Saturday, November 29, 2008


So, I'm sitting at Einstein's Bagels this afternoon, eating some lunch, and doing thumbnails for the next Stone Arch book. A family comes in and sits at the table next to me and the youngest boy props what looks like a skateboard deck next to me on the floor. Except, it's like no skateboard deck I've ever seen. He notices me staring at it and, forward for a ten year old kid, asks me,

"Is that going to be a problem?"

"No, I've just never seen anything like that before...what is it?"

"It's a Ripstik. You can get them at Target for like fifty nine bucks!"

"Believe me, kid, if I get one of those I would hurt myself so fast, you wouldn't believe it..."

And, so the conversation ended and I went back to work. When the kid was finished with his lunch he asked me if I wanted to come outside and see how it worked. Intrigued, I followed him out of the restaurant.

So, this kid hops on this little board and starts flying around, swooshing this way and that, making it look really easy. Then, it was my turn. I ride a bike, I can rollerblade like a champ, so, I figured, why not?

I did OK at first, getting my balance on this thing, but having trouble making it actually move. And, it was fun. I finally tried to get some speed up and get the thing moving. Of course, being older than fifteen, the inevitable finally happened and I wiped out. I stopped myself with my hands and, from the pain that shot up them, reminded myself why I wear wrist guards when I rollerblade. But, like a ninja, I bounced back up and laughed it off.

So, now, for fifty nine bucks, I may have to run out and get myself one of these Ripstiks. Of course, I'll have to wait for the pain in my right hand to go away. And break my wrist guards out of storage.

Man, I hate getting old. The kids get all the fun toys!

Friday, November 28, 2008


I guess the last post or my third request for a review worked because it looks like the blog is back up and running. No more warnings, no more emails, no more threats of shutting me down.

It's working!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving with lots of food, family, and friends! I've been super busy this week and still have the weekend ahead of me filled with work. But, I did get a chance to sneak out today and eat some turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and pie!

I've found some art from the vaults and still have a bunch of new OilCan Drive stuff to show off. So, give me a few days to wrap up some stuff and the art will be flowing and showing again!

Have a great holiday weekend!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Spam Blog!

Last week I got a message from that my blog site had been flagged as a possible spam blog by it's robots. It said, unless I requested a review of my site, that my blog would be deleted in twenty days. So, of course, I requested a review and was told that within two business days that my blog would be reviewed and, hopefully, the regular status would be restored.

Well, it's been a week now and, according to the flashing memo on the dashboard of my blog, this blog is still locked and up for deletion in two weeks.

So, I am going to write this, hope it goes through, and see if I can change the status. It would royally suck if this blog got deleted. I just started it and am really enjoying it.

So, keep your fingers crossed. Hopefully this will all work out in the end.

And, if this blog disappears in two weeks, at least you know what happened.

Remember me! LOL

Friday, November 14, 2008


I had planned to spend the next few days showcasing some new art from the OilCan Drive books, particularly the four main character shots that will begin each book. I was going to show off one character a day and talk a bit about each of them. And I still plan to. But, something came up.

OilCan Drive got a live gig.

Well, not really. But, my friend Lou, who I've talked about a few times on the blog, had his birthday tonight. And, to celebrate, he put on a music show at The Laughing Goat, a local bar/coffee house. But, not just a regular Lou show. He invited guest performers. People he was a fan of. Real musicians who could get up there and play some original music.

And he invited me.

The last time I played live was three years ago at a Halloween gig were I just played guitar and didn't even sing. And, the last time I played an open mike where I got up on stage and played and sang, over five years ago, it went so bad that I bunkered down in my house and didn't surface for three months. I was unprepared, didn't know how to sing into a mike, and froze up when the sound tech pushed the mike closer to my face. Nothing worse than stopping right in the middle of a song, then hearing some odd clapping from the audience before announcing, "I'm not done yet." It was just horrible.

On top of that, there was all the nice comments I got from the internet for the last song I wrote and recorded. That kind of messed up my head for a bit.

So, yeah, when Lou wanted me to play in his show, and Lou is a guy who really won't take "no" for an answer, I's the word?.....oh yea....scared shitless.

