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Diary of a MAD Job Revisited: Part 4!

September 4th, 2014

Now that the pencils are finished, it’s time for the inking. This has always been the toughest part for me. I don’t know too many comic artists who ever feel their inked work is as effective as their pencils are, and you can count me among them. No matter how much I’ve done it, I always begin an inking job with trepidation and a certain amount of nervousness. Over the years I’ve learned to trust myself a bit more, but I still wouldn’t say it’s easy. To get started, I take out a #3 (.80) Rapidiograph pen and rule the balloons and tails, bleed and panel edges. That’s the easy part. Now comes the real inking.

Inking is about drawing, not just tracing your lines. You have to follow the lines you’ve drawn but not be a slave to them. In order to do this I look at the same reference I used to draw the pencils when I ink. Essentially you are drawing it all over again, but with the ink this time. Now I am much more conscious of line weights, using black areas to create shadows and contrast, and trying to imply depth of field. In certain ways, because I know this work is going to be colored in PhotoShop, I don’t have to work that hard to lay down a lot of black areas, define forms with hard shadows or work up many values with crosshatching because all the value work can be done with the color. However, I have always felt the work looks best if the inks can mostly stand on their own, when the color is used to enhance the art, not carry it. So, I try to ink like I want the piece to look good in black and white. Of course, that’s a lot more work, so I pick and choose where I want to do this if pressed for time. In the example of the inks for this piece below, the large upper panel uses a lot of blacks and a fair amount of cross hatching, and it stands well enough alone without the color. The panels across the bottom have less contrast and values, and they’ll need the color to be more substantial. I’d say I did that for artistic reasons, but truth to tell I was getting tired and just wanted to go to bed.

Click for a closer look.

I ink mostly with a dip pen. My primary nib is the Gillott 303, and I use “Pelikan’s Drawing Ink A”. This is a nice, flexible nib but has forgiving edges on the tip that allow for a reasonable amount of sideways movement. Try to do that with a crow quill pen like a Hunt 102, and you get a “skkkrritch” followed by a splatter of ink which is immediately followed by some serious profanity, gnashing of teeth and hurling of heavy objects… and that’s just how my wife reacts! You should see what I do when that happens. It isn’t pretty. For my heavy lines and ones I want to be especially smooth I use a brush. A Winsor Newton Series 7 to be precise, either a #1 or #2 depending on the thickness of line needed. Inking with a brush is easier in some ways and harder in others. It’s easier to get a smooth line, the ink dries almost right away and you can get very fine hairlines and thick, broad lines from the same brush. The hard part is that you cannot change direction very easily, and it takes a lot more concentration to ink well with a brush. I get sloppy with it after 15 minutes or so. Mixing a brush and pen nib gives you the best of both worlds, except for one problem. When you erase the pencils after inking, brush lines tend to lift up some and become gray, where as pen lines stay nice and black, and that shows up in the scans. To try and combat this, I use a thicker, denser ink for the brush like “Black Star” or “FW”.

I start with the thickest lines and the areas of the panels I want to be the focus. This is where I want the eye to go. Often that means that area or figure has the boldest lines and most contrast, but sometimes I’ll do the opposite so the lightness of the object makes it stick out. I try to think about where the thick and thin lines need to go to add interest to the focus of the panel. Backgrounds I use less contrast and less line variation, with thinner lines. I also do not ink all the way to the edge of a foreground or focal object, so there is a slight separation from it and the background elements. This helps bring objects or figures into the foreground. Here are two close ups of the inks for this splash:




Bored yet? I am by now. Inking can be tedious work as it takes time and I am often fighting the materials. I need to ink things out of sequence so I can allow some areas to dry before I can go back to do more inking in that spot. Otherwise my hand smears the ink, and there is more gnashing of teeth and profanity. I also run into bad nibs, nibs that need to get broken in a bit, nibs that break in too fast and I have to toss, and ink that is either too thin or too thick. I will struggle for a while, then get into a groove where I think, “Hey, this inking thing isn’t hard at all! I must be getting the hang of it!” Then my pen blops ink down my board and things get ugly. Another tip: if you drink soda or whatever from cans while inking, please remember which cans are the fresh ones and which you have dumped old ink into, or this could be you…


Once the main inks are done on a board I erase the whole thing with a white plastic eraser. These things leave eraser shaving everywhere, but kneadable erasers just don’t do the job… too many pencil lines left. They used to make these giant white plastic erasers (2 inches wide, I think) which really worked great until some genius at the product department level decided to discontinue them. Now I use the little ones.

