Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This Moment

From the Sovereign Republic of Northern Ohio, it's This Moment in Black History! Playing a show in Austin Texas with locals Strong Silent Type, The Dead Space, The Gospel Truth, and Fingaar Bangaar which has easily the worst name of any band I've ever had to write on a flier or posters ever. I almost didn't even include it. I don't know if TMIBH is on tour or just playing this show or what. Red 7's good to me though, so, hell yeah Austin people (if there are any reading this), do it up.

My backgrounds are getting crustier and crustier... just letting go and making a mess that could be interpreted as a landscape... of some kind. I mean, the flags are obviously flags, and I was going for a billow of smoke coming out of, if that can be interpreted as downtown Cleveland, that federal court house by the Terminal Tower. I drew this using a pretty beat up watercolor brush on watercolor paper with some Speedball Super Black India Ink that I mixed with some Yasutomo Sumi ink and left the lid off of so it would thicken. It's pretty thick ink.

I used my own hand as a reference for this. Actually, I took a picture of my left hand, and flipped it, but then I didn't save the picture because I wasn't thinking. So, yeah, that's my hand, it's really that beat up and rough. The broken handcuff, it occurred to me not to do because it reminded me of this one poster that my old friend Jake Kelly made, which you can see here: JAKE'S POSTER. However, I didn't want to just have a naked arm, and I think a broken handcuff is a pretty awesome thing to have on your arm. So let's call it an homage to Jake's genius. By actually using the idea, I'm showing my appreciation.

I was slightly on autopilot when I made this poster, and I think that worked out for me. I'm pretty happy with the colors on this background. I like the new move of lightening and adding color to the black areas of the background that I normally would have left just black. It looks way better than I think I planned on that looking.

I saw a wolf on the highway at 2:30 in the morning last night, just walking across I-90 on the near west side. I think it was a wolf, it certainly looked like one. Pretty unusual. I mean, I suppose it could have been a stray dog on the loose, but it was really big and wolf-like. I thought maybe it was a coyote, but I've never heard of any that far east. He was completely alone, there weren't even any other cars on the road.

Here's the color art without the bands just to show it off a little I guess. I tried the move with the white stroke around the character in the foreground, in this case the raised fist pointing, but I didn't like it. It pops enough already and the line was weird because I didn't really clean up the edges of the drawing anyway.

There's so much more work coming down the line here, so if you don't normally check in, feel free to subscribe or follow this blog. I'm going to start some projects on here that may be somewhat interactive... also, feel free to leave comments. They're always appreciated. I don't think I've ever mentioned that on here before. I want to know what you think, if you want to tell me.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Get Your Doom On

It's beautiful outside at the moment, but it's all gloom in The Cave as I finished coloring this piece for Michigan's Beast in the Field, coming back with Bellville, Ohio's Artillary Breath, Cleveland's Deathcrawl and The Great Flood. This is kind of a different look. Not as vivid, not as bright. Keeping it real.

I dunno how real a giant ass buckwild red Owl is, or if all those swords and knives wouldn't pull that Bladesman's belt down, but it's real to me. I believe in giant ass buckwild Owls, though. I believe in a Bladesman carrying a multitude of bladed weapons.

I believe in fairy tales. I believe in comic books. I believe in movies. I believe in storytelling. I believe in the extraordinary life. I believe in the amazing and the epic. I believe in magic. I believe animals can talk. I believe robots can be heartbroken. I believe in the self.

Years ago, I used to think I was a realist. Back then I was doing autobiographical comics that were steeped in keeping it real. Black and white and brutally true. I was wrong. I'm definitely a romantic. Though, I believe romanticism is no less brutally true. If anything it's more so. I actually believe that reality is epic. Reality is majestic. Even in the gloom of doom there's something extremely valuable happening. Something that happens for a very important reason.

I believe in time travel. I believe my cats are mystical creatures. I believe in the science and the fiction. I believe in folk heroes. I believe in ghosts. I believe buildings are watching. I believe in riffs and beats. I believe in holding on.

I do not believe in giving up, even on a lost cause. Probably especially not on a lost cause. I can't. If I believed in giving up, on lost causes or otherwise, I'd have been gone a long time ago. And I believe I'm not going anywhere.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I hope I did this show justice: Melt Banana, Clan of The Cave Bear, The Deathers, Jerk.

