Monday, January 30, 2012

Berry & Beasley

This past Friday was my parents' anniversary. Saturday was my Mom's birthday. My Mom has been gone 8 years on January 13th. Needless to say, January is never a great month for me. I haven't really come to grips with her passsing after all this time. I still remember things she said, the way she sang quietly in a high pitched voice. My memories of my Mom, for the most part, are idealized. I'm glad for that. Some days this world is a frightening and awful place without her. Then again, the world she left her mark on is sometimes decent and awesome. My Mom had an impact not only on her kids, but her grandkids as well. She had a special relationship with each one.

This drawing was done on sticker paper. I put it in my niece Erin's 2010 Christmas present - a fancy sketchbook. Erin draws a lot. When she was a baby and a toddler, my Mom would jokingly say that I should make a children's book about her and Erin called "Berry and Beasley in the Garden". Berry was her nickname for Erin. It seemed like a great and epic idea that lived in my Mom's brain, but I was never really sure what the story was about.

Erin seemed really happy to get this from me. All my nieces and nephews are great kids. They're charming. It's a pleasure being a part of their lives.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Artificial Dissemination 2 & The Resurrection of "Meet Your Neighbors"

I created this piece for the Artificial Dissemination show this weekend at Phantom Hand. This 17" x 11" poster sized pen and ink drawing is a resurrection of my "Meet Your Neighbors" strip, a weekly true-to-life comic that ran on the Philly Turkey's website for almost two years. Most of the comics were a little meaner than my normal stuff, drawn in a thin-line style with no pencil. Every week, I would draw something or someone I saw in Philly that struck me as ridiculous, hilarious, disgusting, heartbreaking, or sometimes all of the above. This one was just heartbreaking. I learned a good lesson from this man, but the truth is I could not tell what kind of life he leads. For all I know, he might be happy just to be alive.

I will be donating all my proceeds from the sale of this piece to the Philadelphia Committee to End Homelessness. Make sure to stop out this weekend and see all of the awesome work hanging at the gallery.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sketches of Fishtown # 107 - Big John Bosak

It has been well over a year since I have created or published an issue of "Sketches of Fishtown". After the second book release, I just needed a little bit of a break. I also worked on some art shows and other projects. I will be publishing these drawings and anecdotes as often as I possibly can. I started the project back up because this one is very special to me. John Bosak was my gal Joannie’s uncle. I initially drew this portrait for Joannie’s mom for Christmas. But before I even knew Joannie, Johnny was always good to me. A few years back, when I would be sitting alone bartending on an empty Wednesday night, Johnny would see me through the window, come in, and keep me company. He also asked me to draw a congratulatory picture of his son for this paper a few years back, when his son came home from the military.

John Bosak had character and a great sense of humor. He was unique. Drawing John’s portrait reminded me of why I started this project eight years ago - because Fishtown, with all of its unique facets, history, and people, is a place worth remembering. It’s a place worth celebrating. If you have a memory, an event, or a person worth remembering and celebrating, please share your words and photos:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chicken Brothers Shirt on Teefury - Jan. 19 Only

On Thursday, January 19, 2012, Teefury will have a shirt up for sale that I co-designed with my buddy Mike Giacopetti. The shirt is inspired by Breaking Bad, a show on AMC we both watch and enjoy. If you've seen the show, you'll get the chicken joke - both how it parodies the restaurant and how it depicts the behavior of the main characters in the show from last season.

If you are interested in purchasing the shirt (for the low lo cost of only $10), PLEASE CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Christmas Season 2011 - Part 4 - The Card

Sorry that I forgot to post this here. I had it up all over facebook in December. This will be my last post regarding work I did during the holiday season of 2011.

I used the same characters on my family Christmas card this year as I did last year (Click Here to see). The elves are Joannie and her sons Brandon (with the ear gauges) and Aaron (jumping). Zoe, our insane puggle (ripping through the snowman's belly). I am the abominable snow monster, of course.

On the back, I added the newest edition to our family - our turtle, Murray. He's crazy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Main Man Bil Keane

I wrote this article recently while reflecting on the passing of cartoonist Bil Keane. Bil helped me out a great deal in my life. I owe him a lot. I am very grateful to have known him, and I'm sad that he is gone.

CLICK HERE to read the article in Spirit Community Newspapers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Drawing Soundtrack - Boddie Recording Company

According to their website, Numero is a “multi-format media company, devoted to dragging brilliant recordings, films, and photography out of unwarranted obscurity”. I am a huge fan of their “Eccentric Soul” series of albums. They find work released from these amazing record labels that didn’t see wide distribution and they repackage and re-release them to a larger audience. A lot of these labels were run out of dance halls and neighborhood joints. The reason I like it so much is because I’ve heard all the work of Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, the Four Tops, etc. all my life. I love that music, but it’s great to hear these small-time groups who were taking their shot. It’s inspirational to me - mostly because I am a still small-timer myself, still trying every day to take a shot at my own dream.

I also like these CDs and albums because great care is taken in the design and production of the packaging. With the economy hurting and MP3 downloads and sales being an easier option on music consumers, it’s nice to see people earning the edge, giving you something extra to make you want to take something home from the store and put it on your shelf. You get something to read, something study and give you a feel for the music. To me, it’s comparable to the days when an album cover was worth studying, when it was a piece of art that would entice you to buy the album.

I treated myself recently to this 3-CD set from Numero: Boddie Recording Company: Cleveland, Ohio. Aside from the CDs, the set comes with booklets of information about the label, songs, and artists. It also has reproductions of show fliers and really cool photos. Music like this makes me eager to sit down at my desk and draw. It’s my drawing soundtrack for the new year.

Christmas Season 2011 - Part 3 - Portrait of John Bosak

I did this portrait for Joannie’s Mom. It is her brother Johnny – Big John Bosak. John passed away last year. He was one of those big, strong, fun-loving Fishtown characters that everyone knew. If you ever met John, you did not forget him. He used to come visit me when I bartended at Moe’s a few years back. Wednesday nights were pretty slow after the pool team left, so John would come in and keep me company.

Joan asked me to draw this portrait and make prints so she could give them as Christmas gifts to all of her brothers and sisters. She also gave prints to John’s kids. We had the archival giclee prints made by Chris Wofford over at Giclee Today. Chris did an amazing job, and I plan on using him to do my giclee prints in the future. I gave Joan the original framed ink drawing for Christmas.

This will also be the drawing I use for the return of the “Sketches of Fishtown” project. I’ve had over a year off, but I plan on picking the project back up in the coming weeks.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Christmas Season 2011 - Part 2 - The Tattoo

My big brother Scott asked me to design him a tattoo this year for his birthday in early December.

He wanted a drawing on a phoenix rising up, but he also wanted my mother's eyes watching over. He's really big on the phoenix metaphor. I'm not going to put his business on the street, but if you knew my brother and the adversity he's overcome in his life, you would know it is an apt analogy. We looked at several pictures of my Mom. Her eyes didn't change much throughout the course of her life, aside from wrinkles we all acquire with age. She had such bright eyes. We agreed to use the eyes from a high school photo of her as reference:

I drew the design in pencil first. Once he approved it, I went on to inks:

He had a great tattoo artist I know named Danny Emery do the work. Danny runs the shop called "Philly Ink" at Kensington & Allegheny.

I was happy to be able to design my brother's first tattoo, especially because it had such deep, personal meaning. It was a highlight of my holiday season.