Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday greetings

Every year beginning in October, some of my regular corporate clients commission me to create Christmas/Holiday/Winter greeting cards and advertising pieces.

If you took note that I used a general "Christmas/Holiday/Winter"...there is a good reason, as the discussion with those clients often involves how to approach the subject in today's sensitive, politically correct view of things.

As you can imagine, sometimes it's a challenge, especially if those companies have committees or board meetings to decide what corporate message they should send. Committees are the destruction of many a good humor piece, but when it comes to being politically correct, they can make a simple thing very complicated.

I've posted a couple of fairly straightforward Christmas Holiday cards, (one more Christmas-themed than the other), for two long-term clients.



Suffice it to say that not all companies have such willingness to send out 'Christmas' cards. Some want generic Happy Holidays cards...or in some cases, just a humorous winter scene.

This past week, I was also asked by a regular client, (Hubspot Inc, in Cambridge MA), to write and draw a cartoon for their marketing blog, covering the difficulty many firms have determining how to word their Holiday greetings. This line of back and forth with a company has actually happened to me, several times...


                                                                    (Click to enlarge)




And with that, a Merry Christmas to all, (and Happy Hanukkah, as well as a Happy Kwanzaa.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Interview



 (I intended to post this a few days ago, since it originally started running on Tuesday,  but it has been a blitz with clients this week.)

I was the subject of a short interview with Psych Central, a top online psychiatric resource website. I've done a fair number of client projects that involved psychiatric-related cartoons, (including illustrating a recent book for two psychologists)...and a couple of those cartoons are featured.

It was flattering to be asked to do -- and fun to answer some rather creative questions. It's running in two parts, on successive Tuesdays.


http://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapy-soup/2010/09/the-cartoonist-is-in-therapy-soup-interviews-mark-hill/#comments

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Creative Outlet



Not that I need more to do, (as things are as busy as ever with clients and publishing deadlines), but I'm starting a new cartoon feature. For a while I've had the itch to play with something new and different.
 
I'm calling it "A Boneheaded Dog's Blog". It's intended to be the observations of an exuberant and small minded family dog. On most days the posts will be from the dog's perspective; on some others, it will be from the owner's perspective.

Please take a peek..let me know what you think. It's an experiment right now and comments/suggestions are welcome.

A Boneheaded Dog's Blog

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Round-up of recent client projects

]]Well, it's been a while, but here's a little taste of what's been on the drawing board lately...


From a book on sleep apnea that I was hired to illustrate this summer...(Click to enlarge images)



A cartoon created for the two founders of Hubspot Inc.



A packaging illustration for a new iPhone protector..




An advertising piece created for a technology company in California...




Artwork for a dog treats company, to go on the product packaging. (Sold in mostly in Costco) This is merely the B&W preliminary art, each variety will have a different tasty item on the platter, (turkey, beef, salmon, chicken, etc.)

One of 30 cartoons created for a book on healthcare management.




A cartoon created for a financial company in Maryland:


A cartoon created for a magazine:




A cartoon for a large construction company in Seattle, (the client requested something that looked like an updated Lichtenstein cartoon.)



A marketing piece for a law firm in Minneapolis:



One of several cartoons created for a book on International Business negotiation:



An ad piece created for a dental products company in New York:




A comic strip that is currently running in some papers in Ontario & Toronto:


Some projects currently on the board over the next two weeks:
A poster and book cover for a long-term client.
A series of cartoon animal illustrations for a greeting card company.
12 illustrations for a Powerpoint presentation, commissioned by a company in New York.
A marketing cartoon for biotech corporation.
A ad cartoon for medical device manufacturer.
A humorous pen & ink illustration for an independent film maker.
A regular monthly cartoon for a Michigan school principals association newsletter.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fire news: Much better finally

Friends and clients have been asking about the nearby fire and whether it has affected our family. A couple of folks said they checked here, so I thought I'd add a blurb to say that things are fine.

The fire started Labor Day morning, apparently after someone who lives in a mountain home let a barbecue fire pit get out of control. We noticed the cloud of smoke and saw it grow as the day went on, with shifting winds. The lack of rain, (less than a tenth of an inch in the past month), made it worse. The area in question is about 15 miles away from town.

In the morning on Tuesday and Wednesday, the smoke was fairly noticeable outdoors. (We were running the central A/C, and thus filtered the air, so we couldn't smell the smoke when indoors.) No morning walks with the pooch, though after the breeze got going, the smoke cleared out after noon. Julia was in school nearby with everything as usual; just no outdoor recess on Tues & Wed.

I feel very sorry for the people who are displaced and/or lost their homes. 169 homes were destroyed. I can't imagine what those people are going through. Miraculously, there has been no loss of life or even serious injury.

