Thursday, August 30, 2007


Monday and Tuesday this week I spent doing my orientation at PAFA and it was fun. I got to meet all the students in my "track" and it's gratifying to know there
are many students there my age or older enrolling as freshmen now or
transfering in, or going back like me to get or finish their degree. It's nice nobody thinks I'm 45 (soon to be 46) haha! Also lots of pretty girls in art school, so that's a bonus too :=) man, there were never so many pretty girls when I was in
school before...what's with that? is there something in the food? And
admitedly there are also some freaks, but hey...what's an art school
without some crazies?

I have been hanging around the school a lot the last year, even taking a CE class for credit, but I guess going thru with it being all about me, not Echo, is different. She was there helping with the orintation, set up and run things and showing the newbies and parents around, she was going to take them on a Chinatown tour, but not enough people signed up.

I have to say I am more excited about this than anything I can remember
in a long time, YEARSSSSSS and I think it's also because it's all about
me, not about somebody's show, somebody's script, solving somebody
else's problems. Hey, I am proud of my career, not saying I'm not, but
being able to go back to school and THIS school is really great. But
maybe the best thing besides getting better skills as a painter and all
that is--- I don't know where it will lead me, in both career and more importantly, as an artist. I know it will be better for sure, but who knows, 5-6 years from
now I could just be painting and teaching, or who knows????

Tuesday I got some more time with the teachers, dept heads and got my
official schedule. I will be effectivley literally splitting my life in
half like Peter Parker. In fact think of me as a Ditko head drawing,
split-face, one side in the art-mask with brushes and pencils replacing
the Spidey-sense.

First part of the week until half day Wednesday will be all school,
then the rest of the week I will have to be working and teaching (one
class only now--Friday morning) down at DCAD again. I wanted to keep my hand in the
teaching ring, this being my 5th'd that happen so fast? I hear the class of animators is supposed to be a good one this year and it's the largest class yet I think.

I have to say the whole process was was so well run too, very organized and it's clear the staff, everyone really loves the school and wants us to as well. I had some good chats with some of my future teachers, they were interested to have me talk about my career, experience and why I was coming back to school. I think this did help some of the students too. And one of the painting teacher Mike Gallagher is a fan of some comics like Jimmy Corrigan, so we sort of hit it off a bit.

But for me, the most exciting thing was taking a tour of the art vault or The Academy Archives below the school museum. There they have over 11,000 works on paper alone, everything from artists sketchbooks, drawings of all sorts, water colors, etchings etc. We were given a great tour by the lady who runs the rights and reproductions dept., she showed us examples of two great little sketchbooks by students of the school from the 1800's, just amazing drawings in 2B pencil mostly, a travel sketchbook full of female portraits and one where the artists was drawing great caraicature type drawings of his fellow students. Plus several of Thomas Eakins own personal drawings and paintings studies. Then got to see some more paintings, of which they have thousands as well, inluding some of the most iconic images of American art ever produced...and the best part is I get to go see it, I just have to make an appointment! If I see a painting or image I want I can pay to get a high rez copy and printout! As a student I can request to see for instance the museums collections of Maxfield Parrish student figure drawings, or Eakins cast drawings, or Edward Hoppers drawings etc.

How great is that?

Depending on how things go I will be doing the same thing next term, splitting my time, but I hope to move up to 3/4 time, but the fact is I have to still make my bread to support this by working, so unless I win the powerball....

I know there is frustration and struggles to come, but they will be the best ones for me.

I'll keep you guys and gal posted on how things progress.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Oldman Head

A pencil sketch done in Borders tonight.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Final Zombie

Here is the final painting. I'll let it sit for a few days and then see if there are a few nicks I'll make on it, but for now it's done. This by far is the most complicated painting I've done to date and I learned more about painting as I always do. I used some phot ref on this for parts and that was something I hadn't done as of yet. I like parts and feel others are a bit too tight, but I really winged it here and feel pretty happy with the result, about 80%. I guess it's a silly idea, but for something that just jumped into my mind I think I pulled it off.

Zombie Part 2

Here is the zombie painting after good full day at it. Still lots of things to do to make it more cohesive and add some details on the smock, etc. But that may have to wait for me to get more storyboards done.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Ringo's Memorial

The quick watercolor I did right before we left the beach. Jamar did one too which he should post on his blog.

