Four Talking Boxes 1837


I’ve been working on my “The Painted Lady” faux comic book cover series for a while now. I even put them in a Blurb print-on-demand book. I made them all the same way too. I find a photo to use as reference (I wish I could shoot my own photo reference but alas…), make my basic drawing from the photo, decorate the body and face (with black shapes) of the figure I just drew, figure out a pattern for the background, and then ink the whole thing on a piece of 11×17 inch Bristol board. After that it took me a while to figure out how to color them. I ended up coloring them digitally and I thought they came out fine.

I did fifteen of those and then I was done. I had it with those faux covers. They take a lot of meticulous energy. I was fine with them and went on to other things. I moved onto doing a lot of another of my faux comic book series “Dreams of Things.” Those are done almost the same way except without the photo reference and after the inking I color them right over the black ink on the Bristol rather than digitally. I color them with my Copic markers and I enjoy the way they come out. I’ve started and stopped numerous times on that series but I’ve drawn a lot of them. Somewhere around thirty five of them at last count.

During that long run of “Dreams of Things” I went back to “The Painted Lady” for a brief time. Except this time I did them a little differently. Instead of using photo reference I drew the women out of my head. I use a totally different drawing style when I do that as I exaggerate and distort things. Eyes get bigger, backs arc a little bit more, necks elongate, and some impossible anatomical things happen. That’s what I’m looking for. If I wanted things to look more “Real” than I’d use photo reference. So I did a few of these. Then the question became if I wanted to color them.

I haven’t been fond of coloring things digitally lately. Digital is fine if I have an end product in mind such as that Blurb book that I made or any of the cartoons that appear on this blog but if I’m making art for art’s sake I want a finished piece that’s tangible rather than one made out of pixels. After finished two or three new “The Painted Lady” pieces I decided that I wanted to color one with markers as I have been doing with my “Dreams of Things” covers. Of course then the ladies sat there for a few weeks.

The biggest problem I had in coloring my “The Painted Lady” pieces was that they worked very well in black and white. I designed them to be black and white Op Art and all the crazy black and white patterns fit with each other snuggly. Inserting color into them proved to be a bit of a task since the color couldn’t interfere with the patterns. The wrong colors could mess up the shapes and the wrong technique could mess up the space. It took me a while to come up with the digital color. I kept the bodies simple and added a little texture while making the background pattern even more complicated. Could I do the same thing in marker?

The odd thing that happened next was that I wanted to draw and ink a whole new piece. Despite the fact that I had recently finished a couple of “The Painted Lady” drawings I didn’t want to uses any of them for this new technique. Somehow in my mind those three pieces were already done and if I was to color them in marker and not like the way it turned out I would be ruining a drawing that was already finished. If I was to make a whole new drawing and ink it up to the stage the other drawings were already at and then try the new technique on it and fail I wouldn’t be ruining anything. Despite the new drawing being at the exact stage of finish as the ones already done I didn’t consider it done since I was going to color it with markers. How is that for a weird quirk?

In the end I decided to keep the marker work simple. But then it began to enter the territory of too simple. I did the face and hair first since and kept them close to reality. The hair is yellow, the face is pink, and the lips are red. Nothing too crazy. It might be a little too boring too. I didn’t add any texture or technique to the marker at this point. It was just the pure color. My “Dreams of Things” covers are filled with technique and texture so I really had to restrain myself with this piece. After the face I chose a purple for the body. I find purple to be the trickiest color to use. It can easily be too dark, too red, or too blue. I’m not even sure why but more seems to go wrong with it. It was pretty stable here though.

After I had the whole body colored I knew I would have to add some texture and shading to it. It wasn’t working as is. As a criticism for the drawing I especially didn’t like how her back arm blended with her waist. I tried to use the black pattern to differentiate the two but it still didn’t thrill me. I chose only one darker color for each color already in the piece and stumbled on some shadows to add a little bit of roundness and texture. I erred on the side of caution and didn’t make things too dark. I thought it came out okay.

The last thing I did was put the orange in the background. I couldn’t make the background nearly as complicated with color as I did with the digital ones so I could only add a little bit more color. I went with a darker stroke of orange at the bottom of the boxes and a stoke of yellow on the side of the boxes. The yellow barely changes the orange underneath it but I stopped sweating it. Since the other color pairs were only that, pairs, I decided the two oranges didn’t need anything else. I was done.

This is a piece I’m still a little undecided on. I like it but I don’t like it without reservations. At least I didn’t ruin one of my finished pieces.

