Thursday, October 9, 2014

OLYMPIANS available as an e-book!

All 6 volumes of OLYMPIANS are available as e-books now. I made a comic about it.

Ares has dropped over $50 on extensions this week alone.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

NEW YORK COMIC CON: Here's my schedule

Ah, New York Comic Con, that wonderful time of year when a young person's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of cosplay, crushing crowds and who would win in a fight, Superman or Goku. I'll be attending (though not tabling) and below is a schedule of my public events.

Friday – October 10th

Create Your Own Monster – with Andrew Arnold, George O’Connor, and Ben Hatke
Time: 10:30am – 11:30am
Location: Family HQ – 1C03
Description: Three authors enter...and with your help, they’ll each create a monster who embodies everything that you think monsters should be! Which will be best? It’s up to you!
Moderator: Jack Baur ( so prepare your 24 jokes in advance)

with Andrew Arnold, George O’Connor
Time: 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Location: The FirstSecond Booth-- 2237

Saturday - October 11th

Recovering from crowds, sitting at home, rocking back and forth
Time: anytime after 11 AM, when George finally wakes up
Location: His apartment
Description: George O'Connor does what the title suggests; there may also be some light weeping.
Moderator: Birdy the cat will stare silently at him from the corner, waiting to be fed.

Sunday – October 12th

Build Your Own Adventure- with Zack Giallongo, Ben Hatke, Matt London, Frank Cammuso, Scott Campbell and George O’Connor
Time: 3:15 – 4:00pm
Location: 1A01
Description: In this interactive panel perfect for kids and families, top-tier graphic novel and comic
authors and illustrators will work with the audience to write and illustrate an original adventure story! It will be an exciting ride, great for aspiring writers and artists. Featuring George O’Connor (Olympians), Matt London (The 8th Continent), Zack Giallongo (The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth), Frank Cammuso (The Misadventures of Salem Hyde), Scott Campbell (Hug Machine), Ben Hatke (Julia's House for Lost Creatures).
Moderator: George O'Connor, so expect chaos.

Post-Panel Signing 
with Zack Giallongo, Ben Hatke, and George O’Connor
Time: 4:15 – 5:00pm
Location: Autographing Area, Table 19

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Olympians Boxed Set-- Countdown! Megapost Number 7- IT'S OUT TODAY!!!

On October 7th, -- why that's today! --the new boxed set of the first 6 Olympians books has officially  been released! That's all six volumes of Olympians, and a poster, all in one handy-dandy box! For the past six days I've posted a behind-the-scenes look at the making of each of the six Olympians books, and today I'll share a little about the making of the poster, the slipcase, and even some future peeks at what's coming down the pike for Olympians.
What are you sitting there for? Go out and get yours!

Whew, it's been a long strange trip doing these books-- I won't lie, it gives me an immense swell of satisfaction to see them all assembled together in a giant brick of Olympian-y goodness on my shelf. I honestly don't recall exactly when the idea of creating a boxed set of Olympians first came up-- I know I was not pushing for it, and I have a vague recollection of thinking it wouldn't actually materialize (the world of publishing is rife with those sort of heartbreaks), but one day I had a meeting with editorial at the Daily Bugle (Flatiron) building and I was told the boxed set was a go, and they wanted to do a poster to go with it.

A poster for Olympians was something I wanted for a very long time. I had previously assembled some mock-ups that never got made, but before I get into that, I want to talk about the trickiness of drawing large group assemblies. Above is the earliest sketch I could find of a group shot of the Olympians, from a project I was working on before Olympians that eventually fed into, in many ways, Olympians.  Maybe I'll write a post about that early project one day...

Above is a sketch for the assembled Olympian family as seen on page 66 of Zeus: King of the Gods. This was from the revised dummy for Zeus (notice that its in pencil rather than the fancy ink of the rest of that dummy), but I always intended for it to double as an Olympians poster.

Here's the finished panel as it appeared in Zeus: King of the Gods. There are elements of the coloring I'm not wild about, and some of the characters are a little off-model (I hadn't fully worked out everyone yet-- I'm looking at you, Aphrodite), but all in all I really liked the composition. All of the future poster pieces are derived from this posing and iconography.

Wish this had been made...
This is a mock-up and tagline I put together for the series. First Second never committed to publishing this poster (in part because I mention twelve books, and who knew if the series would last that long), but it was used in a few places on-line and such. The poster that comes with the boxed set sports an alternate iteration of the tagline here, "Not your average family."

There's about 7 million of these cards out there. If you have one, it's worth, like, one plugged nickel.

You've seen this piece before-- just pan up, it's the header to this site. I created this piece, heavily based on the page from Zeus: King of the Gods, for a postcard that I distribute at personal appearances and for this website. The family is growing a bit here, with the addition of Persephone and Hebe, and even a tiny little piece of Heracles' shoulder.

