Sunday, December 26, 2010

5 little Buffaloes & little ojo photograph.

I know it's not Tuesday... I just felt inspired... painted a bunch of small buffaloes for Mom this year for Christmas. I bought a frame and painted them to the size of each one of the little squares. 

I tried to make one a retro lady buff with 60s hair and pointy Far Side glasses, but she just looks bone ugly, even with lipstick. What do you make a female buffalo lady look like ? Dunno. Eyelashes? Too late now. Oh well. At least Mom liked them... She liked the big guy with the cap, who's smoking a pipe. The frame is only 5 inches across so I had to work pretty tiny. So, lots of artistic flaws... which I kinda like. 

Otherwise things are peaceful, a slight dusting of snow this morning greeted us here in the mountains. Digging through some old debris in the studio I unearthed this doodle I sent to some producer friends of mine: 

I taped a photo I took of little Ojo that I made years before the Ojo movie. I wrote all sorts of goofy stuff on the borders of it... kinda takes me back. Making a little Ojo was a trip: Remember, fish parts go bad fast!—then you have to dump them. Yuk. Well, part feathers. Part puuuurrrrs. Part slime. That's what this little guy is made of. 

Until Tuesday, have a family-tolerable Christmas.    : ) 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Strange for James

I painted this for my old friend James Dean Conklin as a Christmas present. My signature gets more and more sloppy... like chicken scratch... 

Hopefully James won't see this blog post BEFORE the art gets to him. I met James during theMTV days and he's been single handedly tirelessly doing all the animation for the old Ojo movie, and i've been piss poor at staying in touch with him lately. So hopefully this makes up for that a little. 

Also, a tardy thanks to Jenny Goguen for buying that batman piece for the auction for art college for the Alumni Association of Vancouver Island University! Thanks Jenny. Good cause. Every little bit helps. Rushed this week, holidays and all.. i'll do a bigger post next week. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

...of Burgers & Bimbos

First: Vintage Burgers. 

Here's the controversial 'Hamburger In Space' page. Before I drew comics, I inked them. I'd ink anything to get into comics... Hamsters… Lame indy comics. Anything. I was shameless. Desperate. One job i had was inking an American comic version of a Robotech series that I did just an an *awful* job on. I often added weird crap in the background for the licenser to catch, just to amuse myself. So that's how the hamburger rebellion page was born. Kinda in your face: How could they NOT catch this? 

Lowly inkers trying to be 'bad'. Childish stunts that now, in retrospect, I'm rather proud of. The brown sketches on the left were what I did in sketchbooks to keep from going CRAZY while stuck inking. 

Needless to say the book's editor, my old friend Diana Shutz, was NOT amused (can you blame her?) and promptly sent the page BACK to me just so I would ink black OVER the dreaded hamburger (which, i agree, WAS wildly out of place, given that it's outer space). How cool would it have been it if made it through and got published? Think of the shit-fit the anima fans would have thrown, too.   

Plus, I worked really hard on that burger - lettus, onions, everything - and it doesn't even exist now, it's covered in ink. Thus, no one's ever seen it for like twenty years, until Today! Glad I made a photocopy of that sucker before I inked over it… whew! Quick thinking saved it from obscurity. 


Now: Vintage Bimbos. 

You may (or may not) remember an over-worked version of this Antique Bimbo in one of my sketchbooks, but here's a version before I got so overworked… 

I love drawing the Bimbo in a historical context, like one of those old mermaids in sailing maps… all hand-drawn here, obviously, no layers or anything. It's funny how enjoyable it is to rip up paper and re-past it in again. So raw and unfinished. My old pal Vassilis is a master at this rough unfinished look, 'course he can illustrate like a mother too, so that helps. 

I also did this with this Unpublished Venom Cover which both Marvel and I felt was too abstract.  Note this was during my "black tape on the borders to save ink" phase. 

I ripped it all up, then pasted it back. I admit it doesn't make a very strong cover here; I think I was still too timid with color covers back then. Learning still. So I gave them a 'normal' version of this same cover which they did publish, then 'fired myself' as cover artist. Happily so; after all, I was pretty much repeating myself by then. I liked my early Venom covers, but time to move on. 


Yet More Dana doodles... 

So many drawings and pairings of this girl clogging all corners of my studio. This painting almost looks better distorted than it does straight on. Working on paintings that are so BIG... sets off whole new parts of my brain, than comic pages do.

I get lost in her hair and helmet textures...  warm rusty browns and olive greens... I wish I would have added moss to this painting; you can never have too much MOSS in a comic page, can you?

