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Monday, December 14, 2009

Getting Even with Shakespeare



Here's an illustration job I recently completed for a play called Getting Even with Shakespeare.  The production is an official selection in the Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s Winterfest 2010.  Here's the premise (from the website):

"Five Shakespearean tragic heroes are in a New York City bar...and they are pissed. According to the laws of metaphysics, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet are required to "attend" every performance of the shows that bear their names.  When not reliving their horrible deaths on a nightly basis, the characters spend time at the bar where they drink away their sorrows, settle old scores, and partake in their favorite pastime - plotting revenge on Shakespeare, the man who put them in this very unenviable position.  The characters’ four century old routine is thrown into flux when Matt, a 30 year old lawyer and unsuccessful college playwright, enters the bar with an idea that may finally allow them to get even."

As you might guess, the tone of the play is very light and the hi-jinx of the characters is reminiscent of the follies of Wile E. Coyote trying to ensnare the Road Runner.  Therefore, the playwright, Matt Saldarelli, suggested we make strong allusions to the old cartoons by setting the Shakespeare characters in the desert.



The two images shown above will be printed out as post cards for promotional use. For the play's website, I drew a third panel to create a strip:


The performances are on Jan. 27th - 29th at 9pm at the Manhattan Repertory Theater (303 W 42nd St) and the $20 tickets can be purchased by calling 646-329-6588.

As the playwright says: "You don't have to know anything about Shakespeare to enjoy this show (i.e., there's a lightsaber duel between William Shakespeare and a Terminator)."  I can't wait!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Trip to New Zealand

Well, it's four months and I've finally found the time to throw together some video from our trip to New Zealand. Just before we left, I got a Flip MinoHD. It's small, portable, and extremely easy to use.

Unfortunately since it weighs next to nothing, every small shake of the hand is picked up by the camera. Even with Apple's iMovie video smoothing turned on, it still distracts you from the subject matter. This lead me to take a lot of "art shots" with my hand resting on an object, and thus, the music overlay...

Thanks to Christine and Janine for a fine vacation and tour of their wonderful country!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Michel Fiffe's Website



I recently designed and created a website for cartoonist Michel Fiffe.  Not only does the site feature some of Fiffe's great comics, he's got some fantastic interviews with other cartoonists.  Check it out.  I command you.



Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wedding Animation




Last summer, John Kuramoto and I were commissioned to make a short animation for a wedding.  The short was added to a surprise video for the bride and groom which was shown at the reception.  Our task was simple -- make a quick retelling of the couple's origins.

It was a typical story:

Boy meets Girl.
Boy and Girl go on a date.
Girl doesn't realize it's a date.
Boy surprise-kisses the Girl.
Girl gets mononucleosis.
Boy and Girl eventually fall in love.

All that shown in 35 seconds.  Looking back on it, I'd say we did a fine job.  The story boards and animation were done by John, and I did the drawings.




Bonus video that I had nothing to do with!
Here's another animation John recently did for the comedian Patton Oswalt.  The drawings were done by the excellent cartoonist, Brian Musikoff.  I had the pleasure of going with Brian and John to see Mr. Oswalt do a show not long ago at the New York Comedy Festival.  This bit was one of the highlights of the show, and I think the literal animation style makes it even funnier!  (Warning, this might not be entirely appropriate for your work since it contains cursing and some adult humor. Also it might offend your religious sensibilities...)


Friday, November 20, 2009

826NYC Workshop Logos

Not too long ago, I helped out with a creative writing workshop over at 826NYC.  Over four weeks, the kids split into groups and created a restaurant, complete with theme, menu, and back-story.  With direction from the two teams, I drew up a logo for them. Here they are, along with everything the kids wrote.


Who doesn’t enjoy music with a meal?  We at Alice in Wonderland’s Eat to the Beat agree, and we acknowledge that everyone has their own musical taste, which is why we have jukeboxes at the tables, each with their own genre of music.  Of course, we also realize that some people (like our very own chef), enjoy their meals in silence, and so there’s a “No Jukebox” section as well.  Tables are complete with teacup chairs and lazy susans that spin your meal along with the tunes.

Conveniently located in the heart of Times Square, Alice in Wonderland’s Eat to the Beat takes you down a rabbit hole of adventure and delicious food.  We’re a great restaurant for families and tourists so that everyone can have a fabulous time in the city.

