Monday, December 31, 2007

2008 already? Yikes!

A message from our buddy Leroy:

Ditto! And from all three of us: Happy New Year Everyone!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Belated Thanksgiving (pie!) post and some warm-up art

This is a drawing I was warming up with the other day and then I put in some paint to screw around a bit before getting to work. Not much else that I've done that I can show here, so...on to some Thanksgiving pictures!

Laini and I hosted a smaller crowd than we have in recent years (my awesome mom, and my sister and her family weren't able to make it up this year, darnit) but we still made WAY too much food. Good thing we like left-overs (speaking of which, we polished those off tonight at dinner -- sigh...)

Here's a pic taken by Laini's mom at our dinner table:

Her sweet mom had gotten me this (highly recommended!) pie cookbook for my last birthday:

And here're a few pix of the pie-making process, including the (if I may say so myself!) impressive cross-section pic once we started cutting it!

Oh, and lastly, for those who've been following Laini's blog about how nature has been coming to attack us, here's the latest assault. That's right, murderous seagulls!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Jim at work, Floater art, & a tattoo design

I can't really show what I'm currently working on, but below is a pic of me from yesterday shortly after beginning the drawing for...something. Our dog Leroy, who's ever-present wherever we are, was lying on one of his beds to my left (out of the frame). (I'll have to put up a post about him real soon and the great med injections he's been getting that have been working wonders for his arthritis. Love that dog! :)

In case anyone is wondering, I'm working on a large sheet of 500 series Strathmore plate bristol board (my preferred drawing surface). This paper is SO resilient and can really hold up to an amazing amount of erasing and re-drawing without wearing out, AND it's great for watercolors, oils, whatever (if you're going to oil paint on it though, you do have to prepare the surface). Anyhow, at this stage I was lightly laying out the placement of everything in the piece with a "2H" pencil, and then I'll switch to my handy-dandy mechanical pencil with it's "B" lead once I know where everything's going.

Also, here's the whole piece I did for the band Floater a month or so ago. I'd put up a small portion of it previously, but since it's been a while, it's on their MySpace page, and they've been selling t-shirts of the design, I figured it'd be okay. This piece was actually done on Strathmore watercolor cold press paper with "Calli" jet black india ink and a dip pen/pen nib:

Lastly, a really nice guy who's been a supporter of my art ever since Laini and I published THE DROWNED with Image Comics (in 2004) hired me a couple weeks ago to re-interpret the tattoo that the John Constantine character has on both of his forearms in the movie "Constantine" (a movie that Laini and I LOVED!). The design is called the "sulfur of perfection," and the movie's based on a Vertigo Comics series titled "Hellblazer" which has been anywhere from great to awful depending on who's written it over the years. Here's Keanu sporting the tats (at one point in the movie he presses the two tattoos together and speaks a spell to summon an angel played by Tilda Swinton (awesome!)):

And here's the tattoo slightly redesigned by me:

Speaking of Hellblazer and John Constantine, I'd done some pages for Vertigo on spec (i.e.- for free. Blech! Glad to have that part of my career behind me!) about 5 years ago, but didn't get hired at the time (waaah! Actually, since I'm not sure that I could have kept up on a monthly book, it was probably for the best! :) If anyone's interested, 2 of those pages can be seen here and here.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The TV Equation

Does anyone know what happened on "Heroes" this past Monday? (I missed it) -- oh wait, I just don't care anymore. In fact, I came across this scientific study conducted at several top Universities nationwide about the show and it's current level of quality:

Lame season finale + lame premiere + lame 2nd week episode = bye bye!!

Hmm. Makes sense to me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Not For Robots apparel and...Vlad the Installer!

I met a lot of very kind folks at the Kidlitosphere Conference this past weekend, and some of them were kind enough to say very nice things about the cover I did for Laini's book and about my art in general (thanks everyone! :) One of the most vocal was the (very talented herself) author, Kidlitosphere organizer, and wonderfully silly Robin Brande. One of the things we talked about once or five times was how much she'd like a t-shirt design done of the "Not For Robots" banner and also of the cropped "Not A Robot" design that Laini had printed up as a pin and was giving out all weekend. It features some art I did for Laini's banner and when she mentioned it, I felt silly that I hadn't thought of that either. Anyhow, thanks Robin, and here are three of the shirt options among others on my Cafe Press store:

I should note for those interested, that if you DO happen to order a shirt or other apparel item, request the "Heat Transfer" printing option whenever it's available for that item. It's not always an option depending on the shirt style, but I think it looks much better.


