Friday, December 07, 2012

Jay Kennedy Scholarship deadline December 15

As usual, I've been too busy with clients and family to post much, but I thought this subject deserved mention. This is a terrific scholarship, named after a man who had a big effect on the work of many cartoonists.

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. 

I had the 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.

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! Follow this link to the National Cartoonists Society Foundation webiste for more information...

Hotter than July

Well, almost. Christmas is three weeks away and we had 70 degree temperatures here in Boulder today.  I went to get a season ski pass in shorts the other day, (felt odd to say the least.)

Speaking of warmth, my digital drawing board is smoking from the friction of use. I have been exceedingly busy over the past few months and that explains my absence here.

October and November brought a great deal of political cartoon work, which typically increases during election cycles.

I created a good number of political cartoons for newspapers such as the San Francisco Examiner, many Senate campaigns, as well as special interest groups and financial firms. (Some examples below).

Some other work over the past several weeks...

One of several cartoons created for Cisco Systems, for use in publicizing and marketing a series of new teleconferencing technologies.

A piece for Cozi inc...publishers of a popular parenting magazine & website. (Geez, this one was for Halloween...time has really flown.) I'm currently working on a Christmas piece for them.

...And speaking of Christmas...I'm doing several holiday cards for several corporate is an unusual piece for a nice fellow who runs a pet service in Washington DC.

 Monthly cartoon for Leadership Review magazine

 Two pieces from a series of golf cartoons done for Chicago-based Straight North, Inc.

One a several cartoons for a humor book about dating.


I'm currently illustrating six books...four of which I can't share yet, but will do so after they go to press.

Back to the drawing board...after this little respite, it should be cool enough to touch again.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Romney & Obama cartoons

I don't know if you've been following the debates, or if you're planning to watch the final Presidential debate Monday night...but a new trend has been to show the "live" reactions of viewers to specific parts of the debates. Some of this is done via Twitter and others use electronic response units with small groups of people.  I was contacted recently by the CEO of a San Diego-based company, a developer of a new website that allows one to clap for a candidate's response,  online.

The website is called "Give them the" (Funny name, I must say.)

He wanted to buy license rights to use my caricatures of Romney, Obama, Biden & Ryan on the website...(and we negotiated a fee to make that happen.)  They will go live on Monday, during the third debate. (Click it and try it's fun.)

Well, back to the sure to vote!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Recent & Future Work: Drawing Board wrap-up

The summer has officially ended. Subsequently, September started much like it often does, with a flood of projects. With the kids back in school, vacations wrapped up, people are back in their offices, and they are re-focused. Or at least that's the way it seems, as the phone began ringing right after Labor Day.

Nearly a dozen new corporate projects are on tap, along with three new book illustration jobs, (two are children's books).

One of those corporate projects is for computer networking company, Cisco Systems. They've hired me to create a series of humorous cartoons to promote a new technology for business meetings. (Specialized large screen monitors that provide a lifelike and almost 3D teleconferencing experience.)

Update: I went to a Boulder Cisco Systems location this week to get first-hand a demonstration of the technology, to help me create the material. I was able to use the TelePresence system to "meet" with a Cisco VP and his staff in California"...and that's the idea of the system: You are right there with people in other cities without the need to travel. These units are not cheap however; at $110,000, it would take a large company to justify the trade off.

In the photo below, you can see that the conference table wraps around through the screen to give the illusion that it is one large table. The cameras and microphones follow movement...while the screens above and below the monitors allow the presentation of content from laptops, Ipads, etc. (I was able to plug mine in and test it out.) I was able to make some sketches, hold the paper up to the gentlemen 'across the table' and have them point to what they liked. Try doing that on Skype! Each of the three screens can display a separate location. Overall an extremely life-like meeting experience that rivals being there in person.

Photo taken from a Cornell University blog below...(The guy on left with the glasses is Cisco executive who hired me.)

Here is a video demonstrating the technology, (i am working with the Cisco exec explaining it here)


Meanwhile, here are some recent pieces that have been completed for other clients...

Hope you had a terrific summer!

Comic book cover, (and comic interior work done for long-time client CGNet)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cul de Sac comic strip to retire

I've been a fan of Richard Thompson's comic strip, Cul de sac since it debuted roughly five years ago.

Sadly, it is coming to an untimely end, due to the cartoonist's ongoing -- and increasingly more difficult -- battle with Parkinson's disease.

This statement is from Universal Press Syndicate's Lee Salem:

On September 9, 2007, the remarkable talent of Richard Thompson hit the newspaper pages in the comic strip Cul de Sac. The buzz began even before the strip debuted; Bill Watterson emerged from his retirement to praise the strip’s writing, artwork and imagination. In May, 2011, Richard received the Cartoonist of the Year award from the National Cartoonists Society, an amazing achievement in so short a time. 
But the last year has been a struggle for Richard. Parkinson’s Disease, first diagnosed in 2009, has so weakened him that he is unable to meet the demands of a comic strip. For a time, he worked with another artist, but the deadlines became too much of a task. So it is with personal and professional sadness that I inform you he has decided to end Cul de Sac. The last strip (an original) will be run on Sunday September 23, 2012.
A little background: For several years it has been felt by many cartoonists, newspaper syndicate editors and comic strip fans that the era of the 'great newspaper comic strip' had passed. In fact, nothing had come along since the late 80's to strike the fancy of readers like Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side or Peanuts, long before them. Sure, Dilbert was popular, right after Calvin was retired, but no one really felt it was a true equal to the aforementioned features, (certainly on the basis of universal appeal with adults and kids...and possibly art as well.)

