January 30th, 2015
Clicky to Embiggen…
I did the above piece a month or two ago for an issue of GQ Magazine that just hit the stands—it’s a gag article about how the NFL is trying to make the Superbowl more woman-friendly. Some of the gags:
- Players have to wear Spanx rather than football pants
- Susan B. Anthony painted on all the game balls
- Mood lighting and aroma therapy in the bathrooms
- Katy Perry doing the halftime show
Fun project and cool new client. Hope to do more work for them in the future.
Tags: GQ Magazine
January 29th, 2015
If you are a fan of comics or cartooning, you should be a regular reader of Comic Riffs, a column/blog from the Washington Post written by “Writer-artist-recovering-syndicated-cartoonist” Michael Cavna. Michael posted an article today about my recently released cover art for the NCS Reuben Awards Weekend brochure, where he interviews some of the
victims subjects of my caricatures for their reaction. Generally good this year, no threats of stoning or keying my car.
In the article Micheal asks me if I had any trouble with any of the subjects. I did have to have a couple of tries at Jeff Keane. It’s interesting when you try to caricature someone you know well. Sometimes it’s easier because you are so familiar with their expressions and personality, you can capture that “look” that other people that know the subject well will respond to. Other times someone like that proves more elusive because you know them TOO well. There can be a subconscious element to your mental image of them that is not coming out in your caricature, and nothing you do satisfies you.
I had similar problems with my caricature of Doug Mahnke. I’ve known Doug for 30 years. He was a rookie airbrush T-Shirt artist at Six Flags near Chicago the same year I was a rookie caricaturist for the same company, Fasen Arts. That was 1985. Today Doug is one of the biggest names in comic book art, drawing heavyweights like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern for DC Comics. He was the artist on Dark Horse Comic’s “The Mask” in the early 90’s, and his images of the character in a loud zoot suit and fedora was the basis for all the visuals in the Jim Carrey film of the same name. My mental image of Doug is made up of him from age 22 to 52. That’s a lot of images of a person jumbling around in your head, and it’s hard to be objective in trying to capture that entire person in one caricature.
By the way, Michael also wrote a nice article yesterday about Jeff getting the NCS Silver T-Square award. Jeff’s being honored with that award, which is for outstanding dedication and service to the Society or the cartooning industry, is enormously well deserved. Michael didn’t mention in the article about all the years Jeff spent as producer and director of the Reuben Awards show, the roasts, and other shows at the Reubens. He changed the way the Reuben show is done, and created a highly entertaining, multi-faceted show that has delighted attendees for well over a decade.
January 28th, 2015
Here’s a (very) rare commission: Doctor Who’s Peter Capaldi- 8 1/2 x 12 on bristol board, ink with dip pen and washes.
Tags: caricature, Doctor Who, Peter capaldi, sketch
January 27th, 2015
Clockwise from far left: Nick Galifianakis, Mort Drucker,
Brian Crane, Doug Mahnke, Mark Anderson, Jeff Keane,
Ann Telnaes and Juana Medina- (Clicky to Embiggen)
Members of the National Cartoonists Society will be receiving the official brochure for the 2015 Reuben Award Weekend in their mailboxes in the next week or so. My cover art above. With it goes the announcements of the speaker lineup and special award winners:
- Mort Drucker- First recipient of the “NCS Medal of Honor”; Speaker
- Jeff Keane- Recipient of the NCS “Silver T-Square” for outstanding dedication to the Society
- Brian Crane- Reuben winning creator of the syndicated comic strip “Pickles”; speaker
- Doug Mahnke- Superstar comic book artist; speaker
- Mark Anderson- Gag cartoonist, “Andertoons.com”; speaker
- Juana Medina- Illustrator, first recipient of the Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship; speaker
- Nick Galifianakis- Cartoonist, author, illustrator; speaker
- Ann Telnaes, Pulitizer prize winning editorial cartoonist; moderating a panel on “Cartooning and Free Speech”
Great line up. Hoping everyone will still be talking to me after they see these caricatures I did of them. Pastis still won’t return my phone calls.
