Wednesday, April 23, 2014


This collection of Nazgul art seems to have taken on a life of it's own. I've loved every single piece in the collection, and I have a short list of artists who I plan on asking for a commission when I can scrape together the funds. Those two things came together recently when Aeron Alfrey, a brilliant maker of monsters, contacted me after having heard about the collection. Aeron was one of the artists at the top of that short list, so the timing could not have been better. I feel like I know Aeron's art fairly well, having been a big fan of his work for years now, but even with that familiarity his Witch-king surprised me. Aeron is deeply committed to the monstrous and the brutal, and that is evident in this awesome painting of the Witch-king of Angmar on his fell beast. This is just a scan, the actual painting looks much much better with deeper more sinister blacks and even bloodier reds. I will take a photo of it once it is hanging in my Hall of Nazgul (it's at the framing shop now).

This will be cross-posted in the blog's dedicated page The World's Largest Personal Collection of Nazgul Art as well as my Nazgul art tumblr All Nazgul All The Time.

Title: Witch-king of Angmar
Artist: Aeron Alfrey


The fourth of Calvino's 55 Invisible Cities, and my second contribution to the project is Zaira, pictured below. You can see the work of Joe Kuth and Leighton Connor, the other two artists working on this project, at our tumblr Seeing Calvino.

The challenge with drawing Zaira was to find a way to visually show the relationship of architecture to events that take place in, on and around that architecture over time in a manner which is both complex and recognizable. I struggled with this one, but I am quite pleased with the result.

Title: Zaira

10 inches by 8 inches
ink on watercolor paper
April 20, 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

SKETCHBOOKS: moleskine 002

Two of the four legs of my recent flights to and from California were on a very small plane. I was flying alone and had the window seat, which resulted in me feeling pressed against the cold plastic wall of a tubular prison miles above the earth. It was unpleasant. So I drew these to pass the hours and help relieve some of the stress.


About a week and a half ago, I was on a panel at S.P.A.C.E., the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, in Columbus, Ohio. The subject of the panel was the tools and techniques artists and cartoonists employ in the creation of their work. Each artist was asked to bring some material to do a live demo, but since so much of what I use is wet media that takes a while to dry and does not always travel well, I worked on my two demos the evening before and simply showed them, along with some of the found paper and other media I use, while discussing the process. The two pieces were, of course, images of Moby Dick, and are pictured below.

Title: Moby Dick (self)

23.25 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
April 11, 2014

Title: Moby Dick (blood)

15.5 inches by 10.75 inches
acrylic paint and ink on found paper
April 11, 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014

SKETCHBOOKS: moleskine 002

This was the original idea I had for my drawing of the Creeper (posted here) for the Character Wednesday tumblr. I like it, but I am glad I went in a different direction.


For a group art tumblr (open to all) that I am a part of called Character Wednesday.

Title: CreepCreepCreeper

8 inches by 10 inches
ink and marker on watercolor paper
April 17, 2014

And this is how the Creeper looks in the comics.

It's over.

Almost. There is one more appearance yet, as a Featured Author at the Ohioana Book Festival on May 10th, but for the most part it's over. In the last five weeks, I have visited four colleges and one small press comic and art show, and logged nearly 7000 miles of travel. It's been astonishing, thrilling, exhausting, strange and hilarious. But it's over and in some ways that is nice. I am very very tired. I missed my wife a lot. And I missed being at the drawing table. I managed to get a fair amount done in spite of the travel, but over the last month I realized that all of this travel was taking me away from what I love to do the most, what I am best at, and what I really deeply care about, which is making art. So, once the Ohioana Festival is over on May 10th, it will be a long summer of making lots and lots of art.

I understand that many of you who visit this site do so to see art, and I appreciate you sticking with me through all of these travels and posts about travel and photos of travel. It means a lot. But for a good long time now, it's just going to be a lot of art. A lot.

On the road...

So on Wednesday April 16 I left snowy Ohio to fly to Monterey, California. Confused by that first part? April 16 and snowy Ohio? Well, take a look at the weather the day before I flew to California?

No, really. Take a look. This is APRIL.

I knew that where I was going in California wasn't necessarily going to be hot, but anything had to be better than snow in Ohio, where we had been dealing with cold weather for almost 6 months straight. It was wonderful to arrive at my hotel, look out the balcony window, and see the view below. A cool, misty day in the mid-60s and a view of the Pacific Ocean and a bay clustered with masts.

It's almost as if the hotel was meant for my visit. It was called the Portola Hotel and Spa and it's logo was the tale of whale. Perfect!

I was also quite fond of the upholstery on the chairs in the massive hotel lobby.

I was very very busy this time around, so I did not get to take many photos at all. I did catch a few quick ones wandering around near the hotel before my Thursday evening talk.

For lunch my host from Monterey Peninsula College, Professor David Clemens, took me on a long drive to show me what Monterey and the surrounding area looks like and to give me a bit of history. Here is where I should have been taking dozens of photos but honestly, I was so awestruck by the incredible beauty of the place all I could do was stare. The photo below is not my own, but this is a photograph of the Monterey coastline and a good representative of what I saw from Dr. Clemens' car window. Absolute and stunning beauty, everywhere I looked.

Finally, it was time for my presentation. I had been invited by the College to be a speaker in their Great Books Program, which was a humbling honor. Moby-Dick is most certainly a great book, but to think that even in a tangential way my own Moby-Dick in Pictures is a great book still thrills me. It also thrills me to see my name and my work on posters like this. I am building quite a collection of these now!

And this display of my work in the Monterey Peninsula College library. Very cool.

I think someone was laughing a bit as I took this photo, but I don't get to see this kind of thing too often at all so it seemed necessary to preserve this memory.

Professor Clemens, in addition to having an impressive collection of work from other artists, owns a number of my own original pieces as well from both Moby-Dick and Heart of Darkness. He was kind enough to bring these beautifully framed pieces along for the presentation. Seeing my work again like this is always a moving experience. I am very attached to my art and every illustration, no matter the content, is like an old friend. It was good to see these again.

A good friend of mine, Sally (more on her below), took a quick photo of me giving my talk. There was a great crowd of students, faculty, the college president, and a contingent from the legendary Monterey Bay Aquarium. Speaking to them all was a little nerve-wracking, but a great honor.

And here I am drawing in Sally's book. Sally and I worked together at Barnes & Noble many years ago. I hadn't seen her in quite a long time, but we had never really fallen completely out of touch. It was awesome to see her again and to meet her husband Dan and her new baby daughter.

Speaking of which, here is her 6 month old daughter wearing a Moby-Dick onesie. The perfect way to cap off a wonderful experience in Monterey.

In the last 5 weeks I have visited 4 different colleges. At every single one I have been treated with extraordinary kindness and friendship, and Monterey Peninsula College was no different. Many thanks are due to the College, to Professor David Clemens for inviting me to be a part of the Great Books Program, and to the students, faculty and staff for making my time there such a pleasurable one.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New art at the Invisible Cities / Seeing Calvino tumblr

The third member of the triumvirate, Leighton Connor, has posted his first illustration and the third of Calvino's Invisible Cities, Dorothea. Head over to our tumblr Seeing Calvino to see Leighton's work.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Join me at Monterey Peninsula College on Thursday

Friends in California and on the West Coast, please join me at 7pm on Thursday April 17 in the Sam Karas Room at Monterey Peninsula College for a conversation about my visual exploration of Moby-Dick. I am very honored to be a guest of the college as part of their Great Books Program. The event runs from 7pm to 9pm, which should leave time for plenty of questions as well as lots of drawing in people's books. You can find more information at this link. Hope to see you there!

Monday, April 14, 2014

S.P.A.C.E. 2014 - the evidence

This year's Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, or S.P.A.C.E., was maybe the most enjoyable show I have ever experienced as an exhibitor. This wasn't due to sales although I did quite well, selling out of Heart of Darkness and almost out of Moby-Dick in Pictures. It was a great show because it seemed like all of those tentative hellos and contacts and brief conversations I have had at past events all reached critical mass this year and I started friendships with quite a few artists whose work I have admired for a very long time. I think that for the first time ever at a show, I really felt like part of a bigger scene, which was a good feeling to have.

I took some photos so while some of these may come across like inside jokes, this, for me, was S.P.A.C.E. 2014. Here I am at my table. Thanks to table mate and good friend Joe Kuth for this one.

I would truly be nowhere without my constantly amazing wife, who is a partner in everything I do and the best friend a person could have. She cheerfully sits through these long long events with me, helping in a million ways, and always makes the hours better.

Here's Joe, taking a photo of his own table. I liked the Fin Fang Foom shirt. A lot.

Joe, my wife and I were fortunate enough to share two tables with the fascinating and brilliant J.T. Dockery and Liz Valasco. We've decided we may have started a tradition here so hopefully we can continue it again and again.

Tom Williams is one of the highlights of S.P.A.C.E. Every year. This is perhaps the best indicator of why.

Most of the rest of my good friends in Panel were there representing as well. From left to right in this image, writer Dara Naraghi, artist Brent Bowman, artist Craig Bogart, and writer / artist Tony Goins.

Another shot of, from left to right, handsome Dara, Brent looking oddly serious, and Craig probably in mid-sentence.

Joe and my wife, deep in conversation about...something. Probably Mya's chicken sliders, which were lunch.

Quick shot of my table. Art, books and zines, all for sale. I'm very proud of what I have made.

Another photo by Joe. At shows like this, I have time to really do more elaborate drawings in people's books. This is the beginning of an almost fully complete Queequeg in a copy of my Moby-Dick in Pictures.

For a long time now I have been really digging the art of Grixly, also known as Nate McDonough. He came over to my table and we got to talking about old issues of Heavy Metal magazine and before we knew it, we were friends. I really dig this guy, love his art, and am glad we connected. Check out his tumblr and follow along, he does some great great work.

