Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Of Christmases Past..

Has it really been more than a month between Blog posts?! For SHAME!!!

Sorry, Folks.. but as mentioned in the prior posts, I've been insanely busy with freelance work lately. And on top of that, me & Suzanne have been bogged down with the details of purchasing our very own home.. So there's been literally waves of bureaucratic/legal paperwork for me (us) to wade thru.. Posing another significant distraction, from regular bloggin'-time!

Normally at this time of year (like most everyone else?),.. I'm caught up in the hectic buzz of the 'Holiday Season' hullaballoo.. Shopping for small gifts, finding a nice Christmas Tree, etc.. But also working hard on finishing the artwork for yet-another Dannys family Christmas Card.. An annual tradition, that I began back in 1989..
They've proven to be very popular with friends & family, over the years.. But I've been forced to concede that I simply won't have the time, to complete one this year.. Of course I'm bummed about it, as it'll be the first time I've missed a year.
With luck, I'll find a way to squeeze in work on another new Card, before the 2008 deadline looms up & bites me on the bum.. But in the meantime, I thought I'd share a few of my "older" examples..
Some of the talented artists in my "Friends" links will recognize these. But hopefully, will appear "new" to the rest of you..

This "Sinterklaas" one, is from 2003.. I was going for a kind of Ferdinand Horvath treatment, I think? The white steed looks a bit bland.. But I was quite happy with the way that 'Sinterklaas' and 'Zwarte Piet' turned out! I'm 1st-gen Canadian, myself. But I come from a double-Dutch genetic background.. Both of my parents emigrating to Canada from Holland, in the early 1950's.. So, I think they got a kick out of this one. Even though Dutch folks really celebrate their Christmas on December 5th, rather than the 25th..

'Sinterklaas' ended up looking a little bit shady & unorthodox, which is what I wanted.. A man that enjoys a good cigar, and possibly the occasional alcholic beverage, as well? heh His costume details worked out, too.. A mix, from a number of referenced examples..
'Black Peter' should probably look a bit more serious, too. I think he was supposed to cart away naughty children in bags, in the original Dutch legend.. But he looked so hysterical in those ballooned Spanish pants I gave him.. That I couldn't resist making him much more cherubic & ebullient! haha He seems so elated, to help out ole St. Nick!
The Jolly Elf at the pipe organ here, is my Card from 2004.. And, another favorite of mine! I guess because I used a very traditional 'Santa Claus' design.. the drawing came together very quickly & easily.. I was lucky enough to get some nice animated movement within the main Pose.. I wanted him to look like he could teeter over completely, at any given moment?.. Having half his Right Ass Cheek hangin' off the edge of that tiny wheeled stool, certainly helped in that regard! hehe

The musical Elves in the background, were a last-minute addition, to help balance-out the composition, a bit better.. Their contrasting poses seemed a good fit, with each other. It's a shame that the L'il Reindeer's silhouette gets a bit buried in the color scheme I used for the pipe organ, though.. When it came time to design the organ pedals, I went for a gas/brake scheme.. hah!
Was I subconsciously going for a 'Rankin-Bass' or 'PuppetToons' vibe, with this one? Not sure, myself..

Okay, this 'Three Minstrels' example, was from 2005.. And is very obviously the result of poring over far too many of the 40's-era Frazetta "Funny Animal"comic-books I've been consistently purchasing on eBay!
My versions tend to look a little less spontaneous than Frank's.. But I hope they haven't come off as completely stiff or dull, either? I was pretty happy with the poses & composition, actually. And I'm fine with the cottage and BG details, too.. But for whatever reason, I had a helluva time pushing the Printer to recreate the colors found in my original Digital File.. An ongoing frustration that I've had with all of the Cards I've done over the years.. But particularly so, with this one!

Anyways, that's all for now, Folks.. I'll be trying my darndest to not let another complete month roll by, before I get another "new" Post, up again.. 'Til then, keep yer fingers crossed & say a l'il prayer for me! 'Til then, see yuz..

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Trips To The Fairground!

I recently finished a few more BG Layouts for the "Will & Dewitt" cartoon series, that I'm currently working on.. An episode that featured Will's Family attending their local Fair.. So, I needed to draw stuff like: Rides, Games, and Food Vendors, etc.. It seems every series I've ever worked on, has had at least ONE episode staged at a Fairground. And it got me to thinking about my own experiences at those magical places..

I dug thru the Lower Strata of my artwork archives, and uncovered a few examples of some previous "Fairground" stuff I'd drawn.. These BG Layouts/Location Designs, were completed whilst working over at George Elliott's previous studio: 'PICTOR'.. In 1997, we were contracted to do a lot of freelance Design work on MGM Animation's "All Dogs Go To Heaven" series..
This (above) is an Establishing Shot (Scene 1), from an episode in the 2nd Season.. I managed to work into my design, a tall sightseeing tower.. Which I loosely based on the old 'Bulova Clock Tower' that once existed on Toronto's old 'Canadian National Exhibition' grounds.. Or, more often referred to, as simply: "The CNE" or "The EX".

My girlfriend Suzanne, suggested that adding the "K-97" logo to it.. was a clever wink at the fact that the show was all about Dogs? I had to admit that I'm not smart enough to have made that, such a conscious creative choice! heh
Call it a happy accident, I suppose..
This Layout (above), is from the next shot (Scene 2)..
I think there was a Juggler or Street Performer doing something in the Left Foreground.. so it had to be relatively clear of obstructions.. Crowds needed to wander thru, etc. And yes, "Pasta Lou" was (in fact) spinning his pizza dough, somewhere in the Far Right..
I based the Roller Coaster (somewhat) on memories of the old, wooden "The Flyer" coaster; which also once resided at the CNE, before it (too) was dismantled & sold off somewhere.. I can still remember the familiar clack-clack-clack of the chain catching the coaster cars on each upturn pull..

