Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Writing blog roll

There's this writing blog roll thing going around. You may have heard of it, or participated in it. It has rules. Ian Richardson tagged me last week (so did Jesse Mead). Ian's a horror cartoonist and CCS graduate, one time I got insanely drunk at his house, and have been afraid of mixing wine and rum ever since. Jesse is a lovable maniac.
Since I've been tagged twice, which I'm sure is against the rules, my post will be twice as long as normal.

Okay, the questions,

1) What am I working on?

-A few things. First of all, the third issue of Monster Pie. A monster fan art zine I started with Stephen Bissette. The third issue is the first time adding Ian Richardson to the creative pool.  Mostly for that I’ve been doing monster illustrations, which I love doing.
-I also co wrote a Vampirella story with Stephen Bissette for Vampirella’s 45th Anniversary. I can't talk about it too much, but Dynamite has announced it, and it's for a series called Faery Tales. It's also probably the weirdest Vampi comic that's ever been made!
-I’m making a 2015 calendar with Nomi Kane, called Dogs and Monsters. It’s about both of our true drawing passions.
-I’m doing illustrations for a few monster magazines, Monster! Monster! International, and sometimes Weng’s Chop, all edited by Tim Paxton.
-What else? I’m drawing a horror story that Matt Aucoin wrote, for a Boston horror comic anthology. It’s a horror story, but it’s a much different style and feel than any story I could have written.
-OH! Also, the group anthology Nymphonomena, about the strange fan reactions and making of the almost lost cult scifi genre and gender-bending 70’s movie. That’s been a long term project, we recently submitted that to the CCS book project, so we’ll see how that goes. I co-wrote one story for that with my friend, Cara Sande, and drew that story. I started to write a second story, but haven’t gotten far on it, and might not finish it, not every comic idea gets finished. We all know that.
-Ian and I have been talking about doing an anthology together, it’s still at an early stage. Bryan Stone and I have also been talking about a project…
-Final thing, I’m printing a collected Amelia, my first graphic novel. I never found a publisher for it, so I’m trying to print it in one volume by October.
-Next final thing! I shouldn’t even talk about this because I JUST started writing it, and I haven’t gotten permission from her yet. But I just started writing a comic where my character Sammy, from my graphic novel Amelia, meets Betsey Swardlick’s characters, The Failwolves, in a monster friendly diner and behaves very weirdly with them.

2)        How does my work differ from others of its genre?  

Have you read my stuff? It’s fucked up!
First of all, I’m deeply invested in making personal horror comics in the world of alt comics, which isn’t unique, but is unusual. I really don’t think anyone else devotes page after page to monster genitals penetrating and tearing each other apart the way I do. 
Other than that, I don’t know, I think I’m funny, but not like gag comics funny. One time Jeff Lok was like “try writing a joke sometime!” So I guess I'm not that funny. but I think there’s a lot of funny stuff in my comics.
Okay, here you go, this is what Stephen Bissette had to say about my work when I asked him for a quote on my thesis comic, and I still think it’s mostly true
"Denis St. John's Monsters and Girls is like some
weird, exotic multi-blend tea: at first sip, I savor a
hint of Richard Sala via Rinse Dream, then it's
overwhelmed by the bitter aftertaste of David Lynch
filming a Jack T. Chick tract in the Monogram backlot.
Last gulp, a spice imported from Charles Addams and
Wilson (hmmm, is that Gahan or S. Clay? It could be
either) malingers in the dregs at the bottom of the
cup. From steam to grounds, it all goes down in a few
gulps, and then it's too late -- I've swallowed the
whole damned thing. Here's hoping Denis has another
pot brewing -- I'm already thirsty for more!"

3)   Why do I write what I do? 

Because I must.
I write what I want because it’s what I like and want to see (hence Monsters & Girls)
I also have this whole theory. I know plenty of horror folks, and even though the world in general seems to think horror folks are messed up guys likely to commit unspeakable crimes, that isn’t how it is. They’re all the nicest most mentally healthy people. And I think it’s because they get all their inner demons out on the page (screen, latex, canvas, whatever). So to some degree I think if you’re NOT writing something truly horrible there’s something really wrong with you.