This is the night after Genghis Con, so if you're in town for that, why not stay until Monday and see this awesome show? Travel on Sunday is gonna be bananacakes anyway.

This came out slightly more menacing than I had intended. I wanted to go with something more fun and creative. Something that caught the vibe of a giant robot with a mouth for a torso just doing his thing, and a dude with a jetpack taking it to the max. I think it came out a little weird and disturbing, but sometimes that happens.

I'm pretty happy with this drawing in general. It was really really fun to draw. I'm sure it can be said that this piece is sort of traveling on well worn territory for me, but I like to think it's more along the lines of elaborating on familiar thematic overtones. Hey, maybe there's nothing wrong with well worn territory?

The concept originated in my sketchbook. A little square guy that I usually carry around with me. I don't draw in it nearly as much as I wish I did, but I had it with me while waiting at my doctor's office and this jam happened. There's some good drawings in this book. There's one right in the beginning, one I didn't draw, that I'm particularly fond of. I'll hold onto that one forever.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Best Of ...2009

This is what that self portrait was for.

What I really like about being a part of Cleveland Scene's Best Of issue as "Best Concert Poster Artist"is mostly being sandwiched in between a piece about a night once a month where nationally popular DJs play Biggie, Snoop, and Dr. Dre songs in the basement of a club (which, I still listen to Dre's hugely influential The Chronic at least a couple times a month if not more often) and a piece about Kate Voegele, a super young celebrity singer/actress on a major label/TV teen drama (I'm sure she's awesome, but I wouldn't know her if she walked right up to me and told me who she was).I'm also pumped on the mention of Flip Mo Pi. What a dog! The mention of Died Young Stayed Pretty is also pretty cool.

That issue came out last Wednesday. Last year I drew all the art for the issue. When I think of the monumental amount of stuff I've done in the last year, and all the stuff I'm working on for the coming months, it kind of freaks me out. I have so much work to do!

Fortress Europa

I drew this shirt design for KEELHAUL. It'll be available at their fall European Tour dates! Which, that rules for European fans. I have no idea if this will be available in the US, it would be kind of funny if not. I hope so, though, because I want one.

The idea was to have the Phil Lynott from Thin Lizzy wearing wizard gear, a bullet proof vest, and '87 Air Jordans, playing bass while riding a raging Sabretooth Chicken Bunny on a swarm of pitbulls. This is what you get when you roll with Keelhaul! I love it.

This was super fun to draw. It was actually a huge challenge and I think it came out killer. At this point I think I might be able to draw anything. I think. Maybe.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


YES, another Hot Mess Halloween party at Lava Lounge with One Nite Stan and Broooooklyn. Last year for the Halloween party I did the series of Universal Horror characters. This year I was really feeling a spooky haunted house with an anguished face fa├žade and a ghost field of spirits hanging out on the lawn. I also wanted to go bonkers with the colors for maximum mood setting.

I kept the rough really raw and quick, just to get it down on paper. Sometimes that's the hardest part, just getting ideas out the head and tangible. It's one thing to have good ideas or to talk about them until you're blue in the mugg, but if you can't execute the maneuvers to make it perceptible by anybody else... who cares? It's easy to forget that if you can't nail it on the first attempt, you can always try again. Even if your job is hyper time sensitive, and even then... it's not like there won't be any more opportunities. There's always another show. There's always another reason to bust a move. If there's not, book another show. Bust a move on your own.

Here's an example of an attempt that failed. I don't know why I thought I could do a closer shot of the house in agony. It would be one thing if I was drawing the house the party was in, but that's not the case. I'm glad I did this piece though. I had a good time checking out Victorian Architecture, and looking at all kinds of old houses to get the feel of what a haunted house would look like. One of the things I definitely wanted to be happening with a lack of structural stability. I wanted the house to look like it was about to fall over. I wanted it to seem like nobody had done any maintenance in at least three decades.

I took my rough, and used a light box to redraw it better on Bristol board. Then scanned that and laid out the text using this Blackletter font. Note that I messed up and put the wrong address in this step. It's 1307 not 1304. Who knew?

