It’s Official: Dash Issue #1 Coming In September

It’s official! Dash Issue #1 will be hitting stands September 24!

Dash #1 v2

We are excited to finally be able to announce that Dash will be released this September as an ongoing series from Northwest Press! After two years of working to make the best comic we can, it’s a thrill to finally be able to get this into shops.

First, we’d love to get Dash into as many shops as possible. It can always be risky for comic shop owners to take a chance on a brand new series but if you tell your local shop you want it, they’ll order it for you.

Dash Issue #1 is in the Diamond Previews July Magazine. You can tell them the Diamond Preview Item Code is JUL141331 or you can just direct them to the link on their website HERE

Remember, we’re a monthly, so if you pick it up tell them to put it on your pull list. And hey, if you don’t have a pull list at your LCS, maybe you should consider getting one. I’m sure your local shop would be happy to set one up for you.

Second, we can’t thank Bleeding Cool enough for their feature on Dash. It was very unexpected and we are very grateful they decided to feature our book. They have some early pictures of stuff we don’t even have on this blog, so check it out HERE

Finally, we’re so pleased that we are being published by Northwest Press. It’s very hard for a company to put an ongoing monthly title featuring a gay male protagonist, particularly in the noir genre, out there. The confidence they have in Dash as an ongoing series is inspiring! Check out the website for Northwest Press HERE

We have much more stuff ahead this summer as we lead up to issue #1’s release. Until then…



Update, MoCCA, Preview!

Ok, it’s been a very long time since either of us has updated. Like since right before last Halloween long time, and all I can really say is…. HAPPY NEW YEAR! Hope 2014 has been treating everyone great; it’s been rather a busy time for us.

Delia just got back from Emerald City Con (so jealous) and is gearing up for MoCCA Fest where she’ll be sharing a table with illustrator Elisabeth Alba.Table F3. They’ll both be selling some great stuff so be sure to drop by, table F3.

Our first issue has been completed and I love it. We are currently in the middle of the pitch process and it’s very exciting. I couldn’t be more proud of the work we’ve done on this comic; I can’t wait to get it in people’s hands. I wish there was a way for you to see it, even if only a small preview of it. Oh wait, there is!

If you drop by and see Delia at MoCCA, table F3, you can pick up a special 9 page preview of our comic Dash: The Mysterious Case of Zita Makara. But it’s not just 9 pages of comic; it also has an amazing amount of sketches, characters designs from Delia, an intro from me, and more! Here is a glance at the cover:


We only have a limited number of these preview books so be sure to pick it up! MoCCA Fest is this weekend (April 5th & 6th ) Saturday and Sunday in Manhattan at: The 69th Regiment Armory, 68 Lexington Avenue, between E. 25th & E. 26th Street, New York, NY 10010. Be sure to head over to table F3 to grab this exclusive preview book. Also Sunday I’m going to be a jerk and will be hanging around the table as well, so stop by and say hi.

We’ll be updating the blog a lot more frequently, most likely every Friday, with news, previews, and some exclusive stuff. Thanks for reading, and see you next week (or see you at MoCCA Fest, if I forgot to mention table F3.)



How Does A Page Get Made?

Some people were asking me about how I draw comics so I thought I’d write about it. I have no idea how interesting this is to others, but it’s still a process of trial and error for me and I’m always trying to find out how other artists handle the process. Sometimes what I read or hear makes me think, “Duh! That makes it so much easier!” while other times I think, “Hmm, that seems elaborate and frustrating,” or “Sounds like a LOT of paper use/redrawing.”

Let’s use page 4, Issue 1 as an example from start to finish.


wpid-Script-close.jpgSo first, Dave emails me the script and I print it to read. I like to conserve paper, but I draw my initial thumbnails directly on the script page so I need that hard copy. While the comic issue is 24 pages, the script for the issue is frequently longer.

Dave likes to insert photos that evoke the mood or help him “see” what he is writing (I can’t show an example right now because they’d all be spoilers). I hadn’t experienced this before but I really like it because it gives me a much better view into his head and helps me get into the scene better.

imageNext I thumbnail it with more detail in these rough layouts. I made a template sheet of little boxes to do this, but I had to correct the initial aspect ratio because my math was wrong (ARTISTS!). This is a new step for me; previously I would go straight from thumbnail to working on the full image. It definitely helps me organize the visuals better and solve problems before going to the big page and then having to erase everything. I speak from experience when I tell you how much that sucks.

pencilled_page_4Now it’s time to go to the big page! I freehand the layout onto the big page and then start drawing in detail. Lots of erasing ensues. In early days, I would just use the straightedge on bristol paper to define the borders. If you look closely at the panel borders in “Stan”, you might notice that they’re all ever so slightly crooked.

