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Sketchbook

1

PROOF Short Story

I've done plenty of comics the last decade, just not any that have appeared in a comic book. After having drawn hundreds and hundreds of pages within the comics industry, all the comics I've drawn since have shown up beyond its borders. That's about to change, as I've signed up to do a short story that will appear in the pages of Proof. I've not yet received the script from my pal, Alex Grecian, but the story sounds like it will be a blast to draw. Alex has divulged to me I'll get to draw even more crazy creatures from the book, and one that will be making his debut in the story I'll be drawing. In preparation, I doodled a couple pages of character studies of Elvis Chesnut and the Dover Demon, two of Proof's best buddies, and a couple of my favorites from the series. Here's a sneak peek, although Elvis will look different; he's had a haircut since I did these studies, some in pencil, some in ink.

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2

Robots!

When drawings robots, I find I don't like to get too technical (I don't much love drawing cars or machines, either), instead preferring to make them as animated and organic as possible. I vastly prefer drawing the human form and face more than anything else, so my robots are also a reflection of that, while taking liberties, of course, to stretch, distort and exaggerate. This first group shot was a convention sketch, a commission from a Chicago fan who gave me carte blanche, and this is what I came up with. The droid on the right has an Art Deco quality, or perhaps suggests an African mask. Kinda needly, ain't he?

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This next series of robots were done for a CD kiosk company that never quite got off the ground. I tried to work the CD shape into the design throughout, as ears, buttons, wheels, and the like. These guys needed to be friendly and are more on the cute side. One of them reminds me a bit of the old cereal character, Quisp. He, and his cereal are back, or still around!

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That doesn't mean I'll just go for the cute or goofy when doing robots. I can go nasty and gnarly, too. Space Waster is one of ten postcards I self published way back when. I'll probably post the rest around Halloween.

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While preparing this post, I'm reminded of some early robots I liked drawn by certain comics artists, and one of my first characters, say, circa 1979, a robot named Mac. So, it looks like there will be another robot post in the near future.

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Happy Easter!

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More Mummies

It's two for the price of one today, with this second post of the day. That's a first, and I've skipped but a handful since beginning this daily blog more than three months ago, also inching us closer to our 100th post.

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I don't mean to be gruesome, but the mummies have gotten in to my head. This time, I digitally colorized the line art, again done directly with a brush, then threw behind them some mid-tone background color.

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Mummy Faces

Fiddling with faces, mummified, directly with a brush.

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Bald Troll Giant

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I did this one years ago on a whim, and always liked it. I think I sold it as a convention sketch. The figure was inked with a brush, the background crosshatching with a crow quill. I used to crosshatch a lot back then, but don't find much interest in it now; I don't want to take the time, and like a more simplified look.

4

Doodles: Bruisers and Doofuses

In the middle of projects, artists sometimes need a break, but still need to draw. While working for someone else, it's energizing to draw whatever you want for a couple minutes. Either beforehand to warm up, or in between tasks, just to get a quick change of pace or to keep loose. Most of these were done quickly and directly with a brush, one with a thin pen.

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Husk

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Another shot from the Blue Moon Illustration Archive, I call this one and more like her Husks, reminded of them as I felt run down and sleepy again yesterday. Haven't drawn them in years. I always liked how these rambling, shuffling beasts looked, but a story never developed around them. I've more, so if anyone likes them, I'll post additional Husks. Done with a combination of Hunt Crow Quill and brush on bristol board.

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Caveman

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While talking on the phone, I whipped up this Digital Doodle on the Cintiq with a few Photoshop brushes, one of which is a "pastel on canvas" effect that evokes somewhat the old Craft-tint paper.

2

Love That Lyle Lovett

He may be a weird-looking dude, and he may not fit easily into a single musical genre, but make no mistake: Lyle Lovett is one of the finest American songwriters and singers ever to come down the pike. Never mind he first arrived on the scene and has his roots in country, Lyle is a complete American original; with an unmistakable singing and songwriting voice, he handles a range of musical styles with wit, panache and insight.

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His most complete and cohesive album is the superb Joshua Judges Ruth. Covering blues, country, gospel and folk, he knows how to tell a story, drawing in and setting up the listener for a poignant twist or a wry punch line, as he does in Since The Last Time and Church, respectively. Other albums are strong, and some are patchy collections, but over twenty years he's built an impressive catalog of songs. I recall vividly hearing him for the first time, when my buddy, Tom (Thanks, Tom!) introduced Lovett's music to me, playing She's Hot To Go. I was hooked immediately. It was apparent at once here was a new and unique voice, someone who could swing, jab with sharp or subtle humor, give and take, all presented with a smooth and sly vocal style. When dealing with the subject of male/female relationships, he approaches it from many angles. He can be sarcastic or nasty: as in She's Hot To Go or Her First Mistake, both playful and self deprecating pick-up songs; She's No Lady, a facetious stab at marriage; and My Baby Don't Tolerate, where he bristles at the controlling mate. Or, he can be wistful with a break-up song, like She's Already Made Up Her Mind and All My Love Is Gone. But all this is balanced with sweet, tender love songs as in the straight, simple and beautiful Flyswatter/Ice Water Blues and especially Nobody Knows Me, or fun, bouncy feel-good love tunes like Cute as a Bug and She Makes Me Feel Good. His second best album, Lyle Lovett and his Large Band is split in two sections (one side each on the original LP): Big Band and Country. The country side features some of his best songs, some mentioned above, as well as a gender-flipping cover, Stand By Your Man. There's nary a clunker on the bluesy Big Band portion of the album, with additional stand-outs Here I Am, What Do You Do/The Glory Of Love and Good Intentions. Sure, I don't love it when he gets all twangy, but then just don't play those tracks as much. But sometimes when working in the country song form, he gives things a twist, with titles like I Married Her Just Because She Looks Like You, She's Leaving Me Because She Really Wants To, and the post-divorce ditty, where the narrator says, "You can have my girl, but...Don't Touch My Hat." And lesser efforts like I Love Everybody and Step Inside This House (a double album of covers of lesser known fellow songwriters) still have their worthwhile tracks, like Bears from the latter, and from the former: Penguins; Creeps Like Me; Skinny Legs; and Old Friend. Through all the up-tempo songs, the sly humor, he'll occasionally cut to the quick with devastating studies on family and loss. In Family Reserve, he relates the stories of the unexpected deaths of friends and family. The ghosts of those departed join him in the final chorus, "Were all gonna be here forever/So mama don't you make such a stir/Just put down that camera/And come on and join up/The last of the family reserve." And in Since The Last Time, which begins with the line, "I went to a funeral/Lord, it made me happy...." Starting off as tentative blues/folk, it explodes in a gospel celebration, defiantly spitting in the face of death, before plaintively revealing the surprising narrator. With these two brilliant tunes, both from the superb Joshua Judges Ruth, he'll set you up, knock you down, then pop you right back up again.

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His latest release, It's Not Big It's Large shows Lyle's still got it, with a handful of gems, some of which are already among my favorite all-time Lovett songs. Make It Happy is a jaunty happy-go-lucky tune, seemingly merging three or four musical genres in one song, an irresistible concoction. A classic country ditty, Up In Indiana features great harmonies, solos and a touch of bluegrass. All Downhill is a bouncy Texas shuffle, wherein Lyle wonders how soon his luck will run out. Given the high quality of his overall output and latest material, I'd say not any time soon.