Saturday, January 29, 2011

We're All Gonna DIE!!

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Everyone meet Mason.  Hi, Mason!
Mason has had a bad night and he's grumpy.  So grumpy, in fact, that he could kill someone.  And, he might, too.
I had a dickens of a time with this panel.  In fact, I re-drew the previous idea (Clay walking up to the truck) so much, I just abandoned it and cut right to the chase.  I wanted to capture something in particular about Mason.  He had to look like a native...a country man...without seeming funny or caricature-ish.  Mason means business, and I wanted to make sure I showed it.  I'm pretty happy with how he turned out.  He definitely isn't a businessman, and he seems beat-up enough to look like he's been rolled in a truck, but still dangerous.
I grew up around guys like this.  My dad owns a cattle farm, used to own a dairy, and I worked like a dog all summer in hay and tobacco.  I remember the rough-handed, rough-housing, rough-living guys who used to help with tobacco.  Usually, they weren't well read, but all of them had interesting stories, and could work in the burning heat like machines.
Mason is one of those guys...built like a tree, with the capability of hurting someone if he had to.

Welcome to Stockton Station, Doc.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Later, as they near the town of Stockton Station...

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Uh oh....what's this??  Just some poor, drunken fool who missed the road?  Or, is it more sinister...?
We'll see! :)

Bet you didn't expect another panel up so quickly, eh?  Well, this is the panel that I mentioned in the previous post...and now, it's time to put it to use.
I fought with the colors in this picture for a long time.  It's time to enter daylight...which isn't something I've done in this strip before.  I wanted it to have that cool shadow, early morning sunshine feel...and I think it came out well.  Light is very, very important in this strip, and I wanted to get it just right.  It'll be quite a shift moving from cool tones to warm ones, but I'll do my best to adapt and try to make the flow harmonious.

Anyway, on with the show!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Can I get a light, Agent Clay?

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Whew!  Another late post!  Grr.  You'll never guess why.  Remember at the end of the last post I promised you some action?  Well...look at this panel!  The only action I see is flying speech balloons!!
I was going to go straight into the action....even went so far as to draw and color a complete panel....and then I couldn't do it.  This idea for Carol and Clay talking at a gas station popped into my head and it had to get out.
Dang characters shanghai-ing my story!  I love that "It's not ALL his wardrobe." line.  Heh. :)

So...Doc's just standing off to the side.  Maybe he's paying attention to Carol and Clay...maybe he isn't.  Maybe he's just formulating equations while watching the puny humans.

Or...maybe he's...jealous?  Lonely?  Mad?

Watch out, Agent Clay...."he breaks legs".

Monday, January 17, 2011

So Doc, Where is it I'm Driving?

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That's Doc....all heart. :)

There's a real challenge with drawing scenes with very little action in them....and this is one of those scenes.  I had information I needed to get across to Clay, more interaction between Doc and Clay I wanted to show, AND I needed to do an image that showed them traveling.

I think this one came out ok.  It shows additional information visually...there's the map of Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky, with the convoy of vehicles spanning the three states, and there's also a nifty travel brochure for Route 60...which is the road they'd be traveling.  Interstate highways weren't constructed in the U.S. until 1956, so Route 60 (and the more famous, Route 66) was the only way to go. 

You know, looking at this panel, it strikes me that this story has a kind of Scooby-Doo or Johnny Quest cartoon look to it....and that pleases me greatly.

Well, I think we've had plenty of talking for a about some action, hmm?

Stay tuned!


Friday, January 14, 2011


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 Heeeeeeeere's DOC! 
Sorry for taking so long to post!  The semester has started at work and my wife's laptop has died, so I've been spending my time giving it CPR (no results yet...we'll see!)
Anyway, as a way of making up for the neglect, I took some process shots of this panel while it was under way, just so you could get an idea of what it takes to get it to the finished state.
First off, the pencils.
Then, some brush work with my Pentel Pocket Brush

Then, some initial shading with copic markers

More shading with darker markers

Then, while finishing shading Doc, I decided that I really needed something in that back window.

Inking the army truck with Pitt Pens

Laying in spot blacks in the background.

And, finally, tones over the background.

After all that, I scan it, color and filter-ize it a bit, and you see the finished product!  All told, it took 4 hours of work.
You can see that the finished project obliterated some of my detail....and I'm fine with that.  Actually, it's made me think hard about how to design the panels so that the key area really pops and is clearly legible....the rest can just "suggest" what might be there.  That "suggesting" or hinting at what is in the background is lots more interesting for the reader anyway as their mind fills in the blanks. 

At least, I hope so! :)

More soon,


Saturday, January 8, 2011


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Bet you weren't expecting THAT eh?  Those of you who have been reading the blog from the beginning might remember me mentioning that I wanted to introduce a female main character into the stories...and here she is.  She has an interesting part to play in this game, and I'm looking forward to seeing how her voice develops in my head as we go along.
I'll bet you can guess who that is speaking in the back seat.....:)  I'm looking forward to getting to draw Doc!


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"He Breaks Legs"

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This was one of those panels I had to have....a transition between Clay's house and the car outside...kind of a scene change panel.  I didn't feel like I wanted to jump right to the car with Clay fully dressed, but I didn't want to spend two panels on getting him out there, so this split panel is my compromise.  Little did I know that drawing the stupid thing would take me almost the same amount of time as two complete panels!  Grr.
It seemed like the left panel took forever to get the figure the way I wanted him.  I was going to leave him there on a black background, but I just couldn't, so I quickly threw up some shapes of suburban homes and knocked them out in abstract blacks.  I like them.

Anyway, we get to see what's in the car waiting for Clay next time.  I can't wait!

See you soon,

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tell Me What You See.

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Happy New Year!!
I hope you and your loved ones had a great holiday.  For me, there's nothing like starting off the new year with a new panel of DOC MONSTER!
I've got some language in that last panel, and it makes me think that, like all good movies, this story should have a rating on it.  I know, that when going into a movie (or reading a story, for that matter), I'd kind of like to know what KIND of story I'm seeing before I start...and that includes violence and profanity.  In this case, I don't think Doc is a story for young kids.  There probably won't be nudity or incredibly graphic violence, but there will be some horrible things.  Maybe PG?  Hmm.  I'll have to think about it.

Concerning writing, I was reading a bio of early 20th century science fiction author, E. E. Smith (I'm reading his 1947 novel "Spacehounds of IPC") and he mentioned an interesting way to visualize pacing in a story....picturing it live a wave plotted on a graph.  He described it has having "peaks" of action and "valleys" of backstory and discussion.  Modern theorists have different names for it...action and reaction, for example, but for some reason that wave idea stuck in my mind.  I'm going to try to keep it in my thoughts....Doc Monster is basically an action/adventure, so I want to make sure that the story is oscillating at a very regular rate.  You'll note that we started the story with an action scene, and now we're seeing backstory.  Action, will obviously follow, and so on.  I suppose some variance of the idea can occur, but in general, I think that kind of balance is a good thing to be aware of when you're telling a story.  Too little action, and things get boring...too little backstory, and there's no plot.

More soon!