Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Powerful Read

Here's a story about working behind the scenes at a big time comic book publisher. I urge everybody, whether interested in comics or not, to check it out. Start with the oldest post at the bottom of the page. It makes for a powerful, gut wrenching story about personal survival.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Journal 12 - Random Moments of Peace & Clarity

That’s what my life revolves around now. Like when it’s 4am, the baby’s asleep, Samantha’s asleep, I’ve just put a fresh load of laundry in, and I’m sitting down to do some long overdue character turnarounds and designs. These little moments are magical when I can get them. Stress and worry just slip away and it’s so easy to see what needs to be done.

In other news, this piece here is currently being inked by Diana Greenhalgh for publication by Digital Webbing Press in a future BloodRayne comic book. I’ve also opened up my Deviant Art shop and have just a few items up for sale as prints and mugs. I’ll be adding more as I get the chance.

And I’ve got a few mystery projects in the works, but you’ll just have to wait for more details on those.

Take care,

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Journal 11

A Month and a Half

We’ve had little Violet Eve in our lives for a month and a half and we just adore her. We’ve been peed on and pooped on. We’ve had sleepless nights. We’ve had times when we thought she just wouldn’t calm down, or stop crying, or fall asleep. And we wouldn’t trade it for anything. It hasn’t been easy, but I wouldn’t say it’s been hard either. When the little miss needs something, a change, a bottle a burp, or maybe just a dance around the house, it doesn’t matter how tired you are, or how many times you’ve already done it today, or if you even want to do it all. It doesn’t matter, you just do it. And she rewards you for it. She smiles or gurgles, or she looks at you with those deep gray eyes, and you know why you’re doing it. It makes her happy, and that’s all that really matters.

Take care,

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Journal 10

She's Finally Here

And a few weeks early to boot. Violet Eve Lapham was born on the 15th of August at 8:40pm. Samantha and I are exhausted.

It was an adventure to be sure. Late Monday night/Tuesday morning Samantha wasn't feeling well, shaking and nauseous, so we took her into the hospital. They couldn't tell us exactly what was going on, but surmised that she'd caught a flu bug or such that was exaggerated since she was pregnant. And it had brought on labor. After a sleepless night and an easy delivery, we had our baby girl in our arms the next evening. Violet was four weeks early and weighed in at a petite but healthy 5 pounds, 12.9 ounces. Little did we know the adventure was only half over.

Since she was early Violet was slow to take to feeding and had some mild jaundice. She spent the rest of the week in the nursery under bili lights, while we moved from hospital room to hospital room, eating cafeteria food and going up to feed her every two to three hours.

By Saturday Violet was starting to breast feed, though Samantha's milk still hadn't come in, and her bilirubin levels were dropping so they finally let us take her home. She seemed to be doing very well. Samantha's milk came in when we got home and little Violet made her feel like a vending machine for the next few days. Unfortunately, her bilirubins have spiked back up since then and we've got her wrapped in a fiber optic bili blanket most of the time. This has the eerie effect of turning her into a glow worm when she sleeps, with strange blue light leaking out of her blanket and bassinet. She had another checkup yesterday, and despite the bilis, she has a perfectly clean and encouraging bill of health in all other regards. We're going back in tomorrow and hopefully her levels will have dropped by then.

It's certainly been a week, a long, tiring, frustrating, happy week. We're both worn out, but we wouldn't trade this for anything.

That's all for now. I've got some exciting new projects starting up as well, but that will have to wait until next week (assuming I can manage work and little miss at the same time, we'll see).

Take care,

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Journal 09


I’ve been so busy this week I thought I’d never get a new blog post up. It’s been so long I’m not sure where to begin. As you can see, this blog is peppered with shots of my new workspace. It’s been a little funky trying to get settled in here. The space itself is wonderful, but the room gets unbearably hot and stifling when the sun’s up. Luckily I’m fairly nocturnal, but it has made things interesting on days when I’ve tried to get to work earlier. There are a few more photos here if anyone wants to see more.

