Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Greetings

Here's the inked version of this month's Christmas Incompatibles. In the past I've actually penciled all my lines and then beefed them up in P-shop. This time I used a Pigma brush pen on the lines and a 4H mechanical pencil for the shading. Doing the two parts of the drawing in different mediums presents a tone consistency issue. I could use a technical or crow quill pen for the shading, but it tends to be slow going. I like the strokes for the shading to be very quick so I need to experiment with a few other tools to find the best solution. Below is the final version.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Calendar Fini

The calendar is in the can. Phew! Coming up with 12 new gags was a good drill. I also solidified my process for formatting the panels for print. Up until this point I had only posted them online, I could get away with some digital liberties in soft display. Now I have a good boilerplate process to make them print and web optimized. My only missing piece in the process is a good Cintiq screen for flatting. I'm also looking into the viability of a good tablet (iPad or Galaxy) coupled with a Dagi stylus and Photoshop Touch. All I really need them for is to speed up my flatting/coloring process. Everything else is done by hand.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Movie Review: Breaking Dawn 2

Okay, I admit it. I've seen all of the Twilight movies—opening night in most cases (now where did I put that man card …). Here's another confession: I read all the books before the movies came out. You see, my wife and I made a deal a some years back: I'd read the first Twilight book, she'd read Ender's Game, one of my favorite books of all time. She kept her end of the bargain, but it didn't entice her enough to go on with the series (btw, I would recommend reading Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow—not the usual path through Speaker of the Dead … but I digress). I, however, read Twilight, then moved through all the other books as they came out. Reading the books was sort of akin to a big bag of Lay's potato chips; you know you shouldn't eat them, but man, once you get started, it's hard to stop. I remember when the first installment came to the theater, I was one of two men in a sea of women in the audience (moms and daughters mostly). The demographic evolved over time and I must say the testosterone was fairly well represented in this last one.

In reading the series, I found myself groaning inwardly while going through the last book. Breaking Dawn seemed like a real shoddy sum up of a lot of loose ends. In fact, I felt Meyer should've ended the series with the Eclipse, perhaps inserting the wedding scene as the ending. That was not meant to be as Bella and Edward go on to becoming parents (Renesmée? Really? Sounds like some Utah-parent fusion name) and taking on the entire Vulturi clan like some kind of global underworld adaptation of Seven Samurai. So I really ended up loathing Breaking Dawn the book.  

Be that as it may, I went into the cinematic conclusion of Twilight with an open mind. Ironically, the final movie seemed more satisfying than the final book. Just like the book, there were some adjustments that took getting used to: the addition of Bella's abilities as a vampire, and her hybrid daughter with accelerated growth issues. Yes, there was some hokey moments as the Cullens went about gathering allies for their stand against the Vulturi (viz., the Amazonians and Argentinians—they looked like injuns from a 50s western). And there was the flimsiness of an alliance formed at vampire speed. But the culminating portion of the conflict really actually … worked. And what's more, it dealt a surprise to everyone in the audience—even those who'd read the books! Now I'm not going to recommend BD2 as the best thing in the history of movie-making, but I can endorse it as a decent ending to a big bag of Lay's chips. Just be sure to follow it up with something more dense, like a Netflix marathon of Lord of the Rings. That should quiet the cinematic digestive tract. “B+

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Movie Review: Skyfall

With the 50th anniversary of the Bond franchise, the newest installment, Skyfall, hit theaters this weekend. I took in the latest offering at a packed Friday night viewing and was not disappointed. I will say that it doesn't feel like your typical Bond movie. It starts out with a roller coaster of an opening scene and sets up for what you expect in a usual 007 story. Halfway through, however, it takes a very personal turn and it almost feels as though one movie has ended and another begun. Not that it is a particularly bad thing, just different. I will say the villain is very unique in this installment. Silva (Javier Bardem), a wonderfully twisted psychopath, has meticulously planned revenge upon M (Judy Dench) and the M16. This movie leaves you with a warm fuzzy of nostalgia in its imagery (note Aston Martin above) and music. Adele's title song for the soundtrack conjures up 007 movies of yesterday and meaningful use of classic Bond guitar music anchors the mood well. A few personnel changes and introductions are made in this film that set up the series nicely for the next few installments. I hope Daniel Craig can find the fountain of youth through the next decade as he has proven to be one of my favorite Bonds.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Movie Reviews: Wreck It Ralph and Frankenweenie

