Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Old Calendar '01: May

I liked reading your takes on yesterday's image. Have a whack at this one.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Old Calendar '01: March

Here is a group of traveling fantasy characters--a fellowship, if you will. You can look at them and think about their adventures. The best part is, you don't have to slog through an endless, multi-volume fantasy series to enjoy them. Think of all the time you saved.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Old Calendar '01: February

The 2001 calendar was small--I think it was 6 x 6. Maybe 5.5 x 5.5. Anyway, I went to town with the stippling--actually, I don't like the word, "stippling" it sounds pretentious (unless it's in a cop drama, where the gunpowder burn leaves "stippling" on a close-range shooting victim, that kind of "stippling" sounds cool. Phew, I read too many crime novels.)

For drawing, I prefer the word "dots." I shaded this with dots.

My wife was expecting our first baby in 2001. So a lot of the pictures in this calendar had a baby-having theme. That baby is now a ten-year-old kid.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Old Calendar '01

When I was a sophomore in high school, I made a calendar. I drew twelve pictures, bought a ream of 11 x17 paper and photocopied, folded and stapled together a print run of about 60. I handed them out at school and gave them to friends and family. I was pretty proud of them. It became a tradition. I did a new calendar every year at Christmas. I made them from '92 to 2001--I may have done a 2002, but the most recent one I could find in my files was '01. I hope I did an '02, that would give me a solid decade of calendars.

Anyway, when I started getting real illustration jobs, it got harder to do the calendar. I tell myself every year that I will start it up again, then never do. Of course, lately I've realized that this blog has filled the gap created by the calendar. Still, I miss the physical object of the paper calendar.

I have all of the old calendar drawings--but I've never scanned them before. So, let's take a look. For the next two weeks we're taking a trip back ten years, to 2001.

Here is January:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Narnia Covers Wrap-Up!

Oh Boy. Google day has come at last. This was fun. The real images brought back a lot of memories. Let's grade my memories!

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Woops! There is no lamppost, the kids are inside the wardrobe and there is a castle I missed. But look how much they look like the Beatles. C+

Prince Caspian: I think I nailed this one. Check the evil mustache. And the shield with a spike (wrong person though.) And I got the composition reversed. A-

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: How could I miss that fantastic sea monster? I'm so ashamed. This one is also reversed. I did get the crow's nest, and the spike and beard on the dragon. B-

The Silver Chair: Reversed again! Aside from that...A-

The Horse and His Boy: Oh boy. This one stumped me. F

The Magician's Nephew: I think this one is my best remembered cover. A

The Last Battle: Not bad. I missed the kids and the color scheme. But I got the stars right! B

I hope you've enjoyed this trip down memory lane.

The original cover artist is named Roger Hane. He did these covers for Macmillan-Collier in 1970. The sad part is, he died four years later, during a botched mugging in Central Park. He was only 36. How's that for ending on a sad note. I give him the honorary title of, "Favorite Cover Artist of my Childhood."

A brand new thing starts tomorrow.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Narnia Covers, book 7: The Last Battle

Book #7: The Last Battle

The most memorable part on this cover was the shower of geometric stars. There was a big gateway to another world, and Aslan was staring into it. I'm feeling pretty good about this one.

What I remember from the story: This is the book I've read most recently. I read it as a teenager, around fourteen. I was stage managing a play (can't remember what play) and a copy was in the booth, so I read it during the play.

A better title for this book would be "The Monkey, The Donkey, and the Long-Winded Allegory." This book was wacky. This is the one where the allegory got so heavy handed it started to outweigh the story. So, let's see, there was a nefarious monkey who finds a lion skin at the base of a waterfall. He takes the skin and dresses up a donkey with it. So the donkey looks like a lion. He then takes the donkey-lion around claiming it is Aslan. The Narnians must be spectacularly dumb to mistake the donkey-lion for a real lion. Anyway, they put up a tent and the donkey-lion hides inside of it and the monkey keeps everyone out.

I gather this is all C.S. Lewis's allegorical take on modern Christianity. At this point in the book, I found myself thinking, "Yeah, but where's the BATTLE? I was promised a BATTLE? Tolkien threw down with some epic battles, so BRING it Lewis!"

