Thursday, February 28, 2008

the art biz and the God biz...

It's been a few days, so let's get the easy one done first. Interviews were going on Monday for spots for Kaman's Art Shoppes at Worlds of Fun here in KC. This kid came in for a caricature interview. A decent artist with a strong portfolio, but I couldn't resist doing a quick caricature of him.

The rest of this mental rumination is about a current project for one of the missionaries at church.

To be frank, I don't like a lot of tv preachers, and am wary of most ministries. I tend to be selective because I hate being played for a sucker. There are exceptions, such as the DeHaans and "Day of Discovery," which I like and enjoy. Then I learned about Sat-7.

Dennis Wiens is a missionary in our church, and he works for Sat-7, which is a Christian broadcast ministry to the Middle East. But its content is for the middle eastern Christian with programming produced AND DONE by middle easterners. And not the "radio with a face" concept that is prevalent in American Christian broadcasting, but actual shows. He approached me a few years ago about drawing a minicomic for kids that he could take to missions' conferences. It seemed there wasn't a whole lot of material for children that would help them to understand what was going on. Or, at least, to enlighten them about Sat-7. Out of this came "Dr. Salaam" and "Ray."

Ray was easy, reminiscent of all the "Rocky and Bullwinkle," or "Underdog" cartoons I watched as a kid. But the other "spokesperson" needed to be "middle-eastern" in look, not western/European/American. Thus a somewhat daunting task of drawing a pleasant, funny, and engaging "AAAAy-rab. I made him tall, since Ray is short...better to play off of one another. I chose the name "Salaam" because it means "peace."

The first little "adventure" seemed to have success. Since then, it's gone on to be "tweaked" for a British audience, and has even been translated into Arabic. I was impressed!

So now, Dennis and I have been brainstorming a "sequel." One idea we had was artwork for a "sodapop can bank," which kids could save up their spare change to help raise funds for Sat-7 KIDS, a new network exclusively for children. And a new(and hopefully improved) minicomic to go with it. I have it thumbnailed and almost layed out, and I'll post some progress here along the way. Any way, here's what the bank art looks far. Still a few tweaks to correct.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

a lazy Sunday...

My wife and I went to see "Jumper" tonight. It was a good film and I enjoyed it. You could tell, though, from the rather abrupt ending that it is being set up as a "franchise" for future films. The best way to describe it would be "Hiro" from "Heroes" without all the things annoying.

To segue...he was one of the seminal writers for television and one of the finest storytellers--the one and only Rod Serling!

His show, "The Twilight Zone," had several episodes that scared me quite a bit. But he never really had great success in motion pictures. That surprises me. Shamalayan's movies, such as "Sixth Sense," "Signs," and "The Village," harken with a wink toward "The Twilight Zone," and have been quite successful. One of Serling's screenplays that did "break through" was "Planet of the Apes."

I was a bit disappointed with Burton's remake. It had all the technical marvels lacking in the '67 movie, but none of the bite. The absurdity. The suspension of disbelief. One of the things not done in either was with the issue of evolution. If mankind had definitely fallen to the bottom of the evolutionary chain, then why the clothes? The obvious answers are in the times. In 1967, too much nudity was a "no-no" regardless, and in someways that didn't change in the remake--skirting by with giving humans intelligence, but under repression. And an avoidance of the dreaded NC-17, or (horror of horrors!) X or multiple x's.

I did a version of Taylor in an earlier post, inspired by what had been done on "Star Wars: Clone Wars," which was brilliantly animated and a great fix for Star Wars fans. Call it a "what if?...," but I did it with the daydream of what a new animated "POTA" might look like, or at least, how I might do it. A melding of what had been done before in previous incarnations, but with all the satire and "teeth" of what Rod Serling envisioned. And mankind would not be smart enough to clothe--that is something only intelligent creatures do, such as the Apes. Just a fancy, which at least gets me to warm up the pencils.

I, in no way, am taking anything from the beautiful Estelle Warren. Her part in the remake seemed like a waste of her presence. But I do admit that Linda Harrison's "Nova" made quite an impression on me in those days of dawning puberty. So this particular sketch is based on her. And yes, tasteful coverage is a part of the fun.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


My wife has been asked to make a presentation on "positive journaling" at a women's conference. The idea being to write positive things in one's journal--ideas and the like--instead of all the negative crap and complaining that most do. Blogs, I would guess, make it easy to "go off," for lack of a better term. "Rant" may be more accurate in some cases. While I'm sure that it may have some therapeutic value on some level, doing so on the public forum of the Internet doesn't seem wise or prudent.

