Sunday, November 16, 2008

Spoiled, Not Stirred

Argh. Casino Royale set me up for a fall. Not that the newest Bond installment is bad. It's good; just not great. I give Quantum of Solace a firm B. No doubt it had all the action of its gritty predecessor, but it again proves that stunts, chases and fight scenes cannot make up for a plot with too many flat spots. Oh my wife and I had high hopes for it, especially after seeing the Batman upgrade (Dark Knight) earlier this year. Daniel Craig is still awesome as the new double 0. But we were just expecting a little more umph in the storyline and villains. I know I shouldn't be so hard; he just lost his true love for goodness sake. Perhaps this is a valley we had to tread through with him, to snap the old boy out of his melancholy over Vesper. Okay, Bond, shake it off, stiff upper. We anxiously await your next mission.
PS>> Mini spoiler alert: I was sad to see Mathis come and go so quickly. It was almost as if the put him in a red Star Trek tunic, how long was he on? Ten minutes? He was the only one we felt a bit of an attachment to from the last film, aside from Bond and M. I guess that actually helps me identify my overall feelings about the film: I felt a bit detached myself because there seemed fewer individuals and causes to root for. "B-"

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Little Shuffle

Time for a little rearranging. I will be be moving all things about The Peck over to from here on out. It is at this address you will find weekly comic updates on Dent, Cornelius and Billy as they fight to clean up the tattered streets of Sactown.

That being said, I will still continue here with my personal blog, cluttering the cybersphere with more rambling on movies, books, mishaps and errata.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Going APE

I will be peddling my wares down in SF this Saturday at APE, the Alternative Press Expo. It's my first time being on the other side of the table at a comic book convention, so it should be a learning experience. I plan on meeting many of the comic book artists there and soaking it all in.
Currently I am readying my comic site,, for launch on the same day. Won't have all the bell sand whistles I want this weekend's debut, but the low res of chapter 1 of The Peck will be up for viewing. The comic will also be on sale at I will be migrating the publishing and online sales to another printer very soon. This will greatly inprove the cost of the book (as Lulu is way pricey). I'll let you know as soon as it's up and running.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Here's a sneak peak of one peck spread. Cornelius (Dent's mentor) narrates as the Peck sprints through the Sactown night ...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Final Peck Cover

Okay, here it is. The official cover of The Peck. Click on the image to get all the venous detail.

I'll be selling this 24-page comic book at the Alternative Press Expo on Saturday, November 1st in San Francicso. You'll find me at booth 534A. And once the convention is over, I will be displaying all of chapter one online as a continuing webcomic with updates every week at Every 20-30 pages I'll be compiling chapters for print. The anticipated graphic novel will be aproximately 140 pages, so I will be putting out roughly a 5 comic arc to finish the book.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Breaking News (or Broken News)

Okay, I know the injury posts are getting old and pathetic, so I promise this is the last one. It's just kind of comical at this point: So I finally got my long-awaited MRI this last Monday. I was surprised to get a call from my orthopedist's office a few hours later while at work. They had heard preliminary findings from the radiologist: broken tibia. [Yeah, I know, that's what I said.] The original ER x-ray weeks ago didn't pick it up. I'm sure it's probably just a hairline break somewhere at the top near the joint, but the doc has called me in tomorrow to have more bracing applied to my leg (hopefully not a full-fledged cast). They said I should not be bearing any weight on it. Haha! Almost four weeks later. Okay, okay, I'm reeeally done now. No more medical talk.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Bone Update

You wash your car in the morning, it rains in the afternoon. You pre-emptively make your own finger cast, the orthopedic surgeon calls you and wants you in the office the very next day. I wore my little creation to the appointment, generously adorned in gray duct tape. The doc loved it; complimented me on my resourcefulness even. I've now graduated from a plaster oven mitt to streamlined resin cast. My pinky will be bunking with my ring finger for the next three weeks. I will have to get an MRI on my knee in the interim, so no resolution there yet. Current prescription: I am to stretch and massage my knee joint regularly to nurse it back as much as possible before my next visit. Baby steps. Literally.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Ortho!

