The Action Hospital has been slowly but surely plugging along. We’re now in the middle of our third issue being released. The wonderful Clay Murrell is doing a bang up job on the illustration. That guy’s a beast. Look at his work. Simply amazing.
While we’re releasing Clay’s Mallory Sloane issue, Robert Negrete, has finished issue four of Action Hospital! Which will see the return of Younger, the vine walker.
Meanwhile I’ve been working on my next Joan issue which will see the debut of a new faculty member at the Action Hospital. One Dr WalksAmongUs. Check out some in progress pages!
The Action Hospital is going strong, ladies and gentlemen.
We’re currently in the middle of our second issue, six pages in to an 18 page story to be precise. In case you forgot, I’m writing and drawing the currently sprawling epic about Boy Detectives, Yakuza, Robot Arms, and super-powered nurses.
After that we have Action Hospital Issue 3 staring Mallory Sloan, Satanic Super-Sergion written by me and drawing by the one and only Clay Murrell.
Mallory is the resident ‘nothing can fix this, fuckit. Send ’em to Mallory Sloan’ doctor. When nothing can be done, they call her. She doesn’t come cheap but she’s worth every penny. When pitching Mallory to Clay I described her as
Clay drew the fuck out of these pages. They’re stunning. He captured the countless eccentricities of Mallory with just a few pen storks.
In issue Three we also have the first black pope, Pope Shotgun the 1st.
Clay really outdid himself on the pages. Just look for yourself!
Action Hospital issue three is going to be off the chain. Satanist magic, a black pope, and super science. What more could you want? Nothing. That’s what. Action Hospital has literally everything you could ever want in a comic book EVER.
Ok, that might be a little extreme.
Younger and Younger
Meanwhile, over in Robert Negrete’s world:
Robert is only a few pages away from finishing INKING issue four. That’s right. INKING. Holy moly, that guy is so good and he’s really learning how to move quickly and effectively. Look at that lay out. Dope, right? Yeah. Dope.
In a distant galaxy…
While Robert and Clay are kicking ass and taking names on their pages, I’m slowly moving through mine. I’m currently writing and drawing issue 5, which will see the return of Albert, Joan, and the cast of characters from the currently being serialized issue two.
My pages look something like this. Lots of weird creatures, dudes in space suits/robot costumes, and tons of panels.
And call outs. Can’t forget how popular the call outs have been. Everybody seems to love those. Which is good! Cause I love drawing them.
Yes, Geordi La Forge and Ben Sisko watch over me while I draw. It’s not creepy. Don’t make this creepy, man. They’re just making sure I don’t miss anything.
Robits, man. SPAAAAACE Robits. I’m all about them.
This dude may or may not make it into the finished version depending on how many pages I plan on drawing.
Dance Until Your Heart Falls Out
In other news, I’m working on some super fun writing projects outside of comics. SOONER OR LATER I’LL BE ABLE TO TALK ABOUT THEM. Gosh. It kills me.
This past weekend I attended a mini film festival at my friend Graham Skipper’s abode. He showed numerous cult horror films. Many of which are deserving of a wider appreciation.
One of the films that Graham chose to show was Phantasm II. Previous to last weekend I was aware of the Phantasm franchise but had never delved too deeply into it. I’m not sure why. They always looked right up my alley, but circumstances never brought us together, I suppose.
You know how it is. You see a DVD box from across a crowded video rental store or a poster J-peg on a legal, or maybe not so legal, streaming site, and you say to yourself, “Self, I’m going to fucking watch that movie. That looks right up my alley.” But inevitable an avalanche of diversions, cult classics, and trips to the local comic book store eat up your time.
Needless to say, after the first few frames of Phantasm II, I was hooked. Phantasm is my new favorite horror franchise. From the atmosphere to the grit of the initial entry to the low budget charm of the later installments, Phantasm is the horror franchise that I’ve been waiting years to discover.
