Monday, November 30, 2009

Torr Murderfeld

Just a quick little illustration to close out the month.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet. I kept having trouble with the pen while I was drawing this. The lines it drew would skip and it just seemed sluggish and "off." I was starting to worry, fearing the pen or tablet or both were giving up the ghost. I finally realized the battery in the pen was dying and replaced it. After that it worked like new. Whew!

Here's the original sketch of Torr. I drew him walking in the final illustration to give it some visual interest.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Professor Brainoid

For reasons too boring to write about, my family and I had our Thanksgiving two weeks ago. So I spent a nice quiet real Thanksgiving day at home drawing this.

The Professor is based on a Post-It Note drawing I did years ago. I decided to dust it off and draw it up proper and in color.

Here's the original Post-It Note drawing. Another example of my cross-hatching phase. I'm glad I got that out of my system.

Here's the sketch I did for the new illustration. Now that I'm free of the borders of the Post-It Note, I expanded his head to a more impressive width.

Friday, Bloody Friday

Well, another Black Friday has come and gone. Thankfully no employees were trampled and killed like last year. There were several incidents of violence and idiocy though.

At a California Walmart, impatient deal hunters stormed the doors and forced their way into the store at 2 a.m., three hours before it was due to open. Police eventually had to shut down the entire store until order could be maintained.

Then in my own proud home state of Indiana, angry shoppers began fighting and cutting in line at two different Toys R Us stores, reportedly over Zhu Zhu Pets, this year's must-have toy. Police had to dispatch at least three squad cars to one of the stores to quell the unrest. Three squad cars. To handle a group of adults fighting over a toy.

When I read stories like this about human behavior, I'm reminded of a quote by the great philosopher Frank Barone, of Everybody Loves Raymond:

"Not a day goes by that I don't wish there was a comet screaming towards Earth to bring me sweet relief."

Thank you Frank. You summed up my feelings towards Black Friday perfectly.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gawky Gawkerson

I decided to take a break from Moonmen Drink Mix characters today. Just a quick little drawing before Thanksgiving starts.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.
Here's the original sketch of Gawky.

Moonmen Drink Mix: Double Durian

More Moonmen flavors!

Durian, the fruit that sounds like a Star Trek alien race, probably isn't very well known in America. I'd never heard of nor seen one until I went to China. They're a little bigger than a football and covered in super sharp spikes. Sort of like a Klingon Pineapple.

Here's a photo I took of some durians in China. I didn't get a chance to try one, but from what I hear they're an acquired taste. Some people say they taste like almonds, others say they taste like rotten onions. That's a pretty wide range there, so I have no idea which is right. There are several different kinds of them, so maybe the taste depends on the variety?

They also smell really bad. In Asian countries they won't even let you on a bus or in a hotel if you're carrying a durian; it's that bad. I didn't notice any smell emanating from the ones I saw in the grocery store, so I think they only smell if you cut them open.

I drew the alien and the Moonmen logo with the pen tool in InDesign. The logo is hand-lettered, but based loosely on a real font. I added the symbol in the middle because nothing says 1960s space age like an atom. Then I imported those elements into Photoshop, where the rest of the text, the packet and shading were done.

The Trouble With Twilight

First off, let me just emphasize that I don't hate "Twilight," so to all of you Twihards out there, please don't burn down my house.

I haven't read any of the books, but I saw the first movie twice and thought it was OK. That said, there are a couple of things about the story that really bother me.

First off is the fact that despite his looks, vampire Edward Cullen is 107 years old, and he's dating a 17 year old human girl. Isn't that a little creepy?

When Edward's girlfriend Bella finds out how old he is, she doesn't even bat an eye and the matter is never mentioned again.

I know, I know, Edward's forever frozen at age 17. Be that as it may, it doesn't change the fact that he's walked the earth for over 100 years. You can't live that long and still think and act like a 17 year old. He's 107, folks.

I don't understand why none of the fans are bothered by this. No one ever questions it everyone accepts it without reservation.

If you don't think this is a fundamentally creepy scenario, try removing the supernatural elements and imagine Edward as an ordinary 107 year old human who's dating a 17 year old girl. See? Gross, right? And no doubt illegal, even in the Southern states.

