Saturday, December 22, 2007

Finally -- a breather!

Sorry about the long delay since my last post, but I've been busy and it's taken me a wee bit to get my equalibrium.

Besides the usual chaos of the holidays, I've also started a new gig and it's different in many respects then what I've done in the past. I'm helping to storyboard for a live-action feature...Terminator 4. I think the official name is Terminator Salvation. It's taken me a little time to get my legs under me, but the further I go along the more I realize it's not too different then storyboarding for an animated feature in many respects. What's mostly different are the people (all of them seem great) and the process is somewhat different.

Anyway we're off for this coming week, so I'm hoping to get a jump on a couple of freelance gigs and several commissions as well.

I also appreciate all your well wishes concerning the 'secret' project that I'm pitching. Hopefully after the new year that will start to move forward again. During December very little starts to happen in this business and the town starts to shut down until after the first. Some of you claim to have an idea what it is...I'm curious if you do and how you figured it out. You can just e-mail me to help preserve the secret...

Here's a rough for one of the commissions I've been working on...

It's amazing how popular those Evo girls still are.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Peak Oil - How Will You Ride the Slide?

This is a video put together by an old friend and colleague Bruce Woodside. I thought it was well worth sharing with everyone.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Just in case... didn't notice I set up a PayPal button for my new Sketchbook over on the right. I also added buttons for overseas purchases.

here's another little taste...

This is a one of several pitch/presentation designs I created for a new Mask TV series - the show never went too far from what I understand. Hopefully it had nothing to do with the art...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I've just been notified that my original plan for the temporary way to sell my new sketchbooks won't work as I thought it would. Apparently there isn't a place to notate that you want my 2nd book when you click on the PayPal icon for my 1st book. So let's go to temporary plan B: just go to PayPal and use my e-mail address and fill it out for $20 (assuming you want only one) and indicate that it's for E&A 2. Hopefully by this weekend I will arrange something a little more permanent.

Don't forget....

Bidding ends Sunday! There's still lots of good deals to be had - including my drawing....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Most Excellent News!

It seems odd to have such good news while most of Southern Cailfornia is burning - including the town of Running Springs that we used to live in (for 11 years), but I do. Actually two good pieces of news.

A little more than two weeks ago we finished the first draft script for the feature project I've been hinting to all of you and I sent it to the famous writer, whom I optioned it from, to get his blessing. Despite my confidence that what we had written was a really good first draft I do admit to starting to get somewhat nervous as time went on. Did we take too many liberties and change too much?...did we leave something out from his book that he really liked?...did we take it in a direction that interfered with some of his other writings?
Well, this morning I received an e-mail, via his lawyer, that he approves our first draft. Needless to say I was pretty damned excited and relieved. So, now I can move forward and send it to all the studios that have shown interest in it. Rest assured it went out pretty damn quick. Now I just have to wait to see what type of reaction we get from the people with all the money....

I apologize for still being a little cagey as to what the project is (I'm not usually superstitious -ptoo, ptoo, ptoo), but about this I am a wee bit. I thought I could at least show you an image that my good friend, Francesco Francavilla created and my son, Eric painted. If you're ambitious there is some info floating around out there - if you know where to look...

The other good news I have is that the new books have arrived! It'll take me a little time to setup a special ordering system for them, but in the meanwhile you can use the other PayPal order button and just indicate in the notes section that you want to order Expressions & Attitudes 2. They sell for $20 within the US (just like the first book) and I will try to include a sketch inside - for as long as I have time to do that. If you want it shipped outside the US let me know and we'll figure out the price.

For all of you that are threatened by fire our hearts go out to you and please excuse me for my moment of joy.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Wonder Woman Day 2007

Just a quick update and a promo for a worthwhile event. Woman Woman Day is good chance to bid on some great artwork by some world class artists (including one of my personal favorites Adam Hughes) and to do some good for a couple of charities. I contributed a piece last year and was asked to do so again this year.

As the first non work-related drawing I've done in a long time it seemed like a good way to get my feet 'wet' again. Hopefully you'll all check out the auction 0n Oct. 28 and bid on some nice art...hopefully mine included.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I'm Baaaack!!!

