Tuesday, October 19, 2010

On The Nightstand: DRACULAS

DRACULAS by Blake Crouch, Jack Kilborn, Jeff Strand, and F. Paul Wilson

It's been a while since I've posted about what books I've been reading, primarily because I've been racing deadlines and working on the FADE novel, but also because I've been busy researching digital publishing and the growing digital comic book market in my remaining downtime.

As a writer and as an artist, I find new formats fascinating, and I tend to look at these things less as a threat than as a new way to reach readers who are less likely to go into bookstores or comic shops. I'm already putting together a couple of digital projects I hope to put out next year either through a pre-existing service like Comixology or Graphic.ly, or on my own.

Of course, not everyone is as enthusiastic as me when it comes to this stuff, and there are a whole new set of issues - including illegal downloads - that have cropped up with the new format, but it's hard to ignore the reality that within a few years or a few generations nearly all new books and comics will be published digitally (though I suspect print will never truly vanish, only become even more of a niche). It's simply the nature of technology and society, and the sooner we figure it out and take advantage of the expanded audience and creative possibilities, the better.

Which brings me to Mystery writer J.A. Konrath. He's been at the forefront of authors embracing the new digital publishing options (even signing a deal with Amazon where his books will now be published on the Kindle first, with a print edition following at some point). Konrath has been talking a lot this year about the promise of digital books, the pricing of his eBooks, and even publicly stating his sales figures to back up his claims. I've been following his journey from traditional publishing to digital closely as I began my own research into it, so I was deeply curious to hear about the new book he was putting out, a vampire novel called DRACULAS co-written with F. Paul Wilson, Blake Crouch, and Jeff Strand.

(And in case you're curious, J.A. Konrath wrote the book under his Jack Kilborn pseudonym, which he seems to use for his non-Mystery novels.)

It's exclusive to the Kindle for now, and I'm not sure if or when it will be available in a print format, but it's well worth reading. My short review -- fast, gory, and fun. It's not my usual sort of thing (I'm more into what you might call Quiet Horror than the gory stuff), but I ended up enjoying it a great deal, no doubt thanks to the high level of writing. Konrath and Wilson are both favorites of mine, and Crouch and Strand are both well-regarded by writers I look up to (including Konrath and Wilson, actually), and they clearly hold their own here.

Creatively, the book is a success, and I'll be watching and waiting to see how it performs. Should be an interesting and public test case for eBooks. For my part, having finally started to read eBooks, I've already accumulated a surprisingly large 'to be read' pile, nearly as large as my print edition 'to be read pile'. And they're a lot easier to carry around. Just saying.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sketchbook: Style Experiment

A quick style experiment. I'm trying to re-incorporate some of the looseness of my early work back into my style, as well as play with different ways to use photo-reference. I used an old photo of myself as reference for the shadows on the face. Not sure how I feel about the hair, but I'm pretty happy with the shadows. More experiments tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Coming Soon: DOCTOR WHO #16

DOCTOR WHO #16 hits the shelves next week, wrapping up the 'Final Sacrifice' story-arc, as well as David Tennant's run as the Doctor in IDW's WHO comics. Once again, the story is by Tony Lee, art by myself, colors by Charlie Kirchoff, and yet another amazing cover by Paul Grist.

This issue also marks the end of this series of DOCTOR WHO from IDW. The title relaunches in January with Tony returning as writer, new cover artist (and my former studio-mate) Tommy Lee Edwards, and rotating art teams including Andrew Currie, Richard Piers Raynor, and Mark Buckingham. There will also be some special variant covers from Kelly Yates and one of my new favorite artists, Chris Samnee.

As always, I'd like to thank the team at IDW -- Chris Ryall, Ted Adams, and Denton Tipton -- for giving me a shot at working with my favorite character, and Tony, Paul, and Charlie for their incredible work on the book with me.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

NYCC 2010

Got back from this year's New York Comic Con a few days ago, and I've been too busy writing follow-up emails and sending out samples to unpack, much less blog about the show, but it was a great convention for me. Lots of fans, lots of great creators, and lots of industry announcements.

I'll post some photos later, but I wanted to take this opportunity thank all the fans who stopped by my table in artists alley to say hello and to get something signed, and to everyone who turned up at our DOCTOR WHO signings at the IDW booth. I signed a lot of WHO comics this weekend and got an incredible amount of positive response to my work on the title. I'll be joining a number of talented artists for the next series of IDW's DOCTOR WHO comic when it relaunches in January, and hopefully the new work will be received just as warmly.

On the personal side, I got to meet some of my favorite artists and writers, make a few new friends, and to finally meet some old friends in the business whom I've only spoken to by email or phone. There was also a strong contingent of former CrossGen-ers in attendance, and it was good to catch up with everyone and find out what they were all up to these days.

A big thank you to everyone I met and spoke with, and to the organizers of the show. I had a great time.

And just a reminder for everyone in the Albany area, I'll be attending the upcoming Albany Comic-Con on October 24th. If you're going to be in the neighborhood, stop on by.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Upcoming Appearance: NYCC Update

Currently swamped under preparations for New York Comic Con this weekend, so no new art to show for a little while. But in the meantime, here's an update on my NYCC schedule...

I'll have my own table in Artists Alley this year, table R-14, and I'm happy to announce my friend and fellow WHO artist, Blair Shedd (who drew the "Don't Step on the Grass" storyarc in the DOCTOR WHO Ongoing), will be at the table next door -- R-15 -- with our mutual friend, Ian Struckoff (the mastermind behind the new Black Label line of comics).

There are also two DOCTOR WHO comic book signings at the IDW booth with Tony Lee, myself, and a host of others. The first signing is on Saturday from 1:00 - 2:00, and the second is Sunday from 1:00 - 2:00.

I'll be signing comics and selling artwork at my table all weekend, so please feel free to stop by and say hello.

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Work In Progress: Strange Heroes Samples, Part 6

And here are the pencils for the 5th and final page of the "Strange Heroes" art samples I've been working on this week. Now on to the inks...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Work In Progress: Strange Heroes Samples, Part 5

And here's a look at the final pencils for page 4 of the "Strange Heroes" art samples. I'll post more tomorrow.

Work In Progress: Strange Heroes Samples, Part 4

Here's a sneak peek at the rough pencils for page 4 of the "Strange Heroes" art samples I've been working on. Still a lot of work to do in the final pencil stage, especially with the explosion in the first panel, but as you can see, I have the major shapes and page elements in place. I like to work all of those out before penciling too tight, just to make sure the page is going to come together the way I want.

More samples soon, including the first inked pages, and the pencils for the next - and final - page from this sequence.