Sorry about the obnoxious color scheme. Just goofing around; trying a different style. Eh.

Two Illos

Last week I created two illustrations in spite of the relentless flow of my regular duties. I could have declined one of the assignments-- and maybe I should have-- but it's been nearly two months since I was able to draw or paint something for the paper. I fell prey to greedy optimism and I committed to them both. Two months is long time of dull map-making and chart-tweaking with no drawing for relief.
...Ahem. That is to say, charts & maps are fine and necessary and maybe even respectable duties for a newspaper graphicker-- I perform those little works of art all of the time-- but I'm passionate about drawing when I get the chance.
...I confess that each of these illustrative efforts suffers from "first idea syndrome"-- this problem can occur when I read the synopsis of the story or the topic, get an idea for an illustration, and doggedly draw that idea as it first appeared, with no refinements, no growth, no pruning. Sometimes it's not even a fully formed idea; it's the artistic equivalent of a flinch, the result of striking a rubber mallet to the kneecap of the muse.
...So, consider the picture above. The story my painting attempts to illuminate opined that there are too many college bowl games. Once, there were but a few, now every team ends up playing in a bowl game sponsored by weed-eaters, potato chips, restaurant chains, what-have-you.
...The instant I read the story's summary I thought of one of those toy-filled gumball machines full of those little plastic helmets, but in my vision those helmets had bowl logos on the side. The quiet message implied in this concept is "bowl games are plentiful and cheap and probably mostly meaningless." After more careful consideration I suppose the connection is dubious.
...Too late. I jumped into the work with requisite haste. Within two or three hours I had the machine painted, the glass effect figured out-- not to my satisfaction but close enough so that I could "fix it later"-- and I roughed in several footballs, choosing their simple shapes over what would have been a much more labor intensive depiction of little plastic helmets.
...Regular duties demanded my attention and so this fell to the wayside for several days. In spare minutes I sought out bowl logos and experimented with ways of getting them to look like they were on the surfaces of the balls (I never really figured that one out, so don't look too closely.)

The next drawing goes with a front page centerpiece about the wiles, stratagems and possible compromises of principles and dignity people are willing to suffer in order to attend Obama's inauguration. The initial creative spontaneous reactive conceptual blurt? "A crowd of hands reaching for the golden ticket..."
...Bleh. Not great.
...I started working on it, hoping that a more inspired solution would emerge. I'm still stumped. The page designer needed a size and shape a couple of days before it was due, so I quickly roughed an arrangement very similar to the final.
...As I made my way through the week, I refined the rough, redrawing a few fingers, moving the hands around, and that was about it. I wasn't able to really sink my teeth into it. If I were to do it again I wouldn't go the same route with realistically drawn hands, perhaps a more graphic treatment would seem less creepy-- as someone commented, they do look like hands reaching from the grave. Zombies for Obama. (Ooh! I'd love to do that illustration!)
...The weight of the work-week dog-piled any feeble hope I may have had for getting more quality time with these poor illustrations. After the initial push at the beginning of each, I doubt that I was able to find an hour alone with either of them until the final three hours on Friday, when I scrambled to get both of them into presentable shape.

The End

A few character doodles

Drew these back in November, inking the super-fellow earlier this month. The guy on the left pertains to the steampunk painting I've been procrastinating on. The other two were exercises in putting off working on the steampunk painting. I spent a quiet insomnia hour (or so) coloring them.

The End.

Art Slump

I've been in an art slump. It happens now and then. It's a bummer. I have a few things I want to work on but the job and the commute are in full swing, battering the desire to spend "free time" sitting in front of the blank page.
I doodled this the other night, and there's nothing to it. No story. Nothing else. Probably never will be.
I was just trying to jump start the engines. Didn't work. Here I sit, underneath the carport, dreaming of the open road...
The End

More Steampunkery

Long time no post! I took a brief computer hiatus in regards to drawing on the computer-- all other computer activity was at the usual high-level-- to give my wrist and shoulder a rest. Going to work and grinding out 9-10 hours on the tablet and then coming home to paint, sitting in the same pose, can bring about serious discomfort if I don't ease off now and then.

...I'm still committed to the Steampunk Legend project although I haven't done much with it. Here is a sample of the little progress I have made, and I hope so be able to show more advancement soon... although I do have a lot to do this week.
...This is a study for the design of the Black Knight. I'm not yet completely sold on the composition of the final painting so this may change drastically.
The End.
p.s. The idea here is he's on tracks, like a train. Sure, it limits his mobility, but it increases his coolness factor. I think.

