Saturday, November 27, 2010

recording diary - two

the xmas demos by traveling light

8 tracks; 25min34secs; 192kbps mp3; 35.1mb

surely my mother is wondering why i would take the "Christ" out of Christmas by calling this "the xmas demos." i have discovered that centuries ago xtians replaced "Christ" with the letter "x" for many different reasons. if you care, you should research some of those reasons. i'm sure that if you know me you would know that taking "Christ" out of anything is not my style therefore understanding that i would have several reasons to use "xmas" in this manner.

andrea bocelli, josh groban, even norwegian pop idol (and eventual world idol) kurt nilsen inspire feelings of joy and heartache with their matchless voices. after listening to my latest recordings you could say that my matchless voice inspires feelings of pain and headaches. but i didn't record these Christmas songs for you. i recorded them because i was asked to play my guitar (not sing) at a Christmas party in december. i've heard that there will be other singers there. whew. don't get me wrong…it's not that i think that i'm the world's worst singer. it's just that these particular songs should be sung beautifully and that just isn't in my repertoire.

so, you ask, if i didn't record these songs for you, for whom did i record them? you see, my friend that asked me to play my guitar at her party matched me up with a drummer, the incomparable antonie (see recording diary - a history for more info, antonie was jeremy's first drummer). since we all know that it is very difficult to sit in with other musicians without knowing what to expect, antonie and i got together this to go over some of the songs. antonie's playing has a wild jazz/funk sort of swing to it and he suggested that we get a bass player to join us. i agreed and he called boB (yes, the boB that i wrote about before). boB suggested that we record the songs so he could hear them and here we go. now you know that these recordings are for boB and antonie, not you.

of course, if you are really that curious, go ahead. download and listen. have a ball. cringe, even. the recordings are demos in the strictest form of the word. just my guitar and my voice. no overdubs, no effects, no autotune (although that would really help in this case!), no lasting value.

eight songs. twenty five minutes.

01 - angels we have heard on high

02 - the first noel

03 - what child is this?

04 - it came upon a midnight clear

05 - joy to the world

06 - o holy night

07 - hark! the herald angels sing

08 - christmas at the zoo (flaming lips cover)

if you want to hear demos done well, check out my friend jeremy's 52-week project here. he's much better at this than i.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

picture pages - ten

while i'm not a big fan of labels, using buzz-words to get an idea or description across comes in very handy when talking about art and ideas. if i told you that, as a cartoonist, i was looking to create "narraglyphic picto-assemblages" no one except high-minded, know-it-all hipsters would understand what i was talking about. the term simply means "comics." it's important to use terms that are easily identifiable. that's why labels come in handy. especially when describing music. if i mention that a certain band is punk or grunge or hip hop you get a pretty good idea of what to expect. so when i want to tell a story about a band but the comics medium is silent i have to use a label to describe what you would be hearing if the page had sound.

in this comic, the latest installment of caribou's adventures playing bass, a local entertainment writer describes caribou's band, julia's seizure, as "post-rock." the write up goes on to describe some key elements of the genre (instrumental, dynamic shifts, kind of moody) and mentions a key player in the genre (mogwai). as a cartoonist i chose to use a mention in a local entertainment paper to establish the band and the sound. now i can get into who these three men are and how they are going to save the world from certain doom.

about this drawing: i have been really intimidated by this page. i love music. i love the performance of music and i wanted to get the images right. my problem is the level of realism i want to put into my comics. i am not really interested in drawing photorealistic characters but i do want to draw accurate gear for my musicians. i found some photos of the incredible explosions in the sky (another band of "post-rock" instrumentalists) and aped some of the poses and instruments. i drew the last panel first and waited a week while i sketched out images of the effects pedals and guitars.

while the physical artwork took about a week to get exactly the way i wanted it, the photoshop stuff took just as long. i've stated previously here at geek style that i'm not very adept with the computer tools of illustrating. i use a wacom pad that i simply adore and a really old version of photoshop to go with my really old computer. the more i use these tools, the more practical they become to me and this page specifically has taught me considerably about what i am looking to accomplish with photoshop. i'm using photoshop to add texture and depth to my artwork through shades of gray and gray-er (if i can say that ::wink::). susen asked me why i'm just not "coloring" them with a full pallet. it's partly because i'm pretty down about my own sense of color and partly because i love reading black and white comics but mainly because i only have a monochromatic laser printer at home and don't want to pay for color ink.

the photoshop'd image came out much better than i had hoped and i really feel that i've learned quite a bit about how to get where i want to go through the process of this page.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

picture pages - nine

s.d. smith sent me another chapter of the fledge chronicles to provide an illustration. this chapter is called the soft, gooey insides of affection. when i saw that title and read the text i knew that i was in for a stretch. sure, s.d.'s work lends itself to some obvious graphic work (that's a good thing from the cartoonist's perspective!) but this story is different. just the title alone ups the ante but the tone is this chapter is tense.

fledge's protagonist is ben gray. he is in love. the girl he is over the moon for is sarah watson. miss watson knows what's up with ben but isn't really rushing into anything, she's smarter than that. ben isn't being strung along but certainly is more emotionally invested in this relationship than the lady. because of this situation, s.d. smith is able to write truly hilarious, odd-ball tales concerning this relationship that seems destined for the annals of romantic history but must first scale, inch by inch, the rocky cliff that is love. while the payoff is huge, the build-up is tense.

so my illustration must convey that tension. my artwork needs to show ben's obvious love for sarah and sarah's desire to simply enjoy the moment while keeping her head on straight. going in i knew i would struggle with this one.

