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Mad Paul Returns!

This January I began meeting weekly with my fifth Introduction to Comics class at MCAD. One curious student, Ms. Taylor Zappa found online some old Mad Paul cartoons drawn by previous students...and became very worried. For a short bit, she was convinced I may really be Mad Paul, ready to snap at her at any moment! Despite my explanations about the origins of the strip/character. She's got the hang of it now, and has been churning out new Mad Paul comics, and I must be on my guard, for I am being watched. Looks to me like Mad Paul is evolving into a Camix Doofus...









Mad Paul III: With a Vengeance

A new semester of my Intro to Comics class at MCAD begins today. In just a few short hours, I'll unleash the Hounds of Comics on a room full of unsuspecting students, and my Reign of Terror will begin. Comics is not all fun and games, oh, no. It's Hard Work. If they didn't know that already, they will soon, as they slog through my new syllabus for a Comics Boot Camp.

I'll either break them, or they'll break my syllabus, or...we'll all be fine.

Aw, it'll be OK. It's Comics! What could go wrong?


Mad Paul cartoon by former student, Chan Chau


Mad Paul Goes Trollin'

Nothing like a teacher stalking you - just ask my student, Chan. A couple weeks ago, I popped in on one of her live streaming video sketch sessions (just to see what the kids are up to these days). She enjoyed so much me peeking over her virtual shoulder as she drew, I'm sure, and bristled when I gave her some crap about her lack of backgrounds on some pages. Just what she wanted to hear!

So she answered with these quick sketches, which I screencapped, just before she erased them:




Maybe I'll pay her another visit soon...?


MCAD: Mad Paul

We'd gotten through to the mid-term of our Intro to Comics class at MCAD and my students knew where they stood. They had their grades-to-date and knew where I thought could improve, what they could work on certain areas and weaknesses for the latter half. Spring Break was a week or two later, and I figured they return for the last push refreshed, but they were exhausted! Within a week or two everyone was on track, with renewed energy for their Final Comic.

One young lady, Chan once again decided to challenge herself by doing a 20-page comic (only 4-6 pages were required). My reaction?

Somewhat skeptical, a little scared for her, a little scared of her (she'd no doubt pull it off, with panache). But she was taking a risk she'd crash and burn.

This exchange apparently kicked off a weekly cartoon she called Mad Paul Mondays, tracking the last few weeks of the semester...

Well, Chan kicked that comic's ass. Behold: Moviegoer!

I still can't believe she was unfamiliar with the work of Jaime Hernandez. Great job, Chan! Everyone did a nice job on their finals, actually.

And now, as of yesterday, it appears Mad Paul may be a series:

What, was she peeking in the window at our house last night?! Mad Paul may be a joke to Chan and her fellow students, but unfortunately for my wife and daughters he all-too-often makes an appearance here at home!

Anyway, they must miss me. I miss them, and it's only been a few weeks since the last class! Not Mad Paul - Sad Paul.  = (

There are more cartoons of me, but I gotta get this scanner up and working or replace it ASAP - then I'll post the rest.


Professor Paul and Mad Chan

Constructive Criticism in the Classroom:







I'm still not doing her justice, but am getting closer to capturing the gorgeous Paulette Goddard. I made an earlier attempt with this digital drawing, and also used her as the model for one of the characters in a strip a drew a few years back called Autotoons. Can you tell which of the three young ladies is based on Paulette? She's had my attention since I first came across a late-nite movie in my teens, Crystal Ball with Ray Milland. It's a silly movie, almost a screwball comedy, but in it she's smart, sassy, exotic, funny and has a spark on screen that can not be denied. I'm still on a quest to own that movie, as I don't believe it's been released on DVD. Since, of course, I've watched an re-watched many of her movies, sitting through some bland or sub-par stuff just to see her in action. Among her best are Chaplin's Modern Times and The Great Dictator (if you can avoid that final melodramatic and cheesy Chaplin speech in an otherwise silent movie - if only he'd kept it that way!), and she's a fine dancing partner for Fred Astaire in Second Chorus. So Proudly We Hail is a better-than-average WWII flick focusing on nurses during the war. I still like her best in Crystal Ball, which you can view in its entirety online. Movie history would've been something different had she gotten the role of Scarlet in Gone With the Wind, a part I wish she'd snagged, though Vivian Leigh undoubtedly inhabits the character. These screen tests show how good and close Paulette was. Here's a fun tribute to Paulette - she's trouble! I'll sketch her more in the future - no doubt...


Bedbugs March In Madison!

