Monday, April 28, 2008
Here's another image that might seem familiar to anyone who's visited my Facebook account, where it has served some time as my avatar. Hermes, the jack-of-all-trades of Olympus, has always been my favorite god. Despite having more responsibilities than any other member of the pantheon, one never got the feeling that he took himself too seriously. Hermes only has a cameo appearance in the last panels of Zeus, but he plays a pretty large supporting role in Grey-Eyed Goddess. Any reader of mythology will know that Hermes and Athena are the two great patrons of heroes and that partnership will be spotlighted throughout The Olympians.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Figured I'd give everyone a break from all of the gods and goddesses that have dominated my sketching lately and share this little New Yorker-type cartoon. For those who never saw it, this is the winning cartoon from the Leonard Lopate Show contest that eventually led to my recent interview. At the time, Leonard suggested that the caption should be shortened to simply "Next time, their place" and darn it if he wasn't right.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
This just started out as a doodle on the subway. I was going to New York Comic Con and drew it in my "signing pen", which I normally don't draw with, but I'm pretty pleased with the result.
Unlike most of the Olympians, Ares is most often described in some unflattering and downright scary ways (which makes sense, since he was the god of the savage bloodlust of war, as opposed to Athena, who represented the strategic approach to battle). One of his memorable Homeric epithets was Miaiphonos, which translates as "blood-stained" or "blood-dripping". Homer also describes his eyes, burning like fire, peering out from behind his bronze helmet. There's the inspirations for this piece.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
What happened? How did it go? What questions were asked? Did I say any dirty words on the air? What did I do to Leonard that they needed special guest host Julie Burstein to fill in? Find out below....
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
I was a guest-blogger on First Second's awesome blog a while back when Journey into Mohawk Country first came out. Click here to see a whole bunch of sketches and prep work I did while researching the book. Just scroll past the bizarre Zombie comic at the top of the page.
Monday, April 14, 2008
If you're sitting around the house this Thursday, April 17th, at around 1 pm, wondering what to do for some excitement now that another tax season has come and gone, well, have I got some plans for you. Tune your radio to either FM 93.9 or AM 820 to hear the dulcet, yet nasally tones of yours truly as I am a guest on the world-famous Leonard Lopate show! I'll be talking about my graphic novel Journey into Mohawk Country, and I'll be joined by Mr. Charles Gehring, the man who translated Harmen van den Boagaert's diary from the Dutch. If you find yourself situated outside of the listening area, or are just wired at heart, the Leonard Lopate show can also be heard as an MP3 or streaming audio at wnyc.org.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
While designing the appearances of the various gods as they will appear in The Olympians I had the hardest time by far figuring out Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love. She had to look stunning, even by perfect goddess standards, and at the same time have a air of danger about her. She's so beautiful that even the gods couldn't behave themselves around her. That's why, as soon as she stepped from the foam, Zeus married her off to Hephaistos; that way, at least if she was "off the market", so to speak, it would minimize the conflicts between the immortals.
For the longest time I couldn't get the design of Aphrodite to work, and eventually I came to realize that the problem was that I was drawing her as a blonde. Which is funny, when you consider that no less an authority than Botticelli, painter of probably the most famous image ever of Venus/Aphrodite envisioned her with brown hair. She was a mediterranean beauty whom even the ancient Greeks believed came from somewhere out of the far east. In other words, probably not blonde. Once my version became a brunette with olive skin everything fell into place.
After all that work, Aphrodite only makes a one-paneled, unnamed cameo appearance in Zeus. She plays a somewhat larger role in Grey Eyed Goddess, but her real chance to shine is a few books down the line.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Even though I've had this book for about a week, I only read it just yesterday and I can't get it out of my head. I'm hesitant to give away too much of the plot: suffice it to say it concerns a family (dad Louis, mom Lise, and son Joachim) who live an idyllic existence in some unnamed land, until, one day, three mysterious figures (the titular shadows) appear on the periphery of their property. These figures evoke a sense of dread in the family, and soon it becomes apparent that they are there for little Joachim.
