Friday, December 5, 2008

Where There's Smoke...

Well there's still some time before Christmas to get some holiday shopping done, and what better gift than mini-comics? To celebrate the holiday I'm offering all five Issues of Burning Building Comix for the discounted price of $12.00! They'll even come wrapped in a beautiful decorative bow. Isn't that festive? To order email me and mention that you want the holiday set. Remember, this is what the what shabang looks like put together.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cartooning Exercises Part 1

I want to give a big thanks to Laurie at Dreamland comics for hosting my signing a couple weeks ago. I had a great time and got to talk turkey with fellow artists Elliot and Art. I'd also like to thank Rickey Gonzalez for alerting me to the fact that Burning Building Comix got a nice notice in the latest Best American Comics Anthology. It's in the back under Notable Comics of 2008, and thanks as well to Jessica Abel and Matt Madden who picked those titles. Pretty sweet. Now if only I could get a comic in one of those awesome anthologiesSO I've been putting this off for too long, but I mentioned before how I wanted to go through the Ivan Brunetti book, Cartooning. The book has multiple lessons and I'm going to put myself through the paces to try and stretch my cartooning psyche. Not to mention expose my piss poor doodling skills. Might I also ask anybody else who is interested to join in following along with these exercise. So here are my first three.
Exercise 1.1 : This exercise includes 6 drawings five different times. You're to take the same item and draw it 6 times in varying lengths. Starting with 3-4 minutes, then 2, then 1, 30 seconds, and 15 seconds. You start with a Car then go to a cat, a castle, a telephone, and a self portrait.

Exercise 1.2 : Draw 25 quick doodles of famous cartoon characters from memory.

Exercise 1.3 : Draw 100 doodles in 5 seconds a piece drawing images from your stream of consciousness. Don't stop to think about it. (This was very hard for me for some reason.)

So you'll have to either get the book, or take one of Ivan's classes to get the full explanation and reasoning for the exercises. Of course I highly recommend the book, and plan to get through all of them and post them here as they are completed.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Launch

Reminder that I'll be doing a signing of my comics along with Elliot Serrano and Art Baltazar at Dreamland Comics in Schamburg this Saturday November 8th from 1-3 pm!

Happy Halloween! Belated I'm afraid, but the holiday kicked my ass this year. Been really busy in the last couple of weeks with all sorts of projects. Top of the list had to be Van's Halloween costume! Emily and I have challenged ourselves to make Van's costumes from scratch each year. This year we weren't really sure what to pick for the costume seeing as he was old enough now to understand it better. So I thought about some of his favorite things, and since he's been absolutely obsessed with airplanes lately, and since one of his favorite DVD's is Duck Tales, (I'm so very proud of this fact) it was a natural to make him a costume of every ones favorite crash prone duck billed pilot, Launch Pad McQuack!

So it's basically just a WW1 fighter pilot outfit, with some webbed feet, a shock of orange hair and a rubber duck bill that van didn't want to wear.
As you can see, Emily did a fantastic job with the sewing! The whole thing is handmade aside from the pants.
But what pilot costume would be complete without a plane? This was my end of the costume, and this was also made from scratch. Half way during the construction I realized that the damn thing was too big and too fragile for a two and a half year old. Oh well. I'm sure he'll destroy it in good time, as it's only made from foam core and duck tape, with assorted cardboard and spray paint. I did actually use reference from the cartoon to get the details of the plane right, although I obviously played with the proportions.

in other Halloween news I carved my pumpkin with the knife of my white sox love. Below is the result; a mix of the old 80's sox batsmen logo and a jack o lantern.

Also went to the windy city comic-con a week or so back. What a great show. And by all accounts, from what I heard in talking to people at the show, it was busy and successful. I saw a bunch of friends there, and meet some new people as well. It was nice to go to a show that was small and creator focused, the kind of show I've wanted here in Chicago for years, as Wizard World leaves a lot to be desired.
Got to swap books with Jeff Brown, Jeff Lemire, and Neil Brideau. Jeff Browns latest, Sulk, filled with all Big head stories is a blast and quality as always from Jeff. Jeff Lemire was also super generous and swapped me a couple of his trades in the Essex County Trilogy. A beautiful, sad, tale and Jeff is quite nice to boot. Also meet Neil Brideau who I knew from the Indie Spinner Rack Forums. Neil and I swapped as well and his books are fun and creepy in the rich tradition of Gorey, Addams, and Tim Burton.
I also stopped by the table for Short Pants Press, a local distro/publisher. I picked up their new anthology The Short Pants Observer, and meet Sarah and Kristin. The Observer is a quality package, nicely put together with some great comics that were all quite different from each other, (always nice in an anthology). You can check it, and all the other quality wares out here.

