Monday, December 29, 2008

Production Art


This is some art I did for William Mead's upcoming website. I'll post more when the site is up.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Some Recent Class Notes


3 week winter break! Take some time to relax. We'll resume our learning in January.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Influence

Let me tell you about Jeff Kinney. 1) His first name is really great. 2) He's currently writing and drawing the bestselling, every kid has to read, makes you laugh-out-loud book series Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

If you haven't read these books yet, I can understand. You may have felt some hesitation. Maybe you thought to yourself, "I'm an adult. Could something as simple as a child's book really entertain me?" YES! Yes it can! And if you haven't even heard of this book consider yourself out of touch.

Every child I work with, and know, has read this book. Mostly likely several times. There's a reason it's in such high demand. It's brilliant! The story is about Greg Heffley, who one day gets a diary (or as he prefers journal) one day from his mom and decides to give it a try. He goes on to document his daily life with his bully brother, nerdy friend (Rowley), adventures at school (like chasing kids with a worm on a stick) and all the stuff he's forced to do instead of playing video games. As it turns out Greg isn't really a wimp. He's kind of a jerk.

The books have me laughing out loud very frequently, mostly because Greg is so oblivious to the consequences of his actions, and often times terrible things happen to him. Yet he perseveres.

The books are also great tools for introducing reluctant readers to the world of books, since the story is told both through words and short comics. It's a fairly easy read, with plenty of breaks for the weary mind. This is a typical page in a Wimpy Kid book:

For me, Kinney's art is wonderfully simple. As you can see from the samples I've posted, his art is basic shapes and design. He doesn't bog the story down with unneeded detail, and it works to make you laugh even harder. He is also an inspiration since he began running Wimpy Kid on the website Funbrain.com and was able to turn it into a betselling book within 6 years of developing the concept.

Please, do yourself a favor and read these books. We all need to smile and laugh and these books are a great way to get that started.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Some Old Work Notes


When I need to concentrate really hard, especially on the phone, I have to keep myself occupied. When I'm on a wireless phone I can pace. When I'm grounded I have to draw. I found this work note in a stack of papers that have been on my desk at work for 3 years.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Some Recent Class Notes



One more week and my internships are complete. One more semester and my Master's Degree is complete. What will you people do for an education after that?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Alter Ego #51

Influence

The work of Syd Hoff continues my articles on my artistic influences.

Children's books have played a big role in my life. Beginning with my mom reading stories to me when I was young, to learning to read, to going through my undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, to my job now working with children, and continuing with the anticipation of my own child's birth in May, I have never lost my enthusiasm and excitement for a really good kid's book. They're fun to read, and the art is often top notch.

Syd Hoff made a career out of teaching kids how to read through the 60+ volumes in the HarperCollins "I Can Read" series for beginning readers beginning in the '50s. These books stand out in my mind as some of my favorites when I was young. Most likely because they featured talking animals, or cavemen, or dinosaurs, or other characters I found of interest (and still do.)

Hoff's art is so amazing in its simplicity. With only a few lines he is able to convey so much. I also enjoy how fluid his art is, with almost no harsh or jagged lines. You can almost see his brush moving across the page. All of this works together to create a very clean, happy and energetic page. You can't help but smile when you read a book by Syd.

Hoff was also a cartoonist for The New Yorker, who published his work when he was only 18. Hoff worked in the single panel structure, and as you can see in the two panels I have posted below (which feature no captions here), his art can say so much even without words. As mentioned I do not have the captions to go along with these panels, but I highly recommend you visit Syd Hoff's site, which features these panels as well as many more. You can also learn quiet a bit more about the man who helped so many kids learn to read.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Some Recent Class Notes


Is it apparent that my mind wanders in class?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Get Out and Vote!



This amazing smear campaign urging us all to vote Smarrots was brought to you by the incorrigable Phillip Ginn.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Influence

Since I'm currently in the most labor-intensive semester of my Master's degree (1 week = 40 hours work, 10+ hours interning at elementary school, 16 hours on weekends at hospital's psych unit) I haven't found much time to work on My Alter Ego. The ending to the Skomolii saga is coming, just probably not until mid-December. So I thought I would take a small break and instead post some semi-regular articles on my artistic influences.

Let's begin with the great Charles M. Schulz.



Schulz's big break was a small comic strip called Peanuts. Beginning in 1950 and running until 2000, the strip explored the isolation, depression, and just plain mean spirit of childhood. Schulz, himself, has said the strip was about unrequited love. Charlie Brown could never speak to the little red head girl, Schroeder would never return Lucy's affection, and the kid's baseball team could never win a game. If these things were to happen, the strip would no longer be funny.

Schulz may have been the hardest working cartoonist. He never took a day off in 50 years of drawing the comic strip, excepting in 1999 when he was placed in the hospital after being diagnosed with colon cancer. Shortly after receiving treatment Schulz was back at the drawing table, however, with a shakier drawing hand. In the end the comic strip would outlive its creator by one day. A symbolic ending for a man who loved what he did, and dedicated his life to perfecting his art.

A wonderful autobiography, Schulz and Peanuts, came out last year. I recommend it for anyone interested in reading more about Schulz's life and his own battle with depression. Fantagraphics is also reprinting all of the old Peanuts strips into really great box sets. In my opinion, nobody is able to draw the innocence of childhood as honestly and accurately as Schulz.

