Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Princess Ai: Rumors

Here's a peek at some pages from a story I just finished drawing for TOKYOPOP (click images for larger views).

More on that in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Quick Post: Hope everyone is enjoying the Holiday season. Whatever you're celebrating, have a great week and a happy, healthy New Year!

I'm still swamped between last-minute work obligations and trying to enjoy the Holidays with my family. I think I'll have more free time to blog next week, so I'll catch up with you all then. Thanks for dropping by!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New Bat Lash Coloring

Take a gander...

Line art by John Severin (click image for larger view)

Friday, December 07, 2007


Here's some cool news to wake up to: my TOKYOPOP manga, Battle of the Bands is among the books nominated for the Young Adult Library Services Association's (YALSA) Great Graphic Novels for Teens list for 2008!

I should also mention that BOTB would make a great holiday gift for any teens in your life! :)

Monday, December 03, 2007

New York Times

This weekend the New York Times published a review of Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography, by Douglas Wolk (the review is by Wolk, the book was written by Andrew Helfer, with art by Joe Staton and myself).

I usually don't respond to reviews, because there really isn't much point, but in this case I have something to say. I don't actually disagree with anything Wolk writes. In fact, he hardly writes anything in regards to the quality of the book. However, he makes a distinction between how Reagan's story is told in the text versus how he is portrayed in the art, and that is worth commenting on.

Here's a quote:

"If you were to read only Andrew Helfer’s text for Ronald Reagan... it would seem to be a straightforward chronological trot through Reagan’s life story...Most of the book’s spin, though, is actually in its artwork, by Steve Buccellato and Joe Staton. After an opening montage of notable moments from Reagan’s public life...(the book) becomes a catalog of the sorts of visual rhetoric cartoonists can pull off: nearly every panel incorporates some kind of broad caricature or symbolic distortion, usually at Reagan’s expense."

He then gives a few specific examples where the text of the story is "factual," and the accompanying art is biased or distorted. Wolk may not be wrong, but he seems to lay the responsibility for the images entirely with the artists--as though we came up with the images on our own! Where does he think they came from, if not from a script written by the same person who wrote the dialogue? Isn't that obvious?

One of the many strengths of the comic book art form that the words and pictures combine to create something different than the separate parts. A well-written comic does not simply state in the text what the reader can already see in the art. Comics are a visual medium. The comic book writer uses the art to show the reader as much as possible, while using the text to provide information that can't be shown in an interesting way.

In the case of this "Graphic Biography," it was a real challenge for Andy to cram in as much information as possible about Reagan's long life without covering up all of the art with narrative captions. It was a difficult editing process and the result is the sparse, "factual" text that Wolk writes about. Probably more than half of Andy's original script ended up being distilled for space. However, the story Andy wanted to tell is right there in the art. If there are political biases (there are), broad satire (you bet), and "images that pass judgement" evident in the book, they were almost all in the original script and from the writer's point of view.

In case you don't know, a comic book script is a lot like a screenplay; writers provide descriptions of what they want the artists to draw in each panel, as well as penning the dialogue and narration. While the process is a collaboration, unless the artist flatly ignores the writing on the page, the story is the work of the writer. I understand that most people may not know how comics are created, but I'm just a little disappointed that the author of Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean doesn't seem to understand the process a little better.

In any case, it's nice to be mentioned in the New York Times, and it's always good to see comics get more attention in the media!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

New Frames

Got some new eyeglasses a couple weeks ago. What do you think?

I like 'em. When I was in France in July I saw a couple of people wearing similar glasses--been hunting for the right pair ever since. Now, if only I can stop making stupid faces...

Speaking of "frames" (and France) I hung my Paris art by Simon Gane yesterday. A fine addition to my bedroom wall!

Makes me wanna swing!


I'll try to post something more interesting later in the week!

Pirate Recycling!

Remember the pirate ships I built for my son's birthday party?

Yesterday, one of them came in handy as I was wiring up the front of the house with Christmas lights. Check out some blurry pics of Pirate Santa! ARRRG!

He be knowin' if'n yer bad or good, so ye'd best be good ye bleedin' scallywag!!!

Actually, he still needs an eye-patch. Maybe a hook. Still, it cracks me up. I always enjoy decking out the house for the holidays. It's the most wonderful time of the year, you know.

We also got a tree...

