Monday, October 31, 2005

Lone Star State Of Mind

Blue Torsos

Everything Texas
In a couple of days, I'll be in the Dallas area and to celebrate my first time in the biggest state of the Onion, I have designed the poster featured at the top of this entry and this week's playlist showcases the finest country/rock music known to me. Stop by the Wizard World show in Arlington this coming weekend if you can.

A Day At The Races
Just got back from New Hampshire, what a trip! my friend Jay and your personal slave, took a 4-hour drive to Nashua on Friday, the convention was actually held on Saturday and Sunday but we had a halloween party to attend.

Jay decided to ignore the directions given to us by our host, instead, he allowed his GPS (global positioning system) to guide us to our destination. Needless to say, we ended up getting lost in the pitch black of the night, as it turned out, there were several roads with the same name in at least 5 different towns in the area, Jay picked the first instance without bothering to scroll down, you can just imagine what happened next, we wound up in the middle of Bumfuck, U.S.A., I could swear I heard a banjo playing the "Deliverance" song in the fucking wilderness we were in. We arrived at the correct address long after the festivities had ended, our gracious hosts, Randy House and his lovely wife, informed us we've just missed a great party and a bloody fight inside their home, talk about timing!

I had plenty of fun at the convention, my friend Chris and his partners ran a well organized event and they were very kind and helpful, every step of the way. Thank you guys for making us feel right at home!

My lemonade stand was placed right in front of a real pirate ship and adyacent to Bernie Wrightson's table, for those of you who don't follow comics, Bernie is considered an american legend and it turns out he's also loads of fun to hang out with. Attendance was low on Saturday which gave me time to sketch at will, something I did on board of the pirate ship.

After the Con ended, on Saturday, our gang hit "La Carreta", a superb mexican restaurant in the neighboring Hudson township; I have to tell you, both the food and the service at this fine establishment, were second to none. I had brought with me my "Anakin Skywalker" Podracer helmet, which helped make the night a memorable one.

Yours truly taking a quick nap, before binging on enchiladas verdes.

Bernie Wrightson stretching my helmet with his huge brain.

Adam Hughes playing with his food. Yeah, you're winning, man, sure!

Liz and Bernie wearing mexican hats 2 sizes too small.

Allison Sohn showing off her award-winning tonsils.

Randy House in full regalia. Rapunzel, Rapunzel....!

Photos courtesy of Jason Schachter © 2005 Jason Schachter


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Do You Use Models Or Draw From Your Head?

Without a doubt this is the question I get asked the most, so I've decided to let her have her own journal entry. I don't mind answering this everytime I meet people at the conventions, but typing the same thing over and over gets a little tiring. So here goes my take on drawing from brain, live and photo reference, hopefully for the last time :)

I draw from 4 sources: live models, internet porn, photos I shoot myself and from memory, most drawings you've seen here or in the books have been done using any of these 4 sources, but most likely they are a combination of some or all of these. After I get a few lines down capturing the essence of the pose, that's where the fun begins for me. Unless, of course, I'm drawing a straight forward portrait of someone whose likeness has to be depicted as accurately as possible.

The following account is indicative of how I work most of the time:
While sketching the cover for Zowie!, (from my head) I couldn't figure out the fold of her left arm holding a dagger viewed from the back at an awkward angle, I asked my daughter to pose for me holding a butter knife with her hand on her back which I then "frankensteined" to complete the sketch.

After I was done I realized that I could have solved it by drawing it from my head and in fact, my previous sketch of that same arm would have been acceptable and believable to the viewer, but drawing the arm and hand from life gave the drawing a more credible dimension and made me learn a thing or two, that is what I'm after.

In the end none of this mattered because I opted for the hand holding the gun in front of her face ( I felt the arm/hand with the dagger, detracted from the pronounced curvature of her hips, this is where a design decision overrides content, I have no problem being a slave to design) I told this story to a friend and soon rumours started circulating that I force my children to pose for my pornographic drawings, heh, heh!!

