An Open Letter to My New Tablet


Dear Tablet,

When I went to upgrade my phone the other day, I saw you sitting on the shelf, covered in fingerprints and possibly biohazardous germs. Initially, I was unsure if I wanted to own you or anything like you.

Sure, a lot of people I knew had one like you. From what I saw, though, tablets like you did the same function as my phone, only larger and more cumbersome.

How wrong I was to judge you.

I decided to get you, at first, to have something to show off my art at conventions: you had a larger screen than my phone, but were more compact and easier to wield than my laptop. Plus, you didn’t sound like a jet engine in take-off or overheat so much you could bake my knees off.

But then I got some apps on you…

And then I started writing my comic scripts on you….

And then I discovered you were the perfect device to read digital comics on. Comixology, webcomics, it didn’t matter! Your high resolution screen and fast internet connection meant I could read as many of my beloved comics as I wanted.

You have done wonders for my reading and writing time. And I look forward to spending more time with you, you lovely slab of technological wizardry.


Thank you for putting up with my open letter. As a reward, here’s a warm-up sketch I made recently.

claire the zombie hunter lady

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on Tuesday.

Review Day Tuesday: Shadowbinders, Book 1

shadowbinders headerShadowbinders, Book 1 is one of the few books I picked up at Intervention Con over a month ago. Before I go into my review, let me talk about what the story is.

The book I got is actually a collection of the first four chapters of the webcomic Shadowbinders. The story follows Mia, a 17-year-old high school girl with average teen girl problems… until she receives a gift from her grandmother. The gift is an old book full of drawings and a ring, both of which belonged to her late grandfather. However, when she tries on the magic ring, she’s whisked away to a fantasy world – the same world shown in the drawings of the book!

Now, before I read this, I did not know what to expect, really. I didn’t even know who the target audience was. I mean, the art looked relatively friendly to everybody, but I didn’t want to make assumptions – I’ve seen relatively child-friendly art illustrate blood and gore (thanks Hunter x Hunter).

With that said, Shadowbinders is actually pretty safe for everyone to read. This is what I would call an all-ages series, even with one or two innuendos and one scene with someone getting stabbed. It’s not even all that graphic.

Anyway, the set-up is sort of cliched, but the world is at least imaginative. It has a steampunk aesthetic with crazy types of animals and fun magic that is easy to understand. Even the action scenes are fun, and thankfully they’re easy to follow. So many artists can make an action scene unreadable in comics, but thankfully that is not the case in Shadowbinders.

The story and characters are…slow to develop. I didn’t really get invested in the characters until the end of Chapter 2. I do, however, want to stick around with this series to see how it goes.

I did have the chance to talk to the artist of the series at Intervention Con (the writer was out at a panel). I remember when I picked up this book, he expressed what I like to call, “The Artist’s First Book Lament.” I suffer from this, as well: it’s when an artist looks at the first book and goes, “AUGH, the art looks so awful! I’m glad I improved, but geez!”

Since he said that, I’m actually pretty excited to read the rest of the series. I want to see where it goes and see the progression of the art style. As fun as it is, I can see it only getting better.

So have you read Shadowbinders? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

And if you have any suggestions for comics or books to read, please leave them in comments as well.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on Friday.

New Comics In Progress

I do enough talking of other people’s work on my blog. Weirdly enough, I don’t talk about my own work that often anymore (except for my post about recent personal projects).

Let’s remedy that.

I won’t lie, though: part of the reason I haven’t written that much about my work is because I’ve been drawing nonstop.

There are a few comics I’ve been working on, like…

Comic 1: Claire and The Hoard

claire comic ClaireandTracy 001

In Claire and The Hoard (which, that is just the working title), a young woman named Claire makes a living fighting The Hoard across what is left of the world. On her trek, Claire has to stop in a small town named Citadel to resupply. However, the small town is growing more paranoid, and one lone girl named Tracy is the only one who notices that something is wrong.

This is still being scripted. Actually, I’ll be doing a massive re-write of the second chapter.

I am, however, satisfied with the character designs for this project. Next I’ll be doing some location sketches. That should be easy, since I’m basing the town of Citadel on a small town I grew up in.