I thought I'd take a break from the blog for a few days last week as there was a lot going on mentally and emotionally. Last Friday my buddy Jamar and I met up at the Philly airport and flew down the Ringo's memorial in Durham. What a nice turnout, a lot of his long time pals and friends like Mark Wade flew in from LA and there was a Marvel and DC contingent, but really, this isn't about companies or articficial names and job descriptions, it's about people. Mike was like that. His brother Matt and his wife Suzanne, Todd Dezago were the strong pillars there along with Mike's Dad and Mom. Depsite the sadness of the reason we were there it was great to see so many people made it and that so many people really loved and were touched by Mike.

While Mike lay there he was surrounded by his freinds, family and it was nice that they also had his art up too. Drawings from when he was a kid and Tellos, Spider-man etc. Hugs, tears and great little stories mixed in with laughs and great memories. In short it was a Ringo love fest in the truest sense. They say you judge people often by the character of their friends and if you did that with Mike...well he was one hell of a great human being. It was great to meet Mike's family and to let them see how much Mike was loved and respected, his brother Matt said when they were at Mike's house they kept hearing this "pinging sound", well it turned out Mike's "puter was still on and they saw all the posts from the internet including my private yahoo group about Mike and they were really comforted with this outpooring from the comics community.

My other Philly friends Rich Faber and his wife Traci were there too having driven down from Philly and after the memorial we all went down the street to a local pub and chatted and laughed and I have to say it was for me anyway a great sense of closure. Jamar, Rich and Traci all got up to speak and talk about Mike, and I did too. I have to say I don't quite rememeber what I said---it's like an emotional blur now, except that he will be an inspirtation for generations of cartoonists to come. It was funny to have everyone basically say they all talked to Mike 90 minutes on the phone---no wonder he had deadline stress :-) We were all calling him and slowing him down.

Saturday, Echo, Jamar and Darci headed down to the beach and spent a day relaxing, laughing and just living, enjoying things, just like Mike is doing somewhere right now. I just took the time to think, let the wind blow and maybe recharge the bspirit a bit. I took a nap laying there with the cool wind blowing off the ocean and thought about Mike and life a bit. It seems every year this time there is a huge change going on. Schools start, jobs start, the holidays rush at you, lots of change, lots of energy. I felt that maybe this was the last chance to reflect before the wave crashes in.

I know after they finally put Mike to rest the family will need a little downtime too. I know they are overwhelmed by Mike's death-- but also the intense outpooring of love from the comic community. I think there will eventually be a good tribute done, maybe more than one, but I think they should be the ones who give the green light when they can catch their breath and it doesn't hurt to breath.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mike Wieringo RIP

It's taken me a few days to get into my head what I wanted to write about the tragic death of my buddy Mike, or "Ringo" as most everybody called him. Mike was the first friend I've had die, and also one of the guys in my generation of artists that I knew personally who seemed so healthy, vibrant and always getting better with each job. I had just gotten a encouraging e-mail from Mike, a comment about the Mummy painting I just finished Saturday night and talked with him by phone a bit over a week ago. One of our usual talks where we went on until the batteries in my phone gave out.

Death makes you confront life. Mike's death certainly has done that I think in a way that says a lot about Mike. Mike was it seems, everybody's friend, like a big kid brother. The news of Mike's passing from what appears to be heart failure was like a brutal slap, sharp and it still stings, deep, and it will for a while. I know for many who knew Mike, they all feel the same, that it's just so wrong. It also makes me a bit angry I have to say as well. Angry that such a good guy went out like that. It's not right. But the outpouring of love for the guy is really apparent all over the world and web. You want to find as reason why, that's what we do when we are hit so hard by something so bad, you want to try and have it make sense, but you can't. There is no sense to it, but it is the flow of life and now entering my mid 40's I realize that this will happen. It's just that you don't expect your friends to die, you expect them to always be there, immortal. I clearly see that isn't true.

I had come to know Mike pretty well in the last 6-7 years or so. We talked at least once a month by phone and very often, sometimes daily via a private e-mail in a group I run just for my pro comic pals. Through that forum many more pros got to know Mike as well. We shared a lot, and not just art, but philosophy about life too. Mike and I had many such talks, about him being a vegan, why he decided to become one, and it wasn't just for health reasons. It had a lot to do with moral almost spiritual reasons, I had been a vegan for a brief time in the 80's myself, but I gave it up. Mike didn't want to participate in the brutality of the meat industry, and I certainly see why. We also talked a lot about cartooning in a much broader sense than just what the babymen like, the Marvel/DC superjock stuff. His Spider-man art will ever remain a highwater mark and his work on Tellos will continue to inspire even more. I know Mike really wanted to do more Tellos and there wasn't a time I didn't encourage him to leave the big two and go do it. In fact the last conversation we had was just about that, about how you have to be happy now, don't put things off, take the reigns, steer the ship, go do Tellos. We both loved the cartoonier type stuff, a lot of Euro cartoonists and Mike was always very encouraging to me as a brother artist, but more importantly--he boosted others, especially younger artists. Mike would regularly post kudos and props on many other forums encouraging and praising the work of young-up-in-comers. Again this shows the great guy Mike was. He didn't hold people at arms length or "badge scan" as many pros do. You didn't have to be in "Wizards Top 10' to be Mike's friend, get a pat on the back or to hang with him.

