The sun is shining (mostly), the water is nice and warm (after heating) and the kids are happy (on and off). Other than being a tourist I have been catching up on comics such as Ms. Marvel, One Piece and old Deus Ex tie-ins. Do not fret tough, soon the store is going to get some nice new prints and Curly will be updating as usual, however in the mean time, relax and enjoy the summer, folks!
Giving the old site a complete overhaul since I was no longer satisfied with how Comicpress worked and the fact that it is no longer supported by the author. Over the weeks there are gonna be some major changes on the site so if some stuff looks like it is missing there is no need to worry. The site will be up and be running smoothly by the end of summer. Until then pop in now and then, grab a cold one and watch the work in process!
I began to draw Curly back in the summer of 2011, it started off with loose sketches and idéas, however, I did not have a fully formed concept that was manageable. That all changed after a stroke landed me a nice uncomfy bed at the local hospital. When you are in a hospital, times starts to move at a slow crawl and the highlights of the day consist of the mealtimes. The space in between is just like filler episodes of a telly series, empty and mostly boring after a while and not advancing the plot even the slightest.
Left alone with my own thoughts, I started to combine different concepts and idéas that I had over the years for a supernatural comic. I had one character that was cursed by gypsies (classic, cliché, done to death but still salvageable) and another about a selfish traveling con artist, just living a dishonest but eventful life. For the first character, I had many things figured out storywise, but the protagonist had no visual elements that distinguished him or any kind of backstory. The con artist had all of that but no story to be thrown into. What a gordian knot!
So of course, when I had an infinite time every day to just think, ponder and muse I had the epiphany to combine the two characters into one, and lo and behold, Curly was born! After that most of his misadventures were writing themselves in my head and when they wheeled me out the front door (not really, we do not have that custom in Sweden, I skipped out on crutches…) I was ready to start writing and drawing!
…and yet not. The fine motor skills in my hands were blown to heck, me life was forever changed and blah blah. You know the story, we do not have to digress more than we already have.
Artistically speaking I was strongly influenced at the time by Floyd Gottfredson, nowadays mostly known for his Mickey Mouse comics back in the early 30’s and about 45 years forward. His flowing motions, telling facial expressions and the way to draw big black eyes had me caught. I decided to add some elements of his style when designing Curly while letting most other characters be drawn with normal eyes. This is to distinguish Curly visually and give him a unique look. It’s an aesthetic choice that may or may not come back and haunt me later, anyhow, I am rather pleased how the design turned out.
The sum of this wall of text is that art kinda saved me. I have always loved comics and concept art so when I was as most ill, I would dwell on sites such as creaturebox.com, Skottie Young’s Marvel comics, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy etc. and study every line and shadow drawn. I wanted to draw again, I wanted to improve. So I started sketching, and drawing and breaking pens in frustration. The first Curly chapter, Lonely Ghost, came from this struggle, and it was my therapy. Sure, that chapter kinda looks like a unpolished turd in a homemade tuxedo, but it is my unpolished turd in a… erhm… well, you get my point, I hope… Will I redraw it one day? Perhaps, but as for right now, it is a reminder of where I started off and how far I have come since then. I still have a long way left, but life is a road, right? And roads are meant to be traveled.
One of me first memories is from when I was a wee lad, is struggling to read a TMNT comicbook. It was sunny outside and I was dressed in nothing other than a t-shirt and shorts, so me best guess is that it was summer. We still lived in fathers construction trailers that he bought for work (he used to build houses, the irony is not lost on me) so I had to be around four years old. I already knew a few words and phrases that I could distinguish from the word balloons or have me mother read it out loud for me, but more often than not I just made up me own stories while looking at the panels. And when the pages came to an end, I sat down and drew me own continuation (hey, I even had TMNT glasses with Raphael on them later on, so big fan). I draw them stories forever, letting the turtles battle it out with their enemies, batman, whoever I fancied them to meet on the page. It was liberating, it was fun and for me parents it was a blessing because that meant I sat still and shut up so they could get a wee bit of piece and quiet. I remember that issue of the heroes in a half shell with fondness, for in a way, it led me to the path I am on today, even if the memory is blurry and I can only remember about two panels (Times Square filled with taxis, some of them driven by Footclan members and a sequence where the turtles drives trough a wall and mows down their ninja archrivals with the turtle van).
The point is, I love telling stories just as much as I love to experience them. May it be from reading a good book or comic, watching a tv-series or a flick, not to mention picking up the controller and play a really good video game. I love that, it is like a drug to me and there is tons of more ways to tell stories nowadays. A really good story can stay with you for long after you finished it, especially when you realise that you are walking around thinking about a character or a group almost like old friends, remembering your time together or trying to figure out what will happen next. Right now I find myself thinking like that about the characters on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, or remembering the time I had with the horror game Until Dawn.
When I write me comics or short stories, it is a process. I try to evaluate every nook and cranny to see if the story makes sense, if the decisions the characters do is something that feels natural depending on their personality that I tried to build up. Sometimes I can sketch half a forest worth of manuscript only to later scrap it all by throwing it in the trash bin, just because it did not feel natural or made any sense. I have never held Deus ex machina solutions in high regards, especially if they just drop out of thin air when a character has painted themselves into a corner. If there is a well done build up towards it, okay, but not otherwise. And I am not saying that me webcomic Curly is unique, it is not. But I do hope that it is well written. Maybe I tend to play with the clichés or take a well know concept or formula in me stories, however at the same time I do hope that I tell the story well enough with its own twists and turns to make it enjoyable. To make the classic concept me own. I mean, a horror story about a family of cannibalistic hillbillies is not really créme del a créme del a Edgar, now is it? But I did it in me own way, in a way I wanted to tell it and I hope that I did leave subtle enough hints and background to why they became this way and what not. Enough to make sense, to fit into the world of Curly and build on it.
