Thursday, December 11, 2014

Nelvana Seminar Notes (circa 1981): Part One

It's been a very long time since I last posted. I always promised myself that I wouldn't write just anything just for the sake of posting something on my blog. Now I have a topic that I believe will be of interest to those visiting here.

Recently in a communication with Ken Duncan (Owner/Executive Producer of Duncan Studio), Ken said "John, when I was in Paris in the 80's I thought I saw some 'how to' notes that you'd done during Rock 'n Rule.....
1- Am I delusional?
2- If not, are they available to see?"

Well, Ken is not delusional...and after searching through my files I found the original typed notes that were xeroxed and handed out at Nelvana during the production of Rock & Rule. Basically, it was an explanation of my approach and work-flow method, going from initial thumbnails through to tie-down drawings.

Originally, there were 20+ pages in my handout for the three session seminar, which took place over three afternoons, using poses of my character Quadhole the Policeman to illustrate my approach. Because of the amount of material covered, I've decided to post them all here as a series. I have also supplemented the examples with Cindy Schlepper development material I created months after this seminar was given.

(Note: At that time, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston's bible "The Illusion of Life" had not yet been published. Young animators such as ourselves were basically learning from our own experiments...studying the silent results on the studio's Lyon Lamb Video Animation System...not seeing if it worked with the dialog until it was shot on 35mm film and synced up on the flatbed.)

The following are my original typed notes from the first session. I'm including the exposure sheets and samples of my thumbnail analysis of a couple of Cindy Schlepper scenes.

These above poses were my very first exploratory sketches of Cindy Schlepper.   

Above are my thumbnail analysis of the first time we see Cindy.
Cindy has arrived at Club 666 and is excited. "Oh, Boy! Mutants in the foyer!"

The following exposure sheets are for a Quadhole scene---the poses of which were originally handed out as a packet including the typed notes. I'll be posting those drawings in the next installment...and you can then cross-reference them with these sheets.

For those who are not familiar with the process, there's a lot to digest on these pages.
Hope you find it informative and useful.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

BLOODWING Novella Published

I'm happy to announce that I have published the completed Bloodwing novella on Amazon! I feel it has all the cinematic style and story elements that would make for a very entertaining and thoughtful fantasy/science fiction series. I wrote it so it could be easily adapted into a pilot script for TV.

Check it out at:

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Update On Bloodwing

Hi, there! I've just uploaded another chapter in the story of Mychal Bloodwing. Read it free on Wattpad. And please leave a comment on the chapters you've read. Thank you!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

New Series: Bloodwing

I am developing a science fiction/fantasy series called BLOODWING. So far, I have posted several short chapters on the free story site Wattpad.

 I would appreciate any feedback you might have—if you would be so kind, please post your comments on Wattpad.

Thanks, guys. I will be posting new chapters every few days until this novella is finished.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


The "Original Sin City Sampler" has been ranking in Amazon's Top 10 of the Mystery Best Seller Free list for the last two days! It's been as high as #4 on the Noir list!

There's just one day late to this giveaway!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Starting today, October 23rd and through October 25th, samples of our hard boiled crime fiction ebook novels are available on Amazon for FREE!

"Original Sin City 20,000 Word Sampler" contains the first 9 chapters of our Barry Award Nominated novel "Little Mexico" and the first 3 chapters of its sequel "In the Name of the Father." 

We hope that if you enjoy having a taste of our storytelling, you will buy the complete novels. Only $3.99 each.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


I am hundreds of miles away from my home in Kentucky, working at an animation studio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This is the job that is paying most of our bills. For the past 14 months, I have been working away from home for stretches of six weeks at a time.

This separation from Cathie puts a damper on our daily collaboration. No matter how much time we spend on the phone or Skype, it's not the same as being next to a warm body. We work best when we are together in one room, bouncing ideas off each other...challenging one another...and then, kissing and making up.

Fortunately, we are at the stage on our present writing project where I concentrate on the basic structure of the story. Our Original Sin City novels each have a basic historical event, theme, and major plot through which multiple character story arcs are woven. This enables us to present a textured reading experience.

In essence, our novels are multiple novellas that are interwoven.

For the past week, I've been pulling together the first novella's three act structure. I'll use this structure for all the novellas. It enables us to control the pacing of the novel's overall story arc.

This is exactly how I plan my animation—I plant guideposts to hit. I then time my actions and create my individual drawings/words/sentences.

In both cases, I give the characters (drawn and verbally created) room to organically grow. Hopefully, the result will surprise the audience with the reality of the world we've created.

Check out our 3 Act Structure Outline.

Act One
Setup: Location/Relationships
1) What character wants/goals:
a) Start in the middle of struggle
b) Emotional need/want: hate, love, jealousy, respect from others
c) Physical need/want: hunger for sex, money, food, shelter

2) What's in the way:
a) Other person(s)
b) Self--lack of talent, knowledge, common sense, impatience, arrogance, self delusion
c) Confrontation

Act Two
3) Tries to overcome obstacles
a) Initiates personal actions towards goal(s)
b) Family members attempt to thwart success--ratchets up the negative feelings--feeds the desire for revenge
c) Outside opportunity from 3rd party appears
d) Tries to grab for it

Act Three
4) Climax
a) Confrontation between all involved
5) Resolution: Success/Failure
Points to future conflicts (both external and external)

For those who want to see how we interweave several story arcs, check out our "Original Sin City Sampler". Only $0.99 on Amazon.