King Kirby Day 2012

Today would have been Jack Kirby's ninety-fifth birthday.

As I have for the past couple of years, I spent a little time today copying a panel drawn by Kirby that lodged in my visual imagination when I was a kid and never completely got dislodged.

Don't look at it too closely. My work really suffered from a combination of scale and tool choice: I was drawing this way too small for it to get inked well with my ready-to-hand combo of brush pen and medium-fine Rapidograph. The colors are pretty nice, though.

Why do I do this? The pictures still, after all these years, have an eerie power for me, most of which comes (I think) from the seriousness with which I studied them when I was little.

Suppose you're walking in a ruined theater, where no one has set foot for twenty years. There's a little old upright piano in the dusty backstage wings, and out of curiosity you plink out a chord. The notes are hollow, weak, and a little sour, but you have to be impressed that they still play.

That's the way it is for me with these pictures. I think I would recognize that "organic director" in any context, even though Kirby only drew it once. (Lightray refashions it into something less horrible before we get another clear look at it.)

This year, I invited a few of my friends to join me in my observances.

Scott Koblish drew a panel from Kirby's run on Captain America.

Check out Ben Towle's Lockjaw pinup.

And dig Damien's Mark Moonrider.

I didn't have to invite Bully to commemorate the occasion, of course. He did it all on his own.

Ditto, Adam Koford, natch.

And Evan Dorkin? Nuff said.

Kitchen Time!

A little interior fun.

Cup O' Doodle Submission

Today I was lucky enough to be invited to join a super awesome blog called "Cup O' Doodle". It is a great project and a super fun way to get inspiration, this was my first piece for the blog. Hope you enjoy! The blog can be found here....

House Concept

I would like to own this...soon maybe? I've noticed a significant decline in blogger traffic lately, if some of you out there prefer to get your art updates via facebook..please feel free to "like" my facebook page!


I just had a truly astounding experience with Apple tech support.

I called with a Mac OS question; I won't bore you with the details. I had been scouring the internet for hours trying to find answers to this question, wasn't finding anything, so I finally resorted to calling in. I had never talked to Apple tech support before, but I naturally assumed that I would be speaking to a highly trained expert on Apple products who would know the ins and outs of all the software and be able to quickly direct my ignorant layman ass to the answers.

But it turns out--I'm still trying to wrap my head around this--their tech support is just a guy.

It's literally just...a guy. A regular guy like me, who doesn't know any more about Apple products than I do, digging through websites and public forums for tips from other regular guys!

He has no special training. There's no Apple Knowledge Cube for him to consult. It's just him and I on the phone, scouring the internet, finding the answers TOGETHER.

Isn't that wondrous?

This was our conversation, lightly paraphrased:

ME: Here's what I'm trying to do... [I explain my problem]

GUY: Ok, I have no idea what you're talking about but I'll be happy to help you with it. Let me just look up whatever you just said on Google...

ME: Wait...Google? Don't you like...know stuff?

GUY: Ok, I found something. I'm sending you a link to this article called [how to do something completely unrelated to my problem]

ME: Well, that doesn't really sound like it's related to my problem but you're an expert...right?

GUY: Now, follow all the steps listed in this article from some random dude's blog that I just found on the internet, essentially hacking Mac OS and reprogramming it from scratch.

ME: Wow, this is really complicated for a feature described as "automatic" on the big bright Apple homepage. Ok, I'll try it... Ok, that didn't work. And also, this doesn't seem to be related to the problem I described at all.

GUY: Really? Are you sure?

ME: Yeah, it says right in the title. It's...totally something else.

GUY: Really? Darn! (he really says "darn") Sorry I made you learn Pascal and reprogram the OS for nothing. Well, let me just browse a few more Tumblr posts from 2008 for information...

ME: Hey, is there maybe like a Mac OS expert I could talk to who would already know how to do this through actual knowledge and expertise? Like, in his actual brain?

GUY: (sounding hurt) Well...yes, I guess I could patch you through to a senior representative...

