Friday, June 14, 2013


Silhouette is defined as "the image of a person, an object or scene represented as a solid shape of a single color, usually black, its edges matching the outline of the subject. The interior of a silhouette is featureless, and the whole is typically presented on a light background, usually white, or none at all." Though simple, silhouettes convey the complicated.

I first became aware of silhouettes as a story telling method when I was a kid of around 11 or 12. I was a big fan of the Blondie Comic Strip and had found some of the old Harvey comic books that had been published during the 1940's and '50's. While I was reading one of them, my Father looked over my shoulder and pointed out something special about the page I was reading. The figures were all in black, but yet you could tell who they were and what they were doing. My 11 year old mind listened and filed this information away, not quite knowing what to do with it but instinctively knowing that it was important.

From Chic Young's Blondie #93,  August 1956, published
by Harvey Comics

Though the years, I occasionally used silhouettes in some of my comic pages, but just threw them in there to cut down on drawing more details, or for the sole purpose of adding my black to pages. 

It wasn't until an editor at DC Comics looked at some of my work, that I realized how significant silhouettes were. He pointed right to one of mine, called it "breathtaking" and cited examples of Darwyn Cooke and Mike Mignola as masters of blacks and silhouettes. While I had used them occasionally, I had not thought of it in those terms. Now I try to add at least one silhouette to each page I draw.

I'v decided to go a bit beyond that lately. In an attempt to experiment more with what I'm creating, I've started to do little water color paintings with silhouetted figures.

 I'm not sure where this is leading, but it's going somewhere. If nothing else, It shows how something simple can even be dramatic.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


 I penciled an  8 page Tara Fremont for Femforce #163, which will be on sale tomorrow:

 As the FF basks in the glow of happiness from last issues’ reunion between NIGHTVEIL and her long-lost love, The BLACK COMMANDO; evil machinations are afoot on the West Coast. While both NV and Ms VICTORY are absent, SYNN makes a rash decision to act on an apparent monster attack in Hollywwod. SHE-CAT, TARA and STARDUST are pulled in after her, and what LOOKS like an incident caused by two villans out of the FF’s past is ACTUALLY the work of two very new malafactors, in “I Put A Spell On You”, Written by Mark & Stephanie Heike, penciled by Rock Baker and inked by Mark Heike. Then we pick up with Ms. VICTORY in Japan, of all places. While investigating a tip there on the troublesome RENEGADE, Joan finds herself embroiled in a conflict with members of a Japanese super-science defense league. It’s giant robots, oriental masterminds and Asian warrior girls galore, in “V Is For Victory”, written by Mark Holmes and illustrated by Rock Baker and Jeff Austin. Then, take a trip back to 1956 when the FF team up with YANKEE GIRL and The FIGHTING YANK to face off against a near world-shattering menace created by the evil RED SQUARE, in “The Coming of Megaladonna”; written and drawn by Eric Coile, with inks by Bill Black. Next, TARA FREMONT tells the rest of the FF a tale of jungle(?) adventure and intrigue from her college days in “A Jungle Girl In Jersey”, written by Mark Holmes, with art by Scott Larson and Scott Shriver. Then, an untold tale out of the 1947 volume of the casebook of The BLUE BULLETEER; “Noir”. BB shadows a doppleganger in an unlikely locale to smoke out a killer, and ends up bagging two in the bargain. Written by Mara Grundmeyer and Mark S. Dail, with art by Eric Theriault, Mark Heike and Scott Shriver. Finally, a double-dose of alien giantess excitement with TWO episodes of the GAMMAZON HOUSEWIFE saga. First, Gammazonian giantess emigree Kar’Ri Conquest risks life, love and home against a group of former government elite troops gone renegade in “Alien Combatant”, written by Eric Johnson with art by Dan Gorman and Jeff Austin. It guest-stars SYNN, STARDUST and ROBERTA STROCK. Then, in “Living Like A Queen”; old Gammazonian cohorts invade Kar’Ri and Tom’s quiet suburban neighborhood for a showdown in a tale co-starring  the FF’s own TARA (“Too Tall”) FREMONT!! FF #163 is 84 pages of action, adventure, glamor and excitement.

Also, one of my previous stories "Trophy Wife Scorned"  was reprinted in Femforce #160. 

