Category Archives: Sketchbook

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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Filed under Comics, fan art, General Musings, Sketchbook, Teaching

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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Filed under Cartoons, Comics, Sketchbook

Storyboards: What I Did For Love

For the church’s relationship series earlier this year, we had a specific request and a short window of time. I’ve talked before about our bumpers; this time, the in-service transition between music and preaching was to be bridged by… a romantic comedy?

Well, sort of. The series title being “What I Did For Love,” we suggested to our pastor that we do a short spoof of a guy getting ready for a date. He gave his approval, but asked that the protagonist be played by the unflappable Derek French, who would also appear on the series logo. In fact, the last shot of the bumper and the logo were to match exactly.

Along the way, someone tossed out the idea that Derek should be made over by a redneck Tim Gunn. Hey, that added some spice. We added it to the concept and I went off to draft.

Finally, my intrepid colleague Vince pulled together his equipment and shot the whole thing in a single afternoon. He also neatly solved the problem of matching the logo by shooting a pic of Derek just after they finished filming… which then became the picture in the logo.

The result was a pretty big hit with the Sunday crowd.

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Filed under Divinity, Sketchbook, Storyboards