“Sharp Shooters” has been on the History Channel this week. While my own contribution was very small, it was gratifying and exciting to see my pictures on the TV screen. All of my illustrations had been coloured and animated by the production company and I had no idea what to expect. I have to say I was very impressed by the results. There’s been talk of doing a similar project for the same company, but I have no details yet.

New Projects
Yes, new projects, two of them at the moment. Amazingly enough, the Digital Webbing Talent Search page actually works sometimes (I have to admit I’d just about given up on it). This week I’ve started working MA based writer, Adnan Virk, on a funky little contemporary horror story. I won’t give away too much now, but Adnan’s a talented writer with a very solid script and concept. The project is titled “My Second Life” and I should have some more details on this in the future.

I’m also cooking up a bit of light hearted Lovecraftian horror with my old college friend, Ben Powell. I had an idea for a story, sent it off to Ben, and he, being the uber talented writer that he is, has taken it and run with it. Again, I can’t say too much yet, but both these projects are very exciting, and both creators are a blast to work with. More on both these projects when I have it.

Near as I can tell that’s all the news that’s fit to print at the moment. I’ll leave you with this little shot of yours truly sitting down to work.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Journal 08

A New Space, A Short Post, and A Whole Lot of Work

Well, just a short post for the moment. The studio space is done, and it’s absolutely wonderful. I’d like to put some pictures of it up this week to show it off. Coincidentally, I have the opportunity to take on a number of new projects at the moment. I’ve been busy wrangling them all together and sorting out what my limitations are going to be. It looks like I’m about to be very very busy, but I’m smart enough not to bite off more than I can chew. It's almost baby time and I feel the need to be as active and productive as I possibly can.

Be sure to tune in to “Sharpshooters” on the History Channel this Friday, 8pm Eastern and Pacific. I can’t wait to see it myself.

That’s all for now. Hopefully I’ll get another post up before the end of the week.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Journal 07

This Just In...

"Sharpshooters" on the History Channel July 21st

The "Sharpshooters" documentary that I contributed to will air next week on the History Channel. The show contains several animated sequences which were all drawn by me and then animated by the production company. I've just received this from Luke Ellis, producer for Workaholic:

"We finally have an airdate and it's airing Friday, July 21st at 8:00pm Eastern/Pacific and 7:00pm Central. (If you have Direct TV check your listings.) It was a blast to put together and I hope we can work together again soon."

Here's a bit more about the show, also from Luke:

"Wild Bill Hickok. John Wesley Hardin. Buffalo Bill. Doc Carver. Annie Oakley. Some of these skillful shots used their talents to survive in a hostile and lawless American West. Others honed their abilities on stage to make a living performing for audiences. But it turns out their legends might be the least accurate thing about these shooters. So famous are these historic gunslingers, it's hard to separate the truth from the myth...until now. We stack up some of today's greatest sharpshooters against the legendary feats of the past. Bill Oglesby, Jerry Miculek, and Tom Knapp attempt to recreate famous gun-slinging achievements. We also cast a skeptical eye at many stories culled from newspaper accounts and pulp fiction novels. Along the way, we'll meet some of history's greatest shots. In the process, we might just blow a hole in some of those treasured old legends. So keep your eye on the target, because you won't believe your eyes."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Journal 06

Tired & Sore

I almost titled this “Stiff & Sore”, but I thought that might be too easily taken out of context. First, happy belated 4th of July. The great experiment that is America continues on, and here’s hoping things only get better from here.

Work continues as my future father in law and I try to set my new studio space. It’s almost done but it hasn’t been easy. The real challenge is that the room available, dubbed the “Sun Room”, was designed like a green house which faces the sun during the afternoons and very long Montana evenings. The room varies between hot, bright, and stifling during the day to very cold at night. High winds have stymied our efforts to cover the room from the outside, and we have yet to find a realistic way to block out the sun from the inside. We’ve got a few more experiments to try and I’m sure we’ll get it sorted soon. It just means I haven’t had much chance to sit down at the drawing table since my last post. The upshot of this is that for the first time in ten years I will have a dedicated, spacious, and well arranged studio area. For me that’s like a luxury suite at the Hilton and I couldn’t be happier. My only frustration comes from the fact that I can’t wait to get into the space and start using it.

