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INKtober Witches October 31, 2017 00:03

Inktober is a wonderful month. You are encouraged to put ink to paper, which is something I never tire of and wish I did more often. There's no substitute for committed lines on paper, both the experience of doing it, and the final, tangible object that is created: an inked drawing, a little piece of art that is both a statement and a signature. A time traveler that you leave behind.

And whilst you are busied by Inktober, bent over your board with pen in hand, the weather is changing outside your cozy warren! Leaves are turning, winter sprites and baby goblins press their noses to your window to see what you might have for them, coffee stores are offering the stuff you really want: spicy drinks topped with whipped cream and cinnamon. Suddenly having a hot drink in the morning seems a better idea than ever!

Well, with all that in mind, I didn't want anyone to think I haven't been inking in October. Er, Inktober. I have. Almost every day. You see, I'm boarding again, on a new movie. And the best, fastest way for me to board is to just jump straight in and put ink to paper. I've emptied many cartridges of ink through a couple favorite pens I use for just this sort of job. Unfortunately, I can't share any of the hundreds of panels I've inked, since, you know. In production and all. 

But, I have also inked a couple of witches for the Halloween season that I can post! I love drawing witches, and always want to find some fresh angle for them. In the case of these two, I drew one cheerleader witch on her way to a rally, and a witch in a steep dive with her familiar. The diving witch is a rough I've fiddled around with off and on for a year, and I have several variants I'll be trying. Just the steep angle is interesting to me.

Cheerleader Witch inks
Diving Witch inks


Even here in California it eventually becomes cold, and sometimes we almost have weather! Wind, mostly. But that counts as weather here. My wife Jess is from Florida, so she's used to rain. And I'm from Colorado; I know snow and real fall. So we both spend gloomy days in the studio together, pretending it's snowier and rainier than it really is. And it's here we listen to the most dreadful podcasts we can find. Tales of misfortune and disaster, not unlike the short stories I wrote as a child. These are my favorite days. I draw; Jess writes and edits. Sometimes I even draw Jess! She's the rare person I ever try to draw a likeness of. Someday she may let me post one!

Jess is encouraging about me doing drawings, and helps me keep my characters' eyes straight. I, in turn, dissuade her from trapping the ravens that populate our premises. Not to eradicate them, but to befriend them. Jess, you see, gathers creatures of all kinds, and doesn't limit herself if the opportunity presents. At Skywalker Ranch, she collected salamanders that were in a winter torpor. She ran out of room in her pockets and hands, so the last couple got a ride back to our room in her shirt. It was as good a carrying place as any. Jess isn't happy lest she have buckets and baskets of slithering, snapping, hissing, or furry things. Her ideal situation would be to spend the winter in a mermaid grotto filled with furry blankets, books, candles, and eventually a 'possum that she will name "Pumpkin" that will munch on mint Oreos and clasp and unclasp his paws when presented with a melty brie.

For this month, since she has yet to disappear into her hibernation cave, Jess also edited together a video of me inking the cheerleader witch, and set it to some swell music.



These videos are tedious because of the way I ink: turning the paper constantly and frequently leaving it off-center. As soon as I hand Jess the raw video she has a mountain of color-correcting and cutting, reframing, and music syncing ahead of her. But once she is done, she has created a little gem of a video that's a lot of fun to watch. So I must credit her, and thank her profusely for making these. I'd never, ever find the time to do one myself.

So happy Inktober, and Happy Halloween to all!

INKtober 2017: Katrina Van Tassel Edition October 30, 2017 07:00

It's Fall again, the time when thoughts turn to cider, pumpkin carving, and my favorite Disney featurette, 1949's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."

It's also the time of year that my wife Jess dons her amazing Katrina Van Tassel costume and spends the night enjoying the sights and sounds of Halloween-themed Disneyland with me. I dare say, as she floats through the crowds with her pumpkin in hand she really makes the park even more Halloween-ish.

I won't go into my regrets that this most wonderful Disney property seems to have vanished from our collective cultural landscape. People still know all the Disney animated features. The Disney princesses, villains, and core staples fill stores to bursting with mugs, T-shirts, and collectibles of all kinds. Heck, even characters within the rides have become iconic enough to appear on merchandise.

But poor Ichabod, the Headless Horseman, Brom Bones, and the fair Katrina Van Tassel are rarely, if ever, seen. Now, last year Disneyland opened their Halloween parade with the Headless Horseman, and this year he re-appeared, this time accompanied by Ichabod Crane. The Headless Horseman was even on a special Halloween pin for Annual Passholders! So that's encouraging. But Katrina -- the driving force behind the entire story -- is still nowhere to be seen. Thus, I always think it somewhat of a public service that Jess spend the evening traveling the darkened paths from Main Street to Small World, spreading Halloween cheer.



If you read last year's post, however, you'll recall we had trouble getting "Katrina" past Security in 2016 (despite Jess wearing the exact same costume as in 2014 and 2015); rules are tight when it comes to skirt length and width, etc. 

We have gathered through the grapevine that the park's concern is with guests that are costumed so accurately that they might be confused for official face characters. This would be especially odd in the case of Katrina, since she is neither a princess nor is she represented by a face character. Even so, we decided to play it safe this year and not bring the costume to Disneyland.

Instead, Jess suggested that I draw Katrina and we make T-shirts to show our Halloween spirit!

I thought this was a good idea, and I dove in with great enthusiasm. Holy mackerel, Katrina isn't easy to draw! Seems Katrina shares a lot of DNA with Cinderella, who is also hard to draw. Maybe not for some of you, but definitely a challenge for me. She's... subtle. And at the same time I was dealing with her elusive face, the rest of Katrina has some pretty extreme proportions. I actually toned her down a little for my drawing. After many, many false starts, I got a drawing I thought was close enough, and I proceeded to ink and color it. She definitely got a lot better with color, I think.



Jess and I made my drawing into "Team Katrina" T-shirts just in the nick of time, and we proudly represented one of our favorite Disney characters at Mickey's Halloween Party yet again.




This was, I realized, the first time I'd really ever tried to draw an established Disney character (well, outside of the films I've worked on, and those were always in pre-production). I think in the coming months I'll try again with Katrina, and maybe even add in an Ichabod! No promises, but I'll give it a shot! Happy (almost) Halloween, everyone, and don't forget to watch "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"!