Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sneak Peek: 'The Ballad of Toby & Sara: Meetings & Greetings'

I decided to post some of my in-progress pages for Track 5 of 'The Ballad of Toby & Sara: Meetings & Greetings.' It's been more than a year since I released Tracks 1-4, and while I can give you multiple excuses for the long delay, ultimately, I think it's been beneficial to the comic. It gave me a chance to really think about where the series should go in terms of storytelling, and how the artwork would be integrated with this. If this analogy helps, Tracks 1-4 set the chess board for the story, and Track 5 is where we see the first moves of the characters.

Overall, Track 5 centers on the former archangel Raphael, known to the people he meets as Ray Azzarus. He arrived in Omaha at the end of Track 3, and we discovered the first impressions of his true identity in Track 4. While the mystery surrounding him won't be completely solved in this chapter, the connection between his past and present situation will hopefully be more clear to the reader, and how his presence will prove fateful to both Toby and Sara.

Also, one of the challenges that I faced in this chapter was portraying the ancient city of Nineveh, which plays a part in Raphael's past. I didn't want to treat it as some uber-exotic Oriental land of wonders, but give the city some element of plausibility . I've made every effort in my research to present it with a degree of accuracy, but I've had to take imaginative and artistic liberties in some places. Any suggestions for sources would be helpful, if you have any.

And of course Toby and Sara play a large role in the chapter. I tried to enlarge their respective worlds while not distracting too much from the main narrative force of the story, which is the introduction of Raphael to both Toby and Sara.

So, when will this chapter be complete? I'm aiming to have the next book ready in time for the MoCCA Art Festival in April. When it's ready, I'll let the readers of this blog know, and the finished comic will be posted to my Web site. Stay tuned...

Friday, December 04, 2009

A Couple More X-Men

Finished the colors for two more X-Men sketches that I did some time ago.

Toad and Blob
For these characters, I was going for more of a disaffected youth vibe, hence the lack of any real costumes or uniforms. Just two guys with odd powers that have a chip on their shoulder. Also, I was thinking of Jorge Garcia (Hurley) from 'Lost' as a basis for Blob.

Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde)
When I originally did this drawing, I completely forgot about Lockheed, Kitty's pet alien dragon. I could dodge this and say this is from her 'pre-Lockheed' days, but something tells me that wouldn't cut it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Some X-Men Drawings

Things have been a little lite around the blog these days. I'm working on stuff, it's just stuff that isn't really intended for this blog. However, I was browsing through my 2009 Illustration folder, and came across a bunch of X-Men drawings I did earlier this year. A few of them had color added to them, and so I finished them up and posted them below.


These were drawn at a pretty small size, around 4x5 on average, hence the simplicity in design and color. I have drawings ready for other characters like Wolverine, Rogue, and Sabretooth, so I'll have to find some time to finish those up and add them to this collection.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The 'Toby & Sara' crew by Danno Klonowski

Some time ago, comic artist extraordinaire Danno Klonowski made a great drawing of Toby, Sara, Raphael, and Company, and I've been horribly, horribly delayed in posting it.

Danno is simply put one of the most prolific indie creators I know, and you can find more of his work at He writes and draws 'Manly Tales of Cowardice' (a great cross between Indiana Jones-style adventure and Venture Bros.-style humor), draws 'Tommy Chicago,' is a contributor to 'False Witness: The Michele Bachmann Story.' and...the list goes on! Thanks Danno!

(And for those wondering...the next installment of 'Toby & Sara' is on its way. Your patience has been appreciated, and I hope the wait will be worth it! All I can say right now is that it'll be 45 pages, and it will include some fateful meetings between the characters introduced in the previous installments. Keep your eyes peeled...)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A 'Toby & Sara' B-side: Creme Brulee

My longer comic narrative 'The Ballad of Toby & Sara' has taken a back seat due to some recent projects, namely 'Supernova Lullaby.' I wish it wasn't the case, I wish I had the time to work on them side by side, but it just hasn't worked out that way. However, I recently completed a B-side for the story, a comic that takes place a couple years prior to the beginning of the series, and which fills in some of the blanks for the heroine Sara Reynolds. You can read it online for FREE at my website, just click on the image below.
The location of the comic, Delice Bakery in Omaha, Nebraska, actually closed its doors in the Old Market earlier this summer. It was a great place, I remember getting delicious sandwiches there when I worked at a gallery in downtown. I never expected it to close, in many ways it felt like a cornerstone of the neighborhood. So, I guess this comic is a tribute to it, even though that wasn't my intention when I started it...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Summer Projects

It's been somewhat quiet here on the blog since I'm preparing for a cross-country move, but I have quite a few projects to post. Some I started early in the summer, but a couple were surprises that popped up during the summer.

