Tag Archives: comics

Bad Things 4

After letting this sketch sit awhile, I’ve decided I need to rework it. The content of the dialogue is a drastic shorthand of what’s in each chapter of Job—as if I tried to reduce each chapter to a single 140-character Tweet. So it more or less follows along with the book. All four characters say pretty much what they say in the Bible. But…it doesn’t feel right yet. It needs something. The conversation doesn’t lead up to a climax.

I’m not sure what I need to do.

job.04sk

Zophar, so good!

More from my Book of Job project—a sketch of Job’s pal Zophar who came to comfort Job in his hour of need. Job sits in a dung heap and scrapes at his loathsome boils with a potsherd (a piece of broken pottery), while he wonders where it all went wrong.

Bad Things 3

Yet another sketch from the Book of Job comic I’m working on.

Even after being afflicted with horrible, disgusting, festering boils, Job refuses to curse God. He tears his robe, shaves his head and goes to sit in the ash-heap—taking a piece of broken pottery to scrape himself with.

Ezekiel

ezek72dpiHere it is, the fourth in my series (actually Ezekiel comes 3rd in the Bible) of Major Prophets of the Old Testament. Boiling down Ezekiel to a one-page cartoon took longer than I’d expected. As with all the prophets, he uses lots of visual imagery to make his messages memorable. There was tons of material that I left out, as when God charges Ezekiel to prophesy by commanding him to eat a scroll.

Would you like fries with that?

Would you like fries with that?

The Book of Ezekiel can be divided into three sections: God’s judgment of Israel, God’s judgment of Israel’s neighbor nations, and prophecies of better days ahead for Israel. The Chosen People have surely tried God’s patience—but before we gloat, let’s take a look at our own behavior! The words of Ezekiel and his pals aren’t merely for those long-ago times.

(Side note on vocabulary: PROPHECY/PROPHESY. “Prophecy,” the noun, (pronounced “PROF-a-see”) is a prediction. The verb “to prophesy” (pronounced “PROF-a-sigh”) means to predict something. When a prophet prophesies he or she utters prophecies.)

Of course, the big show-stopping image is Ezekiel’s vision of the wheel. This was the most fun to draw and I hope I stuck pretty closely to the biblical description. It is definitely the weirdest image in the Bible. I was tempted at first to make it a UFO but decided that would be too cheap a gag. I gave the human form enthroned atop the whole contraption a touch of John Steuart Curry’s John Brown.

A passage worth mentioning is Chapter 17, where the eagle plants a seed. It deals with God’s anger that a king of Israel broke his word to a Babylonian king—an enemy of Israel. How about that? Even though this Babylonian king is an enemy of God’s people, he must be dealt with honestly. The Jewish king’s covenant is an extension of God’s covenant. Each of us has a responsibility to behave with integrity no matter whom we deal with.

The last image I drew promises that David will be set up as the shepherd over God’s sheep. It’s possibly another foretelling from the prophets of Jesus’ coming. The evangelist Matthew begins his gospel with Jesus’ family tree showing that He descended from King David.

What did I forget? Oh, yeah—The Valley of Dry Bones! It’s the other big visual that Ezekiel is most remembered for. An entire valley of dried-up old bones brought back to life. How about some music? Here are the Delta Rhythm Boys singing Dem Bones. You want some more? Here are The Charioteers singing Ezekiel Saw The Wheel. Satan wears number 11 shoes. Yessir, I do love that old-time gospel music.

Now you know everything you need to about the Major Prophets. With your fund of Major Prophet info, you certainly will be the life of every party.

UPDATE—I’ve mentioned old-time gospel groups elsewhere on this blog. I should point out I first heard them and jazz groups from the same era on Rich Conaty’s radio show The Big Broadcast. Swing over and listen—and if you have a couple of extra samolians, drop something in the tip jar. Thanks!

Big, big news!

Sorry I haven’t been posting much here in recent months. I’ve been working on a top-secret project. The good news is: today I can tell you about it! I’m launching a webcomic, called Gloriana. It takes place in the 1500s and will feature lots of swordfighting, pirates, wizards…you get the picture.

Please stop by, and if you like it, subscribe. You’ll get an e-mail every time I post a new page of the story.

Trouble in the Poconos

I was sure sorry to read about this—it looks like Frank Frazetta’s kid tried to burgle the gallery.

Asterix le Gaulois is 50 years old!

Nous sommes en 50 avant Jèsus-Christ.  Toute la Gaule est occupèe par les Romains…Toute?  Non!  Un village peuple d’irrèductibles Gaulois rèsiste encore et toujours à l’envahisseur.  Et la vie n’est pas facile pour les garnisons de lègionnaires romains des camps retranchès de Babaorum, Aquarium, Laudanum et Petitbonum…

50 B.C.  All Gaul is occupied by the Romans.  All?  No!…One small village of indomitable Gauls still holds out against the invaders.  And life is not easy for the Roman legionaries who garrison the fortified camps of Totorum, Aquarium, Laudanum and Compendium…

AsterixObelix

Asterix, a Gaulish warrior and his pal, Obelix are the two main characters in this little village.  Written by the late Rene Goscinny and drawn by Albert Uderzo, Asterix and Obelix’ adventures take them all over the Classical world—and even into the New one.  I discovered these French comic books in the 70’s when Asterix was already 15 years old.  In a used bookstore I found a catalogue from an exhibit of comic strip art shown in the Louvre.  In it were a few of Uderzo’s drawings—and I knew I had to see more.  With lots of help from my high school French teacher, I wrote a letter to Asterix’ publisher, Dargaud, asking how I could get my hands on those comic books.  Before long, I owned the first in the series ($2.95, not bad) and would accumulate more.

