I did the illustration above in 1997 for a syndicated radio show called “Backtrax USA”, which played retro music from the 1980’s. I don’t like doing logos but in this case the logo was provided and my task was to add caricatures of some iconic 80’s rock stars and the shows host Kid Kelly. This was one of my earliest digital color illustrations, I think. I shortly thereafter abandoned the “airbrush” tool in PhotoShop and started using regular brushes with pressure-sensitive opacity settings to get a more watercolor-like look.
The original agreement was for use on promotional items like mousepads and T-shirts, but just a few months later the original client contacted me to purchase full copyrights to the image. I was happy to do that, and I have seen the illustration on a CD jewel case cover for “The Best of Backtrax USA” album and on the web including Backtrax USA’s official facebook page.
Six years ago I had my wife, The Lovely Anna, be my first (and last) guest blogger here on The MAD Blog. She wrote the following post about being the wife of a freelancer which I am reposting today because I am still on vacation (with The Lovely Anna) so I don’t have time to write and neither does she. All she says here is still true over six years later except we’ve now been married 26 years, all our kids are graduated from high school and either off living life or going to college (except The Animated Elizabeth, who will be home with us forever), and I still haven’t let her try and ink my word balloons again:
My husband Tom asked me to do him a favor.
This is not unusual, most days, at least once, I get a request for a favor. Usually it’s to help with paper work, run to the bank or post office, or deliver supplies to one of our booths. Being that I can’t draw or even ink the boxes for his MAD pages, (Yes, this was attempted and I failed miserably) I try to help out where and when I can. Anything so that he can keep working on the deadline. Today’s favor had to do with The MAD Blog. He is trying to finish up a big MAD job, and doesn’t have time to write any meaningful posts right now, so he asked: “Can you write a post about being married to a freelancer? You’ll be my first ‘guest blogger’. Go ahead and make fun of me.” So…
Hi! My name is The Lovely Anna, and I am the wife of a freelance illustrator (Insert Hi Lovely Anna! here). No, there is no support group for spouses of freelance illustrators, or bloggers, or foundation board members, or computer nerds, or caricature artists. There isn’t even one for spouses of members of “The Usual Gang of Idiots”. Even if there was, I probably wouldn’t join. I would get so co-dependent. I would spend all my free time trying to save all the poor women whose husbands are always at their drawing boards, because they can’t say no when the phone rings. I would be trying to help them figure out the best way to get Dr. Martin’s India Ink out of studio carpets. I would have to make a website, listing all of the best hotels in the world with bathrooms big enough to ink in during the middle of the night while the rest of the family sleeps. I would have to help them with meal preparations, making sure that they can find good recipes for things that can be re-heated when it takes FOREVER for their artist in residence to come to the dinner table. These poor women! Someone has to help them! How can they be expected to live like this?? Oh, wait… I live like this. Yeah, I’m not good at support groups, I always try to save every body else from my everyday life.
What is it like to be married to a freelance artist?
- Pro: He is always at home.
- Con: He is always at home.
- Pro: He sets his own hours.
- Con: His hours are 24/7.
- Pro: He is very creative and humorous.
- Con: He thinks he is funny.
- Pro: He is so talented, his phone rings off the hook.
- Con: He answers every call.
- Pro: He was there for every first step, first word, dance recital, baseball game, concert and taught all the kids how to ride their bikes.
- Cons: None
Tom is a workaholic. He loves to draw. He loves his computer, and was born to blog. He spends more time in his studio than out. At times, he has problems with time management, but shutting off the phone and turning off the computer usually puts him back on course. He has never missed a deadline, even when it meant missing sleep. Our house is so far from the norm, but it’s all we know. We have been married 20 years this month, and I have always been lucky enough to be a stay at home mom. Tom has always had something on the drawing board, or was working at one of the parks to make sure we have everything we need and I was able to be home with the kids. Tom has learned to block out the everyday events happening upstairs, and I have learned to pretend that he is not home. We check in with each other many times a day, and sometimes even sneak away for a lunch together.
I would recommend marrying a freelance illustrator to anyone lucky enough to fall in love with one.
It’s worked for me so far.
The Lovely Anna is the long suffering wife of Tom and mother of four… five if you count Elizabeth twice. She graciously agreed to write this guest blog post to spare readers another appearance of the “Dreaded Deadline Demon” and Tom didn’t even have to bring up the afore mentioned “trying to ink the word balloon boxes on a MAD job” incident to guilt her into it.
Not exactly from MAD this week but rather an odd MAD-releated job from Warner Bros Consumer Products, which to my knowledge has never been used. WB has contracted me in the past to do a number of Alfred E. Neuman illustrations they use on various products. I did one for the International Spy Museum, and several as seasonal Alfred images like for St. Paddy’s Day and Halloween. This one was (I think) also for Halloween a few years ago, but it was never explained to me what the specific use was supposed to be. It’s a pretty bizarre concept- an Alfred/Little Red Riding Hood mash-up. I sketched up some ideas… some with Alfred as Red and some as the wolf (clicky any of the image below to embiggen…):
and the final:
Again… not sure this was ever used for anything. Kind of a weird concept…. fun illustration job, though!
Q: How’s your finger healing? I have to imagine that was a little scary… did it limit your work and are you having any lasting effects?
