Wednesday, October 28, 2015

France -part two-

After those first three weeks I was able to really get some work going.  I would wake up at 7:00am have a little breakfast and sit down and start drawing.  I'd put an audiobook on and go until lunchtime, then about another hour of work until I had to lie down for an hour (sometimes even just 15 minutes was enough).  I made a makeshift nap nest in the studio using cushions from the couch and a spare pillow.  I'd get up ready to go and sit back down to work until dinner time (my dinner time was about 5pm, dinner time in France is usually at 8pm or later).  Watch an episode of Mr. Show on my ipod and then work until about midnight.  I had this schedule going all the days I wasn't heading into Bordeaux to hang out with Guillaume or Laura and Romain.  Here are the daily progress pics of the first page I finished in residency-

 When I look back to this page I think my subconscious was being a little overly dramatic. One might think I felt a little isolated and surrounded by monsters.  I promise you that was just CPG.  Here you can see how I was able to get such depth with brush hatching. Just different passes over and over with different angled line work. I wanted to get the background tone done before I really went in and darkened the critters. So I knew how dark to make them. 

The next stop on the La Fille Maudite book tour was Toulouse.  I had a talk at a library and then a book signing at a local comic shop Terres de Legende.  They did a great display in the window that I forgot to take a picture of.  They asked for any damaged copies of the book and then took out pages and strung them up.  I had one of the best meals of the entire residency after the signing.  They took me to a little restaurant kind of like a pub and I had foi gras for the first time.  It was THE BEST!  And they loaded me up with a bunch of free books!  The most unfortunate part of doing a post like this so far after the fact is I've forgotten a lot of the names of the people who helped me out so much :( I'm very sorry about that. There was a lovely lady who picked me up from the train station and was pretty much my chaperone the 2 days I was in Toulouse.  And the guy who ran Terre de Legende really reminded me of Curtis from Vault of Midnight.  A guy you really wanted to hang out with and have a beer.  I was able to roam about before my library talk and took a couple of pictures-

 After the trip to Toulouse I was counting down the days until Emily arrived.  At this point I had been in France for about 7 weeks I think.  Emily was coming and she was staying with me for 2 whole weeks, I was really excited!  I couldn't wait to show her around.  I made a practice run to the airport in my car just to make sure I'd be able to get there on the day with no problems.  She landed in Paris and missed the flight to Bordeaux, which isn't that hard to do since there was less than an hour layover and Charles De Gaulle airport is frickin enormous.

 The next book store signing planned was in Paris.  Emily and I took the train to Paris where we met Laura and she helped us navigate the Paris underground and got us to where we needed to be the two days we had in Paris.  She was amazing, we really wanted to see a bunch of things and she didn't flinch.  She took us to see the Louvre (only from the outside, we didn't have time to go in), Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and Shakespeare and Co. (the bookstore they used in the Highlander series, hee hee hee).  Paris was the most confusing city we visited on our stay and we couldn't have done it without Laura.  Comic shop signings at Librairie Super Heros and the second day at BD Net

Then we took a train from Paris to Rouen.  I had a book store signing at Au Grand Nulle Part. The owner met us at the train station and not only took us out to an amazing lunch at a wonderful restaurant but then took us on a short walking tour of his city.  Rouen was the one place Emily and I agreed we could move to.  It's a little like Ann Arbor meets Diagon Alley.  Here are a couple of pictures from there-

After the signing in Rouen we took the train back to Paris and then a train back to Bordeaux.  It took me awhile to learn the pathways of Bordeaux to the places I liked most.  Of those there was Mollat -the largest non chain bookstore in all of France, if I'm not mistaken.  The art supply shop, the Bio c' Bon -the organic super market, and the only place I could find peanut butter (it wasn't that great), and the movie theatre.  Before Emily showed up Romain and I went to a couple of movies.  Occasionally Laura had to go away for the weekend for her other editing job and Romain and I would meet for a beer and a movie.  Captain America Winter Soldier had just come out and I really wanted to see it.  They didn't dub it, they kept it in subtitles. Everything but when the bad guy on the ship in the beginning spoke French.  At that point everyone in the theatre chuckled, I thought he had said a joke, not that his expression said anything to that point.  Romain leaned over and explained- "that guy is Canadian".  

Next -part 3 Angouleme, Pau and goodbye to Bordeaux.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

My long overdue post about my time in France -part one-

So I know it's been a pretty long time since I came back from this trip but I just get overwhelmed with the idea of having to do things.  That and it's so much easier to just sit at my table and draw.

