Friday, May 29, 2009

From The Vault - Electronic Gaming Monthly Wrestling Article 2004

I did this double page wrestling spread for Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine back in 2004.

Not too much to say about it now, I guess. I know this was the first piece I had done for them (I had done one or two previously) where I was actually drawing like myself. The previous pieces were mimicking other people's styles so it was nice to finally just do my own thing. Unfortunately, from what I remember, they weren't too keen on me being doing my own thing.

This was the last piece I did for that magazine.

Looking back, I think that's why there are weird tick marks on the inks. I was trying to salvage the piece after the editor above the art director I was working with asked for it to be "more realistic". Ah well, while they might not have liked it, I'm sure I was happy with it at the time.

And, while looking for some old art to put up on the blog for "From the Vault Fridays" I came across some of the first song recordings I must have attempted sometime back in 2002 or so. Wow. Even I couldn't listen to one song the whole way through. That I continued (and still continue) to keep writing and playing music is a testament to just how far I can pull the wool down over my own eyes.

Maybe I'll share some of those recordings next Friday.

Or, maybe I'll spare you all some ear bleeding and keep them to myself. Eek.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Stone Arch Books Interview

An interview I did a few months ago is now up on the Stone Arch Books blog.

In it I answer questions about how I became an illustrator, my work method, and what I was like as a kid.

I did this interview a few months back but their posting of it is very timely as I'm right in the middle of doing a new book in the Jake Maddox series.

You can take a look at the interview HERE.

OK, back to work...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Inking Away

So I am taking the extra day of the three day holiday weekend to try and catch up on some of the work I am doing for the Stone Arch Jake Maddox books.

Much to the dismay of my relationship and Monika, I spent all day Sunday inking away, trying to get as much done on the new basketball book as I can. My thinking is that if I get a lot of the kid's book work done, since no one will be in the office on Monday, I can then spend Monday doing some work on the OilCan Drive project.

So, here is a photo of me inking Sunday away. The good news is that I am in a good spot with the kid's book. I can spend most of the day Monday working on OilCan Drive and chipping away at those pages. The bad news is that I learned I should probably take Sundays off and spend some more time with Monika.

I do love Monika but Art is a hard mistress to beat. But, I'll try to get more done this week so I can take next Sunday off.

I promise.

Friday, May 22, 2009

From The Vault - Jeff Lafferty Project Inks 1999

I'm not sure of the exact story behind these pieces or how they came to be. But here's how I remember it.

From what I recall my friend, Jeff Lafferty, had been commissioned to do a short comic book story for some company or another. After starting it there was some discussion about if I would help him out on the project. Maybe just do inking on the project, maybe do full finishes, I don't remember.

But, the story was about a young sorceress/magician/witch who had a small dragon as a pet. Sounded simple enough.

So, I did these pieces to see how mine and Jeff's styles would mix.

I think these pieces weren't actually me inking over Jeff's work but me tracing over his drawings, giving a touch of my own style to them, and then inking away. I say that only because while I can see Jeff's style in there I also see a lot of my own.

I'm not sure what ultimately became of the project but I do know these were the only two pieces I did.

Jeff now has an excellent website where he does commissioned sketch cards and prints. It's really amazing stuff and it makes me wonder why he ever let me ink this stuff in the first place. As you can see, the guy kicks a whole lot of ass all by himself. And, the most amazing thing about his new work is that he paints the cards, which are about 2.5"x3.5", at ACTUAL SIZE!!! How he gets that much detail into such a small space is still beyond me. But, it's really great stuff. You can check it out for yourself HERE.

So, while these are the only two pieces we did together I think our styles mesh really well. If they didn't this piece wouldn't have caught my eye as I was flipping through my portfolio for Friday's Vault. So, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Back to the Maddox

The newest Jake Maddox sports book is well underway so I thought I'd take a quick photo of my drawing table to show you all the fun that's going on.

Character sketches, a group photo sketch, a book of thumbnails, and one of the pages I've started drawing in blue blue pencil can all be seen.

I usually spend a day or two penciling out the entire book in non-repo blue pencil. Then, once I get all the layout and basic construction out of the way, I'll go back in with a regular pencil and fill in a lot of the details. So far, so good. I'm hoping to pass the half way mark with the pencils tomorrow.

Also, while I was going through the images on my camera I came across these two great photos of Monika. Here she is playing "Little Jerry", a Jerry Jones guitar that I bought when I was out in Nashville visiting a friend. I found these two pictures and thought, "how can I not share these photos of my two favorite things?"

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Second Guessing

I've been inking away on the new OilCan Drive project for a little over a week now and have almost completed a quarter of it.

I've found the deeper I get into the project the more self-critical I've been getting on myself. I want everything on this project to be just perfect so if an ink line gets too thick or a character's eye is not inked just right it drives me nuts. The last day I was inking I was really doubting myself and the project as a whole.

