Click for larger image. Do it. You know you want to
see more of the classy lady.

Woobner was a comic idea I created in the late 90's. I say "idea" because it was never completed, and I can't remember why. I had the first issue written, the first few pages drawn, inked the first couple pages and colored the first - not the best process. I guess I was going for a "proof of concept" - I wanted to make sure it looked good before I got too far into it. Stupid.

First page inked, no color. But you could have
figured that out on your own, couldn't you?

I do like the way Woobner looks now, though, so I wish I would have finished it - at least one issue. The story was about this freakish little character (named Woobner, of course - I stole the name from some co-workers at the time who made up the term as kind of an all-purpose insult - "You're acting like a Woobner!") who, for no clear reason, was very popular with the ladies (hmm... was I projecting my own fantasies?). His personality was a lot like Pee Wee Herman's, except he was bitter - bitter and jaded.

Even though he looked like a little elf with a skate rat's hairstyle, Woobner worked as a male model (comedy), but that was actually a cover for a his sideline as a spy. He was part MacGyver, part Austin Powers, with a little bit of Maxwell Smart thrown in for good measure. He also had a sweet girlfriend who kept him in line (surely more self-projection).

Panel detail. "Frig" was to be Woobner's catchphrase... even though
it's just a single word.

Before I began the project, I'd been in touch with an editor from Fantagraphics, a great independent comics company who published two of my favorite books at the time - Eightball (which spawned the movies Ghost World and Art School Confidential) and Hate. I think I'd sent this editor Science Geek, a zine my friend Doug and I put together (he wrote it, I illustrated it and laid it out), as well as some other black and white illustration samples.

The editor, whose name I can't recall, liked my work and sent me a nice handwritten note asking me for some examples of full comic stories. I'd done some short one- and two-page comics in black and white, but nothing longer. Woobner was designed to be a full-length example to show that editor.

Another panel detail. I must have been reading a lot of
Little Annie Fanny around this time.

I used my traditional pre-digital technique - brush-tip markers over pencils, photocopy (onto 11x17" 20 lb. paper, for this piece), and color the photocopy with Prismacolor markers. I also lettered the page by hand, using the same markers, which gave the words a nice integration into the rest of the linework.

During this time, I was still experimenting with the size I'd work at - specifically, how much larger than the final piece I'd lay out the page. Sometimes I'd shoot too large, and when the piece was reduced, the linework was a little too thin and too tight. Other times I'd start too small - too close to the final size - and I wouldn't have that extra little bit of space for the smaller details. Here I think I got it just right - the linework was just chunky enough for my liking.

The colors were less blended than I was shooting for, but for the most part, I like them, too. At the time I was working on Woobner, I was aiming for a totally smooth, modeled, Richard Corben kind of look, but the different levels of color now look charming and hand-created to me - a lot of digital colorists shoot for the same "imperfect" effect. The wet edge - where the markers hit each other - looks more pleasing to my eyes now than it did then. That's what an oversaturation of digital work does to you, I suppose.

Perhaps someday Woobner will live again - or at least, maybe the first issue will be completed. It could be a one-shot. Or a web comic. Or even a musical. Hey, if The Last Starfighter can be made into a musical, I think I've at least got a shot.


  1. I like this a lot. So nice to see some stuff done "old-school" with regard to the preliminary work, and the coloring. I agree, we are suffering from that nearly glowing, perfectly smooth color in everything. It has gotten so brightly dominant it makes the artwork it is meant to enhance all too similar. Makes me long for the old 4 color process.

    I like the idea behind Woobner as well. so much of being cool is simply knowing your cool. – Mykal

  2. Thanks Mykal I'll be posting some things soon that were done digitally. I guess it's natural for illustrators to always wander back and forth (between traditional techniques and digital), always trying to figure out the advantages of each. And as soon as we make leaps forward, and get comfortable with them for a while, the older, less "perfect" techniques start to look attractive again.

    Be cool.