Monday, August 31, 2009

Jump Week

Take a look at this flier.

It's a great idea, working in conjunction with your local store to have some new product on the shelf that week. Buying comics, for many, is a ritual. Some guys just have to go to the shop every Wednesday and get their fix, it's what they do. The idea is great, although I have a huge problem with this flier. I don't know who created it, or how well circulated the image is, but let's examine the middle paragraph. "It doesn't need to be great, just better than nothing." Really? Is that what we want to show to a new potential customer? Is that how we want to bring in new fans? Is that how we want to try to reward a local retailer who generously gives us shelf space for that week? "..better than nothing."

How about we try for something better? How about you try to get a Marvel or DC zombie into trying something new. How about putting out something that looks professional and is interesting enough that maybe the store owner asks you about what's next? When will the next issue be ready. I have done work for a couple publishers who distribute through Diamond and it's hard enough getting those books on the shelves, don't perpetuate the myth of self-publishers being amateurs by putting out amateurish work. I'm not saying my self-published work is perfect, but I try my best to make it look and feel professional. I am lucky enough that I have great relationships with with 3 or 4 retailers here in the Phoenix market, and I will see if any of them would be interested in filling some shelf space that week with copies of Hurricane Kids or Fata Obstant, or even extra trades of Villains if my publisher does not mind. If they decline though, I will completely understand because that week may be the only time a potential new customer walks through their doors, and if the new release wall looks like a high school art project, that customer will not be coming back. So instead of "better than nothing" why not do "the best that you can."

One only need to take one look at this thread on the image comics board to see how many "creators" out there think they deserve a shot. How they are just as good as anything else on the racks. Except that most have not actually done the work, put in the hours and produced a quality book. Well, you have about 3 months before your book would need to head out to get printed and back to you in time for December 30th. Here's your chance, don't waste it by putting out something that otherwise could not compete for and deserve space on that shelf any other Wednesday of the week.

Friday, August 28, 2009


I think next year I am going to do a solo superhero book, get it out of my system I suppose so I am slowly writing it and doing character designs. This is one of them.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The secret to my success?

I recently got an email from a guy who asked how I was successful in freelancing full-time. As readers of this blog know, I am not, but it did give me a chance to put some thoughts down in writing. Here is the gist of it, at least in my experience.

I pick up work on a somewhat regular basis, but not a lot of it, I'm usually just working on one job at a time, and it's all different stuff. Last year I did a lot of freelance flash illustration, this year it's some comic work. All of my jobs I get are done through networking. I routinely send friendly emails to people I know that are in position to hire me, recommend me or at least keep me in mind. Sometimes it works, most of the time I get no response. It's a constant struggle and even projects I work on that are just pitches often go nowhere, even when I work with an established professional with a known name. Publishers are pinching their pennies and it's harder for everyone. Also, every so often I get a random email from other professionals who have seen my stuff, or were recommended to me by a friend. There is no right way to go about it, I wish I knew the secret so I could freelance full-time myself. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful, but I would suggest to just network as much as possible and don't hesitate to send out emails to anyone, I've cold-emailed lots of people, and sometimes they get back to me.

Now, in my case, it's important to note that I also have an extremely low self-image about my work. It's flattering when writer A, who has books out with Image or Boom or another publisher emails me about working with them, but I always think they assume I work for free (which is sometimes the case) and they want me because of that and not because they like my stuff. In reality I assume it's a mix of the two, the work is good enough, and I work for free, or at least it seems that way.

- Ryan

Monday, August 24, 2009

Weekend Update

I finally installed a trial version of Manga Studio over the weekend, I wanted to finally see if it was worth the hype and if I could use it effectively. I know several artists whose work I admire who use it, and I was hoping it would speed up my process. I do work fast because of the style I work in, but when you take into account that I still work a full-time job, I take care of my kids 50% of the time and I try not to alienate my girlfriend too much, finding 4 uninterrupted hours to work on pages can be trying at times. So needless to say, anyway I can speed up the process I am very interested in. I only have a 4-inch Wacom, bottom of the run tablet, but I am thinking of buying the Cintiq if I think it's worth it. I really enjoy "pencilling" in Painter, much better than Photoshop, and I am starting to like it in MS as well. I did ink a pin-up in MS and the difference between those and my normal inks are not very noticeable, but until I get faster, it's still the best option for me to print the redline pages out and ink traditionally. I think once I get more comfortable with the program, purchase a full version and upgrade my tablet, I can see doing the majority of my personal, self-published work digitally, but I think it might be a while before I ink work-for-hire pages this way.

