Saturday, March 31, 2007

Enlil and Sumerian priests

We're into the Sumerian mythos, with Enlil, the air and war god. Also some priests sacrifice a sheep.

This one is all in ballpoint rather than sharpie, if anyone's keeping track.

Text reads: "I want pants!"

Friday, March 30, 2007


Picture of valkyries on winged horses collecting the slain. If you squint you can see one of the horses, I think.

Text reads: "Neither of us wants me to clean your butt, and yet...."

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Earth Men vs. the Earth Spider

Thrym, Tyr, Uller

Thrym is god of frost giants; Tyr is god of war and law; Uller is god of hunting, archery, and winter. I think this one is actually upside-down compared to the original image....

I've now got seven of these left, so I will be done next Thursday....

Text reads:"If I put your leg in the armhole, the snowsuit won't fit."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Hi. Just finished a top-secret project for the GRUNION CLUB but is also available to you, the deserving public. New FULL COLOR comic zine "BOLONGA". Getting its name from an awesome misspelling of "Bologna" by one of my clay animation students, BOLONGA is 12 pages of shocking color comical madness!

Brought to you by alcohol-based magic markers! EL MARKO!

It's $2 (unoited st8s). Contact me if you want it & you're from some other nice place.

Thor fights Jormungundr

Jormungundr is a giant serpent. This is probably the best one of the series (for whatever that's worth.)

Text reads: "'Daddy' can be used to call Daddy."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sif, Surtur, Thor

Sif is goddess of excellence and skill in battle; Surtur is lord of the fire giants; Thor's the god of thunder, of course

Text reads:"The moon is stuck."

Monday, March 26, 2007

"Is That a Nyarlathhotep in your pocket, or are you just something unspeakable?"

Here's my latest Lovecraft drawing. The text here is: "A terrible pilgrimage to seek the nighted throne of the demon Azathoth."

Loki, Thor and the Norns

A picture of Loki taunting Thor, and another of the Norns, or fates. I think I used ballpoint pen on this to get the value range....

Text reads: "No help! I'll slide down on my butt!"

Rough Cuts

I couldn't think of anything better then real mutilated soldiers to build my fantastic characters on top of for this war scene. While placeholder images that will have many layers worked over, these help me construct a realistic dimension into my characters and creatures.

sub heavy

This was drawn for the flyer of a friend of a friend's 'sub heavy' night. He asked for a bass bin and an ACME anvil to be incorporated in it.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Hel and Loki

Hel's the Goddess of Death; Loki is god of mischief, strife and fire

Text reads:"Sometimes you trust me to hold Thomas."

Thomas is, of course, the well-known sentient train.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Frigga and Heimdall

Frigga is Odin's wife and goddess of the atmosphere; Heimdall guards the Bifrost Bridge that leads to Asgard (if you follow Thor comics, of course, you're up on all this already.)

Text reads: "Trucks and trains! and sometimes butterflies."

Friday, March 23, 2007

Monsters. Just monsters.

I got rearended, car totaled, last Friday. I've been slow to start working again. My shoulder is killing me. I did manage these, though.


Freya is the goddess of love and fertility.

Text reads: "If I'm happier when I have a truck, why shouldn't you be?"

Thursday, March 22, 2007

This cannon runs on black magic

Here's a full view of the work in progress and a detail view of the cannon monster I mentioned earlier. The cannon nose is untouched, still tinkering the layers for that part.

This image is meant to be shown as some kind of glorified historical document of a famous battle from this fantasy world. And I'm always obsessed with the small details in things so a bit of back story to this image. The spider like cannon creature in the bottom left, look at the detail version and you'll see a dark sort of kinetic energy oozing out of it. If animated it would appear almost electric, jittering around the surface of the cannon creature like living liquid. That is the black magic of the Magicians. They're a cult of sorcerers who have a large role in this fantasy world. In the Land of the Moth this black liquid is sold as an illegal substance that when splashed on something, brings it to derranged life.

