Friday, May 28, 2010

Cat Fancy

I wasn't thinking of it at the time, but any of my ridiculous cat drawings are probably inspired by the great New Yorker cartoonist George Booth. I was working at a used book store in Chicago when I first ran across of book of his (Think good thoughts about a pussycat). I was laughing so hard I had tears running down my face. I could barely run the cash register.

The above is an exaggeration, of course, Topper is much fatter.

Faces and Species

A random assortment of facial parts. I do this sometimes when I'm in a rut, which happens even to geniuses like me.

Sorry for the delay, I was out for a few days with limited Internet availability.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Monster Mash

Ball point pen renderings of monster mouths. I was probably thumbing through some images of late '50's Jack Kirby monster comics.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Borrowed Cat

I was thumbing through a free comic my son had gotten of Jim Lee's Batman and decided to do some studies of his Catwoman. My main criticism with many of the modern comic artists is that they draw their females too lean. I much prefer a Black Widow as depicted by Gene Colan for example. That generation understood the value of curves.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Pope, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover

Another face from the newspaper. This one was from Ireland at a mass where the congregation was given copies of the Popes statement on the child abuse scandal to read. I fell in love with the character in the mans face, and by the fact that he was wearing a suit. In America, church-goers wear polo shirts for special occasions and over-sized t-shirts with American flags on them or Nascar drivers for regular Sundays. Sleeves optional.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gato Vato

Topper in a pensive moment with a ball point pen. I'm making amends for treating him so cruelly below. Actually, since we recently got a dog, Topper looks a lot closer to the images below than above.

On another matter, my hero Joe Kubert has recently published a 200+ page graphic account called "Dong Xoai, Vietnam 1965". This was a nice surprise since I had no prior knowledge of it. It's the true story of a Special Forces team defending a doomed village early in the war. Joe's drawn it on toned paper in pencil with white highlights. It's gorgeous and I'm reading it in 5 page bursts to make it last as long as possible. Here's a link to an interview with the master on Comic Book Resources:

Joe Kubert's in his mid- 80's and still out-producing guys a quarter his age. I'll never forget the advice he once gave me in the halls of the Kubert School- "Watch your fingers!" ( I was using the paper cutter at the time).

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Don Gato

Same night as previous, I think. I was using a ball point pen. The bottom sketch is why Topper must maintain his weight.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Cats, Cats, Cats and suddenly Batman! I was actually trying to push some caricatures of animals when Batman appeared. I was probably watching TV at the time, not unusual for me.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Then current events

Another newspaper swipe. This guy was being led out in cuffs by Federal Agents. He was dressed in a jogging suit. I was so wrapped up in the texture of his face that I never got to his jogging suit. The only jogging suit I ever had was in 1976 'cause Bruce Jenner wore one, and what could be cooler than that?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Rough

Another Vampirella pin-up rough. I can never remember her costume. I roughed in the figure loosely with the side of my pencil, then returned with the point to commit to details. It reminds me of an article I read in the 90's about classes that Marvel Comics held for its pencillers in the '70's or '80's. John Buscema would teach them the most efficient way to pencil for maximum gain i.e. meeting deadlines. His method was to use a chisel-point pencil to rough in layouts, avoiding any details, "make the inker earn his pay". This explains how Buscema was able to blow through his monthly page count so well. He was lucky his inkers at the time were from the Philippines (generally) and were used to doing top quality work for minimal pay.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


When money gets tight (er), I think of selling comic book pin-ups on ebay again. So far I haven't followed through with it, as I'd have to actually sit down, open up paints, dig out brushes, turn off the tv, etc. In the past, I've had success with only two characters: Catwoman and Vampirella (okay once an Elektra, but that was a commission). Sold every time. I tried a Modesty Blaise once but apparently anyone who's old enough to know who Modesty Blaise was is too old to use ebay.

Monday, May 17, 2010


My in-law's dog, Buzby named after Matt Buzby, the English footballer. I'll not mention that the dog bit me in the neck when I first met him. After all, he was upset, and I was new to him. To bring up something like that now, after all these years, would just be petty. Anyway, blue color-erase pencil does the job.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

March Suzuki Workshop

March brings the annual Suzuki Violin Workshop, a 2-day event which gives students a chance to hone their violin skills through a marathon of classes .... effectively demolishing a weekend. I'm usually the only parent not staring into a lap-top, I-phone, I-pad, I-dunno-what. I am, however, sketching the poor souls trapped on a campus with like-minded nerds, while 2 perfectly good drinking days drift away.
The nipple-high trouser-waist on the kid above reminds me of an Egon Schiele painting I once saw.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Committing to a line with Frank & Doug

Between 1995 and 1997, 2 teachers- Frank Stack and Doug Compton completely changed the way I draw. Thank God! Above is an example of the kind of obsessive scribbling I was doing as of '95 ( a friend's sheep and Frank Stack). I thought I was Feliks Topolski.

Underground Comix legend Frank Stack was teaching at the University of Missouri where I worked at the time, and he allowed me to sit in on his figure drawing classes. He would patiently talk to me about the importance of committing to a line while drawing, resisting the urge to sculpt a figure out of thousands of tiny, searching scratches. If one continues to draw using a series of timid 1/8th inch long tic-marks, the result is a fuzzy image that's probably not proportioned very well. I was fussing, not really drawing.

I hardly paid any attention to him. I was clearly a genius and besides, other students thought I "drawed real good!"
By the time I hit the Joe Kubert school in '96, I realized something had to give. I look at most of my figure drawing during that time makes me wonder what kind of rash the models had that coated them with such moss made up of tiny line segments.