As Laini mentioned on her blog yesterday, we were supposed to have our almost 50 year old furnace replaced yesterday by an installer named Vlad. She also mentioned that I immediately called him (to Laini, not to him) "Vlad the Installer." (click here, if you're not sure where my (bad???) pun comes from). Our suspicions grew when he first showed up REALLY early for the appointment:

And then he asked me to help him get the new furnace out of the box:

Okay, enough with the bad jokes (maybe). Actually, as it turns out, he didn't end up doing the job since some building code or other required him to put in a "return air" vent and he didn't seem to want to get into our crawl space (he said there were too many pipes between the heater's base and where the vent would go) and because of that, he didn't think the job could be done and left. Right after he left, I looked down in the crawl space and guess what???? Not a single pipe! So, Vlad, I'm not sure why you didn't want to install our heater, but know that an hour later, another installer was out here saying he could totally do the job completely up to code AND (!!! bonus!!!) he wouldn't try to snack on our necks.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Kidlitosphere Conference 2007

WOW! Laini and I got home last night after attending the First Annual Kidlitosphere conference for bloggers, blurkers, blauthors (um, I mean "authors") and all around book lovers (blovers?) in Illinois. We had a FANTASTIC time, and as with the SCBWI conferences and the San Diego Comic Con, we're always sad to leave a gathering that has so many creative like-minded people with similar interests. BUT we felt like we made many new friends and we love seeing the power of blogs and how it can truly create a tight-knit community from around the world even before anyone ever meets face-to-face: awesome!

Well, I'm absolutely CERTAIN I'm going to forget to mention everyone here, so please forgive me for that, and feel free to file your complaints here. Seriously though, know that I truly enjoyed all of the interactions I had with everybody and I look forward to having next year's conference here in Portland!!!

Here is a smattering of pics from the conference:
Me with very funny author & blogger Christopher Rowe, his funny-as-well wife the writer & blogger Gwenda Bond and the podcasting duo of Andrea Ross and Mark Blevis.
Andrea and Mark hold a special place in my heart over our long bonding conversation about the show Arrested Development (RIP).

The five of us had such a silly and fun conversation and I think this oddly-cropped photo does a good job of capturing the good time:

Here's a nice pic of author Ellen Klages and the conference's organizer, the author and blogger Robin Brande:

Here's me with author and nice guy Barry Lyga of the book "The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl" which I REALLY enjoyed and highly recommend (it was on my Christmas wish list last year and Laini came through for me! :)

I had fun hearing about his upcoming books and projects he's working on AND got to witness an iPhone demo (okay, several iPhone demos!) from him. It was so handy and he showed great patience in taking Google and IMDB requests. I think his "demos" might have had some influence on Bill's iPhone purchase the next day!

And speaking of Bill, he and his wife Pam (she's the blogger Motherreader, and he's by default "Fatherreader") were such a blast to get to know. I hope your trip to the Threadless store was everything I imagine it to be! (I'm very envious btw! :) Here's a pic with them and a few other great folks at Esme's place:

From left to right, there's Bill with his new iPhone somewhere close at hand I'm sure, blogger and reviewer Ann Boles Levy, the author, blogger, and hostess extraordinaire Esme Raji Codell in the red & white checkerboard, Bill's wife Pam in the red (Threadless!) t-shirt, the blogger & reviewer and Texas librarian Camille Powell, my lovely wife Laini (smooch!), the quite funny blogger and reviewer Liz Burns, and the opinionated in a very good way Gregory K. Pincus. What a nice bunch of people!

We also got to spend some time with someone who's been a champion for Laini's book even months before it's publication, Betsy Bird (thanks to Laini's awesome editor Tim Travaglini and the wonderful marketing staff at G.P. Putnam's sons for getting those ARCs out!). Betsy runs the Fuse #8 column with the School Library Journal and it was SO nice to have the opportunity to chat with her once again.

