Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

I just took a few shots of things I have around the house on a year round basis that makes the place always look in some sort of Halloween mood.

It should be an interesting night here in Boulder, CO. With talks of reviving the long defunct Pearl Street Mall Crawl, another year of the Naked Pumpkin Run, an at home CU football game (that they are in the midst of losing) and the bars being open for an extra hour tonight due to the daylight savings time change, according to the Boulder Police, all hell may break loose. They are already shutting down the Pearl Street Mall parking garages early so no one can park and they also have plans in place to actually shut down the main highway road into town, Route 36, if it gets too rowdy.

I fully expect to wake up tomorrow morning watching half of Boulder burning to the ground. After all this build up between the police and the local newspaper anything less would just be a disappointment.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

From the Vault - Who You Gonna Call? 1989

Just in time for Halloween, the fifth Ghostbuster himself, Rick Moranis!

This piece was obviously done for my first year caricature class at the Joe Kubert School back in 1989. I'm not sure what the assignment was at the time but clearly I was gung-ho about doing Mr. Moranis for the piece.

I'm guessing I inked the piece with the brush I was still learning to use at the time and the color looks to be either Dr. Martin's Dyes or gouache. The first year at art school there was a lot of experimenting going on with different materials and methods. They filled a big box for all of us new students with tons of supplies so the first few years are really just trying to figure out what techniques and media suited you best. I wouldn't even get into airbrushing until a year later (although I do remember borrowing a few fellow student's airbrushes in that first year to spray in some backgrounds on some pieces.)

And how about that four fingers on each hand technique? I know I took that from an early age from animation, probably Walt Disney. I'm sure it drove my instructors crazy. I finally had to move to drawing the actual five fingers on each hand at some point but I don't know when it happened.

So, for all the clients out there that say "watch the hands, you draw them too big"... Hey, it could be worse. The could only have four fingers.

Happy Hallow's Eve, everybody!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Snow and Pumpkins

It's just not Colorado unless we get some kind of snow before Halloween. But, geez, it's been snowing here for two days straight! Enough already! I want to get back on my bike and clear my head at some point soon! Did we even HAVE a summer? Much less some sort of autumn...


I figured the shots of the almost carved pumpkins near the deck and all the snow makes for a good photo. It definitely puts into full focus the way the seasons work around here. Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer always seem to be competing in Colorado, no matter what time of year it is.

Art continues to go well. I'm right in the middle of the newest Stone Arch Jake Maddox books so OilCan Drive had to take a backseat the last day or two. But, I figured I'd show you what I got done before I put it down and picked back up the paying jobs.

Hopefully the band in my head will get their second wind once I go out and brave the snowy roads tonight to go see Dinosaur Jr. perform here in town at the Boulder Theater. I've seen them once before and it was a great show. Loud, but a really great show. So, I'm looking forward to it.

OK, back to work on the kid's books. I hope all of you out there who don't have snow yet can appreciate autumn for me just a little bit longer. Go out and ride a bike for me!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


John Christner moved into the condo unit next door to me a few years ago. He was a man in his late seventies, always friendly, and always kind. His sister had bought the condo so he would have a place to live in Colorado, closer to his family, after living much of his life in California. He had a job at the local Target as a cashier so he always got great deals on DVDs. He was always nice to me and Monika. We always stopped to talk to him in the halls and he would happily lend us the newest DVD movies he bought so we could talk about them.

John’s sister had bought him a laptop computer so he could keep up with emails and news on the web. It was more than once that he knocked on my door or called me over so I could help remind him how to get onto his email. I don’t know what he did to that computer but it was always slow so I ended up spending more than a few hours over at his place.

So, when I heard the knock on my door yesterday afternoon I assumed it was John, once again looking for help with his computer. It had been a while since I had passed him in the halls or he’d come knocking so I was looking forward to seeing him and catching up.

I opened the door to a uniformed policeman. He told me that my neighbor had passed away. I immediately asked, “John?” He answered yes and asked if I had heard anything the night before. I thought it was an odd question but I told him I hadn’t.

John had killed himself the night before by slitting his wrists.

His sister had found him yesterday and called the police. She told them John had been depressed for a while. I knew he was lonely and I knew he was having some health problems but I didn’t know the depth of his depression. I was absolutely stunned.

I am numb now. It’s really making me look at my life in a whole new way. Most suicides you hear about are kids in their teens or early twenties. I always figured if you could make it out of those years you’d be all set. That those feelings would go away. But, maybe they don’t ever go away. I didn’t think about how it might feel when your body starts failing you. Or how looking back at your life and the choices you made might haunt you. Or wondering how the hell you ended up working in your golden years at a place like Target. Or how truly lonely life can be.

I think about these things now and it frightens me.

