Aug 31, 2011
There was a lot of ways to go graphically. I could have done a cross section. I could have made my character walking through the twisted labyrinthian corridors of my brain tissue(maybe in another comic). But instead I went for a multilevel playhouse of gadgets, libraries, porn, girls, and sucking black holes of mortality(see I changed it between the writing of this already). Another idea was to have the brain bisected by left and right with all the things I do using those sides. That seemed smart and interesting but not really story oriented so I decided not to.
I noticed that it took me a week of thinking about it for it to formulate visually for me(I drew other things during the breaks). It was one page but the flow had to be right and all of the above methods offered their own distinct advantages and disadvantages. The second rough layout took a few hours of on and off drawing and thinking and then the pencils took about half a day with another day for inking. Plus a lot of thinking and deciding how to place things and light things to work in the larger sense as well as the smaller sense. I wanted it to have that weird cool Caribbean interior cavern feeling of the Pirates Of The Caribbean ride mixed with the Matterhorn ride with it's caverns. I wanted the brains to feel organic and squirmy and packed. There is a lot of space devoted to porn and art in that picture, fortunately, that is true of me so it works. Notice all the important stuff like math and jobs and stuff are packed into that tight corner. Although I know I use a large part of my thinking on history, sociology, science, and storytelling(more than anyone else I know).
I also told one of the girls in story the plot(because I was explaining why I was changing her name) and she thought I made it up until she started remembering parts of it. I was happy when she suddenly saw it made a weird sort of sense.
A funny thing occurred to me while drawing this one. I was drawing the girls and just doodling away in contentment(in a way I make these comics so I can draw them) and all of a sudden I snapped out of it and thought it was really bizarre to be drawing them, especially from distant memory when I am so out of touch with them(kind of). I was like what the fuck am I thinking, and then I remembered oh yeah, you're telling a story. Even though, I had a hard time drawing one of the girls because it had been so long since I saw her(the other I had to ask for pictures so I could get her right because it had been even longer since I had seen her). I sort of cheated it and drew one in a lot of shadows, but I just couldn't draw her right.
It's just weird now because I technically like all these people with the same intensity I last did, but time has passed and I have changed. Not the emotions, just the guy, if that makes any sense. I guess if I fell in love(and I am picky) it would erase all that but I haven't been so its the same emotion, just the guy who feels it is very different. And I'm happy that I'm better and wish I knew those girls now.
At least I now have to draw myself noticeably more disheveled than I currently am. That makes me feel kind of good in a weird way. It makes the progress more noticable. That was an unexpected surprise when I did that last episode.
I guess I make weird decisions I feel are foregone conclusions. And it's those decisions I won't back down on no matter what. I always say I think sideways instead of in a straightforward way like other people. You could say my brain is broken or you can say I look at things differently(and seem to enjoy them more because of it).
I see clues and portents to the way things will most likely go. The unbelievable amount of bullshit that everyone has coming out of their mouths doesn't matter. It's about action and emotion. People talk shit and don't know what they are doing so it seems like a waste to listen. Instead I just pay attention. See what people actually do rather than what they say. Look for the holes. It's what people are not saying that is important. That is what I see. What I listen to.
And I make the "dumb" decision to listen and follow through with what I feel because it leads down a path I'd rather go down, with people I want to be there with.
Having said all that, my comic has gone a long way to following those hunches. Things I said many years ago, and feelings I had were recently followed up on. But all of a sudden when I got off the phone with a girl I realized I said this was going to be our future more than a decade ago. This was what I believed and no one else ever believed it with me. Doesn't matter. As long as you're right. Sometimes you actually know people better than you have any right to and you know that they have to be in your life and why. People are starting to remember I am all about love and when I love something I'm all in forever. I've always said it and I'm proving it over and over. I'm devoted.
No one knew me like that for ten years. It's like I'm back. And I needed that ego boost. Believe me, I haven't even met a single woman in 6 months so attention was needed or I was going to go out like a candle.
Anyway, that happened, and made me quite happy again(too personal to talk about for once). Reminded me I know what I am talking about when it comes to certain things(me and the girls I love). And why I only vibe with them and no one else. Regardless of all that, I am still single(but not looking), still haven't moved, and still working on this comic. But not feeling so empty about it all. I said I was a completely different guy when I am happy. It's true.
Aug 23, 2011
This is the 23nd part of my 31 chapter August comic*(don't know why I said 22nd before). And that is one part of my graphic novel Thought Balloon Man. It's about a time in my life where I hit rock bottom and then found some inspiration to change. And its vulgar and funny and sad and smart and mean and dumb. Like life.
It started when I made up this idea for a bunch of short comic strips. It was about this average guy who said average things in average situations but his thoughts were really fucked up. And the novelty of it was that it was realistic(but made up stories) and only the reader would be aware of what the main character was thinking. Which is almost every story. But I had read this column about how thought balloons were a comic novelty that had a different narrative use than regular first person. It was a sort of first person immediate.
