Concerning Percolation

I have a part-time gardening job. My employer is very proud of her garden, but she still has a hard time appreciating it. For example, it’s being considered as part of a garden tour show, and it’s in the top percentile in terms of quality. She was quite surprised by this assessment by the garden show committee, but admits, she’s a bit too close to provide an impartial opinion of her work.

Frequently, with my own work, I have to immediately walk away from it once it’s been expressed. If I don’t, I’ll think it’s shit. But I’ve found that if I leave it alone for a while, I can provide a more impartial opinion.

So there’s 2 legal pads sitting below my desk with a script called This Bitter Earth written on them.

I wrote this script because I really liked the idea of an orphan boy living on a ferry in the Puget Sound, using the car deck for skate boarding, and spending is free time reading books, drinking tea, and feeding mutated orca whales.

Earth’s sea levels have risen substantially and the dominant life form is mold and fungus. This monoculture of fungus is choking the planet and Zenith spends his days sending signals into deep space, a practice handed down to him from his father. The lore goes that a scientific expedition left the Earth long ago, and that if they can call that scientist back, they can help fix the planet. But, fungus doesn’t want that…

Percolation is also a great method to make coffee.

Concerning Humans, Elves and Buggers

So, I’m done illustrating Enter Cedar. There’s still an epilogue to sketch and ink, but I think I’ll wait to finish those 15ish pages before posting. So it might be a minute before I add new content to the comic on this website.

In the mean time, here’s a concept I’ve toyed around with, that I think applies to some of the “big picture movers” of the upcoming series. I call it “Humans, Elves and Buggers”. Or, the Imbibe version would be, “Beasts, Bots and Boos”.

Humans (or “Beasts”) are beings with finite lives. They must procreate to proceed forward in time and they must teach knowledge to subsequent generations. Titus Waiting is not entirely human, but he is a parasitic being who needs hosts to live. This, combined with his reliance on human culture to build his technology, makes him pretty human.

Elves (or “Bots”) have infinite life (think Lord of the Rings). While they still procreate, they don’t do it to further the species. However, elves still need to be taught knowledge. But because they live forever; once learned, forever kept. The KBR is an infinitely living robot who definitely has no urge procreate, but continuously learns through this knowledge retention programing.

Buggers (or “Boos”) like humans, have finite lives and must procreate to continue their species through time (think Formic Queens from Ender’s Game). But because they have a hive mind and collective knowledge, they don’t teach or pass down knowledge, they just know everything. Cedarface is part of the spiritual hivemind. While his mothers may not procreate, Cedarface was made. It is quite possible that Cedarface’s golem nature may make him mortal. I haven’t figure that one out yet.

I’m not sure if these 3 characters perfectly resemble these 3 definitions. It could be argued that Cedarface, the KBR and Titus Waiting all have infinite live and don’t spend time procreating, which makes them all Bots, which makes the Imbibe Universe a story of Bots vs Beasts, with no Boos present. But it could be argued that Cedarface’s mothers are Boos, because while they live forever in human minds, they are ultimately reliant on the mortality of those human lives. Cedarface’s mothers must cultivate belief of themselves within humans to continue existing

Concerning Inkwash Vs. Color

Color adds so much to a piece. I was reviewing pages from Deep Circuitry and noted that a lot of the lower illustration skill can be forgiven because of the color.

And then I saw the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie and started thinking “how can I add color to my next project”?

Cons: Color theory is challenging and hard to get right. Fixing analouge color is challenging to fix in digital post. Color (done well) will be time consuming. Painting analouge color will be challenging to keep consistent for 100 pages. B&W is fast. B&W is classic.

Pros: Color (done well) looks fuckin’ great.

Well. Okay. Lots of cons, but the one pro outweighs them all. Great…

I think what I’ll consider is borrowing from Hayao Miyazaki’s method of minimally watercoloring his storyboards. From the Studio Ghibli movie, Ponyo:

Or, perhaps even keeping the process analouge up until color is required, and maybe doing color digitally. This would be faster and quicker to recover from mistakes. I’d probably even consider doing focus areas with cell, and everything else in watercolor style. This is the same method I used for Deep Circuitry. For example:

At this point, it’s a matter of exploring how it will fit within my current work schedule.

