Monday, April 26, 2010

ZX cover

Working on the cover, slowly.

I'm going to do the coloring this time, sadly Ptoing doesn't have the time in this juncture. Probably for the best since my next project is going to be in -some sort of- color so this is training.

I'm going to go with a focal yellow light and dark, earthy rust and purple colors in the stuff around. I hope I do a good job, I never felt comfortable with color.

On other news I'm expecting to hear from a few Greek publishers soon. I'll be making the final page of the book I was talking about, I've decided. After the cover.

Oh, the gesture and text of ZX on the focal piece is a placeholder :)


Monday, April 19, 2010

Back from the convention.

Well that was fun. I sold out of 'Ektos Thematos' - well, I only took 32 pieces with me... they're really heavy to carry. I ran out just as the convention was winding down though so my sixth sense is accurate. I have... *goes to count*

about a hundred copies left. Also, check out that phantasmal profile on the wall. Visited by Apollo?

Friend and co-conspirator Thanos (of the now sadly dormant but hopefully not defunct 'Days of the Locust' cine-blog) also has another two packs stashed at home in case of emergency so the grand total of unsold Ektos Thematos is about one hundred and sixty copies out of a print run of five hundred. These were circulated mostly hand-by-hand at three conventions, a minuscule quantity through fanzine-friendly comic shops and of course a significant amount through the Catch The Soap mailorder (from where you may still order your copy if you feel like it) without any formal promotion or other marketing efforts within the span of almost a year. I count the project as a modest success in that I didn't make any huge money out of it but didn't lose any money either. Artistically I still like most of the material in the book and perhaps at some point in the future would venture a second print edition via some more formal publisher so the book can outlast my however-brief mortality, safely tucked between other comic inconsequentialities in the bookshop shelf.

I didn't win the 'Best Fanzine' award in this years' Comicdom Awards but Mike did so I can't really complain!

On the other front, there has been interest expressed by a number of our local publishers in my ZX comic and I have gathered a lot of useful critique and feedback by many comrades & acquaintances. Things look hopeful for a Greek official printing soon, and who knows, an international may follow.

I might be drawing a SINGLE extra page for the comic soon, but I also might not be, I haven't made up my mind. I have some time to consider it while Ptoing works his magic on the cover.

Comic conventions rejuvenate me somehow by making me feel useful and relevant to a society I don't have too much to do with on a normal, daily basis. The return after them is bitter-sweet. On one hand I look forward to my peace and quiet for some days, on the other I tend to feel increasingly useless in that timespan. However this blog is useful in yet another way by reminding me that I'll have to post... something here at least every Monday. Got to get my affairs in order!

All that being said I feel strangely ready to tackle my next project.

Keep reading...


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Comicdom Con 2010

poster by Mike Dialinas

So, it's that time of the year again. Greek readers who would like to meet up are encouraged to come to the Fanzines room of Comicdom Con 2010. I'll be selling last year's comic collection 'Ektos Thematos' if you'd like to buy one. But even if you don't and just want to talk, don't be shy! I used to be quite intimidated by the Fanzine room before I became a small-press guy myself, but now that I know better the people in there would like nothing more than strangers coming up to them and chatting.

I'll be trying to sell the book to publishers there so a few home-printed versions of the ZX comic will be there, free to be browsed and discussed.


Monday, April 12, 2010

That's a nice number.

It's ruined in a split-second so I took the chance to commemorate. The elder gods are pleased.


ZX Post-vitum 1 : comic plastic surgery

I've been going over the comic many, many times after I did the last few pages and I've been keeping meticulous notes of what I'd like to fix per-page. Some pages are fine as they are, some need just lettering fixes (good god, the sloppy, amateurish lettering!) and others need full fledged redraw-the-panel overhauls.

On one hand this is because in the last 10 months, I have grown not only as a comic artist (well, a little I guess) but also as a digital comic artist (I now have complete mastery of Manga Studio, and if I make any money off of this comic, I'm going to be buying a full license, they deserve it and it's good karma too). So now I see things in earlier pages that look alright, but could be done much cleaner and simpler by using all the tools of Manga Studio. I have decided however, to not go into fixing such textures and effects because it's disingenuous; Let the comic reflect the process I went through. Besides, there's something pleasing about how it starts of fairly minimal-looking and then towards the end becomes fuller and more nuanced in the inking. An interesting unintentional 'inking as commentary' effect.

