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  • Listening to: Peter Hammill
  • Reading: Nothing
  • Watching: How I Met Your Mother
  • Eating: baked potatoes
  • Drinking: iced roasted green tea
NYC: Special Edition is this Saturday and Sunday!  I'm in Artist Alley at table L14 doing sketch commissions and selling original pages.  Hope to see some DA folks there! 
  • Listening to: Pere Ubu "Synth Farm"
  • Reading: Charles Burchfield's Seasons
  • Watching: Shameless
  • Eating: Tofu stir-fry
  • Drinking: Genmai cha
This Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 7th and 8th) I'll be at the Baltimore Comic-con in artist alley at the Imperium Comics table.  Stop by for a sketch or to say hi!
  • Listening to: Sparks "Woofer in Tweeter's..."
  • Reading: Ruse by Beatty and Guice
  • Watching: Community
  • Eating: Tofu stir-fry
  • Drinking: Stillwater Beer
I'll be in West Reading at 1UP Collectibles doing sketches most of the day! goo.gl/1Rm2g  Stop by if you can!
  • Listening to: Telex "Baby When?"
  • Reading: Leigh Brackett's Empire script
  • Watching: The Bachelor (?!)
  • Eating: carrots and peanut butter
  • Drinking: Bigelow Sweet Dreams tea
What's new?

Had a great time at the Clarks Summit con.  It was surprisingly busy for a cold Sunday afternoon in an out of the way town.  Got to meet some real nice folks and do some fun sketches.  Only did a few personal commissions...the rest were just random characters I drew as samples during the con.  I kept wanting to say, "Hey, don't buy those, they're just samples!  I'll draw anyone you want."  Then again, there's a 90% chance they'll want the same usual suspects.  Neal Adams saw my Logan piece when he stopped by my table.  "They're always drawing Wolverine," he said with a sigh.

Speaking of popular characters...while I didn't win the Threadless Spider-man contest, the folks at Threadless selected my design as one of the alternates.  So, if you're in the market for Spider-man apparel, have I got a shirt you'll love: www.threadless.com/product/457…  Can't pick a favorite Spidey villain?  Who says you have to.  They're all here.  :)

Wrapping up the "Mask of the Red Panda" project in the next week or so.  Decoder Ring Theatre and old time radio fans should be familiar with ol' Red and will really get a kick out of the 3 (BIG) issue series written by charming Canuck creator Gregg Taylor with pencils and inks by yours truly.  The first issue should be out Feb. 27 from Monkeybrain comics. (www.monkeybraincomics.com/)  It's in glorious black and white!  I'll post a link when it's live.

Ithaca (www.ithacacomic.com/), is still updating on a weekly basis.  A nice big chunk of the story is up if you haven't checked it out yet.  Written by Emily Hall, layouts by Jeremy Mohler, and penciled an inked by me.  

Black Coat: The Blackest Dye pages are in the works.  Kickstarter backers already caught a sneak peek.  More are on the way.

Hey, my buddy Eric's novella, Gil's Grimoire and The Library of Doom!, is up for free on Amazon (www.amazon.com/Zeros-Library-D… and B&N (www.barnesandnoble.com/w/two-z…  It's FREE and it's a fun read.  Go download it already!
  • Listening to: Vangelis "Memories of Green"
  • Reading: Ultimate X-men vol. 16
  • Eating: olives
  • Drinking: whiskey and club soda
Thanks SOO much to everyone who supported and promoted the Black Coat Kickstarter!  We made our goal a couple hours ago and finished up almost a thousand bucks over.  You've helped a great little indie book keep chugging along and have kept this scribbler busy with paying work for at least a couple more months.  I can't thank you enough, and I really hope to make the book something special.  

2012 really sucked for me and this gets the new year off to a great start...Cha Cha 2013! (that's for you La Dusseldorf fans)

Cheers!
  • Listening to: Be Bop Deluxe "Heavenly Homes"
  • Reading: "The Knightsbridge Mystery"
  • Eating: cookies
  • Drinking: a hot toddy
Only 5 days left to fund a new Black Coat series!   goo.gl/h5h1o 5 days left and still $7000 short!  I'm getting very nervous we're not going to make it.  We're offering a lot of GREAT rewards to contributors.  If you're already a backer, please help us spread the word.  Thanks!
  • Listening to: Captain Sensible "Glad it's All Over&quo
  • Reading: Robinson Crusoe
  • Eating: Bananas
  • Drinking: Coffee with pumpkin spice creamer
...and not halfway yet!  Ben's added a lot of cool rewards and bonuses to a lot of levels.  Practice your best Tarzan yell and swing by: www.kickstarter.com/projects/6… to check 'em out.  

