Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Podcast Promo!

Check out the fantastic image that Grug has whipped up to promote the upcoming podcast appearance! It kills me:

PK reading the newspaper is the best! It can also be seen here with a write up about the event.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Glorious Bounty Featured on Podcast!

Just a quick head's up to let you know that I will be the featured guest on the Moonhawk Studios Presents comics podcast this coming Thursday morning (Australian time - Wednesday night US time) to talk about Glorious Bounty.

It's recorded live, so unfortunately hirsute super-artist Grug will be unable to join me, which might be a good thing because I was probably going to talk over him anyway. Now I will have to make up elaborate stories about his childhood in his absence. Actually, he will be sorely missed but I will do my best to favourably represent us both. I'LL DO THE TEAM PROUD, BIG GUY! You trust me, right?

Anyway I'm really looking forward to it. I want to get more involved with podcasting stuff and this will be a nice way to get my toes wet. I can think of at least three other nice ways to also get my toes wet, but this will be great I'm sure.

And did I mention that this is a US podcast and I'll be their first ever Australian guest? Hopefully they won't imitate Steve Irwin or ask me if I live in the pouch of a kangaroo. I'm sure those things are full of mucous. I'LL DO AUSTRALIA PROUD, BIG GUYS. You trust me, right?

So if you can't listen to it live then don't fret your pretty heads/mouths - the file will be available for download afterwards and I'll put a link on the blog. I promise. Even if I totally embarrass myself/Grug/our country.

More soon!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Page 24 is Live!

So the latest page of Glorious Bounty Book Two: The Sticky Goat Affair went live this morning and you can check it out here. Read it? Good work! Now a couple of thoughts from my perspective...

We're actually flying by the seat of our pants a little bit here. The scripts are completed and Grug thumbnails the entire issue before drawing it, but in terms of the completed pages we're not at all ahead. Each page is finished just a day or two before it goes live on the site so if anything unexpected happens we're kind of screwed. This one was almost late due to a couple of minor glitches and the coloured version was only delivered to Grug last night.

When I receive the art for the new page Grug attaches it in a zip file and in the body of the email he pastes in the script breakdown for that page and which panels I should put the speech bubbles in. It's been a year since I completed the script and I have not read it since so reading the dialogue for the new page is very fresh for me, and I read it before I look at the page. On this occasion I read it and thought, "Oh... there's not a huge amount of dialogue on this page and nothing particularly funny to end it with... I hope this works out okay."

Upon seeing the art though these fears were alleviated, and for one main reason - we're back on the ship! You have no idea how nice it is, after 23 pages to be putting the characters in a new environment, as I hadn't considered, when I wrote it, how tied down they were to only two locations in the first half of the book. The change of environment and change of colour palate was very welcome and it was nice to be working the greens and purples back into the ship after dealing with the blues of the snowfield and the browns and oranges of the lodge.

When I saw the panoramic panels that Grug has drawn of the ship (and this is a part of it we haven't really seen before) I actually was glad there was little dialogue on this page. In fact I didn't want to cover up the establishing shots of the ship with extraneous speech bubbles and felt a little bad placing the few that I had to. Also nice to be using the proper colours for the main characters (instead of the blue filtered versions we've had) and seeing the hats come off them.

One other point of interest that continues on from the post about PK yesterday. Due to the close deadline of this page and some other committments on my part I did something very dodgy that I usually wouldn't do. I slightly altered a little bit of the art and then forgot to tell Grug that I had done it and to ask him about the reasoning behind it. This makes me a terrible and unprofessional person.

In the final panel where we see the backs of their heads Grug had drawn in two screws on the back of PK, which gave the impression that he was looking at us, even though he was turned around. My first thought was that this was an act of brilliance. As I said yesterday, the intention was always that he didn't have any sort of human features. They weren't eyes - they were just screws... we as a reader saw eyes only because we like to personify objects. So Grug's reasoning was that he would actually have a ring of screws around the top of his body (which could give the impression that he had eyes in the back of his head). It's a clever idea and it makes sense for the character. Grug also points out that the multiple screws can be seen a couple of times in Book One, which shows how observant I am.

