the cover of a minicomic

The cover of one of the new minicomics is finished.   First, I think I might be a little too involved with my semi-newfound ability to do white titles on a black ground with marker lettering.  I do kind of like the larger letters in “Another Mysterious Stranger”, which were lettered with that crazy Big Soft Brush Sharpie.

And second, joy comes with embracing one of Kekionga’s central tropes, which is that a majority of Junkyard stories start with a Mysterious Stranger coming to Bud with either a weird problem to solve or some kind of (humorously?) shady business deal.  It may not be “creative”, but it is what really happens when you run a junkyard at a Node Where Dimensions meet.  Just Another Day at Kekionga Salvage.

I know what’s in the box, but most of you will have to wait.

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best of the drawing of the day– night badger

You’ve heard of Christmas in July?  Well, welcome to Halloween in April.

I started this drawing with the eyes, the ears and the costume, and the subject was pretty clearly attended to be either a humanoid vampire bat or a stock character vampire partially transformed into his bat form.  But he turned out to look more like a badger. So, the pretty-unique Night Badger.  And he looks pretty smug about it, doesn’t he?  Or maybe he’s just a bit of dope.  Might still bite you, though.

The two things I like most about this drawing, beside the Night Badger himself, are the angle (not level and loving it) and the way the Moon, and the night sky around it, turned out.

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free bonus tiny shark

My humorous shark minicomic (finally titled Tiny Shark Dream Royale) will be ready to print by the end of the day, or sometime over the weekend, or on Monday by the latest.  As I was doing the last corrections on page 7, I decided to lose one of the sharks, an extra tiny one in the corner that really didn’t do anything for the composition.

Normally, I would just erase him by flooding him with white, but he’s a nice little shark and I felt sort of bad about eliminating him just because he doesn’t fit in.  So I selected him out and moved him into another file all his own and here he is.  A whole, raw, live uncorrected humorous tiny shark for a Friday afternoon in spring.

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movie time at the cinemark: captain marvel

Circumstances beyond our control have curtailed our moviegoing for a while, so it was almost the end of March before our first visit to the old Cinemark this year.  Luckily the latest MCU outing, Captain Marvel, did not disappoint.  It was not the best film in the series, but it was entertaining on the surface and had some involving depths and some good performances, as well as an interesting structure.

But first, a sigh about the title.  Anyone who is familiar with either my writing or my comics work know that the great Fawcett Captain Marvel comics of the Golden Age are a touchstone for me. My cartooning style in particular is deeply informed by the work of the creators of that epic universe, particularly CC Beck.

This movie is not about that character.  A legal and artistic history of how Cap’s storied name ending up on an unrelated cosmic warrior deeply embedded in the space opera section of the Marvel universe could fill a whole book, much less an essay.  And it’s out of place in a movie review anyway, thank whatever.  Do I wish this very interesting newer character had a different name? Of course I do.  But there are ideals of artistic purity and there are mighty corporations and I know which one of those have both lawyers and movie studios.  The name makes sense in context at least, and that will have to be enough.

Now on with the review, under the cut of course since spoilers abound.

Continue reading

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being serene on deadline

Anybody else on deadline?  I’m on deadline.  I hope to have some images for you next week from the three (count ’em, three) projects I have on the drawing board right now, but for the moment nothing is fit to be seen.  If I can keep from drawing humorous cartoon sharks on the pages for the moody Gothic story at this point, that’s all I can manage.

When deadlines loom, I find the most refreshing break I can take is to practice another kind of art entirely.  For me, that’s almost always photography.  And when you can photograph a serene subject like this enigmatic carved figure at the local pop up art and antique market, being behind the camera is even more relaxing.  And challenging.  It’s an excellent combination.  Note that while I very seldom share an image of myself, you can see a bit of me in the mirror, taking this photograph.

As always, if you want to see more of my photography, I am on Instagram @kekiongacomics .

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it’s fall in kekionga

A few years ago, Moose found this photograph in a cardboard box at a yard sale, and it has been hanging on her bulletin board ever since.    Many years from now, when she thinks of her hometown, this will be what she remembers.

(One of the great things about spending time in an imaginary place is that you can go there any time of the year. You can write a Christmas story in August, or draw a spring story in November.  Or, in the very worst parts of a vile Midwestern “third winter”, you can pick up your camera and take a walk through Kekionga on a beautiful October day.  It’s always fall in the Indiana of the mind,  if you want it to be.  And I mostly do. )

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lucky drawings and their titles

Work, work, work, work.

Oh, hello, blogkateers.  How kind of you to stop by to find out whether I have been frozen solid in an ice storm or blown into Michigan in a windstorm since last we met.  I appreciate your interest, and am glad to report that I am still here in the center of my personal tundra, making comics in the company of wild dogs suffering from ever increasing levels of cabin fever.

For fun, how about a couple of “lucky drawings” from my drawing of the day sketchbook?  A lucky drawing in this context is one that just happens, drawn in ink directly on the blank page without a pencil underdrawing or even any particular idea of what the subject is going to be.

