Finished Work

This came out grubbier than I intended, but that's cool.
I was able to finish the rest of this page. (Scroll down and you'll see that I posted one panel from this two weeks ago.)

I enjoyed drawing and coloring this, but I'm going to make an effort to do comic art that might help me to get work in the mainstream. I have a tendency to sabotage my own efforts when I try to do that, but I'm going to try to stay strong; I might be needing the work.

The newspaper I work for announced they will soon  be laying off a slew of employees, and I might be one of them. Even if I survive this culling, how long will it be before they decide they can live without a wannabe cartoonist who grimaces and grumbles about having to do so many locator maps?

Gasp! Choke! Must... find... new... job! But first, I have to make myself more presentable.

The End.

Self-Diagnosis!

Here is a wonky illustration done for a story about getting yourself all bent out of shape by going online and trying to figure out what is wrong with you. Certainly you will imagine the worst, whether 'tis true or t'ain't.

It looks like a quick illustration, and it was, but not as quick as you might think. It took a few hours, I'm ashamed to say.

I tried several approaches, but this was my first idea and a direct descendant of my very first thumbnail. As I pressed forward, I looked backward and decided it wasn't going to get much better than this.

Deadline was looming, I was busy with other work and time was really tight, so I finished it up as quick as I could. . .  and then the story was held for a fortnight or so. That's the way it goes!

Had much fun, tho.

Unfinished Work

Here's a panel from a comic I started working on few months ago. Alas, again -- and I know I'm saying this way too often -- I just haven't had any time to work on it.



And, again, rather than let the artwork (and the blog) do a Rip Van Wrinkle, here it is. Someday I'll get back to being a productive artist and things will improve around here.

A Couple of Caricatures

Katy Perry (left), Adele (right.)
This was fun! It ran Thursday, August 11 in most of the Bay Area News Group papers.

These are supposed to be caricatures of Katy Perry and Adele. Adele came out okay, Perry I'm not sure. I guess if you put her name in the headline or sub-head then she's easy to spot.

I didn't know much about either of these ladies when I started drawing them, but with a little internet snooping and a short sampling of their work on Spotify, it's pretty obvious they are two talents with different approaches to their craft.

Katy Perry I'd seen here and there in adverts on the web. She impresses me as a cute pop-artist who doesn't take herself too seriously. That's cool. I have trouble lasting all the way through one of her songs, but I can appreciate what's she doing.

 Adele was completely new to me. Never heard of her. I made it through five or six of her songs; she's pretty good. Not my cup of tea, but I grok.

First roughs in the process. I didn't
care for the way it was going up top,
so I switched to a more drawing-based
approach and then painted over that.
I really don't know what I'm doing
most of the time. It's always a kind
of improvisation.
I did some initial sketches playing up the differences between the artists -- Perry jumping and waving her arms, Adele standing essentially like she is now -- and I liked them, but it would have made for a more complex and time-consuming illustration. I didn't have much time.

I decided to do caricature-style portraits instead.

To do a good caricature I have to get a lot reference and do two or three practice drawings, just to become familiar with a face. I'm not good at looking at someone once and nailing the picture. I need practice.

Katy Perry is a more conventional beauty in the sense that her features are easily downplayed with make-up and lighting to achieve that mannequin sameness that appeals in our pop culture. I had a hard time finding the uniqueness in her features that I could use to make her look like her. If you know what I mean.

Adele was fun! Her features are lovely and unique. If you look at her cd covers you can see they're trying every trick in the book to make you think she's another skinny, bland-looking pop diva, but the pictures of her out in the world show a big and wonderful difference. She has a terrific face.

Oops. I was going to talk about the drawing process, but I digressed and talked about cute girls, instead. Now, I'm tired of typing and have other stuff to do.

The End.

Thinner

Another old illustration. How many of these do I have? I suppose the day will come when I run out of old junk and the blog will sputter and die. But, until then...

I found this Photoshop painting in my newspaper illustration archives. It was done in 2004 for an Oakland Tribune story about the anorexic sub-culture. The editors suggested that I draw a skeletal woman in front of a mirror and the reflection, looking back at her, would be a beautiful woman. Not bad, not bad, but a quick internet search turned up many images that played with that concept.

I offered the idea of a beautiful woman, her image repeated in a sequence, transforming into a skeleton. Death by anorexia was considered a noble thing by the people in the story; I felt it would be an appropriate way to illustrate it. Not brilliant, but it could be effective. Someone said, okay, give it a go.

So, why Betty Grable? Betty Grable was my idea. I know, catch up with the times, right? But, here's why I chose her:

Even though Betty Grable was way before my time, I've always thought of that picture as THE pin-up. It was a ubiquitous image on TV and in magazines as I was growing up. Every time I saw it in print, the caption would refer to it as "the most popular pin-up of all time." Honestly, in pop-culture that picture was still in play until Farrah Fawcett's poster made the scene.

Since newspaper readers are an older crowd -- people around 40 and up -- I was confident that even the "younger" readers who might not know her by name would have seen the picture a hundred times in the same way I had. So, I picked her.

When I finished the illustration, there was a brief struggle over whether or not it should see print. It was more gruesome than anticipated and one editor along the path of the approval process -- or maybe more than one -- had reservations about it. It is a bit horrifying, but it was pushed through. Because of the tense discussion about its appropriateness, my stomach was in knots. I had a sleepless night worrying about it.

But it went over well. I received more positive responses from readers and colleagues for this illustration than any other one I've done for the newspaper. . . by far!

The day it ran, the editor-in-chief came over to the graphics department. He held up the illustration and he said, "Who did this?" I raised my hand. He looked at me, and I'm certain he was trying to remember if he had seen me before. He paused, opened his mouth to say something, hoping that my name would leap out, but he gave up. He gave me a thumbs-up, said "Good job!" and walked away. Whew. Felt great!

Then -- as now -- I mostly do fluffy art; charming, friendly, cartoony illustrations. I'm not complaining, but I saw this assignment as an opportunity to show that I could wipe the smile off of my face and draw something that doesn't tickle the hippocampus and then melt in the mind like cotton candy. It felt good to do something mean and ugly.

This is how it ran in the paper, cropped strangely at the ankles and on the side, but it looked good on the page that way. A headline ran across the top and the story settled in nicely on the right. I enjoyed doing it.

The End