Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

"Whether you've been naughty or nice, hope you have a great holiday!"

And that's my design for the 2008 Plastic Spoon Press official holiday card featuring, as usual, my good buddy, Mr. Mucho! I hope everyone who wanted one of these got one in the mail but, for those of you I missed, I apologize and hope that you too have great fun with family and friends this holiday season.

Another gift I'd like to impart to you is one of my favorite Christmas songs by Bruce Springsteen. No, it's not "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", "Merry Christmas, Baby", or even "Run Run Rudolph." Nope, this song is one I've only heard in one place and it's on a cassette tape given to me years ago of a live Springsteen show in Brixton, England circa 1996. I honestly don't even know the name of it but I can guess it's called "Pilgrim in the Temple of Love."

It's the story of Bruce Springsteen and the adventures he has one Christmas Eve at a little roadside strip joint. And, for those of you with delicate ears or kids within earshot, be warned, the Boss does curse. But, that makes it all the more fun.

So, here it is, one of my FAVORITE holiday songs. This one's for Sam! Enjoy and have a great holiday!

Edit: If the song doesn't pop up in the window you can find the original file HERE.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Now I'm Famous! LOL

Because you just haven't "made it" until someone names a sandwich after you!

Thank you, Einstein's Bagels!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Disc Golf

I've heard about disc golf (or frisbee golf) a lot but I've never had the pleasure of playing the game. I can only imagine the things I do bad on a golf course with a driver and a ball would only be amplified if I started chucking a frisbee around the links.

This was the last book of the four book contract I just finished. Putting this one together last was a tough one because I was battling exhaustion and almost every interior illustration of the book had at least four or more characters in it. But, as usual, I just hunkered down, worked every day, and got it done.

And, as for the finished results?

Ask me again in a week...I may be fully rested and ready to look at it with fresh eyes by then :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tennis Anyone?

Nothing too witty today with this one.

The biggest thing I remember about doing this book was how I could just NOT wrap my head around the way they keep score in tennis. I mean, the interior text explained scoring in such a way that a kid with a fourth grade reading level could figure it out and I still just couldn't get it. It didn't make illustrating the image with the scoreboard in the background easy but, thanks to Google image search, I found something I could copy so I hope it's right.

Any of you kids out there who see it and think it's wrong, you know where to email me :)

I spent most of the day putting together my greeting cards for this season. For some reason, addressing the envelopes, writing in each card, signing each card, sealing the envelopes, and putting the stamps and return address stickers on everything actually took longer than it did to illustrate the cards in the first place. But, I think it's all worth it. I think it beats a printed signature and sending the cards out to some service who does all the work for me. This way, every card has a little love in each one.

I just wish it didn't take so long. Stupid love...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Run, Rabbit, Run - Part 2

As promised yesterday, here was my initial idea for the cover of the Jake Maddox Track book.

I love the idea of the kid running straight at the viewer, a big grin on his face, happy to be doing the one thing in life he really loves, running. I really would have loved to have seen how this would have turned out as a finished inked and colored cover but it just wasn't in the cards. When my art director suggested I pull one of the images from the interior and color it to make that the cover, I jumped at the chance because, honestly, it saved me doing a bit of work. At the time I'm sure I was juggling multiple thing so saving a few hours of art table time seemed like a good idea.

But, I still like this idea.

All the more because, living in Boulder, I see a LOT of people running and jogging and walking for exercise. And never, not once, have I ever seen one person who is running for exercise smiling.

Not one single time.

So, I like the idea of a kid who is smiling and running. Living life doing what he loves in a care free way. It just shows what kind of fantasy land my head lives in.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Run, Rabbit, Run!

You know it's been really cold when you wake up in the morning, there is still snow on the ground, but you're just REALLY happy that the ice on the INSIDE of your windows is gone. Yeah, that's how cold it's been. I think we dropped to minus eight last night so a day of weather in the twenties has been really nice. At least when I walk outside now I don't feel like Old Man Winter is trying to steal the breath out of my lungs.

I'm on day two of my "almost taking some time off" week. Meaning that I'm taking it easy, going to the movies and watching some hockey, but still doing thumbnails and some prep work for the NASCAR books that are looming in the near future. I even went to Target today and bought myself a little die-cast NASCAR race car for reference. At least that's what I'll tell the government when I do my taxes. I'll conveniently leave off the fact that I sat on the floor going "vroom vroom" with it as soon as I got it out of the box. We'll keep that to ourselves.

Todays cover was for a children's book about a young kid who is forced to join the school's track team after water balloon soaking the team's older captain. Instead of some high school fist justice, he offers to let our hero come onto the team and use his speed for a good purpose. Of course, the two kids become friends and the hero ends up loving his new sport.

This is actually the second idea for the cover I had. My first idea had our hero running straight at the camera but that idea was shot down and lost out to the more traditional shot from the side. I'll have to dig up that initial sketch so you can compare the two and decided for yourself which one you like better.