ME: Yes! Senior sounds good. Do that please, thanks.

[He puts me on hold to speak to the senior representative. After about 5 minutes, he comes back on]

GUY: Hey, while I was waiting for the senior rep, I found something new that might solve the problem...

ME: Oh really? Well that's great.

GUY: Yeah, so try this. Go ahead and [do the exact same process he just had me do.]

ME: Wait, I'm...are you serious? That's the exact thing we just did...

HIM: It is? Are you sure you [did the thing I totally just did]?

ME: Yeah, I...I can't tell if you're being serious right now. But that's the exact process I just went through, step by step, live on the phone with you.

HIM: Really? Darn! (he really says this) Ok, well let me put you back on hold.

[Finally, the Senior Representative answers. He sounds sharp and competent. I feel like my ordeal might finally be over.]

SENIOR: Hi, what seems to be the problem?

ME: [I explain what I'm trying to do]

SENIOR: Oh, that's not a problem, that's just how the OS works. There's no way you can do what you're trying to do, despite all the ads for the OS that totally, explicitly say you can do what you're trying to do.

ME: Really?

SENIOR: I'm afraid so. Also, fuck you.

ME: Darn...

Alphadonjon: N is for Narboni

This week's Alphabooks Dungeon entry is pretty much my only option, but I think he's pretty cool.

N is for Narboni. He seems to be an undead rabbit wizard. He wears a cassock and sandals, and his forearms are skeletal.

Narboni lives for the first seven pages of the first story in Vol. 1 of Dungeon: Monstres. He's one of the crew of monsters that William Delacour encounters, including John-John, then cons into accompanying him to locate the Dungeon. We haven't seen the last of this crew of monsters; not hardly. I think the only one of them that I won't be drawing is Metacarpus, the one-eyed zombie pirate cat with hooks for both hands.

Anyway, Narboni meets an untimely end (decapitated and then burned, since his severed head is still trying to cast a spell) before we can get to know him very well. I'm not even a hundred percent sure that he's supposed to be a rabbit.

The pose is a little awkward, but I wanted to make sure I showed off his free-bone forearms and his sandals.

I had a slightly different version, but then I tweaked the shadows a little bit. Probably the tweak is not even noticeable. I had a hard time figuring what color the shadows cast by eerie green Ditko magic would be.

What I meant when I said Narboni was almost my only option is that there really aren't many Dungeon characters whose names start with N. And this is just going to get worse in three or four weeks. I'm planning to cheat just a little bit when that time comes. You'll forgive me, won't you?

Next week: a sultry dragon lady and a chicken-octopus ninja.

Alphabooksbeasts: N is for Nagaina and Nag

Well, don't look too closely at this week's Alphabooks entry. I'm not very happy with it, and I'd draw it over again if I had time, but I've been preoccupied with other stuff.

So this is supposed to be N is for Nagaina (and Nag). They are, as you may remember, the mated pair of cobras who threaten the household in Kipling's "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" (in The Jungle Book). Nag is killed by a shotgun blast while fighting the eponymous mongoose, and Nagaina swears her revenge.

Cobras are cool-looking creatures, as we all know. Doing my image-searching for this post, I discovered that people do some pretty strange things with cobras.

Next week: a canine or two.

Kickstart Some Postcards!

Have I mentioned that I'm running a Kickstarter campaign, trying to finance the publication of some postcards based on last year's Animal Alphabet project?

This is what one of the postcards is going to look like, featuring Ben Towle's "O is for Ostrich" and Rich Barrett's "O is for Octopus."

It's going well already. The project has enough backers that I am surely going to take the postcards to the press. I mention it here in case it's news to you, because if I get enough support I'll be able to publish the postcards in a larger edition and more nicely.

Arthurian Alphabooks: M is for Morgawse

My belated contribution to the Arthurian alphabet for M is the lady Morgawse, who, in Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur, is the wife and later widow of King Lot of Orkney; half-sister and lover to a young King Arthur; ill-fated paramour of Sir Lamorak; mother, by Lot, of Sir Gawain and his brothers Aggravain, Gaherys, and Gareth; and mother, by Arthur, of Mordred.

