Wednesday, May 08, 2024

On the Cartoonist's Drawing Board

Happy Spring! (But watch out for opportunistic scallawags in the shadows.)

(Clicken to embiggen) 

Lots of things on the drawing board right now, including illustrations for a couple of children's books, a humor book, and several corporate humor writing and illustrating jobs. Just stopping by to share a few things, starting with the above piece for Silicon Valley IT security firm, CGNet.


After a month of interviews and competing with some other cartoonists, and lastly, a multiple-party Zoom meeting, it looks like I'll be creating an ongoing cartoon series for a Fortune 100 company.  (Unnamed at this point, due to a NDA.) It will involve writing and drawing a regular comic strip, and creating stand alone illustrations for twice-monthly newsletters and emails to their corporate customers. 

It sounds like fun, especially since I will have some freedom to write in terms of subject matter and humor. (Of course, as always with a client like that, the language and concepts will need to steer clear of controversial subjects and be business-friendly.) I'm looking forward to doing my best to make their clients laugh. I'll start humor writing next month.


Due to my usual corporate and book illustration work, I don't create as many political cartoons these days as I once did. So, I was humbled, and honored to receive First Place in the Society of Professional Journalists' TOR awards for Political Cartoons in 2024 (also last year, 2023). This covers 80 media outlets in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico.

(A surprise, since I didn't enter - an editor submitted on my behalf, both years). 

An excerpt of an article From the Denver Post:

2024 Society of Professional Journalists TOR Awards Winners


The Society of Professional Journalists has announced the winners of the annual TOR Excellence in Journalism competition.

This year, more than 80 news media outlets from Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico entered the contest, which was judged by the Los Angeles Press Club. In all, the contest saw more than 1,900 entries.

“The competition grows each year, and with that, we honor outstanding journalism throughout the four-state region,” said contest coordinator Deb Hurley Brobst. “It’s an honor to recognize the hard work of these journalists."

Monday, November 27, 2023

On the Digital drawing Board: New schtuff

I hope everyone had a fun and relaxing Thanksgiving.

It's been a while since I posted, and after an eventful Autumn, here's a very quick highlighting of recent art and humor on the drawing board...

A couple of years back, I created a series of caricatures and humor for the Ralph Lauren Polo Bar restaurant in New York City. It was a project that continued for a while, tying in with RL's advertising and social media. (My process for writing the humor for them can be found here.)

The owner of a new, upscale dinner club in Norwalk, Connecticut had seen these cartoons and caricatures, and contacted me in October. He wanted something similar (in terms of caricatures) for his establishment, and we discussed the scope and terms of the project.

After discussing this and the intended purpose of the drawings, we decided to use a little less distortion and to make an effort capture more likeness in the style. I began with a larger format 18" x 24" piece depicting the owner's grandparents, (who inspired the restaurant). It is being framed and hung in the entry area, near the maître d'. Now, I am doing 8"x10" illustrations of the dining club's members, which will be also framed and hung throughout the restaurant. (Each couple will also receive a framed print of their own.)

(The owner's grandparents)

(The owner, with some of the framed caricature illustrations)

I'm drawing these by hand, but digitally, using my Wacom Cintiq. With the latest digital brushes, I can create India ink drawings and watercolor washes, which allows me to create artwork identical in appearance to things I created with traditional brushes, ink and bristol for years. This saves time and effort, (particularly versus packing and shipping physical art). I email the high resolution artwork to the client, and he has them printed at a top notch local printer, and then matted and framed.

There will be 70 framed caricature pieces with roughly 125 people, in total. I'm about halfway through at this point. 

A couple of early reviews of the establishment:

The last article mentions me, and oddly, the reporter said that I worked at Pixar...not sure where he got that…(I am currently illustrating a book for a Pixar executive, detailed in an earlier blog post.) Typical journalism these days. :)

Sounds like good food.

(Update 2/14: The owner just requested 30 more illustrations. I'll get to have some more fun).


This is a large 18" X 24" humorous illustration created for a longtime client, global technology  leader, Capgemini, headquartered in Paris, France. I have worked with their Vice President in charge of Marketing several times on previous pieces, and this was written and drawn for a retiring executive. After discussing the life and accomplishments of the gentleman to be depicted, the various vignettes were written, sketched, and then approved. 

I created the color artwork, and finally, I sent a high res CMYK (publishing standard 4-color process) filewhich the client had printed locally and then matted and framed for a party in Denmark, for the guest of honor.


The publisher of FREESKIER  (a magazine I've read since I was in college) launched a new magazine called "The Grom Guide", for kids and and families. The magazine editor contacted me in September to discuss a cartoon feature, starting with a two-page in the first issue. 

I was given the freedom to write and draw whatever I wanted, as long as it covered skiing and snowboarding, depicting kids with their families. As someone who has skied and snowboarded since I was a kid, this was right up my alley, and I had a great time playing with it. 

The first issue is in news stands, drug stores, ski shops, and other tawdry establishments.