Ringo was one of the first guys I wanted to interview for Draw! and the best thing about that for me was a selfish one, it allowed me to get to see stacks of his art, his real art, his sketches, which were fantastic, way better even than his awesome comic work. In his sketches he was totally free to do what he wanted. It's often said that an artists sketchbook contains his or her best work, and for me this certainly was the case with Ringo.

Mike and I both love animals and he was super supportive and so nice when my dog Buster died this March. We shared that love of animals and I think because until recently with me meeting and now being engaged to Echo we were both single guys, working at home, long hours spent at the drawing board. Your pets then become even more important to you. Mike was even concerned about the neighbor's dog, even though it seemed like a mean dog and would bark at him, he worried if the dog was out in the heat, rain or cold.

I have to say one of the highlights of my career was getting to ink him in the last few years on Spider-man and the last job we did, a Spider-ham story. Being able to ink an artist's work puts you in a very intimate position with that artist. That is a unique collaboration. In art you usually don't have such a collaboration, most artists don't collaborate on a painting; art, unlike music, is often a solo expression. When you ink an artist's work you feel his drawing, you
understand what he's about when you ink him. You draw what he drew. You can feel his thoughts and emotions, his statement as it were. How he's gone about solving a problem.

I've inked a lot of artists in my career and Mike's work stands in the top handful of guys I've inked. It was such a pleasure to work on his stuff and I always found myself agreeing with the way he drew things--and that is such a pleasure, such a joy. One of the saddest things is we don't get any more great art from Mike, at least not on this plane. But through his art he will live on and I know inspire many, many more cartoonists, and that is immortality in a sense.

Nobody has a bad word about Mike, and in this business, let alone in life, and that is a rarity. I don't think Mike knew how much he was loved and admired. He was so humble and a bit insecure and maybe those qualities are what allowed him to continue to grow in a business that does not encourage 'changing the formula". I know he was often not happy on jobs or what he was offered, sometimes hurt by this, but the fact is you could never tell that in the drawing that he was anything less than 110% into it. He drew with the same passion he had for comics as a kid, that showed through in every line, every figure.

I believe that Mike's in a better place now, not in the sappy Angels with Wings shit, but a better place where our energy goes, like tuning the dial to a clearer
station. A higher vibration. Ringo was always going to do something "after this' or "after that", he had offers too. Now it's too late--there is only now. I can clearly hear his voice and his laugh in my head and the good fun and art we shared. This is a small biz and in that we all have a small batch of buddies and friends. I heard Mike was feeling sluggish, down, maybe it will turn out he had a blocked artery, or just a bad heart, but that won't matter to us now.

Tomorrow my buddy Jamar and I will travel south to say goodbye to our friend Ringo together and attend his viewing, mermorial and share the grief and love with a lot of Mike's friends and family.

He will be missed and through his spirit and his wonderful warm personality and as well as his art he will be forever loved.


Here is the first big pass at the new painting, the biggest so far at 16 x 20. I'm doing my take on a Zombie. below you can see some of the head detail. It's in oil of course. I need to shoot some reference of me holding a broom to get the hands and arms right. This has been quite a week here with the sudden and tragic passing of my friend Mike Wieringo. I'll have a longer post just about that later.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Final MUMMY Painting

It Walks! Realllly slow, but, he'll still get you.
here is the final Mummy painting. I let it sit a while and then did a few adjustments. I will varnish it after it dries. Now on to the next Monster painting.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Here is step three...not that I am actually doing it like some art book excercise. I usually work on one area then move to another, take a break, come back and work again. I try to harmonize the colors and areas. That break helps me see it fresh and I decided to do things like eleminate the extra strands flowing off his head and worked on the left leg, repainting it. I kept painting till about 5:30am, for some reason painting late seems to work for me...or maybe it's the subject matter?

