Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Baa, ram, ewe, fleece be true blue, it's Sick Little Suicide #39, "Lamb Chops," in which we slaughter polling deficits.

This piece is inspired by Conor Lamb (D)'s presumptive victory in the Pennsylvania 18th district's special election, overcoming a deficit of 20 points in favor of the orange fraud in 2016. As of this writing, Mr. Lamb is not yet technically the winner, but with 100% reporting, it is mathematically extremely improbable he loses since his opponent would have to dominate the remaining 1,195 absentee ballots severely, to the tune of an astounding 70%, last I heard from the frantic smartboard scribbler on TV. This is especially unlikely since this election has shown a massive evacuation of Republican votes in this district as compared to 2016, but a powerful showing from voters willing to D 'em up.

Anyway, the concept of the piece is pretty straightforward. Playing with the dichotomy of lion vs. lamb, we have a cute but mighty lamb embodying the spirit of a fierce lion, hence a sketched-in, "imaginary" mane. I wanted this to look scrappy since the mood is of an underdog putting up a fight (see the $12+ million dollars the Republicans spent on this special election, vs. the comparatively tiny support Lamb took in. To help convey the mood, I made sure to make the lines feel as guerilla as possible, while still being "neat" in its own way (the askew color was a tricky balance of tidy and slapped-together, for instance.).

Fun Facts: I had a dog that looked like a lamb, but it was actually a poodle. Also, this election came down to the wire--at one point there was a 94 vote difference!--so this supports my belief that we should treat elections (including how I felt about 2016) like games of Magic, in that you don't give up until the game is over and you make your opponent "slit your throat," meaning you don't give up until they definitively close the deal. You can often buy yourself at least one more turn to draw a solution if you don't let your opponent know you're Lou Dobbs, because as long as you force them to have to land the finishing blow before scooping, you're still in it to win it.

Similarly, in every election, we need to freaking turn out like we're fighting uphill, no matter where the election is. We can't rely on polls to say anything's in the bag, or believe the "blue wave" hype is guaranteed and will rescue us from this present orange nightmare--let the wave talk keep your spirits high, but act as if nothing's guaranteed--and turn out in masses to run up the score on them. Only lose because they overwhelmed us with voters. But do not give them the game by taking the win for granted and counting on others to do the actual voting. If the Republicans should win, make them only ever actually win it; don't scoop, don't stay home, don't vote third party.

Easter Eggs: Much like "Funny," we used a lot of blue for the Democratic color.

Not normal,


Friday, March 9, 2018


A quick illustration inspired by Emma Gonzalez of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for International Women's Day.

The Parkland students have been a huge inspiration. It really feels like this is a moment of legitimate change. I've felt for a while that it kind of comes down to having to wait for corrupt, evil people in power inexorably to die out--the momentum as it exists is that they will simply go extinct while more rational people gradually grow to outnumber them as a matter of course, I have no doubt over the long term, that's how it'll go eventually. But the Parklanders represent the other, more active side of the equation: newer generations are not only going to displace the bastions of evil over time, but they now will actively vie to dethrone and defang these sinister elements, accelerating their extinction. What I love about Japan is that you can walk to 7-11 at 4am and not give it a second thought aside from wondering if it's cold enough to bring a hat. That should be what it's like in the US. That is freedom. But we can't get there as long as merchants of death call the tune. Fortunately, the chorus of kids from Parkland sound like the slapper we've been waiting for.

In all seriousness, this moment feels different because it appears to be the point of a perfect confluence of crucial factors that seem poised to manifest in actual change, but that have never all concurrently been present before--I think of this as a Malcolm Gladwell-style Outliers moment, that just by chance, these factors at the right time and place will yield results. There are at least five factors I feel that are contributing to this unabashedly optimistic outlook from this ordinarily cautiously pessimistic optimist.

