Friday, October 31, 2008

It's the (Second) Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Happy Halloween everyone! Given that the Holiday falls on a Friday this year, there will most likely be more folks than usual out celebrating tonight. With the increased crowd levels, I thought I'd offer a few tips I've learned over the years, culled from my personal experience and various horror movies I've seen, to enhance your enjoyment of this special night.

• Parents: If your kid has a really cool costume they like, make sure to force them to wear a big Winter coat over it to ruin its appearance. I don't know why you have to do this, but my Mother always did.

• Kids: If you have a really cool  costume that your Mother makes you wear a big coat over, ditch the coat as soon as you are out of sight. 

• If you run out of candy to distribute, I have found that most children will accept cash. If you run out of cash, immediately put on a clown costume and stand out waving on your front lawn. No child will approach your house that night or most likely ever again. One caveat: The authorities may take note of this behavior.

• Razor blade-laden or not, no kid has ever eaten an apple given to them on Halloween. Don't waste your time or theirs'. 

• If you're in a sour mood, give out toothbrushes or pamphlets on safety. These are always effective fun-killers.

• If you live in a home that has previously been the scene of  a hideous murder, the odds are pretty good that the killer will return tonight, so plan accordingly. Encourage your teens to have an unsupervised party, and make sure they invite a lot of scantily clad, promiscuous girls. And don't scrimp on the illegal substances!

• If you live in the above situation and wish to avoid your kids and all their friends being massacred, then by all means be sure to have a lovely cheese platter prepared. This will placate the maniac until the police arrive. That is, unless you live in a  community where the local Sheriff doesn't believe in all those stories about your place, and thinks it's "them trouble-makin' teens playin' pranks". Then, I'm afraid, you're on your own.

• If you do encounter some creature of the night and manage to kill them, make sure they are really dead before turning your back on them. In my movie-going experience, these things tend to have a pretty good recovery rate.

• If a creepy old guy tells you, "Don't go in that place, strange things have happened there", don't go in there. While I usually don't advocate heeding the advice of creepy old guys, they are usually accurate on this type of information.

That's about all I have. Have a wonderful night everyone, and remember:


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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Got a Rock...

Am I getting old? The answer, apparently, is a resounding yes. A fact hammered into me last night during a viewing of the holiday classic, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown", which I watched with Perfect Wife and the 2 kids.

I love this special, as  does everyone, I assumed. I was wrong.

While I watched and marveled at the cool graphics and laughed at all the parts I always laugh at, the kids were bored to  tears. One left halfway through, the other stayed because she had heard my raves and I think she was waiting for something "good" to happen. Or maybe she was humoring me.

When I expressed my disappointment in the kids' reaction to PW, she said that maybe the show was too "old fashioned" for  them. How can that be?! This is PEANUTS for crying out loud! Everyone (I assumed) knows/loves these characters! Their appeal crosses over all generations! Is Shakespeare old fashioned? Is Mozart? Are the  Three Stooges?!

On reflection, I decided, yes. Maybe there is no such thing as "timelessness". Each generation has some cultural icons that they embrace, that the next one rejects, or just doesn't get. This may explain why my Mother could never get me to enjoy "I Married Joan". Someday perhaps, our children may wonder why their kids aren't into "Spongebob" re-runs.

It's sad. One thing is certain. We won't be watching "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein" this year!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ants in the Pants

In my recent listing of appropriate films for Halloween, I realize I didn't include any giant monster films. I will correct that omission now.

One of my favorite giant-monsters-on-the-loose films is the 1954 classic, "THEM!". (Sorry Godzilla.) I haven't seen it in awhile, but I saw it so many times on "Dialing for Dollars" that I have it pretty much memorized.

The film starts with a couple of New Mexico policemen investigating the disappearance of a vacationing FBI agent and his family. They shortly find his daughter wandering the desert, mute and in a state of shock. This leads them to the trailer the family was staying in, which has been ripped apart by "something". Why an FBI agent selected a trailer in New Mexico as an ideal vacation destination is a mystery never addressed in the film.

