Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wonder Woman

I was reading about how J. Michael Straczynski is going to be re-inventing (yet again) Wonder Woman for DC Comics, with Jim Lee redesigning the costume. Frankly, I think the best Wonder Woman we've seen in decades came from Darwin Cooke in The New Frontier. (I thought it was great that Cooke made her taller than Superman.) I get a little tired of Adam Hughes' et alia cheesecake drawings of Wonder Woman.

I thought I'd work up something representing the 1940s Amazonian princess. It's an Unfinished Work-in-Progress, mostly because I always reach a point where I don't know how to finish a painting. I reckon someday I'll take some classes. This was painted in ArtRage2 and I used Francis Gifford as a reference.

I touched it up a little bit. It had looked like she had a sunburn.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Kids today tend to think that Manga is this new comics thing that's special to their generation. Well, I guess most grown-ups do, too.

Chip Kidd found these Japanese Bat-man comics a couple years ago and published a collection. They were illustrated in the Sixties by Jiro Kuwata.

Do the Krypton Crawl!

Let's see... It was the "Awesome Eighties," the "Swinging Seventies," and... what were the Sixties again?

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Crogan Adventure

Chris Schweizer has posted a Crogan Adventures story from his Free Comic Book Day offering. It's an awesome read and an excellent, excellent lesson in sequential art. He has other comics posted online as well.
If you haven't read Chris's graphic novel series of the Crogan Adventures, you're missing out. Chris is a great visual storyteller.

Nancy Drew, Tradition Slayer

This is almost as bad as making a Smurfs movie that takes place in New York City. At first I thought it was a parody, but discovered to my dismay it's real. Papercutz is actually publishing Nancy Drew, Vampire Slayer and Hardy Boys, Crawling With Zombies.
A pic of Nancy Drew touting a crossbow with a silver bolt is bad enough. I can't post an image of the Hardy Boys zombie cover because zombies give my kids nightmares.

I'll refrain from further judgment until I find out more about the books, but I'm not thrilled with the concept.

Dueling Banjo Pig in a Tree

Dueling Banjo Pigs Blog

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Joseph Messerli Passes

Sadly, Lee Messerli informed me that Joseph Messerli passed away this morning, June 23, 2010. He was born in Kingsville, Texas, in 1930.

Joe Messerli was a rare talent. Several days ago I wrote that someone should interview this interesting man, as his career spanned several important decades and venues in cartooning, animation and design. Mr. Messerli was one of the great unsung creative forces, a working man's cartoonist.

According to his website, Joe Messerli's career began as Charlie Plumb's assistant on the classic comic strip Ella Cinders. Throughout his mostly freelance career, he worked on a myriad of comic books. Messerli designed the iconic Twilight Zone logo and illustrated the famous Bonanza credits.

Joe Messerli attended the Chouinard Art Institute from 1954 to 1956, focusing on Fine Art, Advertising Art and Animation Art. He worked at UPA studios and the NBC Burbank Graphic Arts Department. At Cambria Studio, he worked on Clutch Cargo and other features.

Mr. Messerli worked on The Flinstones, Yogi Bear, Warner Brothers, Disney and Sesame Street characters, Dennis the Menace, Chip 'n Dale, Heathcliff, Darkwing Duck, and a plethora of other characters. He ghosted the work of four well-known artists, one being Clifford McBride on his Napoleon comic.

Patrick Owsley posted email that he swapped with Mr. Messerli about his work on The Flintstones comic strip.

Joe Messerli was part of the documentary and companion book Inside UPA and there's a write-up on the Cartoon Modern blog and Drawn!.

More detailed information about the projects Joe Messerli worked on can be found on his website.

Update: Joe Messerli writes in detail about designing the Twilight Zone logo while at UPA Studios.

Pin-up Pig

Stacy and Guy's Dueling Banjo Pigs is becoming something of a mild phenomenon. I'm attempting to bring it down a few notches with my next Banjo Pig.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

World's Smallest Comic Strip

I am in search of the World's Smallest Comic Strip published in a newspaper. I'm starting things off with the Greenville Journal. This Non Sequitur strip by Wiley Miller is 2 3/8" (6 cm) by 2 7/16" (6.2 cm). If it were in strip format, it would be 1 3/16" (3.1 cm) high by 4 3/4" (12 cm) wide.

If you know of a smaller one, please aid me in my quest and email me: spoonercomics-at-gmail-dot-com.

D.D. Degg passed this along:

The Modesto (CA) Bee prints The Family Circus as a one column panel on a six column-wide classifieds page. It measures 1 17/32" (3.9 cm) wide x 1 25/32" (4.6 cm) high. 

The same paper prints the Classic Peanuts (1963 version) measuring barely over an inch high and a hair over 5" wide.

Jan Eliot (Stone Soup) and Gary Trudeau (Doonesbury) have commented on the shrinking of newspaper comics:

Some reader comments from The Washington Post's Comic Riffs' question of whether the small size of comics deters folks from reading them:

With this last round of shrinkage on the WaPo comics pages, I have now been forced to give up my life-long habit of enjoying the funnies at the breakfast table, 

The comics are getting smaller?????? That's a relief. I thought I was going blind.

When Get Fuzzy is that small, I skip it because to much type in to small a space...very true of The San Antonio Express-News.

Yes, the comics in the Post, with the exception of Doonesbury, are now too small to enjoy.

Certainly the comics are too small. It does make me skip some and I had long been a reader of every strip on any comics page I've seen, even serials that I might only see while traveling and getting a paper that I don't regularly read.

It's important to note that being able to "read" a comic strip is not just about the words. If you look at today's Zits, in the 4 7/8 inch size now becoming common, you cannot "read" the art.

If I say "yes," will they change it?

