February 02, 2015

BIG PIG INK, LLC was founded in 2014 by John & Heather Mueller. 

We created BIG PIG INK with the belief that people of all walks of life are at their best when they are truly independent. This means we steer the ship of our own little empire (be it ever so humble). Our goals are simple to build a sustainable business making the art and products that we love and want to share with the world.

John Mueller is an illustrator and  game developer he is the creator of OINK and the video game BEDLAM (both shipping in 2015). OINK is John's creator owned series of graphic novels released in the 90's, now once again in early 2015 OINK will be on book shelves with a completely new vision of the story that put him on the map. This new edition  brings all of Mueller's experience to bear on a 120pg TPB and Hardcover. John spent 5 years working on this new edition which he describes as 'The most Epic thing I've ever done." He was a pioneer in the field of digital art, and has worked with some of the biggest studios in game development. He likes making cool stuff and plans to do that until his hands and his brain are no longer responsive.

Heather Mueller keeps the lights running at BPI. She is the heart of the operation and makes sure every package gets to you in a timely fashion. Prior to her role as General Manager at BPI Heather worked for Johnson & Johnson for 14 years where she helped manage studies for the FDA in clinical research. She is one of the most organized and lovely people planet Earth has ever known.




My Process

I wanted to do a blog post about this ‘remastering’ process. I don’t know if it’s really the right word because really this isn’t something commonly done in comics. A creator takes his own work from 20 years ago and re-makes the same story…it’s unique so I wanted to show exactly what’s involved in the process. 

Here you can see one of the original pages from OINK Heaven’s Butcher first published in 1995. This page ultimately became two pages in the new book.


Here are the two pages this page became through this process.

A lot of my decisions in the first book were driven by time management. I didn’t really have a ton of time and in hindsight there were some moments in the book that felt ‘rushed’. I did a lot of reading of Scott Mcloud’s amazing ‘Understanding Comics’ to further my own study regarding the art of telling a story with panels. Ironically I needed more ‘time’ between my panels to give this moment it’s proper due.

My process breaks into two stages of preparation and rendering. The first step  of preparation is a quick sketch of the layout I think I’m going to want regardless of what was in the original. What is the composition of the panels? I then start my study process, sketching the new things I’m going to add. You can see in this sequence it’s really a complete overhaul with nothing but the ‘ideas’ of the original still firmly in place. This image by Norman Rockwell was really in my mind during the creation of the page where Spigot makes his proclamation. I loved the idea of referencing Rockwell in particular because his work was so draped in Americana, and OINK is sort of the antithesis of that.


Once I have my sketches I scan them and begin to place them into a digital template I use for every page. This template has all the proper bleeds and padding required for printing. Once I have my images roughed in I begin to refine the rough drawings.


These first steps are really the important steps of my process, the rest is just rendering. I spend almost equal time in preparation layout vs. rendering.  I’m going to jump to another example here to show my rendering process. Typically I am painting flat color first, but during this I'm thinking about lighting. The rendering process is time consuming and what I’m doing is just slowly working through the image one element at a time.


 Now with my rendering complete I focus on lighting. This is where I start to use things like focus, debris, shadow to refine the image into the end result. These are often done using layer properties in Photoshop. I use Darken or Multiply for my shadows, and Screen, Overlay, or Lighten for my highlights. Once I have that in place I'll start adding in polish elements such as the debris, smoke, objects with motion.


I hope you enjoyed this deeper look into the remaking of OINK. Thank you for supporting independent, creator-owned comics! 


John Mueller

Austin, TX