Monday, October 31, 2011


I did a poster for school regarding spooky culture. Shout out to Theodore Rex, signature character from a sorely missed colleague.

Also did a bit on Lafcadio Hearn. The kids have no idea who he is, but the adults are all hip. I asked if it was okay to illustrate the story Hoichi, and without hesitation, I got a yes, as if I just asked to draw Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

I remember reading a Jhonen Vasquez interview once where he mentioned how his bloody, homicidal high school comics would be impossible to do in today's hyper-sensitive PC school environment, but by the looks of it, Japan's the place to go to get your gore on, and I mean right on school grounds, to boot. In retrospect, shoulda included Hoichi the Earless' ears getting ripped off rather than just the blood splatter...

To give you an idea of how this piece went over, a lady cooed the word for "cute" in Japanese as she poured over the detail. Young students even came by to watch me work on it, and I invited them to help me give Hoichi his killer tats. Adorable how timid they were while others were pumped to lend me their ears. I mean hands.

Ironically enough, in the land of cosplay, wacky treats, and rich supernatural tradition, Halloween in Japan is little more than an excuse to buy jack-o-lantern decorated trinketry. I write this post at about 11pm Japan time October 31, and nary a door knock has plagued my ears (granted I always have headphones roaring...). I literally had to explain trick or treating to the kids! It is worth noting, however, that a couple weeks before Halloween, I already saw a section of my city DECKED OUT in Christmas lights. Suck it, Halloween.

I literally passed out today at work due to exhaustion, but managed to squeeze out some spooky-oriented homework sketches. Yeah, it's a dog in a penguin suit and a pikachu wearing a Chopper hat. That mooshy sound you hear is your mind being blown.

Maximum the Janky-Japanese Syntax,


Friday, October 28, 2011


Also doubles as a solid pick-up line.

Zero Like Me #175:
Who Too, Tootsie


Easter Eggs: "Yale" in panel 1. Jump Square Comics logo. Today's setting is Narita Airport I guess. This comic goes out to that puke pile, jack kelly. Today's title is a reference to an old Boy Meets World episode where Cory complains about being the only person who doesn't know about the Hutu and the Tutsi. Or something.

Fun Facts: This return to traditional inking has been just a psychological boon. I'm feeling much better about my art, more confident, electric. I think all the "live" ink practice is also a contributing factor, plus the live audiences that stop by as I'm working on comics energize me, just like during college. I'm feeling good. A lot. Like your mom.

Baa: I like using fake names when I must introduce myself to someone I am confident I will seldom if ever interact with again. I figure it's pointless to be so arrogant as to assume someone will remember my name just because I give it, so assuming that's true, I feel fine playing a harmless prank on someone and introducing myself as Paulo or Pablo or Frank Castle. Similarly, I like being as deadpan as possible with any jokes I "crack" in front of these "ghosts." It only amuses me, I'm sure, but hey, that's what counts.

Then of course whenever I use a fake name, they always remember it, don't they?


Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Pretty pumped--I discovered a fellow loser at school.

I've never been super social or extroverted, so I always found making friends to be more trouble than it's worth. There's always a test to study for, schoolwork to do, art to do.

While grading composition tests, I discovered a fellow loser. The great thing about the kids' limited language skills is that they just cut to the chase in their writing.

But cheer up, Loser-chan, You can always make friends. Just pick up a pencil, paper, maybe some pens, and literally make them! Best of all they don't get clingy.

Chop that sadness right in its ugly face, my little loser.


Monday, October 24, 2011


We've got some more homework sketches, plucked relatively fresh from the flaps of teenybopper Japanese kids' homework. Up first is a sinister take on Sanji, the mighty cook. Lookin' intense, yo!

And to top you off, we've got a surefire jam of what and how you know you do, ya know?

We gotcher Death Notes, your Batmens, your Majin Buus, too. We gotcher subtle responses to the kids' homework (a kid who doesn't like reading comics?! Not on my watch! A kid who likes magazines, comics and video games? Noice!). And we even gotcher creepy video game-playing kid and yer multi-media sticker-riffing.

What more couldja want?

Dat dere Death Note came from a kid writing "it is good not to kill my family." Oh, those Japanese!


Friday, October 21, 2011


Back me up, ladies.

