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Monday MADness- teh interwebs!

September 29th, 2014

Monday MADness

Not too many people remember this, but MAD was actually a bit ahead of it’s time when it came to internet content.

Way back in the summer/fall of 2000, before blogger and Facebook and “Web 2.0″, MAD spent several months posting original content on its website, then called madmag.com. Called the “MADness of the Week”, these were specially written and drawn features that were sometimes “rollover” images or illustrations that had pop up gags, sometimes static images with text and later included flash-based shorts with limited animation. MAD had their freelancers produce the work, both writing and art, and then would produce the features and post them weekly. This led to a lot of quick turnaround jobs for freelancers. My first “published” work for MAD was actually on their website in August of 2000… an image of the major presidential candidates as contestants on “Presidential Survivor”:

On the website if you rolled over one of the figures there would be a pop-up with a goofy bio of them. I also did some football related art for another “MADness of the Week”, and another Gore caricature if I remember right. That art is long lost.

MAD also had a short lived feature on AOL’s “RED Page”, which was a special teen orientated section for subscribers. MAD did a daily gag feature that included a single cartoon. MAD paid freelancers such as myself to produce the cartoon and (presumably) to write the gags. Here are a few of the ones I did for that little project:

None of these endeavors lasted long. I think the “MADness of the Week” went for 20 plus weeks or so, and the AOL thing only lasted a month or two. It was probably just too expensive to pay freelancers to produce this work when it was generating exactly zero revenues. This was before Google Adsense (I believe) and other easier advertising to “monetize” your website… which even at its best is only a pale shadow of the kind of advertising revenues magazines and print publications were used to in the late 1990’s. Without a revenue stream having content on a website was a low priority at the time.

Sunday Mailbag- Getting Paid?

September 28th, 2014

Sunday Mailbag!

Q: This is more about the business side of freelancing. How do you handle billing your clients? Do you require them to pay anything upfront? Do you require payment within a certain timeframe? What if they don’t pay you?

A: Much of what you are asking depends on the client. Most of my clients are companies with separate finance departments, so the responsibility of when my fee is paid lies with a different person than the art director I actually work with on the job. Some clients pay within a week or two (rare), some within a month (most) some take longer (a few).

The point is each client’s paymasters have a process and it takes however long it takes. I don’t require payment in a certain amount of time. My invoices say “Net 30” on them, meaning I’d like payment within 30 days, but that probably has zero effect on the usual timeframe of payment for a given client. The important thing is to find out what to expect so if there IS a problem you know it because what you were told to expect is not happening. Believe me, all art directors know intimately how his or her company’s finance department works and the specifics of how and when their freelancers get paid… he or she is the person that hears from them if there is a problem. So, I ask what to expect in that regard.

I only ask to get some kind of payment up front if it’s a client I have never worked for and I do not know of them or their reputation for payment. That sort of dovetails into your last question “what if you don’t get paid?”.

If I am approached by a new client and one of the following applies:

  • They are an independent/small business entity
  • They are a publication/company I’ve never heard of or are very new
  • They have no experience working with a freelance illustrator
  • They set off my “Spidey-sense”

I may require a 50% non-refundable up front payment. This is to protect myself in case they end up not following through on the project or on the payment, so I know I am not wasting my time working on something I won’t get paid for. More importantly, it establishes their legitimacy as a client. If they complain about the advance, refuse to pay it, argue about it, or promise to pay it but keep delaying the payment, I back out of the job with no time wasted on my end except a phone call or some emails. I just avoided what would have been a very frustrating and costly experience.

Of course, nothing guarantees you will get paid until you actually get the check, but in most cases if they look, sound and smell like a legitimate client, they are a legitimate client. Occasionally you do get burned. I wrote a post about dealing with deadbeat clients a while back. You can read that here.

Thanks to Grant Jonen 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!

Too Much Caffeine Man!

September 27th, 2014


I’ve been doing a lot of these for people bringing me a Monster Zero Ultra energy drink. I won’t be falling asleep at my booth, that’s for sure.

With apologies to Shannon Wheeler for the post title.

What, Me in Pittsburgh?

September 26th, 2014

Stop by if you are at the Pittsburgh Comicon!




Visit Me at Pittsburgh Comic Con!

