Hey sketch pals and other great Americans, there will be no Sketch Charlotte meeting this Thursday, July 4th because, dudes, it’s Thursday, July 4th!!! We got stuff to blow up….. for America!! Please drop in on us next week, July 11 for Estonian Independence Day during which we dance the hooptius and pet the ceremonial duck.
Because of the nature of my job, I rarely get the opportunity to just doodle my working hours away. However, every once in a while I’ll have to attend a slew of boring meetings complete with Power Points and laser pointers and handouts. When that happens, I doodle myself dinky. At today’s day long seminar I decided to use the time to do some life drawings of my fellow victims.
So, here are (predominately) sketches of old, balding white men looking to the left. I made these drawings in pencil, quickly, without erasing or fussing too much about details. Just quick, secret drawings of drowsy employees in the semi dark. Each sketch is only a few inches tall and most were done in only about 5-10 minutes. For those interested, you can get some insight into my very loose and light penciling style.
When I got home I broke out my brush pens and had a go at these poor slobs. Hopefully this will demonstrate a little about inking. Like, a lot depends on picking the right line. My pencils tend to be loose and scratchy, just giving a feel for the form and the shape. When I ink, I try to pick the one line that will best describe the subject and lay it down with as much confidence as I can muster. Then I just try to shade and shape that object as best I can. These are just doodles. Quick, throwaway drawings to keep my mind and hand active. But each little mark is a small step to something better, right? Anyway, hope you enjoyed this little foray.
Man, if you’re ever a featured cartoonists at one of John Tompkin’s library mini-cons, when it’s all over, make sure to demand a commemorative t-shirt letting people know you survived that thing. Geez, it’s a marathon, a gauntlet, a crazy test of endurance to see just how much you can draw before your wrist seizes up and your brains turn to jelly. A few years ago I had looked on with envy as Brandon, Rich, Herc, Tom and John drew their ever lovin’ hearts out at this event and I was eager to test my mettle in the Union West Library last Friday. I was prepared to be grilled by the most extreme and demanding audience of art critics on the planet: little kids.
The mini-con is designed as a free event that allows small fries to get up close and personal with artists and make demands for sketches. Artists who are sane and want to stay that way generally limit what things they will draw for the peanut butter slathered masses to a small handful of choices. But foolhardy risk seekers like me will put up a sign that says “I Will Draw ANYTHING You Want for FREE”. Oh man, did those kids bring the pain. I drew, no exaggeration here, for 4 hours straight. I ran the ink out of my Pentel Brush Pen. My iPhone died on me after looking up mulitple dozens of reference pictures. It was rapturous.
When I got home I made a list of all the drawings I could remember and it totaled 38, although I’m certain I’m forgetting a few. I drew Pokemons, Dragon Ball dudes, Transformers, Spidermen, Darth Vaders, bunnies, monkeys, princesses, Spongebobs and all the Adventure Time characters I could con the kids into choosing. It was an amazing test for me to see how quickly and accurately I could draw this stuff and I’m pretty pleased with myself that most all of the kids left my table happy with their drawings.
I wasn’t able to take pictures of the stuff I produced but I did make some scans of some model sheets that I took with me to demonstrate to the children what kind of drawings they could expect. (And, also, I won’t lie, to try and sway their little decision makers into choosing stuff I wanted to and liked to draw, that being Adventure Time and Spongebob characters.) So, below are the examples I presented the kids. I really want to thank John for inviting me to this event, I had a super good time doing all that sketchin’.
Well friends, it’s been 26 freaky weeks since we set sail on this here good ship Alphabeasts and today we finally dock at the letter Z. I knew from Ahuizotl what beastie I’d be doing at this final moment, a creature I’d first seen late at night on a pre-cable television broadcasting 20 year-old shows into my 12 year-old brains. This guy here then is a Zanti Misfit as featured in the December 30, 1963 episode of The Outer Limits called, appropriately, “The Zanti Misfits.” I was something like negative 11 years-old when the episode first broadcast but had the good fortune to grow up watching WJZY (channel 46) on the regular in the days before my folks were willing to pay for television and I caught a rebroadcast somewhere in the latter days of the 1980′s. I’ll try not get on too big of a tangent but I look on those pre-cable days very fondly. There were only a handful of channels but they were chock full of old Tarzan, Godzilla, Lone Ranger, Kung Fu and cheesy horror pictures. WJZY showed old Star Treks, Twilight Zones and Outer Limits from about the time my parents would go to bed until midnight or so when the channel would go off the air to a Jimmy Durante clip. (“…and good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are…”) Anyhow, I regularly stayed up nights during the summer to watch these old shows. I loved the Outer Limits best of all because it was almost always freaky. I don’t have distinct memories of all the stuff I watched but I can recall very clearly the night I saw The Zanti Misfits. It’s one of those stories where the twist ending is a moral along the lines of “the human race: what a buncha assholes.” Those misfits really got me and that episode remains one of my favorites to this very day. Um…I should also say that I augmented this illustration with a nod to a fascination from high school regarding a whole other set of Misfits.
