Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hello, Dolly

Red and Black roller ball ink on paper.
15.24 cm x 15.24 cm (6.00 in x 6.00 in.)
August 2008.

Tuff-Girl (TG) and Tuff-Mutt encounter a wide array of characters good and bad. It's all part and parcel of the costumed adventurer trade.

Not quite standing with both feet in either camp is Mecha-Tuffgirl (MTG), imperfect solid-state Tuff-Girl doppleganger. Actually, MTG's design is a clever one, originally concieved to be part of a squad of remotely operated battle drone. The fatal flaw was the complex control system requiring a team of seven to run each drone, one director and six systems commanders.

It would take a genius (an evil one perhaps?) to take the scrapped prototypes and re-engineer one to work under one operator and upgrade the design modelled after the day's most popular heroine, Tuff-Girl, or rather a TG fashion doll. MTG's scale is necessarilly large to accomodate the mechtronics, but understandably, TG appears larger in the newspapers and magazines.

The third stage of MTG's development involves magics.


The sketch shows MTG's original right arm positioned down with the elbow near the waist. The artifact makes for an unfortunate silhouette. TG's costume is a bit like a diver's wet suit, and she sports a regular sling strapped to her arm, instead of the gauntlet with the retractable sling.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

TAGS August 23 & 24, 1993

08/23: Monster flips for Polly...
08/24: ... and flops out.

August 23, 1993: Monster, still with a tenuous grasp of dream rules, is distressed about Polly's (penguin) disappearance and then re-appearance. Brayn the brain is little amused.

August 24, 1993: Monster re-awakes from too many minutes, and too many strips, of being unconscious. Polly and Murray (cheetah) are there to greet the mumbling head case.

Coming up next... something else.

Back to TAGS

TAGS character sketches
Multi-color ball-point pen ink on paper.
each 21.59 cm x 27.94 cm (8.50 in. x 11.00 in)
May 19 & 20, 2008

I doodled a few "TAGS" characters in a sketch book, the first time in many years. These designs, are a lot closer to those from my comic strip which ran previous to "TAGS," "BackStage." The "TAGS" character designs feature the characters with big heads and much more anthropomorphic bodies, all within a tight height range - pretty close to Charles Schulz's "Peanuts," very similar to Richard Scarry's Busytown critters. The reason was practical, so that they would fit into the tiny panels of the TAGS daily strip format.

I have mentioned "BackStage" previously, but to re-cap: it was a free format comic strip which started as lunch break doodles about the shenanigan of working in a restaurant in a popular amusement park. Auto-biographical? Sure. The characters were anthropomorphic animals representing my co-workers. The designs, like the strip itself, were what I made up as I went along. It wasn't too disimilar in style and quality, I now think, from what you may find in an independent comic.

I used that as a spring board for "TAGS".

There's something I find appealing about dealing with characters of such widely different body types and sizes. It is at least more interesting for me to draw. Beyond the confines of comic panels, I do let the designs stray to the "BackStage" way.

I wonder why Disney didn't do more of it in their animated features: clothes wearing anthropomorphic critters, especially with Mickey and the gang as the company's foundation. Really just "Robin Hood." Of lesser examples are sequences in "Song of the South," "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," plus characters sprinkled in "Pinocchio," "Alice in Wonderland," and the anthologies.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

On the Run

Red and Black roller ball ink on paper.
15.24 cm x 15.24 cm (6.00 in x 6.00 in.)

The "Blondie" funnies design of Tuff-Girl and her canine companion, Wichita, has always been easier to draw than the standard design for the adventure book, almost to the point of being a preference.

Many of these sketchbook exercises serve the secondary purpose of playing with her costume design which is intended to be flexible and ever changing. The mask design often defaults to something traditionally small for female characters, which defeats any identity concealing function. Eh, it is fiction after all. At a certain point, Tuff-Girl will abandon the use of the mask as part of her costume.


a: Digital color over scan of pencil, 2004.

b: Digital mixed media with scan of India Ink drawing. 2006.

c: Digital mixed media with scan of pencil. 2007.

Stephanie Gladden worked as a character artist for Cartoon Network both full and part time for several years. During which time she had the monumental accomplishment of creating over 90 percent of all the licensing character art for the "Powerpuff Girls" outside of publishing.

Her easy prowess with the cute and funny also had piled on her task list, "Codename: Kids Next Door," "Hi Hi PUffy Ami Yumi," and "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends." As one of Craig McCraken's favored artists, she penciled many "Foster's" adventure features in the short running "Cartoon Network Block Party" comic book humor anthology (DC Comics).

Stephanie also has animation experience on her resume, but what has fans lining up at her table at Dragon-Con and other comic conventions is her past work drawing The Simpsons for Bongo Comics.

a) A birthday drawing in the style of "Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi" substituting a guitar for giant pencil. [* * * - -]

b) Another birthday drawing in the style of Milt Caniff's "Steve Canyon." The "borrowing" or outright theft of food placed in the office refrigerator some times requires a creative solution. A thought Stephanie would appreciate this Wile E. Coyote option. [* * - - -]

c) This one was created for her office shingle/ cubicle name plate. [* * * - -]