Thursday, February 26, 2009

Adaptation and the Laughing Fish


Actually it's been some time since I've done an adaptation lesson with my class. But my Thursday Create Your Own Superhero class has been so great I have decided to do a lesson like this tonight.

The idea is I'm going to show them the episode The Laughing Fish from Batman: The Animated Series as well as give them a copy of the original comic book story for them to look at and read along to see how the they adapted that particular story to fit in to the continuity of the animated Batman.

I nearly never missed an episode of that series when I would come home from school. It was vastly superior to the Spider-Man and X-Men cartoons that happened to be out around the same time.

But the animation was very hit and miss in the Batman series depending on who was directing it. But The Laughing Fish was definitely one of my favorite episodes and probably the best example how an adaptation can actually be more successful than the original story. Mostly because of the addition of Harley Quinn into the story and the elimination of a lot of the subplots of the original tale while keeping the scenes that were actually really great. Like the cat who was infected by the Joker's serum.

What I liked about the series was the fact that while it was heavily influenced by the Tim Burton films out at the time, it also brought in elements of the Batman comic books with the rogue gallery, Robin and Bat-Girl. But did both Robin and Bat-Girl in a way that wasn't corny.

And at least as far as the realms of animated cartoons go, Mark Hamill is still my favorite actor to play the Joker.

He really did a terrific job reinventing himself as a voice actor. AND being successful at it.

After they finish watching the episode, what they are going to do is be given another Batman comic book story which they have to create a character design for Batman and create a storyboard adapting the story into an animated series format.

I have a story Featuring the Penguin called I think The Love Bird which was penciled by one of my favorite Batman artists Norm Breyfogle. But I always liked his slightly sketchy style and the expressions he gave Batman. That and I did like his redesigned futuristic Batmobile.

But I would definitely like to start doing this type of lesson with my classes more often.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Spaghetti Strand Murder on E-Bay!!

Yet another chance for you to win a copy of my latest book The Spaghetti Strand Murder. The winning bidder will have the book personally signed to them by me with a personal message AND receive some free artwork as well. Click on the cover below to start bidding today:

Monday, February 23, 2009

I AM officially fed up with Winter!!


Actually, I was officially fed up with Winter in September.

Okay, I like New England. Mostly because it is so green in the Spring and the Summertime!! The only problem with New England is the Winter!! It is as miserable as a motorist during the 5pm commute on the Mass Pike!! And that includes me.

Okay, so it might not be as bad as Buffalo New York per say. But it's pretty dogone close!!

A lot of people I've talked with have felt about the same as I do. I think this Winter has probably been the worst I can remember. I think it's more than just being whacked with that hellacious ice storm that a great many people lost power for a good week. And just when you think you can breath a little while from the last snow storm we're hit with another one.

Thankfully last night wasn't nearly as bad as people thought it would be. But just the sight of snow falling just makes my skin crawl.

There's nothing pretty about it because I know I will have to shovel it in the morning.

But I think the whole world and economic climate hasn't helped people's mood either with losing jobs or getting your paycheck cut or businesses losing customers. It's not fun right now and this weather just brings the ole mood down.

I think it's bad enough people are having a tough time making ends meet but knowing they may miss a day of work because they're snowed in is frustrating. Not to mention that the days are shorter so we're all Jonesin' because of lack of sunlight.

Getting through January/Febrary is a tough stretch. And so is the countdown to March 20th and the first day of Spring. You know the end is in sight and we've nearly kicked that bastard named Old Man Winter in the teeth. But getting there can be equally as tedious and frustrating as getting through the highest part of Winter.

I thought I was starting to come down with something yesterday but I think it's just stress, frustration and loneliness.

But hang in there folks. We're nearly there now. And I keep telling myself that every day.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Alice Faulkner promo



I finally took some time to design a promo for my upcoming Sherlock Holmes graphic novel. I plan on passing them out at both Comic Con as well as printing some off to put in the stores sometime soon.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Aw phooey!!


Well, due to some scheduling screw up today didn't end up being my very first computer class. So, I'm going to have to wait till the Spring Sessions for my very first class.

