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Archive for September 2008


Paul Newman: 1925-2008

Great actor, even better guy. We'd heard this was coming, but still so sad.

Growing up, Paul Newman was one of a pair of actors of whom I was most aware. Both about the same age, they're gone the same year, only a few months apart.  I drew Heston when he died in April.

I'll post another Newman drawing, and a list of my favorites of his movies, as soon as I'm able.


Another Awesome Deadwood Cast

Continuing yesterday's schtick, here's an alternate take to the perfect cast of Deadwood, thanks to suggestions by my pal, Alex Grecian:

Seriously, I can't decide which I like better. Dom Wu has to be in either way, right?


The Ultimate Deadwood Cast

My pal, Alex and I were talking about the Emmys, which we barely paid any attention to, but were pleased that a couple of our favorite current shows, Madmen and 30 Rock received the top awards for drama and comedy, respectively. That's good news, not only to see quality rewarded, but for extra exposure to shows that need larger audiences to survive. So, if you're not already, please watch! The flip side, of course, is when certain actors get nominated that make you think of the old Sesame Street song and game, "One of these things is not like the other...." Somehow, that lead us to imagining a different cast for HBO's Deadwood, a list which I've expanded and present to you now, complete with graphics. Perhaps with an altered cast, Deadwood may have lasted beyond it's truncated three seasons. The original cast is on the left, the new, improved cast on the right: Much better! Just imagine these actors in your favorite Deadwood scenes. Now, that's a show I'd watch! Here's a larger version of the ultimate Deadwood cast:

And my favorite cast member and character, Mr. Wu!

Sorry to those Deadwood fans who are used to more graphic language -- this is a family-friendly blog!


Jerry Reed and Amos Moses

I'd guess most folks knew him best for the Smokey and the Bandit song, East Bound and Down, or for being a member of Burt Reynolds' entourage, along with Dom Deloise. Those three were ubiquitous in the late '70s and into the '80s, always showing up on talk and variety shows, goofing off and yukkin' it up. But Jerry Reed wrote songs and played guitar for Elvis, had a long career and some quirky hits of his own. Man, could he play a mean guitar, and what a character!

Check out this duet with Chet Atkins, for whom he wrote many tunes:

I love the banter during the song, that goofy hat he's wearing, and how he puts it on Atkin's guitar and looks away at the end. His playing isn't perfect here, not being as technically proficient as Chet, but this is a real moment, authentic and their personalities come through. He wrote and recorded tons of songs over decades, with a style and approach all his own, but had more than a little in common with other writers such as predecessor Roger Miller, and contemporaries Jim Stafford and Hoyt Axton. And while he could really play, write ballads that tug at the heart, what I remember him him for most are novelty songs such as When You're Hot, You're Hot, She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft), and my favorite, Amos Moses, a funky cajun-rock-country hybrid:

Amos Moses - Jerry Reed

See what a mean? That stuttering, clickety guitar riff is a great teaser, and then Reed bellows out a vocal intro before the verse that gives a hint of what we're in for. What a grabber of an opening, and then Reed tells southern-Steve Irwin kinda story, and the song leaves you wanting more, clocking in at 2:22. While researching for this post, I came across more Jerry Reed tracks I'd never heard, and will be expanding my Reed playlist. Obscure Amos Moses Anecdote In the late '80s, while I was active in the independent comic book scene, a favorite artist and fellow self publisher, Mark Martin and I became friends. He not only wrote, drew and published his own Batman parody comic book called GnatRat, but also did a regular strip in weekly newspaper, The Comics Buyer's Guide. You never knew what would appear in Mark's 20 Nude Dancers 20, but one week I was cracking up at the strip/faux ad wherein Mark portayed himself as a famous and great singer, offering to personally sing you your favorite tune over the phone for a measly $5. In the list of suggestions was Amos Moses, and going along with the joke, popped my $5 of Monopoly money in the mail the next day and promptly forgot about it. But true to his word, Mark called one night shortly after, jumping right into a sterling rendition of Amos Moses, and I've rarely heard anything as funny! He recalled the lyrics far better than I had, and really did Jerry Reed proud. Good ol' Mark, still a great cartoonist and funny guy.  But not a race-car driver. Stop by Mark's site and say hey.


Cubs 2008: Division Champs...again!

