Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Island..3 stars

I saw The Island last night, Mike bay's new flick. One thing you can say about bay is that he is consistent. He gives you what he advertises, action , action, action.

Now this movie owes much to Logan's Run, the cheesy 70's flick starring Michael York. I enjoyed that film as well, saw it when it came out in it's intial theatrical release and it's a guilty pleasure I watched again in the last six months on cable, a fun fantasy trip like the origional Planet of the Apes movies. And Bay takes a stab a bit at reality TV too. I think the film is shot great/edited/lit well, and the production design is good too.

The movie is pretty good over all and I was entertained, but like most movies the 3rd act is the weakest and hurts the film. My pal Jamar was spot on with his comment that the last scenes with the clones exiting the facility in their white jumpers , out into the desert looked like a "I want to teach the world to sing" Coke Commercial, camera endlessly spinning, spinning, spinning. You could hear a audible "what the f..." and laughter from many in the audience. Not good for you as a movie maker when this happens.

There is good humor and lots of fun eye candy, impossible action, sun streaked dusty sets and locations, high contrast film shots. Bay always gives you good, well staged action, something that was clearly lacking in recent action fests such as Batman. Good performances by all the cast, Ewan Mcgregor, Scarlett Johansson, Sean bean, Djimon Hounsou and the ever enjoyable Steve Buscemi who seemed to have fun. There are no plot twists really, it all seems pretty straight forward, but you now sometimes a well carfted, mostly predictable and told fun candy-action story is OK if you just want a nite out of the house at a movie. If I could have rewritten the last 20 minutes of the film, fixed that it would go from a 3 star to a 4 star easily. The weakest part of the film was actually the soundtrack. It sounded like it was made up of left over tracks from Pearl Harbor, it droned on way too much, very sad sounding and to my taste not approprite.

If you can't see this movie at a matinee, it will be a good renter.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Back to normal..or the New Normal

Boy, just catching up here at ACTION PLANET central on all of the things one puts off or falls behind on due to traveling and vacation. Bills, cleaning, decisions, decisions. School starts in a month at DCAD, but since this will be my 3rd year teaching, it will be easier since I have material already prepared. I'll be teaching a night class or CE class on cartooning and comics as well as my two day classes,Storyboarding and Storytelling and Drawing for Animation. I'd like to get in some regular weekly figure drawing, life drawing too. I feel the need to really buckle down more, get more personal with my work, less commercial, less matching other "house-show" styles. I also have another project that could be really huge, maybe the biggest thing I've ever done, but I can't really talk about it yet as it's in developement stage. This project, if it takes off could cause a huge life change as well as a move. When I have a clear idea of it's assurance, I'll spill the beans.

This last trip out west to the galleries along with the convention has really had me doing a lot of thinking about where I'll be steering the ship of life in the future. I hope to expand my magazine Draw! Onto the newstand next year to get around the direct market which sucks major donkey balls. Over and over at the con I heard " Wow, love DRAW!, but my retailer can't/won't get it". The fact is the direct market is mostly made up of guy's who order only what you see in Wizard. Draw! isn't about that type of work. No broken backed ho's, no over rendered phot-traced crap or disappearing feet 80's retread. So I want to reach escape vilocity and get on the newstands where I can reach a mass audience, grow circulation like the regular art magazines do like American Artist, Artist International, Southwest Art etc.

I will be putting more time into personal work, drawing and painting, and yes some comics, a few of which I hope will make it to Baltimore and SPX. I'm going to try printing out limited numbers of my Epson in color. Manley mini-comics. I'll still do my GIRL PATROL and Trax Rover as small run regular comics. I'm specing them out with short run printers now. All of this is pretty liquid right now so I'm just moving ahead and I'll adjust as I need to.

It looks like I'll return to boarding on Venture Brothers season II next month as well. So I'm going to be busy, but hopefully busy only working on things I like. I am very interested to try and break into the gallery scene after spending so much time studying and visiting galleries in the last few years. I'll be setting up some still lifes at home over the next few weeks for practice. if I like what I do. I'll post some here.

