Thursday, April 30, 2009


While doing a quick search on Ebay this morning I came across something that is pretty unique.

An Oil Can Guitar.

Some guy had the time and ingenuity to build something like this out in his garage! And, not only does it look totally unique, it even plays well.

He went so far as to post a YouTube video of himself playing his creation.

And, as the YouTube video states, this guitar is up for auction on Ebay.

So, what do you think? Does OilCan Drive need an Oil Can Guitar?

EDIT: After watching the OilCan Guitar I went into this guys YouTube videos and found he also makes guitars out of cigar boxes. The way the neck of this guitar is set up and the way it sounds just blows my mind.

I want to make a guitar!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

OilCan Drive - It Ain't Me, Babe! - Part 2

Here is the original black and white and color art I created for the OilCan Drive CD cover.

I figured it might be nice to see how it originally looked before I threw it on the cover and distressed and aged the whole package.

This art is also the first time I've drawn the band together in one piece since I can't remember when. It felt good to "have them all in the same room" as it were. I definitely need to do more pieces like this and my notebook has more than a few sketch ideas in it where the band is all together and either posing for the shot or just having a good time. I can't wait to flesh those ideas out into finished pieces.

Also, like the last song I did last fall, "Walk Away", I posted the OilCan Drive version of Bob Dylan's song onto a few music forums. Where "Walk Away" got reactions like "you suck", "your song makes my ears bleed", and "why don't you just break your instruments, already?", "It Ain't Me, Babe" was met with mostly resounding silence. The most critical comment I got is that they didn't like my version simply because they liked the original too much. One site I posted it on got no comments at all. So, go figure...

And here I was looking forward to more "you suck!" comments. As much as those get under your skin I had planned to promote OilCan Drive's first album with quotes like that. I think there are far too many "this music will change your LIFE" comments out there trying to describe new music. A description filled with "critics say this band is the worst thing you're likely to hear this year. They should just smash there instruments right now and save us the bleeding ears. If you like good music, please, for your own sake, don't hit the button to the left and listen to this band's music!" would be refreshing.

A description like that I can't imagine anyone NOT pushing the button to hear what it sounds like.

So, yeah, I'm kind of dissapointed that no one really hated it. But, there is always next time.

Monday, April 27, 2009

It's the Small Things

Finally someone has mixed my loves of quirky British drama, underdog outcasts, midgets, choirs, and Blink 182 all in one place.

Ladies and Gentleman, I give you various clips from BBC's "All the Small Things"

(by the way, if anyone finds this on DVD you now know what to give me for Christmas!)

And, one of my favorite of the main characters talking about his love of Tom Delonge from Blink 182. Who comes up with a show like this???

Friday, April 24, 2009

From The Vault - OilCan Drive 2001

I figured I'd keep in the theme of OilCan Drive for this installment of "From the Vault".

These were the three sketch pages I put in the back of the first OilCan Drive book I "published" back in 2001. And, when I say "published" I mean printed out at Kinkos and pretty much gave away to anyone who wanted one.

The purpose of these pages was to try and explain where OilCan Drive had come from. I conceived the idea in early 2001 and this hodge podge of art is some of the first images of my cartoon band. Each page pretty much speaks for itself, as I put little blurbs of information next to the drawings and sketches. Click on any one of them to enlarge and read for yourself.

Looking back now I can see how far I've come as an artist. I cringe while looking at some of the facial structures and proportions of the characters. But, I guess when the day comes and I look back at my old stuff and find I HAVEN'T gotten better then that's the day I should give it all up.

Still, the initial idea and concept for this band is sound and I love it to this day. It's brought a whole new world of characters to run around in my head, has me playing guitar, plucking bass, hitting drums, writing songs, and trying to figure out how to sing. This band brought music into my life and I thank them every day for it. I don't know where I'd be today if not for these characters and what they've shown me.

But, geez...looking at the drawings...thank the Heavens above that someone out there was willing to give me illustration work and a viable career. Looking back, I just don't see it. Thank God someone out there did.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

OilCan Drive - It Ain't Me, Babe!

Cover songs are always fun to do. You don't have to worry about coming up with the lyrics or song arrangements or chord changes or anything like that. You just have to figure out how to make an already great song your own.

One of the first things I did when I finished up the last round of Stone Arch kid's books was to set my sites on, yet again, the OilCan Drive project. I didn't want to just jump right into a huge project so I decided the band doing a cover song would be a nice way to ease myself back into the project.