I had fun adding the roof of a Haunted House into this shot (Scene 21).. The main purpose of which, was mainly to show hordes of people, clamouring down the Midway. I know that the Carousel was supposed to be animated. And possibly, even the Coaster. But for the most part, those poor Korean animators probably had their hands full, just trying to complete all those ferschliggener crowd scenes?! OUCH!!
For some reason, this shot reminds me more of the old 'Markham Fairgrounds', than the CNE.. It was another welcome Summertime diversion, each year! And I still have fond memories of riding their legendary "Zipper" ride; 'til I practically keeled over, from nausea..

This was Scene 64, which featured Itchy & Charlie (the dogs) walking forward (in perspective) at a Worm's Eye View camera angle. If you look hard, you still might see a faint Red Line, where I've indicated my Horizon Line; which is actually BELOW the surface of the cracked pavement? A visual cheat, that I commonly refer to as: "the rolling 'Beetlejuice' horizon".. 'Cuz they used to use that damn technique, ad nauseum!
The Board Panel, originally featured: "Rocketman", as the name of the roller coaster.. Being a big fan of artist: Dave Stevens.. I sneakily changed it to: "Rocketeer", based on his popular comic-book character. And even tried to incorporate some of his design details (helmet fin & eyes), into how the coaster cars might look?
I never saw the final episode on TV.. So, I can't say for sure that any of it slipped past MGM's Legal Department.. But I'd imagine it went thru, unscathed.

That's all for now.. TTY'all Later!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Mushroom Girl WIP

Yeah, I'm still here.. Though I'll forgive those of you, that figured I must've flown the Chicken Coop! WOW,-- I didn't really want to believe that my last Blog Post, was more than a month ago.. But I guess it's True?!
Truth is,-- I've been exceedingly busy with Work, lately.. And that's left me with virtually ZERO time, to update things on here.

I'm still freelancing for the "Two Presidents" animation studio. Working as a BG Layout/Location Design guy, for their "Will & Dewitt" children's cartoon series.. From what I'm told, the show has already aired here in Canada. And if it hasn't already,-- it'll be airing on the WB Network pretty (I'd imagine) soon, in the U.S.A.

So what to Post?
Well, I've got about a half-dozen Pics that're in various stages of completion.. The idea was, that as I got them finished, I'd post them up.. But I just haven't found time, to give them the attention they deserve.. So, I thought I'd just post one of the better ones, as another WIP..
That's fancy Artist Talk for "Work In Progress".. Which really means: "Please excuse this half-assed rough drawing that I didn't honestly have the time or inclination (or bravura) to complete.."

I've been calling this Pic: "Mushroom Girl".. I'm not a Fantasy Art nerd, per se. But I suppose she's a kind of Forest Nymph -type girl. Influenced (obviously) by the kind of work Frazetta does, from time-to-time. Maybe like his "Pillow Book" artwork, if you're familiar with that stuff? Hopefully, there's a bit of a Dave Stevens feel to it, too.. As that too, was my intent..

I tried to clean it up as best I could, using Photoshop.. But it still looks a little rough, in spots. There's a bit of inking done on it. But you can see where I've left myself some Revision notes, too. Overall though, I'm happy with the way it turned out..

Hope to have something more substantial posted again, soon.. Thanks, for all of your kind patronage & patience!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Nelvana monkeyshines..

My entry into the Animation business, began in '89.. I passed a test to become one of the Layout Artists on Nelvana's popular 'BEETLEJUICE' cartoon series. I continued doing Layout on crap like 'BABAR', etc. But Layout, is incredibly intensive work.. And I sooned burned-out on it.

In 1993, I heard that Nelvana might be adapting Mark Schultz' 'XENOZOIC TALES' comic-book into an animated series, entitled: "Cadillacs & Dinosaurs".. And as I'd heard that Design was a much lighter workload than Layout,-- I thought I'd apply for any positions that might still be available..
Long-story-short, I got the job.. And began working with a very small (but very talented) group of artists: Ted Bastien, Leif Norheim, Mike McKay, Kurt Lehner, Koko Maung, and Franc (Francisco) Reyes, among others..
Design, was (is) very different than Layout.. There was a lot more day-to-day kibbitzing & kvetching, than I was used to.. People had the time to throw Gag Drawings around, back-and-forth. And even though I stank at drawing them, myself.. I got quite a few, tossed in my direction. And thankfully, had the foresight to save most of them..

Ted Bastien, was our Design Supervisor.. A very talented artist, that basically showed me what Design was all about. I definitely learned a lot from him. And because our Final Artwork required very-finished linework.. I was also able to teach myself "inking", at the same time!
In hindsight, I suppose I was something of a whiner & complainer. I can get frustrated when a Production isn't running, the way I think it should. And Ted, (of course) picked up on this! Here's a couple of funny drawings that he did of me:

That's Ted, peeking around the corner.. And me, complaining about Ray (Jafelice) who was our Director on "Cads & Dinos".. I was an early fan of Dan Clowes' 'EIGHTBALL' comic-book, too. And I used to bring them into work..
Ted seemed quite taken with the David Greenberger 'Duplex Planet' 1-pagers, that appeared in that comic.. The writing of these strips, were based on the verbatim (and largely incoherent) ramblings of the Retirement Home citizenry; where Mr. Greenberger worked his Day Job.. Hence the obtuse "Run like a Goddamned Deer" comment.. heh

Another guy (who wasn't on our crew) that liked to poke fun at others, was: Dave Thomas.. Later, he turned out to be a quality Storyboard guy on shows like 'DOG CITY', etc. He always had a very dry wit & killer sense of comedic timing..
He seemed to like to draw me with a bullet Head & Body.. I guess the 1st one, was intended to be me as a "Simpsons" character? I dunno.. The color scheme makes me think so, though.

