Comics For Hire #3: In The Bag

This painfully hip piece goes so far back that l have forgotten who the client was- my assumption is some young adult magazine published by Scholastic or one of the other educational publishers. l can’t recall the year either, but internal evidence points to 1994 or 1995. The flannel shirt worn by one of the band members dates it to the era of grunge (which I had never heard of before Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994 made headlines), and I’m certain I did this job while I was still living in New York, so that had to have been before June 1995.

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Comics For Hire #2: The Perils Of Dr. Pauline

Dr. Pauline in peril
Julie Benz

In a follow-up to the Rasheed Wallace comic featured in a previous blog post, l have mounted all the episodes to date starting with this one, of an advertising series for SmartStart Practice, a service which provides veterinarians with the education and training to run their own businesses. The hapless heroine, Dr. Pauline, is an overworked vet perenially swamped by the details of maintaining her practice and in dire need of outside expertise.

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Comics For Hire #1: A Fresh Start.

 

Rasheed Wallace
Rasheed Wallace

Most of the work I do on commission is illustration, but occasionally a client who knows about my comics will hire me to draw a strip for publication. This strip for The Portland Monthly was the client’s concept all the way, and if the result looks unusually stiff, it’s because I was dealing with a sport I know nothing about- basketball- and an athlete I’d never heard of- Rasheed Wallace ( I believe he used to play for a team called the Trailblazers). With the thorny matter of race added to the mix, I wasn’t about to attempt anything too caricatural. Basically this piece is a straight photocollage with a light layer of drawing- using photographs I found of Wallace online, I put together a layout with added captions and balloons in Indesign, then used Photoshop to convert it to a dithered dot pattern which I printed onto coquille board and then pencilled over.
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Coming Soon To A Wall Near You

Irving Park Fountain in sinusoidal projection
Irving Park Fountain in sinusoidal projection

Stop the presses! I have actually sold a piece of original art! (Of course, I have been a working artist for over thirty years now, but as an illustrator and cartoonist I create art to be reproduced and no one much has been interested in owning the originals). A submission I made in January to The Visual Chronicle Of Portland, a city-owned collection of works on paper– prints, photographs, paintings and drawings– that focuses on artists’ views of the city’s social and urban landscapes- has been accepted, and at some point soon it will go on display. No black-tie gala planned for this year’s inductees, who also include Justine Avera, Kevin Farrell, Jason Greene, Bruce Hall, Alex Lilly, Francis Rosica and Jake Shivery, but there is a nice check and the satisfaction of seeing my work hanging somewhere besides on a telephone pole (the works are exhibited in publicly accessible areas throughout City and County offices).
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Put on your 3-D glasses

 Here’s something new I’ve been goofing around with when I haven’t been deep in work on the new perspective book. It’s 3-D caricature, and it really works. My first subject is the great Jonathan Winters, one of a projected series titled (with apologies to Drew Friedman) “Old Goyishe Comedians (In 3-D, Yet!)”  You’ll have to put on your red/blue glasses to get the effect:

Jonathan Winters red/blue
Jonathan Winters red/blue

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Escher: the Bowling Ball

Escher's House Of Stairs
Escher's House Of Stairs

There are a few images seen early in life that I can call formative; an early Crumb panel glimpsed in an issue of Newsweek, a dark painting of a brutish bartender answering an old-fashioned wall telephone, framed and mounted for unknown reasons on my grandmother’s kitchen wall, which frightened me for years until I examined it closely and found it to be a cartoon by Jack Davis- and a drawing in dizzying curvilinear perspective of a group of bizarre buglike creatures climbing up and down unsupported staircases and curling themselves into wheels to roll down long corridors, which I saw in some Time/Life science book when I was about ten years old. It was only years later that I learned the name of the artist, M.C. Escher, when I saw the drawing again in a collection of his work. I made many attempts to draw pictures in the style of that image, but I could never manage to get the perspective right. Continue reading Escher: the Bowling Ball

Roof Garden On A Tiny Ball

Spherical painting of New York City rooftop
Spherical painting of New York City rooftop

There’s a new gallery of spherical paintings coming soon to the portfolio section, but in the meantime here’s a post about the first one I ever did:

Wooden ball with gridlines
Wooden ball with gridlines

Years before I wrote my own book about perspective, I was experimenting with pushing its outer limits. I was inspired by seeing Buckminster Fuller’s dymaxion world globe projected onto the sides of a twenty-sided polyhedron to try the equivalent in perspective- an entire 360° visual field as seen from one point in space drawn onto twenty triangles to form a continuous image. I did a couple of early drawings using this method, including a fold-up ornament sent out as a Christmas card in 1993.  Eventually I got tired of the difficulties involved- each of the twenty triangles has its own perspective, and it’s extremely difficult getting objects to line up over the gaps- and I figured out that it would be simpler to draw a continuous image on a spherical surface. I got a wooden ball from a crafts store and drew a 360° perspective grid on it- basically a picture of a cube with ruled lines on it, viewed from inside so that six vanishing points each line up with the center of a face. Here is an example of a ball ruled with perspective lines. Over that I did an acrylic painting of the garden on the roof of our loft building in New York and gave the finished piece to Eve as an anniversary present in 1994. This post shows the picture of the ball- as you can tell from nearby objects, it is quite small, only about one inch square. Continue reading Roof Garden On A Tiny Ball