Untold Tales of Bigfoot: Fall Special / Printer Review

The Untold Tales of Bigfoot Fall Special books are in — and they look great! I’ll have them with me at New York Comic Con this October when I sit in with the National Cartoonists Society. I also have some copies in my online shop (just $6 plus s/h/tx)!

Untold Tales of Bigfoot: Fall Special

What’s Inside

  • 35 pages of fall-inspired art and story from the Untold Tales of Bigfoot webcomic,  including Devil In The Details and the Reuben-Nominated Heading For A Fall!
  • Two pages of story not published online (I added a couple pages to give Scout a little more room to babble and complain.)
  • Devil In The Details (published online in black and white) is now printed in full color!

Review: Comix Well Spring/Greko Printing

You may or may not recall, I had a negative experience with Ka-Blam Digital Printing that sent me looking for a different printer for this project. A friend recommended Comix Well Spring, so I thought I’d give ’em a try. How’d they do? Let’s see…

Colors Look Good

Untold Tales of Bigfoot: Fall Special

Comix Well Spring did a great job of matching my CMYK colors. The brights are bright, the darks are dark, and the subtle gradients all came out the way I wanted them to.

Untold Tales of Bigfoot: Fall Special

Mind you, I opted for the hard copy proof to be mailed to me (a nominal fee of $10) so I could adjust my files before going to final print. And I’m glad I did. There’s always a possibility that what you see on your screen won’t match what the printer puts out. So using a hard copy proof to help make your adjustments is a good idea.

Untold Tales of Bigfoot: Fall Special

I opted for the heavier paper (80# gloss text) and the pages feel substantial, with no bleed-through (unless you hold the pages up to a light). The cover was standard (80# gloss cover) and it feels durable and looks great.

Quality Packing and Shipping

With Ka-Blam, it was damaged books and poor customer service response that led me to look for a new printer. How did Comix Well Spring stack up?

Untold Tales of Bigfoot: Fall Special

Comix Well Spring packed my order in a sturdy box, lined with a thick layer of packing paper. The comic books were then shrink-wrapped and packed (in bundles of 25) into padded, sealed UPS envelopes. Did that protect the corners? Darn tootin’!

Untold Tales of Bigfoot: Fall Special

I unpacked every shrink-wrapped bundle of my comics and every one of them looks like this. Pristine corners, no dings, no folds, no spine damage. I couldn’t be happier with the packaging.

Customer Service Is Excellent

Ka-Blam Digital Printing dropped the ball with their customer service. In contrast, Comix Well Spring was more than happy to answer a ton of questions for me before I even ordered. I wanted to make sure my colors and templates were set up properly, double check their shipping methods and return policy — they answered all my questions before/during/and after our transaction promptly and politely.

Final Review

I give Comix Well Spring a solid A and happily recommend them to anybody who wants to get their comics printed. Their prices are competitive (especially in larger quantities) and their product is impressive. They also have a handy price quote calculator on their site so you can see how much your project might cost before you order. -v

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Pencils, Inks, Colors, Done.

Just a real quickie. Been a little busy to post here, but my promo image for this week’s Untold Tales of Bigfoot page happens to be a snapshot of my basic comic-making process. So I figured this process blog would be a good place to post it. Full page here (where I posted a few more inks).

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Quick Rundown of a Bigfoot Page

Busy, busy, busy. But I thought I’d throw up some quick screenshots of my digital process for a page from my latest Untold Tales of Bigfoot short, Devil In The Details. Nothing too hairy here, just quick shots of my steps.

Step 1: PencilsUToB_DeviInTheDetails_process

Terrible, right? I scribble this stuff on paper and scan it. Sometimes the images are tighter, sometimes looser. It depends on my mood and how difficult a particular pose or scene might be to ink without guidance.

Step 2: Ink

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Inked in Clip Studio Paint. I letter in Clip Studio as well, but leave all that on a separate layer in case I need images of the art without text.

Step 3: Flats

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I’m doing this story arc in a faux-aged black-and-white palette to add to the creepiness. So my colors are muted, but warm. I did the flats on the figures first. Why? No reason. Sometimes I start with the background.

Step 4: More Flats

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This page is a little different than some of the others in the story because that third “panel” is really just the page, acting as a background for the top two panels. Just more warm greys, getting things prepped for the final stage…

Step 5: Modeling and Effects

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The last step is usually the highlights and shadows, modeling the figures and background so they have more dimension. I also leave any sort of lighting or atmospheric effects until the end and place them on their own layer. In the case of this short, I also added a roughed-up, worn paper effect to age the image a little and give it a retro feel.

And that’s that! If you wanna read the story, I think we’re about halfway through and starts right here. Thanks for looking! -v

 

Mister Rogers City Paper Cover

Pittsburgh City Paper came calling last week to see if I’d do another cover for them. As art director/managing editor Lisa Cunningham explained it to me, this cover was going to represent a combination of a few things: the start of Pride Month, the release of an upcoming documentary on beloved Pittsburgher Fred Rogers, and the point at which those two entities intersect — Mister Rogers’ radical history of accepting all types of people and minorities before it was commonplace.

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I didn’t have to do much layout work for this image because Lisa wanted it to echo the feel of a much-later photo of Fred Rogers where he’s shown welcoming friends to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

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I did a quick, blue-pencil sketch in Clip Studio to map things out.

