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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Mark’s sci-fi Web Comic!

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

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

Ghost in the Shell - A Teacher Slides Away

The New Fascism

Tribes and Reality

What's with all the Anti-Russia Propaganda?

How to Stay Sane in an Insane World - Top 3 diet changes (not what you think!)


MadMax and Tomorrowland - Reality Splitting Decisions...


Star Wars the Force Awakens - JJ Abrams is a Lightweight


The Mysterious meta-Jenny


I Will Not Hate Because You Want Me To


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


Portable Drafting Board - Drawing Comics Outdoors

 

 
   Stardrop. . .
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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

STARDROP

Please become my Patron! It's super-easy; see Patreon to find out how. -Now, don't worry; everything will remain free to read here, (many of my readers do not have credit cards, after all). But I'm a full-time cartoonist and I need to pay the bills. There are hundreds of folks reading, so those who are able, please consider chipping in with as much or as little as you choose. Even a buck a month would be a blessing! Those of you who have already extended your support, oh my goodness, Thank-You! It literally means the world to me!

Also.., Jenny Mysterious is now LIVE and will have regular weekly updates! Yessss! Been a long time coming. Jump to her section below. Thanks everybody!

New Episode #285 - Next Episode, Thursday June 15th
webcomic Stardrop by Mark Oakley www.iboxpublishing.com

                        

 
  Connect with me on Twitter!    Connect with me on Facebook!            


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Digital Editions Now Available


"High Resolution For Tablets!"
$8.25 CAD
Download Stardrop Volume 1    Download Stardrop Volume 2

-No DRM -No Hassles -Super High Quality -Whole Books with all the extras!

Technical note: I'm using a new sales system for this which doesn't require all kinds of complicated filling out of forms and such. The back-end magic is worked by Gumroad, an awesome new on-line system designed just for digital content; easy payment, reliable delivery, no mucking around. -And holy smokes! They play fair, taking 5% + 25 cents per transaction. Are you paying attention Apple and Amazon? This is how it's done.


NEW! Stardrop eBook
Now Available!

(See the Studio News (below) for the scoop on this!)



Tip StarDrop's cartoonist!

Visit the Australian StarDrop Mirror.
(Thanks to Andrew and Katherine for their wonderful support over the years!)

 
 
   Jenny Mysterious. . .
Read the latest stuff before everybody else. Become a Patron!

June 24th, 2017
New Pages posted - 185 to 186
I've decided to publish the long-talked about Jenny Mysterious free on-line, with new pages every week, starting right now! BUT I am asking folks to become Patrons. Please support my comics with as little or as much as you choose with a monthly subscription, (even just a dollar would be fine!). It's really easy. See my Patreon page for details.

-Check out the cool perks!

Thanks everybody!


webcomic Jenny Mysterious by Mark Oakley www.iboxpublishing.com
    

Please Vote! (You can vote for both Jenny and Stardrop without conflict.) Thank-you!
    New: Reader's Art!


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   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's 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 do 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 5th, 2013

Three Questions From a Beginner Cartoonist.


 

I often receive questions from young artists and writers, and I generally spend time answering them in some depth. I thought perhaps I'd share one such exchange which happened earlier today. . .
Hi Mr. Oakley,

I think I emailed you one time long ago, but that email was all about comments and thank you's. This time, I would like to ask a few questions, if you have the time. I am making a comic called "Other Worlds," (somewhat inspired from your T&K,) and, well... the last time I worked on it was about two years ago. In other words, I am going to re-draw it with my much improved current skills. I'm quite nervous, though, as I have never tried to accomplish such a big task. So here are my questions:

- Tips for beginners?
- Best drawing methods/utensils?
- What about writer's block?

I could probably make this list MUCH longer, but those are the three most important questions. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I eagerly await the next part of Apprentices.

Thanks again,
Maddie

I responded. . .

 

Hi, Maddie!

Writing and drawing is a very personal experience, and as you explore it, the more you will discover your own best ways to climb the mountain.

But I can certainly offer some of my own experiences with those particular puzzles.

 

-Tips for beginners:

One of the biggest "Ah HAH!" moments in terms of making comics was this: When you're applying inks to a drawing, often the result will not look as nice as the pencil work you just finished laboring to get right. As beautiful lines vanish beneath uncertain inks, the heart grows heavy, and when you look up at the finished product, it can be downright depressing.

The trick I learned was rather than tear up the picture in frustration, instead just keep noodling at it. Use white-out, (a tiny brush and some guache or acrylic white ink), to tidy up lines and blotches. There may be several dozen tiny spots you can improve or fix, no one of which will rescue the picture, but I found that when I kept at it, adding one little correction at a time, not looking at the whole, just noodling, that when I finally stepped back I'd realize, "Whoa! Hey, this actually looks pretty good!" A few dozen small corrections can have a huge overall effect.

