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Archive for March 2008

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Batter Up!

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I've returned to the blog a day early to ring in the opening of the new baseball season. A few teams played last night, including the Washington Nationals, who won with a walk-off homer in their new stadium . Though I rooted for the Cincinnati Reds while growing up in Chicago, I was still a Cubs and Sox fan. And now transplanted in Minnesota, I can't shake that Cubbie Blue; it seems to be in my blood. The Cubs debut this afternoon if the game isn't rained out (looks bleak). If they play, though I'm working like crazy, I get to watch while I draw, one of the perks of working from the home studio!

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Time Out

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We interrupt this blog, because we need a break and have much too much going on. We'll resume regularly scheduled blog programming on April 1, and just in time to celebrate our 100th post. See you on the 1st, fools!

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Happy Easter!

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A Girl and Her Banjo

For more vids and to learn about Mercedes Landazuri, visit her YouTube page (another favorite of mine is I've Got a Crush On You) or the Mercedes Island web site.

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Warming Up for Opening Day

Up here in Minnesota, the temperatures are finally starting to rise, the snow is melting and the last week or two my daughter Emily has been asking, "Daddy, do you wish it was Spring?" Yes, I do. Almost here, but it can take its time, as we may not have regular 70+ degree temps for another six-to-eight weeks. So, to help get through this last push, my thoughts turn to baseball. Despite the steroids and scandals and high ticket prices, I feel like a little kid again as each April approaches and spring training begins, and long for the official first pitch, that first crack of the bat. Over the years around this time, I've been reading a baseball book to get in the mood and whet the appetite. If you like baseball at all, you may want to dip into one of these best I've found before the ump says "Play Ball!"

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Wrigleyworld - Sports columnist Kevin Kudak quit his job to move back to Chicago to live in Wrigleyville, with an intent to attend as many Cubs games as he could during the 2005 season. He found an apartment in the area to share, and bought no tickets in advance, usually snagging scalped tickets just before the game. Filled with fun and funny anecdotes, chronicling his adventures and those of fellow Cubs enthusiasts who make up the obsessed and crazy culture that's grown in and around Wrigley Field. A quick read, this one's a must for Cubs and baseball fans. If I Never Get Back - Out of print for some time, this charming genre melange is now available in paperback. Mixing time travel, romance, baseball and historical fiction in an utterly entertaining fantasy in which the protagonist finds himself playing on the first official baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, and gallivanting with the likes of Mark Twain. I've just discovered author Daryl Brock followed up in 2002 with a sequel, Two in the Field, which I've not yet read (next year!). Ball Four: The Final Pitch - Pitcher Jim Bouton chronicles his last days in baseball with this humorous tell-all. Written in the form of a journal or diary, Bouton exposes behind the scenes dugout and locker room anecdotes with no holds barred and self deprecation. Quick, light reading. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game - Micheal Lewis explores how Billy Beane, general manager of the A's and a former player figures how to win in the Major Leagues on a small budget. Starting with using mathematical analysis of the game concocted by Bill James and his annual stats newsletter, Baseball Abstract, the book is a fascinating look at creative and imaginative ways a GM can run a small market team. This year, I'm reading We Are the Ship and The Boy Who Saved Baseball, and both look great so far. The former is a beautifully illustrated overview of the Negro League, the latter a novel actually for ages 9-12, but if the beginning is any indication, there's plenty for adult baseball fans to chew on. Of course, if reading isn't your cuppa, there are many great baseball movies to take in, my favorites being Field of Dreams, The Natural, Bull Durham, Pride of the Yankees, Damn Yankees, Eight Men Out, A League of Their Own, and the lesser known TV movie, Long Gone, starring CSI's William Peterson, along with team owner Henry Gibson, and his son, played by Teller (he speaks); a perfect casting match. Also worth while are Ken Burns' documentary on baseball (particularly the first few episodes, before it becomes too New York-centric) and This Old Cub, the recent documentary about former Cub and present-day radio sportscaster, Ron Santo, which covers his efforts to be voted into the Hall of Fame and his struggles with diabetes. Great stuff, written and directed by his son, Jeff Santo. Grab one of these that sounds up your alley, 'cause it's almost time to...play ball!