My second problem with the story comes during the big scene in the forest when Edward confirms Bella's suspicions that he's a vampire. He tells her she shouldn't get involved with him because he's the perfect killing machine. He then admits to her that he's even killed before. Bella responds to this by saying, "It doesn't matter."

Cue the phonograph needle scratching a record sound effect!

Did Bella just say that her boyfriend's murder confession is no big deal? She reacts to his revelation with as much emotion and interest as if he just told her he's a habitual jaywalker. Her father is the town sheriff, for corn's sake! She just completely blows the whole thing off and simultaneously becomes an accessory to murder. I guess in the Twilight universe, if a murderer is sorry for his crime then all is forgiven and there won't be any consequences. Or a trial.

Once this little bombshell is dropped, it's swept under the rug, never to trouble the audience again, so they can get back to more important matters like squealing every time Edward appears on screen. Not really the best message to be sending out there to the tweens, is it?

Once again, remove the supernatural element and imagine Edward is a normal human who just confessed a murder to Bella. Suddenly Edward doesn't seem so dreamy, does he?

Surely I'm not the only person in the audience who noticed these things?

Shut Yer Pie Hole!

Over at the L.A. Times this week, writer Amy Alkon wrote an excellent piece about unruly kids acting up in public. She writes specifically of an incident on a Southwest Airlines flight in which a mother and her screaming child were kicked off the plane (while they were still on the ground, I assume). I agree wholeheartedly with just about everything she says, and then some. According to Ms. Alkon:

There is a notion, reflected in numerous blog comments about the incident, that other passengers should "just deal" and "give a kid a break." This notion is wrong. Parents like Root and others who selfishly force the rest of us to pay the cost of their choices in life aren't just bothering us; they're stealing from us. Most people don't see it this way, because what they're stealing isn't a thing we can grab on to, like a wallet. They're stealing our attention, our time and our peace of mind.

More and more, we're all victims of these many small muggings every day. Our perp doesn't wear a ski mask or carry a gun; he wears Dockers and shouts into his iPhone in the line behind us at Starbucks, streaming his dull life into our brains, never considering for a moment whether our attention belongs to him. These little acts of social thuggery are inconsequential in and of themselves, but they add up -- wearing away at our patience and good nature and making our daily lives feel like one big wrestling smackdown.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Amen, Ms. Alkon! Will you marry me? This article should be required reading for every parent in the country. Heck, it ought to be plastered on every other billboard nationwide. Read aloud on every radio station on a continuous loop. Planes should sky write it over every major city once an hour.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Moonmen Drink Mix: Kiwi Komet

Yet another entry in the Moonmen Drink Mix product lineup.

In the first version of him that I drew, his jumpsuit was a darker green and he wasn't wearing gloves or boots. It suddenly struck me that he looked uncomfortably close to Quisp, the mascot from the Quaker Oats cereal of the same name. So I lightened his suit and gave him some kiwi skin brown gloves and boots to try and differentiate him a bit.

I drew the alien and the Moonmen logo with the pen tool in InDesign. The logo is hand-lettered, but based loosely on a real font. I added the symbol in the middle because nothing says 1960s space age like an atom. Then I imported those elements into Photoshop, where the rest of the text, the packet and shading were done.

Pride And Prejudice And Marketing Gimmicks

Time for a little rant here.

A couple of months ago I bought a book called, "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." You've probably heard of it, hip reader that you are, but for the uninitiated it's a new version of Jane Austen's classic novel, but with a healthy dose of zombies added to the story.

This weekend I was browsing through the local bookstore and saw that there's now a brand new hardback gift version of PAPAZ. That's fine, I have no problem with a publisher reprinting a book, or printing a high quality version in time for the holidays.

But a quick check of the back of the book reveals that this new special edition includes 39 more pages, and what it describes as 30% more zombies.

This. Needs. To. Stop. Right. Effing. Now.

This is not a simple reprint. This is a new and improved version that effectively shouts a loud "Screw you!" to me and everyone else who already bought the book. It punishes everyone who already owns it.