I’ll miss seeing John in the halls and helping him out with his computer problems. I look back and wish I could have helped more. I wish I would have spent more time with him or invited him over more often.

I remember once, a few months ago while helping John with his computer, him telling me how his mother had passed away recently. He was almost crying about it while telling me the story. Now, I’m not the best person to deal with things like that at the best of times. I didn’t know how to deal with a grown man, old enough to be a grandfather, breaking down in front of me. I didn’t know what to say. It’s easy to tell someone my age or younger that life would get better. I promise. For a man of my age to tell a man of his age that it would all get better seemed trite so I kept my mouth shut. What did I know? I didn’t know if it would get better or not for a man his age.

Apparently for John, it never got better.

But it still doesn’t help that I really wish I could go back to that moment, put my arm around this kind older man and tell him, yes, it will get better. I promise.

I’ll miss you, John, and I‘m sorry.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Inking Away

With a few free hours today, while waiting for some feedback from a client, I hit the desk and started inking some of the penciled pages that have accumulated on the OilCan Drive project.

I plan on trying to do a little bit more of the OilCan Drive stuff during the day while still doing the client work. Day one of this plan is working out well.

So far, so good.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Here is the last penciled OilCan Drive piece to come off of my art table before the client work begins again. As I've said before, I'm going to try and work my schedule to see if I can do both the client work and the personal OilCan Drive work at the same time. I usually wait until I get a big chunk of time off from client work before diving back into the personal stuff but I am loving the personal work too much this time to just let it go for months on end. So, we'll see how that turns out.

Another thing I'm having to remind myself to do as I pencil out these personal pieces is to actually sign my work. What a weird thing, to actually have to remind yourself to sign your own work.

But in recent years I've found, particularly when doing client work, that one of the client's requests is that you not sign any of your work. I don't know when this came about or why. I don't know if it is a personal issue with a client or the result of some focus group where people said a signature on a piece of art really confused them. I just don't know. But, it's gotten to the point where, even when I do my own work, for myself, I have to remind myself I CAN sign my work.

Imagine a time when a publisher would ask a Norman Rockwell not to sign his work. Picasso? No, thanks...we love your work but please don't sign it. Da Vinci? No, we're good without letting the public know who drew this piece.

It's amazing the compromises you'll make for a paycheck.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Back to the Desk

This past week I've had a great time drawing my band, OilCan Drive.

I just keep putting the four of them into situations and seeing what might happen. To be honest, I'm searching for images for the covers of the comic book, the CD cover, and the record sleeve. But, even after doing six pieces this week nothing is looking iconic enough to be any of these things.

So, I just keep on drawing. If nothing else, the band is having fun posing for these "photos". I figure I'll come up with the covers at some point.

For now it's just fun to be drawing something for myself.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

OilCan Drive Collector Card Box

A few days ago I talked about merchandising and Michael Allred's Madman X50 Cards. After finding the images for the card sets online I dug back into a few boxes in the closest and pulled out the actual decks to take a look at them.

I still love these card sets. Between the two decks there are a hundred cards done by a lot of great artists in the comic book, illustration, and animation field. But what I really love about the set is the box the cards came in. It's not like any other set of cards where you buy the wrapped cards and try and build a set by buying and trading them. No, they came as a complete set in a great little collector's box.

I looked a lot at the box as I examined the cards. I checked out how the printing was done and how it was put together.

And then, just to see if I could do it, I built my own OilCan Drive trading card box.

I took the art I had created for an old OilCan Drive CD Cover and tweaked it a bit to fit the design. I didn't want to get too fancy in case the whole experiment was a bust. But, I also didn't want to just wrap a self constructed box in white. I wanted some of my art on there somewhere. The CD cover proved to be a perfect piece of art to use. The pre-distressed look I used on the CD, making it look used and worn, would only help when I folded the art around the box.

The box is basically constructed from chipboard, scored and folded to make the top and bottom halves of the box. Then, the art is printed on a basic Avery 8.5x11 label stock, cut, and wrapped around the box. The label folds and wraps in such a way that it actually strengthens and holds the box together. I was actually amazed that it worked so well on my first go round and the box is really sturdy and looks great. I filled it with a bunch of chipboard cut down to trading card size.

I now had my own trading card box. But, what to put in it?

I've had a lot of ideas about trading card sets in the last few days. The easiest answer is to just do a set of 50 cards or so that feature OilCan Drive, the band, the cast, some adventures, stuff like that. It would be simple and to the point.

But, what if I could create not just a trading card set but some sort of card game. Maybe nothing as big as Magic: The Gathering or Pokemon, but maybe an OilCan Drive drinking card game. I think that would be fun and funny and I'm sure Ryan, the lead singer of the band, would approve.

