Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spread the Word. Win Cool Stuff!

I'm feeling that holiday cheer so it's time to give some gifts away.

There will be two prizes.

The first prize is your very own copy of Samurai The Graphic Novel! Signed by me and delivered to your crib by the U.S. Postal Service!

The Second prize will be a piece of original art from the book!. You can get your hands on this original art. Which I think would look smashing, framed in your living room (Red moon not included in original art version)
>>>>>
All you have to do is mention Samurai The Graphic Novel and link to our site. http://komickarl.myshopify.com/collections/frontpage/products/samurai-the-graphic-novel

...somewhere on the internet. It could be on DA, Facebook, Twitter, your blog or dare I say it Myspace. Just show us a link to it in the comments section of this Blog and you are entered. I will be choosing the winners at random on New Years Eve. What a way to welcome in the new year with free stuff!!!

Good luck and Happy Holidays!!!

Karl

Monday, December 20, 2010

Karl Altstaetter Slices and Dices Samurai

It's been my pleasure to work on Samurai The Graphic Novel with so many talented artists. This project has been a labor of love and it shows in the final product. Here is a short interview on the creative side of my experience of working on STGN.
You can pre-order Samurai The Graphic Novel here: Samurai Pre-Order


Karl Altstaetter
EIC
Samurai The Graphic Novel


In two sentences what is your STGN about?

SAVED is about a ninja who's village is destroyed by a Samurai clan. He spends his life looking for revenge only to find a dark secret that will test his belief in his very existence.

Where did your STGN story come from? What were your trying to achieve with the art?
SAVED was a story I had written a couple of years ago. Originally it was going to be part of a Graphic Novel that was going to combine some of my short stories I've written and drawn. It was going to include Postal: A Homicidal Love Story, Survival Instinct as well as the story GO 2 HELL. I like telling short stories because you have to get down to business quickly and be efficient with your storytelling. That keeps the energy going and I find that keeps me motivated creatively. As an aside I went pretty far with an idea called Samurai Billy. A Rockabilly Samurai story that never fully formed. Samurai Billy will be making a comeback in STGN Book 2 with Jamie Gambell taking over the idea and writing it.

What was your experience like working on Samurai The Graphic Novel. Was it a challenge?

STGN was interesting for me because I was editing the book. I had to jump start the idea and keep it moving as well as set up the structure for it to work. Although I've self published many of my own Comics it's totally different working with other artists with differing levels of experience with publishing. In the end it was great seeing all this diverse work coming in and all in one place in print. I think the biggest challenge is getting other artists to believe in and join your vision. In the end we have created a really unique and diverse comic experience which in today's Comic Book market is saying a lot. The great part is that book 2 and 3 are going to be even better quality. I also have to mention Jamie Gambell for his work on helping with the logistics of the book. He really came through on the project. Also Gerimi Burleigh lent his considerable talent to the graphic design of the book. Without those two helping on the editorial side it would have been an almost impossible task. From the Hyperwerks side my business partner Jamie Douraghy helped fund the book and has shown a great deal of faith in the project from the very beginning. Also Rex Mong for helping coordinate the printing in China. Rex's eye for detail and follow through has made the printing process a breeze.

What was your process for creating your story for STGN? Describe it step by step.
I had written some notes on SAVED and from those notes I made a loose treatment. I started doing layouts based on the treatment and revised those over a few months based on new ideas that were coming to me as I worked on other projects. I invited Jamie Gambell into the creative process and we had a discussion about the story and then I started the pencils and inks. I started coloring the story and eventually I turned the coloring over to one of my frequent collaborators the artist EVE. He jumped in and took the colors to whole other level and made the story really shine and have a distinct look. Jamie and I started the scripting process and I lettered the book.

In one word what best describes your style?
Evolving

How many years have you been creating art?
I've been creating art since I was a kid but professionally for almost 20 years.

What's your biggest influence artistically/story wise?
I have so many influences artistically that it's hard to pinpoint just one. Story wise Satoshi Kon and his style of storytelling has had a big influence on me. His death was a great loss to the creative community. 

Why do you think the idea and iconography of the Samurai resonate with the imagination?

On a visual level the Samurai has a silhouette that is so recognizable that it stirs preconceived idea in our minds. The Samurai as a visual icon transcends cultures like the Cowboy or the Super Hero. The Samurai imagery is so ingrained into our popular culture that it's easy to project yourself onto that iconography and that is a huge trigger for the imagination.

If you were a Samurai what part of Bushido (The Samurai code) best describes you. Pick two: loyalty, honor, obedience, duty, honoring your elders/ancestors, and self-sacrifice.
I would have to say loyalty. I think maybe I'm loyal to a fault.

The sword was the main weapon of the Samurai. What is your weapon of choice when it comes to art?My weapon of choice is the Micron Pen. I burn through these fantastic little pens like crazy.


What do you hope readers will get out of your story in Samurai?
I hope the emotion resonates with the readers. That's my hope with all my stories but SAVED in particular needs that audience emotional participation to work.


What are your latest projects or projects you are going to be working on in the future?My latest project is called Me2 which I am collaborating with MTV and their new site MTV Geek this coming year. You can read about it here. Me2 Interview on MTV

I'm also developing a new toy/TV show with a major toy company. I can't talk about that in detail but more news on that soon.  