He asked on a Monday and the show was on Thursday. Some of the songs I had written and recorded I didn't even know the words to anymore. I thought about not showing up more than once. But, I knew I'd hate myself if I didn't try. I'd much rather get up on stage and fall on my face then feel the regret of not trying at all. Plus, I figured if I really royally screwed up and bunkered down again at least I'd get a lot of drawing done. So, I remembered the lyrics and played a lot of guitar. Between inking all week on a kid's book and playing my guitar my hands got quite a work out.

Lou and I got together on Wednesday night to run through the three songs I was going to play. He wanted to play bass on them during the show and this gave him the chance to see what he was in for. My original set list was "Walk Away", "Tour Guide", and "Toxic Waltz". We practiced those for a bit and he left me with some words of advice..."wake up tomorrow and play through the set once, then forget about it until you play the show."

So, I woke up this morning and played the songs. And nothing came out right. There wasn't one song that I played through that I didn't mess up. I would forget words, play the wrong chords, and just screw up in general. Thoughts of leaving the state entered my mind. The worst was playing "Walk Away". The problem was that the whole song is based upon a D arpeggio chord. That means it's a basic D chord but playing the individual strings in the chord in a specific pattern. And playing them over and over again. And playing them fast.

And it just wasn't working!

I couldn't keep up that pace without screwing it up somewhere. I was planning on opening the set with that song and I couldn't play it right. A botched first song does not bode well for the rest of the night. My stomach did flip flops. My mind was racing. I was once again wondering how far away from Boulder I could get before show time.

So, I did what I thought best. I dropped "Walk Away" from the set list.

And, I felt much much better.

Well, not much better. I was still scared. But, my stomach settled down a bit.

I packed up my gear, put on my OilCan Drive t-shirt, and headed out the door.

Monika and I showed up to the Laughing Goat, set up, and found a table to sit at and watch the show until it was my turn. We watched Lou perform a few songs to warm up the crowd. Then, a very talented friend of his, Ali Crockett, got up and played a really long set of songs. She plays guitar amazingly and sings like an angel so it was pretty intimidating. After her, another guy went up and played a short set. All this time, about two hours, I would get up from our table, walk around, and eye the back door located next to the bathroom.

But, I sucked it up and stayed. And, I was glad I did. Finally, it was my turn and I could get up and face my imaginary firing squad. And, you know what? It didn't go that bad. I messed up the first song right away and stopped. Looking back, I think I messed up because I was listening to Lou when he was playing bass. Doing that, I kind of forgot what I was supposed to do next. But, I counted back in and started the song again right away. No one booed. No one threw anything. And, from there, it went off without a hitch.

I honestly had no idea how I did when I came off stage. I kind of blur out when I perform, I guess. I had to ask Monika if I did OK and if anyone's ears, did in fact, bleed. But, listening back to the recording, I really like they way I pulled it off. You can hear my voice gaining courage even after the first verse of "Tour Guide". And, in the little talking parts between songs, I was even kind of funny.

When introducing the music before the set:

Me- "This is music I did for a cartoon band called OilCan Drive" ...pointing the the characters on my t-shirt... "Tonight, I'll be playing the part of the guy in the Avalanche jersey and Lou will be playing the part of the gorilla...on the bass."

Lou- "Shit yeah!"

And, my favorite little bit. After playing "Tour Guide", Lou requested I give "Walk Away" a shot:

Lou- "Nicely Done. Do Walk Away, do Walk Away."

Me- "I can't do Walk Away."

Lou- "Do it for me."

Me- "I can't do Walk Away because it's a song I wrote and the whole thing is this weird little D arpeggio...for the whole song...and I can't keep it up for three minutes. I know it's a bad thing for a guy to say...but I can't keep it up for three minutes."

That got a laugh out of a lady in the audience so my work was done. From there, we went on to play "Toxic Waltz" which I thought really started out well for two guys who only practiced it for ten minutes together the night before.

Lou- "You wanna do Toxic Waltz? Let's do Toxic Waltz. Give me the bass line first."

But, why type about it when you can hear it for yourself?

So, here, for your listening pleasure, is a very crappy recording of the show that I got from an old tape recorder I put on my table. The whole thing is about ten minutes long and features three songs: "Tour Guide", "Toxic Waltz", and "Out of my Mind".

So, if you have the time, you're in the right place, and you don't mind risking bleeding ears, give it a listen. Back to the art next time, I promise. The next OilCan Drive live show is probably about three years away :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More Pieces!

Here is another piece of art I created for the OilCan Drive books. I was looking for a stylish way of featuring each issue's number and I thought a guitar running along each book's spine would work great.