I know it seems like forever since I last posted and I want to thank all of you for sticking it out and still checking in to see if I'll ever get off my lazy ass and post again. I'm shocked at how many of you did stick it out waiting for me. I don't know that I would've, but I'm kind of the easily distracted type of guy - as if you couldn't tell.

As, I'm sure you all assumed, my day job has been keeping me busy beyond almost anything else I've ever done before. But I think the results will be worth it and everyone should be thrilled when they see the show. That job is now coming to a close and I should have more free time ahead of me, but hopefully not too much. At least I might be able to make my wife happy and clean-up my desk at home. I'm starting to look around for the next gig so if anyone knows of anything - I do windows!

In the meantime there's lots of news to share. As I said earlier my day job, Wolverine and the X-Men is wrapping the first season post production and it's looking good. The publicity poster has made it to the web (I'll let you find that on your own) and there seems a lot of positive reaction to it). One of the things that has also kept me busy has been working with a writer on the first draft to a script of a property I optioned and we should have that first draft wrapped within a few days and sent out to all the people that were interested in funding the film. the script is turning out to be really good -really, really good - especially for a first draft. Hopefully the author I optioned it from and the studios will think so as well. If things go well i should be able to be less vague in the very near future. I will tell you what I told the author when I was asking for the option on his book. "This will not be your daddy's' animated film and it will have more in common with EC Comics and Anime films like Graveyard of the Fireflies and Akira then anything done in this country yet".

If this happens this could be my next gig, but I suspect I'll have to find some work in the meantime - maybe some storyboards or some presentation and design work (actually a studio has already contacted me about doing some presentation/design work for a new show, but that's still in the early stages of discussion).

More big news: after a huge misstep in publishing my next sketchbook, it should be available within a couple of weeks. My original printer had gone out of business and I had to find a new one so, on the recommendation of a friend, I went with a new printer and I got nothing but delays and excuses from them even to the point where I couldn't even get them to respond to my e-mail or phone calls. I stupidly gave them a deposit when they asked for (thankfully via PayPal) and finally had to ask for my money back (thank you PayPal) - and finally I did have that money returned. Word to the wise: never give a printer a deposit until they've at least sent you a proof. So, in the meantime, the original printer of my first book (Dreamweaver Press) went back into business and I just looked at and approved the proof the other day. So it shouldn't be long before I get a couple of boxes of books. I'll keep you updated.

Anyway thanks again for all of you sticking it out with me and I promise not to wait so long between posts and, though I'm hesitant to promise, I intend on trying to post at least one new drawing a week if not more often.

I also thought that since I'm starting receive the Academy screeners I might also include a few mini-reviews for the films I watch - especially some of the more obscure ones. But I will not give away any suggestion of how I might eventually vote.

With that in mind I saw Once. It's a small film that my wife and i both thoroughly enjoyed. It took a few minutes to get used to the accents, but it was worth the effort. I reminded me a little bit of the commitments and maybe that was just because of the location or because it involved struggling musicians. The music was wonderful and a couple of the songs found their way onto my I-Pod. The main actor's (Glen Hansard) voice and singing style remind me of Cat Stevens. The story was not typical -as is the case with many small independent films - and did not end the way I expected it to, but it was definitely satisfying.

Well, that's it for now...hopefully I'll be back soon.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Still trying...

I realized I had started a little late with putting my new sketchbook together for SDCC, but it still seemed as if there was enough time when I remembered how quickly they were turned around last year. Unfortunately I didn't count on the original printer going out of business (or so I was told) and the new printer having problems with weather and their equipment (I'm not sure what could've happened...did they have their equipment outside?)

Anyway, at this point it doesn't look very likely that the sketchbook being ready in time for ComicCon is a likely, but since I wasn't planning on setting up a table and selling them there I guess that's not a serious issue. I was hoping to have them available for Bud Plant to sell though, but I guess they'll have to sell them through their website instead and I'll also try to sell them from here as well. I'll let you know when they're available.

In the meanwhile here's a look at the cover (I hope...)

Despite not having anything to sell, my family and I will still be going to San Diego this coming week and wandering around the convention for awhile. I'll try to connect with as many friends and fans as possible, but anyone who has ever been to the SDCC knows just how difficult it is to locate anyone there - even those with tables or booths, but I'm hoping for the best.

