I made the cut for this year’s C2E2 Artist Alley and it was a great year. It was the first year I went in to focus just on my illustration work, particularly my drawing of muscle cars. By the end of the three days I had scored more money than any previous comic convention and actually attracted more interest in not only my artwork, but also my comic. Seems rock & roll and muscle cars go hand in hand!
The reactions to my car illustrations were so positive, that it has now given me a focus on how and where to market my illustration work. I’m in the process of tracking down car shows that allow in vendors like myself. There’s a lot of them out there and it gives me a direct link to my market. Very excited by all of this as it is the first time I’ve had a clear, well-defined audience to market my illustrations.
Plus, got to meet Tom Richmond of Mad magazine fame, and classic Playboy artist Doug Sneyd. Doug was really cool and talked with me for a long time. He asked me how I handled making money with my comics and we talked Patreon and Kickstarter. It felt good for a novice like me to give a master some advice.
In the meantime, enjoy some fun shots of the cosplayers that came by my table.
I have been asked by a lot of people to share my drawing process. I believe in sharing information, as it is the only way to grow as an industry. But, up until recently, I’ve not had a good way to capture my drawing. I do all my work digitally and most of the programs I’ve tried that capture your desktop were of low quality, or really expensive. I found one that’s not only free, but delivers top-notch video quality. It’s from Picarto.TV and the App is called Open Broadcaster. You have to sign up at the Picarto.TV website to download it, but again it’s free. The site is designed to allow you to stream live video to an audience. But, the app also allows you to record a session and not broadcast it. That’s how I use it. The output video is an FLV (Flash) file, but I convert it to an AVI so I may edit it in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. The quality holds up very well, even when YouTube has processed the video.
So this video is of the comic that posted January 26th, 2015. It is a teaser comic for the upcoming story and features Bud standing in an ocean being eyed by a smiling shark. The video takes you through the entire process from raw sketch, to final pencils, inking. coloring and shading. I know it’s 36 minutes long, and that’s compressed down from over 2-hours, but if you watch the video over on YouTube, in the description you’ll find timecode shortcuts to take you to the segment you wish to view. Very nice feature, YouTube!
A lot of folks tease me about my liking NASCAR. The typical jokes fly: “Let’s drive in circles. That’ll be fun!” Ha, ha. Okay, you know it’s more than that. I could make similar boring jokes about baseball, basketball or football; all of which are insanely boring… to me.
But, I dig cars. I can’t work on them as I know squat about them, but I love driving them and have spent my fair share of time sliding cars around country gravel roads. That’s an adrenaline rush! Which should explain why I’m drawn to NASCAR.
NASCAR also allows fans access to their drivers unlike any other sport. Try and talk with an NBA superstar. Not going to happen. Walk into a track, and you can (with some diligence) meet your favorite driver and get an autograph.
But NASCAR also let’s their drivers settle things the old fashion way. With their fists. Sure hockey allows players to beat the crap out of each other, but nothing beats a set of mad drivers piling it on at the end of the race on Pit Road. That’s some good TV right there! As an example, watch Jeff Gordon mix it up with Brad Keselowski after a race in Texas recently. Now that’s entertainment!
In the early days of the comic, I was doing a lot of research on how to do daily comic strips. One thing I came across was that there seems to be a tradition of gender swapping for characters in comics at some point or another.
I grew up on Warner Bros. cartoons and Bugs Bunny was constantly dressing up like a woman to drive Elmer Fudd or Yosemite Sam crazy. And a joke I like to tell (and a true story) was that until I was like 6 years old, I thought I was going to grow up to be a girl like my three older sisters.
So, having my cartoon alter-ego go through some sort of gender swap at some point seemed inevitable. Another reason why I did it was for the fact that I simply sucked at drawing women in the early days of the comic. You will cringe like I do when you click on the early comics. So to challenge myself to draw women better, I introduced Lorraine and Robyn, and had Bud transform into a woman.
The transformation story also brought a surreal element to the comic. Something I liked, but threw a lot of folks for a loop. I also introduced the fact that Poco could breathe fire as well. The comic is a work of fiction as well as a slice-of-life from the 1970s, so for me, these surreal parts made it more entertaining.
But as time went on, I thought I had run the course on the transformation comic bits. So, I ended it with Bud’s “Deal with the Devil” story, which, when combined with the “Road Trip” story, occupied most of the 2009 comics.
But, a lot of folks enjoyed the transformation story, so I’m going to bring it back for the re-launch of the comic. You can use the links on each of the images to re-visit most of the transformation comics. Or if you just want to get started on the new stuff, click on the “Mystic Frog Origins” link. That will start you off on the current story.
A forgotten 1977 song from a not-so-forgotten band.