I chose to base the art on a Gibson Es-335 style guitar. Of course, I fattened it a bit but the symmetrical style of the ES-335's body served my needs perfectly. And, instead of muddying the art up with strings (although I did try that out), I chose to put a racing stripe down the body to keep the neck's natural lines through out the piece. Add the issue number of each book to the lower body and the design is complete.

I started to draw this guitar by hand but, after a few false starts, decided to give my old school inner artist a rest and design the whole thing on the computer. So, a bit of work in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and the piece is more symmetrical and cleaner than anything I could do by hand. When I first started using the computer I thought it would eat my artist's soul but now it's just another tool among many I use to get the job done.

While I'll be using this on the mini-comics I plan to put out, I originally had the idea of the guitar on a graphic novel's fat spine. Something about the spine of each book being taken up by the guitar's neck, body, racing stripe, and number really appeals to me.

Now, I just need to draw enough pages of story to fill a book enough to deserve a fat spine. One step at a time, one step at a time...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

New Plastic Spoon Press Logo

Geez, Sunday night got here quicker than I'd expected. I've spend the weekend working away on the Stone Arch books, getting the pencils ready for approval on one while doing thumbnails and character sketches for the next. Now, to sit back for a bit and just wait for approval before the fun starts again.

As some of you know, in the middle of all the client work, I've been working on the OilCan Drive project. For those of you who don't know, the OilCan Drive project is a personal thing of mine that is a comic book, a band, and music all in one. Last spring I started writing a full length movie script that I finally nailed down sometime in September. The plan was to write the script, make sure the story was solid, and then start drawing my little heart out. Now, it's a matter of finding the time to work on the comic pages in the middle of all of this client work. Originally, I tried to do the client work during the day, eat some dinner, and then do OilCan Drive at night. I did two days of that before I felt completely exhausted. I think it was just too much creative energy expended in too short a time. So, now I am working on it when I can.

One of the things I have been doing is creating the little bits and pieces I'll need for when the book comes out. Things like logos, book elements, and making sure the font sizes I am using can be read when they are shrunk down to print size. And, one of the things I decided to do was give my company logo, Plastic Spoon Press, an upgrade.

This is the third time I've designed this logo and I've been using the name since 1998 when I first put out Exit 6, my first self published comic book.

This time around I wanted the logo to have a bit of a retro look that would fit into the black and white style the new books will have. I like that it has a 50's record company look mixed with a roadside greasy diner sign. I think, looking at it now, that it's influenced by my trip last year to Sun Studios in Memphis. The circle, the arced letters, the spoon in the middle, I like it all. And, since I left the word "Press" off of the logo for design aspects (I just couldn't find a nice way to fit "press" in there without making it look off center), it helps create a logo that will not only look great on a comic book but also on a cd cover, t-shirt, or coffee mug.

So, now I can be Plastic Spoon Press, Plastic Spoon Publishing, Plastic Spoon Records, or Plastic Spoon Apparel. The skies the limit! Let the new Plastic Spoon age begin!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Change is Coming, but Work is Here Right Now

"Yes we can", "Change we need", "Change is Here"....yes, yes...all great...happy, happy...but, with all this change having come and with more on the way, I'm sure most of us still have a job to do that isn't going anywhere anytime soon. So, it's back to work.

Whew....I'm calling it a night after a long day of penciling. How do I know I had a long day of penciling? (other than the pile of pages next to my table right now?) I've found when I pencil that my right hand (I'm left handed) plants itself on my head between my forehead and hairline. So, when I've spent a day penciling like I have today, the right front side of my hair sticks straight up from my hand being in it all day. The higher it sticks up, the more I worked that day. And tonight, it's sticking STRAIGHT up.

I'd show you what I did today. I really would. And, I could blame it on work in progress or the client not wanting me to show it off or contractual stuff but...I just haven't scanned it yet and I'm too tired to do it tonight. So, I'll scan it in tomorrow. And then I can tell you I can't show it to you for contractual reasons :)

The job today was a new book for the Jake Maddox series of books for Stone Arch. The story deals with an emerging track star in middle school and, if my memory serves me, is the thirty fourth book I am doing for Stone Arch. I did find this nice POST from a school librarian through Stone Arch's own BLOG. Apparently they are pretty popular. Good thing, since I really enjoy working on them and don't want to stop anytime soon. The current contract will bring me to book number thirty six and I am in talks to sign another four book contract which would bring me to a nice round forty. I figure if I can hit fifty, that's a nice respectable number of books completed for someone who always wanted to work on children's books.

