Saturday, December 28, 2013

On the fifth day of Newton: Serendipity and synchronicity

So, sometimes things just work out. When I was planning out the Thirteen Days of Newton, I decided to share this sketch, not for any particular reason, but just to include this blog (dedicated to my own art) in the whole megillah. I like the piece - a character design of Virago, my female Doc Savage/Golden Age Superman analogue - but it was apropos of nothing in particular:

Well it's apropos of something now! A not-so secret santa (Amazon isn't very good at keeping secrets) sent me a Kindle book (Networked) and this printed book:

Pretty clear where Virago got her outfit inspiration, eh?

Oh - and thanks, Dave!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

I'm Pathetic

Offered without further comment in follow-up to this post elsewhere in the WalakaNet.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Big Reveal

So, here's the big deal that I have been working on. It's a big splash that I hope creates a strong wave to propel me across the lake of creativity to the shores of, oh, perhaps this metaphor has gone on too long. Here it is:

This is, of course, a recreation of one of my favorite single issues of any comic, the wonderful Justice League of America #200. Here's the original for your reference:

Uncanny, isn't it? Except for George Perez putting in about a billion more details and having about a zillion times my talent, the two image are like bookends!

Seriously, this was just a project to kick off an exercise: I plan to work my way through this comic, recreating each page, using my pastiche characters instead of the actual characters so I don't have to have the comparisons thrown into too drastic relief. I want to use the layouts and styles of all the different great artists in the books as a guide to developing my own skills. You could say it's an exercise in long-form swiping, except that I don't even have enough talent to swipe. Maybe it's a fool's errand, but I think there might be something to be gained from this, kind of like Malcolm X copying the entire dictionary while in prison, only not like that at all.

When I tried to do comic work during the Graphic Novel Intensive class at PNCA, I was using a lightbox to ink the pencils on a separate sheet. I don't have that luxury at home, and I am still not comfortable inking directly over my pencils, so I will be pencilling on paper and inking on vellum laid over it. It's not the best set-up in the world, but we'll see how it goes.

Speaking of inking: here's what the cover inks looked like before I got too photoshoppy with them. (That thick line in the middle is the seam between the two pieces of vellum.)

The coloring and mocking-up was just for the cover. Since this exercise is supposed to focus on my drafting skills and not my computer graphic skills, the rest of the pages will be drawn and rendered, and then just get a little cleaning up in the computer.

I may be coming at this about forty years behind schedule, but I intend to have fun anyway.

See ya in the funny pages.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Incremental, for sure

So, the summer seems to be experiencing a half-time lull  - I have had several trips out of town and not as much time as I had previously to work on The Projects. I did get pencil back in hand tonight, and made a tiny bit of progress on the rough pencils for the new art project. Maybe it will be ready to unveil by the end of next week...

Friday, July 26, 2013


So, Something Else is taking me longer than I thought to get going. Here are some sketch notes that got me started.

We;ll be living up to the title of this blog with a big project soon.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fish or fowl

My artistic sensibility has clearly been formed by comic books, but that assertion is almost meaningless when you think how many different sensibilities are represented in comic book art.

Gil Kane

Cliff Chiang

Mike Sekowsky

Joe Kubert

Curt Swan

And those are just the favorites that came to mind first.  If you check out this Top 100 list, you'll see a still wider spread of style and approach.

And that's what's driving me nuts abut this drawing business. Not only don't I know how to get where I want to go, but I don't even know where I want to go.

Anyway, the Daily Double is back on the shelf. I'm going to try something else.

For now, here's a little unfinished vignette starring Virago.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Daily Double 11

Today's prompt: Draw a lotus flower.

Today's drawing: 
So, I am continuing the gestural theme and the working with the pen-brush. I still don't have control of the line weight, just like I am not yet fluid with chord changes on the uke.

