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Comix

Original art boards for THE SOLAR GRID #1's print edition cover:

The composition of the entire thing is very much informed by the underlying grid I have in place, which gives the entire wraparound cover its balance, with room for the “cover dress” anticipated from the get go, since it was actually “designed” before I even conceived of any of the cover art (see posts from Aug 30, 2020 and Sep. 1, 20202).

I will happily employ digital aids where necessary, while relying on traditional techniques where it matters, and I think it shows with how I approached this cover art.

Take for example the Safety First guys lined up behind Sharif Algebri. Poses all identical, could have drawn just the one and copied and pasted the rest in photoshop, but I knew the small unintentional variations in lineart would lend a kind of quiet dynamism to the final illustration, which I felt would be necessary for what is ostensibly a very “still” cover.

The newspaper text that kinda blends in with the lineart there. Again, another thing that would've been a real time-saver to do on my computer, but... if you look at the printed cover, you'll notice that bit of text sits rather closeish to all the “proper” typography of the cover dress.

A good way to differentiate the cover dress's typography from any other typography is to employ an entirely different “medium” in its creation, hence opting to go the hand-drawn-with-ink-on-paper route for the typographic elements that are essentially part of the cover illustration.

For the poster behind the feline figure, I decided to go ahead and print a miniature poster and paste it right on the board. This to give it a real pasted-up feel, which you can see affected the mark-making around its edges. And also, you see the little bits of poster illustration that are coming through the ink strokes for the cat fur? You can't see it so clearly in the final printed product, but you do see something, and it almost makes you want to scratch it off to see what's under. It's an effect you can't quite draw with any intentionality, and is purely the result of analogue “collaging”.

The fade on Mehret within the gun smoke was done digitally, because digitally does it better.

Same for the benday gradient taking up the bottom half of the cover and the shopping cart icon on the bottom left-hand corner of the front cover. As well as the Skyquench towers behind Algebri because they needed to be extra clean, accurate, and identical, like contemporary architectural blueprints. And also white, all of which Adobe Illustrator does better than analog.

Here are the boards compared to the final printed product.

I draw on 11”x17” Bristol Boards, but the comix themselves are printed at 6”x9”, smaller than the traditional comic but I've always imagined it that way. Makes for a handier, more intimate read, and not out of place with most other books of fiction on the shelf, with 6'x9' being the most common standard. Both the level of detail in the art as well as amount of text per page account for this size difference.

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Also, in the back of same journal, where I utilized a bunch of pages for working out some TSG stuff:

Rough cover art/design for the printed edition of THE SOLAR GRID #1. Here it is alongside the actual produced version:

Pretty close.

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After a few days of thick impenetrable air, the skies have finally opened up this morning and the sun shines through. Though I am inside with two TSG pages worth of inks on the docket for today.

I am however resolved to step outside with a book at some point, and maybe even fit in some exercise and a visit to my chiropractor (it's been a couple weeks, not cool).

I need to get into the habit of treating my day the way I would a physical space. Like say, a closet or piece of luggage. It has a very particular capacity. Stuff it too much, and it just won't work.

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Six years and some 250 pages later and I'm still on my bullshit.

In the final 30% stretch though, so edging closer to finishing this godforsaken project.

Off to New York tomorrow. Buncha things to do there, but compared to the amount of busy I've been lately, it's the closest I'll be getting to unwinding for a while.

Also, excited to be making a public appearance at Desert Island in Brooklyn on July 29th, 6-8pm. It'll be the first in-person public thing I've done in long long time!

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When I was a little boy I couldn't get enough comicbooks, this was before I could even read. Thanks primarily to my older brother who was an avid reader of the things, along with sci-fi and fantasy paperbacks and Dungeons & Dragons catalogues. I would just stare at the artwork of these things, unable to understand the stories but my imagination would make up its own conclusions and assumptions based entirely on the stunning art. The first burning desire I remember ever having in this world is being able to read, just to understand the seemingly magnificent tales depicted by the artwork of these comix and paperback covers. The second burning desire I ever remember having is wanting to make those things.

Eventually, I'd manage to fulfill that first desire and unlock the ability to read and understand those stories, some living up to whatever I imagined, some surpassing it, and some... well not so much. As time progressed I would acquire new desires; getting to know girls, painting murals, showing my art in museums, so on and so forth. And indeed many of these desires I would end up fulfilling, but the second desire I remember ever having in this here earthly existence? Yeah, not yet.

But now it seems like fulfilling that desire is inching closer to reality; I'm now working on the last 30% of my epic 400+ page sci-fi graphic novel! Earlier chapters of which are being released in single issues as we speak! And in less than 2 weeks time, I'll be doing my first ever comicbook signing!!