I was disappointed because I was really looking forward to teaching my first computer class.

It's fine because today ended up being probably my best day of February Fun Week. 11 to 13 year olds for the most part are great. I've had a few exceptions but for the most part the 11 to 13 year olds and the 14 to 16 year olds are the easiest to work with. 8 to 10 can be a mixed bag. I've had some really fantastic 8 to 10 year old classes much like my current Thursday session.

And then I've had ones that was like Romper Room. That is if Romper Room was hosted by Satan.

But it was really nice to close out the week on a really positive note. It's also made me consider starting to do the Animation Classes along with Andy, Jamie and Brian who are currently teaching the classes. What I want to do is drawn animation with the web cams they have set up at the Museum. I'm going to start talking with the Museum about doing some drawn animation classes in the Fall.

So, stay tuned!!

My very first computer class!!


Well, today I'm embarking on a new chapter in my six years at WAM (correct, I've been at WAM now for six years now). I will be teaching my first computer class this afternoon. Poster Power.

Kind of an lackluster beginning but whatever. It almost didn't come to pass because most of the computer classes were cancelled this week. Yesterday would have actually been the landmark day but to be honest with you I didn't think the class would go through because how many 14 to 16 year olds do you know that have any interest in Poster Power or going green?

I certainly didn't.

I probably would have done this six years or even a year ago because of lack of confidence. But working with Photoshop on more of a regular basis and having some very knowledgeable friends when it comes to Photoshop has helped me in my own continuing education.

Some of the stuff I kind of wish I either learned or listened to in college. Especially things like creating speech balloons which I'm actually finding myself enjoying more and more.

After this, I will actually be doing my first full fledged Computer Comics class in the Spring. I'm really excited about that. Even though they DO have Comic Life at the Museum, I will give them a small demonstration how to create a speech balloon on their own. But it is nice to have that option where they can create a comic using a program.

But I will be certain to all how it goes. But after yesterdays Chaos and Creation Class (i.e. Poster Power for 5 to 7 year olds), I'm actually looking forward to today's class.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Boston Comic Con


Well, I'm all set to do Boston Comic Con once again!! Mark it down on your calendar somewhere, it will all be taking place:

Saturday and Sunday April 4-5 | 10am-5pm | Back Bay Events Center | 180 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA | $10

I would love to be able to do both day but unfortunately with work on Saturdays I'll only be able to do a Sunday show this year. Maybe next year.

Click on the image above to check out their website for this year's guest as well as other contact information and directions to the Back Bay Center.

Feb (not entirely) Fun Week

Yesterday wasn't bad. Today was abysmal. But honestly, I'm comparing apples and oranges because yesterday I was working with 8 to 10 year olds and today was 5 to 7 year olds.

I had two kids start crying and one kid was an insufferable obnoxious brat the whole time who just wanted to screw around and pretty much be the center of attention. So, I just gave him some paint so he can pretty much vomit on the poster board with it.
What always gets me about these weeks is the parents who get pissed off over the fact that the kid either didn't do any work or the fact after two or three hours didn't come out with a finished piece. Honestly!! Give me a freakin' break!! You paid $20 for this class!! $20!!!!

And a lot of these times the reason the kid gets frustrated and cries is because the parent has put so much pressure on the poor kid that he or she is a complete basket case by the time I take them into the studio because they think I'm going to start acting like the school master from Pink Floyd the Wall because they can't draw or are having a tough time thinking about something.

Really people!! STOP IT!! This class was meant to be a fun activity for the kids to do. But at least I won't have to pay your child's psychiatric bills later in life because you've given them such an inferiority complex just because they didn't draw something Museum quality in a class called POSTER POWER!! And oh by the way!! THEY'RE 5 TO 7 YEARS OLD!!!!!!!!!

It is NOT fun for me have to play Dr. Phil because you have put such high expectations on your poor kid!! Did I mention that you paid $20!!!

$20 is a drop in the ocean.

Thankfully, I've learned to escape relatively undetected and avoid any nasty confrontations with any potentially angry parents.

