Catching up with the Zeppelins

For the past week I’ve been hunkered down working on a children’s book pitch to hopefully make to some publishers. Here’s a peek at the cover that I’ve been working on. I had to choose between two stories that came to me one night. I arrived at these primarily based on the principle of catchy titles. I reckoned the stories would flow from there.

The two stories were Mr. Frog’s Backyard Rollercoaster and the Great Zeppelin Race. You can see which one I went with.

Screen shot 2013-02-22 at 2.45.34 AM

tumblr_minlapzV561rc4waeo1_1280Over the ocean, fog replaces the frost,
and then our two racers are suddenly lost!


For those interested in the process of the creation of picture books, the following Quinton Blake video will be particularly useful. The amount of process work that accumulates during the initial phases and that ends up not being used is helpful to see. It’s important to not be too precious and let the ideas make marks on the page.

I came across this video thanks to Alec Longstreth’s watercolor process posts. If anything, the useful take away there would be that to when doing multiple drafts of illustrations, if you wish to have rich and lively final black inks, light boxing using media that doesn’t reveal too much is important. Doing so allows novel image making across the process. Gestures are fresh, folds in cloth are organic and expressions are lively.

In watercolor news, I’ve been watercoloring my dailies this past week. I’ve been arriving at some streamlined processes and am really happy with the results. The process has been such a pleasure. It’s really nice to have work that can be done around other people who aren’t cartooning or aren’t in front of computers. It keeps my spirits up.

For now, though, I’ve had to work in isolation on the Ramona book, given that it’s done digitally. To keep me chugging along through the illustrations, I’ve been listening to the ever funky and brash Pinker Tones. I heard about them a while back when talking to Bill Boiche, but I could never remember the name of the group. This past weekend, I was doing my rounds across youtube, watching amateur skate videos and some kids from Miami had put Sonido Total as the completely inappropriate soundtrack to their video during a slow-mo sequence.

Now I’m on the Pinker Tones trail. May you be blessed should you join on it to travel into the funky forest.

Noise to work through

I thought I’d share a pairing of experiences that I’ve recently enjoyed combining during late night drawing, particularly when silence doesn’t cut it.

My friend, Sal Farina, has coded some neat visual toys for Mac OS X. He’s a real lover of textures and patterns.

Of those bits of code he’s written, my favorite is acid static. Once you download and install the application, acid static runs full screen behind all of your applications and on top of your desktop. Here’s a screenshot of how it transforms your screen. It’s truly a beautiful bit of cellular automata. (The gif doesn’t do it justice, as I had to reduce it down to 5 frames…)


I combine Acid Static with Windy and Carl‘s 1997 recording Depths and I’m off to the races. I write daily comics, work out illustration compositions and in general doodle up a storm.

Here’s a recent bit of inks and watercolors:tubular-sketch

What kind of patterns (visual or auditory) get your mind reeling?

Time Parcel Service Production: Going Full Steam

I’ve finished all of the screen printing for the CCS anthology! Now to buckle down and finish the comics! 

Take a gander a the lovely little bellyband that we’ve made for the 11 minicomics. That’s right, it’s going to be a wearable communicator!

Photo on 12-5-12 at 12.03 AM #4

I’ve been experimenting with ink techniques on my story about the delivery of Sumi Ink to a poet and I feel that I’ve finally found something that works. Each page will have a landscape with an excerpt from the letter that the protagonist is writing. I’m healthily reverse engineering the landscape depictions from Kevin Huizenga’s Case 0003128-24, found in the collection put out by Drawn and Quarterly, Curses.

It’s a fun process trying to figure out how he made those pastiches of Asian landscapes. I want to add details with the medium Faber Castell pen’s while not trapping the grays in too much. Later I half-tone the sumi ink, which gives a nice uniformity and wispiness to the grays. Ideally, there’s a good deal of levity in the drawings. The trick here is to not overdraw them and to savour the drawing of individual lines slowly. The letter is pretty meditative, after all.

In the case of my Yves Klein, Claude Pascal, Armand Fernandez story, I’m working in the clear line style that I know how to rock with the Pilot Precision V7’s.  I’ll show you some process real soon, folks.

sumi test

doodles fernandez

In the music land, Blockhead keeps me pushing into the night when I really need to.

A weekend of printing

I would be lying to you if I told you I wasn’t pooped.

The semester is coming to a close here at the Center for Cartoon Studies and that means that the First Year Anthology Deadline is rearing its little old head up on the horizon. As such, I’ve spent the past days this weekend screen printing a good number of covers for an upcoming project. No drawing, no writing, just printing and trouble shooting(lots of that!).

Alongside 3 partners, I’m creating 11 little booklets that will be bound together by a bellyband (that’ll be a wearable “communicator”). You can see some of the covers below.

As mentioned in earlier posts, each of the stories will work together to create the notion of a Time Travelling Parcel Service, that is, the TPS. Each story is thus the delivery of an important object in history. The deliveries range from Abraham Lincoln’s top hat to a water bottle to the last human being on earth. It’s been enormously interesting to see how much this project has slowly changed from the onset.

We began with the idea that the anthology would be a collection of facsimile objects that a traveler who was unstuck in time would carry around. There would be napkins with messages, letters, sketchbooks, but we found cohesion across narratives to be difficult achieve. Details on that and a future iteration of that are for a later date…



Until our next encounter on the internet, friend, I leave you with a few winter themed drawings I did during a little drawing party at CCS, along with the sweet sounds of Air’s Talisman.

holidays sale

Hubert the Magician: A preview

As I promised on Monday, my magician story is complete. Unfortunately, I’m not letting you read Hubert the Magician just yet. Forgive me for being shy, but it’s not ready for your discerning eyes!

