Monday, December 31, 2007
Christmas card covers, 2004
Squibbill Christmas greetings
Digital color over scans of pencil drawings.
Each 5.50" x 4.25".
A set of three Christmas card designs for the 2004 holiday.
Featuring characters from my TAGS comic strip: Polly and Edie getting ready for the happiest season of all; Checkov and Nick are eager for some fun in the snow; Angel and Adam at one of many holiday feasts.
Christmas card covers, 2005
Squibbill Christmas Greetings.
Digital color over scan of pencil drawings.
Each 4.25" x 5.5".
I designed a series of four Christmas cards for 2005, featuring characters for TAGS:
Bingo, Emily, Monster, Polly and Penny.
Christmas greeting card fronts, 2006
Squibbill Christmas greetings.
Digital color over scans of black marker.
Each 4.25" x 5.5".
Last year, I designed a series of three Christmas cards, each featuring Monster, the company mascot.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
See here how "suits" are depicted as some sort of parental giants with Mickey Mouse gloves. Does it work? Well, it suits its purpose (no pun intended).
I think if I were to re-start TAGS now, I would either follow the Peanuts precedent and not show them at all, or I would just make them characters like Monster and the other TAGS players.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Here's a little project I've been working on and off and on for the past couple of months: re-sequencing the tracks of The Little Mermaid soundtrack in the order presented in the motion picture.
Why? - Because I'm just that way.
1. Fathoms Below
2. Main Titles
4. Daughters Of Triton
5. Flotsam And Jetsam
6. Part Of Your World
9. The Storm
10. Part Of Your World (Reprise)
11. Under The Sea
12. Sebastian And Triton (Final)
13. Destruction Of The Grotto
14. Poor Unfortunate Souls
15. Les Poissons
17. Tour Of The Kingdom
18. Kiss The Girl
19. Wedding Announcement
20. Eric To The Rescue
21. Happy Ending
Track 12 is from The Music Behind the Magic - The Little Mermaid, part of a four disc collection of demo and work recordings from Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's work on The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin.
To that I added various cover versions as bonus tracks.
Merrill Hagan, who I expect will have a new Tuff-Girl script to me VERY soon, got
mentioned on the Marvel site for his contribution to Marvel Comics Presents Spotlight: The Beginning. What's more, the good folks at Marvel listed "Tuff-Girl" as some of his recent work.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Digital color over scan of black Prisma Color pencil on paper.
This a drawing of the Maid of Might incorporating design features I liked from the Bruce Timm (Batman Adventures, Justice League Unlimited) television shows. After my days of drawing Disney's Mulan, I put a lot of "S" curves in my drawings. Timm seems to like the boldness of simple "C" curves.
The red jacket is borrowed from the Superboy (1993-2006) design introduced in the "Death of Superman" storyline. Clark on Smallville (2001-present) would also have a red jacket.
The most curious thing, I think, about this piece is the bird. Flying people are a staple of comic books, but the bird definitively says that this girl is flying.
"Happy Holidays with Tuff-Girl and Ruff," squibbill Christmas greetings, 2007
30.0 cm x 20.5 cm (12.25" x 8.375")
Carmine Red Colerase pencil on paper.
I rushed to make this year's Christmas card design. That I'm always looking for ways of marketing Tuff-Girl obviously served as the subject for this year's card.
In previous years, I had designed Christmas cards as sets of three or four. This meant that co-workers could receive different cards. The hand made greeting usually were simple double folded letter-sized sheets delivered in Baronial (5.75" x 4.375") envelopes. I hand-traced them initially, then I color photocopied them, then ink-jetted them at home.
This year, I'm giving them a more finished look by having them printed. I'm using the same company who I used to print the postcard advertisement of my Silver Comics/ Tuff-Girl book signing, Modern Postcard.
Designer at CN, Jay, recommended them to me. I was pretty happy with the postcard. I'm sure the Christmas card will turn out just as well.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
...and Wham! Three new characters suddenly introduced to the strip, not one of which ever having before appeared or been mentioned in TAGS, and only one named and in her second appearance at that.
