Saturday, July 19, 2008


I've got something very special here. This is the last complete Dead Duck story that I'll ever create in my old studio before our move to Ann Arbor. I wrote it in my studio, I drew it in my studio, and I colored it in my studio. This is the story I've been talking about that taps into my childhood love of old 60's cartoons. It turned out to be better than I ever could have possibly imagined, and I'm thrilled that my last story created in my beloved studio could be THIS story (NOTE: This is only my last story created in this studio. I've got forty-plus pages of material yet to create for the book). And because I love you guys, I'm saying to hell with "sneak peeks" and I'm showing you the story in it's entirety right here and now. You can just scroll down to view it right here, and click on the individual pages to make them larger. Enjoy, and please let me know what you think.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

DEAD DUCK: Special guests stars, new site and more!!

So I'm having a bitch of a time trying to stay on top of packing for our big move to Ann Arbor, hold down my day job, my freelance art job, get all the red tape cleared away that moving brings about, AND work on Dead Duck. If someone could ask the 900 pound gorilla who's sitting on my head to at least change his diaper, I'd appreciate it.

That said, I'm still diligently plugging away at ol' Dead Duck (I adamantly refuse to call him DD or Zombie Chick ZC, though others are free to do so if they wish). I just began my latest story, one that's been in the back of my mind for a few months now. I wanted Dead Duck and Zombie Chick (eff you, abbreviators) to make a pick-up in the limited animation world of early 60's cartoons. I had a character all made up, Chutney Baboon,
who would be their contact. I even wrote up a script that was quick and to the point with a great concept and punchline. At best, the story was going to be one fully illustrated page, making it the shortest Dead Duck story yet.

But then the insomnia hit and changed everything.

I'd been nailed with two bouts of insomnia in the past week, several days apart. The second bout woke me up at 1:00am. Since I couldn't sleep, I decided to fret and fuss with this new story. I tinkered with the script, even penciled out and partially inked the first page.

Then, when 6:00 am rolled around and I had to leave for work sans a good night's sleep, I began to hate everything I did that night. I decided to leave it alone for awhile.

A few days passed, and finally I returned to the drawing board. I had this elaborate scheme involved with the illustrating of this story where almost everything I did for the art would be filtered through Photoshop somehow. I ended up hating that idea, decided to stick to my organic cartooning guns and just draw it out like I usually would. But then, today, a crucial change in the story came to me that made all the stuff that wasn't working suddenly work very well.

First off, I ditched Chutney and the nameless female protagonist that accompanied him in this story. Instead, I brought back two very old and very popular characters of mine from my days as a cartoonist for CMLife. The story itself stayed the same, almost word for word, but the inclusion of these characters really fleshed it all out for me. Suddenly this story seemed valid and fun.

And who are the characters in question?

None other than The Krazybread Man and Snow White, two of the main characters from my comic strip "Mother's Goofs." For fans of my old strip, hopefully this will be a nice little reunion that you'll enjoy. However, you may find that these aren't entirely the Krazy and Snow that you used to know. I purposefully drew them in a UPA style, which is a term for the flat, angular, simplistic look that a lot of 60's cartoons had. It was necessary for this story, it's whole purpose, really. My style is very much in that realm already, but I had to push my art to be even flatter and sharper than usual. The other thing that's different is the spelling of Snow White, which is now Sno Whyte. It's a kind of urban thing that I'd wanted to do since I was still working on the strip four years ago, but by then her original spelling had been well established.

But beyond that, they're the same ol' characters you knew and loved. This being Dead Duck, of course, means someone is going to die. It's part of his job. It's no big mystery since Dead Duck and Zombie Chick are already dead, but it does kind of narrow down the odds a little for who it'll be.

Now, to people unfamiliar with the characters, it doesn't matter. You needn't have known them before to get this story. It's just a fun cameo for me and just a couple characters to anyone else. They could be anybody really. It's the story that will count.

So here's a sneak peek at the first page. It's going to probably be two or three pages when finished, which is nice since it gives me more room to have fun with the illustrations.

Here's some trivia on this story: As a little kid, I'd wake up at the crack of dawn, shuffle into the living room with a bowl of cereal, suffer through the tail end of the WNEM TV5 morning farm report and then bask in the greatness that was Rocky and Bullwinkle reruns. So that's me in the front of the TV in the first panel. This whole story is a tribute to those pre-dawn cartroon experiences. The conflict between Krazy and Sno on this page was inspired by the old Fractured Fairytales (as was Mother's Goofs before it), particularly the Rapunzel episode.

There is some deviation from the Rocky and Bullwinkle motif. The name of the animation studio I created, for example: PB&J. Very briefly in 2006 I signed my work PB&J, and when creating this story, it seemed reflective of the old H&B Cartoons logo found on most Hanna Barbera cartoons in the 60's. You'll find later on in the completed story that I make a direct reference to Hanna Barbera character Fred Flintstone as well. Both Jay Ward studios and Hanna Barbera Studios really shaped my art and imagination in those early years. Heck, they still do today. So this story, dark though it may be when fully read, is still a loving tribute to both animation giants' creative output and my youthful enjoyment of them.

Beyond the comic itself, Webmaster Foco (which makes him sound like the sensei of my dojo or something)and I have been busting out asses to create a very cool Dead Duck website within my old website, and the grand unveiling will most likely happen sometime in August or September. So far it's looking sweet. It'll have this blog as its news center, links to my other outlets for Dead Duck (Deviantart, Myspace, etc.), and even some free downloads like wallpaper and avatars. But finally, Dead Duck will have a home of his own that isn't sponsored by an outside website with shitloads of limitations and no shortage of pop ups and spamming.

So that's it kids. Check back for more news as it comes! Laura and I are hitting the road on July 25th for the big pilgrimage to Ann Arbor, so you may not hear much from me around that time. But rest assured I'll have plenty to show you when we're back up and running. Peace and love until we meet again!