Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkin Carving

This year my wife wanted me to scrape a ghost design into the pumpkin rather than carve a face.
This is my first time doing this. I had to go find some of my sculpture tools to make it happen.
I'm so-so happy with it. I'm glad I didn't try to do something more this pumpkin:

Or have to carve and display this many pumpkins:

Leave us a link to a picture of your pumpkin in the comments area.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What's Your FAVORITE Candy?

What's your favorite Halloween candy?

Let us know in the comments area.

Artwork: Cintiq + Photoshop

Happy Hallowe'en

This is the closest thing I have to something Hallowe'eny to post. It's an old Spooner cartoon, showing it from the rough idea to the finished strip.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

In "Publishers Weekly"

The book was profiled in Publishers Weekly and it's #10 on their list of Children's Book Best Sellers.

Thanks again to everyone who's bought a copy of the book!

Seen at Target

We were walking through Target tonight when my wife said, "Hey, isn't that your book?"
"Things to Do Before I Die #7,841 ... Have Target Sell Something With Your Name On It" ... now marked off.

Photos courtesy of my iPhone.

Meet Frank.

Frank the Frankenkid.

I wish I had more time to do sketches like these this month.
I love drawerings of spooky things.

I've been enjoying the Gallery O' Terror drawings of Mr. Guy "The Ghoul" Francis.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Comics Bonanza

Every now and then I'll take the kids to the comic book shop. It is really hard to find comics that are appropriate for them, though. Occasionally we will go to a local comics convention, but it's still slim pickings.

Today, though, we hit the jackpot. Tons of old comics for 50 cents and a dollar, many more than I could have bought. Now this is when comics were made for kids, not 35-year-olds still living with their mothers!

If you click on the photo you can see the covers better. Fun stuff. The kids are lovin' them.

Weird Ice Cube Tray Phenomenon

If any of you happen to have a side degree in physics, maybe you can help me figure this out. Every now and then something weird happens to the water in our ice cube trays. One or two of the cubes will form stalagmites while freezing. What in the world could cause this? Vibrations from the washing machine? Our proximity to several cell phone towers? The reversing of the poles? I'm mystified.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ron, Andy and Henry.

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Spooner Comic Strip Collection

The new Spooner anthology is now available through Lulu Publishing. This 238-page, 8.5" X 8.5" paperback collects all the daily comic strips (sans Sundays) from the first to the last.
I decided to publish this mostly for myself, just so I could have all the comics in one easily-accessible place, but thought I might as well make it available to the public. It sells for $14.95 plus shipping.

Spooner was syndicated by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate shortly before it was bought out by the Tribune Co. About a month before 9/11 I moved Spooner to United Media, and I began self-syndicating the strip a few months after that. It features Spooner and Roxanne, a young married couple learning the ropes of marriage. I can't tell you how many letters I received from couples who accused me of having a hidden camera in their house.

The strip ran in a very modest number of international and domestic newspapers from January 3, 2000 (the day of the last daily Peanuts) to June 15, 2002. Spooner was also published in two comic books and one trade paperback (Spooner: Love is Strange) by Astonish Comics.

"Who's There?"

Our doorbell rang at 10 p.m. tonight.

I went to the door, but no one was there.
Instead, there was a bag on the doorstep, not a flaming bag of poop, a gift bag.

Inside we found lots of goodies and this note:

So, apparently, we tape the BOO! sign on our front door and within 24 hours we have to make 2 copies of the note and the sign and secretly deliver it to 2 neighbors or friends who don't have a BOO! sign taped to their door.

The fun is to watch nearby front doors to see how far this has spread.

Fun neighbors are worth a million dollars.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Miami Book Fair Adds Graphic Novel Focus

The Miami Book Fair International, which attracts more than 250,000 visitors over eight days, is partnering with Diamond Comics Distributors to expand the comics and graphic novel presence at the 25th annual fair set for November 9–16 on the campus of Miami-Dade College.

Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist Art Spiegelman will be a featured guest and will create this year's poster. A graphic novel education day on Nov. 9 will feature professional programming aimed at teachers, librarians, publishers and retailers; there will also be a kids' day on November 14 and an array of publisher exhibitors, panels and author events Nov. 15–16 focused on comics and graphic novels.

