Saturday, October 15, 2011

Caption Contest 4



It has been a while, and hence it is time for another cartoon caption contest...

Anyone can enter, including everyone who entered the last three. If you can think of a caption for the featured cartoon above, submit it. (You can post it as a comment below or email it to me.)

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).

Update: Another entry from Kevin Gleeson: "I don't have time to get into it now, dear, but numb nuts there is trying to direct the project from the back f some Christmas wrap."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Night and Day

...That's the title of a great 80's music album by Joe Jackson.

It's also an apt description of my schedule since August...non-stop busy with client projects. With the current state of the economy, you'll hear no complaints here -- I feel extremely fortunate.

But after spending time with my family it leaves little to time to blog or draw the 'Boneheaded Dog'. The blitz continues on, leaving me booked up for at least the next month or so, and now turning projects down.

With that, I'll keep this brief and attach a few pieces that were on the board recently...

http://www.merkfunds.com/merk-perspective/insights/2011-09-21.html


A few political pieces lately, for clients on both the right and left. (I'm a switch-hitter.)

http://www.merkfunds.com/merk-perspective/insights/2011-10-12.html
(This subject had an immediate effect on the stock market this week)

Political cartoon for MoveOn.Org... (Their campaign director called and requested this piece to be drawn for them, after the Eric Cantor-led protest of Hurricane relief funds. The concept was provided, I simply came up with the imagery.)





A 70's style comic book for a long-term client, (a pioneer in cloud computing), for their technology conference...A fun diversion that allowed me to draw in a style that takes me back to comic book-reading days as a kid. Cover, and several illustrated pages inside, with a collection of cartoons, too.





Illustrations for another long-term client, Career Directors International, for their upcoming annual conference.



A cartoon for SAPtips, for their caption contest



 Monthly cartoon for the Michigan Association of School Principals.

Also on the board: a shirt logo for a golf sportswear company, a dozen financial cartoons for an investment firm and a couple of cartoons for a greeting card company. I'm also currently illustrating three books; one for business, two children's books.

Lastly, I have been working on an animated video & commercial for Intel Corporation.  --Lots of work for that project, creating multiple characters and 50+ scenes. (I can't share anything from that here until it is released.)

Well, back to the digital drawing board. It will be another late night...

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

(Click to enlarge)


Steve Jobs would have been an innovator regardless of when he lived.

His early Apple computers were the height of simplicity and aesthetics, all the way back to the final days of glitz and disco. The first Mac, which debuted in 1984, was a step well beyond that, introducing the first computer mouse.

I bought my first Mac shortly after that, and have appreciated them ever since. (Just last month, I bought a new Mac that is over 10,000 times more powerful than that first one.) I've lost count of how many Apple products grace my studio and our household.

Others will have more pertinent comments and greater insights today on the man than I possess, so I won't add more detail...but I thought I'd pause a moment to acknowledge the passing of a great thinker and designer.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Some time away...

July was a crazy month with clients, but I did get to take a 10-day vacation. However, as most self-employed people can attest, vacations often mean working to get ahead, (I left town with my eyes barely able to remain open, needing many late nights to meet deadlines), and then afterward, working long hours to catch up. But as always, it was all well worth it.

We arrived home from our vacation to Kiawah Island, South Carolina, two weeks ago today. It was fabulous; we all had fun at the incredible beach and resort, and and we had a wonderful celebration of my parents' 50th anniversary. My family flew into Charleston, meeting my brother and his family, along with my parents, (all coming from Illinois.) We danced, partied, had a mini replica wedding cake made, and also presented them with a 24" X 36" drawing I created, (a humorous take of their honeymoon at Niagara Falls, surrounded by congratulatory messages from many of their oldest friends.) --All in all, a great time spent with family, and much-needed break.




My niece, daughter and nephew clowning around with me in Kiawah Island...




Now, back to regular life & work. There still remains a great deal of corporate client work and two children's books to illustrate over this coming month. 

A sampling of things recently on the drawing board: (Click to enlarge)




A birthday commission for a Georgetown University professor and (semi-retired) psychologist

A cartoon about Google CEO's battles with Facebook -- for Hubspot's blog

Monthly cartoon for Inductive Automation, a California IT firm

A political cartoon commission for a newspaper in Texas--about the debt crisis.

A monthly cartoon for the Michigan Association of Secondary Schools

One of several financial/political cartoons done for Merk Funds recently.


A couple of marketing cartoons for CGNet, a pioneer in cloud computing.

One of many B&W first drafts for a current book illustration job.