But, maybe a card game is not the idea. Maybe OilCan Drive's next comic book adventure could be told as a card set. 50 cards means 50 panels of a comic book story waiting to happen. Package it all in a nice box like this and you might have something. And it would be an interesting storytelling exercise.

And then the experiment grew in my head. If you can tell a sequential story with 50 cards could you tell a non-sequential story in 50 cards? What I mean is, could you take the cards from the deck, place them in any order, and still tell a comprehensible story? Now that idea intrigues me but also makes my brain hurt. It's an idea almost worthy of Scott McCloud himself.

So, what might an OilCan Drive card set consist of? For now, I still don't know.

But it's nice to have ideas in your head where the possibilities are endless.

Friday, October 23, 2009

From the Vault - Slash Shot 1988

And here I always thought that EXIT 6 was my first comic book concept. Apparently not. A look under my bed in Maine produced these pieces of art from 1988.

"Slash Shot" looks to be a nice blend of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (one of my favorite childhood concepts) and hockey (one of my favorite childhood, and adult, sports). Add in a kid who uses a yo-yo as a weapon (something I'm sure I ripped off of Battle of the Planets) and you have "Slash Shot."

I even found these story pages. Looking at them now it looks like a few neighborhood kids are taking the law into their own hands and going out at night to fight all the evil-doers out there.

Yes, it's simple, derivative, and childish, but what do you expect from a kid in the 80's?

I was also apparently into a gray wash technique at this time. It's something I'm sure I was doing to try and mimic what Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were doing in the Turtles books. I didn't know then, like I do now, that they were using duo-shade board to produce their gray tones. It's a certain kind of paper that, when used with a special chemical, produces gray tones by revealing lines or dot patterns. I'm sure I asked a teacher or someone and they told me that they were doing a gray wash. So, I broke out the gray water and went to town.

It's always funny to find old stuff like this under the bed. I really had no memory of this stuff at all and it was nice to have a friendly reminder that I did have ideas and concepts before Keith Howard and EXIT 6.

Click any of the images for a larger version.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Plastic Spoon Press Interview

The pencils just keep on coming!

These new sketches are for an idea I have to put in the back of the new OilCan Drive book. I, Sean Tiffany, want to do an interview with the band. So, for that interview to take place and make a decent article, I knew I needed to have some "photos" of the band. Hopefully these sketches will fill that need.

For the interview, I put out an open call for question ideas to pose to the band on Facebook. A few ideas I got included groupies, lost sex tapes, solo projects, and stints in rehab. So, if anyone else out there has a question for the fictional cartoon band living in my head, fire away. Even I'm not sure of some of the answers these guys may spout off.

I'm slowly going through my notebook of ideas and pulling out every thumbnail I've sketched of the band together and trying to put it into pencil form. Today I'll be tackling about five different CD cover ideas to see which ones turn out best.

It should make for a fun afternoon!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wish I Was a Little Bit Taller..

After dinner last night I blue line penciled out this OilCan Drive group shot that I had done a quick thumbnail sketch for last week.

After taking a bike ride, working out, and watching Sons of Anarchy, I sat back down and penciled out the details of the piece before I went to bed. I knew Ryan was in the foreground, stretching himself out but I didn't know why. I didn't question it, I just kept drawing. My characters seem to do what they want sometimes and I've found it's better not to argue with them.

So, it wasn't until after I woke up this morning and looked at the piece again that I realized what Ryan was doing. Ryan is in the foreground, stretching himself to as tall as he can get, because he is the shortest member of the group. Even Nicole is about an inch or two taller than him.

I guess Ryan, feeling he is the lead member of the group (I hear lead singers can get that way), wants the world to think he is the biggest member in the band. When the photographers take the band out to shoot publicity photos of them Ryan always feels the need to be front and center. Honestly, sometimes he can be a real pain in the ass. In this particular photo it looks like he wants the world to think he is the towering force behind (or in this case, in front of) OilCan Drive. The lead singer, the chief songwriter, the main man...

Or, maybe he just wishes he was a little bit taller.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

21st Century Breakdown

Just a quick post today as I run out the door to take care of a few things. I found this, Green Day's newest video for the single "21st Century Breakdown", online this morning. Most times I wouldn't post a video just to post a video but the artistry behind the images in the video alone prompted me to share it.

It reminds me of a collage, cut paper, graffiti kind of look, all the while telling the story of the song. It actually reminds me a lot of a project my friend, Rob Kelly, did back in art school. He did a bunch of comic pages based on Bob Dylan's song, "Series of Dreams." It was done in all cut paper and collage and was very new, different, artsy ,and intriguing to me, a guy who only knew how to do comic book pages with pencils and ink. This video reminds me of that project that Rob did all those years ago. I guess Rob was just way ahead of his time.

