Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Montaigne: The Original Middle Aged Man

I'm trying to get a handle on drawing Renaissance-style ruffled collars (or "ruffs") because the Arms and Ether character, Ginger Childe, sports one. The "go-to-guy" for ruffled collars is, for my money, Michel de Montaigne. Here are my deep insights into "The Seigneur."

1. Montaigne was a sweet-assed bald man. That's the way you rock middle age, baby. Grow the 'stache, hole-up in your castle-shack and start discoursin' on whatever suits your eclectic fancy.

2. The pants-less lifestyle is a central theme of the first five Arms and Ether strips. I just realized that Montaigne, actually discusses the pants-less lifestyle in his On Cannibalism. "All this is not too bad -- but what's the use? They don't wear breeches."

3. I can say I'm a sharper fellow for having taken Claude Rawson's, Literature and Cultural Reticence: The Cannibal Theme, as a young English major. Now back to drawing that damned collar.

4. Literature and Cultural Reticence: The Cannibal Theme was my second favorite course title, topped only by Black Women and Their Fictions.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wrasslin with Mortality

Watched The Wrestler last night. T'was entertaining. A nice comment on our Immortality Projects a la Ernest Becker and The Denial of Death. You know, the whole "human civilization is ultimately an elaborate, symbolic defense mechanism against the knowledge of our mortality" kind of thing. Julie and Sam are out of town, but I'm feeling too groggy to revel in my bachelor living or fully pursue my own futile immortality projects such as "spiritual practice," "art," "teaching," and "getting off my ass from eating chips and playing Wii to do something useful like cleaning up the damn house."

Monday, December 29, 2008


I forgot to post the last few days. I'm still working out Arms and Ether strips. Here's Herodotus to tide us over.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Crepuscular Color

Two nice flat color schemes that have been on my mind lately. The mind-numbingly talented Chris Ware (duh) and this Waiting For Godot cover that made me nostalgic for home during my freshman year. Anyhow, I was working on an evening scene for Arms and Ether, so I busted these for inspiration. I have to be careful, lest "inspiration" turn into "inferiority complex."

Friday, December 26, 2008

I Use Flash for Drawing (but apparently am in a l'il minority)

Yes, I use Flash for drawing still images--specifically, I'm using it to do the Arms and Ether comic. Apparently few others use Flash in this way, because Adobe's support for using Flash as a still-image illustration tool is pretty dang close to zero. This is sad because Flash is a splendid illustration/drawing tool in spite of itself, and it could have Ayurvedic healing properties if Adobe started to pay it some proper mind. There's nothing like it that I've seen for free-hand vector drawing. Here's a wish-list of features that Adobe will never add because I will never tell them, and even if I did, they wouldn't listen to me anyway.

1. Export layered .fla files to layered .psd files (with transparency!)
2. Thumbnail previews of .fla files in freaking Adobe Bridge. Maybe CS4 will do this? (har har)
3. Better support for high-res .png export. Flash tends to freak out when I export a complex hi-res file. I usually have to export pieces of it into Illustrator and reassemble it there.
4. A personal service robot that would leap out of the screen and cater to all of my physical and emotional needs.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Have a Beat Happening Christmas

lots of carbohydrates.
Had a perfectly nice christmas with the family. Yet, I still think of Beat Happening and their fabulous song, Christmas.

I didn't get no presents on Christmas
And I sure didn't get none today
Learned my lesson
Life is one long session of disappointment, heartache, pain


...and despair

Anyhow, since there's no video for their Christmas song, I have an excuse to embed Beat Happening's Indian Summer video. Oh my, how I love this @#$%ing song. Listen and yearn for warm breezes and the infinite time frame of long-gone youth.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rocketh and Rolleth Ye

Git yer bass out for the holidays--whatever your race, religion or creed!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Peace n' stuff

I hope y'are enjoying a low-stress holiday. It should be fun, people.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Yeah, okay, it's pretty much the best show ever

Whew. 5:20 p.m. and just finished the last episode of The Wire. I did a midnight-5:00 a.m. shift for the first 5 episodes and then started back in around 11:00 a.m. today. Dang. If all those police and criminals can stay out all night carrying on, then I should damn well be able to sit up on my couch with a half-rack of Coke and some Doritos, fool. As people with greater critical faculties will tell you, it's one of the best shows ever. If you don't believe me, check out Warren Hedges' Immanent Domain post on The Wire. I'd say, it's right up there with The Golden Girls, and Omar Little is the Wire's Estelle Getty.