You might not want to work here because the chef sometimes spits in the staff meals, but don’t worry, the customers’ meals are safe!  We believe that the secret to our marketing success is the subliminal and often unkind messages about the owners that our marketing person plants in our ads.  Our owners are always involved in office accidents because the designer deliberately made their office floor too slippery, because we all know that the owners are embezzling money from the staff paychecks and hiding secret cameras everywhere!

So...Even though the owners want to fire everyone, our marketing person threatens to quit on a daily basis, the chef hates his job, and the designer’s job is done but she still needs a job, this is a true family establishment and everyone has stayed together because of one thing: We love love providing everyone else with wonderful food and peppy tunes.

MENU

Appetizers:
Nachos
Dumplings

Entrees:
Pizza
Corndogs
Grilled Cheese

Sides:
Rice
Mashed Potatoes
Mixed Vegetables
French Fries

Desserts:
French Toast
Donut Holes
Sumo-Sized Sundae
Pancakes

Beverages:
All available in SUMO-SIZE
Milkshakes
Tesa and Coffee (Hot or Cold)
Soda
Drink-Me Mystery Drink

— OPEN FOR BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER —

Serving tourists and families in Times Square since 2009.

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT EAT TO THE BEAT!

“World class chefs slave over the hot stove for you!”

“Potential for crab cheesecake!”

“Eat with music! It’s full of people!”

“Eat a lot, then dance it off!”

“Eat to the Beat has different music, entertaining service, and they’re kind to customers. They make the people smile!”

“Best nachos on the planet!”

“Even though the food and theme are uncreative and don’t make sense, the service is great. And the food will still be the greatest thing you’ll eat. You’re sure to have a great, fun time. It’ll make your day once you’ve been there.”


One day, the owner, Ahtziri, went scouting for a restaurant space for her dream restaurant.  The first space she found was too small, but the second space was perfect.  Then Ahtziri realized that she needed a designer, so she put up flyers calling for the best designers in the United States to meet with her.

Ahtziri selected Alexis as her designer because she was the youngest and the most talented out of the 600 designers who showed up.  Ahtziri wanted a bowling restaurant, but Alexis wanted a spooky restaurant, so they combined their ideas and came up with SKULL BOWL.

Together, the owner and designer searched many restaurants looking for the perfect chef. They discovered the world-famous Chef Sebastian, who was unhappy at his old restaurant.  Ahtziri told him that he would have the freedom to do anything he wanted at SKULL BOWL.  Chef Sebastian was ecstatic to join the family and to create spooky food.

Joshua joined the team as the marketing expert.  Ahtziri, Alexis, and Sebastian found him at The Champagne Market where he was promoting pears and grapes.  It was obvious that Joshua was perfect for the marketing position because he did an excellent job selling such under-celebrated produce.  His pears and grapes eventually became a part of the SKULL BOWL menu.


Menu


Appetizers:
Nachos
Skull-Shaped Bread w/ Tomato Dipping Sauce


Entrees:
Bowling-Ball-Sized Meatballs and Spaghetti
Italian & Chinese Foods that look Spooky


Side Dishes:
Rice & Beans
Pears
Grapes

Desserts:
All Kinds of Pie
Cake & Ice Cream
Pudding w/ Gummy Worms
Apples

Beverages:
Soda
Juice
Milk

— OPEN 24/7 EXCEPT HOLIDAYS —

Located worldwide in a spooky place near you!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Second Chance Vance - Week 9



Will the Paparazzi Man get his just desserts?  Or will Vance give him a rare Third Chance?  Find out in the thrilling conclusion to Chapter 2!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Figure Drawing 8

Here's a different inking version of the drawing I posted a while ago.  For this version I used a nib.


Ink on Vellum, 12"x9"

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Second Chance Vance Returns



My free web comic is back and now has its very own website!  SecondChanceVance.com is now up and running.  There, you will find a dark comedy that follows our anti-hero, Vance, and his creator in their parallel quest to shape modern American culture through intimidation and social satire (respectively).

Chapter 2 continues with this week's penultimate installment, but I would suggest you reacquaint yourselves with Mr. Vance by reading from the beginning.  Use this post for comments about the new site and/or the story!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Marvel Strange Tales #3



Much like the first two issues, I colored the introduction page to the new issue of Marvel Strange Tales #3 which is at your local comic book store today.  Unlike the pages posted here, those versions have exciting dialogue!  Look for this cover:




But wait, there's more!  For this third and final issue, Nick Bertozzi drew (and I colored) an outro page too!  That's right, two pages of brilliant Watcher color for the price of one!  If you enjoy these fine drawings, you can now own them by venturing over to Mr. Bertozzi's wonderful site (designed by yours truly) to purchase them.



