Final version of last week’s drawing.
There’s not a whole lot to say about this picture. It’s a Batman-inspired piece (a phrase you’ll become familiar with on Thursday Scribbles), but a little different from ones I’ve done before.
I have old sketchbooks laying around filled with various renditions of Batman and the madmen and monsters that plague Gotham City. For this one, I wanted to focus a bit more on one of his allies, and the city itself. Batman gets reduced to a symbol, still making his presence felt despite not being there. He’s probably just outside the edges of the image, swinging or gliding his way to the rooftop to find out about the latest nefarious activities in the city.
Last week, I mentioned a detective story that I’d been working on and had indefinitely put aside. The post also included some character portraits of the story’s main good guys. Below are the remaining main characters, the not-so-nice guys (and gals):
We start of with Dan Finnegan, better known as Nervous Dan. Dan’s a pawnbroker who fences illegal goods on the side, and is also an informant for both the police and some of the major crime bosses. There’s very little going on in the city that he doesn’t know about, but information can be a burden, and Dan’s spent a lot of time looking over his shoulder, waiting for a bullet or a knife to make its way through him. With eyes and ears everywhere, Dan might be able to shed some light on the D.A.’s murder, if he can just calm down for a second.
Genevieve is a lounge singer at the Four Leaves Club. She’s an enigma, but people are usually too mesmerized by her voice and her face to ask too many questions. Charming and soft-spoken, this songstress puts everyone around her at ease, often causing them to let their guard down and reveal their innermost secrets. The D.A. was known to visit the club on occasion, and it’s possible he was there for more than just the music.
Growing up in the slum known as the Boneyard as part of a large but fragmented family, Elizabeth Parker was dealt a bad hand by life. But she decided to change her luck and joined up with a local gang lord to run a small gambling den in her neighborhood. Over the years, Lucky Betty built up her own syndicate and took control of the Four Leaves Club. As the city’s gambling queen, she was one of the prime targets of the D.A.’s campaign. Could she have taken the biggest gamble of her life by snuffing him out?
Bernie ‘The Owl’ Kowalski is the most feared crime boss in the city, with a hand in almost every major criminal enterprise. He’s as vicious as he is cunning, and makes sure none of his activities can be connected to him. Since the arrival of the new D.A., his empire’s been slowly shrinking and he’s found himself on the brink of a gang war. But Bernie the Owl’s not giving up his power so easily. He’s got a plan that’ll knock out his rivals and leave no doubts about who’s in charge. Was having the D.A. killed part of the plan?
So there you have it. These are the 8 principal characters in my story who navigate the various twists and turns that lead to the mystery’s resolution. As I said, I may get back to that at some point. I’ve enjoyed bringing these guys out again the last couple of weeks, and this is the first time I’ve actually written out the character bios, so that was fun. Who knows, maybe I’ll have a burst of inspiration and have the story read by next week….that’s insanely optimistic, though.
But for now, I’m happy to have created a stage and cast of characters for a drama to play out. We’ll see when I get to open the curtain. Perhaps, until then, you can play detective yourself. Who do you think did it?
About six months ago, I had an idea for a detective story. It was going to be a noir-inspired tale of a down-on-his-luck detective who gets pulled into a mystery by an alluring female acquaintance. Bullets, broads and bad guys would collide as our cynical hero tracked down the murderer of a prominent public figure.
I had planned to write it in 8 chapters, weaving an enigmatic but not overly-tangled web. However, trying to plot it out was a time-consuming process, and I wasn’t too thrilled with the first chapter that I cranked out. The story was also meant to launch my blog, so the longer it took to finish, the longer the blog would have to wait. So I shelved the idea indefinitely and decided to get the blog moving instead. That decision seems to have worked out well.
Here’s a little teaser I’d written up for the story:
Rick Braddock is a standard-issue private eye with all the standard issues. Drunk, cynical, surly and broke, he’s become redundant in a dirty city that’s starting to get cleaned up. So when old friend Karen Sloane comes knocking on his door to ask for help in tracking down her missing fiancé, he jumps on it right away.
Things get more complicated when District Attorney James Calloway, Karen’s fiancé and the city’s leading crusader of justice, is found dead in his office, shot by two bullets from two different guns. In a crooked town, a man like that makes a lot of enemies, but which one decided to take care of business once and for all?
To find the answer, the disheveled detective and the distressed damsel will have to wade through the seedy world of warring mobsters and political corruption. But the real threat might lie closer than Braddock realizes, and his good friend could turn out be his worst enemy.
Reading that again, I realize that part of my problem was also that I couldn’t decide on the tone of the story. Did I want it to be fun, with an exaggerated noir vibe? Or a serious mystery? Hopefully, whenever I get back to working on it, I’ll have figured that out.
