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December 31, 2010

Claire's Dumbledore Portrait

Since it is the holidays, I thought I would post some photos of a gift I painted for my girlfriend Claire last year.  It was a portrait of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, the greatest headmaster that Hogwarts ever had.  First I bought this old antique gold frame, and then I painted his portrait, using some special "Wizard Paints" that I ordered from a shop in Diagon Alley.

Claire and I were both amazed how well the Wizard Paints worked, because from time to time Dumbledore will get up to visit his other portrait frame in the headmaster's office at hogwarts! 

Claire moved in with me a few months ago, so this painting now rests above the head of our bed.  It's nice to know that Dumbledore is watching over us as we sleep, unless he is away tending to other important matters!

Happy New Years everyone.  Let's hope 2011 is a good one.  I'll do my best to post on here more regularly, so that you don't all have to wait until next winter to see what I've been working on all year.

December 15, 2010

Weezer Memories Tour VIP Posters

PLEASE NOTE: I do NOT have any extra copies of these posters! And I will ABSOLUTELY NOT give anyone a high-res file so they can print their own! Your best bet is eBay, but hardcore Weezer fans paid $500 (each!) for these posters, so you are probably not going to find them.

There's no way for me to know what the rest of my illustration career will hold, but I DO know that this year I got to draw the two coolest illustrations I will probably ever get to do.  Yes, as the title of this post says, I got to draw two posters for my all-time favorite band, WEEZER.

This summer, I got to go backstage at a Weezer concert in Vermont, which was easily one of the coolest nights of my life (the above link is a 3,000 word summary of the show).  After years of correspondence, I got to finally meet Karl Koch that night, who runs their website, documents and archives all kinds of information about the band, and in general, keeps the Weezer world turning.

Well, a few weeks after the show, I got an email from Karl, asking if I would like to design two posters for Weezer's upcoming "Memories" tour.  The idea for the tour is that Weezer plays two nights in each city, and on the first night they play a bunch of hits and then close by playing the ENTIRE Blue Album from start to finish.  Then the next night they do the same thing but play ALL of Pinkerton.  So NOT ONLY did they want me to do some illustrations for my favorite band, but they wanted me to focus on my two favorite albums of theirs.  This was a dream assignment, if ever there was one.

For the tour, Weezer is partnering with I Love All Access to offer these amazing VIP packages, which (for $500 a ticket!) include a meet and greet with the band, front row seats and some exclusive merchandise, including my posters!  Since most of you probably can't afford those rates, here are some  .JPEGs for you to enjoy instead (click to make bigger).

The deadline for this project was pretty tight, so Karl suggested I start with some other illustrations I had been making for Weezer (more on that later!) and put them in a grid - one illustration for each song.  If you don't know every word to every song on these albums, I'm afraid most of these will go over your head, but I was assuming that people who are paying $500 for a ticket will get the inside jokes!

Initially the posters were in full color, but then Karl suggested I limit the palette, which I did, based on the cover art of each album (I also carefully matched all of the lettering from both albums).  Then as a last step, Karl showed the posters to Rivers for final approval.  Rivers asked us to hide a secret message in the posters, which I did.  Needless to say, it was SUPER cool to have his input!!!

For payment, I received some money, but MORE IMPORTANTLY, tickets to the New York stop of the Memories tour!  Claire and I are heading down to the city on Thursday and this weekend we are going to ROCK OUT, old school Weezer style!

December 5, 2010

Baby Nogard for Sam

At the end of last school year, the CCS operations manager, Valerie Fleisher, gave birth to her first child, Sam.  Here's Sam with his Mom a few months later, at the 2010 CCS graduation party.

val & sam

Because CCS is a school full of cartoonists, our boss James asked us all to make some drawings for Sam, which he collected in a book and gave to Val after Sam was born.  I decided to make a drawing of my Nogard the Dragon character as a baby, sort of like the Muppet Babies or Tiny Toons or something.  I tried my best to make it as cute as possible!

November 28, 2010

L'âge Dur Guest Drawing

Another project that my Belgian friend Max de Radiugès recently wrapped up, was his minicomic series  "l'âge dur" or, "the difficult age."  Each minicomic contained a short story about a teenager, and all of the stuff that happens to people at that age.  They were drawn straight to ink, as a relaxing, fun project for Max to work on while he was taking a break from his big book "Demi" which he is ALSO wrapping up (he's a busy guy these days, can you tell?)

On the inside cover of each issue, Max has a guest artist draw a moment from those difficult teenage years.  I was honored to be asked to make a drawing for the very last issue.  I chose to depict one of my most important teenage moments - sitting in the back of my Chevy station wagon, during lunch hour, in the high school parking lot,  on September 24th, 1996, listening to Weezer's "pinkerton" for the very first time.  If you've never heard this album, I suggest you check out the deluxe edition, which was just released.  I believe it is one of the most incredible albums ever created.

