Monday, March 20, 2017


Just a weird night...started with a surprise visit from a bunch of the landlady's kids accompanying her on her scheduled visit. They were clamoring for more presents (he still carries my sketch card around!), so I invited them to choose from among my Inktober drawings for a little souvenir (only had my newer sketchbook on hand, so only the latter Inktobers were available, unfortunately). They all flipped out!

I also thought it'd be nice to let the little girl of the group get two, since she was just so wistfully looking at our little angel, after earlier getting to scoop that old Pikachu when I first thought to give away some sketches. The party looted cat lady Chandra, Silvos, Squee, and even (super excitedly) Tibor and Lumia!

I felt so, so sad when they left, though. I usually feel good when I give art away, and I did feel good, but there was some overwhelming weight suffocating it. I was numb the whole day, vaguely wanting to throw up as the hours dragged by, but everything gave way to a distinct sadness at the moment they left. I just stared at the wall for a few minutes. Didn't cry. So there's that.

I haven't slept yet (since Sunday)...hopefully we can time walk the flight. Just want to sleep and cry, in whatever order.

Not normal,


Friday, March 17, 2017


A tribute to the one and only Tokyo Werewolf, who was there from beginning to end.

Most of my stuff (including rulers!) is miles away at this point, if not further, but so it goes. Kept my inking kit handy though.

The trick is not to think about it too much. But if it were easy, it wouldn't be much of a trick, huh?

Not normal,


Wednesday, March 15, 2017


I saw this old WIP sketch and thought I'd finish it since we've been having some rain lately. Love the rain. I started it because I wanted to draw Z in a rainy Yale like with Nyao, but ended up just drawing a snowy study.

Anyway, this is a much quicker line drawing. I've been a bit preoccupied lately, so it's hard to focus on anything too major for at least this week...

Not normal,


Monday, March 13, 2017


Feeling down. It just came over me abruptly and dragged everything down. It's not quite a sense of loss, but just a sense of powerlessness. I hate powerlessness. Just want to sleep. Maybe it's the lack of sleep.

At least it's nice and cloudy, even rainy lately. Love the rain.

Not normal,


Friday, March 10, 2017


Short on time lately, particularly since I wanted to go play Magic for the first time in seemingly forever for a change, so thought I'd digitally ink, then color an old Didi piece.

But for this one, I wanted to color as fast as I could, so I tried flatting then stickering the colors, intensely saturating that sticker, and then masking out non-highlighted areas.

In this way, my chosen colors, which were preemptively darker than local, would contrast with the "highlights," which would serve as lighting for the piece.

This is what just the highlighted areas looked like, so this layer atop the flats is what gave the colors definition.

I tried using a smoother brush for the inks, rather than my usual, chunkier Steve Ahn's Ultimate Brush, and I have to say the crispness this smooth brush gives is quite pleasant in its own way.

The background was a photo from a roadtrip, I believe, back in the old country. The old country...

Not normal,


Wednesday, March 8, 2017


An old study of Lady Liberty using Steve Ahn's Ultimate Brush.

Not normal,


Monday, March 6, 2017


Missed the last bus home, so I had to spend the night at a Sukiya, which is like, McDonald's : Burgers in US :: Sukiya : curry and rice in Japan. But I like Sukiyas. They're open 24 hours, and you can usually find them near enough to train stations, so I like to camp out there if I ever need somewhere to crash, like in the old days during Pre-Release weekends, or that time I helped host Rob Alexander.

Usually you just buy anything and you're able to hang out as long as you like, so I'd even spend days sketching in there after my old day job rather than have to go all the way back home. So plenty of nostalgia already of old snowy days in the warm company of cheese curry, which is the only way I can handle the spicy stuff (hate spicy food, but what else are you gonna order there? Besides the ice cream/pudding).

