Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sting Me

I've been hanging out at The Hive , over on the Buzzscope forum. It's the brainchild of writer/editor/moose in the closet Jason Rodriguez. Jason is the spark that has given ignition to some very interesting discussions about comics, their format, and their market possibilities. It's an ongoing series of topics that concern the quest to get comics out of the current direct market ghetto, that has become the dysfunctional norm of the comic "industry", and get them into the hands people that don't normally buy comics. The topics will range from format to distribution to marketing to whatever else needs to be talked about.

In fact, there is a thread about business cards that I'm finding very helpful. I've got this card (to the right) that I've been using for a few years but is in need of an update. There has been some great suggestions as to how my card can be improved. I'm always open to more suggestions.......

Anyway, Jason's doing a great job and if you are looking for some interesting conversation, please drop by The Hive and add your voice to the collective!

Last post's title was a song title from:
The Grand Illusion by Styx

Contrary to popular belief, Styx had some great songs besides Mr. Roboto and Babe. This is one of them. Actually, the album has a number of great tracks on it.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Grand Illusion

Here's a new Empty Chamber page for your viewing pleasure. This page has something I almost never use..... speed lines.

For a long time, they seemed like a cheat to me. I viewed them as a quick way to fill in the negative space and, thus, skimp on drawing backgrounds. I understood that, with proper use, they can convey the illusion of movement..... but they still felt like a cheat. They have their place in the language of comic book iconography. The thing is, it's only just recently that I started to feel comfortable with using them in my work.

And they make drawing pages faster!

Last post's title was a song title from:
The Politics of Dancing by Re-Flex

The politics of dancing
The politics of ooo feeling good
The politics of moving
Is this message understood

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Politics Of Dancing

Canada elected a new Prime Minister this Monday. The Liberals, who have been the country's controlling government for the past 12 years, were defeated by the Conservative Party. The Conservatives managed to obtain a minority government with 124 of the 308 seats that exist in our Parliament. So that means, Stephen Harper, the Conservative leader, will be our 22nd Prime Minister. Great.

I'm not a very political person, generally. I tend to keep my distance from politics as I think of most politicians as people with their own self interests in mind as they attempt to wrestle power from the opposition, whether from the rival party or their very own. Having said that, no Federal election I've taken part in has made me more nervous about where the newly elected Government is going to take my country. Maybe to Iran?

See, if Mr. Harper and his Consevratives were in power when America went to war in Iraq, Canada would be in there, too. Harper fully supported the Bush administration and their "evidence" of Saddam's WMD program. He heavily criticized the Liberal leader, Paul Martin, for not throwing in with our American neighbours.

Now, I read that the Bush administration might be interested in going into Iran and their WMD program....... I hope our troops have packed their sunscreen.

Last post's title was a song title from:
Blondes Have More Fun by Rod Stewart

This was when Rod was done for me.

But, my Grandma loves this song!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?

I've been working hard on getting some Empty Chamber pages finished up. This is a page I just finished inking. I'm really happy with it, which is something I don't say very often. This page got a bit of a rewrite, as a new plot point was added, and became a little sexier. Can you guess where?

Anyway, I'm pushing on to the next page and, hopefully, I'll like it as much as I like this one.

Last post's title was a song title from:
Talking Book by Stevie Wonder

When you believe in things that you don't understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain't the way.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


There is only one superstition I really subscribe to and that's the good old "knock on wood" gambit.

See, I've been trying very hard not to mention hockey in my blog postings lately as both me and my Atlanta Thrashers are on a bit of a roll right now. I wouldn't want to say anything to jinx us so I'll let the image at the right speak for Atlanta's current situation. It's a snap shot of the Eastern Conference standings (as of tonight's unfortunate lost to Los Angeles). There is still a lot of hockey to play before I can really get excited but it's still a thrill to be in the playoff race past the midway point of the season.

I'll just leave it at that, yes?

