Featured Panels & Gutters & Zip Ribbons Profiles Sequential Art

Profile: Mihailo Vukelic

::: Artist(s) Name:::
Mihailo Vukelic

::: Publisher::: (self-published?)

::: Website:::

::: 1 ::: Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? What’s your favorite color? When did you first realize you were an artist? Did you draw as a kid? Color outside the lines?

I grew up in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. At 11 I moved to the U.S. with my family. My favorite color is sepia. I realized I was an artist around 3 or 4, I have memories of those early attempts at transcribing my waking reality onto paper. I never liked coloring books and did not understand kids who colored pre-made pictures. And, philosophically, I suppose I always colored outside the lines and still do.

::: 2 ::: What comic book genres interest you the most? Who is your favorite comic book artist and/or writer? How have they influenced your work

It would be fair to say that Sci-fi is my favorite genre. In a matter of speaking, science fiction is mythology of and for our times. The same archetypes that exist in the great classics and mythologies of the world continue to resonate in the sci-fi format, the main difference being that we are currently conquering other frontiers and magic has been supplanted by science.

Never-the-less, the same universal issues remain as in the Odyssey, Gilgamesh and the Upanishads. Alan Moore is probably my favorite writer, more for the mastery of the English language and narrative virtuosity than concept and originality.

My single favorite comic is Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. My favorite artist was and always will be Moebius and his fantastical Harzack series still influences my work. In fact I am about to sart a sci-fi epic named Wrom in the Blossom and its inception owes much to Moebius’ work, at least visually if not lyrically.

::: 3 ::: How did you get involved in comics? What was your first comic?
The first time I got involved in comics was 1993 when I published a couple of comics on my own called Battle Axis. It was a highly conceptualized but immaturely executed two-issue run about a post-apocalyptic/superhero world where "bad guys" and "good guys" were not what they appeared and political agendas had more to do with their identities than values and principles. I self-published it under Intrepid Comics. In 1994 I illustrated a couple of sci-fi issues for a short run called Enchanted Worlds and it was for an indy publisher named Blackmore.

::: 4 ::: What is your favorite story you’ve ever drawn? Favorite character?
I’ve only published nine comics altogether, including the five-issue mini series that’s currently out. It’s called Back to Brooklyn and it is a Sopranos-like crime drama replete with seedy characters, mobsters, hookers and corrupt cops. So far it’s been my favorite story but I hope to do more in the near future.

Back to Brooklyn was co-written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Garth Ennis. Jimmy is co-creator of Painkiller Jane (comic, tv series) and Garth has written things like Preacher and worked on the most successful Punisher series in Marvel’s history. They are both world-class and I am honored to have worked with them.

::: 5 ::: How did you come up with the concept for Worm in the Blossom? Who is your favorite character?
Worm in the Blossom, if all goes well, will be my writing debut as a serious comic creator as well as a lengthy sci-fi epic. By lenghty I mean 10 volumes but that’s up in the air until actual publication time. I am currently co-writing it with another author and hope to have something published by next year.

Most of the illustrations you see here are from Worm in the Blossom. It has a story arc and concept that has NEVER been used in any sci-fi format before and yet it retains the major characteristics of an epic. It is heavily influenced by 19th century Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I will talk about it in much more detail, including the philosophical infrastructure of the story, upon publication.

::: 6 ::: What was the hardest part of creating your comic book? What hardware (computer, scanner, printer, etc) do you use? What software?
The hardest part of working on Back to Brooklyn was creating a gritty sense of realism that included real locations and credible "New York" characters. Also, with an ensemble of "real" characters, remaining consistent with the many faces and body types is challenging. If I worked a simpler style, e.g., manga, it would be only a matter of establishing a facial and morphological typology for each character.

I chose a more naturalistic style with it all the problems. It took me a couple of issues to nail down and polish my style. Many say that what I have done for Back to Brooklyn stands apart visually. I regard this entire project as "working out the bugs" in a sense. It’s a good primer for the next project.

As far as hardware goes I use a Dell workstation, an HP printer and a Mustek scanner (10×15 bed). I also have a sizable wacom tablet without which I wouldn’t even attempt to work in Photoshop. Most of everything I do has been touched by Photoshop CS in some way and I use Studio 3dmax a lot.

::: 7 ::: How have you handled the business side of being an artist? How do you promote your book/website/comic? What’s the best and worst parts of being a full time, working artist?
The business side of being an artist is tricky. In the gallery system it is the gallery owners who take care of most business issues and for a while I had an agent. Now I’m self-promoting on-line and I’ve started making appearances at conventions. The best part of being a full time working artist is the continuous maintenance of the "zone." I have to remain creative and on the edge regardless of my mood. The downside is an uncertain income.

::: 8 ::: Has the Internet helped your career as an artist? If so, how?
The Internet has helped insofar as I’ve received a requisite amount of attention from bloggers and critics for my Back to Brooklyn work. It has definitely put me on the "map" internationally, albeit, in a very small corner of the map… I am currently wroking on a new website so there is little in the way of self-promotion directly. I also maintain an account on deviantart so there is no shortage of input from fans and fellow artists.

