Four Talking Boxes 1279

Sometimes things take a while. A long while. Let your mind drift back in time to the year 1999. That’s when I first started this project. Fifteen years ago. Or at least I think so. That’s the creation date I have on some scans but sometimes those dates get mixed up. I’m pretty sure this one is right. It all started because, on rare occasion, I like to work with someone else’s images rather than my own. That lead me to discover that I could buy old photo negatives on Ebay. So sometime back in 1999 I discovered and bought some black and white medium format (2-1/4) negatives of nude dancers in Paris from 1964. There were eleven negative in total all of behind the scenes type stuff. A woman showing off and dancing for the camera not on stage but backstage near the dressing room. But what to do with them?

First of all, back in 1999, I had no scanner that could handle scanning in medium format negatives. Such scanners were rare and expensive then. But at work, back in my good ol’ Marvel Comics days, I had access to a scanner that at least had a transparency adapter on it. That meant I could scan them in but the scans might not be very good since it really wasn’t meant for photo negatives. And so I scanned them in. Just as predicted the scans weren’t very good. I had eleven substandard scans of photos that I didn’t know what I wanted to do with. So they sat. The scans on my computer and the negatives in sleeves. I’d occasionally pull them out and look at them but nothing got done. No ideas leaped to the front.

Dancers in Paris 1964

Dancers in Paris 1964

Cut to nine years later in 2008. I had just gotten a bunch of old medium format negatives from my mother of family pictures. I needed something to scan them in with so I started looking at scanners again. Turns out that not only had scanners gotten cheaper but they’d also gotten much better at scanning medium format negatives. I ended up buying one for just a couple of hundred dollars that could do the job well. It took a couple of thousand dollars to buy a scanner in 1999 that could do that. So I rescanned the Paris nude dancer negatives. And then nothing. They sat.

Usually when I do one of my large photo collages I have an idea in mind before hand. And a lot of photos. For example I have made large photos of the weddings of friends of mine. I take pictures during the whole wedding and then arrange them into one large photo in such a way as to try and capture the event. In these days of digital photography I can easily take a thousand pictures at a wedding to choose from. Eleven pictures is a lot less.

The lack of color was also daunting. Often my ideas in my photos have to do with color. I’m forever using color to draw the eye around the photo and always use small bits of photos just for their color. I have all sorts of photos of odds and ends that I use for their color and texture in any given composition. A bit of blue sky here, a bit of green grass there, and some leaves of a red maple can really help pull a photo together. But none of that would be of any use with old black and white photos.

Now we’ll change time-frames again to this past summer. Once again I was looking at Ebay for stuff and found a photographer selling his negatives. They were medium format black and white negatives of alt-model Nettie Harris who I am familiar with through following her Tumblr blog. I figured I’d bid on a couple of them and ended up with two single image negatives. I decided I wasn’t going to make one of my large 20×28 inch photos out of it and would try to make one of my smaller 10×15 inch photos with the Nettie Harris negative as the main image. I would use a bunch of my own street photography to build the rest of the composition. The problem was how to integrate color and black and white photography. I’ve found that to be troublesome.

The obvious answer is to add color to the black and white photo. But that’s not as easy as it seems. With a computer and Photoshop there are lots of ways to add color to a photo but most of them are unsuitable for all sorts of esthetic reasons. I must have tried a dozen different ways until I found one I liked. And it’s simple. I used Photoshop’s “Monochrome” image mode to turn pieces of the black and white photo to black and whatever color I choose. This kept the values of the photo mostly the same for visual continuity but allowed me to drop in blocks of color. In other words it doesn’t interrupt the image as much as other ways I tried to add color. So I finished the Nettie Harris photo.

Nettie Harris Photo 1

Nettie Harris Photo 1

Then my mind drifted back to those Paris dancer negatives I bought almost fifteen years ago now. I knew I wanted to use just the eleven photos and not any of my street photos and thought the monochrome blocks of color would work to tie the whole thing together. This time I used a transparent border around the color bits though. I think the small border added a cohesiveness to the whole thing. I even went back and added those borders to the first Nettie Harris photo.

The funny thing is that I scanned in the Paris negatives yet again but then after a day or two of figuring out the layout and composition of the whole thing I discovered I didn’t like the scans I just made. So I had to change some settings and scan the negative for a fourth time and then rebuild all that I had just done. The final image size is 20×28 inches on a 22×30 inch piece of paper. Yes, I really did make an actual one of a kind physical photograph out of this. I print the large photo out in pieces, cut the pieces out along their white borders, and then paste the pieces down onto a large piece of drawing paper. So the white borders are actually the paper showing through in-between the photos. I like the physical nature such a finished piece provides.