Mitch Kaplan, cofounder of the Miami Book Fair and owner of Miami's Books & Books, said the book fair wanted to reflect the growing consumer and professional interest in the category. “It's the 25th anniversary of the book fair,” Kaplan said, “and over the years we've tried to keep it fresh and have it reflect what's going in publishing. Graphic novels have a growing profile, and we'd like to celebrate that.” In fact, Kaplan said he is expanding the graphic novel presence at his stores. “We've carried graphic novels for a while, but now we're added a category buyer and we're giving them a higher profile,” he said....

Full Article


Miami Book Fair Prize Package GiveAway

Now in promotion of Miami Book Fair International and their graphic novel programming, and thanks to the efforts of Palley Promotes, TWO VERY LUCKY WINNERS will be awarded a PRIZE PACK that includes the following titles—all from authors who will be attending the 25th annual Miami Book Fair International:
  • ”Hatter M” graphic novel SIGNED by Frank Beddor (The Looking Glass Wars)
  • “The Monsters of Templeton” paperback novel by Lauren Groff~”BAT-MANGA!” graphic novel by Chip Kidd
  • ”The Given Day” (Browse Inside) novel by award-winning author Dennis Lehane (Mystic River; Gone, Baby, Gone)
  • ”ZOT!” graphic novel by Scott McCloud
  • ”Prince of Persia” graphic novel by Jordan Mechner (creator of the Prince of Persia videogame)”Identity Crisis” graphic novel by Brad Meltzer (The Book of Lies, The Book of Fate)
  • ”The Dracula Dossier” novel by James Reese (The Herculine Trilogy)
Each winner will also be awarded TWO TICKETS to attend the 25th annual Miami Book Fair International! So please read the rules below and completely fill out the form to enter! North American Residents Only. Giveaway ends Thursday, October 30, 2008 – 11:59AM PST.


"Dancing Dudes"

The second book in the Raymond and Graham series has hit bookstores.

It's called "Dancing Dudes" written by the awesome Mike Knudson, illustrated by myself and published by Viking (Penguin Group).

The book will be reviewed in the November 1st issue of School Library Journal!

About "Dancing Dudes" from

"It’s time for the fourth grade’s annual hoedown, and best friends Raymond and Graham are ready to wow the whole school with their great dance moves. But Raymond faces a tough choice when it’s time to pick a dance partner: the most annoying girl in the class—or his teacher! What’s a fourth-grade man to do? The second book in the Raymond and Graham series is full of goofy illustrations and huge laughs from this hilarious duo!"

You can order the book from by clicking here.

Monday, October 20, 2008


I've been known to tell my boys bear stories (made-up ones as they drift off to sleep). They always end up with the bear being friendly. Maybe at some point I should make sure they know that bears aren't all that friendly.

The Chestnut Tree

Check out this four-minute hand-drawn animation, produced by Bert and Jennifer Klein and directed and animated by Hyun-Min Lee, making her directorial debut.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Power of Music

Studies solidify what we already know... music has a strong effect on us and our activities.

Music makes an enormous difference while I am working. Certain songs can put me into the Zone while I'm drawing. If the music is too distracting, I can't concentrate while penciling and laying out illustrations. Different aspects of work use different parts of the brain. Some benefit from music and some are hindered by it. And a bad song can absolutely ruin it!

Amazing Power of Music Revealed

LIVE SCIENCE - More than 7,000 runners who raced earlier this month in a half-marathon in London were under the influence of a scientifically derived and powerful performance-enhancing stimulant - pop music.

The danceable, upbeat music at London's "Run to the Beat" race was selected on the basis of the research and consultation of sport psychologist Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University in England. He has learned how to devise soundtracks that are just as powerful, if not more so, as some of the not-so-legal substances that athletes commonly take to excel.

"Music is a great way to regulate mood both before and during physical activity. A lot of athletes use music as if it's a legal drug," Karageorghis told LiveScience. "They can use it as a stimulant or as a sedative. Generally speaking, loud upbeat music has a stimulating effect and slow music reduces arousal."

