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Blue Moon Crew

Concerning the doings of Blue Moon Studios and the Fricke Family: The Blue Moon Crew
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Memorial Day

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Thanks to all those who've served, and to the families of all those who've served. Their incredible and selfless sacrifices of many kinds afford me the life I have, the work I do, and allows me to do things like this little blog. This illustration served as a cover for a small magazine, done in 1991. Executed entirely without holding lines, just hatches and crosshatching, it's a style I wouldn't use now, but seemed right at the time, and for the subject matter. I colorized the line art a blue/green for the blog today.

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Blue Moon Junior Artists

Our daughters, Laura and Emily recently had their artwork displayed in the art fair with the local school system. Their art has been chosen nearly every year since they started attending. The art program and teachers in our school system are impressive, giving all the kids a good taste of many media and techniques, all on full display at these fairs each year.

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Emily with her "Picasso Face."

 

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Laura with her "Leaves." This photo doesn't do the art justice.

 

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A close-up of Emily's art.

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Prince Caspian of Narnia!

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When reading to my daughters the second book in C. S. Lewis's Narnia series a few years back, I made up a theme song I'd belt out, and they'd join in. We'd all sing over and over, "Prince Caspian of Narnia!" That's all there was to the lyrics, really, but gosh, it's majestic! You should have heard it. Emily didn't want to hear it as we watched the beginning of the movie. They don't like when I sing in public, even if it's a whisper. We went on a Monday night right after school, having instead enjoyed some long-overdue nice weather during the weekend. There were only eight of us all told in the theater, which was kinda nice. We all enjoyed the movie, though agreeing it wasn't quite as good as the first in the movie series. I'd give it a solid 3.5 stars (of 5). The story was engaging and well-adapted from the book. This article makes the case that the movie improved upon the book, and it's hard to disagree. Not my favorite of the Narnia series, the structure of the book is out of whack. What makes the book is the concepts and characters, all of which are captured well or improved in the movie. The kids from the first book return to Narnia, this time hundreds of years after they last left the land as kings and queens. With this device, Lewis shows the long, slow pull of history, and the threats sometimes faced by civilization, a potential danger whether in Narnia, World War II Britain, or for us today. Heady stuff for a kid's flick.

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There are lots of battles and some scary stuff towards the end with an evil werewolf and totally creepy BirdLady, but the most fun for me was seeing come to life on screen the little mouse warrior, Reepicheep. He was easily our favorite character of the book, and the movie does him proud, even if Laura was critical of his design: "He doesn't look like a mouse!" But she's something of a rodent expert. Reepicheep provides unexpected action, comic relief, and a sense of honor. I read a review which said that the Narnia movies are "Lord of the Rings Lite," but that's unfair. Lewis's books have a tone and charm not found in the Tolkien stories, and to me, they're preferable. I'm looking forward to the third in the series, as Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a good book; they'll have even more to work with.

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Brain Balance

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Being a creative person, one might think my Right Brain would be in charge. Not always so. I've also got a logical streak, so sometimes my Left Brain is in command and dictates. My pal, Mitch has coined a term to describe the condition: Corpus Callosum Dominant. The corpus callosum is that thing in our little mammal brains which connects the left and right hemispheres, a bunch of white matter that handles much of the correspondence between the two. I'm not sure if too much communication is ever a bad thing, but the good ol' CC can sometimes cause me some real headaches, blessing me with perhaps an enlarged or overactive conduit. Depending on the personal situation, I'm not always sure which half will take the lead. At times of indecision or agitation, I wish one of the sides would just take over, making it easier on me. It can get a little goofy in here, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone to get a glimpse inside my sometimes confused mind! Of course, being Corpus Callosum Dominant can have its advantages for work, coming in handy for running a business, or when assessing, planning and executing creative projects, especially those large or complex. The left brain kicks in overdrive when: taking direction, asking specific questions about details of a job; figuring measurements and specs; or doing multi-panel and multi-page breakdowns. With those last two items, we start to enter areas where both sides work together, not entirely analytical nor creative, but rather a synergy of the two. That's when it's best, when there's a balance and one gets in a groove to solve creative problems and challenges. Sometimes it's tough to sustain that balance during the creative process. For me, the danger comes in over-thinking a piece, where the art can become stiff and I can wring all the life out of it. I can run into this while songwriting, as well, find myslef trying to shoehorn a melody around a buttoned-down song idea, or well-thought-out lyrics. Sure, sometimes it takes extra work to fashion something worthwhile, but work it too hard and you can kill it. And while it's nice -- essential, actually -- to go totally Right Brain and play around without thought about a finished product or piece, in the end an artist still needs a more reasonable voice to find structure in a work or make the call that a piece is indeed finished. I'm sure I'm not alone. All of us dance back and forth between logic and emotion every day, every second. And maybe my case isn't all that extreme, really. But sometimes it sure feels like it! What a relief and pleasure it is when things are clicking on all cylinders, to tap into a small portion of the power of that incredible lump in our skulls.

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More Kidney Comics

We're working on the sixth poster for the National Kidney Foundation, a campaign we began in the Fall of 2006, as I mentioned in January. We're pleased we just received word that the campaign will extend further with three more posters, with hopes and plans for beyond. nkf02.jpg It's gratifying that the comics poster series has been well received and is effective, using comics to increase awareness, diagnosis and treatment of Kidney disease. It's been a pleasure working with Sam, Kieran and Alex at the BryantBrown Healthcare Marketing agency Here's to many more! Click away to view poster #5, just added to our Prime Projects section. nkf_food.jpg

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Kid's College: Funny Cartoon Faces

The last couple Fridays, I spent the afternoon with bunches of kids from K-8th grade for school Career Days, teaching cartooning. My daughter, Laura's eXtreme Day at middle school was last week, and yesterday was Kid's College at Emily's elementary school.

