When biking, Mr. Spit (the junior hero of the neighborhood and general purpose bad boy with a heart of gold) rocks a vintage Schwinn Stingray from tbe late 60s or early 70s. This is an established canon fact, and I’m sure there’s a story there somewhere, one that almost certainly involves the junkyard.
But for now my interest is primarily in learning to draw this bike in continuity, and that means collecting references. And in that research I found these way cool period ads. I think Mr. Spit’s goal in life is to be as little like these guys as possible.
Cool bike, though.
The end! Of the scribbles, anyway. This is the back cover, which I have decided to make into a sort of mini poster, with a psuedo scientific “illustration” of a brontosaurus, and the story of the comic in old fashioned lettering, which I am probably going to typeset in my word processor and paste on, for what I hope is kind of Victorian circus poster effect. Since several of you claim to be able to read my notehand, I won’t transliterate the text.But, wait. What happened to pages 14 and 15? That’s a good question, and I will answer it as soon as I can. If you are guessing there has been a last minute rewrite of the final scene, you are on the right track.
Here are the scribbles for the rest of the Cliffside scene. I didn’t realize until I made these scribbles that maybe Josef jumps over the cliff after the apple that Mr. Spit tosses to the dinosaurs. I suppose that’s as good a motivation as any, knowing Josef. In the first tier of page 11, I may move the nose-to-nose inset to the lower left instead of the upper right to punch that aspect up.
Then there’s page 12. On one hand I’m really looking forward to drawing the Moody Anpu portrait, but on the other I’m shakingly anxious because I seem to have committed myself to drawing one of the major settings, Duke’s Market for the first time. At least it’s a small panel and not a detailed splash, so a thumbnail image is all that’s needed. Still, how has this much major worldbuilding ended up in what started out to be a simple super short?
Kekionga, as a series, was created exactly this way; it’s an artifact of improvised, if not entirely accidental, worldbuilding.
Yesterdays (poor, lonely, single) scribble of page 9 posed an awkward question regarding exactly how much or how little Josef (the model of both the mysterious animal and the horrible creature) and Anpu (retired god) resemble each other. I decided to make a drawing of the two of them together that emphasized both the similarities and the differences.Anubis as you see him in ancient art is always depicted as a slender, powerful being with the head of a jackal and the body of an athletic man in his late twenties. Anpu today is still godlike in his physique, but it’s a god in his late 40s or early 50s who eats a lot of cheese steaks and drinks a lot of single malt whisky and walks for exercise. (I sometimes draw him a bit fatter than he is here.)
Josef is slinky, stinky, and slightly otherworldly creature. He is designed to play the part of the dog in the Kekionga stories, obviously, but he also has lizardy or even somewhat draconic qualities. He is supposed to be cute and fun, but also somewhat unsettling. He is from another dimension and can eat an entire deer in one sitting, after all, and one of my goals in drawing him is to make sure the reader is always reminded of that.
So what they have in common is the shape and color of their ears, and their large, glowing, and somewhat inexpressive eyes. These two are beings of mystery. But their heads and bodies have very different shapes, as do their personalities. They both have human levels of intelligence, but unhuman points of view. (Whether Anpu still has godlike levels of power is a question I’ve never answered. If he does, he consistently chooses not to use them. Don’t let the trick with the cigarette fool you; Kekionga is full of more or less ordinary people who can raise a small flame without a lighter.)
If they had their mouths open in this drawing you would see a major difference between the two: Josef has rows of very sharp but undifferentiated teeth, like an alligator or a shark, while Anpu’s teeth are exactly like a dog’s.
Scribbles are almost done, and I am posting when I can: stay tuned. This is page 9 of our more or less “live” minicomic, “Day of the Brontosaurus”.And if you think its odd how much Anpu and Josef look alike in some of these sketches, you may be right. I’ve drawn them together before and never really felt they were anymore alike than any two characters with large black ears, so it no doubt has something to do with how quickly I am moving in these scribbles. (While I normally like the way Josef comes out in a quick sketch, the one of him at the lower left is, as it says in the note “the stupidest drawing of Josef ever.)