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Big Head DVD Reviewer

When doing layouts for recent caricature, I began with a quick sketch on screen with the Cintiq. Though I was pleased with the likeness, I realized the ratio between the elements was off. I needed to push the envelope and exaggerate the relative proportions.

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His head needed to be larger, not only for easier identification, but also to fill space. I also enlarged the clapboard, so the title for this by-line illustration could be as large as possible for readability, and popped it out beyond the border, to add depth and attract attention. This was all a snap to do digitally in Photoshop, enlarging only the head, then reducing in size the director's chair on which he sits. I tightened the drawing throughout, drawing anew only the arms, which had to be exaggerated to make it all work.

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Lastly, I needed to fill space in the lower right, so added a shark swim toy for fun, alluding (in something of a stretch) to the shark in Jaws, as this weekly feature in a local New Jersey newspaper focuses on Summer DVD recommendations. To me, Jaws, more than any other says "summer movie." To view the final color art, visit our Blue Moon Gallery.

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Six More Weeks....

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The most difficult part of getting through a Minnesota Winter is March. Most folks like the variety or don't mind the snow and cold, but after an already long Winter, everyone just wants it to be over. We all haven't seen much of the neighbors in months, and many (especially those of us who work at home) have a bit of Cabin Fever. March gives a hint of sun and warming, but the temps still drop, the snow still falls. Spring is so close, one can taste it, but...not yet! Minnesota Spring is such a tease. The upside is that when Spring does come here Up North, it bursts forth in an instant, and there's no doubt Spring has arrived. Almost there...!

I should've posted this Woodchuck Weatherman on Groundhog's Day, and I've always liked him. Another illustration from when I was using crosshatch more, there's a nice tonal shift into the shadow and a hairy texture which is pretty effective. I tried to vary the textures from that crosshatch, with a different look for the ground, and the more bold and graphic spots on his tie. Though this works in black and white, it might be fun to color.

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More Mummies

It's two for the price of one today, with this second post of the day. That's a first, and I've skipped but a handful since beginning this daily blog more than three months ago, also inching us closer to our 100th post.

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I don't mean to be gruesome, but the mummies have gotten in to my head. This time, I digitally colorized the line art, again done directly with a brush, then threw behind them some mid-tone background color.

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Odds 'n Ends

A Comment on Comments Readership to this fairly new blog is steadily growing, and some splendid souls have contributed comments. Thanks! Keep them coming, as I try my best to respond. Towards that end, a reader (Hey, Tom!) has pointed out it'd be nice to be able to know if and when I've responded. So, now you can subscribe to comments on this blog, and you'll be alerted via email when I respond to your comments. Just click on "comments" on the bottom of a post, then check the box below the send button on that page, and we'll be able to engage in a little more back-and-forth. Beyond that, in the future we may add a link on the sidebar to the left for a Recent Comments page, so you can click and see at glance what everybody's saying. Good idea? Let us know. Superman vs. Hollywood Book Cover Update Just read a initially skeptical and ultimately positive review of the book, Superman vs. Hollywood for which I provided the cover. The review links to our blog post about the release of the book. Check it out. Further Update: I just received an email from the writer of the book, Jake Rossen, who's provided a link to a web site he's put up to keep tabs on all reviews and info. Read more at supermanvshollywood.com.

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Green Bugs, Green River

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Our li'l bedbugs have Gone Green for the holiday, in keeping with the Chicago river in our old hometown, which they still colorize each year on this day.

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Here in Minnesota today, the falling snow is white. Happy Paddy's Day from all of us here at Blue Moon!

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