Thursday, December 11, 2008

Flying in a Blue Dream

Sam goes crazy and starts pushing not only the limits of his newfound ability, but of his own taboos; from going through a wall, to semi-naked on a crowded street during the day. I was tempted to have him flying over the city, but I decided to use more quirky images to show different levels of freedom. I can’t just wrap my head around an image of a fat guy in his underwear flying over London. Quirky? Sure, but the flying part somehow didn’t sit well with me. It’s like in “the Matrix,” I understand what the filmmakers are trying to say by having Neo zooming through the sky, but to this day I still feel it went too far… and I love the Matrix. So I’ll settle for our would-be-vampire sitting on one of Big Ben’s hands overlooking the city. Originally it was set to be Tower Bridge, but the idea of the white background silhouetting our boy in the distance was too compelling to miss.

This is the last page of the year. I’m off for a few weeks, but fear not, we’re far from done with this little tale of supernatural intrigue. So wherever you are, whatever you celebrate (and even if you don’t), have a great holiday and a wonderful new year. I know I will. I can’t ever thank you enough for your readership, your patience, and kind emails. Peace to all. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Climbing Up the Walls

It can be said that focus defines our reality. The only difference between page 71 and 72 is the fact that, in page 71 our friend is lost, but in page 72 he has a purpose. It’s still his living room and he’s still a recluse, but the situation has changed due to his newfound motivation.

I’m always amazed at the things that come out of our subconscious when we express ourselves through art. In page 71 Sam’s life is in chaos and the payout of the page reflects that. By page 72 he finds a horizon and the layout reflects that as well. I wish I could claim that it was all planned, but the truth is that it’s the product of another “happy accident.” This makes me wonder if somehow we get tuned in to some sort of collective consciousness in which these ideas flow from the ether into our world, who knows? It’s a nice idea anyway.

I want to get one more page up before I’m gone for the holidays. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pagan Poetry

With this page, I really pushed the level of abstraction in order to convey the passage of time. The interesting thing is that in the main panel (the big one) I had done all this detail about Sam’s apartment, but after I was done with the “overexposure” treatment, a lot of it was lost. I had to remind myself the Metasearch maxim, “it’s all about the mood.” After all, that’s why I chose to do this book in such an unorthodox way. In a way, conveying a feeling to a reader is more important to me than the hope that someone notices the magazines Sam reads, or a trail of cigarettes that leads to a pile on his table.

I’ve always admired the ability some artists have to convey something that is actually not obvious. We all remember a movie for being to bloody, or too terrifying, or too graphic when in fact, if we see them again, all of it was suggested rather than shown. So I rather the reader feel Sam’s depression and despair and create their own image of the details of his life, than go through the process of spoon-feeding them. The details might be lost on some, but the mood of the scene is harder to dismiss.
Suggestion always beats presentation, at least in my book. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Monday, December 1, 2008


I can’t help but to smile every time I hit a tenth page. You can call it the “decimal joy,” but since Metasearch is delivered in pages, every tenth one is a little landmark to me. Back from abroad, at least for a little while, I made a commitment to produce as many pages as I can before I’m off again until next year.

When I wrote “Reverie” I decided to so in an unorthodox manner. For example, even though the project’s name is “Metasearch,” it doesn’t really focus on the team of psychics. We barely get to know them, as there is no “origin story.” It is implied that this is not their first case, and their development is more professional than character driven. This bothers some readers because they want to know more. This, of course, was done by design and not some relapse in plot development. Another interesting choice is that the story is told by a secondary character, and a victim as discussed before on this blog. Lastly, since I don’t want to dissect the whole plot, it is intended that we don’t get to know anything about the antagonist until later in the book. I thought it would be interesting to go back to the genesis of the case at a later stage of the story. Enjoy the new page. More to come.

I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Sunday, November 23, 2008


For the flashback on this sequence, I wanted a different approach from the one in pages 51, 52. The reason is because I wanted the latter to be more of a memory, something more subjective (see blog post “The Memory Remains” for more). I wanted the new scene to be a pure flashback. I wanted to take the readers back to this moment, experience it, and draw their own conclusions from it rather than me guiding them. I knew I needed some consistency in style to avoid confusion, i.e. black and white as the main visual representation, but I was looking for a way to give it its own feel. While working on panel 1, page 65 I noticed a mistake on one of my layers. It was a black and white overexposed image that I didn’t know I created. After quickly realizing what had happened, I decided to use the style for this part of the story. I love “happy mistakes.”

