Thursday, March 31, 2005

Darkhawk revisited

Here is a page from my work on Darkhawk back in the early 90's for Marvel.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Turtle Process

Here you get to see a page in production from beginning to end. This is a page from the upcoming TMNT #14 which I am woking on with Ric Remender. Since Ric was pressed for time due to his schedule, there are a few pages I am doing more finished art on.

First we start with Ric's layout, which was draw by him in marker, scanned into his computer and printed out in non-repro blue ink full comic size at 10 X 15 and printed on 2 ply Bristol, smooth surface paper ( which I darkend here to show you the viewer better) and Fedexed to me along with the rest of the pages.

Next I went in after reviewing the plot which Ric included and tightened up the page, also looking at the other pages Ric had sent for the issue. I did a quick Google search with my laptop which sits on my drawing table right in front of me, and found a baboon baby pic for ref for the baby on this page.

Next I go straight in on the inks. I don't pencil that tight for myself, just enough to get the structure down, I want to keep the inking stage "active' and do a lot of my drawing while I ink. I inked with pen first, a Hunt 103, and then went in with a brush, a Langnickle #3 sable

Then it's pretty much straight forward from here, I finish the details in pen and then go in with the brush and fill my blacks, also going over certain lines I initially put down with a pen and BOLD them up to help pull a form forward, or seperate it from the background, etc. I do all the Kirby Krackles with a Speedball lettering pen, a B-6 I think...I look for tangents and to make sure the background and figures read well against each other. Once I am satisfied I erase the page and scan it in to my Mac and clean it up in Photoshop. It's there I add the stars...and I'm done!

Monday, March 28, 2005

Jut a doodle for the moment...more later.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Easter Sunday

BLARG! Not being religious and certainly not a christain after 9 years of catholic school as a non-catholic [though I am spritual in some reguards] Easter stopped having any meaning after being a little kid and the chocolate and egg dying days were past me. And even as a kid I always thought it was a boring holiday. No cool Christmas special, No Santa, heat Mieser, Winter Wizard or Bumble. No cool ghouls and monsters, fucking Frankenstien fer christ's sake like Halloween, and Halloween even has way better candy, if you bite something it bleeds! And halloween has candy corn! Friggin teeth rotting candy corn!

Easter has no "coolness to it". Jezuzz isn't cool, sorry, we all know it. Not like the gods of old, with cool animal heads and lightning bolts. Nope, just a robe, not even a magic hammer. Nope, a robe. Face it the party is over, the ship has sailed. You can eat meat again, masturbate and do all the things you denied yerself durning lent. How silly really. A tough god would smite off yer prick if he wanted you to give up humiliating your Iraqie prisioner for 40 days. Set a fucking exampe he would.

Easter is "gay", the "gay" my students call things when they find them dumb..., just fuck'n Bunnies and dead rising Lords. Funny, Easter seems the "gayest" of all holidays with fruity little chicks and bunnies, chocolate and dyed eggs. A rainbow of colors! A holiday for 9 year old girls. Oh how cute, soft and cuddley. Big he-man war monger christians should shun such a gay holiday...there is no olive drab or a strong red, no enemy confusing's almost as gay as "gay Disneyland day". No, no...Jezuzzz wouldn't approve at all. This is all too Christopher Lowell! " Jezuzz here big G, One to beam up . Too don't ask don't tell for me."


Saturday, March 26, 2005

Monster Saturday!

A warm up sketch of Monsterman. lots of chores to do I may post more art later.

Friday, March 25, 2005


Yes, Brush-ups. [Calithenics for the Brain-hand-brush connection.] Like Push-ups, but with a brush. Everyday before working on pages I take a bit of time and draw directly on paper, loose sheets mostly, 11 x 17 or even 8 x/1/2, warming up with free-hand drawing with the pen and brush to 'warm-up' the Mike Machine. It's about control and confidence. The most important skills you have to have as an artist, especially if one is inking, besides being able to draw well, is absolute control over your tools and the subtle manipulations of the pen and especially the brush, the brush being harder to learn to control; but it's the best most flexible instrument.

