December 6, 2005
Why are folks afraid to say "Merry Christmas"? Because
some people hate God and Jesus, that's why:
The Usual Suspect: the News
Corporation. Yep, the folks destroying Family Values with
"Trading Spouses" and "Who
Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire" and the FCC penalized
by America" (the one with the the topless escort
and the whipped cream). Now they're going after Christmas.
Write to Bill O'Reilly let
him know that you'll boycott News Corporation channels until
they accept Christmas! They don't have to believe in God.
This is a free country, after all. But why celebrate Christmas
and pretend you're not?
They're also selling "holiday" ornaments
to hang on your "holiday" tree. How gutless can
December 5, 2005
I have huge respect for all of you out there learning the
new skills to become an artist. Learning anything new is scary,
involves repeated dead ends and mistakes, and a dawning realization
that you're ignorant: it sucks.
I've been taking some time off to do 'maintenance' work:
cleaning my studio and home, hanging out with friends, learning
Adobe Illustrator, and designing the 2005 holiday card and
a new business identity.
Designing the business identity is comparatively easy. I
am woefully distant from the world of graphic design. I'm
sketching stuff that's obvious and without subtlety or humor.
But it's not scary. I've been through this before in art school,
and it's just a matter of getting my legs back again. It is
a bit disheartening looking at design books, and looking at
all the clever work. But I'll get something good done.
I don't know Adobe Illustrator, which is more of a design
program than an drawing tool. My art school began introducing
computers after I'd finished my introductory graphics classes,
afer I'd focused on illustration. So I have almost no experience.
Learning Illustrator is scary. The kind of scary that makes
me want to lay down in bed hiding under a blanket, growling.
I don't have anyone I can bring to my computerside to demonstrate
what I'm doing wrong. I do have a pile of library books, but
it's still sucks. Illustrator sucks. Bezier curves suck. Learning
how to add a corner point sucks.
My learning style involves learning half a fact, running
with it in my head, and hitting a wall. So while learning
how to draw a heart shape with curves, I would start playing
around and trying tricks after each step. Which is another
important element of my learning style: learning that I'm
Hopefully I'll make a little more progress this evening.
I just succeeded at drawing my first heart in which I understood
each step and didn't look at the book. I let out a savage
So a nod of respect to all of you out there, bravely going
where a million others have gone before, and who are far ahead
of you. May you earn many savage whoops this holiday season!
November 30, 2005
This monday I finished a period of hard work and late
nights working on the Young
Avengers. All praise the colorist, Art
Working with a guy I know and trust and can kvetch at let's
me do some new tricks in these two panels. In panel 1, I only
drew one pair of windows. The rest are cloned in Photoshop,
using the new Vanishing Point filter. In panel 2, we used
the Transform Warp tool to simulate a fish-eyed lens effect.
I've always enjoyed using "wrap around" perspective,
but it's a bitch doing the math on it. This stuff makes my
life a bit easier. And Art's life a little harder, but that's
why I pay him. No, that's why Marvel pays him. I couldn't
afford to pay for talent like that.
Anyhoo, now that my little Young Avengers Special work is
done, I'm taking some down time. I've cleaned my studio and
did about eight loads of laundry. Cooked some nice dinners
for my lovely wife (comic artist being a synonym for "house
husband"). Today I got to jog! It's been about a month
since I did anything more strenuous than yoga with Lisa, so
it was a nice release. Weather sucked, but I still got in
eight laps around a city block.
Oddly enough, I'm not gaining my winter weight this year.
I usually gain a few pounds, what with dark cold gloomy weather
and piles of turkey and Halloween candy and such. And I'm
not exercising much, as I mentioned. Most of the credit goes
to my repeated New Year's resolution: no french fries!
Unless they're home made. Or sweet potatoes. Or hand cut.
It just means I haven't had fast food fries for a few years,
except for New Year's celebrations. Losing weight is fine,
but the lack of exercise means my blood pressure is still
pre-hypertension. Sigh. I'm gonna have to cut diet
In addition to the cola ban, I resolve not to go head to
head with Alex Ross next year. I have no problem admitting
that there are better realistic artists than me in this industry.
We have an embarassment of talent: Adam Hughes, Frank Cho,
James Jean, Bill Sienkiewicz [add about 25 more names]. But
it's painful annoying to have a Chicagoland neighbor who's
more talented and faster. He can do a painted page in about
two days, start to finish. If he'd been working on Forty-Niners,
it would have come out in 2002. And that's because Alan Moore
was slowing him down.
Twice this year I ended up doing variations on themes Alex
has already done superbly. The first one was the Fantastic
Four Wedding cover:
Now don't get me wrong, I'm mighty proud of
my cover. But I still prefer the little masterpiece Alex did
when he was 24, about 2/3 my current age. It's a real stunner.
Here's the other one:
Fresh Salsa! Chicks luvz the smell of salsa!
Both times, the editors had a chance to go for non-Ross
territory. They chose the well trod path, and I followed orders.
Next time, I'm gonna refuse. In 2006, I'm gonna dog the heels
of Brian Bolland.
Ed and Anette are a damn fine looking
November 9, 2005
My Conscience is a Conservative
Got a nice note from cool inl-law Scott in IN:
See didn't that fill good. To return the favor. Hoosiers
own Evan Bayh is a well respected and honest man. Not an rep
but a good man. That is saying somthing from me since I am
your midwestern rep who is a born again chistan and dido head
Rush fan. I share your thoughts on McCain he is what I call
a moderate = what ever the newest poll says I agree with kinda
guy. wishy washy perfect. Hope to see you soon.
Yeah, you're right. It did feel good. I'm a big fan of both
Bayh (D) and Lugar(R). They're from a generation of Hoosier
giants. I honestly believe either one would have made a better
president than anyone in the office since...I'll have to think
about that one. At least since the Kennedy-Ike era.
I will keep sniping at politicians who annoy me, no change
there. But I'll try to be nice once in a while. Problem is,
when's the last time the press paid attention to someone like
Lugar? It's hard to remember he's around because he jus keeps
doing good work and saying smart stuff. Those folks never
make the news.
I'm at work on the Young Avengers pages. No previews yet.
November 6. 2005
Went to my brother Donn's last night for a birthday party.
Congratulations, Matt, for getting older. It shows. Joke.
Quite a nice party. It was a potluck on the theme of Southern
cuisine. Donn made his famous fried chicken and catfish. I
brought ribs from the only decent rib joint in Chicagoland,
Honey 1 BBQ. Chicago is infamous for its ribs, which are boiled
first, then grilled for a bit. It's stewed meat with sweet
spicy ketchup. I actually like beef stew quite a bit, but
it's not what most of America calls barbecue. Honey 1 is the
only place in the Great Lakes region I know that makes proper
ribs. It's a lot like what Scott Dunbier showed me in Kansas
City. Dry, smokey and intense.
Beyond the fabulous dead animal parts, also some great greens
and cornbread and pecan pie. I'm sure none of it would have
impressed the matriarchs of the South, but it was tasty and
fun! Also, a really good lettuce salad with caramelized nuts
and marinated red onion.
Sorry, no new images I can show yet. It might be a bit.
Got an email from two of my favorite in-laws, Sallie and
Scott (no, not my editor). I got to hang out with their toddler
Isaiah and the grand-parents (Lisa's sister and hubby). But
I missed seeing them. Anyhoo, Scott had a request for my blog
"P.S easy on the gop bashing I am one of them. Try
WLS 890 good info. Superman Returns what are your thoughts?"
Starting with the last thing first, Scott's a much better
superhero cinephile than me. I like what I've seen of Smallville,
so if the movie makers follow it's lead they won't go wrong.
Scott likes Superman because he's a big square jawed dark
haired Midwesterner with rock solid values. If Scott lived
closer, I'd probably use him for Supes reference. I'm just
guessing it wasn't Sallie asking about the Superman movie.
On the radio front, I'm not much for political pundit shows
of any stripe.
GOP bashing. Okay, in the name of American unity I decided
a few days ago to say something nice about some national Republican
I decided he or she still has to be alive. So Teddy Roosevelt
and Lincoln don't count.
Obviously, the crew in the White House and the leaders of
both chambers of Congress are out. You've seen my opinions
John McCain came to mind, and I respect some of the things
he does. But I actually find him wishy-washy, a real John
Kerry figure. Things like saying in Decmber that he had no
confidence that Rumsfeld could win in Iraq, and now saying
to work with him? Or his statement that if
his daughter got pregnant, "The final decision would
be made by Meghan with our advice and counsel." But later
saying that if other women get pregnant, it should be
illegal to get an abortion. Or his quick makeup with the Bush
team after they accused his adopted Bengali daughter of
being his African-American
love child. He stands up for his kids initially, then
backs down when the party heads give him heat. Flipper, Flipper,
Flipper, faster than lightning... I do really respect his
to torture and his work on campaign finance. Hopefully,
is just the beginning.
Too bad Jesse Ventura
wasn't a Republican, that would have been an easy answer.
The Governator isn't the actor or the governor that Jesse
I hope this isn't too provincial, but the Republicans I like
are both from Illinois. One is our last Republican US Senator,
and the other is the scourge of corrupt politicians in power,
of any party. They're both named Fitzgerald. The IL loves
its Irish. (They are not related to each other, BTW).
