New Sketchbook Day!

Yay, it’s New Sketchbook Day here at Sharkipede World HQ.  This is always a minor festival, with the closing of the old sketchbook by writing the closing date on the inside front cover, and the opening of the new with the ritual First Drawing. 

The old sketchbook was #13 since I switched over to hardcovers, and it was open from October of 2007 through July 2008. (I prefer not to date them any more tightly.)  Nine or ten months is about average for the time it takes me to fill up a sketchbook– they can last as few as six months or as long as a year.  The new #14 has been my backup sketchbook for at least five years– it was damaged after I bought it when it got knocked off a shelf and has a big scuff along the edge of the spine.  I’d always had an extra spare with a clean cover to use instead, but this time I forgot to buy one so the reserve has finally come into play.  I hope it is a lucky move.

Sketchbook #13 was mostly devoted to work on the almost finished Secret Project,  and also contains a lot of design work for my main characters, including chibi versions of many of them and tons of alternate costume designs.  There also was a fair amount of experimental free drawing, much of it featuring a large soft pencil with a multicolored lead that I got as a Christmas present from my niece and nephews.

The last drawing in #13 was a pencil study for a display drawing– maybe a poster or a cover for a book or comic– featuring Iowa and Gideon cataloging a stack of four color Golden Age comics, with Josef lying in a great heap of even more of the same.

The first drawings in #14 are a further development of the “S-Curve” map of Kekionga, and some sketches of Foursquare in flight copied from Mac Raboy’s standard flight poses for Captain Marvel Jr. 

It’s only a swipe if you put it in a published comic!

Sharkipede

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Published in: on July 9, 2008 at 6:05 am  Comments (2)  
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tool or toy? A great *thing* for writers

My apologies to everyone out there who is one step ahead of me and has been playing with this for weeks, but I just discovered Wordle.  http://wordle.net/

If you write at all, go there now and plug one of your pieces into the big window.  Play around with it a bit, then come back here. 

There.  Wasn’t that about the coolest damn thing you’ve seen in a month?  Anyone who reads this blog already knows my fondness for “clouds” as a method for navigating your way around a bunch of data– I have a tag cloud as my only real gadget on NSC.   But this is a whole step more.

I can’t decide if Wordle is a tool or a toy, but I’m leaning toward tool.  I’ve played with it using a selection of my fiction and my non fiction prose, and frankly, the nonfiction is on the crummy side.  The fiction has a larger vocabulary and a wider selection of words, including verbs and vivid adjectives, while the non fiction is full of yucky adverbs and weak and weaselly words like “may” and “can”.  I’m very glad the long sample I used is in line to be rewritten.  I intend to Wordle it at several stages during that rewrite and see if I can make it a little flashier.

So if anyone is still here, get back to making Wordles and sticking them up around the house.  Your prose has never looked so good.

Sharkipede

Published in: on July 6, 2008 at 5:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Draw a fat werewolf.”

I got up this morning and looked over some notes I’d written late last night.  I actually did a lot of writing after supper yesterday: a new poem, a scribble outline for the first half of this month’s “Hopelessly Lost …”, some bits for the new shape of the novel I’m calling Kite Mountain.  But mixed in with the more understandable stuff was this cryptic instruction:

“Draw a fat werewolf.” 

So I drew a fat werewolf.  It was a lot of fun.  So I encourage all of you– pull out your sketchbook or a hunk of scrap paper, grab a pen or a pencil or a brush, and draw yourself a fat werewolf.

June 5th –It’s Draw a Fat Werewolf Day.

Sharkipede

 

Published in: on June 6, 2008 at 1:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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stuff that’s happened since the last time I posted

Long time no blog, I know.  Could trot out the reasons; offline for a while, working my tail off for a while, getting a pal married for a while (whoo, it was a good time!), depressed for a while.  Feeling like nothing was happening that I was interested in writing about, much less that anyone would be interested in reading, a long while.

But hey, life goes on, the head comes up, and things start looking OK again.  So what’s happened since last we met on the Interwebs?

The brown dog Chester turned 13.  He is slowing down, but otherwise doing well.  We had him at the vet today and he will be getting more arthritis meds, which should make him happier and more comfortable.  Good boy, Chet!

I’ve been indulging my coelacanth obsession: designed and printed a new T-shirt, silk screened a coelacanth print, and made a coelacanth mini.  Also painted a huge coelacanth banner on a bedsheet which was very effective at the Motor City Con.  I feel like an arteest, oh yes I do.

After months of seeing absolutely no cars of any interest at all, I’ve collected tons of new and interesting sightings:

The new Dodge Challenger, a black one.  Taller and chunkier than expected, but very cool (in a musclecar kind of way) and very fast.  Looks less like the original in person.

A white Bentley Flying Spur with a white mesh grille.

A Ford GT, my first one ever.  Red with a white stripe.

