Friday, May 27, 2016

Let's all pray for Tom. A bonus update from Keith

Hey everybody, Keith here. I'll be playing the roll of the beloved Mr. Nguyen this morning for our weekly update. Our plucky little pal Tom has a debilitating neck injury; not sure how he suffered it but I'm told it's very painful and he can barely move.

So, long story short, while I play substitute blog hero, Tom is somewhere in Minnesota getting x-rays and MRI's and trying to figure out why his nubile young Vietnamese body is failing him.

I guess there's a segue here into how this comic-book lifestyle can take a toll on the spine. I know a lot of guys in this field who suffer from back and neck issues after a couple of decades hunched over their drawing boards. I have some minor recurring problems with lower back/sciatic nerve pain myself, nothing major but I now have the angle of my drafting table adjusted almost vertically so I don't have to lean over as much. Everything falls on the floor all the time but it's better than that sharp ache at the base of my spine.

Anyway, who would think that sitting still all day could take a toll?  Just goes to show you, no one is safe!

I didn't have anything planned to show this week so I scrambled a bit and scraped together some stuff. I mentioned in last week's post that I usually draw a rough layout of every page as part of my writing process so I wondered if you guys might enjoy comparing my original rough to the page of script to Tom's layout for the same page. I'm not sure you'll be able to tell heads or tails from my layout, they're pretty quick and crudely drawn but I always find it fascinating to see how what I have pictured in my mind is interpreted by someone else's imagination. So layout. This is for page 3 of The Switch.

 And now...the page of script.


Cut to the interior of a demolished BANK. Lots of overturned desks, office furniture, scattered paperwork, chairs. It should look like there was a super-powered BATTLE in here.

Because there was.

Electricia is sliding through the debris like a shark in shallow water. It's dark in here; she's the light source. All shadows cast from her.

ELECTRICIA: Siiiiidekick...


Electricia flips over a nearby desk. Nothing underneath it.

ELECTRICIA: Don't make it harder for me to FIND you, kid.


Electricia unleashes a massively powerful, double-barreled blast of energy, disintegrating pretty much everything in front of her.



In the aftermath of Electricia's blast, there's now a LARGE, JAGGED SMOKING HOLE in the middle of the floor. The hint of a dark sub-basement below.

She's noticing it.

ELECTRICIA: I turn into a TOTAL bitch when I miss my shows.


Close on Electricia's lips, smirking.


And finally, Tom's layout:

So there you have it. I think if you scroll up and down, you'll see some interesting differences.

That about wraps it up for this week. Hopefully, Tom will be back up to speed and will take over the production blog next week. There's just no replacing him!

We'll keep you updated, thanks!


Friday, May 20, 2016

Some odds and ends from Keith

For this week's update, I thought I'd hit you guys with a few different tidbits, various production stuff, as well as some train of thought behind this whole mess. So...first up? A bit of my writing process:

So basically, every time I write a new project, I buy a new notebook for it. Over the course of producing that project, said notebook gets filled with various scribblings, doodles, and assorted chicken scratches that eventually congeal into the script. So what you're looking at here are some thumbnails as I work out the pacing for a scene (I'm not worried about spoilers here because I can barely even ready my own handwriting. Plus, it's a comic book. If you figure it out ahead of time, it's not like the world is going to stop spinning.)

Anyway, as I work out a scene, I'll break it down in terms of panel count per page and just enough of a description to remind myself what I was thinking at the time. The step after this is to draw a rough layout to block the scene and make sure it all works. And after that, when all the problems are solved, I'll sit down and type it out.

Do I do this 100% of the time? Nope. Sometimes I just sit down at the keyboard and wing it. But I find that when I have the luxury of time, a little thought goes a long way in avoiding problems down the stretch.

Moving on...

This is a rough character design for GREASETRAP (the blob of grease that walks like a man). It's a member of Murderer's Row. In terms of design, it's just enough for Tom to work from without hamstringing him and, hopefully, the five minutes I took to rough it out saves him a couple of hours of figuring out what I'm looking for. Teamwork for the win!

So yeah, corpulent, greasy, disgusting and full of air bubbles. That's our guy.

I gave it perfect, clean tighty whiteys just to amuse myself.

And look! It's a crappy cell phone pic/sneak peek of Tom's pencils/inks from page one!

This week, I officially started lettering the book. More like I've started TRYING to letter the book. It's a pretty slow process right now because I have no idea how to letter in Illustrator. So I go back and forth from my computer to my reference books and slowly muddle it out. I think about five pages from now, I'll have a much better idea how to use the software and the speed will pick up.I have a bit of anxiety about lettering right now but it'll all work out. Once the balloons and dialogue are slapped down, I'll flat color this page in Photoshop and send it back to Tom for finished color.

And that's your look at the glamorous, behind-the-scenes production of The Switch for this week. I wonder what Tom will surprise us with next Friday? Not even I know, let's all find out together!

