Thursday, May 31, 2012

Intro Cartoon [6 days to launch!]


"Intro Cartoon"

Kevin and I have a comic strip at the beginning of every issue of Double Barrel that serves as our introduction as well as a mini-editorial of sorts. Normally the creation of a comic strip is not a terribly gripping process, but in order to capture both of our voices, this comic strip is drawn by both of us, each pencilling and inking ourselves, as well as whichever strikes our fancy in the background.

A lot of people ask us, "How do you collaborate?" The answer really depends on the project. Usually one of us will do all the lettering, one will do all of the characters, etc. Using this division of labor we end up with a book that looks consistent from beginning to end. With this Double Barrel intro cartoon, however, we wanted the strip to really reflect us as individuals, so you'll see my art style sitting right next to Kevin's style. The result is a little incongruous, but on purpose. Unlike other projects where we try to blend our styles seamlessly, here we want our individuality to come through.

Here I am writing the strip. Kevin and I brainstorm gags on a particular subject (this time it's "San Diego Comic-Con") and I flesh out a rough story based on our bullpen session. I frequently go off on various tangents while "writing" the strip, since I'm typically pencilling and dialoguing it at the same time to better make the gags work. It tends to keep the strip more interesting and less manufactured-looking and -sounding in the end.

Here's one of many desks that Kevin works on around the office. It's hard to see, but the portrait sitting under the lamp is of Kevin's favorite filmmaker, French New Wave auteur Luc Moullet. It was painted by another auteur, local phenom Matthew Kriske.

Since this particular cartoon won't air until July we don't want to give too much away. But here's a close-up of Kevin's lettering pencils sitting above my character pencils, which will then both be inked by Kevin.

And here's a fun split panel, where everything on the left was drawn by me, and Kevin took everything on the right. I basically only give Kevin a very rough sketch, enough to communicate what characters are where, what the basic layout is, what each word balloon says, but he is then set loose to render things however he wants. Sometimes I ask for the pages back so that I can make my half a little nicer to match his.

Oh, and look, here I am writing this very blog post.

Postscript:  Jam drawings are my favorite form of collaboration, particularly when each person works on their section one at a time, and the outcome is in doubt, like these Versus Comics Kevin and I did a few years back.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Digestate Submission [7 days to launch!]



Today I'm going to use this soapbox to promote a cool new project that I'm working on a submission for, called DIGESTATE. This is a comics anthology edited and produced by J.T. Yost, and is a celebration of all things food. Early on in the process we had to pick what section of the anthology we'd be in based on our own eating habits, and I happily signed up for the 'carnivore' section.

The anthology has a lot of big hitters signed on, including Noah van Sciver, Jeffrey Brown, Liz Prince, Box Brown, Hawk Krall, Berkeley Breathed, James Kochalka, Alex Robinson, Renée French, and -- phew, that's just a few. Happy to be included in that list, for sure.

I'm a little tardy in my submission, so I spent this past weekend listening to Twins games on the radio and trying to crank this thing out. Here are some snapshots of the work in progress, a 2-page spread of man-as-maggots covering a pretty nice slab of beef:

But Digestate won't happen without funding! So after you've purchased a copy of Double Barrel please consider heading over to Digestate's kickstarter page and putting down a few bucks to reserve your advance copy!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuesday Cartooning Tips! [8 days to launch!]

Tuesday Cartooning Tips!

If I want to be a cartoonist, should I go to art school?
Answered by Zander

Neither Kevin nor I went to art school. Kevin was a Fine Arts major, and I was an English major, both at Grinnell College, a liberal arts school in Iowa. One of the reasons that we didn't study cartooning is that it was just not something that could be studied in academia at the time. Even as recently as 2002, even if you went to art school, there was not necessarily going to be any cartooning or comic book art classes, much less a major, but of course times are different now. Comics and cartoons are accepted to be real, actual artistic endeavors worthy of study, so you don't have to triangulate your comics skills with related things like straight illustration, graphic design, and playwriting quite so much as you used to.

What Kevin and I did (coincidentally) was each write and draw a comic strip for Grinnell College's newspaper, the Scarlet and Black. If asked, we both profess a great love for the newspaper's unflinching deadline and school-of-hard-knocks public reception as practical learning tools.  There was really nothing pushing us to become better other than our own desire to improve and the cold hard light of day exposing the flaws in our drawings. That, and the fact that you just can hardly draw a year's worth of a weekly comic strip without getting a little better, made us each emerge from the other side with an array of skills that would be difficult to teach in a vacuum, such as:

1) How to envision a gag or story that will fit in the allotted space,
2) How to simplify an illustration or sequence to save time while still making it look good,
3) How to develop a rendering style with the materials at hand that reproduced well,
4) How to write concise dialogue that fits in small panels,
5) How to letter, design logos, and do sound effects in a couple different styles, and
6) How to let go of a drawing because it just has to be turned in RIGHT NOW.

All of this was on top of the usual things one might learn in order to do comics, like drawing -- or specifically, pencilling and inking -- and what pencils, pens, ink, and paper to use. Those are the things that make doing a comic strip or a comic book seem like realistic goals, because after you learn and internalize those things, any project will simply be a difference in scale: more pages, faster deadlines, bigger format, etc.