Over the weekend we finished up Mad Men season 2 on DVD, now I have to wait a while until season 3 wraps and gets put out, and it's going to be a long wait as I love the show. I think Peggy Olson is my favorite character right now. I also saw Inglourious Basterds over the weekend. It was a fun movie but I didn't think it was amazing or anything, nothing I am dying to re-watch. Even the script, for me, lacked the punch of some of Tarantino's better scripts such as True Romance, Resovoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. I've never understood all the hype he gets, but he is still a level above most fimlmakers, but still not on a level of Scorcese or Ridley Scott, at least to me. Then last night we started on Dexter season 2. (Can you tell by now I am missing having cable?) It's a fun show, nothing too special but I do like his potty-mouth sister.

Two pages and a pin-up done over the weekend that I can't post yet, but over on the sketchjam I posted a real quick sketch I did in Manga Studio.
I'll try to do something more finished tonight.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday recommendations

Sorry there has not bee a lot of updates here on the blog or up @ the sketchjam from me. Most everything I have been doing right now has been stuff that I cannot show. My buddy Wynn is really keeping the sketchJam alive though, so hop over there and show him some love. Last night was another AZ Drink and Draw Social Club meeting, where I mostly socialized and did very little drawing, but fair to middlin' drinking. Other than an insult or two by my waitress about my beer choices, it was a great night with good friends which ended with me and my friend Rory trying to convert retailer extraordinairre, Brian @ Khepri, into an MMA fan. I don't know if he bought in though. So without any new art today, I think I will post some of the more recent things I have been digging on, and feel free to educate me on what I have been missing.

TV - I don't really watch anything that's current, but I am tearing through Seasons 1 & 2 of Mad Men right now. I love the look and writing, everything has a place and is there for a reason.

Movies - um........... nothing recent.

Comics - nothing recent, but I can't wait for BOOM's Unthinkable trade or Phil Hester & Brian Churillo's new ANCHOR book.

Music - I have just been listening to old Sidebar podcasts, alot of Lily Allen and I fell in love with Different Class by Pulp all over again this morning.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Meet Ethan Ellis

This is a page from my story I'm doing for Mysterious Adventure Magazine, it should be out in a couple months. MAM is a great little book featuring wonderful tales in the pulp/adventure arena and put together by a great bunch of guys. I highly recommend picking up the first issue and jumping on-board before I show up in the pages and derail the entire project. Click for full size.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Weekend Suggestions

I'm going to be out of town this weekend, but I thought I would drop some knowledge on you all in case you were bored and looking for things to do.

1. Watch UFC 101, go find a bar that is showing it, for my money there are two of the world's elite fighters featured on Saturday night's show, it should not disappoint.

2. Rent a movie; Most of the John Hughes films will be rented I'm sure, but don't forget about twio gems of his the general public don't really talk about much. Career Opportunities is fantastic, fun and wonderfully cast, and it introduced me to my life long love of a woman in a white tank top. Probably my favorite John Hughes film is Some Kind of Wonderful. I can't really pinpoint what it is about this one, but I love it and the cast is great as well. It's a little more mature than some of his other films, but it's great, and the soundtrack might be my favorite of all time.

3. Hop over to their music page and give a listen to Phoenix local band ROBOT TANK. Good, high energy rock music and very polished for a local act. I saw them last night at Jugheads and it was a great show and the bartender was playing some old-school Bones Brigade videos (Public Domain and Ban This) so it was all around a fantastic couple hours.

See you next week!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

UFC 101 picks.