Thursday, July 28, 2005


I came across this scan today while backing up some stuff off the old hard drive, it's a late 80's drawing I did of my pal Bret Blevin's character BOZZ, a mini-series he did for Marvel. I was totally into trying to use a rag to ink the sky which I had recently learned from my friend Ricardo Villagran.


Here is one of the pages inked and toned from the pencils I posted.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Last of the TMNT

Here are the two pages I had to pencil for the last issue of the Turtles I am doing with Rick Remender. Rick was pressed for time so I penciled this two page sequence myself. I'm inking them now and will tone them asap as this issue goes to press any second now.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Arizona Sunset

A great snap of one of the many fantastic sunsets I witnessed in Arizona while on vacation. You just don't get that sense of the sky and land back east.

This week I am getting back into work mode. It's kinda hard I admit, many people I talked to are struggling too to take off the vacation hat and put the work gloves back on.

Friday, July 22, 2005

San Diego Wrap Up

I've been home almost 24 hrs, slept, napped again, shopped and blogged. While doing so I've thought back on the biggest nerdfest on the earth. I will say though, dispite my bitching, it is a very happy event. Everybody seemed happy, the con goers especially. We artists bitch about everything, it's part of being a creative person and not wanting to settle for anything besides perfection, but to fans I think this five-day event is like Nerd-Disneyland.

I guess my feeling is the show has really gotten too big. From the hotel fuck-ups to the hassel and expense of shipping out your books, booth costs and the dinner situation. It's like trying to invade Normandy on $20 a day. A bigger show means more opportunity for somebody to spend their money on somebody else besides me. This is sort of a canabalization in a way. People only have so much $$. More vendors, means people have to be pickier.

I suppose everyone's experience with something this big is different. Like a UFO sighting or Big Foot, everyone describes the amount of lights and shape, movement, slightly different. One person has a beautiful experience, the other gets the cattle prod, or drug into the woods, gets mugged and has their soul sucked out. Sometimes I felt it was a little of all of the above. But I can only really speak as a pro, not a fan. I don't go looking for old comics or autographs. I don't go to celebrate my inner fanboy, I have never really done that, even when younger, I like the artists and the art, but attending panels on the Teen Titans "is just too gay' for me. Now a panel where Nick Cardy is gonna draw something...ok, I'm there. I was never ever comfortable with that aspect of fandom. I am a geek for art, for craft, so my attachment to any comic, or character is based on the quality of the artist attached to it. I'm not into gaming or fantasy stuff either, I have a PS2, but hardly play.

I go only to promote myself and meet friends and clients. I like to make $$ as well. I go for business first, fun, second, and most of the time I am so tired after a day of running my "virtual store front" I am a zombie after dinner. I'll be sitting across from Bill Rienhold or Rick Remender and really want to 'connect", you know talk shop...but my mind is zzzzzzzzzz

Ed Baretto and Ricardo Villagran

San Diego though is such a beautiful city, the times when Bret, Patricia and I walked around sight-seeing was great. I have never been to a nicer place, a more comfortable enviroment, it competes with Sedona, AZ easily, and the people all seem very nice. I guess the great weather is an anti-toxin for daily strife. And you can see it there, even in the beauty, homeless sleeping in the park, parts of the city struggling to be revamped a bit. There is a lot of $$ there, new construction growing up fast.

I came to the conclusion this year I can't even begin to see everyone let alone see the whole show. It's impossible. So I didn't try, I didn't go to Bud Plant, or Stuart Ng, or to Tony Railoa this year, I hardly bought a thing, a few gifts for friends and that was it. I didn't chase down all the sketchbooks. I did make down to the end of the show, "artists Alley" once. I hear reports people did good, other people did bad. It seems to me being at the end of the line, out of the mix of the big school of pooling fans has to hurt.

Comics, comics? We need no stinking comics!

I also see the show being more about everything else besides comics, or super hero comics. This isn't new, only more pronounced this year--many calling it Show West 2. I saw it at Mega Con, and even more so in SD, girls, girls reading manga, buying manga, dressing up in manga, girls on their own, not being drug behind their geeky boyfriend, no these were girls on their own, celebrating their own version of nerd pop culture. Tokyo Pop's booth mostly had girls or young women inside it when I passed, there was a young woman stuffing the free give away shelf. Girls Gone Manga, it was everywhere! But at DC's booth.... babymen. I took many pics of beautiful girls this year, it was a girl wathcer paradise.

