Saturday, May 31, 2008

GUESS WHO'S CONTRIBUTING TO DEAD DUCK???

If you check me out at Myspace.com, then you probably know where this is going. If not, then you're in for a pretty juicy bit of Dead Duck news....!

Over the course of the past couple to a few weeks, I've sent out e-mails to a handful of cartoonists whom I absolutely worship, asking them if they'd be interested in drawing a pin-up for my upcoming Dead Duck graphic novel. The list was short but specific, and each artist was chosen for the inspiration they unknowingly contributed to the development of my creation.

Out of that exclusive selection, one cartoonist, the guy, in fact, who I thought the least likely to respond, the guy who was by far the biggest name and biggest long-shot in my cartoonist wish list, actually wrote me back. He was extremely nice, and shockingly said he knew of my work (likely through Myspace), really enjoyed it and LOVED Zombie Chick! He suggested he'd be interested, but wasn't sure if it was something he could have ready immediately because of his busy schedule (and man, does he EVER have a busy schedule!). So I shot him another e-mail, telling him my deadline wasn't even until March of 2009, so there was plenty of time. After that, I left town to see The Kids In The Hall with Laura in Royal Oak. By the time I got back home today, there was yet another e-mail from the man, saying that YES, he would be able to draw the pin-up!

And who is this awesome cartoonist that I'm so completely head-over-heels for who's agreed to draw a pin-up of my characters? Well, let me put it this way...













You ever see the Disney cartoon Lilo and Stitch?

Chris Sanders, the film's creator, writer, designer, co-director and voice of Stitch himself (and now, the hilarious and gorgeous online comic Kiskaloo) has agreed to take on Dead Duck through his own gorgeous artistic vision. It will be featured prominently in the Dead Duck graphic novel which again, will be released in November of 2009. I am so gloriously excited about this, folks. To me, this is huge. And it's the biggest compliment someone's paid my work in a long time. Chris is now in an exclusive club of established cartoonists who dig Zombie Chick (Groo the Wanderer-creator Sergio Aragones conveyed his own love of my undead chicken when I met him last summer at the Motor City Comic Con).

So that's the news, folks! If any of the other's I'd written happen to get back with me, I'll let you know. But seriously, I'm on such a cloud right now that I don't feel I need anyone else. Chris is the ultimate!

More news later, kids!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

THE BIG MOVE

I've been meaning to mention this for awhile, and I'm sure I've hinted at it here or there in various posts over the past two months or so. But now, I feel the time is right to lay the cards down and show you people the hand I'm playing.

Laura and I are moving. Not immediately, mind you, but in the next two months. She got accepted into the masters program at Eastern Michigan to study theater, so we're pulling up stakes and moving down there. We've signed onto an apartment in Ann Arbor and we're officially moving in on July 25th.

Now before any MORE of you can utter the now much-repeated phrase: "But what will YOU do down there, Jay?", I pose you with THIS question:

Do you even read this blog?

I've got a graphic novel coming out in November of 2009, with a March 2009 deadline, so that's what I'm doing. Plus, I'm a freelance cartoonist. I've already got work lined up into September with more on the way. If I decide I want to get a job around town, or if I even have the time to, I will. But I'm a cartoonist with a book pending, folks. Asking me what I'm going to do when we move is like asking Jim Henson "What'll you do if this whole puppeteering thing doesn't pan out?"

So anyway, now you guys know. I'll make sure to give out our contact info to any interested parties when the info becomes mine to give. In the meantime, to any of my friends reading this who happen to live or have family in southern Michigan, just know that I'll soon be in a bit closer proximity to hang, meet for lunch or engage in a drive-by should you insult my possee or dis my baby's mama (No mom, Laura's not pregant. It's an urban colloquialism, i.e. a joke). Hit me back with a response, either here, Myspace or my e-mail at fourpanelhero@hotmail.com so I know you got this and are aware that I'll be storming the lower mitten soon. Phone numbers will be appreciated.

More posts are coming, folks. But bookmark this one in particular. I hope to see you all in due time.

--Jay

Friday, May 16, 2008

A COUPLE WEEKS MIA BUT WELL WORTH THE WAIT!!!

Sorry for the two week hiatus from blogging. As much as I love to reach out to the fans through my blog (all three of you, including my mom), it takes a good chunk of time to create one of these updates, time that could otherwise be spent working on my latest Dead Duck pages. However, I'm an attention hog, so getting these blogs to you, the people (again, two of you and hi to my mom) is still a priority. So with that, I've got a mess of junk to show you, so cancel your two o'clock appointment and tell the wife you'll be late for dinner. This one's a read.

I'm combining production news from two different stories here: the first is just a taste from my last story, DAY'S END.

