Saturday, December 28, 2013

Flights of Angels


Here's last week's comic for  It was (as is almost always the case) authored by the team at and drawn by some guy named Noah Kroese.  The comic is about the retirement of Ben Bernanke, chairmen of the Federal Reserve.

Though I'm not sure if this is the last time I'll be drawing Ben Bernanke (I suspect not, as even former Chairmen of the Fed often make the news), but the idea that this could be the last time is a bit strange.  Including this comic, I've drawn Ben Bernanke at least 21 times.  When you draw someone that many times, it can start to feel like you know them.  Acknowledging Bernanke's retirement almost feels like saying goodbye to a friend.  A friend who never, ever talks about anything but interest rates.

I'm not sure if I'll be sorry to draw him less or not.  Drawing Bernanke became almost a ritual after a while.  Or more fitting, it became like a word that you repeat over and over until you can't understand the meaning of that word anymore.  It becomes just a noise.

At any rate, I'm mostly dissatisfied with this comic.  I think Bernanke's face came out fine (I purposefully made him look exhausted), but the rest is a bit of a wash at best.  The plane looks like garbage.  It's flat and lacks detail and character.  Also, the whole thing should have been done as a profile view so that we could see the faces of Bernanke, Yellen, and the bear and bull.  But that perspective didn't occur to me until I was finished with this version and there wasn't enough time to do another.

What can I say?  Last week was the most stressful week I've ever had professionally.  I met four different deadlines over the course of five days.  I worked until I literally got sick.  This comic came at the very end of that gauntlet of work, stress, and sleep deprivation.  I limped over the finish line.  So, while I'm not thrilled about my performance on this comic, given the circumstances, it came out better than expected.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Here are a couple of illustrations for this year's baseball edition of "Lindy's Sports Annual", a great magazine to which I contribute from time to time (and am always happy to do so).  I was asked to work up two illustrations for two different stories.

The first story has to do with runners charging the catcher at home plate.  Here's the sketch:

Aaaaaand here's the final:

Thoughts on this one: Have I mentioned how much I love drawing detail?  Well, I love it a bushel and a peck.  This had some great detail to draw: dirt and grime, black eye, missing teeth, a pink cast, etc.  It had some not so fun detail, too.  It turns out I don't much care for drawing catcher's masks.  There.  I said it.

The second of the two stories deals with a trend of lower batting averages.  Here's the layout/concept sketch:

This here's what the final looks like:

Thoughts on this one: Again, I loves me some detail and this one has it in spades.  And drawing grime is always fun.  In real life (or "IRL", as the kids say these days), I'm a pretty clean dude.  But when I'm drawing, I like things duuuuuurrrrty.

This was a fun set.  Like I said, it's always a pleasure doing illustrations for Lindy's.


Second to Last Supper


Here's this week's comic for  The comic (written, as always, by the team at and drawn by yours truly) is based on Davinci's "Last Supper".  Ben Bernanke's last FOMC meeting took place this week, so the imagery is fitting in that respect.

Here is, as they say in fake Italian, da sketch:

Here is da final:

Not too much to say about this one.  I like the colors.  The caricatures came out ok.  This was also a great example of a thing that happens to me from time to time: I put a lot of work into this comic.  By the end of the day I was pretty happy with the result.  I took a break for a little while.  When I came back and looked at the comic later, I noticed one of Bernanke's eyes was all wonky.  He looked like Sloth from "The Goonies".

I fixed it (more or less; it's still a little wonky) and reminded myself to always step back from the work once in a while for a little perspective.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Auction Poster

    It occurred to me recently that I haven't posted any work other than the comics in weeks.  Well, I'm here to remedy that.  Every other year, the Prichard Art Gallery does a benefit auction.  I was asked if I would be interested in creating the poster for said auction.  The Prichard Gallery is a great venue for all sorts of creative and educational endeavors, so I was more than happy to oblige.

As always, I started by working up a few concepts:

This first one was based on the idea that the gallery takes you places.  In this concept, I explore that idea in a semi-literal way, with the gallery as an actual vessel in which you might travel to interesting places.

Concept number two is half homage and half parody.  It's a nod to the Norman Rockwell illustration of a man standing in front of a Jackson Pollack painting.  In this concept, I was thinking about the fact that the world around the gallery changes with time, as does the art being displayed by the gallery.  But the function of the gallery remains constant.  Plus, robots are cool.

The third concept is mostly about the "behind the scenes" aspects of the gallery.  I've always heard that the best frame for a piece of art is the one you don't notice.  I think the gallery is similar in that respect.  You're supposed to notice the art, not the space.  And because their job is to not be noticed, I think it can be easy to forget just how hard it can be to run and maintain a gallery as well as the Prichard does.

Concept number four: Continuing with the exploration theme, this one is an attempt to highlight the fact that the gallery and the art contained therein are a kind of portal or doorway to an almost limitless world.  Also, it's a double entendre with the whole "space" thing.  It's the only one in color because I wanted to be able to depict the stars.

Finally, this is the "they'll never go for this one" concept.  It features a rough caricature of the gallery's director dressed as Willy Wonka.  They didn't go for it.

They actually ended up choosing the first concept, which is great because that's the concept I felt was the strongest of the set.  I would have been happy proceeding with any of the concepts (I've learned over the years not to present any concepts I wouldn't want to bring to fruition), but the ship concept was the one I was most excited about.

With the concept chosen, the next step was draw the final layout:

You might be asking, "Why not just use the concept sketch?"  Well, first, the concept sketches are just a rough way to convey the idea.  They're done fairly quickly, without the attention to detail and craft that the actual layout sketch deserves.  They're functional, but not usually pretty.  Secondly, I'm a serious glutton for punishment, and why do less work when I can do more?

This version is a lot cleaner and I relied heavily on reference images to draw the ship.  Also, the ship is facing the opposite direction, which was a good suggestion made by the gallery director.

With the layout sketch complete, all that was left was to add a few minor details here and there.  You know: outlines, color, shading, depth...the little stuff:

My goal with this poster was to create something that would attract attention for the event and for the gallery.  I'm extremely happy with the way this turned out.  It was a lot of hard work.  Hopefully it will help the event succeed.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Greetings, Pilgrims!

Here's last week's comic for  For those of you not living in North America, last week was Thanksgiving, which is a holiday that celebrates the eve before Black Friday.  It's typically celebrated by eating an intense amount of food and then watching football in lieu of awkward conversation with family.

I was asked to draw Ben Bernanke carving a turkey while the bear, bull, hawk and dove sat at the table.  Here's the sketch:

Five characters is a lot of work for a single day deadline, so there are all sorts of details I missed accidentally or didn't finish because of time constraints.  But I did add a few details to keep things interesting for myself:

-The dour, non-plussed expression on the bear's face
-The bull, pleasantly checking his watch
-The hawk glaring across the table like that uncle who only wants to fight about politics
-The dove, taken aback at a roasted bird being caved up right in front of her

I know I'm a bit of a broken record about the turnaround time on these comics, but it really is the most influential factor in how these comics turn out (other than the subject).  There just isn't enough time to sit and think carefully about how the comics should look or what details to include.  There's only enough time to act on instinct and then draw for my life.  It's kind of fun.

It's also exhausting.