Shadow Man – A Sketch

a black and white marker sketch of a pure black being with ghost white eyes in a robe. The robe has detailed borders on the sleeves and bottom.

I drew this Shadow Man sketch back in 2015. I THINK I used Sharpies, but it’s been 5 years since I drew this. So I don’t remember. But this was drawn in a Strathmore sketchbook, which is my sketchbook of choice. I just prefer spiral-bound papers. Things that lay flat make me happy.

The motif of a pure black shadow being with white eyes happens A LOT in my sketchbooks. Part of this is because I’ve been inspired by the Heartless in Kingdom Hearts for a long while. I dig the monster designs in that series. (Then again, I like drawing monsters. Obviously.) And when I was a teenager playing that game for the first time, the image of a pure black shadow with creepy, pale eyes burned its way into my subconscious. It’s haunted me ever since.

But I also REALLY like adding details to costumes, like border designs. (Like the ones in this illustration). If I ever see zentangles, or Eastern European costumes, or Islamic patterns, I am ALL OVER those. What can I say? Patterns are fun.

So I sketched this to play with high contrasts: black and white, simple and detailed. It was fun to draw!

…I want to draw more things like this, actually. Maybe I’ll make it my Inktober theme? (Holy heck I need to pick a theme for Inktober this year. I keep waffling between several good ideas).

BUT I WILL say – this sketch could be considered a proto-Mocktaw.

Mocktaw are the black shadow creatures from The Legend of Jamie Roberts. It’s my weekly webcomic about a genderqueer pirate and friends adventuring in a land full of dragons. If you like this guy and want to see more like him, check out the comic.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

Adventures in Moving – A Change in the Schedule

Because of my adventures in moving, I need to let you know early (and maybe often) that there will be a change in the schedule.

Here’s what’s happening:

  • The Freelance Lifestyle blog post series is going to be paused until June.
  • Writing for Comics 101 will be on pause until June, as well.
  • The Legend of Jamie Roberts MIGHT have some scheduling hiccups. (More on this below.)
  • There will be a livestream on May 23. But…
  • No livestreams will happen May 30.

I’m moving to my new apartment on June 1. We’ll see how quickly things can get back on track after that.

“But wait!” You might be thinking. “You said there might be scheduling hiccups with The Legend of Jamie Roberts! I HAVE A MIGHTY NEED FOR GENDERQUEER PIRATES!”

First, thank you for being so enthusiastic for my adventure story of a genderqueer pirate and their two best friends treasure-hunting in a land of dragons and spirits.

Despite my best efforts, though, I don’t have much in the way of pages made ahead of schedule as buffer. Plus, Beefy McMuscleton – my devoted HP Officejet 7612 printer and scanner – has been forced to retire. So my workflow in making future pages of Jamie Roberts is going to get an overhaul. A decidely digital overhaul…

A bit sooner than expected, actually. I hoped I could stretch the process I’ve been using to the end of Chapter 3, and THEN go full digital in Chapter 4. But it looks like the full-digital comics-making process transition is happening sooner.

Because of this transition, and the move to the new apartment, updates on The Legend will MAYBE not happen once a week on Wednesdays. I will do my best to hold to this weekly-update promise! But I make no guarantees.

Stay tuned to the blog here for further updates.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

Writing for Comics 101 – Making Pages You Can Actually Read

In today’s lesson of Writing for Comics 101, let’s talk about making pages you can ACTUALLY read.

How do we do that? By not packing the pages with an obscene amount of dialogue.

Or at least, if you HAVE to keep so much dialogue, how to pace it out so it’s not a word brick.

This technique is something discussed in more detail in Making Comics by Scott McCloud, so what I’ll do for today’s post is share my mistakes so you can learn from them.

Let’s take a look at this page from Seeing Him, written by Kia Crawford and drawn by me:

seeing him transgender webcomic page 25

To be honest, there’s a way to get the information across that we need, without using a fuck-ton of dialogue.

We could:

  • split this between two pages,
  • condense the banter,
  • condense the backstory drop,
  • change the page layout,
  • change the balloon layout,
  • or any combination of these.

At least past me had the sense to split the dialogue into separate balloons. That way the page felt, at the time, a little less like a word brick.

This is me spit-balling some ideas right now on how to fix this page of Seeing Him: we could change the camera focus in the second and third panels, to cut away to framed photos on the walls. Those photos could showcase the history of the venue. With that edit, we can split the dialogue up some more, re-frame where the speech balloons sit, and make the page feel like less of a collection of talking heads.

Compare this page to The Legend of Jamie Roberts, page 65, written and drawn by me.

the legend of jamie roberts genderqueer lgbtq pirate adventure webcomic page 65

Here, I let the space breathe and tell the story for me, without so many words.