4)    How does your writing process work? 

It varies a lot between projects and depending on the length of the story. For example it took me YEARS to finish Amelia, if I had written it all in advance I would have lost interest and probably never finished it. But I also knew how it would end, and had all the basic answers by the time the first book (of 5) came out, but a lot of stuff happened organically between here and there.
So, process. Ideas come when they come, sometimes in full stories, sometimes in just images, sometimes in the bathroom. I do a lot of writing and drawing in sketchbooks and in emails to myself. If I have an idea that disturbs me in some way, I know it’s a good idea and focus on that, expanding around it. This is also the time in the process where I’m doing research, about particular monsters if I’m using already existing monsters, or places, or specific cars. Like in my Loup-Garou comic I researched a lot of the myths of the cajun werewolf. I also grew up in New Orleans, so I was trying to remember details from my own life that I could use to make the story more real. I really want to emphasize the importance of research. I hate reading a monster story and realizing the author only knew the Universal movie rules. Also, look into biology of actual animals, or history of donut shops in the Midwest, or whatever happens to come up in the story. 
Once the story kind of has a basic shape and clear idea to it, and the characters and monsters are somewhat designed (I don’t do character turn-arounds, I have no interest in that kind of cartooning), the writing becomes more organized.
I break down the story actions into pages. At this point I usually try and fit the story into a three act structure, or sooner if I’m having creative problems. I don’t believe every story needs a traditional structure, but I think it helps me figure out if the story is working and ready or not.  Even a book like Amelia, that operates a lot on dream logic, still needs some sort of form and character progression to it. Does each character change or fail to change?  That kind of thing.                                                   Then I create little thumbnail booklets, usually from stapled together letter sized pages. And break the pages down, I usually go three tiers a page.
That’s the stage where the dialogue starts to come together. Dialogue is important, and should be worked and reworked as much as possible.  Making sure it sounds natural, is in the characters voice, isn’t too long, and has enough puns. I try to avoid narration at all costs, which means I have to give my characters a lot of exposition, which can be real difficult to do and still sound natural.  Sometimes I fail at that, but every comic I write I get a little better at it.
I’ll do a lot of editing at this stage, taping new pages on when the first break down doesn’t work, adding more pages, cutting pages out. This is really the hardest stage. Then I usually scan it in, and send it off to friends who I trust to help me edit. There are a couple things I feel I need in a story, and I think I do particularly well. The ending needs to be set up somewhere hidden in the first act. But it also has to feel like a surprise to the reader. It all has to feel organic, scary, funny, and emotionally real or it’s a failure. There also has to be boobs. And at least one monster. Preferably more than one.

And on that note,
For next week I've tagged Colleen Frakes, David Yoder and Bryan Stone.
Colleen Frakes writes and draws folk-lore, true life, historical fiction, you name it!
David Yoder is awesome!
Bryan Stone is an illustrator and cartoonist, who writes sci-fi, Onions, and old people!
and I apologize to them for my terrible descriptions 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Monster! illustrations

so here's more blog posting! Here's some illustrations I've done for various issues of Monster! A pretty awesome monster magazine, you can buy back issues of it HERE

I have a lot more illustrations coming up in future issues and the first issue of Monster International! Coming SOON
Okay, so next week I'm going to post about writing.
Oh, also, just so you guys know, I co-wrote a Vampirella story that will be coming out in September! You can read the press release HERE and I'll tell you more about it as the time draws closer
so until next week...
Oh, also you can now follow me on twitter I'm @deniscomix

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

sketchbook pages

OOPS. I kind of forgot about this blog. Sorry if people are still reading it and expecting updates! you can go to my flickr page or my tumblr for more regular updates. But here's a bunch of sketchbook pages I've been posting.

Next update will be some of the illustrations I've been doing for Monster!