Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Arrived in Kunming

After a 2-3 hour flight from Beijing yesterday Echo and I, along with her mom arrived in Kunming. We were met at the airport by Echo's 3rd aunt and her grandma. They drove us to the Camellia Hotel where we are staying. the car ride was a cacophony of femal voices in chinese, it seeed 3 -4 conversations were going on at once. It had been a long time since they had seen each other so I guess they had a lot to say. The hotel is pretty nice, even has it's own internet cafe, which I'm using right now to post this.

Last night we met Echo's old boyfriend Nan, and Lvbiao, another old friend at a house party. It was held by a great couple, Jake and his wife, who's name I unfortunatley don't remember. I have to say that's a big problem for me. They all know who I am and that I'm coming, but I have to meet a lot of new people with Chinese names, which is hard. Is that "dow' with a "w' or is it Dao? the 4 sounds, up, down etc, get me too.It's a drag as everyone is really nice but if someone says "Hi I'm Zazahzah," and I don't catch it or get Echo to tell me 5 times and spell it--I'm done. i meet a chines artist named Moon also who seemd a funny guy.

I want to speak some basic chinese before I come back.

Anyway we had a nice dinner of samon and greens, potatoes with some holindaze sauce I think, then we left, hit a local hangout for some after drinks. I had one Corona caue I was kinda' wiped. Echo wanted so badly to get a message, so we went to this message palor down at the end of this doggy looking alley from the bar. This place was run by the blind. I've never had a profesional message before-let alone one by a blind person. I admit, I was a bit apprehensive, and Echo fell asleep right away with her message, I got sleepy but stayed at least one-eye-open like a pirate. Anyway the message was both good and a bit painful in parts as the guy was really pressing down, he was a small guy but his little hands were as strong as a pair of pliers.

I haven't had a really good nights sleep yet since I've been here. The beds suck. they are so hard I toss and turn a lot, echo complains too, her hips are sore. There is no bed like "the heavenly bed" here, nope, traditional asian style, hard as a board, plus I think the time change is still effecting me, I get up at 5-6 am every day.

Today we walked along the main drag and shopped. We hit the big bookstore where I bought a ton of art books, 500RBM in fcat, or about 80 bucks us. They had so manybooks on drawing, way better than almost any book in the states on drawing faces, people, still lifes, cast drawing, you can see that the traditional skills are still strong here. I was a bit like a dog in a suasage factory--so many books to see....and I found a copy of one of Zhaoming Wu's sketchbooks for something like 7 bucks us.

Afterwardswe went to the other comic shops here that was the sister store to the one we visited in Beijing. It was very small but boasted 2 floors, the second being devoted to a reading cafe where you could sit, read and eat. they had a pretty huge selection of books to read. Two doors down was another comics acfe, this one was only a place to read and eat.

We then met Echo's cousin Meng for lunch. My impression of Kunming is that it's in some ways cleaner ( still filthy bathrooms and many dirty resturants)than Beijing and it's less crowded and slower. Like Philly compared to NYC. Or Charolette. There are US celebritys all over billboards and signs advertising all kinds of crap. Store after store, jeans West, Giordanos and more, everyone here wants to or seems to dress just like back home, often the stores have pop music blarring out. You still get hit by a sudden stench of sewer or some poop related smell, and that is just the way it is. the more expensive, the newer, the cleaner things generally are. We also went into an art gallery and talked to the young guy working it who is an artist himself, Echo gave him a pep talk about PAFA. Seems he was pretty dissapointed in the schools here in Kunming.

Well off to more messages, or at least echo will get one. I think tomorrow we will leave for the hotsprings for 3 days, then come back here for 2 more days before we leave for the US shores again.

Monday, May 28, 2007

China report-Bye Bye Beijing

I tried to post thie earlier but I was blocked...

So far the comics I see are mostly Japanese.Or Chinese pirated
copies of Japanese comics, mostly illegal.The other comics I see are
basically Pooh and Disney comics---blarg. They fucking love Disney
here. They are all bagged so I couldn't browse them. The Chinese
prefer the Japanese comics like everyone else. Last night while
resting after a long day in the Forbidden City the CCTV news ran a
story about the Death Note comic the goverment is having a tizzy
over. They are going around to various stores and confiscating the
movie adapted from the comic and the comics and were interviewing
little kids, kids way to young to even want to read it, these kids
would be more into Narruto.

It was a way to sort of "trump up charges." The goverment says
Deathnote is making kids juvinile delincquents, ignoring their
homework, etc., much like Wartham did in the 50's. I find it really
funny to see the controversy. I think it's a straw dog, the fact is
they are really looking for something to blame and a comic about a
kid who can write peoples name into a mystical book causing them to
die probbaly gets on somebody's nerves.

Too much wishful thinking. Or maybe a bit too close to home, you
know, names in books of people to be offed...