An absolutely pristine first generation Datsun 240 Z, maroon over black vinyl.  Lovely car.

A 1990s Lotus Esprit, fly yellow.  Booming GT car on I-94 early on a Friday morning. Nice!

Smart cars, Smart cars, Smart cars.  Fourtwos all over the place, including several running at speed in heavy traffic on the freeway.  They look terribly, terribly funny mixed in with the rest of the fleet.  What goofy little cars, but they always make me smile.  Silver frames with red panels and black frames with silver panels are both frequently seen, but the overwhelming popular favorite color scheme seems to be a black frame and yellow panels.

And I learned that “patrijpoort” is the Dutch word for both a skylight and a porthole.

What a world.  More to come.

Sharkipede

 

Published in: on May 23, 2008 at 7:41 am  Comments (1)  
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Belphegor

Welcome back to my blog, and to the introduction my new favorite word. 

“Belphegor” is a classic demon name, possibly based on the name of a Moabite god, Baal-Peor.  But don’t worry, there’s no demonology angle here.  The name seems to appeal to creative types across various cultures, and, of most interest here, to French pop culture creators, starting with the pulp writer Arthur Bernède  who in 1927 gave the name to a character he created to rival the success of the Phantom of the Opera and other classic French pulp characters. 

There were several Belphegor pulp novels, followed by silent and talkie films, and even some comics. And, most important to me, there was a black and white TV miniseries in 1965 that apparently was insanely popular, and which has become a long term cult classic. (At least to people who have a Region 3 DVD player and speak French– there doesn’t seem to be a subtitled version.)

(This site is a good place to start reading about Belphegor’s history in French pop culture:  http://www.coolfrenchcomics.com/belphegor.htm ) 

So Belphegor was very much on the minds of the people of France, when Citroen introduced their new line of trucks.  (You knew there had to be a car in here somewhere.)  In the Citroen catalog it was simply “Citroen 350”, but people immediately started calling it “Belphegor” after the ghostly TV character.

Imagine how I felt on Saturday afternoon, when I walked into a long, dark, half lit garage, and saw this:

http://lanemotormuseum.org/show_vehicle.php?veh=CITROENTYPE3501968

It’s one of these: http://www.citroen.mb.ca/cItROeNet/utilities/belphegor/belphegor-01.html 

in rough-but-more or less complete condition, undoubtably waiting to be restored.  And it is absolutely the coolest, funkiest truck I had ever seen, and joins the IH Travellall and the Hudson Big Boy as “trucks I would buy if I could even though I cannot drive a stick shift”.   But more than that, it spoke to me artistically.  When I saw its silhouette from a distance, before I knew what it was, I knew it belonged in Kekionga.  And now there is a story where there was only a blank line and a question mark before, in the overall series plan.  Bud is going to acquire a mysterious Belphegor, and it’s going to be … haunted.

I’ve pretty much decided to make mine a flatbed like the one I saw, or this one from Danish TV: http://www.ckc.dk/minebiler/rygaard/ 

Or “Gaston” belonging to a man named Adam in Los Angeles, the lucky pup: http://www.citroen.mb.ca/galleries/Adam/gaston/

I’m very excited about this new character and its story, which is going to be quite long and as spooky as I can make it.

Before I go off and do more research,  I have to give a monster shout out to the owners of the wonderful Belphegor, the Lane Auto Museum in Nashville.  http://lanemotormuseum.org/  If you like cars at all, you owe it to yourself to go to this link and click on “our cars”.  I’d never seen half the cars there in the metal, only in photographs, and there were things in their collection I never even knew existed.  Only the one pic of the Belphegor, I’m sorry to say, (boo!), but you can’t really blame them.  There are many, many vehicles on display and even more in storage, and to put multiple views of each on a website would take up more bandwidth than any not for profit could afford.

Enjoy what they can afford to share, and go there if you can.  I spent at least 4 hours staring, shooting and taking notes, and could easily have doubled that and not seen enough.  The building (a wonderful old mid-20th Century bread factory)  is well lit; the collection is barrier free so it’s a dream to photograph, and if you go around the back you can stand in the weeds and peek through the windows and see a storage area I would pay big bucks to tour. (Citroen DS 21 painted in an allover Stars and Stripes motif, anyone?  2CV rally car with 4 eyes? Something I’m pretty sure was a Goggomobile?) 

Anyway, wonderful old cars, and especially gorgeous French trucks with good backstories, make for a great weekend.  Long live Belphegor!

Sharkipede

Bonus track:

Two Three other interesting things that are called “Belphegor”:

1) an Austrian death metal band.  Their latest album is called “Bondage Goat Zombie”.  They seem to be quite popular, with lots of reviews and fansites, but I do not think they are quite my sort of thing.

