Ultraist Studios Blog Journal thoughts, musings and other rambling…

October 29, 2010

Influence Map

Filed under: Inspiration,Thoughts — M Kitchen @ 10:20 am

Mike Kitchen's Influence Map

Here’s my list, starting from the top left.

  1. Dave Sim – Cerebus. My biggest influence.  Obviously.  When I first read Cerebus 166 back in January of 1993 I realized that this was how a black and white independent comic should be made.  I admired that it was creator owned, and self-published and didn’t pull any punches.  I liked that there was an editorial page, a letters column and extra stuff in the back.  And I was amazed at the results of cross-overs that happened with other artists who owned their creations (such as this one with Sergio Aragonés – Groo)
  2. The Empire Strikes Back. Star Wars was a huge influence.  But Empire Strikes Back trumped it.  I think it was the AT-AT Walker sequence on Hoth that made me decide to do effects animation.  Pretty cool that I had a chance to work for the man who animated them when I was at Tippett Studio working on Hellboy.
  3. Chuck Jones – Looney Tunes. These cartoons are most likely the reason why I’m still drawing cartoony characters in the comics I make today.  Probably explains the violence as well.  This is harebrained comedy at it’s finest.
  4. Conspiracy Theories. It was Jello Biafra that first opened the door to this stuff, and it’s been down the rabbit hole ever since.  These are my favorite stories.
  5. Silver Age comic books. It was a box of silver age comics that got me hooked on the standard comic book format.  Batman 244  by Neal Adams was my favorite of the bunch.
  6. Katsuhiro Otomo – Akira. I had already decided to become an animator when I watched the animated Akira movie.  But it changed the way I looked at animation.  From there I read the manga series, and it changed the way I looked at comics.
  7. Steve Ditko – Spider-Man. Everything I liked about comics in the 1980’s was a result of what Steve Ditko did in the 1960’s.
  8. Bill Watterson – Calvin & Hobbes. It was newspaper comic strips that got me reading comics, but it was Calvin & Hobbes that made me see their true potential.  I always dreamed that Bill Watterson would do more full comic book format stories, like the painted ones he did in The Lazy Sunday Book…
  9. Who Framed Roger Rabbit. This was the movie that made me get into animation.  It also has a lot of the same ambience that I try to create in my comics.
  10. Blade Runner. Cyberpunk done right.
  11. Transformers. Seriously, how could you grow up in the 80’s and not be influenced by giant transforming robots.

What are the things that influence you?
Go grab the template from fox-orian at deviantart.com and fill one out yourself.
Be sure to share a link in the comments if you do.

October 26, 2010

SPY GUY #2 Page 15 Photo Reference

Filed under: Spy Guy,Video — M Kitchen @ 9:36 am

On Page 15 of SPY GUY #2 I had a very clear image in my head of what is supposed to be happening. Though try as I might, I hadn’t been able to get the image on to the paper. It’s a slightly skewed perspective of Spy Guy shooting stuff up with his Uzi. My 11 x 17 roughs were scribbled out back in August, but this panel wasn’t quite working Something about the pose was wonky. Yesterday I grabbed some reference images off the net and attempted to figure out the pose by drawing different thumbnails, but sketch after sketch the pose still wasn’t working, as you can see from the drawings below.

Well, when this happens, it’s time to pull out the camera and act out the exact action for photo reference. And this morning, that’s exactly what I did.

The final frame I decided on was screen captured and flipped (as Spy Guy is ambidextrious with a gun, and I’m not).

Spy Guy is a funny character in that his proportions make certain poses difficult to capture, but I’m pretty sure this one will work for the story I’m telling. You can let me know how successful I was once the page is finally completed.

October 25, 2010


Filed under: Mantra — M Kitchen @ 8:52 am

Mark Millar quote:

“It can be soul-destroying writing stuff and not getting paid. That’s how I started. But necessity is a great thing. It forces you to be commercial. I think there’s a kind of literary Darwinism in evidence in all forms of media; it’s very much a case of the survival of the fittest. I hear people complaining about the system, but you have to totally embrace the system if you’re going to survive as a creative person; you have to love the idea of what you’re doing. If you stop loving it for a minute, it’s over.” *

This mantra goes well with this one and this one.