And sometime in the 90's I had a conversation with my friend Roland. I was working at Flying Colors Comics in concord, california(figure I'd plug it). I think it was some lazy afternoon and I was drawing something. And Roland said I should just make comics of stuff that just happened. And I almost did it dozens of times over the years, but never really started it.
Late in the 2000's(weird saying that) I had that Thought Balloon Man idea cemented in my mind so when I really felt like shit, like I let my life go to hell, I was so pissed off at myself I wrote this scene about my complete failure as a person. It was a like saying fuck you to fate. I'm going to own this. I'm going to rule this. I know just how to do it.
This is a graphic novel about that change, and at the same time the force that made the change.
It's all my will, all my feelings, all my soul, and right now all that matters to me. And it's kind of not that important.
It is contradictions. It is making fate. It is breaking fate. It is not letting fate have me as it's whore. It is joy, it is hate, it is love, and it is nothing at all. Just a story. Or just everything thats ever worth it.
*where's the other 21 chapters? They are old and need to be fixed. It won't take nearly as long as doing them the first time, but good news is a good 50% didn't suck, so it's not that big a problem. Plus I'm becoming a machine here.
I rewrote a bunch of stuff so basically all you need to know is I called this girl I liked a bunch and was a total loser and just lost, and now a few weeks later it's August and I'm trying to find some purpose since drinking wasn't getting me anywhere, and I made this comic of that conversation with the girl. It starts to get weird and I self examine and start to find weird parallels and interesting paths.
Last time we saw me a lot of random shit was happening in my life, now we're finally getting to the part where that stuff comes to a head because of a lot of coincidences and bad decisions.
Consider these posts a preview of the longer graphic novel. This is toward the end of this part of the graphic novel.
The next post will be the next episode of August(but it's not coming out tomorrow). I'll put them out at a staggered rate because one of the episodes is really long and involved.
Aug 8, 2011
I've been writing like a madman lately. I edited all 100 pages I currently have of August(the pdf with chapter pages and stuff amounted to 100, and that did not include work I had done for Thought Balloon Man which August is just a chapter in, and a few pages I have done that were not added). It was torturous because those were really experimental for me and I was just working on ways to do things and ways to draw since it was my own comic and I wouldn't be fucking over anyone but trying new things. And I was merciless by the way.
It was done episodically at the time. But of course when it's all collected that episodic nature just seems repetitive. So I got rid of a lot of redundancy. I didn't really cut anything except a line here or there(almost on every page, though) because it was either non important dialogue(that may have been important in a different context) or dialogue I'd rather like to explore in different points of Thought Balloon Man.
There is a beginning, middle, and end(to every chapter in fact). But the way I structured the story, It starts with the phone call, then a long chapter called the Muse, then a really bad winter chapter called Binge, then August, then three more chapters. The chapters are long, but not as long as August and the storytelling is not separated by days, but more from "important" moment to important moment like a normal story mixed with my flights of fancy of course.
Heres a very important point I want to make to everyone:
I have been practicing to be better and better for years because I was not drawing good enough to be happy with my work. It's a progressive thing. I've been doing it since I was 11. It's the ONLY reason I haven't drawn Tooth And Nail yet. It's already written and on it's third draft. I'm just not quite good enough yet to make it look like it looks in my head. And the same goes for all of my more epic fictional stuff.
Thought Balloon Man was just what I did at my lowest point when I needed to spit out one last bitter story or die. And August was my exploratory way of searching for some sort of intersection between my life and my art(with a muse being a perfect bridge). After that, art did seemingly intersect with my life, so all the preceding stuff suddenly had a weird sense of pre-destiny that could be fictional, but still was entertaining when seen from my point of view(as in if you lived my life, you'd be surprised to find how much more that comic did for me than I give it credit for).
So today, I lock myself in this room with a bottle of unfiltered sake to loosen me up(it's the part before I start writing that gets on my nerves) and I finish writing the rest of August. Technically I wrote most of it in 2009, got upset or something, and wouldn't touch it, but more than 50% is already written. I just need to cut it in half. I made a choice to just vomit up every feeling and emotion and edit it down to the few words that counted. So I have like 5 pages of pure lust in there I need to cut down to 1(its so lusty it makes me laugh at myself).
I think it ends in ways no one suspected, but I have a lot of funny stuff and sad stuff to go in Thought Balloon Man. I'll put up the new pages soon. After I finish the new pages I have to go back and redraw a bunch of old pages and fix stuff(on every page, sometimes it's a hand, sometimes it's lettering, sometimes it's a whole caption that needs to go).
After i finish this this weekend, I'll be finishing the muse chapter(writing wise, although some art has been done for it). And then I'll finish writing Binge, and so on. Basically all I'm saying is whatever you see in August(which will have a certain closure) is expanded on in detail in the rest with a bunch of other stuff that happened.
