Monday, November 26, 2007

"Be happy in your work" Part 2

Yep. Too much of too much isn't a good thing and the clones I ordered from Kamino have yet to arrive. The day job, the post-day job (that didn't work out), the graphic novel promotion, the next graphic novel in progress, the hunt for the next post-day job and a myriad of other things I won't get into are driving me to distraction.

I'm not so much complaining as I am just venting. I'm very near completion of the Angora Napkin graphic novel and if memory serves me (which is a long shot) I got all wound up when I was near finishing Chiaroscuro Book 1. I guess while I'm working on a project I never really expect that I'll reach the end, so it comes as a surprised bout of nervous shock when I can see the final few pages drawing to a close. I'm anxious to draw but my mind is bouncing around to 40 other things simultaneously.

Also, it's that time of year when the world shows you just how fucking poor you really are. Jolly times indeed.
...And it doesn't help when you're reading a really crappy book (Demon Box by Ken Kesey) that you wish you could stop reading. I have a really hard time investing myself in a book and not seeing it through to the end. I know, it's stupid. Kesey's written 2 of my favorite books, Cuckoo's Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion, so I had great hope for this but it turns out the publisher just culled together a bunch of really lousy unpublished short (some not short enough) pieces of journalism to make a buck and now I'm stuck reading it. It's so depressing when this happens, I must be more careful in the future.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Launch photos

I dove right into the book signing and sketching shortly after 7pm and didn't stop until around 9:30! Had a great turn out and got to talk to lots of friends, family and met some new people too! I even found a few of the old Chiaroscuro T-shirts to sell as well as a couple of Meanwhile Studios coffee mugs.

As they say, I'm "Gettinerdone".

Check out some of the C-town glitterati. Can you pick out all the famous artists and animators in attendance?

The proud folks posing with the prodigal son. If only Norman Rockwell were alive to capture this glowing moment!

Thank you everyone who stopped by to see the show and wish me well, I had a great time!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Monday, November 05, 2007

3 Day Novel: Postscript

Carol was recently featured in The Guardian newspaper on her accomplishment with the 3 Day Novel competition. Read it and marvel!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Podcast and Career Day

First order of business: Podcast! Yes, I've been recorded and I'm now available (at your convenience) for download at ! One of the perks behind written interviews is that they tend to edit many of the "ummm..." bits out of your conversation. Not so on a Podcast! So enjoy the smooth sound of my voice as I stammer through a half-assed synopsis of my graphic novel.

Next: Halloween is the big day! Chiaroscuro will be in stores on the 31st, Woo-hoo! I have my advance copies piled up next to me looking slick as all get out.

And then there's Career Day. Well, it was.... Interesting. I was asked to speak at my old High School to the students about my careers in animation and comics. There was 3 sessions of about 40 minutes each, between 20-40 students in each session.

I remember being in high school all to well. There's the little cliques; the metal heads, the cool alternative geeks, the smart asses and the disinterested. Snarky kids and some kids with a genuine interest, but with no teacher supervision in the room: just me. Yar. Not a lot of questions were asked, most kids seemed vaguely interested in computer animation and little else. I don't know that I was of any use at all in getting kids excited about pursuing the arts, but I tried. I would run out of things to say after 30 minutes and then with no questions, just sit back and watch the clock.

Except the last session. There was a kid who came in who clearly had social/mental issues. He spoke too loudly and with no inflection, interrupting everyone and becoming irrationally hostile towards me for no real reason. It was odd having to deal with this poor kid in a polite manner, as I said there were no teachers present. It was nearly impossible to speak to the rest of the kids while he shouted weird things at me with a big smile on. When the session was over he got up in my face with a fist raised yelling "You haven't seen the last of me, I'll have my revenge! Why don't you got to Hollywood, we don't want you here"! Really weird. I feel bad for the guy, it can't be easy getting through the day in such a manner.

It's also strange to find that all those lousy children's cartoons I worked on over the years are the stuff these kids grew up on. Ouch.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A trip down amnesia lane

Let it be known I never went to school for animation, I'm self taught. So that means ya gotta start somewhere, right? I started out by making this little film back in the days before Flash. It's hand drawn animation pieced together in Adobe Premiere and run through After Effects. The audio was poorly recorded in my friend Pat's basement on a lousy 4 track that could hardly pick up sound.

Now here it is online for a larf. I added the subtitles because of the lousy quality of the audio.

The cartoon was based on a comic strip I was drawing for the now defunct Capital City magazine in Ottawa.

There's another old animated short of mine hidden away somewhere on one of these old disks, but it makes this one look like Fantasia. Maybe someday when I'm feeling particularly horrible about myself I'll dig it out and post it... But then again, maybe not.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Shame on you Comic Shop Guy.

Newsarama has an interview with IDW President Ted Adams speaking about the upcoming movie "30 Days of Night" and the graphic novel that it's adapted from. About half way down the article he mentions Chiaroscuro and the lack of support comic shops have given it in pre orders (and they are pretty low folks).

Shame, shame on you.

To the brave few that did take a chance on my book, thank you.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Book Launch November 9th!

