Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Working For Monday!

That's right folks! The mystery project I alluded to in my previous post has been announced at San Diego Comic Con during Mark Waid's panel on Digital comics. In case you missed that event it is called 'Working for Monday.'

It is the story of a long suffering assistant to a super-villain who may just be trying to take him down from the inside! Lori Matsumoto is writing it (and helping me narrow down my designs to get just the right look.) It is really fun so far; I've thumb-nailed the first two installments. I love the story, the characters and the scenarios. It's going to be great! It will start coming out soon via thrillbent.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Nostalgia Cake!

My Fitness trainer Paul (yes I have one) asked if I could draw a design/scene for the top of a cake, to be served at he and his sister's shared birthday celebration. It didn't have to be fancy because it was going to be printed in edible frosting. He sent me a little rough sketch that featured a few golden oldies of the 80's which represented their shared childhood fun.

I did my best to elaborate on that sketch in the shortest possible time-frame; I used the same technique for the final image that I do for storyboarding which involves composting of carefully chosen imagery and then essentially tracing out only the right lines. It took about 4 hours to compose it, draw all the characters and color it. It was a ton of fun.

Friday, June 29, 2012

New (Semi-Secret) Project!

I'm working on a project for Thrillbent with Lori Matsumoto that will be announced more officially at San Diego Comic Con but I thought I might preview a bit of it here. I am designing characters based on real people so that I can draw it more like the Tragedy Series and use reference to speed up my process. I won't tell you too much about it now other than the fact that I'm excited about the story and the format where it will be published.

This is a series of haircut ideas for the main character based around an actress that she will resemble

This will be a butler/confidant character and I wanted to see if a different ethnicity (other than white) could work in the part but you run the risk of falling into stereotypes and I don't want to piss people off when I'm trying to be inclusive.

These were my first attempts at a main character, the villian and ideas for his mask. He isn't themed (like 'the scorpion' or something) so I wanted to keep it simple and iconic if possible. I want it to read really small- as a good tag.

I went a bit crazy with mask ideas but I kept seeing new ones in my head and I wanted Lori to have a bunch to choose from.

This is a design for the hero/nemesis of the bad-guy. I asked Lindsey what she would want to wear if she were going out to be a superhero and she said 'something supportive.' I thought that was an interesting place to start so I started with a full bodysuit and went from there. I kept thinking about that scene in 'The Incredibles'... "No capes"

If you are going to SDCC this year be sure to Check out Mark Waid's panel, on Thursday at 12:30 in room 24ABC, and tell me how it went. I'm working on a piece of promo art that should be featured on a big screen (I assume) at that panel.

This is taken off the SDCC website.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wedding In The Woods.

I am getting married! It is a funny transition to make in some ways because it isn't a huge shift in my sense of commitment or love for Lindsey (we have been together for almost 6 years) but it does make me feel more grown up for some reason. Lindsey asked me to doodle up a wedding invite to send out asap. We're getting married in a state park near where she grew up. The logistics are complicated, but since I am not a church-going man and she likes trees, the woods seemed like the best place to have our ceremony:

She wanted something more simplified and cartoon-like without being a cartoon. I think she was leaning towards a 'folk-art' type of illustration so I tried my hand at that using (ironically) photoshop so I could adjust the colors to match what she was looking at for inspiration. I like the foxes and I hope you do too.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chicago For A While

Lindsey and I went to visit our friend Michelle Alba in Chicago last week. It was great! We went to the Field Museum, The Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium where I took many photos of historic astrolabes, armillaries and orerries; if you read my web strip then you know I'm that sort of guy. I am also the sort of fellow who LOVES pancakes. There is no better place to get pancakes, in my opinion, than The Bongo Room. It is highly recommended; it make what most people call 'pancakes' unworthy of the name.

I fit in a few sketches. Otherwise we were having too much fun and absorbing the great sights and company offered only in the Windy City.

This sculpture, located in in Millennium Park, is officially titled 'cloud gate' but colloquially it is called 'The Bean.' there is a constant swarm of people around it because it is beautiful and irresistible. The construction of this fine object is really worth reading about.

