Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Amazing Stories of Polio!

The February '09 issue of Rotary International's Rotarian magazine will feature a 16-page comic book story (graphic non-fiction?) about the history of Polio eradication, drawn by Yours Truly.

The subject matter isn't sexy or action-packed, but this was a very interesting job that further demonstrates just how flexible the medium of "sequential storytelling" can be. The enlightened editors at the Rotarian knew that the history of Polio and the scientists and humanitarians who continue to fight it, could be an easily-overlooked feature in their magazine...or something new and different. Telling the story as a narrative with images makes an old subject interesting and accessible. I think the end result works very well.

The story, of course, begins and ends with Jonas Salk, who created the first vaccine to prevent the spread of Polio, while refusing to patent it. A true humanitarian, whose achievement & selflessness made him a household name.

The narrative then goes back to describe the history of the disease, how the virus works & spreads, and its effect on the world.

Rotary International is on the brink of eradicating Polio from the last few places it exists on earth today. In an ever-shrinking world, as long as polio threatens even one child anywhere, children everywhere remain at risk.

I'm very pleased to have been able to work on this project, and contribute to a worthy cause. For more information about End Polio Now, please visit their website and learn how you can help, too.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Fun Club Komiks

This week I am starting my tenth episode of Fun Club Komiks which is featured in the Polish magazine for teens, Fun Club. In the comments of a previous post, Michal asked if I'd received any of the printed magazines in the mail. They took a while to arrive, but I did recently get a package with my first three issues (the covers are in the image above). It's always cool to see one's work in print, but what struck me, looking back at those first few comics, is how my art has evolved over the past 10 months. In a way, I think I'm just now getting the hang of this, and I'm finally becoming comfortable with these characters, and making them my own.

"Michal" is, in fact, Michal Zacharzewski, the writer of Fun Club Komiks, and my main contact for the publisher in Poland. He's made this job very easy for me, considering the problems of language and time zone differences. I'm very glad to be working with him (and I'd better get busy, sending him some sketches!)

Here's a preliminary character sketch for a supporting character in this month's assignment...

I'm not 100% happy with this sketch. The design works pretty well for what I need, but he looks a little too generic & "manga" for my tastes. I will have to think of some ways to make him look a little bit more unique.

Here are a couple of my favorite panels from the past ten month's worth of "Fun..."

Back in May, I posted a step-by-step look at my process for drawing this comic, you can look at it here if you're interested. When I get a chance, I'll post something from the new strip too, so you can compare it with the one from May.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Coloring Book

One of the several jobs that has been keeping me busy, and very "quiet" here on the blog, is a coloring book that I'm drawing for a certain, unnamed publisher based in Kuwait. This is part of the cover art. You may recognize these characters. Then again, maybe you won't!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

School Library Journal

Cool! As reported by The Beat, The Ronald Reagan biography that I worked on with Andy Helfer and Joe Staton has made the list of the School Library Journal's Best Adult Books for High School Students 2008!

Congrats to my fellow collaborators!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Some New, Random Drawings

I've been very unblogful lately because I've been crazy busy. Here's a little glimpse of some of the random things I've been working on this week...

Happy Thankgiving!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I just discovered this wacky facebook application called Graffiti. It lets you draw a picture with your mouse (or stylus) to send to your facebook friends. The cool part is it becomes a little movie that, when re-played, shows how the image was drawn. Like this...

Unfortunately, the imbedded window doesn't really fit here on my blog page. It's cropped, but it still works. Check it out.
What will they think of next?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Watchin' Jazz

I've been watching the 10-disc documentary series Jazz, directed by Ken Burns. It's a truly magnificent historical narrative that I can't recommend highly enough. It's a massive 19+ hours long, but you'll be tapping your feet, if not dancing around the room, the entire time. Watch it. I dare you.

You can also Netflix it. That's what I did, but I'd like to watch it again, so I feel it's worth owning.

Monday, September 22, 2008

An Interesting Ad Campaign

In recent months, I've been doing some fun work for a company called First Allied, drawing some ads featuring an intentionally corny superhero called First Allied Man. These ads have taken many shapes, including pin-up images as well as multi-paneled comic strips that tell of the exploits of a hero helping real estate brokers to lease shopping centers in troubled economic times! Here are some panels from a strip introducing a terrifying villain...
...Widening Spreads!!!