You must control the tool, not the tool control you.

So like an athlete or a musician pratice, practice, practice is a must. Each day's work adds to your skill level. If you don't practice it's simple--you'll suck! You'll be afraid and that fear will cause you to make a mistake! You can't erase ink as easily as pencil, so confidence gives me the ability to work directly without worrying I'll mess up.

If I added up all the hours I have spent using pens and brushes since I was about 13 years old and serious about becoming a professional cartoonist it would be 1/3 of my lifetime I'm sure. I love to draw and draw all the time. The absolute confidence I have with my skill-set when it comes to inking, (drawing in ink) comes from my endless dedication to practice, study and maintaining my skills and pushing mysel to get better. I think I get better and better, a little bit at a time now, not the great leaps I had when 20 years younger, but I still strive to get better with my tools. Everytime I do something I didn't before or pull off something I feel good about, I feel like I have won another level, another stair on the climb up Art Mountain.
Today's warm-ups

Primavera Terra

The Brandywine Creek slowly sloshes down to the Delaware, swollen and drunk with the spring rains and winter melt. It waddels past the intersections of RT 1 and RT 100 ( where I snapped this pic while lunching with a friend) across the road and next to the Brandywine River Museum, perminent home to the art of the Wyeths, Howard Pyle and other painters from Delaware and Philadelphia area. You could smell the moist earth opening and releasing it's winter kept moisture into the air. Spring is here, and I can't wait.

 Being from Michigan I am used to old man Winter's harsh backhand, but frankly, even though his sting here in Philly is generally milder, I am tired of his antics after the first snowfall. White Christmas and then begone! I long for palm trees of San diego and Arizona, the kiss of the sun on my left arm hanging on the car door as I drive, B-B-Q's, girls in summer dresses and tank tops, the summer con season and my usual southwest vacation afterwards. If this year is like most here, spring will be about 4 weeks until the 80+ degree weather cooks up the area fast.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Today's offerings

Here are two sketches for today, done just for the heck of it to warm up the noggin and hand for paying work.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Tuesday's Doodles

Here are a bunch'a doodles out of my sketchbook. Some were actually done out of boredom while sitting at the Mega-con last month.

and a bigger image

All done direct in ink, no under-drawing.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Doodles and commission

Here is a doodle and a commission for today's post. This grey spring day here is making me feel a bit sluggish, more like taking a nap than working, but I'm trying to catch up on and finish every single straggling commission I have in-house.

See a bigger version here.

And a bunch of warm up doodles

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Here is an original ad for Kellogs by Albert Dorne one of the most successful illustrators of all time, and founder of the Famous Artist School.
I've been a huge fan of his work for a long time and was so happy to win this piece in auction recently. You can see a bigger scan here. The comic strip format was employed often by Dorne as well as many other advertising artists and agencies through the 30's to the 50's. Dorne was a big influence on John Buscema and many comic artists of that great generation.

Friday, March 18, 2005

SCI-FI Fridays

Ok, I will say right off the bat I watched the cheesy Battle Star Galactica in the 70's when it came out. A good friend of mine even built a full scale replica of the Galactica itself in his basement, complete with lights and such. He of course went on to be a co-author of Photoshop and a big wig at ILM. John Knoll is his name...but I digress.

Anyway I saw the mini-series of movie of Galactica last year. I caught it on a night where I was bored after work and surfing. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. I really liked the effects and the acting and story was a smart updating of the old show. I guess you could say I'm a sci-fi fan to a degree having loved the first Star Wars ( Until Jedi) and reading lots of Niven, Asimov, Heinlein, Philip K. Dick etc as a teenager. I was never into sci-fi just for sci-fi's sake like some people I knew. I liked Star Trek, but Next Gen was never a fave, neither the DS9 etc. Voyager held my interest for about 2-3 seasons and then I gave up on it and I never warmed to Enterprise, watching only maybe 3 eps. Boring! I was expecting it to be like the first Trek, and instead it was generic alien-forehead of the week BS.

