Appearances

Page 212 – Showdown

Well, all right, all that art-talk over the last two blogs was a complete dud and no one cared. Sorry ’bout that.

 I don’t have the time to write up much of a blog this week, I’m under the gun on an art deadline and am cranking out pages. I wouldn’t leave you with nothing, though, so here’s the audio of Amelia telling an Axe Cop story. I requested it be in a smoothie shop because I was trying to tie it in to the comic story, and didn’t wind up using this at all. I definitely don’t have the time to draw it these days, but if anyone  has the time, this’d make a good guest strip.

KIDS’ QUOTES OF THE WEEK

Me: “I need to take a shower.”
Charlotte: “Why?”
Me: “I need one, I’m stinky.”
She gives me a hug.
Charlotte: “You’re not stinky.”
Me: “Aww, thanks!”
I sneeze.
Charlotte: “But you ARE gross.”
                                        -Charlotte, 6 years old

Amelia is going to get her room painted.
She says she’s going to have pictures painted
of “blocks and tigers and people and butts and people.”
                                        -Amelia, 4 years old

Next week, the first act of aggression in this street fight is about to go down, and it’s a doozy.

Ask Axe Cop #92 – Military Training

This one goes out to all the Axe Cop readers who are enlisted or are veterans of military service.  I am always humbled by people who choose that path, considering my line of work.  If it weren’t for people like I could never live in a country where making silly comics like this would afford me a living.

Ethan

Page 211 – How to be a bad guy

For anyone wondering, yes, Axe Cop only slept for two minutes.

Last week, I mentioned that I’ve come up with a pretty solid inking technique in Manga Studio and said that if anyone wanted to know the process I’d fully detail it. It got a couple of responses, so here we go. These instructions are for Manga Studio 5 or EX5. If there’s some way you can make it work for your inking program, do it up.

Coloring Detail-02-02

Before you begin, go to Manga Studio > Shortcut Settings and in the Main Menu settings area, find Transfer To Lower Level. Set its shortcut to Cmd + F. You’ll be using this function a lot, and this command will make the process much quicker for you than clicking the button on the Layer palette, seen above. Note that I use Mac, so PC users substitute Cmd with the Ctrl key.

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 10.55.46 AM

1. Have your pencils on a layer. Set the Expression Color to cyan and lock the layer.

Expression Color is a very useful setting in the Layer Properties palette. It applies a lightening color to everything in the entire layer, but not permanently- meaning that if you click it off again, the image is normal. You’re using it as a way to see between your layers while you work.

2. Create two layers above your Pencils layer. These are your inking layers. Name the top one “Working Inks” and the bottom one “Finished Inks.”

3. Set the expression color of Finished Inks to red.

4. Begin inking, in black, on the layer Working Inks. Hit Undo frequently and redraw a line as often as it takes to get the line you want.

Remember that you can change your brush size on the fly by holding Option + Cmd and dragging your pen to find the desired size. This keeps things moving so much more quickly than clicking over to the brush palette and sliding the brush size slider. Also hit the R key to rotate the page freely as needed.

5. When you have a chunk of inking you’re happy with, hit Cmd + F. You’ll see the inking turn red as it moves to the Finished Inks layer.

6. When you have overlapping ink lines at corners and edges, erase at will on either inking layer until you get the desired effect.

Hitting the C key will set the color you’re drawing with from black to erase. This keeps things moving somewhat more quickly than switching over to the eraser. Hit C again and you’re back to black.

7. Repeat steps 4-6 until you’re done inking.

8. Delete Working Inks and click the Expression Color button for Finished Inks to turn it off, and to turn the red lines to black. You’re done!

I hope some of you find this helpful. It’s really streamlined my process quite a bit. To think that just a year ago I was inking on paper, erasing pencils, scanning, and cleaning up the mess in Photoshop. I’ll never go back.

KIDS’ QUOTES OF THE WEEK

Me: (yawn) “Man, I’m tired.”
Charlotte: “So go to sleep.
Blah blah blah, end of story.”
                                        -Charlotte, 6 years old

Daddy: “Charlotte, you have to eat some of your salad.”
Charlotte: “But I don’t LIKE salad.”
Amelia: (points to bottle of bacon ranch dressing)
“Probably, this will help you.”
                                        -Amelia, 3 years old

The kids are planning to stay up until midnight tonight and then camp out in the living room in Amelia’s new Spider-Man tent that she bought with her Christmas money. Amelia’s a huge Spider-Man fan. Everyone got her Spidey stuff for her birthday and Christmas (I got her a full costume, she loved it) and she still bought more on her own. It’s pretty awesome. Anyway, I’m predicting that Amelia will have passed out by 10:30, and Charlotte will be a zombie by 12:20. They always think they’re going to go all the way on these late nights they occasionally have, but they never quite make it.