I'll be finishing up my mini series Emerald City Blues which is my take on the world of The Wizard of Oz. Issue #3 is almost done. You can read more about it here: ECB Book 01

I also recently finished book four of Rostam Tales of the Shahnameh. It's a Comic Book re-imagining of the classic poems and stories of the Persian poet Ferdowsi. It's been an amazing project to work on and one I'm very proud of. It reaches out to readers that don't normally read Comic Books and introduces people who don't know about this aspect of Persian culture a unique and entertaining introduction to it. You can find more about it here: Rostam Tales of the Shahnameh site

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Samurai On MTV Geek

Check out my interview on MTV Geek. I talk about my new project Me2 and Samurai The Graphic Novel.

MTV interview


You can pre-order Samurai The Graphic Novel here: Pre-Order Samurai

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dan Smith Hacks Up The Samurai

To know Dan Smith is to love him. To see Dan's work is to be amazed by the level of imagination and humor he infuses into his work. Dan is a master of many styles and always seems to have a particualar take on everything he is working on. Whether he is doing realistic illustrations for role playing games or doing sketch cards of obscure characters Dan always brings his unique creative powers to the project.

Read below and learn about Dan's process behind his story for Samurai The Graphic Novel.

You can pre-order Samurai The Graphic Novel here: Samurai Pre-Order

Karl Altstaetter
EIC
Samurai The Graphic Novel





In two sentences what is your STGN about?

How everyone influences everyone, no matter if it is positive or negative. What you say and do will have consequences.

Where did your STGN story come from? What were your trying to achieve with the art?
The classic samurai movies were my main impetus for doing "An Honorable Death". Throne of Blood/Kwaidan for the ghost aspect and Harikiri for the winter setting.  The art style was trying to incorporate a slightly anime feel to my normal cartoon style...


What was your experience like working on Samurai The Graphic Novel. Was it a challenge?

It was a challenge. My initial story was 32 pages, and 1/4 of the way through it had to be pared down to 24 pages due to space restrictions...which was good, because it tightened the story into what I believe to be a better read. Second, my collaborators were coming up with such great concepts and art, it forced me to get my A game on...in the end, I am pleased with my results. (Never satisfied, but pleased. ;).)

What was your process for creating your story for STGN? Describe it step by step.
I work in a strange "artist" way (of which I am in the process of NOT doing...) of :
1. Concept-plot and script ideas
2. Layout- breakdowns of the pages
3. Story-text
4. Art-pencil/ink/color
5. Word balloons and final text.

In one word what best describes your style?
Conflicting.

How many years have you been creating art?
36 years.

What's your biggest influence artistically/story wise?
No one specifically, although in the future I will probably "use" someone in particular to keep my course more consistant.

Why do you think the idea and iconography of the Samurai resonate with the imagination?
Samurai tales are like western tales as they speak of personal moral issues. And they are visually powerful!

If you were a Samurai what part of Bushido (The Samurai code) best describes you. Pick two: loyalty, honor, obedience, duty, honoring your elders/ancestors, and self-sacrifice.
Loyalty and duty.

The sword was the main weapon of the Samurai. What is your weapon of choice when it comes to art?
A really sharp pencil, its my artistic fetish. (That's why I always carry an electric pencil sharpener.)

When you create an idea what's your first action? Write it out? Do layouts? Character designs?
Character designs/Layouts. I'm very visual when it comes to writing.

What do you hope readers will get out of your story in Samurai?
I hope they will enjoy it and maybe realize the importance of what they do.

What are your latest projects or projects you are going to be working on in the future?
I have finished a preview issue of a space prison opera story called INFERNUS (Think Escape from Alcatraz meets Star Wars with my weirdness thrown in.), I am also working on one arc of Jamie Gambell's HERO CODE series.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wayne Young Delivers "The Message"

I had the good fortune of meeting Wayne at Wonder Con in San Fransisco a few years back. I was impressed by his high contrast artwork and his style of storytelling.

Wayne's artwork transcends the "Comic Book" style by creating a world with his art.  Filled with deep blacks and stunning layouts you are pulled into the imagination of it's creator. You will also notice the expressions on the characters which I believe is a direct product of Wayne's acting background.

Sit back and enjoy this behind the scenes Q&A with a true master artist on the rise.

You can read Wayne's entire story in Samurai The Graphic Novel. Samurai #1 Pre-Order

Karl Altstaetter
EIC
Samurai The Graphic Novel



In two sentences what is your STGN about?

My story is inspired by a passage from the Hagakure (The Book of the Samurai) which states: Being a good retainer is nothing other than being a supporter of one's lord, entrusting matters of good and evil to him, and renouncing self interest. In other words, in my segment, the Samurai delivers a message but there is no indication as to whether he is doing the will of a good man or an evil man.

What was your experience like working on Samurai The Graphic Novel. Was it a challenge? 

I'm my own greatest critic, so trying to please myself is always a challenge. Samurai The Graphic novel will represent my first published work in comics, so I'm really exited about it. It's been an incredibly educational experience to see how it all comes together.

What was your process for creating your story for STGN? Describe it step by step.

I always start with character. Then, I try to imagine interesting scenarios to place those characters in.

In one word what best describes your style?

Noir?

What's your biggest influence artistically/story wise?

Artistically, probably Leonardo da Vinci. Story wise, I'd have to say Kurosawa. I'm a big fan and advocate of truthful, patient storytelling.

