Sunday, December 26, 2010

Last Call 2010: Boxing Day

Merry Christmas, for those of you who partake!

Today is Boxing Day, the traditional day for gift-giving in some countries. Santa made his deliveries to me yesterday, and a week-ago yesterday. Once again, he was overly charming.

Having bought my home recently, and it really coming together, many household items were looking really tired...some things I purchased right out of college and not long after. So it was mostly a very functional Christmas for me: coffeemaker, pots, potholders, dishtowels, sheets, a blanket, bike lock, reflector ankle straps. Not much "entertainment" or snacks, but enough to make me more than happy.

I came back to my place a bit early, to make sure it was ready to host my family's visit today. But the forecast is such that they are (wisely) postponing. It's already flurry-ing, and the snow wasn't due to arrive until this afternoon.

Ah well, they will have to wait to see my new floor another time.

I'm signing off the sketchblog 'til 2011. Cheers— and Happy New Year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Last Call 2010: Extraordinary Part II

I was just in NYC, and, as with my last few visits, can't seem to escape my memories of the past. They're cast so firmly in stone, I once thought they formed a prison—but for some time now, I see them as the foundation on which I stand.

Let's agree that 2010 was a tough year for me. The high-note it started on quickly turned. Overwhelmed by life-altering stresses, daily stresses, led me to make some sad choices as I buried some intense emotions.

Along the way, I bought my home, began fixing it up, began living a more balanced life (sorry fans, this means I am drawing a bit less ;-).

I'd never lost anyone really close to me before this year. So, my grandmother's passing opened some emotional floodgates, and I began to crawl out of my haze...too little, too late, for some.

But after months of self reflection, talking with those who know me best, a bit of therapy, and a strikingly meaningful trip to India, I feel a few rungs up the ladder, at least. And, this past weekend, I climbed a very important rung for me.

The outcome of the climb was hardly "joyous." I'd tried to not hold any preconceived ideas of what might happen, as the climb was as important as any tangible outcome could be.

As I walked away from it, the feeling hit me. For the first time in my life, I felt extraordinary. Not relative to anyone else; not in-comparison-to; not tempered with any realistic sense of my place in the universe. Just me, extraordinary.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last Call 2010: Extraordinary Part I

Last week, I went to my first rock concert in years. I can't even remember the last time I had to buy tickets from Ticketmaster. But I'd not been to an indie rock bar in some time. Even jazz bars can be a challenge, as excessively warm + loud = nausea + headache. And often, the to do list is such that I can't "afford" to kill the next day all groggy and stuff.

But 2010 has been a year of great transition for me, and I've been living a more balanced life between art, fixing up my loft, family & friends, and other experiences. Often, deliberately placing myself into situations which had been for some time automatic "no"s.

Enter Liz Phair, back on tour to, hrm, salvage her reputation, I think. I love her and her music. I love that she sold out so she could raise her kid, and I love that people criticize her for it. I love how she's evolved over the years, her music reflecting perfectly the stage of life she's in. I sheepishly admit I feel a little affinity as a writer/artist myself.

I thought her show would be heavily leaning on my new album (which is a mix between "great" and "what the—?!?"), but she started with "Supernova" and ended with "Fuck and Run" with everything good in between.

She was fun and funny, joking with the audience and her band. She took requests from people shouting out, and even hauled two scared girls on stage to sing backup on "Flower" which was amazing. In photos, she looks kinda harsh and bitchy, but in person, she was super cute and nice nice nice. Loved the lace stockings and spike heel suede fuck-me boots.

The Paradise was fairly not-warm, but it also helped that Sean and I stuck to the less-crowded balcony. And—sadly for Liz—it wasn't exactly a packed house. So I didn't feel physically sick, though the next day my ears were still ringing a bit and I was sluggish.

So, not something I'll be repeating weekly, but now and again, I am sure I will enjoy myself at a show for someone special.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Last Call 2010: Vomit

On my commute home, this little kid was leaning out of the car, puking into the bike lane. It wasn't going to stop anytime soon, so I veered around to the left of the car.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Last Call 2010: Leftie

Was working on some custom projects and one of my drafts of Ilyana box art...while I kinda liked it, (1) it didn't look enough like my custom and (2) she, um, has 2 left hands.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Might not be art week: Customego Teen Titans (Series I)

Mego action figures were popular when I was a boy, and very popular with me in particular. They were 8" and had fabric outfits and accessories. Let's face it, dolls for geeky boys.

I had nearly the whole line-up leftover from my childhood, but when eBay entered my life, the collection furthered. I also discovered the huge, strange world of customizing figures (taking parts and creating characters Mego never made, or making them better than Mego did).

From 1999-2001, I made nearly 200 customs! Yes, I learned to sew (hand- and machine- ) and I could sculpt parts, accessories, and some basic heads such as robots or the Golden Age Sandman). Often, I would sell off early versions on eBay when I my draft 2 or 3 turned out great. Ultimately, I sold off most of my customs, keeping only the "essential" characters, or characters I really loved.

Among the keepers were my Teen Titans. Mego's Titans were 7" and more "teen scale" compared to the rest of the line up. However, Mego's Robin was 8". I definitely prefer 8 inchers... and the parts were easier to come by. I made most of my Titans toward the end of my customizing career, so they were among my finest work.

However, last year between xmas and New Years, I decided to clean up the last of my shoddy work on Black Canary and the Titans. Here, they are posed and await visitors as they entered my apartment.

Mego figures int he early years came in boxes, which I like to protect and display in or out of the box. Making boxes is fun for me, as I can draw the characters—I can also take a lot of creative license with them, so they look more like my customs than they do in the comic books themselves (cheater).

My Titans boxes were actually really bad—let's agree the digital printing has come a long way in the past decade, as has my skills in production (as well as drawing!). While I redrew the figures while I was in Europe in early 2009, I never got around making new boxes until just recently.

Jumping back into customizing is a bit frustrating...what poor sewing skills I had are gone...and even box making is a new challenge. I could only find super lightweight posterboard or super heavy weight for the box backing (you spray mount the color printouts to the posterboard). I totally forgot that medium weight is best...b/c heavy weight cracks when you fold it. So, these boxes, around the edges, the cracking posterbard has pulled apart the the color printouts. From a distance, it looks like the boxes are well worn from childhood play.

