Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I'm On "The List!"

Well, I've never worked so hard for just the POSSIBILITY of being employed, but after jumping through several hoops, I've convinced one of the editors of Archie Comics that I'm qualified to be a colorist for them!
After sending him the pencils I did, he was complimentary about them, but said it was more organic than the polished style their comic book typically subscribes to. He was cool enough to send me some samples of finished pencils from previous comics that they had done, and I took one look at them, and said, "Oh, I can TOTALLY do that!" Fortunately, I just need to simplify my style, instead of having to step up my skills. But he also liked the colors in my original art, so he sent me a coloring test. Here's the first whack I took at it:

He liked it, but said to focus on the depth of the characters a bit more, and make sure there's a specific heirarchy to what takes the make attention of the viewer, and then sent me ANOTHER color test. Which ended up looking like this:

On this one, a few more notes were given, but he was confident that I had the right work ethic and skill to work with him, so I got the paperwork and contracts to sign, and I'm now on the "The List" of people he'll call when he needs some work done for colors.
He was also cool enough to send me another script to take a look at, so I could send him another pencil sample, 'cause I KNOW I can give him what he wants, it was just a matter of knowing what they were looking for, specifically. And since he sent me the pencil samples, now I'm confident I can pull it off. Coloring isn't the "pie-in-the-sky" dream that I imagined, but I also have been in the industry long enough to know that all you need is a foot in the door, and eventually the rest of the body will be invited, as well. So here's to having someone cool enough to give me a chance! Only better and better news from here on out!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

My Take On Sonic

Been talking to a few editors since my return from San Diego ComiCon, and have an active dialogue going on with one of them from Archie Comics. Here's some spec work I did for them:

Sonic, Different P.O.V.'s:

Sonic, in action!

Knuckles Character Sheet:

The final Page Layout/Illustration, based off their page script:

Monday, July 12, 2010

No! Sleep! 'Til ComiCon!!!

T-Minus Nine Days and Counting! Man, TOTALLY stoked about going this year! I'm at the point in my career where good friends of mine that I went to college with are now becoming movers and shakers in the industry, and a lot of them are going to be doing presentations and networking at ComiCon. Disney, Hasbro, Dreamworks, Sony, Blue Sky, Pixar, i09, G-4, Image Comics, Sideshow Collectibles, cosplay bitches....basically, if you're a nerd, this is your Woodstock. My bud, Andrew, brought up a good point the other day about ComiCon:
At sports games, they gotta line every square block with tons of cops and riot squads. Don't have to do that with Comic Book conventions!

True fuckin' that! Us nerds are WAY too busy having fun and playing make-believe to ever be violent. 125,000 people going to be there this year, and I'm confident not a fist will be thrown. Probably 'cause the nerds with weapons always have a play fight "arena" they can jump in, and swing their PVC pipes and cardboard creations around for hours, if they want.
So, gotta get back to finishing up pieces of artwork and stories to knock the socks off of editors and art directors with! Not leaving there until I've got five potential commissions lined up!! Either way, I'm gonna have a spectacular time! More news and pictures soon!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Finished SOMETHING.....

Wow, I'm always a little shellshocked when I've suddenly finished up several projects, and somehow between the made rushing through of projects, contacting clients, touching base with sub-contractors, keeping myself on schedule, then find myself panting, and looking around frantically for the next thing to do...only to realize that the main priorities are already DONE, and that's why the dust is finally settling. Website project's been greenlit and posted, and just finished up this final illustration for the potential comic book gig:

Hopefully I'll know sometime today if I got a commission off all this work. It's so strange to have several projects going, and the difference in your work ethic when it comes to something you love, versus something you're not so keen about. For instance, the website? Yeah, hate those kinds of gigs. Part of the reason why I charged a lot--if you want me to do art I hate, I won't say no, I'll just throw a number out there that might make YOU say no. If you don't, well, sure, I'll do the gig, and at least that way the money will motivate me to get off my ass.
The comic book I did the spec work for--Flash Gordon--has a species of natives from the planet that back in the day they just called Lion People. The original comics from decades ago never really made such an interesting name an equally-interesting illustration. They just basically made a human have tan fur, and a mop on their head that'd put Tina Turner's to shame. But the new editors now have done a KILLER job of making them look REALLY cool, and it's been an absolute BLAST playing around with the species, and really feeling out possible stories through their artifacts on them that'd add texture to their fictitious culture! Visual storytelling, that's what it's all about! Here's a head illustration I did of a Lion person General:

