Monday, August 31, 2009

I Swore I'd Never Go Back

I went to college in northern New Jersey at a small place called the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Arts. I went there for three years, graduated, and continued working as an artist for both a small art studio and, later, Marvel Comics. I lived there until I just couldn't stand it any more and in 1996, on my 25th birthday, I left. I didn't know where I was going but I knew I couldn't stay there anymore. So, I packed up my newly aquired Jeep Wrangler and set out on the road.

The last time I set foot in New Jersey was 2003. And, after going, I swore I would never go back.

I guess "never" for me lasts about, oh, six years or so.

As I crossed the Tapan Zee bridge in New York state and headed south on 287 I snapped a few shots from the driver's seat of the mini-van my parents had graciously allowed me to borrow. It was an odd feeling seeing the sign come up saying "Welcome to New Jersey". There was no turning back now.

My first stop on the journey was at my friend Chris Wichtendahl's house in Denville. Another old college buddy, Rob Kelly, was going to meet us there and we were going to spend the night. I got to meet Chris' daughter, Sage, who I hadn't seen since she was still in diapers. She's now eight and we hit it off immediately. I think I made a new best friend in her when she said to me, "I like're just like me!" From an eight year old, I take that as a high compliment.

Rob, Chris, and I hung out most of the night until Rob and I fell asleep on his couch. I used my sweatshirt as a blanket. When Sage came out the next morning and asked if that was what I had used she told me she had tons of blankets in her room and she was too warm all night. I told her not to rub it in.

Chris went off to work and Rob and I were left to our own devices. We travelled west to Dover, the town we both gone to school in. We dropped by the school and saw how they had choppped the whole building in half. What used to be the school's parking lot was now a brand new Walgreen's. As much as nothing in that town had changed at all this new building was an odd sight. We went into the downstairs art store of the school and I ordered some new inking brushes. Unfortunately, the ones I have been using for the past fifteen years have been discontinued so I had to opt for a different model. We'll see how those work out when they arrive at my door in a few weeks.

Rob and I stopped for lunch at a local diner (the one thing I miss about New Jersey is that every town has a local diner and all of them are great...the west just has nothing to compare). We caught up some more over lunch. Rob had to take off early to get back home to south Jersey so he could email a client some sketches before the end of the business day. So, I was once again alone and making my way through more of my past.

I visited my first art boss, Mark McNabb. I had called him a few times with no answer. I figured I was close enough that I'd hate myself if I didn't try to go to his house and knock on the door. Luckily, he was home. I haven't seen him in six years and a lot has happened in his life since then. We sat on the couch of his living room and he told me stories. He's a great and moving storyteller and the time passed quickly. Before we knew it he had to get his daughter off to soccer practice and I was out the door once again and back on the road.

From the town of Lake Hopatcong I travelled south. I travelled through Morristown and Bernardsville. I hit the southern part of New Jersey and travelled west into Pennsylvania. Another friend of mine, Christine, had moved from north Jersey down to a town west of Philadelphia with her husband and, now, five kids.

Her house was beautiful as I arrived. She came out to the driveway and gave me a hug. She said the kids were excited to meet me. Christine is a fan of the art I do and, from what I can gather, in her kid's eyes, I'm some sort of rock star. They all wanted to get out of bed and see what this "famous" person looked like. Her oldest eight year old son loves the Jake Maddox books I do so I brought along the eight newest books for him. He now has a pile of them that he is reading through. He is the first one who asked me, "how did you get so famous?"

Her other kids slowly came down and peeked around corners at me to see what this God who walked among men looked like. I just had to laugh. They were all so cute.

I met Christine's husband, Chris, who was a great guy. They told me I'd have to sleep down in the basement that night. I was fine with that. I figured a cot on a basement floor would suit me fine. So, they led me down the stairs. What I saw was amazing. Their basement is bigger and nicer than anywhere I've lived in my whole life. I could easily move myself and a few friends in and still have more space than I know what to do with. So, sleep was easy.

The next morning I drew with sharpie markers all over the kids, giving them each custom tattoos of whatever they wanted. Then I accompanied Christine and the kids to Walmart to get some food for the Eagles Football game the kids were going to that night. I have never been in a Walmart with five kids before. It was quite the eye opener. I was constantly doing a head count to make sure no man was left behind. But, when the mini van door closed on the way home it seemed like everyone was accounted for.

