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.
Two weeks ago at The Writer’s Guild in Beverly Hills, CA, entertainment legends Carl Reiner and Dick Van Dyke had a conversation on stage on the occasion of the release of Mr. Van Dyke’s new autobiography. Hosted by Writers Bloc Presents, these two legends swapped tales and memories before a rapt audience of which I was very happy to be a part.
As a child, it was quite easy to become a fan of Dick Van Dyke due to Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, only to further appreciate his talents with The Dick Van Dyke Show, and many other projects all the way up to the fairly recent Night at the Museum. When first arriving in California in 1997 to work for Disney, I was hoping that would be my ticket to finally meet Dick Van Dyke. Turns out that ticket was a wee bit elusive.
Every now and then, I would hear that friends of mine would have met him at the computer convention Siggraph that I would also be attending. Others would meet him on the Disney lot now and then, even once making a planned appearance with Julie Andrews at the renaming of one of the Disney soundstages in Ms. Andrews’ honor. Where was I? Foolishly working.
A few years ago, the charity group Actors and Others for Animals [click here to see my previous post on this group] were having their annual fundraising banquet in honor of Dick Van Dyke. Mary Willard, the very funny wife of the very funny Fred Willard, called and asked if I might be willing to draw their personal ad for the program book. How could I resist an opportunity to draw Dick, Fred and Mary? Better yet, the job came with an invitation to the event where one would certainly have the opportunity to shake the hand of the rubbery master of mirth himself!
After completing the whimsical ad for the Willards, my anticipations for meeting Mr. Van Dyke were growing exponentially each day. In a cruel twist of fate, those same precious anticipations were frigidly dashed yet again. The banquet was being held at the same time I was scheduled to be on the opposite side of the country on vacation with my family!
It was beginning to feel as though Dick Van Dyke was a myth that parents made up to tell their children about on cold winter nights. “Twas the night before movies, when over the lot it happens, a tall lanky sweep appears, that guy from Mary Poppins….” Seriously, I was beginning to wonder if I needed to hang a plate of tea and cakes from the ceiling at night to see if he would appear. Or at the least, add an ottoman to my office decor.
Well, Virginia, there really is a Dick Van Dyke. Last year, several years after parting from Disney myself, I was attending a private reception when I turned around and there before me was the man behind Bert, Rob Petrie, Caractacus Potts, Dr. Sloan and so many others. I finally was able to shake his hand, and thank him for being a part of filling my own head with imagination as a child that indubitably continues within me today.
A couple of weeks ago I was in some slow traffic on my way to work, when I was startled to see one of my creations giving me the thumbs up on the side of a mini-van that came up alongside of me. It was as if he was saying, “Good job on your driving, Citizen!” I had heard of the Captain Traffic van before, and yet had never seen it for myself. There he was promoting safe driving on a van that was passing me on the right.
Back in 2001, I was working at Walt Disney Feature Animation. One of my friends there, Brett Drogmund, was leaving to form his own company that included a fully legal online traffic school here in California. He and his business partner wanted to have a character that would be the ambassador for the business. Together we created Captain Traffic, and not long afterwards, ComedyTrafficSchool.com was born.
I was fairly new to using Photoshop as an art tool at that time. The Captain was inked by hand, and colored in Photoshop. I was beginning to teach Photoshop to the other artists at Disney by day, and by night I was working on lots of Captain Traffic drawings and other cartoons that you can see on their website only if you are a bad driver and have paid for the course (which is only $13.95 these days!).
If you’d like to see another piece starring Captain Traffic, there’s one on my website that was conceived to be like a comic book cover for Brett’s other website, TrafficSchoolUSA.com where the good Capt. also appears. You can see it by CLICKING HERE!
And if you are on Facebook, Captain Traffic now has his very own fan page which you can see by CLICKING HERE!
So, if you happen to be driving down a freeway in Southern California and you come across Captain Traffic, don’t be startled and swerve into your fellow commuters. But if you do, quickly jot down the phone number from the side of that van. You’re going to need it.
A few years back I was asked to draw a fake comic book cover to be used on CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men. In television, deadlines are tight, so I pretty much turned around that first image in a couple of days which is no small fete considering I wasn’t up on my Manga techniques. They liked it so much they asked for two more. It was a busy few days to be sure.
At any rate, the episode turned out to be memorable for fans of the show. It involved a subplot with Charlie Sheen’s character needing to write a theme song for an animated TV show based on these Oshikuru comic books. I’m including some clips down at the bottom of the Oshikuru moments where you can see my comics in the shots, and a couple of stills.
