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Kick it!

March 2, 2015 at 12:44 pm

KickYourself

Jealous of others? Wish you could take back a simple mistake that has ruined everything? Try this time-honored technique! It works for a variety of situations!

The Light That Burns Twice as Bright…

March 2, 2015 at 12:36 pm

Tyrell

“…burns half as long. And you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy.” Another Blade Runner-inspired sketch. Eldon Tyrell.

All these moments

March 2, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Roy

Was feeling a bit in a Blade Runner state of mind the past few days, so my sketches have gone that way. Roy Batty, contemplating C-Beams glittering off shoulder of Orion.

Ira Glass on Creativity and Perseverence

February 21, 2015 at 9:48 am

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Below, a video, featuring NPR’s Ira Glass on creativity and perseverance and why you (rightly) think your work isn’t as good as it should be. There’s reason you look down on your own work, but there’s also something you can do about it. It comes down to narrowing the difference between your good taste and your skill level. It comes down to practice.

This isn’t some simplistic riff on “Practice makes Perfect” because aside from your well-meaning friends telling you to give yourself a break – that your work is way better than you think it is, telling you to to stop being such a perfectionist like it’s a dirty word – none of us creatives are talking about Perfection. We’re not striving for that. It’s unattainable. Perfection is boring anyway.

We’re not pity-fishing, fishing for compliments, or feeling sorry for ourselves. We’re striving to get our work up to a level where it doesn’t make us cringe anymore.

I had a college professor who used to say everyone had 1000 bad drawings in their hands and your job is to get them out as quickly as possible to get to the good stuff.

Ira’s advice will help you with that:

More Magnificatz!

February 16, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Magz3x

I’m happy to announce that you will now have 50% more Magnificatz in your comic reading diet! New strips starring Sam, Nina and Max will appear three times a week now, instead of just the two.

I could run a Patreon campaign, I suppose (for my non-artist friends who may not know, Patreon is a sort of ongoing fundraising tool frequently used by creatives to try to make a little money for their art). You know, if I get x amount of money per month, then I’ll give you a third comic per week. But it feels like holding the strip ransom in a way, and is yet another thing for me to manage. I’d rather just concentrate on making the best new comics I can.

This Thursday’s comic will bring us to 65 strips, well on the way to my goal of 100. When we get there, we’ll see where we go.

Hope to see you over at Magnificatz.com Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays!

ApocalyptiGirl

February 16, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Andrew MacLean is another one of my current art heroes. If you haven’t yet heard about ApocalyptiGirl, go check it out.

Below, a piece of fan art I’m doing. I will probably color this as soon as I get the time.

Apocolyptigirl01

Barbarian Og

February 16, 2015 at 12:10 pm

OK, so first of all, if you haven’t heard of Matt Smith‘s Barbarian Lord, go aquaint thee. Matt’s art style is sort of a mix of Jeff “Bone” Smith, and Mike “Hellboy” Mignola. Which means it’s as addictive as crack to me. I love everything he draws, and could spend the rest of my career trying to figure out how to do what he does. Also, Matt’s a hell of a nice guy, and even if his Smith-Mignola-Viking-Metal vibe wasn’t enough to win me over.

Here is a piece of fan art I did in a style I like to call “serious comic book artist” mode. I have to say, I don’t care much for it. On my voyage of artistic self-discovery, it may be very late in the game to be discovering the obvious, but there’s something unsatisfactory about it. There’s nothing wrong with it, per se. There’s just not a whole lot right with it. Feels dead to me.

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If you’re one of those people who like to see the inking:

 

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This is a redo, in a style I can best describe as “Steve Ogden’s natural drawing style.” I guess this is how I draw. It’s not Watterson. It’s not Mignola. It’s not Smith, neither Jeff nor Matt. But it’s me. And there’s something to be said for that. You know, write the stories only you would write; draw the pictures only you would draw.

BL3

Again with the inks:

BL3b_sm

So, yeah. Don’t forget to go and say hi to Matt. Tell him Barbarian Og sentcha.

 

MondayMatt

Pamcakes

February 16, 2015 at 11:49 am

HellboyPancakes

Those of you who have paid any attention to me at all over the years have probably come across the fact that I am a huge Mike Mignola fan. For years, that has been expressed by me trying to draw like Mike. I’ve been employed as a commercial artist for decades now, and one of my skills is to match other styles. So I can draw in a style that approximates Mignola. But that’s not the same as drawing like Mike, or being able to comfortably and quickly draw like Mike.

So, then… here’s a Hellboy drawing in my style, not Mike’s. More Pamcakes? No, thanks. I couldn’t eat another bite.

