Friday, May 31, 2013


Part of being a commercial artist is having the experience of working on a project for someone and having it disappear with no hope of seeing the light of day. It happens to everyone at some point to both the beginner and the professional. It's just a reality of the business. 

This is both a curse and a blessing.

On the one hand, we artists want to see our work published. We've toiled over it, doing the best job we can. We need to feel as if we were doing it for a reason. It doesn't matter if we get paid for it or not. We have put our time and effort into the project, forsaking our friends, family, and all aspects of our personal lives. We are left with, as a result, a number of empty promises that the work will "someday" be published "once this ( fill in the blank) happens". This does nothing but make the illustrator feel as if he or she has wasted time and effort for no reason. It's very demoralizing and completely unfair to those doing the work.

One the other hand, having this work hidden away forever can be the best thing that's ever happened to the illustrator. Although this happens at various points in an artist's career, the reality is that some of the work done happens at the beginning of one's career and the work is bad. Actually, the work is horrible! I personally have looked back at projects that I thought were good only to see that what I had done was a blight on artists everywhere. Best to leave these things buried.

One example of this a project I had right out of art school. I had just graduated from American Academy Of Art in 2004 when someone contacted me to do Norman Rockwell-like paintings for a book. The paintings were to be headshots of famous people throughout the past hundred or so years. Because I had done a number of gouache paintings in my final semester of school, most recently a 6 page painted biography of my life, I felt I could do a good job. I did 125 paintings in a month and a half, handed the work over and waited for the book to be published.

Hard at work on my paintings in 2004

It never was.

Oh, there was a website and it was solicited, but the book never came out.

 I am  contractually not allowed to show the artwork for this
project. I'm not too broken-hearted about that...

Last week I looked at the scans I did of the artwork. The illustrations started out as just ok, and then went downhill. Fast. The faces looked like blobs of flesh tones with brown and yellow things on top. It was some scary, SCARY stuff. That project wouldn't have started my career, it would have ended it! I am very thankful that it never saw the light of day.

The second time this happened was  for the first big comic book penciling job for Markosia. I was asked to draw 3 issues of a book called Heretic. I gave up my Labor Day weekend in 2007, worked my tail off and "poof!" it was gone, never to be seen again. Looking back at the art I realized how much I learned from the project and how I never, EVER want it out there. Here's a couple of examples:

The piece in my hand isn't nearly as bad as what's
on the wall behind me.

See what I mean?

I only wish the same thing had happened to the single issues of Kong: King Of Skull Island that I had "drawn"...

Currently there are 2 major projects that have been finished for some time that are not yet out. The first was finished back in May 2011 and is supposedly tied up with legal issues. The second was finished in January 2012, solicited for publication a year ago for October 2012, and to my knowledge has yet to be colored. Whether we will ever see them remains a mystery.
This may end up being a blessing...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Len Strazewski and I on February 14. 2013 in
front of Mike Parobeck's splashpage from Justice
Society Of America #1. See why this piece is so
important to me HERE
Back in February, writer  Len Strazewski showcased some of the comic book work he did in an exhibit  at Columbia College in Chicago.  The exhibit was about collaborations and featured the work of 5 illustrators: Paul Fricke, Norm Breyfogle, Scott Beaderstadt, Mike Parobeck, and myself.

The view from outside the gallery.

The work of Paul Fricke crossed over almost all the artist's
involved, forming a second set of collaborations

Norm Breyfogle's work on Prime is one of Len's most
successful collaborations

Scott Beaderstadt worked with Len on the Archie books

Mike Parobeck's work with Len on the JSA is probably
the most beloved of both their careers

Each of the illustrators had a little biography
including the work done with Len

Some of the Femforce work I did with Len

My work inked by Paul Fricke for Len's upcoming
Superhero business book

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I have a confession to make: I have a fear of drawing with anything other than a pencil. This does not actually include drawing with charcoal ( which I hate because of it's messy nature and the way it falls apart in my hands), pastels, or painting. What it does include is drawing with pens, markers and ink brushes. Why? Because of ink's permanent nature. It's scary - you put down one bad line, and it's over. Sure, there are "erasing mediums" like various forms of white out, but if they are used wrong they end up making a bigger mess. I ALWAYS use them wrong!

Because of a number of recent developments in my life lately I've started to look at my artwork a little differently. One of the conclusions I've come to is that, while I'm becoming more well versed in understanding what I'm drawing and in my own draftmanship, I'm not really growing as an artist. Growing requires stretching outside one's comfort zone. I haven't really worked on stretching, I've instead painted myself into my own little corner of contentedness.

I saw the chance to start breaking out of this on Memorial Day. On Monday, the Palette & Chisel Academy Of Fine Arts had a day long drawing marathon, with live models from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. They do this regularly throughout the year on Memorial Day, Labor Day, and New Years Day. I decided to stretch my drawing muscles by using Micron Pens instead of a pencil for some of the quick sketches. Here are the results:

This is just the beginning. In the months to come I plan on doing all my gesture drawings in ink. I also plan on introducing color with both marker as well as water color. There are also a couple of other of things I have in mind as I move forward with this. Stay tuned...