paint brushes and citizen kane…

I’ve been experimenting with brush and ink lately.

I did this little rendering for a graphic novel in the works for my MFA studies…I drew out the houses but didn’t have a clue as to how i would do the brushwork. It just happened. Sure, before this drawing there have been thousands…so I had that experience, but past is past.

It’s not perfect, but as it was taking shape I could hear Bruce Springsteen’s “My Hometown” playing in my head.

It was magic.

In my sophomore year of undergraduate study, I took a class called Introduction to Cinema. It was an upper level art history course – at a point when I was trying to figure out if art was something I really wanted to go into. One of the first movies we examined was Orson Welles’ 1941 masterpiece Citizen Kane. Even though I was a huge fan of early motion picture history (silent comedies especially) I had never seen Kane. Before the screening the professor, Dr. Arthur Lennig, spent an hour lecturing about Welles’ eye, his technique, the story, and his groundbreaking innovations—everything a good professor should do. He even told us about the time he met and spoke to Mr. Welles. Once the lecture was over, the movie was screened.

I didn’t like it.

At the time, I didn’t fully understand why I felt that way. Citizen Kane is a masterpiece! What was wrong with me? Later on, I saw that Dr. Lennig’s lecture pointed out how the magician did his tricks. I wasn’t watching the movie, I was looking at the dessert cart while chewing on a fine dinner I didn’t taste. I’ve since developed an appreciation for Citizen Kane but wondered what my experience would’ve been like had I not gotten that lecture.

This is why I HATE over analyzing my work. I want the magic every once in a while. I don’t want to know where the rabbit comes from or if that playing card is up a sleeve. I just want to enjoy the trick. It’s good to know technique, but he magic has to stay magic.

Categories: grad school life


i made an attempt and clutter busting this weekend… currently, i have SIX reasonably large, reasonably complex projects in addition to my daily life that wrestle for my complete attention. anyone out there that knows me will know that nothing ever really gets my FULL attention… i apologize in advance for that. but anyway…

in the midst of dancing from one project to the other… getting a little done on each…i decided to take a break (which my doctor said i NEED to do) and organize my garage…which has become a de facto depot of things i shuffle from closet, to room, to shelf, to floor etc. among the artifacts are bins of old cartoons… some of the cartoons are over a decade old… some are good, some are not so good. but, in moving those bins, those thousands of pieces of bristol board, blue pencil, white-out and india ink, i had a moment. another moment. at some point in my career, now moving into its 15th professional year, each piece of bristol in those bins was the most important thing in my life. nothing else mattered so long as the drawing in front of me got done. once it was done, it didn’t matter as much… or at all. it then became a question of where to put it… now that i had my way and was moving on. thousands of moments. thousands of moments in rubbermaid containers.


you don’t realize it when you’re working on it that you’re spending a part of your life with it. then that’s it. some of the cartoons i can’t even remember doing… and if they weren’t dated, i couldn’t remember WHEN i did it… although i could reasonably judge the date by the style.

does anyone else think about this when they clean out their garage?

they say it’s your birthday…


it was eight years ago that bob was born. i call april 14th his ‘official’ birthday because that’s the day i launched in reality, the idea came to me in late february 2002. it took me a few weeks to sorta kinda hash out what he’d be…and to see if i’d even want to use this character.

before bob, i had ideas for at least a dozen comic strips—all of which were horrible, some bordering on insulting. i really didn’t know what it meant to create and live with a character. i knew, but i didn’t know. i’d take one of my ideas, do enough strips to fill a syndicate submission packet (usually 24 strips…a month’s worth of dailies) and send it all off. because the ideas were so short-sighted, all i could really get out of the premise was a month’s worth… then they’d fall flat on their crosshatched faces. i was telling jokes essentially. when the jokes dried up, so did those characters. gimmicks. fads. stuff like that.

but then bob came into my life. at the time, i was in flux…i had isolated myself from the outside world so much that… hell, i was alone and lonely. you can be alone and not be lonely… but that wasn’t me. bob was the friend that if i could, i’d go out and get. but i didn’t have to. he was someone to talk to, someone that liked a lot of what i liked and he was a wiseass. so, once he was in place, i built a world around him… which essentially was my world at the time. i did that so he’d seem even more real. mostly to me. and it was all in my little head.

since 2002 i’ve done over 2500 bob comics. he’s been reprinted in 6 book collections, 2 one off comic books and even a short animation. he’s been on my shoulder or sitting on my head through engagement, marriage, divorce, depression, insomnia, addiction, revision, repentance, acceptance…along with the good stuff as well. everything that i’ve gone through he’s gone through.

bob even saved my life once.

i begrudgingly and half-heartedly accept that my strip may never reach the fame and fortune of other comic strips—it’s not a perfect strip (if there is such a thing)… some people dig it, some people think it’s a waste of resources…but i’ll still be here, bob will still be here. i never imagined when i began that i’d still be churning out his nutty wiseassness for 8 years. now, i can’t imagine stopping. he’s a member of my family, a part of my life.

happy birthday brother…

Categories: bob life strip