Carolyn (raccoon), introduced in panel 1, Mar. 1 strip and then disappears. Hmmn...?
Edie (squirrel), seems pretty even tempered.
Polly (penguin), seems to have some neurotic tendencies.
So, here the strip continues in the rocky terrain of boy/girl relationships, this time from the girl's point of view.
From a design perspective, more minimalist layouts (i.e. non-existent backgrounds), and (to my eye now) more huge word balloons resulting in more talking heads. Oh well, these were the parameters set for the strip.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Carmine red Col-erase® pencil and red, medium point Bic® ball-point pen on paper.
Mary Marvel, Supergirl, Wonder Girl and Power Girl ©DC Comics.
What would happen if four young super-powered flying female protégés teamed up?
I actually have no idea, but I'm sure they would have a good reason to do so. Probably kick some bad-guy butt.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
For a span of about two years, I drew princesses at Disney Consumer Products (DCP) group. It’s difficult, now, to say of what qualifications I had for such a position - drawing over 80% of the art of the character Mulan for her licensing styles guide and all of the Jessie art for Toy Story 2 guide? For my part, my interest was equal parts contributing to the custodianship of classic Disney properties and characters plus I like drawing girls.
It can not be overlooked that, DCP had divided into separate lines of businesses by categories (hard-lines, soft-lines, toys and new film properties) each with their own team of designers and artist, while the long time residing Cinderella artist, Diane Keener, had recently retired. I at least had Mulan, Jessie and a few Belle drawings in the portfolio, compared to the Mickey and Pooh artists in the soft-lines artist pool.
Unfortunately, fashion programs quickly turned out to be more design oriented, which favored artistic interpretations rather than the classic versions of the characters. Then next big thing was the company’s discovery that “The Disney Princess” was an untapped brand and the company’s decision to make it an official brand with product.
I had a satirical response to the trend of mashing Snow White, Cinerella, Ariel, etc. together on to tee-shirts: “The Royal World”. Drawing upon and spoofing the conceit of MTV’s “the Real World”, I had drawn up a little poster featuring six of the company’s most popular heroines, suggesting that in doing so that trouble would ensue. I then carried the idea further by drawing a few newspaper styled comic strips.
Five years later, it’s an idea that hasn’t died. In my current sketch book, I drew my version of the Grimm brother’s titular character, Snow White. The property, whether it reappears as a book, comic strip or TV cartoon, has been re-named “Royality”. The design is rather simplified as if for animation. Snow White takes on the leadership roll most often - mostly because, as they all live in her castle, after her wicked step mother/ queen has been dispatched.
The “Disney Princess” brand continues to be successful. No surprise considering that the princesses themselves have continued to be popular through the last seventy years. On the other hand, the success of films “Shrek”, “Hoodwinked” and to an extent the comic book “Fables” prove that its still worth satirizing.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Corina (poodle) introduces Sara (panther).
Not only that, but I introduce the idea that Monster is a cartoonist. I’ll probably mention that a couple of times more and show Monster actually drawing perhaps twice.
As I recall things, I had not yet decided if I was going to reveal who the so-called ”new girl” in the strip.
Rodney (lion) follows the creed, “faint hearts never won fair maiden.” - from Walt Disney’s Robin Hood.
As I had previously made note, there are large gaps in the dates of the strips, some times weeks. At the time, I would make a pair of TAGS strips over a week end, dating them for the next Monday and Tuesday - or at least the next non-Sunday days. I wasn’t actually trying to produce at a real world pace of six daily strips and one Sunday edition per week.
The large spans of time in TAGS production, resulted in jumps in the story telling, which is more obvious to me now than when I was writing TAGS. It’s as if there are missing strips.