Have a happy hump-day! The week is half over and next week is holiday fun!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Done and Done!

Today I put the finishing touches on the last book in the four book contract I had for the latest run of Jake Maddox books for Stone Arch Books.

So, I have a week or two off before I have to start the next ones, another four book contract by Jake Maddox that deals with Nascar Racing. Of course, two weeks off means I just have to do the next four covers for the books in that time and that is all. But, it does beat having to do a full book in two weeks time. So, I count it as having at least some time to get my head together. Which is a good thing.

Here is one of the book covers I just finished for a book called "Mr. Strike Out."

There's more to come in the next few days but, for now, I'm exhausted and am off to bed. Enjoy and have a great day!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

At least it didn't turn into this...

OK, my gig at the Laughing Goat last night may not have been the best, but at least it didn't turn into this story I found on

"Taking the term "death metal" to an all new level, a 19-year-old Italian heavy metal singer was arrested for stabbing the guitarist in her band.

Christina Baizano of the band Soul Cry reportedly stabbed the 16-year-old guitarist of her band for playing the wrong notes during a rehearsal. She accused the guitarist of "sounding evil".

Baizano is being charged by the Genovese police for attempted murder.

There’s no doubt that rock music has a history of egotistical singers and band conflicts, but very rarely do we see singers stabbing their guitarists. In her defense, however, maybe he really messed up that solo."

So, yeah, that I escaped with my life after playing a gig is sounding better and better all the time.

The Laughing Goat Christmas Show

I did another quick sit in at Lou's Laughing Goat Christmas show. There's no audio this time but I was lucky enough to have Monika snap a few photos during my time on stage. Maybe next time I'll actually get a recording AND pictures? Hell, in this age, you'd think I could pull it together enough to actually get a video. But, not yet.

It went well, once again no one threw anything at me and, near as I can tell, no one's ears bled. The music was mixed a bit odd and I never got really comfortable. I hope it sounded good. With no recording of the show, I'll never know.

As with the first show, Lou helped out on bass. It's, at the same time, a help and challenge to have him on stage with me. It's a help in that there is at least someone else up there to use as a human shield in case the crowd gets rowdy and decides to rush the stage. It's a challenge in that none of the songs are really that well rehearsed between the two of us and he ends up going off on his own at some points. So, I'm left to try and drown him out while concentrating on the music and lyrics I should be playing myself.

At the end of the night I was given the duty to play percussion on a few of Lou's songs. With Santa hat on head, I did my best to keep the beat with the only percussion instrument available...a crash cymbal. Oh, and for drum sticks...a pair of chop sticks. Never let it be said that one of Lou's shows skimps on gear for its performers.

How do you keep the beat using only a crash cymbal, you ask? By hitting it on every part I could find. Hitting the bell for certain parts, the middle part for rhythm, and the edge for the crashes. It worked out well but some of Lou's songs have odd timing that changes throughout the song. So, like playing my own songs, playing along with him on his own songs is a challenge.

I think, by this time, at the end of the show, there were so few people there that no one cared what we did.

It was a fun show and, if I can get the courage up again, I'll be doing it again in the future.

I might not wear the hat next time though.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Back at it...'s been a while...sorry...I've been busy.

Right now, I am inking the fourth book of the newest series for Stone Arch Books. While doing these books, I've also been juggling prepping and doing thumbnails for the next four books which feature Nascar race cars. By Monday, I should have a little breathing room before the holidays but I'll still be doing the four covers for the Nascar books during my "time off".

Then, come the first of the year, I'll be doing back to back to back books until the start of March in order to finish up this contract. It'll be eight weeks of no time off but I think I can manage it.

Usually, in past years, once I get past the stretch of work I have during the winter, I usually get a few months off. This year, I had planned to take that time and do some more work on the OilCan Drive books. But, if all goes as planned, I'll be starting on some more work for books, this time with a different client on an inspirational book for boys. It's about three to four times the workload of a regular Stone Arch book and will keep me busy until June.

Around which time, I'm sure something else will pop up and keep me busy until who-knows-when.

Now, I know I shouldn't be complaining and I'm really not. I get to draw pictures and somehow make a good living at it. And, in these hard economic times I actually feel guilty for being so busy and griping about it.

But, I could use some time off. The one problem I've had with doing freelance work is that it never ends. I don't punch out at five o'clock and forget about the work of that day. I can't "leave this project for the next shift to finish it." If I don't do it, it doesn't get done. And, as much as people offer to help me out, I know they can't draw or ink the way I do. So, I keep doing it. All alone.

The one thing that's been heartbreaking is coming to terms with myself about the scope of the OilCan Drive project and just how much time it would take to get it done the way I want to do it. Based off the full length movie script I wrote, the OilCan Drive book would run at least two hundred pages long as a comic book. Probably more. With how much time it takes me to do an OilCan Drive page, it would take me over a year and a half, if I had no one offering me work, everyone leaving me alone, to get it done.

And, when is the last time I had more than a month off from someone offering me a job?