Also bumped into Elliot Serrano again, and did yet another interview with him! This time for the Red Eye. You can check that, and Elliot's other coverage of the con here. And don't forget about the signing!
One more thing! Phew, lots of crap to cover right now. The new bindledog cartoon is up! Adam, Jay and I have been working on this one for a while. It's a cartoon featuring the lovable logo character bindledog. I hope you find it sad and cute.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Fall Semester Begins

I love the autumn. Above are some pictures I took outside of work with my camera phone today.
Since I was a kid I've loved the fall, and I guess it's in large part to Halloween. But it is also because of the weather. The crisp cool days sit just right with my body somehow, as if it's the natural state it desires to be in. I always loved the smell of the air when the season was starting to turn. It seemed to be so clean and clear, and it seems like I smell it less as I get older. Is this not noticing it as much? My allergies? Or is the scent tied to an emotion I've moved past psychologically? At any rate, good things seemed to happen to me during the fall, and the colorful trees and the sensation of crunching leaves underfoot on grass leaves me feeling happy in a way that's melancholy at the same time. I guess cause it's not the bright sunny kind of weather one associates with good moods. Also, the fall doesn't seem to last nearly as long as it did when I was young. When I'd rake up big piles of leaves to jump into. Now it seems it's over in a blink, just a colorful glimpse between summer and winter.

In other news. I just received a great review over at for the whole Burning Building series. Thanks to Rob! He really seemed to GET the whole series, and especially the last issue, which I was concerned about, as it's a little tricky, formally speaking. So please go and read the review and check out the other great articles!

Also I wanted to announce a new first for me! A signing!

Yes, I somehow was lucky enough to be invited to sign along with Elliott Serrano and Art Baltazar at Dreamland comics in Schaumburg Illinois on November 8th between 1-3.

At least that's what I've been told as of now.

This will be my first signing at a store, and it should be a good time. I'll update here as the information becomes more solid (although I have no reason to think this isn't solid).

I've just recently picked up this book by Ivan Brunetti.

It came along with a copy of Comic Art magazine. It's been out for a while and I didn't have the dough at the time to pick it up so I'm glad I came across it again. This book is basically a breakdown of the classes that Ivan Brunetti teaches here in town. I've always wanted to take a class with him, as he's such an influence on my style, and a tremendous cartoonist, but he didn't begin teaching art classes till years after I left college.
Well Ivan breaks down his teachings into courses, and I plan to follow each one as if I were in one of his classes, along with all the appropriate drawing. I think here, I'll also do special blog postings dedicated to each course and show my results. I'm really excited about this and really look forward to trying a different method of developing comics. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Full Color Black Out!

So I'm pretty bummed I couldn't make it to SPX this year, which took place over the weekend, especially since I've heard it was a good year, with lots of good product and sales to be had. Maybe I'll be able to swing the full convention circuit next year.
Anyway, the fine folks at Top Shelf have put up the third Issue of Burning Building #3 in FULL COLOR! Please go here to check it out. Also a while back The Chicago Tribune did a video piece of the Diane Tanios Gallery show and I've just found it posted recently. Plus since the completion of the series, I thought it appropriate to take some "book porn" shots of the completed building in all of it's glory. Hey, you can build your own!

On a sadder note, my Chicago White Sox finally blew it the other night. They had a long, extremely frustrating season, with a second half that pissed me off more than rush hour traffic in the rain. But alas they managed to put together some very exciting well pitched games at the end, to make the season feel successful. I was at the critical "Black Out" game, however, and that was as thrilling a baseball experience I've had, and since I'm broke, its the closest I'll come to the playoff environment.
Here's another passage from Moby Dick that I liked quite a bit.
"Death seems the only desirable sequel for a career like this, but Death is only a launching into the region of the strange Untried; it is but the first salutation to the possibilities of the immense Remote, the Wild, the Watery, the Unshored; therefore, to the death-longing eyes of such men, who still have left in them some interior compunctions against suicide, does the all-contributed and all receptive ocean alluringly spread forth his whole plain of unimaginable, taking terrors, and wonderful, new-life adventures; and from the hearts of infinite Pacifics, the thousand mermaids sing to them -"Come hither, brokenhearted; here is another life without guilt of intermediate death; here are wonders supernatural, without dying for them. Come hither! bury thyself in a life oblivious than death. Come hither! put thy gravestone, too, within the churchyard, and come hither, till we marry thee!""

Saturday, September 27, 2008

An Interview with Jeef

So Burning Building Comix #5 is finally printed and done! Anybody anxious to order it before I get a chance to put it on the website can drop me a line. I tell ya it feels pretty damn good to finally have it done. Finally all the stories can be completed to build a full building. But now what? Well, as you can imagine I've been thinking about that a lot. In fact I've been thinking about it for a long time, cause I like to have my ducks in a row. I think I'm going to plan a series of special blog posts to explore this idea. The inspiration for this idea goes back to the Gallery show I took part in for the Diane Tanios Gallery. On my Bio area in the Gallery, my wife pointed out to me that my name was actually spelled wrong! Funny enough, it wasn't Zwirek that was misspelled, but Jeff. Yeah, so it was transcribed as Jeef Zwirek. During the opening reception for the show, my friends and I were talking about it, and we decided that when I become a hugely famous comic artist and move to Europe I should publish under the simple moniker of Jeef.

SO, for years now I've always been absorbing stories about how people became successful in their lives. Whether I was looking for inspiration or just good ideas, any time I heard an interview where it got into how a person got started, and when they got their big break, my ears would perk up. Now comics people have these stories as well, but I've never been to satisfied with the details that they divulge.

