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Tuesday, May 31, 2011
HEROES CON 2011 PRINT!
As promised, here is the first peek at one of the prints I'm going to have available at this year's Heroes Con. This one was a lot of fun. A little more design-y than I usually do, but it's the sort of thing that I really enjoy. I came up with this concept while I was working on the Arkham Asylum and Arkham Reborn books. I intended to pitch it as an alternate cover or something, but with the tight deadlines, I didn't have any time to work on much of anything else. So, in spite of that, I penciled the initial image and there it sat for well over a year. A few weeks ago I pulled it back out, dusted it off and every once in a while, when I got the chance I'd do a little something on it. Just this week, as I was trying to get back into working, I finally sat down and did the lions share of the painting on the piece.
The print will be 11x17 on nice stock. I'll have it available at Heroes, this next weekend for $15.00.
Also, check back in the next day or so and I'll put up another peek at another print I'll have available at the show!
Saturday, May 28, 2011
HEROES CON 2011- I WILL BE THERE!
In spite of the tragedy here in Joplin last weekend with the tornado, I WILL still be attending HEROES CONVENTION in Charlotte, NC (June 3-5).
I'm looking forward to Heroes, seeing friends, and getting to spend a little time with fans.
I'm going to have the usual swag: trades, books, and a TON of original art. I'll also be taking a limited number of sketches each day. As I've been doing for the past year or so, because of how fast my list has been filling up, I'm going to try and stick to head and shoulder color pieces. I want to make sure that everyone that wants a sketch can get one. I'll be asking $40 for sketches. Be sure to get on the list as soon as possible so that I can get you something.
Here's an example of the kind of thing you can expect.
This year, for the show, I'm going to have a couple new prints. I'll be posting jpegs of them in the next couple of days. I think you're really going to dig them!
Drop by and say "hi" if you get the chance. I'm looking forward to seeing you there!
Thursday, May 26, 2011
JOPLIN TORNADO DISASTER (PART 1)
It’s been a long, hard couple of days, so please forgive me if this comes out as some kind of stream of consciousness mess. In light of what happenened with the tornado hitting my hometown, Joplin, Missouri on Sunday, I kind of wanted to share our story. We were very lucky. So so lucky with it. Our losses were nothing compared to so many friends and family memebers here in town. So many people lost everything they owned. Far too many lost their lives. I’m wanting to get this down. Wanting to share it. I’m pretty sure, to some degree I’m still in shock at it all. I think we all are.
Sunday was a lazy day. I’d worked hard the night before. I woke up in the early afternoon and we, my wife Lori, and our two sons, Ethan (6) and Owen (22 months), decided to have a late “breakfast for lunch” and do a bit of running around.
After the big meal we decided to head to Home Depot, here in town. We spent an hour or so looking around the garden section, buying plants and mulch for our flower beds. As we were leaving, we noticed a storm coming in on the horizon. Black clouds to the west. We got in the car, planning to make two more stops, one to look at summer shoes for the family and then on to Target.
As we arrived at Shoe Carnival between 4th and 7th and Rangeline, the storm sirens went off. The manager said that we could come in, but we’d need to go to the back room safe area with the other customers and staff. We waited in the back room for around fifteen minutes when the manager said that it seemed to be better and we could leave if we wanted.
The thing about tornados in the midwest is that we have a lot of them in the spring. As horrible as it may be to say, we kind of get used to the idea that there are bad storms and ideal conditions for them pretty frequently. The sirens go off, you go to the basement and hang out. Most of the time nothing happens. ...most of the time.
After leaving the store, we walked out to the car and decided it was best if we headed home. Quickly. The black clouds were much worse. This was not letting up. We needed to get someplace safe. Luckily in Joplin, nothing is much of a drive. We could be home in just a couple of minutes. Thinking back, we probably should have stayed inside the store.
