Friday, May 29, 2009

UPDATES, SNEAK PEEKS, AND A STUDIO TOUR TO BOOT!

Lots to share this time around, kids, so let's have at it….

DEAD DUCK:
Hey, have I mentioned that I have a graphic novel called DEAD DUCK coming from Ape Entertainment in November, and that I currently have an online Dead Duck comic featured on Apecmx.com that you can view right now? I didn't? Huh. Well my apologies. Check it out HERE, and again, so sorry I didn't clear this all up earlier.

COMMISSIONS:

My classic cartoon commission drive has been going great guns and you can view the most recent offerings HERE. If anyone's interested in getting in on this or commissioning me for any other theme or purpose, you can always reach me at fourpanelhero@hotmail.com or send me a note on Deviantart.

CARICATURING GIGS:

I've got 'em coming out of the walls like goblins in Sarah's bedroom (that's a "Labyrinth" reference for you fellow Jim Henson fans). I've got two alone this Sunday, one in Midland at a picnic at Blessed Sacrament Church in the afternoon. Then later that night I have another at Saginaw Valley where I'll draw caricatures all night (10 pm-3 am) for Flushing High's post-grad party. It's my second year doing the church gig and probably my 13th year doing the SVSU gig. Guess I'm doing something right to be getting repeat business.
Though it's a little after the fact, here's a photo from a caricaturing gig I did a month or so back for Eastern Michigan University's theater department at their Notscars awards.

This is just a sampling of the pile of pics I drew that night. Thanks to my wife Laura for getting me this gig and to Austin Tracy for taking this pic.

ARCHIE CARDS:

Evidently my Archie cards went over big with my contact. He immediately commissioned me for 24 more, which I exuberantly agreed to create (though the deadline was really baring down on me at this point). But in between Tuesday afternoon and Thursday afternoon I managed to get them all drawn, colored and in the mail. If you're interested, they should be on sale in a few months, and proceeds from their sale go to The March of Dimes. So be on the lookout for them, and I'll be posting some of them here once they've all been released.

LITTLE GREEN MEN:

I wasn't aware this would happen yet, but evidently the comic I've been writing and drawing for my publisher is now available to read online, which you can do HERE. And as promised last time, I'm ready to show you the cover to the comic that I recently drew. I'd also mentioned that I paid tribute to one of my loyal followers within the artwork, and I can now reveal that person, too (click on image to make bigger):

If you missed it, there's a poster on the back wall that says "Vote for Lexie Cottrell for prom queen!" Lexie is my cousin, and while I've yet to fulfill my promise to create a comic about her called "Spoiled Brat Comics", hopefully this small shout-out will make her smile. It did for me!

And finally, THE STUDIO TOUR!!!

As of last weekend I completed the decorating of my studio, my four-walled mistress that my beautiful wife Laura has to share me with. The atmosphere in here is a perfect mix of eclectic pop culture and childhood abandon, and has fueled my creativity like no studio I've had before. So, let's begin our tour and see what it is I'm gushing about…..

This is the east wall of my studio. Above the door you'll see my Nightmare Before Christmas dolls and porcelain wall hanging, which cover my Tim Burton fandom quite nicely. Below it is a fairly recent poster of the 1983 film "The Dark Crystal." And below that, one of my comedy heroes, John Belushi as seen in "Animal House". Two the left of that is (top) a poster I swiped from Delta College back in the day. It was an ad for The Art Institute of Chicago and shows mugshots of Popeye, Olive Oyl and Fred Flintstone. Below it is a James Dean Poster and below that is a poster featuring buxom characters from comic creator Jim Lee's Wildstorm line of comics.

Moving left along the east wall, you can see my circa 1983 collection of Fraggle dolls. This is the first time I've been able to display them in at least ten years, and they really add to the d├ęcor, in my opinion. And to the left of them, is my little shrine to Jason Voorhees, my favorite movie monster and the best Halloween costume I ever donned. That's a mirrored closet below, showing me taking the pic, plus blowing a bit of the surprise of what lies on the west wall.

Here's the nerve center of it all, my drawing board. Above it are various framed and signed certificates and caricatures that I drew of various celebs from Star Wars films and the cartooning world. To the right of all that is a vintage Labyrinth poster and an Alex Ross Fantastic Four poster.

Here's a close up of three of my most important celeb autographs. Laura had me draw Muppet performers Jerry Nelson (with Floyd Pepper), Bill Barretta (with Pepe the prawn) and Dave Goelz (with Gonzo), then got them autographed for me. Best gift ever, I say. I made the frames myself in Muppety fashion.