I bought a retractable shaving mirror from Ikea, which I've attached to my drawing board, it's great for expressions, hand gestures in tough angles, I abuse that mirror to no end, I highly recommend it.

Whether drawing live in the subway, at the studio with a live model or using photographic reference at home (I'd love to bring naked women into my basement but, it's kinda cold down there), I usually get the basic gesture down, really fast and then labor intensely to give it a more dramatic, more "idealized" spin, MY spin. You can use the word "dynamic" if you must, although that reminds me of those hideous Hogarth books.

Most of the work is done without looking at the model, after I've taken what I wanted from the pose, this is not because I'm so good at drawing from my head, I do it because I'm not interested in copying the source bit by bit, in every pose there's something I like to keep and a lot that i want to change, sometimes it's the entire pose but more often than not I manipulate the elements (arms legs, direction of movement and whatever else in order to realize my perverted vision, there's got to be something of myself in there, otherwise it makes no sense to do it at all.

To draw exclusively from my head is of no importance to me whatsoever, -the more I draw from life, the better I get at recognizing shapes and learning accurate anatomy- but I know that for some reason people give great importance to something drawn from memory as if this is an astounding feat, I don't give two shits about it. Most comics are drawn from people's heads and they suck. At the last convention I attended, my friend So And So showed me a very intricate and detailed drawn comic book, I felt the work was mediocre and over-rendered and he replied " You don't understand! all of this is drawn from his head!, he uses no reference", I said "perhaps he should". The fact that some people can draw from memory means absolutely nothing to me, good art is good art and a bad drawing is just a bad drawing, period! a poor drawing from someone's head doesn't make me like it any better.

I want to base my drawings on something real, a solid structure I can't accomplish from just imagining the forms and the lighting in my head, the library of poses in my brain is very limited, maybe I'm slow or my head can't hold a lot of information. Or perhaps all twenty years of sniffing Charpak™, Spray Mount™, Krylon™ and Paper Cement™ have finally taken a toll on my neurones. (those of you outside the US, click on the links and buy some)

The goal of most cartoonists is to eventually draw everything from memory, I can see why that's useful, particularly for comics or animation where one must draw a slew of characters over and over, most of the time the only way you can tell one comic book character from another is by his/her costume, this is quite understandable as the amount of drawings (in an equally crazy amount of poses) is astonishing, there's got to be a convention, a simple abstraction, the viewer in turn, suspends his/her disbelief and makes it work. I'm neither an animator nor a comic book artist and since I don't produce sequencial "panels" I'm not bound by those conventions, what was good for the old masters is good enough for me, besides, the main reason why I draw women in the first place is because I'm obsessed with women's bodies, they're never boring to me, I always find something new, the folds of the skin, the dents and bumps created by several lumps of flesh arranged in a particular manner, etc.,

I want to be in the same room with a naked woman and breath the same air, stare at her shamelessly (preferably all day long) and turn her into my "ideal", this is also why I don't care much for comic book art, in which, diversity of form is sacrificed in behalf of storytelling, I say fuck storytelling, give me Geof Darrow and Mignola instead, to this very day I have no fucking idea as to what hellboy is and does, (no, I didn't see the movie) the premise seems pretty lame to me but those characters sure do look great posing like rock stars in every panel. I buy comics for the art, if I want to read a good story I buy a book without pictures, where my own imagination can take off. Moreover, I'm not interested in drawing from my head because no matter how much knowledge of anatomy you possess, you can't imagine every single twist of the body or nuance of light and how the environment affects the planes and forms at any given time, at one point or another your drawings will start to look the same.

This blog is full of drawings done from my head , just look around; after a little while you will be able to tell which drawings came strictly from my head and which didn't; the more "cartoony" stuff is always done without ref or models, in those, you can clearly see the restrictions posed by my limited knowledge of anatomy and my struggles with proportions and such.

I say all this because, there's a stigma out there, specially among young artists, that everything must be drawn from your head, anything other than that, is considered cheating, this is pure and unadulterated bullshit!! Now, go find yourself some porn to draw, it's OK!


