Friday, September 30, 2011

My ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 13

SUNDAY, JUNE 26, 2011,  PART 3
On the drive to Homer, Dennis described a Sartori experience he had in San Francisco on the Sunday after his weeklong Aikido boot camp ended. He was sitting on a bench in the Embarcadero, watching the afternoon light hit a building across the street. Suddenly, he realized everything was fine and beautiful, the building was beautiful, the street was beautiful. For several hours he was in thoughtless awareness, unmolested by the incessant mental chatter that afflicts humanity.
“What bought you out of it?” Carrie asked from the back seat. “I think I’m still in it”, Dennis mused.
I didn’t want to bring him down, so I carefully asked how he fit this “everything is fine” awareness in with an early rant he gave about the greedy morons who caused the ’08 economic melt down and how they should all be in jail. “I guess I fell sorry for them. Their hearts must be pretty small to be pulling that kind of crap.”
“Death is very much on my mind these days”, I told him. “Not just because of John (my spouse of 25 years who is dying of metastasized prostate cancer), but because of everything else. For instance, on the front page of the Wednesday Anchorage newspaper was an article about a group of scientists who predicted that the world’s oceans would be dead within a generation of Mankind does not take drastic measure. “A catastrophe unprecedented in human history”, the article concluded. I admitted that I thought about this article every time I looked out the window at Cook Inlet as we drove along side it. “Things don’t look fortuitous that our leaders will be able to do what needs doing, given how corrupt, greedy and paralyzed they’ve been lately.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011



SUNDAY, JUNE 26, 2011, PART 2
I was a passenger in the front seat of Dennis’s Toyota Tundra truck on the way to Homer from Anchorage; Carrie and Will shared the back seat. Mom and Lolly drove in Mom’ Subaru station wagon.
We arrived in Homer @ 2:15PM.  The water taxi, “The Toriega” was due to depart from the Homer Spit at 3:00PM, so we had some time to kill. Carrie had craving for chocolate chip cookies, so we stopped at the “Two Sisters Bakery”, a favorite haunt of Dennis and Carrie’s from when Carrie used to work in Homer one day a week. The bakery is a Silverlake/ Echo Park style hipster hang out, seems to be run by young lesbians or straight women who could be lesbians. It seem like the sort of place that ought to have poetry readings, open mike nights, etc., though I can’t see any place where they could do it. Lots of cool pastries, cookies, muffins; all home made. And, of course, various coffees, teas, etc.
We reached the small boat harbor on the spit around 2:30. I set out to find chewing gum to help with my acid reflux, which was in high gear. Carrie tasked me with acquiring a tide schedule. She suggested I try Target Tours, a tour/gift shop across the street.
The lady running the cash register regretfully informed me they had no gum but gave me a free tide sched and directed me to the General Store on the opposite side of the Salty Dog Saloon at the end of the Spit.
I got back to the cars around 2:45; Dennis and Will were still unloading our gear from the back of the Toyota Tundra. We started carrying it down the steep, long (100 feet?) gang plank to the small boat harbor docks, to the water taxi, thankfully close to the bottom of the gang plank. I passed the gear from the pier to the Skipper and his nephew, who was studying computer science at Fairbanks University.
The taxi was heading into a fairly stiff wind that kicked up moderate white caps, causing large amounts of spray shooting over the covered bow, onto the open stern. Anything out there would be quickly drenched. Sheila went out to explore, lapped up some of the salty water on the stern’s floor. She retreated into the cabin, licking her chops to get rid of the unexpectedly salty taste.
The taxi let us off on the black gravel beach; it turned out the rain boots were almost unnecessary. After we carried our gear up the beach and hill to the cabin we were left to our own devices. I sat on the back porch and sketched the bay, including a small boar one of our neighbors used for regular transportation. I then sat up on the beach to do a reverse angle on the cabin. This was difficult; the foliage on the hillside so obscured the cabin, and it was at such an odd upshot, that a photograph wouldn’t have been successful. I decided that this was a perfect reason for me to do a sketch. I could cheat and edit like crazy, using my 28 years of professional animation training to create the scene as it should be, not as it actually was. Oddly, this was a slight revelation for me. One of my self-critiques is that my drawings lack imagination; it’s like I’m photo-swiping from life. I feel as if I’ve had some sort of minor breakthrough. This is the cool thing about drawing rather than taker of snap shots. I realize that this is why I haven’t bothered bringing along a camera on my last several trips. There’s no skin in the game, no interpretation. Just click and shoot. Why bother?
If you want to see these sketches, see the PART 1  posting; I put them up there.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fogtown Character Designs, Installment 7

