Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Mingling of Art

Another sketchbook comic with a splash of color. Sometimes I take my pen on a mostly harmless romp through the past just to look through a glass darkly. In this one, I collected a bucket of memories of eye-opening micro-events that forced me to reevaluate how I navigate social events held in the "New Bay Area". With a heavy lens turned toward on the negative, these pages were a workout wrought with dark reflections and musings.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Sketchbook Comic

Everything Is Intercourse Sketchbook Comic
Recently, I experimented with taking a long pose (15 minutes) from a life drawing session and integrating it into a visual narrative. I greatly enjoy any practice with live models, but sometimes a new and challenging approach is needed to make the sketchbook time more valuable to my learning.

Many years ago when I was an undergrad studying graphic design, a classmate shared with me one of her thesis ideas. She wanted to explore abundance of mundane, physical actions that may be in some way made analogous to sexual intercourse. I decided to revisit her idea using a series of symbolic visuals and a simple, monochromatic color scheme in reference to her red hair, and red as an occasional symbol of sensuality and eroticism.

This turned out to be a good exercise in exploring a visual narrative and a more detail and texture-driven style of inking. The panels take anywhere from 10-30 minutes to sketch and ink and I tried doing one a day during my downtime. This also turned out to be a good practice with using the 2-page spread for a complete study.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

How the Airbrush Changed How I See

© Copyright Eugene R. Young. Acrylic on illustration board.
I remember when airbrush art was my holy grail of realism in illustration. In the late 80s and early 90s, I discovered books and magazines on airbrushing. Artists like Olivia De Berardinis, Luis Royo and Hajime Sorayama used airbrushes and I wanted so much to paint like them. The airbrush itself at the time was a mildly expensive option. I first settled for a Badger spray gun that claimed to be able to spray down around a 1/4 inch. Figuring out the right paint to thinner ratio for my enamel paint model kit projects was tough enough. The cans of compressed were just barely enough to let me do a pretty good job of painting camo on a few larger kits. It wasn't until I bought my first dual action Passche VLS and low-wattage tankless compressor that things got really interesting. It was a beautifully engineered chrome unit with a bright red plastic handle. Part of the fun of working with it was the breakdown and clean-up process. You really got to know and respect your airbrush by taking it apart and maintaining it.

I worked in my parent's garage on paper and fabric. Sometimes I had the patience to carefully mask and plan out a painting, but that was rare. I admired the work of H.R. Giger along with anyone who could paint freehand with an airbrush and achieve near photo-realism. Eventually, not having a proper studio space and concerns about inhaling vapors got me to put it away. As I improved as a painter with acrylics and digital tools, the airbrush seemed less and less practical. That said, the experience of having used one still informs how I paint in Photoshop. It also led to an unexpected change in how I see things.

In order to paint with an airbrush, you have to see form as both structure and process. By structure, I mean values, edges, plane changes, hue, gradients and textures. "Process" refers to the step-by-step setup and execution of the painting. Airbrushing taught me to visualize how I might approach painting anything I saw as a series of steps that included masking, choosing the right paint, mixing the right color, possibly layering if working transparently, and drying times between layers. This way of seeing is always "on" when my eyes are open. I constantly scan and analyze things in order to remember how to paint them. I ask myself questions like "what color is that" or "is there a hint of color in the white surface".

A recent project as a freelance digital matte painter, has me returning to this "structure and process" model for rapidly organizing not only my layers, but also when to paint what and with what tools.

Learning how to paint is a life-long endeavor that should draw on the best of your formal training and constant reinforcement through independent study and practice. The learning extends well beyond the completion of homework and classroom assignments. It happens in the quiet isolation of a studio, in a noisy cafe with a sketchbook, or on a hiking trail with oils and a plein air easel. While it is possible to master a "thing" that gets you paid, my gut tells me that there is always something to learn and room for improvement.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Jet Powers Tech Files: 01

As we wrap up production on the Not Forgotten Anthology Jet Powers story, Jared Rosmarin and I decided that it would be fun to start sharing some of Jet's tech on Instagram. There are more details to come, but for now, enjoy this weeks tech file!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

WE DID IT! Thank you!

Many thanks to the Not Forgotten Anthology team and the folks who pledged to our Kickstarter campaign! We ended just over $2000 the funding request.
As we approach the July publishing date, Jet Powers writer Jared Rosmarin and I decided to share weekly art posts on Instagram under the @jetpowerscomic handle. Expect to see art with Jet's amazing gadgets, characters and more done in the style of character and vehicle reference comics like G.I. Joe: Order of Battle from Marvel in the 80s. I will do my best to keep it up over the coming weeks as we continue to explore this fun public domain universe. Jared is also wrapping up a script for the second issue of Jet Powers! More to come! For now, enjoy a sketchbook doodle done in the spirit of #iamjetpowers … because hashtags. :P —Eugene

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Not Forgotten Anthology Kickstarter Final Week!

