Took a breather from work the other day to catch the last episode of “True Detective”, which inspired this week’s sketch of Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey. That show was dark, but riveting. You could tell he was still very much down in weight from his filming of “Dallas Buyers Club” when this series was shot, but he started looking healthier as it went on.
USA Today has an exclusive look at two more of the upcoming 21 MAD variant covers for the April run of DC Comics. The two released as a sneak peek today are the covers of Superman/Wonder Woman #7 by Tom Bunk (pictured) and Batgirl #30 by Rick Tulka with (colors by Carl Peterson). Click the link to see Rick’s Batgirl cover featuring Poison Ivy.
By the way, in case you haven’t noticed all these MAD variant covers feature villains rather than heroes.
The CAPS auction to benefit Stan and Sharon Sakai is in action right now, with some really amazing pieces of art up for bidding, including a number of custom pieces featuring the artist’s take on Stan’s great comic book character Usagi Yojimbo from some pretty heavy hitters (Jeff Smith, anyone?). There are also several pieces of original but unrelated comic book, comic strip and editorial cartoon art. Stan and Sharon are beloved figures in the world of comics, and the industry’s heart is breaking over their struggles with Sharon’s health. If you want to support a wonderful cause and get your hands on some truly unique original cartoon art, this is a unique opportunity.
I posted the image above a week or two ago, it’s my contribution to the effort. It’s an original ink and watercolor, no pixels involved. This piece is not in the auction yet, but I am sure it will appear sooner or later. They must have gotten a huge number of pieces in support of the Sakais, and it will be a while before they get through them all.
I am beginning to think I might be the only cartoonist I know capable of reading and following directions. When the call for original pieces of art went out, the folks at CAPS warned us that we should NOT include any characters we did not own the copyrights to. The reason for this is that they intend to publish a book full of the Usagi Yojimbo tribute artwork and sell it for further support for the Sakai’s medical expenses. For obvious legal reasons, doing something with someone else’s copyrighted character would create a legal problem with the book. That meant Alfred E. Neuman was out, so I came up with the gag above making fun of Usagi’s puffy samurai pants and his 1980′s origins.
Now I look at the auction items, and I see art with other people’s copyrighted characters like Bugs Bunny and the Muppets. I have a feeling there will be a lot of similar examples when other art is put up for auction.
I assume these will not be in the book. Too bad because it’s some great art, but rulz is rulz. I would have loved to have done an Alfred/Usagi gag.
Today’s Monday MADness is a look at the pencil roughs for a features entitled “America’s Next Top Mobster”, which was a mash-up of “The Sopranos” and “American;s Next Top Model” written by Desmond Devlin and appearing in MAD #482, October 2007.
As you can see my pencils got a lot looser on the last page, where I literally have circles for heads sometimes and only impart the very basic information for the MAD staff to review. Likely I was running short on time and I wanted to get these to the editors so I could move on to the finals, but Sometimes I am just this loose. By time I had done this job I had worked for MAD for seven years, and they knew what they could expect from me in the finals.
Here are the finished pages:
Q: Do you have a standard freelance contract or agreement you use with all your clients?
A: Yes and no. I do have a standard illustration contract/agreement I use with many clients, but not all. Many clients have their own agreements they have their illustrators sign with specific terms they need. In that case I sign theirs and do not need mine, as they both serve the same purpose: spelling out the copyright agreement and other terms for use of the illustration they are contracting me to create.
Of course, I have to read those carefully to make sure I know what I am agreeing to. I will occasionally ask for something to be changed, like a “kill fee” added in or something like that, but most are just variations of the same basic agreement.
Where did I get my agreement? It’s based on a standard illustration estimate/contract form from the Graphic Artists Guild’s Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines, with a couple of little changes on my part. I’d post a copy of it here for people to use, but as I got most of it from the GAG book I think it would be unethical to do that. See!… that book works! In fact there are several contracts in that book that working illustrators and graphic artists would find useful. Another source of excellent and practical legal advice and sample contracts and agreements is Tad Crawford’s Legal Guide for the Visual Artist. Both excellent resources.
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!