I even have a phantom nostalgia, it's kind of a family place, so the ad posters on the wall and the kids' section of the menu have all these happy families, so I imagine what it must be like to be a kid in Japan who gets to go to this place, so excited, with the whole family to chow down on this wacky, wonderful food. They even plant a little flag in your rice if you're a kid! I imagine myself as the dad and as the kid in the ads. As a dad, I would especially love to take my kids to this place as a surprise, just as we have fond memories of being pulled from school early on our birthday to get treated to McDonald's or Burger King, just me and the kid. As a kid, how great must it be on any occasion to come to this bright, exotic place, where the food seems endless and you get ride in the car and head into the big city to hang out with the fam. The pudding spoon even looks like Snoopy sometimes.

Anyway, this particular Sukiya I stayed at didn't let me sleep, though, so I was really loopy while drawing this. I noticed the napkins had a really ruff texture to them, so I tried smearing my pencil shades and got this neat blurry effect. Finally made it to 5am so I could head back to the station to catch the bus home.

Not normal,


Friday, March 3, 2017


Just got an urge to draw a traditional sketch after seeing one of those 100 yen pocket sketchbooks at Family Mart...I even added a new, gorgeous B99 Copic to the cheemu.

Not normal,


Wednesday, March 1, 2017


Ah, just thinking about Yale lately, so I wanted to do a study of my old homeland, with a little Zero snuck in there for better or for worse.

The animation was an afterthought, inspired by my rain tribute (love the rain), though ironically it's actually raining right now and Tokyo snow is probably done till next winter.

This is also a companion to the Nyao at snowrainy Yale number. And this spot would actually be right in the back corner of where Nyao's head is, and facing left along the path heading into Branford from Saybrook.

The concept started as an intense close up of "Zero being a coward," but after glancing at an old photo, I just got this deep, arresting longing for Yale and thought to focus on that and downplay Z. Thus a coward in snow becomes a "snoward."

It's always comforting diminishing Z...I'd always be mean to him just to make myself feel better, or at least, acknowledge that it could be worse.

I dunno...I just felt so bitterly sad today, just wanted to stay in bed and, well, cry or sleep or both...But I forced myself to get up and do some studies and then draw this. I'm glad I did it, but I know I'm just running away from things. I use art like some alcoholics use booze, I imagine.

Not normal,


Monday, February 27, 2017


I've been listening to US history and race and civil rights era documentaries and stuff lately, and greatly wanted to do a more serious Black History Month piece.

This study was done on just three layers with the Steve Ahn's Ultimate Brush, flat opacity, so there's not much more behind the scenes to make it plain, but I did blur a bit above these base layers (foreground, middleground, background) and add some noise and a gradient map to make it look a little more like the still from the Malcolm X documentary where I observed him and Martin Luther King, Jr. in the same room!

Not normal,


Friday, February 24, 2017


An older Vicky sketch back from when I was clearing out my last pocket sketchbook.

Not normal,


Wednesday, February 22, 2017


I wanted to draw something for catday, after noticing there is such a day in Japan, owing to, of course, a pun based on how you can choose to pronounce the date in Japanese dakara neko no hi.

I was going to draw Nyao, but then thought, meh, why not try something I normally would avoid, and give some BTAS fan art a shot?

So here's Catwoman, Batman: The Animated Series era.

I used a photo I took in Shinjuku as reference for our little Gotham analog, and I studied Jock covers for managing the more designy presentation, including the bold use of negative space.

I also tried mixing my brushes, so I based it all in Steve Ahn's Ultimate Brush, but used the KNKL softbrush to color Catwoman, and gave the pen tool a try to get the whip to curve like that.

Not sure how successful this was, but maybe-possibly learned a little doing this.

Not normal,


Monday, February 20, 2017


Conan put out a call for Mexicanny fan art for his Made in Mexico special, so I wanted to give it a try since I am a Mexicanny fan/artist.

I couldn't decide on a final between the takes, but I favor this pair because it has my go-to lovely purples, referencing how his old Late Night art bumpers tended to use these darker colors.

This is the more high-concept version I went with originally, featuring sorta shadow echoes.

