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float down the liffey

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Last week, I finished pencilling chapter three of SPACE DUMPLINS. I usually pencil & ink a single page on the same day (two with BLANKETS), but this time for the sake of editing, I pencilled an entire chapter at once.

Seeing the whole chapter made it more malleable & consistent, more tangible to “stage”, and saved me from repeating compositions. But my work days felt more monotonous – tending to a single task for weeks on end – and I missed the creative “down time” that inking affords me. Pencilling is all sweat & brainwork, but inking is more intuitive – freeing my mind to listen to music, podcasts, talk on the phone…

Many of you asked why I’ve started using colored ballpoint on my pencils, but it’s purely for fun – now that I scan the pencils and print out blue lines, the pencils can be as messy and colorful as I like. As an experiment, I dabbled with inking some panels digitally on a 13HD Cintiq.

Below is an excerpt from a page I inked twice – A) The old-fashioned way with a brush and India ink. B) The newfangled digital tablet way. I was surprised that the difference is almost imperceptible. An advantage of digital is that I was able to draw word balloons and color holds on separate layers, and of course it’s all easier to correct. But for now I still prefer the tactile sensations of light bouncing off paper, crude ink, and finicky sable hairs.

The pictured character is named TINDER, after my cartoonist buddy Jeremy Tinder – whose style I aped for the character design.
craigfloat down the liffey
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process panel

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Happy Halloween, Blog-friends, and thanks for your patience during a quiet October.
A few of you asked about the process stages between pencils and colors, so here’s a panel breakdown from chapter two.

1) Pencilled the characters (Elliot & Violet) and roughed in the background with non-photo blue pencil.

2) This time,  I chose to draw the background separately with pencil and colored ballpoint.
(As you can see, the detail in SPACE DUMPLINS is becoming as obsessive as HABIBI).

3) Then I merged the two in Photoshop and printed out blue lines on to Bristol Board paper.

4) Inked with India ink and watercolor brush – the lettering is Micron pigment pen.
(You can still see the bluelines on the original art, but they’re easily removed once scanned.)

5) The COLORS!

craigprocess panel
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green bean & wordstock

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After getting home from three weeks in LA, I have a couple events unfolding in the Portland area.

1) The local launch for First Second’s FAIRY TALE COMICS with cartoonist (and Laika storyboarder) Graham Annable at GREEN BEAN BOOKS. 1 PM on Saturday, September 28th (1600 NE Alberta Street, Portland). More on that anthology – a sequel of sorts to NURSERY RHYME COMICShere.

2) A two-way stage conversation between Gene Yang and I to scour the crossover themes of our coming-of-age memoirs (AMERICAN BORN CHINESE) and historical, religious epics (BOXERS & SAINTS) at the WORDSTOCK literary festival. 3 pm, October 5th, Oregon Convention Center.

Hope to see you locals there!

 

craiggreen bean & wordstock
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chunky shark cycle

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Friends of my brother, GROW ANTHOLOGY, make sweet skateboards out of recycled paper, and they’ve launched a KICKSTARTER campaign to produce their first run of artist-edition boards – THE CHUNKY SHARK CYCLE! It’s limited to only 250 boards…  Chunky and Dandel graphic laser-etched into the top of the deck… made sustainably from recycled paper from a paper mill in my home town! They’re a flexy-fluid longboard ride or an object of art for display. Please, do check in to support the Chunky Shark Cycle Kickstarter and get stickers, t-shirts, decks, complete boards, or purchase my original art. Exciting to merge the two passions of my youth – comics and skateboarding!

(PS: Start following progress on the new book at: <http://instagram.com/spacedumplins> )

 
craigchunky shark cycle
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paddling vs pushing pixels

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Thank you, Jordi, for your reminders and thanks to all you loyal blog followers for your patience in this two month lapse between posts.

Portland has the best summers in the world, so there’s been the typical sunny day distractions of: A) river swimming (drawing buddy Scott)B) white water rafting (flip on the Deschutes)C) a little surfing (Justin loads the boards on my car – fifth one on the back seat), and D) lots of stand-up paddling (Brazilian twins Fabio & Gabriel on the Willamette).
 

In the work world, dealing with recurring hand problems, I’ve experimented with some alternate drawing techniques, including investing in a 13″ Wacom Cintiq.  1) Adrian Tomine’s latest OPTIC NERVE has a genius lampoon of “our generation’s” resistance to the new brand of art tools coupled with our frustration towards the declining quality of old world art supplies (bristol, brushes, ink). 2) For a couple of days my drawing desk became a clutter of video monitors (yuck).
 
