Mini Documentary By Ogilvy



The mega monstrous international ad agency Ogilvy and Mather is putting together a series of mini docs about creativity and the people who have no other choice but to create over at Create or Else.

Director David Urbano and his crew did a great job, and I got to collaborate with them by doing the first pass of the animation for the final sequence where some of my characters begin to harass me for not paying attention to them. I haven’t done any animation in a few years, and I’d forgotten how labor intensive it is. I believe it took me three days for a few seconds of video.

Sonic Youth vs Jack Kirby

sonic_kirby1 I heard Sonic Youth’s 1990 hit “Kool Thing” the other day, and it stayed in my head all weekend — what an absolutely brilliant tune from an exciting time in music. Around the same time, I was looking at original Kirby pages on http://www.whatifkirby.com/, when I came across a few pages of Princess Zanda attempting to seduce The Black Panther. And then I heard the line “Kool thing, walking like a panther…” I showed Kirby’s art to my wife Judie while playing the song and we laughed about inserting the lyrics into Kirby’s art. And here’s the video to the song:

Who’s The Boss? Springsteen at Judie’s Birthday Bash

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A fantastic night with so many friends, great performances by Holmes, Bad Karma, and The Ribeye Brother’s ( made up mostly of former members of Monster Magnet) made it a rip roaring night of rock. And to top it off, the pride of the Garden State himself, Bruce Springsteen joined us to wish Judie a happy birthday at  the Asbury Lanes. Pay no attention to that nonsense on MTV, this is the real Jersey Shore.

What I’m Reading

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Alphaville: 1988, Crime, Punishment, and the Battle for New York City’s Lower East Side by Michael Codella and Bruce Bennett is a wild ride of cops, drug dealers, junkies,  in lawless days of NYC. Brought me back to the days when Manhattan was fun, but dangerous.

Co-author Bruce Bennett was the co-host on The Hound show on New Jersey’s legendary WFMU FM. It was great radio show that was broadcast every Saturday afternoon from 3:00 to 6:00 PM from 1985 to ’97. Many a Saturday afternoon I would draw and listen to rare and bizarre rockabilly, soul, psychedelia,punk, r&b, and british invasion tunes. The banter between Bennett and The Hound, AKA Jim Marshall, was full of snide cracks, music trivia, horrible stories from the NY Daily News, oddities, you name it. It was like hanging out in the your favorite bar, with best jukebox and some of your most brutally amusing friends. Well, actually I had all that at the Court Tavern in New Brunswick, NJ, but with the Hound’s show, I could listen to all the great music and wise cracks, but actually get some work done.

During these Saturday afternoon drawing sessions I was free to draw whatever I wanted. Even though I had my own art department at Talking Tops, I rarely had time to experiment — it was all business. But at home, listening to The Hound, it was all fun. I’d sit and scribble, and giggle, draw some more, and listen to more great music.

A third regular on the show was Eric “Roscoe” Amble. Roscoe was a founding member of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and was now touring in various bands throughout the years of the Hound’s show. While on the road, Roscoe would call in with a “Vibe Report” about what was going on where he was playing that weekend. He always had an amusing story or an observation about some strange venue he had just played.

All the time I was listening to The Hound and Bruce Bennett talk about Roscoe, I was working on the early version of Rat Bastard. Somewhere  around ’96 my character needed a name, and I knew that a “roscoe” was an old-time expression for a gun.  And that’s how Rat Bastard’s Roscoe Rodent got his name.

So thanks to Eric “Roscoe” Amble, The Hound, and Bruce Bennett, for all the Saturdays of great tunes and laughs, and inspiration for one of my favorite creations.

A New Comic Project

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I’d hoped to have had this one ready for MoCCA Fest in April, but we changed the name and well, you know how it is. Or do you? Inspiration comes and goes. Ideas seem great, then days later they don’t. Characters take time to develope  — I found some notes for this story, and only one out of the original five names or characters survived.

Also, I’m collaborating on this with my wife, Judie this time. It’s based on a concept she had many years ago. It made us laugh back then and we began noticing things and phrases that would go into here story. A few years ago, I was looking for an animated project to work on, so I started conceptualizing her story ( some of it was posted here about two years ago). A lot of it is based on our days in New Brunswick , NJ where we met.

So here’s the cover. One things for certain — this is a lot easier than those damned Rat Bastard pages. Well, not easier, just simpler. After all, none of this is actually easy.

Rat Bastard Speed Painting

A quick one one of Rat Bastard
A quick one one of Rat Bastard

That’s what they call it these days, right? A speed painting? A color study, a comp, a preliminary drawing or painting, an idea. This is done with Photoshop — no pencils, no paint, no paper or board. “No muss, no fuss” as the commercial used to say. There’s about seven layers in this Photoshop image, so the shadows are on one layer, the background is on another, etc. It’s sheer play.

What It Means To Be Creative


(The original video on the PBS website has disappeared, which showed a great scene from the play. That scene appears on this video from the Charlie Rose Show at 8:05)
I recently saw the Broadway play  Red the story of a two-year period in the life of Mark Rothko, the abstract expressionist painter who achieved recognition in the 1950s. Red stars Alfred Molina (yes, that’s Doc Octopus from Spider-Man II) who gives one of the most powerful performances I’ve seen in ages.

Let me just start by saying, while I draw, paint and create, I will never reach the intensity of a Mark Rothko. While I aspire to a higher level of creativity (I would hope all artists do), I don’t believe it’s productive to do so to the point where it alienates everyone I know and love, and in the end, would cause me to take my own life as Rothko and so many other artists have done. I’m happy to draw my comics and live near the beach with my wife and go on adventures or just walk my dog. Maybe Rothko or Van Gogh or Diane Arbus just needed a dog. I’ve never heard they had a dog at the time of death. I have a great dog named Kirby. When art or life become too demanding, Kirby and I just play with the ball in yard or go for a stroll on the beach.

While I’m not sure whether Rothko had a dog, he did have an impressive career, and for a moment in time, changed art itself. In Red, Molina’s Rothko is a self-absorbed, pompous genius, whose intelligence is eclipsed only by his passion for creativity. This is brilliantly conveyed by Molina’s riveting performance. I sat in the dark and wept at times, for reasons I can’t convey.

I can’t really say I suffer for my art. Actually, my art probably suffers because of me. I’d offer that creativity is a lot harder than it looks. It’s a great gig, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, but it can be a struggle.  It’s full of personal challenges, crushing defeats and glorious victories. But when it gets too crushing, or even too glorious, it’s probably a good time for me and Kirby to head to the beach.

My pal Kirby the Jack Russell