Normal Life?

(Originally posted today at Patreon. There are a TON of posts that I’ve not gotten around to posting over to this site – please feel free to go check them out, if you’re into that! I’ll be better about updating the free-to-read posts here as well!)

My life has been topsy-turvy lately, but I’m getting closer to normal (for whatever that means!) I wanted to share with you where I’m at on our Typodmary comic books, because that’s why we’re all here, right?

I also need to be able to remind myself where I’m at, and know that I’ve been making progress, even if it seems I haven’t. So, to that end, some reminders as to where we are at this moment in time!

Era of Great Wonders:

I’ve been getting really detailed with the backgrounds in Era, but I think I’m getting really close (for yet another given value of that word!) I may end up using simplified backgrounds for the inside of Eoin’s apartment (like the one directly above, where he’s trying to sleep on the couch) to help differentiate the chaos of the outside world, vs the stability he’s trying to provide his children.

And the updates we’ve all been waiting for, All the Growing Things! I’ve been tinkering away in the my “spare” time (usually when I should be working on other commission work) and adding pages and moving things around.

The first and second page are copies because I’m trying to figure out the layout for the printed book – I think I’m going to have a different page 1 than the one here, something that will work as a nice “splash page” for folks that just pick up the comic without picking up the other comics.

I’ve really been struggling with the pages where Texy starts to remember things, and his memory starts to bleed through: the first set of pages 6-12 you’ll see below. I want to really hit home the fact that Texy and the people he sees in those panels are all reincarnations of people he’s… um… “wronged” or at least, been tied-up with for the past couple millennia!

I also included pages 1-8 of the NEXT  issue of All the Growing Things (although 7 and 8 look pretty blank!) but I want to show everyone that Maude is coming back, and she’s coming back with a vengeance!

I have a bunch of photos I’ve taken of my painting for the Dr. Strangelove piece, but I want to wait until after the art show on Friday to show everyone the “final product” (by which I mean, art hanging in a public space!) and the changes and problems I had with that piece.

For closers today, I wanted to show you the drawing I was working on last night, for our Pen & Stylus reboot podcast:

We’re going to be re-doing the way we do the podcast, where instead of doing a live google/youtube hangout and having you all suffer through our rambling, we’re going to edit things down, maybe even have theme music from the Creative Commons world, and basically, try to step up our game! I can’t wait to see how the new episodes come out, and I guarantee that I’ll share those links with you once we figure out what we’re doing!

That’s it for now, I hope to update more frequently now that the worst of my deadlines are over, and comic convention season is almost over! Thank you all for your patience!



posted in: comics, Era of Great Wonders, Patreon | 0

Hey! So I chatted with my Patreon supporters, and they’re all cool with me sharing my patreon-only blog with everyone! So I’m going to catch you all up here, and then when that’s all done, I’ll start updating things here as I post them there. (If that makes any sense?)

This was originally published August 13th, 2015:

#18 More and More Frogs

I *think* this is where I left you all last time:

I’d spent so much of my time on the middle panel, and had to force myself through to finishing the other panels on the first page. Most of the bottom panels were done, and it was just a matter of drawing the character running out the door in the (middle bottom panel) as well as the background. I ended up filling in the bottom right panel with a black background (see below) and then after doing that, I wanted to balance the black on the page, so I did a silhouette on the fist panel. (I will honestly use silhouettes given the slightest provocation. They save so much time when you’re drawing!)

I spent WAY too much time yesterday drawing the panel in the upper right hand corner. Below you can see a close up of what I did with it. Each of the three upper panels has more and more frogs, until I lost count with the upper right panel.

(Twelve. I just counted them, and there are twelve frogs. Mind you, it’s the one you *don’t* see that gets you!)

I then called it done, posted the page to the website, and started working on the facing page. I’d already drawn the middle panel, with Sgt. Smythe’s face really big, so I started with the detail heavy bottom panel.

I knew that I wanted to have it sort of separated from the other panels, without a border, but I hated the way the last scene of the Pangean Book store came out, where I tried cross hatching:

(Ugh, so awful!)

So I tried instead to go as “border-less” as possible:

I had to put in a thin border for the night sky, or else I would have either flooded the page with black ink (not a bad idea, now that I think about it, but then I’d have to go back and retroactively flood all the pages with black ink to make the whole scene cohesive. I try to keep the page boarders similar in style for each mini-chapter.)

