Greetings blog readers!  I’m sure everyone reading is checking out the Number of the Beast artwork and thinking “How super cool, I can’t wait for the summer when this is released!”  Rest assured, it is very cool.  I’m personally impatient for the Engine Joe action figure.  I don’t know if there are plans for one, but I’d love it.

And perhaps some of you may be thinking “Wait a second, doesn’t Chris have a wife?  Surely she’s been up to something equally as cool, right?”  Well, yes and no.  Chris does have a wife, but she’s not really up to anything as cool as Number of the Beast.  But, she is back to taking guitar lessons.  Since she is me, I’ll talk in the first person now.
Hey everyone, Xan here.  Chris has been taking over much of the blogging responsibilities lately, and for good reason.  If you haven’t checked out the artwork he has been posting for NOTB, you should.  I’m so excited to see this book in print.  Other than this, it’s been a pretty status quo winter into spring for us.  But we enjoy our status quo, so I consider this a good thing.  It’s a quiet life of reading, beading, cult tv and whatever else we can work into the day.
Aside from trying to get caught up on Doctor Who and Torchwood episodes, I started guitar lessons again this year.  For those of you who don’t know the sordid background, I took guitar lessons in 2005 until the fall, when I was in the process of changing jobs and Chris and I were moving into our current apartment.  I stopped going to my lessons around this time because my teacher asked me to not come anymore.  He told me I wasn’t focused enough, and was therefore wasting his and my time.  Evidently, guitar lessons come before finding and moving into a new apartment, and any job searches should be put on the back burner for scales.  Maybe I’m bitter (I am, actually), and maybe I am making excuses.  He told me that I was welcome to return when things were settled and I could focus, but this evidently wasn’t the case, since my emails to him which said basically “Settled into the new job and the new place, ready to play again!” went unanswered.
I kept playing a bit on my own, but really wanted a teacher again.  I always benefit from the experience of others, and considering my near criminal neglect of the piano, I needed to get back into learning about theory and not just looking up tab online.  So in a moment of pure serendipity, aka Marcie and Kade’s New Years Eve party, I found a new teacher.  Greg is a friend I met through Marcie, and he is a guitar teacher and was willing to take on new students in the new year.  So I jumped and now have been taking lessons again since January.  Greg is a great teacher, and was a bit appalled at my being kicked out of lessons, so I feel more on the same page with him.  And he seems to be patient with my difficulty getting used to a pick, which is good.
The picture is a photo of my guitar, Jane.  She’s an Ibanez AW40-NT, and I love her.  I didn’t know much about Ibanez acoustic guitars.  The electric guitars were all I knew about as they have a reputation as being metal guitars.  But this one is great.  I saw a 12 string Ibanez at Sam Ash the other day, and it was about all I could do to walk out of there without it.
While it feels good to be taking lessons and learning music again, I feel guilty about the fact that the piano is out of tune.  I really need to get back to all of my instruments.  I found it difficult to find time to play as an adult.  Everyone knows I’ve never been the best with managing time.  I should also take one of those free workshops at the Apple Store, and get the most out of my GarageBand.
Ad hoc, ad loc and quid pro quo.  So little time, so much to know!
And oddly enough, Greg taught me “Yellow Submarine” this week.  Maybe I should learn “Nowhere Man” next…

Another Short Interruption
I thought it would be a good idea to butt into the series on the making of a page from Number Of The Beast in order to let interested people know that the most current Wildstorm comics (cover dated April 08) contain a NOTB preview! The preview is seven pages long and features the cover and six fully finished pages from the first issue.

The pencil artwork for page 9 of Number Of The Beast #1,
just one of the pages featured in the preview


Creating a Comic Book Page for
Number of the Beast – Part 4: Inks

Inks by Karl Story for Number Of The Beast #1 pages 6 & 7; click on the image to see an
extra large version

In the last few posts, I’ve described my part of the process of creating a comic book page, specifically a two-page spread from Number Of The Beast #1. Beginning now, I’ll attempt to explain what happens once I’m finished with the pencil drawing.

As I mentioned in the last installment, I box up the pencilled pages and FedEX them to Karl Story in Atlanta, GA. Karl and I have worked together off and on since 1992 when we were teamed up by editor Michael Eury on the DC Comics series Legionnaires. Karl is one of the founding members of Gaijin Studios, whose website can be found HERE, and he’s one of the best inkers currently working in the industry(if not THE best). As an inker, it’s his job to go over my pencil lines and shading with black India ink using various brushes and pens. He does more than trace the lines and fill in areas of solid black, though: he cleans up and finalizes anything sketchy, adds depth to the drawing using various line weights(traditionally, thicker lines on closer objects, thinner on background objects), and creates texture where none was present or merely hinted at in the pencils(compare what Karl did with the chrome on Engine Joe’s belt/bumper or the little pieces of rubble around Joe’s feet to my pencils to see what I mean). Some comic artists ink their own pencil artwork, but the standard practice is to split the pencilling and inking into two separate jobs done by two different people in order to save time. This works out well for me, since I am barely competent at inking, and Karl brings a level of polish and finish to my work that I could never achieve. I have repeatedly thanked him for making a turkey of a page look good, but he also makes pages I’m happy with look spectacular! Judge for yourself with the image above!

Once Karl finishes his inking, he scans the pages at high resolution into his computer and sends them digitally to the Wildstorm offices in San Diego, where the final two steps in the process, lettering and coloring, are completed. I’ll cover those steps in the next two posts.