Writing Blog Tour

I was contacted the other week by the indomitable Laura Terry, cartoonist extraordinaire, and stand-up lady!  I have had the considerable luck to know and work with Laura over the past six years.  We've tabled together, and had beaucoup adventures.  Her watercolors and color theory are second to none!  I cannot recommend her work enough!  

Needless to say, when Laura asked me if I would like to take a stab at an artists' writing blog tour, I was all too eager!  I have to admit that writing has become a very strange step in the process of me creating work, and is often intertwined with drawing.

What am I working on?
Unfortunately, a couple of the things I'm working on are pretty hush hush.  Man oh man, I wish we could talk about some of the things that are going down in Jon Town, but alas, rules are rules.  I'm going to take a step back from what I am working on currently to talk about a project that I did some work on in the spring, MEZMER.

MEZMER is a science fiction story that borrows a lot from manga and anime that I was into in high school.  It alternates between action sequences where the denizens of MEZMER show their strength, grand speeches where characters express their intentions unabated, and displays of friendship.
How does your writing process work?
First,  when I sat down to write a space epic, I wanted it to be character driven.  Before I even wrote one work of MEZMER, I figured out who the principle players were going to be, and what their defining traits were going to be.  Once that was done, the MEZMER writing took the form of a series of free-writing exercises.

I would let images form in my head of things that the characters would do, and what they would say, and some details of how the world would react around them.  These chunks of writing become sequences in MEZMER that can vary from 4 to 24 pages.  When I've written a sequence that I like, and one that I feel fits in the larger narrative of MEZMER, I would work it into thumbnail form.

(Great Speech)

On the other side of this process are the great speeches.  One of the goals that I'm striving for with this project is the idea that I should not limit myself to one type of story-telling.  Some sequences in MEZMER are not as linear as simply illustrating them as they happen.  The great speeches are used to give insight into a character, but also to extrapolate on events and relationships that happen around that story.  There are many events that I want to see happen along the MEZMER timeline, but they are not sequences that I want to draw, necessarily.  For example, (and I know this is going to sound like gobbledy) in MEZMER, one of the main characters is the son of the empress of the galaxy.  I wanted the empress to get in contact with a group of peace-keepers called the Moon Elders.  Since I had no interest in drawing a straight-up phone conversation, I simply let the writing continue to exist as prose.

Why do I write what I do?
My main point of inspiration for MEZMER is the genre of Japanese special effect television called Tokusatsu.  Think Power Rangers and Godzilla.  Some of the underlying themes that reoccur in Tokusatsu are the ideas, "where does strength come from?  what does it mean to be strong?  must we live though hardship to achieve happiness?I've found these questions really resonates with me at this point in my life.  One of the bigger life epiphanies that I've had in the past year is that life is not a linear set of events, but an unbelievable tangle of responsibilities, perceptions, and relationships.

I use MEZMER as a medium to explore the idea of strength, and how people use it not only in a physical show of power, but how people also use it to decipher the great labyrinth of life, move on past loss and grief, and maintain connections.  Someone once said after reading MEZMER that it felt like two action figures being banged together, and that's fine too.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I would like to think that MEZMER delineates itself from other sci-fi work through the disjointed and varied nature of the narrative.  I've found the approach of switching up how I present narrative to be refreshing as a creator, but it also feels more apropos to the multi-sensory experience of life.

One writing troupe that I come to again and again is that I make the reader really work to figure out who is the villain.  MEZMER is not populated with many innocents, and I enjoy leaving the reader to figure out which character has, at least, the most alligned moral compass.

PHEW!  Well, that's all from me for now!  New week, check out these, wonderful creators that I look up to, and what they are currently working on!  Stephanie Zuppo is a senior at the Center for Cartton Studies that I have had that extreme pleasure of having in classroom!  She's a beautiful draftsman.  Adrienne Nunez is a designer and cartoonist living in Massachusetts, who has taught me more about eBooks than anyone else!



Phew, did everyone survive the Ides of March?  All I know is that THIS JC always watches his back!  My friends try to invite me to the senate house, and I give them a firm NO.  They'd have to get up much earlier in the morning to pull one over ol' Jon Chad!!

Anyway, I was poking through some of the Leo Geo illustrations that I colored for practice before I started coloring Leo Geo and the Cosmic Crisis, and I found this bookmark that I made.  I am REALLY into the lettering.  Separately, I like cutting away at lettering, and doubling up lettering, so doing both is like a dream come true!


Under the Sea

I found this colored pencil drawing that I did back in the summer.  Leo would have the best time underwater.  I'm sure that at first he would be resistant to the idea, but once he got to the bottom and starting snooping around underground fissures, he would be in Leo Geo heaven!
Just like space, there's a real freedom as to what you can draw in an DEEP sea environment.  We've already found so many wild varieties of creatures, WHO KNOWS what's down there : )


Spot the Difference

I was going through the archives of Leo Geo and the Cosmic Crisis images, and I found these two that are a sample of the SAME page on the Matt Data side of the book!  The first is from the sample spread I made when I was pitching the book.  The second is from the final book.  There is SO MUCH that's different about these two!  I had no idea how I was going to render stars...I ended up rendering portals differently...and there's a giraffe with money in the final version!

I really liked that mischievous alien making faces at the astronaut, so I ended up putting him in several point throughout the book.



This was the banner on my Facebook page for a while.  In my mind, it's sort of a prequel scene to Leo Geo and the Cosmic Crisis where Waruda breaks the Bad Bros out of prison.  I'd like to think that they are particularly feisty in Leo Geo and the Cosmic Crisis, and that must have come from their new found freedom!


More posts coming!

The radio silence is OVAH!  I'm trying my darnedest to get back on track with posting.  I find that I work best when I set them up ahead of time.  Meanwhile, things are going about par here at CCS.  The first years finished their first BIG project of the semester two weeks ago, and we're all settling back into some semblence of normalcy!  I am about to start two new projects that are REALLY exciting, like, projects that DEFINE me.  I can't talk about it now though, so enjoy some other illustrations!



On this, CYBER MONDAY, the newest and most exciting of online shopping holidays, consider picking up my newest book Leo Geo and the Cosmic Crisis!  It's the perfect gift for any child (or adult for that matter) who loves science and is interested in book interaction being part of the narrative!  Of course, I'm WAY biased, but I thought I would spread the good word!  I'm not coming here empty-handed, though!  Look!

If only I could make this a real side-scrolling shooter!!  All joking aside, games like R-Type, Gradius, and Star Fox were very inspirational to me when I was putting down the groundwork for this book!  Games like that were doing the things I was interested in (creating continuous visual canvases) WAY before I even dreamed about it!