Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Technique Tuesday: Drawing Trees In Leaf

Today, drawing trees in leaf by Sarah Scala

 All of the trees were created on Photoshop using normal brushes on round.
The leaves can be found in these brushes packs:
fav.me/d4mwyh6 - I use these ones the most they are fantastic!
fav.me/d24laop - Didn't use these on this occasion but they are also great!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Sunday Revue March 24: Weaker Sides

Dive Into The Deepest Of Dreams With

A dark night. Deep woods. A life to run from.
And something in the road.
This is the beginning of a journey deep into interior landscapes. Part poetry, part legend, part gritty concrete reality, this dream will break you like bone china. Then it will help you put the pieces back together with lacquered seams of gold.
The storyline revolves around two characters: Ashley, a nurse who copes with the world's pains by turning his personal life into a safe, silent cocoon of tranquilizers, tea and peace, and Kyoko, a tortured soul who will no longer be allowed to ignore her pains: her inner turmoil has manifested in the form of a change that has recreated her body. She is now a deer-woman, and she can no longer run from her animal rage and pain.
But there is just the faintest possibility that she can face and heal them, with help.
This tale is told by Lifemachine on Tapastic and at its own site.

The Rating

A deep, dark night of the soul that leads us towards  the dawn.

The Raves

Thematically, this material is challenging on a visceral level. A blending of poetry, photography, impressionist drawing styles and surrealism, the story reflects on the pleasures and the terrors of the non-typical mind.
It vacillates between two poles: the visceral pain of a world red in tooth and concrete claw,
 and the seductive numbness that comes of retreating from it.

 Both have their blessings and their curses, and all their depths are plumbed in this work. 

This story deserves an entry into the ranks of the great Urban Fantasy tales. The creator is currently on hiatus reformatting existing pages, but I hope they don't change too much: I find the deep, strange internal journey gripping and cathartic just as it is. This work does a beautiful job of capturing altered states of consciousness by altering their media style: they wander from the deep, clear reflections of peaceful moments to the pain ridden scrawls deep in dark nights of the soul. 

Much in the line of some Sandman work, 'Weaker Sides' does not flinch from mental trauma and the way it twists our perceptions. Wounded, we wound others. Wounded souls, we attract spiritual scavengers who scent our weaknesses.
But despite our thrashing and in spite of our biting of the healing hand, this story reminds us that there will always be those who will help us in our struggles.
In terms of art, this piece shows its talent in its ability to blend disparate styles into a seamless whole. It is truly beautiful. Drawing is stylistic and well done when it is used, and the chosen photos are perfect.

 The Razzes

I have very little to complain of here. The creator of this work has gone into their creative cocoon for the time being partly for health reasons, but partly because they feel their work is not worthy yet of an audience. They haven't gotten a lot of attention.
I beg to differ. They simply haven't found their audience yet. Dear readers, let's share their work around and show them that their work does touch hearts and souls.
Let's give this gorgeous creator a reason to come back to their audience and stay with us, creating beautiful things that break us and make us whole again. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Backstage Pass March: KnightJJ

We've got your Backstage Pass!Slip Behind The Curtain And MeetThe Redoutable KnightJJ!

So JJ, tell us about your name for a start?

I'm Janine Janssen but I prefer to go by JJ because my name is already taken by a violinist and non Dutch people can’t pronounce it.

What would you feel like telling us about yourself?

I was born on the 22nd of February 1995 here in the Netherlands. I’m currently in my last year of my illustration bachelor. I’m graduating in July but I want to apply for a master’s degree in animation.

Main Project

I have 2 main comics I’m working on right now

“Les Normaux” which I have been making since 2014
and my graduation project “Samuel and Djeya.”

Other Hobbies, Guilty Pleasures and Obsessions

Recently I’ve been really getting into fashion. I absolutely love playing with it and I think it’s starting to shine through in my art as well. I have a thing with video clips as well. K-pop and hip hop specifically. And of course watching a lot of movies and series. The cinema is one of my favourite places to be.

So, tell me about your early experience. How did you fall in love with telling stories in pictures?