Okay, that is a fair amount of television to put down in 17 hours, but you know that's how I do. So I think I'll stagger out of my room and try to talk to a person that's not on a screen.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let thar be Light n' such

Big Nick came o'er today and wired up the studio real good. It was swell to hammer stuff and eat cold day-old Taco Bell tacos with him. They go well with them Starbucks frappacinos. (You can get a 4 pack for 4.99 at Bi-Mart!) So now the studio has lots of sockets and some very Klass-E recessed halogen dimmers for the ceiling. I'll have romantic mood-lit dinners with myself out there. Yes.

Here is a hilarious muscle-y leg study I did as a warm up yesterday. Source was that kind of annoying but actually pretty useful book, Incredible Comics with Tom Nguyen.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Feelin' Better, Thank You

Got to bed at a reasonable hour last night, so I'm feeling better. Hoorah. Going to go to bed early again, I believe. Tomorrow it's Arsenal vs. Liverpool, so gots to get up for the 8:00 kick off. Okay, that was my best blog post ever.

Here's a page from the brilliant mind of Evan "Big Evan" Carroll. A concept drawing from our Happiness Hole project.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Savage Beat Down by Psycho-Physiology

Wow. Felt absolutely wretched today. Slept in, then passed out again for a 3 hour coma/nap. Still felt cruddy. Ooogh. I think I'm fighting off a cold or something. Yug. Looking forward to a complete slap-happy recovery tomorrow. Wargh.

Here's a page from Volo, a comic I did several years back. A close relative of Volo's named Hateball will be appearing in Arms and Ether. Who knows, Volo may show up too. I love you, Volo.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Generating Christmas

Here's this year's Christmas card to celebrate the economic downturn.

In other news, Sam rocked Walker School yesterday with a solo bass and vocal rendition of U2's Where the Streets Have No Name. Good God, try to listen to an 8 year old sing that and not burst into sobs. Go on, give it a go.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hey, It's David Michael Slater!

Like I said before, writers--they're a scary lot. Check out the work of David Michael Slater and behold his scary, disciplined, talented sort of resplendence. Boyfriend has done up several children's books and has a new teen (young adult?) novel, The Book of Nonsense, just out by Blooming Tree Press. He's had a freakishly prolific career all while holding down the fort as a Middle School English teacher up in Portland. Plus, he sports a wicked beard. . .

Going Green with Artists' Drugs

Here are the three primary drugs artists use to boost creativity: Absinthe, Mountain Dew, and Greedo. Which do you prefer? If I've had a week's worth of sleep and recently accomplished one of my life's primary goals, I can really enjoy alcohol (about once every 1-7 years?). Or, if I haven't eaten anything all day (once ever 1-3 years?). Other than that, I stick to caffeine and inhabitants of the original Mos Eisley cantina.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Robot Love: Charles Burns n' Scott Raedeke

If I ever get a tattoo, it will be on my face and it will be of this Charles Burns comic page from El Borbah's Hard Boiled Defective Stories. I read this when I was 22 or 23 and it changed my life. I mean, this thing electrified me. Reading this is what trying heroin for the first time must feel like. I was on the subway in New York, laughing to keep from crying. Damn. I could talk about this page for days, but I won't, because I need to get back to making my own second-rate stuff. BUT, If you or anyone you know might even vaguely appreciate Charles Burns, you should buy El Borbah for them immediately. They will love you forever.

I had a similar experience about 12 years ago picking up Chris Ware's Acme Novelty Library No. 7 for the first time. Good God. . . more on that later, I suppose.

And on the subject of Robot Love, check out the 8-bit Ghost's inspired Christmas Robot. That man is not right, but in all the proper ways.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Crappy Critters In The Snow

Another photographic Breugel hommage. Deep thoughts:
1. Visual energy gettin' channeled into Arms and Ether, hence decrease in drawings here. It's all for a good cause.

2. Low-cal breakthrough in Arms and Ether web design department last night. I might be on to something. Shudder. I get scared when I get that feeling. 'Cause it can often end in tears! (wink!) ;)
ah ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YIEEEE!!!!!!

3. Maybe this blog will serve as a display for showing the non-Martha Stewartness of my life. Behold our scraggly cat and dog, tarps, tennis rackets, plastic patio furniture, extension cords and Bi-Mart pillows strewn about the back yard. I guess I should take the hammock in about now too. . .

4. But it snowed yesterday. Snowed I tell you!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sam Inada 6000

Here's Sam's first draft of his font. Pretty cool, I think. I'll probably steal it for my own selfish purposes. Christy had a good post about how it's tricky to talk about your young'uns without sounding like the obnoxious freaky parent. I just like watching Sam roll. Keep it comin', Jr.