I was definitely kind of glad my second class was cancelled. Although it was with older students. Unfortunately, even though it was for computer I had my doubts going into the session that 14 to 17 year olds would have any interest in Poster Power. Perhaps if they had added elements of comic art into the class. But I feel the whole concept probably wasn't going to draw any teenagers into the class. Oh well.

Well, one more day to go. Thankfully, this time it is with older students.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sherlock Holmes on the auction block

To promote my book Sherlock Holmes and the Painful Predicament of Alice Faulkner I have some new artwork available for bidding on E-Bay.

Sherlock Holmes and Alice Faulkner

Sherlock Holmes and the Second Stain

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson

And be sure to click on the link below to check out my other auctions. You never know. You might find something you were always looking for in there:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Off to Xeric


Well for the past month or so I've been preparing to submit Sherlock Holmes and the Painful Predicament of Alice Faulkner to the Xeric Foundation to be considered for a grant.

I had learned about Xeric from my buddy, Art Museum cohort and Undercoverfish chairman of the board Andy Fish from his blog. I was intrigued and thought perhaps it would time to take a risk on something like that. I've been very happy with my association with both UCF and Alterna Comics. So, it's nothing to do with being disgruntled. But I had not really taken a chance and possibly taking advantage of what Xeric has to offer with funding my book.

I suppose if the truth is to be told, I had been licking my wounds after Diary of the Black Widow was rejected by Fantagraphics. But that was four or five years ago now and apart from doing short stories with UCF, I did not have a graphic novel published. To be completely honest, as much as I would have like to make like things like that didn't phase me back then, being that I was still struggling to be recognized it did hurt me a lot more than I would have wanted to admit to myself.

But not nearly as bad as it did when I first started sending my work out back in 1999. I was frustrated back then because I didn't really have a direction for my work or a style I was really happy with. And I turned my back on comic art for the longest time until I was invited by Andy to be a part of his group. From there, I started appreciating comic art and being part of a diverse group of artists that not only supports you but tries to build you up and push you to do more with your work.

It's been four years and four (going on six) books since that rejection. It's been a great deal of fun being on the ground floor of a new company with Alterna that is putting out some quality books as well as continuing to be a part of UCF and being associated with such a talented group of artists that I am very happy to call my friends.

But I have not taken a risk like Xeric before. Honestly, I can't say I'm too worried. I did all I could with the submission and now that it is in the mail it is out of my hands.

If I get the grant, that would be great!! I will be doing the Charleston on a flagpole.

Well, maybe not. I will be thrilled nonetheless.

The fact of the matter is if I don't try I know I'll regret it. The worst that will happen is I wasted $60 in making copies and another $10 in shipping it off to Xeric. I have a drawer full of rejections which I plan on either wallpapering my room or making a quilt out of someday.

But despite anything that happens, I'm happy I took a chance.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Writers and artists you should know. And the books you SHOULD own!!

Consider this your WINTER reading list ;-)

I very privileged to some very talented friends who are probably some of the best writers and artists I know. And here's a short list of their books. Click on the selected cover images to either order a copy or check out their website:

The Tragic Tale of Turkey Boy; An American Love Story
by Andy Fish
In this black comedy, mayhem, madness, and murder combine when the American public, the world, and specifically one devoted fan must come to grips with the death of the iconic star of stage, screen and product endorsements, Turkey Boy. Yes, Turkey Boy had it all, but was his life idealistic as it seemed, and just what drives some fans to go to the extreme? Selected as a CERTIFIED COOL pick in Diamond Comics PREVIEWS catalog for April 2008

FLY; A True Story Completely Made Up
by Andy Fish
Francis Woombler has a dream to fly like a bird. All his life he's felt small and insignificant, which has earned him the nickname FLY. This is the story of his epic journey to conquer flight.

Mayor Maynot And The Missing Speech
by Rori Shapiro
Subject: JUVENILE FICTION / General
Reading Level: 7 - 9
Age Level: 6 - 9
Mayor Maynot has a problem. A big one. He’s lost his speech for Opening Day. Can the baseball game go on without the mayor’s speech? Will he find it in time?

Will Shades Mc Bug, Insectropolis’ resident private eye, be able to help?

