Category Archives: Comics

The Week Behind; The Week Ahead: Sept 18

Phew. There’s a whirlwind going on, y’all. We are in the last few days of a major Kickstarter campaign run by my publisher, Comicker Press, to bring five different graphic novels from digital into print. The first volume of Waking Life is among them, and at 2/3 funding with five days to go, I am figuratively on pins and needles!

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(I say figuratively because, folks, I’m an English teacher, and I just spent the past few weeks of school reinforcing for my kids that figurative language isn’t literal. And I literally want to be the best role model possible for my students. )

Last week was the start of the whirlwind. My brother in comics– Tyler Ellis— and I spent the weekend of the 9th at Staple in Austin. It’s the best indie comics show in the southern U.S., and a real highlight of the year. Getting time to meet new faces and reconnect with previous acquaintances was a real treat.

But I moved straight from that into a full week of classes, vocab, and test prep– the first full week of school since we began, thanks to Hurricane Harvey. Having spent a lot more time together, my students taught me a few things in the process:

A) Never arm-wrestle a student whose biceps are larger than your head

B) Roblox is… a thing. Potentially bigger than Harambe was to last year’s group. There’s a reason everyone’s saying OOF a lot.

C) A single misspelling can end up being more profound than a hundred sincerely meant words.

I also decided to try my hand at fan art– i.e., the practice of drawing already-existing characters. Part of this is because I need to up my illustration game; part of it’s because I’d like to improve at digital drawing as well. I feel a lot of personally-induced pressure when working on Waking Life to make my pages look awesome, but that eliminates a little bit of the sense of play and discovery. I need an outlet for that, and I figured drawing characters I’ve enjoyed from other areas in a casual way creates that opportunity. To wit:

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Tyrion and Bronn are one of my favorite unlikely buddy comedies duos of the moment

Geordi and Data: some of my favorite odd-couple bros in all of science fiction.

I also discovered the utility of Instagram’s Stories feature (thanks, Christin), so now I’m annoying people with mildly humorous videos several times a day. Being half as funny as you think you are is the job of a father, though, so I’m staying on brand. Also, it DID give me the opportunity to document a major mishap that happened last night:

 

Finally, I had a few rad opportunities to chat up media folks about Waking Life and our soon-to-finish campaign. The Baylor Lariat, where I did my first public cartooning work, was kind enough to offer me an interview, which should be dropping this week. Also, Tyler and I will be doing a live AMA with our Comicker crew tonight at 7:00 central— we’d love to have you drop in and ask a few Q’s, give a few comments, and talk shop.

More to come next week, so stay tuned. I’ll have a story about how the campaign finishes up, one way or another. Until then, here’s a taste of things to come:

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Comics for Camp: Completed!

As mentioned a few months ago, my ongoing illustration work with Pine Cove Christian Camps yielded some cool fruit this year: the opportunity to do comic pages. Here are the finished single-page stories I did for their Base Camps Bible Studies. (You can see the rough drafts here— most of which are pretty different from the final versions!)

 

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Portfolio Pages!

I recently updated the “Portfolio” section of the site. Click on over for a look at some of my professional work from the past 6 months, including some pages I haven’t yet posted to the blog!

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Towers 2012 Bible Study Illustrations

I first met Robby Mayne when I was a gangly, myopic high school freshman attending the Pine Cove Shores camp. Anyone in college qualified as “coolest thing ever” in my book, and Robby especially had one of those unique combinations of dry wit and spiritual enthusiasm that made him an exceptional counselor. The only thing I couldn’t parse was his weird obsession with LSU (These sorts of things don’t compute for a native Texas boy).

But the cool thing about Robby is, he wasn’t content to just stay “cool.” Instead of making a career out of working at the High School camp, he made a lateral move to Pine Cove’s Towers camp for grade schoolers. As its current director, he’s inspiring a whole new generation of kids, and in the process, he’s showing a remarkable gift for writing compelling Bible Studies that have definite all-ages appeal.

It’s always a joy to illustrate his work, and this year was no exception– Robby’s study focused on Scriptural characters who lived like God was everything to them. The stories he picked and retold reminded me of the great rewards found in our faith, and offered some cool opportunities to depict a lot of drama and emotion in some dynamic settings.

Pine Cove Towers 2012 Bible Study Illustrations:

Caleb entering his part of the Promised Land, from Judges.

Jonathan and his armor-bearer climbing to a Philistine camp, from 1 Samuel.

Stephen, seeing Christ just prior to his stoning, from Acts.

Paul surviving a shipwreck, from Acts.

Jesus heals a blind man while John looks on, from the Gospel of John.

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Comics for Camp

I’ve enjoyed a fruitful relationship with Pine Cove Christian Camps for over a decade now. I started going as a camper in 2000, came on summer staff in 2004, and even spent 8 months after graduating college in their discipleship program, The Forge. They’re a ministry that values excellence, and they have a very clear sense of mission that’s molded the way I approach my work.

They’ve also contracted me to do Bible study illustrations since 2009. At this point, I do covers and single-page illustrations for up to four studies a year, so they’ve become responsible for a large part of my professional catalog. But one thing I’d like to produce more of is comics. And wouldn’t you know: this year,  one of the Bible studies called for comic pages.

What?! Well, I’m on board with that!

Below is my first round of sketches. The challenge was to depict five separate sequences from the Gospels (each individual page had to correspond with a different passage of Scripture) and still make them feel like installments of a single, continuous story. I’ll let you judge if I hit the mark:

More to come on this front…

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Bah-na-nana-nana-nana Bah-na-nana-nana-nana…

…BATMAAAAAAN!!!

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Gregor Samsa

I’ve never read Metamorphosis… but I expect I should someday.

Various Ways of Coping With An Unexpected Animal Body

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Filed under Cartoons, Comics, Sketchbook