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What you see is what you get, I'm just a guy who likes drawing. Jesus is Lord.

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Carltoons's News

Posted by Carltoons - 3 days ago


Sometimes, you need to be harder on yourself in order to make a story better. The Headde dream sequence came off as a bit pretentious to me and bloated the story a bit upon re-reads, so it has been replaced with a much more succinct introduction to Headde's new position as Gorp's underling.iu_484119_8232320.png


I feel as if dream sequences are a bit easy to fuck up from a story telling perspective. Going all in on "symbolism" can work well for a story with more things to say. For an adventure story like Barrel Shell, however, it can come off as the author getting their head stuck up their own ass. Something I'm cognizant of and do not want to do!

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Don't get me wrong, I still want some form of "slow burn" tension here, but comics ain't novels, so I'm thinking more in terms of what would work as a "comic" now. What's more "comic book" than a villain and his underling discussing the creation of their latest monster!iu_484120_8232320.png

There will be more to this scene than what I've shown so far. Some foreshadowing of the "greater threat" like the dream sequence had, but in a more direct manner. I feel this is more true to the story's inspirations.


It also allows me to put more focus on the heroes in the first act. Drawing more of the crew on the job is a joy fr.iu_484122_8232320.pngiu_484123_8232320.png

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Posted by Carltoons - September 23rd, 2021


So, after having to fulfill some obligations last week, I'm back later than expected. Thankfully, this gave me some time to mull over the direction I was taking. After mulling over the title a bit more, I decided to change it. The poem still has a hand in inspiring the events of this tale, but having a line from a poem as a title for an adventure felt very flowery, almost stuffy and pretentious.

A line from a metal song, from a band whose lyrics also had a heavy hand in inspiring this story, on the other hand? Now, that's more in line with what Barrel Shell's about. iu_427691_8232320.png Two Black Sabbath songs, one from the Ozzy days, and one from their Dio days, were the inspiration here. "Iron Man" is a classic staple of rock and metal for good reason; Dehumanizer's "I", whose album name is referenced at some point in this story was another big influence, particularly on the character of Gorp. He is "The first to escape" from the time capsules after all! As for who the "Iron Man" is on this cover, coming off of the previous chapter, I'm sure you'll be able to guess who it is based on the lyrics of that song alone! iu_427980_8232320.pngAs for how Headde factors into all this, this dream sequence he has at the beginning has been a means to elaborate on the Professor's ambitions and perfectly normal mental state a little. Drawing him is fun and of all the pirates, he's probably my favorite of the whole bunch. He may not be as imposing as the others, but his mechanical prowess is the driving force behind their whole operation.iu_427690_8232320.pngStill this prologue will be brief, can't have one villain hogging all the limelight from the bigger baddies, or the heroes for that matter.iu_427692_8232320.pngDream worlds should look cool and kinda "off" ideally, I hope I've managed to achieve that.


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Posted by Carltoons - September 13th, 2021


Hello everyone! I don't have much to say for this update other than that it's still in progress.

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I plan on getting more pages ready tomorrow if possible. I'm hopeful you all like it!

iu_417629_8232320.pngWhere is Headde anyways? Looks weird.


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Posted by Carltoons - September 6th, 2021


Script is finished, got some thumbnails done, and now I'm onto sketching pages. Miles to Go Before I Sleep starts with a page summarizing the events of the previous story. I was initially gonna have a title crawl like the kind used in the old black and white Buck Rogers serials (the ones Star Wars imitated), but I didn't really think that worked for a comic. Without the "crawl" part of a title crawl that can only be accomplished in film, a title crawl is just a big block of text on a page. This way of recapping events is a lot more natural for a comic. iu_410872_8232320.pngI wasn't sure how to do this at first, but I decided using a radio as the centerpiece to give the narration accompanying the panels a physical presence. Radio dramas were huge back in the day, and Barrel Shell takes place in a very "retro" sort of world; so, it fits the aesthetic I feel. Radio itself is also a big part of the world Barrel Shell takes place in. Radio communications, jamming, and interference played a heavy role in The Time Capsule, with the cyborg pirates being connected to their own frequency via their own bodies being a weakness the heroes happily exploited.


Radio as a tool is under-utilized in a lot of fiction, probably because it's such a common part of our lives, we've begun to take it for granted, and that the internet has captured our attention way more. Ironic, considering the internet would not have existed, had we not first learned to broadcast via radio waves. Radio is sort of a "proto-web" in that sense. It's an information superhighway for the analogue world, and I think that's neat. There's a lot of potential for storytelling there, especially in a fantasy or sci-fi setting.


