Monday, September 20, 2021

"Lycanthropy and the Single Girl"

 


"Meet Claire Gribbald. She's a young graphic artist and painter trying to get a handle on her life. She has all of the problems of a professional, single girl living on her own. She has good friends, a fragile career, a cozy little apartment, and is unlucky in love.
So unlucky that her ex turned out to be a werewolf. Unfortunately, thanks to a particularly bad breakup, now so is she."

So, that's the "back cover blurb' for the first in a series of Werewolf novels I'm writing. The first THREE books are written, with more in the works, and I can't wait for these to be out there for all to read. Here's a sneak peek of some promo art for the first book. Enjoy!

Friday, July 10, 2020

GIANT GIRL ADVENTURES - Making a Panel

Hey there, hi there, ho there.

Recently I began the new and exciting challenge as the new artist of Sabrina Pandora's awesome webcomic, GIANT GIRL ADVENTURES!

For those curious, GIANT GIRL ADVENTURES is the brainchild of my bestie, Sabrina Pandora. it's an ongoing webcomic that began online in 2012 with Koen Luyten performing the art duties.

GIANT GIRL ADVENTURES is the ongoing tale of a woman named Ronni Kane who has tremendous, size-changing powers that she uses as a superhero on occasion, an often reluctant adventurer, a part-time stunt-woman and a bit of an attention seeker. She's fascinatingly complicated and a really fun character. But the universe seems committed to testing her heroism at every turn, creating new monsters and threats to challenge her in a series that's equal parts epic adventure, tongue-in-cheek humor, and loving homages to all the comics, movies and tales of high-adventure that inspired us.

It's a LOT of fun, and as a reader, I really dug it.

Mid-way through issue 17 back in 2017, Sabrina found herself in need of a new artist to take over and the comic has been on hiatus since then, RIGHT in the middle of an EPIC Fantasy themed story arc.

Back in 2018, Sabrina and I began collaborating on a Star Trek-themed writing fan project, and, over the last couple of years, we really discovered that we're not only great friends but collaborate REALLY well together. So, after I did that piece of fan art a few months ago, we started talking and after a bit, decided to collaborate to keep Ronni's story going.

So, I began work on picking up where the last story left off, which is an EPIC "Dungeons & Dragons" inspired fantasy-adventure that is pushing me artistically in ways I've never quite been used before.

One way it's challenged me has been in going back to full DIGITAL art for production, as it allows me to do a LOT in an otherwise black and white (with spot reds) comic AND make on-the-fly tweaks and edits as Sabrina and I go back and forth over each page. As such, I thought a STEP-BY-STEP view of the creation of a single panel might be a fun way to give you all a peek behind the proverbial curtain. Hope you enjoy:


STEP ONE: THE SCRIPT!
Of COURSE step one is the script! Sabrina has a sprawling, epic and hilarious story written out and the first step for ME is in reading it all, including familiarizing myself with all the characters and the great designs Koen created.


STEP TWO: BLUE LINE ROUGHS!

Using a digital pencil in ADOBE PHOTOSHOP called "KYLE Ultimate Pencil Hard", I take the script and rough out what everything will look like and where all the characters ARE. 

Two of the word balloons ended up being moved to other panels later on, and because the script for the REST of the panel emphasized the importance of that GIANT-SIZED outhouse, I included it here  to set it up. 

As with MOST of my projects, this is about as tight as my "pencils" ever go, and I will jump straight to digital inks from here.


STEP THREE: FOREGROUND INKS!
Using a digital inking brush called "KLYE Ultimate Inking Thick n' Thin", (Thanks, Kyle!) I ink the foreground characters. I set the brush's width to no more than nine and no less than five to keep my ink lines as consistent as possible to keep it looking organic.

In this panel, I wanted to separate our HEROES from the surly giants and background, so I drew them on their own layer.

You'll also notice that Lexxi the Pixie was moved from sitting on the COLD IRON END of Ronni's giant maul, to the leather-strap covered handle. I... forgot about pixie's problems with Iron in the pencils. OOPS!


STEP THREE: HOLDING LINE MASK!
While not done on every panel, on panels with multiple levels of depth, I usually create a mask layer to go under the lines here and ABOVE the layer where I'll draw the background. 

And to help the foreground art POP, I apply a simple black stroke to the mask to give the foreground art a stronger contour line.


