Category Archives: Animation

Ani­ma­tion-relat­ed work.

X‑Men: The Art and Making of the Animated Series

Most vis­i­tors here know that my first job in ani­ma­tion was on X‑Men: the Ani­mat­ed Series. I’ve not exact­ly kept that a secret. I learned a lot on that show, not only from my boss Lar­ry Hous­ton, but also from my co-work­ers. When I start­ed, I knew only the basics about how ani­ma­tion was done. I knew more about comics. But that kind of knowl­edge was def­i­nite­ly help­ful on this show.

Some­thing else I’ve learned, as time has passed, is that there are a lot of peo­ple who real­ly loved the show. A lot. When you have co-work­ers who dis­cov­er you worked on it tell you, “Oh, I loved that show! it was my favorite as a kid!”, there are mixed feel­ings. But seri­ous­ly, it’s good to find out that you’ve con­tributed to some­thing that peo­ple have loved that much.

And, to my sur­prise, the love is appar­ent­ly so much that X‑Men Sto­ry Edi­tors the Lewalds were con­tact­ed by Abrams Books, and asked to do a book on the art of the show! Which is now avail­able on Ama­zon.

Of course at first, they attempt­ed to see if any­one knew where the orig­i­nals were. But after all this time, who knows which box in which stor­age facil­i­ty that stuff might live in, for a stu­dio that no longer exists?

So that meant reach­ing out to all us artists who worked on the show, to see what we might still have after all these years. And per­son­al­ly, X‑Men being my first job in ani­ma­tion, and com­ic-relat­ed, I made and kept copies of pret­ty much every­thing I did for the show. So I had a lot. And so did oth­ers. With­out that, this book prob­a­bly would have had very few pictures.

By way of cel­e­brat­ing, I thought I’d share some pieces that very few out­side the stu­dio have ever seen (I’m not sure whether these are in the book or not). Lat­er in the show’s run, after Lar­ry had moved on to oth­er projects for Mar­vel, his for­mer assis­tant on the show, Frank Squil­lace, end­ed up in the Producer/Director chair. At this point, I was begin­ning to do more design on the show, not just char­ac­ter mod­el clean-up, as design­er Frank Brun­ner became more involved in oth­er projects for the studio.

My rec­ol­lec­tion of this is a bit fuzzy now, but I believe it was Frank S. who ini­tial­ly sug­gest­ed we re-design the show. The look of the show had been orig­i­nal­ly based on Jim Lee’s art in the com­ic, and by this time, Lee had long since left Mar­vel to become one of Image Comics’ founders. At this point in the comics, the look of X‑Men was informed by the art of Joe Madureira. Madureira’s work was more ani­mé- or gam­ing-influ­enced. So not only was it the cur­rent X‑Men look, it also seemed like going this route with the show would be more animation-friendly.

With Madureira’s work in mind, Frank S. and I col­lab­o­rat­ed on some re-designs of the char­ac­ters, as well as gen­er­at­ing some who had­n’t appeared in the show before (at least offi­cial­ly). We felt like we were on to some­thing here. In fact, as oth­ers at the stu­dio found out about what we were try­ing to do, they were excit­ed. Will Meugniot, who had a big hand in launch­ing the show orig­i­nal­ly in the first place, told us one day that he loved the idea too. He gave us his bless­ing, and said he was ful­ly on-board with it.

Obvi­ous­ly it did it not end up hap­pen­ing, or you would have seen these. When you work in ani­ma­tion (or enter­tain­ment in gen­er­al) for any length of time, you dis­cov­er that behind the scenes, there are always things like this that would have been cool, but did­n’t end up hap­pen­ing for one rea­son or anoth­er. So this is a fun “might have been.”

I hope peo­ple enjoy the book, and thanks to the Lewalds for reach­ing out and invit­ing me to contribute!

Come Sail Away!