At first, I was irritated, but then I thought, (1) they are vastly better than the first set I made 10 years ago, and (2) Who really cares?!?

And yes, as the post title suggests, there is a Series II of Customego Titans figures. And, uh, yes, a Series III (yes, dork).

For more info check:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Might not be art week: H&B modulars

Here's another furniture project via the MIT Furniture Exchange.

As you know, I have lots and lots of books—inventory, rather. So I have been collecting storage furniture for my closet-less artist loft. Enter 4 pieces of labelled Heim & Buch modular cabinets from the '60s: two cabinets (missing the sliding doors) with two bookshelves. Modular furniture is nice, because you can keep using if your needs and space changes.

One cabinet had both shelves and some shelf holders; the other had no shelves, no shelf holders. My dad made me two shelves and I bought some shelf holders. Working with euro furniture can be a challenge, as most of what you buy @ Home Depot in way of parts (shelf holders, bolts, etc) isn't metric. And I lack the patience to wait for special orders.

He also made sliding doors for me, which I covered with a faux pigskin, and added these nice pulls that came from Italy. The tracks are very narrow and close...I think the original doors may have been glass (also b/c the inside of the cabinets are very nicely finished). So the doors—while functional—are not the easiest to use. That's Ok, as these are meant to hold inventory I don't access often.

Each cabinet holds 8-9 cases of books!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Might not be art week: LP cabinet

Moving in to a loft with no closets and very few walls (in lieu of the benefit of 25 windows!) has been a fun challenge. I've haunted thrift stores, eBay, Craigslist, and the MIT Furniture Exchange for decent or repairable storage furniture.

When I first moved in, the only piece of art I hung was my vintage Farrah Fawcett poster—perfect for hiding the fuse box. Of course, the fuse box can't be blocked by a large piece of furniture or it must be easily accessible. So, Farrah serves a practical purpose.

But the set up left an awkward little space, and in need of evening light. Enter my sister's $5 find at the Goodwill. Took me a while to figure out what this was: someone had installed a horizontal shelf...but the base of the piece was riddled with holes. Then it hit me: the holes likely had vertical dividers, as the cabinet is exactly perfectly sized for holding 33 RPM LPs.

I painted over the cheap and ugly veneer with the same color as my radiators, so it works really nicely in my space. I covered the doors with blue burlap for some texture and color. On top is the blue and white glass shade lamp I've had forever, which ties the blue in and casts a fun pattern on the wall—but not so high as to hit Farrah with the pattern.

Lastly, I replaced the awful plastic door pulls with some really fun vintage mid-century pulls I had kicking around.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Things I Drew For Other People Week: Excalibur

Here's a long-time coming ditty. Was tough to get my hands around...I've drawn Nightcrawler plenty, and some Kitty, but otherwise pretty unfamiliar with the UK super-team Excalibur.

They're pretty funny...Kitty wearing that super-baggy jacket and boots; another version of Phoenix whose dykes-on-bikes mullet transforms into a flaming mohawk when she dons her S&M/dominatrix gear; Captain Britain, whose costume I admit was a challenge for me to draw; the captain's lover Megan, with her bare feet; plus Nightcrawler. Add in Lockheed the dragon, and there you go.

I only thumbed through some of the old comics to study up on their enemies, the Warwolves, which were the villains in my Northstar story earlier this year. Alan Davis' art is yummy, for sure.

I drew this during the summer, one of the first things drawn on my new (used) drafting table. Love the line weights. Just finished coloring on Painter.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Things I Drew For Other People Week: Northstar

Since I drew the Northstar story in Nation X, I've been asked to draw Northstar a number of times—both in the actual books, as well as commissioned pieces.

I mentioned sweetheart Suzene earlier—I really couldn't refuse when she asked me to draw Northstar "as naughty as [I] would be willing."

Naughty art is a rarity for me, as I am less skilled in drawing certain anatomy, and it really should be saved for more "special moments."

So, I went down the humor pathway here, with Nstar's BF Kyle swiping the uniform off his partner as he flies by, leaving the hero in his birthday suit.

The character of Northstar is Quebecois, so I thank Adam for his inspiration here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Things I Drew For Other People Week: Long Live the Legion!

With the Legion of Super-Heroes' strong gay following, I get asked to draw Legionnaires frequently at cons. Sadly, I don't have photos or scans of most of them. If you have one—particularly the Cosmic Boy or Tyroc—email me!

Just after I did a REALLY nice Ultra-Boy at Comic Con 2006, my pal Andy Swist asked me to draw (I think; again, fuzzy memory) the Legionnaire of my choice. I dunno...whether it was my choice or his, I drew Matter-Eater Lad.

The original was a bit off center on the page, and therefore missing a foot. Andy cleverly added the "chomp marks" when he colored it, to compensate for the lack of foot. Love it!

Please don't accuse me of any Liefeld action—I CAN draw feet!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Things I Drew For Other People Week: Fan Creations!

I love it when I am asked to draw the creations of fans! These are both from Comic Con International in San Diego, 2007. Sometimes I forget, but I try to take photos, or beg scans from the people who have hired me on to execute their vision.

The first image is of a sexy kind of androgenous (as I tried) couple created by my lovely fan Suzene. I'm sorry, I don't recall their names!

The next drawing is of the heroic gay couple Dulcet and Caterwaul. My memory is fuzzy, but I think they were created as a vocabulary teaching thing, and were since gayed-up. I just LOVE their uniforms and symbols. I took some artistic license with Caterwaul, exposing his thighs. The creator like that, and I believe was going to incorporate it into the character design moving forward.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Things I Drew For Other People Week: Kitty Pryde

Welcome to "Things I drew for other people" week!

I was attempting my quarterly back up of my files to my external hard drive, which is now full. So, I scanned through my folders, looking for duplicate files or what-not that I might be able to purge and find some extra space. No luck, but I did find some old gems that I either forgot about or never shared as they were made specifically for other people. I will now share!