Retired Senator Peter Fitzgerald was widely popular and respected
in the state, a man of rock solid integrity. That's how he
lost the support of the state party. He didn't bring
home the pork (one of the few folks in DC who actively
fought for a balanced budget). He also took on corruption
in his own state, getting out-of-state federal prosecutors
to investigate problems. This led to the downfall of the Republican
governor of IL, George Ryan. Because the state GOP threatened
to actively oppose his re-election, he didn't run for a second
term. They finally ran Alan Keyes for his seat, who lost by
27% to 70% against Barack Obama.
One of the folks he got appointed was current U.S.
Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Patrick
His lack of local loyalties has made him a terror to Hizzonah,
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Fitz began the investigation
that took down the GOP Governor, so Democrat Daley must not
sleep very well.
Patrick is still busy locally, but I hear he's trying to
up Washington DC too. I wish him the best of luck in both
jobs. It'd be nice if he retired with two more corrupt administrations
thrown into jail.
So those are some of the Republicans I love. Oh, and Scott
and Sallie too! They're good people.
October 28, 2005
Got some nice covers done, and I haven't shown any of them
to my blog readers. I figure it's about time I gave ya something
to look at other than my political rants. After all, no one's
ever offered to pay me for my opinions on patriotism...
These are links to preliminary images of my covers for "X-Men:
The End" Arc III issues 3 through 5. I'm still trying
to figure out how you can do a third series called "The
End". Someone could save me a lot of dough buying X-comics
by explaining Arcs I and II to me. Or if it's really great,
let me know and I'll buy the collections.
Anyhow, I'm pretty happy with how these covers came out.
There are minor quibbles. I wish I could have gotten a more
action oriented cover done for issue 3, but the folks at Marvel
just hated my designs for those. I don't know why we clashed.
But they originally wanted a close up of Gambit and his opponent
going mano a mano, but with Gambit throwing cards too. I guess
I could never put my heart into someone using a long range
explosive weapon up close, so it never looked natural in the
I wished I could have put more mood and texture into the
Bishop picture. I think I did a decent job, but it doesn't
feel as atmospheric as I'd like.
In the Phoenix picture, I have two minor anatomical problems.
Madelyne's hands are slightly different sizes. And the lighting
on Cassandra's hips is just a little off (specifically, on
her belly pooch). But even so, that's the cover I'm happiest
with. For those interested in technique, I did the Phoenix
effect in black india ink wash, then tweaked it in Photoshop
with Ctrl-U and Ctrl-B and a few other tricks until it looked
like glowing flames.
I hope the story inside is worth your cash when you buy it.
I should also mention that the original art is for sale in
my STORE. I'm still hoping to save money
for a real house, with a yard for my creaky old Beagle Bassets,
Georgia and Nibbles.
October 25, 2005
Here's the Hutchison perjury story all wrapped up neat, by
Tuesday, October 25, 2005; Page A19
"I certainly hope that if there is going to be an
indictment . . . that it is an indictment on a crime and not
some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the
crime and so they go to something just to show that their
two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer
dollars. So they go to something that trips someone up because
they said something in the first grand jury and then maybe
they found new information or they forgot something and they
tried to correct that in a second grand jury.
"I think we should be very careful here, especially
as we are dealing with something very public and people's
lives in the public arena."
-- Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) discussing
the Fitzgerald leak investigation on NBC's "Meet the
Press," Oct. 23, 2005.
"I do think . . . that something needs to be said
that is a clear message that our rule of law is intact and
the standards for perjury and obstruction of justice are not
gray. And I think it is most important that we make that statement
and that it be on the record for history.
"I very much worry that with the evidence that we
have seen that grand juries across America are going to start
asking questions about what is obstruction of justice, what
is perjury. And I don't want there to be any lessening of
the standard. Because our system of criminal justice depends
on people telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing
but the truth."
-- Hutchison discussing President Bill Clinton's
impeachment at a news conference, Feb. 5, 1999.
October 24, 2005 In Defense of Perjury
Okay, I'm confused and I have a vote. So I'd like a Republican
to explain this one to me before I'm forced to use it against
Senator from Texas Kay Bailey Hutchison no longer thinks
under oath should be prosecuted. Sorry?
On the investigation of the White House leak of an undercover
CIA agent's identity, she
said, "that if there is going to be an indictment
that says something happened, that it is an indictment on
a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't
indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show
that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time
and taxpayer dollars"
Wow. If Texans can't trust her to take lying under oath seriously,
when can they expect her to tell the truth? Thankfully, she
voted against the use of torture, so I guess the voters
aren't supposed to use the rack to get some straight talk
It's funny. When Bill Clinton was lying under oath, she used
to be against perjury. She released a long
winded statement explaining why perjury was one of them
"high crimes and misdemeanors" when she voted to
That Kay Bailey Hutchison promised
not to excuse perjury: "I will not compromise this
simple but high moral principle in order to avoid serious
consequences to a successor President who may choose to ignore
it." Bush has done a pretty good job of ignoring
perjury and treason so far. Any chance you'll force some
of those consequences on him, Senator?
October 17, 2005
Returning to a previous theme of mine, the GOP and their Spin
Machine continue to defend Treason. Here's nice summary with
which I heartily agree:
"If a senior White House staffer had intentionally
outed an American spy during World War II, he'd have been
....Then why is the White House and the Republican party
engaged in a concerted campaign to make treason acceptable
during a time of war? That's exactly what they're doing. On
numerous news shows today, Republican surrogates, their talking
points ready, issued variations of the following concerning
White House chief of staff Karl Rove's outing of a covert
CIA agent as part of a political vendetta:
* It's the criminalization of politics
* Is this 'minor' leak really worth all this?
* Political payback is common and should not be criminalized
* Mis-speaking or mis-remembering is not a crime
Yes, the Republicans are now making light of an intentional
effort to expose an undercover CIA agent, working on weapons
of mass destruction in the Middle East, no less, while we
are at war in the Middle East on that very issue.
The GOP has become the party of treason."
Let's put this in simple terms that even a Regressive can
understand. It's legal to have a difference of opinion with
the President. It's illegal, after accepting a government
security clearance, to reveal state secrets. The GOP takes
the opposite view.
New subject, Katrina recovery. Expect Bush to talk
the talk, sleep the walk. It goes against every principle
he holds to help poor people in need. So Federal money to
continue paying for essential local government employees is
that must be paid back within three years. Despite being responsible
for $62 billion dollars for the Katrina rebuilding, the Bush
no overall plan and no one in charge of the effort. Of
the proposals Bush mentioned in speeches, he only introduced
legislation for one of the three.
I suppose I shouldn't only complain and rant about politics.
I should state what I believe. I'll try to keep it brief.
If you want something longer, I'll refer you to real thinkers
later. I'll just mention, some of this will sound like the
Contract with America. I briefly supported the GOP when they
came out with the Contract. So I am an embittered ex-Republican.
Ethics rules for politicians need to be strengthened. No
one seems to give a damn about the "appearance of impropriety"
anymore. The Democrats are as corrupt as ever, and the Republicans
have gotten worse. I think the Democrats could sweep the GOP
in the next election if they ran on a theme of "Honesty".
Honesty supported by new draconian ethics rules. Honest policies
(which allow you to attack your opponent as an unctuous liar).
Honest talk (everyone knows Democrats suck at political spin,
so make a virtue of it).
Without politicians kept from openly marketing their law
making, everything else becomes immensely harder.
Strong oversight of government. The press. Boards of inquiry.
The FEC. An independent judiciary. Pointy headed academics.
I believe every government program and agency needs regular
review. Are they working? Back on Katrina, the GOP should
be ashamed they blocked the formation of a traditional bipartisan
commission about what went wrong.
Balance the budget. Unless there's a temporary crisis, we
shouldn't run a deficit. And unless Bush announces clear victory
conditions and a pullout plan, Iraq is not temporary. I am
flummoxed that the GOP has become the pork barrel party. Wha'
I believe that Government can be a force for Good. Sometimes
it should be laissez faire, but things like Social Security
and FEMA are wonderful things. We do need to run them properly,
with strong oversight. Let's not gut successful programs.
I believe in a strong military, focused on effective doctrine
and training. This requires a big change in how the Pentagon
buys new weapons. For informed opinion, go here.
I believe in the separation of Church and State. The reason
that the US has high church attendance rates and Europe has
almost none is because we have a marketplace of religion.
There is no official religion, yet. Once you put a church
on the payroll (as Bush is attempting) you give the government
"power of the purse strings". People will become
more and more cynical as they see that church get corrupted.
I could blather on for hours, but I must get back to work.
I also believe that good comic books can change lives. Better
walk that walk!
October 11, 2005
Got back from the Fall
Con sunday, spent monday recovering.
First off, who hasn't seen Serenity
yet? Obviously someone hasn't. It should be the top movie
in the country and it's not.
It's the movie sequel to the brilliant series Firefly. The
basic concept is a Western in space. Both the Star Wars and
Star Trek franchises began with this mix, but abandoned it
and lost their kinetic quality. Star Wars went from scruffy
frontier adventurers and degenerated into hack Merchant Ivory.
