Friday, April 23, 2010


I feel like MEGACHURCH has really gotten some serious heat in recent times, and nobody's earned it more. On Thursday, May 13th, at Front Room Gallery, they're having a Record Release Show for their debut LP! It was actually recorded at Zombie Proof, which used to be in Tyler Village, the same complex that Front Room is in. It was then also pressed at Gotta Groove Records, which is ALSO in Tyler Village. Then, I drew the cover art for it in The Monastery, which is two floors directly above Gotta Groove, right behind Front Room. Then, the next day, they're going on tour with Clan of The Cave Bear.

Here's a widescreen version of the record cover:

I'm also releasing a zine, Caveman Diaries Volume Seven. Clan of The Cave Bear and Swindlella are also playing. This event promises to be a ripper.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

C2E2 2010: Force Baloney

I went to the big time Comic Convention, C2E2, last weekend. It was pretty intense. I barely slept, ate little, and made constant moves in and through Chicago. Overall, I think it was a huge success, despite the fact that I didn't achieve any professional goals. I pitched those out the window almost as soon as I got there. In fact, Friday, when I rolled up onto the con floor, approaching the giant crazy huge big business displays of Marvel and DC, I immediately felt kind of nauseous. I haven't really gone to many big time cons in a while, and I kind of forgot how heavily the presence of commercial forces holds sway. I made my way to Artist Alley as quickly as I could.

Found my dudes M Gun and A Mech right away. Kicked it for a minute, then made my way around the floor. Found King Gum and Food One shortly after and proceeded to squat at their tables for most of the show. It was a total blast to hang out, and I'm grateful to have these decade long unbreakable friendships that feel like we just saw each other yesterday even though sometimes it's been years. Kindred Spirits. Comrades in Arms.

It's good to see evolution happening, Jim Mahfood's art has gotten so thoroughly buckwild and completely free in the past few years. I was knocked out looking at his originals. Seeing him or Dave Crosland draw for people is like watching brain-flowers growing in celebration hyperspeed. By comparison, I feel like a thuggish barbarian: heavy handed and brutal. A colossal mess of breaking things, falling apart. It's fleeting though, because I look around and notice that Jim and Dave, and a handful of others, they're pretty much out there way way way ahead of the pack.

For the most part there's a very strong sense of boredom looming over the majority of the tables in Artist Alley. I see the same big boob drawings, same bad ugly ideas perpetuated, same blank stare on the face behind the table. I see the dude who did one decent drawing ten years ago, got slapped on the back, and has been shilling that single move over and over and over since that day. He's happy, he's stoked, people LOVE that move. I realize this world definitely needs a thuggish barbarian, bringing the heavy brutality to the table. Maybe I love the fact that that's my role, that that's my position to take. Maybe the thing that occurs to me most over the course of looking at what washed up on the shores of Lake Michigan on Friday was "At Least I'm Not That Guy". Which, maybe that makes me a jerk. I don't mean to sound down on Artist Alley, but... Goddamn.

I did have some genuinely legit positive experiences. Saw Ivan Brandon for the first time in ages, but then barely hung out. He did give me a copy of the VIKING Hard Cover though, and it's as unreal and amazing as I expected. I met Eric Canete! One of my all time favorite dudes. Again, way ahead of the pack. His art is so full of intensity, so dynamic and killer. Looking at his originals, his pages, it was like a 16 week course in Drawing Like You Mean IT, packed into a few minutes. I rapped with Gary Gianni, and again, it felt like going to school for a bit. I actually really loved that conversation. I met Guy Davis, whose work has been a constant companion and influence on me for a very long time. I chatted with Jill Thompson for a minute about Beast of Burden. Saw Jamie S. Rich, who is totally OLD now. I think his Grandkids where there, dressed as Jedi Younglings. Saw Ignatz and EISNER AWARD WINNER Nate Powell! What a dude! I gripped Swallow My Whole, and we talked about growing into full time artists. I love that dude. He's another guy that I've only really met a couple times, but it feels like we've known each other since we were 15 or something. He was at Top Shelf's booth, which was absolutely holding it down in the belly of the beast. I never found Jose G and Mike Huddleston's table, but I saw them around, and then again at the afterparty Saturday night.

