Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Health Problems:

Some of you may have alrerady heard, but for those who didn't, or didn't get the full story at Baltimore, I'll recap. On Sunday morning, after having breakfast at the hotel in Baltimore, I headed over to the convention to setup. Once I got to my table I felt very itchy and hot. I couldn't stop rubbing my eye and my palms itched terribly. I headed to the bathroom to splash some water on my face, and found that as I walked my hands were swelling. Once in the bathroom, I didn't really recognize the guy looking back at me in the mirror because my face was swelling so badly.

Julia took me to the E.R. where it was established that I must have had an allergic reaction to food (though I have never had any food allergy in my life). My swelling was starting to effect my tongue and throat so that it could have been possible that I would have become unable to breathe. I was kept at the E.R. for about 5 hours total for medicine and observation. I was able to get back to the convention and sign some books, but because my hands were still a bit swollen, I wasn't able to do any sketches.

I want to apologize to the fans who I told to stop by Sunday for sketches and the fans who came by for signatures. I really wouldn't ditch a con unless I had good reason. I think the people who helped watch my table Sunday (Emily Jenkins, Jeremy Bastian, and Nick Tapalansky) were cautious to reveal the personal nature of my absence, but I want everyone to know I was in the E.R., not simply sleeping one off or being lazy.

A big thanks to Emily who did the lion's share of the table sitting for me. She not only managed to keep the books available to fans, but also got all my finished commissions to their owners and made a few page sales!! Also thanks goes out to Dr. Kim and Dr. Rice and the staff at University of Maryland Medical center for their help.

I have an appointment tomorrow to start testing for what may have cause my reaction (so far being guessed as a raw-fish-cross contamination). Because of these health problems and Mid-Ohio next weekend, I may be slow or unable to respond to e-mails and blog comments, but please be patient and I'll try and catch up when I can.

Baltimore Wrap-up

Other than the allergic reaction, Baltimore was great!!! I really like this show a great deal. Marc Nathan does a great job making it feel like a home-town convention, with a big budget guest list and staff. I was worried that because the Diamond retailer summit that usually is linked to the con, was in Vegas this year, Baltimore attendance would be down. I don't know what the official count was, but by my estimation, it was up from last year!

New convention banners

Thanks to Devyn of imphotographics.com for dropping off my new convention banners in Baltimore. Space was a little tight so I was only able to show off one of them at Baltimore, but thought I'd take photos of how great I think they turned out.

Fan Art

I have three pieces of artwork to share this time. The first is from Jackie Santiago. She was set up with Nick Tapalansky in artist's alley at Baltimore. This was her first time with an artist alley table. She says she did very well and picked up a great deal of commissions.

Next up is another piece I received in Baltimore, but unfortunately, I don't remember the artist's name and I cannot read the signature (it's a tiny drawing, smaller than a business card). She drew Sadie knitting because she knew from Mouse Guard, that Sadie had spent a great deal of time alone at the outpost Frostic and that it would be a good hobby (shared by the artist).

The last one, but certainly not least, was one I should have posted back after the super show. It's a sketch card by Lin Workman. The color is very vivid and I really appreciate that he took the time to do it as a surprise gift.

Upcoming Appearances:

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy first day of Autumn, Autumn!
We are entering my favorite time of year, Fall (any wonder the first Mouse Guard book takes place in that season?). It was three years ago that Julia and I adopted our dog, and since it was the first day of Autumn, we named her as such. We got her at a pet-adopt-a-thon at the Detroit Zoo (where my sister-in-law works). Autumn was a rescue from the west side of Michigan near Muskegon. After some research we found that she is an Anatolian Shepard. And the only breeder in MI is near there, so we wondered how she ended up at a rescue. Turns out, her bite (the way her teeth align) does not conform to the characteristics where she could be used to breed. But, their loss is our gain. She really is the best dog I have ever owned.

Baltimore Comic Con
This weekend (Sept 27th & 28th) I'll be at the Baltimore comic convention! I really enjoy this show, it's a nice size, not too big, not too small. As normal, I'll be signing, and doing doodles and I'll have free temporary tattoos. I'm also excited to have my new Convention banners dropped off to me from IMPhotographics. So if you are attending the show, stop by and see me and my new banners!

I was chatting with fellow-ASP creator A. Dave Lewis the other day about Michigan and our current state of affairs. He was asking me for a point of view from someone living and working in MI. We talked about the departure of the auto industry and how Michigan needs to move on and find other industries or revenue to welcome into the void left by the auto-evacuation (that is not to say I don't value the still producing auto jobs here, but it is unrealistic to think that the auto industry will ever boom here again like it did in the first half of the 20th century). One of the points that I always come to is that MI should be a vacation/tourism location. A. Dave was surprised by my statement and asked, "why?"
I could easily fill up an entire blog post explaining why, but I'll instead say that I never intend to leave MI as a home because everything I'll ever want is right here. It's why I based Mouse Guard's landscape and city names on the state I consider my playground. Michigan.org has been playing some awesome ads here to encourage MI travel, but I don't know if they are playing to a wider audience, but these ads give me goose bumps and say the types of things I think we should have been saying about our state for a decade (and all narrated by Michigan native Tim Allen). Here are the links to my personal favorites so far. The last link is the Michigan.org site with even more radio and TV ads.

