g a n z e e r . t o d a y

There is a panel—a single panel—in THE SOLAR GRID that has been the source of great agony for me. Since starting the book to this very day, I've only ever had to redraw a panel a handful of times. I'm usually good from the first go, but this panel here... it's been killing me. And if I show it to you now, there's no way you would possibly think a panel this simple could have possibly been reached by a jagged road of pain and suffering.

TSG, Ch5, P3

You see what I mean?

I shit you not, that panel there I'd left blank for the longest time, and would go off and do other pages and scenes, then come back to it, try my hand at it, kind of hate it, go off and do other pages and scenes and things, come back to it, try my hand at it again, fail again, repeat.

The reason being: well I hadn't adequately thought about which bits I really needed to focus on. I knew that I needed to depict the exchange of bags. That was the primary “action” taking place in the panel, but I also wanted to depict some more information. Chiefly, the logos on the back of those trench-coats, and also... the trench-coats themselves. The outfits worn by those two figures needed to be seen in clear juxtaposition to the less stylish, more downtrodden attire worn by the figure on the left (Falak). For the longest time, I was convinced we needed to see Falak from the rear just like the two other guys, to emphasize that—unlike them—his outfit featured no logo, and instead just the word “Earth” haphazardly scrawled on the back of his suit. However, any attempt at depicting him from behind made the the transaction of bags seem less obvious. Which was our primary reason for having this panel at all, remember?

Can't let the secondary purpose get in the way of the primary purpose. Especially given that we already see Falak's backside a couple chapters prior.

TSG, Ch3, P7

Those who will notice will. Those who won't will not, and that's okay; it won't disrupt the narrative. It's just a little detail that makes it better, but what will certainly disrupt the narrative is if they can't tell that there's an exchange of bags taking place.

At the end of the day, each line we put onto the page is an additional piece of information that is relayed to the reader, and it's important to be conscientious about what information we are putting out, especially with such a very finite amount of space to depict information to begin with.

I also wanted to depict that this transaction was taking place in a bar. Now, when you look at the resulting panel, you get that they're in a bar. But, it doesn't really capture the “baryness” of a bar, does it? There's no hustle and bustle, there's no backdrop with a bajillion types of liquour, no bartenders working their magic even, and for the longest time I was greedy about wanting to fit aaaaaalll that in. And in my attempts to do just that, I just failed really miserably.

Here's one very bad example:

This one is such a mess because the hierarchy of relevant information is so jacked up, that neither the primary, secondary, or tertiary purposes at all make it through. We can hardly tell that there's a transaction of bags, we can't really get a good look at the outfits or logos, and yes, we can see they're sat at a bar (that's probably the one thing we really get out of the panel in this case), but it's so zoomed out that its hard to tell what the point of focus ought to be. Is it the teardrop-shaped chandelier things? The hardly eligible signage? The pull-down liquor bottles?

The panel I ended up with does the job of communicating that we're at a bar adequately enough, especially when you take into consideration the context within which the panel exists:

TSG, Ch 5, P2-3

It's sometimes easy to forget that a comix panel doesn't exist in a vacuum. It exists in the context of not just the single page, but actually within the context of the double-page spread. And in this particular case, we can clearly get a sense of the bar and it's rowdy atmosphere without needing to jam it all in that one particular panel.

The page is the unit, not the panel.

Sometimes I just need to remind myself.

Another thing the struggle around this panel brought to the forefront for me was the importance of visual “cyphers”. I'll get to that in a future #ComixEngine.

#TheSolarGrid #ComixEngine #MakingComix #Work

All the Manga

There's this Japan segment in Chapter 5 of THE SOLAR GRID that I've been studying a bunch of Manga for. I'm not looking to emulate Manga superficially, not interested in the cliches of what manga style is thought to be (i.e. big eyes and speed-lines), but rather I'm looking to get into its essence. At the end of the day, it's still gonna be very much a Ganzeer comic, but Ganzeer after having soaked up some good Japanese sequential storytelling.

(Regarding that particular edition of Paul Pope's THE ONE TRICK RIP OFF pictured above; it includes a few shorts he did when he worked for Kodansha in Japan, hence it's inclusion in my manga study.)