He never quite brings the battle. There is some scuffling, and Aslan (the real one) appears in the tent. And if anyone goes into the tent they get zapped dead. (This is a little hazy.) The monkey goes in and gets zapped. Then all the English kids, young and old appear in Narnia, I'm guessing the stars rain down, then everyone in the universe dies and runs to Aslan's Country.

I'm sure I'm forgetting things. But that's my take on The Last Battle and the last book! Tomorrow I will post the REAL covers, and we'll see how bad my memory is.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Narnia Covers, book 6: The Magician's Nephew

Cover #6 The Magician's Nephew

This cover was the weirdest of all of them. I liked it a lot.

What I remember from the story:

This one I remember well--maybe more than any of the others. It was high on my list of favorites. This book is an odd one. C.S. Lewis takes a break from fantasy and goes straight-up sci-fi.

Two kids, a boy and a girl (can't remember their names, or if they appear in other books) live with a weird professor. They find a secret kitchen with candy rings (candy rings?) that take you to a place called "The Wood Between the Worlds," if you wear them (or eat them?)

The wood has pools that all lead to different worlds. They mark the one that leads home (with something?) and then try out some pools. They see a dying world where the sun is going supernova, and there is a world with slowed-down time (might be the same world.) Then they visit the creation of Narnia and there is a long sequence where a bird makes the first joke in Narnia (or something.)

At some point, in one of the worlds, they release a giant killer queen lady. She chases them into England where she causes some kind of traffic accident. The uncle (who I assume is the titular Magician) thinks the alien queen is "A Damn Fine Woman." And he says that a lot.

Not sure how it ends, or how they get the killer queen lady back to her world.

How's that for remembering the story?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Still Running to Catch Up

Magician's Nephew tomorrow. I'm scrambling to stay on top of my deadlines.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Toga Party

It sounds like my attempt at remembering The Horse and His Boy was a swing and a miss. I do, however, have a pretty good grasp on The Magician's Nephew, so tomorrow should be fun.

I'm doing double duty today. I have drawings for a different project due on top of my regular page quota. I've been illustrating a series called "Secret in the Attic" for a few years now. It's a Scholastic book fair series about time traveling kids (it's sort of like the Magic School Bus, but a few grades older.) I'm on book four now. The author, L. A. Peacock, seems to have a very long term plan because the four books so far have all taken place in the ancient world; Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt etc. That means we still have practically all of history to time travel through. I hope the series continues, because the illustrations are fun to do. Also, Scholastic pays well. In fact, at our house, we spell it $cholastic.

Here's the cover of book 1:

I do the covers, then about 30 black and white interior illustrations. The book 4 cover was finished weeks ago, but I'm still working out the interiors. So, back to it. Toga party.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Narnia Covers, book 5: The Horse and His Boy

Book 5: The Horse and His Boy (or is it A Horse and His Boy?)

This cover must have torn off early on. All of the books in the set disintegrated pretty quick. They were very cheap paperbacks. In any case, I have no distinct memory of this cover. If I really think about it, I can conjure this bridge with a city gate and some domed buildings. It could be an interior illustration for all I know. But it's all I can recall, so here it is.

What I remember from the story:

Next to nothing. Here's what I can come up with: The horse and his boy go to a middle-eastern type of city. The land of the Telemarketers, no, the Telgemeiers (no, that's a graphic novelist) the Targaryens (no, wrong fantasy series) the Tralfamadorians (no, that's Kurt Vonnegut) it was......................the Land of the Telmarines! Boom! You didn't think I could do it, did you? The land of the Telmarines. It was a middle eastern city with no Narnians or talking animals.

There was an evil(?) ruler who had to be referred to as "______-may-he-live-forever." I can't remember the name, but he had to have the "may-he-live-forever" at the end of his name.

And that's all. If there were English children in this book, I don't remember them.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Marathon Re-Cap Monday!

Marathon Re-Cap Monday! We'll get back to Narnia tomorrow. Today you have to listen to me brag about my athletic exploits.

The highlight of the race happened at the starting line. The Utah Valley Marathon starts in a tiny town calls Wallsberg. It's a farming community 20 miles up Provo Canyon. It is very pretty and very quiet at 4:30 am. The race was supposed to start at 5 am. Seconds before the starting gun, a man best described as an "old coot" drove a filthy pick-up truck onto the race course. He was hauling a 4-wheeler and had at least eight dogs bunched into kennels on his truck bed. He wasn't listening to the race organizers or the police or anyone, he was just plowing forward.

