Tag Archives: storytelling

I just reheated the leftovers from last year’s Black friday.


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November 28, 2014 · 5:03 pm

Work in Progress

Orange-PylonThis pylon is going to be here for a long time, because I’ve only just started working on my first children’s book. Did you know that? I suppose I should have made some formal kind of announcement.

ANNOUNCEMENT: I’ve written a children’s book that’s going to be published by Christy Ottaviano Books, an imprint of Henry Holt, some time in 2015.

So yeah, that’s out of the way. I’m illustrating it, too, and I couldn’t be more excited to be doing it. It’s been fun working with Christy so far, even though we’re still in the early stages of nailing down the final product (Christy said “cartoonists are usually good with deadlines,” but I’m wondering if that’s an observation that’s not shared by all in the industry). It doesn’t sound like a huge step up – it’s a 32-page picture book – but it’s definitely a major transition from small black-and-white spot drawings to full pages in color. And at the end of the book the reader can’t say “I don’t get it,” like some people do when they read my cartoons… come on, nobody does that, do they?

I don’t want to say what the book is about, but I wanted to show a teaser of the first part of the process: writing, editing, sketching, rough layouts. There’s also a fair amount of coffee built into each step, but you already know what that looks like.

photo 1Even within the framework of a standard picture book, there are different layout options that are available, depending on what you want to do with the story. You can’t just add or subtract a few pages at the end. So that’s the first step. click here to see more pics


Filed under Children's book

World Series recap

I have a bunch of fellow Red Sox fan friends, all Massachusetts residents at one time or another who now live in or around NYC, and we kept a lively group text message thread open throughout the entire postseason. We are all expert analysts, naturally, and if we were allowed to manage the games there would never have been any incorrect substitutions and especially no lame national anthem singers. Also, Haffenreffer would be sold at Fenway Park, Lou Reed would have been allowed to pinch hit for Stephen Drew, and something about Color Me Badd. Below is a more or less random sampling of out-of-context texts from the six games of the World Series. I think if you read them through it’s essentially a perfect narrative of what transpired in each of the six games. I don’t even know why we need coverage from places like ESPN anymore.


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A job only an artist could love

The last decade has not been a kind one for illustrators who prefer hand drawing. With the obvious exception of New Yorker covers, illustrations in print and digital media have often been pushed out in favor of infographics, photographs, or various things you could just put under the category of Things That Are Not Illustrations.

The world of criminal justice still needs artists, though. We’ve still got to have people who can quickly render a mugshot of a suspect or sketch out a courtroom scene. This has always been fascinating to me: artists doing the work of the law. I don’t imagine the 21st century artistic temperament being a great fit for this field. I mean, who are the people who are drawn to doing this kind of art for a living? (I used to draw on gravestones for a living, so I can ask these questions.) I look forward to news coverage of courtroom events because it’s the one time when we get to see real live art, and it’s not always pretty. Have you ever looked at courtroom art? There is a good sampling here. Some is great and some is outright terrible. A lot of it is what I’d call “fittingly uncomfortable.”


Once, in my college newspaper, I used a real police sketch in a cartoon. The face of this breaker-and-enterer was photocopied and plastered all over campus, so it was instantly recognizable to everybody. I had him breaking and entering into my cartoon panel. I probably didn’t have any other good ideas that week. >

I’ve tried a few times to publish a cartoon that captures the awkwardness and/or absurdity of an artist in the courtroom. There’s this one from a few years ago, which is kinda stupid (and is too similar to this one which I already had published and which I like a whole lot better):

hold pose court artist

And more recently this, which misses the mark:

long trial court sketch artist bored

But in the cartoon for for this week’s issue I was more on target, although you can see that my original caption was different. The Zimmerman verdict had been handed down the week that I was drawing this, and the experience of people trying to make sense of the trial helped give me the language for the caption that seemed more appropriate.




So this is the one that finally made the cut. And in case you’re wondering, yes: the pineapple is currently in the witness protection program.

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Filed under Cartoons, Graphic storytelling, New yorker

And… scene

Celebrities have it all backwards. They want their faces to be instantly recognizable icons, plastered all over every billboard and TV screen. It works for a while, of course. But then your fame peaks, you start taking yourself really seriously, you go all crazy and join a cult and start dancing on Oprah’s couch, and before you know it you’re the punch line to an entire South Park episode. There is a better way: you feature the back of your head instead, only for a split second. This is the way I have chosen.

Okay, I didn’t really choose it. The editors at The Good Wife decided to insert me into their Season Three premiere this way. The scene that I was fake-graphic recording in was mostly eliminated from the final cut, but my second-best asset (I’m counting right shoulder blade first, back of head second) was allowed to remain in the scene. The drawing I did for Eli’s brainstorming meeting also made a brief appearance (below). I was disappointed at first, but you know what? I have a hunch that that’s why people are raving about the show: subliminal advertising works, and so does subliminal acting. Yes, Julianna Margulies is pretty, and Chris Noth is hunky, and Alan Cumming’s Eli is enjoyably pompous, but I’m pretty sure that it’s the subconscious everyman appeal of my nondescript neck that is what’s entering into our TV-watching nation’s subconscious and making the show irresistible. The folks at The Good Wife know what they’re doing, and now you know their secret (you’re welcome).

And what’s good for the show is good for me. Because of the brevity of my appearance, I’ve still got a healthy 14 minutes and 59 seconds of fame left. And that’s not including Vanity Fair‘s reportedly featuring the back of my head on the cover of their October issue.


Filed under events, Television, Uncategorized

Take: One

In addition to cartooning and designing heavy metal logos, my ‘other’ day job is graphic recording, which is the practice of live mural-sized note-taking, usually at business meetings. People talk, and we draw what they’re talking about. And now, through the magic of TV, this practice is coming to … TV! Or, at least, I think it is.

Last week I was at CBS’ television studios in Greenpoint, filming a graphic recording sequence for the upcoming season of  The Good Wife. It was the same thing as we do in real life – people talk, and I drew what they were talking about. The only difference was that this time it was actors, so I was either really drawing a fake conversation, or I was fake drawing a real conversation, or I was fake drawing a fake conversation which was actually improvised according to a real script. I’m not really sure. But when the director looked at the clips, it was determined that I wasn’t really acting, which is a relief – otherwise, I would have been paid millions of dollars. Click here to read full post

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Filed under events, Graphic storytelling, Television

Steam Powered Drawing

At last night’s Steam Powered Hour at the Jalopy Theatre in Brooklyn, I had the privilege of joining a great Halloween-themed multimedia event: horror/suspense writer Jack Ketchum read one of his stories, and I did a live illustration for it, along with illustrator Natalie Ascencios. Kris Gruen and the Bowman sisters accompanied on music. Here’s a little teaser montage for the second of Jack’s stories, with drawing by Felipe Gallindo, Matthew Diffee, and R. Sikoryak, and music by Jacob Tilove, Rick Snell, Bridget Kearney, and the Party People:

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Filed under events, Graphic storytelling