2) A scholarly journal of popular literature and media culture, published by Dalhousie University:  http://etc.dal.ca/belphegor/  This is my sort of thing, and it looks very interesting– there have been two issues entirely about comics.  I will be reading more of this when I have some spare time.

3) The Mielec M-15 “Belphegor” jet agricultural aircraft, based (though you have to squint a bit) on the classic Antonov An-2 cabin biplane.  Wikipedia claims the aircraft earned the nickname by its “strange looks and noisy engine”.  I can’t comment on the engine noise, but twin boom jet biplanes with a single engine mounted in a strut above the crew cabin are not exactly thick in the ground, so its looks must qualify, at the very least, as unusual.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-15_Belphegor 

The Wikipedia notes that the nickname surfaced after the aircraft was shown at the Paris Air Show, so it’s possible it’s a French nickname and related to that of the “camion Belphegor”. 

M-15 Belphegor fun fact: the aircraft uses the same engine as the Yak-40 mini-trijet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yakovlev_Yak-40 , which many consider to be the first “regional jet”.

Published in: on April 9, 2008 at 3:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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A profound question.

In the course of preparing for the Secret Project, I am revisiting, and very occasionally revising, some of my older cartoon stories.  (ooh!  Hint, hint!)

 In the pages I am currently working on, I find myself, once again, contemplating an original character who is is supposed to remind the reader of that classic pop culture gorilla, Donkey Kong. I am drawing him based on screenshots I’ve gotten off the internet through Google Image Search.

Mr. Shark, who played way too many video games back in the late 70s/early 80s, insists that DK has a belly button, shaped like an X. I, who played almost no video games back in the quarter a pop era (preferring to save up my spare change for bargain matinees and paperback science fiction novels), can find no sign of said navel in my reference screen shots. DK seems to me to have pretty buff pecs, but no other torso details.

So help me out, gang! Does Donkey Kong have a belly button?  Bonus points for useful reference links.

Sharkipede

Published in: on March 14, 2008 at 2:34 am  Comments (4)  
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rounding up, and annoying hints

A sharkipede sticks its head up from the gritty grey remains of a snowbank.  It’s March?  You’re ragging me.  No, really?  Holy cats.

I’ve actually been pretty busy for not really accomplishing much this past month.  February’s been a groundwork month: serious preparations are being made for projects that will bear fruit in the future.

Chief among these is the secret project.  I’ve been talking about it quite a bit, but am hesitant to put anything in writing in a public forum, so if the blog is your main contact with Sharkipede World, then I will beg your indulgence and ask you to be patient for a little bit longer.  Anyway, we’re working on it.

I also went to the Auto Show and blogged about it, wrote another new Kekionga story for the secret project, explored the capabilities of my Eee PC, shoveled a hell of a lot of snow, spent some quality time with a friend who is going abroad soon, helped another friend design her wedding invitations, learned more about coelacanths and digital printing, and went to my first comic book show of the year and had a swell time. 

A good month, if not perhaps a great one.  But then, how many are?  Good may have to be, well, good enough.

Sharkipede 

Published in: on March 7, 2008 at 8:30 am  Comments (2)  
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blogging from the show floor, and from the Eee PC

Hi gang: I’ve recovered (mostly) from my finger injury– a bad cut to the pad of my left index that has kept me from typing for the last few days. I never realized how much my typing has improved until I tried to type with one hand and found myself in an enchanted world of gibberish.

If this still seems gibbery, I am posting this from the show floor at the SPACE convention in Columbus, OH. This is my first experiment with on the road wireless internet on the Eee PC. Luckily I am seated underneath a large smoke colored plastic box mounted high on the wall, which those in the know me is the antenna.

It has been a fun show. Business was good earlier in the day, with great interest shown in the box sets. Lately, we have been talking. Topics of conversation have included history, comics and general, inking techniques, the nature of the superhero, personal foibles of those who are not present, and the esoterics of digital printing. I have also drawn in some jam comics, and hope to do more.

This is all pretty much business as usual at a small con, but it’s an awfully good time, after being on my own most of the time all winter. I will be back tomorrow, and if anybody has anything they want me to report on, leave a comment.

Monthly recap and more Auto Show next week, assuming I don’t cut up any more of my fingers.

Oh, and Aaron and Bruce say hi.

Sharkipede

Published in: on March 2, 2008 at 4:38 am  Comments (2)  
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Month’s end roundup, January 2008

It’s the last day of January already, and since one of the things I wanted to do with this new blog was sum up each month as it passes, it’s time to try it for the first time.  A month strikes me as the logical place to pause for an evaluation; not a short enough time that the thought is always breathing down one’s neck, but not long enough to forget all  about it and take one’s eye off the ball.

If one may be permitted to mix a metaphor.