STEP FOUR: BACKGROUND INKS!
THERE'S our surly hillbilly giants, some loosely indicated tress in the distance and the aforementioned giant outhouse. Our mission's bard, Dirk Swann certainly seems interested in that door, doesn't he? Does he just need to PEE, or is there something MORE!?


STEP FIVE: SPOT COLOR AND GRAYS!
For each page of GIANT GIRL ADVENTURES, I use two different shades of gray and a single spot color of RED for our main heroes' wardrobe. These are colored on separate layers behind each layer of pencils. 

This really helps sell the depth of the scene and bring the focus on Ronni, our titular Giant Girl.


STEP SIX: ADVENTURES IN FAKE DUOTONE!
On a layer UNDER the panel borders and lettering, but ABOVE all of the art, is a layer of black parallel lines at an angle. This is a digital fake-out designed to replicate the look of a technique called Duotone.

Duotone boards were printed with faint lines crisscrossing on the thick board that were invisible to the printing process UNTIL you painted on a set of two different chemicals. One chemical revealed one set of lines. The other chemical revealed the second set of lines.

Because the crisscrossing lines create weird patterns on a computer screen, I only recreated the lines going in ONE direction, and then in Photoshop, created a mask that made the entire layer invisible.


STEP SEVEN: PAINTING IN THE DUOTONE! 
Using one of my favorite photoshop brushes, the basic "Rough Round Bristle", I paint out the areas of shadow I want to show through the previously established mask, leaving a black mask with painterly areas "cut out" by setting the brush at about 65% opacity. This gives a more natural feel to the revealed duo tone lines in the finished panel.


STEP EIGHT: THE FINISHED PANEL!
And this is what it all looks like combined. The Duotone layer is ONLY visible in the places where I painted away the mask, giving us a little more shadow, texture and depth.

So, if you want to see what's NEXT, and just what Dirk Swann is investigating that outhouse for, go over to GIANT GIRL ADVENTURES today and get caught up on the adventure!

Giant Girl Adventures, ©2020, Sabrina Pandora. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The WELLKEEPER: The Complete Collection NOW AVAILABLE!

It's here, folks! Now in one amazing volume, the entire fantasy adventure #graphicnovel series, The WELLKEEPER! All 12 thrilling issues, the exclusive #0 issue and a gallery of sketches, development art and guest art all contained in one massive 340 page book that can be yours for just $19.99!

THE WELLKEEPER© is the tale of a young girl name Zoe, the latest in a long line of women known as Wellkeepers. She is charged with the task of guarding the living energies of the earth itself and is empowered to communicate and control those very forces. With these gifts, Zoe can talk with plant, animals and control the forces of life itself. But she is hunted by dark forces that seek to destroy her to take her gifts and bring about the death of all things.

 THE WELLKEEPER© is a young adult adventure blending #humor, #fantasy, #adventure and danger to entertain all ages.









Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Big Pond Comics Manifesto!


MAKE THE COMICS YOU WOULD WANT TO READ!

That's the manifesto of BIG POND COMICS! I began Big Pond in 2001 with the launch of my online and onGOING webcomic, Dandy & Company and it has expanded as the umbrella under which all of my own creations and key collaborations.

As a solo creator, I've published Dandy & Company, Scarred World: The Chronicles of Aegis, Apparition, Marjorie of the Weirdlings, Finding Dee and The Wellkeeper. Working with other creators like Martin Dunn, Marc Hammond and Valerie Stern, I've helped create Hooray for Harold, FETCH: An Odyssey and Tails to Amaze.

But the one thing all of the comics I've made have in common is that driving creed. I make the comics nobody else is making. The books that I would spend my own money to buy if it was already out there. I make the books that I would want to read.

It's really that simple. Now go and make some comics!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Making Marjorie of the Weirdlings

Hey there, Dee Fish here. For those of you that don't know me, I'm the creator and artist of the webcomic "Dandy & Company" and the graphic novel "The Wellkeeper". As an artist and storyteller, I've also co-created and drew the Hashtag Comics series "Carpe Noctem" and have drawn stories for the IDW comics "Atomic Robo", "Star Mage" and "White Chapel" and the Image Comics "The Perhapanauts" and "The Mice Templar".

