Since completing the monumental “Read Scripture” illustration marathon for The Bible Project last October, I’ve been working on a new series called “How to Read the Bible,” which is basically an introduction to Biblical literature. The first of a planned fourteen episodes went live this week. Check it out!
Though I did most of the illustrations and all the storyboarding, I owe a LOT to writers/narrotors Tim Mackie and Jonathan Collins, magician animator/illustrator Murphy, and animator Joshua Espasandin. Also a huge posthumous thanks to Aaron Douglas, an American painter associated with the Harlem Renaissance whose work I greatly admire, and whose vibrant palette and evocative, geometrical composition inspired the painterly sequences in this video more than a little. This video is dedicated to him.
A lot of the art in this five-minute video slips by pretty quickly, so here are a few pieces that you can scrutinize at your own pace. It was a huge relief to be able to draw movie theaters and motorcycles in addition to my usual repertoire of camels, temples, and bearded dudes in sandals! We’re hoping that all future videos will also feature “bookends” set in the modern era.
For the past year and a half, I’ve been illustrating for The Bible Project, a non-profit here in Portland that creates short, educational, animated videos about the bible. Though this is a contracted position, it’s effectively a full-time job for me. It’s the gig that finally pried me away from my editorial position at Dark Horse Comics last September.
Specifically, I’ve been drawing for the “Read Scripture” series, which examines each biblical book’s structure and message. That means I drew an enormous, poster-sized diagram for almost every book of the bible! (The exceptions: Exodus, Joshua, Samuel, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, Matthew, 1 Corinthians, and Hebrews were drawn by the incomparable Mac Cooper; Ruth, Esther, and Ephesians were drawn by Robert Peréz.) You can view all the videos that have been released so far HERE.
I don’t write these videos; the extensive research and voiceover are the work of Tim Mackie (who also officiated my wedding!). Also, I’m not responsible for the videos’ lively animation…a team of awesome motion graphics artists are responsible for making my static drawings come alive. It’s a collaboration for sure.
I just finished drawing Revelation last month (the video won’t come out until 12/15), so I’ve been trying to gather some of my thoughts on what this experience has taught me. The lessons learned are too many to even list, but a few stood out.Read More
I was privileged to draw storyboards for the music video “Mystery & Wonder,” by the experimental country/folk/rock band Blitzen Trapper, which is based out of my town of Portland, OR. Special thanks to local director/videographer Laki Karavias for the opportunity.
A lot of time passed after Laki & I hammered out the storyboards, to the point where I actually forgot a lot of what I had drawn. When I saw the video months later, it was uncanny! Not only did the barn look almost exactly like the barn I had drawn, but the actress cast in the role of the “muse,” Y La Bamba‘s Luz Mendoza, was a dead ringer for the figure in my sketches.
One of my greatest joys and privileges in my “other life” as an assistant editor at Dark Horse Comics has been working on the superhero comic X. One of the most successful characters (along with Ghost) that Dark Horse created during the heady years of the mid-1990s, X is an archetypical vigilante antihero – a borderline-insane bruiser with a fanatical zeal for enforcing his own law in the nearly lawless city of Arcadia. The comic was re-launched in 2012 with a (slightly) more grounded, 21st-century recession vibe, but it’s still a gleefully violent mess.
This scene I illustrated is from X #12, my favorite issue of the current run, in which mob boss Carmine Tango lures X into a triple-trap where he’s ganged up on by Gamble, a swaggering, luck-obsessed hitman, Deathwish, a suicidal maniac obsessed with X’s punishment, and Tango’s own lethal secretary, Ella. X loses this fight BIG TIME!
I kinda pushed outside my “comfort zone” for this illustration. Realistic proportions don’t come easily to me, and most of my characters end up about six or seven heads tall instead of the standard superhero eight. I also tend to drape my characters in baggy clothes, which disguise those parts of muscular anatomy that I’ve never really learned. The jumble of sixteen different limbs was actually really hard to arrange without creating tangencies. If I had to do it all over, I’d try to compose a more daring angle, with more foreshortening – as it is, the figures look a little too parallel to the plane of the page. But with all those caveats, I’d say it’s not bad for my first true “superhero” drawing.Read More
This was our Christmas card for 2014, depicting Jesus’s parents in a modern setting. I was inspired by a number of evocative “imagine what it would have been like”-type sermons I heard earlier this year, and also (as usual) by the work of Will Eisner, who so often depicted, with religious reverence, noble individuals enduring the many minor discomforts and petty indignities of urban America.
The main goal of this illustration was to pack as many clever biblical references into the scene as possible. I won’t list every one (there are at least a dozen), but a few that I’m proudest of are: the verse from the prophet Ezekiel in the graffiti on the phone kiosk, the way the “Save More!” behind Mary’s head looks kinda like “Ave Maria!,” and the two ads for “Glad” and “Tide” on the newspaper (get it?).Read More
October is often celebrated by cartoonists as “inktober,” where artists try to complete one inked illustration every day of the month and post it on social media. I wasn’t able to hit the thirty-one mark by a long shot, but inktober did have the beneficial effect of getting me in the drawing habit again after a too-long hiatus. (Hey, give me a break . . . I got married this summer!) Below are a few of my more successful drawings:Read More
Hey guys! This post got a lot of attention,
but I just want to clarify once and for all
that it was an April Fools joke!
Very exciting news! I’ve been sitting on this announcement for a few weeks, but it’s finally definite enough to share with the world: my most recent comic, Symphony Number Six, has been optioned for a movie!
Now, this doesn’t mean the movie will definitely get made – all the option means is that a studio is interested. A studio (still can’t name it, but it’s one of the medium-sized ones) paid me a certain amount of money now, and in exchange I don’t allow anybody else to buy the movie rights for a set period of time. But . . . it looks promising. So, how did this all come about?
