Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I'm a Papa!

Julia Morgan Jones, born late Saturday night, June 27th 2009, to Papa Jones and Mama Vendetti.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Comic-Con '08 was crazy, exhausting, and lots of fun.

At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con I met tons of new people, made a few new friends, caught up with old friends, and talked collaboration with a few more.

COMIC BOOK TATTOO got a lot of attention at the con, as did Tori Amos’ presence there. I felt the show as a whole was extremely well organized, and even with all the big media movie studio turnout, there seemed to be a proportionately larger comic book publishing presence this year. But I can no longer just call this thing a convention, it is now more of a festival that takes over the whole city. A pop-culture Burning Man?

There were long lines at the convention center everywhere.

Luckily just about the only line I stood in all week was to get a cup of coffee (about 30 minutes).

CBT Editor Rantz Hoseley (this guy is awesome!), with Tori fan Michele Santiago, showing off the Limited Edition book and print.

CBT cover artist Jason Levesque at the Image Comics booth Friday, when books were selling as fast as we could sign them and take people’s money.

The Saturday Comic Book Tattoo panel was a really fun experience. There were several hundred in attendance and the hour flew by quickly. From left to right: Kelly Sue DeConnick, Ted McKeever, Elizabeth Genco, Tori Amos, Rantz Hoseley, and David Mack. Yes that me in the red shirt in the front row.

We sold out of books Saturday after having them for only about 24 hours. Fortunately people who’d already bought the book kept coming back to get their copy signed by the various creators who cycled through the Image booth every hour or so.

Me and Tori with writer Jon Tsuei at the con on Saturday. What a day that was: panels, parties, signings, celebrities, good conversations, and plenty of Long Island Ice Teas by the end of it.

Some of the CBT crew and me at the Image booth Sunday. I was worn out by then, but in a good way.

The book should be in stores everywhere. So check it out.

Also original art for sale from my CBT story can be found here.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

COMIC BOOK TATTOO in stores today and I’m off to Comic-Con!

That’s right, the massive Tori Amos inspired anthology COMIC BOOK TATTOO arrives in comic book stores today (and music and book stores soon to follow).

It will also be debuting at San Diego’s now sold-out Comic-Con International (sorry, but 125,000 people is the limit!) where I’ll be signing copies of the book at the giant Image Comics booth (Booth #2729) on Friday from 1:00-2:00pm and Sunday from 2:00-3:00pm.

I will also be attending the Tori Amos/CBT Spotlight panel in Room 6B on Saturday from 11:30-12:30pm where you can see Tori herself, editor Rantz Hoseley, and some of the book’s creators talk about how the book came to be. Get there early, as seating is limited.

If you wish to meet Tori and have the book signed by her at the convention, you will have to be one of 200 people to purchase the book at the Image booth and receive a ticket to her signing upstairs in the Sails Pavilion at Autograph Area Two (AA2) on Saturday from 2:00-4:00pm. Twenty tickets will be given away with purchase on Wednesday evening, 75 on Thursday, another 75 on Friday, and the remaining 30 on Saturday. You’ll have to show up to the Image booth early to get a ticket (doors open at 6pm on Wednesday for Preview Night, and at 9:30am the rest of the days). Good luck!

Also, next week I will begin selling original black & white line art from my story Little Amsterdam in my Comic Space Gallery . You will be able to make purchases by Paypal or credit card. In the meantime you can check out a few of the pieces, like this one:

A recent interview with Tori can be found here,in which she talks about Comic Book Tattoo:

Every single piece had a uniqueness to it. I found that some of the stories shocked me… I was surprised at the heartache that some of these stories brought up in me when the song originally hadn't meant that to me.

And briefly mentions her thoughts on my story:

I was intrigued by the characters that come alive and who the mother is in the story…She's a working girl. She's a Southern white-trash hooker. It's a parallel universe.

And finally, here’s another sample page of Little Amsterdam:

(click images to enlarge)

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Monday, June 23, 2008

COMIC BOOK TATTOO in stores in one month!