This same week I also made a detailed plot of a 300 page story. I passed it on to my friend Crack Mike so he could dissect it for plot holes and messed up science(it's kind of a hard speculative fiction/futurist tech/super soldier/super villain type of story). My goal was to make the super hero comic I could not buy anywhere. Something really grounded but still crazy with a lot of characters with wild back stories and wilder inventions. And a lot of twists.
Maybe it was A Dance With Dragons that inspired me. I forgot how epic things could get. And every story I ever made up was WAAAAY too epic. For years my life wasn't going so well, so I had to focus on the real and dumped all the 20 years of fiction I had developed to one day draw. I think it was me giving up on everyone that brought me back to fiction. And here I had hundreds of pages of notes for just this occasion.
So I plunged into my super hero story with this hunger to make a comic scene that no longer existed. The time of Starman, Preacher, The Authority, Planetary, and some of the more original out there super hero comcis is very much over and it is going to take someone like me who doesn't HAVE to draw Spiderman or Batman to bring it back.
Comic Creators Are Crazy
The Frank Millers, the Alan Moores, the Neil Gaimens are gone for the most part. Either working in other mediums or retired. We have new guys like Brian Michael Bendis and Matt Fraction. But where are the crazies like Steve Ditko(co-creator of Spiderman and old kook with an obsession for Ayn Rand) or Wally Wood(one of the greats who drunk himself to death)?
We do have one guy who is still bugfuck insane, and that is the great Grant Morrison(Animal Man, the Invisibles, which he claims Matrix ripped off, the Filth, which I really liked, and Batman and Superman, and New Xmen and JLA, etc.). He is a rock star of craziness in a world of crazy comic people. He is smart and drugged up to the gills and probably genuinely insane, but entertaining most of the times.
I remember seeing one of my idols Paul Pope, a true comics autuer and one of the main reasons I do comics the way I do them. I made all my stuff super personal because I was fascinated that Pail Pope was so straight forward(even if it sounded egotistical, which everything I write must sound like, but honesty comes with the bad, but also the good, so I have an ego about some things). I saw Pope at Comic-con one year. He is just a few years older than me, really fucking cool, smart, and women seem to swoon over him. He is almost a prefect bridge between the weirdo comic artists and the opposite sex. He knew how to make comics that are for everyone, not for people who like comics.
After what felt like the funnest conversation between non geeks on the actual artistic merit and thought of comics I then went to see one of my favorite artists(an utter genius and nice guy) J. H. Williams(his Promethea is one of the all time most beautiful comics, written by Alan Moore by the way). Grant Morrison was the moderator of the panel andhere was this rock star, completely in awe of one of my favorite artists, a guy who had drawn Morrison comics, and Morrison was just enamored by the whole artistic brain of this guy. Just smiling and laughing at the utter genius. And it was that comradery of artists and appreciation that made me want to make GREAT comic art.
So if I am not good enough to draw what I wrote I take that very seriously. The cure to that is being a better artist. And I will be.
I want to be an author. A storyteller to be exact, because I don't care if it's the written word, or if I am speaking it or drawing it. The form doesn't matter to me as much as telling a story in general.
One of my main goals as an author is to make very personal work that has echoes in every other thing I write. This is to make a cohesive body of work regardless of the type of story. It's also because I want to make a catalogue of work. My goal isn't to have the best selling issue of a comic out every month. It is to have something that is worth rereading. My idols weren't the guys writing the highest selling comics, it was the guys who sold graphic novels that sell for 20 years. Preacher, Watchmen, V For Vendetta,etc.(and just to say it the comics are WAAAAAAAAY better than the movies based on them) all of those comics made just a fraction in first printing of what they made in the collected books.
There are actually not nearly enough creators out there who only want to work on original work(although I'd love to do a six issue Batman story, if I never do I'll be just fine. The catch is that the material has to be very high quality. Otherwise it won't stand the test of time.
One of my biggest problems in life is I don't let people in on my deep motivations so they assume I have none or am aimless. That is as further form the truth as possible. I've had the exact same plan since I was 10 or 11. Nothing has changed, progress has been made, and technically I am on the first step of my life's carreer. Which was always the plan. Point me to whoever else is doing exactly what they say they would do when they were 11, no compromise, no bullshit, exactly what they want. I generally don't meet those people.
This has led to all kinds of misunderstandings. People offer me jobs all the time, people think I don't have a job, people think I don't know what I am doing. So this is what I am doing.
I am currently working on the last half of a graphic novel I was hired to draw for a company. I have a contract and a shit ton of pages. It will probably be done around the end of the year.