Once the erasing is done, I go back in with some smaller markers like a Pitt, Copic or Micron or a roller ball pen and add little touches… maybe some cross hatching, or some scribbling for texture. I might thicken up a line here and there. I will go in with white-out and fix errors and add white buffers between some lines. I still use the white-out because it’s easier to spot your mistakes looking over the board than it is when scrolling across a computer screen. Half the time I forget I messed up in some spot and never fix it if I leave it for the computer stage.

Inking is a trying process for me, but eventually I get through it. I do my best inking late at night with the audiobooks going and distractions at level zero. I have to lay off the caffeine, though, or my lines would look like I did them in an earthquake. Once the inking is done, it’s all about the caffeine, baby. That’s because by now the deadline is really looming, and the next step, the scanning and the color don’t require a steady hand.

Tomorrow: Scan-o-rama and Color Me Stupid or Bring on the Monster Lo-Carb!

Diary of a MAD Job Revisited: Part 3!

September 3rd, 2014

Once the pencil roughs are approved with the gang at MAD, I can move on to the final pencils. This is the stage where most of the hard work occurs. The first thing I do is transfer the roughs on to the final boards. I do this by blowing up my scans of the roughs to 200% of original size, and then printing them off on 11×17 paper. In the case of a splash, I have to use the 13×19 paper and print the image in quarters, then trim and tape them together. With the story pages, a typical row of panels fits an 11×17 page and I print each row separately. I then use a large, home-made light table to redraw the roughs onto the final boards. I just do very quick sketches at this point, to get the basic shapes and panel layouts on the boards.

I have my reference printouts strewn all around me as I dig into the final pencils on the bristol boards with a mechanical leadholder and an HB or F 2mm lead. Here I need to work out the drawings fully including backgrounds, caricatures, etc. How long this takes me depends on how I am drawing at the time… sometimes everything just flows off the pencil and it’s almost effortless, but sometimes I get stuck on something and it drives me crazy. I will whip out several panels very fast and things will be moving along, then I get stuck on a particular body or hand or some other element. For some reason I can’t translate what I see in my head to the paper. That’s when I need to walk away for a little while and come back fresh. It can be very frustrating. I once set up a heavy bag in my basement and went in and boxed with it to clear my head, then it occurred to me I was smashing my drawing hand over and over with all my might into an 80 pound leather bag of sand… this did not seem smart to me, so now I just go and throw rocks at the neighbor’s dogs for a while.

Usually by this time my previous procrastinating and/or the usual distractions of working in my home have tightened the deadline somewhat, so endurance now comes into the equation. I don’t knock off after dinner every night, but spend one or two late nights working the final pencils up. Not too late at this point… those nights are coming. The pencil stage still demands too much focus and concentration to pull all-nighters.

Final pencils on Strathmore bristol
click for a closer look

I work my drawings up to provide a good base for inking, but don’t add every fingernail and hair follicle… some drawing needs to be left for the inking. I am still very insecure about inking, so my pencils are probably still too tight for their own good. Inking is at it’s best when the inker actually draws with the ink, rather than trying to duplicate the line qualities of the drawing itself. I’m still a little intimidated by the permanence of the ink (White-Out cannot bail you out of everything) so I do more work with the pencil than I need to.

At this stage I am still brainstorming for background gags. Many of the ones I came up with in the roughs I keep, but some I dump and come up with new ones. I try and reference other pop-culture elements or famous people/images that relate to the subject. My favorite sight gags are either total non-sequiturs, or ones that play on current events. Adding Dick Cheney with a shotgun in the background of any scene in the woods, for example, was begging to be a sight gag when the hunting incident went down (see: ancient history). Will Elder filled his panels for MAD with sight gags in a technique he called “Chicken Fat”, squeezing gags into every available space. I have always considered that a highlight of the MAD experience, and try to follow suit. I do try and avoid the easy “sign” gags, though. Sometimes I use them, but I prefer a real sight gag, which makes people think a little.

