Joe Alterio's blog on illustration, comix, design, animation, and other bouts of total awesomeness.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

In the spirit of the season

I kvetch a lot about my desire to see more of my work in print and all that, but in the grand scheme of things, I have a lot of things to be really grateful for. One thing that I've been especially grateful for is the beauty of "The Inter-web", and that it's allowed me to come in contact and make friends with a whole host of people that share my sensibilty. I'll try and post more about these folks in the coming weeks; one of these people is Colin White.

I've been wanted to blog on Colin for a while, because I consider link love on this blog to be one of the sincerest forms of flattery, and I really admire what Colin does. Not only does he have a great eye for presenting specific pieces of scenes that set a tone (admittedly the type of stuff I tried to do in 365), but he's also got a simplicity of line that I wish I could capture: he doesn't obsess over tiny details, and his gesture-like work is as strong and evocative as some of the most manically detailed stuff I've seen.

He can do introspective stuff, experimental stuff, and just good gag strips, too. He's a great talent. He also produces so much, so well, so quickly , he kinda pisses me off. Oh well.

Look for something Colin and I will be collaborating on some time this next year. Yeah!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Tripping Over Words

My plan was to throw the new episode up by last night, but I was a day late and dollar short: I had just enough time to only just finish, without getting to upload, so it'll be another week until it's up. Sorry. I'm trying to get on a better schedule. Comics is hard work, yo.

We're in Seattle now, "home" for the holidays, and without my requisite toys and drawing boards, so I'm a bit adrift in terms of what to do with myself: I figured, if anything, I could get some writing done, for future projects and self-edification. It would be good for me, a nice, jaunty period of self-improvement, in which I could bang out all those projects I've been wanting to get down for the past four months.

The problem is that I just...can' it.

And so I pose this problem to you, dear readers: do you need warm up time to? I remember reading about George Orwell, how he could get up at 2 PM, sit down at his typewriter, write steadily for two hours, and then go get drunk. And all I could think was: HOW?!

I need a good two hours of just writing garbage until sentences start coming out right. And with drawing it's even worse: I have "Shame Sketchbooks", where I put all the stuff that will never see the slight of day, until my pencil starts behaving.

Am I the only one?

Monday, December 18, 2006


Ward Jenkins has some cool ass stuff on his blog, like a bunch of awesome examples (like the one above) of scanned mid- century illustration, when everyone from famous artists to industry hacks decided that coloring inside the lines was for chumps.

It's a little animation-nerdy, but if your not interested in that type of stuff, what're you doing looking at THIS blog, anyways?

Also, check out his Flikr Pool, The Retro Kid. Score!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Sketchblog 12/15/06

Back at it after a brief visit back to Beantown. Great to see everyone back home. Ups and downs, strikes and gutters. You know how it goes.

Today's sketchblog date is a little disingenuous, because I actually did this work back in October, but I'm, busy working on Episode Three, and while it's not ready yet, I wanted to put something up on here. Consider this the first entry - over the past three months, I've had three (!) gigs in which I was hired to draw robots - in what is the clearest sign that I am becoming "That Robot Guy". *sigh*

Blue Flavor wanted a cool, accessible spokesman for it's work, and because of their heavy expterise in the web and usability, a robot seemed like a great idea. Their sloagna was 'We Speak People', and the notion of that coming out of a robots mouth struck everyone as humorous. On top of that, they're all comic book nerds at heart (aren't we all?), and so the possibility of using comic art to appeal to their clients excited both of us. Below is some intial sketches, finishing off with the finals they went for. I'll be doing an actual comic for them later, too. Dude! Comics for money! Sweet!

Oh, and Rebholz, this post is for you, sucka.

Click on images to enlarge.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Sketchblog 12/6/06 II

This the birthday card I just drew for my sister: much to the agog of common decency, she's into fur. But then, I'm inot taxidermy, so what the hell.

Sketchblog 12/6/06

Above is a poster I made after the start of the Iraq invasion, and I then promptly forgot about it. I think it still makes a good point, thought if I had to do it again, I wouldn't make it so cutesy.

(Click image to enlarge)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sketchblog 12/3/06

One of favorite films of all time is Carol Reed's The Third Man. Not only is the story by Graham Greene great, but Joe Cotton and Orson Wells really hit it out of the park. Luckily for me, it also has some great character actors that mug pretty well for a sketchbook below, both by friends of mine, and added to my ever expanding link list at right:

• I worked with Dennis in LA, where we both escaped teaching animation to kids with our sanity barely intact. He's got an easy way with the pencil that drives me up the wall with jealousy.

• Matt Glaser's sports and politics blog, The Zong, is like a poke in the eye with a Tootsie pop: it still hurts, goddammit, but somewhere, somehow, you can't help but want a little more of that sweet, sweet center.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Comics is good for something, after all.

Just a quick note to go check out the new development Blogbot, that Alex Dragulescu is creating. From the site:

Blogbot crawls the web and takes snapshots of web blogs related to a user-specified theme. Then, based on the harvested text, a dynamic collage of images and strings is generated using a keyword-matching algorithm. Later versions will use computational linguistics approaches to derive meaning from text.

