold tight to your panties or your respective undergarments... there is more to come!


Friday, November 7, 2008

First Post & 24 hr Comic Book Day

Alright Ladies and Gentleman in the Digital world....

I've finally taken the first step into online blogging. Now to keep this horribly brief I feel for my first post I'll talk about a little project I was involved in...

INTERNATIONAL 24 hour Comics Day!!!

So I'm a little late getting this out there but I had a lot of fun on October 18th, 2008. For those of you who don't know what 24 hour Comics Day is just image this... 24 consecutive hours for an individual Comic Book Creator to create a 24 page comic. That's fully written, illustrated, and edited in the 24 hour period. Almost forgot... Only preparation is inadvertent i.e. supplies, resource material, things like that. To learn more just click here.

So now you know the premise, now here's the setup. Beginning at 10 am Saturday morning seven of us set off on the challenge at Clem's Collectibles in downtown Lansing, MI. The seven comprised of Dean Stahl, Dan Harris, Ryan Claytor, Eric Wilmoth, Jason Howard, Jonathon Gordon, and myself. We were all off to a good pace (except myself I had some errands to run right off the bat. After a quick run home to get a program for my scanner and a jaunt to Grand Art Supply for blue lead I was finally on my way. It was already 11am though... 1 hour down.) Through out the day many great and wonderful people stopped in to say "hi" and witness all seven of us creating. Around 3:30-ish in the afternoon I had twelve pages "blue-lined" and had to do some "plotting" to close up my story... Of course this was done over a pint of Guinness next door at Brannigan Brothers. Forty-five minutes, an interview, and a fun chat with a drunken guy later, I was back to the races.

Late in the evening tragedy stuck. We lost Jonathan Gordon to a previous sports-related injury, he unfortunately was not able to continue and had to bow out of the challenge. The six of us plowed on throughout the night. Dean Stahl was the first to finish he closed up his story at 19 pages around 6:30am, Ryan Claytor finished his 25 page expose around 7:30 (he thought he had 24 pages but merely ended up with 2 page 16's from my understanding). Dan Harris finished around 9:30am. I myself finished at 9:59am with about 40 seconds to spare. Eric Wilmoth and Jason Howard were unable to complete their comics in the 24 hour period (though it should be noted that Jason Howard had his entire comic penciled and was working on inks when the clock struck 10am)

All in all the challenge was worth it, the experience indispensable, and the camaraderie unmatched.

With out further ado HERE is my 24 Hour Comic for all to enjoy.

More posts and images will be coming soon (after all this is my first post in a developing blog), so check back often and feel free to comment, judge, rate, berate, disassemble, enjoy, praise, or tear whatever I have to say or create to shreds a.k.a. "Tear me a knew one." Constructive criticism is appreciated and welcomed.

Well that's all for now.

Until next time,