This year’s been good for me, and I hope 2014’s even better. Have a great New Year’s Eve, everyone, and a happy 2014.

Next week, it’s a showdown on the street, good guys vs. bad. Heads are about to start getting seriously chopped.

Page 210 – We Have To Plan Revenge

Merrrrrry Christmas, y’all! I wish I had more of a “very special Christmassy episode” to share with you today, but today’s page is all about the plan.

I thought I’d talk a little, today, about the art process. Unless you like art-talk, the following chunk of text will be terribly boring to you so skip to the end for your Kids’ Quotes and you’re free to leave. For everyone else, let’s go.

I work entirely digitally these days- everything from sketch to finished happens in the computer. I understand Ethan works the same way. The difference between us is that now and then, I think he still likes to draw on paper in the real world. Me, I couldn’t be happier to be done with paper, art supplies and scanning. I don’t have to go to the art store anymore at all, now, and I love it. It’s kinda like when you discovered Netflix and began dancing merrily on the grave of Blockbuster Video.

I’ve tried going wholly digital in the past with Painter and Photoshop. Painter had a completely baffling interface that I couldn’t figure out and Photoshop’s brushes were nnnnot good for inking. I felt trapped in the world of drawing on paper. Then- and here’s where what I’m saying is going to start sounding like a paid endorsement- I tried Manga Studio in March of last year. A colleague had used it and recommended it, and it was only $80. I gave it a try and was impressed- it did almost everything Photoshop did (at least for art production), the interface mimics Photoshop so it was easy to pick up how things worked, and the inking handled like a dream.

Ethan uses it too, but he’s much less… I dunno… evangelical about it. I use it for almost everything and I sing its praises all the time. These days I only open Illustrator and Photoshop to do lettering and photo manipulation, respectively. I’m churning out pages in a quarter of the time and at twice the quality, and I do it going from sketch straight to inks. I never fully pencil anything out anymore. I’ve pioneered a technique- or at least I think I came up with it- that maximizes speed and efficiency in digital inking. It involves using two layers. If anyone’s interested in the full inking process, sound off in the comments and I’ll detail it fully.

Here’s a video I made doing the art for my pin-up in the new Axe Cop print volume.

KIDS’ QUOTES OF THE WEEK

We’re playing superheroes one day.
Me: “I’m Superman. I can fly and I’m strong. What can you do?”
Charlotte: “I”m Spider-Man. I can play on my ropes, jump,
stick, and make everybody pay attention to me.”
                                        -Charlotte, 2 years old

On the phone with mommy, who’s at work:
“When you come home, can I have you?”
                                        -Amelia, 2 years old

If you’re looking for a nice present to get me, I could really use one of these. Don’t look at the price, just get it for me… we’ll both be happier that way. Merry Christmas everyone.

Ask Axe Cop #91 – Mustache Wax

Apologies for the late post.  I had such a busy day on Thursday that I totally forgot to post this.  I took off on quick romantic getaway with my wife and realized I forgot to post Ask Axe Cop.  Luckily it was all ready to post, so I was able to do it remotely.  I mean that in the sense of controlling my computer at home using my tablet, but I also mean remotely as in, I am in the middle of the woods right now on a weak satellite internet connection.

So, here you go.  One of the most bizarre episodes of Ask Axe Cop, and that is saying something.  Turns out we have been experiencing Axe Cop’s second life with-mustache this entire time… all of Axe Cop is the new memories of death bed Axe Cop with a mustache.  Thanks for reading.

Ethan

Page 209 – Title paaage!

Hiya everyone, I hope you’re all having a lovely holiday season filled with… I dunno, holiday stuff.

I took Charlotte to see THE HOBBIT on Friday. She liked it a lot- she got to stay up late and watch a “grown-up movie,” she got all the popcorn she could shove down her throat, and it was just scary enough for her. Charlotte likes scary. Since she was little she’s asked me to tell her scary stories, forcing me to improv not only a horror story, but one that’s good for kids. That’s a tough balance to strike. You have to hit somewhere between scary and too scary, and then you have to consider that some things aren’t scary to kids at all. I did one, once, that was about someone in a house alone getting phone calls from someone that seemed to know what the protagonist was doing. Charlotte said “you can stop now, this isn’t even scary.” Meanwhile, her mother was just about to ask me to stop because it was scaring her to death.

