Friday, July 29, 2011

World Building

World building. I love it. And it vexes me.

In the Encyclopedia of Fantasy they refer to fantasy realms as “Secondary Worlds”. Meaning, they are independent of reality. Tolkien is the classic example given, if memory serves. Middle-Earth does not reference our world, it exists independent of our reality (though, obviously, all fantasy realms are in fact informed by our cannot be otherwise).

So Secondary Worlds are what I love to do. I rarely mix reality with fantasy, though I have dabbled in it.

Building a world is a joyous endeavor for me. I absolutely love it. But I’m a comic book creator first and foremost so if there isn’t a story to tell then I don’t know what to do with all these realms I invent. That’s a struggle at times.

When I was in high school and my friends and I were starting what was to be my first AD&D campaign we worked from a microcosmic or local process. Basically the DM drew a map of the village we were from on a sheet of 8.5x11 graph paper. As we went out adventuring he would add sheets to show other towns or cities or places we visited. There was no grand map of the world, no scheme of what the bigger world was like. It was entirely focused on the local, personal experience. As the campaign went along the world gained more detail, mostly in terms of its pantheon of deities and certain key cities/characters. It was great fun and very seminal times for me.

But very often I tend to start from the macro, drawing an entire world map and then populating it. This is fun too but it often creates some problems for me. It boxes me in.

One solution I’ve found is to draw a segment of a realm, like a single continent or large island, then you’ve left open the possibility of other islands and continents to explore.

An idea for a realm that hit me last year was a sort of analogy to space. A realm where the landscape is blasted to smithereens into chunks…floating worlds in space. A couple of months ago my son watched Dragon Hunters on Netflix and that film features a similar idea with its floating landscapes. And obviously fantasy novels and art are filled with floating cities and islands and such. Even the freaking Power Rangers have something like that. So this is not a novel idea, but it is a cool idea.

What I like about it is you can have an unlimited selection of realms, each with its own unique environments. What I don’t like about it is that it suggests an infinite or at least vast number of realms. I really dig smaller, more defined settings. It’s a give and take, I guess.

I remember in the 1990s there was an AD&D supplement for world building, The World Builders’ Guidebook if I remember correctly. I had a copy of it and it was really great for randomly coming up with world ideas. A bit limited, of course, since it was tied specifically to the AD&D game, but I liked that they were encouraging such creativity.

A few months ago I drew a map of an un-named realm and put some busty anthro characters on each corner. I really, really LOVE this map. It is so evocative for me. It drums up tons of imagery and I desperately want to develop it into a comic of some kind.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ülva the Hippo Warrior

Just an idea...

Zealots of the Jungle God

My first fairly big painting since I went digital a few years ago. Very proud of it. Has some rough edges, some things I'd do differently in the future, but on the whole I'm pleased as punch.

What we're seeing here is the panther barbarian Munga hacking up some cultists just trying to practice their Constitutional rights!


Working on a design for a painting. I have to draw six or seven dinosaur-themed warriors in battle. I think they are protecting their ancient city and getting their scaly asses kicked by Munga, a black panther barbarian.

Should be somewhat epic...

Gobgirl Stuff

Here's a character I've been kicking around for a while. She's half goblin, half something else. She was raised by a cranky old wizard who then dies and leaves her alone in the world to figure shite out.

I think there's a good webcomic in her, but I don't know if I'll ever get it out.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Is It 2011?

Holy One-Year-Later, Batgoof!

Blogging is stupid and weird. I like it. It means nothing almost 100% of the time. Nobody gives two shits what you write. Its a bunch of words tossed into a cosmic-scale sea of other bunches of words. But that isn't really important. The important part is just doing something creative.

I draw comics. I love drawing comics. I've been doing it since I was in 4th grade. I used to take a piece of paper and fold it in half to mimic a book, then I'd draw a story about Spider-Man or The Thing. If I remember correctly the thing that inspired me to do that was getting my hands on a bunch of DC "origin" stories published in the mini-comic size format. This was the early 80s. I wish I still had those comics. I had multiple copies of each of them. Superman, Batman, Aquaman, etc. I probably ended up destroying them or something. I have no idea.

