I’m heading to New York this weekend to be signing some books at MoCCA. Stop on by the NBM table, say hello, and ask me to draw something for you!
I listen to music while I’m drawing, and I’d like to think that the music that I listen to has some sort of effect on the lines that I put on the page. With All Star being set in the 90s, it seemed natural to have a 90s playlist for the occasion. What I found was that the songs that took me back the most were not the songs that I liked the most at the time. The songs that really brought me back were the songs that didn’t make it out of the 90s. I loved Weezer’s blue album in high school, but it’s an album that I have listened to a great deal since then, and so it doesn’t necessarily pull me back. But Deep Blue Something’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s takes me back, because I only heard it in high school and never again.
Here are some others:
Here in Your Bedroom – Goldfinger
Pepper – The Butthole Surfers
Closing Time – Semisonic (be careful: this song gets stuck in your head super easy)
Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand – The Primitive Radio Gods
Lovefool – The Cardigans (my secret anthem)
Lump – The Presidents of the United States of America
The Freshman – The Verve Pipe (I hated this song and I can’t say I care for it much now, but it takes me back to talking with friends about how much I hated it)
In the Meantime – Spacehog
No Rain – Blind Melon
These songs are the songs that take me back. I don’t love them necessarily, but they lock me into a place and time. How much effect does this have on the lines that get put on the paper? I don’t know, but I’m not sure if that Alanis Morrisette joke would have gotten in there without them.
As a bit of research for my very very soon-to-be-released book, All Star, which is set in the late 1990s (my high school years), I revisited some of my yearbooks from high school. Sadly my senior yearbook has disappeared. I believe it was taken when someone broke into the storage facility where it was kept. I imagine they were somewhat disappointed with their haul.
Anyway, that’s me, sophomore year, 1995. Yes, it’s a denim shirt. With a tie. An Incredible Hulk tie.
And remember: If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it was never meant to be. Also, Don’t ever change… YOUR UNDERWEAR! And hang on to sixteen as long as you can, changes come around real soon, make us women and men.
Process. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could find some quick and easy explanation for how to do anything? Something as easy as ABC or 123 or do re mi. How do you make friends? Follow this easy process. How do you get someone who doesn’t even know you exist to be attracted to you? All the answers are here in this simple pamphlet. How does one face the prospect of death with dignity? Just follow these simple instructions.
I’ve never been much of one for instructions. And when it comes to my creative process, I have very little to say about it. I think the only thing that I can say that I truly believe in is that you have to sit down every day and do a little bit of work.
Everything else I prefer to remain a bit of mystery.
That being said. There were a few key stages in All Star, and I’ll show one sequence in each of these stages.
There is the idea phase, which with All Star began sometime around 2003 or 2004. That’s when I first had the idea for the book that would become All Star.
Then there was an outline, which was written sometime in 2010 (the part circled in red is our sequence).
After the outline, I drew a rough draft version of the book. This was probably the fastest part of All Star and was done mostly in 2011.
From sometime in late 2011 until late 2013 I was drawing the finished pages of All Star.
And then sometime last year.
According to my sources at NBM, my new book, All Star, will be in comic book shops on March 12th (Jack Kerouac’s birthday)(sweet) and in regular book stores on April 1st (Jimmy Cliff’s birthday)(the harder they come), but this Wednesday you’ll be able to pick up the first chapter for ninety-nine cents on Comixology! And after that the whole book will be coming out chapter by chapter.
Yeah, man! The only way you could get these before was to be in the greater Boston area or see me at a comic convention, but now, thanks to modern technology, you can be anywhere in the world and get a look!
Hey, man, this is my thought process.
So these two guys, Carl and Esden, are about to go to this rager of a party, but before the party there is this little quiet moment of them chatting in the car, not a super serious conversation, just a couple of dudes talking.
I thought I could just write whatever, and whatever would be random enough, but what I found was that in a book everything takes on a little more meaning.
This dialogue seems to reveal something personal about the main character Carl and his struggles with girls. And he is a little bit awkward around girls, but it never comes up again, so to me this dialogue seems a little misleading.
It hints at too much.
But I really like the look and flow of the panels.
Which created the task of writing new dialogue, random dialogue, that would fit into the word balloons.
And so, an intellectually stimulating discussion of the respective values of Milla Jovavich and Denise Richards in the minds of seventeen year old boys in 1998. It doesn’t raise any expectations but does further cement the time the story takes place and the age and maturity levels of the characters.
You can see the whole thing when All Star comes out.
I love baseball. I love going to games and watching them on TV. I love movies about baseball and books about baseball. I like the names of baseball players: Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, Coco Crisp, Cool Papa Bell, Vida Blue (baseball is a gold mine for character names). Baseball is also a game just filled with stories. Dock Ellis pitching a no-hitter on acid. Rickey Henderson framing a million dollar check.
I also love the movement of baseball: the pacing, the timing, sequence of events. It’s that movement that I really wanted to capture in my book All Star. Baseball is a game all about anticipation. With baseball, you can see a play develop; you know what it is going to come, but there are all of these little steps along the way; you have to wait. It’s those little steps that make baseball great.
Here a few versions of the cover for my upcoming book. Covers do not come easily for me. Perhaps it’s all in my head, and I just get myself all wound up and stressed out thinking, “This cover has to be awesome; otherwise no one will bother to pick the book off the shelf.” Attempting awesome can be rather paralyzing. I’m much happier drawing a comic book page. Or perhaps I struggle because this is my idea of a fantastic cover.
1998 was a good year: Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton and cigars, Michael Jordan’s last game as a Bull, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in a steroid-fueled-bulging-bicep quest to shatter the home run record, and Semisonic’s Closing Time all over the radio. Sadly, it was also the year we lost Falco, Phil Hartman, Bob Kane, and Junkyard Dog.
It is also the year that my upcoming book, All Star, takes place. This is partially because of my fondness for the nineties, which also happen to be the time when I was in high school, but also because so much has changed since I was in high school. With cell phones, chat, Facebook, Snapchat, and other things I’ve never even heard of, I really don’t even know what it’s like in high school now. I think it would scare me.
Take it easy, read some comics, and if you got some snow, enjoy it. Merry Christmas!