If script and thumbnail exist, then-
– Thursday: sketch
– Friday: ink
– Monday: ink wash
– Tuesday: digital touch up and lettering
– Wednesday: post and publish

There’s quite a bit of room within these 2 hour sessions, especially since I’ve been slacking (not waking up on time, not spending the full time actually working).

Concerning my friend Phil

My friend Phil died last week. He was 37. He was amongst my best friends. He was a brother. He loved and supported my ambitions. He helped me bring my ideas to fruition.

Phil was an early supporter of Deep Circuitry; reading early scripts and pitches.

Phil helped me make the Algorithm Interviews; showing up on set to hump gear and provide unsolicited safety advice.

Phil told me that The Antique Dealer was terrible; which was appreciated.

Phil worked and supported a number of other ambitions when we had our Wasted Talent Films, LLC. He was an assistant director and gaffer for our feature film, Rivertown. He was most proud of his unofficial position, “Pizza Producer”. Phil was an electrician at the time and when I couldn’t afford to feed actors and crew, he would buy pizza for everyone.

I still don’t know how to feel. I missed last week’s posting for Enter Cedar when I heard the news. My partner and I are trying to carry on our life, because as she put, we’re living for Phil now.

But it’s hard.

Concerning the Tracking of Labor Stats p2

I started digitally illustrating Deep Circuity (DC) around March 2020
I finished digitally illustrating in March 2021
1 year 0 months
400 pages in 52 weeks
Actual average is 7.7 pages a week
Intentional output was 3 pages a week

I started analogue illustrating Enter Cedar (EC) in Nov 2021
I’m gonna finish analogue illustrating in August 2023 (Note, I estimated 7.5 months back in Nov 2022)
1 years 8 months
100 pages in 60 weeks
Actual average is 1.7 pages
Intentional output was 1 page a week

That’s a pretty terrible decrease in my average. But I’m still pushing out illustrations for a full, finished 120 page script in a year’ish. So I got that going for me.

I think the better way to look at the data is that it’s taken my roughly the same time to finish the same amount of pages.

But, I could look at the extra 8 months for EC and round up, and then the takeaway that it’s taking me twice as long to illustrate by hand. Shit, am I saying I could have finished EC earlier this year and now be finishing up Where the Highway Meets the Corridor, had I just digitally illustrated it?

BUT, also decreased by weekly page output from 3 to 1. So I can’t be too hard on myself. Had I kept that up, I probably would have finished EC in a similar time to DC.

Yeek. Here’s a scene from East of Everett.

Concerning Energy Beings

So we meet the Erueniks in Deep Circuitry, Rachell and the other inhabitants of TVR are Erueniks. After Deep Circuitry leaves Eruen, the Erueniks develop a singular culture with a singular language and a obsession with finding entertainment and stimulation that isn’t TVR. They become super afraid of all technology after being abandoned in TVR (think Dune). This entertainment involves scouring the universe for DNA for genetic manipulation. This is how they find Earth.

And while they’re scouring Earth, they cause a great disaster and destroy their planet and they all turn into energy beings with no memories. Groph in Groph’s Green Wizardry is possessed by one of these beings. Eruen is also the planet that Titus finds in Titus Waiting.

I’ve been toying with redeveloping their visual look.

Concerning the Smaller Steps

I’ve told people that I wasn’t interested in making shorter works, like making short films. I believe this sentiment was mostly driven by economic needs (short films don’t make money), but this sentiment also caused my skills to be left wanting. I did do a few though.

Between Enter Cedar and my next project, Where the Highway Meets the Corridor , there is a handful of smaller stories that happen. As I explore color and water mediums, I revisited an older piece. It was fun. I’ll probably “rerelease” these pieces once I’m done posting the last pages of Enter Cedar.