I have in my possession an advance copy of the hard cover edition! It looks awesome and has a good feel to it, very nice job! Your money will be well spent on this puppy. IDW has it listed on their web site as shipping October 31st, so it won't be long now! Hope to see you all at the book launch, I'm sure no one will have any trouble getting to P.E.I. for the big day.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hiccups and Diversions

I was on a blog posting roll for a bit there but then things went to crap and I haven't felt the desire to chat about it until now.

It started with the news that the Chiaroscuro book launch was going to be postponed due to issues with the printer in Korea and shipping times. I'm still trying to work that one out but it looks like it'll be bumped into early November.

Then my sister's dog Angel took a turn for the worse and she had to be put down. Angel was a big, beautiful dog and my sister's best friend. She was 14 years old, which is pretty good for a dog that size. I went with my sister and her husband to the vet and was there when they gave the injection; it was one of the saddest moments of my life. I've been much kinder to my own dog since then 'cause he's no spring chicken either.

Anyway, I decided I needed a break from drawing so I picked up Shadow of the Colossus for the PS2 and beat it in a few days. Fun game but a little frustrating at times. Carol's been eating up 3 seasons' worth of Grey's Anatomy on DVD, I think she's as frustrated with her own work as I am with mine.

I've been slowly gravitating back to the drawing table, so I think my funk is passing. I've been doing some teaching this week at a couple of high schools, talking about comics and such and helping with some class projects. I spent a lunch hour today doing sketches for some of the younger grade kids here in Kensington; a lot of Doodlez, a few Untalkative Bunnies and the odd Angora Napkin character.

That infernal bunny keeps cropping up in my life. Just last week I had an email request for an Untalkative Bunny pic for a birthday:

At least he's easy to draw.

Okay, back to work for me. I should have some good news to post in the next few days about the book launch and I'm expecting to see an advance copy of the book itself very soon!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Mmmmm.... Hamburers...

I've been laughing at this ever since my pal Pat showed it to me. You can find this little shop serving up yummy hamburers in Cavendish (Tourist Trap) Prince Edward Island during the On Season. It's the place with the large fiberglass Space Shuttle in the back, you can't miss it.

I spent a few years working in a sign shop so I know these signs do not come cheap, I wonder how this got put in place without anyone saying anything to the owner... Mind you, I once silk screened 500 double sided real estate signs and spelled "Reality" instead of "Realty". This is why it's a good idea to married your editor.

Carol's gone out with her pals and I just put the girls to bed. Time to do some drawing! I'll have at least 9 pages of Angora Napkin done this month instead of the usual 6. I was shooting for 10, but I'm not going to complain.

I've been listening to a bunch of audio commentaries from DVD's I own (or have rented recently) while I work. Tonight it's the 1983 classic Repo Man.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


The weekend has arrived and nothing much changes. I feel like I never leave the house, I'm just sitting all the time either here in front of the computer or 3 feet away at my drafting table. Work work work. Some of it I enjoy, lots of it I loath. It's no wonder I'm out of shape, just sitting and working. Sometimes I sit and read but that's not a very active endeavor either.

There was a time I think, when I did stuff. I use to count down the days until the weekend. That feels like a lifetime ago! I've been to only one concert I can think of in the last 3-4 years and that was The White Stripes a few months ago. Granted, no one's really come around this neck of the woods (except KMFDM a few years ago in Moncton, I'm still angry I missed that one) that I'd want to go see (or could afford to go see) but my point is I don't get out much.

I've been getting up early to work on the Angora Napkin book this past week and making some progress. By the afternoon today I was good and ready to breath some fresh air and go do something other than work and do it outside of the house.

...But I couldn't think of anything to do or anywhere to go. I thought about it for a while (this isn't the first time this has happened to me) and eventually gave up and decided I'd just go back and sit and draw some more. I wonder sometimes if I'm missing out on some vitally important aspect of life.

My very small world consists of my wife, my kids, my drawing, my day job, reading and watching movies. Carol says that that's more than enough for anyone to tackle and I have to admit I agree with her. I know I'm doing my best using the time I've got.

Still, I can't help but feel envious when I see friends traveling around the globe and doing things that don't involve sitting withing a 15X20 foot area every single day, weekends included. It's no wonder artists go mad. I could use a hobby if only I had the time for one and a clue as to what that hobby would consist of.

In order to preserve my sanity a little longer I've decided to do my best to save up for a road trip to SPX next year with my friend Pat. I've been planning to go for years now and something always comes up, but this time I must go. Not need, MUST. It's this shred of something that lies in the future in which I can justifiably see the outside world for a few days. It's over a year away and I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Polly Pocket ruined my day.

Yep, the little plastic wench put me in such a foul mood my day was shot. Such are the joys one can achieve by working in animation so get out there you starry eyed youngsters and get a job in Flash animation. Or maybe you'll be lucky enough to work on some 3D masterpiece like Shrek 14. Dare to dream.

Anyone in the market for a 13 year old dog who's stone deaf, hates the outdoors and can't stop barking? And when he's not barking he's whining. Or pissing in my office. Or eating out of the compost bin. Anyone? Anyone? If I was a gun owner I'da given him a couple of Milk Bones today.

