Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sabbatical, Day Seventeen (Stretches of the Imagination)

I'm no speed demon at the drawing board by any stretch of the imagination. I'm very methodical and exacting, at times to a degree that even I find maddening, so my own personal challenge is always to simplify, simplify, simplify! But I don't just sweat the details, I LOVE the details. It's often the details that pull you into worlds that exist only in two dimensions on paper.

So there's my daily schizophrenic battle: to produce artwork that satisfies my own inscrutable desire for simplicity and detail. I finished page fifteen yesterday, but it took longer than I wanted. It typically does.

I'm no speed demon, so on a very real level I identify with artists like Brian Bolland, George Perez, and even Geoff Darrow, who pack every square inch of their pages with detail. But I strive to bring clarity to my work, like the direct clean storytelling of Mike Parobeck, Bruce Timm, and going back farther, Jack "King" Kirby.

However, amongst the groups of artists I just listed, there are worlds of difference in style: Darrow puts so much...stuff in his compositions that it's hard imagining him keeping anything close to a production schedule. There's just layer and layer of minutiae, to the degree of possible mania. Perez works in a more classic bigger-than-life super-hero style, which suits his subjects. But I always think of his advice when drawing shattering glass, to draw "ten times the glass there would be in real life." He's right...but that's how you get carpel tunnel syndrome. (Which I believe he had at one point.)

Then there's Bolland. I mentioned him before, and I do so again because his work is just so damn smart. He's a very British artist in terms of sensibility (and you'd just have to read his narratives to understand what that means), but his instinct for inclusion and discarding visual information on a comic-book page is sublime. If he ever makes a mis-step, I've yet to catch it. His linework and cross hatching is extremely fine, to the point of classical art, and yet precise. Not a single line gets wasted. He has layers in his panels as well, but there are numerous examples of him using negative space to acheive desired effects. The man knows his stuff.

I got off on this tangent because I worry about my production schedule. I'm a little behind where I want to be, but by appearances I'm doing okay. I've been away from my job for just over two weeks and have fifteen pages of issue one, and tons of character sketches to show for it...still. I'm a bit uneasy. Not much. Just a little.

*     *     *     *     *

Last night I went to Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art Club at the Gypsy Cafe, and did some live drawing. It was good that I went for several reasons, not the least of which is it always forces me to loosen up and draw quickly. Quick one, five and ten minute minute poses leave no time to let the hand rest. Sketchy is at least as much a night out to hang with friends and chill as anything else, but I appreciate the break it gives me from poring over my detailed-yet-simple artwork.

The camaraderie and support is also invaluable. Byron, Scott, Shawn, Dave, Rob, Nick and others were there, and they're all aware I'm off from work and toiling away in the studio. Their enthusiasm for what they've seen was neat, and maybe a tad amusing. Nick in particular seemed impressed with my speed...which is ironic considering how I always wish I could draw faster. How Kirby and his like pounded out what they did back in the day astonishes me. In their shoes, I'd have worked in the industry for, I dunno, an hour or two then gone home to cry.

A page a day. That's the goal. And I haven't even gone into my feelings on mystery and the artist. That will be my next blog topic.

More to come...!

PS: I kinda lied in my last blog...I did work on M.J.'s birthday, drawing character design sheets, taking reference photos (more on that little adventure to come!), and scanning completed artwork. Michael would have appreciated it -- when you love what you do, it's not entirely work.

Monday's Music: Pearl Jam, Phil Collins
Today's Music: ...To Be Determined!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sabbatical, Day Fifteen (Rock Forever On)

"Well, there's such a thing as talent. And, yeah, I would say that's true...For instance, with an artist, he can draw anything you look at -- he can draw it. And then you take [someone else], who can't even draw a stick person. So look at the difference."
- Michael Jackson

To paraphrase a line from a 1980s movie: I don't work on August 29th...'cause that's M.J.'s birthday!

Sunday's Music: King of Pop!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sabbatical, Day Fourteen (It CAN be Done)

I find myself thinking some pretty loopy thoughts at the drawing board, day after day.

As previously mentioned, there are moments when I'll swing from total self-confidence while rendering something to complete and total dissatisfaction with that self-same thing within milliseconds. There's not a lot of warning, although this reaction is more extreme when I'm not as overall happy with a page or panel of art. However, the method used to produce these pages, from inception to pencils, has kept such see-sawing neurosis to a minimum.