So why did I change it?

I guess because when I saw it it stopped me in my tracks and I had to think about it. My thoughts ranged from thinking it was a clever idea to wondering if it was a genuine mistake. I had to stop to process it, and I was concerned that the reader might stop to process it too and then be momentarily removed from the story. And it's really only exacerbated in this issue because up until that point PK has been wearing a hat.

Which raises an interesting question about the ongoing evolution of the characters. Personally I am perfectly happy for their designs to continue to change and evolve between books. I'm happy for us to try out new costumes and to refine things as we go. Already you can see a marked change between the art of the two books so far and it's interesting to imagine where that will ultimately go. Some of it is motivated by the storytelling and some of it is motivated by laziness on my part. I can only colour Deevis' leopard print coat so many times before I'm tempted to ask Grug to find a way for it to go!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Evolution of PK

Time is short today, but this is such an easy one!

When doing a story about sci-fi bounty hunters, it's a given that one of the team is going to be a robot. It's in the rules. We could face heavy fines if we didn't include one.

In my mind PK stands for "Perpetual Killing". He's programmed to kill and he has no understanding of feelings or emotions - and more importantly no desire to. He cannot be reasoned with, or persuaded, and he is prone to random acts of violence. And in true R2D2 fashion he's also a bit of a Swiss Army knife. If the story requires him to produce a sprinkler that sprays acid then he can. If we need a tool to emerge from a panel then he can do it. But he's not there to drive the plot - he's generally there to obstruct it.

From a design perspective, my only real notes to Grug were that I didn't want him to be humanoid. I really wanted something that looked menacing, but more like an appliance and did not have distinct limbs, and certainly not any kind of recognisable face. I think we probably discussed the idea of him hovering too, as i didn't want him to be bipedal (something we're going to have fun with later on).

He was the last character to be designed, and all of the others went through many revisions. PK went through one. Grug sent me this:
And I said, "That's great! Can we turn it upside down?"
And that's PK! Those two little screws inadvertently became his fear-inspiring "eyes".

No colour tests on this one either. I knew he had to be red and that's what I did:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Not Much to Say, But I'll Say it Anyway.

So, I guess I agreed to post in this once in a while, offer up rebuttals to the heinous lies that Luke posts or commentary on what's going on in the Bountyverse or whatever.

We just posted a new page today - page 23 if you are reading this in the future.

And I have nothing interesting to say about it.

The closest I have is this:

When Luke writes Glorious Bounty, he presents me with the script (full, complete issues - none of this "winging it" crap) and they are closer to a film script. By this I mean the script only contains minor stage directions (the stuff that's important) and it isn't divided into panels or pages. The scripts are packed with face-paced, funny dialogue.

Then I thumbnail out the whole book, and I slow the whole damn thing down. I take what Luke likely imagines will be a one panel monologue and stretch it over most of a page.

Like that.

And poor Luke has to wait twice as long for me to finish a chapter as it should take. But then, what it does do is make the comic feel like an animated movie - I get to draw the character going through their poses, play with more expressions - basically give them more life without having to go through the tedium of animation.

And then, when I sit down to draw the pages, I kick myself because I've planned out a lot more work (and a lot more panels in each location - and therefore a lot more drawing the same damn thing) that I need to do. (I cannot wait for the next page where the guys get in out of the snow! SPOILERS!)

Oh, I love to draw - I especially love to make a comic - but it's also a lot of work, and I am impatient. And lazier than you would suspect.

Anyway, I tell you all of this because the only thing I have to say about this week's new page is that it is a very, very rare example of me adding a panel that I hadn't planned in the thumbnails:

That is how roughly I thumbnail! And, as you can see, panel five got broken into two panels on the finished page because I wanted to draw both of Deevis' expressions.

Deevis has the most fun face to draw of the gang.

And that is the closest to an interesting thing to say as I can get for this page of Glorious Bounty.

At least this should get Luke to revoke my posting rights.

The Archive!

QUICK! Grab whatever paper products are closest to you - magazines, books, hamburger wrappers - anything! Rip it all up into tiny little pieces. Now throw it up in the air in celebration! Glorious Bounty artist and grand archivist Grug has done the unthinkable (and hereto thought impossible) and created an archive page at the official site so that you can locate and read individual issues easily! DOES THAT NOT DESERVE A CONFETTI PARADE!?

