Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NIGHTMARE WORLD week: The Guns of Love Disastrous

My second collaboration with Dirk Manning on NIGHTMARE WORLD marked a real turn artistically for me. I had just started playing with ink washes, but had meager results with how to color them. Actually the results were pretty bad. But I'm stubborn and convinced myself I'd find a way to make it all work.

I'll show off some of my ink work first. I had done 2 previous projects with this technique, but I feel this page is what turned the lights on for me.

one of my favorite pages:

So you can see, I'm fairly comfortable pushing the ink around the page. I remember reading a trade paperback of Jason Aaron's SCALPED at the time. Colorist Giulia Brusco had done a fill in story, coloring beautiful ink washes. Inspired, I played around with some photoshop settings to try to mimic what she had done. I'm not sure if she has a similar process, but I found what I wanted....

Obviously I've modified my process since then, and I'd probably color it different now, but I still look at this project as a key moment in my development as a comic book artist.

Please remember to order a copy of NIGHTMARE WORLD VOL 3 DEMON DAYS  due out next week (October 5th).

Monday, September 26, 2011


So all this week I'll be posting about Nightmare World to celebrate the upcoming release of volume three in trade paperback. NIGHTMARE WORLD Vol 3 DEMON DAYS is available in comicbook shops (or onlie sellers) October 5th. All three volumes can be found here.

NIGHTMARE WORLD, if you didn't know, is the creation of Dirk Manning. I've worked with Dirk on several stories over the last few years, most being for this very anthology. I won't get too much into what it's all about, other than it is a horror anthology with a good mix of Twilight Zone and Tales From the Crypt. I really want to post more about art, so if you like what you see in these posts this week, please pick up a copy or three of NIGHTMARE WORLD. The volumes don't follow any particular order, so you can read them out of sequence.

The first story Dirk wanted me to work on was "Break Stuff". I initially rejected the story, but after several arm-twistings, I relented. The following images are sketches and pencilled pages.



As you can see I was using blue pencil for the drawing stage. The drawings are a bit more detailed as well. My process changes from project to project, year to year. I traditionally inked this story with straight black ink, so the end result is more "traditional" then my more current work. a few colored examples are below.


The complete BREAK STUFF can be found in NIGHTMARE WORLD Vol 1 13 Tales of Terror

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My tools

One of the things I always want to know from other artists is what tools they specifically use. I've experimented with many over the years. Different papers, brush pens, erasers, I've tried them all. The pictures above are what I'm using now.

I'll start at the top. I use Higgins non-waterproof ink, but I never use it straight out of the bottle. Over the years I've grown to have a great distaste for flat black. This has to do mostly with my coloring process. Flat black never really looks right with my coloring process and rarely does the eye see complete natural black. There is always color to see even in darkness.

So I mix higgins with distilled water. Right now I have an "almost black" and a "light grey" mix. You can see one of the bottles right in the center.

To draw with ink, I use a brush. My absolute favorite is a number one Escoda Kolinsky Sable. It's the small blue brush in the picture. Most artists use a number 2, which is a larger, fatter brush, but I've found I can't get the control I can with a thinner brush (I've also used a number zero brush, but it really doesn't hold enough ink).

For pencils I use a 5H pencil. It is extremely hard lead, so the drawings are light. This means I don't have to erase much, if at all. Sometimes i'll add marks over the inks with a mechanical pencil as well.

For panel borders I use a fantastic wedge-shaped marker from Japan, a Sakura Pigma Sensei. I love it because I can vary the line width, but keep it much more consistent than a brush.

The last picture is my paper. I've tried many different brands and this is by far the best bristol I've worked with. This paper has a smooth side and a rough side. I use the smooth. This paper does not bleed and works great for dry brush effects. I just hope they don't change the formula or discontinue it like the last paper I was using.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sketches part 2

Ok, so sometimes I have a very clear idea what a character SHOULD look like, but when I get to drawing him/her, the result is a wild diversion. This is what happened with the character of The Pastor. The Pastor is supposed to be middle-aged, probably close to fifty. For some reason I drew him like this:

I pretty much rejected it right away, but kept drawing because, i dunno, I liked the result in an odd way. I think this is the first drawing I did when I actually started the process for Godstown. It was a good exercise in drawing a 'cowboy' to say the least. 

Jamie, the story's writer, had initially suggested the Pastor look like Spenser Tracy. I think when I drew the first image I was using a reference pic of Tracy, but he must have been too young (in the picture). I refocused and came up with these drawings:

While, the character has evolved to look a bit different (they always seem to do), this was the look I wanted.

I can't remember if I've ever drawn a horse before this project (I rarely draw animals). I definitely hadn't drawn the "Old West". This next sketch was to help me visualize what drawing style(s) I should be using.

Again, not exactly how the final "look" turned out, but a very useful drawing to get the feel I wanted. These were pretty much the only sketch work I did before starting. I'm not big on doing hundreds of sketches before a project as I much rather let the art evolve on the story pages. I did gather, literally hundreds of reference images through capturing still frames from movie westerns, but due to copywrite, I won't be posting any images from that collection.

Monday, September 19, 2011


So, I'm a process junkie. I love to see how other artists do what they do and how they do it. One of my goals for the blog here is to show you some of that. Projects can really take a life of theit own and become something RADICALLY different than what you initially intended. Sometimes initial ideas are too grand, sometimes too limiting. Sometimes the process can take wild turns away from what you want. I'm rambling. Anyway, for GODSTOWN, things have gone pretty much in the direction I wanted, but as you'll see below, ideas were rejected, tweaked and refined.

I'll start off with the story's main "villain," Noah. The first draft of the script called for a "Roy Rogers" singing-cowboy-type of character, so that is where I started....

Godstown is not really meant as a comedy. Noah is a very formable and dangerous character. After drawing this I felt it took too much away from his "dark side". So I saved some of the flair, but toned it down. Also i wanted him to look more dangerous. This was the result, which pretty much stays intact in the sequential pages:

That's all for today. I'll continue with more characters and sketches in the next post.... sometime this week.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Process of a page

Thought I would post on what my art looks like through the stages. I am a one-man "band" when it comes to the art portion of my comic pages. I pencil, ink, color, and letter my pages (although I do have a project coming out sometime next year that i only did pencil and ink-- first time that has happened).

Penciling is probably my least favorite part of the project. I see pencils as pretty much the architecture of the drawing. Not much detail, mostly just placement and proportion. Here's a sample of one of the pages I previously posted:

As you can see, basically just outlines and structure to show me where everything is. Inking is much more enjoyable as this is where i feel more of the "drawing" happens. I don't use a "typical" inking process. My ink is diluted to a dark grey. I use a water-soluble ink, which allows me to create ink washes and grey tones. It's a much more "painterly" process than using flat blacks. Here's the ink stage of the drawing:

My coloring/lettering/digital process is not really easy to describe, so I think I'll do that in a later post. For now, here's the finished page:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


So, my latest project is called Godstown. I'm working with writer, Jamie Cottle. Here's the basic premise:

"God has determined Man is inherently flawed, and needs to be recalled. Noah, heaven’s gunslinger, has been sent by God to cleanse humanity from the Earth. An elderly pastor has rejected his faith for his own code of ethics. His quest of revenge is the only thing standing in Noah's way."

And here are a few teaser images:

Welcome to my new blog! I'll be hopefully posting artwork on a regular basis. Please check back often.