Friday, July 4, 2008


A book I've read a few times becomes a movie I've seen close to a thousand times. Quentin has yet to top the work he did here. Sure his more recent work has been top notch, but none of them come close to showcasing the sheer understanding of the cinematic craft that this man has.

Honestly I have no idea what is behind this. For some reason this film always gets my brain back to work. On my greatest creative roll, I fell asleep to a warn out VHS copy of Jackie Brown every night for a year. During that period I completed a number of scripts, animatics, and even my first and only live action screenplay. To date, I've not been able to match the output I had during that period.

It's been a rough week for me. One to cap off what has been a couple months of internal struggle. I have missed 2 days of work this week, and I am on the fence about ever going back. Mind you, I still feel this way after having a total of 10 days off over 3 weeks of June. This year so far has been one of disappointment, and delay. For a year that started with so much promise, I find myself questioning where things may have gone wrong. I am just plain exhausted and when I'm not exhausted, I'm depressed. It's absolutely killing my creative output. Tonight I've gone back to square one. Watching the movies and listening to the music that inspire me to get back to the table and tackle those blank pages.

I pushed out 4 pages worth of storyboards tonight. I know it's not much, but it's a start.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Trouble With Blogs

Sorry for my absence as of late. I have been storyboarding and writing a lot. Nothing I can really post quite yet. I'll be posting some works from my archives in the coming days. I'm currently in the midst of a reorganizing.

Sit tight, I'll be back shortly.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Danger Bobby Thompson! Danger!

Today I bring you another prime example of drawing inspiration from something well beyond my years. I am a pretty big "Lost In Space" fan. Not so much the movie from the mid-90's, the original 60's television show with Jonathan Harris. I remember staying home sick and watching re-runs as a kid, and it's because of that, I think I find comfort in old television. As a kid, during the day if you stayed home, that was all that was on television. Back in the days when morning TV was not full of talk shows who's hosts are content to talk over each other just to get themselves heard. Networks ran great old TV shows. It was here my love for Lucy bloomed. I found fun in the antics of the evil Doctor Smith, and laughed at the zany physical comedy that was Jack Tripper, aka the late, great John Ritter.

So enough old man banter. Here in all his "Will Robinson-ness" is Ace Fernando's trusty young ward, and venerable side kick, Bobby Thompson!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Monk Stays In the Picture

Here are some older designs of The Monkster and his friend Jimmy. If you notice, the design of Monkster's feet have changed. Now that I am actually designing cartoon characters to be turned into toys, there are certain guidelines I have to keep in mind while designing. His feet in previous incarnations provided what I was told could be a "choke hazard" in toy form. Meaning if the feet on a toy of the Monkster were to break off of said toy, a child could choke on the busted parts.

So on the newer renditions below, you'll notice he's got regular looking chicken feet, as opposed to the retro cool, 50's modern design above. The irony here being that when I set out to give the character an overhaul a year ago, the sturdy feet you see below were the first thing I placed on the chopping block. They were the one thing that always bothered me about the character, but now with Monkster's new properly proportioned body, they give the character a unique look. I can't wait to get him in motion and see those little chicken legs flying!

Now Jimmy here had quite the long and arduous journey to get to the sleek and fun design you see above. I do feel he needs one or two more redesigns before we hit animation. I would like to lessen some of the hard angles on his midsection and get to something a bit more rounded in some places. I was going for a hybrid Jay Ward-esk look for our boy here. He's part Peabody's boy Sherman, and part Timmy Turner of "The Fairly Odd Parents" with maybe a bit of Hanna-Barbera rolled in for good measure. I'll be posting some exploratory expression work I've been doing with Jimmy and Monkster shortly.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What I'm Listening To (With a P.S. of What I Saw)

Time yet again for another installment of this classic weekly series in which I tell you what you should be listening to, because I'm listening to it. You all know how amazing my taste in music is. What's wrong with you? Go buy the stuff I tell you to.

