Back in August, I shared a desktop image featuring a photo-composited image of Tuff-Girl in front of old Las Vegas. Well, Tuff-Girl appears all over the American South-West. The re-used Tuff-Girl image over-laid with warmer tones stands in front of Los Angeles’ skyline in twilight, although not an old Los Angeles.
Here’s a teaser on what is my current project. After a few years of putting Tuff-Girl on my Christmas cards, this year I’m using my TAGS characters again: Monster, Rodney (lion) and Polly (penguin).
I am also returning to the idea that I would do it as a series of multiple designs, a thing I started when I worked at Disneyland and was giving out upwards of fifty cards. The variations seemed to be intriguing to my friends and co-workers.
Little Tuffy and Wilson sketches Color pencil and ball-point pen ink on paper with Digital color over cleaned scan. 21.6 cm x 27.9 cm (8.5 inch x 11.0 inches) 2010.
Surfer girl Little Tuffy has a pet Shar-Pei, Wilson.
Why a Shar-Pei? Because when I thought about it, I couldn’t think of any other cartoon or comic strip that ever had a Shar-Pei. Think about it.
Right, so L.T. would have the first cartoon Shar-Pei. I started in earnest designing Wilson one month ago, with little success. One month later, attacking the challenge only twice more in between, here above is pretty close to what he’ll look like.
Red pencil on card stock. 27.9 cm x 21.6 cm (11.0 inches x 8.5 inches).
Digital color over scan of India Ink on card stock. 4200 x 4200 pixels.
Because a simple e-mail announcing a new e-mail address isn’t sufficient, I designed a couple of Rolodex style cards decorated with this self caricature.
Encircling me, are a number of my characters from past and present, chosen mostly because they would be reasonably shorter than I am.
(Clockwise from the 1 o’clock position) Un-named angel and devil conscience characters once doodled on my grade school notes. Their function are in the “good versus bad” tradition seen in cartoons. Their design are about as simple as I could make them, decades prior to “The Powerpuff Girls”.
Un-named flying penguin developed for a fable I had in my head in college.
Monster as the corporate mascot for Monster Enterprises is a beast who acts as much as my cartoon alter ego as Mickey did for Walt. He is a mash of bear, gorilla, Hagar the Horrible and Muppet. This is the fourth distinct character design of Monster. The others were used in three different comic strip series: 1) “B.M.O.C.” strip written in college; 2) “Backstage” and “StageLights” satirical comics based on the goings on in Disneyland’s restaurant department; 3) “TAGS” the offshoot of “Backstage” written for a wider audience.
A shue, the pet of Lurna, Moon girl. Lurna was a throwaway invention done eight years ago when I was bored one afternoon. Part of the idea included naming things that sound like common yet unrelated English words.
Odysseus, Jupiter squirrel, pet to Homer. Andromeda was my one story idea most inspired by Anime sources. It involved girls in space, mistaken identities, war, capitalist lizards, pirates and a hapless reluctant explorer Homer and his pet, one of a population of squirrels transplanted on one of Jupiter’s terra-formed moons to evolve into domesticated fur balls the size of house cats.
Wichita, Tuff-Girl’s canine companion.
A bird-winged fairy is a minor conception that arose in high school as a result of thinking butterfly-winged fairies to be totally implausible and ridiculous. The tiny winged horse was added thinking it to be about as reasonable an idea as a tiny winged girl.
April 18: Heidi (Gopher, 5th appearance) and Rudy (pig, 4) discuss one of modern life’s most important issues - ice cream flavors. The stork clerk is a nod to another crittericature I had done for one of my Disney restaurant co-worker. He not a re-occurring character.
April 19: On the flip side, Monster offers his take to Bingo (snake, 2) on the decision making process. Here the actual problem is inconsequential.
Some times non sequitur humor works, and some times like this it doesn’t. Don’t worry, I’ll try some thing different in the next strip. That’s one of the advantages of the daily strip.
Ever since writing this, I’ve considered developing a back story, at least, for the bald aliens with funny (Russian perhaps?) accents. Not getting much farther than that concept, it would have been called “Die, Monster, Die!” Ultimately, however, in whatever form, it’s existence would only be to justify this one strip and would be way, way beyond the core of TAGS.
