Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hey, so now that you're up to speed on who Amnio's folks are, that means I can dig out the card concepts for Mother's Day and Father's Day! Cool!

Three guesses for which one this design's for:


Sunday, August 29, 2010


Hey! What're you still doing here? Didn't you know there's a new gag comic up on the main site? Check it out, yo! (Plus, there'll be another comic next Monday, so don't go tossing your fork right away after you're done! Save that sucker.)

But what's that I hear you asking? Who're those strangers in the new comic? Why, my dear rhetorical audience I'm replying to, you didn't think Amnio's mom and dad weren't ever going to show up in the Grey Bouquet world, did you?

Yup, those lovebirds are Warren and Lindsey Horsemann-- aka, former Riders of War and Pestilence in that Apocalypse shindig that wiped out all the humans, thus shooing in the Afterworld as Amnio and friends know it.

True, they've changed a bit since the first concept sketch of 'em, especially Dad and his helmet-slash-bronze-feathers-or-something-I-don't-know mask:


But if you want to see some real design changes, just check out how the Riders looked before they were done with that Big Job of theirs.


Left to right: Death, Pestilence, and War. Pestilence is stretching for a semi-human form here; usually it'd be a formless ichor blob covered with eyespots. Famine's not in this pic, but trust me, it'd look like sort of a saggy inflatable-windsock funnel critter with button eyes on top.

...Okay, so this is a bit of a cheat. The drawing above is from a comic project I tried briefly in college called "Second Horse," told from the POV of an alien from a protozoan-level ocean planet who's brought to Earth for an unknown purpose-- until that purpose turns out to be destroying the humans the blob's grown so fond of, by the time it catches on.

Thing is, I see the Riders from the Grey Bouquet universe as pretty much the same deal: four alien beings roam from planet to planet, taking out whatever they're told is the local pest that needs quieting down on that world, and off they all go to their next assignment. They have such abstract forms simply because 1.) they have no concept of humanity to copy themselves after, and 2.) they're avatars of friggin' elemental destruction. They don't need to look complicated. That'd be showing off, and they have a job to do.

But then there's Earth. And for whatever reason, War and Pestilence were smitten with the place. So much so that when they were done with that particular assignment (read: us), they decided to quit their cosmic temp job and strike it out on their own to emulate what they figured the dream life of the planet's former natives used to be-- that is, settle down in the suburbs and start a family.

Now, it's true, Warren and Lindsey don't have all too clear an image of what humans were actually like, besides the mishmash of videos and advertisements left behind. The forms they've adopted to look "more human" still don't look exactly like the perfect Hollywood couple, and Amnio's some real proof of how secondhand their ideas are for what "the perfect child" is supposed to look like, but... well, for a couple of galactic endbringers, I think they've done well for themselves.

PS: In today's gag strip? Yeah, that's not really how pre-Amnio life worked at all. But he's just a little kid, right? He can learn all the icky details when he's older. Just be glad his folks never heard about those mythic creatures, the "storks."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Postcards! Get'cher fresh, buttery postcards he-ah!

That's right, baseball's own timeless crunchy snack favorite can now be delivered right to your door THROUGH THE INTERNET! Check out those photos in the link, 'cause there's art on the back, too. Plus a spot for a stamp in the shape of, get this-- an egg. Boy howdy, huh? What'll we think of next?

Also available in the third dimension at Sacred Paths Center, and (a few days from now) at The Source.


No sketch today, folks. Sorry to disappoint if you brought your plate. But don't fret, 'cause this next Monday, there'll be a super-sized update to make up for it! How big is it, you ask? Oh, only 'bout as big as THE END OF THE WORLD.

...'Bang' kind of end, not the 'whimper' kind.

Just... trust me, it's plenty big.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

sockpuppet fields forever

Still working on stuff that's not done enough yet to put up here, so... how 'bout I round out the last of those character/flower logos from the backs of the GBQ greeting cards, eh?


Hoping the basic character/flower parallels came through well enough for all of 'em. Amnio's wilting a flower with seeds inside an oval center that kinda looks like his mask-nose holes; Riddlyn's melting out from a flowery acid-trip sort of jumble; Nugget's sitting on a tree stump; Mister Bitch is gnawing on a poodle-puffy daisy and everything's covered in dog drool.

Didn't catch some of the pair-ups the first time around? You can go ahead and check the others. S'not like I'm gonna end the post and run away while you're out double-checking or anything. Except for the part where I'm totally doing just that.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

An idea so nice, I did it twice. Bask in the knowledge!