Mike McKay, was another dry wit.. Later, he would go on to be a much-in-demand Effects Designer. Which meant, a lot less Drawing for him to do. Mike is the guy that coined one of my studio nicknames: "Two Dawgs" Dannys.. All because I had the temerity to eat 2 whole hotdogs for Lunch, one afternoon?! Didn't seem like a very Big Deal, to me.. But I guess it was, to him! heh
He also also got a kick outta calling me "Dick", rather than "Rich".. Hence, the following caricature:
Ted Bastien musta liked the sound of that.. 'Cuz while we were working our way thru the "Cads & Dinos" Production schedule, he concurrently worked on his own pet project: a comic-strip, featuring different members of our studio crew.. I think that Mike McKay was a bit put-off to find out that his sole cameo in the strip, involved being portrayed as a derelict vagrant -type, that me & Ted (as the main Detective characters) ran over with our old-school Sedan? haha

The big hulking dude crashing thru the wall of Blayne's (Burnside) Variety store, is none other than Pat Rowsome.. He wasn't on our crew. And I didn't really know him, all that well. But Ted loved drawing him as a raving sociopath. And he was definitely the so-called "Villain", in his storyline..
I can recall watching a Super Bowl game at Pat's house once, with fellow friend: Rob Walton.. I dunno where Pat is, now.. I heard he got married to a girl named Sheryl.. And (I think?) may be now working in Ottawa..
Speaking of Rob Walton.. He did this killer Gag Drawing of Pat & myself, facing off against each other.. Rob liked to call it: "Clash Of The Titans", if memory serves? I found the joke a lot less funny, after Rob explained to me that I WASN'T necessarily being portrayed in Perspective, here!! heh
Even so, I think I could still give "The Pat", a run for his money..

"Clash Of The Titans" was (I believe?) inked by virtuoso artist: Goran Delic.. A Serb import to Toronto, that I didn't really get to work with fully, 'til we both began working in Design, on Jim Lee's 'WildC.A.T.S' cartoon series..
At that time (around '94, I think?), it wasn't uncommon to see me schlepping my way into work (up Atlantic Avenue), most mornings.. Wearing my usual "uniform", ably illustrated by the following Goran ink sketch:

I recall him saying: "Here you are, Reetch.. Now, you are truly a WILDcat!!" heh
Those that know me, realize that the outfit continues to be 'de rigeur'.. I still like my coffee, t-shirts, and jeans.. And though the Doctor's Bag isn't nearly as pristine as it once was.. It continues to carry all of my valued Field Guides, Layout Notes, and reams of Animation Paper.. Cintiq & Sketchbook Pro, be DAMNED!!

A little insight into some of my Nelvana Daze.. Hope you likey?
Talk to y'all laterz!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Cheese Products!

Yes, it's finally come to this, Dear Friends..

Last month, I was contacted by a friend that works at a local Ad Agency.. I'd done some freelance illustration work for him, in the past. But this time, he promised me that he had "real work" for me to do..
Turns out his company had been hired by an International Foods conglomerate, to reinvent the Character Design for a line of their peelable Mozarella Cheese.. They'd been market-testing their existing Character model.. And found it wasn't really connecting with the 11-12 year olds, like it was intended to..

Now I'd done some freelance illustration work for advertising, before.. But this was going to be a bit different, in that it was purely "Development Art".. Rather than, finished packaging artwork.
They wanted something that was fun & light-hearted. A bit kooky. But with a little Hollywood "cool", as well.. He supposedly leads an "active" lifestyle. So they suggested he might possibly be an X-Gamer or Superhero -type, too..

This was my first pass, on the thing..

Really, I just wanted to try and nail down what Body Type he would be, first.. The long & wiry scheme that they had already, seemed to work best. It shows off the flexibility best, etc.. It's such an odd foodstuff, that I imagined maybe an off-the-wall Wally Wood -type Alien guy might work, too. But it ceased looking like the actual stringy Cheese product..
I did a number of different approaches.. I think they liked this guy, the most. Though they mentioned it was perhaps looking a bit too "retro". And was skewed too old for their target audience..

I kinda dug the idea of doing a few Superhero -types, too.. The one guy in the cape, was a riff on the character designs of cartoonist: Benito Jacovitti.. I confessed to the agency, that the small cheese snake, was (in fact) a verbatim ripoff of one of his designs. And really wouldn't be a good idea to use..

My girlfriend Suzanne & a few other Animation friends, liked that one best..
The "Cheezkateer" was a last-minute idea, of mine.. Trying something a bit different, just to see what the reactions would be..

One of the ad execs suggested that perhaps a Jack Cole 'PlasticMan' or FF's "Mr. Fantastic" might be a good jumping off point.. given their flexible/bendable nature? I liked the idea, immediately. But I wanted to retain the goofiness.. So I came up with "Cheez-Lad". Who I imagined as a kind of pimply/awkward Teen.. The kind that used to appear on those 'Firesign Theatre' comedy records! haha
As an afterthought, I also did a Surf Dude.. I wanted someone not quite as goofy. A bit more Beatnik & Bohemian.. Yet, still "active". I like the way the jaunty walk turned out, here..