Over the past several years, I’ve been working with a large group of medical doctors in California who have been in the midst of a battle with the state government regarding health insurance coverage for patient treatment. Many prominent insurance companies, including Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and United healthcare have been lobbying for lower patient visits and placing a severe cap on reimbursement for appointment charges. The companies have pushed and lobbied for legislation that requires extensive paperwork for each patient visit, making it a money losing proposition for many of these physicians, and their medical practices.

Here’s the latest in the series of political cartoons created for the fight against this...

Update: Three weeks after the cartoon was created, the physician's group called me with terrific news...The legislation was killed shortly after the editorials appeared. Victory!


A piece created for regular client, Thrive in San Francisco.


I’m currently working on illustrations for a book of humor, and the arrangement this time around is a little different than usual. Rather than being hired by a publisher or author, I am partnering with a publisher and a poet. The publisher contacted me, and their idea was to do something along the lines of the popular humor book by Steve Martin and Harry Bliss. After reading some of the poems by the humorous poet, and I was taken in by his wit and range. I am having fun with it, and need to fit more of it onto my drawing board to make the agreed upon schedule.


Another advertising cartoon for California biotech firm, List Labs. This one is aimed at their clientele...people who spend time behind a microscope. It takes me back to my time as a biology major at the University of Illinois...but we didn't have attachments of smartphones, allowing for easy photos of those microbes, etc.


 A couple more 'New Yorker' cartoons, (also shared with the folks who market them for me at Cartoonstock.) ...


Some photos from a Fall trip to the Summit Area for some mountain biking.
The Aspens were ablaze with color, and we spent a few days unwinding.


Lastly, I sent our family Christmas card off to my printer in California. (One of the few printers that still uses CMYK process for accurate color - not just the RGB colors on one's monitor.)

Sunday, July 02, 2023

On the Digital Drawing Board: A brief drive-by

Happy Summer Solstice.

I'm stopping in, and taking a few minutes away from the studio, after catching up from family vacations (more on that later) to post a few recent things on the drawing board.

I'll start with a few 'New Yorker' cartoons...

(with some color added for their inclusion in Cartoon Stock's collection).


 Link to cartoon download


 Link to cartoon download


Here are a few pieces in process for a large book illustration project. I'm working directly with the author, in concert with his publisher. I won't identify him, but he's a charming fellow with scintillating insights. As a former exec with Dream Works, and consultant to Apple, Adobe, Google, and other Silicon Valley notables, he has years of wisdom regarding prioritization, and its practical application to companies and organizations.

I began by reading the book manuscript, and then began writing material to highlight key concepts. The book is going to press soon, and will publish in Spring of 2024.

An illustration to accompany the author's interview with recording artist Rosanne Cash


Another ongoing book illustration project - this is from a book about online dating...



 One of a series of cartoons for National Grid, in London.

Lastly, I was surprised and thrilled to take home 1st place for the Editorial Cartoons in the Society of Professional Journalists 2023 awards, for the Rocky Mountain States. The annual contest covers newspapers and media in four states; Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming.                                   

The reason I was surprised is that I didn't submit my work for the contest...and I didn't know about this until it was awarded. (A newspaper editor submitted some of my political cartoons on my behalf.)        

One sample, published this past November: 


Update: Some additional blathering and pics from a summer trip... We went to see my Mom and my brother (and his family), rendezvousing in Chicago, and then heading way North, to Manitowish Waters Wisconsin, a place where my family had a vacation home for many years. We haven't been back there in over 18 years, and I campaigned to go back again, so that our kids could see what all the fuss was about.

We rented a house on Clear Lake, right near our old stomping grounds, and arrived ready to become water creatures. We kayaked, canoed, and hiked. I also rented a ski boat for tubing and water skiing, as well as a large pontoon boat. The latter helped with allowing our entire group to travel and sightsee comfortably, as there are nine lakes which are connected to each other.

After a few vacations over the years that involved tubing behind a boat, our daughter Julia decided she'd like to learn to water ski. So, I began the process of teaching her...which involves an array of things to consider, rope grip, how to curl up in the water, arching your back and bending your legs when being pulled up, (and to not fight the boat or try to pull yourself up.) And then, if/when you get up, you need to suddenly shift to a fully upright position and lean back to water ski. (the opposite of snow skiing's need for leaning forward over your skis).

The rule of thumb (as we were reminded by the natives and the purveyors of ski equipment in that area) it usually takes a first-timer an average of 30 to 40 tries to pull themselves out of the water successfully, and then balance long-term with stability on water skis. It seemed like Julia was going to approach that number, but then at around #15 she got up briefly...and by #20 managed to stay up. It seems like perhaps her bountiful time on snow skis helped.


Next up was my niece, who had been water skiing many times over the past two years with friends with a lake house near her home. She had been trying to slalom ski (one ski) over the past few months, but thus far hadn't been able to do it. My brother and I worked with her, and after demonstrating it, she did it! We were all thrilled with their aquatic milestones. Very exciting stuff.

I had a few runs, too. This was my first time on water skis in nearly 20 years, and the first lap around the lake was a little rusty. Over the next few days, it all came back, and I was able to kick off a ski and do some slalom laps. (Old dogs, old tricks.)