As you may know if you have read recent blog posts, I have been involved with raising money to Help the Hodges via online eBay auctions. You can read all about the family in need by CLICKING HERE. But I mention it again here because I have donated some really nice large prints of two of my Oshikuru covers that have been autographed by the 2 1/2 men of Two and a Half Men – Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer, and Angus Jones. These items are on eBay RIGHT NOW, and will end this Sunday, March 21.
So, if you’d like a chance at an unusual item from my flat files, and autographed by a few TV stars, here’s your window of opportunity. I posted links to eBay below each signed print below!
Back in 1999, I was working for Disney Feature Animation. Tarzan had recently come out to great success, and the studio was busy with more films such as Home on the Range, Atlantis, The Emperor’s New Groove, Fantasia 2000, Dinosaur, and the ultimately unproduced Wild Life. So much was going on, and it was a swell place to be employed.
In my early days as an illustrator, I did a few “Where’s Waldo” style books about the Bible. I thought, “wouldn’t it be neat to do a ‘Where’s Waldo’-type painting of the main Feature Animation building?” I just wanted to capture a snapshot of the whole place – kind of a day-in-the-life sort of thing. So, I set out to work on this self-induced project, little knowing that it would take up four solid months of nights and weekends to pull off.
To start with, I was able to acquire maps of each floor of the Disney Animation Southside building (the “hat” building) in Burbank, CA. (We had another 4-story building over by the Burbank airport called “Northside” where Fantasia 2000, Dinosaur, and visual effects for live-action movies were being done.) These floor maps were great because they outlined every cubical and office with the names of each employee who worked in that space.
Secondly, I needed to know what everyone looked like. Sure, I worked with these folks, but I don’t have a photographic memory. They had an online database used internally called TIMMY where you could type in any animation employee’s name, and their photo and a short profile would pop up. I printed out many such profiles for reference.
To illustrate four floors, and the 800+ people who worked in the building, the original art had to be large. I worked on a 30″ x 40″ piece of illustration board, painstakingly pencilling the entire piece, then inking it all with Rapidograph pens and waterproof ink, then painting in every little detail. It was so large that I often laid it on the floor and worked on it there. And it took so long that I even shipped it to myself on vacation so I could work on it then, too. Why? Because I had a deadline.
The studio would allow employees to sign up for personal art shows. The waiting list was two years, but I knew mine was coming up. I wanted to do this for the show knowing it would be well-received by my colleagues. It got finished in time, and was displayed with four 11″ x 17″ charts of each face with the employee’s name next to it so they could see what they looked like, then go find themselves in the painting. It went over so well that many asked for copies.
So, after getting permission from Disney’s lawyers, I had 27″ x 40″ prints made and sold them at the studio complete with a 10-page list of who was in it and a Certificate of Authenticity. Many people purchased them, and seemed to enjoy them. The ultimate compliment came when one day I had cause to go visit Roy E. Disney at his office on the lot. Roy’s office was in the old office suite of his uncle Walt. As I started down his hallway, there was a poster for Pinocchio, one for Fantasia 2000, and then this one.
Well, since last fall, NBC has not let up on reminding me that this is ER‘s final season. Every week since, there have been ads promising “an episode you can’t miss!” I’ve missed every one of them.
The show was enjoyable when it first started back in the fall of 1994. I watched for a few seasons completely fascinated by the intense medical drama they portrayed. But the show flatlined for me over a decade ago when it slipped down the slope of soap opera land.
This is a musty Must See TV ink and gouache illustration from the Illustration Guy Archives drawn during the second season of ER in 1995. Thought it should be trotted out as NBC mourns the death of their show this Thursday. I was out of college for only a year, and was trying to drum up caricature work while living in South Carolina. It turned out okay for what I was capable of at the time. I loved putting all the silly stuff on the shelves in the background.
That second season of ER they introduced Christine Elise (in case you are wondering who that first blonde is). She was introduced as a love interest for Noah Wylie, even having a part in the opening credits, so I thought she’d last. Turns out she was only on for 17 episodes. Next to Noah is George Clooney whose likeness could’ve been better. Anthony Edwards, Eriq La Salle, Sherry Stringfield, and Julianna Margulies round out the bunch.
Since moving to California, I have been to the Warner Bros. lot many times and visited the indoor set once with my cousin’s husband Dr. Scott Ries and daughter Grace. Even though I hadn’t followed the show in years, it was fun to see that make-believe set which looked VERY real. Scott was giddy – as a doctor himself, the visit must have held a little more significance. It was fun to see the actual room that inspired this piece so many years before.