The link between music and athletic performance is just one example of the inroads scientists and doctors are making into understanding the amazing power that music has over our minds and bodies. Science is backing up our intuition and experience, showing that music really does kill pain, reduce stress, better our brains and basically change how we experience life.

Full article

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Witch in the Lake

A drawering of the witch who lives in the lake.

Gouache, ink on 300 lb. hot-pressed Strathmore bristol.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dreamland Chronicles and Ed's Terrestrials Now in Stores

Scott Christian Sava's Dreamland Chronicles and Ed's Terrestrials are now available worldwide directly through Barnes and Noble, Borders, WaldenBooks, and any other book retail chain near you. If the books aren't in stock, they will happily order them for you.

If you haven't read either of these books, you and your kids are missing out! My kids devoured these books and love the Dreamland cast of characters. They can't wait for the next book to come out. These books have hooked thousands of readers around the world and threaten to invade bookshelves everywhere!

The Dreamland Chronicles ************* Ed's Terrestrials
ISBN: 9781600103070 ****************** ISBN: 9781600103100

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

80 Awesome Years Old!

Today is the 80th birthday of one my heroes, Paul Giambarba.

If you've seen this Polaroid logo, you've seen some of Paul Giambarba's work.

I, along with several other cartoonists, surprised Paul today with a cartoon drawn especially for this wonderful milestone in Paul's life.

Guess the Voice

We took a little weekend trip to Michigan earlier this year to unwind.
We visited local shops and spent some time on the beach. I picked up a bunch of rocks and shells on the beach and they sit in a Mason jar on my drawing table to remind me to step away from my drawing table every now and then and relax.

I miss Michigan and this commercial makes me miss it even more.

Enjoy the fall colors this year.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday Nights

One of the few tv shows I look forward to every week.
The theme song is addictive, it's part of a longer song called "The History of Everything" by Bare Naked Ladies.

Here's the opening of the show:

And here's a funny clip.

(Yep that's 'David' from "Roseanne." From time to time, Sarah Gilbert, 'Darlene' from "Roseanne" does a guest appearance on the show. Johnny Galecki, the guy who played David on "Roseanne," autographed a theatre ticket for me once and joked around. I've been a fan ever since. He's excellent in this show.)


Ginny Trimble

This is a piece some of you may have seen before.
It's from a project I'm writing and illustrating.

I love dark pieces.

There is a Fungus Among Us

I found this mass of mushroom in our yard on Saturday while mowing.
All my wife could say was "GET RID OF IT!" It kinda freaked her out.
I told her it looked kinda like a brain.

I think this is a maitake mushroom, known as "hen of the woods" or "dancing mushrooms."
It's apparently edible and has several health benefits such as a super boost to your immunity.

I'm not a fan of mushrooms, neither is my wife, so we're going to pass on eating it.
But if it means no flu shot this year, hmmm......

Friday, October 10, 2008

A witch.

Just another scrap of paper I had to use for something. I have a lot of these laying around that are cut from bigger pieces. 

What Makes a Best-Selling Children’s Book?

From the Goosebumps to the Harry Potter series, some children’s books become enormous best-sellers. Jean Feiwel, Senior Vice President and publisher of Fiewel and Friends and Square Fish Books, Diane Roback, Senior Editor of the children's section of Publisher’s Weekly, and Micha Hershman, a manager of Borders Group children's department, discuss what makes a best-selling children’s book.


via The Leonard Lopate Show

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wild Blue

I'm working on putting together a collection of the Wild Blue comic strip that I used to do for the Air Force Times, and ran across this one that I'd almost forgotten about. It incorporated a watercolor drawing I had done that was supposed to be used in an article but never was. I like the way it turned out so I found a way to use it in Wild Blue.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Interview with our own Stacy Curtis!

First off, Let me say Congrats to Stacy and this wonderful book, The 7 Habits of Happy Kids. I just checked and it's at #4 on the New York Times bestseller list for picture books and that's just not too shabby.
p.s. I included a few poorly reproduced photos from my copy and hopefully I won't be answering calls from lawyers this afternoon.