With this drawing I cast actress Allison Miller (“Kings” (TV 2009), “Blood: The Last Vampire” (2009), “17 Again” (2009)) in the title role. It might not be the best bit of casting since she doesn’t have an uncanny resemblance to Janine Turner (the initial primary model for Tuff-Girl’s civilian identity, Debby Durrance), and she’s doesn’t at all appear to be half Asian. But she does appear to be tiny and someone the bad guys would underestimate.
Here I minimized the eye mask considerably to reveal more of her face which is drawn a bit too full to be more than a moderately good likeness. Already I’m making Hollywood concessions. In my conception she would answer the question “why do you wear a mask?” with “because a broken nose really hurts,” inferring that she’s built in some sort of guard in the bridge of the mask.
Black and white India ink on paper as originally published.
Composite of India ink and watercolor and digital retouching of logo.
Sunday, 03/12: Take the hit.
To get it out of the way, I consider myself a lazy colorist. I try to get away with flat, non-graduated coloring as often as I can. Also, in coloring my own comic work, I’ve worked on the images at least twice before with the penciling and inking stages, so a bit bored with it, I rush through the coloring part. Still, you can’t underestimate the impact and transformative effect color has on the art.
Conceptually, I like the first panel of Al (beagle, 3rd appearance) in a boxing ring as a metaphor for the dating process. The humor of it with his opponent being a girl pops a lot better with the addition of color obviously.
The strip has to basic themes: 1) rejection sucks; and 2) Al plus Michelle (weasel, 2) would make for an odd couple. Maybe the humor could have been sharper or had more punch if I had stuck with just one idea.
The girls in the panels of the top half: Fern (kangaroo, 2), Jill (reindeer, 3), Suzie (deer, 2), Emily (tiger, 2), Shirley (seal, 2), Polly (penguin, 18), Rudy (pig, 2), and Tanya (otter, 2).
Then, in couple of break room exchanges, Bill (turtle, 3) and Hans (fox, 2) offer varied insights. And Michelle entertains a crowd including Wolf (weasel, 3), Sara (panther, 2), and Vern (horse, 3).
Use of Al here, as a final comment, was more a choice of not using Monster, because at the time, Monster would have been defeated after one rejection and have gone alone. Well, actually, Monster wouldn’t go to a Powerhouse concert, a rock band modeled after Van Halen. Powerhouse is named after a musical selection used by Carl Stalling in a couple of Bugs Bunny cartoons written by Raymond Scott.
A few months back, I had posted a review of the Disney book “Animation (Walt Disney Studios: The Animation Series)” on FaceBook. Expecting to follow through with lots of reviews of Disney miscellany, I titled the proposed series “Disneyanadocious”. It obviously is intended to deal with Disneyana i.e. Disney collectibles, and mash that with the word you say when you don’t know what to say as coined by the song writing team Richard and Robert Sherman for the film “Mary Poppins.” Not content with that, in my estimation it needed a logo.
I stitched together a logo from the logos of Disney films, theme parks and other productions. I thought that with 16-letters, that I could honor the big landmarks in the company’s 82-year history. Unfortunately, the logos for Snow White, Pinocchio and even Mickey Mouse aren’t composed of letterforms that are necessarily iconic when taken out of context. I think I most regret that I don’t have a representation from any of the Broadway productions. It’s probably arguable that the second “a” is iconic enough, but I wasn’t going to omit the first and only animated feature to earn an Academy Award nomination for best picture.
Eventually, time permitting of course, Disneyanadocious will be part of my web-log of forwarded e-mail flotsam and jetsam, “That’s Good Spam” (thatsgoodspam.blogspot.com), mixed in with my five-point movie reviews.
And here are hints, for those who need it, of the sources of each letter and punctuation:
D - Dedicated by Roy as a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney. I - A diamond in the rough. S - Feature Mickey’s big feature film debut. N - Takes down the Master Control Program. E - Brought to you in thousands of sparkling lights, and electro-synthe-magnetic musical sounds. Y - Practically perfect in every way. A - Wouldn’t you think she’s the girl who has everything? N - Enjoys the best of both worlds, chills it out, takes it slow, and then rocks out the show! A - The most beautiful love story ever told. D - In 1954, Walt visits millions of living rooms in glorious black and white. O - A classic tale set in New Orleans in the roaring twenties. C - Must leave the Prince’s ball before the stroke of midnight. I - Lost a lucky rabbit and launched a company with a talking mouse. O - You’ll think you’ve seen everything when you see him fly. U - Flik’s epic story of miniature proportions. S - Mickey Mouse would present these Walt Disney productions. ! - Where good clashes with evil in a nighttime musical spectacular on the Rivers of America.
