Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Desk Shot 12-30-09

finished inking a page of Stretch of the Imagination today, and starting on another. Pretty soon I'll have to start the finished artwork for the READING WITH PICTURES anthology, which means I'll be setting this aside for a week or so.

I'm learning how I'm approaching this as I go. Most (97%) of the b&w line-work will be traditional, with the other 3% being mostly borders and text I didn't want to fudge with in brush. I am using a gel pen as well, but due to the drying time it needs I only use it on the areas that really need a hard-straight-edge.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

deskshot 12/17/09

I figure, "Kevin Mellon does these all the time, seems like fun, why not." So here is a deskshot of a page I'm inking on my massive light table/layout table. The pencils were done digitally, and the inking will be done mostly in brush with a little office max gel pen mixed in.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Act-I-Vate Experience

The ACT-I-VATE Experience from Carlos Molina on Vimeo.

Just finished watching it, and I haven't been this jazzed to get to work in a long time. I've been excited about web-comics for a long time... now it's like my head wants to explode with candy and streamers flying out.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thumbnail for RWP anthology

Looks like I'll probably be doing a story for the READING WITH PICTURES benefit anthology. Figured I would show folks a thumbnail of a page from my story.

still playing with the dialogue, so thought balloons and captions are just hints at the moment.

Monday, December 7, 2009


I'm in competition over at ZUDA again, and this time it's with my buddy, Josh Hechinger. Our story is THE HOUSE ALWAYS WINS or THAW... a horror/mystery mix that is free to read, cuz we like you that much.

If you like it... or even if you just like us (I'm not a proud man), then give us a vote. I've copied and pasted Josh's instructions on signing up and voting (this bit also contains info about a contest we're running).

So, the Zuda contest relies on votes. Not unlike American Idol, actually. And if we win, we get to do the comic as an ongoing series that we get paid for and everything. Which would be great, I tell you what.

So, here’s what we need from you:

1) Go to

2) Either sign in, or make a new account at

2a) If you’re signing up, just fill out all the required (red asterisk) fields.

3) Go back to once you have an account, and sign in.

4) Go to:

5) Click the button marked “Favorite” on the sidebar.

6) Click Five Stars on the “Rate this Comic” section, also on the sidebar.

7) Finally, click the big “Vote!” button; again, right column. That, Favorites, and the Rating all count towards our winning the contest.

8) Feel free to leave a comment as well. I don’t know if it counts for anything, we just like hearing from folks.

Actually, wait, speaking of comments: we’re also running a little side contest. Basically, whoever gets the most votes for us gets drawn into the series as a victim of the ghost.

First prize is that and a copy of the Eisner and Harvey Awards-winning anthology Comic Book Tattoo, signed by me and John (we were both in it). Second prize is just you being in the comic.

So if you get other people to vote on our behalf, make sure they leave a comment saying it was you who got them to do it.

Hope you enjoy it, and THANK YOU!!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

couple O' sketches

did these between working on other things over my thanksgiving travels.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

reworking a page...

Had a project on my computer, and one page was just eating me up inside. So I will be spending a bit of time reworking it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Digital Pencils again

Some more digital pencils for my Stretch of the Imagination project. I will hopefully start inking these pages in the next week.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Digital Pencils...

First time I'm working this process. I'm gonna rough in all my pencils digitally, then do the inking traditionally over top my monster lite-box. I'm going to knock out the rest of the pencils (6 more pages) before I move on to ink.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

last update for the night...

and tomorrow I need to work on comic stuff. I will return to this painting after Thanksgiving.

really can't wait to finish and scan...

since some things just get washed out in the hand held photos I'm taking. Making progress though, from the time, I may not finish tonight... but it will get done.

still going

happy with some areas, other areas (the background) have a ways to go to make me happy. Still at it though. (this will teach me to do a color study in photoshop first)

underpainting done

Not a lot of difference from the last update, just finishing up my under-painting by blocking in the darker colors using a mix of burnt umber and paynes gray. I should update at least two more times today with the progress I make on this.

Friday, November 13, 2009

thought I forgot, didn't you?

I while ago I got started laying down pencils for a painting, and then I had to focus on a bunch of other stuff. Obviously I haven't gotten much further, but I have toned the paper and started laying in darks. I will be taking one of my days off next week to focus only on this, and should be able to mostly knock it out, so remember to check back.