Cyril Pedrosa, the author and illustrator, worked on such Disney films as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Hercules, and some of that is evident in his striking black-and-white artwork. If you're Disney-phobic, though, don't let that scare you off; there's not a cute fuzzy bunny or anthropomorphized animal in sight. It' a beautifully illustrated book, and definitely worth multiple reads.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Pages 3 and 4. Lotsa little clues beginning to appear, but the thing I'm most proud of is on page 3, where I've worked an Evil Dead reference into my second straight children's picture book.
Finishing out this preview sequence are pages 5 and 6. Page 5 is one of my two favorite pages in the book, with the narrator running down his list of possible reasons why someone wouldn't want to be photographed. It's very six-years-old, and , I should say, very me. Page six contains my obligatory self-portrait (with the lovely Arta), as well as a few cameos by some pop-culture icons.
Who's behind the door? Well, the book is called Uncle Bigfoot. The next page is a big foldout, revealing the titular Uncle Bernie in all his hirsute glory. I'd show you here, but certain mysterious forces who don't want you to know would, like, get me. Totally.
Well, if you can call 5 voters "the masses"... Anyway, in my poll to decide what to do about my old header image we had two votes for replacing replacing the old picture immediately, another two for artfully cropping the old picture to eliminate the, uh, disturbing element, and one for Eli Whitney (I confess, that last one was mine). So with a dead tie between the only real votes, I have decided to completely revamp the blog image and title, 'cause this blog aint no democracy. Hope you dig it.
Here's the pretty Medusa I was mentioning earlier (well, prettier). Like I said, I want to make her a more sympathetic character, and not just some monster who goes around turning people into statues. Does anyone know how Medusa got to be all ugly and snake-haired? Well, you will after reading Grey-Eyed Goddess. You'll learn why I see her as a tragic figure.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
So what we have here is my first attempt at coloring the page from Zeus I posted up a few days ago. The big guy is the Titan Kronos, Zeus' dad. Zeus is the little guy getting eaten, while his mom Rhea looks on, distraught. And you thought your family had problems...
Actually the page is not 100% complete yet. I'll still be tweaking it here and there, and I still need to color in the plant that falls from Zeus' waistband in panels 3 and 4; I'll probably replace this image when I finish that. Aside from that, what do you think?
Thursday, April 3, 2008
So, the other day, I dropped by the ol' Daily Bugle building (in reality, home to First Second Books) and afterwards, as I often will do, I poked my head into the nearby Forbidden Planet comic store. A pleasant surprise was awaiting me there in the form of a new collection/graphic novel by Jaime Hernandez.
This was really unexpected because I hadn't even heard of this one coming out. Jaime Hernandez is, in my opinion, one of the two best draftsmen working in comics today. His stories are maybe not everyone's cup of tea ( I have been positively evangelical in trying to get First Seconder's hooked, to no avail so far) but there's no denying the brilliance of his art and composition. I recommend checking it out. Not for kids.
A little portrait of that foxiest of foxy ladies, Medusa. I'll be telling her tragic story in Grey-Eyed Goddess, the second book in my The Olympians series. I'm trying to portray her as something of a sympathetic figure rather than just the one-note fearsome monster (Not that you can tell from this drawing). Arta's been after me to draw a "pretty" Medusa; I'm going to have to do that.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
A very appropriate shelf date for a book about Bigfoot. My newest picture book explores that situation we all found ourselves in at some point in our lives, when some never-before-seen visitor arrived at your door and you're told they're your uncle/cousin/second cousin, what-have-you. Uncle Bigfoot explores the idea that, what if, instead of being a thrice divorced plumber with a gambling problem from Michigan, your mysterious relative were something a little... different.
Available wherever fine books are sold, beginning April 1st. Seriously.