Monday, February 25, 2008

DUCK HUNTER FLYING HIGH and other news...

I'd like to begin this blog by apologizing to a handful of near and dear people who I fear may feel neglected.
*First, my old buddy Premo, who I hope hasn't given up on me and is patiently awaiting
my run in "Duck Hunter Shoots Angel" to wrap up so we can finally grab lunch together.

*Next up, my not quite as old but certainly as good buddy Hedgcock (notice how all my friends go by last names? It just sounds cooler), who's wanted to hang out for a long time now, and seems to possess steel belted patience.

*Last but by no means least is my soon to be publisher, Ape Entertainment, who await the return of my contract, which my lawyer Slick Nick Pro-Buonodono is currently making sweet legal love to. Once he gets his judicious man stank all over it, I'll drop my John Hancock on it and we'll bring Dead Duck to the masses.

So to all you I've mentioned, your patience has not gone unnoticed, and rest assured that in two weeks when "Duck Hunter" flies off into the horizon, I'll be here to attend to all your friendship and business needs. And speaking of "Duck Hunter…"

Rehearsals have, in my estimation, been going great. I finally feel I have my lines down (which is always my biggest obstacle), and I'm totally in love with the cast. It's a small and motley crew, a couple of whom I've worked with before, a couple I knew by reputation, and a couple more who I've just met but totally dig already. And having Laura in the cast with me is so great for so many reasons, but mostly because theater is her medium like cartooning is mine, and getting to share in that world with her is just such a thrill and a joy.

Besides performing in "Duck Hunter", I've also been assigned the task of creating a lobby display for people to view during the run of the show. Given that "Duck Hunter" largely concerns the seedy world of tabloid journalism, I created mock newspaper pages from "The Weekly World And Globe" ("Duck Hunter's" prominent rag) and wrote up bogus news stories around some of my celebrity caricatures. These pieces grace the Player's lobby walls, and will be available for sale to any interested parties. For those intending to come to the show, I won't ruin the surprise of the display, but I will give a sneak peek to those who can't make it:

In other art news, I'm still working diligently on Dead Duck by creating more stories for the graphic novel. I really feel like this is the signature project that I've been destined to launch my career with since I was a kid, and I'm overjoyed that it's finally going to happen.

My caricaturing career has hit the skids in recent months, with a few starts and stops. I can only assume its our desert climate economy that's dried my business up lately, but just as much, I blame clients who can't commit. I've had more people approach me, all gung ho for me to create something special for them, only to have them bail on me, either by balking at the price or just avoiding sending me a courtesy e-mail saying they've changed their minds about hiring me. On the matter of price, I contest that though I quote a standard price, I always stress that I'm open to discussion and that nothing is set in stone. That's a hint, people. If you don't dig my price tag, don't just give up on me. Talk to me! You shouldn't deny yourself a unique keepsake and me a much needed paycheck for fear of haggling. I'm a nice guy and will make it work for both of us. As for those who ask of me then run and hide, please stop wasting my time. I played this game in the schoolyard when I was ten, and the routine hasn't aged well. Make sure you really want to hire me before you approach me, and even if you change your mind, man up (even if you're a woman) and have the decency to tell me it ain't happening. My good humor is in short supply these days over cowardly and ill-communicated business practices.

So that's it for now. I'd like to send a shoutout to a couple of my comic making comrades: Adam "Zapple" Talley, who's preparing to wrap up his long running comic book epic "Pleasant Hymns" very soon. Best of luck and enjoy the ride to the finish, muh man. And to Evan "Almighty" Shaner, the most under appreciated cartoonist to grace CMLife since, well, me, just know that there are those of us out there who know how hard you work and appreciate your content and efforts more than a pack of unqualified underage news editors could ever hope to understand. You're too good for that rag, and too talented for those who oversee it. To the rest of you, my love and good spirits are being sent out to you always. Laura inspires me to love, my art inspires me to create, and you inspire me to share my imagination. Thank you for being my audience and friends.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