Also, thanks to all who came to the Minneapolis Indie Xpo this past Saturday! If you ran into me there, don't be alarmed-- I don't tend to be nearly that sweaty. (Seriously, what was up with that? I had a movie-popcorn-butter glaze going by, like, 11 in the morning.)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

KNOW YOUR NUGGET: an educational film for today's youth

New picture I whipped up to help a buddy of mine with reference for a certain somebody...


Yeah, so he's off-model from this in some of the GBQ merchandise. Just consider any stray neck scruffs retconned from this point on.

By the way, said buddy pointed out a possible glitch with the html I should mention a quick fix for: if your browser window's only showing you the left end of these pictures, you can click the pics to show the whole image on its own!


Last-minute awesome news! Looks like I'm gonna be sitting in for the Minneapolis Indie Xpo this weekend, thanks to fellow Black Hatter and creator of the best nerds-in-rest-homes-of-the-future webcomic out there, Abby Lehrke! Check us out at the Soap Factory Saturday and Sunday, yeah? Admission's free. Just think of it: all the comic books you can eat!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

GBQ plus BBQ equals.. something... BQ

Entering the dog days of summer, so you know what that means!

...Gah! NO! Not that. Where'd you even get one of those?! You put that away before the cops see you.

Jeez. Kids these days.

I meant it's BARBECUE TIME!


PS: Calm down, that's not Nugget. Amnio's folks don't talk about what happens to all the squirrels and rabbits that get sleepy after Amnio hugs 'em long enough for the radiation poisoning to kick in, is all.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

For the record, this is totally me not stalling while I try to scrabble together enough reference photos to do the next sketch for the blog. Totally. Nope.

Right. ONE MORE KID PHOTO! (...And I can't find the first sketch I did of Mister Bitch, so this really is the last one. For reals this time.)


So I've had a few friends over the years who, on occasion, were known to command: "Hey, you! Draw something. I wanna see what happens."

If they were lucky, I'd do more than just give a dismissive lip-flappy noise in reply, and actually do what they ask. If I was lucky, I'd have something like these lovely ladies appear on the page when I was done. Much like how Amnio showed up, really, though Riddlyn the mermaid-sockpuppet happened to arrive with a chaperone.

"Missusymbiote" (the deer critter, there) was later renamed, streamlined down to a form that made my drawing hand not want to gag, and put into service as a character for a 24-page comic I did layouts for in 2006, none of which I'm going to show online unless I finish it, 'cause I'm a paranoid so-and-so like that.

FUN FACT: Riddlyn doesn't only have that one hat, you know. She's actually got scads of different hats stashed around in her collection. The fez is just her favorite.

She doesn't let Nugget know about this, 'cause... let's face it, he kinda stinks hats up once he borrows 'em. Talk about awkward.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

He's put on some weight, but only 'cause roly-polier chicken equals FUNNIER chicken, amirite?

Not much on the docket for today. Workin' on a couple more picture book sketches, so the checklist should have a couple fresh Xs on it before too long.

How about another first-appearance pic? Seems to be Nugget's week so far, so let's go with him.


I still raise an eyebrow at how little's changed between these first sketches and how I draw him now. Considering Amnio, Mister Bitch, and Riddlyn all had a few years of weird-looking development quirks... just had one of those "right place, right time" moments, I guess. Nugget's my Athena. Sprung fully-formed from the forehead of Gerbil. Love it when that happens.

Gives him a really boring baby-photo story, though.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


First off, guess what came in the mail today?


If you guessed the postcards, THAT IS CORRECT


So, rather than toss off another hit-and-run entry like Monday's batch of sleepwalking and fail, figured I'd make things up to you by doing here what I didn't do last time: walk you through how I made the darn thing.

Everybody ready?




NOTE: this assumes you have already
(1) drawn the headless chicken postcard art in question, which involves a Bic-clicker pencil and a very thin piece of dead tree,
(2) gone over the pencil lines with a .005 Micron pen, and
(3) scanned the end result into the magical porn picture box we call a COMPUTER to save it as a file.


Boy-oh-boy! Here's your brand new baby, all wide-eyed and excited and... looking kinda hangdoggy, to be honest. Blechh. Look at those mistake lines where your hand shook tracing with the pen! Those untrimmed borders hanging off the lines! The weird angle that word balloon's got, compared to where Nugget's neck is supposed to be! And those triangles you pasted into the background from a different scan... those aren't working like you thought they would in your head.

Not a bad start, but this thing needs some work done if it's gonna face the Printshop Crew in the final round, 'cause believe me, kid, that team plays hard.

Enter Photoshop CS and its Erase tool!




After a thorough go-over with Erase, some doctoring to the pen line oopses, and a quick Rotate to fix the word balloon angle, we make a new solid-color layer to plop behind the original. This way, you can see which parts of the background (ie, the paper that was originally drawn on) didn't get erased from the part of the scan we want to keep as the image. See the flecky bits in the circles? Almost got 'em all. Time to erase 'em for good. Kids, cover your eyes. I don't want you crying about this later.




