Monthly Archives: October 2009

Joyeux anniversaire, Asterix!

By Toutatis!  The French comic strip Asterix le Gaulois debuted 50 years ago today in Pilote magazine.


Hide and shriek!

Here’s the opening spread from Where’s My Mummy? This scene shows Mama Mummy getting Baby Mummy ready for bed—but Baby wants to play one more round of hide & shriek.

Since they’re mummies, I designed an interior to look like the inside of a pyramid, with lots of Egyptian details.  The legendary art director at Candlewick, Caroline Lawrence, felt the setting didn’t convey enough ghoulishness, so she asked me to redraw the scene with a gothic interior.


Revised sketch with gothic details below.  Architecture geeks will note the new shape of the columns, rough-hewn stone walls and groined vault arched ceiling.


I changed the oil-burning lamp to a candelabrum, but doused the candles in the color version because they were causing me lighting/shadow problems.  I kept the sarcophagus bed from the first sketch.


The light is coming from a single source.  More dramatic and easier to paint.  Also, the viewer’s eye naturally looks to the light source, which is where I put Baby Mummy.


H is for Haunted House


from Merrily Kutner’s Z Is For Zombies.

G is for Ghost


…from Z Is For Zombie.

On the road again

I’ll be visiting my friends at Sewickley Academy, Edgeworth, Osborne, QV and St James schools Wednesday-Thursday-Friday.  Saturday morning at 11:00 I’ll be on hand for storytime at the Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley, Pa.  I’ll read a book and paint a picture.  Please stop by and say hello on Saturday if you’re in the neighborhood!

K is for Knight


This image comes from Z is for Zombies by Merrily Kutner.  I painted this one a long time ago.  I think this was my second book, and the only one I didn’t do for laughs.  Very unlike me.  All the images are kind of scary…

How do I know when I’m plagiarizing?

That's the AP photo on the left, Shepard Fairey's poster on the right.

That's the AP photo on the left, Shepard Fairey's poster on the right.

This is a question I got all the time when I taught graphic design, and it is a big issue in this digital world where images are seemingly there for the taking.

Shepard Fairey’s case seems to me to be a no-brainer—there’s hardly any difference between the AP photo and his poster, so I’m calling it plagiarism.  If he’d done a caricature based on the photo, I believe he’d be in the right.

Take heed, you young illustrators!  Grabbing an image off the ‘net and merely posterizing it is plagiarism.  Researching your subject, getting multiple reference images and then creating something new from them isn’t.  Drawing skills help—it means you don’t have to rely heavily on Photoshop.

For some more examples of plagiarism, click here.

More: What about Andy Warhol’s portraits?  Were those his own photos that he’d made into silkscreen prints? If not, did Warhol’s  process sufficiently alter the original image to make it his?



This famous image by Salvador Dali uses someone else’s photo which he directly painted on to alter it. The photo has been changed from its original straightforward portrait to Dali’s comment about Hollywood icons.


Irish ghost story

Only two weeks til Hallowe’en…


Fergus O’Mara bargains for his soul in an Irish graveyard—from Fergus and the Night Demon by Jim Murphy.

A nice review of Minnie’s Diner


…over at PBwithJ.


This image is several photos taped together of the interior of Charlie’s Diner in Pittsburgh—not far from where I used to live.  Believe it or not, they had a waitress named Minnie, although she wasn’t working when I took these photos.

Way out west

The stars at night are big & bright (clapclapclapclap) deep in the heart of Texas, or so I’ll be able to tell you soon.  I’m heading out to Houston to visit my friends at Matzke, Ault & Swenke schools.  EATING~1