Sunday, January 25, 2015

Let's Be Franc.

Guten Tag.

Here's the latest comic for This week's subject was the rate fix of the Swiss Franc as well as the ECB's initiation of quantitative easing measures.

The team at asked me to draw another two-panel comic. In the left panel, they asked me to draw SNB Chairman Thomas Jordan swinging a sledgehammer down onto the logos of two companies (FXCM and Alpari). Both of these companies were adversely affected by the rate cap.

In the second panel, I was asked to draw ECB head Mario Draghi tossing Euros from a helicopter down onto Eurozone countries.

Here's the sketch:

Here's the outline:

And here's the final:

The two-panel cartoons are actually pretty rough. Well, "rough" is a relative term. As I've mentioned before, drawing cartoons is mostly an easy job. At least, the labor part of it is easy (compared to say, hanging drywall or pouring concrete). But it's still a long, stressful day. Two panels means two backgrounds, two different sets of color and detail and shading.

That having been said, it's still fun. The variety and the challenge keep things interesting. And I'm still doing my best to keep the comics visually interesting and distinguishable from each other (ie-not using the same backgrounds, sky color, poses, angles, etc.). Sometimes I think I'm able to accomplish this, sometimes, not so much. I know I've said this before, too, but sometimes I'm able to think under pressure and still focus on the craft of the illustration, color, composition, etc. And sometimes it's just a blind panic where I'm sweating and wondering how I'll ever make it to the end of the day.

I THINK I'm getting better, but I'm not sure. It's hard to measure progress when it's slow and you're the one looking at it all day every day. It's like being aware of your own aging process. You look at your mug in the mirror every day, so you don't necessarily see new lines as they come in. But if you compare your face to a photo from several years ago, you're bound to see the difference.

Same deal here. I think I can look at early comics and see that I've improved in my abilities. I think my sense of color is getting better. I think more about composition as well. But there are things I know I need to be cautious about. For instance, I think my drawing is actually getting cleaner. That might be a good thing if my lines were sloppy to begin with, but they weren't. And if my drawings get too clean, they start to lose personality. They need to still feel human. Otherwise, all the emotion and expression are drained out. Just a thought.

Anyhoo, I'm wiped out. Another deadline met, another comic drawn. This time I think it came out well. I'm happy with the results.  Until next week.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Sensors!


Here are two recent illustrations I drew for Decagon Devices, Inc.

The 10TM:

And the T8:

The T8 was particularly fun to draw. There are all sorts of different surfaces on this puppy. Plus, I haven't had the chance to draw a sensor for Decagon for months and months and I was happy to have the opportunity again. There's just something about technical illustrations that's reeeallly satisfying for me. I guess the type-A part of my personality is a bit over-represented. Make fun of me if you will, but I likes it.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Your Cousin, MARVIN BARRY.


Here's the latest comic for This week's comic is once again about oil prices. I was asked to draw a parody of the movie poster for "Back to the Future", except with a sheik instead of Doc Brown. I was also asked to draw a large puddle of flaming oil beneath the time machine.

Here's the sketch:

Here's the outline:

And here's the whole enchilada:

This one was totally brutal from start to finish. It was just a ton of work. Don't get me wrong: I love my job and feel privileged that I get to draw for a living. But 12 hours of work is hard, just about no matter what you're doing.

I'm not sure exactly why this one took so long. It seemed like a pretty standard comic: two characters, a background element, etc. Granted, one of the elements was the Delorian, which was complex. Also, have I mentioned how much I dislike drawing cars? I just find it a bit tedious. The color was also a bit complicated.

Overall, I think the comic turned out fine. I don't hate it, per se, but I don't think it's my best work, either. Granted, at this point I've been looking at the thing for 12 plus hours, so I may change my mind later. But for now, it's an "A" effort with a "C" result. Marty's face could have been better, the sheik is too skinny and those flames are super half-assed. But the flames were absolutely the last thing I did and I was tired. So the result is flaccid flames.

But I think the color and shading are good.


Sunday, January 11, 2015 #78


Here's the latest comic for The subject this week was the continuing decline in oil prices and the likely effect on financial markets, both domestic and abroad.

I was asked by the folks at to draw two panels. The first with a New York background featuring a stock trader sheltering himself from stock ticker rain (red) under a black umbrella. Its counterpart panel was to be a Russian trader standing in front of the Kremlin while oil-like rain falls from the sky and onto his white umbrella.

Here's the sketch:

Here's the outline:

And here's the final:

Sorry for the brevity of this one. After what happened at Charlie Hebdo, I'm not feeling particularly reflective or jokey. It was a rough day to be a cartoonist.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

He Did the Monster Map.

Here's the latest in a series of bookmarkers/store maps for the local beloved bookstore, Bookpeople.

This one is based on an old sailor's map. The kind from the time when people thought there were dragons swimming around in the oceans (16th century and thereabouts).

Here's the map:

My favorite details are the wax seal Bookpeople logo, the sail of the ship (which includes some lines from Moby Dick), and the compass background.

These are such an intense amount of fun to create. I'm not sure if this is going to be the last one or not. I think it was the last one that was planned, but I'll keep my fingers crossed that they want more in the future.

