According to every third post on Facebook this week, apparently we had a Batman Day. (The other two thirds of the posts were about Comic Con and cats.) I was not aware we had a holiday to celebrate Batman, so I seem to have missed it.
I like Batman, so I want in on the celebration. I took a little time to reimagine the Dark Knight as someone who enjoyed the luxuries of his fame a little too much. By the time Bruce Wayne reached middle age, he probably was a little soft around the middle, needed glasses, and got to the point where he just didn’t care about shaving. The fact that this version slightly resembles me is in no way my fantasy of hurling myself through the night to rescue citizens in distress with cool gadgets while wearing an unwieldy cape. If I were to do that, I would go without the cowl and take all the credit as Chadman.
Well, enjoy (or enjoyed) Batman Day. I have to run. Some spotlight in the sky just got my attention…
Well, today is the BIG day! Dark Horse Comics, in collaboration with the Comic Art Professional Society (CAPS), has released The Sakai Project, a beautiful 9×12″, 160 page hardcover book of artists’ interpretations of Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo comic book character that he has been writing and drawing for the past thirty years. Its big splash debut is at the San Diego Comic Con where it is likely to be THE book to take around to artists to get autographed.
The book came about because CAPS (of which I am a member) started a fundraiser auction to help Stan Sakai with bills that exceeded his health insurance coverage in the care of his wife, Sharon, who has brain cancer. So many artists started sending in original creations of Usagi Yojimbo, that auction organizer Tone Rodriguez thought there ought to be a book! Mike Richardson, head honcho of Dark Horse Comics, generously offered to pay for the publication of the book with all sales going directly to Stan & Sharon.
Back in April I shared with you my piece, but I’ll share it again here. It appears on page 30 in the book, right next to my friend Michael Jantze who draws The Norm comic strip. Page 30 in a 30th anniversary book is not too shabby. The painting has found a good home somewhere when it was sold on eBay back in May to help the Sakais.
So, go to your local comic book shop today and pick up this GREAT tome. You will get to see some amazing art by folks like Mike Mignola, William Stout, Sergio Aragonès, J. Scott Campbell, Bill Sienkiewicz, Tone Rodriguez, Geof Darrow, Tim Sale, Kazu Kibuishi, Adam Hughes, Art Adams, Neal Adams, Frank Cho, Jack Davis, Matt Wagner, and the list goes on and on!
You will also be helping out one of the sweetest couples I know, Sharon & Stan Sakai.
Yeah, yeah, I know. You are probably thinking “Easter was last weekend. Why did he save the bunny for this weekend?” Well, I’ll tell you…
My good friends Stan & Sharon Sakai have been going through a tough time over the past couple of years. Sharon has had an inoperable brain tumor for many years that slowly started altering her quality of life. While she was able to function normally for several years, in the past two years it really took hold and has made it so that she is completely dependent on 24/7 medical care with random emergency visits to the hospital (where she happened to go once again this week with pneumonia).
Stan happens to be a fellow cartoonist having created the comic book Usagi Yojimbo (published by Dark Horse Comics) that is celebrating it’s 30th birthday this year. As a freelance artist, Stan has indeed had medical coverage for his family, but Sharon’s around-the-clock care has required more than what his insurance will cover.
The members of CAPS (the Comic Art Professional Society based in Burbank, CA), of which I am a member and a former president, got together and decided to put together a fundraiser for Stan & Sharon. Many fans and colleagues started sending in thousands of dollars for this dear couple, and original art also began pouring in.
Many artists were sending in original creations of Stan’s ronin rabbit, Usagi Yojimbo. It became evident that there was more that could be done than just sell the art. Why not a book? Dark Horse quickly gravitated to the idea and offered to pay for the publication and promotion of a book with all the proceeds from the sales going to the Sakais. The book was put together as CAPS’ first major publication under the guidance of CAPS member and professional editor Bill Morrison.