We managed to wrestle Stacy into giving us a peek into his life as a children's book illustrator. I'm always fascinated with the technique side of things so a few of those questions are included.

Stacy, What is your favorite part of the illustration process?

There are two parts I love best.
I love designing characters. Whether it's a picture book, a magazine cover, a spot illustration, etc., creating new characters is fun. Sometimes I can draw three versions of a moose and one of those three sketches hits the nail on the head. Other times, I may have to draw 60 versions of a moose until I get something that works. Either way, it's an enjoyable process.

Secondly, I love moving from sketches and revisions to the final artwork stage. It gives me a chance to really do what I love, DRAW. I love to turn on some music in my studio, sit down to a nice sheet of watercolor paper and just dive in. Sometimes I'll look up and a whole day has gone by and I've got this really nice piece of work at the end of the day.

Do you have a favorite paper? If so, What makes it your favorite.

I've been doing a lot of work on Strathmore Gemini, Cold-Pressed, 140 lb. watercolor paper. It's what works for me right now, but I'm constantly experimenting with different papers and paints.

How detailed are your roughs when you send them in for the first time?

Only as detailed as they need to be for the client. I don't want them too detailed because I don't want to trace my pencil lines. I like for them to be guides and not dictate the exact spot where the ink has to go. It helps keep my lines loose.

Here is a rough from "The 7 Habits of Happy Kids."

How do you know when the piece is "done"?

When my hand hurts.
That's a lesson I've had to learn by doing the work. You have to listen to your gut and know when to say, "It's finished."
There's nothing worse than ending up with a drawing you should have stopped three hours ago.
That used to happen to me quite a bit.

You style is unique to me. Which artists helped inspire you to go in that direction?

As a kid, I would study the comics pages, editorial cartoons and try to imitate the work that I liked best....cartoonists such as Jim Borgman, Jeff MacNelly, Bill Watterson, Mike Peters and Dr. Seuss. As time went by, I started to keep those influences at a distance and I started to feel my own style develop.

When it came to watercoloring my linework, I really didn't have an influence as far as other artists go, I just did what felt right against my linework. Once I did that, I really felt my artwork became something that was mine.

My style has transformed from being influenced by other artists towards being influenced by things. Most times, I carry a sketchbook and/or my camera to capture things I see while I'm taking a walk, go to a new place or whatever. These things eventually end up in my drawings. It really has made my artwork take on a personal element.

Did you draw upon any influences for "The 7 Habits of Happy Kids"?

Not at all. From day one, I felt like this was the project I had been waiting for. Everything about this project just screamed my name, I love drawing animals and outdoor scenes. Some of the Seven Oaks characters of "The 7 Habits of Happy Kids" have been living in my sketchbooks for decades. They were just in there waiting for their chance to be in a project.

When faced with a big project on a tight deadline, how do you deal with managing your time in regards to family, eating well, exercising, etc?

Have you been talking to my wife and my doctor?
Balancing family time for me is easy, because I have no children. My wife and I have made adaptations to accomodate those times when a project has a tight deadline. I moved a small drawing table into our living room, so when I need to work outside my normal work schedule, I can draw while also spending time with my wife and pooch.
As far as health concerns go, that's a totally different story.
One thing we as artists have to acknowledge is that we sit stationery at our drawing tables for long periods of time. Exercise is probably the first thing to drop off our schedule.
It happened to me and after a couple of health scares, I was forced to make exercise a priority in my daily schedule.
You can't draw if you're dead.

How do you manage your workflow? Do you draw everything and then paint, or... ?

Depends on the project, but most of the time, I will draw everything first to keep the linework consistent and then I will paint everything to keep the colors consistent.

What do you think is most important for maintaining a good working relationship with your clients?

If you aren't making a client happy, you probably won't get work from them again.
I think what makes a client happiest is when you re-affirm their choice of hiring you for a project by turning your artwork in on time and try to wow them with the quality of your work.

What do see as the respective advantages/disadvantages of working with digital and traditional mediums?

