Sunday, August 20, 2017

sunday update!

Hey everybody, welcome to a special Sunday edition of The Switch production blog! Of course, it's only a special Sunday edition because I screwed the pooch on Friday and didn't get this update posted until now. But hey, I'll try to redeem myself here.

This past week was a big one for me as my first issue of Superman (drawn by Switch alternate cover artist/Pencil God Doug Mahnke) arrived in stores last Wednesday. Superman is my all-time favorite 'corporate' character so it's been a genuine thrill to get to write him. The second part of the story ships in about 10 days and then the regular writers, our good pals Pete and Pat, will be back, and then I'll have another two-part story running before too long. Lots of fun for me!

But you didn't come here to read about Superman. You came for The Switch so here's what's going on. We dodged a real bullet with Tom's Surface Pro 2 debacle. Thankfully, he managed to find his computer because I'm really not sure how we'd have recovered from the loss of all those files. I get the chills just thinking about it.

Things are pretty intense here behind-the-scenes as we're closer than ever to finishing the art. Tom is working as hard as he can to get the book done, Rob is coloring up a storm and I'm jumping in right now to ink some pages to help drag us to the finish line a little faster. It's stressful but I've been stressed about this project since it started so I guess I'm used to it by now. Fingers are crossed that over the next update or two, you'll get a message letting you know we're done and the book is off to the printers.

Anyway, here's some sneak peeks...

Why is Switch murdering The Truth?!

Spoiler Alert: The Truth seems pretty dead on the floor behind Switch. 

The Moss has a funny way of saying he loves you.

What? The Jorge Jimenez variant cover to the next issue of Superman? How'd that get in here?

Thanks for reading, everyone, and for your support.
See you in five short days!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The End of The Switch

The above title could have two meanings:  1) that we're near the end as we're finally wrapping up by month's end; but really, it's closer to 2) that the project was nearly killed (at least possibly severely delayed) during a moment last Sunday in Texas.  In one sentence, I almost lost my beloved Surface Pro 2-- with all of my important work (including all of the hi-res Switch files) on it!!!  Some of you who follow my social media may have caught my brief posting about it, but allow me to show you several more pictures in detail, and then an explanation:

When I lost my Surface Pro 2, it was one unit.  We found it on the road in three pieces (thankfully said pieces are meant to be detachable!

The awesome FreedomCase cover (which functions as a multi-angle stand) broken....R.I.P.

A better view of the death of the FreedomCase cover

The Power keyboard (it's actually a second battery as well) for the Surface Pro 2 with battle scars 

The Surface Pro 2 itself all dinged up

Another look

Surprisingly, the front screen (with matte screen protector attached--more for the drawing feel than for protection) made it out with barely a scratch!

corner damage

It still functions!!
So let me quickly summarize:

After the Bell County Comic Con in Belton, Texas, artist pal Mostafa Moussa, cosplayer pal Priscilla, and I left the show to grab dinner.  Five minutes after driving, I realize that my Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is not on my person.  Panic erupts.  I knew and remember taking it out of the bag.  I had to have set it somewhere back at the convention.  So we turn around and drive all the way back to the Belton Expo Center.  We look around and ask around, even checked the Lost and Found (ha! sounds like rap lyrics).  With every security person or volunteer asked, the answer was "haven't seen it," and minute-by-minute my heart beats faster and forehead sweat intensifies.  Nothing, nada, zilch....  My first thought is that someone must have found it and kept it.  Stolen.  It doesn't matter that the tablet was locked; I don't even care if the thief was able to crack it and saw my non-existent porn folder.  It had my work and livelihood on there.

All of my important deadline art files were in that Surface.  I had a television project (due the next day, of course) and of course The Switch files I had been working on that are all due this month.  I know what you're thinking: did you back these files up, Tom?! No, I did not yet at that point.  I have an external drive that I carry and regularly back up files to, but I haven't backed these particular files to the cloud yet.  So spare me the lecture, I know, I know--!

I was ready to give up on life and my career.  How do I explain this mishap?  Should I just call my client/publisher and say, "Welp, I lost my computer that has all the work you need.  Later!"  Seriously, I felt like this was the end of The Switch, and I couldn't have felt more disgusted at that moment.