As we drove west down 7th street, the bank of clouds was getting worse and worse. We turned on the radio as it went from music to the emergency broadcast message. A tornado had touched down in Joplin. I looked to the South and saw an inexplicable shape, the funnel(s). There, among the pouring rain there was this gray black mass, stretching from the sky and in it's wake fire. Lori asked what we should do and the only thing I could think to reply was "Keep driving. It's lighter ahead."
We got home as the storm hit hard. The wind was blowing like crazy and the rain was coming down in buckets. My brother Eric and his friend were waiting at the house for us. We quickly took the boys in and Lori took them downstairs while I grabbed the essentials before following suit.
We were downstairs for a few minutes when I got a phone call from my photographer friend, Aaron Kafton. He was heading my way and said, "It's really bad.". We really had no context for it. We knew it was storming. We knew there was a tornado. We just didn't understand how bad it really was. Aaron pulled up outside and I met him at the front door. The skies were just black and it was raining as hard as I've ever seen it. We quickly went back downstairs with everyone else. Aaron had been out trying to get a few shots of the weather and told us that there were trees and power lines going down all over his neighborhood near Rangeline, the big "main drag" of Joplin. It was really bad.
At that same moment, live reports started to come in over the radio. Part of Rangeline was just gone. Pizza Hut was gone. Academy was gone. They thought Wal-Mart on 15th and Rangeline was gone. Walgreens was just gone. Home Depot was gone...
We'd just been at Home Depot. My family had been there. My boys had been there. It was gone. At that moment, it really started to sink in. This WAS worse than we could have imagined.
They announced that the tornado had passed and we walked outside to see how things were. The clouds were starting to dissipate. Aaron needed to get out there. He's a photographer and needed to shoot if he could. Eric said he wanted to check on his house. They left, Lori and I put the boys to bed, and we just stood there, confused-- unsure of what to do next.
We tried calling friends and loved ones to make sure that they were safe. No one was answering. We sent out text messages and heard nothing back. Nothing was connecting. We weren't getting through.
About that time we heard that the tornado had touched down all of the way across Joplin in a massive area between 20th and 30th streets. Details were spotty, but reports of destruction were massive. So many of the people that we were trying to reach lived in that area, between 20th and 30th st. My brother had driven off in that direction to his place on 22nd and Virginia. Our youngest brother William and his wife lived at 22nd and Kentucky. The boy's babysitter Stephanie and her children lived on 24th and Iowa. Our old house that we were getting ready to sell/lease was on 24th and Pennsylvania. Our best friends lived on 23rd and Sergeant . We couldn't reach any of them.
I told Lori that I should go look for them. Make sure they were alright. She agreed and stayed with the boys while I went out hoping to find our loved ones.
I stopped first at Hurley's Heroes, the local comic shop to check in on my friends, the shop owners, Nathan and Jason Hurley. When I got there Hurley was in the store with a couple of people. They were safe and still had power and water. Hurley was watching live footage from St. Johns hospital. We stood there just shocked. One of out two major hospitals had been hit hard in the wake of the tornado. All of the windows were blown out , massive parts of the hospital looked destroyed and they were reporting fires and explosions.
While we were watching the footage, my assistant Amber and her boyfriend Dan showed up to the store. I was relieved to find out that she was okay. She lived on the edge of the tornados path and I hadn't been able to get ahold of her either.
The more information we received, the more I wanted to try and get to our friends Emily and Tom. Everyone was saying that things were really bad near their home. I left the shop and headed towards 20th and Sergeant st. What was normally a 3 minute trip suddenly became a half hour ordeal. I knew that I should stay off of main roads to allow emergency vehicles to get through. The back streets were a mess of down trees and power lines. The closer I got to 20th street the more obvious it was that there was no way I was getting over there. I finally got a peek down Sergeant, where Emily, Tom, and their daughter Chloe lived, and could see nothing. There was destruction everywhere, fires and smoke.