So, no new art tonight but I have been playing with and idea that my friend, Rob Kelly, has been doing. Once a week, he digs through his archives and posts a piece from days gone past. So, I may break open the old portfolios, stick my hand in, and see what I can pull out. I think that's a great idea and would be a lot of fun.

Oh, and the new thing I learned last night, which still blows my mind....did you know that if you plug a pair of headphones into a microphone input that the headphones actually become a microphone! Crazy! I read it online and figured, nah, there is no way this will work. But, I gave it a try and it actually works really well. Now, I just need to think of some applications where I can use it. Last night, I took a pair of the big old can headphones and wrapped each ear cup around the belly of my acoustic guitar. And, it worked. It recorded the guitar just great. It may have looked funny, but it worked. So, I'll have to play around a bit and see what I can come up with.

OK, off to watch a little hockey and then off to bed. I hope you had a great day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fond Memories

In the late fall of 1994, I had the chance to meet Will Eisner at a lecture he was giving in Washington DC. Will Eisner is considered one of the most important contributors to the comic book medium and for his leading role in establishing the graphic novel as a form of literature. I had driven for hours from northern New Jersey down to Washington DC by myself and sat in the auditorium to hear this legend speak about his work and his life.

On January 3rd, 2005, when I read Will Eisner had passed away, I cried.

I didn't cry because the industry had lost one of its founding fathers that meant so much to it. I didn't cry because of all he had accomplished and all that I'd miss now that he was gone. I didn't cry because it was what I was "supposed to do."

I cried because, while I was sitting there alone in an auditorium in Washington DC, Will Eisner walked up to the podium, looked out into the crowd, looked right at me, and smiled.

It was a warm, genuine, and comfortable smile. Not the smile of a man who was trying to sell you something or put one over on you. But, a confident, laid back, humble smile. The smile of a man who had done his best in life and fought his battles where he could. The smile of a man who, while he may not have made every right choice in life, was genuinely happy with who and where he was. It was the kind of smile that said, "it's OK, kid, I'm nervous too...but I've been here before and we'll get through this one together."

It's that smile I thought about when I heard Will Eisner had passed away.

And, it's that same smile I saw tonight on Barack Obama's face when he came to greet the crowd to accept his role as our newest leader.

"It's OK, kid, I'm nervous too...but I've been here before and we'll get through this one together."

Congratulations, Mr. President.

Done and Done

I just got back from the voting booth doing my civic duty for the day.

A friend of mine was amazed I hadn't already gotten out there and early voted (as we're allowed to do in Colorado). She thought I'd have to wait in long lines all day just to cast my vote.

But, I have a few things on my side. One, I can go vote at three in the afternoon when everyone is at work. One of the perks to working from home as a freelance artist. Two, the biggest lines I have seen were people doing the early voting. Last presidential election, right when I moved into my new place and had to re-register my car with new license plates, I had to pass a HUGE line of people waiting to early vote. My thinking is that there are fewer places to early vote so there is always a line and the people who are really dying to early vote will stay in that line so they can avoid the "long lines" come election day. But, on election day, there are many many more places where you can go to vote so, just playing the odds, there won't be as long a line.

So, how did I fair?

I walked over two buildings to the old folks home where I was told to vote, walked in, took a cookie, and only had to wait behind one guy who only took up time because he had no idea where he was supposed to vote, if he was registered, what district he was from, or why he was there. I have a feeling his girlfriend dragged him away from the Playstation, drove him down, and made him vote. It seems he would have been happier sitting it out this year.

So, yeah, one guy in the way, I flashed my ID, took my ballot, used my best artistic skill to fill in the little boxes fully, and walked out.

Done and done.

Now, back to penciling the newest kid's book while I await to watch the results tonight.

Hooray Democracy!


Today, Monday, felt like a day lost in limbo. Between the time change yesterday and the big election tomorrow, today felt like a day that got lost through the cracks. It got dark too early and everyone around me seemed very pensive and on edge.