I also decided to play it clean, no textures. This gave the panels a very serious tone that the sequence requires. The flashback panels are done in a very different way than the rest of the book. I have to admit that after 68 pages it was refreshing to go into a different artistic approach. As an added challenge, I went and tried to use motion as a graphic element, which is a losing proposition in a static medium, but I couldn’t resist the idea of the foot shaking as a plot “accent.” This is another one of those out-on-a-limb experiments of mine that I hope actually works for the readers.

On the lettering front, I keep getting complaints about readability, and I keep trying to solve them without compromising the look of the book. I made the letters thicker on this page to see if it helps with the problem. I guess time (and the readers) will tell.

I’m glad I got to make another page in November. I have some traveling in my immediate future, but I’ll try to do as many pages as I can. I have to thank alejkhan for the nice Metasearch review at “By Nigh.” You can check it out at: I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Return of the Phantom Stranger

OK, so page 68… I know it has been a while. I started to work on this page at some time during late October, but never got around to finishing it until now. I even fantasized about finishing it for Halloween, but no dice.

As Sam takes us deeper into his world, we continue the deconstruction of the dreadful vampire’s image. I wanted to achieve a number of things on this page. The first one was to have our antagonist interact with the world around him to keep us informed of his psyche. On the art front I wanted to create a transition with the lighting that I haven’t tried before: To mix two different light concepts into one scene. I really like this green hue. Granted I had used green the first time we go to Acantha’s loft. She’s a witch, we are in her home, green doesn’t seem too farfetched. This time around I was looking for that wonderfully sickening neon light green, which casts this hopeless, ill feeling; “Joe vs. the Volcano” anyone? I also wanted to compose the panels with Sam being off center. This is a concept I liked about the movie “Subway,” where director Luc Besson framed his characters off center. I wanted to use this technique in this page to help accentuate Sam’s insignificance. The little scene with the girls looking at our vampire--and he in turn looking back at them smiling and thinking they are checking him out, only to discover they just thought he was some funny looking guy--came from a real life anecdote from a guy I used to know a long time ago. By his late teens he started to think of himself as a self-styled “ladies man” – one look at him and you would understand how far off the mark this poor guy was; a similar event occurred to him while waiting for a subway. I guess the story was filed away somewhere in my brain.

On an interesting note, during Halloween week I spent a lot of time watching all sorts of paranormal shows and horror flicks in lieu of the festivities. One particular show caught my attention. The show was called “Celebrity Ghost Stories.” Gina Gershon’s was creepy, Sammy Hagar’s was shocking, but the one that really caught my attention was ex-Go-Go’s singer Belinda Carlisle. In short, she describes a classic psychic vampire attack that occurred to her while staying at a seedy motel. There it was, in all its cheesy CGI glory: A dark human-like shadow feeding off her. I feel the need to point out that the choice of making Reverie’s vampire red was purely aesthetic. It’s symbolic more than factual… or as factual any of these things can be.

Lots to talk about since I’ve been quiet all this time. The holidays are coming and traveling looms in the horizon. That means more hibernation for Metasearch, but as things are calming down in the work front, I will try to produce as many pages as I can before the mid-December hiatus. For those of you who honor me with your patience for new pages, thank you so much from the very core of my heart. You haven’t forgotten my three little psychics, and I have certainly not forgotten you. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Monday, October 20, 2008

Invisible Kid

In the movie “Fight Club,” they play out the concept of service workers flexing their muscle against the white collar establishment. “We serve your food, we park your cars…” or so goes a line from the film. We all hear about millionaires screwing the little guy; just checkout the news. But if you look at it, cleaning people, valets, waitresses, nannies, etc. can be rather sinister. They bring us food and drink, they roam our house and work spaces, they get inside our cars, spend time alone with your children. These are people who dwell in our personal lives even for a brief moment. So the idea of one of these people using their access for ill is quite frightening. After all, one of the classic rackets of the mob was to cancel trash collection. We might not think about it, but try not getting your trash collected for a week, and you’ll start seeing the problem very quickly. Plus, there are no easy answers to it, are you going to load you car with load after load of trash and drive to a landfill? I think you get the picture.

As a society we have been taught, almost by osmosis, to look down on these types of jobs. Yet, it only takes one viewing of TV shows like “The Worst Jobs in History,” or “Dirty Jobs,” to gain a very different perspective. That’s why I wanted to make Sam a janitor. It plays not only to our socio-economic idiosyncrasies, but because it shows the potential to do evil from an unassuming position. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Friday, October 17, 2008


The purpose of panel 6 on page 65 was to lead the reader to an anticlimax, and page 66 just drives the disappointment home. This is what is called “the reveal” in film, and it means the moment when you unveil a main character. So all these pages, all this build up takes us to this very “huh?” moment in the story. No handsome Goth guy, no suave Eastern European, or brilliant psychopath; just an everyday bloke that you wouldn’t give a second glance.