I’m sure many of you out there have heard of Sailor Moon. The inter­est­ing thing is that this char­ac­ter has been around for longer than most peo­ple real­ize. Back in the mid-/late-’70s, Mar­vel Comics licensed the rights to the char­ac­ter, and Jack Kir­by did a com­ic. Col­lec­tors who know about it often have a hard time turn­ing up copies of this book. This is a scan of a pan­el from that rare comic…

…Not buy­ing it? Okay, I con­fess; I just told you a big, fat, stinky lie. Jack Kir­by nev­er drew Sailor Moon (at least, not to my knowl­edge!). This is me. There’s appar­ent­ly this inter­net meme that all the cool kids are doing, where you take this one par­tic­u­lar image of Sailor Moon and draw it in your style. It occurred to me that it might be fun to put a spin on it and do it Jack Kir­by style.

One oth­er con­fes­sion: Sailor Moon is a bit after my time. Grow­ing up, the Japan­ese ani­ma­tion that I got to see on TV were things like Speed Rac­er, Kim­ba the White Lion and (my favorite of these) Tobor the 8th Man (I often get a lot of blank looks when I men­tion that one). Even though I’m prob­a­bly late to this par­ty, I thought it might be fun to get in on this meme.

Art Vs. Artist!

So there’s this thing, and I guess all the cool kids are doing it over on the Twit­ters and the Insta­grams. It’s called “Art Vs. Artist.” You put some of your work togeth­er in this for­mat, along with a pic­ture of your­self in the cen­ter. It seemed like some­thing that might be sor­ta fun to take a crack at, so here we go!

To be hon­est, I’m not entire­ly sure what all the rules are (if there are any), so I’m prob­a­bly break­ing some of them. I did get the idea that this was sup­posed to cen­ter around faces, so there’s at least that. Some of these sam­ples are more recent and oth­ers slight­ly old­er. At the moment, I feel like this works pret­ty well. If I were to attempt this again tomor­row, it’s pos­si­ble I could pick a few oth­er images.

I feel like I might be break­ing one of the rules with my pho­to in the cen­ter. It’s (obvi­ous­ly) not a cur­rent self­ie. Not by a long shot! That’s a 12 year-old me, on my birth­day. If you could see more of the pic­ture, you’d see I was attempt­ing to paint a pic­ture (using oils) of the USS Enter­prise fir­ing on a Klin­gon ship. Why that pho­to? I fig­ure: don’t we all start some­place like that as artists? Every­thing else flows from that.

Harvey Girls Forever! Part 6

So I talked a bit about work­ing on this show in my ear­li­er five posts about it (which should be eas­i­ly find­able here on the site). The last two sea­sons are now on Net­flix, which means I can final­ly show my sto­ry­board revi­sion work from those episodes!

As I men­tioned before, my work kind of has an unin­ten­tion­al “tell.” You can usu­al­ly spot it by the “non-pho­to blue” under­draw­ing, unless the direc­tor chose to remove it. I’m only includ­ing a sam­ple of this new work here with this post. You can find even more in the Har­vey Girls For­ev­er! sec­tion of my Sto­ry­board Revi­sion port­fo­lio, on the Gal­leries side of my site.

One fun aspect of these last two sea­sons was that we got to bring Richie Rich (“The Poor Lit­tle Rich Boy”) into the show, as part of our reg­u­lar cast. With Richie’s resources, that opened up a whole lot more sto­ry pos­si­bil­i­ties, and things got even wilder!

It was a real priv­i­lege to be select­ed to work on this project, as one of the first revi­sion­ists they hired. The ini­tial draw for me was get­ting to revis­it these char­ac­ters I remem­bered from Har­vey Comics, in a form that was slight­ly updat­ed for mod­ern audi­ences. But as with any­thing in ani­ma­tion, that’s only part of what makes for a good expe­ri­ence on a show. I also got to meet and work with some very tal­ent­ed folks, all of whom brought a lit­tle of them­selves to the project. They all had a part in mak­ing this show the unique and spe­cial project it was.

Much love and respect always, fel­low Har­vey Kids!

What Have I Done??”

So back when I first start­ed this site, I had in mind cre­at­ing a tra­di­tion of doing Franken­stein-relat­ed art for Hal­loween, when I had time. It’s been awhile since I did one. So here you go!

Mil­ton the Mon­ster is one of those car­toons from my child­hood that I’ve always looked back on fond­ly. Cer­tain car­toon prop­er­ties are well-remem­bered and seem to come back for revivals every so often. Mil­ton is one of those car­toons that seems to have slid into obscu­ri­ty, unfor­tu­nate­ly. Most car­toon fans either don’t remem­ber it, or have nev­er heard of it.