Why do you think the idea and iconography of the Samurai resonate with the imagination? 

Visually, obviously the Samurai are super-cool! But on a deeper lever, I think the concept of utter discipline and dedication is something that everyone can aspire to regardless of what we pursue. It's the same reason Bruce Lee is still so popular decades after his passing. It's the pursuit of perfection, even if it can never truly be attained.

If you were a Samurai what part of Bushido (The Samurai code) best describes you. Pick two: loyalty, honor, obedience, duty, honoring your elders/ancestors, and self-sacrifice.

Honestly, if you asked everyone who knows me, I don't think a single person would list obedience as a characteristic I possess. For that reason, I don't think I would make a good Samurai (or soldier for that matter!) However, boxing and martial arts have played almost as big a role in my life as my art so I'm no stranger to honor and self-sacrifice. But I guess I'd make a better Ronin than Samurai!

The sword was the main weapon of the Samurai. What is your weapon of choice when it comes to art?

My Mont Blanc Classique Black .05 pencil; it was a gift from my mom.

When you create an idea what's your first action? Write it out? Do layouts? Character designs?

Character designs. Everything starts with character for me.

What do you hope readers will get out of your story in Samurai?

Entertainment!

What are your latest projects or projects you are going to be working on in the future?

I'm currently in the process of creating a three-issue limited series. The tentative title right now is "Children of the Fall," but that may change. I'm finishing up issue #2 right now and the main character in my Samurai segment actually plays the role of the primary antagonist in this story. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sneak Peek at Samurai #2

Here is a behind the scenes look at some artwork from Issue#2 of Samurai The Graphic Novel.

Artwork created by Michael O'Hare.

You can pre-order issue one of Samurai The Graphic Novel here: Samurai #1 Pre-Order


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Landish Battles the Samurai!

I met Landish two years ago at the Long Beach Comic Con. I was imediately taken by his original style and unique approach to art. His style lands somewhere between, graphitti, manga and Loony Tunes but yet he has a voice that can only be described as "pure Landish." Landish was kind enough to answer our questions and give us some insight into how he created his story for Samurai The Graphic Novel.

You can pre-order Samurai here: Samurai Pre-Order

Karl Altstaetter
EIC
Samurai The Graphic Novel

1.  In two sentences what is your STGN about?
It’s about love and hate. Well, almost all my drawings are about love and hate. Microbes War it’s a story about samurai who fights with someone who usual people can’t see, also he doing it so good so no one can’t see a real fight. That’s why it calls Microbes War. But something went wrong and all world collapsed in front of Samurai and fight turns in a war.
2.  Where did your STGN story come from? What were your trying to achieve with the art?
It’s story about my own life. It’s very hard to be an artist, so hard to be a true warrior. Nevermind how much pressure falling on you from our world you gotta go forward. Microbes War full of jokes and cartoon violence, so probably people will not take it too seriously.
But that’s the point: I telling go forward positive, stay positive and keep smile.   

3. What was your process for creating your story for STGN. Describe it step by step.
Well, first I got an idea. It was coming after I watched Afro Samurai. I really like animation street style in this movie. Also soundtrack was badass. But I needed a villians. That was hard. I didn’t want him to fight against people, I wanted something new. Something that will look like real people. Not vampires, not demons, not zombies, something that still wasn’t. New creatures that accidently appeared because of human mistakes. Radiation, smoke, too much cars on streets, junkfood. Like this appeared Microbes. Original microbe is a very small thing that you can’t see by eye and for sure you can’t kill it. And what is more dangerous when it lots of them it makes it even harder to destroy them. So this was perfect for villians. People, that looks like people, but they are not really people. Hhhhh=)
But what makes them villians? That was easy. I made them drink adrenaline from other people. Without adrenaline human can’t live.
Then I made script. I create biography of Samurai, he was one of the greatest samurai who was working on “Organisation” - corporation fights against microbes. There are small “ Organization” firms in all over the world. My story happens in Japan. He takes special pills that help him to recognize microbes among people and make no harm to normal humans. Also he got transvestite friend Chiba who driving a taxi cab from place to place. Microbes often appear in night-clubs areas, cause there are too much music, drugs, sex and of course adrenaline. Samurai (Joe) became a DJ.
Then I pencilled all pages and after that I colored them in Photoshop. Printed and here you go. Microbes War V.1 from Darktoons comics from Landish founder, writer, penciller, colorist, publisher, producer ha-ha-ha-ha =))))
This is Israel. Wanna live? Work hard.
4. In one word what best describes your style?
KA-BOOM!!!
5.  How many years have you been creating art?
Wow. Since I was child. In 7 years I already knew that I will be comic artist. Between ages 12-17 ages I stoped and then get back. Well, I hope since that I will never stop creating art.
6.  What's your biggest influence artistically/story wise?
Mr. Skottie Young! The greatest!
Also Humberto Ramos, Francisco Herrera, Tara McPherson, Kukula, Greg Titus.
But Skottie have some kind of magic. He lives in his characters. Acting, feelings, designs of his character is something like theatre. By the way, because of his art I get back to comics. Well, thanks Skottie, hope some day I’ll see you.
Almost forgot. Music-music-music my big influence too.
7.  If you were a Samurai what part of Bushido (The Samurai code) best describes you. Pick two: loyalty, honor, obedience, duty, honoring your elders/ancestors, and self-sacrifice.
Honor. For sure it will be honor.
Self-sacrifice. Look at me, I am an ART SLAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! =)))))))
8.  The sword was the main weapon of the Samurai. What is your weapon of choice when it comes to art?
Pencils. With them I can work everywhere I want. No needs in electricity. Just me, pencils and papers.
9.   When you create an idea what's your first action? Write it out? Do layouts? Character designs?
Probably write it out. I see things all the time, but I have to sit and concetrate on something one to make it into art after. So I just writing some ideas here and there and then I mix ‘em up in one piece.
10.  What do you hope readers will get out of your story in Samurai?
Action in life. Start doing things!
11.  What are your latest projects or projects you are going to be working on in the future?
I will finish Microbes War series and then will start another comic. Also I working right now with one guy from USA on his project “Magic Panty 2” (1 I draw a while ago). It’s very fun and cool project and I have a lot of freedom to my creativity there. And I keep making all kind of comissions in Israel, USA, Russia, India. So I always open for work. I not hard person, you can tell me all about your crazy ideas and I will try to draw them. Feel free to connect with me!
Have a nice day, my Tiny Cannibals!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mike O'Hare Samurai Sneak peek

