Sunday, October 18, 2015

Upper Deck Dinosaurs and Life (Or: I am a Dinosaur)

Dearest Blog,

My life, like the weather, is growing colder, and the days shorter. I keep telling myself to draw more comics or write more of anything like I used to, to make the most of my dwindling time on Earth. Years ago, I had friends who begged me for entertainment, some pulpy levity to distract them from high school lectures. Now, phones have taken that place, and I hear little if any demand. I wonder what I might have accomplished had I been born 40 or 50 years ago, had I reached my prime before high-speed Internet. I shudder to think where I'd be if I were born on a later date. Would I have learned to draw, or would my eyes be perpetually glued to some kind of electronic pad, ignorant of the feel of paper in my hands or the heady thrill of creating an artifact?

When I was younger, friendships were incidental, yet intensely intimate. Every day, I marched next door or across the street to play with my closest friends, valued higher than all else merely because of proximity. I became disproportionately familiar with kids whose last names shared the same first letter as mine (or the next one in the alphabet), only because school corralled us into the same homeroom. Spallone and Schneider and Smith and Taylor, all forever linked thanks to coincidence. Sometimes I can't imagine connecting with anyone else on a deeper level than I once did with these friends, but I guess anyone else in the world could have easily impacted my life with equal strength, if only they sat behind, in front of, or to the immediate left or right of me in class.

This trend may have continued deep into adulthood if it weren't for the prevalence of the Internet allowing us to interact with people other than those physically seated next to us. I'm guilty of spending more time on the Web than I should. In theory, access to people with varied interests all over the world should help us find better matches than the accidental sympaticos I spoke of. But in my case, it's not working. It sort of did when people wrote emails and you could get a feel for their personalities, but now communication has to be via Facebook chat (or something similar), where everything runs in a one-inch-wide column. A wall of text longer than ten words long becomes more imposing to the modern reader than the dense Nathanial Hawthorne novel rotting by my bedside on a pile of good intentions, dog-eared on page 10 for all eternity. Plus, it's near impossible to edit anything and you have to go through this whole special procedure if you want to make paragraph breaks. It just doesn't work for me. I also don't like how the Internet removes all semblance of a mystique, with all unfortunate political views and examples of bad taste flying for all to see. I click on my dearest elementary school buddy's profile and see one rant after another about the current hot political topic, and she's on the opposite side of the fence. I see many unfunny memes shared. Who is this terrible person, I wonder. Why can't we just plop down on the couch and eat junk food and watch the Friday night lineup and enjoy each other's humanity? Why does something that's supposed to make things so simple and facilitate connection now do the exact opposite?

The Internet isn't forever. Jump the Shark has jumped the shark, along with most other sites created in a more innocent time, when people published their writings online for fun and passion instead of ad clicks. For the right price, anyone can sell our memories away. I foolishly type this in a blog that Google might zap into etherea any moment, instead of a brick-and-mortar diary that someone might discover and learn from hundreds of years from now. But even blogs have long become quaint, replaced with online photo posting and telegraphic one-liners that no one has the patience to scroll through beyond the last couple of weeks. Who is keeping a record of our time in a way that future generations can appreciate?

How long can I count on the existence of trading card collectors? When I say I create them, few react with any recognition, let alone enthusiasm. They ask, "What's a trading card?" Do kids collect them anymore? I imagine most are waiting for the next video game to come out, or "falling in love" through emojis and shallow text-speak exchanged with catfish in Internet chatrooms. But I'm grateful for the few die-hards out there who support my old-fashioned art style, and these pieces of paper that will last long after this blog dissolves into, at best, a hidden nugget on archive.org.

Thanks for keeping it old-school. After a while, dystophile.






Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Commissions Available!

Hi trading card fans!

I have some blank artist's proofs/returns/sketch cards or whatever you want to call them. Please contact me through email or send a message to the Bibliowhining Facebook page to make a request!

Here's what I have available:

Monsterwax

Spook Show (3)
Legendary Lovecraft (1)

Viceroy

Insectae (2)
The Deep (2)

Upper Deck

Marvel 3D (5)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (7)
Ant-Man (2)
Dinosaurs (12)

Thanks for your support!


Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Collingswood Bikeshare

Hola amigos. It's been a long time since I've rapped at you, but I've gone semi-pro, so I've been drawing/painting trading cards and working on the occasional illustration project with the time I used to spend drawing comics for free with little feedback. I do plan to finish my "Where's the Beat" comic and submit it to literary journals in hopes of getting more eyes, but publishing my progress on this blog would disqualify me from submitting elsewhere in many cases, so we'll have to wait a bit.

