Thursday, July 28, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Uninvited Guests!

One final reminder for anyone who is attending Comic Con International in San Diego this weekend.  There are some advance copies of my new book The Hidden available at the Fantagraphics booth - a month or so before copies will be in stores.  If you purchase a The Hidden at Comic-Con, you'll also get something extra -- a signed and numbered limited edition print, featuring a scene not shown in the book (see below).

Oh - and -- psst! -- Here is a link to a twelve page sneak-preview of the book! ~

Thursday, July 14, 2011

IT'S COMING (to Comic-Con International Next Week!)

There will be a couple of dozen advance copies of my new book THE HIDDEN available at the Fantagraphics booth next week at the San Diego Comic-Con (July 21-24).  People who purchase it there will also receive a special signed and numbered limited edition print, free with each copy!  

Then all will be quiet for awhile -- about another month or so -- and it will finally be in stores sometime in August or September.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


If you are a young artist and enjoy doing work whether anyone is paying you or not, and if you are lucky enough to have like-minded colleagues who are creative and are non-bitter, non-complaining types -- then by all means you should work on projects together.  Sometimes great things may come of it.  At the very least you will experience the joy of creating something out of nothing.

However, there will inevitably be times when you will be reminded that nobody cares as much as you do about the work you do.  That is, you should never expect that your work will be as important to anyone else as it is to you.  You will find that even the most creative of your colleagues can let you down if you trust them to care about your work as much as you do.  

Designers and art directors are the most problematic because artists depend on them and have to trust them.  On one hand, you have to be cordial and professional, even when they are not, because of the power they (temporarily) hold over you.  And on the other hand, you have to force yourself to be a pest - even if that's totally against your nature - in order to make certain they aren't ignoring all your notes or (worse) are planning to get "creative" with your work.  I've been lucky enough to work with several really great designers, and often the fault has been mine when something went wrong -- I wasn't clear enough or assertive enough.  Or -- I trusted them to know what would look best.  Remember - your work is just not as important to them as it is to you.  

I'm nowhere near a good designer myself.  I've designed several of my own books simply because of that inability to trust anyone else - which came about after I was unhappy with some of the decisions the designer made on my 1993 book Black Cat Crossing.  But all artists who do illustrations or books must inevitably work with designers and art directors.  You cross your fingers and hope you get one who is sympathetic to your work.  

I've tried to be a control freak sometimes.  Other times I've tried to be all "zen" about it.  Trusting your art to someone is hard because you often just have that one chance for it to be published and look good and it can be heartbreaking and discouraging if it comes out looking bad.  I've handed off work to friends or colleagues a few times where the results ranged from mind-bogglingly incompetent (putting pages of a comic out of order) to just frustratingly disappointing -- like this board game from 1994, PANIQUE.  

(By the way - I apologize here to any non-artists - who have read this far - if this all sound like a lot of belly-aching.  Trust me, I count my blessings every day that I am fortunate enough to be able to do the work I do!  I'm not complaining at all and in fact I've worked with quite a few really incredible designers.)

So - about PANIQUE:  I don't blame the very nice folks who produced the game.  They came up with the idea of doing limited edition silk-screened board games by cartoonists (me, Dan Clowes, Lloyd Dangle and others I'm forgetting).  Their hearts were in the right place and they put a lot of time and hard work into the project for very little (no?) reward.  Still, I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say I was disappointed with the end results.  But, again -  I didn't stay involved throughout the process, I just handed over the art -- so - really -- I have no one to blame but myself that the finished game didn't live up to whatever my expectations were.

So - the less said about the final printed games, the better.  Instead, I just wanted to be able to show off the art I created for the it.  

I loved board games as a kid.  I even created several hand-drawn board games and card games when I was young that I then tried to get my siblings or friends to play with me.  So when this opportunity arose, I happily agreed to do it, even though I realized that the limitations that were stated up front would restrict the games to the most basic level.  We could have a spinner and little figures to move on the board, but no cards.  And the board would have to be small - only around 9" x 12, " which limited the length of the game.  I did end up playing the finished game a few times with friends and it worked just fine -- except that it was all over in about two minutes!

So - I apologize to the couple of dozen folks who bought my game (although some people have told me they enjoyed it) -- rest assured that nobody made a cent on the thing.  It was one of those projects you (should) do when you are young(ish) - because you enjoy doing the work.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Back Cover Gallery

Presented for your inspection...  a selection of art from the back covers of early issues of Evil Eye...

The back cover to Evil Eye #1 was (slightly twisted) homage to The Yellow Kid comics by R.F. Outcault. Here "Arsenic Alley" is overrun with characters and objects which may be recognizable to regular readers of Richard Sala stories.

The back cover to issue #2 shows a somewhat more playful rendition of Peculia and her adventures, while the back cover to issue #3 shows all the recurring characters from the Peculia stories.  Finally, on the back cover of issue #6, Judy & Kasper face the two killers in the story that would eventually become Mad Night.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

About the author ~ 1995

Here is the original art for an "author's bio" I did back in 1995.  It appeared as the last page in my book The Ghastly Ones.  At that time I was much more focused on illustration work -- although I was dying to do more comics.  Luckily, later that same year, opportunity knocked -- and I began serializing the chapters of what would eventually be my first full-length graphic novel The Chuckling Whatsit in the pages of the bi-monthly Fantagraphics' anthology Zero Zero

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Haunted Cards

Not long ago, in response to a question on this blog, I mentioned that my work had never been colored by anyone but me.  Well - I had forgotten about these cards.

I did the line drawings for these, but they were colored by someone else.  I'm sorry to say I can't remember who, but whoever it was did a nice job, I think.  There were some real pros working at Kitchen Sink Press (publishers of the card set) back then (1994), so you were usually in pretty good hands.

The card set was called "R.I.P." and contained "42 Paranormal Trading Cards".  From the description on the back:  "Each card is a haunting document of a chilling event -- actual encounters with true ghosts, human monsters, fiends, weird mysteries -- you'll want to read these in a well-lit place!"  So basically, on the back of each card is a description of a specific Fortean event -- that is, some unexplained or extraordinary phenomenon like poltergeists, spontaneous combustion, mysterious disappearances and so on.

The cards were written by Eric Nesheim and illustrated by seven different artists.  I did the six cards shown here.  I've also included a look at some of the original uncolored line art.