Doing Bob Dylan covers are always a blast. His songs are always rock solid while at the same time simple enough to interpret parts in your own way. Doing "It Ain't Me, Babe" appealed to me for two simple reasons. One, I like the part at the end of the chorus where the line turns around and says, "it ain't me you're looking for, BABE..." right at the point where the musical phrase goes back to the one. And second, honestly, it was just too much fun to try and scream out, "NO NO NO" in as rock and roll a voice as I could muster.

The packaging for the final burned CD was a punk rock do-it-yourself project unto itself. Not only did I design the CD package to look like a well loved, beaten up, product but I like the actual design of the package itself. This was simple a piece of 11x17 cardstock that I printed, trimmed, flded up and then double stick taped together. For something that came out of a regular copy machine, the cover is something I'm really proud of. It doesn't get much more punk rock than sitting at a table for hours folding up your own packaging.

So, here for those of you who haven't heard it yet and those of you who I sent a CD but were too afraid to open up the nice plastic shrink wrap on it is OilCan Drive's live version of Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me, Babe":

And, if the embedded version above doesn't work, the direct link to the song can be found HERE.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Elizabeth Gilbert

I found this tonight over at

While I admit I don't know who Elizabeth Gilbert is or anything about the wonderful book she wrote, listening to her talk about creativity and how to celebrate the days when inspiration comes and survive the dark days when it doesn't is really worth twenty minutes of your time.

Just some great advice that I really took to heart.

Friday, April 17, 2009

From the Vault: EXIT 6 1997, 1989

In 1997 I self published a book called EXIT 6.

It was the story of two kids, Keith Howard and Courtney McKay. They were your average, every day kind of people. Except Keith was a vampire and his family of vampires had kidnapped Courtney's younger brother.

Hey, in this day and age you have to meet new friends somehow.

The series ran for three issues before I ran out of money and had to stop production. A fourth issue was completed and a fifth was fully pencilled but they never saw the light of day (ha ha vampire joke).

I had the initial idea for EXIT 6, or, what was then called "Keith Howard - Vampire" (I know, I know...with catchy titles like that how have I not won a Pulitzer yet?), when I was seventeen years old. It took me three years of art school, years as an assistant artist, more years working for Marvel Comics, and then a two month drive across the country to Boulder, Colorado before I'd finally get the story out there and into the hands of the public.

But, I finally got that first issue done and printed and put it out into the world.

And, the result?

Looking back on it now it's probably not as bad as it seemed at the time,. But, at the time, it felt like I had ultimately failed at a dream I had held for ten years. I had put a book out there into the world and, somehow, I hadn't become and overnight success.

Oh, I had some really nice people say some really nice things. I was considered for an Eisner Award but missed being nominated by just a little bit. I was nominated for the Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award, which was a great honor, but lost to another artist.

And, as for the sales? They just weren't there.

Like I said, looking back now it probably wasn't as bad as it seemed. Of course, I can look back now as a guy who has made a decent living as an artist, has a condo bought with money made from art, and a great woman in his life who thinks he's as talented as the day is long. But, back then I couldn't see the things I have now out on the horizon.

I only knew that I gave the dream my best shot and it didn't work. But, I'm still glad I gave it my all. I'd rather go through this life knowing I tried and failed than wonder what would have happened because I never tried at all.

I'm not sure if I'll ever revisit EXIT 6 or the characters in those pages. They lived with me for over ten years before I finally put them to rest. Maybe, in ten more years, I'll be ready to see if they have any new stories to tell me.

Here are a few of the first sketches I ever did of Keith Howard in a large, oversized art pad that I used to drag to school. I was seventeen years old. I still can't believe the way I drew back then. Oh, if only I knew what the world had in store for me!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More Pages from the OilCan Drive Script

These are the last two pages I ended up finishing before I had to abandon the hundreds and hundreds of pages long graphic novel for OilCan Drive.

The third page in the book transitioned from Ryan telling the interviewer his story and right into a story about a long dead rock star who was a voice for his generation.

Of course I was channeling a bit of my love for Kurt Cobain into this page. Over the last few years I've read a number of biographies of Cobain and, each time, I hope the ending of the new book gets better than the last one.

But, of course, it never does. It always ends bad.

So, I figured, in my world, maybe Cobain faked his own death and was living out in the middle of the desert somewhere. Just biding his time, living his life, and waiting for a couple of up and coming rock and roll brats to find him.

This page was a bit of back story in order to set up those future pages.

And, in this page, one which I couldn't wait to get to, I featured Ryan Burke and Vincent Spicer's assault on a military held radio blimp. In the future, the military controls the airwaves and the only way for an up and coming musician to get their music featured is to actually do "pirate radio" one better and actually take over one of these blimps.

It was also a great chance to do the typical "hero shot" as the smoke clears and our heroes are seen in action for the first time.