The big one though is a watercolor painting that was commissioned by a friend of mine, and is now in his possession. I was a bit nervous starting this one since I haven't done a lot of work with watercolor, especially at this size, but I found it really enjoyable. After getting feedback from a number of people, I think it may have opened some creative doors for me. Below: 'Henry O'Sullivan's.'
Next, Seth From Somewhere commissioned another travel illustration, this one for the Camino de Santiago in Spain. I think as far as sheer technique goes, there was a lot of development between this one and the previous ones I did for him earlier this year. I'm working more with shadows and highlights, and I think this is giving a lot more depth to my computer illustrations.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

'Henry O'Sullivan's' - In Progress

Just wanted to give a quick update on the progress of the painting commission I'm working on. A couple months back, I posted pics of the drawing, and I've been hard at work on the final version. Yesterday, I think I turned a corner when I added a wet-on-wet layer to the background and ceiling, and I think it really helps to create a look and atmosphere for the painting. Below are a few pics of the painting at this stage.

Yep, due to my living situation for the summer, I'm painting this on the floor. It's not as bad as it might look, but I definitely need to give my legs a break every now and then.

I'm just now starting to tackle the people in the background, who will have a little less detail than the foreground characters. At first, I was reluctant to add the ink outlines, but I think it helps to tie everything together, and is just an aspect of my style that I can't let go of.
A detail. The picture is a bit brighter than the actual painting, but this gives you an idea of the texture on the walls and ceiling.

There's still a ways to go, but I'm confident that this can be completed by mid-August. Just gotta keep chipping away...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Brothers Bloom

So, I've been racking my brains trying to come up with a personal illustration for the movie 'The Brothers Bloom.' I really enjoyed the movie, and thought that it got written off too soon as a Wes Anderson knock off. While director Rian Johnson may have used some similar stylistic choices, I thought it aimed for something different than Anderson's movies, especially in regards to storytelling and how certain personalities try to control their own lives through story.

But back to the illustration...I did this drawing in my sketchbook, and while I don't see this as being the final illustration, I do think this gives me something to work around. I may include some close ups of the two female leads, Penelope and Bang Bang, as well as a playing card motif. We'll see...

Little Funny, & the return of 'Dear Friends'

As part of the 'Big Funny' gallery show opening on August 7, the Cartoonist Conspiracy is also debuting 'Little Funny,' small accordion comics that you can buy for....well, cheap. You can find my two contributions below, which feature the return of 'Dear Friends,' and a celebrity guest. Don't ask why, I just do...

Since the nature of these is so small (each panel is 1.5" x 2"), I kept it pretty lo-fi, and there wasn't much room for corrections, so I hope the 'humor' makes up for the questionable drawing. To find the inspiration for these comics, you can go to none other than the New York Times.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Mike Sgier Prints and Art Etsy Store

I finally got around to starting an Etsy store, which you can find at this address:
So far I have 9 items for sale, a mix of older relief prints from my pre-grad school days, and some recent digital prints from my 'Supernova Lullaby' webcomic. Here's a sneak peek at some of the art for sale:
Browse around, and enjoy! Thanks!

Club Batman Spain Drawing

A few months back, I was contacted by a group called Club Batman Spain, and was invited to submit a drawing for their blog. It took a while to finish, but a couple weeks back they posted it, and I thought I would post it here for my other national and international viewers.

To see the original post on their blog, follow this link: Club Batman Spain

And please check out the rest of their blog, there's some great art posted!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Reading Comics - June 2009

It's been some time since I posted any comic reviews, but trust me, I've been reading away, and sure enough I have some thoughts on them.

Bone - The Complete Series
'Bone' is one of those comics that I credit for bringing me into comics. I can remember ordering back issues directly from Cartoon Books (mostly for 5th or 6th printings), and waiting almost a month for the comics to arrive at my door. I'd even buy the trade paperbacks just to have, and at the bottom of my drawers are still a couple t-shirts that I bought, and then was too embarassed to wear them.

And as time went on, and Mr. Smith changed publishers, and the release schedule became more erratic, the series disappeared from my radar, only to resurface towards the end of the complete run. Fortunately, the enormous volume that comprises the entire series makes it easy to digest the story without having to wait or switch between trade collections.

First and foremost, 'Bone' makes it clear that Jeff Smith is one of the great cartoonists working today. Even starting out, his skills were sharp and well-crafted, but as the story moves along, his line and character design become more refined and precise, but without losing that cartoon influence. And by finishing the series, Smith has given comics a tried and true epic, one that surpasses 1,000 pages, and stands up there with the likes of 'Cerebus' (an irony, I know, considering Smith's feud with Dave Sim.)

