Monday, June 17, 2013

Lil Update

You've fallen behind on this blog thing.  You read about how you have to have a blog, but you've also read how blogs are now no longer read.  Your problem is you're spreading yourself too thin.  Your rehearsing for another Nemion show, your trying to draw the next Droid Soldiers installment, your trying to keep in touch with people which is probably what you're worst at.

You wish you could just produce your work and have that generate enough income that the necessity of networking would become moot.  But in order to do that you have create something of such a caliber; you have to create something that strikes a chord with the general mood of a large number of individuals; and you have yet to do either.

It's bed time.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

You've done you're first press release. Congradulations.

You think everybody who comes across this blog should read it here.

In the last two months you've put out two music videos, and one installment of Droid Soldiers.  You're working on the next installment.  You really need to register for Staple!, but money is very tight right now and you don't know if you'll have it in time to get a table.

Nemion is on the bill for Texas Industrial Fest this year, so you're going to have to start rehearsing again here soon.  Which means getting the studio set up for such, as it's been set up for the above mentioned video shoots. 

The GF is outside enjoying a cigarette.  You wish she would quit.

Anyway, you're working on the next installment of DS while researching how to distribute your press release.  You're contemplating calling the Austin division of the Associated Press, since they only take news tips by phone.  You need to contact the Chronicle, the Statesman, and any other local org.  This is how you let people know about your shit.  It's a dice roll whether or not they pay any attention to you, but it's better than no chance at all if you don't try and contact them.  You used to find these kind of things repulsive, but you've gotten more practical of late and accepted that this is how things get done. 

The GF more than made up for the cigarette.

Back to drawing...or contacting news orgs.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Planetoid Critique

Picked up the second issue of Planetoid this afternoon so today I feel like breaking from my usual 'second-person' writing structure to do a review of the series thus far.

Planetoid is set in the distant future when human corporate imperialism has expanded through out the stars.  The central character is Silas, former soldier turned smuggler who crash lands onto a dead factory planet populated by various tribes of humans struggling to survive amongst giant sadistic robots controlled by a central A.I..  Armed with a survival kit, a hyper-advanced PDA, and a pistol that does super-mega damage to anything he fires it at, Silas has to do whatever he can to survive and hopefully escape the Planetoid.

I have to say I'm fond of this series.  Thus far, me being a fan of industrial-horror-sci-fi like the Terminator and Aliens franchises and the movie Pitch Black, author/artist Ken Garing has done a fair job of keeping those parts of me appeased.  The line art is nice and gritty and is complemented by a rusty-metallic color palette, clearly defining Planetoid's visual language for me.  Doing all the writing, art, and lettering himself, he's sure not to over-render on the inks, instead using color to create the illusion of detail, but still conveying a satisfying amount of expressiveness in his characters ( something I usually require of any cartoonist I read ).  I'm curious to know if he does his line art traditionally with ink on paper or if he does everything digitally as he does the colors, letters and other effects.

The pacing is what I want from a comic like this.  The dialogue is usually only where necessary, with good chunks of the story being told with pure visuals to good effect. However there are places in both these first two issues where the exposition gets a bit heavy handed for my tastes.  In the first issue Silas goes through his "inventory" with his PDA.  Garing does this by illustrating each item with the PDA character naming them respectively.  It just felt out of place for me - like a video game ( though I can see how others might dig it ).  Later when the first human Silas meets tells him the Planetoid's history some of Garing's word/sentencing choices gave the exposition an unnatural feel.  The next issue this unnatural exposition felt worse with the second human Silas meets as she tells him her past.  I guess to me it just felt like he was trying to spoon feed me the info, which I don't care for in story telling unless it's done in a pretty specific and non-cliche way, and he was not hitting the mark for me there.

That leads me to my other major criticism: the second human Silas actually meets ( as opposed to just encounters ) is a slim, attractive female red-head.  It's really just a personal gripe, and I'm kind of torn too, as I have issues with the entertainment industry's standard of every major female character needing to be a hot chic - it's just not that believable for me - and especially now that every time I go into the comic book store over a third of the books feature a hot female red-head on the cover.  But I understand the appeal, especially for a comic book character, and particular in this book where red really stands out amongst the bulk of the appropriately drab color palette - it makes her more interesting and unique ( in the purview of Planetoid, in the comic book industry she's one of dozens of red-headed female leads ).

However, I do like the way Garing illustrates Onica ( the aforementioned red-head ).  She's a survivor living off of alien lizard meat in a harsh environment, so she's slim with taught muscles the way I imagine someone of her body type would be in those circumstances, ( that and she doesn't prance around in high-heeled boots like some fantasy super-model ).