For reference, here are the others (pirate, subway, space):


It's beginning to look a lot like baseball.

Hello sports fans.

Please feel free to imagine Bob Uecker is announcing this post.

It was the most wonderful time of the year recently. That's right: "Lindy's" baseball illustration time. I know that not everyone celebrates Lindy's Baseball Illustration time, but I hope that, no matter where you live or what you hold dear, Lindy's Baseball Illustration time can be a moment of the year where you take time to reflect on the things you truly value, cherish the people you love, and gather 'round the warmth of an open fire to talk about how much you love illustration and want to hire an illustrator to do some work for you in the very near future.

The topic this year for Lindy's Baseball was the upcoming rule changes in MLB. The rules are designed to speed up the game, because apparently too much time passes in America's Pastime. No one seems to mind that a one-hour football game lasts four hours. Maybe people find baseball boring because not enough brain damage happens on the field of play.

Here's an article on Deadspin about the new rules.

At any rate, one of the rules is that the batter must keep one foot inside the batter's box at all times. Here's the layout sketch for the illustration:

This was a fun layout. I'm usually allowed to be as cartoony as I want for "Lindy's", which is great good fun. Not that I think all illustration should be cartoony, but I firmly believe that all illustration should take advantage of the fact that it's illustration. There are very distinct advantages to illustration. Foremost, in my mind, is that it's a world where you can visualize the impossible. Want an ostrich riding a dinosaur? No problem. Illustration can not only depict the impossible (or unlikely), it can do so with style. Which is why I enjoy drawing things in a cartoony way. The exaggeration is delightful to draw and it makes a unique impression.

Here's the outline:

Finally, here's the final version:

Like I said: Fun to draw. Hopefully, fun to look at. Drawing bored people is fun. Boredom is a subtle expression. It's also never just on the face. Boredom is fun the whole body can have. It's in the shoulders and hands and back. I suppose you could say that about almost every expression, though.

I spend so much of the year looking forward to Lindy's  Baseball Illustration time and then it's gone in a flash. All I can do now is look forward to this magical time of year next December.

Merry Lindy's Baseball Illustration time to all, and to all a good night.


The Horror

A couple of months ago, I was asked if I would be willing to take on a new commission for the holidays. I assumed it would be a standard portrait or caricature, but it ended up being a little more complicated and a lot more fun.

The subjects are the Meza brothers, who direct short horror films. I was asked to draw the brothers (one carrying a movie slate and the other carrying an old camera), running from the monster in "The Ring". And that is all sorts of awesome.

Here's the sketch:

The layout took a little more time than usual for a couple of reasons. I had to re-draw the first guy a couple of times because I wasn't satisfied with the way the sketch looked. It's also my habit to draw people's heads fairly large. Faces are fun to draw, they tend to be the locus of attention, and it's also partially habit because of the comics. But that's not the style this client wanted and I really had to fight the urge to make them bobble-headed cartoons.

Fitting three characters in action poses into a single illustration (8.5" x 11") took a little maneuvering, but it worked eventually. I considered using a more dynamic layout (one where the "camera" is in front of the brothers instead of to the side), but I chose this approach for clarity of the action and the fact that it showed 3/4 of each character.

Finally, I also used the background elements (moon, trees, clouds) to pull attention toward the primary characters while (hopefully) adding to the tone and not distracting too much from the foreground.

Next, the outline:

Not a lot of new ground there. This is the same process (sketch, outline, flat color, shading) that I used in college when I was drawing political cartoons. The outline always lends itself to a more cartoony feel. That works perfectly on this one, but may be a liability on other illustrations where the tone is different. I suppose I could get rid of the outline and change the coloring process to more of a painterly one (more like the way I used to layer oil paints), but that's an experiment for another project.

Here's the final, color, shading and all:

One of the many things I love about illustration is that it's not bound by physical reality. Yes, you can have two real people being chased by a monster that doesn't actually exist. But I'm talking about more subtle details than that. The lighting here is a complete fiction. If the moon were actually the only light source and it was located behind their heads, the shadow would be darkest on their faces. But that's not exactly a great idea when the whole point is to show their faces, right?

In a way, this is more like movie lighting. Ever notice how, when a character lights a candle or turns on a flashlight in a movie, the whole room lights up along with their faces? It's important for us as an audience to be able to see the characters' faces so that we know how to react emotionally. Our empathy for the characters on screen drags us into whatever situation they're experiencing. As much as a music cue or a line of dialogue, the look on someone's face tells us just about everything we need to know.

Fortunately, in illustration I don't need a Teamster with a klieg light to do the job. I can just paint the light in. Makes me feel a little bit like a tiny director. I think I'll order myself a chair with my name written on the back and grow a director's mustache.

In summation, this was a super fun job. It was fun to think about and fun to draw. I think the craft turned out well (I had plenty of time and I took plenty of time, which are invaluable).


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Fancy Hobo

Here's a sketch I did over the holidays of a fancy hobo. This one was actually done on paper. With like, a pencil and everything. Enjoy!

A Look Back

Here's the last comic of 2014 for It's a complete departure from the normal financial comics. Rather than a traditional comic, this one is a compilation of every comic I drew for the site in 2014. It was an interesting exercise. It made me realize how much work I did for the crew over the last year.