When Mostafa, Priscilla, and I called off the search and decided to leave, I had a last-second thought:  what if I had left the Surface Pro on top of the car and we drove off?  I'm ashamed to admit that it wouldn't have been the first time my absent-minded self left things on top of the car before driving off (i.e., my wallet once when I was in my 20s...).  But wouldn't we have noticed it when it flew off the car?  Or at least in the parking lot of the Expo when we all drove back to to look for it?  Surely the car couldn't have gotten that far before the little tablet computer succumbed to wind resistance whilst driving.

We drove slowly back out in the same way we did originally.  Mind you, I had little-to-no-hope at this point--but it was the only morsel of hope I had left before I completely threw in the towel.  Looking all around us as we passed though the sparse lot, we saw nothing resembling a computer on the ground as we exited.  And what if it did fall off?  Someone still could have stolen it, or there was a better chance that a vehicle could have run over it.

Leaving the Expo Center along the frontage road, I simply gave up. A few moments later Priscilla says, "Wait....I think I saw something dark on the side of the road back there..."  She said that she wasn't sure it was a computer and didn't want to get our hopes up, but it wouldn't hurt to go back and check.  So we circled around and repeated the path, but this time slowed down a bit.  Priscilla spots it again, and tells Mostafa to stop.  She gets out, and.....

FINDS THE KEYBOARD AND COVER!  But no tablet....oh, no!  Did someone beat us to it?  Maybe it got run over by a truck?  We look down the road a bit further....Priscilla sees another dark object about 30+ feet ahead of us, and runs toward it.  Mostafa and I drive to catch up to her, and we see her grabbing the dark slate and raising it up in the air in triumph and glee as she runs back to the car.  SHE FOUND MY MICROSOFT SURFACE PRO 2!!  But did it work?  All of the 3 pieces certainly didn't look like they would work anymore (see above photos).  As my two friends watched, I turned on the tablet....waited about 7 seconds....

...a truck drives right past us and honks at us, probably because we were so amped up on adrenaline and forgot that we just stopped in the lane without a care in the world.

...and the Surface Pro 2 turns on!!  I then attached the keyboard.....AND IT WORKS!  And the Wacom Bamboo Feel Stylus (still miraculously attached to the now-broken FreedomCase) still registers!!!  To describe the roller coaster of emotion that I felt in the past hour--going from a great mood to the lowest of lows, and then in a moment going to the highest of highs-- is, well, indescribable.

And although I sincerely thank the show workers and security for the look out, it was because of my post-show, hungry-for-food friends Mostafa and Priscilla that we were able to find my work, and extend my career at little bit longer ;)

Thanks, Mostafa and Priscilla!

What a testament to the overall durability of the Surface Pro 2, although it did unexpectedly shut down twice this past week.  :(  Anyway, you guys probably want to see what I cranked out on it since the accident, huh?  Here's another sneak peek for this week!
I'll give you a million dollars if you can figure out what's going on in this page

Lover Boy doing an gorilla impression

The Switch herself!
Finally, YES I did back up everything.  ;)  I just hope my Surface Pro lasts until the end of this month.  Otherwise I might have to buy the Cintiq Companion 2 off my artist pal Henry Liao to finish the book--!  Unless Microsoft wants to send me a new Surface Pro for this glowing testamonial of their computers' durability ;)


Friday, August 4, 2017

let's cover it

Hey everyone, welcome back to another chilling, thrilling, spilling installment of the Switch production blog! I feel like I haven't updated in a month, probably because it hasn't been my turn to update in a month.

Things are picking up steam behind the scenes as we get ever closer to the end of production on this puppy. Tom's got his nose to the grindstone and Robb is cranking out colored pages as fast as they come in. We're starting to think about the overall design of the book at this point as we begin to pull everything together in one pretty little package. Depending on how many extra pages we have in the back, I'm thinking of producing a couple of Marvel Universe Handbook-style profile pages for Electricia and Lover Boy. I always enjoy stuff like that and who knows, maybe I could even get a couple of guest artists to pitch in to make it even more fun. Dream big, I always say!

