Professional Works

Monday, November 29, 2010

Killdove: Rough Start, Rough Finish

At long last, and update!

After many weeks of toiling and scheming, I've finally finished the first issue roughs. As I've stated before, instead of approaching this thing one at a time, I opted to go in batches of four in order to get the layouts to Eric faster. By working smaller on the page as well, I'm able to work faster, as I don't have to fit in as much.

At any rate, the final 16 pages have finally come into place, the last 12 being show here (pages 7-10 I posted earlier). So, for your viewing pleasure, Killdove #1, pages 11-22.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Random Fandom: Blast From The Past

Opening up my old portfolios, I've found some of my older work from my days at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Completed in the 2007-2008 year, these are from my own personal project during my internship with Peter Gross that summer, a Superhero Comics workshop with Andy Schmidt in the fall, Comic Three and my Senior Project classes with Barb Schulz.

Killdove: Spreading the Love

One of the best things about working on Killdove is the chance to constantly improve my work. In an effort to present the best visuals possible, I'm always running them by Eric first. After giving me his painfully concrete feedback and insight, I make sure I get what he needs to make his story work. Here is a perfect example.

The fifth page of Kill dove involved the main character, Kevin, seeing into the future, and going through all the possible encounters with the bad guy. Each one resulted in his death. Eric had on one page 12 panels showcasing this, but I felt one page would be too small. So, I opted to make it a two page spread, Eric liked this idea. But then, I came up with an even bigger, bolder attempt: a three-page spread. This way, in my mind, I could get all four of Kevin's visions on the page, and even fit in a money shot of the character reacting!

After a few stubborn renderings of the various images, I was able to compile the final image used in our pitch.

Not being content, Eric brought up and excellent idea: Thought balloons instead of tiers and have Kevin looking at the reader. Genius! My first re-working had Kevin putting his hands on his head, as if reacting to the sudden rush of telepathic visions. But, Eric felt just having him looking forward in the same pose I originally had would be better. As always, he was right.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Killdove: Opening Pitch

Okay kiddies, here's a blast from the past! When I initially took on the Killdove project, I wasn;t quite sure what to expect. The writer, Eric, had a massive story with lots of layers and characterization. What's a recent art student to think?

Instead of starting at the very beginning, Eric and I decided to produce a few pages, just to see what kind of look we could produce. He opted to send me a few pages of script to work from, which was from about the middle or so of his overall story. It involved time-traveling back from the middle ages, dimension hopping creatures, and ninja swords.

Upon further review, Eric decided that while presentable, he wanted to start from a different point.

Fortunately, these pages serve as somewhat of a reminder of what Killdove can become.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Random Fandom: Digital Art part 1

Here's a look at some of the digital art I've done with my Wacom tablet, some photo reference, and no life...that last bit was a joke.

Included in this batch are Nite-Owl from 'Watchmen', Kyle Rayner Green Lantern, Captain Peter James Cybulski (my own creation, though he does kinda look familiar), Super-Duo Dark Lioness and Lady Thunder (thank you Anna and Emily), Jedi Rinn Di Haloken (my creation), and Nite-Devil (an amalgamation of Daredevil and Dr. Mid-Nite).

Killdove: Rough Around The Edges

At long last, an update.

Killdove is still being worked through. In my last update to Eric, I had completely roughed out the rest of the first issue of Killdove. While I was excited, I had gotten a bit blinded to the objective.

Eric, being the perfectionist for his baby, felt that I could've done better. And he was right. After getting the most updated script he wrote, I've decided to do four pages at a time. It saves time, keeps my deadlines tighter, and most importantly allows me to get the best results without having to worry about X amount of work.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Killdove: Hitting a Rough Patch

After our romping visit to Wizard World Chicago, Eric and I have decided to push forward with the rest of the issue. Our overall goal is to publish it online, then proceed with one page a week. A long way from now, here is the start of the process. Tally-Ho!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Adventures at Wizard World Chicago 2010

As a abudding comic book artist, one of the things you're told is to travel t oconventions to get your work looked at by editors and pros alike. With this comes a degree of cold feet, as I wasn't sure of...well...anything really.

Grandiose adventures started the night of Friday, August 20th 2010. I had been working my day job as a
lifeguard at the YMCA during a rather stormy day (nothing pisses people off more than when you have to close to pool because of lightning). Almost immediately after, my writer friend Eric 'The Indomitable Progressive Blogger' Pusey arrived in my tiny, ho-dunk town of Jackson. We were able to meet up at Jimmy's (a fabulous small-town diner), and just chill. Going over the pitch, which turned out great, as well as the weekend itself, a plan was hashed out.

