G A N Z E E R . T O D A Y


Pages scanned in and now is time for the digital component of producing my comix otherwise known as troubleshooting.

Seriously, machines hate me and never work exactly like they're supposed to at least not 100% of the time and particularly at those times when I need them to work most. Now is no exception.

#work #TheSolarGrid #Comix

Inks on current chapter finally complete, but it is not yet time to celebrate as there is still scanning, lettering, the addition of tones, and even color on a number of pages ahead of me. Battling cold for a couple days now with the aid of ramen, Irish coffee, and phenylephrine.

Youtube's algorithms decided to stream the Depp/Heard trial for my background listening, which has provided for some rather unexpected entertainment. The way each party attempts to portray themself as a saintly angel with the other being the monster is of course expected, but quite fascinating when the cross exams come into play and reveal otherwise. The entire fiasco is spawning a bajillion other biased “opinion clips” siding with one or the other, but watching the trial in its entirety rather than just the “highlights” reveals that both are quite terrible but Depp in particular is clearly very ill and quite possibly borderline psychotic. Genuinely flabbergasted by the strategy employed by him and his lawyers thus far, because all I'm seeing is a man digging deeper into what will inevitably become his own grave.

Attempting to get any work done today proving to be futile. Will instead read and think and laze around and swallow more meds in hopes of complete rejuvenation come tomorrow.

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Good gods, I've waited the better part of 7 years to draw this godforsaken panel. Would have loved to get to it while Steve was still among us. Though I'm not too sure how he would've felt about it. But I do hope he's cool with it now, wherever he is.

This, from Joe Biel's MAKE A ZINE, is new to me:

“Simultaneously in New York City, in a parallel world to the Beats, sci-fi fans, and West Coast hippie comix artists, was a teenager named John Holmstrom. Homstrom was a student at the School of Visual Arts who approached the dean and demanded a cartooning program. After his demand was met and world-famous cartoonists Harvey Kurtzman and Will Eisner were hired, Holmstrom dropped out and began working for Kurtzman and Eisner. Next Holmstrom did what any respectable twenty-something would”. He was, for the record, twenty-one. “In 1975 he created a national zine about the infant music movement that he and his friends were involved with.”

That zine was called PUNK, and as such christened the name that would be associated with the genre of music birthed out of that burgeoning scene.

“The inaugural issue featured an impulsive cover feature about The Ramones and a hilarious interview with Lou Reed.”

This connection between Punk and Comix—or Cartooning if you will—is new to me. In fact the connection is double pronged; Not only would the Kurtzman/Eisner-trained Holmstrom define the genre through his zine, but also through his later record-sleeve art for albums by The Ramones.

The connection is even stronger still, given that comicbooks themselves were birthed out of zine culture. After all, prior to the creation of Superman, Joe Schuster and Jerry Siegel produced two zines: TIME TRAVELER and SCIENCE FICTION. Superman himself was conceived as a science fiction strip, but after failing to get any interest from the newspaper syndicates (considered the “proper” gatekeepers of the medium at the time), their only viable option was to put the work out in what was thought to be the “less-sophisticated” comic-book form, published through a company that had only been around for a mere four years* with the bulk of its output penned by the guy who founded it, Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson who also wrote for the pulps (many of which shared their DNA with zine culture, especially compared to the more “professionally”-produced “slicks”).

Fast forward a few decades after Superman's National Periodical Publications becomes the biggest producer and distributor of comic-books across North America, three guys get together (Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko) and begin to put out one comic-book anthology after the next (the ideas of which all stem from science fiction) with far more personality and eccentricity than the cookie-cutter corporate stuff produced across the street and in so doing kick off “the Marvel Age of Comics”. What they created may not have been zines per se, but the approach to making the stuff had way more in common with zines than with the decision-by-committee method dominating comicbook corporations today, or heck National/DC at the time. Three dudes making shit up and interacting with their growing readers in the back pages? Sounds like a zine to me, with the single most significant difference being that they had the backing of a single financier who made his coin in the pulps.

A few years later, the underground comix movement would be kickstarted by Robert Crumb's legendary ZAP COMIX, sold on Haight/Ashbury out of a baby stroller. Most definitely a zine.

