Friday, January 29, 2010


Here's an eight page comic from the now sold out SHINER Number One. I'm not planning on reprinting that issue, so that's that. This is the first story set in Clevelyn, the alternate reality I found populated by animals and robots instead of crummy old humans.

Here's the cover:

This piece still has one foot set in our reality though, it's based on the truth. You'll see, if you read it, but Parts and Labor is a real band, and some of these characters are based on real dudes. Also, I'll never forget Lauren Bugaj.

These pages, as a work in progress, hung in Convergence, the split show I did with Billy Delfs back in November of 2007. That show was in a vacant store front, at 6706 Detroit, donated to us by The Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization.

I'm planning on posting some more comic pages next week. Doing all this for a reason. I'm really pretty excited about what I've been up to. Feel free to comment or shoot me an email! I do appreciate all feedback!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Texas Voodoo Process

Another bonkers jam for Red 7 is Austin, TX. Blacklisted from Philly, The Roller from Austin, and The Burden from Houston, Texas. Side note: The Burden's Catholic Guilt EP has art by Give Up, one of the crustiest and brutal of my favorite artists.

It's a full on Metal show, and after I finished this poster it occurred to me that it was way too colorful and vibrant. I thought maybe I should have gone with a dirtier more muted earthier palette, but I shot it passed the involved parties and they were all full on into it... there ya go.

Speaking of colors, I've been wanting to post a long involved process piece about the length of how I go about making these things look the way they do. This one is pretty straight forward so I think it would be a good starting point.

As with everything, it all starts with a really rough sketch brainstormer. Sometimes it takes a lot, drawing multiple different versions of the same idea until I figure out exactly what I want to do. This time, the only thing I had for sure when I started was the alligator headpiece, which I didn't even know would have the lower jaw neckpiece thing until I was well into it. I've drawn enough bombed out city backgrounds and done enough lettering at this point that I leave that stuff out almost entirely (unless there's a LOT of text).

I don't think I even penciled this background fully before I started with the inks. I love drawing this stuff. I probably have at least a hundred different drawings just like this, but unique unto themselves. Over a year ago, I made a huge print of one of my favorites. I thought I had posted on this blog somewhere, but couldn't find it. This print hung at Front Room for the CMD6 show last spring. It was one of the only pieces that sold, too.:

That's Michael and Sunia, holding it up in front of Sunia's colorful paintings at Vision Gallery. This picture was taken probably in August of 2008.

Since I'm going with the full nasty behind the scenes, here's the pencils of the characters. I get pretty tight, but still know by now how much texture I'm going to add when I ink. I feel like these characters are probably going to be re-appearing soon, many times. I like to use recurring characters, start to figure out the stories in between the posters. In my middle age, post-rock art years, I'll have thousands of pages of comics to draw. I can't wait!

Inking is fun. I listened to Enter The Magic Mystery Chambers, The Beat Bee Sessions, and SLEEP Live at ATP while drawing this. I may have jammed REFUSED's The Shape of Punk To Come too, but can't remember.

The splatter, to add to the sky. At this point I'm thinking I have no idea what the actual sky looks like anymore. I like how this splatter looks though.

Here's the crooked ass text. There may or may not be a actual Voodoo Blood Drive, but I like that idea. I've been paying peripheral attention to what's been happening in Haiti, and it breaks my goddamn heart. I think that's why my mind was on Voodoo and blood drives when I wrote that.

When I started doing color posters, I was actually pretty intimidated and had been living life in a stark contrast black and white punk world for so long it wasn't even something I ever imagined I would get so into. Limited palettes, or monochromatics, or like I said before... maybe just muted to hell earth tones. I never imagined a world where I could promote a metal show with magenta and bright blues. I guess I used to equate bright colors with bogus music. I dunno... disco or some shit. Anyway, here's how I do:

This one was to look at the layout and make sure everything is where it's supposed to be. You wouldn't want to start the coloring process only to have to scrap all the work midway because you had to change the size or orientation of the parts of the whole. It's not a big deal, but when there's a deadline to meet and money on the line, it's best not to goof around. The magenta fill over the background is it's own layer set to "multiply".

I hid the characters level, and dropped in the splatter, changing it's color and setting it's mode to "multiply" so that it blended in with the background rather than sitting on top of it, opaque. I also changed the color of the city scape, separating them so I could start to make moves.