At that point I kind of lost it. I don't know how to even explain it. These are people that we love more than anything. Our very best friends. Chloe is a little older than our six year old son Ethan, but she means the world to him. I frantically tried to call and text, but it still wasn't working. There was just no signal. I couldn't get across 20th to get any closer. There was now a line of cars going both ways on 20th. It was congested and unsafe.
I decided to take back roads across Main street and try to get to both of my brother's houses. That area was less congested, but it still took about 15 minutes to get anywhere near there. There were power lines down all over the place and finally at 21st and Virginia, I just couldn't get any further. Lines, trees and parts of houses were blocking all roads. People on foot and in cars were pouring out all over the place. I saw people pulling people out of rubble in the distance. I wanted to try to get out and go on foot to my brother's houses, but there was just no way to get out safely. Things were bad.
Adding to the chaos, idiots on big trucks were tearing around, driving through laws, cutting in lines, and pulling out quickly into stopped traffic. It was chaos and taking forever to get anywhere, but it was just bullshit. They were putting lives in danger.
With everything that was going on, I knew that the only thing I could do at that point was just get out of the way. I turned around and drove home. Again, the route took nearly a half hour. On the way back I tried to take even further side streets and warn people to stay away from that part of town.
I got home to Lori and broke down. I couldn't get to friends and family. I was no help. I didn't know what to do.
Things were kind of a blur, after that. We started to get texts. They were coming in long after they were sent. My youngest brother William and his wife were safe. They had stayed out the storm in a freezer at Charlie's Chicken. Other friends and family members were okay.
At some point, Aaron texted asking if we still had power and if he could come back by. He was soaking wet and needed to set up his system temporarily at the house to try and upload some of his shots. We looked at some of those initial photos he had taken amidst the destruction and just couldn't believe it.
While I was getting Aaron set up, there was a knock on my studio door. My buddy Neil stuck his head in. He just looked lost. Neil is one of my favorite people. He's got the best laugh. I'd never seen him like this. He said that he had lost everything. Neil lives on the second story of a small apartment complex just off of 20th street. When the tornado hit he was standing in his living room. He looked outside and saw the storm coming right at him. He ran back into the apartment grabbed the mattress off of his bed and tried to make his way to the bathtub as the apartment disintegrated around him. He made it as far as a doorway when he had to just kneel down, pull the mattress over him and hope. When the storm passed, he looked out and with the exception of the area he was on, covered by the mattress, the majority of the second floor around him was gone. He made his way down, barefooted, wearing only a t-shirt and lounge pants and began to try and help others in the complex. From there he walked across town before getting to the Starbucks he worked at and caught a ride to my place. Neil's fiancee, Megan was safe at work in the mall during all of this. Because of the way things happened he had no real way to get in contact with her. Finally he managed to get through, here, and they finally managed to meet back up. Seeing them reunite was one of the most uplifting parts of all of this. Neil's story was one of the real miracles of this horrible disaster. I'm so glad that both he and Megan were okay. We set them up in the studio guest room and tried to make them as comfortable as possible.
Not long after we got Neil and Megan settled, my assistant Amber showed up. She'd lost power to her house and came by to help as much as possible. Somewhere in there my mom and her husband Ron came by. I hadn't had much of a chance to talk with my brother, Eric, but they had gone to his place to try and help him salvage as much of his stuff as possible. Mom said the roads where nearly impassible and they were only able to make it to Eric's house on foot. They had carried out as much as possible. Trash bags filled with everything from valuables to DVDs. We helped unload the truck and tried to figure out what to do next.
About that time, our friends Emily, Tom, and their daughter Chloe pulled up. I was so glad to see them, safe. I broke down again. That seemed to be a trend throughout all of this. We helped them unload the things they had managed to bring with them.