In that spirit, I'm going to start a series of blog posts called "Becoming Jeef" or "The Road to Jeef" I haven't decided yet. The idea here is to document the process of taking my comic and hopefully getting it published, and then out into stores and all that that entails. Along the way I'm sure, I'll have words of advice for other people trying to do the same thing. (I know I'm not accomplished enough to give advice, but I like too, and really it's gonna be mind set type stuff anyway) Basically it will be the important points in making my career, till one day when I'm rich, pretentious, and living in France.

So look for those to start soon.

In other news, I recorded another interview with good guy, Elliott Serrano today. Elliot invited me to record with him on his video podcast over in Schamburg at Dreamland Comics. We recorded two segments and they're gonna be posted in two different places. The first will be on Comics Waiting Room, that should be up for Monday. The other went long and is gonna have to be broken up into segments for Elliott's other video podcast Comic Culture Warrior. I had a great time talking with Elliott, and we seemed to hit on all sorts of topics. I apologize for going on too long. I'm kind of a quiet guy until you get me started.

In addition to dying a little bit every day with each White Sox loss, I've been in the process of coloring Issue #4 of Burning Building for Top Shelf's Website.

I'm also almost done reading Moby Dick. Recently saw this beautifully done piece of Moby Dick done by Tom Neely, of "The Blot" fame. Had I the ducets, t'would be mine. Plus I thought, I'd share another segment from the book that I thought was quite well written. It's at the end of Chapter 58 and I won't bother for context.

"Consider all this; and then turn to this green, gentle, and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all of the horrors of the half-known life. God keep thee! Push not off from that isle, thou can'st never return!"

"One Insular Tahiti" is a wonderful turn of phrase I might have to steal for a title some day.
Oh! I've finally sunk to joining a social network, so anybody else out there on facebook should go make me their friend, cause it seems that the point to that thing is to accumulate as many ancillary friendships as possible!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Swedish Cyborg

So I had a great time at the panel in Columbia Missouri this past weekend. I only wish I had more time to hang out and talk to people, as everyone was so nice.

Hey did anyone watch Terminator the Sarah Conner Chronicles, or as I call it, that show with Shirley Manson! Well Shirley was in the first episode, and she was pretty wooden. She looked good enough, but the acting seemed a little stiff, unless it was on purpose! Spoiler. Shirley is a robot, so I'm not sure if she was acting that way on purpose. But I do love the idea of another Terminator robot with an inappropriately thick foreign accent.

In other exciting news, Burning Building #5 is done! I have to merely print it up, but it's all assembled hacked together. I'll post here when the new issue is available to order.

So, I finally got some pictures of the prints from the gallery show over on my flickr page. Van here is posing with the facade to give you an idea of scale. Email me if your interested in purchasing a page, I'll let you know which ones are left and give you a price.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Beijing Blitz

Okay so a reminder that I'll be In Missouri next weekend for the Alley Oop panel event, looking forward to that. Also I have a new comic finished that I teased last week. It's another in the Cast Of... mini's that I've done, the Cast of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I don't have this up on my website quite yet, but anybody interested can email me and order it. It's 16 pages long and has a full color hand cut cover for $2.00. This is kind of a new style of drawing for me, It's the same profile type drawing that I've used for a while in BlackStar and Burning Building, but to get the likeness' down better I'm also doing more of a caricature. In this comic, you get 16 of them, along with stats and a list of the events they won medals with, a must have for any Olympics fan!

I also wanted to mention that a few weeks back Burning Building Comix #3 was reviewed by Whitey over at Optical Sloth. You can check it, and all of Kevin's Mini-Comic reviews here. Thanks Kevin!

Oooo! I almost forgot to mention that every Shirley Manson fans should watch the season premier of Terminator the Sarah Conner chronicles! Keep posted here for reports on her charismatic sexuality.

Monday, September 1, 2008


First off I want to direct everybody back to the web section of the Top Shelf Comics Website, as Issue #2 of Burning Building is up and in full color! TopShelfComix

So Sept 14th is the date of the panel I'll be a part of for the Exhibit above. I'll be on the panel with other comic artists, Matt Kindt of Super Spy fame, Ted May of Injury comics, and Mardou the artist of Stiro. I'm really looking forward to this and it should be a good time, so anybody in Missouri mid September should check it out. All the specific details are here.

Also, I just got back my work from the Gallery exhibit at the Diane Tanios Gallery. The show was great, and I'm so thankful to Diane for all the great exposure that the show afforded me. We even did a photo shoot for Lake Magazine last week that made me feel like some sort of important person! It was very strange. Not sure when that article is supposed to appear.

There are still some prints left, and I think I'm going to make some available on the website at some point in the future. Anybody interested feel free to write.