Having dealt with a great deal of anxiety and isolation in my own youth I connect with Schulz's comic on a personal level. Charlie Brown makes me feel not so alone. So much so that he's been tattooed on my right calf. I've also said that K10 and I are what would have happened if Charlie Brown and Lucy Van Pelt grew up and got married.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Alter Ego #49 and 1/2



My good pal, Brian Spath, was very interested in entering the Your Alter Ego Contest. However, he seemed to hit a creative block. So tonight through text messaging and email we worked simultaneously to each complete an Alter Ego Comic within a given time period. This is the strip I created. Brian's will be seen when I post the entries.

There's still time for you to enter the contest. Click the link above for contest rules and details. Deadline is before My Alter Ego #50.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

J-Stew!



Justin Stewart is such a nice guy. He's so considerate he even thought to include Dr.Cheese's wife, Maurice, in this pin-up. Doesn't she look beautiful?

Justin's page in the Traveling Comic is also available for viewing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Crabmolii



The murderous vegetable looks even more dangerous in this pin-up by Matt Leong.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Your Alter Ego Contest


My Alter Ego is quickly nearing #50, which means the Your Alter Ego Contest deadline is also nearing. You don't need anything more than a piece of paper and a pen (or pencil.) The rules are also very simple:

1. Draw a square:

2. Put something in it:

3. Draw another square, next to the first one:

4. Put something in that square:

5. Repeat these steps until you have a complete comic story.
6. Full rules can be found at the original Your Alter Ego Contest post from May.

So get to drawing! I could be drawing My Alter Ego #50 any day now! Hurry!

The Traveling Comic

Page 2 of The Traveling Comic is now available for viewing.

Flooded

Well, it looks like I won't be going anywhere today.

K10 and I had packed up Buddy and Sinatra, two of our cats, for their yearly check up at the vet. When we got to the bottom of our complex's drive we saw this:


It may be important to give a St.Louis geography lesson at this point. K10 and I live next to The River Des Peres, a small river that functions as a sewer drain. Glamorous. The "River" is primarily dry year round, except during the rainy season when it takes on the waters from surrounding rivers to prevent flooding. Again, "river" may be questionable.So it was surprising to find, this morning that our street was flooded, but the river remained mostly dry.

Some idiot thought he could make it through.

Open for buisness?


Part of me expected the atmoshpere among the tenents in our complex to turn into The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street from The Twilight Zone.

Oh well, we had planned on a lazy Sunday anyway.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

All Hail!



This is the second pin-up in a series of Skomolii related art. This beautiful rendition is by Jim Lujan.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Up In My Grill



This is a pin-up I did for Jim Lujan of his character Rage Dogg . Jim is an accomplished cartoonist, who has appeared in many places including Spike and Mike's Twisted Animated Theatre.

Jim is a good friend, and I was more then happy when he requested I draw Rage Dogg for him, since Rage appears in my favorite cartoon by Jim.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Some Recent Class Notes

Medium: Bic pen in Mead notebook

This one got kind of weird kind of fast.

Idaho Avenue Film Festival



Come on out to the Idaho Avenue Film Festival, in South City this Saturday night. The event is hosted by Brian Spath and is a great way to see local film makers' work. Brian is screening a few films I had a part in creating.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Traveling Comic

A project I had started a few years ago, The Traveling Comic, where I mailed a sketchbook around the contry having artists contribute one page at a time to the storyline, is now online. You can visit it here, and learn how you can be a part.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Whatmolii?

It appears I've caused a sizeable amount of confusion with My Alter Ego #47 (because everything else has made sense until now?). I can see where I went wrong. This is a classic case of trying to fit too much story into too little of a space. Really I should have stretched the concept out to 2 comics instead of just the one, but I want to wrap Skomolii up by #50...so you got the train wreck of #47.

Skomolii has been an interesting experiment in storytelling using the rules of My Alter Ego. Literally I had no idea this whole thing would end with a kid named Saltines, nor did I even know Skomolii was going to kill children. In the case of #47 what happened was I knew what event I wanted to have happen (Dr.Cheese and Saltines meet.) I also knew I wanted to reuse some of the themes that have been recurring throughout the whole story, like a Dr.Cheese location that is labeled as "secret" in downtown St.Louis. It's fun to draw that panel, including new things each time. I also knew I wanted to include the Army's plan for conquest over Skomolii, which involves Saltines. However, what often happens with a My Alter Ego comic is there just isn't the room you think you're going to have. A good example of this is the very short note pinned to Saltines, that note could have said so much more, and possibly not created confusion.

THE EXPLANATION!
The Army has sent Saltines to Dr.Cheese's secret hideout with the proposal that Saltines stay the night, if he is alive by morning then Dr.Cheese must hand over the antidote for Skomolii, if he dies then he is free to continue farming Skomolii. The Army is assuming that Dr.Cheese will assume Saltines has already eaten Skomolii, therefore if he does not feed Saltines Skomolii then he will explode, throw up his own skeleton, melt, have kittens burst out from his stomach (My Alter Ego #46) and etc. The form of death must be Skomolii.