It’s been a long time since the last Minicomics Live, but I’ve been inspired to try it again as part of SPACE On-Line this weekend. Yes, the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, one of our very favorite cons, has moved online in these difficult times. There’s a market, a full slate of programming, and lots of fun side activities. Click on the link above to find the whole shebang.
Among those fun activities will be me, making an 8 page minicomic live on the internet. Updates will be posted here, of course, as well is on the official Pam Bliss Facebook page and the SPACE Facebook group.
For the uninitiated, Minicomics Live is a chance for you to watch me make minicomic from scratch, from script to finished pages, over a limited time. Since this is a two day show, I am limiting myself to an eight page, single sheet mini. And since this is SPACE, I am giving myself a space theme. I will be choosing the seed of my script by the “pointing at random words in a late 70’s era Webster’s New World Dictionary I won as a prize in high school” method, sometime on Saturday morning. And then the fun will begin.
I am not promising any Giant Alien Worms, but at this point anything is possible.
Not everybody knew at the beginning that Mr. Rock really is a plastic action figure, about a foot tall, the size of a Barbie doll or an original GI Joe. It was part of his original concept in my head, but I guess it never cropped up until I started putting him in drawings with either objects or other members of the cast. Or, in this case, someone who is sort of somewhere in between.
Everybody knows the giant toy bugs you find as kid-bait in natural history museum gift shops. The better quality ones are identifiable as actual species, but the more generic ones, with their ambiguous anatomy and bright paint jobs not found in nature, are often more fun to have around.
The one in this color sketchbook drawing belongs to one of the Kids– almost certainly Moose, Murphy, or Nina, all of whom keep private collections of assorted toys who act out the most amazing dramas late at night or on rainy afternoons. No one could resist adding a giant plastic bug with a purple head, green eyes and a red and orange striped thorax to such a company. Is Mr. Rock another member of the cast, or a “real person” just playing along?
Do these questions even make sense? Is Kekionga itself just a grown-up version of my own shoe-box dollhouses full of tangle-haired trolls, flocked ponies, rubber spiders, and pom-poms with googly eyes?
Doodles are usually pretty small in scale, but last night I put one of the most epic settings of all into doodle form.
The sandworm of Arrakis is one of my favorite characters in literature. He’s a McGuffin strong enough to power a galactic empire, he’s a god, he’s public transportation. This particular example is somewhat bemused by his very high concept. His facial expression is a call back to the masterful stick figure comics of Matt Feazell.
One of the challenges of sharing doodles with a wide audience is deciding how much, if any, to fix up the problems before you share. I’m normally a purist– what you see is what’s on the original page when it comes to doodles and the simpler sketchbook drawings. Over correcting can spoil the freshness. But I couldn’t resist making three simple changes to this one, since I was adding a token signature anyway.
Here’s the original scan. Can you find the three corrections?
It made me rather sad this morning to check back in here and see how long it has been since my last post. All I can say about it is the last half of the first part of this crisis was much harder for me than the first half, and I still feel lost and unmoored. But the blog goes on, even after the longest hiatus in its checkered history, and this is not a time to give up on anything for good.
So I have been working on this doodle project for our webcomic, The Extras. (You did know I have been making a comic called The Extras with Jeff Lilly and Katie Hodges for about a year now, right? It’s a classic school story with an offbeat setting and it’s really fun if I say so myself. You can read it at http://theextras.thecomicseries.com/) One of the characters likes to draw and I ghost her drawings, and this week’s installment is a page of her doodles with a little setting I wrote for them. Click above to read!
But along with her doodles I ended up doing some of my own. So here are three doodles that should remind you of some corgis you might know.
The crisis productivity level has risen slightly. (I created the bare bones of a workable magic system last week! And wrote a minicomic about the entire history of the world!)
But what actually gets done is Mr. Rock cartoons. Like this one. For some reason, I am really enjoying the weird experience of flood fill coloring a scribbly sketchbook drawing inked with a fine nibbed pen.
There is actually a story written where Mr. Rock sits in a fruit basket just like this. (Presumably that basket will be better drawn than this one.) One of the goals of these little color sketches is to develop a color palette for the Mr. Rock series to coordinate with the fixed colors already established. I like the red and the purple, but am not sure about the orange. For some reason I can never have an extensive palette that does not include this particular web safe tan.
