Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year End Close-Out

As 2008 comes to a close I just wanted to thank everyone who's followed this seldom updated web log. I'm optimistic that you'll see a lot more activity here in 2009. I'm finally coming out of the fog and finding some momentum for new stories and scripts.

For tonight I'll leave everybody with a few oldies— two of which point to a future project.

I'll dedicate this first one to Maris Wicks because she was somehow involved in it— though I can't remember how.



This is a piece I finished just after college. It's a subject I've been meaning to return to for some time now because I feel it's such a natural fit for comics.



Another one-pager with a similar slant.



Happy New Year all! We have a shiny new year to look forward to and a shiny new president for those of us in the U.S.

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Cat Is So Trendy


I recently discovered that my cat, Donald, like many cats his age, has started a twitter page. Follow his "adventures" here.

photo by Ann Smith

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Logo



I'll probably be working this into the title screen eventually. It's my new logo.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Further News!

It's actually not that new.

Best American Comics 2008 is out, edited by Lynda Barry who, in her infinite wisdom, decided to include me in a collection of far more talented people/heroes. Anyway it's out now and you should pick it up. It's so beautiful I'm embarrassed to have sullied its pages.

It looks like this:



The cover alone is worth the price.

find it here!

I also have a new image on the American Illustration website. Visit it here. I may have the most schizophrenic presence on their website.

Anyway, I thank everybody— including you, dear reader.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Here I Come a Wassailing

I owe many, many, many, people emails and holiday related greetings (Amanda N., I'm looking in your direction). Life has been hectic to say the least. Between my current employment, making images and all the craziness that goes along with the holidays, it's been tough to stay in touch. I wanted to send a little web log greeting to anyone and everyone who still bothers to read this or attempt to maintain regular communications with me. All the best everybody!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Golden Oldies Vol. 2

Here's a few more fun picks from the archives.

This first one is funny because it's true.



Oh you kids!

This next one had to do with my perverse aversion to spring. Don't ask me, I just paint them.



I've always, always wanted to play the drums. Maybe someday.



This last piece was a reaction to book covers on psychology. 99% of illustrated psychology book covers have the interiors of heads on them so I decided to go with the cliché.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Spots

Who likes little drawings? Me (and hopefully you)!

Monday, October 20, 2008

GOILS!

It's been so long since I've drawn anything I've had to ease my way back into the groove with some portraits. These were all from the giant pile of wedding magazines sitting in our living room. I might do a separate post on how silly/miserable the women are in these magazines.

Anyway a few semi-crumby drawings:





This one highlights how lost I get when I have to deal with shading. Eek!

Floating City

For those who don't know, life has been a little hectic for me as of late, but I'm slowly transitioning back to a productive work schedule and wanted to share a few warm up projects and exercises.

I've been doing a lot of experiments creating black and white patterns and mark-making. This little series of variations are the first of several pieces I'm hoping to debut on postmodernfrog integrating these patterns and textures digitally.

This piece which I'm calling "Satellite" is probably the closest I'll ever get to a Roger Dean painting. I guess I've always been into flying/floating stuff.

Here's a detail of the black and white sketch:



Here's the a color version which I made next using a scratched postcard and block print highlights:



And finally a simpler black and white variation:



Any preferences? I'm putting together an online store soon so I'd love some feedback from anyone who cares to comment.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Thing

Sometimes you just want to draw the thing.

Friday, June 13, 2008

EAIO #2 Last Splash

The following is part of an ongoing series chronicling, in no particular order, every album I own. To learn more visit my "about" link to the right.

Artist
Breeders

Kim Deal: vocals and guitar; Kelley Deal: vocals and guitar; Josephine Wiggs: Bass; Jim MacPherson: percussion.

Album
Last Splash

Track Listing
New Year
Cannonball
Invisible Man
No Aloha
Roi
Do You Love Me Now?
Flipside
I Just Wanna Get Along
Mad Lucas
Divine Hammer
S.O.S.
Hag
Saints
Drivin' On 9
Roi (Reprise)

Format
Compact Disc

Date Purchased
January(ish) 1994

Last Played
About a year ago

Stored In
Original case which has been modified with a transparent peach CD grip after the teeth of the original package broke.

Reason Purchased
Cannonball— I was in high school and you can't deny that song was (and is) catchy. I hoped it would make me cool or at least seem cool. Along with the typical assortment of Nirvana albums it was one of the few angsty things I had heard and enjoyed. It was also different than most anything else I owned at the time.

The Story
One winter day my Junior year in high school I woke up to what our local D.C. weatherman had predicted: enough snow to keep me out of school for a good three days.

Snow day! A phenomena I would sorely miss as an adult.

