Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Back In the Comic Biz!

The negotiations to begin the production of the new issue of the Omaha series are close to completion, and Kate is working now on the outlines for the 92 pages of NEW material we will be doing to complete the story arc. Kate says she will have this outline to me and Denis by next week. WOW! Now I REALLY have to get the lead out, vacuum the studio, buy a ton of new bristol board, clean off the hard drive, and get ready to go back to work after eight years of sitting on my butt.

I want to thank all the fans who have ordered commissioned drawings from me, without which practice I don't think I'd be able to face this prospect realistically. Now that everything "Omaha" is going to crash priority, expect fast turnaround on the sketches, and lots of news as it breaks, here and on the Yahoo group.

What I have done in the last four months, is (a) develop computer character models for the Omaha characters (only Omaha and Chuck are currently at working versions), (b) get back into drawing and brush rendering practice, (c) re-read the series for content and style .. you know, I almost forgot how good Kate was ...

I'm excited all over again at the possibility that this book may finally find its audience now that popular taste has caught up with what Kate and I were doing twenty years ago. That's what I'm hoping for, anyway. No matter what, it's going to feel really great to be doing Omaha pages again, and have new deadlines to be terrified by.

Omaha and CGI

Back in 1980 when the first news of Apple Computer was starting to break, I was envisioning a situation where I could interactively create and manipulate standing sets and characters for a computer-assisted comic book series. This was when I was halfway through the process of drawing the first Omaha comic.

I was able to realize some of this by 1986 when Kate and I finally broke down and bought a PC, and I did some of the set design and virtual background photography on the PC in a primitive "My House" sort of interior design program. The state of desktop software was not to the point where it was practical to try to design and pose characters, but it helped to be able to rotate and print wireframe models of the apartment and the Tabey mansion.

Fast forwards to 1995 .. Omaha is over, but at the same time, I had had a year of computer graphics training at the technical school, had acquired a Mac, and had been introduced to a new piece of software called Poser. At that point it was a simple fast program for posing virtual artists manikins. This program helped me produce a computer colored and partly rendered book, Tumbling Boxes, in 1996.

In the intervening years I've done virtually no drawing but a lot of CGI work, including third party modelmaking, and now I hope that these contemporary skills will help me realize my original intention of using the computer to help maintain a coherent universe for the comic characters, without any visible signs of "computer" stuff being done. We'll see.