Come 6:45 Saturday, August 21st 2010 I'm on the road to Chicago! A road trip for the ages, Eric had the pedal to the metal and the top down on his sweet Miata. I could feel the wind blowing through whatever hair is left on my head.

Soon enough, we ended up in the home where the FIBs roam (Eric is convinced he didn't pay any tolls coming in, yet doesn't seem to remember stopping at one). And like two out-of-staters, we were completely lost getting to the Hyatt for our stay. Conveniently located by the convention center, we trotted our way the few hundred yards to our impending doom...I mean*t, I mean fate (I told you I was nervous). All the while, I kept telling myself 'This is really happening. A year of planning, hard-ish work, and waiting and we're finally getting ourselves here!'

Right was we touched our feet to the convention floor, Eric and I are immediately herded into a different direction: Exhibit Hall B. Not what you think. Crammed full of people, Exhibit Hall B housed the gigantic line to the main entrance. Over the course of one-half hour, Eric and I mused about geeky things, poked fun at some of the more oddly dressed folks (all in good-natured humor too, btw), and kept our spirits high by talking ourselves up.

Once on the showroom floor, we were overwhelmed. Vendors, celebrities, and pros abound, we didn't know where to go first. So, we did the simple thing: we walked around. A lot. Our first stop was at the Avatar Press booth, Brian Pulido showing off his greatness with Lady Death. Our first 'meeting' to show off our pitch, we were told to leave contact info, and they'll get back to us. Perfectly fine. Seeing my favorite droid from a galaxy far, far away, I grabbed a photo op. Word. I was also able to catch glimpses of Jake Lloyd (Anakin Skywalker from SW: Ep 1), Daniel Logan (Boba Fett from SW: Ep 2 and SW: The Clone Wars), Brent Spiner (Mr.Data from ST), the back of Walter Koenig's head, Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor from Terminator), Christina Loken (from T3, who also walked right by me with Linda in the ATM line), Gareb Shamus (former EIC of Wizard Magazine), and Adrianne Currie (a model who is a SW nerd).

Our next stop was the artist alley. The first person I saw there was my old classmate Joel. He gave me good advice, as well as doing some small catching up since I'd hadn't seen him since 2008. Next we quickly deposited our pitch to David Mack, Eric kinda freaked a little thinking we were taking time away from his 'selling of stuff', which is neither here nor there at this point. Another stop at Hanson Press, and then I'm finding myself talking to freelance comic artist Mike McKone! He too offered great advice, telling us to go the digital route, and even asked if I had any relation to CB Cebulski of Marvel. Sadly, I do not. Turing 180 degrees, we spoke with Jim Calafiore, another free-lance artist who is going to get a web comic up and running, he too dispatched more words of wisdom (seriously folks,this was almost as exciting as meeting Patrick Gleason and having Doug Mahnke walk over and offer tons of advice!). The duo pretty much had this message for us: never give up, and explore as many options as we can. Plain and simple. We even got some great digital websites to display our comic from the guys of Mid-Knight Adventures.

A special mention will go out to Rod Blagojevich who was in attendance. Why? Who the hell cares. Every time they announced him, there were boos abound, and everyone had something to say. As I came back in from the ATM line, he was standing right at the entrance, and I was standing shoulder to shoulder with him. I didn't actually talk to good ol' Rod, but I'm sure I'm in a TON of pictures with the guy.

Feeling we'd exhausted all sources we could find, Eric and I decided to try and enjoy the Con a bit, and head out shortly after. But first, I had some detouring to do: 'The Final Five' actors from Battlestar Galactica were in attendance at their own tables taking photos and signing autographs! Unfortunately, I got confused by some of the signage so I wasn't able to get a picture and autograph from Michael Hogan, who played one of my favorite characters on the show. Bummer. I at least got 'a' picture of him signing stuff.

However, I was able to get a photo-op and personalized autograph with Michael Trucco, aka Anders. As a fan of the show, I fell into the cliché of blanking when I met him. We chatted a bit about the show, the fact that his character 'Anders' became one of my other favorite characters as the show went on. He even told me how it was a hard sell to keep him on, mainly because he kept getting in the way of Starbuck and Apollo. I managed to compliment the fact that he was 'representing' with a Captain America shirt and stupidly said i was rocking the GL shirt. When I got my picture taken with him, he allowed Eric to take more than enough photos, and was even trying to direct him AS he's taking them. Finally, we got 'The One' as Michael put it, I shook his hand once more, gave my compliments, and was on my giddy merry...right into the line to meet Rekha Sharma, aka Tory.

