Monday, January 27, 2014

Sunday page links!

For those looking for the Sunday pages of Rex Morgan and The Phantom, I'm going to encourage you to visit the Comics Kingdom website. Here is the link to the latest Rex Sunday -- and here's the Phantom Sunday. With King Features posting the complete "half page" Sunday strips now, I don't feel the need to post them here anymore. In some cases, if I've kept screen shots of the work in progress, I'll post those along with the final strip -- but that'll be a once in a while thing.

In the meantime, please do support the Comics Kingdom site. You can read not only my work, but the current Prince Valiant, Judge Parker, Spider-Man, Zippy, Mutts, Zits, Sally Forth, Paul Ryan's daily Phantom strips and many more. And there's the extra of all the vintage strips they run-- Barney Google, Rip Kirby, Buz Sawyer, Krazy Kat, Flash Gordon, as well as vintage Phantom and Mandrake adventures -- and just starting today, Frank Robbins' Johnny Hazard!

A few vintage strips shown below just as a teaser of what's available at the site.

You can read the strips on site for free, or subscribe (it's pretty cheap) and get your favorites emailed to you each day. It's like getting a customized comics page sent right to your mail box. Many of the strips are archived, too -- going back ten years or more. Okay, enough of a plug? I don't get any royalties or anything -- just encouraging you to check out a great source for current and vintage strips. Start digging into the archives, and you'll have enough reading material to keep you busy for years....

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Rex Morgan -- Week Four in Black and White

As I did last week, I'm posting the week's worth of B&W dailies. Enjoy.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A week's worth of Rex.

I promised I would, so here I am posting this entire week's worth of black and white Rex Morgan daily strips. This week includes the notorious Tuesday strip in which Rex is wearing his wedding ring on the wrong finger! I think I'd noticed it missing, and added it at the last minute before sending the file off to the syndicate. In a rush, I didn't notice the error I'd made. Well, it gave people something legitimate to complain about for once!

By mid-week, I think I'm starting to get a handle on drawing June. She remains the most difficult of the bunch to capture. Still working on it. My re-designed Sarah is still evolving. Almost there.

Folks who find this strange are encouraged to go look up the earliest appearances of Dick Tracy, Popeye, Charlie Brown, etc., and see how different they look from the eventual standard designs we all know. This happens with nearly all cartoonists and comic strip characters. New artists on established strips usually have an adjustment period in which they struggle with finding their versions of the characters -- it's all part of the process.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday Sunday!

Today is a first for me -- not only my first Rex Morgan Sunday page -- but the first time I've had two Sunday strips in the paper! So here are today's Rex and Phantom strips. I have to wonder if there is any newspaper out there that runs both...? 

As I've noted previously, now that the Comics Kingdom site is showing the full "half page" strips, I don't feel the need to post all my strips here anymore -- but I will from time to time -- especially if I've saved some work in progress shots to share, or have a story to tell that relates to the strip. Today's strips certainly show the contrast between the features -- Rex is a pretty low key conversation in the office-- while The Phantom is an action packed fight scene on a pirate ship! 

I'm still working on Jungle Tales of Tarzan pages today -- Martin Powell and I are adapting Edgar Rice Burroughs' story, The Lion, for a graphic novel to be published by Dark Horse. Back to drawing the strips tomorrow. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Rex Week Two: Saturday

My last of the color/B&W comparison posts. Next week I'll hold off until Saturday or Sunday and post the week's worth of B&W strips. In the meantime, you can follow the strip at Comics Kingdom. And do feel free to post something there to balance out the griping and the trolling....

Tomorrow -- my first Sunday page -- which I will post here. And though it's my birthday (thank you, very much), I'll not be taking the day off, but rather working on pages for my Jungle Tales of Tarzan story -- which is due very shortly. I'll throw some favorite movies in the DVD/Blu-ray player and knock back a couple LaMars donuts to celebrate my advancing age....

Friday, January 10, 2014

Rex Week Two: Breakfast of Champions

Another color/B&W comparison -- and a tip of the hat to the guy who was here before me....

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Rex Week Two: Thursday -- and a Tarzan preview

Color/B&W comparisons continue (for a few more days). It's a big day for the strip, as I introduce my version of Sarah. While I'm still refining June's look here, I purposely reworked Sarah a bit. Having youngsters in the home, I used what I see in my own kids (and their friends at preschool) to redefine her look. Lots of photo reference for the dog!

