Thursday, June 17, 2010

Back in Action!

American Clockwork is back in action. Much work is ahead as is usual...but much ground has also been covered in book 1. I don't get as many opportunities to do environments in this book overall, but establishing shots are great excuses to have some fun with the landscape and setting.The book is NOT about camping...or living like a hippy in the woods...the buildup to the story is slow at first, but then it gets crazy at the end. It will all makes sense later...heheheh.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

American Clockwork updated


American Clockwork is back in production! Here is a sample page of my layin work before moving to the final ink and tone finals. This art is more about proportion and overall gesture working from both imagination and from reference studies I made.

Friday, October 16, 2009

APE 2009

Although we have put the graphic novel on hold previously, we still are moving forward and are debuting our production studio at the Alternative Press Expo 2009 in San Francisco this weekend. We will have an early sneak peek of the first volume of American Clockwork available at the show as well as some fun stuff like prints and posters. Come see us at table #509 at the Concourse. The first person to mention this blog at the show gets a free 20x30 inch poster like the one shown immediately above which is taken from our cover art for the first book. The image above that poster is a sample page from the Prologue section of our story. This project will pick up steam in the new year and is scheduled for completion in 2010. Since this is a three book saga, there is much more in store ahead. Hope to see you at the show!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

American Clockwork Update

Above: Howard gets a taste of jail for a crime he committed in the name of love. For reasons I will not get into here, the graphic novel is being delayed. In the past month or so priorities got shifted and other projects took center stage. I am still working on American Clockwork, the other night I was up til the crack of Dawn illustrating the first two sections. The amount of work that will be going into this book is tremendous, and hopefully will also get a tremendous response from future readers. I created a first dummy book of those two sections and now that I have a copy of it in my hands, I can see clearly how the type is reading and how the layouts are or are not working. Overall, this is great as I have made some minor changes to the layout to improve the story flow and in some cases even the performance of the characters. We are going to APE this year, and I have thought alot about what this show is about. It's a great place to share your passion about making comics and related artforms. It's a place to get our feet wet in this industry and prepare for bigger events like the San Diego Comic-Con. One thing I have found out is that this book we are creating is huge. It's a massive project for a small company. It will take some time to complete, but it will be completed. Because we are an independent comic maker, we are NOT beholden by a publisher to edit our content or have impossible or arbitrary deadlines imposed on us. That's the great part. The hard part is raw work ahead. But I enjoy every minute of it and look forward to sharing the results with you in the future.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Busy Busy Busy!

I didn't want to leave the blog dry since I'm drawing and painting furiously to get this done, so here is a small peek into where we are and what the story is like. It's been too long since the last post, but for me, that is a good thing because I have been cranking away on this graphic novel project, finishing tonals and laying out the finished dialog all the way up to page 55 (image shown is page 50). One and a half more chapters to complete dialog and then I move onto the final art. I have deliberately taken this course to allow the author and myself a chance to actually read our book with judgeable art in place. Even though this art is supremely rough it is fairly close in mood to what the final panels will feel like. This has given us a chance to make sure the story is flowing and we are able to follow it. This flexibility has allowed us to make all kinds of edits as I layout the dialog and even change character staging as needed to get the best performance from the dialog alone. The rest will have to come from the final art. And that is going to be the most fun! Being that this is our first graphic novel, it has been an enjoyable pleasure amid the pitfalls, to learn just how hard it is to make one. There is so much to consider, it can seem overwhelming. I feel like I have learned so much already since that first thumbnail I drew on the printed script, I know that I will approach the second and third volume entirely armed with new knowledge and approaches that I think will work even better.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I want to take the time out of this blog to highlight the struggle of my friends Jason and Kam for all the hard work they do to fight HIBM. This is for you Kam, wishing you all the best: "With ARM we have created this dollar campaign with the hopes of raising 1 million dollars to enable human therapeutic trials to fight HIBM. We are asking for two things: First, go to WEBSITE ( to donate $1. Second, send this email on to all your friends and family. In the Internet age, reaching one million people in that amount of time is surely do-able. If you are interested in becoming a bigger influence in this campaign, host your own dollar collecting campaign in your community, church, workplace, among your friends and family and donate what you've collected as one donation. Or you can post this story and image on your own blog and Facebook page. The more people we can reach increases the awareness of HIBM. HIBM (Hereditary Inclusion Body Myopathy) is a progressive and debilitating muscle-wasting disorder caused by a gene defect. It touches those between the ages of 20 and 40 and, although progression is slow, it typically leads to total disability within 10-15 years. Studies suggest that HIBM may be easier to cure than many other disorders or diseases, the only limiting factor is funds. Thank you for your support, Jason Hazelroth "