If you contribute you'll get a lot of cool reading material and swag, and you'll be helping a couple of guys make comics for people who love comics.  

The Black Coat isn't a movie pitch, licensed cash grab, or a marketing gimmick.  It just wants to be a comic book that tells an exciting story.  Remember those?  :)
  • Listening to: "Animal Magic" by Peter Gabriel
  • Reading: Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain
  • Eating: Grape Nuts
  • Drinking: Tab
Visit me in Artist Alley at New York Comic Con this Friday thru Sunday.  I'll be doing sketches and selling prints and originals.  My table number: AA5A   

So many A's....maybe it's a sign.  Someone's seen my yellow liver or wants me to play for the farm team.

See you at the show!
  • Listening to: Ralf & Florian
  • Reading: Kraftwerk: From Dusseldorf to the Future
  • Eating: gallo pinto
  • Drinking: coffee with silk creamer
...is tomorrow and I'll be spending my day sketching at 1up Collectibles in West Reading, PA (www.1upcollectibles.com/).&nbs… you're anywhere near that neck of the woods, swing by after 10am and say hi.  It's their home turf, so the Trailer Park of Terror guys will be there.  I'm sure a panoply of other creators will be, too.  As an added incentive: free with every sketch-my 20 second Avengers movie review!!
  • Listening to: Wall of Voodoo
  • Reading: the list of ingredients
  • Eating: raisin bran
  • Drinking: almond milk
I'll be in New York this weekend for the very thrilling NEW YORK COMIC CON.  Yes, all caps.  Table C16 in artist alley.  Stop by if you get a minute.  Which, according to Johnny Carson, is only a second within city limits.

And how do you change the header to journals in this new DA?  It's been so long since my last journal my raisin bran is soggy.
  • Listening to: Wall of Voodoo
  • Reading: the list of ingredients
  • Eating: raisin bran
  • Drinking: almond milk
Wow, I can't believe the New York Comic Con is this coming weekend!  Feels likes its only been 19 months since the last one!  

If you're attending, please visit me in Artists Alley (Table N-11).  I'll be doing sketches and selling some books, originals, and prints.  

Trust me, I'm much more attractive in person. :)
  • Listening to: Hohokam
  • Reading: Journey by W. Messner-Loebs
  • Eating: Rice Pilaf
  • Drinking: Fruit Punch Kool-Aid
Just wanted to say thanks to all the new Watchers, visitors, and everyone who has faved the Donkey Kong/Batman mash-up.  I really appreciate all the new folks swinging by and looking at my stuff.  And extra special thanks to whomever posted it on 4colorrebellion, gonintendo, and kotaku.  You guys really made my day.
  • Listening to: Symphony of Science
  • Reading: The Virginian by Owen Wister
  • Eating: spaghetti
  • Drinking: black tea
Recently some folks have asked me for commissions, and I figure I might as well post my rates for anyone else interested:

9"x12" 1 figure ink wash $30 (see Rogue, Captain Marvel, etc. in my gallery for samples)
9"x12" 2 figures ink wash $50

Anything larger than 9"x12": rate on request

Prices include shipping in the US and my turnaround time is never more than 3-4 days.  Paypal only.

If anyone's interested, send me a note!
  • Listening to: Julian Cope "Jehovahkill"
  • Reading: Middle Ages by Morris Bishop
  • Eating: from the Yakitori Boy menu
  • Drinking: Philly Brewing's Joe Porter
I think media are at their most interesting before anybody's thought of calling them "art".  When people still think they're just a load of junk.

--Douglas Adams



plug time:  Black Coat: Or Give Me Death #1/#2 comes out this Wednesday (11/11).  Pick it up, or ask your local shop.
  • Listening to: Yes "And You and I"
  • Reading: Blackhawk ('89 series) issue 4
  • Eating: Manchego and bread
  • Drinking: Morning Thunder tea
Just got back from a trip to Spain, Barcelona and Sevilla specifically.  The amount of gorgeous buildings crammed into those two cities is unbelievable.  By the second half of the trip I experienced that same art museum feeling I mentioned in my last journal; I reached a saturation point and just couldn‘t look at any more beautiful buildings.  My brain was full and needed a head-cleaner or something.  So, putting our cameras away, we (Melanie and I) just relaxed, strolled, and enjoyed the Spanish sun.

Of course, it couldn’t last.  We were crammed into a 767 with a bunch of sweatpants-wearing boors, and, as we cruised West over the Atlantic, the visions of gardens and  palaces faded away.  Were we ever there?  Does beauty even exist?  What?  Sorry, I couldn’t hear you over that jerk shouting for more peanuts.