I received a lot of nice compliments on the art I did on the 2014 Rueben Awards Brochure for the National Cartoonists Society. This is something I have been doing for quite a few years now, ever since I was approached by then NCS prez Steve McGarry about doing something for the 2003 Reuben Awards in San Fransisco. After thinking about it I realized this latest one is my 12th Reuben illustration! Sometimes the art was used on the official Reuben T-Shirt, and sometimes it was for the brochure, and once or twice for both. Anyway I thought it would be fun to post a gallery of the Reubens art I have done over the last decade plus… it also makes for a nice record of the guest speakers most years, although some years they depicted the award winners/Reuben nominees instead (clicky any image to embiggen):
2003- San Fransisco, CA
Top row, l to r: Me, Hilary Price (Rhymes with Orange), Bill Amend (Foxtrot), Scott Adams (Dilbert), Oliver Christianson (Greeting cards), David Silverman (The Simpsons), Pete Doctor (Pixar). Bottom row, l to r: Darby Conley (Get Fuzzy), Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), James Kemsley (Ginger Meggs). I was actually a guest speaker that year, so Steve asked me to do this for the T-Shirt, which started it all. I don’t have the digital file anymore, so this is a scan of a print that Steve had done and gave to each of us, and we got signatures from (most) of the speakers. The only signatures I am missing is Scott Adams and Pete Doctor… might have been too shy to go up to them and ask. Matt Groening signed it because he won the Reuben that year.
2004- Kansas City, MO
Front: Mort Drucker (MAD Magazine), Patrick McDonnell (Mutts), Sandra Boynton (Greeting cards, books, recording artist), Jules Pfieffer (cartoonist, author, screenwriter) Back (on the grill): Mel Lazarus (Momma and Miss Peach). Kansas City was the start of the “roasts” they did again for a few years of NCS luminaries, starting with Mel… hence on the grill.
2005- Scottsdale, AZ
Across back and top of stagecoach: Jay Stephens (Tutenstein), Sergio Aragonés (MAD, Groo and the roastee), Mark Evanier (writer, Groo, etc), Gahan Wilson (gag cartoonist), Scott Shaw! (comics artist, Captain Carrot). In the stagecoach, l to r: Lalo Alcaraz (La Cucaracha), Ann Telnaes, Mike Luckovich and Joel Pett (all Pulitzer prize winning editorial cartoonists), Hanging on the stagecoach, right: Darrin Bell (Rudy Park, Candorville). Pulling the stagecoach: Glen and Gary McCoy (The Duplex (Glen),The Flying McCoys, editorial cartoons, etc. etc.)
2006- Chicago, IL
From the left: Stephen Silver (animator, Kim Possible, etc), Everett Peck (illustrator, animator), Ralph Steadman (illustrator), Elwood Smith (gag cartoonist), Cathy Guisewite (Cathy and the roastee), and Dick Locher (Dick Tracy, editorial cartoons).
2007- Orlando, FL
L to r: Bud Grace (The Piranha Club), Sam Gross (gag cartoonist, The New Yorker), Mort Walker (Beetle Baily, Hi and Lois) and Jerry Van Amerongen (Ballard Street).
2008- New Orleans, LA
Humans, l to r: Mike Peters (Mother Goose and Grimm, editorial cartoons), Sandra Boynton (Greeting cards, Milton Caniff Award recipient), Mark Tatulli (Heart of the City, Lio), Mort Gerberg (gag cartoons, The New Yorker), Tom Batiuk (Funky Winkerbean).
2009- Los Angeles, CA
Clockwise from bottom left: Jeff Keane (The Family Circus, NCS President), Mike Luckovich (editorial cartoonist, Reuben emcee), Michael Ramirez (editorial cartoonist), Dan Piraro (Bizarro, Reuben nominee), Stephen Pastis (Pearls Before Swine, Reuben nominee), Dave Coverly (Speed Bump, Reuben nominee), Steve Moore (In the Bleachers, Open Season), Eric Goldberg (animator), Drew Struzan (illustrator) and Cathy Guisewite (Cathy, host of the Sunday event).
