Friday, September 16, 2011

5 Year Anniversary!

Five years ago today, I got married to a wonderful woman, and everything's been uphill ever since. In honor of our wedding anniversary, I thought I'd share the thank-you card image I designed to send to our wedding guests back in 2006. It depicts me and Terra riding off into the future in the antique car that her dad drove her to the ceremony in, piled high with wedding gifts. This cartoon captures the joy and love we felt that day, which has only grown stronger with time. I am presenting it here today as a little "thank you" to Terra for the last five amazing years. I love you!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Super Kids!

I recently created a pair of mini-posters for a couple of kiddos in honor of their birthdays. There was Mairin, who was turning 4, and Eamon, who was turning 3. I was told that Mairin was interested in superheroes like Wonder Woman, but of course she was also into Disney princesses like Rapunzel from "Tangled". On top of that, Mairin is a tomboy who likes to be athletic, so I combined all the elements into a hybrid princess/superhero, that apparently she said looked "awesome". For Eamon, his big interest of the moment in the Pixar "Cars" movies, so I figured I would just keep it simple and go with that theme. It was a fun little project, and I hope the kids enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed making them!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Just Add Ink: Camp Cookin'!

This summer, the Altered Esthetics gallery and the Cartoonist Conspiracy collaborated to create Just Add Ink: A Comic Cookbook. Along with dozens of other cartoonists, I submitted a food-related comic piece for inclusion in the cookbook. My story involves my Camp Roadkill character Hubert the pig and his attempts to show a simple recipe to a bunch of unruly young campers. Copies of the book are still available through Altered Esthetics, either in a printed or a digital form. It turned out to be a fantastic publication and I was thrilled to be a part of it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

My Cousin Dallas: Alone Together

I recently cooked up an album cover for the band My Cousin Dallas. These guys are some good friends of mine from college, and they put together this great little album called "Alone Together". The subtitle is "Songs about pop culture and heartbreak", which gives you a sense of what these dudes are all about. For the cover, I did an iconic, comic book style image of a lonely spaceman encountering another being in the emptiness of space. You can get the album through Amazon or iTunes, or at one of their upcoming gigs.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

City Pages Comix Issue: "Life In The Future"

This was my submission for the 2011 City Pages comix issue, which you can read in their online edition here, alongside other great entries from a ton of local cartoonists. Their theme this year was "Life In The Future", which got me thinking about all of our so-called "progressive" ideas that actually look to the past for inspiration.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Comic Jam - May 2011

What is a comic jam, you may ask? Well, picture a "jam session" with a group of musicians, everyone playing off of one another and improvising around a common theme. Now instead of musical instruments, imagine that activity with cartoonists using ink and paper to create a finished comic book. That's a comic jam. Locally, jams are organized by the Cartoonist Conspiracy. They are a great way to keep in practice, meet other cartoonists, and have an outlet for experimentation and creativity in a low-pressure environment. They don't always end up making a lot of sense, but they're always a lot of fun.

Here is a link to the most recent jam I participated in back in May. The theme for this edition was "Monsters From The Id". (my contributions appear on pages 2,3,4,7,and 11... see if you can tell which ones are mine!)

Hello, Friend.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mullet River

A while back, musician Jack Norton asked me to help design some characters and a logo for a bluegrass musical act he was developing known as Mullet River. Eventually the Mullet River concept morphed into something else and we did not end up using these designs, but I thought I would share them here since I thought they turned out so well.  

All images in this post are Copyright/Trademark - The Zinghoppers Group.
Mullet River logo featuring Curly Mullet - the background evokes flowing water and sheet music patterns. 

Master character design for the Mullet River mascot Curly Mullet, our banjo playing fish friend.

Grandpappy Norton, a wise and jovial old barn owl.
Grandma Norton, a boisterous yet kind lady barn owl.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Drawing Words & Writing Pictures: Final Project

For our final assignment in Drawing Words & Writing Pictures, our task was to create a fully finished one-page story. I chose to do this whimsical, yet slightly dark "snowman hunter" idea that has been kicking around in my head for a while. It was inspired by a mini-comic I made earlier this year about a snowman who refuses to accept his fate as winter draws to a close (I will probably scan and post that mini on here sometime) Doing the lettering was a challenge for me, as always, but I am pretty happy with the art, especially the use of dramatic shadows and the characterization of the sad, dying snowman. This class was a total blast, and I hope you enjoy reading my work as much as I did creating it!