Still, I find myself entertaining a series of curious thoughts: Is my work commercial? Does it stack up against other, far more well-known work already out there? Do established talents have this same worry, even after decades-long careers? If so, what are my chances of getting established? Do I have the sensibility/talent of a modern comic-book creator? Is there even such a thing? Does it matter? Do I have the long-term stamina or focus to succeed?

I dunno.

Every now and again I'll read something that allays these fears. In this case, I thumbed through a trade paperback of THE SUPERMAN/MADMAN HULLABALOO last night, and was first taken aback by the fact this book came out well over ten years ago. Then I read one of the introductions, written by artist/writer Jon Bogdanove, formerly one of the creators on the SUPERMAN books.

Bogdanove mentioned how he'd visited his editor who wanted him to write the introduction for the collection, but the artist was completely unfamiliar with the work being collected. Then he went on to describe his work life as being essentially all-consuming save for a "few precious moments" spent with his family. His largest exposure to other comics beyond what he directly worked on was the weekly bundle of books his publisher comped him.

This was all probably a slight exaggeration, but these past two weeks shows me that there was likely a LOT of truth to what he said. It was reassuring to learn that Bogdanove was so blissfully unaware of something that was actually very popular at the time. Bogdanove was one of the main artists on the SUPERMAN property - about as high-profile a gig as a mainstream graphic-prose artist can get - and didn't know about HULLABALOO which also featured Superman until the editor gave him copies...which he ended up loving.

It should be noted that Mike Allred, writer and artist behind the mini-series-cum-trade-paperback, has a very distinct pop-culture infused po-mo style that somehow found its way into the mainstream. His stuff is damn quirky, yet his take on Superman was pitch-perfect, which Bogdanove and I also agreed upon. So this guy essentially was able to make his own personal style accessible to a mainstream audience.

It can be done. Remembering this, I take deeps breaths and make that my mantra long enough to get the pencil moving again.

I finished page fourteen this evening. I'm liking how the characters are starting to overlap from scene to scene. Hopefully it will establish that this is a WORLD of people who all interact. And I also want it to reflect the small-town nature of Pittsburgh. This is a city where you're really only one or two people removed from knowing anyone else. Live here long enough, you'll know someone in every neighborhood. You might even end up living in every neighborhood.

And that's what I want people to pick-up on in HERO CORP.. It's that same kind of cross-pollinated community. It's Pittsburgh.

I saw the funniest 'Burgh themed shirt today. It read: "PITTSBURGH - City of Champions...and the Pirates"

I took a break and went to New Amsterdam tavern with Wayne this afternoon, and participated in the official International Read Comics in Public Day. (I say "official" because I'm hosting one locally next weekend, which got mentioned on the I.R.C.i.P.D. website! More people will be able to attend it that day, because of the Baltimore Comic Con this weekend.) My comic of choice: MACEDONIA, illustrated by local son (and one of my former students), Ed Piskor.

Ed is really talented, in his own quirky, non-mainstream way, and he always has been. It's nice to see he never surrendered his style and perspective and has still been able to make a career in this crazy field. He doesn't draw people in capes and spandex; he draws people, and revels in the fine details of life. Cracks in sidewalks, bricks in buildings, potholders and clouds...Ed pays attention. It makes me at once proud and it inspires me.

Off to bed. Another day of deep breaths and holding the pencil tomorrow.

More to come...!

Yesterday's & Today's Music: Jackie Wilson, James Brown, The Jackson 5, The Forbidden 5, Chuck Berry, Bill Deasy

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sabbatical, Day Eleven (It's a Zoo Out There!)

After having worked every single day - and not just a few piddling hours here or there, mind you, but full days - since my sabbatical began, including weekends and not counting tons of pre-sabbatical hours spent working on scrolls of artwork and detailed thumbnails, I played hooky today. Kinda, sorta.

I went to the Pittsburgh Zoo. And it was a perfect way to recharge.

Not that I was in danger of actually burning out, at least not yet. But I KNOW that every comic-book artist - every visual artist - has experienced this: you stare at the page you're working on for so long it becomes hard to tell if it's actually good the way you want it to be. The same holds true for a project of any length.

Many times during the course of even the best days I have to stop for a few minutes, do something else, come back to the drawing board and rediscover what I'm working on. That's when the positives and negatives stand out the most. If you've reached a certain level of ability though, I find you look at the page and think, "Oh, that actually looks just fine!"