Don't get me started on how things would be better if I ruled the world. Lets just get into the musical selections of the week shall we?

So have we all finally accepted Jack White of the White Stripes as our personal lord and savior? I know I have!

Jack is back again with singer/songwriter Brendan Benson and the rest of The Raconteurs for another stellar album. Their sophomore release "Consolers Of The Lonely" shows just what happens when 2 cosmically stellar musical forces combine for not just a first, but a SECOND album. Solid all the way through, and yet, only came close in dethroning Air Traffic's "Fractured Life" for my favorite album of the year so far. God, (aka Jack White) may strike me down for saying so, but right now the race for album of my heart ('08 edition) belongs to them Brits.

Specifically, the tracks "You Don't Understand Me", "Salute Your Solution", "Old Enough", and "Many Shades of Black" are my faves. I'm listening to the album as I write this. Pick it up, you will not be disappointed in the least! The tracks that are even mixes of Jack and Brendan are nothing short of beauty.

Oh, Stephen Malkmus. (admirable sigh) How I remember rocking out to your now legendary 90's-college-radio-friendly band known as Pavement. Then how after when I got out of high school, lost everything I owned, couch hopped all over the North Hollywood/Studio City hood, drove around in my piece of crap car rocking out to quite possibly the best song ever written about Yule Brenner called "Jo-Jo's Jacket" from your solo album; I would smile and want to get home to watch the movie "West World". Yet sadly, I am a bit disappointed in your new album. Well, disappointed may be a harsh term for the moment. I'm a bit preoccupied with the now broken out street war between Air Traffic and The Raconteurs. Never the less, when my ears can take no more of either of the champions for my heart, I'm listening to "Real Emotional Trash" from Stephen and his new band The Jicks. I'm on the fence about it now, but I'm sure when my ears clear, and Jack White has laid waste to what was once the band Air Traffic, I will listen to this album and like Stephen's past releases, enjoy them with a passion. For right now, my heart belongs to Jack, and not in a gay way.

Now we end this week's feature with a bit of the unusual. In accompaniment with what I've been listening to, I would like to bring to light, what I recently saw at my local cineplex. It's now firmly been established that I will go see anything Simon Pegg is in. (With the exception of the forthcoming Star Trek movie. I just can't do it. I've had far too much sex in my life to be able to sit through a Trek film, no matter who's in it, or who helmed it) Simon Pegg, you may or may not know as Shawn of "Shawn of the Dead" and the Fuzz, of the film "Hot Fuzz", in which he played Sargent Nicholas Angel. Not only does he star in the film, he co-wrote it with MTV's "The State" alum, Michael Ian Black. Oh but wait, it gets better! It stars quite possibly one of the most underrated actor/comedians of our time; One Mr. Hank Azaria. Now the bad news is, it was directed by David "Ross from Friends" Schwimmer, who you all know we had to forgive at some point for the whole Ross and Rachel debacle. Finally we are now able to do so and David may return to the rest of society. He turns in a fine directorial debut in this film. A film that is full of heart, and laughs, and even a few shots of a very unattractive British man ass. Go see it, and listen to The Raconteurs on the way to the theater.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Mommy's Little Monkster

Trying to keep the gears moving has become priority. Ace provided a nice way to restart the machine that is my brain, now it's time to start moving around the other pokers in the fire too. Potential work is afoot, and I need to get sharpened back up asap. I pulled out a few exploratory Monkster sketches from the later part of last year. At a certain point I hit a great stride with this character. Drawings were constantly on model, and he was starting to come to life. In a lot of ways he's my Mickey Mouse or Kermet the Frog. Just like Walt and Jim thought of their creations, I think of Monkster as a living being. I find myself singing in the car with his voice quite frequently. It just kind of happens. When I struggle with his facial features, I look in the mirror and make faces of my own. Monkster is the personification of my mischievous side, and the troublemaker that I was always afraid to be. He's everything I'm not, just as I am everything he's not.