Concerning “Where the Highway Meets the Corridor”

Do I really want this to be my next project? I really like the characters, I’m just not entirely certain the script is the strongest. It was my first big effort at writing a feature length script. I had written a lot before near the end of my contract writing and animating safety training videos down in Olympia. It’s a mockumentary, which is a style I really like to watch. How that will convert to a comic? That’s a good question. But, we’re going to find out. I think it’ll help that I like the characters so much.

This is Robert, Allen and Samantha. Robert is a chain smoking stoic sort of fellow, the sort of person who feels everything but fails to emote it. Allen is an alien who is obsessed with collecting firewood, splicing genes and playing banjo. Samantha is a passionate and idealistic thinking leader who prides herself on combining the functional with the superfluous. Both Robert and Samantha have known each other since childhood and since learning of Allen’s presence, have dedicated their late teenage years to protecting their alien friend.

Concerning Aliens Wearing Flannel

I think I’m identifying a advantageous pattern. I post 1 page a week right now. This 1 page is focused on linearly progressing the Imbibe narrative forward. These blog posts are separate. They are meant to explore other areas of Imbibe, if only to provide some relief to the hyper focus necessary to carry the linear work. I should attempt to always have some new sketch or concept done for Sunday, as it will give me something to blog about.

This is a sketch for “Where the Highway Meets the Corridor”(WHMC), which is the next big project in Imbibe. You’ll recall Gray in “Enter Cedar” mentioned a brother cousin, who is responsible for crashing the saucer that left Gray stranded. Allen (above) is that brother cousin, playing the banjo. Allen has been on Earth for a long time, possibly 30 years. If we place “Enter Cedar” in the early 1980s, WHMC does not have smart phones, so it’s early 2000’s.

Allen has been on Earth long enough to develop affinities for Earth culture like playing banjo, wearing moccasins, sporting flannel, and obsessing over the collection of firewood (the cousin subspecies of Erueniks don’t like to be cold). David (the mustachioed fella on the right) has kept Allen a secret for a long time. WHMC is the story of attempting to get Allen to safety once that secret is revealed.

Allen’s personal style was actually a relic from when this project was intended to be a live action mockumentary. It would have been a low budget indie film. To cover up a potentially underfunded makeup job, our alien was going to wear bulky clothing, a hunters cap and cataract sunglasses. There’s even some footage on a hard drive of me holding a styrofoam head, painted gray, with 2 green Easter egg halves over the eyes. The eggs had motion tracking marks on them, I was going to create “alien eye goggles” the actor could wear, and then we’d add the eyes in post.

Concerning Happiness and Focus

I have a new friend. They do poster art professionally. They’re work shows a great deal of enthuesiasm. I visited them last week and they showed a bunch of their work to me. You really feel like they enjoy the process when you look at their stuff. It made me reflect on my own work, and how much I don’t enjoy it sometimes.

My own work makes me think of the quote “I hate writing, I love having written” by Dorothy Parker. I think of this phrase often, as a lot of my process is driven by the need to produce anything. It’s driven by hitting a quota, because the fear of becoming unfocused and moving on before the project is finished is paramount.

This led me to reflect on how much I miss animation, and I spent a whole day considering the idea of adding a 30 second animated teaser for each comic project. I’m not an animator, so these projects would be limited, probably involving a lot of “squigglevision” style (which I’m a big fan of). But still, it would require a lot. I’ve probably spent a good 6 months on this particular project, and it’s not done.

But I spent most of the day considering whether or not to purchase After Effects and a few plugins, as I have other animated teaser ideas for my other projects. I think a few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought twice, and would have impulse purchased After Effects. But this time, I wrote out my projects, and my wants, and came to the conclusion that with the labor and skill available, adding animation would be untenable.

But it really sucks to walk away from the ambition of that. Which brings me back to enthusiasm, but enthusiasm within the scope of what can be done. I would love to get to the point where my work reflects how much I think and adore the characters, places and ideas in my scripts and comics.

Like, “Enter Cedar”, I knew that these characters had names, but I never took the time to discover them until this week. I was drawing them uniquely, they’ve had personalities, but I was rushing through the illustration of pages and not taking the time to discover what those names were. Perhaps it’s these areas I should make more time for.