Friday, October 29, 2004

The colors of war.

this is a pin up Ba did for a comic book here in Brasil. I think it looks great, but I'm a suspect on this particular matter.

It's funny how it relates events that happened here, but it could easily be about the civil war in the US.

Another weekend.

Enjoy your weekend. May it bring that special look from someone you love, or from someone you're dying to meet, there at night, staring from across the room. Happy halloween for all with another one of my old zine covers, which remains to this day one of my favorites.

May of 1997.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

She shot me down.

Smoke and Guns sketch. The character, however, is feeling kinda sad in this one, and she is everything but sad. She's the girl with an attitude, the one you look and know right away she's not not to messed with.

Do you want to dance?

The comic book artist should be like a dancer, with attitude, confidence and initiative. The dancer walks across the floor and asks the girl to dance with him, he does not wait for somebody to discover him, to ask him, to lead.

You are the storyteller. Your story is up to you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Silence, you fool!

Doing comics has a lot to do with talking. When you're working with someone else, be it the writer you're drawing the story for or the artist you're writing for, you have to tell the other exactly what you want, what you have in mind and what don't like. You can tell what you like as well, but that is more or less obvious if the other looks at the stuff you've already done.

Don't think anyone will think you're stupid if you don't understand what's the writer hidden purposes for a certain scene. Always ask away every single question you might come up with while reading the script. Remember that everything you don't know the answer for (and that needs an answer for the story to be told) won't be rightfully portrayed if you don't know what's the story you're telling.

I talk a lot with my brother about our comics. Maybe we talk too much, but it seems to help our work, so we just keep on talking. Sometimes, we argue, we fight and shout at each other.

Some answers just won't come quietly.

Just a little something else...

People are now talking about the new DEMO, which I believe is already issue 11. Another great cover in what I believe will be a series of really well crafted covers that will enter the history of comics, right there with the Watchmen covers and the Sandman covers.

I just had a conversation about covers during my coffee break (yes, I take coffee breaks, I'm human and brazilian coffee is delicious) with an artist friend of mine, in which we were talking about how different covers are from the interior art, not necessarily in style, but in weight and in the amount of density it needs to sell the book. Great covers will tell a story on it's own, a little tale curious enough to make everybody feel that need to open the book and start reading it.

Monday, October 25, 2004


The bell ringed at the studio and I answered.

"Hi, is this the place where I can find Fabio Moon or Gabriel Ba?", said the voice of a man who certainly wasn't from the city.

"Who may I say is asking?", I replied, suspiciously.

"I'm a cartoonist and I wanted to talk to them about the market and to show my work."

Market? Does he think I'm selling fish over here?

As I opened the door and let the guy in, I noticed he didn't smell nice at all, reinforcing the image of a fish market in my mind.

I prayed for rain.

Friday, October 22, 2004

At the end of this week...


How to be inspired by great work.

I live in Brasil, as many of you know. As a result of that (and, let's face it, on account of too much work on my table right now), only last wednesday I had a chance to see Kill Bill volume 2. On the same day, also as a result of the lateness of arrivals around here, I finally read The League of Extraordinary Gentleman volume 2.

Both were great.

It's amazing how they both work the audience. That's their job, and they're really good at it. Perfect timing, good dialogue, the mood and the twists and the great and interesting characters. They both remind us creators that you should do your best and that your best should be fun.

It was a long week, I'll be back on Monday.

Go have fun.


as a weekend bonus, a old cover from my mini-comic days (eventhough, when I was doing them, they were called fanzines).

April or May, 1997

Monday, October 18, 2004

When you know what you want, you know where to go.

What's the first step to our addiction? Reading. We all start as comic book readers, one way or another, and there's not a single artist or writer in comics who never read a comic in his life. And, for the time we remember kindly in our minds, we loved the comics we read.

Okay. Time passes, we grow up - to the eyes of some, anyway - and we decide to do comics. When that happens, we probably don't even know how a comic book is done. If we're lucky, we already know there's a person, or a bunch of people, creating the stuff, but we may not know their names at first. When we do, it's always puzzling who does what. To me, it still is kinda blurry what's really the artist's part, what's the writer's function and so on.

That's the point where many people get lost in their quest: they don't really know what they want to do in comics. Mostly all begin with the hope to become the famous artist, even if only famous among the small comic book market. Those who discover very early their complete inaptitude to draw will think about becoming writers, but if you follow these ones from early on on their lives, you'll probably see that they were bound to become writers all along. But what about the rest of us? What about the guy who draws something, even if it's not pretty? What about the guy who can do a great Jim Lee page, and a great Mike Mignola page, but can't do a dozen of any? What about the guy who just can't write any good stories, can't draw well enough to be a super-hero artist, can't draw enough to tell his own stories, and still wants to do comics?

Many colorists in the industry are failed pencillers or failed artists. Many letterers are failed artists. Okay, you can say that lettering is an art in itself (and it really is), and that there are great colorists out there, that's not the point.

So what's the point, really?

I don't know. What I do know is that I see many artists who love comics and they just don't know what they want to do in the business. I don't think it's good for an artist to have many different styles and try many different types of comics, from the super hero type to the newly born kid's comics. You can work in any type of comics, but you don't really need to change your style, or try to create a different style for every comic you're trying to get a job in, because that may distance the artist from his own personal style, which is his most important skill, in my opinion. The artist, no matter what he draws, must have a style clearly his own to translate everything he shows in the page with it.

How do one gets there?