Some of the rules I've extracted that I'm looking to apply: 1. Ample blank space on page edges, except for the occasional panel or two that extend into the bleeds. 2. Tighter vertical gutters. 3. 3-7 panels per page max. 4. Simple lines, minimal shadows. 5. Various zipatone, patterns, and textures. 6. Very detailed backgrounds and inanimate objects. 7. Simple, animated faces. 8. Big hand-lettered sound effects, even for subtle sounds. 9. Key dramatic moments: realistic rendering. 10. Action: Tilt gutters, show speed in lineart.

#ComixEngine #TheSolarGrid #Work

Praise all Gods, the imaginary and fictitious.

Both inboxes are at a reassuring zero. And, my workspaces are fully organized and ready to receive me and my [work] load head on.

Shall we take a little tour?

Let's start with the office:

The Office

The chair at the far end near the window? That's where I sit. Not to do any drawing (that's reserved for the drafting table in the foreground to your left), but to do all the other things; email, graphic design, writing, etc. You'll notice a narrow draw/erase board for weekly to-dos, right above a magnetic strip where I put up important future dates to keep in mind (deadlines, scheduled talks, travel, etc.).

When it's time to draw, I drag the chair to the drafting table, where nothing is in front of me but the drawing at hand:

Dafting Table

Focus is the name of the game. You'll notice a small rolling side table to the left. Typically, that's where I place only the tools I need for any given drawing, most of which are now placed on the shelf above the drafting table. What is on the table now is a small stack of some recently finished pages. I may have to find another place for those (Perhaps add a bottom shelf to the rolling table? Right above the wheels?).

You'll also notice a small magnetic strip above the drawing table, where I keep a few other tools I need to reach every now and again (sharpeners, nibs, erasers). And of course, the big HELLBOY ARTIST'S EDITION looming over me (Because Mignola is one of the greatest comix storytellers of all time and his work is to be studied for all eternity. I'm also considering getting Steranko's NICK FURY one, but... I oughtta sell a couple paintings first.).

Now you might ask; but Ganzeer? Where do you paint your large canvases and do your other odd artsy things?!?!

I'm glad you asked. It's been a while since I've been able to do that sort of thing with any level of comfort. Now, however, I have this:

Ganzeer's Garage

Welcome to the garage.

You'll see at the far end there's the pegboard and Craftsman thing where I keep a large number of tools pertaining to painting as well as handyman stuff. Next to it are my flatfiles where I keep my printmaking results as well as other works on paper. And above it is where many supplies pertaining to the making of that stuff is kept, as well as packaging and shipping supplies (to fulfill online orders with a degree of efficiency).

The table on wheels is of course very important (it was time to chuck out my trusty orange one, no wheels). The bookshelf is for books and comix and magazines as well as my own files (because frankly, there just ain't any room inside the house). I should also note that my bookshelf is... very full and I cannot under any circumstances acquire any new books without first getting rid of some (which means, I need to read my unread ones very quickly and decide on which ones I'm cool to let go of).

In the extreme foreground, to your left are a number of folding chairs (for myself as well as visitors). A couple boxes filled with used packing stuff that I should just go ahead and toss out. A little trolly there containing numerous painting supplies, and those tall boxes? One of them contains plain canvas, the other contains a half-finished painting I started in New York earlier in the year, and the third contains three paintings on canvas ready to ship out to their new owner.

The clothes rack? That's my makeshift solution to hang work-in-progress paintings and things. Current unfinished project dangling off the thing and jeering at me every time I walk in?

Ramy Essam's Jacket

Denim jacket for Ramy Essam's stage presence. It was once white, and now it's just stained. But soon enough... it will look entirely different. 😈

Future plans include installing a big sink (but... I oughtta sell a few paintings first). Gotta keep them brushes clean and you don't wanna mess up the sinks inside the house.

I quite like that I get to work out of a garage though. When the weather's good, I just roll the door wide open and it's like I'm practically working outside. I've never had a garage before, but that didn't keep me from naming my online store Garage.Ganzeer, which must've been some peculiar form of magical foreshadowing. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

#journal #houston #studio

The air is thick and humid today.

And it is just about starting to rain. Just a drizzle, nothing violent. It'll likely go on like this all day though. Generally speaking, I am not a fan of gray skies. I need to see the sun rise to start my day (standard Egyptian practice), but y'know what? It's warm in Houston; 22 Celsius (that's 71.6 Fahrenheit), so I will very gladly take it.

(Also, the sound of light drizzle is rather soothing.)

