Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rip Wrapped

"Tuff-Girl, Christmas Gifts" or "Rip Wrapped"
Graphite pencil on illustration board.
33.66 cm x 24.13 cm (13.25 in x 9.50 in.)

Something I started.

I think I'll try acrylic paints to finish.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

TAGS December 26, 1993

12/26: Secret Santa strategies.

FP#01 - This is the first full page, Sunday strip format of TAGS. The date in 1993 falls on a Sunday. It's "holiday-time" at the little restaurant in Happiland Park, and the hosts and hostesses (workers) are having a secret Santa gift exchange.

Bingo the snake (first appearance) as a visually interesting character owes everything to the Disney predecessors, Kaa from "The Jungle Book" and Sir Hiss from "Robin Hood." He's easy-going and should have been more of a prankster than he would be later depicted.

Evan, a Welsh Corgi dog, makes his fourth appearance at the end. Monster obviously sees Evan as a rival, yet Evan certainly hasn't had enough strip appearances to support that conclusion.

Tanya (otter) is mentioned here, but has yet to make an appearance. The hostess in silhouette speaking with Bingo in panel 6, is probably Wensdae (weasel), and if so, then this marks her fifth appearance.

As I had all the daily editions, this was originally printed in my self-published newsletter, "monotony." Because "monotony" was photocopied in black and white (because B&W copies are cheaper than color ones), I did not color the FP's. Well, originally I didn't color them. When I did, I would use watercolor paints over photocopies of the finished inked art. The process still seems/feels like a more authentic comic-making experience than digital colors, but it sure does wrinkle the pages.

Even without color, the FP's would offer many advantages over writing and drawing the four panel dailies: 1) flexibility in the size, shape and number of panels; 2) more storytelling and acting; 3) bigger characters. One of the most common comments I have received (or elicited) from people I've ask read my collection of TAGS, is that the FP's are better than the dailies. As I see them as a whole, I can't readily offer an opinion on the matter.

I often feel as Monster does in panel 10.

Lastly, if I had not previously made note of it, "Gats" is the "Good Grief" of TAGS. It is plainly an anagram, a jumbling of the letters of the comic strip's name, but it is also a sound-alike cousin of the exclamatory, "gadzooks." "Fieb" on the other hand, didn't catch on.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Drawing Time

Graphite pencil and marker on card stock.
13.97 cm x 21.59 cm (5.50 in. x 8.50 in.)

"Sea-Bolt and Tuff-Girl"
Red pencil and marker on card stock.
13.97 cm x 21.59 cm (5.50 in. x 8.50 in.)

"Cloudbuster and Tuff-Girl"
Red pencil and marker on card stock.
13.97 cm x 21.59 cm (5.50 in. x 8.50 in.)

"Rip Tyler"
Graphite pencil and marker on card stock.
13.97 cm x 21.59 cm (5.50 in. x 8.50 in.)

Graphite pencil and marker on card stock.
13.97 cm x 21.59 cm (5.50 in. x 8.50 in.)

"Harley Quinn"
Graphite pencil and marker on card stock.
13.97 cm x 21.59 cm (5.50 in. x 8.50 in.)

"Supernatural High"
Graphite pencil and marker on card stock.
13.97 cm x 21.59 cm (5.50 in. x 8.50 in.)

With the intent of sketching something with every paid order, I brought a small stack of half-letter cards to the Long Beach Comic Con. Although I can draw a recognizable character in under a minute, the result may not necessarily be of the highest quality rating, but it's a neat trick at parties. With more time, I can do better, plus I can add shading and color as limited to what I had on hand. So at slower points during the con., I drew these to build up a stack of give-aways, as an alternative to forcing the patron to wait for a custom drawing, especially since the sketchbooks weren't designed for more than an autograph. The samples above are what were left over at the end of the con.

Sharing space at the Silver Comics booth, it was natural to match up it's heroes, Sea-Bolt and Cloudbuster, with Tuff-Girl.

Rip Tyler is the Las Vegas lizard-man who's extortion business frequently encounters a hiccough named Tuff-Girl.

Supergirl (© DC Comics) - another drawing of Superman's cousin.

From the Barnes & Noble booth across the aisle from Silver, one of girls was dressed as Harley Quinn (© DC Comics). I didn't require more inspiration than that. Another girl was dressed as Harley's compatriot Poison Ivy, that sketch was snatched up.

The Silver Comics' booth neighbor was "Supernatural High," (© Supernatural High) a comic that's about, as far as I could tell, a private high school for kids with supernatural abilities.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tee Is for Tuff-Girl

Front tee-shirt design on fuchsia.
17.78 cm x 10.16 cm (7.00 in x 4.00 in.)

Back tee-shirt design in fuchsia.
21.59 cm x 10.16 cm (8.50 in. x 4.00 in.)

Mock-up of design placement on tee-shirt.