Some of the imagery used in the legs of the cannon creature were fragments of animal skulls and the walls of caves.


Frey is god of sunshine and the elves.

Text reads: "I guess you just never had a chance to be selfish before."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Balder and the Fenris Wolf

Balder is the god of beauty (or "charisma" as they say in D&D); the Fenris Wolf will eventually eat the sun.

No doubt to everyone's relief, I've only got about two weeks of these to go....

Text reads: "If *Daddy* makes a mess, *you* don't have to apologize."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Sleipner is Odin's eight-legged steed. He's alone and riding through space in silhouette with Odin on him here. This one was one of the most difficult I did, for some reason. I drew it like four times or something. I knew it so well by the time I was done that I drew the final version without looking at the original image, which was a first. I think this is also done in ballpoint pen rather than sharpie.

Text reads: "Will you recognize it as a bathroom?"

Don't say mother scratcher, mother scratcher!

Monday, March 19, 2007

more Ghosts, Dogs & Kings

This is Xylenoid 99.

This is Sun Rizzle.

This is Suite Poteeto

This is the IFO Poly Glot Glot (identified flying object)

This is Banne Anne Uh.

This is Noble Circle 7.

This is Beeborboob.

Here is some spray-paint i found at an estate sale the other day. I'm quite pleased with the can of legendary "Icy Grape", also the dopeness of the blue de Bois can's design can't be denied.

We watched the 1991 WWF Survivor Series last night. The late 80s & early 90s are a weird period of time. I remember them REALLY clearly. Neon & mullets. The future. Randy Macho Man Savage is an amazing person.

Winged Bulldog

A no-purpose photoshop doodle.

I Pity the Cthulhu

More Lovecraft drawings:

The text for this one reads: "Castle by pool or river --reflection fixed thro centuries -- castle destroyed, reflection lives on to avenge destroyers weirdly."

The text for this one reads: "Quotation: '...a defunct nightmare, which hard perished in the midst of its wickedness, and left its flabby corpse on the breast of the tormented one, to be gotten rid of as it might.' -- Hawthorne"

This one's actually drawn over a page describing how to evaluate websites; you can see some of that text peaking through....

And here's another illustration I did for the Flaming Fire website. My significant other thinks it looks kind of like a Tibetan cloud-dragon. My friend Bert was less taken with it; he said it looked like stationary that would be sold at a community art fair. Who is right? You decide....

Norse Mythos

We're into the Norse Gods, starting with Odin here.

Text says: "You can't pick that up because you're standing in it."

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Bits O Blix

Here's a small cropping from the in progress digital collage I posted awhile back. This is a rather wretched looking thing on wheels being pushed by another odd character, which is out of view. This area probably consists of around 30 individual layers. I spent most of tonight working on another section involving a large cannon with spider legs. It's going to be a very strange image. This area is still in progress and needs a bit of work but the sculpted elements and contrast is there as I want it.

Gruumsh, Sekolah, Laogzed

Gruumsh is the one-eyed, Sauron-rip-off, god of orcs; Sekolah is god of the sahuagin (whatever they are) and appers as a giant shark, here attacking a squid; Laogzed is the "disgusting" god of troglodytes, whose "appearance suggests both toad and lizard."

Text reads: "Your mother doesn't understand about the magnets."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Hoisted By My Own PC

Yet another non-comics-related post to clutter the blog. Since I'm what passes for a politically correct fascist on this blog, I thought you all (especially David and Robert) might get a kick out of seeing a feminist sneer at me.

Here's the link (You'll need to scroll a bit to find the relevant letter):

If you're also interested in reading the essay in question, it's online here:

Packaged in Black

Here's another old essay of mine; a review of Johnny Cash which is the first thing I wrote for the Reader. (This is a somewhat longer and slightly different version than the one they published.)