The Blue Moon Crew hit the road on April 1 (no joke!) so the Bedbugs and I could visit Westfield Comics in Madison, Wisconsin on April 2 for a reading, cartooning workshop and signing. I begin each event such as this showing children how I created and evolved the Bedbugs characters, then we explore various ways to draw the main features of the face: eyes; nose; mouth. With these tools, anyone can mix & match on any face shape to show a multitude of expressions and emotions. It was great to see the kids there drawing and creating their own characters. I read the Night of the Bedbugs book as a slideshow on a TV screen, large enough for everyone in the room to see. What fun to hear  kids laugh at different parts of the story - how gratifying! They also loved the Bedbugs Boogie and Bedbug Lullaby music videos. After the presentation, I juggled Bedbugs beanbags and juggling pins, chatted with those who purchased books, signing and doing sketches, and mixing it up with old friends who stopped by. Good time! Thanks to our pals, the Carani family for helping set up the appearance, being fine hosts and taking pics & vid. Everyone at Westfield was great - thanks, to Bob Moreau & Co!  


Comics Man!

It's been two months since the last Intro to Comics class at MCAD, and I miss it. During that last session, some students gave me a sheet of drawings they'd done. Chan Chau kicked it off with the many moods of Mad Paul...

Most of these are more accurate than I'd like to admit.

Caroline saw me as a manga superhero:

Chan again, depicting me as a barrel-chested knight, as deluded as Don Quixote!

Brando's take:

HA! I may technically be a Baby Boomer, but I'm not quite that old. But once in a blue moon this Simon & Garfunkel fan is Feelin' Groovy.

Chan says I get this manga-like twinkle in my eye when I talk comics. I've heard this many times before, and it's even been caught on video (gotta share that someday).

Best I can figure Sugoi is a clothing outfit. What, do they sell Hawaiian shirts?!

And you can take the boy out of Chicago, but not Chicago out of the boy. Young Wisconsin cartoonist Jei sez I pronounce 'comics' thus:

Anyways, always and ever a Mid-Westerner.

Thanks, y'all! More Mad Paul comics coming soon...?



Creator of the Marooned long-form webcomic, Tom Dell'Aringa asked me to do an illustration for the collection/graphic novel, which has been successfully funded via Kickstarter. Here's the process on my piece.


I'd hemmed and hawed on the content, layout and style for a while, finally tossing out all my ideas and scribbles at the last minute for a different stylistic take on the Marooned characters. I modeled the alien terrain on The Garden of the Gods, in Colorado, where I spent a week with my my family on vacation in '76, taking some color cues from that area, as well. With a couple green creatures in the piece, I made my stars lean green, for balance. Then, for the last touch, I added four different textures, but I'm not sure you can really tell the diff. I gotta stock up on more textures!

Even if you missed the campaign, copies of the Marooned book may available once Tom has them printed up, and it's off to press as I type. In the meantime, visit to see what else Tom is up to!



MCAD: Intro to Comics Class

On our last day of class, we took a few group pictures, so here's the crew from my first foray with higher-level instruction: our MCAD Introduction to Comics class, Spring, 2012:

Back row, left to right: Amber, Caroline, Professor Paul, Brandon, Aaron, Leigh. Middle row: Olivia, Rachel, Thomas, Tanner. Front row: Jei, Chan, Alice & Nicole.

I had a great group of students with a palpable passion for their art and/or comics. They impressed me, coming into the class with more drawing and storytelling chops than I'd expected. I just read all their course evaluations, and while I'm pleased they all liked the class, their constructive comments will help me focus more on where I can improve if I get the chance to teach again. I hope they learned a lot, but here's...

What I learned:

• If you ask me talk about Comics for hours straight, I can do it. In fact, it's tough to shut me up.

• My Corpus Callosum Dominant condition is a perfect fit for teaching an art class. Relying strongly on both sides of the brain is a big help to handle the aesthetic nature of art class as well as the organizational and structural necessary to keep me and the students on track.

• Regardless of one's age, we can all pursue our passion or bliss, make dreams come alive through action, and have personal challenges, situations and stresses to overcome.

• While grounding ourselves in traditional, tried-and-true methods of art-making, we must also embrace and encourage the use of digital tools and technology. As long as principles of drawing, storytelling, composition, design and clarity are followed and adhered to, it doesn't matter what tools we use.

• Comics makers are a weird, idiosyncratic, smart and sharp, wonderful group of people.

• The future of Comics is in good hands. You'll be buying and reading comics, watching cartoons made by these young people shortly.

Just for grins, our Justice League pose - heroes all!


Marilyn Reads

I tweaked some of the line art from this piece I drew for the daily March Madness sketch blog, refining Marilyn's likeness as best I could, and shortened her left leg. Dropped in some flat color. I don't mind this one at all.


Comics Panel Process: Smack the Fist

As I've written here recently, I streamlined and simplified my process for doing comics and the occasional illustration. Rather than doing a series of thumbnails, layouts and pencils, I jump right in and pencil digitally, which looks like this, drawn at print size...

That keeps my gestures and expressions loose, drawn with no reference at hand. From there, I convert the pencils to blue line...

...and usually just ink away. It's more fun than nailing down the pencils overmuch, 'cause it feels more like drawing in ink than the more technical process of embellishing or almost tracing something you've already drawn. But sometimes I don't feel I've gotten things quite right, so take photo reference to make sure of details, gesture, positioning and perspective.