From the files:

I tried to find something that was kind of gestural. These folks sure have long arms, don't they?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Daily Double 10

Today's prompt: Draw Narcissus in love with his own reflection

Today's drawing: 

Pencil sketch and inked on tracing paper. I used a Faber-Castell Pitt artist pen B for most if it, and the Copic for the wavy stuff. He has a T-shirt because, whatever.

From the files:

A pencil sketch with another mythological theme, I guess.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Daily Double 9

Today's prompt: Draw an opera house

Today's drawings: 

So first I had to find an opera house. A Google image search brings back mostly the one in Sydney, but then I recalled my favorite opera house.

The Opera House on Eureka, Nevada. I'll blog someday about my visit to Eureka. Anyway, I overlaid a grid on it, as I did with the Model T drawing, and did a pencil sketch.

After I had the pencils, I wanted to try my hand at inks. My first effort was with a Copic Sketch 110 - I guess it's an artist's pen, or a pen-brush. I have zero confidence in trying a real ink brush; using the fat end of this tool is a far as I go. 

I tried to control the line weight but I am not sure how successful I was. I do like the fluidity of it; good for the impressionistic style I was aiming at.

Then I tried with a straight edge and a fine felt-tip, just to see the difference.

I didn't try to do an architectural rendering; it's still pretty impressionistic, just more geometric.

From the files: Nothing from the files today.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Daily Double 8

Today's prompt:  Draw determination.

Today's drawing: 
In the first D&D game I ever played, I rolled a critical fumble while my character, Ragnar, was fighting a hill giant and he fell down a steep cliff. Then one of my party mates rolled a critical fumble and shot Ragnar in the back. Then the hill giant rolled a critical hit and smashed Ragnar's head like an overripe watermelon. But he was on his feet. Determination.

Great game. I like some of the energy in the sketch.

 From the files:

Cowgirl sketch on graph paper?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Daily Double Double Header: 6 & 7

The sketchbook as closed for the holiday yesterday.

Yesterday's prompt: Draw one of the American Founders.

Yesterday's drawing:

Of course, I went with my go-to American Revolutionary, the radical Tom Paine. I did a pencil sketch and then inked it on tracing paper; it came out okay, except his eyes got a little crazy in the inking. I used this image as a reference: 

This makes him look more like Judd Hirsch than mine does.

From the files:

This is some generic guy. I think I was playing with shadows. I don't like it very much.


Today's prompt: Draw a page full of ears.

Today's drawing:

Funnily enough, the guy who taught the cartooning class I took years ago went on an on about ears - particularly the Marvel Comics house style on ears, which he called "How to Draw Ear Squiggles the Marvel Way," playing on this. With these sketches, it seems to me the more detailed it is, the less it says "ear."

 From the files:
Another generic guy, but he has an ear showing, anyway.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Daily Double 5

Today's prompt: Draw a Ford Model T

Today's drawing: 

So, I knew I wanted this to be cartoony, but I still wanted it to be right, if you know what I mean. So I followed one of the tricks I read in an art book while we were browsing the shelves in Half-price Books today and did this:

I think it worked pretty well. I wonder how to get good at drawing it fifteen times, from different angles, like in an Archie comic. I guess by drawing it a thousand times.

 From the files:

I wasn't drawing a lot things back in the day, but this guy has a lot of fiddly bits on him, so I thought he was an appropriate match. I look at him now and I have a mixed response: it;s not terrible, technically, but it also doesn't have a lot of life.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Daily Double 4

Today's prompt: Draw a page full of straight lines, freehand.

Today's drawing:

So, I'm not sure what this accomplished, but I am sticking to the plan.

 From the files:

I must have drawn hundreds of Spider-Man images like this all through high school. This one is from years ago but much later than high school and is probably a lot better. My memory of my high school sketches probably overstate their quality. But maybe not. Anyway, it has lines in it.

Bonus sketch:

This chicken was up in the corner of the page that had Spider-Man. It might be the best thing I have ever done, now that I look at it.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Daily Double 3

Today's prompt: Draw the Beatles.