Well, it started, like most things do, at the comic book store. I was at Cosmic Monkey Comics, my local comic shop, purchasing the latest issue of Aquaman (are you guys reading Aquaman?) This guy nearby looked very familiar, until I realized it was Chiwetel Ejiofor, a British actor currently best known for his starring role in 12 Years a Slave . . . though I was more familiar with him from Children of Men. Turns out he’s a huge comic book fan! (Mostly European stuff.) He was in Portland filming some nature scenes in the Columbia River Gorge. Anyway, I gave him a copy of Symphony Number Six, complimentary of course. He contacted me a few days later, saying he loved the story and was interested in playing the main character, Thaddeus Johnson.
Stuff in Hollywood seems to move pretty fast. Within the week, I was getting tons of calls from agents, lawyers, and various Tinseltown big shots. Seems they’ve also attracted the interest of Mark Margolis for the role of Pyotr! My dream-casting!
Anyway, I’m not sure if I’ll be invited to participate in the screenplay adaptation – right now, it’s looking like I’ll just get “story consultant” . . . and of course “based on the story by Everett Patterson” in the opening credits.
Stay tuned for more SN6 movie updates – and enjoy this beautiful new month! I haven’t been this excited since I worshipped a lobster and married Pocahontas this time three years ago!Read More
This is a pinup I did for the Dark Horse comic Dream Thief, which is written by Jai Nitz and drawn by the incredible Greg Smallwood. Dream Thief recounts the misadventures of John Lincoln, an Atlanta slacker/stoner who steals an aboriginal mask from a museum that causes him to be possessed by the vengeful ghosts of murder victims while he sleeps. As the Dream Thief, he keeps waking up in new, unfamiliar places with a headful of someone else’s memories (and skills) and usually a dead body or two lying around.
The first arc of Dream Thief, last summer, took this poor guy to a drug den in Wilmington, a Klan rally in Tupelo, and a high-stakes card game in Memphis. The second arc, coming out this summer, is mostly in Georgia and Florida. Will Dream Thief ever make it to New Orleans? My illustration speculates how it might go down.
There are a lot of things that still bug me about this drawing – the colors in particular look odd from monitor to monitor. To be fair, the visual over-stimulation of Mardi Gras is pretty hard to color tastefully. But I did enjoy playing with the cartoony iconography, and the chance to depict a small slice of the city where I was born and raised, with all its diversity and dilapidated charm.
I got a bee in my bonnet last week to draw the Darkwing Duck villain Bushroot alongside his obvious inspiration, Poison Ivy from Batman. This is one of the few images I’ve ever done going directly from pencils to colors – still looks a little ragged to me, but I’m figuring it out.Read More
Here’s my original thumbnail. This drawing really “clicked” when I realized that almost all of the real Mignola’s covers feature a diagonal stripe from lower left to upper right.Read More
I drew this pinup for the Dark Horse comic Buzzkill. This four-issue miniseries, both one of the funniest and the saddest I’ve had the privilege to work on as an assistant editor, is about a superhero named Ruben who derives his powers from drinking alcohol and who enters a 12-step program to get clean.
I really enjoyed throwing together this motley group of generic supervillains. The cowboy hippo in the upper right has been a big hit. Because of the way the colors fade, he looks a little bit like a ghost cowboy hippo. “Roooooben! You may have killed me, but I will haunt you till the end of yer daaaaays!”Read More
I don’t usually post doodles here, because they’re not very constructive and they often make me look like an insane pervert. However, a good habit I’ve picked up from Andrew Loomis is the practice of sketching out little rectangular vignettes just to play around with composition. These are fun, since I often do not know what I’m drawing even as I’m drawing it. For some one with such a normally control-freak, Type A personality, it’s really relaxing! I’m particularly proud of the sun-drenched library at lower right.
When I visited my parents in New Orleans last weekend, mom was asking me about the 1913 premiere of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, which famously ended in a small riot and mass exodus from the theater by the scandalized audience. This kind of reception has since become something of a modernist badge of honor – if only my work could provoke that kind of reaction! Well, all I can say is, Stravinsky ain’t got nothin’ on the premiere of “Symphony Number Six.” Here are some scandalous panels:Read More
Here’s a panel from page 16 of Symphony Number Six. I’m extremely pleased with how the page turned out, and I debated posting the entire thing here – but I think it would give away too much about the story, and I want you all to be surprised.
My friend Paul Guinan recently suggested something interesting to me: while 90s darling Rob Liefeld is now roundly mocked by basically everybody for his totally bogus drawings, Frank Miller, perhaps guilty of much of the same erroneous anatomical construction, is still praised sycophantically. (I would agree with Paul’s assessment of Miller’s draftsmanship – it’s particularly noticeable on his women characters). The difference, according to Paul, is that Liefeld made his own errors more visible by filling them up with flashy crosshatching, while Miller covers his up with atmospheric pools of black. “But one thing Miller has going for him,” Paul conceded, “is a great sense of design.”
And this sense of design, I’m learning, covers a multitude of sins. My rendering on these last few pages of SN6 is as loose as it’s been since I first started cartooning again about four years ago. But as long as I’m confident that I’ve:
- Laid out the panels, and the elements within each panel, in a narratively sound way that conveys the action of the story and the mental or emotional states of the characters, and is also attractive.
- Penciled the elements in the panel with some solidity and structural accuracy, and gotten the facial expressions right.
… then it really doesn’t matter how tightly I hold my brush! (One of the people I’ve kinda picked this up from is Fabio Moon.)Read More