I finally finished up this latest drawing over the weekend, and I’m pretty damn happy with it. It was a challenging piece to do for a number of reason, mainly I wasn’t happy with the creature’s head early on and then toward the end of the drawing his arm reaching for Rufus’ gun went through several trials and errors in regard to line/tone.
What I like about this one the most is the circular nature of the composition and the variety of lines as well as the balance of black areas to hatch/stippling.
As the title indiciates this is the second piece in what’ll probably be a four piece series featuring Rufus’ adventures. I’ve already started the preliminary rough sketches for the third piece in the series.
A Study in Emerald was first written by Neil Gaiman in 2003 as a short story. Last month, Dark Horse released the graphic novel adaptation of it. My review will be on that adaption.
Synopsis: A Study In Emerald is an original story by Gaiman that is set in a fictional world that is a mash-up of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. When a member of the royal family is murdered, the London police enlist the skills of a renowned detective to help catch the killer. The sordid streets of Victorian Londan lead the sleuth and his ex-soldier side-kick down a twisted path.
Storyline: The plot of A Study In Emerald moves at a brisk pace, but spends enough time on back story to give the setting and characters a fleshed out feel to it without bogging down the plot with too much exposition. A lot of the back story is given through two characters having a conversation and/or brief flash backs. I found this method far more interesting than your typical ‘As you know, Bob…’ type of exposition or a drawn out narration. In particular I liked the scenes where the investigator and his side-kick went to a theater as part of their search for the killer(s). Part of the play being presented there explains how/why the Old Ones from Lovecraft’s mythos hold dominion over humanity.
Overall, the plot of the story unfolds like most mysteries, a la a typical investigation, clues and suspects, along with a gradual introduction of Lovecraftian weirdness. It all fits together well enough, and makes for an entertaining read, for the most part.
Toward the end of the book the detective and his sidekick think they have the perfect trap set for the killer(s) but are surprised by a sudden turn of events that spoil their victory. I won’t go into too much detail, but lets just say that it’s a bit of ‘bait and switch’ on the Gaiman’s part on the reader. I also felt it was simply too much ‘talking heads’ to explain everything rather than putting some action behind those words. You know the old cliche of the villain telling the hero his grand scheme? It’s pretty much on par with that, expect in the form of a letter.
Rafael Albuquerque is the main artist on the book, and is renowned for his contributions to horror comics such as American Vampire, Locke & Key, etc. His work here does not disappoint me, either. What continues to strike me is his knack for conveying emotion in his characters as well as the sometimes gestural quality of his drawing style. He also seems to know exactly when it is best have minimal imagery in a panel and when to unleash the details. In particular his imagery of the Queen is quite spectacular. The book contains some samples of his characters designs along with a few jotted notes. These make for a particularly interesting insight into his creative process. Rafael is quickly becoming one of my favorite artists working the comic book genre to date.
Dave Stewart handles the colors, and uses a warm range of sepia and muted tones that work wonderfully to capture the essence of the time period. That being said he proves to know how to masterfully use the eerie greens and gruesome reds in the right amount and the right panel to emphasis the horror of the scenes that unfold on the page. His colors helped capture the moods of the story line and never detracted from it or overpowered Rafael’s line work.
Todd Klein’s lettering was your typical comic book/graphic novel fare, but what stood out to me was the way in which he conveyed the narrated scenes. Each panel had a New Courier font when coupled with a panel that appeared to be a torn piece of typing paper, gave the narration the look and feel of an excerpt from a memoir. It was easy to read and stood out from the typical fonts used in the rest of the comic. I felt it worked well too given the literary influences on Gaiman’s story.
Conclusion: Overall, this is an enjoyable read, something worth going through at least twice – once for the story and again for the art/lettering/layout, despite the lack luster ending. I would recommend it to Gaiman fans, even if you’ve read the original short story, as well as fans of Sherlock Holmes. For Lovecraft fans it would offer an interesting twist on the mythos of the Old Ones, but be prepared for a heavier dose of Sherlock than Cthulhu.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
Forsaken by the Lord
& forgotten by Old Scratch.
I wander like a shadow
with no body to follow.