At the same time, Samantha and I have started setting up baby furniture for Violet’s imminent arrival. Samantha has done a bang up job organizing the bedroom while her father and I have been working on the sun room. It’s become quite cozy in here, with fuzzy little bits of purple and yellow sneaking into the corners of my vision, and the addition of the changing table and rocking chair. We’re starting the eighth month of pregnancy and we both have been growing more anxious and excited with each day.

Following up the Jim Lee extravaganza from last week, I got a nice little thank you email from Jim a few days ago. He described me as ”..a good, talented egg…” so while I doubt he’ll be throwing work my way anytime soon I think I’d better watch out if he gets snacky. ;)

Also, I’ve added a few more links to the sidebar here. Stephen Bissette’s Myrant, is always a good read, covering comics, film, politics, life, and everything in between. The second link is to Samantha’s sister’s site, Pocket Full Of Posiez, which is chock full of darkly humorous art, characters, and animations.

And that’s it for now.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Journal 05

Well, this has been quite a week. Here (hopefully I've added the picture correctly) is my latest attempt at inking Jim Lee's pencils. This is the third time I've taken on this one and it's been a hell of a lot of fun. I've still got a long way to go to be able to do this well, but I know I'm getting closer with each try. The main thing I think I need is to gain the confidence to stroke instead of pecking and scratching as I'm prone to do now.

(BTW, Jamie, as you requested, I'm sending you this one as a gift for Kael. I'll try to get it in the mail along with that long overdue Cassius piece sometime this week.)

As I mentioned last week, on Friday there was a little charity event for the CBLDF at the local comic book store, Muse Comics & Games. Jim Lee was coming to town to do a signing and auction, and the store had arranged for private screening of "Superman Returns" with Jim and his crew for a small donation to the CBLDF.

I thought that Missoula, Montana was a little off the beaten path and that this wouldn't be that big a deal. I was very wrong. Jim Lee draws a crowd where ever he goes. The signing started at 5pm, and by the time Samantha and I got there at 6 the line was around the block. We didn't actually make it into the store before time ran out and Jim was whisked away to the movie theatre like a rock star. Luckily, Jim was gracious enough to come outside and walk down the line signing two books a piece for anyone that didn't make it inside. When he got to me, I handed him off my little book of samples that I had prepared and let him go on his way. Samantha noticed as he was packing up that while there were several other artists with portfolios there, I was the only one who had given him something to take away with him. This is a very small thing, I know, but I felt like it was a minor victory nonetheless. I'll be sending him a follow up packet in a month with some fresh work. I doubt anything will come of this, but we'll see.

The movie was a lot of fun as well. It's a good, solid piece of entertainment that picks up nicely after the good (ie, not Superman 3 & 4) Superman movies of my childhood. The show was sold out and Jim gave a nice little speach about why we need the CBLDF before it started. The day was definitely a money maker for the CBLDF and I'm glad Samantha and I could add our contributions.

Oh, and this piece here won me a $50 gift certificate in the store's inking contest. Does this mean I can get away with calling myself an award winning inker now? Perhaps not. ;)

Also, a big thanks to the ever generous Stephen R. Bissette, who's taken a little time to promote my blog. Shame on you if you don't know who he is. Hop on over there and educate yourself.

I think that's all the news for now. I'm moving my studio area this week to make room for the baby (the due date draws ever closer). I'm not sure how much time I'll have to work but I'll try to get some new pencils up by next week.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Journal 04

Another week, another blog. I'm beginning to enjoy this.