In keeping with the spirit of DIY, I did a little online research, called a few medical supply stores and constructed my own cast. I got tired of playing phone tag with my ortho doc's office, as well as the constant paranoia of knocking my splinted pinky into something. I really did not like the prospect of possibly having my finger rebroken and reset because of some mishap between now and my TBD appointment, so I thought what the heck. The cast is so much better than the splint. I should've done this a week ago!

I will of course still see my orthopedist, but that date is still not clear in my crystal ball. I'll just remove the cast before the appointment. You gotta love plaster casting tape. It's cheap and sets fast. I'm going to buy some more and make a mask for Halloween. Whee!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Love Healthcare

Especially HMOs. So I get a referral from Sutter Roseville's ER to a local ortho surgeon last Friday. Unfortunately that person is not contracted as a provider through my insurance---a company that shall remain nameless. So, my insurer, that has a shield and is blue, says even though I have a referral from the ER, I still need to see my family doctor to get a referral to a kosher orthopedists.

Sooo, Monday I am able to get an appointment with my PCP (that's insurance-speak for Primary Care Provider) and he concurs with the former diagnosis, that I have indeed broken a finger and wrenched a knee. He sends me home telling me that his practice will set up the appointment with a "sports medicine group" in Sac and get back to me. That sits well with my male ego, the whole "sports" thing and all. I envision myself at my future appointment, reading Sports Illustrated in the waiting room, overhearing the conversations of other testosterone-filled patients: "So, how did you tear your ACL, Joe?" "I stunted on a blitz and got blind-sided by the slotback." "Yeah, I was in the octagon Saturday night and didn't tap out of a leg lock quick enough." "Tough break, dude ... and how 'bout you, man?" I lower my magazine to discover they are looking at me. I can feel the visible flush to my face (and that's hard to do if you know me) as I weakly offer: "Um, I was fishing and slipped on a rock." Cricket, cricket ...

Tomorrow will be me and my accident's one week anniversary. I haven't heard a peep from the sports folks, my finger is still castless, and my knee is far from NFL ready. My one consolation is that the knee swelling has transitioned from grapefruit to cutie. It's a sore little citrus, though. Lesson here folks: Don't leave your house. Stay in your well-padded coccoon and watch Roland Martin reel in the big ones on TV.

Photo above: Lost glory days at the river of doom.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Caught a Break

Slightly eventful weekend. Friday I shot up to Cisco Grove near Truckee to get a little river fishing in and try out some new Panther Martin spinners. I was manuevering over some rocks near the bank when I slipped and took a pretty good spill. All of my dainty frame right onto my right knee and a wonderful array of granite rocks. I was also holding onto my fishing pole in my left hand and I must've smacked it pretty good as well (see x-ray at left). Yep, my first official broken bone in 42 years (I think I broke my ribs back when I was a teenager, but never got 'em looked at, so they don't count). Ouch, yes, it's my drawing hand, but luckily I can still type and move a pencil. I just look more proper with my splinted pinky jutting straight out. :)

The more worrisome topic is my knee. Thankfully nothing was broken there, but I think I have some ligament and/or tendon damage; can't put any weight on it. And to move my calf left or right? Yacheewawa. I'll know more when I see the orthopedist this next week. Suddenly I find myself a pathetic invalid in my own house. I was able to drive myself home from the fishing trip, using my right hand under my knee to help get me lift my foot on the needed pedals, but once I got home, the swelling made it near impossible to get out of the car. My wife, bless her heart, jetted straight home as soon as I called her. After a trip to the ER, I'm splinted and braced, hobbling around on crutches. I'll post more on it once I've seen the doc.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Story of a Designer

Lastnight I attended the opening of Kit Hinrich's new exhibit at Sacramento State University's Library Gallery entitled The Storyteller's Art. Kit is a legendary designer who's been a principal at Pentagram SF for decades. The show was awesome, a wonderful example of the union of word and image in graphic design. If you are in Northern Cal, I really urge you to catch the exhibit. He will also be delivering a lecture on campus on October 7th. Click here for more information. If that's not enough, his Long May She Wave exhibit, an installation showcasing his massive collection of American flag paraphernelia, will be at Reno's Nevada Museum of Art from October '08 to February '09.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Cornelius & Billy