I had also planned a series of illustrations to accompany the story. There were character portraits to familiarize my readers with the main ‘cast’, and there would be a ‘cover’ image for each chapter in the story. Doing all that would, of course, only prolong the whole process further, so I just did the portraits and called it a day.
Below are the main good guys of the story (or as good as you can get in a shady, corrupt town):
First up is Rick Braddock, private eye. An ex-cop without much regard for authority, Braddock became a private investigator to seek out justice on his own terms. Business was good for a while, but the arrival of a new and promising D.A. had caused the well of crime to dry up. Reduced to chasing philandering husbands, Braddock’s ready to call it quits when a knock on his door leads to his most dangerous case yet.
Karen Sloane is the police commissioner’s headstrong daughter and had been a close friend of Braddock’s during his time on the force, though her father never approved of their friendship. They drifted apart after Braddock quit, and she wound up dating the new D.A. The two of them became tabloid darlings, especially after their engagement. When Karen’s crusading fiance’s goes missing, there’s only one man she can turn to for help, but she’s not going to like what she finds.
Commissioner Tom Sloane has seen a lot of ugliness during his time on the force, from bloodthirsty mobsters to crooked politicians. He still believes in the law, however, and is as hard-nosed as they come. He’s extremely protective of his daughter and never cared for her friendship with Braddock, whose disregard for regulations rubbed him the wrong way. Sloane’s already got his hands full trying to solver the murder of the new D.A. and really doesn’t need Braddock nosing around.
District Attorney James Calloway is the city’s golden boy. He had promised to wipe out crime during his campaign and it’s a promise he ‘s delivered, sending the world of organized crime into chaos. He’s made a lot of enemies on both sides of the law as a result, but his crusade hasn’t stopped. Until the day he disappears from his office, only to end up there that same evening with two bullet holes in his chest.
Up next: The Villains!
While I normally draw cartoons and exaggerated figures, I have recently dipped my toes (or, well, fingers) into the more realistic end of the pool. This was one of my attempts at ‘realism’ from about a year ago.
I can’t really remember the story behind this image. Maybe it was inspired by a movie I’d seen, or maybe it sprang from some story idea that I later forgot. At least part of it was an attempt to draw an attractive female portrait, as that’s been one of my weak points when drawing. I’m much more comfortable drawing freaks and monsters. Make of that what you will.
There was no reference picture for this. I may have looked at some pictures to get some idea of how the shading would look (around the neck and shoulder blades, for example) or how her hair would frame her face, but this isn’t based on a picture of anyone. I just had a face in mind and decided to draw it.
The only thing I know for certain is that I wanted to draw someone determined. Someone that has a mission and will not let anyone stand in the way of its success. Is she avenging the death of a family member? A lover? Is she trying to break someone out of prison? Or planning a major heist? I don’t know. Maybe you can come up with a story for her. And even a name. Rosa, perhaps. Or Diana. I’ll let you be the storyteller in this case.
Due to my somewhat obsessive-compulsive tendencies, I also have no idea what this picture actually looks like. All I can see are the various flaws in execution and technical mistakes. A wrong choice of color here, a misplaced bit of shading there. I think her face swallowed her nose. Overall though, I hope it’s turned out half-decent. She still looks very cartoony, but it’s a process. I’ll work my way to making a proper portrait one day.
In addition to writing, I’m also very fond of drawing. Well, doodling. In fact, I was really more of a ‘drawer’ (I think ‘artist’ would be too generous) than a writer for most of my life. It’s only been in recent months that the writing part’s started coming to the fore.
So I figured I’d toss in a few of my random doodles onto the blog as well. I’m going to try and post something every Thursday, but we’ll see how that works out.
The idea of digital art is very appealing to me. I tend to get very messy when I draw, constantly erasing and re-drawing, which leaves a lot of smudges and generally results in stuff I’m not happy with. I was much happier drawing on MS Paint, but at the end of the day, it’s MS Paint. There’s only so much you can do with it.
Plus, using a mouse (and occasionally keyboard) to draw was just cumbersome for me. Kudos to all digital artists whose hands are steady enough to pull that off. So I stuck to drawing on paper, smudges and all. Until I got my first tablet.
Now that was a lot of fun. I could draw using a stylus, re-creating the feeling of drawing in a sketchbook without any of the mess. Awesome! Appropriately enough, one of the most recommended apps for that was Sketchbook, by Autodesk, which is what I use for all my drawing now (well, almost…it’s hard to give up pen and paper). When I first got it, I decided to mess around a little to get the hang of the various brushes and stuff available to me.
Starting us off on Thursday Scribbles is the product of that messing around: Bird In A Tree. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but still, a brief bit of background. I drew a bird in a tree, kinda liked it, and ended up repeating it three more times, ending up with a ‘four seasons’ theme. That was brief enough, I think. Oh, and I made a collage out of it.