Pals, I have SO ENJOYED doing these Alphabeasts drawings week to week for the last half a year. The incredible art produced by the contributors to this project has been outrageously beautiful from the very first day. I’m proud to stand with this very talented and dedicated crew. The biggest of ups has to go to project organizer Andrew Neal who dedicated himself tirelessly to collecting the entries from all over the dang place and arranging them onto the site with handy dandy tools to search by letter and artists and so forth. It was a lot of work and he proved himself super capable of conquering the challenges week after week. Andrew runs one of the best comic book shops in the State of North Carolina (and I know ’cause I live in North Carolina) so, if you are ever in Chapel Hill, do your eyeballs a giant favor and stop in at Chapel Hill Comics to experience the wild sensations of comics shop excellence. I should, I know, link to all my great friends from the project but time is short at present so here’s some virtual fist bumps to fine folks like Isaac Cates, Sam Wolk, Lupi McGinty and AZ, Ben Towle, Leah Palmer Preiss, Rich Barrett, E.C. Steiner, Christian Sager, Caitlin Lehman, Brandon Padgett, Tom Davidson and the probably dozen more friendships that have been made or firmed up over the Alphabeasts Project. It’s been a wild ride, friends, now let’s all catch some Zzzzzzz’s.
Last week was just too fulla crazy important, super stressful stuff for me to find time to get my Y Alphabeast down on paper. So, regretfully, here is a very rushed version of Yoshi from the wide variety of Super Mario Brothers video games that kept my little brother completely preoccupied all through the 1990′s and early 2000′s. I, myself, do not play vidja games or even have much interest in them but an opportunity to have Mario paraphrase Bruce Willis is not to be missed.
If you head on over to the official Alphabeasts site, you’ll see that Xenomorphs have truly ruled the day so far as the letter X goes. So I figured, hell, why make this a stand up fight? Let’s have ourselves a bug hunt. Frankly, these things are just too damn cool for me not to take a stab at drawing one, even if it might be at the expense of raising the ire of ol’ H.R. (Mr. Giger to you all). Those savvy bastards among you will surely recognize the world’s greatest Bill Paxton quote floating around as an extra.
So what exactly is Gonzo? The way I remembered it, he was classified as a Weirdo and that was enough to draft him as the subject of my W-themed Alphabeasts entry. Well, after some research on the (of course there’s one, of course) Muppet Wiki site, I learned that it is only in the Muppet Babies cartoon that Gonzo is mentioned as being of the class Weirdo. (As you may know, I spend an embarrassingly large chunk of my childhood fascinated with the Muppet Babies cartoon.) In other places he is referred to as a Whatever (also a W, so, OK), a Thing, a kind of turkey and, for the super Muppet savvy, he seems to be based on a Frackle. Anyway, Weirdo is good enough for me.
Well, here I am nearly one full week late posting my V-themed Alphabeasts entry. I guess all week I was held up fighting this guy, Vile Corrupt, the multi-eyed pugilistic personification of evil as featured in the colorful personal mythology of my hero, Daniel Johnston. According to Daniel, Vile Corrupt was once and innocent little frog but then he saw too much of the world and it transformed him into a monster. Ol’ Vile tends to work for the dark lord Satan and is forever in a punching match with the good hearted but empty headed (literally) Joe the Boxer. I gave Mr. Corrupt a few lines from the Daniel Johnston song “Story of an Artist” to recite in this drawing. It just seemed appropriate. Anyhow, we all gotta get out there and fight our own personal Vile Corrupts each and every day so keep punching, Joe!
I think I’m probably pushing the definition of Alphabeast a touch close to the edge with this entry but, heck, maybe there’s enough precedent that I might be able to get away with it. That’s me, a loner, a rebel… Anyhow, I’m trying to suggest that U is for Uncle Scrooge, that lovable 1%er from Duckburg who just can’t seem to keep from flailing around in all his accumulated filthy lucre.
I had a hard time coming up with something for U that wasn’t a unicorn or Ultraman that still interested me in drawing it. I gotta admit I’m a little burned out on straight up mythological creatures and I’m turning my eye in a more pop cultural direction. Plus, the local Cartooning Club of which I belong just had a discussion around the recent Carl Barks book from Fantagraphics and so ducks were on my mind. Quack!
My 15 year-old self would be in rapturous joy over this week’s T-themed Alphabeast. I was a huge, huge, huge, huge, huge fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles all through my junior and early high school years. In fact, the first comic I ever bought that wasn’t from a grocery store or a 7-11 but from a proper comic book shop was TMNT #21 way back in 1989. Buying that comic set me on this sad path that you see me stumbling down even today. So yeah, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, WHOOP! WHOOP! Heroes in a half-shell, turtle power!!