Thursday, May 28, 2009


Some recent drawings from my sketchbook.

Dun dun DUUUUUUN!!! Captain Chaos! Drew this the day he died - will probably ink and color it later. RIP Mr. Deluise.

Artie! The Strongest Man… In! The! World!

Crazy Jane from the Doom Patrol

ROM and Ghost Rider

Imperial Gunner from Star Wars - really happy with this one, somehow it came out exactly how I pictured it in my head, which almost never happens.

Will post more when I have more time to scan!

Friday, May 8, 2009

How We Make Comics

So about a year ago Fred and I did a talk at Drew University, and part of the presentation was a walk-through of how we produce our comics. Here's the first part in blog form , without my long-winded explanations.

Let's get started!

My part in the comics making process starts when Fred writes the script – almost completely independently from me – and sends it to me in its completed state. We are both very hands-off with each other, something we’ve never really planned out, it just sort of evolved naturally. My job is to then take Fred's hillarious scripts and translate them into visuals as well as attempt to make them even funnier by any means necessary.

Turning this:

Into THIS:

(click to enlarge)

Art research and character design process.

So 90% of the stuff Fred and I do is based on real people and real events from history, but with a lot of artistic license. Still, since the facts are always accurate in our work, I think it's important to at least try to be visually informed by the subjects true history and/or appearance, if not a slave to historical accuracy. So, I try to make them look like the actual people, but if I can stretch it so it's funnier, more compelling, or in some other way better, I'll do it, accuracy be damned.

Sometimes I get it right away, like when I designed Bodhidharma for Action Philosophers.

Of course there are no photos of Bodhidharma (some people even claim he never existed!) and all existing artwork of him shows different types of people - some fat, some skinny, etc. The things that all depictions of him have in common is that he was wild-eyed, bearded, Indian and a monk, so I went with that and ran with it. In the story I always had him staring strait ahead at the viewer with a stoic expression, to play up the intensity of his character. I think it works, and out of all the Action Philosophers designs this is the one I'm most proud of.

(and yes nerds, his costume is ripped of from Shang-Chi, but it only appears in this one panel anyways so let it go.)

Other times it takes some work – I start with photos or paintings of the subject, like Mr. Schopenhauer here:

Do a couple of sketches, usually starting off a realistic rendition:

Keep drawing until I’ve got something that looks like a cartoon character:

Sometimes I can’t find reference and have to wing it – THIS is how I first drew young, circa 1930's Jack Kirby in Comic Book Comics #1:

Luckily Fred had some nice reference of Kirby during that time:

So I changed it:

Much better.

Drawing a page.

I start off by drawing little thumbnails pages right on the script print-out.

Layouts – really rough and loose, really just working out the placement of images and text on the page. (sorry, I don't have an example of this)

Pencilling – You may have seen a penciled page before – full of tight detail and visual info it almost looks like a finished piece of art itself. I don’t work that way, I only draw just enough in pencil so I can ink it myself, sometimes even drawing directly in ink at the end of the process. Like so:

Send the final inked page to Fred to letter in Adobe Illustrator.

Fred sends it back to me, I sometimes do minor compositional tweaks but that’s it – boom! The page is done!

Only 31 more to go!


Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Above is a panel excerpt from my contribution to Awesome 2: Awesomer - The Indie Spinner Rack Anthology. Scripted by Fred Van Lente and drawn by me. I would tell you the title of our story, but it would ruin the joke!
Awesome is a benefit book for a scholarship to the Center for Cartoon Studies. I edited and published the initial volume in 2007 with Indie Spinner Rack hosts Mr. Phil and Charlito - I wasn't able to continue in that role but I'm very proud to participate as a contributor and extremely happy to see the series continue in Phil and Charlie's capable hands.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I sense a trend…

First Ghost Rider fought a helicipoter in his movie, and now I see reviews that call the helicopter fight in X-Men Origins: Wolverine is one of the highlights of the film.

Those Hollywood people are GENIUSES - why settle for super heroes fighting boring old super villains when they can fight HELICOPTERS!!! Maybe Marvel will do a Helicopter ongoing series?! That would be f-ing bad ass dude!!!

I heard a rumor that in Iron Man 2 they're upping the ante and he's going to fight a LAWNMOWER. And in the Thor movie he fights a tractor and Green Lantern is going to fight a school bus, but of course he can't win because school busses are YELLOW! Those fights sound so much cooler than if they fought Living Laser or the Destroyer or Sinestro - thank you Hollywood!!!

Eh, I wasn't going to see the movie anyways.

But I am going to Free Comic Book Day! Be sure to bring your kids and pick up a copy of my buddy Fred's free Wolverine comic because it's sure to be great and (most likely) 100% helicopter-free!

Friday, May 1, 2009

80's Disco Party and The Bearriors "controversy"

There must be something in the water because I've been getting a ton of requests from different people lately to use this image in various ways:

This was one of the first "one of everything" pieces I did for Wizard Magazine. In fact I think it's THE very first one I did for them. It was for an article on the massive revival wave of 80's era pop culture properties that were happening at the time (2004 or so). I've had it on my website for a long while, and now it seems everybody and their sister wants to use it for their party, or their softball team or dvd project or whatever - seriously, I'm getting a new request every 2 days or so. It's getting really annoying quite frankly, and I'm thinking of just telling everyone NO from here on out or even going so far as to obliterate the damn thing from my various websites just to spare myself the hassle.

I've also been getting questions about THIS character in particular, since a lot of people can't identify him:

He's Kodiak from The Bearriors - a group of eco-themed animal warriors, it was an obscure Coleco toy line and short-lived cartoon that ran in syndication in early 1988, and was kind of a cross between Captain Planet and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

In 2004 they were even all set for a comeback (in the wake of similar revivals for GI Joe, Transformers, He-Man, etc) courtesy of start-up company Topp Hatt Toyz.

Wait - you've never heard of the Bearriors?!

That's because they don't actually exist!

The Bearriors were an elaborate hoax that the ToyFare editors came up with, and I was in on it from the beginning, creating pretty much all of the artwork for the fake line. The idea was to make up this fake 80's kids property that was "coming back" and drive the collectors bananas trying to remember or find info on a toy line and cartoon that never existed, similar to what Marvel Comics did with The Sentry some years back.

It all kicked off with a two page article featuring some custom made action figures that they commissioned (I'll try to dig up some picture of those - I didn't make them) and I drew some concept art of the "All-New" Bearriors:

Kodiak, the leader, had a sword:

Polaar, the muscle - wielded an axe:

Koalus, he was supposed to be some kind of a commando/mechanic with boomerang shaped sixguns:

Pandor, the silent ninja type - he had a katana sword:

Cinnamon, the token girl bear who was an archer:

Old "splinter" like grizzly bear mentor, I forget what his name was:

Ruckus, the raccoon sidekick/comic relief:

The ToyFare design staff made a nifty retro-chrome logo:

I did a few more:

I also did a bunch of designs and graphics that the magazine "leaked" every few months or so.

And of course I slipped one fo the characters into the 80's article illustration seen at the top of this post. Bottom line, the hoax worked - if the nerd message boards are to be believed. ToyFare eventually came clean about it in issue #122, four years after it started. Silly bears.