One of the elements I like about gothic literature is that the antagonist is a tragic figure. Something happens to these characters and the dark inner-most nature of humanity comes out… or is it just humanity’s nature? Anyway, this whole sequence is sad, but it informs the reader about the psychic vampire, and what his life is about, or at least part of the time. Alas, I don’t want to give away too much, so I’ll keep talking about Sam in future blogs. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

These are the Thoughts

Well, what do you know? Page 65 did actually arrive. Looking at it, I can’t help but draw a comparison between panel 1 and Tim Bradstreet’s “Punisher” covers. Also, panel 5 reminds me of the “Obey” logo. I guess I’m in good company. These got me thinking about James “Jim” Steranko, who I believe is the father of Digital Artist.

Back in the 60’s when everybody was doing classic comic book renderings; Steranko was sort of the rock star of the medium. He introduced surrealism, opt art, pop art, and graphic design elements into his run on “Nick Fury, Agent of Shield.” Needless to say, his art was unique and groundbreaking. This Comic Book Hall of Famer had a background in advertising, where he worked as an artist before breaking into comic books in 1965. Jim brought advertising design techniques to sequential art quite successfully. Having myself a graphic design background, I can’t help but drawing a comparison with Jim Steranko. I too apply techniques learned in graphic design, art, and CGI into my work.

I enjoyed playing with the red hue, and the graininess of this scene. Using the grains as a representation of rain being reflected form the outside, really gave this whole sequence a very gritty, creepy feeling. In my never ending exploration of the world of lettering, I shifted the font on Sam’s speech to build the crescendo until the very anticlimactic last panel. Man, I really enjoy working on this thing. Let’s see if Chronos is kind to me and I can keep delivering even on an irregular basis. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Monday, October 13, 2008

Red Rain

No, I can’t believe it either, but finally I got enough time in my hands to do another page. It feels like ages since I posted the last one. The thought has crossed my mind to halt the project until next year when I’m less pressed for time; but when I see people still checking the site everyday waiting for the next page, I feel very compelled to oblige. So thank you for your patience, and your loyalty to the story.

I always imagined this page done in contrast; something ala Sin City. However, it had to fit the overall look of the book, so something that initially seemed quite simple to create ended up being shaped by a lot of experimenting. The vast space, long shadows, and silhouettes are a throwback to the beginning of the story; reclaiming some of its gothic roots. That’s why the last panel on page 63 has McConnor casting some heavy shadows as a symbolic link. I also wanted the scene to be mundane, but the atmosphere had to be creepy. The conversation is rather trivial, but the use of red, which seems like some hellish fire, makes it look threatening and out of place.

I truly hope the wait was worthwhile. With some luck, I’ll have page 65 done by next Wednesday. All I can do now is to keep trying to squeeze some time to keep the pages coming. Once again, thank you for your patience and interest. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hidden Place

It’s been a while since we explored the idiosyncrasies hidden within “Reverie.” So grab your mouse, open your eyes, and let’s have some fun searching for more Easter Eggs. Ready? Here we go:

On Page 31, the poster of the couple dancing and the barely visible soccer poster in panel 2 are both art works done by me for different purposes. They were recycled as props for Metasearch. So is the poster in panel 3, page 33.

The T-Shirt Anya is wearing on page 34 sports the logo of my graphic design company “Merc Designs.”

Anya’s reflection can be seeing on the cup of coffee in page 35

Acantha has a “Witch’s Cauldron” T-shirt on it in page 39, which is the pub Inspector McConnor and Metasearch met to discuss this case.

“Sleep X” on page 45 is another wonderful make-believe brand I invented, and so is the group Johnny Jiu and Ju Ju Five. By the way, Johnny’s T-shirt has another recycled art work. I love designing T-shirts, labels, posters, etc.

The crystal skull on page 48 has nothing to do with “Indiana Jones.” Many years ago, I had an idea for Metasearch involving the aforementioned objects, but it’s still in the “ideas bin.” I just couldn’t resist showing it since there is one at the British Museum.

The gallery Metasearch and McConnor are visiting on page 49 is real. It is called “Living and Dying” and is on display at the British Museum. The art pieces shown on the page are actually part of the collection (including the Crystal Skull).

