Saturday, January 25, 2014

Abe, Draghi and Carney walk into a bar in Switzerland...


First, a caveat: I know I haven't posted much aside from the financial comics for several weeks.  I've been working on a number of other illustration projects and jobs, but many of them can't be posted right now for plethora of reasons.  I promise that I'll post the other projects as soon as I'm able to.

In the meantime, here's the latest from

The World Economic Forum is taking place this week in Davos, Switzerland.  If you didn't get your invite, don't worry.  I didn't either.  I mean, come on.  I'm "Committed to Improving the State of the World".  What else do you want?  Anyway, while it stung a bit to not be included, I've been consoling myself that I wouldn't have much to talk about with Jamie Dimon and we'd end up staring at each other awkwardly.

Me to Jamie Dimon: "Uh...hey, man.  Nice suit.  Where'd you get it?"
Jamie Dimon: "Thanks.  I had it tailored at Armani.  Nice...uh...sweatpants.  Were they tailored?"
Me: "No, I think I bought them at a gas station."
Jamie:  "Oh, well they fit really well."
Me: "Thanks..."


So instead of going, I got to draw a picture of the festivities, which I'm sure I enjoyed far more than I would have enjoyed attending.  I was asked by the crew at to draw Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, European Central Bank head Mario Draghi, and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney on stage at the World Economic Forum.  I was also asked to include a big screen behind them with a graph showing rising income inequality.  The graph illustrates the gap between the super rich and the super poor, so in a way I did end up making it to the WEF in spirit.

Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:

I think, in terms of the illustration, this is the best financial comic I've done so far.  And there have been over 60.  I think the faces are great.  The likenesses and expressions are well-drawn.  My favorite is Draghi.  I love drawing Draghi.  His face has a lot of character.  I've decided he looks a little like a cross between Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre.  I also like the colors a lot.  I think the warm yellows of the skin tones, chairs and podiums are a nice contrast against the blues in the background.

Now, if you're reading my blog for the first time, me extolling the virtues of my own work is going to come off as pretty obnoxious.  Trust me, this is rarely my opinion of my own work.  Just read some of the posts about previous financial comics.  But this one came out great and I'm just going to enjoy the fact that I'm satisfied with it.

That having been said: Abe's body pose is a little awkward, their bodies should have cast shadows on the chairs in which they're sitting, and Mark Carney is a little bigger than the other two.  Still, those are the biggest aspersions I can cast, so no biggie.

Overall, I'd give this one a rating nine world leaders out of ten.


Monday, January 20, 2014

"Saturday" the book update!

Here's the most recent update from my book, "Saturday":


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Shine like a Dimon


Here's the latest comic for  This week's comic is about the financial recovery of the big four banks: JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citibank and Wells Fargo.  You may remember there was a bit of a financial hiccup in 2008 when the sub-prime mortgage market went kablooie and a lot of people lost a large percentage of their life savings and many banks were in critical condition.  Well, good news!  The big banks are doing swimmingly.  And if there's one thing average folk like, it's when the well-heeled make more money.

The assignment (written and assigned by the team at Draw Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein and two silhouettes (representing Citibank and Wells Fargo) smoking cigars and drinking whiskey at a table in a nice restaurant.

Here's the sketch:

And heeeeeeeere's Johnny (by which I mean the final version):

Here's what I don't like:

-The labels.  I tried using nametags, but it didn't make sense with the silhouettes.  Why would you be able to see the nametags if you couldn't see their faces?  I tried several different options and none looked quite right.  This was the best of the choices.

-The background isn't awful, but I think it could have used a little more detail to indicate that it's a fancy restaurant, though I'm not sure what that would have been.  As I've said before, with a one-day deadline, I really have to think on my feet.  Clearly that's a problem from time to time.

Here's what I like:

-Their faces.  The faces are the most important part and I took the time (even completely re-drawing Dimon's face at one point) to make sure they looked good.

-The coloring.

-The composition.

I think I've mentioned recently that I haven't been terribly satisfied with my performance on these comics in the past several weeks.  I wanted this one to be good.  I'm actually happy with the way this one turned out.  That being the case, I'm not going to analyze it any more.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Bond. 10-Year Bond.


Here's the latest financial comic for

The Subject: Spain's stock market is at an all time high while it's 10-year bond yield is at an all time low.  This is (apparently) good news for a country that has been in financial turmoil for a number of years.

The Angle: I was asked by the folks at to draw Mariano Rajoy (Spain's Prime Minister) and Mario Draghi (president of the European Central Bank) hugging joyfully in front of two screens showing the market and bond numbers.  I was also asked to draw Angela Merkel nearby, waving her crutches in the air in celebration (Merkel recently injured herself skiing).

The Sketch:

The Final:

Here's what I like:

-The expressions on all three faces
-The colors (the blue screens against the warm gray background specifically)
-The addition of the stock ticker (further characterizes the setting)

Here's what I don't like:

-It's too clean.  I think both Rajoy and Draghi look like they're made of plastic.  I should have spent more time adding little details that made their skin and hair less uniform and more natural looking.  I don't think it would have taken much (a few lines, a few spots, and some rough shading here and there).  But this was one of those instances where I thought it looked pretty good at the end of the day and I overlooked the lack of texture (or at least the final treatments and details that would have made those textures and surfaces more convincing).

-Also, I think Draghi's face is a bit off.  The caricature could have been stronger.

The Rating:

Three out of five.  Not my best work.  It occurs to me that I haven't been performing well on these comics in the past several weeks (IMHO).  I haven't done one in a while I thought really hit it out of the park.  But I'll have another shot at it this week, so fingers crossed.