1977’s “Freeways” was Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s 6th album in four short years. It was a huge departure from the band’s normal sound and it left many fans flat. Inner turmoil was rising as Randy Bachman wrote and performed most of the tracks with minimal help from the other members. Bassist, Fred Turner, only allowed himself to be photographed in profile as he felt like he was nothing more than a “side-man” on the album. But, regardless, one of their better album tracks is found in the closing moments of this collection.
The album’s eponym, “Freeways” is one of only two tracks of the eight on the album that lead singer Turner was allowed to take the helm. It reckons to their heavier sound at times but also mixes in an aural feel of travelin’ down the highway as the sun sets. It is fitting imagery as, unfortunately, this would be the last album that this most famous line-up of BTO would record together. They would reunite for a couple years in the early 1990s to tour, but eventually Randy Bachman’s struggle to rule the group would lead to his departure in ’91.
So, sit back, relax and imagine you’re at the wheel of your favorite ’70s muscle car; your shades on as you cruise down the highway to your next destination and enjoy “Freeways” by BTO.
Here’s my follow up on Wizard World Chicago Comic Con.
As it was my first ever Wizard World event, I was not entirely sure what to expect.
First, it was tremendously easier to get in and out of then C2E2. I just pulled up to the dock on the side, loaded my crap on the cart and rolled in. They had a parking pass for $43 for the entire weekend with In and Out privileges (a big deal). Thus, there were no huge lines anywhere to get in or out for vendors. And there were over 400 artists in Artist Alley as well.
The big “con” to this con was it was mainly an autograph event. Huge names in the movies/TV were there, but they were all UP FRONT and there was NO motivation for folks to walk the through the floor, especially all the way back to Artist Alley. With C2E2 they had guests along the sides, forcing people to walk the entire floor, and thus we had more visibility. ↓ Read the rest of this entry…
You may or may not know, but I play bass guitar. If you’ve been a fan of the comic, you know Bud is based on me and his bass, a Gibson bass knock-off, is actually the same as my original bass guitar. I still have that bass sitting in my bedroom. So I thought I’d chat about the rock bassists who influenced me to wanting to play bass as opposed to the popular guitar.
My influences were Paul McCartney, John Entwistle and John Paul Jones. The Paul-John-John-Paul of bass players. Yeah, yeah, many guys out there can play these guys under the table (not many) but they weren’t around in 1971 when I was bitten by the bass guitar urge. I had played clarinet since 4th grade and had progressed to bass clarinet by this time in my music training. So, I was drawn naturally to the lower tones of the bass guitar. I also noticed bass lines more than I did lead guitar stuff.
Where's the bass?
McCartney’s bass lines on “Hey Bulldog” are freakin’ cool and it was one of the first songs I can remember going “Hey, I’d like to play like that someday!” Never did, but I digress… In my opinion, Paul was the embodiment of moving bass players from the single note, simple melodic thumping bass lines that simply followed along with the bass drum to down-your-throat riffs that could stand on their own. Many a Beatle song was 100 times better thanks to Paul’s bass lines. He’s even mentioned how he would record the bass separate so he come up with more intricate lines. So, Paul is first on my list because he’s the first I can remember.
It’s easy to see how McCartney influenced a lot of kids from my generation (and earlier), but it was two bass players for two very different bands that really hooked me on playing bass.
Heavy Metal Thunder... wait...
Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones made my ears perk up from the moment I heard his incredible lines on “Dazed and Confused” but also because he played keyboards; my second love in playing in bands. I took piano lessons and built my own synthesizers back in the day, so playing bass and tinkering on the pearly whites was very natural to me. Plus, Jones seemed like a cool guy. I am a fan of Zeppelin’s first four albums, after that I fell off the Led Zep bandwagon, so my references are only from those albums. So as I moved from listening to the Archies in 1969 to Led Zeppelin’s first album (much to my parent’s chagrin) I got hooked on Zeppelin’s sound, which Jones, along with Bonham, were the foundation of all foundations in rock bands. Hard to find a better duo in rock and roll.
"Yeah, I'm flippin' you off!"
You talk about the Who’s John Entwistle. I loved John’s playing early on. How could you not notice that bass guitar solo in “My Generation”? But when I picked up “Quadrophenia” in 1973 and heard John’s lines on “The Real Me” I was blown away and knew I had to play in a band someday. Combine Entwistle’s flying bass lines and Keith Moon’s machine gun fire drumming and you were knocked on your ass. “Quadrophenia” has some great examples of both of their playing styles. John also played French Horn and it gave the marching band geek in me some hope that my clarinet playing abilities would come in handy some day (they did not… not much call for heavy metal clarinet). Entwistle was the quiet one in the band standing off to the side just flying up and down his guitar’s neck with ease. Listening to him jam a solo on some concert footage is just amazing.