That bit of exposition aside, I wanted to do a little "step by step" blog showing the techniques I'm using to bring my latest concept to life, a comic called "Marjorie of the Weirdlings". It's a new comic I'm working on centering on a young Transgender girl named Marjorie that discovers a ring that transports her to a weird and dangerous world of monsters called Weirdlings. But when she's there, she becomes the most powerful Weirdling of them all and has a serious problem: Why go home at all when you discover a magical fantasy world where you get to kick butt.

So here is a step by step of the creation of a single page from start to finish.


Step 1 is the clean line inks. Drawn on a standard sheet of Canson 11" x 17" blue lined comic board, I ink over blue pencils using a Pentel Stylo inking pen and a Pentel Pocket brush. This initial step is purposely free of rendering and is inked in a clean, open style. I scan the art in at high res and place the art in Adobe Photoshop for production.



Step 2 is the rendered inks. Using the same Pentel Stylo, I add rendering to add volume, texture, light and shadows. I re-scan the art at this step, placing it as a separate layer over the clean line inks.


Step 3 is the reduction of opacity on the rendered layer to 50%. This creates the grey rendering level used for black and white printing that I feel gives the art an animated and unique feel.


Step 4 is the application of flat colors to the line art. I decided that this comic really needs COLOR to make the WeirdWorld pop and come to proper life. I used a gradient here for the sickly yellow sky of the Weirdworld which is on a separate layer in Adobe Photoshop.


Step 5 uses the rendering line work to add modeling and depth to the color. Using the rendered line art layer, I create a selection that I can fill using darker, slightly tinted color from the flats. This enables me to give the art a modeled and rounded feel with only the line art and not the colors.


Step 6 applies a painterly texture layer over the background elements to add additional mood and texture. This is applied ONLY to the sky, rocks and smoke and helps pop the characters even more.

From here, it's a matter of adding the lettering and it's on to the next page. I hope you enjoyed this little behind the scenes peak of the Making of "Marjorie of the Weirdlings"!

The black and white, 12 page preview of the premier issue is now available as a part of "The Big Pond Comics Sampler #1" and can be ordered for JUST $3.50, online along with all the rest of my titles.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER!

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Monday, October 24, 2016

"Marjorie of the Weirdlings" Preview!





So, here’s a 6 page preview of my latest adventure. A comic called “Marjorie of the Weirdlings”, that will be premiering the weekend of October 28th at MEGACON TAMPA!

But now onto the content of page 6. This is the page that establishes Marjory as transgender. The page I expect to get some poop over.

When designing the character, I realized early on that she had to be trans. I was putting a LOT of my childhood frustrations, identity and anger issues on the page wrapped in an otherwise fun, magical adventure. But I quickly realized that Marjorie was me. But a me that was able to come out and live as she knew she should decades before me.

I agonized over the exact verbiage she should use in her narrative. I wanted her descriptions to avoid specific labels or politically correct press release speak. She's a 13 year old transgender girl, not a political activist. Nor am I trying to have her description fit into any one sub groups agenda by using specific buzz word definitions.

Ultimately, I wanted her description to seem fitting for a kid that knows what she is but has a hard time finding the words to express that. So I used the verbiage that felt natural to ME when I was thinking about myself at that age.

I understand that there are some folks that will take issue with her describing herself as being born with "boy Parts" as that is not the currently accepted terminology. It implies that the shape of our genitals is automatically gendered. I GET all of that. But for the life of me, I couldn't justify having that kind of philosophical tightrope walking coming out of this characters proverbial mouth.

When I was still struggling with myself in this, I wasn't thinking in such terms. I still partly don't. I, as a 41 year old trans woman, don't think of what is between my legs as female anatomy regardless of my ever strengthening gender identity. I have decades of reinforcement in the opposite direction to overcome. So, for me, I wanted Marjorie's thoughts to mirror my own from he point of view of a very young person trying to express very mature concepts. I felt that her thoughts and experiences in this area needed to be honest.

So, if her specific verbiage upsets you, I am sorry. But I had to be honest as a writer and write truthfully for my character. Life is a never ending journey of self-discovery and this character is on that same journey.

If the book finds an audience and continues past this first issue, then I will have the time to explore this aspect of her and allow those ideas to evolve. But I do hope you can understand why I'm expressing this concept as I am choosing to.