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It's always a blast, as nearly all kids at this age love drawing, and have plenty of ideas and imagination, and most haven't yet learned ways they shouldn't draw. I start these sessions with a quick overview that like them, I was always drawing as a kid, and wanted to do it when I grew up. After briefly showing them some of the comics, book and projects I've worked on, I get them drawing, and together we come up with various ways to draw the main features of the face: eyes, nose and mouth. It's a ton of fun to watch them piece these features together at different sizes on a variety of face shapes. Before our session's done, they're all character designers, with a start at creating stories for their new characters.

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I've been doing these sessions since I began my career, at least a few times each year. It's gratifying to pass on a little of what I've learned over the years, and to receive those packets afterwards with all their crazy drawings! See you in the funny pages, kids!

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MN MicroCon 2008

The comics show Sunday was a lot of fun, if a little chilly. Seems fitting, as the two-day show last October was sweltering and sweaty. Go figure. That's Minnesota weather for you. I got a good reaction to the Bedbugs ABCs mini-comics, and to Bedbugs in general. Now I'm brimming with ideas and plans for our li'l yellow pals, with an eye towards the to-be-expanded-and-enlarged two-day show this October 4 & 5. My daughter, Emily joined me and sold out of her homemade Funky Munky Kookies. Friend and superhero artist, Doug Mahnke has the empty cookie bag to prove how fast they went.

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Good ol' Zander Cannon was on hand, as usual, with his similarly-named studio mate, Kevin Cannon (not pictured). Both guys are always so nice to do sketches for my girls -- thanks, guys! Zander has the dubious distinction of being a Trollords fan; thanks for the early support, Zander! These two are beginning another graphic novel project, so have three that will be released in 2009. Look for Kevin's Far Arden, coming out this Friday, and read their Big Time Attic blog, always a treat, including Kevin's report on this very same show.

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I just realized I've known MCAD teacher and 11-year Batman inker, Terry Beatty for almost thirty years! Where did the time go, Terry? Mostly spent at the drawing board, I guess. I've been a guest to a couple of Terry's classes and caught up with a couple of his students at the con. Terry's got a blog, too, and shows off some mean sculptures at Terry's web site.

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Joel "Mojo" Moen was one of the first fans I met after moving up to Minnesota from Chicago fifteen years ago. I've always enjoyed chatting it up with Mojo, now for several years as a pro inker himself. He's currently inking a story penciled by pal and fellow storyboard artist Peter Krause.

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Sam Hiti was kicking back near the end of the show. A bold a prolific cartoonist, he's busy on a 250-page graphic novel. Order his Tiempos Finales and other books or sketches at the Sam Hiti web site. Many other folks were at the show, but I didn't have my camera handy for shots of Dan Jurgens, Gordon Purcell, Jeff Limke, Cedric Hohnstadt and others. Maybe this Fall?

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Crazy Color Abstract

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A more upbeat Monday post than a couple weeks back, thanks to this color abstract painting my daughter, Laura did for school. One thing that's so cool about abstracts; they can be rotated to work a few different ways, sometimes even provoking a different emotional reaction in the viewer. Check Laura's own page on this site for another view of this painting. How do you think it differs from this view?

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Softball in the Snow

One of the perks of working at home is that I've been able to walk my girls to the bus most mornings, and be here when they arrive home from school. As long as they're interested, I'll take advantage of the opportunity, 'cause I love it and simply 'cause I can. It seems both girls like it, and may even appreciate it more when they're all grown up. You can't buy that kind of time together, and can't beat the power of those personal rituals.

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Since second grade began for Emily last September, while she and I have been waiting for the bus nearly every morning, we play catch. In an act of defiance against the frigid cold and harsh Winter, we toss back and forth a 16" softball 'til the bus arrives at our driveway. We've experimented with and have honed a handful of trick tosses and catches, with high or straight throws, and a variety of spinners. With all this practice, Emily's improved skills and confidence, and during the cold months, no less. We've played catch whether it's been below zero or during a blizzard. It helps keep us warm, or busy, at least, and we have a blast.

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When we see the bus coming, I send her off with a mantra: "Be good; work hard; be smart; have fun; and most all -- be cool!" Her trusty bus driver, Troy is always friendly and fun. The mornings wouldn't be the same without him. Troy whisks all the kids off to school, and it's back to work for me.

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Move On, Already!

It was weird watching baseball on TV opening day last Monday, with big, fluffy snowflakes falling here in Minnesota. We got 4-5 inches that day. And though it all melted during the rest of the week, we got a little more snow yesterday. It's Spring, can't Winter take a hint?!? They're out there playing baseball, for gosh sakes! And I see I'm not the only one who feels this way:

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One great thing about comic strips is how they can sum up or comment on a mood or idea so quickly; in and out. The first features Nancy, currently drawn by Guy Gilchrist. Blog nod: Heidi MacDonald's The Beat. The second: I receive Mutts comics every day via email. It's easy for you to do the same to read regularly Patrick McDonnell's timeless strip. Lastly, of course, features good ol' Charlie Brown in an edited Sunday Peanuts strip from late March, 1956. You gotta admire that kid's tenacity...or is it stubborness?

And if you think I'm done writing about Spring, snow and baseball, just wait....