What I’ve Been Up To Lately

I’ve been working on character design for an educational project. I signed a nondisclosure agreement so I can’t post anything until product is released by the client. Stay tuned.

I’ve also been writing a long article on traditional animation combined with Flash. A guy named Hayk Manukyan, from Glendale, Ca. has a site called moollt.com where he gives video instruction on his process. I’ve definitely learned a few things from him. The article appears in next month’s aNYmator, the newsletter of ASIFA East, the NYC metro area’s animation association.

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.”

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.


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.

Rat Bastard Animated Short

Here’s as good’a place as any to post this. No idea who posted it on YouTube, but there it is. Batman director Kevin Altieri did an amazing job on this. Check out John DiMaggio (voice of Bender on Futurama) at the beginning and very end. He was replaced by Greg Proops (not sure why). EG Daily (of zillions of cartoons like Power Puff Girls and Rug Rats, and Pee Wee’s girlfriend Dotty in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure) voice’s Roscoe’s ex-girlfriend.

I could go into what I liked and what I wouldn’t have put in, but it’s a short — it was eye-candy to show the suits at UPN back in 2000.


I Should Be At The Beach


Here at the Jersey Shore: Water temp: 70 Air temp: 68. The water is 2 degrees warmer than Malibu, CA today ( looked on the magical internetter box ). So what am I doing besides not surfing? Running back and forth to Lowes sprucing up the house before our 3rd annual July 3rd party. Red Bank has the biggest fireworks show in the state, and Judie & I throw a big BBQ / New Brunswick Mafia reunion. But I’m on a roll here and need to keep battin’ out the art. So here’s a color / tightened-up version of the Carmen Monoxide character designs.