Looking for a place to happen / Making stops along the way
Welcome back! A short one this month, as I pause before plunging into what is likely going to be the busiest part of my year. Thanks for showing up.
My name is Eric Trautmann.
I live in the Pacific Northwest. It has been a series of unusually hot days but today is much cooler and thank god because I'm melting.
I am a graphic designer.
I design logos and trade dress for business and entertainment publishing (notably comics). Ongoing projects include book design and various and sundry tasks for the Image Comics series LAZARUS and BLACK MAGICK.
I can do stuff for you, too, for reasonable rates.
I write comic books.
I have written comic books for DC Comics (including Action Comics and Checkmate) and Dynamite Entertainment (including long runs on Red Sonja, Vampirella and Flash Gordon). For a complete list of My Mighty Works™, you could visit my website.
And if you enjoy this newsletter, please share the info around, so I'm not just screaming into a void. Currently, this list is very tiny, but hopefully it entertains you.
WHERE I'M AT TODAY
The recent switch from the Gmail addy I used to the new, Mailchimp-friendly "email@example.com" seems to have worked. Thanks for your patience.
Everything is fine.
The Presidential campaign seems to be winding down into some kind of normalcy, finally, and I haven't had a nightmare about a FURY ROAD-style existence—scrabbling through the dust and stabbing people with the rusty edge of an old soup can to secure precious drops of water—in a few days. We'll call that "excellent progress."
This is fine.
Everything is fine.
My wife and I celebrated our 12th anniversary recently, and will be taking a brief vacation to finish building shelving for our home office/library/studio. Once that's done and all the storage boxes of action figures and superhero statues are finally on shelves and not in piles on the floor, I can finish up setting up my light table/drawing table and hopefully brush up my very rusty illustration skills (such as they are).
Everything is fine.
Tons of progress on a few fronts, and some continuing project stalls (alas), but overall, things are good.
Things are fine.
I recently got my first tattoo, which means I'm officially from the Pacific Northwest now.
It was inspired, in part, but the semi-colon tattoo making the rounds a while back—a positive statement.
My aforementioned unease with this election cycle's outing of the ugly current of racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. that is an unavoidable part of life for millions of my fellow citizens has really been weighing on me.
I'm a product of white privilege, but I consider myself an ally. Many of my friends, family, employees, customers, and basically people I love are people of color, or sexual orientation or gender identity that differs from my own.
So, it was a combination of all of that swirling around in my brainmeats that prompted me to finally get the tattoo. I designed it with a poster typeface from the 1930s that I just happen to like; I removed the crossbar of the "A" so that, from the "reader's" vantage point, it's still an "A." From mine, it's a "V" (for victory), mirrors a peace sign, and acts as an arrow pointing back at me. Seems like a reasonable use of my privileged white skin. ;)
It's also a permanent reminder to myself to check my privilege.
I like it.
My tattoo design. It's about 2 inches wide, and resides on my left wrist now.
Lazarus #24 is officially put to bed, and hits store shelves on 31 August. This arc, "Cull," has been…some nasty work, and I think longtime readers will be pleased at the uptick in action. And I'm seeing pages for issue #25 roll into the inbox and it's amazing stuff.
Cover for LAZARUS #24; art by Michael Lark, cover design by TRAUTMANN. In stores 31 Aug 2016.
We re-did the cover for issue #25, too, since story events necessitated a cover focusing on a different character (this time, the Family Armitage Lazarus, Sir Thomas. Future-corporate-bastard-James Bond, basically. Here's a sneak peek at the NOT FINAL cover. You're the first people to see this.
Art by Lark. Layout/design: Trautmann.
Michael's also turning in sketches for the fifth TPB cover, too, and boy howdy.
Good stuff. GOOOD stuff.
In a prior mail, I interviewed my pal, writer/musician Brandon Jerwa, and we talked about his new project (with Craig Jones), LATER HUMANS.
The first bit of their new band appears on RESPECT THE PRIME, a charity/benefit album that is a homage to the soundtrack of the original TRANSFORMERS animated film.
The track, "Escape," can be found here, as well as, y'know, the whole album. I also did a "single" cover for the LATER HUMANS track, below.
A "single" cover for LATER HUMANS' contribution to RESPECT THE PRIME. Design: Trautmann/Fedora Monkey Studio.
In Progress / Coming Soon:
NEW PROJEKT: TOTENKOPF
This is a bit of a weird one. It's a fiction property that I "licensed" from my pal Tim O'Brien. It's 1930s-40s style pulp fiction featuring a "pulp avenger" Tim created and has not found a home for. The character's visual design is being handled by comic artist Pete Woods, and I hope to either self-publish a series of ebooks or publish e-books-to-print through "EVENT HORIZON" (see below).
PROJEKT: EVENT HORIZON
Working with a dice-and-paper game company as a sort of Minister Without Portfolio, handling some branding and book layout chores. In a matter of weeks, I've put together a ton of line logos and book layouts, and I am unreasonably proud of them. For various reasons, I still can't show them but HOPEFULLY, that will change in the next update.
PROJEKT: SABRE UPDATE
Still stalled. Sigh.
Some short fiction I'm working up in collaboration with my pal, Gareth-Michael Skarka has moved up in my queue as well. If you liked my Red Sonja stuff, keep an eye out for SCABBARD. Current status: about 70% complete.
New design client: A private equity firm logo/branding. This year, I've done the genre-themed design stuff in gaming and comics, but also a quilting studio, a financial firm, and a political campaign. It's been an eclectic year.
Time did not permit an interview/q&a this month. Sorry, folks.
What I'm Listening To: Binging on The Tragically Hip. The band isn't super well-known outside of Canada, but I grew up so close to the border we might as well have been in Quebec. Canadian TV and radio were more reliable and frankly better than the local garbage, so the band provided a soundtrack for my late teens through my mid-twenties.
In Canada, they're national heroes, and frontman Gord Downie is sort of a hockey playing version of Bruce Springsteen-by-way-of-Michael Stipe. Surrealist poet in a uniquely Canadian way. Manyothershave written about Downie's and the band's importance, far better than I can articulate.
He was recently diagnosed with terminal brain cancer; the band did a 15-show farewell tour and the CBC broadcast the final show last night. It was amazing, and heart-wrenching, and while The Tragically Hip are kind of a tough sell to a lot of newcomers (they're very much in the indie rock mold of the 1990s), it was unbelievable to watch them go out in style. Downie is clearly succumbing to the illness—forgetting lyrics and occasionally breaking down into sobs during the final performance—but it was unlike anything I've ever seen.
So, I'm mainlining old songs I used to love, and feeling 20-something again, and also feeling very, very old.
What I'm Watching: Not much, lately. Burning through Weeds, which is affable enough.
Vector Art: Some crass commerce. I create the occasional vector art set for sale (generally about $5 per set). The sets are themed, and are royalty free for commercial and personal use. You can find that stuff here.