There was also a shining moment, what seemed like a half hour or so, but was really probably only just a few minutes. Andy and Ivan's table was next to some dude that had a line of people all weekend, so this line would inevitably stretch in front of their business and make it impossible for anybody to look at their stuff. At one point while I was there hanging with Andy, I noticed this little dude, maybe 7 or 8 years old waiting in line. He was just kinda looking at us so I said "Sup, Dude?". That was really all it took. He started talking about how The Force wasn't real, and it was all just made up- WELL NOW, Andy told him No Way, and pointed at me and told him I knew all about how The Force IS REAL... because I'm a Jedi. This, of course, launched into a really fun and hysterical conversation about The Force and how to use it (to find my car keys when they're lost). Mom gave us his sketch book, and I sketched a little weird big eared cat portrait, and Andy drew a full on R2D2 while the back and forth was happening. This little guy at one point said "The Force is Baloney", which led to us calling each other "Force Baloney", then "Force Macaroni", then "Force Anchovy" and finally, "Force Spumoni" which I don't think he even believed exists because how could there be an Ice Cream that tastes like FEET?!? At any rate, it was awesome, and a serious highlight of the Con for me. Engaging with a little dude about Baloney, and The Force, and making the show experience fun. It was great.

I was staying with a friend that used to live in Cleveland, Erin. Her, Andy MacDonald, and I killed a dinner at this awesome spot called Handlebar. They make their own pickles, and we split an order of the Fried Pickles, which were bangin'! I highly recommend this spot if you're ever in Chicago. The menu was all out Vegan/Veg stuff, and really good. I didn't do any other real Chicago-ish things while I was there, except hang out at a crowded bar, which, I was actually falling asleep for most of that though. Pretty uneventful. I did spend a lot of time driving around the city. I liked that, for the most part. Driving down Lake Shore in the afternoon, seeing it all at a slight distance... it's amazing. Driving deep down any street across neighborhoods is also pretty amazing. Maybe that's just me, maybe people hate traffic. I kinda get into it.

Saturday night was the Pop Cultour thing at Reggie's where Food One, King Gum, Jose G, Mike Huddleston, David Mack, Ben Templesmith, and CZR PRZ rocked some live art while DJs played ridiculous music. It was a lot of fun. Again, watching all those dudes draw, especially all huge like that, at a club, surrounded by drunk ass drinkies, while loud hip hop music blasts... it's something. I may have overstayed my welcome, but I think we peaced out just in time.

After all that, I didn't hit the Con on Sunday. I just headed out to my sister's house in the middle of nowhere (seriously, it's an hour and a half from Chicago) at 3am. Slept in my car for an hour or so before having breakfast with my nieces and nephew and then driving home all day Sunday.

Then I slept for 18 hours. Then spent a week in a stupor.

Now I have to put together CMD7.


FINALLY. I'm taking the time to post this up. It's Melt-On-A-Stick Month at MELT! The Triumphant Return of The CORNY BEAST:
Our wicked version of the almighty corn dog!! An ultra jumbo all beef dog char-grilled to perfection, split and stuffed with double American cheese then slathered with our special cornbread batter and deep fried to a golden brown. Chipotle ketchup for dipping. Vegetarians Rejoice!! Meatless version available with tofu dogs!

So for this one, I opted to represent possibly the Corniest, Cheesiest, beast I know of: GREYHOUNDS. It's a DOG-Centric poster in the ocean of Kitten based jams I've been rocking hard. I'm pretty familiar with a multitude of Greyhounds, and I'm telling ya, they're the sweetest, most awesome dudes. As it happens, APRIL is Adopt-A-Greyhound Month. I think if you live in Ohio and are thinking about adopting a dog, you owe it to yourself to get in touch with Greyhound Adoption of Ohio and at the very least find out what they're all about. I mean, there's a bazillion ways to adopt a great dog, for instance, the Friends of The Cleveland Kennel always have awesome hearts in need of good homes. But in April? April is about Truly Corny Beasts, Greyhounds. Get a sandwich, then an awesome dog.

I don't know if the other specials are prominent enough, so here they are in full bonkers showcase. That tent is kind of an throwback to last year's poster. I'm pretty happy with how delicious the Fried Twinkies look. I love those things. Also, The Fried Cheese is basically the same as the Corny Beast, only minus the dog. Which is actually pretty dope.

Here's the Beast itself, more accurate than last year, Melt uses giant popsicle sticks, like tongue depressors, because the sandwiches are so big. It's fun. Winter is over, friends. It's time to have fun again.