Then, Cul de Sac came along with its wit and charm. It even felt like Calvin and Hobbes in its playful tone.

Certainly the landscape of comic strips is not the same these days, with newspaper readership down, and plethora of cartoons available in so many other venues. But still, a great impression was made.

It is sad to see the comic end...yet, despite all this, Richard had a stellar five year run...particularly remarkable after starting the comic strip well into his cartooning career. (Richard was and is a successful freelance advertising cartoonist and illustrator, and started Cul de Sac at the age of 50.)

Here's wishing Richard and his family the very best in navigating his illness.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

On the Digital Drawing Board

One of several pieces for the British Columbia Government Employee's Assoc.

Some work for a new version of an Intel Corporation commercial.

A political cartoon commissioned to fight a California Senate bill.

A political cartoon on Romney's VP pick of Paul Ryan.

Another of several Merk Funds cartoons this month.

A cartoon for a book on online dating for NY author Peter Millrose

One of many pieces for a greeting card company in Florida

Also on the board: Some corporate advertising work, as well as a couple of fun book illustrations jobs...(can't show anything from those yet, as I signed confidentiality agreements precluding sharing of concepts or images until they are published.)

Summer fun in the mountains

A week away in the mountains certainly clears the dust from one's cerebral cortex. No drawing, no writing...not even cell phones. (Very few opportunities for that these days.)

We recently took a family trip to the Keystone area for a little R&R. It is one of our favorite places to relax because of its beauty, quiet and plethora of fun activities. (I came to Colorado for the skiing, but found that there is much more to do in the mountains during the summer than in the winter.)

We stay in a family-friendly condo complex in  Keystone's "River Run", up against the mountains, allowing us quick access to mountain bike trails and horse back riding, even the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory...and lots of swimming in the pool, too, (thanks to my daughter, who could live half her life in the water if she was allowed to do so.) This time around we did not go white river rafting, (not enough time to fit it all in). All of it was tremendously fun. A sampling:

                                    Hula hoop prowess, (or lack thereof, in my case.)

  Horseback riding on some mountain trails. (Those horses can climb, and eat saplings along the way.)

A mountain bike ride on the Vail Pass bike path...leading from Vail to Copper Mountain, then to Frisco and eventually Breckenridge. Absolutely breathtaking mountain ranges and scenery. We've spied eagles, Elk, deer, even the rare bear in the river. - My wife asked Julia and I to 'flex our muscles' after doing a tough vertical climb...Julia (having not seen as many Arnold Schwarzenegger movies as I have) is not  familiar with the mechanics of flexing, but got the hand clench part.

Julia, dodging a little stream run-off.....                           and later, feeding the trout and ducks.

Friday, July 06, 2012

On the Digital Drawing Board

What has been an incredibly busy pace over the past several months has calmed to a much more manageable 30-40 hour/week schedule the past two weeks. (It is usually the case, as summer vacations with some corporate and publishing clients begin kicking in.)

I love this time of the year for that reason, as it gives me a chance to catch my breath, and also spend some time with my family.

Speaking of that, we just took a 10 day Atlantic coast beach vacation...lots of fun, sun, surf, seafood, boating and relaxation. We're all back recharged and ready to go.

Here are a few things that are on the board or were completed recently...

Two cartoons commissioned by London-based ICB, a manufacturer of roofing and sidewalk materials.

A political cartoon commissioned to help fight the re-election of a Representative in California

Some political cartoons for long-time client, Merk Investments...

Two pieces from a book I'm illustrating for New York author, Peter Millrose. It will be a humorous look at online dating, and will include 35 cartoons...

Lastly, two animated videos created for global consulting firm, Towers Watson, Inc. The artwork and in between movements are the extent of my work...the animation and music were handled by some colleagues in New York, (same folks that I collaborated with for the Intel Corp commercials.) 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Obama & Reagan have something in common

I don't know if you saw the news story regarding an Irish reporter asking President Obama a question...and the outrage it drew from other reporters. Outrage over interrupting a President with a question? Apparently today's media has no memory of how other reporters have treated previous Presidents.

Neil Munro, the reporter in question is only carrying on with a long-standing tradition of reporters interrupting Presidents... and best of all, this guy Munro is consistent with his answers to fellow reporters. ('Just questions you should be asking'. "I'd give you my name but you'd misspell it.") I also love the fact that he had a good reason for jumping in to ask a question...unlike most Presidents, Obama almost never takes questions after a briefing. I was in the White House rose garden with some other editorial cartoonists back in 1987, (and got to meet Reagan, Vice President HW Bush, Education Secretary Bill Bennet, etc.) Reagan was speaking to us at his podium, when Sam Donaldson popped up over the fence (uninvited and on. a ladder outside the fence, no less) and started heckling Reagan, which he did often back then. He yelled questions about Iran Contra and Oliver North.Unlike Obama, (at an event where reporters were invited and expected), Reagan was polite enough to stop what he was doing to answer Donaldson. Eventually, one of the cartoonists called for the group to go inside, and Reagan concurred...which really upset Donaldson.

A large political cartoon that we all created and gave to the President.

A separate cartoon Tom Toles created, with an empty word balloon for the President to finish:

It's amazing that the press seems to forget how rude and nasty Donaldson was, (and later with HW Bush), and additionally act as if this sort of "heckling" is unprecedented. How dare this guy Munro (who was invited to the press pool) ask President an actual question? 

I found a video of the event: (Donaldson heckles Reagan at the 11:38 mark)