Monday, November 1, 2010

Shoup Bay, Valdez, 2008

This is a sketch I did from the porch of the cabin where I and my family stayed at Shoup Bay, near Valdez Alaska, in early July, 2008. It was spectacularly sunny all 3 days, very unusual for Valdez.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Female Spy #1

I'm scanning/posting images for my prospective published sketch book (more on this later)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Spawn Storyboard Panels

I uploaded these last night to the portfolio section of, in conjuction with Raising the Bar Recruiting (RBR) at the CTN animation eXpo Nov 19-21, 2010. You can see for yourself what potential clients will be seeing in the coming month. These 12 storyboard panels are from the sequel to the HBO animated Spawn series. This was to be a direct-release-to-dvd that I worked on in the summer of '05. All the pre-production was completed by Starz/Film Roman, but Todd McFarlane didn't like S/FM's choice of overseas animation studio, so he pulled the plug. (This is my recollection of the gossip at the time; I could be incorrect. That said:) As far as I know, which isn't all that far, the pre-production material languishes in a warehouse until Mr. McF. acquires a suitable animation studio and/or funding.
The work you see here was roughed out by Chris Rutkowski, a good friend of mine who quit the project to work on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle CGI movie. Chuck Patton reworked Chis's section. Then I was hired to replace Chris, bringing the pages to completion. In spite of the work's heavily collaborative nature, I'm quite proud of it. Actually, I was trying to achieve this look on the "Fogtown" graphic novel, but was unable to bring myself to work that loosely and spontaneously in the comicbook format.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rabbit VS Snake

This is a recent sketch. I drew it using ballpoint pen, Tombo brush pens and a Presto! Jumbo Correction Pen.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

John 2002

This is a sketch I found while digging through an old journal, of my significant other, John Callahan, done in 2002

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fogtown Page 155

On this page, the editor, the author and I got into trouble because I feared that the audience might not
appreciate the important revelation that it was Colonel Thorpe who targeted the teen whore on pages 6/7 for murder by Father Fischer, who then mutilated her and removed her sexual parts while he was at it. I insisted on a re-write where we would actually show the removed sex parts and her unborn child instead of implying it. Bob and Andersen accommodated me in this.

Unfortunately, I was contacted by the book’s third editor, Will Dennis, earlier this year. He informed me
that the group editor thought that panel 3 was much too disturbing and controversial and that we had to pull back. We ended up with the image shown, returning to the original script.

This is the re-drawn panel, conforming
to the original script. The page was composited in Photoshop.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Brad Rader signing Fogtown at Meltdown on Saturday, October 23, 2010

I'll be signing my new graphic novel Fogtown at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles 90046. The date is Saturday, October 23, 2010 from noon to 2:00 p.m. Please come by!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fogtown page 149 - Closing in

Frank sneaks onto Madame Tse's freighter where he discovers her partner-in-crime, Colonel Thorpe.
This is a nice, Toth-influenced page.

Ironically, given the name of the project, one of my biggest failures in these pages was my depiction
of fog. Portraying atmospheric effects is one of my general weak areas that I didn’t have the luxury of time to overcome.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fogtown page 146 - Bone's Face

This is a dramatic and eerie close-up on Bone's mutilated face. 

Another influence on "Fogtown" was  the work of cartoonist Russ Heath ("Sgt. Rock," "Haunted Tank"). I especially like the work he did for the early 50's  horror anthologies, "Strange Tales," "Journey into Mystery" and "Menace."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fogtown page 131

I find an excellent way to check my art for mistakes is to flip the page over and study it on a light table.
I draw on the reverse, flip the page over, and draw again on the front, working back and forth. This allows me to see my art more objectively, a difficult thing to do in my line of work.

Here is page 131, and a computer scan of the reverse side of Page 131.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fogtown page 130

I debated with myself whether to do the shadows from the blinds in black in or save it for the gray tones. I decided to do them in black because I was uncertain if the artwork actually would be gray toned and opted to make the graphic novel work in black and white, leaving the gray toning as an unnecessary gloss.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fogtown page 129

This is the first page of a dramatic sequence in which Frank awakens from a drugged slumber to discover himself framed for the brutal murder of Karen and Carmen, the teen runaway who set the plot in motion. I found it challenging to draw the light and shadows from the Venetian blinds and keep things simple and readable. I had to cheat, for instance, by framing Frank's hand and gun in white rather than striped or black shadow as would be more realistic.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fogtown page 122

In "Fogtown," my goal was to design and depict four different individual women. I feel I succeeded with their faces, but failed with their bodies, which are basically the same.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

4th Annual Wonder Woman Day

This artwork is my donation to the upcoming 4th Annual Wonder Woman Day. The October 24 event is an art show and silent auction to benefit Raphael House of Portland, Bradley-Angle House & Portland Women's Crisis line- dedicated to supporting survivors of domestic violence and committed to social justice.
The artwork is approximately 20"x 16", pen and ink on 2 ply bristol paper. I have valued it at $300.00 for tax deduction purposes.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fogtown page 117

Frank is entering the lair of Madame Tse. I re-purposed an elevator from the Bradley Building, here
in Los Angeles. The building was used as the interior for the Outer Limits episode, "Demon With a Glass Hand", and in "Blade Runner".

