Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Stuff of the Week: "Letraset"

When I was starting out in the business, Letraset books were the equivalent of the Sears Catalog for a graphic designer. Pages after pages of rub off type faces, borders, symbols and letrotone shades and textures. When I attended Graphic Careers for a year back in the early 80's I loved raiding their collection of old flaking rub off lettering. In this copy of the book (provided by the Art Store chain Hyatt's) there are a few places where the alphabet type display had been cut out and taped back in, so that it could be blown up on the "stat camera", and then "waxed" and "pasted up" on a "mechanical". I threw in that last part about the waxing and stuff because 80% of the words in this post are now obsolete since desktop publishing showed up in the mid to late eighties. But all of those no-doubt toxic smells still take me back.

Lauren Hill (29 of 30)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Early Work # 4

In third or fourth grade (I can't remember which) we were taught about the Civil War by our teacher, Mrs. Robinson (yes, THAT Mrs. Robinson), and as I recall it, every boy in the class immediately became obsessed with the topic. Not that we wanted to learn specifics about the history, really, we were more into the uniforms and drawing battle scenes. This was one of my contributions, showing that I was still years away from understanding how watercolors work. On the back is another abandoned drawing, which only got as far as the words "Civil War" and a drawing of a soldier's cap. I suspect this may have been one of the many times in my academic career that I used art as an extra credit measure to make up for my less than impressive grades.

Happy Birthday, Jeff Beck (24 of 30)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Stuff of the Week: "Dr. Zaius"

"Planet of the Apes" was huge when I was a kid, and I was the perfect age (7 years old for the first one) to ride the craze. The special effects were a touch cheesy even then, the social commentary went over my head, but me and my neighbors the DeMayos were there for almost every one (usually in a drive in as I recall) until the series ran out of steam. Roddy McDowell as Cornelius was my favorite, but Dr. Zaius was the ape that seemed to best represent the franchise, maybe because his look stood out from the other brunette apes. (Or maybe because I knew the actor from Bewitched) He was who I pictured when you said "Planet of the Apes." (Well, him and Nova) Years later, after I had kids, a tree fell in the back yard. I cut off the outer limbs, and we put an artificial pond in front of it. The bark fell off so that it was an inviting, smooth surface to sit on. And it somehow looked man-made without it's bark, like it was from a movie set. A movie like "Planet of the Apes." It reminded me of a place where the apes would come to hash out the problem of Bright Eyes, and I talked about the movie so incessantly to my kids (they hadn't seen it) that I rented it so they could see for themselves. It was so slow moving that I let them stop watching it even before Charlton Heston got captured, which seemed to be about an hour into it. The bad Tim Burton remake didn't help my cause any. Eventually a neighbor reported the fallen tree to the town, and they sent a letter making me remove it. A dispiriting end to a good memory. Perhaps it's better off being remembered for the musical version they did on "The Simpsons." But when they came out with this Dr. Zaius doll a several years back, I still couldn't resist his charms. On a side note, he seems to be playing air guitar here. Rock me, Dr. Zaius!

Johnny Cash (21 of 30)

Happy Birthday, Al Hirshfeld

Friday, June 18, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Barry Manilow

Early Work #3

Falling back on one the common themes of my early art (monsters, comic books, Mad magazine), here's a drawing of Dracula (adhering to the accepted Bela Lugosi model). I tend to be too lazy to get up and sharpen my pencil when drawing, but here's an example where that kind of worked in my favor. I'm guessing this is in the 4th grade range, maybe?

Janet Jackson as by Mark Kostabi (17 of 30)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Stuff of the Week: "Toy Story"

With the new "Toy Story 3" opening this Friday (and I can't wait), I reminded of the revelation that seeing the first "Toy Story" was fifteen years ago. First of all, I love animation, and was a big fan of the various Disney golden ages. But this was something different. Not just the technological leap it represented, but the story telling itself seemed to be taking a leap as well. It was knowing without being cynical. The scene that did it for me was when Buzz Lightyear tied to fly and ended up breaking off his arm. That shot pulling back from his face at the bottom of the stairs (helped along by Randy Newman's soundtrack) made me completely forget the technology on the screen: I was just completely there with Buzz, my heart breaking along with his. The story never dragged, the songs served the story and it was the first time my then three-year-old daughter didn't have to take a bathroom break during a movie. And then, there's the toy shown here, one of Sid's mutant toy creations. It was creepy and weird and I was so glad they had the nerve to include it in the movie. Good story telling isn't when everybody gets along and everyone is nice and pretty. Sometimes you need a big, creepy doll head attached to an erector set spider body to push it over the top.

U2 as by Pablo Picasso

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Early Work #2

Showing my Mad Magazine roots, here's a Mort Drucker style parody I did of "The Godfather" before Mad came out with theirs. Since it was 1972 and I was 11 years old, I put this together with help from a LIFE magazine article for reference pictures, and a scene by scene retelling of the movie by my older brother, who at 17 was old enough to see it. Clearly not grasping all the complexities of the story, and still thinking that Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman were the same person, I dove in with a ball point pen, undiluted watercolors and a typewriter, just like the pros did it. And if you compare it to the one that Mad Magazine eventually did, I think you'll see I gave them a run for their money: Spot-on likenesses, sense of humor and spelling.

Bruce Springsteen as by Thomas Hart Benton (10 of 30)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Stuff of the Week: "Weekly World News"

In recognition of noted gas bag Rush Limbaugh's fourth (!) wedding, here's what he was up to back in 1994. Harkening back to an age when space aliens and bat-boys graced the front cover regularly, the Weekly World News was guaranteed to draw my eye at the check out counter. They basked in the glory of their cheesiness, making no attempt to craft their cover photos into believability. And their bold headlines (each one earning it's own exclamation point!) were both ridiculous and yet somewhat appealing, giving it that sort of "Confidential" magazine vibe. The newspaper no longer exists, partially, I believe, because the other news outlets caught up to it and ate it's cheesy lunch. Change this to Obama shaking hands with an illegal alien and you have your Fox and Friends lead story.

Prince as by Gauguin (7 of 30)

Happy Birthday, Prince