Friday, March 30, 2007

Fire and watercolors...

Had lunch outside today on DCP's Commisary patio with John Quinn, Jennifer Long and Eric Hutchison. While we were eating, the hills of Hollywood were burning in the distance.
Another thing burning itself into existence, was one of John Quinn's latest watercolor sketches.
John's got a great rendering technique that doesn't look labored, and he inspired me to make a quick watercolor cartoon that didn't look like gouache and didn't have that over-worked magic marker look to it.
Thanks for the inspiration, John.

I've also been inspired by a new book I just recieved: "Halas & Batchelor Cartoons" by Vivien Halas and Paul Wells. I'm still skimming through it and looking at the visuals, but I hope to start reading it in a day or two. I've been curious about this studio since seeing stills of Animal Farm in the early '70s.

I'm glad the weekend's here!

It's been a rough couple of work weeks at Disney.

We're all mad here!

No Kiddin'.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"Plan 14 Carat from Outer Space"

Here's some nonsense created in June '95 while at Warner Brothers. Never had any ideas of pitching it, just having a little fun. I love Tim Burton's "Ed Wood" film, and had just finished reading "Nightmare of Ecstasy", the Wood bio.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

An experiment...

We've been asked to create three images to be used as "tiles" that will be mounted to a wall at work, as part of our Mission Statement. I decided to try my hand at watercolor. I've only done a few pieces in the past, but these were fun to cobble together.
This is the first two of the tiles, the top image represents the search for an idea. The bottom visual is the "eureka" moment, and the last one (still in progress) will represent the relief that comes from completing an assignment.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Princess Comics" Update-updated again!--And again!!

A few posts back ("Never made it to the Ball...") I was wondering if this Princess Design Program that I created and produced was ever used. I didn't think it was, and some of you were disappointed that Disney passed on it. Well it pleases me greatly to announce that this art WAS published on product in the UK and Japan, and I couldn't be happier.
It was used on Stationery, and the program was named... "Girl Talk".
Isn't that cute?

Update- 4/3: The products made in Japan were produced by, get this: Sony Creative Products.Do you believe that? Maybe I should be working for them?! I don't know what type of deal was made to make this happen, or whether I should be proud of bringing these two giant corporations together, or feel insulted that my own company pimped out my idea.
The art on the pieces of stationery look the same as I intended, but there is a lot of extraneous copy on all of them. Shit like: "Series 4", and such. I guess they were issued as a collectible set or some other hokey plan that Japanese marketers are famous for. But at least they were used, even if they were released like a bubble gum card series.

Update-3/26: It turns out that the U.K. did NOT create product with this design program, and I couldn't be happier. You see, they wanted to use my original rough concept sketches instead of the final art, and I wasn't too keen on that idea. It was always my intention to make the art look like comic strips, dot-patterns and all. It can really be frustrating at times, working as a creative person in a corporate setting with committees second guessing your work at every turn.
I have seen the line of products produced in Japan, and they look great. I should be getting samples soon, and when I do I'll post them.
This visual of "Tink" is from an earlier Black & White version of the concept, with my inks and hand-lettering. I'll post the final, closer-to-model color version some time next week.
Tink was the only one that was left out of the mix, since she's a "fairy" and not a Princess.

A big thanks to my team member, Eric "Sherlock" Hutchison, who discovered the product samples in our I.T. department - taped up on a fellow employee's cubicle wall!

I'm so glad that this adventure finally has a Fairy Tale ending.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Id of the Sailor man...

There's more to Id than meets the popped eye.

I've been watching the old Fleischer Popeye's lately, and while I still love the animation- the inevitable ass-whipping Popeye lays on Bluto gets a little tiring after a few cartoons. The Elzie Segar comic strips, however take the Salty Sea Dog on great extended adventures with lots of dimension.
The good people at Fantagraphics Books have recently released the first volume of Popeye, an oversize book collecting the early adventures in B&W Daily and Color Sunday strip form. I highly recommend it for the cartoonist and cartoon fan, especially if your only exposure to Popeye & Co. have been the Fleischer & Paramount cartoons. ( If, heaven forbid, the only Popeye cartoons you've ever known of are DiC's "Popeye & Son"- go out to the bookstore now, even if you have to sleep in the doorway until they open up in the morning, and buy this book!) These strips have a completely different scope to them, lots of adventure. And they're funny. Laugh-out-loud funny.