So, even if you don't like the music, the video and images are an art form all to themselves. Enjoy!

Ack! Apparently Warner Music Group pulled the video down off of YouTube. England, for some reason, had the video debut last night but not here in America. Go figure. An American band with a video you can't see in America. It makes about as much sense as Fender (an American company) putting out a Kurt Cobain (an American artist) signature guitar and only have it for sale in Japan (a place that is not America).

I was going to put up a version I had on my computer straight to the blog but had second thoughts about it. I'm not too worried about Warner Music finding out what I have done but I have a feeling someone at might have issues with me putting up what is, for now, restricted content. I like writing this blog and would hate to have it taken away. I was bummed the last time labeled my blog a "spam blog" and took it down. That just sucked. So, I guess we'll just have to wait until they release the video in the good ol' US of A.

Sorry, Robbo...we'll get you to see this video someday!

Monday, October 19, 2009


After pulling out Mike Allred's "Red Rocket 7" last week I then pulled out some newer stuff from Mike called "The Vault of Michael Allred".

It's a four book series that has almost every cover, sketch, toy design, and interview Mike has ever done. It's a staggering piece of work. Every page can take you ten minutes to look at it and absorb all that's on it. It's a lot of stuff.

I've always liked Mike's work. But, I've also liked the fact that everything he does always looks so fun! He does weird merchandising that looks like, to me, ideas that he simply does so he can have that item himself.

He's done board games, old style balsa wood airplanes, statues, yo-yos, figures, music CDs, and trading card sets among a host of other things. And I have a bunch of it here in the house. I dug back into some boxes last night and pulled out the two decks of Madman Bubblegum cards I have (gum not included). It's just an amazing set of art. Mike, who created the character of Madman, only did the box art for each set and a put-it-together puzzle on the back of each card. The entire rest of the set is done by guest artists. Every big name in comic books contributed a card. From the big name guys to the small press publishers, from legends in the field to people working in animation, Mike got them all. And they all drew his character as they see him. it's just a wonderful set.

So, it got me thinking.

I want some of these things in my house. I want some fun stuff for OilCan Drive. I want to make the comic book and music CD I am working on now. But I also want to make buttons, paper cut out toys, a script book based on the script I wrote for an OilCan Drive movie, tumbler glasses, and, yes, a trading card set.

I want these things, not because I think they will sell and make me a ton of money, but because I just want them in my house. The big question is, can I afford to do them? Can I print enough and sell enough to make it worth my while? I don't know...but, I'd like to find out. These ideas just keep kicking around in my head and they won't leave me alone.

But, maybe I should get the comic book and CD out into the world first. Then I can decide which project to tackle next.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Demos! Part Two

So, I finished up the final few demo songs for the OilCan Drive album last night. After listening to them a few times I went back over the recordings this morning and made a few tweaks. One song needed one more measure in the bridge while another just felt a little too fast so I took the tempo down a bit.

And one song I have no idea what to do with. It's called "Three Minute Pop Song" so, for obvious reasons, I'm trying to make it exactly three minutes. The problem is that I took the original arrangement of the song, which clocked in at exactly three minutes, and sped the tempo up a bit. So, then I added a few measures in there to still make it fit the time. But now it feels like there is a bit too much dead space at the beginning. Ah well, I can always fill it out later with some wacky guitar parts or some dialogue of the band arguing.

A lot of these songs have never been recorded and a lot of them still have no definitive lyrics. So, I would just play them and make up words as I went, trying to fit the sounds and meter in my head. With that kind of "stream of consciousness" writing on the fly some interesting ideas came forth. So much so that Monika is now convinced that one of the songs I was making up as I went along is definitely about anal sex. I'm not sure if that's what was in my mind as I made lyrics up or what she's reading into it. Time will tell.

But, after three days of recording, the demo is done.

I think, for now, it's a good first "sketch" of what the album will sound like. Like I said before, this is a bare bones, seat of my pants, idea. But it's good to finally have the whole thing finally out of my head so I can can sit back and give it a good constructive listen.

Now to find the time in my schedule to put the REAL album into production.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


I've spent the last two days doing demos and scratch tracks for the OilCan Drive music album.

It's been going well so far and I have eleven out of the thirteen tracks laid out and in a form that's decent enough to listen to, hear the song, and figure out the arrangement. I would have had all thirteen done but I've found, with Monika home from work and sitting on the couch right near me, that playing guitar and singing gibberish lyrics into a microphone is not all that comfortable. Believe me, I've tried it. I got through one verse and felt really self conscious. So I stopped and called it a night.