First, never before have the victims of the tragedy been on the cusp of--or have just freshly attained--the right to vote. Further, as exemplified by Emma Gonzalez's famous speech, this generation has grown up seeing the blatant nonsense (and dangerous cost) of today's horrific state of dialogue and are prepared to call it out in frank terms because they risk death not to. But it's not simply that they can speak out in their immediate community. For the first time, we have a group of victims who themselves --not parents, relatives, or even themselves years later after the immediacy of their tragedy has faded from the public memory)--they themselves are fully capable of reaching out to people at large across the country and even around the world, for that matter, via their fluent ability to take their fight online.

Second, the party in power has blatantly been outed incontrovertibly as various flavors of cartoonishly unacceptable. We have seen they are hypocritical: the party of "moral values" has backed and defended adulterers, spousal abusers, child abusers, etc. They have similarly demonstrated refusal to act in good faith: see (R-KY) Senator Mitch McConnell indignantly acting as if he was observing regular order on his "healthcare" and tax scam bills, when in objective reality he was satisfying the exact accusations he levied against the plain period of study, debate, and compromise provided in preparing Obamacare. Along these lines, we've seen other acts in bald-faced bad faith, such as silencing legitimate questioning during various hearings (see the multiple, outrageous shooshes to D-CA Senator Kamala Harris, for instance), and the absolutely disgraceful runaround R-CA Representative Devin Nunes has engaged in out of ostensible "concern" for truth. These are just a few outrages in this vein of dis-ingenuousness rotting the party.

Similarly (because hypocrisy seems to be the underlying factor in all of this) the oath-defying party has also proven itself to be plainly, dangerously beholden to entities other than the country and the Constitution, and are thus incapable of genuine leadership: they decried deficits while a black guy was in office but then gleefully plunged the government even deeper into debt for the appeasement of their donors: see public comments, such as "adult in the room" (R-SC) Senator Lindsey Graham's admonition that "financial contributions will stop" if they don't pass their tax scam, or R-NY Chris Collins relaying a donor's instructions that they pass the bill or "don't ever call me again."

And most abhorrently, the party has demonstrated an inability to insist on fair play in order to win elections solely on the strength of their ideas: see them going so far as to endeavor to impeach supreme court judges in Pennsylvania for ruling to void severely gerrymandered Republican-favoring districts. Perhaps more grotesquely, see also the party's insistence on disenfranchising people on a massive scale, particular minorities because they know they can't win if everything's fair and square and people just get to vote. I've written about this before, but denying the vote and claiming you're representing the will of the people is like stacking your opponent's deck in Magic so they get mana screwed, and then you start acting like you're Jon Finkel. I'm not even discussing their constant covering for that orange fraud's clear negligence (at the minimum) during his campaign, which will all come out eventually, I'm positive.

For these reasons and (much) more, this party feels like it's only sustained itself on "angle shooting" and "running the cheats," as we say in Magic. I recall in the Hillary Clinton interview on Pod Save America, she vocalized what I had suspected for a while ever since I've been paying closer attention to politics: there's a good chance that the Republican party might have died out by now if it hadn't been able to prolong itself with all the above techniques and more, since it seems there really is no substantial need for what they profess, and no general beneficiaries of their self-destructive policies. I've always loved history, just not necessarily politics, but believe it or not, it hasn't always been D vs. R (in fact, one of our earliest parties was called the "Democratic-Republicans!")...parties indeed emerge, grow, and die throughout our history, it's not radical or unprecedented--as national moods shift, parties come and go. Presently, it feels like for the most part, one party is generally (obviously not everyone) trying to do what it can to help the country improve itself while the other is primarily just out to hurt people and benefit itself, perhaps in that order, but who even really knows? It should be that the parties have different methods of the same end goal: improving the country. But one party is just checked-out and even worse, is actively bringing harm to us. That party should be shunned and let to die out so we can have a new party that will at the bare minimum be interested in national improvement and capable of checking the other party in good faith. My frustrations with that party is what I gather is also taking hold nationally, when people see what they are doing so brazenly and publicly and can no longer justify their (in)actions.

