Friday
Sep142012

Sketchbook Strip #1

BSS Logo

When I’m out and about working on Blink, people who take a look at my original art often comment on the detailed nature of my work. “How long did that take you? It must have taken forever.” Well, sometimes, it seems that way. It usually takes me anywhere from 10 to 15 hours to draw a single page of Blink. Sometimes it’s less, but when you factor in all the time spent writing, sketching, drawing the layout, then getting to the final pencils and inks, and then scanning, clean-up, tones, digital lettering… 10 to 15 hours might be a conservative estimate. I’m sure you’ll notice that I don’t do very many online updates on the progress of the book. I’d like to, but I’m way too much of a perfectionist and sort of want to show off stuff from the finished product. (I’m only about a third of the way done with the second chapter of So It Goes).

On Monday, I thought about a way to keep Blink in the eye of the reading public. Every so often, I come up with (or overhear) little ideas for quips, insights or whatever that my Blink characters can say. But it’s stuff that’d be more apt for a comic strip, rather than a graphic novel. I’ve done Blink comic strips in the past, but I approached those more like mini-comic pages of the comic book, rather than simple comic strips. That meant that each strip took me a looong time to create. If I was going to go back to making a Blink comic strip, I’d need to keep it simple so that I can stay focused on the ongoing (and time consuming) creation of the graphic novel.

And so, I have developed the Blink Sketchbook Strip. The first one took me all of an hour and a half to write, draw, scan and clean-up. Nothing fancy. Nothing time-consuming. Just a simple comic strip. It’s a challenge for me to keep it this simple, but if I want to do this thing on a weekly basis (which is my plan), then I cannot spend much time on it. I also can’t let myself worry about whether it’s good or bad. I can’t get caught up in details and I just need to do it.

So here it is--

Wednesday
May302012

Make Art. And Make It Good.

Yesterday, I celebrated another year around the Sun.  Thanks to all those who wished me well via Facebook, Phone and In Person).

To celebrate the day of my birth, I did one of my very favorite things to do: I made comics. I began working on the final art for the second chapter of BLINK: So It Goes.  (I'll be sure to post samples of the work as I go along.) Afterward, I reflected on the time I've spent on this fine Earth and what I have accomplished thus far.  I'd like to think that I've done okay.

This morning, I happened upon ZEN PENCILS (via the BuzzFeed website) which is a web comic by Australian illustrator, Gavin Aung Than.  Gavin turns inspirational quotes by wise/ intelligent/ compassionate people into wise/ intelligent/ compassionate and inspirational comics.

The comic that drew me to his site adapted a bit from Neil Gaiman's commencement address at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. After reading it, I followed Gavin's advice and stopped what I was doing and watched it.     And then I read it.  It's damned good.  (Cripes, it's Neil Gaiman! Of course it's good!)

And now, I'll stop futzing around online and follow Neil's advice (there's plenty to be had) and make a few mistakes ("...make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes...") and I will Make Good Art.

Friday
Apr202012

`Round the world and home again, that’s the sailor’s way…

Phew.

After months and months (or years and years, depending on the context), I am FINALLY done with “Wonka Wonka Kochalka” (chapter one of Blink: So It Goes). Oh, sure, the art and story for the book has been done since the end of February. And the Gallery Show has been hung at Wild Goose Creative since the beginning of March. And the book has been printed since the end of March. But the last bit of creative energy was spent on that (seemingly) Everlasting Gobstopper of a comic yesterday afternoon. 

I have spent the past two weeks with my ass glued to the seat, writing and rewriting commentary and formatting and reformatting and search through my many many sketchbooks and selecting sketches and notes to be included in the book, Behind Sketchbook Cover [Color Copy] copyBehind The Sketchbook: The Making of Wonka Wonka Kochalka. My goal was to have it completed before SPACE, and that goal has been achieved. This “comic book commentary” book is also the last bit of creative work that I needed to get done in order to fulfill my  Kickstarter Campaign rewards. (I still have about a half dozen personalized drawings to do, but that’s another matter entirely—creatively speaking, that is).

So, what is Behind The Sketchbook?

It is what it says: a history of the making of “Wonka Wonka Kochalka.” It’s 40 pages of sketches and notes dating back to the creation of Blink herself (I start the whole thing off with the very first sketch of Blink from April 10, 2003) and then I ramble on and on with a very detailed account of what went into making the “Wonka” comic. From the very first inkling of the idea (it all began with a sketch dated February 24, 2004 with Blink reading a book and saying “Mm. Dreamy Kochalka”) until the bittersweet end, eight years later in 2012 (almost to the day).

Here are a few pages from the book:

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 I know this kind of detailed history of a single comic book isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Maybe some die-hard Blink readers will buy it, I don’t know. I don’t care. I’ve been living with “Wonka” so long, I just had to get it all out of my system and this was the best way for me to do that.

And now it’s done.

But before I sign off from this post, I’m going to reprint what I wrote yesterday. It’s the last bit of commentary that appears in the book and I think it’s a nice send off to a story that’s been a long-time coming.

 

 “From The Beginning...”

Whew.

I am so glad to be done with writing this Behind The Sketchbook book! Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that I did it. The time and effort it took to put this “comic book commentary” together was totally worth it. Over the months it took to write and draw the “Wonka Wonka Kochalka” comic in 2011, I would tell people that the story had been knocking around in my sketchbook for years before. But I never felt that I was able to fully get my point across as to how much work I had already put into this story. How many years I struggled with a concept that had never been published—because it was never quite good enough and never meant to be published—until now. Now, this chapter of Blink is done and I can move on to the next one—the next chapter in the story of Blink (the character, compared to the story of Blink, the comic book).

Ugh.

I really can't stand writing this non-fiction, essay-type stuff. I try my best to be honest and true. Both to myself and the reader.

But I'm always worried about getting my facts wrong. Worried that the words I'm using are wrong. Worried the grammar's wrong. Worried the punctuation is wrong. (Thanks English teachers!) Worried that I'm being too loquacious and overstating my opinion. Worried that I'm missing some important tidbit of information that prevents my point from being crystal clear to the reader. Worried about... nothing.

I'm far more at ease writing fiction: slipping on the persona of some character I created and speaking through them.

But over the years of writing and drawing Blink, Sam and Hank, as I've gotten to know them through the dozen or so stories I've managed to complete and publish, through the hundreds of sketches and notes and...conversations I've had with them in my many many sketchbooks, I've come to accept that they have voices of their own and they speak through me. They have their own truths which they hold dear to themselves. And now with Kevin, Joshua and Amy, and a whole slew of new characters that will appear in the Blink graphic novels to come, there are more voices that will be heard.

More opinions to be expressed.

More truths to be revealed.

More honesty to be shared.

More sparks to be given life.

In the pages of a comic book.

Sunday
Apr012012

Imagining Reality Into Existence

 

I drew the image on the left in the Summer of last year (and I didn't even ask to have the gallery exhibit at Wild Goose until October). The photo on the right was taken two days ago at the Blink "Wonka Wonka Kochalka" Book Release Party.

Last year, it was mearly a fancy, and with diligent work, perseverence and the help of others, that dream became a reality. 

Oh! And check out this keen article about me an' Blink at The Other Paper. (Now, with less snark!) (Seriously though... in spite of the typical snarky/snide attitude T.O.P. has, they've always been very kind to me and Blink.)

Thursday
Mar292012

Blink + Star Wars = Awesome

Blink, Sam & Hank drawn by me, all paints by Matthew Swift

Of course, totally ripping off the master, Tom Chantrell. Prints available VERY soon!!!  

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