The Comic Book Jamboree

November 15th, 2022: Declaration Day!

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So unfortunately, I was unable to complete the Bootcamp. My Mom got sick; I moved hundreds of miles to be more present in supporting her recovery. And the weight of that and work left my bandwidth pretty depleted. I did enroll in the following Bootcamp session, but it was fundamentals, and I struggled to maintain focus and engagement. And to be honest, I underestimated how impacted all the changes in my life lefty me. Things still are so hectic right now, and to be honest, I'm doing my best to not drown under it all.

Something else I began around the same time as the Dynamic Heads session of Comic Book Pro Bootcamp was applying for the 2022 Fall Cohort of the Builders and Backers' Idea Accelerator. My idea beat out thousands of ideas and I was excepted. I thought I would have to drop, but the first several weeks were dedicated to refining our ideas...something I had done before I even submitted my application. Things worked out and I'm not 3 sprints in and at the Pebble Fund round...where I have access to $5000.00 to bring test assumptions about my idea.

My idea, the Comic Book Jamboree , assumes that Comic Book Artist will want to participate in the challenge. It's a 24-hr Comic Book Challenge and Competition with cash prizes, that kicks off a two-day celebration of comic book culture. My target date for the con is May 2023, to coincide with Free Comic Book Day. I'll user the pebble fund to test my assumption that artist want to participate, and that fans and enthusiasts are interested enough to tune into the challenge. To do so, my experiment is a virtual 24hr Comic book Challenge. Success looks like having at least 10 artists take on the challenge, and at least 100 viewers/attendees tuned into the event.

To prepare, I need to partner with Comic Book shops to advertise (physically and on their social media), I need a well-known social media influencer (from the community) to host the event. Not needed, but wanted is a pyhsical store to host a overnight challenge for some challengers to participate in person. Similar to how the news have studio anchors and onsite reporters, I'll parter with the influencer and bring updates from the on-site challenge while he speaks to the contestants taking on the challenge virtually.

Technology discovery is also needed. I need a solution that will allow the influencer to stream and pull in different streams from the artist that are drawing remotely. I am very nervous about it, but its also my peace in a whirlpool of chaos that I'm navigating. And in trying something new, I launched a podcast because after one session of retail therapy I ended up with a Podcasting mic...I've elected to put it to use.

Comicbook Pro BootCamp - Dynamic Heads: Week3

September 4th, 2022: Stress Test

So another week of bootcamp completed! This weeks focus was on applying what we learned during the first two weeks to render pencils for 2 pages. During lecture, we learned some rendering techniques and a bit of visual story telling. I left class Tuesday feeling sorely unequipped. Ryan Benjamin was the instructor that week, and he said to approach this assignment as if the head of Marvel reached out to give us our "shot." So I felt energized to try my best.

For the first time in a while, I pulled out paper and sketched. Went threw a lot of trash pages working on just lay rendering, no designs, just composition. I deployed a bit of Scrum theory and made iterative improvements. After I found layouts that visually told a story and dynamically retained my attention, I began my first pass at rough pencils. Afterwards, it was time to tighten my pencils. The idea is that it would be ready to hand over to an inker.

Sadly I ran out of time. Tuesday I spent panicking, Wednesday on Layouts, Thursday on Roughs, and Friday was dedicated to refinement; tightening up my pencil and rendering the images. I started the day with a few meetings at my day job. I thought I'd have half the working day...TLDR I did not. Instead I rushed through trying to tighten and refine...ultimately letting both steps suffer.

Even still, I saw this as a stress test. I started off expecting to do so bad...but got much further than I expected with much better quality. Not finishing didn't mean I failed; Putting out work I gave my all to do is why I succeeded. And because of the stretch/stress goal of this, my Sketchjutsu improved, and thats BEFORE the critique.

So rushing after work I dropped my files in the homework folder 5 minutes before class. Went to critique, and Ryan, who can't help but "fix your art" while offering critiques. Its an honor and really helps apply theory to an artists practice. I was shocked with the few adjustments made. In fact the main critique was I need to tighten my pencils and that it looks "sketchy." Of course "sketchjutsu" is my technique, so I took that as a compliment. I also got dinged on page 2, panel 4 for going off script. I did the same on Page 1, but I think its because my choice on page 2 hurt the image more than help it like on page 1.

Normally I take my critiques and go to work and post the applied critique. but this time, since the main issue is refinement; I decided not to rush through and take my time. Check out the different stages below.


Page 1 (critiqued)

Critique: Clean up my line-work and finesse the rendering

Page 2 (critiqued)

Critique: "Looks Sketchy"- Ryan Benjamin (Insta)

Page 1 (roughs)

Decided to make this Hulk be Maestro...And since the script called for Asgardian armor , I gave him the All-Fathers armor. I feel like the perspective was lost when I applied the armor though 🤦🏽‍♂️

Page 2 (roughs)

Made a few changes to the layout.

Page 1 (Layout)

The scene called for a close up of Hulk angry. I wanted to show both his face, but the stature of the Hulk. The intent was to give the reader an ant's eye view to have the Hulk towering and menacing above.

Page 2 (Layouts)

This page was the most challenging. So many faces and information to try and fit on the page

Comicbook Pro BootCamp - Dynamic Heads: Week 2

August 27th, 2022: Skulls

So here I am on another Saturday after a week of Comicbook Pro Boot Camp. This week, lecture was about the structure of the head...Carlos D'Anda took time out of class to address the feedback regarding critique. Even though I was one of the people who offered a critique in the discord, along with emailing the Boot camp...I didn't feel the need to get the last word on Carlos. I respect him as the professional he is and was content with the feedback at least being considered. It wasn't until another student spoke up to call the feedback about critique, "Weird." Well as a peer he was not given the same grace, so I had to speak out.