On the other hand, some changes have to be made because the character's faces are either distorted or have outright changed from the beginning to now. Like on the very second page (crop pictured above) the original Stephan looks way more morose and severe than I needed him to look in the opening of the story. I had to change his face to a more neutral, innocent tone, because I expect some readers will finish the story and then turn to the beginning and start over. It won't do to go from the last-page-Stephan to the first-page Stephan to find him looking so fatigued and weary. I kind of liked how he looked to the reader in the original version, a sort of knowing look, but let's not be too clever, he's unaware of what's going to happen so I changed his eyes to look to his left. Also the black eyebrows were changed to the lighter-colored ones that became the default in the continuation of the comic. Check out the newly added Greco-Roman nose job too! That's what you get when you start a comic without having done 20 pages of character studies to get their look down completely, right? But consider the upside: if I had done 20 pages of character studies before I started this comic proper, I would have never finished it. I know this now. This is the only knowledge I have to offer other struggling comic artists: start drawing, now. Fix lazy mistakes later, have the comic in your hands and then you can afford changing whatever. Don't bother with too much foundation work. You are not an architect. You are a poet. (or to be more precise: if you find yourself unable to go through with building your comic after you've laid all the meticulous foundations for it, then you're the poet type. If you can manage it however then you might be one of those fabled poet-architects that achieve amazing success at anything they set their mind to do. Congratulations!)

Many small such fixes occur in the first 15 pages of the comic (that's how many I've gone through so far, today I'll do the rest) but for the reader the changes will not always be discernible. This is not because they are not major changes sometimes (some faces have been completely redrawn, for example) but because what the faces signify has rarely changed so the reader's memory will improvise with the new data and not worry the consciousness by sending it signals that stuff has changed. Only in two panels so far have I changed the actual expression of the characters to better convey their emotional status. I count this as a minor victory, it means that although I've struggled to draw people right in this comic the problem was with where their eye or nose would best be situated, not with what emotional expressions they held.

The other big thing about the comic is fixing the lettering. Because it was the last job I had to do for any given page of these, it's the most rushed, awful thing. Especially in the English version of the comic, at around page 8 to 20 it's a mess. Complete re-lettering has to occur and I'm not looking forward to it, oh not at all. I hate lettering. I'm now fixing the Greek versions so I can show it to publishers in a reasonable reading form in the upcoming Comicdom Convention, but straight after that I'll be spending two awful, tiring days re-lettering most of the English version too, so I can e-mail samples to the various publishers.

Although that's a bit of work if you think about it, my brain doesn't count it as such. It feels just like spring cleaning, moving a few furniture about. The comic is finished, now all that's left is to finish it.



Thursday, April 8, 2010

ZX page 42, 43 : Dream's end

The comic has ended.

Just a cover to do, fix errors in all the pages (I estimate that'll take a week or so) and then I start on the painful trek to publishing. I'll try my luck with the Greek publishers first, at the annual Comicdom Convention that occurs on 16. 17 and 18 of this month. If you're Greek and you'd like to meet me you can seek me out at the fanzine room as usual. I'll post about it when it's about to happen, again.

If you have any thoughts on the comic you could share them in the comments. I'll be tweaking the art and writing in the past pages but probably not posting them hey, I have to save something for the printed version, right? The meanings of the comic will not change so although this is not yet the definitive version, it is complete.

- Helm


Sunday, April 4, 2010

ZX page 41: pillars of doubt

I opted to use a different vantage because I didn't want to do the usual Marathon dam shot. I used this photograph for reference. It kind of looks wonky architecturally in the comic but so it does in the reference too, perhaps it wasn't such a good idea to use unreal-looking reference but it did suit my purposes on a few higher levels. One is that is gives the page a nice overall construction, panel segments slotted into natural divisors. The other is that I wanted to place the monologue of Stephan on top of the pillar that supports the bridge because his doubts are shaking up the foundation of the relationship between the two of them. The black/white contrast between them in the establishing shot is a further indication of distance, of the here and the beyond. I don't expect anyone reader to read my comic and go "oh, the doubts are over the foundation of their relationship, nice!" because I think these things work best - and are most worth it - when they leave a subconscious mark. I only mention such here because I know that some readers enjoy post-analysis of an the art as a separate joy to actually reading the comic.

Marathon's already looking better, by the way. I mean after we burned it down last summer. My friend Vasilis showed up out of the blue and gave me a ride over there, it was a very pleasant afternoon. I dreaded going back because of the summer fires but it seems the green is back at least. The trees will take a while. Possible dam walkers are invited back, I guess. I wonder if we'll burn it again this summer.

Next couple of pages end this story. I'll try to post them both at the same time (if not on next Monday then certainly a couple of days later) so as to not diminish the impact of the finale. Then it's revisions on the art and a cover left to do. I'm not looking forward to trying to shop this around but in the same time, I am, if that makes sense. The comic certainly feels as if it's over already for me even though I haven't drawn the next two pages. It's over in my brain and in my heart. Drawing the last bits and then fixing the badly drawn bits before them is just routine housekeeping now. What's strange (strange? perhaps not so much) is that it has brought some psychological issues on the surface it seems I have to tackle directly soon. I guess it's a good thing if your art surprises you, right?



Friday, April 2, 2010

Wait, what? There's good prog metal too?!

Over at Illogical Contraption friend and fellow discordian Shelby Cobras is hosting a mammoth piece by me on Progressive Metal that Time Forgot. If you're interested in the music form, go check it out. The hilarious images are not my doing, as everyone knows I have no sense of humor.