Thursday, February 28, 2013

Armchair Story Editing: MOON

While spitballing story ideas with my creative partner Fred via e-mail I brought up the film Moon as an example of a story that I felt missed it's own point. This particular exchange felt interesting enough to share with others, so here we are.

We were discussing how sometimes neat concepts are ignored or merely used to service plot, whether mediocre or great, and how I dislike that and often wonder what could have been. Prometheus was an obvious example but also an easy target. So I used Moon because it's actually fairly beloved by film buffs and sci-fi lovers alike.

I love science fiction and I enjoyed Moon, especially Sam Rockwell's performance. I didn't analyze it because I feel it's a bad movie, but because even good material can go astray.

Spoilers, obviously...

[On stories that bury the lead...] I didn't totally love Moon for similar reasons. You have a guy working in isolation on a lunar base who believes he's soon going home to earth but doesn't know he's in fact a disposable life form owned and manufactured by a corporation. There's an elaborate charade to keep him unaware of his fate that includes an AI nanny that runs everything anyway.

By having the AI there, you've made the need for a human superintendent unnecessary, and there goes your story.*

*My point being that if the whole facility is automated and looked after by AI, it seems redundant to have a single human watching over things. It's been a few years since seeing the film, and I guess it can be argued that Rockwell's character served as a maintenance worker since the plot kicks into gear when he ventures out to fix a malfunction of some kind. But since those difficulties appeared few and far between, I maintain it would be more efficient to send a repair crew when problems arise as opposed having someone up there at all times. I would even argue that simple robots navigated by workers from Earth or a space station could also serve to that end. But okay, I'm nitpicking...

I realized the only reason the story was structured the way it was was to have this twist--OH! He's a clone!* It was a decent movie, but even the conclusion felt too neat; he goes back to Earth to blow the lid off this corporation that's manufacturing human life for the express purpose of slave labor and we don't get to fucking see that? The movie buried the real lead to service a plot twist that was only kind of neat.

*The reveal actually comes midway in the film. It's somewhat obvious but doesn't feel cheap, neither does it rely on the twist-factor to sell the premise like an M. Night Shyamalan movie. In fact the second act proved most interesting because it focused on the two Sam Rockwells interacting with each other. However this relationship is cut short in the third act when a crew from HQ back on Earth arrives to eliminate both Sams (probably). The consequences of Sam's return to Earth are relayed in news headlines delivered in monotonous voiceovers by news anchors.

If I was tasked with reworking that movie, I'd ask myself what was trying to be said. Make it a statement about North America's outsourcing to China, and how Chinese laborers practically live and die in their work environments. These people aren't in the dark
[about their situation]. Their eyes are wide open to that fact. So I'd make Sam Rockwell either perfectly aware of his circumstance, or have no AI for him to interact with. Have someone on a screen ordering him to do this and that, see him running this rat race to meet deadlines and be super productive. Have the situation be so absurd that audiences will go "WHY would anyone put themselves through that willingly? How horrible!" Then have him die, get replaced, and maybe the new clone is defective and doesn't adhere the order of things. Life finds a way, so to speak. He finds a way to get back to earth and tells the world what's going on. "This corporation has an army of clones--human lives with no rights working until they die!"

Then nobody cares because they'd rather listen to their iPods or read BuzzFeed on their iPads and the escaped clone DIES alone and worthless.

If you haven't seen Moon and still wish to after reading this, you totally should. It's good, original sci-fi and that should always be supported.



Friday, February 22, 2013

This Week In Drawing... 17 & 18


The past couple weeks have been heavy with web work and design. The new and improved website for Big Sexy Comics will be going live very, very soon and I can't wait for it to be ready. I'll have two blogs to upkeep!

The old site was the bane of my existence. For starters, the wrong artist was credited for Teuton. You know how awkward it is sending links to potential clients and/or editors only to have them ask why it says someone else drew my book? Secondly, the comic reader was not user friendly. Many people related their bungled attempts to navigate the comic. Lastly, the thing was rarely updated. It got to a point where I stopped directing people to the site because I couldn't rely on it to leave a good impression. In fact, the epic failure (in my opinion) of the site was the direct cause for me be proactive on this blog. If had worked out the first time I wouldn't have this blog that nobody reads!

Getting our act together on the site brought another important aspect of the Big Sexy Comics brand to mind--the logo.

A while back Fred and I had to ask ourselves what our game plan was in comics. Was Big Sexy Comics and it's properties means to an end? Hopeful springboards to professional work, or were we going to build our own house and take it the distance? We landed somewhere in between. As we both crave a perceived legitimization by finding work with publishers, we also love what we're creating and work at honing or storytelling skills with our own material. Big Sexy Comics will always be our stable, regardless of what else we do. To keep that stable up, Fred had the website rebooted and we're looking to take our books to market. Currently our books, specifically Teuton Volumes 1 & 2, are carried by a handful of stores in the GTA, and although they're available for purchase online at Indy Planet, we haven't advertised our focused on marketing. So while we remain hopeful creators, we've learned we're also terrible businessmen.

This year we aim to change that by pulling our heads out of our asses and fully getting behind the books we've worked so hard to create. I think. To do that I felt we needed a new logo, and after hours of work I presented Fred with a host of options, emphasizing my personal choice. He did not go for it and I was crestfallen. If you've worked with me then you know I can be picky, pushy and strong headed. With Fred I've got my way with many things, including with this website, so bearing that in mind I applied some gentle insistence to see things my way. Nope. He likes what he likes, so I've relented. Check out this cover mock-up to see what it came down to:


Now because I'm tired of typing, here's a bunch of other stuff I worked on recently...