Here's a bird's eye view of my drawing board, showing one of my current projects…

And here's a close-up. This is a commission for a fella who wanted me to draw the old Hanna Barbera character Jana of the Jungle dancing with the Marvel Comics character Tigra.

Second only to my drawing board is my computer station, equipped with a scanner, printer, telephone and digital camera. Honest to god, without this collection of technical junk, my career would be lost in the woods without a map. You can see my various creative influences in all the posters surrounding the station, and that giant Jessica Alba poster (an influence of a naughtier sort) to the left is from Sin City, a gift from my cousin Todd.

On the west wall we have some more posters (if you look carefully you can see some of cartoonist Evan Shaner's artwork on the lower wall) and my portable air conditioner. To the left of that is a circa 1989 poster of Iron Man drawn by French cartoonist Moebius. Above that is a Frank Frazetta print and above that is my hero, Jim Henson surrounded by his characters. At the very top of the wall is a special possession indeed…

I'd like to say I stole this off a Sith lord that I defeated in battle, but in truth it's yet another wonderful gift from my beloved wife Laura. Does she know me or what?

On the south wall is my library, filled with old and new books of fairy tales, folklore, graphic novels, biographies, reference material, comic strip collections, and all sorts of fun stuff that you’d imagine I'd read.

Atop that is the puppet shelf, where I display the best of my collection (quite a few are still in storage). Those are the puppets I designed and have professionally built of Laura and myself. That's a vintage 1978 Rowlf from my childhood, a "Where The Wild Things Are" beast, a blue fuzzy monster I found in the Swan Valley High School drama class prop closet years ago, Zip the snail (who I named myself) and Chum the seal (who I also named myself).

Here's my toy shelf, which is only partially complete. I still have years worth of old Star Wars toys boxed away in my grandma's attic…..

Top shelf: The Pillsbury Doughboy (a gift from my old boss Shelly), a vintage 1980 Kermit doll (a gift from Laura--still in its original box!), my Hellboy doll, Gumby and Pokey, Jabba the Hutt (another Shelly gift), and a Big Boy bank.

Second shelf: My vintage 1986 Firey doll from the movie Labyrinth, Popeye (a gift from my mom from years ago), Eugene the Jeep (Popeye's little magical sidekick) and Popeye's best friend Wimpy. Next to Wimpy is a very old Popeye Big Little book that I got from my friend Jeanne Schultz years ago. It's from the late 30's I think, too beat up to be valuable but a sentimental treasure for sure. In front of all that are some little clay statues that Laura and I sculpted and painted when we still lived in Midland.

Third shelf:
Collectible glasses from the comic strip BC (a gift from Jeanne again), some Muppet Star Wars toys and a Donald Duck Darth Maul courtesy of my friend Pat Dooley, an Edward Scissorhands figure, and a couple Madballs (a toy from my childhood that was recently brought back). I had three but one of them broke and all his ooze squirted out. And wouldn't it have to be my favorite. Sigh….

And rounding out our tour are a few more posters (left to right, up and down): Kramer from Seinfeld, the 1990 movie The Commitments, Nightmare Before Christmas and the movie Serenity. As you can tell, my likes and inspirations are mixed and eclectic, just the way I am. I'm so comforted by this room. My studio is my sanctuary and is a physical reflection of all that's within me.

Well, thanks for sticking around for all this hoo hah. Be here next time for more news, sneak peeks and unabashed craziness!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I WAS HUGGED BY DEATH AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE!!!

Actually, my wife was too. By god, we're resilient people! Intrigued? Read below to find out what the heck I'm talking about!

MOTOR CITY COMIC CON:

I think this year's con wins for the most fun I've EVER had there. It was Laura's birthday weekend, and I'm very fortunate that my wife happens to love comics!

We ran into a couple friends from our past; my old CMU art pal Adam Talley (and creator of the comic book "Pleasant Hymns") with his wife Kelly and their new baby Scott, and my old CMU theater shop pal Edna Wolff and her wife Lindsay.

We hung around the multiple artist tables of Jeremy Bastian (creator of "Cursed Pirate Girl"), Katie Cook (artist on loads of Star Wars cards, comics and countless other characters) and David Petersen (creator of "Mouseguard"). David was cool enough to give Laura one of his gorgeous Wizard of Oz prints as a gift, and I plan on returning the favor with a drink and an illustration first chance I get. Katie and Dave are also putting me in contact with a guy who creates banners for cartoonists to display at conventions, and theirs are just awesome. So I'm hoping to have my own on display in Chicago this August at Wizard World!

But the number one reason I attended the con this year was to meet my friend and hero, Doug Jones. If you don't recall who he is (and after reading this blog, you have no excuse not to), Doug is the brilliant actor behind so many makeup and non-makeup-enhanced characters. Probably best known as Abe Sapien in the "Hellboy" films and as Faun and Pale Man in "Pan's Labyrinth", Doug was undoubtedly the biggest star to attend the Motor City con (Yeah, take THAT, Carrie Fisher!). Leastwise, he was the guy I most wanted to meet, since he wrote such a beautiful foreword for my forthcoming Dead Duck graphic novel. I was very nervous, but meeting such a warm, wonderful guy just put me totally at ease right away.

Here is me, Doug, Doug's tour manager (I apologize for forgetting his name) and fellow actor John Alexander (in the leather jacket) who played Johann Krauss in "Hellboy II"…


Here's Doug looking at a Dead Duck print I gave him as thanks for writing his foreword…


Here's a closeup of the image…


Discussing Doug's fascinating career….


And the previously mentioned hug from Death (Doug played the angel of Death in "Hellboy II", y'see)! Seriously, I love Ron Perlman, but looking at us here, couldn't I have played Hellboy to Doug's Abe Sapien? Maybe in the third film.


And here's Laura with us. When Doug saw her vintage 50's dress, right away he said, "Oh, she looks just like Laura Petrie (Mary Tyler Moore's character on the old "Dick Van Dyke Show"). Laura countered with, "Actually, that's who I was named after!" True story, folks!


So Doug Jones has won my heart all over again. Just a wonderful, friendly person, and someone I'm proud to call a friend as well as a hero.

Laura also took a quick snapshot of Julie Newmar, who she feels was the best Catwoman ever on film (from the old "Batman" TV series) I still contend that Eartha Kitt was the best, with that awesome growl. We miss you, Eartha.



ARCHIE CARDS:


I completed my Archie sketch cards last week and sent them out to my contact, Steve Frank. I promised I wouldn't show any of the cards without his permission, because understandably, I don't want to ruin the surprise for the people who buy the packs. But I just got an e-mail from Steve this morning who said he received the cards and really loved what I did with them. So much so in fact that he's allowing me to share one of the cards with my fans. So thanks to the kindness of Steve, I'm sharing one of my favorites right here with you guys!



LITTLE GREEN MEN:


I just sent in my cover for Little Green Men, and it got a very positive reception from my editors. I haven't been given permission to show any of the art from the book yet, but if I get the okay, I'd like to show you guys the cover. I'm very happy with how it turned out, and one of you people in my loooonnnng mailing list of friends and fans has been given a little tribute on it! All I'll say is, it's not Laura or Doug Jones! So I'll ask my editors if it's okay to show, and hopefully by next week we'll find out who the lucky person is! Be here to find out!

COMMISSIONS:


My current classic cartoon commission drive is going great guns still, and if anyone's interested, send me an e-mail (fourpanelhero@hotmail.com)or contact me on Deviantart.com, where I'm posting all my commissions. Rob Grabowski, let me know if you're still interested. Your Hanna Barbera dogs playing poker is a brilliant idea!

ONLINE DEAD DUCK:


Last Friday wrapped up the very first Dead Duck story, "The Soul-Taker's Apprentice." Next Friday begins a three-week long story (which amounts to three pages) called "Burn Baby Burn, Witchy Inferno" or "Everybody's Workin' For The Wiccan!" Make sure to check it out HERE, as it's a stone cold hoot, I tells ya!

That's it for now, kids! More news is a comin', and I hope to be back soon to show you the Little Green Men cover. Be here when it lands!

Much love,

--Jay

Saturday, May 09, 2009

I'M A BUSY BEE. NOW SHOW ME THE HONEY….

I've just read what I typed, and that makes no damn sense. Or very little damn sense, at least. It's meant to illustrate just how busy I've been lately, in the best possible way. We've only been in our new apartment for two weeks and the art gigs have been pouring in, which is exasperatingly great! Here's a run down of what's been up since I last posted:

WE MOVED:

By now you should all know that we traded apartments with the girl down the hall from us, so we now have a spacious two bedroom, which for the first time in over nine months, allows me (gasp!) A STUDIO!!! And man, I've been using it for all it's worth! Our number's the same as before, and our address change in 301, from it's previous 304. Write it down, people. I ain't gonna repeat it.