Now comes the tricky part. Remember all those pen lines? The ones that were the exact same thickness for the entire drawing?

Well, grab your Wacom tablet and pen-shaped stylus, 'cause it's time to go over the whole thing again-- only this time, we're adding line weights. No more scrawny, nine-pound-weakling lines on THIS sucker! Now it's gonna look like it can stand up to a heavy breeze.




The Paintbucket tool's a wondrous thing. One click, and the whole area you're working with-- bam! Colored.

...Or so you'd think. There's a lot of zooming in to make the picture huge, gaping in disgust at all the tiny pixel bits that don't get filled in 'cause they aren't exactly the same color as the pixels you Paintbucketed, and frantically smoothing over those edge bits with the Pencil tool set at 1 pixel. [PROTIP: difficulty of this step may vary, depending on how unforgiving any OCD reflexes you might have are being today.]

The color squiggle in the corner is for our next step...




Adding those background triangles! On their own new layer, of course. Don't want all that work you did on Nugget messed with, right?

Oh, and Nugget looked weird with feathers, so off that white color went. He's actually plucked, so if the Afterworld was ever in color instead of ashy greyscale, this is what he'd look like. No foolin'.




Buckle yourself in, 'cause here comes about fifty versions of color swapping. "But that one looks too DARK! No, that one's too neon, it's drawing attention off of Nugget... Ew, not that green! That one's icky..."

Let's skip past the rest of this step, eh? It takes a while.




Oh yeah. Hahaha. Ahah. Heh.

Remember the print guidelines the place printing your postcards told you to follow? Would've been a good idea to make your original image THAT SIZE. Just a note to the folks out there like me who don't remember stuff like that. Makes things run a lot more smoothish in the eleventh hour.

Still, once that scrambling horror's done with:




Colors've been picked, for the most part. Let's add a brighter green to these three triangles, though, shall we? Last-minute fix. Makes 'em pop out from the rest of the dark triangles.

There we go. Lookin' good there, sweet thing! ROWF.

Submit images. Pay printer. Bake for 13 days (or local ship times). Serves 250.

And... dig in.

Monday, August 9, 2010


[EDIT - You know what? I'm going to leave this post, where I have no idea what I wrote for it, here as a cautionary tale for anybody who knows what Ambien is: be sure to take your sleeping pill for the night AFTER you write your blog post, NOT before. Friends don't let friends blog while technically asleep.]

Seeing as how the Nugget postcards are next on the docket this week, figured I'd offer some snapshots of the first couple stages where we go from point "A" (ie, empty paper and pencil; computer's on, but nobody's using it yet) to "B" (line cleanup and inking via Photoshop CS and a Wacom pad/stylus" and then to "C" and beyond, which we'll come to in another post, 'cuz we sure don't wanna explode ALL your heads with this primo Colombian-grade knowledge, here. Trust me, it's not pretty like it is in the movies. You ever done seen a man tryin' to claw the smarts back into what now passes for their brainpan, gooshing it all down in there like sloppy wrinkle soup? No? Well, count yourselves lucky. Now what was I talki-- ah, right, taking a design from paper to computer image.


Step A: The original pencil drawing, inked over with a 0.05 micron pen and scanned. A line of triangles had this done to them as well. Both were ported over to Photoshop CS, where the triangles (still without having the background of the original scan's paper erased away; that erasing gets done once posing the three scan parts around on the new document background: the chicken scan, the emote scan, and the line of triangle scan pictures, each given their own layers.

So once that cleanup/posing is done, here's STEP B:

I go over the lines with a Wacom pen stylus to make them look more thick and dynamic. Go Wacom pens. Woot. NOT YET. At this point I've just gotten rid of the flecks/blurs/mistake spots of the pencil/pen on the paper.

Afraid to say but the Ambien I took for tonight kicked in and is cutting me off here before I devolve into something with even more no language skills besides hooting and scent marking so I'll catch you all again until I wake up later today and figure out just what of this typemash I have to fix. Shouldn't happen often.

but yeah, thanks for coming, now you kids get off my lawn (for now)

Friday, August 6, 2010

bask in the awkward: more photos of somebody else's kid!

One more! Just one more, I promise. This was the third sketch Amnio showed up in, I think. I remember shoving my notes for history class over the page as I drew it. Sneaky, yessir. That was me. (Not sure why I was so convinced that ringworm only shows up on the legs, but in all fairness, I was drawing instead of paying attention in Biology.)


Ah, life without sedatives. I remember you.