Real quick: gotta love a country where you can just order a “beer” (well, a cerveza) and the bartender will just give you one.  Try doing that here.  Was at Doc Watson’s a couple weeks ago (hey, they got a nice happy hour) and I saw a guy, a tourist that couldn’t speak much English,  approach the bar and say, “Beer.”  The bartender was stone-faced.  The tourist said again, “Beer.”  Now the attitude comes.  The bartender wipes the bar with his rag and goes, “What KIND of BEER do you want?”  Geezus, such hospitality.  The guy probably came a thousand miles to spend money at your bar.  Just give him a Yuengling or a Bud or whatever the happy hour special is.  What’s he gonna say, “Hey, man, this ain’t no beer!”  (Personally there are times when I think Yuengling is more piss than beer, but I digress.)  

Anyway, plugs:

Boom! Studios put out Poe #3 last week.  Go snag a copy if you can.  

The Black Coat: Or Give Me Death #3 is available for preorder in the latest Previews.  Tell your neighborhood retailer before the month's over.  It's in the Ape Entertainment section.
  • Listening to: "I Hate to Eat Alone" by 10CC
  • Reading: "A Boy and His Dog" by Ellison
  • Eating: Fake hot dogs w/German mustard
  • Drinking: Wylers diet lemonade
Before I get to my shameless plugs for upcoming books...

Here's a brief excerpt from Leonard Rifas's interview with Cat Yronwode in COMICS INTERVIEW #23 (circa 1985).  I was reading it on the train to Atlantic City the other day and really dug some of Cat's thoughts on comic art.  For those who don't know, Cat was the Editor-in-Chief of Eclipse Comics. So smart.

Cat: "...there are a lot of younger readers who feel that in graduating from childhood to adolescence they have to pay lip service to the idea that good art is complex art.  That good art is highly rendered art.  They won't even pick up ZOT!  They would rather have a Perez drawing with all of that tiny-tiny detail.  I'm not singling out Perez, I like Perez's work, but it's a different style.  Then later when these kids become adults and are secure that it's okay to like comics, the can go back to a simple, open style like Scott(Mcloud's)and say, "this is all perfect," or they can go to a style like Dan Spiegle's-and still like George Perez too."

Leonard: "That thing about kids showing their maturity by going for the heavily rendered stuff.  That seemed to be one of the big problems that the underground comix sank into...it seems that the mainstream comics are now sinking into that same hole."

Cat: "Yes, it ends up with rococo or baroque.  It's a pseudo-sophistication which in the end becomes mannerism.  Now I'm also a sucker for rendering because I can't do it...I like too many styles to become hung up on any one approach to art."

That part at the end seems even more valid today.  Flippin' through the current Previews is like walking through the 18th century wing of an art museum.  It will give you a headache if you stay too long.

Speaking of the current Previews (August), two books drawn by me are available.  

Under the APE ENTERTAINMENT section you'll find a listing for The Black Coat "Or Give Me Death"  combo issue #1 and #2.  I drew issue #2.  Written and colored by Ben Lichius.  Ben really knows how to write pulp action.  It was a challenge trying to capture the excitement of his script, but, man was it fun.  Preorder it from your local shop as soon as you can.

Under BOOM! Studios you'll see the 4th and final issue of Poe.  It's my favorite of the series and definitely worth picking up for horror fans or those who like 19th century period pieces.  J. Barton Mitchell wrote a really emotional ending that doesn't leave anything hanging.  Check it out.

Wow.  Never thought I'd have a single book in Previews, let alone two in one month.

I feel like a lucky bastard.
  • Listening to: "Heart of the Country" by Ultravox
  • Reading: The War with Hannibal by Livy
  • Eating: Celery
  • Drinking: Box wine and Diet Coke
So last Wednesday I was heading to the center city TLA video store, yes, the very same TLA where I once overhead a yuppie on his cell-phone exclaim, "I'm at the movie shop!".  "Movie Shop", my ass.  It's a friggin' video store.  

Yes, the very same video store where I once saw a girl eating Cheez Doodles leave bright orange fingerprints on all the New Release DVD cases.  She'd plop a doodle in her mouth and then, before she reached back into the bag, would vigorously rub her thumb and forefinger together dusting the carpet with cheesy ashes like an overzealous Minnesota Fats chalking his cue.