The other shows on the Sci-Fi channel never appealed to me. Stargate is always confusing, never liked Bablyon Five either. Rather watch old Lost in Space or Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea re-runs. ( which they don't show anymore) So all this to say I really find Galactica well paced, pretty well acted for TV, and it holds my attention, entertains me without insulting me. It makes me want to see the next episode...something 95% of TV doesn't.

I like it's sort of NYPD-hand-held camera work on the effects, that makes them unique, and the effects are great for TV! The dog fights etc., just he way teh ships are renderd, the CGI is impressive, you can tell they are spending some $$ here. The style or cinematography is crossed with a definite darker sensability more akin to X-Files than a glam version of Star Wars..or Logans run. The music is also really good and very different from the original and sets a great atmosphere and tone. Music I think is often overlooked as an important factor in storytelling and mood on a show. Also the fact that there are so many strong interesting female cast members is a joy as well. The hot Cylon ( Tricia Helfer), Boomer ( Grace Park), the hot but a bit fleshy Starbuck ( Katee Sachoff) who reminds me of many old midwetern gals I knew in Michigan and President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) who's fragile beauty holds an inner strenght book ended by the stoic Edward James Olmos as Gen. Adama.

I've caught a few episodes or bits of Star gate:Atlantis which preceeds Galactica and there is just no comparison. Stiff, dry, set ladden, dull lighting..stilted acting...I never know who's fighting what..blah. Even though Galatica is set laidden to a point, you don't feel that way because of how it's set up and lensed, unless they director wants you to feel trapped, or the claustraphobic feeling of being stuck on a ship. I look forward to the season finale, and will miss it until season two starts.

More Barbie

While cleaning off the hard drive I came across this scan of an unused piece that I think was for the cover to the Barbie Paint-With-Fun coloring book I did.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


After reading Alberto's latest funny almost comic-tragedy post on his Process Junkie blog, I decided to post one of my weird old strips from my late teens. This was a pure pot induced stream of conciousness romp, and as you can see the story started loosing steam as my pre "420 friendly" freeform experiment faded to scribbles. KIDS, DON"T DRAW HIGH! Initially I was sort of inspired by Crumb's strips as well as having read that Moebius would do these stream of conciousness strips or stories. In the end it was just an excuse to smoke refer! Like I needed any... I did a few more strips like this and if I find them I will post them as well.

See the full-scale horror here.


A quick snap-shot of my desk while I was working on a rush job. I got a job through my pal Dan Panosian to do a series of game figures based on the Teen Titans. This meant I had to do 3 views, font, backa and side for each character. The job came into my studio about 5:30 and was due by noon the next day. So it was a late nite, early morning to get them done.

You can see the final images HERE: 1 
2 3 4 5.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Self portrait

A quick charcoal self portrait I did last nite to relax after a quick commercial rush job.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Let's call the whole Thing off...

The stink is on! I saw this pic of the Thing from the upcoming FF movie while surfing the last few days, and it just sucks soooo bad! I hear through the grape vine that the effects house is struggling to make the effects work, especially on the Torch. I wish they'd just decide to scrap the whole thing now. I don't need to see another bad comic based movie. Catwoman, which I refuse to ever see is enough bad for 5 movies. The trailer for the FF movie brings back visions of that old hacky Spidey TV series. The fantastic Four is something that will either work brilliantly, like The Incredibles, or not like Elektra. marvel should be very worried that this bomd will kill their momentum at the BO. It's obvious they had this "thing" wrong from the start. Once again the brains in Hollywood think they know better than the artist, writers and fans that have kept the FF going since 1961. The excuse that will come fast and quick when the stink hits hard will never be able to cover this turd.

They will never make a movie that can touch the hem of The Incredilbles...the best FF movie we will ever see.

