Sunday, January 31, 2010

Waxing Lyrical

Note the artwork in the third panel.  It's Eightball's creation from a few weeks ago.
It's sad, desperate attempts at relevance like this that the comic strip historians will look back on in one hundred years and understand why the newspaper industry died out.

Post-It Wall

I stumbled across this fantastic "temporary" and probably unauthorized public artwork in Flamengo, Rio de Janeiro.  It was thousands of Post-It notes arranged to spell the word "Tiempo" (Time) and the public were encouraged to write or draw on the notes.
I was happy to draw some rabbits for them.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Unnecessary Banana Accessories # 2

The "Banana Split" is a Scandinavian-made device for opening bananas.  It appears to function in a way similar to a bottle opener with the addition of little teeth for better grip.  Notice the tag line is "You will like it" and indeed I do. 
Whilst it's possible that a very unripe banana in the hands of an elderly or infirm person may be a tad difficult to peel, it's curious to me why a knife wouldn't be more effective.   You may be interested to know that the gadget is fully recyclable and costs 29.95 Danish Kroner (about US$5.50).
The serving suggestion on the packaging is particularly impressive


It's been relatively cold here in San Francisco this week.  It was down to 55 degrees Fahrenheit this morning.  Weenus is wearing a Watford Football Club scarf in the third panel.  That's the team I've supported since I was a kid but the way their playing this season I should be ashamed to admit that.

Rabbits Against Magical Maestro

One of my all-time favorite cartoons is the 1952 MGM short "Magical Maestro" directed by the great Tex Avery and produced by Fred Quimby.   The premise is simple; a canine opera singer called Poochini (the world's "Greatest Baritone") rejects the proposition of a magician (Mysto) who then wreaks havoc with his magic wand on Poochini's rendition of "Largo Al Factotum" from Rossini's "The Barber of Seville". You can see it here.

The cartoon was plagued for many years by censorship because of the Chinese and black-face stereotypes (but curiously not the equally offensive depictions of Native Hawaiians or Latinos).
 While the racist stereotyping seems inexcusable today, from a clearly musical standpoint the Ink Spot pastiche is incredible and those rabbits are adorable. Also watch out for the classic "hair in the gate" gag.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Elephant Trunk For Sale

Item spotted for sale in Lapa Antiques Market, Rio de Janeiro.  I guess somewhere in Brazil an elephant is wandering around looking for a nose.

Banana Travelling Case

Since we seem to be on a roll with the whole banana theme there I thought I'd add some photos of a banana traveling case I have in my possession.  I don't recall where I picked this up but it was many years ago and I have never had an opportunity to use it.
On the face of it, this seems to be one of the more practical banana accessories you can buy. After all, who hasn't gone to unzip and fruity treat from a brown bag and found it mushed all over the Tupperware? 
The case itself is pretty indestructible and clips together nicely to encase the banana with little holes so that it doesn't get too sweaty.
Sadly however, it's really hard to find any banana that actually fits!   The banana in the photo had to be bent back in order to fit the curvature and was difficult the get out.  Maybe the case is designed only for European Union bananas where restriction on size and shape are carefully regulated.

Conejo Mojito

Justin Thompson, the super talented artist and genuinely nice guy behind the amazing Mythtickle webcomic just got back from Cuba where he was part of a cultural exchange delegation of cartoonists from the Schulz Studios.  He was good enough to share his experiences on the latest episode of Comics Coast to Coast where I was honorary "guest and co-host" for the day.  Justin has just released his first book which you can buy here.  Tom Richmond, who also went, posted some excellent photos on his beyond awesome Mad Blog.  I didn't go, but since I used to live in  Cuba many years ago when I attended school at the University of Havana I was able to add a few insights of my own.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ephemera Overload!

Keith Knight recently visited the rabbits' basement...

From today's excellent Knight Life comic.

Weird Siamese Banana

It looked kinda freaky but tasted great.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dona Dengue

Oooh!  Creepy anti-Dengue poster from Rio!  I really love the tongue. Of course the mosquito is the innocent carrier of the evil Flavivirus but everyone blames the messenger.

Golden Bear Days

An unabashed plug for Al Columbia's latest book Pim and Francie which I just purchased.  I must say that I haven't had my socks blown off quite as much in a long time.  His style is a crazy mix of the vintage animation style usually associated with early Disney and the twisted weirdness of a Mark Ryden or Gary Baseman painting. The book doesn't read like your traditional graphic novel.  It's a bizarre scrapbook-like assemblage of illustrations, paintings and sketches, many of which are unfinished.  A couple are even torn up and reassembled with tape.

The real joy of the book is entering the fascinating world created by the juxtaposition of horrific and cute imagery, and the beautiful detailed inking which can be seen almost as clearly as if you were looking at the original piece.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Learn Magic in One Minute!