The Not Forgotten Anthology has just three days to go! Bring back Jet Powers!

"Save the dream!"— Saw Gerrera

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

North Pole Webseries Kickstarter: Final Hours!!


With just hours remaining, the North Pole webseries is just a couple hundred bucks away from being fully funded via its Kickstarter campaign. Last summer, I was invited to contribute a bit of illustration and graphics work to the project which got a nice write-up on KQED's website earlier this month. Shot in Oakland, California, the new seven-part comedic web series slated for release in early summer 2017 uses humor to raise awareness about the issue of global warming and gentrification.

My job was to create a poster with an example of a bioengineered oak tree the fictional GreenGos company plans to plant throughout Oakland, ostensibly as part of sophisticated clean energy program. It was a lot of fun putting my love of botanical watercolors and science fiction illustration to work in one piece. As a student at AAU, I loved being a part of collaborative film and animation production teams and seeing how these complex projects come together. Many thanks to Darren Colston for bringing me on board for the project, and best of luck to the rest of the team during these final critical hours in their Kickstarter campaign!

A poster advertising the Greengos bioengineering firm, captured on set during a shoot for 'The North Pole'.
Photo: Chloe Veltman/KQED

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Aquatic Humanoid Character

Last Saturday's life drawing session led to a series of caricature and character design studies based on our model. It took close to 30 sketches ranging from 2-minute poses to 20-minute ones. I started the session with the usual ten small ink pen sketches, followed by four 5-minute ones. After two longer poses, I felt comfortable with playing with proportions and searching for a character design.

A key advantage to working small in my sketchbook has been the ability to take on the overall stance, proportions and other details multiple times during long poses.

This final design was completed in Adobe Photoshop using the original sketch as a foundation. Imagined her to be a muscular swimmer with plenty of insulation and buoyancy. Something about the model's profile and facial features made me think of someone proud and somewhat aloof. (That might also explain her nudity.) The name just popped into my head as I wrapped up the digital phase. Fun study.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Quick Draw SF @ F8

This month Quick Draw SF is a week later than usual. Join us on Thursday, February 23. The theme is "Love Beyond Valentine's Day," a look at what you hold most near and dear to you. 

At the event we will have a merch table with work from our featured artists; prints, zines, pins, stickers, original art, and more. We'll also be doing the raffle: prizes include SFMoma tickets, Flax gift certificates and other random/awesome prizes.

Featured artists include:
Brie Spiel
Zachary Sweet
Eugene Young (ME!)
Yesenia Gonzalez
Alexsandra Chelini
Dawline-Jane Oni-Eseleh
Jamaica Dyer
Matt Harding
Casey Desilets
Jaide Marchand
Jilliann Silva
Diego Gomez
Alex Sodari

Paint Pens Collective x Never Ending Radical Dude
present “QUICK DRAW SF”
Curated by Shayna Yasuhara and Jason Furie
Location: F8/1192 Folsom, San Francisco, CA 94103
Date: Thursday, January 19th 2017
Time: 6:00 - 10:00pm

Bay Area’s Paint Pens Collective and Never Ending Radical Dude present QUICK DRAW SF! A monthly live drink and draw event co-curated by Shayna Yasuhara and Jason Furie. Each month, ten artists are selected to come draw and sell their creations on our “art wall” available on the cheap. Everyone is welcome to come draw, so bring your sketchbooks!

Happy hour specials in full effect!
Music by DJ 11am
21+, **FREE EVENT**

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Not Forgotten Anthology Kickstarter is Live!

The Not Forgotten Anthology is now LIVE on Kickstarter. Please contribute what you can or help us to spread the word. Click the above pic to visit the Kickstarter page.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Not Forgotten Interview

Who are you? Eugene Randolph Young

What story are you working on for the book? Jet Powers: Ghosts From the Past by Jared Rosmarin

What history do you have with comics, both as a fan and as a creator?

I have been a (very) casual reader of comics from around age seven. My first comic book was an issue of Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery. The cover had a guy with a rifle riding a motorcycle and shooting at a flying red dragon! It probably painted in oil like the old pulp fiction novel covers. Other early favorites included Ghosts, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Shogun Warriors, Avengers, X-Men and The New Teen Titans. As a kid, I frequented the 7-Eleven on 37th and MacDonald in Richmond back when it had a full rack of comics from Marvel, D.C. and a couple of other lesser-known publishers. My picks were random, often based on cover art or an interest in discovering a new character. Avengers King-Size Annual #10 encapsulates what drew me to superhero team and villain stories. It had crossovers, subplots and a lot of drama between the characters. The pencils and inks were the best! They had weight and grit and made the most of a limited color palette. Books like that one taught me how to “read” the many nuanced, symbolic cues used in comics to denote everything from movement, light and shadow to depth, emotions and cosmic energy. I was into the art more than the stories. Focusing on reading was always hard for me, and the all-caps format made reading comics even more frustrating. So, I was happy to just skim the pages, especially when the text got too dense.

