Thursday, January 31, 2008

Final syndicate cartoon of the week

I've been waiting to do this cartoon for a week, and finally got around to it today. It's amazing to me that people who have lost their homes would be better off living in the street than in a Govt. subsidized trailer. Just sad.

Have a great weekend, and when you go to bed tonight be thankful you're not breathing formaldehyde .


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Unwelcome consequences

So Governor Crist got his Property Tax Amendment passed. This is one BAD piece of legislation, destined to wreck havoc in municipalities across our great state. Forget the impact our state's Firefighters (that's gonna be bad enough); think about how already strapped School Boards are gonna cope with a loss of revenue. When you're down to bone, there's nothing left to cut.

I enjoyed drawing Charlie Crist. This is the first time I've caricatured him. He's got a permanent tan - very dark skin, and that big mass of white hair, makes him a great target for satire.

More work in Photoshop

I'm pretty much doing these exclusively in Photoshop now. It maintains the immediacy and energy of the original rough sketch, and allows me to experiment more with color and layering. I can't say enough about using layers in Photoshop. You can add and adjust tints & hues, make physical adjustments to your drawings, and it's a fail safe fallback just in case you screw up (which I do often).

Oh well, as my Dad used to say "keep that kid away from the crayons!"

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Using Photoshop and layers as a light table

For this cartoon, I decided to do something that a few people have mentioned might save me sometime, and you know what? It did. Basically it just involves taking my initial sketch and scanning it onto a layer, and tracing, coloring that right in the program on my Wacom tablet. Now the tedious task of tracing, inking, and THEN coloring in Photoshop, has been brought down to (2) steps. Wonderful!

One day I might do a photo montage of this process, or "remember" it in Photoshop and play it back. I think there's a way to do that. rough this time. The rough is incorporated right there into this drawing!


Monday, January 28, 2008

More Painting Practice

Here's another one. I may not quit until I've done every candidate!

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Proceeding with Painter Practice

Here's a rendering I did on the computer over the weekend. I started in Painter and then switched over to Photoshop to finish it up. I think that this one might be getting closer to the kinds of caricatures I'd like to do for online publication. Onward and upward!


Friday, January 25, 2008

Final syndicate cartoon of the week

I'll post the rough with this one for it's simplicity and immediacy. I really can't believe I haven't seen more about this in the news. Seems the Interior Department plans to delay putting the Polar Bear on the endangered species list until a lease of 46,000 square miles of Alaskan waters goes through. This is prime Polar Bear habitat. And who are they leasing it to? Well, Oil & gas companies of course! US News and world report gave it about a 2 inch column in this week's edition. Here's a little more on it from January 7, but basically, after a year of mulling it over, they still haven't made a decision. The timing is very squirrely to say the least.
Here's the rough.

and, here's the finished cartoon.
I like the play off on the whole "taunting the tiger story" from a couple of weeks ago. I've also discovered that I like drawing bears; any kind of bear. And remember how I said a couple of weeks ago that similar objects creep into totally dissimilar cartoons? This week its "bears." I was drawing Wall Street Bears at the beginning of the week, now I'm drawing Polar Bears.
So warm and fuzzy. Just don't taunt them.
Happy Weekend!

Hillary sketches

Here's a few Hillary sketches that I did in the run up to the "Blowback" Cartoon below. I thought it might be interesting to see the process I went through in determining her caricature and pose. Those first couple of head sketches are really bad, but I think the one I finally settled upon worked out pretty well. I find that it's helpful sometimes to act out a pose yourself. You can really feel were the weight is and how the body shifts when you do this, and this ultimately strengthens the drawing.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fred's done...

Finished, asleep, out to pasture, cashed in his chips, on the bus....done.
He was always a non-starter as far as I was concerned.
"He's not a President, but he plays one on TV..."


I don't think I need to say anything else. This one's pretty self-explanatory. My wife says I draw Obama like I admire him. That's probably true.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Froggy went a courtin'

The non-indigenous "Giant Cuban Tree Frog" is being spotted all over Florida, including right here in our own Clay County. Officials request that when you catch one you kill it. Here's how: you put it in a ziplock bag with some benzocaine ointment. This will put it to sleep, and then you're supposed to freeze it. I'm not kidding. Evidently, this thing is huge, and eats many other critters. Here's the story.

And here's the cartoon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Solid local toon (after a slight edit)

Every once in a while, all the stars align, and I feel like I've nailed a really good local issue cartoon. For some background, here's the story, but the gist is that a group of local ministers has managed to coerce the city commission into NOT allowing sales of alcohol on Sundays. This is an outdated mode of thinking which would affect local eateries and (in my opinion) discourage new business from coming to Baker County.

Here's the rough. It's pretty rough:

Funny story about this rough - I had already sketched it, and then woke up in the middle of the night and decided to add the phrase "G"men in the upper left corner. I thought that it was a clever play on the whole "Govt." man, prohibition dude thing; only here it would stand for men of "God." BUT, when you hear the sound of crickets upon your editors first reading it's time to drop back and punt. Turns out the cartoon is much more succinct without that phrase. Here's the final version. Edited for your better understanding. Remember - "When in doubt...take it out..."