If the above sentence has you thinking dirty thoughts, that's all on you.  Yes, you in the last row...glasses, red blouse.  Question?  What movie?  Oh,right, I was returning "The Party".  The one where Peter Sellers plays an Indian actor lost in the wilds of an LA...well, party, actually.  For folks who think actors playing outside their race or ethnicity is offensive, I submit the above performance as exhibit "A" in my argument for said folks stupidity.

So I'm walking past the Rosenwald-Wolf gallery on Broad Street (part of the UArts) and I suddenly remember...they've got a Richard Amsel exhibit!  (This is why I love living in the city, I'd have forgotten all about this otherwise, and who wants to find parking?)

Amsel was a phenomenally talented designer and you almost never realize how many film posters the man did in his (relatively) short career.  He was a strong undercurrent in the design landscape of the 70s.  They have some gorgeous finished pieces, but the stars of the show are all the thumbnails and comps that are invaluable to process junkies and anyone who's studying design.  I mean, when will you ever be able to see both FIRST thumbnails for the original Raiders of the Lost Ark poster AND the 82 re-release side by side.  And then turn your head and realize the final pieces are nearly identical to the thumbnails.  Mind-blowing.

The show only runs till May 14th, so I encourage anyone in the Philadelphia area to hurry up and get to the gallery.  I'd leave the Cheez Doodles at home.  They frown on that sorta thing at fancy "Picture Exhibitions."
  • Listening to: Younger Than Yesterday by the Byrds
  • Reading: Dealers of Lightning by Hiltzik
  • Eating: pineapple and oatbran
  • Drinking: Theraflu
Story goes, Harry Nilsson was a bank clerk in Los Angeles while he struggled to start his music career. Every morning for 5 years he got up, put on a tie, and headed off for the bank.  Probably took a bus.  At night he wrote songs for the LA publishing houses and recorded demos.  He sang for some commercials and even wrote a minor hit for the Monkees.  

Finally he capitalized on his resume with RCA and released his first full-length record, Pandemonium Shadow Show.  Owing quite a bit to the studio psychedelia of Sgt. Pepper, the record featured some inspired Beatles covers.   Turns out, a couple of guys named Lennon and McCartney really dug it and started talking it up in their interviews.  They went so far as to say this Nilsson was their favorite American singer.  The record started to really sell.  

Don't know exactly when, but shortly thereafter, and, bear with me, this is the whole point of the story, Harry's manager calls him up.

For some reason I imagine the scene taking place one sunny California morning.  I picture Harry alone in his bungalow wearing one of his signature bathrobes.  He's probably just shaved.  His suit's pressed, laid out on the bed.  As he pours himself a cup of coffee and sits down at his kitchen table, you know, the kind with the bright flower print Formica top and shiny chrome legs, the phone rings.   

Harry: "Hello."

Harry's Manager: "You can quit the bank, Harry!"

Had to be the best goddamn phone call he ever got.

Flu knocked me on my ass this past Monday night.  Two full days stuck in bed.  A third stuck at home.  Still not back to full speed and, there's work to make up with the day job.  Worst part is I feel so LAZY.  Haven't been able to sit at the drawing board all week, but I'm trying to put a positive spin on it.  I'm "catching up on my reading".  Yeah, right.

I mostly blame the whirlwind that was NYCC for making me sick.  Those 3 days FLEW by and took the roof right off the barn.  Loads of fun, and a chance to meet some new folks and reconnect with prior acquaintances.  But, heck, I didn't get to meet some people I was hoping to (Where the hell were you Fridolfs?  I looked everywhere!) and, being the shy sorta fella I am, it wasn't exactly a networking success.

Made the publisher rounds and dropped off portfolios all day Friday.  On Saturday I somehow made the DC callback list and got to sit down with a certain senior VP who had some very positive things to say about my work, and, of course, some criticisms here and there.  He told me he'd be honest: my work was too "old-fashioned" for what DC was looking for right now.  Maybe I could modernize my approach or maybe this current style was my true self.  Either way he encouraged me to follow up with him in a few months and said he liked my stuff and had just wanted to meet me.  I was really flattered by the whole experience but also a little confused.  

I never really think about "my style".  I mean, you can't force it.  I definitely don't believe I have a very distinctive style, rather, I always figured my work ended up a bad melange of Caniff, Wrightson, Rogers, Coll, Lindsay, Wagner, Sickles, Jones, Alcala, Krigstein, Aparo, Draut, and a dozen others filtered through too many years reading books drawn by Byrne and, shudder to think, Milgrom.  An awkward quivering multi-hued Jell-o casserole with dinosaur bones floating where marshmallows should be.  Should I start consciously shifting my working methods toward a more contemporary look?  Definitely something to ponder these past fever-stricken, bed-ridden days.