What I Did Last Summer is the first experimental graphic novel generated by blogbot, using cached versions of My War (written by a U.S. soldier deployed in Iraq) and the now famous Baghdad Blogger. The protagonists of What I Did Last Summer are military and civilian units from the game Civilization 3.

Far out!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sketchblog 11/26/06

So I got an email from Aida in Iceland (!) who asked about my character development process, and how I decide what someone should looks like: she suggested that since I'm going to be drawing that character a great deal, I had better like them. I couldn't agree more.

For my part, I always have that great quote by Matt Groening running through my mind:

"The great, memorable characters in cartoons in the 20th century are characters you can identify in silhouette."

Above is my sketch when trying to come up with the look for Hector. Hector is...well, I don't want to give anything a way, but he's of a group of folks in the comic that have been physically altered in some way. As you can see, the guy I drew in the bottom right corner was the one I evenutally went with: because Hector is essentially a 'good guy' (albeit reluctantly), and a main character, I couldn't have him be too grotesque. But don't think that these other guys won't be showing up somewhere along the line. I especially like the guys in the upper right. My Troma love contiues to rear it's ugly head.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Motherland Comix

There's a fresh piece today in the NYT about a Harlem exhibition of African comix, and it's great read. (You have to become an NYT member to read it, but it's worth it, and free.) I could give you a big PC schmeal about what it means that an American news outfit is finally A.) covering African culture at all and B.) covering comix, to boot. The long and short of it is that these are great looking, and I'll leave it to the culture critics and socialogists to figure out what it all means.

I got first turned on to comix from Africa from my friend Jason, who used to live in Zimbabwae, and now lives in South Africa. One of the first things we sent me while over there was Bitterkomix, edited by the SA artist Joe Dog, a super heavy and bizzaro monthly comic collection of African comic art. It's a trip, check it out at your local comic shop if you can. They get away with stuff in there that would make Speigelman's RAW blush.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Drawger is Coolger

I was just turned on to Drawger yesterday, which seems very cool and very strange at the same time. It's got all these cool artists, and seems to be a (closed gate) community of cool illustration. But what's up with that site design? I'm no information architech, but it seems really unintutive to me. Maybe it's foreign. Like those brightly colored backpacks all Italians seem to love. What's up with those things?

Regardless, I found my new favorite artist on Drawger, Mark S. Fisher. As with a lot of artists, his 'official portfolio stuff' is pretty OK, but it's his random stream-of-conscious doodles that really make my synapses pop.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Props from The Street

Some props from the folks at Street Tech. Sweet! Thanks, dudes!

Yip Yop, yo.

YipYop just gave me a little post love about the new episode. W00t! Thanks Mike, and thanks Jesse for the recommend!

A quick refit

So, you'll notice that I changed around the look of this blog a bit, to match my page a little more, which, you know, is just the professional thing to do. And also, I gave the blog the title, Good Work, which I'm not totally crazy about, but it'll do until I can think of something else. And also, I think I'm dropping the pirate diction thing: when Vanity Fair starts doing it, you know it's over. Do you think VF has a MySpace page? *shudder*

In other news, I'm wary of the 'over-animation' quality some artists and animators get from constant life drawing: everything becomes a series of gummy swoops and circles, with no real weight anymore. Having said all that, Celia Calle manages to avoid this, and what's more, she rocks my world down to a tiny little nub.

Monday, November 20, 2006

"Episode 2 off the port bow!"

Rejoice, my little deck urchins: Episode 2 of The Basic Virus is finally available. Sorry it took so long, a move of the magnitude we just achieved tends to tie your hands. But the next one's already in production. Stay tuned, and hey, let me know what you think.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Pretty, pretty sea creatures

Laurent Cliffulio, part of the Curious Pictures Group, takes my breath away. What is it with Europeans and insane modernist pictoral coolness?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Tyranny of Ideas

OK, folks, put your brains back in: back to story school. This is a slightly edited email from from my friend Kevin, over at Video Haiku. It's a long one, but worth it, I feel:

So I spent two weeks in the mountains this summer with this French family (I did a handful of video haikus from there), and the father of the family is this really well respected sociologist at the Sorbonne named "Michel Maffesoli".

He basically built a name for himself, over the last 30 years or so, developing kind of an all-encompassing theory of modern society, which I found pretty interesting. It's built on a base that comes partly from Nietsche, which in turn comes from Aristotle, way back. The idea is that just like there are two different currents in dramatic storytelling - tragic and heroic - those dynamics can be applied to society as a whole.

The heroic idea postulates that man is master of his life, his destiny and his fate - that character can prevail, that great things are possible, and that victory (however it is defined) is achievable.

The tragic idea, by contrast, postulates that man is ultimately vulnerable to forces greater than himself, and ultimately doesn't choose his path - he can only react to the world around him, the choices he is given, etc.

Maffesoli applied these terms to modernity, and then postmodernity - the modern is marked by the believe in heroic ideals - we WILL change the world, utopia is possible, we can win this war and create an enduring peace, etc. And postmodernity, then, the opposite - civilization is inherently violent, there is a more or less constant amount of suffering in the world, we're doomed already by climate change, plague, nuclear war, etc. etc..

And so, in the last hundred (or maybe fifty) years, we've basically passed from a heroic epoch (expansion, colonialism, utopianism, empire) to a tragic epoch, from maybe the late 70s onward.