I found this by accident

Well, I was "Googling" myself last night (no, not that - get your mind out of the gutter), and I found this clip from an old Jeanne Moos/CNN piece called "Drawing Fire." The most interesting thing about this was that she says a couple of times "now that the war is winding down..." This was 5 years ago...2003! Winding down, yeah right.


PS- be sure to click "cancel" twice when it asks you to install the Korean language package. The video will run then.


Monday, January 21, 2008

More on Huckabee

When I heard this guy defending the Confederate flag, I was taken aback. It got me to thinking about which candidates really stand for change, and which ones are just the old guard (especially on the Republican side). I've also been waiting for the opportunity to use the Huckleberry Finn metaphor, so here's the cartoon that came from all that. Some people told me not to use the word "boy," I truly believe that that is what makes the cartoon sing.

Post, post, pleeeeeze post...

It's kinda disheartening when no one posts to your blog. You begin to wonder if you're wasting your time. So if you're slummin', please take the time to drop a quick note. It only takes a sec. Looking forward to hearing from you guys.


Playin' with Painter

This is a caricature of Mike Huckabee I'm working on to sharpen up my Corel Painter skills (which are non-existent because this is the first time I've really used it).

I started out with a rough sketch, and imported it into the program.

When I started out, I thought it was a pretty good caricature, but as I've been adding color, I've noticed some things are out of whack. So, I don't really care now if it doesn't look like him, I'm just practicing.

Here's stage #2, with some color blocked in with a wet media oil color brush. This is actually pretty fun. More later as the image develops.

Friday, January 18, 2008

No mo DOW cow...

This is my last syndicated cartoon of the week, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. Let's just hope that it doesn't come to pass. I do know there has been a LOT of activity in the stock market over the last couple of days. My "dinger" or "stock tickler" has been going off quite frequently, and the news ain't good.

Happy weekend!



Thursday, January 17, 2008

More straws...

I've mentioned this before, but I think it bears repeating. Sometimes when I'm on a "cartooning roll," the same metaphors have a tendency to creep in unexpectedly and repeatedly. This week, it's straws. This marks the third time I've used a straw in a cartoon this week. Weird. I can't explain it, I'm not consciously "trying" to put straws in my cartoons, it just worked out that way. One week I had Teddy Bears in several (totally unrelated) cartoons. If this happens with others, I'd love to hear about it. Of course, when you're doing 6-8 cartoons a week, you're probably going to have to expect some overlap.

Here's my first syndicated cartoon this week. Notice the straw?

I think I'll include the rough with this one. The cartoon changed substantially from the beginning sketch, so it might be interesting to see where I made compositional changes during the final inking. Most notably would be shrinking the bird, and enlarging Mr. Saudi. Enjoy.

Water Wars

For as many years as I can remember, the threat of water diverted from the St. Johns river to over-developed central Florida has been a heated bane of contention. Now it appears that it might be getting closer to reality with a potential 150 - 250 million gallons a day being "diverted" to supply the greater Orlando area with fresh drinking water. One argument against this is that it will deplete the fresh water at the mouth of the St. Johns, allowing more infiltration of salt water into the river. Not good for the fishing or Shrimping industry, and not good for North Florida. I've been doing cartoons on this subject since I won my second Florida Press Award in 1994:

So, it's not a problem that's likely to go away any time soon.

This week, I did another cartoon on the subject. Interestingly enough, it contains "straws" again. I guess this is the visual symbol I most associate with this problem.

Here's the rough:

I didn't change it too much. Maybe added a few more straws. These are the kind of cartoons I like the most - no words, with a strong visual impact (at least I hope so).

The finished cartoon:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sweet, sweet hate mail

Here's a cartoon illustration that ran in The LA Times a couple of weeks ago, and the accompanying hate email I received. I was pretty sure that this one was gonna piss some people off. Guess I'm doing my job. Here's the story as it ran in The Times.
And here's the email (unedited for your grammatical enjoyment):
"Mr. Hall,
Please submit a copy of your cartoon that appeared in the LA Times last Sunday depicting Uncle Sam in JEWISH/Mogen David shackles. I understand your cartoon is reminiscent of Nazi Germany. I am not in Berlin, I mean, LA right now to view it. However, I noticed your website has cartoons posted just before and after Sunday's LA Times. Very interestink! I am sure O'Reilly, Glen Beck and Sean Hannity would love to have you come on and explain your sense of humor. Can you say, GOING DOWN, my man? Prepare yourself for the national recognition you always sought and now deserve. I will do my best to make sure the only rags you are tooning for in the future will be in the Middle East. Can I persuade you to consider moving to any of the Arab countries (which of course is any one of the 21 surrounding Arab countries being "bullied" by the only peaceful democracy in the entire region) where your work will be most appreciated? While tooning for them, it would just be a matter of ticking before your "FREEDOM of Speech" would result in your being punished in ways only they know how to... execute. Now that would make the ultimate editorial cartoon!"
I love it when people completely miss the point, and on top of that he wants me deported and killed.
Cool! I've made Ted Rall status!
PS - Seems he's not the only one interested in this article. Here's a few more letters to the editor.

