Friday, December 17, 2010

'Meetings & Greetings' now available through Etsy

The Ballad of Toby & Sara: Meetings & Greetings is now available for purchase in my Etsy store. $10 + shipping and handling. The store will only be open for a few more days before the Christmas holiday, so make sure to pick it up soon!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

'The Ballad of Toby & Sara: Meetings and Greetings' - now in print!

Earlier this week, I returned home to find 3 boxes of these waiting for me...

The Ballad of Toby & Sara: Meetings and Greetings is the result of the Kickstarter campaign that finished up a month ago. It includes Track 5 of the ongoing series, plus two stories that I'm calling 'B-Sides,' stories which focus on the supporting cast of the story, but which aren't part of the main narrative. The previous four chapters made their debut back in 2008, and for a while I was in doubt that the continuation would see the light of day. But I really and truly persevered this year and made a valiant effort to finish Track 5, and well, here we are today.

And I must tip my hat to the people at Bookmobile in Minneapolis, Minnesota who printed this book. I've used them in the past, but they really and truly outdid themselves this time around. The blacks are rich and crisp, the grey tones look excellent, and there are even some full page bleeds in the book. It's well done and well crafted, and I'm a fiend for that sort of thing.

I'll be sending the books to those who pledged to the Kickstarter campaign over the weekend, and then I'll post the book in my Etsy shop on Monday. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

No love for Bear & Octopus

click to enlarge

This was my recent submission for the City Paper's Comics Issue here in Philadelphia, but sadly, it didn't make the cut for the issue. I have some serious questions about their selection process, but in reality, I'm just another obscure dude making comics, so I doubt the editors are losing sleep about my opinions.

There's a political tone to this comic, though I think it's more about political rhetoric than it is about party/partisan politics. I think one success was the dynamic between Bear and Octopus. In their previous adventure, they had the same personality essentially, and acted in unison when needed. Here, Octopus is developing more of a surly attitude, which clashes with Bear's naive, blindly optimistic attitude.

I have one more comic in mind for these two, but after that I may shelve these two for a bit. Their fun to work with, but I don't think they're ready for public consumption.


A simple character sketch of the new Sherlock Holmes, from the BBC's recent Sherlock series.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Before the Holiday Storm

Cluttered Desk, Cluttered Mind

Evidence Control

Penny for your Records?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A Bear and Octopus Rejection

So, it's Election Day, and I'm kind of in a crappy mood, so it's probably not the best time to post and write about a rejected comic. I submitted the above comic for the next issue of Secret Prison.

In all honesty, though, I don't think the rejection was a bad thing. I was never really into this comic, and I think it kind of shows. It features characters that I've never worked with before, and I have no f@*king idea what to do with them. And really, the last thing I need right now is another set of characters to occupy my time.

I was going to use Bear and Octopus in a comic submission for the City Paper here in Philly, but the more I work on that comic, the more I hate it and the complete premise of the two characters. If I don't feel it in my gut, there's probably a reason why.

The deadline is November 15, and I have no other ideas for it, so I'm probably just going to skip it. Yeah, sure, it would probably be good to 'network' and get 'exposure.' But I highly doubt a crappy, ill-conceived comic in an alternative newsweekly is going to blow the lid off of what little career I have.

Man, I'm in a mood.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bounty Hunters in Love

Bounty Hunters in Love
pen and ink on Bristol, digital coloring

This is quite possibly the geekiest thing I have ever done. And as far as I know it hasn't been done before, which surprises me. Then again, it could just be hiding from me somewhere on the interwebs.

But the next question is...what do I do with it? T-shirts? Wedding invitations? If you have an idea, drop a line if you like. I love this, but at the same time, I have no idea what a practical application would be.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Now with Color (plus a new Myth Drawing)

Added some watercolor to some previous Monster/Myth drawings. Still just experimenting at this stage, but but I'm fairly pleased with how things are going.

Perseus & the Medusa
Watercolor, Pen & Ink on Watercolor Paper

Watercolor, Pen & Ink on Watercolor Paper

And a new Myth drawing (can't really call it a Monster drawing).