The third factor as to why now is different is related to the second one: because the party in power has submitted so consistently and helplessly to a dangerous lobbying group, we've seen these tragedies at a disgusting regularity and at a soul-crushing reach. After seeing all venues from every level of sacredness from outdoor concert venues to within church walls, and victims from all walks of life, including a baseball field of Republican congresspeople, and of course children who were just barely learning how to write the alphabet, there is a feeling that the need for gun reform is simply no longer by any strain of logic able to be hand-waved or shrugged away.

Fourth, and perhaps the most all-encompassing factor as to why now is different: we are in a climate of finally pushing back in general at the systemic abuses that hoarders of power have been subjecting us to. The Women's March was an inspirational, massive declaration that this disgraceful state of oppression and inequality was not a figment of anyone's imagination, or even just a small hiccough in an otherwise humming machine. The MeToo movement has been bringing justice to people abusing positions of power in professional settings. The overall recoil from the outrage and dishonor of that orange fraud taking the White House and populating it not merely with inept people, but people antithetical to their posts in so brashly public a display has made more people than ever (such as myself) cease apathy and derive direct concern with what's going on. Regardless of what particular interest people may have (interest in women's rights, healthcare, minority rights, science protection and advancement, maintenance of global power, preservation of history and prestige, the administration of justice), in general, we all have one or more stakes in paying attention and doing what we can to try to right this storied ship in stormy seas. More engagement means this disgusting blemish in our history has more people alert and questing for reform, none more obvious and popular than gun reform.

Fifth, this is all culminating right around a midterm election year while a severely unpopular party and historically loathed head reign either incompetently, dangerously, or both, and in any case, disingenuously. People were growing fed up and looking forward to midterms enough as it was, but then this happened and it feels like it's the final straw just as we enter the midterm year itself.

The momentum for gun reform has been building for years, and now given an articulate population that can vote almost immediately following their personal tragedy and who can meanwhile also reach out on a massive scale to a network of similarly interested forerunners and recently activated once-apathetics, and given a clear opponent in a dangerous and inept ruling party, and a widespread climate of yearning for positive change just as we turn the corner into midterms, this time it indeed feels different. This time it feels like these young voters will get it done. Perhaps not immediately, but in their lifetimes for sure, and perhaps even by the time they graduate college we'll be living in a comparatively different world. I can feel it. It feels so obvious. And I certainly hope some of their number chooses to move into law or politics so we can get people genuinely interested in public good in positions of power. We need it; we need them. They can do it; we can do it. We must do it.

But, you know, to be totally frank, these students also kinda bum me out! I remember growing up watching Gundam Wing in particular, and specifically thinking (as a child, no less), Wow, when I'm a teenager, I'll never change the world like they are. I'll never do great, consequential things like that. The students bring me right back to that deflating insecurity, though now I'm on the other side. I see them giving speeches and advocating for something greater than themselves, and I feel as useless as I did as a kid watching Duo Maxwell throw it down on TV. Like I missed my chance to contribute. That's what eats at me about art. There's only so much I can do to help the world. I'm not a doctor or politician, or even a teacher. How's that Yale degree treating you?

I guess we should talk a bit more about the art itself, since this is an art site after all. I did some early portrait studies during some practice recently, so I'll just include some of those in this post (it's just practice in inks, no pencils, so we let the jank flow). But about today's main illustration, it uses the female symbol in the background, but it is also presented vaguely to resemble an Ankh, the symbol of life. I see the new generation (and females in general) as the hope for life in an abstract sense after seeing the destructive nature of older generations and male-dominated leadership. In having the symbol circle the head, there's of course the connotation of a halo from classical art, too, but it also subverts the symbology of a chalk outline of a victim who fell for the ascension of a victim who survived. All positive things. The pose is reminiscent of that classic painting of JFK, though rather than a male President who fell to a gun, we're witnessing a new generation of leaders rising to challenge guns.

Not normal,


Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Sometimes you just have to walk right into the mouth of it all.

This is the first piece I've done that's made me happy in a long, long, long time.