The book will be released in July just in time for the San Diego Comic Con, and can be pre-ordered from your local comic book shop right now! It will include art by Jack Davis, Mike Mignola, Adam Hughes, Tim Sale, Frank Cho, Bill Morrison, Sergio Aragonès, Stephen Silver, Dean Yeagle, Kazu Kibuishi, Oscar Martin, Dan Brereton, Art Adams, Joyce Chin, Jeff Smith, Tom Richmond, Al Jaffee, Tom Richmond, Craig Thompson, Eric Powell, and hundreds more. Stan himself did the cover art which CAPS will be selling on eBay in the coming weeks.
In fact, all the original art that was donated by the artists is being sold by CAPS on eBay right now! Since March 6, CAPS has been listing 35-40 items each Thursday evening with auctions ending ten days later on Sunday evening. While it would be swell of you to be bidding on lots of great items as I have been, it would be even sweller if you bid on MY piece. It just went live on eBay last night!
I very rarely part with my original art, especially fully painted illustrations like this one. If I did, I would be asking $1,500.00 for this one. CAPS started this piece at $9.99 and there is NO minimum. This is a chance to acquire one of my published pieces for a potentially VERY good deal. More than that, you would be helping a very sweet couple in need.
Together with a terrific committee of fellow cartoonists and writers at CAPS (the Comic Art Professional Society) in Burbank, CA, I have been busy helping put together a benefit auction and book (to be published in July by Dark Horse Comics) all to help our cartoonist brother Stan Sakai (creator of Usagi Yojimbo) with medical bills surrounding the care of his sweet wife, Sharon. Today, after months of planning & organizing, we released the official press release explaining the details of what promises to be an AMAZING sale! I even created a special painting just for this that I’ll post here closer to when it will be sold.
Read on and share in our excitement!
CAPS TO LAUNCH ART AUCTION FEATURING ORIGINAL WORKS BY MATT GROENING, JACK DAVIS, MIKE MIGNOLA, J. SCOTT CAMPBELL, ADAM HUGHES AND HUNDREDS MORE TO BENEFIT FELLOW CARTOONIST STAN SAKAI AND FAMILY
On Thursday, March 6, 2014, Southern California’s CAPS, the Comic Art Professional Society, will launch an ongoing series of eBay auctions of original comic art. Its goal is to raise funds for medical care for Sharon Sakai, the wife of respected cartoonist and longtime CAPS member Stan Sakai, creator of the samurai rabbit USAGIYOJIMBO. Sharon has been battling a debilitating brain tumor for some time; after an extended hospital stay and convalescence, she is currently at home, but her condition requires 24-hour care and medicine that costs more than the Sakai’s insurance covers. 100% of the proceeds of these auctions will go directly to Stan and Sharon Sakai to help pay their ongoing medical expenses.
The CAPS auctions will be conducted through eBay.com beginning on Thursday, March 6, with a new set of auctions every following Thursday. Each auction, sold under the seller name of “CAPSauction“, will be ten days in length with twenty to forty items in each set of auctions. The donations of original artwork and collectibles (including newly created art unique to this event, vintage comic book pages, comic strips, illustrations, animation art, limited edition statues, and IDW Artist’s editions books) number over three hundred with new items arriving every day.
Contributors include: Adam Hughes, Alex Maleev, Arthur Adams, Batton Lash, Eric Powell, Jan Duursema, Jerry Ordway, Jordi Bernet, Matt Groening, Michael Allred, Mike Mignola, Paul Gulacy, Sanjuliàn, Scott Shaw!, Jim Steranko, Tim Sale, William Stout, Bill Sienkiewicz, Cameron Stewart, Dan Brereton, Daniel Parsons, Dave Gibbons, Dean Yeagle, Doug Sneyd, Dustin Nguyen, Bill Morrison, Tone Rodriguez, Sergio Aragonés, Fabio Moon, Francisco Francavilla, Gene Ha, Geof Darrow, Gilbert Hernandez, Jack Davis, James O’Barr, Kevin Eastman, Jeff Lemire, Jeff Smith, Kazu Kibuishi, Liam Sharp, Tom Richmond, Michael Jantze, Olivia, Oscar Martin, Paul Chadwick, Richard Corben, Tom Mandrake, Walter Simonson, Charles Vess, Dan Spiegle, J. Scott Campbell, Chad Frye and many more.