2010- Jersey City, NJ
On back raft, l to r: Isabella Bannerman (Six Chix), Rina Piccolo (Tina’s Groove, Six Chix), Anne Gibbons (Six Chix), Benita Epstein (Six Chix), Stephanie Piro (Six Chix), Margaret Shulock (Six Chix). On the plane: Stephen Silver (animator, Kim Possible, etc), Mort Drucker (MAD Magazine), Stan Goldberg (comics artist, Archie), John Reiner (The Lockhorns). On the raft, l to r: Larry Katzman (gag cartoonist, freelance), Joe Kubert (comic book legend, Milton Caniff Award recipient), George Booth (gag cartoonist, The New Yorker), Steve Brodner (Illustrator), Bill Plympton (illustrator, animator), Yaakov Kirschen (cartoonist)
2011- Boston, MA
Humans, from l to r: Tom Gammill (The Doozies, Reuben emcee), Roy Doty (advertising cartoonist, NCS Gold Key recipient), R.O. Blechman (gag cartoonist, Milton Caniff Award recipient), Glen Keane (animator, Reuben nominee), Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine, Reuben nominee), Richard Thompson (Cul de Sac, Reuben nominee)
2012- Las Vegas, NV
Top: Tom Gammill (The Doozies, Reubens emcee). Second row from left: Steve McGarry (Badlands, Trivquiz, Biographic, Kid City, NCS Silver T-Square recipient), Mark Simon (animator, storyboard artist, entrepreneur), Alfred E. Neuman (idiot), John Lotshaw (Accidental Centaurs), Dave Kellett (Sheldon, Drive), Michael Jantze (The Norm, Jantze Studios, SCAD). Bottom row from left: Ray Billingsley (Curtis), Butch Hartman (Fairly Oddparents, Danny Phanton, T.U.F.F. Puppy), Jim Davis (Garfield) and Stan Goldberg (Archie, recipient of the NCS Gold Key Award).
2013- Pittsburgh, PA
This one is a little weird as I did each person as either a famous person from Pittsburgh or a character from a movie filmed there: Clockwsie from top r: Mo Willems (Children’s book author/illustrator) in “The Silence of the Lambs” which was filmed in Pittsburgh , Brad Anderson (Marmaduke, Milton Caniff recipient) as Andy Warhol, Drew Friedman(illustrator) as Frank Gorshin, Jason Chatfield (Ginger Meggs, Reubens Emcee) as Gene Kelly, Terri Libenson (The Pajama Diaries) as Mary Cassatt, Lee Salem (NCS Silver T-Square recipient) in “The Dark Knight Rises” , filmed in Pittsburgh), Rob Rogers (editorial cartoons) as Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Wos (Curator of Pittsburgh’s cartoon and comic art museum The Toonseum) as Mr. Rogers.
2014- San Diego, CA
Roughly left to right: Tom Gammill (The Doozies, Reuben emcee) “Weird Al” Yankovic (A.C.E. award recipient) Greg Evans (Luann), Eddie Pittman (animator, Red’s Planet), Sandra Bell-Lundy (Between Friends), Russ Heath (comic book legend, Milton Caniff Award recipient), Bunny Hoest Carpenter (The Lockhorns, NCS Gold Key Award recipient), John Reiner (The Lockhorns, NCS Gold Key Award recipient), Suzy Spafford (Suzy’s Zoo), Chris Houghton (animator, Adventure Time, Reed Gunther).
This story actually comes not from drawing at a theme park but from doing a state fair. I didn’t do many of those but for a couple of years in the early 90′s I would pack up my gear and a 10×10 tent and drive to Oklahoma to do a state fair. The fair lasted for 17 days, during which I became an honorary carnie… except I had all my teeth. To be fair, most carnies also have all their teeth, but they keep them in a jar on their dashboard whereas all of mine are still in my mouth… but I digress.
Doing fairs can be extremely trying on your patience. There are some days where you are slamming busy and can barely find the time to gobble down a corn dog and use the bathroom (the preferable order for said actions… the reverse is a recipe for disaster), but there are also weekdays where business can be very slow… especially if the fair is not during the school summer vacations. This one was in October, and some of the weekdays were dead. That leaves you with too much time to try and entertain yourself.
I always brought along a second artist to do these fairs with, both to share the expenses and to take advantage of the really high traffic days. One year I brought my good friend the extremely talented Eddie Pittman, who today is an animator who has worked with Disney on several features such as Mulan and Lilo and Stitch, as well as Phineas and Ferb, and does the dynamite webcomic Red’s Planet. He’s also a very funny guy, and is always up for a practical joke. Well, almost always.
As it happened, that same year another caricaturist had a competing booth on the other side of the fairgrounds. That is not unusual as there is often several different caricaturists in a single large fair, but I happened to know this guy. In fact, he’s from Minnesota and had gotten his start in caricature drawing for me in my theme park there. We chatted a bit when the fair first started so he knew I was there… but he had not seen nor did he know Eddie.