I've been pretty depressed lately. For a while, actually, but after finishing this piece, I just felt such a relief. Quieted everything, all the worry and doubt, if only for a day or so.

She's just heading into this cave (actually a dinosaur mouth, probably lightly inspired by Ixalan's dino theme). Just bring it on, let's go.

I was really pumped to try this new coloring technique: just a soft brush for two tone layers, then I colored those locked layers, and applied various gradients and adjustments above them.

This piece came together pretty quickly too, not enough time to start second-guessing myself and hating everything. Happy this one worked out. Minimal, but with plenty of punch.

I kept listening to Michael Jackson by Das Racist to get the attitude right, but it kinda started as a flash of an idea about negative space in this quick sketch. I also wanted to practice drawing an Asian character for an upcoming piece. The Ellegarden connection is probably because I was also listening to their adventurous The End of the World, which made me think of dinosaur worlds like Ixalan.

Not normal,


Friday, March 2, 2018


I use Steve Ahn's incomparable, essential Photoshop brush (Steve Ahn's Ultimate Brush, or "SAUB") just about every day, particularly for linework and sketching, so I am eager to do some fan art with it of his new, independent animation series, Blossom Detective Holmes, whose Kickstarter is in its final day! Investigate it here!

I thought I might try drawing this exclusively with Steve Ahn's Ultimate Brush, as I've don't this sort of thing before, but I can easily get carried away, so I decided to merely use it extensively. The background, however, is a great example of how I like to paint/draw directly with it though--just get a basic shape and then draw/paint right over it. I honed this technique on my GDS series's costumes.

I had a few concepts for this piece in mind, but I wanted to do something unconventional, yet grounded. So I did a composition of Skyler and Jamie jamming through the city, like in the pilot episode, but the emphasis here would be on their photos, not their faces. I wanted to accomplish this by covering their faces with Polaroids of the opposite character. My original concept for this was them holding the photos in front of their faces with their teeth for a goofier, more playful vibe, which you can see in the thumbnail section.

The poses and compositions for the photos themselves actually came from photos I saw of some people I know. But I haven't spoken to them (or anyone, really) for years, so I'm sure they'll probably not So yeah, anyway, I went heavy on the filter effects on the photos, which was fun, cuz you usually just want to treat illustrations lightly with such effects, but since they were supposed to be photos, we could really go to town.

The city setting was inspired by the pilot Blossom Detective Holmes episode, but also by Yale and our famous Harkness Tower. It isn't a direct copy of the signature statue-clad bell tower, but it's in the spirit of it, with similar semi-circle, arch, and spike motifs. The building on the right is similarly in the spirit of my old residential college, JE, but not quite a copy.

From the thumbnail, my original composition had them facing in opposite directions. This felt cooler for its natural tension, and because it could let me capitalize on Jamie's flowing long hair to direct the motion and balance of the piece, but I ended up switching her to face right since it just wasn't working after inking the rough poses. Now there's a nice loop of action from the moon, scooping down along the tower to Skylar's jewel, up to her eye, then over to Jamie.

These are the thumbnails I was working with. They are pretty tiny, but I enlarged the one I decided to go with into my usual 9inx9in canvas. As you can see, I was trying to arrive at some composition that used photos in lieu of faces. I desperately wanted to avoid just drawing the characters floating in space, since it feels so cheap to go simply with characters rather than a full illustration with a logical corresponding background. I had considered just plugging them into one of my SAUB pieces, but that too also felt a little cheap...

Just for fun, here's the piece with no lines. The lines were also done with SAUB of course, but this shows how I paint with it. The piece is almost entirely made with this brush, but I did allow for some small tweakables like gradients and more blatantly non-SAUB smoke and stars. I am on the fence about the smoke. I wanted it to feel noiry, but maybe it just looks washed out...