I then inked the living shit out of this drawing. I mostly used a brush and ink, then went in with micron pens for the details. I then took my trusty tooth brush and splattered ink everywhere. I lucked out and didn't spill it on everything. I like how this came out. It's rough and gritty, but that's Cleveland. That's fall.

I listened to the score to The Proposition by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis while I drew this. It's awesome and in parts spooky and creepy.

I used a light box to redraw this text and keep it real. It's pretty simple, but effective. Sometimes I don't do this, and I just design and draw the text freehand. Other instances call for things being more meticulous. There was a lot of info on this one, so I felt the need to make it fit before doing it up.

I drew the ghosts separate. I like ghosts. I like ghosts. I like ghosts.

So, I drop the ghosts on a separate layer on top of the background art. I set that layer's opacity to ...maybe 65%? I can't remember, but it's more than 50%, less than 70%. Anyway, I was really pleased with how that worked out. The ghosts came out pretty good, and not ...threatening, creepy, or scary. They're having a party. A ghost party.

Hellmail 2

Regular readers of Nine Panel Grid may recall I had a letter published last month is B.P.R.D. 1947 #3, and that I was super stoked about it... well:

This much less coherent and completely ridiculous letter appears in the back of Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #7:

The Wild Hunt has been a really really great series, with an intensely insane reveal in issue #6 that had me really chomping at the bit to see what happens next for Hellboy. I'm going to have to go back and reread the story arch before the next issue just to have it all fresh in my mind for the finale. I may go back and reread the entire SERIES starting from the beginning. The 3rd Volume of the beautiful Library Edition hard covers comes out this month. If you've never read any Hellboy comics and have any interest at all in getting into them, I highly highly recommend the Library Editions. They're pricey but worth every cent. The over sized hardcover format gives the material every iota of respect and affection it deserves.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lucky Sunshine

I was at Blue Arrow last Saturday night during the festivities on Waterloo. My friend Katherine was DJing at the party they were having and I got to go in the back and meet Lucky Sunshine, a kitten that Debbie had rescued and was taking care of. He was tiny and sick and adorable. Lucky for Lucky, I have this big belly, a perfect shelf for tiny creatures like sick kittens and the occasional human baby. I'm pretty self-conscious about my big belly. Being paralyzed from the chest down, there's not a lot I can do to slim down without switching to a steady diet of nothing*. However, in the moment, holding a new little guy, fearful and compromised, I was happy about that big belly. He was safe and warm and purring like a motorboat. He was loved and loving it. Debbie and Katherine gave him his medicine and he took it like a champ. A reluctant champ, but a champ nonetheless.

Messier and more thuggish, I think this self portrait is better than the last.

Yes, accurate in this drawing is the update. I got the words DRAW HARD tattooed in Helvetica Bold on my knuckles by Adam at Black Metal Tattoo out in Strongsville, Ohio. This picture is from last friday, about three hours after the fact. These are my first tattoos.

*This is probably most certainly not true at all. I bet if I just regulated my caloric intake and did more cardiovascular exercise I'd probably slim down at least a little bit.

Scum City

This poster, commissioned by The Don of world famous Cicli Polito, is for a bicycle racing event of some insane type. I've done things for Cicli Polito before, specifically a nine foot square display backdrop. I love drawing bicycles. It's hard and weird and looks awesome when you pull it off.

At first I thought I'd go with a background, destroyed city scape, my usual heavy jam. Then I thought better of it. This poster is also going to be printed and laminated at something like, 3" x 4" and be used as a spoke card for the participants of this event. I figured the lass complicated the better for an image at that size. Of course, I never did any proofs or test prints to try this theory out, but... either way, this came out great. I like the simpler background too.

Alright, back to work.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Halloween 2009: It Never Ends

This year Halloween is cram-jammed with fun, awesome, ridiculous things to do in Cleveland. It usually is, every year, but this year seems particularly thick. There's the traditional show at Pat's in the Flats with all the cover bands. Last year I drew a LOST-centrtic poster for the Pat's Halloween show. This year there's also an awesome show on Halloween at Now That's Class, which is also CLOWN NIGHT. Clown Night! Dress like a Clown and get $1 Cans and $1 off mixed drinks. Only at Now That's Class.

