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SDCC 2017 July 18, 2017 00:00

And in the blink of an eye, it's time again for SDCC! Jess and I will be heading down today but before we go I wanted to give everyone a heads up on the new things we'll be bringing!


First up, enamel pins! The lead characters from our "Rescue Sirens" series - Nim, Kelby, Echo, Pippa, and Maris - have been carefully translated into these detailed nickel finish pins, plus a gold-toned "Rescue Sirens" emblem pin. Pins are something I've enjoyed collecting over the years, and Jess had the great idea to make a set of our own for San Diego! Hurry over to our booth (#4616) to see them in person!




Something I recently did just for the fun of it, was to generate chibi versions of the Rescue Sirens characters. They became the basis for the enamel pins, but Jess thought they would also make a great set of stickers. And here they are! These heavy weight stickers have great color and a gorgeous pearl finish. Really, really beautiful. They'll look great on a computer, a lunchbox, the bumper of your electric car, or even the control panel of a super-collider or tail fin of the next Space-X rocket. If they allow such things, that is. 


Once we saw how beautifully the Rescue Sirens stickers turned out, we thought we might grab some favorite illustrations from past sketchbooks and give them the sticker treatment as well. Here's four of my most popular pin-ups, as well as my good friend Ogo, looking quite happy with himself indeed.


But that's not all we'll be bringing. Jess and I are very happy to announce our first children's book, "Rescue Sirens and the Great Fish Round-Up." Beautifully illustrated by Dylan Bonner, this 32 page book has a great story all about our five mermaids saving the Miami Beach waters from some carelessly dumped aquarium pets. This is an engaging story for all ages, teaching the younger set (and all the rest of us) about the dangers of invasive species, as well as teamwork and keeping the ocean clean.

Jess's writing is fast and fresh, and Dylan's illustrations have the charm, joy, and vibe of classic Mary Blair drawings. We have a limited number of these advanced copies, so be sure to come by our booth early and pick one up for yourself.

This book is also splash-resistant, due to being printed on special synthetic paper pages. So you can read this "Rescue Sirens" book by the pool, ocean, or tub with confidence that a little water won't spoil it. Just wipe the pages dry if they get splashed and the book is as good as new! - We recommend you not leave the book to dry on its own, as the pages can tend to stick together. But with a gentle toweling-off, it will be ready for another read!


We'll also be bringing some copies of last year's debut, "Kiskaloo: Volumes 1 and 2." If you haven't picked one up yet, it's the collected first and second series of my web comic all about a little girl named Sesi, her older sister Autumn, and Ogo, their wretched little cat. They all live in a fictional town in Northern Alaska named Emergency, where odd things tend to happen.


If you like "Kiskaloo," and are familiar with its lead character Ogo, and wish to take an Ogo home with you, then you're in luck, as we'll be bringing a limited number of Ogo plush with us to Comic Con this year. He's soft, cuddly, and naughty. Don't leave him alone with your chocolate chip cookies or root beer lest they disappear!


One of the most frequently asked questions I get every year is whether or not I'll be bringing original art to San Diego. In the past I've resisted this, mostly because I don't have anything I'd want to part with. This year, however, I'll be bringing a few original inked drawings with me that will be available for purchase. Drawn and inked especially for Con this year, I'll have two to four inked originals with me. They won't be cheap, as I don't like to sell drawings, but I am possessed for some reason to do this. Created purposely for sale, these unusual offerings will likely appear in future sketchbooks, and the inking quality is what I would consider to be perfect. Suitable for framing, brush and Winsor-Newton ink on bristol, these are large: 14"x17".

You can find all this (and us) at booth #4616, in the Artists & Illustrators neighborhood. See you there!

Mer-May #rescuesirensfanart Contest May 22, 2017 00:00

My wife and "Rescue Sirens" co-author Jessica Steele-Sanders and I first heard the term "Mer-May" back in 2015. I loved the idea of a whole month devoted to all things mermaid -- but we couldn't celebrate or participate in it that year because "Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist" was still being finalized, and we didn't want to let the cat(fish) out of the bag just yet.

Then, in 2016, fellow Disney artist Tom Bancroft debuted his swell #MerMay drawing challenge on Instagram. There's nothing more fun than drawing mermaids, and it's been great seeing mermaid artwork all over the place last year and this year. Inevitably I'm swamped with other assignments and don't usually have the time to participate in the mermaid fun, but this year I did scrounge up a few hours to draw and ink something! So to celebrate getting an actual mermaid drawing done in Mer-May, I'm offering up something VERY rare this month: that original inked drawing, depicting one of our "Rescue Sirens" characters. I almost never part with my drawings, so if you've ever wanted one, this is your chance!


How do you go about acquiring such a thing? Well, Jess and I are running a "Rescue Sirens" fan art contest, with this 11"x14" chibi-style drawing of Rescue Siren Nim as the prize.


Here are the rules to enter:

  1. Follow our @rescuesirens Instagram account.
  2. Draw one (or more!) of our five main "Rescue Sirens" lifeguard mermaid characters.
  3. Include the words "Rescue Sirens" somewhere in the image (drawn into the illustration, superimposed digitally, written on a separate piece of paper placed atop your drawing if you photograph it -- however you prefer).
  4. Post to your PUBLIC Instagram account with the hashtag #rescuesirensfanart so we can find your entry!
  5. Tag/mention @rescuesirens in your post.
That's it! A winner will be announced next Monday, May 29th.