So, if I worked doing the pages between the paying gigs, I think I'd get the book done...oh...I don't the time I'm fifty?

Originally, I envisioned doing mini-comics, ten pages long, of parts of the book as I finished it so I could put something out on a monthly basis. I had planned to have the first one out in October or November. It's mid December and I only have four of the ten pages done.

So, for now, I'm putting the OilCan Drive project to bed. Don't get me wrong, I love the characters and want to keep them alive somehow. I love drawing them, telling stories about them, and writing songs as them. I don't want to stop doing this. Doing the pages I finished was so fulfilling and fun. The art from above is the cover for the first issue of the mini-comic I hope to put out. I think it could have been a fun little project to do.

But, I don't have the time.

So, for now, I need to put them to bed and take the weight and stress I put on myself to do this project off my shoulders.

I'm sure at some point in the future Ill do something. I'd love to do more mini-stories but the last time I did one of those the comment I heard most was, "it's short". Which drove me to write a longer story that I'll probably never have the time to do. So, if anyone has any ideas, I'm all ears.

OilCan Drive will live somehow. Even if it's only in my own head. I'm sure when I have more than two days in a row off the first thing I'll think of doing is some kind of OilCan Drive piece. Even tomorrow I'll be playing a show again with Lou doing some more OilCan Drive material.

But, as for the art and story, if anyone has any ideas, let me know.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


So, I'm sitting at Einstein's Bagels this afternoon, eating some lunch, and doing thumbnails for the next Stone Arch book. A family comes in and sits at the table next to me and the youngest boy props what looks like a skateboard deck next to me on the floor. Except, it's like no skateboard deck I've ever seen. He notices me staring at it and, forward for a ten year old kid, asks me,

"Is that going to be a problem?"

"No, I've just never seen anything like that before...what is it?"

"It's a Ripstik. You can get them at Target for like fifty nine bucks!"

"Believe me, kid, if I get one of those I would hurt myself so fast, you wouldn't believe it..."

And, so the conversation ended and I went back to work. When the kid was finished with his lunch he asked me if I wanted to come outside and see how it worked. Intrigued, I followed him out of the restaurant.

So, this kid hops on this little board and starts flying around, swooshing this way and that, making it look really easy. Then, it was my turn. I ride a bike, I can rollerblade like a champ, so, I figured, why not?

I did OK at first, getting my balance on this thing, but having trouble making it actually move. And, it was fun. I finally tried to get some speed up and get the thing moving. Of course, being older than fifteen, the inevitable finally happened and I wiped out. I stopped myself with my hands and, from the pain that shot up them, reminded myself why I wear wrist guards when I rollerblade. But, like a ninja, I bounced back up and laughed it off.

So, now, for fifty nine bucks, I may have to run out and get myself one of these Ripstiks. Of course, I'll have to wait for the pain in my right hand to go away. And break my wrist guards out of storage.

Man, I hate getting old. The kids get all the fun toys!

Friday, November 28, 2008


I guess the last post or my third request for a review worked because it looks like the blog is back up and running. No more warnings, no more emails, no more threats of shutting me down.

It's working!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving with lots of food, family, and friends! I've been super busy this week and still have the weekend ahead of me filled with work. But, I did get a chance to sneak out today and eat some turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and pie!

I've found some art from the vaults and still have a bunch of new OilCan Drive stuff to show off. So, give me a few days to wrap up some stuff and the art will be flowing and showing again!

Have a great holiday weekend!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Spam Blog!

Last week I got a message from that my blog site had been flagged as a possible spam blog by it's robots. It said, unless I requested a review of my site, that my blog would be deleted in twenty days. So, of course, I requested a review and was told that within two business days that my blog would be reviewed and, hopefully, the regular status would be restored.

Well, it's been a week now and, according to the flashing memo on the dashboard of my blog, this blog is still locked and up for deletion in two weeks.

So, I am going to write this, hope it goes through, and see if I can change the status. It would royally suck if this blog got deleted. I just started it and am really enjoying it.

So, keep your fingers crossed. Hopefully this will all work out in the end.

And, if this blog disappears in two weeks, at least you know what happened.

Remember me! LOL

Friday, November 14, 2008


I had planned to spend the next few days showcasing some new art from the OilCan Drive books, particularly the four main character shots that will begin each book. I was going to show off one character a day and talk a bit about each of them. And I still plan to. But, something came up.

OilCan Drive got a live gig.

Well, not really. But, my friend Lou, who I've talked about a few times on the blog, had his birthday tonight. And, to celebrate, he put on a music show at The Laughing Goat, a local bar/coffee house. But, not just a regular Lou show. He invited guest performers. People he was a fan of. Real musicians who could get up there and play some original music.

And he invited me.

The last time I played live was three years ago at a Halloween gig were I just played guitar and didn't even sing. And, the last time I played an open mike where I got up on stage and played and sang, over five years ago, it went so bad that I bunkered down in my house and didn't surface for three months. I was unprepared, didn't know how to sing into a mike, and froze up when the sound tech pushed the mike closer to my face. Nothing worse than stopping right in the middle of a song, then hearing some odd clapping from the audience before announcing, "I'm not done yet." It was just horrible.