I also had the unique experience of watching the out of order, which made things extra creepy cause I didn’t really know what was happening at times. I consumed the Phantasm movies in this order:
I’m not sure why I didn’t go back and watch the initial entry that sparked the franchise first, before immediately going on to the third film, but I did. I couldn’t help myself. One of the most interesting parts of the Phantasm films are the endings. The films are structured more like old serials. They’re episodes in a television show. You just have to wait a decade in-between installments. It’s both maddening and exhilarating. The ending of part 3 is particularly wonderful.
The face of the franchise is Angus Scrimm aka The Tall Man and he is one of the most interesting performers I’ve seen in a long time. I know I’m about forty years late to the game but he really is delightful in the part of the unnamed inter-dimensional grave thief. There’s an understatedness to his at times campy delivery that I find mesmerizing. I realize that’s a contradiction, but it’s true. He straddles that line very well.
The real person to discuss when waxing romantic about the virtues of Phantasm is writer/director Don Coscarelli. The man’s imagination and storytelling prowess are on display at every turn. It’s quite inspiring.
The Phantasm series is the perfect example of a franchise that is both intellectually stimulating, visually exciting, and, at times, shit your pants scary. It’s the perfect cocktail of fun, scares, gore, and action.
The Phantasm series needs a new installment. It needs a fifth, and probably final, entry. I desperately want to see Reggie, Mike, Jody, and the Tall Man on screen one final time. Phantasm: OblIVion is great, I really love that movie, but it’s not how the franchise should go out. It’s been fifteen years since the last direct to video installment was released. The franchise has a rapid fan base and is in perfect position for a comeback.
I’ve been thinking about horror movies a lot lately. Slashers, in particular. I’m a huge slasher fan. Slasher film serve as a beautiful microcosm for the time they were made in. I would submit to you, that you can learn more about 1970’s suburban entitlement from Halloween than you can from a text book. I’d also offer that Hellraiser has a hell of a lot to say about how people in the 80’s viewed sex. The same can be said for almost any slasher film. When a horror film works, it’s because it’s scary. That seems a trifle self-evident, but it runs deeper than things that go bump in the night. What scares us is a direct conduit for how we’re doing as a society. Horror film are, in a way, a cultural thermometer.
Couch Wall. The ultimate in home defense.
In my most recent round of revisiting/rediscovering/just straight up discovering slasher films I’ve noticed something that hadn’t really appeared to me before. The Survivor Girl. She’s the object of everyone’s attention in these films. Going further along that line of logic, she’s usually the object of a male’s obsession. She’s usually weak and then grows to become strong due to the attention of a male. It’s a strange concept that in a genre so associated with powerful female characters, none of them become truly powerful. Nancy never reaches Freddy’s level. I suppose that’s not precisely a fair statement to make because how would she still be relatable if she was a dream master demi-god. But even so. Survivor Girls are, almost without exception, a fetishized idea. They’re constantly being bombarded and they somehow make it through all these trials and tribulations without any real growth.
Let me be clear, I wouldn’t be saying any of this if Nancy had evolved into a Sarah Connor style character. Or if Laurie Strode had gone on to enroll in the Ellen Ripley School for Performing Ass-beaters. Shit if Sally from Texas Chainsaw had gone back to Leatherface’s house and fucked shit up, I’d have loved that. But that’s not the way American wants its women, I suppose. We want them just tough enough to be a challenge to woo, and then just meek enough to never leave. That’s what the Survivor Girl synecdoche says to me.
I’ve heard so many comic book and horror movie fans laude the Survivor Girl trope as something positive that the Slasher genre has given society. Positive female role model, and all that nonsense. But look at the name. SURVIVOR GIRL. Not Awesome Protagonist Woman or Totally Gonna Take Care Of Myself And Not Be Defined By Someone Else Adult Female. It’s inherently stunting. It’s basically Congrats, You Were The One Plot Gods Decided Not To Rape To Death Girl.
