Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 in Review: Action Figure Editorials, Death by Giant Pencil and Fifty Shades of Grey DeLisle!

I believe looking back on the past year is important if we're to understand how to shape the events of the one to come. Here are my highlights of the things I've said, done or posted in 2013!

January 28th-

I Have a Headache! 2013
Power Rangers T-Shirt for

My first piece of the new year got me back to my roots making jokes about pop culture.
It also represented a significant change in how I work. The original had been done in pencil but it took so long to produce satisfactory poses (especially when dealing with such elaborate costume details) that I just jumped into inking the lines in Photoshop rather than by hand in order to save time and make the deadline. 

See the original post here

February 8-

Just outside the house I saw a low riding car stuck, struggling to get out of eleven inches of unplowed snow. I went out to see if I could help push the car out of the rut. When this proved ineffective I got my brother Matt and together we started shoveling a path so that the guy could at least turn around and come back the way he came. Other neighbors saw what we were doing and came out with their own shovels and snowblowers to help. Together we cleared enough to allow for a proper U-Turn. 

Once the car got back on the unplowed part of the street there were one or two times that it seemed to stall but managed to power on through. Watching it go I felt a bit like parent who let go of their kid's bike after taking off the training wheels.

March 14-

April 24th-

I had the misfortune of having to explain what "Fifty Shades of Grey" was to my mother during dinner.

This turn of events came about at dinner were I was discussing how I was helping organize books at the church rummage sale. We were told that if we found any copies of Fifty Shades of Grey to just throw it out. My mom reacted by saying that we shouldn't discourage people from reading about grey areas of spirituality. I had to gently explain to her that this was not a spiritual book. 

June 19th-

The bank teller girl knows me by name. Since our relationship is based on her taking my money, I guess that means we're practically married.

July 11th- 

I always dreamed of being ranked alongside famous artists, just not quite like this.

Yes, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came from New York to Midland in order to cheer on our minor league baseball team The Great Lakes Loons. I guess no one told them these weren't actual loons the way that they were actual turtles.

July 15th-

August 23rd-

Summer Bummer. 2013
Editorial Illustration.

This is easily my favorite piece of the past year. Its the first piece I've done thats completely done in the computer. I also turned it around from concept to completion in less than a week, a significant accomplishment to say the least. Also, it was the first regular thing I did for The League of Extraordinary Bloggers which helped garner the attention of returning commenters who have warmed my heart with their gushing praise.

The subject is really what endears it to me. Theres just some kind of dark yet quirky sense of humor about it that just find so engaging. I'd love to do more projects like this. If I can put together more illustration like this I could carve out a niche doing editorials for a magazine or something like that. 

See the original post here.

Sept 13th-

I sent a tweet to world famous autoharpist and occasional actresses Grey DeLisle, wishing the best on her recent marriage. She graciously reciprocated my unique sense of humor.

October 31st- 
Action Figures. 2013
Illustration for Cool & Collected Magazine

This is the most detailed piece I've produced to date. I really wish I had taken some screencaps of the day to the day process. This particular project presented a rare opportunity to experiment with brush and color tools I might not have otherwise used. Plus it was fantastic to have the opportunity to have work in a publication for the for first time in a long while! 

See the original post here.

Buy this issue of Cool & Collected magazine here

November 29th-

Black Friday: A day we set aside to celebrate first world problems!

December 13th-

A gift, from my home to yours. 2013
2013 Christmas Card.

My second (or is it first) annual Christmas Card. I started as soon as all the Halloween candy was given out so it was quite a bit of work. Since its also my most recent piece I don't have much to say about it in retrospect other than what I did in the original post here

Thanks for helping making this a great year. Heres to an even better one to come!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Stocking Stuffer Sketches

Merry Christmas Friends! I had hoped to unveil my latest protect, but its taking a little longer than expected. In the meantime here are some "stocking stuffers" for you to enjoy. Sketches of people from December get togethers and gatherings as well as rough ideas from this year's Christmas cards.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Gift, from my home to yours (Christmas Cards 2013)

Well, I've started to get confirmation that the cards I sent out last week have started to arrive so it's as good a time as any for this year's big reveal!