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Posted by Carltoons - August 31st, 2021


It's no secret I dig robots, mechs, cyborgs, and so on. The script for the new Barrel Shell installment is nearly complete and everything's looking in good shape. So, as a way of giving you a bit of design history on Barrel Shell, as well as a way to credit the mecha stories and cool giant robots that inspired it, I'd like to talk about how the shells came to be and what influenced them and the world they inhabit.iu_405425_8232320.png I always wanted to make a mecha story. Not just a story that happened to have mechs in them, but one in which the mechs and their function in the world at large was at the center of the story. What's the right or wrong way to use such a machine? What's the right or wrong way to view them? How do they tie into the culture, the economy, or religion of a world? Would they be treated as special, or as just another vehicle? These questions, whether consciously, or subconsciously, influence the direction of a story in this subgenre. Whether it be in a "superheroic" or "over-the-top" story, like Mazinger Z, or in a "grounded" or "tacticool" setting like Battletech. Initially, in order to distance shells somewhat from a lot of other mechs, I decided they would be much smaller in scale. At one point fairly early on, shells were basically just power armor.iu_405424_8232320.png Enter an unfinished, and frankly not too great webcomic I made called Hullgrave. This was basically a testing grounds for a lot of the ideas later used in Barrel Shell. Not good in execution at all, but an important step. Even though I gave up on Hullgrave, due to it being a poorly planned mess, the world it presented still interested me and begged to be explored in a more cohesive manner. Thankfully, another webcomic idea I had developed in tandem with Hullgrave, intended to take place in the same world, was waiting right there for me.

iu_405427_8232320.pngShells started as power armor in this project as well, before becoming bigger. iu_405426_8232320.png

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The biggest change was definitely the cast, however. Especially the main protagonist. Rick started out as a scrawny nerd mechanic, but developed into a fit and ready adventurer, itching for a fight. The change was gradual, but with every drawing he became more "macho" and I just ran with it.iu_405429_8232320.png While still cartoony, characters and their mechs were starting to adopt a "meaner" look, and I felt that was the proper direction for a series about adventurers for hire. Rick went from a nerd to an adventure-craving soldier of fortune, so Barrel had to follow suit. The robots themselves started looking more alive, having facial expressions and personalities of their own.iu_405428_8232320.pngiu_405431_8232320.png


The Tezuka/Ishinomori influence is still there, but if I had to point to a robot property as the singular biggest visual influence to the mechs of Barrel Shell, it's definitely Megaman. I've heard more than a few people say it reminds them of Legends, but truth be told, while Legends (especially Misadventures of Tron Bonne) was an active influence, Megaman X was the biggest one. Those Mavericks always struck a perfect balance between the "cartoonish" look of prior Megaman games, and a cooler, more hard-edged/heavy metal aesthetic. Barrel himself has a body shape not too dissimilar from Spark Mandrill. This was a coincidence at first, but instead of trying to make it look less like Mandrill, I decided to lean into the hunched, rounded torso with four buttons even more, as I feel it gives a figure a sense of strength. Barrel's un-visored face is similar to the Iron Giant's, but the visored face, which I honestly prefer drawing, wasn't taken from any specific robot from any fictional property. It's instead inspired by the visors on medieval helmets, as well as the face cages on football helmets. It's made to look like a beak, mostly because I think birds are cool and it also ties in with flight as a consistent visual theme in these stories.


As for real world inspirations, lawncare equipment, power tools, tractors, etc. inform much of Barrel Shell's aesthetic. I really want the world to feel "blue-collar" in a sense. Even with his very cartoonish appearance, Barrel Shell himself is meant to feel like a mech your average working class civilian would use. I've always liked stories where heroes are faced with limited resources, and have to use what they have as efficiently as possible. Barrel will be getting upgrades in the future, if the story is to continue, however. As the bad guys start getting more powerful tools, Rick and co. have to follow suit to keep up!


As far as mecha inspirations for the world and story go, I dig the tension Mech Warrior and Armored core give you when parts of your mech get trashed. You may earn money for repairs from a successful mission, but how much is really gonna be left over once that is spent? How much more money are you gonna lose if you fail, AND your mech gets trashed? It encourages players to "git gud" as the saying goes, in order to see better returns on completed missions. Barrel Shell's world doesn't bear any resemblance to those in appearance, but I wanted a similar kind of setup where a private contractor has to navigate the hazardous politics of several different factions, and the financial pitfalls of owning and operating a mech. It is my hope that readers will still find that sort of hardship compelling, even when placed in a far more fantastical setting and story.