I was also on the fence about completely illustrating Jamie since a large part of her would be blocked out by Skyler. I ended up coloring her more or less all the way since I kept having to disappear Skyler so I could make more convincing, flowing choices on Jamie. This "drawing through" method involves ignoring elements in front of whatever you're working on, so you can make unbiased decisions. You can see this quite well with the background elements that have strokes trailing off into nowhere. Thus I consequently ended up basically coloring Jamie accidentally, out of necessity.

Not normal,


Monday, January 15, 2018


Here's a portrait study I did of that rootin' tootin' Texan, TJ "IvyLeaguePunk" Smith '10, complete with an ivy-laced background and little mini 'zas!

This started as a study to test out a new pencil brush I downloaded (man, what an excellent brush it turned out to be! It's like KNKL's chalk brush, only just a little more concentrated!), but cookie-mousedly, I felt compelled to continue working on it, and today we finally gave the piece its final few moments in the oven after its stint on the back burner--it looks like I did the initial lines early last month.

I've told pretty much all the TJ stories I know from college by now--Yale, like Harry Potter, has different "houses" (or "colleges," if you are of the civilized sort), and his (Morse? Stiles? Is there a difference? [There is not.]) was on the total opposite side of campus from mine (JE)--though I generally didn't "hang out" anyway--so we didn't interact too, too much, thus I mainly knew him through shows he'd do here and there, including off campus at a venue called "The Space," which I believe is still there, but renamed and re-skinned from its former nostalgia-ridden, arcade-y vibe. Anyway, it was always fun listening to his band, The Sandy Gill Affair, play, meanwhile I'd invariably be sketching as invisibly as possible in the audience somewhere. So many wonderful memories of listening to Yale bands and disappearing into a sketchbook. I'm pretty sure I was going deep on my official My Chemical Romance sketchbook in those days! That thing rocked.

Oh! Here's some TJrivia: he did a cover of Taking Back Sunday's "Timberwolves at New Jersey" once, that was pretty neat. Taking Back Sunday holds a special place in my heart because Louder Now was the last album I bought just before Yale, so that summer and especially that auspicious, mysterious flight--my first flight ever--is always associated with that album, and consequently so is that early, blissfully chaotic period of starting life anew at Yale. So it was really cool not only to find that someone at rap-centric Yale had heard of TBS, but even further, that they would be moved to perform their stuff! Does that count as a TJ story? I'm being told it does. Nice.

Anyway, it's been neat seeing TJ plug away at his projects these days. Lately he's focusing on streaming, which is admittedly hard to catch live (and to be perfectly honest, I loathe Twitch for how lag-prone I've found it to be way too often), so I'll have to go the binge route on YouTube, assuming that's still in the works (I gather there've been some issues with YT and creatives, so who knows). He also wrapped playing a crusty cap'n type on this limited series podcast called The Dark Ones, which was pretty cool and he was one of the strongest players, to boot. I'm eager to check out more of his stuff down the road. Down the rodeo? Cowboys, Texas, etc.

Not normal,


Monday, January 1, 2018


Ok, here's our first art of 2018! It is a riff on our New Years' ZLM piece from last year, so it's Z and Nyao in the same costumes as that one J.C. Leyendecker painting I always associate with New Years'. To make this more thematic, I drew Z on New Years' Eve, and Nyao on New Years' Day. The props and stuff were inspired by a bunch of vintage New Years' photos I spotted online.

I enjoy really dressing these guys up in formal duds on occasion, likely stemming from "The New Year," by Death Cab for Cutie, which has that classic line, "So everybody put your best suit or dress on / Let's make believe that we are wealthy for just this once," because it was always like getting to go on a shopping spree with no concern for budget. Giving these guys nice costumes is like giving my friends a little gift I could never give them in real life. I guess it also owes to my love of how fashionable JP comics can get, I'm thinking of Obata Takeshi for instance, whose Hikaru from Hikaru no Go played a role in Z's design, actually. He looks quite dashing in a tuxedo, I must admit.

Anyway, we might as well check in on our resolutions from last year--

Goal 1: Draw more digital pieces.
Quantifiable: 1 digital drawing a week.
Result: Pass.
Just skimming my Instagram, I am confident I was able to do well over 52 paintings! Easy! Can't believe I was nervous about this one.