A Gift, from my home to yours. 2013
Photoshop. 8 1/2 x 11 original. 

Last December, in an attempt to stay better connected with my creative colleagues, friends from college especially, I sent out homemade Christmas cards with original art and a brief summary of how I was doing and what I had been up to in the past year.

Seeing as how last year I only got this idea after Thanksgiving, it was a real fight to the finish. This year I started trying to come up with ideas as early as Halloween. Now I have an inkling of what retail outlets go through when it comes to changing their holiday decorations.


Last year's card was of a dark room lit by the soft glow of a Christmas tree and by the heavenly light of comforting angels. After finishing a piece that involved such heavy blacks, I decided that next time would feature a scene with lots of white, likely an outdoor scene with lots of snow. 

Throughout the year, I collected various images in hopes of helping choose a subject.


From left to right: Wally Wood, Hal Foster, Norman Rockwell, Rudolph Guenoden, Ellison Hoover, Frank Cho


My first idea was for a romantic "winter wonderland" kind of scene with a couple and their dog climbing up a sledding hill. Not a bad idea, and I may come back to it later, but my compositions just felt too much like the cover of a Land's End catalog. It also seemed to lack substance. It was a winter scene, but not a "seasonal" scene, and felt somewhat insincere for a Christmas card. 

The idea for using squirrels came about as a result of a Skype conversation I was having with my friend Kirsten Zirginbl, were I mentioned the squirrels in the back yard which were "as big as housecats" and "always coming to the door looking for handouts. They have no fear of man!"

Thats when it hit me, the idea of a simple creature coming to the big intimidating house, to not ask for something, but instead offer a humble gift that was in essence, all they had. It just struck me as a better message for the spirit of Christmas.

However, even that got off to some rough starts:

Eventually I settled on a high angle shot inspired by similar shots in Hank Ketcham's Dennis the Menace. 


When I started getting towards the finishing stages, I started getting in the habit of taking screen caps at the end of the day so that I could get a sense of my own process and be able to identify what I accomplished each day and use it as motivation for the next.

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Friday, December 6, 2013


All of my Christmas cards have been drawn, printed, addressed, folded, signed, stuffed, sealed and stamped! Whew! It was an endeavor that took over a month to put this whole operation together to send out these cards to at least fifty people but it was all worth it!

They'll be going out today. I will post the super secret original artwork that I used for the cover this time next week. By then, recipients on the West coast and outside the country should have received it. I do want to make sure it comes as a surprise after all!

Now that I'm done with that I think I'm going to take a weekend breather to recuperate and see if I can't brainstorm some fresh new ideas for the new year!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

LOEB: Christmas Wish List

The things I want the most this Christmas simply can't be bought. A job in my field that provides steady pay, a lady love to last a lifetime, the chance to really connect with people, time to do all the things I want to do well, inspiration, a skilled and stable hand to render my vision as I see it, etc. Such things cannot be bought. However, that doesn't mean I can't try to fill the void with some crazy, over-the-top material possessions!

Casablanca 70th Anniversary Edition Blu Ray

Easily one of my favorite movies of all time, Casablanca recently had a huge anniversary edition re-release on this past year, on my birthday no less! Since I wasn't able to receive this as a gift when this was issued, Christmas is a perfect opportunity to make up for time gone by with one of the most romantic movies ever made.

Speaking of romance...

The Geek's Guide to Dating

My first sweetheart was a dyed in the wool geek, or rather her Jayne Cobb hat was made of dyed wool. I remember when we first started dating, she teased me by saying that her sister got her this book, but I never got a chance to see it for myself.

Since I'm looking to level up in love lately, maybe this will warm things up for were The Big Bang Theory left me cold.

Speak of the Geek...

Gokaiger Mobirate and Ranger Keys

Of all the Super Sentai transformation devices, this one may have the worst name. Its a portmanteau of "Mobile" and "Pirate", because its a mobile phone that turns you into a pirate themed superhero. Get it?

The franchise has used cell phones as the Ranger's transformation trinket for over a decade, why haven't we had a name like "Morphones" yet? It seems that a better portmanteau, combining "Morph" and "Phone". But I suppose they need a name that was unique for each season.