Moves being to go bananacakes with the brush tool, usually set to a lower opacity, around 20%, varying the brush size adding the oranges and yellows, going back in with magenta and reds for the sky. I also selected the splatter in the sky of the background drawing, copied it, pasted it right on top of the background, and changed it's color to reds and maroons. The city stuff I just brushed up to give it variations, but nothing too drastic. I didn't spend any time separating the buildings out or anything. The majority of that, I knew were going to be covered by the characters anyway.

Speaking of the characters, I made another "multiply" layer over them, where I blocked out each one. I kind of knew where I was going with this when I started. I knew I wanted the skull headed guy in greens, and the voodoo alligator priestess in earthier tones. Sometimes it takes a while to figure that out. This time I saw it already.

This one, I had done all the separating of the various elements in each character, and then added that white stroke on a new layer, just in case I wanted to get rid of it later. This, again, I knew going in how I wanted it to look. I knew where all the different parts of the voodoo priestess were.

The last step, once I had everything so I could just go in with the brush tool and add the shadows and highlights, was to do just that. It's a simple thing, but it can be time consuming. I generally don't like to spend more than a couple hours coloring any one project, but sometimes doing it right, doing it better, means spending the time. I'm not entirely sure how long this took, time has been expanding and constricting around me lately. I feel like I'm constantly trying to beat the clock or waiting for something.

I took myself out of the timeline last nigh and went to the Cinematheque to see the film noir "In a Lonely Place". I had never seen it before, and felt like taking that break. It's a great movie, and honestly way funnier than I expected. Bogart is so dead on in this, and his delivery of some really great dialogue just keeps a beyond compelling. There's a line, "There's no sacrifice too great for a chance at immortality.", that's just this amazing throw away line his character says to a waiter right towards the beginning of the film. It was a perfect break from the grind. I even won the raffle before the movie for the coffee shop gift certificate. I'm going to have to start hitting the Cinematheque more often.

The last step before dropping the text in and coloring that was to copy the line work layer and add a little subtle color to some of the areas in the characters that merit doing something like that. There's the red to the girl's lips, green to the gator and the dude's gear, changing the scar on her leg. I forgot to mention that at some point I changed the smoke coming off that ...thing in her right hand.

I'll probably print some 16 x 24 posters of this on glossy indoor vinyl. If you're interested in buying one, they'll be $20 plus shipping (if you're not in Cleveland). Almost all my posters and drawings are available that way, too. If you're interested, email me at and we'll work something out. I can always print them bigger or smaller too.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Most Grim

Sometimes a man just has to draw himself most grim.

I was able to successfully re-string the string back through my hood last weekend. It took quite a while. It was hard to do, I'm clumsy and the fabric of the hood is pretty thick. A fortunate thing in cold weather, but not so great for stringing hood strings. However, I'm an incredibly patient dude. I was able to sit with it and, increment by increment, jam the string into the opening on the one side. Yeah, I'm stoked that it worked. Hoods rule.

Getting Monastic for the next few weeks. Check back often if you don't follow or subscribe. Even later today should be some new jams.

Here, pencils:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Speed Lines, Safety Lines

Been on my grind, and this is actually just the tip of the 2010 ice berg, I hope. I've got a lot of irons in a couple fires, and I'm looking forward to hitting you on the head with them, but not yet... so, here's this. Hot Cha Cha, Kid Tasted, Fangs Out at The Happy Dog.

This is as detailed as I got with the roughs this time. Just, I had a vision for this and knew what I wanted, so I blasted through this step just nailing down the bare bones of this piece.

Drawing speed lines is ridiculous. I'm actually really happy with how this came out. I think the energy works, and I had a good time drawing this. I especially think the Wolf's face works the way I wanted it to, which I'm shocked by. I didn't expect to nail that. In fact, now that I'm looking at this, I'm still a little surprised at how much I didn't screw this up.

Here's the black and white with the text. I applied the Threshold Adjustment to the line art to make it all contrasty. It's an essential step before coloring the living daylights out of anything. Though, I opted not to change the colors of any of the line art this time. Speed lines, gotta stay heavy.