They tried to bring back the dangerous frontier to Star Trek
with ST: Enterprise, but couldn't help but make a set that
was glossier. That ship preceded the 1960s version?
Firefly and Serenity understand the value of the raw. It's
a world where everyone can kick the ass of the heroes. That's
part of what makes them heroes.
My brother Donn,
who didn't care for the TV show, loved it. And he's smarter
than me. My friend Wendy, who had no idea what it was, loved
Go see the movie. If you like it, buy the DVD set. You won't
be sorry. If you want my advice, get the DVD set first, watch
it this week, and run out and see the movie next weekend.
Did I mention the writing? Joss Whedon knows how to write
New subject. Forty-Niners gets a glowing review on the Gay
Comics List out of France!
I feel very cool and edgy now, kinda like Rowan Rozanski...
That's Ro with her purse sized vodka and lipstick
at the ready. Watch out for her: she's trouble! One of the
joys of the Fall Con was catching up with old friends, like
Ro and the rest of the crew from the Colorado signing. In
the smaller pic there's Christian
Beranek, me, Ro,
and the lemur obsessed Ken
Lillie-Paetz. Ken out-pokered us and took all of our cash
and Taki Soma back
Occasionally, someone writes me asking for a
sketch. Basic policy as of now is this: I only do sketches
at shows. Get on the list at the beginning of each day before
the it fills up. Pay $60 or, if you're brave or stupid or
both, accept an embarassing challenge:
Three folks accepted dares at the Fall Con.
This brave fellow let me paint him silver and surfed the con
on a towel, while I announced the arrival of the herald of
Galactus. You've been warned.
Finally, some pictures of people I like.
Zander, Kevin and the mysterious brooding Shad of Big
Me schmoozing with a childhood idol who has
never fallen from my pantheon, Terry Austin.
October 6, 2005
7:25 am. I usually never post this early in the morning, but
this is just about my only chance to write. Tomorrow I'll
be flying off to the Minnesota FallCon and then I'll have
a whole 'nother trip to write about.
Here's a cover I got done last week. It's for the second
printing of "House of M" #4. From here on out, I'll
be posting images of my new work in the NEWS section. You'll
notice that the ART button has been
replaced on the banner with STORE.
After having stashed this pic away for a while, I like it
better. I was iffy about it before. Still what's up with the
HoM purple and gray color scheme for Hawkeye? It's a small
complaint: I'm surprised by how nice the interior drawing
and coloring is on the HoM project. I'll be doing a short
series of covers for Marvel, and then a 5 page sequence of
Young Avengers. After that, back to my old pals at Wildstorm
for a bit.
Damn. Got distracted by 14 hours of chores and errands. It's
11 pm now. Laundry's done, dinner cooked, kitchen cleaned,
and I finally mailed the sketches to Wong and Castro.
Another shout out to Bruce Benman! He just wrote back, good
to know you're alive, man!
Guess I'll have to write about the Vancouver trip later.
I've still got to get ready for the Fall
Con. Damn. Never enough time.
Still September 29, just 22 hours later...
I'd been hoping to write about another leg of my trip tonight,
but I've got a cover I need to finish for tomorrow. So I'll
just pass along some news from friends. More on my travels
Big Time Attic,
the next step in comics studio evolution, has moved out of
the attic! I used to live in Minneapolis and work with the
BTA guys (before they organized into BTA). Zander did my layouts,
Shad gave me advice on everything computer related and loaned
me cool comics to read, and Kevin dropped by occasionally
from Grinnell. After I left, they formed a business and moved
into the attic of Shad's new house.
If you've read the Forty-Niners, you'll recognize Shad as
the Hercules character, Mrs. Shad as the Skywitch, and Zander
as Captain Omega and Jetlad.
They're having great success, but you won't find all of their
output in a comic shop. Check out their website, ask some
questions, lotsa exciting stuff going on. But they've had
to move to a real office above a coffe shop.
Anna (who'll I'll
stop referring to as "Mrs. Shad" forevermore) got
a job offer from the law firm of Kick and Ass!
Art Lyon is signing
up to do coloring for Marvel! I find this insanely exciting.
Hopefully he'll still find time to do my books, but he's got
two rugrats to feed and needs regular work. If you're
a comics guy who needs coloring, look him up.
Back to work. Let me know how
all of you are doing!
September 29, 2005
Whole lotta stuff happened, and I haven't been posting!
I took some trips and had huge amounts of fun, and then I
got back home and had to catch up on my work. I'm working
as fast as I can, and that's not leaving lots of time for
sleeping or writing or all that other good stuff. I still
have two sketchbooks from Vancouver I promised to do after
I got back, and they're still glaring at me. BTW, the piece
above is for an issue of X-men: The End. Click it to see the
The first big trip was the weekend of August 27th, to sign
at Mile High Comics.
I'd been to Colorado before, but I'd never had a chance to
hang out with Rowan
Rozanski and her clan. Mile High is a family owned business,
and it's a remarkable family. Rowan has grown up around comics,
worked her ass off for CBLDF. She has a sure hand handling
comics folks, and a knowing smile that lights up a room.
One of the real treats was meeting passionate young creators.
I'm 36, so my definition of 'young' goes up to 32. It's really
inspiring. It wa also cool seeing a giant warehouse full of
back issues, drinking a bit much, and almost winning a long
Texas Hold'em game. Shout out to the Jackalope
(sorry I didn't get that image to ya yet), Raven, the NYC
Mech crew, Arvid,
the whole Rozanski crew, and everyone else I'm forgetting
because of that drinking a bit thing. Like Ken,
who I'd like to thank for not running off to Las Vegas with
the cute girls instead of doing the signing.
A theme you may have noticed in my life is the loneliness
of the comic book artist. I sit in a small room, alone, for
a living. I miss the excitement of art school, when I always
had roommates and neighbors to bounce ideas off of. I miss
Bloomington, where I moved after college. That got lonely
sometimes, but it was a smallish town and my friends were
never that far away. So hanging out with all the young guns
in Colorado felt like being in college, and being young and
having an exciting world waiting for me. Anyhow, somewhere
online is a photo album of Woodchuckpalooza 2005, the name
of the signing and subsequent bacchanal, but I can't find
it right now. A photo album full of pictures I don't want
my mom to see....
I'll try to write about the next trips soon, but I've gotta
sleep soon. It's 2 am. Expect to hear about Michigan, an unusual
B-town trip, and a Canadian on the run from a very disgusting
Texan. Hopefully I'll have enough time to write, draw, and
still see Serenity.
September 26, 2005
Drizzly day here in Chicagoland, gray but pleasant.
It's been over a month since I last wrote. The problem with
writing my news update is that they're all about me. The more
stuff I have to write about, the less time I have to type
it up. It's been pretty close to 100% good, but I can't detail
it all right now. I'll try to get everyone up to date when
I catch up.
I did want to write about walking my dogs while it's still
fresh in my memory. I walked Lisa to our car (street parking)
along with our beagle-bassets, Georgia and Nibbles. After
Lisa drove off, I gave the girls a nice leisurely walk before
getting back to cover sketches for Aubrey at Marvel. And before
the light drizzle become a full on downpour.
The pups love the chance for social doggy time they get on
walks. So when they saw a woman walking a pretty boy dog across
the street, they whined until I crossed to meet them.
She was a woman with a cigarette and a pit bull. Our cultural
stereotypes might predict that they'd be mean. But she's an
Oak Park resident, and we love our dogs here. Pit bulls are
the sweetest, shyest dogs if you don't starve and beat them.
This one was especially sweet, crouching submissively and
wagging his tail to invite us over.
Georgia and Nibbles fully approved of Harry. He wasn't scary
or overly jumpy or anything. He politely sniffed their faces,
and he looked up at me adoringly as I scratched his head.
He pressed against me and I felt his soft warm urine sprinkle
against my shins as he raised a leg.
Fortunately I found a hose nearby. I guess that's my social
time for today. Back to drawing.
August 25, 2005 A Correction
A few words from my pal Lowell.
"I do have to correct you on your entry regarding my
knowledge of Video
Games, I actually am a video game savant, but only in regards
that require no reflexes: most rpgs and some turn based strategy
games. The other games I like but am terrible at. Sometimes
night I'll go downstairs and pull out a particular game, imagining
that I've somehow developed youthful, cat-like reflexes. I
We do a grand video-game party (8+ TVs!) on the Saturday after
Thanksgiving. This year will be the fourth annual year on
people over so I can demonstrate my incompetency. That is
where my wife grows most weary of goobers."
Which means he's better than me at most any video game. I
suck equally at reflex and strategy games!
There, that should protect me from a defamation lawsuit.
August 23, 2005
Let me start off with my geek life. Then we'll get
to all that personal stuff.
I'm going through stuff on the recommendation of my two old
South Bend geek pals, Dwight and Lowell. Dwight gave me a
copy of Spaced, a UK comedy series. Unfortunately,
it doesn't play on my DVD player, and Lisa doesn't like watching
TV on a computer. So I watched it alone. It's from the guy
who made Shaun of the Dead. The first episode is very
funny, but not as funny as his movie. I figure I'll watch
a few more episodes. I love Black Adder, but that didn't
get funny until the second series.
