Friday, July 29, 2011


I had a ridiculously great Comic-Con, I received amazing feedback and interest from ridiculously huge companies, and I was even covered by the Onion's AV Club! This was my "first" year showing, since I only had my best college work to show last year (making me still a student-artist) but even so, last year's work fortunately garnered auspicious, however humble, reviews. This year I was surprised at how much I'd grown and how much I had to share, actually, so I'm going to do some posts collecting my thoughts on how I made the convention go as smoothly as it went, starting with the portfolio strategy. The core ingredient is having strong material to show, but beyond that, a good bit of strategy helps, too. This was my 2011 portfolio strategy.

First, I had a three part portfolio, starting with Part One: my Magic: the Gathering sequential pages (the first five pages starting here, since the most universal requirement for sequential review is that they be five consecutive non-splash pages). While making these pages, I knew draftsmanship and storytelling would be crucial, but that writing was only of secondary importance (at an art review). So I focused on drawing well-designed, dynamic characters, detailed backgrounds, and making it all flow even if you ignored the dialog. The number one compliment was about my expressions. The number one criticism was that my handwriting sucked professionalism from the work! For the critics who did read the text, I got smiles, and even loud laughs from lapsed-Magic players and the Magic-playing Magic painter Chris "Jitte" Moeller!

When deciding on a story for my sequentials, I thought, rather than do a revamp of old, "proven" work to my modern standards as I'd initially planned, instead I'd put old ZLM characters in an original story created by using random Magic cards as a writing prompt. I thought this might capitalize on the "old nostalgic thing in a new refurbished context is so awepic" fad that's consuming today's society, and indeed I succeeded: pretty much everyone at Comic-Con played or knew of Magic when they were younger so they were delighted to see a comic based on it, without having to know Magic to "get" the comic; all you need to know, if anything at all, is that Magic = swords and sorcery, and you're set. My comics showcased my passion for Magic, all-ages storytelling without being child-exclusive entertainment a la Batman: the Animated Series, and it showed my artistic abilities (humans, creatures; talking, combat; props, environments) along with my versatility to write and draw (many people are quite impressed when you drop the bomb that "Yes, I created absolutely everything you see on this page: character design, prop design, pencils, inks, tones/colors, and writing." Bam. Business card.

Part Two of my portfolio was three digital illustrations: "Tony Tony Tony," "Phantom Me," and "America's Suitehearts." Earlier this year, I decided to create strategic illustrations that would demonstrate my digital coloring and painting capacities, each to feature carefully chosen subjects (with more on the way!). "Tony Tony Tony" was based on the drummer Tony Thaxton from Motion City Soundtrack combined with Tony Tony Chopper, a character from one of my favorite comics/shows, One Piece. This illo was designed to show not only my ability to draw a real person in "my" style, but also my reinterpreting a popular character, making him my own by re-contextualizing him with a real person and an original setting. It was also an experiment to see if it was possible to break into the suffocatingly popular mash-up culture by pairing unrelated things into a natural fit. It was. This piece was a hit for showing I could draw stuff that appeals to older teens and twenty-somethings.

"Phantom Me" was based on a desire to interpret the harsh Butch Hartman style through my generally-softer style, meanwhile also being an experiment to see if any old Danny Phantom piece could blindly generate a lot of hits with people who refuse to let DP go. It does. This piece got great feedback for inadvertently showing that I could do superheroes, although as I explained to the editor, Danny Phantom isn't really a superhero per se.

The final piece, "America's Suitehearts," based on the Doonesbury character, Alex Doonesbury, was a bit of a gamble to see if I could drastically re-interpret a character from an under-represented fan art culture from an arguably less prevalent (yet still relevant) area of pop culture, newspaper comic strips. This has some of my favorite background painting, but I'd say the piece was a popular flop online, even though it was critically successful at Comic-Con reviews. This got great reception for its perspective and sky, the latter of which I love as well.

The final, Third Part of my portfolio was select color comic strips, printed two strips to a page. Page 1: zlm142 zlm144, p2: zlm145 zlm149, p3: zlm151 zlm153, 4: zlm156 zlm158, 5: zlm160 zlm161, 6: zlm162 zlm163. These were picked first as my best-drawn strips (either for character or architecture, ideally both), then for what the art can showcase, then for the humor of the pieces. The Gmail spoof was a great example of "architecture" in the loose sense in that I got to mimic a quite familiar design, but I also got compliments on my costuming, when taking architecture to mean clothing. I was thrilled to get some smiles and laughs for the work, too. And while my biggest criticism last year was my figures, I got plenty of compliments on my figurework this year, particular of the feminine sort!

So that's what I was packing for Comic-Con portfolio reviews. In addition to the work itself, I made sure to have plenty of business cards on me (down to my last two!) as well as printed copies of everything displayed, ready to leave behind with the reviewer. After the review, as they begin to return your samples to you, if they ask for leave-behinds, nothing makes you feel more like a baller than holding up your hands against the mid-returned samplers as you go, "Oh, yes, that's all yours to keep. Business card?"