Comic 2: The Uthers

nautilus and riley TheUthers 002

This story is about a young lady named Riley, who’s out searching for a cyborg named Nautilus. Nautilus is a creation she made with her father, but Nautilus up and killed Riley’s father. Riley treks through a world where humans have been colonized by a race of aliens they call The Uthers, to find Nautilus herself.

Developing the alien race in this story is proving to be really fun, even if I’m not done coming up with designs for the Uthers themselves. Here are some concepts I whipped up recently.

the uthers character design TheUthers 003

I’m not sold yet, but they’re close to what I hope will be the final design.

As for Nautilus and Riley, both of these characters are fascinating to me. Riley is an engineer, and a smart one at that, who actually knows how to manipulate people for her best interest. If she weren’t a hero, I could see her being a Bond villain.

Nautilus, even though he killed a man, is actually relatively sweet. He’s mute, but his gestures and his facial expressions will be fun to play around with. And he loves hanging out with kids. Who knew?

Comic 3: Auxaton

auxaton elf sketch

Auxaton is the story of a Mountain Ridge elf who lost his village to a band of thieves. He’s on a quest to travel the world and reunite with his lost brethren and settle a new land. Along the way he’ll come across half-orcs, thieves, and hopefully more of his kinsmen.

To tell the truth, I haven’t written this yet. I just really enjoy the concept and drawing the characters. I’ve written blog posts about this story before, but I’m just now getting back to it. I look forward to seeing the direction this story will take.

Comic 4: Rosetta and the White Swan

rosetta and the white swan

The simplest way to describe this is “It’s a gender-bent Swan Lake.” The princess Rosetta is a huntress who encounters a swan, who reveals himself to be a cursed prince.

Honestly, I don’t know if I want to make this a comic. I imagine this as a childrens or young adult novel. But who knows?

This is the newest concept on this list. I only came up with this idea a few days ago, after having watched Nostalgia Critic do a review of Swan Princess and reading some of the comments there. I thought to myself, “You know, it would be great to have Swan Lake told as a story with a tomboyish princess.”

Combine that with my fondly remembering Patricia C. Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons series and The Paper Bag Princess, and I went, “I know what I must do!”

I still need to do research (my favorite part of writing) and develop the characters. Otherwise, this project is really exciting to me!

Comic 5: The Legend of Jamie Roberts


According to legend, a trio of pirates, lead by the genderqueer pirate Jamie Roberts, abandon their old ways and search for treasure in the country of Corith. On their journey, they meet dangerous creatures called Mocktaw, a band of women warriors, and Dragons. One dragon, Raguna Ranki, seeks to take over the country of Corith and place himself as emperor. It’s up to the pirates, the women warriors, and their allies to stop him.

I’ve written about this story before, and I’ve posted many sketches for this work. I even have a section devoted to this project on my Sketches page. I’ve been working on this for years.

So what’s happening?

Right now it’s on hold. I have too many projects on my plate and I want to finish a few of them before I return to this.

The rough draft of the script is finished. It’s just a matter of making edits and rewriting bits I don’t like.

Comic 6: Wahid

wahid comic clip

This is actually a short story I’m illustrating with Kristen Kellner for a comics anthology. It’s about a young lady with severe depression, who finds new purpose in life when she adopts a one-eyed cat.

Fun fact: “Wahid” is the Arabic word for “one.” The title of the short story was decided on by Kristen, who learned to speak Arabic in the Air Force.

I’m still making pages for this. It’s taking a while. Sorry!

That’s all the comics I’m making right now (and that’s not counting the soon-to-be-released Charlie & Clow).

However, here’s an extra sketch I did recently.

pennsylvania trees

This is one I made on my way to Intervention Con. Along Interstate 70/76, in Pennsylvania, there was a long stretch of forest with a line of dead white trees. And this line of dead white trees was perfectly straight, running parallel to the highway. It was one of the creepiest things I saw in my life.

And on that note, thanks for reading! I’ll see you on Friday.

Review Day Tuesday: Mass Marvel Special

Today is a special Review Day Tuesday. Rather than reviewing one book, I’m reviewing a slew of Marvel (and other) books at once! All of these books have been out for a while, whether it’s a year, a month, or a week. Still, if you don’t visit a comic shop very often, I hope these are helpful.

Now, since I’m reviewing more than one book, these reviews are going to be as concise and short as possible. Like, one paragraph (ish) each.