So how this relates to art... one of the encouraging things he talked about was the social aspect of modern (heroic) art vs. postmodern (tragic) art. Modern art as a kind of impersonal force - modern society selects its artists, its Voice, and they say sweeping and inspiring things, pointed toward the future...

Whereas the postmodern artist's role is local, immediate... in tribal societies, and pre-modern (I guess you could say tragic) societies, everyone was an artist - everyone created things, played music. You were responsible for your household and your community, so if there was going to be a party, someone would have to play the guitar and sing... plus things that seem mundane, like painting family portraits, quilting, furniture making, even cooking - were all opportunities for expression.

So now, in our current age, we're finally seeing a reemergence of community art - and digitial video, youtube, and myspace are all elements of it. People making things in spite of their limited knowledge, experience, resources, etc... just because they want to.

But things like writing, and especially cinema, (and I'm sure like gallery/fine art, painting and photography) are still in this really unhealthy "modern" place, where people want something, and pursue something, without any visible path to get there... and that's why people get frustrated and ultimately bail out altogether. Put another way, the audiences for those things aren't scalable - except, now, with blogs and flickr and youtube.

Which comes back around to your "narrativist" and "academic" construction - makes a hell of a lot of sense, and it's maybe a nicer label than "Postmodern" and "Tragic" (which are both weighted terms) - the academic is trying to confine their process and output to a modernist template, make it "fit in" to the larger world, of cinema or whatever - what's newer, better, bigger. Whereas the narrativist is choosing to make something for its own sake, to contribute to a community, and therefore naturally will evolve to a sort of equilibrium between what the community wants/needs and what the artist chooses/can provide.

While it's probably not interesting to a lot of young artists, the thought of rising only to the community level (Go Public Access!!) it is the natural order of things, that everyone doesn't get to be famous, and it fits into kind of a more mature sense of finding one's place in a system - what fits, what works - rather than insisting upon conquering that system.

But the thing is, the societal structure for "art" (except maybe music) is still set up for the Modernist era - it's kind of a relic.

Thanks, Kevin. Someone give this man a teaching post somewhere.

This brings up obviously a lot of interesting points, the largest of which is really the 900-pound gorilla in the corner: Did the rise of all-encompassing gatekeepers really signal the end of the the Heroic/Academic establishment as we know it?

To make such an argument gets you called a socialist at best, and an anarchist at worst, and while I know some of y'all may relish such labels, I'd like to keep the discussion focussed more on art. However, the intersection of these two forces- overwhelming commercial institutions involving themselves in art (or "content", in the parlance of our times) aquisition, and the established adademic meritocracy founded more on self-reflection rather than true experience- makes for a mighty convincing argument as to why artisans find it harder to get by on their craft these days.

But what does this have to do with my original dissection of the way art is made (In summary, either from the brain or from the gut). I think Kevin makes a good point, in that the established art world- as well of those "Outsiders" to the Crown - is still in the heroic/academic model: make nice with the right people, get in the right shows, get on the covers of the right magazines. This is a specifically top-down enterprise, nearly feudal in it's manifestation (witness, for example, the trend of the most famous installation artists like Cristo not even doing their own sketching anymore, but rather having a sycophantic grad student drafting at their bidding).

I guess this gets back to the arugment of whether "art" is the idea or the execution, but I find this a spurious argument. I think the only way this idea got legs was by operating under a sort of tryanny of ideas, the assumption that the idea of the hero, agreed upon by the powers that be to be "important", is so hallowed that his or her ideas are the currency. And again, politics intersects art: this to me seeems a type of aristocracy of ideas, in which the individual is nothing, and only the chosen lords are then accepted idea makers. Execution is art, by any pluralistic standards: anything else veers off into the dangerous territory of biased interests making judgements for the good of the whole: essentially, art oligarchy.

This model of society, and how it is reflected in the art world, makes sense in their comparisons in some regards: after all, "the art world" for a long time was nothing more than the results of patron's whims: even The Great Masters were nothing more than extensions of European merchant largess. Art schools have their ancestry rooted in master's apprenticeships, all of which depended on the full free flow of patronage, and as a result -surprise!- often times the master would teach specifically to what certain patrons wanted.

I suppose the one missing link for me is the notion that the 'Heroic'is, as Kevin puts, "an is master of his life, his destiny and his fate - that character can prevail, that great things are possible, and that victory (however it is defined) is achievable": to me this postivism is not based in reality: it is positive about expansion and manifest destiny, and correctness about the established norm, but not, I would argue, true 'heroism': the 'tragic' empowerment of every artist to me is a much more liberating and positive notion.

It stands to reason such a system would eventually entrench itself in the world, and if there' one thing we can all learn from history, those in power don't like to give it up. So, if Kevin's drawn parallels are correct, the established 'academic' art process and creators are merely drawing on the heroic top-down colonialist system that has controlled our age up until this time. The freeing of human thought since the early 60s: the end of colonial powerstates, civil rights, sexual and gender movements to freedom, as well as the empowerment of such user-based technologies as the internet, desktop publishing, home recording and the like, all engender the more 'Narrativist' art movement that was established early in the 20th century and is only coming to full blossom now. It means we are in a new age of enlightenment, one in which the traditional power structures, from art schools to movie studios, fall to their knees under the onslaught of single "tribal", user-generated art. It means that we all can't be on the cover of national magazines any more, but you WILL sell out a show at your local bar.