With the arrival of a hunky FBI agent and a father/hot daughter pair of scientists, the explanation for the missing agent's disappearance is discovered: Nuclear testing in the desert has caused ants to mutate and grow to the size of  tractor trailers. After a lot more investigating and a big flame thrower war with the ants, the conflict is resolved. At least for now, the scientist warns. What about all the other nuclear weapons that have been set off? There could be MORE giant ants in our future!

That comforting thought concludes the film.

While this is a fine film, the plot does raise some questions that the film does not address, like the one about vacationing in a New Mexican trailer. Such as:

• How can ants start growing, and nobody notices until they are giant size?

• In every 50's sci-fi film, there were always a lot of hot female scientists. Were there really, or is this just another Hollywood fantasy, like the one about Bruce Willis having a full head  of hair?

• During the course of the film, the FBI agent and the hot scientist chick fall in love. Is a giant ant invasion really the ideal foundation for a romantic relationship?

• In the film, due to their size, stepping on the ants is not an option. During an encounter with the ants, the dad scientist, supposedly "the world's top myrmecologist" (ant expert guy), says, "Shoot the antennae, HE can't live without them!"

First off, how does he know this? His resume in the film doesn't hint of any previous experience with giant ants. Secondly, why does "the world's leading myrmecologist" say "he" when all worker  ants are female? A glaring error, I know. One that leads the viewer to doubt the scientific accuracy of the movie. On a positive note, most of the characters in the film are pretty good marksmen, and have no trouble shooting wildly moving giant ant antennae.

• In the film the  government wants to avoid alarming the public, so they squelch news of the giant ants to the population to avoid a panic. This leads to a lot of delays in addressing the problem. If I were in this situation, I would rather that they air a series of TV announcements that say: "HEY! THERE ARE GIANT ANTS! RUN LIKE CRAZY! AND IF YOU SEE ANY, GIVE US A CALL!"

These minor quibbles aside, this is a wonderful film, and one well worth viewing. Even if you don't care for giant ants, actor Olin Howlin's performance (as "Jenson, the-drunk-guy-who's-seen-the-giant-ants-but-no-one-believes-him-'cause-he's-drunk-and-talking-about-giant-ants"), is not to be missed.

See you at the video store!

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

My Twenty Five Cent Idea!

Since I was gracious enough to share one of my million dollar ideas with you the other day, here's an idea for something on the other end of the spectrum, a really derivative piece of crap that will never (hopefully) see the light of day. But first, a bit of history on the inspiration for this concept:

Lately, when I have been gazing out at the suburban wilderness that is my backyard, I have been noticing an increased activity in the local squirrel population. I surmise this is because they are busily preparing for the upcoming Winter. Or maybe the raccoons that have been stealing my cigarettes are sharing them with their forest friends, and the squirrels have a nicotine buzz.

All squirrels look pretty much alike to me (but I'm no racist!), however, one stands out. This squirrel, whom I've named "Stumpy" is missing a significant portion of his tail. Whether this is the result of genetics or an unfortunate encounter with one of the predators in our area, we may never know (conversations with squirrels, are difficult, at best, I have learned).

Stumpy (I named him that because his tail is a stump, get it?) does not seem like a happy boy. In my unscientific observations, squirrels seem to get a lot of their balance, agility and grace from their tails. Stumpy is pretty awkward, which must be embarrassing. The stump-tail also looks awful. Something lady squirrels might find unappealing.

I began to wonder, is Stumpy the butt of nasty remarks from his squirrel peers? Do they make fun of him and not let him join in any squirrel games? This led to the inspiration to yet another idea for another heartwarming children's book:


This wanna-be classic would deal with a little squirrel, who is different from everyone else (because his tail is a stump, remember?). His difference would eventually prove to be an asset, as he saves everyone from some dilemma using his "difference".

This is an awful idea. 

It's one thing for a baby elephant to fly, or a reindeer with a laser nose to save Christmas, but no one really wants to see a story about a disfigured rodent. And how much trouble can squirrels get into? Also, what is the use of a stumpy tail?

Still, people paid money to see a movie about a rat working in a restaurant, so you never know!

I'm open to all offers.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Halloween...

It's almost time for the scariest day of the year. No, not April 15th, HALLOWEEN!