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Posted by Carltoons - August 26th, 2021


Finished the second draft of the script, and I'm feelin' good about it so far. Also finished the lineart on the title page. Since I'm talking about things that shaped these stories in these updates, I figured I'd note three less obvious ones, and how they shaped this entry, in particular.iu_400683_8232320.png

MC Escher's work is among them. His bizarre prints that play with perspective and light, forming the illusion of impossible rooms and buildings are among my favorite works of art. Escher's style of portraying these worlds that don't quite follow the rules of the universe around us is very dreamy and surreal; it gets the wheels turning and helps the viewer to imagine types or planes of existence beyond our own.

On the other end we have Steve Ditko. Mr. Ditko's work on Marvel books like Dr Strange and Spider-Man is phenomenal, but when it comes down to it, Ditko's best work will always be his self-published stuff. Ditko was a man who was very strictly uncompromising in his point of view, and believed thoroughly in a strict dichotomy between good and evil. He often found ways of portraying the abstract forms of such ideas in concrete and symbolic ways, creating interesting and haunting imagery in the pages of works like Mr. A and The Avenging World.


Lastly, there's Clive Staples Lewis. I love Lewis' work. I have an extreme sense of nostalgia for the Narnia series and its strangeness. People often joke, "lol the Lion is like Jesus, funneh", but that fails to even scratch the surface of the kind of things that happen in Narnia outside of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In the second book, and prequel to the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the Magician's Nephew, it is revealed that Our world and Narnia are two of many worlds that can be accessed via a strange woodland area, and that these many universes begin, age, and end according to their own timetables. In C.S. Lewis' Space trilogy, mankind invents rocket ships and comes face to face with animal-like talking creatures and angels who command entire planets, as well as evil spirits who manipulate man. (Honestly, my description doesn't even come close to doing it justice.) Lewis was a champion of fairy tales in an academic landscape that deemed old stories as "rubbish", a champion of Religion in an environment of skeptics, and a champion of knightly chivalry and honor after the bloodiest war in history had broken out. His work, in spite of its literary acumen and his own academic achievments, has a real outsider feel because of this.


These three are worlds apart in style and subject matter, but they all act as gateways to these "other worlds" where the presumptions of modernity are shaken. I appreciate art like that.


For the next update, I want to talk about something far less "academic". I want to talk about cool giant robots.


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Posted by Carltoons - August 24th, 2021


Miles to Go Before I Sleep is the tentative title of the next Barrel Shell chapter. I've finished the story outline, and have a solid idea of where to go next. My love of both fairy tales like the works of the brothers Grimm, as well as Carlo Collodi's Pinnochio; and sci-fi properties like Thunderbirds and OG Star Trek were pretty big influences on the way this story is being shaped. I want Barrel Shell to feel like a sort of fairy tale themed sci-fi/fantasy adventure serial. There are some fairly obvious manga and tokusatsu elements as well. iu_398629_8232320.pngAs for influences on the art front, I've always dug Tezuka's work and I'm a big fan of Ishinomori as well. So, it really shows. Classic disney films and shorts had a profound influence on me since I was a child, and my fondness for Fleischer Studios' Popeye cartoons and the comic strips they were based on is fairly obvious. Doug Tennapel's work, particularly Neverhood and graphic novels like Gear, are also influences. Think of posts like these as a means to both document my progress, and credit the works and artists that inspired me. As the main difference between reference and plagiarism is citation.iu_398630_8232320.pngAs for the title of the story, Miles to Go Before I Sleep is a phrase taken from a poem by Robert Frost. The poem itself, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, evokes imagery of woods owned by an unnamed man living in a nearby village. The woods themselves are portrayed as seemingly empty and very dark, but also having a beauty to them. The man himself presses on past the woods, because he can't be distracted due to obligations he must fulfill. You can read the poem here, if you're interested.


https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42891/stopping-by-woods-on-a-snowy-evening


Without giving away what will happen in this story, Multiple characters will be confronted with a beautiful, but consuming darkness. Their choices in this story will determine whether they succumb or carry on with their duty.


If you've read through this blog post, thank you for your time! God bless.


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Posted by Carltoons - August 23rd, 2021


Work has begun on the second Barrel Shell story. I plan on this one being a bit moodier and more macabre than the last one. I also plan on it being shorter.iu_397626_8232320.png


Posted by Carltoons - August 23rd, 2021


iu_397533_8232320.pngHappy to say I've finished the first Barrel Shell stoy. It ends on a sort of cliffhanger for now, and I've got more stories I want to tell. Hopefully, I'll be able.


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Posted by Carltoons - May 31st, 2021


I haven't really done much by way of posting actual full pieces here recently, as I've been working on two comics simultaneously. Even so, I'll probably be able to go back to posting new pieces on my page soon. For now, here's a few dragblade panels I'm happy with.iu_318650_8232320.pngiu_318649_8232320.pngiu_318651_8232320.png


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