Lowell pointed me to the Velvet
Marauder blog. It's laugh out loud funny. Keep in mind,
Lowell's sense of humor is drier than Alan Moore's and my
sense of humor is just weird, but I think VM is the funniest
thing I've seen all summer. It's all text and in a daily blog
format. It's a remarkably fresh take on comic books. A bit
like reading the Steve Ditko Spider-Man reprints when
I was a kid. Or the early issues of Astro City or Marvels.
You can start at the beginning.
Or here's where I started,
on the April 28 posting, then jumping to May
2005 in the archives. Lowell and I both had the same reactions
upon reading VM. It would make a great comic book...no it
wouldn't. It's a story that uses the text medium brilliantly,
and it would lose its charm in a direct translation.
I enjoyed reading the blog enough that I decided to track
down the creator. At first I wondered if maybe Lowell was
the writer: Lowell does have an excellent knowledge of obscure
pop. But he doesn't know anything about tuner cars and never
played what I call "thumb candy" games (for you
kids out there, we used to press the single 'fire' button
with our thumbs two decades back). The Velvet Marauder is
not Lowell, but he's cool nonetheless.
While walking the dogs, I called my Dad. He's a great man,
but he's hard to get close to.
My dad's career as an anaesthesiologist was ended a few years
ago by a stroke. At the time, I knew he'd lost a good slice
of his retirement money to the stock bubble. I was worried
if he'd be able to pay for his retirement. I talked to Donn
and we figured out how much money we could offer Dad to pay
for medical costs. It was just a few thousand. We then decided
that if he had to live with one of us it would be me and Lisa.
Lisa wasn't happy about this, but she didn't hesitate in agreeing
with the decision. Donn would have taken Dad on if it made
sense, but it didn't.
Fortunately, my Dad is a frugal saver and had more than enough
insurance and savings to cover his bills. He lives independently
in Mishawaka, in a townhouse where he doesn't have to climb
ladders if the roof leaks.
At the time, I thought that a crisis like that would pull
the family together. I got Lisa and Donn to visit Dad in the
hospital monthly. I wanted my Dad to know we were there for
him and that we all loved him. Again, this was hard on Lisa.
We lived in Minnesota at the time and the drive down and back
could take sixteen hours on a weekend. But she went with me.
I was wrong about my Dad's stroke bringing us closer. Because
he'd seen Donn watching The Negotiator, he decided
Donn wanted to kill cops. My Dad still thinks I'm hopelessly
naive for not recognizing Donn's illegal drug addiction and
homicidal tendencies. Let me just say that I'm sure my Dad's
wrong on both of these counts. He eventually banned Lisa from
his home because of her rudeness. If you've ever met Lisa
you'll understand how odd that is.
So I called my Dad. I let him know I was doing well. He doesn't
care about my comics, so I let him know that it's being received
well at least. There's the signing in Colorado. And a South
Korean comics con wants to fly me out as the US representative.
It might not happen, but they're definitely interested. My
Dad began his call ending dialog.
So I asked how the other Koreans in South Bend are doing.
He perked up. He let me know that every Korean family there
has a kid who grew up to be an MD, and that this is typical
of Korean-Americans nationwide. If you're a KA in SB, let
me know if this is true. He said the Song kid became a neurosurgeon.
Does he mean Mike Song? Mike is whip smart, but he was a major
slacker when I knew him. I can see him as a top surgeon, but
a brain surgeon? I could be wrong.
Anyhow, I still harbor hopes that my Dad and I will be friends
someday. But I'm really just waiting until he gives me the
shove like Donn and Lisa. Don't take this as a major tragedy.
I've got a great relationship with my brother and my wife
and my Mom and my stepfamily. But I just can't stop caring
for my Dad.
I took the weekend off to go to Bloomington for my birthday
and GenCon. On the work front, still at work on a Wizard basic
training article. After that, I should be at work on a five
page section of a Young Avengers special. I specifically asked
for visuals similar to Top 10, so I can try out style tricks
for any future Top 10 projects. After that, I'll be doing
pretty much anything Scott Dunbier can come up with.
August 18, 2005
Well, that was a waste of a workday.
I installed Norton Internet Security last February, and for
the most part it's worked flawlessly. For instance, every
few hours computers from China try to hack into my PC and
introduce a Trojan. If not for NIS, I wouldn't know about
this. After Donn replaced my old PC, NIS worked well on there
too. When I installed the software on the new PC, Donn warned
me that it's impossible to remove it from your computer.
But for the last few days, NIS has warned me that my one
year subscription will be up in September. After some unhelpful
email exchanges with the Norton folks, they finally told me
to reinstall the program. So I tried to uninstall it.
Cutting to the chase, the problem seems to be a program called
Integrator that's been removed from the NIS suite. But it
didn't want to be removed from my computer. This caused problems
when I downloaded the software updates. I started working
on this last night and didn't finish until about 4:30 pm.
Hm, the Integrator is gone. I have this image of a software
Southern sheriff breaking out his Confederate battle flag.
On the plus side, the software has now decided that it doesn't
expire until August 19, 2006. I really don't understand how
they programmed this monster.
I started work on the un- re- install after I got back home
from a phone interview. I only have a cell, no ground line,
and the sound quality is not great. John Siuntres of WordBalloon.com
has been patiently trying to interview me for weeks, but the
latest setback was my crappy Nokia sound quality. So I went
across the street to Mitzi and Willy's to borrow their phone.
(Thanks guys!). John compared my plight to Eddie Albert having
to climb a telephone pole to take a phone call. The interview
should be online in a few days.
After I give the dogs their 3pm walk (it's 5:30 now) I'll
finally try to get some comics work in. At 10 Lisa gets home
and we'll hang out a bit. And this weekend I head down to
Bloomington to attend GenCon, which is actually geekier than
Wizard World. It should be a nice day if something else doesn't
randomly decide to break, cross your fingers...
August 10, 2005
The Chicago 'Wizard World' is over and lots of fun
was had. It is a big corporate con, not one of those friendly
volunteer cons (like the Fall Con or even San Diego) but it's
not all bad, and comics folks are always fun.
My big scheme was engineering a meeting between Adi
Granov (formerly of Chicago, now in Leeds, England) and
his comics idol Jim Lee. Everyone at DC loves Adi, but for
now it's just friendly banter: Adi is exclusive to Marvel
for another two years. So if anyone at Marvel is reading this,
remember to treat Adi right! DC is lurking at the doorstep...
I spent most of my time doing sketches for charity. (My wife
Lisa likes to point out that I should get my finances in order
before I worry about everyone else's. It's a reasonable point).
It's a fun way to meet the fans and to make the trip from
Texas or New York or Berwyn worth it. My current sketch policy
is a $60 donation to a comics
charity for a nice
sketch, or a headshot of yourself as a superhero for free.
Back when I had more young readers I used to make people
do dares for a sketch. There were some legendary ones, such
as singing the Spider-Man theme while being carried aloft,
pretending to swing from a rope. It was fun, but I began running
short of ideas. Also, my fans are getting older and have a
lot more dignity and cash than a teenager. So now I mostly
just ask for a donation receipt. If it helps buy
eye surgery for blind golden age artists, I can't feel
too bad about not humiliating fans in public.
If you ordered a signed cover with sketch from Dynamic
Forces, it will be a bit late. I had a communication snafu
and didn't realize I was supposed to put sketches on all of
them. They're resending them to me and I'll get the drawings
done. Ten of the sketches will be india ink drawings, the
rest marker. For the sake of justice don't blame Nick Barrucci
for them being late. It's me.
More lost friends being found! I get pretty excited about
this. I got to hang out with Dwight Morozowski at the Chicago
Con. When I got back I learned that my email correspondent
"edige23" is really Lowell Francis.
Other than family, there are three people who shaped me into
the geek I am today: Dwight Morozowski, Eugene Cho, and Lowell
Francis. I owe them a lot, and if you love my work then some
of your thanks should go to them (and probably some of my
dad's regrets about his son's career).
Dwight was my buddy in elementary and middle school who shared
my geeky interests. We loved superhero TV shows (which were
pretty bad in the 70s), comics, cartoons, scifi, fantasy,
and later a little D&D. Hanging out with him now, huddled
as refugees just outside the convention hall, I'm amazed how
quickly we fell back into our old rhythms. He has a connoiseur's
palate for the latest Hong Kong movies and superhero news.
He's always been a true geek taste maker. He slipped me a
copy of Spaced,
a UK sitcom from the creators of Shaun of the Dead. I know
I'll love it: Dwight's taste is impeccable.
Cho is currently a surgeon in Washington state. When my
dad waxes about other Korean kids, Eugene's the top of the
list. I haven't talked to him since high school, but I expect
some things haven't changed. Athletic, but he never let sports
get in the way of his true interests: classical music, science,
science fiction and being clever. Eugene loved scifi that
had brains behind it. When my dad attacked all science fiction
as a waste of time, Eugene was eloquent in defending it's
exploration of grand scientific concepts. He also loved satire
and a good joke, especially in scifi novels. Eugene always
made you think.