I was supposed to meet up with some friends at the Confederation Center and check out the show but that didn't work out as planned. I watched Jason walking out the door at the opposite end of the building, and as I had the twins with me I'm not in the position to run him down. Mark had all ready left, so that all sucked.

On the up side, the show looks good! Ihor did a great job mixing my interview so that I sound half way competent. He converted the segment into B&W; I was back lit so it's kind of dark. I'll see if I can get a copy of it from him for the web site. While I was there I had a newspaper interview for the local Kensington paper. The interviewer (Mike) was a student of mine back when I was teaching comic art at my old High School, so that was kind of interesting.

Other than that, I received a nice card and some money (I expect it's worth a lot!) from my biggest fan in China and harbinger of Pocky. Hi Xiao Ai, and thanks! ;)
That's it for me. Guess I'll post another Mygrain and either go to bed or get back to work. I'm getting pissed off with myself, which usually means I'm about to go into overdrive until I burn out. Nothing unusual.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Read a Book!

Ak! So much going on and me without my clone again!

I'm going down to check out the show at the Confed Centre on Wednesday, I'm quite anxious to see what Ihor has put together. The CBC news spot has gone over way better than I had anticipated; the story went National on, I got a few back issue comic orders (thanks Stephen & Eric!) and some more interviews are getting lined up.

The whole thing has got me thinking about the next Chiaroscuro book and so I sat down and looked at how long it would be before I started work on it. I was kind of disappointed when I noticed that as it stands the Angora Napkin project will be going until March (at least) of 2008, which will have put that "quick" project squarely into the two year mark, and it'll turn out to be a fairly small book when it's all said and done. Okay, granted I became a dad to twins and all, I just figured I'd be done sooner than that. Oh well, accept it and move on I guess.

In all likely hood it'll kick my ass into gear and I'll try to knock out more pages a month. I'm stupid like that.

On another note, I had the pleasure of reading Carol's 3 Day Novel "Hide Your Life Away" and it's just brilliant! I have no idea how she pulled that off in just 3 days. It's really well written and laugh out loud funny, I think she should win. So on that note, watch this video:

Read a Book

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Troy featured on CBC TV tonight!

Ace video journalist Sophia Harris from CBC news stopped by the studio yesterday for almost 3 hours to talk about Chiaroscuro, the big book deal and other stuff. They say the magic of film is in the editing so I hope I'm edited well because I sure need to be! You can never tell how these things are going when you are in them. Like when Ihor (curator from the Confederation Center) was shooting interviews with me for the up coming exhibit, I had the feeling I was rambling and loosing track of the subject. I have no idea what any of this stuff will look like in the end so it should be an interesting (and I hope not embarrassing) learning experience. I think I need to learn to be more media savvy, I tend to fall into the 'Overly Modest Canadian' type, which probably makes for lousy TV. Eh, what do I know.

Anywho, the spot will be aired on Compass tonight at 6 (late in the show). I'm told sometimes other CBC stations pick up stories off the wire for broadcast, so if you happen to be living somewhere other than P.E.I. and see the spot, drop me a line.

Update: I just found out you can watch the show 90 minutes after airtime on the website found here:

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

3 Day Novel: Epilogue

Illustration by Peter Kuper

Here we are the day after the World's Most Notorious Literary Contest draws to a close. I finally had an opportunity to speak with the author only moments ago as she was on her way back upstairs to her office to continue transcribing her manuscript.

I ask her how she feels about the project now that the 72 hours is up and the bell has wrung. She tells me that she feels very good about the experience, pleased with the work in general and completely at a loss as to how to explain the fact that she wrote a novel in 3 days when her usual daily quota is about 5 pages. The title of her story is called 'Hide Your Life Away'. She went into the project with a simple two page outline and a boat load of coffee and came out the other side a hero.

I have yet to read a word of the story, but she assures me that I can start reading tomorrow. The final typed manuscript has to be in the mail Friday so until then she'll continue burning the midnight oil with cramped fingers, stiff back and a four point headache.

I ask would she attempt this again? Absolutely, she replies, but I might hire a typist... and an in-house personal masseuse.

In closing she adds the interesting observation that many people who have been following her mentally/physically torturous endeavor participating in the 3 Day Novel refer to it as "Hilarious", or "A Riot". A perplexed look crosses her sleep deprived face at such utterances, as if the words must hold another meaning. Is such torment a point of humor to some? I suppose it must be so. And with that, the Author struggles to stand and with glazed eyes robotically turns toward her office where the words and the pain have melded into one numb pool of exasperation.

Yes folks, she has won. Congratulations again Carol, Champion of the Word.

Monday, September 03, 2007

3 Day Novel: Day 3 - 8:22pm

She's done, the story is told! 118 hand written pages in just under 3 days! Congratulations Carol!!!! Of course the night is young and if you can believe it she just went back up stairs to start typing. Madness has obviously overtaken her.

As for me, I'm worn out. I'll follow this short entry up tomorrow with an epilogue. I need to go to bed soon, CBC television is going to be here tomorrow morning to talk to me about the forth coming Chiaroscuro graphic novel and the up coming art show at the Confederation Center. I hope I'm coherent.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

3 Day Novel: Day 2 - 7:52pm

It's getting late in the day for you normals out there, but it is to your credit to be aware and pay homage to the lonesome writer. Picture her as I do: seated in a Elizabethan style wing back chair, Siamese cat purring by her side and a steaming hot cup of Red Rose swirling next to her. Pen, thoughtfully poised only a breath away from her lips as she forms the next thrilling scene in her mind.