Though I didn't tell the agency outright, I wasn't terribly keen on the 'X-Gamer' approach.. If only, because it would entail adding a lot of inane Safety Equipment (Helmet, Knee Pads, Elbow Pads, etc).. bogging down the overall silhouette. And killing the stringy hairlines, I'd been working out..

In the end, I think I liked the Surfer Dude idea the best.. It could just as easily be Snowboard or Skateboard, I suppose.. I amped-up the thin/stringy quality, and felt I was getting closer to what I wanted..
The one featured above, has the slacker/hedonist thing going.. But he still looks a bit too poufy/gay.. Maybe it's the damned Turtleneck, or something? He has that arrogant Parisian "look" about him.. And, that wasn't my intent.

Anyways, the job was real good FUN!!
It's not often you get paid decent money to just "play" with Visual Ideas.. And I'd certainly welcome the chance to do s'more of it again, soon!
Though I've been paid for my work .. I have (unfortunately) not yet heard how the Project is proceeding.. I know that there were a few other artists that were also contributing Designs for this.. So perhaps, they've chosen to go in a different direction entirely..

Sorry, for the long delay between Postings.. I'm hoping the next one, won't take quite so long.. See y'all later!!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Paradise Comicon 2007

Well, a complete week has already slipped by since the Main Event.. But I'm in desperate need of a Blog update.. So, I'll ruminate a tad on this past weekend's big 3-day 'Toronto Comicon 2007' event!
It was a very enjoyable gathering, as per usual.. But unless I'm imagining things,-- the crowds seemed a bit thinner than previous years? The CNE location is such a BIG Hall though, that sometimes it just "feels" like there's fewer people? At least, to me..
It's still not an ideal venue, in my opinion. And I know the organizers are aware of it, too.. It simply lacks the intimacy of their cozier 'Holiday Inn on King' venue; which they use for their 1-day conventions..
I got to meet up again, with a number of great friends.. Though, I didn't actually bump into other artist chums, 'til the last day of the Show.. And some of those, not 'til the dwindling hours on Sunday!
Talked briefly to Paul Rivoche, Cameron Stewart, and Michael Cho, too.. Finally got to trade books with Blair Kitchen and his brother Mike.. As well as, catch up with a few of my older Animation compatriots: David Bluestein, and Kurt Lehner..

Paid my respects to Darwyn Cooke, too.. And asked him how his 'NEW FRONTIER' direct-to-video, was proceeding? He told me that all of the North American production work was complete. And that it was now in the capable hands of overseas animators.. Hopefully, it'll turn out alright.. I know Darwyn was a stickler for ensuring that this 2D Animated Feature remain true to his approved Final Script.. So, hopefully, the resulting DVD, will be a memorable one!

I also got to meet up again, with a number 'Drawing Board' friends.. One memorable friend, in particular: Kieron O'Gorman.. aka "untamo1".. Who made a point of dropping by my Artist's Alley table each day, just to shoot-the-breeze, and talk Art, etc..
Kieron currently works fulltime as a Software Tester.. But is looking to changeover to an Arts career, someday. Considering the artwork he shared with me,-- this guy has got TONS of potential.. He'll do fine, in whatever artistic field he chooses to enter!
As a way of expressing "Thanks!" to whatever meagre advice I was able to share with him.. He gifted me with this beautiful Superhero gal, shown here:

Finally... Were you aware that I am: "..the BEST?!!" Neither, was I.. But yeah, I'm finally feeling vindicated!.. I've been told I'm quite simply: "..AWESOME!!!" Who am I to argue?..
OUCH, it already feels like my Head's gonna explode.. Jeepers!

Every convention, I renew acquaintances with some of the more-devout members of Toronto's fine Comic-Book community.. And from my personal experience, 2 of the very-best of these, are: 'Milo' & his girlfriend: 'Kathryn'..
Every show, they make a point to drop by & say "Hello!" and ogle my artwork.. It gives us artists a well-needed EgoStroke. And we (and our artwork) begin to feel a somewhat valuable, to the wider World?
I know that my "free sketches" may have SOMETHING to do with them consistently coming by my Table, too? haha

I'm generally a pisspoor Con Sketch dude.. But lately, I've been getting better at it.. Milo was smart enough to play to my own perceived strengths.. And this time, asked for "The Old Witch" from the vintage 50's-era EC Comics.. A character I've drawn a few times, before..
This, was the result:

I noticed later on, that I'd forgotten to draw a 4th finger on her Right Hand? Oh, well..

Milo also writes (and podcasts!) regularly for an excellent online Comic-Book resource, entitled: 'Digital Kontent'.. You can follow the Link posted in the above JPEG.. Or, if you'd rather read specifically about his 'Paradise Comicon 2007' experiences.. THAT Link, can be reached by clicking here: 'shplort'!!

Have a Great Weekend, everyone!! And I'll TTY'all again, soon!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

ULTIMATE Spider-Man!

I've been meaning to become more active in some of the "Drawing Jam" threads that exist, over at 'The Drawing Board' community I'm involved with. I've been a Moderator in their "Instruction" section, for a number of years now..
They have a number of "Jam" threads stickied throughout most of the different sections.. If you're interested in joining, please do give them a look!

I chose to submit to the "Spider-Man" thread in the 'Superheroes' section.. It was a Drawing that I'd had sitting around half-finished, for a long while. And as it was finally apropos, now.. I decided to finish inking and coloring it..
You can view the original inked drawing, by clicking here!