Long-time readers know that this blog started out as an attempt to share my combined interests in library studies and art, then it drifted more into a regular comics blog, and now I pop in once in a while to share updates on whatever projects I'm currently working on. Well, I never abandoned my library training, and now I work as a cataloger, circulation clerk and restoration specialist at one of the best special libraries in the world, the Collingswood Bikeshare.

Not the usual bike sharing program that rents out fancy-schmancy identical bikes with GPS and stuff by the hour, ours refurbishes donated adult bikes of many shapes, sizes and vintage and leases them like library books for $25/year.

With another female, I'm currently building a bike from an old road bike frame of dubious origin (though stickers indicate it was originally acquired from a Western Toy Store):


 Here I am scraping off the original layers of paint with a scraper. Later I'd switch to Zip Strip. This bike had a storied life including possible theft, judging by the paint layers -- red, original dark Bikeshare green, black spraypaing and lighter, modern Bikeshare green. This time it will be cream and blue.

Here are some before pictures:




Bikeshare brand builds often have BMX handlebars, and this model was no exception:

With new wheels and a cool found saddle, grips and other odds and ends, we have a nice new Bikeshare brand coaster bike!


 I named it Rover, after my cat (it's also the name of that bubble thing in The Prisoner, which fits our classic TV show bike naming scheme).

We still have a week or so of halfway decent riding weather left (it's November 6th as I'm writing this). Stop by sometime!

And be on the lookout for my art at Espressit Coffee Shop all November long.



Thursday, March 27, 2014

Flame Broiled: Diary of a Burger Flipper Issue #2 is here!

I've put off making comics long enough, and once again used Mini-Comics Day as an excuse to break from paying work and just have fun drawing as I did in the days before adulthood.

Flame Broiled: Diary of a Burger Flipper Issued #2 is finally here! Contact me to order your $2.00 copy today (free shipping).



In this episode, New Girl graduates from toasting buns to making cheeseburgers and hamburgers! But is she up for the job? Plus, someone orders a four-piece chicken strips meal, but there's only an eight piece left! How will New Girl get out of that one?



Like Issue #1 (the most popular comic I've ever done), this episode recounts based-on-true tales of working in the fast food industry. Not an undercover, Nickel And Dimed type expose on the working poor, this is more like a casual diary sharing humor and humiliation from a time when no other job prospects were available. Identifying details of co-workers and restaurants have been changed, and some are composites, but the dialects, accents and flaws I remember so well have been fluidly penned and preserved for the sake of realism, with little regard for political correctness. Many will relate to these silly fast food dramas, so just enjoy the read!


Email me to order your copy today! Issue #1 is still available, too. Get the full set -- a bargain at $2 each -- that's half the price of a measly gluten-free cupcake, but it lasts twice as long!

(Now I realize that I left one of the originals on the copy machine, and oh how smart I feel. Hopefully it's still around, not on its way to being a sheet of recycled paper. I remember the last time this happened...)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Monsterwax "Legendary Lovecraft" Sketch Card Checklist

Just in time for Hallowe'en, Monsterwax is opening up orders for their "Legendary Lovecraft" trading card set, a cool project I'm proud to be a part of. Ricardo Garijo, Jr., carrying his late father's torch, brushed out a batch of beautifully rendered cards for the base set, capturing the spooky mood and otherworldly colors described in Lovecraft's tales. Though I'm typically not a fan of computer generated artwork, Garijo, Jr.'s is tasteful, painterly and organic. My foil inserts, in contrast, were tortuously scratched out with micron pens in a style emulating that of Virgil Finlay or Basil Wolverton. So you see the set offers something for everyone.

If Lovecraftian tales intrigue you but seemed too dense upon first attempted readings, the artwork and summaries on these cards will gently draw you in to the Mythos. Lovecraft's writing -- particularly the Cthulhu character and The Necronomicon -- has influenced heavy metal bands and cult classics like The Evil Dead, but it's no less highbrow than Poe's (in my grumbling opinion). One thing that impresses me most about his stories (though it made them pretty tricky to condense into card-sized snippets) is the intricacy of them --  every little detail means something. So when you're writing story summaries, don't leave out that seemingly throwaway bit about the rock the narrator kicks out of the way on a forest path, nor the direction in which the path is going or the direction in which he kicks the rock, or the material the rock is made from and the number of facets it has, because all of it will be INTEGRAL to the story's denouement every time. I wonder if he drew maps or created model cities to ensure the perfect continuity of his universe.