I don't have a photo of us with them, but we also had a nice time getting to know author and blogger Sara Lewis Holmes and blogger, Cybil's co-founder, and reviewer Kelly Herold. They were two of the first people I got to meet on Friday and they couldn't have been nicer (thanks ladies!). And to Faith who doesn't blog, if you're reading this, you were a lot of fun to chat with too! Thanks for the kind words about my cover -- it meant a lot! :) And to blogger/reviewer and librarian Stacy Dillon, so nice to meet you and thanks for wanting a sketch! I hope I didn't ruin your poster with my squigglings!

As I said above, Laini and I are REALLY looking forward to next year's conference and are VERY glad that blogger and friend Jone MacCulloch suggested our awesome city of Portland as the location! Laini and I will do our best to help her organize everything and coordinate the event -- it should be a lot of fun!

Well, that concludes my longest post in quite a long time. It certainly has the most links I've ever done -- sheesh! If anyone notices an improper link, misspelling, or some misinformation, let me know and I'll correct it asap! And to those I failed to mention, please know that I had a great time meeting you as well and hope to see you again next year or sooner!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Postcards & TV

A couple times a year I get promotional postcards printed up to mail to current and (hopefully) new clients. I've always gone through Vistaprint and so far so good on the quality. My friend Kelly (who's had an amazing year and a half as a new artist!) told Laini and me about them about a year or so ago -- thanks Kelly! The above imagery is what'll be on the front of the upcoming batch & I'm looking forward to sending them out into the great unknown.

*Do right by me little ones!*

And as Laini had said in a recent post, it's TV season once again & we always watch a few new shows to see if there's anything nerdy & delicious we might be missing. After a week of watching a select few new shows (Chuck, Reaper, Bionic Woman) and a couple of returning season premieres, I can pretty confidently say that we'll NOT be adding anything to the 2 or 3 shows that we normally watch (The Office, 30 Rock, and Heroes -- although the latter may very well get dropped in a week or two if the LAZY LAZY writing and lame-o plotting from the finale last year and premiere last week continues. Consider yourself on notice "Heroes" !!!) This is actually a big relief since we won't feel like we're "missing" anything worthwhile when we work late into the night (not that the other 3 new shows I mentioned were necessarily bad, but they didn't really hook me either -- I blame it on shows like "The Wire" and "The Shield" for spoiling me and making me see the true potential for a show. Sadly both of those shows are going to air their final seasons soon *sniff sniff*)

Lastly, I'd post new art, but I don't think I can show even some of the preliminary stuff I'm doing right now, so expect more warm-ups like some of the more recent posts and maybe even some looser sketches. We'll see.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Inkie Girl #3

Did some yard work early this morning and felt like drawing something before I started writing. I did the straight-to-inks thing again and messed with it in Photoshop for a bit -- now I'm off to write!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Cafe Press store updated

I put two new images up as options to buy on shirts & a couple other products. The shirt options above both come in several colors too. Just click here to view or order if you're interested. Thanks!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Coat of Arms (detail)

I'll post the whole thing once I get the a-ok, but until then, here's a small snippit from the heraldry I designed for Floater. Hope you likey ;)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Inking Practice

I'm working on a coat of arms for the (amazing imho!) Portland-based band Floater and had some time to kill while waiting for the "Green Light" to begin working on the final design. I love to do warm-up pieces in general especially if I'm about to start a final piece of art. And working on what my mind perceives to be a "real" piece in between waiting to hear back from a client is tough (for crazy ol' me at least, unless it's going to be more than a few hours, in which case I'm fine) because I'm too distracted wanting to know if they're going to want another rough or will give the go ahead. I've got to get over this, like, right NOW, and be able to shift from one project to the other while waiting for approval because I've got plenty to keep me busy! But at the same time, a little warming-up is never a bad thing! (right? anybody...?)

So anyhow, here's a piece I worked on to warm up for the "House of Floater" coat of arms (just so you know, this is NOT a reflection of any of the subject-matter in the coat of arms :) On this one I pretty much just started drawing with the pen nib and didn't stop to correct anything until I was done. It's always very satisfactory when it flows out without any real screw-ups and also is a great confidence-booster before starting a more methodical finished piece.

By the way, Floater will be playing at Bumbershoot this weekend & if you're lucky enough to be there, make sure you do NOT miss them as they are simply AMAZING live!

