Friday, August 5, 2011
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Scholastic.com has a cheaper price for buying directly from them!
Borders.com (Also has a little Google preview)
And since they changed the cover and just used Shaggy and Scooby, I thought I'd post the original cover version with the whole Gang!
Monday, June 20, 2011
SCOOBY-DOO MEGA PACK + FREE PRINT!
CARTOON NETWORK MEGA PACK + FREE PRINT!
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Before I begin to talk about James Arness, I think a little backstory is needed, so bear with me.
As most who well know me know, though some of you do not, I've been collecting radio dramas now since 1986. I was at the local comic store on a Friday when new issues used to come out and saw Howard Chaykin's comic version of The Shadow. I bought the first issue and it had a nice backup feature by Anthony Tollin who wrote a history of The Shadow. That weekend I was at the mall and went into Sam Goody Records and saw audio tapes of The Shadow, Green Hornet, and The Lone Ranger hanging on the wall. I bought The Shadow one and went home and listened to one of the early episodes of Orson Welles in "Devil From The Deep" (which aired on 10/3/1937) and I was then hooked on old time radio! I went back the next day to the mall and bought the Green Hornet and Lone Ranger ones!
My love for audio dramas started when I was little and I had all the Power Records comic book and record sets and I listened to them so many times that I wore out the vinyl records and had to buy another. I'd play with my Mego Superhero figures and listen and reenact the story I heard. I'm still a fan of Power Records and have them all to this day. But with Old Time Radio I was introduced to a world of more sophisticated and serious actors who were doing all kinds of dramas ranging from westerns, scifi, mysteries, horror, and romance. This was a step up and a great transition from kids records where things were exaggerated but fun. Hollywood actors lent their skills to radio as TV wasn't around then and you got to hear Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes on the radio and then got to see him on the big screen that weekend as Sherlock Holmes as well. What a thrill that must have been back in the day! The audio effects and environmental sounds were incredible to me and I was able to listen and form my own pictures in my head as to what was going on. TV and movies still can't rival the power of a good audio drama and I think listening to mostly all the shows I now have in my collection for over 20 years (around 34,000 shows and still growing both on CD's tapes, and MP3's) has made me better as an artist since now I have to read a script and visualize what's going on and how to show it. I used to go to bed with my Sony Walkman and listen to a show. If I fell asleep during it, I'd listen again the next night, and the next night. But before sleep came to me, I listened and I kept changing my shots and working through my storytelling as a movie director would work through his camera moves. If I didn't like a shot in my head I hit the rewind button a few seconds and go back and reshoot. It may sound weird but many artists would agree with me on this working method.
One day in the mid-90's, after ten years of collecting, I got a new catalog to order old radio shows from and so that night I went through the pages and circled the ones I wanted. They had a sale going and I'd thought I'd try something new. I loved The Six Shooter starring Jimmy Stewart and so I saw a few tapes for what was hailed as "The Greatest of all Westerns"... Gunsmoke. If they hyped it like that, I figured it must be good. I ordered two audio tapes and that was four early episodes of the show from 1952. It even featured the very first show called "Billy The Kid." I got the tapes in a few weeks and one night as I was organizing my comics in their boxes, I put one of the tapes in my stereo and played it. It wasn't long before I stopped filing the comics and just sat there and listened to the show as the quality of the sound patterns and the time that they took to just let sounds play painted such a picture of Dodge City that it sounded incredible to my ears. The sound of spurs hitting the plankboards going into the Marshal's office or the piano playing in the distance as you stood across the street from the Long Branch Saloon was simply magnificent and added to the drama. For a lot of radio shows, the rule was to keep actors talking, but Gunsmoke (and radio director Norman MacDonnell) was after more and it exceeded on every level. You could feel the grit of Gunsmoke. The scripts were more adult in nature and the acting was first rate all around. The violence of the old west was portrayed as it was and some of the early scripts that were used on radio had to be changed when they did them on TV as they could never get past the TV censors at the time. John Meston was the voice of Gunsmoke and wrote most of the radio and then TV scripts. It was his stamp of authenticity that made this show what it was. If it's not on paper, it just doesn't work most of the time. Meston's scripts about morality were never in your face but accented the message he was trying to send to the audience. William Conrad stood tall as US Marshal Matt Dillon and his voice had such a presence that you knew he was the hero. Conrad had such great range with his voice that you could really say his voice was truly an instrument, and he knew how to use it from soft scenes to loud ones. With William Conrad as Matt Dillon, Parley Bear as Chester, Georgia Ellis as Kitty, and Howard McNear as Doc, this western show made me a fan and I soon would go on to collect the whole series run from 1952-1961 when radio was fazed out as sponsers then put all their money into the blossoming arena of Television.