I left Christine around three in the afternoon and made my way back through Philadelphia into south Jersey to see Rob again and share a dinner before I headed back towards Maine. After a great dinner and stories to tell Rob of what I had seen and heard in the last thirty hours I was once again on the road, heading north.

I left south Jersey around seven that night. The last boat from Maine to the island was an 11:30pm boat. With eight hours of driving in front of me I knew I'd never make it. But, the plan was to drive as far as I could and then figure it out from there. My Mapquest directions had me drive right up the Jersey Turnpike and I passed signs for Freehold and New Brunswick. I hit Newark and watched the planes come in. I hit New York City and went across the George Washington Bridge, through the Bronx, and into Conneticut.

And then I hit something I wasn't prepared for. I figured traffic would be light at ten o'clock at night. Maybe New York might get a bit backed up but once I hit Connecticut I figured I was home free. Nope. I didn't take into account night time road work where they funnel three lanes of traffic into one lane. The first trap I hit like this took me two hours to go three miles. But, I didn't mind. Where was I in a rush to anyways? I was going to miss the boat no matter what I did so I might as well relax. For part of the wait I watched Star Wars, Episode One through a mini van's back window in front of me. Once I got through a few more of these funnels I was home free.

But, I was getting tired. I ended up stopping at a rest stop on the Massachussets Turnpike and sleeping on the seats in the back of the van. It was a little tight but it's moments like that that make me thank God I'm not a big guy. Amazingly, I slept for four hours and woke up around 5:30 in the morning.

Then it was back on the road for the final push to Maine.

I arrived in Maine just in time to miss the 7:40am boat to the island and the next one wasn't until 9:15. I found a grocery store and bought myself a breakfast of a yogurt, bagel, banana, and milk. I sat in the van, watching the people start their days, eating my makeshift breakfast.

I caught the 9:15 to the island and before 10am I was back at my parents house. A quick shower and I hit the sack.

It had been a long, but very fulfilling and fun, four days. And I didn't vow this time that I would never return to New Jersey. So maybe this time I'll just stay away a year or two.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Edge of the Hurricane

Last week Peaks Island had the fortune (or misfortune) of being on the edge of the passing Hurricane Bill. Mix that with some very high tides brought on by the full moon and last week the back shore (the shore facing east, towards the open ocean) got pounded by a lot of very awesome waves.

My Dad piled my Mom, me, and two dogs into the car and we took a ride around the island, cameras in hand. It's a small island, only three miles wide at it's longest end and about five miles around. So, we were on the back shore in no time. And, we weren't the only ones.

Lots of people turned out to watch the awesome forces of nature hit the island. Some even tried to defy the forces of nature by sitting out on rocks and almost daring the waves to hit them. Of course, some got doused. And, of course, there is always the stories in the papers the next day of someone getting hit by a wave, sucked out by the undertow of the ocean, and drowning.

Luckily, no one on the island got killed. Just wet. Very very wet.

But it did make for a great day of taking photos. Churning seas, massive waves, and onlooking crowds made it hard to take a bad picture.

One of the spots we stopped and took a bunch of photos was a place called "Whaleback". It's a strip of rocks that looks like a humpback whale's long back.

Over the years I'm amazed it's still standing after taking the constant pounding from the ocean. My Mom says in the last few years pieces of it have eroded away but, over all, it's still standing strong.

To see how large the waves are click on the second photo and see if you can find the little people on the left watching the show. It makes it easy to see how one can get hit by a rogue wave and snagged out to sea before you even know what's going on.

And here is my Dad, rocking his Colorado pride, having a great time on a great day. He has the smile on his face of a happy little kid. Don't be surprised if this photo shows up on his Facebook page soon. I think it's a great shot of him.

So, thank you Hurricane Bill. Thank you full moon. And thank you Mother Nature.

You put on one hell of a show.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Back to the Island

So, yes, I did make my way back to Maine in one piece.

After a sketchy landing in Cleveland (the passengers all broke into cheers after the plane hit the ground and finally stopped) I hopped onto a smaller plane and it was a quick trip to Portland International Airport.