All this has to be taken with a grain of salt, I suppose. Nancy Thompson is one of my favorite fictional characters. I suppose these grievances are levied at franchise filmmaking. I understand needing to have an arc. I’m not an idiot. I get that you start someone off in a place of weakness and then, through the events that they endure, they become a stronger person. I suppose the issue for me is just that. Franchise horror films, particularly slasher films, never allow there female protagonists to progress beyond slightly-above-average-girl. I cannot think of a single Ripely or Sarah Connor style character in the slasher genre. It’s really a shame, too. Because there was so much potential in characters like Nancy or Alice Johnson from Nightmare on Elmstreet 3, 4, and 5. It’s really too bad.
The only way to fix this problem is to create. I know it sounds lame or corny or old hat, but it would seem to be true. In today’s remake/adaptation/recycling film economy, it would seem abundantly clear that the only way to progress, both as a genre and as a society, is to start telling new stories. To acknowledge the trends of the past, embrace them when applicable and buck them when reprehensible. Case and point: Survivor Girls. They need to go. We need something new. Something that mirrors the complexity of the modern day woman and can serve an inspiration to both genders.
Let’s take a moment and congratulate Mr Robert Negrete for doing a wonderful job drawing the first issue of Action Hospital. Without his amazing line-work and emphasis on detail there would be no Younger and no Action Hospital. It’s just that simple. He’s a work horse and a talented guy. I’m luck to get to work with him.
I hop that you’ve enjoyed our story so far, and I hope that the next issue will keep you on the edge of your seat in the same way that the first issue did.
Life is a pretty strange thing. I know that seems fairly obvious but it’s pretty bizarre how things rapidly change, evolve, or otherwise transform in the blink of an eye.
I’ve been working like crazy on movie and comics stuff, as of late. If you’re wondering, Yes, Action Hospital Issue Two is all drawn and currently in the process of being lettered. This one will be a double sized issue coming in at round 18 pages. If you couldn’t tell by the cover, which just went up today, I’m drawing and writing this issue. Robert is hard at work on the third issue, which will feature the return of Younger the Vine Walker. For now we’re going to be following the cast of characters that I’ll be drawing. So, y’know, Boy Detectives. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t deviate away from what you know how to draw.
In progress cover to Issue 2
This past month has been an insane blur. I worked on a horror movie with some of coolest people I’ve ever met. I mean that literally. Previous to working on this film, I had been feeling tired, worn down, and just generally in a funk. Sure, it was hard work, but I had an amazing time working on this flick.
I suppose I should just tell you a little story, which will put this all into perspective. The first day I was on set, the producer of the film walked up to me and asked if I was ok or if I needed anything. This is unheard of. Producers usually don’t give two shits how you’re doing. They’re freaking out about the budget or about some actor who hasn’t shown up or about how they need a blue shirt for the scene because the wall behind the star is green. Something along those lines. So right out of the gate, I knew that this was going to be a fun job. If the producer is nice and calm that means that even when the shit DOES hit the fan everything will be fine.
Additionally, there was something familiar about this producer. I could swear that I knew her from somewhere but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Over the course of the first day, I had a few different opportunities to chat with her and she was one of the kindest and most honest people that I’ve ever met. I spent the entirety of that afternoon racking my brain attempting to deduce where I had previously made her acquaintance.
Towards the end of the first day I was chatting with the head of my department, a lovely girl named Aimee, and the topic of how nice the producer was came up. Abruptly, she asked if I was a horror movie fan, and of course I said I was. She asked if I’d ever seen a film called Sleepaway Camp, to which I scoffed that of course I had. I loved Sleepaway Camp. Aimee, with a little glint in her eye, said that Felissa, the producer of our movie, was the star of Sleepaway Camp. And then it all came rushing back to me. Like that scene where Liam Neeson freaks the fuck out at the carnival in Darkman. There it was. I’d been talking to Angela Baker all day and I hadn’t known about it. My head exploded.
Felissa Rose, mother fucker!
That’s the kind of experience I had. It was so much fun. I got to hang out with Beverly Randolf from Return of the Living Dead, Kim Poirer from the Dawn of the Living Dead remake, and a fine gentleman named Eric Roberts. It was insane. The entire cast was so gracious, so kinda, and completely the opposite of what you’d except. I spent the majority of the shoot desperately attempting to keep my cool.
