Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Matriarch, Ink.

The stylish Luisa Russo has signed on to bring ink and a much needed touch of feminine class to the pages of The Matriarch. Welcome aboard, Luisa!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Elf-Help 16 again

The final color version of the page is up now, courtesy of colorist Robt Snyder (here). We'll actually be updating this episode one more time in the near future, to fix a typo and tweak some dialogue.

Doing an episode in stages like this has its advantages, since it makes the creation process somewhat transparent, and gives a peek at Robt's coloring wizardry. Here's what I asked for:

Page Five
1/ Close on Wyling looking very sweet and happy as she says:

- -_ _ i …no more than about twenty years.
- - _ i 1Inset Panels on either side show a sample of the boys’ reactions of anger and surprise.

Here's what Martin and Carolina came up with:

I especially love what utter jackasses the kids on the left are, and how their reactions are realistic rather than extreme or satirical on the right. It's a slightly chilling moment, actually.

Here's Robt's flatted version of the image ("flatted" just means he's selected each object and given it its own particular color in preperation for the final pass, where all the flourishes will come in):

Even at this stage, the coloring is already helping to emphasize what the script, and especially the art, are working to communicate. Mistress Wyling is our main focus, appearing not only in the center of the image, but also on top of the inset panels picturing the boys. This last was a great bit of spontaneous intuition on Martin's part, as it lends Wyling a timeless quality, which contrasts the boys who are subject to the ravages of time not only by virtue of being mortals, but also in these two before/after panels themselves.

The boys don't get individual colors, which like all good visual art, speaks for itself.

Here's the final take: comics cartoons sex fantasy

Here, Robt is using realistic lighting to highlight my rather vague "looking very sweet and happy" description for Mistress Wyling. By this point in our collaboration, I think Martin and Carolina understood intuitively that it would fall to Robt to further contrast Wyling and the boys (using not just color, but light itself to sell the scene) and kept Wyling nice and down to earth.

Well guys, if I haven't mentioned it before, you nailed this scene! Thanks again for making Elf-Help what it has become; it is both humbling and inspiring to be part of this collaborative team.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Effed Up Comics

There's an interesting thread at B. Clay Moore's message board about screwed up comic covers from the past. As Clay says, "Sometimes it's not too surprising people took issue with comic books back in the day."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Minutes or Millennia: Timing in Comics

Although this may seem like a panel from a surreal comic about spoons, teacups, and turnovers, it is in fact an illustration from a series of excellent articles on the use of time in comics by Joanna Estep (part 1, part 2).

Watching teacups fly through the air and talking about imaginary time puts me in mind of the sorts of things Stephen Hawking discusses in A Brief History of Time:

"When one tried to unify gravity with quantum mechanics, one had to introduce the idea of “imaginary” time. Imaginary time is indistinguishable from directions in space. If one can go north, one can turn around and head south; equally, if one can go forward in imaginary time, one ought to be able to turn round and go backward. This means that there can be no important difference between the forward and backward directions of imaginary time."

The ambivalent nature of the direction of time is also true in comics (as well as film, and other sequential media) of course, since they both really run on imaginary (or subjective) time. As Joanna points out, the space between panels can be anything the creator wants: minutes or millennia.

When I started writing comics, I made a conscious choice to keep the visual storytelling independent of the words. Thus, one can get a sense of the first pages of Elf-Help (I hope) just from the images:

At some point (the end of page 2, actually), I evolved a much looser style, compressing and stretching time (mostly compressing) to better suit the story, like in the opening pages of Old School:

Part of what is interesting about this to me, and what the articles helped me realize, is that I only play with time when one of the characters within the comic is narrating (Ace telling the story about Strong Arm and the Masher in Old School, or Gerd talking about her uncle's ship in Elf-Help). This sort of thing generally happens on a subconscious, even instinctual level, but it's nice every once in a while to go back to the basics and think about something as fundamental as time and pacing -- there's a lot to be learned, even from yourself.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Elf-Help 16 is live

Check it out at komikwerks.

Vote. Discuss. PSP. Vote again.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Elf-Help 16 preview

Elves are a long-lived race, and Mistress Wyling will sleep with anyone she considers a friend. But how long does it take for an elf to form friendships?

Eight hours? Thirty years? Find out in four days in Elf Help.

Vote. Discuss. PSP. Press Release. Vote again.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Matriarch needs Ink!

Penciler Steven Yarbrough and I are looking for an inker to help bring our super-mom, the Matriarch, to life. Here's a look at page 2 (links to other pages to the side):


Here's the pitch:

The Matriarch is the story of Sherry Benning, a single mother who juggles raising her 13 year-old son with the demands of a career in advertising AND the obligations that come with having superpowers. Sherry has taken twelve years off to devote to her son, but the world at large isn’t doing so well, and it is time for the Matriarch to return to fighting crime.