Despite that weird, tense moment at the beginning, class was great. At the end, Carlos assigned homework. "Draw 2-3 heads, but take our time and show our thinking. Really Xraying the image" The slide posted on the Google Drive said "Draw skulls from photos." I completely misunderstood the assignment. I applied my art school approach; looking at relative distance, the shapes of negative space...then embellished a bit. During crique, my feed back was that that I didn't follow directions.

I do believe Carlos took it a bit personally that I offered feedback on how he critiqued. He did tell me he liked some things, but didn't call out specifically what I did well. To be fair the confusion around the assignment may have made it hard to do so. For areas of improvement, he called out that I am not seeing the skill as three dimensions. He's right and this is something I am working to improve on. He also said that I am letting the skin shape the bone. It would have been helpful for him to break down where the disconnect is presenting in my drawing.

A skill I pride myself on is being a collaborative learner. That is to say that I am good at squeezing value from the variety of teaching styles one might encounter. I took Carlos' feedback and gave myself an hour after class practiced the ACTUAL assignment; SKULLS. I was intentional, thinking about the 3d form of the skull and some highlights from critiques of other artist's work. Those take aways were:

  1. Take Breaks! - its good to reach exhaustion or satisfaction at the completion of a planning stage, to step away from a piece then returning to it.

  2. Eyes Ground the Face - so its a great place to embellish or stylize an expression or face

  3. Bones are the Boss to the Skin - so instead of looking at an expression and applying a skull that fits into the shape the head takes during the expression, draw through the expression to find the bone.

I then went back to my submitted homework and applying those tips found that I took the cheekbone to the edge of the head, causing the head to be flat. I also brought the mouth line to where the reference photo's mouth was...but in reality, she was pulling her lips down . Those minor tweaks improved the piece drastically for me. I loved it before... I love it more now.

Overall it was a good week of class. I am glad I gave feedback, as Carlos was able to get through everyone's work...and every crique was jam packed with knowledge and wisdom. With another week Sketchjutsu continues to improve!


Wk2 - Photo Reference

Misunderstood the assignment 🤦🏽‍♂️

W2 - Post Critque Edit

Moved the edge of the cheek from the edge of he face, and shortened the nose so the mouth is pulled down AND puckered.

Comicbook Pro BootCamp - Dynamic Heads: Week 1

August 8th, 2022: Eyes!

So here I am in my 3rd cohort of Comic book Pro Boot Camp by Ryan Benjamin. For context, I have been spending the last few years honing my skills in an effort to produce and distribute my own comic book. I've bought books, participated in social campaigns like InkTober and DTIYS, watching Youtube tutorials, and even signed up for both instructor lead and pre-recorded courses taught by professionals. This journey of learning lead me to Ryan Benjamin.

Ryan resonated with my not just because he was the first Black teacher I found, but his skills were superb, he had recognizable work in mainstream comics I've read, and he reminded me of myself; making noises while drawing. I also appreciate the fact that he seemed passionate about developing more artists. It was even better when I learned he didn't shy away from criticism, which meant that he cared more about my development than my feelings. As a result, the first two courses yielded the most development out of all my efforts to improve.

It is worth noting that the other instructors; Whilce Portacio; Alex Sinclair; and Carlos D'Anda all added immense value. Alex Sinclair is a master colorist that brought applicable color theory, not just lecturing about cool, warm, and complimentary colors--instead offering how to color using industry techniques and the reasoning behind it. Whilce and Carlos also brought alternative perspectives on primitive/structure drawings that really rounded out the lectures during bootcamp.

The homwork assignment for week 1 was to draw 2 pages of eyes (with various emotions), and 2 pages of heads at various angles with different lighting. We were given about 2 days, not counting class days. Sadly, we did not critique anything pertaining to emotion, angles, or lighting. Yesterday's critique felt more like a part 2 of lecture. I offered my feedback to the administrator, so we'll see how its received. For now, check out my homework for week 1:

Eyes 1 (post critique edits)

The only critique I got here was, "This head is cool." I since edited the head (see red marks) to tighten it...I am pleased with how it came out.

Eyes 2

The only critique I received here is "switching between realism and stylized." The instructor suggest mastering one or the other first. I disagree because I want to practice and would have enjoyed the opportunity to explain why I went realistic in some areas (it was because I didn't know how to express something in a stylized way...YET)

Heads (post critique edit)

Did not get ANY feedback on these. but decided to play with the lightning on the bottom heads. The left head is my original character, Yasuke Otaiyo. The right head is Piccolo (Dragonball)

New Year, New Me

May 30th, 2022

So I just moved from Chicago, Illinois to Tulsa Oklahoma. The last year was a transformative year for me. I successfully "broke into tech" and landed a 6 figure job. I developed as an artist after enrolling in several Comicbook Art classes. My life looks totally different than it did just a year ago, but as a result, my physique slipped. I am a whole new man and got a whole new "man bod" to show for it. My goal now is to continue marching forward. I want to be an example of discipline and achievement for my nephew and niece. I did the whole 'move in silence' thing. This year I am going to move in public...public-lite. If you'd like to follow my journey to getting back in shape and/or my pursuit of passion, then be sure to check back here every Monday for a new blog about my pursuits.