The Bat-Man

Drew a Batman for a neighbor kid. Colored it in a hurry this morning, and I'm still in a hurry, so that is all for now.

Drawn in Manga Studio, printed, lightbox inking on paper,
scanned back into Manga Studio, tidied up, colored in Photoshop!

The End.

Experimental Piece

Goofing around with Procreate on the iPad, Garage Band and iMovie. Maybe not so great, but I had a good time!

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Star Wars Again

A while back – around the time of the latest Star Wars movie release – the newspaper ran a contest for “most dedicated Star Wars fan." My job was to do a drawing of the winner as their favorite Star Wars character for a section front illustration.

So, here it is! It was another case of a very quick turnaround. I was scheduled for a vacation when it was due, and I believe I started it on my last day of work, finishing it up on my 2nd or 3rd day of vacation. I worked on it in between playing with my daughter and cleaning out the garage.

Created in Clip Studio Pro and Photoshop

The End.

Head Sketchbook Project Staggers Along

I'm determined to finish my heads sketchbook project, and this is the second post since it's latest revival,* but it's clear that the blog can fill up with an annoying run of head sketches in a hurry if I continue to update in this fashion. I'm not sure how I'll handle it from here on. Possibly I'll wait until I get 16 or 20 drawings before posting them.

I'll worry about it later. Here's the latest batch. Random heads off the Internet! Drawn with an assortment of pens.

Gauri: I did a little pencil shading with an old 6B. I found an old set of watercolor pencils and took a chance, coloring in the square around her head. I applied a little water but the pencil refused to melt into watercolor like it should. The pencil set is probably 20+ years old so maybe they have a shelf date.

Ezra & Ezra: Started each of them left handed, switched back to right after total frustration set in.

The End.

See two posts back for that story.

Ugh! Politicians.

Speaking as someone who may be called upon to occasionally caricature or cartoon the President, I’m all for Trump or Cruz. Great hair on one, great faces on both. Absolutely fun to work on -- again, speaking as someone who might have to draw them.
Kasich is a bit more conventional in appearance so – while I’m (uncertainly) certain he is a fine fellow – I’m for the other guys. Bernie and Hillary are also awesome; for my own selfish interest I’d vote for them, too

Open in a new window for a MUCH larger image.

This illustration ran on May 1 in the San Jose Mercury News and East Bay Times newspapers! The fine story by Matt Artz can be read online here. Mr. Artz always does good work!
How it appeared in print.

Drawn in Photoshop on a tight deadline. Actually, I had plenty of time, but I had planned to use photographs of their heads on the bodies; I thought I was done! About three hours before deadline I was told the editors were expecting the heads to be drawn. So, I took about 30 seconds to huff and cuss and sputter angrily before reopening the illustration and drawing like the wind. 

To expedite the process I did an extremely spare tracing of Kasich and Cruz's heads, with minimal strokes indicating mouth, nose and eyes; I don't often do that. I prefer to draw freely and start over if I miss on someone's likeness. I believe my caricatures can be hampered by tightly referenced drawing; and they can end as dull portraits rather than playful or creative likenesses.*

But Kasich's face worried me. As I implied above, he's looks like a generic middle-aged white guy – no offense to me intended. To be honest, before this assignment, I couldn't have picked him out of a line-up.** With so little time to work and such a dull face, I couldn't count on making a good sketch on the first or second try. And still I'm not sure it really looks like him!

Cruz was easy and his came out best, I think. Trump? I could have used the time to take another swing at him. Not totally happy. As the clock was winding down I overlaid the photo I used for reference and tried to correct things, which unsurprisingly didn't help much. Oh well.

That's all for now!

The End.

*Although they look more like dull portraits than creative likenesses anyway.

**I'm not following the Presidential race at all this time. I don't know why, but I'm just not interested. I know I should be, but every time I try to rouse the interest, I lose interest. Wake me when it's over and I can just make funny cartoons about Hillary.

Let Us Finish This Damned Thing!

In early 2008 I bought a small sketchbook intending to fill it with head studies. I misplaced it after several months and two or three dozen drawings. A year passed. In late 2009 I rediscovered the book, promptly drew one head (very poorly) and placed it on a high shelf in the closet. The world whisked around the sun a time or two.

In 2011 the book came out from hiding and – again – I drew a single head. It was better than 2009's solitary effort but not by much. I must have been discouraged. The book settled back in the closet, out of plain sight and easy reach. Like Van Winkle's eyelids, the cover shut and did not open for a very long time.

