Sunday, January 25, 2015

Process: "Lifeguards of the Arctic"

Haven't done a full-on process post in a while, and even though this particular panel stayed fairly consistent all the way through, it also happened to get thoroughly documented in all of its stages as it underwent some minor evolution on its way to the finished, print version.

Done originally as a demo for this summer's Cartoon & Comic Art course, I worked it up through concept sketch/doodle to penciled rough, to completed inks, to digitized line art + halftone shading on the computer to a finished wash version on the original pen & ink piece. There was also a bonus inclusion of some linear perspective involved in the plotting out of the structure, and some on-the-fly research when it wasn't apparent to anyone else that what I meant to illustrate was an ice auger.

But one thing that this particular panel represented was a tipping point, what ultimately opened up a door into a revelation of sorts, an epiphany that all of the time I've been methodically scanning in linework to the computer and finishing the halftones digitally, and then going back to the original pen & ink piece to apply washes (either gray and/or color), I have been more and more increasingly ditching the digital version in favor of the manual one.

Not that I'd ever resent the investment of time & energy devoted to the digital, as it's good practice, on par with every scribble made in a sketchbook. I suppose it could be a symptom of a continuing journey of self-discovery, coming to terms with a changing personal aesthetic, or evidence that all those time I told myself to stop caring so much has leaked over into enough confidence to just simply let go a bit more. Next thing you know I'll stop crutching so much on the pencil...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fuzzy Models

One the heels of our Life Drawing class field-trip to the animal shelter (see previous post here) we had a very special guest visit to the studio: Nathan of TOPAD brought along Yukon and Phineas to pose for some sketches. We got to learn about therapy versus assistance dogs, the regiment of training that goes into an impressive list of duties and commands that they master, and what an "English Cream" Golden Retriever is. Besides cute, that is. In between snuggles + treats we got a range of poses that utilized basic hand gestures so as to incorporate both human figure + animal for our studies. Always a great opportunity when drawing anything new to learn more about other people and the things that they do. The act of making art is so often disconnected from the everyday flow of activities and events that surround us: for many artists the established pattern is a habitual retreat from things, ensconced in a buffer zone, detached and apart, as opposed to immersion amidst the movement and noise of life. Hence my take on teaching a "Life" Drawing course.

Friday, January 23, 2015


Cat + Mouse

Oh hey - first week of the supposedly new posting schedule and I'm already sneakin' one up on a Friday anyways. But look this is really important! We here at Nuggets© and Ink & Snow®™ brand humor would like to welcome our newest studio assistant to the little ol' cabin of craziness: introducing young Atticus!

"Oh Hai"

He was found down at the pound last week, and after a few visits he made it quite clear his intentions were to come home with us. Being a very handsome fellah - very orange and full of a one year-old's energy - he was also in big demand with other potential adopters. So I showed up at precisely the minute (1:16pm) he officially became property of the Fairbanks Animal Shelter and - YESH! - won the drawing for the prize of a purr-fect partner. Which, seeing as how he's evidently an enthusiastic paws-on kinda person, looks from these snapshots as if these will pretty soon be an uptick in the kitty cartoon department...

"Here - lemmee help... use my I-PAWed"

After an unfortunate extended incarceration (due to a holiday weekend) he made the requisite side-trip to the vet for that all-important operation, and then on to his new home. Equilibrium has been achieved in so far as diplomatic relations with the old man of the cabin; being twenty years his senior Souchie administered a couple judicious biffs and soon the poofy-tails + caterwauls all went away. Now it's back to the drawing board... (savvy readers can get a bonus sneak-peek at some upcoming panels from the sketchbooks) well, after just a few more games of fetch... and okay maybe just one more quick snuggle...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

"AK Rainbow Bridge"

Lotsa folks in this neck of the woods will relate. Sketched after a long week of mourning Pippen, and in memory of Bird-Dog too. A round of catnip + biscuits to everyone who's been missing their own furry friends and family. Peace.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Field Trip: Animal Shelter

   Took a break from human beings in the Life Drawing course, as after all, animals are also ostensibly alive, and many make for such good models. Others, not so much, but that's Life. So off to the Borough Animal Shelter for a couple hours of reference sketching. Some really great folks with big hearts doing a tough job. Actually it was reaffirming in the positive sense to see so many empty cages, in that an overcrowded shelter would have been comparatively more more depressing. And just while we were there, two cats, a dog and a rabbit were adopted.

   Fortunate for us there was a veritable menagerie of species on display: above and beyond the usual cats + dogs, there were hamsters, pigeons, budgies, turtles and a herd of rabbits. And of course a diverse selection of individual animals with respect to age, size and temperament.

   Aside from all the heightened awareness of minutia that is the observational skill-set of sketching, one also is privy to quite the range of elicited responses in people when they first enter one of the rooms or upon seeing a particular critter. The range of noises people make rival that of their caged counterparts. Probably the only practical downside to the location was the din of the dogs: in a concrete and steel enclosure the sound can make it hard to focus. I tend to think of it from their perspective - I'd yell my head off if I was locked up too.

   Outside in the sled-dog area there were a handful of dogs awaiting a new leash on life. I know it had been a year since we lost Bird-Dog, but given how much I teared up over a couple of these old pups it's still too soon.

Stray Cartoonist

Friday, January 16, 2015

Guys Read 2015

Not exactly an effective poster boy, but hey I do get to read some spiffy comics...