Monday, October 24, 2005

New Hampshire Halloween

Blue Torsos

I dried my tears, I slipped the vinyl records back in their respective sleeves, I put the gun away and we're back to business as usual, the business of having fun like misguided teenagers that is. I'm heading to New Hampshire for the Halloween weekend, feel free to join us at the Nashua Holiday Inn, as we celebrate yet another geek festival, this one will be a cozy, family oriented comic book convention, bring your weapon.. and of course, beer.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Kyle Baker Interview

Draw! Magazine will hit the stores this coming Wednesday, I still haven't seen it and I can't wait to read the Kyle Baker interview, he's one of my favorite cartoonists. If you pick it up before i get my complimentary copies, let me know what you think of it.


First Love Blues

Puppy Love

While compiling last week's i-Pod playlist, I came across a tune I hadn't heard in years, a few bars into the song I felt a quivering but familiar rush, suddenly I was transported to the past, you know, like when you can smell the same smells and feel the same pains sort of thing, remembering that era like something that happened a long, long time ago, as opposed to remembering "like it was yesterday". Time has a peculiar knack for covering old pictures with a heavy coat of bittersweet varnish, sometimes I think it's my brain attempting to re-write history, to re-create a more nostalgic, fonder memory, a more idyllic snapshot of an inconsequential situation. This time however, my recollection was true and dead-on accurate, it really was a blissful time.

By my 13th birthday, my mom had ordered me to attend a strict naval academy (there are a few of these military style high schools where I grew up, they are all ran by retired navy officers) due to my poor academic performance and lack of discipline at a very expensive, and very private catholic school the previous year.

I had just finished my first year at my new school in good standing and my mom was extremely happy with my grades, I had aced every subject (easy for me, I flunked the year before so I was repeating the grade) as it was, my vacation that year was the best I'd had in many moons; I had had a great time at the academy because every other parent with a "problem child" thought the same way as my mother did, they figured "the military discipline might just make a man out of my son", I often joke about "La Isla de los hombres solos", as this place was aptly nicknamed, because of its isolation from civilization and its lack of female population, the military promised to "make a man out of you" while the inmates wanted to "make a woman out of you". For 3 years I shared classrooms and adventures with the most corrupted and damaged kids in the city, it was a very crazy, fun-filled freshman year, so much for my mom's plans to reform me into a model citizen.

Now, free from school dictators and strict rules, I was making the best of my summer vacation, (actually, winter vacation down in Guayaquil, where the school year begins in May and ends in January), I woke up early each day and stayed up real late, roaming the streets from dawn to dusk, my pals and I put a street soccer team together and traveled to distant neighborhoods in search of a pick up game; we would challenge any group of kids we would encounter walking down Quito avenue. "La Avenida Quito" stretched the length of the entire city, Starting at the cemetery and running from north to south to the piers, we always traveled south towards the maritime port with an old soccer ball, like a horde of vagrants, which we were. Sometimes we would win and sometimes our asses were kicked beyond recognition, but it was all lots of fun.

We found our match in a team just like ours -hyperactive, scrawny kids with little or no parental supervision- in a neighborhood 40 minutes (walking distance) from where we used to live, those kids and us had lots in common so we became best of friends and since I also knew some of those guys from the academy, that was the place we visited the most.

Everyday for the next 3 months of winter vacation we made the pilgrimage from our neighborhood to theirs. That's were I met Monica, we were both 14 at the time, I was riding a friend's bicycle around the newly built complex where she lived, these were very modern 5 story apartment buildings surrounded by manicured lawns, walking and bicycle paths and other urban niceties such as neat playgrounds and plenty of well-lit parking lots (soccer fields to us), where we could play well into the night without worrying about vehicular traffic, quite a departure from our meager surroundings. Back in my neighborhood we played the dangerous game of street soccer "a todo rigor" (everything goes), I remember the captains of the teams flipping a coin to determine whether we would play "con carro" or "sin carro"; the "sin carro" option would mean we would stop play if a vehicle was approaching, a goal scored under this rule would not be valid, I need not tell you what "con carro" meant. I only now realize how hazardous this practice was, back in the day we couldn't have cared less, in the U.S. concerned mothers want to implement helmets for soccer players in high school, that would make us look like Kamikaze pilots by comparison.

