Saturday, January 09, 2010

Is Joe Lieberman...The Devil???

Here's a fun one I just drew for the New Haven Advocate. Editor John Stoehr phoned me during the week between Christmas and New Year's to ask if I could draw a cover illo featuring Connecticut's Senator Joe Lieberman. I was happy to oblige, since I've already drawn Lieberman a bunch of times over the years, and I'm typically much more relaxed sketching a craggy politician than I am struggling with likenesses of pretty television actors, (the AMC show "Mad Men" comes to mind for some reason).

The cover story would explain how Lieberman's efforts to stall the Senate Health Care bill weren't quite as self-serving as they'd seemed. This initially struck me as a tricky subject to communicate clearly in an illo. However, when John told me that the headline would be "The Devil In The Details," I was immediately struck with this "diabolical reflection in the mirror" concept, (or perhaps I should say "re-struck," since this mirror gimmick is as old as dirt). I threw together a quick sketch, which the New Haven Advocate folks rapidly approved, and I got cracking on the final art.

Once upon a time, I maintained a four drawer file cabinet stuffed with reference photos I'd clipped from countless magazines. Now, after nearly fifteen years of continuous internet use, my swipe file is entirely digital, and I turn reflexively to Google and Yahoo for an image search at the start of every job. While tooling around the web for fresh Lieberman photos, I noticed more than a few side-by-side comparisons of Connecticut's Senator with another Senator, Star Wars' arch villain Palpatine, (who was, as far as I'm concerned, the only interesting element in the last four Star Wars movies). As I perused various JPEGs of Lieberman juxtaposed with actor Ian McDiarmid, I thought, "nah, they don't look that much alike." In spite of that thought, after a few hours spent scratching away with my leaky rapidographs under a hot lamp, I started to get a little fuzzy on whose likeness I'd just drawn.

At any rate, while I haven't yet had a chance to read the New Haven Advocate's cover story, I suspect it fails to make the case that Lieberman is either a Devil or a hooded, latex-caked Sith Lord.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmasy Illos of 2009 (Part Two): The Boston Phoenix Meets "Mad Men"

I'm hopelessly addicted to Matthew Weiner's wonderful AMC series Mad Men, so when Boston Phoenix Art Director Kristen Goodfriend asked in early November if I'd like to draw a Mad Men-themed cover, I felt the familiar rush of nervous excitement that accompanies every dream assignment. I can't speak for other illustrators, but when I'm asked to draw something that I love, the stakes are somehow higher. I suppose that's because in these rare instances, I'm working not just to please the art director, but also myself as a fan.

At first, Kristen said that the Mad Men cover would be part of the Phoenix's Ski Guide, although neither of us knew how they'd manage to connect the show to skiing. Fortunately, the editors soon decided that their Christmas Gift Guide cover would be more appropriate for the Mad Men treatment, and I agreed that this was a much better fit.

The series' third season finale, ("Shut The Door, Have a Seat") had just aired, bringing big changes to the show's storyline. I suggested that an impromptu Christmas party scene in the newly-reformed ad agency's hotel suite office might make a nice Gift Guide cover illo. Here's Sketch #1, (drawn in the midst of feverish coughs and sneezes, owing to a nasty flu):

Upon seeing the first sketch, Kristen's suggestions were (thankfully) both sensible and few in number. She felt the mood needed to be somewhat cheerier, (it's a Christmas party, after all). She also asked that Christina Hendricks, ("Joan Holloway") get central placement in the composition. With these changes in mind, and in a somewhat improved position in my battle with the flu bug, I drew Sketch #2, (which I think is noticeably better than Sketch #1):

Sketch #2 got the thumbs-up, and here's how the final art turned out:

And there was more.

While the group illo would run on the cover of the Gift Guide insert, Kristen also wanted some Mad Men art to run on the paper's front cover. Specifically, she asked for two standing figures that she could use to frame her cover lines. We quickly decided that Jon Hamm, ("Don Draper") and Christina Hendricks, ("Joan Holloway") were the show's most cover-worthy cast members, and here are the results:

But wait, there's still more!

Just when I thought I'd finished this job, Kristen asked if I could squeeze out one more quick illo for a short prose piece that would serve as the Gift Guide's intro. The story featured Sterling Cooper's creatives banging heads in Don Draper's office, deliberating over the best way to conjure the holiday spirit in a campaign. By this point, we had just a couple of days before this issue went to press, and I needed to keep this illo fairly simple in order to turn it around by deadline. Here's Sketch #1:

Kristen's response was: "If you can work in Peggy, (maybe on the right side?), it's a go!" I drew up a quick Peggy and pasted her in on the right, (don't let anyone tell you that I can't follow direction). Sketch #2:

And here's the final art for the intro illo:

Caricature-heavy assignments like this one usually leave me dazed and full of self-doubt. I found Jon Hamm particularly tough to draw, mainly because the guy is so god-damned handsome! Only in the last of the three illos did I arrive at a Don Draper likeness with which I was fully satisfied. I'll leave it to you folks to tell me how well I nailed down these likenesses, (please be gentle but firm).

Happy holidays!

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Christmasy Illos of 2009 (Part One): Village Voice Gift Guide Cover

Santa came across with some tasty illustration assignments this season, and here's the first of them.

The Village Voice's Justin Reynolds got in touch with me in early October about cover art for their yearly gift guide. He had a charming concept in mind: a sequence of four illos following the journey of a cheesy holiday sweater as it is gifted and re-gifted, finally landing right back where it started.