Well it started like this-  Guillaume Trouillard, the man in charge at Les Editions de la Cerise who publishes the French edition of CPG (known in France as La Fille Maudite du Capitaine Pirate) asked me if I would like to come to France for a couple of months.  I was stunned by the opportunity and didn't really believe it would happen.  Guillaume knew of a residency program and thought I had a good chance of getting in.  It turned out he was right.  I was offered a 10 week residency where I'd be staying in a small house in a city called Bassens, just outside of Bordeaux, I'd even have a car at my disposal.  It was through Chateau Brignon a group of educators using the comic arts to reach out to kids.  La Fille Maudite was coming out at pretty much the same time so Guillaume had also arranged for a bunch of signings in different cities and at a couple of festivals.  It was an amazing trip,  I made a bunch of lifelong friends there and I am constantly daydreaming on returning.

Here is what the two editions look like next to each other.  Cerise did a fantastic job!  Guillaume, Vincent and Laura came to pick me up from the airport in Bordeaux.  Vincent Perriot (a very notable artist in his own right and a good friend to Guillaume) had the car and Laura (the person I came to rely upon the most and whom I am very happy to call a true friend and who is an editor at La Cerise) spoke English fluently.  The picture just below is of Guillaume and Vincent on my first day in Bordeaux
 This picture (although from my second trip to France, at the end of the Angouleme festival this year) shows from left to right- Julien (another member of La Cerise), Guillaume, Laura and Vincent.  It's one of the rare times Laura let herself be photographed :) Here are 4/5ths of who I truly call my French family. The only person missing from this picture is Romain, wine and whiskey expert, my movie buddy and Laura's (more than just a-) boyfriend.
 I do not speak French, Emily and I are currently taking a French class at Schoolcraft College.  I had no problems interacting with people over there though.  For the most part everyone I came across spoke enough English that we could understand each other.  If not through words then gestures and actions.  I found everyone I came across extremely joyful and welcoming.

Anyway, Guillaume, Vincent and Laura drove me to my little house in Bassens and then took me to the Cerise Studio in Bordeaux.

These are pictures of where I stayed. That is my little white Renault that took me to the Super U to get groceries every week.  In the front yard there is a cherry tree that fruited while I stayed there.  I could walk out and pick cherries, at least until I discovered that the flies were also very familiar with my cherry tree and would lay eggs in the cherries :(
Here it is on my first day, still in bloom.  When I first arrived I had to share the house with the comic creator who had the residency just before mine for the weekend.  His name is Pierre Druilhe and although he said he didn't speak English well we still had a great time together.  Pierre is a great guy and a great comic creator.

Here are a couple of shots of the inside.  The living room where I watched a bunch of French reality tv and my little studio.  Most of the day I'd leave that window wide open.  There were a couple of times a cat would jump in and poke around a bit.  I gave him a spoonful of Biscoff cookie butter but I don't think he liked it very much, I set it outside and it took a couple of days before it vanished.

That first weekend was also the comic book festival in Carbon Blanc -Bulles en Hauts de Garonne- Pierre was signing there and Cerise had a table and advance copies of La Fille Maudite for me to sign.  After that weekend Pierre left and I had the place to myself.  The next weekend was the book festival in Bordeaux and Cerise had a table there too.  Escale Livre Bordeaux, this festival was much larger, it consisted of several different tents to accommodate different kinds of books.  There was a tent for BD (graphic novels), one for kids books and another for art, fiction, non-fiction.  The weekend after that there was a large BD festival in Aix en Provence and I was an invited guest.

The first photo up there is of a bunch of the artists/creators at the festival walking to dinner at the end of the first day.  Well this could've been of us walking to one of the gallery openings featuring one of the guests of the festival.  Art, appetizers and wine!  Then it was off to a very elaborate dinner.  Luckily I was able to tag along with a couple of fluent English speakers the whole weekend.  The second was one of the remarkable architectural elements I saw that weekend.  And the third was a shot of one of the very strange crustacean costumes that wandered around the festival streets.  I had a severe culture shock when it came to lunch at the show.  For many guests at shows here in the states it is a struggle to get a bite in during a show.  Many of us just try to cram things in in between signing and gabbing during a show.  During the shows in France however there would be a time when all the artists would just get up from their tables and go to lunch.  It was fantastic!  A wonderful catered buffet lunch for all the guests, including different types of dessert.  And of course wine :) After lunch you could go back to your table and sign more books, but only if you wanted to.  You could sign in at the beginning of the day and tell the show staff what hours you wanted to sign for.  They would mark it on a giant board to let people know when you'd be available.  I was not used to this so I just agreed to sign all day every day.  With an hour off for lunch of course.  The show staff was very supportive and really made me feel welcome.  I met artists from Korea, Spain and Germany as well as French artists.  I even gave in and danced the night away at the big party on Sat night.  Yep, danced until I had decided I was too sweaty and embarrassing to continue dancing.

