Sunday, February 27, 2011


Today my family and I just returned from Rome, where I had the honor to have my artwork displayed at the Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica in association with Rotary International’s End Polio Now campaign. It was a wonderful and meaningful week, and I will write more on the subject tomorrow.

Right now, I need to express the shock I felt on our arrival home, when I learned that a colleague of mine died while I was away. Dwayne McDuffie started working on staff at Marvel not long after I did. While I can’t say that he and I were close friends, I knew him well enough to appreciate his humor, warmth and overall kindness. Dwayne was very well loved and respected by his peers, he was a talented writer and an extremely funny man. Waaaay back in 1990 I had the pleasure of drawing an issue of Power Pack that was written by Dwayne (and inked by the late, great Dan Spiegle). The story featured ghosts living in toilets. In retrospect, I believe this project foretold my successful foray into toilet & vomit illustrations that kept me busy for a few years on J-14 Magazine!

Last summer, Dwayne kindly reached out to me when I was looking for freelance work, hoping to collaborate on a graphic novel concept of his. While it didn’t work out, I really appreciated that he’d considered me. Today, I wonder about this missed opportunity to get to know Dwayne more intimately.

The comics and animation industries have lost another special creative talent this week. He was too young to be taken so soon. My condolences to his family and friends.

One year ago, my own father passed away. Something I have thought a lot about while racing around the many churches in Rome. As a Catholic--and an Italian!--I feel he would have been proud of my latest adventure, and I’m sorry that he isn’t around for me to share it with. I miss him.

Of course it’s not the same, but tomorrow I’ll share my thoughts with all of you who care to read it. Arrivederchi!

For more thoughts on Dwayne, here are some links...
New York Times obit
R.I.P. Dwayne McDuffie, from The Beat
Why We Needed Dwayne McDuffie, from The Beat

Thursday, February 17, 2011


While preparing for Rome, where my Rotarian artwork will be displayed at the Palazzo Poli, I’ve been thinking about what a powerful means of communication storytelling is. Graphic storytelling, in particular.

The power of Pictorial imagery is not bound to specific cultures by spoken language or the written word. Indeed, this kind of communicating can be universal; visual representations of shared human experience.

Legends, myths, fables, folk tales, epics, novels, newspapers, biography and history. The most basic level of human discourse is story. We use it to understand the universe. Its symbols and archetypes are hardwired into our collective unconscious.

Story remind us who we are and inspires us to become something greater.

Graphic storytelling has given us insight into the past.

Put into this perspective, the old saw that a “picture is worth a thousand words” is an incredible understatement. Images that have lasted for millennia allow us to communicate with the dead (albeit, it is a one-sided conversation!).

Today, it is understood that images are the easiest way to present information in a way that everyone can understand it.

So, I guess I should not be surprised that my own work for Rotary International has taken on a life of its own. Champions of Rotary’s charitable causes keep finding creative uses for my artwork as a way to educate and reach new supporters worldwide. It’s very exciting.

And if you still doubt the power of a comic book to communicate important messages with history-making results, I guess you have not heard about the comic book that helped inspire the revolutionaries in Egypt!

Considering Egyptians’ long history of graphic storytelling, I, for one, am not surprised at all!

While we’re on the subject, if you happen to be in the New York area on March 1st, you should head down to the Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art (MOCCA), where master storyteller Larry Hama will be teaching a class on the Principals of Graphic Storytelling for Comics. Larry is a cool guy who has written a bunch of great stuff for comics, TV and film. It ought to be very interesting, and if I were back east I’d definitely check it out.

I love a good story. Who doesn’t? I'll have more to say on this subject soon...

Instructor: LARRY HAMA
Tuesday March 1 7:00-9:00 PM
Admission $40 | $35 for MoCCA Members

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Wednesday, February 02, 2011


In preparation for my upcoming gallery show in Rome, this week I had to draw a couple of pieces of promotional art. My contact asked for a view of the Trevi Fountain, lit up with Rotary International's End polio Now logo. This is kind of a sneak peek of the actual projection that will be presented at the event on Rotary Day.

I thought it would be cool to share the process. First, these were my rough sketches I provided...

The bottom one is pretty much what they asked for, a typical view of the fountain. I wanted to try something a bit more graphic, so I also sent the top version, unsure if it would fly with the client. Yes, you can't read the End Polio Now logo, and the view of the fountain is fragmented, but I really liked it. It's more challenging for the viewer, I think.

Anyway, We decided to do BOTH! Below is my full-sized layout. I usually work like this; on cheap tracing paper, using pencil & marker, I work out the broad strokes and nail down how the image(s) will be composed on the page...

After that, I usually lightbox my layout onto bristol board, and create a nice, clean pencil drawing to ink. Here's where I tighten things up and try to get the perspective & details down. Unfortunately, I don't have a scan of the pencils to show you. So here are my finished inks...

At this point, I scan the inked artwork--and usually do some clean-up in Photoshop before coloring. Finally, here is the finished color work. I'm fairly pleased with the results. What do you think?.

There you have it. I am very curious to see what they do with them. I will let you know!