I, Zombie part 2

Hmm... So, after posting the first half yesterday I found out that last summer Vertigo (DC) put out a book called I, Zombie. I guess it's not that interesting of a title, either. *sigh* Oh well. In any case because I'm not quite sure what to write about today of the high demand for closure to the compelling story, here's the rest of my 24 hour comic for all you readers waiting with bated breath. I love serials!

I haven't done a 24 hour comic since this, but it was a great time. My drawing hand was quite cramped by the end, and I faintly remember having a tough time writing dialogue (last step in the process) by the time I got there. A lot of the quips I'd thought of early on in the process were completely lost by the end, and had been sapped of a lot of their gusto when my poor, tired brain tried to arrange words in any way clever. Must've been all of those marker fumes.

I like some of the layouts (i.e. the demise of the main character's wife leading up to the BLAM! on page 15) and felt like I was doing a pretty good job telling a story when a visitor to the event read what I'd drawn up to at one point (page 9) asked me, "where's he going!?" in a way that seemed genuinely interested.

The entirely black page in the middle was not only a good way to get an extra page done, but a nod to Frank Miller's story telling trick to showing the reader a passage of time, or a character slowly coming back to consciousness.

The twist of the story (if you can call it that) is that the zombie character isn't really trying to save humanity at all, and that despite being a re-animated corpse, he's still driven by base human (in this case sexual) desires and due to the breakdown of society in a post-apocalyptic world, he's acting it out in a more caveman kind of way (knocking the girl unconscious and dragging her to his "cave"). The readers are supposed to put this together because of those images of the mercenary girl strapped to the table, close up of her biting her lip, et cetera. Also, when the other surviving member of the apocalypse, Chet, barges in on the two of them at the lab, the zombie was supposed to say, "it's not what it looks like!" as though he'd been caught having an actual romantic affair, not as though he was a zombie about to eat a human. Stupid marker fumes.

Anyway, the resolution to the story (if you can call it that) is that the scientist winds up trapped in his own mind... trapping the truth behind his own intentions moreso than the solution to saving humanity, as he persists. Too heavy? Yeah, a little. But this is what happens when you let geeks read philosophy!

Special thanks to Vincent Price, and whoever wrote The Last Man On Earth, which was the initial inspiration for the comic, not The Omega Man, I Am Legend or, of course, Fangoria's I, Zombie.

-Kung Fu Mike


24 Hour Comic / "I, Zombie"

Ever heard of the 24 Hour Comic Challenge? Click the title of this post (as per usual) for more info about that. Below will be the first half of my one time attempt at completing the challenge! It's titled I, Zombie (and yes, I realize that there had already been a movie called I, Zombie, released by Fangoria (I believe?) prior to my attempt (and the blockbuster I am Legend) but keep in mind the entire thing was penciled, inked (in magic marker no less - my brush pens died after the second page) and laid out in one 24 hour period. No breaks, just coffee and will power... and free pizza thanks to the hosts, That's Entertainment on Park Ave., Worcester. It was a fun event, a great challenge, and even though I succeeded in finishing, friends and family members told me I resembled the main character a little too much by the end. I'll post the last half next time if anyone's interested!

dun-dun-daaaaaaahhhhhhhh... To be continued... ?

-Kung Fu Mike


Unused Artwork!

Not everything works out like you hope it will. Such is the case for these few pieces. Here are a few examples of sketches (occasionally finished art) that were intended for a project or two that, for some reason or another, fell through. Fortunately, there shouldn't going to be too many posts dedicated to this sort of work. First off, below is a painting I did in the hopes of landing a children's book deal:

Then a mural, featuring Latin pop-stars. I added the sketch to a photo of the actual wall in Photoshop so we could see how it would fit. Unfortunately, the client seemed more excited by my ability to do that than the sketch itself.

Come on! Look at Santana! He's rocking out!

Here are two from a proposed science book that apparently fell through on the funding end:

Must I go on? Probably not. But I'm going to, anyway. Here are just a few more sketches, and in some cases pre-sketches - now that's planning - that never became full blown pieces.

I guess that's it for now. I'm sure all of these incomplete projects were launched, both by the clients and myself, with honest intentions, but nevertheless wound up in a stack in my closet in this post. I admit to being pretty frustrated at the time when the projects were unceremoniously dropped, but regardless, and only in retrospect, I can appreciate the experience gained with each one, at least for providing the motivation to get to work on new comps and techniques I wouldn't have otherwise.

Then again, get me to start a project without a down-payment or a kill-fee at this point and I'll send this guy after ya:


-Kung Fu Mike


Kung Fu Action Comic

Here's a pretty old comic I did at Pratt. I was way more into layouts, pacing and story telling than I was finished artwork. Well, of course I would've loved it if the finished artwork was nice too, but I really didn't have my head together at the time and my productivity was limited by nothing but doubts about my drawing ability. My Sequential Art professor, Floyd Hughes, seemed impressed when I told him I drew this in "one night," to make the latest issue of the Pratt Institute submission based comic book, Static Fish. I then followed up telling him it was one long, 28 hour night. He laughed, somehow he seemed to have a preexisting understanding (which others find difficult) that a young illustrator's measurement of time has less to do with marked hours and minutes, and more to do with how long they've gone without sleep.

The story for this comic came directly from my teacher, Grandmaster George Crayton Jr., Zong Shi, and is my best interpretation of his telling. Sorry I wasn't able to get the likenesses better! Click the title for a link to my school's website - Looang Foo Pai.

At the time, these were probably the best layouts I was able to muster. Clarity in story-telling was at the top of my priorities and the art looks more like roughs than finals! A highlight for me was the bottom half of page 4, where the action is linked by camera angles through the slats of train tracks as the main characters run across them. I still think the composition has a good flow. Lettering was by Eric Chun, who already had his homework done.

-Kung Fu Mike

Fran Danger! Personalized Comic Book

Here's a project I was actually a bit skeptical of at first, but wound up being a great experience with one of my favorite clients so far. Skeptical only because some clients wouldn't have been so aware of (or sensitive to) how time consuming a project like this could turn out to be. Ann contacted me about doing a full color comic book to give to her husband for his 50th birthday, celebrated last summer. Fran, a neatnik by nature, had been teased most of his life by his family for his borderline OCD behavior, to the extent that they'd created a super hero alter-ego for him, Fran Danger, who he transformed into whenever he did anything even slightly unorthodox. I think there's even a theme song. Best part about the book, it's all true, I saw the house firsthand. Only one word can describe the housekeeping and yard maintenance... pristine. The man even organizes his light bulbs in a single closet according to size, wattage and color. Light bulb organizing! I seen't it! For someone who doesn't keep his DVDs in their respective cases, this development gave me chills. Anyway, here are some pages:

Below is the cover before I added color to it. I water colored it, which is always this weird decision I somehow arrive at when working with a tight deadline. Water colors, quick drying and fast to apply, is also totally unforgiving. Once the color's down, it's there for good. It used to get me into trouble in school projects too, because once I started messing up a painting, there was no turning back, I'd ultimately give up and start the whole thing over from scratch. It's a slippery slope I seem to find impossible to break away from, despite being the cause of so many avoidable all-nighters. There's a definite flaw in my reasoning there, somewhere.

For sake of comparison, below is one of many reference photos of the real live Fran Danger! needed for the project. I tried to keep the likeness of the comic character as close to reality as possible throughout the illustrations.

For the record, Ann (Danger!) was awesome to work with, I hope her family was as happy with the final results as I was! You can order your own copy for about $7 (+ shipping) on lulu.com by clicking the title of this post. I don't think Fran would mind.

-Kung Fu Mike