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fogtown page 115

Frank is escaping from Eliza, in her office in the Omni-Zeotrope building, across Columbus Avenue, into Jack Kerouac Alley, next to what is now City Lights Books. I used the same alley on pages 30/31, which leads into China Town on pages 32/33 and 116.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

2nd half of podcast on Da Vinci's Waking Dream

Will Norman has posted the 2nd half of his interview with me at

Russ Heath Tribute

I first met Russ Heath in Will Meugniot’s office at DIC, in the summer of 1989. I was there to pick up or drop off a freelance storyboard on “The Real Ghostbusters”. Sitting next to Will was a handsome middle-aged man dressed stylishly in black accenting his thick, gun-metal gray hair. I found myself shaking hands with none other than Russ Heath. Not only was he HOT, but he was (and is) one of my favorite artists.

As I recall, we had 2 interactions that summer while I repeatedly free-lanced for Will.

1): I had Russ sign the page of original art I owned to the recently published graphic novel, “The Shadow; Hitler’s Astrologer: 1941”. While he wrote his signature in red ballpoint pen, I attempted to commiserate with him about the truly wretched coloring and production job with which Marvel Comics had desecrated the artwork. Russ deflected my impassioned indignation nonchalantly, pretending it was just a job like any other; he got paid, who cares? For myself, I was so offended by the coloring that I got rid of the book, even though it was magnificently illustrated by 2 of my favorite artists, Mike Kaluta and Mr. Heath. (I re-purchased the volume, after more than 20 years, on, while writing this essay.)

2) While visiting DIC I observed Russ showing a copy of Blazing Combat, with his artwork to the Archie Goodwin scribed story “Give And Take”, to a young artist with whom he was working. Russ was obviously out to impress; “Give and Take” is one of his stellar accomplishments in a long and stellar career. The kid apparently didn’t know or care who Russ was. I watched Russ point out specific panels he of which he was particularly proud to the blasé tyro. I was jealous that Russ seemed to care what the idiot punk thought but amused by Russ’s rejection by the clueless fool.

The interesting thing about writing this reminiscence is the ambiguous, transitory nature of memory. Was Russ’s hair gray in 1989, or had it already gone white? Was the young artist really unimpressed, or was that just my impression, magnified by jealous memory? (I know he signed my piece of original art; I still have it with his signature thereon.)

The art piece I’ve done for the tribute book is a recreation from “IL SHOWDOWN A RIO JAWBONE”, published in “National Lampoon Presents: The Very Large Book of Comical Funnies”, (1975). This story had a huge impact on me as an aspiring comic book artist in his mid-teens. What I loved (and still love) about his humor work is that it’s played totally straight; with no “wink-wink, nudged-nudge”. Then as now I am in awe of his control of the pen and brush, the hyper-realistic yet exaggerated nature of his posing, composition and lighting, and the skilled and dramatic way he spots blacks, second only to Alex Toth. This acolyte salutes you, Maestro Heath.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fogtown page 106

Andersen suggested we place Eliza's office in the Sentinel Building, which now houses Francis Ford Coppolla's Omni Zeotrope offices. I felt that it would be optimal to place her inner sanctum in one of the round rooms at the building's sharp edge. Unfortunately, I was unable to gain access to the building's interior as it was closed for remodeling. I had to extrapolate the interior of the building from what I could see of the exterior.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fogtown page 104

Frank's girl friend/ girl Friday, Loretta Valentine discovers Frank’s secret stash of 50's gay porn. In those days this took the form of chaste "Physical Culture" pamphlets. Ironically, these tracts are the same size as the Vertigo Crime imprints product, 5 3/8" x 8 1/4".

Loretta is based on actress Eileen Brennan.

One of my ongoing pet peeves with straight male cartoonists is that they tend to draw the same woman, varying only the  hairstyles. Even the cartoonists who individualize their men fall into this trap with women. On this project, I was trying to  differentiate the female characters as much as the males, yet still have them be beautiful and sexy. In Loretta’s case, I fear I erred on the side of individuation; at times she appears quite ugly.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fogtown page 97

In all of Frank and Eliza’s interactions culminating on page 108, I contrived graphic strategies to keep them separated even if they were in the same shot. Eliza is Frank’s long abandoned daughter, unbeknownst to him. She is based on a combination of Natalie Wood and Ayn Rand.

