Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Strange Santas

That nightmarish, saccharine music blasting from speakers everywhere signals that Christmas is fast approaching. While I'm not crazy about the season in general, I am a big fan of all Santa imagery, the kitschier, the better. This is probably due to the fact that I spent my diapered years watching those charming Rankin Bass animated TV specials, (which I'm STILL very happy to watch, thank you). For that reason, I look forward to holiday illo assignments, and the chance to visualize some of the weirder aspects of the jolly old elf's imagined history.

Here are three strange Santa illos from recent years: the first is an illo from the Boston Phoenix , assigned to me early last month by Catherine Tumber, (while Kristen Goodfriend was away). The article was a stream-of-consciousness piece consisting of hundreds of made-up band names; things like "Christmas Vampire," "The Devil's Tomato," "Scowling Baby," etc".

(Looking at that drawing, I'm reminded that over the years, I've done a handful of similar illos featuring whimsical bands comprised of robots, giant fish, aliens, and the like; at some later date, I'll collect them all and post 'em here.)

Next is a pro bono cover I did for an odd 'zine called ODDFELLOW, where we see a rapier-wielding Santa dressed in military regalia, dueling with the mag's creepy Masonic mascot, (a character originally dreamed up by the excellent cartoonist Jason Little ).

Last is a cover I did for New York Press' Holiday Gift Guide in November of 2003, (I think this was during Nick Bilton's tenure as Art Director) where another warrior Santa prepares to drive a spear directly into the black heart of his eternal foe, Lucifer.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Morning Again In America.....Again?

Here's a pair of illos to help celebrate the Democratic victories in yesterday's mid-term elections.

The first is a cover illo for the Boston Phoenix, (art direction by Kristen Goodfriend) from the week of October 25th, 2006. The Phoenix was running a review of Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette," and the reviewer wanted to draw some kind of connection between the film and Bush's low approval rating. This one makes a nice bookend to an earlier one I did for the Phoenix in September of 2005, which showed Bush dressed as Nero, complete with toga, laurel leaves and fiddle, (see the post I made on August 22, 2006 for the Hurricane Katrina Anniversary).

The second illo is from September of 2002, for Alexander Cockburn's weekly column for New York Press, (art direction by Michael Gentile) and I think it's the only time I've drawn Donald Rumsfeld. Much as I would've enjoyed having another crack at the now former Secretary of Defense, I'm not sorry to see him go.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Since this is Halloween weekend, I thought I’d post a few recent illos that I’m sure you’ll agree are appropriate to the season.

First, here’s a cover illo for New York Press that ran in September of 2004; art direction by Mike McKeogh, (this was at the point when the New York Press was chewing up art directors and spitting them out faster than I could change Rolodex cards). The feature was about an historic cemetery out in Brooklyn somewhere that had fallen into disrepair in recent decades, falling prey to dope fiends, partying teens, and the like.

Readers of New York Press in its heyday may spot my sneaky in-joke: the names on the headstones are all former New York Press staffers. For reasons unknown to me, the then editors of the paper, (Jeff Koyen and Alexander Zaitchik) did not find my gag print-worthy; the art ran on the paper’s cover with the names zapped out via Photoshop. Had the paper commissioned this illo a month or two later, I might’ve added Koyen & Zaitchik’s own names to the headstones, but that’s a spooky tale for another day.

Next, it’s a cover illo for the Boston Phoenix from October of 2005, with art direction by Kristen Goodfriend. The point here was that, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the White House press corps had finally decided to remove the kid gloves and ask the President some tough questions.

The main thing I remember about this illo, (besides the thrill I felt at being asked to draw a wounded Dubya pursued by ravenous zombies), was that at some point during the process, one of Kristen’s editors asked that I put a zombified Diane Sawyer and Keith Olbermann into the mob of ghoulish reporters. I tried to point out that likenesses are extremely tough to pull off when the characters are also supposed to look like walking corpses, but the editors, God bless them, they get these kooky ideas in their heads, and they ARE in charge, so, well….I suppose that zombie in the middle kinda looks like he might be vaguely related to Keith Olbermann…sort of.