I saw this girl on her bike pedaling awkwardly, she almost fell and got off her bike to fix the jammed chain, I walked up to her and offered my help; common sense tells us all, there is no such thing as love at first sight but I beg to differ, we gazed into each other's eyes and that was all it took, after I finished with the chain we both walked for a bit, we exchanged such pertinent info as our names, schools we attended and hobbies, we played the mandatory "how old do you think I am?" game and guessed each other's astrological signs and other silly, romantic stuff. I went home early that night and stared at the ceiling for hours, listening to the radio and thinking of her.

Soon afterwards I shunned my friends and the street soccer matches and befriended her younger brother to gain access to her house, her parents weren't that strict but she wasn't allowed much time outside. I did all kinds of crazy things to get to see my new found love every chance possible, I walked 40 minutes each way to meet her, everyday for the duration of my vacation in the most terrible weather conditions (in the coastal region of Ecuador, winter time is the tropical rainy season, El Niño was particularly violent that year) , I remember asking her to be my girlfriend while completely drenched and shivering from having walked in the torrential rain and 30 mile an hour winds for what it seemed like an hour, we spent the entire evening holding hands, listening to top 40 radio and watching the rain fall from under the safety of her building's "inside" balcony, my buddies in return taunted me and gave my girl hurtful nicknames in hopes that I would rejoin the gang, of course all that hurt me the most because I loved her but did nothing to discourage my affection, such was life at 14.

School started, vacation was gone and with it, went my first true love, my first official girlfriend slowly vanished from my life and eventually from my memory. School and geography conspired to hinder our puppy love, it became increasingly difficult for me to see her, once back in the academy. At one point during the summer, her sister gave me a book to use as reference for a drawing she wanted me to do for her, carelessly I left the book unattended around the house and it got damaged beyond repair, I felt so bad for having ruined it and offered all kinds of excuses to stall while I tried to find a way to replace the book, that of course, never happened, remorseful weekend visits became monthly visits, our encounters more and more sporadic until they stopped altogether. My life took a different turn and my romantic interests found a new home in my old neighborhood. The passage of time didn't turn a mundane occurrence into a fantastic tale of young love, quite the contrary, all these years since I last saw Monica, my mind downplayed the significance of a truly bucolic and unspoiled romance.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Pihsrow Lived!


The End Is Near, Dear
Don't look now, but
there's a deer
'round your rear, but
Have no fear,
Babyman™ is here!
. . . ain't it clear?

-Norman Lear

This year is coming to an end, sadly, so is the comic convention season, at least for me.

The 2005 Alberto's "13-City Babyman's Cooler Tour" would have pillaged and raped at least 13 american cities before taking a well deserved 2 month hiatus. New Hampshire's Nashua ComiCon (October 29th & 30th) and The Texas Wizard World Show, in beautiful Arlington (November 4th-6th) will be the last 2 scheduled concerts.

The Nashua show seems very promising, for one, the spectacle of the foliage at this time of year in the New England area is just awe-inspiring and as sure as the babymen's shorts turning from GreenLantern™-green to UPS-brown, you can bet your action-figure collection, there will be drinking, lewd and obnoxious behavior and fat guys in red & blue tights.

It will be my first time in Texas and I am so looking forward to a fun time, gorgeous Texanas and great food in the land of ten-gallon hats and bow legged cowpeople. . . and.. oh, yeah!...the comic book convention thingy as well. :)


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Red Sheep Nation Retardation

Just got back from Boston on Monday night, if you haven't visited Beantown I strongly suggest you do so soon, this is a gorgeous city, I mean, the downtown area and the "blue blood" streets, because that's pretty much what I saw. Great architecture, incredible food; it has everything one would want in a major city, plenty of historical places to visit, as well as museums and other types of recreation.

