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Dreaded Deadline Demon

Friday, January 9th, 2015

The Dreaded Deadline DemonNow showing for the foreseeable future…

Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

newyears2015Here’s hoping your 2015 kicks 2014’s ass. It’s not looking good, I am already tired of “Back to the Future” references.

D’OH! …Stupid Caricatures!

Friday, December 26th, 2014

DanCLast May at the NCS Reuben Awards Weekend in San Diego, Reubens Master of Ceremonies Tom Gammill put together a great video intro featuring a montage of clips from “The Simpsons” that featured gags about cartoons, comics, cartoonists and MAD Magazine. There were a surprising number of them, including a few cartooning luminaries like Cathy Guisewite, Sergio Aragonés and Mell Lazarus (among some others I can’t quite remember) being “Simpsonized”. After the video there was an audio clip featuring Homer Simpson as voiced by Dan Castellaneta opening the evening:

I did the above quick ink and watercolor caricature as a thank you to Dan for doing that. Tom G presented it to him at the last read Simpsons read through of the fall. A huge thank you to Tom Gammill for making that all happen. It was a really fun touch to the evening.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014


The Happiest of Holidays to all, from the Richmonds (throwback Christmas Card circa 1999 above)!

Sunday Mailbag- Shipping Art?

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Sunday Mailbag!

Q: I was wondering if you could share your shipping methods. Specifically, how do you box up your prints and/or commission work for shipping and what advise you would give to others on how to prepare artwork for shipping in an efficient manner. I feel like I spend way too much time getting artwork boxed up in a safe way that makes me confident it will arrive in one piece. Thanks!

A: This is actually a big concern because shippers do not treat packages very well, especially at the sorting stage. Trust me I know… I worked at UPS for about 6 weeks when I was going to school at the University of Minnesota. Packages were tossed, shoved, dropped and tumbled all around various conveyor belts and chutes on their way to their respective trucks. You need to pack defensively, expecting that sort of treatment and guarding against damage. That mostly means making sure the package has sufficient space between what’s inside and the edge of the box to absorb some damage without affecting the art or print inside.

The prints I sell are easy to ship. I carefully roll them up with a piece of heavy paper that extends past the ends of the rolled print. Then I put it in a poly-bag tube and then into a heavy duty cardboard shipping tube. The paper and the poly bag stuff the ends in tight when the tube is sealed, holding the print in place and protecting the ends from getting damaged. The tube is thick enough that a heavy person would have to step right on it to crush it at all… having even heavy packages on top of it won’t do it. Cheaper tubes would provide less protection.

The books are easier to ship. I use a self-sealing, stiff and padded shipping envelope for them, first putting the book into a plastic sleeve to prevent the pages or cover from rubbing against the inside of the envelope. Then I fold the flap and part of the envelope down until it is tight against the edge of the book, really locking it in there. Then I use a piece of packing tape to reinforce the flap and it’s edges so it cannot pop open if the adhesive fails or the edge of the flap catches on something. I’ve had some books damaged in shipment, but only really egregious mishandling can do it.

Original art is the really tricky item to ship. This is especially true of my original pages from MAD, which are HUGE at 17″ x 22″. There is no easy way to do this. The important thing is to leave plenty of room between the edge of the original and the edge of the packing, and to make the package thick enough so it can’t easily be bent.

I make me own packages out of foam core, but first I cover the art with a flap of heavy paper and tape it with artist’s tape so the surface of the original in protected. Then I cut a piece of foamcoare that is 3 inches more in width and length than the original is. I tape the artwork to the surface of this first piece of foamcore making sure that there is  1.5 inches of space all around the outside of the art. Then I cut at least two more pieces of foam core the same size as the first, and sandwich the first piece between them. This will usually do it, but with some of those big MAD pages I will add a fourth piece of foamcore because the surface area is so large. It would be easy for the edges of the package to get caught up somehow and some other package  or weight to end up on the top, bowing the whole thing down and maybe creasing it. Three layers is plenty of anything 11 x 17″ or less though.