There will be some gift art, some actual commissions, but all stuff I don't think you've seen before. I'll start with some Kitty Pryde art.

My primary exposure to Kitty was in the X-Men/New Teen Titans cross-over from the '80s, where she appeared in an X-Men training uniform. I was only minimally conscious of X-Men, Excalibur, New Mutants, as I was a fan X-Factor during the Simonson run. During this period, she wore a near-ridiculous outfit. A super-baggy jacket, and—I'm not sure how this is even possible, except in the '80s—super baggy BOOTS.

For Shadowcat fan Matt, I really toned down the bagginess. I printed the dot pattern onto the original page, and inked the figure over it. I wasn't quite pleased w the result, but I do like that the dots are on the page and suitable for framing.

Months later, Kitty on the brain, I drew Kitty in her training uniform, as I was gearing up to draw my Northstar story in Nation X.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pool boy

I was recently playing pool with some new pals at Diesel. At the table next to use arrived 6 Italian teenagers (MAYBE college kids). Three girls, three boys, all gesticulating wildly. One of the boys had to give the girls a lesson, and it was cute to see them lined up, thrusting the cues in unison.

One boy was kinda ugly, one was Ok and had a big Dolce and Gabbana belt buckle holding his pants up slung so low, I have no idea how they actually stayed up. The third was the cutest, tallest and most wirey, and had long shaggy hair. He was funny to watch.

They all had matching tiny binders, maybe photo album/scrap-book things. They were signing and swapping them while they took turns playing pool.

Their chaperone stuck to the counter read a book or something.

Otherwise, I had a fun time playing a game I am not terribly good at. I didn't scratch once, and sunk a few balls, including the 8 on my first game, thus winning for me and my partner.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

If you love the Teen Titans... may or may not like The New Mutants, depending on whether or not you are a DC or Marvel fan, whether you like the X-Men lineup, etc. etc. etc.

Here's a study of some of the characters from my sketchbook. I know a "commission" I had done some time ago, which I posted here, and was passed around the internet freely, probably has more musings on them.

Lately, I turned to them to add to my standard repetoire in my sketchbook. Yes, I typically prefer DC fare, and the Teen Titans, Wonder Woman, the Batman Family, etc. are my staples.

But don't forget—my Marvel "breakthrough" was a Cannonball story, and I did insist on including the original line-up of the New Mutants in a panel of my Northstar story.

I have a few more in my sketchbook, and love Indian-ing up Dani Moonstar. I guess I have the bear story stuck in my head. Since my last New Mutants post, I read many issues of the original series. The stories were ok, the art, amazing. Overall, a great read.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Open Studios Report

You may recall I—after years of dodging commitment—I bought a live/work loft in an artist building this spring.

Annually, the building holds an open studios event, and I participated. I was on the fence about it, as it's pretty personal to open up your home to strangers. And while I am used to exhibiting at comic book conventions, exhibiting in a space where there may not be any fans of the genre, among many of my amazing neighbors, is really putting yourself out there.

But, it was great to meet many of my neighbors, art lovers, and some new friends. Aggie did really well, and she even let some children pet her.

It was only slightly awkward, at times, with nothing to do (you couldn't really get involved in anything, and there were definitely moments where no one came into my space). But I sketched here and there, including this monster collage.

Oh—my favorite comments were from some lookie-loos more interested in my apartment than my art:
  • "Can we take a look around?" the man in his early '60s asked, nodding to the area of my loft sectioned off from visitors. "The art's all right here," I replied warmly. The man and his wife scanned the area for a moment and left.
  • "OH. I guess we're not invited to see the whole place," another man loudly declared to his wife. And, without even pretending to look at the art, spun around and left.
Other than that, most people were lovely.

I was a bit curious as to who might randomly show up at my place, since it was a public event, the building doors were open, and I had advertised on FB etc. But, aside from Miriam and Craig & Jon, no real surprises.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Homeward bound

The last days of my trip were more "business"y and no tourism.

Making my way back to Delhi, I captured just a few interesting sites in transit. I loved that old guy with the wizard-y. But the more I thought about him, the more disappointed I became, as I know in my heart he was not a wizard.

On the 3rd, I began my long trek home. I was eager to be home, and eager to leave India. I was very eager to see Aggie, wear some clean underwear, and sleep in my own bed.

But I was not eager to leave behind the special feeling the trip had produced; and anxious that the sense of calm (despite the intensity of the trip) that had developed within me would be chipped away by personal life and loss, my job and financial stresses.

En route home, one of the offerings of in-flight entertainment was Dead Poets Society, which I had not seen since I was in college. It was fascinating, the new light in which I viewed it. When it was new (and I was young), I'd not had associated myself or my headspace with any of the characters. But with my journey opening my mind, I could totally see myself in the Ethan Hawke character, walled off and quiet. In high school, I thought or actual spoke a good half the character's lines. One scene in particular stuck, when the Ethan Hawke character was defending himself to the Rob't Sean Leonard character, whose flirtatious refusal resulted in some dorm-room cavorting. The moment was very similar to Matt's refusal to accept my own walled-off behavior, so it was easy to imagine us each as teens in that conversation from the film.

You'll be pleased to know that the experiences, feelings, and calm have lasted with me on my return, despite some stressful situations. The trip, in every way, added to my "journey." Yay!

Monday, November 22, 2010

All Saints Day on the Ganges

I doubt the tour guide had this in mind, but it was pretty perfect to be on the river watching the cremation and Aarti ceremonies at night on Halloween, and then sunrise on the Ganges the next morning, All Saints Day.

After an early wake up call and retracing our steps down the river, we loaded into our boat and rowed up river, observing the people bathing in the Ganges, and doing their laundry.

Across the river we could see pilgrims making there way to Varanasi—in my drawing they look more like trees than people.

It was then that some of us participated in making offerings to the gods with the leaf boat-with-lit-candles. We were told to make the offering in someone's name and make a wish to ourselves, while leaning over the boat and say aloud a request of Lord Shiva to grant the wish. I wrote it for you phonetically [sic].

Care to guess the nature of my offering and wish? It's not against the rules!