For some reason, it was a year or two after I got intially started with Gunsmoke that I found out there had also been a TV show as well! I kind of started the way it was really introduced, from radio to TV. I got a catalogue from Time Life one day (the ones that sell all the old TV shows) and it had Gunsmoke across the front cover. I was blown away! They made this into a TV show... and it was on for 20 years?! How could I have not known about it? Well, I was mid-20s and some things you do find out about decades after they are gone. I ordered the first tape and watched the first 4 shows! I was thrilled how well they adapted the radio scripts to TV format and the cast once again, though different, was first rate! In the first episode that aired called "Matt Gets It" I was introduced to James Arness who played Marshal Matt Dillon and who then gets shot down on Front Street in the early scenes! He survived his wounds and got better with the help of Doc Adams to only go back and kill the bad guy who gunned him down in the end. That first episode was good enough to hold me as it was character driven and I watched the other 3 that night. It wasn't long before I subscribed and got a new tape every month, and sometimes bought several tapes if I had some extra money. The first 156 shows or so used all radio scripts and it was fun to see how it was visually shown as I had pictured them differently from their radio counterparts.
I think most Gunsmoke fans will say that the first 10 years of Gunsmoke on TV was it's "golden age". Those early half-hour shows were my personal favorites and they could pack more story and drama into a half-hour than MOST of the one-hour TV shows that are on today. Watch the episode "Never Pester Chester" and you'll see what I mean. I also loved the medium of black and white as well since it seemed to focus your attention on the characters and drama more than color allows. Orson Welles has said this about black and white film as well. When they moved into color, and Festus replaced Chester, it carried on for another 10 seasons! Fans note that in the first ten seasons, Marshal Dillon was almost in every scene and so after 10 years they changed the dynamic and focused more on the people of Dodge (or people coming into Dodge) and their stories and the Marshal would show up in the middle and the end to help out if he could and tie it all together. This allowed Arness to have more family time as well since he didn't have to be on the set every day. Gunsmoke focused mainly on character development and kept an economy of dialogue to it so that you saw what you needed to and could form your own backstories in some cases without being distracted from the main plot. It never wrote down to the audience and in 20 seasons it only produced 4 bad shows. James Arness stood tall for 20 years (and with the spin-off Gunsmoke TV movies that he made in the late 80's and early 90's) and was a real man's man for the entire run and his life. If you were in the Long Branch Saloon and some kind of fight was brewing as some dude you didn't want to mess with was taunting you, you'd be praying Marshal Dillon would walk through the door and save your ass. And he did it with style. Not the kind of style that Paladin would use on Have Gun, Will Travel but a style that was true to Arness and how he lived his life. I can see how he was a role model for the youth of the time in the 50s and early 60s and how families loved the show. It's popularity spawned a bunch of books, comics and toys; many that I have in my personal collection as well.
James Arness had some great moments on the show and Dennis Weaver who played Chester was so incredible that he could save a slightly weaker script by having a great scene at the end of it that would turn it into a superb show. He deserved his Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in 1959. His acting was genuine and sincere and he worked well with Arness who had the same sensibilities. The main difference between the radio version of Dillon and the TV version of Dillon was that both actors played it differently though some aspects were in both. Both had the commanding presence and tone of authority, but with the radio version Dillon would make mistakes and people would sometimes die or the bad guys would get away. When Arness played the part, he played it that Dillon was always right and he would somehow know that they bad guys took the right path down a crooked road instead of the left one. Both actors were successful, and I think Arness' choice to do it the way he did was correct, hence we wouldn't be talking about the show today. The good things always stand the test of time.