Goal 2: Draw at least 3 comics and some SLSs
Quantifiable: Coverage Draft, Splinter, and Songs About Chie, + 12 Sick Little Suicides.
Result: Fail.
The closest I got was 11 or 12 SLSes, depending on how you count--I did some Magic stuff that intersected a bit, and I ended up not posting a few cuz they didn't feel good enough, but then again, what's the point if I don't post them? Note, I'm writing this on 1/4/18, when I have some gaps in the archives, so I'll likely backposting these at some point. As for the comics, this was quite a dismal failure. I've started drawing Splinter and Coverage Draft, but the latter is on pause to focus on Splinter, which is stalled on page 4 of 13. This is unacceptable. I got caught up focusing on illustrations that felt more pressing and relevant, as well as the daily sites' posting schedule, which didn't leave energy for the comics. The solution seems quite obviously to forget about illustration for a while, but I feel such pressure to make pieces daily and keep present and to bolster the portfolio with illustrations, which I suspect must be more important.

Goal 3: Draw more fan art.
Quantifiable: 1 fan art a month.
Result: Pass.
This was pretty easy. I forgot about Inktober, which kinda makes this quantity child's play, but treating that as simply one mega-image for the month, I'm pretty sure we've been able to do at least 12 fan arts. The finer print about being more face-shovey about my stuff has been harder, but that definitely has to be a continuous goal going forward.

Goal 4: Study more.
Quantifiable: 30min+ every day.
Result: Pass.
I've been able to keep up the pace more or less coming up on post number 365, though I can't remember why the numbering is off. I actually believe I should be pulling back on this since I need to be making more finished, portfolioable stuff...I've tried compromising by just sketching in pen on paper, or with no eraser if digital...I's easy to get carried away and bogged down.

So, we went 3 for 4. The most important goal, to make crucial comics, was the one we missed. 3/4 isn't good enough here.

Goals this year are basically more of the same, since we were able to accomplish most of these without being overwhelmed--

Goal 1: Draw similar amounts of digital pieces and make one portfolio piece a month.
Quantifiable: 1 nice digital drawing a week, 1 portfolioable piece a month.
Method: Just paint. We should strive for experimentation and growth, though...avoid relying on water and falling into similar well-trodden gimmicks. More importantly, regardless of how many digitals we do, we need to make a "nice" one every week, one that we can look at as a real, completed thought. On top of that, we have to develop one painting every month that could be a portfolio candidate.

Goal 2: Draw at least 3 comics and 12 SLSs and some ZLM stuff for the 10th anniversary
Quantifiable: Coverage Draft, Splinter, and Songs About Chie, + 12 Sick Little Suicides +1 or more ZLMs.
Method: Draw Splinter. Work on one panel at a time. We have all these comics written and thumbnailed, you just need to draw them out. So just go and do it. At a rate of one panel a day, it'll take a while, but hopefully it'll be the bare minimum that drives us to complete more than that laughable quota. You did four a day in college, come on, more on Herald day...As for SLS, actually hop on stuff and just do it, regardless of finished quality, just like a YDN brief. As for ZLM, if you have to redraw your favorite comics, do it. Or draw some of the newer scripts. Or something, even just a nice character profile treatment or splash or something. We have to mark the 10 year anniversary. Do it for Z and N!

Goal 3: Draw similar amounts of fan art.
Quantifiable: 1 fan art a month.
Method: Pick stuff I can deal with and draw it. Also, hype it--actually throw it in front of the relevant parties, don't rely on people grapevining it to them. Mimic all those dumb, faux-self-deprecating people you see online, whatever you have to do to stomach forcing people to look at your garbooj.

Goal 4: Study Similarly.
Quantifiable: 30min+ every day.
Method: Same as always, just sketch/study daily off of resources we find online. But crucially, don't get carried away to the detriment of actual work. Study, but don't procrastinate or cower in fear from what we must do.