Join Mayor Maynot as he learns a valuable lesson about procrastinating And taking care of your belongings.


SOMETHING TO DO WITH VULNERABILITY
by Joshua Michael Stewart
The latest collection of poem from Joshua Michael Stewart deals with one of the most difficult parts of life, the lose of a loved one. What keeps the 37 pages of this collection fresh and interesting are the various perspectives that Stewart is able to focus on. He speaks from the vantage point of a brothers, a son, a spouse, and in one of the most pointed moments, a child. It's a book of memories, and all of the tangible ways our loved ones return in moments of stillness. It is a rummage through the closet, and it has much more than just something to do with vulnerability.

Vintage Gray
By Joshua Michael Stewart
Pudding House Publications
ISBN Number: 159984919

Target Metropolis
by Jamie Buckmaster
JJB Buckmaster also has a previous book at That's Entertainment in Worcester in the Local Homies section. It's the one which features a very EC Comics looking cover that says "Kill Your Brother". Get a copy by either stopping by T.E. or by e-mailing the Buckmaster personally.

DETOUR 12 Friends and Monsters
by UCF Group
The latest issue from the Under Cover Fish Group of artists-- including Derek Ring, Andy Fish, Jim Riel, Jamie Buckmaster, Veronica Hebard, Barbrara Kimball, Sarah Jeppson, Alison Cowell, Brian McKeon, Mike Briggs, Christopher Whitehead and Randy LeSage. Cover by Allison "Bamcat" Bamford

One more opportunity to bid!!

Available for bidding one more time!! Diary of the Black Widow and it's sequel The Spaghetti Strand Murder. The winning bidder will receive both books signed personally to them as well as some Black Widow artwork.

Diary of the Black Widow
Written and Illustrated by BRET M. HERHOLZ cover coloring by RORI SHAPIRO lettering by JOHN SHAVER

A young woman with a habit of seducing and killing men attracts the attention of an oblivious Detective and his helper. Will they solve the mystery behind these murders, or will the Black Widow strike again? Combining the illustrative style of Edward Gorey and the humor of Monty Python, Bret M. Herholz crafts a tale of mystery, humor, and suspense.

The Spaghetti Strand Murder
Written and Illustrated by BRET M. HERHOLZ

Lord Algernon Sloughshire has been found dead! The only clue to what caused the murder was a single strand of spaghetti found tied around his lordship's neck. Luckily there's only one person oblivious enough to "solve" this case, none other than the DETECTIVE INSPECTOR!

Click on the link below to place your bid today:

Saturday, February 14, 2009

St. Valentine

Hallmark REALLY missed the boat on this one. Wouldn't it be so much better to get a card of a martyred saint on Valentines Day?

Saint Valentine (in Latin, Valentinus) is the name of several martyred saints of ancient Rome. The name "Valentine", derived from valens (worthy), was popular in late antiquity.[2] Of the Saint Valentine whose feast is on February 14, nothing is known except his name and that he was buried at the Via Flaminia north of Rome on February 14. It is even uncertain whether the feast of that day celebrates only one saint or more saints of the same name. For this reason this liturgical commemoration was not kept in the Catholic calendar of saints for universal liturgical veneration as revised in 1969. But "Martyr Valentinus the Presbyter and those with him at Rome" remains in the list of saints proposed for veneration by all Catholics.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Saint Valentine the Presbyter, is celebrated on July 6, and Hieromartyr Saint Valentine (Bishop of Interamna, Terni in Italy) is celebrated on July 30.

The name "Valentine" does not occur in the earliest list of Roman martyrs, compiled by the Chronographer of 354. The feast of St. Valentine was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who included Valentine among those "... whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God." As Gelasius implied, nothing was known, even then, about the lives of any of these martyrs. The Saint Valentine that appears in various martyrologies in connection with February 14 is described either as:

A priest in Rome
A bishop of Interamna (modern Terni)
A martyr in the Roman province of Africa.
The first representation of Saint Valentine appeared in the Nuremberg Chronicle, (1493); alongside the woodcut portrait of Valentine the text states that he was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius II, known as Claudius Gothicus. He was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner -- until Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor -- whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that didn't finish him, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate. Various dates are given for the martyrdom or martyrdoms: 269, 270, or 273.

