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Archive for October 2011


Alphabeasts: C is for Cacus

Cacus is a fire-breathing giant (son of Vulcan) who met his end at the hands of Hercules. Above is my take on him. Before coloring him up in Photoshop, can you guess (from the images below) how I inked it: brush, dip pen, or digitally? I drew it at first with the border all around in case I decide later to keep it, but originally envisioned the drawing opening up and blowing out the border with fire. Alphabeasts is a 26-week project, a blog where artists of all types and stripes contribute a mythical creature or beasty any old way that suits them, as long as it's a new drawing or sketch of a creature whose name begins with the letter for that week. Check out A-C creatures by an amazing array of artists at the Alphabeasts archive, and be sure to check in every Monday.


Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from Blue Moon Studios! Check out our Halloween-related posts from the last four years...


What Time Is It?

Time for an Adventure Time sketch!

We sure love Finn and Jake & Co. here at our house. I wouldn't have expected to like it as at first glance the character designs and drawing style are a bit crude and child-like. But watch one episode and it's easy (nigh impossible not) to become hooked. The strange characters, odd stories, unexpected dialogue, wordplay and catchphrases are infectious and irresistible. It's one weird show, working on many levels, suitable for kids but what's not is no doubt over their heads. There are plenty of references, underpinnings and allusions to keep adults watching and laughing, but coming back for more. The usually-abrupt endings are to die for - they'll crack you up, have you hitting the rewind button or have you scratching your head (Wh-wh-a-a-t?! Did they just end it like that?!). Fun stuff.

Cartoon Network has released a DVD, but it contains ten random episodes, not the full first season. What the math?! Also frustrating is that not all episodes are identified by title on our DVR, so we have over 80 15-minute episodes recorded and saved. We've watched many more than once.

There are some cool toys out, but they sure are expensive - even the little ones (2" tall)! (Scroll down at the link: Chapter 4 for kids meeting creator, Pendleton Ward; Chapter 5 for toy pix.)

Oh, I'll have this (8.5 x 11") sketch for sale at the MIX show here in the Twin Cities this coming weekend. I'll be at table #30. See you there!



TothPix: Rude Awakening

Just a few days before Halloween, a perfect time to feature an Alex Toth horror story! Rude Awakening originally appeared in Creepy #7 (Warren), in 1964; Toth was 36. The story was also reprinted in an All Toth issue (Creepy #139). Toth opens the proceedings with a nice rendition of Uncle Creepy, the ever-present narrator. I love Toth's upper/lower-case lettering here, and his signature. Why does a little thing like a nicely-done signature make me so happy?

But it's a pretty stupid story, really. One expects more from writer,  Archie Goodwin (for good reason). It's a trifle, a knocked out circular tale of a guy having hallucinations. There's not much point to it. Despite this, Toth finds interesting ways to tell it, with cool shots like this:

Hmm. "I feel terrible...not sleeping well...nerves shot!"
I can relate! Can't we all? (Or is it just me?)

Toth reinforces the off-kilter sensations of the main character with wild, angled panels throughout. Not one to stoop to tricks and snazzy layouts, Toth does so here only when there's a reason. The panel below displays typical Tothisms: spotted blacks; shadows; varied characters and expressions; foreground elements for framing and depth. There's a visual sweep from left to right as one guys leans to grab Mr. Asher's jacket sleeve, creating horizontal folds. Nice grey washes/tones and textures in this frame and the story in general.

Having done so many comics for Dell using their 6-panel grid (which he came to enjoy), it must've been liberating to go to town and experiment, no more so than in the page below (page 4). Asher is paranoid, nervous and disoriented, being haunted, chased. Toth smartly uses the perspective in panel 1, extending the angles to form the borders of the four panels below it. What cool page composition! All that black negative space is creepy, indeed.

Things don't end well for Asher, as he throws himself out a window, landing in a position not unlike so many characters in Family Guy are shown. Still breathing?! Looks pretty lifeless. But that body has much life!

This weird guy with the Hypno-glasses has been after the poor guy the whole story. Even a 3-story fall couldn't save him.