But, growing up on an island the trip doesn't stop at just a simple plane ride and someone picking you up at the airport in a car. Nope. From there, it's a ride on the ferry boat across the bay and onto Peaks Island.

It was great to be home, back to the place where I grew up. Not much has changed on the island. The houses all look a bit nicer with their new landscaping and new coats of paint but they are all in the same place and the roads that take you to them never change. It was warm and very humid when I first got here and I wasn't used to the feeling of never being completely dry, even after you get out of a shower and towel off. But things seemed to have settled and the cooling air of fall is on the way so it's felt great the last few days.

The biggest problem I did have with coming back home for a bit was stopping working. For the first few days I was here I'd wander around the house, wondering what I was supposed to be doing. I haven't had a proper vacation in two years. And, even then, when I was in Nashville, I brought work with me and was reading and laying out kid's books while I was there.

But, here in Maine, I found myself with nothing to do but sit and be still. It was hard the first few days. I even had slight headaches everyday from the constant adrenaline leaving my body but now I've lost all sense of what day it is so I think I'm finally relaxing.

I've restrung my father's acoustic guitar and I sit on the front porch, strumming away, watching the water and the sunsets. It's been very relaxing, which is just what I needed. Four years is a long time to not take a break and give yourself a rest so I'm glad my brain is finally calming down.

Of course, then I did a road-trip to New Jersey, a place I swore I would never to return to after the last time I was there. But, that's a whole other story...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I'm Off!

It's been almost two years since I last took a vacation out of town and, as I write this, I'm about fifteen minutes away from leaving the house, leaving the studio, and taking a two week vacation back to Maine.

And, even though it's been two years since my last vacation it's actually been four years since I've been back home to Peaks Island, Maine. It's been far far too long.

So, the posts might b a bit sporadic in the coming weeks. From the Vault Fridays might be a bit late. Or, if I can find something in my parent's closest it might be a look WAY back into the vault. I'll see what I can do.

But for now, it's time to go. The car is leaving and an airplane awaits me. I hope everyone is good and has a great rest of the week. When next you hear from me, it will be from two time zones away.

Take care!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jake Maddox-ed!

One of the last things I was asked to do for the latest round of Stone Arch Jake Maddox kid's books was to draw both myself and the author for the biography page in the back of the book.

I searched through a bunch of photos of myself until I found one I could stand. I'm not always the biggest fan of how I look and sometimes wonder why small children don't throw rotten fruit at me as I leave the house. They must always just miss me or I'm too quick for them.

But, anyway, here is what I would look like if I lived in the world of Jake Maddox sport's books for kids.

At least I have a smile on my face :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Done and Done!

I wrapped up the final book in the current contract I have with Stone Arch books this weekend. So, the four book series about the middle school boy's basketball team has been put to bed.

So, what do I do now?

I have three days to get my act together and then I'm on a plane headed back east to Maine. And, after that, who knows?

Usually once I finish a big job I go through a period of joy that I'm done and can finally relax. It takes a few days for the fear and angst to kick in and wonder what kind of job I'll do next and if I'll ever work again. Usually it takes a few days and, if I'm lucky, a week.

This time, I think that feeling came over me in a little under an hour.

Did I tell you vacations frighten me? Maybe that's why I haven't taken one in over two years.

Ah well, I'll survive. For now, I am off to have a celebration lunch at Einstein's Bagels. Have a great day!

Friday, August 14, 2009

From The Vault - Mike Wieringo Spider-Boy 1995

I thought putting up one of the pieces I painted for Marvel in the nineties was a fitting way to mark the passing of the cover's artist, Mike Wieringo.

I had been following Mike's blog for a while. It was really great and always fun. He always put up beautiful art and did almost daily warm-up sketches that would put most artists to shame.

It was this week, two years ago, on a Friday, where he said he had a busy weekend dealing with some house repairs but he would be back on Monday to resume the art and the blog.

That Sunday he died of a sudden heart attack. He was only 44 years old.

I had never met Mike in person and only got to paint over his art a few times. But, he was one of my favorite artists and was always an inspiration. That I got to paint this cover and that it actually saw print is still something I'm immensely proud of. In those days, most pieces I painted were used for promotional materials. So, even when I painted a cover chances were, when that issue came out, that my work was no where to be seen. This was one of the rare exceptions.

