Saturday, July 2, 2022

SPACE CADETTE LAUNCHED!!

 

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 theamplifierheads.bandcamp.com.  "Space Cadette" has just become available.  You can find it, along with my humble art piece, here: rumbarrecords.bandcamp.com/album/space-cadette.   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

TO THE FUTURE AND BEYOND!!

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 NoWhere-Men.com.  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 NoWhere-Men.com, 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

NEA TODAY!

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 TopIllustrations.com, 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: https://www.nea.org/publications As always, click on the images to see the larger version.

DAVE GOES TO OXFORD!

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!

Monday, December 30, 2019

LOGOS, WE GOT LOGOS!

About half a lifetime ago, in addition to being a freelance illustrator, I "daylighted" as an art director for a couple of ad agencies and one TV station (Assistant A/D there, to be precise. I was right out of college.). As such, I often wore many hats. Among other things, I did layouts ("marker comps" in those days), art directed photo-shoots, sometimes did the photography myself, did type specs and paste-up (in the pre-digital days of galleys, Xacto-knives and rubber cement), was a sound engineer and occasional voice actor for radio spots and audio-visual productions, provided in-house illustrations, and once in a while designed logos for a host of clients. All that lasted about 10 years, and then I went strictly freelance and have remained as such ever since. The bulk of my work has consisted of illustrations in the ensuing decades, but there has occasionally been some graphic design to be done. See here for some examples of characters, cover design and logos for Nestle Corporation. I've also created several logos for my own projects such as The Nowhere-Men™, and these comic covers for Joe Comet™, and Hour Father™.

So, when nearly a decade ago, Comicopia, the local comic book store where I had shopped since it opened up (now over 30 years ago!), sponsored a contest for a new logo design for their store, I decided I was uniquely qualified to give it a go. My entry is posted above. I took a very ad agency approach to the project. The design is deceptively complex. The letter forms are all reminiscent of various comic book logos, some, like the two "C's," have roots in Artie Simek's Marvel Comics logos such as "Thor" and "The Fantastic Four." The "I" recalls horror comics of the 1950's. Others are more in the style of funny animal comics. The panels behind the lettering separate each syllable as each depicts a specific genre of comics, to wit: Humor, Superhero, Mystery, Science Fiction, and Manga. Comicopia specializes in Manga, so that was essential to the mix. I did my research and synthesized a couple of characters in a typical Manga style. You can see echoes (but not strict copies) of Disney, Archie, and even R Crumb in Panel 1. I downplayed the superheroes a bit, only showing a fist, a cape and a boot in Panel 2. The others are pretty much all from my imagination, though that fedora-sporting fellow might be related to The Phantom Stranger, The Spirit, The Shadow, or even Steve Ditko's The Mysterious Traveler!  And for the record, the lettering (and the rest of the line art) was all done the old-fashioned way, by hand with pens on paper.

Well, long story short, I was the front runner until the last day of the contest when a quirky little treatment caught the eyes of the staff, and I became the runner-up. Their current logo is far less specific and literal, and they've done well with it. Nevertheless, I am very proud of my design, and thought it was about time the general public had a chance to see it. And there you go!  Click on the image for the big picture.

CAMBODIAN YOUTH SELF-HELP BOOK

I've been meaning to post this image and story for some time. A few years back, I was contacted by John Pavese, an author and publisher for whom I had illustrated a couple of book covers in the past, to create an image for the cover of a new book he and his wife Sokhary Kong Pavese had produced for a young, native Cambodian audience. The book "Make Your Luck, A Cambodian Teenagers’ Guide to Success" is designed to help young, mostly teenage Cambodians achieve a better life for themselves through learning simple skills that will help them adapt from their predominantly rural upbringings to the changing, more industrialized country Cambodia is becoming. It also projects a philosophy that "success at any cost" will not produce a happy outcome. The book warns the readers to be careful of the corruption that infects much of modern Cambodian society on many levels. The author, Sokhary Kong Pavese grew up in rural Cambodia on a rice farm. She worked for four years in Cambodian factories after high school before attending university. As Chairman of John Givonetti Giving (JGG), a Cambodian based charity, she has personally helped thousands of Cambodian teenagers develop the skills needed to be successful. The text of "Make Your Luck" is written in both English and Khmer.

For more on John Givonetti Giving, a wonderful charitable organization, see here.  JGG founder John Pavese is the nephew of John Givonetti, for whom the JGG is named, and who spent his life quietly performing charitable acts benefiting people around the world. More on Mr. Givonetti can be found here, and a detailed and moving obituary is located here.

John Pavese and I worked closely on the cover illustration, which depicts two young Cambodians and their water buffalo against a rural native background. Despite its outwardly appearing simplicity, I carefully researched each element in order to distill the concept down to an accurate image. The illustration, for the record, is rendered in my Cartoon Style 2, which I have utilized for many educational projects.

The book is available for purchase here.

Friday, December 28, 2018

STAN LEE'S BIRTHDAY!

Today is Stan Lee's birthday. I can't add much to what I said in my previous post, but I wanted to do something to commemorate this day. I don't know if Stan was a drinking man or not, but here's a toast to his memory. The glass in the photo is a souvenir from Newbury Comics from Boston Comic Con 2015. That was when and where I finally was able to meet my life-long hero. Every time I've drunk from that glass, I've thought of Stan. I've surrounded the glass with a selection of Stan's books. Here's to you Stan! A toast with love and grateful appreciation. And one last "EXCELSIOR!"