Whether you can draw or not, comics are a visual medium. Let the environment and scenery describe for you what words could not.

If you have questions, or need feedback, let me know in the comments. I’m happy to help.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

Dragons, Adventures in Moving, and Other News

Hoo boy, there’s a lot going on, so let’s do this in parts.

THE KICKSTARTER

We made it to our goal! We even raised enough to unlock the Baby Dragon Sticker Sheet for all backers who pledge to get physical copies of the book (or higher rewards).

The next stretch goal is $670 – at this level, backers who get physical rewards will also get a KickStarter-exclusive miniprint of Queen Norsa, the Albino Dragon Queen from The Legend of Jamie Roberts.

CONVENTIONS AND APPEARANCES

My next convention appearance isn’t until December 1, for Genghis Con. Unless there are other shows you’re aware of, and want me to showcase at, that is. Hit me up if that’s the case.

THE LEGEND OF JAMIE ROBERTS

Ok, there are some weeks where The Legend of Jamie Roberts updates as normal, on Wednesdays. And then there are some weeks it updates on Thursday.

Well, this upcoming week, a new Jamie Roberts page may get pushed to Thursday, November 14. It depends on what can get done this weekend, in between events.

WHEELING SLEEP-OUT

The Wheeling Sleep-Out is one of those events I’m doing this weekend. It’s part fundraiser for our local homeless shelter (Youth Services Systems), and part competition to see who can build the most creative cardboard construction.

Here’s some pictures from when my friend Mel and I went last year.

We built a cardboard replica of the Guggenheim museum. This year, we’re going to try and build an art deco movie theater out of cardboard.

Once these constructions get built, the builders then have the option to sleep in them overnight – which is what Mel and I are doing. We’re doing it, so our local homeless youth don’t have to.

If you like, you can donate to Youth Services Systems through our team page. Every dollar raised goes back to the organization. But there IS a trophy for the group who raises the most funding for YSS. (But seriously, no pressure if you can’t donate.)

ADVENTURES IN MOVING

I hate apartment-hunting. It feels like every time I get a decent lead, there’s something wrong. Either it’s too expensive. Or it doesn’t allow cats. Or it’s in a shady-ass neighborhood.

At least I have a potential roommate. He wants to move out of his dinky Pennsylvania hometown. We’ve tabled together at conventions for two years now, so we know each other well enough that we could make decent roommates together.

Now it’s just a matter of finding a place.

I can’t really stay local to where I am (which is the Wheeling, WV area). Rent prices are more expensive here than they are in Columbus, OH or even in Pittsburgh, PA.

Yep. West Virginia is more expensive to rent in than two major cities. Let that sink in.

The oil and gas industries are absolute bitches and I despise them both.

NANOWRIMO

Also I’m participating in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. It’s a writing challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Because Inktober isn’t enough and I’m always up for a creative challenge.

The novel I’m writing is called “The Prince of Shadows.” It’s about a prince from a dark realm falling in love with a Valkyrie – as told through the point of view of the Prince’s best friend.

When I first started the challenge, I wasn’t sure why the story demanded that particular perspective. Now, on day 7, things are falling into place and making more sense. I’m eager to see where this goes!

GIGS

I made a new page on the website to highlight other services I can offer as a freelancer (besides making comics and art).

These are services like ghost writing, basic website design, and other services I’ve honed thanks to running my own business for the last 7 years.

I’m looking to offer more services to get some extra income in. That way, if/when I have to leave my little hometown, I can have some kind of income to replace the gas station gig I currently have.

AND THAT’S IT!

Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

NOW ON KICKSTARTER: The Legend of Jamie Roberts, Chapter 1

HOLY BANANA PANTS, it’s finally here – The Legend of Jamie Roberts, Chapter 1 is now on KickStarter, looking for funding to get to print!

Patreon support has helped make the production of each individual page possible. But KickStarter will help cover the gap to get this first issue to print.

The book will include a never-before-published short comic about Captain O’Malley (just how DID she lose her arm?). Plus there will be behind-the-scenes sketches showing how pages for the comic are made.

Among the rewards available for backers, there’s commissions, WANTED poster-style mini-prints, and even a new 11 x 17 inch print!

So if you can back this KickStarter campaign, please do so BEFORE JUNE 20.

Broke? Share this campaign with your friends. Every share helps.

Want to back the campaign, but don’t see a reward you like? Hit me up via email at kelci(at)kelcidcrawford.com and I’ll work with you.

That’s all for now. Thank you for your support!

You. Are. Awesome.