New Saurus Site

Redesigned Saurus Gang site

As many times as I’ve tried to walk away from Saurus, I keep getting dragged back in. I have nothing against the old characters I originally created back 1986, but to work on them takes away from things I’d rather be working on them today.

Folks keep contacting me on Facebook, Twitter, email, etc asking if they can order Partyasaurus for a friend or Dadasaurus for Fathers Day.
I’ve added a new item — a framed, signed giclee print. I saw quite a few prints at comic cons I’ve appeared at and decided to finally offer my own. Shop at your own risk, Shopasaurus. www.saurusgang.com

With Liberty, and Justice for All

This may have taken over six weeks to complete, from concept, to sketch, to layout, to pencils, to ink, to Photoshop, typography, to what you see before you. Every year, I make a poster for East Coast Comicon with varying degrees of success. You can tell which years the Lyme disease was active in my brain just by looking at how bad some of the posters were. Conversely, I hope you’ll agree, I’m Lyme-free this year.

Yes, it’s political. Sorry to upset you if you voted for a faux billionaire who assaults women and lies every time he opens his mouth. Actually, I’m not sorry. Don’t think your favorite comic artists should be political? Then you haven’t seen them on Twitter. Artists have always been political. Ever see Picasso’s Guernica or Warhol’s portrait of Richard M. Nixon? Diego Rivera? And countless others? The arts, and that includes comedy, are how some of the greatest political commentary has reached the public. Enjoy the poster. Or not.

ME MAKE BANNER! BANNER GOOD!

Found this pic of a series of banners I designed to promote my horror/sci-fi con Monsters and Robots. I banged out eight of these in one afternoon with the help of the mighty David Smith cleaning up my concepts and color choices.

What was originally a news site about all things monsters and robots and their respective genres, morphed into a convention in 2016. For a new show, it had its marketing challenges, but the fans loved it and the vendors did well. But my Lyme disease came back around that time, so I shelved Monsters and Robots until 2018. More news about that soon.

My First March

I’ve never been involved in a protest. I was a child in the 60s, and was completely aware of what was happening in Vietnam and in streets of America, but I was too young to take part. By the time I was 15, the Vietnam War draft was discontinued and when I was finally 18 the war had ended and President Nixon was long gone.

I’ve never romanticized about the glory of mass protest or war — both can be a dangerous commitment. My problem has always been, that because of the times or other circumstances, I’ve never served my country.

On Jan 19th, the night before Donald J. Trump took the oath of President of the United States, I took the train from my home in Red Bank, NJ and joined 25,000 fellow Americans in NYC to be heard. I plan on serving my country with a commitment to resist all forces that would degrade our liberties.

“The Play’s The Thing”

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Judie and I went to see Peter Sarsgaard in Hamlet at the intimate Classic Stage Company on 13th Street in NYC. Just as we were about to take our seats we were surprised by Saturday night live TV Funhouse animation director J.J. Sedelmaier. Suddenly, J.J. and I realized Patti Smith had just taken her seat in the next row and we were like little kids seeing the punk icon. Turns out she was with director Darren Aronofsky.  Later I noticed a guy in a black suit and white shoes, which I couldn’t help complimenting him on. I told him they were pretty badass shoes, and Joe Jackson would be jealous. I’m pretty sure he was Butch Vig, legendary producer and leader of the band Garbage. Oh, and the play? Well, “the play’s the thing,” and it was brilliant. Scarsgaard, with shaved head looked much like a manic Michael Stipe. I watched him deliver cliched lines like “to be or not to be” in a fashion that made them sound as if I’d never heard them before. I was also pleasantly surprised to see character actor Harris Yulin playing Claudius.

Director Darren Aronofsky (in the blue T-shirt) and punk rock star Patti Smith (far right) speak to some young fans after the play Hamlet in NYC.
Director Darren Aronofsky (in the blue T-shirt) and punk rock star Patti Smith (far right) speak to some young fans after the play Hamlet in NYC.

East Coast Comicon Art

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I’ve been working on the East Coast Comicon for over a year — it’s the biggest event to date that I’ve ever run; 300 exhibitor booths, 10,000 attendees, 80 guest artists, a dinner Saturday night, guests flying in from all over the country and the U.K. So I’ve had my hands full — no complaints or excuses, but I just haven’t had much time to sit and draw. Really draw. I did a new cover for Rat Bastard #2, and I’ll post that here eventually, but I really haven’t been able to draw like I used to. So when I did try to draw, it was painful. No, really. Not physically, but it was agony trying to find the time, and then trying to crank something out. It’s not like turning on a faucet and the art just flows. It’s more like going back to the gym after being away for six months. It took me two weeks to come up with piece and get the likenesses down. It will be used for a poster with many other pop culture characters dressed as other pop culture characters. Hopefully I can continue now that I’ve cleaned all my encrusted Rapidographs and sharpened all my pencils.