My four day old pumpkin, at 2am, is still lit up outside on the porch. Even with Halloween a memory, I find it's natural orange glow very comforting. Of course, the squirrels have gotten to him a bit and he's missing his lid. I found a squirrel this afternoon had pulled it off and was gnawing away at it. I chased him off but when I got home tonight the pumpkin's top was nowhere to be found. I was hesitant to look over the edge since I was afraid I'd see one of my elderly neighbors three stories below knocked out with a pumpkin top lying beside them. Maybe I'll check tomorrow when the sun is up and I can see better. But, for now, the pumpkin's candle is still burning brightly inside and he's keeping his smile. So, that makes me feel good.

OK, off to bed and then up to vote. I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be one hell of a day.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Eek and Ack!

Ah, Sundays! I spent a nice quiet day drawing thumbnails for the newest Stone Arch book while watching both my beloved Denver Broncos and Colorado Avalanche get their butts kicked. I was hoping at least one of them would pull it out for a win but no such luck. Ah well.

Speaking of Stone Arch Books, one of the people I used have the pleasure to work with in regards to contracts and invoices was Blake Hoena (congrats on the move up the ladder, Blake! You'll be missed!) Blake, rightfully so, has been moved into more creative pastures within the company. I found out after doing a Google search for Stone Arch that Blake had a blog himself. It was there that I found out he was not only one of the office guys but he also wrote a lot of the books as well!

One of the series he has created is a book called "Eek and Ack". It's the story of alien siblings who, in a quest to fight off the boredom all kids face, try to destroy the Earth. Each book showcases the wacky plots the two come up with to wipe us all off the galactic map. From slinging living ooze at us to accidentally taking out Pluto (melting it so much in fact that it can barely be called a planet) they are always up to something.

So, for Blake and how great he's always been to me, I drew up one of his characters in my own style. Originally, as I was penciling it out, I tried to emulate the style of the artist who had worked on all of the books in the series. But, after a few failed attempts, I just started from scratch and designed the character how I would have if I had been offered the books. It might be a bit more scary looking than the books that are out there on the shelves but it was a lot of fun to design and draw!

So, thanks Blake, and good luck on your future endeavors!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Verdict is IN!

Whew! So, I uploaded the "Walk Away" song to a few online forums yesterday after I posted it to this blog. I was curious what people thought, if they thought anything.

The first response read:

"No offense, but it's terrible. The guitar is very repetitive. The drums are not precise, (I don't know if you were looking for that feel), and I hate your voice. Overall, it's nothing new."

Ouch, and that was actually the best example of someone giving me...ahem...constructive criticism. I like how people start things with the phrase "no offense", like that gets them off the hook for them telling you that you suck.

The next comment was from someone who's profile said he was a police officer:

"If I ever want to torture someone... I will tie them to a chair in a room alone and force them to listen to this until their ears bleed.. Lucky for them it will most likely be halfway through this song. F*%king Terrible. I'm pretty sure the sound of you smashing your guitar, which you should probably have done by now, would sound better than that trash."

Well, I guess I can look at that as a good thing. At least my song would keep this public servant from using water boarding as their torture device of choice. And, I'm sure Congress could more easily defend music as a means of gaining information than drowning someone. Maybe I should email it to the CIA.

"Wow, that's just f*%king bad. Not only are you a fanboy faggot, but you have no talent either."

I think, in this age of the internet, where people can hide behind a keyboard to spout off their opinions, you haven't REALLY made it until someone calls you a fag.

A few other quick comments include: "It kinda scares me", "That was crap", and "Not too great I'm afraid."

I've been trying to take the attitude of something Dave Sim, writer and artist of the self published comic book Cerebus, said when people told them they thought his work sucked. His response, "Well, I like it and I have to sit and stare at it all day so piss off."

I've been trying...and, sometimes it works...but, honestly, it still leaves a crappy feeling in the pit of my stomach. A feeling that makes me want to burn my guitars, chuck my drums out the window, and never speak again.

I took a drive to clear my head out and brought a burned CD of the song with me to take a listen to it. It took me about half an hour into the drive to put the CD into the player and have a listen. And honestly, after listening to it ten times in a row, I can hear some places in it that might need a few tweaks in the mixing but, overall, I like it.

So, I like it and I'm the one who has to sit and listen to it more times than anyone. So, piss off.

Of course, when I got home and checked another board I had posted the song on I received this comment from a kid in Nepal:

"Whoa man..this once is really nice...really really good nice..every things like so this one has HUGE potential..good lyrics..good music..good vocals..cheers!!!!"

So, at least someone in Nepal likes me! LOL