That was the first 3 weeks, so I really didn't get much accomplished on the art end.  Except for the dozens of little dedicace drawings I did in peoples books.  One of the French phrases I became very familiar with was "c'est pour qui?" meaning "to whom is this for?"  I'd say 99.998% of people wanted personal dedications in their books.

Stay tuned for part two- Toulouse, Paris, Rouen and a step by step of the first page I finished in my little studio.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Cursed Pirate Girl chapter 4

I know a lot of people probably didn't think this would ever happen but, I have a new issue of Cursed Pirate Girl coming out in Oct.

I'd like to say thank you for everyone who has waited so very patiently.  Chapter 4, which Archaia/BOOM! has labeled Cursed Pirate Girl Annual no. 1 will be out 
in stores Oct. 14th. Here's a look at the cover-
This is a 54 page issue that answers some of the questions of Cursed Pirate Girl's history, introduces new characters and puts CPG on a treasure hunt.  There will be 2 more chapters and then a collected vol. 2 hardcover.  If you've seen me at a comic con you will have heard my spiel or sales pitch but if you haven't, here you go :) 

Cursed Pirate Girl is the story of an orphan girl who calls herself the Cursed Pirate Girl and the search for her father.  She knows he's a Pirate Captain of the mythical waters known as the Omerta Seas.  She finds her way to the Omertas guided by a talking parrot named PepperDice where she meets the Swordfish Brothers- Sir Haftu and Sir Halek who decide to chaperone her on the quest to find her father.  Together they go from pirate ship to pirate ship trying to figure out which one is her father's and why she was abandoned in the first place.  The book is drawn at actual print size, so when you open it up what you see is exactly the same size as the original art.  It is not reduced.  I pencil it out pretty thoroughly and then I ink it with a size 00 brush.

I wrote the story of Cursed Pirate Girl as a 6 chapter story.  The blue book that Archaia published collects the first 3 chapters that were published individually through Olympian Publishing.  Chapter 1 was self published in 2006 and then reprinted through Olympian in April of 2009.
  Olympian then went on to publish chapter 2 in June of 2009 and chapter 3 in October of 2009. 
 Then we raised printing costs for a soft cover trade collection on Kickstarter.  Here is the link for that video and the campaign.  It was pretty successful.  Tom Negovan, the man behind Olympian Publishing and Century Guild, wanted to concentrate on furthering my art career and wanted to pass on the book publishing end to another company.  We discussed all the indie publishers and ultimately I decided on Archaia.  I was very impressed with their artistic direction, they go an extra mile or two in making something that is more of an art piece than just a book. 

I was actually originally signed with Archaia pre-Olympian publishing.  Before I even met Tom and shortly after I self published that first issue I talked with Mark Smylie at Archaia and he said he would like to publish CPG.  At the time though Mark only wanted to publish full color books.  So I went back and colored the first two chapters in photoshop.  It was difficult for me because 1- I'm not a great colorist, and 2- I really wanted it to be black and white.  I met Tom and he made me an offer I couldn't refuse, a chance to publish the book the way I wanted to and a way to sustain myself financially that I could afford to put the time into the book it really deserved.  Unfortunately for my audience it means you have to wait a couple of years in between chapters because I have gotten used to a certain personal standard in my work that is impossible to adjust.  But hey, in like another 10 years the complete story will be done and hopefully have been out there for a couple of years :)

Friday, February 28, 2014

I'm going to France

Well here's a blog post to out do my last blog post.  2013 was a pretty busy year, did a lot of shows and sold a bunch of books.  It certainly was nice to have books to sell.  I know we sold out of books at C2E2 and New York.  I hope we can do it again this year because I'm still working on book 1 of volume 2.  I'm hoping to be able to put that out in 2015.  This year will be dedicated to finishing that first book (there will be three books making up vol. 2) and beginning book two.  I think that can happen!  WOOOO!  I just finished a page yesterday (page 35 of book 1) that I spent about 40 hours on just stippling the background of the border.  You know how much I love borders.  It's really difficult not posting everything I complete.  I spend so much time on these pages but I can't share them because I don't want to spoil the experience when you open the book.  I do occasionally share tid bits through twitter or instagram but those pieces are tiny fractions of what I am creating for this next book.  I really can't wait to see what you all think. 