::: 9 ::: What is one stereotype about comic book writers/artists that is absolutely wrong?
That we are all pathetically needy egomaniacs who ONLY recreate the world after our own fashion.

::: 10 ::: What one stereotype is dead on?
That we are all pathetically needy egomaniacs who AT TIMES recreate the world after our own fashion.

Graphics Panels & Gutters & Zip Ribbons Sequential Art

Making a Comic in Comic Life Magiq

Comic Life Magiq is an unusual product in plasq’s software line, as it’s not meant to be a replacement for Comic Life Deluxe. As an avid fan of the latter, I wanted to see if Magiq addressed some of my wishlist in templating and layout for my web comic. For folks not familiar with Comic Life Deluxe by plasq, not to worry. There will be some comparisons with Deluxe throughout the article, but the article is designed to get you going from the ground up. There is an assumption that you already have some content available.  Make sure that before you start it is formatted and ready for print, web, or other.  The good news for those in the "iApps" demographic is that this product has some templates created for your snapshots and keepsake type items so you can play with your photos and create dynamic photo and scrapbook albums. These templates already have what you need in terms of a layout, fonts, and captions. All of these can be further customized.

Let’s briefly look at the GUI. The first thing I recognized as an Apple ProApps user was the "I am a serious program" gray background, which sets the tone for Magiq’s introduction. It could possibly be intimidating to those familiar with Deluxe. But once you get passed that who-rearranged-my-furniture feeling, the GUI does make sense. The top has a navigation strip for browsing pages and some general options.

The toolbar on the left contains most of your custom options for each item selected within Magiq. It also has a wonderful feature in the enigmatic button named "Focus." When something is selected within Magiq, you hit the Focus button and it will lock down everything in your document except that isolated item. From there you can safely modify it without interfering with other parts of the comic. This is a great boon for content creators who have many objects and items. In order to get back to the whole document, simply click the button. The "Front" button duplicated the "Arrange" menu item in Deluxe (an identical feature of the same name in Adobe apps.)  This allows an object to be pushed forwards and backwards in order to have the right overlapping desired.

The bottom toolbar has word balloons, captions, FX lettering, and templates. It is set as a default to "ALL" which I like to keep on. However if you don’t have as much screen real estate, you can select individual views by clicking on the icons representing the different components.

The toolbars to the right contain your templates and panel layouts, the browser, and thumbnails of the selected content of your browser.

In the middle is your workspace. Like Deluxe, most everything in Maqiq is drag and drop. Here I already selected my template, and dragged a layout over from Panel Layouts.


One important word about the browser:

It will not automatically refresh. Which means any new content added will not show up.  This can be easily remedied by clicking this icon located in the upper right corner.

Let’s make a comic!

When you open Magiq, pick a blank layout to start with.

After it loads up and you see the GUI, go to Comic Life Magiq>Preferences. I set my "New comics filter images" to 300 dpi.  I want to make sure when I do my export that the image will be of good quality. Going from 300 to 72 dpi should be a lot cleaner than going 72 to an even lossier 72 dpi.  Also from Preferences, you can turn off sounds should you not find them amusing. Also, you can customize the library browsing, and units of measurement.

Next, go to File>Page Layout. From here you can select from a plethora of media sizes which have been expanded greatly from Deluxe. The Tao of I.T. Al is a custom layout of 600×600. I created this setting by setting the size I wanted and then applied it. To make it a template, simply go to File>Save As Template.  It will then show up at startup with your other templates.

When done, go to "Panel Layouts" in the right toobar and select a layout. Start dragging images from the browser, also on the right. If your folder is not showing up, you can drag it into the browser. And good news for those who like organization…it remembers this folder whenever you relaunch the program. As you drag your layouts and pictures, don’t worry If it is not exactly right. We can further modify it.  Notice when you click once on image, you see panel editing handles.  Clicking twice creates the image handles. In either case, you get this outline with tools:

The top purple arrows allow you to rotate. The bottom green arrows move the selection. The green handles around the image resize it. 

What is most interesting is the bottom orange tool, which calls up this popup toolbar:

This toolbar allows you to edit the paths on your objects, much like a vector graphic program (like Illustrator) would.

  • The first icon is the Shape chooser, which brings up a popup menu where you can turn your object into a variety of polygons.
  • The second is the selection tool, which is pretty much like every selection arrow tool known to man.
  • The third icon is the line bending tool, which allows you to grab a point and turn it into a convex or concave curve.
  • The fourth is the Line/corner smoothing tool which smooths out paths by straightening lines and rounding corners.
  • The fifth and six icons are the Add Point and Remove Point tools respectively. The last two are the Add Part and Remove Part Tool, which will come in handy later when we get to word balloons.

When you select your image, you’ll notice this icon to the upper right of your selection: 


When clicked, this will open up a graphics palette that will allow you to manipulate your images.