Debby, Mannequin head art.
Digital color over scan of cleaned India Ink.
3000 x 2400 pix

One of the most compelling things about using "Tuff-Girl" as the character's name, is it's potential to be adopted by patrons who don't even have a clue about the comic book character. Just as it is with "Wonder Woman," wearing the name on your shirt is a declaration. Not so much the declaration, or a least good ones, are names like "Spider-Man" and "Matter-Eater Lad."

So printed promotional tee-shirts are a natural complement to the books I hope to eventually print and sell. I'll probably branch out to promotional accessories.

If you search the internet for "Tuff-Girl," you will probably come across several apparel companies by a similar name. Some body has the trademark for the apparel category, but I can't tell from the search results which if any. I have the TM for print publishing, but for promotional purposes, I can churn out the tee-shirts.

As a further matter of branding and distinction, I pair the word "unstoppable" with the name. The eventual book and web-site will both bear the name "Unstoppable Tuff-Girl." It's funny how, since a year ago when I made that decision, the word "unstoppable" now pops out to me in advertising I see and hear.

The last, bottom image was made to top a headless body form on which one of the tee-shirt was displayed at the Long Beach Comic Con. Although I printed it at near 16" tall and glued it to a butterflied file folder, it still was a wee bit small for the form. The drawn image had the head about 9 cm (3.5 in.) tall, the largest I've yet done of a finished image of Tuff-Girl or her civilian identity, Debby. This is remarkable to me, I mean, shouldn't I be drawing these characters all of the time? The red gem on the necklace here, is also the most detailed and finalized I've yet depicted it. Largely, there hasn't been a need to finalize the setting design, which again for branding purposes should be distinct. This one is close, but needs a little more refinement.

Silver Comics at Long Beach Comic Con, 2009

Johnny (center) and Vince are here to help you with all your "Silver Comics" needs.

Convention attendee eagerly browses through all the Silver Coimics mechandise, while a stoic The End on the far end looks on.

That's me, Bryan, with a fresh selection of sketchbooks and women's tee-shirts on the side of Silver's space.

The inaugural Long Beach Comic Convention (LBCC), Oct. 2 - 4, was quite an enjoyable little convening of comic book enthusiasts. Now, San Diego's Comic Con International (SDCC) has long become it's own incomparable mass media event, so SDCC aside, Long Beach made an respectable first effort compared to other such cons I've attended.

The space was maybe six-times the area of a basketball auditorium, nearly evenly divided into four major areas: exhibitors (mostly publishers), dealers (mostly folk selling or trading things not as creators or publishers), autographs and artist alley. Comparable in my memory to the space of first New York Comic Con of threes ago, about half that of Wonder Con in San Francisco two year's ago, or about equal the two dealers' rooms at Atlanta's Dragon*Con. You could easily see everything in one afternoon if you didn't stand in line for an autograph or to meet one of the many guest artist.

It was here the Silver Comics made it's first convention showing since it's first about three years back at SDCC. This time, they had an impressive, much coveted back wall of promotional posters or cover art, nine action-packed issues including an "annual" and lots of tantalizing branded promotional items; the wooden yo-yo's and pin-back buttons dispensed from a 25-cent gumball machine were popular.

Even with out the big two super-hero publishers, Marvel and DC, occupying floor space, they still loomed over the crowd by way of their affinities - the things they spent time exploring. To be sure, the toughest thing about being a small, unheard-of publisher is getting folks to stop and look at your stuff. With a terrific looking booth, branded bags and free-for-kids coloring packs, Silver Comics probably was the discovery of the con.

And I sold a couple of sketchbooks.

I am grateful to Johnny Ortiz for sharing his booth space. He provided a nice spinning rack for the books and body form to display a tee-shirt sample. But he's also provided good examples brand building and overall stick-to-it-iveness.

Long Beach or Bust

"Bustin' Free"
Digital composite of black India ink on Bristol board and color marker.
20.32 cm x 25.40 cm (8.00 in. x 10.00 in)

From the galley of thumbnail images in the previous entry, you can spot the inclusion of a single full color page, or pages in this case because it exists as a triple page gate-fold pin up.

Above is the piece cropped to 8 x 10 in. pretty much the scale it was drawn. As is my now standard practice, the final black inking was done right over the rough construction drawing in carmine red pencil. The red lines were subsequently digitally erased.

After marker proved it was going to be temperamental by smearing the ink, the color marker comp. was instead done on 20lb copier paper over the ink on a light table. Some color did bleed through to the inked board, so now that board is just a spotted step in the process, another artifact destined to be lost in my piles and files.

Admittedly, the background isn't very accomplished. The color and tone selections are reactionary for the figure to stand out well and the hatching just fills in negative space.

At the Long Beach Comic Con, I sold about half a dozen copies of sketchbook No. 2, and I don't think anyone unfolded the gate-fold. Probably, because it's tucked in so tightly. Hopefully, it's a nice surprise for my patrons.