As a warm up this morning, I redrew and redesigned some characters I created for a children’s book that has (thus far) been given the thumbs down. In hindsight, the book doesn’t have the best story, but someday it may get revived and or reworked. No, the book was NOT going to be called “Let’s Get Scary.” I know that’s the territory of the movie Monsters Inc. This book Idea was going to be about a monster called Wall-E.
Fourteen years ago I worked at a pharmaceutical advertising agency in Manhattan. When I got on the G-train in Brooklyn that morning, I saw a woman I knew from Pratt. She was the first woman I remember seeing riding everywhere on a scooter. She was from Sweden, I think. After she sold her scooter, I noticed that a LOT of people were riding scooters. Businessmen were riding to work on them, and of course proto-hipsters were riding them to their favorite coffee shops.
We talked, and then we switched to different trains. I got out of the subway at 33d Street in Manhattan and noticed that the streets were mostly empty and quiet. Usually teenagers were hanging out waiting to go into the nearby school. As I walked to my work place I noticed workers hanging out in their trucks listening to the radio. I did think I heard something about an airplane hitting the World Trade Center.
By the time I got to work everyone was trying to get a TV to work. Way back in 2001 not everyone and every work place had WiFi. Rumors circulated that part of a tower fell, and maybe another plane hit the other tower. We eventually found out the reality of the situation when the one television in the office finally got a fuzzy signal.
One of the executives, an executive who usually spent his time yelled at people and who I had no respect for, told everyone to sit tight and let him know if we “needed anything.” It was easy to see he was putting on a fairly false veneer of the caring “fearless leader.” I got my bag and left the building.
I headed uptown in what was a parade of people who, like me, decided to start walking home. Buses and subways were not running. I headed across the Queensboro Bridge with a large mass of like minded people. The woman next to me was in a dress but wore no shoes. We were all fairly quiet and continually glanced back towards downtown and the large plume of smoke.
In Brooklyn the G-train was not running, but an empty bus showed up at it’s designated stop. The mass of people in the street swarmed around the bus door. The driver opened the door, stood there preventing anyone from entering and said, “I have to go use the bathroom first!” I thought moaning and complaining would ensue, but everyone just stood there quietly as she walked away.
A military jet screamed across the sky.
I didn’t know where this particular bus went, just that it was headed for my part of Brooklyn. When the driver came back from the bathroom I managed to get on. Just like the walk on the bridge, everyone remained mostly silent. When I saw familiar streets I got off, and walked another few miles in what I remember being a cool crisp day.
Now, I visit the new One World Trade Center just about every week in order to have 98 percent of my cartoon submission rejected by the New Yorker. I show my I.D. and security scans my little bag full of cartoon gags. They take a grainy picture of me that makes me look like a criminal. On the 38th floor, we get a great view from the cartoonist waiting room. We usually have a lot of laughs.
It has come
to management’s attention
the lobby flowers and pot
was removed from the lobby
at approximately 1:36 pm
on Tuesday January 20th
This was confirmed by
building’s security camera the
person entered elevator
from the 12th floor at
proceeded to lobby, removed
flowers and exited
through back door.
If you have any information
on this person
Usually when I warm up my fingers in the morning, it’s in the service of drawing something completely ridiculous. Not so today! Today, my warm up drawings honor the annual Cat Fashion Day Festival! You probably forgot all about it didn’t you?! Well, I remembered! See you all at the festival this weekend.
Summer usually means vacation, but I seem to be more busy than usual this month of July. So busy that I couldn’t finish composing the theme song I intended for today’s post. It would have been great! Trust me! I don’t even have time to write a post that is more than a few tweets long. All I can do I pull another rejected New Yorker cartoon from my hundreds of rejected cartoons and post it here in place of a meaningfully written post. Maybe my life will have meaning next week.
Thursday I took Stella, my dog, to the Vet for routine vaccinations and blood work. She lost half a pound and seems in good health for those who care! Everyone else seemed to be having a bad day though.
As I sat down in the waiting room while my dog was in the back getting blood draw, I was instantly hit by a fairly powerful smell. Looking down I saw the cause right between my feet. “Excuse me.” I said to the receptionist. “Someone left a poop here on the floor.” I said indicating that it wasn’t me who did it.
She was very sorry and came out to clean it up as a woman with a small dog arrived wearing torn pants and in obvious pain. On the way to the vet, she had fallen on the sidewalk and cut her knee as well as hurting her arm.
“I’m just happy I didn’t fall on my dog” She said before asking for band aids. The vet tech came out with bandages and alcohol wipes for her wounds. She often dropped these items and I had to help her here and there as her one hand hurt. She blessed me.
Then another woman arrived, crying and telling the receptionist that her dog had diarrhea. I wondered what the crying was about as dogs often have diarrhea (and yes diarrhea CAN drive one to tears). She was soon on the phone and telling a friend that her dog had diarrhea in her cousin’s house and he kicked her dog. She is living there temporarily as she just moved here for a job. The dog was active and appeared in good spirits.
“God will sort those people out.” The woman we had just patched up told her, but this wasn’t advice that would help with the current situation. Sadly none of us had any solutions for her situation as more people showed up with their dogs. One 13 year old dog with a tumor the size of a soft ball on his leg. Finally, Stella came out, overjoyed that she was free. Stella, being a cute small dog, then endures many people asking what type of dog she is, can they pet her, and re enactments of the “STELLA!” line from ‘A Street Car Named Desire.’ Yes, everyone does that. Every. Time. They. Meet. Her. I told the woman with the cut knee that I hoped she recovers okay and she assured me she would. We both wished the other woman who’s dog had been kicked good luck with her situation. We both wished we could help more so, but we had no real solution for her.
