Sunday, December 31, 2023


In this first scene, George Hull is depicted trying to age the surface of the stone giant with sulfuric acid.  I utilized the old "ghost story-flashlight spooky lighting" here.  Apparently the acid is giving off a glow illuminating Hull's face from below.  I also like the rendering and lighting on his right hand.
This scene shows part of the origin of Hull's scheme.  A visiting preacher named Reverend Turk is shown telling of Biblical passages that say giants once walked the earth.  The minister is dramatically back-lit by the glow of the flames in the fireplace.  I did everything I could think of to make each scene as visually engrossing as possible.  Lighting was key to this process.

Here, the two sculptors hired to carve the giant from a large block of Gypsum are chipping off the figure's hair and beard, which had been originally part of his design.  It was discovered, however, that hair does not petrify, so it had to be removed.  All in the name of science!  And deception...

I used copious amounts of spatter on the men's shirts for added texture, style and visual interest.  Oh, and the guy at the top is based on an old musician friend, Dave Richardson.  Just for the record.

This image shows a man seeing a large iron box being transported toward Cardiff a year before the giant was "discovered."   Reports of that sighting started a controversy about the authenticity of the stone man.  I mentioned in my previous post that I was working on how to effectively paint clouds, of which there are several kinds.  This illustration is all about clouds.  Stratus, anyone?  Not sure I'd quite mastered the technique yet in this image, but it's dramatic!  I also added a little interest to the horses drawing the carriage by having one looking over its shoulder towards the men at the reins.  I was later told that that would be impossible unless the horse somehow slipped his reins.  But I like that horse anyway.

Here is Newell pointing out to his hired diggers exactly where he wants his well.  They are skeptical of his choice, but eventually give in and start digging in the hard, dry earth.  I recall that when I was initially finished with this illustration, I decided I was dissatisfied with the figures of the two workmen, so I painted them out and rendered them again.  I've always been glad I did, because the second version was much better.  You can tell I painted over them because the gray tones are cooler, having obliterated the warmer gray background washes I used for mid-tones and shadows.  Shadows transparent, highlights opaque!

Finally, here we see P.T. Barnum watching over a couple of sculptors he hired to create a duplicate of the Cardiff Giant after unsuccessfully trying to first buy, and then even rent the original from the uninterested owners.  He did quite well with his own fake petrified giant, even outselling the original when both accidentally simultaneously ended up in New York City.  The "real" phony had to flee town and go to Boston, where he was once again a huge draw.  

I saved this piece for last because I rendered my old boss Gary Newton, for/with whom I worked at three separate establishments back from late 1975 to 1982 or so, as the bearded sculptor in the center.  Gary was one of those "most unforgettable characters" I ever knew, and a multi-talented, creative dynamo nonpareil!  I worked with him at three establishments, a local TV station, a popular counter-cultural newspaper, and his own design studio, all of which where he served as creative director.  I met Gary not long after his run as a TV horror host had finished!  "Simon's Sanctorum" ran on WCVB TV and in syndication in the early 1970s and was very popular.  And creative!  Some episodes can be seen on Youtube on Penny Dreadful's Shilling Shockers here and here, and also on Vimeo, sans Penny, here.  Sadly, Gary passed away much too young 23 years ago, and as I write this, I'm remembering that today December 31st is Gary's birthday!

Backtracking ever so slightly here, I'd like to thank my editor, the charming and very expert Jane Hyman (whom I'm sure I thanked quite thoroughly 40 years ago) and another skilled and clever old friend John Treworgy, whose name appears in the credits of The Cardiff Giant book and may have been the person who got me the job!  Memory fails, but John worked as a consultant with Gary and me around the time I did all that art for JEM Books, including the next book I did later that year, "UFO Teen Sightings."  More on John in future posts.


Saturday, December 30, 2023


It can be a startling thing to unearth old art and find that it still stands up to some degree of scrutiny.  I recently found the original illustrations to a book I drew a bit over 40 years ago.  It was my first full-length book, and I really put a lot into it.  All of my life and career, I have been fascinated by line, and the vast majority of my professional output has been drawn in ink on paper, often colored later, first with watercolor wash and later digitally when I learned how to do that.  For whatever reasons, I produced this book in mixed media using acrylic paint combined with various pencils and tightened up with my trusty Rapidograph pen.  More on the technique later.  I'm starting out with six pieces that I particularly enjoy for various reasons.

But first, some back story on the book:  It was titled simply "The Cardiff Giant."  It's a true account of one of the great hoaxes in American history.  It all took place back in 1869.  A man named George Hull concocted an elaborate money-making scheme in which he hired some men to dig up what seemed to be a petrified giant buried on his relative,  William Newell's property.  Science took a back seat to fantasy here since flesh, human or otherwise, does not turn to stone under any circumstances, but there were innumerable credulous people willing to believe that this was the remains a giant human.  The truth, of course, was entirely different.  The stone giant was a sculpture carved by other men hired by Newell which was buried on his farm to be later dug up seemingly by accident by men digging a well.  The first image I'm posting is of the workers digging in hard earth unknowingly about to discover something quite other than water.