Okay, I've been horribly remiss in keeping up on my movie reviews, so here are a few flash reviews for some of the latest flicks I've seen:

Wreck It Ralph
Animation good. Plot a little slow at first, even felt a bit contrived in parts (it's hard to shoehorn a bunch of video games into one film), but the story ends well and almost eked a tear out of me.  “B

Argh. Usual great animation from Mr. Burton. Felt like the script was written over the weekend. Some cute oldster, inside movie references throughout, but nothing that could stitch up the monstrous neglect to the story. Too bad.  “C+

Thursday, October 4, 2012

2013 Incompatibles Calendar

Announcing the 2013 Incompatibles Wall Calendar! Order before Nov 1st. Get your signed, limited edition copy here.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Stabs at Sketching

Here is some preliminary sketching for last week's Incompatibles installment. It’s funny how the drawing can lead to finer nuances in the narrative. Originally “Vegan Rituals” was slated to display a knife-toting priestess poised to sacrifice her giant carrot. As I was toying with different blades, the thought hit me: “Why a knife? It should be a peeler.” I think that one edit really added finish to the gag. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Toothpaste and OJ

This particular cartoon was a revamp of a gag I drew 20 years ago. Above is the second generation rough (you can see the blueline I'm drawing over). Yup, it's that sketchy until I'm satisfied with all the relationships. I started from scratch as the previous version was just a guy standing in a non-descipt background. I thought it would be more compelling to have the setting be a man in his bathroom mirror. Why he would have OJ in there? I have no clue. :)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Blueline of Strange Shopper

Above is the second-to-the-last blueline of my latest cartoon. I wanted to make this character look quirky with an odd fashion ensemble and a pose that reflected a shopping game face. It's not a matter of IF he's going to use the product, he's just weighing the different types at this moment.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Movie Review: Bourne Legacy

Caught the restart of the Bourne saga this last Thursday. It's fairly easy to summarize The Bourne Legacy: Try to imagine one of the earlier Bourne movies crossed with a movie like … say …  Beaches. Man, way too much talking and self-reflection here; not near enough KICKING BUTT AND TAKING NAMES. Lots of guys will go to this movie and walk out shaking their heads. The plot was solid, it just suffered from chronic action deficiency. It made the 2:15 run time feel like an eternity. Jeremy Renner did what he could with the script. He has the charisma and presence to take on this mantle, he just needs better material. Rachel Weisz played her part well too and she looked surprisingly youthful at 42. So no foul in regard to the acting personnel. Nupe, the fault here lay at the feet of the guy in the director chair, Tony Gilroy (coincidentally the co-screenwriter with his brother, Dan Gilroy). My advice to the two bros: do a marathon of Bourne Identity, Bourne Supremacy, Bourne Ultimatum and sprinkle in a little Rambo First Blood I and II for good measure; THEN write the script for next film. And, ooh, please omit the cheesy violin-cliff hanger riff at the end of the next movie. I groaned audibly when I heard it. I say keep the "legacy" of patootie-kicking action and let this new generation of Bourne find its own footing (and music). "B-"

Monday, August 6, 2012

Movie Review: Total Recall

Here's my brief recap of this remake of the 80s film by the same name: The futuristic earth world created was reminiscent of Blade Runner. The chase scenes and action were awesome. The actors were not easy to engage. In fact, if any character seemed somewhat interesting, it was Douglas (Colin Ferrell) Quad's villainous wife (Kate Beckinsale). She at least had a personality. Perhaps the chase plot gives us less time get to know these characters, perhaps the script and story just under use them. Either way, it seemed flat. On paper it looked like a home run; in reality, it was a double. Schwarzenegger need not fear.  "B"

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Background Details

You'll notice in the rough drawing above that I originally had a group of guys running away from the scene, as if they were unwilling participants in this warped game of tag. I elected to go with a playground scene in the background for the final. I found it more funny with boys who seem oblivious to the activity down the hill. You'll also notice the tagged guy's pants and shoes are different in the final.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Idea is the Thing

Above is one of the baby sketches I did last month during my fam's Utah/Nevada road trip. To me these are the most important sketches to get out of your head. The idea is the thing. I find that most of the time, the scribbly little thumbnail I generate is not far off from the final composition.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Movie Review: Dark Knight Rises

Chris Nolan wraps up his Batman trilogy with the release of Dark Knight Rises this last week. Nolan does usual justice to his finale by weaving a multi-threaded tale that pits newcomer terrorist, Bain, against Gotham's Caped Crusader. Throughout the film, Nolan reveals background details that cleverly frame the culminating final scenes of the movie. I can't describe too much of the movie without giving away spoiler details, so I will simply say who/what I thought worked, and what didn't:

Christian Bale
Bale was much better this time around than in Dark Knight. He really toned down his verbal performance, most notably in his delivery of Batman's gravelly voice. In DK, it seemed like he was spitting out his lines, perhaps feeling a little upstaged by Heath Ledger's Joker. But there was a restraint in his delivery this time that actually blended well with a Bat coming out of an 8-year, self-imposed retirement.

