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1/16/2005

Lame-Up, part duex 


So here's what happened with the Lame Character Revival some of us small press creators challeneged each other to:

My publisher, Lance Boucher, has a definite penchant for what we refer to as the "Golden Age" of comics. That is, back when Marvel Comics was just starting out, DC was the main publisher of super heroe adventures, and you could tell the difference between heroes and villains. Stories were simple and fun, and comics were meant to be read and enjoyed, not collected and shock inducing.

Lance and I both thought it would be a neat idea to get our characters to meet somehow, either in collected stories in an anthology or through a direct team-up. A kind of throw-back to when comics were simpler and our creations matched the feeling.

After throwing ideas back and forth -- and re-reading some of my old comics -- I came across a special comic a bunch of cartoonists from my area did for my first publisher. We called it the "Buffalo Jam", and it was silly little story with tons and tons and tons of parodies, covering everyone from Gumby to Disney to Pogo to comic strips to the Justice League to manga and anime. The funny thing about the whole plot was that we were promoting the modernization of comic books, touting how it was all right to update comics to fit with changing societal norms. The villain -- my character -- was called the ReVamper, and he was actually stealing old comics to wipe them out from fandom's memory, and changing old characters to fit with the new way comics were being written.

The heroes finally convinced him to allow those old books to survive, telling him it was fine to change so long as we remembered our roots. Nice moral, eh?

Well, when it came time to actually hammer out a plot for the new book (which I started calling the "Lame-Up"), I remembered the ReVamper's modus operendi (who says comic can't teach?) and it took only the most minor of tweaking to bring him back. Now, instead of trying to modernize everything, he's trying to recall the days of "olde". He'll be kidnapping modern heroes and leaving only those with pure and simple motivations, fitting right in with our original challange.

the ReVamper Posted by Hello


Now, I'm gonna take one helluva risk here.

We're looking to make this a seriously decent project. Lance and I would like to make this something all participants could take and promote at conventions. We haven't figured out all the logistics yet, but right now that's not important.

What's crucial is that we get a few more participants.

So, if you're a cartoonist with a couple of old (or lame) characters laying around that you'd like to shove into our little parody, let me know. You'll retain the rights, of course, and if we can work this right, you'll even be handling the art chores for your chapter.

Reminiscing is good for the soul.




Doc "I Remember It Well" Absurd

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See Tim I read your stuff. I hope we can do something with this project. NINO might join in though he's concerned about certain elements.
We really have to get a plot going and get a writer.

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Lame-Up, part 1 


Here's a little bit of creative history for you.

I've been cartooning professionally (meaning getting "paid" for my work) for almost 20 years. Haven't had much success comparatively; I'm not exactly a household name, and my characters aren't lined up for animated features. But I have been in this business long enough to have forgotten my origins.

Back when I first started, I had my own comic. Lasted all of two issues. But the characters from the book managed to appear in several other publications before I changed my focus to science fiction. I never really fleshed them out in as much detail as I do today; they were simple broad parodies of super heroes, and back then that was enough.

Which explains why I forgot about them.

In yet another of the infamous creative chats, we started talking about old characters and how lame they were in comparison to our more recent creations. We even started a thread on the boards. And then someone challenged others to update their lame characters to match our current styles. That came at a very convenient time; I just found a batch of my old comics and was seriously considering reviving some of the old guard.

One character in particular always struck me as funny (funny "ha ha", not funny "strange"). His name was Generic, a cheap bounty hunter who hired himself out for really odd jobs on the cheap. I never got the chance to fully work with him, as my book got canned and the anthologies he was appearing in followed suit. But when I saw his visuals with a fresh eye, he stuck with me. So I answered that revival challenge with this:

Generick, Hero for Hire. For Less. Posted by Hello


Yup, made him an alien, but I kept his schtick intact. In fact, his first appearance basically wrote itself (which I really need to get off my arse and start very soon) based right on the whole "for less" routine.

Odd how things work like that.

Even odder how the whole "Lame Character Revival" has developed into something beyond what I expected. And I'll explain that in my next entry.

Stick around for a few. It's coming right up.