I don't think I can in good conscience call that "Tragic".

Monday, October 30, 2006

Skeleton Crew

In honor of Halloween, I'm posting something a little more personal than the usual illustration and comix nerd stuff. More specifically, our costumes.

If any of you know me, I love Halloween. LOVE IT. And I never understood people that A.) Don't dress up as adults and B.) Buy their costumes. I mean, really, why bother getting up in the morning if you spend so little effort? Luckily, I have some friends who feel the same.

Don't ask me what Dove is. But it was spectacular.

Back to comic and illo stuff tomorrow. Happy Halloween, y'all.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A good fellow captain

Just a little link love for Arthur Jones, illustrator and animator out in Brooktown.

He's got a way with whimsey that doesn't make you want to strangle yourself, but makes you rather give him money to make more. Check it out.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Peaceful waters

The view from our new home at dawn. I heart San Francisco.

Molly gets up early these days for her gig, and so, as a result, I do, too. I forgot how much I like being up real early. There's a quiet thoughtfulness, a sort of sleepy fuzziness, that takes the edge off of the world and makes everything a little more palpable. And it's great to draw in. As I get older, I'm finding less and less reasons to bar hop until 4 AM, and more reasons to get up early and work on my projects.

My god, I'm turning into my father.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sketchblog 10/26/06

I tried to post about my particpation at the SF Capsule fair last weekend, but stupid Blogger was having some stupid internal issues, preventing me from posting stupid things. Stupid, stupid Blogger.

In any event, I sold a bunch of c0omix and and greeting cards there, and for the cards, I basically just took a bunch of my sketchbook stuff and put it on some nice paper. And they sold really well. I guess people like my little doodlings, after all.

Below is a few of the better sellers.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A new figurehead below her bow...

Just finished my new site. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Sketchblog 10/2/06

Above is an image I created for Al Gore's "Maybe-The-Country-Should-Stop-Treating-The-Youth-Like-Culture-
Obsessed-Prozaced-Cretins" project, Current TV . It's a little in the hokey vein of War And Anger = Bad, But Getting Beyond War = Good!, but that's what they wanted. I think looks pretty cool, regardless of content.

Not like I'm pro-war or anything.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A quiet night on ice.


Gadzooks, it's been a haul.

I sat on my wobbly barstool last night, watching the christmas lights swirl around my head in a slightly sickening pattern, and came to an empty-hearted love of all humanity that sits and swells around, my chest blooming in unearned adoration for my fellow man.

It could be that I'm in San Francisco, in love with life again, patched up enough to resume my sloppy affair with her, that which become like beddeath in Seattle, cold rainy, fridged. It also could have been that I had polished off my second Wild Turkey.

I guess this is all to say that I know I've been latent in my comic production, I haven't had an art show in a year, and my blogging has been sporadic at best. And for this, to you, my loyal seven readers, I apolgize. But it is about to change. It is in the works.

In two days time, SBC will bring the wire of life and fire and photos and theivery and mypopic narcissism into our living room, and we will be freed of our pathetic coffeeshop existence, eeking out a few minutes time on our laptop as the Russian barista blasts Tim McGraw for the 29th time.

I can't wait!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Finally....finally finally finally.

Sniff that, me hearties? That's the smell of a freshly scrubbed poopdeck, a new coat of whitewash on the fo'castle and the removal of some of our more surly elements in the crew.

AVAST from the The Heart O' The Mission, this captain's new vessel. It's been a long time, I know. I've received alot of emails from you of the more patronizing humor that chided me for not updating anything for a month, and alls I have to say is, if you knew what a move it was, you'd have forgiven me. Suffice to the ship is ready to launch again, and with it, lots of more and exciting new ridiuclous things will be surfacing in these brackish waters shortly.

As a precursor to things to come, after only 8 months, I've gotten completely sick and embarrassed by my portfolio site, so I'm redoing it yet again, and this time, finally, I think I have figured out what exactly I want it to be and what I want it to convey: preferably not "assymertical, unprofessional doofus", which what I feel it conveys now. So I threw together a mock up, below.

What say ye, masters?

p.s: Yeah, yeah, I know I missed this.
But that's so last year. I'm personally prepping for International Talk Like A NeoCon Day. Right, freedom-haters?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Refitting The Ship

I know The Basic Virus and 365 both haven't been updated in a timely manner, and for this I apologize: we're packing and moving and getting out of Dodge. Bear with me: when we get down to lovely SF, the comics will start flowing once more.

Any SF heads wanna get a beer after Friday?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sketchblog - 8/5/06

Rocco, the Gnome of Missing Socks

Friday, July 28, 2006

Sketchblog 7/28/06

Like a lot of dudes my age, I'm totally in love with the old UPA animation aesthetic, both in major releases like Eyvind Earle backgrounds for Disney's Sleeping Beauty, and in small releases like Ward Kimball's super weird stuff. Below is a couple of samples of an ad layout that was eventually dropped in favor of something else I did, but I'm proud of the look just the same. The direction was 'Holly Golightly-1950's-girl-about town', and I think it's pretty successful.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Waters Red

I just completed the new music video for Argo. It's a ComicCast (or Animatic), it's on iTunes, it's a kickass song, and it's kinda awesome (he says humbly). Let me know what you think.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

To diversify, or not to diversify.