This week has been both refreshing and hectic, and I feeling an odd mix of relaxed excitement as I write this. At the beginning of the week I regretfully decided that it was time to end a long standing collaboration with my friend, Travis Johnson. Since Speakeasy closed it's doors and our deal with them fell through, we had been attempting to put together a new project to pitch to new publishers. Unfortunately, such an effort doesn't pay the bills and with a daughter on the way I've decided it's best to put this one on the shelf for the time being. On Wednesday I cleaned out the sketchbooks, scrapping the multitude of random doodles and scribbles related to the project, and filing away all the good stuff so we can revisit the project at some point down the road. Clearing out the piles of old work also helped to clear my head, and I feel both refreshed and revitalized as a result.

The rest of my week has been spent gearing for Friday, June 30th, which will be spent watching "Superman Returns" with Jim Lee. Damn, that sounds spicy, doesn't it? The local comic book store (http://www.musecomics.com/) has arranged one hell of a promotion for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Jim Lee will be doing a signing at the store on the day Superman opens, and for a small donation you get to go to the movie with Jim.

I, of course, also see this as an opportunity to get some of my work under Jim's nose. I know there's little to no chance that this will yield more than a few polite comments and pointers, but what the hell. I won't be able to make Comic-Con this year, and I figure my chances of getting a job out of Jim Lee are about the same as they are there. The problem, of course, is that I don't really think I have the right kind of work in my portfolio to really knock his socks off, and knock his socks off I'll have to if I want anything to come of this. So I've thrown my back into it. I've been working day and night all week trying to come up with that certain something that will make Jim go "Wow". And even if he doesn't, I'll have bulked up my portfolio this week with some of the best work I've ever done. Perhaps it won't be enough to win Jim over, but it's certainly going to help down the line.

My first few forays have been inking some of Jim's pencils that have been provided by the store as part of the promotion. Wow. This has given me a whole new level of respect for Jim's drawing ability. Easily the hardest inking I've ever taken on. My first two attempts can be found here and here. I haven't nailed it yet, but I've learned more in the past few days about inking than I had in the past ten years. And I've got a few more on the way. I've also done up this one, from a Top Cow packet they gave out at Comic-Con awhile back. I'm working on some pencil samples as well, I'm post them before the weekend if I get the chance.

Well, that's all the news for now. Back to the drawing board for me.


Repost: Deviant Art Journal 03


Well, here we go again. Unfortunately, there’s not much to report this week as my time was split between taking care of an injured Samantha and creative negotiations with a collaborator. Samantha has mysteriously splintered one of the bones in her foot, and has been driving herself slightly crazy trying to take things easy. Also, I’d like to say a hearty Happy Belated Fathers’ Day to any dads who may have stumbled across this little journal. This Father’s Day took on a very different significance as my own child will be born soon. To celebrate this, I spent a bit of time going over our copy of “What To Expect When You’re Expecting”, specifically the section on emergency home deliveries. Hopefully it won’t come to that, but we are a good hour from the hospital and it’s best to be prepared. My apologies for such a short post. Hopefully this week will prove to be a bit more interesting.


Repost: Deviant Art Journal 02


The Week In Review
Well let’s get this thing started, shall we. I’m posting this a little later than I wanted because I’ve already re-written this a few times. I’m still trying to decide what’s the best format to use here, so I may play around a bit for the first few weeks.

Week 1

I guess I’ll start by recapping the week that led up to my decision to start this blog. With a baby on the way I’ve realized that I need to come up with some new approaches to self promotion and turning my career into a more stable source of income. Taking some hints from the 2006 Artists & Graphic Designers Marketplace guide I thinking that blogging about my artistic exploits in a manner similar to Holli Conger (http://www.agirlwhocreates.com/) would be a good start. I’d also like to sit down and hash out a nice business letterhead and some promotional mailers.