Have you already shared "Rescue Sirens" fan art on Instagram in the past? You don't have to draw something new if you don't want to: just go back and add the hashtag #rescuesirensfanart to your original post so we know that you want to be counted amongst the contest entrants.

Best of luck, everyone, and happy drawing!

(Obligatory disclaimer: this contest is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by Instagram.)

"KISKALOO: Volumes 1 and 2" now on Amazon! December 12, 2016 11:10

For those of you wishing to pick up the latest collection of KISKALOO, I have some good news: the KISKALOO collection is now available on Amazon!

This blue softback book collects all of the newest comics as well as every comic from the first published collection from years ago, making this book the only one you need.

(Be aware that this collection is currently shipping only to domestic customers, and is not yet available internationally. We will be the first to inform you should this change! Till then, please continue to follow Ogo's antics at www.kiskaloo.com.)

So hurry to Amazon, and their wonderful network of trucks and drones and invisible airplanes will deliver to your doorstep all the evil and naughtiness one small cat can manifest, which is plenty indeed!


HAPPY HALLOWEEN! October 31, 2016 13:30

So here's the finished, colored witch drawing! Even though I draw and ink everything traditionally, I do scan the finished piece and often color it digitally.

The reason for this is simple: the computer allows me to experiment with color choices I would never risk if an original ink was on the line. I have indeed lost some well-liked drawings to painting disasters in the past, and, for me, death by color is never quick. It starts with a bad color choice or bobble somewhere, and then me trying to correct it, which causes something else to go wrong, and so on and so forth until I'm staring down at a terrible mess and I'm forced to concede that the drawing died a few hours back.

So here's to the arrival of Photoshop color! If you missed the process videos showing the preparation and then inking of this drawing, you can check out Part 1 and Part 2.


And of course, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!


INKtober - Part 2 October 31, 2016 00:18

Let me stop right here for a moment and tell you how blown away I was by this video that my wife Jess edited. By Friday morning, I'd already dumped 1 1/2 hrs of video on her, and then proceeded to add another four pick up shots to complete the inking continuity. As I spent the day coloring the image, she methodically worked to assemble, trim, speed up, and pace this. Long day and story short, by the time we went to the gym she'd finished the video you'll see here! I am absolutely enchanted by this, and have watched it about ten times now. Jess really shaped something marvelous. I hope you like it as much as I do. I think you will.


Okay, so this is the inking part of the inking video set. (To see Part 1, which shows the rough sketch being enlarged, cleaned up, and transferred to Bristol for inking, go here.) As for materials, I like a Winsor & Newton Series 7 #1 brush. For ink, nothing beats Winsor & Newton black Indian ink. The one with the spider on the label, not the dragon. The ink from the spider label bottle is made from the blood of a giant space spider and is collected at great risk and expense and is the blackest black I've ever run across. The ink from the dragon label bottle is made from people who work as coal sculptors blowing their noses and collecting what comes out in bottles and calling it ink.

If you haven't yet done this and are thinking of trying it, let me urge you to use a real sable brush. Years ago while I was working at Disney, I was staying late, trying to ink something. It wasn't going well. I had tried doing this before, and it always, always, always ended in sadness, defeat, and piles of horrid, tortured little inked characters that looked like they'd been put through a special machine designed to make things appear as though an anteater that had been freshly run over had, as his final act, dipped his tongue in ink and tried to draw something.

I was on, like, the seventh one of these tiny disasters when Richard Vander Wende happened by. Richard is an incredible artist who can draw and paint anything. Anything. He was working on Aladdin at the time, helping define their style, and was apparently also working late. As he passed by my desk I did that thing where I leaned over my drawing like I was having a stomach ache so he wouldn't see the shameful state of what I was doing.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"I'm... I'm trying to ink. But it isn't going very well," I said in a low and ashamed tone as I straightened up to reveal my tragic drawings.

He considered this for a moment, then said...

"Do you mind if I give you some advice?"

Now advice from Richard is something to be listened to, and I fatefully said "yes."

And this is one of those moments that was a turning point in my life. He said something so simple and important.

"You're using a really cheap brush. If you want that stuff to work you need to spend some money on a sable brush."

Richard then showed me a proper sable brush and how it holds a point and can be mooshed almost flat and then return to a beautiful point. He showed me that you can re-shape it any number of ways and it will resiliently return to a razor-sharp point in an instant.

This changed everything for me. I went and spent a staggering (for the time) twenty dollars on a brush and instantly... instantly, my inking got better. Not just better, but by then end of an hour I was pretty much doing everything I'd hoped I'd be able to do when I started trying to ink in the first place. So if you want to do this sort of thing, find the right brush for you. But I'd advise finding a sable brush as a starting point.

And all of this is to produce something that simply can't be accomplished digitally. You will have a magical thing called an original. By definition there is nothing else quite like it. Yes, it's a lot of work to take all these steps, but in the end I have an inked piece that is immune to power failures, format changes, EMP, and computer crashes. Go to a comic con and spend the day looking through old inked pages and paintings and tell me you'd prefer those artists had drawn and inked them digitally. Last I looked, an original "Peanuts" comic strip starts at something like ten thousand dollars. But the best part is seeing the lines, the hints of pencil, the expert lettering. Knowing that actual page spent time with the artist and vice-versa.

And before you say it (because someone always says it), my drawing has every property of a digital drawing as well, since I've already scanned it. The best of both worlds!