On top of that, there was all the nice comments I got from the internet for the last song I wrote and recorded. That kind of messed up my head for a bit.

So, yeah, when Lou wanted me to play in his show, and Lou is a guy who really won't take "no" for an answer, I's the word?.....oh yea....scared shitless.

He asked on a Monday and the show was on Thursday. Some of the songs I had written and recorded I didn't even know the words to anymore. I thought about not showing up more than once. But, I knew I'd hate myself if I didn't try. I'd much rather get up on stage and fall on my face then feel the regret of not trying at all. Plus, I figured if I really royally screwed up and bunkered down again at least I'd get a lot of drawing done. So, I remembered the lyrics and played a lot of guitar. Between inking all week on a kid's book and playing my guitar my hands got quite a work out.

Lou and I got together on Wednesday night to run through the three songs I was going to play. He wanted to play bass on them during the show and this gave him the chance to see what he was in for. My original set list was "Walk Away", "Tour Guide", and "Toxic Waltz". We practiced those for a bit and he left me with some words of advice..."wake up tomorrow and play through the set once, then forget about it until you play the show."

So, I woke up this morning and played the songs. And nothing came out right. There wasn't one song that I played through that I didn't mess up. I would forget words, play the wrong chords, and just screw up in general. Thoughts of leaving the state entered my mind. The worst was playing "Walk Away". The problem was that the whole song is based upon a D arpeggio chord. That means it's a basic D chord but playing the individual strings in the chord in a specific pattern. And playing them over and over again. And playing them fast.

And it just wasn't working!

I couldn't keep up that pace without screwing it up somewhere. I was planning on opening the set with that song and I couldn't play it right. A botched first song does not bode well for the rest of the night. My stomach did flip flops. My mind was racing. I was once again wondering how far away from Boulder I could get before show time.

So, I did what I thought best. I dropped "Walk Away" from the set list.

And, I felt much much better.

Well, not much better. I was still scared. But, my stomach settled down a bit.

I packed up my gear, put on my OilCan Drive t-shirt, and headed out the door.

Monika and I showed up to the Laughing Goat, set up, and found a table to sit at and watch the show until it was my turn. We watched Lou perform a few songs to warm up the crowd. Then, a very talented friend of his, Ali Crockett, got up and played a really long set of songs. She plays guitar amazingly and sings like an angel so it was pretty intimidating. After her, another guy went up and played a short set. All this time, about two hours, I would get up from our table, walk around, and eye the back door located next to the bathroom.

But, I sucked it up and stayed. And, I was glad I did. Finally, it was my turn and I could get up and face my imaginary firing squad. And, you know what? It didn't go that bad. I messed up the first song right away and stopped. Looking back, I think I messed up because I was listening to Lou when he was playing bass. Doing that, I kind of forgot what I was supposed to do next. But, I counted back in and started the song again right away. No one booed. No one threw anything. And, from there, it went off without a hitch.

I honestly had no idea how I did when I came off stage. I kind of blur out when I perform, I guess. I had to ask Monika if I did OK and if anyone's ears, did in fact, bleed. But, listening back to the recording, I really like they way I pulled it off. You can hear my voice gaining courage even after the first verse of "Tour Guide". And, in the little talking parts between songs, I was even kind of funny.

When introducing the music before the set:

Me- "This is music I did for a cartoon band called OilCan Drive" ...pointing the the characters on my t-shirt... "Tonight, I'll be playing the part of the guy in the Avalanche jersey and Lou will be playing the part of the gorilla...on the bass."

Lou- "Shit yeah!"

And, my favorite little bit. After playing "Tour Guide", Lou requested I give "Walk Away" a shot:

Lou- "Nicely Done. Do Walk Away, do Walk Away."

Me- "I can't do Walk Away."

Lou- "Do it for me."

Me- "I can't do Walk Away because it's a song I wrote and the whole thing is this weird little D arpeggio...for the whole song...and I can't keep it up for three minutes. I know it's a bad thing for a guy to say...but I can't keep it up for three minutes."

That got a laugh out of a lady in the audience so my work was done. From there, we went on to play "Toxic Waltz" which I thought really started out well for two guys who only practiced it for ten minutes together the night before.

Lou- "You wanna do Toxic Waltz? Let's do Toxic Waltz. Give me the bass line first."

But, why type about it when you can hear it for yourself?

So, here, for your listening pleasure, is a very crappy recording of the show that I got from an old tape recorder I put on my table. The whole thing is about ten minutes long and features three songs: "Tour Guide", "Toxic Waltz", and "Out of my Mind".

So, if you have the time, you're in the right place, and you don't mind risking bleeding ears, give it a listen. Back to the art next time, I promise. The next OilCan Drive live show is probably about three years away :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More Pieces!