I found a sketchbook I started last fall while continuing to clean and organize the studio. I know so because the drawings started in it were from the time the 'Halloweekends," or whatever they were called this past year, at Worlds of Fun. They had live midway "personalities," and one in particular was very good at creeping out the crowd and giving a good scare. While my version is from my own memory, I thought it turned out rather well. And it will be good to show that I can draw other stuff other than the "funny" stuff.

I got to meet Tom Richmond finally at an NCS gathering here in town, also in October. It was a fun time, and it seemed like an organization I'd like to see about joining. There was a break before the evening presentation, and I had some time to sketch a bit in the lounge area. Don't know why I can't do this kind of stuff on "live" caricatures. Must be a stealth thing.

Finally,...I signed up for a correspondence course through the Kubert School. It feels like I need to sharpen my skills. It's funny, originally I started out wanting to do superheroes, but it seemed like I stumbled into doing the funny stuff. In one of the lessons, Joe encourages to "stretch" and think in different shapes and such. Possibly the hero could be a "fat" guy(?) As this one turned out, he will more than likely be the villain in something that's been rolling around the noggin. So far, the only name I've come up with that I like is "Blubber." He's a bit gross, though...a fat guy in a speedo. I should know. I would look terrible in a speedo. He reminds me of some of the pro wrestlers from the '50's and early '60's. Not all the guys were fat, but some were really knarled up porkers.

I finished "The Sopranos" tv show. A bit bent that Bobby got offed, and the show went more "scorched earth" in its exit. It was nice that it ended with the family. I have some "Heroes" sketches to noodle and develop, and it's irritating the show is probably gone until next season. But hey! Battlestar Galactica will be coming up in April! And it looks like this year's movie season will be better than 2007.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sometimes when you win, you lose...

Guess I'm not done yet with "The Sopranos." Soon. But watching and sketching has been good to get me "rebooted."

I'm now up to Season 6.5. Watching a series via dvd has both strengths and drawbacks. Not having HBO, and borrowing the dvd's from my daughter, I have to admit to being a bit "hooked." Season 3 was the weakest, IMHO. It seemed the series shifted, and I see Nancy Marchand's death early in Season 3 as facilitating that shift. Her character has been my favorite, as she WAS the true gangster of them all. From then on, it became a "gangster" show with each year providing a new antagonist of sorts whose destiny of being whacked was fairly evident.

Not that there weren't other characters of interest. "Big Pussy," Gloria, and Adrianna were characters whose deaths, while inevitable, were well fleshed out, and I "felt" for them when death came(although Gloria's more as an aside on the series.) Richie, Jackie Jr., Ralphie, and Tony B.,...I kind of knew it was a matter of time.

By Season 6, there was a feeling of "who gets whacked this week." The show felt like it was marking time a bit, which I know will draw me the ire of loyalists by making such a comment. After all, modern critics and fans have all proclaimed it the "best ever!," generally meaning neophyte comments like mine, by someone who got on the bandwagon after the fact, will be suspect. BID. And yes, I would say the episodes of "Tony's coma" were the "jump the shark" point for the series.

One character who didn't mark time, but seems to have developed and "snuck up" on me has been Bobby. Again, I see this by having watched the season progressively and back to back. He is the inspiration for the title of today's blog entry.

He started out in season 2 as a doofus. One of Junior's "crew," with Junior(in prison) now out of favor, Bobby took every insult, humiliation, condemnation and verbal assault. Bobby was a trenches guy. He eventually took care of Junior, again absorbing every insult Tony and others could hurl. I laughed out loud when he showed up in the deerhunter gear to go rescue Christopher and Paulie, even though in afterthought he was the most prepared and knew how to survive in the woods. Unlike the others, he had no outside mistresses, but was completely devoted to his wife and family. One couldn't help but feel for him when she died. I cringed at his marriage to Janice, one character I kept/keep hoping will get whacked. (Remember, I haven't seen it to the end, yet.) He's been good for her, and he is an individual while others are too suck-up. I like a guy who loves electric trains. And, he kept taking crap from Tony, even while Tony was in Bobby's house.