One of three advertising pieces for Tony Pelusi, a family counseling expert in Boston.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Happy 4th of July weekend!

Here's hoping that you have a fun, safe Holiday weekend. And be careful with those fireworks! (I used to make my own pyrotechnics, but have gone onto being a good dad--and just use the ones from 'over the state line'. Ssshh.)

In the meantime, speaking fireworks, I thought I'd share a Holiday -themed cartoon that I drew this morning....a last-minute request from a regular client. (And speaking of that subject, it looks like there will be no 4th of July break for lawmakers, while they work on the debt ceiling issue. Poor babies.)

(Click to enlarge)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Just here for a moment to catch my breath

It has been an engrossing few weeks, with a veritable avalanche of client work falling onto the drawing board. (I am feeling very fortunate, I'm having lots of fun, but it's also a little overwhelming.)

In lieu of any caption contests, or any sort of post with a high word count, here are a few images of projects currently or recently on the board:

One of 12 cartoons for E-Money Advisor (Click to enlarge any of these)
One of three cartoons for a long term client; a technology company in California that pioneered in cloud computing.
On of 15 Illustrations for an English as a second language book.
A monthly comic feature for a technology magazine.
Three sketches in various states of finish for a children's book that I'm in the beginning stages of illustrating. There will be 27 illustrations total, in color. I'll probably use watercolor washes.

A new political cartoon created yesterday for Merk Investments Link to cartoon on Merk website
Also on the board right now: Product drawings for a new customizable girl's doll, (for a toy company in Maryland), illustrations for a family/marriage counseling service in Boston, a monthly cartoon for a Michigan schools association and a regular cartoon for a leadership conference in California. --Well, that was a nice break...now back to the drawing board!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

On the drawing board


A new economic cartoon written and drawn for Merk Investments in California...(Above - click to see with accompanying column Merk funds )

Lots of straight illustration going on right now... a children's book, as well as some storyboard illustrations for a short film, some political t-shirt illustrations for a company in NY and a fun humor piece for a game company.

Below are some pieces created for an insurance company in Florida, depicting various coverage options for boats, trucks, motorcycles, etc. (all being driven by a corporate mascot I created for them last year.)



(Click to enlarge)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Another Bernanke cartoon...

Click to enlarge


A new cartoon lampooning Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his economic policies...created for a regular client's news page: Merk Investments

(I love cars, and among the client projects on the drawing board this week were four that allowed me to draw cars in some way. --Nirvana! Will post more after they wrap up.)

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

On the drawing board: Cartoons in the Atlantic magazine



Just got word that the Twitter/Charlie Sheen cartoon page I created last week was published by The Atlantic Magazine.

-Update, (5/5) the cartoon humor page also garnered a brief appearance on NBC's The Today Show and The Today Show blog.

(Apparently it was a slow news week.)

Friday, April 29, 2011

A chance to do a Charlie Sheen caricature



Well, not that I've been itching to draw him. But a challenge like that is always fun.

A long-term client called last week asking me to create a cartoon humor page, (Hubspot, Inc., for their news and blog. World Without Twitter Cartoons)

I was asked to write and draw several 'Mad magazine-style' cartoons on the topic of 'where we would be without Twitter'.

Here's the end result: (Click to enlarge)



Naturally, getting to have fun drawing Charlie Sheen was the best part. Everyone thought that the first caricature (below) looked like him, but it seemed to me that he didn't look crazy enough, particularly in the context of his recent bizarre statements, media quotes and tweets.

I battled with how to make him seem bizarre and a bit nuts, (you know, like he sounds when he talks).  But the trouble was, there was no room for the dialogue I wrote for him.

 Then I tried drawing his eyes crossed. ...Problem solved!

(Maybe the small insect in his hair helps, too.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lobster Sculpture

Sketches for the original lobster sculpture


I've been working on a project in my spare time over the past few weeks that was a big step away from my usual two-dimensional drawing world.
The lobster couple, (prior to changing the eyes)

A few years back I sculpted some cartoon lobsters for a client on the East coast, as a wedding gift to her fiance. (Playing off the theme that "lobsters mate for life".) At the time, I was not really sure about taking on a project that involved 3D cartoon work...but the client talked me into it. I'm glad she did, as it turned out to be a lot of fun, and the gift to her fiance was apparently a big hit.

Flash-forward to today. The happily married couple now has two kids, and they decided that they wanted me to add some young lobster characters to the original beach scene, now showing the whole lobster family.

