Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006, acknowlegements and appreciation

What a terrific year 2006 was.
What a blessing it was to have worked with such cartoon luminaries as Peter Avonzino, Tom Conner, Chris Duffy, Claudia Katz, Joan Hilty, Jeff Hong, Mike Carlo, Heather Kenyon, Dave Roman, AL PARDO, Chris Reccardi, Manny Galan, Rachel Gluckstern, Bobbie Paige, Dwayne C. Hill, Lynne Naylor, Dan Yaccarino, Andy Suriano, Stephen (he spells his name correctly) Sandoval, Clarke Sager, Jackson Publick, Jared Deal and Lynne Naylor. And my dear old King Features compatriot, Frank Caruso. Special thanks and a tip of the inkwell cap to my boys, Pete Browngardt and Phil Rynda, and my girl, Melissa Johnson.
I thank you all.
What a lucky slob I am.
(Even luckier if I managed to spell everyone's name right.)
As good as this year was for me, professionally, it's gonna get better in 2007.
This I know.

Fellow Bloggites, please return early this week.
I'm gonna start off '07 right.
With scans of Toth originals.
So y'better come back.

Saturday, December 30, 2006


...though please note, the new year is 2007, not 1950.
My very best wishes,

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The packages!
The wrapping!
The caroling!
The wassailing!

All this Christmas, and hubbub--
I'm too tired to post this week.
But check out this Holiday art!

Happy Holidays to all,
Peace to all,

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Weekly Shank.


Freaking hilarious. For some reason, this stuff kills me!

Hellboy Jr. character sketches

These're for Keenan, who requested I post some Hellboy Junior stuff.
Like I said, I don't have much that hasn't already seen print. But I found these on the back of a page of unused (and not very interesting) inks.
I'll say this-- I sometimes get recognition for doing the Harvey style well, and I generally poo-poo the idea. But that Wendy's pretty frickin' sharp, I don't mind sayin'....

Hilarity ensues...

Remember when Flash was new, and web-toons were the big thing?
I was there, man.

I sold this idea to Funny Garbage, who were then doing the Cartoon Network website.
I did no other work on it than this drawing, and the concept. I dunno if they ever created the cartoon. I think they did.

The idea was: a PBS think-tank style show, like the McGlaughlin Group, but featuring the unintelligible growls and gurbles of the creatures from the Herculoids.
I made big money from this, baby!

DEXTER'S LAB Character Sketches

As I mentioned elsewhere on my blog, when I'd gotten the DEXTER job from DC, I did't feel comfortable drawing the characters "on model". So, I played around with their looks, trying to find my specific voice with their designs. I unearthed these this morning, my take on Dexter's parents.

Spotting Blacks, part 1

Matt Jenkins resently requested that I jot down and share some of my theories on spotting blacks for the comics page. For those of you not familiar with the term, "spotting blacks" means strategically placing areas of black within a drawing. It's almost a lost artform. Very few comics artists, especially mainstream comics artists spot black areas any more. I suppose in this day of photoshop bells and whistles, it seems an anachronistic way of creating depth for an illustration.
But it is a lovely art. There's a finesse and specialty to spotting blacks. And it doesn't serve exclusively to create the illusion of depth. It can be used to create mood. It can be used as a storytelling tool, a way to specifically focus your reader's eye. And, at it's most ephemeral, it can be used to create a rhythm, and vibration to an entire comic book page.
I love spotting blacks. It's hard to do, but very rewarding. I'm okay at it, and I've gotten quite a lot of good advice about how to do it through the years.
Some notable wisdom:
Almost 20 years ago, Kyle Baker told me that spotting blacks was "adding little images of white in large black fields, or little images of black in large white fields."
Keith Giffen, more than 20 years ago, held up a page of the LEGION he'd just completed, and asked me, "What jumps out at you immediately on this page? The black areas, right?"
And, to that point, Jaime Hernandez, arguably the finest black-spotter in the business today, responded to my asking for advice in this area by saying "Always put your character in black clothes."
Remember, the eye will always go to a black area on the printed page.
There's a lot of complexity to spotting blacks, so I'll try and organize my thoughts to continue onto part two. Anyone with their own theories are certainly welcome to post!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Odd Shank, Odd Camp

More odd drawings from the Spumco/Games days.
Ren and Stimpy by Don Shank, and Ren solo by Bob Camp.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