This was a family eating at Giordano's Pizza. One of the kids was busily mashing buttons on his gaming system, the parents not acknowledging each other and the other two boys just stuffing their faces with famous stuffed pizza. It seems quintessentially American so I did what I could to capture it. I was drawing while enjoying my own stuffed pizza with green peppers and, a rare treat, a root beer; it was wonderful.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Spoils Of Stumptown

This year I got a last minute table at Stumptown Comicsfest. It was a good time overall but, my hasty preparation, throwing poor Lindsey into the deep end of assisting me on the show floor, a diet comprised almost exclusively of doughnuts and coffee, appearing in the comic art battle, the inconsistent traffic of day 2 combined with my exhaustion from work and being fresh off the energy of ECCC made for a near-breakdown by the end of the festival. I did make some nice commissions (mostly on day one) and here they are:

I make T-Rex red. Maybe it is a latent affection for devil dinosaur that I'm not paying attention to.

This was for a 'super-pets' themed sketchbook. I like the Green Lantern and I love cats; this produced Meow Jordan.

I think this might have been done on day 2. The theme of this sketchbook was batman villains. I always liked Killer Croc and Poison Ivy so I did a quick doodle of them both.

I had a hard time deciding on a pose and I don't know the Sandman characters very well but I get the impression it is a really enjoyable series. The people who like it show a rare devotion to the stories and the characters. I like drawing fish even though I'm not great at it.

Here is my darling Lindser and me posing in a rare moment of mental composure. I think she is a gem.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What's My Name?

A few weeks ago I did a bunch of live drawing for the Dove Lewis Animal Hospital blood-drive at the Lucky Lab. People would bring up their pooch and I'd do my best to get their likeness in the limited time that the noble creatures would hold still. A few of them were better at it than people. Most of the pet owners were very nice and appreciative. I would do it again. It helped me get used to the idea that not all dogs want to eat my face off.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The First Family Of Comics

I've done another hero initiative cover. I'm not sure when the auction will be but I'll be sure to let people know via twitter and Facebook once I find out. It is a great cause (one I might be in need of someday) and I love the opportunity to try for the most fun and dynamic image I can make as a physical art object:

I used gouache, ultradraw ink and prismacolor colored pencil for this image. I like the way Galactus turned out and, as Jeff Parker pointed out, it looks like Johnny Storm has decided that he has better things to do.

Here is a picture of me painting it before I cleaned up my area of the studio, hence the rumpled paper bag behind me.

This is the sketch I did. It may have been posted a while back but there are things I like about it more than the finished piece (in some ways) so I'm going to hold onto it for a while until someone wants to offer me mad cash!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I Practice All The Time

Many of my studio-mates are natural cartoonists in the sense that cartooning was the first drawing language that they fell in love with and subsequently made concerted efforts to master. I was always more interested in 'realistic' or observed drawing for the same bravado-laced reasons that many aspiring young (typically male) artists often have. I assumed that because cartooning involved fewer lines and a distortion of visual norms that it was easy; I have learned just how difficult it actually is to capture the heart of a gesture, expression or setting with the perfect line. I have, after being inspired by the brilliant work of my many cartooning fluent studio-mates and comic art heroes, set about the task of revisiting the fundamentals of both construction and cartooning.

One way that I practice is to focus on an area I have trouble with like hands, mouths, placement of features on a face, torsos, feet etc. I go through issues of comics drawn by artists I like and copy their solution as closely as possible. In this case I took an issue of avengers and mimicked as many Stuart Immonen mouths as I could for about 2 hours. I learned a ton. I don't use that sort of thing when I'm making my own drawings because that would be plagiarism; it is totally fine to do it as a practice exercise in the same sense as learning a great Eric Clapton solo when you're trying to master blues guitar. It is worth trying to step into the shoes of your hero and get things from their perspective.

Michael Hampton's book on structural drawing has become a favorite of mine and I'm going through it bit by bit and trying out all the systems that he has developed. I highly recommend it to any of you that are experiencing a similar internal or external prompting to reexamine your stylistic leanings and tendencies. I plan to fill this sketch book with practice drawings and get as good as those artists I admire so much while simultaneously avoiding clear imitation in my final work. I'm only a little way into the process and it has already been a huge boon to me.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Time Well Spent

I'm grateful to the very cool people who asked for the image below; I am glad I could make this for them. It was commissioned by a lovely couple that met in Seattle during the convention. They were great: they paid in advance, the got a pre-paid mailer and they brought reference. I also learned a valuable lesson from doing the piece so I can thank them for that too!