Oh yeah...... knock on wood!

Last post's title was a song title from:
Every Picture Tells A Story by Rod Stewart

A classic album from start to finish. This was Rod at the top of his game. If you only know Stewart in his "Do You Think I'm Sexy" phase and onward, you really don't know how much Rod kicked ass.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Every Picture Tells A Story

Wow. It's been almost a week since my last update! Sorry about that folks. Life has been rather hectic around the ol'Copland homestead..... I'm still fighting my Christmas cold, I've played a few hockey games, we're getting the downstairs set up for Stewart's play area, attending family dinners, hanging with Stew and Jackie, watching Arrested Development and, of course, drawing. Anyway, you've got me now so........

I got my latest shipment, from DCBS, last Friday! Here's what was waiting within it's corrugated cardboard confines:

* Robotika #1
* Lone and Level Sands HC
* Elk's Run #4
* Eisner/Miller TP
* Following Cerebus #6
* Cerebus VOL 16 THE LAST DAY TP
* Smoke TP
* What If Daredevil......
* What If Thor......

I haven't had time to really cut into this stuff (see today's opening paragraph) but I've been working my way through the Eisner/Miller book, here and there. It's an interesting slice of conversation between two comic book legends. There was one particular part that caught my attention. They were discussing their enjoyment of drawing. Both agreed that as they worked through the steps of creating a book, from roughs to pencils to inks, it became more and more fun. It's the inking that is the most enjoyable, and rewarding, part of drawing comics, for them. Miller and Eisner believe that tight pencils are the worst thing a comic artist can do for his page. The pencils should leave room for the artist to draw with ink. The pencils should not just be lines existing to be traced.

This is the fence I'm balancing on. I need to make the inking part of drawing more fun to do. I pencil these tight pages and leave very little in the way of creative room for the inking. The inking has become a chore. Unfortunately, I can't start loosening up right now. I need to finish Empty Chamber first before I can change my working process. But, once EC is complete, I'm going to open up my pencils and let the ink tell some of the story. I imagine I will still try to keep it tight (old dogs and all that)..... just not as tight. Try not to worry too much, Kel.....

Anyway, I'll let you know what I think of some of these unread books as I get the chance to read them.

Last post's title was a song title from:
Eliminator by ZZ Top

Twenty year old turkey in a thirty year old tin.
I can't wait until tomorrow and thaw one out again, oh yeah.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

TV Dinners

For Christmas, Jackie and I received the first two seasons of Arrested Development, on DVD. It was the perfect gift! We had managed to catch an episode here and there, when we used to watch TV. It was very seldom that we would see concurrent shows, which made it hard to get some of the jokes that came from a previous show's set up. Although, they do do a good job of re-capping so that we could be able to "get" the humor. Anyway, we just finished the first season and starting the second season. We are loving it.

I also got a gift certificate for Future Shop and I picked up the first and second seasons of NewsRadio on DVD. This is one of my favorite TV shows of all time. Dave Foley was just coming off his very successful run on The Kids In The Hall, a Canadian sketch comedy show, and the lovable Phil Hartman was at the top of his comedic game. If fact, the whole cast, even Joe Rogan of Fear Factor "fame", were excellent.

Why, oh, why aren't there more hours in a day?

Last post's title was a song title from:
Long Player by The Faces

This was when Rod Stewart was rockin'! The Faces started as the Small Faces, but with the addition of Stewart and Ronnie Wood, both fairly tall individuals, they dropped the "Small" part of their name. In 1975, Rod would end up going solo and Ronnie would join the Rolling Stones.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Had Me A Real Good Time

I'd like to thank my lovely wife, Jackie, for her most excellent post on Wednesday!
Hopefully, Dave Gibbons won't hold her scathing criticism of his butch women against her!

With the New Year here, it's time to look back and give a shout out to the top 10 comics of 2005, in my opinion. They might be ongoing series, mini-series, one-shots, Graphic Novels, anthologies, .... whatever. But, they are the books that really made me glad I read them.