Each issue thus far has been the standard 32-page magazine that most comics come as, however, unlike most monthly titles, these 32 pages are made up entirely of story and art, which is a lot considering that the cover price is still $2.99 when so many other books in the industry seem to be feeling the effects of central-bank induced monetary inflation and increasing their prices accordingly from $3.50 to $3.99 an issue.  I suppose it helps that the production of this comic is a one-man operation, but being that it's a color comic ( and more expensive to print, let alone time consuming to produce ) it's pretty nice of Ken Garing to pass on the savings to the reader. 

With all the pages filled up with story and art, there isn't any space for the artist's comments or letters from the readers ( there's some space on the inside cover but I suppose Garing and the Image folks would rather leave that for other things ), so it isn't apparent whether or not this is an ongoing series or a limited one.  If it's a limited series, I can see how Garing will be able to keep up with a 32 page monthly production schedule, as he probably has everything done and ready to go.  The Image website has preview summaries of the first four issues listed, with the fourth one giving no real indication whether or not it's the final chapter. 

I honestly hope it is ongoing, as it's so far an overall cool series and I have yet to get tired of the "lone stranger in a strange land" storyline, but I'll be surprised and uber impressed if Garing can keep it up at 32 pages a month, though understanding if it drops down to the standard 22-pages we see in most modern monthlies.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It's been a while since you last blogged.  People say you should blog everyday for promotional purposes, and you get that, but you rarely have the time nor the inclination. Really you do this when you need the outlet, which is not exactly helpful in your career. 

Last night was the second Nemion show of the year, and first in Austin for 2012.  It was at Headhunters and you felt good throughout the entire show, but ironically afterwards you found out that the first three songs sounded like shit.  You knew you fucked up "Comfort" ( some how the piano patch changed mid-song into something completely inappropriate ) and some on "Flesheater", but you didn't realize at the time they were that bad. A lot of it was technical with the drum mix volume disrupting things, but you apparently sounded rushed as well.   The crowd was good over all, better than most, and there were several people who responded positively to the performance, but you still haven't really hit on what needs to be hit on to inspire people to support you materially.   The exception possibly being with the song "Puppets" - that song always has a strong response, but it's not even on the album Nemion just released.  Why is this you wonder.  What makes this track more interesting than the others? For one it's simpler. It's basically one part played in different ways throughout the song. Simpler songs are easier to get into, especially when they're unfamiliar to the listener.

Simplicity.  It's something you purposefully avoided when writing most of the songs on Flesheater.  It's only recently that you've started exploring minimalism in your arrangements.  Perhaps simplifying your stage rig further is in order.  You'd have to rewrite a lot of live versions of your songs, but the current level of complexity contributes to a lot of fuckups and sound issues, and it could free you up to enhance your performances.  Not to mention it might be easier on your back - maybe. But then there's so much sonically that you would not be able to do on stage.

The other bands of the night, Buzz n Bangs, Death Ray, and Arrowstrike kept their shit so simple.  Guitar/Drums, Guitar/Guitar/Drum Sequence, Guitar/Drums respectively.  And they were totally free to put on some badass performances.  Something else of note is the stage presence that a lot of them had. They're personalities were forceful and energetic.  You have yet to really reach that level of comfort with yourself.

Then there's the ever present question of earning substantive income doing this sort of thing.....

You're running out of juice for this post, but you ought to talk a bit about Enrod The Clockman before you bring it to a close.  You made your update schedule this past Sunday, but not with the next installment of the comic - for which you fell dramatically behind because of your recent move as well as going to a politcal convention and maybe some other things.  So instead you just posted some sketches and concept art as filler to share with your readers.

You're getting impatient again.  Impatient with growth of the comic.  You've put a lot of money into the album release so you're not willing to buy any advertising to promote the comic right now, so that's slowing it down, but you're also discouraged by Facebook's change in policies, especially when you feel like they do such a shitty job explaining to you the changes.  Needless to say, if you want people to see your page's posts on their walls, you have to pay FB extra to make sure they do.  The price of going public and they want their advertisers to pay for it.

You're thinking that you want to eventually try the conventional model for distributing your comic.  You're planning an ongoing series ( which you had been doing since the beginning ) and you're thinking that once you get the trilogy completed you'll put the website on temporary hiatus and see about getting the necessary first 3 issues in the can before you solicit a publisher.  At you're current rate that's about a year and half of work.  We'll see.  You have to remind yourself that you still need to put all you can into promoting Nemion and Flesheater, as you've only scratched the surface.  You need to continue to improve on syncing up Nemion and the Clockman so that they cross-market each other.

You should look into Anime cons again.  You're not going to any this year.  Artist alley tables have been selling out before you even think to register for them.  But next year, you have to try and make it down to Houston, specifically because you owe somebody down there a drawing.