It's been interesting doing research on this design. Coming across interviews of former Disney animators like Fred Moore and Frank Thomas, who are 2 of the draftsmen responsible for the sleek lined and well proportioned Mickey Mouse we know today. Both men were responsible for redesigning Mickey at key points in his career. I found resonance in Fred Moore's redesign of Mickey in 1939 in particular. Fred was in part responsible for Mickey during the production of "Fantasia" and the first person to give Mickey pupils in his eyes.

Can anyone tell why this redesign was necessary?

Expression. Pie eyed Mickey was not able to emote enough emotion for Uncle Walt's liking and for Mickey's movie star debut, acting was key.

Now compare 1930's Mickey to the Monkster sketch above. Pie eyes.
I ran into a lot of the same problems they had to have run into at Disney's in the late 30's. Trying to get Monkster to emote more has been quite the task. Why not just redesign Monkster? Well, I'm stubborn and I like Monkster the way he is. He came out of my head with pie eyes, and pie eyed is the way he's gonna stay. The design flaw doesn't mean the character is to be given up on, no. I just view it as a challenge.

In trying to find contemporary characters to mimic, "The Animaniacs" were a huge help in my studies. I know the mere mention of those characters makes any animation historian cringe, but say what you will. Their design flaw was a huge help in trying to overcome Monkster's. It's so far so good I think. Take for example the 2 quick sketches below (Forgiving the flipper hands on the one on the right):

I see thought, organic thought. You can see wheels turning as if he's a living, breathing thing. Particularly on the left. Look at the stretch, and gesture that is going on there. I can hear him talking already. Any moment he's gonna try and trick me out of the pudding snack from my lunch, I can feel it.

More of these sketches to come. I'm trying to dig out some of my sketch pads from last year on Monkster and The Canopy as we speak.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Learning to Logo

Every time I sit down to work on a logo for a new show I can't help but remember the hundreds, if not thousands of tips and tricks my friend Cliff Galbraith taught me over oh so many summers spent sweltering in a North Hollywood garage. Balance, focal points, original font design, etc. The keys to an eye catching and original logo. It is also every time I sit down to do a logo, that I miss his guidance more and more. He's living on the other coast now, and it may as well be Mars.

Anyways, enough of my old man ramblings and on with tonight's artwork!

The official logo for Ace Fernando: Space Commando!

It's gonna make one hell of a shirt if I do say so myself. Line up to the left and have your $12.95 in hand and ready. No checks please.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What I'm Listening To

Diverse listening habits this week for me, as is usually the norm.

I learned long ago to make soundtracks for what ever project I'm working on. I put the mix on in the background while I work and it seems to really help me exude the desired vibe I want for the show. Example, with "The Monkster" I like to listen to Ska and modern Punk. With "Really Bad Movie!" it was all classic lounge and swing tunes.

Latin lounge music helps in all the "Ace Fernando" work I've been doing. Guess it gets me in the mood to work on this character. Ace is suave, but quite cheesy. Just like the musical selections I've made on his behalf.

I downloaded this pretty cool Xavier Cugat album from iTunes the other night. Not having been too familiar with his music, but having heard plenty about the man from my grandmother Delores while I was growing up; I figured I'd finally dive into his catalog for Ace's sake.

About half the tracks made it onto my Ace playlist. Each song on the album is named after a drink. At some point I plan on drinking those drinks while listening to their corresponding songs. Not really because I have to, but I feel like I should. After all, if you plan to listen to music from this period, one must learn to drink like your grandparents did. With some class, sophistication and with the knowledge of what kind of glass goes with what kind of drink. Do your homework, listen to this album, and get back to me for a quiz.