...I can't believe it's already December.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Bat Lash

Another thing I've been working on lately is a new Bat Lash limited series from DC Comics. It's written by western author Peter Brandvold and the amazing Sergio Aragones and drawn by a master of old-west comics, the one-and-only John Severin. Covers are by Walt Simonson (no adjectives necessary). I haven't done much comic book coloring in the past couple of years, but how could I resist that line-up? Especially as I was specifically requested by the artist. Good for the ol' self-esteem, y'know?

Frankly, I know nothing about the old Bat Lash character, except for what I found on the wiki. However, the new series is shaping up to be a cool project that I'm happy to be associated with. The story is gripping and the art is gorgeous. Here's a little peek at some pages from issue one...

Dude can draw a horse, eh?

Thursday, November 29, 2007


So, I keep mentioning how BUSY I am these days--as though everyone else is just goofing off! I suppose the reality is that we're ALL busy most of the time. Perhaps, I should just stop writing about how busy I am, and tell you what it is that I'm so busy with!

My problem is that I'm juggling several different projects at once, and none of them are getting done in a timely manner. Life keeps interrupting my work-flow, and these small-but-super-rush job suddenly appear and totally throw me off my schedule. This happened earlier this week, but it was kind of fun...

This is an image from a new NIKE promotion. To be honest, I don't know the whole story behind it, except that it is from a "custom comic" produced by TOKYOPOP in the popular "manga" style. They put together a book of short stories featuring Nike products and a wild-haired manga dude. Evidently, they wanted one particular panel to be drawn larger to be used separately for posters or something, but they were having trouble getting exactly what they needed from the original artist. At the last minute, they came to me, and I stepped in and totally re-worked the image to their specs.

From what I gather, they were happy with my work (no corrections!) and I must admit that I'm pretty pleased with it myself. Especially when I look at it compared to the original drawing. I'm tempted to show it here, but I won't, as I'm not looking to embarrass anyone. The sad part (for me!) is that I get absolutely NO credit for the drawing. If this turns out to be a huge campaign and my image is plastered all around the country, the only people who will know that I drew it will be me, my editor, and the three people who are reading this blog! Oh well, such is the life of the freelance artist...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I guess I blew my opportunity to link the subjects of Thanksgiving and Comics by citing my favorite Pilgrim story. I've just been swamped with work lately. I need to post a catch-up blog to write about all my goings-on. But for now, a week late, I want to write about a particular Pilgrim. That's right, I'm talking about Scott Pilgrim!

I haven't yet read volume four of Bryan Lee O'Malley's slacker-epic, Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together, But then, I haven't been to The Comic Bug in a couple of weeks. I may have to go by tomorrow, cuz I can't wait anymore. If you haven't read volumes 1-3 of Scott Pilgrim, you are seriously depriving yourself of some quality entertainment.

Actually, I was kind of hoping for a free copy in the mail. Why do I deserve one? Well, one of the things I've been busy with during the past few months has been coloring an 8-page sequence in the new book! It was the most fun I've had coloring for a lonnnnng time. A real pleasure. Made me feel like a fanboy again! Here's a sample:

Ain't it purdy? if you're familiar with Bryan's work, you'll notice that it looks quite a bit different from the art in the previous volumes. His growth and confidence as an artist is obvious. I was already an admirer of Bryan's work from his graphic novel Lost at Sea, and I've loved SP since my buddy, Mike Wellman (see The Comic Bug link, above) turned me on to the first volume last year. It's great to see an artist who you already like just get better.

You can read all about SP at Bryan's blog/website. In fact, I was just reading it earlier today. He asked readers what they would title the next installment of SP, which spawned all sorts of funny responses. I came up with this idea, which, for some reason, I find hilarious...

Maybe I just need more sleep.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

A lot to be thankful for. Have a great & grateful holiday!

(Last week in Central Park)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Kinokuniya Map

Greetings. Quick post: The Borders signing went well last night. This afternoon, we'll be doing a repeat performance at the Kinokuniya Bookstore in Downtown LA, from 2-4 PM. Come on down and meet us!

View Larger Map

Friday, November 16, 2007

Two Book Signings This Weekend

Hey all. Haven't had much time to post lately, hopefully that will change soon. I'm working on a Princess Ai story for TOKYOPOP. Will share art soon!

