Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Good Bye and Good Riddance 2008

A year to forget. Here's hoping that 2009 brings us ALL new and enRICHing experiences.



Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And, even more practice

Here's another illustration I've been working on today. I'm basically trying to combine a kind of manga stylization with a splash of traditional figure drawing. I don't want them to look too "figurative" and at the same time not too "cartoony." Somewhere in between. How'm I doing?

I've enlarged the eyes a bit and exaggerated the lips, making them fuller. I want to get to a point where I can just draw these very fast, and very simple.

More practice

Here's another comic illustration for my portfolio. When I started this, all I knew was that I wanted to create a female comic hero character. I actually took several poses and combined them to come up with this stance, and I'm pretty happy with it. Now if I can just get someone to notice these, and offer me some work.

Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A new Samurai-Geisha

Oops! Here's one that I had forgotten to upload last week. Enjoy.

Stage 1 - Girl 8

Here's a first draft of a new series of girls I'm working on. I'm in the process of trying to get some comic inking work now, so I think I'm gonna focus more on the voluptuous, comic book/graphic novel type gals for a while. More to come, I just wanted to post this first one to keep track of my progression; I'll be adding some shadows and a bit more skin tone to finish it out later. I'm happy with the pose.

We didn't have figure drawing class this weekend, so I also wanted to stay fresh, and practice my ink & color in Photoshop.

Comments welcome.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Last cartoon for the week

Here's my final syndicate cartoon of the week, and of the year. I hope that 2009 turns out to be much better for everyone, and that we all manage to find some peace of mind. Thanks to all of you who have followed my blog throughout the year. It means a lot to know that I have the support of my colleagues in difficult times. I'm gonna try to continue to keep up the posting as best I can, but I can't promise I'll be working from home for much longer. So stay strong & please keep checking back in here from time to time.
Until then - Happy Holidays, cheers, turn the page, onward and upward!


Monday, December 22, 2008

Well, that's more like it...

After a less than stellar performance yesterday in drawing class, I've come up with this illustration today for a proposed series on gypsies. I think I'll continue with these, and see where they lead. I'll post both the original sketch and the finished illustration.

Here's the rough:

And here's the finished rendering. I'm pretty happy with it. Definitely more happy than with anything I did over the weekend.

Sunday sketch and a new follower

Hello all! Just finished photographing my work from yesterday's class, and wanted to get it posted early this week. I'm not gonna comment too much on these today. I'll just post them and see what happens. I did pick up a new follower to the blog over the weekend, so thank you dear blogger!
Here's the Gestures:

It's weird for me to like my gesture drawings more than my finished work, but that's what happened today. These gestures are without a doubt, 1000 times better than the longer pose drawings.

20 Minute Sketches:

Hour long pose with post-Photoshop assistance:
I stood on a step stool, over the model to draw this one. Of the longer poses, this one is probably my favorite.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Quick Samurai-Geisha sketch

Here's a quick sketch for another Sanzoku I'm working on. I'm not particularly happy with the "feel" of this one, and I'm still not quite sure why. But I figured I'd go ahead and post it, so I can get some feedback.

We've got our Sunday sketch class tomorrow, so look for some fresh figure drawings on Monday.

Happy Weekend!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Digital Hair Pulling

My editor wrote a pretty interesting article last week about something I've been talking about over at The Daily Cartoonist. Here's my quote from that thread:

“Real” editorial cartoons will make a comeback only when a new generation of people understand what they are, and what they are for. I’ve touched on this before in other forums, but I believe that this is a societal issue. Quite frankly, we’ve raised a generation of wussies. Plain and simple. Until people grow some thicker skin it’ll be this way. I saw it when I was teaching art classes. I had students coming in that had never been told “no,” or where their work was lacking. They thought everything was “perfect” (insert fragrant flowers and star dust here).

Here's my editor's opinion piece.

And here's my cartoon. It's pretty sad when our own school board has to enact a revision in its harassment policy to include messages sent over the Internet, most commonly as text messages.

