More Adventurous

Well, here is it, the cover to “Uptown Girl-Little Adventures”.

I will let you bask in it’s beauty.

Amazing, right?  I can’t stop looking at it.  This was expertly done by my friend Ben Mudek.  I’ve known Ben for about 8 years and he’s done a few covers for the monthly comic series and a few of the trades.  Of course he did the cover to “Big City Secrets” as well.  Incredible work.

This cover is a homage to the “Choose Your Own Adventure” Books that I loved as a kid.  What?  You guessed that?  Oh.

Anyway, what makes this cover so amazing is looking back the original drawing I sent Ben and seeing how much awesomer he made it.  I sketched out the cover a few months ago and here it is:

I thought I nailed it pretty good.  I love this cover a lot because as exciting as the cover it is, the book contains stories about a bathing suit and recycling.  Far from the more adventurous scene on the front.  Anyway, here’s the final version I sent to Ben:

And to give him an idea as to what I was thinking, I sent this as well:

Ben wisely ignored my suggestions and created the amazing cover that you see up there.

And here’s the back cover:

Whoa.  This is obviously a parody of the old Hostess ads that used to be in comic books.  Brian Bastian wrote this little story and it turned out great.  I told him to do whatever he wanted and he did a solid job.  Ben did a knockout job coloring it and capturing the appearance of an old comic page.  Terrific.

Like anything Brian and I work on, I printed the script and kinda panel-ed it out to see how it would look.  Usually I draw these breakdowns on the script page itself, along with a rough sketch of any new characters that are there.

Sometimes the script gets tweaked a bit as you can see in the last line compared to what is in the final panel.  Sometimes a change happens because I wasn’t paying attention to a small detail in the script.  I think that was the reason for the change in this comic.  I had the villain hauled away on a stretcher instead of in handcuffs which kinda changed the flow of it.

I love the Pizza Pirate.  He might be added to the Walrus’ rogue gallery if the Walrus ever returns…but I don’t think that will be for a while.

After I sketched this out, I drew the final version.

And finally, the whole cover:

Amazing work as always Ben.
Now, let’s get to work on next year’s book…

Beginning of a Great Adventure

‘Big City Secrets’ was about action.

‘Perfect World’ is about humor.

The next book will be adventure.  I love adventure stories, such as ‘Bone’ and ‘Usagi Yojimbo’ and ‘Far Arden’ but I’ve never really done an adventure story.  The closest I came was the 50th issue of the comic series and the Uptown Girl annual that was a parody of ‘The Wizard of Oz’.  I didn’t do many adventure stories because I need room to tell the story.  An original graphic novel is the perfect way to do that.

But now I am just getting started on this adventure.  I’ve been working on it for a while, jotting down notes, sketching, working out the plot, but I’ve recently starting actually drawing the darn thing.  I am not far at all, only five and a half pages in, but I’ve been having fun.  I’ve done a pretty long outline, and Brian Bastian is writing a second draft of it.

The book will feature a villain from the comic series, similar to how Mr. Roboto was reinvented in ‘Big City Secrets’.  I thought I’d post a few sketches from the last few weeks and talk a bit about them.

First up is Spencer the Rover.  Spencer will be a key character in the book, but Uptown Girl will never meet him.

The next drawing is Uptown Girl in her roller girl outfit.  I don’t want to talk too much about it, but this will be a minor plot int he book.  This storyline was suggested by Brian.

Don’t worry, I will learn how to draw roller skates before I get to that part of the book.

And finally a drawing of the major villain in the book.  I wanted this drawing to look creepy as that’s the direction I’m aiming for.

New Thing Now

I always want the next thing.  Not the next gadget, but the next…thing.  Bob Dylan puts out a new CD and I wonder when the next one is coming out.  The new Kevin Cannon book is great but tell me about the one that is coming out next.  I think we’re all like that, to an extent.

Last week was the release of ‘Big City Secrets’ and a lot of people asked about when the next one was coming out.  Some people were very nice and enthusiastic, but some people were…well, less than patient with comments like “I hope the next one doesn’t take two years like this one did”.  Well, I hope it doesn’t either, but looking at the new book I think it was worth the extra time it took.

I told people that the next book was over half done, and I was even plotting the third one with Brian Bastian and had done about dozen pages of notes and character designs.  the next book is on schedule to be out in spring 2012 and that it was coming along nicely.  ‘BCS’ was started in April of 2009 and between rewrites, side projects and redrawing quite a bit of it made the drawing of the book seem like forever.  The book was finished in August 2010 and then I scanned and lettered the whole thing.  The computer work was a new thing for me, teaching myself some tricks and learning PhotoShop was a new world.  I touched up the art, lettered it and started over at least once.  Another set back was my hard drive dying on me and waiting a month while the book was recovered.  Thank God it was.  The computer stuff was done earlier this year and all that was left was the cover and touching up some art.  The book was at the printer in April and out on time.

This time I am doing the computer work at the same time as the artwork.  I am not waiting until the whole book is drawn before I get to the scanning.  With this book, once a story is finished, I scan it in and Photoshop it right away.  The new book is also different in structure.  ‘Big City Secrets’ was one big story.  The next book is a collection of short stories.  Some as short as one page, some much longer.  The story I am working on now is about 40 pages and will likely finish around 60.  These stories are comics that were done for anthologies or other books.  Most of the stuff in the book is stuff that hasn’t appeared anywhere yet.  Some stories were written by Brian, but most by me.

