Day off?

July 29, 2009

Sort of.

The only time I really have off is when I’m in-between books waiting for approval on thumbnails. Lately I’ve decided to use this time to remind myself of why I like living in DC. Biggest reason? Free galleries! The National Gallery, the American Indian museum (trust me don’t call them and refer to it as the Native American museum- they hate that!), Freer/Sackler, and others.  I love to go down there and do drawings based on the paintings in black and white on a neutral colored paper, usually craft/brown paper. It’s never about reproducing the images, but more about looking at the paintings/art with a detailed eye. Trying to figure out what they did and WHY they did it. Right now there is a Judith Leyster exhibit at the National, which was fun for me. For some reason this style really compliments the Flemish painters and Impressionists – go figure. No more talk… enjoy.

Judith Leyster- Flute player – Original


My version… I made his face too thin, but whaddah you want for 30 minutes?


A Franz Hals- but of course.


My pathetic attempt… needed to puff up his eyes more. Or he needs a trip to Sephora?

After_Franz Hals

A Thomas Eakins…


I never got the face right. Damn kids today.


Lastly, this was done from Rodin terra cotta study, so this was a bit more difficult. Especially since it was in a square case with the corner being exactly in the middle of the face because of the angle I chose.

Not the same angle…


But I tried!


Those pouty darn lips drove me nuts- well that and the Indian couple who kept hovering while I was trying to draw! Grrrrr- tourists!


July 25, 2009

Not long ago, the wife and I went on a much needed, but late arriving, vacation to the land of merry ole England. Part biz, part pleasure, we had the joy of hanging out with the awesome editorial staff at Titan Books. The team of Steve, Andrew, Den & Phillipa, Ellie, and Rona made us feel welcome, and like part of the family. So much so, that Ned and his wonderful wife to be Carly, invited us to their engagement party! What little I remember, after all the strong beers, was that I had a great time. One of the things that I always pictured as being part of pub life was free flowing bags of chips, or crisps as the Brits call them.

Now we’re no strangers to strange flavors or odd concept snack foods in the States… hell we gave the world Twinkies and Slim Jims (crimes against nature), but the Brits are willing to put damn near any taste on a fried bit of potato and call it a snack. In preparation for our trip, we did a little research. The wife and I had our own priorities- hers being shopping for clothes, mine was tracking down various comic shops and art stores. In our quest, however, we discovered that recently Walker crisps had set up a contest to help decide some new flavors for their line of chips. Now keep in mind they already have tasty treats like Prawn Cocktail, Cheese & Onion, Beef & Onion, Pickled Onion (man they love onion), Roasted Chicken,  Marmite, and even Worcester. However, that wasn’t enough- no they needed a contest to come up with something that had a wider appeal to increase sales; hence their recent contest of “Do us a Flavour!” (Brilliant title though isn’t it?) They set up a competition for fans to send in flavor suggestions, which the top few would be produced for a limited time, and the winner would then become a standard option. So what do they offer? For consideration they selected great British culinary standards like…

Fish n Chips – fair enough- it is what most Americans think of first

Builders Breakfast- sounds like a Willie Wonka concoction- now I taste green peas!

Chili n Chocolate – ok- I can see the idea being like jalepeño in hot chocolate

Onion Bhaji- sure, I know there are a lot of people of east Indian decent in the UK

Crispy Duck-  again, I know Britain held Hong Kong for @ 100 years, so ok

But the last was one I couldn’t quite get… so while in England we hit every Marks & Spencer around until we found what we were looking for.


No seriously- it was one of the options.  I additionally like an appeal for a vote from a squirrel who looks like he’s either in prison, or in the head lights of an on coming car.


I’m not sure what flavors the US sister company of Walker (Lays chips) would come up with for a similar stunt?

Ballpark Franks?

Biscuits n Saw Mill Gravy?

Chips & Salsa?

But Heaven help us if some “neck” were to suggest “O’Possum” flavor! Do we need that? I hope not, as if pork skins aren’t nasty enough.

One thing I have to give the Brits though- they don’t mince words. I noticed that they don’t put a small Surgeon General’s warning on cigarette packs over there. No, they have a huge billboard across the box practically saying “you smoke this and you’ll die!”, so why should their snack food be any different. They don’t have confusing nutritional boxes on the back of the bag with tiny numbers, uh-uh- it’s a slapped right on the front with big, eye grabbing graphics that remind you what a lard-butt you’re going to be after chomping down your bag of grease, infused goodies.


If the flavor didn’t deter you enough, maybe this will. With American obesity at critical levels, perhaps this is the best option. I say we let people eat junk food to their hearts content (or detriment), but remind them with big intimidating type about their poor choice. Then, to increase the odds, lets only offer flavors that a even a starving raccoon wouldn’t eat. Hmmmm… Raccoon?