Michael O'Hare is known for his work on various toy lines and Comic work for both Marvel and DC as well as his creator owned title Flack Riot.

Mike is lending his considerable talent to Book 2 of Samurai The Graphic Novel. Here is a behind the scenes sneak peek at one his pages.  For more fantastic artwork from Michael O'Hare you can find him on Deviant Art: DA Page



You can pre-order Book 1 of Samurai The Graphic Novel here: Samurai Pre-Order



Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ten Questions With Jesse Toves

Hi! Fellow Samurai,
Another installment of Ten Questions (sorta). This time we talk to master Animator and Visual Effects Artist Jesse Toves. Jesse brings a unique process to creating his comics. They are created entirely digital.  Armed with his computer and his talent Jesse has created a futuristic epic for Samurai The Graphic Novel. 

You can pre-order Samurai The Graphic Novel here: Samurai Pre-Order

Karl Altstaetter
EIC 
Samurai The Graphic Novel


In two sentences what is your STGN about?
Encoding Bushido is a story about jealousy. It’s Cain and Able with robots.

Where did your STGN story come from? What were your trying to achieve with the art?
My story came from having a pretty specific objective - to expand my graphic storytelling vocabulary. The initial objectives for the group were simple enough - it was to “up” our game, to take our approaches to the medium and challenge them a little bit. For myself, that actually meant doing something with far more action, more technical involvement, and basically more density. So I am answering the question a little bit backward here, the initial pitch had only the working title of the Bushido Code, and I knew it would be science fiction. Even though like most comics artists I started my comics experience with the superhero genre, it’s never been my wish to do personal work in that genre. My initial pitch was huge - something other members told me would be more fitting a long form project and not an anthology like the one we were putting together. But I was already very attached to the world that was starting to emerge, and was asked if I could pare down the pitch which then worked out very well. But I remember the day at work when I found a few spare minutes to come up with the basic gist of the story - and I think some of the guys at work were discussing Pinocchio and the various modern attempts at bringing that story to life. Steven Spielberg’s “A.I.” was his Pinocchio told in a very science fiction setting and there is a scene in that film which is basically the inspiration for Encoding Bushido. In this scene, an artificially intelligent creation becomes jealous of it’s “sibling” - becomes enraged, and destroys what is actually just a copy of itself. Encoding Bushido asks a similar question, that if beings constructed become artificially intelligent enough to become jealous of one another, what will the dynamics in their relationship be like?

What was your experience like working on Samurai The Graphic Novel. Was it a challenge?
The greatest challenge of working on this project has been that I had already been working on the most challenging and rewarding OTHER project I have ever undertaken in my entire animation career. My work as an animator and visual effects artist during the same time represented as much of a game changer for my career as an animator as Encoding Bushido represents as an aspiring comic book artist. So the challenge of working - at various times - 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week on a television series AND working on self publishing my other books AND working on Encoding Bushido represented the complete use of EVERY WAKING HOUR of my life for most of 2010.

What was your process for creating your story for STGN? Describe it step by step.
If I had to describe my process I would have to say it was organic. I have become a big fan of the “mind-mapping” techniques of engineers and designers and have even used various computer programs to do so - but Encoding Bushido began entirely as a mind map asking the essential questions about what it means to be a samurai. From the mind mapping I could collate my ideas, write a pitch, the pitch became a plot, the plot became a rough script, that rough script was enough to generate thumbnails, then I refined the script a little according to some ideas I had doing the thumbnails, I made rough pages from the thumbnails and more refinements to the script. Now I know to some people this is going to sound very backward, but I did not make a final design for anything before finishing the script. I literally thumbnailed everything without the benefit of final concept art - the style I was going to use, virtually nothing I did was look development until into the rough page stage. I did this for various reasons which are mostly related to the fact that until I knew what the characters were really going to be and be able to do as informed in the script I didn’t want to lock into anything visually. In other words, if it was expedient for the story in some way I would alter the design or approach to something. It has always been my job in visual effects to follow the demands of the project and not force my own creative agenda onto something and I wanted to treat this project the same way. Say for instance I designed something like a rocket launcher into the character before I started writing the story. If nothing in the story called for its use I would feel like I wasted my time. So by the time I was ready to do the final layouts I had a solid idea of what the characters would be doing, what they looked like, etc. Sounds kind of backwards but it was important to me to force myself to think more like a writer for this project.