Tags: 2015, National Cartoonists Society, Reuben Awards
January 27th, 2015
As I speak… uh… type, my book The Mad Art of Caricature is running its sixth printing since its release in November of 2011. Copies will be arriving here sometime in early March, depending on the shipping strikes on the west coast. The book will definitely sell out both with me and Amazon before the new printing arrives. Your mileage with bookstore stock may vary.
I am truly floored by the staying power of this book. I figured I’d sell a ton of them to caricaturists right away and then see it trickle into obscurity with continued but small sales levels for years after. Instead, sales both in bookstores through my distributor and via Amazon, have settled into a respectable and steady level. This sixth printing will bring the total number of copies of TMAoC in print to over 20,000. That’s a lot of books.
My thanks to everyone who has bought a copy. I get many positive comments about it from friends and strangers alike… the best compliment being “I really learned something from your book”. It took me a long time to get off my ass and write this thing, and I am very glad I did.
January 26th, 2015
This week’s Monday MADness is a look at my very first parody for MAD, “Malcontent in the Muddle” written by Desmond Devlin from MAD #403, March 2001. The color digital files from this piece is lost to posterity thanks to a lost CD-ROM and a computer crash in the late 2000’s that corrupted the original files. However, a UK based “Malcolm in the Middle” fan site has high resolution scans of the entire parody online, so here’s a look at those pages (clicky any to embiggen):
I was told that Frankie Muniz did not like his caricatures in this piece. Just hearsay, though. Many thanks to Adam Cooke for the link to the scans!
January 24th, 2015
Q: Do you use your drawing skills for private tasks, say for instance a birthday-card for your uncle? And are you asked by relatives, friends or neighbors to make just a little drawing for a party, a present, etc.of course without getting payed?
A: That sort of thing is inevitable, but I have to say my family, friends and neighbors are all very good about understanding I have a hard time finding enough hours in the day to get my professional work done, so they seldom if ever ask me to do anything for them. I’ve done art for a few things like that here and there, but it is usually my idea and I offer to… they don’t ask. I don’t tell them how busy I am, they see it when they come over or call to ask if I can go out to the bar for a drink and I have to say I’m going to be up all night as it is with some deadline. They get it. I’m busy.
I absolutely won’t take money from family or friends for that sort of thing, which makes the issue even a bit more clouded. I’ve had money offered to me to do a birthday card or some piece of art for family, but I refuse to take it. Then I might also have to politely refuse to do it at all because I just don’t have the time. That sucks, but my petition to the universe to add a few hours to every day has been steadfastly ignored. If I can do it, I do it. Often I just can’t, and I just have to feel bad about it for awhile.
I do a number of pieces each year sort of pro-bono, for lack of a better term, for organizations, charity or the like. One example is the brochure art I do for the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Awards every year. In fact, I am trying to finish the 2015 piece up today, so this is a timely question!
Thanks to Dominik 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!
January 23rd, 2015
The Lovely Anna at NYCC, ready to help you!
I tried a bit of an experiment in 2014… doing a lot of comic book conventions. This is something I hadn’t ever done in the past because, well, MAD is sort of the red-headed stepchild of that kind of crowd. Yes, everyone’s heard of it and the magazine has a core group of devoted fans, but it isn’t the sort of thing that gets people to stand in line unless your name is Drucker, Jaffee, Aragonès or others of legendary stature. Still, in the last few years I did start to have something I did not have before… stuff to sell. I have my book, and the LE prints I have been doing. I also bring along original MAD art, which I only occasionally sell any of because I charge a lot for them as I’d rather keep it than sell it for cheap. It does give people something to look at, though. Of course I also do drawings, caricatures of people and commissions of celebrities or whatever. So, in the last year or so I’ve done conventions big and small. I did smaller cons in Dallas, Grand Rapids and Pittsburgh last year as well as big ones in Chicago, New York and San Diego.
