Monday, March 9, 2009

Strange Collaborations

Most strange, perhaps, in the sense that I rarely collaborate.
Having earned a living as an illustrator and cartoonist for the past twenty-plus years, I have almost always shied way from melding my talents and sensibilities with those of other artists. A few early, less-than-satisfactory experiences led to this condition, but I’ve since come around and have learned just how illuminating the right mixing of diverse styles can be. Below are a few examples of collaborative undertakings that have produced rewarding results, even when they didn’t come to their desired fruition. See many of the original art pieces presented here, available for purchase at modest prices, now at Shop, J.W.E. You can also find them at Comic Art Collective, along with much more of my original art.

The Adventures of Whitecop: P.C. Misogynist

The following six pages (cropped to fit on scanner) make up the entirety of a cartoon story I created with Chelsea Cain, author of The New York Times bestselling thrillers Heartsick and Sweetheart. A humorous romp, light on its carnality, but filled with a high octane sense of its own inherent silliness, it was commissioned for the first edition of Dirty Stories, Fantagraphics Book’s Eros-imprinted anthology of sex-themed comics, published in 1997 and edited by Eric Reynolds. My memory fails me when I try to recall who suggested the collaboration – Chelsea, I, or Eric – but it all went very smoothly and is a product of no regret, a feeling I know is mutual. As Chelsea recently claimed “I’m proud of my porn.” Me too! I do still owe her lunch though, something she hasn’t forgotten all the years since. Chelsea? Give me a day’s notice and that meal is yours, next time you’re in Seattle.
Interested in owning these half dozen pages of historical comics-lit import? A fan of the best thriller writer going? Go to Shop, J.W.E. now, where you’ll find them, priced modestly, perfect for framing in the den, or your bondage playpen – you decide – after all, you’re the consenting adult.

Triangle Man Kicked My Ass

This lone preliminary drawing, penciled by myself and hastily inked with a Sharpie by titanic cartoonist Al Columbia, was the gestation of a collaborative story, first formulated in 1996, an idea that never got off the ground. Al, creator of the much-revered Biologic Show, and other masterful comic works, wanted to do something atypical to both of us and I suggested that a Jack Kirby-inspired superhero comic might fit the bill. This drawing offers just a little of what might have been, showcasing my absurd sensibility, entwined with Al’s seemingly endless delight in physical mutilation and gallows humor. It would have been the graphic novel to end all graphic novels. If only! I have to wonder if Al even remembers this drawing, or the conversation that led to the proposed project.
This rare piece of conceptual art is now available for purchase at Shop, J.W.E.

It’s Gretch n’ Archie!

“Just five panels of erotic torture.” That’s what Chelsea Cain suggested, just last week, in a joking e-mail concerning Gretchen Lowell and Archie Sheridan, the torturing/tortured stars of her best-selling Heartsick and Sweetheart, the first two components of her thriller trilogy from St. Martin’s, to be concluded this fall with Evil At Heart. She was imagining a comic strip version of her gripping novels, one suitable for wrapping about a coffee mug. Having already prepared myself for the production of an upcoming series of daily strip parodies, I found an afternoon to indulge her fancy and came up with the following ode to her characters, as well as the tenuous existence of the daily newspaper strip. First is the actual finished art, salvaged from the art department of The Oregon Herald (wink, wink) followed by a printed version, on antiquated newsprint.
The original art is now available for purchase at Shop, J.W.E.

A Bad Case of Everything

Below are four stages of the development of a recently-created cover to A Bad Case of Everything, the debut album from North Dakotan psychedelic duo, The Lousy Tycoons. A unique collaboration between myself and illustrator/cartoonist Eric Reynolds (also chief of promotions at Fantagraphics and all-around vanguard of the alternative comics scene), it proved to be a project of instant alchemy, I providing the initial pencil sketch and Eric giving it his fine, lush embellishment, which I then colored on the computer and gave the full-blown treatment of my antiquating technique, resulting in the finished image, one that does a fairly good job of evoking the unhinged, acid-tinged rustic vibe so in evidence throughout the 35-minute record. Nice work, Eric – it was a blast!