I'm pretty happy with this text. I hand drew this, I don't remember if I looked at any other text for reference, but I don't think so. I hope to progress further and further down hand lettered ridiculousness. I think it's the way to go. Next month is another great sandwich and another opportunity to get crazy. Only a couple days away. Also, Melt's East Side location opens MAY 21st! So, there's that!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

APRIL 17, 2010 AD

I'm in Chicago, living a vagrant life for a weekend. I'm currently sitting in a pretty awesome coffee spot called New Wave Coffee, on the corner of Logan and Milwaukee. It's kind of funny how Chicago... there's kind of a lot of people that look eerily just like Cleveland people I know, or at least see around. I can't decided if they're just doppelgangers or part of a whole big system, like components of the "urban hipster" or "dirty beardo" machine. From a distance, Chicago is really beautiful. The city spans forever the horizon, but also the vertical. Buildings on buildings, it's a time collage. I love driving without directions or an immediate destination. I've soaked in a lot of architecture and atmosphere in the last 24 hours.

SO: Today is the Day! Record Store Day, 2010! I'm hundreds of miles away, but down on Waterloo, over in Collinwood, things are gonna go bananacakes!

Music Saves, Blue Arrow Records, and This Way Out! are all having all kinds of ridonk special stuff spilling out all over the street. I'd head down that way just for the spectacle of it all, but also: tons of exclusive awesome releases and cool deals on stuff. I dunno, read these fliers!

Cleveland Bachelor, Back Again! At the Beachland tonight: DOSH, White Hinterland, the Sleeps!

I wanted to write a lot more about this piece, a lot of thought and wishfulness went into it's design and execution. I definitely approached it from a position of wanting to do something different. Something slightly cleaner and more refined. I can sometimes feel myself getting settled, getting comfortable, feeling like I'm spinning my wheels and not engaging in the constant uphill struggle. I don't like that. I like the struggle. I like pushing myself. I don't like repeating myself no matter how successfully my jams go over. It's one thing to be working something out, but it's another to beat a dead horse. However, I've been short on time and internet access for the past few weeks. Honestly, I'm shocked I'm posting this even now, as I type!

One of the themes that I wanted to stress and remember with this piece was about the notion, the idea, of community. What's been going on over there, what started with the Beachland ten years ago, is something special. The people involved have all been working together to make something that I think might be rare and ...needed, for too long. I thought about it for a long time. How to visually represent what I feel is an idealized situation.

I've had this vision, a fantasy land, with neighborhood sized buildings that scrape far into the sky, populated by vegetation and alternate energy sources. I see greenhouses that grew up. I see no stairs, but spiral ramps in every direction. I see platforms for long distance communication and open trade between these garden monstrosities. I think about how far we've come, and think about how much further we could go. I see how fragile that is, but how it doesn't have to be.

I spent a long time on these colors. I knew what I wanted to do before I even started. I think I may have even planned the colors out before the art. I wanted to do something diametrically opposed to my diptych from last month. So, when it came time to bust, I found the idea of moving from day to night just sitting there waiting for me to take it and run.

There's a LOT of text on these. It was such a tough challenge to work with, but I love it. I love the work of putting this jam together, and making it not look hideous. Which, this much text- it could have easily ended up looking hideous, even with my powers. STILL: It doesn't. It looks readable. Anyway, I'm really proud of this set, and I hope all my Cleveland people take a minute to head down to Waterloo and visit my homies. Don't take it for granted, it's there for you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Friday, April 09, 2010


I'm DJing The Beachland Brunch this Sunday, April 11th. I'm not sure what I'll play, there's no real theme this time. Vikings welcome.

I recently listened to an audio version of The Saga of Eric Brighteyes by H. Rider Haggard. It's pretty awesome. It's about this buckwild Icelandic dude named ...Eric Brighteyes. He starts off as just a dude, and ends up being the most intense viking adventurer of the age. It's pretty epic.

Speaking of epic viking stuff... There's a comic called VIKING out there, by my dude Ivan Brandon and this buckwild Germanic dude Nic Klein. I think the hardcover collection of the first story arch shipped to comic shops this week. It's called The Long Cold Fire, and I haven't seen the collection, but the issues were absolutely incredible. Highest possible recommendation.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

They Make No Sound

Beast in The FieldThe Great FloodCentrifugeLittle SisterSnuff Film

April 23rd @ Now That's Class.

The arrows pierce the flesh, but they make no sound. Pain, silent, maybe doesn't hurt as much. Especially when there's something to protect. Something to keep those arrows from hitting. It's a question of humility, but also a shot at redemption. Housing an ancient loyalty to a distant obsolescence, makes it possible to fight for the future, to put forward the new, the next. They come in waves and litters. Here they are, now, and it's up to you to get them through another night.