But wait, there's more!  The outro page features what (to my knowledge) is the first dark-skinned Watcher in comics history.  I pulled an all-nighter to color these pages and sometime around 4:30 in the morning I thought to myself, "Why are all of these Watchers pasty white?"  I was pleased to see the editor approved this monumental whimsy, and in doing so, improved alien-race relations everywhere.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Travel Sketches: St. Petersburg


Charcoal on Paper, 8"x10"

I went to St. Petersburg, Russia a couple of years ago on my honeymoon.  We did a lot of tourist stuff (including a marathon tour of the Hermitage) but also had a couple of days to relax and lounge about in our favorite places.   This sketch is of one of the huge statues acting as pillars holding up one of the minor entrances to the Hermitage.  As you can kind of tell by the splatters on the drawing, it began raining before I finished.


Yours truly posing with the giant sculptures.


More giant statues                              Isaakievsky Park

Monday, October 19, 2009

Figure Drawings 7


Pastel on Paper, 18"x 24"

Since so much of cartooning is straight line drawing, I was trying to break my habit of doing mostly line drawings of live figure models.  This style, which I made by smearing my finger with pastel and then smudging the paper accordingly, is sort of the antithesis of line art.  I've found that because the image produced is so subtle, a darker color of pastel tends to works better.  Here are a couple examples of lighter hues.



Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ACT-I-VATE Primer Is Released!



A while back, I posted about a short story I colored for the ACT-I-VATE Primer book (read about it here).  Well that book is finally available for sale.  Get it at your local comic book store (or failing that, there's always the online bookstores.)

And for those of you that live in New York, come on out to the release party tonight at Bergen Street Comics in Brooklyn.  I'll be there!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Five Minute Figure Sketches


Pastel on Paper, 18"x24"

Five minute sketches can be a good way of filling the paper without getting too precious.  I have a tendency to dwell on my mistakes which is most often counter-productive.  A short time limit forces me to embrace my errors, and in the immortal words of Tim Gunn, "Make it work!"



Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Marvel Strange Tales #2



I colored the introduction page to the Marvel Strange Tales #2 which is on the stands today.  Not only is The Watcher once again featured but also the full likeness of She-Hulk and Nick Fury (complete with an ear-stud)!  Look for this cover at your local comic book store:



Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Travel Sketch: London


Charcoal on Paper, 9"x12"

I recently got back from a fantastic vacation to New Zealand.  While looking through our photos, I was reminded of some of the sketches I did on past vacations.  Last year, I was lucky enough to have a spare hour during a nice Fall day to sit down and sketch a couple of statues at the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park, London.  Here's an in-progress photo before I (perhaps mistakenly!) decided to make a black matte background.



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Stuffed! Is Released!

I spent a couple of months last year coloring Stuffed! a 120 page graphic novel written by Glenn Eichler and drawn by Nick Bertozzi.  I share co-coloring credit with Mr. Bertozzi, who showed me the ins and outs of selecting the best color palette for a specific scene.

We based the coloring style on  HergĂ©'s TinTin, using clean, flat colors with location-based palettes.  In the beginning, Nick would provide me with color guides signaling what hues he wanted for certain things.  As the book progressed, I took on more of those choices.  Here is an example color guide and the finished page:

The book was published by First Second and can be found at your local book stores.  Glenn Eichler wrote a pretty funny entry over at the First Second website about his first day as a Published Author hanging out in Barnes and Noble. 
 
One last note, I was pretty pleased to see that my boredom-inspired Easter Egg made it to print -- when I saw Nick's drawing of a fanny-pack-wearing, mullet-ed tourist in Times Square, the look on his face told me he was a zombie.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Marvel Debut: Strange Tales #1


My last post touched on some uncredited work I did for Nick Bertozzi's story in the Marvel book Strange Tales.  Since that post, the editor asked Nick to do a last minute introduction page for the book for which I did the coloring (except for The Watcher's underoos which are tighty-whities, naturally).  The book hit stores today and you can see my credited work on the very first page!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Learning Process

When I decided to make a career change a few years ago, there was a lot I didn't know about the comics industry.  For one, the creation-to-print time can span several years.  Some of the projects I first worked on are finally coming out, and it has helped me realize just how much I've learned in a little under two years!

