Saturday, August 2, 2014

Where Are You?

This is a panel from Objet d'Art, which I'm about a third of the way through. This panel is a reference to this: 

This was showcased in Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics and it was one of my earliest exposures to manga. It's from a comic called A Song of Wind and Trees by Keiko Takemiya, which I've never read. The character in this panel is actually a boy (in the manga version). 

Below is a cover I did for a magazine called Eat the Book which may or may not see the light of day

 And here's the black and white version.

In the past few months I've made some cartoonists friends- which is new for me.  I got to hang out with Josh Simmons who did, among other things, a book called The Furry Trap. I really like the painting he did for the cover.

And here's the first page to his story Cockbone.

I've also been hanging out with a cartoonist named Aubrey Harding. Here's a couple watercolor paintings from his website Bitches at the Zoo.


That's a childhood reference to a poorly dubbed version of Aliens I saw on TV as a kid.
"Maybe you haven't been keeping up on current events but we just got our BUTTS! kicked pal!"

My oldest comics pal is Dustin Weaver, who's on fire right now writing and drawing his own comics. There's  his ongoing serial Amnia Cycle- an improv sci-fi comic in the tradition of The Airtight Garage.

One of my personal pleasures in seeing this comic unfold is how Dustin works in concepts that have been floating in his imagination for years. My favorite sequence so far is Tara's discovery of the dual planet system Dasra and Nasatia.

Dustin actually came up with this idea way back in high school. I've lifted the idea from him myself- it's such a cool concept. The name of the planets came from a story concept we worked on together years ago.

I think it's important for artists to day-dream and have a backlog of ideas, regardless of whether or not you plan to use them. You never know when they'll come in handy. This is a beautiful example of that.

Dustin's got another side comic going called Sagittarius A*

That weird critter in the last panel comes from a goofy religion Dustin and I came up with called Whuddism. You might call the creature in that last panel a manifestation of Whudda.

There are many manifestations of Whudda throughout folklore and pop culture. One of the earliest examples would be Hanuman- the ancient Hindu god.

Related to Hanuman would be Son Goku- the Monkey king, a Taoist figure from the Chinese novel Journey to the West.

Probably the closest relative to Whudda would be Glomer, the magical sidekick from the Punky Brewster animated series. In the Whuddist religion Glomer is Whudda's chief angel.

Praise be to Whudda and his angel Glomer.

There's even a manifestation of Whudda in the Transformers cartoon- Primacron- the creator of the monster planet Unicron.

And as embarrassing as it is to post an image from Southpark , that show's conception of God is very much in line with the Whuddist tradition.

In closing I would like to say a few words from the Book of Ron:

You can hold Church in a Rocket
But you can't hold your Rocket in Church

That is all.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Here in the jungle life of the city...LOVE

Hello people of Earth. I am alive and well and living on your planet. Those of you who follow my work know that it takes the lifespan of a Galapagos turtle for me to complete a comic. I thank you for your patience. Soon you will be rewarded for your efforts. You'll get what's coming to you. All that you have earned...

(Sound of a gunshot equipped with a silencer)

No... I'd never do that to you. We're friends, aren't we? You trust me, don't you?

Here's what I guess you'd call a teaser for my next comic.

These are actually tiny, microscopic panels from my comic. These days I'm drawing things on a microscopic scale in the vain hope that it'll speed up my process (it hasn't). Actually, I'm just trying to squeeze every last drop out of every page. Actually, it's just a compulsive thing I do. Actually, my drawing is just getting more and more anal in my old age.


Here's a couple comic covers  by Jack Kirby that I like that are an influence on this story. Especially the woman in the white rabbit outfit.

A book came out last year that I'd been wanting to get my mitts on since my tender teen years: The Adventures of Jodelle by Guy Peelaert. It did not disappoint- an essential book for comics lovers. The book includes examples of his other comics work. Here's a page I really love.

Peelaert is tied to so many cool pop cultural things. The book introduced me to France Gall, who I've been listening to compulsively.

Some of my favorite tracks of hers are Cet air-la, Musique, Der Computer No 3, and Laisse tomber les filles which April March covered as Chick Habit and played at the end of Tarantino's highly underrated Death Proof.

Another book that came out last year was The Strange Tale of Panorama Island by Suehiro Maruo, who's long been one of my favorite manga artists.

Panorama Island seems to be his most sophisticated work yet. The book is loaded with beautiful details that reward the astute reader.

Here's a mysterious and seemingly benign splash panel of an empty room with a vase.

Later on in the story we see this room again and if you look closely you'll notice that the vase has changed.

Panorama Island tells the story of a struggling mangaka who kills his rich look-alike and takes over his life. The change in vase is such a sophisticated and subtle way of showing this to the reader, and an incredibly subtle payoff to the earlier panel. This is the level of minute detail that I strive for in my own work. 

Of course, it's extreme imagery that Maruo is most known for. His earlier book Mr. Arashi's Amazing Freak Show is easily one of my all-time favorite manga. Although it's filled with his trademark extreme imagery, it's the sequence of a man sneezing twice that I found most disturbing.  Here's a couple pages from that book.

I was also reading some of Tatsuo Yoshida's Speed Racer. Here's the cover by Mitch O'Connell.

And here's a sequence of Speed being a badass with a rifle.

