Saturday, August 30, 2008


Find more "Coraline" videos at "Rotten Tomatoes."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Peanuts Original Sunday Comic

This just sold for over $100,000.00.
(It is ten inches wide at 300 dpi if you feel like saving and printing it.)


I quickly sketched this caricature of Barack Obama while watching the Democratic National Convention.
I'm looking forward to the hooplah on Thursday night.
Obama could be a really fun President to draw. But then again, so could John McCain.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Paying the bills.

I enjoy assignments like these. Sometimes alternative weekly editors call me with an impossible deadline. The pressure to do everything "perfectly" goes away and you just have fun with it. 


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Along came a spider ...

I drew this for an art print screenprinted by our company, Mile 44.

Size: 12" x 12" (fits perfectly in a record album frame), four screens, $20 - includes shipping.
If you want to buy one, send me an e-mail by clicking here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam!

This looks to be very cool. Mike Kunkel, who created the award-winning comic book series Herobear and the Kid, is having a go at Captain Marvel. I just heard about it and am heading out to get my copy. Issue two is supposed to be out soon. Mike does awesome work, great all-ages comics, and is a great guy. He published the Spooner comic books along with Scott Sava under the Astonish Comics label.

More info can be found at Mike's Shazam blog.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Spooner Comic Strip Collection

Start saving your loose change because I am putting together a book that collects all the Spooner daily comic strips. I'm mostly doing this for myself because I would just like to be able to read all the comics in one handy little book. I'll be publishing it through Lulu.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Shel Silverstein

I've finally finished reading a biography of Shel Silverstein called "A Boy Named Shel" by Lisa Rogak.

While shopping in the bookstore one day, I saw the book and just grabbed it and tossed it in with the other things I was buying and I have to say since I've been reading the biography, I've been completely obsessed with Shel.

A couple of weeks ago, I rode my bike over to the local library and checked out a ton of his books (the ones I don't currently own) like "A Light in the Attic," "Falling Up," "The Missing Piece," "The Missing Piece Meets the Big O," "Don't Bump the Glump!," "A Giraffe and a Half," "Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back," and "Runny Babbit." I tried finding "Different Dances" and some of his other books, but the library didn't have them.

I saw Shel Silverstein as a children's book author and illustrator.
He, in fact, was an American poet, songwriter, musician, composer, cartoonist, screenwriter and author of children's books.

I did not know he wrote a ton of songs like "A Boy Named Sue, "Cover of the Rolling Stone," "The Unicorn" and "Never Bite a Married Woman on the Thigh."

I can remember my dad walking around the house singing "A Front Row Seat to Hear Ol' Johnny Sing." I never knew it was a Shel Silverstein song.

Shel wrote more than a dozen albums, four movie scores, short stories, screenplays, and well over 100 one-act plays.

He was a creative genius and after reading "A Boy Named Shel," I'm sad that I didn't know more about him while he was alive.

I extremely admire him for doing black and white illustrations for his children's books. I absolutely love it!

I highly recommend this biography.
I also urge you to pick up a couple of Shel's books and give them a read if you haven't lately.
My favorites are "The Giving Tree," "The Missing Piece," "The Missing Piece Meets the Big O" and, of course, his poetry books.

Shel Silverstein
September 25, 1930 – May 10, 1999

The Shel Silverstein Archive
Lisa Rogak

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"Raymond and Graham Rule the School" SLJ review

Here's a review from The School Library Journal of "Raymond and Graham Rule the School," the first book of the Raymond and Graham series written by Mike Knudson and Steve Wilkinson and illustrated by me.

KNUDSON, Mike & Steve Wilkinson. Raymond and Graham Rule the School. illus. by Stacy Curtis. 136p. CIP. Viking. 2008. Tr $14.99. ISBN 978-0-670-01101-8. LC 2007033350.
Gr 2-4–A rollicking, laugh-out-loud look at fourth grade through the eyes of two lifelong pals. The boys figure that this year, since they are the oldest kids at East Millcreek Elementary, they’ll rule the school, but nothing seems to work out as planned. First, Raymond ends up having the creepiest teacher ever, then Graham accidentally shaves off his own eyebrow. After auditions for the school play, Raymond, who covets the role of Scrooge, gets a small part with a silly line about plum pudding. Faced with more ups and downs–and one hilarious situation after another–the boys begin to wonder if fourth grade will turn out to be a total disaster. Narrated by Raymond, this story is filled with nonstop action and kid-friendly humor. Done in an exaggerated cartoon style, Curtis’s occasional black-and-white illustrations perfectly suit the tone of the text. Fans of Dav Pilkey’s “Captain Underpants” series (Scholastic) or Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Abrams, 2007) are in for big fun involving prunes, false teeth, misplaced first kisses, and two true-blue friends.–Andrea Tarr, Corona Public Library, CA

Review copyright The School Library Journal

The book also got a great review from Kirkus Review back in June.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I Wanna Do This!