Since we are not going to be hosting a Halloween party this year (we're still recovering from the last one), I have been putting together a "Film Festival" of the scariest films I can think of. Here they are, in no particular order:

• THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. I don't really care for this film, but it is my Perfect Wife's pick as a really scary movie. I think that has to do with her seeing it a a teenager and not liking swarms of flies, much.

• THE THING. I like the original, but PW chimed in again and reminded me what a nail-biter the John Carpenter remake was. The scene where they do the blood test to see who is the alien had me screaming like a woman.

• ROSEMARY'S BABY. If your life is pleasant, and you feel the need to be creeped out and depressed, you can't pick a better film than this. Also, Ruth Gordon is in it, which is always disturbing.

• TRILOGY OF TERROR. This was a TV movie, but everyone of my generation remembers very well the Zuni Hunting Fetish doll chasing Karen Black around her apartment. I dunno if it's out on DVD, but if it is, rent it. You can thank/curse me later.

• PET SEMETARY. Murderous children are always unnerving (see, THE BAD SEED & VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED), but this flick raises the bar by having a monstrous brat kill Fred Gwynn.

• RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. There are a lot  of zombie flicks out there, but for me (PW disagrees), this gets my nod. Nothing is more horrible to watch than stupid decisions leading to an awful situation that just gets awfuler and awfuler. Much like the upcoming election.

• ALIEN. This film's impact has been diluted by sequels and spinoffs over the years, but I remember seeing this film in high school with my friend Max, and at the end of the film we realized we had been squeezing each other's hand. Not a good experience for two 17 year old boys. Sorry to bring this up again, Max, but this film gets top marks for pure anxiety.

• ABBOT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN. This isn't scary, but it's one of my favorite films, and  no Halloween would be complete  without at least one viewing of it. If you have kids, it is a great alternative to any of the crappy Halloween films they show on the ABC Family Channel.

• DAWN OF THE DEAD. Yep, another zombie flick. This is the remake. No offense to George Romero, but the first ten minutes of this film are amazing. The rest of the film? Eh.

But what is my choice as the  creepiest film for a Halloween night? Is it the original HALLOWEEN? Or SILENCE OF THE LAMBS? Or even SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE? No, my choice is:

• KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE. As an avowed clown-o-phobe, I have no idea why I originally even watched a film with this title, but it did not disappoint. This one gets a big 10 on the flip-me-out meter.

I'm sure there are a lot of scary films and TV shows I'm forgetting (insert DANCING WITH THE STARS joke here), but those  are my top picks.

Have a happy, safe Halloween, everyone! Just remember: If you give out Payday candy bars, you have no one but yourself to blame when your house gets egged.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Million Dollar Idea

Most of the major cities and high-priced tourist traps you visit have at least one "theme" restaurant, where you eat mediocre food in an interactive environment. There are a bunch of them out there. There's Johnny Rockets (50's Diner theme), The Hard Rock Cafe (Rock and/or Roll theme), Medieval Times (watch guys in armor hit each other with plastic swords while you eat with your hands and smell horse-droppings theme), Planet Hollywood ("Look! It's the t-shirt Michael Keaton wore in Mr. Mom!" Theme), Rainforest Cafe (I
can't hear you, there's a giant robot elephant shrieking behind me, theme), and a whole lot more.

There's even a restaurant called "The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.", based on the film, "Forest Gump". A fine film, for  sure, but does it have enough of a rabid fan base to pack in the crowds? Apparently, it does. So why not have a theme restaurant for one of the most beloved films of all time? 

Star Wars!

This is such a winner idea, I can't believe no one has thought of it yet. Since I do not own the rights to this property, and currently lack the venture capitol to get it off the ground, I can only imagine what would await customers at this eatery:

• The restaurant, of course, would be based on the wacky Mos Eisley Cantina Bar seen in the original film. Filled with employees dressed as all the weird aliens hanging around the bar.

• In the film, as you may recall, 'Droids (robots) were not allowed in the bar. So when you enter the restaurant, there will be a big sign that says, "NO 'DROIDS PAST THIS POINT". Stormtroopers could put little kids through a "scanner" to make sure they were not "'Droids in disguise". Kids would love that.

• Music would be provided by the cantina band in the original film. For additional atmosphere, every now and then a lightsaber battle could break out to entertain patrons.