Orpheus & Eurydice
Pen & Ink on Watercolor Paper

All of these will be for sale at the MCAD Art Sale in mid-November, so if you're in the Minneapolis area and are looking to purchase some art, keep an eye out for them during the sale.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Kickstarter pledge drive for 'The Ballad of Toby & Sara'

For those of you that have been following the progress of the next chapter of The Ballad of Toby & Sara, I just wanted to let you know that I started a Kickstarter pledge drive to raise funds for a print run of the new book. This is a great chance to pre-order the book, as well as get some other great books, prints, merch, and even some original art. Take a look at the page, and please place a pledge, every little bit counts! Thanks, we love you.

The Ballad of Toby & Sara Kickstarter Page

Some Alien Drawings

A couple alien drawings, before I add some color...

Galactic Drifters: Norbel, Irbit, and RX-155
pen and ink on watercolor paper, 9" x 12"

The Thinking Droid
pen and ink drawing on watercolor paper, 12" x 9"

More Monster Drawings

Some more monster drawings, before I add some color...

pen and ink on watercolor paper, 9" x 12"

Perseus & the Medusa
pen and ink on watercolor paper, 9" x 12"

Friday, September 17, 2010

Theseus & the Minoatur

Theseus & the Minotaur
Pen & Ink on Watercolor Paper, 8.5 x 11

This will be my contribution to The Monsters Project, a benefit sponsored by the Comics Alliance for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. The piece will be available to bid on at APE, and on eBay through October. Once I have more details, I'll pass them along.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

SPX 2010 Thoughts

It's been a couple days since my return from SPX, and fortunately for all of us, my initial positive impressions of the show still seem to hold true. This is a rare thing, my friends. Most of the time, when I have time to ruminate on something like this, I find aspects that are disagreeable, but that hasn't happened this time around.

What is there to say? Friends were made, books were traded (some of them were even sold!), promo postcards were passed out, food was eaten, beer was drank, bricks were given away as awards. Usually at conventions I'm fretting about sales, but at SPX I decided to have fun. I think once I let myself off the hook in terms of profits, I was able to make the most of what the convention had to offer. Sound business sense? Probably not. But do I feel a stronger connection to the comics community at large? A resounding yes.

And for those of you that are fans of The Best Show on WFMU, SPX was crawling with FOTs (that's short for 'Friends of Tom'). If Tom Scharpling himself paid a visit, I'm sure he could have walked out of there with a stack of comics without even opening his wallet.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Watercolor Sketches for SPX

So, I won't be debuting any new comics at SPX (unfortunately), but I have been making some new watercolor sketches. Nothing too refined, but I think my technique is getting better. I'm not sure how well they'll be received at an indie comics expo, but we'll just have to see, won't we.
Desire and Delirium of the Endless
(a personal favorite)
(a classic look, kind of like Ditko or Romita, Sr.)

Doctor Octopus

(I hate the traditional costume, so I took some liberties with the design)

Roorshacki from Watchliens
(So, last year I did a poster that was a 'Supernova Lullaby' riff on 'Watchmen.' I haven't done anything with those versions of the characters since then, and for some reason decided now would be a good time to work with them again.)

Night-Woot and the Blue Spectre from Watchliens

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Small Press Expo this weekend! September 11-12!

Yes, I will be exhibiting for the first time at the Small Press Expo this weekend in Bethesda, Maryland. After attending last year, I'm excited to have a table this time around and to really be a part of the action. At table C10B you'll find comics in all shapes and sizes, original drawings and artwork, prints, and all sorts of merch.

And, if nothing else, there will be a chocolate fountain.

Click on the image above for complete info.

'The Ballad of Toby & Sara: Track 5' now available online!