And you know what, Publishers? Your little plan isn't going to work. I'm not going to throw my old, inadequate copy of your book in the trash and rush out and buy the shiny improved version. Nor do I ever plan to.

This is nothing new. There are at least four books in my personal library that had souped-up versions come out long after the fact. Who knows how many times it's happened with books I don't know about?

This kind of thing has been going on in the DVD world for some time. It's called "double-dipping" and it's sole purpose is to entice suckers, er, I mean consumers to open their wallets and buy the same product twice. Usually all it ends up doing is pissing off the customer.

This type of tactic is what killed off the trading card business in the late 1980s, and all but killed the comic book market in the 1990s.

The publishing industry is in trouble, especially now that they can no longer suckle at the teat of the next Harry Potter installment. This kind of behavior isn't going to win them any fans. It's just going to drive the few readers and buyers the book industry has left straight into the welcoming arms of TV, videogames and the internet.

Stop it. Now. Stop making me feel like an idiot because I bought your book and didn't wait for the unannounced super version. Stop trying to trick your customers into buying the same thing twice. If you need more sales, perhaps you should stop publishing so much crap and put out quality product that more people will want to buy.

Thank you.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Moonmen Drink Mix: Robot Rowanberry

Another in the Moonmen Drink Mix product lineup.

As I mentioned before, the company that made Moonmen Drink Mix didn't like to play it safe with every day flavors, and prided itself on more exotic entries. Like Murray Jooceman, creator of Moonmen in the 1960s once said, "Any idiot can make a raspberry flavored drink mix, but it takes real vision to create a rowanberry drink!"

Perhaps it was the off-the-wall flavors that eventually led to the product's downfall.

I drew the alien and the Moonmen logo with the pen tool in InDesign. The logo is hand-lettered, but based loosely on a real font. I added the symbol in the middle because nothing says 1960s space age like an atom. Then I imported those elements into Photoshop, where the rest of the text, the packet and shading were done.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

MoonMEN Drink Mix

I was thinking today that if I'm going to keep adding characters and flavors to my imaginary line of retro drink mixes, it doesn't make much sense to call it "Moonman." So I changed the name to "Moonmen."

Yes, I know, I'm obsessing over a fake product and I'm probably due for an intervention. It looks weird seeing an e instead of an a in the logo, but I'm sure in time we'll all get used to it.

I'm A Grown Man And I Bought This: Ghostbusters Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man Bank

I've been a fan of Ghostbusters since I first saw it in the theater in 1984 (!). The sequel, not so much, but the first film is just about as perfect as movies get, IMO. I can still remember the surprise of seeing the Stay-Puft Man lumbering down the street like a squishy Godzilla, and laughing my head off.

I always wanted a Marshmallow Man figure, and now after over 30 years I've finally got one. Diamond Select just released a Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Technically it's not an action figure, it's actually a bank. But I won't tell if you won't.

There have been quite a few Marshmallow Man figures released over the years. The earliest was probably in the Real Ghostbusters toy line (based on the cartoon series). There was one released a couple of years ago by a small toy company called NECA, but it was never distributed in regular stores, so I could never get my hands on one.

This is one of the best Marshmallow Man sculpts I've seen. His features and proportions look spot on. I can't think of a single thing I'd change. He's fairly big, clocking in at 11" from his feet to the top of his jaunty cap.

The paint work is neat and clean, with no sloppy lines that I can see (although there's really not that much to paint on him other than his face and kerchief). The lettering on his cap is nice and crisp as well. They included some bluish shading on him as well, which helps bring out some details and keeps him from looking like a dull hunk of white plastic.

He's not much in the articulation department though. The only part of him that moves is his head, and even that only moves from side to side a few millimeters. I'm fine with that though, he looks pretty good in his frozen pose. Adding articulation to a rounded figure like this would only kill the excellent sculpt. He'll look just fine on the toy shelf as is.

There's supposedly an alternate version with an "angry" face out there somewhere, but I've not seen it. I think it might be an online exclusive.

Being a bank, he has the requisite slot on his back. For the life of me though I can't see any way to get the money back out, other than shaking it out through the slot. It's possible that you're supposed to pop his head off to retrieve your change. Maybe that's why his head turns. I didn't feel like risking popping his head off and then not being able to get it back on.

