Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sketches IV - Charles Burns


One of the very first "alternative" american comics I discovered many, many moons ago, watching the Comic Book Confidential documentary.

Charles Burns work is fascinatingly eerie, mixing the disturbing with the glamourous.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sketches III - Chris Ware



Chris Ware is Jimmy Corrigan. Ok, that might be an exageration... but that's the feeling I got when he did me this sketch.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Sketches II - Seth Fisher


This is by the late great cartoonist Seth Fisher. Out of the handfull of international cartoonists I had the grace of meeting and greeting, he was the kindest and most generous I ever met. Alas, the good die young. R.I.P.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sketches I - Dave Gibbons


Now, this is a really sketchy sketch! It was the first one I ever got from a famous comic book artist, Dave Gibbons. It's Rorschach of the Watchmen.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

TOYS V - Le Fauve










Got this one early this year at the Ângouleme Festival International de la Bande-Dessinée. The little kitty is called Le Fauve.
He's the Festival's mascot/trophy and was designed by the great french cartoonist Lewis Trondheim.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

TOYS IV - Lord of the Rings


While I don't think that Peter Jackson's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings - one of my all-time favorite books - is as good as it could have been (curse you, Peter, for not giving us the scorching of the Shire) I still liked it, in no small way thanks to the visual translations of Alan Lee and John Howe.

My wife (then-girlfriend) got me the first special edition of the Fellowship of the Ring dvd with the Argonath miniature so it was only natural that we ended up collecting the rest of them. Smeagol, which came with "The Two Towers" is my favorite!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

TOYS III - Jasmine


This is a statuette of Jasmine, one of the main characters from John Byrne's Next Men.

Being a huge fan of John Byrne and particularly of his Next Men comic book series, I couldn't let this pass. I didn't get this statue when it came out but I have managed to buy it last year from e-bay. It's part of a limited numbered series (this is 338) and it's a reproduction from a sculpture done by John Byrne himself.

John Byrne's Next Men was a comic book that was originally released back in the early '1990s. It came right about the time the first Comic Book Shops were starting business here in Portugal, so it was one of the very first original american comics I collected and read - until then, the only versions of american comics we had around were translated brazillian anthologies usually sold on kiosks.

This year, IDW publishing has started to re-release the series in big-thick black and white phonebook collections. Check them out at amazon.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

TOYS II - The Bat-Man


Next in the line, the "1st Appearance Batman". This is an action figure which was part of a series supposedly reproducing the original look of several DC characters, as in how they looked when they were first conceived back in late 1930's and early '40s. I've always been a fan of this Batman, back when he was THE BAT-MAN, so I had to get it.

As far as the rest of the characters in this series of action figures, some seemed pretty faithful to the intent of the series, but others seemed to miss the mark.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

TOYS I - Superman


Ever since I was a small kid I always liked...what should I call them? Dolls? Figures? They're not necessarilly "action" figures as I like them just fine even when they don't move. Statues seems a bit pompous and it doesn't emcopass the so-called action (as in articulate)figures, which I like too. Miniatures might be a possible name...

Anyway, even as an adult I still have a fondness for these little toys. So here follows a series of posts with my most prized current possessions.

First of the line is "The Kingdom Come Superman". This was a wedding gift from a couple of great friends (Hi, Ivo and Nelson!) who are just as hopeless comic book geeks as me. It's a beautiful statuette of Alex Ross' design for his version of Superman. As years have gone by I have come to like less and less Mr. Ross' artstyle, but I still have a certain fondness for his visual approach to this character, taking him back to the roots of the strongman Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster originally imagined.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Who's afraid of the Big Bad Byrne?


No secret to anyone who knows me, one of my all-time favorite cartoonists is John Byrne. I grew up with his comics and his influence over my cartooning is still great - probably too much, even.

Now, for all of you who are not in on the current vox pop of mainstream american comics, saying you like the work of John Byrne is about as politically incorrect as it gets - apparently, it kind of has the same effect on current american comic book fandom as saying you like the work of George W. Bush on a convention of the american democratic party. You see, this particular cartoonist has earned the reputation of a greedy old curmudgeon living in an ivory tower. Worse, a very vocal number of comic book fanatics despise his work as "old-school", telling stories of frightening encounters with him on comic book conventions and proclaiming his "old stuff" as better than his current art - something that leaves the John Byrne online personality completely mad.