In one word what best describes your style?
Loose?” I don’t really know - I can tell you that the style for my other project is definitely “Noir” but Encoding Bushido represents a significant departure from that for me. As a matter of fact, most elements about any new project I work on will likely be rendered completely different form one another. Any story I want to tell will find its “look” or style. Runs very counter to the typical nature of comic book artists but I don’t want to get stuck in a look forever. I can’t remember who said this but it’s one of my favorite sayings - “everything in the world ultimately harmonizes with its ideal shape” and I like to think the same applies to art. Ultimately everything artistic finds its ideal form, style, or shape.

How many years have you been creating art?
This is a trick question - I would have to find in my life something I would consider art and then determine whether or not I had done that enough times to represent a decent enough amount of time to … just kidding. Professionally I have been creating art for maybe twenty-two years.

What's your biggest influence artistically/story wise?
I don’t think I can name any one person - maybe it comes out in my work, maybe it doesn’t. There are people I definitely include as artistic influences because I see the media effects they have had and have to name them - Frank Miller, Frank Lloyd Wright, Edward Van Halen, David Lean, Bill Sienkiewics, and J. R.R. Tolkein.

Why do you think the idea and iconography of the Samurai resonate with the imagination?
One of the first ideas I had about the entire project is that we truly are “standing in the shadow” of something much larger than any of us. We are literally standing in the shadow of the concept of the samurai - they were once very common and now we generally experience their message and likenesses in popular culture and media and not necessarily in our daily lives. But like all good ideas, the people who followed these beliefs left such an indelible impact on the world that we are likely to never forget that contribution. I think plenty of people would argue that we are generally experiencing a more abstract and filtered view of what it was to be a samurai but we are at the mercy of our distance from the real thing.

If you were a Samurai what part of Bushido (The Samurai code) best describes you. Pick two: loyalty, honor, obedience, duty, honoring your elders/ancestors, and self-sacrifice.
Uggh. I think this is likely a better question for someone else to answer about me personally because while I appreciate the ideals behind this system of honor it truly doesn’t have any meaning under the generally soft and “milktoast” level of society we encounter today - this isn’t feudal Japan after all and the consequences of our actions aren’t as serious as they were when people ACTUALLY carried samurai swords around and cut your head off for being insolent. Also, culturally speaking, Japanese people consider different things to be dishonorable especially in the time of the Samurai. I come from Guam and that is very near Saipan - it’s an island whereupon the Japanese occupants fearing for their honor and lives from the invading US soldiers flung themselves from cliffs with their children in their arms. I think to anyone in the United States seeing that actual footage - some of the surviving color footage is shocking even today - would say that taking your children to their deaths is dishonorable but the cultural view of the act at the time was that it was traditional and even acceptable. Sorry that’s a long non-answer - someone, upon experiencing me at my best (or worst) is more qualified to answer that.

The sword was the main weapon of the Samurai. What is your weapon of choice when it comes to art?
My opinion. I personally think anything you hold in your hand will ultimately be irrelevant if you don’t have a point of view about it. If I had to say something solid, and choose an actual art supply or product I would say a mechanical pencil - for it’s precision in both writing and drawing, I have used one of these more than most tools for their efficiency, portability, re-usability, ubiquity, and balance. They are never perfect, but it’s the habit of companies that make them to slightly re-design them every year to stay relevant that I think is funny and little bit of a fetish.

When you create an idea what's your first action? Write it out? Do layouts? Character designs?
I obsess. Literally - I obsess about something until it feels real and then I create something. Most of the time I am already in process on something which is just labor intensive and already well formulated creatively so it becomes a matter of using the skills or tools I have to make it solid. But the first thing is always obsession.

What do you hope readers will get out of your story in Samurai?
This is a long story and it all begins with a dream I had. I think everyone at one point in their lives has had to deal with the sting of jealousy in some way. The dream in question went something like this - I was alone and fighting two giant snakes, I managed to fight both of them to a draw, holding each one of them under one of my fists. I woke up that morning and felt awful, the anxiety of a situation like that was palpable and I happened to find a book on the medieval interpretation of dreams. Under the category of snakes, one of the most common interpretations of the appearance of a snake in dreams was jealousy. At the time I had been working at a company where I felt I was not getting the same credit for my work as other employees, and it was my opinion at the time that the attention on these other people was largely undeserved. If there is anything I would like a reader to take away, it’s that jealousy is poisonous - whether or not they are able to deal with it, move past it and learn from it is really a matter of whether or not you are even capable of detecting and recognizing it.

