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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Toon Talk - Just "Do" It!

Most of my cartoons seem to come to me in a flash.  I see the picture and hear the gag line as a finished image in my head and sketch it out very quickly.  But... some have a long gestation.

Today's review goes back over 25 years.  When in our twenties, my brother and I were bartenders in our hometown.  There was a young woman who frequented the clubs we worked and she had one of the most interesting hairdos I can remember.  The shape of her hair was like a sphere on her head bluntly cut off at the base of her neck.  She looked like she'd lowered her head into a very soft pillow - her face on the verge of sinking into the quicksand of her hair.  The overall appearance of this ozone depleting dome resembled the helmets of New Guinea's Asaro River  mudmen.

 The most fascinating aspect was the color.  The back half of her head was brunette and the front half was blond, as though she'd lowered her face into a washtub of peroxide - like a half moon sitting atop her shoulders.  

We never knew her name, so my brother referred to her as 'bundt cake.'

Last year, my wife and I were at the movies and a young woman I saw had teased and brutalized her hair into this Amy Winehouse hornet's nest on her head and my memory flashed back to the girl in the bar from 30 years ago, complete with the nickname - and this cartoon instantly flashed in my head.  The drawing took a few iterations before I felt it had the clarity to instantly get the joke.  Had it not been for my brother's offhand remark, I'm not sure if this would ever have seen the light of day.  Blame him.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday Toon-Up; P.J. Harvey

Let me start this post with an apology for so few postings last week.  I had a medical situation to contend with and I was sidelined for several days.

That stated, let's listen to P.J. Harvey's 'Rid Of Me.'  Harvey's been largely ignored by the U.S. music press, perhaps because she wears underwear.  She's a fascinating artist with a broad spectrum of musical influences and taste.  I was immediately taken with the tension and drama of this song the first time I heard it.  I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday Toon UP - Pink Hemmoroid

Sorry I missed yesterday's posting, I had a bit of a medical dilemma.  Last week, I featured Pink Floyd as my music video for the week and this week is the worst band of all time covering a Pink Floyd tune.  For the sake of honesty, I sing just like the singer, I solo just like the guitarist and, like the rhythm section, I can't keep time.

This wouldn't be so amusing if they didn't seem to be so serious.  Enjoy - and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Drawing On The Past - Cover Up

One of the main problems I ran into when I was designing a newspaper tabloid, was coming up with fresh ideas on a yearly cycle.  Whether the subject was Christmas happenings around town, autumn festivals or Easter celebrations, eventually I would have to cover the same subject matter.  This weeks rewind was a cover about upcoming summer events.

The first image was something I created for my own amusement.  I had an acquaintance who told me a story about a relative in a vaudeville act and the novelty was playing giant harmonicas.  I was also studying music and was interested in examining harmony, so I created this image.  I was also immersed in trying different techniques in Photo Shop.  A major issue when working at a daily newspaper is the deadline, so the symmetry afforded speed in execution.

The second image was the cover I created based on drawing number one.  I was out of fresh ideas, so I borrowed an old concept from myself.  This was as close to an homage to psychedelic art as I was ever able to come up with.

I don't think my editor was too happy with the final cover, but it was quite striking when displayed in the distribution racks.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday Toon - Up; Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd is unquestionably, one of the most popular bands in the world.  The majority of fans are familiar with their catalog from 'Dark Side Of The Moon' on through 'The Wall.'

My favorite Floyd tune comes from their earlier work, when experimentation seemed first and foremost with the band.  This tune, 'One Of These Days,' is from the album 'Meddle.'  I was spellbound by the record the first time I dropped the needle onto the vinyl.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Toon Talk - Hitting The Big Time

Today's nostalgic rambling is significant for me because this cartoon was the first time I felt like I'd hit the big time.  What I mean by the 'big time' is when someone cuts out a toon from the paper and hangs it up.  Refrigerators are the MoMA for cartoonists.

I submerged myself in jazz for a while and had to order a lot of compact discs from a record store on the west end of my hometown.  I'd stopped in to pick up an order that had come in and went to the back office with the owner to pick up my purchase.  Taped to the wall next to the time clock was this cartoon.  He had no idea I was the artist.  He just thought the cartoon was funny enough to save and put up on the wall.

This particular cartoon is also noteworthy, because it was the first time my main characters came to life.  Although they would got through a lot of evolution before I decided on their final appearance, this was where the 'relationship' started.