I do remember having to do this piece really quickly. It was sent by messenger to me one afternoon and I had to paint it that night and have it back into a messenger's hands the next morning. Even given the little amount of time to do the work I'm still proud of the results.

I'm proud that I got to work with Mike Wieringo, even if it was only for a little bit and even if he didn't ever know who I was. has posted a great retrospective of Mike's life and career. You can read it HERE.

Of all the art I did for Marvel over the years, I've only held on to a few pieces for my personal collection. This piece was one of them. Here are a few photos I took this morning of the original art- one of the art, one with a piece of white cardstock between the black and white line work and the colored board, and one with the transparency pulled up so you could see the color work I did.

You're still missed, Mike. You're still missed.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Inking Away

The inking on the latest kid's book continues.

I'm seven illustrations in and have three left, which I'm hoping to get wrapped up and scanned by tonight. Then it's just a matter of cleaning up the art and graying all the pieces.

After that it's just a matter of doing the author/illustrator illustrations and we can wrap this one up.

Speaking of, Steve Brezenoff, writer extraordinaire, who writes under the nom de plume Eric Stevens (who in turn writes under the name Jake Maddox...stay with me here, it gets easier) has a contest going on over at his BLOG. He is giving away a bunch of books he's written so for a chance to win, head on over there. And, if you want a preview of what his author illustration looks like he's posted the marker sketch I did for approval on his blog as well. I'm sure I'll be posting the finished art when it's done but, for now, it's an idea of what it's going to look like.

Also, ever since I watched the Jeff Smith documentary, The Cartoonist, I've really been thinking a lot about self publishing again. Somewhere, in the back of my head, I have that itch again to try something. I mean, I'm already working on something but now I REALLY want to work on something. So, once this final Jake Maddox book is done and I'm well rested again I'll have to see what happens.

For now, to scratch that itch just a little bit, I ordered a limited edition print of RASL, Jeff Smith's newest comic book. Hopefully that will keep me content for a few days.

OK, back to inking! Have a great day!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Playing Forward

My internet connection was acting a bit wonky yesterday so I never got a chance to put this post up. Sorry about that but better late than never.

The latest and final book in the current contract is all penciled and ready to go to inks. A few changes here and there and then the ink will begin flowing.

Actually, since this is a day late the ink has already been flowing and it's going really well so far. I was up until around 3m last night scanning the newly done pages back into the computer so I could add grays.

I'm also doing a few last minute artist and author illustrations for the back of each book. I've done the quick marker sketches to make sure everyone is happy with how they look (I'm never happy with how I look so drawing myself is always an angst ridden ordeal...but, I got it done.) I just need to make sure Steve, the writer, is happy with the way I portrayed him and I can continue on those.

The funny thing about the author illustrations is that I was asked if I could do them in a last minute email. Before I could say "yes, I could" or "no, I'm too busy" they had already sent the reference for the illustrations with a note saying "thanks, we look forward to seeing the results." I'm not sure if this is confidence in me or simply taking advantage of me. Once I get this work done and my head clears I'll have to think about that.

But for now, more inking inking inking! Have a great day!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Number 100!

While putting together today's entry I realized that this is my one hundredth blog posting on! Hooray for me! I know there was some doubt in my mind that I'd ever reach such a milestone (being that earlier this year there would be whole months that would go by where I didn't post a thing.) But, a kick in the ass from a few friends and I'm back on track.

So, how do you celebrate a hundredth blog post? I could have put up some new art I've been working on or the new photo I just took of all the kid's book pages I penciled this week. But, no.

I decided to spin my chair around from my art table and take a photo of the massive stack of finished artwork that lives behind me. Every one of these pages has art on it. Stone Arch Books pages, work from advertising, kid's magazines, commissioned work, and, yes, OilCan Drive comic book pages.

I pulled this pile out last night and strewed it across the living room floor so I could make some order of it. My plan was to get everything in order, even to go so far as to put every page of the forty six Jake Maddox kid's books I'd done into order. I left it, for the moment, at just putting things in piles. So, while the Maddox books aren't in order, they are all together and aren't mixed up with any other jobs.

