The Birth of Üb

July 30, 2014

01-The-Birth-of-Üb

This is my first digital painting. I was scared shitless to do it, but I did it anyway, and when it was finished, I literally jumped around my apartment chanting “fuck all the haters.”

Here’s the lesson, kids: self-loathing is stupid. Afraid you’re not good enough to do something? Do it anyway. The worst you can do is fail, and sometimes that’s the best possible thing that could happen to you. Art is trial and error, and it’s the best kind of trial and error, because nothing’s going to effervesce and burn your face off. (Unless your a glassblower, in which case, try to succeed more than you fail.) The more you fail, the more you figure out what doesn’t work and do it differently next time.

Damn, I could leap through the ceiling right now.

The Üb-Antal

June 16, 2014

This is the first chapter of A History of Thanova, which is a narrative version of the stories I’ve been writing as the foundation of The Big Crunch. I’m hoping to do a few illustrations for each chapter, something stylized and a little different than what the comic will look like. Until the new website is up, this chapter is here for your bedtime reading. Some suggested listening:

In the beginning was the Big Bang, and in the Big Bang, Üb was born.

Üb was a creature of infinite energy, her beauty as vast and ineffable as the blossoming Universe itself. In a single moment, Üb lived for an eternity, as everything that was and ever would be roared through her veins, drowning her in ceaseless knowledge and euphoria. In that same instant, Üb was destroyed.

The burgeoning cosmos broke Üb into countless fragments. Waves of plasma washed her remains to the farthest shores of reality, where they floated in the abyss for eons. Matter coalesced. Galaxies ignited. The remains of Üb fell deep into the stars, like seeds into warm soil. Inside the stars, the remains of Üb fused with the newly forged elements, sprouting nerves and tendrils and membranes, until one by one, the children of Üb burst from their fiery cocoons, screaming and convulsing with the memory of their shattered mother.

At first, the Üb-Antal were lost and frightened. They hovered by their stars, gazing into the light years between them and their brethren like fledglings on the edge of their celestial nests. After ages of trepidation, their loneliness finally outgrew their fear, and they began to venture outward in search of their siblings. Many were unmade by pulsars and supernovae. But the Üb-Antal who survived found each other, forming inseparable tribes within each galaxy. They felt no lust or hunger, so they competed for nothing. Instead, they were bound together by an unspoken purpose, to one day meld their beings and be resurrected as their mother Üb.

This purpose, though, would only lead to longing. None of the Üb-Antal could fathom a power great enough to merge them, nor were they courageous enough to brave the oceans of darkness between galaxies. So each tribe remained an island, as the unforgiving currents of dark matter carried them further away from each other.

 

The Milky Way was a comparatively peaceful galaxy, which allowed its Üb-Antal to contemplate more than just survival. The elders flew somberly from star to star, gathering up the newborns and giving them a comfort they had not received at their own births. Meanwhile, they absorbed the mechanisms that guided the Universe, their minds growing brighter with each uncoiled mystery.

The Üb-Antal believed that only a complete understanding of reality would reveal how to achieve the rebirth of Üb. But despite their immortality, the minds of the Üb-Antal were finite. As their knowledge increased, they were forced to cull through their own consciousness, erasing eons of data to clear space for more. The time had come to build an external system of records that could harness knowledge for them, which meant an end to their itinerate life. Billions of years after they first emerged from the stars, the Üb-Antal of the Milky Way would claim a planetary home.

The Üb-Antal surveyed the planets and were quickly disheartened. Planets to them were as ephemeral as flowers, annihilating each other and spiraling into swollen stars. None would provide a foundation sturdy enough for their libraries. In desperation, they stifled their fears and pointed their hunt towards the deep interior of the galaxy.

As long as the Milky Way had existed, the Üb-Antal had avoided its center. It was a tumult of rogue planets, cataclysmic stars and scalding radiation, forces that could obliterate even the most robust of Üb’s children. But as their brains overflowed, their resolve grew stronger. They plunged into the storm, and as they scoured the light years for a suitable planet, they felt the foreboding pulse of a monumental power—something ancient and ferocious, sinking talons of unrest into their souls.