• The menu could feature dining options like: Bantha Burgers, Jawa Juice, Chewbacca Chicken Nuggets, Palpatine Pasta, Sandman Salad and Han's Hot Buns. All these overpriced items could be washed down with that blue milk they were chugging in the film.

As the title  of this entry suggests, this is a big money idea, so if you are George Lucas or have a bunch of cash sitting around, give me a call and we can  get started.

I have other theme restaurant ideas (how 'bout a  Batcave restaurant that you have to slide down a pole to get into?), but you never know when some savvy investor will contact me, so I'm keeping the rest of my ideas to myself.

One more: "The Green Acres Pick Your Own Produce/Arnold Ziffle Encounter!

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Doctor WHOM?

Great news everyone! I fixed my scanner! How, I dunno, but I did.

This is not the spectacular post I promised, but it's coming, I promise.

I have often, on this site, raved about the popular British series, "Doctor Who". Everybody, even my Perfect Wife, is tired of me talking about this show, so I swear, this is my last mention of this show on this site. (At least for now. If I get some cool DW toys for Christmas, you'll hear about it!)

Simply put, check this show out (It's on BBC America on Saturday nights and you can always pick up DVD's at your local video emporium). It has everything you could  want in a televised program: Humor, pathos, engaging performances, and best of all, wicked  cool aliens and gadgets!

Okay, enough about the Doctor. Next time, my best post ever!

UPDATE: For all you pro cartoonists out there, I know how bad the coloring job is on this image. I was on a roll, forgive me.

Scanner Scams!

I had the best drawing to post today, as well as a bunch of witty observations on the subject matter. 

Then my scanner crapped out on me.

So until Perfect Wife comes home and shows me what I'm doing wrong, this illustration will have to do for today.

This comes courtesy of my friend and all-around-great-guy Steve.

I'd like to forget about my years in the All Star Squadron. I was honored to be asked to join, but I soon found out that membership in this exclusive club wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

It was fun at first, fighting global terror and all, but the down times  were awful!

The Flash showing pictures  of his kids at super-speed, Hour Man nodding off in the  middle of a conversation when his hour  pill wore out, and Dr. Fate always  telling you what was going to happen to you tomorrow ("You will have a jelly donut, but you will not enjoy it".).

Still, the stag parties with Phantom Girl were fun...

Next time, my scanner will be fixed, so get ready for my best post ever!

Or, a reasonable facsimile thereof. 

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Regular readers of the comments  section of this blog see the name "Pepper Potts" pop up frequently. This may lead some to surmise that Ironman's chick is a dedicated reader of this cavalcade of whimsey. 

That is not the case.

Happily, the fact of the matter is, Ms. Potts is actually the nom de plume of my own beloved Wifey. Sunday, October 19th, marks a special anniversary for us: We have been married 15 months! (And they said it wouldn't last!)

As I may have mentioned before, why such a beautiful, funny, talented woman is hanging with the likes of me is a mystery that may never be revealed, but trust me, I hope all of my beloved readers out there find someone for them who is as perfect for them as my wife is for me.

It took me over 40 years, so get moving!


Friday, October 17, 2008

Take Me Out OF the Ballgame!

I am not a sports fan. However, my Perfect Wife is. This means I have watched more Red Sox games recently than I have ever watched in my entire life.

While I admired their impressive comeback in last night's game (10/16/08) against whomever they were playing, there are aspects of the televised game that puzzle/annoy me:

• What is up with the players and their uniforms? As much as I dislike sports, I always liked how  spiffy baseball players looked. So trim and fit in their nice little knickers. (I'm all man by the way, I just thought they looked like athletes are supposed to look.) Now, they look like unshaven frat boys who rolled out of bed 2 minutes before the game and forgot to take their pajama bottoms off. (See illustration, above.)

• If I was pitching a television show to a network, and told them that on my show every minute or so we'd cut to a shot of someone spitting chewing tobacco, it's unlikely my pilot would get a green light. This happens THOUSANDS of times on every game I've had the pleasure to view! Can't the director cut to a shot of something more interesting? Like Stephen King reading a book in the stands? Or some guy in the crowd who paid 90 bucks for tickets but is missing the game 'cause he's talking on his cell phone?