A busy, busy day ended in busy, busy traffic that stopped dead for an hour and a half. The jam was caused by the fact that they were literally paving the road as we went. It was really frustrating, until we started clowning around on the bus and the mood went from cranky to zany.

This was my last day of really meaningful experiences as I had to turn back to "business" but what a day it was! Adding to the evening before, this 24 hour span ranks among the most meaningful of my entire life. I will carry this feeling with me for a long, long time.

UPDATE: A little creative Googling leads me to the more helpful explanation of
"Om Namah Shivaya" or "I bow to Shiva."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Halloween on the Ganges

Hardly creepy, but sort of dark evening excursion on the religiously significant Ganges River.

Another rickshaw ride brought us to the bazaar that leads to the steps (or"gahts") of the Ganges River. We boarded a rickety boat and rowed down river and saw a cremation site. Family members are responsible for the preparation and actual cremation of their loved ones. Rowing back up river, the water was twinkling with candles floating in tiny leaf-boats. These are offerings to the gods.

If the experience wasn't moving enough, we arrived in time for the nightly Aarti ceremony, a "thanksgiving" ceremony of sorts. In my little sketchbook, I began jotting down the layer on layer of sounds I heard, as well as the various aspects of the ceremony. I stopped, shut my eyes, absorbed in the sounds. I opened them to the light, smoke, flames, and color of the ceremony—suddenly, the "short list" of the things I am most thankful for in life jumped into my head, in an order I'd never thought of things before.

For simple "tourist excursions," and not deeply invested in Hinduism, I am still in aw at how powerful and meaningful these moments were to me.

How did you spend your Halloween? ;-)

Friday, November 19, 2010


In addition to all the meaningful moments in temples, shrines, mosques, and tombs, the particular timing of the trip produced meaningful reflections, and I further actively pondered life.

The trip had a very "bookend"ing feel for me.

Three years ago, November 2007, I journeyed to Ireland as a symbolic way to purge a lot of negative feelings and bad memories out of my system. They were fading on their own, to be sure, but the escape and placing myself in new surrounds was very cathartic.

On that trip, I began reading Vanity Fair. The novel had nothing to do with anything I was going through, it was simply a novel I wanted to read. While I made good progress during the Irish Escapade, I put the book down when I returned home. I picked it up here and there, amidst working on Love is the Reason and Trust/Truth, etc.

Nearly 3 years to the day, I finished reading the novel during my Indian Escapade. As Fish-philes know, I've been on an emotional journey the past months. This journey inevitably was leading me to improvement to the point that I knew going in, the trip to India would be as cathartic for me now, as the Ireland trip was in 2007. As circumstances begin to be accepted and hearts reclaimed, the symbolism of this trip and the conclusion of the book mirrors the Irish experience in a meaningful (to me) way as a bookend.

Further, the India trip followed—by days—New York Comic Con. My recent association of the heart essentially began at NYCC 2009 and ended NYCC 2010, adding to the bookend feeling of my time in India.

That night (or morning) I dreamed of Matthew. In reality, he was working at an out-of-town event toward the end of my own trip. In my dream, he was in Boston on my return, though would not own it was due to me. In the dream, his hair was shorter than when we first met but shaggier than when I last saw him; and he wore the outfit depicted in my sketch. He offered to pay for our cab, but only had fake money with faces of drag queens on the bills. I asked, "what is this money?" and he replied, "oh—it's the event I am running." Confused, I inquired as to what sort of event was it?—but then woke up.

The drawing of Miss Becky Sharp is a Tim Fish-ified rendition of the paperback edition's cover. I'd never be able to draw a mirror shot like that on my own...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kama Sutra

The 80+ temples at Khajuraho are mostly gone today—only 20 or so remain.

Those 20 had been overgrown by the forest, which actually served to preserve them almost perfectly...just waiting centuries for the British to find them.

The carvings on the temple exterior depict the soldiers' life, the daily life, the sexual life (the kama sutra) and the gods' life.

The old men in the group were taking photo after photo... and one of their wives (a real spitfire and a bit of a trophy wife) said, "if you haven't figured it out by now, guys, you're out of luck."

Orgies, masturbation, beastiality...nothing was out of bounds for these temples.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Eat me

I think you can read my "journal" entry on the sketch page, inspired by my time at the Khajuraho temples.

It was really funny, how I was just admiring the carvings on the temples, and suddenly, my mind jumped to the place it did (as described on the page).

Never have I experienced so much uninhibited self-reflection as I did in India. Something in the water, probably...

Since it so happened to live next to a sketch of Storm and Kitty Pryde, I went ahead and included that for you, as well.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Laundry day

My talent for remaining distant and aloof came in handy on the trip, navigating the sea of beggars and hockers selling their wares. But in Khajuraho, I failed! These hockers were hilarious. They called me on the fact that I was youngest in my group and therefore must have been the group leader; and not responding to them (unlike the people in the group) only reinforced their suspicions. I couldn't help but crack a smile as they summed up the situation, which only made things worse. As bad as these guys were, the only stressful time with the group was while we were in Varanasi. It was crazy-crowded and the hockers and beggars were crazy-aggressive, grabbing at us.

As part of the trip, we visited 3 schools. The public school rooms were just depressing. No chairs or desks, mystery liquid pooling on the floor, flies. The school was half-empty this day, as it was innoculation day, causing half the children to flee (or so we were told). I spoke with this quartet of little boys about their school and what they were learning. When it was time for us to go, the quartet leaped up to their feet and "namaste"d us on our way. It was really cute.

The final image is of a fellow doing laundry. I observed most women in India dressed traditional "Indian" but most men seemed to dress quite "western." Rarely, we saw men dressed traditionally "Indian," and this fellow was one. His wrap was kind of droopy, and one could see his underwear band.

As for my laundry, I was washing my socks, undies, and T-shirts in the hotel sink with some shampoo. I was so glad arriving home to take a super hot shower and put on machine-washed undies.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Taj tourism

I could have spent a whole day at the Taj Mahal, the world's greatest monument to "love." But, I had 2 hours at sunsrise.