In addition to this, I’ve started paying a bit more attention to my fellow Deviant Artists, and I’ve begun to reach and ask for their advice and insight, and possibly a bit of friendly networking. mechangel2002 pointed me towards the various comic book forums such as Digital Webbing (http://www.digitalwebbing.com/) and Penciljack (http://www.penciljack.com/forum/). I’d tried this sort of thing in the past, usually with very disappointing results. At the time the majority of listings had been people who were offering little or no (usually no) pay, or who had no follow through once contacted. I was dubious to go back, but I said what the hell, it certainly couldn’t hurt to look. Much to my surprise, I had three offers for low but decently paid work within one day. I’ve turned one down, as it was just two much of a time commitment for me, but I’ve decided to accept the other two. One is a two month inking stint, the other designing giant robots for a new series. I’ll post more details as I have them.

I’ve also been looking around the galleries here in search of technical inspiration. I’ve been getting an itch to try my hand at digital painting for some time now. Thanks to one of Kyena’s tutorials (http://www.tascha.ch/?page_id=60) I’ve finally figured out how properly blend colour like paint in Photoshop. It may not sound like much, but it’s been a huge leap for me. Hopefully I’ll have some good paintings up in my gallery shortly.

The rest of my week was spent roughing out pages for Acquistions, a comics project with writer, Travis Johnson. You’ll find a few of my initial character sketches in my scraps gallery. I’ll be posting some more previews as the project develops. It looks like it’s going to be both a fun and interesting book. We just need to find a good publisher.

All in all it was a pretty good week, though there were some interesting hiccups along the way. At one point the neighbor’s donkey got loose while they were away, and Samantha, her dad, and myself spent about an hour trying to get him back behind the fence before we finally gave up. I guess it’s true that donkey’s really are as stubborn as they say.

At the moment Samantha’s been a bit under the weather. She’s developed a very mysterious foot pain. At first it seemed like a sprain, though she hadn’t injured herself in any way. We spent Saturday night in the ER getting her checked out, as she was in quite a bit of pain. They couldn’t tell us much, other than that she has a mysterious infection that should clear up with some antibiotics and some rest. That’s been a bit of a problem, as she likes to be pretty active. Luckily, kicking my ass at Mario Party 7 seems to keep her entertained and cheerful while keeping her off her feet.

I guess that’s it for now. I’ll have new post up Sunday or Monday.

Until then, take care,

Repost: Deviant Art Journal 01


A Bit of Personal History

Well here goes. Blogging, online journals, documentation, self expression, and reaching out to the world electronically, all in an effort to promote myself and my meager career as an illustrator and cartoonist. This is something I’ve wanted to do for awhile now. The problem has been that I’ve always doubted anyone would be interested in my inane little ramblings, that I wouldn’t really have anything to say, and that I wouldn’t be able to stick to it and keep it going. Despite those doubts, I’ve decided that now is the time to give it a shot.

About a year and a half ago I decided that it was finally time to shit or get off the pot. I’d been playing around with my life time goal of being a successful comic illustrator and comic book artist since I graduated from college in 1996, but I just hadn’t achieved any kind of consitant success. There’d been an illustration here, a some pages of comics art there, and just a few pages of published work. All of it was very much under the radar and undisciplined. At this point my biggest claims to fame were that I had graduated from college with highest honors and the glowing approval of legendary cartoonist Stephen R. Bissette (who’s semi-regular and always insightful blog can be found here [link] ) who had very graciously agreed to be one my academic evaluators, I had done a handful of comics shorts for the Games Workshop company, Black Library, and I was the guy who dropped the ball on Deathwatch (a larger Black Library project that I was slotted to pencil and ink, but for various reasons, was only able to produce 14 meager pages before I was taken off the book). In my opinion, not much to show for nine years effort. Oh, and I had managed to go through several inane and low paying day jobs in that time.