That's all for now.   Go organize your recording studio and do some drawing.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Broken Stuff and Getting Out

You just finished penciling for the next installment of Enrod The Clockman.  You are cutting it close for time, having eaten up so much of it finishing up the debut Nemion album.  You need to call the city to confirm Jury duty scheduling....

And fortunately, according to the machine, they've already made their selection so you don't have to go.  You do still need to make a trip back to your own apartment for stuff - namely ink and pens, but you also need to go to the Post Office to mail off your busted smart phone.

That was a bit of an adventure last week.  You car engine suddenly stopped running in the middle of an intersection and a co-worker had to help you push it into a nearby parking lot.  While you were doing that your phone fell from your belt and into the street without you realizing it.  Your co-worker saw it but wasn't able to get to it as you were pushing up an incline.  After you got the car parked, he ran back to grab it and brought back smashed from having been run over by somebody's vehicle.  One thing after another.  It's days like that that make you believe there is a God and he really doesn't like you.

You went to the Austin half of the salvaged Terrorbyte festival Saturday night.  That was a much needed excursion, as you hadn't gone out in a long time and you've been getting somewhat depressed lately.  

That last sentence warrants a bit of an explanation.  You're getting impatient.  It seems you're working harder and harder to make something cool, but you don't feel what you've created, and are still creating, are getting validated.  People compliment them, but very few are inspired enough to support it tangibly.  You know this is you're fault.  You know that if you want to attain your desired level of tangible support, you are responsible for creating something that will inspire the necessary number of people to give it to you, and evidently you have yet to do so.

There are a lot here in Austin that are dealing with the same struggle, a lot that you are well acquainted with.  As critical as you are, you see the flaws in their work, in their strategies, yet so many are further ahead than you are with your social-networking incompetence, and what's worse you find yourself agonizing over all the flaws in your own work.  That lack of tangible support validates your perception of those flaws.

On the upside, last week you got several positive and encouraging emails from fans of Nemion.  You wished people would write in like that in response to Enrod The Clockman.  On the other hand, you find yourself getting somewhat addicted to the attention of people writing in to compliment you, which leads to depressing disappointment when the next day you don't get any emails at all.  

You need to not be so attached.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

It's can't-get-any-sleep-time!

You need to be in bed as you have obligations at 7am, but your sleep schedule is so jacked up that you can't sleep right now, so your up and making a long overdue update on your blog.

You're behind on ETC.  You still have three pages of digital work to do, as well as the digital part of the lettering for all 8 pages and the two "news" pages on top of that.  Then you have to update the website files.  All by Thursday.  Fortunately, you have vacation time from the dayjob, so you should be able to get that all done on time.  But it's frustrating to have lost the two week lead time you had with previous updates.  But there is a reason for that. 

You've also been working on the mixes for the debut Nemion album, which is what you spent most of your waking time today doing.  Originally you'd planned to rehearse with T-Bone, but he ended up getting booked up to work security for SxSW.

SxSW.  You can't help but wish you were a part of that somehow.  At least on the inside so that you can promote your own work. It helps to face the reality that you are simply not ready for it.  You need to have the album completed.  You need to have a couple tours under your belt.  You need a fanbase.  The last you are growing to some extent thanks to

While you ate dinner this evening you watched a BBC documentary online about Mobius:

In Search of Moebius - Jean Giraud clip1/3 by foivosloxias

Just about every sci-fi/cyberpunk visual that ever inspired you was either a part of, or derived from, that man's work.  A lot of times without you even being conscious of the connection. You have a copy of Dark Horse Presents somewhere that you picked up years ago that had a very well written and well illustrated story-installment in it that you like a lot that was by Moebius.  Austin Books carries the hardcover of the completed work and you want to get it someday. You recall when seeing Fifth Element in the theatre for the first time, you were actually kind of disappointed by what you then considered to be "cliche" design elements, not realizing that they were done by the same guy who had done all the stuff you thought it was ripping off. 

Still not sleepy.  Maybe you should get an apple out of the fridge and munch on that.

Last night you went to a friend's birthday party.  It was a good one.  Good because you were surrounded by people that liked to discuss things that you find interesting.  And good because you all hold similar, or at least relateable, world views, which is a rarity. 

You have all kinds of ideas in your head.  Bouncing and zipping around.  You need to make a poster for Droid Soldiers to post around town advertising that copies are at Austin Books.  You wonder if doing a traditional serial comic of Enrod The Clockman would be worth the expense of printing, as it's something you want to do in the future.  You need to fix so that people can more easily sign up for the mailing list.  You need to create character profiles for the website.  You need to once again totally revamp the Nemion website and move it onto the EnrodX server.  You need to put a photo gallery up on the website instead of using Facebook all the damn time. You need to earn some money.

