Jan 27 2010

Old Sketch of the Day #1

Published by under sketchbook

I’ve been scanning old sketchbooks, and I thought I’d share random cool stuff from them on days when nothing else is begging to be posted. I’ll start with a particularly creative sketchbook I had going back around ’97 when I was working as the concept artist for a company called GameFX.

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Jan 26 2010


Published by under sketchbook,travel

I just found this little pastel I had started in my sketchbook on a trip to Maine last year (or maybe even the year before). I messed around with it a bit more, and thought I’d post it.

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Jan 25 2010

Late Christmas

Published by under sketchbook

I meant to post these a while ago. When I was home for the holidays we went to a lovely Christmas Eve service at the Montpelier UU church, and I made some graven images :-)

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Jan 21 2010

Graphic novel event on February 6th

Published by under appearances

Sponsored by the Boston Graphic Artists’ Guild, MassArt, and Comicopia, this event is open to the public (though it isn’t free). I am essentially headlining it. Which is cool! I’ll do a presentation, then be part of a panel about publishing, and then do portfolio reviews. It should be a pretty good time, if you are interested in graphic novels and how they get made.


Thanks to Ed Shems for taking the lead on making this happen.

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Jan 20 2010

Interview in School Library Journal

Published by under press


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Jan 20 2010

Envelope Tattoo

Published by under sketchbook

Just a silly doodle that came out looking like Hervé Villechaize.

Doodle on an envelope that kind of looks like Hervé Villechaize

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Jan 19 2010

Quick sketches from an aikido class

Published by under Uncategorized

This is always a challenge. The movement is pretty constant and pretty fast.

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Jan 18 2010

Horse animation

In my quest to improve my horse drawings, I thought it might be a good idea to try a little animation. This is pretty rough, and it’s basically just a copy from Eadweard Muybridge‘s Animals in Motion, but it made me practice drawing the proportion and structure of the horse quickly, and it was also a chance to play with Photoshop’s animation capabilities. Did you know Photoshop has animation capabilities? I just discovered this a few weeks ago, and I really like the possibilities for animating with painterly tools (of the sort you won’t find in Flash).

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Jan 16 2010


Published by under animals,horses,sketchbook

I’m trying to work on some of my weaknesses, one of which is drawing horses. I can draw them fine from reference, but it’s not always easy to find the correct pose and angle, and the mental model I have of their anatomical structure isn’t very good. Here are a few practice studies, and I’ll probably be doing more in the coming weeks.

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Jan 15 2010

Ghostopolis, by Doug Tannapel

Published by under reviews

One of the perks of living with Alison is that not only does she bring home a lot of books, she brings home books that aren’t out yet. These are called “advance reader copies”, or ARCs. Sometimes they are things I’ve asked her for, but more often they’re things I didn’t even know about.

Ghostopolis ARC cover (not final)

This week she handed me an uncorrected proof of Doug Tennapel‘s new book with Scholastic, Ghostopolis. I would give you a link, but it’s not up on Scholastic’s website yet.

Now, I’m mostly familiar with Doug’s video game work, as Earthworm Jim came out during MY first year working in video games, and caused quite a stir. But I also know that he has a following for his comics, and I recently watched a nice video of him inking. So I started reading Ghostopolis right away instead of throwing it on the “to read eventually” pile. Here, then, is my review/preview. You will only have to wait until July to read the book yourself (sorry).

Ghostopolis is the story of two unlikely heroes: a young boy named Garth (it’s hard for me not to type Gareth) who lives with his single Mom and has an unspecified terminal illness, and a slightly over-the-hill ghost hunter named Frank. Frank works for the Supernatural Immigration Task Force, and his job is to banish ghosts back to the afterlife where they belong. (He’s more like a kid-friendly version of Harrison Ford in Blade Runner than Bill Murry in Ghostbusters.) Frank is trying to banish a particularly pesky skeletal horse when the unthinkable happens — he accidentally sends Garth, a living boy, into the afterlife. Rescuing Garth will require herculean efforts and lots of help from his ghostly ex-girlfriend Claire Voyant.

It’s a very involving story, pretty fast-paced with lots of humor but also a slight undercurrent of “hey we’re talking about death here”. I read it in two sittings. There are a few plot points I found hard to swallow, such as how ghosts and people can touch each other, and how you can ride a skeleton horse at high speed without the spiky vertebrae ripping your groin to shreds. And the ending has a huge, double deus ex machina. But hey, the story makes no pretense of being realistic, so I still enjoyed it quite well. The characters are fun and convincing, and almost all of them get their own story arc resolutions by the end of the book.

The artwork is excellent. Tennapel has lovely fluid brushwork, and the characters are well designed and always recognizable. Backgrounds occasionally get shortchanged, but not enough to be a problem. Only the first 16 pages of the ARC are in color, but I believe the final book will be full-color throughout, and the coloring is very well done.

The book is aimed at grades 5-7, which seems about right. Adults will probably enjoy it too, but find it a bit light and fluffy. By the way, that cover above may not be the one on the final book, as ARCs often don’t have final covers.

Supposedly Ghostopolis is also being made into a movie with Hugh Jackman. No idea what age range that will be aimed at, but clearly Tennapel is popular in Hollywood. I’m sure my review will now push him into superstardom.

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