Monday, August 13, 2012

Goggly Gogol? Johnny Zhivago? The Heaven Seventeen?

Hi hi hi there. Here is a fashionable femme fatale wot I drew.

And here's a couple drawings I did for Claire Donner, an all-around pillar of the community. Those few (but distinguished) readers of this blog are directed to check out donnerpartyofone. I recommend perusing her POISONAL pics and story time videos.

I'm working on a new story with a more cartoony style so I've been looking into the work of artists who draw in that mode. My default drawing style is more realistic- cartoon drawing for me is sort of an affect-I sort of bounce between the two. Cartoon stylization does allow more freedom in terms of proportion and it's fun to do.

Kali Fontecchio is a young up-and-coming artist working in a cartoon style very similar to John K.

I've always thought of John K's work as very "guy" so it's interesting to see that aesthetic filtered from a female perspective. Here's her character- Maude Macher and a page from the Maude comic.

Also- check out this sweet Mark Mothersbaugh piece she did.
You can find more on her blog- Old Men With Kazoos and Beating Drums

Bill Williams is one of my favorite cartoon stylists. He drew a comic called Henry Aldrich but my favorite comics of his are the ones he did with John Stanley- Dunc and Loo and Kookie- a wonderful, wonderful comic that takes place in a 50's beatnik setting.

I also really like this Dennis the Menace in Mexico comic drawn by Al Wiseman.
I love the combination of cartoon stylization along with a realistic and detailed setting. This book gives you a tour of Mexico that is on par with Herge's Tin Tin books.

And speaking of Tin Tin...

Here's a really incredible french album I picked up at the thrift store the other day called Yoko Tsuno by Roger Leloup who used to be an assistant to Herge on Tin Tin.

The artwork in this comic is just impeccable. Check it out.

On Tin Tin, Leloup's work can be seen in The Calculus Affair and he also designed the Carreidas in Flight 714.

All the hubbub surrounding the new Bat flick (which personally isn't really my cup of tea) had me going back and looking at the Batman books I grew up with- The Dark Knight Returns, The Killing Joke and Year One- all classics worthy of their reputation. But another Bat book that I think belongs right up there with the others is Mad Love by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm.
The Batman cartoon from the 90's is arguably the definitive version of Batman and this has everything that made the cartoon great but it's a hair more adult. It's lighter in tone than those other Bat books but I think it's every bit as sophisticated and a really great story about a dysfunctional relationship. Here's a page.

And to wrap things up, here's some really wonderful cartoon urban artwork by M Sasek.

There's been a mother moose with a couple babies hanging out in my back yard lately. A moose with her children can be potentially dangerous but if you're not a dumb-ass and don't fuck with them there's no problem. It's been nice cooking on my back porch while these huge moose are munching away right next to me. It kinda' makes me feel at peace with the universe or something...we'll see how long that lasts...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


         Here's something I was drawing that started reminding me of an old story concept of mine called Kismet- so I added a title panel. I've been dying to draw that logo for a while now. The original story was about the converging fates of four characters and it had a sci-fi Bollywood setting.

        I FINALLY wrapped up a comic I've been working on for the past six months. I'm still trying to figure how to not make it take so long. I've noticed a pattern when it comes to doing comic stories. Before a story comes along you've kind of got the blues. You wonder if you have any creative juice left and if you'll be able to top what you've done before. You go down a few creative dead-ends and then BAM! Inspiration hits! You start making these crazy neural connections and suddenly you're able to articulate that thing that's been on your mind. This is the big high point- what it's all about. Everything that follows ripples off of this moment. If you're not bouncing off the walls with excitement at this stage then there's no point in going any further- you'll have a shitty comic. Now for me- that initial excitement gets me maybe about a few pages deep and then I start worrying. From then on it's an emotional roller coaster ride. I don't think there's been a single comic I've worked on where there wasn't a period of complete hopelessness and despair. That kicked in big time about halfway through this last comic. That feeling that you're no good as an artist and you're wasting your life away behind the drawing table. For me a lot of the despair comes from being one of the slowest cartoonists on planet earth. But then finally you find yourself inking in those last two words: THE END. I love those two words. I just like the way they look on the page. But this moment you've been waiting for is always anti-climactic. There's no applause or fanfare and nothing in your life has really changed. Then maybe a week later it sinks in that you're done and you finally have a feeling of accomplishment. Even if your comic DID suck, even if it took forever to draw, just being done makes it feel like you accomplished something. All that former self doubt is wiped away...for a second. Then you want to get right back on that roller coaster- and you better do it quick! Otherwise you're really in trouble!