In 2015, February marked yet another rediscovery. The tiny sketchbook had completely fallen from memory and was such a surprise that it prompted a blog-post where I spouted off about how this time I would see it through to the end; but a measly four drawings were all that I generated, two of which appear here. March contributed one half-assed effort – that would be Jon. Jon wouldn't be joined by Arlene until June but she was followed quickly by three Contessas.

Today, ten months later, the book is back in play. Wilhelmina was drawn this morning. I'm about 1/3 of the way through the book.

Enough! I'm not putting it back in the closet. I'll never learn to draw at this pace.

Let us finish this damned thing.

Dumping E-Waste

This is an illo for a San Jose Mercury News story about recycling electronics devices and such. It was written by long-time colleague George Avalos and you can read the story at this link.

Drawn in Manga Studio and Photoshop!

When I received this assignment the topic was clear but the story hadn't been written yet – not an uncommon situation. The general concept for the illustration was agreed on and it was suggested I not spend a lot of time on it; there were too many other assignments to sort through, so maybe just grab some bits & pieces of older illustrations and put them together with a couple new sketches. Sounded good!

But that never works out. I should know better. I spent too much time looking through old work and trying to make clip art out of it when it would have been more efficient to simply make a new drawing.

A few objects there at the bottom of the stack are cut and paste jobs, and there were a few others, but they didn't fit nicely and I wasted more time warping them, redrawing them, trying to get them to match with the general style. I finally came to my senses, put my shoulder to the old grindstone and drew the stupid thing.

Page design by the great Daymond Gascon

The End

A Tragic Love Story

Long-time colleague Matthias Gafni tells a powerful story of age, disease, the right to die and the compounding cruelty of the law; awful, awful circumstances. Matthias always does a great job and this is one of the most moving stories I've illustrated. You can read it at this link.

Open in a new window for a larger image. Drawn in Photoshop.

I plowed through this illustration as quickly as I could. The topic really bothered me and once I had the concept I did my best to keep my thoughts from dwelling on the tale. I much prefer illustrating fun, light stories and always find the darker and sadder assignments draining.

There is truth in that most news is bad news, but some news is worse than that. One must work on what he or she has to work on and hope that tomorrow's task is less depressing.

Below is the lovely Sunday page designed by Chris Gotsill.

Jack Kirby Study

In the bloom of youth, when I was “the kid who loved to draw,” one of my favorite things to do was to imitate panels or entire pages from my favorite comics. People, cars, buildings, animals, spaceships – you could learn how to draw everything by looking at comics. Redrawing pages and panels was a major part of my early self-education. I spent my formative years studying the great comics masters without once realizing that was what I was doing.

I still get to draw for my job occasionally – so I have not given up on drawing entirely – but I’ve drifted from the habit of drawing for pleasure and fallen far from the practice of drawing on paper.

HB and 4B pencils on Strathmore 300 bristol paper!

It has been more than a decade since I’ve created art regularly in any other medium aside from digital. I would like to return to the days of curiosity-driven study and joyful sketching. I’ve spoken often about getting back to the basic pleasures of drawing in the real world but haven’t made much progress.

Well, here is a nugget of progress. It’s a study of Fantastic Four, issue #91, page two. I wasn’t trying to create an exact replica, just looking at and following Jack Kirby’s design and layout. I think I may have followed too closely in spots – resulting in a piece that looks like Kirby on a bad day – but it was fun to do and the fun was what I was hoping for.

There will be more drawing on paper to come, and maybe more comics drawn on paper since this was such a good time!
The end.

Meager Post for Moby Drawings

No time for a long post, so I'll just say: These were part of a series of drawings for a story that briefly described the process by which whale bones were collected and made ready for presentation in a museum.

These two were my favorites.

I hope to have more substantial (and more fun!) work to show here in the near future.

Harassment Under a New Lens

This was a late-breaking, quick-turnaround illustration for the Sunday edition of the Bay Area News Group family of newspapers. I kept it very simple and was pretty much done in just a couple of hours. The story by Kay Murphy and Thomas Peele is at this link.

Drawn in Manga Studio and Photoshop!

The illustration was requested and I immediately cringed at the notion of having to come up with something for a story about sexual harassment. Topics of that nature are extremely tricky to illustrate in a way that will avoid offending a lot of people. I resisted and tried to wriggle free of it. An illustration about sexual harassment that will run on the front page of a respectable newspaper is too fraught with danger.

When it became clear that it couldn't be avoided, I consulted with colleagues and we all squirmed uncomfortably.  Since the story hinged on an incident involving a professor of astronomy I opted to focus on that aspect, and this idea occurred to me when I looked at an image of a large telescope.