Inking, below, for those of you who like that sort of thing.

HellboyPancakesINKS

My wishes for your 2015

December 31, 2014 at 10:59 pm

2015

It’s that time of year once again when the blogosphere turns into one big Commencement Address, with all us laymen attempting to say inspirational, reflective things as you go about your introspective reflection. We look back on the year gone past as we look forward to the year to come. The occasion is just too rich with emotion and possibility for those of us who love commenting on things not to comment.

So, if you’ll indulge me:

There is a person you’ve been intending to be. This person is a better looking, better organized, probably fitter, maybe wealthier version of you. Yes, the you that you know is already pretty fine as is. But every year, you make resolutions. Oh, you’re going to do better at the following, you’re going to do less of such and so, you’re going to do more of thus and such. I am not here to talk about your wealth, health and fitness. Lord knows there are blogs a-plenty for that.

No, I want to address that last bit. You’re going to do more of thus and such. Particularly if the thus-and-such is something creative you’ve been promising yourself you’re going to work on one day, but One Day never arrives. Oh, you’ve gotten started several times. But you just. Can’t. Seem. To finish.

This is the year, folks. This is the year. If you’ve been waiting for permission, I hereby grant it. Go work on that thing you’ve been promising yourself you’ll work on. It’ll be hard. It’ll be time-consuming. There will be dark times you doubt yourself, doubt your idea, consider the whole thing a waste of time and want to throw it all away.

But don’t do it. Because the difference between a finished project and one that sits unfinished is your resolve. Know going into it that it’s going to be hard, and expect yourself to plunge on ahead. From the other side, this seemingly insurmountable obstacle will be a glorious accomplishment.

If you’re thinking it’s going to take a while, yes, I suppose it will. But forget overnight success. Concentrate on the long haul. When my wife and I were in our twenties, I was a young artist just starting out and my wife was a newly-minted lawyer. A woman in her late forties came to talk to my wife and said, “I want to be a lawyer, but I’m so old, I think it’s too late to start. By the time I finish law school in three years, I’ll be 52!” And my wife, a paragon of wisdom at only 25 or so, said one of the wisest things I think anyone could say in that situation: “In three years, aren’t you going to be 52 anyway?” It really put the situation into perspective.

Whatever it is you’re putting off for fear of how old you’ll be when you’re done – won’t you be that old in that amount of time anyway? Take one road, and you’ll be that old still talking about this great thing you’re going to do one day. Take the other road, and you’ll already have done it.

If you’re thinking the idea has been done before, let me tell you that you’re probably right, and then follow it up with a big ole, “BUT WHO CARES!?” What, you think George Lucas was the first person to use The Hero’s Journey as a framework for his writing when he scribbled out his ideas for Star Wars? How far back in history do you need to go? What hackneyed hero’s journey framework story is early enough to show you that particular story framework has been in use for a very, very long time, yet it is still effective? Take my word for it, it goes back a ways. Better yet, take your own word for it. If you’re talking seriously about writing a story, you’ve already done the research. You know it’s true that there’s Nothing New Under the Sun.

Here’s the thing: the thing that makes your creation worth it is YOU. What do you bring to it?  What twist comes from the way you see the world? What unique light do you shine on the human condition? You’ve been on this planet for a couple decades at least, and probably more if you’re reading this. You want to tell me you’ve picked up nothing of interest in all that time? Come ON.

So long as you’re not shamelessly ripping off another work – and make no mistake, the phrase “Nothing New Under the Sun” can be used as a crutch to justify laziness and non-creative imitation, and you know whether or not you’re doing it – then you owe it to the world to get your thing out there. Add your unique voice to the chorus. Tell the stories that only you can tell, draw the pictures that only you would draw, do that thing that you have been promising yourself and everyone else that one day you will do.

On the cusp of the new year, I wish you happiness, strength, and courage. I wish you discipline. I wish you wisdom to know the serious artistic crises from the trivial (and trust me, they are mostly trivial.) I wish you wealth, and health and love. But most of all, I wish you the joy that comes from Finally Doing That Thing.

2015 is your year. If you’ve been waiting, wait no more. I look forward to hearing about what you do!

The Past, Present and Future of Moon Town

December 26, 2014 at 2:58 pm

OldGN
…or, New Years Resolution, 2015.