Concerning caricatures, at this point I am drawing them all the time. Typically I will have to draw the lead characters in a parody between six and a dozen times, at different angles and with different expressions to match the action. Naturally it’s impossible to have reference pictures of each person doing just what I need them to do at the angle I need them in, so many of the caricatures are ad-libbed. The way I do this is I try to pick out what is really important about the subject’s features… the head shape, the mouth, the eyebrows… whatever makes them unique. I then follow through with these elements as anchors in each drawing I do. Along the way, I have several “keystone” caricatures of each character. The keystone caricatures are detailed ones I did from actual reference from the film or TV show. This way, it makes the ones I fake in between more convincing. Of course, if I blow the keystone ones the whole house of cards falls apart, but unless your name is Mort Drucker you can’t win them all.

I also draw the final pencils with bleeds on all panels and page edges. For the outside bleeds, I draw and extra 1/4 inch past the panel edges so at print size the production department has a 1/8 inch bleed to work with. In the gutter between panels, I just draw a line down the middle of the space and draw the panels to the line. Sam Viviano taught me that trick. It’s just important to remember this is wasted space and not to put anything important too close or into this bleed area or it might get lost. You might also notice that I leave all the word balloons drawn in. I will be inking their borders by hand and coloring around them. I never saw any logic in drawing, inking and painting areas that will never be seen. With the bleeds I understand the need, but unless there is some question as to the placement or sizing of the text, I include the word balloons in the final art.

Once I am done with the final pencils they are ready to ink. In very rare occasions MAD wants me so send them parts of the final pencils that might need review… usually only if we changed something drastically from the roughs at the first review stage. Honestly I cannot remember the last time that happened. If everything is a “go” then it’s on to the inking!

Tomorrow: Inking a go-go or scratch-scratch-scratch-SPLAAATTTT!

Diary of a MAD Job Revisted: Part 2!

September 2nd, 2014

The next step in a MAD job is the package I get from the art department. In it is a copy of the script, printouts of the layouts and the reference materials they have gathered and the boards. The boards large pieces of Strathmore bristol with all the pages, panel borders and text boxes drawn in pencil. These are usually done by longtime MAD production guru Lenny “The Beard” Brenner (I get nothing from MAD other than the emailed script and layout images these days. I layout my own boards with the text boxes etc. This deal has been getting more and more onesided over the years!). The boards are drawn at 200% of print size, so a full page is 16.25 x 21 trim size. That is big, being that comics are usually drawn at 150% of print size, but who am I to argue with 50 years of tradition? I now have everything I need to get started and really begin the creative process!

Thinking about starting my MAD job…

Okay, I have been known to procrastinate now and then, but sometimes I just need to gather my creative forces and begin to channel them into the job, focusing on the task…

Getting some “encouragement” from the missus

Okay, sometimes I need The Lovely Anna to gently remind me she needs a new pair of shoes and to get busy.

Back on the job, my next step is the “roughs”. At this stage I work directly on the layouts that I printed on drawing paper.

Rough pencils on the layout
Click for a closer look

I ‘rough in’ the basic action, design and layout of the art. I do use my reference loosely at this point, but I don’t knock myself out trying to do any involved caricatures or drawing. My goal here is to get the basics down quickly, just to be able to get the idea across to the guys back at MAD. Here’s where I demonstrate how I am “selling the gags” and how the storytelling elements will flow and indicate some sight gags I am adding. I’ll attempt a quick caricature of the main people, but if I miss them I don’t go back and sweat over it… that’s for the final pencil stage. Even so, this is where the heavy thinking goes into the job. I have to consider what the writer is trying to say in each panel, and make sure the art is backing that up and making it more clear if possible. This particular scene was very challenging, as three of the word balloons on top are coming from a single person, out of a TV screen. The group is also in a confining space on their converted luxury bus, and that complicates matters. In addition, the header takes up a lot of room on the left, leaving an awkward space for the lead character (Ty Pennington) to be placed, and he HAS to be in that space because of the two different word balloons attributed to him. I used the TV show’s gimmick of Ty always videotaping everything (especially himself) with the handycam, so that allowed me to have him leaning into the shot and work around that awkward area. I had the guy in the TV screen actually speaking out of three separate monitors so I could both space him out and illustrate each of his descriptions in time. I used warped and forced perspective (cheated it badly, one might say) to work the bus interior in. Whew. The rest was a piece of cake.

