Wednesday, August 31, 2011

COMIC ART _ Some Short Press

(poster by Craig Thompson) 

Small Press Expo 2011 is right around the corner (Sept 10 and 11) and there will be a number of premieres there. Cartoonist bud Mike Dawson will be releasing his Graphic Novel TROOP 142, mentioned in the previous post.

While I was working on FEEDING GROUND I also had the chance to collaborate on a few short stories that are out now or will be out soon.


(cover by Aaron Bir)

The first is called SPARKLER, a two page tale written by my FEEDING GROUND co-hort Swifty Lang that appears in the horror issue of THE GATHERING Anthology by Grayhaven Comics. Not easy to tell a story in two pages but I think Swift found a unique entry through childhood memories and into horror that gets under your skin. And, we came up with an ending that keeps burning.

I had also contributed to the first issue of THE GATHERING and #4 is on sale HERE. 


(cover by Blake Sims) 

I'm really excited to be included in the ROCKTRONIC MIXTAPE #2 anthology also premiering at the Con. The comic is full of shorts illustrating the songs and adventures of the real-life band Americans/UK as told by lead singer, writer, and mastermind Jef UK. I'm in the mix illustrating their song SONS OF BA'AL as a biker battle between the band and the combined forces of God, Death, and The Sea. Some concept art HERE.

The book will also feature a host of some of my favorite cartoonists: Aaron Bir, Blake Sims, Ben Rosen, Zees, and John Mathias. All said, RAWK!

Monday, August 22, 2011

THE COMIC FIX _ While I was gone

Just got back from a paradise vacation of beaches and scuba diving (see my sea turtle video HERE) and did my best to totally unplug and ignore social media. But, I'm new to Twitter ( @m_lapinski ) and most of my feed is filled with comic pros and updates that are a fix for the often addictive personality that comic fans like myself exhibit. I've wanted to start including more of the work of others on this blog and figured I'd use the occasion to kick it off with news of books that hit the Twitterverse while I was gone.


There isn't a single book that I'm more excited about than the FALL 2011 release of the Graphic Novel adaptation of A TALE OF SAND, an unpublished screenplay by Jim Henson and collaborator Jerry Juhl. Jim and his works have been a great influence on my creativity and personality, recently rekindled by the exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens. Published by Archaia Entertainment, our publisher for FEEDING GROUND, this book and much of the Henson library is under the great curatorial care and vision of Archaia Editor-in-Chief Stephen Christy. As illustrated by cartoonist Ramón Pérez, the story is conveyed with an elastic realism that evokes both a dream logic and earthy performances like those that populate the works of Will Eisner.

You can see an interview with Stephen about the project HERE.

Last week, Stephen continued to elaborate on the care and attention to detail being brought to this book in the following Tweets:
For TALE OF SAND we are going through old films that Jim Henson made in the 1960s and pulling colors from the footage to inform our coloring

The font that we're creating for TALE OF SAND is based on Jim Henson's handwriting, so the book will look like Jim lettered it himself!

You know a book is going to be crazy when you have to send 12 reference photos to printers to show them what it should look like
And, check out an interview with Ramón about the book HERE as well as a look at a fun earlier comic KUKUBURI.


As far as comic process blogs go, THE SELF-ABSORBING MAN by Marvel artist Paolo Rivera is a must-read resource for tips, tricks, tools and an overall appreciation of what it takes to be a professional artist working at the top of his game.  Paolo is smart about his work and, whether it is his fully painted art or pencil and ink cartoons, there is a plan and playfulness under his polished execution.  He is currently a part of the genre re-defining run on the Marvel superhero comic DAREDEVIL and I can, and will, dedicate an entire post on what makes that book tick. But, the first thing that ever caught my attention about Paolo was how, on top of photo reference, he has often sculpted reference maquettes of his lead characters in clay prior to illustrating a book.

More recently, Paolo discovered the free CG sculpting program SCULPTRIS and Tweeted the results:
I think this is gonna be Matt Murdock:
That's more like it:
I was able to pick this program up immediately, and I'm already making digital maquettes for myself.

Yep. It's crazy easy to use. I downloaded it yesterday, but just started using it an hour ago.


ZEGAS by Michel Fiffe

OK, I missed the book launch party at Bergen Street Comics in Brooklyn but I read the strip when it first appeared on Act-i-vate and now the book is available on ETSY.  "Abstract" or "Surreal" don't do justice to describe a work in which every line and mark and color choice is as engrossing as a full narrative.

TROOP 142 by Mike Dawson

I WILL be in town for the book launch party of this one at Bergen Street comics on Sept 2.  I also followed this one when Mike was publishing it as an online comic and it has a supremely honest ear for the awkwardness and malevolence of boys and men trying to wear the too big suit of "masculinity."  His essential cartooning is punctuated by finely rendered moments of nature, a dichotomy often employed in the best of Manga.

Plus, a troop badge!

LOOSE ENDS written by Jason Latour, drawn by Chris Brunner, and color by Rico Renzi

I've been crowing about this book since I fist saw the preview for FREE COMIC DAY but it was Axel Alonso, the new Editor-in-Chief of Marvel who Tweeted:
Do yourself a favor & read "Loose Ends," by @jasonlatour, Chris Brunner & @whoisrico. What a page-turner! Updates at
The creative team seems to be working from a single mind and spirit and evokes a dangerous southern-fried world that is as fully-formed and specific as it is evocative as a work of art. Renzi's color is particularly exciting to me and is right in line with my own thoughts and approach to color. Check his blog HERE and more LOOSE ENDS art by the Comic Twarters HERE.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

PAWS AS HANDS _ 101st Post!