Doc "To Be Continued" Absurd

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And It Just Got Worse . . . 

I swear, I hadn't intended to write another segment of what I jokingly refer to as my life, but . . .

Well, you decide if I really needed to.

We're evicted. Went through that whole schpiel last time.

Needless to say, I'm stressing like a fecking lunatic. I've packed a third of the studio (so many toys, so few boxes), a bunch of unnecessary decorations, most of my bookshelf (approximately a small library) and a load of extra dishes and cups. I'm gonna have to sell my comic book collection (hint hint) to get money for deposits and such, so that's another project I have to start. Still have to keep up on regular cleaning, and add on patching holes from shelves and pictures and such. And I start yet another job next week (a grand total of 6 now; I'll tell you about those in a bit); teaching a cartooning course, which means tons of preparation.

I'm searching for a new place to live somewhere in the neighborhood because I don't want to find a new job, and because the Things feel like this is their area; we have our church, our store, our park, our walk, and I won't give that up. And the brunt of packing has automatically fallen upon my shoulders. Which makes the fifth time in the 9 years we've been together this same scenario is playing out.

Of course, the Bitter Half sees nothing wrong with this. "It's not like we're moving to another state."

Well, no feck. But then, she's only working one job. I've got cartooning, writing, public relations for a website and related comic conventions, teaching, stock at the store, and I just accepted a position as managing editor for the website's columns. Balance that with my regular household duties plus managing the move . . .

This is officially the year of the burn-out.

Oh, but wait. It just got better.

The Bitter Half just bought a new car. No, let me correct that. A new SUV. After driving our other car into the ground in less than a year, she decided she couldn't live another second without her "dream" vehicle. So, I'm supposed believe that, without a dime for a downpayment and inside a week and enough debt to make a credit card cry, she got an SUV with no questions.

I repeat, we have no money for a move. We have no prospects. Basically, we have no hope. But she's got her "dream" car.

And we just had a major row about where we're gonna live. She's "considering" moving into a trailer park. Okay, I don't mean to offend anyone, but the parks around here consist of two types of people: retirees or white trash. And how the feck does she expect us to got from a 3 bedroom lower -- with basement and attic and studio area -- to a trailer? And that's not even considering her comment about my job. "There's a gas station and another store from your chain nearby." Sure, I'll just go from one shitty job to another; easy transfer, who fecking cares, right? It's not like I'm important or anything. Sorry, but I want a garden in my front yard, not a pick-up on cinder blocks.

Not to mention that, in the school district we live in, we get free busing for Thing 1 (and soon Thing 2) and free speech therapy for Thing 2. Let's not bring that into the equation, because she obviously cares what that might mean to them, right?

But she's got her SUV.

And we don't want her to suffer.




Doc "Save Your Boxes" Absurd

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1/05/2005

Just When You Think Life Can't Get Any Worse . . . 

It always does.

We just got evicted today. Our landlord came to our door and served us -- served me -- with a notice to vacate the premises by the end of March. The letter stated something to the effect of, "Too many late rent payments; too many bounced checks."

Let me set the stage properly:

I started working -- outside of my full-time duties as the stay-at-home parent (read: housewife) -- in August. I took over the payments of all utilities, leaving the Bitter Half with only rent to pay. I took over the utilities with $800 due for gas, $300 due for electric, and $200 for the phone. And all three had been shut off at least once during 2004. In fact, she overdrew our bank account to the tune of $1400, knowing that a check to the gas company was still clearing (something else I have to pay now, even though she destroyed my bank card and has never let me use the account once). I took over the utilities to ease her feelings of "financial responsibility", since I obviously had no idea how draining all that could be. Please note that was written with the utmost of sarcasm.

I make between $30 to $70 a week, depending on how many hours the store is willing to give me. I can't work any more than that because I still have to worry about the Things, and because the Bitter Half's schedule is far more important than my own; she refuses to arrange her schedule to coincide with mine. She is, after all, an assistant manager, and I'm only a lowly employee.

We've lived here for 4 years now. It's not the greatest, not the warmest, not the biggest, but it feels like -- felt like -- home. We moved from our last place because were evicted because of consistenly late rent. We moved to that place because of -- you guessed it -- late rent.