What are your latest projects or projects you are going to be working on in the future?
I want to finish a short film idea I had worked on for many years before realizing like a lot of independent filmmakers that I would need more money, technical know-how and time before I could make it a reality - it’s a western and will likely take several years to finish.
Currently though, I am working on finishing a series of comics called “Trouble, Guts & Noir” that began as entries in the annual 24 Hour Comics Challenge. The first two issues are available online on my website at:
I hope to have the last issue finished in January, 2011. This definitely falls into the category of “love” project - noir is not at all popular form and - if I dare say it - it’s one of those aging hipster kinds of genres. But I love it just the same - the world might be black and white but some of the people are as colorful and unpredictable as any in history and I can’t quite let go of the genre yet.
I also update my blog regarding Encoding Bushido on a regular basis here:
I talk about a lot of stuff that is and isn’t related to the book itself but all of it falls into the soup that contributes to the overall experience of making the book. For instance, I blogged about the software I use in the course of making the book but I also talked about the overall atmosphere of the industry that the story will be released into - it’s a more complete look at the world I create in than you may find in some blogs - who wants or cares what someone had for breakfast that morning if the blog is supposed to be about a title or new book, right? But I think everything tends to contribute to the book in some way or another and is worth writing about there.

Ten Questions (sorta) with Gerimi Burleigh

Hi All,
Welcome to another installment of "Ten Questions Or So" our new feature on Samurai The Graphic Novel blog. 
This latest interview is with Comic Artist, Writer, Illustrator Gerimi Burleigh. Gerimi has brought his considerable artistic ability to his story in Samurai The Graphic Novel. Gerimi is best know for co- creating the animated TV show Alien Racers as well as the writer/artist behind Eyes of the Gods his own creator owned Graphic Novel.

You can pre-order Samurai The Graphic Novel here: Samurai Pre-Order

Karl
Altstaetter
EIC
Samurai The Graphic Novel






In two sentences what is your STGN about?
A little girl who finds a haunted samurai sword on a school field trip and unites with the noble warrior spirit to fight an ancient evil

Where did your STGN story come from? What were your trying to achieve with the art?
I tend to write dark and unpleasant stories.  I wanted to do something fun and offbeat.  The story has a wacky twist that most people wouldn't expect from me.  I'm trying to let my inner 80's animation lover go buck wild


What was your experience like working on Samurai The Graphic Novel. Was it a challenge?
It was some of the most fluid comic creation I've done in a long while.  No artist is ever satisfied with their work, however, I do fill like I pushed my talents a little further.  Each project is a baby step.


What was your process for creating your story for STGN? Describe it step by step.
I always start with an outline.  In this case, I limited myself to one sentence per page, so I had a 24 page outline, ((3) 8 page sequences).  I do thumbnails based on the outline, adding dialog as I go. 

I do the lettering/panel layouts in Adobe Illustrator, print out the lettered panels 2-up on 8.5x11 inch paper, and draw layouts. This lets me work the lettering into the image composition and storytelling better.  I try to avoid placing characters in places that make for awkward speech continuity.

I draw the layouts in red pencil so they are dark enough that I can see them through a lightbox, but not so dark that it will obscure any corrections I draw over them in regular pencil (HB). I flip the layouts on a lightbox to fix anatomical mistakes and tighten up composition/perspective.  I scan in the corrected layouts, enlarge them in Photoshop and print them out in a low opacity 100% cyan on 8.5 x 14 inch bristol board.  I stole that technique from mainstream comic inkers who frequently work from scanned pencils emailed or uploaded to an FTP server. 

I choose to work on 8.5x14 inch board because that's the largest size my scanner will fit.  I got tired of tiling pages when I scanned them in.  For some reason, there's always one part that doesn't seem to line up right.  I used to pencil on the cyan layouts, then ink over that, but I've recently started jumping straight to inks.  My pencils aren't particularly tight anyway, so it saves me a step.

I scan the finished page, flat it, and color it in Photoshop.  All done


In one word what best describes your style?
Expressionistic


How many years have you been creating art?
34 years


What's your biggest influence artistically/story wise?
Bill Sienkiewicz, Walt Simonson, John Byrne, Will Eisner, Frank Miller… it's a boring list because they're the guys every comic creator goes to, but they're the ones who've been laying it down for years.  I'm starting to enter an Alex Toth phase.  I always keep reaching back and finding new things to study.


Why do you think the idea and iconography of the Samurai resonate with the imagination?
Every culture has a noble warrior class that strikes a chord with story-lovers. In the case of the samurai mythos, I think it's the stoic, unyielding commitment to a code of honor and conduct, unto penalty of death/ritual suicide. In a world surrounded with so much dishonor, it's inspiring to hear tales of figures so committed to protecting their ideals.

If you were a Samurai what part of Bushido (The Samurai code) best describes you. Pick two: loyalty, honor, obedience, duty, honoring your elders/ancestors, and self-sacrifice. It sure as hell ain't obedience! …I suppose, loyalty.


The sword was the main weapon of the Samurai. What is your weapon of choice when it comes to art?
Miyamoto Musashi, master swordsman and author of The Book of Five Rings says:

"You should not have a favorite weapon. To become over-familiar with one weapon is as
much a fault as not knowing it suf´Čüciently well. You should not copy others, but use weapons
which you can handle properly. It is bad for commanders and troopers to have likes and
dislikes. These are things you must learn thoroughly. "

I'm always tweaking my process and trying new things.  I've tried inking with a brush several times over the years and have never been please with the results.  I recently discovered that I was using brushes far too large and I have been pleased with the results for the first time.  I tweeted about it… "Finding the right brush to ink with is like meeting the perfect girl after a string of bad relationships"


When you create an idea what's your first action? Write it out? Do layouts? Character designs?
Most of the time, I write down a summary of the story, anywhere from a paragraph to several pages.  Depends on how much of the story comes to me at once.  Occasionally, I get an idea that primarily visually based.  In that case, I'll do a sketch or two.  Sometimes, I write paragraph descriptions of paintings I want to do.  If I see the picture clearly in my head, but know that a quick sketch won't do it justice, I'll just describe the image to myself and stick it in a folder somewhere until I have time to come back and flesh it out properly.