Some think it an anti-climax, given the Cubs were division champs last season, but man, is it fun for this old Cubs fan to see them dominate and clinch handily this year. This is just the first step if they're to win their first World Series in exactly 100 years, but the team and their fans certainly deserve to celebrate a bit before the playoffs begin. Growing up in Chicago, I saw plenty of Cubs games on WGN, and made tons of trips to Wrigley Field with my Mom, brothers and Grampa. In the early '70s, a grandstand seat was only $4, a far cry from the prices today, especially at Wrigley, especially this year. It's a shame it costs so much to get a seat nowadays, but there's nothing like a game outdoors at that old ballpark -- the sights and sounds an! Over the years, all that has brought people out to the field, even when the Cubs weren't at all good. They were no good by the time I started paying attention and watching games, collecting baseball cards. While sorting my cards and checking stats, I was drawn to Johnny Bench and the Big Red Machine of Cincinnati, but always rooted for the Cubs (except when they were playing the Reds, or course). It was fun to follow a winner during the '70s, but the Reds as a team haven't done much for me since, and even living in Minnesota now, it's the Cubs who make me giddy as each season approaches. That Cubby Blue is in my veins, it seems. This Spring, it was a cinch to see they were gonna be good, so I ponied up the dough and got the baseball season cable package. One of the many advantages to working at home is to be able to watch or listen to anything you want while you work.  So, I haven't missed many games all year, and was able to know the team inside out, track their ups and downs (mostly ups) and enjoy the big moments. One forms a special bond with a team, being able to follow them so religiously you get to know the strengths and weaknesses and get in the groove, ride the rhythm with the team. Once they get to the playoffs, that all makes it even more fun to watch. Now, anything can happen in the post-season (that's a bruised and cautious Cubs fan talking), but this team seems to be something special. They have no real weak spots, with great starting pitching, a more than solid bullpen, and a Cinderella story with a rehabilitated Kerry Wood in his first year as the closer. They're a deep team, with all players throughout the roster contributing all season.  In tonight's win over the Mets, pitcher Jason Marquis hit a grand slam while pitching seven solid innings. They can strike an opponent at any time from many angles. I sure will be disppointed if they don't make it to the Series -- 'cause they should. And I hope they win it all. It would be quite a capper to an already magical season...and to the 100-year drought. Go Cubs!


Batman On My Face

It was such a gorgeous day out Saturday, the Blue Moon Crew stopped by the local Plymouth Autumn Art Fair. Lotsa folks were displaying their wares: paintings, hand-made jewelry, woodwork, etc. With fun food, live music on a nice little lake, it was a pleasant time. We're thinking we might try and get a spot next year to display and sell paintings, books, figurines and cookies. Our girls and their friend had their faces painted:

Friend Ashley, and our daughters, Laura and Emily

Oh, yeah, and Emily got a balloon hat, too. Laura's butterfly was really beautifully done:

If you want to jazz up an event you're planning near the Twin Cities, give the nice ladies at Fantastic Faces a call at 952-368-4488. They'll even paint on grizzled, unshaven adult faces:


Minnesota FallCon Sketch Cards

I'll be attending the Minnesota FallCon October 4 & 5. I've been appearing at this show for years, even before I moved up here from Chicago now over fifteen years ago. The show is run by the nicest group of guys you'll find, true comic book fans who couldn't treat better the attendees and guests. Stop on by and say hello! To help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the annual Minnesota Fall comic book convention, cartoonists across the country have contributed collectible sketch cards, some that will given to convention attendees, and some auctioned for charity. Many cards are viewable at the site; just scroll down a tad and click artist names to see cards that might soon be yours. And here are my contributions, featuring characters from projects past, present and future.


Everybody's Got Something to Hide....

I've been making good progress when time allows the last few weeks on a seven-page story to appear in the Image comic, Proof. Here's the first panel of the story, featuring an old man and his monkey, in glorious color:

For the past several years, I've been coloring most of my illustrations and comics in Adobe Illustrator, but on this story I'm trying a different look and method using Photoshop. Still employing a simple, mostly flat-color look, I'm also using a chalk Photoshop brush for backgrounds to add texture and depth, separating the characters from their environment a bit, similar to the approach used in much animation. This is the last preview of any art for the story that I'll post before it appears, which may be sooner than later since I may finish it earlier than I expected. I'll keep you posted here.