I'm still wickedly enthused over HERO CORP., to a degree that is sometimes hard to explain. (Although I don't even have to explain, since everyone within earshot hears me prattle on non-stop about this book.) Still, I needed to fill my mind with something completely different in order to come back to the work with extra focus.

This was a good day for it in every respect. I actually did put in several hours on my page this morning and later again this evening, which is a nearly full-page rendering of our fair Pittsburgh. Remember when I mentioned before how I'm not a things artist, I'm a people artist? I wasn't kidding. But I get into drawing whatever it is the story calls for, so switching from drawing an urban cityscape to walking through wildlife was a smart move (thanks Kristin)! The weather was perfect for allowing the mind and body to wander.

(*NOTE: When this book is finally done, and you get your copy - and you ARE going to get a copy, right? -  know that page thirteen has one of my favorite inside-my-head jokes of the entire story. It's something that I've mentioned in passing to several people, and every now and again people get it and start laughing. Like Kris did. She's a smart one, I tell you!)

At one point Kris and I watched a pair of monkeys as one held tightly to the other, sitting at the top of their area and off to the side, aware of people looking but not acknowledging anyone. The male cradled the female's head, gave her a brief kiss then went to find food elsewhere, as she laid down to rest. After eating for a moment, he gathered some food and went back to eat while sitting next to her, watching over his zoo-mate with obvious affection.

It was very sweet as the animals gave us a real lesson in human behavior. I rarely find myself drawing animals, and H.C. isn't likely to feature any soon, but the next time I go to the zoo, I'm taking my sketchbook. Whether you're drawing gorillas, zebras, polar bears or super-heroes, I've found it's almost always a zoo out there.

Take it from someone who went to the San Diego Comic Con and lived to tell the tale.

More to come...!

Today's Music: Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sabbatical, Day Ten (A Thing or Two About Solidity)

Prepare for some rambling conjecture. You've been warned.

I think most mainstream comic-book artists fall into one of two categories: graphic or naturalistic (what some might call "realistic"). There's a lot of fuzziness there, because so many comic-book artists - primarily pencilers and inkers - work together with their own varying styles, meaning there's all kinds of weird amalgamation that takes place. Regardless, the most graphic artist should possess a command of natural body dynamics and anatomy, and the most naturalistic artist should recognize the graphic nature, freedoms and limitations of what he or she does.

I mention this because throughout the day, I happened to browse some of the work of a couple of artists who made me reconsider elements of my own style. Dave Sim and Jerry Ordway.

I used to love Ordway's run on the SUPERMAN titles, first as artist, and later as writer/artist. My understanding is that he started his art career in illustration and graphic design and segued into comics. It shows. He has always had a solid understanding of anatomy and individual character that I felt worked extremely well in the SUPER-books back in the day. After that, he did work on the SHAZAM! characters that similarly gave the characters a grandeur they were previously missing.

His figurework is rock-solid. When he draws characters, they are tangible, believable people. Not necessarily photo-realistic like say Alex Ross' painted work (although Ordway was tapped for one of the KINGDOM COME follow-up comics, utilizing characters and designs created by Ross), but far more real than many comics artists. Ordway drew the adaptation of the first Tim Burton-directed BATMAN movie, and he was the perfect choice. He understands likenesses, and his characters are instantly distinguishable from one another.

And not to brag too much or nuthin'...but I looked at his work, and saw where his style had influenced mine. I owe a degree of my figures' solidity to Ordway.

Sim on the other hand is someone who I've always been aware of out there, but never really followed. I chanced to glance through the first volume of his celebrated run on CEREBUS today, and what I was most struck by was how primal his artwork was in its infancy. He admitted in the foreward of his at that point ten-year old stories, he had a lot to learn then, which showed. Still, I can appreciate someone who was burning to tell a story, even if he didn't quite know what the story was.

The thumbnail artwork for page 12!
Sim grew more confident with every element of his craft with each turning page, slower at first, but you can see him figuring things out. The only way a creator can learn what they're capable of in this field is to simply get ink beneath their fingernails and crank out pages, and that's what he did.

And that's what I'm trying to do.

I got today's page done. I love drawing The Pro. How can you not love drawing a character that allows you to kick the snot out of bad guys twice your size without blinking? His innate quirkiness (and by extension, the quirkiness of the entire cast) cracks me up, because I know what's coming. And I gotta tell you, when The Pro punches the bad guy on page twelve and sends him flying, he does it with such glee it becomes readily apparent...he ain't Superman. Superman doesn't gloat.

