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Sunday Mailbag- How’s the Finger?

October 26th, 2014

Sunday Mailbag!

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 >

On the Drawing Board- 10/24/14

October 24th, 2014

Santa SelfieClicky to Embiggen…

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.

Illustration Throwback Thursday #7

October 23rd, 2014

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Clicky to embiggen…

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.

Sketch o’the Week- Bela Lugosi!

October 22nd, 2014

BLugosi

Here’s another Halloween sketch- Bela Lugosi in his signature role as Count Dracula. Done using various markers and pens. Next week: The Bride of Frankenstein!

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Cartoonists Fight Bullying

October 21st, 2014

I wrote the following on the NCS Website yesterday, but I thought it should be shared here also:

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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.

MAD 530 Sneak Peek: Orange is the New Blecch!

October 20th, 2014

OitNB_1Clicky any to embiggen…

Uproxx.com’s Gamma Squad published an interview with MAD editor John Ficarra on Friday which included an exclusive look some of Desmond Devlin and my parody of “Orange is the New Black”, so after a few days of waiting I can show you a sneak peek of the art myself.

This was a BIG eight pager… the longest MAD parody I’ve done since the nine page “Harry Plodder and the Lamest of Sequels” back in 2002’s MAD #424. It was unique in it had what was essentially a three page splash. The first page was a left side page, followed by this two page spread:

Orange is New Blecch pg 2-3

I binge-watched the show and then tried to add as many of the less prominent characters as I could squeeze in, since one of the strengths of this show is a very rich list of secondary characters who are all very interesting and engaging. If you are a fan of the show, you’ll recognize some of these characters in the background or in some aspect of the scene in many panels… and the chicken will make sense to you as well. Here’s a few panels from the rest of the parody:

Orange is New Blecch pg 4

Orange is New Blecch pg 5

Orange is New Blecch pg 6

Orange is New Blecch pg 7

Orange is New Blecch pg 8

Sunday Mailbag- How many caricatures?

October 19th, 2014

Q: How many persons do you caricature within a year? Now and in your theme-park time? What is your estimation: How many persons did you caricature since you started drawing? Are there persons you caricature over and over again, maybe over many years?

A: I don’t think I can even begin to answer any of those questions with any degree of accuracy, except the one about my theme park time. The first few summers that I drew live caricatures we used a system where we had paper receipts that we collected for each day and that’s how we got paid. At the end of the week we’d turn in our receipts with an invoice. That made it fairly easy to keep track of how many faces we drew. I remember I did 3,100 faces my first summer, and 3,800 my second. I got better and faster as each year progressed, and I estimated I averaged about 4,200 faces per summer throughout my years of drawing full time at theme parks. I did that for 17 seasons, which would mean I did a little over 70,000 live caricatures. Throw in the occasional live drawing I’ve done over the last dozen years or so since basically retiring from the theme park thing, I think 80,000 faces would be a conservative estimate. I think I started getting warmed up at about 45,000 faces, stopped completely sucking at 55,000, and started getting the hang of it around 68,000.

That sounds like a lot but it is nothing compared to many live caricaturists I know who do it for a living year around at parks, fairs, gigs, etc. I am sure many live caricature artists have done hundreds of thousands of faces. I’m a poseur compared to that.

I haven’t a clue how many people I caricature a year these days between MAD, other publication projects and such. In fact, just last week I was sitting on the MAD Panel at New York Comic Con and MAD editor John Ficarra turned to me and asked how many caricatures I had done in just the splash page from the parody of “Orange is the New Black” in the latest MAD. I had no answer for him. No idea. Turns out it was 25, and if you count the three on the intro page 28, but I didn’t know and don’t really have any interest in knowing. It might be better not to think about it. So, I have no answer for how many I’ve done over my career. A lot. I guess.

For your last question: “Is there anyone you’ve caricatured over and over again?” I would suspect the actors from “Married… with Children” are still the people I have caricatured the most overall simply because I drew two dozen issues of that comic book back in the early 90’s and it was nothing but caricatures of Ed O’Neil and company. I’m not sure I’d count that though, since those “caricatures” were compromised by certain limitations put on me by Colombia Television who approved the art, and my own lack of skills at the time.