They had been in their house when the tornado hit. Emily was watching the storm on TV and realized that they were seeing the tornado in their neighborhood on the screen. They ran to the bathroom and managed to make it into the bathtub as the funnel hit. It tore the roof and large portions of siding off of their house and shifted the entire structure on it's frame. Their house was almost completely destroyed, but they were safe. Emily is an nurse and as soon as they could leave the safety of the tub, they went out to check for wounded. She found a family that had been trapped out in the storm. The mother had a broken hand, the eleven year old boy had a badly broken arm, and the young girl's thigh was pierced by a chunk of wood. Emily applied a tourniquet to the girl's leg and found a man to help get the family to safety. From there Emily and Tom ran to Greenbriar Nursing Home. The facility was obliterated. People everywhere were trapped in the rubble. Along with a handful of others, Tom and Emily began to try dig out and save as many people as possible. They helped as long as they could. Working beyond the point of exhaustion. They were some of the bravest people I know, in all of this. Emily and Tom Walters are true heroes. I've never been more proud of friends.
We found out that Emily's 89 year old grandmother had fallen and broken her arm that morning and had actually been at St. Johns hospital along with Em's mother, durning the tornado. Both of them had made it through and she had been transported to the Galena Orthopedic Center. Because of the storm they hadn't been able to preform the surgery on her fracture. The Orthopedic Center isn't an actual hospital so patients weren't going to be able to stay there. We needed to go get to Galena and get Emily's grandma and mother. We had planned on going out for supplies. We needed water and essentials for everyone that had lost everything they had. Tom, Amber, and I jumped into my Honda Pilot, ran to the store quickly picked up supplies and headed towards Galena. We got to the Orthopedic Center as several other of the transferred injured were being loaded into ambulances to be moved outside of the area. Tom and I ran inside to help load grandma. She was doing well and was pretty comfortable thanks to a liberal dose of pain medication. Emily's mom had been through so much. She stayed with her mother through the tornado and entire ordeal. I was just happy we could help. We managed to get grandma loaded into the car and made the trip back to the house. It took some doing but we got her set up as comfortably as possible in a chair in our living room. Emily was so relieved to see them. They were all safe and secure.
When we arrived my buddy Hurley had come by to make sure that everyone was okay. Reports had come in about some looting already going on so he agreed to go with Tom, Aaron, and myself to Emily and Tom's place to try and salvage what we could before anyone could get to it. We unloaded the supplies and drove across town. It was slow going, but at 2am, the streets were finally mostly clear of cars. It took some navigating but we managed to avoid the downed trees and power lines. I hadn't been able to get to their neighborhood earlier in the day, and I was horrified at how bad everything was. Houses were pushed off of their foundations, missing roofs, and at times only a few walls were standing. Cars were everywhere-- turned over on their sides, crushed by trees, windows busted out, destroyed. We went inside and loaded as much as we could. We tried to get valuables, electronics, and any personal items we could think of. With four of us, the Pilot filled up pretty quickly.
We decided that since the roads were relatively empty and we wouldn't be in the way, we should drive over to my old house on 24th and Pennsylvania and to my brother's houses nearby. As we got closer and closer to that part of town, it went from recognizable destruction to an inexplicable wasteland. This was my neighborhood. My town. I could barely recognize anything. We crossed Main street into a veritable warzone. Cars, trees, and rubble littered the streets. We had to weave in and out of the debris just to get by. The only light, aside from the headlights was the occasional, haunting dome light from a car smashed or flipped any number of ways across the landscape. Several times in a six square block area we had to turn around and double back. Finally I stopped the car at the corner of 25th and Pennsylvania. I walked ahead of everyone else just trying to find some landmark something that identified my old house in the destruction. I finally saw it there. A hint of the front porch we had painted a beautiful deep shade or red the year our best comic creator friends came down from Kansas City for Thanksgiving. There it was...utterly destroyed.