Zero Like Me #174:
Male Feminist


Easter Eggs: "Yale" in panel 1. Jump Square Comics logo. Singapore airlines is pretty sweet. McDonalds ("McDnards")and KFC ("KFShi") with their Japanese names (unofficial). Today's setting is Narita Airport in Chokeyo. This comic goes out to that scum bag, jack kelly.

Fun Facts: I screwed up the coloring file as I was preparing the YDN version of this, so all versions of this comic are slightly smaller (YDN format). Hence the raw inks version is slightly taller, but the final versions are cropped.

Baa: I am something of a comedy snob. I can't stand "awesome" comedy, where things are "funny," for instance, just because the comedian references something familiar to the audience and then they Woo! rather than laugh. Can't stand it. That's why I prefer Colbert to Jon Stewart. Too much of The Daily Show is just "Woo," but hardly an episode of Colbert goes by where I don't absolutely fall in love with some piece of writing or performance, it's literally beautiful to behold. I slug through The Daily Show just to make getting to Colbert that much more sweeter, must like you trudge through the straight man to get to the comic's payoff. And yet, like Abbot getting paid more than Costello, Jon Stewart gets all the Emmies and hype.

Speaking of comedy snobbery, while coloring today's comic, I was listening to the Chris Hardwick interview on Marc Maron (only because I find he uncovers interesting sides of figures I am not crazy about), and I was shocked to hear the Nerdist pilot describe a similar comedic distaste for what I call "awesome comedy," but I couldn't help thinking, "Dude, you just described yourself, except rather than hack comedians referencing saying 'Hey, remember what it was like to have a sandwich when you were a kid?' you reference things that 'nerdy' people did/do when they were kids or in their protracted adolescences."

The line that got me the most from that interview was when Hardwick described hack tactics being that "they just remind people that things existed and people equate that with...oh, that's funny!" Cut to his constant references to "nerdy" things and generally flat wordplay as punchlines. Granted I'm basing my estimation of Hardwick's comedy on cringing my way though his podcast episodes whenever a particularly interesting guest is on, as well as some youtube clips of his (I hope) likely outdated stand up.

But I loved the Nerdist's Bill Burr interview because it exemplified exactly what I'm talking about. The sheer difference in class of comedy between what Hardwick and company do versus Bill Burr's school is made painfully apparent, particularly when the host betrays his weakness of performing abroad or in front of black crowds while marveling at Bill Burr's ability to do that very feat; and not to mention the host and co-host's largely futile attempts to make the Boston-bred comedian laugh.

I do not understand "my" generation's comedy, and in fact am a bit upset about the state of it.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Here are some more homework sketches for the kids. This first one's a study of Tatsuya Endo's manga's first volume's cover. I picked up on the strength of volume two's cover, and the series definitely has some of the most exciting art around. I could only understand the katakana bits of it the first time through, but Mr. Dandreamz has great coverage of volume one.

I myself love the costume design and how the world is basically feudal Japan but in the future but in the past. So they have all this tech and gadgetry, but other than that, it still feels quite feudal Japanny. Really neat. The action is electric and the art is gorgeously detailed: the chapter heading illustrations, inside covers, and of course outside covers are all seriously cool. It's kinetic, super expressive, and is really something to look for. Hope to check it out once I get some more Japanese vocabulary; I'm getting better at hiragana.

I got carried away with the Endo piece, but here are some quicker blasts. I try to riff on whatever the kids are talking about in their papers, but sometimes I just go with whatever pops into my head.

Sometimes I'm just playing off of their wacky errors or silly syntax or the novel expressions they use, like how someone mentioned "painapples" or how it's dangerous for them to cook. The owl one was my first non-smiley face homework sketch, so it holds a warm spot in where my heart should be.

As you can see, my fallback is using exclamation marks and/or surprised/vaguely angry people. The fairy one was inspired by a James Jean joint, jack.

Also, flan is gross.


Monday, October 17, 2011


A birthday fan art for Fallen Avalon of her character Christophe.


Friday, October 14, 2011


"You so old, you got Moses' beeper number." --actual schoolyard slam, c.1997.

Zero Like Me #173:
Old Timer


Easter Eggs: "Yale" in panel 2. Jump Square Comics logo. If this comic rings a bell, you've got some crazy good memory. The old man is based on my memories of the grandpa from Yakitate Japan volume one, which I bought for my Yale thesis on manga. The man kinda looks like my thesis advisor, now that I think about it, but that's purely coincidental.