Thanks to Dominick Zeillinger for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!

The 2014 NCS Reuben Awards Show Video

October 18th, 2014
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NCS video guru John Lotshaw just posted a full length film of the 2014 NCS Reuben Awards on the NCS YouTube channel. It weighs in at a whopping 1:57 but is chock full of fun thanks to the antics of emcee Tom Gammill and assorted cartoonists who played along with said antics, the show direction of Bill Morrison and the video work of the afore mentioned Mr Lotshaw. I believe this is the first time a Reubens has ever been released in its entirety on video to the general public.

There are many highlights, but in particular you will see:

  • Tom G’s spectaular opening number
  • Renee Faundo recieving the Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship
  • Weird Al” Yankovic receiving the A.C.E. Award
  • Bunny Hoest Carpenter and John Reiner being honored with NCS Gold Key Awards
  • Russ Heath get the Miltion Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award
  • More Tom Gammill video fun
  • Lots of cartoonists getting awards
  • Wiley Miller receiving the Reuben for Cartoonist of the Year

Unfortunately we couldn’t include the original video intro featuring a montage of clips from “The Simpsons” that revolve around comics, comic strips and MAD Magazine because YouTube refused to accept “Matt Groening said we could use these!” as actual copyright use permission. I’m going to try and get something more official, and if I do we’ll have a new version to post.

In the meantime, enjoy the show!

The Mad Art of Caricature 2.0?

October 17th, 2014

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Found out today that my book The Mad Art of Caricature! is totally out of stock on Amazon here in the US. I can’t quite figure out how Amazon works with its ordering copies from the publisher (i.e. me) in order to keep items in stock. It is obviously automated, as I will sometimes get two or three POs right on top of each other asking for copies to be sent in, but they are weird quantities like 2, 7 or 11 at a time, sometimes on consecutive days. The distributor (i.e. me) can have a standing request for “case quantity”, but Amazon will totally ignore that anytime they feel like it. I just cancel any POs that are not a full case (24) copies, and two cases on currently on the way to Amazon right now, but they ordered them too late to prevent running out.

Sales of the book have slowed down a bit since the middle of the summer, but they are still selling at an amazingly steady rate. Amazon and bookstore sales continue to chug along, and my wholesale distributor tells me I have a very low return rate on the book. This is really quite surprising to me. I honestly had no idea there would be such a continuous demand for a book on drawing caricatures. I expected to sell a lot of copies right away to caricaturists and then perhaps a trickle to those who might have an interest in the artform, but that trickle has been a pretty steady flow. In fact, the 6th printing of the book in on the horizon already.

I have been asked quite frequently when my next book is coming out. I don’t think I have another one in me, or if I do I don’t know what it would be about. I had a lot to say about how to draw caricatures, and with a few exceptions (material that I didn’t include in the original book in the interest of production time) I basically said it all in The Mad Art of Caricature! I have thought about doing a book on freelance illustration, but that business is evolving so fast I don’t know if what I know would be obsolete in short order, or how many people would be interested in such a book. Certainly a much smaller audience.

What is more likely in the near future would be an updated edition of The Mad Art of Caricature! with much of the previously mentioned deleted material added in. I had a whole chapter on caricaturing expressions, a section on drawing kids, some stuff about exaggerating bodies and action, and a number of other examples of caricature observations from photos with the accompanying caricature. Probably about 24 to 32 more pages.

My question: would anyone be interested in an updated version of the book? If so, what would you like to see added or more of? Just curious. I do not have this on my radar right now, but I have been thinking about it more lately.

Illustration Throwback Thursday #6

October 16th, 2014

This piece was done in 1996 for San Diego magazine for a story on, you guessed it, the increasing popularity of karaoke and piano bars. It was done in traditional media including watercolor, inks and airbrush. The above was a full page and the one below a spot illustration used later in the article.

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