Before ECCC I had read Chris Samnee's guidelines for commission work and I was surprised that he wouldn't do likenesses or non-licensed characters and clearly lists 'some background' amongst his bullet points. I found it curious but I now understand why.

Once I finished the painting on this piece, on Tuesday, I knew it would be difficult to take on similar jobs in the future; It was a ton of fun but it took a crazy amount of time. It ended up being two full work days of trying to match likenesses, put together a pose that would work with the faces I found in the pictures they provided, nail down the complicated details of the characters costumes, work out appropriate full/divergent themed background worlds for each side and lay in the colors so that each side was balanced without competing excessively.

I now understand that I have to put constraints on my commissions (and on myself) from this point out or I'll end up taking precious time away from deadline-dependent projects. If I were to charge my normal commercial rates no one would want to pay; I want to make sure I can offer something people will enjoy without compromising my own financial and scheduling needs. Freelance work is full of these moments of learning and that is a good thing. I also think that the final image turned out pretty cool!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Commission Missions

I love being down at Periscope in the morning before anyone else gets here. My studio mates are dear to me but there is something fun about being in a 'bat cave' of my very own for a little bit. I suppose Batman would be drinking something a little less flowery than vanilla flavored coffee but that is probably the only difference between the two of us. On a different note, here are a few of my ECCC commissions:

Lindsey loves to play various Iphone games and surprisingly 'drawesome' is one of them. Every now and then she lets me play a round when there is something fun to do or she needs a break from her 1,000 app-game commitments. I love Zelda; I know Link is not Zelda but he is most closely associated with the game franchise (along with the triforce) so here you go:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Game Of Thrones Post 2

I've been enjoying the new season of G.O.T. so far and listening to the first book on tape, via audible, while I work. I had read the the first book in of 'a song of ice and fire' in 2010 and enjoyed it. When the show came out I was excited and pleased with how they adapted the first book; now I'm in the reverse position of seeing the second season without having read the second book. It's just the thrill I thought it would be; this time around I've been surprised.

I thought it might be a fun little exercise in speed to draw the whole main cast of the first season on sketch-cards. It has been choosing and mashing references up. In some cases I find a great image and just go for it but I like to fuse disparate sources to make something new when I can; add a head to a body, put in a background element, equip them with new weapons or armor etc.

I should mention that I'm taking pre-stumptown commission orders too. I'd like to be able to have a few done before the show because I almost wasn't able to fit in the list I had at ECCC. I don't want to leave anyone hanging so contact me ASAP if you're interested. I'll be working on my upcoming Oni project and book proposal for Tragedyseries/TCBW. I hope your weekend will be full of sun and icecream.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Emerald City 2012: The Crown Jewel Of Comic Cons

Visiting Seattle is always fun but it is a special pleasure when it's in conjunction with my work. The Emerald City Convention is a highlight of my year and this time was no exception; I met many fantastic people and more than a few of my heroes. Thursday night I finished making my commission sign with a giant sharpie that probably lowered my IQ by a few points via the fumes involved. Friday was fun and busy; lots of costumes, kids, new attendees and audible laughter in every direction.

These sketch cards are all for sale at 30.00 each. You can also request a custom set of your own 12 for 350.00

Saturday started with a visit to the Crumpet Shop at Pike Place Market where my friend David is the baker. The show floor was more of the same enthusiasm seen on Friday but with many many more people. The convention apparently broke attendance records; I didn't get to leave my table. This is a good thing because I got to do a bunch of fun commissions, sold some of the things I made (books, prints and charms) and met many of the wonderful people who read my comic. I was in a huge island with many of my dear periscope studio friends and the magnetism of their amazing abilities and charisma certainly helped bring over some new people. In fact, some people told me they were sent my way by specific studio members who are unfailingly generous and supportive of my efforts; Dylan, Jeff and Steve... I'm looking at you.

They measure 2.5 inches by 4 inches and are painted with watercolor on 90 lb Winsor newton watercolour paper.

Sunday was fast and frenzied with me catching up on commissions, giving away all of my business cards and rushing to the train station. I talked with the amazing Patrick Reynolds on the train ride back and cajoled my seat-mates into at-least 30 games of bananagrams. Lindsey came to get me and brought Ethiopian food. We were both super happy to see one another. She had intended to go but a death in the family prevented her traveling. Next year will be great for many reasons but chief among them will be that she will most likely come along.