In a way there are lost strips. When I would start back up with TAGS production, it would be as if it was days or weeks later for the TAGS characters as well. As an attempt at continuity, the characters continued to dwell on the “current” topic, “the new girl”. I wonder if the pacing was jolting to readers. Yeah , it probably was.
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Wed., April 12, 2006
Oxford Comics, Atlanta GA.
The book signing event heralded the first published appearance of Tuff-Girl, the adventure heroine co-created by Merrill Hagan and myself, Bryan Mon. The six page feature appears in issue #5 of Silver Comics. Add to that two pin-up pieces of art and the cover, it isn’t a bad way to start things.
Oxford Comics is probably the store that best caters to Atlanta’s serious comic and graphic novel reading crowd, just the sort of crowd that might gamble $2 or so on an independent tome. With that in mind, having the gathered masses consist mostly of friends and people from work was a given. That traffic would be high in the first hour and a half to trail off, was also a given. That we would be packing and carting home a majority of our inventory, was a given.
We did, however, sell a few copies that night to anonymous readers willing to give it a chance, including a few back copies of Silver Comics. Additionally, copies left on Oxford’s shelves sold without the hard sell in the next few months.
Oxford’s signing table, is generous if you were to set in front of you when you’re eating your dinner while watching the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica, so things were snug for Merrill, myself, a few stacks of issues #1 through #5, the “Freebies” bowl and T-shirts on display and in sock behindus. Still, I might describe it as fun - or at least I might describe the memory of it as fun. Merrill thought it was weird, as I recall. For me, anyways, there were those five years I spent as a character artist on Disneyland’s Main Street,USA, doing my thing in full view of passing guests. The weirdness of being on display gets to be less weird in the second year.
The freebies were metal pin-back buttons imprinted with characters and insignia from Silver Comics. Juan, publisher and major creator behind Silver, had them made up and sent a bag out to me in Atlanta for the event. Kids love the freebies.
That follow-up to the event was at the San Diego Comic Convention, later that year in July. But that’s another story.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Sherilyn Fenn, portrait from a magazine photograph (09/1993)
Bic® medium four-color ball-point pen on paper.
In the early 1990’s I was forming my preference to using ball-point pens as a drawing medium, which may be quite the offensive statement to any one calling her or himself an artist, even if I’m really only talking about my sketch books. I don’t suppose the ink is meant to be archival. They do, however, have these positives: 1) they’re inexpensive; 2) highly available; and 3) come in different colors.
To this day, I carry a Bic brand, medium tip, four-color ball-point pen with me. Admittedly, black, blue, red and green do not constitute a full spectrum of color, not even when you add to it yellow highlighter and white correction fluid. (Yes, at one time, I thought office supply art was worth pursuing.) However, I do manage to get my ideas across with it.
The portrait is a sketch book drawing, and even so, I’d consider “unfinished”. The undirected hatching gives it a coarse appearance. The black areas become the more tedious aspects of “Bic” art, due to the layering of black, blue and usually red strokes because black alone never looks quite deep enough.
Sherilyn Fenn is an actress (Audrey Horne, Twin Peaks 1990-91).
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Barron - stuffed bear doll. The design was fun, and just the idea of a stuffed bear amongst living bears and animals seamed a quirky enough thing with which to run. They’re all anthropomorphic, and as long as I avoided explaining how they all had babies, it didn’t seem to matter much. As for the character’s roll, however, I would usually opt to feature Checkov. The only distinction would have been that Barron was more crude.
You may have noticed, if you’ve read or have been reading the previous strips in the series, that the strips are in two-day, themed blocks. This reflects how I was drawing two strips per page. Having them relate thematically, was due, in part, to the fact that Charles Schulz would do entire weeks of, say, tennis themed strips. My emulation of Mr. Schulz’s “Peanuts” knew no bounds. It was also an exercise to see if I could mine an idea for multiple gags. In a few strips, I will use the two-at-a-time schedule to tell a series from two points of view (more or less).