The title that held my attention the longest was G.I. Joe. I started reading Larry Hama’s epic sci-fi military adventure comic at #17. The first page of that issue had the Joe leader, Hawk, bleeding from the chest while a H.I.S.S. tank sped off into the distance. Cobra Commander held the smoking gun. Hama, being an Army veteran, brought a lot of authenticity to the story’s use of weapons and jargon. He also had a futurist’s eye for envisioning new technologies and military hardware. G.I. Joe had the most culturally diverse roster characters I had ever seen in a mainstream comic.

Comic Relief in Downtown Berkeley was one of my favorite haunts through the late 80s. There, I discovered McFarlane’s work on Spider-Man, which impacted my interest in styles that deviated from the Marvel/D.C. house styles. During the 90s, rising prices and a greater emphasis on splash pages, T and A and eye-candy pushed me toward manga and titles from other companies. Mark A. Nelson’s work on the first Aliens mini-series from Dark Horse was an example. Painted stories like Wolverine and Havok: Meltown got me thinking differently about how a comic could look. Steve Epting’s run on The Avengers in the early 90s because the style and writing reminded me so much of the Avengers in the early 80s.

Around 1988, manga and anime were quickly becoming hugely influential and more accessible. The art was what hooked me more than anything else. Translated issues of Appleseed (Masamune Shirow), Outlanders (Johji Manabe) appeared sporadically. My late teens and early 20s led me to the work of European artists including Milo Manara (Click, Little Ego), Alex Varenne (Erma Jaguar) and Elutri Serpieri (Druuna). Comics from Europe and Japan raised my standards for realism, imagination and design in storytelling.

I worked on my own space epic The Convoy Battles from around age 8 up through my senior year of high school. It included substantial number of characters, locations and vehicles and over a hundred pages of illustrated story. By age 15, I had also written and illustrated the first pages of my urban cyberpunk concept Def Squad X (later “The Strong Oaklanders”) after attending my first Wonder Con at the Oakland Convention Center in 1989. Def Squad X earned me a regional ACT-SO award for drawing from the South County chapter of the NAACP, which let me compete at the 1990 national convention in Los Angeles. The experience taught me that my work and interests were an awkward fit for such a traditional, socially conservative and deeply Christian organization. They celebrated work focused on faith, history, identity and culture. Superhero comics were at the margins of all of those things. Fine art drawing and painting had to fit mainstream art market and educational trends.

In 1993, I collaborated with writer Perry D. Clark on his creation Guila: The Dark Stranger. We independently produced a four-issue mini-series in black and white. The work was reduced and photocopied onto tabloid sheets, folded and saddle-stitched into letter-sized booklets. In 1995, I redid the first issue and released it as a standard-sized comic with digital colors and lettering. While I was happy with the results, I lost interest in creating independent comics because of the tedium and the amount of work involved.

Around the same time, I became an editorial cartoonist for The Guardsman at City College of San Francisco. At CCSF, I took graphic design classes while still leaning toward illustration as a possible career choice. The cartooning gig kept my gag writing and cartooning skills sharp. I often got the assignment late in the evening and had to delivered the next morning. The hard work earned me two awards from the Journalism Association of Community Colleges (JACC).

In 2013, I was invited to curate A Show of Power: Africans and African Americans in Science Fiction at City College of San Francisco. The African American History Month exhibition included a selection of comics, books, prints and toys from my private collection that featured black characters and themes related to various aspects Black Experience. I was nearing the completion of my MFA in illustration at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and slowly finding my way back to my old love of superhero comics.

What attracted you to this project?

Jared Rosmarin had already shown me two scripts before Jet Powers: Ghosts From the Past. We collaborated during the summer of 2016 on his ten-page short story Just Push the Button, a story focused on a dysfunctional single mother-and-son relationship and a rigged game show. I learned from our first project that Jared is a keen observer of human behavior and well-versed in the mechanics of a good storytelling. He is a dedicated writer with a strong interest in exploring comics as a storytelling medium. His knowledge of classic and contemporary film is also impressive.

I am also a big fan of early comic book art from the 50s. Their craft and beauty happened under strict technical limitations. From an early age I tried to emulate that style, and to some extent, I still do in my current work. My goal is to bring some of that brush and ink look and feel into the art and the limited color palette from the before the mid-80s. Montana Manalo’s inks really bring my pencils to life and I’ve been really lucky to have her on board.

What public domain characters are you using in your story, and what did you like about them?