So a little over a year and a half ago I decided that it was time to finally get serious and make something happen. A friend, the infinitely generous Chris Hutchings, had hooked me up with my first “real” job in the entertainment industry, working as a designer for the Discovery Channel show, Monster House. That went very well and I had the opportunity to work on two episodes before the show was cancelled. I also went out and picked up a copy of the 2005 Artists & Graphic Designers Marketplace guide. Well, here was a book that I needed. While most of the career guidelines were things that I already knew I should be doing, I hadn’t actually done them yet. Sometimes it takes a sledge hammer to head to get me moving in the right direction and here it was. About that time I discovered Deviant Art and decided to use it as my new online portfolio. I also established a DA print account with every intention of getting some work up and for sale. As you can see, I haven’t really gotten around to that yet, but I’d like to think it’s because I’ve been too busy.

After working on Monster House, I took a job for a friend, Joel Bevacqua, doing storyboard and design work on his movie, Deadly Buda. ([link]) Shortly thereafter I was received an offer from Speakeasy Comics to do a science fiction graphic novel with the very talented Travis Johnson. Speakeasy has since gone out of business, but Travis and I have another project in the works that I’ll keep you posted on here. As Monster House was cancelled, my friend Chris, mentioned earlier, moved on to another production company and brought me on board to draw some pictures the would be animated and included in a History Channel documentary about old west sharpshooters. You’ll find just a smattering of those drawings in my gallery here, and I’ll post some info on when the show will air when I have it.

Oh, perhaps most important, something else very significant happened about a year ago as well. I met a girl and fell in love. Within two weeks of dating Samantha I knew that she was the “one” and I asked her to marry me. She said yes, and we’ve been inseparable ever since. I cannot say enough about how supportive and encouraging she has been or how wonderful it is to have her in my life. We’re expecting out first child this September, a girl to be named Violet Eve, and we’ve moved from Los Angeles to Montana to stay with her family for the duration of the pregnancy.

Currently, I have several projects in the works. My old college room mate, Ben, has me drawing a few ideas for a movie project he’s working on. Travis and I are hard at work making our new book, “Acquisitions”, a reality. I’m also trying to figure out if I can juggle a few offers I’ve received after answering some listings on Digital Webbing ([link]). (Thanks very much to mechangel2002 [link] for pushing me in that direction.) And I’m doing whatever I can to further market myself and get my work out there.

Which brings me, finally, to my point for writing this. Taking a hint from Holli Conger ([link]) and her article in the 2006 Artists & Graphic Designers Marketplace guide, I want to use this journal to document my artistic and self-promotional activities, and to hold myself accountable and make sure that I follow through with my intentions. I also want to use it as way to keep friends, family, and business acquaintances updated on what I’m up to. Perhaps I’ll make a few new friends along the way as well. I’m not sure if what I write here will be at all entertaining, insightful, or interesting. We’ll just have to see what happens. I intend to post something at least once a week, perhaps starting with a simple breakdown of my activities for the past week and moving on from there. Hopefully, I’ll come up with a more interesting format as I gain more experience with this sort of thing. And if anyone has any suggestions or requests, please let me know. I should have another post up later today, detailing the week that has led up to this post, and then another next Sunday or Monday morning.

Until then, take care,

An Introduction & Explanation

Welcome all to the newest incarnation of my online journal started here (http://cronevald.deviantart.com/) a few weeks ago. I’ve decided to move the journal to this site to make it a bit more accessible to friends and family who are not registered with Deviant Art. Unfortunately, you have to be registered with DA in order to comment on any of my posts, which is a bit of a hassle if you just want to leave me a little note. This blog is open to any and all, so just hit “comment” and type away. I will still be maintaining the gallery at Deviant Art, and I’ll be sure to post updates here when I put up new work. For the sake of completeness, my first few entries here will be reposts of my Deviant Art entries. And there will be a new update sometime later today.

The title, by the way, is a bit of fun, a chapter heading from James B. Twitchell’s book, “Preposterous Violence: Fables of Aggression in Modern Culture”, which was my introduction to Fredric Wertham and the Comics Code debacle of the 1950s, and one of the my primary sources when writing my undergraduate thesis so many years ago. That title has always stuck with me, and now I think I’ve found an appropriate home for it. Hopefully Professor Twitchell won’t mind too much.