3&4) I managed to digitally pencil a page, but then (5) printed out blue lines and reworked with an actual tangible pencil.
Here’s (6) Dave Stewart’s colors (digital) on my India inks (analog).
Purists will be relieved to know I’m sticking with the old-fashioned pencils and sable brushes for now. Digital dabbling, however, did push me to adopt a new working method of pencilling on cheap sketch paper, then scanning and printing blue lines on bristol board to ink by hand. Saves me the hassle of light box tracing and erasing pencil lines.    More summer-time announcements coming soon…
craigpaddling vs pushing pixels
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zach & mo & krejg.

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 During my March 5 – May 14, 2004 travel diary CARNET DE VOYAGE, this little bean-bodied critter invaded my sketchbooks as a conscience to counteract my whining & sentimentality. Nine years later, it’s satisfying & familiar to revisit the character in the pages of SPACE DUMPLINS, though I seriously envy how off-the-cuff I used to churn out the pages. The critter has a name now – Zacchaeus – after a favorite wee little tax-collector from the Bible.
 
There’s a new presence in my work studio that shares the same energy as Zacchaeus – frisky & distracting & never tolerating the whining – a kitty, name of Maurice (no Biblical reference). Here she is surveying new and old appearances of Zacchaeus. To the right, she protects the drafting table from her throne of crumpled jackets.
 
In other news:  A)  I’m participating in an exhibition at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco with an amazing cast of illustrators. I SEE WHAT YOU SAY opens March 23rd.
And B) the latest foreign edition of HABIBI to debut is from my Serbian publisher Komiko. I wanted to mention it, if for no other reason because I like seeing my name spelled “Krejg”.
 
craigzach & mo & krejg.
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collaboration & color

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Happy New Year, Everyone! My apologies for neglecting to post in January. Mostly I was bummed out to not be back on the drawing wagon as predicted. All of December and January were spent in recovery, including occupational therapy. But I’m reminded that there were similar months of recuperation after BLANKETS tour in 2004 (see CARNET DE VOYAGE).

I was waiting for happy news before posting, and it arrived with February as I’m finally drawing again & starting fresh with a new opening sequence for the book (scrapping most of the pages inked in November).
The happier news is that the incredible Dave Stewart is on board to color SPACE DUMPLINS, infusing the drawings with vibrant atmosphere & volume. Dave and I’ve known each other since 1997 when I worked as a graphic designer at Dark Horse Comics and he was an in-house colorist. He’s best known now for his work on Mike Mignola’s HELLBOY and BRPD (and for winning seven Eisner awards!).
After so many years of working solo, I’m excited to share this element of collaboration with an extremely talented friend.  See below for a peek at the magic Stewart brings to a single panel of the new book.

craigcollaboration & color
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space dumplins

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My upcoming all-ages book has been officially announced. It’s titled SPACE DUMPLINS and will be published by Scholastic. I want it to work like a Pixar film — fun & appealing to the youngsters, while simultaneously fulfilling to you, my faithful readers.
 
The bad news is that I haven’t drawn any new pages since the last blog-posting, because of a hand injury. Prohibited from drawing, I’ve been obsessively combing over the thumbnail draft, thus further applying the Pixar model of endless rewrites.  My New Year’s plan is to take off the splint and leap back on the drawing wagon. And the book will keep me busy through all of 2013. Aiming for a 2014 release.
Finally, if you’re looking for last-last-minute holiday gifts, there’s still a limited amount of oversized HABIBI screenprints available at CRACK PRESS.  Season’s greetings, Blog-friends! Thanks for checking in throughout the year (despite my infrequent posts). And thanks for making it to any of the HABIBI tour events!
craigspace dumplins
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back to the drawing table

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Thanks for the reminder, Jordi. It’s been five weeks since my return, and I’ve finally started drawing the NEXT BOOK. Twelve pages are finished, but I’m still reclaiming the discipline & drawing muscles required to make final pages. It’s still a bit soon to reveal the details of the project, but I will say my focus is on the all-ages book. While brainstorming/writing (earlier in the year), I gave equal attention to three ideas, but the time-consuming demands of drawing have nudged the other two books to the backburner. Here’s some preliminary sketches of the new book’s hero – VIOLET.

In other news, here’s a link to the BLANKETS MARRIAGE PROPOSAL of Becca & Mike mentioned at the end of last month’s post.
A sweet moment and a great honor as an author to find one’s book connecting so deeply to readers’ lives. Best wishes to Becca & Mike!

 

craigback to the drawing table
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