In pages 25-28, I placed Frank on the  left side of each horizontal panel, Eliza on the right, separating
them by placing the word balloons in the center of the pages. In this sequence, I separate them by running panel gutters through what would otherwise be the same panel.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Moving Pictures Review

I've just finished reading "Moving Pictures" (Top Shelf), by Kathryn (writer) and Stuart Immomen (artist). I snagged it at the Top Shelf booth at Comic-Con. The graphic novel's stark simplicity caught my eye. I strive unsuccessfully for this
in my own work.

On one hand,  the book is a keeper for the afore mentioned extreme graphic
simplicity of the art. Definitely some swipeable stuff here. I've never followed
Immomen's superhero work; it seems pretty good, but there's nothing interesting about it to me. But  "Moving Pictures" has a really cool look.

On the other hand, I had difficulty following the story on first reading. There
was nothing graphically to help one keep track of the two narrative streams and time dislocations. I was ambivalent about the pacing which was slow, stately and reflective. It
was a tonic compared to the over-amped over-hyped crap that passes for
storytelling these days. But everything was SO serious. If any of the characters ever cracked a smile, it was a wan, ironic, thin lipped smile. Also, I would have preferred opening up the
story some to show some of the events referred to in the dialogue (Nazi's taking over in France, disappearing whole groups of people, etc), but that
would have conflicted with the interior/closed-room nature of the story I

I liked the production values. The water color paper used for the cover and
similar (but smooth) paper of the interior pages gave the whole thing a very
classy look and feel.

Interview podcast posted on da Vinci's Waking Dream

Will Norman posted an audio podcast interview of me on his da Vinci's Waking Dream blog at

Fogtown page 91

This is a montage sequence of early 50's San Francisco at night.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Kane Moebius

This is a recent sketch, a copy of a Gil Kane "Moebius The Living Vampire" cover from the early 70's. I love his compositional dynamism.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fogtown reviewed in The Gay Comics List

The Gay Comics List reviews Fogtown. They really get it. They call me "an impressive graphic storyteller" at

Fogtown reviewed in The Stranger

The famous Seattle alternative newspaper The Stranger reviews Fogtown.  He likes it: "This is one of the best comic book mysteries I've seen in a great long while." Read it at

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fogtown page 88

This is another example of breaking the panel grid for heightened dramatic effect. The triangular panels 1and 3 become like blades, metaphorically slicing panel 2, itself a sceneof Frank slicing Bone's face with a stiletto.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fogtown page 76 inks

This is part of the first batch of pages that I inked in the
14" x 19" format with the newly acquired help of my assistant, Lee-Roy. The
larger size gave me more control in the inking, especially necessary for the 6
smaller panels on page 76.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Last chance to see show at Flazh Alley


Closing Public Reception & Book Signing

 San Pedro's 1st Thursdays Art Walk Night  September 2, 2010 from 7-11 PM
"This is a fantastic exhibition for anyone who appreciates graphic novels. Each of Mr. Rader's panels has a small placard that describes a bit about the behind-the-scenes creative process that takes a raw idea and transforms it into a finished book. Original panels from Brad Rader's newest book. This is a must-see for graphic novel fans! Great exhibition!"  --Louis Jay, Webmaster, The Tom of Finland Foundation

ADULTS ONLY (18 and over)  "Filthy Fifties Frisco" can also be seen by appointment until September 4,2010. Please call, 310.833.3633 or Flazh!Alley Art Studio is located at 1113 S. Pacific Ave., Suite B, San Pedro, CA. Park in the large city parking lot behind Ramona Bakery at Pacific Ave. & 11th Street. Enter Flazh!Alley from the alley, of course.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fogtown in the Vertigo Comics blog

The Vertigo Comics blog has an article about Fogtown.

Fogtown reviewed in the Miami Herald

The Miami Herald reviewed Fogtown. They say that my art is "the perfect evocation of the story."

Fogtown reviewed at Edge New York

A review of Fogtown in the Edge New York blog. They really liked it - "It transcends the comic book art form." Hey!

Fogtown reviewed at The Shelf Life blog

FOGTOWN reviewed at The Shelf Life blog

Fogtown review at The

Fogtown reviewed at

Fogtown review in Comic Book Resources

A review of Fogtown in the Comic Book Resources blog:

Fogtown Pages 76-77 pencils

This is part of the last batch of pages
that I penciled in the 9" x 6" format.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fogtown reviewed in Frontiers

There's a review of Fogtown in Frontiers now.