If the names Lot, Lamorak, and Mordred mean anything to you, you appreciate the trouble that this woman finds herself in (and participates in or contributes to herself, whether wittingly or otherwise). She's pretty enigmatic because she remains only faintly drawn by Malory: the occasion of great desire in others—at one point Lamorak is overheard lamenting aloud about the emotional anguish his love for Morgawse causes him—she never gives voice to her own desires. But given her sexual history—which includes a long liaison with the son of a man whom her late husband's sons believe to have slain their father during Lot's war against her half-brother Arthur—I think it's fair to assume that she had rather strong feelings and desires of her own.

She also pays for her desire in one of the most shocking and brutal scenes in all of Malory (and that's saying something). Malory's narration of that scene includes wickedly painful details delivered in a laconic style that makes their hurt seem worse than a more empurpled prose would have done, and there's some astonishing dialogue, too.

For this drawing, I took a new tack to the preparatory phase, doodling quick rough sketches on a magnetic doodle pad that belongs to my daughter. You know, like the one Isaac used here. A pretty efficient medium for trying out visual ideas, actually!


I feel like I'm dreaming.
I mean it when I say I was looking forward to either option.
Just was excited to know which it was.
I know I know...I've been saying I wanted to be surprised.
Which was also the truth.
But when Isaac and I decided against it for a few reasons...I'll admit I may have lost sleep due to my excitment.
I half way was thinking it was a boy. But at the same time after having Reagan it is hard to believe that my body isn't programed for just one gender. 

The ultrasound tech did not leave us anxiously waiting for long. 
She dove right in. 
When she showed us what makes him and him, we were happily in shock.
Neither of us knew how to wipe the smiles off our faces.
Subconsciously we were both happily remembering how fun a girl is... It just seemed unreal to plan on a boy after having a girl.  
But man, little man...we SURE love you.
And might I add. Look at that profile. What a stud!

:|: Ultrasound profile pic
:|: His first little outfit
:|: Can't wait to take a similar picture (Picture from Boden Clothing)

Making Memories

Mom and Reag Sundays 

Rigby Lake

 Golfing with Dad

Weeks like these make me the happiest.
We did things, that cost little money, while still making memories.
Monday was Rigby Lake. Which has been truly under appreciated people.
Yesterday Isaac invited us girls to go golfing with him and hang out in a golf cart.
So glad we did.
Beautiful scenry
Perfect weather
And one haaaappy baby girl.
She loved it.

Arthurian Alphabooks: L is for Lancelot, late [hors série]

My drawing for L—an obvious choice of Sir Lancelot—is over a week late, and my M drawing is not even begun; so my apologies to Isaac for mucking up the blog's alphabetical continuity, though he can attest that I did draw my original attempts at Lancelot several days before the deadline. Too bad they were L for lousy—so unsatisfactory that I took a while to come up with an alternative, and in doing so I broke one of my own unofficial constraints for this project, so the image above is presented hors série. It's a cartoony version of Lancelot as portrayed by John Cleese in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (on my DVD copy of MP&HG, which begins with an abortive short about dentistry, the pose crops up about 22:09 into the film, with Lancelot toward the left of the screen as part of Arthur's retinue shortly before they are accosted by God Almighty).

The rules I'm breaking here have to do with my interest through this project to discover what images of Arthurian characters I may harbor that are not consciously derived from specific prior visual interpretations—other artists' drawings or actors' faces, mostly. Where possible, I've also tried to follow the visual cues provided textually in whatever single work of Arthuriana I have taken as my reference for a given character, even in a given moment. (My first bad attempts at Lancelot were based on a description of the young man prior to his dubbing to knighthood—not yet the mature lover or seasoned fighter, but that's where the fullest physical description of him that I know of him could be found in the Old French Prose Lancelot.)