With the help of some much-needed rain on Wednesday night, the fire fighters made good progress over the last two days. It looks as if the fire is mostly contained. http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16050812?source=rss

Friday, September 03, 2010

Caption Contest #2: And the Winner is...




Zack Collier.

Zack was clever and also persistent. (He entered in week 1, in a competitive group of entries), and this time had two good entries, in a group of 4 total entries.)

Congrats to Zack and thanks to everyone who entered!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Cartoon Caption Contest - Part deux

Click cartoon to enlarge


Well, it's time for another cartoon caption contest. (Anyone can enter, including everyone who entered the last one.)

Think of a caption for the featured cartoon above and submit it. You can simply post it as a comment below or email it to me. (Hill@comic.com).

The winner's name will be posted here, along with the finished cartoon featuring their caption. He or she will also receive a copy of the cartoon, (with their name added to the signature line).

Have fun! Be wildly creative! Deadline is Friday Sept. 3 (sorry, forgot that earlier.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Book Signing Update

                                            

Well, as I had hoped, the book signing was rather sedate. In fact, other than a few dozen people strolling in to chat, and some of those to buy the book, it was pretty quiet. The store manager had a table for me, with chairs set up for an audience at the opening, (and a presentation.) But there was no need for the chairs.

Over the three hours, I think I signed fifteen books...not a lot, but more than I thought would sell, given that it was a book of politically Conservative theme cartoons, in the notoriously liberal town of Boulder, (and also considering that I was not the book's author, but simply the illustrator hired by the publisher.)

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Update: (9/7) Pelican Publishing contacted me today, saying that the Colorado Springs Barnes & Noble would like me to do a book signing in December.  Barnes & Noble colorado-springs-co/signing The community is a great deal more Conservative than Boulder, and the book store is guessing it would have a sizable appetite for the book's themes. I initially turned it down, but the publisher convinced me to schedule a day in early December. It should be fun, and besides, Colorado Springs is beautiful in Dec...(I can take the family to the Broadmoor, ride the Pikes Peak Christmas train, etc.)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Book Signing

This past year I illustrated a book called Microman USA, a collection of over 100 political cartoons. It is being published by Pelican Press and will be released this week. This Saturday, (8/21), I’ll be doing a book signing at the Barnes & Noble store in Boulder. http://storelocator.barnesandnoble.com/event/3053496

I feel a little out of place doing the book signing, since it's not really my book. Robert Stern is the book's author, and he deserves full credit for the themes covered in it. But after some reassuring from Barnes & Noble and Pelican Press -- that signings often feature book illustrators -- I begrudgingly decided to go ahead with it.


My guess is that very few people will have any idea of who I am anyway, (unless they've seen my cartoons in the local newspapers.) I'll probably be sitting there for three hours reading a book.

The politics of the book are clearly Conservative and thus it has stirred up some interest from a couple of newspapers. A local columnist called to interview me about the book and its politics while I was out of town this week, giving me a 24-hour window to talk with him...and I missed it.

I have illustrated books for both sides of the partisan aisle, (including one for Al Gore’s longtime speechwriter, Dan Pink, as well as a book attacking corrupt Republican senators in Florida), and I learned long ago, there is no way to please everybody with political humor. All I can say is, given the passionate and hugely Liberal population of Boulder, that B&N store will be lucky to sell more than a few copies of the Microman book. (And I might have to wear a bullet-proof vest to the store that day.)

Here's one of the articles:
http://www.boulderweekly.com/article-3192-the-tea-party-does-cartoons.html

Monday, July 19, 2010

We have a winner!


Thanks to the creative folks who submitted ideas for the first installment of the Cartoon Caption Contest. (For this first one we had four entries; three people emailed ideas and one submitted here.) All were surprisingly good, (and perhaps they should all consider trying their hand at this professionally.)

Drum roll... the winner is Kevin Gleeson, of Lyons, Illinois.

For his very funny caption, Kevin will receive a print of the finished cartoon, (as shown above).

The next contest will start soon...

Monday, July 05, 2010

Cartoon Caption Contest


Well, the long-promised and much-delayed Cartoon Caption Contest is under way.

Think of a caption for the featured cartoon above and submit it. You can simply post it as a comment below or email it to me. (Hill@comic.com).

The winner's name will be posted here, along with the finished cartoon featuring their caption. He or she will also receive a copy of the cartoon, (with their name added to the signature line).

Have fun! Be creative!

Deadline for entries: Friday July 16.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A much needed breather




Pant, pant, pant. --The sound of the caged animal, catching its breath.