I should also note that he made me sit down and draw my first
'mini-comics', with completed drawings and a story and word
balloons. Then he would give me a critique. So Eugene was
also my first editor.
Lowell Francis, for all practical purposes, was my introduction
to the avant garde. He handed me my first British comic book
(a Judge Dredd annual, long before it was reprinted here)
and my first Alan Moore comics. But his world is much bigger
than comics. In a town obsessed with classic rock, Lowell
was the first person to introduce me to new experimental rock.
At the time not many people in South Bend were listening to
Laurie Anderson and the Dead Kennedys. You wouldn't have guessed
it from how conservatively he dressed, but he was the hippest
person I knew in South Bend. He also pushed my taste in movies
and created my lasting love of alternative cinema. No one
else pushed me to see Blood
Simple. I'm pretty sure that without Lowell's influence
in my life I would have become a cheesy hack. That's not necessarily
a bad thing: who doesn't love Roger Corman? But Lowell showed
me a new direction.
Another big influence was Lowell's neighborhood. I lived
in a country club subdivision, he lived a few blocks from
downtown. "Knollwood" was a wasteland of yards and
putting greens. I could bike around all day and just pass
by cars and driveways. Lowell's block had close set homes
with sidewalks, where people walked and chatted. They'd all
pull together for holiday carolling or group yard sales, and
to me this was as exotic and exciting as visiting an ancient
Roman harbor town. My most cherished Christmas memories are
in his neighborhood.
To this day, I need to live in a walking community. Lowell
is the reason I'll never settle down in LA.
Anyhoo, take care of yourself, write, and check in later.
July 28, 2005
I can't officially say what I'm hoping to do next
for an interior art project.
Yesterday, I shot some photo reference of two new friends,
Julie and Dale Rosenthal. Julie has a nice 60s Bond blonde
vibe, but she's thinner and more delicate than the classic
Bond girl. BTW, Peregrine is based on a classic Bond girl
look... Dale has the lantern jawed look I use for characters
like Captain America, Superman, and Smax. He's from Minnesota.
His type was reasonably common in the Great White North, but
it's unusual around here.
Good news on the lost friends front! Bruce Benman called
me today. Bruce was the one of my best pals when I went to
IUSB for my academic (non-art) classes. We're still pretty
close today. He'd disappeared for a while, and all of his
old email and phone contacts had gone dead. I was getting
a bit worried.
He's had troubles aplenty, but I'm pleased to learn he's
still in good health. He's got strong faith and an indomitable
work ethic. Anyhoo, just a little shout out to my pal Bruce.
If you're looking for an honest and diligent guy to work on
your South Bend homestead, look him up!
Big controversy in the comics industry: Wizard has scheduled
a Southern convention the same weekend as the NC Heroes
Con. The Heroes organizers had alerted Wizard to their
con date long before Wiz announced theirs, so Wizard is widely
seen as trying to sabotage
that weekend for Heroes Con.
In response, most comics pros are boycotting
the Wizard show. I love being in an industry full of angry
young coots. I'm considering going to Heroes, partly because
I love an underdog, partly because it's supposed to be one
of the best cons in the USA, and in part because I could make
a side trip and visit Dennis and Marna in SC. If you're going
to the Heroes Con, drop me a line
and let me know what you think of it.
July 24, 2005 (Happy Birthday, Matt!)
[Update] Shad and Anna have tried out the following
personality quiz and it made no sense whatsoever. So I can't
endorse it's medical use...[now back to our original programming]
You know those horrible computer personality quizzes that
tell you which Brady Buncher or A-Team member you are? I just
took one, but this one really is cool!
Instead of telling you which of six iconic characters you
are, the Book
Quiz tells you which of 64 books you are. I'm curious
if your results will seem as appropriate as mine:
by Joseph Heller
Incredibly witty and funny, you have a taste for irony in
all that you see. It seems that life has put you in perpetually
untenable situations, and your sense of humor is all that
gets you through them. These experiences have also made you
an ardent pacifist, though you present your message with tongue
sewn into cheek. You could coin a phrase that replaces the
word "paradox" for millions of people.
Seems about right, but I'm not a pacifist. I just think most
fights are started for stupid reasons. Anyhoo, try it out,
it's quick fun!
July 22, 2005
I've got a new computer.
My brother Donn
Ha bro) has been begging to replace my five year old PC for
years. What can I say? Except for the trickier Photoshop filters
the old one was more than powerful enough for my work. He
at least convinced me to replace the motherboard with a used
He couldn't make the new/old motherboard work. Then he claimed
that he couldn't get the old/old motherboard to work. See
the pattern here? So off he goes to Microcenter to get extra
parts. He came back with a refurbished HP PC.
It's twice as powerful as my old computer. It boots up twice
as fast, handles filters twice as fast, and DVD
Shrinks twice as fast. Donn asked if it made my computer
twice as fast. Not really: for most activities the computer
gets done before I figger out my next move. But it makes my
work better. I can now use filters and tricks that I would
never have experimented with before. So thanks Donn!
This story goes to show how hard it is to predict the behavior
of someone with a larger IQ. For all I know, I might be physiologically
superior to Donn's IQ, but it doesn't matter. I have several
behavioral traits that hamper my intelligence. I love bold
action and looking before I leap. I have a strong sense of
honor and loyalty, and I'm a bit indiscriminate with who I
latch my loyalty too. I'm a perfectionist when I bother caring
at all. Looking before you leap is a bad combination with
perfectionism: you think you know the ideal result before
you've studied the facts. All of this makes me a miserable
But these are also the traits that make me the comic book
artist I am today. I work a bit harder on projects than I
should and I hate to compromise the quality of the printed
work for any factor. My loyalty, in this case, goes to the
artwork. I love my editors and co-workers,
but there's no point in any of us working if we're just putting
out crap. I have nothing against people putting out crap on
their own, but I don't want to be involved. I'm loyal to my
fellow creators if they care about the artwork too.
Man, I'm rambling. Oh well.
I've been thinking about what makes great art. When is art
worth starving in the garret with a knife to your ear? When
I was younger, I thought it was skill. Great art should show
off the skill of its creator. I think that definition is assinine
now. Great art makes you think.
Alan Moore's stories are about how we comprehend the world:
philosophy and magic. He introduced me to the major concepts
of 20th century philosopy. Bill Sienkiewicz changed how I
thought about comic art, adding concepts from commercial illustration
and graphic design.
So does great art stop being great art the second time you
looked at it? After all, it's already shocked you once, how
can it shock you again? This is why great art should have
depth and complexity. I worked with Alan because every time
I re-read one of his stories I find new interpretations that
surprise me again. It's actually quite a headache fitting
in all the levels of meaning from his scripts, but it's certainly
worth it. Without a great story, I don't consider my drawings
alone 'great art'.
Signing off for now. I'll miss your superhero work, Alan,
and thanks again to Donn for the shiny new/refurb computer!
July 13, 2005 In Defense of Treason
Still working on side projects before jumping back onto full
time interior work. I'm doing a pinup for a Teen Titans Secret
Files, and a cover for the Fantastic Four. More details on
this as I progress. And still doing the Vs. cards on the side.
In Washington, the Republicans have again stood up for their
principles. In this case, the cause is Treason. The cynics
on the Left say that Republicans only use causes like Terri
Schiavo and public disclosure of undercover CIA agents to
rile up their base. They say that the GOP is all about PR,
not patriotism. I like to think they destroy our spy networks
out of the goodness of their hearts.
The scandal started with Robert Novak's 7/14/03
column. Bob talks about Joseph Wilson's mission to Africa,
which debunked the story that Niger sold Iraq uranium. When
in the NY Times that Bush should stop using the debunked
story, the White House decided to punish
him. Two 'senior administration officials' called at least
six reporters telling them that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame,
is a CIA agent. They claimed Wilson only got the unpaid mission
through nepotism (here's
Wilson debunking that White House line).
It's a crime punishable by up to $50,000 and/or 10 years
in prison for a anyone with access to classified information
to identify a covert agent. It does not have to be by name.
For those who doubt Plame was a CIA agent, keep in mind that
Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald wouldn't have spent two years
investigating the outing if she wasn't undercover and CIA.
At first, Republicans
were as indignant as the Liberal partisan hacks about the
burning of a US spy. Both Bush
and his spokesman
promised to fire any White House employee who leaked a CIA
agent's identity. But then Matt Cooper (another one of the
journalists contacted about the story) revealed
that the leaker was Karl Rove, the most powerful Republican
in the world.
RNC Chair Gillespie, who in 2003
called outing a CIA agent "abhorrent", "a crime"
and agreed it was worse than Watergate, now
says attacks on Rove are "blatant partisan political
attacks." I'm glad Gillespie stopped being such a political
Responding to Democratic attacks on Rove, Senator Norm Coleman
"We have enough to do in the Senate in minding our own
business than to be sticking our noses into someone else's
business." Treason is a cherished Republican
tradition. Why involve the federal government?