Also, respect to all of the true TYPOGRAPHERS keepin' it real out there. I am not one of your ilk. I do appreciate your freakiness, though. Kern on, you weirdos.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Miles Inada 3000

Crotchety and ticked off now that it's 11:20 p.m. Grrr. Productive day, swell day, but I noticed I was tired and aggravated by 9:00 p.m. I'm feeling driven to get some groove on with Arms and Ether, and the groove had not fully materialised. Hence crankiness. So I put in a few more hours and feel a bit better about my work. Unfortunately, staying up = increased cranky, so . . . we'll see how it all shakes down.

I did finish up my hand-lettering font, though. Behold, "Miles Inada 3000." Named in honor of all shady products that have ever added a number to their title in hopes of improving its appeal. Also named in honor of all great comedy titles that have mocked this convention over the past quarter century or so. See Mystery Science Theater 3000; Pimpbot 5000; and Look Around You's, Music 2000. I've declared the first version of Miles Inada 3000 as "good enough for government work." In other words, I'll need to see it in action before I'll go back and make further changes on it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's Okay, I hate Macs as well as Windows

Had the privilege of paying $100 for a new laptop power cord for my Macbook Pro yesterday after my original one decided to just melt down. This cartoon by excellent internet/business card cartoonist, Hugh McLeod came quickly to mind. Check out his work. I like.

Help! Has anyone heard of a "GIF" file????

I encountered this crazy new file format called ".gif" today. I've never seen it before, and Windows Vista doesn't know what to do with it. Maybe I need to visit the "Windows Marketplace" or the "LView Pro" website that they recommend?

Hmmm, apparently some company has a product called Internet Explorer that can handle this exotic file format. I'll have to track that program down. Maybe the people that make Windows Vista could create a synergistic partnership with the makers of Internet Explorer so the programs could work together to recognize this cutting-edge ".gif" technology. The future holds many wonders in store!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vita Contemplativa

I've been helping Debi Blair and Morgan Cottle's 3rd and 5th grade classes put together a video project commemorating the 100th anniversary of Lithia Park. Martha Wilhelm, another volunteer (and recently retired teacher) took this picture while we were listening to playback during an audio recording session. Man, these kids are talented--it's always humbling working with young 'uns. I challenge you not to break down weeping when listening to 8-year-olds read their own haikus.
Also, elementary school teachers = respect in my book. Those are some hard-working, committed citizens, dang-nabbit. Ashland has some serious quality in the public school system.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christy Raedeke, Young Adult

Writer's are an odd lot. The creepy thing about writing is you can't really see what it's about from a distance. You see the visual arts and you hear music. They make an immediate impact. But writing. . . writing's . . . different. Is this writer the next James Joyce or that freaky guy at the coffee shop who talks to himself? (yeah, yeah, they might be one and the same, but humor me). So, to save you some time shuffling through crappy writers, here's Christy Raedeke--a good writer.

Christy's"YA" book (Young Adult in "the biz") is being published by Flux in 2010. It be all titled, Prophecy of Days, and it's chock-full of Mayans, super intelligent monkeys, and, well a freaking PROPHECY OF DAYS. What else do you need? In the meantime, check out her blog--Juvenescence. Hilarious stuff about working at Victoria's Secret in the 80's, keyword profiling, internet stalking, cenotes and the like. Anyone who uses "stygian darkness" in a blog heading ought well to have you from hello.

p.s. the above image is Christy as an actual Young Adult (alongside That Special Someone)

p.p.s. I was at this same prom with my wife -to-be. She dumped me that night (Prom sucks, people).

p.p.p.s. Christy posted this prom image on her blog. She's also got pygmy tarsiers on there. Go check it out.

argh Paul Benedict

Dang. Now Paul Benedict who brought us both the Mad Painter from Sesame Street and Bentley from The Jeffersons has died. Grrrrrr. Damn cold, stupid universe.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Terry Longshore, folks

If I ever start getting cynical about ye olde Higher Ed, I shamble over to the Music Department and get a load of what they're up to. Musicians are hard-core in their commitment to their calling, and there's just no place to hide when you're shakin' it up on stage. I like that. I wish we visual artists had more of that immediacy to keep us honest. So check out S.O.U. Percussion Professor Terry Longshore's site and get inspired. I'm looking forward to collaborating with Terry on an (as yet unnamed) animation project. Stay tuned for the mesmerizing details.

Web Design-Nein!

When I use the web, I feel like, "I know where I'm going, so get the @#$% out of my way." I'll respect that attitude for the Arms and Ether site. I'll let the art be complicated.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cintiq, I Love You

Wow. I wasn't expecting to fall so head over heels for the Cintiq. I still haven't calibrated or customized anything, and I love it. J'aime bien le Cintiq. Sam digs it too. He added the self-portrait with fat lip. I'll write up a full review when I'm damn good and ready, but not one moment before.