This kind of education was valuable for me and the way I think, but that only applies to me. Kevin learned a great number of skills I don't have by being a studio art major, such as painting or printmaking, and an art school education would be an even greater extension of that. Kevin has the ability to bring some of the art techniques he learned long ago to bear in his comics illustration that I simply have little knowledge of, and that is a great advantage for him.

So the short answer is: art school will teach you how to draw, paint, sculpt -- and now, even pencil, ink, and letter a comic -- but the practical, day-to-day skills in being a cartoonist can only be learned by doing the work exactly as you would in the real world: with deadlines, with an eye on reproduction, and with an audience.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Jin Comics [9 days to launch!]

Double Barrel will run comics about Jin every month for as long as he says funny stuff (and then after that for as long as it takes me to catch up!). This strip's guest star is cartoonist, raconteur, archivist, creator of the Cartoonist Conspiracy, and mastermind-at-large Steve Stwalley, whose work you can find at

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Double Barrel Launch Party on June 7! [10 days to launch!]



Please help us celebrate the launch of the first issue of Double Barrel by partying with us in our studio on June 7. It should be a great night -- The fine folks at Messy Giuseppe will be catering (that's a St. Paul-based food truck that Zander and I designed the identity for last summer and they have incredible Italian food), plus the monthly Cartoonist Conspiracy meeting will be happening downstairs in Diamond's Coffee Shoppe, so this will definitely be a building-wide party.

On a sad note, June 7 will also be the final Nordeast Comics Summit, so if you want to catch that, come by at 6:00 pm and hear Jon Sloan's presentation on 'The History of Comics.'

If you think you'll be coming, please RSVP on our Facebook event page -- otherwise just show up and have a good time!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Heck Design Secrets [11 days to launch]

When designing the character of Heck Hammarskjöld, I made him look distinctive by putting indelible shapes into his face:

1. Straight brow, broken up by furrows, 
2. Simple top-line-and-circle eyes, 
3. Y-shaped cheek wrinkles, 
4. Broken bridge of nose with three-bump nose bottom, 
5. Up-arrow-shaped chin dimple, and of course, 
6. a prominent philtrum.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sneak Peek [12 days to launch!]



Here is a teaser from Double Barrel No. 2, coming out in July.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

FAQ-a-palooza [13 days until launch]

Friend of Double Barrel Sarah Morean hit us with a barrage of questions regarding Double Barrel, and so when the smoke cleared, we responded! Here goes...

So is "Crater XV" going to be published as a whole? Or just serialized?

Crater XV and Heck are going to be serialized in Double Barrel over the next 12 months, with 1-3 chapters of each appearing in each monthly issue. At the end of the serialization, the projects will be collected into 2 fine hardcovers, and their spaces in Double Barrel will be given over to new ongoing projects. But before you say you're just going to wait for the trade...

And the first issue is 122 pages for 1.99?

That's right -- four chapters of Heck and four chapters of Crater XV, as well as a How-To, some FAQs, a comic introduction by us, some Jin comics, and various other ephemera. Every issue will be $1.99, and they will all be over 50 pages, so after 12 months, you will have shelled out $24 for two complete graphic novels (800 pages total).

Is it on newsprint?

Wait, no. What? Newsprint?! Hold on, I think I need to back up. Double Barrel is digital-only, released on mobile devices and computers via vendors such as iBooks, iVerse, Graphicly and Comixology, or through the Top Shelf app on iPhones, iPods, and iPads.

Is it paperback sized? Is it magazine sized? What is its size?

I... it... wait! It's... It's the size of your device that you read it on!

For me, it's the size of my iPad screen. For someone with a lot of patience, it's the size of an iPhone. It can be as big as you like on your computer. Top Shelf is packaging it as an ebook in a few different proprietary formats so that it can be distributed by as many e-comics portals as possible.

Is it all black and white?

Heck and Crater XV are all black and white, but Double Barrel itself will have some color stories, as well as color in its interstitial pages. Future serials may be in color as well.

Is Matt Kindt contributing to Double Barrel?

That is a question which we will direct to Matt Kindt the next time we see him.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Convention Sketches [14 days to launch!]



I had a little time on my hands while sitting behind a convention table this weekend, and here's what happened. Big thanks to Tim and Steve at Wet Paint Art in St. Paul for providing some samples of their new products at the store, thus giving me the necessary tools and motivation to do some drawin'. Wet Paint is a huge supporter of the Twin Cities comics scene, and if you live anywhere near the 651 area code you should purchase all of your supplies there. Why are you even reading this? You should be there right now, cradling all the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen refills you can hold.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Double Barrel LAUNCH COUNTDOWN! [15 days left]

Tuesday Cartooning Tips!