The latest batch of ads are geared to outside brokers who can earn an unusually large 6% commission for leasing First Allied properties...

It's a strange idea to have a superhero flying around delivering commission checks, but maybe in a time of housing foreclosures, stock market terrors and failing banks, that's exactly what we need!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wonder Woman Again

Hmm. I kinda like it better in grey. What do you think?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wonder Woman Day Art

This is a drawing I'm contributing to this year's Wonder Woman Day in Portland, Oregon on October 26th. It will be one of many fine pieces of art that will be auctioned to raise money for Domestic Violence Shelters and a Women's Crisis Line. Check out their website--it's a good cause, after all!

For this drawing, I pulled the old "Doc Martin's" transparent watercolors out of the closet. Haven't used them in ages (back in the old "color guides" era). Fun!

By the way, you should also check out Simon's nearly identical post on his blog. Identical, except that his art is better than mine! :)

Monday, September 15, 2008


I don't know what else to say, except that if you haven't seen this from start to finish, you are truly missing out.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Back From New York & DC

But I'm too swamped to write anything right now, and my Dad's coming to visit for his 75th birthday tomorrow!

Let's catch up soon! Have a great weekend!


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Art by Others

Here's a cowboy that my son drew today...

I really like it. Sort of reminds me of one of those ink drawings by, more detailed...

Kinda like this:

That's right, Picasso drew comics, too.

Below is a portrait of me, at my Artist's Alley table at Comic-Con...
This masterpiece is by my old pal, Kristine Phoenix-Artinian. I appreciate the effort, but she's at least thirty years older than my son, so I can't help feeling she could have done better. Then again, Picasso was eighty when he drew the bullfighting sketch above, so perhaps age is irrelevant.

Regardless, my kid is clearly a prodigy! :)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Some Random Things You Should See

If you haven't seen this already, here's another viewpoint on the San Diego Comic-Con, courtesy of Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog:

Then, there's this, for Robot Enthusiasts:

Pentagon's Unmanned Spokesdrone Completes First Press Conference Mission

Lastly, please read this probing Interview With Santa Claus.

Have a great day!

Steve's Comic-Con Contemplation: Part Four

First some links, in case you missed the first few parts of this masterpiece of reporting…
To read Part Three of my Comic-Con report, click here.
To go back to Part Two of my Comic-Con report, click here.
And, to see where I began with this, try starting at Part One, by clicking here.

Previously, I’ve written some observations about how the San Diego Comic-Con has changed over the years, and I wrote about some parties I didn’t get into this year! So, what, pray tell, did I do at this year’s Comic-Con?

Well, Friday night, after we were ejected from the Saloon at the Hard Rock Hotel, Don and I head over to a small party happening at a Persian Restaurant on 4th Street -- an annual get-together hosted by Los Angeles artist, Aman Chaudhary. A very cool way to start off the evening, for those of us not invited to the William Morris Party! Here’s a pic of Don and I, that I just swiped from Aman’s blog…

Afterwards, we met up with Monica & Dean Kubina, and made our way to the Hyatt bar.

The Hyatt bar. Where everyone always ends up. I swear, we arrived pretty early, all things considered, and the place was packed. Soon it was almost unbearably packed. This, in spite of the online controversy and threat of boycott that raged in the weeks leading up to the Con.

To be honest, I am SO over the Hyatt bar. I have been for a while. There were a few years (back when the meeting pace was at the “Top” of the Hyatt) that I honestly felt like I was in a strange time-warp. Listening to the same conversations over and over again. Wasn’t Jeph Loeb sitting in the exact same place last year, holding court? It was getting surreal. But what are you going to do? The Hyatt is literally where everyone ends up, so if you want to do some valuable schmoozing & hooking up with old friends, you have no choice but to end up there also.

That said, on Friday I had a great time catching up with people like Mike Marts form DC, and a bunch of others. I only wish that Andy Kubert had come down from his room after Mike sent him an obnoxious text message at my encouragement. One of my fondest convention experiences was a drunken, pool-playing romp with Andy and his brother during Wizard World Chicago in 2003. Actually, I’m lucky they didn’t beat me up! I was out of control!

