Before Tomorrowland Out… Tomorrow!

Before TomorrowlandSave me from a bad joke, but yes, tomorrow, April 7th, my latest work, Before Tomorrowland, hits bookstores, Amazon… even Walmart, apparently. Sharing credits with Jeff Jensen, Brad Bird, and Damon Lindelof gets you into the ‘mart, you see.

Here’s copy from the back, to tell you what it’s all about:

Based on the spellbinding world of the Walt Disney Studios film, Tomorrowland, this original prequel novel features a 20-page comic book and unlocks a place of unfathomable science and technology and the famous people behind it.
The year is 1939.
A secret society of extraordinary geniuses is about to share an incredible discovery with the world.
A misguided enemy–half man, half machine–will stop at nothing to prevent the group from giving this forbidden knowledge to humanity.
And a mother and son on vacation in New York City are handed a comic book infused with a secret code that will lead them straight into the crossfires of the conspiracy.

Jeff Jensen, whom you may remember from our collaboration on Green River Killer, co-wrote the screenplay for Disney’s Tomorrowland with Brad and Damon, and brought me aboard to create the illustrations, the comic book segment, the cover (so wild about that retro gold leaf), and in a wild turn of events, to share authorship on this, our book. We produced it during a very hard season, at a pace and intensity that, to paraphrase Jeff, “kicked our butts”. I think (hope) the result is something special. It’s a wild hybrid of so much: Retro sci-fi, intense family drama, prose, and comics. I’ll clam up and let you be the judge of it, but I hope that you (and/or your kids) give it a whirl.

The book’s out tomorrow, but signings are coming up next month. Jeff and I will be at Powell’s Books in Portland on May 2nd (Free Comic Book Day!) and the University Bookstore in Seattle the following day. I’ve also heard rumblings of other events, online and offline, but I imagine more will be revealed post-release.

In a bit of serendipity, I’m also working this month with local TED Talk, TEDx Portland, to supply illustrations for their Tomorrows-themed event coming up in May. I get to draw various futuristic visions of the Rose City, both fun and scary. It’s really a hoot. They’re talking about a gallery show and some other things, but again, no exact details yet. If I can, I’ll find a way to bring Before Tomorrowland into that mix somehow. It just seems like a natural match. In the meantime, keep a watch for more signings on my appearances column, and on my store for autographed editions of Before Tomorrowland.

Now, back to the madness. The New Deal, my next authored/drawn graphic novel with Dark Horse, is ridiculously close to deadline, so you go, read other book, let me know what you think (except for first-edition typos, don’t tell me any of those or I’ll never sleep) and I’ll keep making the other new book.

Books!

The New Deal Before Tomorrowland

Funny how those two titles run together and still work.

I’m back from the depths. They said it couldn’t be done, but here I am, writing a blog post. I put a number of things on hiatus over the last year — public appearances, my web store, sleep. It all comes, as Christopher Robin says, of (doing) eating too much.

Being busy, for me, is not a life goal anymore. It used to be. Now it’s the old aunt who won’t leave unless you tell her, rudely. By way of catch up, here’s a short version of what I’ve been up to since my last blog post, lo these nine months ago:

  • May: Wife graduated from grad school (Go Sarah!) and had our second child, Otis (Go Sarah!)
  • May: We moved to a new home, two weeks after having the kid. What, past-self? How did that make sense?
  • May (notice a lot in May?) to August: Started and finished art + first draft of crazy, hybrid-enhanced-YA-novel Before Tomorrowland for Disney. Realized a dream of seeing my name next to Brad Bird’s on a thing.
  • July: Did illustrations for Aloof, the latest theo-lit book from Tony Kriz, out at better bookstores now (Just got back from Tony’s reading at Powell’s!)
  • Somewhere in there: Completed 50% of art on my next graphic novel, The New Deal (coming soon from Dark Horse). I ramble about it here, at CBR.
  • Somewhere else in there: Played stay-at-home-dad a couple days a week while Sarah got her counseling business up and running (Go Sarah!)
Before Tomorrowland Case

See? Real.