FOX's John Gibson says that Rove
deserves a medal for letting our foreign enemies know
the identity of a CIA agent. Now our enemies can execute Plame's
sources. Good job, Karl!
The Powerline Blog says Rove's
actions were OK if he didn't realize Plame's CIA job was
a secret. We can't expect our White House to ask if a CIA
agent is public before calling six reporters. Valerie officially
worked at Brewster Jennings & Associates in Boston, not
the CIA. So Rove also outed everyone else working for that
CIA front too. Does that earn him a Medal of Honor for each
CIA agent he burned? BTW, Rove's lawyer refuses
to say whether or not Karl knew she was covert. The lawyer
will say many other things in Rove's defense, but he won't
answer that one.
Podhoretz thinks Rove should get a black robe on the Supreme
Bush spokesman Scott
McClellan states, "...some of you asked a couple
of questions about does the President still have confidence
in particular individuals, specifically Karl Rove. I don't
want to get into commenting on things in the context of an
ongoing investigation. So let me step back and point out that
any individual who works here at the White House has the confidence
of the President." Good to see that treason is no cause
for discrimination. You're safe, Karl.
A few Republicans, like Bill Frist and John McCain, refuse
to either defend or attack Karl Rove. It's just political
opportunism. Follow your conscience. If not you, then who
will defend Treason?
Update: More Republicans come out in defense
of the right to Treason! Orrin Hatch: “In All Honesty,
The Facts Thus Far – And The E-Mail Involved –
Indicate To Me That There Is Not A Problem Here…”
From the official GOP website.
July 9, 2005
I just thought I'd throw in a neat little link.
Any Soldier is a website that hooks up soldiers with folks
who'd like to send all the civvy goods (non-perishable food,
suntan lotion, wet wipes, or toys to give to Iraqi kids) overseas.
The troops leave a message giving their military address and
supplies they need.
It's the toughest job I can think of, sitting here in my
air conditioning. Do
what you can.
I'm currently working on a set of cards for Top Deck. I actually
thought it would be a brain dead project, but they really
put out some beautiful stuff. Some of my personal heroes like
Tony Harris, Bill Siekiewicz, Dave Johnson and Kevin Nowlan
have done some amazing cards. And there are a few names I
don't know who are just amazing. Who the hell is Tomm Coker?
Anyhoo, I don't want to be the Sad Sack bringing down the
whole collection. Gotta work hard.
June 21, 2005
Just to let everyone know, the release date for The Forty-Niners
has been pushed back from July 13 to August 3. I'd actually
scheduled a signing for it July 16, so it's lucky that a sharp-eyed
clerk at Big Brain Comics in Minneapolis warned me of the
I'm experimenting with new art supplies. For years, my basic
inking tools were a bottle of Badger Air-Opaque, a Winsor-Newton
Series 7 Size 1, and a Staedtler-Mars refillable tech pen.
That's starting to change.
Faber Castell has come out with a disposable brush pen filled
with permanent india ink. It's really good. It doesn't have
the responsiveness of a top of the line sable brush, but it's
better than an average sable. It's called the Pitt Artist
Pen (it's really a marker) and Dick Blick schleps it for less
I've never been able to do brush work on the go before, but
now I can! I don't need to carry extra brushes, a water bowl,
paper towels, an ink bottle, and brush soap anymore. This
is a big change.
I have no real excuse for still using a refillable tech pen.
They're a lot of bother and it's hard to find replacement
parts. I had to special order nibs from a small print supply
shop in Minneapolis. None of my regular art supply shops carried
it. But now that Staedtler-Mars makes a disposable my resistance
has been worn down. The new tool actually works better than
my old ones.
Finally, a short list of what your Congress has accomplished
this year. The first major bill was highway funding pork.
They passed an Emergency
Supplemental to fund the military (who knew we'd still
have one 14 years after the Cold War?). We needed emergency
funding for a surprise fish hatchery in Montana and an unpredicted
need for wastewater treatment in ole Miss. I blame Al Qaeda
for overfishing Montana. THEN Congress passed a budget.
They passed the Parents
of Schiavo Act. That was important. Congress made it tougher
to declare bankruptcy unless you're a millionaire
hiding money overseas or bought a second home in Texas or
Florida. 'Cuz it would be socialist to prevent the rich
from pleading poverty. They passed some more budget bills
and messed around with reproductive
They failed to pass legislation pulling
us out of the World Trade Organization (huh?) and failed
to save Social Security by
taking money out of the system. They still hope to pull
all federal funding from PBS and NPR soon.
"Can you godless socialists
How did these incompetents take over Congress?
June 10, 2005 (a little after midnight)
Every once in a while, an editor needs some filler material
for a book. So he asks for sketches from my sketchbook. Then
I'm forced to confess that I don't have a sketchbook as such.
I don't usually draw in my spare time, and when I do I usually
give away the drawings immediately. I'm always amazed at the
quality and variety of things other artists draw while waiting
for buses or sitting in libraries.
Today was different for me. I'm waiting for reference from
one editor and a cover theme from another, so I had no paid
work to do. I cleaned my studio (some more), organized my
comic book collection, and then decided I would practice my
inks. Lots of repeated brush strokes, from Gary
Martin's inking book.
My favorite exercise is using an artist's
bridge. Mine is a ruler with two erasers taped under each
end, making a 'bridge' to set above your drawing paper. I
was taught to gently press your brush against this while you
drew a straight line on your paper. This lets you draw an
even width straight line with a brush. It takes a very steady
hand to do this, and I'd fallen badly out of practice. After
drawing about 20 of these lines, the Gary Martin exercises
were pretty easy.
I haven't had time to practice and play like this since I
started The 49ers. Quite a change after two years of solid
I decided to try my hand at one of the Steve Rude pencils
in the book. Here's the result. If you own that book, you
can compare my doodle against several professional inkers
who did the same page:
It's a purposely queer composition. Rude and Martin were
trying to give their colleagues a challenge. The cat woman
and the tree both look like they're growing from the girl's
body. I tried a few tricks to establish separate planes, but
it still drives me a bit crazy. The more I look at it, the
more I want to change it. I think I should spot more blacks
on the tree limbs, and make the shadow of the picnic basket
larger. Then I'll fill the basket with
yummy Garden Fresh Salsa. MMMM!!!
I'd be curious what those two would think of my interpretation.
I certainly need more practice, but hopefully I won't have
time. I'll be too busy working.
May 30, 20005. Memorial Day
Fresh Salsa! Heck, bathe in the stuff. It's that good!
Happy Memorial Day. This is the day we Americans set aside
to remember all the sacrifices made by our soldiers. Or that's
what we assume we did today after we recover from that case
of Milwaukee's Best.
There is no subliminal message here.
These aren't the droids you're looking for.
I went to Petco to get a new collar for Georgia. We bought
an understated burgundy leather number. I did not buy an American
flag chew toy for Georgia.
War is peace. Democracy is Oldthink.
Alberto Gonzales is watching you.
Am I missing something here? Now, I'm not one of those nuts
who thinks we need a Constitutional ammendment to prevent
artists from doodling on Old Glory, but I do love my flag.
So why would someone celebrate America by handing the flag
to Fido as a chew toy? Or even worse, star-spangled napkins
Next subject. Little thought about Scott Dunbier's job. He's
the man trying to make the crazies in the NY office towers
get along with the crazies scribbling and scratching in garrets.
He's been peripherally in the comics news now that Alan Moore
has finally seceded from Time Warner. Joel Silver and Alan
are about as extreme of crazies as one could try to reconcile,
and I'm not surprised that Scott couldn't do it. Could you?
Honestly though, Alan is my kind of crazy. It's nice knowing
there are folks out there who'll do anything to protect their
work. I just wish he'd hired a better lawyer 10 or 20 years
ago, instead of trying to fight for his rights now.
Last thing. I'm really excited about the work of Derek
Kirk Kim! I first saw his stuff a year ago when he was
a nominee for the Russ
Manning Award. I reorganized my comics shelves and found
his stuff again. Wow.
He's doing a lot of stuff I'm hoping to do. He's got an excellent
grounding in basic drawing, painting, and design. He can go
from abstracted cartoon to painterly realism in one piece.
He knows how to simplify without getting too cute.
And he writes engaging dialog and character. I'll be tracking
down more of his work. It's very cool.
I sometimes get asked what I read. Frankly, not enough. If
you'd like a good bibliography to work through, check out
the nominees for the Russ
Manning and Eisner
Awards. Most everything on the list is stunningly fresh. Just
like Garden Fresh Salsa! Resistance is useless!
May 25, 2005
Last night, Art
and I finished the last touches on The 49ers. Late, but still
ready to come out in June. Unlike Global Frequency, the blown
deadline is all my fault. Alan was done with the script about
a year ago.
A few shout outs, beyond my talented 49ers co-workers. Shad
Petosky gave me vital criticism on my Batman B&W and Iron
Fist stories. This feedback helped create the GF/49ers style.
He and his wife Anna were also 49ers models.
Thanks to all the models. Especially Zander, Nicole and Joe.
And when time was tight, Donn and Lisa. Zander was used for
two major characters.
I feel like I just finished my high school graduation ceremony.