After over two years of what seemed to be a constant back-logs of clients, working many weekends, taking artwork and computers with me on vacation, etc., things have finally calmed down a little. Over the past few weeks, work has entailed 7 or 8-hour days instead of 10-12. I don't know if it's summer break for some of my clients or just a lull, but I'll take it.

So, with that extra time, I have been able to devote a little more time to other things, (working in the yard, biking and swimming with my daughter, buying a new car & restoring an old one...and also creating a new website.)

Lastly, it was nice to take a vacation last week without having to work during some of it in the hotel room. My folks came out to Colorado for a visit, and then we went with them on a trip to the Lake of the Ozarks--an truly beautiful area where we boated, water skied, tubed, etc. In addition to being a chance to relax and spend time with a few generations of family, it was lots of fun. (Julia spent probably six hours of every day in the several pools, water slides, etc. at the resort...literally wrinkled like a raisin when I dragged her out to go to dinner, etc.)

I always come back from vacations feeling glad that I took them. I feel refreshed and ready to go, I'm more efficient, all of the things for which vacations are intended. But as silly as it sounds, I dread getting prepared to take them, as I do not want to interrupt my regular routine. It always seems like I have something to do here, and I feel like I'm behind schedule when I return. It's also hard to get into the 'vacation mindset' at first and let go of the magnetic grip that my work and studio have upon me. Same for you?

Fortunately this time I felt no guilt about going and came home with a broad smile on my face.

Which leads to one final note before signing off...

I have a powerful desire for a balanced life. (Most people I know share that pursuit.) Yet, everyone I know is busier now than they were five years ago or even two years ago...and much of that comes from technology and connectivity. I do not want my life reduced to a blizzard of snippets and snapshots on a blog, Twitter account or Facebook page. The maintenance of such things can be like walking against a gale force wind. You never get ahead of it and it is always there waiting for more.

And with that, my apologies for not making typical or regular blog or twitter posts, or Facebook entries for friends and family. Instead, I plan to start spending some more time here with two or three creative outlets purely designed for fun. (More on that soon.)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jay Kennedy Scholarship


Attention all aspiring cartoonists: The National Cartoonist Society Foundation is once again calling for applicants to the Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship.

From the NCSF Website:

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Jay Kennedy Scholarship

The annual Jay Kennedy Scholarship, in memory of the late King Features editor, was funded by an initial $100,000 grant from the Hearst Foundation/King Features Syndicate and additional generous donations from Jerry Scott, Jim Borgman, Patrick McDonnell and many other prominent cartoonists. Submissions are adjudicated by a panel of top cartoonists and an award is given to the best college cartoonist. The recipient is feted at the annual NCS Reuben Awards Convention attended by many of the world’s leading cartoonists.

Applicants must be college students in the United States, Canada or Mexico that will be in their Junior or Senior year of college during the 2010-2011 academic year. Applicants do not have to be art majors to be eligible for this scholarship.

Along with a completed entry form, applicants are required to send 8 samples of their own cartooning artwork (copies only); noting if and where the work has been published, either in print or on the web. (See application for details.) DO NOT send original artwork.

DEADLINE: ENTRIES MUST BE POSTMARKED BY FEBRUARY 12, 2010

The applications will be judged by the National Cartoonists Society Foundation (NCSF) and the number of scholarships given out and their amounts will be at the discretion of the NCSF.

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As usual, I've been away from the blog, too busy with clients and family life to post much, but I thought this subject deserved mention. I'm posting this partly for anyone who might be interested...and partly for a friend who asked about cartooning scholarships for his son. Hopefully he, (and anyone else with interest), can gather up his or her work and get it out in time for the deadline. It's a terrific scholarship, named after a man who had a big effect on the work of many cartoonists.

I had the honor and pleasure of working with Jay Kennedy for a little over three years. He offered me my first syndication contract, and after that, worked with me in developing a comic strip for King Features Syndicate. I got to know him over that span and afterward -- and really grew to appreciate him and his enthusiasm for cartoons.

His knowledge was fully rounded, including the history of cartoons, the inner workings of humor, dialogue, art, layout and even the legal ramifications of when I satirized say, Britney Spears. I can say without a doubt that he helped to establish my career as a cartoonist, giving me training that was unavailable in any books or schools.

I was greatly saddened upon hearing about his accidental death. (He drowned after having been caught in a rip-tide, while vacationing in Costa Rica. A little-known fact is that he died a hero, diving in and successfully saving his girlfriend.)

This memorial scholarship is the sort of thing that can launch a young cartoonist's career...and at the very least, inspire some deserving cartoonist(s) to create worthwhile things. If you think that might be you, enter now! The deadline is almost here. (Feb. 12)