Archive for the Comics Category

About Things

Posted in art, Comics, Personal/Creative with tags , , , on September 8, 2011 by joeylabartunek

Hey Blog, remember when I was talking about making this piece of art?  I consider this to be the equivalent of drawing calisthenics, a precursor stylistically to what we’re rockin in the graphic novel now, but I still had a lot of fun building it and working out some of the stylistic choices I would continue in my current art.

So here’s the thing, I know it’s big, that’s intentional, click on it and zoom in.  Don’t be lazy, it’s the only way you’ll be able to read it right.  Anyway, enough babble, here’s “About Things”.

Tom Sparks - About Things

Tom Sparks, Atomic Detective - About Things


War Macheen – The Costume

Posted in Comics, Funny Stuff with tags , , on May 18, 2010 by joeylabartunek

Scanning my morning news, I came across this video of a guy who has built a scary good recreation of the War Machine suit, complete with closing visor and spinning useless gattling gun.  From

Anthony Le, 25, has been a fan of Iron Man since he was a kid, but when he heard that the comic-book superhero was hitting the big screen in 2008, he was inspired to build his own Iron Man suit. That version was more of a costume, but his new one, finished just in time for the movie’s sequel, edges much closer to the real thing. With its dent-proof exterior, motorized faceplate and spinning mock Gatling gun, his take on the movie’s War Machine suit could easily frighten a supervillain.
Le, a fitness consultant, studied some concept sketches of the suit posted on the Internet. He used thin, high-impact urethane for the armor, cutting it into plates and joining them with some 1,500 rivets and washers. He sculpted a clay helmet mold and then used a liquid resin mix to create the final product. But that was just cosmetic work. He also added a small servo motor that opens the faceplate, as in the movie, and built a gun out of pipes and a motor. LEDs in the eyes and chest-plate further add to the illusion.
Le plans to wear the suit to the movie and already has quite a following, especially at sci-fi conventions. “I’m kind of hard to miss,” he says.

Keeping the Shotguns Off the Dance Floor

Posted in Comics, Personal/Creative with tags , , on February 11, 2010 by joeylabartunek

So I’m sure you’re waiting to see the final update to the Tom Sparks piece, and have no fear it’s coming. As the Moz once crooned, these things take time and I’m really having a blast working on this thing, so it’s coming together at it’s own pace. We’ll see if I can’t get the pencils completely done and scanned after this weekend.

In the meantime, there’s been all kinds of things going on in my caveman universe that I haven’t had a chance to talk about much and now is as good a time as any.

For starters, I’m three weeks into my latest tensure over in the land of Deadliest Warrior, having returned to the job that drove me mad last year– building graphics.

So i’m back making sharp, shiny things flying through the air for pay. Things are a bit easier now, I’ve been absorbed into the visual effects department, which as it turns out is a blast and a vastly different environment from last year. For those looking for a visual example of what I do all day long, wonder no further:

(if you want to skip the extraneous stuff and go right to the examples scrub to 0:10 for the awesome Zulu hero shot & 1:29 for a better example of what most of the effects I build look like)
In addition to the graphics I’ve begun to take the occasional stab at actual visual effects, blood splatter and the like. Very up my alley.

In addition I moved my personal website to it’s concrete resting place over at and set up a YouTube channel as a repository for as many of the songs and videos I post here as possible. I dunno if any of this stuff has any real bearing on anything, but Joker convinced me I should upgrade and organize my growing online presence. Or something.

Of course the biggest news, I mean other than me recieving a steady paycheck for the next few months, is that my long-time co-colaborator Sean and I are gearing up for a new graphic novel. I won’t get into any details just yet, because as #2 likes to say, that would be telling. But rest assured, if it kicks your ass half as much as it kicked mine you’ll be in for a treat. It’s going to give me the opportunity to try some of the different visual ideas that have been beating around in my head since my reemergence from shifty-ville back around Christmas. So yeah, excited doesn’t even come close to describing my enthusiasm and desire to get to this thing.

Ok, that’s it for now, we’ll see about those pencils soon enough.


Black Sabath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

David Bowie – Rock n’ Roll Suicide

The Process – Part 3 Dum dum dum – layout

Posted in Comics, Personal/Creative with tags , on January 21, 2010 by joeylabartunek

Sometime people ask me if drawing comic pages is hard and I always like to be an ass and say the same thing: that drawing isn’t the hard part, that’s generally easy.  The really hard part is in thinking up the layout, panel relationships and trying to get the story cohesively across.