Saturday night also ended at the Hyatt, but started with some drinks at the Hard Rock. This time we didn’t get kicked out, though they almost didn’t let Kyle Baker in due to their dress-code! (he was wearing shorts) Thankfully, Alex Zamm convinced the guy at the door that Kyle was the World’s Greatest Cartoonist (who just won an award!), so they let him in. I had a great time with Alex, Kyle, Don and his lady-friend Shawna, Mike Wellman, Luis Reyes and the Kubinas. The bar made a pretty good mojito, too.

In the end, that’s what I like best about Comic-Con. It’s a chance to hang out with pals, see old friends and business contacts, and meet new ones. I guess that's why I keep going back!

I will end now, with some random pics from this year's Comic-Con, and from Comic-Cons past. I wish I had more!

Comic-Con '08: Richard Starkings, Carl Potts & Me

Comic-Con '03: Don is assaulted by our booth!

Comic-Con '02: Don, Rob Tokar & I selling Comiculture!

Comic-Con '02: posing with Marc Siry

Monday, August 04, 2008

Steve's Comic-Con Contemplation: Part Three

To read Part Two of my Comic-Con report, click here.
To go back to Part One, click here.

Like most comics professionals, I have mixed feelings about the San Diego Comic-Con. I feel inexorably drawn to it each summer, as though to not go would be a huge blunder. As if I might miss out on that golden schmoozing opportunity that will propel my career to the next level.

On one hand, it seems like every year is exactly the same, and I wonder what the point is. On the other hand, the Con (and the city of San Diego, itself) just keeps growing and becoming more stimulating.

It is simultaneously irritating and exciting how comics have become more of an accepted part of the mainstream entertainment media. Irritating because it really feels like Hollywood and the toy companies have taken over Comic-Con completely (where are the comics?!?), exciting for the possibilities all that implies. Somebody is spending money on this stuff.

This year, Don and I stayed at the brand-new Hard Rock Hotel, right across from the convention center.

It’s a very cool hotel, with a hip, modern d├ęcor, and they give you your choice of music to be played in your room upon arrival. They also have some nice restaurants & clubs to hang out in. This is my segue into a mini-rant:

Part of the “Hollywoodization” of Comic-Con is that now San Diego is flooded with “industry” types and even some movie stars. That means that there are cooler, more exclusive parties going on. As it happened, on Friday night there were a couple such parties happening at the Hard Rock. The William Morris Agency took over the bar by the pool, and someone else took over the “Sweetwater Saloon” downstairs after 6PM. That meant that we were kicked out before that and were then, unable to use any of the facilities. Now, I think this is kind of outrageous, seeing as Don and I were paying guests of the hotel. I feel bad for any guests who happened to be there who were not affiliated with Comic-Con at all. They must have been pissed.

I probably wouldn’t have minded—if only I’d been invited to the William Morris party! End of rant.

The first year I attended Comic-Con was in 1987. Boy, have things changed. Back then, there was no giant convention center, the con was held at the little ol’ Civic Center. There were almost none of the high-rise buildings over the skyline. Downtown was full of pawnshops, bail bonds offices & tattoo parlors. The Gas Lamp District was a slum.

Today there is a lot more to do: better nightlife, better restaurants. And the streets are safer. But, there were things about the old Comic-Con that I miss. Especially the expense account dinners! Back in the 80s and early 90s, the Marvel & DC editors were pretty liberal with their expense accounts. Probably why Marvel had to file for bankruptcy! Yes, those were the days! It was easy for me to find a good, free meal! It happens rarely now. There were fewer parties back then also, so it was easier to find out where you were “supposed” to be each night!

We also used to go en-masse to the beaches at Coronado or La Jolla, or go Jet-Skiing with Jim Lee. That was fun. Or a bunch of us would take the trolley down to Tijuana for cheap beer. I don’t really feel like doing that anymore, but it was a cool diversion when I was an under-aged 19 or 20!

Yes, that's me.

Marcus McLaurin, Me (with the hair), Tom Morgan

Klaus Janson (washboard abs, anyone?)

Sara (Tuchinsky) Kocher

Sorry, no pictures of TJ. Today, it’s all more difficult, more expensive and more confusing. That is, unless you are Jim Lee. Then, you probably still get your meals comped and know where all the cool parties are.

You see? advantages & disadvantages.