While studying the figure, I noticed something very cool about the Marshmallow Man. In all the years I've been watching the movie, I never noticed that his fingers are actually marshmallows! That's a pretty cool detail! Obviously his head is a big marshmallow, but how did I miss his hands? Did anyone else ever notice this?

The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is available at Toys R Us for a fairly reasonable $19.99, if you want one. Act fast though, as Xmas is approaching and soon all the stores will look like a swarm of locusts descended on them.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Moonman Drink Mix: Kosmic Kumquat

Another entry in my homage to Funny Face Drink Mix from the 1960s and 1970s. You can see the first part here.

Apparently the Moonman line of drink mixes wasn't content to stick with the usual flavors...

I have new found respect for those 1960s package designers. It's tougher than it looks to come up with a simple yet iconic character, and then choose a suitable color scheme that suggests a flavor.

I drew the alien and the Moonman logo with the pen tool in InDesign. The logo is hand-lettered, but based loosely on a real font. I added the symbol in the middle because nothing says 1960s space age like an atom. Then I imported those elements into Photoshop, where the rest of the text, the packet and shading were done.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Set Phasers On Yum!

We truly live in a wondrous age. We can talk to anyone in the world on a device smaller than a deck of cards. We can send probes to distant worlds. We use robots to vacuum our floors. We even have the technology to manufacture a blanket with sleeves.

Yet all that pales with the unveiling of the newest wonder science has to offer us. I'm speaking of course, of Eggo Brand Star Trek Frozen Waffles.

When I was a boy I used to dream about flying to work in a jetpack, vacationing on the moon and coming home to a meal of frozen waffles cooked by my robot butler. Unbelievably, that day is now one step closer to reality. It almost seems like a dream to be able to eat frozen waffles emblazoned with the images of the crew of the Starship Enterprise, from the hit summer movie.

I could scarcely contain my excitement as I opened the box to examine the frosty treasure contained within. First up we have two waffles bearing the image of Captain Kirk, sitting in his command chair as he strikes his iconic pose. Breakfast was never this thrilling!

But wait, there's more! On the left we have the sultry Lt. Uhura, sporting her new be-ponytailed hairdo. And on the right, a tasty waffle with the image of Ensign Rick Astley. Hey, who Rickrolled my breakfast?

The fun doesn't stop there! On the left is the brave and hearty Lt. Sulu. Or perhaps it's Lt. Cmdr. Owen Wilson. Honestly, while these amazing waffles are truly the marvel of the age, it's sometimes hard to tell who I'm supposed to be looking at. But I'm sure the fault lies with me, and not with this incredible new technology!

On the right is, from the way his eyebrow is upraised, the crusty but lovable Dr. McCoy. I don't remember him having red hair in the TV show or the new movie, but what do I know. Waffles don't lie.

Lastly we have... um, the planet Saturn and one of its moons, and... um... some sort of space arrowhead. Or perhaps it's the symbol of the Romulan Empire. Whatever it's supposed to be, there's no doubt it's tasty!

I'm a little miffed that I didn't get any Spock or Starship Enterprise waffles. The box claims there are 25 different designs and you only get 8 waffles, so I guess it's a crapshoot as to what ones you get. Note, don't say "crapshoot" when talking about waffles.

The Future is here, and it's delicious!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Moonman Drink Mix: Galaxy Grape

A week or so ago I was messing around in InDesign and I drew this Martian. I thought he looked a little like a breakfast cereal mascot (for a store brand maybe).

Then for some reason Funny Face drink mix popped into my head. I used to love Funny Face back when I was a kid. Not so much the actual drink mix, but the characters themselves. I don't know exactly what it was, but something about the designs spoke to my little mind and I used to spend hours drawing them. I don't think they make it anymore. Too bad. Kids today don't know what they're missing.

Anyway, I decided to repurpose my spaceman into a Funny Face type kid's drink mix character from the 1960s, and the "Moonman" line of drink mixes was born. I'll eventually add some more flavors and characters as they come to me.