Ignore the idea that she is suffering near crippling pain in her right hand and is feeling more than slightly nauseous from lack of sleep coupled with an over abundance of coffee and left over pizza. Try not to imagine how the ticking of the clock sounds to one who feels she is miles away from her necessary amount of writing for the day.

Yes, Day 2 is shaping up to be a test of will power and creative prowess.

In my world, I took the girls to Charlottetown for I had planned to drop them off with family and do some drawing between morning and afternoon nap time. As is the case these last two days, things don't work out as planned. None the less, I met with The Wa and had lunch with Ann at Hunter's Ale House. Let it be known that after the wretched service we had at Hunter's Ale House I will not be returning.

That's about it for me. I feel like a blunt instrument and once I'm sure the girls are sound asleep I'm ducking out to the Petro to snag some chip dip, then kick back and watch 'Pan's Labyrinth' in the dark. With my chip dip.

(...that is if you ignore the fact that she'll THEN have to start typing the bloody thing out into proper manuscript format. Aren't YOU glad you don't write for a living?)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

3 Day Novel: Day 1 - 10:26pm

"The Author in Repose with Tiny Baby Feet Nearby"
-Courtesy of the National Archives of Canada, Kensington Div.

...And so we draw to a close Day 1 of Carol's trek down carpel tunnel road. She's done very well, clocking in at 54 hand written pages! She's delving into the land of Advil & ice packs.

Tune in tomorrow for DAY 2!

3 Day Novel: Day 1 - 2:10 pm

I've been sternly reprimanded about my failing to adhere to RULE #3 while Carol had lunch. Man, it's really hard not to talk to someone whom you speak to all the time every day. I feel like I'm ignoring her, which I suppose I should be as RULE #7 states the Carol isn't even in the house!

(Not a peep coming from upstairs all morning. Eerie.)

I just put the girls down for their afternoon nap, I've been having a great time playing with them. Hayden's really good at driving a train around the living room and laughs when I make race car noises for her.

After the nap, I'm going to pack up the little ladies and drop them off at my folks house while I go and take some time to myself. I'll be picking up Pizza Delight for supper and a couple of movies from Jumbo Video.

3 Day Novel: Day 1 - 9:59am


RULE # 1: Don’t ask Carol about writing

RULE # 2: Don’t ask Carol about writing!

RULE # 3: Don’t speak to Carol unless spoken to

RULE # 4: Do not enter Carol’s office

RULE # 5: Carol does not take phone calls or interviews

RULE # 6: There should always be coffee available

RULE # 7: Carol is not home

I think I may have accidentally broken RULE #3 by saying "Good Morning", "hey" and "breakfast" to Carol. I am attempting to trod more carefully. The coffee pot is less than 1/4 full, so I'll have to go make a fresh pot shortly.

I hardly slept at all last night for some reason. Ended up playing around on Facebook for an hour around 4 am and tried to sleep on the couch. I'd say I'm lucky if I managed 3 hours total last night. The girls are down for their morning nap, so I have a small window of time to get things ready for the next part of the day.

So far all is silent apart from the occasional thump emanating from Carol's office. She took her breakfast with notebook in hand (she's writing longhand) and iPod in place. I was told last night she had put a few new songs on her iPod including track #2 from the South Park Movie CD. I hope it is inspiring 'cause I have that song stuck in my head now.

Point of Interest - a post it note in Carol's handwriting stuck to the mirror outside the bathroom reading "Please clean tub". I have done so.

Friday, August 31, 2007

World Famous Author accepts the challenge!

Some say she's crazy, and they may be right (she married me after all). Never mind that she's the mom of twins babies! Forget that she's on a grant driven deadline to write her second novel! This woman can do ANYTHING! She laughs at danger where others cower in fear and this weekend she is taking part in THE 3 DAY NOVEL contest!!!

Now I've attempted the 24 Hour Comic Challenge twice, and grueling as it is, it's not 3 FRIKKEN' DAYS LONG!!!

I have been given a long list of instructions to which I must adhere to for fear of my life. I'll be taking care of the twins for the 3 days and providing the sequestered resident author with meals, coffee, snacks and absolute privacy. It's going to be a big challenge on both accounts but we're a little nutty like that.

So for fun, I will update the Blog here daily with an account of the events taking shape in our modest little home. I will document the muttering and shuffling from behind her office door. I won't be speaking to her about the work; in fact I'll have very little contact with here at all. All I can do is put down my interpretation of events as they happen. The tears. The cursing. The maniacal laughter... All in the name of creative fiction under the most severest of deadlines.

To be continued....

Monday, August 27, 2007

New look to the blog

I've been working on the new Meanwhile Studios website and I figured I may as well update this while I was at it. Start fresh and all that. So with that in mind, this blog will become a bit more of a personal blog (as opposed to a surrogate web space). I've shut down the old "Caffeine & Sleep Deprivation" blog for the obvious reasons.

