Archive for the ‘folktales’ Category


September 23, 2011

Below are the completed pages for the HOPEVILLE story that published this week in the St Louis Riverfront Times.

Page 1

Page 2

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September 5, 2011

Below is the splash page to a new story for my upcoming book, FOLKTALES. It will also run in the Europe-based anthology STRAPAZIN.


June 20, 2011

Here are two new pages for the continuing story of the Second Class Citizen, who not only inhabited the pages of ABANDONED CARS, but will continue to do so in FOLKTALES. The Second Class Citizen stems from, and is inspired by, Dostoevsky’s NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND, a book that I first read in high school and has captivated me ever since. In a sense, my second class citizen is my response to Dostoevsky’s underground man, as I believe whole-heartedly that a Dostoevsky’s 19th Century underground man could easily find his counterpart in the 21st Century. Graphically, I’m shooting for a kind of CABINET OF DOCTOR CALIGARI eeriness and architectural distortion, coupled by a F.W.Murnau kind of expressionism. Also very influential to the look and pacing of Second Class Citizen is Henning Carlsen’s film adaptation of Knut Hamsun’s HUNGER.

BELLY GUNNER, continued

April 5, 2011

Below are a couple of the pages I recently finished for BELLY GUNNER – finally completed – a story that will be in the next issue of MOME, as well as in my next book of graphic short stories, FOLKTALES. This is my first attempt at writing and illustrating a war story – a genre I’ve wanted to tackle for a long time, but couldn’t quite figure out the best way to handle it. Because I’m deeply interested in the contrasts and similarities of generations of Americans, and because war has played such an intensive role in American culture – particularly in 20th/21st century American culture – I’ve wanted to capture some of that as an overarching theme throughout the collections of graphic short stories. Because of the glut of war stories out there, I felt hesitant to approach a war story until I watched Ken Burns’s “The War”, in which the story of Earl Burke, belly gunner on a B-17 during WW II captured my attention. I was so moved by his experience, I decided to recreate it as a graphic short story as exactly as I could. This also ties into my growing interest in the reinterpretation of stories – through folk and blues songs originating from newspaper articles, magazines, books, etc – that happened in “real-life”; how the topical or biographical fits into the greater American Mythological Drama. The trouble with war stories is that I think we’ve become desensitized to their impact as a result of their proliferation and the sensationalizing of them. What I’m specifically interested in is the human side of these stories: In the case of BELLY GUNNER, how it must have felt to be stuffed into the claustrophobically cramped quarters of a ball-turret at the age of nineteen with all hell breaking loose around you. At nineteen, I was in college. Death wasn’t real. I try to imagine how I would’ve handled the rigors of Earl Burke’s experience, and it leaves me awestruck and fascinated. Beyond that, and perhaps very much apart of it, is the generational differences – the general attitude of the WW II generation about “their” war, as opposed to the Vietnam generation’s attitude toward theirs. And in more practical terms, even the fact that Boeing designed and constructed a bomber that could withstand the abuses that the B-17 could: When you see the condition some of those planes were in when the returned to England, it’s amazing they stayed in the air.


December 2, 2010


November 11, 2010

Above is the splash page for a new section I’m working on for FOLKTALES, and will run, in part, as a feature story in the River front Times. The character from these “notes” is the same character whose ruminations were placed as vignettes in between the stories in ABANDONED CARS. I always planned to continue the character’s narrative in that same fashion into FOLKTALES and THE BELIEVERS (the 2nd and 3rd books in the trilogy of graphic short stories kicked off with ABANDONED CARS). The character has developed considerably, though: So much so that I’m considering taking his story and making it into a graphic novel in it’s own right. We’ll see where things go from here.


October 29, 2010

This is the splash page for a new story, “Belly Gunner” – a new graphic short story for FOLKTALES. It is a first for me on a couple of fronts: 1) It’s my first war story, and 2) it’s the first story that is entirely based on someone else’s true story: Earl Burke, who was a ball turret gunner on a B-17 during World War II. I was so moved by his story, that I merely told it – except for a little editing for the sake of brevity – as he told it in Ken Burns’ “The War”. You might say I’m directing it. Like many people, I’m fascinated with World War II for a multitude of reasons. I’m particularly amazed by the kind of bravery it took to do things like climb into a sperry ball beneath a B-17 – and extremely claustrophobic space to inhabit – and blaze away at German Messerschmitts from 20,000 feet without the cover of Allied fighter plane support. I try to imagine myself having to do something like that at nineteen years old, and it seems like a nightmare. FOLKTALES will include a few war stories. I’m very interested in the impact World War II and Vietnam had on American culture, and how both wars played integral roles in shaping two successive generations. Of course, there is no shortage of World War II stories, both in comics and other mediums, but I feel compelled to take a shot at my own versions. The trouble with the glut of war stories out there is that it’s easy to become desensitized to them. I’m most interested in the human side of war. What I liked so much about Burke’s story is just that. I hope I’m able to make it resonate.