My whimpering soul sounds like the pattering rain
that ceaselessly falls upon the ruins of my life.
I am a whisper among men
a cold chill late at night
I am the hour glass, humanity is the sand.
I drift across the aeons
like a mote of dust
never to settle.
The inspiration for Eldritch Woods started off fairly simply with a rough sketch of a gnarly old cottonwood tree that grows on the other side of the fence at my proverbial 9-5 job. The tree in question has a large knot in it that reminded me of an eye. Hence, the tree in the drawing having an eye.
I approached this drawing wanting to use a variety of marks/lines/textures without having to result to using ink wash to create values. It took a bit longer than normal, but I’m pleased with the final results of the drawing. I used everything from a sumi brush, to stipling, hatching, cross-hatch, and a random assortment of squiggles.
I originally had the victim of the tree being a more contemporary figure, but decided to go with a cowboy-like figure instead since besides horror, Westerns are my favorite genre. I’m also a fan of weird Westerns, that mixture of horror/scifi and the ‘Wild West’.
The idea of Rufus came to mind while sketching, and the premise behind him is that he’s a French Canadian mountain man in the Rocky Mountain region during the early 19th century. Rufus’ world is an alternate reality/history where creatures and beings of a supernatural nature exist along side the mundane aspects of everyday life. My thoughts about Rufus continue to evolve, but the basic idea is that unlike your typical mountain man who hunts and traps ordinary creatures, Rufus is a hunter (and hunted) of the supernatural. My plans are to do a few more drawings featuring Rufus in this world and the creatures that exist along side it, as well as some short fiction or a short comic.
Did this rough of my new character Rufus Le Rue in a confrontation with a werewolf. Still toying with the light source and composition but like the direction it’s going now. I may work on making the creature more wolfish than it is now. Once that’s resolved I’ll start the final version in ink on Bristol.
*photo by Brady Harris, 1959.
I got the idea of the Book Tag from Anita Rodger’s blog. It seemed like a fun idea to try on this rather cool and rainy Sunday in my proverbial neck of the woods.
E-Book or Physical Book?
Lately, I’ve been reading physical books. I find them aesthetically pleasing, the smell and texture of the paper. The older I get the more I like tangible things, things built to last. A physical book is a perfect example. That being said, I do read e-books when it comes to small indie publishers or self-published books/stories. I just prefer not to stare at a screen for too long these days.
Paperback or Hardback?
I’ve always liked paperbacks. They’re easy to throw in a pack and take to school/work. Easier to hold. Not as costly.
Online or In-Store Book Shopping?
I enjoy going to brick and mortar bookshops, especially independent ones like City Lights in San Fransisco and Tattered Cover in Denver, CO. When traveling I make it a point to check out any indie bookstore I spot. I enjoy the aroma of books and coffee mingling together, and you don’t get that online. That being said, if need be I do order online but its not the enjoyable experience like in person.
Trilogies or Series?
I’ve read numerous trilogies, but never a series. I’ve never found one that really hooked me into it for the long haul.
Heroes or Villains?
As long as they’re well developed characters, I enjoy both. There’s nothing quite as rewarding as ‘hating’ a great villain or routing for a well rounded hero.
A book you want everyone to read?
I haven’t wrote it, yet.
Recommend an underrated book?
The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac. A lot of people know him because of On The Road, but Dharma Bums really resonated with me.
The last book you bought?
Broken Moon, Vol 1 by Steve Niles and Nat Jones
Weirdest thing you’ve used as a bookmark?
Not sure, I normally dog-ear the pages.
Used Books: Yes or No?
I love used book stores and library book sales. My home town had a library book sale each summer where you could fill a grocery bag for under ten bucks. I acquired a lot of great stuff that way over the years.
Top three favorite genres?
Supernatural horror, (Lovecraft, Clive Barker, Laird Barron, etc). American History (colonial era up to WWI, with an emphasis on the American West). True Crime.
Borrow or Buy?
Characters or Plot?
I’ll cheat and say both, but a good plot draws me in a lot quicker and stronger than drawn out character development and backstory.
Long or Short Books?