But, as she claimed all night, it's not her fault. She apparently suffers from revisionist memory.

I haven't been feeling too well since Christmas; I've been getting frequent dizzy spells, and have nearly passed out a few times this week. Tonite I gave in to sleep, catching a quick nap after dinner. I don't know what she was doing, but I woke suddenly to hearing the doorbell ring several times. My heart was racing, I couldn't stand straight, but I went to answer the door anyway. I'm like that.

And I was greeted by our landlord, informing me (as if it were my fault) that we have to move come March 31.

Now, we've been living in fear for the past year, when our former landlord put the place up for sale. He said he didn't want to be a landlord anymore; he didn't want or need the responsibility. I knew it was also due in part to our late rent; we've been late ridiculously and inexcusably late for well over two years, and he was far too kind for letting us go as long as he did.

But he warned us when the new landlord took over. "Get on a regular schedule," he said. "Don't fall behind with him. He may not be as generous."

When I started working and bringing in a few dollars, I told her we needed to work on a budget. I said we needed to work together, that her paycheck wasn't just hers (which she told me outright was how she felt), that it belonged to the entire family. She couldn't see that.

She has her cell phone to pay (to the tune of over $100 a month); she has her "work" laptop to pay off (which she uses almost exclusively for personal email and chat, and will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $4000 because she's getting it through a rent-to-own place and is also regularly behind or late with payments); she has her pay-sites to consider (like those online dating services and psychic "friends" I mentioned in previous entires); and there's AOL, her ISP of choice.

There's no food in the house. The Things have no health insurance (which I am taking care of myself), and haven't been to a doctor in nearly two years. She won't even take care of the car, which not only hasn't had an oil change since we got it in May, but is also riding on a tire that is one size too big. Which I suppose is better than the spare it would still be riding on if she hadn't wrecked that by trying to eat and drive at the same time. And that's not taking into account the accident she had two weeks ago when she "slid" into another car while making a deposit at the bank (the other car suffered no damage she claims), which would require $1200 work if she hadn't decided to buy a car off of someone at work later this year.

But all that doesn't stop her from buying new clothes for herself; snatching up every piece of NASCAR (her new obsession of choice) memoribilia she can find, ordering jewelry from QVC, odering crap from Avon, or bidding on stuff from eBay.

Which brings us to today.

So now we have to move.

Of course, she doesn't see what this going to do to those of us at home. I'll be in charge of packing, like I was the last two times. I'll have to reassure the Things, since this will obviously upset them to no end. I'll have to find a way to juggle my cartooning, writing, public relations work, teaching, and working at the store with taking care of the house and the Things all the while taping and sealing boxes. And that's while I'm finding a place to live, and figuring out how to pay for the movers, the deposit and the first month's rent.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need a drink.




Doc "I Can't Stands No More" Absurd

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1/03/2005


Let's start the new year right. No bitching or moaning until the end of the week, I promise.

Here's the latest rendition of Nosecone Johnson:

Nosecone the Second Posted by Hello


I cannot believe how much I've learned about PhotoShop in a year's time. Subtlties in shading, fitlers and textures, altering layers. It's almost like I know what I'm doing. Even the flag was done primarily in PhotoShop:

I drew one half of the rocket. That's it. Major cheat. I copied, flipped, and colored it, pasted it over a rectangle, added in the planet and then mucked with the entire image with a twirl filter to get that great wave.

When I first started, I went for a simpler coloring, wanting to remain true to my cartooning. But after playing for a while, I realized I could get a bit more realistic without detracting. That's why I went with a stronger background, using that star in the lower left for my lightsource. That helmet was a bugger, though. I had to make the layer light enough to allow his head to show through, but dark enough to look like glass. The shadows on the head were even worse; removing the "helmet" makes him look like he got squished by a semi since I had to make the gradients so dark to even be noticed. I was quite pleased with the reflections, though; a nice but simple effect, giving that helmet some needed volume.

This time I didn't bother with a white outline (I call it an "aura") around the figure. I thought the color difference between the figure and background was strong enough to skip that step.