The master of storytelling (not just horror) Stephen King once wrote that he dislike plots. Because if you let the plot rule, the characters becomes secondary. If the characters get to rule, you can put different members of the cast in a specific situation and not of them will come to the same solution. They will react in manners that are natural to their personalities and it can change the whole plot, or turn it upside down and back again. It is organic. A plot on the other hand can force the cast to go out of character just so it will benefit the plotline. It is, in loss of other ways to express myself, a hell of a nasty trap to balance around without falling in. Even if you are on your tip toes it can still go awry, just because you made the decision to let something happen just because it was convenient. Alfred Hitchcock always maintained that the build up is the most essential and important part to any situation. If someone is going to get shot with a gun, do not just conjure it up from thin air, show it some scenes or moments before it is necessary for the character to use. If a bomb is about to explode, let the hostages become angry, emotional and sad, not just afraid and praying. Do I do that? I hope so. Do I compare myself to Stephen King and Alfred Hitchcock? Hell no, but the insights these two masters have to share is way too good to not to mention. I am but a mere student struggling in their, and countless others, shadow.
But do you know what the best with shadows are? They are cool and refreshing and a really nice place to relax in when the sun starts to scorch on a hot summer day. I do believe that this rambling wall of text has gone on long enough for now. What did I want to say with it? Only that I hope that I write me stories well enough for you readers to enjoy them. And maybe, just maybe, will you one day think back on Kaz and Curly with some fondness or wonder what will happen next with excitement. Because if you do, that means that I have succeeded beyond what I could ever hope to accomplish. For in a way, I am still that wee four year old lad, struggling to make sense of the written story, all while making up more of it.
The other day while my mother, the medium known as Melchiora (not even kidding, my mother is a psychic), was in town to meet and great our new baby boy Gabriel into the world, I found myself helplessly listening to one of her tedious stories of relatives long since gone. However, I did have my sketchbook at the ready so I could occupy myself all while my ears were starting to ache and fall off. I had an itch to draw some fan art and decided on good ol’ Shazam (also known as Captain Marvel in the good ol’ days!) but my hands told me something else.
I might have mentioned it once or thrice on twitter that I live with a condition called Fibromyalgia, with just a hint of Parkinsonian tremor and disturbed nerve-endings, since the tender age of 23. So that was it, my hands were shaking and the pencil lines became… squiggly. Real squiggly… like even my two year old thought it looked bad… But shame on those who gives up, right? I finished my sketchy wee doodle and thought to myself:
“Well this looks horrible!”
In the old golden days of artsy stuff, that would had been it on a bad day. On my good days I am rather good with the pen, some might even say great (wifey that is). But on bad days… oh the horror… Fortunately we live in an age of technological marvel! I took the horrible creation that I doodled down in my sketchbook and scanned it in, opened up Photoshop and started working. Those squiggly lines became straight and dynamic, in all the chaos order was born and something closer to what I had in mind came to be. It might not be in the same class as those top notch masters over at Marvel and DC Comics, and I did do him in my “cartoony comics” style and not aiming for anything realistic, but that is well beside the point.
I had a bad day where my fine motor skills were thrown out the window and usurped by tremors and pain. That did not stop me, since in this day and age if you can not be a practical artist you can become a digital one. And that is good enough for me, especially since I do this for a living and a pleasure. I am happy and grateful to be living in the modern digital world, it suits me rather well.
And with that I must end this wee piece of romanticized retelling of a simple piece of fun doodling, not only to put on a fresh batch of joe, but to change me shirt since I got baby puke all over it…
After a couple of weeks of refreshing vacation time, with Christmas celebrations, new years whiskey and time spent with the family, we are finally back online again!
Next week will see the continuation of this wee Curly story, with regular updates to follow. An updated portfolio has been put online and I even had time for some 3D modeling these last few days. However, it is back to business as usual. I am very excited to be back in front of the keyboard, just love me work I guess.
More to follow these coming weeks, hope to see ya’ll here!
Now when the holidays are just around the corner it is time for some well deserved time off.
Time to cuddle up in the sofa with yer favorite book and a warm comfy blanket, sipping some hot cocoa while another cheesy but still lovable ol’ Holiday flick plays in the background.
Curly will also take a couple of updates off and come back fresh at the beginning of next year, concluding the current cannibal bog trotters story arc. And boy oh boy do we have some treats for ye next year! Aliens, Vampires, Toilet monsters and much, much more! Be sure to stay tuned peeps! Exclamation marks at the end of every sentence!
For those of ye chaps that just can nay get ’nuff of me, be sure to follow me twitter for some regular and irregular updates!
So, with that I’ll leave ya’ll with this wee ol’ Fan Art picture I threw together. Recognize that bear ol’ Curly is yapping with? Well that is Theo, a supernatural detective from Stockholm, Sweden! More about that fella over here if ye’re interested: www.theoshome.com
I’m now available on Patreon for pledges, donations and handouts! Why sit in a street corner when you can do it in front of your own computer?
Help funding my storytelling and I’ll continue to feed you with stories, animations and other stuff!
Pledge here: https://www.patreon.com/LarsLasse?ty=h
(Note: Patreon seems to have mislaid some of my higher goals and rewards).