The official Roman Martyrology for February 14 mentions only one Saint Valentine.

English eighteenth-century antiquarians Alban Butler and Francis Douce, noting the obscurity of Saint Valentine's identity, suggested that Valentine's Day was created as an attempt to supersede the pagan holiday of Lupercalia. This idea has lately been contested by Professor Jack Oruch of the University of Kansas. Many of the current legends that characterise Saint Valentine were invented in the fourteenth century in England, notably by Geoffrey Chaucer and his circle, when the feast day of February 14 first became associated with romantic love.

While a website of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and other sources give different lists of Saint Valentines, the Catholic Church's official list of recognized saints, the Roman Martyrology lists seven: a martyr (Roman priest or Terni bishop?) buried on the Via Flaminia (February 14); a priest from Viterbo (November 3); a bishop from Raetia who died in about 450 (January 7); a fifth-century priest and hermit (July 4); a Spanish hermit who died in about 715 (October 25); Valentine Berrio Ochoa, martyred in 1861 (November 24); and Valentine Jaunzarás Gómez, martyred in 1936.

33

A man told me to beware of 33. He said, "It was not an easy time for me". But I'll get through even though. I've got no miracles to show you.

I think I first heard those lyrics when I was 23. They were from a song by Pulp called Dishes off their This Is Hardcore album. I loved that line from the song and I am not Jesus though I have the same initials. The lead singer's name is Jarvis Cocker. Heh!!

I've never really made a big to do out of my Birthday really. Which I suppose is ironic I'm sitting here writing a blog about it. But that's only because I've been up since 5:30am because for some reason or another I cannot sleep this morning.

And how will I be spending the first day of officially being 33? I'll be ankle deep in eight to ten year olds and tempera paint. It's kind of weird because I think it's the first Birthday in a while where I've had to go into work. Much like jury duty, I don't know how I managed it for so long where my B-Day fell on a day off. But like jury duty, it had to hit me sooner or later.

But at least it's a job where I'm not getting harrassed my vicious old ladies in the Paper Goods and Chemicals aisle at Wal-Mart anymore. Or being threatened with physical violence just because I am not allowed to let you buy the books with all the credit you accumulated just because it's the bookstore policy.

Well, there's something to be happy about ;-)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Alice Faulkner is DONE!!


Apart from editing, proofreading and some general tidying up I have officially finished lettering Sherlock Holmes and the Painful Predicament of Alice Faulkner at around 2pm this afternoon!!

I started penciling and inking the project in May of last year (after several false starts for the past four of five years previous) and now it's done!!

I may spend a little bit of time working on a few new E-Bay illustration in the next couple of weeks and then hit the books again. Well, graphic novels.

The next book I'm continuing working on is going to be a collection of sequential poems by Joshua Michael Stewart. I am also thinking about doing a murder mystery based in the Quabbin Reservoir. Well, it won't be in the reservoir. But you'll just have to wait and see good readers.

And who knows. There might be a Detective Inspector story somewhere in the mix. One can never tell.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Russellscape

I was invited by mystery author Laurie R. King to create some original artwork for a tryptic called Russellscape. A celebration of 15 years since her first book in the Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell series The Beekeepers Apprentice came out.

I had decided to do the point which Holmes and Russell first run into each other in Sussex. The scene is when Holmes mistakes the 15 year old Mary Russell for a young boy and she pulls off her cap to reveal her long blonde tresses.

If you would like to check out the other artists in Russellscape, click on the image below and scroll down to the bottom of Laurie's website:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

More pages from Alice Faulkner

I've been working like mad the past week or so lettering pages for Sherlock Holmes and the Painful Predicament of Alice Faulkner. Here are a few selected pages. So far, I've got 42 out of the 106 pages letter thus far. So, I still have miles to go as far as that is concerned. But I've been able to get a lot of the other stuff out of the way like the title and credit pages as well as a few of the DVD Extras at the end of the book ready as well.