If you haven’t seen Sleepaway Camp or Return of the Living Dead, do yourself a favor. They’re both wonderful. Dan O’Bannon, the writer of Alien, directed Return of the Living Dead. It’s one of the most influential zombie movies ever made, most people just don’t realize it. You know that age old idea that zombies eat brains? That came from Return of the Living Dead. Go out and watch it, friend.
Beverly Randolf from Return of the Living Dead!
Movies, man. They’re the best. The absolute best.
On the writing front I’m working on two different super sweet movie things that I CANNOT WAIT to talk about. I’m so ecstatic about them I’m bursting with excitement. One of the super top-secret things I’m working on is LITERALLY a dream come true. And that’s all I’ll say about that.
I’ll just leave you with this. I’ve been listening to it on repeat for a good week now. It just keeps getting better every time.
Finding a new sketchbook is a personal war based almost exclusively in fetishistic futility.
I, like most illustrators, have a very specific set of criteria associated with the tools that I utilize in my work. I use a specific type of pen, the Staedtler pigment liner, I use a specific type of paper, and for more expressive areas I use a japanese brush pen. These are the tools that I use. It’s just how it is. These are the instruments that allow me to create in the most effective manner. Illustration is a never ending battle. oh, sure. It’s a simple enough idea. You draw a bunch of pictures on a page. In reality it’s a language. The size of the panel, how much space in between each panel, the number of panels, and the composition within each panel really matter. If you don’t speak it, it shows. Everyone should make comics, but when you’re just learning the language, it shows. That’s why when people from outside of the comics industry come in and create work, more often than not, it’s terrible. Just because film and comics share common narrative elements doesn’t mean that they’re the same thing. Additionally, direct panel for frame narrative adaptations are often so bland and unexciting because of the same principle in movieland. But let’s get back on topic, once an illustrator figures out what the three or four weapons he or she needs to succeed in the Thunderdome that is making comics there’s no time for ‘experimentation’. It’s time to make comics.
A sketch book is essential for making comics. I use my as a journal/ideas folder/character design file/thumbnail registry. For the past five years or so I’ve used a sketchbook that could only be bought at Barnes and Noble. It was make by the American Standard Press company. It was a beautiful construction of paper and glue and leather with sheets so hard and smooth it was like drawing on glass. I’ve been working in these things for a good long while, obviously. And on my last trip to restock can you guess what happened? The company doesn’t make them any longer. This is an artists worst nightmare. The fact that a tool, that was taken for granted, has now been removed from my arsenal is quite vexing.
After a few days of hunting I finally settled on a Moleskine sketchbook, which is the first time I’ve ever used the company’s product for any serious amount of time. So far the book is working fine. The pages are slightly too thin for my tastes. The ink from my pens bleeds through and can be seen on the backside of the paper. This is negligible, though.
The interesting thing about this Moleskine book is that it’s bound at the top, like a journalist’s notebook. It’s both slightly alien and intriguing. It’s forcing me to come at my thought-drawing composition from a different perspective.
Breaking Bad is over. It’s finished. It’s completed. Its long and glorious run is over. I couldn’t be more happy with how everything turned out. Oh, sure. There are minor narrative threads left dangling like Gustavo Fring’s past in Chile and what ultimately happens to the tormented soul that is Jesse Pinkman, but the last half of season five of Breaking Bad is a big ass bottle of ‘Holy Fuck’. Never let it be said that Vince Gilligan is anything less than a master craftsman. His sense of narrative structure is impeccable. The show from top to bottom is a master class in storytelling.
Strangely enough the elements that impressed me the most out of the five seasons worth of material that Gilligan, Cranston, Paul and company generated was the meticulous attention to detail. I’m originally from the southwest. Arizona, specifically. In Arizona meth is a huge problem. I had whole swaths of friends that would dissapear for months at at time, and when they’d turn up again, they’d look ten years older. Meth, man. Meth. I had friends set their lives on fire with meth. Drugs in general run rampant in the southwest. In Arizona there’s really only two things to do to have fun 1) do drugs or 2) get pregnant.