Story's coming along slowly. These damn holidays really threw me off, but hopefully I can catch up a bit over the next week. And then it's on to my next project: finishing the damn micro-comic that I started last year. I'm feeling generous; I think I'll post the color version of the cover next.




Doc "Shortcuts Galore" Absurd

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12/30/2004

S.S.D.Y. 


And here's Boss Moloch, properly stomping in the new year. And you thought I was kidding . . .

Last year, I let thing 2 decide on the color scheme, which explains the pinks, purples and oranges in the decorations. This year, I gave it over to Thing 1, and he wanted blue and silver. He loves the expression; he's been walking around all day doing the Boss Moloch "whoo-pee". Nothing makes me happier than when one of my children get a joke. The footyprints were a last minute decision; I didn't want him simply spray-painting over a banner again, and considering how much I feel like wiping my shitty shoes on life, this seemed to work.


2005 Posted by Hello


By the way, the "S.S.D.Y." is short for "same shit, different year". Can you tell I don't have very high expectations for the upcoming 365?




Doc "Deja Vu All Over Again" Absurd

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So Long, 2004, and Good Riddance! 

Before I get into any more of my pathetic life, I wanna finish the year right.

So, I'm posting my New Year's picture from 2004. In all honesty, I did this on a lark, using my devil character (Sattanish, or "Stan" for short) to properly "unwelcome" 2004. Little did I know how prophetic it would be . . .


2004 Posted by Hello



Stay tuned immediately following for this year's version. I decided to regularly feature a different villain to properly stomp on the upcoming year.





Doc "Out With the Old" Absurd

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12/15/2004

Nosecone the First 


As promised, here's my first colored version of Nosecone:

Nosecone Johnson first attempt Posted by Hello


A couple of things of note:

Okay, that puts us to about 7 months ago. The next installment catches us up to 5 months later.

Now to get working on the story.

Doc "To Infinity" Absurd


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Awesome image Doc! I'm loving Nosecone already.

By Blogger Ronald Bryan, at 1:00 AM  

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12/10/2004

Retro-Style Hero 


At last, something a bit more positive. Tomorrow will probably be a different matter, so let me do what I wanted to use this blog for in the first place:

A chance to glimpse inside a creative mind.

Some time last year, I got the notion in my head to create a very old character. What can I say; I like cartooning characters who are extremes visually. Probably why I like drawing aliens so much, and probably why I gravitated out of just super hero comics in the first place. Honestly, all those square jaws and chisled musculatures just got plain boring after a while.

I prefer my characters to be very old, very young, very fat, very thin, animal-like, demons, etc. That's the real joy of cartooning; once you learn the basics, you really have no limitations.

Now, since my main thrust is in the genre of science fiction, I wanted to create an outer-space retro-style hero somewhat along the lines of Buck Rogers, complete with cheesy dialogue and phony-looking weapons. Initially I had intended him to get caught in a time vortex, get thrust into our modern era with modern versions of his regular nemises. But that seemed more hoakey than even I could tolerate.

I nixed it right off the bat.

So, what to do instead?

Simple. I made him old. Old and retired. Somehow, that seemed to work. It'd be neat to see how a hero from the "simpler" mid 50s would cope with modern sensibilities and technological advances.

Then I took his concept one step further:

I retired all his adversaries, alien and human alike, and intend on forcing him to recruit them to defeat the younger and (obviously) evolved versions of those same alien races.

My next step was naming him. Once again the idea came during a chat with fellow creators, and someone bandied the moniker "Nosecone Johnson". I fell in love with it instantly. That had the exact feel I was looking for.

And so I present Nosecone Johnson, in all his penciled glory:


Nosecone Johnson's pencils Posted by Hello


I'm writing his first installment this week-end, and should begin drawing within the week. He should see print early next year, and I'm hoping to finish his initial saga during the new year. Something to look forward to.

Next time I'll offer up my first colored version of this same picture, followed shortly thereafter with the latest version. Personally, I find the difference astonishing, but I don't want to influence your opinion. At least, not yet . . .