And what a unique device it is. Not only does it change the user into a pirate ranger, but also offers selection of over 200 Ranger Keys that allow you to become a hero for any occasion.

Which leads us into the most impressive and most impractical at all...

The 1966 Lincoln Futura Batmobile

I've spoken before about my admiration for the 1960s Batman television series where the Caped Crusader had the power to manifest colorful onomatopoeia with a each blow and was the only man who was prepared for the Sharknado. This outrageous automobile of a is every bit as cool as the man who drives it.  So you can imagine my astonishment when I found out that not only is this car on the market, but that it is now street legal!

I'm not a person that enjoys driving very much, a combination of growing up in a small town were things were just as easy to get to by bike, the expenses of gasoline and one too many experiences with speeding maniacs on the highway. I may end up keeping this one in the garage just to say "atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed", fire up the engine, then move out for a quick jaunt to the car wash.

Now that the crowds for Cyber Monday have slowed down, maybe I can avoid the crowds and get something for the League's Secret Santa Exchange. Fortunately, many of my compatriots have posted their wish lists as well so I know just what to get them!

* The Goodwill Geek counts down his top ten wish list items.
* Pop Culture Rewind gives us his vintage wish list.
* Cool & Collected puts out a bounty on his dream toys. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Facebook Numbers Racket (15 1/2 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Me)

It appears I've been tagged in this recent Facebook meme. Basically, you're given a number and have to list that many facts that people may not know about you. Since I spent more time on collecting these than I probably should I thought I might share on my blog as well in order to break the ice with my viewers now that I'm starting to get regular commenters.

Well that and I'm working on two new pieces simultaneously, both taking more time than I anticipated and I'd like to have at least one post up before this month is half over.

1. I have seen all 120 episodes of the ‘60s Batman TV Series with Adam West, while I have watched only about half of the episodes from the original Star Trek (45 of 80 at present). I don’t know whether that loses or gains me any nerd points.

But whose fight music do I use?
Batman's or Kirk's ?

2. I have never been outside of North America at any time in my life. Farthest out I've been is to some small islands in the Bahama area as part of a cruise to celebrate my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary. 

3. I’ve never driven on the highway by myself before. Its probably one of the reasons I’m not too keen on traveling.

4. I feel so exposed while wearing T-Shirts. I much prefer collared shirts even when they have short sleeves. Though really, the more layers the better for me.

      5. I never got into drinking coffee, or even soda for that matter. I usually just stick to water and sugar free lemonade most of the time.

6. My title may be “illustrator”, but I consider myself a “storyteller” first and foremost. When people ask what an illustrator is, I often say that it’s a “narrative artist”.

 7. Multiple people have told me that I have a “radio announcer voice” and that I should “look into acting or stand up comedy”.

8. I have written over one hundred original articles for TV Tropes (119 at last count, not including many extensive edits).

9. I’m known for my exceptional oral hygiene. I’ve never had a cavity in my life.

10. According the Meyers Briggs Personality Test I am an ISTJ (Introvert Sensing Thinking Judging) also known as the Guardian-Inspector Type. This type is best known for being orderly, dependable, practical and dutiful.

11. I have a sizable collection of movies, mostly titles made in the ‘40s and ‘50s. The two most common genres in this assemblage include suspense horror and romantic drama.

Anyone up for a double feature at my place?

12. I listen to a lot of instrumental music while I work on my art. My most played songs include Alfred Hitchcock movie scores and soundtracks from the various Super Sentai television series.

13. I was interviewed for the PBS documentary “The Cartoonist: Jeff Smith, Bone, and the Changing Face of Comics”. My comments were not included in the finished film, but I can be seen in the foreground during the scenes they shot at the Wexner Center.

Now available at Amazon!

14.     Back when I lived in Columbus I kept a bowl of candies by the front door of my apartment to entice visitors to stay. One day I come home from class to see that the bowl is empty. I refilled it and went about my business. That night I woke up at 2:30 in the morning to a muffled “boom” noise. Confused I just went back to sleep only to discover the next morning that the bowl was empty again.

Curious, I filled it again, and the next morning again at 2:30 there was the same muffled “boom” sound again. I got out of bed and looked in the living room. The bowl was empty. 