If it hasn't already been completely obvious to you.. The image is meant to be a riff on the artwork of classic MAD Magazine's artist: Don Martin.. I had an old 3-pager he'd done, that featured a number of funny gags using Marvel's Spider-Man character.. Of course, I had to make sure that I also used one of his unique 'Sound Effects', too! hah

Don Martin passed away in 2000, after a battle with cancer. He was 68 years old..
In 1987, he stopped working for MAD. He'd gotten into a disagreement with it's publisher: Bill Gaines.. And for the next 6 years, did work for MAD's competitor: 'CRACKED'..
Sadly, Martin had degenerative eye condition, which made it increasingly difficult for him to draw, in his latter years. He had a number of operations, to try and remedy the problem.. But still required special magnifying equipment, and a handful of freelance"inkers", to help him complete most of his work..

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The RIPPING FRIENDS in: "Beef Rescue"!

I've been in a bit of a drawing slump, lately.. So for a new Post, I decided to just drag out an older illo & try throwing some color onto it? Here's the result:

In 2003, a local Toronto kid named "Julian" approached me at a comic-book convention.. He asked if I'd do a "Ripping Friends" commissioned Drawing for him? I said sure. But then he told me that he not only wanted the entire Foursome.. But that he wanted them geared-up in the same Spacesuits they'd worn in the "Frictor" episode?! Oh, yeah.. And also? Please include at least 1 of the cows that were in the "Ovulator" episode, as well...

Well, I always enjoy a challenge.. And fortunately, still had all of the necessary Model Sheets, too..
So, I simply invented a screwy scenario where 'Jimmy The Idiot' and the Cow, were rescuing the stranded RF team, somewhere on the Moon.. Bringing them heaping helpings of sorely-needed MEAT, to sustain their heroic strength!! heh

Hoping to post some "fresher" artwork soon, folks.. Apologies.
See yuz, later!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Genius of HANK PORTER..

I was cruising thru sections of eBay a few nights ago.. When I came across a Seller that was auctioning off samples of 'Original Art', by Disney artist: Hank Porter.. Most of these, look to be developmental sketches.. Or perhaps, ideas that never made it Final Art.. But they're still mighty cool to look at!

After I attended Sheridan College in the early 1980's.. I spent some time working retail for 'The Dragon Lady' comic-book shop, here in Toronto.. It was then, that I first discovered Porter's work as a Designer of military insignia for various WW2 detachments. The designs would occasionally appear as full-page promos, in the older issues of 'LIFE Magazine' that we'd sell..

There was something about these Designs, that fascinated me.. Seeing familiar Funny Animals, acting in overtly aggressive ways.. These emblems seemed an ideal blending of Cartooning & Illustration disciplines. Iconic poses of animated creatures, delineated in rich colors & lush inklines!

Not long afterwards, I wrote to the Disney Archives, asking if they could help direct me to find more of this WW2 material? Their Archivist: David R. Smith wrote back a kind letter, stating that almost ALL of the Disney insignias were printed in a Stamp series once, designed to raise funds for the War Effort.. But that due to a lack of interest, little of this material has ever been republished by the Disney Company.. And he felt that there wouldn't be significant public demand, to reprint them now, etc.

Well, he must've received a few more inquiries, after mine.. Because only a few short years later (in 1992), 'Abbeville Press' published the terrific 'Disney Dons Dogtags' book! An album that I dearly love.. Yet I wish it had been more complete, too.. As it contains only a fraction of the overall artwork, actually created.

Hank Porter began running his own successful Commercial Art studio in Buffalo N.Y., in 1925. He later applied for a job at Disney, in 1936.. Where he became a valuable staff artist in their Publicity Art Department, 'til 1950.
From the very beginning of WW2, different military units began adopting divisional "mascots" as their representative insignia. And though both the 'Walter Lantz' & 'Warner Bros.' studios also contributed insignia designs,-- the lion's share of them, were still created by Hank Porter thru Disney Studios..
Porter headed up Disney's official 'Military Insignia' department.. Designing & drawing most of the emblems, himself. And supervised the work of others.. including, artist: Roy Williams. Simultaneous to this work, Porter also contributed artwork for many of the illustrated adaptations of Disney's 'SILLY SYMPHONY' cartoons; that appeared monthly in 'Good Housekeeping' magazine..

If you can still find the 'Disney Dons Dogtags' book.. I heartily recommend getting a copy!
To read (and SEE!) more about the career of Hank Porter (and others),-- I'd also direct you to visit the most-excellent David Lesjak BLOG entitled: 'Toons At War'..

See ya!

Saturday, March 31, 2007


I know it's been a bit of a drought here, re: new posted Artwork.. I hope to remedy that, very soon.. But in the meantime, I'll distract you with another Burlesque Girl entry!
Presenting... Miss PATTI WAGGIN!!

I dunno much about her, frankly.. She performed early on, as: "Patti Brownell".. And also danced as: "Patti the Co-Ed".. aka. "The Girl With The Educated Torso"! haha
She always looked younger than her years.. And I think she had a fresh girl-next-door "look" to her, that reminded patrons of a vibrant, young College Girl?
She was built leaner & more-muscular than the 50's-era norm, for PinUp Girls.. And from what I've read, had something of a Tomboy personality..
She was raised in the mountainous town of Burney, California.. And got her start at the 'New Follies' Theatre, in downtown Los Angeles. She sez her parents taught her to "hunt and fish, like a man.." Whatever that means..
Oh yeah,-- she also liked to race Harley-Davidson motorcycles, on outdoor courses.
She was also married briefly, to 'Chicago White Sox' pitcher: Don Rudolph.. And (I believe) retired to Bakersfield, California; after her Striptease career had ended..