Just a brief update: I'm still knee deep in work on Wolverine and the X-Men - all is going well and I'm positive fans will be thrilled when they see this new incarnation of the mutants - and I thought I'd clarify again that I am currently NOT working on any of the DTVs for Marvel/Lionsgate. My directing chores on Wolverine made it impossible to do what I felt was necessary to accomplish what they wanted. I assume sometime in the future that will probably change and I'll let you all know at that time.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Latest...

...well, sort of.
Although I'm still real busy (getting tired of hearing that? so am I), I've found a little time to put together my second sketchbook. I'm hoping it'll be ready in time for this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego, but I'm not counting on it. Either way it'll ba available through this blog and, I'm assuming, Bud Plant. I'll keep you all informed as we get closer to July 26th.

Speaking of the SDCC, this year I decided not to setup a table, but to let the professional sellers do their thing and do what they do best that way I can wander around and just schmooze with everyone.

I was hoping I might have some big news by this Comic-Con concerning the 'special' project I'm developing, but it won't be this year - maybe next? These things always take longer than we hope. We're getting closer all the time... the meantime here's a sample from the new book to whet your appetite (I hope)...

Thursday, May 24, 2007


I'm still really busy right now, but I definitely wanted to give a big Mazel Tov and cogratulations to Chris Miller, Raman Hui, Aron Warner, Andrew Adamson, Jeffrey Katzenberg and to all of the great film-makers that helped make Shrek the Third a huge success (as if they're actually reading this blog...).

I like to think that it probably wouldn't have been such a big success without the big push my HarperCollins Children's books gave it...don't worry I'm just kidding. But if you're interested you can purchase these books via Amazon through the links on the right.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

just a quick update....

...for those that are interested.

I'm still very busy these days with my directing duties on Wolverine and the X-Men. In fact I'm so busy that I had to remove myself from doing character design for the Marvel/Lionsgate DTV that I had started on. It was a job I had wanted to do, but I felt I just couldn't devote the necessary time to the project. Maybe sometime in the future I'll be able to rejoin them on a different DTV.
I still can't divulge any secrets about W&XM, but I can just about guarantee that all X-Men fans will be more than satisfied. Besides plenty of info seems to be leaking out from the voice actors and IMDB.
I wanted to give a public congrats to an artist I admire and a friend of mine, Sean "Cheeks" Galloway, for landing the gig of character designer on the new Spiderman show. He's got an awesome amount of talent and they really made a great choice - I wish him the best of luck!! You saw a little bit of that talent on Hellboy, but hopefully you'll be able to see even more on Spiderman.

Well, that's it for now - it's time to get back to editing my latest show, but in the meantime I'll leave you with one of my sketches from one of my 4+ HarperCollins Spiderman3 books (available at a store near you or through the links to the right)...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Book Look...

This coming Thursday, April 19th, I'll be involved in a book signing sponsered by CTN (The Creative Talent Network) and held at the Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks. I'll be signing copies of my sketchbook and many others (most biiger names than myself) will be there as well. So if you're in the neighborhood come on by and say "hi".
To find out more about the event you can click on the Book Look logo above.
I'll et you know how it all went after the event and maybe even tell you about how I used to own a gallery.
I'd also like to say "thanks" to all those who had some kind words about The Condor and also to alert you all to the fact that my HarperCollins books for both Spiderman3 and Shrek the Third are available at bookstores (and grocery stores, for that matter) as well as at Amazon if you click the link to the right.
I'm starting to put together materials for a second book that I should have ready for sale in a few months - I'll let you know more as soon as I do.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

It's kinda funny...

Yesterday Stan Lee presents: The Condor was on Toonami (and released on DVD 3/20) and I've been following along some of the message boards discussing it with amusement - okay, not really discussing it so much as slamming it.