The odd thing is the various incarnations of OilCan Drive stories I found. It was interesting, sad, and a little sobering to find that the current version I am on is number SEVEN! Geez. Rethink things much, Sean? The good news is that the basic concept has never ever changed. There are just different versions and different stories. Some are finished. Some are half done. Some are just a few pages. Some are even fully finished first issues and then half, if not almost all, of an unfinished issue two.

So, how does it all break down? Well, something like this:

Version 1: A full color mini-comic. It was a ten page complete story with sketches and such to fill out the page count. This one I actually released in a short print run. It was one year after I came up with the concept and was released on the first Free Comic Book Day, 2002.

Version 2: The origin story! I have no idea how many pages this thing was supposed to be but it was the story of how the band met each other and got together. I think it was going to be a big fat graphic novel. There are about twenty pages pencilled but nothing inked.

Version 3: Another graphic novel attempt. I was trying to do a page a day, fully pencilled and inked. I think I got about ten pages into it before stopping. I'm not sure where the story was going but it started with Ryan on the run from a rival band named the "Ass Clownz".

Version 4: Another mini-comic story. This time black and white but still a ten page story. This one wasn't self contained but would continue from issue to issue. The first book was finished and printed in a short run. The second book is fully pencilled, half inked, but never finished. Even the second issue continued but I never knew what happened after that. I also, for some reason did a fourth issue (skipping the third story) that is fully completed. These books also had a two page back-up story featuring another character in the OilCan Drive universe named Lily. She was an exotic dancer that had ties to the band's past.

Version 5: The full color, double page spead, book! This was a mix of a comic book, children's book, and record album. I did it so I could enter it into a mini-comic award show. The book was square, 8"x8", full color, and had an album of music included with it. I sent it off to both the award show and to a bunch of comics publishers. While most of the publishers I sent it to never sent me a response I did get some kudos from the awards show. I was even told I almost won. But, in the end the book was "too slick" to be a mini-comic. The one publisher I heard back from said the concept wasn't strong enough to be a comic book. So, too good to be a mini-comic, not good enough to be a regular comic. Stuck in the middle again. Because I was enjoying this format I did start a second book which is just one page shy of being completed. Then I got the feedback and was probably crushed so I abandonned version 5.

Version 6: Another attempt at a long form story. This time I wrote and entire film script to draw from. The page count for the script weighs in at around 120 pages. It's the closest thing I've come to to doing a full OilCan Drive movie where I knew what was going on and wasn't making it up as I drew pages. I did about eight pages of this story before realizing that 120 pages of written script is about 300 or so pages of drawn comic book. If I could take a year or two off this might be good but I am always trying to do my personal work in between all this client work I have. So 300 pages felt like it might take me forever. I had to rethink. I still love the script and plan on revisiting it soon, doing a final polish on it and then maybe doing 20-30 illustrations for it and releasing it as a printed script book. We'll see how that goes.

Version 7: The current version. After realizing that the scripted graphic novel was going to take forever and, chances were given my track record, that I'd never finish it, I reassesed things. I remember it was around Christmas. I had just completed eight books for Stone Arch and had another four coming my way to complete over the next few months. But, around Christmas, I had some time off to think.

The beauty of having started and stopped six previous versions of OilCan Drive is that I could look back and cherry pick the things I really liked and that made me happy. I liked the idea of doing shorter stories. Those I could get done and didn't feel like I was climbing up a mountain doing a 300 page graphic novel. I liked doing both black and white and color. One of the things I loved about starting the Version 6 is that I went back to try and use the same techniques I had done by hand in Exit 6. Using zip-a-tone, splattered ink from a toothbrush, stippling, but doing it in an easier, digital way. I also really loved doing pages in a square format like Version 5. Going from doing pages 8"x8" and then back to a regular comic size felt awkward. I liked doing full spread pages that moved the eye horizontally instead of vertically. It felt much more natural. And, I really liked doing the music for the book. I liked the idea of doing an OilCan Drive album.

So, the new book is going to mimic an old 7" record. The book will be black and white with a full color cover. It will be 6.75"x6.75" in a 7" full color record sleeve. It will come with a full album of music. And, with any luck, I'll actually finish this one and put it out there into the world. Right now, I am three pages shy of having the whole thing inked.

So, we'll see how it goes.