Steampunk Legend!

I've jumped into the "Steampunk Myths and Legends" project at the CGTalk forums. I'm doing a painting based on "Sir Owain and the Black Knight." That's a story I read long ago, and I thought that the idea of a Steampunk Black Knight would be fun to play with. (My thread here.)

I did a quick search for the story on the web and I found a few links that almost support the story as I remember it. Truth to tell, all that I remember is Sir Owain defeated the Black Knight and got lost in the Black Knight's castle searching for The Chalice. Well, that's not quite the way story seems to go (although there are probably several versions, as there often are when it comes to the old legends) but the part I'm focusing on-- Sir Owain confronting the Black Knight-- seems not to be affected by my errant recollections.
...The Chalice doesn't seem to be mentioned anywhere! Oh, well.

...These are my first roughs, and I'm still searching for a good direction. There is another rough I'm working on but it's not quite ready. I have a new take on the Black Knight character which I'm liking and more ideas are flowing from that. Update soon

The End

Desperation Post

I haven't had the opportunity to do a thing the past few days! Frustrating! I'm busy at work this week and had a harrowing time of it last week (I survived the latest round of layoffs, which is -- at best -- a temporary relief, but any hope for a brighter future as an artist/graphic journalist is a moth-eaten, battered, burnt-faced, one-eyed, legless, featherless hope. Don't get me started on that!)
...I had been doing well, BLOGically speaking, and to find that I have dramatically fallen off my pace has brought on a small panic. I am working on something this morning, but it's too hideous to share at the moment. So, I've looked in the archive for something that is marginally presentable. Thus:

This is a photoshop study of a Rubens painting from about 4/5 years ago. It appears I had recently discovered the texture feature and laid it on pretty thick-- I tweaked it a little, as best as I could, to tone down the enthusiasm on that; otherwise I didn't mess with it.
Newer stuff, soon. I hope.


Girls and Robots!

It can be fun to take a quick, dumb sketch and spend way too much time polishing it up-- and it was.

...I do most of my work in a panicky rush. On the job-- even if there appears to be plenty of lead time on an illustration assignment-- other projects and the daily grind destroy the cushion, leading me to frantic finish after frantic finish. At home, weekend chores and the accursed commute can make a fragmented wreck of my art-time-- I seem to finish most of my "for fun" drawings in haste before setting off to work.

...With the chosen theme of "Girls and Robots", I did the black and white sketch in just a few minutes. I scanned it, and I was going to color it simply and let it go, but I started rendering his head and I was swept up in the challenge of the thing. I decided to commit a couple hours to it and just have fun.
...I wasn't terribly creative with the original drawing of the girl, and I was considering erasing her out of the picture; but, as I began fleshing in her legs, I started liking her better. I thought of her as a plastic action figure. She can bend slightly at the waist, and her arms and elbows can bend. I put a seam around her neck so she could turn her head, probably all the way around. It made her more interesting to me than she was.
The End.

A doodle!

Quick little character sketch. Any resemblance to actual people is cool, but probably coincidental.
Pencil, brush, pen, p-shop.
The End.

Brute, Ironjaw, The Bat-Man

Did four quick drawings yesterday and colored two of them just now. Pencil roughs and brush inks. Some pen-work thrown in there after the ink dried.

I've been picking up cheap copies of the ATLAS line of comics from the early 70's. There's some terrible stuff in there and some terribly GREAT stuff. Too bad the company didn't make it-- then we'd all know who The Brute and Ironjaw were.

The End.

The Green Guide Revisited

I drew this back in April; it's a goofy little illustration I did in a rush to fill an empty page in "The Green Guide" special booklet we published way back then.
...I've had this drawing in draft mode since April and lost track of it. I wasn't very fond of it and I couldn't think of anything nice to say about it, I suppose. It's been buried, and maybe I should leave it there, but several days have passed since I've posted anything and I'd like to keep my little hot-streak going.
...This is one of those "Find 10 things wrong with this picture" kind of things, but it might not have been 10 things and I don't remember what they were. I'm pretty sure it was about environmental faux pas found around town in Berkeley but I'd probably embarrass myself by trying to list them.
...Back on track with newer stuff, soon.
The End.