With “Dash,” I started using these prelined pages and they are SO much better than my crazy handruling. A few manufacturers make this, but I only use the Strathmore. I refuse on principle to use the Canson Fanboy line of products because I think the name is completely stupid and exclusionary. It doesn’t help Canson’s case that I think Strathmore generally makes better products anyway.

wpid-20130913_130603.jpgStaedtler, Strathmore: sponsor me! 😉

I draw with a non-repro-blue mechanical lead pencil initially, then finish with a Staedtler F pencil. I think a number of artists use H or 2H but I hate how it scores the paper. When I’m drawing regular drawings, I use F to lay out the composition then heavier B pencils to finish.

lettered_page_04 copyNext I scan in a batch of pencilled pages, size them down (the gray border is the gutter, the pink is the bleed), and start lettering. This may seem backwards to some, but it really helps me to (a) see the whole page and fix any compositional errors, and (b) make sure I’m leaving enough room for balloons and captions.

Sometimes the opposite happens and I’ve left too much room; drawing more stuff is a much easier fix than erasing or choosing to obscure some detail I really liked. Then I send them to Dave and he sometimes decides to change some dialogue after seeing it in an actual balloon or caption. For the record, I didn’t letter “Stan” but I’ve lettered everything I’ve done since then. I am a serious control freak and it’s extremely satisfying for me to letter my own pages.

inked_page_4Now it’s back to the drawing table for inking! I actually hate the way this page came out so I plan to re-ink it. I’m still experimenting with the best way to do this stage. Inking is so permanent. When I drew “Stan,” I inked directly over the pencils. I liked the efficiency of it, but I didn’t like how perilous it felt, like I only had one chance to get it right or it would be messed up forever (just like this page!). For the first time, I am inking on separate sheets of paper using a lightbox. I know…this method is not efficient.
imageI’m actually still searching for The Perfect Paper. I was using bristol when pencils and ink were the same, but now that I’m lightboxing I’m using Paris Bleedproof Paper for Pens, with mixed results. I was surprised to learn that a lot of artists who ink their own pencils, draw the pencil very loosely and tighten it up in the inking phase.

They say it’s more “fun” and spontaneous, but even the thought of it immediately makes me anxious so I guess I’m more on the boring side. I need to work out as many visual issues as I can before the permanency of ink, and as you can see that means tight pencils without much deviation.


color_sample Color is next. I colored the pitch in basic tones but we just confirmed our flat colorist which is going to be a HUGE help. I colored “Stan” all by myself and it was excruciating. Down the line as “Dash” gets rolling, we may hire a finisher as well. I’d love to be that artist who does it all, but the truth is that as a colorist I am slow and not very impressive. Hopefully with time and practice I’ll get faster and amazing like some of the artists I really admire.

If you’re still awake, you can see how a cat was really obstructive in the making of this post.

We Have A Cover!

So the first issue is fully pencilled and 75% inked, and we’re working on confirming our colorist. Meanwhile I’ve been polishing up our first cover/promo image…though we may have an amazing guest artist for the official cover of Issue #1 instead.

Dash working cover, Issue1

So when I draw, I listen to either music or podcasts, depending both on my mood and what I’m working on that day. For instance, music is usually better when I want to just power through and not overthink anything, and podcasts are better when I need to remain methodical and detail-oriented. The podcasts I listen to most often are the “Audioshocker” collection, “Risk!” and “3 Chicks Review Comics.” I really like storytelling podcasts (“True Stories” is a fun one), but I tend to avoid “The Moth” and “This American Life” because, as great as they are, they make me feel sad too often.

Most recently I’ve been immersing myself in old radioplays and big band music for that 1940s ambiance. My favorites are “Old Time Radio Mysteries” and “Old Time Radio Mystery Theater.” While rather moralistic, they’re so much better than I anticipated, and I often find myself on the edge of my seat wondering what will happen next. Sadly, there’s a finite amount of them, and I wish I could find some well-done modern radioplays.

I also found some new music to listen to while I work, which is pretty exciting for me. Girl In A Coma has several albums and Savages has one so far. My musical taste is extremely ’90s-influenced. Often the new music I buy is the latest output of my longtime favorite musicians (e.g. Mesh, or Gary Numan), who have progressed musically yet can always be relied on for interesting, meaningful songs and accomplished, thematic albums. I have tried to find new bands to listen to, but so much current music is terrible! I can’t stand empty Autotuned pap, and keep those “summer hits” away from me…they’re so boring and calculated, and sound way more irritating than “catchy.” So it’s an unexpected gift whenever I find something created by newer artists that I feel moved by and can’t stop repeatedly playing.

OK, back to work! Here’s a panel where Dash wakes up and realizes he needs to get back to work too:

Dash page 13, panel 2



Here’s my art table set up for inking. Usually that dark smear isn’t there but I knocked my ink pot over. My art might get pretty detailed or controlled but I’m actually uncontrollably, ridiculously messy as an artist. All my papers attract mysterious thumbprints in graphite or ink, sometimes before I even get to use them!

On the right is page 2 so I can maintain Zita Makara’s appearance, but on my fancy new lightbox (many dollars recently went to this) is page 6, the first appearance of Cindy Crenshaw. For the uninitiated, Zita is the archetype of the femme fatale and Cindy is described in her first appearance as “Dash’s wisecracking secretary.”

On the left is a thumbnailed page of Dave’s script for issue 1 and some layouts for pages I was pencilling (before Fancy Lightbox came in the mail). Above it all is a photocopy of someone’s idea of a vintage detective’s office that Dave and I both liked.