Many of the pieces featuring Usagi Yojimbo will appear in a new oversized hardcover book from Dark Horse, THE SAKAI PROJECT: ARTISTS CELEBRATE THIRTY YEARS OF USAGI YOJIMBO, which will be released on July 23, 2014. All proceeds from this book will go to Stan and Sharon Sakai. Much of the custom Usagi Yojimbo art created for this book will also be sold as a part of CAPS’ online auctions.
Since about 1997, I have belonged to a professional cartoonist organization called CAPS. It was founded back in the 70s by MAD Magazine stalwart Sergio Aragonès, writer Mark Evanier, and cartoonist Don Rico. I have really loved being a part of this group that meets monthly in Burbank, CA. We get together, have special speakers, and talk shop.
At one point, I started getting involved in the group, even serving as its president for a spell. One duty that I took on was as co-editor of the monthly newsletter. The other editor was Disney Legend Floyd Norman (check out a new book about Floyd HERE). Floyd and I would take turns every other month as it was quite a job putting together what often was a 32 page beast. If you couldn’t get members to write articles, the editor wrote them. If the members couldn’t spell, the editor had to spell. If there were no pictures submitted, the editor had to find some. If no one came through in drawing the cover, yep, the editor did it.
This piece is one of those times I had to come up with a cover idea, likely at the last minute. It was a fun challenge when the need arose, because deadlines would be so tight that it sometimes ended up being like cartoonist improv – whatever came to mind at that moment is what blorted out of your brush.
I think this image came to mind because I was always seeing grown men be so business minded to where there was no sight of the kid inside. While the titans of industry would be reading The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek, they probably started off reading comic books. Even cartoonists sometimes get caught up in the work of being a cartoonist that they can forget what that feeling of pure joy and escapism a few minutes with a comic book would bring when we were kids. Comic books are likely what got us interested in being cartoonists in the first place!
I came from a world where both business AND comics were an influence, and both came from my own father. Dad was a mortgage banker, but he grew up on comic books. When I was too young to read, he would sit there and read me tales of adventure from his old childhood comic books. His favorite character was Disney’s Uncle Scrooge of course. Scrooge, in stories by the great Carl Barks, became my favorite, too. But Dad didn’t stop there. Every day we would spread out the comics from the newspaper and he would read those to me as well. Peanuts, Nancy, Dennis the Menace, The Family Circus, and Beetle Bailey were all favorites.
I’m positive that my love for cartooning came from those reading sessions with Dad, and he taught me a lot about business, too. I’m glad, because the two go together. A cartoonist often finds himself working as a freelancer.
So, as life moves you forward, never forget the joy of the comics that you enjoyed as a kid. They’ll keep you young.
And to those of you who are cartoonists in the Los Angeles area, CLICK HERE to see what CAPS is all about. April’s monthly meeting just happens to be tonight where they will have a terrific panel (including Sergio Aragonès) talking about Will Eisner – the godfather of the graphic novel.
I was going through some of my old art the other day, and came across this small Donald Duck watercolor/colored pencil piece I did just for fun a few years back. It was painted around the time I was finishing up my time working on two seasons of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I LOVED drawing those classic Disney characters for the time I was given, and still will often doodle Mickey and the gang on scratch paper while talking on the phone.
Did you know that long before I worked on Donald for animation, I wrote a six-page Donald Duck story for Disney comics, too? I talk about that a little bit on my website. You can check that out by CLICKING HERE!
