A miscellany of weekly ramblings on comics, art and film by Ted Mathot, storyboard artist and writer/artist/self-publisher of graphic novels and comics

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Here are a couple of books I'll be reading for reference while I write and draw CORA. The first one (A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier) I spotted this morning on the Chronicle's home page of news stories -- the storyline grabbed me immediately, first because of its subject matter and incredible reception among reviewers and second for how it might contribute to further backstory for Rose and Isabel that has not been depicted yet (CORA will will be told in several interwoven time periods, from the time of Adam, to the birth of Rose and Isabel in 1842, their early childhood, the later War years 1864-1865, to the time between the Rose and Isabel book and CORA [1869-1888] and beyond).

The second (Battle for the Mind: A Physiology of Conversion and Brain-Washing) I found after a search for well reviewed books on the topic of coercion, persuasion and brainwashing which, at its center, will be what CORA is about. There is a well known mantra among writers to "write what you know", but in this case I am writing about what I don't know but plan to place characters that I am now very familiar with into situations that will further define them.

I can't express how much this kind of research helps me. It helps expand my knowedge of subjects that I may have a narrow or generalized view of. Research not only makes our work better, but helps us become more learned as well.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Rose and Isabel go to France

Good news -- I'm in talks with a publisher to release Rose and Isabel in France. This will be the whole story all in one book and the added bonus (aside from the fact it will be translated into French) is that the book will be presented in a 2-color printing.

I'm in the process of converting all the pages to sepia, fine tuning each one as I go. The book will be around 185 pages. Many of you have asked when the book will be released as one volume and here it is. (Hopefully I'll have the US version available next year.)

This is a sample of what the book will look like (fine tuning still to come tho).

there has been some saturation loss from the conversion to web colors.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Reference and Emotion

I have used quite a bit or reference material in the making or Rose and Isabel and now Cora, but I must admit I'm not using enough. Too often I find myself trying to wing it and ending up with results that are inferior to what I could have come up with had I used reference.

Take the pic above for example; this was one of the ones I used to help me represent the anguish expressed by the two sisters in the Rose and Isabel book. Often times there is a tendency to rely on stock expressions or preconceived notions of what emotions look like on the face and they tend to be one dimensional. When someone is sad or crying, do the eyebrows always tilt back and the mouth point downward into a clownlike frown? Not really. It's very complex what happens when the face contorts to represent emotions. What I noticed about the expression above is that the eyebrows are pointing down, as if on an angry face, the mouth curls in both directions, up and down, almost adding a bit of an odd smile to the mix and the hair is falling across as well; details that would not necessarily have occured to me had I not looked at this film still.

These combinations are not only just true of the extreme emotions either; a subtle face can convey any number of complex feelings. The slightest tilt in an eyebrow (and I'm not talking the cocked eyebrow combined with the slightly crooked smile that you see on a million character's faces when they say "hey baby, what's happenin'?"); the slightest tilt of an eybrow or lilt of a head or how the eyelids are (specifically the bottom lid) can mean a TON of things; most of which are combinations of emotions that don't fall into the general categories.

When I was drawing the comics, I tried very hard to avoid purely happy,sad,angry, etc. faces. There is something behind those emotions that bring them to the front -- is the anger caused by frustration? boredom? ego? I try to find out what it is before putting it on the face and using reference is a great way to acheive it.

Here is an early sketch of Rose holding her brother at the end of the story that I really liked, but this particular shot never made its way into the final book.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Reclining Rose

Trying to post something at least once a week, so for today here is a reclining Rose sketch.
CORA is coming along very slowly but the first 30 pages of the book are starting to take shape; I'm discovering who Cora will be as a person, something that I can't do very effectively with just writing. The drawing of the pages on the fly is leading me in new and exciting directions.

Monday, February 05, 2007

CORA page 17

Here's a rough page from early in the book. I'm trying out some color stuff and I'm liking the contrast of warm balancing cool on the same page. I'm also trying something that was pointed out to me in a brief color demo by Ronnie del Carmen, and that's laying in solid blocks of color for each panel before getting into the finer details. I put down red, orange and yellow for the first 3 panels, and then intense blue for the last two. Seeing color flow as simple solids makes things a lot clearer to me. This is not something I would normally do and that's part of the reason I'm doing a color book...to try new things.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Indie Spinner Rack best of 2006

I'm very excited because Indie Spinner Rack has included Rose and Isabel in their Best of 2006 podcast! Many thanks to Charlito, Mr. Phil and The Franque at ISR for the honor. You can hear part one of the Best of 2006 (including the R&I mention) here and part two is here. Be sure to check out the rest of their podcasts by clicking the banner below!