The album cover of this album on iTunes is different from the one to the left, but the title of the album remains the same. From legendary arranger/composer Juan Garcia Esquivel, aka Esquivel, comes this amazing auditory oddity. This is the man who invented "Space Age Bachelor Music", for without him I fear most of our grandparents would never have gotten laid, presenting the problem of our lack of existence. One ponders the amounts of martini drank to the sound that this man provided and promptly goes cross-eyed. Esquivel provides an amazing escape to the early 1960's for me that no other composer has even come close to providing. Though I was not there in person, I believe my soul was. You will find his rendition of "Harlem Nocturne" as the theme for "Really Bad Movie" and if I get my way about it, his music will also provide the theme for our friend Ace.

Downloaded this album from iTunes as well. An Irish group called Bell X1. Though the album is a couple years old, it's one that slipped by me at it's time of release. A solid album all the way through. If you like "Franz Fernanand" and "Keane", you will probably adore this band. Their sound can be similar at times but I found Bell X1 to have a more rich and deep sound. The track "Eve, the Apple Of My Eye" will sound familiar to you, as it does to me. I just can't place what movie and/or film I remember it from. They use so many random tracks of music in promotion of forthcoming television seasons these days, it's hard to keep tabs on which sappy promo had which sappy song in it. See promos from season 2 of "Gray's Anatomy" with The Fray's "How to Save a Life" for an example. The promo prompts almost all men into believing they've had their ovaries removed, yet you still want to watch.

More great music from the UK, and a blaring reminder of how SHITTY the music scene here in the states has become. "Fractured Life" from UK's Air Traffic has been playing musical chairs on my iPod since it's purchase at the end of last month. When I'm not working, I'm listening to this album or, Bell X1.

This is by far my favorite album of the new year, and with the way things are shaping up, it may be my favorite album of the year.
At this point the only album on the horizon that could dethrone this one is the new one from The Raconteurs.

This is the album I recommend you pick up asap. You will not be disappointed.

So there you have what I'm listening to right now. More Ace related artwork to come tomorrow. I have cleared most of the evening to work on some of the sketches I recently completed. Check back soon.

Color Commando

Finishing now the components of the logo for Ace Fernando: Space Commando. All that's left for me to do is finish up the other text elements and it will be complete. For now, here is Ace himself, in full color glory.

Pretty cool huh? What a douche bag he's gonna be!

Not sure yet who's next. I got Ace's trusty young ward, Bobby Thompson and his sister Susy drawn, along with the butch-lesbian-robot Nurse Click. I'll get to them and get them up asap. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Going Commando

Working on the development of characters from square one is my favorite part of the job. While working on the currently-in-limbo-but-still-looking-promising-show "The Canopy"; My writing partner, and all around genius in the field of writing, Brandon Alexander, asked if I'd be interested in helping develop one of his properties to the ready. That property, "Ace Fernando: Space Commando" about a self absorbed latin space commando saving the world in the futuristic year of 2003.

The pilot is on the way. Writing has commenced, and it's coming along well. Along with the pilot, I've begun preliminary character design. This is a relatively tough phase in the process. Lots and lots of wasted paper, and wasted time. In the end though you when you get the result you wanted, you quickly get past the annoyances of your own limitations. Ace in particular gave me quite the struggle in designing. Of course when dealing with a character of such ethnic persuasion, and in this case, a conceded attitude to boot, you tend to ware down pencils to a nub. Finding the right mix of fun and annoyance is a hard thing to do.

For the first post in the coming slew of Ace related posts, here is Ace himself.

Not too bad for this being the 5th attempt at nailing the design, right?

More to come this week. I've got some personal deadlines to hit on this series in the coming days. Stay tooned.

Hey! Over here! Look at me!

Yeah so I finally caved and got one of these blog deals for myself. I find inspiration in the blogs of other artists out there, so it's time I gave back. I have no idea who the hell could find any spark from one of my doodles, but it's worth a shot.

Maybe I'm not getting enough attention these days. Maybe it's my recent move to the boonies, or maybe it's another Saturday night and I'm home alone, bored. What ever the case may be, I will be posting things here from time to time.

Check back soon, check back often.