June 21st, 2013
June 14th, 2013
I’ve dropped copies of Future Shock #4 and Vortex #1-3 off at Farewell Books here in Austin, located in Domy’s old space.
If you’re going to CAKE this weekend in Chicago, Kevin Czap will also have a few copies of the new Future Shock.
I’ve been making good progress on Vortex. I’ve decided that #4 will be the final issue and I’ve pencilled all the way to the end. I’m over halfway done inking it also. My goal is to get the drawing done in June.
June 4th, 2013
I’ve now finished the two five-book cycles that Roger Zelazny set in his Amber cosmos, the Corwin cycle, which I wrote about here, and the Merlin cycle.
From reviews I saw on Amazon and Goodreads, I expected to not like the Merlin cycle as much as the Corwin cycle. Maybe it was because of these lowered expectations, but I enjoyed Merlin, maybe more so than Corwin. While Corwin is a charismatic rogue, Merlin is a fair-minded nerd. I wrote about how Corwin ground the first five books with his contemporary sensibility, but now that I’ve read the next five books, I’d amend that – Corwin is modern noir and Merlin is contemporary cyberpunk. As an example, at the beginning of the first book, Trumps of Doom, Merlin has just quit a computer startup in the Bay Area and is going off to check on the artificial intelligence he built in the hinterlands of Shadow.
In many ways, the Merlin cycle parallels the Corwin cycle structurally. We begin on Earth but are swiftly inducted into Amberite intrigue. We go through several rounds of mysterious betrayals and reversals until the true powers behind events are revealed. The plotting centers on family dynamics and, once again, a missing father. Although Zelazny adds layers of motivations, meanings, and metaphysics to his cosmos, the stakes feel lower this second go round. Both cycles end abruptly, but Prince of Chaos leaves many more threads undone than The Courts of Chaos. I see on Wikipedia that several short stories round out the saga – I’ll track those down.
One way in which the Merlin cycle vastly improves on the Corwin cycle is in the portrayal of and roles given to women. The one-dimensional lovers, sisters, and mostly absent mother are replaced with a crowd of vibrant, multi-faceted women. I don’t recall a moment that passes the Bechdel test but Merlin’s complicated (and importantly, changing) relationships with his mother, the mother of his best friend, his ex-girlfriend Julia, and the female demon following him give these novels so much of their depth and drive most of the plot.
The imagery in the Merlin cycle matches and sometimes exceeds the psychedelia of the Corwin cycle. Not content to simply rehash hellrides through Shadow and the silvery gleam of Tir-na Nog’th, Zelazny shows us the stark stage beneath the puppetry of Shadow and takes us to the pit of Chaos. In between we visit the inhospitable cave where Ghostwheel computes on his otherworldly circuitry and the Mad Hatter’s bar.
One of the visual highlights is the beginning of Chapter 7 of the last book, Prince of Chaos, when Merlin walks his step-father’s sculpture garden. It’s a dim room, lit from the ground up, that seems “of different size and contour depending upon where one stood.” The room was “constructed without any plane surfaces.” As you walk through it, the walls become the floor and the sculptures that are on the floor jut out of the walls or depend from the ceiling. I’d love to explore a space like this in a videogame.
In some ways, the strength of an author’s creation can be measured in how reluctant the readers are to leave. I’d like to experience more of Amber and Chaos, although I don’t envy those caught in their power struggles.
May 28th, 2013
I’ve been getting back to work on Vortex #4. I’m finally at the point where finishing the whole story feels like a possibility. I’ve been working on this since the beginning of June in 2011.
Sometimes I use the grid in Manga Studio to sketch out hyperstructures:
Here’s that same page, ready for me to add patterns in Photoshop:
May 21st, 2013
Here’s one of the three pages that I did in collaboration with Sean T Collins for this issue:
Now that #4 is out and #1 is almost out of print, I thought I’d share my comic “Hawk” that I drew for #1:
For “Hawk” I was experimenting with the pencil-style I used for the comic I drew in Frank Santoro’s correspondence comics course, “Moon Queen.” The story itself was, perhaps too obviously, inspired by M John Harrison’s horrific but beautifully written book Light, which I highly recommend.
