Monday, September 29, 2008

Another Blast From the Past!

Yes, I know, I promised in my last post I wouldn't show any more old work. Once again, I have broken this promise by posting the above image. I'm sorry to do this, but in re-inventing myself as a freelancer, I have been thinking back to all the ways I used to "market" myself. I used to use this as a business card, but it was not a piece I created from scratch. It was an illustration from a paying gig. Here's the story:

This drawing was done as a coloring book illustration for a local soda-pop manufacturer who was  trying to market a new rasberry-lime soda called RAZCAL. They hired me to design their mascot, the "Razcal Rabbit", and I did a ton of artwork for them. They were sure this product was a winner, and I was sure I was designing an icon that would take its place alongside Tony the Tiger in branding history.

Unfortunately/predictably, the company went bust. Apparently, the soda biz is a tougher nut to crack than it seems.

I post this to demonstrate that even in disappointing situations, there is sometimes a silver lining. Even though the company went belly-up, they did pay me (very well) for the work I did, and they even made a ventriloquist dummy of the character (If you know me, you will know what a major event this was in my life). Also, I used the above illustration as a calling card for a few years (I wrote my contact info on the blank canvas in red ink). It always got a good response, and I even got animation work in Hollywood from it.

Although I did it over 20 years ago, I still think it holds up. As someone who finds fault with the things I did 10 minutes ago, that says something.

The point of today's blog? I'm not sure there is one, unless it's that you can learn and profit(at least emotionally, but financially is better) from every job you do.

Next time, I promise, I'll try, back to hilarity!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The "D" Team!

I promised last time we met, to show you some of my earliest, stumbling efforts as a fledgling "professional" cartoonist, so here it is. But first, some history:

In the early 80's, Peter Pan Records put out a line of book/record products using popular media characters, aimed  at young kids. In an effort  to save some dough, rather than hire professional illustrators, they contacted the "art" school I attended, looking for students interested in illustrating the books for very low rates. Being starving art students, we were all very interested.

I was lucky enough to score 2 gigs. One was a Casper book, which I was a natural for, as I was the only person there who would admit to being a big Harvey Comics fan, and the faux Disney ripoff style I used at the time made the job a pretty good fit. I think I did an okay job, but I don't want to search the archives to see if I am right.

The second assignment puzzled me. Thanks to my work on Casper, they wanted me to illustrate a book based on the TV show "The A-Team"!

This baffled me, as I had never demonstrated any ability to draw "realistic", "superhero" or any kind of cartoons outside of "funny" stuff. Nevertheless, they asked me to do it, and money is money, so I accepted the job.

The image above is an Xerox of one portion of a page of my "finished pencils". I really sweated this out: Did tons of reference, drew & re-drew page  after page, and the result you see was the best I  could do. I could point out all the things wrong with this drawing,  but the image speaks for itself.

Even then, I knew this was crap, but a strange thing happened: They liked it, and even had me ink some  of it (the deadline was too tight to do it all)! Even more amazing, the paid me! The money I earned from this and Casper paid for my move to NYC after graduation. (Where it disappeared in a week.)

I dunno if these books were ever published. I never saw one for sale. I hope these books didn't succeed in putting Peter Pan Records out of business. (It tanked a few years later.) I'd like to think video games & CDs were responsible for that.

But you never know.

Next time: No more looking at the past! New drawings, humorous stories, and more adventures of Rocco the Wonder Dog!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Believe It Or Not, These Got Me Work!

 Still shoveling through the archives and found these 2 pieces of "art".

Back in the days when I was a young starving artist (as opposed to today when I am an OLD struggling artist), I used to draw up samples to submit to various publications I wanted to work for. Although I look at them cringingly now, they both got me some pretty good gigs. The Gladstone Gander one led to me drawing for Disney for a couple of years, and the Pepe le Pew piece led to work on the Looney Tunes magazine. Good experiences both. I learned a lot, and made pretty good money, too.

So see, young little  starving cartoonist, there is hope!

By the by, all images are copyright by their respective owners, so don't reproduce 'em, or you'll be in trouble!

Next time: A truly horrific Blast from the Past!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Visit to the Archives.

