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Archive for March 2010

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RIP: Robert Culp

A couple sketches of Robert Culp, in his memory; from his I Spy days, and later in life.

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R.I.P. Joe Sarno

Joe has gone to that Big Comic Shop in the Sky.

This picture (sent to me last night by my ol' Trollords pal, Scott Beaderstadt) sums up Joe's character so well. We'll miss you, Joe. Thanks for everything.

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Happy St. Pat's Day - Dennehy Sketches

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, here's a couple sketches of one of my favorite Irishmen and actors, Brian Dennehy.

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I'm a Himmelfan

His Gematria didn't quite flip my switch the first time I heard it in 1988, but after a few more listens, Peter Himmelman's music seeped into my head and heart, and I've been a Himmelfan ever since. And while his studios recordings are by and large a treat, he's truly an experience live. I saw him play twice while I still lived in Chicago, once at the bowling alley-shaped Lounge Ax, then at the historic Schubert Theater. He showed up for the former at the front door, making his way though the crowd carrying a brown bag in which he carried a box of crayons and stack of letter size paper. Early in the show, he passed them out to the crowd, encouraging us to write poetry, create art, etc. that we passed up tot he stage as the show progressed. After he'd invited 20 people on stage and everyone else to move up to get closer to the stage, those on stage with him taped the art, crafts & poetry to the wall behind him while he played. Eventually, he improvised a few songs based on what we shared with him. He made the whole audience feel they were part of the show, a truly interactive, and personal experience: it was performance art, really, involving the crowd, whether they'd agreed to it in advance or knew it or not. A couple years later at a much larger venue, he employed similar hijinx, inviting those in the balcony to join him on stage. That didn't go over well or go very far with the union hands - so much for that; they were sent back to their seats. The show began with an old Jewish man with a thick accent in a long, shabby coat introducing the band. When it came time to introduce Peter, he dropped the coat and hopped on stage and introduced himself! I'm pretty sure many didn't know it was him 'til the last moment. He and the band covered some of his most blistering and biting rock tunes, as well as emotional ballads, sometimes wholly remaking a song with completely different arrangement than the studio version. He even stopped the band in the middle of one of the songs to discuss a particular arrangement with the pianist, Jeff Victor. "That's not how we practiced it, is it?" And judging from the many live recordings of his shows I've heard, he brings something unique to every show. A couple years ago, he began streaming a live show online, one hour on most Tuesday nights, Furious World. Unfortunately, I've never had the chance to catch it, what with busy nights helping the kids with homework, etc. But this past week I discovered all the past shows are available for viewing as videos at his web site. I'm kicking myself I didn't happen upon them sooner. So I've got a lot of catching up to do, planning on watching a new episode each week, with older episodes in between, 'til I'm current. Himmelman's music has been a staple for me for over twenty years, as he's continued to release studio albums, a handful of albums for kids and six volumes of Himmelvaults, outtakes, live tracks and assorted cuts that didn't make an official album, but which contain many songs which easily could have.

Thanks again to my pal, Tom, who also introduced me to Lyle Lovett's music.

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The Confessions

My long-time pal and comics collaborator, Brian Augustyn has recently begun his own writing blog, The Confessions. The first few posts have been thoughtful and insightful, and well worth a read and regular visit, as I'd expect nothing less in the future, as well as the occasional hoped-for piece of short fiction. I've known Brian for over 25 years, and would like to think I know him better than most. With his over-six-foot frame and strong personality, he can be an imposing figure. But don't let him fool you. Inside, and within the blog lies the soul of this li'l kid.

Please do check out The Confessions and give him a read.

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Alive Day

I've written plenty about it here on this blog in previous posts, but it feels important to mark the day, as it's been one year since I slid sideways on a snowmobile into a tree. T'was a life changing event, and while I was aware of that fact mere moments after impact, even while I was trying to begin to breathe again, it's become clear a year later now I didn't really know the full extent of what I was in for. I'm no spring chicken at 46, so my bones are healing a lot more slowly than docs expected and I hoped. On certain days, I still experience sharp pains along my sternum and ribs below my left chest, some days my nerves are raw, feeling nearly exposed on the surface. Now, that may be because I slept in a certain position; or 'cause it's damp or due to the barometric pressure; it may be because I exerted myself during light exercise or picked up a kid when I probably shouldn't have. And sometimes it's just 'cause. At times the physical pain triggers anxiety, or vice versa. I can be panicky whether I got a good night of sleep or not. Even though I'm getting better and am on a general upwards trajectory, there are moments I wish a could take a mulligan, have a do-over. It doesn't happen often and I don't let those thoughts linger - what's the point? But it's apparent the ramifications for me and my family will be felt for a while yet, perhaps for years or the rest of my life. Knowing that, it's a blessing to be reminded by friends and family that they're glad I'm still here. One friend on Facebook pointed out to me that those in the military who've had close calls acknowledge it with what they call Alive Day. Upon reading more about it, I've discovered it extends beyond the military, so there's no reason it can't apply to me. We'll see if it helps me in future years to be that aware, or better to just let it pass and fade. Either way, I try to remember each day my good fortune and blessings. It's good to be alive.

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Fox Mascot

I did this cartoon fox mascot for a construction company some years back. Their last name and company name was Fox, so they knew what animal they wanted to use; a natural. Because the character would most times appear very small in printed logos, business cards and brochures, we stuck with very simple and flat color.

I never got the chance, but it would've been fun to do a series of poses of this Fox at work and in action.

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Sketches: Jack Lemmon in The Apartment

I watched Billy Wilder's The Apartment last night, the latest of many viewings. As good as the story and dialogue are, the players bring it all even more to life: Shirley MacClaine believable both as as the respectable girl next door and flawed wanderer; and Jack Lemmon as a doormat/schlub/corporate climber and lively, nice guy character.

The dialogue by Wilder and collaborator Diamond sparks and crackles, with a rhythm and cadence all it's own, repeated phrases used effectively for humor and depth. The supporting players are perfect, especially Ray Walston and Fred MacMurray. Upon first seeing the latter in this movie, I was taken aback at what a jerk he was, having grown up knowing him as the gentle and kindly Dad on My Three Sons. I found a thoughtful take on the movie, wherein blogger Will sees Wilder's The Apartment as a precursor to today's Mad Men.

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Jewish Comics: Mitzvah

I'm tardy in posting this strip we did last August for Kid's Zone magazine. This one focused on doing good deeds for those in need, so the star, Joey and his pals get together to raise money.

They get some good advice from someone who may look a tad familiar, though for the final art they had me add a top hat.

And here's a sneak peek at the layout for page 2 (of 3). At this point I still worked the old-fashioned way, scribbling with a marker with a board on my lap. My process has since changed, which I'll be sharing soon on this blog.

Read the whole comic (and those done previously) in our Prime Projects section, or at my Facebook page.