Asbury Park Comicon 2013 Poster

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Magazine illustrator Danny Hellman had offered to make a mermaid on the beach covered in tattoos, reading comics. The sketches were exactly the look I was hoping for and Hellman’s style is a favorite of mine. But he got really busy with some paying gigs, and I told him I’d jump in and bang something out. Being from the area, I knew Tillie was the character associated with Asbury Park since the old amusement park days. He can still be found on T-shirts, buildings, even tattoos. So I cast him as an Alfred E. Neuman poser, just as Alfred would do every month on the cover of MAD Magazine. It was a nod to our guest Al Jaffee, and to our collective humor about what we were doing — we were taking the piss out of the comic convention industry.

312254_386052834834542_2026894593_n-1And there’s a 10 foot version hanging in Convention Hall.

Can A Comic Creator Run A Comic Convention?

Okay — some time has passed since   I launched the Asbury Park Comicon. And at some point I’ll write more about what went into making it a reality. I could say it was a lot of work or it was hard, but there’s no way to measure that, and hard compared to what? We’d just come off of Hurricane Sandy — I think what the victims of the storm were going through was hard, what we went through was a challenge.

But with everything that life, nature, and city politics put in our way, we did reach May 30th, 2013 and the fans showed up. As did the talent. It was a glorious, if not frantic day. Friends from as far back as high school visited to wish me well (brought together through the magic of social media), as well as family, neighbors, old employees from my screen printing days, and the comics community.

We invited some great guests, some who’ve turned into friends. I especially had a great time with Ren & Stimpy co-creator Bob Camp and punk artist John Holmstom.
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At one point at dinner with them, I laughed so hard I though shrimp would shoot out of my nostrils.

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Other than that, the day was a blur with interviews, autographs, a costume contest judged by my neighborhood celebs Bryan Johnson, Mike Zapcic and Ming Chen of AMC-TV’s Comic Book Men, and Brian O’Halloran of the film Clerk’s.
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Oh, yeah — and here’s MAD Magazine’s Al Jaffee a week after turning 95 with me on the Asbury Park boardwalk. When I originally invited him 6 months earlier, he said, “Cliff, I’ll be there if I’m still alive.” To which I replied, “Me too, Al.” And a month later I was hit by a car. So never kid about that shit.

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And it was Judie’s birthday and someone made her a special gluten free cake!

I have a lot more to say about this event, with Allen Bellman, Danny Fingeroth, Herb Trimpe, Evan Dorkin Sarah Dyer, Jim Salicrup, and will ad to this soon.

Happy Birthday John van Hamersveld

Happy Birthday to my friend and mentor John van Hamersveld. While I have no great love for my years in Los Angeles (2000 to 2004), my time spent with John was something I will always be grateful for. In a town full of social climbers and fame addicted narcissistic idiots, John was a man of great wisdom and talent, a man who exuded a love of art and creativity.
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There are few I can credit with actually changing my thinking, but John did that, though not through argument or constant rants, but by posing questions, almost as if talking to himself, sometimes just loud enough for me to hear. His subtle engagement about the politics of the time, the war, whole horrible state of the country chipped away at my A-political stance. I hadn’t voted in over a decade, but ever since I’ve moved back to New Jersey, I never missed an election.
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I worked closely with John to restore images from his incredible career to print posters from a large format giclee printer I had in my studio in North Hollywood. He’d created some of the most iconic images of the 60’s and 70’s; album covers such as The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour, Rolling Stones “Exile On Main Street”, Kiss “Hotter Than Hell”, Beach Boys “Wild Honey”, Blondie “Eat To The Beat”, posters for The Velvet Underground, Hendrix, Cream, and possibly the greatest poster of all time: The Endless Summer.
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We spent long hours together in my studio, and he told me stories about meeting the Beatles, photographing the Stones, hanging out with Dylan, and the death of Rick Griffin. But the best stories were about art, about creating images. I’d always felt schizophrenic in my desire to explore a variety of styles. But when I looked at John’s body of work, I realized it was quite healthy to go off in different directions and not repeat one’s self. I also learned to be okay with my dyslexia, John said it was our advantage to see things differently.
screen-shot-2013-09-01-at-93055-amSo thank you John, for the time we spent, for your profound influence on my thinking. And a very happy birthday.
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