Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Happy Halloween to all my friends, fans and followers! To me, there is  no more glorious a holiday than All Hallows Eve, an annual celebration that revels in costumes, creepiness and candy! I have a handful of treats with no tricks in sight for this week's blog post, so put on your best mask and open that candy bag wide, 'cause here comes the goods...!

My apologies for last week's promise of my Live Sketch Show, followed by a last minute cancellation. I hope to make up for it with this week's show, where I'll be drawing the cover to "Bodie Troll" #1. This week, the show will start at 7 pm eastern time and run until 8, allowing me to catch ABC's annual airing of my all-time favorite special, "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" You can catch my broadcast at the link above. And if you'd like to chat with me during my show, you can reach me via Ustream's chat window. You need to log in to Ustream to use the window, but registering is easy. It only takes a username and an email address. Once you've entered that info, you can chat with me while I draw. I hope to see some of you online!

In other "Bodie Troll" news, I've been lining up some really fantastic artists to draw pin-ups (single page illustrations) as special features in the "Bodie" comic! I don't want to spoil the surprise just yet, but I'll tell you that there'll be some very recognizable artists in the roster, and some artists who you may be discovering for the first time, and man, will you be excited that you did!

This past weekend, I participated in the 3rd annual Detroit Fanfare Comic Con held at The Hyatt Regency in Dearborn, MI, and had a terrific time! I had my usual table there, and sat next to two of my favorite "Bill's"--sketch card artist Bill Pulkovski and Bill Morrison, art director for "The Simpsons" and "Futurama" and former creative director at Bongo Comics. My wife Laura is a HUGE Simpson's fan, so she and Bill had a lot to talk about. Bill and I are both National Cartoonists Society members and know a lot of the same artists, plus we're both HUGE Popeye fans, so we had our share to jaw about, too! Here's a pic of us on the last day of the con:

Now, besides working my table, Laura and I also dressed up in our Halloween costumes--myself as Max from "Where The Wild Things Are", and Laura as a very cute Wild Thing. Laura sewed my costume herself, and it's the best costume I think I've ever had for Halloween! Here's some pics of our get-ups:

But one of the most special moments from the con came when a fan of my comics showed up in costume...
This is Ricky dressed up as DEAD DUCK! Never before have I had someone cosplay one of my characters! It was the biggest honor, and Ricky did just a phenomenal job with the costume! He even got J.P. Yorick's scythe with the car keys dangling off 'em! Seriously, do I have the best fans or what?

Finally, a special treat in honor of Halloween. I've been creating "Necronomicomics", my monthly single panel cartoon for Rue Morgue Magazine, for over a year now, and enjoying myself immensely. Below are two of my recent cartoons. The first one ran in this year's Halloween issue:
As I mentioned at the top of this post, I'm a HUGE "Great Pumpkin" fan. I even went the extra mile on this cartoon, opting to paint the sky in this cartoon by hand using watercolors, in a close approximation to those gorgeous backgrounds you saw in the original Peanuts specials. For those who don't recognize the monster I drew in there, it's the creature from the 1988 horror film, "Pumpkinhead". Pumpkinhead, Great Pumpkin. Get it?

The other treat I have for you is a look at one of my only rejected Necronomicomics cartoons. In it, I lampoon one of my favorite horror movies, the 1999 Tim Burton flick "Sleepy Hollow":
In case you're wondering, the cartoon wasn't rejected because of the dirty joke. The editor worried that the joke was too obscure, and readers might not get it. How about you guys (and won't you be the dirty minded lot if you admit to getting it!)?

That's it for now. Hope to see you guys online tonight. Take care, and the happiest, hauntedest of all Halloweens to you, my fiendish friends!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Into the interior...

"Bodie Troll" is barreling towards completion, folks. I just finished the interior artwork for issue #1, which is a big chunk of the work on this book. Of course, I still need to design the cover, begin coloring the pages, and complete all the other odds and ends that putting out a book entails. But this is my kinda busy, my kinda stressed, and it'll produce something really special when it all comes together. Here is a brief peek at a panel from issue #1.