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

  • Captain Kid – 3
  • Captain Kid – 4
  • Shadows on the Grave – 2
  • Birthright – 21
  • Outcast – 24
  • God Country – 1
  • Stray Bullets – 20
  • Souther Bastards – 16
  • Savage Dragon – 219
  • Check them all out here:


    Sometimes as I’m working I have no idea what I’m doing. I don’t mean that on a micro level. If I have a pen, pencil, marker, or paintbrush in my hand I know what I’m doing as I’m drawing or painting. It’s not the technique of how to do something that escapes me it’s the why of something that escapes me. It’s often a feeling that comes and goes. I can have it while working on a piece but somewhere along the way I figure things out. I see the point and am able to articulate it to myself in a way that satisfies me but every so often I make a piece that escapes me. I don’t understand what it is or why it exists. “The Acid Ram #9” is one of those.

    “The Acid Ram” is the name of one of my faux comic book series that I draw covers of. It’s supposed to be a title that is extremely weird. Almost impenetrable. What is an Acid Ram you ask? I have no answer for you. When I came up with the title years ago I was searching for a name that would sound like it means something far out and trippy but didn’t mean anything specific. After many tries “The Acid Ram” is what I came up with. Acid could have something to do with hallucinogenic drugs or something to do with chemicals that dissolve stuff. Ram can be an animal or an action. Anyway, the mix those four definitions is something weird and funky so that’s why I settled on it.

    I’ve only made a handful of “The Acid Ram” covers but I didn’t make this one any different than the other ones. A few weeks ago I was working on the pencils for a few different faux comic book covers and this was one of them. Depending on my mood I’ll work on a few things at once. More than a few. At any one point in time I’ll have a dozen things at various stages of finish so that I can work on any one that I feel like. I think I have about five faux comic book covers all pencilled and at the stage where they are ready to be inked. So I decided to pick one to ink and I picked “The Acid Ram” #9.

    Just this week I bought a new inking brush. A Raphael Number Three Sable brush. These are generally considered to be a little bit inferior to the Winsor Newton Series Seven Number Three brushes but with the Winsor ones running about $35 and the Raphael ones about $25 I decided to go the cheaper route. That and I think the Winsor ones have dropped in quality over the last decade. It’s the first new sable brush I’ve bought in a few years because there was a shortage of them in the US. I was excited to use it since I’ve been using some artificial hair brushes the last year or so and I was getting tired of them. They’ve made the artificial hair brushes better than ever but they’re still not the same as sable hair.

    I inked the whole piece almost without incident. I did have a bit of a tough time figuring out what exactly I wanted to do with it though. All the various objects and spaces in the drawing weren’t as clear to me as they should be. Of course inking a piece is all about clarifying things so that wasn’t too much of a shock. But I still had to figure out what the heck was going on in this piece.

    Another of my faux comic book series is “Dreams of Things.” I’ve made a lot of them this year and I developed them not only to ink but also to color right over the inks with markers. That makes them different from my other faux comic book covers that I was in the habit of only inking and not bringing to color. I don’t think I’ve colored any of “The Acid Ram” covers with markers which made my decision to color this one a bit odd.

    I found it a little bit tough to color this piece. I think it came out well in the end, does the job, and looks fairly simple but along the way it was a tricky bit of business. First of all the space the drawing exists in is very odd. There are two overlapping figures that create a bit of depth and are fairly straight forward except when you get to the bottom of them. The back figure’s legs seem to blend into the from figure’s legs. The legs of the front figure is well defined but the back one’s aren’t. Add that to the top of the background also being well defined with its sky and pyramids yet the bottom being defined by a bunch of stuff in front of a diagonal wall makes the space even more confusing. It was all a puzzle.

    I did my best to put the puzzle together. I made a picture frame out of that little landscape on the bottom right and some magical yellow energy on the diagonal. That flatness helps the space of the rest of the picture make sense. Almost. I think it also makes the back guy’s legs flatten out even more and that makes my brain confused.

    Overall I think my color on this piece is less vibrant and focused than usual. I don’t think that’s bad but different. I kept trying to balance the color as I drew this and think I ended up with pretty good balance but in such a way that there is no sense of reality to the picture. Neither the color nor the drawing give me any clue as to who these two people are, what they are doing, or why they exist. Except for the pyramids and the sky the color makes no sense in defining any kind of world that I know. That’s what’s so weird about this piece.