GI Joe Lucky 7

July 24, 2009

Well this weekend is San Diego Comic Con, although there are those among us who say it’s time for them to drop the “comic” bit since the show is almost anything but comics. That’s a whole other discussion.

For me though this is the week that the first issue of my run on the regular Joe series hits the stands. With issue 07 I take over the drawing chores from Robert Atkins, but don’t worry, he’ll be back with issue 13.

One thing some of the fans have been asking for, is a more realistic approach to military equipment and environments. So I decided that would be my focus, as opposed to other artists who’ve worked a more sci-fi angle on their art. I tried to keep the technology more recognizable, being no more than 10 years ahead of its time, when I can. A lot of what you’ll see my issues will have a look and/or feel similar to that of concept cars at an auto show, the neat gadget designs you might find in “Wired” magazine, or on the “Future Weapons” TV show. I wanted it to feel grounded in reality, but still hi-tech. I don’t want the equipment to be so fantastic to the reader that it feels it’s happening on a parallel world or something. I always want there to be a hint of “it could exist”,  so I tried to set that tone early on. At the start Cover Girl is in transport to the Joe base, I took the opportunity to really set in motion the idea that these guys are part of our current military, top secret, but still part of it. To do that, the basic stuff had to be more realistic, so this page shows equipment most people can recognize. It includes things we see on the news from our war zones, with Hummer trucks, and Black Hawk copters, to basic uniforms and huts.

Gi Joe 07 pg 04

With that set up, I have a platform to establish more advanced technology for the Joes, but I didn’t want to take it too far. As in this scene with a slightly redesigned Shipwreck, we see his small transport submarine. My design for it is really an amalgam of several concept subs I found while doing research, with a bit of artistic license taken to give it a “shark” like appearance. I was so happy to find it wasn’t colored in yellow when it came back.

GI Joe 07 pg 10

Lastly, I wanted the characters to be individuals, not just while in costume, but also in their posture, manners, and physical traits. One thing I always related to about Snake Eyes was the “outsider” feelings he seemed to have. Never fitting in with the group, and never to be loved because of how he looks under the mask. When Mr. Dixon wrote this scene I really wanted the audience to feel what Snake Eyes was, especially how the last line of text hurt more than any of the scars on his body. To him it shouldn’t just be a simple sign off, but a slap in the face, which we can see in his eyes reflected in the polished glass of his phone. In that, we see he knows, what we know – it’ll never happen.

GI Joe 07_pg16

Hope everyone enjoys my take on the Joes, some have already pointed out that it’s a different feel than normally found on the book. Don’t know if that’s good or bad, but if you don’t like it, hang in there. Robert will be bringing his wicked art back to the show with issue 13. If you do like it, then hot damn!

I’ve had to do some traveling lately, and the one constant seems to be that the worst artists in the world usually get the job of illustrating all those airline safety leaflets. Honestly, it looks like the people they find to do these things are the same guys that do logos for $99 or something. I know most of these are done with Adobe’s Illustrator, but is that really an excuse for making the people in the images look like freaks of nature? Think of how often we’re told on flights to assist the child next to us with their oxygen mask only after placing on our own. That makes sense, but why does this airline really assume that “little people” need the same attention?


All he’s missing is a stogie and a spank mag.

 I understand (as anyone who has ever flown does) that a seat cushions can be used as a floatation device, but it always impresses me how artists interpret the potential reactions of travelers who might face this situation. For example, there are those who might immediately come to terms with their doomed fate, like this version of “Ophelia: world trekker”.


She’s has such a strong sense of melancholy.

But this lady isn’t so pleased, oh she’s not angry or scared, just annoyed that she won’t make her connecting flight. 

Suck_RaftYou can almost hear her saying “ƒ√¢-®s”

Sometimes, when you have a non-african artist do illustrations of black people, you’ll get some weird renditions of them. This is particularly frequent in Japanese anime, as seen in this prime example, Afro-Samurai.


Or as in this illustration, where the man isn’t so much black, as he is a Golem.

What’s wrong with his arms? 



The nice thing about these leaflets though is that the images are so generic that it gives artists who haven’t worked in years, or kept up with trends, a chance to get some work. I mean, when was the last time the Ron Jeremy look was in? OK, maybe the porn-stash IS coming back into vogue. 


Keeping the whole porn connection in mind though, why do we have to include all fetishes? I mean, who came up with “plane-bondage”? Do we really need to see this sort of testicular abuse in a safety pamphlet?



I love the look of pain in his face.

Considering all the horrible things that can happen to a traveler while on an aircraft, perhaps downplaying the event is a good thing. I mean why not point out the real concerns in life… like how all that drama can ruin your hair. 


When life hands you lemons, make an airline safety leaflet.