The curlers in the woman's hair were based on the memory of my older sister.  When she went to junior high school, the style was to roll your hair in discarded cans from frozen orange juice.  While the wife would evolve over time to tighter rollers and simpler slippers, the husband is almost complete in how he looks today.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Scoop! Brenda Starr Retires

Brenda Starr, the cartoon reporter created by Dale Messick, is retiring effective Jan. 2.  Tip of the hat to Tribune for putting the the final issue to bed.

Pick Of The Week - Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

This weeks cartoon is Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, an 'anything goes' strip by Zach Weiner that's about... well... anything.  Partial social commentary and partial autobiography, SMBC isn't afraid to address any issues the creator cares to comment about, so readers offended by foul language or an iconoclastic point of view - you've been forwarned.  

SMBC is one of the few cartoons on the web that has afforded the creator to make a living strictly as a cartoonist.  Weiner has since returned to college to indulge his love of science.  He's also involved in some animation projects.  I've included a video of Zach being interviewed at C2E2.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Drawing On The Past - From My Portfolio

I was the art director for an entertainment tabloid at a newspaper for two years, which afforded me a lot of freedom to do features illustrations.  This was a cover I did for a Christmas issue.  I drew the image on paper, scanned it and redrew it in Free Hand.  This way, I could scale the drawing to size once it was finished and not loose any resolution.  This image looks grainy when it's blown up because it was a scan from the printed page, rather than an archive of the digital art.

I then exported the file over to Photo Shop and put in all the dimensional shading with the dodge and burn tool.  The final tiff was imported into QuarkXpress and the type was set.

It's tough to remember how long this took, as I would start a Christmas issue somewhere around the beginning of October to give myself the luxury of time.  Also, the editors and myself were sure to be in agreement as to what the final product looked like.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday Toon Up - Broken Social Scene

I was walking through the art department where I work last week, and one of the designers was playing this tune on their computer.  He gave me the band's CD and I couldn't stop listening to it all weekend.

The group - Broken Social Scene - is a revolving collection of musicians from Toronto who move in and out of the band, depending on their commitments with other projects.  This song, 'World Sick,' is from their album titled, 'Forgiveness.'  Enjoy!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Toon Talk

When I tell someone I draw cartoons, invariably, the question comes up, "Where do you get your ideas?"  I thought I'd take Mondays and pull a cartoon from my archive and give you an idea as to how I came up with it.

Today's cartoon is based on an old vaudeville joke.  The gag went like this:

Did you hear about the man with five penises?

His pants fit like a glove.

I always thought this joke was funny, but I knew it wasn't appropriate for a newspaper.  The 'fit like a glove' line gave me a snapshot in my head and I drew the cartoon around the suit actually being a glove.  By the way, the tailor in the drawing is an old friend of mine.  I used him over and over in various forms until I came up with the Funday family I use today.  Where the name, Mr. Abernathy, came from, I have no clue.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Happy Birthday To Walt Disney!

Today is the 109th birthday of the creator of Mickey Mouse.  Here's a link to wikipedia for a full article on his amazing career.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jack Davis

Let's tip our hats and wish Jack Davis a happy birthday.  The ubiquitous caricaturist turns 86 years young today!

Pick Of The Week - Bizarro

Dan Piraro has been a syndicated cartoonist for 25 years.  His career spans the golden years of the late 80s and 90s into the interactive world of webcomics.
Besides drawing cartoons, Piraro is also an accomplished painter, stand up comic and animal rights activist.  I saw his presentation at Ohio State University last October and he is quite funny in person.  Besides drawing one of the most inspiring panels in newspapers, he also writes a hysterical blog.  Enjoy!

R.I.P. Jon D'Agostino

Multi-talented comic book artist Jon D'Agostino has passed away.   His work spans numerous publishers and titles, from Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk, to GI Joe and Archie.  Washington Post blogger, Michael Cavna has written a nice overview of Mr. D'Agostino's career.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


This week's flashback is a magazine cover I created that was axed at the last minute.  I was an art director for the weekly entertainment tabloid that appeared on Fridays in the local paper.  

This particular piece was about Van's Warped Tour, but the editor decided to go with another feature at the last minute and my unfinished illustration (no strings on the guitar and the blank left side is where the story promos go) was relegated to the 'never ran' files.