To mix things up at the end of the year, I've decided to post some of my favorite albums of 2006. Ranking music is always weird (and often pretentious), but this is my honest impression of the albums that wowed me the most this year.
Top Ten Picks:
1. Belle and Sebastian-- The Life Pursuit 2. Yo La Tengo-- I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass 3. TV On The Radio-- Return to Cookie Mountain 4. Danielson-- Ships 5. Ghostface Killah-- Fishscale 6. Peter Bjorn and John-- Writer's Block 7. The Decemberists -- The Crane Wife 8. Figurines-- Skeleton 9. Neko Case-- Fox Confessor Brings the Flood 10. Tapes n' Tapes-- The Loon
Honorable mentions (if ten would allow more)
I'm From Barcelona -- Let Me Introduce Myself The Roots -- Game Theory Outkast -- Idlewild Jenny Lewis -- Rabbit Fur Coat Love Is All -- Nine Times That Same Song Camera Obscura -- Let's Get Out of This Country Sonic Youth -- Rather Ripped
Feel free to leave your personal list of favorites in the comments section. I'd be interestedto know what other folks are listening to.
I doodled this guy in the laundromat. My sketchbook was propped on a vibrating washing machine, which was causing my line to wobble ever so slightly. And thus, this mischievous creature sprung forth. It sort of reminds me of one of those Scrubbing Bubbles if they formed an evil plot to take over the world. Starting with your toilet bowl, of course.
All Tintin and comics enthusiasts should run on over to an online supplement to P.O.V.'s documentary Tintin and I:On Cartooning. I watched the documentary on PBS over the summer, and while I was less than impressed with some bizarre treatments of Tintin art in the film, the story of Hergé's life and struggles was very interesting. I was even more surprised when I just happened upon the great set of artist interviews PBS has conviently assembled on their Special Features page for the film. The group of six includes Jessica Abel, Daniel Clowes, Phoebe Gloeckner, Jason Lutes, Seth, and Chris Ware. Lots to read, as the interviews are fairly in depth. They speak about the influence Hergé had on them and issues concerning comics as an artform.
I just finished a set of spot illustrations for Vancouver Magazine. This one is about the true story of a criminal wanted for double murder who posted a profile on an internet dating site and was recognized by someone after he appeared on America's Most Wanted. Another loveable stupid criminal.
I've definitely been on a mutant monster kick, lately. With this picture, I was inspired by a yellow towel, a pale green towel, and a pink fuzzy robe that were hanging by my bathroom door. Something about the colors spoke to me in a 70s radioactive way.
In my procrastination to start serious work on comics again, I try to remind myself that I've done it before, and I can do it again. I just have to find my muse. In my teenage and college years, I was partial to the comic strip as my medium of choice, and Blake was my comic. He still has a home at an old website of mine, Bob's Comics. My idol growing up was Bill Watterson. He was the champion of the comic strip, fighting for cartoonist's rights while breathing new life into the artform (to this day, Calvin and Hobbes is my hands down favorite—Krazy Kat a close second). I worked on Blake, and Blake alone for a good 5 or more years (1995-2001). Alas, I grew tired of the medium—I think it had something to do with art school broadening my interests—so I dropped comics altogether.
Here are some samples of Blake. There is quite an archive of strips at the website mentioned above. I'm sometimes amazed at how productive I was, but I guess I was a bit of a loner in those days with a lot of free time.
It didn't take much time before my interests in comics bubbled up again. I discovered Chris Ware and a brand of underground caroonists working in the longer format commonly known as the "graphic novel"—a term I generally try to avoid, but it suits its purpose here. I was awestruck by the complex storylines, the range of styles, and the range of formats. I realized that where I had become disenchanted with the comic strip (setup...punchline), the longer form offered a different realm for me to explore. One that I am only beginning to play around with. Actually, I did create a handful of longer strips in my Blake days. My challenge now is to write stories that compliment my taste for the surreal. So, stay tuned...
This is a teaser illustration I dropped into a proposal for a client to create and design keyboarding (typing) software. FableVision got it, and we're actually on the home stretch of the project right now—though they didn't go for my wackier approach to things.
It's rare that I would post about something from another blog, but for the past couple of weeks the gang over at Classic Cartoons have been posting animation stills from the Fleischer Color Classics. Notably "Tears of an Onion," which I have never seen, and "Play Safe," which I had on VHS when I was a kid. I wish I could see the onion one, but it's supposedly still under copyright protection. I love the sequence in "Play Safe" where the trains are about to crash. It actually repeats over and over again with the trains whistling at each other for a good 30 seconds as they are barreling towards each other. Please hop on over and have a look for yourself. I love the visual style of the Fleischer cartoons...they are both cute and bizarre, which I find appealing.
Lately I've been exploring my curiosity in line. I find myself torn between the brush stroke that I've grown more accustomed to from working in Flash (using a tablet), and the single width line I get from a uniball pen. The good thing is that when I break out the pen nibs, I usually get something inbetween: enough variation so that I can get a thick or thin line depending on which tip I use (and there is some variation built in). Two comic artists that I'm fond of, Ron Regé Jr. (line) and Seth (brush), appropriately represent opposing ends of the spectrum. My brain seems to adjust to the tool that I'm using, offering differing results. Below are some recent pages from my sketchbook.