As you may have guessed, this is the official announcement for the online release of the next 'Toby & Sara' chapter, which can be read at the following link:

The Ballad of Toby & Sara: Track 5 - Meetings & Greetings

I've started work on a more reader friendly site, but this will take a while to build, so hopefully the pages at my main website will suffice for now. This chapter has been in the works for 2+ years now, and I'll be honest, to have it done and complete is a huge weight off my shoulders. It's a pivotal part of the story, and I think it's a pivotal moment for my own personal and professional development as well.
Now, some of you may be asking, 'How do I get a printed copy?' Well, as of now there is no print version, and I'm not sure when I'll have one available. Cash flow has been tight recently, and I'm not in a position to just plunk a printing charge on my credit card. In the end, I'm going to have to do some old fashioned fundraising. I'd like to attempt a Kickstarter campain, and hopefully SPX will prove fruitful this weekend. As always, you'll be the first to know of new ideas, items, and promotions as they come along.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Read Comics in Public Day

Green Line Cafe, 43rd and Baltimore, Philadelphia, PA

I found the declaration and timing of this 'day' to be a little odd and slightly amusing, especially with the brouhaha being stirred up by the whole Glenn Beck rally on MLK's 'I Have a Dream Speech' anniversary. And I guess I've never been ashamed of reading comics in public anyway, I've done it before, and I'll no doubt do it again. My experience has been that no one has noticed or cared, or even realized that I was reading a comic. Maybe I've always gotten strange and hateful looks while I was reading, who knows...

However, I understand the purpose of the day, and so if it helps to raise the visibility of comics in the public domain, so be it. On my weekly excursion to Green Line Cafe, I brought along two books by Jason, Why Are You Doing This? and The Left Bank Gang. Jason is fast becoming one of my favorite artists, and these two books could well topple Goodbye Chunky Rice from the top of my favorites list.

I love this quote from The Left Bank Gang, spoken by none other than James Joyce (as an anthropomorphic bird). When asked why he does comics, he replies: "It's the only thing I know how to do. I can't drive a bus or hit a nail with a hammer. I can tell a story in tiny pictures and fuck up my eyesight a little more every day."

This pretty much sums up my philosophy for comics.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Over the course of the past year, I've had a couple commissions that have...surprised me. I was asked to make cartoon portraits featuring pets, and more specifically, dogs. Don't get me wrong, I'm always flattered when someone asks me to make something for them, but in this case I was a little confounded. I don't consider myself to be an expert at drawing animals, and haven't really gone out of my way to draw them in my personal work. So, I found it a little odd when I was asked twice to do similar commissions. If nothing else, it forced me to actually incorporate animals into my drawing style, and they both turned out to be fun.
The above commission was pretty straightforward, just a simple portrait of two greyhounds. Nothing specific about background or action. So, using the reference photos given to me, I tried to figure out the personalities of the dogs, and develop a scene from there. According to the client, I came pretty darn close too!

This next one was a little more intensive. It was a larger size, with three dogs, and portraits of their owners as well. I was also asked to compose it after the cover for 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.' However, since the couple doesn't live in New York City, I attempted to convey more of a midwest, neighborhood vibe. And as you can see in the background, I'm working with color line variations as a way to separate the foreground from the background. The final image was printed on a really nice fine art paper from I think everyone, including myself, was very pleased with the end result!

So, all in all, if you have an idea and you think my style might suit your purposes, look me up. It could be dogs, cats, your family, those sci-fi characters you've been writing about for so long, or if you really want to get on my good side, one of my own characters. I'm always willing to it a shot.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Most awesome thing I've ever drawn? Maybe...

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Indiana Jones in watercolor

Indiana Jones
Pen & Ink, Watercolor

Another movie illustration, this one a little more intensive with the addition of watercolor. I kept it a little loose, and didn't worry too much about neatness and what not. I found it more enjoyable that way, frankly.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Random News and Notes

- 'The Ballad of Toby & Sara: Track 5' will make its full debut on my main website by the end of August. Like I said in the previous post, the pages are done, I'm just adding a grey tone to the artwork. As for an actual printed book, this may have to wait due to a certain lack of funds to do an adequate print run. I am, however, contemplating a Kickstarter drive. I'll keep you posted if this develops into anything.

- I'll be attending two more conventions this year. The first one comes up next Sunday, August 8, at PACC (the Philadelphia Alternative Comic-Con). Then, in September I'll be exhibiting at SPX in Bethesda, Maryland the weekend of September 11-12. If you're in the area for either of these, please stop by.