Every song is basically me playing acoustic guitar on a few parts and singing along. It's not slick or polished in the least. It's the basic bare bones of the song and what I'm most worried about now is the feel of the song, the way it sounds, and the arrangement. Unfortunately there is no A-B-C formula to writing a song so there is no one right way to do it. My fear is that there may be too many wrong ways to do it as well.

I'm at that point where, maybe because I've been listening to every song and thinking about it WAY too much, I think the whole idea of an album and me writing songs is a huge waste of time. Every song sounds boring and over played but, again, that could be because every song on this album has been in my head for years and I've been listening to them far longer than any CD has ever survived in your disc player after multiple listens.

But, I'm stubborn enough to keep going. I'll get it done and have a few trusted people listen to this mess I've made and see what they think.

Eleven tracks down...two to go.

Friday, October 16, 2009

From The Vault - Crocodile Dundee 1990?

I don't know what year it was when I did this piece. I have to believe it was either done during my first or second year of art school at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Arts. So, it was either 1990 or 1991. Maybe it would help if I had signed and dated it.

But, I do know it must have been done for a caricature class.

This folks, is good old Crocodile Dundee himself, Paul Hogan.

Why he was done using only cut construction paper, I have no idea. I honestly can't even recall ever doing this piece. But I know it must be one of my pieces. It looks like something I must have done long long ago.

Ah, getting isn't for the weak of will. Ha ha.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

OilCan Drive

I totally stole this photo from my friend, Jeff Lafferty's, website this morning. Yesterday Jeff and I had lunch and I rolled out the latest work I had done on OilCan Drive.

Jeff has always been a great believer in the project and probably one of its biggest cheerleaders. So, it's always good to show him the new stuff I am working on and get some feedback, an "attaboy", and a renewed sense of purpose to keep going.

You can take a peek at Jeff's post about OilCan Drive HERE. It's where I stole the photo from. As Jeff puts it, OilCan Drive is " sort of a Rock-n-Roll, band on the run, Mad Max, Fantastic Four thing that reminds me a little of the movies Rock and Rule and Streets of Fire (Sorry Sean, I know that was a horrible description but I meant it in the best kind of way, since I find all those things cool as all get out)" I take all of those descriptions as a compliment. Both the Rock and Rule and Streets of Fire DVDs are proudly displayed on my movie shelf.

The toothbrush is in the photo is because I had to go to the dentist right after lunch and who wants to hit the dental hygienist with a mouth full of chips and sandwich? The cool thing about my dentist is that he plays music as well so we always talk about new guitars we're looking at and stuff like that. So, I brought in what I had done of OilCan Drive to show him as well. He loved the idea, liked the artwork, and wanted copies of it when it was done. He did question the price of the package though. He said what I planned on charging was too inexpensive...which threw me for a loop...I was afraid it might sound like too maybe I need to rethink the price point.

So it was a good OilCan Drive day all around yesterday.

And the best part of the day, because I still haven't exactly figured out what I want kind of art I want to do for the album, sleeve, or book cover, I sat down with my acoustic guitar, the drum machine, my notes, and started working on the music for the album again.

And it felt great!

So, today, I begin doing the demos and scratch tracks for the OilCan Drive album.

Everything is flowing and the feeling is amazing. Thanks to the people out there who make me still want to keep doing this. Thank you all.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Here I am showing a young Henry the basics of playing the guitar. You can see him watching intently as I show him a few root notes on the neck.

How did Henry become the best bass playing ape alive?

Practice, practice, practice!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Red Rocket 7 and The Gear

I've recently been rereading Mike Allred's book "Red Rocket 7."

I first bought the collected edition a bunch of years ago when I had a little tradition of picking up something special the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at the comic book shop. Years before I had been getting the newest Alex Ross books because they came out that day. But, one year, there was no new Alex Ross book so I was looking for something to fill the void.

What I found was "Red Rocket 7."

I'd always been a fan of Mike's "Madman" books so I took a chance and picked up the book. It's a mix of science fiction and the real world history of rock and roll music. I've read it so many times that the spine fell apart and I had to coil bind the book back together. Reading back on it now it's the closest thing I can find to what I'm doing with OilCan Drive.

What I didn't know back then is that Mike even released some music along with the comic book. Under the band name "The Gear: Son of Red Rocket 7", he released a full CD album of music.

And yesterday, I found it online, listened to some samples of it, and decided to buy it.

Here are a few samples of the album, courtesy of

Subtle Song
Black Narcissus
Now, when I first listened to the samples I really wasn't impressed. I even had Monika listen to the tracks and she told me to shut it off. I was really expecting something, And yet I bought it anyway.

Why did I buy it if I wasn't impressed, you ask?

