A Complete Guide to My Professor Nimbus Graphic Novels
Welcome!This article is dedicated to my Professor Nimbus graphic novels and related artwork. You can read all about my books and how they were created, see two of the books online in their entirety, and find out what the books mean to me personally. There's also a gallery of some published illustrations in which Nimbus makes an appearance, and a gallery showing the development of the Nimbus character.
I have published three graphic novels so far:
Professor Nimbus and the Amazing Spectacles, published in 2004, is the first book in the series...
The Heresy of Professor Nimbus, published in 2006, is the second full-length illustrated novel in the Chronicles of Professor Nimbus. It was awarded a silver medal in the sequential category of the Society of Illustrators 49th Annual Exhibition...
Creating a graphic novel is a very consuming and exhilarating experience. Since I publish these books myself, I assume the role of both art director and illustrator. I do at least three sketches for each page before inking the final art on watercolor paper, using a large format that liberates my brushwork. I feel that words aren’t necessary to convey the stories because I'm used to illustrating situations and concepts without relying on text to get a point across. It can take up to a year to complete each book, a time frame much different from editorial assignments where I often work under deadlines of a few hours. I feel a thrill when the books are finally finished and arrive on my doorstep from the printer. I also feel a void in my life for some time afterwards.
I think much of my work shows the sensibility of a printmaker. My books are printed in black-and-white (with two-color covers). I have loved the aesthetic of black-and-white ever since I began working as a printmaker in the mid-1980's.
The ability to have multiple impressions of an image is one of the things that led me to become a printmaker and then an illustrator in the first place. I love to see my work in print.
Nimbus and I have some things in common. We both work in solitary professions, he as an astronomer, I as an illustrator. We both spend a great deal of time with our heads in the clouds, and have vivid imaginations with dark sides.
The stories of Nimbus are parables that expose the dangers of being locked up in an ivory tower, isolated from the world at large. Although Nimbus's dedication to his scientific research is admirable, it leaves him ignorant of the social and cultural forces that shape the world outside of his observatory and inevitably overwhelm him.
I plan to continue illustrating full-length graphic novels until I run out of ideas. The time and energy involved in working on the books makes it difficult to go from one to another without some time to rest and consider what comes next. Here are some other projects featuring Nimbus that help to keep his character alive in between lengthy book projects:
Professor Nimbus and the Arctic Horror is my latest adventure in the series, published in 2011. While on a research mission on a remote Arctic island, Nimbus discovers a fiendish plot to breed genetically engineered monsters prepared to swarm across the earth, wreaking havoc and destruction. Will Nimbus live to warn others of this tentacular terror?
The Temptation of Professor Nimbus appeared in The Comics Journal Volume 5 (the Manga Masters issue), published by Fantagraphics in 2005. It is the first commissioned work featuring Nimbus, and offers a rare glimpse into his domestic life.
Temptation tells the story of how Nimbus is sought after by an alien race to be the leader of a distant world. It was inspired by a dream I had where I was faced with the same situation and had to choose between life in an alien world, or life with my wife and children.
The Zen of Nimbus is a series that originally appeared on my blog in 2007-08. Zen follows a strict three-panel format: Nimbus, immovable by his campfire and tent, is visited by a variety of creatures and events. Will he ever allow these situations, some of which are quite invasive and annoying, to disturb his meditations?
The Travels of Professor Nimbus is an ongoing series showing Nimbus in unusual environments, often fantastic architectural landscapes. These prints fulfill several passions of mine: my love for drawing architecture, my desire to work on a larger scale, and my never-ending search for the most wonderful brush line. The drawing above was awarded a silver medal from The Society of Illustrators 52nd Annual Exhibition.
I never planned to create graphic novels. My commissioned illustration work and a greater awareness of the world beyond my studio (a consequence of having children) led me down this path by chance. I’m grateful to my family as well as the art directors I’ve worked with for influencing my work in wonderfully unexpected ways. By and large I feel fortunate to be working as an illustrator, a profession which occasionally satisfies my soul and permits me the time to work on personal projects such as these. The work described in this article satisfies my soul to a high degree. I hope you enjoy it.
Tor.com has commissioned me to create ten new Zen of Professor Nimbus comics to appear on their website through this summer, beginning on Thursday, May 7th. As the summer progresses, Tor will also choose five comics to appear on their site from the original "Zen" series that I posted here on my blog last year.
Tor.com is “a site for news and discussion of science fiction, fantasy, and all the things that interest SF and fantasy readers”.
I’m very excited to be working on these comics again. I put them on the back burner last fall when I began working on my latest Professor Nimbus book, and also because I painted myself into a corner with the “Nimbus vs. Mickey Mantle” sequence that left a few fans (and me) wondering what was going to happen. That experience has taught me that things work better when each three-strip comic stands alone, rather than being a part of a lengthy narrative that spans several weeks.
I’ll be posting reminders about the forthcoming appearance of the comic on the Tor.com website each week. I think that having the comic on Tor.com is a terrific match, and I'd be thrilled if it was considered successful enough to continue past this summer.
I’m a short time away from finishing my latest graphic novel, titled The Redemption of Professor Nimbus. This third book in the Chronicles of Professor Nimbus series is about catastrophic global warming and takes place in Hong Kong. I’m planning on publishing it in late May to coincide with some new Zen of Professor Nimbus comics which will be appearing this summer on Tor.com.
Each of the previous two books in the series took over a year to complete. The work on this book has been much easier and quicker; it will be nine months by the time I'm finished. I've particularly enjoyed drawing the many detailed scenes of Hong Kong which are based on my sketches and photos from our trip there last July. Soon it will be time to think about the next book.
Other good news worthy of another post in the future: five of my Travels of Professor Nimbus prints have been accepted into the Communication Arts 2009 illustration annual.