Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Blog!

As has become a hallowed tradition here, I am posting this notice late. On May 27th, this blog celebrated two years of taking up space on the web!

Ah, it seems like just yesterday that my dear pal, the multi-talented John, suggested I start a blog as a way to establish my presence in cyberspace. I was a bit leery at first. I was a non-entity professionaly, and I was pretty computer illiterate. He told me not to worry: it was easy to get started, and plenty of other non-entities had blogs. He was right! It was easy to get started, and, professionally, at least, I was even a bigger unknown than I thought I was! In no time though, I smoothed out the more noticeable bugs, and soon this blog became the Cavalcade of Wimsey you all know and love. Or at least check out now and again. I remain cartooning's best-kept secret, though.

When I first began, I had grand notions of posting something new and exciting every day. What I failed to realize was that A) I don't experience things new  and exciting that are worth writing about every day, and, B) I'm lazy, and working on this blog takes valuable time that I could be spending goofing off and reading blogs by people who post every day.

I have scaled down my thinking since, and I now try to post at least once a week, although now and again I manage to squeeze out a few more. Quality over Quantity. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

To celebrate the anniversary of this blog, I have a special treat: Over the next few days, I will  re-run some of my "classic" posts from the past. For those of you new to this site, it  will give you a taste of what this blog is like. For you regular readers, it will  give you an excuse to not bother checking out this site for a spell. (PLEASE NOTE: In the grand tradition of this blog, I may not actually follow through on my promise, so don't be too surprised if you don't see any "Blog Classics".)

Seriously, though, doing this blog has been a blast, and I really appreciate all the kind, and sometimes not-so-kind, comments from all of you. As long as you keep reading, I'll keep writing and drawing.

For at least two more  years.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

You Say You Want an Evolution?

Regular readers of this blog know that lately I have been working on a personal project: A children's book entitled, "Oscar's Naughty Chicken".

I have been working on this project for awhile now, two years to be somewhat exact, and I have noticed a disturbing phenomenon.

When I first began doing the illustrations for the book, my design for the main character, the Chicken, was uniquely mine. I didn't want him to be too cute or cuddly, and I wanted him to be as expressionless as possible, so the reader would never really know what the Chicken was "thinking" as  he did all the "naughty" things the title promised. However, the more pages I produced, the "cuter" and more expressive the Chicken  got. In my latest drawings, the Chicken began to  look like the lead character in that dreadful Disney film, "Chicken Little"!

Maybe it was  the result of not working on the project consistently, or maybe it was the result of spending so many years slavishly following model sheets while working on licensed properties. Perhaps it was just good, old-fashioned laziness. Whatever the reason, my title character's look evolved  from page to page until the character on page one looked nothing like the character on page twelve.

As a result, I  have regrouped, and have decided to start re-drawing the book from  scratch. I know, a lot of you out there are probably screaming, "Hey, you idiot! Just fix it in Photoshop!" Sorry, but I just don't swing that way. I want this whole thing to be as "hand drawn" as possible.

Besides, all the unused illustrations will make great "Special Features" in the collector's edition of the book!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Happy Jack Cole Day!

No, today isn't the anniversary of the birth of master cartoonist Jack Cole. The creator of Plastic Man was actually born on December 14, 1914. I doubt this date was even a significant one in Mr. Cole's life. I really love his work, though, so I decided to declare today an unofficial holiday dedicated to him. I also wanted to post this doodle I did of Plaz and his pal, Woozy Winks.

So grab a pile of Jack Cole comics and celebrate! If you aren't familiar with his work, go out and buy one  of the numerous collections of his comics, and enjoy.

Then you'll feel like celebrating!

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Sky is Falling!

The sky is falling! Well, not really. I just have been feeling the same sense of doom and dread that the chicken in that old story felt. 

And it's all because of a chicken!

You see, for quite some time now, I have been  working on a children's book that I conceived and co-authored with Perfect Wife entitled, "Oscar's Naughty Chicken". I use the term "working" loosely. Truth be told, I haven't done jack-squat on it for ages. I don't know why.

It isn't because I am bad at deadlines. When I was back in cartooning school, the most important lesson they pounded into our soft little heads was, "Never miss a deadline". We were told an editor would rather work with a mediocre artist who  was on time, than an exceptional artist that was always late. I'm not sure if this is 100% true, but I took that lesson to heart, and throughout my "career" I have prided myself on hitting deadlines. I am late for everything else in my life, but I am fanatical about the deadline thing. 