This January has been a long month, and while I feel like I have been treading water, I’ve actually accomplished quite a lot.  I had my eyes examined, ordered new frames, had both pairs of my glasses made, and went through a particularly unpleasant Eyeball Twisting Week as my astigmatism was rather forcibly corrected by my own eye muscles.  It began a week ago yesterday and seems to be pretty much over.  My eyes haven’t watered at all today, and I’ve stopped having to blink to bring things into focus.  Very disconcerting, that.

I picked a new blogging site, and started this nifty new blog.  And, to my delight, a lot of you followed me here and have even posted comments.  Thank you muchly.

I’ve made surprising advances in my on-and-off interest in computers.  Most of this can be attributed to my growing affection for my new ASUS Eee PC,  which was a Christmas gift from Mr. Shark.  I’m using it a lot for writing and editing, and it has inspired in me a vague desire to learn something about Linux.   How weird is that?  I’ve acquired a couple of books and a disk with a core install of Fedora and some basic apps, and Mr. Shark says he will build me a Linux box to mess around with out of spare parts (apparently it doesn’t have to be particularly state of the art) as soon as he has finished building his own new PC.  In the interests of furthering my education he let me install the OS on his new system (under careful supervision, of course) and it was actually pretty cool.  More to come on this, I think.

But the Eee is proving practical right now, since I’m getting a lot of extra writing done in my spare time.  One of the projects that have moved to the new platform is writing “Hopelessly Lost, But Making Good Time”, my monthly column for Sequential Tart.  I’ve started a new series about superhero characters in comics, and the next few installments are already outlined.  Part one is finished and should be out on February first, at www.sequentialtart.com

I finished the script for my next minicomic, very moody and experimental, discovered the seed for an upcoming issue of Kekionga, and finished both covers for  Kekionga #2.  Random pages are partially pencilled, and the whole issue is thumbnailed.  This is where the month kind of fell down–I was hoping to be a little further along with that comic at this point, but part of that can be blamed on the damned Eyeball Twisting. 

Otherwise, it was a cold, snowy January.  I walked when I could, and will always remember Toby showing me the hawk.  Chester is doing well, in spite of the cold, which is hard on an old dog.  I worked well enough, making real progress every day, if not always on the “right” projects. 

My goal for next month is to work substantially, every day, on finished pages for Kekionga #2, and to get ready for SPACE,  my first con of the year, at the end of the month.  If I do anything new for the show, it will be produced in my spare time and will not interfere with the first goal. I hope.

And February is the month of the Auto Show, which means NSC will be returning, at long last, to its roots as an occasional car blog.  

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll stick around for the second month of version 2.0.

Sharkipede 

Published in: on February 1, 2008 at 4:07 am  Comments (1)  
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Somewhat less vexed and ratty.

Hmm.  Things seem to be looking up, as three out of four of yesterday’s rantworthy problems seem to be solved, or are at least showing progress.

UPS arrived at the sterling hour of 7:10 pm yesterday– our neighbor at the wheel of the brown truck, looking like he’d had a long day.  The motherboard, once unfrozen, seemed to actually work.  Mr. Shark reported seeing the BIOS setup screen (or some damn thing that it’s good to see) before he had to stop work for the evening.  He says he will give me all the specs of the new computer when he gets it up and running, and I will share them with you.

Aren’t you lucky?

 I got my newspaper this morning.  Snarky emails containing the word “unacceptable” continue to work their magic, particularly when accompanied by promises to take the problem to the same paper’s editoral staff.  Apparently there is such a thing as bad publicity.   We will file this under pending, since there isn’t really much more they can do to fix it except deliver a paper every morning.  Well, apologies and sucking up might help too.

And, best of all, I have my new glasses– both pairs.  I had substantial changes in all three of my corrections and a large shift in my astigmatism to boot, so it’s going to take some getting used to, but I can tell everything is basically right.  So now I feel like I’m alternately living in HiDef and am about to fall over.  It’ll pass.

A huge shout out to my very favorite eye doctor in the whole world, Dr. F, and her lovely sidekicks P and T, who got my scrip just right, my glasses described so the lab was able to get everything in the right place, and the new specs fitted perfectly, respectively.

And to Vick at the Optometrist Attic, what can I say?  Full sized, traditional frames, not the teeny weeny “fashion” ones?  On the internet?  At a fair price?  You rock.

The last problem was the weather. Still damn cold.  What can you do?

On the work front, both covers of Kekionga #2 are finished!  Now it’s a matter of coloring them, but that’s a huge step forward.  I’m quite happy with them.  The front is a strong but simple portrait of Soup with Josef standing on his shoulders, as he’s seen partway through the issue, and the back is an out-take– full length figures of Bud and Sumac, sharing a moment of conversation that takes place a few minutes after the end of the story.

Maybe we’re getting somewhere.  I sure hope so.

Sharkipede 

Published in: on January 25, 2008 at 7:27 am  Comments (2)  
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