Monday, February 22, 2010

Avengers Model Sheets

I'm trying to transition to being a character designer as well as a storyboard artist. Here are model sheets done for a dream animation project: the Avengers Kree-Skrull war. As much as I love Neal Adams, I have no desire to imitate his style at this phase of my artistic development.

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Beautiful Career Installment 12

The 80’s was a devastating time, as the first A.I.D.S. cases became known. Friends were dying and there was no effective treatment. Getting the disease was a death sentence, and the gay community was scared and angry. The media was calling it a “Gay Disease”

I became active in Gay politics after John and I attended the second Gay and Lesbian March on Washington in October of ‘87. The response of the Reagan Administration to A.I.D.S. in general (he never once even mentioned the word “A.I.D.S. while in office), and to the March in particular politicized me. I joined ACT UP (AIDS Co-Alition to Unleash Power) LA because it seemed to be the only political game in town. I drew cartoons for the monthly newsletter, painted signs and placards, carried those signs and placards during marches and demonstrations.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Beautiful Career Installment 11

In the fall of ’86.I left D.I.C., moving to Kushner-Locke where I worked on “Spiral Zone”. D.I.C. wouldn’t give me a raise to $850 a week. Kushner-Locke was paying the amazing-for-the-time sum of $1300, but they wanted half an episode in 2 weeks. The director, Warren Greenwood, let us work at home if we wanted. I got into the bad habit of procrastinating most of week 1, getting into gear in week 2, and doing the bulk of the board in the last 2 days. I’d start in Sunday morning and work around the clock without sleeping to meet the late Monday afternoon deadline. I liked it in a lot of ways; the work would flow from my pencil, as Alex Toth once said, “like water”.

However, it ended up giving me carpal tunnel syndrome at the age of 27, and I’ve been struggling with the condition ever since. Typically, my hand would start to bug me in the last couple of hours before deadline. On that fateful Monday morning in the spring of ’87, my hand started to hurt around 8:00 am. By the time I handed in at 5:00pm, I could barely hold a pencil, and I didn’t snap back the next day. I had to go on Disability, in fact, unable to work for over 2 months. I wasn’t fully recovered by the time I started at Bakshi Productions on the first season of “Mighty Mouse”.

Since then, I’ve had to gradually change my working style. I can no longer afford to blow off when uninspired, since I know I won’t be able to make it up on the back end. I have to put in the pencil mileage, 8 hours a day, whether I like it or not, whether I think it’s good or not. Actually, it’s turned out pretty well; I’ve done most of my best work since then. What I hate at the time turns out to be mostly usable in retrospect.

Following the advice of a chiropractor, I got a timer; every 20 minutes I would stop and do some form of exercise or stretch. This keeps me functioning. I also avoid doing free-lance while I have a day job. I use my spare time to do my own projects; when I do overtime freelance I risk relapsing my hands. It seems weird, by I’m certain there’s a psychological component to over-use syndrome, at least for me.

Monday, February 8, 2010

My Beautiful Career Installment 10

My life changed forever when I met my future spouse, John Callahan, in September 5, 1985. We moved in together in September 21,1986, and had our commitment ceremony on January 18, 1987.

We met at The Anti Club, a punk/new wave dive across from LA City College. on Melrose Avenue. It was Thursday, the weekly poetry/acoustic night. I went to hear my friend, Robin Podolsky, read her poetry.

John was working the door. I gave him my money and thought, “What a hot guy; too bad he’s probably straight”. He was swarthy, heavyset, ugly/handsome in an Ernest Borgnine/James Gandalfini kind of way. I was surprised, later on, after Robin read, to see her talking to this hot stranger like they were old, best, friends. Once alone, I asked Robin who he was. “Him? He’s John Callahan; he used to be in “Age of Consent”. Do you want me to introduce you?”

(For those who don’t know, “Age of Consent” was one of the first rap bands on the West Coast, and the first openly gay rap band ever, active between 1981 and 1884. Their music can be heard and purchased at . I had heard them on KPFK’s Lesbian/Gay day in 1983. The trio’s (John Callahan, David Hughes and Thea Other) raps were political, humorous; two white gay guys and a white straight chick making absolutely no attempt whatsoever to sound soulful or black. I was an immediate fan.)

“No," I told Robin, "I can take care of that myself.” I approached him later, and struck up a conversation under the pretext of asking his advice about performing publicly. (I sing and play the guitar, and have done open mike on occasion.) I let him go on at length before I told him the real reason I was talking to him was that I thought he was really hot, and I’d like to get with him. He somewhat taken aback, but said he wasn’t opposed to the idea. He warned me that I needed to decide whether I wanted a quick lay or a possible relationship. If I chose the former, I was unlikely to get the latter. I chose the latter, and the rest is history.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My Beautiful Career Installment 9

During this period, I continued to try to break into my true love, comics. My pattern, through the remainder of the 80’s would be to work up a new portfolio in time for San Diego Comic-Con, get rejected by all and sundry, and sulk until Spring of the following year, when I’d notice Comic-Con was approaching and do a new portfolio. This dynamic played out until the spring of ’91, when I met Tim Gula on the “Batman” crew. He advised me to execute 2 new pages a week and keep sending them to every editor listed. I was never THAT hardcore; I managed a page a week for about 4 months. But that lead me to getting noticed by Neal Pozner at DC, who got me my first gig, pencilling 3 issues of the “Batman Adventures” comic book. Check out my pre-professional comic pages.

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