Write What You Know (How Many Teenage Meth Head Friends Do You Have, Vince Gilligan?)
In Breaking Bad the teenagers talk like teenagers, the meth heads talk like meth heads. I know this seems like a pretty self explanatory thing, but it’s really not. There’s nothing worse than having a character who is supposed to be a teenage party monster being written by a forty something white guy who hasn’t been to a party in over two decades. I don’t know if Gilligan and co had ‘youth consultants’ or if they lurked on chatrooms but the speech patterns of the drugged out kids in the show is shockingly accurate.
I relate deeply with both Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. Unfortunately they’re perfect synecdoche for the most undesireable aspects of my personality. Walter White is an overly intellectual chemist who sacrifices everything he stands for in order to help his family. He compromises his morals in order to gain financial independence for his family. Now, I’m not saying I’ve ever been in a position to start a drug empire, but I’ve definitely made poor decisions out of a desire to ‘further a greater goal’. That is to say, while Walter White killed people and sold meth to babies I kept thinking, ‘fuck, that’s me’. I’ve never done anything even remotely as terrible as Walter White but, because of the surrounding ephemeral details, I felt that I could and that didn’t scare me. Which of course scared me. I relate to Jesse Pinkman, not necessarily through my own actions, but through people I’ve known. I knew a girl who took every single oppurtunity to fuck up. Any possible way she could make a situation turn out poorly for herself, she would. Self sabotage through self imposed ignorance. Every time that Jesse attempts to rise above a conflict or get things to workout for himself he fails. That’s just his lot in life. He’s built to fail. I’ve known a few people like that, and it’s the most emotionally taxing thing I’ve ever dealt with. The entire time I knew this person all I wanted to do was help her. I wanted her to succeed. I wanted her to rise above and have a happy ending. But I guess some people are just set up to live out a tragedy, no matter how badly they want a happy ending.
Take Things By The Teeth
Breaking Bad has obviously had a massive cultural impact. It’s on everyone’s lips. It’s the talk of the town. The phrase ‘I am the one who knocks’ is on t-shirts, for christ’s sake. Breaking Bad has done more to hopefully show young people the evils of meth than a thousand ‘Not Even Once’ ads. Let’s hope they’re listening. let’s hope that people aren’t just wrapped up in the glamor of the decent.
Breaking Bad has helped me analyze myself as a person. I went into it expecting to watch a teacher transform from Ms Frizzle to Scarface and I left with a slightly deeper understanding of my own flaws and imperfections. Watching Aaron Paul weep struck a deeply rooted chord with me. I haven’t felt such a kinship with an actor ever. I mean that literally. Over the course of the last season of Breaking Bad Jesse Pinkman is forced to endure unspeakable horrors. By the end of it his face is disfigured, his eyes are swollen from crying for a year straight, and his body is irreparably damaged. I’ve experience pity for a character before. Where you just want to hold the character for a minute and reassure them that everything is going to be ok. But the sublime beauty with Jesse, and my friend, is that ultimately it won’t. There’s nothing anyone can do. They’re just build to fail. Built to be destroyed. Constructed to be deconstructed through their own poor decisions. They’re just not right in the head. I don’t mean that on a chemical imbalance level. I mean their cognitive abilities are warped. They just don’t perceive the same decision making pathways that you and I do. They can’t help it. They just don’t.
Breaking Bad is about so much more than meth. I don’t mean to sell it as just that. It’s about the emotional bonds that are severed when you lie. It’s about selfishness. It’s about meaning well and fucking things up, irreparably. It’s about confronting death. It’s about how money changes everything. It’s about how the road to hell is paved with the best of intentions. It’s about the future that you attempt to sell yourself. It’s about how the battle is lost the minute you start bargaining with yourself.
Robert, and his lovely partner Sabrina, threw an Art Party last night. Which basically consists of a bunch of nerds sitting in a circle, drawing, and not talking to each other. This is how we socialize. Yes, we’re that cool.