For me, the fun part of this assignment was coming up with the four re-gifters, all disparate urban types, none of whom would be caught dead wearing the sad snowman sweater.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Illustrations for The Onion AV Club's new book INVENTORY

In early Summer of 2008, I got an email from Keith Phipps, (editor at The Onion's AV Club) describing a book project they had in the works. It would be a book of lists, titled "INVENTORY: Sixteen Films Featuring Manic Pixie Dream Girls, Ten Great Songs Ruined By Saxophone, And One Hundred More Obsessively Specific Pop Culture Lists." Undaunted's Jon Resh was designing the book, and they were hoping I could add ten spot illos to the mix. Always eager to get some more book work under my belt, I enthusiastically signed on.

Keith sent me a heap of text in the Fall, I quickly realized that I was being handed a dream job. INVENTORY's lists covered horror films, punk rock bands, comic books, cheezy films, and pretty much every other subject that gets me drooling. The Onion folks and I haggled a bit over which ten of their 100-plus lists would get illustrated, (I still get misty eyed, remembering how my bid to draw Kirk & Spock in their "Patterns of Force" Nazi drag got nixed), but ultimately, it didn't matter. There were no duds in the bunch, and however the final picks settled out, it was all good.

Having made our choices, I got started on the roughs, and I'm pleased to say that working with Keith & Jon was smooth sailing all the way. I turned in what I thought was final art on the ten B&W illos in December 2008, only to be asked for a surprise eleventh illo. The subject of this one was the Ramones and their love of recreational drugs, (again, illustration doesn't get better than this). Another last minute surprise was the revelation that the book would be printed in Cyan as well as Black. As a longtime fan of the duotone palette, I jumped at the chance to add a second color to the illos. After a day or two of Photoshop tweaks, I turned in the final (two color) art in February of 2009, and since then, I've been perched on the edge of my seat in anticipation of seeing the finished book.

It's now October of 2009. I've finally seen a freshly-printed copy of INVENTORY, and I think everyone involved with the book should be proud. My illos printed beautifully, Jon Resh's design job is spectacular, and above all, it's just a fun, FUN book! After tearing open the package and hurriedly flipping the pages to check out my illos, I found myself immediately sucked into the book's compelling contents. After spending an hour or so just enjoying the Hell out of INVENTORY, it dawned on me that this is the first book I've been involved with that I've actually wanted to read! If you're a pop culture junkie, I'm confident you'll get a kick out of it as well.

Here are four of the eleven illos I drew for INVENTORY:

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Take On Captain America #2 (for Robert Goodin's COVERED Blog)

In January 2009, talented cartoonist, (and TYPHON contributor) Robert Goodin invited me via email to take part in his Covered project. As he put it, "I've just launched a blog called Covered that will feature artists redrawing comic covers in their own style. Participating artists will come from the fields of comics, animation, graphic design, and galleries from all over the world. Some will be well known, and some not so well known."

Needless to say, many months have passed since that invite went out, and the Covered Blog is now loaded with fun stuff. Comics fans owe it to themselves to check it out.

The Summer of 2009 brought the usual Summertime lull in illo assignments. I took advantage of the downtime by tackling a pile of fun freebie projects, including this one. It's my take on a classic wartime Captain America comic book cover, which shows the star-spangled super soldier busting in on Onkel Dolf, seconds before the fiend takes a dagger to Cap's trusty sidekick Bucky.

Here's what my Covered contribution looks like. Click on this link if you want to compare it to Joe Simon's original 1941 version.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Here's a fun cover illo I just drew for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, (one that's not too far off from the Hartford Advocate cover I posted last week).

It seems that scenic San Francisco is the latest stop for bedbugs on their nationwide comeback tour. SFBG art director Ben Hopfer wanted to give this cover feature illo the full horror movie treatment, and I was more than happy to oblige.

My first sketch shows a pair of oversized, overstuffed crawlies creeping towards a wide-eyed, screaming gal:

After seeing the first sketch, Ben asked that we see our victim asleep, since the bloodsuckers typically strike while we're snoozing. I think it's a good call, since it makes the illo even creepier. Ben also asked to see more bedbugs, so I generously piled on one additional critter, for a whopping total of three. By now, the editors had supplied their headline, so I broke out one of my trusty horror poster books for lettering reference.

Ben approved the second sketch with one last request, (more blood!), and it was time to go to final art:

Dear readers, will the next stop on the bedbugs' nationwide tour be our very own bedrooms? Let's hope not! As a bonus, here's a G-rated bedbug illo I drew for Michael Gentile at Habitat back in November of 2006:

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Weasels Ripped My Flesh: Cover Art for Hartford Advocate

Hartford Advocate managing editor John Adamian emailed me in early August with a fun cover assignment. They were doing a feature on Fishers, (a kind of large weasel that's native to Connecticut). Apparently, some folks are concerned about these Fishers, and John thought a take-off on Neon Park's classic cover art for "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" would be appropriate.

As many of you already know, the title for The Mothers of Invention's 1970 album "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" is lifted from the September 1956 issue of Man's Life. Supposedly, Frank Zappa handed the issue of Man's Life to artist Neon Park and asked him, "what can you do that's worse than this?" (Isn't that a great quote? I'm considering having it chiseled on my headstone).

So, here's my take on Neon Park's classic "Weasels" album art, with blood-crazed Fishers standing in for the electric shaving weasel:

And here's a JPEG juxtaposing the Neon Park cover with the Man's Life cover. As great as the Neon Park cover is, I feel chastened to stand in the presence of Will Hulsey, the illustrator who painted the Man's Life cover, (what phenomenal chops those guys had).

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Maxim: How Grapes Become Wine

MAXIM art director Billy Sorrentino emailed me on August 3rd with an interesting job: they needed six spots illustrating the winemaking process, and they wanted them drawn in the style of the Schoolhouse Rocks educational cartoon shorts. This assignment came my way thanks to cartoondom's preeminent style mimic, the singularly gifted R. Sikoryak, (who was too busy to take the assignment himself, and was kind enough to recommend me).