        Here's a cover my pal Dustin Weaver drew for Astonishing X-Men #52.
           If you look in the background you'll see a clock based on an old comic strip character I did called Snar-fled. Sometime in the near future I'll do a Snar-fled post. Now, besides the Snar-fled tribute there are a number of things I really like about this cover. The thing that impresses me the most is that it has a subtle emotional quality even though there's nothing dramatic happening. You see it subtly in the posture and the expression and in the banal treatment of her cybernetic limb. It's treated like what it is- a prosthetic- not something that gives you super strength and speed. But even with these little details- how are we getting that feeling of emotion? It's because Dustin thought a lot about the character- he detected something tragic about her and he sympathized with her and so that feeling informs everything that he put into the drawing. This is what separates a drawing that is technically proficient from a drawing that you can emotionally connect with. You have to think about the character!
         Jaime Hernandez is the master of this method. Here's an example from Hernandez Satyricon.
           First you've got Hopey. Trouble with a capital T. She's naked, she's got her hair and her tongue sticking out and she's antagonizing Maggie with that water bottle. Just that little detail and we get a sense of their relationship. And you can tell she's a little horndog. Sure, we all love Hopey, but imagine dealing with her in real life? She'd be intollerable! Next you've got Daffy, the perpetual third wheel. You know she's wishing they'd just hurry up so she can get to the club already. The way she's leaning on her elbow- she's got her jacket on, her fishnet stockings, a key dangling from her hand and her purse at her side. She's ready to go! And you know that by the time they get there the show will probably be over and they'll get mixed up in some unrelated adventure.  And poor Maggie, you can tell exactly what she's thinking: this hair is hopeless, I'm hopeless, and everyone will just be staring at my fat butt. But on the surface there's nothing overtly dramatic happening in this illustration. All these personal details subtly work together to create a snapshot of reality. It's because Jaime knows his characters inside and out.

          Here's another L&R illustration out of Hernandez Satyricon starring Cheetah Torpeda and Rocky and Fumble. I just included it because I'm such a robot fan.

Here's a cover by Dan Clowes, another artist to whom I am largely indebted.
            This was drawn during what I would call Clowes's transitional period- from drawing more detailed, heavily rendered  faces to the pared down cartoon style he's using now. I have to admit, I sort of prefer 90's Dan Clowes to turn of the century Clowes- but this is one fine example of pared down, character-based cartooning.  Look at the main guy in the first panel. A simple enough looking character design- it could almost be anybody- yet with the tiniest details we know that this is an upper-middle class hipster. He's older than he looks- the bags under his eyes, the tiny hint of stuble. The bulbous forehead and upturned nose indicate someone who is brainy and snooty. And the way his hair is neatly combed. Now compair him to the other characters in the same panel. They're all completely different and we instantaneously get a sense of who they are. There's almost a graphic novel's worth of information on the cover of this obscure music zine.

          Moving on... Here's a few sketches. I'd really like to use this title for something.

And yes, I've drawn some Gobots fan art.

         I basically drew this to demonstrate that you can take an asexual, blocky figure and make it look feminine. This is Smallfoot, she was a little red Toyota, and that's Scooter's face next to her.

        They just opened up a thrift store down the street from where I live. Given the remoteness of the location it's kind of a minor miracle. My brother picked up this album there today.

          Also, I noticed it was Harry Dean Stanton's birthday a couple days ago so I thought I'd share this ancient watercolor painting I did in High School.
           It's based on his appearance in Fire Walk With Me.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Humor, Sex, Violence and Giant Robots

That really sums up the work of Go Nagai. He had a special gift for giving audiences what they really wanted. There hasn't been anyone quite equivalent to him in the US.

This is a continuation of the Super Robot history I started in my last post and I think I'm gonna' cut it short here because I don't want to get too bogged down with just one thing. Alot of this stuff is pretty firmly lodged in my head so I may touch on it from time to time.

Although Osamu Tezuka and Mitsuteru Yokoyama laid down the groundwork,  it was Go Nagai who really got the Super Robot genre going. In 1972 came the debut of Mazinger Z.
Go Nagai started as an artist for short humor manga and it shows in Mazinger Z. I love this bit where Mazinger is trashing the city.

Go Nagai's inspiration for Mazinger came from the ancient Greek legend of Bardos, which must be be one of the earliest instances of giant robots in fiction.

After Mazinger Z super robots really started to take off. Go Nagai came out with a number of follow up series, including Getter Robo in 1974 and Steel Jeeg in 1975.

Also in 1975 came UFO Robot Grendizer.
Go Nagai's robot stories were far more violent than their superherioc cousins in the US. It was a specialty of his that he would take even further in his later work. Here's a scene where the villain has trussed a bunch of civilians to Mazinger and forces it to fight with Grendizer.

Super Robots were just the tip of the iceberg. Here are a few examples of his work from my comic book library. I think these images speak for themselves.

So there you go- a little Go Nagai for ya'.

I think I'm gonna go now.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dare To Be Stupid

Here's a Transformers comic I did for fun. I occasionally have to get these things out of my system because I am an overgrown man-child. You can also find this comic at the IDW Transformers Mosaic Deviant Art page. This was done in the spirit of the old cartoon, complete with hokey dialogue.

For a long time (long, long after I became an artsy-fartsy comic dude) I held onto the dream of doing The Best Transformers Comic Book Ever. It's hard to say why such a thing would matter. I think it has something to do with seeing the icons of your childhood constantly being raped before your eyes and wanting to right that injustice somehow. But the whole thing is really a lost cause. I am totally, totally through with the dream of taking a franchise and "doing it right". So, no, there will be no Transformers graphic novel  from me at any point in the future. Sorry.  Doing this one page was enough for me. I'm not saying I won't do another comic with giant robots in it, but if I do it'll be some kind of weird thing that could only have come from my brain.

So what I'm gonna' do here is switch gears for the next few posts and talk about giant robots. That's right, the month of May is GIANT ROBOT month! This is a massive post so keep reading if you want to get into some hardcore nerd shit!