Packaged in Black

I don’t know if it was so much [Johnny Cash’s] music per se that drew me to him; it was more his overall persona….
—Rick Rubin, Interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air, February 2004

Unearthed, the five-CD collection of outtakes and unreleased material from Johnny Cash’s last 10 years with American Recordings, comes in a box as black and stark as Cash’s tormented soul. The sleeves are made of CD-scratching cardboard, as rough and uncompromising as Cash’s famously raised middle finger. The shrink wrap is tough and tenacious, as tough and tenacious as….

Well, you get the idea. Cash is a serious artist and it takes a virile, forward-looking, serious company like American to provide his music with the extremes of over-packaging it deserves. Old, stodgy labels like Columbia and Mercury hadn’t known what to do with a complex iconoclast like Cash — it took Rick Rubin, American’s founder, to see the greatness in Cash and act on it. The liner notes to Unearthed gleefully quote Nick Tosches, who claimed that “Johnny Cash at 61 was history, an ageing, evanescent country music archetype gathering dust in a forgotten basement corner of the cultural dime museum.” It wasn’t until Cash’s first 1994 album on American that the singer was granted “the imprimatur of ageless cool.”
Or so the story goes. Johnny Cash’s career was indeed in a slump in the eighties and early ‘90s — enough of a slump that he thought he might cease recording altogether. But he was hardly as irrelevant as Tosches and Rubin make him out to be. In fact, in 1993, the year before his first American release, Cash made a much promoted and discussed appearance on the final track of U2’s Zooropa. Rubin didn’t have to be a genius to figure out that there was an audience for Johnny Cash’s work — all he had to do was read the papers.

Nonetheless, American has spilled a lot of ink insisting that Cash’s career would have been over without Rick Rubin. The point of this strategy seems to be to make Cash and American go together like ham and eggs, or music-industry and slimeball. Usually a label promotes the artist, but with Cash and American, something like the opposite has occurred. Cash’s first album with the company was actually named American Recordings (as Cash quipped on one of his final tours, “the album American Recordings on the American Recordings label, recorded right here in America). His other albums also give the American name unusual prominence and, continuing the trend, the back of Unearthed features the labels’ upside-down flag symbol alone on a black background. Little wonder, then, that Unearthed’s liner notes exclaim that Cash’s first album with American was “as stark, dark, and elemental as the stunning cover photo,” as if it’s some sort of compliment to Cash to have his work compared to a publicity shoot. Still, there’s a certain logic here: if the label is as important as the artist, then it makes sense that the packaging is as important as the music.

For this particular promotional strategy, the blame must rest with Rubin himself, who not only signed Cash, but also produced each of his albums. Rubin was already quite well-known before his work with Cash, in large part because he had worked on a number of landmark rap and metal albums: most notably the classic early records of L. L. Cool J, the Beastie Boys, and Slayer. But Rubin’s notoriety was also a function of assiduous self-promotion. With the Beastie Boys, in particular, Rubin pushed himself forward with unusual enthusiasm, touring with the group, appearing in videos, and adopting the rap moniker DJ Double R. According to The Vibe History of Hip Hop, Rubin considered himself a member of the band. If he believed his own hype, however, the Beastie Boys did not, and when they left his then-label Def Jam, they left Rubin behind as well.

As far as I know, Rubin has never appeared on stage with Cash, but he hasn’t exactly retired into the background either. Unearthed is presented as a collaboration between the two men, who are portrayed as something very close to equal artists. “This is the story of what happened when the man with the beard [Rubin] met the Man in Black,” the liner notes intone. Their encounter is then described in the portentous language of trashy romance novels — Cash’s former manager is quoted as telling Rubin ‘You could see the sparks flying between you two. There was such an immediate, powerful connection,” to which Rubin adds “It felt like we connected on some level other than talk.” Cash’s recollection is a bit more tongue-in-cheek. “You know, I’d dealt with the long-haired element before, and it didn’t bother me at all. I find great beauty in men with perfectly trained beards and groomed faces — or grooved faces, or whatever it is.”