Thanks to Switch backer/ convention organizer Kevin Deneson, I'll be returning to Minnesota for the Comic Card show on September 16th. I'm planning on giving Tom the joint reward sketches, the stuff I'm penciling and he's inking, that were snapped up during the Kickstarter campaign and who knows, I might even bring special guest Jack Champagne with me to really put some lime in the coconut. Good times ahead!

Anyway, here's your little sneak peek this week, thanks to Robb. Your first look at the cover design. There will be some minor changes to this in the actual printed version but this is what we're working towards...

Catch everyone next week! Be well and thanks as always for the support!

Friday, July 28, 2017

SDCC Came and Went...

Hey guys--
It's true!  I did stop by San Diego Comic Con as some of you may have seen in some of my social media posts.  But I really never advertised being there.  Why?  Because A) this year I didn't officially have a table, so there was really nothing to pimp, and B) My brief time in California was actually very limited as this trip was mostly (other) business and work. And by "work," I meant drawing last pages of The Switch (as some of you had noticed on my vlog series).  More on that in a bit....  but essentially I wasn't able to attend the show more than a 2 hours per day (and missing Friday altogether).  I just browsed/took video clips, quickly said hello to some people that I could even see, and retreated back to the hotel.  So my apologies to the many people who wanted to get together; this year it was impossible to say hi, much less spend time with everyone I wanted to see.

Special thanks to artist pal Henry Liao for his hospitality during my stay....we may be starting up a creative studio in the near future, so keep an eye out for that.  Here is some work I did in my brief time in Cali:

Jennifer as the Switch...

A rare closer look at Walking Fred

Lover Boy is a sloppy eater?

I have no idea what's going on here...

Who's this in a bikini?? 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Moving Along

Hi everyone! It's me, Robb, the colorist on The Switch. I was asked to do this week's blog post to let you guys know where things are at!

I have been busy with my own freelance work but drop it in a heartbeat when Tom sends me a page or two to color. I am excited when I see new pages in my inbox and know that we are making progress and the final product will be amazing! I have read the full script and feel honored to be a part of such a great book! The art and the story are going to be well worth the wait! 

What I have loved about doing the colors on The Switch is that it has forced me to up my game! 
Tom's art clearly defines the mood and flow of the story and I hope that the colors I paint in accentuate the moments that are lighthearted and the more dramatic scenes and the energy in the action sequences.

Check out some glimpses of a few panels I've colored...

(Why so serious, Loverboy?)

I am looking forward to touring with Tom and Keith when the book is finished! I hope we are able to make it out to as many conventions as possible and thank the supporters in person!

Well, I gotta go! I have another page in my inbox! 

Friday, July 7, 2017

A visit with The Transient

Hey everybody, welcome back to another thrilling, chilling installment of the Switch production blog. I was wrapped up with a horrible deadline for Marvel last time it was my turn to update and didn't manage my time correctly, sorry I dropped the ball. I'll try not to let it happen again.

Things have been pretty smooth behind the scenes of The Switch the last couple of weeks. Tom seems to be done with his mad burst of travel/convention activity and settled back into the groove and Robb is doing a great job coloring the stuff as it comes in. So, you know, knock on wood it's all smooth sailing until the end of this mofo. I don't really know how much Tom has left to draw; he works on large batches of pages simultaneously because of creative ADD then narrows down and finishes them one at a time. So I just enjoy the stuff when it comes across my desk.

This week, in Switch related news, I had lunch with backer supreme Matt DeAngelis. Matt picked up one of the character rewards so you'll soon come to know him better as The Transient. I know him as my childhood best friend before we ended up going to different high schools. Lunch was the first time we've seen each other in about 32 years and it was really enjoyable to catch up and get a bead on who we grew up to be. Matt's a helluva runner and I was a pretty solidly mediocre runner before I broke my leg last summer so in an alternate reality where I'm injury free, we probably would have grinded out some miles before lunch. There's no better friends than old friends, they're the ones who most understand where we come from and I'm glad to pick up and resume that friendship all these years later.

It was also fun to give Matt his art reward in person, he had picked up a Green Lantern Corp splash page from an issue I wrote. Keep it safe, pal! And if any other Switch backers want to grab lunch with me, just drop a line while you're in CT.

