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Dancing Groot

Sunday, September 21st, 2014
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I’m posting this for my kids, who loved this scene in “Guardians of the Galaxy”.

Holy Brushwork, Batman!

Friday, September 19th, 2014


Kind of busy right now so no time for much of a blog post today. Here’s another piece I had framed up at the same time I got the “Fools of Rock” piece done.

Occasionally you get some nice perks for being president of the NCS, and this is one. If you call the great Jack Davis up and ask him if he’d be willing to do a drawing of Batman for the NCS’s Comic-Con T-shirt, and about a week later an original piece of art like this shows up in your mailbox, you get to hang it on your wall when the T-shirt production is done. :D

Twitter Card Woes

Saturday, September 13th, 2014


A couple of weeks ago fellow caricaturist/illustrator Hamilton Cline dropped me a line to ask why I didn’t use Twitter Cards for my tweets, seeing as how most of my posts have images that would be a lot more interesting to look at than a simple URL would be.

My answer was “What the $%#@ are ‘Twitter Cards’?”

Well since then I have been trying to get this figured out. I’ve set up the proper code through a WordPress Plug-in (JP Twitter Cards). I have applied for a Twitter DEV account (not sure I ever got approved, actually). I have set up and validated several posts using the Twitter card Validator, and they looks great in the previews.

No love when WordPress generates my automatic tweet when I post. Just the usual boring:

I tried again to tweak the setting to make it work with this post and this old image, but again no dice. I am at a loss. If any web-saavy readers want to fill me in on what I am doing wrong, I’d love to find out.

UPDATE- Looks like I have my answer. I am actually doing everything right, and my Twitter Cards are working just as they should be. The reason they are not displaying the images and summary automatically is that Twitter does not allow that. Only images uploaded to Twitter directly or Vines are allowed to display by default. Twitter cards have a “Show Summary” link on them that will expand the tweet to show the actual Twitter card. All my tweets have such a link, so they are working correctly.

What a disappointment. What’s the use of having a more visual Tweet is it still needs a click through to see it? That’s what link in the original tweet is for. Useless.

Chicago Comic Con 2014!

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Chicago Comic-Con Booth

Spent a good part of last week manning a booth at the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con. Had a great time and met a lot of fans of MAD… the animated (and now lamentably cancelled) show on the Cartoon Network really started a lot of kids on the magazine. The pic above is of my booth. The new Batman print sold pretty well, as did the Sherlock print and a good portion of the extra Doctor Who prints I had left over from the original printing, which I am selling as “artist proof” prints. I still have a few handfuls left but they are going fast. I’m only selling them at these conventions.

I also did a lot of drawing at this con, both caricatures of people and of requested celebrities. Here’s a couple celebs I was asked to draw:



Oh Boy…

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

The Dreaded Deadline Demon

Paying the price for that trip I took all last week into Monday…

RIP Robin Williams

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

On the Stands: MAD #529!

Monday, August 11th, 2014


In comic book shops, on the iPad and in subscribers mailboxes now, on news stands everywhere tomorrow:

  • Cover (Mark Fredrickson)
  • The Fundalini Pages (Rick Tulka, Jeff Kruse, Kevin Pope, J.C. Duffy, Matt Lassen, Jason Mustian, Chris Houghton, Peter Bagge, Megan O’Leary, Sam Sisco, Bob Eckstein, Mike Morse, Paul Coker, Kenny Keil, Dick DeBartolo, Tom Bunk, Garth Gerhart, P.C. Vey)
  • Perfect Bacon Bed- A MAD Ad Parody (Artist: Scott Bricher)
  • Snark Tank (Dick DeBartolo, Tom Richmond)
  • Your Parents Say to You…/One Day You Will Say to Them… (Matt Lassen, Tim Hamilton)
  • Spy vs. Spy (Peter Kuper)
  • Questions We’d Like to Ask Justin Bieber (Matt Lassen, Hermann Mejia)
  • A MAD Look at Grilling (Sergio Aragonès, colorist: Jim Campbell)
  • What Has Luke Skywalker Been Up To For The Last 30 Years? (Jonathan Bresman, Anton Emdin)
  • The Worst People to Sit Near on a Plane (Teresa Burns Parkhurst)
  • A Google Glass Wearer’s Photo Album (Frank Jacobs, John Kerschbaum)
  • The Mad Vault- From MAD #202, Oct 1978 (Artist: Al Jaffee, Writer: Paul Peter Porges)
  • When Twitter’s Maximum Character Rule Saves People From Saying Too Much (Writer: Evan Waite)
  • A Disgraced Politician’s Guide to Do’s and Dont’s (John Caldwell)
  • The Strip Club (Nathan Cooper, Peet Tamburino, Emily Flake, Kit Livley & Scott Nickel, Mike Jacobsen)
  • The 50 Worst Things About Food (Writer: Desmond Devlin, Artists: Peter Kuper, Josh Mecouch, Justin Peterson, Rich Powell)
  • The Best of the Idiotical (Uncredited)
  • Drawn Out Dramas- Various places throughout the magazine (Sergio Aragonès)
  • The MAD Fold-In (Al Jaffee)
  • The iPad Air- A MAD Ad Parody (Uncredited)

This issue I do the art for Dick DeBartolo’s parody of the reality show “Shark Tank”. Look for a sneak peek at that tomorrow!