Other highlights from the con: manning the Imperium table while James ran to a few panels, experiencing the enigma that is Bob Burden, and, without a doubt, lunch with Ben while we discussed the current state and future of the Black Coat (more on that later).  Got a few deals on some art books (including a gorgeous Jeff Jones monograph) and, a rather odd collection of Dark Shadows newspaper strips from the Seventies.

Needless to say, the con was inspiring, and now, creatively recharged, I desperately just want to get back to the drawing board.  If only I could kick this flu.  

Doctor, ain't there somethin' I can take...
  • Listening to: Roy Harris's Symphony #3
  • Reading: see below
  • Eating: too many cookies
  • Drinking: too many hot toddies
Ah, the holidays.  When the minds of children fill with visions of cheap plastic electronics and the games to play on them.

Nah, nah, I take that back.  I'll not be a cynic this time of year.  I'll try to enjoy all the season has to offer.  In fact,to help me get in the mood, I'm gonna reread one of my favorite short novels.  It's become something of a holiday tradition.  I make a hot toddy, grab a blanket and snuggle up with the only piece of prose that can help me truly appreciate the dizzying parties, the caroling strangers, the nipping cold, and the unfathomable amount of cookies:

"At the Mountains of Madness"

TEKE LI-LI!  TEKE LI-LI!

(happy holidays)
  • Listening to: Mick Karn "Titles"
  • Reading: Sinclair Lewis "Main Street"
  • Eating: Alu Chollay
  • Drinking: Tommyknocker Cocoa Porter
I don't own a cell-phone and mentioned as much to a coworker recently.  "How do you survive?" he asked.  Well, just fine, really.  As fine as everyone else did until the damn things were invented.  Heck, I might be surviving better.  I'd be happy not even having a house phone.  In fact, in a perfect world, I'd give people the number to a payphone at one of the nearby bars and have one of the regular patrons take messages for me.  Maybe stop in once a week to collect them.  Have a round or two.

Less distractions.  Better yet, none.  I often fantasize about living in rural America circa 1920 where the only distractions are a passing flock of geese or a strong wind stripping bloomers from the wash line.  Imagine the reading you could catch up on!  The clarity of your thoughts!

All this relates to why I don't post or reply on DA very often.  It's not for lack of interest or enthusiasm.  It's just…I can't do it.  I'll start commenting on deviations and reading journals and following favs and before you know it…there goes an hour.  Or two.  So, I don't let myself get caught in it's web.   I check out the deviations and journals of folks I watch and then I push myself away from the table.

Problem: there's no back cover to the internet.  No point where you hit the end, pause, and reflect.  It just keeps flowing by.  Guess that's why it's all "streaming" this and that.  Is there a way to have some of the regulars at the bar surf the net for me?  I'll stop in once a week and they'll give me the highlights.  Have a round or two.

Just saw the lettered proofs for "the Dispatch", a short I drew for the new Outlaw Territory anthology from Image.  Looked great.  The books running a little behind schedule but should be out in a couple weeks.  Still time to order from your local shop.  Lot of big name folks in the book.   Worth checking out.

Funny thing though: the "Dispatch" story is an 8 pager I drew almost a year ago.  Production time on modern comics is becoming glacial.   Just seems that for all the ease with which we send artwork and scripts via the internet, it doesn't seem to make comics come out any faster.  Used to be, what, 4 months production time before press?  I could be wrong.  And I definitely don't say this to pick on Michael (Woods, the editor for Outlaw whose a great guy who put together a very stellar group of stories) or any of the other folks I work with.  It's the nature of the industry as a whole.   

I know Stephen Grant ranted about this increasingly excessive production time awhile back in his Permanent Damage column over at CBR.  If I  recall correctly, he felt all these delays were hamstringing one of the medium's core strengths: immediacy.  He argued we should work to make comics faster and more responsive to both creator and culture.  Without having to rely on the post office, there's no reason a page can't be written and drawn one day, lettered and colored the next, and ready for press on the 3rd.  But, I'm REALLY paraphrasing his point.  His column's infinitely more insightful and always worth a read.   

Other day I came across  this quote from Noel Sickles (illustrator of Scorchy Smith fame and the guy who taught Caniff how to REALLY draw):

"You get the feeling of the thing through the technique, but technique has nothing to do with it.  Technique is only a tool to get over the most direct way you can do something…Reality comes from the feeling of the damn thing.  Drawing's the only way you can get that feeling.  But you have to go beyond jus the drawing or the technique.  You have to get in there and feel the thing yourself."

See, I just distracted you.  

And look, some geese heading south...