So, without further ado..... here they are..... drum roll, please..... is this thing on.....? ahem....

#10. Trigger - I was probably one of 82 people that read this series. The book's life was cut short ( 8 issues total) due to lack of interest from the comic buying public. Too bad. It had a cool Bladerunner-esque feel to it. The art, at times, looked as though it wasn't inked, keeping a penciled feel to it. A nice experiment that didn't find its' audience in time to survive. I'm sure you can find some issues in the quarter bins. If you do, check them out.

# 9. Strangers in Paradise - What can I say about this series that hasn't been written before? Terry Moore has been entertaining me for years now with his characters and their strange comings and goings. His art is as expressive as his plot twists are...... twisty. I will admit that the last few issues are feeling a little forced. But, I think I heard a rumour that Mr. Moore is going to end the series soon and this might be his way of getting to the ending he has planned.

# 8. BPRD - Guy Davis is one talented mo-fo. If I can't have more Marquis stories, then there is no better set of kooky characters for Davis to illustrate than the cast of BPRD. I love his sense of design and his use of line (hey, that rhymed!). The tales are well crafted but it's my love for Guy's art that places this title on my list. In Guy Davis, Mignola has chosen wisely. That last line was spoken in my best Yoda voice......

# 7. Wolverine - I tend to stay away from the superhero comics, nowadays. And, I usually roll my eyes when I hear about the latest "exciting" event that is going to "change the status quo.... FOREVER!". But, Mark Millar, John Romita JR and Klaus Janson made me a Wolverine fan for their collective run. The "Enemy of the State" arc was one of the best Wolverine tales I've ever read. I checked my brain at the door and went along for the ride. Bravo, gents!

# 6. Digital Webbing Presents - This indie anthology book has heart. You can feel the creators' love in each and every page. While not every story hits the mark for me, there is always something new and entertaining waiting within. In fact, two of my new favourite comic book characters debuted in DWP issues that were released this year, Fist of Justice and The Last Paladin. I love these characters. So it should go without saying that I'm REALLY looking forward to the Fist of Justice/Last Paladin crossover that is coming in 2006!

# 5. Walking Dead - I will say, right off the top, that I'm one of those Walking Dead readers that kinda wishes Tony Moore never left the book. His work was the main reason I picked up the first issue. And while I was/am not really a "horror" kind of guy when it comes to my pop culture (I did enjoy the original Dawn of the Dead when I saw it as a wee lad), Robert Kirkman managed to hook me in. And Charlie Adlard, Moore's replacement, does very good work.... I like it.....it's just.... ah forget it.

# 4. Godland - I mentioned this book in my last post. I never expected to like this very much. I admit I got caught up in some of the hype surrounding this book. Word of mouth got me to pick up the first issue. The quality of the book got me to keep buying new issues. The art is "Kirby-esque", to say the least, but Scoili manages to make it his own, somehow. Joe Casey must be having a ball writing this. I can feel the love on every page.

# 3. Solo # 3 - This was the Paul Pope issue of the critically acclaimed series, Solo. From the OMAC origin "re-envisioning" to the Greek mythology based tale, "The Problem in Knossos", to the Dynamic Duo "Teenage Sidekick" yarn, this book ROCKS. Hard. I can't wait for the new Batman series Pope is working on. It's going to be sooooo yummy!

# 2. The Question - Tommy Lee Edwards is a very talented artist. The work I've seen from him has always impressed me. For The Question mini-series, Mr. Edwards seriously raised his game to the next level. I couldn't even read it the first time I opened issue #1. The art was all I could see. This is, indeed, the best-drawn book of the year (of the books that I read, of course). Plus, the story was compelling ..... which is cool considering I know absolutely nothing about the character and was worried I wouldn't be able to get into it.