October 24, 2010

Writing with Post-it Notes 2

Filed under: Thoughts — M Kitchen @ 12:06 pm

While sitting here hammering out the dialog on Page 14 I thought I’d take a quick picture to post up to the blog journal. Then suddenly I was overwhelmed with a sense of deja-vu and sure enough, after a quick search, discovered I did in fact do one of these “Writing with Post-it Notes” things before. Last October in fact. My God, has it been that long. Interesting that the page shown on the drawing board last year is a page that was photographed nearly complete on the drawing board just a couple of days ago, along with the thumbnail drawing for Page 9 which was shown on the drawing board as well.

When writing these dialog heavy pages, I find it’s easy to become non-commital because there is so much that has to go on in the page and it’s easy to write so many words that there is no space left for the characters to be drawn. This makes it easy for one to freeze up and become non-productive. When this happens I am able to pull out the Post-it pad and just start letting the ideas flow, letting the characters improvise dialog on the page, and letting the writer jot down any important bits of information that absolutely needs to be communicated for story progression. Then the Post-it notes can be cut up and re-arranged, and next thing you know the words are on the page and arranged into something that works. Now it’s time to pencil them out directly on the S-172 Bainbridge and ink them!

October 19, 2010

State of the Studio Address

Filed under: Announcements,Photos,Spy Guy,Thoughts — M Kitchen @ 9:07 am

Starting October 4th 2010 SPY GUY #2 became a full-time job. This is the first time in my life I’ve been able to dedicate the entirety of my “work-time” to a comic. Even when I took two weeks off to complete SPUD & HARRY I was still doing videogame contract work on the side. Two weeks and two days in I can say it’s been an interesting experience. Suddenly there is time to think about the work. Pages that have been sitting idle for over a year are suddenly coming to fruition. That said: There isn’t nearly enough time to do all that needs to be done. On my white board, I wrote all the things I hoped could be accomplished. In my delusions of grandeur I had thought since the comic would replace the “Clark Kent Day Job” that suddenly side projects would replace the time spent making comics. I thought blog entries would come quicker, and the SPY GUY: Minis webcomic would suddenly go live. But you know what? It takes A LOT of time to make a comic. Not quite as much time as it takes to make animation. But more time than enough.

As of this writing, I’m averaging at two days to complete one page, which happens to be the same amount of time it took to complete the SPACE Anthology pages. As I move forward with this comic, it’s becoming apparent where the time is being spent, so it is the hope of this artist that as time moves on the process will become streamlined for maximum speed and productivity. Part of the trick is being able to make snap decisions. Having a solid script helps. Having solid thumbnails helps. Having reference material on hand helps immensely! The rest of it is being able to execute on demand. That trick is a little more tricky. My hunch is that skill will develop as more pages are completed. I’m noticing that having drawn convention sketches has helped a lot. It’s a great format of experimentation in figuring out what works and what doesn’t.

Today’s agenda is putting the final inking touches on the first half of SPY GUY #2 and scanning the pages, turning them into print ready files. This is what the drawing board looks like as of this moment. Note some of the items in the picture: The corkboard full of ideas and reference. The photo of my children. The rulers for drawing perspective and speedlines. The tape for tracing paper transfers. A tracing paper transfer for Page 9. Post it notes full of dialog (for placement on the page). Star Wars Manga book 2 for speedline reference. And Pages 4-10 of SPY GUY #2!

Enough blogging.
Time to get back to work.

October 16, 2010


Filed under: Mantra — M Kitchen @ 1:54 pm

J. Michael Straczynski quote:

“It’s never too late to become what you were supposed to be in the first place.” *

October 14, 2010

The Last Signing, Glamourpuss Event, Word On The Street Halifax pt.2

Filed under: Conventions,Video — M Kitchen @ 11:14 am

Here’s part 2 (of 3).

And a picture of Dave Sim falling asleep while shaking my hand.

October 11, 2010

The Last Signing, Glamourpuss Event, Word On The Street Halifax pt.1

Filed under: Conventions,Video — M Kitchen @ 12:53 pm

Hi folks! Below you’ll find part 1 (of 3) of a video documentary from the comic book pilgrimage to Halifax Nova Scotia.

Also below are some pictures by Stoo Metz and links.

The Kitchenettes meet Dave Sim.

The Bride of Ultraist meets Dave Sim.

Dave Sim and Darwyn Cooke chat (as I lurk in the background).

Calum Johnston Facebook Photos

Cerebus Fangirl Flickr Photos

Stay tuned for pt.2 – HERE!

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