After accepting the job, I poked around on the web a little bit for some Schoolhouse Rock pix and background info. As a child of the Seventies who'd spent way too much time planted in front of the tube, I was entirely familiar with the cartoons, yet I had no clue who'd made them. I was fascinated to learn that veteran cartoon talents like Arnold Roth and Rowland Wilson did design work on Schoolhouse Rock, while the series' core style was established by the phenomenally talented advertising artist Tom Yohe, Sr., (his son, Tom Yohe Jr. would lend his talents to some of the later cartoons). Yohe, Sr. originated the long-running series in 1973 with fellow ad guys George Newell & David McCall, (along with an assist from Michael Eisner, in his capacity as VP of Childrens' Programming at ABC).

I'm sure I speak for many Americans in my demographic when I confess that whatever meager math skills I have owe directly to those delightful cartoons, (whose catchy jingles are still bouncing around inside of my skull thirty years later). I'm presently showing Schoolhouse Rocks to our three year old daughter who, in spite of being a bit young for multiplication and American history, is enjoying the cartoons thoroughly.

I've never been much good as a style mimic, so any resemblance between these illos and the source material is largely luck. I shudder to think how much closer to Tom Yohe, Sr.'s style these illos would be if R. Sikoryak had taken the assignment, but I'm sure that my shuddering will cease a few seconds after I deposit MAXIM's check.

(Masterpiece Comics, the long-overdue collection of R. Sikoryak's spectacular cartoon revisions of literary classics, is now available at Amazon ).

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

R.I.P. Ted Kennedy: Two Moldy Oldies from New York Press

At the risk of seeing this blog lurch even further in the direction of "Which Dead Celebrity Caricature Can I Post This Week?", here's a couple of old Ted Kennedy illos from the heyday of New York Press.

I was a regular contributor to NYPress from the early 1990's through the mid-2000's. My drawings often accompanied columns by Alexander Cockburn, John Strausbaugh and J.R. Taylor, but for the entirety of 1999, I provided the art for NYPress Publisher Russ Smith's notoriously Right-leaning MUGGER column.

Typically, these MUGGER illos started off with Smith phoning me on a Friday to describe whatever concept he had in mind. In one or two instances, I may have massaged Smith's concepts slightly, but generally I drew exactly what he asked for. There were dozens of illos slagging the Clintons, Al Gore, & other Democrats, while others were aimed at NYC media figures like Tina Brown, Kurt Andersen, etc.

Here's a MUGGER illo from May 1999, showing a tuxedo-clad Ted Kennedy handing the "Profiles In Courage" award to John McCain, (dressed as an extra from one of the "Rambo" films). Revisiting this one, I cringe just a bit at my McCain likeness, (my McCains would improve over the subsequent decade), but I like to think the Ted Kennedy likeness still holds up.

Next we have a cover illo for New York Press from April 2001. This was an especially fun one for me, because I got to switch into horror movie mode, (always a happy place for me). Here we see mad scientist Ted Kennedy unleashing a new generation of toothy Kennedy offspring upon the political scene, while the ghostly head of JFK looks on approvingly. Art direction by my pal, longtime NYPress art baron Michael Gentile, of course.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

R.I.P. Jacko: I'll Definitely Miss Drawing This Guy.

I'm not a Michael Jackson fan. He was undeniably talented, and I enjoyed the Jackson Five's tunes as much as any other child of the 70s. However, that does little to mitigate the allegations of child molestation and the baby-dangling episode. Toss in the hyperbaric sleep chamber, the Elephant Man's skeleton, the Mystery of the Melting Nose, the monkey, and you've got a tragic freak show that provided me with a number of fun illo opportunities before it came to a sudden stop.

Some of you may have seen this first one before, since it served as a placeholder on my old website for many months while I was pounding away on the updated site. If you HAVE seen it before, all I can say is: well, here it is again. I drew "Ecce Jacko" for publishing magnate Josh Bernstein's excellent mag ROYAL FLUSH in April, 2008. It appears in Issue #5, and I strongly urge you to buy it here.

Next we have four unlettered panels from a strip I drew for DC Comics' The BIG BOOK OF SCANDAL, which was edited by Andy Helfer, and published in 1998. The three page B&W strip, (written by Jonathan Vankin & titled "Wacko Jacko") illuminated some of the weirder episodes in Michael Jackson's career, (episodes prior to 1998, of course). I drew a heap of strips for the BIG BOOKS series, and "Wacko Jacko" has to be my personal favorite, (it's a toss-up between this one and "Other Oswalds," a strip I drew in 1995 for The BIG BOOK OF CONSPIRACIES). The BIG BOOK OF SCANDAL is available here.

I drew this next one for FHM in August of 2003, most likely for FHM Art Director Matt Warner. I'm at a loss to tell you what this illo is about, other than to look at it and say "it's a drawing of Michael Jackson sleeping with the aid of an oxygen tank, having a happy dream about Bubbles the Chimp and Liz Taylor riding the roller coaster at Neverland Ranch."

Finally, we have an illo I drew for The Wall Street Journal in August of 2001. August 28th, 2001 to be exact, two weeks before September 11th! Commissioned by WSJ Art Director Sue Foster, this illo shows Michael Jackson cavorting onstage with's CEO Jeff Bezos. Again, I have little to offer in way of explanation except to mutter the horrendously-overused cliche "it is what it is." Maybe I'd remember what the illo was about if TWO HUGE FUCKING JETLINERS hadn't---oh, never mind. So long, Jacko.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cover Art for Village Voice Summer Guide 2009

On Monday, May 4th, I was delighted to receive an email from Village Voice Art Director Ivylise Simones, asking if I'd like to draw cover art for the Voice and the Voice's Summer Guide section for the week of May 11, 2009. I've drawn covers for pretty much every alt weekly paper in the US, and I've drawn a heap of spot illos for the Voice since the mid 1990s, (in fact, I think my first professional illo assignments outside of SCREW Magazine came from Florian Bachleda at the Voice in the very late 1980s). However, this would be my first Voice cover, and I must admit that this assignment got my pulse quickening just a tiny bit.