Eventually, I ran out of stories to tell and just began retelling horror movies as scary stories for kids. It’s easy- just boil down the story to its base plot points and tone down the truly horrific parts. Monster movies work best. I don’t recommend trying this with SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, that’s a tricky one. …and if you do, leave out Multiple Miggs.

I trailed off there, for a bit, but yeah: Charlotte enjoyed THE HOBBIT’s kid-sized scary parts. Giant spiders, a dragon, the necromancer, the orcs. And the fighting. Charlotte and Amelia have been shielded from violence all their lives. Now, at 9, Charlotte’s being allowed to see some movies for older audiences. Turns out… she likes violence. When she got home she talked excitedly about Bombur the dwarf “spinning around, killing everyone,” heads getting chopped off and all the instances of Legolas and Tauriel planting arrows through orcs.

You’ll see plenty of Charlotte’s violence in upcoming pages of REVENGE ON RAINBOW GIRL. For a pair of kids shielded against violence, it’s pretty horrific. People die in all sorts of ways. Fire, bullets, bombs, teeth, poison, axes… and rainbows.

KIDS’ QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“My friends Grace and Lianna are werewolves.
They turn into werewolves at night and howl
in their room.” She pauses. “They look
creepy even when they’re not werewolves.”
                                        -Charlotte, 5 years old

Mommy: “Mia, what should we do for
dinner tonight, pizza or Halfway Cafe?”
Amelia: “Halfway Cafe.”
Mommy: “Okay. What do they have
that you like to eat?”
Amelia: “Pizza.”
                                        -Amelia, 3 years old

Ask Axe Cop #90 – Law & Order Part 2

I guess crime and punishment would be a better title for this one.  I think some of these are genius, namely the money stealing one.  If you were at SDCC I showed these there and at a couple other cons since.

Ethan

Page 208 – Hot Rainbows

Let this be a lesson to anyone that takes too long in line: know what you want when you get to the counter, or die of hot rainbows.

I believe this marks the first time Axe Cop has melted from surprise outside of the Ask Axe Cop wherein it was revealed as his one weakness. Correct me if I’m wrong. Funnily, Charlotte didn’t know about his one weakness when she wrote this scene. It went something like “Axe Cop is so surprised that he faints.” I told her about his problem with surprise and melting, and things just came together. I tried to make the panel of him melting something of an homage to the original panel, because I really laughed hard when I first saw it. On that note- man, it’s weird to work on something you’ve loved for years.

Today’s Amelia’s birthday. Her nickname is “the bean,” because as a baby she didn’t do much. This led to her being called “beany,” “beanydoo,” and “the beaner,” which we didn’t know at the time was a racial slur. Whoops. She gave herself her own nickname, once. She walked downstairs, held her arms up in muscle poses, and started yelling “I’m a beast! I’M A BEEEEEAST!!!” We have no idea where she got the idea, but it stuck. We use that nickname for when she proves herself to be unnaturally fierce or brave, like when she enjoys getting shots at the doctor’s, or when she launches into one of her hysterically funny silly performances that just come out of nowhere. Her dual nickname has become a Jeckyll & Hyde thing for her. She once said that she’s “beasty during the day, and beany at night.” We don’t really know what that means.

Here’s an Axe Cop guest strip she wrote a while back. I still giggle girlishly about Hulk Wonder’s powers.

KIDS’ QUOTES OF THE WEEK

Charlotte is drawing a picture of me. She says
“You’re not gonna like this. Not unless
you like tiny hands and squished-up arms.”
                                        -Charlotte, age 6

“”Amn’t I the beaniest?”
                                        -Amelia, age 3

She IS the beaniest. Amelia’s a great kid and I love her madly. She’s very excited about her 6th birthday, so if you’d like to brighten her day, wish her a happy birthday in the comments, would you? I’ll have her read them when she gets home from school.

Thanks everyone! Have a great week.

Ask Axe Cop #89 – Law & Order Part 1

If you have seen me at any recent conventions (since San Diego), you will recognize some of this page and especially the next part.  I present to you: the laws of President Axe Cop.  This episode mostly focuses on what Axe Cop does about jobs and poverty.  I did my best to explain to Malachai the conundrum of politics, and the two sides of the issue… that if you give people too much free money they will not work and earn their own, but sometimes people really do need financial help, so you have to decide who gets free money and how much.  But then of course you have to have some honor about it because otherwise you are just buying votes.  He took it from there and came up with the “love they neighbor law” and the job shock collar.

Well I had a great time in Leeds, and an awesome Thanksgiving in Nashville.  You guys seem to be enjoying Revenge on Rainbow Girl, and so am I.  I think Tom is doing some awesome work.