Lighting, mother fucker.
During the Art Party, Robert and I worked on Action Hospital pages. To say that we’re gentlemen travelers of the illustrated page might be appropriate.
There are many ways to make comics. Sometimes you just have to make them in a large group of people who are also making comics.
I’m not exactly sure what I’m miming in the photo above but I think it’s proper inking posture. Or it could be that I’m about to show Robert how gravity works.
The pages are progressing at a steady pace. Robert’s really getting into a groove. Look at that Sibling enjoying her bowl of dirt. How awesome is that? The dude is really starting to kick into high gear.
Towards the end of the night our host Sabrina served us veggie and fruit smoothies. To say that making comics, drinking smoothies and then making some more comics is anything less than a perfect saturday night would be an egregious lie.
Also: can we just digress into douche bag Bro-town for a minute? Look at Sarah. How did I pull that shit? hubba hubba, man. I’ll take two with a side of hells yes. Thank you very much.
There’s really no reference in this post’s title. It’s just funny to put an F before Art it makes FART. No points.
Well, we’re rolling along. We’re now two pages deep into Action Hospital. It’s extremely uplifting to see the response from people. I can’t thank everyone who has been reading enough. It’s so gratifying to hear all your kind words. I suppose I should say ‘read’ all your kind words because most of my interactions about the book have been digital. Which is appropriate due to the fact that it’s a web/digital/future comic, right?
I’m so pleased with the response that we’ve got so far and I hope that it will only grow over time.
Robert’s Creature From The Black Lagoon says ‘Thanks everybody!’
I’ll Tap My Man-Thing To Exhaust Your Four Drop Mr Fantastic
The VS System is hands down the greatest CCG (collectable card game) ever created. You can suck my fat web slinger, Magic: The Gathering. VS’s rules provided the most complex tableau of mechanics, the widest variety of customization, and the best gamer experience I’ve ever encountered.
The game was put out by Upper Deck in 2004. It focused on Marvel and DC intellectual property based decks that the consumer could customize to reflect their personal aesthetic. Ultimately, the game became too complex and lost it’s casual fan base players, choosing instead to court a more hardcore market. This decision, coupled with Upper Deck’s poor managerial skills and a failure to continue running a pro circuit, eventually resulted in the game’s demise.
Since it’s death in 2009, Vs has survived thanks to a fervent fan base of internet fans and a select few store who still run hobby leagues.
Some people drink to relax, some people go out dancing, and some just sit at home an stare at a television set. I played VS. It was my weekly reprieve from the hardships of a monotonous routine. It stimulated me intellectually and allowed me to detox from the troubles of the week. VS helped me through some intricately difficult times.
Ever since the game died in 2009, I have missed it dearly. I have constantly craved the stimulation and mental challenges that it provided. I miss the game on a daily basis. It allowed me to interact with people and express myself and my interests in a completely safe way. The language of the game is highly customizable. Most players utilize overtly intricate in-game mechanics to reflect their personalities. I miss this release, terribly.
Yesterday, I received an email from someone that I had talked to maybe twice, inviting me to a VS tournament. A VS TOURNAMENT. This is akin to someone that you knew when you were 9 calling you up and saying, ‘Hey! Remember me? There’s gonna be a pogs tournament on Saturday. You interested?’ Of course I’m interested! Count me in. I’m there. With bells on and a Spider-man Legends Stall deck. Let’s do this, Spider-Friends. Let’s do this.
The Sudden Realization ( That Doesn’t Pertain To Mortality)
Chvrches has been playing in the background of my existence for a good four months. They’ve been a ubiquitous background noise. Mostly due to the fact that my best friend Kevin has had them on a constant loop. They airy female vocals coupled with the exceptionally dark lyrics and the upbeat synth-pop makes for an interesting cocktail. I’m not sure why it took me nearly four months to embrace the scottish trio’s music but I’ve now fallen head over heels for it.
I’ve been writing a web campaign for a company in New York this week and listening the Chvrches on repeat.