@wiscon37 until WisSched I never had an app that so perfectly fit my needs. I am SO excited for my first con!
— Olivia(@osailor) May 22, 2013
I drove for eleven hours yesterday (including through some construction-site nightmares in Illinois — Hey, Illinois: your tolls are out of control. You expect me to pay those price to drive such terrible roads?) and finally arrived in Madison, WI, where I’m now hobnobbing with some of the most awesome people on the planet!
Here’s the thing: People fucking despise trans women. Often the nicest thing they can thing of to say to trans woman is “gosh, you are so little like a trans woman!” Being trans is something to avoid, to exclude, to escape, at worst to nobly bare up under.
But I’m done with it. You can be trans or cis. You can be super femme, you can be ultra butch. You can be straight or queer. You can have people saying you’re a transcendent beauty who just stepped off a Renaissance canvas, you can have people saying you’re a stomach turning monster. You can be a light in the world who every person you meet loves and devotes themselves to, you can be an awkward storm cloud who drives everyone away.
Last night, was another Pitch Night. Each of the writers for the Holmes, Inc. class had to come with three pitches for a story. After we presented the three ideas, Ty would typically eliminate one of the three (but not in all cases) and then the class would vote on which of the remaining two pitches they liked better. As the night progressed, Keiren was also keeping a running tally of which characters were being represented to ensure the book had sufficient balance and coverage of the principal cast.
It was interesting to see the different styles that the creators brought to the table. Some people wanted big, bold stories with giant monsters and/or larger-than-life villains. Others wanted time travel, or alternate dimensions. Some stories were leaping off from stuff in a previous book (Book 3, in particular, ended with a cliff hanger). I can’t think of a single story that was pitched solely as a mystery. Partially, I think, the story-pitching session brought out people’s love of playing with comic book tropes.
Another thing that interested me was the way past classes had such a presence in the room. People in the room were fluent with a rich backstory of the universe that had come out through past iterations of this course: the history of the evil Chaos family, and the significance of the ARTI suits and so forth. I think I’m one of only a couple of people for whom this is the first time taking this class, so I was coming at this a bit new.
I was also the last one to pitch, so by the time I was pitching my stories, we’d already run the gamut of monsters and time travel. I’m sure that my ideas seemed banal in comparison.
I tried my hand, this weekend, on a particular technique for digital inking using Illustrator. I started with a pencil sketch by Jack Kirby (published in one of the Jack Kirby reader books).
I scanned the image and popped it into Illustrator, then saturated it with blue, to make it easier to differentiate the pencils from the inks. I downloaded a specific Illustrator template from Cartoon SNAP, and tried out their inking brushes. Here’s an image in progress:
Comics classes are keeping me on my toes, these days. I finished up my “Drawing the Human Figure From Your Head” class on Monday (excellent, excellent class, by the way… I’ve taken both life drawing and constructive drawing during my cartooning program, and this class really clicked in a way that the other classes did not). Both this class, and the one before it (“Heads, Hands and Faces”) went at a bit of a breakneck pace — my head was full by the end of each night.
Last night, I started the intense workshop class, “Holmes, Inc.” There are something like 15 of us, and the end result of the class is gonna be an anthology of stories involving the “Holmes, Inc.” agency — the descendants of Sherlock, Mycroft and Dr. Watson. Last night, Ty also suggested that they’re a bit like the S.H.I.E.L.D. of their universe, too, which made me go, ah, yes, of course! This will be the fourth issue of Holmes, Inc. — each of the other three is available for free (as in beer, not speech on Drive Through Comics. There is a lot of variation in style and experience in the various stories, but they’re fun to read, running the gamut from egotistical displays of deduction to monster-fighting to moral quandaries.
My latest quest is to figure out digital inking. I really like working with india ink, and I like the look of a well-inked piece. Part of my problem is that I’ve reached a certain skill level with pen and ink, and I’m resisting having to relearn: I want my skill with digital inking to be immediate!
There seems to be two main schools of digital inking: the brush school and the pen school. Here’s a pen example:
And here’s a brush example:
I’ve mentioned that I’m a fan of Michael Cho’s work — I like the simple, retro-comic-y style he uses. He recently took a stab at drawing Ursula K. Le Guin, which was interesting to see. I’m not sure that it’s the best likeness that I’ve seen him do, but I do like how he shows off his process.
I’m playing with my Red Exodus cover today — I’d like to finish a good first version of it. Two things are tricksy. First, getting a certain amount of smoothness of line has taken practice. Oh well; we learn by doing.
The second thing is that I needed to do a bit of research about Soviet military uniforms, which has been harder than I wanted. Even though my story takes place in an alternate-history in which the Soviet Union is still around in 2013, I wanted some amount of accuracy about Anatoly’s uniform. What does an Army captain’s uniform look like, precisely? What insignia indicates “officer” and “captain”? I’m not one of those people who normally pays attention to military uniforms (unless we’re talking about the gold braids on the Star Trek uniforms!) and I’m sure that there’s lingo that would make this search easier; I just don’t know any of that lingo.