Even more beautiful in person, I again blanked upon reaching her table. I simply gave my praises for her and the cast of the show, telling her how much I enjoyed it, and then blanked again. I awkwardly said 'I guess it's picture time' to which she responded 'Picture time, kinda like it's business time?'. Having no clue I again awkwardly responded 'I guess so.' To which she responded 'Do you watch Flight of the Conchords?', and my stupid response of 'I try to', which isn't far from the truth as I'd heard of it, but had never got the chance to see what it was. I was mentally punching myself in the head. Hard. Eric again played camera man, got a few pics, I shook her hand politely saying how good it was to meet her, and off I went. I had never felt more stupid around a female in my life, regardless of Ms. Sharma being an actress on my favorite TV show.

My VERY LAST STOP came in the form of the making a purchase from the custom lightsaber creators of Saber Forge. Laugh all you want, but holding a movie quality prop that is super-durable is a nerd's wet dream (aside from meeting hot TV actresses).

Back at the hotel, Eric and I chilled out and rested our feet and knees. Professor Avery Brooks (Captain Benjamin Sisko from ST: DS9) was wandering around, and even sat within 15 feet of us at the hotel restaurant. Michael Biehm from 'Terminator' was there too, as well as David Mack, and Joe Madruiera. The clocks struck midnight awfully fast.

Come morning, we had to depart. But not before I see Michael Hogan from BSG going down one the elevators. We ate some breakfast, packed our stuff (me getting extra paranoid of my autographed pic), loaded the car, and headed back in to the Con. We again spent time in Exhibit Hall B, this time not as long (what with it being Sunday and all). We decided to peruse the vendors some, Eric looking for some long-sought after comics and trades. Soon enough, however, we were on the road. Illinois behind me, I found myself in DT Milwaukee with my buddy Alex playing Madden and going back to being plain old me. The weekend, however, will stay with me forever. And every time I look up at my framed picture of 'Anders', it shall remind me to continue to bust my hump to get my dream of being a comic artist into a reality.

Casey J., over and out.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

UPDATED - Geek Speak: First Look at Ryan Reynolds in 'Green Lantern'

(Click for a GIGANTIC version. Seriously, the image is HUGE!)

"In brightest day, In blackest night, No evil shall escape my sight, Let those who worship evil's might, Beware my power, Green Lantern's Light!"

This is the mystical oath recited by test pilot Hal Jordan and and many others across the fictional universe of the Green Lantern
mythology. A favorite of mine, I jumped for joy when I heard news of a motion picture. Now next summer, we will see the Green Lantern universe move on the big screen, the title character portrayed by Ryan Reynolds.

This week's issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday July 16th, features our first glimpse at the Emerald Warrior.

Before the movie itself began production, director Martin Campbell had this to say about the hero in an interview: "...
he's quite fascinating as a character, given that his powers are psychological, it's to do with will power as you probably know, and his enemy is fear. All that's interesting and he's the only superhero to go to another planet, which is very unusual. The combination of that... the main thing I've got to do is keep a sense of reality about it, and we endlessly at meetings have what we call a 'Cheese-Meter' (chuckles) which whenever we have ideas or how we're going to do something or develop it, we all talk about the cheese factor, about keeping it in reality and not letting it get too cheesy. I'm very aware of all of that, and I hope I will bring a sense of reality to it so it doesn't get in the realm of "comic book" as such."


Campbell has also gone on record as saying that he didn't want Green Lantern's suit to look 'h
uman', and wanted a more alien, organic appearance. This of course comes from the idea that the ring that Green Lantern wears is of extra-terrestrial origin. He also wanted the suit to be completely CGI. That's right, Ryan Reynolds costume was merely a motion capture suit. Neat-o!

Fans, including myself, are already used to the
regular design of the GL (Green Lantern for short) costume as seen in the comics (see image, right). Modified from a design created by the late-Gil Kane over fifty years ago, the green-on-black-white gloves has been a staple for the character of Hal Jordan (I can get into the other Green Lanterns from Earth, but this is about the one for now).

The possibility of seeing this design on screen was both a joy and a curse. A joy, in that my favorite superhero gets the big-screen treatme
nt, a curse in that 98% of all superhero movies look hoaky. Why? Characters drawn and colored on a 2-D surface are far different than a moving, breathing person. The pop-color costume of Green Lantern could VERY easily fall into the realm of 'silly' awfully fast.