I'm not a total Mexican't, I consider myself more of an indifferent "Mehxican," but I do like the skull imagery of my culture, which goes great with Conan's famously stringy figure, so that's where this concept started.

Since I had three main elements going, I thought I'd try a version calling back to the Mexican flag.

As much as I hate the color red, I kinda like the red Conan.

And then here's the super bare-bones version.

This design thread came after hours and hours of failed alternative efforts, but glad we finally got there...

Not normal,


Friday, February 17, 2017


A drawing inspired by Grace Hopper College, previously known as Calhoun College. Back when I was an undergraduate, it was called "Calhoun College," and we liked it. Famous 'Hounies include...uh...Demetri Martin '95, who's apparently currently voicing a supreme "white bear," as they're called in Japan. And uh...I'll think of others, give me a minute.

As for Grace Hopper, I was blown away with how accomplished she was after reading up on her. She is quite an inspiration and definitely someone worth having pride and tradition in. Calhoun's current mascot is officially "the fire," if I recall, so I sincerely hope they ditch the vaguely-defined unofficial firey 'Houn dog mascot for a graceful bunny. It's such a flexible mascot, too, I can see plenty of adaptations to any circumstance from a cute, literal bunny to a more personified one, or even just an ironically intense battle bunny. "Beware the Bunny," and similar chants are a natural fit. So for my take on the mascot, I wanted to have a kinda graceful bunny-girl with that Hopper hairdo and her specs to boot, plus carrotty accents, and big, floppy ears and feet. The sailor outfit and quasi-military jacket are Naval nods to Hopper's career.

Who else was in Calhoun, by the way...(looks up the CC Wikipedia page) wow, Claire Danes (pretty sure she headed off early, though, or was that Jodie Foster? Wow, hey, she's Calhoun, too!), oh--Jonathan Coulton '93! I saw him give a Tea with the Record. Ah, neat he and John Hodgman '94 were both in CC, that makes sense. And what?! Kurt Schneider '10! I had no idea he was Calhoun! I used to watch him play in a band with Jake '09 on the street on Broadway Night and stuff, they did an incredible medley as their closer. Whenever I could, I'd just sit there and sketch as they'd loop through their set. I also got to see him play with the Sandy Gill Affair at the Space. I guess because of that band I always thought he was Morse or Stiles (shudder).

Anyway the racial stuff surrounding Calhoun never really came up in any notable way my entire four years, as far as I was/am aware. Granted, I was in JE (Jonathan Edwards), so my cognizance of CC stuff was limited (plus nobody really cares about Calhoun College, come on). Actually, one of my art heroes transferred from Calhoun into JE, come to think of it, so that kinda seals the deal, doesn't it? Answer: yes.

I'm not black, but I am a minority, so I guess I get to have an opinionish on the name. I myself was actually in favor of them keeping it Calhoun (I only heard of Hopper after they announced the change). I love the idea of that disgusting mark of our university and national history being so prominent as a college name because it disallows us to run or hide from our history, and meanwhile everything we represent and strive for and achieve flies flatly in the face of that racist's ideology. With every victory, we prove how pitifully wrong he and his ilk are and reshape the name into new meaning. Plus it's just an intangible name, which itself is not inherently tied to some vicious meaning, unlike say, a statue or something like that with immutable properties; you can reclaim the name as you will.

During my years, the master of Calhoun was even black, one of the coolest most popular professors on campus, and now he's the Dean of Yale itself! Justice doesn't get sweeter than that. Side story: one heavy winter as we were all preparing to leave for break, Master Holloway helped a Hounie make her shuttle bus by personally dropshipping her and her luggage to the pickup site via his car so she wouldn't miss her flight. He didn't need to drive or trudge around in the snow to help an outta-luck student, but he did. I was floored seeing such kindness. That's my greatest CC memory.