The folks at the Voice were looking for a single drawing that could function both as the front cover, and as the cover of their pullout Summer Guide section. In addition to the Summer Guide, this issue would feature a story about NYC's mayor Mike Bloomberg butting heads with the United Federation of Teachers, and their idea was to work Bloomberg into a idyllic Central Park scene as an ice cream vendor. Their plan was to run the full illo on the Summer Guide cover, and to isolate and enlarge vendor Bloomberg for the paper's front cover. My first sketch shows Bloomberg in the vicinity of Central Park's Naumburg Bandshell, surrounded by a small handful of colorful summertime frolickers. To work in the UFT angle, our kindly Mayor dispenses popsicles to school kids while a grumpy teacher scowls nearby.

After checking out the first sketch, Voice Production Designer Justin Reynolds emailed to say that they liked the first sketch, and asked if I could widen the panorama, make Bloomberg less prominent, and give the viewer more than just a small handful of colorful summertime frolickers. My concern was that if Bloomberg was to become a smaller element in the illo, he might end up looking fairly shitty when enlarged for the paper's front cover. I suggested that instead of one illo being used for both covers, I would draw the "cast of thousands" illo for the Summer Guide cover, and draw a separate illo for the front cover focusing on Bloomberg and the kids. While I was making more work for myself at the same rate of pay, I felt that this was the best way to avoid having the front cover end up looking like shit. This was Wednesday, May 6th, and the deadline was Monday the 11th at 11 AM. The timing was a bit tight, but there was sufficient time left to get both drawings done.

The new sketch for the Summer Guide cover, (now with two heaping scoops of colorful summertime frolickers) was immediately approved.

The sketch for the front cover, (focusing on ice cream vendor Bloomberg) went through a couple of revisions, the most crucial of which featured Ivy's idea that Bloomberg should face the reader. I thought this was a fine idea, since it places the viewer in the role of one of the kids clamoring for a popsicle. This sketch was approved on Thursday, May 7th, and I got started on the final art, which would be finished at 7 AM on Monday the 11th, after four days of round-the-clock drawing.

There were a couple of minor revisions to the final art for the Voice's front cover: my original final version featured a deep red background, which Ivy felt would not print well. She suggested a light blue or yellow background, and I thought the light blue worked quite well, perhaps better than the deep red. The Bloomberg logo was deleted from the ice cream cart to make room for cover lines, and we were done!

What a thrill it was to finally draw a Voice cover! Many thanks to Ivy and Justin.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

So Long, Souter!

Justice David Souter has announced his plans to retire from the US Supreme Court, so it seems like a good time for me to dust off two illos I drew of Souter.

The first one was for the cover of SCREW Magazine issue #1,121, in the Summer of 1990, (when Bush Sr. appointed Souter). This was one of many bizarre cover concepts that leaked out of the brain of SCREW publisher Al Goldstein, to be passed along to me with a shrug by the mag's long-suffering art director Kevin Hein. Goldstein's cover concepts generally made sense to Goldstein alone, and I'm at a loss to explain what this one is about. All I can offer is that Goldstein envisioned himself and Souter as a "Laurel & Hardy" style duo, with Souter bopping Goldstein with his gavel.

Yes, I know this illo is a little shaggy, but please bear this in mind: topical SCREW covers like this one tended to have a very short turnaround. Never mind that, the goddamned thing's twenty years old, so cut me some effin' slack.

My second Souter illo is a little easier to explain. In September of 2002, JUNGLE LAW art director Marcus Villaca, (for whom I drew nearly as many illos as I drew for SCREW's Kevin Hein) tossed me a particularly fun assignment: I was to draw all twelve Supreme Court justices as superheroes, each with a unique super power. JUNGLE LAW's editors assigned Souter the title "The Galaxy's Most Boring Man," and here is the result. (if you're interested, you can check out a handful of the other illos from this job in the "LAW & CRIME" section on my website.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Gay Romance Novel Cover for The Hartford Advocate

John Adamian of the Hartford Advocate emailed me last week with a cover concept. They were doing a story about the "#amazonfail" controversy, and they wanted a cover illo parodying the cliche romance novel cover, but with a twist.

Instead of a strapping, Fabio-esque dude embracing a damsel while waves crashed nearby, our Fabio would be clutching another Fabio in his bulging arms. After a bit of thought, I suggested that, rather than twin Fabios, why not make one of them a guy in drag? The result: Sketch #1.

But there was one problem: the art would be running on the cover of three sister papers, one of which runs a big ol' strip ad along the bottom. This would require a horizontal composition with a fair amount of wiggle room, and my initial sketch, (featuring an actual paperback) was vertical. It had plenty of dead space to the left and right, but it wouldn't forgive any trimming at the bottom to accommodate the ad.

The Advocate's production manager Peter Morlock cobbled together his vision of how things could be repositioned into a horizontal shape, (see below). I wept briefly at the thought of losing the "book object" from Sketch #1, but I couldn't argue that the new version worked 100% better in the shape. I drew Sketch #2 based on Morlock's cut-n-paste number, and the final art was pretty much a traced-up, cleaned-up, full color version of the second sketch.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Two More Strange Santas

As I said in December of 2006, I hate the holidays, but I get a weird kick out of drawing Santa Claus, (I'm sure it has something to do with those Rankin Bass Christmas specials). I particularly enjoy putting Santa slightly outside of his usual context. Here are two new ones.

