Thursday, December 31, 2015

Her Majesty's Bravest Son Poster - Badin and The Secret of the Saami

What better way to start the new year than with a new Badin and the Secret of the Saami poster?

The Queen of Sweden’s adopted son must save her Kingdom from Destruction—But not without a sacrifice.

This one features the first public image of Gustav Badin as he appears in the graphic novel (he will be illustrated at various stages in his life, but mostly during his childhood). For the first time in world history, this fascinating Swedish man is depicted as the main character in a sequential art presentation (fancy words for 'comic book'). I am so proud and excited to feature him as the complete opposite of how so many others have shamefully portrayed him. As proven in the translation of his diary, the English- and Swedish-speaking world now knows he was a brilliant and honorable man.

So I need all of you to take this poster and avatar and tell the world about him. In Badin and the Secret of the Saami, he is the hero and the most bravest son of the Queen of Sweden, Lovisa Ulrika. Although my graphic novel is historical fiction, Badin was the adopted son of Queen Lovisa Ulrika and she loved and trusted him as much as her own children.

All of Sweden, those of Swedish descent, and those who love a good story will not be disappointed. I want to put Badin in the spotlight. I want to put Sweden in the spotlight. I want to put the Saami people in the spotlight. There is so much I want to tell you. However, that would be cheating. So stay connected and never miss an update.

You can order a beautiful high resolution print of this poster from TheBlackRhino Deviant Art website.

Download the avatar:

Download the social media version for your Twitter, Facebook or other site:

First 4 Pages Done - Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Abstract close up from a panel on page 4
Badin and the Secret of the Saami is a grueling project. I have never worked so hard on a daily basis in my life. In addition to my regular photo retouching and illustration businesses, there is this mountain of a graphic novel that I am slowly climbing.

I am working daily and am fueled only by the vision of seeing it completed. So far, with 4 pages complete—ink, color and lettering—I only have 76 to go. That's easier said than done. However, as I work, I am becoming better and faster at drawing and using Manga Studio 5EX. During this entire process—which started in May, 2015—I have immersed myself in art books, videos and various drawing exercises. One of the recent books I am finishing up is called Extreme Perspective for Artists by David Chelsea. I have never read anything more technical and fun about art like this book. I have been trying to employ some of the concepts from this book into Badin and the Secret of the Saami. But it is a highly specialized book. To get more into the history of King Gustav III, I have also been reading Drottningholm, Palace by the Lakeside.

The most exciting part of this project so far is seeing the main characters come alive: Badin, King Gustav III, Princess Sofia Albertina and the Queen Mother Lovisa Ulrika. It is very emotional, in fact. As I said to my wife with tears welling up in my eyes, I wish Badin was still alive to see what I am doing. I have also grown to adore the Queen Mother, Princess Sofia and King Gustav III during my research. All of them walk and talk to me in my imagination.

I truly hope you will purchase and enjoy Badin and the Secret of the Saami when it is finished. I certainly am enjoying working on it.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Lots of Bad Weather for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Lots of rain in this sneak peak of Act 1
For you non-Swedes, discussion about weather—on land and on sea—is not treated as small talk in Sweden. This has been the way since anyone can remember. In fact, much of the diary by the real Gustav Badin (nee Couche) is comprised of various weather reports.

So let it be no surprise that both lousy and pleasant weather will be a big part of the environments I illustrate in Badin and the Secret of the Saami. It is not easy to draw scenes with inclement weather. Rain and wind during the day or night is tough. However, that challenge provides opportunities to be very creative.

I am so excited about this project. I am working during the day and night (even while laying in bed, trying to fall asleep, I am working on it) to make this the best creative endeavor I could ever do. One of my most frequent prayers is for Allah (God) to give me all the power needed to keep healthy and alive and see this thing to the end. I want to make all Swedes proud of the story (especially those of Saami and African ethnicity). Moreover, if you are not Swedish, my goal is to make you feel Swedish.

Your support of this endeavor will not be in vain. Spread the word. Put some banners on your social media websites. Tell your friends. The Secret is out!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Page 1 of Badin and the Secret of the Saami Was Brutal

A small abstract from a panel
It has been a rough ride, but I did it: I completed page one of the first act of Badin and the Secret of the Saami. I completed it. That is, penciling, inking, coloring AND lettering. Yes, I did it all. I even changed a few panels and dialog. It took all week! But frankly, I could not resist it!

Surely, I had a good plan. But I couldn't keep thinking about what it would look like in color and lettered. So I made it happen. The more I worked on it, the more symbolism became the overarching theme in throughout the page's composition. I will surely make revisions to it over time. However, it was a great morale booster to pull it off.

I am proving to myself many things by completing page one in the manner. Color, shape and content is definitely going to dominate this work. Critically, many seasoned comic and graphic novel readers and creators will probably hate it. However, I am not doing this for them nor am I doing it because I want a job as a comic book artist (if you follow this blog, you know what I'm describing). I also proved to myself I can do something extremely difficult. Believe me. This project is all-consuming and I am obsessing over it.