It sounds cheesy but I can’t exactly tell you because I’ve been drawing practically all my life. When I was little I used to get stacks of copy paper, staple them together, divide the pages in two and draw stories in them about princess kangaroos, foxes and ninjas with dragons. When I was 7 my parents put me in an art class and I’m still forever grateful for that. I stayed in art classes till I was about 19 even during the first 2 years of art school. During that time, I had multiple bigger comic projects but they never got made into something. I remember finding the comic “Lackadaisy” by Tracy J. Butler when I was 15 and thinking wow this is a comic that isn’t in a book and free to read. I could do this!

Another thing that really shaped my interest in storytelling is animated movies. When I was younger I’d even refuse to watch movies with real people in it. I also remember watching Brother Bear almost everyday of the week, pausing the film and redrawing the shots when I was about 13. The princess and the Frog made me decide I wanted to be an animator even. Little did I know animating and developing stories are different things.

What inspired your current project(s)?

Les Normaux started as a drawing of 3 monster couples in a Halloween Livestream. It started out as just a fun little project to take a break from my comic “Atlas” I was creating back then but ended up as a comic redefining the meaning of being normal through stories about LGBT and People of Colour.
LN bannerfinal.jpg
Samuel and Djeya is a story largely based on the problems of the world of today (rise of the alt right, Trump etc.) And my personal journey to become more accepting and understanding about the world around me because of what my friends (from different backgrounds) thought me.I’d say acceptance of others is the main theme and motivation that runs throughout all my stories.

What media and programs do you work in to produce your projects?

Image result for cintiq 13hdI usually work in Photoshop CC using a Cintiq 13HD. But I also really love working with traditional media. Mainly Acrylic paint and marker and fine liners.

Can you tell me about your typical day or strip-creation session? How does your work process flow from idea to finished page?

After I make up the general idea for an episode I make a great stick figure storyboard and a script. (Which my co-writer Al edits for LN) Then I make each panel in a separate Photoshop file before putting them together on a page and adding text. Resize the page to a way smaller size and post!

What’s the most difficult part of your work?

FBicondec2016.jpgUpdating regularly haha.  Planning stories in general is hard for me but I’m trying to really push myself with Samuel and Djeya.

Also looking back on old episodes of your series is always hard because you see all the things you could’ve done better for the story. Les Normaux in particular really gets to me on that point.

Can you tell me about your storytelling process? Do you prefer to script your stories, fly by the seat of your pants, or somewhere in between?

I actually switch this up for each project it seems. For Les Normaux I write down the general episode ideas for the season with my co-writer Al and write the final script and storyboard only just before starting on drawing each episode.
For my finished project 150 Days I wanted to see if I could make a finished short story because I never had.  I wrote the entire script beforehand but did no storyboarding at all.
For Samuel and Djeya I’m doing something in-between the two. I wrote out the general story from start to finish and make a script within the storyboard for each chapter but never too far ahead so I leave room for improvisation and rewrites.
What they all do seem to have in common is that they start with 2 or more characters and their relationship to each other. After that comes the world and story.

You use a lot of historical and futuristic speculation in your work; how do you go about doing your research? How much do you worry about getting details right?

panel 8.jpgMost of my stories start with a completely random idea unrelated to whatever else I’m doing at that time and I mix that in with my current interests because that’s just the most fun! I don’t worry about historical accuracy of the world all that much I just try to get the general feeling right and research items, architecture and clothing of the time chosen. The future is free range for me because nobody really knows what’s going to happen anyway. But I usually take something from the past or present time and twist it and add anything that I feel like till I have a completely new world. For example, the future world in Samuel and Djeya takes inspiration not only Amsterdam but also the Kowloon walled city that was a place in Hong Kong until the mid 90’s. I do however care a lot about treating the culture/sexuality that shapes my characters with respect and as much accuracy as I can.

What are some of your favorite research and reference resources?

To be honest I mostly use the internet and whatever sites I can find but I think my favourite source is my friends and readers. For example, I made Sebastien from Les Normaux Filipino because my co-writer Al is. And in 150 days my friend Aqssa helped me out a lot with everything in the story relating to the Islam.

How much of a buffer do you like to keep?

I have none which explains my irregular updating. It’s bad but I noticed that while also working on school projects it works best for me. But now Samuel and Djeya is my project I hope to get to a regular schedule for it as well as LN in the future.