Jet Powers is straightforward character without the cynicism and nihilism I’ve come to dislike in mainstream popular culture. I don’t mind a little social critique and political commentary here and there, but frankly, Jet’s a breath of fresh air. I like the guy. He is focused, mature, a brilliant inventor, worldly, and loyal to country. He also finds himself vulnerable in this episode, so we get to see his cool and calculating side. Without giving too much away, he has a bit of his world turned on its ear in these fast eight pages, so I am excited to see how his hard stoicism evolves in future stories. Jet Powers is a classic hero vs. villain story with lots of potential for fun storytelling on Earth and beyond.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Not Forgotten Public Domain Character Anthology

Last fall, I had an opportunity to contribute to an upcoming public-domain comic book superhero anthology entitled "Not Forgotten". Writer Jared Rosmarin wrote the 8-page story for Jet Powers, a character who appeared back in 1950. I kept the original look and costume design for Jet and went with a bold, simple and high-contrast Golden Age style of pencils. Coloring Montana Manalo's inks was a lot of fun. Her inking really brought out the spirit of Jet Powers and his amazing world of gadgets and intrigue. Montana was also responsible for the preliminary image research that made the job of designing Jet's gadgets a lot easier for me. You can follow Montana on Instagram.

A Kickstarter to promote Not Forgotten launches in February. Editors Matt Harding, Einar Måsson and Sinclair Klugarsh have over 20 stories on tap for the project. Here’s a peek at the pitch:

Heralded by the success of Superman and Batman, the world of superheroes exploded in the late 1930s with a litany of colorful and often bizarre heroic characters, creating what is revered as “The Golden Age” of comic books. They defeated evil wherever it reared it's ugly head, whether it be bloodthirsty Vampires from Pluto, repugnant Nazi jerks, or the mysterious and deadly effects of Atomic Radiation! These heroes sold books by the millions and ushered in an age of unprecedented JUSTICE. But soon, these ring-a-ding-ding good times came to an end at the close of World War 2 as the heroes fell out of favor in the eyes of a giddy and spoiled public. It was curtains for the heroes, as the once successful publishers now faced bankruptcy and took to the giggle juice while their creations fell into the shadow realm of PUBLIC DOMAIN, a place where anyone, anywhere can use them for whatever nefarious deed their sick minds could concoct. GADZOOKS! No longer protected under the shield of copyright laws, these characters were buried and lost to the cruel hand of father time and the machismo of modern entertainment as evil ran unencumbered through our streets! BUT FEAR NOT, true believers! These heroes are back and better than ever! Re-imagined by top creators in the industry, this anthology collects over 20 short stories paying homage and tribute to some of the greatest heroes and heroines lost to time with brand new, never-before-seen, exclusive tales bringing these amazing creations back to life! But don't blow your wig, Johnny. This book is within your grasp! Get in on this here clambake and help show the world that these characters might have been buried under layers of dust, but they are NOT FORGOTTEN!

Featuring work by James Harren (Rumble, B.P.R.D., Conan), Eric Esquivel (Lego DC Superheroes, Vertigo Quarterly, Adventure Time), Ryan Cody (Doc Unknown, Heavy Metal Magazine, The Phantom), Jerry Gaylord (Bill and Ted's Triumphant Return, Fanboy Vs Zombies, Ghostbuster/TMNT), Matt Harding (Doctor Mordrid, Popapocalypse, Styx, Madefire Studios), Rodrigo Vargas, Josh Krach, Angela Ahlers, Nathan Shorts (Toejam and Earl: Back in the Groove), Vincent Kukua (Image Comics), Saeed Arjumand (The Haunted Detective), Evan Limberger (Madefire Studios), Matt D. Wilson (Copernicus Jones: Robot Detective, Supervillain’s Handbook), Rodrigo Vargas, Josh Krach, Ashley V. Robinson (Jupiter Jet, Editor at Top Cow), Morgan Beem, Rica March, Jeffrey and Susan Bridges (Pendant Audio), Leonie O’Moore, Derik Hefner, Anne-Marie Webb, Andrew Steers, Edwin Lopez, Bobby Trauma, Esther Pimentel, Greg Menzie, Zakk Saam, Omar Morales, Joel Cotejar, Paula Goulart, Jaymes Reed, Paul Plale, Andres Olveras, Gabriel Moore-Topazio (Wrought Comics, Asylum), Einar V. Másson (Bay Area Comic Anthology, Bruce the Angry Bear), Edwin Lopez, Kristian Bay Kirk, Sandra Rós Björnsdóttir, Kevin Cuffe (Oathbound), Ricardo Lima, Jason Inman (co-host of DC All Access), Nick Robles (Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials), Casey Desilts, Malcolm Johnson (Styx, Ultrasylvania), Kevin Buckley (Madifire Studios, Cyberwulf), Jeff Leeds, Marco Maccagni (Archon, Vampblade), Jared Rosmarin, Eugene Young, and Dave Harding.

An early sketch of Jet Powers (digital)