I wanna run outside and look at all the stuff I was too cooped
up to see! I could always do that anyway, but now I don't
have to feel guilty!
And, this studio is a mess.
The last bit of business for me was a new cover. Here's the
old cover, which will be used as an inside cover:
Nice, but nothing exciting. Somewhere along the way, someone
rightly convinced Scott that the cover should be more exciting.
Together, we cooked this up:
Frankly inspired by the cover of the Axis and Allies boardgame.
Everyone seems much happier with this, including Scott and
me. I'll put a larger image of the new cover on the Art
May 16, 2005
Here's an excellent
interview with David Hackworth, Real Audio or Windows
Media. As I noted on May 11, this great American soldier has
I finished reading Generation
Kill, an great book about the Iraq occupation. Horrible
title, but a good book. The author joined First Recon Marines
yanked from their recon role and turned into the underarmed
vanguard of the Iraq invasion. Nearly all Marines are ready
to get shot at and fight, and a healthy dose of them are ready
to think and lead. Marines are scary, unbalanced and very
Unfortunately, the Marines need their bureaucracy. The book
confronts us with the twisted internal politics the enlisted
men face. The incompetent continue to climb the ranks. It's
a bit like watching BBC's The Office with grenade launchers.
At one point, the only thing stopping a captain from calling
in an artillery strike on his own men isn't the warnings of
those men, but that he can't remember the procedure to call
in the strike.
On a lighter note, here's an interview
with the creator of Gilmore Girls, the show Lisa and I
stop our work weeks for to watch together. After I type this,
it's back to work.
May 11, 2005
Got me a write
up in my hometown paper! The South
Bend Tribune published a section
on Free Comics Day, and I was one of the locally connected
comics folks profiled. Art
Lyon is also a Bender, so it's cool that he got his
In part, I'm excited because it might impress my Dad. Even
going on 36 years, you never let go of those youthful motivations.
It won't work, but one still tries.
Some less happy news: David
Hackworth died. He lied to enlist in the US Army at 15,
and soon went from Bucky to become a Captain America. He was
a highly decorated war hero in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
His later years turned him into a crusading journalist. He
fought incompetence and corruption in and around the Defense
Department. Our enlisted men are ready to fight foreign threats,
but few officers or politicians were ready to fight for the
lowly grunts. In his books and his weekly
column, 'Hack' fought that fight.
On another subject, whatever happened to Republicans? You
remember, the folks who wrote the Contract with America? I
was quite excited when that came out. Balanced budgets. Strong
oversight of the FBI. States' rights. No unfunded federal
mandates to local governments. It's funny how a whole political
party can disappear in 10 years.
The Unchecked Power Party is now pushing a National ID system.
That's a little scary. The brilliant part is that local governments
are responsible for executing the new law. So while you're
waiting an extra hour at the DMV with four pieces of official
documentation, don't blame your local government. Blame the
idiots who designed this paean to totalitarianism:
April 22, 2005
Just got back from a downtown lunch with some Chicago comics
luminaries. Tony Akins, lately of Fables, is up to something
mysterious. I love Fables and his work on it. Alex Ross was
there, carefully interrogating Adi Granov. Alex lives for
comics and art, so it was amazing to listen in. Adi lives
in Chicago for this time, but will soon join his wife in the
UK. Bit of a hard move, in that his US income won't go as
far in England. Bushonomics.
I find it interesting how we both came up with such similar
techniques in our art. There are differences, but more of
it comes from style and talent than process. He's worked in
3D gaming, so he understands form better than I do. I'm also
rather jealous how he avoids drawing backgrounds, but doesn't
leave the page looking incomplete. Must study his pages! Must
Thanks to the writing of Mr. Ellis, I'm up for another Eisner!
Really, it's the book that got nominated: Global Frequency
#12, best single issue. But this showers honor on everyone
who put the book together. First time Art
Lyon's been involved with the Eisners! Give him a slap
on the digital back if you have time! He's rather excited.
I'm pretty agog too. I don't win very often, so I'm in suspense
to see if we'll win this time.
We spent a bit of time trading Warren Ellis stories. It was
nice hanging out with comics folks. One of the big things
I miss about the Twin Cities was how close knit the comix
community was there. Peter Gross threw some wonderful parties,
and a night out with Shad
and Zander was always wild fun. Petosky and Cannon will
be doing the 24 Hour Comic thing Saturday, and you can hang
out too with their live Blogcast.
Anyhoo, back to drawing and watching the first season of
The Wire on DVD.
April 8, 2005
Eat Garden Fresh Salsa!
This is from a few years back, but I thought I'd show one
of the finest moments from my life in comics. Meeting Will
Eisner. The plaque was nice, but getting to meet Mr Eisner
was the cool part. I feel sorry for future Eisner winners:
they'll be just as talented as the previous generation but
they won't get to shake hands with Will.
Eat Garden Fresh Salsa!
(Getting to eat dinner with Julie Schwartz, hanging with Archie
Goodwin, and meeting Marty Nodell were all top of the pops
Eat Garden Fresh Salsa!
I work with a handful of multi-Eisner winners. Alan wins enough
to tile his kitchen. Alex Ross rarely picks them up anymore.
Todd Klein gets nominated for several of his projects every
year and usually wins. Being Ant-Man is cool, but those other
Avengers are damn intimidating!
Are you eating Garden Fresh Salsa yet?
They all appreciate the honor, but it's gotten to be a bit
much now. After one Eisner ceremony, I went up to congratulate
Todd. He was dismissive of his own talent. I think he's a
genius so I disagreed. Todd easily listed off the names he
considered brilliant. (Damn if I can't remember a single one
I sure hope subliminal advertising works...Eat
Garden Fresh Salsa!
Anyhoo, I's gots me an idea. After winning three or five times
in the same category, could a winner pull himself out of any
future nominations? Perhaps this might include a career award
and some kind of advisory role. You could throw out some names
for the nominating committee to pay special attention to.
I gotta stop this. It hurts my eyes.
From down here at the Ant-Man level, I'd like to see what
the Hulk thinks is an impressive superhero. Does this make
sense to you folks? If you think this is a good idea, I'll
see if I can get this ball rolling. If there's some reason
why it couldn't work, warn me off before I cause a train wreck.
March 29, 2005
"She has constitutional rights to live, and we are trying
to protect her constitutional right to live, and more important
than that, her constitutional right not to have somebody else
decide her future by pulling out a feeding tube and letting
her starve for two weeks." Representative Tom DeLay,
the House majority leader.
In 1988 and already in Congress, Tom DeLay joined with his
family in deciding to withdraw life support from his comatose
father. There was no living will. "Whenever Randy [his
son] walked into the room, his heart, his pulse rate, would
go up a little bit." Charles Delay was not completely
brain dead, unlike Terri Schiavo.
Charles DeLay ended up in a coma after riding a tram he himself
had put together. The tram ran out of control, leaving Charles
with the head injuries that left him comatose. After withdrawing
dialysis, Tom DeLay was a plaintiff in the wrongful death
lawsuit of his father. The DeLay family sued two parts manufacturers
of the tram. After about three years, the case was settled
out of court.
To prevent anyone else from filing such lawsuits, DeLay cosponsored
the 1996 Federal Products Liability bill. It was vetoed by
Bill Clinton. Read the original article in the LA
"I tell you, ladies and gentlemen, one thing God has
brought to us is Terri Schiavo to elevate the visibility of
what's going on in America. That Americans would be so barbaric
as to pull a feeding tube out of a person that is lucid and
starve them to death for two weeks." Rep. Tom Delay
in a speech to the Family Research Council.
March 29, 2005
Eat Garden Fresh
Salsa! Why, you may ask?
My friend Anette is the greatest graphic designer I know.
Every year, I try to come up with the most brilliant concept
for a Christmas card possible. Every year, Anette outdoes
me. She's done cards on beautiful hand made paper that looks
like something from a Communication Arts annual. She's made
individual gingerbread houses for all of her friends. One
year she made a translation wheel which was both striking
and useful if you needed to give holiday greetings in Slovenia.
She does this for fun. Which is another way of saying she
does it because she's bored. She works at a small Detroit
ad agency where the clients want ads that look just like the
competition's. I suspect this is why everyone in the commercial
arts tell me not to quit my day job.
Anyhoo, getting back to Garden Fresh. It's tasty, it's refrigerated
fresh, it wins awards nationwide. And they're the biggest
client for Anette's company. Anette is very cool. If those
aren't enough reasons for you slavering fanboys out there,
Anette is a tall shapely pretty Swede.
When Garden Fresh gets more sales, they'll buy more ads.
As more work gets thrown at Anette, she'll have less spare
time. Her Christmas cards will go downhill. And some year,
I'll make a better card than hers! Bwa ha ha ha! Now go buy
that salsa! It really is yummy.
I'm trying to re-think how I draw comics. If you've ever spent
time with me, you'll know this is a preoccupation of mine.
What's the best way for Gene Ha to draw comics?
Most folks in comic art would love to be in my situation.
I have loyal readers and an editor who's a world class comic
art connoisseur. It all allows me to be a perfectionist. Still,
I'd like to work faster (and, pray hard, work on a monthly
again someday!). And I'd like the process to drive me less
The 'working alone in a small room' thing is part of what
drives me crazy. But staring at a single page of paper for
a few days plays its part too.