Yesterday, I exhibited my comic, “Tuff-Girl” No. 1, at the first mini-convention held by Oxford Comics in Atlanta. As much as anything, it was an opportunity for local comic artists to present themselves and their wares to the local comic buying public.
It turned out to be a modest affair, on an otherwise pleasant day for the outdoor event.
Here are the sketches that I worked up during the seven hours, save for three which I sold: 1) Humungousaur from “Ben 10 Alien Force”; 2) Supergirl; and 3) a commission based on the patron’s original character.
Thor Color pencil and black India ink marker on board 26.7 cm x 15.9 cm (10.5 inch x 6.62 inch)
The first sketch of the day, and except for the commission done like all that I would do that day by memory. It’s not terribly well planned as far as fitting on the board, and I forgot to color in blue pants.
Samurai Jack Color pencil and black India ink marker on board 26.7 cm x 15.9 cm (10.5 inch x 6.62 inch)
Jack still has his fans. It’s nice to test myself to see if I can still draw things I haven’t draw - well, in this case - since May at Heroes Con.
Capt’n Ameri-Girl Color pencil and black India ink marker on board 26.7 cm x 15.9 cm (10.5 inch x 6.62 inch)
Based on Marvel’s venerable Captain America. I'm pretty certain that Marvel has or had a young female version of Cap, but perhaps that was in a fictitious “What If?” story. Other wise, this is an original design.
Robin Color pencil and black India ink marker on board 26.7 cm x 15.9 cm (10.5 inch x 6.62 inch)
Another challenge for my cerebral archives, Glen Murakami’s design for the character from the popular “Teen Titans” animated series that ran on Cartoon Network.
Supergirl Color pencil and black India ink marker on board 26.7 cm x 15.9 cm (10.5 inch x 6.62 inch)
Did I ever tell you that I draw Supergirl a lot?
Belle Color pencil and black India ink marker on board 26.7 cm x 15.9 cm (10.5 inch x 6.62 inch)
Having recently purchased yet another home video edition of Walt Disney Pictures’ “Beauty and the Beast,” it’s no surprise to me that I pulled this out of my repertoire. In the context of a convention sketch, I might have been showing off.
“Sling” Red Col-Erase pencil and Black Prisma Color pencil on Bristol board. 11.00 inch x 16.75 inch 2010.
The Oxford Mini Con (Oxford Comics, Altanta, GA, Sun. Oct. 17, 2010) will be holding a raffle. My contribution to the raffle is this original piece of Unstoppable Tuff-Girl art.
After finishing the piece, I got the strangest feeling that I had previously drawn the thing or perhaps had drawn the composition. Maybe it’s a lot like a Supergirl and Streaky I had drawn once (or twice)?
“Clouds” Digital color over clean scan of India ink on paper. 20.3 x 25.4 cm (8.0 inch x 10.0 inch)2010.
Here’s a reworking of a an old sketch done in 2003 (montonae, April, 2009), ’cause I liked it - or most of it. I corrected the arms for perspective and foreshortening, basically moving Supergirl’s elbows closer to her shoulders. I also extended her torso a bit for clarity. Design wise, I changed the cape to attach to her more-clearly-drawn yet still rather ridiculous “S” shield blouse.
However, Streaky remains rather Disney-esque cartoony because, pretty much, that’s how I draw cats.
The different costume color schemes is fun and easy to do. Such is the power of digital art and the brilliance of layers.
The clouds are on the flat side - maybe a bit too much - because I only laid in four basic tones without painting in more or blending what I had put down.
French Market! unused sweat shirt design. 30.48 x 30.48 cm (12.0 inch x 12.0 inch) Color pencil, marker and gauche on illustration board. c. 1992
In the summer of 1992, the night time spectacular, Fantasmic!, erupted on the Rivers of America in Frontierland, Disneyland, CA. I was a cast-member working in The French Market restaurant in New Orleans Square, whose outdoor patio overlooks the Rivers of America (and yet, by the way, because of the area foliage and incidental pedestrian traffic, is NOT a good place to view the show).
Up until then, the whole west side of the park had a predictable tapering off of business from day to evening in the summers. With a huge outdoor attraction like Fantasmic! with colored lights, video clips projected on water screens shooting fifty feet in the air and pyrotechnics, and nearly every square centimeter filled in with guests in the cycle of arriving, waiting, watching and trying to exit - well, things changed in a big way.