Story elements like the Great Cow Race, Fone Bone's fascination with Moby Dick, and the suspense surrounding Phoney Bone's involvement with the Hooded One and the Lord of the Locusts are sure to stand out as classics in comics literature. But I have to say, almost with some resignation, that the first half of the series stands better than the second half. This isn't to say it's bad by any means, it still is great comics storytelling, but once Phoney's involvement with the Hooded One is revealed, the story falls into its fantasy mythos, which feels borrowed rather than original. The Bone cousins become supporting characters in events that are far from their own making, and Thorn becomes a warrior princess with almost limitless powers (which apparently suck away any shred of personality). Things pick up a little bit when Phoney and Smiley go back to scheming in Atheia, but at that point the epic narrative is well under way, and this small episode becomes swallowed by something far larger.

Is 'Bone' essential? Absolutely, this a huge achievement within the realm of comics and comics literature. 'Bone' itself is a product of comics' struggle to break free from the grip of the superhero mainstream, and has definitely had a hand in the creation of the modern day 'graphic novel.' It's just a shame that the spark that initially started the whole adventure of the Bone cousins gets lost along the way.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Century: 1910
Alan Moore, Kevin O'Neill, and the League are back (and this time at Top Shelf Comics)! Dealing with an occult society, and the return of a serial killer to London, Mina Murray leads a new version of the League in the wake of the failed Martian Invasion from Volume 2. Among the new crew are Alan Quatermain Jr. (Alan Quatermain Sr. rejuvenated), the gender bender Orlando, the pschic Carnacki, and the reformed burglar Raffles (could the League exist without Wikipedia today?)

Since this is the first in a longer series, I feel I can only give impressions. O' Neill's art as always captures the neo-Victorian period perfectly, while at the same time developing a certain hand for parody that wasn't as evident in the earlier stories. And Moore brings his interests in the occult and the Jack the Ripper killings into the League's world, but without giving them a fitting conclusion, in this chapter at least. And as before, a sexually risque, bawdy, and sometime brutal quality permeates the story, but it's hard to say if this will have an effect on the larger story, or if it's just the after effects of Moore's 'Lost Girls.'

Above all else, it seems clear Moore is making these Victorian characters more of his own. He's less interested in planting them to their roots in the 19th century, and more inclined to see how they would have operated in the tumultuous events of the 20th century. He has a good start, and I'm eager to see where he goes.
(Writer's note: I haven't read 'Black Dossier' yet. Trust me, it's on deck.)

Jamilti, and other stories
This is my first encounter with Rutu Modan's work, and I certainly wish I had found it sooner. The stories in this collection, made between 1998-2007, reveal an artist experimenting with her craft, and developing a storyteller's voice within the comics medium. Many of the comics are made with a clean, spare line, but they're drawn with such command that they exude character. And even though the color is muted when it is used, it brings texture and depth to the stories.

While many of the stories are set within Israel, they don't deal with the many conflicts in the Middle East directly. Modan's stories are more concerned with the personal stories of her characters, and the strange, sad, and tragic events that befall them, helping them to reveal hidden strengths. This isn't to say Modan ignores the geo-political conflicts, they hover on the periphery, always waiting to intrude on the characters, whether a stolen plane flying from Lebanon ('Homecoming'), or a suicide bomber mistaken for a victim in the title story, 'Jamilti.' While something like Joe Sacco's 'Palestine' is more political in nature, examining the forces that lead people into a social and cultural stalemate, they do share a common thread, I think, in examining the repercussions of living with the knowledge of terror.

The last story in the collection, 'Your Number One Fan,' shows Modan finding her strongest voice. Using a style similar to Herge's, she tells a story about identity, loss, culture clashes, and expectations through the experiences of an Israeli musician visiting England. Both he and his 'fan' are looking for different kinds of acceptance, only to find it in the unlikely, and possibly wrong, places. It's a fitting end to the collection, and prepares us for what I'm sure is going to be a fruitful career of stories.

What's on deck:
'Crime and Punishment' by Fyodor Dostoevsky - what, you thought I only read comics?
'A Princess of Mars' by Edgar Rice Burroughs - because it's summer, and I need something to balance out the above.
'Concrete Volume 1' by Paul Chadwick
'Maakies Volume 1' by Tony Millionaire -dook dook dook dook dook dook
'T-Minus' by Jim Ottaviani, Zander Cannon, and Kevin Cannon

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Summer Commission

It's been pretty quiet here on this blog, and I apologize for that. Comics and drawings are happening, trust me, but I guess they're just not ready enough for posting.