Anyway, I started this blog right around the time ‘Big City Secrets’ was wrapping up (the drawing part) and now ‘Big City Secrets’ is done.  It’s finished, it was printed and then sold out.  The second printing will be out this week.  I’ve never had a second printing so for that, thank you.  But I guess it’s time to start talking more about the next book.

The title of the next book is “Perfect World”.  The title took a long time to decide on, but it’s a representation of what I’ve been feeling lately as well as highly ironic.  The length will be around 270 pages, the same size of ‘Big City Secrets’.  About 130 pages are written, drawn, scanned and Photoshopped.  I have about 50 pages (from two different stories) that will be scanned once each story is done.

Here’s the table of contents so far:

This image is a comparison of the original artwork from ‘Big City Secrets’ and ‘Perfect World’.

The pile on the right is two different sizes because about 50 pages into the book I decided to draw on a smaller scale so I could be a little more efficient.

So, I guess this is the book you’ll be hearing about off and on for the next 11 months or so.  I hope you like it.  I like it, but to be honest I’m really looking forward to the one after this.


Close the Book

Finally.  It’s done.  It’s printed.  The world can move on.  Or at least I can.
Uptown Girl-Big City Secrets is printed and sitting in a box in my garage.  This book has been in the works for a long time now, it’s story started to come together in 2005 while the animated series was being developed.  The cartoon didn’t really go anywhere, but this story survived.

Over the past few months, I’ve written about the creation of the book, mostly in terms of the artwork.  I thought it’d be fun to show what happens once the art is done and I have to cram hundreds of pieces of paper into a paperback book.

This picture is the completed book, all 270-ish pages.

I scanned in the entire book to Photoshop to letter it and touch up and clean up the artwork.  Once that step was done (it took several months), I printed out a copy so I could look it over.  I printed it close to the size the book would actually be printed.

And just because I like to do things like this, here’s a comparison of the original art and the stack of printed pages.

Once I had the printed copy, I went through it page by page making sure the pages were in the right order.

I also went and touched up the artwork.  Sometimes I would see a part where I should have filled it in with ink, or a line that didn’t connect, or something didn’t scan properly.  This was the most time consuming part.

Once I was happy with the artwork, I sent it to the printed.  A few days later, the proof arrived.  The proof is what the book will look like when it’s printed.  It gives me one last chance to make sure the book is ready.

The proof isn’t bound, so I have to make sure the pages don’t get shuffled since I need to go through it to make sure it’s in the right order.

It’s a little weird to compare the printed book to the original artwork, but here it is.

The cover proof is the most exciting part to see.

Once I am sure it’s ready to go, I approve the proof and play the waiting game.

I picked up the book last Friday, and here it is!

I am really impressed with how this thing turned out.  The cover looks great thanks to Ben, Brian wrote a great story and I had a lot of fun drawing.  BookMobile did a fantastic job printing it.

One of the goals of the book was to make it look as different as possible from the previous Uptown Girl collections, which is why the spine is black instead white, and the cover is a full image, as opposed to a simple drawing against a bright white background.

The book is also smaller than the previous books, both in page count as well as the actual size as well.

Uptown Girl – Big City Secrets will be on sale this Saturday (May 21st) at SpringCon.  I hope to see you there.

Now, onto the next book….

Running to Stand Still

If you like books, there’s probably a slim chance you’ll be able to successfully avoid me this weekend.

There’s two big events in the Twin Cities this weekend that I will be a part of.   First up is the Twin Cities Book Festival.

I’ll be there signing copies of “Cifiscape”, a collection of short stories by Minnesotan writers about what the Twin Cities will be like in the future.  I have a short Uptown Girl story in it called “Ill Communication”.

The book is published by Onyx Neon who will have a table at the book fair.  I THINK I’ll be there from 10am until 11am.  Come see me and find out.

After that, I will be heading over to FallCon, the second biggest comic convention in Minnesota.

More information here:

I won’t be at FallCon until around 2:30, but Brian Bastian will be there selling copies of ‘Uptown Girl’ and his new ‘Tommy Chicago’ trade paperback all day long.

Anyway,  a lot of running around but it’ll be a fun day.

Everyday I Write the Book

In April 2009 I started the very first ‘Uptown Girl’ original graphic novel.  After 6 years and 75 monthly issues I turned my attention to creating stand alone graphic novels.  Brian Bastian wrote this one and scripted it out for 140 pages.

After I got started on it, I let it run wild.  Action scenes doubled in page counts, stuff was added in, rewritten and mixed around.  It nearly killed me.  Not only because of the work, but because Brian wanted to strangle me every time I wanted to add a scene or when something came up that we thought should be rewritten.

So, after almost 16 months, the book is almost complete.  The book mutated in size from 140 pages to over 260.  I am drawing the final page of it tomorrow and I am looking forward to wrapping it up…and getting started on the next one.

The book will be called “Uptown Girl-Big City Secrets”.

What you see below is the original sketch for what will be the final page.

The Future Freaks Me Out

Ok, that other cool that was supposed to be out in August has fallen into the vague “Fall 2010” target. 

I have a short Uptown Girl story titled “Ill Communication” in the upcoming book called Cifiscape vol. 1, The Twin Cities.  It’s a short story anthology about the Twin Cities in the future written and sometimes drawn by people from Minneapolis and Saint Paul.  Those talented people include: 

Ken Avidor, Brian Garrity, Toianna Gump, Max Hrabal, Ken Lubold & Aaron Wilson

The book is published by Onyx Neon.  More info at

Here’s the cover: