Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bird Enthusiast Holiday Card

I was contacted recently by a couple of weirdos who asked if I would draw a holiday card for them.  Seeing as these particular weirdos happen to be my parents, I pretty much had to take the job.  There were a lot of prerequisites for the job.  And by "a lot", I mean precisely two: They asked me to include their faces and they asked me to make the card a specific size.

I considered doing a Resident Evil/Dawn of the Dead-themed card, but decided it wasn't a great fit for the holidays (and anyway, my grandma already did one of those last Christmas).  Realizing that they both enjoy the outdoors (not a place I was familiar with, but I looked it up: apparently, it refers to the place that's not inside your house where there's usually wildlife and nature and stuff).  More specifically, they love birds.  Mostly watching and feeding (and sometimes bird eating, but don't tell the birds that).

So I moved ahead with that concept.  Here's the sketch:

Here's how that sketch looks with the outline:

And here's the whole card, beak to tail:

So there you go.  Fun project.  And they liked how it turned out, so...bonus.


And this little bear had none...

Howdy, Pilgrims!

Here's the latest comic for  The subject was sort of year in review of the financial markets.  More specifically, the record highs said markets have hit.  It also happened to be Thanksgiving last week, and who doesn't love some seasonally-themed financial comics?

I was asked by the crew at to draw a table, laden with Thanksgiving foodstuffs.  Sitting at that table they wanted several bulls with plates a-heapin' with turkey and the trimmins (I thought it would be appropriate to use traditional American jargon for this occasion).  At the other end of the table, I was asked to draw a bear holding an empty plate.  The idea on this one is that this has been a year of feast for the bull markets and one of famine for the bears.

Here's the sketch:

Here's the outline:

And here's the final:

I've been enjoying exploring various textures and patterns lately (like the wallpaper, the wainscoting and the table cloth.  Adding them slows down the process some, but I think it's worth it to add a little more depth, detail and visual interest to the comic.  It makes them a little more believable.  Which is to say, it makes the world within the comic more believable.  If you looked at this comic and assumed it was a depiction of an average, realistic Thanksgiving dinner...well, your turkey day was probably more interesting than mine.

Speaking of, hope you spent yours in an enjoyable way.


Sunday, November 23, 2014 Purple Haze


Here's the latest comic for  This week's subject is the falling value of the Yen.  I was asked by the good folks at to draw Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Bank of Japan President Haruhiko Kuroda hiking up Mt. Fuji.  Behind them, an anthropomorphized Yen symbol was to be hanging precariously from the edge.  I was also asked to include some cherry blossoms and possibly a pagoda for further geographical reinforcement.

Here's the sketch:

Here's the outline:

And here's the comic in brilliant technicolor:

 I like the way this comic turned out, but admittedly, it's a little weird.  Maybe surreal is a good way to describe it.  One of the strengths of comics (and illustration in general) is that they can depict anything.  They're not limited in the slightest by reality.  However, sometimes the reality that gets created in a comic is strange enough that it almost seems psychedelic.

For instance: I was asked specifically to draw Abe and Kuroda hiking up Mt. Fuji.  Mt. Fuji is a fairly recognizable mountain, but only seen from certain angles and from a certain distance.  I'd be willing to bet it doesn't look much like Fuji when you're ON Fuji.  Abe and Kuroda's faces had to be large enough to be recognizable.  So there are two proportions (Fuji and the characters) that are sort of set. 

The solution I came up with is the one you see here.  It has all the elements that were requested, but this solution meant Abe and Kuroda had to be gargantuan in comparison to Fuji.  Add to that the odd Yen character and the purple sky and the result is a comic that looks like an LSD-fueled 1960s Chinese propaganda painting.

I kinda like that it's weird, though.

And maybe it's only weird because I've been staring at it for too long and thinking a little too hard about something that's not supposed to be thought about at all, like the mind of god or an episode of McGuyver.  Only insanity lies therein.

Just a thought.  And now I'm done thinking. comic for this week: Check.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Professor Fabulous

Here's a small job I drew recently for a website called Style Forum.  They asked me to draw a character named Professor Fabulous, the elder statesman of fashion.  Professor Fabulous is, as one might imagine, fabulous in every sense of the word.  He was described to me as diffident, aloof, and clad in a paisley kimono with an ashtrakhan fur collar.  'Nuff said.