The first is a drawing for a Christmas card from The Onion. In this case, the Onion folks approached me with a fully-realized concept. I thought it was a cute idea, and I was thrilled for the opportunity to work for The Onion. The "Stoop Santa" drawing appears on the card's front, and when you open it, the caption reads, "he's real, yo."

I worked with Glenn Severence and Colin Tierney at The Onion's NYC office, and these cards are available for purchase here:,-yobrholiday-card-set-p-282.html

The next one is a concept that was all my own. Sal Canzonieri of the band Electric Frankenstein asked me to come up with a poster for their December East Coast tour with The Damned. Here's the result, with all the type removed for your viewing pleasure.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Four Obamas

Whew. Historically, when I've given money to a campaign, it meant that they'd either lose or drop out, (Dean, Kerry & Edwards). What a pleasure to see things done right for a change!

Here are four Obama illos from the campaign, in chronological order. The first was drawn in September 2007 for Aaron Huffman at The Stranger.

The drawing of a monitor bursting with candidates was for John Elsasser at PRSA's The Strategist in January 2008. A note about this illo: originally, this drawing had Law & Order's Fred Thompson at the top of the group, but just as I was turning in the final art, Thompson dropped out, and Mike Huckabee was on the rise. I did a quick revise, patching in Huckabee's head over Thompson's.

The drawing of Obama painting himself into a corner was a cover illo for C&E Politics, drawn in June 2008 for Jeff Brown. The original concept had Obama and Hillary Clinton engaged in a squabble over who'd slung the most mud. I thought this was a stronger concept, but for whatever reason, the folks at C&E Politics opted for a solo Obama.

Finally, at the close of a Summer laden with cinematic superhero blockbusters, we have Obama and McCain clad in brightly-colored spandex. This was a cover illo for Creative Loafing Tampa, drawn for Jason Hatcher in September 2008. This drawing was a real treat; not only did I get to draw the candidates, but I got to have a crack at few iconic superheroes, which is always fun.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rudy Ray Moore R.I.P.

To mark the passing of entertainer & Blaxploitation legend Rudy Ray Moore, (aka DOLEMITE) here's a drawing I did of the man from 1996, in the midst of the Clinton/Dole election. This illo ran in Tower Records' Pulse Magazine.

If you look closely at the color, you'll see brushstrokes and all kinds of variations in the color. This was 1996, just before I started coloring my illos digitally. Pre-1997, every color illo I did had to be shot onto a transparency, and then painted with Cel Vinyl animation paint, a process I don't miss one bit. Inevitably, I would end up holding a blow dryer over the art, desperately trying to dry the paint so I could drop the thing off at FedEx before they shut their doors.

I'm kinda bummed about Rudy Ray Moore's death. I figured he was immortal.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

TYPHON Volume One now available through PayPal!

TYPHON Volume One is now available online via PayPal!
$24.95 includes free shipping & handling within the continental US
(US orders only until further notice).
Order securely online via PayPal!

TYPHON Press Release and Sample Panels

(scroll down past press release for thirteen art samples from TYPHON Volume One)

DIRTY DANNY PRESS is proud to announce publication of a new, full-color, 192 page comics anthology called "TYPHON," available in Summer 2008.

TYPHON features new work by forty-two talented cartoonists from across the US, Canada, South America and Europe. TYPHON's contributor list includes many favorites of the alternative comics scene, as well as a number of exciting talents who will be new to most readers.

TYPHON is edited and published by Danny Hellman, who brought readers the acclaimed comics anthologies LEGAL ACTION COMICS Volumes 1 & 2 in 2000 and 2003.

“TYPHON is a departure from my previous projects, “ says editor Hellman. I’d initially set out to do a third volume in the Legal Action series, but as the contributions started coming in, I realized that I was looking at a far more ambitious book than what I’d done previously. The work presented in TYPHON covers a wide spectrum of what’s possible in comics, from zany, offbeat humor to unnerving existential angst, and on to chilling horror, all of it brought to life with breathtaking, cutting-edge artwork.”

Hellman comments, “as a comics reader, I’m a big fan of the anthology format. I first came across the work of many of my favorite cartoonists in anthologies like ARCADE, WEIRDO, RAW and DRAWN & QUARTERLY. I’m proud to carry on in the tradition of those legendary titles, and I believe that TYPHON will stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the bookshelf next to them.”
“Anthologies give us the opportunity to enjoy work by talented cartoonists who, for whatever reason, don’t produce enough material to fill out solo books. As an editor of anthologies, I’m excited to provide a showcase for artists and work that we might not see otherwise. Diversity makes for a richer comics scene.”

Danny Hellman is an internationally-published illustrator whose drawings have appeared in Time, Newsweek, Fortune, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, the Village Voice, and in countless other publications.

A partial list of TYPHON contributors' credits reads as follows:
Glenn Head- Hotwire, Snake Eyes
David Paleo-House of Twelve, Hotwire
R. Sikoryak- Hotwire, Drawn & Quarterly
Tim Lane- Hotwire
Danny Hellman- DC's Bizarro World & Big Books series, Last Gasp Comix & Stories
Henriette Valium- Zero Zero, Le Dernier Cri
David Chelsea- David Chelsea in Love
Rupert Bottenberg- Cyclope, Real Stuff
Tobias Tak- Hotwire, Blood Orange
Eric Thériault- Real Stuff, Veena
Fiona Smyth- Twisted Sisters, Nocturnal Emissions, Drawn & Quarterly
Victor (Bald Eagles) Cayro- Kramer's Ergot, Project: Superior, House of Twelve
Ken Avidor- Punk Magazine, Comical Funnies, Stop, Weirdo
Gregory Benton- Dirty Stories, DCs Big Books series, World War Three Illustrated, Project: Telstar
Rick Trembles- Motion Picture Purgatory, Sugar Diet
Pshaw- St. Ink, Arthur Magazine
Hans Rickheit- Kramer's Ergot, Paper Rodeo, Chrome Fetus Comics

