From Pulpgrind to Coilstar

7 03 2009

I decided that the name “Pulpgrinder Books” sounds silly, so after a lenghty brainstorming session with good friends of mine (which mostly consisted of one of them shooting down one of my dumb ideas after another), I came up with Coilstar Press.

Meanwhile, I have finished redesigning the cover and all of the non-story interior pages (inside cover, title page, chapter pages, commentary etc.) so it’s one step closer to finding to completion of Din Krakatau. Still need to tweak the text bits and the credits page, though.


“The Djinn Project”: 300 pages written

25 02 2009

…and a little history of comics.

Rather than blog about it, I spent the last two weeks working on a project. I can now announce that I have just finished writing the last 300th page.

“The Djinn Project” is my current working title, as the original two titles were dropped by me. The first one would cause problems with foreign editions (there’s a book named like that already) and the second one stopped being relevant in the end. So I’m currently thinking up a third title, meanwhile for now it’ll be the Djinn project as, you know, it features The Djinn. Lots of them.

There are three goals in this project. One, improve my art even further and initialize a switch into a larger format, meaning I’ll be drawing on much larger sheets of paper than I usually do.

Second, obviously, is to tell a damn good story. And I can say this. From all the scripts I have finished so far, this one’s the best.

And finally… Third, it’s supposed to be a “love letter” to all the great artists I have discovered over the years, but mostly to a group of French artists, with Philippe Druillet being the main one among them.

The summer of year  1991 was the first time I saw Druillet’s art.

There used to be a Polish comics magazine, simply named Komiks (which, interestingly is singular in Polish, komiksy being plural). Not the most original name, I know. But the art inside? Most of it was great. I never got the entire run, but what I did manage get over the years of my childhood introduced me to a lot of great artists and titles. The first issue came out in 1987, originally under the title “Komiks-Fantastyka” and it was a quarterly supplement to a magazine named “Fantastyka” (fantastyka being a Polish word used to dump together both SF and Fantasy. that lasted for about three years and in the middle of 1990, when the publisher changed, they dropped the “fantastyka” from the title and switched to a monthly schedule.

What was inside? A great Polish sf comic titled Funky Koval by  Parowski, Polch and Rodek, followed by Yans (since the original “Hans” sounded too German) by Rosinski (our best “export artist” of that era) and Duchateau. Later,  we were introduced to Jean-Claude Mezieres and Pierre Christin’s Valerian, the Spatio-Temporal Agent;  Le Trende & Loisel’s Pelissa (or the Search for the Bird of Time, assuming this is how it translates to properly, printed as Roxana in English if I recall), Marvano and Haldeman’s  Endless War (or Eternal War), Andreas’ Rork and many others. There were no Druillet or Moebius comics inside though. But… there were articles.

See, it was a magazine after all. While most of what they did was present an entire story each volume, they also used inside covers and two or four additional for various written pieces. And in that particular May 1991 issue (which was couple of months late at this point) there was an article about Druillet.

There wasn’t much. Only three pages total, half of which was taken by art. But what art it was. While at this point I’m aware these weren’t best examples of his art, they totally blew my 11 year old mind. These three illustrations, all from Yragael (one being a nearly full page reproduction, one being a full page shrunk into a tiny panel and one being half of a page with the bottom text part chopped off also shrunk to a panel) totally redefined how I was looking at comics and opened the floodgates of my imagination.

This article was later followed by two more, written by the same person across the next couple years, both with further illustrations (this time from the short story AAARRRZZZ, one panel from Agorn and three or four images from Vuzz). Now that I look through my old comics that survived from that period (basically one notebook pretending to be an issue of a magazine), I can see how big influence these few pages were on me.

At this point I managed to read (not own, unfortunately) most of short stories that appeared in Heavy Metal magazine, and also had the chance to read The Seven Voyages of Lone Sloane, Delirius, Gail, Urm and Yragael. And, I even managed to buy one, the final volume of Lone Sloane titled Chaos, which right now proudly stands as the pearl of my collection.

“So you’re saying that you’ll be ripping off Druillet in this book of yours?” No, not quite. See, this is just one of inspirations. There were others. A short excerpt of Richard Corben’s Mutant world that appeared in an anthology issue of Komiks. All the weird illustrations that were reprinted together with an article about the Heavy Metal magazine, a gallery by Enki Bilal (showcasing art mostly from “The Town that Didn’t Exist and the Nikopol Trilogy; that scene with violent bloody hockey match still burns bright in my mind) and the Gandahar movie, featuring designs by Philippe Caza.

It came out around the same time as that Druillet article did, and it caused similar creative avalanches in my brain. I don’t know who made the decision to bring over here a movie that’s so strange and features lots of nudity (it’s Caza, so half of female characters don’t seem to know what clothes are) and how did it manage to land on the VHS rental store shelves right next to “Chuck Norris Karate Commandos” (both rented at the same time)… but it was one of the most beautiful animated films I saw in my life. I saw it recently, for the first time with the original French dubbing and it’s still marvelous. A bit slow at times, but that just gives you more time to soak in with the exquisite art.

Was there more? Yes, there was plenty more, but I can’t name half of these things at this point. I’d recognize them if I saw them though.

So all of these will be a deliberate influence on this particular project. These and a lot more, who (like aforementioned Corben) go beyond the francophonic comics market.

Right, that’s out of the way.

Now, the format itself. The story is written with six books in mind, each one being 50 pages long (plus two pages for comments or annotations or somesuch), full color and unfortunately in American Comics size (technical limitations that I have to abide to if I want this printed fairly cheap and easily sellable through an online store). I’m hoping that, if the title catches on, I can have someone print an oversized hardcover edition. That’d be great. But that’s too far in the future, I first have to draw this thing. I’ll try to do the best job ever.

