Buccaneer Dan and the Raven Boys

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

BUCCANEER DAN

Even before I was officially part of Jordan’s family, I was hearing about Buccaneer Dan the Most Fierce and Good-looking Buccaneer of All Time, a book written by Jordan’s brother Leland Faux that was said to be “quite violent” and also “funny.” When Lee decided to turn it into an eBook I was pretty excited to finally read it.

In this doodle, Buccaneer Dan looks less fierce and more petulant. (Note: I did not run this by my brother-in-law to find out if this is really how Buccaneer Dan looks. I wonder if this is Buccaneer Dan's first fan art...?)

In this doodle, Buccaneer Dan looks less fierce and more petulant. (Note: I did not run this by my brother-in-law to find out if this is really how Buccaneer Dan looks. I wonder if this is Buccaneer Dan’s first fan art…?)

Lee is a funny person, so I figured the book would at least be entertaining. What I was not expecting was to be laughing out loud and to be thinking, “I LOVE this book.” There’s so much hilarious word play, so many humorous allusions to real-life people and events, and even the violence is so cartoonish and exaggerated that it’s funny instead of gross (most of the time).

For instance, here are a couple of my favorite lines:

When most of Buccaneer Dan’s crew is drowning: “Econ Bob was still up at the surface. He would have sunk down too but being an economist his head was full of knowledge. And since knowledge is lighter than air, he wouldn’t sink below his eyes.”

“Buccaneer Dan had an idea develop in his brain — which is a wonderful place to develop ideas.”

After Buccaneer Dan had just cut in half the brain of one of Robin Hood’s merry men named Tony (yes, the book features Robin Hood as well) and everyone is standing around awkwardly: “One of the [other] merry men even made a joke about whether or not Tony was left brained or right brained, which of course made everybody laugh. (Tony was left brained.)”

“Buccaneer Dan and his crew, on the other hand, were quite adept fighters. So the fight was not much of a contest—it was like scissors against paper. Or some would say rock against scissors, as Buccaneer Dan’s crew did sustain some injuries. It certainly was not a paper against rock, where it’s not entirely clear how the victory occurred.”

You can check out Buccaneer Dan’s website or order the book on Kindle. I suggest you give it a try.

THE RAVEN BOYS

My first experience with Maggie Stiefvater was Scorpio Races, and we all know how much I loved that book. I still recommend it to pretty much everyone I talk to. So when I was visiting my parents’ house and saw The Raven Boys on the shelf, just waiting to be read, I of course had to do it. And it hooked me—well, I wouldn’t say RIGHT away—but within a couple chapters?

I read it late into the night. I slept with the book beside me to make up for the absence of my husband who was still at home, working hard to make us moneys.

(Just kidding. I did not sleep with the book, but I was tempted to read it all the way through the night instead of just late.)

(Just kidding. I did not sleep with the book, but I was tempted to read it all the way through the night instead of just late.)

I read it in the airport while I waited for my plane. I read it on the plane. Once I got home, I read it late into the night a second time. I read it during every free moment I had the next day. And I finished it within probably 48 hours (would’ve finished faster if I didn’t have to work). I then went to download Book 2 on Kindle, but I discovered it’s not coming out until SEPTEMBER!

NO! I CAN’T WAIT THAT LONG!!!

The thing about Maggie Stiefvater that I’m noticing—something that she does very well—is to pack so much information about a character into just a couple sentences. Or pack a ton of information about the plot into just one scene. It feels compact and complete.

Scorpio Races and The Raven Boys are really pretty different kinds of stories, despite the fact that they’re both full of a haunting sort of magic and gently building, just-the-right-amount-of-tension romance. But I think both books showcase the skill that Maggie has with writing.

They’re the kind of books that simultaneously inspire me to get writing myself and clarify for me just how hard it is to create something that’s truly good art. Speaking of which, it’s time to get cracking at my own book again. Here goes.

Running with the Runaways

Picked this up when we stopped in at the Las Vegas ComicCon:

RunawaysCoverThis is a collection of issues #25-30, all the ones that Joss Whedon worked on. I’d never heard of this series, but we’re suckers for Joss so it was an obvious choice. Also, I was intrigued by the snippet on the back cover:

“Rebellious teens Nico, Chase, Karolina, Molly, Victor and Xavin are survivors. All children of super-villains, they turned against their evil elders to become amateur super heroes…[They get themselves in trouble, blah blah blah]…The ensuing disaster hurls the kids a century backward in time, trapping them in 1907 New York—home of child labor, quaint technology and competing gangs of super-folk.”

I think mostly I liked the idea that the kids decided to fight for good even though their parents do just the opposite. And I’m glad we bought this because I liked it enough that I read the whole thing in one night. This was officially the first real comic book I’d ever read. I’d tried some Korean Manhwa but it’s different, you know?

Here are just a few things I liked about Runaways: Dead End Kids:

1. It is so cinematic. Seriously, a couple times it tricked me into thinking I was actually watching a movie. Kudos to all the artists.

RunawaysBattle2. It made me laugh out loud. Thank you, Joss Whedon, for being you.

3. The artists made the girls cute without hoochifying them. (Maybe that’s just because the characters don’t have official super hero costumes yet?)

RunawaysAtTable4. It touched on some complicated and serious issues while still allowing the characters to be teenagers.

5. It tied the story into the wider Marvel universe. (Is this always a thing? I don’t know.)

RunawaysKingpin6. Maybe my favorite part, though, were the character sketches at the end. Pen and ink just speaks to me lately.

RunawaysSketches

Jim Lee, Art Like Magic. Good Tips Too.

Hit up “Amazing” Las Vegas Comic Con over the weekend with the husband and some friends. It was my first time going to something like this and I was pretty excited. Mostly it was just like one huge comic book store, with a bunch of booths full of super hero, super villain, and other awesomely nerdly paraphernalia (as well as a few booths bedecked in heavily breasted ladies—I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised?)

Some of the shops were really cool, but what made the conference worth the money and time was the live drawing demonstration by comic book artist Jim Lee. I wish there had been more of this sort of thing available the day we went. I’ve been drawing most my life and I’m alright at it, but this guy is like a freaking wizard.

Let me demonstrate. The picture below took Jim Lee at tops maybe seven minutes to draw?

JimLeeJoker

Mostly what struck me was the way he talked about shading. He presented concepts I’d forgotten about or he talked about them in ways that left more of an impression than what I learned in my art classes in school. Just little tips, like the fact that the chin is curved so the shadow from the lip will be too. Or that if the light source is coming from behind the person, their ear will create a shadow. Or that unless the light source is hitting a person head-on the shadow under the nose will be sort of lopsided.

Here are some doodles I did to practice the concepts I learned from Jim Lee. These are all rough sketches of possible looks for the face of the main character in the web comic I am slowly, slowly getting ready to launch. They were all done in pen (and while at church, ha ha—hey, it just helps me pay more attention, right?) so the mistakes are all left in.

This one's more realistic than I think I'm going for. And a little too Zooey Deschanel.

This one’s more realistic than I think I’m going for. And a little too Zooey Deschanel. But I think I used the Jim Lee concepts pretty well.

I'm not loving the head-to-body-size ratio in this one. At least not for what I'm going for.

I’m not loving the head size on this one. At least not for what I’m going for.

She looks a little like she's strung out on something. Oops.

She looks a little like she’s strung out on something. Oops.

I think I'm liking this look the most so far. If it weren't for all the mistakes on her nose.

I think I’m liking this look the most so far. If it weren’t for all the mistakes on her nose.