The Great She-Elephant, once again, clamps Dana  safely in place. 

I am obsessed with moss. I hope I can ferment into moss after I croak—how cool would that be? Becoming moss? 

Okay, time for this weeks budget sharpie finger puppet, which I may have already posted, (but hopefully not) .. a little Chibi-esque looking little face to wrap it all up, eh? 

Eggads - I have wasted enough of your morning! —go do something worthwhile!     : ) 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Man with the Calabash Meerschaum Pipe.

This Captain (above) has nothing do with my 'Capain Should' character (below) from the Trout books.

Nope, this dude's supposed to be an old German WW2 Captain from a new 30 Days comic I'm doing for IDW.  Joe Lansdale's writing it (the Bubba Ho-Tep guy),  and I'm drawing it.  I just did a lame doodle of a Captain in my sketchbook by some thumbnails, which was mostly an excuse to draw the cool old fashioned pipe. 

I've always loved drawing these shrelock holmes antique Smoking Pipes but didn't know what they were called until an old friend of mine pointed it out yesterday. They're known as meerschaum pipes. Part of them is  made from meerschaum clay, but the bit you see on the outside is made from a gourd called a calabash. It's cool to learn there's a *name* for what you've been drawing for years! 

I wanted this guy's face here to be kinda rough and unfinished, obviously hand-drawn, not too much photoshop. 

Okay, a little photoshop... I darkened him a bit... but not too overworked (unlike the first Captain in close-up, which is wildly over-rendered).  It's easy to get carried away. The top one is more flashy, but I actually prefer these more modest ones... 

So what, you may ask, does a German sub Captain have to do with modern Vampires in Alaska? Well, you'll see once the book comes out, but first i gotta draw the sucker.

FEATURE FILM CONTRACT: Current  Status: in development hell. 

While I was digging through prehistoric rubble in my studio, I came across a work assignment in grade class which I blew off and never finished.  Instead I wrote something on the back of it.... this:  

This was my transparent attempt to coerce my then-7th-grade teacher, Miss Stone, into being in a film i planned to shoot. One I obviously never completed. I was always planning a series of big ambitious projects: sprawling comics series, huge movies. Projects I hadn't a clue how to pull off. I'm still like this a little. Slightly better at finishing, but not totally. 

I wonder where my teacher is now? Think she got over my not making her a famous actress?  

I'm guessing she probably did. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

a secret about 'Secrets'...

Before I got into mainstream comics (whatever that really even means anymore), I wanted to be an underground comic artist. They died out before I even got into comics, though... The only indy books back then were Cerebus and Elfquest. So I missed out—unless you count the Maxx (some of which looked more like it belonged in an issue of Heavy Metal instead of a super hero comic). In fact that's where I got the idea for the extra "x" in the Maxx logo; underground 'comix' were sometimes spelled with an x.

But all this aside, I was sad that I missed out on the underground stuff.     : (

Years after the Maxx, after I wrote and drew the Batman: Secrets series for DC... here's a little something you probably didn't know. Near the end of the story I tried to talk the editor into doing a Zap Comics Robert Crumb tribute... my thinking was, it's a surreal story, and old underground fans would get a kick out of it, but if you hadn't seen the back cover of Zap comix number one... here's a crappy low rez copy because I'm too lazy to scan the book myself.

So I took a shot, but the editor wouldn't go for it. I was so pissed at the time! Here he was ruining my chance to be rebellious and do my nod to undergrounds! 'Course there was the issue of Crumb being upset, but I figured we'd ask him—but it never got that far.

Here's the rejected page I submitted as the splash of issue 5 of Batman Secrets: 

Here's the printed version in the comic, all colored up and looking swell by the astounding colorist Alex Sinclair.

Looking back on it, cute as I thought I was being at the time, or rebellious, or whatever the heck I thought I was being—in retrospect, it DOES totally seem jarring to the story's style. I still like it, but it's like an inside joke... to myself.  I got enough of those out of my system with the Maxx, and in that universe, stuff like this could fly. Sorta.

It's funny. As annoying as some editors are... interesting how *sometimes* they can have a point, and, like, make the story actually better, huh? Go figure.    : )

Also... I am way behind in everything I owe to everybody, so apologies to any of you out there who are wondering why I have time to post my blog but am late with YOUR stuff. Well, my apologies! Here's one more excuse...

TOO MANY PAINTINGS...  yikes! It's a compulsion.

Need I say more?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bats up for Auction & Dana & Trout Lore.

