Monday, December 06, 2004

No News

As you've probably already guessed if you read this page, the "soon-to-come final word" from LesH has been neither soon to come, nor final. I'm not betraying any confidences by saying that we still don't know the score, but Jim and I have decided to begin work on the new Omaha material as our schedules permit, so that we have some actual product to show either LesH or another publisher, if it comes to that. So my studio has become a busy place. Beginning work on the new pages is currently taking a back seat, though, to my getting all my outstanding commissions done and shipped in time for the holidays.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

With brush in hand...

We are awaiting a soon-to-come final word from Les Humanoides ... will we be able to continue with them, or will we have to look somewhere else?

I went last weekend to the MCBA Fall Comicon in St. Paul. This was my first public appearance in seven years. I was a late addition to the guest list, so I expected to have some time to set up before greeting anyone, but in fact, the Omaha fans were waiting for me.

I greeted the fans as best I could, told them the story, and took brush in hand and began to draw, no computer assistance, no net, nothing but me and my precious characters and the Bristol board, and it was scary, and it was good.

I heard a lot of "It's really good to see you again," a lot of "I'm so glad you're continuing," a lot of "I have always loved Omaha..."

It was humbling, and it felt so good.

It became easier as I continued to draw throughout the weekend. But at the end, it became difficult again, as I became once again involved with what I was doing, and sometimes my heart ached terribly as I painted the familiar lines of these figures that are so much a part of my life, and Kate's, and Jim's too.

It was a wonderful little convention, and I got to talk to old friends, Chas Truog, Gordon Purcell, my beloved former apprentice Diana Green, charter Vootie member Tim Fay, Kitchen Sink compatriot Mark Schultz (briefly), Joel Thingvall, Greg Ketter and Alan Payne. I stayed Friday night with Chris Conroy and Sue Grandys, who have supported me as friends all these years.

I guess I'm back now, for better or worse.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Kate Sings Again

Well, I had to do something to help bring in a few bucks to keep me and Jim afloat until LesH stop stalling and give us that contract. Jim has finished several pages of the new Omaha material, and they're great, and I'm drawing them .. but nobody has offered to pay us for them yet, so other work has to take the front seat.

Anyway, I did a digital restore job on the master tape for the 1988 picture disk album "Omaha The Cat Dancer" by The Shakers (me, Kate, Nate Bucklin, Allan Standish, +David Emerson and others). I wanted as good a version of this music as possible to listen to while I was re-learning how to draw comics the Omaha way. So I've ripped the results to .MP3 and put the disk up for download at my store, just for the fans.

Jim and I are having a bittersweet-but-pleasant time working on Omaha together. I just hope that we can finish this project in such a way as to do Kate the honor she deserves.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

What can I do for Kate's family?

Flowers are not being accepted. Those wishing to donate money to the family can send via PayPal to Jim at .

Cards of sympathy, or whatever you might think of, can be sent to Jim at:
James Vance
323 S Yorktown
Tulsa OK, 74104

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Farewell Kate

As you may or may not have already read, Kate Worley passed away June 6, 2004. She is survived by her husband James Vance, son Jacob, and daughter Sarah, as well as two sisters, a brother and several nieces and nephews. You can read or leave condolences, talk with other Omaha fans, and find out the answers to your questions at the CAT-DANCING-WITH-OMAHA yahoo group (see button on sidebar).

I'm not ready to talk about this in depth. So instead I will talk about Omaha.

In spite of the difficulty of our separation many years ago, Kate and I gradually tried to make peace, and were finally talking comfortably, and by the time the inquiries started to come about whether Omaha could be finished, we were both excited at the prospect of picking up our unfinished business and doing more of the work that made us what we are. At this moment I have two pages written by Kate only a few weeks ago, sitting on my drawing table in the midst of being inked.

If the Omaha project contract does in fact go through in spite of Kate's passing, the writing work will be concluded by James Vance, with my assistance, from the copious notes that Kate has left in preparation for the story's completion. Jim is not only Kate's spouse, he is also probably the only other writer working in comics who has a voice anything like Kate's. It will not be easy for us to complete this highly personal work, after all the heartbreak and trouble associated with it over the years, and now this sadness. But it's something that needs to be done, now, and I hope that Les Humanoides will give us an opportunity to do so.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Back to Holding Breath

The news is not good. After a short period of stability, just long enough for her to start getting some strength back and think about writing, Kate's cancer has flared up again. She is back in rad and chemo as of today, and more treatments. This despite the increased risks of repeated radiation to the spinal column, but there's really no choice. For those desiring to send well wishes, I will post pertinent information on the cat dancing Yahoo group.

I am hoping, as I know you all are, that things go well, and Kate has some more time with us, Omaha or no Omaha.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Back In the Comic Biz!

The negotiations to begin the production of the new issue of the Omaha series are close to completion, and Kate is working now on the outlines for the 92 pages of NEW material we will be doing to complete the story arc. Kate says she will have this outline to me and Denis by next week. WOW! Now I REALLY have to get the lead out, vacuum the studio, buy a ton of new bristol board, clean off the hard drive, and get ready to go back to work after eight years of sitting on my butt.

I want to thank all the fans who have ordered commissioned drawings from me, without which practice I don't think I'd be able to face this prospect realistically. Now that everything "Omaha" is going to crash priority, expect fast turnaround on the sketches, and lots of news as it breaks, here and on the Yahoo group.

What I have done in the last four months, is (a) develop computer character models for the Omaha characters (only Omaha and Chuck are currently at working versions), (b) get back into drawing and brush rendering practice, (c) re-read the series for content and style .. you know, I almost forgot how good Kate was ...

I'm excited all over again at the possibility that this book may finally find its audience now that popular taste has caught up with what Kate and I were doing twenty years ago. That's what I'm hoping for, anyway. No matter what, it's going to feel really great to be doing Omaha pages again, and have new deadlines to be terrified by.

Omaha and CGI

Back in 1980 when the first news of Apple Computer was starting to break, I was envisioning a situation where I could interactively create and manipulate standing sets and characters for a computer-assisted comic book series. This was when I was halfway through the process of drawing the first Omaha comic.

I was able to realize some of this by 1986 when Kate and I finally broke down and bought a PC, and I did some of the set design and virtual background photography on the PC in a primitive "My House" sort of interior design program. The state of desktop software was not to the point where it was practical to try to design and pose characters, but it helped to be able to rotate and print wireframe models of the apartment and the Tabey mansion.

Fast forwards to 1995 .. Omaha is over, but at the same time, I had had a year of computer graphics training at the technical school, had acquired a Mac, and had been introduced to a new piece of software called Poser. At that point it was a simple fast program for posing virtual artists manikins. This program helped me produce a computer colored and partly rendered book, Tumbling Boxes, in 1996.

In the intervening years I've done virtually no drawing but a lot of CGI work, including third party modelmaking, and now I hope that these contemporary skills will help me realize my original intention of using the computer to help maintain a coherent universe for the comic characters, without any visible signs of "computer" stuff being done. We'll see.