Vacancy!

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.)

El Niño is in the Cards

So it looks like El Niño is locked and loaded, but what does it mean? What's going to happen? Heck if I know, I'm no expert. That's why you should go read the story by Paul Rogers at this link. But if I understand, it could be terrible, or it could be great, or it could be negligible.

Hm. Maybe that's why they asked me to draw faux tarot cards for this story. It all makes sense now!

Drawn in Manga Studio and Photoshop!




Only four of the cards were used in the print edition. The story relied on a report that was issued the day the paper went to press, so we had an idea of what was coming but the details weren't clear until the release. The direction and assessment of what the data means can be wobbly until the reporter and editors figure it out, so I have to be ready to chase the stick whichever direction it gets tossed.

One card was nixed, another couple of ideas were needed, one of those was nixed and the first nixed card was reinstated. That's how it goes sometimes with the breaking news stuff. I think it's kind of fun; if I didn't have that attitude, I'd be one large quivering ulcer, with glasses, sitting in front of a computer.

The End

Big Money, Big Pressure

This illustration ran in the Bay Area News Group family of newspapers on Sunday, August 2. Here is the handy link to the excellent story by Matt O'Brien.

Drawn in Manga Studio and Photoshop.

To sum up briefly: Shareholders try holding high-paid CEOs accountable when the companies they run fall in value. Most of those CEOs keep getting paid their hefty salaries no matter the misfortunes of the businesses in their care.

The likenesses attempted are of Marissa Mayer, John Hammergren and Larry Ellison. Ellison and Mayer are pretty well-known around these parts, so if I come close there's a good chance the informed reader will recognize them.

Sadly, John Hammergren has a lower profile, and only those who follow such things might know the name of the CEO of a pharmaceutical distributor; and fewer still would recognize his picture. Initially I drew only Larry and Marissa, but Hammergren turned out to be the lede in the story. Late in the game I was asked to fit him in there somehow.

Funnily enough, I had done a caricature of him a couple of years ago for a story about the highest paid CEOs in the bay area, so I was able to swipe his head off of that one and tweak it for this illustration. That saved me the small stress of wrangling with another caricature so close to deadline.

I made it, tho, and then the story was held for a week. That's the way it goes sometimes. No matter, it was fun to work on! Here is how it looked in the paper:



The End

Afterword:

This is sometimes unavoidable, but I'm bothered by the juxtaposition of of the serious, tragic story on top, and my silly illustration right below. The horrific murder of Madyson Middleton brings such strong feelings of rage and sorrow. As a reader, my eye sees the goofy illustration below as a dumb joke told by someone (me) in an inappropriate time and place. 

Like I said, it's news and different types of news will reside side by side as stories unfold, but sometimes the level of discomfort is escalated when the bad news is so disturbing. The small portrait of the beautiful young girl dominates and understandably so. 

Small Blog Update

I drew this a couple days ago; tweeted it, tumbld it, google+ed it and that was going to be that. I have a work-related, fancier illustration to post, but the publication date has been postponed so I can't show it here yet. In the interest of freshening up the blog, I'll slip this quick doodle in while no one is looking.

I was sitting on the floor in my daughter's room while she was drawing with crayons. Since she was so studiously making marks on paper while I sat idle, I stopped goofing around on the internet and did a quick sketch.

Drawn on the iPad. The app is "Paper" by 53. Ten, maybe 15 minutes drawing time. 

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I've flaked when it comes to drawing on the iPad, mostly because I can't stand drawing with my finger. There's something about the friction on my fingertip that drives me nuts! But by not drawing on the tablet, I'm neglecting the main reason I wanted an iPad in the first place.

I've had a few styluses in the past but they don't seem to last very long. I just found another stylus that has a tough looking tip. It's finicky and doesn't register on every stroke unless I'm very deliberate about it, but it's okay. I'm still waiting for the perfect, pressure sensitive pen and over-size iPad! It should be like a portable Cintiq, but hopefully not so pricey. (It is Apple, tho, so it'll be double, I bet.)