This is such a big deal to me. I'm filled with all kinds of feels that are difficult to describe. Also, I've heard much lore of the legendary Desert Island in Brooklyn where the signing is to take place, and I really can't wait to check it out and [likely] discover a few gems that have probably escaped my radar.

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Looks like my plate is rather full well until spring 2022 maybe, hence the radio silence for almost two weeks now. “Ganzeer.Today” my ass, amiright?

Had quite a bit of calendering to do to make sure everything is accurately scheduled and planned so I can hit all the necessary milestones for the various projects exactly when they need to. I do like to plan for a little leeway, and there's some of that but not as much as I typically like.

THE SOLAR GRID is moving along, currently inking Ch.6 (issue #7 in the print editions) at a rate of about 1 page every 2-3 days, which isn't too too bad considering the other projects I'm juggling (all of which are awesome and I'm terribly excited about, announcements for which will be forthcoming).

Issue #4 drop July 21 and it features what may just be my favorite cover art to date:

There are a couple TSG events in the works; a real live in-person one when I'm in New York in a few weeks, and a pretty awesome virtual one slated for August, fingers cross on both. More deets later pending confirmations.

(Pictured top is a scene from THE SOLAR GRID #7)

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Don't know why I thought I could ink this double-page opener in a single day. Here I am 3 days later. The lighting is a bit tricky, because I have three sources in an otherwise very dark location, and I'm just figuring it out in inks as I go. Here's hoping I finally nail it today.

In other THE SOLAR GRID related news, I did a Twitter video-thread on TSG #2 which came out in print last month.

Also also, I'm doing a live video thing today on Booklyn's Youtube Channel called “My Favorite Book”. 5:50pm CST.

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Not sure when I'll even get a chance to properly go through them, but here are some of the wonderous finds I made in London's bookshops, [absolutely essential!] research material for Chapter 7 (issue #8) of THE SOLAR GRID.

Those in addition to REBELS AGAINS THE FUTURE by Kirkpatrick Sale make up the research for that single chapter! (and a bit of Ch.8/Iss.#9). Probably not entirely necessary. Could've cheated my way through the thing, but I do believe all this research material will add much authenticity to the installment.

Sale's book is in fact wholly essential to THE SOLAR GRID's development in a weird very indirect way. You wouldn't know it if you've read both, but I know it and I like to wear my influences on my sleeve. I hadn't heard of Sale prior to picking up the book some 3 years ago, but I was interested in his subject matter. Interestingly enough, Sale's name came up a few months ago in a pretty fascinating story in Wired. Truth be told, he comes off as a bit of a dick, but I will nevertheless owe him a great deal for writing that book.

In related news, today sees the print release of THE SOLAR GRID #3!

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Pencils down on the last page of THE SOLAR GRID, CH. 6 (issue #7) with just one day to spare for travel prep.

Couldda swore I wrote and posted this already but I may have just forgotten to hit the “publish” button. Anyway, chapter has clocked in at 34 pages, not including backmatter. Further work on the thing (inking, lettering, etc.) will have to be put on hold until I return (downside of doing everything yourself), with my time abroad better put towards things that can better be done on the move. Namely:

  • Thumbnailing next chapter.
  • Scripting a short comix thing (let's codename this one PROJECT ELLISON).
  • Sketching out ideas for a poster project (codenamed PROJECT MORROW).
  • Accounting, eugh.

As per the UK's requirements, had to get tested today and booked London-based tests for day 2 and 8 from arrival. I think I'm supposed to do another one before my return flight to the states. It feels like the entire trip will revolve around a bunch of lab tests.

Not complaining though! It's not like I've been anywhere in, oh I dunno, 12,000 years.

Question is: Do I bring my camera? Do I bring a book? Too ambitious? Clearly very rusty when it comes to this whole travel thing. First time with child too.

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Pencils down on the last page of THE SOLAR GRID, CH. 6 (issue #7), which leaves me exactly one day to prep for travel. There was a time when I was a kind of superuser at this sort of thing, but after over a year of the plague I need to remember efficient packing again. And there's the addition of child into the equation and I have zero experience traveling with children.

Rest of work on this chapter will be put on hiatus for the next few weeks, during which I'll focus on a handful of tasks that lend themselves more easily to being done on the move. Namely:

  • Thumbnailing next chapter.
  • Scripting a short comix thing (Let's codename this one: PROJECT ELLISON)
  • Brainstorming/sketching for a poster project (Codename: PROJECT TOMORROW)
  • Accounting, eugh.

Webshop is closed in the meantime. One more thing I have to do tomorrow is give a virtual talk for a design class in Berlin.

Is it too ambitious to bring a book along?

Probably.

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