As for this unpublished image, I had by then gotten in to the pattern of designing and selling printed tee-shirts and sweat shirts to commemorate that year’s crew. This time around, I transformed the Fantasmic! logo into the restaurant’s name, and transformed the rest of the marketing artwork, swapping Mickey for three of my characters from the comic “BackStage” and the Maleficent dragon for a gigantic, hungry sheep. This being a full-color mixed media piece on board, I had ambitions of some how reproducing it on tee-shirts, that is until I learned how difficult and expensive the process would be.
The bears (a nod to “Bear Country,” the land which was re-named “Critter Country” with the opening of “Splash Mountain”) by their costumes represent the three basic zones of the restaurant. Fran (?) in the French Market blue dress and white apron is the hostess providing counter service in the buffeteria style restaurant. She apparently is entrusting the group’s safety to some sort of magic straining spoon. Herb is wearing a French Market blue vest and is hoisting what’s probably a fifty pound buss tub on his shoulder. Bus tubs aren’t much good in a fight, not even overloaded ones like that. Miles is wearing chef’s whites for those cast members who cook, prepare and run the food to the front counters. Miles has an empty fry basket in a batter’s stance - could that have been a bad visual pun? “Fry/batter?”.
March 10: Picking up here from the action of the March 08 strip, the closing crew sits down for a light snack or coffee at Stacy’s restaurant (panel 2, back row l-r: Brenda (mongoose), Checkov (dragon), Corina (Poodle); foreground, l-r: Nick (Skunk), Monster (monster), Barron (stuffed bear)).
The joke telling here is pretty soft. It would have been better, I now think, for the first five orders be one or two word balloons and Corina’s bubble to fill two-thirds of the second panel. Then in panel three, Checkov’s watch check doesn't help the joke, because they shouldn’t really have anywhere to go any time soon - well, except to get some sleep may be.
The basic TAGS character design is about three-heads tall, so the giraffe server would have been a unique looking character - if I had decided to draw her more completely.
This is Corina’s 5th appearance and Checkov’s 8th.
March 11: Typically, the closing shifts are staggered, so for things even as simple as getting together for a late night snack have their stragglers. John (greyhound, 2) and Al (beagle, 2) finally arrive at Stacy’s as mentioned in the Mar. 07 strip.
You know what, if all Checkov ordered was a float then what is it that he’s still finish eating?
Here’s a lost opportunity to really punch up the joke with big, expressive sound effects in the third and possibly fourth panels, and we really should see shock on John and Al’s face in the last panel.
Appearance roll: Brenda (5), Nick (11), Barron (13).
Also, the gang has kindly left Murray and Edie to them selves on their date.
Here’s a concept drawing from one of my sketch/note books. I’m posting it just because I felt like sharing it.
Supergirl’s rubbery figure shows how I was still struggling with an animation friendly design.
“Supergirl Saves the World” is a book title idea I had the intention of pitching to DC Comics.
“Boy Toy” is pretty much just the Toy Man from Bruce Timm’s “Superman, The Animated Series” but more clearly here he’s a remote controlled robot. I had the thought, what if some GIRL stole the controls of the robot?
Um. I guess that’s about all that needs to be said about this piece.
Digital composite of India ink line and water color. B&W version originally posted October 2009.
That Hue You Do Partly out of necessity, partly out of lack of time (or laziness), but mostly out of simple procrastination, most of the “full page” a.k.a. Sunday editions of TAGS were left as black and white inked line drawings.
Now that they have some thing of a second life here on monotonae, it just doesn't seem right to leave them unfinished.
My original process was to watercolor black and white xerographic copies. Invariably, the 20lb. copier paper wrinkles and warps. This go around, I’ve tone back the black to a 10% gray and ink jetted it on 110lb. card stock. It’s hardly a perfect system, however. For one thing, gray, of course with an ink jet, is an illusion created by little specs of black on white, and appear as such when you scan it at 300 dpi or higher. Second, the printing process, the watercolor painting and the scanning all introduce a bit of warping to the image. It’s nothing that a little Cut & Paste Photoshoppery can’t fix to match the clean line art.
March 07: Some times a closing crew will split up going their different ways and see each other at the next shift. Some times you all want to do... some thing.