Every drawing is a work in progress until it's done, and if it looked good as a pencil drawing, then you can make it look good as an inked drawing. For the really bad mistakes, I'd often use paste (or a waxing tool), to put bits of paper down over them, (badly messed up faces or whatnot), and re-draw over those, maybe using a light box. An exacto knife and more white paint are used to tidy up the edges of these little repairs.

The point being, take your time, allow yourself to be critical of mistakes and rough spots, and then just trust in the process of getting them right. It pays off. It was very rare in the beginning for me that I'd ever produce a perfect picture on the first go. They always needed lots of noodling and polishing and repair work to come out right in the end.

Also, always allow for your own discoveries and techniques to evolve. There is no "right way" to get to the finished product so long as you find your way there. As you continue to work on new drawings, you'll find you make fewer and fewer errors and the process becomes faster. Like anything. (Though, even masters use erasers!)

 

-Best drawing methods/utensils:

These days, I personally like to use a digital drawing tablet and a decent art program; there's no question that digital tools offer an amazing range of possibilities and efficiencies, but I recommend people learn on paper for a variety of reasons. In fact, I frequently return to physical mediums to keep myself connected to the real world.

In the real world, I like to find a paper which doesn't let inks bleed. I'd go through art stores and when trying to find the right paper for me, I'd always test a corner with different pens to see how the inks would react. -I look for a paper tough enough to handle repeated erasures, and still be able to take an ink line nicely. My current favorite paper is a smooth bristol board by Strathmore, (you can get them in pads of 20 or so sheets). For size, I like to work at 10" x 15" or 8.5" x 14" Strathmore smooth bristol is a really nice paper, and it's quite cheap. Though, I would sometimes buy big sheets of bristol board and cut them up into page sizes. These days, I also just use decks of high-quality 11" x 17" copier paper, because you can get 500 sheets of the stuff for about $20 or $30, and it takes a line really well, though of course, it's not as sturdy and can't take an exacto knife blade without being damaged. --Though I'd usually be scanning those kinds of pages, so paste repair jobs would be done in Photoshop anyway. They don't look very nice as finished stand-alone pieces, however. For finished work which needs to look great on its own, bristol board is best, I find.

For inks, I use cheap disposable pens with roller ball tips and liquid ink wells. Pilot makes a .5mm and a .7mm pen in this format, both of which have been formulated to work really well on standard copier papers and bristol boards. They may seem cheap, but somebody spent a lot of R&D to make them work as well as they do. They don't clog, they put down a nice reliable line, and you can carry them around in your pocket. And best of all, any drug store will have replacements when they run out.

I also use a pilot thick line marker (also with an ink well), but they're harder to find. They put down a 1.5 mm line, which is good for things like panel borders and word balloons.

For lettering, you can use an Ames lettering guide. (Google that. You can find youtube demonstrations for how to use them. They're the go-to tool for all pros in the field doing hand-lettering on paper, and have been for decades. You can't improve perfection!)

For paintings, I'll use an old-style dip ink nib and india ink. (Those pens I described aren't water proof, so painting over them turns the lines to mud. India ink doesn't do that, but it can be tricky to use.)

But all in all, finding your own preference in materials should be one of your joys! It's a fun exploration.

 

-Writer's Block:

I don't really believe in this. I think it's an umbrella term for, "I don't wanna!" But even so, there are times when we burn out. The brain uses more fuel than any other part of our bodies, so if you sugar crash while working, or run out of good brain fuel, it's entirely possible to develop some brain fog and lose sight of a project.

Naps are good when stuck, as well as lots of day dreaming. It's also worth noting that writers draw on their life experience in order to have things to say, so living is good. Get outside, interact, have adventures, get hurt, feel joy, read, watch films and think, think, think. That's where ideas come from. A healthy dose of self-criticism and realism is very important. If you can't see or admit to your own flaws and work on them, you'll never be a very good writer. Writers are those who see the world and report on it to others, so we need to be able to see clearly.

But while forcing ourselves to sit down and write and draw even when we don't want to is important, it's also important to respect the organic nature of the process. We are not machines.

It takes time and care for ideas to brew properly. T&K took many years, almost seven (!!) of thinking and writing and sketching before I finally launched issue #1. I was 18 years old when I first started working and thinking about Rubel, Quinton and Soracia, writing little stories about them, testing them out, changing them and their world in little and big ways, gently day dreaming them into existence. The first issue of T&K went to press when I was 24! That's a lot of development time! Jenny Mysterious is only now in the full swing of page production. It's 2013 now, and I first thought her up in 2007. So again, it will have been about seven years of day dreaming and sketching and short stories before her first book arrives on people's shelves all trim and proper.

So it's okay not to have your master work script done in a month. Writer's block is never something I worry about. I think it's a make-believe term for just not being in the right mood. If you follow an organic path to your story, then you shouldn't have to worry about it either.

I hope that answers your questions!

Cheers, and best of luck with your projects!

-Mark Oakley
Wolfville, NS
July 5th, 2013

 

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