Above is a random page from the first chapter. I will be showcasing the entire first chapter on the new site ( by October. I want everything to be in place for post-APE online traffic.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cover Mug

Well, here is The Peck cover graphic, untouched, unedited in all its analog nakedness. I did a rough mockup some time back to use for my May exhibit earlier this year, but it was a placeholder for the one I am designing now. I'm really putting a lot of attention into the cover as I know a lot of books are made or broken by their exterior. This cover will have some found type folded into it along with set type. I will colorize this image as well with some understated hues. I have to get this puppy off to the printer in the next few weeks, so the deadline is looming.

Friday, August 22, 2008


This rough page follows the previously posted page in sequence. Cornelius describes how he rescues Dent, gently "washes his crumpled frame, bandages grave wounds" and "heals him with the balm of music."

I'm really trying to play with the frames in making them expressive of the action happening in the content. Also trying to make frame elements more layered and interactive. Notice how the bottom line of the top frame becomes the ground Cornelius runs across; Dent's hair being blown dry in the third frame splashes over into the fourth frame, leading the eye to the next caption; the curve of on the top of the last frame becomes almost a protective bubble around Dent's recovery bed.

Yes, Cornelius is playing an accordion.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

More Tinkering

Here is a another rough prelim sketch of the page posted on August 9th. You can see how it's evolving. In this particular scene, Cornelius is telling the tale of how he found Dent busted up in the land fill, so I wanted the composition of frames to give off that broken/shattered vibe. Note in the final frame his lone hand amongst the toxic waste barrels; I tried to make the cracked line that separates the two above frames point to that hand. It should be the obvious focal point as I will also make the hand a stark silhouette in the frame. More tightening to go ...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Buttons Pas

Just got my first two sets of buttons in the mail today from Fifty of Cornelius (the old guy on the far left) and fifty of a b&w Peck shot. Just ordered the next two in the series, Dent and Billy, displayed here for your viewing pleasure.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Dirty Laundry

Here's some preliminary penciling for one of the last few pages I have left for the premiere issue of The Peck. Here Cornelius recounts (in flashback) how he first met young Dent. He discovers him in his own home, the city landfill, beaten, and left for dead under a pallet-load of toxic chemicals.

In terms of process, I draw my thumbnails in a 3.625″ x 5.25″ frame. This allows me to get enough info blocked in without getting hung up on fine detail. I scan the finished thumbnail into P-shop at 300 dpi grayscale, then adjust the size of the sketch using Image>Image Size. Making sure the "resample image" is unchecked, I scale the image up to a higher print size by lowering the resolution. It doesn't matter if it is slightly pixelated as I will be using the output for tracing the final over my light table. Once I have the sketch outputted on a tabloid piece of paper, I give it another once over with a mechanical pencil to flesh out more detail. I'll go over my tools and materials in a future post.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Usagi Yojimbo

Just got my first trade paperbacks of Usagi Yojimbo (volumes 1 and 2). You can really see the influence of Sergio Aragones in Stan Sakai's work (Stan has done lettering for Sergio's work since back in the day). Not a bad thing to have rub off. I think I naturally tend toward these more cartoony stylizations in my own comic work. Blame it on my earlier work as a gag cartoonist through my college years. To picture Usaji Yojimbo, basically take the old Japanese tales of Lone Wolf and Cub, Yojimbo, etc and cross them with cartoon animals and you have the jist of the comic series.

I like the compilation of short stories in these books. The original comics must've had 2-3 tales in them. All the stories stand on their own, but also move the global story forward. Lenore by Roman Dirge is sort of like this too in its more recent incarnation. Though the first installment of the Peck is 24 pages, I think I will do this in the future as well.


