Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mountain Man

Messing around some more with ArtRage2. This is me up in the Marzipan Mountains with Earl and Pericles. Work in progress.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Spidey

Messing around in ArtRage.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sketchbook


A little Spooner & Roxanne reimagining.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snoopy Named Top Dog

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The "Peanuts" comic strip character Snoopy was named the top dog in pop culture by the American Kennel Club on Tuesday as part of its 125th anniversary celebration, beating out a college sports mascot.

Nearly 76,000 online voters chose their favorites from a list of pop culture dogs drawn from television, film, literature, sports and art, the kennel club said.

Snoopy was the pensive dog whose best friend was a bird and who seemed to be smarter than his human master in the comic strip created by the late Charles Schulz, who died in 2000.

"Peanuts," which for close to five decades served as a mirror for the baby boom generation, appeared in 2,600 newspapers in 21 languages. Its daily readership was believed to be the most of any comic strip in history.

Second place went to Texas A&M University's mascot Reveille, followed by Scooby Doo, the television cartoon character.

The top 10:

1. Snoopy
2. Texas A&M's Reveille
3. Scooby Doo
4. Eddie from the TV show "Frasier"
5. Pound Puppy toys
6. Painting "Dogs Playing Poker"
7. Song "How Much is that Doggie in the Window"
8. Georgetown's Jack the Bulldog
9. The song "Who Let the Dogs Out"
10. Brian Griffin from the animated TV show Family Guy

For the complete list, see: http://www.akc.org/pdfs/press_center/top_125_dogs_in_pop_culture.pdf

MacDowell Colony Exhibit


The Library of Congress online exhibit A Century of Creativity reveals glimpses into the MacDowell Colony for artists, writers and composers.

I've long wanted to establish an artists colony of sorts for cartoonists & illustrators in an old downtown building. Maybe someday...

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Blight Before Christmas

I was all dressed for Christmas
And ready to go,
When it came to my attention
That I had to Go.

I pulled off my hat and my coat,
Y'all,
And away I did run
To the end of the hall.

I was feeling much better
And loading my sled,
When again came the feeling
And I ran to the head.

"This ain't good,"
said I to the missus.
"I've got the runs and
I've got to run!"

"Tonight's Christmas Eve!
The biggest night ever!
I'll never eat jalepeno peppers with raisins and rum-cake chocolate-chip ice cream again!
No, never!"

"You're lactose-intolerant!"
said Mrs. Claus tartly,
"You know ice cream makes you
gassy and farty!"

Then what to my watering eyes
Should I see,
But eight tiny reindeer with
Imodium A-D.

"Take this," said Dasher,
"And you'll be fine in a flush!"
I ignored the pun, because
I was in a rush.

I downed the whole bottle
And chased it with a cookie,
I hoped that for now
There would be no more dookie.

My reindeer were all hitched,
And the sleigh was all loaded.
I had to admit
I was feeling less bloated!

With no time to spare,
We were up in the air.
Destination:
Children's homes everywhere!

And I had to exclaim
As I shifted in my seat,
"Happy Christmas to all!
And watch what you eat!"

Friday, December 18, 2009

Library of Congress Herblock Exhibit

The Library of Congress has an online exhibit featuring Herblock, running until May 1, 2010:


The Library of Congress celebrates Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Herb Block (1909–2001) with a look at his remarkable seventy-two-year career (1929–2001). Herblock! includes eighty-two original cartoon drawings, primarily selected from the Library’s extensive Herbert L. Block Collection. These cartoons represent Block’s ability to wield his pen effectively and artfully, using it to condemn corruption and expose injustice, inequality, and immorality on topics including the Great Depression, the rise of fascism and World War II, communism and the Cold War, Senator Joseph McCarthy, race relations, Richard Nixon, the Reagan era, the 2000 election, and more.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Knights of the Lunch Table 2


Frank Cammuso's second Knights of the Lunch Table graphic novels is out, The Dragon Players. Our library recently held a discussion group for Frank's first KLT book. It's published by Graphix, Scholastic's GN imprint. From Frank's website:

It's Dragon Day, the annual fair and festival at Camelot Middle School. Artie King and his pals Wayne and Percy have big plans to build a remote-controlled dragon, enter the robot joust, and win the coveted Dragon Cup. But before you know it, Artie and his friends are battling with each other. Then the Horde builds a bigger, better dragon-bot. Now Artie is besieged on both sides!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Character Sketch


Drawn in ArtRage2.

Guy Gilchrist Christmas Music

Cartoonist and musician Guy Gilchirst has announced the release of Merry Christmas, Sluggo (San Quentin School for Boys), a holiday-themed send-up of Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues. Guy is donating songwriting royalties and a portion of proceeds from the sales of the new project to Boys Town. You can hear the song and learn more on Guy's website.