Happy Halloween!

This is the cover for this week's "Preview" section. I put this together in less than a shift in Photoshop. I like the rough-hewn quality. I didn't have to do any design here-- purely a stolen image-- so I was able to stand back and hurl paint at the canvas. Good fun for me.
... The topic?: Horror movies you might want to watch during this, our most bizarre of "holidays."

...Several of our writers picked their top five horror flicks, but I'll just vouch for my favorite:

1. Frankenstein! Can't beat the best monster movie ever! If you can pretend you've never seen it before, and if you try to ignore its pop-culture pervasiveness (is there a more famous image than Karloff's monster?); if you can get into character, if you can method act and grasp the the mind-set that people had, in 1931, when they walked into a dark theater to see a black and white horror film for the first time... whoa. Awesome, scary movie.
...And then, at the end, you're rooting for the monster! Suspense, horror and tragedy. It's perfect.

"Poltergeist" was pretty good-- good movie poster, at least. I liked "The Shining," too. Oh, and "Tremors."

The End.


This is a photoshop drawing/painting for a story about what players for the Warriors think about the election. It looks like it might be a pretty interesting read. Stories like this give me hope because-- although we percieve these guys as dumb, arrogant, selfish-- we often find out that they're really much more pensive than they appear. It's all the screaming, chest pounding and whining that distracts us from the true souls of these men.
...Sometimes they're genuinely unpolished young fellows, to be sure, but we hope for the best.
...This illustration will run tomorrow-- Fri., October 31st-- in the sports section, and what you see may not be the finished piece. I'll update this post if it changes significantly.

The End.
p.s. New record for posts in a month!

Closing In...

Okay, two days to go and I've tied my record for most posts in a month. AND I've got two more waiting in "draft" mode, almost ready. This is me celebrating and skipping and taunting before I cross the goal line, I know, but I've always suspected that I would be the type of guy to let success, however humble, go to my head. Take that, June 2006!

...Today's contribution:

This is a scan of another comic test-run. I inked on cheap tracing paper over a very rough pencil sketch-- I like the way the paper buckles and warps; it can drive you crazy if you let it. The trick is not to notice, not to care and just let the accidents happen. (And then try to cover it all up with color in Photoshop.)
...Colored in P-shop.
The End

Heads Heads Heads

First, I drew that stack of five heads on the left, in pencil only. Then I thought, I should really draw from reference more often, if only to make sure that some of those skills (such as they are) haven't been buried under all the other make-believe nonsense I do here. To address this concern I created the portrait of French engineer Louis Larent Simonin; he's the large, obviously referenced drawing. Not too bad. It came out sort of looking like him, too. Bonus.

I felt good enough about Louis that I decided to go back to my usual head-doodle routine. I roughed in featureless head-shapes all over the page, filling up the space. I did varying degrees of tightening up in pencil and my intention was to scan it un-inked; it would be a page of pure pencil drawings!
...I was listening to an old Gunsmoke radio-show, and I was really focused on it-- William Conrad as Marshal Dillon, John Dehner playing an old friend of Dillon's, Harry Bartell playing a bad-guy in this episode; great stuff-- but, as it ended, I came back to attention and noticed that I was inking a head. Dang! And I had already inked three others! Double dang!!
...I really wanted to finish this page quickly, but I was in a groove and having fun. I gave myself one more radio-show to ink as much as I could and then just let it go. So I did.
...And coloring? Well, I couldn't stop that either. I fear posting some stuff in naked black and white. I tried to limit the color work to 5-10 minutes a head, and I managed to stain the whole thing in about 2 hours, cheating a little bit with those pink and blue heads.

The End.
p.s. As a show of courage, here is the uncolored scan

Freestyle Doodle Improv

First, I drew a box. Then, I sketched the guy on the right. I put a hat on him, and I dressed him in a fashion to quietly compliment the hat-- he struck me as a bloke who would frown upon a gaudy dissonance of appearance. He looked like he needed a girlfriend, so I made one that I thought he might like and tucked her under his arm. I'm not sure he's all that crazy about her.
I put in the blind-folded guy over on the left and, by the time I finished drawing him, he was being driven by a little monkey. That was surprising! He looked lonely over there but I didn't think he'd be the type to attract the chicks. Instead, I gave him a friend who is like-minded, although I think #2 is more interested in the first fellow's girlfriend.
...The red figure in the background is the lady with the helmet from two previous posts (just scroll down a few, you can't miss her.) She wanted to be in the picture but she's been hamming it up, so I asked her to stand in the background.
...I roughed in the buildings, not really knowing what any of it is, but it didn't look bad to me at the time. I inked everything and I thought it was finished.
...The two people behind #14 poked their heads in. I shooed them away, but it was too late. I inked them too and proceeded to scan and color the whole shebang.
...I wonder what it all means?
The End.