Yup. The Pro's right cross is damn solid. Good thing I learned a thing or two from Ordway about solidity.

More to come...!

Today's Music: Stevie Wonder

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sabbatical, Day Nine (Good, But Bizarre)

I awoke this morning to a punch in the face.

That was literally the first thing on the page I drew today: my character, The Pro, getting laid into by one of the big powerhouse bad guys of the story. Gotta say, even when I thumbnailed this one out, I really felt like I captured a good punch. It looks like he almost took my head off. Usually punches in comic books are so perfunctory that even the biggest fight scenes can make you go "'Eh." I rarely look at individual moments in super-people fights and feel like anything tangible happened.

Not this time. I was determined for this moment to register with the reader. And the best part is that less than a page later, I get to return the favor...with a moment that really makes the most of our fair city.

Also, I tend to sweat the fine details of a page to an almost obsessive degree. I drive myself nuts a thousand and three times every day with this, trying to make everything fit just-so. If there's a scene with a lot of bystanders, I have to draw them all out. Every person. If there's a scene with a lot of video monitors visible, chances are I'm drawing stuff on the screens. It gets ridiculous, and I have to remember some of my favorite artists (Alex Toth and Mike Parobeck spring to mind) were masters at keeping it all simple.

On the plus side, detail or not, I've never felt this comfortable approaching new pages. Something's going right here.

Now over a week into my time on this project, the surreal nature of my workspace has started to sink in. My days basically revolve around our studio now; it's my home base. I step out of it during the day, certainly, but it's where most of my waking hours are spent. And it's bizarre. Good, but bizarre.

I've made a point to mentally reserve the studio for drawing, and that alone. I can usually fall asleep anywhere, even on the floor - seriously, I do that all the time, especially during the summer - but now when I need a power nap I always go to my room. I'll bring light snacks or beverages in with me, but when it's lunch time I go downstairs. No exceptions. I want my brain on the task at hand in there.

This is not counting the numerous moments during the day when I spontaneously burst into song and/or dance along with my iTunes catalog. That's acceptable workplace behavior. I've been able to get away with it at my day jobs for years, so why stop now that I'm working from home, right? (Of course my day jobs have been mostly at night, and unsupervised...but why quibble? I'm a pretty non-forgiving boss, and I'm okay with it.)

Of course, it's all nothing a good punch in the face wouldn't cure.

More to Come...!

Today's Music: LL Cool J, Eric B. & Rakim, Will Smith, Coolio

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sabbatical, Day Eight (Double Digits!)

I completed pencils for page ten today, and light-boxed page eleven, so I've got a head start on tomorrow. Not bad. I'm now into double-digits!

There's something wonderfully Machiavellian about drawing a story that uses your close friends (and yourself) as main characters. The two illustrated today know each other, but I'm playing fast and loose with their real-world employment histories, as they never worked together. Still, it's easy enough to imagine how they would interact in a shared corporate environment...where half of their coworkers wear spandex and body armor.

After the high of yesterday's double-page spread came the task of capturing likenesses. I cheated a little, because I hadn't completed character design sheets for today's friends. (Technically, I never did an official one for myself either, but if I can't draw The Pro from memory, it's game over, man!) Instead I just used photo reference, and it worked out fine.

I originally drew my thumbnail versions of these pages at a size 1/16th of the actual artwork being produced now. They were then scanned, darkened up, and printed back out at 400% in order to be lightboxed in pencil. Details are then filled in, which is what takes most of the workday. However, I'm very, very pleased with how closely my tiny thumbnails have been holding up when duplicated so much larger. I'll have to post some images soon so you can see what I'm talking about.

Someone mentioned the possibility of a book release party for the debut issue of HERO CORP. -- anyone out there got any opinions? I'm game if you are.

More to come...!

Today's music choices: lots of mash-ups (Queen/Led Zeppelin, Jackson 5/Nirvana, The Archies/Velvet Underground, Michael Jackson/Steely Dan), Louis Prima, Lords of Acid, Los Lobos, and Frank Sinatra.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sabbatical, Days Six & Seven (That's How I Roll)

There are days when it all goes well, and there are days when it all goes REALLY well. This was one of the latter.

I officially completed my first ever two-page spread today...and I'm beyond happy with the results! So please forgive me for a few minutes, as I get into the minutia of creating this stuff.