Sorry to be so absent. This shelter in place time is really taking it out of me. Oddly, now that we approach the traditional 40 days (the source of the word “quarantine”, after all) I find myself feeling a little more stable and more like showing my work. Mostly, I’ve been drawing and coloring Mr. Rock cartoons, and writing some stories about him. The stories will have to wait until they are finished, but here are two of the cartoons.
In the first, we learn that Mr. Rock comes from Pluto. Plutonians, being a cheap knockoff of Vulcans, share that people’s cultural obsession with managing their emotional landscapes and appearing cool and logical. They just aren’t very good at it. At all. The traditional garb of Pluto apparently features the “ringer” T shirt.
In the second, Mr. Rock makes his first appearance with a member of the regular cast. A regular reader, on seeing this drawing was surprised to see how small Mr. Rock actually is. I guess I never made it obvious before, but Mr. Rock is basically an action figure come to life– he is about a foot tall. It was interesting to discover that Josef’s color scheme and Mr. Rock’s have a lot of overlap.
What am I doing in these troubled times? Loafing around on social media, glomming on to a random image that calls to be in a strange way, and spending way too much time turning the central figure into a character for the Kekionga universe.
Meet Mr. Rock, doll sized space adventurer /malcontent. He is a foot tall bundle of plastic and attitude, dressed in a brightly colored but ill fitting uniform. I think he finds the real world something of a disappointment. And if he doesn’t like the “bicorder”, I’m sure he’ll have a lot to say about the pink Jeep. But he also has all the knowledge of that copyrighted prototype whose name we can’t mention, so he may turn out to be a handy guy to have around.
I’m not sure why he’s green, except that I thought him up that way. And really, if his species has green blood, why shouldn’t they be green?
PS– I love coloring scribbly sketchbook drawings that were not designed to be colored.
One of the behind the scenes projects I have been working on is the launch of a special Instagram feed just for my comics and drawings. See drawings of the day, panels and pages from comics, doodles, work-in-progress sketches, and pretty much anything else I can flatten and stuff into a square. Please open your Instagram and check out @pamblisscomics There’s already a lot of stuff there for you to look at.
Here’s a preview of a post you can expect later today, complete with a cartoon featuring one of those random lines I pick up off the TV that is playing in the background while I draw.
(My long running photography Instagram can be found, as it has been for some time @yardcoyote.)
This blog supports the ancient institution of the doodle. I certainly respect deliberate doodling, as a form of art practice, diary keeping, creative development, or meditation. But the doodles I am saving here are the boredom doodles, the thinking about something else doodles, the time filling doodles, the something to do with your hands doodles. The classic example is phone doodles, less common today than they used to be, but still sometimes practiced when on hold. But there are also waiting room doodles, watching TV doodles, and truly epic jury duty doodles.
And now we come to the script editing doodle. I’m old school enough that I like to edit short pieces of writing, like the scripts for short comics, on hard copy. I just think better when confronted with words on real paper. And real paper is (first and foremost, always) something you can draw on. So while I’m looking for a better line, an audience will sometimes appear in the margins. (The pen, as always, is the Zebra Sarasa 0.7 gel pen. The color is “Porto”, though you may find it listed in store catalogs as maroon, mahogany, dark red, etc.)
This guy is only a few hours old– he’s very sophisticated for his age, just ask him. You may have to wait for the reply. I have no idea what his voice is like; he may even end up being a silent character.
But I have been looking for this guy for a while– somebody simple to draw, not a child or an animal, but not clearly an alien or a monster, with a distinct “feel” to him. (I couldn’t describe that “feel”, but I knew it when I saw it.
A little bit Wild Thing, a little bit doodle, a little bit egg, with spoonful of John R. Neill’s Magnified Wogglebug of Oz and a big slice of Hieronymus Bosch. That last has given him his name, he is Bosch, or possibly Bosh, with its added meaning of “stuff and nonsense”.
These images are phone camera photographs taken directly out of my Daybook sketchbook. This has been the first real solution I’ve found to the problem of keeping both several different notebooks and at least two sketchbooks open at once and handy at all times. Yes, I’ve given up– I’ve found a small cheap spiral bound sketchbook in a handy size with “good enough” paper, and I am just using it for everything except the drawing of the day. I write, I draw, I take notes, I copy recipes, I’ve even painted in it with tempera paints once. Except for that painted page, I am using both sides of each sheet and just basically letting things happen. And things have definitely been happening. All kinds of weird and cool things.