Maybe I am late because I have no deadline on my own project. Without a deadline, there is no be pressure for me to finish. I can take as long as I please (and I am!). Or, it could be that since this book is my baby, I want it to be perfect. I have also experienced more than the usual amount of  "artist's block" on this piece, so that might be a factor. The block may be a  result of the lack of a deadline, though.

Whatever the reason for my foot-dragging, enough is enough. I am "between projects" right now, so this is the perfect time to finally finish this darn thing, so it can  finally come to rest in  clearance bins across the nation. I am going to finish this darn thing if it kills me. I will keep all of you out there up to date on my progress in the agonizing weeks and months to come.

Knowing myself, you can expect a repeat of this post shortly.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall, Who's the HARDEST One of All?"

When I was a lad, I spent a lot of time trying to draw my favorite cartoon characters. I would spend hours copying the drawings from newspaper strips, comic books and cartoons on television. I wanted my drawings to be perfect. I didn't just want to  draw something that looked somewhat like Bugs Bunny, I wanted to do a drawing that looked like the real Bugs, the one from TV. 

Some characters were easy to draw. Others were a bit more difficult. Often it wasn't the complexity of the character, it was that the artist's style was such an important factor in the character's "look". For example, Charlie Brown is a very simple design, and just about anyone can draw something that would be instantly identifiable as Charlie Brown. It wouldn't, however, look like THE Charlie Brown. Charles Schultz's unique drawing style was difficult, if not impossible to duplicate. Without his style any drawing of Charlie Brown just ain't Charlie Brown.

Characters designed for animation, that is, characters designed to be drawn exactly the same way by a number of different artists, should be easier, but that isn't always so. Take The Simpsons, for instance. They are very simple character designs, but it takes a lot of work to get them looking "right".

Getting things to look right, of course, is really just a matter of careful observation and keeping the principles of solid drawing in mind while you work. Even so, no matter how much training you have, there are certain characters that are a challenge to draw. For example, MAD Magazine's mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, is notoriously difficult. Even a lot of the longtime pros at the magazine cannot do a satisfying likeness.

I cannot be the only kid who had the frustrating experience of trying to capture the elusive likeness of some character. I wonder, is there  one character in particular that everyone finds difficult to draw? So, I am throwing this question out to all you cartoonists out there, professional or not:


I'm really curious to know what people think, so please leave your humble opines in the comments section. Tell your cartoonist friends (who normally wouldn't be caught dead reading this blog) to chime in too.  When I've tabulated the results, I'll let you know in a future post.

I think I know whose name will come out on top...

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Fat Donald

Here's another unclaimed convention sketch. I don't know why it wasn't claimed, but I do know that it was probably drawn around 1990 or so. That's about the same time I illustrated the story, "What's for Lunch... Supper?" for Walt Disney's Donald Duck Adventures #11.

In the story, Donald develops a massive eating disorder, and grows obese. His nephews try to help him out by sending him to fat camp, with the expected disastrous results.

It was a pretty funny story, written by Tom Yakutis. Unfortunately, I only did the pencils on it. The inking (by an inker I will not mention) was fairly terrible, and the results were awful. A shame, for as I said, I really liked the story. 

I've never really spoken about my time doing comics for Disney's short-lived self-published line. Maybe someday soon I will. Not that I have any really great stories to tell, but I really enjoyed working on comics featuring characters I loved my whole life. I finally felt like a "real" cartoonist. The experience helped my gain a lot of confidence as a cartoonist, too.

This is all stuff for another day, though. For now, just enjoy Donald Duck, really fat.

BTW, Donald Duck is  copyright by Walt Disney Productions, of course!


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

More Fun with Filler: The Finale of Kaptain Keen & Kompany #3

The public has spoken! Due to the underwhelming number of comments on my last post, this will be the last of my old work you will see for awhile. I guess the general public isn't interested in my skips down Memory lane. So, no more filler pages. That goes for Kaptain Keen, Mooseboy and all their wacky pals, too. Back into the vault they go. Apparently, that's where they belong. From now on, this blog will feature only spankingly fresh new artwork. Unless I change my mind again.

Kind of a shame, as I was planning on self-publishing a collection of all the old issues of KK&K later this Summer. I see now there really isn't the market for it.

Anyway, for the one or two of you out there waiting with baited breath, here is the conclusion of our story. As you may recall,  Kaptain Keen's evil twin, Major Meen had just been brought to this reality from an alternate dimension by Dr. Otto Fingerhut. Dr. Fingerhut's brain now rests in an alligator's body, thanks to a previous battle with Kaptain Keen. The Doctor hopes to enslave Major Meen and use him to destroy the good Kaptain and his teenage sidekick, Mooseboy.

Let's see how it all plays out:


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