In recent years, I’ve attended smaller conventions to promote my comics, and I’m reminded how the Comic-Con once was (only without the expense account dinners!). In some ways, these little conventions feel like a huge step backwards. But, it must be said that the fans in the smaller conventions are more enthusiastic about the comics. And when the convention is held in a city farther away from New York & LA, the fans are more appreciative that you’ve made the effort to show up. In San Diego there’s too much other stuff to draw people’s attention. If people are lining up for the Heroes panel for hours, or to get free Star Trek posters, then they aren’t browsing the comics. There is something to be said for the smaller conventions.

Of course, at the smaller cons, you won’t get to see this…

Katee Sackhoff

…Then again, neither did I! I didn’t even attempt to get in to the Battlestar Galactica panel. Luckily, you can see the whole thing online here. It’s pretty cool. I just wish Kevin Smith would realize that it’s unnecessary to drop an “f-bomb” every other sentence. Hey Kev, do the words “family entertainment” mean anything to you at all, or are you just 12 years old?

By the way, that reminds me, if you’ve been attending Comic-Con for a while, have you noticed that there are fewer porn stars exhibiting lately? That’s a relief. I always thought that if those porn-industry people want to exhibit at Comic-Con, they should set up a whole “Red Light District,” that only adults would be allowed to enter. Ghettoizing the so-called “adult” exhibitors needn’t be a negative thing. They could really play it up with red lights, stripper-poles, dry ice & stuff. They could include all the guys who sell leather bondage crap & “mature” art. You know, make it something really special! Most importantly, keep it segregated from the kids and let Comic-Con be family-friendly, as it ought to be. If only I was King of the Universe...

I’m all over the place, so this is a good time to stop and say: To be Concluded!

For Part Four of my Comic-Con report, click here

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Steve's Comic-Con Contemplation: Part Two

To read part one of my Comic-Con report, click here.

So, Artist’s Alley was pretty cool. One of the people who came by looking for me was Anne T. Murphy, the widow of my old boss, Archie Goodwin. I don’t remember the last time I saw Anne. Probably before Archie died in 1998. She and her son flew out to accept the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. It was nice to catch up with her.

Archie Goodwin

I first met Archie Goodwin while I was a high school intern at Marvel Comics in 1985, and worked for him at Epic Comics after I graduated, from autumn 1986 until early 1989. I was just a kid then and, as might be expected, I was somewhat awed by him. I never told him this but, even though we were not “close,” Archie was kind of a paternal figure for me. The fact that he shared a birthday with my own father (though 4 years younger) helped, as well as the fact that I want to high school with Archie’s daughter, Jennifer. My years working at Epic were the working equivalent of my college education, the diverse projects, setting the groundwork for my career in comics & publishing.

When I decided to leave staff at Marvel/Epic, I used Archie’s departure as a good excuse for the timing. In Early 1989, the higher-ups at Marvel decided to massively restructure the Epic department, which they had, until then, pretty much left alone. In short, they decided to stop focusing on the “Creator Owned” titles that Epic was formed to develop, and use Epic as more of a “specialty” imprint, creating more “mature” versions of Marvel’s characters, like Havok/Wolverine and Typhoid. It was a depressing time for us. Archie decided it was time to leave, and I felt it would be a good time to pursue my freelance career. I left only a couple of weeks before Archie’s last day.

After that, Archie moved over to DC Comics, and I didn’t see as much of him. When I did get up to the offices, I always dropped by for a visit and usually showed Archie my latest work. I actively sought his approval, and he was always very encouraging.

I moved to Los Angeles in 1993, and saw Archie a lot less. I was not very good at keeping in touch with many of my New York friends, and this is something I regret. Not long after I moved, Archie was diagnosed with cancer. After several years of fighting, he died in 1998. I can’t believe it’s been ten years. I saw Archie only a few times in the years before he died, and it was very difficult for me. I think my response was to ignore and avoid. Only after it was too late did I even understand this, to my shame.

In retrospect, I look back and treasure my relationship with Archie Goodwin. He taught me more that I ever realized at the time. Some of his gifts to me include my love & fascination with European comics, a true understanding of the benefits & pitfalls of “creator ownership,” and an open mind toward the endless possibilities inherent in the art of comic book art & storytelling. I owe him a lot.

My thanks to Anne Murphy, for her visit, and for dredging up in me these thoughts & feelings. I’ve enjoyed remembering & writing about them. I hope we will keep in touch.

To be continued...(on with the con!)

For Part Three of my Comic-Con report, click here.