Cash was intimately involved in the production of the box set before his death last September, and he’s clearly both grateful to Rubin and willing to share the spotlight with him. And there is no doubt that Rubin did revitalize Cash’s career, basically by marketing Cash the way he had marketed rap and metal acts — that is, by making Cash a dangerous outsider, a loner, an outlaw. Gone was the Johnny Cash whose biggest hits had been jokey novelty records like “A Boy Named Sue” and “One Piece at a Time”. In his place was, as the notes put it, “a dark troubadour with a troubled past who had sinned and been redeemed.” The first song on the first American release, “Delia’s Gone,” was a particularly vicious murder ballad — the video featured Cash killing model Kate Moss. Ten years before, “the dark troubadour” had appeared in a video for his song “Chicken in Black” wearing a blue-and-yellow mock-superman suit.

Obviously, Rubin didn’t invent the “dangerous loner” image for Cash, who had been singing about shooting people since the ‘50s. The American publicity merely emphasized this aspect of his persona with stark, moody, black-and-white album art and stripped-down production — especially on the first release, which featured Cash alone and unaccompanied for the first time in his career. Whatever the publicity material said, of course, Cash continued to record goofy stuff alongside the doom-and-gloom numbers. “The Man Who Couldn’t Cry” from American Recordings, “Mean-Eyed Cat” from Unchained, and, Cash’s heavenly duet with Merle Haggard on Solitary Man’s “I’m Leavin’ Now” are all glorious examples of Cash’s lighter side — wise, witty, and very funny. None of these cuts is represented on Unearthed’s fifth disc, a “Best of American” compilation which is tilted heavily towards his more solemn numbers — “Delia’s Gone,” “Hurt,” “I Hung My Head,” and the really annoying “Bird on a Wire” (Leonard Cohen’s clumsy ramblings do not benefit from Cash’s gravitas: the set also includes a fully orchestrated and even more lugubrious version.) Still, the other Unearthed discs contain a fair share of lighter material, including a jovial discussion of substance abuse in “Chattanooga Sugar Babe” and the unaccompanied “Two-Timin’ Mama,” perhaps the one American cut that most clearly evokes Cash’s Sun sides.

So all well and good: Cash is doing what Cash does, and Rubin has realized that young hipsters think it’s cooler to kill people than to laugh -- or, perhaps more charitably to everyone, Rubin simply had the vision to give Cash a marketing budget, something the singer had been denied for years. Rubin, however, has not been satisfied with merely contributing to Cash’s commercial Renaissance. Instead, Unearthed’s liner notes insist that Cash’s resurgence has been aesthetic as well as critical. In explaining why he approached Cash, for example, Rubin says “I’d been thinking about who was really great but not making really great records…and Johnny was the first and the greatest who came to mind…Someone…who didn’t seem inspired to be doing his best work right now.” Rubin also says that his biggest challenge with Cash was getting the singer to see each recording date as special, rather than as just another album. The implication of all this, of course, is that the material on Mercury which Cash recorded in the early ‘90s was a series of prefabricated knock-offs.

Au contraire. The Mercury material is great — not every cut, of course, but the hit-to-miss ration isn’t significantly worse than on the American albums. At Mercury, Cash mostly worked with producer Jack Clement— a longtime friend — and he sounds relaxed and inventive. Indeed, his best material on Mercury is as good as anything he’s ever done. The duet-heavy Water From the Wells of Home from 1988 is perhaps the stand-out, featuring the lovely “Where Did We Go Right” with his wife, June Carter Cash; and the tough, vindictive “This Old Wheel” with Hank Williams Jr. Best of all, though, is the utterly bizarre “Beans for Breakfast” from 1991’s Mystery of Life, in which Cash explains that “the house burned down from the fire that I built in my closet by mistake after taking all those pills, but I got out safe in my Duckhead overalls.” Significantly, Cash never said that his work with Mercury was slick studio product: he only said, with great frustration, that the label wouldn’t promote it.