The release of Tori Amos’ COMIC BOOK TATTOO is one month away, as it will debut at San Diego’s Comic-Con International and be available at a bookstore near you on July 23rd.

It'll be big, it'll be in hard and softcover, and it'll be published by Image Comics.

Check back soon for more news about events that will coincide with it’s release.

In the meantime here’s another page from my story Little Amsterdam:

(click image to enlarge)

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Thursday, May 08, 2008


I wrote, drew, lettered and colored a story for the Tori Amos tribute book COMIC BOOK TATTOO, and it's one of my favorite things I've ever done.


It's a 12 x 12 inch (record sized) 480 page full color coffee table art book, to be printed in three formats: Softcover, Hardcover, and a special Hardcover limited to 1,000 copies, signed by Tori and featuring some fun extras to be announced.

COMIC BOOK TATTOO will feature over 50 stories by more than eighty comic book creators spanning every style and genre in the medium, with an introduction by Neil Gaiman. Each story will be inspired by one of Tori's songs.

The song I chose was LITTLE AMSTERDAM from her album BOYS FOR PELE. Here's a sample page:

(click image to enlarge)

The limited edition hardcover can be pre-ordered through by clicking here (the page also features a complete creator list). The regular Soft and Hardcover editions will be in book, music, and comic stores everywhere this July (with a huge print run, so you shouldn't have a hard time finding a copy), and will debut at Comic-con International in San Diego this summer.

I'll be showing some more sample art soon, so keep checking back.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The SE7EN hardcover collection is in stores

Purchase it here or at a book store near you.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Wonder Woman benefit art

October 28th is Wonder Woman Day, which also happens to be the day that Portland's Excalibur Comics is hosting a benefit auction of Wonder Woman art to support two domestic violence shelters and a crisis hotline.

Special guest signings at the store will include Wonder Woman comic book writer Gail Simone and artist Phil Jimenez.

Artists who have created Wonder Woman portraits for the auction include Adam Hughes, Jaime Hernandez, Gilbert Hernandez, Alex Ross, John Byrne, Craig Rousseau, Guy Davis, Phil Hester, Steve Rude, Michael T. Gilbert, and myself.

Here's my piece:

You can bid on my art, or the work of dozens of other artists, for a good cause by visiting this webpage. Or if your in the Portland Oregon area, stop by Excalibur Comics at 2444 SE Hawthorne Blvd from 2pm to 6pm and see the artwork in person, meet some of the artists (including me) and maybe walk away with a door prize and a piece of original Wonder Woman art.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Back-To-School Zombies

I'm not a hundred percent sure I understand the idea behind this one, but I like the results. Last week Tak Toyoshima, the Art Director for Boston's Weekly Dig, asked me to do, well...what you see below. He was nice enough to provide, as usual, an excellent sketch to get the ball rolling. This is, I believe, my fourth cover for The Dig, but the first one to be printed on their new slick cover stock.

My artwork:

Tak's sketch:

The finished cover, with some nice tweaking by Tak:

The issue hit the news racks today in the Boston area, and will be around until next Tuesday or so.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Chicago comic-con and some reviews of what I'm reading now

Here's a photo of me with David Mack and David Seidman signing copies of SE7EN: ENVY at the Zenescope booth during the Wizard World Chicago convention last weekend. Thanks to everyone who visited us and supported the issue's premier.

One of the most common questions I was asked at the Chicago convention was what comic books do I read regularly. A couple years ago, I probably would have answered that I rarely buy ongoing monthly comics, but instead tend to collect the work of cartoonists (writer/artists) who only put out an issue of their comic every year or so. But after a decade of finding little interest in ongoing monthly comics, I’ve become hooked on a few that keep me involved over multiple issues with no end in sight.

I equate a good ongoing, regularly published, comic series with some of the best - and most addictive - TV shows I watch. Television is also something I’ve recently returned to after more than a decade of ignoring it. But for me I’ve found, in the last couple years, that most movies rarely deserve to run longer than an hour, and few can hold together a decent third act, while TV shows, like serialized comic stories, are pretty much all second act. They need to end eventually or they'll wind up sucking, but there are some that can stretch that second act pretty far without losing my attention.