Those of you who caught my Live Sketch Show last week got to see me work on a page from "Bodie Troll". I'll be doing something similar on this week's show, probably working on the aforementioned cover. This week, the show will start at 7 pm eastern time and run until 8, an hour earlier than last week, so make a note of it if you want to catch it live. You can find it at the link above. And if you'd like to chat with me during the show, you can reach me via Ustream's chat window. You need to log in to Ustream to use the window, but registering is easy. It only takes a username and an email address. Once you've entered that info, you can chat with me while I draw. I hope to see some of you online!

I'll be at The Detroit Fanfare Comic Con this Friday through Sunday, with a brand new "Bodie Troll" banner bedecking my table. I'll have books to sell from my various publications (no "Bodie Troll", however), I'll be taking commissions, selling prints, and original artwork. I'll even have some Bodie fliers to hand out, and Halloween candy for any kids who come by the table on Sunday. Hope to see you there!

That about does it for this week. Hope to see some of you during my show tonight, and hope to see some of you at Fanfare, too!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Good things come in threes

I have three cool updates to share with you this week. First, my website has gotten a facelift, courtesy of my pal, fellow artist and digital plastic surgeon, Nate Pride. Nate designed my website over a year ago, and now that "Bodie Troll" has taken prominence in my work, I wanted my website to be more "Bodie-centric". Along with my newly revamped blog, the "Bodification" of my web presence is now complete! Please take some time to view my updated website here, and be sure to check out the updates done to the site's gallery, projects, and about sections. And be sure to visit Nate Pride's website to see some amazing and beautiful artwork. Nate will be appearing at the Detroit Fanfare Comic Con (as will I) on Oct. 26-28th, and he'll have a new print of his work to sell, which you can preview here.

The second update was mentioned here last week, but it bears repeating. I'm returning to my online Live Sketch Show tonight, which you can visit here. I'll be broadcasting from 8 to 9 pm eastern time, and I'll either be working on a new "Bodie Troll" page or my latest installment of "Necronomicomics". here's how to contact me during the show via Ustream's chat window. You need to log in to Ustream to use the window, but registering is easy. It only takes a username and an email address. Once you've entered that info, you can chat with me while I draw. I hope to see some of you online!

Lastly, I hope you're continuing to follow my Dead Duck web comic. The current storyline is "The Dogma of Dead Duck", which is easily the darkest and most dramatic story I've told with that character. Check it out for a whole new perspective on the world of Dead Duck!

Thanks for listening!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Guess what's returning next week...?

After a nine month hiatus, my Live Sketch Show will be returning online! Whereas in the past I had themes and took suggestions from my viewers on what to draw, this time I'll be focusing on my current workload--be it drawing sketch cards for Rittenhouse Archives, "Necronomicomics" for Rue Morgue Magazine, or my newest endeavor, "Bodie Troll", for Red 5 Comics. You'll get to see me pencil, ink, draw thumbnails, and probably procrastinate due to artist's block and the occasional brain fart. So on Wednesday, October 17 at 8:00 pm, just click on the link above to catch all the sketchy goodness!

 As a long overdue reminder, here's how to contact me during the show via Ustream's chat window. You need to log in to Ustream to use the window, but registering is easy. It only takes a username and an email address. Once you've entered that info, you can chat with me while I draw. I hope to see my old viewers listed in the chat window, and as many new viewers as possible!

Now that the good news is out of the way, please stand by for an unrelated and considerably more cantankerous editorial...
Sure, I've got my political beliefs, and I know with whom my vote will be going this November. But everyone and their grandmother has their panties in a bunch over this coming election, so they can survive without my dander being raised on that particular subject. No, my furor is being rankled over something much more personal and dear to my heart than politics. Y'see, Hollywood is once again dicking around with my childhood. And this time, they've crossed the line.

Blue Sky Studios, the digital animation house responsible for the "Ice Age", "Robots" and "Horton Hears A Who", will be releasing a full length, digitally animated feature film based on Charles Schulz's immortal comic strip, "Peanuts" in 2015.

CG animation is, by nature, a pristine and glossy format that removes all elements of human effort and organic craftsmanship from the finished product. "Peanuts", in both its comic strip and TV special forms, is the polar opposite of that definition. On the printed page, Schulz showed every little scratchy detail, blotch of ink, and wobbly line that came out of his pen and brush tip. Similarly, Bill Melendez, director of almost every animated "Peanuts" special and film from 1965 to 2006, showed off his own brilliant pen and brush work, as well as some of the most lush and lively painted backgrounds ever filmed for a cartoon. Both creators had an organic root to their work. And for any animation studio to attempt a cold, glassy CG reimagining of these beloved characters is an assault to both men's artistry, and the nature of the "Peanuts" characters and their world.