Gun-Guy and Bad-Heads

Very quick sketch of some guy and a batch of not-so-good heads. I was going to hide these doodles but I thought I'd try to make them presentable somehow.
I haven't been inventive with my photoshop coloring lately; I have found or created a few brushes and methods that I lean on exclusively. This was a mild attempt to shake up that comfort zone.
...They ended up pretty colorful!
The End.

Bad Trip

My latest illustration is slated to run this weekend in the travel section. A few times a year the editors call upon the readers to submit content, which might sound like a crap-shoot but it's very popular and there are always some real gems (sometimes they're unprintable, but those provide extra entertainment around the newsroom.) This time we asked for tales of what went wrong on vacation; this is my humble effort to illustrate that theme.
...This piece was done entirely in Photoshop. I spent some time working up ideas with paper and pencil, filling a few pages with funny characters, cartoon airplanes, Eiffel Tower doodles, and so on; but when I scribbled a palm tree it looked very "Ukiyo-e" and I liked it.
...With that style in mind, I doodled a little kid with a shovel, pail and raincoat; and I liked that, too. The deadline was approaching so, for expediency's sake, I shifted to digital and improvised the rest of it.

A personal aside (boring! You can probably skip it.)
...I've probably mentioned it before but the newspaper business is in bad shape, and the past few months have been particularly severe. I've seen an large number of colleagues squeezed out, bought out, laid off. A couple of very talented and long-time friends have recently been let go. There are rumors of even more cutbacks to come.
...Now, as a member of a staff so decimated that we struggle simply to cover the shifts, there is less creativity in what I do and much less joy in the environment I work in. The people who remain are stellar; committed, professional, a pleasure to work under fire -- and I'm proud to work with them -- but the burdens are much greater and the rewards have diminished to the point where I wonder, "why am I doing this?"
...When I manage to score an illustration, or another assignment that gives me a more personal sense of satisfaction and a stronger sense of contribution, I really appreciate this aspect of what I've done for the past 7 or 8 years. What fun it can be to create something from start to finish, sign my name to it, and then, the next morning, 350,000 people are looking at it.*
...I'm also aware that each enjoyable project might be my last, and I try to find the extra time and the extra oomph to make sure it isn't something I'll be embarrassed of. I did have fun with this one and I kind of like it, but it makes me miss the good old days.
...Not a bad one to go out on if this is it.
The End
p.s. Just in case it isn't clear, the headline will probably go across the very top and the story will flow in a box, something like this:

*That's a guesstimate; might be a little less, might be a lot more. I looked up the circulation numbers of five of our papers (from a couple of years ago) added them together and rounded down. There are 11 papers that my stuff appears in, but circulation is down everywhere and, if what I've heard is true, numbers are often overestimated just to fluff things up. I'll fix this later if I can find the right numbers.

Senior Super-Hero!

These aren't very good but I've been on a roll lately and I'm desperate to keep it going. My record for most posts in a month is 13 and I may be able to beat my high-score if I stay on pace. So:

A new drawing of a character I was slightly obsessed with a few years ago. On a lark, I drew a few pages of a comic featuring an old-lady-superhero battling a giant robot. There wasn't a point to it other than I was exploring whether or not I could manage to put together a comic at a decent pace and with a level of quality that I wasn't embarrassed by. It was fun to work on and it didn't look too bad, but it wasn't quite what I was hoping for. I still like her-- there's something about her that cracks me up.

Backup Feature:
These are little doodles I wouldn't even show (and I may pull them later if I decide they're just bad fan-art) but I was so tickled by that Ditko-style fist on Peter Parker I felt like I just had to show somebody.

