Saturday, February 20, 2010

Beware the Mola Mola

This is no joke.

These creatures exist.

This is the ocean sunfish, otherwise known as the mola mola. They are the heaviest bony fish in the ocean—weighing upwards of 5000 lbs! HUGE! Just look at the diver by comparison.

They've been spotted off the shore of Boston.
They may even live in an ocean near you.
And they creep the hell out of me.

It all started when I was a kid. The thought of swimming with fish scared me to begin with. When I would go swimming in the lake, I'd imagine fish gracing by my feet, ready to nibble away at me—especially if I swam out over my head.

I was reading about fish in an encyclopedia (this was what we used before Wikipedia, kids), when I came across an illustration not unlike this:

"The Fish of the Ocean" it was called—a full page illustration showing fish of all shapes and sizes. And there is was. It was labeled "Ocean Sunfish." I just couldn't make sense of it. Its body design is so bizarre, it defies explanation: no tail fin; two huge fins jutting out the top and bottom. The drawing was larger in scale than what is shown here.

But this is where the real freak-out kicks in. I imagine a scenario where I'm out in the ocean, snorkeling, when off in the distance I see a white shape that grows larger. And larger. Before I know it, I'm swimming alongside one of In fact, the horror is pretty well simulated in this video. The beast appears around the :54 second mark.

Watching this sends chills up my spine.

It should come as no surprise that no one takes my fear seriously. My wife has known about it for some time, and was thoughtful enough to buy me this:

They are not CUTE.

Mola mola will kill your family according to one group of enthusiasts.
(thx @Tarynosaurus)

So...I was tweeting about how I can't stand these mola molas the other day. The taunting continued. And then one fellow (@Abraxas579) thought maybe I could overcome my phobia by drawing one. It was an intriguing proposal, and I do enjoy drawing gross things, so I decided to take him up on it.

Some preliminary sketches.

WAIT! How'd that get in there?

I landed on this drawing. And then inked it. But I prefer the pencil.

I guess I have a better appreciation for their awkward body design now. But you won't catch me in the water with one any time soon.

Fear the mola mola. As I do.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Latest doodle for WTD? over at Creative Juices.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pumpkin Valentines

Here's what they looked like in mid-November.
And here are my Pumpkin Pancakes from last year.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Caucus Race

I posted this image a few days ago on Google Buzz (here)—you may have also heard me mention it on Twitter (@bobjinx). If not, I was recently invited to participate in an Alice in Wonderland-themed group show at the Canteen Gallery up in Ottawa, Canada. The show is called "Two Days Slow" and will be opening on March 4th. So if you're in the neighborhood, mark your calendars. (I unfortunately will be unable to attend).

As promised, here's a bit of process coming your way.

I chose the Caucus Race first on a tip from my wife, and secondly because it seemed like a fun opportunity to create a cast of animal characters. Especially birds, because I like drawing them. The story lists that

"there were a Duck and a Dodo, a Lory and an Eaglet, and several other curious creatures...They were indeed a queer-looking party that assembled on the bank—the birds with draggled feathers, the animals with their fur clinging close to them, and all dripping wet, cross, and uncomfortable."

(A few pages of preparatory pencil sketches.) A handful of these character studies made the final cut. You'll notice a thumbnail in the upper left corner. This was my first idea—to have Alice standing grumpy and wet in the middle of the parade of creatures. I even sketched out various iterations of Alice wringing out her wet hair.

And then there's this.

(I'm not always a focused doodler.)

After some thought, I thought it better to get Alice into the race—as it is described in the story anyway. It seemed like it would make for a more active composition, too. Here's the thumb that launched the image.

From this point, I decided to leap into Flash. I knew that wrangling all these critters into a ring would be a difficult challenge, and I wanted the ability to freely edit, scale, and tweak as needed. Here's my resolved sketch, where I worked out the kinds of animals and how they would all weave together in a circle.

And then it came time to ink.
This was by far the most time-consuming part.

When drawing on the computer, it's easy to fall victim to detail because you can zoom-in indefinitely. In this case, because I new I'd be printing it large, I wanted the characters in the back to be just as rendered as those in the front. The line-weight is thinner to imply depth (heavier in the front), but every character is equally considered from a drawing standpoint.

Underneath my inks, I roughed in a color study (line-layer turned off):

After many hours of coloring, this was my near final output from Flash (everything you see here is created in Flash).

Using watercolor paintings I've scanned, I added an addition layer of texture in Photoshop. It's very subtle, but it's there. I think it helps separate the characters from the background (giving it a look similar to an animation cel). Here's the final again:

With the illustration complete, I had an archival-ink fine-art print made up (an edition of one), and then framed and matted it. The size of the print is 16" x 10" in a slightly larger frame.

I took a few photos before I packed it up.

And now it's on its way to Canada.

If you're in Ottawa and make it to the show at Canteen, let me know! I also sent ten copies of ARGH! along with the framed print, so the gallery will have issues #2-#6 in short supply.

Thanks for reading!


Heeby Jeeby Comix artist (and pal o'mine) David Degrand just posted his "Elongated Alice" illustration over at his blog. It's also the featured image on the Canteen website (GO DAVID!).

Wonderland extraordinaire, Meg Hunt, is not only doing a series of illustrations for the new Picture Book Report blog (view here)...she's also featured in two Alice-themed shows!—one at Canteen (the other at Gallery Nucleus). She uploaded her painting for the Canteen show to Flickr ("A Royal Stroll"), so go check that out, too.

**UPDATE 2** (2-17-10)

Promo image just arrived from Canteen:

Poster art by Casey Weldon.
(click to view large)

Monday, February 08, 2010

Cartoonist Survey by David Paccia

David Paccia recently asked me to parcipate in a Cartoonist Survey, where I answer a bunch of questions about art and cartooning. I'm entry #67, currently featured on the front page of the site. If you ever wanted to know if I'm a righty or a lefty, now's your chance.

Cartoonist Survery #67

He even managed to write up a great bio on me—I guess by scouring the corners of the internet. And he dug up this photo (I'm guessing from my FableVision bio, which could use an update). Yep, that's what I look like. I don't know who the dork in the jeans and glasses is next to me, though.

Thanks to Chris Sabatino for pointing David my way. Definitely read up on all the cartoonists who've contributed to the survey so far—lots of interesting info to dig through. And thank you, David.

Friday, February 05, 2010


Here's my image for today's What the Doodle? on Creative Juices. The word this week was WELCOMED. If you click on the image you'll notice I went for a "zipatone" effect using Photoshop's halftoning feature. I'd never tried this before—liking the result a lot.