It doesn’t look like that much to me, seeing it written in a few sentences here, but boy. I’m just now learning to walk and talk again. In the next few weeks, I’ll dive into a bit more detail on these and other fun projects I have under way. For now, Happy Sunday. It was, by and large, a day of rest.

More please!

April 2nd is Batman ’66 Day

You know why it’s Batman ’66 Day tomorrow? Three things.

1. I return to the series with the first of 3 loaded new chapters, enhanced for digital. This one has it all, as Jeff Parker says:

For our latest story, artist Jonathan Case who kicked off the series, is returning for another big three-parter where The Joker and Catwoman bust out of confinement and turn Gotham City upside down.

It’s wild and crazy, and I’m doing the primary cover for this issue (#11) when it’s all collected for print. Here’s the original cover art (for sale, and still in support of trafficking survivors).

Joker and Catwoman

2. Tomorrow’s the release of the first snazzy hardcover collection of Batman ’66. It really turned out beautifully, and includes art from fab people like Colleen Coover, Joe Quinones, and more! Buy a signed copy here.

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3. The incomparable Jeff Parker will sign the above next to yours truly at Cosmic Monkey here in beautiful Portland, OR. 5PM-7PM, Wednesday April 2nd. Head over here for event details. Visiting comics stars Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire will join us too and sign their hit book, Moon Knight.

And we may get burgers at Sassy Burger if I can convince them. Those are good burgers.

I’ll also bring some of these Julie Newmar Catwoman prints:

Catwoman

I rest my case. Batman ’66 Day.

Latest Hardware Love Letter – Canon Pixma Pro 100 Printer

My love affair with tech is frequently at odds with my impulse to keep rooted in the materials of my childhood (and, history up to now). There are uses for both. There’s efficiency to be gained in digital, and there’s joyful play that goes with using real-world materials. I still prefer and approach to my work that balances the two, and gives me the best aspects of each: the speed and power digital layouts/pencils, and the natural textures and fun of traditional inks (and sometimes paints). In order to bridge the gap between my Cintiq Companion and my bristol board, I needed another tool; a quality large format printer. I did a good bit of research, and I’ve found one that not only fits the bill for comics bluelines, but a whole host of other applications (art prints, photos, last-minute valentines)- and in my use, it does it all while beating the competition senseless from a quality/value standpoint. Here it is:

Swoon.

Swoon.

This is the Canon Pixma Pro 100. It’s Canon’s entry-level professional color printer, it’s beastly big/heavy, and built like a tank compared to the consumer printers I’ve used. I’ll get into what it does well in a minute, but first I’ll tell you something about my prior experiences using large-format printers. Then you shall fully understand my joy.

I’ve used a number of large format printers from HP, Brother, and the like (and by large format, I don’t mean gigantic, roll-out-a-banner size, just something with at least 11″x17″ capabilities). They’ve all been consumer-grade, and serviceable with some coaxing. One that comics people recommended frequently for its multi-functionality is the Brother MFC J6710dw. For about $150, you get an 11″x17″ scanner, printer, fax (right?), creature-feature. We have one in my studio, and I’ve used it a number of times to print my digital bluelines onto bristol.

We are not friends, you and I.

We are not friends, you and I.

Here’s the thing: in the mid-to-late nineties, my parents got one of these MFC things from another manufacturer, and it just did nothing well. It had constant problems, and at that time, I swore I’d never buy an MFC device. After using the newer Brother in my studio, my opinion is largely unchanged. It does produce decent blueline prints, but with enormous caveats: after only a few friendly encounters, I found it had trouble taking a single page of bristol (you have to hand-guide the paper onto the sensor, do a holy cross, close your eyes, and count to ten- and even then, it may spit the board out, or give you lip about how there’s nothing there). Even when it does finally print something, it may print the image slightly crooked on the page- not a big deal for print art production, but it sure doesn’t make originals look their best. In short, I found all the efficiency gained in digital layouts and pencils squandered by constant printer battles. I sometimes spent an hour, hour and a half trying to get ten pages printed. I’m not kidding. I could have had another hand-penciled page mostly done in that time. RE-DONK-U-LOUS! My experiences with our older HP deskjet were largely the same- lots of time wasted trying to get a good print.