The link is at the bottom of the official site OR you can just go right here now: http://www.gloriousbounty.com/archive.htm and all kidding aside it really does make navigation a whole hell of a lot of easier. Now there is absolutely no reasonable excuse not to go back and read book one a first, or a third time. In fact it would be kind of dickish not to! Would it not!?

Anyway, I'm thrilled by this slight, but incredibly necessary redesign... AND there's also a link from the main page to here at the blog. Which if you found this by clicking on the link then you already knew, but if you didn't you would be going there and then clicking the link in order to... come back here! ISN'T THAT A CRAZY PARADOX!? It's like travelling back in time and impregnating yourself! Do you think Grug will tell me off for writing in ALL CAPS all the time?!


Don't forget that Tuesday is new page day, so once you've given it a read why not come back here to the blog and tell us what you think. We might even post some commentary about it. Right Grug?


Friday, December 3, 2010

The Evolution of Funf.

Now the curtain is well and truly pulled back. In fact it's off the rails and on the floor. The neighbours have emerged from their sanctuary in the bushes and are pressed boldly against the window, staring at our nakedness.

And we have a lot of previously unseen stuff to show. Grug points out it would be far more logical to start with Bruce, but I am in a Funf kind of mood. Who is Funf and how did we come up with him? How did he go from a tiny sparkle in my eye to being painfully and traumatically birthed on the page? Brace yourselves with some kind of brace because this is Funf's story.

Sci-fi has taught us that space is teeming with lizards. Space lizards. Lots of them.

My favourite is Bossk, of course, and he's already a bounty hunter, but there's plenty more where that came from. They seem like a sensible choice for an alien race because they're cold, reptilian, emotionless and can survive bleak conditions.

When choosing the four members of the Glorious Bounty crew, we were really dealing initially with broad archetypes. Deevis was possibly going to be human, so Funf's real role was as the main alien. He was markedly different from everyone else, with a different culture, different physiology and different needs. And I figured that would make him hard to get along with and usually at odds with the rest of the crew.

His real role on the team would be the muscle, but he was intended to be difficult to control and somewhat of a time bomb who would fly into a violent rage at the slightest insult. Things haven't really turned out that way, but these were the descriptions that I was giving Grug as he started to draw.

The initial sketches were turned out very, very quickly. I would send an email to Grug and receive a sketch within five or ten minutes. I'll leave him to talk about his own thoughts and approach in the future, but here's the first pass at Funf that I received (none of these initial concept sketches involved costumes... it was decided early on to nail the basic look first and then create the costume afterwards):

This sketch if nothing else illustrates that the brief was really to broad. Here's Funf as the huge, muscular crazy lizard guy, complete with Mohawk and tattoo, but it's not a character that I especially want to know more about. He kind of has a bit of an obnoxious nineties vibe about him too, whereas ultimately I think our designs when kind of charming and not tied to any specific time (if anything I hope they're a bit retro). So a lot of the more outlandish elements were pulled back for the next sketch:
I like this a lot more, but something is still not right. I'm still unsure about the tattoo and the mohawk (although greatly diminished) but the biggest problem for me is becoming the muscle. Can he be strong without being in perfect shape? Can he be more of a big solid slab to give the impression that he doesn't necessarily spend time working on his body - he's just naturally strong because of his bulk?

Grug immediately returns the closest version yet:

This is really the version that we signed off. I was still unsure about what should be happening on top of his head and asked for a few more options. This just proved that Grug was right the first time and we kept the ring of dots (lights?) around his head. I don't know what these do but when we find out we're all going to be thrilled.

It's at this point where I shoot an email describing costume ideas (a simple harness, shoulder pads - it's all a bit He-Man) and then Grug completes a fully inked sketch and makes another huge leap forward towards the Funf we know today:
And that's pretty much how he looks now, although the characters are continuing to evolve (as you can see between issues one and two). I then did a string of colour tests to pitch to Grug:

And we ultimately settled on this one:

And he, of course, goes through a lot of versions as ridiculous things happen to him, like losing an arm, losing his skin, or growing the new arm for book two. It's important to me to not be too precious about these characters and if we have a funny or unexpected way to mutilate them then we should do it and deal with the consequences later. I want to put all these guys through the wringer for your viewing pleasure.

