Monday, March 30, 2009


The last book for the Stone Arch Books Nascar series is called "Pit Crew Crunch". It's the story of a boy who wins a contest and gets to be in the pit crew on an actual Nascar team.

The cover was a new twist on the old designs as it featured a pit crew team member in full gear looking at his team's race car barreling towards him for a pit change.

So, for the cover, I had to draw and design the car independently and then flop the design for the reflection in the pit crew member's goggles. All in all, not a bad cover. Designing the pit crew helmet and oxygen mask was a lot of fun and brought back memories of drawing jet fighter pilots back when I was a kid.

And, as before, here is the original design of the car and the cover as it appeared before the type and title were laid into the piece.

And, for something else fun, when designing the cars, I had to come up with a variety of company logos to paste all over the cars. Since none of these logos could be existing companies, I had to make them all up on my own. So, here is a partial list of where some of the logos came from:

Macbeth- From Macbeth Shoes, a company who's sneakers I like a lot.
AVA- Angels and Airwaves, one of my favorite bands.
DriveCan Oil- For OilCan Drive, my own cartoon band.
OCD- Once again, Oilcan Drive.
Thorne- For Josh, the great kid I used to mentor.
Pinstripe- From Ska Brewing's Pinstripe Ale, a tasty beer.
Maddox- Jake Maddox, who writes all the Stone Arch Books I do illustrations for.
Jerry Jones- Independent guitar maker located in Nashville, TN.
Beatnik's- Beatnik's Bagels, one of my favorite lunch places, may it rest in peace.
JPGS- File format for pictures saved in Photoshop.
Time Warp- My local comic book shop.
Exit 6- Old self published comic book I used to do.
Stone Arch- For Stone Arch Books, duh.
Graf Auto- For Monika and her family...both brothers work in auto manufacturing and repair.
Lou's- Louis Deangelis, the craziest bass player I know.
Deli Zone- Another favorite place to eat...great sandwiches!

So, there are some of the answers...shhh....don't tell anyone the secrets!

Friday, March 27, 2009

From the Vault: Captain America 1995

I figure I'd take a break from the cars for a moment and try something out that my friend, Rob Kelly, has been doing on his blog for a while now.

It's called "From the Vault" Fridays.

Every Friday Rob digs into his portfolio and comes up with a piece of art from his past. I like the idea because, not only does it give him a lot of work to go through and showcase, ensuring each Friday he was something to write about, but it's also fun to see where he's been with his art and how far he's grown as an artist since then.

So, I figure, why not, let's give it a try.

During the early nineties, when I was living in New Jersey, I did a lot of color work for Marvel Comics. Back in the days before the computers and Photoshop and Digital Paint took over the art world every piece of art still had to be done by hand. Yes kids, before computers, when art needed to be done you actually had to pick up a brush and get your hands dirty.

Most of the work I did was drawn by another artist but still needed color to complete the piece. So, from time to time I'd either get a FedEx package or a personal messenger would show up with a new piece of art ready to paint. Honestly, it felt like Christmas morning every time I got to open a package and see what kind of new, amazing art I'd get to work on that day.

And, my tools of the day? Brushes, friskit, xacto knives, Dr. Martins' dyes, and my trusty airbrush. Geez, with Photoshop, scanners, and computers these days it's just so much different. Not better, not worse, just different. But, back then, armed with an xacto knife and an airbrush, I loved it.

Plus, the checks I got from Marvel had Spider-Man on them. Bonus.

This particular piece was for a Marvel Swimsuit Issue. Apparently Marvel was riding high at the time (before the days of its bankruptcy) and every year they'd put out a Sports Illustrated like swimsuit issue featuring some of its major characters. I know....silly....but, it gave me a bunch of work to paint.

So, I agreed to do a bunch of the interior pieces and when I opened this particular FedEx box out popped Steve Rogers, Captain America himself, in a WW2 inspired South Pacific photograph.

And, the best part? It was drawn by none other than one of my favorite artists, Adam Hughes.

Adam Hughes, for those of you not in the know, is simply an AMAZING artist! The guy can draw and paint circles around most comic book professionals out there. But, apparently something happened and he couldn't paint this piece himself. So, in steps young Sean Tiffany. Ha ha. This is probably the only time in my whole life that I'll be listed in any credits back to back with Adam Hughes. So, I have that going for me when it's time to start dropping names at the next big comic book social gathering. Ha ha.

I just hope I did a good job. Looking back, some of the detail I might put into the piece now is not there. But, who knows how long I had to paint this piece? Back then, if I got more than two days it was a long time. So, I'm sure I was just trying to go as fast as possible. But, I do like it. I like the washed out sepia tones I had to use to make it look like an old photo. Now, with computers and digital tchniques, there is so much more you could do to make it ook like an old photo. Now, it's almost too easy. But, back in 1995, this was as good as it got.

And, I must have liked it. It's one of only three or four pieces I kept from my Marvel days. And, that's out of probably hundreds of pieces I did for them.