So those are our goals, we've got to do better. This has to be the year. We must do better. Treat it like life or death.

Not normal,


Friday, December 29, 2017


Nothing has felt good enough to post here, so we're perpetually playing catch-up, but let's just close the year with this low-pressure zero.

I wanted to draw him sleep deprived and in a hybrid of hard, ink lines and soft, painted eyes.

Nothing's really worked out this year, even the good stuff was temporary and as fleeting as I had thought it would be.

But there's the hope things'll get better somehow at some point.

I feel like I'm ultimately an optimist, but I have to sledge through an ocean of pessimism to get there, yet that's all I can really do.

Not normal,


Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Laugh yourself to death, it's Sick Little Suicide #37, "Funny," in which we finally have a reason to smile.

This comes off of news that Doug Jones (D) beat child abuser R.M. (R) for Alabama senate, the first major victory in rebuking that orange turd's ethos. This was significant because it makes the Senate quite reasonably within reach of being flippable in November, and in the meantime makes it just that much more difficult for Republicans to get their destructive policies through since they now only have the slimmest margins of majority.

Yes, he's from Alabama, but I'm hoping he doesn't cow into a quasi-Republicanism; he has to take his election as a signal to push back on that party of frauds and cons. Another gain of this election has been that it has concretely outed the Republicans as plain hypocrites on moral authority. These villains maneuvered their way to endorsing or condoning a child abuser, and only mildly stepped back when it was inconvenient for them, if those who disavowed him didn't straight up re-join him later. But those who stuck with him dared to invoke religion in his very defense in the face of his accusers. This is flatly evil. These people are monsters and need to be ripped out of Congress, the White House, and polite society at large.

This isn't even addressing how starkly unqualified the Republican was before news of his personal behavior broke: the guy lost his judgeship not once, but twice for outright defying court orders. If a math teacher insists on using math hour to teach students Shakespeare because he feels like that's his job, consequently lost his math-teaching job after the principle explicitly told him to teach math, got his math job again, and then refused to teach math and insisted on talking Shakespeare again, and then lost his math-teaching job again, that guy doesn't deserve to be a math teacher, forget about if we find out he'd been messing with kids and had gotten banned from the cafeteria because of student complaints. And we're supposed to treat that guy as a normal, viable candidate for superintendent, who would be responsible for teachers' conduct? It's a sick cartoon.

Fun Facts: Nick Animation reposted this piece (the early version of it, but still)!

Easter Eggs: The art is based on Doug Funnie's Race Canyon alter ego, but he's in Indiana Jones's famous he's Doug Jones, get it? Anyway, it's all blue cuz that's the Democrat color.

Not normal,


Friday, November 24, 2017


A simple, little Torky for Torkoydoy, mang!

Not normal,


Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Ok, we wrapped MTGintkober, but I got a request from Tibaut on Tumblr for a creature I never got around to, namely Sygg, River Guide, so here he be at long last!

My hope with this year's MTGinktober run was to hit as many of the obscurer Magic characters as I could, since the main guys always get all the attention, but I was positive I'd miss some characters near and dear to some people's hearts. Thus I made the offer early on to consider anyone's pet cards, to see if I could work them into a future illustration, and even flat-out do "bonus tracks" after Inktober ended to clear out any characters people were really hoping to see.

I don't believe Sygg was ever a candidate for a piece this year--the closest he could have gotten was maybe Deep or Underwater, but as indicated in those process posts, I had other concepts in mind for those prompts. But I got the request near the end of the run, so the cleanest solution was just to dedicate a special-edition-type post just for him.

Fun Facts: This is the first "traditional" merfolk I've ever drawn. Kiora is technically a merfolk, but she's of the convenient plot-construction school of design, meaning she's got legs rather than the usual, fishified finish to her anatomy. I also drew this in the sketchbook that only contains one Inktober 2017 piece, Ship, since I had rediscovered that the paper of this sketchbook randomly splotches ink, making it too risky to use for full-fledged Inktobers. But since this was a special edition, there was less pressure to avoid cleaning up random errors in Photoshop, and besides, I had a bunch of just-cleared pages just going to waste!