I went to the Newark Museum last weekend to view the Masters of American Comics exhibition there. It's a great museum, actually, if you've never been, and if you can get to it.
I knew most of the comic-strips on display there. I'd seen them in print before. Still, to view the original art was a treat.
Particularly the sketches of Lyonel Feininger, one of my favorite of the early 20th century strip artists. I'd never seen his work up close before, (his cartoon work, his fine art paintings are viewable in many museums).
I really must recommend to younger cartoonists to investigate these early geniuses of modern cartooning.
If you love the pushed stylizations of Gabe Swarr, of Lynne Naylor and Chris Reccardi, you may find you really love Feininger's work.
If you're impressed by the simplicity and power of SAMURAI JACK, or Glen Murikami's work, you'd possibly like the work of Roy Crane.
Love Bruce Timm? Then you're probably aware of Alex Toth's influence, and Jack Kirby's influence on his work. But are you aware of Toth and Kirby's influences, Milton Caniff, Noel Sickles and Frank Robbins?
If the creepy screwball charm of Katie Rice's girl drawings interest you, check out Cliff Sterrett's POLLY AND HER PALS.
If the sleak design sense of FOSTER'S HOME FOR IMAGINARY FRIENDS is your cup of tea, perhaps you might like Rea Irvin's comics. Or John Held's....
Our history as cartoonists is rich, and full. As good as what's in front of us can be, I often think it's wise to look behind us to see where we're able to go.
Check if the exhibition is travelling anywhere near your home town. If it is, please see it. If it's not, I can't recommend any better cartoon primer than the Smithsonian Book of Newspaper Comics.
That is my bible.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving tease; Stephen does SpongeBob

Thought I'd share this with you folks. Recently, I finished a two page SpongeBob story for Nick Magazine. Here's a panel's worth, with non-final color by the Sno-Cone studios, art by me, and story by me with Gweelok. Don't know when it'll be coming out, but when I know I'll give a shout. This was fun to do. My first real SpongeBob work. Not the first time I'd drawn the character professionally though. Anyone care to guess what my first official shot at drawing SpongeBob was?

Random thoughts, Warner directors

Recently, I storyboarded a project for Nickelodeon via Frederator called 6 Monsters. The director of my segment is a gentleman named Manny Galan. Manny's the fellow responsible for all of the cool bumpers you see on Nickelodeon.
It was fun to board this cartoon---the designs are pleasing, and the script called for a lot of cartoony acting. Thinking about my work on the job, I realized how much I'd channeled my love of Bob McKimson cartoons into the board. So much of my style when drawing cartoony animation comes from Clampett and McKimson, and Rod Scribner and Emery Hawkins. I only wish my drawings were half as good as theirs. As a child, McKimson was my favorite director. Clampett too, but in a more primitive, "I like his work, but I'm also half creeped out by it" kind of way. You know, the kind of way that implies how influential it is. Clampett's very much gotten his due, particularly in the last ten years, but McKimson continues to be underrated, I think. For me, Chuck Jones is overrated. As a teenager, I was taught to say, "Jones was the best director Warners had", but the truth is, I thoroughly disliked his cartoons as a child. Road Runner cartoons were frustrating and dull, I thought. "What's Opera, Doc?" was weird looking, and just plain unfunny (today, I think it's droll, if not funny; gorgeously art directed, but highly pretentious). Worst of all were my feelings for "One Froggy Evening", a cartoon I thoroughly hated as a child. I'd get the most exasperated feeling watching that short---why that fellow with the mustache never took a rock to that damned frog was always beyond me.
Of course, Jones is a genius, and there are some cartoons of his I truly love. "Wakiki Wabbit" is great. The mad scientist cartoon with the first appearance of the hairy, orange monster (later to be named Gossamer by Jones, pretentiously enough ) is one of the truly great Warners cartoons. The opera cartoon starring Bugs and Giovanni Jones is genius, I think. And, for me, "The Rabbit of Seville" is probably Jones' best work, beautifully timed and funny as hell.
It was refreshing to arrive at Spumco, many years ago, and find people who preferred Clampett's cartoons over Jones'.
Still, I was carefull never to mention how much I liked Friz's cartoons.
Folks at that studio, back then, or at least the folks I spoke to, were likely to take a rock to you, if you said you liked Friz.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

No blogging today

Check back tomorrow. In the meantime, check Phil's Blog. He's got a cool post about Tezuka's Buddha there.
Or check Don Shank's Blog. He's posted awesome paintings of "Hammamie Schmammies".
Andy Suriano's always posting something cool. Hey! Gweelok's even posted some new stuff after a while of inactive blogging,
as has his TOTAL PACKAGE.
Check in with them, or any of my friends that're linked to the side.
Then check back with me tomorrow.
I'll tell you why I'm not a fan of Chuck Jones' cartoons.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Weird Shank Ren and Stimpys

Not only was Don Shank one of the best guys, in my opinion, to work on Ren and Stimpy, I thought he was one of the best guys who drew them weird.

Sgt. Popeye's etc., etc.....

Unused concept for a rock and roll Popeye style guide. Drawn quite a few years ago, probably 15 years.