I was very excited. So much so that I couldn't go back to sleep even though it was 6:30am— my usual, and hated, school day wake up hour. "This is one of several reasons I'm glad I don't live in a desert," I thought. There was already a good six inches on the ground and it was still coming down in blankets.

I had an idea.

After a quick bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, I put on enough layers of clothing to climb Everest while I concocted a major expedition. I would not waste this day— it was brimming with potential. I set up a silent agenda in my head: a walk to the park, build a snowhuman out of snow and local debris, walk five miles or so to the record store and spend everything I had in my pocket, then a surprise visit to... well, let's see if I have time.

It was a sensational storm. The snow corkscrewed in the wind and my thoroughly average, vinyl-sided, suburban neighborhood was transformed by pounds upon pounds of fat snow. After two right turns around the block I reached the entrance to our local park. I crossed the small footbridge over the delta of the flood control plane and headed to the top of the local sledding hill.

No one was out yet. I marveled at how magically still everything seemed in spite of the roaring wind and snow. There were no cars, no people, even birds and the creek below were muffled by the white noise of the wind. There is no other phenomena that rivals snow in terms of a total transformation of the senses. At least one that is pleasant. I suppose a volcanic erruption might count for— oh fuck— I'm sorry. We were talking about music.

So I skip the snowperson and make a snow angel instead because I figured this way the snowfellow would go straight to heaven and there'd be no chance for him to mess up (and no, it's not the same as a snow abortion).

I plunged ahead to the record store. It was about a five mile walk from the park to the strip mall where the store was located. As I write this, I'm racking my brain to remember the name of the chain. I want to say it was Kendall Jackson, but that's a crappy California winemaker. It was slow going, the snow was reaching knee height at this point, and plows had kicked an extra helping along the roadside. I pretended I was on an adventure through the Himalayas. I didn't know anything about the Himalayas but I had heard they had snow there and lots of it.

I finally arrived. The parking lot was only just beginning to be cleared by the plows. "Kendall Jacksons" was miraculously open even though several other shops had closed for the day. In hindsight this was exceptionally lucky; it never even occurred to me that they would be closed. I stepped inside and uwrapped my snow encrusted scarf. I got a weird look from the only employee in the store who greeted with a barely audible, "hi." He had probably seen me, on foot, marching across the entire football-field-sized parking lot. I did look pretty ridiculous.

I knew what I was after, the song Canonball had been well cemented into my brain by the winter of 1994. I pretended to check out the other new releases so that I could have a rest before heading back out. I casually looked at the track listing for Guns and Roses "The Spaghetti Incident?" while I made puddles on the floor. I could only pretend to be interested for so long. I made my purchase and prepared to head out. The loan clerk said, "Good luck out there, dude." I nodded, "Thanks." I may have been the only customer that day.

It was not too late at this point. By my invisible watch, it was somewhere just after noon. Plenty of time for the next leg of my adventure. I was pretty sure she would be home.

The snow was starting to let up which made walking a bit easier. It was a relatively short trip to my next destination. I examined the candy colored CD packaging en route but kept it wrapped to keep it from getting wet. Within an hour I was at the doorstep. "Won't she be surprised," I thought, "Who else would risk life and limb to venture out in this weather?

Apparently one more person than I expected. Her gruff father answered the door and, after a brief explanation, I was allowed inside where I found Janet and Jared (names have been changed to protect the 100% innocent). I instantly regretted I had made the trip. She was surprised but it wasn't the reaction I was hoping for. It was more of a what the hell are you doing here than a I can't believe you came all this way to see me. Jared was no more thrilled by my presence, though he was polite. Her parents offered me a hot beverage to warm up, which I accepted. They clearly preferred Jared to me. He was more attractive and confident and would be Janet's recognized boyfriend within a few weeks. The cocoa was terrible— or I just wasn't in the mood for cocoa. I removed my coat but left on my extra layer of pants as I attempted to chat with Janet and Jared. They were quite the coupling— wearing nearly matching sweaters by the fire. They looked like a page from an L.L. Bean catalog. After awkward small talk and the usual discussion of the unusual weather, I quickly finished my cocoa, said some thank-yous and see-you-laters and escaped back to the cool air.

The trip home was the shortest of the day but my energy was sapped. I was utterly defeated. Their names both started with "J," I thought, They were meant to be. I trudged home while the clouds still filled the sky like a perfectly polished concrete slab.

I arrived home to two extremely distressed parents who wanted to know just where the hell I had been all goddamn day and they were worried sick and would it kill me to call and what was I thinking in the first place and there's dinner if I really wanted it but I was in big trouble in case I hadn't noticed. The Fresh Prince was right— parents just didn't understand.

