Featuring the Webcomics and Graphic Novels, Fantasy and Sci-Fi by Mark Oakley!
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What is, Thieves & Kings?

“Thoroughly engrossing self-published black-and white fantasy saga. [. . .] This is a story for fans of Bone, Elfquest, Nausicaa, or Harry Potter to fall in love with; highly recommended for teen and adult fantasy readers everywhere.”

   -The Library Journal

Learn about Mark Oakley and his work!

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Read a 25 page
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Mark’s sci-fi Web Comic!

Stardrop! Featuring the space Princess Ashelle living on Earth.
Bi-weekly webcomic!

Email Me!


or write to. . .

I Box Publishing
#1 - 614 Main St.
Wolfville, NS  B4P 1E8
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Articles of Note:

Response to Amazon and Kindle Direct Publishing


Art Software Review - OpenCanvas 6


Why Facebook is an unreliable tool for the Self Publisher


Three Questions from a Beginner Cartoonist


Comics in the New Media ~ How to Publish Comics on Tablets and eReaders Without Getting Ripped Off


Mark at the Movies:Superman, Man of Steel. Propaganda to dim the spirit and fan your fears.


Mark at the Movies: What do, Mirror Mirror, Hunger Games and Cabin in the Woods all have in common? More than you think!


Drawing Democracy


365 Days of Digital Cartooning - Drawing Comics on a Tablet PC


UPDATED!
Tablet button bar Button for Photoshop / PaintTool Sai / MangaStudio5


Photoshop CS4 vs CS5 Speed Comparison for Tablet PC


Photoshop Speed-Up Trick for Digital Art


Portable Drafting Board - Drawing Comics Outdoors

 

 
   Stardrop. . .
Connect with me on Facebook!
Mini Mysterious Theater. . .

Jen Jacobs, aka, "Regular Jen" is in her student apartment.
 
She has just returned from a successful shopping excursion to the local thrift store. She found cute skirt and a flashy pink top for which she paid altogether only $8.59. —An unbelievable steal when compared to the average sticker price common in any modern fashion boutique. —And neither article of clothing bore any defect or trace of having been worn by previous owners. Jen wonders how this is possible and suspects the local thrift store might be involved in some kind of racket.
 
Now, a skirt and top like these are by no means the sort of saucy ensemble Jen would normally feel comfortable wearing around town, (though Ashelle had been so excited that she had managed to convince her to wear them home from the thrift store. A daring and somewhat anxiety-hued bus journey was the result). So no, not regular day clothes to be certain, but they will compliment nicely her on-stage persona.
 
Jen Jacobs is the lead guitarist in the super-cool, all-girl 80's punk rock band, "The June Rocks!".
 
The fact that both the 80's and the mass popularity of punk rock have long since faded into fond and slightly embarrassing memories in the collective human awareness before Jen was even out of junior high is of little consequence.

 
scene 1 scene 2

 
 
   Jenny Mysterious. . .

First Day Back

Webcomic Jenny_Mysterious by Mark Oakley www.iboxpublishing.com

 
 
   Thieves & Kings. . .

Sample Chapter from, Thieves & Kings, Volume 3, "The Blue Book"

Thieves & Kings, page from the graphic novel series by Mark Oakley www.iboxpublishing.com

Thieves & Kings is not a webcomic. It is an all-ages fantasy/adventure graphic novel series which I've been working on since 1994. It is nearly done; I hope to wrap up the story in the 7th volume, (currently in production). The chapter featured here offers a good example of what it's like to read Thieves & Kings. --It's a peppy sequence, and it contains both regular comic pages, and some text pages. It doesn't show much of the title character, (Rubel) and none of the Shadow Lady, but Heath and Varkias carry the show quite nicely. I hope you enjoy this sample of my work!

 
 
   The Walking Mage. . .

The Walking Mage webcomic #2 - Fired

The Walking Mage is a complete story. Originally it was done in black & white, (which you can check out here, if you like). I wanted to experiment with color and so began by using a computer to color the Walking Mage for its print release. After a few panels I decided that it would be a lot more fun to paint it by hand, and so switched to water-color around episode six.

The story itself is quite a good little yarn; funny and pointed in many places, as political satire ought to be. I was actually quite surprised to learn this! I found myself laughing out loud in several places. --I don't know why this story in particular was so hard for me to accept, but it was. I avoided reading it for several years after it first went to press. The ending is rather abrupt, but it was a serial strip, after all.

So anyway, after having let this web-comic languish in the digital attic, I've decided to pull it out and post it again for all the world in its full-color glory. This is the first time the Walking Mage has been available in full color on the web. I hope you enjoy the adventures of Quinton and Varkias. Cheers!

 
 
   News From the Studio. . .
July 8th, 2011

The Portable Drafting Board

With Summer properly here, I figured I'd write a piece on drawing in the great outdoors.

Here's my little portable drafting board. I've written about it before, but I realized that I'd never shown any pictures of it. Given that I use it all the time, I thought it might be neat to share.