I just finished an illustration for Improper Bostonian, a local arts and entertainment magazine. They're easily one of my favorite freelance gigs, because I get a 10" x 12" full pager to tackle. And the art director gives me a lot of freedom. The articles are usually funny—this one is a laundry list of everyday annoyances for city-goers in Boston. I tried to cram a lot into the picture (worked large at 14" x 17") and had a lot of fun with the details. The street date is Oct 11th, so look for it if you're in town.
Just playing around with a brush in my sketchbook. I guess I shouldn't be afraid of brushwork as much as I am...it does create a wonderful line. When I work in pen and ink, I normally use pen nibs—which don't give me quite the thick to thin line variation, but I'm more comfortable working with a pen as a tool. And I can achieve the same line with tablet in Flash. Actually, these were created with a brush marker...so I am still cheating.
I just got back from a trip to St. Louis, MO...where I had a run in with a friend of mine, Bob of Bob's Big Boy—one of great examples of character branding in advertising. He's cool and creepy with all his wholesome cartoon goodness. Bob has deeper meaning to me as of late, because I was recently involved in a job at work where we tried to spin him off in a science game called "Nano-boy's."
Legal kindly informed us that the resemblance (parody or not) was too similar, so we ended up swapping in another friendly character in his place. Anyway, here's to you, Bobs!
I just rediscovered a college assignment to design a form of currency. I figured that with all the buying and selling of souls in the afterlife, Hell must have its own monetary system. It's my understanding that demons trade in hades (perhaps halos in Heaven?) I wonder what the exchange rate of the dollar would be...
So far I've used Drip! to basically post doodles because its quick, easy, and a good way to motivate myself to keep busy making art. Nothing more than an annotated online sketchbook. So, this post will be my first official "rant" of sorts. My apologies, but I need to get something off my chest.
For the past couple years or so, I've been trying to come to terms with nearly everyone telling me my work either looks like, resembles, or references Gary Baseman. As of late, it has been a point of annoyance, because I am continuously striving for originality. And there is nothing more that I hate than someone doing a lame rip-off of another artist. So, I take it personally...it bugs me when people mention this. I proclaim, "Gary Baseman doesn't own vintage cartoons!" and "All art is derivative!" But all of a sudden I think I may be on the road to acceptance...or that I'm coming to peace with what amounts to a common obsession with cartoons.
To be fair, Gary Baseman has made an enormous impact on how I have developed as an artist. He was easily one a handful of contemporary illustrators I knew by name 6 years ago when I began my major in art school. Baseman was the main artist I used in defense of creating cartoon-inspired illustration. I plastered his work all over my studio wall, and from him I was able to learn what it really was that I loved about cartoons. He did a lot of the heavy-lifting for me. Because of his work, I've delved deeper into the essence of my passion. I've watched countless cartoons from the 20s and 30s...which eventually spawned Jinx the Monkey. Through his illustrations and paintings, I have been able to zero in on a pleasure point. But, my hope has been to move on. I've studied Baseman, digested his work, and I'm on the path to discovering something more personal. And this is why it bugs me when people say my work looks like his...because I want it look like my own. It probably unnerves me because it likely reinforces a fear that my work is too derivative.
I have a number of artists who I would call influences. To name a few: Bill Watterson, George Herriman, Chris Ware, Ron Regé Jr, J Otto Seibold, Jason, Crumb, Christian Northeast, Dr. Seuss...and countless others. But what it boils down to is that I love offbeat comics and cartoons. And what I'm beginning to conclude is that it's okay for people to say that Baseman and I share a visual affinity, because we do. I also feel comfortable in the fact that I'm truly making a unique mark as an artist and will continue to do so.
So, my apologies for harboring any resentment towards you Mr. Baseman. Every artist gets compared to some so-and-so. I guess it's the quickest way to describe an artist's work—by drawing obvious comparisons. You must get sick of people asking you for your the secret formula behind your work. By the way, I love Creamy.
I just finished this image for Seattle Metropolitan Magazine. They wrote the content; it's the kind of people you might bump into on your way out of the bar. Another opportunity to draw up some fun characters.
Happy 4th everyone! This is a new pen and ink, hot off the drawing table. It's sort of a continuation on the theme of the Starved illustration I posted earlier last month. "Not so happy" cartoons, or something like that. Death, dismay, unbridled hopelessness...You get the idea. Color version coming soon. Anyway, off to fire up the grill!
A page of notes from a meeting at work: June 22, I believe. A dull conference call with a frustrating client. I find it interesting how a page of doodles from a staff meeting differs so much from a page of my sketch book. I tend to fill in the page fairly evenly, without much concern of composition or scale. Very uniform. Familiar regurgitated doodles and characters always spring up. But once in a while something novel will spring forth, often because of something somebody has said or mentioned. Not much of that on this page, unfortunately. Though I suppose the birdlike creature with the fresh kill is a fun moment.