However, I don’t watch TV shows an episode at a time, but in big season-long chunks on DVD. Similarly I rarely read individual comic issues anymore, but very much enjoy the collections. Here are a few that I’ve been enjoying:

Y, THE LAST MAN by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra
(DC/Vertigo – So far I’ve read 48 issues collected into eight volumes)

For me Brian Vaughan is the comic writer of the moment. He writes comics that read like good serialized television, which is the way I think ongoing comics series should read. It's no wonder this guy is now story editor on the TV show Lost. That's why he's writing two of my favorite series of the last few years. In fact I'd have included Vaughan's Runaways on this list as well, except I have a soft spot for Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz's original New Mutants and can't stand to see that series upstaged. Won't admit that is has been upstaged, I mean. There seems to be so many ways that a story about the last man on earth could go, but the path Y has taken is far beyond anything I would have imagined. It's a brutally hilarious dark comedy that touches on most everything about human nature. A stunning achievement in writing, brought to life by the simple, understated artwork of Pia Guerra, who I'm so totally jealous of right now.

B.P.R.D. by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, and Guy Davis
(Dark Horse – So far I’ve read approximately 26 issues collected in six volumes)

I'm a Hellboy fan mostly because I love (LOVE!) Mike Mignola's art. He can draw space raccoons or mutant thumbs, it doesn't matter, I'll buy it. But when Hellboy is being drawn by some other artist, I rarely have any interest in the character. Similarly I had a hard time getting into the early B.P.R.D. collections because Mike wasn't drawing them. But once Guy Davis took over the art chores with the third volume Plague of Frogs, I was hooked. And the subsequent three volumes, The Dead, The Black Flame, and The Universal Machine just keep getting better as they add to the ongoing storyline. It’s kind of weird because the first Hellboy collection Seed of Destruction was essentially a team book, and then bit-by-bit it became a solo series. So it’s nice to see it come full circle (even without the red guy) and do so successfully. I can honestly say I enjoy B.P.R.D. as much or more than I ever did the Mignola drawn Hellboy comics, and that's saying a hell of a lot.

EX MACHINA by Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris
(DC/Wildstorm – So far I’ve read 27 issues collected in five volumes)

Hmmm, politics. Not my favorite subject in or out of comics. Politics in America remind me of commercial sports: you pick your team, stick with them no matter how much they suck, and ultimately, when the flag waving and the insults die down, it’s all the same stupid ballgame. Well, that's just boring. Ex Machina, however is not. I think I first picked up this book because Tony Harris was drawing it, but after a few issues I was hooked by the unparalleled ability of Brian Vaughn to write such sharp witty dialogue that cuts through the political bullshit and shows what it might actually be like to juggle the multiple responsibilities asked of a young New York City mayor.

ALL STAR SUPERMAN by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
(DC – So far I’ve read six issues collected in one volume)

Grant Morrison has more or less been my consistently favorite comic book writer for about twenty years, beginning with his early run on Animal Man and The Doom Patrol in the late 1980's. Sure, there are other writers, such as Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, who've received more accolades and more press, but neither of them alone or combined can match the staggering wealth of good stories that Morrison has written, which span all genres and he may have invented a couple along the way. I first became aware of Frank Quitely's amazing storytelling talents in JLA: Earth 2 (also written by Morrison), and was stunned by some of the fantastic visual choices he made in We3 (also written by Morrison). But even combining their talents again, I never thought these two would get me to read and enjoy a Superman series (what am I, ten years old?). Well, I was wrong. This series takes all the absurdity of the Superman universe and makes it so incredibly, awesomely, fantastically fun that it's impossible to put down.

