Vancouver Comic Arts Festival 2014

Another chance to see me out in public, if you’re in Vancouver!

The VANCOUVER COMIC ARTS FESTIVAL (aka VanCAF) is this weekend, May 25-26, at the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre in the Yaletown district of Vancouver, BC, Canada.

This a very good show that focusses almost entirely on creator-owned comics and the creators themselves. And best of all: it’s FREE to attend! So wander on down to the Roundhouse and pop in for a look around. I’ll be there (Table B-3) selling my comics, original artwork and my newest sketchbook, “RACCOONS AND HUMANS AND BEARS, OH MY!” I might even have a handful of prints of the BEER ROBOT drawing I did the other month.

VanCAF Map

I will also be talking on a couple panels on Sunday afternoon:

BROUGHT TO LIFE: CHARACTER DESIGN
Sunday, May 25th, 3:00 PM – 3:45 PM
Featuring Aaron Diaz, Kadi Fedoruk, Tyson Hesse & Steve Rolston.
This panel, featuring talented and experienced character designers, will demonstrate some of the core concepts of designing a character–from a purely aesthetic viewpoint to the rich imaginings of character-driven details. Learn how to create characters of different body and facial builds while still retaining strong cartooning ideals.

SNEAKY DRAGON
Sunday, May 25th, 4:00 PM – 4:45 PM
Hosted by Ian Boothby & David Dedrick and featuring Steve Rolston.
SNEAKY DRAGON, Vancouver’s tied for 3rd favourite podcast, returns to VanCAF with a live show with guest Steve Rolston (Queen and Country, Ghost Projekt, Pounded and Degrassi: Extra Credit). Join hosts Ian Boothby (Eisner winning writer of The Simpsons and Futurama Comics) and David Dedrick (host of the Completely Beatles podcast) as they unlock the Secret of the Mummy’s Curse! Or just joke around about comics, either’s good.

Beat Route Magazine posted an nice little article about VanCAF after talking to myself and fellow comic creator Sam Logan.

 

Inkstuds Kickstarter

Robin McConnell has been interviewing comic book writers and artists for years on his INKSTUDS radio show and recently hit 500 episodes. Now he’s teaming up with cartoonist Brandon Graham to take his show on the road and talk to creators on their home turf.

Their Kickstarter has now raised enough travel funds to take them to Los Angeles and New York City, where they’ll interview loads of talented creators such as Jaime Hernandez, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Tom Herpich and Pendleton Ward. The next stretch goal is to add the United Kingdom to the agenda.

There’s only 3 days left and the more money they get, the more creators they’ll be able to visit. So if you value quality conversations with independent comic book creators, toss some money their way. There are some good pledge rewards, like the Inkstuds interview book, a sketchbook from the road, comics, original artwork and even lunch with Robin, Brandon & guests for those high-rollers out there.

INKSTUDS 500 INTERVIEW ROADTRIP BONANZA

Instuds 500

Great Pacific variant cover

Here’s a variant cover I drew for issue #15 of Joe Harris and Martín Morazzo’s comic GREAT PACIFIC, due to hit stores in April. Drawing miles of garbage and debris was kinda tedious but also kinda fun. Much respect for Martín, who does it every issue.

Can you spot the Easter egg I snuck in from one of Joe’s other comics?

Great Pacific #15 variant cover

Introducing Trapezius Pepper

Trapezius Pepper concept

Here’s a drawing I did back in August. A bit of concept art for a comic project I’ve had simmering on the backburner for many years now. In a nutshell, it’s a series of noir-ish stories about a writer-turned-gambler named Trapezius Pepper. And yes, there are humanized raccoons and bears in this world. Because I wanted to draw some raccoons and bears up to no good, that’s why.

This is my favourite piece of Trapezius art so far but I hadn’t shared it because I’m still not sure if these are the right character designs or even the right art style for the project. And I’ve always been hesitant to share or commit to anything that isn’t yet RIGHT.

I acknowledge that flaw in my personality and I’m trying to get over it. I’m also trying to gain some momentum on this project. I’m a slow artist and an even slower writer. So I’m hoping that mentioning it publicly will shame me into finding the time, energy and focus to make some more progress on it.

