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.

Jim Bachus Draws Mr. Magoo

Here's a fun little autograph of Jim Bachus, the famous voice behind the animated Mr. Magoo cartoons.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Peanuts Ice Sculpture

In commemoration of the last Peanuts strip, Charles Schulz's hometown had this ice sculpture made. When Schulz died the day before his last Sunday strip ran, it became a memorial for fans and admirers who left flowers and notes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Popeye Original

Elzie Segar drew Thimble Theater for ten years before he introduced a minor character called Popeye. The reader reaction was so intense that Segar had to scramble to make Popeye a regular character in the strip, where he soon became the star.

This original Popeye comic strip came out in 1938, the year Segar died. After Segar's death, the strip was continued by Bud Sagendorf and various assistants. Hy Eisman currently draws the Popeye comic strip.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Picture Book Dummy

A sketch for the Jump! picture book dummy. The model is my awesome daughter. Aside from this shot, "posing" is not quite the right word when modeling for a book called "Jump!"
Drawn in Photoshop on tablet PC.


are hard to draw. For me, anyway. Anything furry is hard to draw. This is a hamster. Not to be confused with a "hampster," the furry little creatures that dance en mass to a really annoying, catchy ditty called The Hampster Dance.
What's even more annoying is that someone was able to build a business from that silly little website. What makes it tolerable is that it probably would occupy my kids for an hour while I got some work done.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Value study

It's a little tricky, for me, to get proper values & contrast when working in color. I'm essentially a lazy artist, but have been making an effort to work out more problems like this ahead of time. This is for a picture book proposal (Jump).

Carl Anderson's Henry

If you've been around long enough to have seen the Liberty Bell when it was on tour, you probably are familiar with the comic strip Henry. Henry is the other little bald-headed boy, who for decades never uttered a word. The strip was created by Carl Anderson and became popular world-wide due to using the universal language of pictures.

An interesting note about Anderson, which might or might not be encouraging to cartoonists seeking syndication, is that he was 69 years old when Hearst signed up Henry with King Features.

Anderson was born the year Lincoln was assassinated. He began his career illustrating fashions and was a freelance cartoonist up until the Depression. In 1933 he sold a Henry cartoon to the Saturday Evening Post, where it became a regular feature. In 1934 Henry was in fifty newspapers which, at the time, enabled a cartoonist to make a very nice living (and still does today, if one lives with his parents). Assistants have carried the strip through from before his death in 1948 until 2005.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How To Draw With Tom Gammill

Tom Gammill, creator of the comic strip The Doozies, was nice enough to send me this nifty Doozies T-shirt. Thanks, Tom!

If you haven't seen Tom's How to Draw series of videos, you're missing out. They're a blast, and the most refreshing and original thing I've seen in the comics field in years. Tom is, in the best possible sense, a great comic strip character himself.

The most recent How to Draw video, Number 23, features a visit with veteran cartoonist Mell Lazarus (Momma, Miss Peach) and his amazing baby grand piano, covered with drawings by dozens of comic strip cartoonists.

Tom is an award-winning writer for The Simpsons and Seinfeld.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


A little promo drawing, done in Photoshop.

John Howe Original

If you're a fan of John Howe, you may be interested in one of his paintings up for auction on ebay. Howe was a concept artist for the Lord of the Rings movies and has illustrated many fantasy-themed projects.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Casper in The Mysterious Zooky

More original Casper pages by Warren Kremer.

Watch Casper cartoons here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Another try at massaging the gorilla.

I think that some of the inherent humor of a previous drawing with him in the office is now missing. I sure do like sketching a big jungle though. -W.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Warren Kremer - Stumbo

The name Warren Kremer should be as well-known as Charles Schulz or Carl Barks, and would be, if Harvey Comics had given their artists credit. Kremer designed Casper, Richie Rich, and his own creation, Stumbo. He drew every Harvey cover for something like 35 years. His wife, Grace, was the comics page letterer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Between Friends on Display

Sandra Bell-Lundy, one of my favorite cartoonists, will have her work featured in an exhibit this month.

Sandra is the creator of Between Friends. Her work will be exhibited through Visual Arts Brampton at Artway Gallery in Ontario, and she'll be speaking on November 14.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Sparky Gives Charlotte Braun the Ax

Berenstain Bears Heading for Big Screen

TORONTO The Berenstain Bears are headed to the big screen in a live-action version of the beloved book series.

The L.A.-based Walden Media, behind such children's films as the Chronicles of Narnia series and Charlotte's Web, says it's acquiring the film rights.

It's teaming up with Toronto-based Nelvana Ltd., which produced the animated "Berenstain Bears" television series, and Montreal filmmaker Shawn Levy, who directed and produced the "Night At the Museum" films.

Walden says the movie version will feature live action mixed with computer-generated characters.

Illustrators Jan and Stan Berenstain created the family of comical bears in 1962 for their sons, Mike and Leo.

Mike Berenstain says he and his mother are delighted by the film plans and adds that his father, Stan, who passed away in 2005, would have been "tickled pink that his very own bears were going to be in the movies."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Peter Reynolds Finalist for Entrepreneur of 2009

Peter Reynolds is a finalist for Entrepreneur Magazine's Entrepreneur of 2009. Peter and his brother Paul developed FableVision, a multi-media company dedicated to help teach and inspire a child to reach his or her potential. Peter is the celebrated author/illustrator of The Dot, Ish and other books for children.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NaNoWriMo Inner Editor

My wife and kids are participating in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month for short. There's a special NaNoWriMo for Young Writers, and they have a great downloadable workbook.

Sunday I took the kids to the coffee shop and we started going through the workbook over donuts.

The first section deals with one's Inner Editor. You know who that is... that little guy who keeps nitpicking, keeping you from starting or finishing a story. While writing a novel this month, we're told to totally ignore our Inner Editor.

I don't know about the adults, but the kids workbook asks them to draw a picture of their Inner Editor. My 8-year-old daughter's Inner Editor looked happy, hip and cool. Not much of a conflict for her. My ten-year-old son's Inner Editor looked a little dark and wore suspicious-looking sunglasses.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd scribble out my own Inner Editor on a napkin. I left it at the coffee shop but redrew it for my wife later that evening. This, folks, is my Inner Editor. And I'm being extremely generous in this graphic depiction:

He is a close relative of my Inner Art Director.

Obviously, I have some issues to deal with with which I must deal.

Kid in a room putting his shirt on.

Frantic GIFs

This project brings an interesting life to old photographs taken before the invention of the moving picture.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Scotty Ingram

Ever wonder what it was like spending time posing for Norman Rockwell? Scotty Ingram can tell you all about it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Missing Peanuts Reproduction

Last year I tried my hand at reproducing one of my favorite Peanuts comic strips. Some time after, it came up missing. I don't like to think the cable repair guy or the heating & air dudes took it, but it's gone. It's possible I misplaced it but I'm pretty sure I had it taped up on my studio wall, and it's hard to misplace something that's two feet wide. At any rate, it's gone. If you see it around anywhere, let me know. To differentiate it from the original, I switched the first two panels, drew it on Crescent board and left it unsigned.

Hallowe'en Costumes

Here are the kids after their transformation on All Hallow's Eve, preparing for an incredible sugar rush. The costumes were awesomely made by my wife and ably assisted by the respective costume recipients.