What I discovered is that, while often more fun and interesting to be a part of, the smaller conventions don’t pay enough of the bills to make sense doing. It was great meeting people and the folks who run these conventions are very hospitable and take great care of their guests, but at the end of the day it’s time away from the studio and that only makes sense if the dollars roughly match up. Sad, but basic economics. In most cases I was a guest at these cons where they generously paid for my travel and lodging expenses, and even then sales at the end of the day just didn’t make sense. That is not their fault, it’s mine. I don’t have what their attendees are looking for. As much as I appreciated the invitation and the generosity, I won’t be doing many (or any) of these smaller cons anymore. I cancelled my appearance in Monterrey, Mexico next month and turned down a few offers to be a guest at other cons. I feel like I’m taking their money and not bringing any people in for them, besides not making enough myself for it to be financially viable.
That’s the bad news. The good news is several of the larger cons I did were terrific. I drew my ass off and we did great in book, print and even some original art sales. So here are a few comic cons you’ll see me at in 2015:
New York is not guaranteed because, unlike most comic cons, you are required to reapply and get approved for a space there every year. That is actually a really cool policy, because it means you don’t have “squatters” who keep taking up space and not giving anyone else a chance to get in. I gave up trying to get into conventions like Megacon or Emerald City Con because the waiting lists were ridiculous.
The even better news is I will have my own booth this year at San Diego. Look for me in space G-04! There will be more news about commissions and other new stuff when the new website debuts here in the next few weeks.
Hope to see you at one of these shows!
January 22nd, 2015
Today’s edition of “Illustration Throwback Thursday” features a book I illustrated for MAD back in 2009 called Bo Confidential: The Secret Files of America’s First Dog, which just so happens to be on sale via the MAD iPad app for only 99 cents (cheap) this week only!
The story behind this book is a short but intense one.
I got a call from my friend, mentor and a guy who owes me $10.00, MAD art director Sam Viviano at the very end of April, 2009 to say they had a book project they wanted me to do the art for. The working title was “Bo Obama: The First 100 Days”. It was a book about the Obama’s new Portuguese Water Dog and his introduction into the White House, filled with gags about politics, the Obamas in general and of course, dog poop. It was going to be 96 pages and fully illustrated with a mixture of primarily two page spreads along with color single pages, color spots and some smaller monochrome spots. There was a catch, though (there always is). They wanted the art completed in just over three weeks.
Yes, you read that right. Three weeks. The publication date was to be the end of July.
I’m not entirely sure why the short deadline. Some say it was because there is a bunch of Obama family and Bo books coming out this summer and getting the book into that mix would get it placed on end cap and table displays in the big bookstores. Another theory is that there was a huge publisher’s book fair event right after Memorial Day, and having the book completed by then would allow the publisher to promote it fully at said fair. I don’t know… I just draw the funny pictures. Regardless, I got the final book script/layout on May 1st and had until May 26th to get the book completely illustrated. Worse yet, I had plans to go to the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Awards in L.A. on May 22nd-26th, so essentially I had 22 days to get it all done.
I did it in 21 days. 96 pages including 25 full color two page spreads, 21 full color single page/large spot illustrations and 13 monochrome pages. The remaining pages had other graphics.
Whew. I’ve done a lot of tough jobs in my time, but this one really did nearly break me. I got about 2 or 3 hours of sleep a night for three weeks straight, with only the occasional night of more due to sheer necessity. I had to place everything else on hold including canceling trips to both my out-of-state theme parks. I finished and FTP’d the last page at about 4 a.m. on May 22nd, and then got on the plane to L.A. 5 hours later. It was a very tired me who attended the NCS Reubens that year.
The book has been out of print for a while now, but as I mentioned you can get the digital version for a measly 99 cents this week only through the MAD iPad app!
Art/spreads from BO CONFIDENTIAL: THE SECRET FILES OF AMERICA’S FIRST DOG published by Running Press. On sale everywhere in August 2009. ©2009 EC Publications, all rights reserved.
January 21st, 2015
This week’s sketch… no doubt soon to be sold as t-shirts in several Etsy stores… is of Oscar winning actress Tilda Swinton.
Tags: caricature, sketch, Tilda Swinton