So the new site is up and running (more or less). There's a few sections like the "Store", "Misc" and "Stuff" that are still under construction, bear with me as I hate building web sites as it is and have done well to get this much done all ready.

Well to break in the "new" blog, let me start by talking about my kids! My twin daughters Alicen & Hayden turned 1 year old last week on August 22 & 23! We had a big party for them on our spiffy new deck on Saturday. Thanks to everyone who could make it, we had a great time! It was pretty exhausting; Carol was up the night before baking 72 cupcakes for the party and the yard had been un-mowed for weeks (months?) due to all the construction going on around here. It was a mad dash to get everything ready but we made it!

(Hayden & Alicen enjoying their birthday cupcake)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

New stuff soon!

Man, busy! When it rains it pours around here but stuff is happening! Here's a quick update:

-The Chiaroscuro book is off to IDW! I really had to cram there to get the dust jacket finished but it turned out great. I'm looking forward to getting the proof, it's soooo close now...

-A major Comic Art show / Book Launch is in the works, details in the near future!

-Angora Napkin is still on schedule somehow.

-A new web site is in the works! It's been a few years now I've been relying on 'ol Bloggy here to spread the Gospel but soon that will change. I'll keep the blog going so don't be alarmed when you log in and find yourself at a website, the blog link will be there.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Chiaroscuro HC available for pre-order!!!!

Previews pg. 312, Diamond code :AUG073757

Now is your chance to pre-order the slick new hard cover edition of Chiaroscuro! As much as I wish these puppies would magically be available in every single comic shop and book store, there is a limit to the number available.

Comic shops don't have the luxury or returning unsold books (like book stores) and so may be disinclined to take a chance ordering the book unless it's been requested. Support your local shops and let them know you want a copy by asking them or giving them the Diamond code above. Orders are sent out near the end of August, so don't miss the boat!

No comic shops handy? Head to your nearest books store and supply them with the ISBN number (see ad) and they will hook you up. With a little luck, people requesting the book will spark both outlets to bring in an extra copy or two.

Let your friends know so they don't miss out! Thanks everyone!!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


While complaining about our dogs vet bills and his general condition at 13 years of age my friend Patrick (who's building us a swell loafing deck) came up with this suggestion. The idea turned into the first Mygrain I've drawn in over a year! Shadow's having a sleep over at the vet tonight and I kinda miss his annoying whine and dead lobster breath, at least for tonight.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Back on track

I just finished page 70 of the Angora Napkin book so I'm back on track and even slightly on top of my quota for once! I had a nasty bummed out month back in May but I managed to pick up the slack.

I picked up Fantagraphics excellent collection of E.C. Segar's Thimble Theatre strips entitled: "Popeye - I Yam What I Yam" which I am thoroughly enjoying. It's got me all wound up to get the 4 DVD set of Fleischer's "Popeye the Sailor: 1933-1938, Vol. 1" cartoons.

My friend Dave Cooper has uploaded a nice Flicker set of his painting process you really should check out. I remember visiting his studio in Ottawa and just being floored by the scale of some of these paintings, really inspirational stuff!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Alternative Press Expo

I'd like to be at APE but I've got tickets to Game One of the NBA Playoffs in Toronto and a wedding to be at so it isn't happening this year. Those lucky bunch that are going will notice the slick full page ad announcing the imminent arrival of the Chiaroscuro graphic novel (and a B&W version of the new cover!) in the APE program book.

Cheers all, and Go Raptors!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Angora Napkin: One Year Later

Technically it was one year ago yesterday, but that's largely irrelevant to you now isn't it? Anyway here we are! One year and a day ago I finished page 1 of the long anticipated Angora Napkin graphic novel.

As of today I'm 51 pages into the book. I tell people that and they go "Only 51 pages? Don't beat yourself up about it". Trust me, I don't. 51 pages is one hell of an accomplishment considering I was working full time, freelancing, helping my VERY pregnant wife out, becoming the dad of twin girls and adapting to fatherhood. I honestly don't know how I got ANY pages done let alone 51!

I assessed things at the start of the year and decided to give myself the "reasonable" goal of producing 6 pages a month. That will give me a fat 72 pages by the end of the year and should put me pretty close to the finish line (so far so good). I'm hoping to get this book out for Halloween '08.

Here's the first 7 pages for you to fawn over for the next while. Enjoy!

What (or who) did she hit?!?!? Stay tuned!!!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Am I missing something?

I love Jeff Smith's work. Bone is an incredible achievement. It makes me wonder why I'm not at all digging his Shazam book.

I know I have a chip on my shoulder when it comes to superhero comics. My friend Mike once called me "A Comic Snob", but I was really looking forward to this book and very open to it. Everyone seems to be raving about it, but I'm finding it to be pretty sloppy so far.

It just looks rushed to me. Stiff poses, awkward and ill-proportioned characters... There's some good stuff in there too, but I'm not really being drawn into the story very much to enjoy it.

I have the distinct feeling I should stop right here at issue #2, but I suffer from the almost total inability to stop reading a book or watching a movie I've started, even if I'm bored to tears. Case in point: The Dark Knight Strikes Back.