Amazingly… yesterday I received an email from myself from 6 years ago.  I apparently was up at about 4am on Dec. 4th 2007 and came across a link to a site called “FutureMe.com” and sent myself an email talking about where my life was at and my hopes for the future, as well as some advice for myself.  At the time, I lived in a small attic above a garage.  My band had recently broken up and I was pretty lonely.  I was making very little money because it was my first year really trying to be self employed.  I was just starting to work on Chumble Spuzz vol. 2 and at the time I don’t know if I knew I was going to move to California soon.  I had a horrible sleep schedule… I would stay up all night until 10:00am, then sleep until 6 or 7p.m., totally avoiding the sun.  I drew a TON but I had no idea if it would amount to anything.  In the message I reminded myself to keep in touch with my family, do your best to be a regular part of Malachai’s life, and the lives of my sisters, as well as my other brothers and my parents.  It was so weird to get this email from a version of me who had no idea what he was in for.  Crazy.  I teared up a little as I read it, mostly because I know that guy was painfully lonely and I have never been happier now, married and living in a home with a family, able to provide for them with my income from drawing comics.  I really am in the midst of a dream come true.

Last weekend, season one of Axe Cop ended on FOX.  Axe Cop is not over yet, but we will be in a season break for a while.  If you saw the “Best Fairy Ever” episode, Axe Cop sings the song “Chicken Little” in his band.  The folks at ADHD asked if I could get Malachai to sing how the song would go, so I asked him to call me up and leave a voice mail singing Chicken Little as he heard it in his head.  This is what he recorded.

That’s all I’ve got this week.  Thanks for reading!

 

Ethan

Page 207 – Meet the family

There she is. Rainbow Girl. She can flood a village with rainbows, so watch out and keep your village in line.

…Not having much else to say this week, I thought I’d paste to you a ghost story Amelia wrote last year as we were sitting in chairs around the wading pool, drying off in the sun. She started rambling off a horror story and I recorded it, then typed it out. Here you go.

AMELIA’S HORROR STORY (age 4)

So, once upon a time. You know… a girl was in a gravestone, and one gravestone was open. There was a big cage. And that was the (indecipherable) cage, it said “don’t enter.” And then she goed into… she had her flashlight and she looked everywhere. And then guess what? She hears sharp claws. GRABBED onto her leg! And then it grabbed onto her whole body. She fall on her face, and then “Rarrrr!” It was a black bear. And then it almost ate her but then she runned out and goed back home.

 CHAPTER ONE

 CHAPTER TWO

Then the bear came alive. Now it’s just a ghost, so that’s actually white. So then he runned home. You know how ghosts can go through things? The bear goed through her roof. And goed upstairs. Then it goed upstairs into the attic. And then she saw the ghost. She runned down, runned into its cage, and runned out, runned into her room! She couldn’t find anywhere to hide. So she just… the best place to hide was the quietest place ever. It was empty. It was a perfect hiding places. And then, guess what? She hided, and the ghost didn’t go there because she locked the door. But the bear had keys, and you know he can unlock things? He unlocked it. He goed in, he looked. She had the goodest place ever. Guess where? The cabinet. And then, guess what. She blowed him bubbles. And it popped on him! His body keep going blup, blup, blup, down. And then, guess what, he died.

CHAPTER THREE

There, the ghost found her. His feet was left. His feet had a mouth. She didn’t even know that! And had eyes. And everything a body could have, except legs. Except arms, and legs, and a belly. And they have hands, so it grabbed her. Boom! And then he had hands so he could do that. End of chapter three.

CHAPTER FOUR

The bear ate her.

CHAPTER FIVE

Then the mother and the sister and the father and the brother, the whole family got eaten.

 THE END

She really did say “chapter one,” pause, then say “chapter two” and continue. The story ends on a dark note- Amelia can be spectacularly morbid, but always with a big smile, like she doesn’t know that what she’s saying is really grim. She was singing an impromptu song once that went “My birthday is today, my funeral is tomorrow.” Creepy.

Oh, hey, I almost forgot that months back I recorded the inking of the top panel as a speed art video and did a voiceover of the process. Here it is, check it out.

KIDS’ QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“Once when I was little I tried talking to a dog.
I said ‘ruff ruff ruff.’ It started barking at me and
I thought I’d accidentally said something like
‘your breath smells’ in dog language or something.
I got embarrassed so I said ‘I’m sorry’ and went inside.”
                                        -Charlotte, 7 years old

I let Mia have a handful of change.
“Now I’ve got millions of money!”
                                        -Amelia, 4 years old