I'm pretty happy with it. It's kind of cute, but not too silly; or, perhaps, it's a little silly without being too cute. Or maybe it's both of those things, but it was the best I could come up with. Yeah, that's probably it.

Page designer Chris Gotsill got ahold of it and made it look very nice on the page.

I haven't heard that anybody complained, so I think I got away with it.

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I-Sci-Fi Magazine

My ideal job would be to paint and draw for (bad) 1940's and 50s era pulp magazines. There are days when I think the best art of all time appeared in grotesquely vivid color on the covers of the pulps. Today is one of those days.

Open in a new window for a much larger image.

Back in the late 80s, it was pretty clear the sci-fi, fantasy, detective and western pulp magazine business was near death, but I hoped that it would last long enough so that I could score a cover painting or an interior pen and ink drawing for publication, just so that I could say that I did it. Never happened.

So, every once in a while, I hop the trolley to the land of make-believe and pretend.

Above are two screen-shots of the painting before I figured out what I was going to do.
I've had this notion to create my own e-zine of goofy science-fiction stories and artwork, and maybe I will get to it someday but, until then, I'm going to try to create more art like this because it's great fun. The grind of work has been getting to me and this reckless creativity has been refreshing. I think it's good for me!

Below is the painting without all the annoying type.

Open in a new window for a much larger image.
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Sketching at the Park

I took my daughter to the park this morning -- as I do most mornings -- and down to the creek we went, because that's the spot where you can find dragonflies, lady bugs, and water. I coaxed her out onto a rock and she sat and jabbed at the current with a stick for a few minutes and I was able to scratch out a quick drawing:

Brush pen on paper

Prior to that, the kid squatted on the bank and swished her fingers around in the water. I thought she was going to stay there for a minute or two, but I was wrong. I drew her hat, placed the bottoms of her feet, touched her elbow to her knee and she was gone. I told her to go back. She said no. I said there's a water bug, right there! She went back, assumed the pose for four seconds and ran off. No water bug, she said. So I faked the rest of it in a rush and moved downstream:

Brush pen on paper

Last weekend we stayed late at the park. The sun was all the way down and it was dark, dark, dark. Evel Bea stretched out on the ground and moved dirt and rocks around. Somebody in the parking lot turned on their headlights -- for some other kids who were lingering -- and I did some quick gesture drawings of E on the iPod with my pinky. The bottom one I drew mostly with my left pinky! I guess it kind of shows.

App: Paper by 53, drawn on an iPod.

The Big Bang of Nerd Pop-Culture

Can’t get enough Star Wars, right? Right? Well, like it or not, it’s only going to get worse. Here's my contribution to the onslaught. These character doodles are elements in a layout for a story about Star Wars fans. The story is linked here!

Drawn in Manga Studio and Photoshop! Open in another window for a HUUUUGE image.

In 1977, when I was a tyke, I saw the first movie and I can confirm it was the best thing ever. Star Wars -- not the repackaged 'episode 4' nonsense, but just plain 'Star Wars' -- was the big-bang of nerd pop-culture and you have no idea how bleak life was before Luke Skywalker and R2-D2 appeared; all you had was William Shatner Star Trek reruns, Super-Friends cartoons and mid-70s Marvel comics. That stuff was cool to me, but mainstream America didn't think so. When Star Wars hit the theaters, everybody was willing to stand in line for hours to watch a movie I wanted to watch. Suddenly it was a great time to be a 10 year-old boy.

A few years down the road, I thought the Empire Strikes Back was excellent. In retrospect I probably embraced it because, while it still appealed as a boys adventure story, the darker tone matched my outlook during the moody teenage-nerd years. I have no doubt it was an incomplete, incomprehensible, Muppet-infected entertainment experience if you weren’t heavily invested in the first film, but it hit the right spot for me.

Return of the Jedi – aside from the stunning leap in special effects – was a disappointment, but I accepted it as good enough for a conclusion to a decade of waiting to see how it would all turn out. I considered it over. Boy, was I wrong.

Thirty-six, thirty-seven years later, here I am drawing Star Wars characters for a story riding the wave of hype for the next Star Wars movie. It's kind of weird that something so closely tied to an artistic and cultural milestone of my childhood has such strong appeal today.

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Update! Here's the print version, designed and arranged by Daymond Gascon.


Howdy! I made this illustration last week, and it ran in the Thursday, August 27 edition of the Bay Area News Group family of newspapers.

The excellent story by the always excellent Pat May can be read here.

The brilliant design and vacancy sign was conceived and concocted by the always brilliant page-designer, Chris Gotsill.

Drawn, as usual, in Manga Studio and Photoshop.

The End
(Short post today. Kinda busy.)