Well, because, when I listen to it, I think I can make an album of music as good as if not better than Mike Allred did with Red Rocket 7. Sometimes, along with finding the great music and art that inspire you to strive to do more and get better, it's as important to find things out there that you think you can beat. If that guy can do it and put out an album, what's stopping me? So, hopefully, listening to this album when I get it will make me think I can do better.

It's like the story of the two campers who get attacked by a bear one day in their tent. One of the campers stops to put on his running shoes. The other shouts, "you're crazy! you think you can out run a bear?!" "No," the sneaker wearing camper says, "but I can out run YOU!"

As big a fan of his work as I am, I feel empowered in saying this. Mike Allred, I think I can outrun you.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Are You Ready!?!

I finished up the last of the interior OilCan Drive pages yesterday. So, I'm going to print out a copy today and go over each page to make sure all the spelling is correct, all the effects I did in the computer translate onto a printed page, and everything looks good all over.

I can't wait.

There's something about seeing the pages printed that just gives me a rush of excitement. It's all fine and dandy when the pages are originals on your desk or a file in the computer but once you print the finished product out and hold it in your hand it just feels "real."

I can remember starting this particular project sometime back in March. I may have had the basic story written out before then but I was waiting to get some free time in my schedule to really dive into this. The moment I had some free time I remember sitting at Einstein's Bagels doing thumbnails for this book. It seems so long ago now.

I think the time has come where I stop waiting for "free time" to work on OilCan Drive. I usually try to make sure I have a free week or at least a chunk of days off before I start thinking about OilCan Drive and working on it. I think the time has come where even if I have a free hour in the day I want to be working on something OilCan Drive related.

I think the band finally deserves a bit more of my attention.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I had a very interesting, very intense dream last night that had me waking up and writing down a bunch of the ideas I had in my head.

The general idea of the dream was about werewolves.

I'm pretty sure I was a werewolf but never actually changed into one. I have dreams like this often. Where I know I am something but never show that I can do it. I've had dreams where I know I can turn into the Hulk but never do, or where I should be able to fly but can never get my feet off the ground. You out there who specialize in dream interpretation can figure that one out for me.

So, I was a werewolf, who wasn't happy with the idea, and was hunting down other werewolves that I had created. It was a long dream and featured actors like Adrian Grenier (Vincent Chase from Entourage) and Mila Kunis (Jackie from The 70's Show).

But, that wasn't the spark for the idea that came to me when I woke up this morning. One of the little trivial bits in the dream was the idea of taking a road map and spinning an empty soda bottle of top of it. Whichever way the bottle pointed was the destination.

The story would begin with a man, looking very much the victim, stumbling from the woods and back to his car. He is dirty, beaten, and nude. He looks like he has just escaped from some backwoods torture chamber that all the big horror movies seem to feature these days. He jumps back into his car and takes off. A group of rednecks emerge from the woods chasing him but they are too late as he gets away.

Later, the victim is cleaned up, looking better, and does the soda bottle on the road map trick. The bottle points to a small town.

Fade to a sign for that small town, population 67. It's one of those towns that you see when you're driving on the interstate and wonder who the hell could live in such a small place like that? Who runs the general store where you stop and get gas when you're on your way to somewhere better. Someone has to work there and live somewhere nearby. This town is one of those places.

The story takes some time to get to know the people in the town, showing their lives and their small town gossip. Even in such a small community everyone has a story and everyone has secrets.

And then our hero comes into town. He is small, meek, and looks like a stiff breeze could knock him over. Of course he is hassled by the local rednecks. There is always someone in a town who is a little too drunk and bored who feels the need to pick on the new guy. Maybe our hero is saved by the kind of woman we all wish we could find in a small town. You know, the beautiful yet somehow available woman that you've been looking for all your life who just somehow "gets you."

And, with time to kill, out hero and the woman start a friendship, maybe the beginning of a romance. After all, we have a few days left until the moon is full again.

Because, you see, our "hero" is a werewolf.

He chooses small towns with small populations. He's been doing this long enough that he knows what the wolf is capable of. Keeping to small communities he ensures that he doesn't kill too many people, doesn't leave too may alive who can hunt him once he changes back to human, and can sate the wolf blood lust he has in him.

He sees himself as a force of nature. A tornado that just, by chance of a soda bottle spin, chose this town to destroy. It's all fate. And you wouldn't blame a tornado for leveling your town. Like I said, a force of nature.

So, this sets up the final acts of the story. Where the full moon rises and our hero becomes the villain. The townspeople try their best to survive, huddled together in a small bar trying to keep the creature at bay until sunrise. Of course, the local redneck bullies get theirs in the end and the crowd loves it. But, what about the innocents? What about the woman our hero has come to adore.

Tornadoes may be a force of nature but they don't have a conscience.