I knew I wanted to do a diptych so I roughed them up together, and I knew I wanted to do multiple characters, but keep them separate enough so that each on their own would still work well. I actually tried a couple other ideas before I landed on this one, but I didn't save the sketches. I kind of liked breaking the layout I usually use a little. Not having a bar at the bottom with the venue/date info and including it in the image text worked well enough. Actually, it's one of the things I sometimes worry about, that my standard layout is going to get boring and stale... but it hasn't yet, so... when it does, I'll know and start to switch it up.

This was a lot of fun. Pizza Witch, Spider-Man, Frankenstein Robot Tourist, Voctoran Eye-Ball, Chain-Gang Green Fox? I wanted this Jack-O-Lantern to be more "fun" based than the parallel one, more traditional, I guess. Happier.

Machine Go Boom!
set by Self Destruct Button plus Jae
Grateful Dead set by Kill The Hippies
Flipper set by Mohammed Cartoon
Presidents of the USA by Megachurch plus Leia
Angry Samoans set by Space Dokkers

Spooky Tunes by THUMBS UP! between all this crazy shit! The show is FREE with a Costume, but seriously... I hate wearing costumes and even I do at least something.

I know there's another party going on this night too, but I'll be at Class, dressed as a clown, to see Keelhaul, Dysrhythmia, Sikhara, STATS, Clan of The Cave Bear, Jerk, and Xrin Arms. I know they're setting it up so the bands will all be playing in different places, like in the bar and on the skate ramp. I think this is the first Jerk show since they got back together, and I'm fucking pumped. I know Cave Bear is doing something really fucking awesome for this too, so... definitely NOT to be missed.

If someone can make me a suite anything like the Skullface Hobo Clown one in this poster, I will trade you original art for it, and then probably wear it all winter.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

In Human Form

I'm a bit away from being able to post a bunch of new jams, but in the mean time... I got asked to do a self portrait for something the other day. Not entirely sure what this is going for, but I know where it's going and I think it's good. Why not? I was slightly bummed I couldn't use this piece of me in wolf form, or draw a new version. However, there was a strict No Wolf Form policy. Been a while since I've drawn myself in human form. Things keep changing.

I feel like I spent the last ten years setting up a giant map of dominoes that circled and spiraled through Cleveland, with tendrils to other places. About this time a year ago the ghost of my past Self brushed up against the first one I placed, and since I've just been watching them chain react while rapidly placing new, more complex, patterns in all directions. It's interesting, this time we're in.

Right now, it's the time for us to be doing the things that rule. The things that matter. The things that define us and this time. Right now. We've cut out teeth and survived hard to get here. It's our turn. That's a temporary reality. Don't fuck it up.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Magenta Wolf

This poster is for Genghis Con, which is a Small Press Comic Convention at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland on Saturday November 28th. I'm actually helping to organize the event, along with Scott from Astound! Comics in Westlake. I'm pretty sure this thing is going to be a blast. We're lining up some awesome guests and exhibitors so far. People from Columbus, Michigan, Pittsburgh, and of course, local Cleveland Destroyists.

There's a lot of art in this post. Apparently it takes a lot to explain things if you go the long way around to get them done. I like making things difficult, I guess. I think it makes them better when you actually achieve the insane ass insanity you set out to achieve. Sometimes I worry that I'm actually trying to sabotage my own attempts by making things IMPOSSIBLE. I may have some kind of subconscious fear of success. Then, I unleash the break-dancing Venom within, and impossibilities die violent savage deaths at my hands. So, if I am afraid of succeeding, it certainly doesn't stop me from doing so.

At any rate, this rough was really loose because I knew what I wanted to draw and I knew the best way to get it done. I had done something similar before. This piece is kind of a reaction to what happened in Pittsburgh during the G20 Summit a couple weeks ago. There's a shload of information out there about it, get familiar. It was an infuriating bummer for sure, so I wanted to throw down about it on a poster. That's how I communicate important information. Nobody's gonna listen to me, or read anything I have to write, but a poster that blasts your eye balls is gonna make a fucking point.