My big ol' light table covered in in-progress and failed attempts... I should be using this guy next week also, and will have to clear it off.

My paint, pallet area for my painting.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Practice sketching

Honestly, until the last few weeks I never really inked with a brush to any large extent. My education in inking involved tech-pens. Since I decided I'm going to do "Stretch of the Imagination" largely in brush, Ive been practicing a bit.

This was done all in brush...

and this was me playing around with coloring it.

Now it's time for me to get to penciling pages.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thumbnails: Part 2 the revenge

Here's some more thumbnails connecting to what I posted yesterday, plus a second 2 page comic that would lead into it. This time I'm going to be less talky-talky.

Now to get to doing some digital pencils.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Process Step 002

Alright, I figure since I shared the first step of making this strip, I will do my best to keep folks updated in the process till the finish(this will also crack the whip on me getting this done).

This is the thumbnail stage. Since I'm basing this on an idea that I scribbled for myself, based loosely on myself, in this stage I tare apart, rearrange, expand and contract on the text. Dialogue is still up in the air, but space still has to be considered for the text to go.

Here are a couple of brush warm-ups, about 2.5"x1.5" I did at the start of this to get myself in the mood.

The actual thumbs are done in a mix of blue pencil and ball-point pen at 3"x4".
The first page of the comic is just there to set a bit of the fantasy element of the story and to establish the time of year and maybe implant a little bit of craving.

Since I avoided an establishing shot on the first page, I needed to set up the environment that the story would take place in. That's the only real pupose I set for this page.

I know in on the third page that I'm going to put down some narration where the dialogue is gonna wander around a bit, then return the reader to the story.

The fourth page is when fantasy and reality will begin to overtly mix.

I set some restrictions on what I can do on the page (firm belief in the idea that people become more creative when they need to find ways to work around limitations). The main rule for myself was that I would work in a twelve panel grid. No page so far actually uses twelve panels, but the grid format seems to fit a horizontal composition really well.

A bit more of this story to create, I'll post up the final few thumbs tomorrow.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ink Sketch: Stretch of the Imagination

Doing some prep work for my "Stretch of the Imagination" idea. Since the stories I write will involve me, this includes the first self-portrait that I've done in a few years. The drawings in this picture were done with a brush pen(pentel black 101) and an Office Max gel pen 0.7. It feels good to get back to messy materials, but I have to remember to be carefull not to smear the ink as I work... especially with the gel pen.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Final One for the night

Last character sketch I'll be posting tonight... maybe not the last one I'll do, but it's time to get away from the computer for a bit.

and another

digital character sketch

decided to do my character designs for the characters of this story digitally, since I'll be working the entire project this way... and I really don't want any disconnect in my mind on the look of the thing.

A bit of something I'm thinking about...

A lot of what I've done personally for comic work so far has been fairly superficial. I don't pretend to be a great writer, and when face with a deadline I go for cheap laughs or things of that sort. Does this mean I want to get really deep or philosophical... no, I just want to do a project about the stuff I know for the sake of doing it.

That being said, for a few weeks I've been popping an idea around my head called "A Stretch of the Imagination". Initially, I hope to take stories of events that have happened to me, and reinterpret them in hind-sight. I will always have a bit of me in science fiction, fantasy and horror and what I show on the page will reflect that. Eventually I would like to bring in guest writers to tell a story, and for me to loosely interpret that story through my own eyes.

I actually have a few sketches I posted earlier involving this project. It will be a chance for me to get back to inking traditionally, which is something I've been wanting to do for a long time.

Below is a short idea for one of the comics. It's written in short story form, with almost no dialogue added at this point. It is a scratched in outline that needs to be built up, cut down and reshaped; however, since I like to share my process I'm going to post it here.

A Stretch of the Imagination:
A Glass of Pumpkin Ale

by John Bivens

God I craved it. Trying to think of what set me off... the time of year, the article I read, the smell of pumpkin pie cooking at my day job... I don't know. At some point memories of the previous year had started seeping into me in a random fashion.

Pumpkin ale is full bodied, the nutmeg assaults your nostrils as the sweetness fills your mouth. It tastes like fall, like Halloween, like Thanksgiving. Near me is one of the few micro-breweries (second oldest in the state of Illinois) that still uses real pumpkin to make their yearly batch. I remember last year, it was finally perfected. The minute the dark liquid hit my lips I have to believe that my eyes dilated and I saw everything that went into that glass.