Anyway, the point of doing this blog was to just do it. To push myself to work every day, focusing on just doing it. When you do that - when you work every day on something - eventually you'll look up and take a peek and be amazed that you DID something. And my problem has always been getting shit done.

I read back through the older posts here. Not many of them. I referred to my Dragon Hour...this was when I'd get up at 4 or 5 AM and draw for at least one hour. It was very successful for me. I produced a lot of Zyn Dweomer pages that way. More recently I've switched it to night time hours and it has continued to be a good thing for me. I get at least 1 to 2 hours of alone, quiet time a night to draw. But of course I'm human and I do not use the time with great efficiency. I goof off and procrastinate, like I always have. I am basically a walking bag of self-doubt so I find a release to that stress in doing something other than what I need to be doing.

And yet I'm still making comics and getting stuff done. Somehow. Some way. I've produced several hundred comic pages or strips in the past 3 years, which is saying a lot for me. My productivity has been on an upward trend or at least a steady state since some time around 2002. I'm not sure why. Perhaps the internet did it.

So right now I'm in the middle of putting together the first "issue" of Zyn Dweomer. After that, if I don't get back into doing new Zyn Dweomer pages, I'll probably start something new. I'm in the mood to create a big, fat, magical world and populate it with awesome.

We'll see how that goes.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Speed Bumps

Yeah, I've hit a speed bump the last couple of days. Not much productive work. But that's ok. These things have their ebb and flow.

I did have a sort of mini-breakthrough on some background stuff for the comic. Setting, types of characters, etc. It was good.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dragon Hours

Still keeping the morning routine pretty well. I'm over 100% on target.

Problem I'm having now is with my blood pressure meds. Yeah, I take those. Just started that lovely practice a month or two ago. Problem is they make me feel weak and sore. So I'm going to call the Doc and see what's up. I do not approve.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dragon Hour: 03-05-10

Today’s DH rocked. I finished the first half of page 7, including lettering.

You know, the first panel looked like crap at first. And I was going to erase and start over but I continued to work it and I ended up with something I liked.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dragon Hour: 03-04-10

This morning's time was well spent. I sketched and lettered all of page 7 of the first issue of Zyn Dweomer, the print comic. My daily goal is to complete 20% of a page, so I'm not sure if that qualifies or not but I'll mark it down as a success.

The issues are planned to be 20 pages long - 16 pages of comic and 4 pages of back up features such as a sort of "worldbook". I'm making the issues smaller than a normal comic because I want to have more opportunities to do color covers and because having shorter increments helps boost my sense of accomplishment.

And I secretly yearn to have a wall of issues.

Dragon Hour

Dragon Hour. This is what I call my daily drawing time. Many years ago my friend David Hedgecock said in a letter (we used to write letters before there was email, you know) that simply drawing for 20 minutes a day will get you results. And he was absolutely correct.

My dear friend Cyd Clark-Praxis and I have always had a mantra: Finish It. This came from some advice he was given by Neil Gaiman at a con. Basically, finish it. Cringe later. This has become a war cry for us and I’m taking it in my own direction this year with Dragon Hour, my own personal version of Finish It.

Naturally the goal is spend one hour drawing each day. Not just random doodling, but working toward a finished thing. Usually a comic. So in 2010 I’m resolved to doing this. It is my religion, in a sense.

I’m going to post some updates here as to how each day’s Dragon Hour is going. Boring stuff for most of you, but here it is anyway. An artist’s personal journey from being far too loose and random to being adequately on track and productive.

The comic I’m committed to right now is Zyn Dweomer. I started that one Christmas 2008 and it is by far the one comic I’ve been most consistent with in my entire life. I recently shifted from color to black and white in order to finish more pages in a timely manner and, more importantly, because I really do enjoy drawing in black and white more than I enjoy color.

Rock on, as they say.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Untitled Comic #2


My son is about 4.5 years old and this is one of his first drawings that he did 100% on his own and is totally recognizable! It's a milestone!

Yeah, one day soon he'll surpass ole dad's skillz and be a mad artiste.