Lastly: the moment I’d heard that longtime friend of SCREW magazine “Grandpa” Al Lewis had died, (in February of 2006), I pounced for my phone and pitched a memorial cover to Mr. Kevin Hein, SCREW’s longtime art director, and my good friend. Behold the result:

A day or two after the issue went to press, I was crestfallen to discover that the birth date I’d put on the drawing was INCORRECT, thanks to the beloved Munster’s unfortunate habit of LYING about his own history. While I’m sure all of us fib about ourselves occasionally, apparently Grandpa Al told some real whoppers, including a claim that he’d been on the legal team that defended Sacco & Venzetti, (no mean feat for a four year old boy).

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Adieu CBGB!

According to reports on NPR, it appears that CBGB finally closed its doors for good this morning. I won't lose much sleep over the loss of CB's legendary music stage; like many, I can't remember the last time I went there to see a band. When I did visit the grimy club, it was invariably to see some friend's noisy band, rather than one of the seminal punk groups that made the place famous in the 70s, (unfortunately, I missed that scene by two or three years).

What I WILL mourn is the loss of CBs gallery space next door at 313 Bowery, where I spent countless merry hours during the 90's and the early 2000's attending their terrific art shows, (a handful of of which were curated by yours truly). CBs 313 Gallery was one of very few art venues in Manhattan where miscreants like me were welcome to mount large shows; their space was expansive and well-maintained, they had a great bar, and the folks who ran the place were top-notch. I have nothing but fond memories of Micheline and her crew at CBs 313, and I wish all of them the very best of luck in their future endeavors.

In observation of CBGB's closing, here's a drawing I did for an Electric Frankenstein poster in August of 2005.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Kim Jong Il Rocks!

In tribute to North Korea's successful detonation of a Hiroshima-sized atomic weapon this weekend, here's a drawing of the Glorious Leader rocking out on his Flying V in anticipation of some nifty economic sanctions.

This illo was conducted with indigenous wisdom and technology 100 percent in February of 2005. It marks a historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased Tom Carlson (Dear Leader of Riverfront Times art department) and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant illo capability.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Calendar That Wasn't

Bad news from the Bougieman: owing to Tower Records’ recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the plug has been pulled on the Cinema Sewer calendar for 2007. I’m not sure exactly what kind of arrangement Robin had with the folks at Tower; perhaps they were funding the print run, or maybe their distribution was key. In any event, Tower has pulled out, and the calendar is kaput. It’s a shame; last year’s calendar was packed with fun, and I’m sure this one would’ve been even better.

Here are two drawings I’d contributed to Robin’s calendar; the first was for the cover, (a scene of monster mayhem at your local drive-in cinema), and the second was for the month of December, (showing Santa Claus in his little-known side gig as vampire hunter coming up against Christopher Lee’s Dracula). As one would imagine, I’m bummed that these two drawings won’t be seeing print, (at least until I can figure out some way to repurpose ‘em), so in an effort to dry my tears, here they are in all their low-res digital glory.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Hurricane Katrina Anniversary

In observance of the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, here's a cover illo I did for Kristen Goodfriend at the Boston Phoenix; this illo ran the week of September 9, 2005.

The main thing that I remember about this one, (besides drooling over the opportunity to draw Dubya as Nero fiddling while New Orleans drowned), was the question of which musical instrument to place in Bush/Nero's hands. The stickler for historical accuracy in me insisted that it be a lyre, (no fiddles in Ancient Rome), but my inner pragmatist knew that a modern-day fiddle would do a better job of putting the idea across. Pragmatism won the day, but for anyone who might be curious, I've included an early rough sketch to show what the illo would've looked like with the lyre.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Four Spot Illustrations for New York Press, 2004-2005

Who knows what goes on at New York Press these days? I certainly don’t. The last bit of New York Press news I heard was from recently-departed art director Mike Weber, who I ran into at the release party for Glenn Head’s comics anthology HOTWIRE on May 19th at ROCKETSHIP.

Mike W. told me he’d left New York Press after receiving an edict from the editors banning illustration from the paper. Sad news for me, not because I’m jonesing for more of those notoriously low-paying NYPress illo assignments, but because the paper had a long history of hiring talented, offbeat illustrators, (a pattern established by the paper’s founding art director Michael Gentile back in the late 80’s). I’ve done literally hundreds of drawings for New York Press in the years since I first tiptoed into Michael Gentile’s cubicle with my portfolio; I made lots of friends at the paper, whooped it up at many of their lavish parties, and my wife Linda and I met at the paper. I have a certain amount of sentimental attachment to New York Press, but nowadays I avoid those green plastic boxes on NYC sidewalks because it depresses me to see how far downhill the paper has slid in recent years.