I thought it would be amusing to pull an old caricaturist prank on him—the “Draw and Dash”.
The “Draw and Dash” is when you have a ringer sit down for a drawing, obviously needing to be someone the target caricaturist does not know, and then have them take off running after the drawing is done without paying. It works best when the customer plays it up asking really dumb questions or otherwise being annoying so the crowd is interested in seeing their reaction to the caricature. There are two variations to the prank. In one, the customer just runs off and leaves the drawing behind. In the other, they steal the drawing. That second one is funnier but a little dangerous depending on the artist being pranked.
Eddie is a master of this, having pulled it or had it pulled on a few artists in his time. He’s great at playing the dumb hick getting one drawn before racing off in an exaggerated “FEETS DON’T FAIL M’NOW!” manner. I talked him into doing it to this Minnesota artist. It took some doing, as he was worried the guy might get really pissed off. He kept on asking me “He’s not going to chase me, is he?”
“Nah,” I would say. “He wouldn’t do that.”
It took a day or so, but one boring afternoon he treked across the fair to do the gag.
Maybe 30 minutes later Eddie comes stumbling up to the booth with a drawing in his hand—he wasn’t exactly a track star—and wheezed “HE’S CHASING ME!!” He ducked behind the booth out of sight. About a minute later this artist runs up to the booth.
“Did you see a guy run by with a drawing in his hand?” He asks.
“Nope,” I reply. “What did he look like?”
He describes Eddie and warns me in case the same guy comes up wanting to get one drawn by me, and then takes off to continue pursuit. Eddie comes panting from behind the booth with sweat streaming down his face, calms down, and we get a good laugh out of it. I was genuinely surprised he got chased, but that made it all the funnier anyway. Eddie didn’t think so at first, but later we were guffawing over it.
Eventually this caricaturist comes by when Eddie sitting was at the booth, and realizes it was a gag. Eddie and I laughed and I introduced them…and then this artist DEMANDED HIS PAYMENT!! Seriously, he refused to leave until he got his money. I couldn’t believe it. We paid him for the drawing and he stalked off. I don’t think we saw him again the whole two weeks of the fair. I haven’t said two words to him since.
So, if you were ever wondering if anyone can be a caricature artist and not have a sense of humor themselves, I know of at least one like that.
In April of last year DC Comics did a series of “MAD” variant covers for thirteen of their “New 52″ titles done by the Usual Gang of Idiots. They are doing a follow up series this year, but this time on 21 different titles! CBR has an exclusive first look at a couple of the covers, including the one above for Detective Comics #30 by Hermann Mejia. Check out a bigger version of the Mejia cover and cover art by Al Jaffee and John Kerschbaum on CBR.com.
Here are the titles getting the MAD treatment this year:
- JUSTICE LEAGUE #30
- JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #14
- JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #30
- NIGHTWING #30
- AQUAMAN #30
- THE FLASH #30
- EARTH 2 #22
- WONDER WOMAN #30
- SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #7
- ACTION COMICS #30
- SUPERMAN #30
- BATMAN/SUPERMAN #10
- BATMAN #30
- DETECTIVE COMICS #30
- BATMAN AND WONDER WOMAN #30
- BATWOMAN #30
- HARLEY QUINN #5
- BATGIRL #30
- GREEN LANTERN #30
- GREEN LANTERN CORPS #30
- TEEN TITANS #30
I did the cover of Batman/Superman #30, but can’t share that until I get the go ahead. I’m sure we’ll see them pop up over the next few weeks in “exclusive first looks” posts on the interwebby.
We interrupt the sharing of potentially useful or entertaining content on this blog for some shameless huckstering!
This past weekend I added a bunch of original art for sale in The Studio Store. Included are some not so cheap original pages from MAD, but also a few relatively cheap sketches. Well… okay… it’s ALL overpriced but that goes without saying.
The MAD pages are from the parody of “The Avengers”, and this pencil drawing that was then digitally colored for the “MAD 20″ piece “Abysmal House”:
Among those sketches for sale are both my recent “sketch o’the week” drawings of:
And a few more. If you don’t find anything you like, don’t fret. I’ll be adding originals to the Studio Store regularly. I’m trading one college kid’s tuition for another one this fall…