Friday, August 29, 2008

All Along the Blogtower...

Sorry for the absence!! Not much going lately. I just finished a 2 week course teaching 9-15 year olds how to draw. But now I'm back!

I just completed a drawing of Bob Dylan. It's a charcoal piece, about 18x24. The source I used was not a great Dylan image, but it was all I had. I might have it on Ebay soon, but I wanted my readers (if I have any) first dibs, or be able to tell your friends and neighbors about it. I'm keeping a low price on it, but it is an original drawing....

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Yorkshire pudding

As a kid, my mom would make "yorkshire pudding". Now, as a blogger, I should clarify what it is. But I don't wanna. All I will say is it's made with flour, salt, milk and eggs and put in the oven. When it comes out it should look like a topping-less pizza. Mine was not so successful. Mine keeps looking like an overshot of the Rocky Mountains. But it's good. At least, I always liked it.

I decided in the last couple weeks to try my hand at making yorkshire pudding. The photos are the results. The beautiful blonde girl is my daughter, viewing yorkshire pudding for the first time.
Yeah, she felt the same when she tasted it, too. It's a kind of bland flavor, but not a bad flavor.


If you like the drawing above, please click here. It is a drawing of Robert Plant, of the Honeydrippers, solo artist fame, and he was in some band about a led balloon....?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Groo Crew (Heavy on the Sakai)

If you know me, you know that I am obsessed with Groo the Wanderer. I have been flipping through the pages of Sergio Aragones' creation longer than I've been able to read. Groo (and countless other comics) contributed to my learning how to read. It is also, along with Popeye, the greatest reason for me to start drawing. I drew Popeye in First Grade, and Groo in Second Grade. Over the years I learned the names of the men who put the Groo books together (Sergio Aragones-Creator/Pencils/Inks, Mark Evanier-Writer, Tom Luth-Colorist, Stan Sakai (seen above)-Letterer) and came to admire each individual's work. I also found that Groo wasn't ALL they did! Sergio, apparently, has been working with MAD Magazine since 1962 as well as many side projects and collaberations with Evanier and other artists. Mark Evanier has written many books, written for television, written other comic books, and was assistant to legend Jack Kirby (he currently has a book released, titled "KIRBY: King of Comics". You can read about it here, or buy it here). Colorist Tom Luth has worked on various comics, including USAGI YOJIMBO by Stan Sakai, Disney Adventures, and others. He also works in book design and if you visit his site, I won't have to list the many things this man is capable of. Stan Sakai will be celebrating in 2009 the 25th Anniversary of his creation, USAGI YOJIMBO. He also letters for the Spider-Man comic strip and will be doing (or did. I'm behind in my comic shop dwellings) a special for Marvel Comics.

Stan is also one of the kindest gentlemen I have ever had the fortune to meet. I met him at the Motor City Con in 2007. I spoke to him throughout the day, as well as the guy whose table was to Stan's left. Some guy from MAD with a swirly moustache. Also a great guy. Stan appreciates the true fans and treats them as family rather than like they're stalkers. If I'd had money, I would have bought more because his work is great, but times have been tough for awhile.

ANYWAYS, I did a drawing for him as well as Sergio. 2007 marked the 25th Anniversary of Groo so I did a woodblock to commemerate the occasion. I printed 6 copies. One for each member of the "Groo Crew", one for me and one for another crazed Groo fan. GARY!! (He was kind enough to take Tom and Mark's prints to the San Diego Con to give them). Above is a photo of Stan viewing the print I gave him. He told me that he enjoys block printing as well. He also has a Bachelor's in Drawing and still a fan. Some of our conversation really touched me and inspired me to continue what I do. It meant alot and I took a great deal home from that day from both Stan and Sergio (who shared his "fanboy"-ness when he was a kid that I was experiencing in his presence.

Seriously, I couldn't stop shaking and smiling.

I wish I could give Stan more because I don't think he realizes how much he gave me that day.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lemme clarify...