Easter Eggs: The background of this piece was based on Sygg's Lorwyn art, though we lowered the camera to get that half-submerged look.

Not normal,


Tuesday, October 31, 2017


MTGinktober covers up for Day 31, "Mask," starring Sakashima the Imposter, hobbling along in his new position as Kamigawa's chief regional Happy Mask Salesman!

I wanted to draw Nissa for this one, actually. I had this concept of doing an homage to that famous scene in Ghost in the Shell where the cyborg's head/face splits open--I wanted to draw that but with a Magic character. Drawing Nissa as the star was my cold calculation on how to make it more appealing (and slightly more disturbing). The hook was that this was more of a robotic mask. That was my leading idea until I convinced myself that was the easy way out--it's a female character, a Planeswalker, one of the most popular of the main Magic cast, a reference to a popular movie...this whole "selling out" thing has really been eating at me. This would have felt really hollow. I should have done it.

The only other idea seriously competing with this one was my absolute first idea, a reference to Skeletal Grimace, where Nissa was pulling off the skin of her face to reveal a cackling skeleton. That felt just a little too disturbing, such that it might turn people off, so I favored the GITS idea. I had also considered another Kaya and Koth piece with them reenacting the famous The Dark Knight Returns shot of a hulking Batman and lithe Robin jumping in unison and wearing similar masks, but I wasn't sold on the concept, considering I already teamed them last year, so it's like, what the only black characters can only exist together? That felt cheap and dumb, but I don't know if I was overthinking it. I've done repeat teams this year (and imagine I"ll do so again eventually), but they were thematically linked. The only link here would be that they were black, and that felt exploitative.

So anyway, my back-up plan all throughout these waffling debates was doing a take on Sakashima with a bunch of homages in the masks as our final send-off to this year in Inktober. Even better, fusing him with the Happy Mask Salesman from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. So, since I couldn't convince myself that any of the above mentioned ideas were the way to go, we settled on this admittedly unimpressive concept. This was an underwhelming finale, for sure. I knew it would be: it's a not-necessarily attractive character, it's a dude, and it's perilously close to the original art's composition, so it represented multiple levels of mediocrity. I knew the previous Liliana piece would do well, but felt that good old, self-sabotaging urge pressuring me not to employ Nissa again because it just felt too easy and I felt cheap enough this year.

Fun Facts: During research, I rediscovered that there are actually two official interpretations of Sakashima out there. Just like with Stuffy Doll, Udon Crew also made a go at this creature for Magic Online, so I ended up using the original's body and the avatar's face since it was considerably clearer to read than the card version.

Easter Eggs: So we already know it's overall an homage to the Happy Mask Salesman, whose face has become the mask Sakashima holds in his hand, which the shapeshifter created right after he murdered the maskmonger to get this gig. The mask in the back at top, facing away from camera is Zero. Appropriately enough for this coerced piece, right next to Z is the infamous Dragon Mask of legend--they say Magic was forced to use this art under pressure from the art director. To the right is Uba Mask and to Uba's right, just peeking out from behind the backpack is Vicky Vasquez, who is overlapped by Illusionary Mask. Further left is the Happy Mask Salesman's Mario mask of course, followed by Ivory Mask, which seems to have Cho-Manno's fountain in it, I discovered. On the bottom of the Imposter's pack is Mortivore and the old Phyrexian mask, which is most often seen as a logo or costume detail among Phyrexia-aligned creatures and most famously on display as the Apocalypse expansion symbol. Between those two is Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker. And rounding out the collection at the bottom of Sakashima's sleeve, replacing his student's mask, is the mask of The Blue Spirit from Avatar. I noticed Sakashima's masks all have little seals on their foreheads with cryptic characters on them, which seemed like an important detail, so I used each one to spell out my name in Japanese as well as piecemeal convey the date information.

Not normal,