On the upside, you got your ancient car to pass inspection.  You'd been tweaking out different things on it all last week trying to get it's exhaust output clean enough to pass.  Part of why you haven't been updating the blog since Staple!. 

Oh damn!  You totally forgot! You got to meet Kevin Eastman, one of the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!  He was the special guest at Staple! and you got to see him speak at his panel, which inspired you to buy the new hardcover collection of the first 7 issues of the original series that he and Peter Laird wrote and drew and have him sign it.  Seeing him speak totally reminded you of how much of a fan you were of that cartoon and the characters overall as a kid, and how much they impacted you and your work.   It seems you'd been actively trying to distance yourself from them in order to keep your work from being seen as similar, which is why you had all but forgotten about what they were to you.  You really geeked out when you got to meet and shake Kevin Eastman's hand as he signed your fresh copy of the hardcover collection.  You almost wanted to cry.  He was gracious enough to receive a copy  of both Tales From Planet Aeruen and Droid Soldiers: Chapter One.  You downed your artwork in TFPA, which was stupid, but you hope he has the time and energy at some point to actually read and get something out of them anyway.  You hope. 

You have a headache.  Goto: Place.Bed;

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Today you tried to post a reply to this Newsarama blogpost:  but it didn't appear right away, so either it was too long, or it just hasn't loaded yet.  Either way, you're reposting it all here:

The creator-owned revolution back in the early nineties had a pretty strong effect on me.  I was about 12 or 13 when I bought Spawn #1 on impulse from the stack of fresh copies sitting by the register as I was purchasing whatever it was I was collecting at the time ( I think I was into the Midnight Sons at that time ).  Being out of touch with the industry, I was completely unaware that Image was being built until I read that first issue of Spawn and found out my then favorite Spider-man artist was the man responsible for it.  I think that was when I became aware of the difference between creator-owned and work-for-hire in comic books and the divide that seemed to exist between the two.

But, it was Spawn #10 that really made an impact on my creative world-view.  Written by Dave Sim and featuring a guest appearance of his character Cerebus The Aardvark, it introduced me to both.  The whole thing put my adolescent brain through a ringer as I tried to put the characteristically Dave Sim metaphor together with the continuity of the series.  In spite of that, the last page struck a particular chord in me: Spawn is owned by Todd; Cerebus is owned by Dave - forever.

I think any fantasies I had about drawing comics for Marvel ( except for Batman, I wasn't into DC back then ) pretty much evaporated, and the fantasies of creating my characters and telling my own stories dominated.  Like a lot of fanboys I'd already been doing it anyway, but this "revolution" that I could feel gave it a new meaning.  Ever since then I've had little interest in either the DCU or the MU ( though I've enjoyed most of the cinematic versions ).  In almost twenty years I've only bought Wolverine: Origin, Civil War and the Prelude collected, two Iron Man hardcovers, and the Live Wires mini series ( I like robots ).

Having said that, being a self-publishing indie-creator for the past few years now, and also having done a lot of commissions for people, I have come around to understanding the work-for-hire point of view.  When I'm trying to make some extra money, I'm there to provide value for whoever is willing to pay me for it.  If they're hiring me to design a character that they are going to own the "rights" to, I know well enough that once the work is done and the check has cleared I'm going to walk away from it ( and gladly so since maintaining a character is a lot of work ). I already have my own characters and my own world, and nobody writes or draws them but me ( though I'd be flattered if any indie artist/writer decided to make their own versions ).

That's not to say that I agree with the heavy handed rights enforcement I've been seeing from Disney/Marvel, but in a world where Intellectual Property and corporations are the norm ( both concepts I have little value in, seeing them create more conflict than benefit in society - personally, if we're going to have an IP system, I'd rather all creations go into the public domain once all the original creators are dead - at the latest ), a deal is still a deal.  Sure I find it saddening to see where some of these older creators are ending up, but risk is a part of life, and if I get the short end of the stick in a deal that I made, I have no expectations from Darth Vader that he's going to alter the deal in my favor.  It's my responsibility to keep my financial affairs in order so that I don't end up in the gutter like Edgar Allen Poe.

However, considering that the Big Two manage to sell millions of copies a month, with most top-selling indies not even coming close ( The Walking Dead excepted ), the concept of a Creator Owned Day is something I see value in as a way to help bring more attention to alternative works and creators that are out there. Personally, asside from the movies, I find the MU and the DCU mostly boring except as a source of occasional nostalgia.

Now, to those who are putting their money where their mouth is by providing financial help for those older creators they value, I commend you.  If we don't like the way giant corporations are treating past contributors to their fiefdoms, we should stop giving them our money and give it to those we feel deserve it.
Happy #CreatorOwnedDay!

- Jenner Carnelian