I've also been working hard on finishing up another "Cast Of" mini, dedicated to one of my favorite things, The Olympics! I love the Olympics, both summer, and winter, and there are so many great faces involved in the game that I couldn't resist putting together a cast of the Olympics 2008 Beijing mini. I'm nearly done, and gonna try to get it up and available quick before everyone loses all interest completely. Here's a sneak peek at Mr. Gold himself.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Publicity Stache

Burning Building Comix #5 is done! Yes, the last issue of the series is pencilled and inked, and just needs to be put together. It's very exciting for me to finally be done. Friends have already asked if I'm sad that it's done, and the answer is NO! Not that I don't like working on the series, but I'm excited to get it done and get it out there in the world, and to move on to a new project. I'm not sure what that will be as of yet, but I have a bunch of ideas in the hopper, so I probably won't wait too long before starting up something new.

Also, I wanted to point out that you can see a short comic of mine in a new 'zine. It's about mustaches, and is edited by the talented Sarah Morean. It's called Man-up and you can buy it from Sarah here. Sarah did a great job, and you can find mustache related stories from a large group of people, including Jeff Brown and Tim Sievert.

So keeping with the theme of my last entry, I thought I'd put up some of the articles that have been written on myself and the gallery in the last couple of weeks. It's been a great experience having the gallery show, and I've been very lucky to have very nice people write some very nice articles about me and the show.
Elliot Serrano wrote a great article for the Red eye that you can read below, and also posted the entire audio from our interview on his blog in the link below that. And if you want to hear something strange, Elliot hosts a web series on comics with a former co-worker of mine from my time working at the Comix Revolution. Small world huh? You can see Jose and Elliot for yourself here, and you might be able to see me join them, as I've been offered an open invitation.
Then I was interviewed for the Pioneer Press by Myrna Petlicki. This was a nice full page article in all the papers last Thursday. I was very happy with it, and Myrna did her homework and even read this blog!
So thanks to everyone for helping me out in getting the word about my comics out there.
OH! I almost forgot another event to mention.
Next month I'll be travelling out to Missouri to participate in a panel about young comic artists. It's hosted by the library at the University of Missouri and is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the comic strip Alley Oop. You can find all the information about the events here. Apparently Alley Oop creator V.T. Hamlin held a bunch of different jobs before the success of Alley Oop, and the panel will focus on the trails of becoming a cartoonist, and the jobs you have to take in the meantime. More info on that as it approaches.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Bragadocious Uber

Finally got some pictures from the gallery show! You can see them on their flickr set here. The show opened on August 1st, and was great. Tons of people showed up! For a couple of hours, it was jam-packed and kinda hard to see the art on the walls. I had a great time and met a lot of cool people. Special thanks to everyone who turned out to the show. I'm really truly humbled when people take the time to stop and lend me their support. It really makes all the time sitting behind a table worth while.

To anyone whom I didn't get a chance to speak to or meet, I'm new to the gallery environment and didn't know exactly how to behave, so excuse me if I didn't introduce myself.

I did get to talk to a couple of different reporters, who interviewed me for various publications. I spoke with super nice guy Elliot Serrano, who writes for The Chicago Tribune's sister publication Red Eye. He wrote up a nice article on the show and you can read it for yourself here.

I also talked to the Pioneer Press and expect to see an article in print August 14th. Plus there's some rumbling about a Chicago Tribune video web thing.

Jeez, does this all sound like bragging? I guess. I'm just very excited and with only a couple pages left to ink on the 5th and final issue of Burning Building, all the hard work feels like it's starting to pay off. And hey, it's presumptuous to even do a blog about yourself, so this is the only forum to go ahead and whore your work out right? I guess.

Thanks to Mike Sims and Jenny Seay who pimped out yours truly on their Podcast cast over at You can check out Mike's one stop comic culture news, message board, and podcasting hub here. One of my very earliest comics work was with Mike, doing a Twilight-Zone-esque comic about killer bunnies.

So the gallery show with the other uber talented artists, Alex Wald, Tony Akins, Gene Ha, and Elisabeth Belliveau, will be on display at the Diane Tanios Gallery all of August. Seriously, having now seen all the other artists work up close, man are these guys good, and technical geniuses! Plus, everyone has been super nice and cool to a wet behind the ears, social retard like me.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Superdog Underdog

Well, between the Gallery show coming up and inking Burning Building #5, I've been working extra hard lately, so I'm just gonna remind everyone about the show. The artist's reception is this Friday, Aug 1st and the show will run through the end of the month. Come one, come all. Here's the link for all the information: The reception is from 6 to 10pm and I've been told there will be valet parking. So, hope to see you there!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Low Brow?

Okay, it's official! Issues #3 and #4 of Burning Building are finally done and available to be ordered on the website. For those of you keeping track, that's stories 5-8! They, as always, are 19 pages in B&W, with full color covers and come with a piece of burned paper glued inside to the front of the book. Pictures of these things can be found on the website (and thanks to my bro Adam for taking care of that for me). Also, most every time a comic is ordered from me, or bought at a convention, I will happily do a little sketch inside the book. These are especially fun cause I like to do all sorts of wacky character designs that I can't afford to do in Burning Building proper.

Also, I'm going to officially announce my participation in a Gallery show here in Chicago. It's with the Diane Tanios Gallery in Lakeview. It's starting on August 1st, and will feature a giant reproduction of the entire Burning Building facade! As well as color prints from Issue #3 of Burning Building on display. There will be 19 different prints depicting the entire storyline. You can see the other artists participating and get all the details here: I'll get pictures posted here as soon as I get them.