On my previous post, I titled it "Because NOBODY demanded it...My Sammy Hagar Story". I wrote that because when I start talking about Sammy Hagar, people get bored or have a look on their face like "Oh, GREAT!! Here he goes!" AND I haven't gotten any feedback about this blog, so technically nobody demanded it.
It was not intended to sound bad towards the Red Rocker AT ALL. It was more of a shot at my boringness and others' impatience with me.
Nuff Said.

Because NOBODY demanded it... My Sammy Hagar story

On May 31st, 2002 my wife Melissa, my brother Scott, one of my best friends, and I attended the Sammy Hagar/David Lee Roth concert at the DTE Energy Music Theater in Clarkston, Michigan. I have been a huge fan of Sammy Hagar for many years and have been to every concert that's hit Michigan since Van Halen fired him (and three times with Van Halen). With the exception of the VH concerts, I've done artwork for Sammy and his band each time I've seen him. This concert was no exception. At the time of the concert, my fiancee and I were planned to be married and expecting a baby at the end of August. Due to finances, we knew that this would be our last concert for a long time. So, I created a collage drawing for Sammy Hagar of his career. I spent 40 hours on the piece (it was different paper than I'm used to) and I wanted to make sure Sammy got it. In the past I've been able to hand artwork to him during concerts over the heads of front row fans and security. Sometimes I left the artwork for him or his band with a security guard in hopes it would reach the destination, but would be lied to and ignored. I did NOT want this to happen on this occasion. Before I go further, there is a back story that I feel must be said (explain myself better as well as to stroke my ego).

