Let's wrap this up.
Lemme tell you a little bit about my mom. My mom was an cranky southern mother that argued with me all the time. She often called me the worst of the three, not because I did anything wrong like got arrested, got a girl knocked up or worse like my older brothers... But when she got up and angry at them, they ran away. I didn't. I yelled back. She yelled back more. I yelled back more. It was an interesting cycle that was probably one of the big reasons my dad has lost his hair. She always talked down to me, she played favorites, and she was stubbornly prideful like crazy and would rather lose friendships and family than have to admit she was wrong. If you listened in to an average conversation with me and her, you'd assume that we couldn't stand each other and couldn't wait to get the hell away from each other. But you'd be wrong. She was also a loving mother. As many friends would say, when she loved you, she loved you unconditionally. While she never liked the idea of me going to art school, she supported me... Even when I was making a dumb mistake, and she knew it... She supported me. (And she never said I told you so, because I already knew it.) She had these quirks that came across more as charming than annoying. When I had friends over really late, she'd yell upstairs to us what time it was. We all knew what she was trying to say: "Dave Wayne, it's 3AM! Tell your loser friends to go home!" (She always called me Dave Wayne. I was almost named John Wayne Reynolds, until my dad realized that they couldn't name me that, because I'd sound like I'd have a serial killer or a drunk bar patron's name.) One time, me and James were upstairs burning some incense, while watching the cartoons. And she smelled it, called me downstairs and accused us of smoking pot. And while we weren't, the truth was much more pathetic that these two twenty-something dorks were alone upstairs, burning patchouli, watching Ninja Turtles on a Friday night. We really should have owned up to that accusation instead. The funniest part came the following Monday when we told a friend and he just nonchalantly said "It's not even harvest season yet." And while she did get on my nerves, and some of my friends' nerves as well... Everyone who ever got to know her, loved her.
My mom bought me my first Transformer: Bumblebee. (It was the red one.) Here was this little pudgy beetle, that she found adorable, and she even knew him by name. Later on, when she found the yellow one at the stores, she got me him as well. When it came to toy collecting for children, she wasn't like other mothers... The toys came with these catalog sheets, which showed all the available toys that came out in that year. She'd get a new boxed toy at the beginning of the year to get the sheet from it, and she'd mark down the ones I had. It's not like she went out and bought me Transformers all the time... We weren't loaded. But it helped for Birthdays, Christmas, other stuff. When Goldbug came out, I came home from school and there's Goldbug! Later on when he was a Pretender, guess what I found when I got him from school as well. Same with the Action Master. (She even snagged me the G2 Bumblebee which I still have! The Pretender one as well.) I mentioned in part one and two that as I got older, I still kept with this buying Transformers nonsense, and she kept helping me out on it. Even as I got older, this was kind of out Mother-Son bonding thing. I mean, she didn't know what a Unicron was, or the names of the various characters, and she mainly knew the Autobots and Decepticons as "the good guys had the red text and bad guys had the purple text", but she made do and she was awesome. Though she didn't really like the Beast Wars as the whole insects, dinosaurs and wild animals were never her thing, she always liked the cars. Her dream car was a Chevy Camaro. She had always liked how they looked, and she LOOOOVED the new ones.
Like I said, she didn't really know their names, but can you imagine how she flipped out when she found out that not only was there going to be a yellow Camaro in the Transformers movie, but it was Bumblebee? And he beeped and made cute noises! (Yeah, I know. The rest of us hated that. But my mom was in her late 50s, and she also liked Herbie the Love Bug. She can be forgiven.) She saw and liked the first movie a lot. I remember Christmas 2007, my nephew Mark had asked for Bumblebee, Jazz and Megatron for Christmas. My mom looks at me and says "You get the other two. I have no idea who the hell they are." During Christmas, she said there was some Transformer she got me, but she couldn't find it as it was misplaced in the spare bedroom. (The spare bedroom was a serious mess!) She was feeling pretty sick, so I told her it wasn't a big deal, and that we'll find it eventually. As much as we argued all the time, we made an awesome team, me and my mom.
Obviously from me talking in past tense, you can guess that she passed away. She died of kidney complications in March of 2008. I won't lie... I'm still dealing with issues about it. One day, months later, in April or something, while cleaning the spare bedroom up, I came across a movie Offroad Ironhide toy. How many people get a posthumous Christmas present from their mother? I still have that one on a shelf, next to my Powermaster Prime. It's never going anywhere. You see, this may sound kinda hippy, dippy Drift, but every time I buy a Transformer... Particularly a Bumblebee... It's kinda part of my mom for me. It's probably THE reason I don't have such a hate-on for Bumblebee like many others have developed. Corny? Maybe... But I'm pretty sure you can guess I don't really care if you think it is.