What these two drawings have in common is that they each feature a three eyed character and they each have a title that I transcribed directly onto the page from the soundtrack of the random TV show I was watching at the time.  Weird, but that’s how I roll.

This brushwork drawing was pretty clearly drawn during a cooking competition, with one of the judges asking the question about an egg that was added to a dish at the last minute.  I can’t remember whether the egg was successful or not, but the question struck me as memorable and it fit pretty much exactly in the space above the three eyed owl thing, so on the page it went.  Hey, at least the the bat seems to think it was funny.

I actually cheated in this drawing and fixed the owl’s three eyes with whiteout the next day to make them more contrasty and also more or less the same size.  At the same time I added the little white dots for trim and to reduce the weight of some of the solid blacks that bulk up so easily when drawing freehand with a great big brush and a heavy ink.  Hey, it is my sketchbook and I will cheat if I want to cheat.

And this linework pair almost certainly appeared during that most wonderful of televised time wasters, the classic car auction.  These go on for hours over random weekend afternoons and evenings deep in the reaches of the more obscure cable sports channels.  Oddly compelling for those who like cars, and good for your spotting skills.  The engine that is “two V-6s joined at the hip” is the W-12 that powers many versions of the Bentley Continental GT.  I am not sure how this description applies to this serene three eyed creature with the mighty tusks and its wild haired human companion wearing slip on deck shoes.  Perhaps it is a comment on the closeness of their professional partnership, personal relationship, or both.

The Pilot “Penmanship” EF is small, inexpensive, Japanese fountain pen with the tiniest possible “scritchy-scratchy” nib.  It is annoying in many ways, from its tiny ink capacity and its tendency to dry out while you are actually drawing with it, but when it is working properly and you need an extremely fine line, there is no substitute.

I think my favorite thing about this drawing is the little being sitting on one of the mighty creature’s horns.



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meet the java cats! (drawing of the day color special)

One class of iconic characters that has never made its way into Kekionga canon (which of course is built out of all the character archetypes I can think of) is the aquatic humanoid.  There are definitely some water beings out there (Old Fourlegs and the other coelacanths, and Nestor the Lake Monster come immediately to mind), but I’ve never done a mermaid or a fishperson or a water sprite or anything like that.  I can’t really say why, except that I don’t personally much like getting wet .

But I’m currently writing up some notes for a Kekionga spin off featuring tiny characters (say knee high to a human and down) that I’ve always wanted to write about.  I finally had an idea for a storyline for them, so I have been drawing them in my sketchbook, trying to figure out just how big they are and how they might fit together in a panel.

So I was using a diner coffee cup as a size regulator for Tiny Anubis …

And this little guy popped out of it.  He was plump, with big underwater eyes, fin-like ears, webbed feet and hands, and catfish barbels on lips and chin.  He was definitely a thing.

Turns out that he’s a small sentient amphibious being who lives in coffee, or around coffee– sort of a brownie of the coffee shop, who can easily turn into a gremlin if he doesn’t get enough caffeine.  He’s a Java Cat.  (That’s cat for catfish, and from classic hipster slang, not the meowing kind.)

These are actually the second and third Java Cats I’ve ever drawn, but this drawing is the proof of concept for the basic character designs.  You can see that I am still experimenting  with the number of fingers and toes and the shape of the webbing, and I think the shape (and possibly number) of fins varies by individual.  The only clothes a Java Cat will ever wear is the miniature barista’s apron some ‘Cats wear when they have adopted a particular cafe, diner or coffee place as their own responsibility.  Otherwise they go around naked, their cartoon modesty preserved by patches of iridescent scales in a “bathing suit” or “bike shorts” pattern.  Otherwise, they have smooth skin in any shade of coffee color.  Their fins and eyes are silver grey.

Just for fun, these Java Cats appear today in full color.  Well, full color for me, anyway.

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placemat drawings and universal questions

With all due respect to the classics, this answer is “29”, which is also a pretty nice number.

(Assuming I am counting right.  You’ll tell me if I’m not.)

(Placemat drawing, Steak and Shake, 2/12/19. “Q: How many spirit rocks can you draw before your lunch comes? A: This many”.   Pilot Better Retractable ballpoint pen, Fine black, on slick paper placemat.  First version, color scan direct from original. Second version, processed to remove color for emphasis, no corrections).


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kekionga characters from a new story

Last week, during the Polar Vortex,  finished my first real story in a while.  The final version will appear in the OH Comics! anthology later this year.  The subject matter will remain a surprise, but it’s a Kekionga story and that means some familiar people will be doing some stuff …

a coelacanth is leaping,

Edison is playing the ukulele, under the supervision of his owl, Fil,

Jack is standing under the old oak tree, looking pensive and romantic,

And Josef is eating stolen ice cream.

Business as usual, really.  Many, many more finished comics pages to come this year if all (or even most) goes according to plan.

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