That's the question everybody wants to know the answer. All I can say is that, even if you don't know, the only way you can get anywhere is working it. If you want to draw, go draw. You may not be fit to draw super heroes, but if you keep drawing you may find out what's really the stuff you SHOULD be drawing, what stories you should be telling, who you should be.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Not just anybody's help.

The best feedback an comic book artist (and writer, for that matter) can have comes from the reader. He's your target audience to begin with, and he will eventually buy (or fail to buy it, in case you suck) your book.

Comics should, at first, work as a medium where a story is told. If you give your work to someone to read and he (I'm sticking with the "he" bit 'cause most comic book readers are male, even if my most avid fans aren't) does not understand your story, even if it's only a part of it, your story has a problem. It's easy to assume he "didn't get it", but it's always good to stop and think about "why didn't he get it?" in the first place.

When I was beginning, my audience consisted mainly of my friends at college and most had never read a comic book before. That was a great bouncing board for me, as they would ask me questions I took for granted and made me think about all aspects of making good comic book that everybody can understand.

Do my comics got dumber because of that? No, they did not. They just started working on another level. For me, the joy of creating a new story consists in layering several levels in the story, so there'll be something there for everybody.

A late farewell.

Scott Kurtz put this over at his site.

Beautiful image.

Coincidentally (or not, for those who believe in this type of stuff), we did a Superman-like character last week for our weekly children's magazine's job.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Falling in love all over again.

Newsarama talked with Steve Hamaker about coloring Bone for it's new Scholastic edition. All I can say is that the color previews look very nice.

In fact. That's not true. Yes, the colors look nice, but I have MORE to say about it. Bone was, in my mind, probably the best realized comic-book in the hands of one artist. In the same way Sin City was created to work in black and white, so was the adventures of those three Bone cousins, and Jeff Smith succeeded effortlessly at making that colorless world come to life in front of us. Now, in a way I think Sin City wouldn't work, Bone gets a color version that's also very beautiful to look at and doesn't diminish the accomplishment of the first version.

It take a very god artist to tell the best story he can tell in black and white, and that goes to say that he only have himself to rely on. And, if he's really that good an artist, his work will remain his even if somebody works over it, and that's what's happening with the colored Bones.

Steve Oliff had this slogan for his Olioptics company: "the better you draw, the better we color", which tells the core of my argument. Coloring something is easier if the drawing in back and white is well realized.

Today, I think artists got used to colored comic-books, so they're leaving a lot of the work for the color: notions of light and shadow, of mood, hour of day, foreground and background definition and even texture. These artists, when working only n black and white, will fail in telling a story that require stuff that they don't do anymore, let alone stuff that they never learned or tried to do.

I love working in black and white. There's a classical feel in black and white stories that I love, and I do my best to tell my story using only that. If I put any consideration about color in my work, it's the one I learned with Jeff Smith: do the best black and white you can, but make sure it will ALSO look great in color. After all, you never know.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Crazy person.

Sometimes, I picture myself writing - if not thinking - like a crazy person, and it reads a lot like Rorschach:

Fell out of bed today. Woke up and went to work. Been working since. Can't stop.

I suppose I should be eating cold beans from a can with a spoon to complete the picture.

. . .

Now, really, about the work.

At the end of August, I wrote a script for a short film. Later this week, we'll start shooting it. Last week brought a delightful round of actors and actresses for our casting test, and we met wonderful new friends. I already learned a lot from then. I just hope they'll be able to learn something from me as well, just so everybody can leave this new experience with another story to tell.

You meant COMICS?

It's time to show something so I don't upset my readers (what readers, you crazy fool? Get back to the dungeon!).

My new brazilian book is ready. It's gorgeous. I'm proud. Now, all I have in my drawing board is Smoke and Guns. I'm sure those girls missed me while I was away.

I missed them.

My brother and I have been asked to be part of an anthology to be released next year. We'll probably work on two different stories, just so we have more to show. It's fun when we realize two can do twice the work.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The horror

Last month, one of the most exciting things we did was a bunch of drawings for the opening animation of Gravity Games. It all went well, despite some ill slept nights. If you click here, you can watch a quicktime version of the opening.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Smoke signals.

When I started drawing Smoke and Guns, I set myself to try and write down the process behind creating a comic book. Of course, some twenty pages down the line, and some eighty still to go, you can tell I haven't really started writing a single line about it. What can I say? Life happened. But it's a good life, so I can't complain.

My brother and I have a new book to be published in Brazil, and the final touches of it are taking huge amounts of our time. It's going to be a great book, I believe, different from everything we did before, and when I finish the cover I'll post it here. But let's go back to the smoky new book.

I can't remember exactly when Larry sent me the script, asking if I wanted to draw it, or when I finally said yes, but I remember the sensation of reading the script for two nights and thinking how visual the story was, and how much fun it would be for anybody who turned out to be the artist. Turns out the artist will be one of the brazilian twins, after all, but I really had no idea how I was going to approach the story visually.

That's something artists will go through: the images they have while reading a script and the sensation that it's a very visual story won't always translate well for certain styles, which poses the question: How do you know which style is best for the story?

Of course, most questions asked inside the crazy deranged mind of the comic book artists don't have an answer. What they have is a door, or a variety of doors, that open a great number of possibilities in front of then. Luckily for me, Smoke and Guns opened a door in which I could see myself drawing the book, and doing it in a way I always wanted to do: with class.

Don't you hate that horn?

Newsarama has an interview with Bruno D'Angelo and Shane Amaya about their very cool new book, Horns of Hattin. Check it out for the cool pictures and for some very serious words.