I will keep up a somewhat recent trend here where I have been posting my MMA picks for fights I am interested in. Looking back over the last 2 months, it looks like I am 3 for 6, so I'm only batting .500 here so take from it what you will. I will start with a little post from a a couple months ago when this fight was announced.

Penn Vs. Florian for the UFC Lightweight Championship (UFC101). I have always been a big BJ Penn fan, even though he rubs some the wrong way and has a bad attitude. His jiu-jitsu is on another level for MMA (he and Demian Maia have the best jiu-jitsu for MMA in my opinion) and he is the most flexible fighter I have ever seen. When his heart is in it, he is an elite level champion. That said, he got HOUSED by GSP in his last fight, but for whatever reason he did not seem to be in the best shape for that fight and he was fighting in a higher weight class as well. I think BJ is still the best lightweight in the world. While I do like Kenny Florian, I think he may be in the same boat as Rich Franklin and be the second best in his weight class. I'd like to see Kenny fight Diego Sanchez again and Sean Sherk again, but I think BJ will win this scrap in a close, tough fight. Kenny has better muay thai, but I think BJ's elite jiu-jitsu puts him over the top along with better boxing and better wrestling. I only hope this doesn't go to the 4th or 5th round where BJ may gas and get overwhelmed by Florian. I am still sticking by this pick, and just to add some more argument to the fire, BJ has faced elite competition in his career with losses to Lyoto Machida (decision), Georges St. Pierre and Matt Hughes, all current or former champions in heavier weight classes. He has wins over Hughes, several Gracies, Gomi, and the best lightweight fighters the UFC has. Florian's biggest win was over Joe "Daddy" Stevenson who lost also lost to BJ, and lost badly. He has only been knocked out once and that was a TKO and his only loss ever at 155lbs was by decision. Plainly put, Florian is deserving of a title shot but has not faced even close to the same elite level competition as Penn. BJ looks to be focused and in-shape for this fight and I think that is bad news for Kenflo. BJ is the favorite and I think he takes it.

Forrest Griffin vs. Anderson Silva - This should be a great fight because Forrest will force Silva to engage and actually fight, and Forrest can take a beating like the best of them. The biggest loser in this fight may be the UFC itself. Forrest is a big draw and a fan favorite, so setting him up for his 2nd loss in a row might hurt his image as a UFC poster boy. Luckily, Forrest is so great in victory or defeat that I don't think this will happen. I think Forrest has looked great in his last 3 fights, he was looking nice before getting caught by Rashad last time out, and I would still pick him over Rashad again. Anderson Silva looked bored and fought safely in his last 2 fights, and has shown in the Henderson and Lutter fights that he is not perfect. That said, he is brutal and is incredibly well rounded in every aspect. Silva is the favorite and that's the smart pick, Forrest is the perfect underdog and he is the heart's pick. I'm going to be rooting for Forrest, and I'm picking him to win.

Also, Sunday night on Spike is a WEC title fight with Miquel Torres vs. Brain Bowles. I'm picking Torres by badassery and mullet. I honestly do not know enough about Bowles, but I wouldn't pick against Torres.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Hate crime?

click for full size.

Is it considered a hate crime every time Midnighter beats the snot out of someone? This was a commission I did last night and I had so much fun with it. This guy got alot of bang for his buck if I do say so myself. I've always liked the characters of Midnighter and Apollo and it would be a ton of fun to do a "year one" type book with them. The pencils for this piece are here.

Random other thoughts from this morning; I saw an Army recruiter drive by a bus stop and place recruiting pamphlets on the benches. So basically the Army condones littering, wonderful. Up yours lazy Army recruiter. Also, I was breezing through the 5 channels I get this morning and came across the gem known as the 700 Club (it comes on right after Cosby), and watched a former Muslim talk about trying to convert other Muslims to Christianity. How if they only gave it a chance, they too could fall in love with a man named Jesus. Too bad there's not a show with someone on it trying to convert religious folks to Harry Potter. I would support that. He's got many fantastic qualites, a great group of frineds and he can do magic. They are practically identical now that I think of it, except one has a cool British accent.