All this week, in celebration of "Fogtown" in its new paperback release, I'm blogging/posting preparatory artwork done way back in late '06. The project was long in its genesis, given that it wasn't published until August '10 in hardcover, and August '11 in paperback.
Our final installment is composed of miscellaneous designs.
This is "Colonel" Thorpe, self-righteous wielder of the bully pulpit, the Glen Beck/Rush Limbaugh of his day. In reality, he was a sexual pervert/predator and secret crime lord. I based him off Karl Rove.
Next up is Carmen, early male-to-female transgender. I tried to get this across by making his/her hands and feet a little large, and giving him/her a slight brow ridge. However, we don't see enough of her in the course of the novel for it to really communicate. As is frequently the case, one does way more research and prep than is rarely used.
This is Greg, ex-hustler, now altar boy at the Blood of the Lamb ministry. I based him off James Dean, but tried to make him look younger and tougher.
This is the exterior of The Blood of the Lamb Ministry. I put as much work into designing it as I did any of the human characters, so I thought I'd include it here.
Lastly, we have Magda, pretend mother of Carmen. In reality, she has been hired by Thorpe to engage Frank to find Carmen, setting our poor anti-hero up as the patsy. She's based on Lupe Ontiveros, star of Mexican cinema and occasional supporting roles in the USA.
Well, that's it. If you haven't read Fogtown, and find your curiosity piqued by this blog, check it out on Amazon, or buy it direct from me. I recommend doing the latter and paying full price; buyers from my site will get the added value of a sketch of one of the characters inside the front cover.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fogtown Character Designs, Installment 6

All this week, in celebration of "Fogtown" in its new paperback release, I'm blogging/posting preparatory artwork done way back in late '06. The project was long in its genesis, given that it wasn't published until August '10 in hardcover, and August '11 in paperback.
Today we look at "Bone" White, Ex-pugalist, "Colonel" Thorpe's main henchman and Frank Grissel's down-low fuck buddy.
These first drawing made him look too tough; Andersen wanted him prettier. The character was fiercely protective of his face; none of his opponents could ever land a blow on it. His hand were another matter; they were supposed to be gnarled, scarred from abuse.

This was more in the right direction. I came up with the idea of making his hair "period" by going with the "conk" look.
Then I wanted to see what he looked like with his clothes off, assuming that he would appear thusly at some point in the novel.
Anderson thought he looked too beefy in this drawing and wanted to go with a more "slimmed down" look.
Like so.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fogtown Character Designs, Installment 5

All this week, in celebration of "Fogtown" in its new paperback release, I'm blogging/posting preparatory artwork done way back in late '06. The project was long in its genesis, given that it wasn't published until August '10 in hardcover, and August '11 in paperback.
Today we concentrate on Madame Tze, femme fatale of the piece, in collusion with "Colonel" Thorpe.
I assume we decided this version wasn't sexy enough.
This version is headed in the right direction, but is was too generic for my tastes.
This was my fave. I really liked her outfit in the drawing on the left. 
Andersen liked it too, but insisted I cop the hair style worn by Jean Simmons in the early 50's noir flick "Angel Face".  The drawings above are basically taken from freeze frames of that movie. 
By the way, the drawings were done on the back of an blank "Batman" storyboard page. The logo and the blank panels can be seen ghosting through the paper.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fogtown Character Designs, Installment 4

All this week, in celebration of "Fogtown" in its new paperback release, I'm blogging/posting preparatory artwork done way back in late '06. The project was long in its genesis, given that it wasn't published until August '10 in hardcover, and August '11 in paperback.
Today's post focuses on Loretta Valentine, Frank's Girl Friend/ Girl Friday.
Andersen wanted Loretta based off an actress Eileen Brennan. My first pass made her look too middle-aged; Andersen wanted her younger and sexier.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fogtown Character Designs, Installment 3

All this week, in celebration of "Fogtown" in its new paperback release, I'm blogging/posting preparatory artwork done way back in late '06. The project was long in its genesis, given that it wasn't published until August '10 in hardcover, and August '11 in paperback.
This installment focuses on Eliza Grey, Frank Grissel's estranged daughter.
Andersen's original concept was that her name would be "Bette Noir", and that she would be a dominatrix prostitute.
Here are 2 more dominatrix versions.

