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.