I'm not sure if it's just this project or some recent comments I've gotten about my work. Nothing really bad, but just some comments someone made about what I could do to "improve" my work. It's funny how hundreds of people can say you're great and doing a good job but if one person says a bad thing that's what you focus on. So, those comments to improve my work really have me second guessing a lot of what I've been doing lately. Even work that, just a few weeks ago, I was really enjoying.

In the end, I just want OilCan Drive to be the best that it can be.

I'll be putting the project aside for a week or two to focus on the next Stone Arch Jake Maddox book. Right now I'm just trying to push those comments out of my head and do the work the best I can. There is nothing fun about going into a project, any project, whether it's personal or professional, already full of doubt and second guessing yourself.

Hopefully, once I get this book done, my head will be clear again and I can go back to OilCan Drive with some fresh eyes and fired up to work on it again. I've really been happy with the way it's gone so far. The pages are getting done and I have ten new songs written and arranged, just waiting for me to record them.

I just want it to be great and have a lot of fun doing it. Having fun. It's art. It's drawing. Fun should be the most important thing about it.

Hopefully, in a few weeks, I'll remember that.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Gutting my Childhood...

How did we go from this awesome 80's cartoon movie soundtrack anthem:

To this 2009 song full of emo feelings, rap breakdowns, and falsetto choruses:

Can someone please explain to me why my childhood is continually being gutted and raped for the new millennium?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown

I'm going to forego the usual "From The Vault" blog post this week because I am off to buy the new Green Day album.

Even with all the leaks and websites streaming the entire album I've done my best to wait to hear it until I can buy an actual CD and hold it in my hands. And, today is that day.

I've been so excited for this album that I actually had a dream last night that I woke up this morning and it was already Friday. I was hanging out with the band and congratulating them on the day finally coming when their album was being released. We all went off looking for the venue that the band was going to play that night. Then I woke up and it was still only Thursday.


Yes, I have odd dreams.

So, yeah, I'm off to buy a CD and have a listen. It's going to be a good Friday!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Just when I was preparing for a nice day of inking pages I get an automated phone message from XCel Energy telling me that there will be a "scheduled" blackout today from noon until five. I know it's for the better as the technicians will be installing the new boxes for Boulder's "Smart Grid", but still...I really wanted to ink this page today.

Ah, well. I guess I'll just have to start it tonight.

Maybe I'll go down to the movie theater and see "Wolverine" or "The Soloist". I'd see "Star Trek" but since I didn't know the energy outage was scheduled for today I went and saw it yesterday. Or maybe I'll just take a drive in the mountains in my jeep.

That is, of course, depending on if I can get the automatic garage door open to get my car out.

Maybe a nap...

Part One....DONE!

The pencils for a personal project I am working on are DONE!

Now, on to the inks!

Friday, May 8, 2009

From the Vault - Emily 2007

Every once in a while, after doing countless kid's books and kid's magazines and kid's advertising, it's fun to just draw a sexy girl.

I met Emily Memorial Day Weekend, 2007, through Monika. Monika's madrigal singing group had roped me into being the sound engineer and producer of their album and it was on that day that I met the other members of her group, Annika, Dana, Leah, and Emily.

What the girls thought would be a walk in the park and wouldn't take more than a weekend of their time ended up taking over a year to finish. Just trying to get the girls to find the time to come up to Boulder and record their individual vocal tracks was hard. But, it finally got done and I was really proud of the way the album turned out. For a sample of the music, you can find the CD HERE.

And, during this time, Emily had a photo up on her Facebook page that caught my eye. Using it as reference I created the piece above. The lines inside her arms and body were meant as reference guides for the shadows if I ever painted the piece. I never did get a around to it but I think Emily was happy with the result nonetheless.

The original is hers and I hope she has it somewhere special.

So, now I've drawn Monika and Emily. Unfortunately Monika bowed out of the group this year before I had a chance to draw any of the other girls. But, it was always a plan of mine to make them all works of art.

Ah well, maybe someday. Two down, three to go.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

So Long Lisa CD Cover

While OilCan Drive's version of "It Ain't Me, Babe" didn't get many comments on the music boards the art I did for the cover sure did.

And yes, they were good comments.

So, being the nice guy I am, I agreed to do a few CD covers for some of the up and coming bands who liked my work.

One of these bands is called "So Long Lisa", a punk rock trio from Northern Ireland. The band's bassist, Ciaran, contacted me through one of the message boards and asked if I'd draw him and his two other band mates for an upcoming EP of music they're planning to put out. He pretty much gave me full creative control to do what I wanted.

So, I did a basic image of the three guys and adopted some of their existing ideas into the background. All in all, I think it came out well and Ciaran was very happy.

So, look for their EP, "Seven Signs You're a Superhero", due to come out sometime in the summer. For now, you can check out what the band's up to on their MySpace page: So Long Lisa.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Getting the band back together!