Anne Hathaway
I have to admit, I was really skeptical about Hathaway as Selena Kyle going in, but she made it work. There was a cool quirkiness to her rendition of Catwoman. And kudos to Nolan for really removing the feline caricature—the problem with previous big screen portrayals—in his script. It enabled Hathaway to execute Kyle with more depth and needed subtlety.

Tom Hardy
The role of Bain was handily executed by Hardy. It must have taken hours of gym dedication to get his back and torso in shape for this movie. And Hardy doesn't disappoint in his delivery of the super villain, although some comic enthusiasts might suffer some let down if they go in expecting a 3-D, effects-altered physique. Occasionally, Bain's words are a little difficult to understand through his face mask, but overall, he brings a memorable personality to a calm, matter-of-fact psychopath.

Michael Caine
Caine's Alfred shows a flare of emotion not seen in previous Batman installments. It allows us to see the butler in a more human light, a dimension of Alfred Pennyworth not seen in past incarnations (no disrespect to the late Michael Gough). Although we don't see too much of Alfred in this final installment, his delivery gives a lot of weight to this supporting role, reminding us that Bruce Wayne does have family.

It seems almost part and parcel: if you go to a Nolan film, expect a looooong sit. Fortunately he does an exemplary job of entertaining with a well-crafted story, but even the most accommodating bladder has its limits. This would be my only knock to DKR. There is a powerful march and rhythm to Nolan's films that takes you on an ever-upward roller coaster ride, with tense music always as the backdrop. Sometimes when it is drawn-out too long, the viewer can tire (at least I do—think of how you felt emotionally spent after DK and Inception). To his credit, Nolan does a fine job of tossing in a few valleys here and there to gives us a few respites before the culminating scenes, but 2-hours and 45 minutes is a long haul no matter how you slice it. So prepare mentally for a great movie, but go in knowing it will be a marathon. And do yourself a favor: hit the restroom before the show and sip your soda slowly and prudently.  "A"

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dance Edits

Above is this week's Incompatibles and below is a blueline sheet of the rain dancer. You can see that I was messing around with the different expressions he could make while doing his groove thang. I polled my family on this and they were split, so I finally went with my gut and chose the version of the guy with tightly shut eyes, biting down on his lip (versus puckered lips and wide-open eyes). With either pose, I just wanted to reflect his intense commitment to the artform. Sometimes edits are clear-cut black and white. Sometimes they are good-better-best. And sometimes they are just personal preference. This edit was the latter of the three.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Chicken Wing

A little play sketch of an Indian brave doing some funky chicken wing move (what's the name of this dance move???).  I've been doodling the facial expression and body position of this character this evening. He's going to be the focal point in my next Incompatibles panel. This is a quick ditty using my new Pentel water brush. Love it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Breathing For Dummies

Here's this week's Incompatibles installment. Above you can see the initial drawing before cleanup and coloring. I knew I'd be cropping the action on this, so I left it unfinished on the outskirts. In hindsight, I made his shirt a little too drapey, especially on his upper back. I think I got too happy crosshatching folds, that happens sometimes. I am happy with his overall pose and expression, though, particularly his left hand. It has that nice "throes of death" look about it. The fine balance here was not going too overboard on the blue in his lips and eyes. I wanted him to look just about expired. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Batmobile and Waterbrush

Saw this little gem while running errands around town this morning.