Frank Miller, you owe me. Why I kept buying and reading that piece of shit is a mystery to me. I have NEVER hated a comic so much in my life and yet I gave that guy my hard earned cash like a frikken zombie. I hope some day to meet him so I can return the books and ask for a refund.

Anywho, this is no where near as wretched as that. I'm just rather passive about it much to my dismay.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Speaking of Superheros....

Like all people who aspire to make comics, I started out by being being a fan. I had boxes full of every kind of comic you can imagine, from Star Wars and Superman to Casper and Richie Rich. They were well read, drawn on and in some cases cut up for the neat Spiderman pictures in 'em.

One day while perusing the spinner rack at Zellers I saw this neat looking comic with a really cool cover. X-men #207, July 1986.
And that slowly brought me into the world of serious comic collecting at the tender age of 13. I started to buy bags and boards and scour back issue bins to have complete collections. I ordered comics through the mail as we didn't have any comic shops on the Island. Every month a fat pack of comics would arrive from The Sorcerers' Stone in St John N.B. full of Cloak & Dagger, Power Pack and Groo comics to name a few.

Like any form of collecting, it became an obsession. In 1991 Marvel comics released the "New" X-men comic, I believe written by Chris Claremont. I was so hooked on the junk that when at the end of the story arc they "kill" Magneto once and for all I could hardly believe it!

I can remember it clearly; I was in 1st year college (Technical Illustration class) excitedly telling my friend Nick about what happened. He (in typical Nick fashion) dismissed the whole thing as rubbish. "They'll bring him back, who cares". I protested; how could they??? It would be impossible, he is so thoroughly dead! But a small glimmer of doubt was lit in my mind now.

Well, Nick was right. It took me until 1996 (10 years!), X-Men #337 to give up the junk. This is the last issue I ever bought or ever will by of that mess.

I have more or less sworn off superhero comics since then. I was so soured by all the Death of Superman/multiple gimmick/glow-in-the-dark/die-cut covers and endless, pointless story lines. I admit to picking up the occasional collected volume of "Powers" or "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" without feeling any remorse, but that was it.

I recall back in '02 Jeff Smith saying he'd be doing a Shazam comic for DC after Bone wrapped up. Interesting to me in that I was really into the whole self publishing thing at the time and here's one of the most successful guys at it going the way of the main stream superhero comics. Well, it's Jeff Smith I thought. If anyone can pull it off it's him.

The Internet is howling the praise of it, so much so that I decided to pick it up and see for myself if it lives up to the hype. (This is the first comic I've picked up in over a year, maybe more).

I've discovered that reading only graphic novels for the last while has made serial books feel very rushed. Too much happens without the time needed to build the characters. It takes all the drama and wonder out of the story when it's a constant BANGBANGBANG on every page. Hit me enough times and I become numb to it all. It's like reading a Roger Ramjet cartoon.

Jeff feels a bit out of his element drawing Shazam. His drawings feel a bit awkward at times and the bright colours (handled very well mind you by Steve Hamaker who is doing the colour Bone books for Scholastic) take some getting use to.

That being said, this isn't your typical "modern" superhero comic. To it's great credit, it's not another gloomy, angst ridden and introspective revenge tale as you can see here:

Any super hero stopping the action to eat a hotdog is a good sign to me! This book has a kind of charm to it that is sorely lacking in almost every comic on the shelf. I imagine the book will flow better collected (as is the case generally), but it was an interesting start none the less.

I don't think this will have me leaping back into the world of superhero comics anytime soon, but it's nice to see a comic for all ages that isn't a nightmare to read and enjoy on a few levels.

Comics are a medium that is doing a piss poor job of doing anything to attract NEW readers, it doesn't take a genius to see how well that bodes for the future. So kudos to Jeff for doing something good for comics and trying to make them fun again.

...Give it a month and DC will try to pull a Dark Knight on Shazam, so enjoy it while you can.

Friday, March 02, 2007

I always suspected as much.

Your results:
You are Superman

Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
The Flash
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Enough chatter, more comics!

Here's a comic I did back when I was working at Spumco in 2003. I sent it off to Shannon Wheeler (Too Much Coffee Man Magazine) a few years back. His response was something like "I thought the punch line was weak". I wrote back and told him the punch line was GOLD, but I guess that didn't go very far in convincing him to put it in his magazine.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bardawill takes one for the team

That rascal Dave Sim is at it again. Chiaroscuro fan and supporter Elizabeth Bardawill took it upon herself to write Dave a letter in hope of swaying his decision to delay writing the foreword to my book until the second volume. She met with little success and as she so eloquently put it, "Dave just tore a strip off my hide" (Re: Blog & Mail #162 February 20, 2007 if you care to read the essay).

First off, thank you Elizabeth. I'm flattered you feel strongly enough about my work to go that extra mile knowing full well the likely outcome of such a letter to Mr. Sim.

I've had a few people ask me why I would even want Dave to write the foreword to my book. That's a good question. Simply put, I respect and admire his work and his dedication to self publishing drove me into this business. His influence (visually) is apparent all throughout Chiaroscuro without (I hope) seeming to come across as a blatant rip off. I can think of no one I'd feel more honoured to have speak on behalf of my book in that sense.