The second illustration is of a couple of scientists examining the giant to determine authenticity.  This gave me the irresistible opportunity to render my own version of the classic "eye enlarged by the magnifying glass" image, so beloved by fans of detective fiction.


The third image is one of my favorites, as several characters reading the news are known to me.  The lady reading over the shoulder of the dapper gent is based on my lovely wife.  The gent is me, as I looked back in the early 1980s, and the little girl is our daughter.  To the right, the bearded chap is my friend Dave LeBlanc, who has been seen here on my blog making various cameo appearances.  He has often appeared in my illustrations over the decades.

The next scene depicts a crowd that gathered quickly after news of the "discovery" spread.  My favorite part of this bird's-eye view is the crying child, obviously unnerved by this spectacle.  Kids crack me up.

In this scene, Newell is joined by investor and co-conspirator George Hull, as the giant is exhumed while a photographer and reported observe.

There were two factions who disagreed vehemently on the supposed authenticity of the "petrified giant."  Scientist decried the possibility of a man turned to stone.  Those more willing to believe the hype were happy to do so.  There were other theories of the giant's origin.  Some thought he was carved by ancient peoples.  This scene is an imagining of that.  And here, I'd like to point out a couple of creative aspects of my approach to the book.  From the beginning, I wanted to employ lots of texture and bold brush strokes in the application of the paint, particularly in the backgrounds.  I also set a task for myself wherein I would attempt to master the rendering of clouds.  That was just something that interested me at the time.  The sky here is one of my earlier in the book attempts.

The Cardiff Giant was published in 1983 by JEM Books (Julian E. Messner), a division of Simon & Schuster.  It's pretty long out of print but a search for ISBN #: 0-671-43851-4 may occasionally turn something up.

Click on the thumbnail images to view the large illustrations, and stay tuned for the next batch!

Sunday, October 30, 2022


Some of you may remember the above image of my buddy Phil The Zombie from way back in 2011 when I posted a version of it with Phil delivering a Halloween greeting from me.  So, why has this zombie risen from the grave again?  Well, dig this:  A few months back, after singer-songwriter-guitar-monster Sal Baglio released  his single "Space Cadette" with my stock illustration (see previous post) promoting it, I half-jokingly told him that if he ever wrote a song about a zombie, I had a great drawing he could use with it.  To my absolute astonishment, the very next day, Sal sent me an early mix of his new song, "Zombie Moon!"  Sal had checked out my zombie art here, and was sufficiently inspired to create the awesome recording that is now available on Bandcamp as a single, and is also featured on his new album, once again with The Amplifier Heads, called "Rectifier."  Initially, the album was conceived to be a spooky, horror-themed collection of all-new songs with "Zombie Moon" as the title track.  This idea evolved into a more complex group of songs with "Zombie" and also our friend the "Space Cadette" featured in the mix.  I am delighted and gob-smacked to be part of the inspiration behind "Zombie Moon."  It's an amazing song, which can be taken literally as a story about two zombies in love, or more metaphorically as a very touching love song about two people who are far from undead.  The single can be downloaded here, and the "Rectifier" album/CD, an eclectic and electric selection of hard-rockin' and moody gems which sometimes evoke such notables as Queen, The Ramones, The Kinks, and others, is available on The Amplifier Heads' Bandcamp page here.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, July 2, 2022



There are few, if any, musicians out there as creative, versatile, and visionary as Sal Baglio.  Back in the '80's, Sal fronted Boston rockers The Stompers, singing, playing blazing guitar, and writing most of the bands many hits.  I met Sal later, some 20+ years ago, when he was performing in an acoustic duo with ace singer/songwriter Allen Estes at an amazing little restaurant and pub that seemed to be a magnet for some of the best musicians in the area.  Recently, Sal approached me with the idea to use one of my illustrations to promote the release of his new single "Space Cadette."  The piece that caught Sal's eye was an illustration I did for the Washington Post a couple of decades back, a "retro-comic book" image which I had available for licensing as stock art.  I was delighted, to say the least.  Sal is not only a world-class guitarist, but also one of the most innovative songwriters in the business.  He is currently recording with a select group of musicians under the name "The Amplifier Heads."  There are  a number of albums and singles available, some as CDs, others for download at  "Space Cadette" has just become available.  You can find it, along with my humble art piece, here:   And while you're at the Amp-Heads Bandcamp page, check out all the other music available there.  Sal's songs are original, high-concept, deep and eclectic.  They often summon details of the past, filling in the gaps with memories we didn't know we had.  And his concept albums cry out to be enjoyed in one sitting, as they wend across a wondrous audio decoupage of myriad sounds and themes.  The diverse guitar work, lyrics, and vocal harmonies may evoke sounds of the Beatles, the Kinks, or even Tom Waits, but the music is always original and in Sal's own distinct voice.  Just when you think you know where a melody line is going, Sal takes you somewhere new, surfing on the crest of his sometimes hard-rockin', sometimes wistful arrangements.  Sal and I share an appreciation for retro science fiction.  Space Cadette will take you on a rockin' flying saucer ride to the edge of space and back.  And for two bucks, it's a heck of a lot cheaper than SpaceX!