Here is another piece of art I created for the OilCan Drive books. I was looking for a stylish way of featuring each issue's number and I thought a guitar running along each book's spine would work great.

I chose to base the art on a Gibson Es-335 style guitar. Of course, I fattened it a bit but the symmetrical style of the ES-335's body served my needs perfectly. And, instead of muddying the art up with strings (although I did try that out), I chose to put a racing stripe down the body to keep the neck's natural lines through out the piece. Add the issue number of each book to the lower body and the design is complete.

I started to draw this guitar by hand but, after a few false starts, decided to give my old school inner artist a rest and design the whole thing on the computer. So, a bit of work in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and the piece is more symmetrical and cleaner than anything I could do by hand. When I first started using the computer I thought it would eat my artist's soul but now it's just another tool among many I use to get the job done.

While I'll be using this on the mini-comics I plan to put out, I originally had the idea of the guitar on a graphic novel's fat spine. Something about the spine of each book being taken up by the guitar's neck, body, racing stripe, and number really appeals to me.

Now, I just need to draw enough pages of story to fill a book enough to deserve a fat spine. One step at a time, one step at a time...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

New Plastic Spoon Press Logo

Geez, Sunday night got here quicker than I'd expected. I've spend the weekend working away on the Stone Arch books, getting the pencils ready for approval on one while doing thumbnails and character sketches for the next. Now, to sit back for a bit and just wait for approval before the fun starts again.

As some of you know, in the middle of all the client work, I've been working on the OilCan Drive project. For those of you who don't know, the OilCan Drive project is a personal thing of mine that is a comic book, a band, and music all in one. Last spring I started writing a full length movie script that I finally nailed down sometime in September. The plan was to write the script, make sure the story was solid, and then start drawing my little heart out. Now, it's a matter of finding the time to work on the comic pages in the middle of all of this client work. Originally, I tried to do the client work during the day, eat some dinner, and then do OilCan Drive at night. I did two days of that before I felt completely exhausted. I think it was just too much creative energy expended in too short a time. So, now I am working on it when I can.

One of the things I have been doing is creating the little bits and pieces I'll need for when the book comes out. Things like logos, book elements, and making sure the font sizes I am using can be read when they are shrunk down to print size. And, one of the things I decided to do was give my company logo, Plastic Spoon Press, an upgrade.

This is the third time I've designed this logo and I've been using the name since 1998 when I first put out Exit 6, my first self published comic book.

This time around I wanted the logo to have a bit of a retro look that would fit into the black and white style the new books will have. I like that it has a 50's record company look mixed with a roadside greasy diner sign. I think, looking at it now, that it's influenced by my trip last year to Sun Studios in Memphis. The circle, the arced letters, the spoon in the middle, I like it all. And, since I left the word "Press" off of the logo for design aspects (I just couldn't find a nice way to fit "press" in there without making it look off center), it helps create a logo that will not only look great on a comic book but also on a cd cover, t-shirt, or coffee mug.

So, now I can be Plastic Spoon Press, Plastic Spoon Publishing, Plastic Spoon Records, or Plastic Spoon Apparel. The skies the limit! Let the new Plastic Spoon age begin!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Change is Coming, but Work is Here Right Now

"Yes we can", "Change we need", "Change is Here"....yes, yes...all great...happy, happy...but, with all this change having come and with more on the way, I'm sure most of us still have a job to do that isn't going anywhere anytime soon. So, it's back to work.

Whew....I'm calling it a night after a long day of penciling. How do I know I had a long day of penciling? (other than the pile of pages next to my table right now?) I've found when I pencil that my right hand (I'm left handed) plants itself on my head between my forehead and hairline. So, when I've spent a day penciling like I have today, the right front side of my hair sticks straight up from my hand being in it all day. The higher it sticks up, the more I worked that day. And tonight, it's sticking STRAIGHT up.

I'd show you what I did today. I really would. And, I could blame it on work in progress or the client not wanting me to show it off or contractual stuff but...I just haven't scanned it yet and I'm too tired to do it tonight. So, I'll scan it in tomorrow. And then I can tell you I can't show it to you for contractual reasons :)

The job today was a new book for the Jake Maddox series of books for Stone Arch. The story deals with an emerging track star in middle school and, if my memory serves me, is the thirty fourth book I am doing for Stone Arch. I did find this nice POST from a school librarian through Stone Arch's own BLOG. Apparently they are pretty popular. Good thing, since I really enjoy working on them and don't want to stop anytime soon. The current contract will bring me to book number thirty six and I am in talks to sign another four book contract which would bring me to a nice round forty. I figure if I can hit fifty, that's a nice respectable number of books completed for someone who always wanted to work on children's books.

So, no new art tonight but I have been playing with and idea that my friend, Rob Kelly, has been doing. Once a week, he digs through his archives and posts a piece from days gone past. So, I may break open the old portfolios, stick my hand in, and see what I can pull out. I think that's a great idea and would be a lot of fun.