Work inbox is at a taunting 11. Personal inbox is at a threatening 349. As an inbox zeroer, this brings me great anguish. Luckily though, personal inbox is mostly filled with unread newsletters and notices (I clearly have no friends), messages I can just click away once I get around to it.

Still working on accounting stuff, which I am several months behind on. Feeling the pressure of the buildup of all the things I have to do once I'm done with that. At which point, there will be the buildup of other future things.

Kind of longing for the day when I no longer have to postpone any of the day's tasks till tomorrow or the day after.

I'll get there. Soon enough, I'll get there.

#Journal #Houston

Hectic times.

Playing catch-up with my accounting in preparation for tax-related paperwork which is absolutely no fun. I'm going to make it a point to get better and more efficient at this sort of thing over the next two years (which shouldn't be too hard given that I did go to business school and all).

It'll take me a few days to wrap up, alongside the assorted house things I need to do (few things to sand and paint, shelves to put up, etc.).

But even with all the non-artistic busyness, I have managed to get a handful of art things done...

That's one of two illustrations for an op-ed for Middle East Eye, which they retitled: The Fate of Egypt is with the People. That along with a number of other edits throughout the piece were all sound choices for journalistic purposes, but I might share my original unedited piece sometime down the line.

Here's the second illustration I did:

It was the first time for me to play around with water-color in many many years, and I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed it. This may be something I do more of in the near future. Maybe maybe combine it with digital in an intentionally juxtaposing way.

I also did a couple of posters for a friend's short films, and the cover art for one of Ramy Essam's forthcoming singles. Although I went in with a pretty solid idea in mind, it was the first time where I needed to do different takes of the same idea before settling on the one. I can't show it just yet, but I'm pretty excited by the results. The DNA of which will dictate the look for several other singles as well as the cover art for the album.

Ah, and WE ARE ALL THINGS now exists in the world.

In personal news, I've gotten into the habit of exercising regularly as well as adopting a keto diet. First week—as most anyone who's tried it will tell you—was rough as fuck, but since then I've never felt better in my life. I cook my own meals every day, and with the aid of an assortment of cookbooks, I have to boast: I've become quite the chef 😁 (I've gotten into the habit of sharing meals on my Instagram stories, btw.).

I've moved twice in the past 7ish months? With one of those moves being across states. Those who have dealt with moving before know that it results in quite a bit of upheaval. And it looks like there may very well be more turbulence in my near future.

But, I do have a feeling (hope) that it'll all be for the better. 🤞

(Also btw, I forgot to report that Ramy Essam and I were on NPR/Pri-The World with Marco Werman back in January.)


Today is a glorious day.

It's not that I've slept till noon, it's that I've lazied around till noon. I can't even remember when I last lazied around till noon. Sometime in my 20's maybe?

It is exactly 12:41 pm right now and I am just about having breakfast; Fuul Medammes, that is... Fava Beans prepared Egyptian style. I cooked up a humongous batch about a week ago (not even halfway through), and its such a great thing to have around, to quickly get a meal in.

One of the great things about Fuul Medammes is that it's very easy to avoid getting bored of, because its flavor profile can drastically change depending on how you spice it. And you spice it only before eating, post-cookage. You essentially just simmer a big batch of beans, sans spice, and have that around, and every time you decide to whip up a bowl, you can spice it quite differently from the next bowl.

Perhaps one day I oughtta make a little zine on all the possible variations of Fuul Medammes, from the most simple to the utmost elaborate.

Before breakfast, armed with my cup of coffee, I put in a large Amazon Fresh order. Two weeks worth of groceries to be precise. It should arrive within the next couple of hours, during which I'll be getting some laundry done, dishes, and some tidying up here and there.

Upon arrival of my groceries, I shall draft a menu of meals for the next couple of weeks, to save my brain juice from being depleted on thinking about food or any other chores for a while.

Because this week, I work 💪

#journal #houston

It wasn't my plan to disappear for a month.

In fact, my plan entailed the exact opposite: fully chronicling the tour with Ramy Essam (which ended up being more of an eye opening experience than I ever could have imagined), followed by the detailed chronicling of getting the newly acquired house (and studio) in order. The latter is something I thought wouldn't need more than two weeks at most.

I've been back in Houston since January 27th, and I shit you not all I've been doing since has been attempting to get the newly acquired house (and studio) in order, and I am still so not there yet.