Update: Here's a link to Jessica Abel's blog post with an overview on the class:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Drawing Words & Writing Pictures: Imageless Comic

Another challenging exercise we did in class was to create a one-page comic story with no images - just sound effects and word balloons against a black or white background, using the absence of images as a factor in the story. The purpose of this was to make us focus strictly on the storytelling and layout, and not to get hung up on the art. My classmates came up with a number of intersting solutions to this challenge, such as a story set during a power outage, a conversation between characters in the woods at night, and a particularly moving tale told from the point of view of a blind person. My story portrays a pretty common morning scenario from my everyday life... (I don't think this one displays very well in the blog post, don't forget you can always click on the image to see it in a bigger size)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Drawing Words & Writing Pictures: "Gag" Strip

This past week I've been taking an intensive, 5-day version of the Drawing Words and Writing Pictures cartooning course with Jessica Abel. It's been a fantastic opportunity to learn some new skills and dust off some old ones. I thought I would share a few our the exercises that I've done in class. One of the first things we did was to create a simple thumbnail sketch of a "gag" style comic strip, so we could discuss things like pacing, storytelling clarity, etc. Using the feedback I got from our critique, I later went ahead and worked this crude sketch into a final version. Mainly, I did that as an excuse to practice my nib-pen inking techniques. I will post more class exercises on here soon, so stay tuned!  

The original crude thumbnail. The basic idea is there, but Jessica and the other students suggested I flip the clown in panel 3, so that you see his juggling action before he delivers the punchline.  
The final version. Is the punchline funnier this way? Also, I added a framed photo on the wall to give the second clown's space more personality, and I experimented with using both upper and lowercase lettering as opposed to my usual all-caps style. Overall, I think it works (even though it's quite corny).

Monday, July 4, 2011

For Our Grandchildren

A couple years back, I got to try my hand at some political cartooning doing some illustrations for the non-profit group For Our Grandchildren, which was trying to raise awareness to the underlying problems with our social security retirement fund - most specifically, the fact that it is running out of money! Not sure if my little doodles helped shape any public policy, but here are a few of my favorites from that collection (I'll probably share a few more in a future post):

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tire Shop Logo

This little logo was done for an aquaintance of mine named Ron Lischeid who plans to use it for an independent tire repair shop he is opening up. As you can see, we went for a cartoony, Flinstones-style stone-age theme. With his beard and buzz-cut, Ron is a really fun guy to caricature. For this one I used a brush instead of a pen, which is a technique I really need to use more often because the line quality is just so much nicer.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Baking Saints

This is a fun little thing I did a while back as a favor for a former co-worker. She wanted me to draw her a couple little figures to have on display during a "thank-you" party she was throwing for two friends of hers who had made her wedding cake. The idea was to portray her two friends as patron saints of baking on a pair of stained-glass windows. I must say, I think it ended up looking pretty darn cute.

Imaginary Friends

Here is a 2-page story I did for Nicholas Straight's "Imaginary Friends" comic anthology, which premiered at the Imaginary Friends art show earlier this month at Infinitea Teahouse in uptown Minneapolis. This comic featured a number of great tales from a bunch of local artists, based around the general theme of "Imaginary Friends". Nick's plan was to distribute any unsold copies to local comic shops, and I encourage you to get out there and try to pick up the wonderful print edition if it's still available. But in case you can't track one down, here is my story:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"Sunday" Camp Roadkill

 Here's an experimental Camp Roadkill comic I did a few years back. I was trying to work in a large "sunday" style format, and also trying out a more spontaneous drawing style. It's hard to strike the right balance between a loose style and just having it look sloppy... not sure if I acheived that here, but I still think it's a pretty funny little story.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Camp Roadkill

Camp Roadkill is a secret enclave in the north woods of the upper midwest. It is a refuge where critters of all kinds can live together in harmony, away from the human world. Naturally, wacky hijinks will ensue. More to come soon. Enjoy!