Oh, and the new thing I learned last night, which still blows my mind....did you know that if you plug a pair of headphones into a microphone input that the headphones actually become a microphone! Crazy! I read it online and figured, nah, there is no way this will work. But, I gave it a try and it actually works really well. Now, I just need to think of some applications where I can use it. Last night, I took a pair of the big old can headphones and wrapped each ear cup around the belly of my acoustic guitar. And, it worked. It recorded the guitar just great. It may have looked funny, but it worked. So, I'll have to play around a bit and see what I can come up with.

OK, off to watch a little hockey and then off to bed. I hope you had a great day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fond Memories

In the late fall of 1994, I had the chance to meet Will Eisner at a lecture he was giving in Washington DC. Will Eisner is considered one of the most important contributors to the comic book medium and for his leading role in establishing the graphic novel as a form of literature. I had driven for hours from northern New Jersey down to Washington DC by myself and sat in the auditorium to hear this legend speak about his work and his life.

On January 3rd, 2005, when I read Will Eisner had passed away, I cried.

I didn't cry because the industry had lost one of its founding fathers that meant so much to it. I didn't cry because of all he had accomplished and all that I'd miss now that he was gone. I didn't cry because it was what I was "supposed to do."

I cried because, while I was sitting there alone in an auditorium in Washington DC, Will Eisner walked up to the podium, looked out into the crowd, looked right at me, and smiled.

It was a warm, genuine, and comfortable smile. Not the smile of a man who was trying to sell you something or put one over on you. But, a confident, laid back, humble smile. The smile of a man who had done his best in life and fought his battles where he could. The smile of a man who, while he may not have made every right choice in life, was genuinely happy with who and where he was. It was the kind of smile that said, "it's OK, kid, I'm nervous too...but I've been here before and we'll get through this one together."

It's that smile I thought about when I heard Will Eisner had passed away.

And, it's that same smile I saw tonight on Barack Obama's face when he came to greet the crowd to accept his role as our newest leader.

"It's OK, kid, I'm nervous too...but I've been here before and we'll get through this one together."

Congratulations, Mr. President.

Done and Done

I just got back from the voting booth doing my civic duty for the day.

A friend of mine was amazed I hadn't already gotten out there and early voted (as we're allowed to do in Colorado). She thought I'd have to wait in long lines all day just to cast my vote.

But, I have a few things on my side. One, I can go vote at three in the afternoon when everyone is at work. One of the perks to working from home as a freelance artist. Two, the biggest lines I have seen were people doing the early voting. Last presidential election, right when I moved into my new place and had to re-register my car with new license plates, I had to pass a HUGE line of people waiting to early vote. My thinking is that there are fewer places to early vote so there is always a line and the people who are really dying to early vote will stay in that line so they can avoid the "long lines" come election day. But, on election day, there are many many more places where you can go to vote so, just playing the odds, there won't be as long a line.

So, how did I fair?

I walked over two buildings to the old folks home where I was told to vote, walked in, took a cookie, and only had to wait behind one guy who only took up time because he had no idea where he was supposed to vote, if he was registered, what district he was from, or why he was there. I have a feeling his girlfriend dragged him away from the Playstation, drove him down, and made him vote. It seems he would have been happier sitting it out this year.

So, yeah, one guy in the way, I flashed my ID, took my ballot, used my best artistic skill to fill in the little boxes fully, and walked out.

Done and done.

Now, back to penciling the newest kid's book while I await to watch the results tonight.

Hooray Democracy!


Today, Monday, felt like a day lost in limbo. Between the time change yesterday and the big election tomorrow, today felt like a day that got lost through the cracks. It got dark too early and everyone around me seemed very pensive and on edge.

My four day old pumpkin, at 2am, is still lit up outside on the porch. Even with Halloween a memory, I find it's natural orange glow very comforting. Of course, the squirrels have gotten to him a bit and he's missing his lid. I found a squirrel this afternoon had pulled it off and was gnawing away at it. I chased him off but when I got home tonight the pumpkin's top was nowhere to be found. I was hesitant to look over the edge since I was afraid I'd see one of my elderly neighbors three stories below knocked out with a pumpkin top lying beside them. Maybe I'll check tomorrow when the sun is up and I can see better. But, for now, the pumpkin's candle is still burning brightly inside and he's keeping his smile. So, that makes me feel good.

OK, off to bed and then up to vote. I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be one hell of a day.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Eek and Ack!

Ah, Sundays! I spent a nice quiet day drawing thumbnails for the newest Stone Arch book while watching both my beloved Denver Broncos and Colorado Avalanche get their butts kicked. I was hoping at least one of them would pull it out for a win but no such luck. Ah well.

Speaking of Stone Arch Books, one of the people I used have the pleasure to work with in regards to contracts and invoices was Blake Hoena (congrats on the move up the ladder, Blake! You'll be missed!) Blake, rightfully so, has been moved into more creative pastures within the company. I found out after doing a Google search for Stone Arch that Blake had a blog himself. It was there that I found out he was not only one of the office guys but he also wrote a lot of the books as well!