Let’s go!

captain marvel number 1

Captain Marvel #1

Writing by Kelly Sue DeConnick and art by David Lopez and Lee Loughridge.

The colors are a softer quality to me, but it works well with the dialogue and the environments the characters are in. The characters themselves are fabulously relatable and have great moments with each other. The first issue doesn’t have a whole lot of action in it, but for a first issue, it doesn’t have to. It can just show off the characters, and this issue does it well.

Fun fact: Kelly Sue DeConnick is married to Matt Fraction? What the hell?

rocket raccoon number 1

Rocket Raccoon #1

Writing and art by Skottie Young.

It’s good to see Skottie Young do something besides Oz titles (but after reading this book I really want to read them). His playful lines and vibrant colors makes the sci-fi space adventure really stand out in comparison to other sci-fi space titles. Seriously, it’s a breath of fresh air in a genre full of gritty technological realism and drama.

Plus, you know, Rocket Raccoon and Groot are fun characters in general.

miss marvel issues 1 and 2

Ms. Marvel #1 and #2

I have to review these two together because reasons.

Writing by G. Willow Wilson (whom you might remember as my favorite comics author after I read Cairo, another title of hers). Art by Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring.

I adore this series. Absolutely adore it. G. Willow Wilson’s writing is, of course, stellar. I wasn’t sure how she would write these teen characters, but she did a lovely job. I also love seeing into the life of an Islamic family in America because it’s not a perspective you see often (there need to be more of those stories in general, not just comics).

Also, the art is bright, softly lit, and full of great expressions and character moments. These are great gestures captured here in this comic.

I’ve blathered on enough. READ THE DAMN THING.

rat queens number 1

Rat Queens

Writing by Kurtis J. Wiebe. Art by Roc Upchurch.

Oh hey! An IMAGE title!

Anyway, if you’re a woman who loves playing Dungeons and Dragons, this is a must read. It reads like a D&D session, but without a pesky DM (or if the DM is there, the presence is weak). Reading the adventures of these ladies is risque, raunchy, and even very bloody at times thanks to a group of assassins out to get them for some reason. I’m sure future issues will explore what the assassins’ intentions are, and I look forward to reading them because these ladies (though not fully developed yet) give enough of a glimpse of their characters to keep me intrigued.

Have you read any of these titles? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow with some new sketches.

My Recent Works-In-Progress

Man, between all the blog posts, Validation comics, Johnson & Sir comics, freelance work, and the day job (yep, I got a day job) keeping me busy, do I have time for personal projects?

Yes. Yes I do!

Project 1 is very different from what I usually do. Project 1 is a large acrylic painting.

acrylic painting work in progress by kelci d
Step 1.
painting work in progress
Step 2.

By “large,” I mean it’s larger than my usual scale. I’m used to working on, at most, 9 inch by 12 inch pieces of paper. This is 16 inches by 20 inches on canvas.

This is a painting that my mind demanded I make, because there are lighting techniques I want to try with this.

Project 2 is connected to Validation. It’s a portrait of one of my favorite characters ever…


roxie colored pencil personal project

This is a piece I’m doing in colored pencil, which I haven’t used in years. It’s a good refresher to brush up on my old skills. I’m also doing my best to use colors in ways I haven’t before. I’ll post more pictures as I work on it.

Project 3 is a comic I’m hoping to get out by October. I’ve mentioned it a few times previously here on the blog.

It’s Charlie & Clow.

charlie and clow cover

The cover is done and I’m so happy with how it turned out! I need to make the next few pages and take care of a few other things. With any luck it should be online by Halloween.

The story is about a young punk lady named Charlie. When she’s walking home from classes one day, she discovers a monstrous golem, and it decides Charlie will be its next meal! Charlie runs for help only to find a tall goth man who calls himself Clow. Who is Clow? And will he help her fight off the golem menace?

Of course, there are other projects I have in the works, but they’re all either very personal or top secret surprises. So I won’t say any more.

Which project are you most excited to see? Do you have any personal projects in the works? Let me know in the comments!

Also, I’m skipping the Favorite Artist Friday feature this week because I’m still scouring the internet for new artists to add as my favorites. If you have any suggestions for artists I should look at, let me know in the comments!

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you on Tuesday.