The ‘Nancy’ Weird Comic Strip Generator

So I was cleaning out my browser bookmarks today and among the things I encountered was this old post over at Blog Flume about a Wendy’s kids meal toy that allows you to generate a Peanuts comic strip by inserting pre-printed panels into a little “frame.”

I bookmarked it not just because it’s cool (which it is), but also because it reminded me of something I made many years ago when I was teaching at the North Carolina Governor’s School and had access to lots of  “real” art supplies: a mix and match Nancy strip generator.

The genesis of this item was a weird piece of cardboard I’d found with an ocean image printed on it.  I just started messing around with it and among the things hanging around the studio that caught my eye were a bunch of photocopied Nancy strips.  (I can’t remember why now, but having a bunch of Nancy strips around requires no justification in my opinion.)  Anyway, what emerged was this item:


Each of the “panels” is made of some cut-out images from a comic strip glued to a clear acetate sheet which can be pulled up and out of the frame by the black “handles” at the top (the one on the left has fallen off) and rearanged.  It’d have been nice to have more “panels” to use other than just these three, but hey, what can I tell you–I was working on this on the taxpayers’ dime!

Here’s another possible combo. You get the idea…



Thor Pinup

Here’s yet another pinup I’ve done to send along with my art dealer up to the New York Comic Con in a few weeks.  This piece is based on a panel from Thor #337, the first Walter Simonson issue.  Simonson’s run on Thor was one of my absolute favorite series when I was a young comics-reading kid in the ’80s–and, unlike a lot of the stuff I liked back then, it actually ages pretty well.  It’s still a great read.



Pinup: Alpha Flight

The New York Comic Con is fast approaching.  Alas, I’ll not be going in person; however the good folks from A Cosmic Odyssey, who sell my original art work, will be attending.  I sell at least a page or two of original art from my graphic novels at each “indie” convention, like SPX, but at big mainstream cons like Heroes Con in Charlotte, for example, I seem to have better luck with superhero stuff.  Consequently, I try to drum up three or four superhero pinups–albeit, drawn in my rubber arm/button eye style–to have on hand for events like that.  Here’s one I just wrapped up–a pinup of the classic ’80s John Byrne Alpha Flight:



Obama’s Spider-Man Reference?

While the current Obama/Spider-Man buzz making the rounds is Marvel’s (supposedly pretty ham-handed) “guest appearance” by Obama in a current Spider-Man issue, here’s something a bit more subtle that recently caught my eye.  Last Sunday’s Parade Magazine newspaper insert contained a contained a letter/essay from Obama to his children entitled “What I Want for You — and Every Child in America.” In that essay was the following passage:

“…with the great privilege of being a citizen of this nation comes great responsibility.”

Maybe it’s just the fanboy in me, but the first thing I thought of was, of course, this:


Or, as it later often appeared both in the comics and in the films:

“With great power comes great responsibility.”


Ricardo Montalban R.I.P.

It’s been a grim week or so: first Ron Asheton, now Ricardo Montalban.  As slashdot remarked, “The voice of Rich Corinthian Leather is silenced, but we still have the memories.”



Sketchbook 12/15/09



Sketchbook 1/14/09

One of the items we received for Christmas this year was a subscription to Vanity Fair magazine.  Other than knowing the name of the publication, I didn’t really know much about it before now.  Having now received and read two or three issues, I can say two things: it’s a good magazine, and it’s a weird magazine.  A typical issue might contain a lengthy political article by someone well-known, like say, Maureen Dowd; a few other “serious” essays; a photo spread of some half-naked movie star; and about a thousand fashion ads, several of which are those stinky perfume ads.  It’s hard to know quite what the magazine’s focus is, but given that I like all of the above things (other than the ads), I’ve been for the most part enjoying having an issue arrive every month.

Now to the important part, though: is the magazine any good as sketchbook fodder?  For hands, no.  Most of the hands featured in the magazine tend to be found in fashion ads and are usually stiff and posed, as opposed to the more natural hand gestures I usually doodle from in Time magazine.  Vanity Fair, though, does present ample opportunity for me to work on one of my other weak areas: drapery and folds.  Here’re a few examples from the last few days:



Ron Asheton: RIP

When I read last night that Ron “Rock Action” Asheton was dead, my first thought was to crank “Down on the Street” or “TV Eye” really, really loud… but, my second thought was that it was 10:30 at night and since both my wife and daughter were asleep with bad respitory infections, that’d be a really inconsiderate thing to do.  So, instead, I put on “Fun House” much, much more softly than I wanted to and instead drew a picture of The Stooges in my sketchbook, which I prestent for you here with a minimal bit of Photoshop coloring:


Like most folks who become interested in American rock and roll, I’ve had a “Stooges phase” and the passing of guitarist Ron Asheton is a sad occassion.  It’s a cliche to point out that a Stooges record like “Fun House” really does sound as fresh today as when it was recorded… but what’s just as relavent is what a record like that sounds like relative to, say, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkle or Chicago’s first record, both of which topped the year-end album charts in 1970, the year “Fun House” was released.

Ron Asheton was a fabulous guitarist in a seminal rock band–and he died far too young.  He’ll be missed.


Sketchbook 1/06/09



Sunday’s Rex Morgan Freakshow

Even if Rex Morgan, MD were a top-notch plastic surgeon, I doubt he’d be able to do much to fix this bizarre beast that appears in the opening panel here:


Look, I know kids can be hard to draw.  Even really, really good artists can occasionally draw some wanky-looking kids sometimes–for exmaple, Jeff Smith’s recent Shazam series had some really odd-looking kids.  But this Rex Morgan panel is really beyond the pale.  Aren’t there editors that are supposed to catch this kind of stuff?

Part of what’s going on here is that the girl’s head is way too big.  Yeah, kids have bigger heads relative to their body height, but she’s getting into MODOK territory here.  Also, children’s faces fall lower on their heads, with the eyeline below center and the face overall taking up a smaller proportion of the front of the head.  In this case, though, exactly the opposite is going on: the eyeline is actually above center, higher than it should be even for a full-grown adult.

In conclusion: One of us!  One of us!

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