Comics Kingdom commenters seem split on liking the new Sarah and still crabbing about my art in general. Geez, folks, no points for the dog? Yeesh....

I have a tight deadline looming (day's end, Sunday) for my entry in the upcoming Jungle Tales of Tarzan graphic novel anthology from Dark Horse. Had to skip drawing both Rex and Phantom this week to stay on track, and will be doubling my workload on both strips to get back on schedule with them come next week (yikes!) -- but that's the life of a freelancer.

Here's an itty bitty teaser of four of the twelve pages of The Lion, adapted by Martin Powell from the Edgar Rice Burroughs story. Shown small here so you can get a hint of it, but not read it. C'mon -- we want you to buy the book, y'know! Color palette sampled from vintage comics to evoke a certain nostalgic response. Copyright, trademark and all rights reserved by ERB, Inc. and all that jazz.

Time to hit the drawing board -- I probably need to ink three Tarzan pages today to keep up. Kreegah!!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Rex Week Two: Wednesday!

Today's strip may be my favorite Rex daily so far. I shot a screen cap of the digital pencils in progress, so have included that here. Quite a bit of drawing with the gray tone in the B&W version. The color strip as published has an unfortunate error in the last panel -- June's pink bathrobe from panel one is suddenly green -- causing some confusion, I'm sure, for readers. I fixed it here, so at least my blog followers will see it as it should be. Posting this in the wee hours, as I've been up working on Tarzan comic book (excuse me -- graphic novel) pages. 4 of 12 done -- the rest in various stages....

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Phantom and Rex Morgan work in progress pics

I'd forgotten I'd snapped a few screen shots of recent work in progress -- so, just stumbling upon them now, thought I'd share. I work on three Rex dailies at a time -- though only two will fill the screen at once -- so here's a pic of the first two dailies in early stages -- and the first two from this week, as well. You'll note that, in today's strip, I swapped out the medium shot of June in panel one for a closer view -- and re-inked portions of the close up in panel two before I was done. (See today's previous blog post for the final version of today's comic.)

And so you Phantom fans don't feel left out -- here's a recent Sunday page at an early stage of production. A reminder that all you're seeing here is digital -- done using Manga Studio on my MacBook Pro -- using a Wacom tablet and stylus.

Rex Week Two -- Tuesday

More color/B&W comparison. Not much to add today -- though I will say the vitriol in the comments at Comics Kingdom today has, thankfully, taken a decided downturn (as of 9AM at least). Nobody's said they're thrilled with my art yet -- but they're mostly concerned with discussing the story - which is as it should be. Ideally, I don't want them even thinking about the art -- the function of which is to tell the story. I want them to read the strip and think about the characters and story -- that's the goal. Hmm... I guess I did have something to say....

Monday, January 6, 2014

Rex Morgan week two -- and a few comments

My second week of Rex Morgan strips began today -- and for just one more week, I'll do daily posts comparing the color and B&W versions of the strip. After this week runs its course, I'll just post the full week's worth of the B&W version, as one post, after they've all run in the papers -- on Saturday or Sunday. For those wanting to read the strip regularly, I still recommend the official King Features Comics Kingdom website. Though I suggest skipping over the comments -- they're mostly quite unpleasant, and I, for one, hope they don't reflect the real readership of the strip. 

That said, a few of the complainers found their way here and posted derogatory comments regarding my artwork on the strip. I deleted those complaints. King Features allows negative comments on their website -- but this is my personal blog, and I simply won't have it. My house -- my rules. I don't come to your house and sling mud -- so please don't sling mud in mine.

I take my work on Rex very seriously, and am giving it everything I have -- even while fighting a vicious case of bronchitis, as I have been for over a week now (yes, I've seen a doctor, I'm on meds, etc.) Any new artist coming on to the strip would have an adjustment period in which the character designs will shift -- some more than others. That happened to me on The Phantom as well -- it just took a little while for "my" Phantom to emerge.  The same natural process is happening with Rex -- and just as it took readers a while to accept the change in style from Tony DiPreta's work when Graham Nolan came on board, it's going to take a while for some folks to accept me. I'm okay with that. 