• During the post game wrap up, why do they feel we're interested in what the yahoo fans at the game think? The fans have a wonderful ability to refer to their favorite team as "they" when the organization is doing poorly, and "we" when they're doing well, as in: "THEY need to work on THEIR infielding if THEY'RE gonna make the playoffs", or "WE really got the job done tonight". Have some loyalty people! No matter how the team is doing, YOU are not on the team. YOU install drywall. THEY are on the  team.

• I also enjoy how fans, Boston's in particular, have a charming ritual of causing heaps of personal injury and property damage after significant wins with their post game celebrations/riots.

• Lastly, what is up with that announcer on TBS (whose name no one seems to know but is universally disliked) who stole his entire wardrobe from the Brady Bunch in 1972?!

As I said at the beginning of this post, I'm not a fan, and I'm sure the layman would have some questions about the things I enjoy (i.e., "Why is Bill weeping during an episode of 'Doctor Who?' "), so take all of the above with a grain o' salt.

Oh, and GO SOX!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

True Life Adventures

I am a smoker. I know it is bad for you and all that, but I like smoking. I am not, however, one of those habitual smokers that always has a fag hanging from his lips (that came out wrong). I just enjoy an occasional puff now and again.

Since my Perfect Wife does not allow me to smoke in the house, I have to step out onto my back porch to enjoy a smoke. I usually just take a drag or two, then gently snuff out the cigarette and leave it propped in the ashtray, and return to it later. Gross, you may say, but it makes a pack last longer, which is always important in these precarious financial times.

Lately, when I return to re-light my cigarette, there is nothing in the ashtray. Formerly, I attributed this to my well-known faulty memory: I must have already finished that tube of tobaccoy goodness, I assumed.

I was wrong.

The other day, I was going outside to re-light my butt (again, that sounds wrong), when I saw a giant raccoon STEALING MY HALF SMOKED CIGARETTE! I know raccoons are the bad boys of the suburban animal kingdom, but SMOKING?

I just hope they like Marlboro Light 100's...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One More Time...

Just for my jollies, and because I have nothing new to post, one more super quick marker sketch of Metamorpho.

Now that I have that out of my system... Next time: Something interesting/entertaining/worthwhile!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cleaning Up

One of the big frustrations in making cartooning-type drawings is keeping the loose spontaneity of your initial sketch in your finished piece. The images above clearly illustrate how I struggle with this.

In going through my files (A.k.a. the giant pile of papers scattered around my drawing board) I found this page from my sketchbook from a few year's back of everyone's favorite element man, Metamorpho, giving it to everyone's favorite caveman, Java. The drawing was just a quick, mindless scribble, but I liked the loosey-goosey energy, so I decided to do a finished marker drawing of it.

I blew it.

In cleaning up the original sketch on the lightbox, I tightened it up too much, and lost the qualities that I enjoyed in the drawing. Coloring it just made it worse.

It's not the worst drawing in the world, but I wish there was some magic formula to avoid the dillution (is that a word, and if so, did I spell it correctly?).

Oh yeah. There is a magic formula. It's called working on your drawing ability all the time!

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Artist's Block!

For a creative person (like I pretend to be), be they a fine artist, cartoonist, writer, songwriter, playwright or even a kid doing a book report, there is nothing as exciting/intimidating as a blank piece of paper.

The possibilities are limitless. You could create a masterpiece that will be celebrated for generations long after your dirt nap, or just scribble around for a few fruitless hours producing a pile of crap.

Call it writer's block, artist's block or whatever, it is a challenge that faces all of us from time to time.

I am having one of those days. The images I see in my head just aren't flowing out onto the paper. I thought venting my frustration by illustrating it might help.

It didn't. Maybe a walk will help. What methods do you creative types out there use to break this block?

The good news is that, like an unloved season, this syndrome goes away for awhile, then you can enjoy a new burst of creative energy.

I think I'll take that walk now.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Too Many Chickens!

As regular readers of this blog know, I am in the middle of illustrating our soon-to-be-a-classic-of-children's literature book, "Oscar's Naughty Chicken". Until I did a web search today, I didn't really realize how popular chickens are in kids' books. It will be a challenge to keep ONC fresh and original, but hopefully, this book will be in a class by itself.

