Saturday, July 09, 2011

Manga Machine

Look what I'm saying I found in an old magazine! Wow! Interesting. If I lived back then and needed to draw a pie-eyed, soulless kewpie doll, the answer would have been a little machine! Hella crazy.


P.S.:  ;D Just kidding, mangaphiliacs. I love ya. You know that!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Sharing the "Wealth"

Here are some materials I did up for one of my directed study students today. She is someone who is already unusually aware of the little offsets and foreshortenings that make a face work in 3/4 view. The points made in these jpegs were offered as refinements upon that foundation.

I insist that paying attention to this stuff, which is all based on life, can add charm and convincingness TO A VERY WIDE RANGE OF STYLES.

Longtime friends and students may notice that one of these continues my almost-unhealthy preoccupation with eyebrows as indicators of dimensionality or, conversely, unsophisticated drawing.

(I am all about the sophistication, as you can tell by this grotesque kid in particular.)

These are Copyright 2011 Academy of Art.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Mere Three Months Later...

I finally sucked it up and finished this pinup for Chris Mill's Gravedigger book, which, luckily for me, ran late. I am the unproud possessor of a sheaf of papers bearing flat, fruitless, dead-end doodles on the way to this. All things considered, I think it came out fairly well. I like that the cluster of centers of interest are placed assymetrically for one thing. Chris says he'll let me know when the book is out, which I guess is his way of saying that I won't be getting a free copy. Sigh... Times is hard in the comics biz.


Monday, May 23, 2011

After Surgery

My cancer surgery of last week went well. The surgeon, Mark Singer, is a preeminent, highly skilled guy who also is very good-humored and reassuring--not that common a combination, I'm told and I believe it.

It's a good thing this is basically happening between  semesters. I look scary now and my voice is shot. But the body, even the post-middle-age body, is an incredible thing.

I want to thank everybody who shook my hand or sent me an encouraging message through email or Facebook.  There's never any need to feel called upon to say something special in such a case; I can tell you every expression of good wishes is gratefully banked and adds to the strength I can bring to bear in the situation.

(But when a friend quoted a line from an old Simpsons episode to me, "Chicks dig scars," that was kind of extra bonus special. :)  )


Friday, May 13, 2011

To Inspire... or Repulse

This is Rob Liefeld's work, the sample that got him his first job at a major publisher. Is it awful? Well it ain't great, but it's neatly drawn, highly inkable, and has a certain grand quality to its figures, and distinctive rendering style. The background, eh...not so convincing, but the strong use of diagonals adds a lot of energy to the composition. The hands and feet are bad.

What does this illustrate?

Maybe "right place, right time," but more than that: in comics, making work that's confident and professional on its own unique terms can be a powerful thing. Everybody says this guy is bad because everybody says he's bad, but how many of us could for sure do something that more people would respond to? Not that is the only measure. But it ain't nothing.

Good luck in your final push, you-all.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Comics' Future.

An interesting article that raises some important question about the way that the Big Two might react to the increasing obsolescence of the printed monthly comic. Thanks to P. Hari of LinkedIn's comics group.
The surpassing sagacity and foresightedness of the comments that follow it are due their being written by me. :)

By Request--Fisheye aids!

Here are those "globe grids" for five point and four point fisheye. Rememeber that four-point is the more complex of the two, as it involves what are essentially three partial globe grids staggered across each other.
These are from Creative Layout, by Joko et al. 


Friday, April 08, 2011


Chuck Pyle sent this one along. Could be a nice opportunity...


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"New Very Awesome" Comics Job

So, so impressive when people who post a job listing can't write and proofread. But contrary to the prevailing pattern, this guy says he's paying:

Posted Date: 3/15/2011  
Major:   Illustration
Key Skills: Penciling, Inking, Painting, Lettering

Job Description:
New very awesome esoteric group of projects that has lots of potential
and has financial backing.
Looking for artist with the same likes as Todd McFarlane and Dale
Keown (Spawn, The Darkness/Pitt). Love their attention to detail and
Looking to create 3-6 issues of a new type of comic character. Very
very niche but huge potential concept. IMAGE comics connections for
publishing and production. Email for NDA and more info along with your
resume, references if possible and examples of work
Project will start with you as indie contractor and move to fulltime.

Job Qualifications:
-We want someone who is daring with imagery and wants to be cutting
edge in the next style and concepts.
-Love comics and have a passion for comics.
-Good at taking ideas and branching off the original but staying true
to the aesthetic.
-Ahead of schedule
-Laugh at pressure and due dates.
-Discipline and committed

Pay is based per page as is for any comic book artist.