In Rio de Janeiro there's a crazy market every Saturday in the Avenida Nilo Peçanha.  One of the stalls belongs to the magician who goes by the name "Nakaren".  He let me take this photo of his homemade sign and showed me some fabulous magic tricks.  He even made my favorite mechanical pencil disappear.  I had to pay him a few réis to get it back.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Flotsom and Jetsom Rabbits

More beach artwork from Brazil.  I was particularly happy with the crab claw I found for Weenus.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Esfera Oito

This is what Eightball would look like if he was a Brazilian woman. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Indecent Exposure

This one took way to long to draw for such a silly simple idea. Since none of my characters have eyebrows it's hard to get a "puzzled" expression.  I filled up about three pages of my sketchbook (below) with facial variations and I'm still not sure it came out well.  Note the Rio skyline in the background.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How to Draw a Comic Strip Redux

Nearly two years ago I did a detailed tutorial on how I draw a comic strip which, statistically,  is actually by far the most accessed and popular part of my website (relatively speaking of course).  I had a bit of spare time on my hands today and I figured it was time to do an updated, slightly less detailed version. So here's today's Sunday strip from start to finish.

All my strips start off as rudimentary rough scribbles in my sketch book.  This "joke" came to me while I was cleaning some brushes of my own.

Here are my "tools".  From top to bottom (outside the tin) is the Copic Multiliner SP (for fine details), my custom Kuretake Sumi brush pen from Japan (I shaped the end with an Xacto knife and stuck a Lamy Cartridge Converter for CP1 adapter inside and filled it with Pelikan ink), a Faber-Castell PITT artist brtush pen (for filling in large areas of black) and my Papermate ProTouch 0.5 mechanical pencil. There's a Pigma Micron pen in there as well (several sizes).  The green plastic thing is a lettering guide.

I have several matte board stencils that I made for my frames.  Since I freehand my borders this is just a quick shortcut for spacing.

I rough out the entire strip in pencil. As you can see it's very loose but it's all pretty much spaced out as it will appear in the final version.

I ink the borders, characters and main objects with the two brush pens.

Here's a details of panel 4. You can see how loose my pencils are here.  A lot of the lines get cleaned up on the computer.

Here's the final inked page. I erase the pencils and scan it into the computer using Photoshop at 600 dpi in grayscale mode.  The next step is way too boring to have an image but basically I set the threshold at 140 to separate the black and white areas and convert to RGB mode.  Then, after making a second layer for the colors, I delete the "white" areas in the top (black line) layer so that it's transparent and I can color underneath with the black lines always on top.

Here's a mid-coloring moment.  I always start with the background first.

I use a Wacom tablet to color.  I can't imagine coloring without it.

This is the final color layer with the black lines turned off.  I steal a lot of my color schemes from old Tom and Jerry cartoons.  Luckily I think that's still legal.

And finally a comparison between the final ink version and the final digital version.

You can see the final final, optimized for web version here.

Rabbits on the Beach

Here's some beach artwork created on the remote fourth beach in Morro de São Paulo in Brazil.  It didn't last very long as the tide came in pretty rapidly.  A horse rode over it as well just after I took the photos.

There are no cars allowed on the island so your bags are carried by small children in a wheelbarrow.

Right on the beach they have little vending carts that will serve you very cheap (and very strong) fruity cocktails.  The papaya caipirinhas was especially delicious.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jon and Kate Plus Ape

Years from now I hope people will look at this strip and ask "who the @#$% are Jon and Kate?".  Sadly I worry that they will still be around.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Calvin and Hobbes for Peace

I took this photo in the historic central square in Salvador, Bahia, the first colonial capitol of Brazil.  That's the former 17th Century Jesuit Church in the background (now the main cathedral) and the old medical school.  My spousal unit made it into the picture as well (left). The wall in the foreground is covered with six delightful stencils of Calvin calling for peace.  I'm pretty sure Bill Watterson did not authorize this public artwork project but I'd like to think he would get a kick out of it.

Monkeys Against Magic

A great (but fake) "History of Forgotten Magic" over at Archie McPhee's Monkey Goggles blog.  My favorite bit is Nude-ini, the Erotic Magician.  APparently his version of pulling a rabbit out of a hat was particularly grotesque and ended with the line, “As you can see, not only is this not a rabbit, I am also not pulling it out of a hat.”

Thursday, January 14, 2010


As anyone who knows me will tell you, I have an potentially unhealthy obsession with the singer and actress Carmen Miranda. In Brazil I was able to visit several Carmen Miranda-related locations including the Art Deco Casino in Urca where she performed in the 1930s and the tiny little Carmen Miranda museum in Flamengo.  We even got to see a lavish Carmen Miranda musical production. A lot of the strips I drew around this time were influenced by the Brazilian Bombshell.

Trivia fans take note.  Carmen Miranda was neither born nor died in Brazil!  At the height of her Hollywood  career she was the highest-earning woman in the United States.  She owned and ran a hat shop before she became a successful entertainer. She died after suffering a heart attack live on the Jimmy Durante Show.