Warm Northern Breezes

Here they come. January 29th. Get ready for the blather.


I haven't posted many roughs lately, so I'll show ya the one for this cartoon. Not much difference here. When the idea is this immediate, I find that I rarely vary from the original sketch.

Well, now that I look at it, I see that I did if fact change some stuff. I wanted you to really "feel" the wind, so I bent the trees, made the sail boat's sails "full of wind" (LOL), and as a kind of afterthought, I decided to bend some of the type into italics and the speech bubble as well, to make them look like they were distressed from the breeze (my favorite part of this cartoon). I thought this was kinda clever as visual experiments go...I see now that I should have probably done BOTH speech bubbles.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Write-in candidate

This cartoon was sparked by a conversation I had with my father the other day. We were both discussing how sorry the slate of candidates was this time around. I also remembered him telling me a long time ago about one of his fishing buddies who actually had a dog that would get beers out of the cooler for you. How cool is that? I tell you what...the first candidate that promises to deliver beer to my house, I'm voting for.

Happy weekend!


My morning coffee and your morning Barack

I'm not quite sure yet why I enjoy sketching this guy so much. There is something magnetic about him. And those ears that look like "open cab doors" are real fun. Another interesting thing about Obama is that his "string bean" body adds a lot to his caricature. You put that bobbly head on top of a flagpole body and you've got pure hilarity!
Every election cycle, we cartoonists go through this debate about who would be most fun to draw. I think Obama has my "vote" so far.

Hey! That coffee cup is looking a little low. Back in a bit...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Sometimes they ink themselves

It's a funny profession - cartooning. There are days when getting an idea is literally like pulling teeth. Then there are other days (like today) when the cartoons come so fast and furious that they almost seem to do themselves. A weird kind of karma comes over you, and you feel like the idea is just passing through you. It's kinda neat actually. I like days like this.

This cartoon is based upon a lawsuit being filed by three young girls against the St. Johns County Sheriff's Dept. (and the Sheriff). Seems that these three underage girls were strip searched for possession of alcohol. Now I'm not sure how having a wine cooler in your purse warrants a strip search, but the Sheriff's Department was going to make damn sure they weren't hiding any more booze anywhere else. This Sheriff already hates me, so this will just add to that. Seems he was in a bad accident a couple of years back and wasn't wearing his seat belt. He mysteriously received no ticket for that, and I use every opportunity to remind him of that fact. Now I'm gonna have to make double sure I don't speed when I drive down to St. Augustine.
Tell the world my story.

"Hit me!"

The brand new Orange Park Poker Room (which was protested by standing room only crowds up until it's acceptance by the Town Council) will soon be hiring 100 new employees. So, what do they do? They organize and throw a job fair! I haven't been posting many local cartoons lately, but I like the way this one came out, so I'm uploading it.
This isn't even the one that's gonna get me in trouble this week. I'll post THAT one in a couple of hours after I ink it.
Watch out!

Monday, January 7, 2008

"It was she to blame alone..."

Yeah right Perv. I, for one, hope he keeps talking. The more he speaks, the more the world can see him for the coward he is. His words may also incite the populace (90% normal everyday people - not fundamentalists) to rise up and spread democracy throughout Pakistan. We can only hope.

Talkin' 'bout my evolution

Teach evolution in Florida schools? Why would we want to do that!?! We don't need no stinking science to muck things up.
We're perfectly happy here in the Bible Belt teaching the arcane and ignorant "intelligent design" principles.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

And, even more, on Pakistan

Here's a couple of cartoons that I really enjoyed doing. They both came from a project I was working on for a newspaper illustration. Even though they ended up going with the second one, I was able to use the image of George Bush as one of my syndicate cartoons and that made me REALLY happy. Enjoy.

I've used the image of Bush as a world cop in the past, and come to think of it, both times he's been in a pickle. This image of him, a prisoner of what he's tried to create, just strikes me as so fitting.

Here's the cartoon they went with. Turns out it fit the copy better anyway.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Home Foreclosure cartoons

I did two foreclosure cartoons today. As a matter of fact, I set a new record for myself today (Wednesday) for the most local cartoons done in a single day - (it's 4 in case anyone else cares). And, just so you know, that's a bunch of drawing.

Here's the foreclosure toons. I'm not sure which one I like the most, or which one has the most resonance, so I'm gonna post them both. I suppose if I HAD to pick one, I'd go with the frozen realtor. There's just something inherently funny about a frozen salesman (of any kind) in his underwear.


For the second one I played up the idea that "little '08" has to purchase a new house, and "old-man '07" warns him against going with an adjustable rate. I put him in a pickle barrel with no shoes on to show he's pretty much out on the street now. Don't know if anyone will pick up on that. Here's hoping that the housing market starts to turn around in 2008. I kinda doubt it will though. All signs point to it getting worse before it gets better.