Here, I'm not only relying on someone else's image of Lancelot, but on an image born in a visual medium to begin with—no Arthurian book to speak of! (Unless, of course, one accepts "The Book of the Film" as a book; and it is glimpsed very shortly before the scene where I paused my DVD for the sketch. See also Isaac's earlier ripostes to the sort of pedantic literalism about Alphabooks that in part defines my book-centric approach.)

Incidentally, one of the current Alphabooks images—an M drawing—is also Arthurian, though it is of course not one of my drawings (it's by Axel Medellin, and I recommend his Achilles and his Illustrated Man, as well!). It's another obvious, even necessary choice—M is for Merlin—and I'm glad to see Merlin get some attention there since he will not be featured in my Arthurian alphabet here. And yet, the purist in me is a bit disappointed, because while the drawing is technically excellent, it is presented as a portrait of Merlin as featured in Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur—yet it shows him with an owl perched on his shoulder. Malory nowhere associates an owl with Merlin, whereas Merlin's familiar owl Archimedes is indeed familiar from the first part of T. H. White's The Once and Future King (and its Disney adaptation, The Sword in the Stone); indeed, the cover of my paperback edition of The Once and Future King prominently features an owl, probably Archimedes himself, swooping toward the famous sword while knights and ladies are relegated to the background. (Meanwhile, for an Alphabooks drawing of Archimedes by Sarah Pittman, see here!)

For the record, I should note that I like Axel Medellin's image of a kind of catchall Merlin, drawing on a variety of widely recognized wizardy motifs; but I don't like seeing it presented as Malory's Merlin, whose appearance is a lot harder to pin down (since Malory never really describes Merlin outright, save when Merlin is disguised as someone other than himself!). Just compare Burne-Jones's famous painting The Beguiling of Merlin for an effective image where the wizard has no beard or staff or owl—but he does have the languid yet haunted expression of a man who is resigned to be buried alive because he is so "besotted" with love for Nimue/Ninian/Vivian.

(Then again, I may just be touchy about the Alphabooks image of Merlin because for a long time I had a professional interest in staying on top of the details of literary Arthuriana, and whether or not Merlin has a familiar owl seems to me like a matter of some importance. By contrast, it didn't at all bother me to see Axel Medellin's futuristic take on Homer's Achilles, and I don't think that's just because the artist copped to its being "a very, very free interpretation.")

Alphadonjon: M is for Marvin and Marvin the Red

For this week's Donjon Alphabooks entry, I am blessed with a double-barrel dose of warrior-sidekick awesomeness. M has got to be for Marvin and Marvin.

Although they are currently unarmed, they're ready for trouble. Or perhaps for a truly awesome rap battle (probably facing off against the Ill Lithids).

Marvin (the Dragon) is really one of the main characters in the whole course of Dungeon. He's Herbert's mentor and best friend in the Zenith stories, and under the alias of the Dust King, he is one of the heroes of the the Twilight volumes. He has a terrific blend of honor and pragmatism, of mischief and solidity, of wisdom and insecurity. He might really be the most interesting character in the whole series, not least because of the terrible sacrifices he makes between Zenith and Twilight.

Plus, he has a very metal wardrobe, doesn't he? For pants he wears a skull on chains as a codpiece. (Actually, he has several different outfits; this is the one from the very first volume, Duck Heart.)

Marvin the Red (a sort of demon rabbit) is, more or less, the Dust King's troublemaker sidekick in the Twilight volumes of Dungeon. He's a dangerous warrior in his own right, but he's impetuous, overconfident, and selfish. So in fact, like Hyacinthe and Herbert, these two wind up knowing each other well, but not when they're the ages they have in this image.

Well, if you're interested, here are my notes. It took me some work to figure out some good "fight-ready" poses, and I think these notes are hampered by the size of the scratch paper I was using.

And hey, we're halfway through the alphabet!

Next week: oh, just your average zombie wizard.

Alphabooksbeasts: M is for Moby-Dick

I've already drawn the Futurama analogue of this guy (in 3-D, no less), so let's say that for this week's Alphabooks M is for Moby-Dick.