During the group's mini lecture, I learned it was built as a tomb for a ruler's beloved. Check, off on my merry way to explore and try to have a meaningful reflective experience before the place was over-run with tourists.

I quickly walked in and around, observing the light and how it changed as the sun rose. I was able to consider love and loss and how I may live my life more fully.

But as more tourists arrived, I snapped a few photos, and found a quiet spot to sit sketch the building. I need not post that here...there are much finer drawing and photos of the Taj, just buy a book. The people watching,

My favorite was the late-20s Aussie tourist guy who was really into it...baggy pants and head-wrap with a middle eastern flair. As he squatted for a better camera angle, his pants seam split, revealing a charming lack of undies. After he took the photo, he examined closely the extent of the tear—it was significant. No hiding that, though he managed by repositioning his backpack, as I later saw him.

Most annoying tourist photo winner is person pretending to hold the Taj like a Christmas ornament. Everyone was doing it...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Indian skies

Leaving Ranthambor, a sad sight was to be seen. A tiny monkey had been run over by a car. On the wall near the road sat a group of 4-5 monkeys, looking very sad. They were definitely mourning. A stark contrast to the deer herd which basically scampered off after the baby deer was snared by the tiger.

We transferred to a tourist "camp" very deep into farm country. On one hand it was kinda lame, on the other they brought in some folk dancers who were so into it, so lively, so good.

From there, we camel-rode (ok, ok...cheesy tourist-y thing to do, but it was actually more comfortable than the camel-driven carts...) to a village of 60 people even deeper into farm country. They had water, and one hazardous electrical wire for a lightbulb. Otherwise, they lived as they had for the past hundred years. Despite that, the people were friendly, happy. They managed their trash better than the people in Dehli.

That night, I sat for a spell in the camp's courtyard, enjoying the total stillness of the night, and the full (or nearly full) moon in the clear Indian sky. I thought to myself, "when will I ever experience this again?" and took full advantage. The moment was so definitive and beautiful, I later began re-thinking on my stance on enjoying the country and the outdoors domestically. I mean, we have outdoor spots locally I could enjoy. I am long over the anxiety of growing up in a small town, so I think it's time to seek out opportunities to spend some meaningful time in the outdoors and the country here.

The next day we were in Agra, and headed to Agra Fort for our first glimpse of the Taj. It was lovely, but what really got me here is the shower in the hotel room. Entering the bathroom, it was glass-faced. No big deal, I know. But a switch raised a screen, revealing the wall between the shower and the sleeping area was actually glass. So, one could be showering and looking out at the view. Or, someone could be sitting on the chairs or on the bed, watching me shower. I could only imagine one person who would be so into THAT.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tiger time!

From Jaipur we made our way south to the Ranthambor National Park and tiger preserve. Pop culture followers will note that I was at Ranthambor at the same time Katy Perry married Russell Brand there. Added excitement! No, I did not see either of them.

The lodge we stayed at was beautiful, comfortable, spacious, and QUIET. This was a much-needed stop after so much bustle. I took some time to sit in the swing chairs staring at the moon after our first tiger safari.

On the first safari, I saw no tiger. But, I enjoyed the drive through the park, which provided majestic vistas and cozy nooks. I drew the sketch to the left as we sat and waited for a tiger. The drive through the wooded trails reminded me of a recurring Speed Buggy dream I had for many years. In the dream, I was stranded on an island with Speed Buggy, and we would be driving through wooded hilly trails getting from place to place. There weren't any wacky villains or anything. Strange that this place would remind me so much of my dream.

On the final safari, we saw a tiger for about a minute, as he milled about and disappeared.

But the second safari—OMG. We followed this tigress for 45 minutes. At first, she walked about leisurely, and stopped to yawn and lick her paws. Then disappeared into the brush. We'd have been thrilled with THAT. But suddenly, a solitary deer was freaking out, stomping her feet, inching closer to where we thought the tiger had disappeared to. She ran off, and in a moment, the whole herd returned, several getting dangerously close to the tiger. Repositioning the jeep, it became clear what was going on. The tigress has snared a baby deer, just a day old, and was playing with it as I've seen a housecat toying with a trapped mouse. The herd was stomping furiously, trying to draw the tigress away from the baby deer, to no avail. The baby let out a few meeps, and tried to escape, in vain. We then saw the tigress walking away from the area, baby deer in her mouth, legs kicking. As she walked toward us, the kicking stopped. She walked right past the jeep and disappeared into the shrub again. Within a minute or so, the heard ran off, and a minute later, the baby's mother did as well.

It was thrilling—and not as sad as I'd expected. I mean, if the tiger didn't do that, it would die. The herd would overpopulate and starve after the grass was gone. Our guide was ECSTATIC—in his 15 years as guide, it was only the second kill he'd witnessed.

My fellow jeep-ers got some AMAZING photos of the event and the tiger, which they've shared. I didn't bother with my little camera, but did get a few of me with the tiger in the background.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Free time?—Nope.

After the long travel day, and 4 full days of tourism, day 6 made me a little eager for some free time.

I had noticed amidst the Vodafone stores and the chewing tabacco stands stood out a Pepe Jeans! Pepe works very well for me, and are common enough in Europe, but have not had a presence in the US marketplace for a decade or more.

So I was really looking forward to the bit of free time I had in the afternoon. I planned out how to get to the store and how to get back. Sadly, as with most days, the traffic congestion ate into our free time, leaving us with lots of time on the tour bus, and just enough to run into the hotel and grab a snack before getting back on the tour bus. It was frustrating, but not excessively so...after all, my main purpose on the trip was for work and not for myself.

The next page illustrates the trend—which I knew of in middle eastern countries, but I hadn't thought of it in India—of straight men to show PDA for their good friends. It was quite common to see young men walking hand in hand or arm & arm, or one arm around the other, etc. These men, by and large, I did not believe to be gay. I did see plenty of gays though, as evidenced by their flirtations with me, or their physical reactions to their best friend (managed to get an interesting photo or two on THAT subject...).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rules of the Road

We left Dehli, passing the temples and moments, burn piles and trash heaps, amidst the smog and horrific traffic. The highway transported trucks to cars 10:1, alongside camel-drawn carts, livestock, freely-roaming cows, taxis, bicycles, and PEDESTRIANS.