There are thousands of racers bunched at the start, packed in tight. A fire truck with its siren on would have a hard time getting through. But this clown just went for it, bulldozer style. He got all the way to the actual starting line, where he ran over the airflow tube to the inflatable arch. The arch collapsed and the crowd went, "Awwwwwww." He rolled forward off the air supply and the arch popped back into shape. Everyone cheered.

Then the gun went off and the racers swarmed around the pickup truck which was clogging the mouth of the starting line.

Here is the moment of the arch collapsing:

This guy and his dogs really needed to get down that road. He wasn't letting anyone or anything stop him. In a way, I like him, for his determination and his crusty anti-athleticism. But at the same time, what an idiot.

It was all downhill from there (literally, it is a very downhill race.) I predicted that I would get my slowest time ever, and I did. I ran a great first half; clean, clockwork 9:30 miles. Then around mile 15 I deflated (much like the inflatable arch.) I walked quite a few miles in the second half.

I finished with a time almost TWO HOURS slower than my fastest time (3:48:31, St. George 2008) so slow, I'm ashamed to post it (you can do the math.) I skimped on my training, and you get what you train for. It was marathon #8 for me, and I can at least be proud of that.

Okay, back to Narnia. See you tomorrow for the hardest-to-remember book! (Seriously, it's everyone's least favorite, right?)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Heading out

It is 4 am on Saturday. I'm headed to the bus pick-up for the big race. Feeling....okay.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Narnia Covers, book 4: The Silver Chair

Book 4: The Silver Chair

This was a really cool cover. It was intriguing--why is that guy attacking a chair? Is the chair indestructible?! The chair attacker was a mystery, androgynous, long hair, slightly royal looking outfit, you can't see the face. What an exciting and mysterious cover! It almost looks more like a classic rock album cover than a kid's book cover--like a Led Zepplin album or something. I'm fairly confident I remembered it right (no missing sea monsters here.)

What I remember from the story: (this feels like I'm writing a school book report, 25 years after reading the book...)

Just two kids, a boy and a girl (girl's named Pole?) go on a quest with a weird swamp man, Puddleglum (who lived in a wigwam?) At some point they are walking in some deep canyons, and they find out that the canyons spell out a word (zero memory of what the word was.) They go underground where there is a race of people (or dwarves or something) being used as slaves by some baddies. I want to say giants. The whole thing takes place underground. The kids are trying to free the slaves, and also escape themselves. I feel like I remember this one pretty well.

I can't remember what the chair was. Was it a magic chair? I got nothing about the chair.

I also, very specifically, remember that this book was where I first learned the term "stop being a wet blanket." But I can't remember who was being the wet blanket.

Thinking back, this one should have been my favorite book in the series. If I remember correctly, it was the only Narnia book where you worried about the outcome--the only one that made you think, "How are they getting out of this?" Compelling! Of all the books in the series, I feel like this one is best suited for a movie. Self-contained with a spooky, tense plot.

Silver Chair--from here on we move into strange territory (I won't lie to you, I've got a yawning black hole in my memory bank where The Horse and His Boy should be.)

By the way, I have a big run tomorrow, the Utah Valley Marathon. I'm going for a personal record: Slowest Time Ever. It'll be my 8th marathon, but my training hasn't been the greatest. Here's hoping it doesn't rain like it did last year. I'd better go buy a plastic poncho. My poncho saved my bacon last year! Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Silver Chair Waiting Area

Hey everyone--I'm looking forward to the Silver Chair cover and discussion. But it's going to have to happen tomorrow.

It's now 1:21 AM, and I'm still fighting my page quota. Today's pages have been very elaborate--they are part of a complex naval battle scene. There are multiple ships, there is choppy water, there are hundreds of tiny sailors, cannons, explosions--don't get me wrong, I'm having a BLAST. But these pages are going LONG.

The comments so far have been very interesting. I've apparently flip-flop/mirror-imaged the last two images. So bizarre. Also, I seem to have misplaced a sea serpent on the Dawn Treader cover. I can't believe I missed a whole SEA SERPENT! I seriously can't remember the sea serpent. The day I finally Google these covers is going to be a VERY interesting day.