I see it as a cross between Alien, Demon Knight, Feast, and and a slew of other movies where the big bad monster is outside the door and you're just praying for sunrise to come so it will all be over. Add a touch of the brilliant novel "The Hyde Effect" in there and I think it makes for a fun story. I especially like the twist of making the monster the victim in the first half of the story.

So, yeah, all that pulled out of a dream I had last night.

But, for now, it's time for me to get back to work on some comic book pages. Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 9, 2009

From the Vault - Weekly Reader Bowling Clown 2005

I know this piece was done for one of the Weekly Reader plays that kids read while in class at school. But, as far as what the story was about, I really have no idea. And it's not like this image gives me any clues.

But, from what I remember, it was a blast to draw. With as many boring, everyday things that an artist is asked to draw sometimes a job comes along that has you drawing a clown on steroids who is enjoy a round of bowling while chickens parachute in from the ceiling.

I can't imagine there's that many people in the world who can say they had to do something like this for their paying day job. It's pieces like this that remind me why I love doing art for a living!

Thanks Weekly Reader!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


OilCan Drive continues to get the digital treatment.

Zip-a-tone, toothbrush spatter, and inking galore are all over this page and I'm still loving it.

In this page, Nicole and Vince run into a bit of trouble and have to ditch their air-speeder in a hurry. The only problem is, there's only a hard desert of sand, rocks and cacti below. My fingers are crossed that our heroes survive this one.

Did I tell you yet that I'm loving doing this stuff?

Working on this project brings to mind something I've been reading in Hugh MacLeod's book, "Ignore Everybody" about ideas and how you're wondering when you've finally found your Big Idea. He says:

"So, naturally you ask yourself, if and when you finally come up with the Big Idea, after years of toil, struggle, and doubt, how do you know whether or not it is "The One"?

Answer: You don't.

There is no swelling of existential triumph. That is not what happens.

All you get is this rather quiet, kvetchy voice inside you that seems to say, "This is totally stupid. This is utterly moronic. This is a complete waste of time. And I'm going to do it anyway."

And you go do it anyway."

That's kind of how I feel with OilCan Drive. Success or no success, I'm going to keep doing it anyway.

Because I'm just having too much fun with it NOT to do it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Oops...and double Oops!

After putting up yesterday's blog post I realized one of the words in the word balloons was spelled "traffice" not "traffic". I am going to go with the explanation that "traffice" is, in fact, spelled correctly and it's neuvo-french, something they speak in the future world of OilCan Drive. Of course, if you kids are still spelling it "traffic" then, whatevs...I guess I'll change it to appease the masses.

So, yeah...I'll be changing that.

I use Google Analytics to track the web traffic on both this blog and my main site, Over the last week I've noticed the traffic on has flat lined. Once in a while a day goes by and no one visits but, looking at the graph Google Analytics supplies, it looks like the site has died with no hope of resurrection. It actually scared me for a little bit.

Then I realized what had happened.

A week or so ago a client contacted me and wanted me to take down a few pieces I had done for them. One of their clients had found some stuff I had done for my client and didn't think it was representative of their product (it was new character designs for one of their mascots). They asked me to pull it and, while I was at it, to pull the Chester Cheetos work I had done as well.

So, without a fuss, I went back into the files I had to build my site, pulled off the images, and put up some new ones. It does make me wonder what might have happened if I had said "no", but not knowing the legalities of such a thing and liking my client, I was happy to make them happy.

The problem is that one of the images was on my main index page. So I had to pull that down and put a new one up and revise the page. When I did that, I essentially took out the code I had installed that let's Google Analytics track my web site traffic.

So, the site is alive, it's just that the little wires stuck into my site's arm to make it go beep beep beep fell out and the EKG machine now thinks it's dead.

So, that's another problem to figure out.

But, go check and see the few new images I put up to replace the pulled pieces. It's nothing new you haven't seen on the blog before but it's helped to freshen up my portfolio site.

Of course, the problem is, I won't be able to track your visit.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Going Digital

All the OilCan Drive pages I featured a few days ago on the blog have now been scanned into the computer and are getting a digital makeover.

I've added lettering digitally and have also been adding gray tones and special effects.

One of the things I decided when I started doing these pages was to try and mimic all the old school comic book effects I used to do by hand but do it with a bit less work in the computer. I love using gray tones to make certain things pop on page but I've never really been a fan of just using simple grays on a printed page. It just never looks quite right to me. And, usually, I find artists use it so much, simply because they can, that the whole page just looks like a big pile of gray sludge where nothing pops.

I used to have two tones of zip-a-tone dots when I was doing Exit 6. One was a 60% gray and another was 30%. They were just sheets of black dots that represented gray by the amount of dots on each sheet. I used to have to put this tone of black dots onto the original page and then hand cut around each section I wanted used. It was a long process and I had more than a few little cuts on my fingers from the x-acto blade.