The “Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows” can be seen on page 58, panel 3 on top of the table. It’s a nod to the movie “The Ninth Gate,” based on the book “El Club Dumas” by Arturo Perez-Reverte, one of my favorite authors.

The names on the Inspector’s notes on page 61, panel 2 belong to: Maila Nurmi a.k.a. Vampira, Cassandra Peterson a.k.a. Elvira, Florina Kendric, Monica Belucci, and Michaela Bercu played the three bride’s of Dracula in the 1992 film “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” Gene Collan is the penciller and co-creator of “Blade,” Roy Thomas and Gil Kane are the creators of “Morbius, the Living Vampire,” one of Spiderman’s foes.

So there you have it. I hope you enjoy this new batch of inside jokes. More will come in due time. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Never Told You What I Do For

Here’s the much delayed page 62! My computer virus is dead. And after a week of being deprived of it, I’m now paying catch-up with all my work including Metasearch. Pages will trickle in from now on since I’m swamped with work, but I’ll do my best to have one new page a week.

This page was definitely one of the toughest I’ve done in a while. The amount of elements I needed to paint was staggering. I wanted to do a large panel with all the main characters in it, and then a reverse of that same shot. The idea was to make the readers feel part of the conversation, as if they were in the room with the characters. I also needed a lot of space to layout large chunks of dialog.

I can’t thank you enough for your patience as I try to keep delivering new pages. It would be easier if I made my living as a professional comic book artist, but until then, I still have my day job. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Virus

There was a page 62 scheduled for today, but midway through the art process my loyal workhorse-of-a-computer started to slow down to a crawl. Two updated anti-viruses and two anti-spyware programs later, and my poor PC was still down and out. Mac users please hold your comments; I agree with you, but unless you pitch in to get me a suped up Mac Pro, I don’t want to hear it. So Metasearch’s powerful engine is currently in the shop getting detox. I’m writing this on my Mac Book Pro (yes, rejoice Apple lovers). And no, files are way too layered and big to be workable in the notebook. In short, that’s why there is no new page today, much to my chagrin I might add. So much for trying to get some pages done before getting buried in work. We’ll see how that goes.

Reading back the old post “Fear is the Key,” about audience engagement being the main ingredient for fear in any medium, I forgot to mention good old fashion ghost stories. It’s truly a magical moment when you get a group of people by a bonfire, and you scare them by the sheer power of words. No images, but the ones in the listener’s heads. There is no music or sound effects. Just tone, pacing, storytelling, and a deep shared primal fear. The only reason it works is because the listeners are willing to be taken away by the story. Otherwise it’s all too damn cheesey.

Let’s hope my computer gets out of rehab in time to get page 62 up on Wednesday. I’ll see you in the page… I hope.

Oddman Out

Friday, September 5, 2008


On second thought, maybe Jae Lee decided to use long panels for “The Dark Tower” because the amount of dialog required. After all, Pater David and Robin Furth are adapting a novel. Maybe it’s all of the above. In short, I like the style and it proved helpful on this page. I wanted to do a sequence with random close ups. I always play with the use of close ups to inform the reader about something specific i.e. panel 2 with McConnor’s notes. This time around I just wanted to relax and be a bit more abstract and just use images to carry the dialog in a way that’s still captivating. I thought this was a perfect place for this layout since this whole scene is heavy on dialog. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Back in Black

Well, I’m back from a great vacation, my batteries are recharged and I’m ready to keep on trucking. And so we arrive at page 60, where finally our five main characters meet, and get to have a powwow about that pesky crimson cloud.

During my travels, I picked up a copy of Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born.” I knew about the novels, but I have yet to read them. Not only did I find the story compelling, but the art had quite a unique feel to it. I’ve always loved Jae Lee’s art. In fact, the font I used to letter most of Metasearch’s dialogs is “CCHellshock,” a font created by Comic Craft for Jae Lee’s book of the same name (sans the CC which stands for Comic Craft). The art in the Dark Tower is enhanced by the great Richard Isanove, and lettered by Chris Eliopoulus. If you have read previous posts, you’ll understand why I pay props to the letterer, a great team indeed.

Fear not, this blog hasn’t turned into a two-cent review. The reason I mention the book is because the idea for the long panels was taken from it. In my quest for variety in each page, I thought that would be an appropriate layout for the scene. I can only guess that Lee decided to use this format to evoke the great western tradition in film, where you have these beautiful shots framed against the vast frontier’s landscape… or maybe he just did it because that’s the way he wanted to. Who knows?