So, upon first glance I have to admit I was taken aback. Not in disgust, more along the lines of bewilderment. I wasn't sure what to expect. As I've stated before, the classic, slick design of the comics wouldn't translate very well onto the screen (regardless of explanations and CGI). There have been a few attempts to modernize the Green Lantern suit (as seen in Midway's Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, see image left), which could work, but wouldn't quite fit with Martin Campbell's vision of the character.

Now, while we as the audience have no clue how the film itself will pan out, GL fans already know that Hal changes his costume in the books (some changes were also brought by whomever was drawing the character at any given time).

So, maybe this first glance is a tease,
so to speak.
Who knows? Maybe we'll be treated to something like this fan-rendering of Reynolds as GL. (All credit goes to the artist, whom for the life of me I can't find their name.)

One thing is for sure, Martin Campbell and Co. are doing this film justice. While I can't speak for everyone, I can say for myself that I like the design. It keeps a modest sense of the original design (body suit, logo centered on his chest, mask with white eyes, and of course the ring on his right hand) and it delivers the 'alien' feel in spades. I get the sense of a suit that is a part of the ring-wearer, which is almost the point. Any comic artist will tell you that every superhero is essentially drawn naked with a few lines to indicate a form-fitting costume. At least with a CGI suit, you won't be distracted with a foam-rubber look (sorry Batman Begins). Needless to say, the more I see and hear about this film, the more excited I get to see my favorite superhero light up (no pun intended) theater screens next summer.

UPDATE - 7/25-2010

Straight from San Diego Comic Con, was there to give us the report from the movie panel held in Hall A. Here are some tidbits from the report:

  • Martin Campbell was asked about the costume. They lost the white gloves, looked cooler and more interesting without them.
  • Costume is still a work in progress. It’s more of a “skin” than a costume, with muscular lines.
  • Lord of the Rings costume designer is working on the costume – amazingly talented.
It would seem as if my assumptions listed above may be accurate. Maybe this is merely a tease to what the final version of our Emerald Warrior will look like on screen!


Green Lantern is scheduled to be released on June 17, 2011.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Killdove: Re-Opening Old Wounds

Welcome back, true believers!

Today, on the eve of July 4th, I've re-completed the first page of the Killdove pitch.

The original page featured a detective and officer at the scene of a gruesome crime. Staged in a dank bar, most of the interiors were pitch black, save for light pouring in from windows and the door.

At first, I just wanted to get a general idea for the page, getting all the line art done. But as time went on, something was bothering me about the whole thing. And then it hit me. It was flat, lifeless. I never applied the amount of graytone and lighting that I added to the other pages, so it didn't fit with the other pages.

After experimenting with blurs and layers, I've achieved (at least I think so) a finished page.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Killdove: Tiers of Joy

At long last, an update.

For the past year, I've been cranking away at the Killdove pitch. The process has been slow (mostly due to things like time, procrastination, and my tenacity to fit as much detail as I can), but ultimately rewarding.
I've finally got together the last three pages, formed into a spread.

Originally, this was to be a simple, one page splash with four tiers of panels surrounding it. The scene is our mind-reading anti-hero Kevin glimpsing all possible options to disarm the villain, each one ending in his death.

I decided to take a chance and work this into a spread (as mentioned in a previous post).

The overall process was this: start with tight pencils, outline with a wet-media brush via Photoshop, get Eric's approval, then add graytones.

Combined with very large resolution (I work at nothing less than 600 ppi), this allows for the richest, most detailed line work I can muster.
Once the last tier was completed, I added the lettering. Eric always had this idea of a kind of reverse-color word balloon to really push the fact that these bad guys are ANYTHING but human.

I white letters with a black background, did a triple-outline of white-black-white, then added the 'plastic wrap' filter in order to give it a grimy/gross feel to it, via Eric's instructions.

I have to say, the end result speaks for itself.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Killdove: A Process of Insanity

If there's one thing an artist can do, it's to always NEVER be satisfied with their work. Once in a while however, one can forget HOW to not ever be satisfied. This can be a bad thing. Why you ask? Simple. To be satisfied with your work means to settle on something that may not be your best. I fell into that. Hard. Case-in-point, my tenure as 'Artistic Director' for the Killdove pitch (the writer's title choice, btw). We've settled on first presenting a portfolio, or pitch, to various editors and publishers in order to get this thing printed. No easy task, mind you, mostly because of what I've stated above.