I did a little bit of copy-and-paste with the car wreckage, but I think I was subtle enough with it that it doesn’t stand out. then I drew in boxes for the other stores and their windows, and moved on to penciling the upper panel, with the three survivors:

I’ll be finishing the upper panel today. It’ll be an interesting challenge to blend both details and heavy shadows (to help balance out the bottom panel) – we’ll see later if I succeed!


What I’ve been upto

Sorry about the silences on the site, it’s one of those deals where I’m really not paying as much attention to time as I should be.

I’ve been sketching and doing layouts for the next issue of Era of Great Wonders, and then I got distracted drawing and inking pages that are at the end of the next issue without bothering to finish the ones in between! I’m a bit of an organizational mess right now! Still, I have stuff to share with you:

This is me drawing page 32 of issue 4 (or maybe 5… having 40+ pages in ONE comic seems a bit extreme, so we’ll see where it ends up when it’s all said and done.)

In order to keep the video under 4 hours, I’ve sped it up 16x so it goes pretty quickly. One of these days I’d like to do a more “true to how slow I draw” video, where you can see exactly how much time I spend drawing and erasing, then redrawing and re-erasing things. I wanted to show just how much I mess up, because I think it’s important to show that pages don’t come out perfect from the get go.

Not that they ever come out perfect, but there are some pages I complain about less than others! Which is a sort of perfection!

I’ve also been trying to come up with a shirt design for All the Growing Things.

I want something that says “Monsters and Garden Society” or, “Urban Gardening and Monster Hunting” or something that implies a bunch of old ladies sitting around, drinking tea, and fighting monsters. I just can’t seem to get the wording right. I feel strongly that if I could find the right words, the art will fall in line, but I’ve been struggling. Instead, I’ve been looking at a lot of Mucha’s art, and am thinking maybe I’ll just with something along those lines.


She started out as Matilda (or Young Maude as she’s sometimes called) but I’m thinking this might be another gardener, who is maybe also dealing with the same monster infestation! Who knows? I like the idea of doing a couple different designs with different women in the design. Maybe even a dude or two. Print On Demand is an amazing thing these days!

Tomorrow Pen and Stylus will be doing another show at 8:30pm (or more likely, 9:00pm) MST where we will all be showing our responses to Ben’s Random Character Generator. Tomorrow’s subject will be “Male Alien Heavy Weapon’s Expert”.

I’ll be showing how I drew this, as well as probably talking about why I drew a worm-alien. Spoilers: It’s because I received a worm composter for my birthday, and I haven’t shut up about it since!


Alright, later alligators! I need to get some more pages of Era done so I can at least pretend I’m going to make my deadlines and start uploading to the webcomic!


posted in: comics, Era of Great Wonders | 2

I finished working on the cover for Era of Great Wonders, issue #4 yesterday.

Shortly after finishing it, (and it took FOREVER to get all those little buildings colored in the way I wanted them!) I realized I’d originally planned on going with the autopsy notes as the cover for number 4.

Now I’m all kinds of confused because I think the city scene works better with the other covers, at least thematically, but there’s something striking about the autopsy notes. Perhaps the autopsy notes should be saved for when I collect the first five issues into a book? I don’t know.

SUPER indecisive right now.

Thematically a better choice...
Thematically a better choice…
...I keep leaning towards this one.
…but I keep leaning towards this one.
A blue version.
A blue version.

Wrecked Cars

posted in: Art Making, Era of Great Wonders | 10

So I just posted a new chapter cover for Era of Great Wonders, and I was talking to a friend how I put it all together. Depending on your point of view when it comes to these things, I’m either a big fluffy cheater-cheater, or I’m just using references.

A note on references: in art class, it’s not uncommon to use a projector to cast an image onto a canvas and then paint it from there. In comic book circles, this is called “tracing,” and is a bit of a dirty word. What is considered okay to do in fine art is considered tacky and talentless in the illustrator world.

Luckily for me: I stand in both worlds, and don’t really worry about these things too much. (I mean, I do, but only a little.) Also, I have no illusions as to my inability to draw cars. I’m terrible at them.