On another quick note I have mixed feelings about Forbidden City, it
was cool and really cheesey at the same time, a real tourist trap and
the way it's sort of set up, is, well, a bit disrespectful and it was
dirty. Unlike the reports I read a while back, there is no actual
Starbucks inside TFC, but plenty of chines run cafes, the Starbucks
is somewhere outside, we never saw it though. It is amazing to stand
in a place that was built in 1400 though, the craftsmanship was very
high, but I feel many chinese don't hold it in as high reguard, there
was a lot of trash even though they had the zillion worker bees out
cleaning constantly. Sometimes people suck.

We are off to Kunming in a few hours. I didn't make it to the great
wall this time as we had a lot of social engagements, but we did do
Tiananmen Square yesterday too.

I'll keep looking for comics though. I loved my time here in Beijing, the great people I have met, friends now for sure. there is so much to see you need a month here alone. I want to see the old Beijing, the real China, the places just off the beaten track near the Forbidden City were far more interesting to me, they were full of real chinese, not fat tourists ( me included) snapping picks, crowding over each other. They are some rude assholes here sometimes though


Sunday, May 27, 2007

China Update 2

Found another internet cafe, this time closer to our hotel. Well the trips been great, we went to the Summer Palace on Friday which had the best weather of any day here so far. It was a great place, full of all kinds of tourists from here and all over the world. I snapped a ton of pics and I'll probably start a blog for the trip when I get back. I've only had the trots once, but it was probably due more to the 10 beers and shots of tequila and the spicey, greasy food that bad water. Today we go to the forbidden city and tomorrow we will go to The Great Wall.

Echo's friends are all great, last night I tore up some Frankie and some Elton John at Party World for Karioki. China is a lot different in some respects than i thought it would be. I thought it would be more of a dictatorial type place with lots or army guys standing around ready to dish out some beatdowns. i guess if it was ever like that it's all gone now. You can see they are really preparing for the big show of china to the world with the Olympics next year. There are a lot of people though. We road the bus back from The Summer Palace and eventually just bailed out as it was so crowded it was unbearable.

The food so far has been ok, sometimes a bit greasy and forget getting anything diet like Diet Coke. I guess if you are a diabetic you are screwed here or have to carry a holster with insulin with you.

Thank god for Mcdonalds, I can at least get a so-so cuppa joe there. i like tea, but I need my joe!

Tasi jian!


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hello from China!

Hey all, a hello from Beijing. Echo and I are sitting in an internet
cafe checking our e-mails. It's certainly not a smoke free enviroment
hahaha! In fact the whole country seems smokey at the moment. I think
the air quality is slightly better today and the sun is out, but there
is sort of a constant small grit storm going on here as the entire
region is under heavy construction due to the upcoming Olympics.

So far we've had a good trip, one bag was lost in JKF and was delivered
yesterday, but dealing with the banks here would drive most Americans
crazy! yesterday we opened a bank account so we could deposite and
change the money to RMB, the official Chinese currency, but the teller
screwed up and put the money in the account, but didn't convert it. So
thgis entire debackle took 5 hours of waiting in one line and then the
next, they counted, recounted and recounted the same fucking money by
habd, by machine, by another spectrum machine god knows how many times.

We were exhausted by the end of the day. The jet lag hit us pretty hard
last night--big difference, 12 hours. The place we have is cool, we are
staying at the international Students Dorm at the University of
technology, where the farther of Summer , Echo's highschool friend

So far no sickness, the food is good, you just can't drink the water
and be smart, washing our hnds a lot. What a country of contrats, rich,
poor and changing fast. My Chinese is coming along slowly, I was able
to order breakfast, though I'm sure I sounded like a retard. So far I
have seen just one other non asisan person in 3 days.

We are going to The Summer Palace today. Tomorrow taking a tour,
Forbidden city, and some other places. Been snapping lots of picks and
walking my ass off! This is still a country where you walk A LOT! Lots
of bike, motor bikes and peddle driven conveyences of every type.

Well that's it for now, zai jian!


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

China Trip

OK, I'm off to China for 2 weeks. My brother Marc and my pal Chuck are watching my pooch Shazam. She smelled and eyed the suitcases this morning and gave me the 'Oh, you're going away" squinty look this morning while sniffing around. That's the only drag about having pets, the fact they miss you. I doubt I can blog from there but we'll see. I'll certainly have a ton of pics when I get back.

See you in 2 weeks. Mike

Monday, May 21, 2007

Draw! 15 Color

Here is the color version of the cover.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

DRAW! Cover Inks

Here is the inked up to color it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

DRAW! 15 Cover

This is the pencils for the cover of Draw! 15, the Back To School issue where I'll be covering all the major(and some minor) schools in the US that offercartooning as part of thier main curriculum or as their main thrust like CCA and Kubert. I'll post the inks and colors when I'm done.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Boy, it's been a busy week here since next week Echo and I head to China for two weeks. I am really looking forward to having this experience, though I am wondering if it will be as I imagine, slighlty exotic, hectic, crowded, full of different smells, an air of old-world authoritairian cold war hanging over it all, will I have culture shock, or will it be less "different" than I imgagine? It's a home coming of sorts though for Echo as she hasn't been back to China since she came here six years ago.