As a blog bonus, this is the drawing Evelyn was making while I was sketching her. She says "it's a happy face and some shapes." I should add that my drawing above is of Evelyn and some shapes. We are a pair, me and she.

Drawn with crayons on legal-size paper. 

The End.

Small Animation Experiment

After a lot of frustration, I decided to go back and read the Anime Studio manual, which -- although extremely helpful -- is a total drag. Why can't I just figure it out? This is the 4-seconds-long result of a few hours of tedious reading. I'm making some progress, but I've already forgotten how I got parts of this to work. I have to repeat things several times before it sticks.


video

I'm having a good time creating characters to animate, but I should spend less effort on that and more effort on learning how to make them move. I'm aiming for a short cartoon with annoying tunes I've made in GarageBand; that's another horrid little hobby I've taken to recently. I hope the effort comes out along the lines of Yellow Submarine in style, but with way shittier music.

Here are a couple of characters I've made for this; I've got a few more I'll post later, or maybe I should just wait until I get them working.



Super Bowl Volunteers

This illustration ran in the Bay Area News Group family of papers back on Thursday, June 25. I try to post here on the same day it prints, but I've been on staycation, cutting back on time spent sitting in front of the computer. It's good to (mostly) disconnect now and then.

Drawn in Manga Studio and Photoshop. Open in a new window for a much larger image.

The day I began work on this assignment I had forgotten to bring my drawing tablet with me. I had to find a pencil and draw on paper. I know it doesn't sound too tough but there was panic and despair -- I hardly ever get to work on paper anymore. It feels weird, but after a few minutes warming up, it wasn't so bad. I thumbnailed my basic idea, gathered reference and created the rough in a couple of hours with the help of my iPad camera and Photoshop. It was fun and didn't slow me down much at all. The rough was approved and I started on the final.

The rough! Pencil and paper arranged in Photoshop.

Jumping back a little bit, I should explain that the story was about how the NFL recruits volunteers in host cities (San Jose this up-coming season) to put on the big game. The NFL relies a great deal on the host community to help out with the huge influx of visitors and press and whatnot. You can read the story online here. It's by Patrick May, one of the writers I work with regularly, and he always does a great job telling the story.

I started to think that Kaepernick may not be the best person to put on the poster. I sent out an email explaining to the editors that maybe Tom Brady should be on there. He is the reigning Super Bowl MVP, immediately recognizable, and much more likely to find his way back to the Super Bowl than the 49ers QB, I'm sorry to say. I heard back from only one editor, and the response was "sounds good!"

So, I drew Tom Brady and put him on the poster and forged ahead on the rest of the illustration.



As I was heading toward the end zone, ready to spike the ball and kiss my bicep, the other editors began to reply to my email and the consensus was we should use Kaepernick instead of Brady, mostly due to the "deflate-gate" nonsense which was flaring up again at the time. If people saw Tom Brady on the front page they would think it was about cheating. Yeah, they were right. Darn. I had to add a bit more hustle to get it re-done.

Every time I put my feet up and think I've got it made, it turns out I'm brutally wrong. Oh, well.

Here is how it looked in the paper:


The End


Golden State Warriors: World Champions!

It feels weird typing that. I suppose anything can happen, right? Maybe the SF Giants will win three World Series or something, too. I don't follow basketball anymore, but there was a time when the Warriors games were broadcast on local commercial TV and I was an enthusiastic follower of the team.

My favorite era, of course, was the Run TMC era. No championships, but that team looked like it was having more fun than anyone else and it was great fun watching them. The 2015 edition of the Warriors have that vibe, too, but it looks like they play a meaner brand of defense than Don Nelson's troupe.

I was thinking about personal heroes Jack Davis and Mort Drucker while I was working on this.
Drawn with MangaStudio and Photoshop!