To get back to the art for a minute, Sal chose the above image and asked me to add the band name and title which I did.  Not being able to leave well enough alone, and having done that piece when I barely knew how to use Photoshop, I did a number of variants, adding highlights and gradients to some of the art, in one piece little moons and planets to the bow-tie, and some comic book halftone texture and color to the background in the last one seen below.  Sal also had two ideas for the word balloon text.  "Klaatu" won the day.  As always, click on the images to see the larger versions.

Sal, you might already know this: you rock!!


Thursday, December 30, 2021


If you're looking for something to look forward to in the coming year (and who isn't?), here's a sneak peak at some additions coming to The  The above image features The Phantom Aardvark™ in pitched battle with The Maniacal Mister Bones™.  Although the pair eventually become fast friends and allies as members of The NoWhere-Men™, they were not always as such and at one time were fierce rivals.  I drew the pen, brush, and ink version of this image back in the early 1980's, and colored it years later in Photoshop, in 2001.  Two decades later, I'm posting it here online for the first time!  When this image is uploaded to The, the two logos will be fully animated GIF images.  Those animations exist already and are very cool, if I do say so myself.  And if I don't, who will?!  Updates to  The NoWhere-Men™ website have been in the works for some time, but 2022 promises to be the year of their unveiling.  Among the other additions, which include new full-color art, there will be a page featuring sketches of the characters.  The image below is possibly the very first sketch of The Maniacal Mister Bones™.  I believe this dates to 1975.  Apparently, I was into some serious dramatic foreshortening back then!  The creation of several of The NoWhere-Men™ predates even the Wacky Mr. B, by more than a few years.  The Phantom Aardvark™ was created by my NoWhere-Men collaborator and co-creator Dave LeBlanc in the early 1970's, as was The Electron™, and Norbo The Vampire™.  A few of my creations go back to 1969-'71 and we co-created a bunch more over the years.

But enough about the old days, here's to the future!  May it be one of hope and peace.  And maybe a little fun, too.  Stay tuned for more updates, and, as always, you can click on the above images to see the full-size, awesome art!

Thursday, December 31, 2020


Another of my complex educational illustrations was the above piece which was featured in a spread in NEA Today, the magazine of The National Educational Association.  For this piece, I was contacted by Jay Groff of Groff Creative, a terrific design studio that produces the magazine.  Jay had seen an illustration I did years ago for a series of McGraw-Hill adult education books called "Short Cuts" on my page at the apparently now defunct, and wanted something similar for an article on how the results of the mid-term elections could impact schools.  

This was once again an intricate illustration depicting all of the classes, departments, and issues that could be cut or diminished if the wrong candidates were elected. Funding for libraries, art classes, cafeterias, transportation, and much more was at stake. There were many details to include, from the school nurse's facilities to a transgender restroom. I managed to include some cameo appearances by family and friends, including my oft-depicted friend Dave Leblanc (seen here in a very old Niles Nemo adventure) and my wonderful High School art teacher Frank Petronzio. Once again, the results were a success. NEA Today Magazine can be accessed here: As always, click on the images to see the larger version.


Actually, it was more like Oxford came to me. On a few occasions over the years, I've had the pleasure of producing art for Oxford University Press. Sometimes, that has happened through the auspices of design studios. Last time around, I was  contacted by Blue Bamboo Studios, a London firm that was packaging an educational textbook for Oxford. The art was an approximately 2/3 page image featuring a whole lot of goings-on in a shopping mall. One of the major points of the lesson was demonstrating proximity. Stores and mall-goers needed to be shown directly across from, or next to, or above other shops, restaurants, etc., even including an ice skating rink full of skaters. So, to that end, I decided it would be necessary to eschew my usual oblique perspective approach, which I usually use when showing large complex scenes and use parallel perspective instead. That way there would be no confusion as to what was where in relationship to everything else. I plotted out the perspective in blue line before penciling the finished sketch, which is something I very rarely do. As you can see from the illustration above, there was a lot of detailed information to fit into the scene, and I spent a lot of time tightening up the signage to make it as legible as possible. Friends and family made their usual cameo appearances. I missed angling the vertices like I usually do, but everyone was quite pleased with the results. I was paid in Pounds, and once again fancied myself a Rhodes Scholar, having tended to, if not attended, Oxford University!