VISUAL STORYTELLING SHOW AT GALLERY PROJECT:

That was big fun to participate in! To once again be in the company of such great comic book creators and to meet some of them face to face (Katie Cook and David Petersen, you guys are awesome) was a super experience. The opening reception was just packed, and I was fortunate enough to have my family and friends in attendance (much love and appreciation to Laura, Mom, Scott, Grandma, Aunt Karen, Nick, Jon, Tim and Matt for showing up and supporting me). I'm hoping more gallery shows come my way in the future!

LITTLE GREEN MEN:

I'm thirteen pages done with my twenty-page commitment to "Little Green Men", a comic book concept my editors at Ape created, then handed over to me to flesh out, write and illustrate. It's been a blast to do, and as soon as I get permission, I'll share some of the work with you guys.

ARCHIE SKETCH CARDS:

I was recently approached to illustrate a set of officially licensed Archie sketch cards, and I've just begun drawing the first of my twenty-four cards. The proceeds from their sale go towards The March of Dimes, and I'm proud to be contributing. I'm also excited to draw my interpretation of these classic characters that I've read and loved since I was a kid! Several prominent cartoonists are also contributing to these Archie sketch cards, among them my friends Evan Shaner and Katie Cook, and I'm thrilled to be in such great company! Again, when I get the okay, I'll post my artwork for you guys to see.

GREETING CARDS:
I just sent in an invoice to Marian Heath Greeting Cards for two political greeting cards I wrote (one of Obama, one of McCain). This was the first time a company bought just my writing rather than my writing and art, so it's kind of new and exciting for me. I hope this leads to more card work, hopefully with me drawing some, too!

CARICATURING:

I've got caricaturing gigs coming out of the woodwork, and ironically, the bulk of them are dragging me back to my old hometown of Saginaw and the surrounding towns of Midland and Bay City. I just did one yesterday at Weiss Elementary in Saginaw for their STARS Day (a career day-type of event). It was my third year doing it, and I hope to do it for years to come. So for the rest of May into June I'll be going back and forth for these types of gigs, so if anyone from the tri cities wants to meet up for lunch or a beer, gimme a call now. My schedule's only going to get crazier as the dates draw closer. I do have one gig lined up in Ann Arbor on June 7th, which will be at Gallup Park. It's a beautiful place, and I look forward to the experience, not to mention working within five minutes driving distance of my home versus a three hour round trip.

COMMISSIONS:

On Deviantart.com I've recently begun accepting commissions with a classic cartoon theme. I've had some awesome ones come across my drawing board so far, at least three of which being of a 70's Hanna Barbera themed, which is sooo my meat and potatoes! If anyone's interested in commissioning me in this current theme (or for anything you'd like drawn, for that matter), just drop me a note at my Deviantart page or e-mail me at fourpanelhero@hotmail.com.

DEAD DUCK and WIZARDWORLD CHICAGO:

First off, a reminder about the online Dead Duck comic. It's going great guns, and you'd be a sucker to miss out on all the online hilarity. So check it out HERE if you aren't already, and every Friday thereafter.

I've been talking to my editor at Ape about how to go about promoting Dead Duck at Wizardworld Chicago, and it looks like I'll be selling Dead Duck buttons and t-shirts, as well as a special edition four-page Dead Duck comic book that I'll be creating especially for the con! On top of that, I'm hoping to sell prints of my work (some Dead Duck pieces and some pop culture pieces, too) and do sketches. So it sounds like it'll be very cool, and I hope you can be there to experience my first major con appearance with me!

MOTOR CITY COMIC CON:

No, I won't be manning a table there (though I probably will be either in October or May 2010). But I will be walking the floor on Sunday May 17th with my wonderful wife Laura, who'll be celebrating her birthday that weekend (Happy pre-birthday, sweetie!). My main purpose for attending is to meet the great and powerful Doug Jones (no relation to the great and powerful Oz, though he should be) who'll be signing autographs! I want to thank him in person for writing his wonderful foreword for Dead Duck and hopefully take a photo with him (sure I'm his pal, but I'm still a gushing fanboy, too!). Anyway, I hope to see some of you kids there and get you excited for when I bring Dead Duck to the Motor City Comic Con in late '09 or mid '10 at least!

AND OTHER POTENTIALLY BIG NEWS:
Sorry. Too big to share right now, plus it's still in the negotiation stages. But if it happens, well woo dogey, it'll be a real spitfire of news to share, people!

Thanks for checking back with me. Sorry for the multi-week absence in blogging. But rest assured, there's more big news a'coming down the pipeline! Be here to catch it when it happens!

Much love,

--Jay