A collection of all the L'âge Dur minicomics (plus a few new stories!) will be out in January 2011 from L'employé du Moi.

November 21, 2010

Before the Catastrophe

For a long time, my Belgian cartoonist friend Max de Radiguès was making a series of drawings from life, which he called "Before the Catastrophe."  Each drawing is labeled with some amount of time before the catastrophe (ie. "three days before the catastrophe") which gives the whole series a sense of impending doom.

Another Belgian self-publisher, Nicolas Verstappen (who works at the amazing BD shop La Bulle d'Or) decided to make the 20th issue of his comics interview zine XeroXed a tribute to this project, and collected "catastrophe" drawings from a variety of other cartoonists.  If you understand French, you can read more about it on this page.  Here was my contribution:

This is a drawing of my Grandparents' bed, in Charlottesville, VA.  I traveled there this summer to attend my Grandfather's funeral.  At the time, the deadline for this illustration was getting closer and closer, so I thought I would make a drawing of his bed from life.  However, the weekend was very hectic, so I had to settle for drawing this from a photograph, after the fact.  

In this drawing, the bed is unchanged from how it was during the last night that my Grandfather spent in it.  The portrait on his bedside table is of my Grandmother, who died lying in this exact same spot, four months later.

NEXT WEEK: Something a little less depressing!

November 14, 2010

Rebecca Engelberg & Matthew Witcher Wedding Invites: Part 2

If you've ever been involved with the planning of a wedding, you know that more than one invitation needs to be sent out!  Below are a few more invitations that I designed for Rebecca and Matt's wedding. The first one is for the rehearsal dinner, which was held at the Chinese Cultural Plaza.  Rebecca said she wanted Chinese lanterns, so I drew these, and used Google Translate to look up the symbols for "Happiness" and "Love" which I put on the lanterns.

There was a brunch the morning after the wedding that also required an invitation.  I was drawing a blank about what image to use, and then for some reason, the idea of using a hermit crab came to me (maybe because my sisters and I had a pet hermit crab when we were little?)  He sort of fit with the beach theme, and I hoped that the continued use of hand-lettering and a similar format would tie everything together.  Supposedly a lot of people wrote in to say how much they liked this little guy!

Lastly, they needed an RSVP card.  I had some lame idea, which I can't remember now, but Rebecca had the great idea of using a message in a bottle.  This made it very easy on me, and I knocked out the rest of the invitation, no problem.

Next week... something entirely different!

November 7, 2010

Rebecca Engelberg & Matthew Witcher Wedding Invites: Part 1

Wow, three and a half months without a post on this blog?!  I've drawn lots of illustrations in that time, I just haven't had the time to post them!  I'm going to try and get caught up with my posting during these last few weeks of 2010, so that I end up with more than the pathetic 11 posts I had last year.

This week I'll be talking about some wedding invitations that I made for my oldest family friends, the Engelbergs.  Their daughter Rebecca asked me to design the invitations for her and her fiance (now husband) Matthew.  Rebecca sent me a lot of ideas from various wedding magazines and websites, but said this was her favorite:

UPDATE: I finally found out this beautiful invitation was designed by Anna Bond who makes custom wedding invitations at Rifle Paper Co.  She also has an awesome design blog - go check out her work!

I always feel weird when clients ask me to base an illustration off of another, but it does save me a lot of time, and in the end, I always change enough, that I'm using the original piece as inspiration more than just copying it.  But it still doesn't feel quite right...  Anyway, here's the sketch that I sent to Rebecca and Matthew:

Rebecca and Matt were married in Hawaii, so I added a beach with a palm tree, Diamond Head in the background and instead of animals, I changed it to a single heart constellation.  The initial design was 2-color (blue and black) but Rebecca and Matt decided they wanted the design to be in full color, so they could incorporate some orange, which was the wedding color.  Here's the final design, which you can click to make bigger:

Next week I'll show some of the other invitations that I designed for this wedding!

July 22, 2010

Ramen Music #1 Cover

Today, my old friend Sudara launched which is one of the coolest ideas for a music website ever.  It's going to be kind of like a bi-monthly music anthology and it takes the standard music business model (where the label keeps almost all of the money, and the artist gets very little) and turns it on its head.  You can read a lot more about it on the site, and you should, because Sudara is one of the most brilliant guys I've ever met.  (He's also the mastermind behind if you've heard of that).

So when Sudara came to me at the beginning of this year and asked if I would like to do some art for Ramen Music, I LEAPED at the chance.  It met all of my criteria for an illustration DREAM job:

1) I got to work with a close friend, whom I respect and admire.
2) I had complete creative control.  (the only requirement was that the images somehow related to music)
3) The illustration would be used to help a project that I really believed in, and wanted to succeed.

Below is the first cover I drew, which they will be using for the very first "issue" of Ramen Music, which will be out in September.

I did four other covers, which I will post as they are used on the site.  For now, please go check out  You can sign up for a subscription, or if you are a musician, you can submit your songs for review.  If they are accepted, you will be paid well for your work!