May 14th, 2013
I’m still high on the afterglow of TCAF (and the creeping con crud). So many classic hangs with kewl people. Thanks to everyone who came by my table or shot the shit with me at the parties, great to meet all of y’all.
This past year was the first time I’ve tabled at out-of-state cons. Each was an amazing experience for different reasons, but the one common thread is how strong comics are. I mean, look at my TCAF haul, so many fantastic books and I couldn’t afford a third of what I wanted:
It was a bummer that Josh Burggraf couldn’t make it (here’s a poignant comic he made about why) but I was lucky enough to be seated next to the hilarious Mike Winters (check out these NSFW Time Professor comics) who was super friendly. It was his first time exhibiting at a con and I think he’s been spoiled for all others. Look at how stuffed the first floor was:
I only took an overview picture of the first floor of TCAF even though I was on the second but the crowd on our floor was equally crazy. On the last four hours of Saturday there was a huge line to get into our room, probably because of the super popular webcomics and YA folks in there with us.
Now I’m just going to give y’all a brief travelogue. I ate plenty of good food and drank good beer:
I got to hang out with the Hic and Hoc crew, Philly folks, people I know through Josh Burggraf like Victor Kerlow, some friends who used to live in Austin, and too many awesome others to list them all here. Even though I’ve been working with Pat Aulisio and Ian Harker for years, this was only my second time to hang with them IRL. I didn’t take any pictures of people, but fortunately Jen Vaughn captured this one at a hungover Monday morning super greasy breakfast joint:
I had intended to check out the sf book shop Bakka Phoenix but instead I tagged along with that crew to The Beguiling. I got this interesting-looking manga of sf short stories in French and English:
I don’t know when I’ll be back to TCAF, but it’s the gem in the crown of North American cons, so I hope it’ll be soon.
May 10th, 2013
I’ll be exhibiting at TCAF this weekend. I’ll have Vortex #1-3 and a new, 16-page, quarter-legal-sized mini I did called Tranz #2.
My table is #248 on the second floor. I posted earlier that Josh Burggraf would be tabling with me but he can’t make it.
Anyway if you’re going to be at TCAF, I hope to see you there!
April 16th, 2013
Hey y’all! I’ve gotten a bit behind in blogging. I’m going to hibernate for a while to get some serious work done. I’ll resurface when I have something substantial. Here’s a progress shot from Vortex #4, which, despite my 2013 new year’s resolution, I’ve only finished five pages of:
The next time you’ll see me is TCAF 2013. Unfortunately Vortex #4 won’t be ready by then.
I’ll be tabling with Josh Burggraf, who’ll be debuting Future Shock #4.
I have a comic in there that I did in collaboration with Sean T Collins.
April 10th, 2013
I made this Flash interaction sketch tonight:
Generative art and video games get me as excited as comics. (I’m a chameleon – ten years ago, I would’ve said that performance and conceptual art get me as excited as comics.) In particular, I’ve admired Patrick Smith’s interactive Flash pieces Vectorpark and Windosill. This isn’t my first foray into this territory. I’ve been messing around with Flash and ActionScript 3 for several years now. (I’ve also dipped my toe, ultimately unproductively, into Processing.) However, I recently changed over to a full-time Flash developer / ActionScript 3 programming position at my day job. So I’ve been studying it. Studying something always gives me tons of ideas for related art works, so here’s this.
I actually originally drew everything in MangaStudio, colored it in Photoshop, imported it into Flash, and did a bitmap trace. I’ve always wanted to try that – I think it’s a good approximation of my house style. I’ve got some ideas for bigger projects but we’ll see if I ever get to them. Finishing Vortex has got to be my priority!
April 5th, 2013