One thing I found upsetting has been the "Tony can get away with anything because he's 'The Boss'" crap. In one episode(season 4?), Tony goes out of his way to infuriate Janice after she's seriously tried to deal with anger issues. Tony took his anger out on one of the Bing's bouncers, a huge guy who took the pounding because he's supposed to, when anyone else would've had his head handed to him by said bouncer. To re-establish his "boss" status, Tony "takes on" a big kid(after his coma and recovery episodes)pounding him for a supposed "insult." There never seemed to be a "reckoning" for Tony, and it's that narcissism about the series that I have found a bit disturbing...until today watching the first episode of Season 6.5.

Bobby "cleaned Tony's clock" after having about enough of Tony insulting his wife, regardless that she's Tony's sister. While purists and Tony loyalists will argue the "sucker punch" angle, the fact was he stood toe to toe with Tony Soprano, not backing down, and layed out a' whoopin' on someone who'd been needing one. He didn't back down. I cheered. But it cost him a bit of his soul. He'd never killed anyone, and his next assignment from Tony was just that. He won. But he lost a lot more, too.

Call all this a bit of a "life lesson" for me today.

I also did some sketching, some caricaturing, or cartoonituring, of other Soprano's characters. Enjoy!

If you think you can guess who they are, let me know.

Friday, February 15, 2008

a present for my son-in-law...

My daughter asked me to draw "something" for her soon to be husband before they were married, which was last May. At first, admittedly, I didn't know if I wanted to do it. Why? Because I can be stubborn and anti-social. After all, HE was stealing away my baby girl. Later on my reasoning was different. I'd warmed up to him and I really wanted to do a good job.

Perfectionism can also be the downfall of an artist. It's a mindset that everything HAS to be PERFECT!!! Even to the point of sapping all the energy out of the joy of drawing and painting. I've seen young cartoonists redraw and redraw pieces or comics pages because they have realized "how much better they are now, and can make it look better." Hogwash! Not because I'm soooooo much better and wiser, but because I know what that feels like. Been there, done that,...doing that! Take your lumps and go on. Put it out there, warts and all, and do better on the next one.

Which brings us back to my daughter's "commission." I finally got down to the gritty and the nitty. Some things were left out. I wanted to add Adrianna and Furio, but couldn't make them fit. Same with Uncle June, but his caricature in a "Hanna-Barbera" style still eludes me. Maybe on the next one. If there is one. Oh, and if you'll click on the images, you should see a bigger version. Give you a chance to see some of the details. Here's how the black & white version turned out...

I wanted to do the color better. In hindsight, I should've used either an airbrush(of which I don't have and have never used much), or draw it on hot press illustration board and used markers. That way will take more trial and error, as I've never found enough colors that don't "react" with one another, particularly the lineart medium. In this case I drew it in India ink. While I may pick it apart, I think they will both like it. I'll let you guess which one is my son-in-law, and who the rest are on "Tony's crew." If I did my job right, it'll be easy...if you are a fan of "The Sopranos," that is.

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"Why don't you come down here and chum some of this sh*--!!!!!"

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I hate when this feels like an obit column. But it seems yet another actor who appeared in a favorite movie of mine has passed away. Roy Scheider, "Chief Brody," died yesterday.

I saw "Jaws" when it first came out in the Summer of 1975. I was on a semi-blind date that night in St. Joseph, MO, and we almost didn't get in to see the movie. It was so packed, we ended up sitting on the floor. (We were late because she was humiliating me at mini-golf, and instead of calling the game early, using the excuse we had to get to the show, I wanted to play on and save my dwindling ego. I didn't.) I loved that movie so much I ended up seeing it in the theatres during its run 6 times. Most of today's audience will think it hokey and laugh at the mechanical shark, but back then it was quite the scary fare.

A few years back, Don Knotts, Darren McGavin, and Dennis Weaver all passed around the same weekend in February. I did this caricature piece in tribute.

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Guess it's time to work on some others.

I may start doing a "What if...?" of sorts of my own stuff. On the NCN board there is a challenge section, and I was intrigued by one challenge of doing character designs for a particular movie. I never got a chance to finish them, and admittedly the movie of choice, "Pulp Fiction," didn't inspire me. But I played with some stuff from "Planet of the Apes," and thought I might try it. Here's my version of "George Taylor."

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Should have more soon. Be good!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I need a scoop shovel!!!