Also, I picked up a Pentel Aquash Waterbrush today. I couldn't seem to find it at the local art stores, but Hobby Lobby carried it. I love the new convenience of watercolor anywhere. Stay tuned for frequent posts of doodles w/ washes!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Closing in on Pavlov

Above is the final b&w art for "Pavlov's logs," and below is the completed panel. The finished cartoon is actually a re-edited version of what I thought was final. I colorized the panel in the morning and didn't compare it to some of my previous work like I usually do. I find this practice helps me to stay consistent in color saturation. Anyway, I colored it, posted it, and went out for a morning activity. When I returned, my wife told me that the posted cartoon was too light and anemic. Coming in the door with fresh eyes, I immediately saw what she was saying. Photoshop to the rescue. I made a few edits and here is the final-final. ;)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Movie Review: Amazing Spiderman

Was it an amazing Spiderman movie???

My answer: YES.

I recall some movie critics expressed misgivings at a revisit to Marvel's Spiderman franchise. Perhaps it was anticipated to be redundant story info, but Mark Webb, director of the newest Spidey reboot, Amazing Spiderman, has done an excellent job making trod territory seem pristine. I was never a diehard fan of Tobey Maguire as the web slinger. I'll admit, I liked him in the first movie. But as the trilogy trudged on, his depiction of Spidey really began the wear on me. This was not totally his fault; he was partly the victim in that he had to deliver an often corny script. I think I reached my limit when he bopped down the sidewalk in his venom-influenced personna in S3. They chose a good time to close the book on that series. 

Since then, it's clear that Marvel has learned a bit. They've taken notes from Chris Nolan's treatment of Batman; the proof being evident in their later X-men and Avengers threads. They've learned that serious comic book characters can exist on the big screen—serious characters that can be brooding AND clever without having to echo the schmaltzy corniness of old school comic pulp. Amazing Spiderman delivers a wonderful retelling of the web slinger's tale. It works as a love story, it works as a drama/comedy, and it works as an action-packed super-hero movie. The writing is surprisingly solid and the casting is spot on. 

Now I won't say there aren't a few plot-holes in the road, but the majority of the story delivers in a very satisfying way. Acting-wise Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are perfect leads. Their romance is believable and poignant. However, I think Garfield really steals the show here. He so accurately embodies Peter Parker as the gangly youth we all grew up with. At one moment he could look like an awkward teenager, then a cool super-hero—and then, hey—even a romantic leading man. The real litmus test for me was that he could cry without making me feel oogie (I still have scars from that Tobey Maguire scene in S3). There's an authenticity and sincerity I'm really digging in this new Spideyweb thread. My only disappointment is that I have to wait until 2014 for the next one!  "A"

Pavlov Blueline

The next Incompatibles is shaping up. This is the preliminary blueline from a few days ago. I've made some changes since then: I cropped the action a little tighter to bring more emphasis to the notepad, scaled back the log/table and added an horizon line beneath the table to give a sense of the far wall. One major overhaul was the architecture of the log harness table. As you can see, the perspective is totally wonky in this posting. It's like I was schizo on the vanishing points. That's what happens when I sketch when I'm drowsy. Stay tuned for the finished cartoon on Wednesday.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


The camera's point-of-view can have such an impact on the delivery of a joke. I was really mentally sold on the head on angle (above) of this cartoon before I even laid pencil to paper. But then I found I could streamline the cartoon (and actually make it a lot clearer) if I deleted the caption and incorporated it into the cartoon itself. Nope, it's not "Quiet Reading." It's the title of the book that will be overturned on the table beneath his head. I'm also deleting the death bubble; it felt extra. I wanted his body pose and facial expression to accomplish that. The overhead camera angle really kills quite a few birds with one stone in this instance.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Pavlov Background

Here are some early sketches on an upcoming Incompatibles. This gag's fairly obvious, so no cloak and dagger on its future caption. "Pavlov's Logs" is one panel that I wanted to be sure I nailed historically. Ivan Petrovich Pavlov is such an iconic figure in the science world, I wanted to be sure I didn't get called on the rendering of his likeness. Boy, he really did have that 1900s Russian scientist look, huh? Not sure if I'm going to go to the extent of having the log restrained similar to the dog. That kind of faithful detail might take away from the focus on the notepad.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sheephoarder Done

Here's the finished colored cartoon. Note how I added in a background for more context. I really think the perspective adds to the sense of a house bulging with livestock. I debated between red and blueish gray for the gal's hair color. A younger version of the hoarder won out.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


An upcoming Incompatibles installment. You'll note in the previous rough sketch I posted of this that I was conflicted between using a shepherd versus a woman. I split the difference and put a crook in the lady's hand. I think it works with the planned caption well. I took the original sketch and outputted it in blueline, then I went over it with a blue lead pencil and rendered it out further. Once I was happy with it, I inked it in quickly.