THE WALKING DEAD by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
(Image Comics – So far I’ve read 24 issues collected in four volumes)

Zombies again? Yeah, this has been done over and over and over and over, but somehow this time it seems different. I think this is the movie-versus-television thing. The Walking Dead works because once it starts it keeps going and going and going. There is no end. And that's what makes it scary. There’s no neatly wrapped third act. You know the still-living characters aren't going to win. The question is, how long can they hold out? I’m willing to find out.

DAREDEVIL by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark
(Marvel – So far I’ve read 93 issues collected in fifteen volumes)

I've never cared much for the character Matt Murdock or his alter ego Daredevil. Maybe it's because the guy is just bad luck incarnate and it makes me want to keep my distance. In any case, his only good fortune seems to be attracting excellent writers and artists to tell his story. Yeah, I really liked the Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli run on Daredevil back in the '80s, but I've got to say that with Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada's revamp of the series in 1998 (and continuing in the hands of David Mack, Brian Bendis, and Alex Maleev) I've become a true fan of Daredevil’s ongoing drama. It’s rare to see a superhero book from a major company where the character (and his situation) is constantly evolving, and by-golly this book definitely is. Which leads to the current team of Brubaker and Lark. At close to a hundred issues, this book is pushing it’s luck with me, and so with the new creative team I wasn’t expecting the quality of the colossal Bendis/Maleev run, but so far, after two collections, they’ve kept their heads above water. Looking forward to a third.

ASTONISHING X-MEN by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday
(Marvel - So far I've read 18 issues collected into three volumes)

Okay, so I was a huge X-Men fan in my teen years. I had every issue of every series that had even a slight connection to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters (Power Pack, anyone?). It was the geek soap opera supreme. But nearly 20 years later I find it hard to understand just what I loved so much about those old issues aside from the overall addictive nature of their overwhelming complexity. When the X-Men movies came out (I liked the second one a lot), many of my friends having seen the movie, who new I used to be an X-freak, asked me what comics they should pick up that would continue the stories told in the films. I didn't have an answer. X-Men has no set beginning. None that most would want to read anyway. What makes it so appealing to the Marvel Zombie insider is also what has alienated it from the rest of the world. That is until Astonishing came along. I can happily hand the first collection to anyone and in all confidence say, if you liked the movies, here's something you'll enjoy. No overly-complex back-story to wade through. Just cool characters like Wolverine, saying cool lines like "I'm not doing anything that doesn't have the word beer in it" drawn in a clean realistic style that doesn't alienate the casual reader, and allows old-timers like me to re-live the glory days without having to actually, you know, read all those issues.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

SE7EN: ENVY to debut at Chicago comic convention

It's official.

SE7EN: ENVY will be released in time for the Wizard World Chicago comic convention next weekend, where I will be signing copies at the Zenescope booth (#124) along with writer David Mack and cover artist/designer David Seidman.


Saturday, August 11th

1pm – 2pm
David Mack, Writer SE7EN, Kabuki, Daredevil
Leif Jones, Artist for SE7EN, Robotika, Aliens
David Seidman, Artist for SE7EN

4pm – 5pm
Leif Jones, Artist for SE7EN, Robotika, Aliens
David Seidman, Artist for SE7EN

Sunday, August 12th

Noon – 1pm
Leif Jones, Artist for SE7EN, Robotika, Aliens
David Seidman, Artist for SE7EN

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Monday, July 23, 2007

2007 illustration round up (the first half)

While doing the art for SE7EN: ENVY took up a good chunk of early 2007, I did squeeze in a few illustration assignments. Below you'll find some samples:

Three of the character templates I did for Monte Cooke's World of Darkness game.

A few of my latest illustrations for the card game Vampire: the Eternal Struggle.

click images to enlarge

And a small sampling of designs I did for an upcoming fantasy board game. I did over a hundred illustrations for this, so there will be much more to share in the future.

I'm off to the San Diego Comic-con this week and should have some fun stories and pictures to share (and hopefully a couple surprises), when I return.