John Porcellino and his Spit and a Half distro are tireless in their support of comics all over the world, it seems. Having John as a regular at S.P.A.C.E. has been a great thing, and John is every bit as cool, genuine, warm and easy to talk to you as you might imagine. Here he is, pondering something.

Nate Powell has become a regular as well, which is fantastic. Behind him you can see an exhibition of his original art, which was a cool addition to the show.

For the last 4 or 5 years now, Adina and Ivana, sisters from northern Ohio near where I used to live, have been coming to visit me at the show. They've got a ton of my original art and I really look forward to seeing them every spring. I finally got to take a photo of them, and it was awesome to see them again.

Lauren came by to give me a copy of her minicomic, collected from her tumblr True Life Comix, which I absolutely love. They are these perfect and perfectly odd little zen-like slices of life that are instantly compelling and surprisingly memorable.

This year I was on a panel, which was cool. The panel was about the tools artists and cartoonists use to create their art, so it was interesting to compare my process, much of which involves repurposing found paper and working very intuitively, with the masterfully executed colored colored pencil work of Scott Kraynak (on the right), the more traditional black and white pen and ink work of Pam Bliss (center) and the hybrid work of moderator Tyrell Cannon (far left).

Each artist was able to demo some of their process which could be seen by the attendees on this screen behind us. The camera view was over the shoulder of the artist, but I found it kind of compelling to take a photo of myself taking that photo. So I did it.

Okay, I've talked to these guys...Fred Frances on the left, Mike Madsen on the right...for just a few minutes each year at S.P.A.C.E. And each year my affection for them has grown. This year, I made it a point to spend some time really getting to know them and I'm glad I did. They are great great guys with some killer art and comics. Really genuinely good people, and I'm honored to call them friends. They just started this Cowboy House Correspondence Club where subscribers get a new comic from them every month for 6 months. You can, and should, get in on that action right here. I paid in full at the show and got my first installment already. Good stuff.

Fred and Mike are two of the four members of Cowboy House International, and a third member, Pretty Jeff, was there as well. I did get to chat with Jeff briefly, although I didn't snag a pic. He's a little quiet but also a real good egg. In the absence of a photo of the real Pretty Jeff, this simulacra will have to do. We shared a moment. Fred and Mike can attest to that.

Day one of the show ended and it was off to dinner with good friends old and new. Here is the unbearably sexy Dara Naraghi awaiting his meal.

Joe Kuth, on the left, barely looks like himself here. Craig Bogart looks pretty much right on.

My lovely wife, happy because food is on the way. I'm not sure if I should mention the other woman there because she really hates having her photo taken.

After dinner, which Tom Williams REALLY enjoyed.

Day two of S.P.A.C.E. dawned, and it was a pleasure to see Panel-mates Sean McGurr (left) and Tim McClurg (right). We talked about comics and who the Cleveland Browns should draft. I hope they can snag Sammy Watkins.

One of the best photos I have ever taken. That is Ken Eppstein of Nix Comics on the left, Andy Bennett on the right.

DEFINITELY the best photo I have ever taken. And Ken's hand never leaves the pocket!

Tom Williams, tuning out!

For this drawing, I was specifically asked to depict the scene at the end of Moby-Dick when the Pequod goes down, Tashtego hammering a bird's wing to the mast as the ship disappears. It was surprisingly difficult, but I think I pulled it off.

Wandering around the show a bit here. I stopped off at Nate McDonough's table and he showed me this page from his sketchbook. On the left is one of the heads from the Saints and Sinners sculpture I took a few photos of when I visited Oakland University last week, and on the right is Angus Scrimm, the Tall Man, from the movie Phantasm. Awesome work.

Jeremy Baum is an artist whose work I first discovered last year, but was instantly fascinated with. I was able to talk to him very briefly then, but this year we spent a little more time getting to know one another. He is an admirer of Heart of Darkness so it was an honor to get a copy of my illustrated version into his hands. Jeremy's art is complex and compelling and highly recommended and you can dig deeper in this recent piece on his art by blogger Rob Clough. Here is Jeremy at his table.

J.T. Dockery was kind enough to let me experiment with his rapidograph, a pen I had heard much about but never used. It was a real challenge and I am still trying to wrap my head around it. Here is what I did.

The show came to a close, and we ended the weekend with a murderer's row shot of the table mates. This is artistic brilliance right here. From left to right, me, Liz Valasco, J.T. Dockery and Joe Kuth.

After the show it was off to the Laughing Ogre where Stang was being Stang.

Then to dinner at Ray Ray's Hog Pit, one of the best food trucks in the universe. Parked near Ray Ray's was THIS! I have seen it before but never close enough to get some really good photos. This was that day.

In this one, you can see me in the mirrors taking the photo.


Joe Kuth, his face smeared with meat and sauce.

My wife, hunting...

...and going in for the kill...

...and nearing a sated state.

Finally, every year I get a convention sketch from Tom Williams. I try and give him something fun but a little strange to draw. This year I asked for a stripper-y Moondragon and he did not disappoint. Superhero decadence indeed.