But I digress . . . please sit back, relax, and enjoy. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Throughout these 58 pages, I’ve been delivering Metasearch every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Alas life and work have caught up with me, and hence page 59 arrives a day later. What's more, I’m taking off on a much-deserved vacation for the next two weeks, so Metasearch will be on hiatus until the first week of September. For some time, I’ve been resisting the delivery of the book to less than three times a week, but I’m afraid my workload will force me to do so. I hope those of you who have followed the story so far will understand, and keep honoring me with your time. Like I said before, I’m here for the long haul, and Reverie will be finished. After all, this book is very important to me. I’ll see you in September and I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman out

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hidden Place

I’ve always envisioned “Balefire Books,” Acantha’s esoteric bookstore slash loft, as the kind of place that only occult connoisseurs will know about. Your garden-variety spiritual store is full of mass produced trinkets, soft cover tomes, burning incense, new age music, and announcement boards scheduling a myriad of events. I wanted Balefire to be the opposite: Hard cover books, no music, unique items, and no sponsored events. People will go in asking for something specific like a 1487 edition of the Malleus Maleficarum, pay some good cash and off you go. It would be the kind of place that, if you enter it by mistake, you’ll know immediately that you shouldn’t be there. That’s why this unassuming store is on a one way street. After all, Acantha is the only one in Metasearch that devotes her full time to the supernatural. I even considered taking away the sign out front; maybe I’ll change my mind in the future and remove it. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Friday, August 8, 2008

Fear is the Key

At last Anya gets some sleep via Mr. DeNegro and his prompt intervention… and some badly needed energy healing. You might ask why Gabriel uses telepathy when in astral form and Anya doesn’t. The answer is awareness in the astral plane. Anya’s out–of-body experiences are unconscious and quite accidental; an event is akin to a nightmare. So she acts pretty much as she would in the physical realm. On the other hand Gabriel leaves his body willingly and fully aware; plus it helps being psychic.

On an unrelated subject, I stumbled upon a webcomic community which linked to this blog from their forum. The question posted in the forum was quite interesting “A truly scary comic… not possible.” I have tangled that same idea in this blog for a while. Like I’ve said before, Metasearch is a paranormal thriller not a horror comic. Any dwelling into the horror genre comes from the fact that the stories deal with the unknown, but is not meant to scare anyone. The whole horror genre in comic books is labeled such by their content and not their effects. Television and film have created our modern fictional nightmares. I have yet to hear from theater, although that in itself is an interesting premise. Literature has been the source of many a horror story, but I haven’t read anything that has scared me yet. The only story of this type I have ever encountered was someone who told me he read William Peter Blatty’s “The Exorcist,” and he had to sleep with the lights on for a month. Interesting enough, the original “Resident Evil” game for the PS made me jump a few times, and I was left with a sense of paranoia afterwards. And no, I wasn’t high. Come to think of it, the first “Rainbow Six” game for the PC made me paranoid about going up and down a flight of stairs, but that’s another story.

Based on the video game reference, I can only surmise that fear comes from the level of involvement of the viewer. I played alone at night with all the lights off, a big screen, surround sound, and I was pretty invested in the concept of a person alone in an abandoned mansion. Unlike drama, which is universal, horror and comedy are very subjective. I think the closest reference we can get to answer the fear question in a comic book is photography. Forensic books will make you cringe and shock you, but you will not be afraid that the man hit by a boat’s propeller will come out of your closet and eat you alive. I’ve seen photographs that have stirred all kinds of emotions in me, but never fear. The same goes for books, comics, and plays. Radio has scared me more than once when I was a kid. I was, and thanks to the web still am, a big fan of a radio show a la “Ripley’s Believe it or Not,” and some of the stories haunted me. Radio has the advantage of music, tone, passing, voice, and sound effects. Like a book, the visuals are left to your own imagination. So, I guess immersion is the key. Now good luck figuring that out in a comic book. My art in Metasearch has to do mainly with atmosphere, but how engaged my readers are, is up to them. I can provide the vehicle, but they have to be willing to be taken by the story. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Man Comes Around

Just like Claire had her little moment in the sun on pages 47 and 48, it’s time for Gabriel to claim some of that spot light. I always thought about how that scene would look like when I wrote it. When you’re dealing with things that aren’t tangible, you always run the risk of making them look out of place. I knew they would have to be fantastic, yet they had to be grounded in the reality of the story.