Okay gang,

Quickie Update: Yes, I posted this bat pic before, but this is the FRAMED version of that Bat piece I did that's up for auction... raise some bucks for my pal Terry's University. It's online, and you can bid on it here: This time it's NOT for some sleezy cartoonist like me, looking to make a few cheap bucks. This time, it's for a good cause (plug plug)... The only two avid collectors of my sam stuff i ask NOT to bid are my mom and my art dealer, Albert Moy. Okay, Albert can bid. But not mom. That's too pathetic! think about it—my own mom buying MY art online, I mean come onnnnn... I *know* her, for pete's sake! :) 

Now onto other fun crap...


Work on the monumental Trout Books toils on. Nice to cross a few off and know others will follow. Mucho thanks to Vassilis drawing Nola, and Leigh Dragoon doing Lust Police, for sticking with me. Tim Kelly too; he'll still be doing stuff for the Trout world! Here's Leigh's take on Dana and her sister Nola in an upcoming book:

I'll show some sneak peeks from Vass' NOLA trout book next week. It's been hard to let someone else draw a story that's already in my head, already written by me and laid out. It's like I have my own version of the same characters running around inside of me. But it's been awesome seeing what someone ELSE brings to it too... makes them come alive even more when I see another artist's take on them. They have taught me a lot, both as friends and artists. 

Not to seem to pretentious, but it's like each Trout-a-verse Character is an archetypal part of me. I basically took 12 phases of my life, assigned them goals, trials, fears and neuroses and some relief at the end of a long tortured life. Then, unlike me, I peppered them with race, age, sexual orientation and various peccadilloes, hobbies, hang-ups and quirks I may or may not have myself... just to make it interesting.

Over the last ten years this has all been percolating inside me. Especially Dana. Mother/Daughter struggles. I wanted to be even-handed to each character, showing no bias in whatever their beliefs, and write about people who I didn't always agree with or even like. 

I isolated Dana's figure on this piece of art, not to be clever with layers in photos, but to separate her from an otherwise busy sketch of her I did and to highlight her visually, in your minds.

The main focus is Dana, whose whole life gets FOUR separate graphic novels alone! (Most only get one graphic novel to a character.) And four stages of Dana's life, which somewhat mirror my own. (Minus being kidnapped by feminist, being a lesbian, or being obsessed by trouts and toilet seats.) 

Why am I telling you all this crap YEARS in advance of you reading it? Because ...INSIDE of me it's already been *told*. Dana's childhood's a done deal, her adolescence (Lust Police ) is happening right now, her turbulent twenties (Cute), uneasy alliance with her sister Nola and cataclysmic fights with her mother (Dislexic Sex slave) are the stuff of legend. Well... in my head anyhoo. 

If I croak today, none of it matters. 

Dana's life is divided into the four books, and four phases: 

Innocent: In her teens, struggles to rebel (read: differentiate) herself from her mother by writing a dirty story online which catapults her into being kidnapped by various radical feminist groups. It's over-the-top for an opening, but it's too late to stop now! 

Orphan: In her twenties, it's about leaving mom for her older lesbian partner, Allie, and a third older wise woman she meets online. Surrounds herself with older women, and either secretly struggles against them, or capitulates and grouses. Either way she 's the architect of her own 'passivity' and steadfast refusal to grow up. She hides in food, erotica, her partner, an army jacket and helmet, and her mother's shadow. She also collects Trout paraphernalia, magic boxes, people who'd seen trouts, etc.  

Warrior: After Dana's partner's deterioration, Dana is forced to grow up, butches out a little... cuts the locks and sheds her army jacket for some cool army pants. Creeping up on 40, she's either at the peak of her powers or starting a long slide down. She's also facing down the two most powerful woman in her life, online wise woman and mother, face to face for a change. 

Fool: Old age, wheelchair bound, she's a ticky old lady whose phobias have come home to roost. Everything Orphan-like in her 20s now is reclusive in her 60s. Luckily her sister Nola tries to track her down when she wanders the streets, ever in danger of becoming a bag lady. Dana finds hope in a younger woman who transcribes her trout and erotica stories for her, and they drift into a relationship-dependency-kinkery. But can Dana use this last chance to really grow up? or will she just keep milking dependency like an old dusty coat her mother left that she wears, one that she's clearly outgrown? 

There! NOW you don't have to sludge your way through all four those graphic novels, huh? :) 


Scanning continues...(snore)... nothing sexy about scanning. I figure since it's all on the floor already, I may as well scan the titanic 'Three Volume Art Book' right now too (so it won't be in crappy orange folders, but printed and bound like a really NICE art book)...

...but the Three-VOL sucker will have to wait for now! First up, the waaaay long overdue 'Art of Sam' book... 