The roads to Jaipur were packed and sloooow. The bus drivers (buses and trucks have a driver, and assistant driver who leans out the window to make sure the bus can fit through the space attempted) did a great job, but still it was rather stressful as passenger. The rough roads, the stop and go traffic, and the HONKING. Most large vehicles are painted with "Horn please" to encourage honking—it's the norm to alert other objects on the road you are passing or nearby. It is constant.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire to get up to the Samode Palace. I thought the roads had been washed out, with its deep ditches causing a bumpier than bumpy ride, almost flipping the bus at one point. But indeed no, the roads were in normal condition I was told.

The next day, my head cold was in awkward full force, and I was excusing myself often to blow my nose. It finally subsided by the time we reached Varanasi (the last days of the trip). An early start so that we could engage in a cheesy tourist opportunity to ride elephants up to a fort. The elephant I was on left in the middle of the pack, but we arrived last...and a good deal after the others. The poor girl must have been quite old, as I am not the heaviest of fellows. It made me sad, both to trouble the poor creature, and to be engaged in something so...circus. I know the maha rajas used to ride them...but for us as felt more carnival than royalty.

Later, en route to a bazaar, rickshaw ride #2...this time, on Jaipur's seemingly busiest roads, navigating round-abouts between buses, trucks, taxis. This time was not fun, and definitely nerve-wracking. We stopped at the bazaar long enough to be bored but not long enough to really explore. It was getting sketchy as it got dark.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tour Bus Safari

Dehli was a bit of an overwhelming whirlwind. It took me some time to figure out my feelings, but ultimately, I felt a bit like we were on safari, observing the locals from the bus, snapping our cameras at the poverty and conditions.

The traffic was really congested for the bus to easily maneuver, so it very much felt like we spent a lot of time ON THE BUS with quick stops at Old Dehli (with a kinda fun bicycle rickshaw ride), the Ghandi memorial, mosques, shrines, temples, forts.

The animals were a distrubing site for me. The dogs and cows, living on their own by eating garbage, slowly starving to death was very sad for me. Of course, the multitude of deformed people were also strikingly sad. I am a bit surprised that people, animals, trees, can live in the kind of pollution Dehli has.

The symbols all over northern India—lotus, om, swasticka (actually an ancient Hindu symbol of life and strenght, commandeered by the Nazis) , and the bell, particularly adorned the temples. At the Birla Temple, I learned about Lord Ganeesha, the god of luck. He rides a mouse, and we take away that we should never let those beneath us feel our weight. Nice.

I enjoyed my brief time at a Sikh temple, and I took the opportunity to sit with the faithful as they prayed, and I contemplated life as I listened to the music, my eyes roaming about the temple.

Monday, November 8, 2010

!ncredible !ndia

Such an amazing experience!

Despite overwhelming poverty, lack of infrastructure, pollution, and worse, the natural beauty, the friendliness of the people, the historic treasures, and the spirituality of the country made India a trip to remember. While this was a trip for my day job, it dovetailed beautifully with my personal "journey" of self reflection and improvement. Between the hours in transit, to the temples, to the moments in nature, there was ample time for thinking. And, I looked for myself in every opportunity, from the temple sculptures to the inflight entertainment.

As usual, I dreaded the start of this trip. Three weeks is a long time...a long time to be away from home, my dog, my family and friends, from my job. Matt graciously put me in touch with his sister, who had been to Nepal and India. Her enthusiasm was indeed comforting.

During my first layover, I "discovered" Ingrid Michaelson via her song "Be Ok," which struck a chord with me. It's a simple ditty, but stuck with me the whole trip. I freely admit I am enjoying "feeling" lately, which seems to be the theme of the song.

Arriving in smoggy, humid Dehli after roughly 24 hours in transit was a strange feeling. The next several days were rough, acclimating to the culture and climate. As you read my blog entries, you'll notice they become more involved as the trip progresses. The early moments were difficult to capture in both feeling and content. But, as the trip continued, I felt more a part of it, and the sketches were flowing freely.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New York Comic Con Report

This past weekend was NYCC, bigger and better than ever. The Javitz Center construction allowed for the expansion of small press and artist alley with some elbow room, as well as all the anime stuff in the lower levels.

Last year, I sold out around 2 PM on the third (last) day of the show. This year, I brought slightly more inventory. This made me nervous as the book market is so soft. Long story short, I basically sold out in the last 30 minutes of the show. Left with only a few books in tow.

I got to hang out with my usual NYC comics pals, and a special treat to see my Toronto comics pals, and even a west coaster, too.

Friday night, I made it into the DC Comics freelancers party, which was so much fun. I ran into Jen Van Meter who was excited about her HOPELESS SAVAGES collection, which the story we worked on together was in. Afterward, we went to some straight-bar-upstairs but gay-bar-downstairs place nearby.

Saturday morning, it was crazy. teenagers dressed in anime garb EVERYWHERE. I was kinda discouraged because no one was buying for the first 3 + hours of the show. Then suddenly, MADHOUSE sales. Tim Piotrowski and I kept haunting the Marvel booth too, to try to get on the list for the Marvel freelancers party (since we actually have freelanced for Marvel...) to no avail. Also stopped by to see Jen at the Oni booth and got a copy of the collection. It looks GREAT. On the way back, inadvertently did some networking, nice.

Back at the booth, after selling a Northstar sketch, there was an impromptu dramatic reading of my story, "The Vomiteer" which was hilarious. Then on to the LGBT comics panel with Howard Cruse, Abby Denson, Joan Hilty, Phil Jimenez, Dan Parent, and Tim Piotrowski. Jeff Krell did a great job moderating. It was jam-packing, SRO, and they turned away a lot of people at the door. Good signs for getting bigger space next year.