Gabriel’s astral form is no different than his physical body. His abilities in this plane are energy, or light based. I kept the glow of his second chakra (the mind’s eye) blue, as it’s usually described; just like his aura, when it protects him from the psychic vampire’s tentacles. Blue is allegedly the color of protection amongst certain metaphysical circles. The light projecting from his hand is universal energy channeled through him. No, not like the Silver Surfer, but more like prana, chi, ki, or whatever else you want to call it. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)

Instead of doing yet another attack scene in Anya’s apartment, I decided to re-write it into a nightmare sequence. I didn’t make the decision based only on variety, but on visuals. I could go off into a more surrealistic moment in a nightmare sequence, and then hook it up to the real attack. It also helped to make the book darker without having to compromise the reality I already established. Of course, even though we’re dealing with the realm of the extra-physical, I wanted to keep things somewhat subtle.

Films like “The Sixth Sense” and “The Others” take the subtle approach to fear. Yes, there are supernatural elements, but it’s more psychological. I love this approach. Then you have the visceral approach of movies like “The Exorcist” or “Ju-on,” which works as well. There are degrees between them of course, and although Metasearch is in the subtle end of the spectrum, it threads into the visceral side at certain moments. After all, we have a red cloud with tentacles and a face floating about. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Friday, August 1, 2008

War Within a Breath

I have to say, I love this page. Not only was it fun to do, but I love the way it looks. I can definitely say these are the most extreme panels I’ve done so far. I wanted to show a progression with the psychic vampire. The first time we meet him, he is opaque and feeble. But as the attacks continue, he gets bigger, stronger, more substantial, and bright red like a hellish storm. For this latest attack I wanted him to look like blood in water, instead of just a cloud. That would give him an eerie fluidity and substance, more in tune with an extra-physical realm.

This time around I used the voiceovers as a way to show what is going on with the environment. As I create along, I keep pushing my own lettering limitations in trying to be more creative. In panel 2, the blurry letters denoting muffled noise, and the subtle fading of the words in panel 3 to illustrate how sound has become muted. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I thought it would funny to have a phony psychic in the backdrop of Metasearch. The irony of a story dealing with three of the world’s most gifted psychics, juxtaposed with a silly con job was too good to pass up. To make the situation more ludicrous, I wanted our mind reader to be completely fake. Her name, accent, gifts are all false, even cartoon-like. I always thought that if there were people with real paranormal abilities, they wouldn’t advertise themselves, or appear on TV. I think they would have their own lives, professions, regular names, and would keep their supernatural skills discreet. They might use them quietly, or people would know about them through word of mouth. That’s the way Metasearch is anyways. They do have a business card, but that was born out of necessity of some graphic element to represent them. Meaning that if you are handed out that card, you’ve been touched by preternatural forces. Needless to say very few people would posses that card. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Monday, July 28, 2008

White Shadows

There is a nice blend between the end of the flashback, and the end of McConnor’s scene in the rain, where the two respective styles can be seen. I can also see a definite progression from this latest page in contrast with my earlier efforts. Even the lettering has gotten more free, creative, and part of the narrative. This page also gets the unique distinction of being the one that holds the only white, complete panel in the whole book. That was a choice done in final art, when I faced the problem of not relying on sound effects to create a climax. Does it work? You’ll be the judge of that. Part of being creative is to do things that might not necessarily work, but if you don’t try you’ll never know. I’ll keep pushing and hopefully it will all go somewhere… preferably a good place.

So this week was the big Comic Con International, and I didn’t go. It’s been a while since I hit any type of convention, let a long a comic book one. I toyed with the idea of going, but I had no purpose in making the trip. I don’t care about celebrities, previews, swag, collecting, etc. So that pretty much rules out all convention activities. If I make the pilgrimage to
San Diego it would be to peddle Metasearch around, but alas it’s not finished yet. Probably I’ll go next year, if nothing else happens during that time. You never know. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Memory Remains

Throughout “Reverie” there are hints about McConnor’s brush with the supernatural, and his history with Metasearch. Although it was never my intention to reveal exactly what that particular incident was, I always wanted to have a short flashback scene addressing the issue. Of course, this opens up a bunch of other questions, but that’s the whole idea.

I took a stripped down approach to the art. No backgrounds, as we are dealing with memory and the events, people, and dialog are the focus. However cliché the use of black and white in this sort of plot devices, I took a page out of Frank Miller’s playbook and went heavy on the shadows a la “Sin City.” Also, I decided to layoff the textures and allow the brushstrokes to be seen. This gave a surreal feel to the panels. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I’m Only Happy When It Rains

James McConnor comes to us in all his Film Noir glory in page 50. In the different page layouts, I always wanted to have a page with long, rectangular panels, and this scene was perfect for this purpose. Moreover, the fact that he is the only character who has an internal dialog makes the sequence more fitting. The grey lighting was always planned as a mood device, but the rain was a factor I added in final art. Ah, English summers!