August 9, 2010

…Well, maybe not a film exactly: I think of it more as an audio-visual experiment based on one of the new short stories meant for FOLKTALES, called the PASSENGER. You can see the original comic version in the spring issue of MOME. You might notice that in earlier posts, The PASSENGER has been adapted to a spoken-word “radio drama”. The below “film” is something of an adaptation of an adaptation – a collaborative piece put together by my partner-in-crime, Franklin Oros, and myself. All credits are indicated at the end of the short, so I won’t state them here. But, again, the principal idea here is to expand on character and story, increasing the amount of nuance and subtlety allowed for the reader/viewer/story-recipient to collect in order to create their own unique vision of the story. Ultimately, the idea is to give you a bunch of puzzle pieces, from which you create an imagined version of the story. Or, as Joey would put it: “Blah, blah, blah, blah….”

Here’s the leather coat illustration from the film. I drew it in my sketchbook and it made its way into the film:

And speaking of sketchbook drawings – on a completely unrelated topic – here’s a drawing of the 1963 Corvair that I almost bought this summer, if it hadn’t been for the wisdom of my close friend and fellow artist, Ron Laboray, who pointed out with extraordinary detail just what a pile of lousy crap it was (exhaust pluming into the cabin: A death trap, sadly, in more ways than one). I owe Ron my life, literally. But I’ve always been a Corvair fan, and this one was difficult for me to pass up (note the various haiku I wrote in homage to the loss!). Why do I always fall in love with such cars? This is the second time I tried to buy a corvair. The first time was when I was in my mid twenties. The car was 1967 Corvair with the funkiest automatic transmission system I’d ever seen. Similar problem, though: Exhaust leak into the cabin. Apparently a common problem with air-cooled engines (the Corvair’s engine was in the back, like a Volkswagon Bug; the Corvair had the distinction of being the first and last American car ever to try a rear-engine set-up.) PS: Thanks again, Ron, for saving my life.


July 29, 2010


Above is the radio drama adaptation of the graphic story “SPIKE” (see earlier posts in the FOLKTALES category for pages of the original story) – one of the new graphic stories meant for publication in my book, FOLKTALES. I intend FOLKTALES to be packaged with an accompanying CD, which will include audio elaborations on a selected group of ¬†stories from that volume (see earlier audio post in the FOLKTALES category, under the title PASSENGER). All of these audio experiments were produced in collaboration with Frank Oros. Rare indeed it is to find a collaborator who is so like-minded; I was extremely fortunate the day I met Frank. Also a special thanks to Andrea (“gee, honey…you look all done in”) Taylor, who supplied her wonderful voice and acting skills to both the ‘wife’ in the AMERICAN STANDARD AIR commercial, and the voice of the unnamed young hobo. Frank supplied the voice for the insane, older tramp, the announcer, and the AMERICAN STANDARD AIR jingle. I’m the NIGHTCRAWLER and the ‘husband’ in the commercial skit.

Be forewarned: There’s graphic violence, racist language, and other disturbing content in this radio drama.


June 30, 2010

Above is the second page for the short graphic story, THE WARRANT, meant for inclusion in the next book, FOLKTALES. I can’t remember the last time a single page for a graphic story took me so long to complete. It was very important to me to illustrate that ’06 Shelby Limited beautifully (as well as the engine) (I wanted the viewer to want to eat it, literally (crumple up the page and throw it in the mouth – in that way you want to consume someone with whom you’re in love or at least an ice cream cone on a very, very hot day), that it psyched me out for at least a month. I’ve never had that happen before. Whether I accomplished that, I don’t know. I hope it was worth the stress and procrastination. It is, if nothing else, an indication of the growing significance I put on every aspect and detail to a graphic short story. And, incidentally, those new mustangs aren’t only beautiful and powerful, they’re also fuel efficient (something like 30 miles per gallon – a new one for American power cars!).