# 1. Olympus - I did a quick shout out to this book here. I really loved this book. It plays into my love of Greek mythology and my admiration for Butch Guice's art. The story was fun, too. I also love that this was released as an original graphic novel and not a mini-series. I don't think the comic industry is strong enough to support a lot of OGN's but I applaud DC/Humanoids for having the guts to do just that. I love sitting down and reading a sizable new tale from start to finish. Which is another reason for my "wait for the trade" way of thinking that I'm starting to embrace.

Honourable Mentions: these are the books that would have been competing for a spot on my list if they had had more issues released in 2005. They may very well end up on my 2006 list!

Elk's Run
The Perhapanauts
Fear Agent
Doomed magazine
Shaolin Cowboy

Last post's title was a song title from:
It'll Shine When It Shines by The Ozark Mountain Daredevils

The Ozark Mountain whats?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Jackie Blue

Favourite Comic Reads for 2005
Hi I’m Jason’s wife, Jackie. I like to read a lot of books, and lately I have been delving into Jason’s comic book shelves as I have been running low on novels. And since I tend to be up at about 4am having a snack (breastfeeding makes you hungry all the time) I have some time to read.

Here are the favourite comics I read this year!

Honourable Mention: Western Tales of Terror #4.

Of course I had to read this! To tell you the truth though, I am not a fan of the short story. Either in regular prose or comic books, I find short stories very unrewarding to read. The writers always seem to be first setting up the story and then trying to trick the reader with a twist ending. Or leaving so much unsaid at the end that I kind of want to ask for my money back. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?! I always want to shout, but not in a good way. Anyway, I loved Jason’s art, and I always get a kick out of seeing his final work put in print with words, and finally seeing the story all together. I see the pages in progress but I never read his scripts, so often I am kind of inventing in my mind what the story is about as he is drawing. So it’s always fun to see the final put together.

#5: Concrete, Short Stories 1990-1995 – Paul Chadwick

This is just a short collection of Concrete stories, and I quite enjoy them. He is a little too preachy at times about saving the Earth and whatnot, but since my politics and sensibilities run along the same lines it doesn’t bug me too much. I was confused a bit at one point when he was talking about some of the bad President George Bush has done for the environment, before I realized he was talking about that first Bush, not the current one. Funny how the apple didn’t fall too far from the shrub in that family. Anyway, I love the last story in this collection where he (as the artist/creator) writes himself into the story and interacts with Concrete – basically fulfilling the characters deepest fantasies for a short while, since he has complete control over Concrete’s life.

#4: The Watchmen – Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons

This was a re-read for me, I think I read it for the first time about 5 years ago. It’s a good story, with a reality where superheroes were a part of real life and then they fell out of favour. There was a bit of a tickle to my conspiracy theory funny bone when reading it this time… in the story one of the characters (Veidt) creates a horrible monster that he drops on New York, killing millions of people – and this act unifies the world and brings peace to Earth. Kind of strange if you believe at all the possibility that 9/11 was orchestrated to unite Americans and make them support a trillion dollar war machine.

One comment on the art in this book: this guy cannot draw women. They are all ugly with man-hands.

#3: Strangers in Paradise – Terry Moore – Issues 1 to 70-ish

I read SIP issues as they came out for a while, but it just wasn’t working for me this way. I am a story person – I read a lot of novels and love a good story. I do look at the art but it doesn’t hold the same appeal to me as it does to Jason. That being said though, my exposure to comics is mostly only ones that he brings home for himself, which are pre-screened for art I suppose!

But I digress a bit. A typical comic book issue is way too short for me. Not enough happens. By the time the next one comes out I have forgotten what I read in the last issue. This really happened with SIP – with 6 weeks between issues, and the constant jumping of timelines I got totally lost. So I gave up. This spring I read them all again starting at #1 and straight through to the current issue at the time (#70?). I really enjoyed it much more this way! I actually understood what was going on!