If you could send a note back in time to yourself when you were beginning your work, what would you say?

2.jpgStarting with such a huge project like Atlas was honestly doomed to fail. Yet I wouldn’t change a thing about what I did because it brought me where I am now. However, I’d tell myself to not worry so much about what other people want. Work on your comics more instead of fan art if that’s what you really want to do and don’t worry about the people complaining. Also don’t be afraid to make friends with the people that share your interest in comics. Talk and learn from them. Also sometimes think before you do. It helps.

What message do you hope readers take away from your work?

I hope to spread positivity and acceptance of others. And I hope people take the time to research LGBT terms and other cultures after seeing them in my comics. The best messages are always the ones of people discovering something about themselves through one of the characters.
panel 4.jpg

What keeps you devoted to telling the story you’re telling?

The webcomic community and specifically the comments they leave on the stories that inspire me to do new things with it or continue to do what makes them (and me) happy. The collaborations with others within my projects. (Shout out to my friends Al (LN), Aqssa (150) and Julika (S&D)) As well as the artist friends I made within the community. And of course my almost self destructive drive to always prove myself.


Thanks for all your lovely work JJ! Rock on!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Special Feature Saint Patrick's Day 2018: American Wakes And Immigrant Tales

Psst, Put Down Your Green Beer And Listen Up!
Superman's An Immigrant!

Yep, you read that right. Superman is an immigrant, and so are a lot of your favorite comic creators. Try googling the word 'comics' and add any name on this prestigious list.

*Max Gaines
*Harry Donenfeld
*Martin Goodman
*John Goldwater
*Louis Silberkleit 
* Eisner 
* Kirby
*Los Bros Hernandez
* Prohias
* Perez 

You'll find that each and every name belongs to someone arriving or born to recent arrivals in America.
So why the list?
Because today is March 17, when we honor-no, not green beer-one of the greatest waves of immigration America has ever seen. In America, Saint Patrick's Day is a cultural touchstone for hundreds of thousands of Irish people and their millions of Irish-American descendents. Today we honor and remember the sacrifice they made and the struggle they endured to become part of the fabric of America. In memory of their struggle, today is a fitting day to reflect on how today's homeless and tempest-tost are treated as well.

Saint Patrick's Day is deeply personal to me. I come from a half-Irish family and speak the Irish language. I grew up without green beer, but with songs about American Wakes, pride and loss.
In the 1800s, an American Wake was a party thrown for a person leaving Ireland for the shores of New Zeland, Australia, or America. It was a wake for a living person, since their family and friends were sure never to see them again. They came seeking opportunity.
But what they often found was intense discrimination, and comic artists were part of the wrongs done against them.
Racisim against the Irish perfectly underlines the insanity that racism truly is: two people who look exactly the same to modern eyes were, in 1849 Brooklyn or anywhere in America, judged by very different standards. One was a true American, upstanding and worthy. The other was a dirty Irishman, and would never amount to anything.
Today, I wonder if we could tell their grandchildren apart. Probably not. 

It has happened again and again, too many times. In 1775 the Germans and Poles were seen as destructive influences. 
In the 1840s, the Irish were called 'filthy Catholic rats'. 
In the 1880s, the children of those immigrants turned on new settlers arriving from China. 
Today, the grandchildren of immigrants turn their rage on those from South America and the destroyed Middle East who come searching for what their own families came to find: 
a place to build a life.

So, you enjoy Saint Patrick's day? You want to honor your ancestors?

Here's an idea.
Stop putting others through what they had to endure.

If you remember the stories of your ancestors, it is your duty to help the world stop perpetuating the same suffering they endured on a new people and a new generation.
But if you are a comic reader or a comic artist, you already hold a powerful tool against the crime of dehumanizing newcomers. We can support comics like Barrier by Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente.
 You can help make sure kids who can use it get Rosita Gets Scared for free.  You can pass around The Golden Door, a comic about diverse immigrant experiences. You can tag somebody and get them to read Bleeding Cool Comic's article, Immigrants Are Welcome Here.
You can read American Born Chinese and understand how deep you can internalize self-loathing if others make it clear you are not welcome. You can read Permanent Alien to understand how high you can rise in spite of it.
And you can remember. Today is not about green beer and bad accents. Today is about a people who lost everything and arrived here desperate. By a certian orange windbag's standards, they would not be allowed into the country today.
But the Irish built our Northern cities and formed the backbone of America's industrial generation. The Chinese immigrants built our railroads and made Alaska, San Francisco and so many other American places thrive. Every group that has come has enriched our country. And every group that comes tomorrow will enrich it further.