The Matriarch is the missing superhero archetype -- the book Stan Lee and Steve Ditko might have done in the 60s if the social climate had been more favorable. As Sherry’s charismatic but ethically wayward boss, Jawaharlal Jalil, says of an advertisement featuring a female fire-fighter:

"When you go to the movies and Toby Maguire goes off and saves the day, the worst thing that happens is he blows off his model girlfriend. But replace Toby with, say, a single mother who has to choose between saving the world or neglecting her child -- it's repugnant. You'd lose half the audience."

The stories we want to tell with the Matriarch will not only examine Sherry’s constant struggle to balance her duties toward her son with her duties as a superhero (a conflict some, like her boss, would say puts her in a position that is de facto unethical), but in showing how she succeeds in doing both things well. (After all, a mom is really a kind of superhero already).

The Matriarch should appeal to the core direct market audience, especially those looking for more books like Invincible or Noble Causes, as well as to audiences who may have never read a comic book before, but are familiar with the tropes of the genre from films like Spider-Man and The Incredibles.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Elf-Help 15!

Wow, 15 episodes. The first story-arc is almost complete, and to celebrate... we bring you the contortionistic dance stylings of Mistress Wyling!

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to vote for Elf-Help, discuss it, and then vote for it again.

Episode 15, live now at Stan Lee's Sunday Comics.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I'm Going to This Planet...

From Alien Animal Planet, via Wired.


Distinguishing Features: Tendons along this manta ray-like creature's rear control its airfoil shape, letting it ride the wind currents. Tendrils dangling from multiple mouths haul in the giant insects that hover near pagoda crowns, while a long, fleshy cord keeps the kite tethered to the canopy.

Closest Earth Cousin: Jellyfish, which depend on ocean currents for lateral movement and feed on small fish and plants that become trapped in their tentacles.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Sword & Sorcey Comics

A new page has gone live at swordandsorcery.org -- the S&S comics page!

Learn about Blackmark, Thongor, Brak, Claw the Unconquered, Kong the Untamed, and the secret history of S&S in comics courtesy of Charles Rutledge!

Uncover the twisted psychology of Cary Nord and Kurt Busiek's decapitation fetishes in Dark Horse's Conan!

Then come and meet a new S&S hero, Arcana Studio's Kade, the man who cannot feel, but always hurts!

Friday, February 10, 2006

More on Marketing Comics

Brian Hibbs via The Engine:

We've built a business that is increasingly revolving around the perennial item -- a work that can sell month-in, month-out, unto the end of time. What THIS means is that you're no longer "just" competing against what came out this week, you're competing against EVERY graphic novel that is in-print...

What that means is that you're competing for rack space from just about EVERYone -- all the way from Windsor McKay to Craig Thompson. THIS IS A ZERO SUM GAME -- rack space is finite, and it is precious, and if you want some of mine, you have to convince me that I'd rather display your book than PYONGYANG or GANGES or something else equally superlative.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Marketing is the work of Satan

From Warren Ellis, via The Engine:

First principle: marketing is the work of Satan. It is the art of convincing someone to give you their money by lying to them. Never lose sight of that. This is something that needs to be performed with hate. If you begin to love the process, then you've become one of those people who sell washing powder and sugar-based drinks. Marketing is a necessity. It must be done well in order to give the work a chance of survival out in the Darwinian nightmare of the outside world, a place where only tits win. You do the work with love. Everything else? It's simply something that must be done...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Elf-Help 14

Live at komikwerks.
Hot elf love!

Geek Hierarchy

Speaking of geeking out, I found this handy Geek Hierarchy funny... because it's true.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

It's all Greek to me

"Possibly a special circle in hell is reserved for those who fannishly geek out about their own work."
Benjamin Rosenbaum

I will try to keep my self-geek-outery to a minimum and just mention that a few of my stories, The Coming Years of Good, The Dead God Trilogy (Destiny, Puppet Show, and the yet-to-appear Punishment), and The Case of the Martian Ambassador, will be appearing in Greek in a magazine called Universe Pathways.

Avasa looked at the bracelet. It was a nice piece, but obviously not worth the risks they had taken to get it. “Then what’s in this for you?” she asked, voice rising in a way Jack found adorable.

Jack shrugged. “The usual. Eternal life, world domination. In that order.”

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Elf-Help 13 at komikwerks

Delayed by technical difficulties (though you might have peeked at it here) -- but now it's here! (yay!)

Vote! Talk! Download to your PSP! Vote Again! 24

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Tao of Kafka

Tangent Online has a review of Son and Foe #1, including my story "When the Great Clod Belches":

“When the Great Clod Belches” by Robert Burke Richardson unfortunately went right over my head. Surrealism often does that to me. It does present some intriguing visual images, but the overall effect was like watching someone else’s dream. I don’t understand a lot of Kafka’s stuff either, so this is not necessarily a reflection on either the author or the story, just an admission that I couldn’t quite connect with it. Check it out and draw your own conclusions.

So, in a way... I'm as brilliant as Kafka.



Planet of the Human-Animal Hybrids!

Foolish humans... your president tried to warn you...

Who will save us from the Gay Dog-Men??? 24

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Elf-Help 13

"I WONDERED why the Mistress felt like she needed a shave..."