So where do you go from there? Large-format-capable pro grade printers, even entry-level ones, typically start at about $500. Ouch. Would I eventually make that up if I didn’t have to waste time battling the device? Sure, but I am my father’s son, and can’t help but find a deal. This is freelance art, after all. Some days I get offers from joe average that let me pay two weeks of bills in a day, and other days I get offers from major publications to do art for less than I pay my babysitter. Finding a good deal on your tools is important.

Enter the Pro 100. One of the delightful things about this printer is that it’s almost always available with a huge rebate from Canon. If you go to Adorama, for example, you can typically find it for under 90 bucks after the $300 mail-in-rebate, including a nice stack of 13″x19″ photo-paper. It’s crazy.

Here’s what’s even crazier. We all know that manufacturers price their printers to make their real money from ink and toner sales. This model is no exception, with a full set of 8 cartridges running about $100. Double-ouch, especially considering how much ink you use on just 5-10 13″x19″ high-quality prints (the answer is most of it). Granted, blue-line prints are nowhere near that thirsty, so you’ll get far more pages out of the ink set before you need a refill. BUT. The secret to getting huge value out of this printer is using refillable inks from a third party manufacturer. Note, I’m always very leery of non-name-brand inks, and you should be too. They’ll often yield less, clog more, and give you worse color. I did a lot of research on this, and found a supplier called Precision Colors that a bunch of pro photographers love (I think I found a few discussions on DPReview, among others). Their system is certainly more work intensive than just buying a new set of cartridges, but having done it myself now, it’s really very easy if you follow their instructions and have a few tools around the house. I also love that I don’t have to throw away so much plastic.

Squeezy caps make for cleaner refills.

Squeezy caps make for cleaner refills.

The set I bought from them is the squeezy-cap system (should be on the bottom-right of this page). Do your own investigating to see if this is worth it to you, but for me, it’s beautiful. The inks are formulated to match the quality and consistency of Canon’s, and with the bottles I bought, I should be able to fill my cartridges about 3 dozen times for the same price of 1 new set from Canon. Precision Colors also has adjusted color-profiles you can download if you’re crazy about getting everything perfectly consistent. For my uses, their inks work perfectly well with the default Canon settings.

The Pro 100’s print quality and ease of operation are also big plusses. Coming from the Brother, I expected some amount of fiddling would be necessary for my bristol sheets, but much to my surprise, I’ve not had a single battle in a month of regular use. I can load up a fat stack of bristol sheets, hit print on a batch of pages in Manga Studio, and the printer just does its thing, no lip given, no jams, no misaligned images (knock on wood). The bristol feeds through automatically. I also used the printer for some art prints at a recent convention, using the provided 13″x19″ photo paper, and the results were stellar. As good or better than anything I’ve received from a print shop, even on the standard quality mode. Its borderless  printing feature is also useful for art prints, or just getting the biggest working area possible onto my bristol board. The printer’s wifi capable too, so I can sit at my desk/couch with the Cintiq Companion and print stuff off any time, without having to hook anything up. A pretty standard perk for a modern printer, but still very nice.

So far, I’ve printed about 30 pages of Batman ’66 pencils, a couple watercolor underdrawings (I’ve gone right over the ink lines without much bleeding), maybe 10 convention art prints, some smaller photos, and a handful of other things (last minute valentine). I’m very pleased with the Pro 100 in all aspects. If you have limited space, that’s a consideration, as it really is large and heavy. Otherwise, go snag one from Adorama, or wherever has the best price, and print yourself silly.

My crappy cell phone camera can't do these justice- but look at the size of that Caspar David Friedrich! Borderless goodness.

My crappy cell phone camera can’t do these justice- but look at the size of that Caspar David Friedrich! Borderless goodness.

Where Monsters Dwell Interview

Tomorrow I have an interview on radio/podcast Where Monsters Dwell. I’m going to do my best to rally through this cold. Get ready for some sweet, sweet, frog-voiced action. Looks like we’re talking Batman ’66, SARC donations, and about Jeff Parker (because I like to link to his blog).

If you want to ask me a question, it looks like they even have a section for that. I’m prepared to tell all.