I'm the first one to admit it's not a great film by any means and it suffers from several problems - mainly the small budget and short production schedule, but what I find really amusing is the slant some of these critics take on how some of the characters might be negative stereotyopes. What's really funny is these same critics don't recognize the fact that we also broke several stereotypes. The lead character's parents (both Latino) are wealthy owners of a bio-robotics laboratory and they are both smart and sophisticated as is his best friend Sammi (also a Latina). Yeah, I know, Sammi's another type of cliche - she's the typical girl that he should be with, but is too stupid to notice. I agree that some of the other Latinos are stereotypes, but for Southern California they aren't so much stereotypes as actual people you could meet on the street. Since we felt they were balanced out by Tony, his parents and Sammi it sure didn't feel like we were picking on the Latino community.

And actually one of the more intreresting things about this show is that any Latino that has seen it (that I've heard from) actually likes what we did. As ShadowGUN stated on one of the forums discussing Condor.
One of the other stereotypes that is often pointed out in these 'critiques' is Valeria being a sexy Asian. I never realized that this was a negative stereotype, but I doubt it'll offend too many Asians -especially since in the story she much more than eye candy and is the owner of a sports publication and turns out to be more than all that by the end of the film (I won't ruin it for anyone who still might want to buy the DVD). Her grandfather makes an appearance at the end of the film and he does seem to be more in the Fu-Manchu mode of stereotype, but since the implication is he's part of a bigger plot and organization we felt it worked for what we wanted. Frankly, he isn't anymore of a stereotype than the grandfather and many other characters in the Jackie Chan cartoon - maybe less.
The other complaint by many is the stereotypical voice acting and how there are doubts that many of them weren't even Latino. Due to the limited budget we originally went to Vanmcouver, BC to do our voice recording and to be honest there isn't a huge latino acting community up there, but wherever possible we did use Latinos to create these voices - though many of their names are not typical Latino.
I'm not trying to imply this is the Citizen Kane of animated superhero films - far from it, but I think it's no worse than many of the other current crop and better than some. And if you're interested enough in still seeing it (shameless plug) you can click on the button over to the right...
Anyway, I think I've defended this enough -- how about a couple of attitude and expression sheets from Stan Lee presents: The Condor (I created these expression and attitude sheets though the original designs for these characters came from Dan Haskett)....

...and if these aren't interesting enough for's a Lara Croft I did sometime ago (I don't think I ever showed it here or anywhere before)...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Busy, busy, busy...

Yep, I've been mighty busy lately - but why should you suffer, right? So even if I don't have something new to add (mainly because most of my waking hours are actually made up of things that I can't publicly discuss) I will try to at least post a pic or two. Like this commission I finished awhile ago of the Goblin Queen....

and this one I did for a warm up for the Spiderman 3 books for Haper Collins which are available for pre-oerder at Amazon - just use the links to the right.

I also wanted to let everyone know that the Direct-to-DVD I directed last year, Stan Lee presents The Condor, will be airing March 24th on Cartoon Network and available for pre-order now (once again the link is over there on the right).

Also one of the films I saw while a member of the AMPAS Feature Animation nomination committee was Paprika and I gave it extremely high marks and though it didn't make the cut for the final three you now have a chance to see this really great film made by Madhouse in Japan. The most unique thing about this film is that my wife, who usually can't sit through anime, really enjoyed this particular film.

here'a a link to the trailer...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

More from storage...

It's been a couple of busy weeks and I've had little time to post as I planned. I started a new job as one of the directors for Marvel's Wolverine and the X-Men working with my friend Boyd Kirkland who is the new producer of this series. Before you ask this is in no way a continuity with X-Men: Evolution and I will NOT be doing the character designs for this show. But I am doing design work for one of the next Marvel direct-to-videos that I cannot reveal the name of because it hasn't been announced yet. So needless to say I'm pretty busy these days.
I'm also still working at trying to get funding for that special project I mentioned in earlier posts (or alluded to since I really didn't give any specifics about it).
Anyway it seems appropo to continue discussing my work with Ralph Bakshi right after my rant about mo-cap and it's relative merrits. Especially since his use of rotoscope and roto-photo seemed to garner the same nasty reaction from the animation community as the recent use of motion capture seems to be getting. Especailly since I found a lot of this stuff in storage recently. I'll skip over the "Hey, Good Lookin'" and the "American Pop" years for now - especially since I hadn't saved anything of value from those films - and skip right to "Fire and Ice".
In Lord of the Rings the rule was to slavishly follow the live-action except for the animation of the faces which were obviously more broadly designed (by Dale Baer) then the live actors. Then on American Pop the rule was to follow the live-action EVEN in the faces which were mostly designed to look almost exactly like the live-actors (by Louise Zingarelli). I can only recall one design that was a little broader than the actor and this was certainly the exception. I often caught flak during AP because I would often push the acting, but that's another story.
On Fire and Ice we given the freedom to use the roto-scope in a more traditional approach (i.e.: like Dsiney) and change timing, play with poses and only use what worked from the live -action as well as having to create better acting than we were given by the live actors.