So far, TAGS has been presented complete, in sequential order. Gaps in the dates, accurately reflection my production schedule.
Multi-color ball point pen on gray paper.
In 2001, I explored some designs for PinUSA (maker of enamel pins) who, as I understood it, was seeking a license to make cloisonné pins for the Hooters restaurant chain. I had done, by that time, a “waitress” pin series for the Hard Rock Cafe (HRC) license for them, and felt that Hooters might want something different than HRC. I also thought, something more cartoony would look better for 1-inch tall pins.
I was never asked to do the series. I think Hooters wanted something more like the HRC girls I was drawing. I know they wanted their actual logo on the girls’ shirts, which I wanted to avoid drawing, thinking it could be copied and pasted on to the production art. Frankly I thought it would look like mud on the actual pins.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Expanding the cast, Geri, a beaver (02/01), is introduced as a line lead, the restaurant manager in charge of the servers and cashiers. She will pretty much remain a third level character, used whenever a mid-manager is required.
The skunk in kitchen whites (02/02, panel four) is Nick, who is the fourth of who will become the main six Tags yet introduced. Nick is kind of like Lucy from Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” and little like Grumpy from Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. The character is book-smart, opinionated and some times bossy - all in a good way.
The other three are Murray, Checkov and of course, Monster.
Murray (cheetah), to continue the “Peanuts” and “Seven Dwarfs” analogies, is Snoopy mixed with Happy - clever, efficient and good natured. In good time, he will also be half of “the couple” archetype.
Checkov (dragon) is Linus mixed with Dopey - intuitive, impulsive and loyal. He also plays well as Monster’s id, even after I introduce Monster’s literal id in an upcoming dream series of strips.
Monster (monster) is Charlie Brown and Bashful.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Multi-color, fine-point ball-point pen on paper.
This is not part of a campaign to celebrate Christmas in the summer. It’s a drawing in my current sketch book, done before I re-started this blog. I'm likely to do something new and different in six months for the holiday, so there didn’t seem any reason to holding back on posting it - especially since I’ve been posting old TAGS.
You’ll note that it shows Wichita’s so-called old design in the “Blondie” style.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Here Checkov (dragon) and Monster (monster) are in chef whites working in the kitchen; an unexplained change from the bussers’ costume of previous strips. Characters can fill any position in the restaurant I suppose.
Also, Checkov did appear previously without glasses. It's not a gaffe, he some times wears glasses, he some times does not.
The middle extended panel of 01/19 I think is nice, considering it’s as much character model exploration as anything in my sketchbooks, of which, by the way, I hadn’t done much.
And TAGS starts to parallel the “little red head girl” theme from the Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts”.
Sunday, June 3, 2007
I attend a local life drawing (L.D.) work shop every now and then. I first attempted water colors as a medium in a L.D. setting, I guess, about eight-plus years ago. They were tiny, three inch high things, done for five-minute-held poses. Five minutes in a two-hour workshop is generous.
Now, I only stay through the one and two minute poses of the first half of the L.D. workshop. The strategy I developed is 1) small 6-inch figures; 2) chiaroscuro light-and-dark studies which includes picking the best vantage that the light hits across the figure; 3) work dark to light; and 4) my palette of secondary colors, orange figure, violet shading, green negative space.
On that last point, I can't really dip into three different colors in one minute or less, so those tend to be more monochromatic warm-ups.
Here are twelve recent samples.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I draw Supergirl a lot.
As a young reader of comics books, Superman’s younger, less experienced cousin was just a natural part of the whole “super” theme. Superman and his stories, of course, needed villains and disasters, but it was Supergirl, Krypto, the Fortress of Solitude and the Bottled city of Kandor all enriched the whole Superman mythos.
Now, I can look at those things and see the argument of how those things are more part of marketing the character either to other demographics (like girls), or to make it a more attractive licensing property (toys!). However, since those things are part of MY Superman conception, they suit me just fine.