New Samurai-Geisha sketch and a new follower!

Welcome William Knox-Davies - Art Student extraordinaire! Or is it Bill? Anyway, I've got a new follower of my blog, and this guy has skills. He's a student out in California, and you should go check out his blog. Interesting stuff.

Also, I was doodling away yesterday, and accidentally stumbled upon an interesting pose for my next Sanzoku. Here she is:

Stay tooned for the ink and color version; coming soon to your other favorite blog!



Monday, December 15, 2008

The Beautiful comic art of Loisel

If you're not familiar with the French comic artist RĂ©gis Loisel, you should be. I first discovered his work while buried in a stack of books at Chamblin's Book Mine here in Jacksonville (also an entity you should be familiar with). Anyway, he did a series entitled Roxanna, and you can see some examples of this at his website (it's in my links to the right of this page). I stumbled across his on line portfolio accidentally last night while searching for something else. And I'm glad i did. Any opportunity to tell Americans about this guy, I'm gonna take. So click the link and enjoy (note: his website is in French, so you may have to just enjoy the images or Google him for his bio - he worked on Disney's Mulan).


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Takin' the good with the bad

The Comics Reporter gave me a mention last week in reference to my plight in the weeklies. I think they got it right: "One of the underplayed elements of cartoons losing traction in newspaper via the decline in staffed editorial cartoonist positions is that freelancers are treated much differently than a staffed cartoonist in a way that can make it much, much more difficult for that cartoonist."

Another irony in all of this is that I'm continuing to be picked up by the major national newspapers. Go figure.

Sunday Sketch

Well, we had our weekly sketch class today, and I must say I was glad to get back. Drawing from the figure always relaxes me after a hard week losing cartooning jobs. And best of all, no deadline! Anyway, I think I got a couple of decent drawings from this class. We started out with some quick 3 minute gestures, I'll post those first. Then we did a series of 20 minute poses, and finally finished up with a long 1 hour pose (that's the drawing at the top of this post). You might notice that I couldn't get her left hand in the picture, so I sketched it separately to cut and paste later in Photoshop). I usually don't do portraits of the models, opting instead to draw the entire figure, but for some reason today I gave it a shot. I'll post those here as well. Oh, and I can't forget my drawing from the skeleton. I always seem to have a better day drawing when I sketch the skeleton before class. I think it gives me a sense of the major masses of the figure before I even see the figure. Give me a shout if you've got a second.



Friday, December 12, 2008

Last Syndicate cartoon of the week

Well, it's been a tumultuous week (to say the least), and with my editorial cartooning career in limbo, it's time to start looking for that next door to open. I've been hitting the online art boards pretty hard, and posting my drawings where ever I think people will take the time to look at them. I'll probably keep working for the one weekly I have left (my longest running gig), and of course I'll keep contributing national topic cartoons to my syndicate,; but political cartooning is in a transformative stage right now. With newspapers dwindling, closing, and moving on line, everything is changing. We'll just have to see where that new door leads.

Happy Weekend & Happy Holidays!

PS - Look for some new figure drawings on Monday - we've got sketch class on Sunday, and I'm really looking forward to that. It's my peace.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Politics as usual

This whole Blagojevich mess got me to thinking about the thin line between the gangster mentality and politics. Only this time, Mr. "tough guy" shot himself in the foot.
I have to mention that I've just updated so be sure to stop by for a look. I'm sure there are at least a couple of cartoons that didn't appear here.
Also, if you are an editor (or know an editor you can tell about this), please note that reprints of all the cartoons posted at halltoons are now available for purchase through PayPal. Just click the Buy Now button under each cartoon to purchase the one time printing rights to the cartoon of your choice.
Happy Shopping.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More Flyin' Geishas!

Comin' right at ya. Watch out! I've got a few more national topic cartoons to do this week, so I'd better get on those now. Enjoy, and let me hear from you!



Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Doesn't get much more local than this

It seems that our local animal shelter supervisor has been playing a little loose with the facts concerning where donated animals are ending up. In one instance they told the former owners that the dog had been adopted by an out-of-town family, when in fact that dog had been euthanized. Oops. Guess she didn't count on anyone finding out that little kibbles & bit of info.

Here's the cartoon. I used the long hallway shot from the movie The Green Mile for this.
Enjoy, and let me hear from you!

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Sanzoku from a digital sketch

As promised here's another "little bandit" taken from a gesture drawing I did in class yesterday. It's interesting to do a drawing that has no origin based in the physical world (i.e. no pen and paper - just a digital drawing, straight from the figure, and into the computer). This is intriguing to me, and something that I definitely want to continue to work at. The more people that creep up behind me in class; very curious and kind of dumbfounded at what I'm doing, the more I think that maybe I'm on to something. Something that is just not being done right now.

Here's the gesture:
And here's the finished Samurai-Geisha.
Enjoy, and let me hear from you!

And, another one...

Probably the coolest thing about drawing from life directly into the computer is the ability to make changes on the fly. Not only proportional changes (i.e. extending an leg or arm) but also compositional changes and color changes. Oh yeah, and the "undo" command doesn't hurt either.

Another drawing from Sunday Sketch Class

Here's another digital drawing I did on Sunday. I'm enjoying working on the Wacom tablet on these. It takes a little getting used to, but once you get your brushes, layers, and color palette set, it goes much smoother. I'll post another long pose, and some gesture drawings a little later.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

"Digital" Sunday Sketch Class

For sketch class today, I decided to work from life on the Wacom tablet. No paper, no pencils, no pens here - nothing but 0's and 1's. This one is probably my favorite drawing of the session. I'll post my gestures and some more longer poses tomorrow. I'll also probably take one of the gestures and create another Sanzoku illustration. Stay tooned!



Friday, December 5, 2008

Last syndicate cartoon of the week

Hello everyone. Well, my situation hasn't changed much over the last couple of days. But I have managed to set up my web site to sell cartoons through PayPal. So if you're an editor or publisher, and would like to get your hands on some inexpensive quality national & local editorial cartoons, please feel free to stop by and have a look. The re-print fees are really low, and you can pick and choose the cartoons that fit your paper's position on the issues.

Oh, and here's a cartoon I finished this morning for my syndicate. Running a car company - so easy a caveman can do it!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Your weekly Sanzoku

Here's another Samurai-Geisha taken from a gesture drawing I did in class. Since I've got extra time on my hands now (looking for work BTW - all suggestions welcome) I figure why not brush up on my digital inking skills and work on my portfolio. Anyway here she is. I'm pretty happy with the way this one came out. I sat on the floor to draw the model, so I could get a more dynamic and powerful pose. Here's the gesture.

And here's the illustration. People have mentioned that they enjoy seeing the figure drawings that these are taken from, so I'll post them when I can.



Tuesday, December 2, 2008

And one more local cartoon

This one was sparked by a column by one of my local editors, but I think it also works as a synopsis of our national psyche. We really don't know how good we've got it compared to other nations.

New syndicate cartoon

Might as well get a couple more smacks in there before he's gone. If ever there was a turkey in office, this guy was him.

Is it January yet?

Interesting USA Today article

I love it when a national story backs me up on a cartoon idea. I was beginning to wonder if any one "got it" and then this morning I opened my USA Today to this story about teachers selling ad space on exams so that they can afford to buy their student's supplies. Yes, you read that right. For anyone concerned over the future of education in this country, I strongly suggest a read. Administrators cut spending on supplies by a third, so teachers are left to fend for themselves. I've yet to hear even ONE administrator say "I'll take a pay cut, or even forgo my bonus this year, or buy my own gasoline, or etc., etc." It's always "where else can I cut without having to touch my well being." It's sickening. I'll make a promise right here and now - if I read about one school administrator anywhere in the country that volunteers such measures, I will be the first to dump tons and tons of praise upon him or her in this blog (insert cricket chirps here).

