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

Friday, July 4, 2008

She Loves Me/She Loves Me Not

Many moons ago, I read an article in Wizard Magazine about why women were a minority as far a comic book readership is concerned. Granted this was an article written in the nineties, when comic books became highly oversexed. In a nutshell, the article said that most women were not really engaged in big, macho guys beating the crap out of some monster with an impossibly large gun (I will not get into the symbolism of the matter), and being surrounded by gravity-defying women wearing something resembling a band aid. I can see the point in that. Fast forward to 2008, and I was reading in Wired Magazine about the incredible female readership manga has. Why? There are manga that cater to things women find engaging in a comic book. The article mentions story and relationships as the main draw. Now, do keep in mind that these are generalizations, and that there are exceptions to every rule. Where am I going with all this? Let me explain.

Early on, when I decided to write graphic novels, I wanted to write stories that would appeal to women as well as men. The logic was (and still is) that if a woman finds what I’m writing interesting, it is a good story. It takes a casual walk through any comic book store to realize that keeping a male audience engaged is not that hard. Hell, some companies have been built out of catering to the more basic male needs. As I was once told proudly at a comic book convention: “If your books have to do with scantily-clad babes, bring them to us!” I have no problem with scantily-clad babes, God bless them all, but as a writer I want to go for something a little more sophisticated. Besides, the muscle-bound hero, semi-naked babe, slugfest-loving market is well represented. They certainly don’t need another person grinding the same stone.

Anyway, I felt quite satisfied as a writer when I discovered women enjoyed my work. I guess I can say “mission accomplished” in that regard. To me, a good story is a good story regardless of the medium. I know of women who loved playing Myst, who love reading comic books and who love watching sci-fi. And no, they don’t live in a basement and play Magic on Friday nights. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman out

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Working Man

Having a life, working, and doing a web comic that updates three times a week is no easy feat. People might consider Metasearch my hobby, but to me it’s a second job. A job I love, but it’s hard work nonetheless. Not that I’m complaining. I guess the hardest thing is to be vigilant about producing the book. I always say that if I don’t take it seriously, no one will. Some people are even mystified by the fact that I’m so adamant about keeping up my self-imposed publishing schedule. Can’t really blame them, as I don’t get a salary for it, I answer to no one about it, and since the novel is still in its web infancy, the readership is still growing. So why do I care if comes out on Monday or next Thursday? I believe that if you want to be professional at anything, you should act like one.

My father once told me: “Consistency, hard work, and discipline are the keys to success.” The older I get, the more truthful this maxim gets. There’s an artistic need that is met by doing my graphic novel. There’s also some gratification when readers tell you they enjoy your work. But there is an inherent feeling of satisfaction in carrying a task to completion no matter the payoff (if any). A blue collar concept perhaps, and sadly, one that’s almost extinct in today’s society. I’ll end this rant with one of my favorite quotes.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The Slogan “Press On” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” Calvin Coolidge 1932

I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out