Right now it’s just a personal project with no publisher or concrete plans. I’m still piecing my ideas together and trying to make sense of it all. Plus, I’m still focussed on wrapping up another job and hunting for something to pay the bills after that.

So I have no clue when you’ll see a finished product or how much I’ll be sharing along the way but feel free to bug me about it every once in a while.

EDIT — I’ve now launched a Patreon where supporters can follow my progress as I work on the comic: www.patreon.com/steverolston

Ghost Projekt TV Series in Development at NBC

Ghost Projekt - Control Room Splatter

That’s right, GHOST PROJEKT is once again taking a stab at haunting your television sets. As reported at Deadline.com

NBC has put in development Ghost Projekt, a drama based on the Oni Press graphic novel series written by Joe Harris and illustrated by Steve Rolston. Written by John Glenn and feature writer/director André Øvredal (Troll Hunter), the show centers on an American UN weapons inspector and a Russian FSB agent who are forced to team up to chase a group of thieves before they end up spreading dangerous supernatural material stolen from an old abandoned Soviet weapons lab. Feature writer/director Øvredal will direct the pilot and serve as co-executive producer.

I really enjoyed Troll Hunter so I’m particularly excited to see what Øvredal will do with Ghost Projekt.

Ellen Page to star in Queen & Country

I’m not directly involved in this but I thought the news would be of interest to fans of QUEEN & COUNTRY.

Tara Chace vs Ellen Page

Variety has reported that Ellen Page is in negotiations to star as Tara Chace in a film adaptation of Greg Rucka‘s Queen & Country comic book series, which I was an artist on. Most know Ellen Page from the films Juno, Inception and her role as Kitty Pryde in several of the X-Men films. Some of us also remember her from her earlier appearances on Trailer Park Boys.

Congrats to Greg and the gang on this latest development.

The Graphic Canon

Some of you may remember a couple years ago when I went through a stint of sketching Ernest Hemingway. At the time I was working on a short comic story that’s finally been published! I just got a couple copies of THE GRAPHIC CANON vol. 3 from Seven Stories Press, which is the final volume in a set of anthologies that adapt famous writers’ works into comics and illustrations. It was also the #4 graphic novel on the New York Times Best Sellers list. I snapped a few pics of the book to show off:

The Graphic Canon vol 3     The Graphic Canon vol 3

The book is quite hefty, clocking in at about 550 pages by around 70 contributors, including Robert Crumb, Ted Rall, Dame Darcy, Peter Kuper, Lauren Weinstein, R. Sikoryak, Rey Ortega, Annie Mok, David Lasky, Mardou, Dan Duncan and, well, many more. While the first volume spanned stories from 1000 BCE to the end of the 1700’s and the second volume focussed on the 19th Century, this volume tackles the work of literary giants from the 20th Century. You want some names? How about William S. Burroughs, Franz Kafka, Virginia Woolf, Jack Kerouac, James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace, T.S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Rudyard Kipling, Jack London, D.H. Lawrence, W.B. Yeats, Hermann Hesse, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, H.G. Wells, Dashiell Hammett, Aldous Huxley, Jean-Paul Sartre, John Steinbeck, George Orwell, Vladimir Nabokov, Sylvia Plath and Sigmund Freud?

For my piece, I adapted a newspaper article that Ernest Hemingway wrote for the Toronto Star in 1922, entitled “Living on $1000 a Year in Paris.”  It’s 8 pages of Hemingway explaining how cheap it was for expatriates like himself to live in France at that time. I definitely switched into heavy-research mode for parts of it as I tried to make sure I drew things as accurately as possible; whether it be the bridges of Paris, the hotel Ernest & Hadley lived in at the time, the Shakespeare & Company bookstore or even the details of dollar bills and coins of the era. That said, please forgive any flubs I may have made.

Editor Russ Kick introduces each piece and I’m amused by the bit in mine where he says “[Steve] brings a delectably crisp style to Hemingway’s guide to the City of Light.” Mmmm… delectable. A moveable feast, perhaps? To give you a bit more of a tease, here’s the first page from my comic:

hemingway_1

thegraphiccanon.wordpress.com

Queen & Country Revisited

I recently got an interesting commission request from a long-time Queen & Country fan. He asked if I would draw a recreation of Tim Sale’s classic cover from the very first issue of the series. I thought it was a pretty cool idea, so I took it on. And then I even threw some textures and colour on it. Check it out:

Queen & Country Revisited

Yep, Tara Chace is still a badass.