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

  • Autumnlands – 14
  • The Wicked + The Divine – 25
  • Ragnarok – 11
  • The Walking Dead – 162
  • Check them all out here:


    It’s kind of a tradition among YouTube comic book people to make a video of the top ten comics that you are looking to buy in the coming year. Being that I almost never buy back issues I haven’t ever made one of these lists but this year I decided to. I feel like being forward looking. That’s my only reason for doing it. Sometimes it’s good to look forward in time and imagine nice things. My list of stuff is also fairly easy to get. I don’t have big expensive comics on the list except for two. I threw them on just for fun. I doubt I’ll get those two but who knows? I can at least look forward to getting them. Most of my list is multiple issue runs. Stuff I want to fill in. Inexpensive stuff so I’ll count it all as one list entry.

    1) “Delphine” by Richard Sala issues 3 and 4. This is an oversized series that came out almost ten years ago. I bought the first two issues and then, since the issues came out annually, I lost track of it. I’ve always meant to track down the final two issues but never have. They’re not easy to find but not particularly expensive either.

    2) “Bone” by Jeff Smith issues 28-38. I was late to buying “Bone”. I remember getting the Image comics printings of issues 1-27 off of Ebay for a song years ago and then I started buying it off the rack with issue number 39. Somehow I never went back and bought issues 28-38. I’ll have to find them. I can probably get them for a song too since everybody wants the collected editions of “Bone” these days.

    3) “Palookaville” by Seth Issues 1 and 2. These two issues are not easy to find. I first started buying the series with issue number 3 way back in the 1990s and I’ve never seen the first two issues. I have an undersized 10th anniversary edition of issue number 1 but that’s it. These two issues have self contained stories in them so I never bothered looking hard for them. The continuing stories started with issue 3.

    4) “Mage: The Hero Discovered” by Matt Wagner issues 2-11. I bought “Mage” number 1 off the rack but then went off to college and missed most of the rest of the series. I found issues 12-15 in the bargain bin and then bought collected editions of the earlier issues. So I’ve had the whole series since the late 1980s but don’t have the individual issues. I think I’d like to get them. The don’t go for a lot especially since I already have number 1.

    5) “Strangers In Paradise” by Terry Moore issues 2-3, 6-16, 18-19. Another series that I bought the first issue of but then I didn’t put it on my pull list. I bought an issue here and there until I decided to put it on my pull with issues number 20. I think it would be cool to get the rest of them.

    6) “Birthright” numbers 1-4. This is an easy one. The series is only a few years old. I didn’t start picking it up until issue 5 and then it went on my pull list. I have the first four issues in a collected edition but why not go back and get them as individual issues?

    7) Crossgen: “The First”, “Mystic”, and “Sigil”. I used to buy a few Crossgen series in the early 2000s and I enjoyed them a lot. I couldn’t afford them all so I missed out on a few series. I think these three all have 37 issues a piece and then aren’t very expensive. I’ve always meant to pick them up but it’s really been a matter of finding space for them. That’s a 120 issues or so and I’d have to get rid of that many comics to fit them. I’m planning on getting rid of a bunch of stuff this year so maybe I’ll finally finish off my Crossgen collection. I still need some things besides these three series though.

    8) Marvel Team-Up #68. This is one of my favorite issues from my childhood. It teams up Spider-Man and the Man-Thing. I still have my original issue (I even made a video about it a while ago) but I think I want a mint condition copy of it. Just because that’s how I remember it. Not old and battered like my childhood copy. I did this for a few childhood favorites a decade ago and the pristine copies are fun to see. Of course I read the battered ones.

    9) Wonder Woman #108. This one is on the list just for fun. That and it has a cover I really like by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. WW 108 is a recent want of mine. I never knew it existed before a couple of years ago. I was looking at someone’s list of favorite Wonder Woman covers and this one was on it. It stood out to me and I made a mental note to get one one day. Since it’s from the late 1950s and runs a good hundred dollars I’m not sure I ever will but I’ll put it on the list anyway. It’s a wish list after all.

    10) Frontline Combat #3. This is one that went on the list because I decided I should have an EC comic on the list. There are plenty of good EC comics to chose from with lots of great covers but this one stands out to me. It’s drawn by Harvey Kurtzman and there is something about him referencing the Battleship Missouri that resonates with me. It makes history come alive. This is another expensive comic but I think there is also a facsimile reprint of it. I might have to get that version of it.

    11) Shade the Changing Man 1-8 by Steve Ditko. Only in the last two weeks have I finally gotten around to reading this 1970s Steve Ditko series. If I had known it was this good I would have read it years ago. I have in the Ditko Omnibus but I would like the original issues too.

    So there you go. My top eleven wish list for 2017. I don’t know if I’ll ever make another one but this one was fun.