Now the amusing thing about this whole wacky career I have as an artist is this: my parents just plain don't "get it." They can't quite wrap their heads around the fact that I receive checks from people for doing silly cartoony or fantasy characters, or animating a cartoon for a commercial spot. Like most people, I think they just default to the assumption that these things just magically appear on the screens, and takes no "real" skill, whatsoever. When I was talking to them yesterday on the phone, I was telling them about this potential gig, and how it could be a game-changer for the types of gigs I get. My mom's response? "Yeah, well, don't hold your breath!" You'd have to know my mom to know that as she gets older, the filter between her thoughts and her mouth has pretty much been removed, and she really doesn't actually mean anything by that. In other words, she sometimes doesn't realize when she's being a bitch. :) I, unfortunately, sometimes suffer from the same epidemic, and so I worry how I'll be treating my daughter in the future, as well.
Either way, MAN, I love what I do! It's exhausting, but also insanely enjoyable! Who said, "If you love what you do you'll never work a day in your life?" Goddamn right. Seven years after college graduation, I'm feeling like I'm finally hitting my stride....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Character Sketches

Don't wanna say too much too soon, but got approached by a good mid-sized comic book company last week to potentially work on one of their flagship comics! Here's some sketches of the main character I did for them to prove I can replicate the style:

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A picture of the Battle Grounds, otherwise known as my art desk! Critters illustrations, as well as character sheets for my comic book commission all over the walls, paints all over the desk. I think there's more paint on the desk than there is on the actual papers!

One Week 'Til Convention

It's Memorial Day weekend! Guess what I'm doing? Beach? Barbeque? Beer? Nope, nope, and maybe later. I'm knee-deep in watercolors, making Critters for my in-process children's fantasy picture book, Lil' Book of Critters.
It's a little bit of a drag, 'cause I'm running a few weeks behind where I wanted to be with the book. I was hoping that I'd be finished with a website commission a few weeks ago, but in standard Jason fashion, I misestimated how long this project would take. S'kay, I got it taken care of. And I'll GLADLY sacrifice a weekend of fun for....well, FUN, honestly. I lovelovelove art, and it's SO nice to just be able to focus on your own wacky project, for once.
I have the SCBWI Florida Children's Book Mid-Year Workshop this coming weekend. I'll have an Illustrator's Intensive on Friday, Picture Book Workshop on Saturday, finished off with two critiques of my book that Saturday evening. I went to the event last year for just the one day, unsure who or what this convention had to offer. But after seeing the big-name authors, literary agents, and other "power" people there, as well as the direct-access addresses and other inside help the organization offered, I realized it's worth me taking this seriously.
In amazing synchronicity, this year had two big industry editors coincidentally really gravitate towards this book that I just had mentioned on a lark. One was an editor from io9.com, who found my art on a site like DeviantArt or something like that, and did a whole little blurb about me. I felt like I should have my Professional Geek card revoked, because I wasn't familiar with io9.com! I checked it out, and just marveled at the amazing stuff they had on there! Comic books, fantasy and sci-fi book and movie reviews, concept art from big-time video games....and now an online article about lil' ol me?? No way! She asked me what current/future projects I was working on, and decided to mention this children's book I was toying with. She was really interested in it, and in addition to my other illustrations that she wanted, I sent her some scans of the rough illustrations I had done. She asked me if there was a story in addition to the characters, and I'd discovered through sharing the book with others that people had more fun making up their own stories, so felt it was more enjoyable for the viewer to just have the visual of the critter, their name, and then let others make up what the critter's story was. The editor loved the illustrations from the book, and then did exactly that--she took the critters, and made up what she felt these creatures do, what they eat, where they live! She even changed the gender of what I felt some of the critters were, which was once again affirmation that leaving these critters this open truly gave people their own imaginary playground to enjoy!
A few months after that, I contacted an editor from one of my favorite art magazines, ImagineFX. I sent him some samples of my work, as well as a link to my site. He liked what I had to show, and asked for three print-ready samples of my work, as well as to answer several questions that he sent along. One of the questions that he asked was, once again, about current and future projects I was working on. In the same way, I mentioned the Critters book. My work was supposed to appear months ago in the magazine, but due to circumstances out of his control, ended up postponing my blurb in the magazine 'til June of this year. As that date approached, in early May he revisited my information, and realized that I was doing this Critters book. He asked if I had some information about the book, as well as some pictures of some of the critters, and if so, he'd put it in their "Products" section in addition. Holy shit!!! I was now going to have an internationally-known publication helping me sell my book, free of charge! This has made me suddenly have to move in fast-forward. I immediately contacted the information architect that helped me put together my own site, and told him, "Hey, here's some scratch! Can you please set up an e-commerce site for me, stat?" I've looked into Paypal, and am setting up a new bank account to just focus on money earned from that project. Hopefully if I get enough pre-orders from this, it'll help me seal a deal with a publishing agent or better yet, a publisher.
It's really amazing how life works, sometimes. I never really thought very much about this book, except for it just being an exercise for my imagination. But after seeing two industry people react so positively to it, I suddenly thought, "Holy shit! I might be on to something, here...."
I REALLY hope this convention and children's book does well! I'd love nothing more than being a daddy that takes care of his kid during the day, and earns his keep, working on his art during the evening. That, in my ideal mind, sounds pretty much like a dream come true, no doubt! Wish me luck!