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On the Drawing Board- 2/4/14

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Egg Hunt final
Clicky to Embiggen…

The drawing board is heating up in the cold of our Minnesota winter. Lot’s of regular client work on the board as well as a few different projects:

  • Marlin Co workplace poster- My usual monthly assignment. Last month’s art above.
  • Comic book project- I’m really digging in to this one right now, and it will usurp a lot of my time over the next two months. It’s a 45 page comic written by a veteran TV comedy writer. I’m doing all the art (pencils, inks and color) on interior and cover. His plan is to have them in print in time for Comic Con this summer. I will certainly plug the project when the time is appropriate.
  • DC Comics cover- This April DC is going to have another run of “variant covers” done by MAD artists, and I’m doing one again. Last year’s was a lot of fun. Just did the pencils and got them approved, will be inking and coloring later this week.
  • Corporate caricatures- A local design firm occasionally hires me to do caricatures of executives for their corporate clients. Not usually my favorite kind of project but the art director for this firm happens to be an artist who worked for me doing caricatures back in the early 90′s at my Minnesota theme park operation, and corporate work like this can pay quite well.
  • Penthouse “Dave Navarro” spot illustrations- a run of three more of these, used as the column header graphics for Dave’s love/sex/life advice column in the magazine. See below for the one I did for this month’s issue.
  • MAD Movie parody- Awaiting the layouts to get started on this one for MAD #527.
  • Misc Commissions- Finishing a couple of James Bond commissions this week as well.

Cupid Dave


Jesse Eisenberg IS Lex Luthor!

Saturday, February 1st, 2014


Uhhhhhh….. NO.

That’s it. First Ben Affleck as Batman, now THIS? I will not be seeing this movie in theaters. Next we’ll have Zooey Deschanel cast as Vicki Vale and Ashton Kutcher as Green Lantern. Makes as much sense. It’s over.

Batman’s Greatest Villian… Bob Kane?

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Bill Finger!

Anyone who is a fan of Batman (the comic book Batman that is, as opposed to just a fan of the movie or TV versions) or the history of comics knows who Bill Finger is. Sadly, the rest of the world doesn’t. What the rest of the world sees when they watch a Batman movie or TV show or pick up a Batman comic book is the ubiquitous credit that appears on anything featuring the character: “Batman created by Bob Kane“. That leads them to believe Batman was actually created by Bob Kane.

Kane was a mediocre artist at best but a very shrewd businessman. The legal agreement he signed with National Periodicals (later DC Comics) is still in effect, causing his name to appear as sole creator of Batman forever. Financially he became very rich off the Batman property, especially from the 60′s TV show. By most accounts (basically everyone except Bob Kane) what really mattered about Batman came from Bill Finger, who never got an ounce of credit during his lifetime. Finger died in 1974.

What kind of stuff am I talking about? How about his origin story, you know, the “parents murdered before his eyes and he vows revenge on all criminals” thing? His costume. The Batcave. The Batmobile. The Utility Belt. Commissioner Gordon. Gotham City. The Joker and most of Batman’s most famous villains. Depending on who you ask, Robin. Finger basically wrote all the Batman stories for the first 25 years of Batman’s existence… without credit and being paid (comparative) peanuts. Meanwhile, while Finger was doing all the writing Kane hired ghost artists to do the artwork almost immediately as well, so he didn’t even draw the comic. Yet Kane’s name was the sole credit on anything Batman thanks to his savvy agreement negotiations, as well as most of the money that came from it. In the eyes of many people in the comic book industry, the greatest villain in Batman’s world is not the Joker or the Penguin… it’s Bob Kane.

The cover above is for a new book called Bill the Boy Wonder that tells the facts behind the creation of Batman and Bill Finger’s role in it, as well as his career. Incidentally it’s illustrated by one of my all time favorite comic book artists Ty Templeton. It’s written in a children’s book sort of format, and it tells a sad story about a man who was a true creative genius who never got his proper due, in fame and certainly not financially, for the amazing and influential work he did in comics during his lifetime. This book is a great intro to Finger’s career and contributions to one of the greatest of all comic book heroes.

Granted, all of this information about Batman’s origins are coming from multiple sources and second hand accounts, but few dispute the basic truth that Bill Finger had AT LEAST as much to do with Batman’s creation as Bob Kane, and most believe he created what counted about the character. In fact, if you are wondering what Batman would be like had Bob Kane been the sole creator as he claimed for most of his life, see this little gem also by Ty Templeton:


Me? I actually believe Bill Finger created Batman, or everything about him that counts. Why? Kane didn’t even draw the damn thing, and never did anything else of any note creatively at all. Some people even say he didn’t come up with the idea for Batman at all. There is just too much evidence against the idea he created much of anything at all. Just my personal belief.

Bill Finger’s 100th birthday is Feb 8th. It should be celebrated in the comics world as the birth of a creator that shaped the very fabric of the world of comics.