One other thing, I always send original art via a trackable service and if possible require a signature for delivery. In this day and age of online shopping and shipping, packages left on doorsteps tend to disappear, and originals are not replaceable.

Thanks to Sean Platt 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!

Holiday Gift Time Running Out!

Friday, December 12th, 2014


Studio Store Banner smallIf you are like me, you just woke up this morning, looked at the calendar and thought, “Oh, crap! It’s less than two weeks until Christmas Day and I still haven’t gotten any gifts bought for anybody!” Actually if you really ARE like me that ephinany happens to you 0n the 23rd or 24th of December. If that happened to you this morning, you are light years ahead of the game!

In that light, here’s one last pitch to get that special geek in your life something odd different for the holidays at The Studio Store! Times a-running out to get your stuff shipped to you in time for wrapping and placing under the tree, but I’ll be making daily runs to the post office up until Christmas and guarantee your order with ship the next day! Here are some shortcuts to some of the stuff we’ve got in stock for holiday giving:


Limited Edition “Bats in the Belfry” Batman caricature timeline print- $25


Limited Edition “the Game is Afoot” Sherlock caricature timeline print- $25

The 11 Doctors!

Artist proof “The Doctor is In” Doctor Who caricature timeline print- $20

SIGNED COPY of The Mad Art of Caricature!- $20

SIGNED (by Tom) COPY of The Bro Code for Parents- $10.99

On the Drawing Board- 12/9/14

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

I am swamped right now to the point of near panic, thanks to a week out of the studio and multiple time consuming jobs now due, about due, and overdue:

  • Jeff Dunham Illustrations- Several down but one more to finish on a multiple illustration job for some products for Jeff’s new Las Vegas show
  • Z People Comic- Inking and coloring pages galore
  • Penthouse- Just finished three new Dave Navarro caricatures for his column in the magazine, with a set of three more to go
  • Marlin Co. Poster- My usual monthly assignment
  • NCS Reuben Awards Brochure- Will debut this next month when it’s in member’s mailboxes
  • Private commission- Long LONG overdue

Whew. Not sure if I’ll have time for Christmas.

Here’s last month’s Marlin poster illustration, rough sketch and final color:



Cosplaying the Fool?

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

bats1.jpgI’ve been known to Cosplay a bit…

Late this week a minor brouhaha ensued after comic book artist Pat Broderick posted a lot of negative comments about the rise of “cosplay” at conventions. Bleeding Cool covered the story and some of the arguments both in support and disagreement with Pat’s take. Pat was more than a little harsh, saying cosplayers bring “no value” to conventions and convention promoters that focus on cosplay as a draw for their shows are doing a disservice to the industry. To provide some context, Pat is just returning to comics after two decades of doing art in other media venues like animation and advertising, so likely his perspective is of the time-warp variety.

I’m hardly a household name in the comics industry, being most known for my work in a publication that is at best on the fringes of the mainstream comics world. That said, I have been doing a lot of conventions in the last couple of years, and have seen firsthand the rise of cosplay as a major part of many shows. I could not disagree with Pat Broderick more.

I do not see how anything can be bad about fans becoming so enthusiastic about the characters created by and worked on by artists like Pat that they spend countless hours putting together costumes like the ones you see on the floors of comic cons today. It’s a way for fans to connect to the stories and characters they love, gets A LOT of press and attention brought to comic cons (and as a result comics), and ultimately promotes the industry as a whole. If cosplay results in bringing tens of thousands more people into comic cons and, by extension, into comic book shops, then it’s a good thing for the industry.