So here it is, fifteen years later, finally finished. Things don’t usually take me that long so I find it a little hard to believe that I actually finished it. It’ll sink in though.

Nettie Harris Photo 2

Nettie Harris Photo 2

I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got eight new comics.

  • The Last Broadcast – 7 (of 7)
  • Revival – 25
  • Thief of Thieves – 25
  • X-O Manowar – 30
  • Deadly Class – 9
  • Dark Horse Presents V3 – 4
  • Sinergy – 1
  • Wonder Woman – 36 (Blank variant for drawing on the cover)
  • Check them all out here:

    Getting nothing done. That’s been my story as of late. The sinus thing that knock me down last week knocked the motivation right out of me. Or the direction. Or something. I really shouldn’t exaggerate since I’ve gotten some things done just nothing big. I’ve done a few drawing videos that I post over on my YouTube channel. Those are fairly easy to get done, at least they don’t take a lot of time, but they do take a bit of energy because I have to draw fast.

    I make the videos with my small camera and my small tripod. The camera and tripod are underneath my chin and I draw on a small piece of paper under the camera. I usually use a five by seven or baseball card size piece of paper. Then I just start drawing using my surrealist automatic drawing method and don’t stop until I’m done ten or fifteen minutes later.

    Normally I use one of my markers for this but a few times I’ve used pencil. Since people who watch the videos like the sounds of pens and pencils on paper I usually keep quiet so those sounds can be heard. The markers make the best sounds. Or at least the easiest to capture sounds. I found it hard drawing with a pencil last time since I had to bear down on it harder than I usually would to get it to make some good noise. That took more concentration than usual. That’s what these drawing videos take more than anything else. Concentration. I’m used to drifting in and out of concentration as I work so totally focusing for fifteen minutes as I work fast is different. Or maybe it’s just the speed. I’m sure I’ve spent more than fifteen minutes in a row at a task.

    I’ve wanted to film some of my regular drawing but I haven’t figured out how to do it just yet. There is not enough room for bigger paper with the small tripod right on my desk. I’ve been looking at buying a tripod boom extension to maybe get the camera to be over my shoulder but I haven’t found one I like yet. Plus it often takes a few hours to draw something and that makes for a boring video. I’m not a fan of the speeded up drawing video style but I have’t thought of anything better. This is gonna take a while.

    I also cued up two more Organics pages for me to draw and ink. I did the layouts for them back before my sinuses hurt but only printed them out in blue line this week. I drew the layouts at a small size and then blew them up. Now I’ve got them read to pencil and ink at ten by fifteen inches but so far they’ve just been sitting there for a few days.

    I was tired of mot getting anything done so I also started an eighteen by twenty-four inch painting. It’s going to be an acrylic on canvas but so far it’s only pencil on canvas. A couple of days ago I got my ambition back briefly and decided to start on a painting. I looked through my ink book until I found a drawing that I liked and them printed it out on a six by nine inch piece of paper. That’s the size I do a lot of my layout type drawings. I only need a layout for this type of painting so after I did that I scanned it in and made a color sketch. For the next step I transferred the drawing onto the canvas by grinding it up and redrawing it on the canvas. I had quite the busy morning that day. But I haven’t pulled my paints out yet. The canvas sits on my easel with only pencil lines on it waiting for me to get some more energy.

    I’ve also been trying to get some writing work done this week. I have three writing projects in the works right now and it’s slow going on all three of them. I do write my comic strip every morning and this blog once a week so I’m getting my usual writing stuff done but not the three other projects. That had lead me to trying to find a method to write the stuff I want to write. A way of getting the basic ideas fleshed out. Lately I’ve just been writing stuff down and then forgetting it. That doesn’t seem to be working so well.

    So this week I’ve been working in a notebook and making some art cards with writing on them. I’ve been keeping a writing notebook open in front of me while writing down some key point or statement of story intent on an art card and then drawing on the card too. If in the middle of the drawing I came up with an idea that needs writing down I switch to the notebook. The notebook also has small drawings in it too but mostly writing. The whole method is new and I’m not sure how it’ll work out in the end but I am at least getting some interesting little art cards out of it.

    The other usual thing I’ve just managed to get done is drawing in my ink book. I fill one book a year with little drawings and it takes about an hour or so to fill up a page. That means about ten hours a month which doesn’t seem like a lot until I realize I’ve fallen behind. That happened in the middle of October. I was only about five drawings behind but I had to consciously decide to catch up instead of just filling a page as I felt like it. This probably happens twice a year. I’m pretty much all caught up for the first week of November which means I had to get two or three pages done and somehow I managed to.

    Yeah, I’ve been okay at getting some of the little things done. Now if only the big ones were so easy.

    I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got nine new comics.