Caricatures at Twinsfest

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

I did a rare live gig last weekend for an event called “Twinsfest” in Minneapolis. It takes place in the dead of winter and features current and former players and coaches of the Minnesota Twins meeting and greeting fans, the selling of stuff and especially of ball park food and beverages, all at the (relatively) new Twins ballpark Target Field. No, it doesn’t happen on the field… that’s under about 3 feet of snow right now. Fortunately there are plenty of interior areas of the ballpark usually reserved for club members and corporate VIPs that were opened up to attendees. The event raises money for the Twins Community Fund, a charitable organization that does of lot of good work with youth programs and other worthwhile endeavors in the Twin Cities.

My buddy Jim Hungaski and I set up and drew Friday through Sunday, and were swamped most of the time. We worked on paper printed with “Twinsfest 2014″ and also had preprinted caricatures of Twins superstar Joe Mauer and fan favorite Brian Dozier, so you could get “Drawn with Joe or Brian”. We charged cheap prices because of our arrangement with the Twins, except we were selling a “You drawn with Joe Mauer” that was autographed and authenticated with a special MLB sticker for $75, almost all of which went to the Twins Community Fund. Here are some pics:

Tom TW 2

A fan gets drawn with Brian Dozier

Uhhh…. opening day is still a ways away.

Jim in action

I did mostly “Nice Guy” caricatures all weekend. Makes the crowds happy.

But if I DID Do it…

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

It would look like this…

12DoctorsClicky to embiggen…

Limited Artist’s Edition Sold Out! (For real this time)

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Sold Out!

That’s it! The Limited Artist’s Edition of my book is all sold out. To paraphrase the immortal Popeye: 120 editions is all there is, and there isn’t no mo’!

Many thanks to the 120 folks who ordered one of these, and for the patience many showed when it took me sometimes up to a month to get their book done. The folks who ordered the last several of these won’t have to wait that long, I should be able to get these last few done early next week.

Whoops… One Left!

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Looks like one of the final three backed out suddenly, so there is actually one left! Get it while it’s hot!

Limited Artist’s Editions Almost Gone!

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Is It Schilly in Here, or is it Just Me Dept.

If you have been thinking about getting one of the Limited Artist’s Editions of my book for yourself or as a gift for some MAD fan or caricaturist… now’s the time. There are exactly three left of the 120 limited editions, and when they are gone, they’re gone. Have a caricature of you or the person of your choice drawn by me inside a copy of The Mad Art of Caricature!, complete with a hand-numbered bookplate.

You send in your photos

Tom draws you on the half-title page! (click image to enlarge)

117 crazy lucky folks already have their limited artist’s edition… Don’t wait until they are gone!

Pirates Ahoy!

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Avast ye lubbers!I get the occasional email or other message from concerned individuals who write to tell me they have found my book The Mad Art of Caricature! available as a free PDF download here or there, and just wanted to make me aware of it. I really do appreciate that, but I am sadly very aware of it. These are copies someone has spent hours scanning in from a printed copy (presumably) cut up into individual pages. The images look terrible and the text is furry but it’s readable.

There is not much I can do about this, unless I want to spend all day every day scouring the internet for illegally uploaded copies and write web hosts demanding their removal. Even if I did have the time to do that, it would still prove fruitless because outside the U.S. (and even inside it) few people care about copyright infringement because legal action is almost impossible to take. Even worse, many seem to think it’s actually a GOOD thing that someone is stealing your work and giving it away.

For example, the Eastern Eurpoean Facebook rip-off social site VK.Com has a copy of it uploaded to their site by some user (and just to show you how dumb these people are they don’t even require someone to sign up to be a member to access it). This was one of the ones I have tried to take action with, simply because they seem like a legitimate site that might actually care about copyrights. Here’s how our exchange went.

Content Removal Request:

Hello. A user on your site has uploaded a copy of my book, The Mad Art of Caricature! as a PDF without my permission. This is a copyrighted book and I’d like to have it removed. I am both the author and publisher:

Tom Richmond

Links to disputed content provided in form.

Thank you!


Support agent #639

Hello, Tom!

Is it really so bad that people like your work and want to share it with each other? They make it popular. It is like free advertisement, isn’t it?

However, if you insist deletion, please, send us the contract with the publishing house.

Your VK team.

Wow. First I’m told this is something I should be grateful for. Then I’m asked to prove I am the copyright holder and it’s a legitimate copyright violation. You see, the person who uploaded the content does not have to prove he IS the copyright holder, or has their permission to upload it. They just have to click “upload” and then go get a sandwich. The onus is apparently on anyone who has the audacity to suggest that it is content the uploading party does not own and is being infringed upon. Clearly this person is not the author… his name is not on the cover of the book! Mine is, but I need to send them legal documents to prove it. I responded with the following:

Dear Agent #639

Here is my contract with the publishing house:

THIS PUBLISHING AGREEMENT is made and entered into as of this date, November 1, 2011, by and between Tom Richmond (HEREINAFTER REFERRED TO AS “Self”), and Tom Richmond, (hereinafter referred to as “Also Self”).

