IT’S FINALLY HERE. After three months of waiting and wondering, chapter five is finally online! GO READ IT NOW. It’s the biggest chapter to date, a whopping 22 pages. That brings the total page count up to…uh, hold on…EIGHTY-EIGHT PAGES. Without a doubt, I WILL break the one hundred page point in chapter six.
Which…optimistically? Should be online in January. There’s no way I’ll get it completely done in December, what with the holidays, girlfriend, second job that I THINK I acquired but not entirely sure of, et cetera.
Anyways, this chapter…I have mixed feelings on. Story-wise, it’s important, and it has some great moments, but you can tell I worked on and off with it over the course of three months, and that hurts a little to look at. Some panels are just shambles, some bits had to be redrawn digitally and stick out way too much, and my skill level back in September was just not the same as the pages that were drawn post-October Game. I’m REALLY happy with the coloring though, and happy that I didn’t have to really sacrifice any dialogue for space purposes like I’ve done in previous chapters, so there’s that.
Chapter six will be something else, I think. I’ve had it written for months, but now, at this point in time, I want to restructure it a bit, make it stronger, shake things up more. We’ll see whether that pans out or not in the future, but right now, that’s the plan. The cover alone is a little bit of a departure already, and I want to see if I can carry that freshness through to the end, yeah?
So that’s that. Back to work. Stick around, it’ll get better.
Crap. This place has been a ghost town lately, hasn’t it? I apologize. I really, really do. But fear not! I haven’t forgotten about Ninel!
September was a sluggish month for me, and well, I spent the entirely of October taking part in this thing called the Bill Counts October Game. It was a silly challenge to produce a new piece of art every day for the entirety of the month. And I did it. I managed to draw or create something every single day, and it was grueling, and it was all-consuming, but I made it through to the other side, and I feel like I’m a stronger artist because of it. I wrote about it a bit more at length here on my main blog, and you can view the gallery of all 31 pieces right here. So it kind of goes without saying that this poor comic didn’t get looked at or touched over the course of the entire month, further delaying chapter 5.
BUT! I’m back on track! Progress is being made, and the chapter will be done and online this month! I mean it this time! It’ll probably look fairly obvious that a month passed between a bunch of pages, but hey, that’s progress.
On top of that, I was interviewed by a friend not so long ago, and you can give that a read here. Some friends of mine have formed a stand up comedy collective known as Beat About, and they’re using their Tumblr page to also promote local artists, musicians, events and what have you, and I had the honor of being the first person interviewed. These guys have been making an effort to bring something a bit different to Bristol. One of them, my good friend Sterlin, prints zines and gets some wicked punk bands to play here, and I’ve been working with him quite a bit, producing flyers for the shows he sets up and/or providing art for his zines. It’s something I’m proud to be a part of, and I’m proud to call these guys my friends.
ANYWAYS. As I said, I’m back on track with chapter five. This thing’s still going. And I apologize again for so much radio silence, but it’s not been for nothing. Hope you all stick around, and that I’m not too little too late.
This one may be a bit of a mess. Bear with me.
I recently went on a Japanese film kick for no real reason other than I hadn’t been on one in quite some time. It started with a 1993 cyberpunk movie called Rubber’s Lover. I had watched it online years before and basically forgot about it until I found a copy on DVD back in June. I freaked out, snatched it up, and months later finally got around to actually watching the damn thing. I took my time with it, pausing the movie frequently to sketch out certain shots that were composed in a really neat way. There was an emphasis on one-point perspective, somewhat like Stanley Kubrick, but only if he’d been hit in the head a few times and fed a fistful of mescaline or something. While watching, it dawned on me that the lab that the bulk of the movie takes place in is kind of similar to the lab in chapter 4, where Marie and Shinya keep all their test subjects in isolation tanks. When I was drawing those scenes, I was recalling a movie I thought I had completely forgotten about without realizing it…
You can tell by now that this happens a lot, and I really enjoy finding out that something I thought I had pulled out of thin air actually derived from some obscure thing I saw years ago.
Rubber’s Lover is a movie that really owes a lot of debt to Tetsuo the Iron Man, the debut film of Japanese writer/director/actor/madman Shinya Tsukamoto. That name is familiar, yes? Because it’s most certainly where I got Shinya’s name from! Tetsuo the Iron Man used to be one of my favorite films, a deranged piece of black and white body horror cinema that I would force upon any of my friends who I thought could deal with something so mental. Lately, with more recent viewings, it’s lost its edge to me, and now feels just kind of silly, but there’s no denying that barely six years ago, this movie was a big deal to me.
(oh hey, here’s the entire movie on Youtube! Go give it a shot!)
In fact, most of Tsukamoto’s movies were a big deal to me. I once considered him to be a favorite director of mine, even though his films are all really a bit too frantic and messy. Tetsuo II: Body Hammer was way too ridiculous, and I can’t recall much of anything about Hiruko the Goblin or Vital. A Snake of June is gorgeous and erotic, possibly his masterpiece, but it’s still not without a multitude of flaws. I want to say Nightmare Detective is really good, but I barely remember anything from that either, and have yet to see the sequel. Nevertheless, though my opinion of the man has changed (I tried watching Tetsuo the Bullet Man on Netflix and quit barely 10 minutes in), his work, and the work of other similarly deranged Japanese filmmakers, left more than a small impression on me, and I think it shows quite clearly in most everything I do.