- I have a comic in the upcoming issue of Secret Prison, a free comic tabloid distributed around Philly. The comic met its Kickstarter goal, and is set to debut at PACC. If you're not in the area and would like a copy, email me and I'll find a way to get you one.

-I've never been to Comic-Con International in San Diego, CA, but I found Tom Spurgeon's overview of the most recent one over at The Comics Reporter insightful and observant, as always.

If you're having trouble understanding Inception, this timeline infographic over at Deviant Art by dehahs might help you.

Monday, July 19, 2010

'Toby & Sara: Meetings and Greetings' dilemma

Back in April at MoCCA, I was offering a small, 15 page preview of the next 'Toby & Sara' chapter 'Meetings and Greetings.' I haven't heard back from many people, but the response was positive if a little bit hesitant. In this comic, however, I had announced that the remaining pages would debut in June 2010.

Well, June 2010 has come and gone, and July 2010 is about to close its door as well. So I'm here to say that the pages are DONE. I could conceivably lay them out and send a new book to the printer, or upload them to my main website. So, why haven't I?

As I was cleaning up and preparing the final pages, I couldn't help but think that, yes, these are good pages, but that an additional element would help immensely, something to really focus the readers attention on the characters, and to add depth to the visual settings of the story. My drawings can tend to become cluttered with a lot of visual information, and as I've learned from working on 'Supernova Lullaby,' the use of color and tone can help guide the reader in how they experience the comic.

Thus, I've decided to incorporate gray tones into these new 'Toby & Sara' pages. Below, I've posted samples of a few pages, both with and without the gray tones. I'd love to hear your comments, if you are so inclined.

Page 3
Page 14

Page 17

A couple things to watch out for in 'Inception'

First off, this isn't a review of Inception, there are already hundreds out there who have critiqued the film in both positive and negative lights. But as I was watching it, I noticed two undercurrents to the film that I thought worth sharing. As you probably know or can tell from my work, I'm a bit of a mythology geek, and so whenever I see or notice something mythic going on, I pay attention a little more.

So, there are two myths, both Greek, whose DNA flows through the story of the movie. One is the myth of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth. Christopher Nolan, the director and writer, by no means hides this allusion. Ellen Page's character in the movie is named Ariadne, who provides the hero of the original myth with the means of getting out of the Labyrinth and vanquishing the monster.

The other myth, however, plays out in a much more subtle way in the movie. The parallels aren't as literal as the Labyrinth one, but I couldn't help but see traces of Orpheus and Eurydice in the film. Orpheus, who goes down to the Underworld to retrieve his lost love Eurydice, only to lose her again. Nolan is much better at hiding this parallel, and in the end even subverts it a little bit.

That's all I'll say for now, just a couple hints before you see the movie (or see it again, as may be the case for many of you). I may go into a bit more detailed analysis at a later point, but I don't want to give away too much of the plot at this stage of the film's release. And truth be told, I'm not even sure how I would describe it from beginning to end.

(Oh, and in case you wondering, I really liked the film. An intense ride that caught me from the beginning and didn't let go for 2 1/2 hours. I can't think of any movies in recent memory that have done the same thing.)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Movie Illustrations Project (ongoing)

These are two illustrations for a project that I had good intentions to execute. The premise is fairly simple, do 8x11 drawings of characters from various movies, not only to practice my skills but to also have something to sell at conventions. Needless to say, this and that comes up, and before you know it, the project has fallen to the wayside. Wah wah.

So, these are the first two drawings that are the most developed. I'm tempted to add color to them, either with a set of Pitt brush markers that I picked up recently, or with watercolor (though I'm fearful that the water color would warp the paper). Though I'm kind of pleased with the black and white too. Decisions, decisions...

Johnny 5 from Short Circuit

Richie Tenenbaum from The Royal Tenenbaums

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Secret Prison #2! Kickstarter! Help us out!!!