WHEREAS, Self publishes books under the name “Deadline Demon Publishing” (Hereinafter referred to as “Self Publisher”), and is in the business of publishing books:

AND WHEREAS, Also Self is an author and illustrator of books:

AND WHEREAS, Self and Also Self have agreed that Also Self has created and owns the copyrights for the content of a book entitled “The Mad Art of Caricature! A Serious Guide to Drawing Funny Faces” (Hereinafter referred to as “TMAoC”).

NOW THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual terms, covenants, conditions and agreements herein contained, and other good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged, the parties hereto agree as follows:

1. COPYRIGHT AGREEMENT: Also Self grants Self the copyrights to publish, in both print and digital form, TMAoC.

2. EXCLUSIVITY AGREEMENT: Also Self agrees that Self has sole permission to publish, disseminate, or otherwise make available, TMAoC to the World and the Entire Universe, including but not limited to extra dimensions be they known or as yet undiscovered. No other person, entity, organization, corporation, mutant, or supernatural being is granted or implied to be granted copyrights to publish, disseminate, or otherwise make available, TMAoC, in whole or in part.

3. TIME LIMIT: Also Self agrees that Self will retain the copyrights as set forth above in perpetuity and forever and forever, Amen, unless and until Self and Also Self agree to void this agreement and reassign said rights to another party in a new agreement.

4. MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS: This agreement contains the entire agreement between the parties hereto. No waiver, alteration, or modification of any of the provisions of this agreement shall be binding unless in writing and signed by both of the parties hereto. This agreement shall be binding upon and shall inure to the benefit of the parties hereto, their legal representatives, successors and assigns. This Agreement shall be governed by and construed under the laws of the state of Minnesota. In the event of any litigation arising out of this Agreement, including but not limited to appellate proceedings, the prevailing party shall be entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, as outrageous as those may be.


Please remove the infringing content from your site, even if the offending party is an extra-dimensional supernatural mutant, as per agreement.

Thank you

By the way, VK still has not removed the content.

This is exactly why I decided to create the official PDF of the book, and offer it for sale for the low, low price of $9.99 (cheap). This is really the only way to combat piracy… offer the content in a legitimate way for a reasonable price so people who understand why it’s important to support creators by buying their works have a way to do just that. You will always have unscrupulous people out there who will take something without paying for it, but there are also honest people who won’t and are happy to buy a copy if you just give them a way to do so.

I’ve sold a lot of PDF copies already, so as far as I am concerned the results are positive. Thank you if you are one of those who purchased the digital version. I do wish sites like VK would respect the copyrights of creators, and put the onus on the UPLOADERS to prove they own the copyrights, though. It’s tough enough to limit the availability of pirated content when it’s available through shady websites, let alone ones who are high profile and supposed to be legitimate.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes!

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Sunday night The Lovely Anna and I watched the third season premier of “Sherlock”, the updated re-imagining of the classic character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle… it was great as expected. As a Sherlockian myself, I love this show. I wrote a review of it when I posted the above drawings as a Sketch o’the Week a while ago. All of what I said in that review stands true in the new episode, which bodes well for the rest of the season. I especially love the nods to some of the original canon in a few of the side stories and quick moments… among those in this past episode was the brief appearance of Mary Sutherland and her step-father from the 1891 story “A Case of Identity”.

Possibly the most fascinating thing about the show is how much it demonstrates both the timeless nature of the Holmes characters and stories, and how little our world has really changed in its fundamentals since the late 1800′s. Nearly everything that was important about the original stories fits neatly into our world of today, even though 126 years have passed since the first Holmes story appeared in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1887. Holmes is once again a celebrated and famous amateur detective thanks to the writings of Dr. John Watson, but his magazine and newspaper articles have been replaced by a blog. The wires and multiple postal deliveries that made up modern communications in the Victorian era are replaced by texting, but essentially serve the same purpose and in the same manner. Hansoms are now mini-cabs on the London streets. Holmes’ network of poor, anonymous, and ignored street urchins, the “Baker Street Irregulars” are now the poor, anonymous, and ignored homeless people of the city. Holmes’ vast indexes and newspaper clippings from the multiple newspapers of the day are replaced by the internet. It’s all there, but defined by 21st century technology.

I find it amazing that, despite the obvious advances in technology in the last 125 years, that so much of what we have today was essentially there in the late 18th century… albeit slower and more cumbersome in its delivery and execution. The Victorian era was a time when science and technology began to change the lives of even ordinary people… the proliferation and inexpensive availability of newspapers and other mass-communication publications, convenient public transportation and the slow but growing education of the public filled the time with glowing optimism even in the face of great poverty in some areas of the world. Holmes was one of the catalysts in that great public intellectual growth… and “Sherlock” delivers the same wonder and fascination the original stories did for those readers who were so outraged when Conan Doyle killed off his Great Detective that their outcry eventually brought him back.

Now, “Elementary” on the other hand… >:(


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