Sketch one:

Sketch two:

And here's the Professor, fully realized:

This was a great little project. Hopefully, I'll have the opportunity to work with the Style Foum crew in the future.


Sunday, November 16, 2014 comic: Raging Bull Market and Background Checks

Greetings, Sports Fans.

This week's comic for has to do with currency strength.  More specifically, it's about the strength of the US Dollar as compared to other currencies and the implications contained therein.

Early Wednesday morning, I was asked by the good folks at to draw the following:

-A boxing ring
-In the ring, a well-muscled boxer flexing.  The boxer needed to have the dollar symbol tattooed on his chest and a championship belt around his waist.  The belt was to have the forex symbols for four different currencies crossed out.
-In the front row of the audience, Janet Yellen, Haruhiko Kuroda, and Mario Draghi were to be seated; Yellen looking concerned and Kuroda and Draghi looking happy.

Three hours later, I had a rough layout:

Maybe an hour and a half after that, I had the outline:

 Two hours after the outline, I had the flat color knocked out.  At that point, the rest of the day was shading (another three and half hours, give or take).  Here's how the final turned out:

Like last week, this week's comic was a lot of work.  Still fun, but hard.  There isn't any room for dawdling on day.  With the exception of a few small breaks, I'm drawing for the entire day (usually about 9-11 hours).

I think this one turned out pretty well.  I think all the characters look pretty good.  Of course, I might have made some different choices given more time, but there isn't much point in dwelling on that. 

A word or two on the background:  Originally, I was going to just leave the background relatively blank.  It would have had a dark red gradient and that's about it.  But it looked too sterile and flat, so I started experimenting with lighter spots and darker shapes and came up with what you see here.  I think it does a decent job of creating a little more depth and interest.

Usually, when it comes to backgrounds, I get too hung up on the idea that anything in the background has to make logical sense.  There has to be a concrete reason for something to be included.  But with backgrounds, I'm not so sure that's true anymore.  I think sometimes it's fine to suggest depth and structure without necessarily having to explain it.

Just a thought.

Overall, I'd say this comic was a win by decision but not by knockout.

Energy wise, I'm officially down for the count.  Throwing in the towel for now.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Financial Comic: The Mixer

Global central bank stimulus to punch up markets.

Here's the latest comic for  The topic this week is the stimulus effort by the central bank of Japan and possibly the European Central Bank (and the potential market effect, of course).

I was asked by the crew at to draw Janet Yellen, Mario Draghi and Bank of Japan chief Haruhiko Koruda at a party.  Yellen and Draghi were to be standing near a table with food and drinks while Koruda was to be carrying in a big bowl of punch.

Here's the sketch:

And here's the final:

I had a good time drawing this comic, but it took me 11+ hours and now I'm not feeling terribly verbose.  So I think I'll skip the commentary and reflection this time around and instead go have some dinner.

Until next week,


Sunday, November 2, 2014

They See Me Rollin'


Here's the latest comic for  This week's comic deals with the end of QE3 and the potential influence that might have on the markets.

If you don't follow the financial news, QE is Quantitative Easing; a monetary policy started by the Federal Reserve after the late unpleasantness in 2008 (you know, that little kerfuffle where the entire world economy almost imploded).  There have actually been several rounds of Quantitative Easing since '08.  QE is just the Fed buying bonds and other financial assets, theoretically to stabilize the markets.

QE seems to have done its job and fears of rising inflation rates have not come to fruition, so Janet Yellen has decided to end the policy.  So this week's comic is about that.  I was asked by the team at to draw two bulls in the front seat of a fancy car.  In the background: a gas pump that reads "QE2 and QE3" and behind that a sign reading "Federal Reserve Gas Station".  In the foreground, I was asked to draw Janet Yellen removing the gas nozzle from the tank of the fancy car.

Here's the sketch:

And this is how the final version turned out:

This one was pretty fun to draw.  I don't usually like to draw cars, but I was happy to have something out of the ordinary and challenging to tackle this week.  Overall, I'd say this comic turned out pretty well.  I'm still not sure about the proportion of the bulls (as compared to Yellen), but I had to fit them inside the car window, which is always a bit tough. 

Otherwise, I'm fairly satisfied with the rest: the car, Yellen, the signs in the background.  Not too shabby for a one day deadline.