I’m thrilled to announce in collaboration with my co-conspirator Karl Kesel that starting today as special tricky treat, a brand-new, full color, zombie-infested TREKKER story is up and running today at Thrillbent.com. This is the firsr of a two-part Trekker/Johnny Zombie team-up! Part Two will post in two short weeks.
“City of the Dead” was Karl’s brainstorm from the first. Karl and I go back many, many years from our friendship beginning in our days at the Kubert School. Despite our shared affinity for classic comic storytellers and art, we’ve worked together only glancingly over all that time. As I pursued my winding career path, Karl quickly evolved into one of the most entertaining writers and one of the most accomplished inkers in all of comics. Recently, he’s also brought his unmatched craftsmanship to penciling as well, making him one of the top triple-threat creators in the field.
As if that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, Karl somehow also found himself dreaming up a tale where his own iconic zombie-hunting hero Johnny Zombie could cross paths with Mercy St. Clair. We talked over the idea (basically, Karl shared it with me and I said, “When do we start?”) and quickly got to work.
One of the key decisions we made up front was to design the story specifically for a digital format and to take advantage of this new medium. It was, to a large extent, a new way of approaching things. For a couple of comics veterans, it was a thrill to find ourselves discovering new twists in how we could have our tale unfold.
Karl presented the original story idea, and we haven’t deviated significantly from that. But, as we worked to plan things out, we would tweak bits here and there to take advantage of special storytelling moments that are unique to the digital comic. Once we had things planned out, I penciled the work, and then Karl applied his immaculate inking touch. We were lucky to enlist both Karl’s regular Johnny Zombie colorist Grace Allison and Trekker’s own Jeremy Colwell to do the terrific and appropriately spooky coloring.
Karl and I are both tremendously pleased with the outcome. And we were very happy and a bit honored to find that Mark Wade was willing to host the story at his popular Thrillbent site!
On top of all this, it has been a great joy to finally get to work together with Karl, who I admire so much as a person as well as an artist of the first caliber.
Check it out, and see what you think of the potential that the digital medium adds to comics’ storytelling!
Posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago at 12:57 pm. Add a comment
Still jazzed from the great time I had this past weekend at the extremely well-run very first Rose City Comic-Con, it’s time to post here my next two conventions. First up is the fabulous New York Comic Con, held October 11-14. And the following weekend, I’m looking forward to attending the cozy Bellingham, WA convention on October 20th. Traveling coast to coast to talk to the country about Trekker! I hope to see many of you at one of these fine events.
Posted 8 months, 1 week ago at 8:09 am. Add a comment
The pages currently posting over at the Trekkercomic website were done in a now-defunct media called Duo-shade. Duo-shade was a method for generating gray tones in the pre-digital age when standard comics cold not print actual gray areas. You had to create gray values only with line patterns and textures. In earlier Trekker stories, I used zip-a-tone to achieve those gray patterns. Zip-a-tone was laborious and time-consuming work, when applied with the approach I was taking. So, this time around, I played with duo-shade.
In this method, I drew on boards that came with two pre-printed line patterns, one a lighter pattern and one darker. These patterns were in a light, unreproducible blue ink that was activated when you painted a clear chemical developer over them. One developer would activate the lighter line pattern, turning it into reproducible black lines, and a second developer wold activate the darker pattern. The process required careful panning out before hand, but resulted in a much more efficient way to get the gray tones on the art. Looking at the results, it looks something like gray wash effects, the way I used it here.
A down-side to duo-shade is that over time, the activated line patterns discolor and fade. You may notice some patchy areas in the gray tones of this story. Which means that the fading process has begun with these pages.
Duo-shade and zip-a-tone were both widely used methods in comics and cartooning for decades. But with advances in printing processes, and especially with the coming of digital technologies, these “old school” techniques are easily and efficiently simulated.
Enough of the shop-talk! All of these methods are just ways to try to evoke a world for the story to live within, and for the reader to enjoy discovering. Coming up, I’ll look a bit more at what I’ve been trying to achieve on that level.
Posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago at 7:36 am. Add a comment
One of the galvanizing moments of my evolution as a comics fan and aspiring artist myself was when my eyes crossed this cover on the comic spinner rack back in 1972. I’d been aware of Joe’s work on Sgt. Rock, of course– it was inescapable to like comics back then and NOT be affected by the genius of that work. But seeing Joe’s fierce, primitive, elegant, graceful, poetic, savage take on the iconic Tarzan character– and adapting those first novels in an expansive multi-issue comic book format– was a whole new revelation. Without being fully aware of it at the time, when I cracked open those issues, I was beginning a master course in storytelling, in draughtsmanship, in the exhilarating magic of bringing a world fully, convincingly, dangerously to life.
