Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Mech vs J Grit

So Andy MacDonald, AKA A Mech, is coming to Cleveland for Genghis Con! He did this sweet sweet line art for this poster for the show.

Then, after he also drew the background, he let me throw down some mass colors on that thing, and drop our standard GC Designs on the thing:

Genghis Con is shaping up to be one for the ages, for more info check in with our old pal facebook.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Here's the second of my two "two shows two cities one poster" pieces. The other being for Music Saves/Square Records joint Holiday Get Down. This jam is for Cleveland's mighty Filmstrip and The Kyle Sowashes from Columbus. Fox Japan is playing the Dec. 18th Columbus show at The Treehouse. All Dinosaurs are playing the Dec. 19th show at Now That's Class in Cleveland.

I did another flip-able poster before, for a Keelhaul/Municipal Waste show in Austin, Texas last year. I also used a CMYK color scheme for that one. I like this design move. It's fun and lends itself to that positive/negative thematic conflict idea. Which reminds me of a dialogue from LOST, where John Locke is talking about ...backgammon.

That robot is so happy. Columbus, where Happy Robots learn to love in the forest garden. The Cleveland robot is just a tough mean Heavy. This is not unrealistic.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dinosaur Jr

The mask is for protection, as much as anything. It hides the truth under that smile, under that expression. Keeping any and all outside and at arm's length. Oh, don't worry, it's all good. The bandages cover up the nicks and scratches, the cuts and abrasions. Gives them time to heal, keeps them hidden. They'll go away. Soon, they'll be scars. Scars, chicks dig.

Harpoon? Through the chest? I don't know what you're talking about.

This poster has no practical application, the show Friday and sold out. So, yeah... commemorative poster anyone? Comment or get at me and I'll hook you up. Dinosaur Jr was actually the first band I ever saw live. They opened for Neil Young at Blossom when I was 14. Beckett Warren's dad took us and I think we got there just as they were playing. I remember it being super loud, but other than that, my memory is foggy. This is the first I've ever heard of Gypsy Nomads. I don't have a ticket, so I'll probably be in The Monastery drawing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Holiday Get Down 2009

Your 6th Annual Holiday Get Down, presented by Music Saves and Square Records! Casual Encounters, The Walkies, Talons, Shiny Penny are playing two shows back to back. I'm working on another poster like this for two shows in Cleveland and Columbus. It's strange how things happen at the same time like that.

I struggled like crazy to come up with this piece. Seriously. I really wanted to draw something fun, like, party-centric fun. I don't think I even know how to HAVE fun, much less draw it. Seriously, I was drawing polar bears making snowmen, and penguins playing instruments, then a super bundled up Santa-Cat! None of it looked all that good, or fun. So, I searched my heart for what I really felt about this jam. What would make me want to go to a party, or two parties, in December? Well, a cozy, obviously warm, glowing building in the middle if a blizzard with a million footprints leading the way.

I decided to go with a lone polar bear, guitar slung across his back, on the long walk through the snow. Layered up, the winter is upon us... or, it's supposed to be. After I worked all night drawing in the cold, then printed till 4:30am, slept for a couple hours, and came back to The Monasery... the place is flooded with sunshine. It's almost like it's warm in here. Unbelievable. It's November. I'm sure the other shoe will drop any minute.

I really really like how these colors came out. I added a layer of splatter that I changed to white for the snow. I think the glow of the windows came out awesome. I almost spent another half hour or so adding a ton more subtle changes, but then had a moment of clarity where I realized I was done, and to proceed would be to overwork this one. So I saved it, and gave it a name. That name was Finished.

Giant Dog-Wolf Occasion

Another show at The Happy Dog, with Stimulus Package (their last show), Cobra Verde, Good Touch Bad Touch.

Brittany from Stimulus Package asked if there was a story behind this piece. I'm sure there is, I'm just not 100% certain what it is. Sometimes I have a story in mind, or I add details and things that are specific, or references to things that are happening with me or people I know. I actually love doing that, and feel like it's one of the reasons why people even like my work at all.

This one is an occasion where I just got an idea and ran with it. Well, Brittany had also mentioned that she liked wolves, so I knew I wanted to include a wolf. I wish this wolf looked more wolf-like and less dog-like, but still... it's a lady riding a giant dog-wolf! Taking out some creepy soldier/cops. I think maybe this character will be back. Yeah, definitely.

I've got a lot more on the way this week, I'll never sleep again.

Monday, November 09, 2009

A Bachelor in Cleveland

This is the first of a new monthly series of posters I'll be doing for The Beachland, and Cleveland Bachelor, a blog about Cleveland stuff.

This is a situation where I had never heard of any of these bands, so I had to actually look them up and make sure I didn't draw anything too divergent. Evangelicals are from Norman, Oklahoma. Holiday Shores are from Tallahassee, Florida. Mother Country Madmen, are locals. Booyah.