Yet another dominatrix, based off Natalie Wood.
Karen Berger, the group editor, suggested making Bette something other than a kink-whore. Andersen modified her into a psychiatrist studying teen whores in the North Beach area of San Francisco.

Andersen was looking for something more bohemian, almost "Beat". I couldn't get a handle on her until I  came upon the "Ayn Rand" hairstyle.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fogtown Character Designs, Installment 2

All this week, in celebration of "Fogtown" in its new paperback release, I'm blogging/posting preparatory artwork done way back in late '06. The project was long in it's genesis, given that it wasn't published until August '10 in hardcover and August '11 in paperback. This installment, I'm focusing on the main character in "Fogtown", Frank Grissel, hard boiled, bisexual private eye. As you can see, he went through many changes.
In this drawing, I'm playing around, trying different possible looks.
If memory served, this drawing is based off #2 from the previous drawing. At least, that's how it appears; I actually don't remember.
This is a version modeled off Robert Mitchum, fleshing out original editor Bob Schreck's suggestion.
This version is based off John Gavin, as per writer Andersen Gabrych's suggestion.
Andersen later changed his mind, deciding he wanted Frank to look like Randy Couture, "mixed martial arts Hall-of-Famer, and former UFC title holder.
In the end, he ended up looking vaguely like Darwyn Cooke's version of Slam Bradley.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fogtown Character Designs

I was filing tonight and found a cash of my preparatory character designs for my recent graphic Vertigo Crime graphic novel, "Fogtown" (recently out in paperback). I'll be posting some of them over the next few days.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


SUNDAY, JUNE 26, 2011, PART 1

We (Mom, Lolly, Dennis, Carrie, Will and Myself) are on Hesketh Island. Hesketh Island is a 20-minute water taxi ride from Homer, Alaska, which is a 4 or 5-hour drive from Anchorage, Alaska. We are staying in the cabin owned by Chuck and Elaine Burgess, close friends of Carrie and Dennis. Carrie and Dennis have been enjoying the use of this cabin for around 12 years, before Will was conceived. Mom has been here too, but always in the Spring or Summer. If she came in Autumn, she’d be able to identify a questionable tree by its berries. Mom is a lover and student of nature, well educated in plant and bird identification.
On Saturday, the tickle in the back of my throat that started when I arrived in Anchorage finally blossomed into a full fledge cold: cough, runny nose, slight fever. Damn. I NEVER get colds, whuzzup with this crap? I suggested it might be best if I didn’t go on the outing, more for everybody else’s sake than mine. However Carrie said she wouldn’t go on the trip if I didn’t, and Mom expressed disappointment also.  “Okay, don’t blame me if y’all come down with it too.” If it had gotten worse I wouldn’t have gone in spite of their remonstrations, but it seems to have plateaued.
I asked Mom if she had any handkerchiefs I could borrow; she gave me two of Dad’s. So I’ve been blowing my nose on my departed father’s snot rags all day. I feel like I’m furthering the mood of filial communion I’ve been experiencing this vacation. Just think; Dad may well have blown snot on these very rags. Trippy…

Hesketh Island has 13 lots on it. The Burgess cabin sits just off the middle of a 200 yard long black gravel beach, which is bound on either side by rugged cliff escarpments. There is a neighboring cabin near the left end of the beach, and neighbors on the other side of the escarpment on the right, hidden from view. The Burgess cabin is built atop a small cliff; one has to walk up a short, steep trail from the beach. It has 2 floors, one room to each floor. Mom and Lolly commandeered the futon chair and couch on the ground floor. I will be staying up in the attic.  Carrie, Dennis and Will put up a tent on a wooden platform just off the beach and will bed there, as seems to be their custom. The platform sits next to an abandoned house. Dennis told me its story. It was built from a Sears Catalogue mail order kit sometime in the 50’s. The owner, who also built the cabin we’re staying in, moved into it with his mail-order bride. She fled back to civilization after 3 days. Chuck and Elaine own this building as well. They tried to fix it up when they bought the property, but gave it up as too much work. Dennis and I both agreed this was a shame that the house was being allowed to fall in on itself. “They don’t make them like this anymore”, he observed as he indicated the teak wainscoting along the base of the wall in the narrow living room. The front window were all blown out and covered ineffectually with visquine, allowing the harsh ocean element to enter at will. “It won’t be long now”, he predicted.  I flashed on the pre-“Snow White” Disney animated short, “The Old Mill”, which is basically a romanticized documentary about a long abandoned mill that almost falls in on itself during a particularly violent storm.

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