But it is clear..

Our industry is being left behind, only the Babymen to sustain it. Animae and manga are growing steadily into the mainstream while the "Walled City of Babymania" AKA the local comic shop is becoming more and more just a "he-man, woman haters club", except for the fantasy women they want to jagg to. When hollywood falls in love with manga--makes movies based on manga, not Spidey, there will be a huge wail and much gnashing of teeth. And its coming...oh, it's gonna happen.

While manga seemes everywhere, Superjock comics breaks out into the mainstream only in the movies, TV cartoons and a few shows like Smallville, but that is a shallow hit, it isn't making the public seek out more mainstream comics. In fact I think we should almost stop calling mainstream comics mainstream. Manga is the new mainstream if you are to judge mainstream success by the old world definition, the one we in the old mainstream cling to. The false fantasy of 10 year old boys buying Batman and Superman or Jack Kirby comics like I did. The 10 year old today watches Cartoon Network and plays video games, if he read comics it's likely manga based, or newspaper strips. This reinforces what I learned teaching my class recently.

As I walked the floor I was struck by the amazing amount of people /artists there spending good money to hawk their wares, but I often passed by booths on the way to and from the men's room and saw many booths without anyone browsing, even on Saturday, when the hall was so friggin packed, it was like a mass of wiggling geek flesh. I always wonder, "Will they be back next year?" Everybody is selling, hoping for the Hollywood hook-up. Some people had sad faces, some had the "Don't go!" look of a man in solitary confinement.

The Men's Room

And what's up with the men's room being like the monkey house at the zoo!? Nobody ever talks about this, but it is a horrible situation at these shows, and SD is the worst. I don't know what the ladies room is like, but these must be the most crooked manstraws in the universe! It's like these guys have never had practice before! After a few hours the men's room has more urine on the floor than in the sewer pipes..goddam, aim that thing boy! Is it their small underdeveloped tyranosaurus arms, unable to reach down far enough, or over the belly or the Boba fett Mask greased up with sweat? You have to do the splits like Van Damm on the wall to not soak your shoes in nerd spore! Yukk!

I saved some $$ this year by shipping my books to Blev's house, flying to Pheonix and we drove over from Arizona. We were cool, as we got in early to set up for Preview Night, finding a place to park underneath the con and moved our stuff up in a few trips using the elevator. A huge improvement over last years 1 mile hike with our books. Though last year we got to see that weird Cat Guy as he parked his car near ours...yeesh! I was able to get reservations for dinner most every night for our gang to eat, calling no later than 4:30 to reserve the spot. Lou and Micky's and the new Taiwanese place being the favorites.

As always I have a great time meeting people who are fans of DRAW! and my work. I know I sound like a crab sometimes. Some of the folks are just so nice, so effusive it's rather overwhelming at times. How do you react to people telling you your comic book work changed their life? There was this guy Nikolas from Greece who told this story of how he was so effected by Bret's new Mutants he'd go into the only bookstore in town, miles from where he lived to buy it, he was so effected by the Bret and I imagined this 10-year-old kid running through crazy traffic to buy a comic at a Kiosk in the middle of road.

Pat Ollife and Howard Shum

I also enjoy seeing my peeps, some of which I see only once a year. After a busy day I wish we could end up in a quieter setting so we can really talk, but every resturant is so booked and noisey. I feel at time I have super ADD in San Diego. My mind split from multi-tasking selling, greeting, drawing...and I really hate doing sketches sometimes, as I often feel they are so-so, as I never feel I can fully concentrate. But with the plane ticket+the hotel+shipping+$40 a day and up for eating+ my table...It adds up fast to be a super expensive show to do. So sketching helps pay the bills. I tried in vain to Blogg from the con, but I was so tired I'd fall asleep trying to edit pics or write something coherent. Then the blogg was hacked or messed up, so now I've been backing up all my posts in case this happens again. Lesson learned.

The lesson here is show up early or face long lines for everything.