September 25th, 2014

Pittsburgh CC

I’m a special guest at the Pittsburgh Comicon this weekend. You can find me in booth P068 and I will have copies of my book, my two available limited edition prints “The Game is Afoot!” and “Bats in the Belfry”, a very few remaining Doctor Who “The Doctor is IN!” artist proof prints, assorted original MAD art and I will be doing commission sketches including caricatures and “Alfred as…” drawings. One caveat on that last one… I’m not sure how much my stitched up finger will limit my being able to do commissions, but I’ll do my best. I’m also going to be doing a presentation on caricature at 4:00 PM Friday in room 2:

Mad Magazine Artist and 2012 Reuben Award Winner for “Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year” discusses his work at Mad, creating caricatures and giving celebrity caricatures that Mad Twist.
(Room 2)

The complete show info:

September 26th, 27th and 28th
Monroe Convention Center
Friday 1:00 until 7:00
Saturday 10:00 until 6:00
Sunday 10:00 until 5:00

Come by and see me if you are going to the convention. As always, anyone who drops by and gives me a cold Monster Zero Ultra energy drink (white can) gets a free “Alfred as Batman” sketch (big deal!).

From the Freelance Files- 3M Calendar

September 25th, 2014

qdef_finalClicky any to embiggen…

This was an odd job from early last year. A design company was doing a calendar for some client and one of the months they wanted a comic book “superhero” designed that would represent a color process or technology from 3M called “Q-Def”. They wanted a little humorous look to it, rather than a more serious comic book look… that’s why they called me.

We needed to explore some ideas of the look of the character, so I gave them 4 different concepts. Three human characters and a robot:

Qdef1 Qdef2 Qdef3 Qdef4

Then I worked a bit on the “Q-Def” logo. I really hate doing logos, but this was not too taxing:

QDef Emblems

They liked the robot, but were not sure if they wanted something more obviously robotic ala “Iron Giant” or something that might be more of an “Iron Man” look. So I did a couple of robot concept sketches:

Robot 2

Robot 1

Ultimately, we combined a couple of different elements from the two robots, simplified the cityscape and ditched the logo for a simple title on the breastplate. Final pencil rough here, color final at top of post:

Qdef pencil

A lot of concept work here, and these are just the sketches I showed to the client… I probably did three times this many drawings noodling around trying to come up with different ideas. This is a good example of why you need to consider how much work you will spend on the concept stages of a job when pricing it. I did and was paid for that concept work as well as the final.

Sketch o’the Week- Chris Pratt!

September 24th, 2014


This one is for Celestia Ward.

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Teaser: Z-People from Sitcomics!

September 23rd, 2014

Zpeople_01“Z-People” page 1- Clicky to embiggen…

The last few months I’ve been hinting about this comic book project I am working on. Well, the publisher is starting to do a little promotion on the various titles he’s producing, and gave me the nod to mention it here and even show a little teaser of my art via the first page of the story (see above).

The comic is called “Z-People”, and it’s a humorous zombie story written and published by television comedy writer Darin Henry. Here’s the official copy from their Facebook page:


Sitcomics is a comic book publishing company started by Darin Henry, a Hollywood sitcom writer who wrote for Seinfeld, Futurama, The Ellen Show, The Muppets and a zillion other series in the US and UK. Sitcomics take the usual comic book genres – super-heroes, vampires, zombies, etc – and gives them each a sitcom twist.

Industry legends Ron Frenz (Spider-Man, Thor, Superman) and Sal Buscema (Captain America, The Avengers, The Hulk) serve up the sensational art on super-hero series “The Unbeatable Blue Baron!”. Jeff Shultz (Betty and Veronica) brings to life Jess and Kelly, the college sophomores who also happen to be vampires. And fans of zombies will love “Z-People” featuring awesome art by MAD Magazine superstar Mr. Tom Richmond. Blair Shedd rounds out our talented team, handling the art chores on “Telepathetic” – a fun title about mutants in junior high! We’re an Indie publisher with a defiantly mainstream mentality. Sitcomics — it’s TV you read!

BTW “superstar” is Darin’s adjective, not mine. He does have some pretty well-known pro artists working on these titles (and me) so readers can expect some top notch work. The “Z-People” book is going to end up being between 42 and 46 pages with pencils, inks, and colors by yours truly. It’s a funny story with some great characters, and I am having fun working on it even if it’s tough to find time in between my usual work to get to it. I’ll keep everyone posted on the project, and you can visit the Sitcomics Facebook page to get the latest on all the upcoming titles.

Monday MADness- Watchmen!

September 22nd, 2014

Monday MADnessThis week’s Monday MADness is a look back at the original pencil roughs of MAD‘s parody of the film “Watchmen”, written by Desmond Devlin from MAD #499, April 2009. Clicky any to embiggen:

Blotchmen roughs 1-2

Blotchmen roughs 3-4

Blotchmen roughs 5-6

Here’s the final art. The last panel was rethought from the original roughs:




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Dancing Groot

September 21st, 2014
YouTube Preview Image

I’m posting this for my kids, who loved this scene in “Guardians of the Galaxy”.


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