And, of course the character has evolved too. This softer, flabbier, round-face Funf has become more child-like and Grug has explored that a lot with his performance, and I have incorporated that much more into the script (you will see a lot more of this as Book Two unfolds). Despite the terrible things that he has done, I see Funf as really an innocent. He's not malicious, he just doesn't know any better. And despite the fact that he's kind of dumb and child-like I still want him to be an imposing force. If he does get pushed and becomes angry then he's definitely a force to be reckoned with. In the wrong set of cirmcumstances he's still going to fly off the handle and mess you up. I think we should be endeared by these characters, and root for these characters, but at the same time I want the reader to always be reminded that they're not heroes - they're bad people who have done bad things.

Oh... and the name? Named after my colossal cat. Who is Franklin but gets called a variety of things like Spanklin, Wanklin, Funflin, and The Funf. I see it as being pronounced more like Foonf than "fun with an f on the end" but we're a free people and you can say it however the hell you want.

We'll talk about who he is, his backstory and how he fits in with the team another time. Tell your friends. A new blog is lonely!

A Good Start.

One of the most difficult things about embarking on a new project is finding a start. If you're at that point where you want to officially share it with the public then chances are that you already have a billion eclectic ideas circling through your head. How do you even begin to convey that to a largely faceless audience who can't possibly know what you're thinking, or possibly care?

This issue became particularly pertinent to me when writing the first issue of Edward J. Grug and my webcomic series Glorious Bounty (Book One: The Sexy Virus). Because you start reading it and it looks like a dumb action comic. There's a shooting, and an explosion, and silly posing - and it's not drawn in a gritty badass way either - it's cartoony, and colourful, and the guy's outfit is pretty goofy and retro. So it's easy to go, "Ohhh... it's some dumb guys doing a weird sci-fi wannabe action thing... that's not for me." And stop reading. It frightens me to think how many times that might have already happened.

But Glorious Bounty is not an action comic. Not really. If you are stout of heart and do manage to keep on reading you will quickly discover that the action in the beginning is being made fun of. In fact this series focuses around four bounty hunters who are very light on action, direction, or smarts. The real focus is on the characters and the personal interactions between them. They often hate each other, they're driven by selfishness and greed, but they still choose to be around each other. They're a team. Right? And hopefully they are having some unusual and entertaining adventures.

But you can't just dive into the great stuff. You have to set it all up first. Understand the characters. Establish the premise. And once people know and care you can really have fun. Once you've found your start.

So now I have the task of kicking off this blog...

We made a very conscious decision early on that the main comics site at www.gloriousbounty.com would remain very pure and stark. No crazy graphics, no clutter, just black and white and the comic pages themselves. But that doesn't leave us any place to talk about what we're doing (and why we're even doing it), or show you any of the images or discussions, or processes that are going on behind the scenes. Or what we have planned for the future, or some of the other Bounty related items that we might soon have up our sleeves.

So the solution is this blog. A place where either Grug or myself, or both at the same time, can just jump on here and comment on rant on any aspect of Glorious Bounty at all. And you, lucky reader, can respond in kind by commenting/asking questions/criticising/complaining/breaking our hearts with your depressing and inevitable silence. The curtain has been pulled back. Now it is a dialogue between you, and me, and even that Grug guy.

Is that a good start? Does that all make sense?

Right now we're nearly half-way through Book Two: The Sticky Goat Affair and I've created the same idiotic problem... it opens with an action scene! Except this one is considerably longer. Now after a lot of set up we're finally getting to the exciting point where it is all paying off. Will I have learned my lesson by Book Three? Time will tell, but the odds are against us.

So welcome to the Glorious Bounty blog! I'm Luke - I write and colour it - and over there reading this for the first time and probably wincing is Grug who interprets it, reworks it, and lovingly draws it.

Hope you enjoy it.