So let's move onto something a little less somber, shall we? It was early 2007, and I was underway on production of Shadowgirls. I thought I knew all I needed to know, but damn was I wrong. There was so many things I still had to figure out. The biggest problem I had was coloring the book. You see, I had a colorist... HAD being the key word. Then I guess the World of Warcraft happened, and I never heard from him again. (It was for the best.) I had to make a creative choice: Have the book be in black and white, or color it myself.
Now, those of you who have color comic pages before, you know what a pain it can be. It's a highly underrated creative process of the comic book production process. A good colorist can turn mediocre and even bad lineart into something beautiful. A good colorist is NOT to be underestimated in importance. But all I wanted was for Shadowgirls not to look like ass. (Even though there was a lot of fish monster butt in there.) The thing is, I would have settled for a mediocre coloring style, but I was putting a lot of effort into this. I wanted it to be something special if possible. I tried my hand at coloring it and I was in over my head. It was taking way too long for me to do this. There was no way I could color a book like this on a regular consistent basis. (At this time, we hadn't decided to make it a webcomic yet.) I just kept thinking I was screwing up, that I wasn't doing it "right". I was not a fast colorist, and it's not that I minded doing the work myself... But I just needed some pointers and help in making sure I was doing this right. Which is the big problem with a lot of aspiring colorists.
One of the problems that I've noticed with a lot of artists, is that for some reason, a good number of us are not all that forthcoming when it comes to helping others become better artists. It's kinda weird. It's like we're protective of our techniques, even though we're well aware that our art styles are unique to ourselves. And if we try to help, we'll be a bit vague about how we did things, or spout that usual crap of "it's best to find your own technique." (Which is true, but it's never a bad thing to have a springboard to launch from.) And it's not like artists are doing this on purpose, they're totally not. They're probably just not comfortable giving artistic advice to people when in actuality, they're still not 100% certain what the hell they may be doing themselves.
Around this time, IDW had put out a Transformers comic adaptation of the 1986 animated movie. (I only managed to get two issues of it and I never had the chance to buy the collection.) But it was written by Bob Budiansky, the guy who wrote all those (sometimes good, sometime awful) Transformers stories back in the old Marvel days. And drawn by Don Figueroa, who I explained last time how he influenced me. But it was also colored by this one guy who I every now and then talked to on DeviantArt. Some nerd named Josh Burcham. You may not have heard of him. I don't think he's gone on to do anything major since then. Except for a bunch of Spotlights... Maximum Dinobots... All Hail Megatron... The live action movie prequel... Last Stand of the Wreckers... More than Meets the Eye...
Anyway, so one night, I'm talking to Josh, and I asked him about coloring that adaptation. Because it had that nice blend of 1980's animation coloring that I liked. It was how I wanted to color like. So I asked him. (Kind of like I ask Don about drawing.) Josh walked me through coloring a pinup. Just simple techniques that he uses to help color a picture. And he explained it to me in simple words.
"Did you color it this way?"
"No, I did it like this."
"But what about that?"
"I did this."
And yeah, a lot of that stuff I already knew... But it was never explained. I thought I might have been doing it wrong. But I wasn't... I just needed a different focus. I was able to streamline my coloring process and basically color faster and better. Throughout 2000-2006, I stat through and listened in and read up on so many coloring tutorials and guidelines and art books that pointed me in the right direction, sure, but none of them were as helpful as a colorist taking the time to explain simple things to me. To him, he was being cool, and it wasn't no big thing for him. You can look back on my early gallery, around early '07 and see and you can see right when I switched. I had some rough spots in the beginning, but I think it picked up greatly and quickly. Everyone of you who's reading this (that didn't know me from before) is probably because of my artwork, or because of Shadowgirls... And my coloring has become such an integral part of my artwork. And while my coloring has improved and evolved greatly in the past few years, it all has the constructive foundation from those simple coloring techniques he explained to me almost six years ago.
Hopefully by now, everything I've been getting at for these last five days is starting to come together just why I'm so faithful to this franchise and this fanbase. It's been really good to me. Whenever I was at a low point, whenever I was wondering what the point was to being a cartoonist, whenever things were just plain old shitty in my life... Some aspect of the Transformers were there to light my dar-
...I am not saying it...
So be it Josh helping me learn to color better, or Don inspiring me to be a better penciller, or Dreamwave giving us artists hope or meeting my first true friends at college, or my first real comic book where people actually read it... Or finding a toy my mom meant for me to have for the last Christmas I ever got to spend with her. Look, I'm well aware how melodramatic and saccharin all this sounds, and I honestly don't give a crap. Because I care about the Transformers. It's not my lifestyle. I don't have an Autobot tattoo, I don't sleep in Optimus Prime jammies and I'm not gonna be naming my kids Blurr or Thunderwing. (Though I am tempted by Slag!) But it is something I'm passionate about. Like I am about animation, cooking, DC Comics, classical movies, pulp novels and even astronomy.
In the end... I be there for the Transformers, because it has been there for me.
And that's all.