One of the series he has created is a book called "Eek and Ack". It's the story of alien siblings who, in a quest to fight off the boredom all kids face, try to destroy the Earth. Each book showcases the wacky plots the two come up with to wipe us all off the galactic map. From slinging living ooze at us to accidentally taking out Pluto (melting it so much in fact that it can barely be called a planet) they are always up to something.

So, for Blake and how great he's always been to me, I drew up one of his characters in my own style. Originally, as I was penciling it out, I tried to emulate the style of the artist who had worked on all of the books in the series. But, after a few failed attempts, I just started from scratch and designed the character how I would have if I had been offered the books. It might be a bit more scary looking than the books that are out there on the shelves but it was a lot of fun to design and draw!

So, thanks Blake, and good luck on your future endeavors!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Verdict is IN!

Whew! So, I uploaded the "Walk Away" song to a few online forums yesterday after I posted it to this blog. I was curious what people thought, if they thought anything.

The first response read:

"No offense, but it's terrible. The guitar is very repetitive. The drums are not precise, (I don't know if you were looking for that feel), and I hate your voice. Overall, it's nothing new."

Ouch, and that was actually the best example of someone giving me...ahem...constructive criticism. I like how people start things with the phrase "no offense", like that gets them off the hook for them telling you that you suck.

The next comment was from someone who's profile said he was a police officer:

"If I ever want to torture someone... I will tie them to a chair in a room alone and force them to listen to this until their ears bleed.. Lucky for them it will most likely be halfway through this song. F*%king Terrible. I'm pretty sure the sound of you smashing your guitar, which you should probably have done by now, would sound better than that trash."

Well, I guess I can look at that as a good thing. At least my song would keep this public servant from using water boarding as their torture device of choice. And, I'm sure Congress could more easily defend music as a means of gaining information than drowning someone. Maybe I should email it to the CIA.

"Wow, that's just f*%king bad. Not only are you a fanboy faggot, but you have no talent either."

I think, in this age of the internet, where people can hide behind a keyboard to spout off their opinions, you haven't REALLY made it until someone calls you a fag.

A few other quick comments include: "It kinda scares me", "That was crap", and "Not too great I'm afraid."

I've been trying to take the attitude of something Dave Sim, writer and artist of the self published comic book Cerebus, said when people told them they thought his work sucked. His response, "Well, I like it and I have to sit and stare at it all day so piss off."

I've been trying...and, sometimes it works...but, honestly, it still leaves a crappy feeling in the pit of my stomach. A feeling that makes me want to burn my guitars, chuck my drums out the window, and never speak again.

I took a drive to clear my head out and brought a burned CD of the song with me to take a listen to it. It took me about half an hour into the drive to put the CD into the player and have a listen. And honestly, after listening to it ten times in a row, I can hear some places in it that might need a few tweaks in the mixing but, overall, I like it.

So, I like it and I'm the one who has to sit and listen to it more times than anyone. So, piss off.

Of course, when I got home and checked another board I had posted the song on I received this comment from a kid in Nepal:

"Whoa man..this once is really nice...really really good nice..every things like so this one has HUGE potential..good lyrics..good music..good vocals..cheers!!!!"

So, at least someone in Nepal likes me! LOL

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Ah, it's the most fun and creative night of the year. Costumes, candy, music, movies, and parties abound.

Last night I went with Monika and a group of friends to a "haunted house" at the Boulder High School. I am hesitant to call it a house as it took place in the basement of the school. It was put on by the school's drama department and the kids did a hell of a good job. Thank God one of the rules was "don't touch the kids and the kids won't touch you." The feeling in the basement was creepy enough that if someone had touched me I would have just started screaming like a girl as I flailed my fists in the air making a run for the nearest exit. They really did a great job and it's a testament to the kids that, while the artistic part of me was marveling at some of the make up and ideas the kids had come up with, the little kid inside of me still had his back to the wall trying to stay as far away from them as possible. It was a really great time and it looks like the school made out great. The line to get into the fun was long and about a twenty minute wait. So, I hope they keep doing it year after year.

When we got home Monika and I carved out the pumpkins that Monika picked up that afternoon. Keeping mine pretty simple I just carved out a fun face. When I look at it now I realize how much it looks like the little rag doll character I have named Mr. Moocho. I guess, even when carving something, I have the same distinct style I draw with. Ah well, I've decided I'll take that as a good thing and leave it at that :)

Tonight's plans are pretty simple. My friend Lou is putting on his annual Halloween rock and roll show so I'm going to drag Monika along with me and enjoy some music. Lou always puts on an interesting show so I'm sure I won't be disappointed.

And, speaking of music, I've just uploaded a new Halloween type of song called "Walk Away". I'm not sure if it's an OilCan Drive song or not since it doesn't have the feel of a typical pop-punk band. But, in my head, when I record and mix something like this, I still see the band, Ryan, Vince, Henry, and Nicole, playing it. So, maybe it is an OilCan Drive song and they're just expanding their horizons. I don't know, I'll let you decide.