At any rate, enjoy this Donald Duck piece from the bygone year of 2009.
This past summer I was contacted by Daniel Stelzer, Art Director for Answers Magazine, to possibly work on an illustration assignment for them. I had not seen Answers Magazine before, and learned that it is a magazine that deals with scientific issues and other worldview topics all from a biblical perspective. It is the periodical produced by the Answers in Genesis organization, the folks that are behind the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky.
Dan had sought me out having seen some of my previous work created for a series of Bible lessons for kids. He said he wanted me to create five pages of graphic novel-style illustrations all about the details of how a white blood cell works. The graphic novel thing I understood because I’m a cartoonist, but also because I’m a cartoonist, I couldn’t figure out why he wanted me to do serious science art. After a pause on my part, I said,
“You’ve seen the work on my website, right?”
“And you don’t want me to put funny faces on the cells?”
“It’s just straight up micro-biology illustrations?”
So, the challenge presented in this assignment was intriguing. The white blood cell process had to be turned into a panel-by-panel “story” so that it would be more readily understood by the layman picking up this magazine. I decided to accept this mission, knowing full well that the magazine might disavow any knowledge of me should I screw it up.
They provided rough thumbnail concept sketches of what they wanted, and since I don’t happen to have a microscope of my own, they also sent some great reference material to help me along. We were dealing with real science and nothing of fantasy, so it had to be right. This meant we had MANY discussions back and forth discussing each step in my creative process which included rough drawings, tight pencil drawings, a rough color pass, and then final color. Changes were made along the way to make sure some things were more accurate while others were more understandable.
Stylistically, the Art Director liked my previous work with watercolor, but also liked the sophisticated computer coloring found in many graphic novels today. So, I had to come up with a hybrid of methods to pull off a look that was both slick and organic. The art ended up having an inked line as you would see in comic books, with a coloring job that combined traditional watercolor paint and additional Photoshop work. I thought the combination of methods turned out pretty good….
If you’d like to see a little more of my work on this project, including some preliminary stages of the art, you should check out Answers Magazine on Facebook where they posted some extra steps in the process of this article.
Or, if you’d like to order your own copy of the magazine with all five pages of the published art in it, it is available now in the Oct-Dec 2010 issue. Just go to Answers Magazine‘s website and contact them about ordering this special issue!
Well, it’s almost that time once again – the first Saturday in May is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY!!! Comic shops around the country will be promoting this cultural phenomenon in publishing by GIVING AWAY comic books printed just for this occasion! I’m a big one for stuff for the kiddies. I grew up reading Disney Comics, and my tastes have not changed. I still read Disney Comics, and more recently, some great Muppet comic books all published by Boom Comics.
Speaking of Boom, they have a special Toy Story comic book that you may be able to find out there in your local comic shop on May 1st:
For the grown-ups who like the history and behind-the-scenes of the comic arts, my friends Tom Heintjes and David Folkman who publish Hogan’s Alley Magazine will once again be giving away a free copy of their great publication to anyone who e-mails them ON MAY 1st! Hogan’s Alley is always chock-full of wonderful insightful articles about the creators of some of your favorites in the world of cartooning. Here is the offer in their words:
Why so glum, chum? We’re here to deliver a glimmer of cheer! Mark your calendars for this Saturday, May 1: Free Comic Book Day. Send us an e-mail ON THAT DATE with your mailing address, and we’ll send you a FREE issue of Hogan’s Alley! No obligations, no strings attached; the only thing it will cost you is several hours as you enjoy the issue. (This offer is valid for all U.S. residents, whether you’re a current subscriber or not.) Remember the one condition—we must receive your e-mail request (sent to email@example.com) on Free Comic Book Day (May 1), not the day before or the day after. (Before and after that date, any requests for freebies will receive only scorn and derision.)
So, if you’d like to see what Free Comic Book Day is all about, and whether there are special events and creator signings at a store near you, visit FreeComicBookDay.com!