* * * * * 
For what it's worth, I don't believe we're hearing the Death Knell of the newspaper comic strip. I think they'll be around till the end of time. What I do believe is that comic strips are being stifled and not allowed to do what they do best: Help sell newspapers.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Dragon in the Library Trailer

Dragon Keepers by Kate Klimo

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dueling Banjo Pigs

Stacy Curtis and Guy Francis might never learn to play the banjo, but they're fast becoming experts at drawing banjo-playing pigs. I felt compelled.
Update: Stacy and Guy have created a new blog that displays all the banjo-playing pigs.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pajama Pirates Trailer

Written by Andrew Kramer, illustrated by Leslie Lammle.

Interview Alert - Joseph Messerli

Somebody should probably interview cartoonist Joseph Messerli. Mr. Messerli started out as an assistant on the Ella Cinders comic strip, ghosted the Napoleon strip, designed the Twilight Zone logo, drew the Bonanza credits illustrations, worked on Dennis the Menace comic books, drew Hanna-Barbera comic books and that just seems to scratch the surface. Too often in this profession, the "creators" overshadow the Working Cartoonists when it comes to media attention. I would imagine Mr. Messerli has a few stories to tell.
Photo credit: Amid Amidi

Hector Alfonso Cartoons

I have no idea who Hector Alfonso was, but he was a brilliant cartoonist. The figures, composition and brushwork are awesome. There is an obvious similarity to Hank Ketcham. I would like to find out someday where that "Ketchum" style originated, because we also see it here and with Ketcham's early assistants, such as Al Wiseman.

If anyone knows more about him, or from what publication these appeared in, please let me know.

Click to Supersize

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Prospect Bear

A children's musical book in the works.

Friday, June 11, 2010

New Acquisition.

It was a hefty purchase, but if you can get one on Ebay I highly recommend it.

I set it on "autopaint" and the book was finished by the time I came back from a weekend in Cabo. We are, however, missing the family cat.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Painting from a printed sketch.

(My most current technique which seems to work for me.)

After the original sketch is approved I will print out a high-contrast version of it (sometimes bigger than the original sketch) I'll do this by simply printing it in sections with 8x14" copier paper.

I will then tape this on the back of my Strathmore imperial 500 140lb. watercolor paper and use a light table to trace it. It will look awkward once I pull it from the light table but then i just go in and erase and tighten it up to where it looks right.

That's how I'm transferring sketches to watercolor paper at the moment. I like to save the sketch just in case I blow something in the initial process of the painting and then I can trace it again.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Alex Toth Character Design

Alex Tōth was a cartoonist and animator probably best known for his work on Space Ghost.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tips From Leonardo

Make the shadow on figures correspond to the light and to the color of the body. When you draw a figure and you wish to see whether the shadow is the proper complement to the light, and neither redder nor more yellowish than in the nature of the color you wish to represent in shade, proceed thus. Cast a shadow with your finger on the illuminated portion, and if the accidental shadow that you have made is like the natural shadow cast by your finger on your work, well and good; and by putting your finger nearer or farther off, you can make darker or lighter shadows, which you must compaire with your own depiction.


A painter is not admirable unless he is universal. Some may distinctly assert that those persons are under a delusion who call that painter a good master who can do nothing well but a head or a figure. Certainly this is no great achievement; after studying one single thing for a lifetime who would not have attained some perfection in it? But, since we know that painting embraces and includes in itself every object produced by nature or resulting from the fortuitous actions of men, in short, all that the eye can see, he seems to me but a poor master who can only do a figure well.

For do you not perceive how many and various actions are performed by men only; how many different animals there are, as well as trees, plants, flowers, with many mountainous regions and plains, springs and rivers, cities with public and private buildings, machines, too, fit for the purposes of men, diverse costumes, decorations and arts? And all these things ought to be regarde as of equal importance and value, by the man who can be termed a good painter.


As regards the disposition of limbs in movement you will have to consider that when you wish to represent a man who, by some chance, has to turn backwards or to one side, you must not make him move his feet and all his limbs towards the side to which he turns his head. Rather must you make the action proceed by degrees and through the different joints; that is, those of the foot, the knee and the hip and the neck. And if you set him on the right leg, you must make the left knee bend inwards, and let his foot be slightly raised on the outside, and the left shoulder be somewhat lower than the right, while the nape of the neck is in a line directly over the outer ankle of the left foot.

And the left shoulder will be in a perpendicular line left above the toes of the right foot. And always set your figures so that the side to which the head turns is not the side to which the breast faces, since nature for our convenience has made us with a neck which bends with ease in many directions, the eyue wishing to turn to various points, the different joints. And if at any time you make a man sitting with his arms at work on something which is sideways to him, make the upper part of his body turn upon the hips.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Joe Murray Meets Fundraising Goal

Congrats to animator Joe Murray (Rocko's Modern Life, Camp Lazlo) for meeting his fundraising goal to start, a new venture to create "a home for quality, cutting edge cartoons and animation on the web, and a "free range" and ethical environment for the artists who make them." Murray raised funds through, a project-funding site.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Lite Brite Optical Illusion

My daughter discovered this optical illusion created by her Lite-Brite. It appears to magnify the tiny holes on the other side of the box. What causes this phenomenon? I'm guessing it's related to the way a rosette pattern is created when the dot patterns are angled improperly during the printing process. Any other guesses?

I just watched it again and I think the "magnified" dots stay the same size as I change distance from the Lite-Brite, but they appear to get larger due to the relative size of the box; the box appears to become smaller as I step away from it, but the dots don't, so the dots look larger in relation to the box. Does that make sense?
Rosette pattern

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Captain America Cover Rough

Awesome cover rough by the inimitable Marie Severin. I can't even make my finished art look as good as her roughs.

Although I'm a little curious about the elephant-eared guy...