The Graphics Palette contains the following choices:

  1. Colors contains various color correction and manipution tools, as well as inversion and cropping.
  2. Cut-Out contains tools for cutting out parts of the image, chroma keying, appyling shapes, and masking options.
  3. Warp adds distortion effects similiar to photoshop and liquifying tools.
  4. Skin (pictured above) is interesting as it allows you to paint some textures into a graphic. Here I took some "flames" and applied them to the background to make it look like the building caught on fire. Filter is the familiar photo filter options. Paint allows you to paint several types of brushes directly on top of your image. "Reset Layer" will reset the image back to its former status. When you are finished, click done and it will return the edited graphic back into the normal Magiq GUI.
  5. Filter, although it sounds photoshop-esque is in fact various blur tools.
  6. Paint contains paint tools, including a 3d tube brush, which allows you to draw on top of your image. Right here is where you want to paint a mustache on your cousin.

Once the images are fully tweaked, it’s time to add some dialogue and captions. Simply choose the balloon or caption desired and drag it onto the canvas.

The default font is Lint McCree Intl bb 12.0. To select a different font, simply go to the left toolbar and select the "T" icon. There is an expanded list of fonts provided by Magiq, but you can also access your System fonts by selected that option at the bottom. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a way to reset the default font. My workaround is to copy and paste balloons already have the desired font settings.

To those familiar with Deluxe, the feature of adding a connecting balloon appears missing. However, it’s been put into the popup toolbar accessed by the orange icon.

To add, simply hit the green "plus" symbol and an additional connected balloon will appear. This can be moved into a different position with a simple click and drag. To remove the additional balloon, select it and then hit the red "minus" symbol.

To make extra tails, do the same thing by clicking on the Add Part tool. To remove, click on the Remove Part and then the tail.

Note here that you can edit the balloon paths much like any other object in Magiq.

When you are done, go to File>Export. You will see a plethora of tabbed options with various configurations. You can send it to Email and Flickr (which has options for permissions on viewership.) HTML creates a webpage with thumbnails of your comic whichcan be used "as is" or be taken into your favorite HTML editor and be further manipulated. Image gives you the options to export as JPEG, GIF, PNG, or TIFF. You can also export it to iPhoto, iWeb, or as a PDF.

Congratulations. You have a comic!

If I had one gripe, it is that Magiq does present a problem to Deluxe users as you cannot open a Deluxe document within Magiq. If you have a large backlog of Deluxe documents, this creates a problem should you need to re-open Deluxe in order to back up and edit your comics to another medium.  For now you need both programs if you plan to migrate.

Panels & Gutters & Zip Ribbons Sequential Art Workflow

The Tao of Workflow

Like most webcomics on their first year, The Tao of I.T. Al has changed over the months, as the workflow has been changed and refined.

Originally I had followed the current "traditional" comics art route with pencils and inked work done with actual graphite, ink and paper.  These were then scanned, cleaned up, and then painted digitally.  Now I work entirely digitally using Corel’s Painter for pencils and Adobe Illustrator for inking and coloring. Some backgrounds are hand drawn, but I primarily rely on a growing library of scratch-made resources made in Illustrator. Workflow is important to me because it the more it speeds up the processes, the more time I can spend drawing!

October’s batch of Al is done, and he’s back in action. Much of the recent material has been concentrating on the supporting characters, but Al has reasserted himself recently. It’s good to draw him in full martial arts mode. And it comes out so easily.  It’s rather odd that one of my major skills is to draw a large armadillo in a hakama! The hakama, sometimes known as "samurai pants", is a very elegant traditional garment worn by aikido, kendo, kenjitsu, iado, and Japanese archery practitioners.  Back when I was practicing aikido, I thought it made my technique look ten times better than it did.

Commerce Digital Lifestyles Panels & Gutters & Zip Ribbons

Aikido Al’s Comic Con Slideshow

San Diego Comic-Con 2008: Mostly highlights of the vast Exhibitor’s Hall, with some additional shots of around the convention area.

Commerce Digital Lifestyles Panels & Gutters & Zip Ribbons

San Diego Comic-Con 2008

Part 1: Yikes! (an overview)

"Geek is good" said Marc Bernardin, Entertainment Weekly and Senior Editor on Friday’s Entertainment Weekly’s Filmmakers panel. 

That’s the second impression you get after the initial shock of the sheer size of the convention.  It is about 200,000 of your closest friends.  This year was the first Comic-Con that sold out entirely through pre-registration.

  The central core of Comic-Con is "comics."  In reality it’s a multimedia cross-section of pop-culture.  Picture if you will the football field-sized Exhibitor’s Hall.  Major movie studios such as Sony, Paramount, and Warner Brothers rub shoulders comfortably alongside the big two of the comics industry: DC and Marvel.  Video game companies such as NCSoft, Square Enix, and Sony Computer Entertainment also showcase their latest work, as well as television networks such as Fox, BBC America, and the Independant Film Channel giving previews of their latest shows.  Add to that a myriad of independant artists and comics companies, comics vendors, art suppliers, tabletop gaming companies, toy companies, and organized fan groups.

Commerce Digital Lifestyles Graphics Panels & Gutters & Zip Ribbons

Highlights of’s Comic Con 2008 Gallery

Photos by Carl Perry/