Fogtown pages 70-71

This page is an example of my design strategy for the book. I established a fairly rigorous rectangular grid for the panel layout, with either two or three tiers per page, adhering to this for the most part. This produces a fairly even, metronomic baseline, which can be easily broken for heightened dramatic effect. For this near-rape sequence, I varied the panel shapes to slashing diagonals increasing in length during the four-page sequence, creating a feeling of descent.

Other examples are the meeting of Frank and Eliza Gray on pages 25-28 by using horizontal panels with each character on opposite sides of the composition, separated by their word balloons. Then followed immediately pages 29-31 where Frank threatened by Greg in Jack Kerouac Alley shown by narrow vertical panels giving a staccato, knife-like feel.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fogtown pages 64-65

Page 64 introduces Colonel Thorpe, the main villain of the piece, partners in crime with Madam Tse. He is a pretend civic-reformer, bully-pulpit-wielder. He is based on Karl Rove. One of Andersen’s main themes in "Fogtown" was to show that all the characters wore masks, were liars on many levels. Sadly, that aspect had to be given short shrift as the novel was repurposed to fit in the Vertigo Crime format.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fogtown reviewed in Monkeysee

Fogtown has now been reviewed in Monkeysee, an NPR pop culture blog.

Fogtown reviewed in S.F. Chronicle

The San Francisco Chronicle reviewed Fogtown! This is particularly cool as Fogtown is set in San Francisco! Read it here.

Fogtown pages 56-57

One of my favorite aspects of cartooning is casting; i.e., designing the cast of characters. Over the years I've saved old model packs from TV series I've worked on with the idea of repurposing characters in my own work. In these two pages, two characters are lifted from King of the Hill, which I was working on at the time. Frank Grissel's lawyer on pages 56 and 57 is based on the model of Peggy Hill's real estate agent boss, Chris Sizemore. The uniformed SFPD office on page 56 is Enrique, one of Hank Hill's co-workers at Strickland Propane.

Page 57 is also the first appearance of Madam Tse, part of the criminal conspiracy afflicting the city by the bay. She went through several design permutations before we (Bob, Andersen and I) arrived at the current version. Andersen insisted that she sport the hairstyle worn by Jean Simmons in Angel Face.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fogtown pages 54-55

This page is part of a sequence that is heavily influenced by 50's film noir. I watched various DVDs and freeze framed, sketching several scenes to swipe their compositions, lighting, costuming, casting, etc. Movies I found especially helpful were The Dark Corner, Vicki, and House on Telegraph Hill.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Fogtown pages 48-49

Toth was a key Caniff acolyte as a young man in the late 40's, but branched off into his own style in the early 50's. He took the "Caniff" approach to an even more extreme level of simplicity and graphic innovation. His calculated simplicity served him well when he transitioned to TV Animation in the 60's, working primarily as a designer and storyboard artist on The Herculoids, Space Ghost, Sea Lab, Superfriends and a host of other Hanna-Barbera series.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fogtown News and Reviews

I'm posting two current items, one a news article and the other a review. Check them out!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fogtown pages 46-47

This is one of my favorite sequences in the novel. I was emulating two of my favorite cartoonists, Milton Caniff and Alex Toth.

Caniff was the auteur of "Terry and the Pirates" and "Steve Canyon," and one of the most influential American cartoonists from the mid 30's to the late 70's. His inking style was almost macho in its sloppy expressiveness, creating high contrast, dramatic, muscular drawing.

Toth was a key Caniff acolyte as a young man in the late 40's, but branched off into his own style in the early 50's. He took the "Caniff" approach to an even more extreme level of simplicity and graphic innovation. His calculated simplicity served him well when he transitioned to TV animation in the 60's, working primarily as a designer and storyboard artist on "The Herculoids," "Space Ghost," "Sea Lab," "Superfriends" and a host of other Hanna-Barbera series.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fogtown - pages 42-43

After reading the script, I felt the character called for a beefcake shot. Frank Grissel, the main character, is a closeted, gay-leaning bi-sexual, but his straight side dominates the book.  Based on this character, I asked the editor if I could show Frank’s genitalia. Bob gave the okay, but later recanted. I had to conceal the offending flesh without appearing contrived and prudish.

The gay aspect is much more oblique and left up to the reader’s imagination. This is somewhat frustrating, but appropriate to the time period in the novel.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fogtown pages 30-31

This is the second appearance of Greg and the first appearance of Jack Kerouac Alley (though one can't tell from these pages). I had the same problem keeping Greg looking teenaged that I did with the nameless teen whore on pages 6/7. It's extremely difficult to achieve a consistent likeness of a young, pretty character and avoid having them appear to age when they emote or I use dramatic angles or lighting.

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