asterixobelixidefixgifnr4

Looking at Albert Uderzo’s style it’s immediately obvious what an influence his drawings had on me—let’s face it, they still do.  As a kid wanting to be a comic artist I consciously mimicked his style. Uderzo is a master of perspective and camera angles and sight gags.

asterix

The stories are ostensibly for kids, but full of puns and current event gags and spoofs of Latin.  French celebrities made cameo appearances (not that I’d know who they were).  But here’s what’s important: Goscinny and Uderzo paid their audience the compliment of assuming we had enough knowledge of Classical history to get the jokes.

Asterix captured a sense of French national pride and cultural identity.  But not only for the French; as Asterix and Obelix traveled the Classiical world, the authors poked gentle fun at the peoples who would one day be Brits, Germans, Spaniards, Danes, &c., &c.  Apparently everybody likes getting the Gosciny/Uderzo treatment—Asterix is the most translated of French literature.

asterix2

Alas, the world has changed in 50 years.  Europe is become the European Union, and national pride—French or otherwise—is not to be encouraged.  A couple of years back according to Charles Bremner of the Times, Albert Uderzo was asked by Dominique Versini, the EU Children’s Defender to let Asterix and Obelix be the official ambassadors to the United Nations convention on the Rights of Children.  Not so fast, said the higher-ups at Defence for Children International:

‘… Astérix conveys an “archaic…hierarchical” world at odds with the revolutionary” values of the 1989 convention…said Jean-Pierre Rosenczveig, a senior juvenile judge who heads the French DCI.

Astérix also projects “a Gaulish vision which ignores the intercultural reality of French society,” they say. His constant resistance against the Romans and other foreign invaders sends altogether the wrong message in the peace-loving European Union.’

Vercingetorix may be laying down his arms at Caesar’s feet once again.  Asterix is “a eulogy to tribal, hierarchical, society with frequent references to a chief.”  And that’s no good, mes enfants.

Alors.  Once upon a time, with the help of their druid’s magic potion, a tiny village of plucky Gauls could snap their fingers at the mighty Roman Empire.  And the Romans never were able to discover the potion’s recipe.

Asterix’ website http://gb.asterix.com/indexmus.html

Two Bad Pilgrims’ progress

Here’s the big scene from Two Bad Pilgrims, where Francis and Johnny nearly scuttle the Mayflower when they fool around with their father’s fowling piece.  First the thumbnail sketch:

pilgrim.1617

Then the tight sketch:

p16

There was some squeamishness about showing two boys firing a gun in a kids’ book, so we tried a different approach.  Sometimes you encounter this kind of snag in the creative process.  Kendra Levin, the editor and Jim Hoover, the art director worked with me to find a solution.  How about if instead of the gun, we show the boys playing with squibs?

p16revise

What the heck is a squib?  Here’s where my dad, and the Company of Military Historians really came to the rescue.  My dad posted the question in the forum page of the Company’s website.  Turns out a squib is a thin tube of paper or a hollow quill filled with black gunpowder—homemade fireworks.  When you light one it zips around the room.

But, this isn’t really what happened aboard the Mayflower.  More important, it’s not as interesting to look at.  We ultimately struck a compromise and decided to show the boys with the gun, but not actually firing it.

Here’s the inked in version.  Squibs, a barrel of gunpowder, straw ticking on the bunk, old wooden planking—all the ingredients for setting a ship afire.

p18ink

It seems nuts to have gunpowder just laying around like that, but according to Mourt that’s the way it was.  I know that British warships in Nelson’s time stored all gunpowder in a special room, the magazine.  It was lit by a lamp on the other side of a glass window.  Anyone in the magazine had to wear slippers, because the nail of a shoe grating across powder on the floor would cause a spark, blowing up the ship.

Here’s the color sketch.

pilg18.colorsk

And Vince Dorse’s colorization.

p18color

Two Bad Pilgrims

I’ve got another book coming out in August, Two Bad Pilgrims.

It’s the true story of the Billington brothers, who came to the New World on the Mayflower.  They were a couple of brats who nearly blew up the ship while fooling around with a fowling piece belowdecks.

The art director and editor asked that this project be given a graphic novel look.  When I was a kid, my goal was to become a comic book or strip artist.  So this was fun, but what a load of work!  Nineteen times more work than a conventional picture book.

I was never going to finish all this—thumbnail sketches, comp sketches, character designs, inking and coloring— on time without some help, so my buddy Vince Dorse jumped in to digitally colorize my black and white ink drawings.

Here are character designs for the 2 boys, Franky and Johnny.

francis

johnny

The thumbnail sketch for spread 18/19 (later bumped to 20/21). The thumbnail sketch is about 2 inches tall.

pilgrim.1819

The comprehensive sketch for page 20. I work about half-size.

p18

The inked-in version of page 20. This is a night scene at the top.  I really enjoyed dropping in those big areas of solid black!

p20ink

Now it’s time to color it in.  I painted this little color sketch for Vince.

pilg20colorsk

And here’s his beautiful colorization.

p20color