ISBN: 978-0-9709363-3-2
Price: $24.95 US
For mature readers

For review copies and interviews, please contact Danny Hellman

c/o Danny Hellman
P.O. Box 901
Old Chelsea Station
New York, NY 10113-0901

Complete list of TYPHON’s contributors:
Ken Avidor, Derek Ballard, Gregory Benton, Rupert Bottenberg, DJ Bryant, Mark Campos, David Chelsea, Chris Cilla, Max Clotfelter, Patrick Dean, Bald Eagles, Chance Fiveash, Richard Gagnon, Nicholas Gazin, Robert Goodin, Glenn Head, Danny Hellman, Hugo, Hawk Krall, Tim Lane, Jeff LeBlanc, Pat Moriarty, Cliff Mott, David Paleo, Lorenz Peter, Grant Reynolds, Hans Rickheit, Pshaw, R. Sikoryak, Doug Skinner, Fiona Smyth, Steak Mtn., Takeshi Tadatsu, Tobias Tak, Eric Theriault, Matthew Thurber, Motohiko Tokuta, Rich Tommaso, Rick Trembles, Henriette Valium, Dalton Webb, & Chris Wright,

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Fifteen Famous Drunks

Here's a likeness-laden illo I drew exactly one year ago for Kristen Goodfriend at the Boston Phoenix, and I can't imagine a more appropriate week to trot it out. With an assignment like this one, (which, if I'm remembering correctly, had a three or four day turnaround), any notions about creating an eye-catching composition go right out the window. The job quickly boils down to fitting all the figures into the frame, getting the likenesses right, (hopefully) and meeting the deadline.

When Kristen called me with this assignment, it was one of those rare moments when I was simultaneously shivering with terror at the thought of cranking out fifteen caricatures over a weekend, and drooling over the opportunity to draw some of these notorious characters. Against my better judgment, I pounced; as it turned out, I got the drawing done minutes before presstime. Looking at it a year later, I'm not too unhappy with the result.

It's an odd group of legendary drinkers, (I'm sure we can all name a few who should be here but aren't), and I had to refer to last year's emails to remind myself who a couple of these folks are. Starting in the lower left corner, progressing from left to right, bottom to top, we have: Charles Bukowski, Tallulah Bankhead, Oliver Reed, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Jackie Gleason, Brendan Behan, The Pogues' Shane McGowan, Ozzy Osborne, Winston Churchill, Kingsley Amis, Guided By Voices' Robert Pollard, Red Sox pitcher David Wells, Modern Drunkard publisher Frank Kelly Rich, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and William Faulkner.

(this is one instance where I absolutely insist that you to click on the image for the enlarged version).

Sunday, January 21, 2007


I just received my comp copy of the final issue of FHM US; it's full of sentimental reminiscences by the staffers, who seem like a fun-loving, hard-partying group of folks. While these fuckers never saw fit to invite me to their Christmas parties, they certainly helped pay my rent for a few years, for which I am most grateful.

I got my first FHM illo assigment in November of 2002; then-art director Matt Warner (one of the friendliest designers I've worked for in recent memory) asked me to provide a drawing for their "True Stories" column, where readers were invited to send in embarassing real-life anecdotes. This one was about some reader's shaggy, overly-familiar dog who slobbered mud all over his master's girlfriend, who was dressed for a nice evening out.

The "True Stories" column quickly turned into a regular gig for me; soon added onto my plate was FHM's "World Of" page, for which I provided a column header illo each issue, which almost always showed some monster or miscreant menacing the globe.

Some look down their noses at FHM and the other "lad" mags; for me, FHM was the realization of every illustrator's dream: a steady monthly gig, and one which never failed to supply fun material to work with.

Matt Warner left FHM at some point in 2005 or thereabouts, after which I worked with Mac Lewis and Ian Knowles, (both of whom can be seen in the final issue's debauched staff photos).

A redesign in early 2006 killed both the "True Stories" and "World Of" pages, and generally shrunk the number of illo assignments per issue. I turned in my final illo for FHM in April of 2006; this one showed comedian Dave Chappelle lounging in his opulent living room, watching his Comedy Central co-stars struggle to salvage the wreckage of his show.

Here's a small sampling of the huge heap of illos I did for FHM between 2002 and 2006, including the very first and very last ones. Best wishes and happy landings to Mac, Ian, and everyone else at FHM US!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Strange Santas

That nightmarish, saccharine music blasting from speakers everywhere signals that Christmas is fast approaching. While I'm not crazy about the season in general, I am a big fan of all Santa imagery, the kitschier, the better. This is probably due to the fact that I spent my diapered years watching those charming Rankin Bass animated TV specials, (which I'm STILL very happy to watch, thank you). For that reason, I look forward to holiday illo assignments, and the chance to visualize some of the weirder aspects of the jolly old elf's imagined history.

Here are three strange Santa illos from recent years: the first is an illo from the Boston Phoenix , assigned to me early last month by Catherine Tumber, (while Kristen Goodfriend was away). The article was a stream-of-consciousness piece consisting of hundreds of made-up band names; things like "Christmas Vampire," "The Devil's Tomato," "Scowling Baby," etc".

(Looking at that drawing, I'm reminded that over the years, I've done a handful of similar illos featuring whimsical bands comprised of robots, giant fish, aliens, and the like; at some later date, I'll collect them all and post 'em here.)

Next is a pro bono cover I did for an odd 'zine called ODDFELLOW, where we see a rapier-wielding Santa dressed in military regalia, dueling with the mag's creepy Masonic mascot, (a character originally dreamed up by the excellent cartoonist Jason Little ).