The above abstract is from a small section in one of the panels. I shall leave its interpretation up to you. Meanwhile, it is time to set up the pages and layout for page 2. I am behind schedule.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Act 1 Artwork Begins for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

Somebody or something from page 1
I am excited! So excited, I stayed up until klockan två på morgonen (2 o'clock in the morning) working on the first page. At left is an abstract from a panel on that page.

Unfortunately, most of the time spent was recalling and looking up all the skills I forgot regarding Manga Studio 5EX layout functions. However, thanks to Liz Staley's Mastering Manga Studio 5EX and her Manga Studio Cookbook, I was able to figure out what I did (and fix some problems I made while trying to fix it). I also spent alot of time finalizing a satisfactory workflow and test my new fonts.

Once I get in the groove, I'll zip through pages much faster than 3 panels every 2 hours (!). At least I hope that will be the case. However, with a project like this, one really needs to plan far in advance regarding page layout and overall design of the book.

So far, it seems I'm most comfortable looking at my thumbnail sketches on the desk and working digitally from loose penciling (from composition shapes, gesturing, etc), lettering and inking. That will save a step of scanning my thumbnail sketches. Color is not something I want to deal with until the entire Act 1 is complete. My goal is to ramp up to at least 1 page a day. It is going to be hard, but I think I can do it if my stock illustration sales continue to grow.

As always, I appreciate your support and spreading the word about this amazing project.

Badin and the Secret of the Saami Fonts

After hours of research for which fonts to use inside Badin and the Secret of the Saami, I have settled on the OpenType versions of Silver Age and Whitechapel. I found them on Blambot. Of all the font companies offerings—free and paid—these two are the best for my needs and budget.

Since the story contains Swedish and Saami words, having typefaces with diacritical marks is crucial. I also plan to have Swedish and Saami versions of the graphic novel. So free fonts won't suffice. The situation requires purchasing professional font sets.

Most of the lettering for the graphic novel will be done in lower- and upper-case  Silver Age. Whitechapel is used for smaller—but very important—sections. Exactly what that portion is will be a surprise for you.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Act 4 Thumbnail Layouts for Badin and the Secret of the Saami

At left are the thumbnail sketch layouts of the fourth and final chapter of Badin and the Secret of the Saami. This was the most difficult act to sketch. The ending of the story is very, very emotional and I had to put myself in the shoes of all who were involved. Eye-catching composition was also critical. I made quite a few minor changes for the art direction and dialog in the script! Writing the final scenes brought tears to my eyes. I think some of you will experience tears when you read it as well.

It is past one o'clock in the morning ("klockan ett på morgonen" in Swedish) and I promised myself I would stop staying up late. I know. I know. But my personal life has been in a state of turmoil and late, late nights have been the only time I can work on this project.

As I have written before, this project is very much alive and the calling I have to do it is bigger than my own trifling problems (trifling compared the racial and social strife consuming the world as I write this). Is it going to solve such problems? No. But it will help and it will inspire others to do greater things.

What is next? There are a few pages with sketches and panels that require revisions. These were pages that I did not like visually, but I did not want to stop to work on it. Typically, when I work out the panels I make very messy pencil gestures in a sketchbook and figure out composition. As we get closer to publishing, I'll be sure to share some of those things. I've got a book full of them! After that, I'll scan the layouts and begin building the pages in Manga Studio 5EX. From there, I plan to do "loose" penciling based on the thumbnail sketches and then move to "lettering" (placing text). After that comes inking and color.

Although I expect to self-publish, there is a chance a book publisher may want to give it a chance. So I plan to complete Act 1 entirely and then follow the step-by-step production process for the other three acts. Meanwhile, I'll still promote it with posters and teasers as planned (a new poster is due out next month). Did you get your poster?

Knös the Giant in Swedish

Cover for the Swedish version of Knos the Giant
It has been over 2 years since I first introduced the world to a Black Swedish character called Knös the Giant (also in Swedish Knös, Jätten). I combed through quite a few Swedish folktales and settled on one of the most symbolic in my opinion.

While in the Swedish city of Söderköping as a guest for television show Allt För Sverige, I was inspired to tell stories about non-white Swedish children. At the time, I had to study a number of Swedish children's books and movies for a competition. The lack of non-white characters was a little disturbing—especially since I knew I was half-Swedish and I met so many other Swedes that looked like me. When I enthusiastically shared this idea as a collaboration project with one of the other Americans, it was promptly shot down. But I was not going to let that stop me.

So now, in 2015, I am finally putting in more time to promote Knös the Giant and The Swedish Girl of Motala. Yesterday, I released the Swedish language version of Knös the Giant. It is called Knös, Jätten. This took alot of work and I got some great help from translator Simon Hästo and editor Kay Hutchings-Olsson.

I hope to have the Swedish version of The Swedish Girl of Motala within a month or so. While I am doing this, I am also working on a graphic novel called Badin and the Secret of the Saami, my regular stock illustrations and Photo Grafix. My plate is full and I am excited about the future. Your support and encouragement over the years has been a big part of keeping me going.