  • Alex + Ada – 10
  • The Fade Out – 3
  • Ghosted – 15
  • Outcast – 5
  • The Walking Dead – 134
  • Drifter – 1
  • Copperhead – 3
  • Ghost – 9
  • Captain America – 1 (Blank variant for drawing on the cover)
  • Check them all out here:


    I just made myself a delicious eye sandwich so in the spirit of my chili making blog I though I’d write a little how to on making my particular egg sandwich. It’s not a hard thing to make but it takes a little know how.

    I start off with a small frying pan. I think it’s an eight inch frying pan if memory serves but it’s a fairly tiny eight inch pan as the sides of it slant in at a sharp angle. It’s easy to handle and just the right size for two eggs. The first thing I do is drop a small amount of butter into the pan. If you’re not a butter fan you can skip this step and it won’t effect the outcome that much but I like a little butter. I’ve also made it without the butter and was fine with it so that’s your choice.

    The next step is the spices. I know most people uses salt and pepper on their eggs (as well as in everything else) but I don’t. The three spices I use most are thyme, oregano, and basil. As I mentioned in my chili blog I’ve had trouble finding thyme in my local supermarkets as of late and so have been buying “Italian Seasoning”. That’s thyme and oregano in one jar so it fits the bill okay.

    After I put the frying pan over low to medium heat I put about half a pat of butter in the pan and wait for it to melt. Then I sprinkle the three spices into the butter to cover the bottom of the pan. You don’t want full coverage of the bottom of the pan but about a third to half way. A nice even coat where you can see about half pan and half spices. Maybe a little less. If you’re a garlic fan, as I am, sprinkle a little garlic on top of that. Less than the other spices. Now it’s time for the eggs. I’m making them over-easy by the way. With broken yolks.

    The egg part is also easy but has to be done a certain way. I crack the eggs one at a time and put one on each side of the pan. Sure they run together but as long as you can split them in half with one yolk on each side things will be fine. After the two eggs are in the pan I use the spatula to break the yolks. This keeps the eggs flat and makes it easier to build and eat the sandwich. Since the eggs are cooked over easy some of the yolk is still soft but no so runny as to make a mess.

    At this point, since the heat is on low to medium, I take a moment to slice some cheddar cheese. I think it’s your standard eight ounce block of cheese and I cut six slices. Three for each egg. That’s not a lot of cheese as six slices is probably less than a standard pre-sliced piece of American cheese. But it’s enough.

    After my cheese is sliced I check on my eggs. I cook them slowly so what I do next is to check and see if they’re ready for flipping. I take my spatula and run them down the center of the pan splitting the eggs in half with one yolk on the left and one on the right. Usually this doesn’t take right away since the eggs aren’t cooked enough. So I just run the spatula between them a few times patiently waiting for the eggs to separate and stay separated. When a good base of cooked eggs is formed on the bottom it’s time to flip them. The tops of the eggs aren’t cooked at this point so flip them gently. I don’t have any fancy way of flipping eggs except that since I’m right handed I find it easiest to flip the left side egg first and then turn the pan around so the other egg is now on the left. That way I don’t have to contort my arm or change hands to flip the right side.

    After the eggs are flipped you should be able to see a nice speckling of spices on the now top of the eggs. I take my cheese and put three slices on each egg. If you want to get fancy you can put a lid on the pan at this moment to melt the cheese a little. I used to do that but don’t anymore. I find the heat of the eggs melts them fine as they sit in the sandwich. It takes less time to cook this side of the eggs. Maybe a minute or two before you can turn off the heat and remove them. If you like your eggs firmer than that leave them on an additional minute.

    Now a word about bread. I’ve used all sorts of bread with my egg sandwiches but I toast them all. A bagel is good and I also like a Portuguese roll and a ciabatta roll. The key for the bread it that is has to be firm. I’ve found that something like a Kaiser roll is too soft even when toasted. The bread has to have a good crust but not one that you have to tear at with your teeth. Some Italian breads have too thick a crust. I’m a fan of hot sauce so I sprinkle a little of that on the bread and then I put the cooked eggs, one at a time, between the slices of bread and let it rest for a minute or two. I find the sandwich firms up and is easier to eat after it rests briefly.

    To continue on about bread I’ve been doing things a little differently lately. I’ve been using English muffins. Since they’re smaller than most rolls and bagels I’ve been going open faced with them. First I toast the English muffin so that it’s nice and crisp and then I sprinkle some hot sauce into the nooks and crannies. The eggs are put on a bit differently too. After the eggs are done cooking I cut each egg in half with the spatula and pile one half upon the other on top of half an English muffin. That way I end up with two open face English muffin eggs sandwiches with two layers of egg and cheese on each. It sure is tasty.