Pretty much immediately after it was decided to make a poster for the boxed set, we knew it would be an expansion of the previous 'poster' pieces. Above is the rough sketch mock-up of the cover and the slipcase for the boxed set-- I would use the same piece for both, and designed it so that the composition worked as both a flat poster and a three-dimensional slipcase. If you look above, you can see my notations for where the cover and slipcase measured up to the original art.  The family has expanded by leaps and bounds, but it is easy to see the compositional elements of that first poster.

Finished pencils.

Finished inks.

And finished colors.

The back of the poster has a new, ultimate family tree that is so detailed that the cartographer we hired to make it reportedly quit. Above is my rough draft of all the new names I wanted added, for some poor person at First Second (the venerable Colleen Venable) to fashion into a working family tree.

And that's that! Today the boxed set comes out, commemorating the halfway point of the Olympians series! Thanks everyone for your support!

And now a few peeks at the future...

 The three pictures above are sketches for the Ares: Bringer of War cover (my original title-- Ares: God of War :)). The final cover was recently revealed on Mr Schu's blog HERE, but you can see what might have been above.

A rough sketch for a double-paged spread from Ares: Bringer of War.

And the final spread.

My favorite part of Ares is when the gods who supported the Trojans face off against the gods who supported the Greeks. I literally waited years to draw this. Ares: Bringer of War comes out in January.

I'm working on Apollo's book right now. I'm planning on calling it Apollo: The Brilliant God, let's see if that one goes through the process unchanged ;). Here's the cover sketch for that one.

And this is some of the dummy of the interior.

I'd be very curious if anyone can name them from their attributes.

This is the first finished piece of artwork for Apollo-- the pin up of the Muses, who narrate the book.

A glimpse at some potential future covers, mixed in with a few older ones.

Finally, this is a screen shot of part of the spreadsheet I made way back in the day while I crafted the blueprint for the entirety of the Olympians series. It's worth a closer look-- you can see what made it in, what didn't, original subtitles, even the original intended order of the publishing. Some of what is coming has been redacted to protect the surprise.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Olympians Boxed Set-- Countdown! Megapost Number 6- APHRODITE: GODDESS OF LOVE

On October 7th, TOMORROW! -the new boxed set of the first 6 Olympians books is officially released! That's six volumes, and a poster, so for each day leading up to the 7th I'll release a post detailing sketches, anecdotes, alternate drawings-- whatever I can find, really, for one of the books in the series. Today, I'll be covering the sixth book in the series,  Aphrodite: Goddess of Love.
Almost there!
My first proposed title for Aphrodite's book was Aphrodite: The Power of Love, until me editor Neal Porter wisely pointed out that it put him in the mind of that old Huey Lewis and the News song, of course ruining that title for all time for me. Thank goodness he did, but for those of you keeping score at home, that's four title my publisher, and two titles me.

Here's my original sketch for the cover to Aphrodite: Goddess of Love. Note how much older Eros is here than how he appears in the final book. At this stage I was intending to include an abbreviated version of the story of Eros and Psyche, and so Eros needed to function as a romantic lead. I had to jettison that idea as it simply didn't fit, either space-wise or thematically. Maybe someday...
Fun fact: Comic artist Simon Fraser now owns this original

Above is the completed inks for the first cover of Aphrodite. Eros has swung to the opposite end of the age spectrum-- now he's practically and infant. But in First Second headquarters, this cover caused a bit of a stir-- some people in editorial thought that Aphrodite was too sexy and looked like a bimbo, and others, like me, thought her depiction was entirely appropriate. I wrote a long piece for the First Second Blog that you can read HERE which goes into this whole process in greater detail.

After a lot of back and forth, I altered the cover to match the more 'formidable, dread goddess' aspect that some elements of editorial envisioned her as. As is often the case, this cover was drawn well in advance of the rest of the book so that the cover could be included on the back of Poseidon: Earth Shaker, so they had actually not yet read my take on Aphrodite. Aphrodite might be a dread goddess, with the power to uproot your world, but she would never look the part-- she would smile and beam and you would love her with all your heart as she destroyed you. 

This is the new 'final' version that appears on the back of early printings of Poseidon. Interestingly, looking at it now, her altered pose is more reminiscent of the original sketch than my original inked drawing. But I was not happy with this version. She was too angry...

Finally, after completing the book, I redrew the cover to reflect my understanding of Aphrodite upon the completion of Aphrodite: Goddess of Love. Eros is now at an age somewhere in between the two previous depictions, Hermes, Hephaistos, and Ares  have been replaced by the Charites, and Aphrodite herself in the more friendly presence in the finished book.

Above is a page of roughs from the dummy for Aphrodite: Goddess of Love. Compare and contrast this to the dummy for Zeus: King of the Gods.

That ghostly Hera looks annoyed/

Very early Aphrodite design sketche. I always knew I wanted to give her an Eastern, Indian feel, and that influence was more pronounced here.

I was practicing writing my name, apparently.

Another very early Aphrodite sketch.