In spite of my shyness, I’ll let you take a peek at a couple of the panels from the comic. (oh yeah, forgot to mention: I ENDED UP PENCILING. LIKE A WEAKLING.)

Let me know if you’d like any of the original panels. I’ll happily send them your way if you live in the U.S. or Canada.

And if you’re not interested in those tiny panels hogging up space in your home, why not simply add a new jam to your sonic repertoire? Try out If U Got It by Chris Malinchak. It’s got that french touch that I can’t resist. Sure, there isn’t much to phone home about on this track, but I can’t help but keep this on loop.

Chris Malinchak – If U Got It by FRENCH EXPRESS

skritchy skratchy skretches

Lots of ground to cover in this post.

For starters, why pay for a yearbook when you can make one yourself? Here’s a peek at the 2012 CCS yearbook.

Clockwise from upper left: Eleri Mai Harris, Sara Sarmiento, Luke Healy, Ben Gowen.

I’m pretty proud to have been part of the design team that sought to tie the whole yearbook together with the theme of “stereotypical indie cartoonist”. To evoke the theme, we turned the whole book into a flannel shirt with pocket and facsimile moleskine. I was responsible for preparing the little fold out notebook, which served as the table of contents.

I’m surrounded by talented and passionate dudes and dudettes here at CCS, why not check out how they’ve depicted themselves? (My work is the mythical blobs.) 

On the subject of passionate people, have you had a look at Oily Comics’ exploits over the past year? If not, you’d be advised to know that Oily is where it’s at. Earlier this week I got the crop of October comics. A solid bunch of robust little black and white minis. The slew of Oily Comics that have come out this year makes me proud to be an American cartoonist.

As a friend of Oily I feel it’s my duty to draw draw draw draw. As such, I’ve got to ask you, are you satisfied with your drawing practices? Need some inspiration? Well then, might I direct you to this little post by Darryl Ayo that highlights what’s so great about Joe Lambert’s process of image creation. The short story is that he gets better and better doesn’t stop.

In the spirit of putting my money where my mouth is, I’ve been ripping through sketchbooks this week. Just put a close to one today and another yesterday. Here’s a peek and what’ll be sitting quietly in a drawer waiting for a day when I get nostalgic about my scribbles. Started a new one this evenin’.

Recently I’ve been exploring repetition, dedicating pages to variations on simple characters. Hope you like some of ‘em.

Besides doodlin’ all over the place, I’ve been screen printing covers for On They Bicker. I’d like to have some copies to give away and trade at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Fest next Saturday. I’m nowhere near where I want to be in terms of my screen printing, nevertheless, slowly but surely I’m can see improvements in my work practices and my color separation technique.

I’m currently working on an 8 page comic that was arrived at through bibliomancy. Using a Robert Micro dictionary I arrived at the following prompts. Connaitre le monde: s’envoler: cahier. These prompts are to be the hinges of the narrative.

The story revolves around the following character, Helene, who longs to escape the grip of slow life in Nantes. Constantly devouring tomes on the world outside of France, her second home is the city’s travel bookstore. The story will be a vignette that tries to capture the essence of the multiple lives that we lead and the way that we find satisfaction in those lives.

I’ll be working on it extensively tomorrow while other CCS students try their hand at 24 hr comics. I’ll be inking in the style of Dupuy and Berberian, so I’m really excited. I hope to be able to submit this comic to the Andromeda Quarterly for its January issue.

Given that Dupuy and Berberian are across the Atlantic, I can’t say I’ve ever seen any of their original art in person, let alone  in scale with the human body. This video of Dupuy and Berberian exhibiting their artwork in Paris alongside Maja at the Galerie Petits Papiers satisfies those curiosities.

With the cartooning out of the way, here’s some music and some winter heating tips:

1. 3 ways to effectively stay warm and to keep your heating bill down this winter courtesy Paul Wheaton.

2. and  a solid little mix by my friend, SHRUBS:

Riffin’ on Krazy Kat

Ain’t got too much to say today, just wanted to share some strips I made with you.

The following are strips that were made for the second assignment in Jason Lutes’ Cartooning Studio. The objective was to  recreate faithfully the visual and narrative style of an American strip artist and to tell 3 autobiographical stories using the strip as the vehicle. The assigned artists ranged far and wide from Walt Kelly to Scott Adams. I was lucky enough to get George Herriman’s Krazy Kat.

It was a really satisfying exercise. I had never done comic strips that weren’t just Dada-ist doodle non-sequitors, so this really proved to be a challenge. I understand structure, but traditional narrative? Man, that’s hard to do and not ham up! I read a great deal of Herriman’s Dailies, across collections, but I found that the most useful was The Kat Who Walked in Beauty. If you’re only familiar with Herriman’s broadsheets, you really ought to take a look at his dailies. It’s there that you’ll find his genius. Day in and day out. While the broadsheets are beautiful and hyperbolic, the dailies are immaculately fine tuned. It’s staggering to know that he churned out out these little finely crafted gems on a daily basis for 31 years.

If you’d like to learn more about Herriman and his dailies, Matt Seneca wrote a little bit about why these dailies are so important earlier this year.

Below you can see some of the process work that I did in understanding the patterns of gridding that Herriman would use in his strips.

On a different note, I’d like to share with you piece that I love. Check out the following print by Valerie Arruda.

Nice, right? The colors are beautiful and she handles the gradients with such subtlety. There’s a quiet ecstasy to the piece that I really enjoy.

I came across Valerie’s work at MICE in Boston in late September. Out of the many creations that people had brought to MICE, this print was the one that caught my eye the most (obviously, I’d already seen Alabaster’s “The Complete Talamaroo!”). She’s got a great fluid line quality that breaks up the page into super clean white blocks. I love it. Hop on over to her tumblr to check out more of her work.


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