I haven't posted for a few days. Still digging out and trying to clean up the studio. To be honest, I've suffered from depression for a number of years. And it's seems to not only be worse in the winter time, but has intensified each year. But I resolved to do better, and I let a lot of things slide in my personal and professional life. Time to change that.

I did discover a "new" band, thanks to my pal, Jason Caskey. It's "Southern Culture on the Skids." So I bought a cd Wednesday night, and it's been a few years since I tried to find some new music. Last bands I tried out being "Squirrel Nut Zippers" and "Morphine."

I'm also listening on audio book, "Bones to Ashes," by Kathy Reichs. A bit of a shock from the tv show.

Since this IS suppose to be an art blog, and not a rant/pontification blog, I have some sketches. The first three are the headshots that I worked out for Christopher, Furio, and Silvio for a "Sopranos" piece...

That's all for now. Be good.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

"You stupid cop! Don't you know he's innocent?"

I'm still cleaning out the studio. Still have lots to throw away. One thing I got years ago was a copy of the "Richard Kimble" wanted poster from the '60's tv show, "The Fugitive." No. It won't be thrown away. It will be framed, finally, and put on my studio wall. Which now brings us to the segue for today...

Sometimes an actor will do such a good job in a singular role and/or performance that it seems to define them, or at least, some have for me. Most roles they do afterwards, no matter how well they do will not shake me out of that brain niche I have them in. Case in point--Andrew Robinson's character of "Scorpio" in "Dirty Harry," Leonard Nimoy as "Spock," Clayton Moore as "The Lone Ranger," James Gandolfini as "Tony Soprano," etc. Even though Kurtwood Smith was great as "Red," he will always be "Clarence Boddicker" from "RoboCop." While I know it is unfair, and some actors have even become bitter at points for "type-casting," it seems that's the way it is. So it was with my memories of Barry Morse.

Mr. Morse passed away on Saturday,February 2, this past week. From his obit, his career actually spanned into 7 decades. Quite an achievement. Yet, for me, he will be always known as he man most of the country hated for 4 years. Hate maybe too strong. Let's say "disliked." He was, as William Conrad put it in the opening credits, "... the police lieutenant obsessed with his(Richard Kimball's) capture..." "Lt. Philip Gerard." Stoic, methodical, brooding, and driven, he provided the most excellent antagonist to David Janssen's sympathetic Kimball.

Yes, I admit to being a fan of "The Fugitive." As as other did, loyally watched the final episode to see the famous handshake.

Maybe in finality, it would be better to give Mr. Morse a higher kudo--he was an actor. A very fine one, who cared about his art and craft. In today's world of "stars," "celebrities," and "mega-stars," there is something to be said for those who love what they do and are able to make a living from it. Or just love what they do. The musician who just enjoys playing and jamming. The artist who doodles on napkins. Actors who cannot wait for the next rehearsal and performance.

All the 3 principles from "The Fugitive" are gone now. And while I've blathered on about a 4 year tv show, I get the impression that Barry Morse wasn't like the Gerard persona, but seems to have been a very warm, friendly person. A most excellent actor.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Back in the Saddle...

Wow! Maybe an old fart can make this stuff work!

Anyway, I've been working on a piece for my daughter's husband. He's a big fan of the "Sopranos." I have a piece started, which I will do in Adobe Illustrator, but I changed directions when my daughter told me she wanted her husband to be in "Tony's Crew." So it's not only Tony, Paulie, Christopher and Silvio, but she wants Big Pussy, Adrianna...I love her to death, but my daughter can be a bit of a pain.

With that came the idea of doing the "Sopranos" as if they were being done by '60's Hanna/Barbera. I've even bandied about the idea of actually doing them in another venue ala "The Flintstones." BID.

Here's my version of Tony.

Here's my version of Bobby.

I'm still working on Paulie...not quite sure what to do with his hands.

I like the way this one of Big Pussy turned out...

Others are on the way. I have headshots of Chris, Silvio, and Furio that are coming along. The downside of the project is that to do things with likenesses, I prefer to watch video along with studying photos. Just having the photos can be deceptive. The video, or drawing someone live, gives a better overall impression to create from.

Well that's it for now. I'm in the midst of cleaning out my pigsty of a studio. Amazing what I've found.

Getting Started...

My intent was for this to be an art blog, so I could post images of what I'm working on. Or doodling.

At present, I'm having a hard time figuring out how to get images to post. So maybe the best thing to say would be, "Technical Difficulties, Please Stay Tuned."