These are examples of how we had to change faces and proportions of the live action...(yes, that's Ralph standing in the background behind Darkwolf).
These are some of the construction sheets created to show the animators how to alter the actor into Larn.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Brewing Controversy...

My next post was actually going to discuss more of my past work for Bakshi, but I guess in a way it does sort of connect to what I'm going to blog about instead.
I usually don't get into too much opinion on this blog (which surprises many that know how opinionated I can be) because I usually just use this as a place to connect with fans. But recently I've seen a lot of other bloggers and animation people arguing about the validity of the films that have been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Film.
Just to be clear those films are Cars, Happy Feet, and Monster House.
The cotroversy that I'm talking about (or everyone else is talking aboout) is whether Motion capture animated films should be considered animated films and be able to compete with a non-motion caoture film like Cars.
Originally there were going to be 5 noiminations, but due to the fact that there needs to be 16 qualified and submitted films and the 16th one this year was disquailfied due to not enough animation the amount of nominations dropped down to 3. This controversy may never have reared its head if there were 5 nominations because there would have been a good chance that the other two nominations would have been similiarly animated in the same manner as Cars.

I've already posted on a couple of Blogs comment sections (like the excellent Mayerson on Animation and the Animation Guild's Blog) so I'll crib from my responses on those to start.

As a voting member of the Academy I feel very determined that certain things shouldn't be accepted in many categories. Such as Andy Serkis being given a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Gollum - at least not without the animators getting honored as well - anymore than Paul Newman should be nomnated for Doc in Cars. In this case I wouldn't think of disqualifying either of these films anymore than I would a film that was completely rotoscoped and hand drawn (such as some of Bakshi's films or Bluth's last couple of films or large chunks of several Disney films). These 2 nominated films still needed animators to work on and as any animator can tell these 2 films weren't strictly motion-captured. Motion capture, when used properly (like both Monster House and Happy Feet - IMO), is just a tool more along the lines of rotoscope was for even Disney on Snow White and too many films since to list. Though if the film had absolutely no animators actually working on it (I don't know if Scanner Darkley falls into this category or not - though it did qualify for nomination according to the board) then in my opinion it probably shouldn't.
I tend to avoid the phrase "slippery slope", but this definitely qualifies as one in my opinion. If these films had been disqualified because they used motion capture as a tool (like rotoscope has been used since Snow White) than do we disqualify poorly animated films? or films animated by subcontracted overseas studios for a small budget? or films that use too much roto-scope? There might need to be a line drawn, but this isn't where it should be.

Well, that's my 2 cents. Next post I'll get more on track and show some Fire and Ice rotos and how we traced them and really didn't animate that film...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

pay attention...

Don't ask questions...just mark your calenders and do what you need to do (you can also click the banner to find out more).

Friday, January 12, 2007

Something from the past...

Happy New Year everyone... a little late , but still well-intentioned.

Recently I needed to clean out some stuff from my storage unit (how many boxes of unused VHS videos does one person need to store?) and decided to also go through some of my old wprk boxes. I found some stuff that I think some of you might find interesting. At least I found it interesting.

Here's a Roto-scope frame from the first film I ever worked on - Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings. If I recall right this scene was never used, but I thought it was a great shot that showed some of the main characters and the actors that mimed their parts. Just like in regular animation the voices were recorded by actors (including John Hurt as Aragorn) and then the 'roto-actors' would act/pantomime to the recorded voices that were played back for them. It sounds awkward, but worked remarkably well.
Underneath is a drawing I did myself many years ago of Aragorn, Boromir and Gandalf based on this roto. This was probably towards the end of production and I'd been animating (sort of) for awhile. It doesn't look too bad considering how little I knew at the time...