Doc "Space Age" Absurd


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12/01/2004

In the Words of Kaa . . . 

Trusssst in Me. Posted by Hello


Okay, I've given some hints that there's problems in the hallowed halls of "Alcatraz". And today's the day I come clean.

My Bitter Half is trying to cheat on me. She has been since sometime in June, when she first signed up to "AmericanSingles.com". Then it was "match.com".

Both of which she denied ever joining.

Then it was to just to meet friends.

Then it was a fluke.

Then I got wind of another site called "cupid.com", yet another online dating service. So I did a search on the site and came across a profile that sounded incredibly like her. Okay, I understate it a bit; it was her. I ain't that stoopid.

Now, what kills me is that I've been pouring my heart out to her for the past week. And everything you see in her profile is almost verbatum of what I've been saying to her. Let me point out a few things:

"Nothing worth having is simple." I said those exact words to her. I told her that no marrigae is easy, every single relationship goes through ups and downs, and we got married for "better or worse". So she goes out and tries to find someone else to apply my logic to instead of fixing things here in our relationship.

"Two people should work on things together and grow with one another." Another one of my desperate pleas about our marriage. Amazing how she's using my love for her and my commitement to our marriage for her own gains.

"A person willing to give of themselves heart and soul and expect the same in return." Did I miss something here? This is exactly what I've been doing for the past 9 years. So why is what I've been doing not good enough?

Don't get me wrong. I know I'm a pain in the ass. I collect toys. I'm a cartoonist who has more ideas than he'll ever be able to finish in a hundred lifetimes. I'm a cartoonist with a streak of bad luck that no-one should ever have to suffer. I'm a stay-at-home father, more comfortable raising my Things and cleaning the house than working as a grunt for slave wages. I'm a homebody, who's sense of adventure and excitement has been dedicated to my Bitter Half for 9 years. I can only listen to classical music, wanting to be inspired rather than distracted.

I care.

And I devoted myself -- solely -- to this woman a long time ago. And I'm fighting still. Hell, we even agreed to seek counseling about these problems; she claims I have issues with trusting her after what my ex-strife put me through (Readers' Digest version: after cheating on me starting 6 months after our marriage, this woman sent me out for pizza and took off with our child, not leaving me so much as a note) and "realizes" she "might" have troubles with commitment because of her own upbringing. So I call for counseling and make my appointment for December 10.

She calls a psychic advisor.

Anyone else see the hypocrisy?

There's a lot more she's been doing to -- what seems to me -- phsyically ruin this relationship. She's got us in debt to the tune of nearly $10000. She "let" me take over the utility bills with $800 for gas, $325 for electric, and $250 for the phone; on $70 a week. She suddenly remembered she "loves" NASCAR racing (something I never knew for 8½ years), and has been buying up related memoribilia like she's expecting it to suddenly become rare and valuable (which, ugly enough, is the same thing she did with the Beanie Baby craze years ago). She hasn't cooked a meal in years. She's given the Things about 4 baths in 12 months. There's literally years of ironing -- her only chore in the house -- still sitting untouched in our bedroom. She comes home late, runs out suddenly, and goes out partying with her "friends" from work.

Even when I see my friend (who I've been best buds with for nearly 30 years) once a week, we make arrangements for him to come to my house, and I limit myself to exactly two beers. My life revolves around this house, this family, these children, this woman.

I don't know why I'm trying so hard. I'm losing sleep, and my health is quickly passing worrisome; I've lost 105 pounds since July from all the stress and I now get regular dizzy spells and chest pains. But that's what I do.

I ain't perfect, but, dammit, I try. I've been working towards being a cartoonist since I was 5. At my job, I run around the store and stock shelves while everyone else is busy chatting away. I have a really bad back (slipped and herniated disc, sciatica is shot, almost constant spasms and I have trouble walking at times), but I still lift cases of beer and soda like they were loads of laundry.

She doesn't know I have this blog. She certainly doesn't know I've made her actions public. I really hope she does catch wind of this.

Not that it would matter. If she can kiss me good-night and still search for something "better", then a touch of public embarrassment ain't gonna matter.




Doc "Dante's Tourguide" Absurd


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