I also take requestes for sets or singles of any and all characters at the rates noted above. Avengers, Game of Thrones, Parks and Recreation... you name it.

I learned that need a tall banner, a money box, a system for organizing prints and a published version of Tragedy Series. I'm fortunate to have a forthright readership and most all of those who came to say hello either asked when there would be or emphatically insisted that there should be a collection of the comics. I am going to do what I can to have that very thing around for next year. With stumptown coming up I've got another chance to practice my best 'I'm not giving you the hard-sell' Hello a few hundred more times.

Lastly, here are a few con-improving tips for those less-considerate attendees:

If you are seeking an autograph for your collectable book do the signee the courtesy of a cursory glance at their merch. A bit of genial conversational interchange never hurts either.

When people say a simple and friendly greeting to you it isn't necessarily preamble to a telemarketer-style spiel. you can say 'hi' back rather than just shuffling by with a facade of ambivalence or distain.

In the event that you find yourself enjoying an artist/creators' work to the point that you linger, when you clearly had no initial intention of doing so, and subsequently laugh out loud multiple times, it is an small but valued gesture of thanks for that bit of entertainment, to make eye-contact and acknowledge attempts at a dialogue. After all, they made the thing you were just digging; it didn't just happen and it's nice when people affirm that connection.

Show cartoonists that you value their work by offering something appropriately compensatory or by asking nicely for something small (if you want it free) when you approach them with your sketchbook or commission request. It is their livelihood and a skill set that all of them have been cultivating their entire lives. It is greatly appreciated when people express an understanding of that dynamic.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Rise Of The Apes And of The Charms

I just found out that I get to draw a 'Planet Of The Apes' story for Boom Studios! These sketches were what I submitted as a simple character test along with some of my sequential work. The extra-cool part is that I get to work with Jeff Parker again; he makes comics fun again and it's a huge honor to collaborate with him.

In other news I've received the first set of the 'Tragedy Series' charms which includes Sheriff Puppy and Snuggle Cub. They are roughly an inch and a half across and come with a jump ring and a lanyard and I'll make them available at Emerald City and soon thereafter on the etsy store

I hope those of you within driving distance of Seattle will come see me in section 222 this upcoming weekend; we can talk about comics, why everyone but me seems to dislike the awesome John Carter movie and anything else that strikes your fancy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I Only Have Flies For You

This cartoon was done for my dear friend Saskia who studies these little creatures so that we might understand cognition and visual reception better in the human brain. She is a great scientist and a wonderful person so I was all too willing to draw a doodle that she plans to use in her lectures. Hooray for Science and Hooray for Saskia!

She just sent me two awesome books in the mail as a surprise 'thank you' gift:

I thank her for her work and her friendship. I'd love being friends with real scientists and getting great book recommendations is enough of a reward let alone actual books! I'll be sure to tell tales of how freaked out I am by my enhanced understanding of our planet's parasites. I imagine that the book on games with be a welcome dessert for my brain.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Iron Throne Returns And So Do I.

Here are a few of my favorite characters from the show

I'm looking forward to the return of Game of Thrones. I had read the first book prior to knowing about the show but I find the series to be a great representation of the novel. I'll admit that the first 300 pages did not thrill me but it got awesome after that. I have my friend Wendy to thank for sharing the book and Lindsey to thank for watching the show with me. We are both excited to see the new season. I have not read the second book so it will all be new for me.

This sketch was done last night at my brother Zach's 27th birthday dinner at the Montage. I bought the 'old mac' classic mac and cheese. It's the best

I'm going to be in Seattle for the emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, Washington, at the end of this month (March 30th-April 1st.) and I'm taking early commission requests. I can do licensed characters, portraits,pinups and all the rest.

You can find me at booth 222 along with other members of Periscope Studio.

I’m offering discounted rates until the convention. Here are the specifics:

-Single figure Prices:

All images drawn on 8.5 X 11 Bristol board
40 for black and white inked.
45 for black and white inked with tone-wash (the style of Tragedy Series.)
80 for inked with full color (watercolor.)
I take payment though paypal or you can pay cash when you pick them up at the show!

Contact me at tragedyseries (at) or spiderbridge (at) if you would like to order a drawing or require more information.

See you at the show!