Thanks to some publicity that the pub ad recently gotten from a local indie-paper, it seemed like the entire surrounding community was checking in weekly to find out if the batch was finished and the pumpkin ale was being served. Let it be known that I have mixed feelings about this publicity. I am happy that this place that I go to relax, eat good food, and drink some damn fine beer is given the credit it deserves; at the same time, these are invaders coming into a place I feel as comfortable at as I do sitting at my drafting table. My secret is revealed, and now I must share.

Two weeks ago I walked into the brew pub. For food I ordered my usual fall backs: pounder of fries with cheese, bacon and ranch, and a plate of sirloin bits (if I'm with a buddy we add on the Mediterranean Melange onto that) and ask one of my favorite bartenders if they have the pumpkin ale yet.

“Yes, finally I've had enough people asking about that stuff,” his New Jersey accent still hanging in there despite the mid-west transplantation.

I feel both excited to get my drink and sad that I've been one of those people. I place my order and within a minute have a pint in front of me. Everything I wanted this to be is spilling out, growing from the head of foam.

I smell it... the nutmeg is there. Not as pungent as I remember but it is definitely there.

I put my lips to the rim and tilt it back. I'm expecting nirvana, a slap in the face that may blind me. I set the glass down, and it's alright. Only alright. Is this batch different from last years... probably... even if it's not I convince myself that it is. Looking back on it, being two-weeks wiser, I built up that moment too much. I finished my pint, my food arrived, and I ordered a pint of “Big Bad” which is also a usual of mine. The bill was paid and I left thinking, “I wonder what it will be like next year.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Since folks were asking...

here's the finished inks.

in progress (outlines)

big fight scene that I'm currently putting my outlines into. I should have this page wrapped up in a few hours.

More Digi-Inks

a full page of Digi-Inks that I finished late last night. Gonna rework a page that I decided was the weakest in the proposal I've been working on. Should have it all wrapped up by late this afternoon.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Popgun Volume 4

The Information to order can be found at the Popgun website. I'm included in this volume, doing a story with the wonderful Elizabeth Genco.


A couple of portrait sketches I did in order to warm up to work on a new portfolio aimed at a potential client. The person I used is William Elliott Whitmore, great musician and all around good guy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

panel in progress

making that journey between pencils and inks, one tiny step at a time

Monday, October 26, 2009

just found

Found this picture from the 08 SDCC. I'm standing behind a few of the other CBT creators while we were all doing a signing at the Image booth. It was nice to have a place to duck into when going to my first San Diego Comic Con (or Comic Con International as they call it now-a-days).

Sunday, October 25, 2009

An Ink Sketch...

For a semi-auto-bio/semi-fantastical comic series I'm thinking of.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Inks for an earlier pencil, shown below.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My loose pencils for another page of OLD WOUNDS. Sharing this because it's a fun bit of storytelling, and it's been a while since I've really drawn any action. It was great getting to play with how the eye would work with the flow, and how the weight of certain panels would mirror or be inverted.

(Note: Obviously I'm only working the pencils this loosely since I'm inking the pages also... I figure everyone would get that, but I still felt the need to mention it.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Early rough pencils, to a page I'm currently inking. This project has been fun to work on, due to the good back and forth in my collaboration with the writer. This page started as a splash, and I felt a couple of small insert panels would help show everything the writer wanted in the panel and help lead the eye around a bit (yes, I like lots of panels on a page... I think this makes me a brain-damaged-comic-artist). I whipped this up and sent it to my writer, who liked what I was doing and then suggested some subject and order changes to the smaller panel, which will make the page much stronger in the end... and tell more than I initially was.

For this comic the I'm going back and forth from doing the pencils traditionally and digitally (obviously this page is digital), but all the inking up to this point is being done digitally.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

both done in a moment when I was bored and hungry.

Character Sketch for a project...

I'll show bits and pieces of this project as I work on it (it's a big one, so it will be going on for a while).

Friday, September 25, 2009

a panel...

... to one of the projects I'm currently working on. I illustrated it separately from the rest of the page (I was using this guy to help get a feel for the story), and will crop and adjust it as needed to fit it in with the rest of the panels.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Creative Title Goes Here...

The first step (for me) in creating an acrylic painting. Mostly a contour drawing done with mechanical pencils on watercolor paper.