We saw bald eagles float and soar above us, and also watched loons dive into the lake, and call for their mates in their distinctive manner. It was an incredible week in a stunningly beautiful place - and I've found myself thinking about it over the past few days since getting back. It was like seeing an old friend again after many years. I get the feeling that my Dad was smiling from above while we were there.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

On the Digital Drawing board wrap-up: Google, Pixar, Spanx, Elections and Books

Over the past few months I’ve had trouble finding time to post here. It remains that way. Seven corporate projects and three book illustration jobs currently reside on the drawing board, and I recently turned down a few new projects, due to being overbooked. Good to be busy, yes, but perhaps a bit too much. Thanksgiving weekend is providing a nice break and time with my family. I have a few minutes while everyone is asleep, to stop in and write a little.
I will waste no time in briefly sharing a few recent things…
We'll start things off with a sample from of a large number of political cartoons created the recent election. These cover the Liz Cheney - Harriet Hageman race, Hageman won, (and the final election was all but decided long before November.)

A side note: after drawing the two women, I feel they're both very interesting looking people.


  An illustration of Roseanne Cash performing at Carnegie hall. One of over a dozen illustrations currently in process for a book about prioritization. The author, a longtime executive with DreamWorks, just sent it to the publisher for final editing.

I'm in the early stages of illustrating a children's book called "The Moon and the Mantis".
Below are some initial design sketches and color studies for one of the main characters. I'm also working on a thumbnail sketch layout of page illustrations for the publisher, (more to come)...

Next up is a personal commission for the editor of a publication with whom I have worked in recent months. She and her husband live in Philadelphia, and her son is a college student at Bowdoin College in Maine. They wanted to give him a framed illustration of his personal milestones (thus far) as a gift for Christmas. I had fun with this, adding some thematic elements that reflected her son's interests. I created two versions, one vertical and the second horizontal, allowing she and her husband to choose which worked best aesthetically and for framing.

clicken to embiggen

One of several cartoons created for The Pathway Academy in London.

A cartoon illustration commissioned by a Citi Group Financial 
executive for a presentation to investment bakers. 

One of several scenes of background artwork I created for an animated short film.
(I am not involved with the animated sequences.) The film will be finished in Spring 2023. 
(Clicken to enlargen)

I was recently hired by Google to create a series of cartoons for their advertising. They first contacted me a couple of years ago to create some humor for meetings with executives of large client companies. The goal this time is to compare the benefits of their cloud storage to that of AWS (Amazon) and Microsoft. To be candid, data storage is fairly boring subject matter...and they want humor to season it, like herbs added to a an otherwise good-looking but bland quiche or soufflé . (Now I have a hankering for a hunk of Gruyère cheese.)
So, I'm starting by having some fun with the writing. (And Google's plentiful budget allows for lots of playing.) I'm in the midst of initial concepts and rough sketches, and will share some finished things soon.

Another fun project currently on the board is a new book illustration project for an author who is a former Apple and DreamWorks executive. He has an agent and publisher in hand and he has been working with an editor. He’ll remain nameless right now…but I’ll just say that he contacted me a few months back to help him by writing humor and then illustrating his concepts in a way that hopefully helps to keep the reader engaged. I can't divulge what it's about or share images, as it is under non-disclosure wraps for now, via his agent and publisher. Suffice it to say that after reading it, this seems like a book that will appeal to a good number of readers, particularly in the corporate world.


Next up: a personal commission depicting Sara Blakely (Spanx clothing founder) and her husband, Jesse Itzler, (owner of the Atlanta Hawks NBA team) I was asked to create it by a long-time client who is a friend of theirs, and this will presented to them as gift at their home. The scene is an inside joke about online dating, and the language and misspellings used in meeting each other. I don’t fully get that joke, but I have been assured that they will….which is what matters. Meanwhile, it has been fun to draw them in a relatively simple style, (less detailed than I do for most personal commissions and caricature illustrations.)
Sara Blakely

I'm in the midst of creating some pen and ink illustrations for Burpee Seeds/Ball Horticultural in Chicago. The illustrations depict various plants sold in Home Depot.

I created for a comic book style illustration for one of their print ads in 'Better Homes and Gardens' magazine two years ago:
This time I'm using a pen and ink with watercolor style, which is quite a bit more detailed. My music is on, and I'm jamming while drawing pots, leaves, tomatoes and soil.  
The art will be part of instructional material sent to all Home Depot stores in March. First draft below:
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Here’s something currently on the drawing board for a law firm in NYC with whom I’ve worked for several years. This is a Holiday greeting card that will be mailed to their friends and clients and also posted online as part of a charitable donation drive for the homeless. In this case, the concept and dialogue was written by some of the partners in the firm...I served as the illustrator. (Gray scale first draft was just approved, and I added color..will send it off later today.)

 Here's a Holiday piece I'm creating created for a new client, a large biotech company in California. We're discussing quarterly illustrations for their marketing and advertising going forward.