Blogged about here before, it's another round of readings done under the auspices of "Guys Read" - the volunteer literacy advocacy project that is a tremendous success in instilling a passion for reading amongst 4th-grade boys in our community. I'll let program director Greg Hill explain it in his own words:
"This is for the men of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, especially those concerned about the large number of boys who in about 4th grade stop reading for pleasure for the rest of their lives. The Alaska Guys Read program does something about that.
This Guys Read program was created here in Fairbanks, it's won two national awards, and has gotten nearly every 4th grade boy in the public school system eager to see the next Guys Read featured book. And it's done entirely with private donations and volunteers.
The commitment is for at least one lunch-hour during the course of the 3-week program. Many men choose to read more often, especially after experiencing the kick that comes from turning a bunch of boys onto reading for fun.
Two-man teams visit each elementary twice each week to read heavily illustrated books to the 4th grade boys for about 20 minutes of their 30 minute lunch period. Times vary according to the school's schedules.
We ask that you read over the books, out loud, several times before going to your assigned school about 15 minutes before their lunch period. Check in as a volunteer at the main desk, and go to the library, classroom, or other site for the reading. There you will usually find the projector and document camera set up.
One of the volunteers positions the pages under the document camera while the other reads what's being shown on the screen while showing where he's reading with a laser pointer.
The pointer, a copy of the book, and bookmarks featuring that day's book will all be in a black Guys Read box that will be with the projector/doc camera set up, or at the school library.
We read in each book for only 20 minutes. Next reading will feature a different book. But we donate 3 copies of each title to the school library.
On Saturday, Jan. 31, we ask the volunteers who can to help with the Guys Read parties the boys are invited to attend at Noel Wien Library. One party starts at 11 and the other at 1:30. We'll have Guys Games, Guy Grub, and one of the all-time favorite authors will Skype in to read some of his latest work.
Afterwards, 500 4th grade boys will experience the pleasure reading can bring, and several dozen families will have new public library cards.
There's more information at the Guys Read website, Thanks for any help you can provide."
If you are in this neck of the woods today or tomorrow (January 17th/18th) from 12noon - 1:30pm there will be volunteer signups + orientation/training (super easy & super fast) downtown at the Noel Wien Public Library. I dropped in yesterday and was amazed at the new tech that makes this such a smooth experience, and previewed a handful of the new titles...

Two of the graphic novels we are showcasing this session is "Sidekicks" by Dan Santat and "Bad Island" by Doug TenNaple. Lots of way cool sound effects to holler out loud, which is a bonus in a library.

Meta: 6 Year Anniversary/Final Friday Post

   It's enough of a challenge to try and draw every single day (and read every day no less) that it's time to throttle down the blog a bit and post only on Saturdays + Sundays. Chalk it up to judicious appropriation of resources: the good news being I'm focusing on some back-burner projects that have been in limbo for a while, and ramping up a couple new books.

   This is in keeping in line with last year's anniversary post to scale everything back to weekends only, which has panned out well enough. Eventually I see this stabilizing to posting maybe one day a week. Stats are great: the Google overlords say almost 300k page views + a whopping 4,482,675 total views on the Picasa web-albums, which aside from the approximately three million coming from just me & the Significant Otter, is more than a little baffling, even with getting slammed with bots every so often. The basic metrics still average a modest couple hundred hits a day, fractionally increasing over time, but that ain't exactly the point behind posting. And I'm gonna conversely try to take it a tad bit more seriously, at least as far as improving on content etc. No, seriously.

   Good thing I write just like I draw - which explains a lot as far as randomness and legibility: it's important to remember to not take it all so serious and try to have at least a little bit of fun. Blogging is analogous to cartooning - and creating artwork in general - in that you just keep putting it out there regardless of accolades and/or rejection. It's just something that you do anyways, like that line about "dance like nobody's watching" (there'll be an upcoming essay on just that topic + the dangers of false expectations conflated with the culture of on-line immediacy). In the meantime from here on out it'll be writing/reposting on Saturdays (hopefully more longform editorializing eventually) and swapping the funnies to Sundays. So basically just one visit a week ought to do ya.

   All that said, sure do appreciate you stopping by... it's a bonus to virtually stay in touch with some fellow artist alum, along with others in the creative community, and friends, fans + family alike, and seeing what everybody's up to and sharing recent efforts and insights. And it's also really nice to cross paths with folks out on the street or in a cafe who comment in person about a cartoon or a blog post that they recently read, and sometimes maybe see it shared on other social media platforms. Kinda in line with the 3-part harmony I constantly lecture students about with having several irons in the fire: as in on-line, in print + in person (ex: on the wall of a gallery).

   So thanks again for reading!

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

I Am Charlie (IV): The Profit

A fourth and final installment that has preempted normal posting, which will resume next weekend.

   Please peruse the links in this essay as there will be discussion + review of the material presented here and over this weekend's series for our classroom critique on the topic of editorial cartooning and media ethics. More below the fold...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I Am Charlie (III): The Panels

Third in a related series of posts on the Charlie Hedbo assassinations.

    I confess to scrapping today’s post in its entirety late last night, after much reflection and internal debate. This happens a lot with my drawings, moreso when I try and write anything serious or measured. Indeed the history of this very blog is testimony to why editors can often serve a crucial role as a buffer zone. More below the fold...

Friday, January 9, 2015

I Am Charlie (II): The People

Everything scheduled for this weekend's posts has been bumped back, as this event transcends just about everything for me, professionally and morally. Wednesday's incident of complete horror strikes at the heart of so much: humanity, journalism, cartooning, religion, and universal rights. The Charlie Hebdo attack is and will be a significant touchstone in the lives and careers of many, both inside and outside of the industry and media. This is a hyperlink-heavy compendium of some of the better material and insightful coverage + commentary that I have been reading thus far. More below the fold.

“Long live comics, and long live freedom of the press.” (from Boing Boing)

Staff Cartoonists Honoré, Wolinski, Cabu, Tignous and Charb