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Update from Nashville, TN (Tom)

Hello again.  I'm posting from fairly hot and humid Nashville (my first time here) since I have Fanboy Expo to do this weekend.   So first of all, you all should come and see me here at the fairgrounds.  I will actually have some Switch prints with me to sign/sell! ;)

For this Switch update, I'll post a few sneak pencils that I've been working on here on my Surface Pro 2.  The first batch of pages are at home since they are original page giveaways to some backers.  As usual with my other work, if I'm away from the drawing table, then I will draw on my Surface Pro, which greatly aids in being productive.

That said, here are some more non spoiler art sneak peeks of our girl Electricia and Lover Boy:

Next week I'll throw up some sneak peek inks and maybe even colors.  Back to work..!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Lunch break update! (Keith)

I know, I know...Tom and I have gotten in the habit of updating this blog on Fridays but, y'know, that doesn't mean we can't also add content on other days. So while I've got a few extra minutes on my lunch break...surprise!

(Also, I've got a little writer's block at the moment that I need to work through so this is me being productive in another way.)

I posted a little script excerpt on my social media the other day so I thought I'd share that again here. Here you go, out of context and slightly revised, with some of my thoughts afterwards...

This is the first time we're meeting a bunch of these characters to let's have a little roll call, shall we?

(continued next page)

THE MOSS, INTERSTELLAR, DR, HATE, and ELECTRICIA are here although our girl should be keeping pretty much to herself in a corner somewhere. She's looking pretty cranky; maybe needs her coffee.

We've also got some new characters milling about, most of whom still need to be designed. Why don't you group them as you see fit and I'll dialogue when I see how you've laid them out and have them interacting. Surprise me. Make me laugh.

NAGENGAST: The ghost of a German spy, female, armed with two ethereal knives.

OMERTA: A young Mexican woman, dressed in a black tank top and combat pants. Both of her arms from the elbows down have been replaced by matching shotguns. (I'll give you photo reference for this character, she's my cousin Maddy minus the shotguns).

GREASE TRAP: a human-size blob of grease that walks like a man. (Just be glad I chickened out of creating a character called Smegma.)

NASTY CAT: Think Catwoman after being stuck in a sewer for a year. Bonus points if you somehow have her harassing Dr. Hate.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: the current President of Russia.

WALKING FRED: Zombie crime boss in a tailored suit.

KOMODO: About a foot taller than Moss, a Godzilla-like creature based off of a Komodo dragon.

CROM: A mythological barbarian God. Barrel-chested, hairy, a broadsword as tall as he is.

SNOW: An Asian man dressed in simple white clothing. I'm not going to tell you his power right now, I'll spring it on you shortly.

So here's a little trivia. I draw little rough versions of every page in order to block the scene and keep track of where everything is while I'm writing. I don't really show these layouts to anyone, they're just part of my process. I'm making a conscious effort with The Switch to lighten up a bit and not micromanage every interaction between the different characters. Tom and I have worked together quite a bit, I trust his judgment and want to give him the freedom to 'act' the characters as he sees fit. 

As for the characters themselves, I'm mainly having fun, trying to create a diverse group of miscreants, and make myself laugh a bit along the way. Common sense 101: it's important to enjoy what you're writing; it's taken me years to learn that if I'm not having fun, readers probably aren't going to, either.

Here's another little excerpt, again presented out of context, just for this blog because we love you guys the best:

The second figure finishes materializing next to Lover Boy, who has a shit-eating grin plastered on his oily mug.

The second figure is @SOCIALWARRIOR: square jaw, ridiculously handsome, incredibly muscular. He's wearing light body armor, almost like a tight version of a NASCAR suit, and has a TWITTER LOGO on his chest where, say, Superman would have his 'S' insignia.

1- @SOCIALWARRIOR: Hey, everyone. Glad to be here.
2- BOY: This is THOMAS TRUMAN. Many of you know him as @SOCIAL WARRIOR. Some of you have even gone to JAIL because of him.
3- LOVER BOY: Today, he's OFFICIALLY switching SIDES.


Close on @socialwarrior. Smiling. Teeth white as pearls.

4- @SOCIALWARRIOR: I look forward to speaking with you all individually, making AMENDS where needed. But this is for REAL, people. I'm one of YOU now.
5- @SOCIALWARRIOR: To start, I'll be re-branding myself @ANTI-SOCIALWARRIOR and tagging #crimepays on my social media.
6- @SOCIALWARRIOR: I project forty-two MILLION of my followers will come along. My new persona should go VIRAL in an hour.

@socialwarrior is pretty much my favorite character in the book right now. I kinda wish the whole thing was about him. 

And finally, we had our very first Electricia cosplay! Super flattering that someone took the time to test out this look. Here is Tom's friend and cosplaying legend Kristina Rose in her first attempt to Switch it up! She looks great, right?!

It's still my week so I might post something else on Friday. See you soon!