And I had fucked around with everything but the layout long enough, it was time to tackle the map of things to come.   There was only really one way to work it out, and that was a physical representation.  So I dug out the sktechbook, scissors, and tape and set about making a collage of sorts.  I figured i would just tape the panels and extra visual details together until I had something I was satisfied with.

As much of the final layout collage I could scan without fucking it up.

And it did the trick.  Finally things were getting clearer and I felt pretty good overall.

Now  it was time to get down to logistics, crap like ink prep (I like to take the cap off the ink bottle and let it sit out for a day or so to thicken up), finding the right brushes (always round #2’s, as learned from numerous sources but probably the best being “The Art of Comic Book Inking” by  Gary Martin, and it really is my favorite way to go) and lastly and probably the hardest to get right, paper tests.  I ran across the street to the Target and grabbed up some of their large bristol board pieces.  They were cheap and big and I hoped they would do the trick.  Sadly I was mistaken.  The problem with brush and ink (and pen and ink as well- back when I was working with that) is if the paper doesn’t have a good fibrous build the ink bleeds out in these tiny little spiderwebs, causing untold headache and problems during the actual doing.  Plus it just makes the pages look shittier overall.

The final layout test page, pardon the crappy photo but I don't want to give everything away before it's done.

So the Target paper was a failure, but I figured I could salvage some good out of it and decided, just to be overly anal that I would cut up the paper and do one more rough layout, taking the things from the collage and generating one more giant scribble filled scrawl.  You always cut the head off of the psycho after you suspect you’ve done enough damage to put them down.  Just to be sure.  So I madly scribbled, and I redid panels I felt were boring, or that were weaker than some new idea that had come up since the collage.

And after this final pass, everything was kosher inside my head.  It was time to suck it up and get down to business.

(Here’s a crappy photo sequence to show how big the layout pages are (about 2/3rds of both of them are visible on my desk) in relation to my unimpressed by photo-taking Caveman self.  (See how I snuck that in WT))

The Process – Pt. 2 Character Refresher

Posted in Comics, Personal/Creative with tags , , , on January 19, 2010 by joeylabartunek

Some Goldfarb reference drawings

Dealing with the layout planning was a huge problem, but one I thought I could work around at least temporarily.  And there were certainly other fish to fry, namely the characters themselves.  Now I can whip up a kick-ass Tom Sparks doing or saying just about anything on command, but Doc and France were a completely different story.  I decided France had to be on the page, she provides an opportunity for dialogue beats and for some funny stuff and because she was perfect for all the little background details I wanted to do.  Plus she’s Tom’s sidekick, he can’t very well have gone on an adventure without his favorite smart ass assassin.  And as for Doc, I hadn’t drawn him since the Dust Bunny comic-con issue we did a few years back, so I was going to need a refresher.

France staring off into space...

When Sean and I created the characters we took visual influence from different real/fictional people, and to prepare for drawing them the first time around I dug up tons of photo reference and just got down to a little recreation.  I’m a big fan of photo referencing stuff, if even to just get ideas for clothing and help with little things that have always been problematic for me, things  like chins, breasts, and the back of the collar.

So I packed my bag full all my favorite goodies and headed off to a local coffee shop to get to work.  I love working from little cafe’s, and a good portion of my drawing career has been done from the tables of shops scattered throughout Southern California.  I can stick the IV in and ensure the flow of coffee is constant, tune in to my favorite drawing music and generally zone out for entire hours of time. You may be asking yourself, how does a caveperson deal with the chaos of all the unwashed masses walking around, going about their caffienated thang.  But that’s never really been an issue– in fact, it’s just the opposite, the movement keeps a part of my brain, the real twitchy part that hates to sit still and requires a high-powered nailgun and a police negotiator to keep it’s ass occupied while the rest of me is allowed to just drift off in to a scribbling messy zen place.

More France ref, I'm sure you can find the original somewhere. I really liked the collar.

And speaking of drawing music.  Forgive some drifting as I wanna take a moment to talk a little about the music I use when I work on stuff.  Any page or script or what-ever-the-fuck tends to have it’s own soundtrack pulled together from music designed to both keep me entertained but also help generate ideas.  Or at least invoke similar imagery to the project I’m working on. The Atomic Detective soundtrack is pretty vast but there is a top ten list (in no real order) of albums that are always in permanent rotation when I’m drawing the robot detective.  Some of these are amusingly obvious, others I have there for my own reasons:

Panel 1 - Rough layouts - first pass

First Panel - smooth start, and that giant stone head looks coolio.