The always-amazing Oscar Grillo has been posting some very imaginative re-mixes of "Popeye" and his pals, so lately the ol' sailor has been dancing around in my head. Thanks for the inspiration, Mr. Grillo!

I'll use any excuse I can get to take out the Higgins Ink and Windsor & Newton series 7.

After all... I yam what I yam.

Now go to: ... and get inspired too.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Out of my head -- out of this World...

I love doing concept sketches for ideas I'll never pitch. I also love Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet. This little guy is based on him. The monster chasing him is inspired from reading too many EC comics.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


When I look at my old sketchbooks I'm always amazed that I had the balls to keep going. Who would accept this type of crap? Surely not any art buyer or editor with taste. But somehow, for some reason, I soldiered on. Maybe it was sheer force of will. I surely wasn't prepared for any type of art career in my schooling or background. I came from a neighborhood of Longshoremen, Sanitation Workers and Shoemakers. Who in their right mind would let this little greaseball into the art world?

As it turns out; my first boss in the advertising field was a third generation Italian-American like I was, who probably saw a bit of himself in me when I interviewed for a "Paste-Up Artist" position at Gem Studio. He took a chance on hiring me, and ultimatelly I wound up being the first on-staff Illustrator in the studios history,for that I will always be grateful, and willing to bet on any creative person who has a burning desire to work in the creative arts.

I encourage anyone who may not be "there yet" to keep at it, because you never know... maybe someone will take a chance and hire you. Then, years later, you can look at your old crappy drawings and smile.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Princess comics-- behind the scenes...

The Princess program was based on '50's romance comic strips like "The Heart of Juliet Jones", "Mary Perkins" and the graphic beauty of Ken Bald's "Dr. Kildare".

I've known Ken since 1980, when he came aboard as Creative Director of Illustration at Gem Studios in NYC. In fact I helped him move in. In those pre-Google days Illustrators would file away reference in file cabinets referred to as "morgues", and their contents were called "scrap". Ken's reference filled eight file cabinets, and he knew the exact location of every bit of information.

In addition to my own assignments I'd assist Ken in small ways, like rendering product in storyboard panels. But mostly I'd observe and ask questions on the how's and whys of illustration every chance I got. Ken was very patient and generous with all of us younger guys and as a result we would learn more from him in a workweek than we'd ever learned in a semester at art school.

Mr. Bald worked at Gem until retiring a few years ago, and still accepts the occassional assignment. But mainly he's been painting and enjoying himself and the company of his wonderful wife Kaye.

When I got the go-ahead from my then VP, Janet Parks to produce the Comic Strip program my first and only choice for the illustration assignment was Ken Bald. Working from my concepts Ken produced pencil art for all of them and one final inking for the Cinderella piece. The original intention was to create the art in a more photo-realistic style, without the Disney stylizations. But we decided to stay true to the film designs- with me producing the finals and working with a "Princess Artist" and an outside production freelancer.

The best part of it all was the fact that I was able to work with my dear friend and mentor at Disney. I thought that this was the first time that Ken would be working with Disney, but I was wrong- Ken created art for the theatrical poster campaign for "Old Yeller" in its original release.

In addition to Ken's Snow White pencil art I've included a few sundays from his syndicated "Dark Shadows" comic strip. The strip was collected in paperback a few years ago, and may still be available from the publisher or Here's the contact info for the publisher: Pomegranate Press, Ltd. - P.O. Box 17217 - Beverly Hills, Ca. 90209-3217. They may even have a website, so do a little searching. And while you're searching, Google Ken Bald and check out his body of work. You'll be glad you did!