This inspires a 24-year old “hippie” in Milwaukee to start Kitchen Sink Press and publish other underground cartoonists before reviving Will Eisner's creator-owned THE SPIRIT and reintroducing it and its creator's pioneering genius to a whole new generation. (Eventually, the medium's most coveted award would be named after him.)

Five years later across the Atlantic, a music rag in London called SOUNDS (largely known for covering the rising punk scene) begins running a comicstrip by two art students: Peter Milligan and Brendan McCarthy. One of them would go on to leave his mark on America's two top comicbook corporations and the other would eventually end up co-creating MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. One year after Milligan and McCarthy's stint at SOUNDS, the magazine runs a strip by another young cartoonist by the name of Alan Moore.

One year later back in America, Francoise Mouly and Art Siegelman publish a comix anthology zine using a printing press set up in their residential loft. The hands-on approach to production allows them to experiment with binding, include stickers, and intentionally torn pages. They call it RAW and in its pages Spiegelman runs an odd-looking comix series about the holocaust that involves anthropomorphic animals. It is titled MAUS, and within 12 years becomes the first and only “graphic-novel” to win America's prestigious Pulitzer prize.

A couple years after RAW hits the scene, two Latino punks(!) out of southern California send their self-published zine to a comics journalism magazine (the majority of its content at the time written by the publisher himself) that literally started as an adzine. Hoping to get reviewed, they are instead offered a publishing deal, and LOVE & ROCKETS #1 is published and thus the mighty Fantagraphics is born (also, note the nod to sci-fi in “Love & Rockets”).

Two years later, a couple guys in New Hampshire get together and put out a very amateurish-looking black and white comicbook (practically a zine) filled with unhinged eccentric energy, evident even in the title: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES.

Two years after that a comicshop owner in Oregon starts a black and white comics anthology called DARK HORSE PRESENTS. Many years later, it's where Mike Mignola's HELLBOY and Frank Miller's SIN CITY make their first appearance.

Looking at the comix landscape today, it would seem that comicbooks are for the most part a corporate affair, the drive of which is purely capitalist with little to no substance. Examine history carefully though and it becomes evident that the DIY outsider energy we typically associate with zines and punk, combined with the visionary imagination we ascribe to science fiction, is what creates the special sauce that is the lifeblood of the comix medium.

(*) I lie a little, the history is somewhat more complex than that. Siegel and Shuster did indeed create strips for the Major's publications (Henri Duval, Doctor Occult, and Slam Bradley to name a few) but noticing Wheeler-Nicholson's shoestring operation and inability to make prompt payments, they decided to sit on Superman for a better opportunity, which came in an offer from M.C. Gaines and his plans to produce a weekly comics tabloid thing (so, closer in format to Sunday strips seen in the newspapers, considered the far more legitimate approach to engaging with the medium). Gaines' publication however never materialized, and he was approached by Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz who had bought Major Malcolm's operation and sought to utilize it with their hold on magazine distribution which they attained through mob and gang connections. They were planning to produce a new regular comic book and asked Gaines if he had any material for it. It was called ACTION COMICS, and the strip Gaines gave them was the first official installment of Superman (I say official because Siegel and Shuster had toyed with proto-Superman ideas well since high school, the first of which might have been the illustrated short story THE REIGN OF THE SUPERMAN published in issue #3 of their SCIENCE FICTION zine, circa January 1933).

#work #comix #TheSolarGrid #ComixEngine

Tell me you make comix but have a background in design without telling me you have a background in design, amiright?

Attempting to finish the last of inks on this chapter tonight (or over the weekend tops!), while taking short breaks every couple hours to think and daydream about the future of Mythomatic.

#work #comix #TheSolarGrid

Let it be remembered that this is the exact moment shooting lower back pain prompted me to move my adjustable side table near the window to draw on standing up.

That's how it works; each page becomes a record of the moment it was created in (at least as far as the creator is concerned). Case in point: the page in Chapter 1 I distinctively remember drawing under the influence of a migraine in the old downtown LA loft.

Aaaand, I just noticed a typo for the first time (7 years later).

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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!

#journal #work #TheSolarGrid #comix

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.

#Journal #Work #Comix #TheSolarGrid #Appearance