I think I have enough people and support behind me on this one that it will come out. I feel, after six attempts, that I've found the format OilCan Drive can exist in. Or, maybe not. Maybe there will be a version eight.

Only time will tell.

We'll see where things stand when I hit the 200 mark on the blog! But, for now, have a great day!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

OilCan Drive Maquettes

While my sculpture still sits in the fridge waiting to be worked on, Monika has been busy on her own line of OilCan Drive maquettes.

Her first subject was Nicole, the drummer for the band. Before I had even gotten a decent nose on my guy she was already almost totally done with hers. Now, just to rub it in, she's painted her sculpture and is on to the next one. As you can see from these photos, not only is Nicole done but Monika has already started on Henry, the best bass playing ape in the world.

At this rate she'll have the whole band done before I get any time freed up to get back to my sculpture. But, it's looking great and I'm flattered that she's sculpting my characters. It's a really great feeling that I'm not the only one out there in the world who cares about the characters in my head. Thanks, Monika!

Friday, August 7, 2009

From The Vault - Schwinn 1998

In 1998, while I was doing my self published comic book EXIT 6, I was approached by Schwinn Bicycles to do a few comic books featuring their bikes and members of their racing and stunt team.

Each catalog would feature not only new products from the company but a short comic book story where the racing team members were heroes and fighting every bad monster and demon that got in their way.

I didn't write any of the stories and took my direction from the art director assigned to me. The first story featured some demon women who were trying to seduce the team. But, of course, using their bikes, they fought back and saved the day. It was kind of a corny story where the team would do tricks on their bikes to break the demons' hold over them. But it was a paying gig and made me draw a bicycle for the first time.

The unfortunate part was, because I was doing my own book at the time, Schwinn decided to plug my name and address in the catalogs to help promote me. It was a really great gesture and I wish more clients would do it. But, I didn't foresee some of the interesting mail I might get because I drew a bunch of guys on bikes fighting demons.

Here is one of the more interesting letters I found in my PO Box one night:

"Dear Mr. Tiffany,

I took my son of age 7 to shop for his first bike. Having bought cycles from the local Schwinn dealer before, we made it our first stop. After a few minutes of consultation with the salesman, he produced a "catalog" that was subtitled "Flying South, A Tale of Subterranean Terror." I did not pay much attention to it until we came home and wanted to review some of the details of the bike.

To my surprise the catalog featured a comic book styled story of demonic women who prey on unsuspecting travelers. What did you hope to accomplish with this story? (get paid!) Better yet, what redeeming value does the story have? By your own admission it is a "sick and twisted tale." (Schwinn's words...not mine...I didn't write the thing)

Allow me to point out some points from your story that make it particularly twisted. Firstly, the demonic women are well built, sexy in a perverted way, and provocatively dressed. (thank you...I thought it was going well here and my artwork was being praised) Having studied a bit about real demons (uh-oh) I know that they are actually disgustingly ugly and frightful beyond human understanding. Your characterization of them has helped diminish their repulsiveness, making it easier for people to accept evil as OK (you do realize they were the bad guys, right?)

Secondly, a few young men were able to defeat these demons with their own strength and their bicycles! (it's because Schwinn racing team members RULE!) What foolishness! (uh-oh again) Again, this kind of thought only diminishes the true danger that real evil has and makes it more likely to be tried. (riding your bike makes you try evil...OK)

Finally, I'd like to thank you for helping to bring future generations of parents closer to God. (hey, I do my best) Tragedies like the Littleton, Colorado shootings help people remember to pray and your comics will do just that! (did she just compare my comic book to the Columbine shooting???) Yes, kids across America will read your twisted stories and become desensitized to the evil that they perpetuate and, who knows, they may befriend a real demon!"

Geez, I feel like I'm back in the 50's and the Wertham witch hunt is breathing down my neck! Comics are bad and the root of all evil! Geez lady, get over yourself. Go blame video games and TV and the internet while you're at it. Actually, I'm sure they all got letters too. This woman seems like the type of person who thinks the world would be a great place if it weren't for the rest of the people on the planet messing it up for her.

So, yeah, this Schwinn job got me my first ever real piece of hate mail from a crazy lady. Cross that off the list of things I need to happen in my life.