That doesn't mean I tow the line on many of the ideas he puts out there (and there are many). He has a right to his opinions and the freedom to speak his mind in this country and he chooses to do so in a very lengthy and well documented fashion in Cerebus and on his Blog.

I realised a long time ago that getting into a debate with him would be a loosing battle. You will not convince him contrary to his well established beliefs no matter what evidence you present.

But thanks for trying Elizabeth, I appreciate the gesture.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Waif of Persephone!

Independent animation genius Nick Cross has completed his latest opus "The Waif of Persephone"! Go to his blog and order your DVD right this bloody instant. At $13.99 it's a steal!

Nick and I go back a few years and he was good enough to send me an advance copy a few months ago (thanks again Nik!) and let me tell you it's a fantastic cartoon. Nick's work is loose and inventive like nothing you've ever seen and chock full of his usual biting satire. It's another beautiful piece of work from one of the most inspiring and dedicated artist I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Enough! Go buy it now and feel good that you're getting so much for so little!

Saturday, February 10, 2007


For those of you who missed Dave Sims response to my letter requesting a foreword for the Chiaroscuro graphic novel I have reprinted it here. If you've already read this, just scroll down a bit to get too the meaty bits that followed the Blog & Mail posting.

Dear Pariah King:

First off, a long overdue CONGRATULATIONS to you and Gerhard on completing Cerebus! It is, in my opinion, the stand-alone most brilliant work in the medium of comics. Now the sad part is that I have nothing in my subscription bin at the comic shop except Following Cerebus, but at least I have that to get my fix along with the Blog & Mail.

What can I say? It was Cerebus and your Guide to Self-Publishing that helped me decide that making comics was what I wanted to do. So in 2000 I started my comic Chiaroscuro going with the "Learn as You Go" approach. All went well and I actually managed to snag a Xeric [grant] right off the bat! I got Diamond, FM and Cold Cut to distribute it and published 7 issues in total. Not quite the 30-50 issue run I had planned, but life happens. A few years back, I sent you issues #1-4 and got a nice letter back from you saying you enjoyed them but also cautioning me against pulling a "Melmoth" right out of the gate. Wise advice even if I didn't heed it.

I remembered the book right away and that was my first—and most common with a lot of the stuff I get in—criticism: you really do need to do first issues that tell the reader more than the first issue of Melmoth does. I was trying to communicate an infirm old man having just come out of prison so it takes him and Robbie the entire issue just to walk past a few buildings. It's very attractive, very understated and looks like the easy way to do Art as opposed to "just comics" but it really does need the weight of ten years of entertainment behind it before you can rely on even a fraction of your readership going along with you. On a first issue, it just looks as if you're yanking their chain. You can accidentally send out the wrong creative message (in the same way that Frank and Alan thought they were killing the super-hero with Dark Knight and Watchmen) and I have come to realize that I did so with that kind of snail-pacing and I sincerely apologize for what I "did" to the comic-book medium by getting guys thinking in terms of 30-50 issue story arcs and pacing them accordingly rather than just getting a bunch of good individual stand-alone issues under the belts first. Mea Culpa. Trying to do anything about it at this point has about as much chance of success as Frank and Alan issuing a joint press release announcing that it isn't necessary for EVERY super-hero comic to be grim and gritty.

I lived in Ottawa at the time, working in animation. The studio my wife and I worked at went belly-up in 2003 owing us a ton of money and putting us in serious debt. We ended up having to move back home to Prince Edward Island and live out of my wife's grandparent's basement for 4 months.

But I kept on drawing the comic. My goal was to get 10 issues out and make the first collection from that. Times have changed and it would seem many self-publishers are going straight to the graphic novel format. Makes sense: longer shelf life, bigger ticket price and more bang for your buck. So here I am finally with the graphic novel ready to go!

See, and I'm fighting back in the other direction, trying to make my secret project a self-contained comic-book-sized comic book—hopefully not much more than 40 pages and a one-shot. I really think we need individual comic books more than ever. If all the stores have is episode 12 of 20 or 4 of 6 or a full-sized book I think we're missing an on-ramp for the civilians we're supposed to theoretically be attracting. Of course I say that from the other side of 16 full-sized graphic novels knowing, obviously, what the appeal of works of that size is. I just hope I can counterbalance that in 2007 or 2008 or whenever it is that I get this comic book done that I've been working on since 2004 off and on. I worked a good dozen 12-hour days on the book and got a total of two pages done. True, they were backgrounds and I'm not used to doing backgrounds (especially not with a Gillott-290 and a magnifying glass!)

Then life happens again and I find myself the proud pop of two beautiful twin girls (3 months old!). Well, I thought maybe I'd see if I could find a publisher for my book as my time is all but eaten up. So here I am, a small POD run of graphic novels being sent to various publishers. I figure it can't hurt to try, if all else fails I'll just publish it myself. I have enclosed two copies, one for you and one for Gerhard.

Which brings me to the crux of this little note. I'm trying to gather the usual round of quotes and such from industry people for the next edition of the book. I would be very honoured if you would consider writing the forward.

I'm sure you're thinking again, "Man, this guy just keeps making bad decisions". Personally, I don't think so. As a major inspiration to my own work (which is fairly obvious) I would be proud to have your name in my book and I'll defend it to my dying breath!