By the summer of '96, I was committed to cleaning up my act. I would still search for a good line with pencil, but at least they were honest lines. I was amazed at the improvement. In 2 months, my sketchbooks looked like they belonged to another person.

In '97, I began the animation program at the Kubert School. Our instructor for in-betweening was Doug Compton. He was my living nightmare. He'd worked for Warner Bros., Ralph Bakshi, a lot of big names. He was storyboarding Pinky and the Brain at the time. He was a perfectionist and he wanted us to be too! Imagine! I spent most of my time in his class re-doing assignments and choking back tears of frustration.

A cruel caricature taken during class.

I noticed, however, that when he wasn't eviscerating someone, he was drawing. He never stopped drawing. When I had the chance, I'd pass his desk and watch in amazement as he'd lay down the richest, juiciest lines- fast. It was like the drawing was finished in his head and he was hurrying to catch up. No hesitation. When he drew, he took no prisoners! I learned from Doug what Frank was trying to teach me years earlier! Commit to a line- everyone searches for the right form and shape, but search with a strong, bold line and move on!

Two scans from my animation portfolio in '98 that got me work. Please buy Frank Stack's books available from Fantagraphics Publishers ( I think ) and visit Doug Compton at Whenever I draw, they're both rattling around in my head!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cat Abuse

More heavy-handed black Prisma-color with Topper as the victim. Cats are the perfect subjects, due to their propensity for naps. In fact one of the chief problems in drawing cats is making an interesting composition out of what is, essentially, a furry loaf of bread. A little more nose on this and I'd have made Topper into a hedgehog.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

It's so random

Had some technical difficulties last night- so the post is late. A random page of costume design ranging from the 12th to the 19th century.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I don't think it'll be news to our cat, Topper, who sometimes reads this, that I often re-imagine him as absurdly fat. Rivers of fur-covered flesh. Shortly after these drawings were done, Topper became allergic to his food (of all things) and lost 2 pounds in as few weeks. For the first time he was a normal size (sure he was dying, but he looked great!). Happy to report Topper is healthy and has regained those 2 pounds and then some!

Monday, May 10, 2010

All things must pass

My brothers Lancer edition of Conan the Adventurer featuring artwork by Frank Frazetta. I think this was the first thing I'd ever seen of Frazetta's. Trust me, in the late 60's, nothing else looked like this. This was the doorway to everything for me- comics, art, illustration, literature, pretty good for a .95 cent paperback laying in my brothers forbidden room!

Frazetta died today in Florida at 82. It was news I expected to hear any day, but I couldn't let it pass without mention. I toured the Frazetta museum with my Mother in 2001, which was appropriate, because I felt like I was 13 again with my eyes falling out of my head, grunting and whimpering occasionally. Well, the Internet will be full of cloying Frazetta obituaries written by boobs like me, I promise to return to our regularly scheduled program tomorrow.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Last of the Valkyries

I think this is the last of the Valkyries for a while, that I'm posting, anyway. I was most impressed that I can fake a horse as well as I did. The old school comic artists could pull practically anything out of their heads. This was due to the extremely poor page rate paid at the time. If you're making 5-10 dollars a page, you just don't have time to reference everything you're drawing. I recall an interview with the Kubert brothers in which they voice their exasperation at their father Joe being able to draw practically everything without reference, including a galloping horse running head on. Being underpaid has it's advantages!

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Yep, it's a skeleton wearing armour in a crypt that comes to life if you like, try to take it's sword away from it 'n stuff. My son approved of this one much more than my bastardized Picacu earlier.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Early February layover in Salt Lake City on the way to Sacramento. One of the cleanest airports I've ever seen. Above: same chair- different people- different phones- same comfort level about talking of their most intimate details in a normal tone of voice in front of strangers. At some point, humans will lose the ability to be alone, to appreciate silence. I'd love to go into how that relates to art, but I have to yell at some darn kids to git off my lawn!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mystery Pose

Well, I swiped this pose from somebody and I've been searching for days to find the original picture to post and compare. Assume that mine is superior.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A view to a diaper

Still dabbling with Medieval themes and impractical clothes. Based almost entirely on the troglodytes with which I work.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Finally finished with Romanticism by Jean Clay. A still-to-waifish-Valkyrie, for sure but I think I've found the religion for me. All you have to do is die in battle (something I could do quickly, at least), then get swept up on horseback behind a zoftig Valkyrie, check in at Valhalla, drink beer till Ragnarok.

Please see Journey into Mystery and the Mighty Thor by Jack Kirby to find out what the well-dressed Asgardian is wearing. (image copyright Essential Thor #2 by Marvel Comics).

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Comb Over

Same day as below, although I think I was winding down. I must've run out of steam on this, cause looking at the original piece- Turner by Varley- I would've been attracted to drawing the massive series of collars and lapels in addition to the tasteful comb-forward. I'm sure I started obsessing over eye wrinkles and then was forced to take out the trash, pay attention to my family or some such bother, and another doodle is lost to the ages. Odd that this doesn't jive with any of the other representations of Turner I've seen. He's almost handsome here and all the other images of him are hideous caricatures with the proportions of a dwarf.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

After Copley

Same day as below, this time picking on Copley. A preoccupation with comics and cartooning over the years have nudged away my early fine arts background. I still approach pencil drawings as though I'm using an inking tool. When using graphite, or the black Prismacolors I usually draw with, a wide range of effects are available. Yet I approach a drawing in large part as though I was working in ink; strokes of various sizes instead of delicate blends with the edge of the tool. I'm not complaining, it's just an observation. It does make me wish I'd sat down with a jar of ink since I was going to approach drawing that way in the first place. I think I'm going upstairs to do that right now!