What do you hope readers will get out of your story in Samurai?
Fun, adventure, and a sense of wonder.


What are your latest projects or projects you are going to be working on in the future?
My graphic novel EYE OF THE GODS is a psychological thriller about a man cursed with remote viewing.  It is available in print and eBook format and will soon be solicited for distribution at fine comic book retailers everywhere.  A 26 page free preview is available for download from my website.

I'm also working on a book called MORNING STAR.  It tells the tale of Lucifer's fall from heaven as a western.  A preview sketchbook is available.  Find out more about both books at http://optichouse.com

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ten Questions With Samurai Artist Donna Letterese

Hi All,
Welcome to the new feature "Ten Questions" on Samurai The Graphic Novel Blog. We are going to be running a series of interviews with the creators leading up to the release of book one of Samurai The Graphic Novel. Some of them chose more than ten questions so some of the interviews may run over with bonus Q&A material.

First up is the multi-talented Illustrator and Comic Artist Donna Letterese. Donna has developed a strong following in the L.A. underground art scene with her expressive and colorful style. I hope you enjoy her exclusive interview about her work on Samurai The Graphic Novel.

You can pre-order your copy of Samurai The Graphic Novel right now at: Samurai The Graphic Novel Pre-Order

Karl
Altstaetter
EIC




1.  In two sentences what is your STGN story about?

Someone who is romantic, and perhaps desperate, enough to fight for love.  And someone who is willingly blind to the futility of that battle.

2.  Where did your STGN story come from? What were you trying to achieve with the art?

My story came from the idea, originally voiced by Oscar Wilde (and also by the girl in my story, "The Nightingale And The Warrior"), of: "What a silly thing love is.  It is not half as useful as logic, for it does not prove anything."  

People talk about how love has no logic, passion makes people mad, and all the rest of it.  Usually, that's discussed in a positive context.  Love can be beautiful, but I think it's interesting to explore the other side of it.  A lot of times, people do crazy things for love, but it's to their ultimate detriment.  Any time someone has to give up something for another person, make a grand gesture for someone else, or make a big change to prove said love, the person putting forth all that effort may not even not benefit from it.  Giving up one's career, or converting religions, are oft-cited examples, but there are tons of them.  

In any event, I don't think it's a good idea to give up a part of yourself for someone else.  But it happens all the time.  In Oscar Wilde's story, "The Nightingale And The Rose," the Nightingale is a perfect example of this.  As in my story (and the reason she tries to dissuade others from making the same mistake), she gave up her life for love.  And unfortunately, the person she gave up her life for didn't care.  She was giving her life for the idea of love.  I think it's equally powerful, and perhaps more painful, if a person does that not just on an idealistic basis, but for another individual.  That's where the girl and the boy part of my story comes in.

As far as the art goes, I wanted to show the emotions of the characters, as well as get the overall feel of the story.  I felt that the body language and facial expressions of the characters was important, not just with the human characters, but also with the Rose Tree and the Nightingale.  I think the expressions of the human characters and the Nightingale vary between hope, grief, and anger, although the Rose Tree is allowed a few evil smiles.  He does take a perverse pleasure in taunting the girl, even if he feels bad about it later.  But overall, I wanted to create a sense of foreboding, which is why there are distance shots, silhouettes, and the like with roses, thorns, and birds, up until the protagonist's descent to the underworld.  All that foreshadowing is also supposed to mirror the girl's own misgivings, since in her heart of hearts, she fears her mission is pretty much failed before it's begun.  Yet, she can't acknowledge that possibility to herself.  Ascetically, I loved playing with darks, lights, silhouettes, and the rose theme.   

3.  What was your process for creating your story for STGN? Describe it step by step.

I came up with a few outlines of different story ideas and sent them over to Karl, who organized a great deal of the project.  He gave me feedback and let me know which story idea he thought was the most interesting, which ended up being "The Nightingale And The Warrior."  

I did sketches of what the main character would look like, and did a lot of research as to different Samurai styles of dress, types of fabric used, etc.  Google (and, occasionally, Bing) was a helpful tool, and I also picked up some books.  One book was full of old Japanese illustrations, another was a contemporary illustration book of different Samurai costumes, as well as other costumes from that time period in Japan.  

I then alternately typed and hand-wrote out the script of what the text parts would say, as well as the character dialogue.  I made thumbnails of the story, and had to cut/rearrange some stuff as I went along, to fit it all in.  When I got to the final pages, I first laid everything out in pencil, then I inked over what needed inking, and hand-inked of the dialogue what I could. 

If you include inception, planning, initial sketches, and the end process of working on the final pages with penciling, inking, coloring, scanning, etc.,  I worked on the story from May through October, taking any days off I had to work on it.  I worked on it at home when I could, and sometimes would take my art pad out with me when I knew I'd have hours to kill, camping out at coffee shops to work on the story.  I even stayed in a hostel a few times just to shut myself away in a private room without any distractions whatsoever to get the pages done, working for ten to twelve hours straight, "The Shining" style-- without Cabin Fever, though, I promise!  But it was worth it, every moment of working on it was a great experience, and I learned a lot.