As long as its not full of filler and drawn out scenes, any length is good. That being said each word, each scene, each character should propel the plot/characters.
Long or Short Chapters?
Short chapters. It makes me feel more connected to the action in the story.
Name the first three books you can think of
Imajica, Call of Cthulhu, Return of the King
Books that make you laugh or cry?
An emotional connection is important either way.
Our World or Fictional Worlds?
Audio books: Yes or No?
I’ve never listened to an entire audio book, but I have listened to short fiction in audio form which can be enjoyable depending on the narrator. There’s a group out there that does radio plays of Lovecraft and other weird fiction authors which is quite good.
Do you ever judge a book by its cover?
Of course, there’s some really shitty covers out there, but in general I pay more heed to the synopsis on the back cover rather than the ‘endorsements’ on the front cover by King or whoever or the flashy artwork.
A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book?
How about you? How would you answer to these questions? Feel free to tell me in the comments or consider yourself tagged and do your own version of the post.
Prophet Of Madness is a mini-comic of four pages that I drew with traditional mediums of pen, brush, and india ink on bristol. I did the lettering digitally and tweaked the contrast a bit digitally as well. The story is based on a poem I wrote which was influenced by H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction.
I first discovered Bernie Wrightson back in my college days in Buffalo, NY. He wasn’t one of the established artists of the academic world, and someone that my professors would, for the most part, thumb their collective noses at since as an illustrator/comic creator Bernie wasn’t a ‘true’ artist in their minds.
Fortunately, I had a small group of friends that were into comics, metal, punk, and horror/sci-fi movies from whom I learned about Bernie. What drew my attention to his work is not just the subject matter, which was a big part of it, but his craftsmanship and attention to detail/composition.
I’ve always been fascinated with and drawn to, yes that’s a shitty pun, line work when creating art. A painting professor at the time made the statement that I’d be capable of painting with sticks, which is rather appropriate. I’ve never been interested in fields of color or blending. The abstraction of the line and the contrast of black ink and white paper always has been a part of my core as an artist. So, for me seeing Bernie’s work in black and white (although he has done color work and work in other mediums) was like manna from heaven. The fact that here’s a dude doing the type of work I adore in the medium I’m obsessed with was, and still is, fantastic. The fact that Bernie was alive and producing new work, unlike so many of the artists in the pantheon of the academic art world, was refreshing. It proved to me that not only was Bernie’s work relevant, but that that style and genre were too.
Despite the years that have passed since my college years, and the passing of Bernie last year, he still continues to inspire me and every time I look at his work I learn something new that can be applied to my own work and in my own style.
In the video interview I posted at the top Bernie mentions how when he draws its like his mind is projecting the image on the page as he draws, I can definitely relate to the idea. His thoughts on line drawing versus painting is also worth a listen.
Earlier this morning I finished the first draft of an art/fiction project I’ve been working on for awhile now. There’s definitely a certain thrill and sense of satisfaction when reaching the end, in particular when the story resolves itself in a satisfying way.
Yet, there’s always that dread at the end, or even while writing, that there’s going to be the inevitable editing/rewriting process. As any writer knows, it can be a tedious process. One that can cause self-doubt and frustration. It’s not uncommon to write a first draft that seems like a great piece only to go back through and realize you have no idea what the hell you were thinking the first time around. Sometimes a piece like that can be salvaged and rewritten or perhaps totally scrapped and used solely as background info for writing an entirely new piece.
Personally, I found the best way to go through the editing process is to correct spelling and grammar first, then I listen to an audio version of the piece. It’s pretty amazing what a difference hearing it read aloud can make when it comes to sentence structure, dialogue, and other aspects of the prose. A lot of the issues that come up are things I don’t necessarily notice when reading silently or aloud myself. Then I go back and fix those issues.
In terms of continuity errors and etc, I use the program Scrivener for my projects which makes highlighting and adding notes to a project or specific sections pretty easy. I avoid going back and fixing something while writing the first draft, because I find it only encourages self-doubt and second guessing myself while trying to write the story. I think the first draft is more about getting the idea, plot, characters and etc down on the page, and not about passive voice, exposition, and all the other 1001 neurotic ‘rules’ writers face.