I went to sleep that night with headphones on; listening to Mad Lucas set to repeat on my portable Kenwood CD Player.

It would be a long time before I associated Last Splash with anything fun.

Random Associations

FUN! This album is totally fun. Cannonball is a total hit on any party mix and virtually every song on the album has made it onto a road mix or summer mix. I mostly took to it's dark distorted atmosphere and selected angry lyrics at first but now I think of it as a good time rocker.

I remember my cousins Chris and Carol visiting some time after its release and going bananas over the song Saints, which may or may not have had a video tied to it at the time.

In my theater department's spring show my senior year of High School I remember trying to create some kind of interpretive dance or something to the track Mad Lucas. It failed big time. I think it involved Slinkies. It failed big time.

Standout Lyrics

From Mad Lucas:
Arise wash your face
From cinder and soot
You're a nuisance
And I don't like dirt.


From Hag:
Hag! Coastal cut-throat!
You dirty switch,
You're on again


I like the school girl, nanny-nanny-boo-boo, delivery of this song. It reminds me of Debbie Harry singing Rip Her to Shreds.

Season I Most Associate With This Album
Summer, oddly enough.

Impressions

I pull this album out about once a year to listen to in it's entirety and it's on a very short list of albums I purchased in high school that I don't regret buying (Stone Temple Pilots, I'm looking in your direction). They borrowed from prevailing grunge sound that was in style at the time without using it as a gimmick and without taking themselves too seriously. I hesitate to even use the term grunge to describe the Breeders because they seem to be a natural off-shoot of Kim Deal's more influential band, The Pixies (maybe you've heard of them), and the Pixies were definitely not grunge. But the Breeders took that early nineties heavy rock sound and brought a pop sensibility to the table. They put the fun back into the music without undermining the ominous or dark elements. That's tricky stuff. Courtney Love was trying to make this album her whole career.

I also like that the Breeders are sort of a family band. The Deal sisters used the name, The Breeders, for a folk rock band they started back in the 70's. How cute they must have been!

I find I have a different track I latch onto each time I listen to it but favorites would include No Aloha with its moaning, Hawaiian steel inspired guitar; Mad Lucas which sounds like it was lifted from a David Lynch movie— vaguely romantic— if you're a serial killer; Hag for reasons I already discussed and Drivin' on 9 which I'll wager has made it onto the a road mix of anyone who owns the album. Cannonball is a solid gold party song for my generation.

The only thing that feels dated about Last Splash is it's packaging but it's more charming than anything else.

Conclusion:
Last Splash is my kind of nostalgia.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wha?!



BWAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HEE HEE HAHA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAHA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HOO HOO OO HOO HOO HOO HOO

AHA HA HA HA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
hehehehheheheheheheheheh

Oh Ooo! Ooo!

HEH HEE HEE HEE HA HA. HO. HO.

...hmf

...ha

...

BWAHAAHAAHAHAAAAHAHAAAHAAHAAAAHAAHAHAAAAHAAAAHAA HAAH AHAHAAAAHAAAHAAAHAHA!

HAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAAHAAA...*SNIFF* HA HAAAHAAA HAAA

TEE HEE HEE HEE —THE HAT! — HAH AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA

HA HAHAHAHA.

OH God. Enough.

Hm. Hm Hm.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

EAIO #1 One Foot in the Grave

The following is part of an ongoing series chronicling, in no particular order, every album I own. To learn more visit my "about" link to the right.

Artist
Beck

Album
One Foot in the Grave

Track Listing
He's A Mighty Good Leader
Sleeping Bag
I Get Lonesome
Burnt Orange Peels
Cyanide Breath Mint
See Water
Ziplock Bag
Hollow Log
Forcefield
Fourteen Rivers Fourteen Floods
Asshole
I've Seen The Land Beyond
Outcome
Girl Dreams
Painted Eyelids
Atmospheric Conditions

Format
Compact Disc

Date Purchased
Fall of 1995

Last Played
Selected tracks were played within the last two months.

Stored In
It's original CD case. In good condition.

Reason Purchased
For a time I was only familiar with, Loser off the album, Mellow Gold— Beck's first big hit single and I wasn't impressed. Like everyone else, I thought he was a stoned-out one hit wonder and I'd be rid of him soon enough. About six month's after it's release I heard the rest of Mellow Gold while driving around aimlessly in my friend Brian's Oldsmobile, and was intrigued. I went to Best Buy (what I considered my local record store at the time) but they were sold out. I did discover another Beck album, One Foot in the Grave. It featured a black and white photo of Beck standing next to a blonde haired fellow who was either: 1) embarrassed to be seen with Beck 2) in the midst of liver pains or 3) James Bertram. It turned out to be all three. I purchased it because I thought it was Beck's first album. Being the contrary sort, I had a hunch that the album no one had ever heard of was probably better than the one everyone was listening to. I think I was sort of right.