So, I thought I would go ahead and share what will be my big summer project. A good friend in Iowa City commissioned me to create a couple paintings some time ago, and I'm now finally able to do the finished artwork for the first one. He gave me nearly complete creative control, so I was able to make something that fit my aesthetic, but also appealed to his tastes. The drawing for the first painting is below:

The subject matter is actually reminiscent of some of my older relief prints, where I would do large scenes of characters in urban settings. In this case, the time period is a bit different (late 19th/early 20th century), and in a rare instance, all of the characters are human. The final painting will be watercolor at about 17" x 35." Like I said, a summer project. I'll post process photos as the painting develops.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

My 'God' Comic

It seems that God is a fairly popular subject among cartoonists, whether as an object of reverence, or as a source of hypocrisy and control. More often the Almighty becomes a mask for the cartoonist to use to espouse some viewpoint of the world, which boils down to his depressed state in it.

Alas, I too once had aspirations of doing a 'God' comic. While in grad school, I began to work on some pages in my sketchbook with God as a main character, keeping the story spontaneous and without forethought. I think I had some kind of mythic Campbell-ian ideas in mind, where all gods are really one and what not. And as you can see, I got reeeally far (3 pages! Phew!)

But I recently found these pages again as I skimmed through my old sketchbooks, and while they are pretty rough, I still think they're quite enjoyable, and that there is a lot of potential there. And so, I share these with you, dear Web surfer. There may be more to come...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Super Fantastica Comix Review!

A comics anthology that I have work in, 'Super Fantastica Comix 2009,' received a shout out on the popular Web site Ain't It Cool News. Please check it out, and if you have a spare $8, please buy a copy of the book!

Ain't It Cool News
bewilderedkid Store

And to entice you even more, you can read my contribution at my Web site:
Science Fair Goes ZAP!!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Some Follow Ups...

I posted these images in an earlier post, but I've done a little work on them since then. Above is the color version of the Poison Ivy illustration. Special thanks go out to Nicholas Straight (blog: Drawmit!), who did a preliminary color design that helped me formulate the final colors. And below is the Two-Face illustration, which originally had three tones in the background. Thanks go out to Jordan Delmundo (blog: Brown on the Towne) for the recommendation!

Monday, April 20, 2009

MCBA Microcon This Sunday!

Minnesota State Fairgrounds - Progress Center
1621 Randall Ave - Saint Paul, Minnesota 55108

If you're in the Twin Cities area, stop on by for some comic book goodness to usher in spring. I'll have my own table where I'll be selling 'Supernova Lullaby' and 'Toby & Sara' swag, as well as helping out at the Cartoonist Conspiracy table. Thanks everyone!

More info at : MCBA Microcon 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More Batman Villains

Things have been a little quiet around the blog as of late. I've actually been busy for the first time in a long time, with a number of projects converging all at once (and some of them not of my own doing, i.e. I have a client. Woohoo!). However, I find time to do some recreational drawing (a gateway habit, I know), and I'm working on a couple more Batman villain pinups for Microcon coming up the last weekend of April. Both of these originated as smaller, cruder sketches, but I liked them enough to do more finished pieces.

Two-Face - pen & ink with ink wash
I really like the way this turned out! The inks were crisp and solid, partly I think due to the Vellum Bristol, and I'm becoming more comfortable with the ink washes. And here's a factoid: I based the Harvey half of Two-Face on the actor Dominic West, best known for the character of McNulty on 'The Wire.'

Poison Ivy - pen & ink
I've been itching to do this one for a while now, even though I tend to avoid floral settings. I'm tempted to do an ink wash on this one as well, but I'm thinking color would also be a good addition. Should I do both, and then compare? DO I DARE?!?

So there you have it. I am alive and well. More after these messages.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Cutesy but not Cutesy

When I was visiting Philadelphia a week ago, I had the distinct honor of meeting Cutesy but not Cutesy's Diane Koss. In case you don't know, Diane makes monsters...

These are just a few of her creations. While reminiscent of Dr. Seuss crossed with 'Where the Wild Things Are,' these are truly Diane's characters, and once you see the sheer number of them, I think you'll agree. Oh, and did I mention she makes them by hand? Yep, each one handmade, by her hands. Small, medium, and large.

While her work is most readily available at various craft fairs, lucky for you she has an Etsy online store. So please visit and browse around:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Obama's People

Another small project I've been working on is portraits of the new administration. Nadav Kander's photos from the New York Times Magazine served as good source material, and below is a small sampling of what I've done up to this point:

Big Funny Sneak Preview

It's been a while since I've posted anything, but that's because I've been in the midst of some big projects. One of them is Big Funny, a local Minneapolis endeavor, and I've posted the final pencils for my submissions above. These are big, about 19x24, though the final printed anthology will be 16x20. They may be a little hard to read, but hopefully they'll give you an idea of what the final pages will be like.