Crazy hate mail...check.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Cartoonist

Ack! This week has totally gotten away from me. I decided to take a day off on Tuesday after finishing the last Jake Maddox book. That one day spilled over into two days and now I wake up and find, somehow, it's already Thursday. Oops.

So, today I start the last Jake Maddox book in the current contract I am in. Blue line pencils today, regular penciling for the next two or three days, then, hopefully, if all goes well, onto inking again.

One interesting thing I watched in the last two days is a DVD that was delivered to my doorstep called, "The Cartoonist: Jeff Smith, Bone, and the Changing Face of Comics."

The official press release for the DVD reads:

"The Cartoonist is a portrait of Columbus-based cartoonist and Bone-creator Jeff Smith and his impact on the field during the past 20 years. The Wexner Center is pleased and proud to host the film's world premiere, introduced by both Smith and director Ken Mills.

The film surveys Smith's career during the run of Bone and also captures the key moment when he shifted focus from completing his popular epic to beginning new projects, including Rasl. Shot during the run of Smith's Wexner Center exhibition Bone and Beyond in 2008, the film is filled with interviews with fellow cartoonists including Harvey Pekar, Terry Moore, Paul Pope, and Scott McCloud. Director Ken Mills is cofounder of Columbus-based Mills James Productions."

It was an interesting viewing experience. Unlike watching a documentary of say, Nirvana, where you can watch and remember where you were at that time in your life, you really weren't a part of that struggling music scene so you can watch with the eye of an outsider. With "The Cartoonist", things that happened in that movie I lived through. People like Jeff Smith, Scott McCloud, and Terry Moore were the heroes I had when I was doing my own self published comic book in the mid-to-late 90's. Hearing them talk about the hardships they had to overcome where some of the same things I went through. Of course, they all made it and had successful books and I had to fold mine after issue three.

Jeff Smith is a modern American success story.

It made me realize, for all the interviews you read about how someone overcame incredible odds to make it where they are today, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who did the same thing, tried the same ideas, and fell flat on their ass.

No one ever wants to interview the guy who gave it his all and failed though. ha ha.

So, yes, the first viewing was a little rough for me. But, I've watched it many times since and, upon further viewing, I really enjoy it. Once again Jeff Smith is an inspiration to keep going and to keep drawing and to keep doing comic books.

OK, back to the drawing board. I am going to pop in the DVD of "the Cartoonist" again and draw the day away! Have a good one!

Monday, August 3, 2009

One More Down!

Another weekend over and another Jake Maddox book is done and uploaded to the FTP site.

This marks the forty-fifth book I've done in the Jake Maddox series. I have one left in the current contract which I'm starting this week. So, hopefully, if nothing terrible happens, I'll have this series wrapped up in about two weeks.

Then what happens? Well, then I plan to take two weeks off, go back east to Maine, see some family and friends, and just relax for a little while.

And after that, who knows? The freelance life is nothing if not interesting. You never know where the next phone call or email will take you.

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Art Transitions

Here is another Windows Movie Maker test I did really quickly when I found a bunch of JPEGs I had saved showing the steps I take to make a piece of colored art.

From basic sketch, to pencils, to inks. And then onto flat colors and then into a shaded figure it all comes together into a figure of Ryan Burke from OilCan Drive.

I do wish some of the transitions lined up a bit better but, all in all, you get the idea.

OK, back to inking. Today is the last day I have to finish this kid's book. I have one more illustration to ink and then a few more to add grays to. I think I'm ahead but I hope it doesn't turn into a late night. Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Don't Look So Desperate

My art has shown up on YouTube for the band, So Long Lisa's, first single, "Don't Look So Desperate."

As Cirian Devlin, the bass player and guy who contacted me to do their cover, puts it:

"If you guy remember I posted a few weeks ago about how my band placed in a battle of the bands. We got 2 days paid recording in a local studio. Here's one of the the results.

We are So Long Lisa - a three piece power pop punk band from the big/small town of Ballymena, Northern Ireland.

"7 Signs You're A Super Hero" will be released, come the Summer of 2009 and we can't wait for you guys & girls to hear it!

So, there you go. Before I could even get my own artwork for OilCan Drive up on YouTube, someone's already beaten me to it. Enjoy the artwork and the song.