The Story
When I concocted the idea for writing these little blurbs I had a hard time deciding where to start. I could have started with the first album I ever bought, Hysteria by Def Leppard, which I still have on the original cassette. I chose One Foot in the Grave because it was, what I consider to be, a turning point for me musically. By the time I was fourteen I had decided that commercial radio was awful and anything on it was awful; this included not just contemporary rock but classic rock, country, hip hop and so on. Unaware of the booming music scene a few miles away in D.C. my tastes were greatly influenced by an older cousin who introduced me to bands like Blues Traveler and Phish. This is the style of music I listened to and enjoyed up until my senior year in high school— an overweight dude playing every note on the harmonica. The Spin Doctors, Dave Matthews Band and other various groups tied to the Horde Tour were on heavy rotation up until my senior year of high school. Then I bought One Foot in the Grave. Granted, One Foot in the Grave is not making many lists as a landmark album, but for a kid like myself who had overlooked Sonic Youth, didn't have any idea who Calvin Johnson was, and hadn't even heard of indy rock, it was pretty explosive.

First of all, it sounded like they recorded through the built in mic input on my boom box. The instruments weren't quite in tune. The musicians didn't seem particularly concerned with playing the songs correctly. The singer/songwriter was coughing right in the middle of the song. As a collection of songs it was unwieldy— jumping from slow folksy dirges into sloppy raucous punk rock and austere blues.

But it was catchy. It had an immediacy to it, as if a group of guys got drunk in a hotel one night and made an album. There was underlying loneliness to the lyrics that was very appealing to me at the time. How can any sober girlfriendless high school nerd listen to Asshole once and not play it on repeat for hours on lonely Saturday nights?

Most importantly everyone else hated it, so I knew I was on to something.

With a few missteps here and there, this record would quickly lead me to the groups that form the foundation of what I like today.

Random Associations

More than any other Beck track, I've come across more unwelcome covers of Asshole than I care to remember. It's slightly obscure, easy to play and totally catchy which apparently makes it a first choice for middling pretty boy bands who want to toughen up their otherwise banal rock sets.

It's worth noting that during live shows, Beck changed the second chorus to "He'll do aynthing to make you feel like an asshole."

Standout Lyrics
From Cyanide Breath Mint:
Definitely this is the wrong place to be
There's blood on the futon
There's a kid drinking fire

Going down to the sea
They got people to meet
Shaking hands with themselves
Looking out for themselves


From Outcome:
Riot Cops, Cheerleaders— eyebrows painted on their heads
A mouth full of rotting cavities
Drinking Coca-Cola in the Streets


Season I most associate with this album
Fall

Track I most wanted to skip
Ziplock Bag

Impressions/Notes/Etc.

• If Woody Guthrie made an album about the end of world where only a few LA strip malls survived, I think it would sound something like this. There is a definite world conjured up by this album of broken down people, city sprawl ruins and overflowing dumpsters. For me the core of the album comes from tracks like Cyanide Breath Mint, Outcome and Painted Eyelids. The album holds up pretty well. I'm not as crazy about tracks like Fourteen Rivers Fourteen Floods as I once was. It seems more like a novelty track now.

• The nonchalant rocker Burnt Orange Peels is featured on the soundtrack for a movie I have yet to write.

• Cyanide Breath Mint is a personal classic. It might be my favorite example of Beck's impressionist lyrics allowing the listener to inject their own meaning into the music. Though there's nothing concrete about the imagery, every little piece paints a picture of disappointment. It's like someone asking helplessly, "How did I wind up here?"

• That last bulleted note was super pretentious.

• I looked up plodding in the dictionary and it said: See Water. Ah dictionary jokes.

Conclusion
It's a keeper.

Every Album I Own [Press Play]

It occurred to me about a year ago, as I was reorganizing my compact disc collection, that I own so much music, it's virtually impossible to enjoy it all on a regular basis. I only get around to properly reshelving my discs and records every three months, having scattered them to every corner of my apartment during that time. This usually involves an elaborate reorganization to incorporate new additions, albums in heavy rotation and waning loiterers. During this time I often come across favorites I haven't revisited in years (how could I leave Developer on the shelf for two years without a burn?) and forgotten relics of dread (why do I own or even come to own The Coneheads Soundtrack?).