Unfortunately SEVEN: ENVY has been delayed, so I won't be promoting it at San Diego as I'd expected to. Check back soon to find out when the release date for the book will be.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

SE7EN: Anatomy of a Panel (episode two)

Page twenty of SEVEN: ENVY was essentially six panels of a static image, with a couple changing foreground elements. So I put a lot of time into making that one image look nice.

For the apartment intercom, I started off with what is a rather boring line drawing; a framework, really, for the detail and texture that I would fill it with.

I created a bunch of cut out slips of paper, with names in various handwritten and typed styles, to give some personality to the other tenants of the building. Tenants we'd never see, but who would hopefully feel real through the limited amount of information I was able to convey in this panel.

I added layers of splatter texture to make the whole thing look old, grimy, and used. Then lots of color, shadows, and highlights to bring it to life:
(click images to enlarge them)

Here's a close up look at the final background:

Next I drew the gloved hand of John Doe pressing the intercom button for the Mills' apartment. I added various layers of texture to the glove, including one scanned from an old leather-bound book, and threw in a subtle layer of red - as if blood had been quickly, but carelessly, scrubbed from it (the Pride victim?).

I dropped the finished gloved hand over the background and added some shadow:

Then I drew in ink a close up profile of John Doe's face speaking into the intercom, scanned it, added an old paper texture for the skin, and colored it:

Three drawings combined to make six panels, with some added dialogue and sound effects.

Here's the final page:

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Friday, April 20, 2007

SE7EN: Anatomy of a Panel (episode one)

Cartoonist Jesse Hamm recently wrote a brilliant LiveJournal post regarding why comic book writers shouldn’t, if at all possible, tell the artists what to draw. The main rebuttal to which seems to be that many comic book illustrators are incapable of telling a story visually. This to me raises the question “who is hiring these people and why?”

Thankfully, I was rarely given any specific panel descriptions by David Mack in his script for SE7EN: ENVY. Most often there was just a simple sequence of actions performed by the character John Doe, and I had to visually match it however best I could to Mack's superb narration.

After reading the script through a couple times and taking some notes, I laid out the pages as small pencil sketches, marking the possible placement of text in red pen. After sending the page layouts to Mack, we worked on the details over the phone, making sure we were in agreement about how the story would be told, and the mood it should convey.

The following is a step-by-step of how I created the dominant panel of page four: (click images to enlarge them)

Using my original thumbnail sketch as a guide, I drew the basic drawing in ink (using Sakura's Pigma MICRON pens on cheap printer paper) and scanned it to Adobe Photoshop at 600dpi.

I then added a flat layer of bright color and a mid-gray layer of shading to the line art.

During the making of SE7EN: ENVY, I created a few dozen hand made paper & ink "textures" using brushes, sponges, sandpaper, woodblocks, and whatever else was on hand. In order to the give the book the dark and gritty feel of the movie, I then combined the textures with the artwork as low opacity Photoshop layers.

I decided to make the background red (I don't plan ahead with color or even give it much thought while I'm doing it), then combined it with the line art , adding in the texture, gray shading and colors.

So far, everything had been flat shades of color, grays, and black. But this is where the real details start to take shape:

I painted some heavy shading for John Doe's body using the Photoshop brush tool, then added a second round of texture - including some "blush" color to the skin. Note that only The Box on the shelf doesn't have texture of some kind.

Now here was the difficult part for me: Adding the blood in all its forms. Blood diluted in water, blood smeared across surfaces, blood trickles, blood splatter, blood soaking through gauze, and raw bloody meat. At this point I'd never done anything quite like this before. But all the comic book stories I've illustrated have been experiments. That's what makes them fun.

Although I added some scanned splatter I'd created in ink, for the most part I painted the blood in thin watercolor-like layers using the brush tool again.

And here's the result:


Once I'd decided to letter SE7EN: ENVY as well as illustrate it, I came up with the look of the captions by tearing dozens of post-it notes into various shapes and scanning them, where I then added some splatter texture and a subtle "aged" color in addition to the text itself.

Here's the finished page:

Thanks for having a look, and check back soon for another episode of SE7EN: Anatomy of a Panel.

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