Another way I used to achieve a gray effect when all I had were my hands and a bottle of ink was to use a toothbrush to splatter ink over sections of the page. Using both black ink and white out splattered with a toothbrush you get some interesting effects.

I also just drew fine lines with a ruler to get some sort of gray feel to a page. All of these things, using black lines to achieve grays, were things I learned while doing Exit 6 over ten years ago. I recently pulled some of those original pages and some of the tools I used out of the closest to see what I had at my disposal at that time.

So, because I love them and love the way they look, I am recreating all of those fabulous tones using the computer. There is not a gray on the entire page. It's all hard black and white. It may be dots, lines, or toothbrush splatter representing a gray tone, but it's all black and white.

It's graphic, it's fun, any client I have would probably hate me for doing it, but I am absolutely loving it and loving the way it's looking.

Rock and roll, baby! Rock and roll!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ignore Everybody

I'm a regular reader of Derek Siver's blog. He's the founder of the very successful CDbaby who, a few years ago, sold the company and now travels the world having adventures and offering his advice to anyone who will listen. He always has great advice, words of encouragement, and interesting ideas on how to keep and use your creativity in entrepreneurial ways.

So, when his latest post mentioned a book that he called his "highest book reading recommendation" it caught my attention.

The books is called "Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity." by writer and cartoonist Hugh MacLeod.

As for what the book is about, Derek has already summed it up much better than I ever could have. So, I'll let his words have the floor for a minute:

"He really gets and speaks to that dark struggle that artists go through: wanting to quit your day job, selling out to get successful and having it fail, or having it succeed, or not-selling-out and having it fail, or having it succeed.

But this is not a self-help book! He's slightly cranky, very realistic, and can describe your situation exactly since he's been there himself, then say, “But here's what I've noticed...” - and give you an insight you'll find useful for your own career or art.

It's a short lean book. Perfect for those who rarely find the time to read a whole book."

What I was really impressed by was, if you go to Hugh's website and read an excerpt from his book, he puts over a THIRD of the book on his blog for FREE. At first what I thought was giving away milk from the cow for free (or some other colorful metaphor) actually turned out to be a brilliant marketing strategy. Because, after I had read that free section, I really wanted more.

So much so that I ran right down to the closest Barnes and Noble and picked up a copy.

I've already read through it once and am getting ready to read through it a second time. It's a great book and just what I needed right now.

To check out Hugh's website and read a good chunk of the book hit the link and enjoy the fun!
Hugh MacLeod's website

Friday, October 2, 2009

From the Vault - Alan Davis Phoenix 1995

In 1995 I was working for Marvel Comics doing airbrush coloring over a variety of different artists and images. I would do covers for advertising, trading cards for marketing, and even Pizza Hut drinking glasses for merchandising.

I was painting a lot of stuff for Marvel Comics.

This is a piece that I painted over one of my hero's, Alan Davis', art. It's Phoenix, a Marvel character, done by a Marvel artist, and painted by me, a Marvel painter.

But, this piece was not a piece I did for Marvel Comics. This is a piece I did all on my own.

How do you know you love your work? When, at the end of the day and the paying work is done, what do you do? Well, the same thing.

But this time, for fun.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Another Step Out of the Way

Thanks again to Dan O'Connor and all his great work that I've been featuring on the blog over the last week or so. I hope you all enjoyed the adventures from the "Back to the Kubert" strips as much as I did.

And, as I said before, it gave me some much needed time to get some work done on a few other projects.

One of which was finally getting all the inks done on the OilCan Drive project. This one seems like it took forever. Maybe it's because I was on fire with the project during the early summer. I was penciling and inking away like a fiend. When the Fourth of July hit I only had a mere three pages left to ink and this stage of the project would be done.

So, what took so long to finish those three pages?

Well, throw in doing three children's books back to back, a few other various freelance projects for clients, a two week trip to the East coast, my parents coming to visit me here in Colorado from the east coast, and just getting back into the groove of art again and the time just got away from me. But, I finally kicked time's ass and sat down and knocked those last three pages out.

So now every interior page is inked and scanned into the computer. I spent the last few days scripting the dialogue and laying in the rough lettering on each page. My goal is to have the full interior finished, lettered, and gray toned by Sunday night. So far so good. We'll see how it goes from here.

Then it's just a matter of doing the fun covers and group shots to round the book out. Oh, and do an entire album's worth of music by makes me tired even thinking about it. But I am having fun and things are rolling along.

And, hockey starts back up again tonight. The Colorado Avalanche are back on the ice after a ceremony to celebrate the retiring Joe Sakic's career. It'll be a sad sight to see Joe retire but hockey is back on.

And that always makes life seem a little bit better.