...which WILL be out by San Diego Con next year, even if i have to drive it from the printer myself!  And No, I am NOT going to be at the Con. Ever. Done with cons. Sorry. Nothing personal. :) 


I really like this little gal that sits overlooking my art table. 'The Great She-Elephant' is an idea Dana's mother dreamed up, of a supreme female leader who all women bow down too, which in Dana's mothers mind, is her! 

More on that in some other blog, I've wasted enough of your time on this one.  


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jason Brubaker pin-up

Pages piling up this week so a little behind — (betchya thought I was gonna flake again for another three months, eh? don't blame you if you did).

Here's one for fellow comic creator dude Jason Brubaker. He's got a killer day job at Dreamworks doing the Kung Fu Panda flicks, but he's got a pretty awesome creator-owned book called 'reMind' that he'll be publishing on his own.  There're a ton of creator-owned comics dying on the vine right now. So I don't mind plugging another artist's labor of love.

He asked if I'd do a pin up for it, which I did right here... I started to color it in the upper left, then remembered I wanted him to color it.

I shot it over to him, and here's his colored version below. Pretty cool huh?

I really like how raw and unfinished he left her face; he's got a gutsy coloring style, but also a tender way with luminous lighting flooding a room.

Here's his blog if you wanna check out some more of his stuff...

Next Tues., more of *my* crap! : )

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Batman sketch & Old Maxx art

My old pal Terry Fitzgerald asked me if i could scrounge something up for a charity auction for the Alumni Association of Vancouver Island University (VIU). Thus, this batman doodle:

I thought I'd throw it up here so a few more folks can see it than who might stumble across it on ebay where they'll action if off. I'll post a link next week or so where you can find it on ebay, if anyone's interested. I usually don't hawk my work online, but this is for a good cause. 


Still doing the Demon for DC... Same deal as Lobo: Scott Ian writes and I confuse the hell out of everyone with a surreal combo of monster muscular bad-ass dudes, cartoon violence and twisted humor. 

Here're some Demon pages & sketchbook art cluttering my art table right now.  Yes, I made the colored tabs on the sketchbook—I neurotically color-code everything, don't ask why... 

Scanning MAXX CHAPTERS from 'Art of Sam Kieth' book...

I can see these waaaaay too much unpublished maxx art to ALL fit into the Art of Sam book! Yeah, we give two whole chapters to it, one to the comics and one to the cartoon, but there's still about 200 pages of unseen maxx crap, so i may have to throw that into the Monster art book, or maybe parcel them out into the sketchbooks... dunno yet. 

Here's a good example: one of the maxx trade covers in its original 'non-digital' form: 

I reversed a stripe with Julie, but looking back now I think it was a mistake—too late now. 

A lot of art we'll print in 'Art of Sam' book are old maxx or MPC covers you may have seen. Why? Mostly because they're larger, sometimes full size... and because they printed so poorly in the original comics. Not always, but sometimes. So, I figure you won't mind checking out some originals, because in some cases, it IS almost like seeing a new piece of art all over again. But tons of unpublished crap will be in there too, if that's your thing. 

I don't mean to harp on maxx, but those are the chapters I'm knee deep in right now. Here's one of a ga-zillin little color 'roughs' littering my studio closet: 

Nice to get them out there so people can see them before they crumble to dust. This has been a very emotional experience, looking back on all this art I've piled up all these years. Sort of like a visit from an ex-wife at times. 

But it's a blessed relief as well. So many regrets, so much I'm thankful for. I hate to seem so melodramatic... but there's a crap load of ambivalence about whatever 'comes out of me'. But what artist doesn't drive those he lives with crazy with moody-assed dramas? 

Here's a wide painting we used in the old maxx animated series—I did it specifically for them to 'pan' across during one of the shots. I'm amazed it's still in good shape, as watercolor can be so friggin' fragile. 

One good thing about bad art? At least it's all Landfil once we pass on. I don't mean that bitterly, I just get sick of my own trivial personal little dramas all artists get stuck in. How cool is it to not BE here anymore? Wiped clean. Like a blackboard. Poof. Chalk dust.  I don't mean suicide or anything, I just mean naturalness of death. Like autumn leaves turning brown and curling and drying up. Like all the characters disappearing at the end of the maxx series, one by one... Like you and i will someday. It's almost cathartic in a way. 

And yes, that's budget crude 'white out' I used on the creature. :) 

So I hope I haven't depressed you either, that wasn't my intention. We're alive TODAY. You're reading a goofy comic book post, and I'm writing one. Another day. Anther chance. How cool is that?