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!