Meanwhile, I'll be joining some of my fellow Ameri-manga creators at some signings this weekend. The first is TONIGHT at the Borders Bookstore in Northridge, CA. 7PM. Here's a map:

View Larger Map

Tomorrow afternoon (Saturday), we'll be at the Kinokuniya Bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles from 2-4 PM. here's another map.

Hope you can make it if you're in the area! Maybe the posters will be ready! You know you want one!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Final Poster Design

Finally finished that promotional poster. I needed to screw around with the design at the last minute to accomodate the TOKYOPOP "side bar" element. Originally, I had their logo incorporated into the image to be more "rock poster-like." But, I guess, this is the way they usually design these things, and who am I to break the mold? It works just as well, so no biggie.

I have some more signings coming up in November--hopefully these will be printed in time and I can give them out to all the cool people who come out to support the book (hint! hint!)

More info later. And, I hope to have something more interesting to blog about soon. Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 19, 2007

More Poster Art

Here's another figure from that promotional poster I'm working on. If you haven't read the book (and, why haven't you???), this is Becky. Click on her for a larger view.

I'm drawing each figure separately & composing them into a scene. The figures overlap some, but I wanted to have whole versions of the individual poses, just in case we need them for another use.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New Battle of the Bands Art

Yeow. My internet has been down for almost TWO DAYS!!!! Somehow, I survived this complete cut-off from the world, and everything appears to be normal. For what that's worth!

Among other things, I've been working on a new poster for my manga, Battle of the Bands. It's to give away at future signings & stuff. Here is one of the characters from the poster...

Click image for a larger view of Zoe.

In other news, the ArtWalk in Pasadena went well last Friday night. Talked to some art-lovers & schmoozed with some other artists, like Phil Yeh and Steve Firchow. All in all, a pleasant evening. I was holed-up in the Library the whole night, but from what I could see, the ArtWalk was a pretty cool event that would be worth attending next year.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Friday Night is Art Night in Pasadena

Kind of a last-minute thing: Tomorrow night I will be showing off some of my artwork and answering some questions about comics & manga at ArtNight in Pasadena. Looks like a pretty cool event that is spread out in different locations around downtown Pasadena. There will be free shuttles and bike tours and who knows what else! I will be stationed along with fellow TOKYOPOP creators Rikki Simons and Tavisha (Shutterbox) at the Pasadena Public Library, at 285 East Walnut Street.

Here's a map:

View Larger Map

I'll be displaying some original art from Battle of the Bands, Elephantmen and, perhaps, some other projects. I'll also have some books for sale, if you want to come by and pick up a signed copy!

Or...just come by and say hello! I'll be there from 6:00 to 10:00 PM.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Pirate Party

Enough with the "teasers!" Yesterday we had my son's 6th birthday party, with a pirate theme! It was a huge success as the kids all had a great time. I think the adults did as well. We had sangria (thanks, mom!) and Mai Tais (thanks, Rob!), after all!

Frankly, we went overboard (so to speak). We had a big "moon bounce" decorated with pirate stuff and we played piratey games (like "Pin the Hook on the Pirate"), and we had a treasure hunt. But the best was the Pirate Ship Battle in our driveway! We constructed 2 ships for the kids to play in, and they went at it with ferocity that would make Blackbeard himself proud. The pictures don't do it justice, but here are a few...

Welcome to "Cut Throat Cove!" Abandon hope all ye who enter, et cetera...

On the right: "The Fat Flounder!" A small, but able ship.

And on the left: "The Fangtooth!" Scourge of the seas!

Now, let the battle begin...

It was utter chaos.

An aside: I've been to many children's parties, and one activity I cannot stand is the beating of the piñata. I hate piñatas. Watching kids bust open the body of some animal or character and then leaping on top of the remains, always reminds me of the Lord of the Flies. And not in a good way. It's an activity that demonstrates (and encourages!) some of the worst parts of human nature: violence & greed!

Anyway, you haven't seen violence until you dress a dozen kids up with swords and cannonballs and let them go at it unfettered! It was great! And luckily, nobody was hurt.

As I said, the adults had fun, too. We had a special area set up for them on the deck...

A few, like my brother, embraced the theme whole-heartedly...

Even our dog was forced to suffer this ignominity...

Poor thing.

I have more pics, but I will keep them to myself, to protect the dignity of our guests! I leave you with one last image of me & my bro, watching the carnage...