Last is a cover I did for New York Press' Holiday Gift Guide in November of 2003, (I think this was during Nick Bilton's tenure as Art Director) where another warrior Santa prepares to drive a spear directly into the black heart of his eternal foe, Lucifer.


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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Morning Again In America.....Again?

Here's a pair of illos to help celebrate the Democratic victories in yesterday's mid-term elections.

The first is a cover illo for the Boston Phoenix, (art direction by Kristen Goodfriend) from the week of October 25th, 2006. The Phoenix was running a review of Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette," and the reviewer wanted to draw some kind of connection between the film and Bush's low approval rating. This one makes a nice bookend to an earlier one I did for the Phoenix in September of 2005, which showed Bush dressed as Nero, complete with toga, laurel leaves and fiddle, (see the post I made on August 22, 2006 for the Hurricane Katrina Anniversary).

The second illo is from September of 2002, for Alexander Cockburn's weekly column for New York Press, (art direction by Michael Gentile) and I think it's the only time I've drawn Donald Rumsfeld. Much as I would've enjoyed having another crack at the now former Secretary of Defense, I'm not sorry to see him go.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Since this is Halloween weekend, I thought I’d post a few recent illos that I’m sure you’ll agree are appropriate to the season.

First, here’s a cover illo for New York Press that ran in September of 2004; art direction by Mike McKeogh, (this was at the point when the New York Press was chewing up art directors and spitting them out faster than I could change Rolodex cards). The feature was about an historic cemetery out in Brooklyn somewhere that had fallen into disrepair in recent decades, falling prey to dope fiends, partying teens, and the like.

Readers of New York Press in its heyday may spot my sneaky in-joke: the names on the headstones are all former New York Press staffers. For reasons unknown to me, the then editors of the paper, (Jeff Koyen and Alexander Zaitchik) did not find my gag print-worthy; the art ran on the paper’s cover with the names zapped out via Photoshop. Had the paper commissioned this illo a month or two later, I might’ve added Koyen & Zaitchik’s own names to the headstones, but that’s a spooky tale for another day.

Next, it’s a cover illo for the Boston Phoenix from October of 2005, with art direction by Kristen Goodfriend. The point here was that, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the White House press corps had finally decided to remove the kid gloves and ask the President some tough questions.

The main thing I remember about this illo, (besides the thrill I felt at being asked to draw a wounded Dubya pursued by ravenous zombies), was that at some point during the process, one of Kristen’s editors asked that I put a zombified Diane Sawyer and Keith Olbermann into the mob of ghoulish reporters. I tried to point out that likenesses are extremely tough to pull off when the characters are also supposed to look like walking corpses, but the editors, God bless them, they get these kooky ideas in their heads, and they ARE in charge, so, well….I suppose that zombie in the middle kinda looks like he might be vaguely related to Keith Olbermann…sort of.

Lastly: the moment I’d heard that longtime friend of SCREW magazine “Grandpa” Al Lewis had died, (in February of 2006), I pounced for my phone and pitched a memorial cover to Mr. Kevin Hein, SCREW’s longtime art director, and my good friend. Behold the result:

A day or two after the issue went to press, I was crestfallen to discover that the birth date I’d put on the drawing was INCORRECT, thanks to the beloved Munster’s unfortunate habit of LYING about his own history. While I’m sure all of us fib about ourselves occasionally, apparently Grandpa Al told some real whoppers, including a claim that he’d been on the legal team that defended Sacco & Venzetti, (no mean feat for a four year old boy).

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Adieu CBGB!

According to reports on NPR, it appears that CBGB finally closed its doors for good this morning. I won't lose much sleep over the loss of CB's legendary music stage; like many, I can't remember the last time I went there to see a band. When I did visit the grimy club, it was invariably to see some friend's noisy band, rather than one of the seminal punk groups that made the place famous in the 70s, (unfortunately, I missed that scene by two or three years).

What I WILL mourn is the loss of CBs gallery space next door at 313 Bowery, where I spent countless merry hours during the 90's and the early 2000's attending their terrific art shows, (a handful of of which were curated by yours truly). CBs 313 Gallery was one of very few art venues in Manhattan where miscreants like me were welcome to mount large shows; their space was expansive and well-maintained, they had a great bar, and the folks who ran the place were top-notch. I have nothing but fond memories of Micheline and her crew at CBs 313, and I wish all of them the very best of luck in their future endeavors.

In observation of CBGB's closing, here's a drawing I did for an Electric Frankenstein poster in August of 2005.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Kim Jong Il Rocks!

In tribute to North Korea's successful detonation of a Hiroshima-sized atomic weapon this weekend, here's a drawing of the Glorious Leader rocking out on his Flying V in anticipation of some nifty economic sanctions.

This illo was conducted with indigenous wisdom and technology 100 percent in February of 2005. It marks a historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased Tom Carlson (Dear Leader of Riverfront Times art department) and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant illo capability.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Calendar That Wasn't

Bad news from the Bougieman: owing to Tower Records’ recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the plug has been pulled on the Cinema Sewer calendar for 2007. I’m not sure exactly what kind of arrangement Robin had with the folks at Tower; perhaps they were funding the print run, or maybe their distribution was key. In any event, Tower has pulled out, and the calendar is kaput. It’s a shame; last year’s calendar was packed with fun, and I’m sure this one would’ve been even better.

Here are two drawings I’d contributed to Robin’s calendar; the first was for the cover, (a scene of monster mayhem at your local drive-in cinema), and the second was for the month of December, (showing Santa Claus in his little-known side gig as vampire hunter coming up against Christopher Lee’s Dracula). As one would imagine, I’m bummed that these two drawings won’t be seeing print, (at least until I can figure out some way to repurpose ‘em), so in an effort to dry my tears, here they are in all their low-res digital glory.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Hurricane Katrina Anniversary

In observance of the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, here's a cover illo I did for Kristen Goodfriend at the Boston Phoenix; this illo ran the week of September 9, 2005.