Five bucks to anyone who names all the characters (it really ain't that hard.)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

In comic stores today....

For the first time in a while, I think, I've got work out in a comic book.
CARTOON NETWORK'S ACTION PACK #7 is out today, and I've got 3 pages of KIDS NEXT DOOR comics in there.
I'm posting a page here, just my inks, before the letters and colors. I kind of like it better this way, but that's just me.
And I do want to thank Uncle Phil Rynda for his help with the page layout.

Maybe there's other fun stuff in there to read, I dunno. I kind of can't look at the usual comic book adaptations of animated shows. I'm not sure where this theory came from, but generally today, artists adapting animation to comics draw, or are instructed to draw the art as if it were for a coloring book. No blacks, no depth, hardly even any variation in line. I suppose to licensing people this keeps the art more in the style of the animated shows, more "On Model", if you will. But it makes it hard for me to look at, honestly.
My favorite animation-to-comics adaptation is Carl Bark's Donald Duck. Barks, knowing he needed to have Donald read on the page immediately, changed the character's blue sailor tunic to black, soon into his run on the feature.
Of course, in the early nineties, when I first started running into Disney licensing artists, we would trade stories about our favorite Disney cartoonists. I mentioned that Barks was, next to Gottfredson, perhaps my favorite and recieved a cool " Oh, yes. He's fine, I suppose, but his Duck is always off model" response.

the Alley Cats

A drawing I did for a bowling shirt, a year or two back.
Kind of a cool drawing, but a little busy for the back of a shirt,
I think.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Friday plug

So, everyone out there is reading ALIEN BABY in the Weekly World News, yes?
There's a midget criminal in it!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


For anyone who'd like to get a gander at some severely cool comics art, I recommend you go over to Gerry Alanguilan's site, Gerry's an extremely talented artist himself, working in mainstream comics I believe, but he's also acting as historian of the Filipino comics scene. Check out his Comics Museum. His scans of golden age covers to Philippine comics are absolutely sending me. Truly inspiring work.


Here I was furthering my self-education, emulating Kurtzman as best I could. I did better with this piece than with the aforementioned "Scarlet Wedgie" art, but still, from my 13 year vantage point, didn't quite hit the mark. Some not-so-bad stuff in it, though, I think.
The character and story are "Comics Ace" Heidi MacDonald's; I believe I did this as a favor to her, or something. She wanted to hand it out at conventions. Heidi thought farts were hilarious, you couldn't mention the vapors around her without getting a huge guffaw.
This is the inside cover, page 2, the cover (page one) appearing as part of my final post today.
Happy November, everyone!

Battlefart, page 3

Battlefart, pages 4 and 5

Battlefart, page 6

Battlefart, page 7

Battlefart, page 8 and cover

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Blogger seems to be having issues today....

I'll post art tomorrow.
Happy Halloween, by the way.
Also, note I've been adding links, all required surfing, I assure you.
In the meantime, I'll give a few shout outs to some folks who've posted here:
"Jenny" from the Blackwing Diaries, and Blackwing Sketchbook;
the esteemed theoretician, Edward Fitzgerald (is that how you spell "theoretician?");
fine artist June Parrish Cookson;
Tom Dougherty, who tried to instuct me via post on how to add links (many thanks, Tom!);
the very astute "newsboyarizona", who, when I mentioned Capt. Marvel as one of my favorite superheroes, asked whether I was referring to C.C. Beck's creation, or Marvel Comic's "Mar-VELL"! For the record, I really had the 40's/Fawcett Comics character in mind, but I actually do like Mar-Vell, in a weird kind of way. I'm not so into the early green and white uniformed, Gene Colan character, but once he puts on that red, splashy costume, I thought he was kind of rad...."FaanTASTIC!"--K-TANNGG!!
Also, much love to my boys Al Pardo and Mike Carlo, who used to torture me when I'd show up at work in the morning by giggling as they watched lousey cartoons like "Friend in Your Face".

Is it hot in here, or is it just me...?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


A million years ago, oh God, way before the Earth's crust cooled, Keith Giffen and Andy Helfer (then plotter and editor at DC Comics, respectively) asked me to write the JUSTICE LEAGUE.
What an honor, especially for a guy who was only 23 at the time.
Of course, like any good, lazy, didn't know an awesome opportunity when it hit him in the face 23 year old, I ignored the invitation, and never did a goddam bit of work towards that end, letting it fritter away and pass.
Shockingly, Keith still wanted to work with me, and five years after the JLA incident, invited me to draw a concept he'd created called the SCARLET WEDGIE. Keith had written and layed out an 8 page story, and wanted me to do the final art.
Now, I was a stupid 23 year old, but a much, much smarter 28 year old! Dutifully, I drew up the story!
Shortly after I'd drawn it, the publisher that was going to print the job went belly up, and that's that.
There you go.
I still have the original art--never seen before by anyone, but I really prefer not to show it. It just stinks.
Quasi Spumco/Kurtzman. Poorly spotted blacks. Just not that good.
The best thing that exists from Keith's concept that I generated is this little piece, used as a portion of a cover for WIZARD (if I remember correctly), which was promoting the new publisher before it fell apart. The color guide was beautifully excecuted by Bill Wray.