I can’t help to draw a comparison between this latest page and Will Eisner’s work in “A Contract with God.” The grit and atmosphere of Eisner’s work is so that you can even smell the city. I’m not diluted enough to think I have achieved something anywhere near his kind of talent, but the images blurred by the rain, the foreboding feeling, and sense of melancholy can be taken from this offering. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Monday, July 21, 2008


Basically, page 49 was originally four pages in the script that took place back at the Witch’s Cauldron, where Metasearch initially talks to McConnor. As I went through the scene I noticed that it could be done in one page, and I didn’t want to repeat the same location. Since Anya works at the British Museum, I thought it would be a cool idea to have the museum as the meeting place. That would give me an opportunity to have some interesting visuals. When searching for reference, I found that the museum had a “Living and Dying” exposition. It’s a gallery about the different takes on life and death throughout cultures. That reinforced my initial inclination of changing locations.

“Reverie’s” script was done a number of years ago, so it is no surprise that changes will and have occurred. Moreover, seeing the finished pages gives you a better sense of the story’s rhythm; so changes will take place in order to keep the plot’s pace interesting. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Friday, July 18, 2008

What Difference Does it Make?

Most web comics have gone back to the newspaper tradition of the strip. These are usually self-contained stories done in a few panels. This format is perfect for the web generation: Visual, quick, and only little text. Websites like Penny Arcade and PVP make the most out of this format. Like mentioned before, the genesis of Metasearch was the graphic novel for print. Therefore there are pages that lack the compact punch of the daily comic strip, like today’s page. My best guess is that “Reverie” is one of those stories that you’ll have to go back and read again after it’s over, in order to truly appreciate it.

There has been a couple of pages that end in a sort of cliffhanger, but if you take in consideration that you have to wait two, or three days (if it’s from Friday to Monday) to find out what happened, it makes me wonder if the impact is still the same. I don’t want to go the way of “Lost” or anything. On the other hand, there is a special involvement between the story and the reader when they have to wait to see the plot unfold. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Anywhere Out of the World

Being influenced by different cultures is always a creative asset. I’m always delighted to read comic books like “Y: The Last Man,” “Queen and Country,” “The Losers,” “Fell,” and so on. It shows me there’s still a healthy creative staple of people out there. Mainstream seems a tad stale. I’ve always compared it to an inbred population: the same people regurgitating the same schlock with a slightly different garnish. A few years ago Whilce Portacio came up with a line of books based on Filipino folklore; I always thought that was an interesting idea, but alas I never saw a single issue of it, nor do I know what happened to that project.

But I digress . . . I grew up watching anime in a time when censorship was kind of lax. So, some of its violence and dynamics were not lost. I was also influenced by European and American comics and film. Furthermore, South America’s socio-political awareness, cynicism, and dark humor became part of my formative years. Introspectively, I’m hard pressed when it comes time to dissecting each influence in my work. I guess there is an American sense of aesthetics and dialog, with European storytelling and feel, complemented by Japanese dynamism and rawness, topped by South American consciousness and irreverence. All of these elements are synthesized into a nihilistic, semi-impressionistic, hyper-realism.

In my opinion, creativity is like genetics: the more diverse the gene pool, the greater the results. As an art form, comic books have taken from Japanese wood carvings to digital art, and everything in between. The results are always amazing. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Monday, July 14, 2008

Light Inside

The self-imposed challenge in Page 46 was to have three different light sources. Usually all pages in Metasearch have a light filter that permeates the whole panel. This time (well, it really started in page 45) I have the light coming from the TV set, a bluish glow (in page 31, it was more of a white wash look). The TV screen is its own light source, and it’s so bright that I decided not to let the overall green tint affect it. Even though I painted shadows in the objects and figures, I wanted to create a sense of depth as well, so background shadows were layered into the scenes to produce the desired effect. Panel 3 on page 46 had the distinctive element of the vampire in the background, which introduces red into the mix, but as the tentacles get closer, they start to be mixed with the blue.

Other elements that I like about these last two pages are the use of text free of the balloon as to denote the sound coming from the TV, and the use of different colors to identify the speaker: white for the talk show host, and black for Johnny. I find this last page resembling more of a poster than a comic book page, which I totally love. The faded insert with Anya screaming was a last minute addition, but I think it takes the point across and it adds, rather then takes away from, the impact of the third panel. Without further ado, I’ll leave you the pages and hope you dig them. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Friday, July 11, 2008


Throughout the script for “Reverie”, I had a few scenes with voiceovers. Sadly, because of composition, space, and clarity, most of them were jettisoned. Page 45 presented a great opportunity to finally have ambience dialog that is not directly connected with the panels. In my opinion, it brings a level of realism to the story, and fleshes out more of the world in which Metasearch takes place.