We're going with a recurring character for this project, so I figured I would at least spend a couple minutes trying to do the design work that I'm going to use for the long haul. Justin, THE Cleveland Bachelor, suggested a robot, dinosaur, or viking character with characteristics suspiciously similar to a college professor... so I went with a robot, because any dinosaur I want to draw probably wouldn't be as versatile and vikings... vikings need to be taken seriously. I figured there would be a sense of humor about at least some of these posters. Vikings need to be taken seriously.

I toiled with this layout for a little while. I'm trying now, not to repeat myself too much. I almost went with a giant deer-headed creature climbing up on the busted ass city, maybe coming out of a body of water. Instead I felt the need to play it more subtle... an OPEN GRAVE. Maybe I'm still a little infected by Halloween, and maybe I just like the idea of resurrection. Anyway, there's the ruff.

So, this is about as detailed as I felt like getting with these pencils. This is the first poster I designed in The Monastery, the new studio space I've been renting and finally moved into this weekend. The Monastery is awesome. I really really like working there. This isn't the first drawing I did there, but it's the first poster. Though, I totally miss my cats while I'm there.

The inks came out pretty loose, I think. I like it. It's good to loosen up every now and then. I think the tree could have used a reference, but I knew that most of that would be covered by text anyway. I planned for that.

Yeah, colors. I'm actually really happy with how this came out, color-wise. This, I didn't really plan out at all and just kinda worked out as I went. I think my cats are kind of freaking out about the fact that now there's absolutely nothing in The Cave. It's pretty empty. I need to remedy that soon. A couch? A hot tub? A cave-size maze-like series of kitty trees and kitty condos? Suggestions are welcome.

So, tonight at Midnight I'm going to start a 24 Hour Comic. I've wanted to do this for a while, and I never set aside the time. Well, I'm doing it. So, yeah. At the very least it will be something new for Genghis Con, at the most it will be another chapter in the series of Clevelyn stories I've been telling in Shiner.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Map Out That Disaster

No time for Love, Dr. Jones! I'm in the throws of making moves so it's just gonna be a quick post today: The Chinese Stars from Providence, RI, Casual Encounters, Filmstrip, and Johnny Utah.

I spent a very long time thinking this one out, considering how simple it is. It just took a little focus to map out that disaster.

I really like how this came out though. I think the softer foreground colors was a good move, too. I dunno... I've been pushing it for a minute. We'll see where it goes next. Who knows?

Right now I'm blasting Black Pus. Body On The Tide. It's probably cold, but the sun is out.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Cave

I just realized while I was working, that today is the last day I'll be working in The Cave. I just took this series of pictures to make this weird looking collage to mark the occasion. I love that both los dos gatitos got in it. That's Rider on the printer/copy machine, and Chalita on the kitty condo on the far right. It'll still be The Cave and I'll still live in it, but I'm moving the studio out into a space I'm renting behind Front Room Gallery. I think I'm going to call it The Monastery:

I've been working in this apartment since the day I moved in, ten years ago. I'm not sure how I feel about making the move, other than it really needs to be done. I'm looking forward to working in a new place, and having it separate from my home. At the same time, I'm not entirely sure what I'll actually DO in The Cave without the studio being here. I know my cats are probably going to love having a lot more space to hang out in.

Hey, look, I got a haircut:

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Another AKIRA themed poster for Municipal Waste, this time with Brutal Truth! Also Phobia, and Cauldron. This time at The Grog Shop in scenic Cleveland Hts, Ohio.

This time I can do a short process piece:

I drew this one before the Testuo piece, and initially hadn't decided on using Yamagata as the character. I just wanted a dude with knuckle tattoos holding nunchucks, the rest just kind of came together.

I think this may have been inked with haste. I feel like I breezed through it to get it done, and it worked to the benefit of the overall piece. Sometimes there's an energy to inking quickly that actually appears in the final.

The background I definitely brushed out quickly. Again, I think it came out awesome that way. I wish I had scanned the pencil version of this, but I think it was totally loose and raw and the inks were just thrown onto that. I think I left a lot of the detail up to being able to use the brush. Even on the bike, I feel like I didn't even come close to fully rendering it before breaking out the ink. I never would have done that before. I like being confident enough to trust in my skills that I can just let go an start making moves. It's a good place to be. I think.

Okay, this is where things got thick and started to take time. I knew that I wanted to color the character with pretty straight forward flat colors with no real gradients. I don't know if I was trying to mimic any specific 80s anime coloring, but I definitely wanted the character to be distinct from the background. So with the background I kind of went crazy with the brushy painterly coloring style. I think I actually had to reign it in at one point. I didn't want any deep black to be in the background so the character would be very striking. I added the zip-a-tone to the background too, and colored that accordingly. That kind of adds a comic style feel, I think, but also just looks cool.

Okay, here's some more pages from the AKIRA books. These are from Volume 1. Aside from looking cool, and having a great design, I think Yamagata is one of the more tragic characters of the series. He's not really in the story much, but he comes off as a really rough dude, with a deep sense of honor and respect. This, of course, is not unlike many tragic characters from any given Samurai film. Anyway, here's a two page sequence where he's leading the biker gang against the rival Clown Gang now being lead by his old friend Tetsuo.