I recently read the Essential Wolverine collection and I was totally blown away by the John Buscema/Al Williamson art. I'll confess that the stories were pretty good but I never cared for Wolverine once he became a super-secret-agent-ninja guy. I thought he was cool when he was the mysterious, cigar-chomping, beer-drinking absolutely UGLY little psychopath who might turn on his own teammates. But as a Bogart-style, world-weary good-guy hero? Puh-lease; that is NOT the guy who ripped up those guards in the Hellfire Club. (I think my age is showing.)
...I did a quick sketch to see what he'd look like in my version of the X-men and, yeah, that's about right, but he'd be a little uglier. Also, I meant to draw a cigar in his mouth but forgot about it, so that why it looks like he has a weird grimace on his face.

The End

A Couple of Characters

Here are a couple more character doodles. As I was coloring the second one I wondered what they'd look like standing right next to each other. Quite a team!

The End

Sci-Fi Gal Again

Another drawing of this character, but with a decidedly different face. No reason for the change, I just thought I'd try a stronger nose on her. Maybe she's her sister!
...This gal looks a bit taller than the other drawing, which wasn't intentional. I have a tendency to make figures long and lean, and I work hard against that-- I prefer to draw characters who look slightly normal. The eight-or nine-heads tall proportioning of figures is well-and-good but I don't look at those figures and find myself identifying with them very often.

The End


I found an old sketch on a piece of typing paper. I liked the way she was standing, so I jumped in with the pen and proceeded to take the life right out of it.
...I colored it, hoping to push it back into the realm of "tolerable." Almost made it.
...I uploaded the poor thing and tried to find something nice to say on her behalf before posting. Nothing occurred to me so intended to "think on it" for a short time-- until inspiration struck! She has been sitting, waiting for a couple of months, lost in the shuffle. I found it this morning and thought I'd just throw it out there.
...Pencil, pen, P-shop.

More Head Doodles

For the two heads on the bottom, I was looking at an old photograph. I didn't try to do portraits but they came out pretty close to the pictures anyway. I avoided their hats, not out of fear (for they were very fancy hats) but because I had to leave for work.
...Then I did the top two, no reference. Freestyle. The bottom faces look more "real," I suppose, but that's only because they were.

My Latest Newspaper Illustration (Failure)

...The story angle: During these times of financial strife for the common man there is a crop of new shows depicting the fortunes and misfortunes of impossibly wealthy people-- programs reminiscent of "Dynasty" and "Dallas."
...Interesting, eh? Well, how do you illustrate that? I still don't know.
...I could have made a collage using the handout art from various shows, but that's tedious and the pictures were blah. So, by combining several small not-so-great ideas, I crafted one, gigantic bad illustration.
...Usually, when I'm stumped, I just start working; adding, subtracting as I go. Most of the time I can find a concept that is at least competently illustrative before I get to the deadline.
...But not all of the time.
...I prefer to be able to look at an illustration and get some idea of what the story is about-- this one does not succeed. If you don't know the gist of the story there's NO WAY you can guess the topic. Even after you read the story and then look at the picture, you might say: "Yeah, well. Um, I guess I  see the connection there. Yeah. Hm. Cute doggies!"
...I put in a bunch of cute widdle doggies because sometimes if you mix in a large enough chunk of  saccharin, you can distract the eye from the quality of the rest of the art. I should have just filled the page with Yorkies.
The End
p.s. The funny part is, and I forgot to mention it, I had a great time doing this. I worked on it in short bursts over a couple of days between my job's other tedious labors, and I was completely happy with each little bit I drew as I went along. In the end I don't think I pulled off what I was trying to pull off, because I didn't know what I was trying to pull off, if you get me.
...You know that saying about the journey being the exciting part, and how when you get to where you were trying to get it turns out to be a dump? Well, I had a great journey!

Some Heads

Here are some quick doodles in the form of made-up character heads.
...Top left -- when I completed the shape of the head, the hair and scribbled in his glasses -- I thought of Random Wilder from Dan Clowes' Ice Haven, but I wasn't trying to go after him; I just didn't fight the resemblance when I started refining him. Otherwise, they're all straight outta me head in freestyle fashion.
...Ooh! A little bit of Palin-hair on the lower left lady, I suppose, but that wasn't on purpose.

The Last Time I Saw Paul

This is a simple doodle I liked. I was going to make a production of it and turn it into a faux paperback cover but I've run out of gas. I figured out the title though, and it turns it into a sad thing, doesn't it?

Oh well. The End.

I was looking at Valazquez

And he was looking right back at me. So I doodled him. If he bothered to doodle me I bet it looked pretty good, although maybe not; he didn't seem willing to show me.