Also, I thought I'd share these G.I. Joe pages by an artist named Paul Kirchner. It's almost what G.I. Joe might look like if it was drawn by Tim Hensley.

Kirchner's an interesting artist. He's got a very clean Wally Woodesque style that I like a lot. He did a crime graphic novel back in the 80's called Murder By Remote Control- which is something of an anomaly for its time. It's an interesting book.

The Comics Journal recently did an interview with him.

Anyways, I think that's all I'm gonna' share for the time being. I'll try not to wait too long before I check in again.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

UNREAL CITY (the comic strip)

A couple years ago I did a very short lived strip (five installments) for Seattle's Stranger newspaper. Here's the first installment:

Having the opportunity to do a regular strip for the local newspaper would have been a dream come true for a lot of cartoonists... but it wasn't for me. I think when I got the offer I cried myself to sleep wondering what the hell I was going to do. I woke up the next morning with the idea of a contract killer who kills the wrong guy. Out of remorse he tries to protect the guy's sister- who wants nothing to do with him. It seemed like a really mainstream idea- something I would write for someone else. But I needed an idea for a strip so I went with it.
I had done a strip before called Snar-fled, a throw-away Garfield parody. I knew this strip would end up taking all of my time so I wanted to do something that felt substantial- something like Twin Peaks the comic strip. I had this ambitious idea of turning Seattle into a bizarre city that was like a glitched video game. It would be a continuing story where each installment would feel like a non-sequitur. Suffice it to say, the strip did not work out. What I should have done was stick to something simple and throw-way, but I've never learned how to do that type of comic.
The writing on this comic feels forced to me and not terribly good. The problem was that I wasn't trying to be a comic strip artist, which is it's own discipline all together. It's very difficult to get something satisfying across in just four beats. A full page is more my rhythm. It's the rhythm I've learned from years of reading comic books. I pulled the plug after just five installments. Still, there were some decent ideas floating around in there that I'm sure I'll end up using (and have already used) for other things. One of those things is the title: Unreal City, which I'm using for my current project.
Anyways, here are those other strips, warts and all.
 I wanted the main character, Elroy Bass, to have an unlikely design. Something in the spirit of Elliot Gould's version of Phillip Marlowe in The Long Goodbye, or like how Moebius used this curly red-haired Donald Sutherland-looking guy for Missippi River. Elroy Bass also shows up in my story Echoes into Eternity.
Elroy's sidekick was a gay Scandinavian driver from Ballard named Bjorn Bonde. He would be Watson to Elroy's Holmes, and like Watson the story would be narrated from Bjorn's point of view. One crazy idea I had was that Bjorn was narrating the story from some bizarre state of limbo somewhere in the future.
The villain was a bizarre character in the Dick Tracy tradition. The Man Who Walks Backwards.

And speaking of Twin Peaks (David Lynch's influence on my stuff is pretty obvious), my roommates took me to the REAL Twin Peaks for my birthday this last May. The perspective on the first picture is distorted to accommodate the Café sign.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Naked Ladies And So Forth

Hello ladies and gentlemen.

Here's a page from a two-page comic I did for Robin Bougie's  Cinema Sewer book 4.

The book ships next month. You can order it here:

It's sports a pretty sweet cover by Vince Ruarus.

Here's his website:

Quite some time back I drew a couple other comics for Cinema Sewer. One was about a guy who spent his time debunking nude photos of celebrities on the internet. Here's a couple pages from that.

The mug Gillian Anderson is holding makes regular appearances in my comics. The script had originally called for 'Trixy' to be some doofy guy living in his basement. I felt like such a person was too obvious a target- we already had Ed- and that it'd be funnier to make his nemesis a swanky Hugh Hefner type guy.
Here's another one I drew about porno westerns.

When it comes to my comics (anything I draw really) I'm a stickler for research. I'd never seen any of these films - never rented a porno movie. My ex and I went into nearly every sleazy establishment in Seattle trying to hunt these things down. These places were unbelievable. One place was just a guy in a room in a shitty building with stacks and stacks of porno movies and magazines on the floor. Another place was like a video store from my childhood- all those giant colorful boxes- except they were pornos instead of cartoons. I always thought it was weird that cartoons and porno movies had similar video boxes. There must be some reason for that. That place didn't have the films I was looking for but I did manage to walk out with a copy of Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs. Weird huh? And the smell of those places... They smelled like urine and masturbation.

I only found a few of the movies and the ones I saw were pretty god-awful. I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to watch  something like The Winter of 1849 for any reason whatsoever. Although I did get a kick out of drawing these worthless things with extra-loving care and precision. The older films were better. Russ Meyer's film was far and away the best, although it was a pretty crappy Russ Meyer film. In terms of craftsmanship, however, I will say that that movie is a textbook lesson in minimalistic storytelling. Almost the entire thing is told with close-ups and sound effects. It's worth checking out for that reason alone.

At the time I drew these things I hadn't yet drawn what I would consider a " really good" comic and  I was hungry to make a masterpiece so I poured everything I had into these comics. As a result they were a little overblown for the material they offered. For example, there was really no reason to have a panel dedicated to "The End" of Ride 'Em Cowgirl. I just thought it was a fitting image to close things with.


Seattle's been treating me good. When you're a pop culture junkie who gets around on a bicycle and you've been living in the woods for a while- you appreciate the perks of an urban environment.