The initial photo at the Top of this posting, was something I'd grabbed off the Web once. But these other 4 photos, I'm lucky enough to own..
Recently, a California eBay Seller was putting up a lot of Patti's personal memorabilia.. Items he'd secured at an Estate Sale, after Patti had passed on. I kept getting outbid on some of the nicer stuff.. So I was thankful to get these!
I was able to get about a dozen small-ish Contact Print photos, that were from her personal scrapbook. Many of these I have not seen before.. But I've seen some of the others, used in her publicity promotion..
These 2 photos were clearly shot outside of an unknown Burbank Theatre.. With Patti showing off both the Marquee and Lobby Poster, for her show..
I spent some time scrubbing these clean of dirt & dust, using Photoshop.. Hope you enjoy looking at 'em!

These last 2, are some of my favorites.. She had a kind of Pageboy brunette haircut, that reminds me of "Bettie Page". In a lot of her photos she puckers-up, to give you that "bee-stung" lips effect.. I suppose that was another of her performing trademarks? I dunno..
In fact, if anyone has any information on her.. Please post it & lemme know!
'Til next time.. See ya!!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Daniel Torres' ROCCO VARGAS!

Humble apologies, for my long absence.. I've spent the past couple of weeks, hurriedly completing my 'CFA-APA' contribution! The deadline was November 15th. And I only got it sent out via FedEx, this aft.. Fortunately, our Editors always afford us, a little bit of wiggle room!

For those that don't know.. An 'APA' is an 'Amateur Press Association'.. A kind of an old-school Fanzine, published by (and for) it's own Membership.. In our case, it's a sophisticated group of 'Original Art' collectors/enthusiasts. We only ever publish 55 copies or so, about 3 times a year.
Each issue, features a different "theme" for articles to follow. And this time 'round, it was: "International Comic Art".. So I chose to write about Daniel Torres. One of my favorite-est European artists!

Normally, writing my article comes pretty easy.. But truth-be-told, I knew very little about Daniel Torres.. Outside of the fact that he was from Spain; and that I liked his work a lot..
I found relatively little info about him, online. And what I did.. was all written in Spanish. A language which I am definitely not fluent in!
Last week (fortunately), I was able to purchase the new 'ROCO VARGAS Sketchbook' at my comic-book shop.. It's excellent!! I can't recommend it, highly enough! And that helped me sort out some of Torres details for my article..

I had a hard time just picking out a few JPEGs from the book to showcase here, on my Blog.. I only scanned the cover and a few interior pages.. It's a 48-page hardcover, that is loaded with conceptual sketches, color comps, vehicle & character designs.. And even storytelling 'page breakdowns' that you can compare to the finished books, if you have them..
The English-language translations were all published as: 'ROCCO VARGAS'.. with an added "C" to the name. The earliest stories started out as a kind of swashbuckling Space Opera.. But later issues, informed us that 'ROCCO' was in fact a mild-mannered Science-Fiction writer named: "Armando Mistral"; who just happens to get drawn into a lot of adventures, mystery, and intrigue..
I actually own relatively few of the books, myself.. As Torres' work is notoriously difficult to find on these North American shores! If you enjoy the 'Clear Line' style popularized by artists like Yves Chaland and Eddy Vermeulen.. Give Daniel Torres' work a look,-- you might really enjoy it, too!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

S'more "Funny Animals"!

Okay, here's that page of "Funny Animal" development doodles, that I mentioned earlier..
Granted, a lot of it is still quite sketchy.. But I hope it gets the idea across?
The 'Pulp'-style crimefighter here, is obviously supposed to be the Rooster dude..

A lot of this, was inspired by looking at a lot of early Will Eisner & Jack Cole artwork.. I even gave the Police Commissioner owl in the Lower Left, a 'Dolan' -esque hairlick! Most of the other characters on the page, are various ne'er-do-wells of different sizes & shapes.. I think the weird monkey character in the fedora, was riffed off a Jack Cole 'Silver Streak' character..
I looked at a fair share of Milton Stein stuff, too.. But I don't think any of that, really shows itself in these sketches?

Hope you likey.. See y'all laterz!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Anybody that knows me.. Already knows that I'm slowly assembling my own scrapbook/binder of Frazetta's old-timey 'Golden Age' comic-book work. And a big chunk of that, was the beautiful "Funny Animal" text illos & stories; that were published by 'Standard Comics' in the mid-to-late 4o's..
Today, was an awfully good day for me.. As I received the last of 3 different "Funny Animal' books that I'd been waiting on, won off eBay. This last one, was entitled: 'BARNYARD COMICS' #20. And not only did it have 3 different (2 of which, are featured here) text illos. But it also had a very nice 7-page "Barney Rooster" story!

If memory serves,-- both the 'Big Ears' and 'Forest Concert' illos were featured in the Kitchen Sink 'Small Wonders' trade paperback; published in '91. But I have a complete Checklist of the entirety of Frazetta's comic-book output.. And it's pretty shocking just how much artwork, is actually still missing from that particular book..
Plus, it was only published in black&white. To truly appreciate how gorgeous this stuff looks, it behooves you to see them in color! There's something about that slightly off-register printing on old yellowing pulp, that really enhances the "warmth" of these Pics!

Featured above, is the custom Christmas Card that I created for my family, in 2005.. It was my own attempt at staging some "Funny Animals" in a similar way. Unfortunately, I recall that the yellows didn't printout all that well; skewing towards a more-greenish tint.
This digital JPEG-version is actually closer to the original intent of the color scheme.

Off-and-on, I've also been developing a 'Pulp'-style crimefighter story, using s'more "Funny Animals".. I hope to get some of that stuff posted on here, later.
'Til next time, see ya!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Mighty THOR!