At this point I scan the roughs in and send it back to MAD. The editors and art staff review the art and get back to me (usually very quickly) with comments. Most of these I ignore, except if they come up with something boring but useful like pointing out I gave someone 6 fingers or that I neglected to draw something trivial like someone’s pants or something. To be fair, the art staff really knows it’s business and when they do make changes they are always for the better. I’ve learned a great deal working for MAD. One thing I’ve learned is that there is no such thing as a free lunch, so don’t bother asking. Another thing is to cash my paycheck as quickly as possible.

Once the roughs are approved and any changes are made, it’s on to the big boards for the final pencils!

Next: The Final Pencils or Stop Screwing Around and Get Busy, Putz!

Diary of a MAD Job Revisited

September 1st, 2014

This week I am in lock down, do-or-die, 24-7, no foolin’ Deadline Demon mode trying to finish an eight (that’s right EIGHT page parody) for MAD by the weekend. No time for anything else. So… Welcome to flashback week! About eight years ago I posted this little walk through of a typical job for MAD entitled “Diary of a MAD Job”. I thought I would repost it this week. It’s a little dated (I have annotated these with updated comments) but most of the process is the same.

Diary of a MAD Job Part 1:

Whenever I meet someone who knows that I do work for MAD, I invariably get asked two questions. The first one is “Do they still publish that rag?”. The second is “How do you do the movie/TV parodies?”. Actually that question is usually phrased as a series of questions including “do you get to see the movie ahead of time?”, “does MAD provide you with pictures/copies of the film?”, “do you write the gags?”, and my personal favorite: “can you tell me where the bathroom is?” Over the next few days I will go through the process of doing a job for MAD from beginning to end, hopefully answering many of these questions in the process (except that last one).

First off, I have to get the job. MAD has no staff artists (or writers, for that matter). It’s all freelance, and unless you have a regular feature like “Spy vs. Spy” you aren’t given work in every single issue. Often I am waiting around for the phone to ring.

Waiting for my next MAD job…

MAD assigns jobs based on things like the style of art they want for a particular piece, the availability of the artist, etc. Of course, there are some things you can do to get the ball rolling…

Sending a reminder to the editors at MAD. The fact that I am sending ten dollar bills is an indictment of how much money freelance artists make.

Finally I’ll get that call. MAD art director Sam Viviano has a policy to only call an artist for a job when it’s a definite go and the final decision has been made for that artist to do that particular job. Sam would never call me and advise me to go see a film or to clear my board for a job that is still just a maybe… and that is something any freelancer appreciates. It’s always exciting when Sam calls me for a job…

Hello, SAM??

Even if that job has a ridiculously short deadline…


The first thing I get from the gang at MAD is a layout of the piece. For our example here I’ll use a TV parody I did a year or so ago of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition“. This is what I would get e-mailed to me from MAD (other pages as well, this is just the splash):

Blank layout for “Extreme Once-Over: Home Repetition”
Click for a closer look

The artist is always the last stop on the wagon trail before the piece goes into the magazine. Before I get this layout, the writer has written and submitted a script, the editors have gone over it, argued and came to blows or called each other hurtful names a few times about it, finally making their changes (often taking out gags and reducing the number of panels/pages) and the art department assembles and lays out the articles with text and word balloons, panel placement and header/department text in place. That’s a lot of work before I even see the job… or at least they like to say it is. At any rate, this is what I get to work with. Sometimes Sam will do a ‘doodle’ on the splash to help set up the scene (haven’t see that in years… Sam knows what to expect from me these days and, despite that, still doesn’t do any preliminary doodles for me) primarily because the placement of the word balloons dictates where the characters speaking them need to be, and the one doing the layouts needs that set up. Regardless if I have a Sam doodle as a springboard or not (in this case not), the restrictions of the balloon placement complicates matters and makes the splash page and to a lesser extent the rest of the job into a kind of visual puzzle.

