Using Words and Pictures to Tell a Story – A Guest Post with Jeff Thomason


Jeff Thomason artist on Jakphoenix.comJeff Thomason stopped by Jak Phoenix author Matt D. Williams’ website with a great guest post! The author and artist discusses the illustrated story and how he is making it work for him. Check out this snippet and then head to mattdwilliamsonline.com for the full article!

—————–

Using Words and Pictures to Tell a Story

Words can be spoken, written, or read. The auditory section of your brain does the processing and interpreting, even if you read black text on a white page. Using words is telling a story (despite what your English teacher said about showing and not telling). There are many advantages to using words and telling including clarity (say exactly what you mean) and economy (cover large periods of time quickly).

Stories can also be told with pictures. The visual part of the brain does the interpreting here. Pictures have the advantage of showing what is happening, whether it is an action or emotion. They also save time by showing a scene and avoiding a lengthy description. The disadvantage is everyone sees something different in an image, so this approach lacks the clarity of words. And the economy—you can’t move as quickly through time nor as effectively with just visuals…

Head to mattdwilliamsonline.com for the full article!

Advertisements

New Art – Jak Phoenix vs. the Scoparian Dragon!


Jak Phoenix vs. the Scoparian Dragon in the sands of Scoparia - a Scene from the first Jak Phoenix novel.1

Artist Jeff Thomason just presented this amazing portrayal of a crucial scene from the opening of the first Jak Phoenix novel. It is a beautifully rendered illustration of Jak and Baxter facing off against an unexpected foe in the sands of Scoparia. If anyone out there is looking for artwork for your project, I urge you to visit www.skyfitsjeff.com and contact Jeff. He’ll be more than happy to bring your ideas to life with his unique graphic style.

Characters Page – Just Added!


Jak Phoenix of the Jak Phoenix space adventure novel by Matt D. Williams – art by Jeff ThomasonBaxter of the Jak Phoenix space adventure novel by Matt D. Williams - art by Jeff ThomasonLook up top…you’ll see a “Characters” tab! Check it out for an appetizer on the main characters in the space adventure novel, Jak Phoenix by Matt D. Williams. As always, a super thanks to Jeff Thomason for his character artwork!  Or click here http://jakphoenix.com/characters/

How has technology affected the illustrated story? – A Guest Post by Jeff Thomason


Jeff Thomason stopped by for a great guest post about what he knows best. Take it away….

————————————————————————-

How has technology affected the illustrated story?

 

Case study 1: Pulps vs. Comic Books

 

Jeff Thomason artist on Jakphoenix.comSince the beginning of recorded history, people have had some form of illustrated stories, whether they were carved in stone by hand or printed on paper by a machine. While the essence hasn’t changed (still words and pictures) the technology used to create them has and this has brought about changes in the stories themselves. One of the best examples comes from the early twentieth century: Pulps vs. Comic Books.

Pulp Fiction refers to inexpensive magazines and books printed on cheap paper called pulp (hence the name) from 1896 thru the 1950s with their popularity (and sales) peaking in the1930s. They cost a dime (and are sometimes referred to as dime novels) and featured an exciting, full color cover, a quickly written story, and a few black and white illustrations. They were wildly popular and sold well even during the depression. Characters included Tarzan, Zorro, Buck Rogers, Doc Savage, The Shadow, The Spider, Fu Manchu, and many others. They covered every genre from adventure to science fiction, action, romance, weird tales, exotic travels, and spicy fun.

Comic books began in the 1930s as reprints of the Sunday color comics section printed on cheap newsprint at a quarter the newspaper size. They quickly introduced new materials and a new genre: the superhero (who was originally called a costumed character or costumed hero) and included Superman, the Bat-man, Wonder Woman, Captain America, and Captain Marvel. They usually included several stories with each lasting anywhere from one page to 8 pages and sold for a dime.

These two forms shared a lot during the 1930s and 40s. Both were on cheap paper. Both sold for the same price on the same newsstands. Many of the same people were involved in both pulps and comics. Both used words and pictures to tell stories of adventure, action, romance, terror, heroism, vigilantism, and salaciousness. But technology changed the possibilities of form and, as an unforeseen result, the content of the stories.

When pulps started in the late 1900s, color illustrations were difficult and expensive to print. So the pulps were mostly text with a great cover and a few poorly reproduced black & white line drawings. The stories were novel length and featured characters with simple garbs. But by the late 1930s, color illustrations were commercially viable, so comics could be full color with more picture than words. This meant the simple trench coat of the Shadow or the bronze skin of Doc Savage wasn’t enough for pictures. Comic heroes needed bright costumes and colorful foes. Because the stories contained so much illustration, the stories become much shorter and much simpler with several in each issue.

A paradigm example is the comparison of the Doc Savage pulps of the 30s (one of the most popular and successful series) with the Doc Savage comic of the 40s. In the pulps he was strong, smart, and wore regular clothes and traveled in planes and boats. In the comics, he gained a costume and super powers and basically became a completely different character.