I can’t really explain how it shows through, there are just certain…gritty aesthetics, hallucinatory pieces, things like that. Maybe I’m the only one who sees it, I dunno.
Also, despite my current opinions, it didn’t stop me from buying Bullet Ballet the other day, one of the few Tsukamoto films I haven’t seen. We’ll see what happens when I try to watch it later this week…
So. I clearly don’t update this blog a whole lot anymore, and I really do apologize. I don’t know what to tell you.
I’ve been busy. I’ve been lazy. I have a social life again, I have a girlfriend, my job goes from being dead as bones to super busy, family responsibilities pop up, a mouse invaded my room, and sometimes all I want to do is sit on my bed, eat Slim Jims, and watch Arrested Development.
In short, I have been all over the place, experiencing all kinds of things, hardly any of which are art related. I don’t think I drew a single thing in either of my sketchbooks for the entirety of August, and I’m ashamed of that fact. At the same time, the push I went through to get chapter 4 done exhausted me, and I slipped back into that “holy shit this sucks why do I even bother” mood.
It’s a weird internal struggle: I want to work fast, I want to be efficient, I want it to look good, but if I don’t feel like it looks good, if I’m just pushing through and working on the comic just for the sake of getting it done, without any real sense of accomplishment, why am I bothering? And that’s a dangerous mindset to get into.
Luckily, there have been a few writers and artists and others that I’ve been emailing, a shot in the dark really, and those that have responded have been fairly positive, and that’s encouraging. Also, one of the reasons I have a girlfriend now is the fact that she decided to talk to me because she liked Other Sleep. Also because I’m devilishly handsome and charming, of course, but you get the idea.
One dude in particular has told me that he’s really enjoying the comic, but that he feels like I’m only using a percentage of my full talent, and that he fully believes that while I am getting better, I can push my work so much further. His words have been rattling around in my brain, and I feel like I should listen.
So while I would still like to be quick and efficient, I’m going to stop worrying so much about self-imposing any deadlines on myself and instead focus more on just making Other Sleep the best damn comic I can. By the time Ninel’s story is over, I’m hoping to be a completely different, and stronger artist than I was when I first started it earlier this year.
My overall goal is, no matter what, to keep moving forward. I mean, that’s what it has been, even when I was in school, but I need to keep reminding myself of that, that I can, should, and will do better.
Obviously, that also means not being lazy, and finding ways to overcome the inevitable bog I find myself in. I usually have some other projects of sorts on the side to keep me moving, but not lately. That’s another thing I need to deal with.
So again, I apologize for a lack of blog content here, but I want you to know that I’m not stopping, that no matter how much life gets in the way, no matter how lethargic I get, I will still be working to finish this comic, and I hope you all stick around for it.
And to everyone who has had kind words about Other Sleep, or about any of my other comics or whatever: thank you. You’re the reason I keep going.
It’s been a long time coming, with about 6000 things getting in the way, including and especially my own bone-headed stupidity, but here it is! Chapter 4 is online! Go read it now!!
So someone asked me last week about how I came up with some of the monsters and stuff for Other Sleep. I kind of realized that, in some small way, they’re at the very least a kind of extension of some work I did last year.
I had to come up with a body of work for my senior exhibition at ETSU, 5-10 pieces or so. I decided on a series of illustrations which loosely kind of had a narrative, and I called it Embrace Infection. The whole idea was that these two people were infected by an extraterrestrial virus, and most of the pieces were just illustrating the transformations taking place in both of them. Of course, the big inspiration behind the series was David Cronenberg, who I’ve already written about on here once. I think in my presentation that I had to give on it, I also mentioned Moebius, Jack Kirby, photographs of skin diseases from the early 1900′s, and some other stuff.
…Huh, some of that looks familiar, doesn’t it?
So yeah, I guess this is where some of the visual foundations for Other Sleep were developed. I think the first draft and designs of the story were coming to me as I was putting everything together for the show itself, so there is some overlap, absolutely. I thought about turning the show into a fully-formed comic at some point, and at the beginning of this year even considered doing a kind of sequel, but it’s not meant to be. Not yet at least. Other Sleep took over, and so I just carried the leftover ideas into it.
You can check out all of the pieces here on my website. I was so damn proud of it when I had it hanging up in the gallery, and our reception went really well. Now, some of the pieces are just a bit difficult to look at, but you can absolutely see some sort of logical progression between these pieces and the imagery of Other Sleep, yeah?
Today I penciled the final few pages of chapter 4. As fast as I seem to be going, I still feel like it’s taking forever, and it’s still turning out to be some of my best work. The total change in setting and tone for the story has sort of led me to change the look of the book, too.
It may not be the greatest example, but here’s a couple of panels from a page I scanned yesterday:
I also picked up a brush recently, but haven’t really been using it much yet for anything more than the deep blacks, which there are a lot of in this chapter. Maybe as I get more confident over time (and get better brushes), I’ll be inking more and more the old fashioned way and not relying so much on illustration pens, because man, those things cost a lot and it adds up over time…
Anyways, with the way things are going, I’d like to say I’ll have the chapter finished and online in the next couple of weeks. So get excited! Hang in there! It’s almost done!
And don’t forget: Rob-Con this Saturday, at Viking Hall in Bristol!