Between records, compact discs, cassettes, various purchased and scavenged MP3s, I probably own about six hundred something albums and counting. Among them are classics, standards, oddities, rarities, horrors and total embarrassments. I've decided to revisit, in no particular order, every album I own.

This will not include every album I've ever owned (sorry, Sponge). I won't be reviewing the albums or rating them either. The point of this is to revisit my entire collection, see how certain things have held up, speak about the personal nature of music and how it has shaped who I am and, above all, to waste copious amounts of my time and the reader's time. This will also give everyone insight into how terrible my collection really is and how I'm a total poser for ever making fun of anyone else's tastes.

Wait until you see all the garbage I got. Great scott! It is atrocious. I promise to try to make this fun.

Bonus points to anyone who can name all twelve albums in the image above.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Is This Thing On?

Good Gravy! Do I even remember how to work this silly thing? Obviously I've been absent for a month and do I have anything to show for it?





I found a patch of laurels and I rested on them. They weren't even that comfortable. I still have some stuck in my pants— but that's another story.

The point is I need to go into full tilt production mode. This might mean a dramatic reduction in socializing— but I can't just goof off for the rest of my thirties. There will be a number of projects that I won't be able to post here because there's stuff still in the works. I'll post a teaser for that here.

I do have a new regular segment I'll start posting possibly as early as today. Thanks to everybody who left such nice comments recently. I'll try to put stuff up more regularly.

Cheers!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

News!

I just got word that my Polar Bear piece will appear on the American Illustration website (ai-ap.com) in their 2008 installment. Cowabunga.

Also now is as good a time as any to mention that my comic Cupid's Day Off will appear in Best American Comics 2008 published by Houghton Mifflin guest edited by Lynda Barry with Jessica Abel and Matt Madden serving as series editors. Here's a little sample panel:



I'm reminded of the line from the movie The Jerk: "I'm in print! Things are going to start happening to me now."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Robot Rock

I know what you're thinking:

"The robot bass player doesn't have any pick-ups on his electric bass! It's completely unrealistic!"

Well I've got news for you, stupid: this image is from the future (the year 2367 to be precise) and that bass uses hyper pick-ups which are contained in the body of the bass.

"Well if this is the year 2367, why is the bass plugged into a Yamaha Taro Taro Midikan 540D synth amplifier?"

Uh...that was an error on my part.



Why not buy a print from my barely profitable ETSY site?

Monday, March 10, 2008

I Swear to God I'm Not on Drugs

But when people see this image they always question me. It was originally going to be a comic book cover.

Postcards

Here are a few older pieces from a series of paintings I did on postcards. I started the series while I was still in school (though these particular pieces were all done later). I would grab free postcards from Tower Records; take them home, sand them down and alter them; then I would take them back to Tower with weird messages on the back and address them to celebrities. Later I learned that this may have been a felony.

Thanks!

















Monday, March 3, 2008

Best Show on WFMU T-Shirts Part I

Readers take note!

My favorite free form radio station, WFMU, is having their annual marathon. If you're not familiar with the station, they are a completely indepedent, listener supported, free form radio station.

Read about their history and their 50th anniversary at this NY Times link.

I strongly urge you to learn about the marathon and pledge here.

The station archives all their programs. Here are links to some of my favorites:

Tom Scharpling: The Best Show on WFMU

Evan "Funk" Davies

Cherry Blossom Clinic with Terre T

Brian Turner

You can listen live online at www.wfmu.org. Listen and pledge!

My favorite program, The Best Show on WFMU is having a T-Shirt contest now. I turned one of my designs into a desktop image. I'll post the finished designs in a later post. Enjoy these and pledge to WFMU!

Viva Dogmo!



And one for Crimestick (he knows who he is):



Cheers!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Big Guy

My cat, Donald. He's famous.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Polar Bear!

Polar Bears are the coolest. Get it? Get it?

Ugh.

I'm most likely submitting this for American Illustration this year. I may try to rock out another image tomorrow.



Here's the color study I did a while back— very Beggarstaff Brothers.



Thanks for the look.

Why not buy a print from my barely profitable ETSY site?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My Little Corner of the World

A sketch for an upcoming project.



Color piece updated February 20th, 2008

Thanks!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Rabbits

A while back I was really into painting these rabbit people. There was something both creepy and comical about them. Sadly I don't have images for the entire series. Cybil Sheppard actually bought a painting from this series.

This was for a group show at Gallery Katz in Boston. It later sold to a woman who said it reminded her of dogs peeing along the banks of the Riviera, or something like that.



This piece appeared on the American Illustration site two years ago (it's still there of course).



The last four are from a sub-series called the escape artist several of these were based on dreams.









Thanks for the look!