I will make another pass later after this sets up a bit which will probably be my last pass on this painting. I used a litte Liquin to help the painting dry faster. I have to say this was fun and a challenge as while I did do mummy drawings I originally was goijng to do a bust, but in the end sketched this out on the board and they went ahead, not even doing a color sketch or anything. I figured for this painting I would just wing it, right out of my head and if I didn't like something I'd wipe it off and do over.


here is the second pass at the Mummy. I still have lots of things to go back on and tighten up and I think I will change some the the foreground too and work on his left leg.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Mummy Dearest

Another Monster painting for the AXD gallery show. This is the first stage, I started on last night, and worked on till about 5:30am. I figured since I did Frank and Wolfman, why not The Mummy. I'll post the progress as I go along. The painting is approc 10 x 14, on gessoed illustration board in Oil.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

More Tarzan Storyboards

These are the rest of the boards from the sequence I posted yesterday. I know a lot of people bashed the Tarzan movie a lot, and while I think there was a lot off about it I think there was a lot of amazing work up there on the screen. What a talented crew. I wish 2D was making a faster comeback because as much as I love films like The Incredibles and Ratatouillieieieieie it's not as charming to me as human drawings.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Tarzan Boards

Here are some more boards, this time from Tarzan TV toon based on the movie. One of the things about the TV show was that they used the models from the movie without any real redesign. Hey, that's fine, the problem was in the end the overseas studio just wasn't up to the talent level to pull of that type of drawing. You really need to draw really well and know your anatomy and I would literally cringe watching one of the episodes i boarded. in fact after watching one, I never looked again. Also this was a difficult show to baord as it was a show packed with a lot of characters--and animals. Staging problems always abound when you have to stage scenes between characters like an elephant and a friggin gorilla. One is 14 feet tall and one is 4 feet tall. So you have to find ways to get them eye level, something TV writers never think about.

I the comment section of on the previous Batman board post mentioned the difference between TV ad or live action boards. Yes, they are really different animals from animation boards, especially for TV ADs as they serve a different use.Boards for ads are mostly for the clients to sell an idea or commercial, sometimes the agency will have several differnt ideas for an ad campaign, so it's cheaper to do boards and animatics than film three commercials and pic one. TV animation boards also now are almost key pose boards. Ideally the studios want you as the board guy to do pose-to-pose key drawings, listening to the voice track, essentially animating it, pulling out all the nuances and acting. In other words, animate the darn thing.

In features they have layout, where a specific artist will do the placement drawings of the characters in each scene with the backgrounds, maybe the start, stop pose, or a drawing that is from a weird of difficult angle--but most TV doesn't have a layout artist anymore, or only in the rare case. I know Ren and Stimpy did that type of thing, Samurai Jack did a bit before the shows ship over to Korea mostly, and then you have a big cultural devide. Body language, language, humor, are all different except maybe in the case of big pratfall type/slapstick humor-IE Three Stooges. The big issue is that often due to budgets you won't get A level artists working on a whole show, or even a whole scene. The A guys get the good stuff then I've heard the overseas studios will sometimes even subcontract stuff out to even smaller studios, of course I'm sure skimming some $$ off in the process. then everything is brought in and shipped back statesides. At least that's what I've heard...

TV Commercial boards are to sell the client and to give the director a "guide' as the set ups are bound to change as they are live action. hye are getting slicker now, being animated as pitches in After Effects complete with sound.

Effects boards for movies are pretty specific though, for obvious reasons. they cost millions of dollars. On the TV shows I can watch and see the A.B and C,D,E and sometimes F level artists working. rare is the case where they plus the drawing, usually the pull it back and blanderize it.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Batman Storyboards

Speaking of Storyboards, I just finished the first board for the pilot episode of the Secret Saturdays and while cleaning up stuff on my hard drive I came across these old Batman storyboards I did from the origin of The Creeper just about 10 years ago now. Those were fun shows to work on because the scripts were really good, probably the best overall I have ever worked on, though Samurai Jack still remains the most fun I ever had boarding. Now back to painting for myself for a bit as the show deadline looms...

Friday, August 03, 2007

Drawing and Sketching

In spite of the heavy work on the Secret Saturday board I wanted to keep my hand in sketching this week, so Echo and I went out a few times to the local Borders and the Starbucks down the road as well as the figure drawing an DCAD, the first we'd been to since school was ou---and it has been months since I did that. I bought two new sketchbooks from Michaels this week just for our coffee shop sketching as we were burning through the last ones fast. the sketches of the faces are mostly in pencil, B-HB and the figure drawings are in charcoal.

These two were drawn directly in marker.

We plan to get out and do some more drawing this weekend and if we can get out to the final DCAD figure drawing next Tuesday.