Pay Range:  Negotiable
How To Apply:
Email Resume, Company Website

Location of Job:      San Diego (but work from home is possible)
Length of Position:      TBD
Contact Information:
Address:        3515 Morena Blvd.
              San Diego, CA 92117

Contact Name:    Gerald Venditti
Contact Phone:   Contact me (JH) for phone number
Fax Number:     
Email Address: 
Company Profile:
A new company looking to create a team of extraordinary artistic
individuals in the entertainment industry.

More information available upon request and with a signed and initialed
Non-Disclosure Agreement.

Cashing the Check of Fisheye

The first photo shows a realtor's use of a wide angle lens, perhaps in a vain effort to make a tiny bathroom appear bigger. Note the slight curving of straight lines near the edges of the photo. Fisheye in action, in a very minor way. Note also the distortion of the squares of the tile floor at the bottom, similar to what we get if we extend a grid too close to the viewer and pass the Station Point.

The second photo shows another example of slight fish-eye-ness in a normal wide-angle picture. Look at the curving of the line above the store name.
 Next, an audacious and impressive use of a slight upshot in a fisheye context. The dropped horizon sags justly. Though much informed by fisheye photography, this is a intuitive, freehand approach to perspective, not a technically correct one--but no worse for it. Quite the opposite. I think it's terrific.

Here's a rough for a work-in-progress on a women-in-prison project I'm calling "Women in Prison." It's a WIP WIP. OK not really--it's just a doodle I did for the blog to show the use of fisheye in an indoor setting, and to remind young women of the perils of suburban piracy.

Note that in fisheye all the perspective is forced, comic-book style. That means that apparent scale differences, like between foreground and deeper objects, such the ladies' heads, are maximized. Note as well that our view of the standing woman goes from a decisive down-view of her feet, to a unequivocal upshot of her head. Objects in fisheye are closer than they appear.

(The green projection lines running back to the DVP--not shown--bow outward, away from the center of vision, and that has the effect, I believe, of accelerating the diminution of the floor tiles.)

Here finally below, as promised, the "globe grid" used to make five-point fisheye drawings, presented both singly and in a form for doing multi thumbnails. The center point is a VP and there are VPs at 12, 3, 6, and 9.  I am not posting the globe grid for the maddeningly complex four-point perspective (Yes, four-point is more complicated than 5- , oddly.) although I will if you ask me purty-like.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Time Capsule

This is going to be of interest mostly to my fellow old-timers.

I found some notes I made at a comic convention I went to in New York City in the summer of 1975. It was in a hotel attached to Grand Central Station and put on on by a VIP of early comics fandom named Phil Seuling. I saw a panel with Steve Gerber, Howard Chaykin, Jim Starlin, and Berni (not yet Bernie) Wrightson. Al Milgrom too? I can't remember. Thirty-six years ago.....

Jim Starlin, asked about comic books as literature, said that "in 25 years, I think comics will be right up there with Reader's Digest." (A magazine not revered for literary merit.)

Someone asked the panel about all the killing in comics. Chaykin said, "I'm non-violent; I love violence. Movement is beautiful." The violence in his work, Chaykin said, was not about carnage, but action, motion.

Berni Wrightson on Jack Kirby: "His drawing doesn't do much for me." But he praised Kirby for great storytelling. Chaykin echoed Wrightson on that point, but added that he didn't think he personally had learned much of anything from Kirby.

("King" Kirby at this stage was an admired and imitated old pro, if not quite as revered as he became later when I think his age spurred people to consider his place in the pantheon of comics artists.)

In contrast, Starlin said, "everything I learned about storytelling, I learned from Kirby... and Ditko."

Starlin, who was very popular at this point because of his work on Warlock and Captain Marvel, was asked by an audience member for advice on getting into comics, said "Practice, and plan on a hard time." The comics business was in a serious slump at this point and Starlin was probably speaking for a lot of industry insiders when he said it was going to get worse.

With shocking candor, Wrightson, who was also very hot at this point, said that he was only making $2000-$10,000 a year.  I suppose this would be like making $10,000 to $50,000 now. One of the panelists said the average monthly book was only making $500 in profit a month. Who knows if there's any basis for this figure. But comics only cost about a quarter at this point and the cost of paper was rising. Television continued its decades-long erosion of comics sales. Videogames didn't exist yet though and many, many titles were selling hundreds of thousands of copies an issue, a level of sales that on a printed monthly book will probably never be attained again.

