Thursday, October 11, 2007

Lowest Common Denominator

The Best of LCD, The Art and Writing of WFMU-FM has arrived in bookstores. The always weird and wonderful WFMU is the country's premier freeform radio station, playing virtually everything audio and specializing in the most obscure underground music imaginable. If the sounds of Rodd Keith, Lucia Pamela and the Shaggs are music to your ears, you will find them all within the vaults of WFMU. Whether your groove is Exene, Esquerita or Esquivel, the little Jersey station is the heartbeat of a universe that remains hidden to the packaged pop of the 21st century.

Published by Princeton Architectural Press, the book features the best writing and artwork drawn from 25 strange and fascinating issues of this now defunct, sorely missed zine. The contributor list is a virtual who's who of underground and alternative artists like Charles Burns, Justin Green, Kaz, R. Sikoryak and Jim Woodring——heady company indeed. Also present are old friends Dan Clowes, Gary Lieb, Terry LaBan, Jay Lynch and Harvey Pekar. I'm honored to be part of this bunch, represented with my Rudy Vallee and Phil Spector bio-comics and the one-off "Neanderthal Nancy" shown below. Thanks to Rex Doane and Ken Freedman for originally bringing me into the fold and to Dave "the Spazz" Abramson for including me in the collection.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Toy Karma at Rotofugi

This past month has flown by for me as I've been fortunately swamped with various freelance work. So it's with some chagrin and more than a little cold sweat that I'm just getting around to posting about the incredible Toy Karma show at Rotofugi Gallery.

Lesson learned, always bring a camera! I wish I had recorded for myself the many amazing figures, paintings, and alien artists who had gathered for the evening. Instead, I've had to "depend on the kindness of strangers," for the images in this post. It was a real treat to meet husband and wife art partners Zakka and Rae Huo, whose good grace and fiery flash provided the photo below. That's me getting anxious about spies from Chaiyo trying to co-opt my Ultraman painting. Check out more of Rae's photo work here.

First on the scene (if not first in line for the exclusive toys) was the Omni-Monster himself, Geozilla, who snapped this terribly flattering shot of me struggling to keep my eyes open. No matter, it was the M-1go vinyl Matango pendant I was wearing that George was after. That's Julie in the background—she and Deborah are pretending they wouldn't be caught dead in the company of a man who considers a pink vinyl mushroom monster a fashion accessory.

The joint was packed, Jack. Whitney and Kirby are to be applauded for this historic event bringing the Urban Vinylists tail to toe with the Kaiju Kollectors. Security was necessary to monitor the legal occupancy for the cozy gallery space. Next photo is courtesy of Main Man Mark Nagata and gives a hint of the congestion during the opening. Shown au derrierre are, left to right, Ms Julie in hoops and ponytail, Princess Deborah (at least her platinum mane), Ms Denise and Ms Kathy. Respectable citizens all, hardly the types to cozy up to scaly denizens of the void except for the occasional slice of nigirizushi. You know, collectors often remark upon a piece of "tasty vinyl."

For more coverage, please check out Geozilla's Flickr page and Kirkland Jue's page on his Toybot blog. Thanks again to Rae, George, Mark and Kirkland for the offer of their photos!

I exhibited the original acrylic paintings for Better Homes and Robots, Tokyo Throwdown: Ultra Kaiju Daikessen, and Kaiju no Kamisama: Eiji Tsuburaya.

Also from the vaults were the "Turbo Ultraman" series of plastic figures that were made by a Hong Kong toymaker from my designs.

Mark is busy this week with his second show in as many months, the Beyond Ultraman exhibit at the Los Angeles Toy, Doll and Amusements Museum. Once things settle down for Mark we can start bugging him to get planning on Toy Karma 2: Invasion of Japan!

Monday, August 13, 2007

SDCC Late Breaking News

According to the official Uglydolls site, "Wedgehead understands you." So how come he wouldn't stop when I told him not to grab my butt? Thanks to Charlie for the photo.

Friday, August 10, 2007

New Newsarama News

This morning's blog auto-searchbot brings a pickup from a local Pioneer Press article by Michael Bonesteel that features Charlie and myself. The comics industry equivalent of Daily Variety, Newsarama has an excerpt from the Pioneer Press item and displays my Guitar Wolf piece. Thanks, Newsarama.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


This year's San Diego Comic-Con was my first in a long time--way too long! Everything was amplified beyond previous levels. More artists, more fans, more mileage within the convention center, than I've ever experienced before. It took almost as much time to navigate the convention center as the entire flight from Chicago to San Diego!

I was HQd at the Rolling Thunder booth through the extraordinary courtesy of Denise and Dave Dorman, for the debut of The Devil's Candy Store. Computer Art Pioneer Charlie Athanas, also a principal in TDCS and tireless Entrepreneur Esquire, helms the bridge and stays the course. "If anyone asks you..." "Concept Art!" we exclaim. We're all about Concept Art and we will rock your world. Me, I get to do Art Direction. I've known and worked with Charlie, Dave Dorman and Tom Baxa since back in the First days--and they still put up with me! I was thrilled to meet Devil-Folk Chris Moeller, John Van Fleet, Scott Hampton, Craig Elliott and Durwin Talon.

Here's the always gracious Olivia deBerardinis, our generation's Vargas. Once upon a time, I was art director at First Comics and we produced Olivia's earliest calendars. The pinup she painted of a tattooed yakuza maid for the Lone Wolf and Cub Collected Edition is still one of my favorites.

Charlie shops for Cool Rockets. "How much for the whole flotilla?"