The main thing that I remember about this one, (besides drooling over the opportunity to draw Dubya as Nero fiddling while New Orleans drowned), was the question of which musical instrument to place in Bush/Nero's hands. The stickler for historical accuracy in me insisted that it be a lyre, (no fiddles in Ancient Rome), but my inner pragmatist knew that a modern-day fiddle would do a better job of putting the idea across. Pragmatism won the day, but for anyone who might be curious, I've included an early rough sketch to show what the illo would've looked like with the lyre.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Four Spot Illustrations for New York Press, 2004-2005

Who knows what goes on at New York Press these days? I certainly don’t. The last bit of New York Press news I heard was from recently-departed art director Mike Weber, who I ran into at the release party for Glenn Head’s comics anthology HOTWIRE on May 19th at ROCKETSHIP.

Mike W. told me he’d left New York Press after receiving an edict from the editors banning illustration from the paper. Sad news for me, not because I’m jonesing for more of those notoriously low-paying NYPress illo assignments, but because the paper had a long history of hiring talented, offbeat illustrators, (a pattern established by the paper’s founding art director Michael Gentile back in the late 80’s). I’ve done literally hundreds of drawings for New York Press in the years since I first tiptoed into Michael Gentile’s cubicle with my portfolio; I made lots of friends at the paper, whooped it up at many of their lavish parties, and my wife Linda and I met at the paper. I have a certain amount of sentimental attachment to New York Press, but nowadays I avoid those green plastic boxes on NYC sidewalks because it depresses me to see how far downhill the paper has slid in recent years.

I’m not sure how many art directors have come and gone since Russ Smith sold New York Press in 2003; I’d guess at least five people have landed briefly in that overworked, underpaid spot. Here are four illos I did for New York Press between late 2004 and the middle of 2005; the art directors could’ve been any of the following folks: Roxy Wu, Nick Bilton, Mike Mc Keogh, Jennifer Rodriguez, Christine Baczewska.

Cross-dressing performer Murray Hill:

Poet & playwright Gertrude Stein, (crooning, for some reason):

Jazz pianist Bill Charlap & the ghost of George Gershwin:

The Booty Call in the age of Cellular Phones:

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Fourth!

This illo isn't the freshest in the shop, (it's about two years old), but I can't think of a better way to express the patriotic feelings welling up inside me on this special day. The illo ran as a tiny sidebar column spot in Jungle Law magazine, (who still owe me money) and I believe the art direction was by either Marcus Villaca or Vanessa Ramos-Velasquez.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Batum Schrag CD cover art

Here's a piece of art I just turned in for the Seattle-based band BATUM SCHRAG. The CD's title is "Throwing Stones," and I hope I get my hands on the finished discs soon, so I can finally hear what these folks sound like.

Friday, June 30, 2006

BOSKO #1 Launch Party Pix

On June 14th, I stumbled over to the East Village's charming BOXCAR LOUNGE to spend a few precious, beer-soaked moments with the legendary cartoonist (and PUNK Magazine co-founder) JOHN HOLMSTROM to celebrate the debut of BOSKO #1. Comics fans worldwide have spent countless sleepless nights tossing and turning on their tattered futons, wondering when "America's Least Favorite Cartoon Character " would finally get his own comic book; I'm glad to say that the long wait is finally over!

BOSKO #1 is a slick, full-color comic book, (approximately 36 pages), and as far as I know, this is the first comic book to bear the proud imprimatur of PUNK Magazine, (if you need me to explain what PUNK Magazine is, you should go away, study everything on this page, and come back when you're done). Inside the covers of BOSKO #1, you'll find the exploits of (who else?) Bosko, a hard-drinking, good-natured smart-ass; you'll also find a true-life tale of 70's era NYC terror as Holmstrom, Ken Weiner (a.k.a. Ken Avidor) and their drunken pals go toe-to-toe with a pack of belligerent bridge & tunnel goons. Many of these strips are brand new, some are not-so-new, (although appearing in color here for the first time), but all are great fun and definitely worth your $4.95. Support the PUNK Magazine publishing empire and buy direct from the PUNK website!

Snapshots from the BOSKO #1 launch party at BOXCAR LOUNGE:

The man himself, JOHN HOLMSTROM takes us on a tour of his tonsils

SCREW alums KEVIN HEIN and ERIC DANVILLE soak in the glory of 2-for-1 draught beers

NEW YORK PRESS alums (and ghost hunters) MIKE WARTELLA and TANYA RICHARDSON join Holmstrom in a dizzying kaleidoscopic whirlwind of all things BOSKO, (and no, that is NOT a clip-on beard)

Art for Cinema Sewer Calendar 2006

Last week, I turned in two pieces of art for Robin Bougie's CINEMA SEWER Calendar for 2007, so this seems like a good time to post the two illos I did for LAST year's calendar. The first illo ran on the calendar's cover, and the second illo was for the month of December, (Santa & Co besieged by Toho monsters Godzilla, Ghidorah, and Mothra). The two illos I did for this year's calendar are in a similar vein, but I think it's best that I keep them under wraps until the calendar hits the shelves, (I think these calendars are available at Tower Books).

For those unfamiliar with the mag, CINEMA SEWER is a great zine dedicated to schlock films; in addition to tons of film reviews, features and zany comic strips, editor (and talented cartoonist) Bougie hand-letters every page of each issue, which gives the mag a unique, handmade (yet very readable) feel. I always have a lot of fun drawing for CINEMA SEWER, because it's one of the few opportunities I get to really cut loose and do some wild stuff. Here's another drawing I did in the Summer of 2004 for the cover of CINEMA SEWER #15.