In this particular voiceover, I had a chance to play with comical elements. Juxtaposing fear and laughter is nothing new. Actually it is quite a natural reaction. How many times have we nervously laughed at a particularly tense or uncomfortable situation? Movies like “An American Werewolf in
London,” and Ghostbusters” mix both in equal quantities to great success. Moreover, as a plot device, it helps to release stress in order to maintain the level of suspense.

It is known by writers that the two hardest things to create are comedy, and horror. So it’s easy to understand why trying to marry both genres is a monumental task. Online self-publishing has the great advantage of experimentation. Now let’s quiet down and listen to what the voices have to say. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Somebody Get Me a Doctor

For what I call “the hospital sequence” (pages 41 to 44), I wanted things to be a little bit different than what I’ve been doing so far. First, I chose to light all the inside setups with a hospital-green sheen for the background, while the characters maintained their unadulterated colors. This is in contrast to the tinted look I’ve used in previous scenes. The little effect with the glass at the reception area came to me as I composed the shots. I thought it would add a cool detail to the panels. The idea of Gabriel using shades inside the hospital came from the concept that particularly strong psychics are known to shield others from the power of their gifts. Since Gabriel was there to read people’s minds, I thought it would be apropos, and I could also do some cool reflections on them.

The collage in page 42, panel 2 wasn’t on the script. The investigation played out quite simply, but by the time I did the breakdowns for the page, I decided to go for a one-panel collage showing each character doing their thing. The idea of the clock was always there, but I chose to take a more surrealistic approach to it by the time I was doing the final art. Also, in the final art of page 43, I got a bit ambitious and decided to play with rain and a change of light; from the vivid colors of the first shot on page 41 to the washed-out first panel of page 43. With the rain came the idea of puddles, and that gave birth to the idea of panel 4 in page 44. Again, all of these were done in the final art stage. The cab sequence was pretty much designed that way in the breakdowns, with the exception of the reflection of the protagonists panel 2, page 44.

The precognition sequence with Acantha was scripted and designed that way, but in the final stage, I added the rain drops and that awesome texture to the images that gave it such a great, disturbed appeal. Furthermore, by the time I was lettering the page, I thought it would be cool to add a voice over from Claire, but the words and the balloons would be blurred, as if to give the effect of muffled noise while Acantha was in her trance.

These four pages really came to life in the final stage of production; with ideas growing out of the panels, concepts, as well as my own imposed challenges. I love the fact that even after I had scripted and prepared my scenes, there is still room for improvement. The process had become quite organic as the new ideas I came up with spawned some of their own. I’m so happy Metasearch is still a source of both wonder and learning, even at this latter stage. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out

Monday, July 7, 2008

Whiskey, Mystics and Men

In trying to keep Metasearch grounded to a certain level of realism, I’m often faced with the conundrum of how to approach the supernatural. It is always tempting to go off and create outlandish imagery to convey the phenomena. However, I try to stick to an artistic, yet conservative take on the paranormal. Claire’s empathic ability plays out like a movie, but it’s tainted by whatever emotion is prevalent in the memory. In pages 14 and 15, Harry’s panels are tainted in red, while Lydia’s and her daughter are tainted in blue; anger and fear. Claire’s telemetry is a series of sepia flashes, or cut scenes. Gabriel’s conversation with Mr. Sims in the astral plane (pages 7 to 9) is depicted by bright colors and no shadows (everything is composed of its own light). Also, his telepathy is implied in conversation (page 22 panel 1), and in the lettering (page 42 panel 2). Acantha’s medium skills are shown in her eyes and voice (pages 11 and 12), and in page 43 we can see her precognitive gift as a somewhat abstract collage.

These are all quaint ways to show something otherwise extraordinary. However, this is not the kind of book you’ll see those wonderful Kirby-esque energy crackles, psychic butterflies, or phoenix shapes. To me “Reverie” was written for the engaged reader; one who catches subtleties, and is immersed in the plot. In a world where instant gratification is highly desired, subtleties are just another casualty.

I often find it gratifying to find new things in stories I’ve revisited. I might have gotten the big picture, but as I dwell more in the details of the story, it acquires a deeper dimension. I hope some of that depth permeates “Reverie,” and that every time someone reads it again, they are delighted to find another piece of the puzzle. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out