And not in the bargain bin!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Happy Birthday Ronald!

With all the talk about the presidential race, the economy and whether or not Paris Hilton will ever find a new best friend, a major milestone has slipped under the national media's radar. Ronald McDonald, the beloved shill of McDonald's restaurants, turns 45 this year!

At his age, and given his diet and exercise regimen, I doubt Ronald is really "lovin' it" much these days. Still, we wish him well, and hope he will do all in his power to prevent the McRib sandwich from ever appearing on a McDonald's menu again.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Post a Comment!

Thanks for reading this blog. I know people out there are reading it, but not many of you are posting any comments about it.

I think I know why. The way these blog spots are set up, leaving a comment is a pain in the drain. First you have to  sign up, then after you've posted your two cents' worth, you have to type in  those weird wonky random letters to "verify" your post. Why? Who knows, but that's the way it is.

But these minor hassles don't outweigh the benefits of posting on this site. Just think, if you don't know me personally, you can get to know me through this blog. Then we can form a close bond that will someday lead to us exchanging phone numbers so that I may call you at odd hours of the night when I am feeling lonely or troubled. Our friendship will also make it possible for me to obtain a series of small loans from you in the unlikely event I find myself financially strapped. If you feel lending me money might cause a strain in our cherished relationship, have no fear. We can consider it a gift.

If you live near me, you could also watch Rocco the Wonder Dog for me when my family went on vacation. This would be a win-win situation for us both. For example, Rocco has been throwing up all over the house today. How could I enjoy my vacation in Disney World worrying about that, and think how bad you'd  feel if my vacation was ruined because a bosom buddy like you wasn't there to clean up his messes.

Many of my friends already enjoy these and many other perks, now you can too!

So post a comment. Please.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Peek At a Naughty Chicken

Here are a few more images from the upcoming epic, "Oscar's Naughty Chicken". Coming out as soon as I settle a few issues, like coloring in photoshop and laying out the full page spreads.

I have been working on this book  for quite awhile now, and as much as I'm enjoying it, sometimes finishing the illustrations becomes more of a chore than a pleasure. As this is my first original children's book, I want it to be perfect, so that gnaws at the kanker, too. I do have to say though, that since we are putting the book out ourselves, there is no editor breathing down my my neck making nit picky unnecessary "changes. A first for me. 

For you art lovers out there, these drawings were done on cold press stock, with Micron pens & Sigma brushes.

I think I covered this before, but someone recently asked me about my "working methods". I love to hear this kind of stuff from other cartoonists, so if you're a cartoon geek like me, maybe you will find my techniques mildly interesting, at least.

I start by doing a bunch of scribbles on typing paper, with a really soft pencil. This is real stream-of-conciseness stuff, and I do it quickly. When I finally have something I like, I use a light box and re-draw the illustration on a  good piece of paper leaving room for the copy (That explains the empty white spaces in these images). I don't trace the rough, I actually do a new drawing, trying as hard as I can to keep the looseness of the original sketch as much as possible. When I am happy with the drawing (or at least content), I ink the drawing using mostly markers with archival ink. I used to use the traditional dip pens & brushes with India ink, but the quality of them has fluctuated so much in recent years, that I am more  comfortable with the markers  right now. The markers are cheaper too. Always a plus.

By the way, all the images you see here are copyright me, so you can look but don't use!

Next time, something new and exciting!

Or more of the same.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Scary Stuff!

I am not a political person, but last night I found myself watching the Vice Presidential debates (We had finished watching the "Torchwood" DVD, and nothing else was on).

I have always worried about the threat of nuclear weapons, so imagine my dismay at hearing VP candidate Sarah Palin mention the threat of what she calls, "new-kew-ler"  weapons! She mentioned them at least 4 times. What the heck are those?!

Thank goodness we have such an intelligent and  articulate person running for office.

Hopefully under her semi-leadership, none of us will ever have to face the terror of a "new-kew-ler" attack.


Bill's Book Nook

I love "How-to-Draw" cartooning books! When I was growing up, there really weren't a lot of them, with the exception of Preston Blair's fantastic Animation book (which every cartoonist should have, and if you don't have it, stop reading this and go buy a copy this instant!), and a few others.

