Thursday, May 26, 2011


Last night I attended a very entertaining Writersbloc event featuring the hot new Scandinavian Crime writer, Jo Nesbø, interviewed by the incomparable James Ellroy. Nesbø has been something like the literary flavor of the month around my house, thanks to my in-laws, who have hooked my wife on Nesbø's crime novels, and my son on his little-known children's books. Actually, I have not read Nesbø's work yet, but his novel Redbreast is officially on my massive "To Read" pile, and the description of his work sounds right up my alley.

Furthermore, this article from CNN last Sunday lists some of Nesbø's influences as Jim Thompson, Knut Hamsun, Henrik Ibsen, Ernest Hemingway, Charles Bukowski, and Frank Miller. Sounds good to me!

Of course, I'm a huge James Ellroy fan, so this event was something of a surprising treat for me (for some reason, I didn't realize that Ellroy was part of the program). As a public speaker, Ellroy is larger than life; his speech is deliberate, eloquent, unapologetic, and peppered with "colorful" expletives (they don't call him "Demon Dog" for nothing!). He asked Nesbø about 8 (excellent) questions about his background, writing process, the recent spotlight on Scandinavian Crime Fiction, and the genre in general. Both men were impressive in their thoughtfulness and candor.

Nesbø did not approach writing as a serious pursuit until he was 38, after successful careers as a musician, stock broker and economist. But his family life was always rooted in storytelling, and understands that there is something intrinsically human about the act; storytelling is in our blood.

Some highlights:

Ellroy proclaimed that the entire genre of crime fiction is complete bullshit, and nothing like any of the typical investigations we read about has EVER happened in real life. Yet, it's an agreement between the writer & reader. We're all in on it; everyone knows it's bullshit--but it's OUR bullshit. And we love it, with all the trappings.

He also disparaged all other types of fiction, saying that crime fiction is "The Real Shit."

Love that.

Nesbø admitted he was not an expert at any of the many disciplines that he evidently writes so eloquently about, but writes how he believes things could or should be, in those worlds. Afterwards, he turns to experts in those fields tell him if he's way off. Imagination is more important than accuracy.

He said that his writing is a "reaction to reading," humbly stating that he stands on the shoulders of tradition. That is, all he has read, by many masters of this and other genres.

"The punch line is NOT the story."

Regarding research, and extrapolating from it: "You lie better if you know you are lying."

All in all, a very entertaining, lively and enlightening conversation between two master storytellers. I'm looking forward to getting sucked in to Jo Nesbø's stories, and Ellroy's new memoir, The Hilliker Curse. His earlier autobiographical work, My Dark Places is among the very best books I've ever read.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

LA Arthritis Walk

Guess what? Today is my birthday!

Another one of those pesky milestones when we can look back and ahead, and reevaluate the progress of our lives. Tuesday isn't such a great day for a birthday, but I had some very nice times celebrating with friends & family last week. I feel very lucky, indeed.

Today I'm thinking about someone who isn't so fortunate, yet who has a wonderfully positive attitude. Our family friend's daughter Sophia was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at the age of two. This is a debilitating disease that has devastated her young life, as well as the lives of 300,000 kids in the U.S. alone.

This June, my wife and I are participating in the LA Arthritis Walk, to support Sophia , her family, and all the others. If you'd like to help, please consider a tax-deductible donation to the Arthritis Foundation by following this link. Your support would be great gift to Sophia...and to me, on my birthday! :)

Below, you can see Sophia, herself...


Friday, May 06, 2011

More Samples

In my continued effort to diversify my portfolio with design samples, I've put together this game package. Nobody has given me any feedback on this yet, so I hope I'm not posting this prematurely! Anyway, consider it a work-in-progress, and let me know what you think!

The logo is actually a type treatment for a webcomic side-project of mine, that I'll tell you about sometime when it's more "real." I decided to repurpose the logo for this fictitious western-style video game. The image on front is a composite of photos "found" on the internet, and the back cover images are (obviously) from the video game Red Dead Redemption. I haven't played that game (yet) but it looks super-cool. Rockstar Games published Red Dead, so I used their logo apologies!


Thursday, May 05, 2011

Revised DVD Cover Design

Here's a revised version of the To Live and Die in LA DVD cover that I posted last week. Just to be clear, this isn't a "real" job, but something I've been doing on my own to build up and diversify my portfolio. I've been fortunate enough to have been able to get some very good feedback on my original comp, by some generous people who do this stuff for a living (including one legendary designer who I met last weekend--more on that later!)

Take a look, and please leave me any feedback of your own, if you have the two cents to spare!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


I just read this article about my good friend and mentor Klaus Janson, and thought I'd share it here.

I've worked with Klaus several times in my career, most notably on Batman: Death and the Maidens and Batman: Gothic for DC, and on the Daredevil Visionary books for Marvel, which collected his legendary collaboration with Frank Miller. I first met Klaus when I was just a teenager at Marvel, and was always impressed with how personable and supportive he would be toward me and my fellow interns. I believe that's a terrific way to judge a person's character; to see how they treat people they don't need anything from. Sadly, not all of my teenage heroes lived up to that particular test.

Later, when I was editing the Shadowline Saga titles for Epic, I had the pleasure of really getting to know Klaus, as worked with us on St. George. Shortly there after, when I decided to go freelance, Klaus was very supportive, and took me under his wing. I worked alongside him in his studio on Gothic, and I can confidently say that every important thing I know about coloring comics, I learned from Klaus. I can even give him some of the credit for getting me into digital coloring, as my first digital project was Batman/Spawn, which he illustrated. It was largely due to Klaus's support that DC gave me a shot to color this high-profile book, using my fairly untested Photoshop skills!

Klaus is a great guy, and I'm proud to have him as a friend! He's been there for me many times, including when he flew out to LA for my wedding. Congratulations on his induction to the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy! (Even though he once put me and my family out in the snow during a blizzard...Now, that's a story...)