Now, What are you waiting for… a fershlugginer invitation?!? Go out and buy a copy, clod!

How Long Can MAD Keep Going?

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014


According to editor John Ficarra in this article… forever. He cites that while circulation on newsstands has fluctuated and dropped over the years, the subscriber base of 100,o00 stays almost perfectly constant.

So how long can Mad maintain its current state? Forever, Ficarra insists. He’s quick to point out that although newsstand sales are down, the number of Mad subscribers — roughly 100,000 — has held steady for pretty much its entire life. For generations of kids, he’s seen a pattern in the subscribers: They pick it up around the age of 12, drop it at age 16, then subscribe again out of nostalgia in their 20s. The average age of a Mad reader is 24.

The article is a good read on the current status of MAD and its content.

From the Freelance Files

Friday, August 1st, 2014


I’ve written here many times that, as a freelancer, you sometimes end up with some really off-the-wall jobs that take you outside the realms of your usual kind of client. The above image is one of those.

Earlier in the spring I got a call about a job designing someone’s 50th birthday invitation. That kind of call or email is not unusual, I get a lot of those kinds of requests asking if I’ll do a caricature of grandma and grandpa for their anniversary, or somebody’s boss for his birthday. Those calls seldom end up as real jobs, however, frankly because those asking don’t understand I have to charge publication or advertising illustration rates for that kind of work… and they are thinking theme park caricature prices.

This was different. The person calling me was the art director of a design firm, and the person throwing the party is a media executive and had a real budget for his invitations and related artwork (also for the bands, Seether is pretty well known, and the party is in a major theater). He’s also a fan of MAD and wanted a MAD-like feel to the art (I’ve pixeleated the names and details for privacy reasons).

The concept is a reality TV show theme, and they have lots of creative plans for the event. I was asked to create the art for a poster/invitation/web portal featuring the birthday boy and his friends and family in some “reality show” type settings. Ended up being a fun project and the people involved were a joy to work with. Sometimes these personal sort of jobs become nightmares, but this one was a good experience and the client was happy with the end result.

I can’t believe Mark Zuckerberg didn’t call me to do his 30th birthday party invitation last May. Oh wait… yes, I can believe that.

“Fan Art” and Copyrights

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
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I get asked quite a bit about the legality of selling the Limited Edition prints I have been offering the last few years. Having just got back from Comic-Con, the issue of selling images featuring characters you do not have the copyrights to is an obviously major one. Walking through the exhibit floor, you see booth after booth selling products based on or featuring characters they do not own the rights to. Professional comic book artists do private commissions of Superman, Spider-man or whatever character they are asked to draw. Sort of professional artists sell posters or prints of Batgirl or the Walking Dead players or other characters they do not own the rights to. The big question is, is this legal? The answer is very simple. No, it absolutely is not legal. It is copyright infringement. Unless you have been granted permission by the copyright owner, you cannot draw or sell images of their copyrighted characters. That is the letter of the law.

The reality of how these laws are applied it is little bit different.

The above video is a presentation by Josh Wattles, who is the adviser in chief to deviantART and a lawyer who has done a lot of work on copyright issues. It’s very long, but the information in it is invaluable for understanding why people at Comic-Con and other places get away with what they get away with, and the legal precipice they are balancing on by doing that they do. The short version is they get away with it at the whim of those who do own the copyrights, who could choose to put the legal hammer down if they so wished, but they do not with the understanding that good will among fans and the copyright owners is worth more to them than taking the legal action they are entitled to take.

How does this all apply to what I am doing? If there is a loophole in copyright law it is parody, and because what I do is making fun of the characters and commenting on them through visual humor, my prints are defensible under the parody exception. That’s why I do not include any trademarks in the art I do, like the Doctor Who or James Bond logos. I also don’t use any trademarks in the name of the print. It’s all visual humor and caricature. Finally, these are limited edition prints, not open ended poster products. That’s an important distinction when it comes to the claim of parody with any property… limited edition prints are considered “fine art”, and that is an acceptable form of expression opinion. Products like T-shirts, coffee mugs or mousepads are not.

So, are my parodies of copyrighted characters ok under the letter of the law? No one knows for sure unless the case goes before a court and they decide. Having a decent defense argument does not guarantee you win that court case. It’s certainly a lot more defensible than someone selling realistic drawings of Captain America as posters. The industry has a tolerance for this kind of thing, but it is definitely “swim at your own risk”.

If you are interested in hearing a real life view of these copyright issues, the hour of time this video takes is well spent.


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