The first tour of Sammy's solo career, my brother Scott, my friend Neal and I got front row seats by dumb, beautiful luck. I did a painting for Sammy and held it up during the show (the background for this page). There were no guards between us and the stage, or even a guard fence. Sammy almost stepped on us when he rushed out on stage! This provided a better chance to give my, for lack of a better word, idol, the painting. He saw the painting a little later and gave me a thumbs up. During a guitar solo by Victor Johnson (great guitarist, great guy), he came over and asked if I wanted the painting signed. My friend, brother and I kept screaming that it was for him and take it. He grabbed it, slapped my hand, shook it, stood up and showed the audience. The next song he sang with it as he rested his arms and legs on top of it! I was in heaven. Later on, at the end of the show, Sammy has fans onstage to sing "Marching to Mars". He had some contest winners up there and pulled some slutty-dressed women from the audience. He walked towards our side of the stage and perused the front row. He scanned and scanned, set his sights on me and PULLED ME UP ONSTAGE to sing on a mic!! My friend Neal got a drumstick from the drummer that he threw to us. It was GREAT!!!
The next time Sammy was in Michigan was in November, 1997 at the Wings Stadium (I think). This time the same crowd went, with four more friends in tow. I did another painting, but this time of Sammy's baby daughter. Click here to view painting. We got up front right away. During the show I held up the painting, but this time guards and guardrails were in the way. Sammy saw the painting numerous times and gave it a thumbs up. We finally asked a guard to put it up onstage where Sammy stood. After awhile Sammy looked down, picked it up and showed the crowd. He started talking about it on the microphone. "Hey man, is this a painting?" He asked. I nodded. He looked at it more. "Is this for me? Man, alright check this out". He showed the audience and continued, "This cat did a painting of me and my daughter Kama. Man I thought you were holding up a f--kin' poster, man!! This is real nice. This is going up in my HOUSE, swear to God. If there's an address or something on the back I'll send ya something. Thanks." And with that he continued the show. It was great. A month later I received a t-shirt, an autographed photo and a note from Sammy that said, "Yo, Jason! Thanks for the painting of me and Kama. Kari just had it framed. It looks GREAT! See you in '98!! Peace, Sammy Hagar". It hangs on my wall with honor.
The next tour I did a bad sloppy painting and took it to the concert. This was in '99. But, I used up my financial aid money for school to go on vacation to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for Sammy's Birthday Bash at the world famous Cabo Wabo Cantina, Sammy's club!! It was beautiful. I went by myself, but took 3 paintings and a drawing. Each night of the 3 concert bash I planned on giving Sammy artwork. I wound up leaving 2 of the paintings in the club's office, which you can see on the interview section of the Sammy Hagar Birthday Bash 1999 video. The other painting I took into the club during a concert to give to Sammy. He wound up signing it and handing back. I'm not complaining. I met his bass player Mona and keyboardist and collaborator Jesse Harms that trip. Mona had actually arranged for me to attend the first of the 3 shows because I was delayed getting to Mexico and told her I'd trade her an autograph for a drawing. The next show I'd done a drawing of her, as well as the rest of the band. I left it at Victor Johnson's feet with a note that said, "Please give to the Waboritas (the band)" After the show Mona was outside with the fans as she did the night before and she thanked me for the artwork. That's when I introduced myself to Jesse Harms. I asked him if he saw the drawing and he hadn't, so he ran up to the office to look at it. He came back and thanked me and signed his own backstage pass and gave it to me. SO, I had Mona sign it too! The drawing I left for the last night, which I ran to get after the show (I stayed around the corner from the Cantina). I came back and couldn't get the drawing to Sammy, but his wife saw it as she was scurried into their vehicle ( the drawing was of him and her).Click here to view the drawing. She saw it and her face lit right up! A security guard was nice enough to put the drawing into the vehicle after Sammy got in. He placed it on their laps and they drove off. Two days later, I returned home to Michigan and 2 days after that, I met my future fiance, Melissa Pendell. That was a great year.
My fiance and I were fortunate enough to meet his band, the Waboritas individually January 8th, 2001 at Kewadin Casinos. I did drawings of each band member and arranged to meet with one of Sammy's people. I wound up leaving the artwork with him before the show and decided to hang out before the show out in the hallway near where I met Sammy's guy. As we waited, Sammy's drummer and longtime friend David Lauser walked up to the room we sat in front of. I introduced myself and told him I did that drawing for him in Cabo. He remembered, signed my tour book and posed for a picture. Little did we know, we were sitting in front of the SECRET entrance for the band!! A few minutes later Vic Johnson the guitarist walked up. As soon as he saw me he knew me, but we'd never met before. He thanked me for the drawing in Mexico and described where he had it hung up and told me he'd send me a picture of it. I told him about the drawing I left inside for him and he ran in and grabbed it. He liked it and posed with it and myself and Melissa. After the show, we ran into Mona and she actually saw me a good 40 yards away and screamed "HEY, JASON!" She thanked for the drawings, signed our stuff, I introduced her to Melissa and she posed for a picture. We also ran into Jesse and he remembered me, signed our stuff and posed for a photo. THEN, he told me to be in the lobby before noon and I might catch Sammy as he's leaving!! Later, Vic told me the same thing!! So, we showed up in the lobby and saw each member of the band come down. We wanted to leave them alone so they could go about their business, but each one came up to us and talked to us!! I thought that was cool! I gave each of them a card and told them anytime they're in Michigan to expect artwork. They went out to the bus and Jesse came back in. As he passed us he told u s Sammy was coming down the elevator and to get ready. We waited and Sammy and his wife Kari came out. It was brief, but I finally met him face to face. He thanked me for taking care of his band and Kari thanked me for the artwork of her and him and Kama. Click here for more photos with Sammy and the Waboritas.
Now, back to where I started.
I arranged with security during the David Lee Roth set to get backstage. They actually worked with me and Sammy's people said it was okay. I took the drawing back and his management were there and LOVED the drawing. His manager went inside to okay with Sammy for me to give it to him and get a picture of him and me with the drawing. He took the drawing inside and I waited. As I waited, Mona came out to talk to me!! She saw the drawing and loved it. I gave her a more recent card and told her about getting married and expecting a baby. She congratulated me and we talked for a little while. Sammy's manager waved me and at the end of the corridor was my man, The Red Rocker Sammy Hagar with a big ol' toothy white grin!! He walked up to me and thanked me for the drawing, shook my hand and told me that it's going up at the Cabo Wabo(The photo above is from this meeting). I told him this would be the last time for awhile I could bring artwork to his concerts, and he stepped back with a surprised and concerned look on his face. "Why, man? What's up? What's wrong?" he asked. I told him that I'm getting married and expecting a baby and everyone in the corridor cheered and shook my hand and congratulated me, as did Sammy. I told him money's tight now and will be for awhile, but I could send him artwork. He seemed okay with that. He got the drawing, looked at it and told me "Man, that's awesome. Thanks." We posed for the photo and said goodbye because he had to get ready for the show. He congratulated me again and later put on a GREAT show, as he always does.