Anyway, here's my favorite line:

"The National Education Association says teachers spend about $430 out of their pockets each year for school supplies. This semester, Christine Van Ruiten, a teacher at E.C. Reems, a charter school in East Oakland, has spent $2,000. She scours Craigslist for free supplies and posts requests to, which matches teachers with donors."

I wanted to make sure I posted a link here to the Donors Choose Web Site. For any teachers out there, who are contemplating taking money out of their own pockets for school supplies, go here first, and see if they can help.

Founded in 2000 by Charles Best, then a Bronx teacher, DonorsChoose has funded about 65,000 projects totaling $26 million. Best calls it "a more dignified, substantive alternative for teachers than selling candy door-to-door — and certainly than selling ad space on final exams. That's crazy."

Monday, December 1, 2008

I've still got art

It's the one thing that's always sustained me when times are tough. Hell, at this rate, I may be doing street sketches for change before it's all said and done.

Here's another drawing from Sunday's sketch class.


The slide continues...

Well, I got another dreaded "call" this morning. It's official, The Times Union is no longer going to be using me for it's Community News Sections. This is as bad as I've ever seen things, and I know it's not easy for my editors. They have to let go photographers, reporters, cartoonists, et al. My question is, who's gonna put the paper together when everybody is gone? The janitor? The editor? Alone? There's no one left. But they all say they're going to do what they have to to keep the papers published. We'll see. They may end up eliminating the community news sections all together. More local content eliminated. Sucks.

So, it looks like I'm gonna have to REALLY start thinking outside the box now. Hell, I'm even thinking about going back into adjuncting at the local college, but after reading this, I'm not even sure about that. I'll be damned if I'm going to spend 12 hours a day driving from University to University to pull in $25K a year. That's ludicrous.

I'll keep you updated here as to what happens next.
Ho, ho , holy sh*t...


Weekend Fallout

Well, my ex-freelance client ran a semi-apologetic letter this weekend to cover my cartoon with the local gentry. A letter also ran condemning the cartoon as offensive. I think that's awesome, because this offensive cartoon hit at the heart of a discussion that should have been going on anyway - and that conversation should include plugging budgetary holes, at all levels of School Government. I have yet to hear even one commissioner volunteer this on the student's behalf, but they will not hesitate to mention how they are going to eliminate others bonuses and pay raises or even where they are going to have to fire employees. From grounds crews to libraries, to the Arts; they are all on the chopping block, admit it or not. And it's not just in St. Johns County, it's going on all over Florida. The final malfeasance would be to go to a four day school week, something that I would have never dreamed we'd see in our lifetime. With that we will continue to fall further and further behind developing nations in our children's education. BTW, most of this mess can be traced back to our "wonderful" Governor, Charlie Crist and his hideous Amendment One, but don't get me started on that - just another, larger level of bloat.

At the same time, this weekend, a local online publication wrote a short column praising my work, and asking why I should be let go for doing my job. The irony here of course is that I'm not even a staffer at this paper. I provide them with INEXPENSIVE, quality local commentary that they can't get from any syndicate.

Here's my favorite comment by Joe in St. Augustine who wrote in online:

Why are you surprised? This is the Record. A newspaper run by people with limited intelligence and world experience. The news is controlled and slanted because they are beholden to various and sundry old guard controllers of the county who haven't the savvy to understand that political satire by cartoonists has been allowed and appreciated for centuries. It is indeed chilling when a satirist is censured and punished for his creations.

I don't really give a sh*t if they decide to continue to use my cartoons or not. If one teacher benefits from the dialogue or one commissioner comes to his or her senses and finds a creative way to fund education in our County, then I can sleep well at night knowing that I tried to say something about that. As this article, (which actually inspired the cartoon) asks, "What's left to Cut?" I'll tell you what's left to cut - any School Board salary that remains bloated (including the superintendent's). In tough times, we all have to sacrifice for the good of our students. The title of this cartoon is "Keep Trimming." That should answer any and all questions regarding it's original intent and target.