I was surprised with this figure that I was more on the money than I'd thought. I tightened the drawing a bit lightly with a pencil over my blueline, focusing mostly Joey's cap and hands.

And I liked this photo well enough I made it my new Facebook profile pic. It was time for a change from my Bedbugs book author photo, anyway.

After inking, scanning and clean-up, my wife and I color in Adobe Illustrator for a clean, largely flat-color look. I added a few lines to accentuate the smack of the fist, and we're done! From a series I draw of comics for Jewish kids.


Bedbugs Hit The Road

Midwest fans of comics, kid's books, Dr. Seuss and Chuck Jones cartoons: Stop by and see me in Madison or near Chicago the first weekend of April, and bring the kids for tons of Bedbugs Fun!

Inside Westfield Comics; Madison, Wisconsin

I'll be at Westfield Comics in Madison, WI Saturday, April 2 and Keith's Komix in Schaumburg, IL on Sunday, April 3 leading a Cartooning Workshop for kids, reading and signing my Night of the Bedbugs children's book, juggling, showing music videos and more. Click the links for more info.

Keith at Keith's Komix; Schaumburg, Illinois

Besides books, I'll have Bedbugs tees, sketches, buttons, marbles, tattoos, as well as the assorted superhero, comic book or Trollords sketches. See you here or there!


TothPix: A Plethora of Posts, A Load of Links

Since starting this blog series on master comics artist, Alex Toth, I've spent some time online seeking out more of his work, and in doing so have come across a host of posts on other blogs, articles and essays on comics web sites and online forums. At the time of Toth's death (2006), the official Toth Fans site (still the best and deepest resource) was really the only game in town, save the rare collector who shared their Toth original art, but since then more and more folks are discovering or sharing love of Toth, scanning and posting entire stories, analysis, or transcribing Toth's notes and annotations on his work. Here are some favorites:

In sussing out more material for my posts on Toth's Zorro, I stumbled upon a review by William R. Hancock at, which made reference to a Paul Revere story Toth had drawn just previous to his Zorro work. The panels above are just a taste of the brilliance one will find at John Glenn Taylor's Easily Mused blog, where he makes available the entire patriotic story. Enjoy! I'll be doing a more in-depth analysis of this piece on my blog later.

James Romberger recently posted an insightful article, Cursing the Darkness: The Last Horrors of Alex Toth at The Comics Journal site. And you'll find a new Kubert vs. Toth essay at his The Hooded Utilitarian. Smart, well researched stuff.

The Cloud 109 blog has covered a few Toth stories, including the romance tale, Lonesome For Kisses, focusing on nuances of expression (above). Also featured is analysis of the Kurtzman/Toth war story collaboration, F-86 Sabre Jet (below), complete with a side-by-side comparison of  black & white and color versions of the story. Survival transcribes Toth's annotations on the story for easier reading, and the short Dirty Job is one powerful read. I hope Cloud 109 does more on Toth, and make sure to check out more on one fine blog.

Monte Wilson features a few choice pages, and a couple complete stories, one romance and one war story at his site. And to finish things off, you may want to save some time for the infamous exchange between Toth and Steve Rude, who'd sent the pencils for his Jonny Quest story done for the Comico series. I've provided links to both a forum which includes Toth's hand-written notes, and a cleaner, easier-to-read version, which features responses from Rude. In the end both artists have points, but one wonders if Rude ever regretted asking the infamously curmudgeonly Toth for his assessment?!

With the coming release of Genius, Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth by Bruce Canwell and Dean Mullaney (Dec. 7, 2010), and other similar books, we Toth fans will have plenty to sink our teeth into.


Bedbugs Sketch: Nonsense Poem

This sketch done for a fan who won a prize package for "liking" the Bedbugs Facebook page, less a sketch and more a performance, a recitation of something like a nonsense poem taught to me by my grammar school pal, Rick Berning (who remains a friend to this day, and lives about five minutes away here in MN, though we grew up in Chicago). I've been reciting this poem to friends and kids ever since, as best I could remember it. After a small bit of research online, I was able to fill in gaps, and made a couple changes of my own for fun.

During research, I came across several versions, varying slightly or wildly, like so:

'Ladies and Gentlemen, Hobos and Tramps, Cross-eyed mosquitoes and bowlegged ants. I come before you, to stand before you, to tell you a story I know nothing about. One bright morning in the middle of the night two dead fellows stood up to fight. They stood back to back, facing each other, drew their swords and shot each other. If you don't believe my lie, it's true, ask the blind lady on the corner, she saw it too.'

There are many variants, which include references to a dummy referee, a paralyzed donkey, a mute psychotic, ladies and jellyspoons (or jellybeans), bald-headed babies and a guy with a pancake stuck to his bum - LOL! All these I found at the best and comprehensive collection at this folklore site. Check 'em out! Have you ever heard the version close to the one I recall, or any of the others?