Monday, August 11, 2008

And the Mime Cometh...

More VIETMIME news coming soon....

Ask me about it. Please. Ask. Comment, too.
I need to know who the fans are and if I'm wasting my time here...

Sunday, August 10, 2008


The images here are sketches of my comic version of my OTHER lifelong favorite character and inspiration since the age of 6, Popeye the Sailor. I was 3 years old when the Robin Williams movie came out in 1980 and I watch it ANY chance I get!! It still stands as one of my all time favorite flicks!!
Popeye was created by E.C. Segar in 1929 as a bit character in his hit comic strip "Thimble Theater" starring Olive Oyl and her brother Castor since 1923. He stayed on for a couple weeks, and Segar started getting letters from readers that they liked the one-eyed sailor and he kept Popeye in the storylines, eventually changing the name to "Thimble Theater featuring Popeye".
By 1940, E.C. Segar had passed, and Popeye was introduced to a wider scale audience through Fleischer Studios and later Famous Studios in animated features. He was drawn by various artists, but former Segar assistant Bud Sagendorff took over most of the illustrating for the strips, merchandising and anything related to Popeye when he finally became old enough to be hired.
In the 1990s I noticed less and less Popeye. Bud Sagendorff had passed away in the late 1980s (I think 1989) and except for a failed "Popeye and Son" cartoon on Saturday mornings, not alot of public interest surfaced.
In 1999, comic writer Peter David wrote a story for Ocean Comics called "The Wedding of Popeye and Olive Oyl", which made national news.
In 2004, Popeye fans celebrated the 75th anniversary of his appearance in "Thimble Theater". The Empire State building was lit up green in honor of the sailor's eventual source of strength- spinach.
I say eventual because EC Segar did not create the greanleafed vegetable as Popeye's sourse of strength. It was written that a little whiffle hen named Bernice was a wish-giving ol' bird, and Popeye had rubbed her head and wished to be invulnerable (basically). He had been shot over 15 times by a pirate, only to survive. He was already superhumanly strong, and now he was tough to kill. It wasn't until 1934 that Fleischer Studios gave Popeye a can of spinach as a way to overcome his opposition, be it a goon or Bluto (Brutus in the strip, who was also only a bit character. The cartoon made him Bluto and Popeye's constant nemesis. He eventually became more involved in the strip as well). Popeye's use of spinach caused spinach sales to skyrocket 75% (if I remember correctly. It was alot) internationally.
But I digress.
A CGI movie was released, retelling Popeye's journey to find his dad, Poopdeck Pappy. The name was "Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy", and the voice talents of the original Popeye cartoons, the late Jack Mercer (who did the voice from the original cartoons until his death in the 90s) was replaced by the great Billy West, mumbling the graspy tones of both Popeye and Pappy. Unfortunately, the movie fell under most of the public's radar. It was, in my opinion, a fine cartoon and I hope they continue to do more.
In 2007 and 2008 King Features, who owns the rights to all things Popeye, released the black and white Fleischer Studios episodes on DVD in two volumes, bringing at least a little recognition back to one of the true American icons.
I drew these because I feel that Popeye should return, not as more of a "badass", just more like how Segar had written him, with a comic book style. I would love to do a book of Popeye, just a little grittier than, say, the Robin Williams classic.
I must mention that that movie showed a great deal of Segar's original characters and brought together some of his storylines from the strip, including finding Pappy, meeting Olive, and even the boxing match with Oxblood Oxheart! With the exception of the musical interludes, it was a fine homage to the legend of Popeye to me.