On Sunday, sales were sluggish the morning (expected) but got crazy by the afternoon. Along the way, dear Matthew stopped by and we had the opp to walk around the show together a bit. While he explored solo, Dennis demanded a sketch from me on his iPad's sketch program. It was tough to use!—not used to my finger as stylus. But the image attached is the result. The image is meant to be Matt, looking sad, nervous, wistful maybe, and of course cute. The brown splotches represent him (his eyes) and the blue splotches represent me (my eyes). The title of the piece is "what a fucked up mess" which sums things up.

After a crazy busy end to the show, we broke down and loaded up the rented van to get everything back to Tim's place. Then, we all ran out of steam. So tired. After an easy start to my Monday, I Bolt Bussed back to Boston last night. YAY NYCC!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Steamy bus rides

Lately, it's been raining a lot. even still, I've managed to bike most days to work. Once last week, and also today, I was forced onto the CT2.

The buses are more crowded in the rain, run more slowly, and get, hrm, steamy, to be most polite.

Last week, a very frustrated boy with looong curly hair was standing next to me and out of anger or whatever exhaled very forcefully right into my face.

He was nice enough to apologize, but it still wasn't pleasant.

Also pictured are a few doodles of my grandmother. And a character design doodle for a not-so-attractive fellow. Nice weak chin, big horse teeth, large upper lip, droopy eyes...ha.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

R.I.P. Naughty Dottie

Today, we spread my grandmother's ashes.

Ok, ok, not really, that's against NH state law. But we did have a small gathering around her headstone, said a few words, and her ashes were buried after we left.

She passed away in May, after diagnosed as terminally ill last fall. I knew what this meant logically, of course, but she was the first person close to me I've lost, so I wasn't prepared for what that really meant.

I visited often in her last 6 months, and a week or so before she passed away, on my last visit up north, it hit me. We knew she was slipping, and she was very frail and weak. As it was time for me to go, she engaged me in conversation which she was barely able to do for the day or so prior. She lifted her arms on her own—another feat—to hug me good-bye and said, "I'll miss you," which is exactly when I lost it.

The following weeks were difficult, as I got together with my family, each dealing with grief differently. But also, it would hit me at random times and I would start welling up.

Today, I hadn't expected more of the same exactly. My sister spoke first, and I think I was choking up before she began. She gave a lovely little speech about how fun our grandmother was. Then it was my turn; I could barely get out the few things I wanted to say. Such a delicate flower.

My grandmother was a remarkable lady. Her parents divorced when she was young, and her mother remarried, but passed away just a few years later. Her step-father didn't think it worth the hassle to send a girl to school, so my grandmother waited tables and cared for the cafe owners' daughter for room and board to support herself through high school. The war broke out, and she was off to DC to work for the War Department, typing a general's letters in triplicate in the Pentagon. She was actually retained after the war ended, when most girls were sent home. She married my grandfather and moved to his family farm, where they struggled to keep it going while she worked various jobs. My grandfather passed away 2 months before I was born, and she began a new life as a young widow.

But throughout the hardships, she loved to laugh. When I started sketching her, looking at old photos, it's almost impossible to find any where she isn't laughing. She used to regale me and my sister with her stories of cheating on algebra exams, outrunning a police cruiser, and other probably exaggerated-for-us behavior. And I'll never forget a wedding we were all attending where John Denver was a guest and sang a few songs. My grandmother forced her way up on the stage to sing backup for him. She was a can-do lady (albeit a bit "country") who could make anything happen—and yet she never seemed pushy.

She was sweet, and funny, and loved to have a good time. I think I was too serious for her as I grew older. But when I came out, she was supportive of me, at the expense of some other close relationships she had. She wouldn't have wanted me to go on to her about it, about how much it meant to me, so I never did. I know she knew.

I wasn't sure what memory to sketch of her, so I went with her off to DC. It's her intrepid spirit, and tenacity that has inspired me most in my life. Next, I'll try to laugh like she did.

I'll miss her.

Monday, September 20, 2010


You may recall that I am an Austen fan, and have a thing for well-spoken men in tails.

I've toyed with the idea of an Austen-era gay romance story, and have several scenes and conversations planned out. That's where the journey had stalled out until my recent work with Greg on a sci-fi buddy pitch inspired me to envision a transition of my story to steampunk!

Here's how it goes...intro, flirtations, sexual tension, more sexual tension, and whiz, it's more than you thought. It's a sci-fi story wrapped up in Victorian-era imagery with lots of gay undertones.

The story I am working on with Greg is more of a buddy thing, set in the future, and while there is some serious male bonding between the two principles, they are both so self-aware and living in an anything-goes age, I just don't see any sexual tension.

Once our mini comic is complete and we pitch it around, I will share some details here. Until then, enjoy some steampunk inspired sketches.

Monday, September 13, 2010

2011: The Age of Arche—REDUX

At the recent Small Press Expo, I was talking future comics projects with Greg Lockard and Monica Gallagher. While admitting I had nothing big on the horizon, I noted 2011 will be the 20th anniversary of my
Arché-Lady comic. Monica said, “your what comic?” Greg was dumbfounded she didn’t know about the campy character that dominated my output for a full decade…100 episodes worth (plus specials and more) totaling over 1000 pages.


My dear friend Miriam received a pair of shoes for her birthday, which looked like super-hero booties. She asked me to draw a thank you card, and that’s how the character was born (this card later became the first “special”). Initially in 1991, I launched Arché-Lady as a story arc in my mini-comics anthology Ten Minute Cartoons. But in January 1993, she busted into her own series, The New Adventures of Arché-Lady and Astro-Boy. The stories were brief, and light on plot, mostly designed as a series of inside jokes for my friends. But still, I launched story lines with a specific end in mind, thinking, if I stick with this, I’ll wrap it up like so in #100. Queue laugh-tracks. As the stories grew in scale and scope, I changed direction and retitled the series The Adventures of Arché-Lady with episode 51 in 1995. The series was never my “portfolio” work until the late ‘90s when I started to place real effort on both story and art. From episode 76-99, the caliber of each page leaped forward. After a hiatus—and crafting my “I want to take comics really seriously” plan in 2000—my first step was to finish my beloved series. The 100th and final episode brought to conclusion all the story lines exactly as I’d planned to in 1993. In 2001, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the series, I wrote and drew the 10th “special” which finally revealed Arché-Lady’s secret origin.