See you tomorrow. Bone up on your Silver Chair. I have a clear image of both the cover and the story--only one thing: I can't remember the importance of the actual Silver Chair. Don't tell me, maybe I'll remember.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Narnia Covers, book 3: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Cover #3: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

This one. This cover, man.

I must have pored over this cover for hours. It was so cool! But I can't quite remember the color scheme. I think the boat was supposed to be brown, yeah, kind of a golden brown--now it's coming back (too late.)

What I remember from the story:

Because this was my favorite cover, it was also my favorite book. I can't remember WHY they were sailing around, or WHAT they were looking for. They were just sailing along, stopping at weird islands. I remember the pool that turned things into gold, the island of the Dufflepods (well, I remember the Dufflepods--I don't remember what they did with them.)

The scene I remember the clearest is the scene where Eustace puts the bracelet up high on his arm, then turns into a dragon and the bracelet squeezes his arm. I could really feel that arm pain. Then I remember the followup scene, where Aslan claws off the dragon meat. (They totally wimped out in the movie; Aslan does a spell and the scales just sort of twinkle off. Not the dragon vs. lion gore-fest I wanted. RAWR! RIP! SLASH! RIP!)

I remember an island where there was a star man. And I remember the weird final island which was like a scary tunnel(?)

Seeing the movie so recently has messed up my memory. I'm glad we are now leaving the movie-ized books (almost--I have seen the BBC Silver Chair, but it's been a long time.)

I watched the E3 Nintendo press conference--what a crazy controller-screen-thing. Should be interesting to see how it turns out. I love seeing the three big console companies try to outsmart each other. Not a lot of interesting games shown this year, seemed to be nothing but shooters and motion control games (and motion control-shooter games.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wednesday Shop Talk

I don't want to burn straight through the Narnia material too fast. I've got to space these covers out to better remember them.

I thought you might want to hear why I had a change of heart about the blog Summer Hours. I really was ready to shutter the blog last week. Wanna hear what changed my mind? What made my workload easier?

A stopwatch.

I downloaded a stopwatch widget for my computer. I figured I would time myself for each of the steps in completing a page. There are four steps. All of the pages already exist as fairly detailed sketches, so I need to take the sketch page and apply the following:
  • Step 1: I create the borders, word balloons and letters. I'm hand-lettering this puppy, and all future graphic novels, hand-lettering just looks better.
  • Step 2: I do the final drawing. I'd call that "inking," but I'm doing it digitally, so the word ink doesn't apply.
  • Step 3: Is the layer of shading, all grays.
  • Step 4: The final layer of blue laid over the gray.
This stopwatch is HUGE, it fills my second monitor with giant, angry numbers--it looks like the countdown timer on a self-destruct button from a movie. Anyway, I've been carefully timing each step. I record the times on a paper, then total them to see how fast I can do a finished page. For some crazy reason, the stopwatch has kept me on task.

Here are my records:
  • Step 1: 20:04
  • Step 2: 1:07:05
  • Step 3: 48:43
  • Step 4: 13:45
Those are all from different pages. My fastest overall page was 170 minutes total.

Also, I ratcheted my desk up to standing height, so I work standing up. It seems to give me more energy. These measures might sound crazy to you, but when you work alone, from home, this is the kind of thing you have to do to stay on your toes. It's a constant mind game. When I was penciling CALAMITY JACK, I asked Shannon and Dean if I could report my pages to them each week--just a page-count to keep me on track. They agreed, and we got that book finished on time. I didn't finish RAPUNZEL on time, but that's another story.

So, if I use the stopwatch, and the stand-up desk, I get my pages done in the afternoon. If I DON'T use the stopwatch, and sit in my comfy drafting stool, I end up working laaaate into the night.

If I don't use the stopwatch, sit in the comfy stool and live-stream the E3 (video game expo) press conferences all day, then I don't even finish my quota for the day.
  • Monday, Press conferences watched: Microsoft (lousy,) EA (okay, new SSX looks good) Ubisoft (entertaining, side-scrolling Ray-Man looks fun) and Sony (if they put out a Monster Hunter on that new PS VITA, I'm so getting one.)
  • Pagecount: only 1.
I hereby promise to use the stopwatch and the standing desk tomorrow. (After the Nintendo presser! Gotta see that! What will the new system be!?!)