A: If you are not a FaceBook friend of mine, you are probably wondering “what did you do to your finger?” Well, here’s the story… Warning: graphic photos to follow.
Late last month The Lovely Anna, The Animated Elizabeth and I took a short trip down to my old hometown of La Crescent, MN for my 30th high school class reunion. We stayed with my dad and step-mom’s place in nearby La Crosse, WI. The morning of my reunion, I was having breakfast when my dad mentioned he wanted to get rid of his old, large, tube TV in his basement and get a new flat screen. The Lovely Anna turned to me and said “Go move that TV for your dad, that’s what those muscles are for.” So, down I went with my dad to try and get this thing up the stairs and into the garage.
Tube TVs are huge and very heavy. This was a 36 inch behemoth which weighed over 200 lbs. My dad is 73, and while he tried to take one end of the TV he just couldn’t do it. We had to put it down at the bottom of the stairs going up from the basement. Rather than doing the smart thing and waiting until dad could find someone else to come and help, I just lifted the entire TV and carried it up the stairs myself.
For the record, I handled the weight just fine. I routinely deadlift well over 300 lbs in the gym. The problem came about as I was going out the door into the garage. I could not see my hands as the TV was too big and was right in my face. On the way through the doorway, and smashed my right hand between the TV and the door lever.
I yelled “OWWW!”
My dad yelled “DON’T DROP THE TV!!!”
I’m just kidding about that last one. Dad was much more concerned about my getting blood on the rug… he was getting rid of the TV.
Anyway, Everyone tried to help me with the TV, but you don’t exactly help anyone with a 200 plus TV in their arms unless you can actually take the TV from them, which no one could. I slowly went down to my knees and put the TV on the floor. Then I looked at the damage to my right hand. What I saw was about a 3/4 inch gap in my skin just above the knuckle of my right index finger. Interestingly enough, there was no blood at all. I could clearly see into that gap. What I saw was my knuckle, and one dark red ribbon-like thing stretching along side of it. That was a tendon.
We were off to the hospital 2 minutes later.
If you have a strong stomach, click on the “read more” link and you’ll see some pictures. Read the rest of this entry >
Well, nothing is in front of me since I am currently on my way to the Caribbean for a well-deserved vacation, but there’s plenty on the old drawing board awaiting my return:
- MAD 20 piece- 1 pager. This will be the first issue of MAD since #520 back in April of 2013 without a movie or TV parody drawn by me in it!
- Z-People Comic- Wrapping up the first chapter!
- Jeff Dunham Illustrations- He’s been keeping me busy lately. The latest are product illustrations for his new Las Vegas show.
- Marlin Poster- My usual monthly assignment
Speaking of The Marlin Co., above is the final art on my piece for publication in December, the pencil sketch of which I posted some weeks ago.
Here’s another original ink and watercolor illustration I did for Snow Country Magazine about 1996 or so. I think the big guy in the middle was some kind of agent or doctor or trainer for skiing stars, but I can’t remember the exact circumstances with the article. The other guys are famous skiers from the late 80’s early 90’s.
The one thing I hated about ink and watercolor was how the paint would cloud up the black line work. What I would do was to paint the color in on the pencil drawing, THEN go in with the inks on top of the color. That was awkward and I didn’t use that technique very long, but the few experiments I had using the old comic book blue line/film pos overlay method were disastrous thanks to the clients not having a clue how to color separate that kind of work.
By the end of the 90’s I was 100% digital with color. No more bad color separations or trying to ink on top of color.
I wrote the following on the NCS Website yesterday, but I thought it should be shared here also:
October is National Bullying Prevention Month in the United States. Founded in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, October is the month when communities nationwide focus efforts to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention. Over 30 cartoonists lend their voices to the fight against bullying in this “Flip Comic” book Bullying is No Laughing Matter that helps educate readers about this problem that is being called a “national epidemic”.
The book has two halves, printed so you “flip” the book over to read each half as the front story. In “Bullying is No Laughing Matter”, cartoons ranging from comic books to comic strips and panels that relate to bullying are collected, with background on the “scene” depicted and comments from the creators. The cartoons are designed to spark conversation about bullying and get readers understanding that is is not just a normal part of growing up, but something that needs to be addressed and dealt with. Among the many cartoonists who contributed work to the book are NCS Reuben winners Brian Crane, Greg Evans, Lynn Johnston, and Mort Walker. This half of the book ends with a moving story by 15 year old bullying “survivor” (as she likes to refer to her experience, as opposed to using the term “victim”) Camille Paddock, followed by information on what constitutes bullying and what you can do about it.
The other half of the book starts with a comic book style story by cartoonist Kurt J. Kolka called “Wrath of the Warthog: A Bullying Story”, starring Kolka’s superhero character “The Cardinal”. The story is a lesson about taking responsibility for how we treat other people, and rising above the kind of life circumstances that can create bullies. Following the adventures of The Cardinal is another comic book story, this one originally published in 1945 featuring “Daredevil and the Little Wise Guys” by Charles Biro, which tells a related tale of bullying and finally taking a stand when things go too far.
It’s a positive message, and one that needs spreading” bullying is not acceptable behavior. You can get more information by visiting this website.