Lottery League 2010: The Big Show

I've known Jake Kelly for something like fifteen or sixteen years. We've both been doing the same thing for probably most of that time, but the ways we go about doing it couldn't possibly be more different.

He draws hundreds of fliers in black and white, completely by hand and knows about as much about digital art and design as somebody's grampa.

I draw comparatively fewer fliers and posters, almost all in full color, also by hand but then I use digital moves to take the crazy mess of drawings and turn them into finished pieces.

He mostly does stuff for The Beachland and Grog Shop. I mostly do stuff for a wide range of various gangsters and vigilantes.

He's drawing amazing epic murals for Melt. I'm doing next level posters for Melt, every month.

Tomorrow night, April 9th, he's doing an exhibit at Asterisk, hanging every flier he's ever done. On Thursday, May 13th I'm doing an exhibit at Front Room hanging a lot of the past year's worth of what I've done.

He signs his name J. Kelly. I, am John G.

He's got blonde hair. I've got dark hair. Sometimes he's bearded and I'm cleaner shaven.

We're both kind of a mess, though.

So when it came down to making this poster for The Cleveland Lottery League's Big Show, we sat down and figured it out in a shockingly easy but unsurprisingly creative way. We knew we needed to figure out a way to not have to have to put all the horrific band names on the poster, mostly because they're some seriously horrific band names. I mean, I guess there's worse band names in the history of bands... but, goddamn. What we came up with, I think worked incredibly well. It's something neither of us really ever do, unless specifically asked for. To draw a literal visual pun of the band names. In the industry, we call this "The Hess". I don't like to do this because a lot of times, there's a more creative way to communicate what the sound and vibe of the band is like. Also, I got shit to say with my posters. I'm making a point. I'm telling a story. I'm not saying that can't happen with literal visual puns, but it's definitely more limiting. As much as people absolutely love it, I think it's kinda, sorta, boring.

And that's what we decided would be the best way to do this! I love Grid Systems, and once we decided to not have any band names, it was logical to try and not have any text at all. We knew that wouldn't entirely fly with the League Chiefs, so I we kept that upper left corner with the only real text being there. We wrote out the list of band names. Jake took the first one, and I took the second. Without planning it out or knowing which band names we would get, we split them up evenly. The result was that we both got some really fun easy ones (Dead Wrestler, Super Macho Tough Guy Cowboy), but neither of us escaped having to illustrate some real head scratchers (Precious Bodily Fluids/ XFERQYRAD$).

A couple days later I got an email from Jake:

"The visual pun is... liberating.
No thought whatsoever!

After knowing each other so long, it's pretty appropriate that we finally collaborate on a poster for the first time, for the Lottery League. For The Big Show of 2008's League, we drew two separate posters that had nothing to do with each other, I drew one with every participants' name, he drew one with every band name. This poster feels a lot more... in league with what the League is all about.
I think this poster actually came out really great.

The Big Show is this Saturday at the Beachland Ballroom. It promises to be a blast of epic proportions. We have a limited edition of 33 signed and numbered 17 x 28 high quality digital prints of this poster we'll be selling for $20 a piece. There are only 33, so get 'em while they're hot!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Fresh Baked Pocket of Unholy Bananacakes

I think this is the first time in a long time that I'm posting the poster for a show AFTER the fact. I think maybe it happened a couple times during the Month of Flyers. Which... of course it happened then. That shit was insanity. Right now I'm in the throws of much the same type of insanity, only it's multiplied by ridiculousness, and then wrapped up in a fresh baked pocket of unholy bananacakes.

I've been drawing extra extra hard, and I'll be catching up and posting the living daylights out of this stuff over the next few days. Fortunately a lot of the posters are for shows that aren't for a while. Others are more immediate.

The idea of this jam came from a dude that often has good ideas, Zippy. Whatta Dude. We kind of brain stormed it after the recent Extra Life jam format change. I think it came out pretty good. The idea is that it's a double sided poster/flier, with the monster's back having all the info, then you turn it over and it's not a monster at all! It's some rascally kids with a big coat and a monster mask! I made an animated gif, but I'm not sure how to even post that here so that it will work.

The show was last night, I missed it because I was busy Bringing a sStorm. However, the Yukon dudes rule. MEGACHURCH and Swindlella also rule, but... I'm going to see them both really soon. I don't know who Daniel Francis Doyle is, but Kid Tested has been Kid Tested.