I think that's a pretty perfect double page spread. There's a strange upside-down/mirror image thing happening with those few quiet panels just focused on Yamgata waiting, staring off panel. It's not a fearful look, nor enthusiastic. At it's root, I think AKIRA is a story about friendship. It's about sharing time and space with people and growing together. It's about making friends and having adventures, in a world where everything is always at stake. I mean, it's also about biker gangs, government conspiracies, rebellions, psychic kids, and widespread collapse of civilization, but I think the root is in the importance of the inter-personal relationships between people that are all deeply involved in both outward and inward struggle, if that makes sense.

Actually, thinking about it now as I type this... I think the few AKIRA comics I had as a kid, and the film, had more of an impact on me than just the urge to be an illustrator and being inspired by Otomo on a graphic level. I think I got really into riding BMX probably in some small part because of goddamn AKIRA. Growing up in Lakewood on the early 90s, that's when sudden gangs of BMX Riders started showing up cruising down Detroit in wild packs. It was awesome, like a comic come to life, as far as I was concerned.

Here's some pages that were actually in the one issue I had that I reread a thousand times, AKIRA #3 from the Epic run:

I love the busted up bike on the far left in panel one, with the girls being rushed as the riders all go headlong into traffic. I love that. It's the details that make this shit so good, but also... I dunno, there's just a scope of it.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Municipal Waste, Goatwhore, Phobia, and Cauldron at Red 7 in Austin, Texas.

I went with Tetsuo, from AKIRA. Such an immensely great comic. This is obviously after Tetsuo loses control of his arm, but hasn't completely lot it yet.

Gah! I screwed up the quote at the bottom of the poster, I didn't even check. Anyway, this is a great panel from Vol. 4 of the Dark Horse black and white book versions of the series. I think it's the best way to read them. I've read all the old Epic color versions. In fact, when I was just a pup, I gripped issues 3 and 10 at a convention and lost my mind at how incredible they were. I don't know if I held onto those issues, but they were hugely influential on my desire to be an artist. I haven't thought about that in years. I used to reread them over and over again. Now I've read the big collections maybe as many as 8 or 9 times. There's something about the black and white that gives the story something more... I dunno, timeless?

Otomo rendered the destroyed city better than anybody. I learn so much looking at his pages and his backgrounds. Vol. 4 is easily my favorite because it's already 1000 pages into the story and he's reintroducing all the characters that you followed all the way up to that point. All bets are OFF after the climax of Vol. 3. I especially love Tetsuo's arch in this volume.

Here's a great sequence of pages where he's meditating on top of some rubble, while a crazy out of control battle is taking place over the span of what must be 150 - 200 pages.

That's page 317, Tetsuo creating a storm with his mind.

Page 347! Still going 30 pages later. What a bonkers bananacakes dude. I love it.

Monday, November 02, 2009

New Bomb Turkey

Another month, another special sandwich at Melt, another poster.


Mesquite Smoked Turkey Breast
Mom's Homemade Sage Stuffing
Roasted Butternut Squash Purée
Sweet Cranberry Dipping Sauce
Muenster Cheese

This and last month's two Melt posters are now available in The Shop on The posters are 12 x 18, signed and numbered prints on a nice heavy paper.

I can't really post that comprehensive of a process on this one because I mistakenly ruined the master file while I was redesigning the poster into ads for Scene and The Independent. Such a bone head amateur move. I feel like I've been making a lot of bad moves and mistakes lately. I even screwed up during the process while coloring this and had to redo about an hour's worth of work. I also cut it really close on some other poster that should have been done a bit ago. It still got done, just later than I would have liked. I'm going to post that one soon. Well, the good news is there's an awesome sandwich I could go slam to make myself feel better.

Crowd shots are fun, and I like including things that I know full well are going to be covered up by the sandwich or, not so much in this one, but sometimes the text. It may sound like doing more work than is actually necessary, but I find that I just can't wrap my head around not doing a full blown illustration, even if nobody's ever going to see it or know about it. Then again, I'm posting it here, so... there's that.

I don't really know too much about The New Bomb Turks, but they're from Columbus.

Here's a scan of the sandwich drawing before I applied the "Threshold" adjustment in Photoshop, which changes all the pixels to either black or white. That way the line work is easier to select and make other adjustments to, and looks better when you print it, as long as it's at a high enough resolution.

This is another project where I got physically hungry while I was working on this. I was starving when I was coloring this. What was I thinking?

Here's the text. I chose to actually draw the letters out all typewriter distressed style, instead of printing them out and distressing them with my copy machine. This was a really fun piece to do. I like how it's really dark compared to some of the past posters like The Corny Beast or The Soul Vegetarian. I like how these posters, even though they have a uniform look, are all pretty different and unique.