So I scanned my loose rough. I knew that I wanted to make a uniformed array of jackboot riot police behind the character reading the comic or zine. I drew one riot cop, scanned that, then copied and pasted a wall of cop sketches. Reduced it for the second row, then reduced it again for the third and fourth. I did this once before, in a poster for The Golden Error and National Suicide Day. It's better to do this in the rough stage because then you can individualize the different cops when you draw the final. If you were to just copy and paste the final guy, they would all be exactly the same, and that would be weak sauce.

Here's the guy. I looked at a lot of pictures of Riot Police, and decided not to use a specific uniform from any specific police department. This uniform is kind of a mishmash of different elements taken from all of them.

So, I printed out my rough, and got to drawing hard. It was actually a lot quicker than I thought it would be. I tried to give each cop a unique stance, but at the same time I also wanted it to look like a solid wall of cops. I wanted your eyes to just take them all in as one big continuous element. It's supposed to scary and imposing, oppressive.

Our hero, the BMX Wolf, on the other hand is just chill. Just totally focused on his reading material. Sitting on a bicycle can be pretty comfortable, but it's still a balancing act. All your weight is being supported on two round wheels, meant to roll. His foot's on the ground, but that was just to show that he's stationary and not moving. Then again, he is on the bike, ready to bolt at a moment's notice. Ready to make a move. He's clearly not afraid or intimidated by the wall of cops, but he definitely knows they're there.

I combined the two pieces, and put a white stroke around the wolf. That makes it pop, and defines things. When things are black and white, sometimes it's still easy to get lost in textures and patterns. Definition solves that, and you won't have to worry about it later when it's time to break out the color palettes.

I have really grown to love coloring. It still takes a long time, and it's still... well, it could probably be better. I know there's ways to use Photoshop that I'm ignoring, and if I knew the full extent of the application I'd probably be a better colorist. However, I'm super stoked at how I'm able to get things to look these days. I like making things bright and colorful. Especially in the face of crushing doom.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Mom's Meatloaf Dinner!

October is upon us! This Sandwich Special of the month at Melt is amazing. Mom's Meatoaf Melt, which when I was given the description was called Mom's Meatloaf Dinner. I feel kinda like I messed that up, that it's the only sandwich not called a "Melt" on my posters, but... maybe that's a good thing. Adds a unique quality to the mix. Gives this poster yet another aspect that makes it stand out. The Hippo Moms baking a Meat Loaf in a very particular kitchen just wasn't enough.

Okay, here's the four one one:

Mom’s Meatloaf Melt

Homemade Beef and Pork Meatloaf, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes,
Spicy Chipotle Ketchup Glaze , Muenster Cheese

Vegetarians and Vegans Rejoice!!
An amazing vegetarian / vegan version will also be available.

I would also like to point out that Melt has a fancy new website: www.meltbarandgrilled.com, complete with a gallery section that includes a gallery of all the monthly, and various, posters I've done for them. You will now be able to buy a special limited edition signed and numbered print of each and every Melt poster that I make. These will be bigger and of higher quality than the versions that have been available at the restaurant so far. Not that those are anything to sneeze at, they will still be available. There's a lot of fun stuff on that site, be sure to check it out. My good friends at Boondock Walker did an excellent job! AND It's going to keep getting better!

Here's the rough jam. Again, super rough. I think this was actually version 3 or 4. I tried a multitude of Hippo faces, just to get a feel before landing on a hyper-cartoon version. In my travels doing the research for this I had to look at some photos of ...baby hippos:

Holy shit that's cute.

Here's the Real Deal Holyfield, without the sandwich or the text to clutter up the view. This came out slightly darker than I wanted, but I don't mind because it sets the text and the sandwich apart, makes it pop, takes it to the next level and pushes it to the limit. It's also a 50s style kitchen, which probably were dark places, y'know, back before the internet, before electricity even.

I'm pretty proud of the autumnal tree in the background and fresh baked apple pie on the window sill, which are entirely covered by text on both the poster and then in the ad in both The Scene and The Independent. I usually don't post it, but just to give internet readers a glimpse of what Clevelanders are subjected to while looking through one of our local news rags, here's the design for the ad that I put together using the elements of the poster:

Speaking of ads, I totally forgot to post this before, but... last month I drew this ad for the back of a program for a show at The Beck Center in Lakewood, Ohio:

First time in a long time that I used elements that I didn't actually draw. Also, TYPE that I didn't hand write! The world is upside down and inside out. What next????