So...Adam Hughes, Captain America, Sexy Island Girls, and Sean Tiffany.

Fun times, fun times.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why I'm Glad I Work From Home...

...or, why I'm glad my commute is only from the bedroom to the living room.

The last three months have been almost spring-like here in Colorado. We've had beautiful weather, no snow, and I can't remember the last time I wore a heavy coat outside. Of course, it messed up my internal clock and there has been talk of a drought in the summer but what can you do?

Last night, I went on a bike ride at eleven o'clock. I wore a sweatshirt, a vest, a hat and gloves. It was little chilly but nothing awful. Even when I finally went to bed at three am there wasn't a snowflake in sight.

So, when I woke up this morning and found that someone had built a snow table and snow chairs on my deck I, once again, thanked God, Mother Nature, Buddah, Allah, Ten Roman Gladiators, and the Ghost of Steve McQueen that I work from home.

The only bad part...there are no snow days in my line of work. Ha ha.

So, if you can draw two cars well...

...can you draw them well while crashing them into each other?

And so began the third cover for the Stone Arch Nascar books.

This book, titled "Stock Car Sabotage", is the story of a race car driver and his younger brother who worked in the garage. Through the course of the story, the younger brother suspects that someone from his own team is sabotaging the competition to let his brother win. Of course, through a little detective work and a well placed camera, the culprit is caught and dragged out in a scene very reminiscent of a Scooby-Doo, "if it wasn't for you meddling kids..." moment.

How can you not love drawing something like that?

As with the other covers, this one ramped up the challenge level for me. As if drawing cars wasn't hard enough, now I had to draw them crashing into each other, sparks flying, metal bending, and But I think it came out well.

Like the other covers, here is the initial design for the cars and the cover before the cropping police (or, my very cool art director) came into the picture.

And, since the colors for these cars weren't specified in the story, I gave the main car a Denver Broncos blue and orange paint job. Unfortunately, the numbers for the cars WERE specified or I would have made the lead car number seven.

I think John Elway would be proud.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

If One is Good, Two is Better!

If it was easy enough to do one car for a cover, then the next cover in the Stone Arch Books Nascar series would just have to get a little bit tougher.

Two cars, side by side, racing for the glory in a book titled "Race Car Rivals"!

Like with the first, I did this cover before I read the interior manuscript so it was up to my art director to lead the way and let me know what she wanted for the covers. It's always funny to do the cover first and then read the story second. Sometimes there are little details you wish you could change once you really know the story and how the characters deal with each other. But, in the case of this one, my art director was dead on and it fits with the story perfectly.

The story deals with a kid who's a huge fan of racing. Luckily for him, his uncle works with one of the local tracks and gets him in to meet one of the racers and spend the day with him. Unfortunately for the kid, it's the rival of his favorite racer. What starts out as a rocky relationship finally ends in friendship as the kid realizes his idol is not all he's cracked up to be and the driver who the press labels as a villain isn't that bad of a guy at all. It's fun to see this kid learn a bit of a lesson and apply it to his own go-kart racing life.

I really enjoyed this story and saw the cover as yet another challenge. Two cars at once, going head to head, and trying to make it look as exciting as possible.

As before, here are the initial designs for the cars (it was easier to submit these car designs for changes before I went and put them in the backgrounds and did all the special effects on them) as well as the original cover I submitted before being cropped and the type and title laid in.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Done and Done!

OK, I've been done with the latest Jake Maddox, Stone Arch books for over a week now so I figured it was finally time to get back to the blog. I know I've neglected it and I hope it forgives me.

The four books I spent the last eight to ten weeks working on focused on kids and Nascar racing. Now, I know I posted my first attempt at doing a cover for one of those books that was shot down. So, I figure it's only fair that I share with you the covers that got approved and will be lining school library shelves in the fall.

Like I said, before, I'm not the biggest car guy. I like my Jeep, I've had it for over twelve years, and it works fine. I don't lust after the newest car or read car magazines or really ever enjoy drawing cars. So, after I took this assignment I kind of regretted it. The problem was I had a few weeks lead time before I started it so too many negative thoughts ran through my head. But, I turned it around and looked at it as a challenge rather than a burden. I figured, if I'm going to have to draw cars for these next four books then I'm going to draw the best cars I can.

It seems to have worked out well.

The first book I illustrated was "Speed Camp." It featured kids going to camp and learning about racing, building a car, and then driving it. Of course, I did the covers first before I did the interior or even read the story. It was only after the cover was finished that I discovered the car I had designed and drawn had been built by the kids in the book. And, not only that, they painted it themselves and it only took them a day to do it! Man, if these kids can do a paint job like this in a day then they need to get a job somewhere and charge some high end rates.

So, here it is, the design of the car and my original cover design before it finally ended up on the cover of the "Speed Camp" book.

I guess I'm not so bad at drawing cars after all.