Wizard World Boston was OK, the place is certainly small but a lot of people showed up, I had a great time hanging with my friends from the Drawing Board. Mike Feeny was kind enough to bring a Corona bottle and a bag of Tostitos with a hint of lime. Thanks Mikey!!

Saturday was the busiest day, I think the baseball games might have influenced the poor turnout on Sunday, scheduling the Con directly against Red Sox vs. Yankees was a big mistake in my opinion. The place reminded me a bit of both, Baltmore and Philly; quite frankly, once you've seen one convention, you've seen them all, I felt I was trapped in "groundhog day", deja-vu all over again, it was a lot of fun, though.

On Friday night, after Wizard World, my compadres and your narrator took the Boston subway from the Bayside Convention Center in Columbia Heights near U-Mass, a few stops into the heart of the city, security was tight as the Yankees were in town for the 3 most crucial games of the entire season, Bostonians are very passionate about the Red Sox (their local baseball team) everyone seemed to be wearing Red Sox licensed apparel, the Boston police was everywhere, it reminded me a lot, of the times when Bush decides to visit New York City, there were more cops than civilians, the traffic was a mess, all in all, a surreal scene to say the least.

Before I boarded the subway train, my friend Wes warned me about the "Red Sox Nation", (the name the media has given the Boston fans), he said, something to the effect of "Don't mention the Yankees in public unless you're looking for a severe beating".

The subway is a real treat, very cute trains resembling old trolleys, clean cars and stations (at least cleaner than the NYC MTA's trains) Once inside the train I realized what Wes meant, my friend Kano and I started joking about the Yankees and the Sox and everytime I uttered the words "New York" everyone within the sound of my voice turned and gave me the dirtiest looks imaginable.

I couldn't believe it! the words "New York" sending otherwise ordinary, law abiding citizens, into a frenzy. Relax Yo! it's only a motherfuckin' game!.

I don't know whose bright idea was to put a baseball stadium in the middle of downtown Boston, or maybe it wasn't downtown, but it sure felt like it. The hordes of sports fanatics swarmed the Fenway area like a locust plague.
We were just looking for a place to eat and got caught in the madness that is Yankees vs. Red Sox, quite possibly the most bitter rivalry in american professional sports, dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century or longer.

The Boston fans are vehement, devoted, passionate and irrational, I can only compare them to third world soccer fanatics. All common sense and logic has been surrendered to a bunch of millionaire troglodytes tossing a stupid ball back and forth. Back at the hotel on Saturday (the day the Red Sox lost 8-4) I turned on the TV to check the final score and even the local broadcasters had gone nuts, apparently the Yankees had won the division title but there were no pictures of them celebrating, at all. I had to switch to a national cable sports show to find out what was really going on, not that I care that much anyway, I just wanted to know why the mood was so somber. On Sunday, the Sox won the last game and made the play-offs, of course everyone was in a better mood. Channel surfing the following night, every other TV program was about the Red Sox, there was even a show called "Red Sox Nation Experience" or something similar, the premise was so lame, I had to watch: Fans of the ballclub, telling their own "unique Sox sightings and stories of how their lives changed (for the better) while rooting for this team, never have I watched such load of crap in my entire life, only Geraldo Rivera's opening Al Capone's Vaults was worst, but not by much.

A great chunk of the show was devoted to some jerk-off fanatic recounting the story of how he (while working at the airport) met Manny Ramirez (a great player but lousy human being), it turns out Manny needed to bolt right out of the airport and didn't want to wait for his limo so he asked this idiot to give him a ride to the hotel or something, " I couldn't believe it!! Manny was sitting right here, in my vehicle!!" " He farted on my leather seats and vomitted all over my floor mat, incredible!!!, I'll never wash this car again"

I always say the masses are stupid and have an overwhelming desire to worship the superficial, and here's more proof. The majority of Red Sox fans are so retarded, it's not even funny, Wes was right, these people love this team more than they love themselves, Kano and I clapped when the Yankees scored a run, inside Vinnie T's (a great italian restaurant ) the place, which was packed to capacity, went numb, a scary long silence took over. If looks could kill...!

Well, that's my report from Boston, back to you, Sue.