My job now is this: I have to place the characters in such a way as the word balloons make sense sequentially without the balloon ‘tails’ crossing or doing anything too hard to read within the environment set up by the story while doing (hopefully) convincing caricatures of several actors/actresses with many different expressions and angles throughout the story while simultaneously paying attention to storytelling design and panel layout/camera angles to advance the eye along the page while at the same time ‘selling the gag’ by which I mean I visually reinforcing and driving home the jokes written by the writer meanwhile adding visual gags of my own in the panel/backgrounds to add a second layer of humor all while trying to draw funny in the first place. That IS a lot of work, almost as much work as writing that last run-on sentence was, despite what those lazy-ass writers say. Memo to self: ask for a raise.

In the case of a movie, my first step is always to see the film if it’s in release. If, like in this case, it’s a TV show, I set the old DVR to record some episodes and watch several. It’s important to get a good feel for the show and what it’s all about before trying to do a parody of it. It’s the little details that make for a good lampooning of a show, and you don’t capture the little things unless you are familiar with the show. I will often tap friends or relatives who watch a TV show regularly about what to look for (one of my neighbors pointed out to me that one of the designers in the show “Trading Spaces” was always barefoot when she did her work, so I gave her stinky, dirty feet the whole parody). I always have a lot more fun doing a parody of something I really like (or really hate), as opposed to a show or movie I don’t care at all about.

After getting familiar with the show, I start digging up reference. MAD will be sending me a bunch of scrap of the main characters as they have art staff Google pictures and print them out for me (this also hasn’t been the case for years, I am on my own with references these days), but I do a ton of research myself as well. If there is a book out I’ll go buy it (tax deductible, you know). I get all the mindless celebrity-chasing entertainment magazines and clip pictures out of them as well (it’s all internet image searches these days). If an actor or actress I’m drawing was recently in a film or TV show that is out on DVD, I’ll rent that and do some screen captures to use as reference (that’s right, Steve Jobs (he’s dead), that’s a legitimate and FAIR USE reason why users of your computers should be allowed to screen capture from DVD) but I primarily farm the Internet for pictures. I assemble them on 13×19 inch sheets and print them out so they are handy (now I use an iPad for all reference, thanks dead Steve Jobs). I also print the layouts at print size onto a decent piece of drawing paper. With my reference in hand and my layouts ready, I can get started with the roughs.

Tomorrow: “Getting to work” or “Procrastinating for Dummies”

Stan Goldberg: 1932-2014

August 31st, 2014

StanIt’s with great sadness I pass on the news that comic book legend Stan Goldberg passed away today at age 82 from complications of a severe stroke he suffered a few weeks ago. Stan and his wife Pauline were two of the most wonderful, friendly and genuine people the Lovely Anna and I ever had the privilege of getting to know through the National Cartoonists Society… and that is saying a lot as we count many, many NCS members as very good friends.

Stan had the kind of career in comics that in some ways flew under the radar, but in others was one of rare influence and greatly respected by industry pros. He was best known as a principal artist for Archie Comics for over 30 years, but he also freelanced for many others. He worked for Timely Comics, which would become Atlas and then Marvel, and was the colorist for their early titles, coming up with many of the color schemes for the costumes for The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, The Hulk and other eventual staples of the Marvel superhero world. After a split with Archie, Stan continued to work for companies like Bongo, DC and others on a variety of titles.

Stan was such an easy person to talk to. Soft spoken, he had so many stories of the old days in the Marvel bullpen, his time with Archie and the people he’d met and worked with you could completely lose track of time listening… yet at no time did you ever get the feeling any of the things he said were about himself. He was as humble and selfless a man as one could meet. He had a joy for comics and cartooning that was infectious.

The last few years at the NCS Reuben Awards were special ones for Stan and Pauline. In 2012 in Las Vegas, the NCS honored him with the “Gold Key” award, inducting him into the NCS Hall of Fame. A very humble man, Stan was really moved by the recognition, but it was undeniably well-deserved. You should know you are a big deal in the world of comics when Stan Lee sends in a long video tribute to you for your award presentation! It was wonderful to see him get that award.