The storm cleared. The Üb-Antal halted. There at the very center of the galaxy was the behemoth whose silent growls had shaken them. It was the Void.

The Void was a black hole a billion times as massive as any sun, with a diameter that stretched for millions of miles. It regurgitated nothing of what it consumed—no light, no sound—only the jettisoned debris of unfortunate bodies that lumbered too close to its maw. Here was the ominous drum that beat the march of stars and planets, whose pendulous gravity touched every molecule in the galaxy. The Void was the period at the end of every sentence, death made perfect by its simplicity.

The Üb-Antal gazed into its unrelenting depths. Without speaking, their fear subsided, as a revelation breached their inundated minds. The infinite density at the core of the Void was the only power in the Universe that could merge the Üb-Antal into one. In the heart of that black hole was their hope for rebirth.

The Üb-Antal resolved to live in the sanctuary of the Void until every one of their siblings could be gathered there. Within its shade, they found a wealth of elementary particles ripe for harvest. They would no longer waste ages searching for the ideal planet.

They would build one.

 

The Üb-Antal fell back to a star called Egre’tal. Their craftsmen knelt into its flames, hammering out the spires of the Geonome. It was an iron-crystal sphere the size of Earth, woven like helices of genetic code. When it was completed, they hoisted its sails into the Voidwinds, piloting the Geonome into a nebula rich with elements. For millions of years, it accreted particles according to its design, compiling the raw materials for the birth of the planet Obescuron.

When the accretion was over, Obescuron was a stagnant, frozen world. To give it life, the Üb-Antal would have to thrust it into orbit around its adopted black star. They found a small, errant moon called G’eshtri, and with the might of the entire tribe, they hurled it at Obescuron’s equator. It shattered, casting hot meteorites across the surface, rocketing Obescuron into a precarious rosetta orbit around the Void.

As Obescuron gained speed, the tidal forces of the Void pumped its core, pushing hot magma through its veins. Lava spilled into a trough along the equator called the Ankalla Belt. It melted the oceans, which effervesced into atmosphere. Obescuron’s heart was now beating.

The Ankalla Belt split Obescuron into two hemispheres with symmetrical regions. Bordering either side of the Ankalla were the indomitable Tasht’agi Mountains. Heading north and south, these receded into the Cratered Planes, where the shards of G’eshtri had struck Obescuron and gnarled the landscape. The planes fell into the Echoing Oceans, so crystalline that one could see miles below the surface. They rose into the Violet Lifelands, where a paradisiacal climate would one day host life. Lastly, inlets and peninsulas swirled together to form the Polar Crowns.

As Obescuron assumed its final shape, the Üb-Antal descended through its lilac clouds. They set foot on every region, shifting their forms to reflect the unique features of each landscape they touched. If they could have shed tears, the flood would have washed the mountains into the sea. The children of Üb were almost home.

May Sketches

June 10, 2014

May was a tough month, kids. Sickness, travel, job transitions and no shortage of the blues. But I got to spend a lot of time with family, and June seems to be less tumultuous, all told.

A couple of weekends ago, I visited my mom in Charlotte. She got me addicted to Poirot, a BBC mystery series that I was hitherto unaware of. It was a great chance to sit and draw, just for the sake of drawing.

It’s so easy to forget the joy of drawing, isn’t it? I wonder why that is. As kids, we don’t think much about drawing. We just do it. As adults, we measure what we draw against the vision in our heads, and we lose patience. Perfectionism worms its way into the fruit. We have to ward it off, every chance we get.

Nothing is perfect. Everything is flawed. This is a fact to be reveled, not resented. Imperfection leads to surprises, and what is the journey of an artist worth if it holds no surprises for us?

drawer’s block

March 28, 2014

photo

[A]s a child, I remember sitting, listening to my teacher in school talking about the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats. He had a writer’s block—there was a period where he couldn’t write. I put my hand up and said: “Why didn’t he write about that?”