So don't say 'Kiss me, I'm Irish' today. Say this:

Go ndéana a mhaith daoibh, a chairde.Céad míle fáilte daoibh. 

Pronnouced: Go je-nah a wah dov, a hairde. Cayd milla faltcha dov

Translated: You are welcome here, my friends. A hundred thousand welcomes to you all.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Special Report: WhimsyCon 2018

Some of you may have noticed that there were no posts over the weekend, dear readers. That was on account of WhimsyCon 2018! A full account:

Denver’s WhimsyCon kicked off its first convention celebrating Steampunk and Victorian culture this past weekend It did not disappoint. I arrived scared to death. I had 4 talks to give, an advance run of my newly published book and the oracle cards that go with it to sell, and had spent about $400 printing merchandise for the weekend. Being in business has gotten me over panicking when I see big numbers like $400, but still. GULP.

Added to that, the uncomfortable last years and death of the former steampunk event known as AnomalyCon had left a bad taste in my mouth. Nasty fights and scoldings I and friends had gotten courtesy of a couple over zealous folk and the general air of mutual distrust in the last years had tarnished the experience, and I was carrying a charm against discord just in case that mess had carried over.
My hands were shaking when I was setting up, let's just leave it at that. But then my art was beside the work of Pinku of Root and Branch comic fame and Wandering Jotun Crafts' wonderful spell books and their rocking pronoun pins for fluid folks (seriously, go take a look, you need these spells and pins. ), my booth was set, a cadre of my oldest and dearest friends started arriving and all the panic started to ease. What the hell, I'd budgeted for what I could lose. At worst, I'd go home with stuff and good memories.

We started hitting panels, because that's the kind of geeks we are. Sorry, no pictures of panels because I'm too well mannered. The programming was packed full of joy such as Friday night electric teapot races, Sunday tea dueling, special guests author Milton Davis, costume queen Kitty Krell, and illustrator Tawny Fritz. Fans enjoyed musical performances, workshops, and even a Victorian style pie eating contest.

I had some wonderful (and some very bad) whiskey. I sang wonderful (and VERY VERY BAD) Victorian songs. I gave my talks on writing in the Victorian era, Victorian etymology, the Language of Flowers and bawdy music of the Victorian Era. Much to my surprise, they were (gasp) fun!
Attendees soaked up the information shared in all of the fabulous panels. People had their schedules circled and highlighted to ensure that no events were missed. There were panels with titles like “Putting the Punk in Steampunk”, “Feminism and Inclusiveness in Science Fiction fandom,” and more. There was a “Refinery of Victorian Tea” where panelists walked the audience through the process of properly serving and drinking tea. There was a self-defense panel, tarot readings, and- thankfully for some guests- some instruction on meditation and mental health. The roster was particularly fine for writers, including 'Self Publishing 101', 'Ow, My Spleen!' 'We Don't Need No Stinkin' Mentors!' and 'Fighting The Day Job'.
Best of all, the vigor and the sheer joy of the early Anomaly years were back in this phoenix of an event. The talks were clever. The time with old and new friends was soul food. The events were good. The turnout was great. It just the thing for a new panelist and vendor.

Oh, and about the new vendor? I sold everything I brought. Not only did I cover my print costs. I covered my room. And my table. And when a con goer posted about all the books he'd bought and loved so far, my book was in that pile with authors I admire.

This is the start of a very, very good thing.

Better pictures in this article: http://www.westword.com/…/whimsycon-2018-is-denvers-new-ste…

Wandering Jotun, who I shared a table with, has works that can be ordered here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/598555621/preorder-dry-erase-name-or-pronoun-pin?ref=shop_home_active_1 and the lovely Root And Branch can be found here http://rootandbranchcomic.com/comic/root-branch-page-1/

Technique Tuesday:Drawing Grass