I scanned the previous image and blasted out the blue, leaving the ink behind. I then converted the remaining image into a refined, faint blueline for final penciling. I actually have cut out inking from my process—at least for my Incompatibles work—and use my pencils as my final art. I simply scan it into p-shop and adjust levels to arrive at my finished piece. Here's the resulting drawing. From here I go to digital cleanup and coloring. I used a different pencil/paper combo this time around and I really enjoyed the feel of it—even the roughness of it. Strange how the feel of the drawing implement and paper can enhance the making process—not in just the appearance of the art, but also in the enjoyment of making it. You may notice that I adjusted the woman's mouth. She looked a little too happy in the previous version. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Final Batman Cartoon

Here's the final colored version, complete with caption. This was kind of tricky color-wise and in the framing. I ended up zooming up and cropping out some of the bat cave and computer console. It just helped the focus of the composition in relation to the joke.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Dent Found

Wow, I totally thought this image was lost to the ages. I recently resurrected my old Powerbook and while rummaging through the drive, I found a small folder of Peck images. This drawing just really captures the atmosphere of a fictitious Sactown and the coolness of Dent.

Movie Review: Brave

Okay, I live in a world where I take it for granted that Disney/Pixar are hands-down THE most formidable entertainment tag team in the world. Their effects, animation/cinematography, character development, and stories are just so head and shoulders above the rest. And they've hit so many home runs in a row, you get to the point where your expectations are just so high. I think, however, I've finally experienced my first let down in their latest installment, Brave. Now, let me be clear, I give the movie an enthusiastic thumbs up. In fact I was so amazed at the animation (i.e., the bear playing in the stream)—it's just so stunning seeing where the technology has gone—but past that, the rubber meets the road at that pesky stretch of highway known as Story.
     Brave is your typical "girl-doesn't-to-want-conform-to-society's/family's-expectations" vehicle. And that packaging has worked so many times over, from Cinderella all the way to the more recent Tangled. I mean, think about how many times the premise has been used in the last 60+ years for Disney. But this time it just felt forced. Now, I don't think the vehicle is flawed, but I do think the story has to be exceptionally bullet-proof in order withstand the scrutiny of discerning movie fans these days. Let's face it, we sort of expect everything to be well-made. We're spoiled that way. And a weak story can't be frosted with slap-stick and special effects—not that those are bad things, but in this case it just really felt like a diversion from the less-than-sterling narrative. To Pixar's credit, they built an incredible world—lush and vivid with incredible detail. I'd watch it again, just to freeze frame it and study the backgrounds. But it all comes back to story. Story. Story. Story. "B+"

Bat B&W Final

Here's the final for the next Incompatibles installment. This was fun doing visual research on stalactites. Batman's eyes look like two pieces of coal right now, but I'll fix that digitally. I will also take care of the image on the big screen when I go to color in p-shop.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bat In Progress

Here's an Incompatibles in progress. I scanned the previous thumbnail from the road trip roughs and cut it up in p-shop. I adjusted the elements on different layers then re-outputted this version as a blueline to work out details and relationships better.

Here is the value study two steps later. You can see the adjustments that were made from the rough. I've zoomed the action to bring more focus to the characters. I really want to showcase the size of their bellies, but I think that will be more stated when color is added.  I love Robin's face at this point, but I'm not totally sold on Batman's mug. More tweaks will happen when I go to final pencils.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Value Study > Finished Drawing

Value study before rendering the final pencils. Here I decide what's going to be shaded by hand and what's going to be colored in p-shop.

And here's the finished b&w drawing. I made a lot of adjustments and additions in the detail. Compare the mane, saddle, ribbon, reins, mailbag and stirrup between the two versions. And below is the final colorized panel. I really enjoyed doing this one.

road trip roughs

Here are some Incompatibles sketches I did during our family vacation in Utah this last week. Many of these sketches are no more than 2–3 inches square. I like to render out ideas small, then—if I like what I see—I can scale them up on the computer and print them out as blue lines for further tinkering.

I can't give away the captions until they're finished, but some might be obvious.

The nuances of the pony and rider here can really tweak the interpretation.



Sometimes it's nice to space out the elements in the drawing, then select/overlap them in p-shop, especially ones involving a lot of structural perspective. I haven't tweaked this one yet, but will repost it when I've reworked it.

A crude little scrawl, but I like it.

An eventual twist on a Pavlov's dogs.