In anticipation of the sports department asking for an illustration to commemorate the impending Warriors' championship, I started this sketch a day or two before it was won, just to get ahead when the inevitable request came.

Well, the request didn't come. They didn't even think about it. But I offered it up, and it was about 1/3 done so it looked a little better than a sloppy rough. They said "cool, finish it." It was needed in a hurry so there were a few hours of sleep sacrificed after midnight to hit the deadline but it was fun!

I wish I could have slipped Tim Hardaway in there, somewhere...

Forgot to mention this was published in a special section of the Bay Area News Group newspapers on Sunday, June 21! That's the SJ Merc, Oak Trib, CC Times, etc., etc.

Baby Steps

Ugh! It's so hard to find time to learn new things. Had to get up at 6 today to in hopes of getting in some Anime Studio practice before the kid woke up. And she woke up at 6:30. Distracted her with cereal and the iPad.

Drew a caricature of my good pal Quincy the other day, and sketched up a quick background last night. Just wanted to have him walk onstage, see a bird and -- so in tune with his jungle instincts -- sit down.

video



Didn't get to the bird this morn, and his sitting motion isn't what I'd like it to be but DING! The timer went off and I have to take the kid to the park. I'll get it figured out.

It's So Easy...

... to cheat on your significant other by watching episodes of those shows that you're supposed to watch together. I haven't done it, mind you, but I suspect that my wife has finished the latest season of House of Cards, but won't tell me. She didn't seemed shocked or surprised at the latest developments when we watched an episode the other night. She seemed rather bored by it, so suspicion has grown in my heart.

Ah, well. For better or worse, I said.

Drawn and colored in Photoshop





This ran in the Bay Area News Group family of newspapers last weekend. The story is by Chuck Barney and it's much more entertaining that this slop I scribble here on the blog's wall.

Short (Very Short) Animation


I bought Anime Studio 10 a couple of months ago. It looked like it might be a good intro to animation, and it was on sale. Well, I spent a couple of days with it and had no luck whatsoever. Sometimes you can read the instructions, follow them to the letter (at least you think that's what you're doing) and nothing works.

I stopped fiddling with it and spent time watching tutorial videos while doing other things. Weeks passed and I thought I understood things better. Well, wrong again. Frustration still loomed large. Every few days I would review things and try again. Then I'd cuss and quit.




Yesterday, I finally had a small breakthrough. Things are moving like I tell them to move. It's simple, but the first step has been taken. I got up this  morning and made something before my enthusiasm cooled.

This isn't the 3 minute video with musical accompaniment that I envisioned, but after so much fist pounding and teeth grinding, I'll accept it as it is and claim progress.


Evolution of an App

I  made this comic for the paper last week. You can see the comic in the wild and read the story by Patrick May on the Bay Area News Group website by clicking here! Mr. May always does great work and it's a pleasure to have my pictures in the paper and on the web, next to his words.

Open in a new window for a MUCH larger image.

A couple of weeks ago Pat gave me a long list -- broken down into 10 steps -- of the process the app creators went through on their project from the moment of inspiration until it was approved by the Apple app approval nazis. I took his list, his writing, his research, put it a cocoon and this wobbly, wrinkly-winged thing struggled free. I wonder if it will fly?

I was told to have fun with it, which I always do, but I don't always feel the fun while I'm actually doing it. This one was fun. I only had one very dark period while making this comic and that was at the beginning, facing that list of 10 steps. And it wasn't the issue of fear of the blank canvas, rather getting it all to fit on the canvas.

There were almost enough words to fill up all of the panels without room for pictures. Much cutting, pasting, scribbling and tearing out hair occurred while trying to break things down. Coming up with one image or "joke" for each step was also perplexing, but that's the really fun part of comics.

Open in a new window for a huge, readable image.