So I guess my feeling overall is possitive despite the hassel. Draw! 11 sould out in almost one day at the was flying off my rack and Tomorrows table as well. Having the island booth with eight artists was a bit carmped but it worked well for us as we had steady traffic the whole time, plus we always had an amigo there to spell us for a pee or coffee break. Everyone bitches about the con food, and the lines. Well unless they have double, tripple the amount of outlets and staff there is no way around it, you will have huge lines. I think the best thing is to get a cooler and go to Ralphs on 5th and Market, stock up on food,snacks and drinks and you are done. A thermos with coffee and goodbye 45 minute stand in que at Starfucks. I moved a fair amount of new 2005 sketch books, and traded a few with other artisrts as well. There were many artists I wanted to seek out, but again I just didn't have the chance, plus now I figure anything you wanted you can get on-line. There were many cool toys, weird robots and such, and while I like that stuff I am hesitaent to buy much as I already have too much junk. But some of it is so cool! The Japanese seem to be able to make so many diffierent types of cool things.

I did bump into Dave Cooper and talked with him for about 25 minutes. Seems he's pretty much out of comics and painting full time. His work is good for him. He certainly seemed happier and less stressed than in the past. I had a few offers and nibble at storyboard work on show, even possibly the rumored hellboy cartoon.

Every year I find a new cool artist, or make a connection with an old cartoonist, this year it was Frank Espinosa who does this fuckn' cool Robbins meets Crane meets Clerk style on a book called Rocketo and Paul Gringle, who did a strip called Out Our way and lot of cartooning back in the day. He's a classy old gent who attended SVA and was classmates with Wood, Williamson and that whole school. I also hung out and met all the Ghostbot Crew and the guys who do Happy Tree friends, I even got a free boxed CD set.

And then like a big mixer spinning around the top flys off and the show spills out and is done. The huge pressure to get there, wagons ho and all... is over...Pikachu sags from the ceiling, carpet flies up...that friggin' bitch from hell announcer starts yammering! F you bitch, I paid a good price for this spot and I'm stay'n till I'm done!

The Holiday Inn can go fuck a duck! I'll never deal with them again. That made the con harder to do as well as I was sharing the room with the Blevins' and we had to be up earlier and leave earlier to get back to our hotel 20 miles away. I plan on going back next year, though for the first time I am now entertaining the thought of not going, skipping a year, changing things up somehow.... maybe I'll feel different in a few months, it's already less than a year till the next one!

Still life

One of the things I try and do when I go out west for vacation is do a little painting, drawing from life. I never get to do as much as I want, but I am working harder at it now and seriously want to spend more time painting. I even took a class this summer, I previuosly posted some of the results. But summer is so crammed with conventions it makes it very hard to get stuff done pre San Diego con. Now school is looming only a little over a month away.

Where did my summer go?

My pal Bret is a fantastic artist and has been making headway into the gallery scene. I know he'll end up a huge success and leave comics behind, but it's our gain to see his great paintings. He was participating in a life class at Yavappai College in Prescott, so I went to the class one night. the model didn't show, so several artist took turns posing for the class. Here are a few sketches I did.

The next day instead of going back to the college we decided to set up a still life in Bret's studio, this way we could paint all day and not have to worry about breaking down for lunch etc. After we set up the still life we both went at it, painting side by side. It was great fun and in 4 hours or so I had finished my painting. I am going for a bold feel, trying to mix the paint on the canvas and use a limited palette, something I picked up from my class this summer. A bold rough out, to get the forms blocked in and then I tried to get some paint down to help establish some values quick. Still lifes are great for this type of practice because they never change and you can come back later and pick up where you left off.

San Diego Memories...

I just got back from Arizona last nite, where I had a few days of vacation and painting and drawing after the SD con, and boy did I need it. I cut together a little 2005 San Diego iMovie from the video and tons of pics I snapped while experiencing the 5 days of the Comicon. I'll give a final wrap-up of my experience later today, but I think the movie just about sez it all. It's a quicktime movie ad 24 megs, but it should stream.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


EXHAUSTION! FUN!,JOY! Mix a combo of these words together and that’s what Comicon is like. Some how it gets bigger every year, more and more people come, more and more studios set up displays, more and more artist come…it’s like having super A.D.D. walking the floor. There is just a riot of entertainment to see, a zillion things all competing for your eye. Comics, costumes, toys, movies….