Alarmed, I imagined that there was a wormhole to hell opening in that room and would come back and swallow me up. I slammed and locked my bedroom door, booted up my laptop to tell everyone on Facebook that this would be my last night on Earth and waited in terror for what ever it was to come back and get me and then… nothing happened.

Recalling the incident to my mother, she claimed I made the whole thing up to try and get money out of her or something. Saying that I must have eaten it all and just forgotten about it. Thanks Mom.

Furniture movers have nothing on chocolate thieves!

15. I’m right behind you…

Ha! Made you look!

Okay, okay, that one wasn't a fact. What else is there. Hm...

15 1/2. When I was a little kid, my Dad got me to eat my broccoli by telling me to pretend to be a dinosaur eating the trees. It appears to have worked.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Action Figures!

Action Figures. 2013.
Photoshop,  5 x 7 original.

While I haven't produced many eerie illustrations for Halloween, I have been busy on some big projects! First up, this accompaniment for an editorial article for "Cool and Collected" magazine, a Kickstarter funded publication about vintage toys and other elements of collectable pop culture. The project still has a week to go at the time of this posting. Read more about it here!

The article itself is about repeat buying and variant collecting. Basically how collectors can get into the habit of purchasing toys based on all the alternative versions of a single character.


In order to give the client an idea of the kind of vision I was shooting for in the finished piece, I created a collage of images that showcased a single character's diverse appearances over time.


My first idea involved a collector picking up a toy, only to discover that he is surrounded and overwhelmed my this action figure's relatives and predecessors. While this notion presented the sense of pressure with all the potential purchases weighing on his shoulders and some fun personality possibilities with each toy interacting with the buyer. However, both the client and myself were wary of putting a face to the toy collecting market so it was mutually decided to nix this one. 

The second sketch reversed the original scenario. Turning the front figure around so that he is still confronted and burdened by all the different types of toys. This ended up being the design chosen by my client. 

I put forth a third sketch of a high angle shot with the original doll mint-in-box surrounded by the successor toys, eliminating the collector character altogether. 


Originally this was just going to be black and white with some basic color thrown over top. But then I ran into trouble trying to depict different types of textures, both cloth and plastic, in such a graphical representation. Since I had a full two weeks to put this together (and was doing the piece pro-bono) it presented the opportunity to play with some Photoshop tools I had been wanting to tinker with but may not have had the time otherwise. I figure "I've got all this time, I may as well experiment and perhaps have a little bit of fun along the way." 

Working in multiple layers with varying opacity was great for rendering this translucent clip-on armor

Working this way was something very new and different for me. I'm certain that it could get better and would be very interested in any comments on how I could build on this coloring crossroads for future pieces!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

LOEB: Sketch Studies - Jason Vorhees

It seems that the Halloween season has snuck up on me once more and I've been so busy getting my act together that I've gotten behind in my horror movie watching and monster drawing. Not only have I failed to hold up the holiday, but I've also forsaken my country in its time of need. Woe is me!

I never have this problem around Christmastime. Maybe its because I know I'll lose my soul if I don't watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas" or "How the Grinch stole Christmas".

At least I can say I've kept with the spirit of the season by listening to all sorts of spooky tunes like the best of Bernard Hermann, Roy Webb's scores for the Val Lewton features, classical pieces such as Toccata and Fugue in D Minor or breakaway pop hits like "Ghostbusters" or "Thriller". Though most of these are already first in my audio quiver so I don't know if that really counts as anything special. 

Something I had been putting together in anticipation of All Hallow's Eve is some rough sketches that I hoped might develop or inspire full fledged illustrations.


Its times like this when I'm grateful for my Waccom tablet, which can capture the spontaneity of a quick pencil sketch by simply scanning it in and tracing over it, adding and subtracting details as necessary without the hassle of needing to start from scratch to try something new.

Looking at it again, the original Jason sketch on the upper left seems to have been inspired by the loose geometrics, broad torso and skinny legs of another monster; Killer Croc as seen on Batman: The Animated Series.

Speaking of aquatic monster men; Achivements in Gaming pays tribute to the Golden Age Gillman!
Other Monsters from the League:
* Brian recollects The Monster Times!
* Batfan goes old school!

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