After a year of marriage, way back in 1996 my wife Lori and I walked around the neighborhood of 24th and Pennsylvania. Along the way, we saw a beautiful old bungalow for sale. It was a nice place. A fixer upper, but there was just something about it. The real kicker, the thing that sold us was the oval glassed front door. We scraped together everything we had and purchased our first home. We loved that house. We put our blood, sweat, and tears into it. You hear people say they built "sweat equity" in something? That's what we did. With the help of friends and family we redid the wiring, stripped wallpaper throughout the house, redid the hardwood floors, painted it inside and out. It was the home we brought our oldest son Ethan home to. We lived there for ten years, before outgrowing it and moving across town to our current place. We kept the property. The economy had gone to pot and we decided to lease it until better times when we sell it to another family that would love it as much as we did. We leased it to a wonderful young family that moved here while the husband did his internship at Freeman hospital, here in town. They eventually moved on and we temporarily leased it to another couple. Lori and I, just this year had the conversation that it was time to let the house go. We weren't ready to lose it like this.
I stood there, looking at the rubble as my friends walked up behind me and for the third time that day, the tears came. In the dark I didn't dare venture far up onto the leveled mess, but there really wasn't much to see. I saw the porch, some bricks here, lath there. It was gone. I looked at it all in this crazy state of shock. I'd always imagined driving by with Ethan as he got older saying "Hey, there's the old house, E!" That wasn't going to happen. I needed to get out of there.
We hopped back in the car and I remembered that in all of the insanity we hadn't heard from the boy's babysitter, Stephanie and her family. Stephanie is a single mother with three wonderful kids. She has been a constant in my children's lives as since pretty much day one. She lived just six blocks from our old house, just a block from Joplin High School. We drove down through the destruction to her house. It was rubble. There were a few walls here and there, but the house was destroyed. Everywhere there were reminders of my children-- the toys they played with, the cots they napped on. We listened for any sounds anything as we stood there. There was nothing. They had to be gone. Hopefully somewhere safe. We just didn't know. Again, I was moved to tears. This day was just all too much.
We got in the car and slowly drove home. Along the way, we drove past both of my brother's homes. They were heartbreaking. Both houses still had at least some walls, but they were destroyed. William was safe outside of town with his in-laws and Eric and Salissa had gone back to my house. It was time to go home.
Once we got back we were all just absolutely spent, but everyone was still too on edge to get any real rest. We talked, tried to eat something, and tried to get everyone as comfortable as possible. Fifteen people were sleeping at my house that night. They were the people I love. They were brave wonderful people. I was happy that they were safe...that I could help in some way.
I didn't realize how much I was typing here... It's grown to be so much more than I had planned. I'm going to have to break it up into a couple of parts. This first part, Sunday night is longer than I expected it to be. I'll post the next part in the next day or so.
Thank you for reading.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
DESK SHOT 30!
Here we go with another Artifacts sneak peek shot. Interestingly enough, another silhouette shot. I'm really happy with this panel. There's more going on in the background that I had to crop out, but I wanted to give a strong silhouetted shape in the foreground and then go in with some nice detailed linework in the distance. It's an excellent way to indicate depth in a panel and lead the eye across the page. The snow blowing through the scene only adds to the depth and helps create a nice sense of atmosphere.
So there you have it, today's desk shot. Be sure to check back tomorrow for another one!
Monday, May 23, 2011
DESK SHOT 29!
Last month I posted a desk shot featuring a couple panels of a project I've been working on here and there in my spare SPARE time. It's going slow, so I still don't want to say too much about it, but I thought I'd show off another panel I'm working on.
I'm actually mid-inking in this shot. As you can see I'm using the Hunt 102 Crow Quill nib again. I really love the look I get with it. Some artists are brush only, some can get just as much effect with a roller ball pen. For me a crow quill just feels right.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for another desk shot. It'll be back to Artifacts teaser goodness. Can't spend TOO much time away from the book. Somewhere my Top Cow overlords are watching. Always watching.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
DESK SHOT 28!
