Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Creature Double Feature Show - Nov. 2, 2009

I know there has been a lot of Frankenstein happening lately on here. I just finished this piece for the Philadelphia Cartoonist Society's "Creature Double Feature" group show on Friday. Nov. 2, 2009 at Brave New Worlds Comics (45 North 2nd Street in Olde City Philadelphia).
I wanted this piece to be kind of a bookend to the piece I did for this week's upcoming "Dia de los Muertos" show for the Autimn Society at Proximity Gallery (2434 E. Dauphin Street in Fishtown). The sizes of the images are the same (11" x 14"). Also, both images were done with ink and marker on drawing paper. Both images are themed around the Hoagy Carmichael song, "The Nearness of You". It's become one of my favorite songs lately. Hope to see some folks at both shows.

Monday, September 28, 2009

'Tis the Season!

Welcome, Autumn! Love this time of year! Love Halloween!
An envelope I drew last week for my gal...

Saturday, September 26, 2009


This is one of my favorite portraits that I ever did. I drew it in pencil on bristol, then inked most of it with a Kuretake brush pen. The blue lines were done with a colored Micron pen.

It's of two brothers named Aaron & Brandon. I referenced a photo from when they were just young'ns. They are a lot older now. When I drew this, it really reminded me of being that age and how close I was with my brother and sister during our childhood. I know I wasn't always a great brother to them. I was a middle child, and I complained a lot. But they always looked out for me. I don't know what I'd do or where I'd be without my family. I can't imagine my life without them.

Another reason this was one of my favorites is because these are Joannie's boys. I hadn't met them yet, so drawing this portrait was my informal introduction to her kids. This was a birthday present for her sister, Jan (who is also one of my favorite people). Joannie picked out the frame. She was very adamant about making this frame, because she knows Jan's taste so well. I was touched when we gave Jan the picture, because she got choked up. Jan is one of the toughest gals I've ever met, but she is also a very strong-hearted person. Jan rules.

It's nice to do work sometimes that really has meaning and effect on someone. It makes me feel like I'm not wasting my time with this "art" thing.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Jim Henson's Fantastic World Exhibit...

Last weekend, I got out of town with my gal for my birthday. We stayed at a really cool horse farm in Dublin, PA. As part of my birthday present, Joannie also bought tickets to the Michener Museum's exhibit, "Jim Henson's Fantastic World". It was a bullseye of a gift. Henson is a lifetime hero of mine. When I say that, I am not only referring to the work he's done, but his reasoning behind it as well. I believe that even though he seemed to be a perfectionist, his main objective was to make people happy and spread joy in this world. I once saw a televised interview where Henson was talking about the purpose of his work. He quoted a French writer named Antione de Saint-Exupery, "We do not inherit the Earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children." Hearing that as a young man, I was struck by the potential that human beings can have on one another. Teaching and cartooning, I still try to keep that quote in mind in my daily work.

If I were to carve out my version of Mount Rushmore, Jim Henson would definitely be one of the faces.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Autumn!

I know it isn't official yet, but today is the first day where it feels that Fall is kicking into gear. This is some great weather for sleeping, walking along the river, and sitting on the front step. When I was a kid, I was notorious for jumping around and burying myself in piles of leaves in the street.
I was a real dirtball when I was young.

Here is a quick ink and marker drawing I did for the changing
of the seasons...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

BBQing with Scottish Artist David Galletly

My friend and fellow artist Concetta had some esteemed guests in town this week, Scottish artist David Galletly and his lady, Alex. We were lucky enough to have our schedules line up to throw together a small, impromptu BBQ last night in Fishtown. It was  a great night. We talked about art, music, healthcare and sharks. There seemed to be a lot of shark conversation going on for some reason.  I'm not sure if it's because I've been getting Shark Week DVDs from Netflix, or because Alex is frightened and fascinated by sharks.  Nonetheless, it was a great night.  My buddy Digby came over. We had some decent hamburgers, corn and slow cooked collards. 

I bought this "Juggler" piece from Dave with my government stimulus money a while back.

Dave and his lady, Alex

"Live EVERY WEEK like it's SHARK WEEK!" - Tracey Jordan

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Final Draft - DIA DE LOS MUERTOS ART SHOW - OCT. 2, 2009

Here is the final version of my piece for the Autumn Society of Philadelphia's upcoming show at Proximity Gallery in Fishtown: "Die De Los Muertos" (Mexican Day of the Dead). I took off work, so I will be at the show hanging out.

Had a decent morning chugging coffee on my back deck and finishing this piece. I tried to keep the background colors bright and playful. I've never been to Mexico, but when I was in college, I used to shop at Eyes Art on South Street, where they had a lot of Mexican Day of the Dead art for sale.