Both comics can be purchased HERE

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


 Ann O' Connor's  artistic creations included Origami work.
Photo  courtesy of Carolyn Backis (c) 2013

" For some reason, I grew up thinking that to be an artist one had to be able to draw. I also believed that creativity was something only artists had. Since I was not able to draw very well, I thought I could never be an artist, and therefore, I suppose for consistency's sake, I also believed I was not creative. I have no idea whether I might have chosen the path of an artist, but the fact is that it was not open to me. It was not within the realm of possibility in my mind".
Ann O' Connor,
The Twelve Unbreakable Principles Of Parenting
ACTA  Publications 2006

When Ann O' Connor passed away on April 24, 2013, she left a tremendous legacy. Ann had been the Faith Formation Coordinator  at St. Gertrude's Catholic Parish in Chicago. She brought to the church, and to every person who met her, a sense of wonder and beauty that can only be found with those truly connected to the world. Ann was more than a " coordinator", she was an artist who used her creative talents to teach and inspire, leaving a mark on the people who knew her. 

It was completely impossible to know Ann and not absolutely adore her. She was one of those people who’s inner light shone out in almost every encounter with her. For everything that was shown on the outside, what was happening on the inside was far more special.

Ann O' Connor and I
Holy Saturday 2000
Ann was curious about the world and loved to examine it. Whether it was in the morning while she was walking her dog along the beach as the sun came up, or by visiting an art museum and noticing something new to ponder, Ann would examine things from every perspective she could imagine. She would investigate and think long and deep about everything that presented itself to her. When she finally made a decision about something, she would share it from a perspective that made it poetic.

Her thoughts didn't just range on what was, but also how little things could be changed to provide a better experience. One fantastic example of this a story she shares in her book The Twelve Unbreakable Principles Of Parenting. She and her family were participating in a country wide grassroots symbolic effort to promote energy conservation known as "Roll Your Own Blackout" in which people  turned off all electricity for three hours. As she and her family gathered around, her son grabbed the box where the candles were stored. As she watched him open the box, she immediately regretted the fact that the candles within were cheap, broken, and used. She wished that the box had contained fine beeswax candles in pastel colors, individually wrapped with different flavors. She felt that if that had been the case, the scents would have become intwined in her children's memories of childhood and whenever they would smell those smells in the future, the kids would remember their house and the experience of growing up. She took the time to look at something ordinary and think of a way to make it extraordinary. 

In addition to co-authoring A Guide to the windows
of St. Gertrude, 
 and writing for US Catholic, Ann published
her own book in 2006

Ann looked at the world with an artist’s mind. She loved art, but was unable to draw. She loved music but was unable to play an instrument. These roadblocks did not stop the creative spirit inside of her, instead she found ways around them and used her creativity in such a way that was unique and inspiring. She collected. She invented, She instructed. She created. She wrote. 

Ann was greatly inspired by The Artist's Way
by Julia Cameron

" is not only drawing but it is everything: music, theater, dance, photography, writing, cooking gardening, conversation- anything, in fact, that is accomplished with truth and beauty in short, art is life and life is art."

"Human beings cannot not create. Creativity is not something only artists do, it's something we all do everyday, whether we are aware of it or not"

Ann put together books of poetry, some of which were striking, sad, and yet completely beautiful. She used these to teach, but they served another function – they helped her to understand the world. When she showed them to others she took their experiences and their perspectives and rolled them into her own. Then she gave them back, in her own unique way. Using what she learned from all kinds of different sources, ranging from lectures and readings to live theater and dance, to invent situations and rituals which allowed the participants to enter into the sacred stories themselves. The interesting thing about this is that these creations spawned new ideas and new creations from Ann themselves. The cycle she started continued to move forward and create from itself.

Some of Ann's Origami work courtesy of Carolyn Backis (c) 2013

On the Prepare The Word website, where  Ann had been a contributing author, she is listed as a "writer, bookbinder, and paper artist". While all this is true, it does little to describe her.  Ann O' Connor was a creative spirit who used art to it's fullest, allowing it to touch every aspect of her life and then turning it into something that touched others lives. She was truly one of a kind.

One of Ann's many mobiles which hangs in the
back of St Gertrude's parish. Photo taken  from
St. Gertrude's bulletin for April 28,2013

Monday, June 3, 2013


In an effort to keep my senses sharp on the comic book work I've been doing, I've decided to take the time to do other types of illustrations. This all began when I started to do some of the quick sketch drawings, that I try to do every week, in pen as opposed to pencil:

These were one minute sketches done at the Drawing Workshop
over the weekend

My goal is to start doing all gesture drawings in ink as well:

Quick gesture drawings on on my commute home last week

In an attempt to use up my old marker refills left over from the old storyboard days, I created this. The first thing I realized is that the ink from the refills works the same way whether it be on a marker nib or a paintbrush. While that brought back a few memories, it also reminded my why I didn't really care for markers.

I also drew some faces using a soft pencil:


And created a little watercolor painting:

Lastly, I took some characters out of a book of photography that was used by Norman Rockwell to create his paintings ( Norman Rockwell: Behind The Camera by  Ron Schick) and did colored india ink illustrations of them.

These exercises are fun and educational in many different ways. Look for more coming soon.