As any artist will tell you, the idea of working outdoors in the sun is a very appealing idea. Sitting under a nice shade tree to sketch in the fresh air? What could be more inspiring?

But then they will try and quickly discover that there's a reason we build houses and put our studios inside them. Wind, rain, bugs and even days with too much sunlight can make it challenging to draw outdoors. But one of the biggest challenges is simply that of trying to carry all your tools and papers with you; -without losing your pens in the grass, without your papers getting bent or dirty and without the whole thing being awkward to carry on a bus or bike.

Now, in my school days, I was a large proponent of the Big Hardcover Sketchbook. —The kind you can throw into a backpack and go, and when you want to draw, you can whip out, open up, and there you are, your drafting board is instantly in front of you with a fresh sheet of paper all nicely laid out. I recommend them to anybody who wants to learn how to draw. Nothing beats them for convenience. The only problem is that they are limited. With a sketch book, an artist is restricted to using the paper in the book, which isn't usually the best stuff. If you want to paint in them, the paper can soak through and get things messy. Past pictures you might be fond of are likely to get dirty and smudged over time. So really, sketch books are good for sketching in. . , and that's about it. (I guess they call them 'sketch books' for a reason). If you want to take your more serious work with you, then you need a proper art bag.

The one thing that art portfolio bags are designed to do, that they do very well, is protect your paper while you carry it around town. Every artist can benefit from an art portfolio bag. The problem is that a portfolio bag isn't altogether the most convenient shape. They tend to be awkward in the way they take up space. You can't carry them like a backpack, so they're hopeless when you're on you bike. When you put them down, they need to lean against something or they fall over and generally. . , well, art bags are just kind of annoying. Also. . , while they are good at transporting paper after you've left your studio, they don't offer any help once you arrive wherever you were going. So unless you're heading to another place which has another decent work surface, then you're stuck having to solve that problem and your portfolio bag isn't going to help at all. Unlike the noble sketch book, they do not offer that one vital feature every artist appreciates: a nice firm surface to draw on!

If only. . , I thought, somebody would just make an art portfolio bag which was ALSO a drafting board. . . How hard could that be?

Well, as I discovered. . , not hard at all.

The construction is pretty simple. Two matching halves, each a shallow wooden box, held together with a pair of brass hinges and closed up with a brass latch on the other side. When closed, the box is an inch and a half thick, big enough inside to hold sheets of 11" x 15" paper. (In retrospect, I think I should have made it big enough to hold sheets of 11" x 17", but at the time I was trying to make the whole thing small enough to fit inside a standard backpack, so compromises were made.)

I used a thin laminate plywood, 3/16" thick, and using some two-sided carpet tape, I stuck down some "Borco" rubberized drafting board skin. (That stuff is simply the BEST work surface in the industry. Ask for it at your local art store if you own a drafting board. It's worth every penny!)

Normally, my pencil case will also fit inside, but today I had two full decks of bristol board, so it wouldn't quite go.

That little nut and bolt I keep in my pencil case. It's used to lock open the drafting board to full size.

Here's the board in the locked-open position. The big seam down the middle means you can't draw with abandon on a sheet of thin paper because your pencil will trip over the seam, but when using bristol board, it's surprisingly easy to ignore. In any case, it makes for a fairly large work surface right out of your backpack. I do find, however, that I rarely need or want to do this as the box is nearly always big enough to draw on when closed unless I'm doing a really big piece.

When fully open, there's plenty of space for all my bits and pieces. I can sit with it in my lap quite comfortably, though the downside is that when it is fully open like this, all loose papers have to be taken out of the box and put somewhere safe, or kept on top of the board. This is another reason I prefer to work with it closed and just take out the piece I happen to be working on. It's also good to have a few bits of masking tape available to keep things from blowing around if the wind picks up.

I recently picked up a set of art markers. This little bag keeps them together and they can squat comfortably beside me for easy access.

Art markers are really fun to use. Here are some pictures of some of my latest designs. . .

I'm planning on painting larger versions of these. Markers are nice, but they also look a little un-finished. Not like a real painting. You can see the difference in the little piece below. . .

The only thing about paint is that it can be a whole lot messier than markers. I did the above picture of Heath and Varkias away from my my studio, but I needed to take with me a paint brush and an old jam jar filled with water. I used a folded piece of scrap bristol board for a pallet and it worked quite well, but it wasn't as easy to do as it is at home. It was fun though. Always make sure you have a few sheets of paper towel!

So anyway. . , that's my little expose of the outdoor travel-board art kit. I encourage anybody interested to bang their own together. They're easy enough to make, though it helps if you have a friend with a wood shop. Even if you don't though, you can generally pay a few dollars down at the local lumber store for them to cut your wood to the appropriate sizes and then assemble it all at home with some glue and finishing nails. (The latch and hinges take a bit more effort and a chisel, but that's pretty basic to figure out).

I wish you all a happy and productive Summer!

 

Mark Oakley
Wolfville, NS
July 8th, 2011

 

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