I walked into A-1 Comics today looking for a copy of Alan Moore's Watchmen. Nada. On backorder. Apparently the trailer for the upcoming movie has caused quite a spike in the paperback's sales. The clerk at the comic store says he's never seen anything quite like it for an older title. Not bad considering it came out in 1995.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Button Fun

In prepping for APE, I've started tinkering with some button designs. To the left are a few musings. Got a tip on a really reasonable online button maker at I've already ordered a set of 50 of the Cornelius button and the one of the Peck pickin' trash with the grabber. I still need to colorize the Dent and Billy (teddy bear) buttons. Fun stuff.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Team Edward

Here is the t-shirt design I put together for my wife and daughters' party excursion to Borders this Friday for the premiere of Breaking Dawn. I'm sure there will be more than a few book fans with the Ts of Edward's headshot there, so I tweaked it a bit to hopefully set it apart. I duotoned the orginal photo, cranked the curves a little in P-shop (to increase the relief off the black T) and increased the warm ochre in his eye for contrast. Kind of reminds me of someone ...

Typogeekphically, Edward's name is set, appropriately, in Edwardian Script. Also, click on the image to see the custom detail in the word "TEAM." Forget those t-shirt templates they put out in the third book.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Peck Bound

Okay, here's something dredged up from the sketch archive. Man, am I breaking a few of anatomy rules here. I don't now, there's something about the energy, the soul, of this pose that I quite like. And sometimes my quest for essence seems to override my faithfulness to muscle fact. I mean, no doubt is the Peck missing an arm and his head is shoved into his torso, but I'm talking about the strangely turned deltoid, inflamed trapezius and bean-pole legs. In the final gestalt, though, it seems to work; has the right vibe for a quirky superhero bounding over an obstacle.

I'm getting back into my Peck work after a little vacation from the drawing board. Be on the look out for new pages.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Reading Challenge

Some may wonder if I need a "man card check," but I assure you everything is intact. I made a deal with my wife: I told her if I she read Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, I would read Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. A few reluctant nods and it was on; we each worked through our respective first books like picky eaters trying to acquire a new appreciation for hagus or some other foreign dare food. Surprisingly, we both found we enjoyed our first samplings. So we moved on to the second books: she cracked open Ender's Shadow and I proceeded forth with New Moon. We both enjoyed those books, too. She ended up getting the better of the deal as I continued on with the third book in the Meyer series, Eclipse, but I couldn't really recommend the next book in the Card series to her as it was just good, not great.

The outcome of our reading challenge was a win-win. My wife can now see why I love the Ender series. And, I have to admit, I share her fascination with the Twilight series. That being said, I will not be attending the Breaking Dawn party at Borders Books on August 1st when the fourth Meyer book is released; I've got to draw the line somewhere! However, my wife and teenage daughters will be on hand sporting their "Team Edward" t-shirts, ready to pitch their speculative theories on Bella's future with the vampire hunk.

I can appreciate the buzz about this Meyer series. It wasn't a Buffy rip-off as I had thought. It was really well written, filled with clever twists and turns, albeit skewed to feminine sensibilities with the romantic content. Case in point: the upcoming movie adaptation of Twilight caused a bit of a stir at Comic-Con recently. Apparently 6000+ female fans (soccer moms with daughters in tow) rushed the Twilight panel the other day. Hah! That's a new demographic for the world's largest comic convention.

Okay, I've geeked out way too much here. But I can wholeheartedly recommend the Meyer series to the male species. Just wrap a Louie Lamour dust jacket around the books as you secretly read them. And you don't have to give up the man card, just find that middle ground between your dark macho side and your lighter sensitive side. That twilight if you will ... (oh boy).

Friday, July 25, 2008

Comic-Con '08

My buddy, Mach Mahn, is at Comic-Con doing portfolio crit duties for Arch Enemy Comics this week. He's developing a comic character with them right now called Solo. To view an animatic of a concept he and Dennis Long are working on click here. Mach reports he's meeting a lot of people and enjoying being on the biz side of CC. Give 'em heck, man!