Okay, so this is for gals with an anger-management issue, but I would love to do this!
How many times in your life do you get to break something and not feel bad about it?
I'd especially love not having to clean up the mess.

I hope they use the end product for something crafty or at least recycle it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

"Smoking Popes" poster

This is the poster for the Smoking Popes show at The Knitting Factory in Hollywood, CA last night.

I drew it, Dave printed it. We are Mile 44.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bigfoot Caught

Two men claim to have caught the legendary Bigfoot in northern Georgia. Photographs of the alleged Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, have been hard to come by. This is an exclusive image of Bigfoot that has never before been seen.

Here's the original digital painting. Doesn't quite have the realism in color, so I blurred and grayscaled it. Painted in ArtRage and then took it into Photoshop to finish it. I was happy and surprised with how the fur turned out. The background needs more depth, though, and probably a foreground branch or something. Nice thing about drawing bigfoot is you can just make it up as you go along.

Eyed Click Beetle

I found this guy outside my studio. Cartoonists love finding bugs like this.

Studio visitor

I walked down the steps of my studio to find I had a (large) visitor waiting for me.
Sorry the photo is blurry, my hands were shaking and I was crying like an 6-year-old girl.

Canon Rock

I've been listening to Canon Rock a lot. There are tons of variations on it that musicians have put up on YouTube (including an awesome electric violin version), but it was originally arranged by Jerry C, who even made his background track freely available to other musicians. I'm posting the version that first introduced me to the song.

Studio Music This Week

This is what I've been listening to this week in my studio.

These are leaked GN'R songs from their hopefully upcoming album(s) "Chinese Democracy," which they had hoped to debut during the Beijing Olympics.....didn't happen (of course).

I'm a hardcore GNR fan, so this music really got me motivated to plow through some deadlines this week.

What are you listening to?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Warhol Spooner


Just for fun... drawn in Sketchbook Pro and colored in PS.

Diet of an Olympian vs. Diet of an Illustrator

Michael Phelps' Diet:
Michael Phelps Daily Calorie Intake = 12,000

Breakfast: three fried-egg sandwiches loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise, two cups of coffee, a five-egg omelet, a bowl of grits, three slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar and three chocolate-chip pancakes.

Lunch: one pound of enriched pasta and two large ham and cheese sandwiches slathered with mayo on white bread, then 1,000 calories worth of energy drinks.

Dinner: one pound of pasta and an entire pizza, washed down with another 1,000 calories worth of energy drinks.

Now imagine eating all that and sitting at your drawing table all day.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Australopithecus Aferensis

I've spent so much time working on computers lately, I just felt like doing a little digital painting. This is Australopithecus Aferensis, nicknamed "Lucy," discovered by archeologist Tom Gray.

Lucy lived in present-day Ethiopia about three million years ago during the Pliocene period. During this time, North and South America became connected, Africa collided with Europe, and the land bridge between Alaska and Asia appeared. The first giraffes emerged in Africa, camels hoofed it to Asia from America, and Rhinos became extinct in North America while mastodons flourished. The Arctic Ice Cap formed, which is now expected to disappear within the next few years.

Eliminating Rich Black from Colored Line Art File

I have recently encountered an issue with "Rich Black" in the printing of color comics on newsprint. This outlines the issue and my resolution.

When I color a comic in Photoshop, I usually scan the original art as line art at a high resolution. Then I convert the image to CMYK, set the line art layer to Multiply, and then do the coloring on other layers. At that point I flatten, save and send the art to the publisher.

The problem with this is that Photoshop automatically makes all the line art into Rich Blacks, which means the line art is duplicated on the C, M and Y channels. What you get is a blacker (rich) black, which causes two problems: one, it creates a high ink saturation, which is not condusive to an absorbent paper like newsprint; and two, if the registration is not perfect (which it rarely is in newspapers), then the line art can become an extremely blurry mess.