I have been going through my files, and digging up some old examples of my work. Usually, when I see my past work, I cringe at all the things I did wrong with the piece. I did this illustration for a kids' magazine about 20 years ago, and actually, I still think it holds up pretty well. I am particularly proud that I inked the whole piece with a brush, no pens at all. I believe I  was paid the worldly sum of $25 for this. That was bad pay even back then.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of my previous work that I found today. In the upcoming days I will show you a lot of work from my past. Even my high school and Kubert School work.

The next few days may be a bit short on jocularity, but if I can give one art student a ray of hope that they will improve & things will get better, I will have done my job.

At the very least, you can enjoy how much I sucked!

Mustn't See TV!

What has happened to TV? In the heavy TV watching days of my youth, we only got 3 Broadcast  channels, and 2 UHF channels (which you could only get after  a half an hour of twisting rabbit ear antennas). Now we have the magic of cable, a gazillion channels, and NOTHING is on! I don't know if the writer's strike earlier this year decimated production of shows this year or not, but it seems as if there is less and less to watch each week. This years' "Fall Previews" all look awful to me. It looks like PW and I will be stuck watching reality shows or re-runs of the "Law and Order" franchise, which are conveniently scheduled at  every moment of the day. I dislike most reality shows, and as fine a show as L&O is, the episodes lose their luster after you have seen each one 5 or 6 times.

Yes, there are movies on cable, but I have seen "Sky High" & "Little Black Book" quite enough now, thank you Starz® network.

To be fair, there are a few good shows out there. Shows we enjoy, that you might, too, include:

• "The Office": Duh. Everyone loves this show. 

• "Psych": NOBODY knows this show exists (at least no one we talk to), but it is a truly entertaining show on the USA Network for about 3 minutes every Summer. Worth watching if you can find it.

• "Bizarre Foods with Anthony Something-or-Other": On the Travel Channel. If you ever wanted to see a grown man eat disgusting food in a Godforsaken Hellhole, this is the show for you!

• "Doctor Who": Regular readers of this blog already know I love this British show shown on the Sci-Fi Network. Some have already viewed it and decided they despise it. You be the judge.

That's about it. Sad isn't it? Why can't some brilliant network exec create an "All Odd Couple Network", or show Warner Bros. cartoons 24/7? Then I would be happy.

Of course, I could read a book or go out & get some fresh air & excercise, but I might miss something good on TV...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Sneak of "Oscar's Naughty Chicken"

"The whole town was  furious, at Oscar & his Dad, for keeping this chicken, who was 
always so bad!
Here is a page from the upcoming epic, "Oscar's Naughty Chicken", just to give you kids a taste of things to come. I don't want to share too much of the finished book just yet, but I feel comfortable posting this because it's not in color (which the book will be), and I am going to re-do this page anyway!

For those who are interested in how things are done, I lightboxed my rough sketch on cold pressed stock with blue col-erase pencil, then inked it with a Pigma brush and .08 pens. For those of you who want the look of dip pens and brushes, but are fed up with the costs and the wide-ranging quality of the dippies, Pigmas are worth a shot. If you can find them...

For you who do everything on computer, well you don't know what you're missing.

The original is 8" x 8', in case you wondered.

By the way, for all you locals who thought they saw someone familiar, yes, that is our own local cartoonist, and local legend, Mat Brown.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Okay, I am now back to my basic frustration with trying to figure out this whole posting images on the blogspot thing. I have downloaded a bunch of my artwork, but can't get it up on the blog. If there are any kind souls out there who can help, please respond in the comments section.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Rocco!

A boy & his dog.

In case you couldn't tell from the title of this post, today, September 12, 2008, is the 4th birthday of Rocco the Wonder Dog.

Although Rocco has only been a member of our family for a few months, and his early years are shrouded in mystery, we love him. Even though he drives us (me personally) crazy from time to time.

I was going to write a humorous list of all his good and bad qualities, but, it's his birthday, and I still haven't picked out his gift yet. (Don't tell him, but there is a squeaky toy in his future!) Let's just say that he is the best dog in the whole wide world, and we are lucky to have him as a member of our family.

Now if he will just stop whizzing in the dining room.

Imagine: Images at last!