I hate to sound like a stuffed shift, but it occurs to me that the question of whether Clickwheel “should” diversify bears un uncanny resemblance to certain arguments that have stalked the very nature of artistic creation for years. The issue at hand is whether Clickwheel, promoted as a comics-on-Ipod service, should start to include more genres that,
while all relate to comics in some way, push the limits, or at least blur the lines, of what a ‘comics’ site is all about. Some disclosure here is in order: Colin White’s comix-with-a-soundtrack, and my music video for Argo, essentially made from a comic on the inside of their album cover, are the likely instigators of the current debate.

What are we doing here? Why are we involved in this? I think I can safely speak for a great majority of us when I say we’re all interested in the promotion of comics as an art form, and where it can go from here. ‘Purist’ is a loose term. If any of us were REAL purists, we’d still be at home, furiously inking on Bristol board and looking in vain for a publisher to print our comics on four color spot litho. We’d also be looking at being paid around 20¢ page, after printing costs were taken into account.

There is a rank hypocrisy that tends among the comics community , one that is think can be found in anything community that is involved is something really cool. It can be very insular and protectionist, cracking wise at it’s own snarky jokes, furiously posting like mad to private bulletin boards, and converging at conventions to geek-speak to each other (see you next week!). And then, occasionally, the community will raise it’s collective fists, and demand to be taken seriously, outraged that the term ‘comic book’ is still derogatory, and pissed that there’s only about 5 guys who actually get reviewed in the NYT Review of Books. I mean, come on. What do we expect?

My argument is that we have been speaking to ourselves for far too long, and it’s time to ride the current wave of comic book iconism in our more mainstream media sources to a real permanent seat at the table. We deserve this for all the guys and gals that came before, and for all the ones will come later. I think mobile comics are the venue for this.
And if incorporating other art forms, like music, sound design, and limited animation will ease that transition, I think we should go for it.

There’s a certain tragic beauty in the analog tools and methods of the past: I myself still shoot with a 1963 Nikon F series, and when I get the chance, I develop, too. The process is what I love, and that type of photography will never die. But photography had to adapt to keep up. Like all art forms, our chosen method of expression must adapt to our times, and that means getting more fans, and integrating and competing with the rest of the new media out there. For better or worse, and with apologies to Marshall McLuhan, we need a little hot media to attract new viewers. If we want a static, still frame to compete against YouTube, we might need a little background music.

Itunes can be our garden of Eden, if we want it to. Let’s do this, and introduce to rest of the world how cool what we do is.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"Narwhal off the Starboard side!"

My good friend and fellow fake-wood-panelling enthusiast Tim Lillis has just revamped his design site, and it's rad: he does a lot of stuff for Make Magazine, among others, so you know. He's good people. And he engineers a mean slinky.

Check out the link at the right, or click here.

Mmmmm. Fake wood paneling.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sketchblog - 7/9/06

Stuff done today with some Paul Desmond on in the background.

"Divin' Bigfoot"? Don't ask me, I dunno.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

What be this RSS? Some kind of sea beast?

A few cool things:

I've RSS enabled The Basic Virus site, and added a link to this blog. I've also started to put the robot stuff on Clickwheel, which should hopefully get some more readers into it....this is all just a build up to the next big piece of news...

I've been invited to speak at the San Diego Comic-Con, arguably, the biggest, baddest collection of nerds like me on the planet, with a nice smaterring of Hollywood and NYC publishing people too, so it's a huge deal.

From the site:

"2:00-3:00 Clickwheel: Comics for Your iPod— It seems iPods are everywhere these days. They may be known for playing tunes, but did you know you can get comics for your iPod as well? Clickwheel’s Tim Demeter (Reckless Life), Chad Diez (Today: The Comic), and Joe Alterio (365) are a few of the creators pushing comics from the racks to the iTunes music store, and beyond. Join them for a discussion about the possibilities of comics for handheld media, digital delivery, and where to find comics for your shiny new gadgets. Room 1A"

If you get a chance or live in the area, or you're one of the loyal nerds that makes the annual trek, be sure to stop by and see me blabber on.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Episode 1!

Just a quick note to let you, my loyal readers, in a little seceret: Episdoe 1 is up at the Czech it out and let me know what you think. Considering I'lla ctually only be 'launching' before the ComicCOn at the end of this month, there's stil some time for changes. And check back soon, I'll be adding more stuff and polishing as it gets closer to Go Time.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sketchblog off the port bow!

I've been a bit lax on this blog lately; weddings, full time jobs, engagements. Let this be the first salvo in directing back towards where it should be. The sketchblog returns!

-Sketched/photoshopped on 6/13/06

Monday, June 05, 2006

Holy Smokes!

Molly and I are engaged! Huzzah!

(Image swiped off Paul Rogers site, which elicits a 'Holy Smoke' worthy exclamation in of itself.)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A (belated) cannon salute

Here's one for The Boys on Memorial Day. Couldn't have said it better meself.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Another good ship

I just added a new link to the right: my college friend Paula's blog, People Paula. She basically just dismantles the entertainment industry with razor sharp observations and insights, and its incredibly gratifying and damn funny to boot, way funnier than Joan Rivers could ever hope to be, and as a benefit, unlike Rivers, she doesn't look a botoxed, hatchet-faced Gorgon. So check it out.