I used to send Spooner to American Color with the line art and color as two separate files. However, not all layout artists are familiar with how to handle this, so I've had to work up an alternative method.

This post will document my procedure to solve this issue. It is not as time consuming as it appears, yet I'm certain there must be another method that works better. If you know of one, please share it.

This image shows what the file looks like with the Black channel removed. In other words, this is what the image will look like when it is being printed, right before the black ink is printed on top of it. You can see that all the black line art is duplicated by each color plate, and when each color is printed on top of one another, you already have a pretty dark area where the black ink will go. But if it's not precisely aligned with the black ink, you can imagine how it will break the crispness of the black plate.

The image below shows what the yellow plate (channel) looks like by itself. (It looks gray but this is all actually yellow.) So what we need to do is get rid of the areas where the yellow channel is duplicating the black channel.

This is my procedure:

The art at this point is flattened. I open the Channels palette and hide the C, M and Y channels so that only the black channel is visible, and selected. Use the magic wand tool, with the Anti-alias and Contiguous boxes unchecked. Click any black area and it will select all the black on the screen.

Next I make visible and select the Yellow channel, and hide and deselect the black channel. Only the yellow channel is visible and selected. We still have the magic wand-selected area. In the Edit menu, I select "Cut." Then we are left with the following:

Repeat the procedure with the Magenta and Cyan channels. Once this is completed, if we make all channels visible except the black channel, it should look like this:

So now we're getting somewhere. This file will print only black ink where there are black lines, and we will have no rich blacks. But then I discovered a new issue: The black is not 100% black. You can see in the image below that the black looks weak. So we have one more step.

In the Channels palette, we again hide the C, M and Y channels. Only the black channel is visible and selected. In the Colors palette, we use the sliders to bring C, M and Y down to Zero, and slide K up to 100. Use the Bucket Fill tool, with Anti-alias and Contiguous unchecked, and click on a black area. All the black line art will be "filled" with 100% black. This is almost imperceptible onscreen, but will make a difference in the printed image.

What we end up with should look exactly like what we started out with. Only InDesign or Quark will know the difference:

I saved the image as EPS and sent it to the publisher. The prepress guys said they had to run it through a program called Asura in order to turn it into a PDF, so I am sending a Photoshop PDF this week to see if it'll help them skip that step. I really don't like sending art as PDF since that compresses the image into a JPEG. I don't think JPEGs create good print quality images since it is a lossy compression format, but maybe I'm wrong. I was hoping JPEG2000 would catch on, because it improves the compression and reduces pixel loss, but doesn't look like it will.

If you have had similar issues, maybe you will find some use in this. If you have a better solution, than I would love to hear it. Any questions, feel free to let me know.

P.S. I should point out that this is not a situation where I am doing work for a specific publication, so it is impossible to prepare it in advance under any particular prepress guidelines.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Goonies

I just finished drawing this movie poster for "The Goonies" showing at the historic Artcraft Theatre.
It's an old theatre in Franklin, IN and our poster operation, Mile 44, has teamed up with them to provide funding for renovation of the beautiful old theatre by creating a series of collectible, hand-printed movie posters for some of the theatre's showings.

The posters in the series are sold in the theatre lobby as well as through our poster website, which itself is under renovation.
If you want to buy one (they're $20 each + shipping), you can e-mail me for availability by clicking here.

If you're in the Franklin, Indiana area, why not stop by on August 22nd or 23rd and see The Goonies on the big screen?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Calvin and (Steve) Jobs

Hat tip to Daily Cartoonist and Gizmodo and MAD Magazine.

Now Safe for Santa!

This has nothing to do with illustration (though I guess a book job did pay for the chimney repairs), but I needed a place to post these pics I took to annoy the bricklayers.
Now Santa can safely go down our chimney this year......last year was a bit dicey.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Another darned faun.
Cintiq + Sketchbook Pro

Cintiq + Sketchbook Pro

Friday, August 1, 2008

Rabbit Rocketeer

Finally, a drawing for fun.
I've been so busy with paying work, that I haven't had time to sit down and draw something for the heck of it.
Not that I can complain...

I really wanted to watercolor this, but decided to color it digitally instead. And it's very sloppy.
What do you think?
Wanna see it in watercolor?

Ink on Strathmore Imperial, coloring: Cintiq + Photoshop