So, out of three hundred or so pages I wound up with a grand total of four done. Oh, there are more penciled pages that are laying around the studio but only four of them got the finishing touch.

But, fear not, OilCan Drive is still alive and kicking. Just in a different form.

On to bigger and better things.

Friday, April 10, 2009

From the Vault: X-Men Trading Cards 2 2000

I figured, this Friday, I'd wrap up the X-Men cards I inked.

Honestly, it's an easy out. You know the story and if you don't scroll down two posts and catch yourself up.

This round of cards featured X-Men favorites Gambit, Beast, Toad, Bishop, Lady Deathstrike, Marrow, and Juggernaut.

OK, enough with Marvel work. Next week we're on to Exit 6, the first book I self published back in 1998. Be here in one week!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

OilCan Drive Update

Some kind of cold-sickness-bug has had me down for the past week or so.

It's been one of those colds where it's not so bad that it keeps you bed-ridden but it makes it really hard to do much more than sit on the couch and watch movies. But, last night it broke and I went out for a bike ride to get my legs moving once again. This morning, other than the sniffles, I felt better than I had in a week. So, things are looking up.

The last we heard about OilCan Drive I had decided to put it on the back burner for a while. I had written a full length 120 page movie style script for a story and had planned on drawing it out as one long graphic novel. Of course, 120 pages of written word, I found out, translates to about 250-300 pages of drawn comic book pages. With no down time on the horizon, I had to put the book down and focus on the paying work.

But, around Christmas, I had a week or so off and, as my head cleared, I thought about what I enjoyed about the concept of OilCan Drive and what I'd really like to do with it. I decided to push back all the comments and game plans I had heard from other people about what I should do with the project and tried to really focus on what made me the happiest. Not if it would sell or not, not to try and gain the approval of some faceless critic, and not to follow what people said "would work".

Just what would make me happy.

So, with some down time on my hands I've begun working again on the OilCan Drive project.

And, while I'm not ready to reveal the plans I have yet I do have a bunch of pages I drew from the graphic novel, movie script idea.

This two page sequence was the initial lead-in to the story. I always liked the idea of an introduction of some sort and the idea of Ryan sitting behind a table in a dark room being grilled about his past seemed a nice way to do that. It gave the reader a quick glimpse of things to come and a few story questions.

These pages also were a first for me in that I was trying to duplicate things I had done in the past by hand with the new digital medium. Photoshop makes it easy enough to do anything you want to do to a piece of artwork. But, in this book, I wanted to give myself rules and limitations. I wanted it to look like I had cut zip-a-tone shading film and spattered ink across the page with a toothbrush. I wanted it grittier than most polished artwork you see out there these days.

So, if nothing else, I learned some new ways to do old things from the first few initial pages of the OilCan Drive graphic novel. And, you can bet I'll be using those lessons in the new project. And, I have a few more pages from this book so I'll post them soon enough.

For now, back to work...

Friday, April 3, 2009

From The Vault : X-Men Trading Cards 2000

When I left New Jersey and moved to Colorado in early 1996 the color work I had done for Marvel all but dried up. I don't think it's that I moved as much as the industry was changing from fully painted airbrush work to digital color on the computer. And, in 1996, I wasn't quite ready to make that change.

I still did some airbrush work here and there for Marvel but nothing like the steady work I had done in the years before.

So, in 2000, I must have needed money because I made a few of those rare calls where you go through your address book and call anyone that is able to throw some work your way.

Luckily, Mike Thomas, an editor and all around great guy I had worked with years before, picked up the phone. Mike knew I had done a self published comic book in the years since I had left Marvel and offered me some inking work.

Given my circumstances, I'm sure I politely accepted, hung up the phone, and then did a victory dance around the room.

So, here are few of the pieces I inked for an X-Men trading card game that was being released to coincide with the new X-Men live action movie.

The penciler of the work, David Tata, did some really great tight pencil work so it made inking these pieces a breeze. We talked a bit over emails and he was really happy with the work I had done over him. He even wanted me to be his regular inker for the rest of the cards.

Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. Marvel was in a serious state of flux at the time (I think they were still fighting themselves out of bankruptcy) and Mike Thomas was let go while I was doing this project.

And the new guy must not have liked me at all because this is the last work I ever did for Marvel Comics. Out of the fifteen or so editors I had worked with at Marvel, Mike Thomas was the last guy I knew up there.

Now, he was gone, too.

But, it was a great run. So, thank you Mike, thank you Dave, and thank you Marvel. For a kid who grew up loving Spider-Man, to actually work at Marvel was a dream come true.

But, there are always other dreams...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Down Time

With the last few weeks free from client work the personal work is slowly rearing it's ugly head.

More information soon...