In this context, the most impressive thing about Unearthed is not how distinctive the American recordings are, but rather how much of a piece they seem with the rest of Cash’s oeuvre. For the truth is that each of the much-ballyhooed strengths of the American years — the surprising song selection, the challenging duet partners, the varied settings, and even the reinvention of Cash’s image — have all been typical of Cash’s career throughout. This is a man, after all, who started out as a rockabilly performer in the Elvis/Carl Perkins mode, appeared at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964, was associated with the Outlaw country movement in the ‘70s, showed up on Emmylou Harris’ seminal Roses in the Snow album in 1980, and had his last hit record with the Highwaymen supergroup in 1985. Along the way, he recorded songs by everyone from Ray Charles to Bob Dylan to Kris Kristofferson to Bruce Springsteen to the Rolling Stones, hosted an eclectic television show, and released protest songs, concept albums, and a novel.

Cash, in other words, was always experimenting, and it is this aspect of his work that Unearthed puts center stage. It’s an odds and sods collection, so not everything works — a couple of tracks with a mediocre blues band are a mess; Joe Strummer sounds badly outclassed when he sings with Cash on Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”; the version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” with organ is cluttered rather than sweeping; and I’m forced to admit that Cash’s austere renditions of hymns on disk four grow wearisome on repeated listening. That leaves, however, quite a lot of impressive music. The first disc in particular shows what a great idea it was for Cash to record alone and unaccompanied — an idea the singer had had some time ago but had been unable to sell until Rubin came along. All the interpretations are lovely: Billy Joe Shaver’s wistfully hopeful “Old Chunk of Coal,” and Cash’s own love letter to his wife, “Flesh and Blood,” are particularly fine. On the rest of the set, the duet with June is, as always, a high point; Cash’s baroque cover of his friend Neil Young’s “Pocahontas” (with mellotron) is also pretty great. Introducing Cash to Nick Cave was an obvious move, but it works wonderfully; Cave adds a touch of out-of-place gothic glee to “Get Along Home Cindy” which almost upstages the master. My absolute favorite track, though, is Cash’s short, sweet version of “You Are My Sunshine.” The song is a fusty piece of schmaltz which I’ve never liked very much, but Cash’s bleak quaver turns it from a greeting card into an agony of grief and loss.

Certainly Cash knew about grief and loss. This is the aspect of his work which — with his long illness, the death of his wife last May, and the success of the single and especially the video for “Hurt” — has been most in the news for the past couple of years. To me, though, the fact that Cash was able to change, to learn, and to take risks with his life and art for more than forty years is far from sad. One of those risks was to record with Rick Rubin, who led him to new songs, new people, new audiences, and new approaches to recording. Rubin, Cash himself, and the public all benefited from their collaboration. But I have no doubt that if Cash had not had the opportunity to take that particular chance, he would have taken another one. Even had the Man in Black never met the man with the beard, Cash’s story would still be one of the happiest in American music.

Semuanya and Vaprak

Semuanya is the "unemotional and amoral reptilian ideal." He's also the god of lizard men. Vaprak ("the Destroyer") is not a cleanser, but rather the god of ogres and trolls.

Text reads: "Do you like the pictures because you know it's you, or because you don't?"

Friday, March 16, 2007

Kurtulmak and Blipdoolpoolp

You can really tell some gamer made these names up.

Kurtulmak is the god of kobolds; he's shown just standing there and also teaching kobolds how to attack adventurers. Blipdoolpoolp is the "Sea mother"; she's god of the Kuo-Toa, and featured in the module...."Shrine of the Kuo-Toa." I strongly suspect she's based on Cthulhu; in any case, my version looks sort of Cthulhuesque (if I can say that without going insane....)

Text reads: "I wondered why you said that until I heard myself say it."