I will be starting page 36 in France.  Not the story line, CPG doesn't just magically turn up in France.  I'm going to France for two months.  Through the aide of my French publisher Les Editions de la Cerise (there's supposed to be a little mark over the E in Editions, but I've never been able to figure out how to do that on a keyboard, I'm technically hopeless) I have been accepted into the Chateau Brignon passage a l'art.  So I will be leaving for Bordeaux Mar. 26th and then traveling to Carbon Blanc where I will be staying and won't be returning until May 30th.  My amazing and kind publisher Guillaume has a bunch of places he wants to take me to while I'm there.  The French edition of the book will be coming out April 10th I've been told, so I will be doing some book store signings as well.  Here is what the French edition will look like-

I am extremely proud of what Les Editions de la Cerise has done with the book.  The whole thing looks really cool.  I thought it'd be difficult with all the type I put into the artwork itself, but they did a great job.  It will not have a couple of things the Archaia version does but it will also have a couple of things that the Archaia did not.  I can't wait to bring one of these home with me.  :) 

The first three weekends I'm going to be there I will be attending comic festivals, something I've always wanted to do.  I've attended plenty of shows here and one in Canada but the "European Comics Festival" has always seemed to me to be one of the pinnacles of this industry.  As is having your book translated into a different language.  These are the things the 15 year old me never dreamed possible as I copied Marc Silvestri Uncanny X-Men just hoping to be good enough one day to draw for DC, Marvel, Image or Dark Horse.  The idea I could write something that someone else would want to publish let alone across the ocean would have been laughable to that high school freshman.  I'm extremely excited and terrified for this epic adventure.  Needless to say I do not speak French.  Thankfully Emily will be coming along for a good portion of it.  She's aiming to spend about two and a half weeks there with me. 

The comic festivals I will be attending are
Carbon Blanc  Mar. 29th & 30th Bulles en Hauts de Garonne 
Bordeaux  April 4th - 6th Escales du livres
Aix en Provence  April 11th - 13th Rencontres du 9e Art

I'm actually on a list for that last one! 

I'm planning on doing up a special print specifically for my appearances there.  I will post the whole process as I go.  At least I hope I will.  It will depend on how frantic the rest of this upcoming month is.  There is so much I have to try to get accomplished.  For example- just bought a new iPod Classic for this trip but I'm still running on Mac OS X 10.5.8, so that needs to get updated and our internet connection really sucks.  As well as trying to get health insurance and doing my taxes.  Yay. 

On a different note, I have submitted some pieces to Spectrum to be judged tomorrow.  This is a first for me, I've been a fan of the book for years.  I've just never thought to try to get in.  Here is one of the pieces I submitted.  If you follow me on Instagram or saw me at a comic con last year you will have already seen this and maybe some of the progress on it.  I call it "Sounding of the Horn". 

I will have it available as a tea stained print at all the shows I have scheduled for this year and it is available on my webstore, I will also be putting up some con sketch commissions on my store starting tomorrow.  I will be missing out on a lot of shows at the beginning of the season and I need some funds for this expedition.  They will be on tea stained stock as before but I'm asking $200 a piece.   You will be able to buy them directly from the store.  No need for emails.  All you have to do is let me know what you would like in the comments.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

London in t-minus 23 days

Yes, I am very honored to be a guest at the London Super Comic Con next month!  Here's a link to their site.  I have never been overseas before so this is going to be very exciting.   Emily and I are planning on staying through til the following weekend.  So we get about a week of sightseeing in.  The one place I'm really looking forward to visiting is Portsmouth and climbing all over the HMS Victory.  This will be the first convention I will have the hardcover Archaia edition of Cursed Pirate Girl available at.  I hope I've  some fans over there, I know I've mailed con sketches to England and Norway before so there is a chance.  The fine folks who put on the show asked me to contribute to their program book so I finished up a piece I was originally trying to have completed for the LA gallery show.  They have already posted the winner of the original on their FaceBook page so I guess I can post it here.  I am also using this as a new display poster for the show.