June 30, 2010

Liz Prince Thank-You Paintings

As some of you might have seen on on my other blog, I recently bought a Pinball machine. This all came about because of my good friend Liz Prince, who put me in touch with the previous owner of the pinball machine. Not only that, but Liz also introduced me to my amazing girlfriend Claire. Liz ALSO put me up at her place a number of times while I was visiting Claire's family in Santa Fe, traveling to a comic convention and buying the pinball machine. I therefore decided that a thank-you painting (or two) was in order!

I decided to take a leaf out of Gabby's book of tricks and try to do paintings of Liz's two cats, Wolf Man and Dracula, whom she loves very dearly. Step one was to find some reference of Liz's cats, which was super easy, because Liz has tons of pictures of her cats up in a Flickr set. Below is an example (can you guess which cat is which?)

Next, I wanted to get some reference from some old monster movies, because Liz had no Wolf Man or Dracula MONSTER stuff in her apartment. I found some old posters with really great hand lettering:

Next I drew the cats, and the lettering, then lightboxed them onto some watercolor paper and painted them. I used some Martin's Dyes for the lettering and bases, to really make the color pop. This is not the best scan in the world, and as you can see, I'm no Gabby Schulz, but you get the idea.  (Click on the image to make it bigger!)

I waited for a few days, and didn't hear back from Liz...  I was starting to get worried that the paintings might have gotten lost in the mail.  Then, one day I found a letter from Liz in the mail!  (Click on the image to make it readable!)

You're welcome Liz.  Thank YOU!  So yeah,  if somehow you don't already know, Liz is a really great cartoonist.  You should totally go take a spin around her site,  It's got an awesome art section, with tons and tons of her comics posted online for FREE, and there is also a store section, where you can buy all of Liz's minicomics (including her BRAND NEW comic, I Swallowed the Key to My Heart #1).  She's one of my favorite cartoonists, so if you haven't already, you should definitely go check out her work!

May 19, 2010

"Eat to a New Beat" comic

My old buddy Ezra Claytan Daniels contacted me a few weeks ago about doing some comics for a cool new site he built, for a campaign called Eat to a New Beat. The idea is to get kids and teens to eat more healthfully by making it seem cool through comics, movies and other internet hijinks. You can check out my comic, and comics by my friends Aaron, Nate and Sarah on their Comics page and there are even little mini-interviews with us too!

Also, I've been working on some other small illustrations lately, so hopefully I'll be posting those in the coming weeks. Until then!

March 25, 2010

Microcosm Catalogs are in Print!

Yesterday I got a whole box full of the new 2010 Microcosm Publishing Catalogs. They look great! I'm really happy with how they turned out. The 2-color printing looks pretty rad on the newsprint. They ended up using the Wolf spot illustration, but not the dragon one, oh well!

Claire sent me this photo, showing a copy she found in her local coffee shop in Oakland, CA. And Nate said he saw some a few weeks ago at the Chicago Zine Fest, so these things are OUT there! You can get one for 1 cent over at Microcosm Publishing or I'm sure they'll throw one in ANY order you place for the rest of this year. I'll also have copies to give away at a bunch of comics shows this year, so check it out!

March 19, 2010

Nate Beaty Thank-You Painting

I made this little watercolor for my good friend Nate Beaty, who helped me update my personal site when he was visiting a few weeks back. This, hot off the heels of his massive Top Shelf overhaul. Nate spends A LOT of time on the computer and one of the main themes in his comics work is his hatred for the machines, so this image seemed like something he might like.
I'm still focused pretty heavily on comics and teaching right now, but I HAVE done some illustrations recently, so once they are public, I will post them here!

February 17, 2010


I finally put some links into the sidebar of this blog. I split them up into three sections: 1) Homies - other friends of mine who are illustrators, including some of my classmates from the Pratt illustration program. Making this list made me realize that I need to create an updated links page on my comics site so that I can list all of the AWESOME cartoonists I know, which would be a list THREE times as long as this one. 2) Leaders - these are contemporary illustrators, whose work I admire the most. 3) The Greats - in my opinion, these are some of the greatest illustrators who ever lived!

If you see some unfamiliar names on there, please follow the links, they are all highly recommended!

February 8, 2010


Here is an illustration I drew for the archive of 2010 blog posts on my personal site. I create one of these each year, and with each one I try to visually show what is in store for the upcoming year. Well, in 2010 I'm pretty excited about Pinball (though astute followers of the silver ball should immediately notice something wrong with this playfield design) and I'm going to be working pretty hard on my personal life, as well my professional life.
I thought this post was going to be all about how I'm trying to stay focused on comics this year, so I can finish up the next chapter of Basewood. I thought there wouldn't be many illustrations coming out of me this year, but a few 2010 illustration projects have already reared their heads, so I guess I'll be posting some stuff on here after all!