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And then I went in with a pencil tool to work out the caricature. Initially, I was going to go over the pencils with a digital inking, but the sense I get from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is a very warm, soft, gentle feeling. So I thought I’d leave the pencil work as the final line.

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After that, it’s all about adding color in Clip Studio. Again, I chose tools that might have a softer feel — pastels, colored pencils.

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Initially, the job called only for Mister Rogers and Trolley. But he seemed a little solitary in the Neighborhood of Make Believe, so after handing in the assignment I requested a chance to add in some of my favorite neighbors. It just seemed like a happier scene with everyone in there.

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Of course, I always leave a little extra in the composition because I never know how Lisa’s gonna crop/edit the illustration to fit the needs of the cover text and masthead. I like what she did with it this week, masking around the castle turrets.

For those interested, the City Paper article this cover points to is about how progressive Mister Rogers ideas were for their time. It’s written by Alex McCann and you can read it here. -v

Untold Tales of Bigfoot Nominated for Another NCS Reuben!

UToB_ReubenNom3_DorseHere’s some fun news (for me, anyway). Untold Tales of Bigfoot has been nominated by the National Cartoonists Society for a Silver Reuben in the Online Comics: Long Form division. This is Bigfoot and Scout’s third nomination (they won in 2013).

We’ve been buzzing about this here in the cave for the last few days, feeling very honored and grateful. Congratulations to my fellow nominees, John Allison and Ru Xu. Bigfoot and I consider the nomination itself a win, thrilled to be recognized alongside some other very talented creators. Scout, however, really wants the wall plaque and he won’t shut up about it.

Either way, we’ll be having a great time rubbing elbows with all the other cartooning professionals at the 72nd Annual Reuben Awards, May 25th-27th in the City of Brotherly Love, good ol’ Philadelphia, PA! Whether we go home with the bauble or not, it is always a sincere pleasure to spend the weekend hanging out with some of the funniest, creative people I know. -v

For a complete list of the nominees in all the divisions, CLICK HERE!

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Do The Work: Stop swiping other people’s art.

Quick note to aspiring artists and designers. Don’t swipe. Yeah, it’s easy and maybe you can turn a buck or two passing off someone else’s work as your own. But you’re doing a disservice to those people who work hard to put out entertaining content and, maybe more importantly, you’re strangling your own creative flow. Plus it makes you look bad.

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This is far down on my list of things to expend energy on, but back in 2014, I did an ink sketch of the Hatbox Ghost from Disney’s Haunted Mansion. The character’s a favorite of mine, and I wanted to see what he’d look like if I put my personal spin on him. He came out okay, so I posted my process on this site and people seemed to enjoy it.

Since then, I’ve seen this exact design/image presented (without attribution to me) as someone’s cool tattoo, enlarged as someone’s Halloween lawn display, and most recently as a series of poorly-traced prints in someone’s Etsy shop. All presented as those folks’ “original design.”

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Son, just…don’t.

If you really want to make fan art, if you really want to be creative, put some effort into it and make your own. Maybe you can’t draw as well as someone else yet, or maybe you’re creatively blocked at this moment. But honestly, the more you work on it, the more of yourself you put in your work, the more you practice…the better you’ll get.

This fan art thing? It’s just fun for me. I’m hoping not to waste too much time worrying about this stuff. I haven’t built a cottage industry on Etsy or Ebay drawing other people’s characters, but I know that some folks have and that’s maybe as far as they want to go with their art. And that’s cool. As long as it’s their art.

So, tl/dr: do the work. If you didn’t, don’t say that you did. -v

Out and About: Upcoming Shows and Events

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Hey, I’m emerging from the cave for a few upcoming events in the next month or two. Here’s a short list (more to be added):

April 7th & 8th: MoCCA Festival This Weekend in NYC

If you’re in New York this weekend and plan to attend MoCCA (Manhattan’s largest independent comics, cartoon, and animation festival) I will be sitting in at the National Cartoonists Society table on Saturday (3:45 to 7) and Sunday (3:45 to 6). MoCCA is a 2-day event with all kinds of cool stuff, and there will be other cartoonists at the NCS table throughout the weekend. Admission is only $7 a day!

“Held at the luxurious and modern Metropolitan West located on West 46th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues, MoCCA’s host venue will encompass two floors of exhibitor tables, a gallery of original art showcasing the work of special guests, and pop-up cafés throughout the space.” CLICK FOR DETAILS!

May 5th: Free Comic Book Day at Phantom of the Attic, Oakland

I’ve done Free Comic Book Day at this amazing comic shop before and had a blast meeting people, selling books, and doing quick commission sketches. It’s a wonderful shop with a great staff and it’s stocked floor to ceiling with fun. I’ll be sharing a table with Jim Rugg (Street Angel, Afrodisiac) so stop by and say hi. PHANTOM FB PAGE

May 19th & 20th: 3 Rivers Comicon in Pittsburgh

I did this con last year, had a great time, and so I’m doing it again this year. Saturday and Sunday, May 19-20, I’ll be at my own table at 3 Rivers Comicon in Pittsburgh. There’s always a great guest list of talented artists at this con. CLICK FOR DETAILS

I’ll add a few more notable events as the details shore up, but this is a good start for now. Hope to see you out there! -v