In other news, I have opened an online store.  Now everyone who cannot make it out to one of the few conventions I have on my schedule can still purchase a print.  I have all the tea stained prints I produce for shows available as well as the plushy Pook the Tarantula doll.  There will be more in the near future.  Here's the link to the store

Aaaaand speaking of the Archaia hard cover... I walked into a Barnes and Noble the other night, and regardless of what my wife says I didn't plan the trip just to look for this, but, I did see this little fellah on the top shelf.  It made my night.  So I thought I'd share this pic with you as well.

So thank you everyone who has purchased a copy of it, I owe you all so much.  Sorry it will be so long until you get more.  I am happy to report that I'm nearly half way done with the next issue and I think you will be quite pleased with it.  There's so much more going on in this next one. :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Back from LA

So this past weekend was a dream come true.  I had my first gallery show, and people actually showed up! :)  It was held in the new Century Guild Gallery in Culver City and will be up until the end of next weekend so there is still some time to go see some original pages from the book as well as some other pieces Tom picked out for the show including the enormous CPG piece I did for the Kickstarter campaign.  I was really bad about taking pictures during the event, I sort of didn't take any... heh heh... but, Tom took a bunch before the show of the gallery and in one shot you can see the exhibit from across the room.  I'm working on trying to get more pics of the show and maybe of some of the pieces hanging there.  In the mean time check out Tom's gallery he put up on Face Book.  And here is a page just for the opening  that might have some more pictures you can check out too. 

We asked Archaia if they could get us advance copies of the book and they were able to fly in 100 of them.  I created a special limited bookplate and spent a whole day putting them in each copy myself.  We had to alter the original image I did for it due to them being letter pressed, which really means Tom had to zoom in to something like 800% to erase a bunch of stippled dots.  I heard it was a bunch of fun.  So here's the original image and the finished bookplate.

You really have to see it in person though.  The indent of the linework on that really nice cardstock is quite impressive.  Tom even made up bookmarks to give away with each copy.  I took a bunch home but he didn't give me tassels, I will have tassels soon though.  Oh, if you want to see the machine the bookplates were made on here is a link to them being made.  I guess there is a really nice letterpress shop just down the block from the gallery. 

I was also fortunate to be interviewed by about the book and the show, here's a link to that.  And an interview for Newsarama here.  It's great to see so many people as excited about this as I am.  I am so thankful so many people came out to the show, it really gets me excited to work on new stuff.  Thank you, thank you everyone who came out to show your support, I will keep striving to create strange new things for your entertainment... and mine of course. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

gearing up for the end of conventions and a BOOK RELEASE PARTY!!!

So I sent out a whole bunch of con sketches last week and I've opened the list for yet another convention this weekend.  But, it is the last convention of the year (for me at least).  So here are some of the many sketches I had left over from New York and Detroit.

I will be taking a considerably smaller number of sketches for the NC Comicon this upcoming weekend.  So if you like what you see here you can email me at  All these pieces you see here were commissioned from me at $100 per.

I will say this, I find doing convention sketches much easier when I am able to do what ever I would like.  It's easier to pick something strange out of my mind than to come up with a pose for a character that has been drawn hundreds of times before.  I am not saying I refuse to do Marvel character A or Wildstorm character B, but you will get something more personal and original if I'm left to my own machinations.  I don't know if you can relate to how difficult it is to draw a character that one- you are totally unfamiliar with and/or don't care about and two- you know that if you do a lackluster job on, will decimate the client who loves said character.  It's your money and I will do my best for whatever you would like. 

Thank you for indulging my whiny side for a bit. Now for some really cool news.
 This Dec. 1st at the new Century Guild Gallery at 6150 Washington Blvd. in Culver City, CA. 90232
We will be having a book release party/ art exhibit for Cursed Pirate Girl vol. one. Here's a link to their blog post.  And I've been told there will be a couple of the pages from the next issue for people to take a gander at.  I'm extremely excited about this, I received a copy of the hard cover from the Archaia offices in LA and I'm very happy with how it turned out.  I hope you will be too.  To make the show a bit more exclusive (besides the fact that you will be able to get the book before anyone else in the country) I just finished a bookplate that will be printed in a quantity of only 100 and these will be going into all the books we were able to get for the show.  Here's a sneak peak of the bookplate (I will prepost a blog post showing it in it's entirety for Dec. 1st so you can still check it out when others do)

The fantastically crazy folk of Century Guild are also cooking up something else for the show, we will see if it is indeed completed in time.  If not though there might be something really cool you will be able to purchase for that certain CPG fan, for the up and coming holiday season. :)

Oh and I forgot to post this-
Happy Holidays indeed!