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Our graphic novel is now back on track after being out of action for a few weeks. Here is one of the first character studies I made that is very close to the type os drawing styles you will see in the final book. This is the narrator and main character of the story in his late life as a grandfather. The bulk of the story takes place in his youth, however. American Clockwork, which is the title, is the story of his life, and it is epic in scope and scale. We've cut the size of the first volume down to 84 pages and maybe to 80 pages as I finalize the layouts. Look for more characters to post on this blog as we finalize their designs and create the finished pages. Alot of editing has been done with the layouts you saw earlier, mostly just tightening up the flow of dialog and story beats. I'll post those in the future at some point. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Update! Here is a first look on the tonal pass for Chapter 1 of "the book". We will release the title name later, when we are closer to finishing. We now have a complete tonal pass for this chapter aside from a few pages that need rewriting. These passes really give character to each chapter I am finding out. As raw as they are...they are really the biggest read on the artwork you will get...and to me the most important. If I don't like it at this point I won't like it later with more details. This also gives me an opportunity to check out the spreads and see how they are working against each other. I intentionally left out the dialog in this case, because we already covered that in the prologue tonal. We do intend to experiment more with talk bubbles, font choices and fx sounds as we get closer to final. I think the next time we post will be a sample showing those choices. Thanks for reading and please come back as we begin fleshing out concepts for characters, vehicles, props and environments.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Now for the fun stuff!

I've just began the tonal pass on our graphic novel, starting with page one of the prologue. These quick tonal passes set the mood overall for the final imagery. There is still room for improvisation and details for the final artwork. In doing this first pass, I suddenly have had some clarity as to how I might finish this. It will be a combination of tone and drawing...mixing it up here and here, saving details for the focal point. These tonal comps are very low rez and do not indicate the final resolution or texture. Storywise, I made some minor changes with the layout from the initial concepts posted earlier in this blog. I really love the idea of starting with a super tight shot of the boys shoes as he and his dog run splishing and splashing through a creekside in the forrest. It's instant action on frame one page one...different from the previous setup where I started with the panel just below...a wide expositional shot. Reversing it, I found it way more interesting. Also notice how I spaced out the dialog...the boy say earlier..."come on boy!" panel...boy with dog...and the dog barks. This gave the panels themselves more each one is responding to the other. This is a better way to guide the reader through the panels than having all that in one panel. I think it also helps with the pace...where timing has been introduced now. It is far more interesting than before. The prologue is so VASTLY different than the rest of the story that follows...but that is the point. We intend to show contrast...the peacefulness and serenity of the forrest...and then the "blank" of the rest of the story. It's going to be quite exciting. If you have read this far...thanks! More to come!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Status Update

This single page represents a tiny fraction of the entire book, but shows where we are with the production. We have finished the insertion of all dialog and fx for the first book. There are about 96 pages or so like this now. The actual layout of both the text and the artwork are still rough and are mostly for basic content of the page. I'm keeping this thing alive by allowing for changes all the way to the end, however, I'm also anxious to see what a final page might look like. One of the challenges I have set up for myself is to create artwork that visually has a range of voices, yet has some coherent structure to it all. I won't treat every panel the same way, and in some case, I won't treat the subjects the same way within the same panel even. I love drawing, sketching, and painting, and I want to see if I can someway capture a little bit of all of that in the final artwork. I think I would get bored so quickly if every panel matched up exactly...although I do love that in other artist's work. But to be behind the scenes making my own needs to stay fun for me. Especially since this entire series will likely take up the next few years of my life. Three books are planned and the next two might be bigger. We'll see. I hope you will join us on our journey as we create the first book.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chapter 4 Rough Layout

This is the rough layout for the last chapter of our first book. The entire first book is really introducing you the's the exhibition of the story. You will meet the hero and see what sets him off on his journey. This chapter is violent...well more than the others, but pointedly so...after all this is the climax of this book, but just the beginning of the story... Thanks for reading this far if you started from the beginning. This blog is starting to get some legs of its own. I'll try to stay more on topic of the exposed development of this graphic novel, but if I digress, it's because you need that once in a while to stay sane. In upcoming posts I will start adding the visual development sketches for everything from characters to backgrounds, props and other visual elements that will make up this graphic novel. We really want to show our process and progress and invite you to be a part of this. Feel free to comment, show your support, or give constructive, creative, genuine criticism.

Chapter 3 Rough Layout

Chapter 3 is complete. Sorta. There are some massively epic shots that still need to be created, so for the sake of speed they were left out of this layout. The point of this exercise is to get the character story down visually which is here. This Chapter really came together in one night after meeting with the writer and going through this rough layout and comparing it to the script. We found a way that works for both of us with this chapter. He gets to see his story visualized in a way that impacts his writing and we sort out what changes need to happen either visually or in written form, or both. It's very addictive way to create because it is so dynamic as both the writer and me, the artist, are creating at the same time. We found solutions in one night much faster than a traditional email back and forth that might last days or weeks. It is a process we hope to repeat for the second and third volumes since it cuts the time down required to visualize and layout the script.

