Comics Process Notes

7 02 2010

There’s a new post up on my art blog about how I use index cards to lay out roughs for my new comic book project. Check it out!

Go to the Art Blog.


Still a Mystery to Me

7 02 2010

As some of you may know from previous posts or conversations, I am studying our neighbor planet, Mars. In particular, I am quickly becoming an expert at looking at HiRISE images of gullies. This is one image I found on Friday which has left me quite intrigued for a number of reasons.

The first is the dark dunes in the north. I know very little about dunes, but the boundary seems so abrupt! Also, the gullies in the south are small and uniform. Gullies are very rarely (in my experience) as uniform as these are, especially considering the differing directions along the wall. Also the dark streaks under the landscape!

Basically a beautiful image you should all take a look at in more detail. If you actually look at the image through the HiRISE website (which I encourage lots of exploring) this is how I view the images, as downloading them usually takes quite a lot of time.

JP2 Quicklook – IAS viewer
full image grayscale, map projected

You may have to download IAS viewer but it’s totally worth it to look at other HiRISE images if you want. You can also see the image just by clicking on the preview, but you don’t get the delicate detail of it all unless you can zoom in.

Dream Journal

30 01 2010

We sat on a bench in some Middle America city on a cold autumn day after the rain. If you mixed Boulder, Colarado with Boston, Massachusetts and threw in a dash of St. Louis for flavor, you would be there. The colors were heavily saturated. A dark grey stone cathedral loomed behind us, its bold decor strangely archaic in the modern city. The square of red brick stretched out in front, approaching a mountain range of glass and steel and concrete buildings. At the intersection of two streets, an arrow pointing straight at us, cars and people jostled for position, each individual oblivious to the other.

I lamented the fact that there were no more street cars, how once upon a time there had been one running through this very square. Its shiny rails followed the old roads, kink for kink. I think someone wrote a play about it once.

Maybe they would spend some of the $8 billion to renew local rail infrastructure.

A man standing in front of us said, “Do you believe in a higher power?”

He wore a brown trenchcoat and a matching wide brimmed hat. His sharp, close cropped white beard enhanced his imposing aura. There was a moment of silence. What do you do when that happens? I guess we were in the mood to humor the man, because someone piped up, “Sure!”

“In my own way,” said someone else.

Dreamlike banter almost passed between my friends and him. I stood from the bench to get away. At that moment, his weathered face cracked into a big grin and he laughed. He pointed over his shoulder to his friend, matching save for no beard and a thick neck. “We were just joking. Out on the town for a little fun.”

“That’s right,” said the other man, smiling broadly. They held note cards in their gloved hands and conversed briefly about who to harass next, and then I woke up.

Character Studies

28 01 2010

There are some nifty character studies up on my art blog, for a new comics project I’m writing with my brother, Jon.

Here’s a preview:
Paul inked.

(so I guess we won’t) Free Spirit! And Clouds on Mars.

27 01 2010

It appears that Spirit, one of the rovers on Mars, won’t be getting out of the sand for the rest of its life as a science station. NASA released a statement today on the permanence of Spirit’s condition.

“With just enough power for a few more moves, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are planning to send commands that will change the tilt of the rover to the north, where the sun stays during the winter at that location on Mars, and thus increase the power available to it.

If this move is successful, and the solar panels can generate enough power to power the electronics and some essential heaters, Spirit may continue its mission as a stationary science station for months or possibly years.”

This summer I tuned into NASA’s efforts to free Spirit, and now it is a little sad that the faithfully operating rover of six years is no longer able to continue roving. That said, six years is a long time for an originally planned mission of 90 days! Spirit, you did absolutely amazing work as a rover and I hope you continue to do amazing work as a stationary science lab.

And for those of you who haven’t been keeping up to date on exciting Mars news, back in 2008 Mars Phoenix Lander (another rover that spent its short life in the north polar region of Mars) was able to capture these ten shots made into a movie clip of clouds moving across the Martian sky.


27 01 2010

Here’s a fun recipe from The Spice Cookbook (Avanelle Day and Lillie Stuckey, 1964). I made pfeffernuesse last year and again this year, and both times it came out great! It’s supposed to be a holiday cookie, but I think any dayou make

“Pepper Nuts” or “Spice Nuts are English for this traditional German Christmas cooky.
3/4 cup strained honey
3/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1/4 cup shortening
1 large egg
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom seed
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground anise seed

Heat honey and molasses (do not boil) in a saucepan large enough for mixing the dough. Add shortening. Cool. Beat in egg.

Sift remaining ingredients together and gradually stir in honey mixture. Let dough stand 30 minutes to stiffen enough to handle.

Moisten hands and shape dough into 3/4 inch balls. Bake on lightly greased cooky sheets in a preheated moderate oven (350ºF.) 13 to 15 minutes. Frost with Pffernusse Frosting. if a soft cooky is desired, store airtight.

In lieu of ground nutmeg, we used 3/4 teaspoon cloves. It worked out alright. These are a savory cookie, and the black pepper adds a little burn. Our cookies were a little on the big side too, around 1 inch or larger. I recommend trying to make them smaller.

This recipe I found online at The Spice House (after a very quick google search) recommends making them, “small balls the size of nuts.” Our recipe made 8 dozen, but the book says it should make 11 dozen. Maybe if we rolled them smaller…

pfeffernuesse Frosting
1 large egg white
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a 1-quart mixing bowl. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar with an electric or rotary beater. Place 12 to 14 pfeffernuesse and 2 tablespoons frosting, at a time, in a mixing bowl. Stir with a fork until all pfeffernuesses are lightly covered. Repeat using all cookies and frosting.

Lift out with a fork onto a wire cooling rack. Have a pan, wax paper, or foil underneath to catch frosting that drips through the wires. Let stand until frosting has hardened.

The frosting recipe says it makes enough for 9 dozen pfeffernuesse, which doesn’t match up with how many the cookie recipe says it can make. For 8 dozen cookies, we barely had enough frosting. Also, don’t forget for the frosting, the confectioners’ sugar has a thickening agent in it — usually corn starch or something like it — you can’t just use powdered sugar.

Speaking of powdered sugar, some recipes say to just roll them in powdered sugar. No, says I. I don’t like powdered sugar as a coating for cookies because it comes off on everything, and dries out your mouth. It feels chalky. When given the option, I prefer special glazes and frostings. Especially the pfeffernuesse frosting. I mean, it has its own recipe in a cookbook! How special is that? They’re basically saying, “You don’t get the full pfeffernuesse experience without the proper frosting.”

These are one of the cookies that apparently ages well. I love these! The spices mature over time, so they say. Says the author of the Spice House recipe:

The flavor gets better with age. Tradition has us making these the day after Thanksgiving so they are ready for Christmas. We store them in a pillow case and hide them, so they will last until the Christmas Season.

If you make them, tell me how they came out!

Art Blogging

26 01 2010

In Lindsay’s recent post, she mentioned that, from what she gathered, I was in Portland, Oregon hard at work on comics. This is true. I’m also volunteering at some pretty nifty internships, playing the stand-up bass in a band, and getting addicted to vinyl. (There are worse vices, I think).

I will soon begin posting more updates on my comics work over at my personal blog. When I post there, I’ll mirror the post here for those interested, and the post also gets automagically mirrored on my Livejournal. So there are many ways to follow, if you so desire. (I’ve yet to start automatic tweet generation when posts go up…but perhaps).


Back to work!