Monday, May 23, 2016

WISHLESS: A Graphic Anthology

Cover by Lyndon Navalta

It brings me great pleasure to announce the upcoming release of WISHLESS: A Graphic Anthology, a project that has been in the works for the last year or so, featuring eight talented Canadian cartoonists.

Starting from an idea proposed by Sho Uehara, it explores the question "what if Pinocchio's wish was never granted, and he never became a real boy?" Each artist explores this question in their own unique way, in a variety of styles, genres and mediums that show us the Little Wooden Boy like we've never seen him before!

Below is a sneak peek at the eight stories included in the anthology, and the creators behind them:

YOUR STRINGS by Lyndon Navalta

PINOCCHIO'S A PUNK!!! by Jarett Sitter

(THAT) WHO IS HUMAN(?) by Nicole Brunel

UNBURIED by Jackson Gee, Nick Johnson and Lyndon Navalta

SHINING FAIRY by Jillian Fleck

DON'T LOOK UP by Nick Johnson

THE TOY BOY by Joanne Leung

GRIM by Sho Uehara

WISHLESS will debut in a very limited print run at the Panel One Comic Creator Festival in Calgary on June 4th this year, after which we will be raising funds for a larger print run. It has also been submitted to comiXology, and I'll let everyone know of the digital release date as soon as I have it!

So damn proud to be a part of this amazing project. Thanks to all of the creators who contributed such amazing stories. Special thanks to Lyndon, Jackson and Sho for assisting me with the design and layout of the book, as well as prepping our beautiful booth!

More news soon!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

It's a Dangerous World for a Little Detective

Ahhh, after a week of recovery time, and then another couple weeks of wrapping up some illustration and comic projects, I think the time has come to reflect on yet another Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo.

One of the best parts of the Expo is chatting with table buddies and table neighbours and this year was no exception. I had the pleasure of conning out with Steven Charles Rosia and Stacey Bru, two extremely talented creators, each bringing something uniquely their own to the comics medium. Please take some time to peruse their work, I know you won't be disappointed.

I didn't do too many sketches this year, focusing more of my time on pushing books and chatting with familiar faces and new friends but I have a few choice pics to share this time around. My pal Mike shows up for a sketch every year and he always suggests the most interesting characters, even bringing me amazing comics I'd never heard of, total forgotten gems. This year he brought along some Mr. Monster comics; really cool stuff, sort of like a horror themed The Spirit.

This take on Supes, with a slight Jeff Smith feel, was for another regular face at the Expo, Michelle. Gotta love dat spit curl!

And finally, a sketch of "something satanic" by request, for a fella who was filling up his Necronomicon sketchbook. I just hope he doesn't read those spells in the back out loud...

Just to remind you why this blog is called Nick Soup, here's a fun ingredient to add a little extra flavour. Last year I had the distinct pleasure of being a part of Grown Ups Read Things They Wrote As Kids. Follow the link above to hear my real life, gritty, noir tale of crime in the halls of my elementary school. My story starts at 6:25 but I assure you the entire episode is fantastic. A seriously great night.

That's all for now, big news regarding my next project is coming in a few days!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Here Ye! Here Ye! Announcements and Fun Times Abound!

April is always an exciting month because the Calgary Comic Expo explodes into our lives with the force of a hurricane. Everyone is hustling and bustling to get comics, banners and pinups ready for display; preparing their bodies to endure four long days of hawking their wares, chatting with cool comic fans and having one or two drinks at the local mixers. (I seriously can't wait for that last one ;)

I wasn't sure I was going to be able to attend this year, and I had convinced myself I was okay with it, but then my salvation revealed itself in the form of two shining angels, descending from on high, like fallen Lucifer with arms full of Jolly Ranchers: Steven Charles Rosia and Stacey Bru

They had some space at their table and were willing to share. So I will officially be at the Expo this year, and I am ecstatic! Chatting with table mates at a con is always a highlight, and I am delighted at the chance to shoot the proverbial shit with these two brilliant, young comic talents. Stop by for a visit at TABLE O12 in ARTIST ALLEY.

Anyone who has known me for awhile is probably aware of my first complete mini-series, The Art of Dodging Shadows, that I released in 2003/2004. It was four, black-and-white issues chock full of cheap laughs, punk rock, and ultra-violence. It's been out of print for quite awhile but, after some gentle prodding from various people, I decided to collect the series for the very first time in one volume!

It is a digest sized black-and-white book featuring a new cover by yours truly, an intro by my pal, and collaborator, Jason Mehmel, and a very lengthy afterword, by myself, which serves as a retrospective looking back on the work twelve years later. Oh and there are some pinups too!

It debuts at the Expo this year. The first print run is very limited, so if you're interested, try to drop by nice and early!

Twice a year, me and my Septembryo comic pals, Mike and Roberto, are invited to CJSW by our friend Kibwe, who runs the show Off the Map. We get a chance to talk comics and movies and then listen to some sweet music. We just did another show a couple weeks ago wherein we chat about the Expo, weigh in on Batman v. Superman, and Kibwe plays some fantastic tracks: listen to the episode HERE. I'm also very excited to announce that the Off the Map crew will be hosting a panel at the Expo on Saturday, April 30th, all about Music and Comics!