I’m not sure how many art directors have come and gone since Russ Smith sold New York Press in 2003; I’d guess at least five people have landed briefly in that overworked, underpaid spot. Here are four illos I did for New York Press between late 2004 and the middle of 2005; the art directors could’ve been any of the following folks: Roxy Wu, Nick Bilton, Mike Mc Keogh, Jennifer Rodriguez, Christine Baczewska.

Cross-dressing performer Murray Hill:

Poet & playwright Gertrude Stein, (crooning, for some reason):

Jazz pianist Bill Charlap & the ghost of George Gershwin:

The Booty Call in the age of Cellular Phones:

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Fourth!

This illo isn't the freshest in the shop, (it's about two years old), but I can't think of a better way to express the patriotic feelings welling up inside me on this special day. The illo ran as a tiny sidebar column spot in Jungle Law magazine, (who still owe me money) and I believe the art direction was by either Marcus Villaca or Vanessa Ramos-Velasquez.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Batum Schrag CD cover art

Here's a piece of art I just turned in for the Seattle-based band BATUM SCHRAG. The CD's title is "Throwing Stones," and I hope I get my hands on the finished discs soon, so I can finally hear what these folks sound like.

Friday, June 30, 2006

BOSKO #1 Launch Party Pix

On June 14th, I stumbled over to the East Village's charming BOXCAR LOUNGE to spend a few precious, beer-soaked moments with the legendary cartoonist (and PUNK Magazine co-founder) JOHN HOLMSTROM to celebrate the debut of BOSKO #1. Comics fans worldwide have spent countless sleepless nights tossing and turning on their tattered futons, wondering when "America's Least Favorite Cartoon Character " would finally get his own comic book; I'm glad to say that the long wait is finally over!

BOSKO #1 is a slick, full-color comic book, (approximately 36 pages), and as far as I know, this is the first comic book to bear the proud imprimatur of PUNK Magazine, (if you need me to explain what PUNK Magazine is, you should go away, study everything on this page, and come back when you're done). Inside the covers of BOSKO #1, you'll find the exploits of (who else?) Bosko, a hard-drinking, good-natured smart-ass; you'll also find a true-life tale of 70's era NYC terror as Holmstrom, Ken Weiner (a.k.a. Ken Avidor) and their drunken pals go toe-to-toe with a pack of belligerent bridge & tunnel goons. Many of these strips are brand new, some are not-so-new, (although appearing in color here for the first time), but all are great fun and definitely worth your $4.95. Support the PUNK Magazine publishing empire and buy direct from the PUNK website!

Snapshots from the BOSKO #1 launch party at BOXCAR LOUNGE:

The man himself, JOHN HOLMSTROM takes us on a tour of his tonsils

SCREW alums KEVIN HEIN and ERIC DANVILLE soak in the glory of 2-for-1 draught beers

NEW YORK PRESS alums (and ghost hunters) MIKE WARTELLA and TANYA RICHARDSON join Holmstrom in a dizzying kaleidoscopic whirlwind of all things BOSKO, (and no, that is NOT a clip-on beard)

Art for Cinema Sewer Calendar 2006

Last week, I turned in two pieces of art for Robin Bougie's CINEMA SEWER Calendar for 2007, so this seems like a good time to post the two illos I did for LAST year's calendar. The first illo ran on the calendar's cover, and the second illo was for the month of December, (Santa & Co besieged by Toho monsters Godzilla, Ghidorah, and Mothra). The two illos I did for this year's calendar are in a similar vein, but I think it's best that I keep them under wraps until the calendar hits the shelves, (I think these calendars are available at Tower Books).

For those unfamiliar with the mag, CINEMA SEWER is a great zine dedicated to schlock films; in addition to tons of film reviews, features and zany comic strips, editor (and talented cartoonist) Bougie hand-letters every page of each issue, which gives the mag a unique, handmade (yet very readable) feel. I always have a lot of fun drawing for CINEMA SEWER, because it's one of the few opportunities I get to really cut loose and do some wild stuff. Here's another drawing I did in the Summer of 2004 for the cover of CINEMA SEWER #15.