For those who don’t know, Queen & Country was an espionage comic book series written by Greg Rucka. It launched in 2001 and I was the first artist. In fact, it was my first real comic gig. I was a rookie; a nobody. As such, Oni Press make a very wise call to bring in Tim Sale to draw the covers for that first arc.

Queen & Country #1I still remember doing my first store signing on the day that Q&C #1 came out. I was sitting there in The Comicshop on 4th Ave, hoping someone would pick up the comic so I could sign it for them. I believe the words I overheard were “Ooh, Tim Sale.” That was the sound of a cover catching someone’s eye. Thankfully it was followed by the sound of a customer flipping through the pages and getting further hooked. So cheers to Tim Sale for designing such a fine cover back in the day. I hope he appreciates this slice of homage.

It was interesting trying to find the right balance between how Tim Sale drew the cover versus how I tend to draw versus how I drew things twelve years ago. I’m still debating some of the choices I made but overall I’m quite happy with how it turned out.

The entire Queen & Country series is available for sale as four sharp-looking Definitive Edition graphic novels. Look for ’em at your local comic shop or online at OniPress.com.

If you’re curious about what Greg Rucka is up to these days, go check out the Kickstarter for his latest comic project, Lady Sabre & The Pirates of the Ineffable Aether.

And if you’re in Vancouver, I made a small run of 11×17 prints of this cover recreation that I’ll be selling this weekend at the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival.

Queen & Country prints

Krah Khronicles

Zed: A Cosmic Tale by Michel GagnéDo you guys know Michel Gagné? If you don’t, you should. He’s a crazy talented artist who has animated special effects for Iron Giant, Ratatouille and Star Wars: Clone Wars. He’s been self-publishing his own comics and illustrated books for the past 15 years. He’s done a live performance combining his abstract animation with improvisational jazz. He turned his Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet idea into a video game available on Xbox Live Arcade. Even better than all that, he’s a really nice guy.

I first met Michel and his also-delightful wife Nancy when we did a store signing together about a decade ago and I’ve been lucky enough to hang out with them several times over the years. One of Michel’s self-publishing endeavours has been a comic called ZED: A Cosmic Tale. He accurately describes the series by saying, “a lot of people might be shocked when they read ZED. What appears to be a little children’s tale (based on the art and writing style) is in fact an edgy dark sci fi comedy adventure.”

I liked Zed so much I drew a pin-up for it, featuring the title character rocking out with his friends from the intergalactic metal band KRAH! That led to us exploring the idea of me writing and drawing a spin-off comic called The Krah Khronicles. The project never got off the ground but I did have fun roughing out the plot for a three-issue space adventure / rock battle. And I drew a couple sample pages and a cover mock-up that I figured I’d share with you all. So here’s a little time capsule from 2005:

Zed pin-up   Krah Khronicles cover   Krah Khronicles sample page 1   Krah Khronicles sample page 2

The four core members of Krah were designed by Michel, as they appeared in the Zed comic. But it was up to me to design everything else. It was an interesting experiment, designing new characters that would fit the aesthetic of Michel’s world but still have my own flavour.

Krah designs   Dread Dots design   Other character designs from Krah Khronicles

This seemed like an appropriate time to shed light on this stuff since Image Comics just published a collection of Michel’s entire 10-issue run of ZED. It’s cool to see Michel get this new edition out there and in front of people’s eyeballs. If my opinion isn’t good enough, you should consider that Pixar director Brad Bird wrote an introduction for the new book.

Right now Michel is busy animating a film adaptation of The Saga of Rex, a whimsical comic about a fox’s outerworldly journey, which he originally serialized in the popular Flight anthologies. He successfully crowdsourced the funds to work on the first four minutes of the film and one of the Kickstarter rewards was access to a secret production blog he’ll be updating throughout the process (late-comers can still gain access for a $20 subscription). As always, Michel impresses me with his creativity and his dedication to developing his own kick-ass projects.

Not an Hourly Comic

Not an Hourly Comic

I recommend searching for “hourlycomicday” on Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, etcetera for some real Hourly Comics.