The Witch Heart

So I've got this idea floating in my head that I need to sketch out. I was fantasizing about a giant dead witch in a forest. Her large body being the result of some odd spell gone wrong. But for whatever reason, she falls dead in the middle of this dark forest. After years go by animals eat her remains and drag her bones into all directions of the forest, pieces of her so large that they become sanctuaries for the creatures of the forest. Her huge skull, the size of a house, with the tall pointed black hat still stuck to her head, attached because of the knotted black hair and the glue like reaction of her putrid remains to the hat. The head would likely be lived in by other witches of more regular size, scrapping the insides of the skull of its nasty remains for strange brews and spells. Some of the large broken bones of the giant witch would contain dark magic that would ooze out in the hidden places they were left by hungry animals. But as all of the witch is consumed, rotted out, dragged away and used for potions, the heart remains. The giant black heart of the dead witch stays where it fell, beating noisily in a spot held sacred by the animals of the forest. For in this heart a factory inside spews forth a never ending stream of monsters that fill the forest with glowing eyes and sharpened teeth.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Yeenoghu, Garl Glittergold, Maglubiyet

yeenoghu is the demon prince of gnolls; Garl Glittergold is the god of gnomes, Maglubiyet is the god of goblins.

This is one of my favorites in the series, I think.

Text reads: "You always lose the toy you love."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Spartanizing 300

Several weeks ago I got into a discussion about the fascist/militarist tendencies in 300 on the TCJ forum. Now, with the film's opening, the discussion restarted with many of the same things being said once again. Nevertheless, I was tempted to jump back in but was able to resist until someone posted this interesting article about the historical distortions in the film. The following paragraph inspired me to go do a little Photoshop variation of a 300 movie poster:

it is strongly implied Xerxes is homosexual which, in the moral universe of 300 qualifies him for special freakhood. This is ironic given that pederasty was an obligatory part of a Spartan's education. This was a frequent target of Athenian comedy, wherein the verb "to Spartanize" meant "to bugger."

I'm not sure if it's subversive or merely pubescent (or both?), but I had fun doing it.


I'm trying a new series of cards, not limited by the Wrestling theme as in my Ultimeat Wrestlers cards from last spring. These are called GHOSTS, DOGS & KINGS & it will be just tons of crazy characters from the newly expanding worlds of Pipu & Go! Whether or not the characters will appear in the new GO! or the new Pipus is debatable, but they fall into the eccentric variety of weirdos as will begin to pile high into the sky. The general idea is the tribalization or naturalization of atomic flux mutant culture in a world based on post-apocalyptic movies & 8-bit video games.

This guy is Ziggy Pop Tune, sporting the acid colored coon-skin cap favored by the youth of the Land of Dogs, the traditional "bone of dead animal" through the nose & drinking endless gallons of ZAP! KOLA, which contains magic crypto-caffeine & hyper-nyper berry extract. It is also the first green cola ever manufactured. For fun, Ziggy Pop Tune creates enormous collages out of fake fur.

This guy is Mr. Swizzard, former host of "Mr. Swizzard's World" which used to broadcast from moon-base 8 before the magnetic plume. Today, Mr. Swizzard's best friend is Jasper Wine & his radio, from which he curates a vast & varied audio showcase on the built-in tape machine. When Mr. Swizzard is really on his game, he concentrates so hard that his ghost begins to escape.

The whole idea of Ghosts, Dogs & Kings came to me while thinking about where our culture is at today. There are the ghosts of the past, which are always with us, but we're not even sure if they are real. They haunt our every move. There are the dogs of the moment: smiling servants & guardians of whoever happens to master them. Or not, sometimes they go feral. Either way, they spend most of their time smelling each other's bottoms & peeing on the perimeter. Lastly there are the kings, but they have no people & no kingdom & who the hell are they anyhow? They rise above the today & enter become the living eternal.

Vote for me, please!

My Cuisinart Deco-dealie just got approved. Thanks, guys!

My Submission