I like the story, and he does such an amazing job of bringing Francine and all her insecurities to life. He combines great realism and dealing with real issues… with the gritty edge of intrigue, murder, conspiracy, etc. I was pregnant at the time that I was reading all these, and the issue where she found out the baby had died inside her… well I pretty much lost it. Very gripping. I enjoy the way he portrays so many strong women.

Anyway, the only bad thing about reading them all is that the story isn’t done, and I’ve already forgotten everything. So once it is done totally, I will start over and read them all the way through again.

#2: Nothingface – Kel Nuttal

I really enjoyed this! As a new Mom who loves sleep just about more than anything else I was amazed that I couldn’t put this down and had to stay up late to read it all. Very interesting character that I am really looking forward to learning more about and following along on more adventures with. The art by Yildiray Cinar is really good too, the chaos of his life and his ‘affliction’ are portrayed really well.

#1: Lone Wolf and Cub – Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima – entire story (volumes 1-28)

Another series I tried to read issue by issue but had to wait for it all to end before I read it all through. I really didn’t get this when I started it the first time, I think I read up to about volume 9 as they were being released in the small format books. Somehow I missed the entire overall plot of the books – I would forget the ongoing themes and just read each issue as an independent story.

It makes much more sense when read in its entirety. A very interesting read and an enlightening look at Japanese culture in the Eto period. Ogami Diagoro is being raised in such a way that you wonder if he has any choice in the path that he is on… he lives and acts the way he does only because he knows no other way… it makes me feel sorry for him, yet I don’t know if you’re supposed to get that out of the story. Just a Mother’s view I guess.

Anyway, the art is amazing, he does some really good blood splatters. I like the way he changes his style at times, suddenly a watercolour style is used here and there in the book when the mood is right. His drawings of sword fights get skimmed over by me sometimes (as I am always drawn to the story, I tend to go through pages without words very quickly) and then I would have to go back and look and figure out what was going on. I liked that it made me do that, and I couldn’t just be lazy and skip to the talking parts.

What I am looking forward to reading this year:

Colossus – I really liked this the first time around, and now apparently it is coming out again with extra stuff. Yay!

Lone and Level Sands – this is on its way to us in its new colourized, hardcover version, so I am looking forward to having a read

Empty Chamber – of course!

Last post's title was a song title from:
Last Splash by The Breeders

The side project of Kim Deal's that became her main project when the Pixies called it quits. This was the second album from them. A solid listen.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year

Happy New Year!

Can you believe it? Another year has come and gone. And what a year it was! Not only did I get to work with the talented Mr. Stuart Moore ( current Firestorm writer) on an 8 page story for Hoarse & Buggy's WESTERN TALES OF TERROR..... it was also the year I became a father!

It's been an unbelievable 5 1/2 months since Stewart's birth. From the scary feeling of holding a fragile new born infant to the joy of watching that same child, months later, learning to roll over and sit up, fatherhood is a wondrous and rewarding thing. There is nothing more special than the excited wiggle he does when he sees me for the first time in the morning. Just thinking about it makes me smile.....

I want to thank my wife, Jackie, for all the hard work, support and love she gives to Stewart and I. It's been over 10 years since she's been in my life and I love her more deeply every day. She is a truly amazing woman.

Speaking of Jackie, I will be handing over the No Quarter reins to her for a day, sometime next week, so she can tell you about the comics she's been into this past year. See..... not only does Jackie like the music group Yes and know that Peter Gabriel was in Genesis, she also likes comic books! Ah, be still my beating heart.....

I will be putting together my top 10 comics of 2005, shortly, so stay tuned!

Wishing you and yours a healthy and happy New Year!

Last post's title was a song title from:
Blue by Joni Mitchell

If you like Sarah McLachlan, you will love this Joni Mitchell album. The record contains Joni's own version of the song "This Flight Tonight" which became a major hit for the band, Nazareth.