Mark Nagata, kaiju comrade and fellow illustrator, at his booth, Max Toy Company. Mark turns out to be real person after years knowing him only as a disembodied voice on the phone! Mark introduced me to his lovely wife Anna, their son Max (who looks exactly like the company logo!), the legendary Mark Suggs, Justin Kovalsky, Mr. Ikeda Kiyoka and the whole Gargamel Gang. Thanks, Mark!

I had a special reunion with Nexus Main Man, Steve Rude, who I hadn't seen since Mezz was a pup. I'll try to get a photo of this historic congress; if not, look for it in the upcoming Nexus #100.

Thanks also to Randy Stradley at Dark Horse and Shelly Bond at Vertigo for taking time out of their hectic schedules to meet with me. Shout-outs to Howard Chaykin, Steven Grant, Brom, Becky Cloonan, Dean Haglund, Kevin Anderson, Dan Brereton, Peter Kuper and Ice Bat, homeboys Tony Akins, Mitch O'Connell, Bill Reinhold, Jill Thompson, Gary Gianni and Big Boss Geof Darrow.

Congratulations to Peter and Ania on their engagement!

Extra special thanks to Kathy Tanaka for an astounding auto adventure and getting me to the airport alive!

Monday, June 04, 2007

He Cooks Up Monsters

Bill Gudmundson, Chicago’s own Resin Chef, connoisseur of transglobal teratoids, in a rare moment of mirth in the midst of a hellish conflagration. How many “flabs and sedge-ments" in a Monster Island recipe? The Resin Chef knows!

Saddle Up, Buckaroos!

After much perspiration and holding-of-breath, I am proud to debut a peek at my latest comic coloring work.

So finish up that fried iguana sandwich and pony on up to your local Gummint Funnybook Emporium where you can trade your wampum for a shiny new Shaolin Cowboy number 7, written and drawed by the estimable Mr. Geof Darrow and colored by yours truly. The fine folks at Burlyman Entertainment will thank you, and I thank you.

It is a great honor for me to work alongside Geof Darrow and Spencer Lamm on this wildly popular, Eisner Award-winning series. I look forward to feedback — drop me a line here at the blog or in person at the conventions I’ll be attending this year, San Diego Comic-Con in July and Chicago’s Wizard World in August.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I Am Not a Comedian

This is a quick one on Lenny Bruce for Roctober Magazine. Thanks to Charlie for the critique. It's better now!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Guitar Wolf!

Any day of the week you can watch vapid celebrity TV interviews until your eyes bleed. Last night, we even saw celebrities interview each other. "Are you going to have a baby?" "Will you stop!?" Boring! Bucking the trend is Chicago cable access show Chic-a-Go-Go, where true legends of rock ‘n’ roll, punk, R&B and the avant-garde are interviewed by puppets. Yes, puppets. Roctober magazine will celebrate Chic-a-Go-Go’s 500th episode with a THOUSAND illustrations of past guests in comic format. My contribution is future Hall of Dynamic Greatness inductee, Japan’s electro-shock wild thing, Seiji of Guitar Wolf. For those outside the Channel 19 area, the little rodent shown here is Ratso, created by Chic-a-Go-Go guru and lead Goblin gargler, Jake Austen.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Mutant Cyclops Lucky Cat

The familiar ceramic sculpture of the Maneki Neko (招き猫, literally "Beckoning Cat," also known as Money Cat) seen in every sushi restaurant and noodle shop is one of the first folk icons I became acquainted with when I began studying Japanese culture in the '70s. The raised left paw is to bring customers, a raised right paw brings wealth and good luck. Unless it’s the other way around. This cyclopean spin on the traditional image is the product of the Real Head studio in Japan and is overwhelmingly cool! Supposedly only 25 vinyl pieces were produced. Come on! Every home needs one! Thanks to the good folks at Real Head and to SkullBrain for bringing this to light.

Link to Real Head; Link to SkullBrain

Shun the Frumious Bandersnatch

--or ‘The Things One Finds in a Hole.” For the benefit of Cephalophiles everywhere.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Catcher Was a Spy

I’ve recently completed a set of illustrations for "The Double Life of Moe Berg," a feature documentary movie on Boston Red Sox catcher and Atomic Spy, Moe Berg. “Professor” Berg was a real character, a graduate of Princeton and Harvard who preferred playing baseball to practicing law. He claimed to speak 9 (or was it 13?) languages and was a popular guest on the radio quiz show "Information Please." The illustrations will appear within the context of old newspaper coverage on his exploits and will be intercut with archival photos, rare footage and interviews with Berg’s contemporaries. I’ll update when more is known about the film’s release.

Anthologize Me

I’m honored to have a couple of my comics reprinted in The Best of LCD coming in 2007 from Princeton Architectural Press. The book will feature writing and artwork drawn from 25 strange and fascinating issues of WFMU's in-house zine LCD(Lowest Common Denominator). Thanks to Dave "the Spazz" Abramson for the inclusion. One story, “I, Rebel—The Phil Spector Story” was eerily prophetic, portraying Spector as a “rock ’n’ roll psychopath.” Spector is presently on trial for the gruesome and tragic murder of B-movie starlet Lana Clarkson, a case that continues to develop.

Giant "Blob" Is Largest Thing in Universe

Not 'blog,' it's a GIANT BLOB. You thought I was kidding...well, it's not just kaiju freaks who contemplate the astromonsters waiting out there in the dark. I wonder if I can interest Gargamel into making a vinyl figure of this...

“Japanese astronomers have discovered what they call the largest object in the universe: a colossal structure 200 million light-years wide that resembles a swarm of giant green jellyfish.”

All right, maybe it's not so green.