The other big news is about the upcoming Comic Creator Festival being put on in June by Panel One. Wait, what?! You don't know Panel One? Oh my god, you gotta join up! It's for all comic creatives in the community looking for a place to meet fellow comic peeps, and their Comic Festival is going to rule. I was part of a super fun podcast discussing the festival and more, with the We Talk Comics crew. It was a really fun time, and you should definitely give it a listen HERE!

Oh look! Another Alpha Comics Cover Challenge! Have I mentioned how frigging enjoyable these things are? So great to draw with like-minded folks and get inspired by their great art. This time the challenge was promoting a local play about the man, the myth, the legend, Jack "KING" Kirby himself, directed by my aforementioned pal, Jason Mehmel. I believe the play still has available seats so click HERE to get them now!

It's always a blast working with Kirby's characters, so much dynamism and crazy design going on. My shot at the Challenge is pictured below. Congrats to my mad talented pals who won the challenge, you can see all of the entries HERE!

And just to finish things off, seeing as how there were way more words than images this time around, here's a look at some concept art I did for my pal Doug Cook who is pitching another great looking music video. Fingers crossed !

That's all for now, friends.

Can't wait to see all your shining faces at the Expo, be it during the bright, blessed day
or the dark, sacred night.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Putting the FUN in FUNctional Workaholic!

Things are going great at the studio and our animated feature is going swimmingly. Seeing all of the design work and storyboards from the last 6 months coming to life has been wonderfully exciting. But that doesn't mean I've been slacking off in my down time, oh no, sirs and madams. Oh no...

This months issue of Where Calgary features a one page comic drawn by yours truly regarding the upcoming Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo. You can check it out below and follow the above link to check out the entire issue. This was a lot of fun to work on and I'm sure the show this year will be great.

Way back in October, I was randomly contacted by a rep from En Masse in Montreal who partnered up with Fido to do murals for their stores across the country. I was so lucky to be a part of this project. The two other artists I was working with were complete pros, totals masters of the mural, wicked-skilled in black and white patterns and imagery. I learned so much. You can see some in-progress pics below or visit Fido in Chinook Centre to drink in the real thing!

Back in the day, I made my way up to visit my comic pals in Edmonton every few months. They always have something fun going on up there and I really do love hanging out with those peeps. After school and work and stuff, I couldn't get up there as often, but when I was offered the opportunity to set a record with them, I just couldn't resist!

Over a period of 48 hours, during the final days of the Royal Alberta Museum, a bunch of comic-crazed lunatics decided to do the world's biggest comic. Jay Bardyla of Happy Harbor Comics was the ring leader for this madness and it was one of the most thrilling, exhausting, ridiculous marathon comic sessions of my life. I loved it. Still waiting to hear back from Guiness on whether or not the title is ours!

This is a finished page where I was bale to do pencils, inks and colours. As intimidating as those huge blank pages were, inking at this scale with a brush tip marker was a blast.

This is one of the characters I designed, an enormous prehistoric beaver, powered by the forces of darkness.

And to give you a sense of scale, here are some folks assembling the comic as the deadline loomed. We literally finished with seconds to spare.

And finally, my good buddy Chris K. nearly demanded that I attend the Decemberists concert with him last year. Since I was a bit short on cash, he generously grabbed me a ticket, and the show was amazing. The pic below was compensation for said ticket. Just don't tell everyone that I work for concert tickets now. Well I guess that wouldn't be so bad...

Who doesn't love a little salad fingers action?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Dance Your Heart Out, Monkey!

I know what you're thinking....

2016 already!?

Mmhmm, yep. I feel it too. What's even crazier is that we're a month in! It's already been a fairly busy year, promising to be just as exciting as 2015.

Probably the biggest news of the past year for me was signing on with New Machine Studios as the Art Director for their newest feature film. I started in September and the time has flown by as quickly as a young dragon with something to prove. Working on character and environment design, turnarounds, colour studies and storyboards has been an immense learning experience and a very satisfying one. I cannot wait to show you all what we at the studio have been up to.

Being able to draw every day is a dream come true and it's also brain busting hard work, but I've still been pretty active on the side, doing freelance gigs, comic pitches and art events.

Remember the Alpha Comics Cover Challenges? Well, they still go down, and they are still a ton of fun. Below was my latest submission for the New Avengers challenge: Spiderman himself, in one of his classic, bendy, "who-needs-yoga-I don't" poses. I think I wrangled 2nd place from guest judge Ryan Stegman, and my good pal Sho nabbed his first win! Congrats, man!

You can see all of the fantastic entries HERE.

My Wolf Hands partner-in-crime, Justin Heggs, and I have also been doing a lot of pitching. We garnered some attention from Oni Press with a Wolf Hands submission and they were interested in hearing some ideas from Justin and I. While Oni didn't feel the stories were a good fit, it was tons of fun fleshing them out with Justin and working on some new characters. Take a peek below and you'll see how vastly different the two ideas were and what's really great is that we're still in touch with Oni about some other possibilities.