It was strange and exciting to work on this. There are many reasons why I wanted to be an artist, but comics were a big, big part of that, and getting the chance to do this kind of work strikes a bell for me. Ding! I hear it, I feel it. Is it any good? I can look at it objectively and rattle off a list of flaws and I can entertain the argument against its value as journalism; but even if it weren't my work, and I didn't care for the look of it, I certainly would stop and read it and enjoy it and think "Gosh, I wish I could draw comics, too." I do that all the time.

I won't do much of this for my job, but I will do more work like this because there is a joy in it. I haven't drawn comics in a decade or more; well, I've dabbled but never completed anything. I'm out of the habit and I've replaced that habit with other things for reasons that I won't list because they likely sound like excuses. I should just quit worrying about silly things and start doing silly things and enjoy myself.

The End



Yet Another Minor Post

I hate it when this stagnant little pool of my artistic runoff begins to congeal. Time to scrape off the top layer of blogscum and pour another small cup of feeble-but-freshly-excreted drawing into the mix to freshen the waters!

Between five and ten minutes burned from my life while drawing this.


Evelyn Beatrice (EvelBea to you and me) was stretched out on the floor, moving her little lego people in a sleepy fashion, with nap time certainly overtaking her. I covertly grabbed the ipad and opened up the app, "Paper."

Three finger swipes into the drawing, she began to thrash about, fighting off the sandman by rolling back and forth and spinning about on her side in the comical manner of Curly Howard. So this is a drawing made while observing the most uncooperative of life models. It's funny that – in my objective critique of this doodle – the worst part is the poor observation of perspective in the rendering of the floor and base of the furniture; neither of those were moving.

Oh, well. Keep practicing!

Afterword: I have a few things to post, but haven't carved out the time to do it. Soon, for the stagnant pool's sake.


Um, I Don't Know What This Is

Just goofing around. It means nothing and is probably going nowhere, although it makes me curious about what the Baron did to get on the wrong side of Simon Blanchard-Cusps and Edna Shroode.

Open in a new window or tab for a much larger image!

The End.

Some Food, Part 4

I lost momentum in continuing the food illustration posts begun in December. I got through three wordy efforts (click here and scroll down a notch for those) and fizzled. I tried to warm up to it a few times but it just wasn’t happening.

I’m posting all of the images that I didn’t show previously (with a possible rerun or two or three) but – in the interest of getting it done and moving on – I’m not going to hand letter the labels and descriptions as I did before. I’m not even going to tell you what they are. I'm just going to post and run. These images are for visual pleasure purposes only, if that doesn’t sound too weird.



The End.

Getting Through a Rough Stretch

Uncle Sam. Yet another cartoonist's cliché, I know. I’m not happy about it. It was my first idea, so I started doodling slowly, hoping another idea would occur to me before I got too far. It never happened. The story is good, you can read it at this link, but I’m not satisfied with my effort.


That’s how it goes sometimes. I’ve had a few un-blogged illustration disappointments lately, but I thought I’d share this one as a way to — I don’t know — make a sacrifice to the gods or something like that. If I confess to creating this mildly horrible thing, maybe Zeus will send thunderbolt to awaken my slumbering muse.

Still, I will admit that near the end I was starting to enjoy myself. If I had been capable of a more positive disposition as drudged through the initial stages of development, maybe I could have made this approach shine more brightly. I kept playing with it, even slightly beyond the deadline; not because I had to, but because I felt close to finding the groove on it.


Doesn’t he look a bit like Harpo Marx? Harpo is tops. I would recommend his autobiography, "Harpo Speaks." It's one of my favorite biographies, and he tells some great stories.

How's that for a desperate attempt to distract you and myself from this underwhelming artistic undertaking?

Not all is frustration and despair! I do have better work to show, but I won’t be able to get to that for a day or two. Burdened with job that deals out long days and a toddler waiting for me when I walk in the door, I rely on insomnia-time to keep this blog-chore going.

I feel a restless night coming on soon.