And I still need a new title.

Formats formats formats

14 09 2008

After the template fiasco (look previous post), I ended up thinking and rethinking the format I want to use for my books in the future. Clicking through options at Lulu and looking at all the possible shapes and sizes, I have decided that 6×9 could be a good choice.

First: no problems with calculating a new Photoshop template. I checked already and it was pretty simple to set up (although I almost messed up that too by shrinking the live area to 4×7 rather than 5×8 as I wanted). No weird numbers like 6.625 or whatever happens in comics.

Second: the page size is not that much smaller than American comics. Sure, I’m loosing a bit in the height department, but the change is not that drastic.

Third: kinda nostalgic. The Live Area I came up with (set up somewhat arbitrary by myself to avoid anything important disappearing in the spine of thicker books) reminds me a bit of the old days when I was working on A5 sized paper.

Fourth: It comes both in soft and hardcover.

I discarded the idea of hardcovers earlier as they make the price rise for about 10$, which considering a color book would be a total overkill. But wait, I want to switch to b&w due to being able to work faster, color doesn’t enter into the  equation, seeing as in this format there’s no color hardcover.

If I understood their site correctly, I can even convert my project into a hardcover then, meaning I could probably use both. I love hardcovers myself and would love to have everything come to me in that format. Well, anything that features any type of art that is, text books can be in softcover, whatever.

So, before I loose track of where I am heading. This option finally won me over. I can have my books in hardcover (for about 10$ more), but I can also offer them in softcover for those who want to pay 9.99$ instead of 19.99$ or 14.99$ instead of 24.99$. I think it’s a good choice, but I’ll see what kind of complications arise as I go on with the future projects.

Testing another style…

7 09 2008

I got stuck while coloring Din Krakatau. Ten first pages of chapter three have all been done and then suddenly a block came and I couldn’t stand looking at photoshop anymore. Or at lest not at the “polygonal lasso tool” which I use quite a lot during the process. Tried to return to that today (so that I can have more pages done before the first one appears live on Monday), but I just couldn’t force myself to do so. All I did was color all the red on the page and that was it.

So, instead of forcing myself to work on that, I switched and started to do random practice art. Just some loose pieces with no relation to anything.

The three pieces  I came up with come after the jump 😀

Read the rest of this entry »

Going daily?

3 09 2008

Ok, this is an attempt to return to posting daily. Otherwise, delays will get longer and longer and pretty soon I shall start writing monthly posts. So here’s a bunch of random thoughts.

Things to do for the blog:

– Update links (so far I only did personal and comics related links, need to do more categories).

– Start posting interesting stuff I come up with on the net.

– Try not to turn this into a “dear diary” thing (I know I gravitate sometimes towards that).

Things to do creatively:

– Finish coloring and lettering chapter three of Din Krakatau.

– Pencil, color and letter chapter four.

– Assemble it in a book form through whichever POD publisher.

– Kickstart Pink Noise Inferno project by making a “preview promo” video for a selection of tracks.

– Edit/master/remaster/mix all 400+ tracks that will go onto the box.

– Work on a second comic.

– Improve art skills.

– Start selling things online (after getting Paypal): books, prints, tshirts, mugs, mousepads, whatever.

– Start posting art regularly on the blog (rather than just write about it).

– Expand from comics to artbooks/sketchbooks.

There we go. Oh, and also add “figure out a way of making income before I’m famous/skilled enough to make money on my art” line somewhere in there.

Din Krakatau: Work in Progress update 7

3 09 2008

Damn, I thought I posted few days ago already, but the post landed in draft instead for some reason. Oh, whatever.

So, the entire third chapter has been drawn. Took me 16 days to do 32 pages, pretty good I must say. Well, speedwise anyway. Then I have spent 3 days (and I think one day off before that?) to scan and edit all the pages: adjusting brightness/contrast, filling black areas, pasting into my template and adding panel borders. Moving panels around if necessary too, but that was rarely needed, I think only on 2-3 pages total.

After that I started coloring, and right now I have ten pages of chapter three finished. That means they’re edited, colored, lettered, resized for web AND uploaded online. September 8th new pages will appear.

Overall current state: all 128 pages scripted and thumbnailed, 96 pages pencilled, 74 pages finished (54 to color and letter), 74 pages uploaded, 64 pages “live”.

I’ve been looking through various print-on-demand options, and I’m still not sure what to choose. Ka-blam? ComiXpress? Lulu’s unfortunately too pricey for color books. Oh well. ComiXpress has a somewhat bad opinion amongst some users. Printing delays, customer orders that weren’t sent etc. On the other hand they’re the most swamped with orders company, so maybe it’s not all that bad?

Din Krakatau: Work in Progress update 1

12 08 2008

Again delays. Well, nevermind, here’s what’s going on.

I have finished scripting this Friday and took the Saturday off. Sat down on Sunday and drew the first page, or rather page 65. Right now, while I still struggle with the whole job business, I have found enough time to pencil four pages. Not bad.

I’m quite happy with how they look like. Sure, still plenty of room for improvements, but so far I managed to draw everything that I scripted, which is a pretty good result. Usually changes creeped in cause some camera angle was too difficult or whatever. Well, right now after four pages it’s going fairly smoothly. Going to do the fifth page today, if I manage. Perhaps finish it tomorrow.

Overall current state: 128 pages scripted and thumbnailed, 68 pages pencilled, 64 pages online.