Speaking of cons, The Peck will be making his debut at the SF Alternative Press Expo in November. APE is a smaller venue than most cons, dedicated to underground and indy artists/publishers. I'm using it as a nice little springboard to premiere the teaser chapter of the book as I wait for submission feedback from publishers. I figure I may as well have Plan B in motion as I await the results from Plan A. APE should be a nice warm up for WonderCon and SuperCon in '09. I'll soon be setting up an official Peck website at
Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Serious Character Development

It's official. Gone are the days of the "zany" Tim Burtonesque superhero adaptations. Waste that kind of cartoon stylization on boys in chocolate factories and bad dreams before Christmas. Things have moved toward a more sober note. The convincing evidence is portrayed in the most recent installment of Batman: The Dark Knight. What an intense, psychological romp! Sure it has all the action you expect in a super hero flick, but director Chris Nolan takes the possibilities of comic book adaptation to a new level in this one. It is the maturation of a genre: the infusing of complexity---humanity (and in some cases, insanity)---into super hero/villain personalities.

Yeah, there have been baby steps to this end in the X-Men and Spiderman movies. And unfortunately, in the Fantastic Four movies, we saw the baby plop down on its bottom and regress. But Batman Begins showed the toddler was not down for the count. And now, this summer, we see something coming of age. It began with Robert Downey Jr's portrayal of Tony Stark in Iron Man. Notice I say Tony Stark, not Ironman, because it was almost more entertaining to see TS in scenes as opposed to his metallic persona. Edward Norton's Bruce Banner in Hulk 2 didn't disappoint either, especially considering the hulkish monkey on the film's back following H1. And now we have a new Bat movie where a villain creeps you out in a "I-don't-want-to-look-but-I-have-to-look" sort of way. Christian Bale's Bat takes a back seat to Heath Ledger's Joker in this one. It feels like you're watching a first class action-suspense thriller with a truly riveting psycho in the lead, not a story based on sappy heroes and villains extracted from a pulp tale. A posthumous Oscar on the horizon? I give it Two-Face odds. Anyway, I won't bore you with more blah blah praise of the movie; there's plenty of that online already.

Incidentally, the trailer for Watchmen (based on Alan Moore's formidable graphic novel) previewed just before DK. It looks promising. I'm interested to see where this new child runs.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hellboy Dos

Caught the late showing of Hellboy II last night with my son and some buddies. I thought we'd beat the crowds seeing a 10pm showing on a Thursday night, so I was shocked to find our local UA theater teeming with people. Luckily they were all there for the midnight premiere of Dark Knight. I'll be catching that one next week!

The second installment of Mike Mignola's good-guy demon creation, written and directed again by the muy talented Guillermo del Toro, is entertaining enough; I give it "B-." It sports more humorous dialogue---something we saw glimpses of in a darker, more serious H1---but the story isn't as tight as its novel predecessor. You seem to know the jist of the plot quite early into the movie, even as to how the antagonist might meet his demise (at least in theory). This steals a bit of the mojo from the story arc, making a 2-hour movie seem little longer.

That being said, the film does not disappoint in entertainment factor and is definitely worth the gas to the theater. With the characters already established this time around, we get to enjoy their personalities more (man, Ron Perlman was born for this role). The special effects are top notch and del Toro keeps the story marching forward with entertaining fight scenes and some lol banter between Hellboy and his cohorts (fyi: you'll love the Barry Manilow bit). In short, the sequel delivers a worthwhile evening with popcorn and the boys. The story is no doubt left open for another installment, and chapter 2 is strong enough to pique my interest in number 3.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Peck Show

Below are a few pics from the Peck Concept Show exhibited at the Design Gallery at Sacramento State University back in May. I took these on a digital camera then lost the usb cord for transferring them to the computer. What do you know, today I found it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Missing Parts

Here is the shaded version of the previously posted page. You'll note that the upper right panel appears unfinished; this is because Cornelius's narrative caption will be covering the top part of his face and the background. I want Dent to appear somewhat anonymous in this frame as the caption will convey he has a bad case of amnesia (as well as a missing arm).

