Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Saturday, June 7, 2014
Tin Side 1
Tin Side 2
Tin Side 3
Tin Side 3
A few months ago, to celebrate their 30th anniversary, the Fossil Watch Company sponsored a contest. The contest's theme was based on travel, and the assignment was to design one of their tin containers that their watches are packaged in. Because I'm competitive, and there was nice prize money involved, I entered the contest.
Contests are tough, not just because you want to stand out from everyone else, but you have to try and figure what will be appealing to the judges. I decided to try to create an illustrative cartoon image. I wanted to use a cross between Hanna-Barbera cartoons and the styles of 60s children's magazines. I thought most people would go the route of using road signs, travel stickers and gasoline memorabilia for inspiration, so I chose a different path. I wanted each side of the tin to show what represented a different geographic part of the country. I actually was most proud of the tag line I wrote for the top of the tin, "It's About Time!" Do you get it? Anyway, I thought it was clever.
Well, I didn't win...but I was notified that I had made it to the second round. Out of 800 entrants, mine was one of the top 30. What won? Well, it was tins showing road signs, travel stickers, and gasoline memorabilia...
About This Edition Page
Chapter Divider Page
I think Mike Mignola is one of the strongest graphic illustrators. He has a highly defined illustrative style. There is bold blocky graphic presence to what he does. Each page is broken down to make the most and best usage of blacks. He simplifies shapes without making it look simple. I'm sure at this stage in his career some things are intuitive, but he didn't get there without a lot of hard work. Some of the toughest decisions as an illustrator, is what to leave out. This not only makes each panel stand out, but helps the story to move in a progressively pleasing manner. Looking at these pages without the customary word balloons (Mike places them on an acetate overlay), each page looks as if it's a poster from the WPA period.
This book is almost a polar opposite to the design style of the PEANUTS book (see previous entry). Where the PEANUTS book was open spatially and bright and playful, the Hellboy book is dense, layered, textured and somewhat imposing. I used aged victorian wallpapers and medical engravings to give it that vintage look. I wanted the design pages to have an atmosphere that was somehow connected to the stories. It's always intimidating to design a book for someone who has established such a strong distinct look to his work. Thanks to Mike for his support and allowing me to create complimentary design pages to accompany his stunning artwork.
About This Edition Page
Chapter Divider Page
I know it's been awhile since I posted anything, but it wasn't because I had nothing to post, but instead, because I've been very busy. I'll try to get back on track and start posting more images from books I've completed.
It's been so amazing to me, to be able to work on so many projects that have had special meaning to me. The book above certainly falls into that category. As a youngster growing up, I remember having such strong feelings towards the Peanuts gang. I had collections of the strips, a Snoopy plush, a Snoopy 3-ring binder, a Snoopy toy as an astronaut, all kinds of things. I even owned a book called, "The Gospel According to PEANUTS." I'm not sure what it was about, but I knew PEANUTS was in the title. I actually wrote my first ever fan letter to Mr. Schulz. I received back a pre-printed reply on PEANUTS stationery, along with a printed drawing of Snoopy. I wish I still had those things. About 12 years ago, I was in contact with the cartoonist Seth (Palookaville). He knew I lived in Minnesota, and asked if I could go to the St. Paul Public Library, go into their micro film archives and make photocopies of all of the Lil Folks strips I could find. This consisted of going several Saturday over many months. It was like a treasure hunt. Seeing the early pre-PEANUTS artwork was quite an education. Seth being very fair-minded, because of my efforts, sent me a very large piece of original art that had been originally used for the cover of the Comics Journal.
The whole idea that Sparky (Charles Schulz) grew up in Minnesota, made me feel more connected to him. The scenes in the comic strip, could have taken place in my neighborhood. I always appreciated his depiction of winter, those felt the most authentic to me. The piles of snow, the big bulky coats, the hats and mittens, yep, no doubt about it, the PEANUTS adventures took place right here in Minnesota!
The chance to work on this book, helped me to reconnect to my joys of childhood. I got a chance to look back at the strips and remember what it was that pulled me in, in the first place. Like all of the books I work on, I challenge myself to do something unique in the design. How can I do this so it doesn't appear I'm repeating myself. It was a bigger challenge because there have been a lot of new books printed on PEANUTS lately.
This book brought me joy, and makes me smile every time I look at it. You know, I'm very lucky and very blessed to be able to do what I love!
Monday, January 6, 2014
My design version #1 dust jacket
My design version #2 dust jacket
Published version dust jacket
Denis Kitchen and Michael Schumacher researched and wrote a very in-depth biography of Lil' Abner cartoonist, Al Capp. The book has won awards and received great critical praise. It's not a sugar coated version of his life story, but rather a dirty and gritty expose of a man who in spite of his success, remained bitter and resentful. How after achieving fame, he chose to use his celebrity to manipulate and take advantage of people. Let's just say, it ain't pretty.
Denis asked me, if I'd like to take a run at designing the dust jacket to the book. In version #1 of the dust jacket, I placed Al Capp within the setting of his comic strip. I think it's pretty obvious as he leers at Daisy Mae, what's on his mind. Lil' Abner peeks in, and doesn't seem real pleased at what's going on. This visual imagery, is foreshadowing to what can be found inside the pages of the book.
On version #2, I placed a dirty stained beat-up picture of Al Capp on top of a Sunday newspaper page of the Lil' Abner strip. I liked that the image wasn't a smiling happy glossy pristine photo. The picture has seen better days, and seems to elude to the darkside of Al Capp. I added the cigarette smoke to give it an illusion of dimension.
The bottom image, is a design of the dust jacket, that was done in-house at the publisher. This is the one they ended up going with, and what you will find on the book.
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Chapter Divider Page
Chapter Ending Page
These are some of the design pages for the second volume of IDW's John Romita's Spider-Man Artist's Edition. Since there was a first volume, I wanted there to be familiar design elements that carried over from the first book. But I also wanted it to be unique enough so it didn't seem like I was being lazy or cheating. Since I enjoy designing so much, sometimes it's hard for me not to want to create something totally different. Part of my inspiration for this design style, were book and poster designs from the early 1970s. There is a boldness in it's simplicity. Going for period accurate design is part of the challenge but also a major part of the fun!
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Here's the cover to the new Tim Bradstreet sketchbook from IDW. This is the first book, in an on going series. This format is similar to the Kaluta sketchbooks. I don't really have a lot to say about this one. I tried to keep it simple with minimum colors, as to not overwhelm the cover art. Because of Tim's subject matter, I thought adding a reptilian texture to the cover made sense.