It's hard to capture the size and sublimity of Moby-Dick in a cartoon drawing on a computer screen (or in a book). In fact, I have an essay in my head somewhere about the difficulties of translating Moby-Dick into comics, and one of the insurmountable problems has to be the intimate scale of the images in a handheld comics page. Really Moby-Dick needs to be cartooned on the scale of Guernica or the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Anyway, I thought one approach to the problem would be to show as little of the whale as possible. There's also a lot of talk about the blankness of his whiteness, and the way that people therefore project meaning onto it. I thought it'd be fun to make as much use as I could of the blankness of the computer screen, too.

You can tell me whether you think that's effective. I will acknowledge that I ripped off the composition, in part, from a painting that Scott McCloud brings up tangentially in Understanding Comics.
And I have another image for you.

I once visited Arrowhead, Melville's home in the Berkshires, where I was told that, in the winter, from the window of his study, Mt. Greylock looked like a white whale. It seemed implausible to me. But I figure that if you have whales on your mind, over time almost anything will start to look like a whale.

Like, for example, this cloud I spotted earlier this summer.

Maybe it'll help if I show you what I mean.

Is it just me? Have I started seeing whales?

(Really I think that cloud looks more like a bowhead whale than a sperm whale, but I swear that before I got my phone ready to take the picture it was a much better Moby-Dick likeness.)

You know Moby-Dick's not really supposed to be uniformly white, right? He's sort of marbled.

Next week: a married couple you wouldn't invite to a dinner party.

Frazetta Sketches

Some initial sketches for my piece in an upcoming Frank Frazetta exhibition. I'm finishing up the final thing this weekend.

Zombies Young and Old

A lot of you folks have been complaining about how "clean" Nicholas Hoult looks as R the zombie in the upcoming genre-bending horroromcom "Warm Bodies". You point to pictures of his veiny, black-lipped visage and declare "This is not what a zombie looks like!" You then point to pictures of oozing, desiccated lumps of maggoty flesh and declare, "This is what a zombie looks like!"



I think you may be confused about how decomposition works. In order to help you understand this process, I'd like you to do a little experiment with me. Are you ready? Okay.

First, kill yourself.

Now, look in the mirror. Are your lips rotted completely off? Do you have yellow pus seeping out of your eye sockets? Are you missing the lower half of your body?

No. You still look pretty normal, right?

Ok, now let yourself rot for a week and look again.

Are your guts pouring out of your stomach yet? Or are you just looking a little pale? If you happen to be a handsome young Englishman with excellent bone structure, perhaps you look a little like Nicholas Hoult in the upcoming satirical zombie drama, "Warm Bodies". Lucky you!

Okay, now continue to rot for about a month. Your hair should be starting to fall out by now and you probably have some nasty stuff happening on your skin. Are you starting to look a little more like a "REAL" zombie now? Good! You just demonstrated some of the different stages of human decomposition. It's a shame you aren't imbued with the unknown mystical forces that cause a corpse to rise up and continue living as a fictional undead creature, because then maybe you'd be a little better preserved and possibly even handsome. But oh well! At least you learned something.


My newest love

18 weeks little love!
I've enjoyed growing you.
Well...the sickness wasn't my favorite. 
BUT I'd do it all my life to bring you into this world.
I'm already so sure of my love for you.
Can't wait to kiss you.
However, do take your time and grow big and strong.
That would be best.

love mom

3 years of awesomeness

Goodness handsome man, where to begin?
It's been a while. 3 years of marriage, and many more dating.
It's amazing how, just plain ole' good we are for each other.
I get married knowing, without a doubt, that you adore each other.
But it really has surprised me how I love you more and more every day.
We have learned lots.
And still have lots to learn.
I'm excited to grow together. 
This first year of Reagan's life has taught us exactly what joy is. 
Nothing has ever been better than starting our family together.
Let's keep each other.
I sure love you.
forever and ever babe!

your wife