Making a revision on a digital file: EASY. Making a revision on a final watercolor painting: NOT SO MUCH.
I do love having the option of UNDO, when I'm working digitally.

With traditional mediums, you'll always have an original piece of artwork at the end of the day.
I painted over 130 pieces of artwork for "The 7 Habits of Happy Kids" book and nothing I can do digitally will ever stack up to being able to hold all those paintings in my hands. That's one of the few reasons I haven't switched over to creating digital drawings.

What children's book character do you most identify with?

Is Charlie Brown a children's book character?
I am Sam. I do not like Green Eggs and Ham.

What will we be seeing from you in the near future?

In mid-October, there is another Raymond and Graham chapter book coming out called "Dancing Dudes."
And there's another picture book in my schedule.

Thanks, Stacy! Just awesome!

Sunday, October 5, 2008


This was a fun promo piece to do. It didn't turn out quite like I expected, but then that is a regular thing for me.  Painted on Strathmore Imperial 500 with pencil for the highlights and a touch of acrylic white in spots. 

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Grubbs Website

The Grubbs website is now live (mostly). Grubbs #1 is available in B&W as a free downloadable PDF. Let me know whatcha think!

Friday, October 3, 2008

What Artists are Saying About Orphan Works Act

Illustration work allows me to provide for my family; teaching allows me to give back to the community. My belief in stewardship brings me to the Orphaned Work Bills. This legislation strikes at the core of what we are as illustrators, how we do our business and why we chose to be illustrators.”

– CF Payne, Artist

"I fought for the rights of Superman's creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster. Others made millions while Superman's creators lived in near poverty. Jerry was a clerk and Joe was a legally blind man who lived in his brother's apartment, slept on a cot and worked as a messenger.

"I met and fought for their small remaining rights when they both turned only 60 years old...The battle took months and the settlement was meager, but it let the men live the remaining years of their lives with dignity.

"You know what they cared about most? They cared about having their names once again associated with their character, Superman! Why? Because it was what they were as people. They were their work. Why do we have copyright law? Because we wish to protect people and their creations, even if they are 'hard to locate.'"

-- Neal Adams, Artist

“In 2006, I registered 58,731 images, and in 2007, 71,919 images. If a registry charged $0.50 per image to submit and process, I would have to pay $29,365.50 to protect my 2006 images, and $35,959.50 to protect my 2007 images, for just those years."

Testimony Concerning How the Proposed Orphan Works Bill Will Economically Impact Photographers, by John Harrington, Professional Photographer


Note: The Graphic Artists Guild has given up, choosing to actively support the lesser of two evils, and likewise is encouraging creators to quit fighting the issue. As far as I can tell, this does not represent the wishes of their members or other groups.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Drawing Board

Just a snapshot of the drawing board, with some quick drawings during the day to break from the tablet pc.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cool Home-Office Toys You Can Write Off

Maryann, a home-based Web site administrator in Virginia, owns 11 computers: five desktop models in the formal office area, another in the basement, a laptop by her bed, another in the den, two more in the dining room and one in her purse.

"It's a veritable showroom," she says. Coming soon: a notebook for the sunroom.

It's not that Maryann and her husband--who have been running the business since 1999 and who chose not to reveal their real names--have a compulsive computer-buying disorder. They want the tax deductions.

"At the end of each December, my husband and I look around and say, 'We haven't spent enough yet,' " she says. "Then we run out and buy things or do renovations. Of course, we keep detailed receipts. We save about $25,000 a year this way."

It's not just computers. The couple's list of work-related write-offs has included an office massage chair, a Kindle (Amazon's e-book reader) and even a mini refrigerator in the shape of R2-D2, the famously chirpy Star Wars droid. Are all of those items truly worthy of a write-off?

Ka-Blam Digital Printing

I needed to make some good quality hard copies of the first Grubbs comic book. I had run across a POD (print on demand) printer called Ka-Blam that specializes in comics. Believe it or not, it cost less to have a few full-color comics printed than it would have cost to have laser prints done at a copy shop... in this case, just a tad over $3 a book.
This is great for printing out a good quality dummy to proof before going to print, or for just printing up a short run if you're not ready to have a couple thousand copies printed up. And the cost is less than $2 per book (for 32 pages) if the interior is black and white, making it affordable if you want to print up a few dozen and sell them yourself.