Of course you're under no obligation to write anything, I can only recall seeing you do this for Strangehaven but I repeat, it would be truly be an honour to me if you would consider it. If you have any thoughts or questions on the idea I can be reached at [phone number deleted].

I wish you all the best and thank you and Gerhard once again for 300 glorious issues of Cerebus.

Well, I appreciate the tribute, Troy—particularly that "stand-alone most brilliant work" comment—but you have to realize that this Pariah King thing is no joke particularly if you're out there shopping for a publisher. See, you have to qualify anything that refers to me or Cerebus with "disturbing" or "troubling" or "challenging" or "controversial" or "thought-provoking" or other liberal euphemisms for clinical insanity that indicate that Cerebus needs to be shunned and, if possible, outlawed or you risk being tarred with the same brush. I mean, you really do. It's okay to say unqualified nice things about Cerebus here because this is really only read by the Yahoos and a handful of other folks who are actually open-minded (or looking for examples of my insanity to cite to others), but go and take a look at any reference to Cerebus anyplace else on the Internet and you'll get the idea. There is only one allowable way to think of Dave Sim and you don't want to associate yourself with that universal perception. These folks don't mess around when they set their sights on you. They will, literally, hound you to your grave. In my case, they're more than welcome to do so because it will only show in sharper relief what sort of people they are as opposed to what sort of people they portray themselves to be both to themselves and to others and Cerebus is already out there in quantities that would be very difficult to eliminate (which isn't the case with Chiaroscuro). You shun Cerebus right into the quarter bin in your store and that just makes it more likely that some kid with more brains than money is going to pick it up and not understand that being in the quarter bin is an insult. He's just going to assess it in his own frames of reference. The classic new Cerebus reader: "I had no idea what was going on, but I was hooked."

All that having been said, I was really, really impressed with what you have done with Chiaroscuro. There was definitely the same slow pace and, yes, you certainly have learned every one of my lettering and pacing tricks (Jeez, I thought the Box Office Poison-era Alex Robinson was the consummate Dave Sim magpie) in spades. But, there's a world of difference between knowing the moves as an intellectual exercise and being able to execute them flawlessly which was the case with your work (and with Alex's Tricked) as I got further and further into your book. I could see the narrative tricks that you were using but the point was no longer, as it had been in the issues #1-4 that you had sent me, the tricks themselves—"hey that works really well"—but rather the trick was doing what it was supposed to be doing: drawing me as the reader further into the story. That's probably the most difficult trick in the world to manage, to turn someone who does this stuff for a living into just another reader and, again, you definitely managed it in spades.

Obviously, it's a long story that you're telling here and the twin baby girls (congratulations, by the way) is not exactly the best harbinger I could imagine of this ever getting done, so I'm kind of at a loss for advice here. I'm almost tempted to suggest that you take the Scott Berwanger approach and just finish the story wherever and whenever you can grab a few minutes to work on it and figure that the goal line might have just been pushed somewhere up ahead where the girls go off to college in 2025 or so (trust me, Troy, it will be here before you know it).

Tell you what: let's give you a fighting chance at life, first. You find a publisher or self-publish volume one without an introduction or with an introduction by someone else and when you're established (say, on your third printing or on volume two) I'll do an introduction for you then if you still really want me to. At that point, given the level of ability you exhibit and the wide success and popularity I expect you'll have, having Dave Sim write an introduction for your book can just be written off as a strange eccentricity on your part instead of career suicide. Deal?

End of Letter

I'm of the opinion that Dave's view of himself in regards to how the world views him may be a slight bit overblown but that doesn't lessen the fact that that is how he perceives himself to be viewed and he takes it very seriously.

Dave's post caught the attention of IDW president Ted Adams. Ted's a long time Cerebus fan and he contacted me to see if I was still seeking a publisher. I had sent a copy of Chiaroscuro to IDW just before Christmas but apparently it was lost in the mail (I wonder how many other books never reached their destinations...). So I sent out another copy.

So let's cut to the chase shall we?

IDW will be publishing a hard cover version of Chiaroscuro in the Fall of 2007! I can't tell you how excited I am to be working with IDW, they've been a real pleasure to deal with. The prospect of a slick HC version going world wide is an unexpected surprise to me I can tell you!

So yesterday I called Dave up again to thank him for his inadvertent help in securing me a publisher and to see if he would now (with the publishers blessing) re-consider writing the foreword to the book. Much to my dismay he's sticking to his guns for fear of making me a target to the feminist who would tear me down for association with him. He did say he'd write the foreword (If I still wanted him to) once the book succeeded without his name attached. Fair enough I say.

Thanks everyone for sticking with me over the last few years! Finally Chiaroscuro has a real shot at reaching a wider audience. If the book does well in hardcover we may well be in negotiations for an ongoing series, so be sure to check back here for updates and come the Fall lets get those comic shops to order tons of books!


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Drinks are on me!

Chiaroscuro Limited Edition

Thanks everyone who ordered the book!

(Those of you who emailed me and are sending out cheques should do so soon, your books are on hold until the end of the month.)

Friday, January 05, 2007

Time is Running Out!


There are only 100 copies in print of this signed and numbered edition!