The song started with a simple riff I played one night and quickly built from there. Some songs take a long time to create and I still have guitar riffs from years ago that have yet to turn into an actual song. But this one really flew, from the moment I came up with the riff, to the lyrics just flowing from my head, and onto the recording. It all went really quickly and I'm very happy with the way it turned out. It's also the first song I've recorded where I was confident enough in my own actual drumming that I was able to dump the computer drums and wing it on my own. It's nothing fancy but it turned out well.

And, as for the sound, it has a bit of that Cajun, New Orleans, spooky type of feel to it. It led me to write the lyrics for the second time from Death's point of view. The first time I had done that was in the song "Tour Guide"(which, if you'd like, can be heard on the OilCan Drive MySpace page HERE). "Tour Guide" is the story of Death watching a drag race and waiting to collect one of the souls after the inevitable fiery crash occurs. "Walk Away" feels like the sequel to that song, after Death has collected his soul and is explaining how the afterlife works to its newest member and comforting him by telling him that everyone, in the end, walks away from life.

I hope you enjoy the newest creation and, above all, have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Like a Bowl Full of Jelly!

I've been part of the online art blog called Jelly of the Month for about a year now. The idea of Jelly is to come up with a different concept every month and then everyone submits their artistic take on it. I'll be the first to admit that sometimes I miss a month or two. Client work just kind of piles up and the next thing I know those thirty days of the month are gone. But, I do my best.

One thing I have realized and that I love about the Jelly blog is that it reminds me how much fun and easy art can be. As much as I enjoy doing art for clients and actually being paid for doing something I love, the wait for approval on some projects really slows things down. You do thumbnails, wait for approval, do the pencil art, wait for approval, ink the art, wait for approval, color the art and submit the finished product, wait to see if there are get the idea.

So, doing a piece of art once a month where I can conceive, pencil, ink, color, and finish a piece all in one sitting really reminds me why I love doing art so much in the first place. Sometimes, being as busy as I am, I forget that. So, thank you Jelly for reminding me.

September's concept was "childhood heroes". The only character I can remember constantly dressing up as (even going so far as to borrow one of my Dad's shirts, ripping off the sleeve, looping a jump rope through my belt, and donning a fedora) was Indiana Jones. The latest film notwithstanding, the concept and idea behind Indiana Jones will always be near and dear to my heart. Adventuring, fighting the good fight, and using your wits and fists to get out of jams never goes out of style. And, while I don't think I really captured the likeness of Harrison Ford that well, I definitely think I captured the feel and essence of all that is the good Doctor Jones.

October's concept was your "favorite monster!" Now, there are a LOT of monsters I love and almost too many to choose from. So, I figured...hmm...favorite? Let's look around the house and see what jumps out at me. I have a Milk and Cheese vinyl figure set on the mantle...nope, not monster enough. How about Kurt Cobain action figure right behind me in my studio? Nah, not unless I choose to make him some kind of rock and roll zombie. The Batman figure on the window sill? Nope. Ah, but there, on a shelf in the hall way. From Jeff Smith's immensely popular self published comic book, Bone, a stupid stupid Rat Creature! Yes!

So, check off September and October's Jelly of the Month off the list. And, as always, click on either image to see a larger version. I can't wait to see what ideas November brings!


Welcome to my second time around blogging.

For a few years I was using Live Journal for my blogging needs but was put off when they started to attach advertisements onto the right side of my blog. Seeing ads for the newest herbal shampoo or a chain of hotels next to a new piece of posted art or music really depressed me and I slowly just stopped writing entirely. I felt, with more than enough choices out there for blog servers, that it was finally time for a move. And, a lot of friends and family were using Blogger so I thought I'd give it a try.

But first, for those of you who don't know me and didn't follow me over from my previous blog, allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Sean Tiffany and I make my living doing art work for clients out of my home studio in Boulder, Colorado. I was raised in Maine and went to school for art in New Jersey at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. A few years after graduating I found myself working for Marvel Comics and teaching at the Kubert School myself. But, something didn't feel right and in 1996, I left New Jersey and headed west. I didn't really know where I was going but I really felt like I was running towards something new and exciting. After two months of traveling, staying in motels, and couch surfing, I landed in Boulder. I loved it here immediately and made it my home. I've been here now for over ten years.

After roughing it in the comic book world, continuing to do work for Marvel as well as dive into self publishing my own comics, I finally opened myself up to other clients in late 2002. Since then, I've work on everything from major advertising campaigns, world wide teaching programs, to a variety of children's books. And yes, I still find time here and there to work on my own comic book projects.

So stick around. Most of this blog will be about the fun stuff I fill my life with, whether it's new art I have on the board, new music from my home recording studio, or just the adventures I find myself in the middle of while riding my bike around Boulder in the wee hours of the night.

So, welcome. I hope you enjoy the ride.