I basically do Thought Balloon Man when I have time because it's a personal work of a time in my life that was still happening(it's all over now). August is a chapter in that graphic novel. I am finishing the final draft of the script today. It was harder to do without closure but I got it and now the story is done and complete(again, technically only one person knows that ending besides myself and what I mean by closure).
After one is finished I finish the other. And after that it is either my super hero comic, or Tooth And Nail. Absolutely, definitely, only way around it is if I do childSTAR(the Brooks Laughton movie I've been looking for funding for) or I get money thrown at me to do another comic(which happens, but my opinion of 98% of comic writers is very low so chances of letting any old person write for me is almost nothing, and just to clarify, I am working with two writers I do like who are original, so they are excluded from that statement, and I would do comics for my best friends who also write if I had time).
Baseball Hall Of Fame
I talked to my boss from ten years ago and friend Joe Field. He wrote a biographical story about his relative who was a famous baseball player. Chris Mendoza who made this site with me pencilled the story and I inked it and added washes(gray tones). He was visiting the Baseball Hall Of Fame and mentioned this comic, so they asked him for it and put it in the museum in the guys file. I'm sure it's not out on display or anything, but it's in a historical institution so if I cease to exist there is proof of my existence somewhere. Once I get into the Library Of Congress my master plan will have reached fruition and I'll be a fictional immortal(as in when I die my work lives on).
That cheered me up more than I am making it sound. It was in fact just the pick me up I needed when I was half way through this week and exhausted from editing 100 pages and trying to plot 300 more(both finished!).
I said it before, inspiration is a huge percentage of art. Beautiful art is inspired. Uninspired art is from hacks.
Some people look to their kids and think of how they keep a roof above those heads, or look at their loved one and know they worked hard to put a smile on that face. I am as single as fucking possible, with years worth of stories that no one has read. And months before I can even really show people some finished results. It's really frustrating because you work hard on something that no one knows or cares exists until it's done(I'm sure a large part of my frustration comes from that). Before that it's running on fumes of hope. And unfortunately I am in that stage of the work.
People think I do nothing and have nothing when I am sitting on something like 2,000 pages of finished writing. Dead Next Door has been filmed and cut, The Goode Apples was 150 pages and I cut it down to 125 by the last draft, Tooth And Nail was on it's third draft years ago and I've designed most of it already, August is finishing very soon, A Thousand Words plotted and almost all written, same with Thought Balloon Man, completely plotted out epics like my super hero thing, and a bunch of comedy shorts, including one full length comedy variety show which I gave up on when I realized i had no crew, actors or funding[and it was really really my style, it was like SNL mixed with Dave Chappelle kind of thing with an opening monologue and everything]. I even had a 2 season 24 episode pitch I made for an actor. The actor may be friends of my friends but he's a flake and doesn't know how to run his career(he was in a top rated show and now he doesn't have a job). I worked on a video game that was based on the sequel fro Tooth And Nail. I quit the video game when they watered down what was interesting, thats what committees do and that's why stuff is so bland, but the central concept was that interesting that it got me a bunch of meetings and a possible future I had to decide against.
Whats the hold up
I need to be good enough to draw them. No, I need to be fucking great to draw them. I didn't make shitty material. I made the best I was capable of(except in The Dead Next Door and August which were almost half experiments). I need to draw the comics as well as they were written. That's all I am waiting for. And waiting is the wrong word because I practice everyday to get better. I AM getting published. I AM finishing the work. And I AM doing the projects I mentioned(except for perhaps the movie stuff if no one is interested). The only thing that would not make me do those things is if I died. Otherwise those things are all I want to do, excluding new projects of course, but new projects have their own place to fill and do not necessarily mess up my schedule. Tooth And Nail and my super hero comic are very different but are both action packed so when I move one over to do the other next, it serves nearly the same purpose to me, except I really want to copyright the super hero characters before someone else comes along with similar names and costumes and ideas. Ones a little more time sensitive than the other, basically.
I gave my friend the first draft outline of my super hero comic. I told him to scroll down. He thought I was insane. Pages and pages of character background, outlines to all the sequels, cutting edge science both real and made up, and every plot twist plotted out for ten chapters at over 300 pages(comic wise 300 pages is kind of a lot compared to a book. Try reading Watchmen in one afternoon and then tell me that is less dense than a book).
I'm fighting for art and stories. It's all I care about. I am an entertainer and I need to entertain. So lets bring on those comics I said I was gonna do, right.
P.S.: the only thing that still really hurts about the whole Thought Balloon Man is looking back at how dense I was when girls actually did like me. I was pretty stupid. Now I know because I'm older, smarter, and way more comfortable around girls, but holy crap did I keep screwing up(and I'm sure I still do, although its been a while since I've been a real screw up). It's a phase of my life that is over and I'm sure I got a bunch of new mistakes to make in this next phase of my life. I guess part of the growth is from self examining so much and trying to find solutions. Kind of what the whole story is about, I guess.