Last year Guy released his second album, Jim Beam Me Up, Scotty, along with a video created with cartoonist Mike Cope.



Guy draws the comic strip Nancy and used to draw the Muppets comic strip. Here he shows a Fox TV morning person how to draw Kermit the Frog and talks about his cartooning school.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Working on Characters


Google Comics Logos


These Google doodles recognizing comics were not used in the United States, so here they are if you missed them. Asterix is amazingly popular everywhere in the world, it seems, except for the US. And Wallace and Gromit have proven that we can understand British humour, after all. We've seen the use of two other comics in 2009 with Popeye and DC superheroes. Dr. Seuss's children's book cartoons were used to mark his birthday in March. Did I miss any? All the Google doodles can be seen at... well, heck, you can google it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A teacher.


One I drew a while back that grew on me a bit.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Crogan's Vengeance

I just read Chris Schweizer's Crogan's Vengeance, a graphic tome of pirates, a reluctant hero and dark deeds on stormy seas.

Schweizer is a talented cartoonist and keen storyteller. The story is a page-turner from the first leaf. With deft brush strokes and colorful dialogue, Schweizer tells the swashbuckling tale of Catfoot Crogan, ancestor of young Eric Crogan. The story doesn't miss a beat. It's hard to put down the book as we see how Crogan goes from seaman to pirate.

The Crogan Adventures continues with this month's release of Crogan's March, with French Legionnaire Peter Crogan.

A page of Crogan's original art.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Andy Warhol - Children's Illustrator

Andy Warhol's illustrations for The Little Red Hen can be seen here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fuzzyclops™

It looks like the Hot New Thing this holiday season is the Fuzzyclops™! They just happen to be made at Dawson Studios by their creator, my son Ethan. He sold out today at the KinderMarket, but is still taking orders. Guaranteed to please any kid! (Click pic for close-up)
Snowball

Puppet Therapy

Puppet Therapy is one of my favorite weeks of Spooner comics. It was fun drawing Spooner and Roxanne as puppets and having an excuse (for a change) to do lame gags. The idea was inspired by a couple of old puppets that my wife's great-aunt made several years ago.

First eReader for Kids

Flips books are ebooks for kids, designed for the Nintendo DS. Each game cartridge includes six to eight books by a popular children's author. The first four titles will feature authors Enid Blyton and Cathy Cassidy, the Artemis Foul books and Too Ghoul for Cool series.

Children read the books on the DS touch screen and turn the pages by tapping it with the stylus.

I just realized what I don't like about most e-readers... they only have one page! I like the two-page aspect of this e-reader.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Flying Girls Sketch


Don Trachte's Christmas Card Collection

The Bennington (Vermont) Museum's Festival of Trees event will feature historical Christmas Cards by several cartoonists. The theme for this year's event came from Bennington-area resident Don Trachte Jr. and the art collection he inherited from his father, Don Trachte Sr., creator of Henry.
The art on display includes holiday cards with sketches from Rube Goldberg, Hal Foster, Mort Walker and Chester Gould.

Elzie Segar on Google

Elzie Segar's birthday is recognized today on Google. Segar created the comic strip Thimble Theater, which introduced Popeye its tenth year.






Above: Popeye's first appearance (click to enlarge)


Monday, December 7, 2009

The Submission Guidelines for every Comic and Manga Publisher in the Universe

Jason Thibault has created a great resource for anyone looking for a publisher for his or her graphic novel.

A Wish For Wings That Fly

I must have been having either a very productive social life in 1991 or an emotionally troubled one, because I have absolutely no recollection of this animated Christmas special featuring Berke Breathed's Opus & Co. called A Wish for Wings that Fly.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Nutty Character


San Francisco Panorama

Comics by Dan Clowes, Art Spiegelman, Adrian Tomine, Jessica Abel and more than a dozen other cartoonists will be featured in San Francisco Panorama, a one-shot newspaper to be published next week by Dave Eggers. The full-color paper will by 16 pages and include a section for kids on the last page, called The Rear End.

"The comics section of any Sunday newspaper has always been valuable entertainment," said Oscar Villalon, McSweeney's publisher. "But because of space constraints, comics have gotten smaller. This is our throwback, our reminder of how cool comics can be if you offer it in glorious color and give the artist a big canvas."

San Francisco Panorama may be preordered at sfgate.com/panorama or store.mcsweeneys.net.
It also will be sold at select bookstores. The cost is $16.