While working on a dull project at my place of employment I hacked out this quick study during short breaks, as a little reward for myself. I need some propping up now and again.

Four Posts Today

I've been too busy with work and with chores to keep the blog going regularly, but I have been drawing when I can. Here are a few things I've doodled and colored in the past couple of weeks. The goal was to come up with characters that might look good in a comic book or a video game:

This one was fun. I have a story for this ghastly character but it's a little long and growing longer, so rather than wait six months for me to get around to typing it here, just look at the picture and come up with your own! (Really, that's what I did-- I had no idea what he was all about when I started drawing him.)
This lady, as of yet, has no name, no story. Pardon the peculiar torso-twist and the weird cape.

A long time ago I drew the first version of this lady; she was skinnier and she had only one over-sized robotic arm. She looked clunky, but I was fond of her. I sketched her a few times and even went so far as to make some comic-pages with her in there, along with an old-lady super-hero (an octogenarian with a pudgy body and absolutely RIPPED arms.)

I submitted those pages to a couple places and nobody ever called me. Hm. Go figure..
Here, I intentionally tried to design a character that I thought would fit right into a Jean "Moebius" Giraud sci-fi comic. I've just gotten ahold of "The Incal" by Jodorowsky and Moebius, published by Marvel/Epic in the 80s, and I'm seeing everything through Giraud-colored glasses. Beautiful stuff!
...My first drawings of this fellow had a livelier, more colorful outfit, but I thought his striped pants, checkerboard vest and ruffled cuffs were indications I was going too far. Now, I think differently. I might fix him later.

I had a name and a story for this chap, but as I was finishing up the coloring on him it occurred to me to make his three eyes red, yellow, blue. Ooh. That changes things. Now he projects images in... subtractive color? That SHOULD be red, blue and green for additive color, right? Color theory was so long ago. Whatever; it just means that my previous notions about this fellow are whacked.


Sci-Fi Update

About four months ago I made a post about how I was really keyed up and ready to start a short sci-fi comic (Here, if you would care to read something that came to nothing.)
...I have not had the time to make an aggressive effort on that project. I did one page and found I didn't care much my drawings. The story -- which I have not written down but has been growing in my head -- has spun all out of control. I wanted to do a short thing but now it looks like a five-act epic that would run about 1500 pages (not really, but you know what I mean.)
...I didn't have a definite vision for the appearance of the woman in the story, therefore I spent a lot of time erasing and re-sketching and then erasing again, trying to figure out who she was. Amateur mistakes, one after another, as if I didn't know what I was doing. I don't, I guess. And this was only four panels in on this mess!
...And, as I said, I'm not finding the time to get after it as I would like to.
...But, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to do a few drawings of the woman until I had her down. Here is the one I liked the best, although the holster was a last-second addition and ain't quite right. And her left shoulder appears out-of-socket and the arm is too long and generally looks jacked-up. Oh, well. Back to the drawing board.

Here's a bonus crappy doodle. Photoshop drawing. Means nothing. Just a mimdless doodle in the purest sense.

The End.

Head Doodles!

Here are a few heads to look at. They were casually doodled on Saturday morning as I idly sipped on a couple of coffees -- 'casual' and 'idle' are two words I am going to use when I get around to crafting my personal motto.

I calmly scanned them on Sunday morning and haphazardly colored them, in hopes of making them look much nicer than they are -- 'calmly' and 'haphazardly' are two more of my motto building blocks!

No reference was used nor was there a clear intention for any of these as they were created, although I was thinking about a guy I saw sitting in front of a Starbucks when I drew the top left head-- and it kind of looks like him. Otherwise, they're all freestyle.

The End.

Couldn't Stop Scratching While I Worked

Another infographic, done in just a few short hours with a heavy deadline atop my head, wrinkling my brow. I would have preferred to do graphite drawings and colored them in Photoshop – to bring a little more delicacy to it – but I'm happy with how it came out.
...Perhaps it leans too heavily to the cartoony side but, when I'm in a hurry, my work kind of flows out looking like this. And since it's about a parasite that is not life-threatening I figured I didn't have to be completely dignified. It's running on the front page so size was a major issue -- meaning "keep it small so we can fit it in" -- although that goes for every page, these days.
...Crafted by hand in Illustrator.

The End.