The best artists recognize their particular strengths and weaknesses, and play-up the former while (hopefully) working to shore-up the latter. I've been told before that I have a knack for composition, which I think is indeed my strong suit. When drafting up a page, from my own scripts or someone else's, or often while just sizing up another artist's work, I often just KNOW how scenes should be framed and blocked out. It goes beyond being instinctive. It almost feels like I'm channeling the narratives. That's just how I roll.

In this instance, when I was roughing out the thumbnails, it just hit me what it had to look like. I got a strong vibe from the initial concept, and the closer I came to time to actually produce it, the more I was looking forward to it. I've never given myself that kind of room to fully spread out and get into the details of a page.

Today, the artwork just flowed. There's no other way to describe it. I had three figures on the pages, and I was able to give each a lot of attention. A lot of the choices I made worked out fine. At one point I wasn't completely happy with one antagonist's face; it seemed too large and the expression wasn't quite natural enough. It wasn't fitting with the rest of the image. So I grabbed my eraser, paused to wonder if I should leave well enough alone...then erased his face.

Then redrew it. That was the right choice. I could tell within a couple of minutes.

Even stuff I don't normally draw all that well seemed to appear on the paper like magic today. Cars. I hate drawing cars. They're not my thing. People, they're my thing. Cars -- yuck. But today, the cars were PERFECT. I couldn't have drawn them better with photo reference. (Only two, but very close in the panel) It got me to wondering what else is buried up in the swipe file of my unconscious, that I haven't been confident enough to just let loose.

There are days I love being a cartoonist. This was one of them. Oh! And I got caught up to where I'd originally wanted to be today. So nine pages in seven days...it's on track so far. A solid first week!

That's how I roll, yo'. More to come...!

This Weekend's music choices: Jimi Hendrix - Live, KISS Alive I & II, Outkast, WHERE'S NEIL GAIMAN WHEN YOU NEED HIM?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sabbatical, Days Four & Five (Bring On the Bad Guys!)

If I could somehow construct a comic book entirely out of medium-to-close-up shots of characters simply interacting, I'd have a blast. That's my favorite thing to do, get in there and work a person's expressions. Mind you, I like the power of a fight scene too, and tend to enjoy every aspect of narrative illustration once I get into it. But I get the biggest kick out of nailing a character's expression just so, or capturing a likeness in a way that makes you smile.

The last couple of pages had several of those types of shots. That was fun. There's an added element of enjoyment because so many of these characters are based on people I know. It's trippy watching them do things and being able to imagine it all so clearly. I was telling Wayne about an upcoming scene where I fly, and stopped to laugh because that's something I'd never be able to say if I were writing about any other character. It's not a scene where so-and-so flies, it's a scene where I FLY!

And it looks like me.

Still, in the one-upsmanship department, Derek got to kill someone in his very first panel. And it looks like him too!

Yesterday I got to formally introduce one of the visual jokes that came to me during the scroll stage, and we'll be seeing it again several issues down the line. There were also several incidental characters that suddenly got imbued with distinct personalities...and again, it all comes down to expression. I love this stuff. I want to do it all the time.

Today I got to finally introduce a couple of my made-up bad guys as well. They both started as little more than throwaway characters, then as I developed them during the thumbnail stage, they merited larger roles in the story. Drawing their design sheets, I kept thinking up backstory for them both: one used to be an arsonist, and the other a steroid using jock bodybuilder. Wayne looked at the sheet for the latter and declared that if he were introduced to him in real life, he'd think the jock was a douchebag.

So I guess I nailed his personality pretty good!

Time for bed. I'm basically on schedule (and managed to be up by 6:30AM today!), although I'd prefer to be working at a page-and-a-half a day, now that I know it can be done. Today I was hit with a bout of the sleepies around Noon, and ended up napping for two-and-a-half hours. To avoid that again, I wanna get a running start on the next couple of pages...because Sunday should be a big day!

More to come...!

Today's music choices: The WICKED Broadway Soundtrack

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sabbatical, Day Three (When I Came to It)

Today, page four beat me. Sort of.

I wasn't up by 6:30AM, but it was close. I got up around 7, and managed to be at the drawing board by 8. However today's page was particularly involved - possibly the most detailed page in the whole issue - and I had left entire panels blank on the thumbnail. At the time I just wasn't able to imagine what they should be, and thought, "Eh, I'll think of that when I come to it."

And today I came to it, and had to figure it out.