One more week, I think. One more week and then everything should at least be in just about enough order that I can maintain a level of equilibrium that would allow for getting actual work done and back into a steady stream of online updates (not to mention reading, exercise, socializing, and y'know... life).

By the by, I'll be in New York again next month. March 26th to be precise, for the official launch (and signing) of WE ARE ALL THINGS at Printed Matter (231 11th Avenue, New York, NY 10001) together with Elliott Colla in a discussion moderated by none other than Molly Crabapple.

We Are All Things

The book (or chapbook rather) is available for pre-order right now, by the way, directly from our admirably print-obsessed publishers Radix Media.

The great Seth Tobocman had this to say about it: “We Are All Things is the perfect collaboration between an artist and a writer. Words and pictures combine to show us what cannot be seen and to tell us what must remain unspoken. A tiny room in a contemporary Arab city becomes the gateway to an infinite horizon. The universal experience of desire and loss. A small, but stunning, work of art.”

#journal #houston #nyc #work #publication

I realize it's a little ridiculous to wait till the day of an event before announcing it, but I have a very good explanation!

Van Life #VanLife

I've been touring with Ramy Essam and band along the East Coast with very little time left in the day for internetting. My bad, but hey if you just so happen to come across this now and there's still enough time to pop in, come through. We only just arrived in New York last night, and I only just about woke up this very second. I'll be painting live for 5 hours straight, and y'know, it's not a bad idea to get a good dose of shut-eye before pulling that sorta thing.

Ah, and the painting will be followed by a panel discussion!

If you'd like to RSVP, hit this link (while noting that you don't have to RSVP if you'd like to show up, but some folks are more organized than others. ¯_(ツ)_/¯)

#journal #work #nyc #BeyondResistance #WeAre

Writing this from DC where I begin touring with Ramy Essam and his band along the American East Coast. Which sounds a lot more extensive than the four cities it entails (DC, Philly, Pittsburgh, and New York). Here's the poster I designed for it:

Beyond Resistance 2020

I only arrived just last night in time for the first of Ramy's performances, and I've already been asked more than once what my involvement with the tour will be, and well... I'm not quite sure, nor is Ramy quite frankly. But prior to the tour, we had been talking about a lot of visual stuff. Tour posters and merch aside, we've been discussing album art for some of his upcoming releases as well as potential approaches for the making of music videos, and even a bit of fashion. This was all over the phone; What's App calls keeping us connected across continents, me in the States and Ramy in Sweden. He figured his being stateside for tour was probably a good opportunity for us to hang on a day-to-day basis and have the opportunity to discuss and brainstorm things in detail, and I had to agree. On top of that, I'd actually never seen Ramy perform before, not even during the tumultuous times of Tahrir Square some nine years ago—where Ramy first started performing. We were both aware of one another's activities but our paths only ever crossed several years later in New York City, after having both been forced into exile.

I'm not sure enough people—“Western observers” especially—realize the tremendous role played by Ramy, not just back then and not just in Egypt, but even today and from a significant distance no less. Here's one of his songs effectively utilized as a “weapon” on the rebellious front lines of Beirut just last night.

All this to say, it's kind of a no-brainer that Ramy and I would collab. Aside from my tagging along giving us the opportunity to talk lots of shop, I'm also utilizing it to draw inspiration for some of the visual stuff. I'm not sure how that will transpire exactly, but for now I'm enjoying getting a first hand look not just at the performances themselves, but all the lead-up stuff backstage as well as the wind-down that follows.

I'm also enjoying taking the occasional photograph.

The calm before the storm.

Rocking out the foyer of the Kennedy Center

It should be noted that last night's concert took place at the Kennedy Center, which is practically the United States most official performance venue in existence. To have Ramy and his band rock out at the Kennedy Center's foyer (non-ticketed, unavoidable to anyone walking to and from any other performance taking place in the building), shaking the walls and columns with Arabic rebel music is pretty fucking badass. Love that they opened with “Age of the Pimp.”

They killed it.

TIMEP's Mai El-Sadany peering right through Ramy.

Seated with Ramy in that last picture is TIMEP's very awesome Mai El-Sadany, who is clearly peering right through the man.

More soon.

#journal #travel #BeyondResistance #WashingtonDC #RamyEssam

Enter your email to subscribe to updates.