I didn't write this down, but I seem to remember Chaykin, ever quotable and provocative, taking pains to explain that pro artists weren't really into comics the way we fans were. He got his free copies from Marvel and DC each month and gave them away to kids in his neighborhood.


Apologies for any misquoting or inaccurate paraphrasing. I was 17!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Lesson Learned--Yeah, RIGHT!

I promised this guy Chris Mills I'd do a pinup of his character of his character Gravedigger. I knew what I wanted to do, something a la Robert McGinnis, with a sleazy early-60s vibe. I kept sketching figures but the resulting compositions were boring. I soon regretted promising to do it.

After sporadic hours of fruitless sketching, I fi-i-i-nally tried practicing what I always preach to you guys: thumbnailing. That gave me the first things that looked like they might become satisfying drawings.

But I still couldn't get the characters to believably cohabit the space. So once again in desperation I tried what I woulda told you guys to do and what I shoulda done from the start:

I.e., perspective: I carefully checked the figure heights against each other and the background, using projection. I think I like it! This is the resulting rough, tones added in Photoshop, as you can probably tell.


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Facial Structure Exercise

Here's the pics I want you guys to select from. Pick one. Please be sure you draw your face from a different ANGLE.
And here is a blog entry that shows the difference between doing this stuff well, and doing what comes naturally.

See you Tuesday!


Monday, February 28, 2011

Here's a very international site that touches on things that we're all interested in: Comics, illustration, digital illustration, gaming, caricature, etc. What's more, it has a workable way of letting readers sample and buy digital comics ($.99 to $1.50). It's free to join and can be a place to display your art, like a more professional deviantart.

(To my surprise, I found posted in the Comics section a book I'd colored with the more-than-able aid of a young Jeremy Saliba and Julian Meyer several years back. "Chrissie Claus," if you must know.)

I also "discovered" a couple new artists I admire. Chief among them is Corrado Mastantuono. This guy is incredible! He can do beautifully stylized bigfoot/funny animal stuff as well as virtuoso realistic work. Europe's ability to generate awesome talents who go totally unheralded in the US is astonishing. It is comforting to think that in the coming years, I will increasingly have my own good taste and the internet to thank for my exposure to great artists from the world over, rather than the army of visually illiterate post-collegiate yutzes who edit comics in this country standing as gatekeepers.

And there's Damien Dunn, A skilled digital and pencil artist who does eye-grabbing caricature (See his awesome Jimi Hendrix in the scrolling art on the homepage). He's only in his mid-20s. Ya ask me, he oughta be a little more careful about covering his digital tracks--a lot of his pictures seem to start with his applying the Photoshop Liquify tools to photos. Which is fine. If he didn't have a good eye for creating the distortion, he wouldn't be such a good caricaturist. But sometimes you can spot bits of a piece that are clearly unadulterated parts of the original photo, which casts all his work in a slightly curdled light. But it is fun as hell to look at.

I'll bet there are a lot more great artists to be discovered there, alongside familiar greats like Dave Johnson, for example. It reminds me of the earlier days of, when it was still chiefly for pro-level photos and not a digital shoebox for people to hold their drinking pictures in. (Your five fat girlfriends drunk in Senor Frog's, 2005? Fuck, yeah! Load 'em all up!).


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pitch Basket!!

For those of you who don't want to do either a pet project pitch or pro samples, here are synopses of the various available original pitches. If you choose one, I will contact the writer to re-secure their permission, and find out if they have any interest in working with you on it, giving feedback.