Alphabeasts: B is for Bloody Bones

It's week 2 for the 26-week Alphabeasts project, a blog where artists of all types and stripes contribute a mythical creature or beasty any old way that suits them, as long as it's a new drawing or sketch of a creature whose name begins with the letter for that week. For my part this time: Bloody Bones.

My goal is to mix up the medium or approach as dictated by the beast I choose each week, experiment and explore, but always with an eye on simplicity, design, composition and color. This dude was drawn in Manga Studio, colored in Photoshop. These creatures are open in most cases to wide interpretation. Rather than going with the pile of bones or skeleton in the kitchen cabinet, I opted for the bloody skeleton hovering over a pond. So much fun, and just in time for Halloween!

Check out the cornucopia of creatures by an amazing array of artists at the Alphabeasts archive, and be sure to check in every Monday!


Méto & Jyoti

Character names for the adorable snowboy revealed! Méto is the adorable snowboy, but he's a bit out of sorts here... Every one needs to let off a little steam every so often, hey? I'm gonna be using a weird, bright-but-sometimes-subtle color palette for this comic. Lots of color knock-outs, colors to fit the mood of any given scene or panel. Here, our li'l Nepali kid, Jyoti is feeling the fear -

Just for grins, here's the line art of that Méto shot. No pencils, just straight with the pen tool in Manga Studio (okay, I used the eraser tool for a couple spots)....

I can't seem to stop drawing these guys. And this is just scratching the surface of their story and world.


More Nepali Kid & adorable snowboy

Still messin' in Manga Studio. Upgraded from the demo and acquired the full version. I'm sure I've but scratched the surface of this software, but this new comic I'm developing will be drawn digitally, using this program. I need to play more with coloring in MS, or may end up doing that in Photoshop. This kid has got a hold on me. He'll be the pal of the adorable snowboy. I drew this one at the Book Festival last weekend with a thick marker, colored today with Photoshop. Oh, there'll be more...


Drawing With Kids

I spent Saturday drawing with kids in the Children's Pavilion at the Twin Cities Book Festival. Tried to teach 'em a thing or two about cartooning, creating characters and stories. I learned from them, too. Always do.

All kids draw. Some don't stop.

At the Festival, some kids drew known characters, some created their own. Some scribbled abstract shapes and textures. Some were off on their own, others wanted some pointers. Others called out ideas and suddenly I was taking requests. It was fun! I drew some cartoons versions of some kids who stayed by the table a while, gave 'em a little memento.

It's funny, at an early age, kids draw free 'n' easy. The sky's the limit. There are no rules. In all my drawing sessions with kids, I try to encourage that. Sure, I offer tips, tricks, guidance and insight, but It seems a mistake to shackle young kids with too many boundaries and guidelines. There will be a time for that soon enough. At some point, if a kid keeps drawing, they're gonna put in a lot of hours, learn the rules before they can break them again.

Lots more pix of the day and event viewable for anyone at my Facebook page.


Alphabeasts: A is for Amala

Artist Ben Towle's Animal Alphabet drawing blog (which I totally missed!)  was so successful he and pal, Andrew Neal are following up with a new blog: Alphabeasts, where artists draw a new beastie every Monday. The drawings gotta be new and the creatures' name must start with the designated letter for each week. My first entry: A is for Amala...

Amala is a Native American myth, likely inspired by the myth of Atlas. He holds up the flat Earth on a spinning pole, but this image came to me first, so I drew it up right away. Atlas actually holds up the Heavens, but is often depicted as supporting our world or a globe representing all the heavens. Maybe I'll sketch up Amala with that pole sometime...

Check out all kinds of crazy creatures by a plethora of finger-painters at the Alphabeasts archive every Monday. And join in any time - the more the merrier!


TothPix: Witches in Black & White

Another Halloween approaches, so we feature a Toth page and panel in black and white of the Witching Hour witches!

It sure looks as though he lettered and inked these himself. I like how he varies the word balloon shapes here. Swirls of hair, folds of ragged cloaks and crazy cropping create clever compositions weaving our eye about the frames.

Nice action, spotted blacks and squiggly textures and fun stars in that last panel (above). Figures, folds and the broomstick direct us sharply through the frame. Boiling Bats of Beelzebub, indeed!

Great design in the final frame (below) as Toth varies textures, shapes and angles in this creepy close-up!