Lately, I've been listening to a lot of Hoagy Carmichael songs, and I recently received a book on his life and music for my birthday. The song "The Nearness of You" has been striking a chord, so I have been using it in some of the "romance" themed pieces I've been doing. My favorite version of the song is by Keith Richards. He sings off key, like Hoagy, but more sullen. While drawing this piece, I made a playlist that hade several versions of that song mixed in with an album called, "Mexico: The Real Mexico In Music And Song".

Special thanks to Aaron Luis Levinson and Katie Hill for helping me with the translation. They both agreed this is the best we can do in context and dialect for translating the song title.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Day of the Dead Art - First Draft

The Autumn Society of Philadelphia will be holding it's final show of the year, "DIA DE LOS MUERTOS" at PROXIMITY GALLERY (2434 East Dauphin Street in Fishtown) on October 2, 2009 at 6 PM. The show will consist of 40+ pieces of art, each interpreting "Dia de los Muertos" (Day of the Dead) in their own unique way.

Here is a photo of my first draft. It's all done with a Kuretake Brush Pen and markers. There isn't a background on it yet, but it will be done very soon. If anyone has suggestions on the background, I'd love to hear feedback.

Blue Moon...

Here is a piece I drew while sitting in Memphis Taproom back in 2008:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bunch of Baboons comics story, "GREETINGS"

A few years back, a handful of Philadelphia Cartoonist Society members and myself chipped in our money and work and made a small anthology called "Bunch of Baboons" for "Free Comic Book Day", and annual event where comic stores across the country, well, give away free comic books.

We published our book under Rich Marcej's Baboon Books label. Mine was based on a project I was working on at the time with cartoonist Scott Derby. We were supposed to put out a book called "Wonderful", but it never came together like it should have. The Bunch of Baboons book, however, got a great response, considering we were in independent publishing house. We moved 11,000 of these books to our surprise.

My story sets the scene for a neighborhood based on my own neighborhood, Fishtown. At this time, we were in the very early stages of being gentrified. I was very skeptical of change at the time, but I think I'm adapting okay. As I look back at this work, I really wish I would have hand-lettered the story. I believe it adds more life and character to comics. Regardless, here is the short comic story entitled "GREETINGS"...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sketches of Fishtown # 78 - Aaron Luis Levinson

My main man, Aaron...

Mail Art for Joannie...

Over the summer, I started seeing an amazing gal named Joannie. She is a sister of an old friend, an unbelievably great mother, and one of the strongest women I've ever met in my life. At first, I thought Joannie was going to stay a platonic friend, because I had my mind made up to spend some time alone for a while. But that didn't last. If you ever met Joannie, you'd understand why. She's that awesome.

Unlike myself, Joannie is not an artist, but she does seem to genuinely appreciate my work. So aside from the work I do for freelance and the local paper and my two jobs, I have been trying to make as much work for Joannie as possible. Every week, during breakfasts, lunch breaks, etc, I make and send her mail art to let her know I'm thinking of her. Mostly, they are just small envelopes drawn with ink and marker and colored pencil.

I don't think that any of my work is earth-shattering or groundbreaking in any way. I know that it's only cartoons. But in the past, I've had a hard time balancing the work that I do with the rest of my life. Making cartoons, as mundane as it may be, is a huge part of who I am. But I shouldn't let it get in the way of living a balanced life. It's taken me almost 34 years to find that out.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bob & Barbara's Lounge - 1509 South Street

Bob & Barbara's Lounge (1509 South Street in Philly) is where I've met some of my heroes and best friends in this whole world. I've posted before about the importance that Nate Wiley and the Crowd Pleasers have played in my life. But I have so many connections to this place. It's the official clubhouse of the Philadelphia Cartoonist Society. So many friends have been made at that bar over specials and music.

A few years back, I was doing flyers, kind of a street art experiment to advertise the bar (not that it needs any help). The place packs them in, especially on the weekend. College kids come in looking to spend their parents' money on cheap booze and a welcome vibe - and EVERYONE is welcome at Bob & Barbara's. But i started drawing some of the "regulars". Sadly, some are not around anymore. Billy passed away. Pipe Donald was flagged years ago for bad behavior. But this place certainly does have some legendary character and characters. If you're in there enough, you see beyond the throngs of hipsters and frat boys to identify the folks that "come with the place". I have one of the barkeep Steve Ferrell somewhere, but can't seem to locate it. And even though I don't get out there as much as I used to, after 11 years, I still consider myself a regular. I'll post more as I make them...