Full article

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Little Golden Books Art Exhibit



Golden Legacy: Original Art from 65 Years of Golden Books is billed as "the most extensive public showing ever of original illustration art" from Little Golden Books, which celebrated its 65th anniversary in 2007.

Exhibit Schedule:

11.24.09 - 2.28.10 : Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA http://www.picturebookart.org/

3.20.10 - 8.7.10 : Lake County, Wauconda, IL http://www.lakecoutydiscoerymuseum.org/

10.29.10 - 1.7.11 : Chicago Public Library http://www.chipublib.org/

2.1.11 - 4.12.11: The Children's Museum of Richmond http://www.c-mor.org/

4.30.11 - 6.12.11 : Salt Lake City Public Library, UT http://www.slcpl.lib.ut.us/index.jsp

6.21.11 - 9.15.11 : Open (This means call your local museum and have them get their butts in gear)

9.24.11 - Jan.1.12 : Greenville County Museum, Greenville, SC http://www.greenvillemuseum.org/

If you visit the Little Golden Books website, be careful. It makes weird noises.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Michael Chabon Interview

There is a very cool interview with one of my favorite authors, Michael Chabon, over at Newarama.

I first discovered Michael Chabon about ten years ago when I read his novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Chabon hadn't yet won a Pulitzer Prize for his book (or probably even received his first royalty check), and I was actually able to go to his website and swap e-mails with him. Can you remember when e-mail and the web were still fairly new, and everybody was accessible by e-mail?) A few months later, that was impossible. He became Rich and Famous. He also went on to write some comic books and a screenplay for Spider-Man 2.



The interview is a fun read. He discusses his new book, Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son. I enjoyed seeing another dad talk so much about his kids and what is out there for kids to read today. (There's a nice mention of Owly and picture book authors such as David Wiesner and James Joyce.)

Nrama: That complaint extends to a lot of current books for children, which seems to be one of the few growth markets remaining in publishing. Any current books for children you’d recommend?

Chabon: Well, of course the Philip Pullman trilogy, if you can call that current. You can also argue whether that’s a children’s book, but it might back up what I’m talking about, because my daughter did read it when she was very much a kid, and loved it, and I loved it too. It’s probably the work for children that I’ve most loved since I was a child myself.

Other stuff that’s out there now? Well, there’s beautiful things happening in the world of picture books. Brian Selznick, who did The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and David Wiesner, who did Tuesday, they are both amazing. William Joyce is a genius, and that stuff wasn’t around when I was a kid. But a lot of the things I read to my kids are also things I read when I was a kid.

Nrama: To attempt to tie this together – sometimes I find that in those works aimed at children, there’s these references to literature, or film, and they lead me to seek those works out for myself.

Chabon: Exactly. I leaned a lot reading comic books, and from the many allusions by Stan Lee in the Marvel books, and the way the DC writers would drop a lot of kind of fancy words into their scripts now and then that would send me to the dictionary, and from there to make many more literary discoveries. What great stuff.

Read the full interview at Newsarama.

William Steig Exhibit

The kids and I went to see the William Steig exhibit at the local Museum of Art. It featured Steig's picture book work, with several original watercolors. Also exhibited were a few of his book dummies, a special treat for those who have put together their own dummy. The kids enjoyed it quite a bit, especially since we went across the street and checked out every one of his picture books afterwards. They said Shrek ("fear" in Yiddish) the picture book is way better than Shrek the movie.

William Steig, The Man Who Never Grew Up will be going to Wausau, Wisconsin in April. I can't find out where else the exhibit will be.

Say, wouldn't it be nifty to have Meryl Streep read your book aloud? Listen to her read William Steig's Spinky Sulks.


"I usually start a picture book by selecting a main character - donkey, mouse or perhaps human. Then I decide what his or her occupation is and take it from there. I make a very rough dummy and afterward try to get the spontaneous quality of the rough drawings. I like drawing, but not illustrating, because basically I'm a doodler. My best work is spontaneous and unconscious, as someone once pointed out, calling me a 'sublime doodler' - the best compliment I ever had."

Said Steig, "I feel this way; I have a position - a point of view. But I don't have to think about it to express it. I can write about anything and my point of view will come out. So when I am at work my conscious attention is to tell a story to the reader. All this other stuff takes place automatically."

William Steig wrote and illustrated Sylvester & the Magic Pebble, Dr. De Soto, Shrek, Pete's a Pizza, and tons of other children's books. He was also an iconic cartoonist of The New Yorker, having created 1,600 cartoons and 120 covers.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Elephant in a Tree

What is it about this sketch that makes people want to permanently make it part of their body?