Technology also produced another unexpected result: the death of pulps. The four-color adventures proved too exciting for the text heavy pulps to compete with. When readers were faced with a choice between 64 full color pages of costumed clad heroes or 80+ pages of black and white text both for a dime, they chose the one more visually exciting.

You may be wondering what a 60-year-old example has to do with us today. Ah, here’s where the big question comes in. How will technology shape illustrated stories today? The eBook revolution (sorry big publishers, there is a revolution going on whether you like it or not) provides new opportunities and new limitations for stories. Here are just a few:

  • Cost & Length – To make selling a story worthwhile (and to make the binding practical) stories have to be at least certain length, but can’t go over a certain length. Digital files don’t have this limitation. An author can sell a one-page story or a 4-million-page story. The usual limitations don’t apply. This opens up new possibilities for new forms. It also may be the salvation of comic books, which are pricing themselves out of existence due to high printing costs.
  • Layout – eReaders offer flexible layouts and font sizes, which means you can’t guarantee how a page will display. The picture may be on its own screen, or you may have a two page layout showing several pictures and a healthy chunk of text. The play between images and pictures needs to be simpler and more flexible.
  • Size – Comic books have had a hard time going digital, because the text is hard to read on a small screen. Many solutions have been tried such as breaking it into individual panels (which gives you odd shaped pages and loses the effect of one panel interacting with another) to cropping the page to just the essential elements (robbing you of beautiful artwork). In the 80s it was common for toys to include mini-comics. These mini-comics were meant for a small page and work well on eReaders and other small screens if only comic book producers could break from their current template.

 

Of course, eReaders and eBooks are new, so we have yet to see the real possibilities this new technology will open up and the effect it will have on illustrated stories. I, for one, am excited to see what will develop.

Jeff Thomason

———————————————————

Check out Jeff’s comics on Smashwords

Find Jeff on Facebook

Find Jeff on Twitter

Check out his website at: http://skyfitsjeff.com/

New Jak Phoenix Character Sketches from Jeff Thomason


Jeff Thomason was good enough to make another series of character sketches, this time adding his touch to Baxter, Cyan and Murdock. Here is a posting he put on his blog:

———————————————–

So Matt, the creater of Jak Phoenix, liked the drawings I did so much, he wanted more. And I was glad to draw more. I’ve been interested in this kind of space opera style scifi for a while and have wanted to do something in this style, but I never had a good reason for it. Until now.

The characters were again drawn with a brush dipped in Sumi ink on Strathmore Drawing Paper (the yellow cover), then scanned into my iMac on a Canoscan printer, and digitally colored in Corel Painter X. I really liked the end result. This may be the process I use for all my art for a while.

The original article can be found here.

————————————–

Awesome work Jeff!

A cast of characters from the space adventure novel Jak Phoenix. Baxter, Jak, Cyan and Murdock

From left to right: Baxter, Jak, Cyan & Murdock

New Jak Phoenix Cover Art!


Jak Phoenix - An independent space opera sci fi adventure novel by Matt WilliamsDue to artist Jeff Thomason’s awesome character sketches, the Jak Phoenix novel cover is going through a few changes.

Changes

  1. Great Jeff Thomason art in the top corner.
  2. My name is now Matt D. Williams, a huge change from Matt Williams. I’ve decided to start using my middle initial (stands for David) in my work to avoid confusion with other authors named Matt Williams. Not that big a change, but enough to isolate my books from other similarly named authors.
  3. I’ve finally added a review snippet at the bottom from Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

It will take weeks for this change to spread out to all the retailers and I will be changing the printed book cover in the near future. I’ll let you know when I do.

Thanks for your support!

New Jak Phoenix Art By Jeff Thomason!


Jak Phoenix space adventure character art by Jeff ThomasonJeff Thomason was kind enough to create a couple of amazing Jak Phoenix character sketches – and I love them! He was able to perfectly pin down the character and I am very impressed to say the least. Here is a post from his website where he discusses his excellent work:

—————————

Character Sketch: Space Opera

It’s been a while since I’ve put up a character sketch, so I thought I’d put one up. This one was commissioned by Matt Williams, the author of Jak Phoenix, a fun space opera available from Smashwords.com and other fine retailers. Matt has even released a short story that is currently free so you can check out his universe.

I tried something a little different for this one. I used my usual brush and Sumi ink, but instead of drawing it in my sketchbook, I used Strathmore 70lb Drawing Paper which gave me a cleaner line than the sketch paper. I like a textured line, but the one I’ve been getting was a little too rough. This one was much cleaner while still having some character. I had a few sheets left over from drawing One Thing Right by Colin Shanafelt, a children’s storybook which should be released in the next couple of months. I colored these sketches (and One Thing Right) with Corel Painter X on my iMac. I’m really happy with how it turned out.

I’m not sure if Matt is though.

We’ll see.

Jeff Thomason

The original article can be found on his site at http://atouchofjeff.blogspot.com/2011/02/character-sketch-space-opera.html#links

—————————

Needless to say Jeff, I am ecstatic about how they turned out!

Matt WilliamsJak Phoenix space adventure character art by Jeff Thomason