Oh and hey! So the first batch of Nugget postcards are on their way through shipping. Should show up in a week or so, and then it's to the Etsy site with them! ...As well as letting you know which local distributors'll be carrying it then, once WE find out.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

He's got his daddy's... uh, lens sockets.

So remember the other day when I mentioned those first few drawings of Amnio from Ye Olden Times?

Yeah. I'm about to do that thing where I open my wallet and pluck out baby photos to shove at you and make annoying parent coo noises. LOOKIT THIS WIDDLE GUY-EEE. ISN'T HE THE CUTEST. LOOKIT THAT WIDDLE FACE.

...Actually, look at those little ribs. Didn't I ever feed this poor kid back then? Sheesh.


There you go-- first documented proof of our main fella, originally sandwiched between sketchbook pages of a gerbil in a storm being eaten by raindrops with teeth, and some vulture-head-looking thing spitting bullets that I remember thinking was totally deep and stuff 'cause I drew it after seeing Pink Floyd: the Wall for the first time. [shrug] Yeah, I dunno either.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

good grief.


Being that San Diego's been a mere week and some change ago, AND seeing how one of this year's con themes was how "Peanuts" had just hit the big 6-0, I figured today's update would be a good time to touch on just how much Snoopy and Charlie Brown ended up being inadvertent grandparents to the Grey Bouquet gang at large.

Now, this humble doodle wrangler honestly has no idea what Charles Schultz would've thought of Amnio and company, if he'd had a chance to see them. I doubt he'd have a bad word for them, as he seems the kind to never hand those around too much.

One thing I DO know is, my dad is in absolute hetero love with good ol' "Sparky," and has been before I was old enough to open my eyes at the Sunday funny pages. In fact, I daresay my father's admiration for Mr. Schultz has only ripened over the years, like a fine wine, if that fine wine also wore Schroeder and Lucy ties to work several times a week. "That Charles Schultz... I mean, wow. You just don't SEE that kind of genius around anymore, you know?" was not an uncommon phrase to pop up over the family dinner table at the slightest provocation.

Which, I should add, is a sentiment I'm behind one hundred per cent. Sure, I could've picked "hating on Peanuts" as an easy path for teenage rebellion-- much easier than, say, picking up the odd recreational drug habit, or voting Green Party-- but I couldn't ever bring myself to dislike the series, even now. All things blockheaded and fussbudgety have simply grown on me far too much.

It especially fascinated me to read Mr. Schultz's family members claim that he often acted as though he was actually seeing the Peanuts characters in his mind-- like he was writing down their lives for the rest of us to peek in on. Not to mention how he passed on right when he stopped doing the strip... If he really did have such an insight into a whole family of his brainchildren, how lonely would that be, having to say goodbye to them all? The idea dogged me so deeply that my first minicomic, The Strange Tale of Charlie Dickenson (a timid-lined, cobbled-together-in-three-days attempt to pass something around at Wizard World Chicago in 2001) was pretty much created whole-cloth from such a scenario.

(Interesting to note: a couple mermaid-sockpuppets showed up in the background of few of Charlie's "vision" panels in the story, both of whom were dead ringers for Riddlyn. Right down to the snazzy fez. Relatives of hers, maybe? Mermaid-sockpuppets ARE kinda hard to tell apart...)

When it comes down to it, it was having my dad call the notebook sketches of odd critters I'd do "not like Schultz's stuff at all" that got the ball rolling towards the Afterworld in the first place. If I remember right: "You'll never see any money drawing scary stuff like that. People want to see nice drawings, like Snoopy! Snoopy makes people SMILE. If you want to keep drawing, you should go into making greeting cards. Something cute. Fun, you know?"

...which kinda paints my dad in a curmudgeonly light, come to think of it, so I should stress: he really did have a point. Those first gasmask-fetus sketches of mine weren't done to make anyone happy-- hell, the fetus in question looked like he was downright miserable in half the drawings I put him in. But a couple months wandering around in my head later, I was trying to stitch together what a little gasmasked fetus kid MIGHT be like. He'd be like any other kid, right? Even if everything around him was as gloomy and toxic as he looked, he'd still want to run around and play. He'd still have fun. And before long, I had a whole cast of critters there to enjoy the ride along with him-- first on a handful of greeting cards, and THEN THE WORLD! well, you know the rest.

Since I started this shindig, I've been thrilled over and over again to see just how many folks agree that something can be creepy and heartwarming at the same time. And every time I sit behind a table with my Grey Bouquet stuff, I couldn't be more delighted-- because even though Amnio and the rest may not have such inviting surroundings as a bright red doghouse, a nickel-psychologist booth, or the old baseball mound, I can still show people what Happiness Is through those in the Afterworld, a little bit at a time.

And that's awesome. :D