Monday, December 30, 2019


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.


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.