Chapter 2 Rough Layout

At last I've the time to post up Ch2 in rough layout form. I've also got Ch3 and Ch4 done as well so I'll be posting those tonight, too. Each chapter will end in a cliffhanger of one sort or another and then lead you to read the title and quote for the next chapter. After seeing this initial rough layout and adding the dialogue there are changes that are going to be made to tweak the imagery, dialogue, and layouts so that the story is flowing the way it is meant to be. This process is the same for the next two chapters which can be seen in the posts that follow this one.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Chapter 1 Rough Layout

Here is chapter one in the same form of the prologue in the post before this one. The layouts are still very rough placeholders for the final artwork but gives us a sense of the pacing and timing of the story. What is sorely missing are the tones that give focus to the images and create background, middleground, and foreground space. The two page spreads with the Hollywood sign are an indication of what that spread might be like. Also page one of chapter one is close in its tone to the final piece. I'm off to do another pass on Chapter 2 and will be posting it in this form for all the following chapters. To see how I got here take a look at the earlier post where I rapidly thumbnail out the entire story:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Prologue Rough Layout

Here is an update to the Prologue of our graphic novel which you can now see is in the format of a book with double page spreads. This very rough version is the first look in book form. Reading from top left across the page is the first four pages and so forth for the next row. If you take a look at my earlier post you will see how much has changed from the earlier prologue thumbnails and what has come across intact. The writer has added text and the next version of this post will show that. There is more work to be done, so back to the drawing board.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hollywood Burns

Finally some new work from my new graphic novel currently under way. This two minute sketch was just a place holder to be used as a two page spread. Yes, I have a palm tree brush. ;) It is not final by far, but in the time I had I got down a feel that I think I am happy with. The top part will be San Francisco but that one is not clear and needs to be redone. The final idea is to have a scene of total destruction just after "The Big One" strikes California... *shudder*...hopefully that is just part of our story I never have to live that again.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Cutting Room Floor

Here are some thumbs I did for the first chapter of the graphic novel. In many ways it is a direct translation of the text. I've interpreted where I quickly could, otherwise, it is quite literal from the script. Once I have gathered all the ideas for the visuals here like I did in the previous post on the Prologue, I begin to edit it down to the essentials that are either truly needed to carry the story or are needed to provide visual interest. I think it is alot of fun to strike a balance between the written word and the visual image. Sometimes they can compliment each other so well, other times, you really want one or the other to dominate. You get a gold star if you any sense of a story from this without knowing the script. heheheh! My intention here is not to reveal the story, but to show my process for making a graphic novel...graphic.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dogs like to Pee on Trees.

After taking all the thumbnails from the previous step we land here: The rough layout for one of the pages in the Prolugue. It isn't final and I think will be revisted much like the rest of the prologue. Doing the pagination layout for the visual story and script is an interesting challenge and completely different than anything I have done before. I can see I need to move the dog and tree in the first panel closer to center toward the boy. I'm not quite satisfied with the center section since it isn't reading too clear. I like the dog. There is something there I don't want to lose in the final. I may put up some more layouts from the prologue but not till I get them to at least this stage. In the meantime I have thumbnailed all of Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 which I will be posting in the future. I may also be posting some of the intial design concepts for the different settings, characters, and props. That might be a nice change up now and then. If you have read this far, thanks for your interest and please leave any constructive comments you can think of.

And now it begins...

This is the prologue of a graphic novel I'm now producing. These are very first initial thumbnail sketches to get the idea of the story across very VERY rapidly...drawings are less than a minute each...some just a few seconds or so. The thing that takes longer to do is read the script and come up with what you see in your head in the first place. This has been a great loosing up exercise for me and has got me to really see the value of using thumbnails as placeholders for bigger ideas. This also allows me the chance to search at this early stage for visual moments that can work for the given dialogue and narration that I get from the script. I haven't included that here because...well...that's the secret we won't be letting out until the book is done. Also it let's me create independently of both text and format. These are just visual ideas. There are some interesting victories and some humbling defeats but all in all, this is the very first attempt to put pen to paper and let er rip. The focus is to create the icons that will drive the visuals for the layouts and not to create the final comps themselves. I find this method to be useful because it gives the writer the flexibility to revise the story as we progress and also gives me, the artist, the flexibility to plug in new material without affecting the page layouts whatsoever. This is hardly a typical approach to comic creation, but then again, we aren't typical comic creators. In essence this is a huge mess of visual brainstorming, but don't worry, we'll sort it out in the next post.