Today's drawing: I do need to do something about how these scan.

I'm still not sure that what I am doing is drawing or cartooning. I also still don't know whether I need to focus on learning to draw if I want to cartoon, or whether just steady cartooning will improve my drawing. In any case, what I was trying to go for here was the verve and body language of the animated Saturday morning Beatles show. Not quite there.

From the files:

This is a finished piece instead of just a sketch. There's more detail and a little more "realism," but it's still a cartoon, innit? I like it, though.

Someday I am going to find a nice essay that describes in detail the difference between drawing, sketching, cartooning, and illustration.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Daily double: now we're cooking

So, there's a new plan: out is Drawing Words & Writing Pictures; in is, who sends out a daily drawing prompt on Twitter. I'm going to draw the prompt every day, and post it along with something from the archives.

Today's prompt: Draw the Man of Steel.

Today's drawing: This is a crappy scan, but I like the sketch and may fix it up in Photoshop.

From the files: Not sure if this is better or worse.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013


So, one of my favorite webcomics is Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques. I started reading it almost from the beginning and have been able to watch Jeph's art develop as well as just enjoying the young-indie-scene soap opera. Here's one of the main characters, Faye, from her first speaking appearance, from midway through the run, and in her most recent appearance:

Jeph's art in the beginning was - and he'd be the first to say it - crude. The more he worked, however, the better he got. Somewhere a few years ago he hit his stride as a cartoonist and his stuff became so much more visually appealing. Since then, it has been a matter of refinement, and he's so good now that the punchline of a strip can be the raising of an eyebrow, the cocking of a head, or the tightening of a grip. He could illustrate one of the old Jack Benny shows and you wouldn't miss a nuance.

Danielle Corsetto's Girls With Slingshots is another great strip. Danielle's art developed a little differently that Jeph's. Here's the main character, Hazel, again from the first strip, the midpoint, and the most recent strip:

Danielle's early work is not crude, like Jeph's was; in fact, it seems to show more formal art influence: she's drawing instead of cartooning. Somewhere in the middle she learned to simplify and streamline and her work started taking on real life; now she has a distinct and minimalist style that is totally engaging, and she hasn't lost her artist's sense of perspective or anatomy: viz.

Now, here's my work from maybe twenty-five years ago and yesterday:

 As you can see, I have progressed.... well, not at all, really.

The difference is that between #1 and #3 for Jeph and Danielle, each one produced around two or three thousand strips or drawings. Between #1 and #2 for me, not so much.

This gets back to my questions here and here about the incremental nature of development in certain spheres, and my specific concern about art - my art. Jeph and Danielle were and are both young, vigorous, and committed to their work - they were trying to parlay their strips into a living, and both have been successful. I'm old, tired, and without any guarantee of talent - I'm not sure I can bring that fire to this.

On our walk today, the Spectacular Sissy wondered how many things I can take on at once and do well, and whether art is one that will fall by the wayside. That, of course, plants the seed of doubt.

Bu then I remember: someone (not Chesterton) said that the admonition "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well" is one of the greatest unintentional evils. Because there are some things - such as playing the ukulele, skateboarding, and cartooning, for example - that are worth doing whether or not we ever do them well, worth doing just for the joy of it, worth doing for their own sake.

Yeah, I like that better. Here's to one thousand crappy drawings.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mind the gap

So, you find yourself starting out on a creative endeavor, let's say drawing for example. And your best work to date is this:

a sketch of mine from about 1988

It's hard enough to move forward when you know people, such as a former writing student of yours, who are capable of stuff like this:

 Art by Patrick Connors. Man, you need a website dude.

I mean, that bar looks pretty high already, right? But then you click on a link that takes you stuff like this...

 This is a pencil drawing. Check out other mind-blowing images here.

... and you might wonder why you should even start. Then you remember something that you heard on the radio:

It was Ira Glass from This American Life.

I guess when it comes to art, I have a long gap ahead of me. Let's hope this summer closes it a little bit.