Saturday, February 9, 2013

This Week In Drawing... 16


Last weekend I finally got around to completing an X-Men Legacy sketch cover my pal Ricky Lima wanted me to do since October or November. Poor, patient fellow. Creatively speaking, Ricky is an unusual and fascinating individual, so when he asked that this particular cover be somewhat more abstract than a typical super-hero pin-up, I had to give it some thought. When the mood struck, however, the thing practically painted itself :

I got to do some more cover sketches later/earlier in the week at a sudden guest appearance at Stadium Comics' Transformers event. I can't draw Transformers for beans, but luckily nobody asked:

I've got one other commission on the go right now and I'm pretty jazzed about it. I won't get into specifics, but it's going to be super fun:


Work on Teuton is going well. After a month away from drawing Undertow #3, re-opening Fred's script felt like coming home. I will say, however, that working on something completely different gave me a sense of freedom and opened me up creatively. I learned a thing or two that I'm excited to bring into Volume 3. I've also learned some valuable lessons in inking from the very skilled gents at RAID and I'm trying hard at disciplining myself to be more controlled and more mindful of where I put my lines.

Speaking of getting back into the script, I must have roughly drafted pages 16 & 17 dozens of times before settling on what is now a double-page spread. There was so much cohesive action happening in the two pages that it just made sense to join them.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013



I've made a couple updates to my blog and Big Cartel store. Namely, there are new-ish items up for sale:

  • Over at Big Cartel I have some fun super hero prints, as well as my personal favs, Aldo Raine and Where The Wild Things Are. I should mention that whether or not you choose to pay extra for an original ink sketch, I always enjoy stashing extra goodie with orders. 
  • In my Gallery you can buy original sketches of varying size and quality (I'm speaking of paper type and materials used, because it's all quality goods, babe!) Recent additions to the gallery include full colour sketches from my Spitballin' Comics entries, as well as my daily warm-up sketches.


Apart from art for sale, the reprint of Teuton: Volume One will soon be here, making it's official debut at the Toronto ComiCon on March 9 & 10th. The reprint features 15 brand new pages of art by Yours Truly, supplying a brand new first act--it's so rad! You can check out those unlettered pages here and here if you don't believe me!

Just as before, Volume One contains a thoughtful foreward by Kill Shakespeare author Conor McCreery, and sports a killer pin-up gallery that includes Tony Perna, Gibson Quarter, Vince Sunico, Marvian Sianipar, Andre Fernandes, and Adam Moore!

I'll soon make Volumes 1 & 2 available for purchase either here or on my store front, and hopefully on the Big Sexy Comics site too. Speaking of, the is under construction. Well, it has been for some time I guess, but the newly furnished site will soon be live! For serious! Expect a lot of updates and new content to follow.

Friday, February 1, 2013

This Week In Drawing... 15

This week has been nothing but The Forgetting, a sort of supernatural-horror-thriller that's one of two stories to be featured in Undertow #3 from 7th Wave Comics. The other story, Organ Grinder, is illustrated by Gibson-Fucking-Quarter (GFQ). Both stories come from the twisted imagination of writer Luke Donkersloot.

When Gibson first approached me about Undertow in early 2012, I thought the gig was a mere 4 or 6 page back-up. It was in fact three times as long, if I've done my math right (I haven't). I first met Gibson while working on Holmes Inc. #1, by the way.

GFQ is a swell guy and I enjoy his work (he contributed an excellent pin-up in Teuton: Volume One, you know), so I was delighted he thought enough of my work to want me on board.

I had not previously read Undertow before agreeing to draw in it, although I had seen the cover for issue two thanks to an interview GFQ did with Alice Quinn on Quintessential Comix. With issue three I would be picking up where another artist left off, a proposition that left me feeling more like a guest than a co-creator. Luke had me design his entire cast of characters however, some of whom had not yet been introduced in the first installment. He encouraged me to make it my own.

Luke's story is truly strange and unusual. The premise may sound familiar--the birth of a special child draws a group of immortals out after centuries of estrangement with humanity and each other--a sort of dark and gorey take on Marvel's The Eternals. Where it really takes flight, I think, is where his characters are concerned. The antagonist severs pieces of his own flesh to create golem henchmen and hides out in the space between sub-atomic particles. What?! The protagonist is an immortal shape-shifter who can seemingly regrow body parts, and is aided by John The Baptist after a brutal decapitation. Serious?! The script was a slow burn and exposition heavy until midway when things go full-tilt weird. That's where I really got to cut loose.

Altogether I think it's a slick issue, one that will take readers on a fun ride. I encourage everyone to check this one out. GFQ's Organ Grinder is a bizarre Western that has an interesting Dark Tower vibe.

Now issue three is in the can. It will make it's debut at the Emerald City Comic Con in March. Luke, Gibson, and colourist/inker Greg Harms will all be there. So if you're in Seattle March 1st, go ahead and show your support. The book should make it's way to Toronto shortly thereafter.

In the mean time, be a pal and like Undertow's Facebook page. And because I like you, here's the art in full, complete with both covers.