I'm Not Waiting on a Lady

I'm just waiting on Le Cintiq. Now, perhaps, I will bee able to draw en zee French Style like zee Arsene Wenger, non? Cintiq. For the love of god, what is going on with that name? Wacom, y'all are a Japanese company; let's see you represent! How about the Obake 6000 or something? And damn, if that Arsene Wenger isn't one stylish cat. Wow, the Cintiq just arrived as I'm typing this. Okay, if I can find the digital camera, maybe I'll do one of those goofy step by step reviews. Probably not though, I'm way to busy/lazy. Busazy? Yeah, busazy. Arsenal held off Wigan too. The booing Eboue thing was really weird though.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Day o' Infamy

Geekin' with the 8-bit Ghost down at school today. It's dark and cold. We're talking 'bout how to teach, learn, live, and by consequence, love. I'm getting some good ideas for teaching the Art 351 Interactive Studio class this winter. Also, some thoughts on how to "roll out" the Arms and Ether comic. Bully for us.
In a fatherly sphere, Sam and I went to throw a baseball around, and he ended up with the mother of all split lips. :( It did give me the opportunity to introduce him to the manly world of the laconic statement, however. Kirk Gibson's comment after getting smashed in the face by a fastball, "It's not something you'd hope for."
L'image above shows recent head studies of "Big Evan" Carroll I did while thinking about comic book character design.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Here's an early stab at the Miles Inada font done in Fontographer. Whoo hoo.
I haven't worked on the leading, kerning, tracking etc. yet. Thrillsville.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday down in flames

Sometimes you expect big things from a day and it doesn't deliver. I thought this would be a big day to get some Arms and Ether goin.' No such luck. Meetings. Yay. Grumble. I did eat a lot of pizza though. Ugh. For the love of . . . Here's some of what I'm cookin' up.
1) I want to sell shirts and books on the site. I'm looking at, but I think I'll also get the fine young men (Alex Falkenstein and Jess Gleasman) at basement-ink to do a run of higher quality screen print shirts as well.
2) Fontlab with Scanfont is looking good so far. I just need more TIME.
3) Arsenal's playing Wigan at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow. Don't think I'll be up for that one. Darn.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


More techno-babble. I ordered Fontlab for the lab today. I'm going to take a stab at making a font based on my "lettering." I figure even if I make a hash of it, it'll be nice for the students to give it a go. I've had some pretty studly students this quarter, so hopefully some of them will take up the challenge. Should be a cool tool for the motivated.
Well, I'm not on the picture-magic computer, so, uh here's a picture of my son with his young Beatles hair-do.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Frag It

Okay, my last post was so lame, I went ahead and ordered the damn Cintiq. It'll be here in a week or two, so I'll let "you" know how it goes. I don't have my drawings on this computer, so, uh. . . here's a picture of the studio I built this summer with help from the genius of Scott "8 Bit Ghost" Raedeke and Nick "24 Bit Color Depth Plus 8 Bit Alpha Channel" Oredson. I still haven't finished the interior, because I have a job and a family, etc. etc, but this picture makes me laugh. Lots of funny compositional angles along with that splendid dog and birds' nest. Kinda like a Breugel landscape.

Wacom Cintiq - To Buy of Not to Buy

Real tired-like. So I'll babble on about techno-crap.
I'm thinking about getting a Wacom Cintiq tablet. A Cintiq let's you draw directly on your screen (as opposed to the Wacom Intuos tablet which is more of a fancy pen-style mouse). As you can see from the picture above, I already work wonders with the Intuos. Imagine what I could accomplish with a Cintiq!
Here are the issues:
Le Cintiq is freaking expensive. As in, "Dang, dude, that is really expensive." The 21" Cintiq is $2000. $2000 is a lot of money. As in, "Dang, dude, that is a lot of money." The 12" Cintiq is $1000. This is still spendy, and most people say, "I love the 12," but if I had the money, I'd get the 21."
Buying hardware can be a big disappointment. You've probably been there. "Wow, this new Macintosh laptop allows me to open files and run programs. Unfortunately it has not made me more like Ghandi, Einstein, or the Dalai Lama. Hell, I'm not even more like John Lennon or Yoko Ono. Damn their sexy industrial design and black and white advertising campaign."