For my money, package design for kids reached its pinnacle in the 1960s. It seems like that's when illustration and design combined, Voltron-like, into an unstoppable amalgam of packaging greatness. Mattel Toys in particular had some incredible package design. Most kids probably never even looked at the boxes their toys came in and saw them as a barrier between them and their toy. I used to stare at the graphics on the box and study and admire them. Yeah, I wasn't a normal kid.

I drew the space man and the Moonman logo with the pen tool in InDesign. The logo is hand-lettered, but based loosely on a real font. Then I imported those elements into Photoshop, where the rest of the text, the packet and shading were done. I also added some fake halftones to the colors to help it look like a real offset printed piece.

The Yellow Face, It Burns!

It's November 9th, 2009, I'm in Southern Indiana, I'm wearing a t-shirt and shorts and it's 73 degrees outside.

When I was a kid I can remember being ass-deep in snow this time of year. Something ain't right.

Obviously the President is using this whole health care debacle to distract the populace from the fact that the Earth has broken out of its orbit and is hurtling toward the sun. There's no point in arguing about it with me because there's no other possible explanation.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Norvell J. Rattman

Um... hey, it's a drawing of a rat.

This is a long one, so get comfortable and click below.

Friday, November 6, 2009

"Superman: The Movie" Little Golden Book

After I finished my drawing of Jor-El (see previous entry) from "Superman: The Movie," I thought it looked kind of like a drawing in an old kid's book.

So I added Jor-El's wife Lara and baby Kal-El and turned it into a page from a Little Golden Book, complete with dialog straight from the movie (edited a bit to fit the space).

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I've always loved "Superman: The Movie," especially the first 15 minutes or so. There's enough cool stuff packed in the beginning (Jor-El, the Phantom Zone villains, the destruction of Krypton) to fill an entire movie.

I also love those crazy glowing Kryptonian outfits. They didn't make some kind of complicated electric clothes-- they were made out of the same reflective material used on highway signs to make them glow in your headlights. They just shined a light on the clothes and filmed the result. A simple and elegant solution.

Marlon Brando made movie history when he became the highest paid actor in history (up to that time) for his part in "Superman." He reportedly nabbed $16 MILLION dollars for 15 minutes of screen time. And we're talking 1978 dollars too!

One thing I always wondered: Was it really necessary to call the film "Superman: The Movie?" Were they afraid we'd confuse it with "Superman: The Laundry Detergent Commercial?" "Superman: The High School Play?" "Superman: The Billboard?" Thank you ladies and gentlemen, I'm here all week.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original digital sketch of Jor-El.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Marshall, The Marchin' Martian

I was messing around in InDesign today and drew this. I don't do a lot of vector work, but I'm reasonably happy with how it turned out. I was experimenting with using only two colors (and various shades of them) as well.

He kind of looks like he could be a 1960s cereal mascot.

Drawn in InDesign. Most people are surprised when they find out I draw stuff in InDesign, which is traditionally a page layout program. But it's got most (not all) of the same drawing tools that Illustrator has, and I find it easier to use.

Christmas Creep

I saw the first Xmas tree of the season today (November 4th!). I saw it in the window of a house down the street.

That's just too frakkin' early.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Spurticus The Chickentaur

One of the lesser mythological Greek creatures, coming in way behind centaurs, minotaurs and harpies.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the original Post-It Note sketch of the Chickentaur, drawn many years ago. I guess I was going through a pointillist phase back then. For the final drawing I kept the body pretty much the same, but the head went through some major changes. Not sure what was going on with the goggle-like eyes. And buck teeth didn't seem to make much sense on a chicken-man, so I changed it to a beak-like nose.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Gaspar Gassman

Imagine walking out to the kitchen in the middle of the night, turning on the light and seeing one of these sitting on the floor, spewing noxious gas out of every orifice.

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.
Here's the original sketch of Gaspar. Pretty much the same, except I tried to make the gas jets a little less cartoony than they are here.

Stanley Crane

Saw this sign at the local zoo. It's the only bird in the entire zoo with a first and last name. Doesn't Stanley Crane sound like a politician? "On November 7th, vote for Stanley Crane for State Senator."

If you learn nothing else today, remember that the Stanley Crane is a beauty at risk.
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