Tagon’s Extreme Napping, Howard’s Extreme Angst

Two weeks ago I was at the Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat*, and I tried something I’ve never tried before at a writing retreat–I worked on comics.

That went pretty well. I cranked out eight days of inks while listening to seminars from Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, and Mary Robinette Kowal.

I also tried working on the calendar art. That went less well. The art is on much larger pages, but there are no inclined drafting tables at Woodthrush Woods, and the light just wasn’t good enough for my poor old eyes.

That said, here’s the finished version of the piece I was working on:Maxim 40 bw Teaser


It never got to this point at the retreat, though. It did get to the point that I was using strong language in public spaces.

I wasn’t even able to get the foreground finished–the poor hover-table was just an elliptical squiggle and a couple of boxes that only I knew were destined to become a tall drink and a handgun. I did finish Tagon and his Hammock of Extreme Napping, but I wasn’t happy with some of the lines. I could tell that I was making bad decisions about where to put the ink, so I needed to stop.

It was really frustrating, and by the end of that session my eyes hurt and I was convinced the piece was ruined forever.

Fortunately I was also aware of the fact that I’ve rescued hopelessly ruined art before, so I packed the piece home, where I was able to go to work on the background in the warm, bright light of our front room, standing at the drafting table that has seen 8 years of Schlock Mercenary slide across its surface.

I’m happy with the result. Randy Tayler (my brother, who has been following the comic since before anybody else) said it’s one of the best things I’ve ever drawn. I’m inclined to agree. I guess the lesson here is that even the very best projects often hit a spot where they look hopeless, and success as an artist depends on being able to push past that spot.

Once Travis colors it (and I cannot wait to see what THAT looks like) this will be the April 2015 page in the 2015 Schlock Mercenary Monthly Calendar. Pre-orders for that will open tomorrow at 8am Mountain Time, at the same time we open pre-orders for Massively Parallel, “Munitions Canister 2” slipcases, and the re-print of “Munitions Canister 1” slipcases.

We haven’t released two Schlock Mercenary books in one year since 2006, and back then the two books we did had a total of 180 pages between them. This year we will have released 416 pages of of Schlock Mercenary once Massively Parallel joins Longshoreman of the Apocalypse, and while the 2015 calendar isn’t quite the same thing, I’m going to count it as another 24 pages, because that’ll bring us up to 440.

And speaking of comics, I really need to sit down and draw some.


*Note: We’re doing the Out of Excuses thing again next year, only it’ll be on a cruise ship.