I draw Supergirl a lot.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Sunday, May 27, 2007
I spent some time backing up my downloaded music files and I had to put together some cover art (pictured) for the discs - I’m wired that way.
Without strong themes to inform the artwork, I fell back on a standard advertising idea: use a pretty girl. The photos are from various mailers and newspaper inserts like J. C. Penny and Kohls.
I was once encouraged to put together a “How to Draw Pretty Girls” book. I may not ever do that book since I think there are plenty of such books out there. Flipping through a few, I've failed to find where the authors actually define what a “pretty girl” is. Beauty, they say, is subjective. True.
Leading me to my small contribution to the curriculum: use the anonymous models in weekly mailers and newspaper inserts as a reference for what defines a pretty girl.
Contemporary standards of beauty are being defined a redefined constantly, yearly, seasonally, some times by the week.
Celebrities are a misleading gauge of those standards, because some are the canvas for an ever changing line-up of stylists, some would sacrifice beauty to stand out, but mostly because it's so difficult to separate the personality from the image.
1) Department store advertisements are by nature, aimed at a mass audience, and portray an attainable standard of beauty.
2) The ads are up to date.
3) The ads are cheap, usually free.
4) The ads are mutli-racial, more true now than even five years ago.
And if you can’t find a pretty girl in those ads, then I would posit that you are drawing for a different audience, and I, unfortunately, have no further advice for you.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Tuff-Girl and Tuff-Mutt patrolling the sunny Malibu shores.
Here presented are the rough, tight pencil and final ink of the piece. There isn't a lot to be learned from these in the way of the decisions made at each stage.
Tuff-Girl adventures are illustrated in a style inspired by the art of Milt Caniff (Terry and the Pirates, Steve Canyon).
Here, the Tuff team are depicted in an even more cartoony style. It's actually a more fun style to draw. It's based on Blondie (Chic Young), but because of the characters' adventurous leanings, is takes on a dramatically different look than the domestic doings of Blondie and Dagwood.
Tuff-Mutt (a.k.a. Wichita), has undergone a number of re-designs. Initially , she had a body style more like Blondie's pup, Daisy or like Pluto, with big, pillowy paws and a brow ridge stepped up from the snout which allowed for drawing both eyes in most front views. Pushing her design to more caricature the features of a wire-hair terrier, her legs are more like those of some cartoon sheep and her head has a block-shaped profile.
Monday, May 7, 2007
The employment of anthropomorphic animals for the TAGS cast is entirely due to the fact that the strip/series followed my two other series and not wanting to create an entirely new, separate cast, and wholly in the tradition set by Mickey Mouse cartoons and comics where Mickey and Minnie are four-foot mice who are actually the people of that reality rather than true mice.
The two preceding series were titled "BackStage" and Stagelights", and shared anthropomorphic caricatures (which I would later coin as "critticatures" of differing spellings) of my co-workers (a.k.a. Disneyland Cast-Members). Disneyland culture uses stage and motion picture terminology where ever it fits. The "backstage" areas, for example, are the places where customers (guests) are forbidden.
The TAGS cast would consist of about three dozen of these critticatures with personalities amalgamated from different Cast-Members and shaped as the stories required. Despite the new character designs and names, most of my friends would continue to perceive the characters as their caricatures.
Monster, a Charlie Brown archetype, main character, is my alter-ego.
So far the series has also introduced the following players:
Bill (turtle), Vern (horse), Murray (cheetah), Tom (griffin, above), and Checkov (dragon).
These are the last of the exposition strips which attempt to establish the premise - that these characters work in a theme-park restaurant. I should have made the series more clearly communicate that - at the very least the restaurant aspect of it.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
With all exposition aside (which I am now of the mind to think should not be necessary for an accessible comic strip), it's time to go into some stories - or situation based funny.
It's a restaurant, and the main character, Monster, is bussing tables.
Hmmn, had I not introduced the main character up to this point? Tsk, tsk tsk. such sloppy work. His name would officially be introduced two strips later.