Are all cosplayer’s doing it for the love of comics and the characters? No, of course not. There are some who probably don’t even know the slightest bit about whatever character they are dressed up as… other than they have the right sized boobs to be Powergirl. So what? You always have the gatecrashers, narcissists, and “hey look at me” types in every group, and the fact that they are showing up at comic cons is actually another positive sign. Only the groups that are getting real attention get a fair share of the poseurs, which means that group is a relevant group. Besides, the poseurs are a small minority. Most cosplayers are of the real fan variety… they may not look like Captain America with their pot belly and spats, but they do it for the fun and love of the genre. Only a handful do it for the attention alone with no actual love of comics.

I have to admit I am a bit mystified by “professional” cosplayers. These are people who comic con promoters actually pay to bring in and appear at the show as a draw. I’d think their money was better served bringing in any of the actors from “Arrow”, “The Walking Dead” or other comic-book based TV shows or films, but whatever floats your boat. Cosplay pros probably cost a fraction for the money an actor would cost to bring in, and maybe the bang for the buck is greater there. Whatever you might think of these folks, their dedication to their craft is pretty awe inspiring.

I will say that I have had my fair share of annoying run ins with copslayers at conventions, but they mostly involve simple lack of courtesy or awareness that there are thousands of other people about other than you in your outfit. I’ve slammed into people who stop abruptly in the middle of a crowded walkway while some inconsiderate cosplayer stops to spread his/her cape/wings/cloak while a dozen equally inconsiderate people try and take pictures on their smartphones. I’ve had cosplayers stop right in front of my booth and block its view as they get pics snapped right and left. BREAKING NEWS: If you are surprised a crowd of any size has a fair share of totally oblivious assholes who range from inconsiderate to downright rude, then welcome to humanity… it’s been around for a while. That is not going to change. Much of the fault with these problems lies with the convention organizers, who don’t seem to make any efforts to ease these issues by perhaps providing cosplay areas for photos and interaction, or messages discouraging the inconsiderate stopping or loitering for such pictures.

There are some bad things that go along with the cosplay phenomenon, but in the end I think anything that gets people interested in comics as an art form and entertainment is a good thing.

Happy Birthday Jack Davis!

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

The great Jack Davis is 90 years old today!

This from a post here in 2006:

Any conversation about the greatest and most influential cartoonists of the last half century must, at some point, include the name Jack Davis. From the notorious E.C. horror comics of the 1950?s to MAD Magazine to TIME and TV Guide covers, record covers, movie posters, advertising, animation design and even US postage stamps, Davis’s art has entertained, amazed and inspired generations.

John Burton “Jack” Davis Jr. was born in Atlanta, GA on December 2nd, 1924. An incurable doodler, the young Jack Davis drew on textbooks, writing tablets and anything else he could get his hands on. As a young man he did his share of cartoons for his high school newspaper and school annuals, having developed a love of cartooning and “funny drawin’”. He joined and served in the Navy during World War 2, and they promptly put his talents to work on Navy publications in the P.R. department out of Pensacola, FL. He was eventually shipped off to Guam, but his drawing talents could not be repressed. While there he developed a strip called “Boondocker“, which was published in the Navy News.

Jack returned to the states in 1946 and studied art at the University of Georgia under the G.I. bill. While at U of G he did cartoons and illustrations for the college paper and humor magazine, and spent his summers cartooning for the Atlanta Journal newspaper. He also assisted on the syndicated comic strip “Mark Trail” by Ed Dodd. Eventually a good paying job illustrating a training manual for the Coca-Cola company netted Jack enough money to buy a car and and finance a trip to New York City to pursue bigger and better assignments.

He arrived in New York City, portfolio in hand and confidence high. His car was promptly stolen and a con man swindled him out of his savings… welcome to New York, Jack! Undeterred, Jack spent six months scraping by working for small publishers and the New York Herald Tribune while pounding the pavement in search of more substantial work. Eventually his path led to the door of E.C. Comics. He had found a home, and his artwork had found the perfect creative outlet for it to flourish.