The quality is pretty darn good, and Ka-Blam met their turnaround deadline, and actually got it to me a couple days early. Based on this experience, I would recommend them to anyone who is considering a short print run.

The colors are a little off, because for some reason they require the files be RGB rather than CMYK. They say this is to make the pages more vivid with bright colors, which is understandable, but converting to RGB might require going in and doing a little color tweaking before delivering the files. The color quality is great; it's just that colors change when you convert from CMYK to RGB, and I didn't do any tweaking.

Overall, though, the books look like "real comic books" as my kids said. The paper is nice and one could confidently sell these to readers. It's also an efficient way to make sure everything looks right before sending things to the printer.

I think it is also a great resource for kids who are creating their own comic books. This service is easily affordable and blows Lulu out of the water. Kids can make their own "real" comic books and sell them to their friends.

To find out more, check out Ka-Blam's website.

Orphan Works Copyright Law Dead (For Now)


'Orphan Works' Copyright Law Dies Quiet Death
By David Kravets September 30, 2008 | 5:50:25 PMCategories: Intellectual Property
Lost in the House of Representatives' push to pass $700 billion bailout legislation is the so-called Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008.
Late Friday, the Senate passed the measure and sent it to the House, where it landed dead on arrival.
The act changes the rules and reduces and sometimes nullifies damages for infringing uses of so-called "orphaned" works as long as there was a "diligent" effort to locate the copyright owner. Orphaned creative works are those in which the copyright holder cannot be promptly located.
Lobbyists have assured Threat Level that the House, which is mired in trying to broker an economic revival package, won't take up the measure, at least not until after the November elections.
Dozens of copyright groups opposed the measure, saying it encourages infringement. Copyright expert Lawrence Lessig was against it as well. He said the bill was too vague when it comes to defining how "diligent" of an effort is required to locate a copyright owner before a work is infringed upon.
Digital rights groups like Public Knowledge hailed the measure. The group said "it would restore much needed balance to copyright law."


URGENT: Contact your Representative to oppose S. 2913

Take Action! S. 2913 passed Senate Friday- tell the House to vote NO!

The Senate passed S. 2913 –The Shawn Bentley (Yes, Shawn Bentley the lobbyist) Orphan Works Act of 2008- by “hotline” on Friday, September 26, 2008.

(Hotlining is how most bills now become law. They are not voted on but set into a process of automatically becoming a law unless a Congressperson dissents and says, Hey, we would like to discuss this bill first. Which is rare. And do you think Congress was focusing their attention on something else last Friday? Schoolhouse Rock was wrong! -- Ted)

Representative Berman still intends to release the mark-up of his bill, HR 5889. Either the House version of Orphan Works legislation, H.R. 5889, or the Senate version will become law. There are no other possible outcomes. The Guild continues to support Rep. Berman’s House bill. The Graphic Artists Guild is urging all members and other artists to support H.R. 5889, because the bill includes a Notice of Use provision that includes a procedural “speed bump” for potential infringers. The Guild and other visual creators' organizations have fought for inclusion of the Notice of Use and other clauses in Orphan Works legislation. The Notice of Use stipulation requires users to file their intent of using a suspected orphan work prior to use in an archive maintained by the US Copyright Office or other sanctioned entity.
The Notice of Use clause is a non-negotiable and vital provision to provide artists some protection in the future. The Graphic Artist Guild will not support any legislation that does not have this key protection. The Guild urgently encourages artists to join us in our effort to ensure House lawmakers pass H.R. 5889 as it's currently drafted with the Notice of Use provision.

Members of the American Library Association are urging the House to adopt the Senate bill. We must counter their messages! We have provided a letter for you to your Representative in the House through our Capwiz portal. Please act now!

To use this letter-writing portal, enter your zip code and click on "GO" for a sample letter to use. You may also personalize your own letter. The letter will automatically be emailed to the US Senate. We recommend you also print out the letter and mail it.

Thank you for taking action!

Graphic Artists Guild