Cool. Next week: how to do a portfolio review. Like a baller. A patient, patient baller.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011


note to self #131: boxcar

That hideous scar on the comics landscape, jack kelly, is back with more note to self in a bundle entitled "obese anorexics." Did you have a good Comic-Con, jack kelly? A-bup-bup! Not another word, my good man, rest assured--I don't care! Also, stop criticizing boxing and NASCAR fans. Their interests are just as valuable to the American fabric as any other. I mean without boxing or NASCAR, how would brain-dead yokels entertain themselves? No, no, besides Family Guy. Exactly--it's like enjoying a Seth MacFarlane show, except with the fringe benefit that inevitably the beer-chugging constituents will soon enough come to fisticuffs and enable some voluntary herd-thinning in the invariably ensuing brawl. It's Darwinism at its Ed-Hardy-bedazzled finest, jack kelly.

note to self #132: rap must end

jack kelly, I don't know where you get off making a slight against rap. It's a perfectly valid and valuable art form. That's right, ART form. If it weren't for rap, how would I ever be able to publicly and rhythmically voice my utter contempt and sub-human estimation of women? That's right. Rap music. Thank you, Kool Herc!

note to self #133: trigonometry

Oh, jack kelly, you miserable wretch, you're just jealous that a 12 year old can find the surface area of a rhombus and you can't. Loser. Also, what's a rhombus? That's a thing, right?

note to self #134: diversity

What a heartwarming message, jack kelly: verily, all shapes and sizes can be punched in the neck by testosterone-addled jocks. Also, I don't know how, but I'm pretty sure that was a racist joke, jack kelly, and that's something I cannot stand for. If I do, the Mexicans will steal my chair.

note to self #135: logos

You're one to talk, jack kelly. You're too stupid to draw good. Or something. Cow fart.


Monday, July 25, 2011


A stripey commission.

Dude, I had an INSANE time at Comic-Con!
I cannot believe how well things went!
I even got covered a little by the Onion's AV Club!

As a policy I try to avoid putting any personal thoughts on posts with commission work, so tune in Friday for a full report!

I will say this: I have never felt this excited for my future since I got into Yale.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011


note to self #126: gangsta

jack kelly is the untalented author of note to self and he has some comics for you, in a set he's calling "kareem abdul jabberwocky talkie." Real original. That was sarcasm, jack kelly, you worthless sack. Look, I don't have time for you right now, it's time for Comic-Con, so you're on your own for the rest of this post.

note to self #127: small talk

note to self #128: rivercrest

note to self #129: vhs

note to self #130: word

Y eso es la palabra.


Monday, July 18, 2011


A Dodorian commission.

Shades power up!!


Lines transform!

Ultimate form:


Friday, July 15, 2011



Zero Like Me #170:
Deal #5: Fast Effects


Busy at Comic-Con! Details coming soon!

[Update: Ok, back and ready.]

Easter Eggs: "Yale" in panel 5 and deal 5 in panel 2. The cards referenced are Last Gasp, Spirit Flare, and Monstrous Growth. Do the math to discover our beast is actually just a squirrel with roid rage.

Fun Facts: This page was wrapped just days before Comic-Con! What an end to a hectic, hectic run (only to give way to the madness of Comic-Con, pun unintended). Just a moment to catch my breath before we get gunning on more stuff.

Baa: Comic-Con went great. My reports are here and here.

Ok, so we're going to take a quick break from comicsing to work on a quick(ish) project I've got to hit before I leave for Japan.

Not sure when I'll be able to get more comics done, since the other project has to take priority, but we're gunning it.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011


note to self #121: not voltaire

It's jack kelly, author of note to self with some comics under the banner of "tigerbeatcoverboy." Up first is a comic about jack kelly's cowardly, cowardly cowardice. He talks a big game, but you know he's all about fascism when push comes to shove (he bruises easily).

note to self #122: period

Nice, jack kelly, way to disrespect the common agony of women by voluntarily taking on a similar burden, as if to flaunt your ability to escape that red-soaked fate whenever you wish.

note to self #123: spoiled

Oh, jack kelly, I bet you slay all the ladies with your bacterial contamination, you diseased vector, you.

note to self #124: protest

Come on, jack kelly, just because Yale is a worldwide leader in discourse and education doesn't mean it should also be a bastion for free speech, idiot; don't be so narrow-minded.

note to self #125: my hip

I bet you think you're clever, jack kelly, but you're not. You're like...something...that isn't clever. Like a hipster's idiotic photography, for instance.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011


Any fast effects?

Zero Like Me #169:
Deal #4: Leapfog


Easter Eggs: "Yale" in panel 3, Deal 4 in panel 1. Today's main spell doesn't really exist in white, but enough white creatures and spells grant temporary flying, also known as "leap," for it to feel safely white, even if a lot of them require some blue mana involvement. The other spell, "Fog," which has some incredible art in M12, is used to prevent combat damage, which Garry obviously used to keep from getting slaughtered by this egg-laying mammal. The creature in the last panel is roughly based on Krosan Beast, which is basically just a squirrel jacked on theshroids.

