Friday, January 31, 2014


Femforce issue no. 166, which features the first of two Ms. Victory stories I've illustrated, is coming out next month. Here is a description of the issue:

 A simple trip to feed NIGHTVEIL’s cat turns into an extradimemsional battle for SYNN when a trap set for one heroine actually nets the other, in “Cat And Mouse”, featuring the return of the villainous VIVARNA!! Then, the story you thought you’d NEVER see-  “She-Cat Goes To Prison”, penciled by great new Spanish  sensation Manuel Diaz.  Cellblocks brimming with rioting thieves and murderers are NOTHING compared to the REAL danger ‘Cat discovers in the basement of the ‘State Pen! It’s a lucky thing that Ms. VICTORY  was in the area when a  touring mini-sub ends up at the mercy of a giant squid in “Pumped”.  While plans are made to start the investigation back at FFHQ, we  finally get a peek inside the headquarters of Century International as the master plan of WAMPYR and CIANOSE DJAB begins to unfold. SYNN makes an encore performance, teamed with a heroine from AC’s past in “Just Synn Time”, and we return to the mysterious Dawn World for a second helping of SHE-CAT solo as well, as we come to the stunning conclusion of last issue’s flashback adventure with CAVE GIRL and THUNDA. Then- NIGHTVEIL RETURNS!!  But, is she the same heroine that left? And, back in the 1940′s, DINOSAUR GIRL must contend with an entire island of feral, savage giantesses in “Found World”. Get set for thrills, fun and excitement with stories and art by the usual cast of characters- Mark and Stephanie Heike, Mark Holmes, Rock Baker, Scott Larson, Jeff Austin, Scott Shriver, Mark Dail, and Riccardo Desini.  All this behind a spectacular group-action cover drawn and colored by comics/animation sensation WILL MEUGNIOT!!

This issue will be released on February 26, 2014.

Friday, January 24, 2014


In my lifetime I've seen a number of things change. I remember when vinyl records became CD's, and CD's became MP3s. I remember when telephones had busy signals before call waiting, when rotary dials were replaced with buttons, and when landlines became cell phones. I remember when models used to be built by hand and now they can be build 3D in a computer program. Technology changes the world around us, but that doesn't affect how someone draws, does it? While the basic principles of art stay the same, the materials change. For example, Leonardo Da Vinci never owned a pencil. It didn't exist in his lifetime. Leonardo drew with chalk.

For those of us who live in the 21st Century, it's the computer that effects everything. This includes drawing. There is a ton of digital art being produced. I experimented with digital painting myself when I produced my Christmas card last year.

This illustration was painted completely digitally

I had never really considered line drawing on the computer until recently.  The idea of it intrigued me so I looked into it. What I found was this, there are two ways to do it using either a Cintiq, or a Wacom Bamboo Tablet.

Both devices are plugged into the computer. With a Cintiq, the user literally draws on a screen as if they were drawing on a sheet of paper. It's like having a digital drawing board.

This is how a Cintiq works

The Wacom is a little different. The user  draws on a pad, but needs to look at a separate computer screen while drawing on the separate pad. A Wacom operates in much the same way as a mouse. Both the Cintiq and the Wacom have their advantages and disadvantages.

This is a Wacom Bamboo

For my purposes I decided to work with a Wacom tablet. I started experimenting the same way I started drawing way back when. I pulled out my George Bridgeman book and started drawing from it. It took me a while before a realized that the way to go was to do my "roughs" in "blue pencil" and then the next stage with a "2B pencil".

The rough

The finish

Done with blue "pencil"

The finish on top of the blue

There are things I have yet to learn with this.

After my initial drawings I decided to do my comic book roughs completely digital. Here's the result:

My blueline digital rough

my second more finished digital rough

The final drawn on bristol board by hand

Once the roughs were finished and approved, I finished them up the usual way. I prefer to have the finish be by hand -  at least for right now.

For more information on digital comic book illustration, check out the excellent book by Freddie E. Williams, The DC Comics Guide To Digitally Drawing Comics.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


When I first enrolled at American Academy Of Art in Chicago, we were required to attend an orientation. Not much about that day stuck in my mind. I remember hearing the school rules about attendance, where the library was, and dull things like that. Before the end of it however, we were told an interesting story. It story went like this:

While being interviewed a famous musician was asked why he practiced everyday. His response was "If I don't practice one day, I can tell; If I don't practice two days, my family can tell; If I don't practice three days the critics can tell; and, If I don't practice for four days the audience can tell."