As I said before, it was really nice to do that last OilCan Drive piece and have the band all on the same page again. I liked it so much, in fact, that a few pages of my notebook became devoted to sketching out other ideas I could do to put the band together.

Most of them are ideas for record sleeves or CD covers. The trouble is thinking of a generic enough image that could be used in a variety of places but still be specific enough to get across an idea of what the band is about.

This will also give you a good idea of how I get ideas out of my head and onto the page. Unfortunately, nothing ever starts out as a completely finished piece. Most ideas I have come out just like this to begin with.

Seven Inch Record Sleeve, front and back:

I needed a good image that could wrap around an old seven inch record sleeve. It needed to get across the idea that this is a band, it's the future, and it's a fun concept.

After watching "Grease" last week, the image of the guys posing after singing "Greased Lightning" stuck in my head. I figured the band posing, while flying in a hot-rod like airship, with Henry the gorilla hanging on for dear life from the back, would make an excellent image.

CD Covers:

The next batch of images needed to be a single, strong image that could fit on a small CD package and still get the point across.

My first idea was a Drew Struzan-like layout with one giant head (Ryan) surrounded by a full figure of Henry and smaller heads of the other two members of the band (Vince and Nicole).

I like the idea but it really doesn't get the point across. I may just pencil it out anyway, just to see how it turns out.

It's hard to hate a Drew Struzan inspired piece.

This next one was more of an iconic image.

Ryan and Vince, the two guitar players in the band, stand back to back, while the other two sit back on the sides.

This piece works and feels like an actual band's photo shoot. The idea of the band actually posing for the photos led me to more ideas.

So, I decided to do a few pieces with one member of the band as the focus and the others in the background, supporting them.

First up was Nicole because, honestly, she's a girl, sexy, hot, and it's never not fun to draw her.

My idea is that while posing for a promotional shot the rest of the band happened to come up behind her and get an eyeful. Maybe a bit of her undies are showing. Or maybe not. I just wanted the boys to give a little bit of "oh my" look to see their drummer in a sexy position.

Gathering steam off of the Nicole idea, I wondered how the rest of the band would act behind each member that was posing.

Vincent is the serious member of the band. He's all business all the time. An image of him standing stoic, arms folded, just seemed natural.

To have the rest of the band hamming it up behind him, making faces, putting fingers up behind his head, was all their idea.

I'd hate to be them when Vince finally figures out what is going on.

And, last but not least, I thought I'd show a little bit of Henry's "Cowardly Lion" side by having his showcase piece feature him backing away in fright.

The rest of the band is behind him, maybe scared just as much by what he's seeing. Or, maybe they're just scared that he'll back up too much and squish them against the wall.

Monika doesn't like this piece too much because she says it's confusing, uninviting and, while it might make a good comic book cover, is a little too confusing for a CD cover.

So, what do you think? Any winners in the bunch? Any pieces I shouldn't give the time of day? Any I should just chuck and not spend one more minute of wasted time on?

I'm curious to hear...

Friday, May 1, 2009

From the Vault - Ironstar 2000

Ironstar was a mini-graphic novel (I say mini because it was a complete story but only ran for 64 pages) that was the brain child of an old Kubert school alumni, Chris Wichtendahl.

It was after I had ended Exit 6 and I was in the middle of drawing a comic book for someone else that I just wasn't having any fun with. So, when Chris brought up the idea of working together and sent me the synopsis of this book I signed on. I bailed on the other book (I didn't feel too bad about it because I wasn't being paid for fact, on that book, the writer spent more money on a lawyer to have contracts drawn up to make sure I wouldn't get paid than just throw some money my way) and started planning out Ironstar.

It's a great concept and since I'm not the writer behind it I thought it might be better to hear about the concept in Chris' own words:

"In a far-distant future, the survival of Earth and all the planets of the Allied Systems will depend on Stef Astra, the half-breed offspring of an infamous Ironstar and her sentient battlesuit.

Exiled from her homeworld to the Outer Colonies, it is hoped by many in power that Stef will meet her end at the hands of the Digital Men. Ironstars and Federal Marines have fallen by the score to that army of robotic invaders from the Fringe, and the galactic government is having trouble keeping the war a secret from those on the core planets any longer.

Following the destruction of her transport, Stef will fight alone, with only two stoned robots and the last of the legendary Friend Ships to aid her.

Arrayed against this tiny band are the mechanical hordes of the Digital Men and their master, the malicious ancient cyborg Tholan Vekk."

The book was special to me for a number of reasons. One, it was the longest story I had drawn in one shot. Also, it was at a time when I was really getting into music so I would put various patches on the characters of the bands I was into at the time. And, while drawing one of the city-scapes I happened to put a few street signs up to let the viewer know where they were. One of those streets names?

Oilcan Drive.

Ironstar is still available for purchase. You can find a print book HERE or an e-book digital download HERE.