Several months ago, I somehow ran across the Flickr page of Dave Navarro, formerly of Red Hot Chili Peppers and current lead guitarist of Jane's Addiction. Apparently he had the image tattooed on himself and his daughter. I thought it was unusual but I was flattered.

Yesterday I read the comments on that blog entry. A couple of other people said they wanted the tattoo as well. I'm cool with that. I'm just wondering what it is about this drawing that makes folks want to wear it? Is it Freudian?

Originally this was a doodle for a picture book idea I had after telling my kids a bedtime story. Maybe it's an omen of sorts, telling me I need to go ahead and do that book. Or become a tattoo artist.
That's the problem with omens. They're always so vague.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Man Who Lost His Head

You may be familiar with the work of Robert McCloskey, who wrote and illustrated the classic picture books Make Way for Ducklings and Blueberries for Sal, as well as the Homer Price books. This month we'll see the reissuing of a book illustrated by McCloskey and written by Claire Huchet Bishop in 1942 and which has been out of print for over 25 years: The Man Who Lost His Head (New York Review Books, $14.95 (64p) ISBN 978-1-59017-332-9).



It's the unusual story of a man who awakens with his head missing. He can't remember where he left his head and sets out to find it. As temporary substitutes he uses a pumpkin, various other organic replacements, and a wooden copy of his head. It's a wacky story, and if it's wacky you like, take a gander.

Casper the Friendly Ghost #6

Five pages of original art from the first Harvey Comics version of Casper. I've read that the numbering system for several old comics is faulty, and here's a case in point: This is from issue #6 of Casper, but it's the first one published by Harvey. Issues 1-5 were published by St. John Comics. I believe Dell published some Casper comics prior to St. John.



This kind of numbering system was not uncommon back then. Sometimes even the titles of books were changed, while keeping the numbering system. Understandably this causes consternation for collectors.








I'm not 100% certain, but I believe this was drawn by Warren Kremer. The art dates to 1952.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Congratulations, Novelists!

Congratulations to my 10-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter who met and exceded their writing goals in the NaNoWriMo Young Writers' Program! My son's goal for National Novel Writing Month was 5,000 words, and my daughter's goal was 3,000 words. They're both currently at around 7,000 words.

While they met their word count goal, they haven't technically completed a novel in 30 days. They realized they had much more to tell, and are continuing their daily writing. Where it will stop, nobody knows.


As a reward for meeting their writing goals, they'll get to order a free proof copy of their book published through CreateSpace, Amazon's print-on-demand publishing arm. I've used Createspace with my Spooner and Wild Blue books, and the quality is very good. My only complaint is the cover stock could be a little heavier. Probably, it's a heavy paper rather than actual cover stock.

Once they do finish their stories, you can be sure I'll be plugging their books right here. And congrats to everyone who actually wrote a novel in 30 days. Oh, and go buy your Spooner books already! It's almost Christmas!

Rip Haywire


Dan Thompson, creator of the syndicated comic-adventure strip Rip Haywire, has very coolly posted several roughs of the strip on his blog. It's always fun for me to see the pre-inked work of a cartoonist.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Owly's First Animated Short


What? You haven't seen Owly's first animated short? Check it out here, and take a look at creator Andy Runton's storyboards as well. It's about the truest animated version of a comic character I've seen, next to Peanuts. Kudos to Andy and Sprite Animation Studios.

Owly is Andy's popular all-ages comic published by Top Shelf.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Warren Kremer Original Art



Here are more Harvey comics pages drawn by Warren Kremer. If you're a fan of Harvey Comics, you may enjoy Mark Arnold's Harveyville Fun Times website and books.

Comics were instrumental in my learning to read, and also (obviously) in my career choice. I still get sad when I go into a grocery or convenience store and don't see a spinner rack full of comics. It's my hypothesis that, in the 80s, stores got tired of being the hangout for kids after school and on weekends, so they began redesigning their storefronts to be less and less kid-friendly. No more comic books, no more video games. The sole holdout seems to be Archie digests, but even they are getting more and more scarce.


It didn't help that the feckless Harvey boys let their personal spat lead to the dissolution of the comics company. Harvey characters now sit in limbo, owned by some licensing firm.


Archie Comics is holding out much better and they're at least trying to make good comics and stay in touch with their readers.

A while back, though, they made a deal with DC Comics, which now handles the advertising for Archie. I hope this doesn't lead eventually to Warner ownership of Archie Comics.



Top Shelf Comics has done a great job of bringing comics to kids, with Owly, Johnny Boo, Yam and Korgi. Mike Kunkle (Herobear and the Kid) is doing wonderful work on a kid-friendly Shazam! They're still hard for kids to get, but at least they're out there. I've got a project along these lines myself, and will post some stuff soon.