Made this jpg a little bigger just for fun. I added that red splatter (which then mostly gets covered by the text) and the blue to the sky in the bottom after going buck wild with the colors. This is a case where I didn't really intend to spend a lot of time on it, but then did because I got kind of wrapped up in it. At any rate, good times.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Booksketch 03: The Talisman Chapter Three

Chapter three of The Talisman. Speedy Parker is one of the best characters from the book. I like how this landed. Much better than the last one.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Winter Hand

Believe it or not, this is a pretty accurate depiction of my right hand. It's bigger than my left, and damaged beyond wear and tear or what should probably be acceptable for those who use wheelchairs. This winter has already brutalized my hands, and it's only halfway through January. I've been trying to wear gloves as much as possible, but the catch is that any glove tough enough to get me from point A to B, is usually bigger and starts to gradually fall off. When it's wet outside, and the ground is covered with a thick brown/gray sludge, any glove gets soaked and heavy and starts to fall off my hands in mid-wheeling, making it difficult. My hands get soaked and frost bitten anyway. They're taking a beating.

The reason I drew this and wanted to post about it though, initially, had nothing to do with that. My original plan was to point out something new, that's kind of weird. On my right middle finger, which along with my right ring finger is cut short and missing the tip, I'm starting to develop a callus where I hold my pencils, pens, brushes. It's odd, after years and years of drawing constantly I would develop a callus now. I don't think I draw any more than before, but then again, maybe I do. I have no idea.

The other thing I should maybe mention for ...whoever is reading this(???)... I've been paralyzed for almost 15 years, and because of that injury, I lost all the feeling in most of my arms and almost all of my hands. At the very best, the parts of my hands I can feel isn't the same as full blown sense of touch. It's dampened and lessened. This is how I end up with so many cuts and ...missing parts of digits. In fact, the two surgeries I had on my fingers to cut them shorter were both without anesthesia. Wide awake hand surgery, twice.

Anyway, I drew this with that hand. I drew it hard. I drew it with pressure sensitive instruments like a pencil, a pen, and paint brushes with ink. That's how it's done. These hands take a beating, they're also capable of beating back. I guess that's what drawing is sometimes.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Smooches & Pooches

Leave it to Friends of The Cleveland Kennel and Secondhand Mutts, two really great organizations, to throw a Valentine's Dance where you can bring your dogs. There's even a handy Facebook Event page, with more info, you can RSVP if you are so inclined.

I went with a design standard I used for last year's Art Fur Animals event promotions. I like it and it works well, plus the notion of creating almost an "identity" for similar events that I get to do the design for. Not that switching it up is a bad thing, but if it ain't broke...

The background, sky/snow covered skyline:

I didn't do the typography at the bottom, but I'm pretty happy with the text I did create for this. I made the double "o"s smooching, and then the "es"s are both holding hands. How romantic:

Originally, Becca Becca Becca from Friends of The Cleveland Kennel asked for just a drawing of a Cupid Dog, which was fun. I used her dog Peanut as a model. I think Peanut is a Chiweenie: a Dachshun/Chihuahua mix. Super cute.

Me and Peanut, best friends forever:

Pet Mountain.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Booksketch 02: The Talisman Chapter Two

This week's Booksketch is from Chapter Two of The Talisman. My very loose plan with these is to escalate the dynamics as the story escalates in the book. This chapter is the first time they really show that this story is fantastical, but at the same time you have to wonder if the main character is just a nut. I tried to keep it pretty straight forward, and like... obvious, I guess.

Looks like I may have some time on my hands in the near future, so I think I'll be able to cruise through sketching out the next few chapters in the next week. Stay tuned.

2010 Cleveland Lottery League Draft

The 2010 Cleveland Lottery League is kicking things off at The Beachland Ballroom. This year, instead of being "participants only" it's open to "the public". A spectacle of Cleveland Music Scene name drawing to form tons of new bands all at once. I'm pretty sure bands from last year's League will be playing. This promises to be a pretty ridiculous event.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

In The Dark

In the dark, there's truth. That might be why you're afraid of it. The dark.