Been working on Burning Building 5 as well. The final issue of the building! I've been going at a pretty good clip, and am nearly done with all the pencilling, and will begin inking soon. Here's a preview of an early page in the blue pencils.

Those of you with keen eyes might recognize one of those characters from a previous Issue of Burning Building.

Saw Wall-E this weekend with my wife Emily, brother Adam, and my boy Van. It was Van's first movie outing and he did pretty well. He didn't sit the whole time, but he pretty much stayed out of trouble and we got to stay and watch the whole thing. I'm a big fan of Pixar and given how much positive buzz was coming out of Wall-E, I was pretty excited to see it. It didn't disappoint either. It may have been the most adorable Pixar movie, which is weird cause it was all robots, but they managed to cull as much damn charm out of some digital sound as possible. I could have heard those two stupid robots call each other by name for 4 hours! It was cute as hell.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Stroll in Whales

I've recently been busy putting together some work for a gallery show. I'm still working on the details, and I'll be posting the particulars here when the time comes, but basically it will be a gallery show for comics in downtown Chicago. The plan is to display some Burning Building work, and so far it's coming together nicely.

So, this has put the delay on getting the new comics posted on the website, but I've got that all taken care of now, and I just have to wait for my brother Adam to do the magical website stuff.

Hey now, there's a nice shot of man with his dog. Unfortunately It's not my dog. I'm allergic. However, I wish I could have a dog just so there would be more pictures like this. What a lovely picture.

So, I took the boy out for a walk to the park today and I must confess that I love being a dad. There are these moments when I'm with Van, and something happens that takes me back to that age. Today, I was pushing him home in his stroller after a nice time in the park. We were going down the sidewalk and it was a quiet summer afternoon. There was a nice warm breeze and as I pushed the stroller I became aware of a steady rhythm as the wheels bumped over the segments of cement. I looked down and saw Van lulling off to sleep, and the memory of falling asleep myself after an afternoon trip to the park was a real as yesterday. And so was that feeling of calm and simple happiness. As I finished pushing the stroller home with that regular rhythmic cadence off the sidewalk I couldn't help but think that this kind of serenity, with the warm tranquil stillness, must be what it feels like when Buddhists meditate.

Somewhat related to that, I'm reading Moby Dick right now. I've read a little of Melville before, and liked it, and I try to read classic literature to help me feel smarter than I am. Anyway, it's slow and very descriptive and I have to admit there have been moments where it's lulled me off to sleep. There was this passage I just finished though that I thought was so nicely written and original a thought, I wanted to share it somehow. So here it is:

"Whales are scarce as hen's teeth whenever thou art up here." Perhaps they were; or perhaps there might have been shoals of them in the far horizon; but lulled into such an opium-like listlessness of vacant, unconscious reverie is this absentminded youth by the blending cadence of waves with thoughts, that at last he loses his identity; takes the mystic ocean at his feet for the visible image of that deep, blue, bottomless soul, pervading mankind and nature; and every strange, half-seen, gliding, beautiful thing that eludes him; every dimly discovered, uprising fin of some indiscernible form, seems to him the embodiment of those elusive thoughts that only people the soul by continually flitting through it. In this enchanted mood, thy spirit ebbs away to whence it came; becomes diffused through time and space; like Cranmer's sprinkled Pantheistic ashes, forming at last a part of every shore the round globe over.

I think that passage is talking about young sailors being lousy at spotting whales. Come on, huh? That was three sentences! There's seven semi-colons! Seven! Now, that's writing!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pretentious Wizard Sox

Well, I'm off to Wizard World Chicago today. In the past, I've set up in the artist alley to sell the minis, but it's never been too successful an endeavor, as you can imagine. Wizard World is a big super hero show, so the audience isn't exactly what I'm after, however, it's so close and since there isn't a small press show here, I do it for the sake of it. Well, I decided to save my money and skip it this year, but I will attend to say hi to some people and maybe hand out some comics. So, I do finally have the new issues of Burning Building Comix #3 and #4 finally available! They aren't up on the website yet, but they are printed and ready to go.

So, even though I'm not making super hero comics, and I'm supposed to hate fan boy cons, I do enjoy taking in a big show. Mostly I like looking around at all the new stuff, the toys, and comics, and I love seeing little kids dressed up as superheroes. And speaking of which, Van has some superman PJ's and he thinks he looks pretty darn snazzy when he's all dressed up.

Back to the Ipod three song random shuffle.

Cup of Coffee by Garbage
Lakini's Juice by Live
Fire starter by The Prodigy

I don't know what happened to Live. To me, they were so good for three or four albums, but then just fell off completely. One of those weird things, I guess, but then there's the idea that it's a band from my youth, and maybe I just outgrew the music. I think they just got too pretentious. Still, I love the cool guitar sound on Lakini's Juice and even if they were pretentious by this point in their career, I can always appreciate just the right amount of pretension.