And while many are getting their geek on, I will say that this must be one of the happiest places on the earth right now. Everyone seems happy and a good time seems to be having a great time. Some people have commented that sales may be a bit off, or even with last year, and personally I find this to be true, but I attribute this to the fact that there is soooo much to buy, or compete with.

I’ll post a big wrap up over the next day or so. I am so exhustyed every nite after the days events I haven't had the energy to post much, but maybe I'll pay the $$ to do a quick blog from the con floor. I still don’t know why my blog went screwy, but I and now backing up my posts in case this happens in the future.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


Hmm, well it seems maybe my blog was hacked last nite? I got back from the show only to find some whacky drawings and some mumbo-jumbo had replaced my post from Wednesday. I wrote Blogger for help but so far now answer back.

So I'll have to repost my report later along with Friday's coverage. But first I gotta shower and eat breakfast.


Friday, July 15, 2005

San Diego Report-Day 2 Attack of the Babymen

Ok, don't know what happened here but something screwy, my blog got hacked maybe? The original
post was deleted...I'll have to repost it.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

San Diego Report 1

We blasted out of Prescott, Az Tuesday for Sandy Egoes and the annual comicon-extravaganza, I've gone to everyone i think since the mid 90's, but last year eneded up being so expensive for me I decided I had to save some $$, so I shipped my stuff ( art and books) to Bret's place and flew into Pheonix and stayed with them in Prescott, about 90 minutes north. I had been staying with Bret and his family since Saturday when I flew into Phoenix. Bret, his wife Patricia (who drove) left a little later than we wanted in our trek to get to SD and get set-up for PREVIEW NIGHT, our van stocked full with our art and sketchbooks, we hauled ass to San Diego con, which is about a 5-6 hour drive, depending on traffic and how many times we have to stop to whiz.

Prescott is around a mile above sea level, so for a good part of the drive you spend it coming down some super whindy roads.And brother, does it get hot fast!

We hauled alond some busy trucker filed roads, here is our ride reflected in the hubcap of one of the hundreds of trucks we past...

After sketching and finishing some commissions, Bret took a nap..

We hit a slowdown in traffic due to this grizzly looking wreck which also set off a brush fire in the super-dry tinder of the road side brush.

Though it was well above 110 degrees in parts outside, we keep it cool inside with MANGO JUICE! Nectar of the gods it is...


One of the big complaints this year about the con, besides the usual "It's getting too expensive!" is the hotel situation. This year it's especially bad...with the hotels selling out in record time. Back in January Bret and I secured our room in the first 10 mintues of them going on sale via the service the con uses to book them. Lucky for us we did as they were sold in something like an hour, but we felt this year we were more organized and on top of it. we decided to stay at the same hotel we have stayed at the last few years, The Holiday Inn on the Bay. Upon arriving to the con we parked underneath the convention center, unloaded our books and headed over to the hotel, ready to relax. last year the "move-in' was so hellish since we arrived too late to park close and had to haul our stuff in shifts from about a mile away. We were proud of ourselves, we figured, " Hey we are all set, we did it right, dotted all the eeyes, crossed all the T's, we can a day early to set up before "Preview night, which starts Wednesday", got in, no hassel with parking, used the elevators to load in, no lines for our badges, man it was smooth! until we went to check in..

I waited by the van while pat and Bret went in to check us in. 15 minutes later pat comes out with a bad look on our face. the hotel said our reservation was gone, they had us arriving a day early for some reason and gave our room away! FUCK! And not only did they do it to us, but several other people in line too. Luckily I was able to switch into emergency LOBOT mode and hop on my cell and withing a few calls managed to snag one of the only rooms left in the area at the Embassy Suites La Jaolla! when we checked in, the lady at reception said,. "Oh I'm sorry sir, we are totally sold out." and I replied using my "I will skin you like a Sandperson" look insisted she check again...and guess what, there was our room. So we are 20 minutes out but at a much nicer hotel for about the same price. Good triumphs over automatic message board robots and incompitent and evil corporations. And on top of this all, the same hotel forced my pal Ricardo Villagran, who traveled from Buenos Aries for the con,to pay-up-front $800 in cash for his room after they also screwed up his reservations! This has to be illegal! There needs to be something done about this type of my motto is now FUCK THE HOLIDAY INN!