This past year was another special Reubens for the Goldbergs. Back in October of last year, Stan and Pauline were involved in a terrible car accident that badly injured them both. I was told that one of the first things they said after beginning their long roads to recovery was that they were determined to get better and go to the Reubens in San Diego that following May. In fact, they had their room booked right after the accident as incentive. At the Reuben Awards dinner we recognized them and let them know how glad we were they were there and how important they are to the NCS family with a thunderous round of applause. They are such special people. Little did we know we were also saying goodbye to Stan.

I saw Stan and Pauline back in June at the annual NCS “Bunny Bash” party hosted by Bunny Hoest-Carpenter in her backyard on Long Island, and I had a chance to sit and talk for a good long time with Stan about things. I almost did not make it to that event, and I am sure glad I did. It’s very easy to say the cartooning world will miss someone who had a long and influential career in the industry, but it hits hard when you also counted them a real friend.

It was a delight and a privilege to know Stan Goldberg. The Lovely Anna and my heart goes out to Pauline and the Goldberg family. the NCS and the world is a little poorer place tonight, and our hearts are heavy. God bless, Stan. Thanks for being you.

Sunday Mailbag- Working From Home?

August 31st, 2014

Q: I have a series of questions for your blog regarding the mental state one goes through when working from home as a freelancer (or just working from home in general). Do you ever get depressed from being locked in one room by yourself for an extended period of time without speaking or seeing anyone else besides your family? (And by family I mean your wife and children who live with you). Do you ever wish you were in a studio environment alongside other artists you could have lunch with or just casually chat to on a break?

Continuing on with the theme of working from home, do your family members take advantage of you for being at home by asking you to do errands? How do you stop your family members from distracting you? Do they ever barge into your office/studio and ask questions or stop you from doing work?

A: There are pros and cons about having a studio in the home as opposed to having studio space in some other location. The pros are you are never far from the studio. The cons are you are never far from the studio.

Me spending some quality time with the kids at home…

This has always been something I have wrestled with. I know many freelance artists that swear having a studio away from home is the only way they stay productive. Some tell me that sharing space with other artists begets a creative atmosphere that they need and that makes them better artists. I have always wondered if that would be a better way to go for me, but I have never taken the plunge to try because it frankly would cost too much money and the intangibles of working out of the home are too important to me. My studio in the lower level of our home costs me nothing in terms of rent, extra equipment or commute time, and I have never been able to justify the extra expense just to try having a studio outside my home. Just setting up internet service, paying for electricity, getting furniture and stuff would be expensive. I’d have to do a lot more work per year to cover those expenses, and I find it hard to believe I’d see enough extra productivity to make up the difference.

I would not say I ever get “depressed” working in a solitary environment, but I do sometimes have trouble staying on task. Mainly it’s because there are a lot of distractions here, but when I take a hard look at it there would be as many of the same distractions at an outside studio. Email, phone calls, NCS/business stuff… that’s all going to be in the way at any location. Personally I get my best work done when I am alone and in a quiet environment, which is why the hours of 9pm-7 am seem the best times to get serious work done. I would probably not be able to work during these hours in an outside studio, and if I could it would defeat the purpose of having an outside studio as those are quiet hours anywhere. I can see the argument that, by having a studio outside the home, you would be able to be more productive during business hours and not need to work the wee hours to get quiet time, but I disagree. The world itself is loud during business hours, and I think I’d struggle with the same distractions in a separate studio as I do at home.

I often do think about what it would be like to work in a studio with other artists. In a way I think it would foster a highly creative environment and might add a lot of energy to my day and work. Then again I might end up chatting too much with everyone and get less done. I’d have to find the right person(s) to share space with, which would be tough to do. I’d also have to establish the same kind of guidelines about when you can and cannot bother me when deadlines get nasty, which I have to do at home with the family anyway.