House of Mystery:
After a convention where I met Bill Willingham face-to-face, I was offered one of the tale-within-a-tale stories in Vertigo's House of Mystery series. My story (written by Bill, artwork by me) will be in issue 7, due out on Nov. 5th. Here is a sample panel from pencils to final colors. I doubt I can say anything about the story..and by posting this I probably have already said too much.

Taun Taun:
I may get a chance to do a step-by-step drawing tutorial that appears on the StarWars.com kids site. Here is the final drawing that I colored of a smelly on the outside, even smellier on the inside winter mount. I'm a pretty big Star Wars fan (there have been a few SW references in Mouse Guard so far) and I was pretty geeked to get this opportunity. I'll post when/if the tutorial gets accepted and is posted.

Fan Art:
I have been hanging on to this fan art by Ryan 'invincifan' from the Comic Geek Speak forums. I found it again after reading this article on Newsarama where "Sheik Muhammad Munajid claimed the mouse is "one of Satan's soldiers" " and "warned that depictions of the creature in cartoons such as Tom and Jerry, and Disney's Mickey Mouse, had taught children that it was in fact loveable...that under Sharia (Islamic law), both household mice and their cartoon counterparts must be killed."

Saxon is a marked mouse......

Good thing my mice have weapons.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

From the Vault: Jesters

Old Friends:
A few weeks ago, I got together with two of my closest friends Mike Davis and Jesse Glenn. I have known Jesse since I was 11, and Mike since I was 13. They stood in my wedding, they are like brothers to me. It had been far too long since we were all sitting around a table, so we planned a game day. We played Risk, Settlers of Cattan, and Crononauts. I bring this up because I know how instrumental they were in getting Mouse Guard's ball rolling.

All three of us are artists and we spent all our spare time together playing role playing games and drawing and making up comics. Through the years we created things together and we created things alone that we only asked for critiques on. Mouse Guard I did alone, but added my dear friends as characters and asked for their opinions on my mousey world right from it's creation. Some of the ideas we never got around to really developing are ones that I still like to dust off and take a look back on. This is a long way of saying that I want to regularly some of those projects from ----

The Vault: Jesters
This time around, I took a look though the folder marked 'Jesters'. Jesters spawned from Halloween costumes Jesse made for he and I. We were invited to a party and needed quick costumes, we also knew we could get in 'free' if we dressed as some sort of clown and offered to serve drinks and tend the front door. After that party I thought we had the start of some fun characters. I named them Donovan and Jakeus (D for David/J for Jesse). The concept was to have two medieval adventurers/spies who were entrusted to know all the kings dealings and could easily get into other kingdoms under the disguise of being fools or jesters. My concepts were taken right from the costumes and our own likenesses.

Later Jesse started writing a very funny/witty script where the Jesters discover a plot against the king but are thrown in jail for arguing in public in a bar before they can do anything about it. My artwork was being heavily influenced by my admiration for Mike Mignola's work and Jesse never finished the script. I still think the concept has potential, but for now will remain in the vault.

A friend asked me to look at a scan that was sent to him to figure out why it looked odd. Turns out the person who scanned the artwork scanned it as a bitmap. Now I know a lot of tutorials and pros will tell you to only scan your linework for comics as a bitmap. For Mouse Guard I scan as greyscale and here's why. On a bitmap setting when a scanner is 'looking' at the artwork and it finds a 'grey area' it has to interpret it as either black or white. There are several methods it can use (usually settings you can adjust or set before you scan). I put together an example of a greyscale gradation and how the various settings effect it.

-Threshold: maps out large areas as either black or white. once the tone gets to light it's just pure white

-Pattern Dither: will try and stipple out a black and white uniform pattern in the pixels to simulate the gradation.

-Diffusion Dither: same as pattern dither, but in a random distribution rather than uniform

-Halftone Screen: uses a patterned shape that increases or decreases in size depending on the value of the tone it interprets.

while each of these have their uses [Threshold will simulate how an old copier would have made an image, Diffusion dither works well for sending photographs by fax if you have to, halfone screen can be used stylistically (look a McDonald's drink cup)] I prefer to scan in greyscale and the on a case-by-case basis adjust the levels (either with the levels tool or by dodging and burning in specific areas) myself.

Fan Art:
I was directed to this one by a friend. It's from an artist on Deviantart.com who goes by PlainYellowFox. I really like the attitude on both mice as well as the colors in the background!Nice Job PYF.

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