Our set-up at the show, we have an island...there will be 8 men and one woman on this island, and we'll be surrounded on all sides by freaks and geeks.

A mere 15 minutes before the show people rush to set up, like Neal Adams, as the giant Pikachu

More later....

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Cartoon Camp Part 2

Last night was the second and final night of two-day “Graphic Novel and Cartooning Mini-Camp” I conducted at the Tredyffrin Public Library. I'd like to thank both Gretchen Chamberlin, the Assistant Director of the Tredyffrin Public Library and all of the great kids. I had a great time and they all turned out some cool comics, many drawing comics for the first time. Here are a few quick pics, I'll post more later as I'm heading out the door to Arizona and San Diego in just seconds....

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Graphic Novel and Cartooning Mini-Camp

Yesterday was the first day of the two-day “Graphic Novel and Cartooning Mini-Camp” I am conducting at the Tredyffrin Public Library. I have a great crop of enthusiastic and talented teens who love to draw. It was also a good mix of ages sexes. The taste seemed pretty even to with the reading habits split into thirds, 1/3 liking manga, 1/3 regular comic fare like X-men and Spidey, and the other third reading mostly newspaper strips.

The first day I gave some basics on how comics work ( the combination of words and pictures) and then got right into creating your character and some tips on cartooning by having them draw the other kids at their table, something I use with my college students, first using all straight lines, then all curved lines, then combining the two drawings so they learn that cartooning is about designing from reality.

Next they took this idea and ran with it designing their own characters which I had then pin-up so they could all see what each other had done.

Then I set about showing them how to break down their story buy using some layouts I made for them, and then to take that "blue print" and use it to draw their final pages in pencil using the blue pencils to rough out the work first before doing the final art. Friday I'll go over their work and then show them the inking stage. It was a lot of fun and all the kids were really nice, funny, polite and talented. Who knows, one of them may go on to become a real fulltime pro.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


The 2005 sketch book is here, fresh from Kinkos (48 pages, full color front and back cover)and can be orderd directly from me, signed to you for $10 +2.25 for shipping and insurance. You can send your checks, money orders or use paypal. My address is PO BOX 2129 Upper Darby PA, 19082. I won't be sending any books out till I get back from vacation and San Diego, so it will be a few weeks. E-mail me for Paypal directions. Those of you luicky enough to be spending wads of cash to travel to the con can pick up a copy from me there, as it will make it's virgin debut next week in San Diego.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Buffy Commission

Finishing up some loose ends around the studio and I polished off this commission today in about 4 hours or so in water color, while watching the Live-8 concert. I owed this guy the commission for over 2 years...cause I can't get into I couldn't figure out what to do...I messed up the other girl a bit cause I didn't do a very good drawing there, it was not worked out well enough, but I'm overall happy with it. I was thinking of the way Jack Davis had fun with his watercolor illos, and Frazetta too....

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Indy Pentance Day

I hope you regular American readers of my little blogspot have an enjoyable weekend of grilled-flesh-of-many-beasts, adult beverages, explosions, Live-8,caution level terror warnings, family fueds, and sand filled cracks.

I'll be chill'n wiff me hommies this weekend too. I thinks it's sort of funny how this year there are no raise levels of alerts like last year. Guess since Bush got back in there is no need for the lame duck to scare us little lambs, no big Boggie Man-Osama waiting in the local post offic drop box with anthrax laced sparklers and water ice.

Seems we've moved past the stage where the war is even the lead story, just another story, at least on the local news here in Philthy.

But we've all got some pentance coming as a country, I believe that, hell I feel it every time I fill my tank in my SUV. The sketchbook is ready for sale come MONDAY! I'LL TAKE EARLY ORDERS.....

Well I'm off to eat, draw and make merry. Have fun!