Archive for January, 2011

Q is for Quetzalcoatl

Posted in Center for Cartoon Studies, Monster Alphabet, Monsters, Thesis with tags , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2011 by Paul Swartz

This piece is, in style and substance, kind of out of place in this set. It’s the only page so far with no background at all. Also, it’s more design-y than my other monsters, less representational. It shows a little more outside influence (traditional Aztec patterns, etc.) than most of my other pieces do. Substantially, it stands apart, too. Quetzalcoatl isn’t really a cryptid. No one believes that there are, or ever were, feathered serpents winging their way around Central America (though they do, weirdly, believe that Jesus or one of his apostles might have passed through)*. He’s not a monster out of folklore either. In fact, he’s a full-fledged god. Still, I though that this picture was too cool to compromise. Also, the pickings for Q were pretty slim.

I have been fascinated by Quetzcoatl ever since I listened to an “X-Files” book on tape about him during a childhood road trip to Florida. I’d love to give him the write-up he deserves, but I’m in such a rush to turn work out that I can’t sit still long enough to blog. Looming deadlines, conventions, and the demands of outside projects are driving me to do as much as I can in these next few months. Still, maybe in a quieter moment I’ll come back and write something about the feathered serpent.

* Legend has it that, in his human form, Quetzcoatl was a White man with a beard. This fact, along, I guess, with his promise of a repeat appearance at some unspecified future date, has lead some people (Mormons, particularly) to believe that Quetzlcoatl was actually Christ or one of his disciples. The two may have also had similar philosophies, I’m not sure. I’m also not sure how white Jesus and co. would have really been. However, after what would have been a pretty epic sea voyage, they would have been plenty bearded.


O is for Ogre

Posted in Center for Cartoon Studies, Monster Alphabet, Monsters, Thesis with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2011 by Paul Swartz

So, what do you guys think? I’ve got two versions of this Ogre drawing. One is more vibrant, and one is more subdued and a little bluer/greener. I’m posting my second-ever poll, so weigh in and help me decide which one to use! Elections in the People’s Republic of Paul are a lot like American political contests. You know the drill: pick your favorite from a list of only two candidates separated by a handful of barely discernible differences! May the best man win!

Which color scheme should I use?


I is for Imp

Posted in Center for Cartoon Studies, Monster Alphabet, Monsters, Thesis with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2011 by Paul Swartz

This is basically a retread of a drawing I did a couple of years ago, but I think I was able to improve it, if only a little. I don’t have a lot to say about this imp, or any other, I guess. I’m fighting the compulsion to hold forth on every monster I draw, especially when I don’t know or care much about them. I will say, though, that this imp is monster number 15. I’ve got 11 more to draw (and quite a few more to write), but I’m basically on track to get this book done in time for a MoCCA debut!

U is for Unicorn

Posted in Center for Cartoon Studies, Monster Alphabet, Monsters, Thesis with tags , , , , , , , on January 22, 2011 by Paul Swartz

I’m not sure why I do this, but every time I draw a unicorn, I situate him in this weird cardboard world, where the clouds, sun etc. are suspended from wires and everything is obviously scenery. Maybe I do this because the unicorn seems so whimsical, so manufactured, that I can’t even imagine putting him into my flat, goofy version of the “Real World.” I don’t know.

Sometime, I’d also like to draw the Unicorn in its natural habitat, a little girl’s Trapper Keeper. That was one concept I considered for this page, but ultimately, it seemed too out of step with the overall look of the project. Still, it’d be fun. I could do him in highlighter on notebook paper, galloping around scratch work and games of MASH.

I’m pretty pleased with this picture. The color scheme really came out nicely. I’m also happy I found somewhere in this book to stuff a dragon. I knew I wanted to do “D is for Dybbuk,” so the dragon was not going to get its own page. I’m  glad that it at least gets to play a supporting role here. I’m enjoying the way the dragon and the unicorn are fighting. It reminds me, now that I can take a step back and really look at it, of all those Triceratops vs. T-Rex drawings you see in kids’ dinosaur books.

The only thing I’m not thrilled with in this picture are the mushrooms. I’m not sure why, but they just don’t quite do it for me.  I should have worked a little harder on them.

One finall thought on unicorns: Someone once told me that the whole unicorn myth came out of a mutation that occurs in deer, causing them to grow one stunted antler out of the middle of their foreheads. Apparently, this mutation was pretty common, but these deer, for whatever reason, became a hot commodity and were hunted ruthlessly, which basically led to this mutation being selected out. This might be true, but it’s also concievable that medieval man was capable of imagining a horse with a horn on it. It’s kind of weird the way we never give our ancestors any credit for creativity.

Rogues Gallery

Posted in Illustration with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2011 by Paul Swartz

I don’t usually do caricature work, but, pursuing a possible job for a national magazine, I gave it my best shot. By the time I sent off these drawings, though, they’d already gotten someone else for the gig. Not wanting to waste the drawings, I thought I’d submit them to you. Hopefully you can at least kind of tell who they are. If you can’t, though, they’re supposed to be Sarah Palin and Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell.

She came out a lot better than he did, I think. I like what I did with the color and shape of her glasses especially. By contrast, McConnell’s eyes and glasses are a bit confusing and overly complicated. I should have gone for something simpler, more iconographic. Also, he’s a little pale (not untrue to life, but not great design either. He kind of fades into the background). In the end, though, I’m pretty proud of these. They’re some of the first caricatures I’ve ever done and are definitely my first attempts at McConnell and Palin.