Anyway, enough rambling. Here's a couple of sneak peeks of Tom and Robb's work. I might try to get Robb to jump in and do a blog update for next week so keep your fingers crossed. Maybe we'll all get a fresh perspective here for once.

Never has being beat to hell looked so gratifying!

Some of Robb's beautiful color work!

See everyone next week! Thanks as always for your support!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Happy 4th of July Weekend Edition! Gene Simmons and I Chat About Switch?

Here in the States is Independence Day holiday weekend (even though the holiday itself isn't until Tuesday).  So as many here relax and try to spend time outdoors with friends and family, I'll be busy trying to wrap up this darn book!

Last weekend I was at Fanboy Expo in great Knoxville, Tennesee, and although I was mostly doing celebrity photo ops, I proudly wore my Switch shirt and had quite a few people asking about it--which is always flattering.  I hate to tell them the same answer over and over ("Later this year!") but we get closer and it becomes more of a reality.  And then I can breathe a sigh of relief.

The premier guest was none other than Gene Simmons of KISS himself, and I had the honor of photographing him during some of the show.  For a man of his celebrity and stature, he really treats his fans well.  I mean amazingly well---he'd take time to talk to fans and hug them and take photos/selfies.  He's equally nice to us staff members of the show.  Can't quite say the same about a certain Pink Ranger, however LOL ;)

My favorite part about Gene?  He's a known comic book fan, and even has his own comic publishing company.  He asked me about my Switch shirt on Saturday right after I took photos of him with the Children's Hospital, and asked me what each of the names of the characters were, and when/where it will be published.  "Dynamite Comics," I replied.  Gene said, "Did you know I have KISS books published with Dynamite?"  "Yes sir," I nodded and smiled.  And at that point one of the staff interjected and said we had to start shooting with the fans.  So those few seconds of interaction with a rock icon (an interaction which he probably forgot about by now) was very, very cool to me.  Here's a video clip of me shooting him with fans right after our quick chat:


So I guess you also came here to see more exclusive sneak preview art, no?  Well HERE IT IS:
Smoking, eating a Pixie Stick, or drinking??

No idea what's going on here.  Actually, I do....but you don't. :)

Someone getting his ass BEAT huhu :(

Nasty Cat doing her best Professor X impersonation.

More fun with Dr. Hate's expressions.

Friday, June 16, 2017

What else? More sneaky art! (Tom)

Hello! I just got back from a wonderful time in Springdale, Arkansas for Art Pop Comic Expo.  The cool thing about that show is that they used our Electricia art for the VIP/guest passes....we can always use the free promotion!  One other note:  I did a one hour panel at the show on Drawing Comics, and have even recorded it for my YouTube channel.  Check it out here in shiny 4k!

Other than traveling like crazy (as Keith mentioned last blog), I just started doing some work for Big Brother Season 19 that will premiere this upcoming week!  And next week I will be traveling again--back to Knoxville, TN for Fanboy Expo to do the usual thing with signing/sketching/photo ops.  Already I have an Electricia sketch on pre-order!

And without further adieu, here are your art sneak peeks from The Switch for this week, including another appearance by possibly my favorite bad guy to draw (other than Electricia herself)....Vladimir Putin!

What could Putin be thinking here?

Electricia doing what she does best 

Dr. Hate up to no good!

Loverboy up to even worse!

Electricia and Omerta having a friendly chat?
Keith will be back next week while to do my thing in Knoxville....!  Thanks again for looking!

Friday, June 9, 2017

More sneak peeks

Hey guys, welcome back to another Friday installment of The Switch production blog!

As I write this, I believe Tom is in Arkansas for another convention appearance this week. Our beloved Tommy keeps a pretty busy travel schedule during convention season (which used to run through the summer but now seems to go pretty much year round), seems like he's on the move almost every weekend in one state or another. He's a stylish jetsetter, I tell you!

I don't appear at anywhere near as many shows as Tom does because a) I'm not as cool and b) I'm not as cool but I'll be loitering this weekend at a convention at Foxwoods Resort and Casino so if you're in the tri-state area and have nothing to do Saturday and Sunday, feel free to stop by my table. I only charge $10 per hug at shows, quite a bargain, especially because I'm told I always smell like a million bucks.

