Sunday, April 29, 2007


A study of a page composition from Guido Crepax's 1971 book JUSTINE.

Ever since I first saw Crepax, I was attracted/repelled to his style, his subject matter, and page inventions. I puzzled over his work in Heavy Metal magazine, then forgot it, only to return to it years later. I now consider him one of my favorites-- especially his late 60s/early 70s work, when the brushwork was more prevalent and his scratchy croquil lines hadn't overwhelmed the images.

Gradually, as I've struggled more and more to get good at this, and step-by-step moved further into the field, I must admit don't look at or enjoy many comics-- I horde up my favorites and focus on them, my picture family. It is almost as if there is only so much room in your heart for the things you love. Naturally curious, I am open to new material, but that's still the way it is.

As a kid I was visually omnivorous, I read everything and anything I could get my hands on. If it had words and pictures I wanted to see it-- especially anything involving comics or illustrated books-- anything and everything, ranging from Herge's TinTin to John Byrne's run on X Men to Dr. Seuss to Kurtzman's Little Annie Fanny. It's impossible to say if this is normal behavior for most young comics readers, since for me, unlike the other kids I knew who eventually outgrew the passtime, an avid interest became an overriding obsession, and eventually a daily practice.

There could be a million different reasons why a million different people do the same thing.


John Milton (1609-1674) wrote Paradise Lost, long considered one of the great works of English literature. The book was first published in 1667.

Milton came from a middle class family. According to biographer Gordon Teskey, as a youth, Milton routinely studied and churned over homework until midnight. By the time he was college age, Milton was fluent in English, Latin, and Greek, and further had a proficient understanding of Italian, Hebrew, and French. After years of failing eyesight, in 1652, this man who devoted so much of his life to reading and writing became totally blind. In the same year his first wife died, leaving Milton a widower with three daughters, the oldest of whom was not even six. Milton remarried four years later to a woman who died soon after in childbirth, along with the child.

To write Paradise Lost, Milton had to dictate the entire epic poem to a transcriber. In those days, punctuation was more a concern of copyists and printers, and the person doing his dicatation did not know how to use commas, quotation marks, or other tools of grammar, forcing the blind poet to dictate the poem's punctuation as well. The book's first printing was considered a success. The edition sold barely 1300 copies in just under two years.

It is said that to achieve the standard of living an average American enjoys today, a person in 1667 would have required 200 servants.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


It has been demonstrated that the first properly costumed super-villains appeared in French pulp fiction. Decades before Lex Luthor, The Joker, Diabolik, Satanik, Catwoman, Fu Manchu, Doctor Mabuse and all the rest, there was Fantomas, arguably the first costumed super-criminal ever, who terrorized Paris in his monthly magazine appearances. Fantomas' stories were written by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre, debuting February 1911 to immediate success. Fantomas was a gruesome figure who killed and maimed the good and bad alike. His goal was chaotic, destructive anarchism, and he bled malace with every act. He wasn't above committing petty terrors either-- in one peculiar episode, he places razor blades inside all the shoes in a department store, and puts acid inside the various perfume spray bottles. French film and fiction soon spawned a number of other colorful super-criminals along the same lines, including Belphagor and Irma Vep, eventually offerring a costumed hero called Judex (Latin for "the Judge"), the direct precedent to costumed crimefighters such as The Shadow and Batman.

Jean-Marc and Randy L'Officier have written an excellent book called The Shadowmen, a definative history of French pulp crime fiction, which I would recommend to anyone interested in the topic.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


The Colibri-- a character from my forthcoming book for Dargaud, LA BIONICA.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Wired magazine asked me to do an illustration for them for the June 2007 issue, which I finished last week. They were pretty much open to whatever I wanted to do, so long as the image somehow incorporated the number of the month of publication (June in my case, or the number "6") and the number "15", corresponding to Wired's 15th year of publication. And they wanted this combination of numbers-- "15-06" --to be integral to the image, not tacked on as an afterthought.

When I found out the magazine would likely be featuring the long-anticipated Transformers film on the cover (it's either that or an image corresponding to the other big article from the issue, a feature on rocket science), I proposed doing my own version of the Transformer robots. Now, I love drawing robots. In my case, I imagined a sort of lurid sci-fi pulp paperback version from the 1940s or something, all bug-eyed-monster and paranoid vision. At first, the girl Optimus Alpha is holding was a Jayne Mansfield-type blonde bombshell with a skimpy tin foil bikini, curves galore, and cones-titties, but once she was drawn in pencil, it seemed to make the whole image too macho, too male-power-fantasy-trip. That's fine but not what I wanted for this picture. I think The Transformers are a lttle bit silly, so I wanted something more with a sense of play, of fun, rather than somehting all blown-up and sexy. I went for a more universal teenage girl, something more adolescent and innocent, more like the tone and feeling of my series THB.

There is an extensive history of the original Transformers toys, which grew out of the Microman line of toys in Japan (and which we here is the US knew as The Micronauts), at the microforever website:


Friday, April 13, 2007


"Science fiction writers worry about trends, worry about possible dystopias growing out of the present, and this is a cardinal virtue of the field. Admittedly, there was a time when science and progress were assumed to be identical. If we worry now we have cause to...

Viewpoint and concern in science fiction are a transaction among author, editor, and reader, to which the critic is a spectator. If the reader enjoys what I write, there you have it. If he does not enjoy it, there you have nothing. 'Important' is a rule for another game that I am not playing. I did not begin to read or write SF for reasons dealing with importance. When I sat in highschool geometry class secretly reading a copy of Astounding hidden within a textbook I was not seeking importance. I was seeking, probably, intellectual excitement. Mental stimulation."

Philip K Dick, from a review of The Cybernetic Imagination In Science Fiction, a book published by M.I.T. Press, 1980.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Third round-- The Die-ities are still in, but, man, it's looking pretty rough. Follow the link and vote for your favorites!


Monday, April 9, 2007


The Die-ities have made it to the 2nd Round in the Fist-A-Cuffs Tagteam Tournament. This is gonna be brutal.


Thursday, April 5, 2007


Fist-a-Cuffs is an ingeniously simple art-game invented by my friend Sam Hiti, and it might be the most fun to be had with a piece of paper since Exquisite Corpse.

Check it out here-- for as simple as the game is, it is just too hard to explain in a sentence or two. You'll get the idea when you see for yourself: