From the Vaults

From the Vaults: An eyeball that jumps around and does weird stuff

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Two years ago I improvised a story called Run Backwards at Pittsburgh's Art All Night event. It featured an eyeball character that I later named Iye (a moniker I thoughtlessly lifted from one of Justique's short stories).

The original version was an experimental black and white tale about lost memories. When the opportunity came to be a part of Jeremy Baum's Memory comics anthology in early 2013, I remixed and remastered Run Backwards into this:

It was a fun chance for me to try out a different coloring technique, laying sloppy blocks of color underneath my loose lines.

After my Run Backwards remix, I was psyched to draw Iye again. Josh Blair's call for submissions turned out to be just the thing. He planned to release a final PDF issue of his Candy or Medicine zine and I wanted in on the grand finale.

I envisioned a story that paid tribute to Candy or Medicine's legacy in an obtuse way. In my mind, I pictured a tale that could be read both forwards and backwards. That's how I came up with Postremo:

Does it work seamlessly in both directions? HELL NO! But if you read the captions backwards ("This is where it actually begins? But will people understand... Obviously there's something odd going on here.") it sorta works. Sorta.

Overall, I feel like it's a perpetual work-in-progress, never realizing its potential but hinting at something interesting.

Anyway, the Candy or Medicine PDF finale never happened. And since it's been a year now that I worked on either of these tales, I figured it was about time for Run Backwards and Postremo to be unearthed... FROM THE VAULTS!!!

From the Vaults: Zelda

Monday, April 14th, 2014

I'm not a Legend of Zelda fan. Which, oddly enough, is the very thing that attracted me to this call for submissions.

Early last year, cartoonist Raven Perez hopped onto the semi-secret Webcomic Creators Facebook group and encouraged people to contribute to a digital anthology of short Zelda stories that he would distribute for free.

Here's the tiny Zelda tale that I submitted in April 2013:

Storywise, it's nothing special. Just a few brief pages that sum up my general distaste for the concept behind Zelda (and other "save the helpless princess!" stories).

But visually I was seeking to experiment. Inspired by the vector art my collaborator E.D. used in our Super Haters story arc, I wanted to push the color-heavy art style I'd utilized in The Edge of the Earth one step further.

I drew some raw lineart for my Zelda story that I eventually cleaned up and turned into this still raw (but decidedly less crappy) lineart:

With the lineart in place, I crafted my digital colors. A typical vector art process, I guess. But it was all new to me at the time! (Not to mention really tedious.)

Then I submitted my short story to Raven and patiently waited. Finally, a couple of weeks ago he decided to nix the project for good due to the low number of submissions he received.

No biggie. These kinds of things fall apart all the time. I'm just glad that the Zelda Jamthology is officially dead so I can unearth this comic... FROM THE VAULTS!!!

From the Vaults: Maximum Cactus

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

I attempted my first 24-Hour Comics Day in 2010, surrounded by friends and local cartoonists at Pittsburgh's Toonseum.

Being the rookie that I was, I approached the marathon challenge all wrong. Chief among those mistakes? Working digitally. (photos by Dan Greenwald)

I don't have any beef with drawing digitally. I think it's great! But in 2010, I had no experience drawing comics on the computer.

Other mistakes were made too. A year later, I wrote this list of the things I did wrong that day (featuring peeks at my script and completed art).

I completed nine pages that day and for years I sat on them. They're kinda ugly and confusing. I didn't feel like trying to make anything coherent out of them.

But early in 2013, I decided to answer an anthology's open call for submissions with a reworked version of my Maximum Cactus tale. Here's what I submitted:

My art here is rife with subconscious sexual imagery. I wish I could claim that I was consciously trying to make an awkward comic book full of phallic and vaginal symbolism, but I had no clue what I was doing.

Which is the exact reason why Maximum Cactus was unfinished for years before I finally unearthed it... FROM THE VAULTS!!!

From the Vaults: NoPants #4

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Eight and a half years after I released NoPants #3, I began work on a glorious resurrection that resulted in NoPants #4.

You can download a PDF of NoPants #4. And if you dare to care, here's the story of how NoPants returned from the grave:

In the summer of 2011, I joined the planning committee of the inaugural Pittsburgh Zine Fair. I was an active self-publisher at the time and hungry to help craft an event that would do zinesters and local comics creators justice.

I wanted to have at least one purebred zine on my table along with my minicomics, and I instantly thought of NoPants. I scanned in all of the old pages and began collecting them into a NoPants Anthology:

But I didn't stop there. Inspired by my old handiwork, I set about crafting a new issue of NoPants that would fill out the end of the NoPants Anthology. And thus NoPants #4 was born from my brain!

Desiring to stick to the loose format I'd developed over the first three issues, I mixed guerrilla collage with raw cartoons and some oddball prose pieces, including a fake confessional like this:

I had a blast putting this new issue together. I'd always used whatever magazines I could find lying around to supply the images and this time was no different. An unknown benefactor had purchased a year's subscription of Ebony for me and so I had a stack of unread issues sitting in my apartment.

Frankly, I think this issue of NoPants might be my best. With the older zines, I used at least one page per issue to communicate personal information about myself, be it music reviews or memories or something about my friends.

But this time around I had my blog and my podcasts satiating my desire to represent my true self to the world. And that freed me up to focus on putting together the most bizarre magazine satire that I could muster.

Will there ever be a NoPants #5? Maybe, but I don't know when.

I'd love to put the zine together now and end this trip down memory lane with a real bang. However, I've got my hands full with the AudioShocker and my new Nik Furious album (out on 11/12/13!) and much more.

So until the time comes when I can dedicate my brain to crafting the weirdest and most subversive magazine parody possible, NoPants will have to remain a distant memory... FROM THE VAULTS!!!

From the Vaults: NoPants #3

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

There is no NoPants #2. I went straight from NoPants #1 to NoPants #3. Why? Because I enjoy being obtuse.

You can download a PDF of NoPants #3. And if you wanna find out how I made this zine happen, here's the tale:

Before I get into the backstory, I want to gush about how much I love this cover. I fucking love this cover. There. Got it out of my system. Gushing over.

I tried to get personal in different ways with #3. Instead sharing music reviews like the previous issues, I opted for an in depth description of my favorite childhood game. Do kids even play Butts Up anymore?

There are some undertones of misogyny going on throughout NoPants #3 and that makes me sad when I look back on it. It's not oppressive or anything. Hell, you might not even notice. But I do.

By December 2002, my group of friends was changing significantly and I was becoming increasingly surrounded by a bunch of boys-will-be-boys type of guys who drank a lot and had a bunch of latent hostility towards women.

Stuff like this fake editorial was really funny to me at the time. But now it's not my sense of humor. I mean, I think the first few sentences are a decent setup. But then it gets very conventional and begins spinning the humor at the expense of the woman with no real payoff or satire. It's just kind of bitter and awkward.

Sadly, NoPants #3 was the unintentional end of the series. Following the 2002-2003 winter break, I returned to college with a serious hunger for partying and recording music. And I just forgot about making more issues of NoPants...

...until it was time for my senior thesis! Seriously. My senior thesis at Carnegie Mellon University was a zine. And so was my first post-college resume. I'd share them with you but I threw them away by mistake when I moved to Long Beach.

Next: Like a phoenix from the ashes, NoPants returns for the 2011 Pittsburgh Zine Fair with a fourth issue.