Once the finished piece is done and the band has given me the A-OK I'll post it here.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A HUGE announcement, SCBWI, Comic-Con Int’l, and a website update (sheesh!)

First off, after you finish reading this post, please go to my website at to check out my re-designed site and updated artwork sections. There’re still a couple things that go to the old site for now, but I’ll be updating those soon too. Here’s what the homepage looks like now:

Now onto the HUGE announcement. Both Laini and I have dropped a couple of hints here and there over the past few months or so regarding a project that we’re working on, or calling it top secret or some such. It’s also the item I have listed in my Blogger profile where I say I’m “creating art for another collaborative book effort.” Well, that book was a collection of short stories Laini had written about a year ago (initially they were entries for the site she and our friend Meg had created called Sunday Scribblings, but Laini expanded and revised them into longer stories. After I read the new versions of them months ago we started talking about the longtime dream we had of creating illustrated novels like those that used to exist decades and decades ago. So with these amazing stories fresh in my mind, I took some time developing a slightly more stylized look to the art that I thought would best accompany the worlds Laini had created. After creating about 5 pages of samples that we both felt really liked, we handed them over to the agent we share and she took them out into the world.

Anyhow, the FANTASTIC news is that we can finally announce that the book WILL be published by Arthur Levine’s Scholastic Books imprint!! I won’t go into details about who Arthur Levine is other than to say that he oversees some AMAZING (and amazingly famous) books and we are THRILLED to have the opportunity to be working with him and the rest of the folks at his imprint and Scholastic Books! THRILLED I say! Since some of the concepts for the book will be nailed out soon as well as the art style and such, I'll update more as it develops.

We also had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time with Arthur at the recent Summer SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Conference a couple weeks ago and had a fantastic time getting to know him. To add to the great time, we were able to meet (and pester!) Rachel Griffiths, his former Associate Editor, but now an editor herself at Scholastic Press, and the always friendly and warm Elizabeth Parisi (the Executive Art Director for Scholastic and Arthur’s imprint). Geez (!) what a bunch of great people! Here are an assortment of pix of us with Arthur and Rachel at lunch (with our agent) as well as some including Elizabeth and Rachel. As Laini pointed out on her blog, don’t the two of us look like a couple of toothy goombahs?!

And speaking of great people, Laini and I also had the always fun opportunity to spend time with her Dreamdark editor at Penguin/Putnam, Tim Travaglini when we were at the San Diego Comic-Con. Tim and his marketing staff (and Laini) had helped organize a panel that Laini and 9 other fantasy authors were on to discuss creating, writing about, and the importance of: villains! What a fun panel, and I was SO proud of my wife! What a pro in front of 400+ folks! After the panel, she signed copies of her book. The next day, we both had the honor of signing in the shared Penguin/Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore booth. We had a pretty solid turnout, they raffled off my artwork (one print and one original (see previous post)) and I sketched a bit in some people’s books (the pressure to not screw up almost paralyzes me every time! :) Here’re some pics of us with the SO generous and SO fun Tim Travaglini, a pic from Laini on the "villains" panel, the signing on Saturday, and dinner with Tim on Friday night after the con closed for the day (our agent and the Penguin marketing ladies were also there, check out Laini's blog for more dinner pics). (P.S. - thanks for the bow-tie tutorial Tim! :)

I’ll post more pics from the conventions soon (I hope!).

Thanks for stopping by!

Be well,

Friday, July 06, 2007

Aim for the head

In my daily stop at Fuse #8's blog (aka - Betsy Bird), she had a great banner like the one below to take a Zombie Apocalypse survival test. Being a gigantic nerd for stuff like this AND very skilled with a hand gun (* see below) I decided to take the test being as honest as possible.


Here's my score:


BUT, if I cheat and answer how I think they want to hear, I did much better:


So, while my 54% score may be an "F" in the real world, I choose to look at it more optimistically and say that I have a slightly better than 50/50 chance of surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. Or, I could become a cold-hearted b@$!@*d and only have a 3% chance of dying! A proud day indeed for ol' Jimbo :) Laini also took the test and while she's looking at the results in a glass half empty perspective, dammit she made me proud!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Art, guns, and pie

Here's a clipping/detail of a piece I just finished. The whole piece will be posted on my website when I do the update (soon, I promise! (or soon-ish actually :) I'll also put more of the step-by-step piece up soon too.