I used these two references to create this art:

I googled "broken tank"
I googled “broken tank”

and for the cars

I searched for "car pile up"
I searched for “car pile up”

I copied these two images into Manga Studio, and then traced bits and pieces of them. I didn’t want all the details, and I didn’t quite like the “modern” shape of the cars, so in many places I made them curvier and/or boxier – I wanted something that looked like it could have been from 60’s or 80’s in there.

I ended up with these pencils:

Pretty sparse pencils
Pretty sparse pencils

Again, I just really wanted the basic “shapes” of the cars to help with perspective. Also, I wanted to figure out where to put in wheels and lights and things like that. I then deleted the source images from the file because I didn’t want them to influence the “details” stage of the drawing. (Also known as “inking.”)

While inking the image I didn’t worry about getting the lines straight. In fact, letting them wiggle a bit and veer off into wrong angles helped create an illusion of wreckage and bent metal. I don’t have any screen shots showing the inking process, but I started with the tank wheels (and I googled “tank wheels” to see what they looked like. I only looked though, because I didn’t want to get them too perfect.) Then I followed various lines to create shadows.

I really wanted a “bent metal” effect and was really pleased by how it looks like parts of the tank’s top are “peeled” open and showing the insides of the tank. That was all pure luck, but I went with it, and I think it worked.

Finished Inks
Finished Inks

I know it looks like I jumped from really rough pencils to a finished image, but I sort of did. I’ve been drawing a lot of wreckage these days, and I’ve developed a sort of “short hand” for it. It doesn’t hold up if you really LOOK at the drawing, you’ll notice I have angles off, proportions (even with references) are off, and defining shadows aren’t necessarily there.

A lot of what you see in the finished inks is this short hand. Anywhere I could add a “plate” of warped metal, or a squiggly dent in a car, I did. “Tires” are pretty readable, so I threw a lot of those in, or I would put them near areas where I thought it would read as if they’d been “ripped off” the hub. I also added spiderweb/cracked glass in all the windows that were still “intact” (as in, I didn’t draw the interiors of the cars, and I didn’t want to do anymore than I had to.)

Someday I really will show my method of drawing from crappy sketches to finished art, but that requires more planning than I’ve yet done.

I’m just not there yet.

Era branding

I’m still not done with it, and it’s kind of hard to read, but I’ve been working on the Era website.  I split the cover of the second book and added a top background image and a bottom background image. I’m going to mess around with it and later draw two monsters facing off over a city scape, but for now, this is where I’m at with placeholders.

Also! I got back from the printer, and we have TONS of comics ready for A.C.E. and other comic conventions!

Including TWO issues of Era of Great Wonders for people that like reading print!

(I really wanted to take a photo, but I keep shaking too much and need to have better light and a camera stand to do that. Until tomorrow when I edit this post, just use your imagination and think up a REALLY awesome couple of books. Then it’ll be just like being here!)

[edited 6/27 to add photo:]
Fresh Off the Press!
Fresh Off the Press!

I’m both crazy nervous for this weekend, and excited. I’m going to try to go to bed now, but if tonight is going to be anything like the past week, it just means I’m going to stare at the ceiling fan for the next four hours while trying to use the power of my mind to force myself asleep.

(Spoilers: it never works.)

Captain Pangaea – WIP

posted in: Art Making, Era of Great Wonders | 0

This’ll be posted in a finished state later in the day at the Era of Great Wonders site, but for now, this is where I’m at. Sometimes I enjoy the half finished art better than the finished art, but sometimes, the finished stuff isn’t so bad. I have a feeling that this is going to be the rare piece that I’ll really like both ways.

If you look closely, you can see that I’ve adopted the “dot” technique that I used for Maya on the good Capt’n.


Fun fact: I used my maiden name, and John’s mom’s maiden name for the artist/author credits on this piece! I think they look nice together. Maybe for our 25th anniversary (or any nice “round” number) we can change our last names back. Or maybe I’ll take his mom’s and he can take my old name! That’d be bizarre-yet-neat!

Or maybe after the 10 year mark, we can both switch to another name, and then 10 years after that, switch to yet another! That’d be super fun for the NSA I imagine!