As I progressed in the pages, I found my stopping point in the story when the protagonist, Kevin, through ESP/pre-cognition, sees multiple ways to stop an assailant. Before he comes to a future where he DOESN'T lose or die, he acts. However, in the pitch we're only gonna show the process by which Kevin sees his grisly demises.

My first pass at this involved a single page with just the four tiers of action. The more I looked at it, the more I felt like something was missing and a bit off. Then it hit me! Make the single page into a spread (For those of you not familiar with comics, a spread is usually two or more pages, usually meant for a massive shot of whatever the story requires). I pitched this to Eric (my fearless project leader), and he approved. I submitted my first pass, and I still felt like something was off. It again hit me! Add a central image, making this a three-page spread. I would then arrange the tiers to 'float' around this central image.

Eric liked this idea. However, trouble arose. He was feeling that what I depicted wasn't quite what he wanted, or the best I had to offer. Now, I'm not gonna say this pissed me off or nothin'. Artists are used to this kind of thing. The problem came from me getting 'comfortable' and settling on the first pass, obviously not my best. After a much needed kick in the ass (thank you Eric!), I got back to work and took what he had to say to heart. My next pass came that much easier.

Not to be satisfied either, Eric pointed out that I had missed a few things. Imagine how I thought 'Geez, I'm a dope'. And interestingly enough, all I had to do was fix a few shots of the bad guy's hoodie. I never noticed that I had the bad guy wearing a zipper-hoodie in half the tiers, and a regular hoodie in the other half. Talk about being blind. I also had to let go of the central image that I personally liked, and instead came up with an even better one.

This just goes to show that I need to focus and retain that mind frame to NEVER be satisfied. Or, at the very least, not be so stubborn about having to change.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Random Fandom Episode III: They Are The Avengers

With the recent 'reveals' of concept art for both the Captain America and Thor movies respectively, many are aware that along with the Iron Man films the Avengers are right around the corner.

The big screen premiere of Marvel Comics' super team is a few years away yet, but I can't help bu wonder just how the team itself will look once the big three are on screen. Well, thankfully I have the artistic ability to bring that concept to life. Utilizing the blank variant cover to the recently released Avengers #1, as well as concept art for the Iron Man 2 video game with Cap and Thor, I can 'see' the Avengers as they could appear together on film.

But it's not enough to simply put the images together, let us also examine the respective looks of each character.

Captain America- The Sentinel of Liberty. Super-Soldier. The icon of WWII. With the Ultimates series by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, Cap had been given a radical design for his WWII fatigues (think basic soldier, only in all blue with the red and white stripes, blue helmet with white 'A'), as well as an update for this contemporary uniform. I say uniform, because Cap is a character who is a soldier first and 'costume' just doesn't fit. With his movie appearance, Joe Johnston went to great lengths to ensure the fans of the series (myself included) that his suit would respect the source material, yet be made in a way that makes sense. I feel that this has been accomplished. The basic design is there, color scheme, etc. I even dig the red straps, as they hold a true purpose and even allow for the design of the vertical red and white on the suit. Even the helmet is great. While I do feel that wings painted on would've made sense, it still works.

Thor- The Norse God of Thunder. His look embodies the more modern design, following the relaunch of a few years ago. The look that was given to him the 1960's was used up until the early 2000's, and is still the iconic look that most older comic fans will recognize and think of when they hear 'Thor'. Here, however, that look is blow out of the water. In keeping with the fantastic, Norse mythology that the character is pulled from, we get a design that doesn't scream 'This has been done before in every movie about mythic times!' or 'Hey, wasn't he Eomer from LOTR?' (though, in an interesting twist, the actor, Chris Hemsworth, played George Kirk in Star Trek, along with the actor who played Dr. McCoy and Eomer in LOTR, Karl Urban). The suit is supposed to reflect the idea of chain mail armor, overcoat and cape that one associates with Norse tales. And, if the hammer glows like it does in this image, the film will be epic!

Iron Man- Tony Stark. He is Iron Man. In Iron Man 2, Tony Stark created an upgrade for his suit. The most telltale difference is the chest piece. A circle in the first installment, it is now a triangle. This recalls the Iron Man used in the 1980's, the Silver Centurion armor. With more streamlined effects, and angles used for different pieces this newer model, the Mark VI, conveys power. The color scheme itself is more in keeping with the comics (legs and arms = gold, boots, gloves, chest, torso, hips, helmet = red), which is nice to see with this version. Don't get me wrong, the first Iron Man was amazing. This one just amps it up a bit.

So, there you have it. The Avengers. Coming to a theater near you in 2012 (hopefully)!