And…as for something completely different, just so you have something to look at, yes I’m drawing pirates again. I can’t tell you why, who or what for, but this is a little peek at a what is a whole boat load of them!
As I can now talk about the Dark Horse Presents story called ‘Brooklyn Blood’ I’m working on with Paul Levitz, and I’m teaching a Summer Residency in sequential art at SVA this summer, I thought my Friday post could be about just a small teeny tiny bit of my process. Where the class I teach is mostly concerned with telling a story, making that story clear on the page, using panel layout to guide the eye, finding that story inside of you that haunts you and causes you a small bit of metal pain when you dig it up (yes we did that in my very first class), I thought I’d post something a little more basic here. How I draw a comic page! Or part of a page. Note that what you see below is just the bottom third of a page from the upcoming ‘Brooklyn Blood.’ We’ll skip the writing part as Paul did that.
Step A: After I read the script I draw several thumbnails with a black marker. I throw most of them away in disgust. You see here the thumbnail I settled on. Then I scan this winning thumbnail into the computer and place it in page template (the template being the correct proportions that it will be when printed).
Step B: I draw the rough pencils on a Cintiq (if you don’t know what a Cintiq is just hit the Googles). If you don’t have a Cintiq, many people use a light box to draw finished pencils on top of the blown up thumbnail which you can enlarge on a copy machine or computer.
Step C: Then I get back out of the computer by printing out a blue line version of the pencils on Bristol board. Blue line because I can now ink it in the real world with black ink, and when I scan it back into Photoshop, the blue line will not show up in the scan, only the black lines show up.
Step D: You can ink using a Cintiq also, but I still like using messy ink and brush or pen or wooden sticks. I personally like making marks on real paper. Too much work in the computer ends up putting me to sleep.
Step E: I scan the final black and white art back into the computer and on a separate layer from the black art in Photoshop, I add the colors! I also add the word balloons early on in the process because that does affect where the reader’s eye goes, but for this brief art example, I left that bit out! And there you have it. The exciting, amazing secrets of an illustrator! I just now see that I wrote “step A” in the text, and “Part A” on the art. That’s called a mistake. I make many of those! It’s part of the process.
Humor. Who likes it? Everyone for the most part. Who likes my humor? Not everyone. If you read any of my social media, you know I’ve sold my first cartoon to the New Yorker recently, The Mount Everest of cartooning by some people’s standards. But nobody is more surprised by this turn of events than me. My history with humor is filled with love, hate, confusion and once in a very rare while a few laughs. I’ll skip the hate and confusion of my childhood and move on to the few laughs of adulthood. I know I mentioned “love” too, but that was just a lie to give this essay some sort of hope.
Thus, we start in the 90’s. Even though the syndicated comic strip was already on it’s long slow death spiral, a friend (who wishes to remain anonymous) and I decided to harness our humor powers and submit a comic strip called ‘Heads Hollow’ to the syndicates. Thus, we wrote and drew 24 ‘gags’ and sent off our strip to every syndicate we knew of. I thought it was a masterpiece of comedy. Today, I still have all the rejection letters (and some hate mail) we received from said syndicates. Full of sadness, but undaunted, I then sent out a post card to all all the places that bought cartoons and or humor. I got ONE response back from new Nickelodeon Magazine editor, Chris Duffy. Nickelodeon Magazine liked my humor! Or Chris did at least and bought many semi humorous comics from me. Encouraged by this turn of events, I then created my own single panel gag cartoon and sent them off to the syndicates. Again, I still have all the rejection letters (and a few cease & desist letters) that the syndicates sent me.
Years later, and now living in NYC, I again felt that being funny could earn me some extra bucks, and found myself working at a humorous greeting card company. This company (which wishes to remain anonymous) only publishes greeting cards with photos of cute animals on the front with a funny line on the inside. Our job was to brainstorm funny lines to match up with cute animal pictures. I never sold a single idea the entire time I worked there. Although, I did think I had some genius ideas! Like my idea of a card with a photo of a black cat taking a bath in milk with the tag line: ‘I’m ready for my close up, Annie Leibovitz’s! Have a purrrrfect Birthday! Whoopi!’ Or my idea for a picture of baby ducks having accidents in little toy cars with the tag line: ‘There’s been a quack up on the I-50 north! Speaking of 50 and baby ducks, Happy 50th birthday baby!’ Despite the fact that I enjoyed their unlimited free bagels and laughing at my own jokes while they stared at me blankly, I eventually left that job simply to avoid being fired. In this internet age, I tried my hand at my own on line comic ‘Brother Sasquatch’ which got 50-60 hits at the most on any given day. A failure? I never got any hate mail for that strip so…yes, a failure by today’s standards.
I won’t bore you with the New Yorker story (just yet). If you’re reading this you probably know that for that one cartoon that made it into the magazine, I have hundreds of rejected cartoons. The cartoon up at the top is one of the very first of my New Yorker cartoons to be rejected. I have posted other New Yorker rejects previously, before I was willing to admit ‘who’ was rejecting them. You can see them here, and here. I leave you with one more rejected cute animal greeting card idea. Picture of a couple of little ducks at a dinner table which is covered in various types of crackers. Inside of card says,”Don’t go quackers on your anniversary! HILARIOUS!