(To be read aloud, with deep voice and a cowboy accent. Excerpted from "Quick Draw Pete's Bloody Revenge," a one-act play by Fontaine "Colt" Sneckler, 1954.)
...Many are the tough-minded hombres who have laughed at the fiesty fellow from Injun Meadows Gulch. He is a peculiar sight and might bring a chuckle to the throat of the uncouth cusotmer who finds humor in the unusual characteristics of others.
...He is tense and walks stiff legged. He speaks in a high, shaky voice, slurring his 's' sounds. He blinks a lot and so dense and so large are his eyelids that you can hear a tiny, wet sound when upper lid slaps lower.
...That might seem funny to folks who don't know about him and, like I said, many are the tough-minded hombres who have laughed. Yes, and a good number of those hombres are rounding up cattle for Jesus.
...Laugh too hard and he will call you out. "Shay your prayersh, varmitt," he's been known to say. And that is how it goes.
...He faces you and waits until you are ready. Still and stiff he poses like a statue, chubby hands out and over the butts of his six-shooters, a fierce grimace draws the corners of his mouth down. Silent he stands, save for the tiny lip-smacking sounds of his blinking.
...When you are ready-- your belt tight, your holster tied down, your hands poised to grab iron-- he stops blinking. He stares at you with those eyes, and you know they see all and they are just waitin' for your hands to move, or even twitch. Suddenly, he ain't so funny anymore.

The End

Painting study

Study of an Anders Zorn painting. Started it the other night and tidied it up a bit this morn. Tried to limit myself to 20-25 minutes, but probably cheated to the the tune of about 35 minutes total. Photoshop!
...I'm not particularly proud of this, I just feel like I have to post something to keep in the habit; to keep the pressure on. If there's a crummy little painting at the top of the blog it motivates me to do another crummy little something to push this further down, below the fold.

Hey, some serious work...

Here is an infographic I did a couple of weeks back. I seem to have mislaid (trashed?) the final version during my tidying up routine, but this is pretty darned close to the one that ran.
I started with two separate graphics. The flashover segment, occupying the bottom tier, was a one column vertical, while the portions above were designed for a two column presentation. The King of Graphics Department, Chuck Todd, terrific designer, artist & illustrator supreme -- and occasional heartless villain -- decided it should be a four-column thingy. Great.
...Well, it turned out he was right. I had to do some serious re-thinkin', re-tweakin' and re-drawin' in a flippin' hurry, but the end result sure looked better. C-Todd's design savvy and his infographic instincts are the reasons why he will probably be laid off shortly after I'm laid off. (That's newspaper biz gallows humor-- if you make your living in the industry then you know!)
...I worked on this piece in conjunction with a monstrous time-line/sequence-of-events that was mostly type and far too unwieldy to show here, but the entire project required extensive research and countless readings of a 150-ish page report of a response to a fire alarm that went tragically, sadly wrong. It was intense and moving work.
...Of course, in regards to the art, I'm not at all satisfied with it now. The flashover section in particular makes me cringe. As far as I'm concerned the art in that is still in the rough sketch phase; I intended to do a better job. For the last panel, I scribbled recklessly just to get the idea down, thinking, "Eh, I can come back later and polish it up."
...Hm. That phrase runs through my head far too often as I make my way through life. "Eh, I can come back later and polish it up."
The End.


Here are a few more character drawings.

As I drew the figures on the left, I imagined they could be cartoon characters voiced by Bogart and Bacall, perhaps for some some strange animated feature. As I colored them I thought that they would be good in a Hillbilly-Western themed thing, but they're not quite Hillbilly enough-- I may fix that later.
...On the right is a happy nerdy couple. I drew them with nobody in particular in mind. Freestyle doodling.
The End.

Beach Theme

...The lady is hauling the beer.
...The guy in the middle is one of those surfer-dudes from the late 1920s to early '30s getting the last taste off a stogie before getting in the drink.
The guy on the right is what happens when your inner-Kirby draws the God of Beachcombing.

.The End

Quick Post

Not much time for drawing lately, so I've been squeezing in a sketch here & there. I did the two on the left late night on Sunday, and, this morn, the two on the right (inspired by a couple of characters I saw at the coffee shop yesterday-- not quite so green in real life, though.) I colored them all moments ago.

Pencils, pens and some Photoshoppery.

The End

An Erstwhile Confidant...

