Greetings Dieselfunkateeers!2017 has been a BANNER YEAR.While the two prior years were all about being visible, this year continued that trend buttressed with a lot of behind the scene work.We began the year capturing footage for The Dieselfunk Show at The Women’s March and Inauguration of Donald Trump.Diametrically opposed activities I assure you.
During that entire period, time was found to work with the writer Brandon Easton on a short story for George Takei’s NEW FRONTIERS, whom we also had the chance to Glogg as well.We would end the summer at Blerd City and Afropunk in NYC.
The fall was spent focusing on the completion of ‘Matty’s Rocket: Book One’which came out in November.It’s 120 pages of hard work, pure heart, and focused joy.Writers, Junot Díaz, Valerie Boyd, Comic Gods John Jennings, Joyce Brabner, and Dawud Anyabwile and more graced us with contributions to the book.This was all made possible by the setup of our own in-house PRINT ON DEMAND operation.
Here is wishing you all the Happiest of Holidays and the brightest of New Years.
Greetings Dieselfunkateers! LIGHTS, CAMERA, REFERENCE! Lighting in film and videogames is essential to storytelling. Meaning it’s a requirement for entry. But in comics, lighting is often a victim of technical limitations and time. Of course, masters like Eisner, Steranko, Gulacy, and Miller, have used cinematic techniques that derive from film. Lighting, what you can see and what you cannot, is all about communication.
Can you imagine Citizen Kane without the cinematography of Greg Toland?
Or more recently, Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Arrival’ would not have worked without Bradford Young’s lensing (Hey, cat’s on Ron Howard’s ‘Solo: A Starwars Story so don’t sleep on em).
This even extends to videogames. Take for instance the cut scenes from the Starwars: OLD REPUBLIC games. The level of detail, and to be frank complexity of story, largely dwarf the actual movies.
But for the monthly comics schedule deep lighting is a difficult task to do. Which is why I have a preference for the more methodical intricacy of Graphic novels. Take the beautiful example of Canales and Guarnido’s ‘Blacksad’.
Comics and graphic novels are all sequential art of course and, oddly enough, it’s where all of the mediums of animation, storyboarding and film meet. In fact, I’ve had film students that have limited drawing skills, who refuse to believe a rough stick figure or crude image can reveal all sorts of dramatic information. In the climax of those lessons, I take their “crude” drawings and add simple coloring overlays to demonstrate that any image is capable of evoking emotion through light. Photoshop MAGIC Baby!
ARTISTS!, Don’t let ANYONE tell you your work has no value or style, regardless of polish or crudeness. The fact is, light can illuminate even the most mundane of drawing.
Furthermore, I cannot state the importance that reference has played in my work as of late. This can be in the form of a photo shoot, images from the internet, or even stills from advertisements and film stills. You see a cool lighting scheme in a photo, steal…err, USE it. Also, consider using newer online tools that are utilized by photographers to bring dramatic narratives to form. I’ll speak on those tools in the future.
I try my best to take advantage of light. YOU should too.
Greetings Dieselfunkateers!I hope your holiday season is off to a bang.Work is still ongoing throughout the holidays in the lab.There’s been some quite fascinating discussion online regarding the state of black comics and how best to market and sell them.All very helpful and useful ideas.In the discussion, it occurred to me that all cartoonists of color could in theory hack the marketing of the upcoming Schomburg Black Comic Book Day and Black Panther Movie to spread awareness about how individual works and the body of work in general.Thusly, I wanted take a moment to formally send out a notice for the following hashtag phrase:
Greetings Dieselfunkateers!We are pushing so very hard to deliver the best of expansive narrative and content.We recently covered the idea of how concept design is utilized in Matty’s Rocket.One way to look at a Design Challenge is applying what can be called a Design ‘Solution.’
This solution has to strike a balance or bridge the chasm between not just conveying informational content, but also the emotional arch of the narrative.One might possibly think that ideas come in a chronological order.Sometimes they do.But sometimes, they absolutely don’t.If anything, ideas and the action of creating ideas, are very much a ‘non-linear’ process.For the average person, ideas come when and where they are ready to come, based almost purely on experience.The DESIGNER, as craftsperson, has to call on ideas at will.Their style, not to mention very often, their livelihood, is dependent upon it.
Thusly, I had to decide, what was it I wanted to convey about Matty’s Rocket? I wanted the audience to take a feeling of nostalgia and sentimentality based in the American and African-American past. But I also wanted to pay homage to the masters of cinematic movie and book posters. It would be an homage to the Struzan style of movie poster.
So I wanted the book to feel like that. Frankly, the sketches came very quickly.
I then moved on to color, which I felt good about compositionally. The decision was made to not have the cover be fully painted. Inked characters would be integrated within a painted environment in line with the graphic novel. I felt the technical aspects were on point.However, even after rendering, something didn’t feel right. The feedback from folks I trust ranged from “its great” to “one aspect of the painting was too dominant over another.”I would spend days doing color correction and re-rendering to see if I could make it work.But still…
It wasn’t until I expressed to my wife that I didn’t feel right about the cover.What could possibly be wrong?She looked at me and said…”It’s too Dark”. That hit me like a ton of bricks in it’s clarity.Despite the technical proficiency of the illustration, it was the wrong design solution I was applying.All of the elements; the dominant klansmen on fire, the horrified family, Matty being overwhelmed. I was selling Matty’s Rocket as HORROR.