A Puzzling Habit

posted in: Art Making, Era of Great Wonders | 2

Yesterday, while thinking Deep Thoughts and working diligently on my comic art load, I started thinking about puzzle books, and how badly I’ve wanted to make one for a few years now. Honestly, I’ve wanted to make one ever since I saw Ben “Neb” Girven’s Stomping Ground Activity Book that he made.

I’ve been a fan of logic puzzles ever since I first discovered them, even thought I’m not the best at most of them. I don’t really care for things that are too “mathy” because I always feel like I’m being tricked into school work. But the other types of puzzles? The ones where everything is written out and you just have to follow the clues and pay attention? Or even better yet, the ones with hidden codes that you crack to find out hidden information? Those always made me feel like a Super Seekret Spy kid, and I loved them!

So, even though I’m behind on all four comics*  and two prose stories** as well as a comic script for a friend*** as well as a few other projects (doing character design for alien plants springs to mind) I decided yesterday at 3:30 to spend the next seven hours working on a puzzle book, set in the world of Era of Great wonders.

What does seven hours of non-stop work get you these days? Not as much as you’d expect. A few hours in I did find a really great site that helps do the heavy grunt work when it comes to designing things like crosswords and mazes. The mazes weren’t quite what I was looking for though, so I’ll be drawing those from hand. I want something more organic and feeling, that looks like a path through a destroyed city.

Seven hours also gave me enough time to lay down the bare bones of the story: you help Amelia, a young girl, find her way through the torn up city-state of Pangaea as she searches for her missing family. She has to solve a series of logic puzzles in order to build up enough clues to solve a logic grid puzzle that will tell her where her family is, and who they are with (whether they’re with good guys or bad guys.) The more puzzles the reader completes, the more clues Amelia has to work with.

I am hoping that I can get done with my comic work early enough today that I can get a little deeper into some of the riddles and clues, and still actually make it to my aikdio class later tonight. (I totally missed classes last night – I sort of “woke up” from my work around 7:15pm, and realized that even if I did rush down to class, I would get there as it was ending. Super embarrassing.)

But I have no idea why I do this to myself, why I can’t just sit and see one project through all the way, and then start the next, like a sort of artistic clockwork. Instead I sort of hover around from one project to another, working on them all at once, and it never seems like I make any progress (and yet, I am always creating stuff!)


* Growing Things, Era, Vagus, and I’ve been wanting to clean up Namio and get it up and running

** One of which is a smutty follow up to a story that will be published in January, and another which is NOT smutty in anyway, shape, or form

*** Something in the vein of Blade Runner, except I’m drawing a blank and really want to write a love story between two soldiers in a futuristic war torn world. Maybe I’ll write that, and then write the Blade Runner thing? See? This is how I get into trouble!

And for My Next Trick…

posted in: comics, Era of Great Wonders | 0

I am sort of scrabbling around my office, trying to figure out where I put everything (this is normal every time I clean my studio… thankfully it only happens every six months or so…) and I’m fairly certain I have lost the script for Era of Great Wonders. I mean, I’m sure it’s here somewhere, and that it’s in a perfectly logical place for it to be… but as of right now, I am clueless.

It’s not a terribly big deal because I have a digital copy, and since I NEVER organize my files, I know exactly where it is. Well, I mean, I’m pretty sure I know where it is. But the point is that sometimes it’s nice to have the printed, coffee-stained, annotated hard copy as well.

I’m also getting ready to start issue two of the book, and I’ve chopped my manga studio files apart to reflect this. I don’t know if it’s me, my computer, or Manga Studio, but we only get along if we do things in 30 page chunks. Trying to create a whole book seems to cause it all to choke and grind to a shuddering halt. So now I’m confronted with opening a file and seeing all the blank pages. Things get a little intimidating, even though I know I already have 30+ pages of this book under my belt.

I am leaning heavily to also releasing these comics issue by issue, even though I’m more of a “Trade Paperback” girl… but I think I’m finally starting to realize that not everyone shares my love of giant bookshelves covered in strange and obscure comic book trades. I use the term “comic book” interchangeably between issues and trade books, and the other day John told me that “It’s not a comic book, it’s a ‘graphic novel!'”

I’m fairly certain he was joking though because he was using his funny voice when he said it. You know; the funny voice.

Okay. Enough procrastinating, time to get back to work and continue begging and pleading with Manga Studio!

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