Archive for the Illustration Category

The Masks We Wear

Posted in Drawn Out Storytelling, Illustration, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2011 by Paul Swartz

Here’s what I’ve been working on for the last couple of days:

New Yorkers and people willing and able to travel on a whim: come and see the latest installment of Drawn Out Storytelling on Thursday, November 3rd!

It’s our almost-timely Halloween show, and it should be a fun one. For more information, you can pore lovingly over my poster, or check out our event on  Facebook or our website.


New World Nude Revue!

Posted in Conventions, Illustration with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2011 by Paul Swartz

The above is a drawing I did for Vintage Sleaze, a blog dedicated to showcasing the work of “forgotten, anonymous, and neglected sexy artists of the 1950s.” The site is an exhaustive, authoritative, and lovingly-compiled catalogue of risque art. It’s also a lot of fun to read. If you’re looking for someplace to start, my piece is here.

How I came to contribute to Vintage Sleaze is actually kind of an interesting story. A month or so ago, I was contacted by the site’s author, Jim Linderman. He had found my blog during a search for an (even more) obscure cartoonist by the name of Paul Swartz*. Lucky for me, Paul Swartz the Elder did his cartooning in the 1920s and 30s (when he was a lot less obscure), so I don’t have to worry about picking up a pen name…or driving him to do the same! Anyway, Jim liked my work enough to ask me to contribute to his new series “Contemporary Vintage Sleaze,” in which cartoonists of today channel early and mid-twentieth century smut, producing risque works that are retro in style, substance, or both. It’s an honor to be numbered among accomplished contributors like Vanessa Davis, Gary Panter, and Antonio Lapone (who I’ve only just discovered through this series). When you’re reading back through the archives, be sure not to miss the debut entry by the lovely Lena Chandhok!

I’m not exactly sure what my illustration is supposed to be. It’s got a Deco sensibility, with a heavy infusion of Swartz, and is meant as an homage to 1920s poster work. I’m undecided, though, on whether it’s supposed to be a poster for a patriotic burlesque that might have been, or an allegorical cartoon about the ravenous lust/blinding love that the men of the world felt for America (personified here by Lady Liberty). Also, is the cartoon Nativist (cruelly caricaturing the immigrants as ravening wolves, set to defile the New World), or does it sympathize with them; Lady Liberty’s sly smirk portending trouble for her suitors? Maybe it’s just a goofy drawing that reminds us that the fantasies, promises, conquests, and betrayals by which we build nations are the same tools we use in the pursuit of romance.

One weird thing I did learn while working on this drawing is that I have a preoccupation, apparently, with the Statue of Liberty. This is not the first sexy Statue of Liberty I’ve drawn. She also appears in “Jaws of Defeat,**” stonewalling a giant JFK on the prowl. I also have a “Mockingbird” chapter cover that features Irving’s face on the famous statue. So that’s weird. When he spoke at our school last year, Vermont’s first Cartoonist Laureate, James Kochalka talked about the self-knowledge you gain by, in his case, drawing daily diary comics for a decade. One of the weirdest discoveries he made was that, over the years, he had drawn two unrelated strips in which he mused (not eagerly, I should be clear) about having sex with trees. That talk stuck with me and it was fun to suddenly have a quirky discovery like he did. Still, I’m glad that mine was mine and his was his.

Finally, on another note, if you live anywhere near Northampton, Mass., or anywhere in the Upper Valley, really, you should come see Lena and me at the Paint and Pixel Festival on April 16th. It’s only $4 for adults and $2 or free for kids (depending on their age). We’ll be there with our own table, but a slew of other CCSers will be there too, manning a school booth and leading workshops. Even if you’re not in the area, check out our slick profiles on the site’s main page! Just click on the image displayed to see more pics and a bio.

* Jim was kind enough to send me five original pages by the original Paul Swartz, which are a lot of fun and surprisingly relevant to my interests. They tend to portray forgotten Vaudevillians of the 1930s, which is what my “Mockingbird” comic is all about. I’ll be sure to scan them and post them sometime.

** I’ve really got to post the rest of this.

Rachel and the Elf

Posted in Illustration, Other Events with tags , , , , on March 10, 2011 by Paul Swartz

Here’s a poster that I designed for New York City comedy duo Rachel and the Elf.  If you’re in the NYC area, you should definitely catch the show (or any of their other ones). Rachel and the Elf is Nisse Greenberg and Rachel Garber Cole. Rachel and the Elf is also very funny, as I hope you’ll find out.

Like a Bacillus, Sealed in a Train Car…

Posted in Illustration, Shows, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2011 by Paul Swartz

Last fall I submitted a drawing for the Charlotte Arts Catalyst’s monster-themed coloring book and sold a couple of related pieces in their accompanying show. I had a great time doing it and I’m excited to submit again this year. The theme for the spring book is history, which is about as perfect for me as monsters was. Anyway, here’s a drawing that I’m thinking about sending in:

I’ve always loved this quote by Churchill. More specifically, I’ve always loved a pithier, more poster-ready paraphrase of it (“The Germans sent Lenin into Russia like a bacillus, sealed in a train car”). The real quote is a little longer and was harder to fit artfully into this design. A note to fellow cartoonists/illustrators: never save double checking that quote for last! I hope the multicolored text livened up the big block of words. It might have made it too busy, though. I tried to give it kind of a word-cloud feel, with the words’ coloring reflecting their significance.

Anyway, back to the quote. I just think it’s a really great metaphor and have thought about it on and off over the years. A man bottled up like a biological weapon — that’s so evocative! And it’s so visual. It seemed like a go-to illustration for me, especially since I’m so into the USSR. I’m not sure I did it justice, but I really couldn’t afford to spend more than a couple of days on it. I’m sure I’ll revisit the concept sometime soon.

The part of the picture that I’m proudest of is actually Churchill, who was a lot easier to draw than I would have expected. I kind of wish I’d featured him more prominently. He’s got a pretty easily-caricatured face, so it’s no great boast to do a passable Churchill. Drawing him is probably equivalent to impersonating Christopher Walken or William Shatner or somebody like that. You get huge, can’t miss ’em quirks to build your imitation around. With Churchill, you don’t have room for a lot of likeness once the hat, jowls, and cigar are in place. Still, I’m no caricaturist, so I’m proud.

Surprisingly, I could be prouder of the Russian text. Lenin’s font is particularly lackluster/inappropriate. I wanted something that could have come off a Bolshevik leaflet, but it was really, really hard to find free Cyrillic fonts. The two I used don’t feature all the Cyrillic characters so I had to make my Яs, Юs, and Ьs from scratch. I’m also not sure that my Russian is correct, but here was what I meant to say. Lenin is saying (hopefully) “Revolution!” and the sign in the bottom right reads “Welcome to Russia” (God willing). I can’t believe that I was majoring in this language just a few year ago.

My biggest regret of all is that I can’t find some way to reuse this in my monster book. I guess “B” could still be for Bolshevik, but, if I didn’t use my dad’s suggestion of “Y is for Young Republican,” than I’m certainly not going to do that.

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.