Hard to believe—gulp!—20 years have passed since Miriam asked me to draw that thank you card. But it cannot go unobserved. So, investigating digital press options, it’s looking within reason to put together a high-quality two-volume perfect bound collection. Limited run, of course, for the true Fish-philes. It’ll be a huge pre-press project, but perfect way to keep me away from TV. Fortunately, even for the devoted Arché-Lady reader, there will be plenty of exclusive material since I’ll include some rarely-seen stuff like the “Teen Auxiliary” splash pages sans stories I did in 1999, the “Astro-Boy” solo stories from 2001, and the “recap” I did in 2006. Plus who knows what else I will be inspired to do. Maybe I’ll post a few gems from the past on the blog for your amusement, too. Keep your eye out for the pre-order stage…I’m not gonna make many of these babies!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wonder Woman Day V

It's Labor Day weekend, and my annual tradition of producing art for the Wonder Woman Day charity auction!

This is the 5th (and final—bummer!) year of the auction and my 4th entry. In past years, I have done retro-Wondy (two WWII-era drawings, and one '70s-era, all posted here) for the auction benefiting a Portland, Oregon womens' shelter.

My first entry commanded the highest price, ranking among the top sales; I was very honored to "beat out" a number or pro artists who had actually worked on Wondy's book.

Of course, I ultimately (and sheepishly) have sold off color prints of my entries—mostly at the request of some fans.

Being the last year, thanks to Jared's urging, I wanted to do a cover recreation, and immediately looked to a brief period in Wonder Woman history in the '50s when she looked like a bathing beauty, for about a year around issue 100.

After that, startling—despite no change in artistic team—she went from bathing beauty to prison matron. But still, that ugly, ugly era produced some real gems. Such as #125, which offers my inspiration for this year's auction.

I found logos and printed out a blue line grid, and drew my rendition of Amoeba-Man, Mer-Man, and Colonel Steve Trevor fighting over Wonder Woman. The last image is the original cover—hilarious! If you choose to bid on my version, it will look pretty much like the 2nd image: blue line logo and grid, DC/National Comics bullet, CCA logo, blue pencil and ink drawing on 11"x17" Bristol board.

I wasn't sure I'd color this year's, but then I said, "why not?" and here you see image 1. I'll print a handful on 11"x17" photo gloss paper and if you are lucky you can get one at New York Comic Con next month.

Please do check out the auction—it's a great cause!

Friday, September 3, 2010

New Ts!: The Timfishworks Collection

New limited run Ts! Been wanting to do these two for so long! Both shirts have been worn by my comic characters in my stories for many years now. So, you can cosplay all you want. First, "Johnny's Magnet" as seen on characters in I ♥ Marvel, Things Don't Always Suck, and Cavalcade. Next, "Hippy Daisy" as seen in The Faggy Phantom, Strugglers, and Cavalcade. Maybe more, I try to draw them in every story, because I WANT THEM. And now, I have them! And you can, too...

They are on nice American Apparel shirts, mostly available in S and M. There are only a few Ls and 1 XL. Let me know.

I'll try to post pics of me wearing them.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

From the gayest corners of the globe—DOC SAVAGE

Greg just passed along DC's DOC SAVAGE trade paperback collection of the comics which appeared in magazine format in the early '70s.

The talent roster was pretty impressive, but the stories...well, hrm, uh, anyway...

Doc Savage was a popular pulp serial from the '30s, and can be regarded as the "first superhero." He is immensely strong from his 2-hour daily workout regimen since childhood, extremely intelligent, and billed as "The Man of Bronze" un-naturally tan.

But best of all, he's shirtless—all the time. Tight riding pants, tall boots, and a skimpy vest is his preferred get-up. Par for the course for the Castro in the '70s but out of place for the '30s. But still pretty sexy. Even when he travels to the extreme north of Canada, he's still shirtless—though he swaps out his skimpy leather vest for a skimpy fur vest. Yes, you read that accurately.

It's not just Doc that's pretty gay. His band of 6 helper men are pretty gay too. They really only develop two of them as characters for the comic, and they have a very old-married-couple or at least Bert and Ernie shtick. Of course, one of them is a fashion plate and carries a sword inside his cane. Ok!

And, from the get-go, his villains look gay too. Enter a band of South American Indians, dressed in some sort of tight snake-skin body suits...covering head to toe. No, I take that back, their entire midriffs are exposed so they can showcase their abs. I'm not joking, buy the book if you don't believe me.

Overall, an amusing read.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Teen Titans '10—sort of

Fish-philes know my penchant for late '60s-early '70s Teen Titans. So my foray into the Titans of today is very much a cautious toe-dipping into the pool.

The sketch session starts off with the non-modern version Betty Kane Bat-Girl flipping a would-be attacker, before I am inspired to draw the Cassie Sandsmark Wonder Girl.

Cassie wears a TIGHT red top with either an eagle or W, and originally jeans and later TIGHT red pants. At first I thought the idea of a super-hero wearing jeans was pretty silly. But drawing her, I warmed up to it. Here, I give her the loose top a la Donna Troy in the mid-'60s with stylized eagle, but showing the midriff. Then I imagined her sewing on the stars wrapping around her hip and leg. Kinda blending Donna's first look with her second in a retro-hippy chick version of Cassie. Now I like her.

I proceed to draw Cassie along with a more modern version of Robin (probably Tim Drake) and some version of Kid Flash (is Impulse now KF? Is that Bart Allen? I can't keep up), fighting the grow-one of the Sizematic Twins.

Admitting Wonder Girl, Robin, and Kid Flash aren't terribly "modern" I proceeded to draw Kid Devil and Rose Wilson astonished by the shrink-one of the Sizematic Twins. Perhaps he broke into the Titans' HQ. I did read about Rose on Wikipedia. I assume in my version, the serum granting her super strength and reflexes is out of her system, rendering her more along the lines of Lilith with ESP as contribution to the cause. I'm guessing with that serum out of her system, she'll have less if no psychotic episodes. Maybe the eye she gauged out will grow back. Dunno.