Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Its been a while since my last post as its been a super busy fall season for me. I started teaching my Illustration class again in the PAFA High School Program, this is my 5th year teaching the class and this year's class is probably the biggest I've taught so far, swelling to 40 students some weeks. That's quite a big number of students to teach, and a real workout for sure for myself as well as my two teaching assistants. The students run the gamut from the merely interested to the serious student working on portfolio pieces for their upcoming applications to various art schools. Each student is charged with coming up with a project to work on, it can be a comic, character design or an illustration of some sort. I give them help and tips for coming up with ideas and then a plan for taking the ideas from comps or thumbnails to finished work.
                                           Wood Street 12 x 16 Oil Available at Rodger LaPelle 

While that was going on I took part in the Plein Air Burlington with my crew from the PPAP and then we as a group were also asked to take part in the Old City Festival in October and painted along the festival route in Old City in Philly.

                            One of the two paintings I progress that I did along busy 3rd Street

On top of all of that I also have been keeping up on the Judge Parker strip and have pulled in a few guest inkers for the Sunday Strips.

              This Sunday was penciled by me and guest inked by my best buddy Bret Blevins

                          This Sunday was penciled by me and guest inked by Jerry Ordway

I was really excited and happy to have both Bret and Jerry help me out on some deadline gaining by pitching in on the inks on these two Sunday strips, they did an awesome job, especially having to ink form Blue Line printouts and not the original pencils due to the schedule.

On top of all of this I was also a guest speaker in  the writing class my buddy Jamar Nicholas teaches at Drexel University last Tuesday. I brought in a large selection of my comic and animation work to show the class, talked about my career and the "ins and outs" of comics and animation.

Then I did a live breakdown and layout from Dan Ingman's script, a nice young guy and aspiring writer is one of the students in the class that Jamar chose for me to work with.

I explained my thought process on adapting the script live as I worked, the difference between full script and plot and I laid out the same page in two versions and explained why I chose the shots/angles in each version and how that effected the feel and flow of the page; the need to understand how comics flow visually and that every writer needs to be able to lay out a comic page even if their drawing is terrible. You can lay out a page in a six panel grid on a single sheet of paper and that will give them an idea of how the script translates and becomes a comic page and the real estate and flow of a narrative and how the art/balloons an narrative really must share the space and work together.

A script is very abstract until it is locked down on a page--and it can be interpreted in a variety of ways depending on the artists adapting them.  Time flew by and it was fun and before I knew it it was over. Next week I'll be a guest critic for the students in the PAFA Illustration program at school.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Baltimore Commissions

 Here are a bunch of recent commissions done for fans before, during and after the Baltimore Comicon. If you are interested in one contact me:mike(at)actionplanet.com

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Judge Parker Process and Inktober Starts

 Here is the latest Judge Parker Sundays strip in the pencils and inks phases for the start of November, It certainly feels like November instead of October this Saturday with the Nor' easter and Hurricane off the coast blowing a cold, damp and gusty breeze and rain against my studio window. I guess its time to take the air conditioner out of the window for the season.
 This is a rest week strip as I call it, a strip that straddles sections of the long-arc stories Woody writes that might take a year or more at times to wrap up. We are now set to deal with what I assume will be the Neddy and Sophie story lines dealing with the new business and the romantic entanglements booth Spencer Girls are going to be dealing with. Neddy with hank and the biz and Sophie with Derek, who was last in the strip in 2011 with a storyline about guitar lessons and seduction.

That's four  years ago in our time but not a year yet in JP strip time as Sophie hasn't changed grades yet, gone to a dance or anything else---even a band practice or cheerleader practice nor celebrated a birthday. So for me its still 2010 strip time and I figure still spring? I know there are lots of "give mes" in comic strips, especially this strip. However many of the old classic strips did pay attention to the seasons like On Stage or Juliet Jones. I like drawing winter scenes but haven't had a chance except for one Christmas strip. So the spiky hair of Justin Bieber circa 2011 will still be in.

My art has also progressed in style and comfort on the strip in that time, though my deadlines are still pretty tight. But that's the life of a strip cartoonist!

I have also started to participate again in the Inktober Drawing fest started by Jeff Parker last year. here is my first doodle done last night while watching Bill Maher. Don't know if i can do 30 drawings but i will do as many as my schedule allows.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Judge Parker Process

Here is another week of dailies for Judge Parker in the process of me inking them. It was a week of mostly talking heads as the main characters of the strip are reintroduced and share info that is basically a jump on point for new readers or a way for fairly new readers to get on the train of the new story line of Neddy's Factory.

This story line has been running over a year now as you can see by the Sept, 19th strip from last year. Looking back over that year I would say less than 2 weeks have transpired in strip time, maybe only a week. The Parkers were on the Hell trailer park vacation which lasted 3-4 days strip time but easily 3/4 of a year in strips.  They have been back 2 days, released the dude and now are dealing with Sam's retirement, which was announced a few days before the vacation. Sometimes its hard even for me to stay on top all of the time issues because a year or more might happen between story points. In strip time not even a year or a change of seasons has happened since my run on the Judge started. I know this type of thing doesn't matter to 99% of the people who read the strip, but I try and keep this all in my head so I can keep continuity steady, even things like hair length on the women.