In addition to the six printed insert cards I did for the set, I'm creating some of the original art sketch cards, one of which is included in each box. Other top sketch card artists are working on the set, too, so there's no guarantee you'll get one of mine, but I thought collectors would appreciate a checklist of my "Legendary Lovecraft" sketches. I'll be adding to this list as I create more, so it's not complete yet:

LOVECRAFT PORTRAIT SKETCH CARDS


IN GRAPHITE
1. Young Lovecraft with glasses and pink background
2. Lovecraft with tentacle shadows and blue background
3. Lovecraft and Yithians with grey background

4. Smirking Lovecraft with carved monoliths and yellowish background
5. Serious Lovecraft holding black cat with pink background
6. 3/4 view of serious Lovecraft with glasses, bowtie and faint blue background
7. Lovecraft w/rats on his shoulders and red-orange tint
8. Lovecraft 3/4 view with cream/grey background
9. Sketchy Lovecraft with orange/grey background
10. Lovecraft with tentacle heart "frame" and yellow/grey background

 

  

IN PEN AND INK 

1. Lovecraft and fanged, winged ex-wife with pink background
2. Pensive-looking Lovecraft

3. Lovecraft reading Necronomicon

"AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS" SKETCHES

IN MARKER

1. Elder "fossil" discovered in cave
2. Men running from shoggoth
3. Penguins running from shoggoth



IN GRAPHITE

1. Elder monster close-up with yellow background

"THE CALL OF CTHULHU" SKETCHES

IN GRAPHITE

1. Cthulhu bas-relief (gray-green background)
2. Cthulhu and a couple tiny sailors

IN PEN AND INK


1. Cthulhu in the sea with wings spread

"THE CATS OF ULTHAR" SKETCHES

IN MARKER

1. Three feisty-looking cats

"THE COLOUR OUT OF SPACE" SKETCHES

IN MARKER

 1. Colour rising from well with trees in background and pig corpse

 "THE DREAM-QUEST OF UNKNOWN KADATH" SKETCHES

 IN GRAPHITE

1. Moon beasts (pink background)

IN MARKER
1. Shantak bird
2. Night gaunts

"THE DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE" SKETCHES

IN GRAPHITE

1. Brown Jenkins with classic yellow background

IN PEN AND INK

1. Witch with strangling hands

"THE DUNWICH HORROR" SKETCHES

IN GRAPHITE

1.  Henry Armitage's wife w/blue background
2. The "Horror"

IN MARKER

1. Pregnant Lavinia Whateley

2. Whippoorwills singing  
3. Wilbur shooting dog (Mars Attacks! homage) 
4. Wilbur holding Necronomicon

"THE FESTIVAL" SKETCHES

IN MARKER

1. Wax mask falling off to reveal what should have been a face

"HALLOWE'EN IN A SUBURB" SKETCHES

IN GRAPHITE

1. Lemurs








IN MARKER

1. Flying vampires

 "HERBERT WEST: REANIMATOR" SKETCHES

IN MARKER 

1. Herbert West injecting a rabbit/monkey creation

 "THE HORROR AT RED HOOK" SKETCHES

 IN MARKER

1. Mrs. Sudyam sacrificed ("Lilith" written in background)

"THE LURKING FEAR" SKETCHES

IN GRAPHITE

1. Martenses rising from the hills (red background)


 

 

 

 

"THE OUTSIDER" SKETCHES

 IN MARKER
1. Outsider looking in mirror

IN GRAPHITE

1. Outsider looking in mirror

"PICKMAN'S MODEL" SKETCHES

IN MARKER
1. Pickman's model gnawing on unfortunate human

"THE PICTURE IN THE HOUSE" SKETCHES 

IN MARKER
1. Butcher shop illustration

"THE RATS IN THE WALLS" SKETCHES 

IN MARKER
1. Black cat scratching at pillar, aerial view
2. Swarming rats
3. Black cat scratching at pillar, side view

"SHADOW OUT OF TIME" SKETCHES"

IN GRAPHITE
1. Yithians holding books with blue background

IN PEN AND INK
1. Lone Yithian reading book with neon yellow background

"SHADOW OVER INNSMOUTH" SKETCHES 

IN GRAPHITE
1. Bus driver Joe Sargent











2. Innsmouth creatures in lake

IN MARKER
1. Innsmouth creatures rising from lake
2. Lone fisherman with stormy sky

"THE TEMPLE" SKETCHES

IN MARKER

1. Old-timey scuba diver

"THE THING ON THE DOORSTEP" SKETCHES

IN MARKER

1. Asenath Waite

IN GRAPHITE
1. Shub Niggurath with pink background

"THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS" SKETCHES

IN MARKER

1.Old Akeley sitting in balloon chair












IN PEN AND INK 
1. Dog with tentacle in mouth
2. Dogs barking

IN GRAPHITE
1. Tsathoggua with orange background