What I’m Reading This Week


I just finished Raymond Chandler’s “The Big Sleep” which I felt would help me with writing for Rat Bastard. The book is very similar to the Humphrey Bogart film, it just has a lot more details. It’s hard not to picture anyone but Bogart as the cool-as-a-cucumber private dick Phillip Marlowe. I love the language, the terminology, the smart talk. At one point, Marlowe is questioned by a local hood, who never uses Marlow’s name, he simply refers to him as “soldier” — a kind of a put down, implying he’s a just a grunt in a much bigger picture. “What’s your angle, soldier?” he asks Marlowe. A great tough-guy taunt.


Now I’m on to “Stanley” a reconsideration of the life of Henry Thornton Stanley by Tim Jeel. According to Jeel, Stanley got a bum rap up until now. He’s been branded a racist, opportunist, exploiter, and henchman of King Leopold II. But Jeel got a rare look at the archives of Stanley’s diaries, and found a much different man — A man who cared deeply for the people of Africa and a true love of the continent. His bravery was unparallel, and may have been the greatest explorer in modern history. I’m just getting into the book, but it’s a fantastic read so far.

What I’m Listening To This Week


Working For A Nuclear Free City – “Businessmen and Ghosts”

Clocking in at 1.7 hours, Businessmen and Ghosts is all over the modern British music musical map. This Manchester band is one part Fluke, one part, Stone Roses, a touch of Ride, some Radiohead, a little ambient, a pinch of low-fi, groove, experimental, and a whole lot more – hell, there’s 29 songs on this release. At times, I’m not sure it’s the same band from one track to the next. I’m not even sure if I like the whole thing – but that’s not the point of this entry – it’s just what I’m listening to this week. If I were to give them a grade, I would say A for Ambitious, but D for Don’t Know Which Way To Go.


Calvin Harris – I Invented Disco

UK Producer Calvin Harris’ cock-sure title “I Invented Disco” is a tongue in cheek send-up of the dance floor culture. Harris channels everyone from Bootsy to Rick James to Cerone, sprinkled with the most vapid, cliché lyrics inspired by the golden days of 70s disco. It’s all good fun and great for parties. But “I Get All The Girls” is the best tune by far – a really funny take on the self-absorbed strutting disco dandy.

What Would Batman and Wolverine Talk About in a Bar?


I’ve always thought Batman was too serious. Superman too boring. Wolverine too…smelly? I’m not sure about Wolverine. I’m not sure about Batman for that matter. After all, he’s got issues: he’s a a trust-fund kid, runs around with young boys in tights, creeps around in the dark, prone to violence — no wonder he’s drinkin’ hard. So I’m working on a series of animated shorts to deal with some of the funnier aspects of these two heroes and their careers, origins, favorite drinks,odd habits, and obsevations. As “24” producer Tony Krantz once told me, “…stay tuned.”

“Spook Country” by William Gibson


I think this could’ve been a pretty good short story: A new, underground artform called “locative art” uses a network of GPS technology as its method of display. Former lead singer of the band “The Curfew” Hollis Henry is hired by a new “Wired” type magazine to write an article on the new artform and hunt down the secretive hacker who makes it all possible. There’s Cuban agents, CIA, and a billionaire involved in the search. But it drags on. Gibson loves describing everything — even things he’s alread described. A coat is no long a coat, it is Paul Smith coat, and it’s the Paul Smith brand coat every time the coat is put on or taken off. Jeesh. If not for the former rocker angle, I would’ve put it down after the first 75 pages.

Rat Bastard Drawings

It’s been a long time since I’ve worked on Roscoe and his cohort on a consistent basis. In my old life as Rat Bastard illustrator C.J. Huja, I had a certain naive idea of what Roscoe and the inhabitants of his world should look like. They looked like whatever came out of my pencil — there was no real development. A few sketches and there was Roscoe.Most characters were never more than one or two sketches before they were finalized. I had no real understanding or training in character development.

When Imagine Entertainment optioned Rat Bastard for a TV show on UPN in 2000, I saw other artists’ interpretations of my characters. Being in awe of those who worked in animation, I was impressed when they took Roscoe’s ears, and move him to the side of this head, much like The Secret of N.I.M.H. or some of the Disney characters. They made him more realistic, his ears being more like the way a rat’s ears actually sit on its head.

After the option expired and Imagine’s efforts pointed elsewhere, I continued to study the character designs of Roscoe. He looked very much like he could be a character from “Batman The Animated Series”and I tried to incorporate the look into my own new, improved version of Roscoe. He was more angled, more animation friendly in some way. But the more I tried to force his ears to the sides of his head, the more I felt something was missing.


At some point, I started drawing my original design, with a more exacting animation friendly line work, but kept the playfulness. After all, Roscoe was the sum total of all my cartoon experiences as well as comic book inspiration — Mort Drucker, Looney Tunes, Terry Toons, Don Martin, Al Davis, and many others. I wanted an element of shear goofiness. I wanted Roscoe’s eyes to be uneven, his posture unheroic, and his ears to sit on the top of his head like Mickey Mouse. I’d always loved the notion of Big Daddy Roth’s “Mickey Rat” and Roscoe was my Mickey Rat. A gun-toting rodent, the anti-Mickey.


What I’m Listening To This Week


“Challengers” – The New Pornograhers

In an age of bland, unispired, unorginal “music” this band continues to deliver the goods. While not as stunning as the previous “Twin Cinemas”, this is a solid effort. “Here’s the munity I promised you, and here’s the party it turned into” on the track “Mutiny, I Promise” is the best line I’ve heard in a song in a long time.


“The Con” – Tegan and Sara

This is a huge disapointment. I generally don’t like to write bad reviews — just ignore works I don’t care for. But I waited a long time for a follow-up to the 2004 surprise “So Jealous.” The “Con” is aptly named; I was conned into thinking this was worth buying. Over produced and myopic in subject matter, one listen was painful, a second was torture.

Lucky Leo Model Sheets


Lucky Leo is a a story about a guy who goes to hell, and later gets a chance to get his life back. All he has to do is put the devil’s brother back in the box he escaped from. The devil’s brother, Larry, had turned portions of the world upside-down. Outrageous characters sprang up overnight. The criminals were the most fun to create. My favorite was Jimmy The Wig, a murderous mobster, whose obsession with his hair is so off the charts, that he never wears the same wig twice. My favorites are The Mighty Thor and Dee Dee Ramone wigs.


Equally obsessed with his mane is the 70’s walking cliche, Freddie The Fro. Sworn enemy of Jimmy The Wig, for no other known reason than coif-envy.