THE CONTRACT COMETH, play news and a memoriam…

Even I was losing faith, just a teeny little bit, but lo and behold, I got an e-mail from Ape Comics telling me my contract was in the mail, and that same day, my mailbox proved Ape to not be a liar. Along with the contract, the good folks at Ape were kind enough to send me some of their comics and graphic novels as reference towards what Dead Duck will look like in printed form. And let me tell you, Ape does NOT put out a shoddy product. These were some of the glossiest, tightest books I'd ever held in my hands. So you can imagine how cool my Dead Duck graphic novel will be. All I'm waiting for now is my layer, Nick "Pro Bono" Duono (or Boner Donut, which is by far more hilarious) to call or e-mail me with a time that he can view the contract and make sure it's all good to sign. On my end, Dead Duck is still rolling along with my latest story being produced as we speak. I'm not hitting it quite as hard as I would normally, due to my involvement in the play I'd mentioned last time, but in under a month, the show will have wrapped, and it'll be full steam ahead on my comic.

And speaking of the play, here's the info you guys will need if you want to come see it. It's called "Duck Hunter Shoots Angel," written by Mitch Albom and starring, among others, myself as one of the two duck hunters, and my wife Laura, as the lost love of one of the other characters. Showtimes are:

March 7th&8th--8:00 pm
March 9th--3:00 pm
March 13th, 14th, 15th--8:00 pm
March 16th--3:00 pm
The box office opens March 3rd, and you can order tickets by calling The Bay City Players at (989) 893-5555 between 12-2pm and 7-9pm.

So mark it down, people. Much as I want to see as many of my pals in the audience, I don't want to have to commit this info to memory and repeat it ad nauseam a bazillion times. So no excuses, folks. All you need to know is here!

Lastly, a very influential personality in the world of comic books has left us, and I wanted to make mention of it here. Steve Gerber, probably the one guy most responsible for my ever having created Dead Duck, succumbed to a long battle with pulmonary fibrosis last week. He was the creator and writer of (among countless other popular comics for various publishers), the comic book "Howard The Duck" for Marvel in the 1970's, which was one of my most favorite books as a kid. It put me on a path of cartoon duck worship, and, as I've mentioned, led me to create my own cartoon duck. So in tribute, I created this cartoon. It's not much, but it's the best little candle I could light in his memory.

So that's it for now. More news as it comes.


Friday, February 01, 2008

Hey, I'm posting a new blog in under a month (but just barely)…!

Let's just hit the ground running, kids. Y'know that play I mentioned last time? The one called "Duck Hunter Shoots Angel" written by Mitch Albom and being put on at The Bay City Players? Well thankfully, I got in the show and got the part I wanted! I'm pretty excited, since I haven't been in a show in just over a year, and even then it was just some small "filler" roles that were purely walk on/walk off, plus some barking dog sound effects from off stage (Don't get me wrong; I LOVED doing all that). But it's been even longer since I've played an extensive role in a show, and the role I'm playing in "Duck Hunter", loveable misfit hick hunter Duell Early, is very crucial to the whole play. So right now I'm studying my lines and preparing for a month long rehearsal. I'm nervous but very excited, and I'll let you guys know the performance dates when we get closer to curtain.

In other duck news, I've just completed my latest Dead Duck script, my longest one to date. Nineteen pages of pure 80's pop culture nostalgia, as filtered through my satirical and oft-times scatological sense of humor (though come to think of it, this may be my first script with no fart jokes in it! Heaven forbid!). Beyond that, all I'll say is that Dead Duck and Zombie Chick encounter loose parodies of some famous 80's toy icons and the death of their comrade. I think it's a really solid piece, and a landmark for its length alone.

I've also completed another Dead Duck script that I haven't begun illustrating yet. This one's a story that I'm slapping on the beginning of the impending graphic novel before any of the other stories I've already created, its intent being to introduce the comic's theme, setting, characters and all pertinent info. But at the same time, this isn't just a meet and greet; it’s a story like any other, and in my opinion, it's one of my best. I actually dug through my library of old sketchbooks and found an old dusty volume from 1992 that featured my first-ever complete Dead Duck story, drawn when I was a junior in high school. The story is based on a story from Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" which I studied in high school. So using that old story became the basis for this new intro story. Using it just felt right, and made me see that all the components for my current Dead Duck comic have always been there, and I was surprised as to how little changes actually had to be made. So I'm hoping to begin illustrating that soon, but it may be put off until I learn my lines for "Duck Hunter." That'll require a buttload of concentration.

