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Showing posts with label Hobbits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hobbits. Show all posts

Studio Updates… and some Halflings!

Poster art for the Arts in the Park event at Ottawa's Emond Park by Charlotte Taylor
This is going to be an “odds ‘n ends” kinda post. First, I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be participating in the “Arts in the Park” event here in Ottawa. This event has been led by the amazing Charlotte Taylor and she, along with some other folks, have done an amazing job. Obviously COVID led to the cancellation of last year’s event, but it’s really neat to see it back up and running. It’s already special now, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it might just become one helluva “can’t miss” event down the road. Arts in the Park will be held here in Ottawa on June 18th and details can be found on the event’s Facebook page.

Otherwise, well… I’m still trying to place Dave’s death. I kinda feel like a part of me has been ripped right out and it’s going to take a long time before I really feel “whole” again. Part of that is the lack of closure in general and part of that is the uncertainty around his death. As I think I mentioned in the aforementioned post, there’s a good chance we may never know what happened, why it happened, and if anything could have been done to stop it from happening. That, friends, is a tough tough thing to face. These type of losses take time to heal; while I know that intellectually, emotionally is a whole other trick. It’s kinda like experiencing a rough storm; scream and rage all you want, but the storm is going to do its thing before it finally blows itself out.

Death, regardless of what else it may mean to different people, also represents the loss of potential. It ends the “what ifs” of life. There is no “road less taken” or other cliché. If you’re familiar with the notion of a “dolorous blow,” that’s a pretty good description of how I’ve been feeling. There are things I would have loved to do with Dave, things that I now no longer have the opportunity to do. Movies, art shows, book launches, and all of that. Plus just hanging out and talking. The potential for things is now over and that is a struggle to face. Paul Brickhill wrote a great line in his book THE DAM BUSTERS that has always stayed with me. It reads, “War, as someone said, is a great leveller, but he did not mean it quite as literally or as bitterly as this.” Death, too.

As a result of all of this, I haven’t managed to do too much drawing lately. I’m generally pretty good at working away regardless of how I’m feeling, but Dave’s death has really effected that. Part of it is just giving myself the time I need to grieve and feel the loss. Another part is that art does take a certain peace of mind, especially if one — okay, me — really wants to get the creative “juices” flowing. I don’t generally struggle when facing the ol’ blank piece of paper, but over the last month I really have been. However, I AM drawing, even if it’s not at the level of production I normally like to maintain, and I thought I’d share a few pieces here.


Pencil sketch of a group of happy halflings by Von Allan
These are Hobbits… well, Halflings because I think the word “Hobbit” has been trademarked. What? Yes. I generally think of things like this as “joy sucking,” damn it all. It is what it is though, so Halflings it is!

My Halflings are not really in the Tolkein style. Or rather, they are at the BEGINNING of their careers, but not later. What do I mean? Well, I like my Halflings to have a major flavour of old school DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS thrown into the mix, but D&D through the prism of BLOOD BOWL. Yes! In other words, pleasant and fun-loving in the beginning, but then they decide to go delve into a few dungeons. The survivors (ahem!) become far more haggard and battle-scarred. That doesn’t kill their love of food, beer, and good times, of course, but it does give them a world-weary sense that I really like. Besides, there is something that I find a great deal of fun with having scarred up Halflings who have names like Jonesy Gluttonbelly, Pauly Pancakes, Bertram Berryapple, and Bailey Teabiscuit. Who the hell doesn’t want to go into a dungeon with those folks? Someone who doesn’t like living, that’s who!

These pencilled illustrations are fun and sketchy. They’re also tighter than I usually pencil, mainly because I tend to be looser with my pencils because I almost always ink my own work. If I was pencilling for someone else to ink, then tighter pencils are usually the best way to go, unless penciller and inker have a tremendous and intuitive relationship. I tend to view the relationship between two people working like this as somewhat akin to the pitcher/catcher “battery” in baseball.

Examples in comics include John Byrne and Terry Austin, George Pérez and Romeo Tanghal, and Neal Adams and Tom Palmer.

As an aside, it’s very weird to think that both Pérez and Adams have also died recently. Sigh.

Pencil sketch of a group of very tough and very grumpy halflings by Von Allan

Part of what makes the “battery” analogy not quite perfect is that it ignores the roles of both colorists and letterers, which is clearly not fair. Both play a key and underappreciated role in comics, especially mainstream corporate comics, and that importance really deserves more attention then it typically receives. Continuing the baseball metaphor (and hopefully not torturing it too much), in many ways the entire team of creators (the writer, penciller, letterer, inker, and colorist) is more akin to a baseball infield. Each is important and without each the team breaks down.

Of course, in general I “play” all of these positions, so the analogy doesn’t really fit me. That’s always the problems with analogies, right?

I also decided to do something I very rarely do and colour directly off my pencils. I generally don’t do this, preferring to colour after I ink my pencils. Why change it up now? Well, partially for fun. And partially, as I noted above, that I’ve been struggling and playing around like this is very helpful for my own peace of mind. Besides, it’s good to experiment and try different things out. Part of the whole point of art (broadly defined) is to do just that. Experiment, try things, and play. How the hell else does one learn and grow?

I suspect I’ll be doing this kind of thing for the next few weeks. It helps deal with my sadness and loss. And that? That’s not nothing. Given what’s been happening, I’m going to take whatever solace I can grab.

Colours and Inks

As always, all of the art on this page can be clicked on for larger versions. I kept the pencilled versions fairly small (about 600 px wide) but the coloured and inked versions are larger (about 900 px wide).

“Sharing is caring” might be a bit clichéd, but it really does help.
Pencil sketch combined with full colours of a group of happy halflings by Von Allan

An inked group of happy halflings by Von Allan

An inked group of tough and grumpy halflings by Von Allan

Wolf's Head by Von Allan

Link to Von Allan's Wolf's Head comic book series

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