I inked a lot of this current week with the Hunt 108 nib which is great for hair, a main feature of this strip--good hair! As much as I try and draw sexy women with ample cleavage for the "readers' interested mostly in those angles, something that I carried over from the previous strip artists, a lot of this strip ends up being talking heads so drawing good hair is a big part of the sexiness or appeal.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

DRAW! 31 at the Printers

DRAW! #31 (80 FULL-COLOR pages, $8.95), the professional “how-to” magazine on comics and animation, busts some new moves, Philadelphia Freedom style! It features how-to's and demos by Philly area artists JG Jones (52, Final Crisis, Wanted, Batman and Robin) and Khoi Pham (The Mighty Avengers, The Astonishing Spider-Man, The Mighty World of Marvel). Plus regular contributor Jamar Nicholas gives his reviews of art supplies, and we finish this jam-packed issue with Jerry Ordway (demonstrating the "ORD-way" or drawing) and Comic Art Bootcamp by Draw! editor Mike Manley (another local Philly resident) and Bret Blevins. Grab a side of cheese fries, and enjoy this artistic belly buster!

Burlington Plein Air 15

Its a taken a few days for the dust to settle around here so that I could do a nice wrap-up of the Burlington Plein Air 15 and my participation in it along with my Philadelphia Plein Air friends.
                                      Here I am with my paintings entered for the judging

One of the nice things about this years event was the three weeks we were given to come and go and execute our paintings in the city of Burlington, NJ. This was great as it allowed me to fit the painting days into my schedule with work as well as carpool with Alina and Will and co-ordinate with Charles to do both day and night painting.
Alina and I were set up at the corner of Union which had a steady crowd of lottery buyers who kept parking and blocking our view off and on.

This years event was hosted by 28 East Gallery and its owner Melanie Pease and was limited to 30 artists and you were limited to entering three pieces each, but you could do as many paintings as you wanted. There were a lot of prizes available from the city, the Lyceum, Dick Blick, Jerry's and more. The judge even handed out several extra Honorable Mentions.

The weather overall was great for the times I was able to get out to paint and even if it was a bit warm, it was still nice and I was always able to find a shady spot for the most part but sometimes had to call it a day when the sun started hitting me in the face.

My pochade box was a dream to work with and its the best money I have spent as a painter on an easel, it made painting on location so much easier compared to lugging my old and heavy French easel about with its gangley legs ready to fail or pitch over!

I have been to Burlington several times and was fairly familiar with some of the city, but I did use google maps street view to cruise the city block by block to really scout locations to save time and gas while there and maximize painting time--which as you know as a plein air painter is always running.

                                                          Afternoon Break 12 x 12 Oil
This also meant arriving and choosing a view that would last long enough to paint in the 3-4 hours we'd have for each painting. When I first started landscape painting I raced the sun but didn't plan the times well to go out. Now I do and so some spots while good subjects were not good at the time I was there to paint.

                                                              Wood Street 12 x 16 Oil

Of course when painting out in public we always had a lot of on-lookers, interested and curious people and the word had spread about the painters being in town again this year. Of course certain members of our party always garnered more interest than others, which made painting a lot more difficult for her.

I did five paintings over the three weeks, I wish I had done more but I just had too much work, but I did attempt one night painting which I flamed out on. I bought a headlamp to use but it was actually so bright it glared off the painting making it very difficult to see. I also probably did it too big, 16 x 20, which increased the difficulty. So I will have to work on that arrangement and technical aspect here at home to get the lighting right before I attempt another night painting.


I never feel better than when I'm out painting and totally absorbed in the process, trance-like yet conscious of the sun's march. The last painting day I arrived a bit later than I hoped and drove around and found many good spots but I just wasn't satisfied till I found this view. Much like the painting Milkshake this view had some story/narrative to it with the truck parked and at the time people working in the yard. I rushed to get going and just as the truck was blocked in on the painting, the owner drover it off, but I made color notes and mixed it on the palette because I knew the truck might leave at any time. I would return home after each paint-out totally drained yet charged by the experience, and wishing I didn't have to juggle so much, but that's my life!

One of the things about these competitions for me is picking views and subjects that are interesting for me to paint as opposed to trying to paint something that might look good as a standard view of a building or street scene. Trying to guess what the judges might like. Most painters go for a conventional view, which is fine, paint what you want, but its the reason I didn't submit my painting of the little wrecked boat in Curtain's Marina. I figured (and was right) several other artists also painted that same boat. Go for something different was on my mind. Burlington has a sense of time passed and a melancholy akin to many eastern cities like Philly, a very "Hopperesque" aroma. That really attracts me.

I am so happy my friend Alina won best in show and Charles took second place. Thats two PA competitions in a row they both won something and as a whole I think our work really stood out from the other paintings in the show, I can see each individual's personality but also the influence of our school and teachers too in the way our work is painted.

Charles Newman

 Two by William Sentman

                                                          Another of Alina's paintings
The reception was nice and I chatted with many of the participating painters most from the nearby area as we snacked on cookies, wine and cheese. So I hope to do this show next year and it sounds like it was a big success and enjoyed by all who participated and its nice to have a local show that isn't 3-4 hours drive each way.