Instead of going back to full-time school to get an art degree, I opted more for the "learn on the job" approach working as an intern.  Nick Bertozzi was my first teacher (whom I continue to work with!)  I've previously posted about my coloring role for the upcoming graphic novel, Stuffed!, and his online web comic, Persimmon Cup, but the very first thing I worked on for Nick was a short story in Strange Tales for Marvel due out this September.  (Pick one up at your local comic book store!)


The short story about M.O.D.O.K. introduced me to such exciting cartooning basics as: Cutting Paper! Ruling Pages! and the all important Erasing Pencil Marks!  While doing such work can feel trivial, it was clear that there was a "Wax On, Wax Off" method behind it (focus Daniel-san!) teaching me what dimensions to use, how to lay out a page, what type of line weight to use in certain situations, and how to letter a page.  It also allowed me to see the art as it was being penciled, inked, and on the off chance that there were mistakes, how to make corrections.  The Strange Tales story also gave me a first taste of coloring in Photoshop.


Not long after working with Nick, I also started working in the Deep Six Studio which introduced me to a wide array of styles and working methods. There, I did a some work on projects like The Alcoholic drawn by Dean Haspiel (and written by Jonathan Ames) and drawing city backgrounds for Simon Fraser's Nikolai Dante.


But by and large I worked most with Tim Hamilton.  Tim's high contrast style means there are lots of ink in the shadows which is perfect for his adaptation of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 released this month in beautiful hardcover (available at bookstores everywhere.)  Tim would ink a page and leave the large areas of black for me to fill in which allowed me to hone my brush technique.  While I didn't help out with the whole book, I was happy to have a hand in such a fine piece of work (and I even earned a "special thanks" at the beginning!)  Here's an interview with Ray Bradbury that shows more of the inside of the book:


After a page was inked and the pencil marks were erased, I would scan in the artwork and begin the basic coloring (flats).  I'd learned to use Photoshop from coloring Persimmon Cup, but Tim used different techniques and would apply various effects to a page after I did the basics, so it all was a great opportunity to see things from a different angle.


Another recently-printed project I worked on was a short story drawn by Mr. Bertozzi (also written by Jonathan Ames) for the Next-Door Neighbor Series at Smith Magazine.  The comic appears in Jonathan Ames' recent book, The Double Life Is Twice As Good.  (Nick recently wrote a nice blog post about it.)

So while I didn't get any technical credit for working on all of these projects, I benefited greatly from the experience and still feel a sense of accomplishment when they finally are available to the public!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cape Testing Poses


Every week, I have the pleasure of working a shift at the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co.  Anyone that has visited Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. can tell you that our Capery is one of the finest, and therefore, one of our main attractions.  So while I was proud to be employed by the largest supplier of super-heroic items in the tri-state area, I earned a real sense of accomplishment when I received my Official Cape Tester (OCT) License.  (As you may well know, only OCT License holders can operate Capery Machinery.)


While customers are trying on a cape, we like to recommend some basic poses to simulate how the cape might feel in certain heroic situations*.  In the past, the OCT might throw out some audible suggestions that could go misheard in all the excitement or fall into the cultural divide.  Therefore when I heard mention of a drawing of basic poses to be posted on the wall, I volunteered my resources.

Outside of figure drawing, I've never really attempted to draw muscular people.  As it turns out, this can be a challenge.  Fortunately, the direction I got was "generic superhero" which allowed me to cull from many excellent resources.  Below are the basic recommended poses and my first renderings.


Flying
A transport necessity for all caped heroes.  The arms are typically held outstretched at an obtuse angle from the trunk of the body.  Either the left or right leg can be raised.  In this pose, the cape should float freely behind the hero and place no constraints on his or her mobility.


Search and Destroy
This pose is used when searching for villains, especially on busy city streets, in a mountainous or overgrown-jungle landscape, and other situations where visibility is compromised.  Face front, the hero leans forward and shades his or her eyes with one hand as if in bright sunlight, scanning to the left and the right.


Front Page of the Newspaper
This is a pose intended for post-victory celebrations, after all evildoers in the surrounding area have been vanquished and the press is on the scene.  The hands are placed on the hips and the chest is puffed with pride and a firm sense of achievement and self-worth.  The hero smiles.

*Warning:  Any attempt at non-heroic poses will earn you a one way trip to the devillainizer.