MATTY’S ROCKET IS ALL ABOUT HOPE!
I pulled out my iPhone and quickly drew with my thumb in Autodesk Sketchbook.The drawing was super rough. Done in less than a minute. But it provided the crystal clear color and composition.
Once a direction was in place…in MY HEART, everything went very quickly from there.
Greetings Dieselfunkateers! When the Road is long, one has a lot of time to write. I was on a LIRR trip which gave me time to sit….if only for a bit. I know there’s been a lot of tumult going on with the FCC ruling and the Disney/Fox purchase. The FCC action is largely looked down upon by most. Many are happy to see the Disney action. Many are not. However, do not be discouraged. No company or entity can claim all intellectual and creative space, although they may try. Let me explain…
Don’t be sad. Be glad
Instead, look expansively at current events. I’ll explain. The FCC ruling was all about legacy corporate entities trying desperately to turn back the clock. The complete and total disruption of their industries by the internet demands that they turn back the reasonable, yet radical rules that net neutrality put in place. Will they succeed? The truth is, Comcast and their like can’t survive, let alone dominate, in a future where Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and God knows what other chaotic technology comes along. How soon before Uber offers “Movies in a Car”. Or “Take a Car to the Movies” option? Tidal may yet get it together. The old ways can’t compete with that.
Don’t be Sad. Be Glad.
Disney bought Pixar, Lucasfilm, Marvel, and now Fox, to Survive. Certainly, I’ll be amongst the throngs to happily consume the upcoming X-Men VS Avengers movie. But of course I in no way benefit monetarily from this. No doubt many will lose jobs. Particularly in the administrative class. But Disney did what they did because they had to. No different than Netflix buying Millarworld. IP ‘Intellectual Property’ is EVERYTHING. Have no fear young Jacob.
Don’t be Sad. Be Glad.
For the CONTENT CREATOR…BE GLAD.
Surely YouTube won’t shut down and then Casey Neistat, Roberto Blake, Gary Vaynerchuk , and We Are The Russos” will stop making kickass vlogs. No doubt Facebook Watch will continue broadcasting “George Takei Presents”, “Humans Of New York” and “ Dad Jokes”. Just like The Black Tribbles, Black and Blurd, Blerd Girl/Gurl/CityValkyrie Nerds, Afronerds and Tim Ferris’ will keep talking.
Atlanta will Return. She will still have to have it next Season. And Issa will still be brilliantly Insecure. Scifi’ Expanse will continue expanding like AMC will keep Walking. Tyler Perry will keep making a show a week. Plus do you really think HBO is throwing in the towel? Vice, GOT, REALLY?
Watch out for Shondaland on Netflix and OPRAH will still OWN mugs regardless of how much stock she sells. And Yes, PHLO will see the light of day.
And Laverne Cox will still dominate the Trans mainstream. Just like Indya Moore will POSE her way to Stardom. Welcome to Disney dear:-)
CNN, MSNBC, GMA, Today, The Young Turks, Democracy Now, Daily Kos, Reich’s Resistance, and HuffPost will continue to aggregate. Ain’t it Cool, Bleeding Cool, Comic Nerds of Color, Nerds of Color, CBR, They Call Us Bruce, Outhousers Taji Mag, Fabulize, and Comixcast will most definitely report. Even those crazy bastards at Redstate and Breitbart will still tell it however they want to see it.
And YES, The DIESELFUNK SHOW will continue.
Scholastic will still publish. Abrams will still publish, DC will still publish, Image will still publish and C Spike Troutman and Boom and Rosarium, and Fantagraphics, and Ava’s Demon And on and on and on.
Just like Big City, Lion Forge, Milestone 2.0, Kid-Comics and Corn Tortilla Comics will PUBLISH.
And YES, Dieselfunk Studios will PUBLISH.
And BLACK KIRBY will still draw just like James Mason, Micheline Hess ,N Steven Harris, Liz Mayorga, Aaron Diaz, Jeph Jaques, Chuck Collins, Keith Knight , David Brame, Daniel Warren Johnson, Jason Gonzales Jamal Igle, and yes, Stroman and even Barbara Brandon…just wait:-)
And YES. I’ll keep drawing and writing too.
Bendis will continue to write..thank goodness, like Walker, Easton, Garret, Sawyer, Gifted, Puryear/Alexander and Brabner, Hopkinson, Okorafor, Barnes, Elysée, Due, Jeffers, Burham, Peltier, Davis, Crownson, Díaz and Goodreaux.
133art and Peepgame will Print-On-Demand. Just like Dieselfunk.
I won’t even bother with music. They already know the deal when old industries try to stop newer, more dominant industries. Napster, Spotify,and Boston said so.
Too many to name and not enough time…
Think of it like Trump after Obama and now Alabama. That Pendulum done swung. And it’s gonna swang again.
Does a Disney or FCC thingy really mean you’re gonna stop? Is Zuckerberg or Besos or YOU gonna allow this to stop you from producing, or acting, or composing, or dancing, or filming, or writing or, Dare I say it…standing in long lines and VOTING?
Are you ready to walk through snow?
Even through a graveyard, for your Content like I did today?