On a different note, I recently discovered the art/writing of Stan Sakai on Usagi Yojimbo. Not that UY is new to me, I've seen it before, I've just never picked it up to read until this last week (issue #111). I think I will backtrack a bit and start collecting some of the series. One thing particularly nice is that my kids can read it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Dent's Recovery

Here is some new inking. Chronologically, this is part of a flashback in the book where Cornelius Bacon explains his first encounter with Dent (not yet known as the Peck), left for dead in the city dump. Bacon rescues and nurses him back to health. This is the page where Dent is finally up on his feet, but suffering from a wicked case of amnesia.

I almost spoiled the page by accidentally spattering water on it while tracing over the pencil comp (errant beverage). Yeah, yeah, I know, I know: I should be using indelible media. But I so love these Tombo markers. You get the brush effect without all the dipping and dripping.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Michael Turner

I browse through the comic community frequently to find artists whose artwork and style inspire me. One such influence I found a few years back was Michael Turner. Sadly he lost his battle with cancer last week at age 37. It's been a year of unexpected passings in the industry. Mike "Ringo" Wieringo died last August at age 44. Both passings are a tragic loss for the comics world.

Friday, July 4, 2008


Happy July 4th. To the left is an image from one of my illustration idols, Norman Rockwell. This painting was done in 1943 as a part of series entitled The Four Freedoms published by the Saturday Evening Post. According to his publisher, when Rockwell first undertook the project he thought it would take two months. It took seven. Rockwell said, "It should have been tackled by Michelangelo." I think he did fine all by himself. This particular piece is called Freedom of Worship. The others in the series include Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear.

I am proud to live in the most free nation in the world. May we never forget the religious ideals that this nation is built upon, ideals which afford us the very liberties we enjoy.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

When Night Falls

This page actually precedes the others in order. It is right when night falls on Sactown and Cornelius is explaining the corruption of city. Note the politically friendly graffiti. I'm not completely sold on this page for two reasons:
1) I'm not sure upper right frame is as a contrast to his Cornelius dramatic narration. It's supposed to be humorous, but may just come off confusing. I thought about placing the silhouette of a drug deal or a lady of the night, but I just didn't want to make it so seedy in conjunction with the mattress tag. I know it's hard to process this without the text in place.
2) The visual on the Peck running through the bottom frame. Feels messy right now. I'll sleep on it.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Team Will

Though this isn't necessarily illustration oriented, I thought is was worth mentioning: my buddy, Jonathan Weast (a professional illustrator), just got through cycling from San Francisco to Washington DC; he and his team mates did it in only 10 days! What's more, they did it to raise awareness and funds for children battling cancer. To see photos of they're adventure, surf over to the team's site and team member John Livernois's blog of the trek.

Congrats, Jonathan, on a huge ride for a noble cause.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Took in WALL-E today with the fam. I give it a solid B+/A-. Pixar did a wonderful job telling a story with minimal dialogue. Good imagery and cinematography. They almost jerk a couple of tears out of you near the end. Excellent character development which makes these robots believable and endearing. And they get tons of mileage out of nuanced animation that only reinforces the story and characters. I highly recommend it. I think I would've given it a solid "A" had there not been some minor plot holes, but I won't spoil the movie with pesky details. BTW, the animated short before the film was very tight and clever (a huge step up from the short they did before Nemo). Hats off to the folks in Emeryville.

Cat to Cardboard

Here's the near finished panel, sans lettering. This one was a fun one to see to fruition as I had to manage to tie in the alley cat and get the Peck up on a roof in short order. Hopefully that looks like debris on top of the building he's jumping onto. On the following page he surveys his city, Sactown.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cough. Cough.

Here is a peek at a Peck page I'm shading right now. Should have it done tonight. Need to work out some linework issues on the lower left panel (as well as shade it) and create more depth in the other two panels.

Smog report: The smoke is heavy right now in the Sac Valley. Something like 800+ wildfires started from a single lightning storm last week. The sunlight looks reddish on the sidewalk outside. Smells like a campfire; looks surreal. (Sigh). Stay in doors, crank the AC and draw.