Moon Town has gathered a decent group of fans over the years. Yes, I know several of you have become disillusioned waiting for the story to continue, but that doesn’t mean you are any less important to me. You deserve an update. So, here you go:

First, some background. Once upon a time, I worked for a computer game company. We’d been fighting with a game we were developing, and it was obvious to everyone involved that, although we were doing good work and doing exactly what had been expected of us, it wasn’t going well creatively. One day, our boss came in and said, “What if what you thought you were working on wasn’t what you were working on?” and proceeded over the next half hour to lay out what he actually wanted us to be working on instead of the thing he’d had us working on. It involved a creative pivot, a bit of risk, and it required us to throw out a lot of what we’d been working on for years. In the end, we wound up with a better product than what we’d been making, but, boy, we grumbled that day. But the fact of the matter is that our lead creative wasn’t satisfied with what he’d had us spending our time on, and needed to make a change.

I have thought about that a lot when I’ve thought about the past, present and future of Moon Town. Moon Town is a project that is very important to me, but has been through a ton of changes over the past ten years. In 2004, it began life as a series of little animated films that eventually I realized I could never complete. By 2009, it had found life as this online comic you’ve read. I got 60 pages done and realized my story had gone off course, and had to stop. Plus, I had never been satisified with the look and feel of the project. Briefly, I tried doing a version of the comic that was much more serious along the lines of Duncan Jones’ Moon – but ultimately, it was too serious, and creatively, I felt it had failed as well.

OldGN2

After ten years of off-and-on development, and 5 years of off-and-on graphic novel experimentation, I can look back and reflect on what I’ve created, both the positive and the negative. Moon Town won some awards back in 2009 and 2010. It got some recognition and a decent audience. But at the same time, something has always bothered me about the thing. I could never find the right tone. Was this a silly little kids story about octopi on the moon? Or was this a more serious story about corporate greed and the value of the Little Guy? Nope. It was trying to be both, like a mainstream animated kid’s film that has all the edges shaved off of it to make it Family Friendly, but still wants teens and twenty-somethings to think it’s cool so they’ll buy vinyl figurines of the characters and put all over their monitors and shelves at work. That is a tricky balance that takes teams of people to get it right. I am not a team. I don’t have a team. I’m just me, trying to figure this thing out. I’m trying to develop something that will appeal to me, and hopefully, that means that it will appeal to others as well. But what exactly do I want it to look like?

There was a time I wanted Moon Town to look like this:

RoverCassieShips

I’ve always loved those drawings. They would be perfectly at home in a kid’s illustrated book. They are fun, simple, and quick for me to draw, but ultimately, I think they are impossible to take seriously. Cassie01If I want to tell a story with some meat on its bones, how can I expect the audience to buy into it? It’s a problem. It is, in fact, the problem that has made me stop working on Moon Town again and again, and it’s why I’ve left the story on that cliffhanger for the past year.

As to that, I’ve had fans ask aloud whether this is a dead strip. If your definition of a dead strip is one that hasn’t updated in a year, then I guess you consider Moon Town dead and I’m not going to try to argue with you. But as the guy creating it, I do not consider it dead. I intend to return to it, but I leave you to figure out whether you want to wait for it.

So, it comes back to that initial thought: what if this thing I was working on wasn’t what I thought I was working on? What if it is a bigger story, a stranger story? What if it had some of its edges left on? What if I put my shoulder into the art and tried to make something not just appealing, but beautiful? I think that’s what I want to do, what I need to do in order to continue. The drawings during the ending credits of Big Hero 6 are particularly appealing (see below), and I am now thinking that flavor is just about right for Moon Town. It’s fun, it’s appealing. Sure, it takes longer for me to draw than something super simple, but the flavor, like this new drawing of Cassie over there, above left, is something I am interested to explore.

Some of you will love this idea. You’ll love the thought that I’ll return to telling this story that engrossed you. But people hate change, so there will be a lot of you who hate this idea. Just like when my boss outlined how we were throwing things out and restarting our game development, there will be grumbling. Most of you will be indifferent, and a good amount of you will just nod and say, “Yeah, yeah… wake me when you actually draw something.” All those reactions are valid. I deserve every bit of your cynicism, but I’ll take every bit of your encouragement because this will be a long, hard road. We’ll see if something stops me again. If so, I suspect it will stop me for good.

BigHero6_02

A couple of things for certain, though: the look and feel must change, and the story will not be the same one I’ve been beating to death over the past 10 years.  It’ll have the same characters, same environments, and the bones of the story – Simon and Cassie fighting for their lives against a heartless bureacracy – but it will be stranger. Bigger. More Guardians of the Galaxy than The Dark Knight Rises or Duncan Jones’ Moon, but also more Big Hero 6 than Zathura. Tone matters so much, and I’m only now figuring it out.

I will return to this in 2015 and see where it goes.

There’s your update. Happy New Year!

-Og