** Wait, I'm getting a vision...I see....I see The 10 years.**

Whoa, that was weird.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Master Pilot

On our little trip last week, I had the opportunity to stop by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Western Mass. with Molly and Mom, and I was once again blown away. There's a tendency of 'artists' - and I use that term very loosely here - to look down on their nose at illustration, and the granddaddy of illustrators everywhere, Rockwell. And while I usually parse my words and try not to offend, this time, I just can't help it - these people are idiots. Yes, he's preachy and treacly and sentimental and old ladies have his prints on their fridge magnets. But anyone - anyone - that claims they admire art and it's subsequent necessary mastery of things like draftsmanship, composition, gesture, and color use, and then says they aren't blown away by Norman Rockwell are either total numbskulls, or have their heads so far up their art asses that they can see their own artsy fartsy tonsils. That's just the way it is, sorry.

These are most likely the same folks who also think this is really, really cool. Once again, these people are very, very stupid.

Monday, May 22, 2006

A sailor's dilemma

As you may or may not know, I'm a rabid poster fan, and my design sensibilities have been informed by all manner of poster art from the very begininngs. What I've been trying to accomplish visually with The Basic Virus is an homage to not only the ideas' beginnings in poster form, but to the simple, clean design concepts present in the early 20th centuries advertisements and billboards. Above is a frame from the Prologue of The Basic Virus, my new webcomic; before I get any further (Episode 1 is coming soon!) I'd like sound off about the difficulties of translating a design concept from a more antiquated medium to our current faster-cheaper-more-out-of-control way of making cool stuff, and maybe get a few helpful recommedations along the way.

Below is the firsy of two examples of the poster art I really love, both 'borrowed' off the fabulous site La Belle Epoque Posters, which I often surf in my off-hours and wistfully hope that a spare 3 grand has suddenly appeared in my bank account.

The first thing we can say is that, besides being executed by a draftsman superior to me, it's what seems to me a charcoal and chalk drawing on printmaking paper, turned even more vibrant in the litho process, while mine is clearly a product of Illustrator and Photoshop, on top of pen and ink. See how his whites are more evocative, his lights more blended, the sublte shading creating a greater sense of drama. And this is what bugs me. While I admit I'm not the greatest digital artist to stroll in face of the Earth, I consider myself competent enough in what I do. I'm troubled by the fact that it might just be that, lest I actually do every single one of my panels in the traditional manner, I may not be able to exactly duplicate the feeling I get when I look at these posters in my comics. And this bothers the hell out of me.

Here's another wonderful one, not only for it's similar use of the gradient shading, but it's straight up design sense. Man, don't you wish companies still paid for ads that look like this?

I'm OK that I can't duplicate these master's work: my work is my own, and I have my limitiations, like time and narrative pacing. But I'd really be blue if I thought that the feeling these give is unattainable in the digital world.

**Sorta unrelatedly, Clickwheel will be at the San Diego ComicCon this July, and invited me to tag along as a Contributing Artist: we might get to be on a panel and everything. How official. In any event, I'll be doing my darndest to get my sorry ass down there. Sweet!**

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Animatic? Comiccast? Podcomic? Avast!

I just got a message from T Campbell today that said that he went ahead and changed my keywords in iTunes from 'comiccast' to 'animatic' specifically because that's what Clickwheel is calling it, and we should all be on the same page as far as a searchable terms. This seems entirely reasonable to me, and I think I can give a little to get a little.

But this brings up an interesting point: what the hell do we call these things?

I've frankly been a little underwhelmed by the Web 2.0's nomenclature system. "Blog", for me is just a etemological laziness, and "Vlog" is just plain silly. But being one man with one very small 'blog', I can't really do anything about those.

But what we're doing here with these 'moving comics' is hefty enough that I think it does deserve it's own little word. The reason I have problem with 'animatic' is because, having come from animation and film, I know exactly what an 'animatic' really is, and my new...thing...'Fading Fast', is not an animatic. An animatic is a rough filmed storyboard of a film- or animation-in-progress. It helps the director and creators plan better for all the work that lays ahead: it's kind of a filmed blueprint. And while the camera moves may end up being similar, I think there's one weighty difference, and that is that, in a filmed comic, the story is MEANT to be told in this static format.

I'd hate to think that we're all just doing comics because we dont' have the time to do animation. Comics contain a special uniqueness which gives it power, and that is the resolution that takes place in reader's own mind: animation, god bless it, lays it all out for you. Hence, animatics are a stand-in for larger action that the creator is asking you resolve, only temporarily, and thus I think they're resolution jumps are less polished, because it's just for the creators, and everyone knows what it will look like in the end. A "moving comic" purposely (hopefully) has given much more thought to those transitions. Comics have the ability to much more powerful or touching or funny or whatever because the reader's mind is an implicit player in the medium.

So...animatic is out, for me at least. I was excited about the term 'comiccast', because I think it is technically correct: it is a broadcast of a comic, which, while besides being descriptive, brings up an awesome Buck Rogers image of the RKO tower shooting comics into outerspace (come to think of it: I'll be working on that image cool!). But it doesn't roll off the toungue, and like the creators of Kleenex will tell you, it's gotta be fun to say in order to catch on.

