Think of the CHILDREN!

And Tango Makes Three, a children’s book about two male emperor penguins who adopt a penguin chick (based on a true story) is #1 on the list of “most challenged” books for 2010 kept by the American Library Association (also known as the ALA).

The ALA’s “Challenged book list” is made up of all of the books that most frequently prompted people to call, write or visit a library and request that a particular book be removed from the collection. Homosexuality, religious viewpoint and “unsuited to age group” were some of the reasons given for removing “And Tango Makes Three” by those who objected to the book’s presence in libraries.

I haven’t read “And Tango Makes Three” (although ‘read’ may not be the right word since the book is mostly pictures). It apparently tells the story of a pair of male Emperor penguins named Roy and Silo at the Central Park Zoo in N.Y.C. who ‘coupled’ and then adopted and raised a chick which was not being properly cared for by it’s biological (and presumably hetero) penguin parents. I hear that the book is absent any sexual content. For some people, having children get access to a book that describes two male penguins raising a chick is apparently “too much.”

"The Evil Underground" in production

If you haven’t been keeping up, I’m doing a comic book (ahem, graphic novel) about the life and work of Richard S. Shaver, the artist, writer, conspiracy theorist, outsider, etc. (chapter 1 was previewed here).

I haven’t tried to draw a comic book in something like 30 years, so I’m learning as I go along. But it’s been a very interesting learning experience, although it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be.

I started by trying to write out what I would have happen in the series, but that made it kind of difficult to imagine and I found myself writing things like, “1) Richard thinking, “I’ve got to figure out what is happening…” Foreman: “Get to work!” 2) Richard (working)”All right, all right.” I just didn’t think that kind of script would be very helpful.

I then started doing pencil sketches on notebook paper — just fast scribbles — as an outline. In this way, I could think about and work on pages as a complete unit. I’m not tied to a specific page count or layout, but I want to avoid having a particular interaction between two characters end on a page where the viewer/reader will have to turn the page to resolve that interaction.

Below is a sample page. This is page 1 of chapter 2.

I decided that the first 2/3rds of every page 1 of each chapter would be taken up by a ‘splash’ panel that sort of introduces each chapter. Between the time I drew the rough layout (above) and the chapter 2 page 1 (below), I decided to make the art of the ‘splash panel’ refer somehow back to the cover of one of the pulps. The splash panel from Chapter 1 was based on an Amazing Stories cover from one of the early issues that had the Shaver Mystery in it. The splash panel from chapter 2 is based on the artwork from another pulp from 1938 (can’t remember the title right now, but I’ve reproduced the art below (last picture in the thread).

After I have my rough layout, I begin drawing the panels on bristol board. I initally use hard pencil to rough out the panels and figures, then add the lettering and then try to improve/tighten up the drawing. When the pencil roughs look pretty good, I use a pen to ink all of the letters (lettering is my least favorite part), then I go in with brush, nib pen and a fine tip magic marker (usually in that order). Finally I use a little china white to cover any smudges or add white highlights. As you can see, I made a few changes between the ‘rough’ version and the inked art below. Instead of the woman being tortured (above), I borrowed the girl in chains being menaced by “Igor” (below) with some sort of furnace/idol in the background. In the panels below, I made a few changes, including giving Shaver’s wife more of a 1930s contemporary hairdo. There were also some small changes in dialogue.

Finally, below is a copy of the artwork I used for the inspiration of my chapter 2 splash panel. It’s a fairly typical pulp cover from the 1930s… you have a ‘mad scientist’ type lowering a woman into a glowing vat of some kind in the background while a girl chained to some girders is being menaced by a defective in the foreground. I liked the woman’s pose and thought the defective could model as a stand-in for one of Shaver’s dero. In case anyone is wondering, this picture was the model for the splash page of chapter one.

‘Exqusite Corpses’ proof is off to the printers!

I just got done uploading the first version of my new “Exquisite Corpses” book to Lulu. I don’t yet have the final artwork for the cover (I just used some placeholder art) and it will take between 5-15 days for Lulu to send it back to me so I can look it over and test the concept and make sure it ‘works’ before I make whatever minor changes are needed and offer a new version (v2) for sale. Estimated page count is 91 pages; estimated cost is around $10.00 for the book and it is A5 size (about the same size as an 8.5×11 sheet folded in half vertically)… profusely illustrated. About 26 pages in the book are blank, but when you see the book and how it works, I think it will make sense why.
When the proof arrives, I’ll post pictures showing how it works.
Unfortunately, the shipping is $3.99 for one book — which ups the price to around $14.00 each… which isn’t too bad, but is just about $2.00 more than I was hoping for it to cost. I’m making less than $2.00 a book gross. Now with the time and postage and sample copies I’ll be sending out to a select few members of the blogosphere, the project will probably be a net loss — bad business for an unemployed guy, but I’m hoping that the book will generate interest and get my work some attention.
Due to the special nature of the book, even if I took out all of the slightly pervy or PG 13 stuff, I doubt anyone would publish it as more than a vanity project, but I eagerly anticipate the public’s response because this book is a labor of love.