Friday, August 19, 2011


Back in 2006, Len Strazewski contacted myself, Andrew PepoyScott Beaderstadt, and others to draw stories for an anthology of stories that he wrote. I ended up drawing 2 stories, which have become 3 with at least one more on it's way.

The second story I drew was called Milos and told the tale of a middle-aged gypsy warlock who is fighting evil magical forces while trying to watch over his elderly, Alzheimer's affected uncle. Milos is Len's ongoing epic. 

Once the inks had been done, the pages were sent to Len's friend Willie Schubert who is a legend among comic book letterers. Here are the pages lettered before colors:

Thursday, August 18, 2011


In an attempt to loosen up some of my final line work, I decided to try something different. Instead of using a lightbox to tighten up my rough pencils, I decided to try printing them out in non-photo blue and drawing over them with a "B" pencil. B's are softer than the 3H's I usually use.

The method worked pretty well until last night when I realized I had to completely redraw one of the figures on the page I was tightening up. The page looks kind of messy now, but will look ok once all the blue is taken out. I might have to return to the lightbox.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


One of the hardest things to deal with when it comes to artwork is advice from others. Partially because it's not easy to have someone criticize something you've poured your heart and soul into. What appears on the paper is a part of an artist's life. It's a piece of him or her. Once it's shown to someone, it's open to the viewer's opinion- and everybody has an opinion. Advice is commonplace in everything, but especially in art. 

I've been drawing long enough to where I've gotten good advice and bad advice. I've had people tell me how terrific my work is and I've had people tell me that I should stop drawing all together. It all goes with the territory. If I feel the advice is good, I will generally think about it and then try to incorporate it into my artwork. 

What I find to be  helpful is when someone has a specific suggestion. The following are two examples of letters that I've gotten back from editors. Both are rejection letters from a couple of years ago, but each tells a different story. The first I'm keeping anonymous:

This type of art is just not something we can use…if you have any other samples showing a different style, send them my way!

My response back:

 What type of style are you looking for?

His response:

Take a look at the site.

Needless to say, this was not a very helpful note. On the other hand, I found the following to be extremely helpful. It's from Mike Carlin, an editor at DC Comics:

Your storytelling seems solid... But draftsmanship (modeling, mass, weight,
textures etc) could use some honing... And the characters' acting and
positioning could be both more realistic and more dynamic (check out the
work of people like Jose Luis Garcia Lopez and of course Jim Lee for what
I'm talking about acting-wise and dynamically speaking)!

Good luck and congrats on all the work you're doing already!

Besides being a really nice letter, Mike's suggestions were very valuable. 

One of the things he mentioned was the way my character's "acted". I didn't really understand what he meant at first. The answer came to me when I was at the gym. I was on the treadmill looking up at the TV that was on- it was broadcasting the show Charmed. I was watching it but listening to music on my ipod when I realized how easy it was to follow the program. Then I figured out why- the way the actors on the show moved- their hand gestures and facial expressions, plus the way they walked and held themselves. Once I saw this, I got what he was trying to tell me. Suddenly I started watching how people on the street moved, and started doing gesture drawings and adding those into the pages I was drawing. 

The other thing that helped was his suggestion that I look at artist Jim Lee. I have to admit, I'm not a big Jim Lee fan. I think he is a fantastic artist, but I don't own a lot of his artwork and wouldn't buy something just because he drew it. That's probably the reason I found this advice so valuable. I listened to him and kept Lee's art in front of me as I've worked on pages. I've learned a lot from it. Studying Jim Lee has changed my artwork for the better. 

Here's a couple of examples - pages of my art before Mike's suggestions and after:

I would  like to note that because of Mike Carlin's advice,  I ended up getting an art job from the the person who wrote the first rejection letter above.

In order to become a better artist it's important not only to practice but also to listen.  My goal is to be the best illustrator that I can . My artwork is personal to me, but without listening to advice from others, or observing things beyond my own work it will not improve. If it doesn't improve, I can not become the artist that I want to be. 

Monday, August 15, 2011


One of the things that I've learned about learning how to draw is that it's not a sprint but a marathon. This goes for just about everybody, with the exception of those special people who can draw with no instruction or practice. These prodigy's are few and far between. For the rest of us, the process of getting from here to there is a long slog filled with lots of practice.

My Pop used to say that the way to be a better artist was to burn paper -just draw and draw and draw. When I decided to get serious about my artwork I was literally at the beginning, even though I had done a little figure drawing from a live model. I would stay up late into the night and draw from magazines. A couple of weeks later I started drawing comic pages out of my head, but continued to look at art anatomy books. As soon as I got the chance, I did more figure drawing from a model. I just drew and drew and drew.

The first page is where I was at the very beginning, and the second is
where I was at the end of college a couple of years later.

The good news was that I did get better. The bad news is that I was nowhere near where I wanted to be.  I finished college and started working at an art studio where I helped color storyboard frames and watched to see how different illustrators approached their work. I learned some great things form them, and some things that I later found that I had to abandon. I worked there for about a year before I realized that, even though I didn't want to, I had to go back to school.  This was all part of the process.

Some of my early attempts at illustration advertising art,
before I went back to school

I put aside the comic book artwork for a couple of years and concentrated of advertising illustration. I found this was very helpful, because I learned to draw real things as opposed to just superheroes. I did find myself going back to comics though and was able to employ some different techniques to them, like making use of photo reference.

A couple of pages I did while @ American Academy Of Art
the later page was done with photo reference.

Practice and being open to different approaches is essential to becoming an illustrator and learning how to draw. Just as important is realizing your own shortcomings and taking steps to improve them, like taking a class or studying the way someone else draws. However, it is only one part of the process. Tomorrow I will talk about rejection as well as useful, and useless, advice.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


This has been a busy summer. In addition to the recently released Miss Masque Strikes Back for AC Comics, the completed The Saint comic for Moonstone, and the upcoming final chapter of the Len Strazewski written Stormy Tempest saga ( again for AC), I just finished my first project for Zenescope Entertainment.

Zenescope published a number of wonderful books, including the further adventures of TV's Charmed series. The project I'm working on for them is an 8 page story for the Spike TV series: 1000 Ways To Die.

For anyone who has not seen the show, Spike describes it like this:

1000 Ways to Die combines the science of living and the randomness of death with a dash of Darwinism. What actually happens when a rattlesnake's venom enters the bloodstream? How do Nitrogen bubbles affect the body after long exposure under water then immediately to 2 miles up into the sky? These questions will be answered in glorious CGI effects. Forensic experts, pathologists, toxicologists, herpetologists, and other experts offer eloquent explanations of mortality.

More information about the book can be found HERE