Fun Facts: This is the first comic of the new era of traditional inks--no more digital inks--and a simplified shading style (although I'm testing out a slightly different shade aesthetic for next time). Also, I'm uploading smaller files. It's my hope that, like the levels I gained during college, my time in Japan will yield similar significant technical advancement. Unlike college, I have the ready capacity for digital touch ups and tones, but I want to spend no less than 50% of my comicsing time on actual drawing, rather than stylus-dragging and re-dragging to get a semi-smooth line or a neat little lasso. Can't wait to see what my stuff looks like after I graduate from Japan!

Baa: I have never, ever, ever, ever felt homesick. But now that I'm in Japan, many miles and hours from everything familiar, isolated here thanks to a considerable language barrier...I still am not homesick. Oh, but I yearn for Yale, of course...

Also, this is our third anniversary. Neat.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011


Some fan art today of one of my favorite artists, Richard Miron. He's part of a great new project called "The Willow and the Builder," with fellow prodigy Adrian Simon. Can't wait till it starts snowing here in my Calvin-and-Hobbesy bit of Japan cuz the album'll be great to wander the snow in; Mr. Miron has crafted one of his greatest songs yet, "Mansion Man," and you should definitely give it a listen. Or not. Sorry, didn't mean to get pushy. Please stop staring at me.

Right, so this draw started as a warm-up sketch before working on a comic, but then I figured I'd see if I could use my digital camera in lieu of my non-existant scanner, which mouse-cookied me into doing some quick colors over the photo since I haven't painted in a while.

I did a sketch of Adrian Simon, too, but it didn't come out so great...! Alas.

All right, comicsing time.


Friday, October 7, 2011


That's Martyn with a Y, Pig with one G.

Zero Like Me #172:


Easter Eggs: "Yale" in panel 3. Jump Square Comics logo. Guest starring Singapore Airlines, the number one airline for people fleeing the US for Japan!

Fun Facts: If this comic feels familiar that's cuz it is...suck it, jack kelly.

...But wait! There's more! As a final experiment in my internal conflict over how to proceed (traditionally or digitally), I did this comic to completion both with traditional and digital inks. Above is total digitality, but what follows is the finished tradinked version that I capped with digital colors and finishes, and just after that is the raw tradinks. I was expecting it to come out much worse, but it's looking pretty okay...

Baa: I have been doing a lot of traditional inking recently at school, and am almost positive that's the best way to improve my draftsmanship, as opposed to just focusing on the digital process, which takes longer since I have an Intuos which takes more effort to match long strokes and complicated linework. Yes, pure digital stuff can look really nice, but that's if you have a Cintiq to draw with on top of many hours logged at the drawing board; I only have an Intuos4 and just a handful of years of heavy drawing.

So with that in mind, to get my 10,000 Hours, I'm going to ink traditionally and just use the tablet for coloring and finishing but not for penciling or inking, ultimately as per the sage-like advice I received from the great Kazu Kibuishi at Comic-Con '10. So this "new" era of comics'll sorta be like college again, where I did almost everything traditionally and just used Photoshop to clean up the scan (except now I can add Intuos-powered colors, text, and effects, as opposed to mousing my digital bits on a Yale computer cluster's iMac). So even if I'm only here in Japan for just a few years, I should be able to make great progress, as I was able to improve quite dramatically after only about two years doing college comics and illustrations (example: my second piece vs. my 250th+ or so).

But this is where it always starts, of course, with paper and pencil. I'm not good enough to go completely digital, I haven't earned it yet. I still have a ton of fundamentals to get down. Plus, as I look at Japanese manga companies' websites' recruitment pages, I believe they just want traditional guys for assistants. So if my destiny leads me to become someone's assistant, I need to be able to throw down traditionally first and foremost. Digital is the calculator you get to use in high school math class after proving you can do long division by hand in elementary school.

So school's in session. Again.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011




Battle Theme: GO!
Home Stage: K City - The Downtown

This sequel is a Japan exclusive; so good luck catching it Stateside.


Monday, October 3, 2011


Cooked up some more of them there homework sketches for those there kyids, mmhmm. A kid said they found cooking exciting, so that kid gets a Sanji.

I try to sneak in musical moments whenever someone writes something to the effect of being into music. I've met Radwimps and Ellegarden fans, so I hopefully we can build some bridges.

One kid wrote that they get bored eating food or something equally depressing.

This was a random drawing, but it ended up looking kinda like Nami...

...aaand Radical Edward to wrap it up.