Not sure if you know this, but Google recently upgraded their STATS tab as a resource in Blogger that provides a great deal of information to the blogger about how many hits a blog's posts are getting, where in the world people are reading them, and how readers are finding them. AND, this is all can be laid out in a period over "all time" down to "now."

While I started this Blog as a way of sharing my learning curve in creating and illustrating my first comic book, FEEDING GROUND, the most popular posts are above and beyond those linking to designs for CHICKIEPOO & FLUFF: BARNYARD DETECTIVES, a pilot I designed and art directed for Nickelodeon. The pilot wasn't picked up but on any given day there are still people checking into this site, often from Latin America where I'm told that the pilot and interstitials are still on the air. It puts a smile on my face to picture, as one commenter told me, kids asking to go online to check out the chickies. For their sake, I hope they don't also run across a werewolf or two.

(ABOVE: Stickers I designed for the Chickiepoo art and production team)

Below are a few more stats and links and weirdness that came up on the Stats tab.Thanks again to artist Tim Hamilton for nudging me into setting this up in the first place:

- Of the Top 5 Posts, the Top 3 are Chickiepoo-related and #5 are some costume sketches I did of Marvel's Thor as an exercise in character design.

- The #4 most popular Post, YOU'LL BE A WOMAN SOON, was about drawing female characters, but, stats suggest that the real draw was the fact that I mentioned actress Emily Mortimer as inspiration.

- One day, a Google search for the phrase "Plump her up a bit" led 2 hits to the site.

- Outside of the US, the most number of readers come from Mexico.

- If you're reading this and would like more info on comic craft in particular, check this link to notes on a series of classes I took with comic master Klaus Janson at MoCCA in NYC.

Thanks for taking the time to read this or any of the previous 100 posts and let me know if there's anything you'd like to see or read about in the future.  I'll continue to do updates on FEEDING GROUND and other projects but would also like to shift some light onto other artists and craft in general.

You can join this site if you have a G-mail account by hitting the button on the right and you can also follow me on Twitter at m_lapinski

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Today, after 2+ years of gestation and creation, the sixth and final issue of FEEDING GROUND goes on sale.  Along the way, we've had the great boon of meeting so many other talented comic people, some of whom were cool enough to contribute art based on our creation.  Pin-ups and articles can be found throughout the mini-series (5, 4, 3) and the floppy comics are the only way you'll be able to read/collect the story as a bi-lingual English/Spanish flip book.

Here's a look at some of the art and artists in this issue.

I first discovered Tim's artwork hanging on the walls of Bergen Street Comics in Brooklyn; inked pages for his creator-owned work ADVENTURES OF THE FLOATING ELEPHANT and I was glued to them. Tim's inks are a daunting play of light and dark and he's equally adept at noodling gag strips as he is at lush illustrations.  Even his warm up sketches on Drawbridge so more smarts and style than many finished pieces.

NOTE: It was also Tim who suggested that I start a blog in the first place.

Javier is one of those creators that I was able to meet due to the book.  Creator of El Muerto and Weapon Tex Mex, Javier is a comic creator and entrepreneur whose works have the crackling innovation and energy of the Silver Age.  He also co-founded the first annual Latino Comics Expo this year.

GB and I met years back through mutual friends and he was one of a few guys who I knew to be doing comics for real and who inspired me to give it a shot myself.  An accomplished illustrator, designer, and cartoonist, GB's talents and voice all came together in his beautifully observed and rendered autobiographical graphic novel VIETNAMERICA. For FEEDING GROUND, he went much lighter and actually contributed the one humorous pin-up for the book and we're glad to have him close things out.  Bonus: HERE are his process pics for the illustration.

And, double bonus, here's a rough pin-up/ cover concept by yours truly that never found its way into the series.

Monday, August 1, 2011

BLUE'S CLUES _ Back in Blue

Now that I'm at the tail-end of FEEDING GROUND, I was cleaning out some files and came across my folder of art from one of my first jobs: Lead Digital Designer on Nickelodeon's BLUE'S CLUES.

I'm very proud to have been a part of that show and a process that included an almost entirely self-contained animation production line in Midtown Manhattan.  That crew essentially pushed the use of Adobe Photoshop and After Effects to the degree that future versions of both programs accommodated the needs of our process.

Essentially, an in-house team of artists would sculpt and craft objects that they would photograph and import into Photoshop.  Those art elements were then adjusted and assembled by the Digital Design team to create the backgrounds and characters of the show who were then animated by the Animation Department one row over.  For me, nothing beats working with friends and creative peers on a project and seeing the results evolve exponentially across each department.

Cheers to BLUE'S CLUES and everyone that touched it.

(The Blue's Clues staff makes a guest appearance in this shot.  Can you spot me?
The shot itself was composed by Kelly O'Brien - lower right)

(A collection of some of my favorite elements that I worked on for the show)

Below are a few Illustrations I did for BLUE'S CLUES and BLUE'S ROOM for various Nickelodeon publications.