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Narnia Covers, book 2: Prince Caspian

Cover #2: Prince Caspian

This was a cool cover--definitely in the top three. I remember it being very orange and aggressive. The one part I can't quite picture clearly is the Prince himself. I remember the big, hulking knight (Did he have a sword? I can also picture a big spiked club.) And, for sure, this cover had some very stylish trees in the background.

What I remember from the story:

Phew. This one is a little blank. I remember that the words, "Usurper" and "Tyrant" came up a lot. My first time through the series was as a listener, my Dad read them aloud to me (and my younger siblings) when I was a kid. I can clearly recall asking, "What is a Usurper/Tyrant?" every night. This book taught me those two words. That said, I can't remember who or what the usurper/tyrant did. I guess he usurped the kingdom. Prince Caspian's dad? Uncle? Can't remember him, or how they eventually beat him.

I have no memory of any English children being in this one, although I'm sure they were. There was a cool badger named Trufflehunter (I think this was the book he was in.)

I did see the recent movie, I think I saw it within the past twelve months too. I remember nothing. That movie is white noise in my brain. Was there a hunky centaur? I think I remember him, not much else. For some reason it blends into Disney's Prince of Persia (also white noise.) A lot of running around, some tents, lots of battle scenes where the two sides run at each other across a field.

I do have a different movie memory though, from the somewhat iffy, early 90's BBC series. There was a part where Prince Caspian was hanging out with some owls, and they were just actors in huge, people-sized owl costumes. Don't remember anything else, just that.

This memory stuff is fun! I can't wait to see the real covers. It sounds like a lot of you had this same set.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Narnia Covers: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Cover #1: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

I'm almost 100% sure of the composition of this cover. The four kids framing the open wardrobe. I'm pretty sure the lamp post was centered. And I know there were fur coats and pine trees. This was not one of my favorite covers--in fact, I think it might be in the bottom two. I'm really looking forward to seeing the real image and how close (or far) I got to it.

What I remember from the story:

I remember every story element that appeared on the cover; the coats, the snowy landscape and the lamp post. I also firmly remember the Snow Queen (is that what she was called?) giving Edmund the Turkish Delight--which in my mind was something like teriyaki beef jerky, it never seemed like candy to me, definitely beef jerky. I also remember that Santa Claus/Father Christmas shows up(?) And I remember that the Snow Queen could freeze people into statues.

What I don't remember:

How they beat the Snow Queen, or, really, anything besides the stuff above.

Now, I saw the movie they made of this book, back when it came out. But I remember it even less than I do the book. I do remember that Tilda Swinton was the best part, and I remember thinking the kids in the movie made the wrong choice: when choosing sides between Tilda Swinton and a lumpy CGI lion, you should ALWAYS choose Tilda Swinton.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Narnia Covers

I watched the Voyage of the Dawn Treader Narnia movie last week. It's been a long time since I read that series, and I couldn't quite tell which scenes were true to the book. Some things seemed familiar, but some things didn't. It made me realize I only have the faintest memory of those books.

I do remember my favorite thing about the Chronicles of Narnia. It wasn't the characters, or the adventures, or C.S. Lewis' writing style, or the Sunday School agenda. Nope, I barely remember that stuff. What I do remember are the paperback covers.

The 70's ones.

The psychedelic ones, where it looked like Narnia was just a few blocks from Yellow Submarine's Pepperland. I spent a lot of happy hours staring at those covers. So, for fun, I'm going to see if I can draw them from memory--it's been at least 20 years since I've seen them. I won't look the originals up (I'm sure they are just a Google search away.) Afterwards, I'll post the real covers and we can compare and contrast. Just for kicks, I'll see what I can remember from the actual books themselves too.

Tomorrow, I'll start with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I Can't Quit You

I thought long and hard about it. I just can't stop the blog for three months. I've been doing it for too long, and too many good things have come from it.

I went back to check when I started this blog, and, can you believe it, two years ago today was the start date. June 1st, 2009 was when I officially started blogging regularly. I did Chuck the Lazy Isopod in May 2009, but I made the weekday posting official on June 1st. I'm 662 posts in. This thing is a habit I don't want to break.

So, hold on to your seats, there are no such thing as Summer Hours. This train keeps rolling!

Happy 2nd birthday to the Station!