A super early visualization on the Judgement of Paris sequence of Aphrodite: Goddess of Love.  I've always had a problem with that myth, depicting as it does the three most powerful goddesses in a very unflattering and sexist manner. I spent a lot of time thinking of how to portray that story in a way that paid service to the strong character of the goddesses.

A very early and risque (apologies) sketch of Aphrodite emerging from the sea at Cypress. 

Early sketch of my favorite character in Aphrodite: Goddess of Love, Eris.

This was a piece I drew for my studio's sketchblog at about the time I was working on Hera: The Goddess and her Glory. The day's topic was 'apple', so I drew the moment that all three goddesses reached simultaneously for the Apple of Discord. I ended up using almost this exact composition for a panel in Aphrodite: Goddess of Love.

I drew this piece, Chocolate Aphrodite, for a charity auction. It sold for $75. I bet you thought I was going to say 7 billion, didn't you?

That's it for the goddess of love. Check back tomorrow, FOR THE RELEASE OF THE OLYMPIANS BOXED SET, a look at the making of the poster, and some sneak peeks at future books.

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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Olympians Boxed Set-- Countdown! Megapost Number 5- POSEIDON: EARTH SHAKER

On October 7th, the new boxed set of the first 6 Olympians books is officially released.
That's six volumes, and a poster, so for each day leading up to the 7th I'll release a post detailing sketches, anecdotes, alternate drawings-- whatever I can find, really, for one of the books in the series. Today, I'll be covering the fifth book in the series,  Poseidon: Earth Shaker.
Look! A box set!
Today's installment is about the moody god of the sea, Poseidon.  For a long time, Poseidon: Earth Shaker held the record for being the most difficult volume of Olympians to create. It's since been surpassed by the upcoming Ares: Bringer of War in terms of difficulty to draw, and the upcoming Apollo: The Brilliant God in terms of writing, but for an all-around tough experience Poseidon rules supreme. The book was rewritten by me three times before I even showed it to the folks at First Second.

Poseidon is a tricky god; he appears in numerous myths, but almost never as the main character. His temperament is all over the place, so I decided to write Poseidon: Earth Shaker from the point of view (and in the voice) of Poseidon himself.

Incidentally, check it out-- these early sketches have the subtitle Earth-Shaker on them already. If you've been following along, you've seen how my proposed subtitle tends to get changed by editorial. Poseidon is the second (with Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess being the first) of my books to not have a subtitle swap. You can also see I arrived at the more-or-less final cover design rather quickly.
sad Minotaur is sad.

This is interesting-- I didn't even recall this. Above is the original black and white art I produced for the cover of Poseidon: Earth Shaker. However,  upon a closer look I see it's a completely different drawing than the final cover. Some elements, like Polyphemos and the ruptured ground, are very similar, but the Minotaur is completely different, and the figure of Poseidon is kinda awkward.
scary Minotaur is scary.

Here's the final, actual cover, with Poseidon's anatomy fixed, and the Minotaur looking suitably intimidating.

You know it's Poseidon 'cause it says so.
Sketchbook doodle of Poseidon made while I was assembling ideas for this book.
A really gruesome early sketch of Polyphemos, and Odysseus lashed to his mast as he listens to the Sirens, a scene in early drafts of Poseidon that got cut.

 Couple of shots of the Minotaur, my favorite monster from childhood. The hardest cuts I had to make in this book were of the battle between Theseus and the Minotaur. I originally had an enormous battle choreographed which I distilled down to a few key scenes.

My behind-the-scenes materials for Poseidon are rather slim, so I'm sharing some ancillary material here. Above is a comic I drew for Shelf Awareness's Book Brahmin blog in promotion for Poseidon. Check out the rest of the comics I drew for them HERE.
Nobody draws a beautiful man better than Becky Cloonan.
Above is a drawing made by the uber-talented Becky Cloonan while she borrowed my desk one day at the studio. I was working on Poseidon at the time so she drew her own version of my design. It's pretty sweet, you'll agree.

I named my son after the guy who cut off my ex-girlfriend's head!
A Poseidon pin-up I drew for a certain enormously famous writer of young adult mythology books.
What are we up to now? If you have an original it's worth 7 billion dollars?
Color artwork for postcard and poster for Poseidon: Earth-Shaker release party. 

photo credit Steve Bunche.
A photo of me performing the true story of why Poseidon hates me, the text version of which will be a future post one day.

If you watch the videos, please not how weird my hair looks that day.
A screen capture of one of the video interviews I did with MTV Geek! in promotion of Poseidon. Check out the interviews HERE.
Finally, a quick doodle I did recently of my favorite new dinosaur, the sauroposeidon, or as it translates, "The Earthquake God Lizard." If I ever create a band, it will be called Earthquake God Lizard. Heck, if I ever have a kid, they'll be named Earthquake God Lizard. 

That's it for Poseidon: Earth Shaker. Join us tomorrow for a look at Aphrodite: Goddess of Love.

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