The building, and surrounding neighborhood, where The Monastery is lost power a few times yesterday. During the day, it wasn't that big a deal, because the sorry excuse for a sun was still able to provide a little cold light for me to draw by. Not that it mattered, I was on the third floor and the elevators were out. I couldn't leave anyway. Then, around sundown, the power came back on. I figured I had time to scan the stuff I had drawn all day before trying to escape to the first floor. As I bundled up and headed down the hall to the elevator, the power went back out. This was in a hall nowhere near any windows. The emergency lights kicked in, but only stayed on for a couple minutes. This is the dark. Being able to see absolutely nothing, with your eyes wide open. I'm not going to lie, the building is old, and most assuredly haunted. Still... I felt some level of familiar comfort in the dark. Alone, unafraid, with the sounds coming from all directions at once. The ghosts knew I was there, they know who I am. The city knew, it knows. Most importantly, I knew where I was. I know who I am. Without the distraction of sight. Without the deceptions of a sense of touch... the only way out is inward. That's where you find the truth. That's where the fear comes from. Like I said, I'm pretty comfortable in the dark.

The power came back on, Paul showed up to join me in the freight elevator in case anything happened, and we hit the bricks.

This band D. Rider is awesome. Reverend Deadeye will probably be pretty awesome too, dude's a touring machine. I have yet to catch Home & Garden, but I did catch the last few seconds of Wifestriker's first show, and it was pretty awesome. I'm looking forward to catching a full blown set this time!

I have no idea where I read it, but my dude Brandon Graham recently commented that when you can't figure some drawing out, everything is better with vehicles or animals. I tested this theory with adding the truck from... the 40s, maybe. Totally works. That Brandon Graham is a smart dude.


This poster is for a show in Park City, Utah that is the party for the premiere of
The Taqwacores at Sundance Film Festival. The bands are The Kominas, Al Thawra, and Filmstrip. They're all going on a mini-tour to Sunance, check that out here: TAQWACORES MINI-TOUR.

\I'm so pumped I got to do this. The Taqwacores is a film based on a book by Michael Muhammad Knight about a Muslim Punk movement that was filmed at a DIY punk show space called The Tower 2012 in Cleveland last year. I haven't read the book yet, but the story of the author and his moves is pretty awesome. He started by printing up zine style editions of The Taqwacores and pushing them at shows. There's a documentary about it called Taqwacores: The Birth of Punk Islam.

This is a pretty straight forward poster. I didn't want to represent anything too specific from the film, because I haven't seen it yet. I also didn't want to do anything completely unrelated. I'm pretty familiar with Filmstrip and got familiar with these other bands, but nothing really jumped out at me as far as visualizing what they're all about. So, I opted for an old friend: single figure in front of a crusty urban background.

The Taqwacores is set in Buffalo, NY... but they filmed it in Cleveland because the difference in landscape is probably non-existent. Also, the director Eyad Zahra is a local dude. As far as the background goes, I felt pretty comfortable in making it a bleak gray sky, bringing a post-industrial grime vibe, with railroad tracks.

Big thanks to Big Granny for translating this to Arabic! I actually loved drawing the Arabic writing for this. I hope it's all correct! I have no idea. I like it though. I hope that's next level, doing posters in foreign tongues.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Gangster Wraps

It's exactly what it sounds like. Gangster Wraps. Vegan Gangster Wraps. They bump some good Gangster Rap in the bar, too. This makes me so happy. I went the last time Beckett and Dunn did this. I had the 2 $horts, which were awesome, and tasted the Duck and Cover, also awesome, but I didn't have it in a wrap. Definitely looking forward to that RBG.

I will add that Dead Prez's Revolutionary But Gangsta is easily one of my favorite records to listen to, and has been for the past year. You should watch this awesome and ridiculous video for "HELL YEAH".

Friday, January 08, 2010

A Bachelor in Cleveland 3: Follow That Beard

January's Cleveland Bachelor Show of The Month is rapidly approaching, and co-sponsored with the good cats and humans of Music Saves. The Rural Alberta Advantage, The Octagon, and The Buried Wires hold it down at The Beachland.

This rough was created, by scanning and layering maybe three or four different sketches, to print out and use as a guide for doing the final art. This is as fully rendered as I got with things before starting the final pencils, I think. It's kind of a mess, but I knew what I wanted it to look like in the end, so I didn't really need to get into the details.

Seriously, Justin Vaughn's beard is out of control at this point. Personally, I think it rules. I have opted out of the winter beard this year, trying to keep things clean. Unlike this line art, where I kept things pretty messy. I knew I wanted to go with a big open winter sky, splattered and textured out the eyeballs.

Coloring this was fun. Part of me still feels like it could have been a lot better, but then I got some pretty positive feedback, which made me feel better about it. I've been on the warpath lately, and there's definitely a point where you can over work a project. Sometimes that's a fine line.