Oh, the humanity!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Almost Finished... be CONCLUDED tomorrow!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Speaking of Art...

...If I were rich, I'd buy lots of it! I'm what you call an "art lover," even if I'm not what you'd call an expert. That is to say, I know what I like, to use the old adage. Luckily, my wife feels the same, and even though we don't have a lot of extra money to spend on art, occasionally we can't resist.

In this episode of A Bucce of Power, I'd like to share a couple of recent purchases and a cool drawing I just dug up while cleaning the garage! First there's this...

Back in July, we took a family vacation to France with my in-laws. One night, my wife and I broke away from the group for a quick side trip to Arras, a town in the north. It was a charming place rich with history to satisfy part of my World War One kick. We stayed at an excellent B&B, owned by a wonderfully gracious host, who happened also to be exhibiting art & photography from some local artists. The painting above is by Arras artist, Alain Steux. We loved it, and decided to buy it as a joint-anniversary present to ourselves. The image is a view of some typical Arras architecture in the Flemmish style.

Next, there's this...

This is a comic book page by Simon Gane from his new Paris trade paperback. Paris was one of my favorite comics series to be published recently. I adore this guy's work and, as it happens, I "met" Simon earlier this year through our respective blogs. He actually posted this page to his blog after drawing it, and I knew I had to have it!

lastly, we have this...

One of my recent diversions has been the daunting task of cleaning out our garage. Honestly, I should take pictures of the horror show within. It must be seen to be believed. It's my ultimate goal to, one day, convert it into a studio, as my current home office is starting to overflow. Anyway, one yard sale and a few trips to goodwill later, the garage is still a mess--It's gonna be a loooonnng project.

Last weekend, while digging through boxes, I found the picture above. It's a sentimental oldie, but goodie! It dates back to around 1986 or so, and is one of the earliest (existing) drawings of my very own slacker-superhero, Weasel Guy. it was penciled by Tom Morgan and inked by Jose Marzan Jr., back when both artists worked in the Marvel Bullpen as Romita's Raiders! I was an intern at the time, and I was working on my early Weasel Guy comics that I sold in high school. Tom and Jose went on to draw many comics for Marvel & DC. People familiar with my career know that WG made a comeback years later, in a limited series published by Image Comics (he WILL return again!).

Now, speaking of art, I'd better GET TO WORK!!! Seeya!

This Week At The Museum...

More of these!

This week, we combined the usual visit with my son's Kindergarten homework; he had to draw four things beginning with the letter "F" and write what it is. Great fun!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Father/Son Art

With the new school year in session, we've started a new project in my household. Every Wednesday for the past 3 weeks, after picking my son up from Kindergarten, the two of us have driven downtown to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Our mission: TO DRAW ANIMALS!

This has been loads of fun for me, and hopefully somewhat amusing for my son! The museum here in Los Angeles isn't as huge and comprehensive as the one I grew up with in New York, but it's not bad. My son really loves it,and used to visit practically every weekend. He even did a few weeks of summer camp there last year. However, until we started our new project, we haven't spent much time there of late.

So here's what we're doing: After spending some time wandering around, looking at the exhibits for the umpteenth time, we pick a few animals, and we each do a drawing. I also ask him to write the name of the animal, and sometimes a fact or two, like "lives in Kenya" or "Eats bugs." It's been fun to see what he comes up with and, obviously, good practice for his writing skills.

Here are two of today's sketches. An ostrich...

...and a chimpanzee...

Now, I think my ostrich is pretty good, but clearly his chimp beats mine, hands down. Isn't it awesome?

I really like drawing from those stuffed animals in the big dioramas. They are, of course, perfectly still models! You can't ask for better! Those rooms are so quiet and peaceful. At least, they are on Wednesday afternoons. In fact, the whole place is dead! Make me worry about the museum's future and the state of our youth in general, but at the same time, I really appreciate having the place to ourselves.

Right now, the museum is being renovated so some of the halls are closed. Also, it seems, the entire area around Exposition Park is under construction. They are doubling the size of the neighboring science museum and, I believe, they are reconstructing the light-rail system in the area. So parking is a huge pain. No street parking AT ALL, so visitors are forced to lay down $6 per car. Luckily, we're members of the museum, so parking is the only cost. In any case, the results have been well worth the trouble. As an activity to share with a child, I recommend it highly.