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  • Writer's picturecantocomics

Updated: May 15

If you're following me on the socials, you likely already know that the fine folks over at Fieldmouse Press have agreed to publish my graphic novel The Ardent in a lovely hardcover later this year! I've been working on this book for what has to have been four years now, and I cannot think of a better home for it than Fieldmouse.

I got permission from my esteemed editor Rob Clough, longtime scene pal and reviewer, to post the cover image I cooked up for this release!

One of the things that I think is becoming more and more necessary in the age of thievery- and exploitation-powered software is transparency on the part of artists about our processes in making what we make. Because large language models (LLMs, I refuse to call it AI, because it is not intelligent and Tech Folk are intent on branding it as this amazing innovation that is going to change the world for the better as opposed to what it is, which is spicy autocorrect) don't--and can't-- show their work, users are presented with "finished" images that seem to have come into the world fully formed. LLMs privilege the PRODUCT over the PROCESS, and people don't make art just to have a finished piece of content. The process is where the decisions are made, where the rubber hits the road, as it were.


So a few months ago, after I had finished revisions on the interior of the book (there were a lot to my mind, but Rob told me that in comparison to some other books he'd worked on, this was a pretty light load) I churned out a number of compositional sketches and sent them over to FMP. Here's what those looked like. There are like five, I think!

These were drawn pretty small, at like maybe 2x4". I scanned them in and added the blues, spotblacks, and some of the lettering in PhotoShop. As you can tell they're pretty rough looking, but they communicate the idea of the composition, which is the important thing here. So we eventually settled on the image most resembling the finished cover above. Then comes the real work.

I've gotten pretty okay at drawing skulls throughout the course of this project, so I wasn't super worried about that part. I just sort of flew at it till it felt done. This was done at 9x12 on Bristol Board with the same tools I used to do the interiors of the book.

Not visible in this image are the multiple moments at which I stopped to consider what I was doing. Art isn't an immediate realization of an idea, it's thousands of micro-decisions that add up to a finished whole (and then after that several thousand more second-guesses on the part of a nervous maker).

Then, because I knew we had settled on sidebars with ornamental Roods in them, I drew those in my sketchbook at about 8x4."

It should be mentioned that both this image of the Roods and the front cover image above are converted to webready images directly from the raw scans. The only touchup I've done on these is to block out some notes I took on the Rood page about a MAGPIE AND A CROW release coming out later this year maybe, about which more in a different post. These Rood drawings, after a little touchup, were dropped into the black bars on the cover in PhotoShop.

Rob told me that the title treatment (how the title of the book looks) was a little overly ornate (you can still see the original treatment on the preview minis I've been handing out at conventions for the last few years). So I tried a bunch of different designs and sent them over to him too. These are the ones I sent.

Again, raw scan here, but what I had originally sent Fieldmouse had no inks. There was also another page of different designs based more on Carolingian script, about which I had just learned a few days prior to these attempts. Rob & co. selected the second one, so I inked it and tried it out on the cover.

Dear reader, I hated it. The lettering was WAY out of place. See below:

It just didn't work. It's too wide and too hippy-dippy for this miserable book. So I did a new design more formatted to the space.

This is the one we're going to go with. It fits better, the angles are more gothic and pointy, but it's not without softness or ornamentation. I made a byline to fit with it (I have often bemoaned the length of my last name, but never so much as in that process) and slapped them into the PSD.

I'm very proud of the work I've done on this book. It's definitely my best work in comics to date, and I hope to be able to present the performance of it multiple times in the coming year once the book drops.

Oh, I didn't mention the performance I did of the whole fucking book last year at SPX?

Well, you lucky dog, I just so happen to have video of it on YouTube.

This is the complete work, so if you're the kind of person who prefers to read their comics off the page and not see a performance, you might want to skip it. If you're not that kind of person, please enjoy!

I'll be posting incessantly about the crowdfunding campaign for this book once it launches, so watch this space and my assorted socials.

Till next our paths cross, dear reader. Take care.


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  • Writer's picturecantocomics

Hey y'all! Probably you've already seen this pic of your topless narrator posing with his new book on the socials, but here it is again! You're welcome.

I'm well chuffed to share it with the world this coming Wednesday at the book launch and performance, where I'll be giving away copies to attendees and doing the live reading of UNTIL THE BLOOD RUNS BLACK for the first time since the start of the Pandemic.

If you can't make it and aren't already receiving a copy of the book in the post, please order yourself one here at the webstore! I'll sign it to you and everything. There are also still copies of the collected edition of my 2018 comic BUER'S KISS available at $5 off the cover price! Get both together and own a significant chunk of my oeuvre for less than $50 with S+H. I will get any and all orders to the post office as soon as I can!

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  • Writer's picturecantocomics

Hey team! You may or may not have noticed the spankin' new sections linked above in the nav bar, but now features a performance page (with brief descriptions of three of my performance comics pieces) and a link to my soundcloud page, wherein I have been periodically posting the weird sound stuff I've been working on.

Both the performance and the sonics scratch itches that comicking does not. I did oodles of performing in high school and college, and did some real deep dives into CoolEdit 2.0 back when visual waveform editing was still in its infancy. It's only been since maybe 2017 that I started performing again, and since January of 2019 that I started musicking (maybe). The latter of these two has been made possible by my wife's receipt of the Tulsa Artist Fellowship and the comparative economic freedom that entails. Anyway, have a look and a listen! Maybe you'll like what you find.

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