Most of my summer was dominated by illustration work for Lorimer publishing. A couple years ago I illustrated a book for them called Homophobia: Deal With It and Turn Your Prejudice Into Pride. It felt amazing to be a part of something so special, dealing with a subject that I feel is very important for kids to be educated about. And I feel super lucky to have had another chance to work with them, this time on the upcoming book Transphobia: Deal With and Be a Gender Transcender. It is available on order soon (or now?) through Amazon. Here are a few sneak peeks at the interior art:

I've also completed a short comic story (this very day in fact) that will appear in an upcoming anthology that I've been helping to put together with an insanely talented league of local cartoonists. It's the first comic story I've written AND drawn for a long time, so I'm super excited about it. More information on that soon, but here is a panel with which to tease you:

Well, that's all for now. I'll be posting more work very shortly but in the meantime, if you've missed the sound of my wretched voice, please tune in to the latest batch of Creator Summit podcasts from We Talk Comics, where an amazing bunch of Calgary creators get together and talk comics. If I recall correctly, the band and I put on a show the night before, so hopefully that accounts for any strange comments on my part, haha!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Smooth Mr. Mallard

You know how a duck looks pretty chill while he's floating past your canoe, but we all know that he's paddling like a maniac under the surface?

Yeah, I think that's the blog at the moment.

It's been pretty quiet around here but I have two really exciting, totally massive projects on the go, that have guaranteed me a very busy summer. I am excited to share it with you when it's all wrapped up, but in the interest of keeping this ravenous blog fed and content, here is some stuff!

Another Alpha Comics Cover Challenge has come and gone, this one judged by Calgary's Own Scott Kowalchuk, of Batman '66 and Down. Set. Fight! fame. I snagged 3rd place for this one (which I slightly altered from the original.) I'm kicking myself for forgetting some Bat-Sweat Stains. You can see the list of mega talented contributors HERE. Congrats to Anna for another big win. She is kicking some major keester!

Here is a cast of characters I created for my buddy James Davidge's political group 1VoteMatters. It was a lot of fun getting to create these folks, especially Maurice the Moose, because how often do you get to draw such a smooth operator? Casanova with antlers...

My day job is with a company called Icom Productions, and I lucked out into a comic gig for one of our clients, Telus! They needed three comic strips created for a contest where kids submit scripts and characters and get them turned into real comic strips. It was fun working with the kids on these and I was quite pleased with the final results.

I recently did an interview with Beatroute magazine in support of a very cool documentary getting filmed here in Calgary, focusing on the Calgary comics scene. It has been my pleasure to be interviewed, along with my Wolf Hands cohort Justin Heggs, several times by these passionate filmmakers. The details for the film are found in the above link and they could really use your support for funding right now too. Here's the link to do just that:

And that's that for now. Hopefully I'll have some more updates for you soon! Until then, paddle on my brothers and sisters.



Monday, April 20, 2015

The Red is My Reward

Another Calgary Expo has come and gone. I am exhausted and thrilled after 4 days of sketching, selling comics, and most importantly, talking with so many fantastic people.

This photo was taken by my pal Nathan. If you're wondering why I'm hiding my hand, it's not because I'm imitating an Imperial officer, I just broke my pinky at Dodgeball last week, and I am hiding my monstrosity of a hand. It was a hell of a conversation starter!

Every sketch I do tends to have some vibrant red/orange colour used on it. It's the part of the drawing I save for last because it's like a reward, candy for my rods and cones. Well that's what the Expo has always been for me. A giant celebration of all the hard work that goes into comicking throughout the year.

This year was special because it was the first time I was invited as a Creator Guest. I am very appreciative and had an amazing time at the booth. The volunteers and staff were super supportive and tons of fun to joke around with all weekend. Really looking forward to next year already!

Now that the souvenir book has been released, I can reveal my art contribution. The original art was donated to the Expo where the pieces were bid on for charity. I was very proud to have been able to contribute to this and thankful that the Expo set it all up.

And without further ado, here are some of my sketches throughout the con. Sorry about the focus issues on some. My phone camera is out of commission so I had to use an ancient artifact known simply as a "digital camera". It is 5 megapixels and apparently can't focus, haha!

The Goddam Batman

Ultron vs. Deadpool

I think this one's my favourite. I forgot how much fun it is to draw Spiderman!

Betty and Veronica formed a new band called Who Needs Archie?

Black Panther

Jawas, oon-tee-hee!

Joker. On the Batgirl cover... I'm not trying to start shit, I swear.

Finally, I was lucky enough to be a part of some great promotional interviews throughout the convention. Here is a snippet from an interview on Trending at Shaw. It was tons of fun.

And here is a rather loud interview with me and Justin by my pal Chris Doucher of GNN. His interviews are a ridiculous amount of candid fun, and this one includes beers so... be warned! It really shows off the social spirit of the community during a con which makes the experience so damn special.

That's all for now! Time to recharge the batteries and dive head first into the next exciting projects!