Short Hand -- A young man with psychic powers has Progeria (sp?), a disease which makes you look 70 at age 17. The original "old soul," he helps the police solve crimes. Dialogue-driven, its script is mainly that,  running to 10 pp. so far. Very sharp writing.
Capers -- (for kids) three kids find a crash-landed alien ship. The dying pilot gives them amulets that transform each into superheroes that are adult superhero versions of themselves. Their first villain: Two headed crime-boss One-Man Mob. In plot form (Marvel-style), with some early visual development. Would make a good animated series.
Quantum Sue -- Humorous sci-fi with a Jewish female lead. She forms a team drawn from different dimensions to preserve earth life from a marauding agent of universal destruction, ala Galactus.
Human Conspiracy -- A tongue-in-cheek genre-bender; adventure, detective, s-f, western all in one. Full Script.
Brain Suckers of Venus--Humorous retro sci-fi -- full scr.
Null and Boyd -- Bloody, gruesome crime saga set in Boston with a central character who feels no pain, little emotion and should by rights be dead. In full novella form currently.
Andy's War -- AW is the story of a man named Andrew Tillman who has the ability to read the history of people and objects. He's a young African-American guy. Set in Vietnam. Concise full script, currently running to 9 pp., but expandable to a series pitch.
Tiger Moth -- the NYPD, breaking up a gun-running operation, discovers at its center a human with odd powers (superhuman fighting skills, flame touch, rapid healing). She say she's 30,000 years old and the Mother of Man. She takes on a shadowy cult called the Brotherhood which has for centuries been close to the seats of power, manipulating world events for its own gain. She is determined to defeat them, via means fair and foul. Set mostly in NYC -- Exists only as a pitch at present. This is one that a student might have a great role in shaping, esp.visually.
Lizard Planet --Goofy Sci-fi. Space Travelers from the Bronx colonize a distant planet, civilizing the sentient lizards there. full script
Worlds of Blood -- Bloody military adventure with an alternate-earths twist. Full of cataclysm and genocides across several worlds which intersect suddenly. Some of those worlds are semi-familiar, some bizarre and s-f-ish. Robert Kennedy is President of an alternate Earth and is a central character. This is a sprawling thing, like The Ultimates, and calls for an artist with cinematic sensibility and strong design skills.
Lust Among the Ruins -- Frazettaesque space fantasy with robots, mutants, sexy lead characters. Currently exists only as plot for a 7-pp.comic-book story. You and the writer could discuss what elements to keep for an ongoing series.

A few of these have some early visual development work done on them. You could see or not see that material; you are certainly not bound by it.


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

AH Spills Tricks--A Must-See

I think Adam Hughes is probably the greatest comics cover guy ever. The only serious rivals I see are Joe Kubert and some of the EC people (Wally Wood, Jack Davis), whose approaches and aims are different. Hughes keeps raising the bar.

So, unbelievably, the online art supply vendor Jerry's Artarama has on their site three videos of AH telling how he does stuff! Free! Another thing that's unbelievable is how absurdly hi-def these videos are. They could be projected onto the moon. They take a long, long time to load.

Winningly, the Master is actually detectably a bit nervous on camera (I can more than relate; I'm horrible on video, but as Winston Churchill might have said, I have much to be horrible about)-- ironic, when you consider his skills and status. (He says "refract" when he means "reflect" for instance.)

I'm still downloading the second and third, but the first, on eyes, was well worth the wait.


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

It's Worth More Than This...

Good news from the world of publishing. Great news, really: Andrew Loomis' Figure Drawing for All It's Worth is coming back into print at the end of May! Too late to help us in this semester, but still huge.

This book is as good as it gets for a pure illustrator's guide to the figure -- as opposed to the figure-drawing-form-life discipline, which is of course related, but there are many good books on that. Loomis was an illustrator, meaning that he could work out of his head, but would use photos or models as needed  to assure a convincing result. In keeping with the aims of this class, his book stressed the principles and the feel of figure drawing so that one could learn it at a deep level, and thus work from the imagination. It is a wonderful book, as all of Loomis' were. He was without equal as an illustrator's how-to author--the perfect combination of scholarship and virtuosity.

This book has been out of print, in its original form, for many, many years. Surviving copies tend to go for about $300 or more. You can preorder it from Amazon for a super-reasonable $23.08, save a giant 42% and get Poor Old Teacher a little kickback from Amazon by clicking on the link at right!


P.S.: Thanks to my good pal and fellow long-time Elvira artist Ronn Sutton for the tip.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Let's Get Started!

Welcome to Comics 2, ILL 292, Spring 2011! Please click on this link for details of the assignment and examples of thumbnails and layouts--some by the great Frank Miller! (UPDATE, 5Feb: I have cleared up the image-display issues you may have encountered earlier)


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Facial Expression

The fussy, glossy style doesn't really appeal to me (nor does the surfeit of false modesty), but these expression drawings are excellent, reminiscent of that guy who does Blacksad-- plus there's commendable attention to the underlying principles too.

That artist Tracy Butler begins by knocking and mocking common goofs and cliches ("Smarm Brow" indeed) is a lot more endearing to me than all that affected self-bashing.  Ladies, can ya quit this?