As you may recall, DAY'S END is a dialogue-free story that explores life outside of work at RIP Inc., as well as the complex relationship between Dead Duck and Zombie Chick, and the class division between minions and zombies. Sounds like a hoot, I know. But trust me, it's good. Anyway, I tend to put a lot of references to stuff that means a lot to me into these stories, and this one's no different. I make reference to one of my favorite John Hughes films, Pretty in Pink:



Though I'm a child of the 80's, Pretty in Pink always seemed like a girl movie, so I avoided it until this past year when I decided to give it a shot. Not surprisingly, I totally loved it, except, of course, for the end, where Molly Ringwald's character chooses the hunky preppie guy over the dorky outcast (played by Jon Cryer) who truly loves her. That was a real burn. At any rate, the dork gets one of the greatest moments in any comedy EVER where he lip syncs to Otis Redding's Try A Little Tenderness, a skill I myself mastered at age sixteen. And the dork's name? DUCKY. I shit you not. Now this is a discovery I made a good four years after I created Zombie Chick and had her call Dead Duck Ducky. If this ain't fate, then fate can go get bent, 'cause it sure feels like fate to me!

Onto my latest story. This one is another slice of Dead Duck's childhood, which sequentially speaking will come after his origin opus tale, DEAD DUCK RISING (Yes, they'll both be featured in the graphic novel). In this one, we see J.P. Yorick dropping Dead Duck off for summer camp. Contrived, you say? Too derivative, you think? Been there, done that, you rehash? Perhaps, I retort, were it not for the fact that this is CAMP SCHOLOMANCE, a Transylvanian summer retreat run by none other than the devil himself in the hopes of finding an evil apprentice! Why would J.P. send Dead Duck there? Who will Dead Duck encounter? Why are all these sentences in the form of a question like we were playing Jeopardy or something? Follow me, kids, for a few answers, at least…



These are the model sheets I've sketched for some of the characters Dead Duck will encounter. We have the devil himself (inspired to a degree from the awesome design of the devil in Nelvana's animated special, THE DEVIL AND DANIEL MOUSE and to another degree, the goblins from the Rankin Bass cartoon of THE HOBBIT).

We also have a young Dracula (come on, it takes place in Transylvania. Like you didn't see this coming). I decided to forgo the clich├ęd interpretations of the character, drop the bat motif and give Drac a reptilian quality with a great thick dragon tail, which has been so much fun to draw! It practically takes on a life of it's own. Yes, I kept the pointed ears, but gone are the two pointed teeth in favor of a mouth full of 'em.

I've also sketched up loose caricatures of Richard Nixon and Adolf Hitler who will also appear in the story as I imagine they looked as kids. Hey, it's a camp for the potentially evil. Now there may be those out there of a more liberal slant (I'm with ya, brother) who wonder why I didn't put in a youthful version of a more recent political figure, an "oily" character on his way out the door. My answer: too easy. Plus, despite his apish face, he's not that much fun to draw.

Lastly, we see a gypsy whom I've named Tibor. He's modeled loosely off Bill Murray, and based a bit on Murray's role as head counselor at Camp North Star in the classic comedy MEATBALLS. Like I said, I pay mad props to stuff I love.



This here is view of the script I'm working from. I type it up on my computer, print it off, then go through it carefully and decide how I'll divide up the panels.



Simultaneously, I sketch out a fist (my bigger interpretation of a thumbnail, which is a small sketch that defines what I'll draw on the finished page). Using the script, I number sections of dialogue and put the corresponding numbers in the fist's panels where they'll appear in the finished work. This is actually the first time I've tried this method, and thus far it's working very well for me.

While I'm not prepared to show you any of this tale's finished pages yet, as a consulation prize, I'm going to give you a sneak preview of what will be the very first story in the Dead Duck graphic novel. It's titled THE SOUL-TAKER'S APPRENTICE or WHEN YOU WISH UPON A SCYTHE. The title is an obvious parody of a famous animation studio's product, but the story itself is of a far darker bent. So if you're ready, here's the first four pages in what became a fourteen page tale concerning Dead Duck's first foray into Minioning….



And as if all that wasn't enough, I'm going to share with you how I support myself in between working on Dead Duck. I've been caricaturing at parties, schools and corporate events for about sixteen years now, and only in the last three have I really felt like I was getting the hang of it. Now I'm very proud of my ability to caricature, and with my latest gig at Northwood University I had the foresight to document my subjects with my camera. So for your enjoyment, here's the best of the batch that I drew a couple night's back. It's a lot of fun for the most part, and there are far worse ways to make a living.

Now aren't you glad you stuck around to the very end? And hopefully I've made the two weeks it took me to post a new blog well worth the wait. I can't swear when my next posting will be, but rest assured, I'll have just as much cool stuff to share with you guys when that time comes. In the meantime, take care, much love, and keep checking out my blog for all the latest happenings!

--Jay