Some have suggested that I should have taken more time to practice drawing the characters before taking over the art. That's a lovely idea, in theory  -- but in reality, I was hired to draw the strip -- and then -- had to start drawing the strip. There was no great block of time beforehand for me to "warm up." It's the nature of newspaper strips that they have to be done and delivered no matter how tight the deadline. And I had to hit the ground running here to keep things on schedule. 

Again, I'm giving Rex all I can give, and am working very hard to make it the best strip it can be. With thirty years of comic book work under my belt and a lifelong dream to draw a daily strip finally a reality-- this is no joke to me. If you simply don't like my drawing style -- I can't help that  -- but I assure you I am sincere about the work.

That said, here is Monday's strip.

For those wondering what's happened to The Phantom -- well, of course I'm still drawing the strip -- I'm just not posting all the Sundays here anymore. Now that the Comics Kingdom site is showing the complete "half page format" strip -- as I draw it -- you may as well go directly there.  The latest strip begins a flashback to a tale of the 5th Phantom -- lots of swashbuckling pirate action in this one!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

REX Day Six -- and no Sunday

The last strip from my first week of Rex Morgan, M.D. My apologies for not having this up yesterday. We had internet issues all day -- only fixed this morning. A sparing use of tone in this strip from Saturday. I think June is looking more herself in the final panel, though we still got complaints about this one. I think we're just going to get some griping no matter what. 

Here's one example of why I don't take the complaints to heart, though -- one reader was very upset that I'm drawing Rex with a cleft chin -- as if that was something I'd just brought to the character -- when in fact, Rex has had that chin dimple from the very beginning of the feature -- and all the way through Graham Nolan's run!

One color goof here -- bed colored as if it is June's arm -- June's arm left white. Eh -- mistakes happen.

I have no Sunday strip to post today, as Graham's last strip is running -- so if you want to see what's happening with Rex and June and the ice cream, stop by the Comics Kingdom page to read today's strip.

Next week: more with Rex and June -- and Sarah.

Friday, January 3, 2014

REX Day Five

Continuing the color/B&W comparisons on the daily strips. Again -- not much tone work on this one -- just some background fill. I'm happier with June here, though I'm still not "there" yet. Kelly's looking a little too old, and I'll adjust that next time she shows up in the strip. 

I don't know if anyone has really noticed, but I made sure to use the same lettering font Graham had been using (WildWords from Comicraft) -- and have continued his use of the single pointer line from the balloons, so despite the switch in artists, some things about the "look" of the strip would stay consistent. More tomorrow -- for now, I have to hit the drawing board and make some serious progress on my Jungle Tales of Tarzan story. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

REX Day Four

More color/B&W comparisons. Not a great deal of tone work on the B&W version this time. 

The Anti-Terry Brigade over in the comments section on Comics Kingdom are all wigging out over the close-up of June in the third panel -- hating how she looks, of course, and calling for my head. Well, surprise folks -- I'm not really happy with that one, either. 

It's my first week -- I'm still finding my footing here. The characters don't quite look how I want them to yet. I'm trying to find a balance between Graham's version and something that suits my drawing style -- and June has been the most difficult of the bunch to get a handle on. I'd have loved to have reworked this over and over until it was dead on --but with newspaper strip deadlines being what they are, sometimes you just have to move on to the next one. 

Rex, I'm basing off of Graham's design -- with some of the look from the  Bradley/Edgington days thrown in. Sarah, I'm reworking a bit. With two preschoolers in the home, I'm able to observe kids a lot, and that's coming in very handy when drawing that "amazing little girl."

I know I've gotten a lot of great response on facebook and here on my blog. There have even been a few positive comments on Comics Kingdom.  The trolls who post nasty stuff there aren't really fans of the strip -- just folks who get their jollies posting nasty stuff. Real Rex fans will, I hope, give me a few weeks to iron out the kinks and hit my stride. I honestly do enjoy drawing this feature-- and am sincere about making it the best it can be -- I trust they'll see that eventually. In the meantime, I'll duck when the brickbats are thrown.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

REX Day Three

Happy New Year, everyone! Here's hoping 2014 will be wonderful!

More color/B&W strip comparisons -- my third daily strip.