Barron (stuffed bear) takes a head count on the group. Brenda (mongoose), check. Corina (poodle), check. Checkov (dragon), check-a-roo. Characters mentioned are John (greyhound, who has appeared only once before) and Al (beagle, who also has appeared only once before and in the same strip as John) who, as is turns out, do not show up in the next strip.
March 08: Stacy’s is one of those family restaurants that remain open late or better still are open 24 hours a day. Naturally there’s a Stacy’s near the Happiland theme park, and a good place for Murray (cheetah, 10th appearance) and Edie (squirrel, 8) to get a sundae.
From the previous strip, the gang has increased by two to include, Barron (11), Brenda (3), Corina (4), Checkov (7), Nick (skunk, 9), and Monster (monster).
I also managed to put in the family station wagon that monster drives.
Ed Murrieta celebrated his 50th birthday yesterday.
Little Eddy and Atlanta Skyline.
When last seen on monotonae, Ed was caricatured on a tee-shirt design (Nov 20, 2008).
Little Eddy Mug Shot.
Creating caricatures of Ed has all but become an annual practice, but this year the caricature is in three-dimensions. On a blank “Bub” figure from Kidrobot’s Munny World line, I worked at the last minute to squeeze his essence with acrylic paints on to the 4-inch tall form.
This is the 201st post on the blog called monotonae.
For the 200th post, a nice round number, I was digging through my files for some thing special, but instead colored up a sketchbook drawing of Eagle One and his Eaglets.
Here’s something special for the first post of the next 100 - if I stretch the definition of the word “special.”
monotony Before there was monotonae, there was a printed newsletter called monotony.
If memory serves, some time in 1993 I decided to quit working in a Disneyland themed restaurant, to get serious about finishing my art studies and embarking a career in the field. Wanting to challenge myself with maintaining and regular newspaper style comic strip (TAGS), I compounded the pressure with the creation of monotony as the monthly outlet for that work, if only for a year. The newsletter format, in turn, was also a major impetus for the addition of the Sunday edition full page format to TAGS.
Production was crude compared to the home office setups that are common today. Most of the layouts and text blocking was done in a program called Pagemaker. With no access to a scanner, all illustration was subsequently added either directly on the master pages (or boards) or as photocopies pasted on the board. Then the boards were copied in the wee hours (to get that after midnight discount) at the local Kinko’s shop.
Initially, copies were sent to about a half dozen friends of my Disney days.
Here are scans of the six pages of the first issue, with the mailing addresses redacted.
And monotony came with two inserts: 1) A subscription order card.
2) A survey form.
This Makes Me Stranger Than You Even as I was in the middle of doing monotony I had the sense that it was a huge expression of “hey, look at me!” In essence, it was a web-log (a.k.a. blog) without the web. Except for family updates people send out with Christmas greetings, no one else does this sort of thing. Perhaps giving the publication a bit of parody aspect helped to relieve some of that egotistical part.
The core of it, or course, was getting TAGS out there in some form, and after a year, maybe I’d have a good sample package to seek out syndication.
The Runty story is the type of satirical prose I would write in one sitting to fill up a page.
St. Nick and Monster Here, for the first time published in color is the cover illustration. water color on heavy cold press paper. 1993
Eh. It’s no Rockwell, that’s for certain. Look at Santa’s huge mitts compared to his face.
Eagle One and his Eaglets Digital color over cleaned scan of ball-point pen on paper. 20.32 x 25.40 cm (8.00 inch x 10.00 inch)
From the pages of Wichita, the Tuff Mutt, here is Tuff-Girl adversary, Eagle One and his eaglets.
I imagine that from time to time E1 would have a near harem of hench-femmes, in the manner of Hugh Hefner. But the life of crime means that some times either he or they get caught and imprisoned, so the faces always change.
The drawing was done as concept in black ball-point pen over a red-pencil sketch across several lunch breaks in my sketchbook.
Supergirl Light blue pencil on paper 13.97 x 21.59 cm (5.50 in. x 8.50 in.) 1998
Here are color explorations for a costume concept for the Maid of Might. All because I didn't feel like only posting the blue pencil sketch. Yes, I spent about an hour this morning digitally coloring this thing just for monotonae. The twelve year old sketch features a Thor-styled cape a la Jack Kirby which I don’t usually draw on DC characters.
The overall style is based on Bruce Timm’s of his “Batman: Animated” series. It’s a style which has an attractive graphic simplicity, and yet a style with which I struggle because I’m always wanting to either put in more detail or complicate things with more accurate anatomy.