This scribble is also a good example of why it’s wise to draw this stage of the project in a color other than black. Admittedly, it would be much more typical to see this type of drawing in blue, or even green, than the “porto” or mahogany red* that I’ve been using for most of my notes and sketches the last couple of years. but the theory is the same. As you see in the right hand section of the first panel, if you mess up a face or two in the colored drawing phase, you can go back into the art with black lines and make a correction or add something without having to trash the entire sketch. Murphy’s face is corrected in black since I got his expression entirely wrong, and Josef was just plain added to scene. I drew him over a previously existing note, and added the black to make it clear what was actually going to be happening in that space on the final page.
* I am just crazy about this maroon or dark red pen and the way it looks on yellow legal paper. It’s a Zebra “Sarasa” gel pen in 0.7 nib size. Staples called this color “porto” when they carried it, while Jet Pens calls it “mahogany”. Either way, it’s a great cheap pen in a cool color.
Here’s the sketch of the final version of the sign for the Cliffside Motor Inn. There was never any reason for the Cliffside to be where it is–surrounded by farms, far off the main road and not near any tourist sights of note, but there’s no reason to think it wasn’t a thriving business in its day: a sturdy little cinderblock u plan drive up motel with a pool in the courtyard. The sign was originally a fairly expensive one with bright lights and some neon.
By the time of story present, the Cliffside has been out of business for years, although recently the young steampunk engineer who calls himself Edison has taken it over and is converting it into his Radio Laboratory. I am not sure whether this story takes place before or after Edison’s takeover, but my guess is he just doesn’t happen to be home on this particular afternoon.
The scribble for page 8 of “Day of the Brontosaurus” went through two drafts. This is sort of unusual– while I often have to try two or more basic layouts before I “finish” one, I very seldom make two versions of the same layout. The larger image is the second and final draft, the two small ones are details I kept from the first. The design of the Cliffside Motor Inn sign is actually quite important in canon, and I just had a better idea anyway, which I will share with you later.
I really dig Anpu’s hand in the second bit.
And one more set of scribbles, this one long delayed … but it’s a big one: a two page spread with a complex (for me) semi symmetrical composition and lots of weird notes and personal comments and whining. How exactly did I fail to realize that I had written myself into the highly awkward position of having to draw three different bicycles in three identically sized panels??? I hate drawing bicycles.
I think the time has come for me to learn how to draw a bicycle in a highly simplified way, because it looks like this situation is going to happen every few years or so no matter how much I try to avoid it when I am paying attention. Stupid small town characters living in compact small town settings where bicycles are a sensible and practical means of transportation. Even if they are hard to draw.
I do not want to think about the whole issue of Anpu’s motorcycle. Not yet.
Another delayed post, this one from this afternoon. I am writing them all day , honest I am, and posting them when I can.
This is page 5, and we are already at the end of the first scene. (Things move fast when you only have 16 pages to work with.) I was pleased to find a way to show the sidewalk drawing relatively large for one last time without it being too horribly obvious. I like the way it “appears” with the change in point of view between panel 2 and panel 3. Plus the both panels avoid the “talking heads” phenomenon that’s so deadly to a minicomics page with a lot of dialog in it. It’s a minor victory.
And if Murphy loves to draw, he should definitely have a shoulder bag with him all the time. It probably won’t be a messenger bag as such—more like a canvas military surplus bag of some kind.
Scribbling: going well. Internet: not fixed. But here it is, with a delayed post from earlier today. Here are pages 2, 3, and 4. Click on each image to see a larger version, and take a shot at reading it, if you dare. You will see lots of notes and top secret cartoonist’s inner monolog. You may also want to cross reference the script to remember what exactly is happening on each page; click here to read.
These are pretty much straightforward scribbles; these pages broke up neatly into fairly nice looking pages. I was pleased to find two different ways to show the sidewalk drawing, which will appear 3 times in 5 pages. It’s hard to do that many repetitions of a large prop without getting boring about it. And it’s always satisfying to avoid “crossing the line” while making sure the readers read the speeches in the correct order, as I am pretty sure I did with the last panel on page 4. (Time will tell, of course– it’s always possible that the finished page won’t work.)
I also like the scribble of Josef in the center left panel of page 3.