Which brings me to your last question about dealing with family members interfering with work. I am sure you did not mean to phrase your question to suggest family would “take advantage of me” in terms of them being knowingly intrusive or demanding. That has never, ever been an issue, and we had four kids in six years so there was a lot of family about. The Lovely Anna and the kids always respected my studio time and would always ask if I was busy when they needed something. When the kids were little I would have a drawing area for them in the studio and they would come in and draw sometimes, but they had many more fun things to do about the house so they didn’t spend much time hanging out with dad. Anna has never been anything but a huge help with my work, either by dealing with the kids and family stuff herself or also by helping me the business end of things… she still does a lot of that. Now that the kids are all grown up it’s only the dogs that demand my attention, and believe me they are more demanding than the kids ever were.

Sure, there are times when I have to put down the pen and go do something in the house that Anna needs my help with. If things are really getting serious with a deadline I am not afraid to say “I can’t do that right now”, but honestly very few things are too time consuming for me to have to say that. Anna knows exactly what I am working on at any given time, and so she knows when I am getting behind and when I need to be left alone, or when she can ask me to help move something in the garage without being too distracting.

The pros of family distractions are worth it all, though. I never missed a first step, lost tooth, first bike ride, holiday school singing show, choir concert, play, or any other growing-up milestone. More importantly, I was there when the little things happened and shared in all the important and not-so-important but still special moments of my kids growing up. I feel sorry for the many parents out there whose jobs and careers only give them a few hours a day of time with their children. I had all day, every day. Only when I was doing the theme park thing full time did I have significant time away from home,. That was only during the summers and I ended my personal time in the parks when the kids were still very young. Likewise The Lovely Anna and I spend all our days together. I know more than a few married couples whose relationships I seriously doubt would survive spending that kind of time together. We are lucky in that it’s not a cliché for us to say we are not just husband and wife, but best friends as well.

All in all I’m quite content with having a studio in my home as opposed to outside the home. In fact, I feel very blessed to be able to have done that all these years.

Thanks to Hugo Z 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!

The Ice Bucket Challenge

August 28th, 2014

I officially succumbed to peer pressure and did the Ice Bucket Challenge:

YouTube Preview Image

Embarrassing, but I ended up donating to ALS research anyway…

BTW I was challenged by illustrator Howie Noel, comic book superstar Doug Mahnke and Reuben award winning “Baby Blues” cartoonist Rick Kirkman, and I in turn challenged my brothers-in-law Joe, Paul, Dave and Chris Voss.

Don’t forget to donate here: http://www.alsa.org/donate/

Sketch o’the Week- Mel Brooks!

August 27th, 2014

Mel Brooks © 2014 Tom RichmondThis week’s SotW subject is legendary comedian Mel Brooks. Quick study actually for a job I am working on.

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Chicago Comic Con 2014!

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:



“Bats in the Belfry” LE Print Now Available!

August 25th, 2014

As promised, “Bats in the Belfry” is now on sale in the Studio Store. For those looking for one of the inked originals and “special edition” prints that accompany it, I will be posting the ones that have not already been claimed later today. Here’s the copy from the print product page:


Batman is one of the most enduring and beloved comic book characters of all time, and has been portrayed in many different ways on television and in film since the mid 1900s. This limited edition print caricatures, and pokes a little gentle fun at, the eight different portrayals of the fictional Dark Knight spanning over 70 years of Batman on the big and small screens:

  • Lewis Wilson- “Batman” movie serial series from 1943
  • Robert Lowery- “Batman and Robin” movie serial series from 1949
  • Adam West- “Batman” television series series, 1966-68
  • Michael Keaton- “Batman” and “Batman Returns” films, 1989 & 92
  • Val Kilmer- “Batman Forever” film, 1995
  • George Clooney- “Batman and Robin” film, 1997
  • Christian Bale.- “The Dark Knight” film trilogy, 2005-2012
  • Ben Affleck- “Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice” upcoming film, 2016

Fans of the Caped Crusader will love this unique collectible, created by MAD magazine artist Tom Richmond (me… duh)! Shipped in a sturdy cardboard tube, and signed and personalized if directed.

“Bats in the Belfry” Limited Edition Print

  • Artwork by award winning MAD Magazine artist Tom Richmond
  • 450 signed and numbered prints
  • 11″ x 28″, elegant matte finish professional print
  • Only $25.00 (cheap) plus shipping

Studio Store

Here’s a gallery of the different Batmen caricatures from the print:


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