Apparently, the two major american comic book companies currently see him as a persona non-grata, which, in a way, is reciprocal, as John Byrne himself has become increasingly critical of both Marvel and DC, bitting the hands that once fed him.

Things weren't always like this, though. Back in the eighties, John Byrne was one of the greatest american comic book superstars, writing and drawing both companies' major characters and publicly proclaiming to be a cog in the Marvel comics machine. Now, his comic books no longer sell the huge numbers they once did - which is true of most current comics anyway - and his most recent mainstream series have been cancelled after short runs.

So how does one of the great mainstream american comic book artists got to this point?

In my opinion, John Byrne has suffered from being controversial in his public opinions and from over-exposition (producing some forty pages a month since the late 1970s!) both as an artist and as a "public" figure to an audience that grew up with him and became waaaaay too familiar with his public persona, his art and his opinions, ultimately holding him, his art and his opinions in contempt - other less prolific, less forthcoming cartoonists get away with opinons just as controversial as his, or aren't as criticized for the changes on their art, after all. Quality becomes meaningless in such scenario - no matter how good John Byrne's work might become, or how bad it might get, this particular audience will always find fault in the art and the cartoonist, often confusing him - or his public persona and opinions - with the work.

Do I agree with everything he says? Far from it. People are people and ultimately, I'd say to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain - which is true of most artists anyway.

Do I think his cartoons got worse? C'mon, just look at the beautiful pieces he's been producing as commissions recently - as far as the drawing goes, he's better than ever, I think.

On the other hand, looking at the most recent years, I must be honest and say that I would've prefered to see him doing other projects, like his creator-owned characters, for instances, inking and lettering his own comics, working on other more experimental formats and genres beyond the traditional monthly comics of DC and Marvel... but this is just a matter of opinion really, as I'm sure other readers would rather have him back on the X-Men or the Fantastic Four or being inked by Terry Austin again... but you know what they say about opinions, right?


Still, where others might actually feel glee at this situation, I can't help but feel disappointed at the idea of there no longer being a new regular John Byrne book on the shelves of comic book stores around the world.

Fortunately, this last year, the good folks at IDW publishing started releasing some new comics from John Byrne, like FX - a series created and written by fan-turned-pro Wayne Osborne - and some pretty cool Star Trek stories, written, pencilled and inked by the man himself. There's even talk of him finally returning and concluding his Next Men, one of my personal favorite works of his... which is pretty much what this fan would like to see him doing! So for the foreseeable future it looks like some of us will still have our regular fix of JB's comics and, who knows, his magnum opus might be just around the corner.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ponyo on the cliff by the sea

Yes!

A new Hayao Miyazaki film!

My love for his works comes from my childhood memories of Nippon Animation's World Masterpiece Theater and Future Boy Conan. Mind you that at the time I had no idea who Mr. Miyazaki was. Just as Carl Barks was the anonymous "good duck artist", Hayao Myiazaki was my anonimous "good anime artist". It took me years to find out who this man was and even more for the world beyond the animation niche to finally recognize his enormous talent. Like a fine wine, he has aged well and he's probably doing his best work now.

Long live Hayao Miyazaki!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Post-Scriptum

So that was Cruel Hope. An experiment. The limited pallette was a self-imposed restriction: no blues or blue-mixed colors. This was a world of flesh and blood with only red and yellow as a basis. Not sure if it worked 100% but I hope it gave the comic a different look. I'll probably use a similar approach on another comic to be posted here sometime in the future. Color can be addictive ;-)

Next week: Moebius!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Funky!

We interrupt this programming to bring you the latest science news.

The LHC (Large Hadron Collider) is finally getting turned on today. The largest particle accelerator man ever built might help scientists find the answer to some of nature's biggest mysteries... or it might create a black hole that will swallow up the earth :-P

Anyway, check out the cool rap this nutty science guys made up for a clearer explanation.