I’ll have a comic in the second issue of Secret Prison, a free comic tabloid based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. But right now we’re raising funds to print it, and we’re asking for your help! Check out our Kickstarter page, and come away with some awesome swag. But hurry, there’s only 10 days left!!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

A few thoughts on the passing of Harvey Pekar

Earlier today, it was announced that Harvey Pekar, the acclaimed writer of the long running comic American Splendor, died at the age of 70. The news circulated through both major media outlets like the New York Times, and through the internet via Twitter, Facebook, and sites like the Comics Reporter. And for good reason, Pekar's presence on the comics and cultural scene helped shape what comics are today, and how they are regarded by major critics and everyday readers alike.

I never met Pekar, I don't have any enlightening anecdotes to share with you, that's a subject for others to relate. I've read a sizable portion of his work, but I probably should have read more by now. However, I was always touched by the honesty, humor, and reality that I found in his stories. That's a rarity to find even nowadays, which makes Pekar's work even more essential to the community as a whole.

To me, more than anything, Harvey Pekar is sort of a patron saint to any cartoonist who slogs through a day job they don't want be at, only to go home and work on comics that may or may not be read by anybody. It can be lonely work, and the rewards are few and far between, but Pekar's example proves that by continually doing the work and putting that work out there for people to see, you will find admirers, and new stories to tell and new avenues to explore. Maybe that's romanticizing his impact, but that's just what his work meant to me.

For every fast rising star over the comics landscape, there are hundreds more below hunched over drawing tables, writing and scribbling and sketching out ideas during those few hours between the paycheck job. Thank God we had Harvey Pekar to show us how to get it done.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Simon Schama's The Power of Art

I will confess here and now that I'm a bit of a jaded Artist. (Okay, I'm jaded about things in general, but still....). Call it the Curse of Grad School, but I have difficulty in finding warm affection for that thing called Art, even though I've been educated in it through and through and I'm attached to it as a livelihood. The 'Shock of the New' is no longer shocking nor that new, and the museums that house the Old Masters seem more like mausoleums than places of discovery.

So, I have to give credit to Simon Schama's Power of Art for at the very least forcing me to look again at the culture of Art, its history, and how it relates to me as a person in the 21st Century. I checked this out from the library with a bit of skepticism, but a couple episodes in and I was truly hooked, eating up all eight episodes in one weekend.

What was it that caught my eye? What made me a true believer? Was it the production, the artists, Schama's voice itself? That last part may not be far off, because I think what made each episode remarkable was the one thing that I always look for in a work of art: storytelling. Each episode opens and ends with a work of art by an artist, and then branches out to encompass their body of work and their personal history. In this, Schama is an impeccable guide, he knows how to spin a good yarn and to transform these artist biographies into a living, breathing narrative. And by doing this, Schama removes them from the pedestals of High Art and High Society, and shows just how connected they were to the politics, religion, commerce, and upheavals of their respective eras. None of these artists are saints, each of them is flawed, and all of them had to struggle to bring their visions to life.

Of the eight artists profiled, the one that effected me the most was Mark Rothko, surprisingly. Part of this was due to the fact that I didn't know much about Rothko to begin with, and I'm not immediately drawn to abstraction. But in the episode Schama confesses that he himself wasn't an immediate admirer of Rothko, that he too had doubts. This admission opened up the possibility for me that there might be something more with Rothko's work that I'm not seeing, that even doubters can become believers. And sure enough, I discovered that within Rothko's work there is a sense of contemplation, that Rothko is creating a place and space for the viewer to be silent in a world that no longer allows it. Schama states that Rothko treats every viewer as a 'human being, and what other higher compliment could there be than that.' One would hope that all Art would attempt the same.

There are other high points. Caravaggio's episode is excellent, and the Van Gogh episode digs deeper to understand the artist's psyche beyond just the 'tortured genius' argument. Though Schama uses 'genius' anyway, and actually throws it about just a little too much with all of the artists. But no matter, Schama is in love with his subject, and that devotion is clear through each episode. His goal isn't necessarily to educate, but to open your eyes to the possiblities that Art possesses, not only in the past, but one would hope in the future as well.