June 29, 2011

Comics Express!

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Chris Duffy which read a little bit like the setup for one of those retired bank robber movies.  You know, "We're getting the gang back together, for ONE more job!"

Chris and some of the other designers, editors, art directors and artists who used to work for Nickelodeon Magazine decided to make a special comic book just for the kids of Joplin, Missouri, whose town was recently wiped out by a tornado.  It's going to be called Comics Express.

Since the turnaround was so fast, they asked me to adapt a preexisting image of mine, specifically my 2008 Heroes Con Indie Island T-Shirt design.  I drew a kid to take my place on the island:


One of the designers drew the title text, and I'm not sure how it will all be laid out in the end, but you get the idea.  To make this project possible everyone is donating their work and the editors are using the fundraising site indiegogo.com to raise money for the printing and shipping costs. They have already reached their goal!  There is still one day left though, and any extra money raised will go towards the Joplin Public Schools' Adopt-a-Classroom Fund to help replace classroom supplies.  So if you'd like to score a copy of this book (or some of the other awesome extras) please donate some money to this good cause.

The book will also have a full color version of my Doctor Octopus comic in it, as well as comics and gags by SO MANY awesome cartoonists and illustrators.  Check out the indiegogo page to see the full list of contributors!

June 22, 2011

Rebecca Engelberg Baby Shower Invite

Remember last year when I made those wedding invitations for Rebecca and Matt?  Well, as the saying goes: "Oh what a difference a year makes!"  A few months ago, my Mom asked me to make an invitation for Rebecca's baby shower, which my Mom hosted, along with my sisters Courtney and Galen.  She requested an illustration with a series of animals and their (CUTE!) offspring.  Here's what I came up with:


Obviously, I have grayed out some confidential contact info here, but I wanted you all to see the text so you could get a better feel for how the whole thing was designed.  I guess the shower went well, and Isaac Okawa Witcher was born this past weekend on June 17th!  Rebecca and Matt have posted some photos of him on their blog.  I know they will be great parents, and I wish them both lots of luck with it and a big congratulations!

June 15, 2011

Ramen Music #5 Cover

Oh man, I'm so glad that I didn't just post all of the covers I did for Ramen Music last year when I drew them.  Instead, I get to re-plug this awesome project every time they use one of my covers!  This month being just such an occasion.  For the cover of Issue #5, I had my Nogard the Dragon character (from my upcoming webcomic Isle of Elsi which should start in 2012?) blowing some hot jazz through a trumpet.  I love dragons, and I played trumpet for about 15 years, so this image was a lot of fun to draw.

If you haven't checked out Ramen Music yet, you really should!  By following this link, you can listen to the entire 5th issue FOR FREE.  And you can share that link with as many people as you like!  The idea behind Ramen Music is that they charge a subscription (right now it's $29 for six issues a year) and then they accept submissions from independent musicians and curate an awesome music "magazine" every other month.  It's a great mix of a website, a music player, a zine that has interviews with all the bands, and the whole thing is beautifully designed.  
Then, unlike MOST music business stuff these days (record labels, iTunes, etc.) they split up the lion's share of the incoming money and give it back directly to the artists.  Right now they are paying $150.00 per track to artists, with very fair terms.  
This whole project is the mastermind of my buddy Sudara, who I went to Oberlin with a long time ago, and who is ALSO the mastermind behind alonetone.com, which thousands of people use to post their music and share it with people.  It's a real honor to be involved with such a cool project, and Ramen Music still has a few more of my covers banked, so I'll post the next one when it goes online!

June 9, 2011

Nickelodeon One-Pager and Phase 7 Funnies

Every time I sent in a batch of gags to Nickelodeon Magazine, I also sent in a pitch for a one-page comic.  The pacing for these comics behaves a little differently than a single-panel gag cartoon.  You have to sort of stretch out a joke over the whole page and then have a big payoff in the last panel.  If you want to see some great examples of what I'm talking about, check out the comics section on Dan Moynihan's site, which is full of great one-pagers that made it into the magazine.

I tried all kinds of weird things for my one-pagers; a page full of puns, a page with one panel for each letter of the alphabet (in sound effects),  and one-pagers with various characters I invented.  But none of them quite hit the mark.  I put all of these one-pager attempts, along with a bunch of my unaccepted gag ideas, into two issues of a minicomic that I made called "Phase 7 Funnies" which you can read about on my other blog.

Since I have finished posting all of my accepted gags on this blog, it seemed like a good time to put these minicomics online, so that all of you can compare the accepted gags to the rejected gags, as well as the level of detail in my pitches.  Anything that is not a gag in these collections is a one-pager that I pitched (most have been reformatted over several smaller pages).  You can read these minicomics in their entirety by following these links:  Phase 7 Funnies #1 / Phase 7 Funnies #2 
By the time I was sending in my last few pitches to Nickelodeon, I had almost given up hope on ever getting a one-page comic accepted.  I remember right before I sent off my penultimate batch of gags, there was one gag idea that I hadn't been able to condense down into one panel.  Something about a judge and how in court they are always taking recess, like kids do at school.  Then, instead of trying to condense it into a single panel, I decided to expand it into a one-pager.  In about five minutes, I dashed off a silly rhyming idea, using the recess idea as a framework.  And it worked!  As Chris Duffy put it in his email: "And now, brace yourself, Alec. YOU SOLD US A ONE PAGE COMIC! Somehow your hypno beams got to us and we're going for Judge Jasper."  Here's what the finished comic looked like:



Well, that's it!  That's everything I ever did for Nickelodeon Magazine.  I hope you have all enjoyed these gags.  I want to thank Chris Duffy and Dave Roman for being the coolest editors I have ever worked with.  Even just the fact that I am now able to post these gags and comics is a testament to how much they understood and respected independent artists like myself.  They offered fair contracts, good pay and plenty of laughs along the way!  I'll be lucky if I can find another venue for my gags someday that is HALF as cool.

NEXT WEEK: something entirely different!

June 2, 2011

Nickelodeon Gag #16

Okay!  Here it is, my last gag that was approved by Nickelodeon Magazine in 2008.  This one and a few of the previous gags were actually probably printed in 2009, which was the last year the magazine was in print.  As you know by now, I think Beavers are like the funniest animals on earth.  Have you seen the great IMAX documentary BEAVERS?  Highly recommended!


I actually have one more thing to post from my days at Nickelodeon, but it is not a gag!  So next week's post will wrap up all of this stuff and then we'll head off into different realms of illustration...  Until then, have a great rest of your week!