Happily, nowadays, there are a TON of cartooning books out there for the young and not so young cartoonist. Some are fantastic, some pretty lame. Unfortunately, there are a bunch of books out there that just recycle all the lessons from Preston Blair's book, only with badly re-drawn examples. Avoid these like the plague. 

There are, however, a bunch of great books out now written by talented cartoonists who generously share their secrets and tricks of the trade in their tomes. Today and in future posts, I'll mention a few that I think are worth picking up. The 2 I share today I think are especially good, and I highly recommend them.

Whenever I do caricatures at a live event, inevitably someone asks how you can learn to do caricatures. Other than just getting out there and doing it, I never really knew what to tell them. Keelan Parham has fixed that. His book, "LET'S TOON CARICATURES", is a fantastic introduction into the world of live caricaturing. His book covers every aspect of caricaturing, even covering how to flatter your less attractive subjects, and dealing with hecklers. Where was  this book when I was starting out? The book is jam packed with Keelan's fun artwork, and he even provides photos for you to practice on. This book is a must-have for any wanna-be caricaturist, as well  as  established pros. At $15, it's an absolute steal. You can order it from Amazon, or better yet, order it from his website:

You can also visit his blog and check out his stories from the trenches and assorted artwork at:

For the second book I recommend, let me preface this review by stating that if Kyle Baker illustrated the telephone book, I would buy it. He is one of the best cartoonists out there today,and he easily jumps between "realistic" & "funny" comics and animation with an enviable ease. Unfortunately for the phone company (but luckily for us), Kyle has written a book for cartoonists: "HOW TO DRAW STUPID, AND OTHER ESSENTIALS OF CARTOONING", not so much of a how-to book, but more of an inspirational book. 
Kyle demystifies the cartoonist's trade with advice on streamlining and simplifying your characters and cartoons. He goes into detail on visual storytelling, and frankly, just too much other good stuff for me to summarize here. If you feel down in the dumps creatively, this book will give you the "kick-in-the-pants" encouragement (as Kyle puts it) you need. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

I also couldn't post an image of the cover of this book, but go to Kyle's site :
and buy a copy.

These are just 2 of the many great books out there. As time rolls along, I'll be posting others  that I like. If any of you out there have a book you'd like me  to mention, feel  free to drop me a line in the comments section.

Now go buy these books!

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sick Days

Nothing much to post today. Perfect Wife is battling a nasty cold, and I feel one coming on (hard to  resist  kissing PW, even when she's sick!). Even Rocco the Wonder Dog is feeling under the weather.

In lieu of anything new to post, here's another little piece  from a freelance job I did a few years ago. The client had a concept for a kids property that they needed images for to show potential investors. The concept was a  dinosaur/enviromental/adventure series that is  too  complex to explain here. As far as I know, this series never went beyond these sketches, a recurring theme in my recent posts.

These drawings are random sketches of various characters from the project. I actually like the way they look, and am sorry the series didn't go forward.

These characters may still be copyright the person who hired me, so you can look, but don't use.

If anyone likes these, I have plenty more I can show you.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Making Faces!

In illustrating our children's book, "Oscar's Naughty Chicken", I am faced with many crowd scenes to draw.

As a kid, I always hated when cartoonists would make the backround characters generic nobodies. Since they weren't major characters, why take the time to make them look interesting? Great cartoonists like Al Capp, Bill Elder & Warren Kremer (Yes, Warren Kremer!) always avoided this trap.

I like all the characters in my book to look interesting, even if they are only appearing on one page. Unfortunately, sometimes I slip into formula drawing, and everyone ends up looking the same. 

To remedy this, I like filling up  pages with random character designs, like the ones you see above. These are all off the top of my head, sketched quickly with a ballpoint pen on copy paper. After a few dozen pages of these, I have a wide range of character types to choose  from. Some are poor, some are derivative, but some are fun and with a little tweaking, they'll find their way into the book. I'm not saying the above doodles are examples of great cartooning, but exercises  like this get my "wheels turning".

And yes, the next step is to figure  out their body types and personalities.


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