Sunday, March 13, 2005


I have a lot of crap up in my attic. The scene at the end of the first Raiders of the Lost Arc is probably the best discription. Stuff I've been carrying and collecting since I was 13 or so, each year the pile growing. This is a hazard of being an artist and a bit of a pack-rat, which most artist I know are. Since a few people expressed interest in the coloring book stuff I already posted, I thought I'd add a few more selections from the past. I'm in the weekly process of clearing out a lot of the junk I have because I want to move soon, and I can't take half this stuff with me, nor do I want it either. It's a painful weeding-out process...

Anyway here are some more examples of my coloring book work from the 80's.


and a bigger version HERE.

The Mattel people were super-picky about Barbie. Personally I think she's a shallow plastic bitch...
One coloring book was all I could take. There were a ton of little changes to the art. The colors were a pigment printed on that when wet with a brush and water allowed the girls to 'watercolor" the art. I remember having a Yogi Bear coloring book using the same process when I was a kid.

Saturday, March 12, 2005


I came across this 20 year old drawing this weekend while spring cleaning. It's from a "activity book" aka a coloring book I did for the toy line and TV show Dino Riders. I used to do many such books for Western Publishing back in the day of Billy idol and Cyndi Lauper. I don't know why this one illo was not used. A very nice drawing a 4 year old can fill in with a strong black swirls of crayon. I still have the toys I bought to use for ref to draw the books packed away in my attic.


Here are a few quick 30 second gestures done this week while teaching my figure drawing classes at DCAD.
Sometimes I get a chance to do a few drawings myself from the model or do a few to show the students a certain point or lesson. There is nothing like returning to life drawing to refresh your well as a artist. It's also very important I think to keep you grounded and refresh. The model didn't show this week so the students and I took turns modeling for the class...

This one was drawn with a marker that was sort of drying out...

Friday, March 11, 2005


The cover for the final issue of KILLER STUNTS, the four issue mini-series I'm inking for Alias. Pencils by Scott Cohn and then my inks and Scott again on colors. This was again inked on a blue-line printout of the pencils, sent as a stuffed Photshop file via e-mail from Scott, which I converted to non-photo blue (as a monotone) in Photoshop CS. This was a rush job (aren't they all) due to the Diamond Previews deadline which is today. This was turned around on my part in about 3 hours. Mostly inked with a no. 3 brush (the explosion, some figures, mostly feathering ) a .35 rapidoliner (figures small details)and a 03 Pigma marker(buildings, girl's hair)

DRAW! 10 Preview

Here is a bit of a PREVIEW from DRAW! 10 by Alberto Ruiz from his tutorial on Adobe Illustrator.


A zaftig Wonderous Woman drawn by me and inked by Jamar Nicholas.

I haven't had much time in the last two days between teaching and working on deadline to update the blog. But I am doing a brief update tonite. I just finished inking the 4th and final cover for KILLER STUNTS which I'll post sometime twomorrow. I also have a couple of commissions to bust out that are burning up my drawing board, so I'll post those too.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Bigger version HERE.
Not much going on today..well, maybe that isn't true, but I'm struggling with an album cover design. Sometimes taking a job comes back to bite you in the ass.

Meanwhile Old-Man Winter hard-knuckled us again today in Philly. Dam I can't wait till 70 degree weather!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Warm-up doodles

Here is a warm-up doodle from this morning, colored up quick in Photoshop.

You can see a bigger image HERE.

Ugh...Monday many of you reading this I drug my sorry ass outta' bed this am about 8:45 to face the whirl wind that is Monday. Much to do this week, especially work on the book Acting with a Pencil with Bret. Also have to finish inking a few Turtles pages, design a album cover for a friend's group and do my TAXES....UGH indeed!

One week ago I was in stormy Orlando Flordia at Mega-con, getting to sit and chat with charming, pretty boothmates--and no, I don't mean Bret!