- Bono

It’s been a year since I put a pause on The Big Crunch. I’ve done a little sketching in my journal. I’ve brainstormed some histories. But on the whole, I haven’t made much art in general, let alone anything pertaining to the comic. And you know what I have to say to myself for that egregious period of inactivity?

Whatever.

When I heard that Bono quote in college, I thought it showed a lot of wisdom. I still do, honestly. But I’ve never had a problem working through writer’s block. I can write a thousand words a day, and it won’t bother me how nonsensical and meandering they are.

Drawer’s block, though. What the bloody hell do you do with drawer’s block?

I confess, I still feel like a trespasser when it comes to drawing. I put it aside for seven years, from age 18 to 25, and I still feel immense guilt for doing so, despite indulging other forms of art like theater and music that I know were essential to growing my soul. But the guilt persists, and if you’ll pardon a cadence that mimics Yoda in The Phantom Menace: guilt leads to resentment, resentment leads to anger, anger leads to frustration, frustration leads to defeat.

And I would feel defeated right now, if I weren’t so goddamned stubborn.

This past November, I ran my first half-marathon. My training schedule crumbled in October while I was recovering from a minor injury (let’s just say it’s something that happens to runners in their 30′s and we’ll leave it at that). So, when I came to the starting line, I was less than prepared. But I ran it, despite thigh spasms and rigid knees by the eleventh mile. And I stayed under ten minutes a mile, which was my goal.

I can only attribute that success to stubbornness. When every twitch of your muscle is screaming for you to stop, stubbornness is sometimes the only thing fueling the fire. Stubbornness is a subtler form of rage, and rage is second only to rapture as the motivation for great works of art.

So. What do you do when you have drawer’s block? What do you do when your creative endeavors feel arduous and stilted? As it turns out, you do the same thing as you do when you have writer’s block. You get stubborn, and damn it, you draw anyway.

Do your lines make you angry and frustrated? Let them show your anger and frustration. Is your brain a storm of advice and admonitions from other artists? Draw like you’re deliberately trying to piss them off. Can’t get your inner critic to shut up? Punch him in the throat. Draw with a vengeance. Draw like you’re trying to set your pages on fire. Draw like it doesn’t matter that you satisfy anyone, including yourself, because sometimes yourself is an asshole.

140204 Middle Finger

And on that note, you might also try forgiving yourself, too. That, perhaps, is the most important hurdle to leap when it comes to creative blocks.

We can’t all be Bono, after all.

Page One

December 3, 2013

The following is the first page of the script for The Big Crunch, the prelude chapter. The prelude will be a little over 20 pages. I’m about halfway through the second draft, and I don’t think there’ll be too many edits after this. That means, my friends, I can start drawing soon. Look for a new website, character designs and maybe some teasers in the near future.

Page 1

Panel 1

Nothing but pitch black ink, borderless and infinite, bleeding into every gutter of the page. Moscrelle, a sergeant of the deposed Vos Grepsa planetary army, speaks off-panel.

MOSCRELLE: Monsieur?

Panel 2

Zoom out to reveal the Void, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, lumbering before a thick cloud of stars and debris. Moscrelle speaks off-panel again.

MOSCRELLE: Monsieur le génerál?

Panel 3

Zoom out again to reveal the Void reflected in the goggled eyes of General Blastich val Greletch. Moscrelle and Yakins, a Harkwelder mercenary, speak off-panel once more.

YAKINS: Oi, what’s he lookin’ at over there?

MOSCRELLE: Je ne sais pas, madame. Monsieur, can you hear me?

Panel 4

Zoom out once more to reveal the Void reflected in the circular window of a Taladec pleasure cruiser, behind which is Blastich with the silhouettes of Moscrelle, Yakins and Blastich’s lieutenant general Crusseaud. Yakins gestures emphatically, while Moscrelle reaches for Blastich’s shoulder.

YAKINS: Alright, get ‘im away from that window, like, right now!

MOSCRELLE: General Blastich!

Panel 5

Blastich glances over his shoulder with his abysmal, charcoal eyes. His face is serene, as if awoken from a daydream.

BLASTICH: Oui?