Before Tom jetted off to Arkansas, he finished a few new pages this week so let me give you some sneak peeks right quick. Let's see what we got...

                                                    (does Electricia bleed Electricity?)

                                               (Look at that cute Dr. Hate. He's so precious!)

                                                          (Tough day to be that old lady!)

All right, my friends. That's it for this week. Everyone be safe out there and we'll see you here again next Friday! Thanks as always for your support.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Pics from The Switch Midwest Bonanza

Can you tell it was a long drive to Iowa?

As Keith hinted in last week's post, there was a Switch creative team "tour" in the midwest (Keith flew into our turf; "our" meaning myself, colorist Robb Miller, and even Doug Mahnke who did the variant cover).  We first did a signing at the awesome Limited Edition Comics & Collectibles in Cedar Falls, Iowa on Friday, and then we did the annual MSP Comic Con at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.  Talk about a little tour!  It was also the debut of of the Doug Mahnke variant print which was a big hit.  Interestingly, we met a good chunk of our Kickstarter backers during this weekend (it probably has to do with me living around here or something during our campaign).

Without further adieu, here are some photos from our weekend excursion (most of these are actually stills pulled from video that will appear in the 1-hour Switch behind-the-scenes movie):

Robb getting into the festive mood while Keith fights sleep (and eventually lost as you saw in the previous photo)
Ah, the debut of the Doug Mahnke variant....

Keith actually brain farted and started signing with the letter "J"...great save, Keith!

The original itself....!

Backer supreme Eric, who not only got the original variant cover reward, but earned himself a minor cameo role in the story!  Thanks for your support, Eric!

Post convention dinner at a so-so Korean joint. From L to R:
Clint Hilinski, Angel Medina, Doug Mahnke, me, Keith Champagne, and Gordon Purcell

Oh, ok, here's another sneak preview art on the page I'm currently working on ;P
Until next week!  :D

Friday, May 26, 2017

Return Of The Switch blog

Hey everyone, welcome back to another thrilling, chilling installment of the Switch production blog. Sorry there was no update last week; I just saw a half written draft that Tom saved off here on the blog dashboard but we were so busy on our whirlwind tour that he just didn't have time to finish it.

For those following along at home, Tom picked me up at the airport in Minnesota last Thursday and we immediately headed off to a romantic menage-a-dinner with our color artist, Robb Miller, at some Mexican place in the Mall Of America. A lovely time, and some guacamole, was had by all.

Friday morning started with a slight hiccup. We needed to be in Cedar Falls, Iowa by 11:00 to sign at Limited Edition Comics , meaning we'd have to leave by 6:00 AM to get there in time. Tom and Robb had a slight miscommunication as to which one of them was picking me up at my hotel. So they were equally surprised when they met up and neither one was accompanied by my smiling face. Those crazy kids. Anyway, all got worked out and we ended up getting to LE Comics by noon and signed and sketched all day, then hit the road by 8:00 to get back to my hotel a little past midnight. It was a long day but well worth the trip. Limited Edition is one of the nicest shops with some of the best people around as customers.

The main event began on Saturday when Springcon kicked into high gear, doors opening promptly at 10:00. I can't say enough good things about the all-volunteer staff that puts Springcon on every year. Just great people who take very good care of their guests. Tom, Robb and I had exclusive prints of the Doug Mahnke alternate cover available at the show and we went through pretty much all of them over the course of the two days. I jumped on a plane right after the show (setting off every airport security alarm with my fancy metallic leg implants for both flights) and got home around 1:30 AM.

It was an exhausting weekend full of nice comic book readers, good industry friends, and a lot of enthusiasm about The Switch. It makes me even more anxious to have the book finished and off to the printers.

Speaking of the Switch, I thought I'd share another full page of art with you this week. We haven't shown off much of Robb Miller's color work yet so let's give him a moment in the sun. Here comes page 21, for your viewing pleasure...

Tom should be back behind the keyboard next week and I'll see you all back in Minnesota for the weekend of Sept 16th for the Comicard show. Thanks for reading, and for your support.