A few weeks back hung my classes work in the student show at DCAD where I teach Drawing for Animation and Storyboarding & Storytelling, and this semester Figure Drawing for Animation and Illustration on Wednesdays. Last semester's big project was to do a comic story, at least 4 pages long. Most of my students had never ever done a comic story before, some hadn't even read many comics, but in the end they all did really great stories for their first time. I made them do it old school, pen and brush, no markers...markers are for whimps!
Check out a bigger image HERE

DCAD is a fairly new school and is sort of a pilot or co-op by Pratt, and has a great highly motivated faculty. It's a 2 year school in the center of Wilmington Delaware,
about 30 miles south of Philly, which is a rough city trying to revitalize itself. The school itself is housed in a great old Deco building which used to house the Wilmington Electric Co. at one time. I have a great group of kids who take my "tough love" well, and all have really improved from the beginning of class last August. I learn a lot about myself as an artist and about art as I teach them...I learn all over again..which is great. Here are a few more pics...the fine art classes and the design classes and one on my students Davy posing next to his story.

Mike M

Sunday, March 06, 2005


Finally my favorite TV show from last year DEADWOOD returns to the airwaves, or cablebox tonite on HBO. DEADWOOD is just about the best TV can get, I think it was better than the Sopranos last year. Ian McShane plays the most riviting, complex villian ever. McShane as Swearengen make Dr. Doom look like Dr. Smith. McShane's protrayal is so beautifully written and his acting so flawless, complex and compelling, you forget he's a fictional character--his phyco blastfurnace powers this hour-long drama. On one hand you hate him as Al Swearegen, fear him too, like a cocked gun aimed at your head in the dark, but somehow you sort of feel sorry for him and like him despite his evil ways at the same time. His motivations are always clear, CONTROL,profit and power. Timothy Olyphant is like a new Eastwood, taunt, terse and harboring a past he strains to contain, like a pot boiling over each week you see a bit spill out. Trixie, played by Paula Malcomson almost makes an honest man feel it might be worth the small pox for a fling! I think she is the strongest person on the show, stronger than Al, because she risks the most. And this is the only thing beside U-turn I ever liked Powers Booth in.

The Blue Ink process

Because the deadline was so tight Scott penciled the last page of Killer Stunts and e-mailed it to me as a tiff file. I downloaded and unstuffed it, then converted his greyscale image into non-photo blue by first converting it into RGB, then into INDEX COLOR. The next step is to convert the greys in the CUSTOM setting into the non-photo blue. This then turns the drawing into a non-phot blue version of the pencils.
The next step is for me to retsart my G4 into Classic, or 9.2, since my version of Quark isn't OSX compatable ( not spending the $cake$ for a new version until I have too).

In Quark I have a template all set up for comic page size so I can print the pages out on my Epson Photo 1200, which prints tabloid size.

The next step is to first print out a test image, which I do to make sure everything is running fine and I don't waste a lot of ink or paper.

Once that's done I go into the drawing studio ( I have two seperate studios, one with the computer, scanner, printer and copy machine, etc.) Now I'm ready to ink!

Here are my tools. Pretty basic stuff, a triangle, french curves, #3 brushesm rapidoliners, and a Hunt 103. I use two seperate ink bottles, fresh ink for the pen, and older thicker ink for the brush. When the pen ink gets too thick I dump it into the brush ink.

That's it!

Saturday, March 05, 2005


I'm inking two issue of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles over Rick Remender's pencils ( Doll and Creature, Sea of Red, Strange girl and 25 other comics! This kid is on fire!! I'm just about done with the first issue. Rick has a cool way of working where he does his layouts small, scans them into his 'puter. Then he enlarges the page to proper original art size ( 10 x 15) and prints his layouts out on 2 ply bristol in non-photo blue, then tightens up his pencils over his layouts. You can see the blue on the page below.

When I ink the pages and erase the pencils the blue won't show when I scan the pages and send them to the folks at Mirage Studios.