I used Firestarter as a song on one of my video pieces for Burning Building Comix. I think The Prodigy is still around and kicking, and I'll have to get around to checking it out at some point to see if they still have the sound.

And Garbage again. Anyone that's ever read this blog before knows my love for that band. Cup of Coffee is a nice slow, sad, song, and for whatever reason, sometimes those make me feel best.

By the way, the Cubs - Sox series is killing me! These games are too intense, and I'd rather go without them. Even though the Sox go for the sweep tonight, with the potential to tie up the season series.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Iron Zod Bender

So, there's still a delay on the print versions of Burning Building #3 and #4. I'm hoping they'll be all done by the end of the week, and I'll post here when they're available to order. I have been keeping busy however with a couple of other projects. Some months ago, I promised to be in a zine and I've been putting together a comic for that for a while now. It's been taking me a long time cause I'm trying a different style for the art. The story I'm doing features a bunch of portraits of famous characters, and in order to get likenesses right, I wanted to try a style that was a little more involved and precise, but still minimal and abstractly exaggerated. This ends up looking like caricature most of the time, which is fine, but something I've never been very good at. So what should have been something that would only take a week, has spawned into several as I tried dozens of sketches of the same character to try and nail the likeness and the new, more illustrative, style I was trying to capture. Here are a couple of the final sketches I made before moving into the final art.
I'll make sure to post on here with the specifics of the zine when the project's all done.

Doing this was pretty challenging for me, and fun, and I'm hoping to try and build a new illustration portfolio out of the style of these drawings, so we'll see how that goes.

As for other comics I've been reading, I just finished up the Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. Wow, what a great book. I've said before that I'm not really familiar with the Duck comics, and I've never read the Barks stuff, but this collection, by Don Rosa, was so much fun, and so well done, I wish I had started reading them as a young lad. This book was a good place to start, I think, as it gave me a breakdown on the Scrooge character's life, as he exists in comics, and outside of my beloved Duck Tales universe. I do ponder on how my comics development might have differed had I been reading these when my comics tastes were developing. But alas, I was reading Youngblood instead. (sigh)

By the way, I saw the new Hulk movie with Ed Norton. It was pretty damn good, and a might better than the Ang Lee version with the terrible Nick Nolte Absorbing Man crap. The new one has solid acting, pretty good story and really nice special effects. The skin tone of the hulk was creepily real with dark green blood pumping through the veins just under the surface. I've been told it's not as good as Iron Man, which apparently is the best movie ever made.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Guitar Phreak

Hey, everyone, let me just say thanks to anybody reading this blog. I realize how obnoxious blogs can be, what with people having an over inflated sense of their own importance - so for anyone reading my own self important ramblings, thanks! Although this blog is dedicated to my comics, anyone who has been reading this knows I talk about side projects as well. Well, the bindledog guys and myself, along with the help of Zoe Triantafillou, have just finished up our latest video project. We used Zoe's fancy camera, so the quality is much better than our previous efforts. It's called Guitar Hero A-hole, and features real life GH A-hole Adam Zwirek! It's posted over on you tube, and you can check it out here.

Still been working on a lot of computer work putting the pages together for Burning Building 3 and 4. I should be done shortly and have those issues finally available in print.

After finishing the blog last week it occurred to me that I talk about music more than comics a lot of the time. As a means of rectifying that, I think I'm gonna skip the i-pod thing from time to time to talk about what comics I'm reading.

So, I've met Ed Piskor at Space and SPX I think, and he's a cool guy that does some cool comix. Ed self published and distributed his latest book Wizzywig Volume 1: Phreak.

It's about this kid who figures out how to be a hacker/con man. This volume focuses a lot on how he hacks the phone system and learns how to get things in life via "social engineering".

Ed does a great job of making the kid, Kevin, an archetype, and exploring the type of person who does this kind of thing, and why they do it. It's obvious from reading it that Ed did a lot of research and got into the mind of his character in a convincing fashion. Plus, Ed has got some mean chops! He's somehow tapped into that 60's underground comix vibe, but has a real tight and clean style that you wouldn't expect from such a young guy.

I love it when I can read about a subject matter I know virtually nothing about, and get exactly what I want out of it. Ed delivers insight into the mind of his characters with a sociologists point of view that truly understands the subject matter. Can't wait for the other volumes in the series.
You can order it straight from our man Ed, here.

In other news. Van has been completely obsessed with me lately, asking where I am all day long, and asking what I'm doing 50 times a day... it's adorable. Here's a pic that illustrates it quite well even though it's a little old. I'm quite often storing a pen or pencil behind the ear, and as you can see, Van is an observant little guy.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Karaoke Light Box!

Hey, the slide show thingy worked! How cool is that? So to keep on updating you on the Top Shelf web comics 2.0 thing, I just recently finished coloring issue #2, and that should be up on their site in another couple of weeks, with the next issue coming a month after that. So check it out, cause they've got some cool stuff going on over there, and it's free! Which is good for all you cheapskates, cause it's like free comic book day every weekday!