That master course continued every time I poured over a new Kubert comic. It reached a high pitch when I was blessed by attending the newly-formed Kubert School in the late 1970′s. And it hit it’s highest mark when I benefited immeasurably from Joe’s one-on-one mentorship after graduation, as he helped myself and a few other lucky Kubies take our first shakey steps into the ranks of professional cartoonists. Joe’s generosity and passion in sharing his craft, and his inspiring, unwavering faith in his fledglings have made a huge difference in my life, and in the lives of a legion of other cartoonists.
With Joe’s passing this past weekend, many eloquent writings and tributes are being shared by those of us whose lives have been profoundly enriched and inspired by this great-hearted genius of a man and artist. I would echo virtually all of those comments, and only add that of the men I have met, Joe is perhaps the one that it is hardest to imagine the world going on without.
Joe was elemental and essential, in his life and in his art. He had his priorities straight in both as well. In his art, he kept STORY first– never showing off with a fancy drawing that didn’t serve the needs of the tale he was telling. To the last works Joe produced, he was dedicated to sharing the magic and power of story. In his life, he served his family, his community and his career with all the passion and commitment that his powerful frame could contain. I never once saw that waver. And if he once accepted you with that big-bear handshake of his, you were pretty much as good as family.
My thoughts are with Joe’s family and loved ones, and because of the way he lived his life, that is casting a pretty wide net.
Posted 9 months, 1 week ago at 8:35 am. Add a comment
It’s been pointed out to me that since the debut of Trekker, many female action sci-fi characters have been popping up in the culture. It got me thinking, and then sketching. Here are a couple of “Trekker cousins”, Miranda from Mass Effect and Samus from Metroid– I believe I can see a certain resemblance.
Posted 10 months, 1 week ago at 11:48 am. Add a comment
Having enjoyed myself so much with the watercolors for the CBLDF Supergirl sketch, I kept things flowing with this TREKKER sketch, done for a very dedicated fan and supporter of Trekker.
Posted 10 months, 3 weeks ago at 9:59 am. Add a comment
Each year at the San Diego Comic Con, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund holds an art auction. This year I have pitched in with a watercolor sketch of the “classic” Supergirl. It was a blast to break out the paint brush after a long, long time, and more importantly, it feels great to be helping out with the CBLDF’s fine work.
Posted 11 months ago at 5:19 pm. Add a comment
On the trekkercomic website, I have made the dramatic and anticipated shift to full-color on a series that has largely been in black and white to this point. I’ve been able to make this shift by finding colorist Jeremy Colwell, who brings just the right touch and approach to match the vision I’ve had for what Trekker should look like in color. You can check out our results beginning with this story, “The Sins of the Fathers” which is posting now on the website.
This shift to color is also being made in preparation for the other major development in the return of Trekker, and that is the plan to return her stories to the printed page. Talks are proceeding and details being worked out. I’m extremely excited about it all, but will have to save further news until things are settled. Stay tuned!
Posted 1 year ago at 10:03 am. Add a comment
Photo by Sarah Griffrow http://www.sarahgiffrow.com/
Just back and fairly-well recovered from the Emerald City Comic-con, 2012 edition
. I can’t say enough about how well-staged this show has been each and every year I have attended it. And this year was particularly exciting for me, as I was using the opportunity to talk about the return of Trekker
to my drawing board after a too-long absence. It was a pleasure to meet and talk with so many interested fans and friends. On top of that, I was sharing the convention experience with my good friends and fellow-artists from Periscope Studio
, some of the best people I know, as well as being amazingly talented. All-in-all, a top flight weekend.
Close on the heels of Emerald City comes Portland’s own Stumptown Comic Fest, April 28-29. I’ve been asked to appear on a couple of panels there and am looking forward to that. Stumptown is a unique and fun experience, full of very dedicated fans and students of the medium. I’ll have more details as the date gets closer!
Posted 1 year, 1 month ago at 9:46 am. Add a comment
With the Emerald City Comic Con coming up next weekend, I am getting in the convention season mood. Which works out nicely, since things are just being put in to place for the first annual Rose City Comic-Con, coming this fall right in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. I jumped at the chance to feature a new drawing of Trekker (from the brand-new tale that I am just finishing up at the moment) in this flyer to help promote the event. Portland is boiling over with talented comic creators, both independent and mainstream. And we are all excited to help with the launching of a new, major convention right in our own collective back yard! So, for those who can’t make it to Seattle next weekend, find your way to Portland this September. I will be signing, sketching and showing off shamelessly at BOTH shows.
Posted 1 year, 1 month ago at 9:28 pm. Add a comment