I've been in contract with David Hedgcock of Ape Comics, and he assures me that the contract is written and will be sent to me soon. He tells me we're looking at a March 2009 release date for the book, which means I have to have the whole thing packaged by October of '09. I feel confident that I can do this, and I look forward to all the cool promotional stuff I'll be doing in the meantime:

*I'm dusting off Web/funk/Jedi/Tetris and Hogwarts Headmaster Jeremy "What the Foc you lookin' at?!" Foco to build a brand new Dead Duck section for my website (more news to come!).

*I'm going to be producing an online Dead Duck comic strip that will be featured on Ape Comics' website, as well as a quarterly full page Dead Duck comic for one of Ape Comics' magazines.

*Ape Comics will have an online store for Dead Duck merch that will require me creating a bunch of cool art for that.

And LOADS more to come!

In related news, there's going to be an aesthetic change to my website very soon. If you've been following my website for the past four years, you'll recall that on the main page there's my "" logo, and just beneath it, a cartoon of myself at the drawing board with my old character The Krazybread Man popping out at me. Well, given the recent popularity of Dead Duck and Zombie Chick, I'm retiring Krazy and bringing DD & ZC onto the board with a whole new graphic and logo. I'll always love Krazy and his old comic strip "Mother's Goofs," and who knows, he may come back in a big way someday. But Dead Duck predates him by a decade, and it's the duck's time to shine now. So I'll let you know when the change to the site occurs.

On the "Other than Dead Duck" branch of my artistic career, I've had my hands full creating artwork for a couple of fun clients. The first I have to show, however, wasn't for a client, but for my birth mom Penny's birthday. She works in a hair salon, so using that as inspiration and choosing to include her two co-workers in the gag, I created the card below:

This card was a lot of fun to make, and she gave the best reaction I could hope for: "Jay, you are so COOL!" Believe me, I didn't hear that a lot growing up. Still don't. So hearing it from her was a landmark event for me.

Next up, I was commissioned by Jim Lent, the guy who screen prints the t-shirts I design for the township and who also coaches JV girls basketball at Hemlock High, to draw his team's picture. The only instructions were to make the caricatures "bobble head-style," which basically means tiny body, oversized noggin. So I drew one generic body, scanned it into my computer, then drew individual heads and plopped them on. It was a pretty simple process, and I was happy with the end results:

Not long after, I'd heard of actor Heath Ledger's death. I've always enjoyed his work, and his 2001 movie "A Knight's Tale" has a special place in my heart. So in tribute, I drew him and the cast of that movie, just because.

Once I was done with that, I got a call from a client of my birth mom's who was looking for a caricature of a retiring co-worker. He sent me a photo, told me he was retiring from The Flint Journal and that he liked to fish. The end result was simple but, I think, effective.

And immediately after that, my friend Jason Pintar asked me to draw some promotional art for his band, "Across The Aisle". Using photos from their Myspace page, I threw together the following piece.

It was met with positive responses, though there was concern that I'd drawn the lead singer's breasts too big. I guess after drawing Zombie Chick and other voluptuous cartoon women for so long, it just kind of spilled over into this commission. I will say, however, that I ran the drawing past Laura and she thought it was in good taste, even complimentary. Regardless, after a hasty Photoshop boob job, I sent them the following re-do:

The most current project I'm working on now is for my friends Evan (also a hell of a cartoonist) and Carla (a hell of a sweet person). They're getting married in June and have hired me to draw artwork to decorate the tables at their reception. They requested I draw various versions of them in equally various themes, and the list was a cartoonist's dream challenge. I managed to complete all nine illustrations in a day and am a bit less than half way done coloring them. I'd show what I've finished here, but I feel it inappropriate to do so before the couple have even had the chance to take a peek. Still, I feel confident that they'll like them. I'm pretty please with how they're turning out.

So that's it for now. As always, sorry for the delay in posting a new blog. But when there's no news, there's not much to say. Luckily, it seems there's all kinds of good news on the horizon, and I look forward to sharing it with you guys. 'Til then, take care, and keep dreaming.