4.  How many years have you been creating art?

I've loved to draw and I have been drawing since I was a kid.  I've always studied art in school, including in high school and college where it was something I chose to focus on.  I became specifically interested in the comics and illustration side of art during my junior and senior year in college, and I've been focused on those from that point up until the present.

5.  What's your biggest influence artistically/story wise?

Great question.  I love many a novel, but I'm going to go with some plays I love, since they are slightly closer to the comics form.

I love plays which make you sit on the edge of your seat and focus on the characters-- even if it's to their fascinating demises.  Two plays that have inspired me, because of their tightly wound stories and intense characters, are Martin MacDonough's "The Pillowman," and Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
As far as art goes, in terms of fine art/popular art, I've always loved Goya, Frida Kahlo, Alice Neel, and Camille Rose Garcia.  Leo Politi is a favorite children's book illustrator of mine.  With comics, I'm a big fan of dark yet cute/elegant, which Dame Darcy does to a T.  I love Lynda Barry, her drawings are great and she is hilarious (and I've met her, she is so nice; I'm a huge fangirl of hers).  I also admire Phoebe Gloeckner.  I love how she draws scenes and people, her intense black and white style, and how she pulls no punches with what she'll show and draw.  The first artists I got into when I seriously got into comics in college were Robert Crumb and the Hernandez Brothers.  I'm obsessed with line work, shading, and pens, so I could look at Crumb's comics or his art books for hours.  I love the stories in "Love and Rockets," and the character designs, scene depictions, and black and white images are also extremely well done.

Some people love only the extremes of black and white, and other people love only intense color.  For whatever reason, I love both and I work in both.  I think my love of both is also is reflected in the above artists whose works I am inspired by.

6.  If you were a Samurai what part of Bushido (The Samurai code) best describes you. Pick two: loyalty, honor, obedience, duty, honoring your elders/ancestors, and self-sacrifice.

I would like to say loyalty and duty, if I personally were a Samurai.  However, according to my story, it sure looks like loyalty and self-sacrifice would be the two chosen codes.  Concerning my story, if you want to argue that the main character is a dutiful Samurai (over it being her simply giving up on her lost battle), you could say she is familiar with Seppuku.

7.  The sword was the main weapon of the Samurai. What is your weapon of choice when it comes to art?

Pens, without a doubt.  I love color, but at least as a base, I do a lot of work with pens in black ink.  I definitely want to make a "pen is mightier than the sword" joke here, because I shamelessly love puns, but I will refrain.

8.  When you create an idea what's your first action? Write it out? Do layouts? Character designs?

It kind of depends on what I'm working on.  It's different for a single illustration than it is for a written story, or a sequential art story.  For comic stories, I usually type up a written outline of the story's basic framework, and then do a few character design sketches.  I find thumbnails and layouts extremely helpful, and I did quite a few of them for the Samurai Project.  Pretty much what I described about my exact process earlier.

9.  What do you hope readers will get out of your story in Samurai?

Good question.  That love is important, but not at the sake of one's safety or dignity.  That grief is what it is.  Nobody should take advantage of someone else because of that pain, and nor should a supportive person think that all the love in the world can fix it.  And, that the original "Nightingale And The Rose" story is a great one, along with Oscar Wilde's many other works.  Whether they are plays, stories, or books, check them out!  He has the gift of being both poignant and hilarious.

I will say that the choices of the main character in my story are not something to be emulated, and that love and respect of one's own self should, again, be above what others ask of you.  My story is not to glorify self-sacrifice in the least, particularly for parties that don't deserve it.  I do hope that men and women alike enjoy it.  I know there is a lot of pressure for female creators to create strong female characters, which I feel that my protagonist is up unto a fairly obvious point in the story.  However, I wrote the story from the point of view of a person-- people of all genders have been there, and anyone can react drastically to disappointment and heartbreak.  And hey, it's a fantastical enough story, she might just be able to come back.  Personally, I love a good resurrected Dark Phoenix kind of tale.

10.  What are your latest projects or projects you are going to be working on in the future?

 I have a lot of ideas for new sequential stories, and I also have old stories that I want to work on again.  It's an aim of mine to get back on that.  I'm working on some pieces for gallery shows.  I'm in the L.A. "roaming" show "Cannibal Flower," which goes up about every two months, and I'm involved with the shows put on by "Slum Circus," which is run by Dave Castro.  He's a great comic artist, as well as a horror artist, and is doing a lot of awesome stuff right now.  Info about "Slum Circus" can be found at the Blogspot, http://slumcircus.blogspot.com

In addition to comics and art stuff, I'm also spending a lot of time working on my cards.  I have a line of handmade greeting cards that I sell at Comic Cons and Art Fairs around (mostly Southern, but on occasion Northern) California, which are almost like one-panel comics in and of themselves-- except the pun/caption is on the inside of the card, and not on the outer illustration.  I'm working on those pretty steadily right now since the holidays are coming up, and I will also be working on them pretty steadily for the Valentine's Day Season.  

Basically, there's lots of stuff I want to write, draw, or write and draw, so I'm excited for every possible thing I have on the horizon.  Working on "The Samurai Project" has been a great creative endeavor, and I've met a lot of wonderful cartoonists slash human beings being part of the project.  So, I'm happy that the good vibes from this project may just tide over and push me forward towards whatever comes next.