But I understand the desire to move past the Calhoun name, much like Pierson College (appropriately shorthanded as "PC") long retired its former college mascot with such precision and thorough eradication that you would be hard-pressed to find a student who could identify the character that Pierson people rallied behind in the early days of Yale College life. Look through the archives carefully enough (the JE library has a neat Yale history volume) and you'll learn that Piersonites in the mid 1930s gussied up for their annual plantation-themed formal and assuredly at some point in the evening, conversation would drift to boasting about one recent intramural meet or another and how well the Pierson Slaves did that week.

Not normal,


Wednesday, February 15, 2017


These pages...I am pretty sure I won't forget any time soon.

I was nervously drawing in a midnight waiting room, trying not to think.

A perhaps 5-year-old little boy, who had been resting beside me moments ago while being anxiously watched over by his father, who refused to sit but who would intermittently dab a tissue on his son's head, was now wailing like he was being tortured at death's door just feet from me in the room they soon lead him into.

I started crying. I had been crying while the kid was passed out next to me. You can't help but think. I wished there was something I could do to help.

The howling cries from within the room stopped eventually. Soon enough the boy came out, asleep in his father's arms, and they went home.

It felt like forever before they finally called me up. They said everything was ok.

I started crying again. They thought I didn't understand, and I had to explain that I did. It's ok. Good.

I can only think of one other time I've felt so overwhelmed.

They said it was stress.

Why should I be stressed?

Not normal,


Monday, February 13, 2017


I wanted to draw something nice and jerkin' for Black History Month, so here's Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats. It turns out Valerie was the first black character to be a regular on a Saturday morning animated show! That's actually pretty legit. While I've never actually seen the show or read the comic, one of my favorite movies of all time is the Josie live-action (not that I've seen many movies to be a good judge...). I watched it a bunch when I was little (we had it on VHS), and while drawing this I realized how important this movie actually was/is to me!

I've written a little bit about this before, but stories about guys and adults have never really resonated with me, and while drawing this, I realized that seeing this movie so early on was instrumental in my tendency to sympathize with female characters more than males.

I guess part of it was cuz the alternative was like DBZ and stuff, which always felt so much more apparently fictitious, whereas stories about females always seemed just a bit more plausible and that victories there tended to feel more "earned." One of my other all-time favorite movies is "You've Got Mail," haha, so I guess it's the romantic aspects they always shoehorn into female stories that get me.

The biggest female characters to me were Luann from the newspaper comic, and Misty from Pokemon, who combined with the general "Girl Power" movement (haha!) of the 90s to nurture my affinity for female protagonists. I enjoyed the stories overall just fine, but gravitated toward the "uncertain" of female-centric narrative (since male-centric stuff tends to be more "certain"--that is, it's more about "How will I prevail?" as opposed to "Will I prevail? If so, how?"), similar to stories about younger protagonists. Obviously, the hero tends to win in western fiction anyway, but you get the idea. With females (and kids), it always feels like more of an uphill battle, whereas guys tend to start at least partway up the hill.

Anyway, I loved the Josie movie because I remember how funny it was. It wasn't until college when it occurred to me it was a satire on marketing and pop culture! When I was a kid it was just a funny, charming movie with a sweet soundtrack! We started talking about movies one day in the common room, and then Phil mentioned about how underrated the movie was for its great social commentary, and I was like, "haha, yeah," and internally I'm like, "...Heyyyy....yeahhh..."

This piece actually started as a study of a guy from one of the civil rights documentaries I've been listening to lately, as I wanted to draw something for Black History Month, but then I thought it would be important to draw a female. Thinking back to the Women's March, I thought of Josie and the Pussycats, which had a black character, perfect! As a tie-in to their 70s roots I wanted to make the background kinda psychadelic-y, so I did a riff on one of their background stills from the show's theme song.

Bonus early version before I realized it was looking a bit off, and I even forgot they all have "long tails" in addition to their "ears for hats." Anyway, I love this movie and still continue to mock myself when I feel depressed by asking, "who's a rock star?" though I'll sometimes change it to some shade of "who's a great artist?" Haha. Idiot.

Not normal,