I ran into an old sketchbook of mine. He is a tattered, hand-made, shabby fellow with warped illustration board covers; covers decorated with a collage of magazine cut-outs. We were close companions, he and I, and we traveled within my arm's reach of each other. He was often open on a table in front of me or perched on my knee, attracting the eyes of the curious. Many strangers complimented him on his appearance and I enjoyed being seen in his company.
...Time passed and pages filled. Without blank paper for me to draw upon my interest faded. I continued to carry him because I was used to being with him. When introduced to strangers he seldom failed to impress, but friends tired of him. "Very nice," they'd say, "but haven't you drawn anything new?"
...I began to feel dissatisfaction for the quality of his content and I was slightly ashamed of his demeanor. The images he wore so proudly I began to consider inexpert-- not his fault, it was me who was changing. The fresh-faced character of the covers suffered from unsightly, premature erosions-- again, my fault. I was careless with him. He was jostled about in my bag. I left him alone on the floor of the car when I didn't care to tote him around. He began to bend and to peel beneath my siege of inconsideration and disregard. Wrinkles and pockmarks were showing on his faces. The twine that held him together at the spine frayed and broke.
...If I wasn't careful when I pulled him free of my pouch-- to dig for keys or gum-- pages would tumble out and land awkwardly on the ground. I'd help him up, brush the dirt away, try to straighten out the latest bent corner, slip him into his jacket and hope that no one had seen him embarrass himself.
...At last, I placed him in a portfolio. I placed that portfolio in a box. The box was put away in a closet. Upon occasion I would find him while rummaging through things. I'd be happy to see him. The pleasant memories of our months together would return, and I'd flip him open, forgetting about the missing twine. Like autumnal leaves the pages would descend and more small pieces would break away.
...Putting him back in order, I'd look him over. "Eh, not very good," I'd say, lacking the wisdom and the tolerance to accept him for what he was; for when he was. Disappointed, I'd press the covers closed and, dispirited, the pages would cling together to stave off shame and loneliness there in the portfolio, in the box, in the closet.
...I had been so proud of him once.

...I rediscovered him this month and, hey!, he's pretty cool again. Maybe it's been so long since I made those drawings that the journal has at last achieved the status of "dignified older gentleman." I fashioned the journal and vandalized the interiors in mid to late 1994. (Whoa! I just figured out how long ago that was.)
...There are only 16 pages but they are artfully filled with sketches and xeroxes of sketches, pasted down and drawn upon yet again in hopes of integrating them with each other. It's a nifty patchwork compilation.
...Animals drawn at the zoo are placed next to people I captured on the train during my many subway commutes to school; studies from old magazines reside next to aimlessly doodled abstractions; and quotations of charm, profundity, or weirdness are scattered throughout. It was a conscious exercise in creating art that was reflective of what I was seeing and doing at the time. It is a portrait of the artist as a younger man.
...Perhaps it is I who is the dignified older gentleman, and the journal a freeze-frame of the savage youth searching for voice, building reservoirs of experience to sustain him. (I wasn't very "savage" though. Kinda wimpy, really. Heck, I was drawing!)

...With the desperate courage of youth I drew directly in pen, shunning the notion of erasing. Each intended stroke, a treasure; lines mislaid were accepted as visible scars; as punishments borne without vanity; mistakes left clearly in view so that I could not forget to learn from them.
...Sadly, I used rubber cement to paste everything in place, so a few pieces have gone missing. Most of the glued parts are loose and threaten to fall away when I turn the pages. It is like handling an ancient sketchbook found in the ruins Rome, but with drawings of Joseph Campbell, O.J. Simpson and Snoopy in it. One must be gentle or it is diminished by each viewing. Of course, every page is covered with those yellow stains left by old rubber cement, adding to the aura of age.
...Fortunately, when I purchased my first scanner (and felt the compulsion to scan everything,) I scanned this sketchbook; I could tell, even then, the poor fellow was destined to crumble. I still have those files and you can see the destructive decay of the rubber cement had not yet taken hold. In these images, most of it appears to still be intact. I didn't have a copy of the cover so I scanned that this morning and there it is, up there at the top.
...(While scanning the cover I dropped a couple of pages and about seven glued-on drawings let go. It was like I'd dropped a handful of confetti. The lesson here? Don't use rubber cement on your artwork!)
That was a long way of saying, I haven't drawn anything lately. Here's some old crap.

The End