So, aside from coloring the issues of Burning Building Comix, I've also begun working on the print editions of Issues #3 and #4. Issue 3 is almost done, and I've started putting together the pages for Issue 4 today. The way I work on these, is to do the backgrounds and the characters separately. I started doing this because in Issue 1, I drew each background in every panel using a light box. It was tedious, boring, and time consuming. Since then, I draw the backgrounds once, draw the rest on it's own, and put them together in the computer. Since I'm such a geek about process, here are three scans of the same page. One being the backgrounds alone (the white out spots are where the halo around the characters come in), the characters alone, and them both put together.
Wow, isn't cheating great?! Not really. Although this method is much faster overall, I believe, there's usually a whole week I have to set aside to scan it all in and put it together. This can be tedious, boring, and time consuming. (sigh)

So, here's Van caught in a candid shot admiring his racetrack. The car actually goes around the track, in case you thought he was just staring at a still car... although such is his mania, I think he has just sat and stared at his cars.

And to finish it all up, the ipod three song shuffle.

Take Me Anywhere by Tegan and Sara

Don't Stop Me Now by Queen

Sweet Jane by Cowboy Junkies

Don't Stop Me Now is one of my favorite songs of all time, and you haven't lived till you've seen me karaoke this bad boy! Also, since it's Queen related and I make comics, I feel I'm required by comic blogging law to mention Mike Dawson's new book Freddie and Me. I always thought that the song Short Skirt/Long Jacket by Cake ripped off their guitar hook from Sweet Jane. Although I like the Velvet Underground original just fine, the Cowboy junkies version just sounds like you're on heroin. You know, for you cheapskates out there.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

How to make a Mini-Comic!

I just finished doing a new printing of Burning Building #1, so I took a bunch of photos of the process and have it posted over on Flickr for anyone to see. So instead of the usual post, I'm just gonna give a quick update on the Top Shelf web comics, and then send you over the the Flickr set.

I've been talking to the guys at Top Shelf, and we're gonna post all the issues of Burning Building on the new section of their web comics page, Top Shelf 2.0. Right now, Issue #1 is up, and I'm working on finishing up the coloring of Issue #2. Once they're all done, you'll be able to view them all online stacked on top of each other! I'll post here when the new issues are gonna be posted, or just keep checking Top Shelf, cause they're posting new comics every weekday! Holy Crap!

Okay, so here's where you can find the pictures on Flickr, and I'm trying to figure out how to have a slide show of that set of photos run on the side of the page here on the blog, but I'm not sure if that's gonna work.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Have I done a hutch yet?

In case anybody went over to the Top Shelf Comix website looking for my comics that were to debut, and thought I was a dirty liar cause they couldn't find them - fear not. The color version of Burning Building 3 is set to be on the website, just not quite yet. Apparently, they're looking at putting Issue 1 back up first and then issue 3 some time after that. They're putting up new comix every weekday, so it shouldn't be long. Issue 1, once again in full color, is supposed to be up this Thursday.

Lately, I've been working on a bunch of in-between things, mostly the inside covers for Burning Building 3, which I delayed doing due to a convention, and for Burning Building 4. I usually like to do these right after I'm done with the guts of the book, put doing a pair of them back to back was a bit rough. The inside covers are just backgrounds, with the character's furniture and knick knacks lying around to give people a sense of what the character is like. Well, it's pretty damn boring to just draw backgrounds (don't know how Gerhard did it), and even more boring when it's a bunch of furniture that has to be different from the six other apartments I've already done. I spend way too much time thinking up ottomans and lamps! Here's a peek at one of the covers. I scanned it as a color photo so you can see the blue line pencils underneath the black ink.

Here's a picture of Van in a box. It illustrates well his obsession with cars, and anything with freakin' wheels.

And now the three song ipod shuffle.

South Side by Moby (with Gwen Stefani)
Turning Japanese by Liz Phair
Slide Away by Oasis

I love Liz Phair, a Chicago gal, and Turning Japanese is a good cover. It's true to the original, but it has enough of her own sound to be different and fresh. Moby I'm pretty luke warm on, but I do like South Side, especially being a White Sox fan. I got pretty F'd out on a lot of Oasis, cause I used to work with a guy at the Comix Revolution who would play them non-stop. I am a bit a of brit pop fanatic though, although Oasis got way too bloated and way too high on cocaine!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I'm Gonna Be Drifting Off

I'm gonna try and keep it short this week. Last time, I mentioned how I would talk more about Burning Building Comix #3 later, and that time is now. You see, I've actually had Issue 3 done for quite some time, but the fine folks at Top Shelf Comics, are going to include it in their online comics section! They've been cool enough to do this before for Issue 1, but I guess they're re-designing the online comix section, and it's going to be up and running in a week or so. You can check it out here, and it's the only place to see Burning Building Comix in FULL COLOR! The print version of Issue 3 will be available after the online edition's exclusivity has worn its welcome, and Issue 4 will be ready about the same time. Stay tuned.

So if you search for "kid falling asleep" on you tube, you get like 600 matches, and my pride and joy baby boy is among them. Here's Van during a late dinner with a White Sox game on in the background.

Okay, so here's the ipod three song shuffle.