The Cramps – Songs the Lord Taught Us
The Mistfits – a Best of I made myself
Grandaddy – The Sophtware Slump
Modest Mouse – Lonesome Crowded West
Marilyn Manson – Mechanical Animals
David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spider’s from Mars
White Zombie – Astro Creep: 2000
The Verve – A Storm in Heaven
Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space
Supergrass – I Should Coco
Bauhaus – In The Flat Field

So there’s that.

Rough layout - 2

Switching back to where we intended to be.  In addition to the reference refreshers I scribbled out a rough idea of the script out in the notebook, mostly free-form notes and a scrawling imitation of screenplay format, the only format I really get.  I liked the flow, the panel count came in at around 20, give or take some for beats and things.  I’m a huge fan of silent panels, enhancing dramatic or comedic moments and you can’t ever be sure where one of those will require to be included.

I'm a huge fan of scribbling, sometimes I'll just sit and scrawl layer upon layer to try and get a feel for the subject

So I drew up these big panels, two to a page and tried one more time to flesh out the over-all layout, but now with a little more eye for the actual panel contents.  Obviously this still didn’t do much to help me figure out how much space was needed for the final, and flipping pages between the test pages was perhaps an even shittier method than the thumbnail scribbling.  But I have a much better idea of what every panel was going to contain.  Which is nice.

Ok, that’s all for now.  Next time we’ll get to some of the hairier (and much funner for me) bits.

The Process – Pt. 1 The Setup

Posted in Comics, Personal/Creative with tags , on January 17, 2010 by joeylabartunek

It’s no secret that I shift from the visual to the textual/verbal mindsets like most people shift gears, loudly grinding from one mode to the other usually based entirely on how much input I’m receiving in normal life.  When things are crazy and there are happenings, I like to talk about it.  When they are not so much, I tend to lose myself in artistic escapes.  Which explains all those bits I posted recently.

So in lieu of normal personal updates and mad linking, which I am decidely still not in the mood for, I’ve decided to try something different.

Recently, I’ve gotten some big ideas about different stuff I want to try with sequential art.  I want to try and push my boundries as an artist a little and try stuff that isn’t married to the magazine or newspaper medium that it traditionally has been, but still work within the artform — lined sequential pieces, but much bigger and self contained.  And also just as importantly, I want to play with traditional boxed panel layout as well.  You’ll see what I mean as this goes on.

The first of these pieces planned is a pretty big undertaking by my standards and while working on the different stages to prep for the actual doing, Joker had the smart idea to document all the little things I do.  So over the next few posts and probably weeks I’m gonna scan in where things are and sort of explain my process.  This is my blog after all.

The Idea:

I wanted the piece to be a large column, the idea is to make it at least 1.5 feet by 3 feet, but the actual dimensions may be bigger and you’ll see why.  I knew I wanted to have it be a conversation between two or three characters as they descend on the page, both literally in the visual sense, with panels starting at the top of this column and winding their way down to the bottom, but also matching a visual descent through their environment on the part of the characters.  I settled on a mountain, it was easy to picture and metaphorically it works perfect.

Originally I had intended to do it as another sci-fantasy thing with the little wizard from that drawing a few weeks ago, explaining something to another random character.  But that didn’t seem as fun to me, I had no connection to the characters and as such was having a hard time deciding on what the conversation would actually be about.

So one fine morning I was ranting to myself about something inane, as I am wont to do, and it suddenly clicked that would be the conversation.  And only two set of voices stood out as being appropriate for such a thing, Tom Sparks and Doc Goldfarb, two of protagonists from the web comic I collaborated on a few years ago.  And suddenly the light bulb popped on with a loud bang and some nasty smoke and everything just started clicking.

So the first step for me was to try and get a feel for how this thing was going to layout.

As you can see, I ran out of room on my page just scribbling it out. This was a problem.

I tried the traditional method I used for normal sized pages, ie. scribbling in my notebook, but with an estimated 20 panels and barely 2/3rds of them able to be represented even at this stage, I knew I had problems.

Dr. Stranger With Candy

Posted in Comics, Funny Stuff with tags on November 20, 2009 by joeylabartunek

Now if it were *my* creepy molester van, Strange would be holding Clea in his arms atop a pyramid.

Thanks to The Beat for this silliness.