And so... to James Arness, I thank you for work and standing in the middle of Front Street in Dodge City and facing down our fears for us. A double-edged dagger for Arness as well as many actors would never have played a character for as long as he did for fear of being typecast. In the end, Arness became an icon and was the star of the GREATEST Western TV show ever produced, and that's certainly not a bad thing. In fact, I'm sure Marshal Dillon is walking the clouds right now keeping the universe safe... it's how he would have wanted it. (Cue the opening Gunsmoke music)
Monday, May 30, 2011
Got a rush job with a tight deadline around two days before Memorial Day Weekend and so I spent the holiday working on Doof N' Puss while others frolicked and relaxed in the ocean surf. Doof N' Puss is a segment on Phineas and Ferb and it's a lot like what the Itchy And Scratchy Show was on The Simpsons, meaning that it's a show within a show. Doof N’ Puss was an 80’s-style TV show that Doof pitched to a network exec at the Science Fiction and Fantasy convention in the Phineas and Ferb episode “Nerds of a Feather.” So once I got the model sheets, I was off and running drawing Agent P battling the zombie pigs and aliens I created. I'll be working on it till mid-next week. More as I go along...
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
Since the economy is still chugging along slow, I've been doing some graphic design as well. Below are three concert banners that I did earlier this week and they'll be 7 feet wide by 3 feet high when they are printed. I did one banner each for Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, and Zac Brown. They were made for WYNK radio for some concert thing that Clear Channel is doing. The basic idea is that fans will sign these banners and then the radio station will give each banner with all the signatures to each country star as a token gift from the fans, hence, why there's plenty of open space around them for signatures. The hard part was separating the characters from the backgrounds in their original photos and creating crisp edges. It takes some time to do it right and I think they came out pretty cool in the end. The Kenny Chesney one also had a small mic on his shirt collar and so I had to digitally paint that out as well. I sent the files to Vivid Ink who did the printing job on them and so I had to add their logo to the bottom as a final touch.
And right after that I did a business card design and two ads for Rima Akoum at Mai Mira Salon in Baton Rouge. The first ad I did was in black and white for some charity publication and then I did this full color one that will run in City Social Magazine. It's a half page ad and took me a little time to figure it out since I was given the five smaller pics to work into the design that weren't in the black and white ad. I kept the background white since from the specs I was given there was no bleed and I though that it would look better with a bit of separation to it instead of adding a solid color in background which would box it more. I'm happy with how it turned out as it was a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to get it to work. It's just like the previous post with Phineas and Ferb, you have to have all these elements in a drawing and make them work. Design is 95% of the job no matter what I'm working on.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Other than that I've been sketching, digital painting and mostly backing up my external hard drives, reorganizing my files, and deleting old ones that I don't need anymore. It now seems that even 2TB drives aren't enough. Ha! Backing up my work and other files I've collected onto my Back Up drive (a smaller 500GB drive that sits next to my computer for immediate things that I'm working on or need to pull from) and then after about three weeks or so I back them up to the Back Up-Back Up drive (one of my main drives with mostly everything on it) and then again onto, not one, but TWO Back Up-Back Up-Back Up drives (two clones of the previous drive with everything on it, BUT with much more including comics scans, audio stuff, teaching stuff, etc. And I have two drives in case one fails. These two are the main drives that I can't lose though.) is an several hour process and I usually wait till the weekend at night to do it since you just have to sit and do it. It's a long and boring process but has to be done.
I seem to remember when I used to burn CD's and DVD's with data on them but now it's all about the external hard drive since they hold much more stuff and tranferring files over is much faster than burning. There was a time back in 2004 or so when I'd go to the computer store (no longer in business either) and buy 9 or 10 spindles of CDs or DVDs on sale so that I'd have them, but in the last two years alone I think I've only burned 3 CDs total! Technology is rapidly changing so fast that even the flash drives (or thumb drives) that were the rage for about a year have fallen by the wayside as hard drives have surpassed them in terms of speed and space, as well as keeping the physical dimensions of the drives down to a nice compact size that you can put in your pocket. 2TB drives are a little bigger in most cases but are about the size of a hardcover book.
It may seem excessive to some with all the backing up but I laugh at those who lose all their stuff when their systems crash and they didn't ever think to back anything up and have now lost it all. It's a large peace-of-mind to fire up a drive and back up the day's work and then go to bed knowing it's safe. Once you accumulate a large amount of stuff you don't want to lose it. Even working from the hotel room from my previous trip I would back up the night's work onto a flash drive and then a small external hard drive as well since I didn't want to rely on my laptop though I'm sure it was safe. Laptops can get man-handled going through the airport security and being thrown in the bins as they go down the conveyor belt.