Some hardware purchases are good, however. I've liked my 22" Acer flat panel monitor, though a big part of its appeal is that it was only 230 bucks. No Apple Cinema displays for me. My Intuos tablet has been the most trustworthy piece of computer hardware I've owned--I've used mine for about 6 years now. It's outlived numerous computers, scanners and cameras, plus I use it every day. So, I think I'll stop annoying myself (and more importantly, you, dear reader) and just get the damn Cintiq.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Annoying day. Meetings and obligations from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Grrr. All for a good cause. Just not mine.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Lettering--sweet god, save me

Here's a stab at hand lettering--compare it with the image in the previous post. I did several versions of the text on bristol with a Hunt 102 nib, and some Micron pens. The version I used here was done with a .05 micron.

I had to make some of the balloons bigger and adjust some of my word spacing once I got it into the computer. Screen readability is much more of an issue with hand lettering. I do think I'm liking it better than the Digital Strip version.

Seeing as it is going to actually be a pain in the @#$% and probably double my production time to hand-letter, I think I'm going to have to make/commission a custom font based on my lettering. Only thing is, I think I'm going to need to hand letter quite a few strips first before I get a decent sample of my lettering to start creating a font with. Sigh.

T-Bag Special

Not that anyone's listening, but I'm going to commit to daily posting again as a "ramp-up" to "launching" the Arms and Ether web strip. Above is a panel from a 4-panel strip. Three issues:

1. Color.
Advantages: It's in color.
Disadvantages: Color is not essential to the story, it takes longer, and it could suck.
Right now, I'm leaning pretty heavily towards color. I think it looks better to indifferent strangers.

2. Periodicity. Daily, Weekly, Monthly, etc
Right now, I'm leaning towards "Quasi-Daily," though we'll see. I'm not going to launch until I've got 10-15 strips "in the can." After the launch, I'll then see how efficiently the reserve fills back up and adjust accordingly. If it doesn't fill back up, I'll just get into model trains or something.

3. Is this "it?"
Of course, it's stupid to predict what something will become. But my XXX fantasy is that this strip will be my primary creative focus--that I can channel my many-splendor'd djinn into this form. The hook is that this inter'web thing is tres flexible. I don't have to stick to the 4-panel structure (though I'm currently enjoying working with those creative limits). I could throw in animation or more elaborate drawing as the mood hits. It's "a whole new world" as the marvelous Disney people have told us.

We'll see. Like I said, model trains might be pretty cool. They are, actually.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Getting the Arms and Ether characters together. . . here's Herodotus. Funny that he doesn't know how to draw togas either.

Quelque Minions

Character studies for Arms and Ether

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

God help us all. It's

Yes, I finally got my URL act together. So type, or into your preferred web browser, and you will be magically transported here. The reason for all of this foolishness (and my web silence) is I'm gearing up for an internet invasion and an online Arms and Ether comic strip. Ultimately, those URLs will link to a new Arms and Ether "web site." More to come as things develop. I'm pretty manic depressive about the whole thing right now. It's great! It's horrible! Yes! No! etc. More as the creative cycle sputters on. Oops, time for a critique with "the kids."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jeff File for Animation Class-- lip synch with phonemes and flash symbols

Animation students, click here to download the Jeff.FLA file (if you dare). It's a 9 mb zip file, so it might take a bit to download. Patience and all that. Anyhow, you can analyze to see how I worked with nested symbols and "swapping" for the phonemes. Quality. Regular folk, can click the picture to see the swf file.

Monday, November 10, 2008


For DMF folk--here's how you enter a hot url:
The Miles Site

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


For the animation class--here are some cruddy phonemes (with a beautiful model)

Monday, October 6, 2008


Here's the url for the contemporary photographer, Platon. We've been looking at his work in our Digital Media Foundations class. He also has a photo essay entitled Service in this week's New Yorker. Click here to check it out online.

Bald Power: Cal Ripken Jr. and Glenn "Divine" Milstead Unite!

This connection must have been made somewhere before as both Cal and the late, great, "Divine" are prominent Baltimore figures. Nonetheless, it bears illustration. Thanks to my brother for drawing this to my attention.

Comic Class--Roughing in the Story

Here is a .png of the template I used to rough out Arms and Ether.
Download and enjoy. The other images are side by side scans of my roughs next to my finished artwork.

I wanted to illustrate two points for my comic/picture book class.
1. Don't let artwork hang up your writing and your ideas. Get the flow going. REFINE artwork LATER.
2. ROUGH your pages in quickly so that you are able to establish the flow and feel of your story. Make edits in the rough stage before you've dropped a day's work on drawing a page the story would be better off without.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Picture from DMF demo

There's a right way to rock
And a wrong way to roll
You should just listen to your soul
Just remember that life is number one
You could be having so much fun.

From Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!