We will resume our regular broadcast next Saturday with a new page of Cruel Hope.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

D.I.Y.

Next week I'll be starting to serialize a very short story (four pages) which will mark my first foray into my very own computer colored comics. Most of the stuff I've shown here has been either straight black and white or colored with regular inks before scanning. Cruel Hope will inaugurate a new - for me - approach.

This story began life after reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road, an excellent book that introduced me to the writer responsible for the book behind this year's Academy Award winner No Country for Old Men directed by the Coen Brothers.

Now, before everyone starts saying I'm full of crap, let me assure you that this little comic of mine has no intention of comparing to such gentleman's excellent work, even though I did the best I could - as with everything else I do, for that matter.

This is just a short experiment playing on one of the many horrific elements that permeates Mr. McCarthy's novel. All similarities end there. The only reason I'm mentioning this stuff at all is really just to tell you to go read The Road - trust me, you won't be disapointed.

Now, back to my little comic, the whole raison d'être for this post's title was the graphic approach I brought to it. While I do actually prefer black and white comics both as a reader and as a cartoonist, the presence of colour in comics does bring along an extra storytelling resource that is unavailable in its absence.
To use a comparison, it's like having a soundtrack to your film. Also, most persons just prefer color to black and white - so color usually means a larger audience.

So why have I neglected using this tool for so long? Well, besides my personal preferences, coloring my own comics means time taken away from drawing the actual things. As a result, I've been searching for a coloring partner for as long as I've been drawing, someone who would be willing to colour my stuff under my instructions. Cruel Hope ended up as a comic precisely because of that. I drew it as a sort of try-out for a group of fellow friend artists to colour it. Unfortunately, the experiment didn't go far and the results weren't exactly what either of us wanted. I prefered to go for flat, solid colors in a more traditional sense while my friends leaned toward the modelled effects so prevalent in most of today's comics. Add to this, the simple fact that none of them ever went beyond the first page and... well, I was left with four black and white pages waiting to go somewhere. As I had done them precisely with colour in mind, they just didn't seem finished enough for me to post them here as they were. The solution? "Do It Yourself", hence the title for this post. Will the result be any good? Is D.I.Y. really the correct approach? Well, this is just the start for me, so there is a lot of trial and error involved, so I'm sure it'll take awhile for me to really develop. Still, it is from mistakes that one learns and improves. So, please, be gentle, it's my first time :-)

Before finishing, for now, I would like to take the time to thank a few people in chronological order: my friend António Alves, for giving me "The Road" on my last birthday; my dear wife for suggesting the title for this little tale; and my friends Ivo and Nelson Teixeira, João Tavares, Luís Santos, Carlos Félix, Andreas Rochas and Carina, all of whom, perhaps inadvertently, set me on the path to start colouring my own comics.

So, next week : Cruel Hope Page 1.
See you then!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

White Shadow


Another review of Nitelite Theatre's The Kirby Martin Inquest #1. Many thanks to Marc Burkhardt for taking the time and care to read our comic and write this review.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

last but not least...


This is from an american project: a page written by Cory de la Guardia with beautiful colours by Mickey Clausen. I'm doing the pencils and inks here.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

"sem título"




Second, from a portuguese project: a page with my contribution being strictly the pencil drawings. Story/lay-outs by João Tavares, inks by Vítor Angelo and colors by Carlos Félix.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Vanguard


Okay, first, from my british project: a page from the long-time coming Vanguard . Can't tell you how much iterations this little comic has been through - I suspect we have enough material to do a "making-of" ;-P Hopefully, we're finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with this. Story by Daniel Whiston and editing by Barry Renshaw.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Not dead yet!

Long time no see, I know. Cosmopolis has been on hold for quite some time (too long I know, but it's not dead yet!) but that doesn't mean I haven't been doing comics. Last winter I visited Angouleme for the first time and showed my portfolio to a couple of editors with no consequential results. Still, it was an informing and interesting experience. Basically, at this point I get the impression that my comics are too american for europeans and might be too european for americans. Oh, well...

Anyway, I'll be posting a few samples from the comics I've managed to draw in the meantime soon, so stay tuned!

Oh, and a few new chapters of Cosmopolis too :-)