Now, the argument can be made that much of the animation done for more recent "Peanuts" specials and TV commercials has been done digitally. These offerings have been produced in the flash animation format, or whatever the more high-grade equivalent is today. To that, I would first point out that Schulz and Melendez are no longer around to dictate the format. Secondly, at least this form of digital animation attempts, on some level, to create a recognizable facsimile to the Schulz/Melendez style. I have every reason to believe that Blue Sky isn't trying to achieve that style in the slightest. Based on the work they're most known for, we can count on their "Peanuts" movie to be a visually cold, shiny, plasticated, inorganic attempt at the Charlie Brown gang, in their typical Pixar/Dreamworks amalgamated style. Schulz himself could pull a Lazarus and rise from the great beyond to write the script himself, and no amount of "good griefs", grade school scripture or imagined WWI dogfights could save the film in my eyes. It's the visuals that will make or break it. And putting the joyfully controlled chaos of line that is "Peanuts" into the anal retentive hands of computer programmers posing as cartoonists will absolutely break it in my view.
I doubt many of you stuck around to read my head of steam put into sentences, but I thank those of you who heard me out. Be sure to watch my show next Wednesday, where my visuals will speak for themselves, hopefully more eloquently and more condensed than I managed here.


Wednesday, October 03, 2012


The change has been made, and the change is good! Formerly known as "The Duck Factory", my blog has been rebooted with a new banner and a new title. As my work is typically identified as being either cute, creepy, or a good mix of both, it seemed a fitting title for my weekly news feed. I'm actually thrilled with how this turned out, and it was much easier to pull off than I expected. I have a real appreciation and loyalty to for creating free web space that's so conveniently tailored to the individual user.

 From these following photos, you can see that I've dabbled in photo/cartoon fusion before, which I refer to as my "Roger Rabbit Process" (click to enlarge)...

 "Street Fight" (2004)
 "Dead Duck" promo. Sarah "Sid" Sydlowski, model. (July 2009)

 "Homecoming" art for release of "Dead Duck" (November, 2009)

"Bakshi Alley". Nick Bonoduono, model. (December, 2011)

My new blog banner is my most recent attempt at this method, and I feel it shows my growth within the process (adding airbrushed shadows and using the blur tool to smooth down cut edges are some new advances for me). But this past weekend, I really went nuts with my process, and brought Bodie Troll into a whole new dimension.

To the right is my character Gossamer, a world-class spoiled brat and upcoming character from "Bodie Troll". To the left is Kimmy Hay, a University of Michigan student and actress. I met Kimmy through my wife, Laura, when they performed together in a recent production of the musical, "Anything Goes". I was immediately struck by how much Kimmy looked like Gossamer, and asked her if she'd want to portray the character. Despite my ham-handed attempt to verbalize a totally visual process, Kimmy agreed. The finished product turned out fantastic, and you can see the results below.

I'll be using these pieces to promote "Bodie Troll" in the coming year. And you can count on seeing more of these with other actors if things keep falling into place!

Here's another sneak peek of the development of the "Bodie Troll" comic book...
Above are the rough pencils for a panel in issue #1, showing Bodie meeting Hunkwood the blacksmith. Below are the finished inks and letters. You may notice more detail in "Bodie" than in my previous works. I feel like I'm trying to live up to great fantasy illustrators like Brian Froud, one of my heroes, and whom I met over a year ago, alongside his equally talented wife, doll maker Wendy Froud.  

Please keep in mind that, just because this blog's title and focus have changed, Dead Duck is still and well. The web comic is going great guns right now, and has seen some of its strongest readership ever. Check it out for yourself here (with new posts every Monday and Thursday) and see what sort of weird fun you've been missing!

Oh, lastly, this Sunday is my birthday. While I'm not necessarily thrilled about getting older, I am thrilled that I'm making it to another year at 30 pounds lighter than this time last year, the healthiest I've EVER been, and with some great new creations on my drawing board, rarin' to come at you in 2013. It's a fresh start in so many ways, and I couldn't be happier. Hope to have you guys following my progress in the coming year! See you next week!