about this drawing: i decided that i would illustrate the title of this chapter, the soft, gooey insides of affection in a sort of esoteric way. when you glance at the picture you see a smashed pumpkin. but i want to your eyes to linger and get an idea of where this relationship is between these two. sarah watson is looking gleefully at a shattered pumpkin while ben gray's expression comes from knowing that he made sarah happy. the two are enjoying the same experience but are experiencing it from two very different places.

i began with the smashed pumpkin. that was the easy part. i found a photo of a smashed pumpkin (google images is a treasure trove!) and sketched it out with a non-reproducible blue pencil then inked it with micron art pens of varying thickness. my wife and s.d. himself gave me some great perspective on making the pumpkin look best. then i scanned it in and started work on the faces.

the faces took hours to complete. i have page after page of floating heads from where i was just trying to get it right. i took what i thought were the best two heads and scanned them in to place them with the pumpkin. after working with the drawings in photoshop i went back to my sketchbook to make more faces. i settled on another pair and scanned those in and proceeded to spent several hours tweaking those faces in photoshop. i repositioned eyebrows, i tilted smiles, i reconstructed jawlines...i even gave ben a nose job. eventually i was pleased with the outcome. looking back at my work progress is hysterical because the end product is nowhere near where i started. more importantly i did all the refining on photoshop with my wacom pad which is a huge step for me.

after i sent the final artwork to s.d. for approval i spent another hour or so free-handing the title in photoshop with my wacom pad. i've never drawn letters in photoshop. while they look pretty rough, now i know that i can do it.

in all i spent the better part of two days on this illustration, fourteen hours of draw time and more than a few good lessons learned.

this illustration is due to be published in west virginia south magazine in another several months.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

picture pages - eight

about this drawing: this is a one page comic called the door. it features a character named the traveller and yes, i "realise" that it is commonly spelled "traveler" here in the us but i purposely spelled it with the double "L" to add a little depth to the character. where is he from? where is he going? what brought him down this hallway? why is there a key just laying on the floor in front of the door? who left it there and what is behind that door? as the last panel states, this is "to be continued." maybe next time we'll get to see what is on the other side of the door. maybe not.

this page was completed over a fourteen hour period with lots of stops and starts. i drew it with a non-reproducible blue pencil and inked it with black micron art pens. while penciling the page i used a straight edge for all the sharp lines but free-handed all the inks, hence the wobbly lines. i'm deciding if that is a style i will want to stick with or if i'm going to start inking with a ruler as well.

i hope you enjoy...

Monday, May 31, 2010

picture pages - seven

about this drawing: this is a one-page comic featuring a character named caribou (after the pixies song, of course). it is call "bass practice," showing caribou playing bass in his bedroom. i created this page more or less to practice some of the techniques that i've been learning over the last several weeks. i drew these panels on my large (14x17 inch) sketchbook in non-repro blue between the hours of 11pm and 2am. i used micron art pens to ink over the blue pencils and a faber-castell pitt brush pen for the guitar cable that appears in almost every frame. when the inking was complete i scanned the large artwork in three segments and combined them in photoshop. presented here is the scan with no touchups, resized for more enjoyable viewing.

nothing was playing while i created this piece but the bass lines from nirvana's "come as you are" and "lithium" bounced around in my head almost the entire time.

there is a lot more where this came from so please enjoy and check back periodically for more.

if you are interested, continue reading for the essay associated with this post...

i must say, the month of may has been very strange for me. i've drawn more pictures in the last month but it has all existed outside of the digital realm. i've filled up almost two sketch books and developed a lot more of the po-po character and her friends. i've been working more on illustrations for a children's story and experimenting quite a bit with pencils and inks. i'm almost exclusively drawing with a non-reproducible blue pencil so that i don't have to erase any pencil marks after i've inked the artwork. as i ink my artwork i have been using brush pens with varying degrees of success. in addition to the po-po coloring book and po-po comic strip, i've got two other works of graphic storytelling in the very embryonic stages. i'm focusing on finishing the children's story and po-po projects before i even work on concept artwork for the two new stories but ideas come and i keep writing them down.

i'm reading quite a few different comic books and studying the artwork and ways a story is told with words and pictures. i'm reading expositions from will eisner, scott mccloud and others in order to gain a better understanding of the storytelling process. in all, i'm throwing myself into the art of cartooning in hopes that i would someday be able to tell a good story that others might enjoy reading. all this while looking for a "straight" job. fun.

while all this art is coming out of me i have been very resistant of using the pc. it has become very clear to me that i am woefully uneducated with the various tools available to me on the computer. rather than agonize over these tools, i have turned to the traditional means of creating art. while profitable for my growth as a cartoonist it is limiting the means that i have to share my art with others. i think that once i get more comfortable telling a good story with pictures i'll add the software applications to my repertoire.

scott mccloud's most recent work making comics has really challenged me to focus on the storytelling of comics. his book includes bundles of "optional exercises" that are giving me ways to practice the principles of his theories. before i started reading the book i went through a bunch of old sketchbooks of mine and it struck me how disjointed all my work has been over the years. recently, i've been developing characters for a po-po the super cat comic strip and mccloud's book has given me some direction that i had been missing.

otherwise, i've been reading works from kazu kibuishi, tezuka, daniel clowes and many others. these three in particular have been exciting to read simply because of the craft in their work. it's easy to make a comic book. it's not that easy to tell a good story using the comics medium. i really hope that this (mostly) wordless piece presented today is a step in the right direction for me as a cartoonist.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

odosketch - two

title: po-po YUM!
to view this sketch in full screen mode visit odosketch

Saturday, May 1, 2010

odosketch - one

title: wish you were here