I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles), The Proclaimers
Bittersweet Me, R.E.M.
Hooligans, Rancid

Hmmm, well, "I'm Gonna Be" is one of those songs I really liked when I was 12, and thought I would still like it now, so I downloaded it, and I think I skip it every time it comes up. Somebody ought to coin a term for that. ipod remorse. And the Proclaimers were the guys who sang with those really think accents, and I usually do love to hear an accent in a singer's voice, especially a Celtic type sound.
Bittersweet Me is a great R.E.M. Monster song, that came close to being completely F'd out. You know, it's strange, cause I didn't really get into R.E.M until Monster, and then I got their older stuff later, but it was one of those albums that I listened to, to death in the crucial years of my youth when objectivity is lost. As a result, I can't critically talk about it, but I think I've heard that Monster isn't regarded very well for R.E.M. and I just can't see that. I suppose it's possible that it's just me, and I'm unable to judge it outside of the emotional place it dwells inside of me next to the memories and feelings of those years.
Hooligans by Rancid is a fun song by a fun band, and for me Rancid is at it's best when they're doing more of the Ska/Reggae influence type thing. Plus, on a personal note, Rancid was my first official concert with my wife. Lots of making out.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Ducky Garbage Day!

Well, I missed a post last week...what do you expect from the worst blog ever? I'm writing this on Saturday May 3, or as it's known in all of geekdom, FREE COMIC BOOK DAY! So, I packed up the wife and kid and headed out to The Comix Revolution. They've got a brand new store open, and they did a great job! The new location is bigger than the old joint, visible from the street, and has parking! I got a couple of pictures of the fancy new digs.

In addition to a smattering of the free alternative type comics available, I finally got the new Jeffrey Brown book, Little Things. I haven't read it yet, but I think it's a comic adaptation of that BUSH song. Jeff's a great guy, draws great comics, and has been cool enough to give me some much needed advice from time to time. I also picked up The Klassic Komix Klub by Johnny Ryan, published by the fine folks at Buenaventura press. This book contains Johnny's sick take on classic literature. Finally, I picked up The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, by Don Rosa. I've never actually gotten into the duck comics, and am only familiar with Scrooge McDuck through the cartoon Duck Tales. I do consider Duck Tales to be one of the finest children's cartoon shows produced, and I still love it to this day, so I hope the comics can provide just as much entertainment. Some day, when I have more money, I'll get to the Carl Barks stuff. After I make my millions from selling my own comics, of course, (sigh). So, thanks to Rudy, Mason, and the rest of the CR crew. As you can tell from the picture below, Van was just as excited as I was for the trip to Mt. Prospect.

OK! Time for a little whoring! I just recently got some stuff back into print. All of the Black Stars are available again, including the long out-of-print, issue #1. The cover for issue #4 is different, cause the stock I got for the first printing was kind of a pain in the ass to get, and I wanted to try something else. You can see pictures of it on the main page. Also, Burning Building #1 has been out-of-print, but I'm expecting to finish up my third printing any time now, so it's pretty much available, along with issue #2. Issue #3 is finished, but not printed yet - more about that next week - and I just finished up all the inking on issue #4 earlier this week. The story for issue #5 is written out (the first draft, at least) and I'm gonna try and get that started ASAP! Issue #5 is the last issue and the last story for the building, so I'm super excited to get it done and out there for people to be able to read the building as a whole. Here's a peek at the character sketches for #5.

As I'm writing this, the episode of Sound Stage on Chicago public TV is playing the Garbage performance. This is notable, not only because I love the band Garbage and they've only played this episode once before as far as I know, but also because my lovely wife and I were in attendance at the taping of the show. If you watch really closely when Shirley jumps down to walk through the crowd during Stupid Girl, she very quickly passes me, and you can see me excitedly ogle her. Creepy! (You can see me all the way on the right of the screen at 3:36 of the youtube clip.)

And finally the ipod three song shuffle.

Emily was sick of me making fun of her songs, so we purged most of hers from itunes and moved 'em to her computer. This might prove to be less interesting, and more embarrassing.

Denise by Fountains of Wayne
I Believe in a Thing Called Love by The Darkness
Street Spirit (Fade Out) by Radiohead.

Good mix this time! Denise by FOW is one of my favorite songs by them. It's really quick and distorted, and the lyrics, as always by those guys, are awesome! (ding) Some might consider I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a one hit wonder, movie soundtrack hit, which I guess is true, but it's so right on, feel good, Queen-style anthem rock, that I think it will hold up for years. I'm glad Radiohead came up in the shuffle, cause the storyboard for the music video we made for that aniboom contest is done. The drawings are all mine, but the versatile Jay Gish put it together in Flash and made it move. You can also see my brother, Adam's entry which is a sweet, multi-layered cliff hanger. No word yet that we lost the contest. Back to Street Spirit though, cause that is one of my favorite Radiohead songs of all time, if not one of my favorite songs of all time, and it's got one of the best videos ever! Watch it, and note that the switching from slow motion to quick motion in those liquidy transitions, was done years before the film 300. If you watch that video, or listen to that song, and aren't moved by it, YOU HAVE NO HEART!

Your Pal, Jeff