A number of years ago I received a copy of The Complete Terry And The Pirates Vol. 1 by Milton Caniff. This book reprints daily and Sunday newspaper strips from 1934 to 1936. I'm not really a big fan of newspaper adventure strips, so when I got it I flipped through it a couple of times and then put it on my bookshelf with the intention of reading it "someday".

Well, someday came at the end of last year when looking for something to read on the way to my office. I was a great deal of the way through it when I decided to take a look at the first couple of strips and discovered something amazing. The artwork done over the course of one year had improved drastically. It changed so much that the illustrator in 1934 couldn't be recognized as the same person by the art in 1935. Hard to believe? Take a look at this:

This is the first Terry strip from October 22, 1934

This is from June 8, 1936, about a year and a half later

So why was there such a drastic change in the artwork? The answer is easy: Milton Caniff drew every day - EVERY SINGLE DAY. He wasn't endowed with a magical "talent" that allowed him to whip up masterpieces off the top of his head.  He worked by drawing and drawing,  observing and observing, experimenting and experimenting and then drawing some more. 

The magic formula for becoming a great illustrator is drawing everyday, observing what others do, and experimenting with techniques learned. 

For this new year, I am making an effort to do this. I myself am guilty of not being consistent with my drawing. So both when I am working on something and when I am in between projects, I will also be creating a side illustration. It may be a sketch, a painting, or  figure studies. If you are interested in seeing how I do, you can chart my progress of my Facebook page in the album 2014.  My plan is to have, at the very least, 365  pictures added to it by December 31. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


2013 was a vastly different year than any before when it came to exploring my creativity.

Almost immediately I found myself working on a story written by my friend Erica Schultz, the brilliant creator of M3. She asked if I'd be willing to contribute to an anthology she was helping to put together to address bullying. The story she wrote took place during World War 2  - D-Day to be exact.  It was a lot of fun researching the era through photos and movies, especially since my Dad went through Normandy a couple weeks after D-Day. I spent a lot of time gong through his old army scrapbook looking for reference.

The story pushed me in a couple of different ways. First, it really taught me the importance of reference and getting things right. Stories are only good and art only believable when it is based on reality.  I also found myself inking and coloring this story- neither things I'm incredibly comfortable with, especially with the amount of detail I had put into the pencils on the pages.


I decided to fade the colors in order to give them more
of a Saving Private Ryan look. 

Initial colors

Shortly after I got another script from AC Comics for a She-Cat story-  a Raiders Of The Lost Ark style truck chase written by Mark Holmes. The script was great and my only regret was that I wasn't able to put as much time or effort into it as I would have liked.

In April, my friend Ann O'Connor passed away. Ann was an incredibly creative person who found a way to show her creativity without knowing how to draw, paint, or anything that most people would consider "art". I was very touched by some of the things I discovered about her and her feelings toward my work. This realization showed me that I needed to push myself and my creations more.

I decided that I needed to start exploring some different outlets of creativity. I  found myself drawing from National Geographic Magazine which gave my work a more worldly feel. From them I drew people from other countries and animals. I also started spending more time at the Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts drawing from a live model. The difference now being that I drew with a pen, or did marker studies, or paintings, and ended up doing a couple of pastel drawings. I entered a piece of art into a gallery show. I plan on doing some sculpting and some model building.

rough pencil drawing

Experimenting with odorless markers

Marker and pen studies
quick sketches

gouache painting of live model

pastel drawing of live model

My first exhibition piece for the Chicago Architecture Association's
tour of Chicago's famous buildings

Storytelling studies:

Erica Schultz asked me to do a painted cover for M3 #9 which will be out some time in February 2014.

This is the pencil for the cover. I will post the painted finish
when the book comes out next month.

I finished out the year with another Mark Holmes Femforce story starring Ms. Victory. The thing that was odd about this story was that although the story itself was average Femforce fair, my artwork was not. It is not often that I think the work I've done excels the story in anyway, but this story was different. I don't know what happened but something did. I sure wish the She- Cat story had turned out like this one.

That was about it. I have a few projects in mind for 2014- both personal and professional. I'm looking forward to see what I can accomplish this year and hope you are too!