Which I did, but it's not quite done...almost though. I also found myself taking a number of breaks today, which I hadn't before. (At one point I even went out to take photos of my friend Lindsey at Allegheny Cemetery. It was a good momentary diversion.) This page was simply more of a challenge. If I were willing to stay up later, it could be completed, but I'd rather get up early tomorrow and stay on a regular schedule than stay up later tonight. I could see that snowballing fast into a bad scene.

Even with the late finish, I'm still doing okay, and I made the right call when producing the thumbnails. The ideas that I pushed out today were better than what I had considered before, and they help the story.

One interesting bit: while I was working on the page, which included a cast member named Doc Creation, the person who inspired the character called and we spent an hour on the phone. That's a weird feeling that's only liable to get weirder in the days ahead.

One day, I want to see action figures of the cast available out there in the world. Crazier things have happened.

More to come...!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sabbatical, Day Two (Chasing Bolland)

I was determined to finish last night's second page before packing it in, and it cost me a little bit this morning. I want to be up by 6:30AM and at the drawing table by 7:30AM every day, and wasn't there until 9AM. Not that big a deal, except the page I was working on was more complex than the two that preceded it, and it took longer to finish. Add to that the fact that for whatever reason, I was terribly distracted today, and found myself taking continuous breaks.

So I clocked-out at approx. 6:15PM...mere seconds before our power went out due to a blown transformer up the street. (Electrical, not CGI.)

It was also a weird day at the page, because it was the first time I worked on a narrative with these characters that are based so directly on my friends. Making them take shape, and having those little moments where they really, really looked and moved and just felt like their real-life counterparts , that's a blast.

In-between pencil strokes I got my spare computer wired for sound, so now I can enjoy iTunes while at the drawing board. Then once the power was eventually restored, I got Wayne to take a photo of me at the drawing board, as proof that yes, this isn't a hoax. I'm creating a comic-book here folks. Step right up and see the Devoted Fanboy and his Delusions of Grandeur in Graphite Black & White!

Day Two also saw the introduction of intermittent flashes of panic. Moments where I'd stop, look at my artwork, realize that I aim to work on a level of artists like Brian Bolland, who is one of my favorite artists ever...and then I'd feel my brain send out signals to every nerve ending, signaling contraction into a fetal position.

Then I'd push past it and keep drawing. And then I'd look at it again and realize this is the best stuff I've ever done. Seriously, RedGlare and BrightStar are adorable, and Deathglare...man, he's just wicked. He may be my break-out character. After years of thinking about it, I finally got to let him do his destroying thing. And he's one mean mo-fo.

If I can work at a speed of one and a half pages a day for a couple of weeks, I'll finish this book ahead of schedule. Let's see what happens tomorrow.

6:30AM. I can do it. I can.

Yep. More to come.

Today's music choices: Alicia Keys, Maxwell, Prince

Sabbatical, Day One (Heroism is My Business)

Haven't done this in a while -- this seems like a good place to get back to it.

Today was the first official day of my sabbatical from work, and I formally began work on my next comic book opus, M.L.Walker's HERO CORP. Anyone within earshot and beyond of me knows that I've been building up to this for months - even years - now, and due to a confluence of good fortunes it's managed to come together quite nicely.

In the past few weeks leading up to today, I've drafted the complete thumbnails for the entire first issue (of six total planned), and am now working up the actual pages of art. I also started the script based on said thumbnails, and character design sketches, to keep their looks consistent.

My sabbatical lasts from now until September 26th, and my goal is to return to work with the majority of the artwork complete on the first issue. I've budgeted time to allow for the penciling of a single page a day until all 24 pages are complete; then I'll switch to inking them all, at the same pace. That's a professional rate, which is ultimately what I want to do.

Around the edges I'll also be completing a formal script for the first issue, as well as character design sketches and illustrations of approximately 20 characters for HERO CORP. INTERNATIONAL DAY (which just happens to coincide with my birthday)! At that time I'll...have a surprise to share with you!

Yes, it's a lot of work. But there's a reason for it.

My life plan is to attain a position where all of my artistic endeavors are self-sustaining. It all starts anew here. Today.

And I'm off to a good start. I managed to pencil two pages today, as well as work on a couple pages of script, and some location layouts (of the Epicenter, a focal location in the series). On top of that, I did laundry at 6AM, ran out to grab lunch and stretch my legs, and shopped at Giant Eagle this evening.

It's been a full day. It's been a productive day. Let's hope and pray I can keep it up.

After all, heroism is my business.

Today's music choices: Lots of M.J. -- keep on with the force, DON'T STOP!