So I'm at loss. Any ideas out there? Hmmm...

(PS: I'm on the East Coast for a week for weddings and graduations and such, so I won't be updating for a bit...lemme know if you want to hook up.)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Boarding The iTunes vessel

My first comiccast, a translation of my comic Fading Fast, is gonna be available on iTunes starting tomorrow, courtesy the ever-supportive folks at Clickwheel. The age of podcomics in ramping up, where comics, animation, storytelling, sound design come together to form a new way of communication and art. And I have to give a shout out to the Clickwheel guys for pretty much getting behind whatever I do. Why can't everyone be this cool?

Check out the props here.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Land Ho!

It's up! It's hincky, there's things I need to fix, and other I need to change competely, but it's up!

Check it out.

I'll be correcting stuff and 'officially' launching in a week or so, but I thought I'd you, my loyal few readers, actually take a look. So tell me what you think, yo!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The OG Sailor

In my mad rush to complete this robot comic (Art's done! Just working on the interface now! Avast!), I've found a lot of solace in going back to one of my favorite artist, E.C. Segar, and his daily and Sunday strip, Thimble Theater. Best known as the creator of Popeye, I think his creations are one of those classic examples of a pop culture icon being so coopted by mainstream media, that it becomes a caricature of itself (I know, I know, I talking about cartoons here, but bear with me: the semantics of the artform can be addressed in a later post).

Popeye, just one (and I personally think one of the most banal)of Segar's incredible creations, is known these days as that squinty guy who eats spinach and has forearm gigantism. But the world he inhabited- Wimpy, The Seahag, The Goon (The Goon! Creepshow!), and the rest- is worth another examination, and, as always, I have to recommend the old school funny paper strips: the rehash in comicbook form in the 50s was just bunk. And while the Fleischer Studio cartoon translation of Popeye was interesting enough, it never could capture that dark, stark world of black background and sea monsters.

Below is an sample of the small strip that accompanied Popeye, (back when comic artists had a whole newspaper page to themselves!), called Sappo. It started out about the ever-abused husband Sappo, but rapidly really became about Professor Wotznoszzle and all his weird inventions. Check out that Z-Ray!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A Weak Hull

I know, I know. It's not up yet. All I can I say is, soon. Actually, that's the drive on this post.

I was looking for background elements for the comic tonight, and I stumbled across Kazu's Bolt City comic site and blog ( I had a passing knowledge of his comic, Copper, because it got a nod by Comixpedia last year as one of the 25 web comix to watch. He has a clean, light style, keeps his subject matter light, and has a great color sense and pallate. He colors like the old Mobius strips, in a way. He's a good artist, and he creates entertaining comics.

And I suddenly got very depressed.

I'm taking this blog in a different tone alluvasudden by getting a little personal here, but I can't help it. This really put me down. I don't even know what it was about the site, but the fact he's my age, he also went to film school, and he makes his living making great looking comics and showing off at ComicCons while I toil away in obscurity put a bit of a burr in my side.

Molly, my ever-present voice of reason, is right, or course. I don't know his story or responsibilites, I can't compare our situations, and everyone works at their own pace. She pointed out that I'm probably in the top 5% of comic artists that make regular money off my work. She's right of course. She's always right.

But I can't shake that sinking feeling of impending worthlessness. It makes every beer taste bitter and every nice spring day seem like another day wasted. All in the quest to...what...immortality?

All I can do is think of Henri Matisse's last words: "My only regret is that I never learned to draw."

And the robots, I promise, are coming. Hopefully this weekend.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

St. Elmo's Fire

OK, I know it's just a .gif thrown up with no UI, and there's nary a comic in sight. But ig go to the 'robotrev' site (or, as of now, the 'Basic' site) it should give you an idea as to where we goin'. Not too long, now.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Frog in the galley

So I just got hired as Blue Frog's full time print designer, which means I'm going to be doing a lot of design branding for various mobile services, which is cool for a few reasons, the best of which is that the design atmosphere there is very loose, and they really seem to want new ideas from smart young designers (ahem), so I can really stretch my creative legs, and get well compensated for it to boot. So hurrah for that.

In other news, I've already started to get fan email about the robot site. All I can say is: patience, my friends, patience. The wait will be worth it. Viva!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A glimpse of land

'ello, me hearties.

Just a quick peek to show you what I'm doing every night with my free time when I should be soaking myself in whiskey and grog, like every good sailor is bound to do.
This is a just snippet, I know, but take my word for it: The Robot Rev comic is coming together really well, looks outta sight, and I'm really excited. It also looks like I just may make the March deadline, if I hurry, and publish at 11:59 PM on the 31st.

Drink for me.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Troubling Horizon

I know I haven't launched the Robot Rev site yet, and I should have. There's just some story things that I'm still working out: there's a part of me that doesn't want to release anything until it's perfect. But I may have to. Stay tuned, but it ends up being a little late, don't be too mad, OK?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Speech from the Poopdeck

I often get waaay ahead of myself when talk about stuff. I speak about things I have no business speaking about, I philosphize off the cuff, and wax randomly as the neural firings occur in my head. This happened a couple of months ago, and I might as well address it here. This is a long one, sorry.