Yes, finally, I am finally posting an image! The above is a rough of the cover for  the fabulous children's book PW and I collaborated on. I know it's not much, but the finished book will be a classic celebrated for generations to come. Look for it online in the months ahead. I'll keep you posted.

I know this doesn't seem like a big deal to you, but figuring this posting images thing out is a major accomplishment for me. (Sad, I know.) Much thanks/blame go to John, Gary and especially Rick, who helped my luddite butt figure this out.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

School Dazed!

Hello again, Loyal Readers!

In case you didn't notice, I haven't posted in almost a month. I would list a litany of reasons why I haven't done so, but, as a regular reader, I know you won't buy any of them, so I'll let it lie.

So the Summer is over. The kids are back in school. This time of year always reminds me of the school days of my youth.

Oh, how I hated school! I always remember the dread I felt on the day after Labor Day, the clock ticking down on my precious moments of freedom until I had to return to the horrors of academia. 

Why did I hate school so? The list I could write would fill volumes, but, as I know time is precious to you, dear reader, I'll just hit the highlights of my problems with my formal education:

• GETTING UP: This is a problem I still struggle with today. I have an easier time rising from my slumber if I'm going to do something fun, like say, visit Disneyland, but getting up to do math problems makes leaving the Land of Nod all the more difficult. 

• I WAS MISSING TELEVISION: Sure, I had seen every rerun of "Here's Lucy" several times over, but I was also missing new episodes of "Let's Make a Deal!" and "Match Game" and all the other shows I watched when I should have "been out in the fresh air", during the Summer. What if "Dialing for Dollars" called when I was at school?!

• MY FELLOW STUDENTS: This may come as a shock to you, but as an inept athlete-TAB swilling-chorus member-drama club president, I was sometimes the target of some of my peers' abuse. The bus in particular was a Dickensian nightmare. Oh, how I can (not so fondly) recall the shouted remarks questioning my sexuality, as well as whatever objects that were handy being hurled at the back of my head! Always followed by moronic laughter. 

• THE BUS ITSELF: In my elementary school days, our bus driver was a kindly old gent, who kept good control of the rowdies and dressed like Santa during the Holidays. From Junior High on, however, I rode a bus driven by a crusty old  broad who drove like a maniac. She had a schedule to keep, and she did so by whizzing through the small back roads of our town at Autoban speeds. Twice she ran over a dog and then loudly proclaimed, "Well, it shouldn't have been out on the street!", then drove away without stopping, while all the girls on the bus sobbed. A great way to start the day!

• THE CAFETERIA CUISINE: Back in my day, a school lunch cost 25ç. You might think a 25ç lunch might be tasty & nutritious. You couldn't be more wrong. It is difficult for me to really nominate the most odious dish served up by cranky old gals with various hairs growing out of various places. Was it the pizza with the ketchup-based sauce served on a crust that tasted like cardboard, or the "sloppy joe"served over an ice-cold lump of instant mashed potatoes?
No, I think the most noxious menu item had to be a regional speciality: "Rice ala Scituate". This side dish, named in honor of our hometown, was a gelatinous scoop of over-cooked rice served 
with a pat of what appeared to be someone's idea of what butter/margerine/lard might look/taste like. Just the thought of this dish has set off my gag reflex. You hear all kinds of stories in the media about how kids aren't eating right nowadays. These reports are written by people who never ate "Rice ala Scituate". I would rather my children eat an entire bag of Cheetos for lunch than take one bite of "RAS".

• GYM: Attendance at Gym Class is mandatory in this neck of the woods. What a wonderful way for unathletic kids to demonstrate their ineptitude in front of their entire class! Dodgeball in particular was a wonderful opportunity for the jocks in the class to vent all their frustrations on the small & weak. The Presidential Physical Fitness Test was also fun for those of us who  couldn't pass one of the tests.

I could go on and on, but as you may have surmised, I didn't enjoy school too much. The good news? We all survive it, and later we realize that adulthood is exactly the same as school, but with (hopefully) a paycheck.

And for all you kids who are discouraged by this post, remember: Education is like a flaming sword: hold it high and guard it well.

Or see if your Mom will let you be home schooled.

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