Okay.. Time again, to "Feed The Blog.." Damn, has it already been a whole week since I last fed this thing?!
Anywayz,-- here's an unfinished THOR sketch I'd been workin' on..

Marvel's THOR Essential Vol. 2 was easily one of my favorite purchases, of last year..
The 1st THOR Essential tpb was okay, too. But Vince Colletta's inking is a little harder to take, in that one. For whatever reason, his stuff just holds up a little better in Volume 2..

I couldn't resist drawing a Kirby-style THOR running along the Rainbow Bridge, with Asgard in the BG.. Lately, I've been doing a whole series of Kirby characters running, for some reason. I think it's probably just an unconscious attempt to try and analyze the dynamics of why I find Kirby's work so powerful? That whole "exploding off the Page" idea..
This sketch is obviously unfinished. And if you look hard enough, you can still spot where I've been second-guessing some of my creative decisions.. I guess I just got tired of fiddling with this one. So, I filed it away..

I thought it'd make a nice Post, just the same.. Enjoy!

Friday, February 9, 2007

Frazetta's 79th Birthday!!

That's right, True Believers.. The mighty Frank Frazetta turns a hearty 79 years old today! So take the time to say a little prayer, for his continued good health & happiness.. After all, the guy deserves a little respect for all of the great artwork he's sent our way, throughout his long & diverse career!
If you've got artist friends that still prefer a Boris Vallejo -- or heaven forbid: a Mike (Rip)Hoffman -- over The Main Man, himself?.. Slap 'em & tell 'em to their face, what dumbasses they be.. And then go out and find yourself a new batch of friends! heh

Just check out this asstastic.. er, I mean.. fantastic example of the man's handiwork.. Painting a selection of foxy Frazetta chicks for Harvey Kurtzman, as only 'The Living Legend' can!

I know most of you are probably much more familiar with Frazetta's fantasy art oil paintings?.. Maybe others of you, prefer his pen & ink illustration work? Yours Truly loves ALL of it, don't get me wrong.. But I do have a particular predeliction for Frazetta's comic-book art!
That's right.. COMIC-BOOK artwork, amigos!!
Many fans aren't even aware that Frank had a career as a comic-book artist.. Let alone, just how much of it, he's actually done!

About a year ago, I noticed some attention on Internet blogs, being focussed on Frazetta's prodigious "Funny Animal" catalog.. But beyond those lovely Text Illos,-- it's a rare day indeed, when I see someone post (or write) about the actual Story Art, found in those old-timey Golden Age books..

As a hardcore Frazetta fan,-- that's one of the things that has always bugged me.. That even the so-called "experts" tend to be completely dismissive of Frank's cartooning skills.. The oil paintings get all the Glory. And I guess, we should expect that. But the guy completely kicks ass when it comes to creating pure "cartoony" goodness, in his comic-book material!

For your perusal.. Check out the Title page, of this LOOIE LAZYBONES story; as it appeared in 'THRILLING COMICS' #68 [October 1948]:

Ain't that splash page, a beautifully designed thing?!.. The staging & composition, work so well together! And all of the character posing, reads exquisitely.. I'm also very impressed by the color work.. Even if the registration of the printing plates is a tad wonky,-- you've gotta admire those color-to-color skylines!
These LOOIE LAZYBONES stories were clearly bald-faced imitations of Al Capp's L'IL ABNER.. But the stories were done in the late 40's. And as far as I know, Frank only began working for Al Capp as a "ghost" artist after the JOHNNY COMET/ACE McCOY strip ran outta gas. That would put Frank's "Start" date at the Capp studio, around late '53 I think?.. Suffice to say,-- quite a bit after these LOOIE storylines originally saw publication!

Here's page 3 of the same story:

For all you Frazetta trivia buffs..
Note the foreground tree in panel 4 of page 3.. You'll see that Frank has depicted a carving into the trunk, which reads: "Fritz Loves Carol". This was the name of a dancer that Frank was dating at the time, before he met & (eventually) married Ellie!
Frazetta confessed that he grew to become obsessed with Female legs & calves, as a result of dating this "Carol" girl.. And you can witness examples of these (somewhat) muscular Female dancers' legs, in his 'PERSONAL LOVE' #28 romance story, entitled: "Empty Heart".

Okay, so this next one isn't an example of Frank's comic-book work.. But I couldn't resist posting it, anyhow. It's a watercolor rough, for Frazetta's memorable 'The High Side' oil painting! This prelim was up for bid, in one of the more-recent 'Heritage Auctions'..
Ain't she a beauty?! If only had the cash!

Thankfully, the lack of a reliable Frazetta comic-book compendium, will soon be addressed.. Arnie Fenner (publisher of the most-recent trilogy of Frazetta art books) made an announcement on the 'Frank Frazetta Art Forum' ..
If things go as planned,-- Underwood Books will be releasing the first 128-page collection of Frank's comic stories in: 'THE COMIC ART OF FRANK FRAZETTA' in the Fall of 2007!
There will be somecolor examples in the book, but the majority of the material, will be printed in black&white.. Much of it, made directly from negatives of the 'Original Art' pages. The current plan, is to do at least one initial Volume. With perhaps two more Volumes, in the future.

Thursday, February 8, 2007


Okay, I was gonna keep this hidden from public viewing.. But with Jim Smith's blessing, here it be! Both the pencilled & inked versions of the 1st Pass at CHESTACLESE..

Probably the biggest difference from the 2nd Pass,-- is that my initial take on it, was much more detail-oriented.. I added more muscletone, where there wasn't any featured in Jim's initial sketch. I guess I felt more free to add my own touches with the Battleaxe & the Lower Legs.. As they weren't even featured in Jim's drawing..
I've always enjoyed the way Berni Wrightson would add those bigass Tricep muscles to Arms.. So that's probably why I added that? I don't think the "feathered" inking works quite so well here, though..