What got me thinking this time was a party I went to. It
was a combined St. Patrick's/Purim party. Mmmmm, Guinness
and Hamantashen! Anyhow, I did some caricatures while I was
there. The host, a photographer, had some Prismacolor markers
and lots of cheap printer paper. I did two quick drawings
of guests as superheroes. Quick and fun.
I used to do something similar in art school. I would go
to bars and draw other patrons. After I finished, I would
show it to them. If they liked it, I would ask for a drink.
It was a great way for a starving artist to get drunk on the
weekend. If I got too drunk, I couldn't draw and was forced
to sober up. Wow, I hope me mom isn't reading this...
I'd love for my professional work to be that breezy and stylish
and fun (if not as besotted). So I'm Googling about, trying
to see how other people ink. Should I consider digital inking?
If so, should I buy Corel Painter instead of my copy of Photoshop?
I've long wondered if a Cintiq tablet would be worth the dough.
I've never actually used one so I can't be sure I'll like
it. Could I somehow use a bullet tip marker or a brush marker
on paper? What size paper should I use?
Let me know if you've played with
any of these things. I'd love to hear the voice of experience!
Before I abandon my old style, I'm adding a few more notes
to my technique FAQ.
March 20, 2005
Great stuff came my way! My brother Donn (the smart Ha boy)
and I headed off to Wisconsin for the Beaver Dam show. Very
small, but the comics fans there were really entertaining.
Got to sit next to Jeff Moy and talk about his life a bit.
He's hard at work on designing the look of the next X-men:
Legends videogame. Josh is just starting out, but he runs
a great show.
Came back to find an email from Todd Johnson. He and Hassan
started the Comics Cafe in Ferndale, MI. While they never
ended up serving coffee, the conversation did have a Viennese
kaffee feel. I can't think of another comic shop where the
customers talked and debated comics so passionately.
Hassan is THE guy who got me out of advertising and into
comics. As a short experiment, he tried selling comics out
of a second location in a Detroit vintage clothes shop. I
was shopping for a biker jacket when I found the scholarly
cat with the comics in back. He told me about the state of
the industry, who the hot talents (artistically and commercially)
were, and how to break into the industry. I knew nothing about
the 90's comics scene until Hassan and Todd brought me up
The Detroit branch didn't last long. But I became a regular
at the Ferndale Comics Cafe. They critiqued my samples. After
I got work, they would check my original pages before I sent
them out. They were the only folks outside of CCS who saw
them. Every week, they would recommend some new comics to
teach me about the medium.
The Cafe didn't last long. It wasn't from a lack of commitment
on their part. They put in long hours and their lifes' savings
keeping it going, but the market crash took them down along
with thousands of other retailers in the early 1990's.
"Hassan still works with me. We do promotions, graphics
and a wide range of
stuff. Have not dabbled in comics lately but have thought
about it. Late
congrats on the marriage. I'm married with two kids in Lathrup
Hassan is married with three. Hope your brother is doing well
probably sounds corny but we are always proud to see any of
great looking stuff. Keep cranking it out!"
"Until we cross paths again. Todd Johnson"
March 13, 2005
Just got back from hanging out with my dad. My dad is a retired
anaesthesiologist, and one well loved in South Bend. When
I'm there people often come up and recall my dad's bedside
manner. He's good at making deathly ill people laugh.
Growing up in South Bend, I thought most Korean immigrants
were doctors or math professors. Telling my parents that Dr
Kim called was pretty useless. We'd say, "Dr Kim, Henry's
dad, is on the phone!" I was awfully confused when I
found out the stereotypical Korean was a green grocer.
Over lunch, he started to enviously list off the accomplishments
of the other Korean kids I grew up with. Lotta doctors, just
like their dads. Then he looked off into the distance and
wished that one of his sons could have become a doctor or
I thought he'd made his peace with my comic book career,
but I am wrong yet again. I wish he were happier with my job,
but I don't have any doubts about my choices. Comics have
paid for my grub and my mortgage. I enjoy the crowd I work
with (I wish I could hang out with them more). I love the
folks who read my books. I really savor not having to fight
Chicago traffic every weekday morning.
The single best part is that when I feel inspired, I can
plant the idea and rough hew as it grows. And somehow, with
a creativity greater than mine, divinity shapes the ends.
March 9, 2005
Not much news today. First off, shout out to my anadromous
friend in Minnesota, Alosa
sapidissima! He doesn't actually have a website anymore,
so I'll just throw in one for a random
superhero by weekend, law student by day.
No, none of that was supposed to make sense.
Gotta get back to work soon. Cole, I've printed out the story
but I can't read it yet. I can say that I like your tast in
music, and musical quotes!
March 6, 2005
What can I say? I saw it on a blog and had to steal it.
Rest assured, at least you'll have the Jack
Chick readers coming along with you.
I first saw it on Shakespeare's
Sister. Then I traced it to the neo-conservative blog
me, you have no idea how much I hate Bush. I was a little
disappointed to learn that it had been synthesized on a very
clever website, Church
Sign Generator. You can write anything you'd like and
create an image. Great fun!
February 21, 2005
My brother Donn (the web designer) is lounging on my couch.
I'm over here at the computer, working on the website. I tried
to recreate the problem with image files I had earlier, but
I can't. Now that he's driven an hour across town. Poor Donn.
I owe him a nice lunch. But anyhoo, I hope you like the preview
of The 49ers cover up top!
I'm into the thickest most architectural part of the graphic
novel. More drawings of a neoclassical train station.
And now for the latest rant at Art! I'm just trying to see
how long it takes him to check on this news pages again. Art
is connubial with a Hoosier hemerocallis! And he seems completely
February 17, 2005
Time served. It's a weird concept. Some judge realizes
you didn't shoot at the cop (you're blind and were born without
hands) so he convicts you of resisting arrest to justify the
five months you spent in lock up.
Stay with me here. All this DNA testing stuff is freeing
hundreds of people convicted of murder, rape, and murdering
rapists. But you've already spent a decade or two in prison.
So what if we count this as time served for whatever you do
If you've got all that extra credit, use it to set up your
new life as a free man. Blow out the kneecaps of the prosecutor
who put you away. Rob a few banks and invest the proceeds
in an IRA. Or if you're not feeling antisocial, feel free
to jaywalk every day for the rest of your life.
Finally saw Sky Captain on DVD. A few very good qualities,
but now disabused of thinking Ms Paltrow can act. However,
I was blown away by the six minute short. It's a vivid lesson
about cutting out the excess in your storytelling.
February 16, 2005
You'll notice that there's no image at the top of this type
column. That's because I'm not competent with this web design
Somehow, when I design a page and stick an image at the top,
it doesn't show up in IExplorer or Firefox. So until my brother
(the polymath who designed this site) gives me a refresher
course on Dreamweaver, I'll have to leave out any more graphics.
Onto the news! I could mention how much I hate the policy
incompetents in the Bush administration, but that's not news.
No rant today: folks like Kevin
Drum do it so much smartier than can I.
I'm hard at work on The 49ers, the Top 10 prequel. Seventeen
pages to go. Half of the pages take place in giant neoclassical
great hall, the other half during a dark and stormy night.
I'm looking forward to the nearly background free outdoors
scenes! The indoors stuff.....
It looks like I really do have some friends who check out
this blog, so here are my first shout-outs! Kurt,
don't let your boss catch you reading this, and loved the
new sketch pages. Cole,
I really do enjoy your story ideas, so keep in touch. Ivan,
glad everything's copacetic again (copacetic is my favorite
fake word!). Art, sending Ellen seasons 1-6.5 SatC with the
next package, forgot. And, you're a peripatic scotophile and
a Marantaceaen solicitor. Visit his webpage, but beware: some
say he's a closet gynotikolobomassophile.
February 3, 2005
I'm using Dreamweaver to update these pages. Great
program, but I don't understand how it works sometimes. I
seem to have deleted all my earlier 2005 posts while trying
to repair a mistake. Gahhr.
Anyhoo, things are going fine here. Still hard at work on
The 49ers. The cover looks nice. Still got 15 pages left to
pencil and ink. Very exciting.
After that, I'll take a little break from storytelling. I'm
hoping to do some covers and posters and what have you. Do
some sketching, rethink my style. I want to experiment with
other people's styles again.
The last time I did this, I was very impressed with the heroic
proportions of Chris Sprouse's figures. I took a lot from
his style, but you wouldn't mistake our work for each other's.
(I realized months later that Jeff Smax looks like Tom Strong
I'd like to try sketching in the style of cartoony animation
and see what I come up with. Manga and anime of course. 1950s
Disney cartoons like 101 Dalmations, really nice design there.
And I'm a big fan of Brad Bird's work on The Iron Giant and
The Incredibles. I would love to find ways to speed up my
backgrounds without making them look like toy blocks.
And (he said mysteriously) I'd like to do some storyboards
for Stardust Telephone...
Lastly, if you're a personal friend of mine and you're reading
this, let me know. I'm curious
who keeps in touch this way!