Hope you all had a great 4th! Laini and I had her parents, one of their friends, our rad niece Izzy (with whom I had a looooooong watergun fight with. Note to self: 11 year-old girls are better shots than you think they would be...), and a couple of neighbors over for a simple BBQ and teeny fireworks demo. Great fun. Laini and I also collaborated on a low-fat pie/fruit tart for dessert using the graham cracker crust recipe I altered from the pie cookbook her sweet Mom gave me for my last birthday. Here're a few pics (please excuse the dead lawn -- we just can't justify using all the water it'd take to keep it alive during the summer. It looked nice until about 3 weeks ago I swear!)

Friday, June 08, 2007

2 Anniversaries in 1

Here we are celebrating six years of marriage AND 8 years & 8 months together which land on the very same day :) Nerdy to know that I suppose, BUT I DON'T CARE! :)

Laini's wearing one of my gifts to her -- a necklace -- and I'm wearing one of the gifts she gave me, an AWESOME t-shirt by Fyasko (one of my favorite t-shirt brands).

Here's to 60 more anniversaries together baby!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Podcast from Tacoma WLMA Speeches

So, I've figured out how to convert and host our speeches from the above (and previously) referenced Tacoma WLMA dinner last Thursday evening!! While the sound quality is mostly pretty solid, there are some warbles here and there (and some loud paper shuffling sounds a few times).

Laini talks for the about 35 minutes reading from a fantastic speech she wrote for the event followed by me winging it for about 7 minutes thereafter. Just click here. Enjoy!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Tacoma WLMA

Laini and I drove up to Tacoma yesterday to speak at the annual dinner meet and greet with authors and/or illustrators held by the Tacoma WLMA (Washington Library Media Association). This year they were kind enough to invite us to join them and speak about our lives, careers, and the creation of Laini's upcoming book. While the book is definitely Laini's baby and her creation, it was an honor to be involved in the book itself as well as to be invited to participate in the event. We met so many wonderful librarians and teachers from the Tacoma area that when we drove home late last night, we mostly kept restating to one another how much fun we'd had. So if anyone reading this was at the event last night, thank you (!) for making the evening so enjoyable :)

Here are some more pics. First from outside of the coastline restaurant where the event was held:

Then, one with our driving companion before he went back to guard/rest in the car:

And a few more (Laini speaking, me speaking, and both of us signing):

We recorded our speeches at the event and if I can figure out the technology, I'll post a link or some such so everyone can hear our talks. Wish me luck! :)


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Catching up

This was the promo banner for a gathering Laini and I were honored enough to be a part of last week. After finishing the Rex Mundi issue I was doing for Dark Horse, I prepared a short presentation about the "Inside Story" of creating the artwork for Laini's book "Faeries of Dreamdark." The gathering was organized by the Western Washington SCBWI and hosted by the very sweet and talented Jaime Temairik.

Below are some pics of recent happenings that I've been too darn busy to post about. The arrival of advance hardcover copies of Laini's book complete with my wraparound jacket (!!), some birthday pics (one with Laini's mom), and a belly-dancer at a local Moroccan restaurant (it's okay, it's Laini's dollar and she was the one taking the picture :)

Some pix from our brief trip to an alpaca farm in Hood River when my mom came to visit these past few days (plus another b-day straggler photo). Aren't alpaca's freakily weird looking?

Oh (!) and a picture too fun not to share (me an my lovely and amazing Mom and some fantastic cupcakes from St. Cupcake here in Portland! :)

In a bizarre reminder of how small our world can be sometimes, when that last pic of me at the waterfall was taken, a guy walked by that I KNEW I knew from somewhere. He said "CCAC?" (the art school I went to in San Francisco) -- turns out we had a painting class together about 7 years ago and he and his wife just moved to Portland 3 months ago after having lived in NY for a few years. So, they moved to Portland and just happened to be at the waterfall about 40 minutes outside of town when we were. SCREWY!!!

Lastly, I'm starting to lay out a complete website re-design. I'm not positive when it'll be done, but I'll post a note here once it is.