I was sorting thru older Drawings.. when I dug up an older 'CHESTACLESE' sketch, that a guy named Marc (from Dorval, Quebec) had commissioned from me at a 2005 Toronto comic-book convention..
It freaks me out a little bit, how savage I drew him.. This is closer to the older model of 'CHESTACLESE' that Jim featured in his sketchbook, a few years back..

More of a crazed CONAN-esque barbarian/brigand? I like the way the Demon turned out here.. I think I must've been calling up imagery from that weird 70's-era Ernest Borgnine horror movie: "The Devil's Rain".. heh

Monday, February 5, 2007


Many moons ago,-- I worked as a Layout Artist on 'The RIPPING FRIENDS' cartoon series.. Overall, the experience was bittersweet. But one of my favorite memories from that show, was working with Spümco art director extraordinaire: Jim Smith; who worked in-house with us for a few short weeks.. Looking over his shoulder, watching him put the "Stinky Butt" episode storyboards together, was a bee-yoot-iful thing!

And if you haven't already heard the Good News: Jim Smith has also joined this here new-fangled Internuts contraption! Lots of terrific artwork to ogle.. And you can learn more about his latest 'CHESTACLESE' animation/comic-book project, by visiting either his Bloggywog or Website

Just recently, I'd helped Jim figger out a few of Blogger's finer Posting details. And he kindly offered to send me a "free" Drawing, as a token of his "Thanks!".. To which I counter-offered: "Hey, send me that Drawing.. And I'll send it back to you Inked!".. Before too long, he'd e-mailed me a 'Chestaclese' rough to work on.. And boy howdy,-- this was gonna be FUN!!

There were a few miscommunications along the way.. Which I blame mainly on trying to talk about Artistic approaches, solely thru e-mail? Sometimes the meaning & subtleties of what you're trying to actually say to someone, can get a bit muddied & skewed..
My initial inking attempts were overly-detailled. And I was beginning to lose the very "guts" of Jim's original sketches. But by my 2nd Pass on it, (I like to think that) I solved most of those shortcomings.

After I finished the inks.. I decided to throw some Color on it, too. It's mostly colored pencils, over a basecoat of light pantone markers. The BG was a definite cheat.. I sampled (what I imagined was) an appropriate/suitable Frazetta painting. Blurring it slightly, to soften the halftone printing dots..
I'll let the Frazetta fanatics, try and guess which painting it was! haha

Thanks for letting me take the old College try on this one, Jim.. I had lotsa fun.. And I hope you're satisfied with the results!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

LIZ RENAY Passes On..

Who the HELL is Liz Renay?.. And why would you care, Rich?!

Fair question. But close friends already know that I have a perverse preoccupation with the subject of 50's-era Burlesque/Striptease.. And though most of today's obits have highlighted Ms. Renay's erratic movie-acting career.. She began her ShowBiz career in the late 40's, as an Exotic Dancer named: Liz O'Leyar!

"Liz O'Leyar" was her stage name. But she was born Pearl Elizabeth Dobbins on April 14, 1926; in Chandler, Arizona. By all accounts, she was a Star Performer throughout most of the 1950's.. Appearing onstage, mainly in the NYC nightclubs along "Strip Alley", on notorious 52nd Street. Though she acted in many cult B-movies thru the 60's.. She would return to Striptease again in the mid-70's, headlining at many L.A. & Hollywood nightclubs & theatres.. Even performing (for a time) with her own daughter: Brenda!

By the sound of it, she led a pretty full & interesting life..
She was something of a serial nymphomaniac.. She married 7 times (Just like her Grandma!).. And wrote 3 books, one of which was entitled: 'My First 2,000 Men'.. A tell-all catalogue of her many sexual conquests?

Early on, she must've had a thing for "GoodFellas", too!
In 1958, the N.Y. State district attorney hauled Liz into court, for questioning.. Albert Anastasia, the leader of the 'Murder Incorporated' crime gang, was ruthlessly gunned down in a NYC barbershop.. By unfortunate coincidence, Ms. Renay just happened to be dating Anastasia's main bodyguard at the time: Anthony "Cappy" Coppola.

Throughout, she had also secretly been dating L.A.'s reputed mob kingpin: Mickey Cohen. Reportedly, she had been laundering some of Cohen's crime money, in NYC. By the early 60's, she'd been caught lying about these details under oath. Was convicted of Perjury. And served 27 months of a 3-Year term, at the 'Terminal Island' Federal Prison for women..

By the early 1980's, she'd finally retired from ShowBiz & moved to Las Vegas.. Where she died last Monday, at the age of 80.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


My good friend & fellow 'Original Art' collector: Bill Leach, is the Editor of his very own EC Comics 'zine.. It's entitled "HORROR From The CRYPT Of FEAR". And it's a neat little self-published book, that (I think) is still available from 'Bud Plant Books'..
I did a couple of illustrations for him, in the past.. And this was a half-finished Ink Sketch, I'd intended to contribute to his most-recent issue.. Unfortunately, I (again) missed his production deadline!
I liked the way the Sketch turned out, though.. And will probably revisit it & fix all the problems I now see in it.. Though I'm happy with the "GhouLunatics" figures.. The overall layout/composition is still looking a bit too crowded, for my tastes.
The 'zine features terrific articles about EC Comics history. And even showcases rare "unpublished" artwork, by those EC artists that're still around.. Unfortunately, with George Evans' recent passing.. that number seems to be in rapid decline.