What's your computer setup?
Answered by Zander

Here at Kevin's and my studio, in 2012, we have a fairly modest computer setup:

Mac Mini: Simple, reliable, fast. Used for coloring, touch-ups, and prepress.
23" Acer LCD monitor
MacBook Pro: For home projects and writing.
Epson Stylus 3-in-1 inkjet printer/scanner: For quick, small-format scans. Kevin tells me he ran out of ink on it but never bothered to get more.
Wacom Bamboo tablet: For digital painting and coloring.

Custom-built PC (running Windows 7): Used for scanning, coloring, touch-ups, and pre-press.  I was a long-time Mac guy until I was stuck on a Windows XP machine for a couple years. I got used to it, and then realized when I was set to get a new one that it was going to be significantly cheaper to get a built machine than a Mac, not to mention it could be upgraded more easily. But of course I also have a:
MacBook Pro: This is an old laptop that I bought from Kevin's mom. Used for writing and desk-side Google Image Search.
Wacom 21" Cintiq: Incredibly enough, a gift from a client. I have drawn certain things on it, but have yet to make the leap to all-digital work. It has, however, made my line-art and lettering corrections much faster and much better, and made my coloring an entirely new experience.
23" Acer LCD monitor: High quality second monitor, for reference, email, or ftp while I draw.
19" Acer LCD monitor: Medium quality third monitor, entirely overkill (I put it on there because it was sitting around and there was an extra video-out port).
Microtek Scanmaker 9800XL (large format) scanner: An extremely useful tool-- high-resolution (1200dpi) large-format bitmap scans are primarily what we use this for, and we use it a LOT.
External HD: For backup in case of computer meltdown.

Canon i9900 (large format inkjet): For large, high-quality color printouts (for posters or blueline guides). It's nice to have only one inkjet printer in the studio, since because we use it for everything we print in color, we can focus exclusively on its array of its ink cartridges (and there are a lot).
Brother MFC 7800W (b&w laser 3-in-1): For letter-sized, large volume, crisp black-and-white printouts (for scripts, proofs or layout templates). I highly recommend having a black and white laser printer rather than a color inkjet. The toner cartridges last a long time (say, for printing out a hundred-page script) and the print quality is excellent (say, for printing out a file to be photocopied).

Monday, May 21, 2012

Some of Our Friends at SpringCon [16 days to launch!]



Had a great time at SpringCon this weekend. Saturday was a little sauna-like, but the weather broke Saturday night and turned Sunday into a gem.

The best part about these local shows is just having an excuse to see all of our comics friends in one place. We didn't get away from our table that often, but Zander was able to take a quick trip out with the camera in tow. If we posted photos of everyone we enjoyed seeing and talking to at SpringCon it would break the internet, so here are just a few:

Bill Willingham

Peter Gross

Peter Krause

Lance Ward

Jamal Igle

Ryan Kelly

Tim Sievert

Terry Beatty

Gordon McAlpin

Jeff Butler

Paul Fricke

Jon Sloan

Bob Lipski

Christopher Jones

Yikes, there aren't any women in the photos! We'll do a better sweep next time, we promise!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Double Barrel LAUNCH COUNTDOWN! [17 days left]



Yesterday was the official announcement of Double Barrel, which just happened to coincide with day one of SpringCon, a great local show that Zander and I have both been going to since our studio started in 2004. All of our favorite local creators and friends either come to or exhibit at Springcon, so we thought it would be the perfect place to introduce DB to the world.

Here's Zander behind our table. He brought his ipad to let people flip through a pdf version of the first issue. What a swell guy.

We'll both be there today from 10-5, so stop by and say hi!

Thanks, and please follow us on Twitter & Facebook!

Signing Out,

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Double Barrel LAUNCH COUNTDOWN! [18 days left]



Hi Everyone, and welcome to DOUBLE BARREL headquarters, where we'll be slowing rolling out a red carpet to the debut of the launch of our brand new indie pulp anthology. Who are "we", you might ask? The short answer is we're two Cannons who love making comics and who miss the good old days of serialized pulp stories. And since we each have a feature-length pulp graphic novel in the hopper, what better way to roll it out than through DOUBLE BARREL.

DOUBLE BARREL is a digital-only magazine that you can download on the cheap from Comixology, iBooks, iVerse, the Top Shelf app, and pretty much anywhere else you can get ebooks. During this 12-issue run we'll serialize two complete graphic novels: HECK, by Zander Cannon, and CRATER XV, by me, Kevin Cannon.

That's all we're going to say for now. Every day over the next 18 days we'll be posting content relating to the release: sneak peaks of the book, behind-the-scenes shots of your two favorite cartoonists, sketches, and other random stuff that is yet to be determined.

For today's tidbit we're posting the postcard that we're currently handing out at SpringCon. Yes, if you're reading this on May 19th and you live in the Twin Cities, then get your butt over to the state fairgrounds and hang out with us. Zander and I are there at this very moment throwing these postcards at any schmuck who walks by, but we've also got a preview copy of Double Barrel #1 on Zander's ipad, and he'll show it to you if you ask nicely. But if for some reason you live far, far away, here's our promotional postcard, to (hopefully) whet your tastebuds:

[click for a larger version, eh?]

So yeah, check back tomorrow -- and every day -- until Double Barrel launches on June 6!

Signing Out,