I was being interviewed by Traffic Magazine for a small piece on my comics, and the interviewer, Steve, got me up and dazzled by getting me to talk on the subject of art school, namely, that I never went. He wasn't being confrontational: it was just the way the conversation went. And this brought me back to something that my girlfriend Molly and I often discuss.

Full disclosure: I did not, in fact, ever go to art school, I went to film school. I took a ton of lifedrawing and illustration classes, but I never took any painting, collage, sculpting, and, perhaps most importantly, not Day Damn One of art history. Everything I know about famous artists and movements I've dumbed out by books from the library and going to museums. I am, for lack of a better phrase, Self-taught In Art, with all the weighty meaning that implies (see Walker Evans). While many of my friends are Artists with a capital A, I exist on the periphery, constanttly seeking to justify my prescence in galleries and shows of my goofy drawings by meekly overexplaining everything as the wine gets to my head.

And here's really the crux of the whole issue, and for me, where a relatively clear deliniation happens. I guess I could call it my War On Art School, and get away with it because I have a just cause, but I won't. Art school is cool, and I bet really fun. I just don't think it helps people make their own art. Before you angrily email, lemme explain.

I think I can, in a grand sweeping gesture, divide the world of creation into two camps: The Narrativists and The Academics. These two camps, while they flow together, attend the same events, admire many of the same people, and in some cases occupy the same person, are two very different ways of approaching the creative process.

For the Academics, the world is a linear progression. It's illuminated manuscripts to Michaelangelo to Caravaggio to Manet to Degas, etc. etc. Its a progression of human creativity and evolution. Its the furthering of humanity's continual quest to express ourselves into infinite ways. When one creates, one stands on the shoulders of the giants before, and each creative brick that one lays down in a step forward. Everyone is tied to everyone else through the delicate threads of history. If you're lucky and talented enough and know the right people, you get to be a big chunk of the wall, like a Rothko or a Warhol. This is, at it's base, a very logical, formal, and academic POV of art, and I think, for it's part, it's important. Art schools, for all their perceived anti-establishment reputation, cannot help but a part of this: they are, by their very nature, structured to inform and impart knowledge. They need to break information into digestable chunks; they have hundreds of impressionalable, young (perhaps one-day-famous) minds to give a sound footing in the art world to. And those goals are achieved well.

For the Narrativists, while these strings may exist, it doesn't matter. The Narrativists have odd dreams and the urge the get This Thing out of them RIGHT NOW. It's less about the formal process, and much more of a personal experience of art: "I saw these two people fighting outside, and it stuck with me so much I have to write about it or it will eat me up". And don't be decieved by the name. The "Narrativists" need not be not writers or filmmakers; they may be abstract painters or jazz trumpters. However, they are actually in the end, still just telling one story, and that is their own, over and over again. It comes out in different ways, in a mud phase or a Cassavetes phase, but it is the inner dialogue in their heads that they are constantly trying to keep up with.

Let me say I don't think one is 'better' than the other, but I do think you're more one than the other, and that Narrativists get a raw deal sometimes. I can take a very small view of this in my own inconsequtial opinion and exterpertise, and that's in drawing, or more specifically, comics. For the academic comic artists, it's about pushing the envelope in terms of sequential art, doing what hasn't been done before, making a sly allusion to Will Eisner while spinning their own craft. But they can't draw worth a lick. And then there's a great Narrativist artist who may not be doing the 'different' thing, but each story he/she writes MEANS something to them first and foremost.

I land solidly in the Narrativist camp, if only because I don't really get the Academic side. But I'm tired of feeling like a lesser artist because I don't know why I'm doing it, I just know I have to. In my defense, I think my film studies gave me a much better insight to what I want to do than any art history course.

I'm gonna make a sweeping generalization here, considering I've never even been to art school, but it's my blog, dammit. And I think art school drums into the heads of the students the Academic way and dampens the Narrativist side, namely because it's so unteachable. And I think that's a real shame. It makes the kids focus too closely on What Came Before, which, while I guess is interesting enough, isn't what I at least think is the really great stuff. The great stuff is the stuff that makes you cry as you make it. That makes you sick to your stomach to get it out and on the page. The stuff makes people looking at it or listening to it catch their breath and have to sit down. Now that's art.

One example, then I'll shut up: Steely Dan is one of most respected bands out there: their arrangements are perfect and intellectually stimulating. But I'd rather listen to The Sonics pluck out the same three chords on Louie Louie any day of the week.

If you got this far, congrats. I promise I won't do that often.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A few good sailors

Just a quick promotion for a couple of friend's blogs, linked at your right: my friend Ed's, one of my oldest friends and rabid Boston Celtics fan, and Kevin Obsatz's vlog. Kevin is such a talented narrativist (more on this later) that he can't help but be successful at what he does: these little video snips prove this.
So check 'em out, I say to ye.

...And Around The Horn

So my Clickwheel downloads just passed by 2K, which I'm really excited for. I won't blather on too much, but it's just really gratifying that someone you don't know is not only seeing your work, but coming back for more: that's the most important thing to me right now. As a wicked smart friend of mine once said, "The monetary reward comes later: make everyone see what you see first."

Shucks, I'd die happy if it stopped right there.