I haven't heard from Keith Giffen since then.
Give a call, Keith, I'm ready and available to work!

...Found it...

Located that Big Boy Comics sample that I did.
It's just scan of a xerox, I've no idea where the original went to.
This is okay, I think. I'd draw things a little bit differently today.
Nice spotting of blacks, though, feels nice and rich, with a bit
of depth.
Not so crazy about the way I drew the eyes.

More development drawings for Pilot

These were fun to draw, and I don't think they came out too badly.

Storyboard, part 1

Deleted scene from my third "test" storyboard, which I thought was my best.

Storyboard, part 2

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bad-Ass Kid!

Too cool for School!!

Cool kids

You wish you could hang out with them.

Dorky Kids

Note the dorkiness.

Kyle does Vinnie

Years ago, Robbie Busch and I egged Kyle Baker on to draw like his former boss, Vinnie Coletta.
This is what Kyle drew.
I kept it.
Kyle never finished it, didn't letter it or nothing, but the joke is

(wait for it......)
that the girl in the foreground is whistful.
Because her portly boyfriend has bigger
knockers than she has.
Note: Kyle, with a bit of direction from Robbie and I, managed to get that romantic, wall-eyed quality to his female that Vinnie was so adept at!
In the same sitting, Kyle banged out an illustration inspired by Atlas-era Marvel Monsters, called CHEESOR (complete with an Artie Simek style logo.)
But I lost Cheesor somewheres, dang it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

On the Run

I've got some good stuff to show you, including a Kyle Baker piece, but I'm on the run today, and will post stuff tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime, make sure you check your local listings to see when Comedy Central's DRAWN TOGETHER is airing. My friend Pete Avonzino, the show's supervising director, tells me new episodes of DT are on, and you might catch a glimpse of some of my boardwork for the program!
Best to all,

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fleischer Drawing Theories, Part One

Again, this art was created for the animators at MainFrame during production on the Popeye Holiday special.

...and remember, Folks---

One of the all time best restaurant-bathroom notes I've ever encountered.

Big Boy

If Big Boy is not one of the finest spokes-characters of all time, I'll eat a bug!
(That's two bugs I'm slated to digest, if you're following my blog....)

Several years ago, I tested to be the artist on the Big Boy comic book, which then was distributed through the various Big Boy restaurants nationwide (I don't know if they still publish the comic or not...). The editors were impressed with the drawings I generated (shown here), but ultimately I priced myself out of the job. Not a big deal (my friend Craig Boldman was writing the book, and it would have been fun to work on it with him), but I do kind of dig the samples I cooked up. Somewhere, I've got the comic page I inked, I'll have to find that and post it soon.


Chris did this self-portrait over ten years ago,
and today, surprisingly, he does in fact look exactly
like this drawing.


But they do work.
Test 'em, go ahead, you'll see.
If they don't work, I'll eat
a bug.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Alien Baby

Folks, I just wanted to quickly plug my new strip (handsomely aided by
Pete "Gweelok" Browngardt's loopy humor) appearing in the WEEKLY WORLD
NEWS. It's called ALIEN BABY, based on reports previously published
in that esteemed paper. It began running a couple of weeks ago, and
I'd really like to know what folks out there think about it. Lemme know!

Lousey Links, an Ode to my Uncle

You'll notice I've got two links up. Over there, you should be able to see 'em.
But don't click on them. They don't work.
I've tried.
They worked at one time, last night, but I messed with them, and now they're
But I'll figure this business out, no doubt with Uncle Phil Rynda's help.
Phil very patiently, very calmly walked me through the process last night, as
he's patiently and calmly helped me out on several other occassions in the
past. He's a good guy to have in your corner, that Phil is. An Italian Boy! (with
some Polish stock in him, to be sure, but still a paisan.)
I like Phil, a lot. I like his weird obsession with South American cartoonists.
I like his Grandma Carmella---his whole family in fact.
I like his screwy little drawing of a chihuahua, which I'm posting
here, alongside an Argentine original, with its overlay, which
Phil generously gave me a few months ago.
Phil helps me continuously, he's like that, and one time in the past,
I thanked him, and asked him how he got so adept,
so capable at helping.
"I am the sh*t!", he replied jokingly,
but he's right.