E.C. publisher Bill Gaines and editor Al Feldstein made Jack one of their cornerstone artists. According to Feldstein, Jack’s subtly humorous touch on the gruesome stories in comics like “Tales from the Crypt”, made them more palatable to readers (if not to congressmen). Jack’s natural speed with his art, and the versatility that allowed him to work with equal success on horror, war, crime and humor stories made him almost indispensable. Jack had so much work that he was known to ink pages on the train into Manhattan from his apartment in Westchester, and place them on Bill Gaine’s desk with the ink barely dry.

When Harvey Kurtzman was tapped by Gaines to create MAD, Davis was one of the first artists Kurtzman turned to. Jack did the lead story in MAD #1, a send-up of his own E.C. horror story comic work. Jack continued to work with E.C. until Kurtzman’s departure in 1957. Jack followed Kurtzman to “Trump” and other short lived humor publications. He returned to MAD in 1966, but by then he had become very successful in other venues of freelance. He contributed regularly to MAD doing TV and movie parodies and illustrations for other features, but he also did a great many other jobs for a variety of high profile, high paying clients incluing TIME, LIFE, Esquire, Playboy and TV Guide, movie posters like “The Bad News Bears”, record covers for the likes of Johnny Cash and Jerry Reed, countless advertising jobs and book illustrations, and even animation design for ABC’s “The Jackson 5? and various commercials. Jack was one of the most prolific and recognized illustrators of the 60?s, 70?s, 80?s and 90?s.

He is also easily one of the most imitated cartoonists in the history of the medium. Many lesser cartoonists made all or part of their living doing “Jack Davis art” on jobs where Jack was either unavailable or the client was unwilling to pay the rates his work and status deserved. Part of the reason there were so many Davis clones was that his artwork was incredibly unique and singularly recognizable, and it was difficult to be influenced by his work without directly aping his style. Jack Davis drawn hands only work in a Jack Davis world, and that means Jack Davis feet and Jack Davis lamp posts and Jack Davis arm chairs… you get the idea. Jack’s style in both pen and ink and his rich, earthy watercolors amazed even his contemporaries. One story goes like this: a fellow successful cartoonist asked Jack how he achieved such an interesting and unique color palette with his watercolors. The inquisitive artist could not seem to get similar colors no matter how he mixed them. Jack admitted that he used pond water when he painted with watercolors… he just trudged on down to the lake, filled up a jar and took it back to the studio.

When I first started working for MAD, both Nick Meglin and Sam Viviano gave me advice about the nature of great cartooning, and it was no surprise that Jack Davis was the example they both cited. The essence of what they told me was that a great cartoonist creates a world populated by people, objects, places and things all seen through their eyes… and all drawn in a way that creates a believable and cohesive world to the viewer. You cannot draw a goofy, cartoony dog peeing on a realistically drawn fire hydrant and convince the viewer they are looking through a window into a cartoonist’s singular world… the juxtaposition of the different looks is confusing. The fire hydrant and the dog need to be drawn in a similar fashion, so they look like they belong together and are seen thorough one set of eyes that see the entire world in their own unique way. “Jack Davis’s drawings of a chair, a car, a person and a cat all look like they were drawn by Jack Davis, and they look like they belong in a Jack Davis world,” Sam told me once. “That is what makes Jack’s world so convincing.”

Jack also taught me something about being a professional illustrator. He understands that, no matter how emotionally invested an artist might be in a particular piece he/she is working on, at the end of the day it’s just a job and that is just another drawing. That sounds cynical or defeatist perhaps, but I think it’s just realistic and putting things in perspective. If I feel myself getting bent out of shape when an art director wants me to change all the things in a piece I think are making it successful and turn in into a piece of crap, I just remember Jack saying how easy it is to let go and start again. “It’s just another drawin’”, he’d say. Great talent makes it seem so easy…

Happy 90th birthday, Jack. Thanks for the inspiration and awe-inducing work you’ve thrilled us with for seven decades.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Here’s hoping you have a wonderful holiday with friends and family!


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