Fun Facts: Zero is granted flying in the fourth panel by Nyao's Aeronaut's Leap spell, which again, doesn't quite exist purely as is in Magic, but it's based on the common "leap" ability of many white tricks, particularly the keenly named Kor Aeronaut.

Of course Aeronaut's Leap wouldn't be a particularly playable card in draft or constructed, but it serves the plot, and in any case you'd think any decent "real-world" white mage could easily whip out a leap-spell without even blinking, so I regret nothing. Nothing.

Also, I just learned that you can die from eating raw eggs...but let's just go with people in this Magic-based universe are generally tougher than in our world. That's fair, right? Sure it is.

Baa: I actually find Flying to be a bit of an annoying mechanic. On the other hand, I've always had a fondness for fear (now more appropriately retired for "intimdate") because it felt sneakier than Flying while still being fair in the sense that if they had artifacts or the correctly colored creatures, you were sunk, but otherwise it was pretty smooth sailing. I won my very first tournament I entered by drafting two or three Nezumi Cutthroats and just going to town on my opponent.

But in reality, only black mages can really appreciate the good old days of fear, I guess.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011


note to self #116: scumbags

So here's jack kelly, author of note to self with a collection of comics under the theme of "obese feces pieces." First is a comic about lit majors. What an absolute waste of time and talent, amirite? What kind of intellectually selfish, ego-maniacal tool studies lit theory rather than something productive to humanity like a science. Or Egyptology.

note to self #117: one hit one derr

Please, jack kelly, spare us all and leave the masculinist humor to the professionals.

note to self #118: priorities

Please, jack kelly, spare us all and leave the scatological humor to the professionals.

note to self #119: socball

Look, jack kelly, just because you don't like soccer, that's no reason to zzzzzzzz.

note to self #120: celebrate idiocy

Sorry, jack kelly, you know I always fall asleep whenever we talk sports. Now where were we? Oh, yeah! How dare you insult such magnificent artists as Roman Polanski and Woody Allen? They're bringing art into the world (admittedly amongst other...things). But make no mistake, what Congressman Weiner did was unforgivable.

Maybe if the congressman would have spent less time endeavoring to get childishly stubborn Republicans to vote to approve a humane compensation bill for 9/11 victims or getting childishly stubborn adults to acknowledge their active refusal to do their jobs properly, and instead would have focused on making movies to dazzle the masses, then perhaps he'd get to keep his career. It's not like he's entertaining us, jack kelly, he's just trying to advocate for humanity and justice for people he's never even met. Screw him. Besides, jack kelly, it's not even like he was injecting himself upon young girls or anything so prestigious, he was sending pictures of himself to girls who were flirting with him online. Big difference, jack kelly, you delusional moron.

How many times do I have to tell you? It's simple: if you assault a girl barely into her teens, you get Oscars, pardons, and international renown; if you cheat on your girlfriend with her daughter barely out of her teens, you get Oscars, clarinet solos, and international renown; if you tweet pictures of yourself to flirts, you lose everything. Simple. Look, jack kelly I get that you have some demented desire to defend someone who's affecting reality more directly and more actively than any movie ever could, but face facts: Congressman Weiner is a scumbag who could have avoided all these problems if he just would have worn a director's beret while sending creepy pictures of himself to people. Stop being such a short-sighted idiot and blindly defending him, all right?

Now c'mon, jack kelly, let's agree to disagree already; I gotta go--I'm missing the Jeffrey Jones marathon on TV. That dude is such a great actor.


Monday, July 4, 2011



A greeny commission.

Some shades.

Some lines.

Some guy:


Friday, July 1, 2011


Cards in hand?

Zero Like Me #168:
Deal #3: Sap


Easter Eggs: "Yale" in panel 6, Deal 3 in panel 5. Today's title is the nickname for Saprolings, which I guess come from these berry-looking things. The pipe Z's smoking is based on the pipe Yale gives you after you graduate. The scrolls reference something related to red mages, which will make sense eventually.

Fun Facts: That last panel was a bit of a tricky call--from the pencils, I knew I wanted some of the mystery creature's face to be visible, but ended up deciding less visibility would be better.

I'm not sure if I shouldn't have included a time-passage panel (like panel 5) to begin this page, to help indicate that time elapsed between this page and the previous one. Feeling torn about it.

Baa: My first deck was green, and I still love that color, but black's where it's at. In fact, I wrote one of my Yale admissions essays on the philosophy of black mana, as elucidated by the legendary Mark Rosewater. For my second Yale admissions essay, I wrote a response to Mark Roseater's motto, "restrictions breed creativity." Thus I credit MaRo with helping to get me into Yale. I was so thrilled to meet him last year at Comic-Con. I was fortunate to have gotten to interview him over the phone my Freshman Year for my Bulldog Blogs stint, it was the same day as the VQ was doing their 12 hour improv marathon, so we even got to talk about his Boston University days doing stand up and improv. He is so crazy cool.

Anyway, now I just need to meet Conan and then I'll have met everyone who got me into Yale!