Monday, January 6, 2014

Al Capp Biography Dust Jacket

 My design version #1 dust jacket


 My design version #2 dust jacket


Published version dust jacket


Denis Kitchen and Michael Schumacher researched and wrote a very in-depth biography of Lil' Abner cartoonist, Al Capp. The book has won awards and received great critical praise. It's not a sugar coated version of his life story, but rather a dirty and gritty expose of a man who in spite of his success, remained bitter and resentful. How after achieving fame, he chose to use his celebrity to manipulate and take advantage of people. Let's just say, it ain't pretty.

Denis asked me, if I'd like to take a run at designing the dust jacket to the book. In version #1 of the dust jacket, I placed Al Capp within the setting of his comic strip. I think it's pretty obvious as he leers at Daisy Mae, what's on his mind. Lil' Abner peeks in, and doesn't seem real pleased at what's going on. This visual imagery, is foreshadowing to what can be found inside the pages of the book.  

On version #2, I placed a dirty stained beat-up picture of Al Capp on top of a Sunday newspaper page of the Lil' Abner strip. I liked that the image wasn't a smiling happy glossy pristine photo. The picture has seen better days, and seems to elude to the darkside of Al Capp. I added the cigarette smoke to give it an illusion of dimension.

The bottom image, is a design of the dust jacket, that was done in-house at the publisher. This is the one they ended up going with, and what you will find on the book.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

John Romita's The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 2 Artist's Edition

 Title Page


 Chapter Divider Page


Chapter Ending Page


These are some of the design pages for the second volume of IDW's John Romita's Spider-Man Artist's Edition. Since there was a first volume, I wanted there to be familiar design elements that carried over from the first book. But I also wanted it to be unique enough so it didn't seem like I was being lazy or cheating. Since I enjoy designing so much, sometimes it's hard for me not to want to create something totally different. Part of my inspiration for this design style, were book and poster designs from the early 1970s. There is a boldness in it's simplicity. Going for period accurate design is part of the challenge but also a major part of the fun!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tim Bradstreet Sketchbook volume 1


Here's the cover to the new Tim Bradstreet sketchbook from IDW. This is the first book, in an on going series. This format is similar to the Kaluta sketchbooks. I don't really have a lot to say about this one. I tried to keep it simple with minimum colors, as to not overwhelm the cover art. Because of Tim's subject matter, I thought adding a reptilian texture to the cover made sense.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Shadow Box Art

Bazooka Joe

Orange Popsicle

Mid-Century Romance

Friend or Foe?

Television spokesmodel


Alright! I know this is a little different entry than what I usually do, but I thought these boxes were kinda fun. I had a hankering to do some 3 dimensional design work, and these boxes are the result of that. The problem with me and creating, is my lack of patience. I like to get things done quickly and then move on. I could never do oil painting, it would take too much time for me, and I would lose interest in the project before it was finished.

With these shadowboxes, I wanted to think up the idea, execute it and be done, in no more, than two days. I'm sure the craftsmanship and finish of these, could have been much more polished, but that would have meant spending more time on each box. I like to think there is kind of a crude charm to these. Really this was the result of having to purge. I sometimes get inklings and uneasiness where the only relief is to create something. A lot of times it's based on things, or materials I'm not familiar with. For these boxes, it was all based on a shopping trip to my local Michael's craft store. I used wooden balls, wooden dowels, a clear plastic christmas ornament, wire and sculpy. Oh, and everything is painted with those 69 cent bottles of craft paint.

I realize they aren't things of beauty, but when I finished them, I could sit back and go ahhhh! Sort of like after eating a very large meal,  sitting on the sofa and having that satisfying burp. Yeah, that's it!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Jeff Smith's BONE "The Great Cow Race" Artist's Edition

 Jeff Smith's BONE Artist's Edition cover


 BONE title page


BONE dedication and table of contents pages



I was a late arriver to the world of BONE. I think at the time, there was limited exposure for the book. The story that first captured my attention, was "The Great Cow Race." After reading that and meeting the cast, I was hooked. It was a mix of Walt Kelly's POGO and "The Lord of the Rings." There was adventure, intrigue, humor, and great animated style character design. 

When looking at and reading the story, it's hard to really compare it to anything else out there. The style of the drawing is very charming, and looks like style guides for an animated feature. Based on the cartooniness, it might suggest that this is a humor/funny animal book. Although there are plenty of humorous situations and funny moments, the storytelling is much more layered and textured. Actually, there is a lot of very dark and foreboding sequences.

Jeff Smith's ability to create personalities out of white blobby creatures, is pretty jaw-dropping.  I never thought I would become so immersed into the journey of the Bone cousins. What a pleasure and delight to be able to get up close and personal with the creations of Jeff Smith and his BONE universe.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Joe Kubert's TOR Artist's Edition

 Joe Kubert's TOR Artist's Edition cover

 TOR Title Page


 TOR pages 2-3


 TOR pages 5-6


TOR page 57


Another Joe Kubert book, and another day in heaven! I don't know how he was able to maintain such a high level of artistry over such a prolonged period of time. What is your favorite decade of Kubert's work: 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s? It really is quite astounding to see the quality of art continue to be brilliant decade after decade.  

I continue to try and make each of these Artist's Editions unique onto itself. It's a challenge not to repeat myself. I'm sure there is a recognizable style in everything I do, but I do my best to mix things up. It's kind of like asking a cartoonist like Joe Kubert not to draw like Joe Kubert. Something will always show through that is a give-away. I'm not sure that is necessarily a bad thing. I wouldn't have wanted Kubert to suddenly start drawing like Charles Schulz, that would have just seemed odd. But certainly over the decades his art style changed and evolved. I hope I continue to be a work in progress. I don't ever want to get to a place of complete satisfaction. That's dangerous. The way I look at it I still have another four decades to try to get it right!

Nostalgia Zone

 First Logo attempt

 Second Logo attempt

 Third Logo attempt

Final Logo solution


This is a series and progression for a logo I designed for a comic-book, collectables store in MPLS. I first entered into a discussion with the owner/manager, to get his general thoughts on what he was looking for. We did a brainstorming session, and agreed on a general direction. The logo was going to be a 3 color design: blue, red, and yellow. Because of the name, it seemed like a no-brainer to make it look vintage, or...RETRO! I thought it should look like something that would appear on toy packaging, or a child's shoe box. Who could have guessed that I love retro design? 

After the first attempt, I was asked to change the look of the kid, and maybe add a couple different looks and some different type treatments. The second and third logos went the "googie" route. Googie design was popular from the early fifties through the mid-sixties. Bowling alley signage, Big Boy restaurants, Holiday Inn Hotels, Route 66 Motels, these all fell into that category. I liked the carefree fun approach, so I did my best to incorporate that style into my designs.

The final logo ended up being a combination of the previous designs. I really want to have a t-shirt with that new logo design on it!