I've been reading a lot about travel to China and how China and especially Beijin are really undergoing quite a rapid change, mostly due to the coming 2008 Olympics, but also because Chia is a fast emerging world giant with a young population that wants consumer goods like the west. I expect it will be a trip I won't forget. I am planning to do some drawing and painting too, I am mking up some watercolor travel kits for both Ech and myself. I think it will be to complicated to try and do any other kind of painting as we are going to be on the go a lot.

Also this week Draw! Magazine 14 is mostly to the layout guy Eric, I have a little to do on an article that Bret and I are doing and then it's off to the printers and out in July. I've already started work on issue 15 which will be out in the fall as our "Back to School" issue.

Also this week Tales of the TMNT#33 hits the shops finally. It seems it's a few weeks later than I thought, mostly I think due to the fact they had a lot of Movie realted books and things to get out. It sounds like Mirage may have temporarily stopped doing new books and are printing the backlogue of material in house. I asked about another issue and Murphy, the editor, told me he had to hold off until the summer to see what they will do. A shame really, I think they'd do gangbusters as digests in stores like Disney and Nic's mags. Babymen shops don't want anything that is funny or non-superhero for the most part.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Semester End Figure Drawings

Tuesday was the last figure drawing session at Dcad for the semester so I showed up along with Echo and hoped maybe a few students would show, well one did , Dave, to join in on the fun. I was pretty off I feel that night, I had done critiques all day so my focus was off. I tossed most of what I did, and these are not great, but you know you just have to grit down and keep moving. They are mostly vine charcoal, a 5 minute and the rest are 20...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Schools Out

Today was the last day of class and so it was the final critique and into the history books for the class of 2007.

It was a long day, lots of one-on-one and overview, so by the end of the day I was beat, i didn't even take a lunch, I ate on the go...for some it was good reviews, and for some the sad bitter truth.

I also attended the last figure drawing lab of the semester along with Echo, who came in to school with me today.

Now, China becons in 2 weeks.

Monday, May 07, 2007


Saturday was Free Comic book day and it was another huge success at Captain Blue Hen. Joe Murry the manager said they did 50% better than last years with over 1500 customers through the doors! All I know is that once I sat down, except for on bathroom break I drew non-stop till well after 5, almost 6pm. I lost count of the number of sketches I did....

Your's truely drawing out a Darkhawk sketch.

A pic of a young fan with an Iroman sketch I did. I think Superman and Spider-man were the most requested sketches.

It was standing room only and everyone had long lines, Scott, Jamar, and Rich. Echo did free caricatures and even jumped in drawing some cool Jokers and Supermen. She is really good with kids, some of whom are very shy to sit and ask for a sketch. Our pal Kelly stopped by as did a few former students Claire, Brian and Todd.

There was a constant parade of heroes showing up, Spidey, Batman, Batgirl even a few Star Wars characters, I only saw Spidey as I was surrounded by fans the whole time. there was a group who was there also with pets for adoption, they were so great, I love dogs and there were a few I reallly wanted to take home.

Jamar drew like a madman, he even had whole families get sketches.

Rich even had fans dressed as his characters!

I think Scott may have been the bussiest of us all as Scooby is so hugely popular.
It was a great day and I look forward to doing it again next year. I like drawing sketches for kids and familes, I wish the hobby of comics could return to this more than the babymen who frankly have ruined much of the business to me. hats off to Joe and the great staff at Blue Hen for doing an outstanding job. If we had 5000 Joe Murry's the industry would be saved and much broader and better. This kind of event shows that people still like comics, if there was a way to expand on this more than once a year it would be awesome.

My Backyard 2

Here is the finished painting, I went pack in once it was tacky enough this morning to pop some stuff and do the wall with the pallet knife which is very tricky to use and i still don't have my feel for it yet. I made myself stop as I think I'm at the point that I could ruin what I have by being too picky. This was a challenge since the values are very low key because the entire side of the garage is in the shadow, the sun was on the other side so the highlights were not big jumps. I learned some things as I do on every painting, which then makes me realize how much more I have to learn.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Backyard Plien Air

This is a quick Plien Air painting I knocked out this afternoon as the sun passed over the garage throwing it into shadow. I had a hunger to paint today, I just felt restless, though I am only so-so with the results of this effort. But i couldn't resist. And i figured why not paint something right here and keep the set-up/clean-up simple. I will go back and probably tickle it a bit up once it's dry, finish things like the hose the. I hadn't painted anything since Feb, when I submitted to PAFA. The photo's colors are a bit off, it seems too yellow here.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Happy National Cartoonist day!

It's also Free Comic Book day---I'll be signing down at Captain Blue Hen's on Main St. in Newark from 12-5. Batman will be there, I'm not sure about The Penguin.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Waggh Wagggh Wagggh! The Penguin

I found and tightened up a few old, old Over Power card roughs and tightened them up, I may ink them too...