It's one of those processes that takes time, as I need to take photos of each step and email them to the client, and then waiting for a response with comments or requests for changes. (Not the quickest way to create a 3D piece of art, but hey, it seems to work in the end.) After adjusting the claws, eyes, antennas on the kid lobsters, everything seems to be coming into shape.

The now growing lobster family, (one 'kid' added at this point).
I started with a Sculpey-like commercial clay that can be fired to become hard. Then to protect it, each clay piece had to be coated with a clear plastic resin, which smells and is hard to get off my hands and any tools I used. I added one 'baby lobster' and then after that looked right to the client, I added a second.

The client is happy, I had fun, and it has been a nice diversion from drawing. The real challenge: packing the whole thing up and shipping it so that it would not be damaged when say, the Fed Ex man drops/throws/kicks it. (I used rubber bands, padding and supports inside the box the first time...and will do the same this time.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cartoon Caption Contest III


After working to meet a slew of cartoon and illustration deadlines, I got the itch for another cartoon caption contest...

Simply think of a caption for the featured cartoon above and submit it. (You can post it as a comment below or email it to me.) Anyone can enter, including everyone who entered the last two.

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).

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Political cartoons R.I.P.?

Many people say that political cartooning is a dying art form. With newspapers struggling, and nearly two thirds of all full-time political cartoonists losing their positions over the last 15-20 years, it is sadly declining.

At one time I did political cartoons through a syndicate, and before that I self syndicated them to papers in the Midwest...but I stopped doing them about 15 years ago, in favor of newspaper comic strips. Several political cartoonist friends have lost their jobs, all due to "budget cuts". The word is that newspapers generally no longer even have the budgets to pay well for freelance political cartoons. Editors feel that they can get by without a staff cartoonist, and instead, run something from a syndicate for a fraction of the cost.

The good news is that there are many other folks who do pay well for political cartoons. Online news services, political groups and corporate clients are all viable venues for political illustration and cartoons.

I create on average 4-5 political cartoons a month for such clients. Over the last two weeks I was commissioned to do some cartoons on Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, for a client in the financial industry. (Link to cartoon #One)


A government agency in Washington DC recently hired me to do a political cartoon on global warming, for their posters and literature. (Interestingly, the tone of the conversation indicated that they feel they are losing the propaganda war on that front. --Maybe for good reason. :)

And just recently, MoveOn.org, the large Liberal political action organization funded by George Soros, hired me to create a cartoon about Eric Cantor, for their advertising and fundraising efforts. (Below).



All of these organizations and companies have the ability to pay a decent, often ranging into several hundred dollars per cartoon.


When I was first starting out, I would submit cartoons to newspapers and if they chose to publish them I would be paid the typical fee of $50. As I became more familiar to the newspaper editors, that fee gradually grew to $100. But again, many of the cartoons were never used, and often I was not paid at all.

In recent years, as the newspaper industry has languished, those fees have actually become smaller...and the number of cartoons they publish has dwindled. --Adding proof of the problem is this: The staff editorial cartoonist for the Boulder Daily Camera, (the paper I worked for 20 years ago), recently quit, stating that he was not making enough money to support himself.

The newspaper editorial cartoonist is a rare breed now, with less than 50 employed in the world full-time. Fortunately, there are other ways for them to make a good living.



I have to say it is fun to draw in a black and white ink style that is unmistakably identifiable as 'editorial art'...


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tulip & Iris Cartoons




In January I was approached to do some work for a flower and bulb company in Holland. The company, Breck's is one of those firms that sends packets in the mail inviting you to buy bulbs for your garden.

Previously, they had hired cartoonist Ted Fine, the creator of the "Hazel" comic strip, as well as the Mr. Peabody & Sherman cartoon characters from the Rocky & Bullwinkle show, (characters I used to love as a kid.) Sadly, Ted passed away in 2008 after a long bout with cancer.

The company's main offices in the USA are in Indiana, but a design studio in Pennsylvania that had worked with Ted contacted me and served as my liaison with the company.

The trick of the cartoons is that they are personalized with the name of the addressee appearing in the caption of the cartoon, peering through the envelope window. (A very effective way to increase response rates from direct marketing.) I have done personalized cartoons for many clients, so it was old hat to write concepts for that purpose.

I was asked to create 4 concepts for their bulbs, (tulips or irises), and then after they selected their favorite, to finish it as a color cartoon.

Rough sketches of concepts, below: (click to take a closer look)





After seeing the concepts, they decided to do two personalized mailers rather than one...and asked me to create a second finished cartoon.

The second cartoon, (below), along with a sample mailer. (We decided to add the main characters' wife, with her expression of disbelief, to add to the humor.)