So, three very different bass players ended up rounding out my playing style. I never achieved the virtuoso playing these three had, but then I did not try very hard either. Playing like them didn’t come from casual playing… it took hours, weeks, months and years of playing to achieve what they did. So, I occasionally pick up my old original bass and plug it into a tiny practice amp and return to 1977 when I was gigging most weekends. Many things have come and gone in my life, but this old bass is the one constant that I hang on to.
Going through my collection of National Lampoon magazines from 1977, I came across this beauty of a rockin’ stereo system! Only $169.95! What a bargain! I know a lot of crap products are made every year, but this one is killer.
A real product for “a person on the move”. Battery operated too! Who could ask for more? Yeah, you certainly could pick up chicks at a bar with this thing. “Hey, I’ve got KC and the Sunshine Band’s new album in my car. Wanna hear it?” Imagine the look on her face when she realizes you *live* in your car. “It’s only until I find a job…. Hey, where you going?”
Anyway, things like this came and went back in the day (and today) but I got a real kick out of this one. Imagine the schmuck who thought he was getting a quality product… all in a briefcase! God Bless America and Tone Control.
Another video from the concert I shot in September of 1990. This is from Naperville’s Last Fling concert series. It was held on a big hill in a park in Naperville, Illinois. They’re known for getting classic rock bands to perform, and BTO put on a good solid show as they always did.
The beginning of this video is full of people’s heads getting in front of me. This was BTO’s final encore and the crowd was really rowdy making it difficult to find a spot to shoot from. I’m surprised they let me record the whole concert to be honest, but they also had a camera up on stage so they were not too worried about little ol’ me.
Hey everybody! I’m back from the C2E2 comic convention and my feet and back are shot, but I had a great time. This week’s blogs, both here and over at Webcomic Planet, will go into detail of what I did and what I found out for future conventions and even the future of 1977. Teasers!
For today, enjoy some images! Word Press kinda sucks at how you can format images and text together, so I’ll update this page with HTML formatting later on.
At the end of “summer” each year, a town near me throws a “Last Fling” weekend event that is capped off by some famous classic rock group performing live at a free concert. This is from 1990. I had just gotten an S-VHS camcorder for my company to shoot low-end videos and was playing around with it and decided to videotape the entire concert while standing on a grassy field. I just found the video after nearly 20 years and decided it was time to bring it into the digital era. I edited the video using AVID’s Liquid 7.2 software then exported the audio into Steinberg’s Clean to add some needed punch to the mono soundtrack (they came out with a Hi-Fi version right after I bought this camera… typical).
For several years bassist Fred Turner and I exchanged the occasional email. The band has quit touring now and his website has gone dark. BTO has always held a warm spot in my heart… their music is just fun to listen to and it always puts me into a better mood. So, enjoy this little gem from 1990 called “Gimme Your Money Please” which is a story of how the band got mugged on their first trip to New York and the gunman actually said “please” when asking for their money. Fun story and great song!
All things evolve and so do cartoon characters. Especially cartoon characters. I have always liked looking back at other comic’s early strips to see how things have changed and my own is no exception. I’m going to highlight each character in a blog post like this and who better to start with then Bud.
Each column represents how Bud looked in 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively and each row shows him as his regular self, then as some sort of TV/film character and finally as Budette. I’ve gotten a lot better at drawing women, that’s for sure!
I normally do not use character reference sheets to draw Bud and the gang. It is fairly standard practice in cartooning to have a design sheet of each character showing major facial expressions and various angles of the face. I do not like using those as I think it limits how you draw your characters. I mean, there’s only so many ways to draw a character in a cartoon strip, either from the side or profile. But by having a set design sheet in front of you, I believe it limits an artist’s ability to progress and experiment with a character’s looks. If I do look at a reference, it’s more for their hair. Otherwise I draw them from memory.
“Not Fragile” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive, August 1974, Mercury Records.
One of the best Stadium rock and roll albums ever recorded. Forget Kiss, Cheap Trick, Deep Purple or even Black Sabbath. When Bachman-Turner Overdrive rolled into your city your ears and body were pounded with a solid 90-minute musical set of rock songs designed to put a smile on your face, a buzz in your brain and a ringing in your ears. Absent were the droning guitar and drum solos; left at the door were the “here are some new songs we wrote” that no-one wanted to hear. BTO gave you dead-on performances of their songs, adding only the excitement of a basic light show and the sheer volume of their live act.
I was only 12 years old when Woodstock kicked off 40 years ago today. But I remember seeing the news footage every evening and thinking a couple things… 1- “Are they nuts?” and 2- “That looks really cool!” I was a confused 12 year old…
So, in honor of this monumental occasion, I happened a long a road sign near my home that stated it all very clearly. Also appropriate that I’m wearing my 1977 the Comic t-shirt with pot leaf logo on it as I’m sure grass was consumed in large quantities that weekend. No food, no water, no bathrooms, but plenty of bongs and joints to go around. Score…