I'm the Back Up Kid!
Friday, April 8, 2011
Below are the two main sayings that they wanted to incorporate with the character for a poster and t-shirt.
And here's one of Bucky swinging by for their Christmas Card...
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Here is the black and white version of the logo (for letterheads) and then the color version...
BONUS: Here's a mock up cover with the super rare logo that only last two issues before we changed it. This was the second issue I worked on and this was the last time we used this logo. It was actually the first logo that I designed though and I really liked it as it had some tooth to it and looked like a steel-cut piece of metal and it had some energy to it. I went this way as originally we were shooting for a young and hip demo but that would change. Maxim was hot at the time and a lot of publications were trying to mimic the look. I got the idea from watching old episodes of Dragnet 1967 where after the credits ran at the end of the show there was a hand that came down and pounded out the Mark VII or something in the steel with a hammer. It stuck with me and so I thought a steel look would work well.
Looking at it again after all this time, it's hard for me to call it a failure though. While everyone in the office liked it, it became somewhat of a designer's nightmare for me as it limited me in terms of the space I had to layout a cover. I had to run the photo flush left all the time to make it work and most press release photos simply weren't shot with enough bleed and it would have been a hassle each month to have to separate the person from the background and put a new background behind them that would fit. It was easier to simply run the logo straight across the top and then have a full square below it in which to play within. As the cover above shows, even by moving the logo down a 1/3 I still had some decent ratios to play within.
Hope you found this post interesting!
Here's the final logo that I did in Illustrator as I wanted it to be vector art in case they ever wanted to make it bigger for something like a banner. I used these colors for the first two issues as they complimented the photos and text but then I would change out the colors to compliment the overall color theory or even to celebrate a certain holiday or seasonal theme. It also works well as a black and white image and could be easily converted if need be. I usually always design a logo with the idea that it must work in black and white first. Scott's Rule: If it works in black and white, it will work in color.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Here's an interesting thing I found on my hard drive that I created back in 2003...a blank piece of notebook paper. Seems weird that you'd have to create something like that but I was doing a cover and art spread for Family Values Magazine for an article about safe schools for the August issue and I needed to create some props for the cover and for the main story interior spread where text would lay on top of it to give it a school time feeling. So I created a digital composition book cover since I didn't have one to scan and then I scanned some actual pens, pencils, erasers, and a ruler I had lying here so that I could use them in my design. I could have created those digitally but it would have taken time that I just didn't have. I remember scanning a piece of actual notebook paper and finding that it just didn't 'hold up' for actual use as the blue lines were so light and washed out. Even trying to save time and play with the levels in Photoshop was a waste of time so I created a sheet of digital notebook paper using the scanned page a guide. I kept the holes black for this look but I can pop those out and you'd be able to see through them if this page was laying on a table as you can see below from the final printed art.
This was some of my best design work at the time and somehow it really came together during the rush of the deadline to get it done. This is the two-page spread as I just wanted to give you an idea of how it was actually used. Even the wood table was digitally created as well. I haven't had a chance to use the notebook paper for anything else since though but I have the file so I have it in case I do. It might look good as a backdrop for some sketches as well to create a sketchbook feel. Anyway, I hope you all like this mini 'behind the scenes' process post!
Here's a painting I did in an hour yesterday playing around. I call it Hell Planet. The main work was doing the planet as a star field and cosmos took about 2 minutes to create (literally if you know how to do it) in Photoshop and from there I decided to make it a planet that was on fire and possibly burning itself out from the inside. Came out pretty cool as a concept piece. Hope you all like!
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
For the bottom one, each of the foreground rocks on the bottom one were on separate layers so I can make them visable or not, or even move them around if I want, by clicking on their layers. I made it a full painting without the rocks just in case I needed another generic cave setting. I also added the green night fog on it's own layer as well in case I didn't want it. That's the beauty to have all these layers for each painting. I can change things easily without much muss or fuss. This background took the worst hit as for all that work that no one will ever see. Maybe 10% of it was left to see once all the characters were added, but like I said, I can change the color of the cave to blue or something and it could be the Batcave!