Here is another fun desk shot from Artifacts! This time around it's a silhouette shot of the Darkness and Witchblade standing there looking like badasses. On one level silhouettes are kind of an easy thing. I mean, it's just a black shape on paper, right? The trick of it is always drawing an image that works as a solid shape and is still recognizable as the character and looks cool standing there. I think I really pulled it off here. The characters are recognizable as the Darkness and Witchblade and they have an interesting shape. I think a good silhouette makes for a strong image. I like to throw it in here and there. It has to fit and not be used as an cop out. When it does though, I think it can really add to a scene.
Okay, that's it for this desk shot. Check back tomorrow and I'll have another one!
Saturday, May 21, 2011
DESK SHOT 27!
Here is another Artifacts sneak peek. This time around it's Glori, keeper of the Ember Stone.
I'm about midway through inking the panel, here. You can see that I've gone in and done all of the figure linework. As usual this was done with a Hunt 102 Crow Quill nib. I really like the organic, varied line I get with it. After this I'll go in and ink the background, probably with Pigma Micron pens. From there, I'll pass off the page to my trusty assistant and she'll fill in the black spaces for me.
I've really pushed myself to make my female characters strong and beautiful. I feel like I'm finally starting to get the hang of it. I think this is a good example of that. Luckily there is no shortage of powerful, beautiful women for me to draw in the Top Cow universe!
I'll be posting a new desk shot every day this week, so be sure to check back for a new one.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
I'd intended to update earlier this week, but everything that could possibly get in the way of me doing so, did.
On the positive side of things, I had a marvelous week. A lot of big things happened. I can't share too much about it, but I can say that it was a great week for my comics art work, writing, and possibly some really exciting news from Hollywood way. I promise to share news here, as soon as I can.
In the meantime, I'm going to be posting a lot of new stuff until the end of the month. I've been needing to post photo blogs from my past few shows, some more Instagram shots, and a ton of new desk shots.
So look for all of that over the next week or so!
Friday, May 13, 2011
After a week or so off, here are more shots from my Instagram gallery. I'm still pretty obsessed with the app. I really love taking pictures. Even with my phone. Before Instagram came along I really didn't take many pictures beyond gathering reference stuff. Using the app has been a fun way for me to record stuff around me, daily life, and most importantly, my family.
This set of shots features the end of my trip to Seattle for ECCC, the exhibit of my work at the local Missouri Southern State University - Spiva Art Gallery, and my week at home before C2E2. I hope you enjoy the shots.
Standing in the security line at the Seattle airport.
KCI long term Parking.
I've got a show featuring work from my 10yrs in comics at MSSU Spiva Art Gallery.
The fastest man alive!
My shadow knows...
Harry Potter UNO. A game of skill.
Break time in the studio.
At the closing reception for my original comic artwork exhibition at the MSSU Spiva Art Gallery.
Another shot from the show.
Another shot from the show.
At dinner after the reception. Basil Fresh Roll!
Tom kah kai!
Roasted pork lo-mein
Drawing the Easter Bunny with E.
My take on the Easter Bunny. Ethan was not a fan.
Take two. According to Ethan, MUCH closer.
Decided to go for a nice family picnic. ...by the time we got outside it was cold & pouring.
That's it for Instagram 5. I'll get back to posting these on a regular basis.
Thanks for checking them out!
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
DESK SHOT 26!
Okay, I'm FINALLY getting caught back up. It sucks that I haven't had time to post much, however, the good side is, I've hit my ARTIFACTS deadline and am moving on to the next issue. This issue has pretty much kicked my butt. I've got to say, though, it might be the best thing I've drawn to date.
I still can't share much more than a snippet here and a snippet there, but I've got a few fun ones to share with you this week.
I'll kick things off with this follow up to the last desk shot. Here are two, that's right TWO inking process shots of that Tom Judge panel. I'm pretty happy with the way it came out. Like I've said, I could pretty much draw Tom Judge for the rest of my career. He's such a cool character.
Anyway, now that I'm caught up, things should go back to a MUCH more normal posting schedule. Look for a bunch of new stuff over the next couple of weeks.
As always, thanks for checking out my little corner of the web. I appreciate it!