For those who don’t know about the show, the con­cep­t’s right there in the show’s theme song! Take a look. I had­n’t watched the show in a long time, so doing this cov­er was an excuse to watch some episodes and refresh my mem­o­ry. Yes, it’s def­i­nite­ly lim­it­ed TV ani­ma­tion, and the jokes can get a lit­tle corn­ball, but I still get a kick out of it. If some­one were to actu­al­ly do a revival of this show, it would be a blast to be involved!

Search­ing for actu­al char­ac­ter mod­els to draw from, I could­n’t find any. I have a sense that TV ani­ma­tion in the ’60s some­times had a much broad­er inter­pre­ta­tion of “on-mod­el” than what it does now, or even when I start­ed work­ing in ani­ma­tion in the ear­ly ’90s. It’s sur­pris­ing to see how much the look of the char­ac­ters on this show can fluc­tu­ate from episode to episode, depend­ing on the animator.

And of course, this had to be a Gold Key cov­er. They actu­al­ly did pub­lish one issue of a Mil­ton the Mon­ster com­ic back in the mid-’60s. If you were a kid in the ’60s and want­ed to buy a com­ic book fea­tur­ing your favorite ani­mat­ed character(s), Gold Key had the rights pret­ty much sewn up to all of them!

Any­way, I hope you enjoy this. And Hap­py Halloween!

Harvey Girls Forever! Part 5

The day is final­ly here! Net­flix has released sea­son 2 of Har­vey Girls For­ev­er! (for­mer­ly known as Har­vey Street Kids). The kids are run­ning around loose and free!

I’ve been wait­ing to be able to post some of my board revi­sion work on the show. Due to respect­ing  the NDA (Non-Dis­clo­sure Agree­ment) I orig­i­nal­ly signed, I was unable to post any of this work until the sea­son came out and I got clear­ance to post some of it. Which I just received today! I am very hap­py to be able to final­ly post this work!

I’m only post­ing a few scenes here up front. There’s a lot more of them to see over in the Sto­ry­board Revi­sion Port­fo­lio on the Gal­leries side of my site here.

My board revi­sion work kind of has an unin­ten­tion­al “tell.” You can usu­al­ly spot it by the “non-pho­to” blue under­draw­ing (unless the direc­tor chose to remove it). I fig­ure hav­ing that there does­n’t hurt, because it shows the ani­ma­tors what the thought process was behind the draw­ing, and that maybe it might even make for bet­ter animation.

I was the first revi­sion­ist hired on Har­vey Girls, and I got to do a lot of fun, goofy, cre­ative stuff. Despite some of the bumps in the road along the way (every show has them), it was a priv­i­lege to be a part of this series. I got to work along­side a whole bunch of real tal­ent­ed and cre­ative folk…some of whom I had worked with on a pre­vi­ous series, oth­ers who I met for the first time on this show.

Much love and respect always, to Bren­dan, Ali­ki and all my fel­low Har­vey Kids on the crew! I’m proud of the work we did (and glad I can final­ly post some of mine)!

Harvey Girls Forever! Part 4

Here’s install­ment #4, of my countdown/celebration of the return of Har­vey Girls For­ev­er! to Net­flix, this Fri­day May 10th!

Today’s Post-It draw­ings are a pen­cil draw­ing of the Bow, and Tiny dressed up as Frankenstein.

Unlike the oth­er draw­ings I’ve been post­ing, this draw­ing of the Bow seemed like it should stay in pen­cil. It seemed to give it a bit of the feel­ing of an engrav­ing some­how, or an Edward Gorey drawing.

And Tiny, always want­i­ng to be taller, is of course wear­ing a Franken­stein cos­tume. Specif­i­cal­ly, it’s based on Dick Briefer­’s comedic take that he did for a bit back in the Gold­en Age of comics. I did­n’t mess up the draw­ing on the mask; that’s how he drew the nose, way up high like that! I kind of talked a bit about Briefer­’s Franken­stein here.

That’s it for these Post-It draw­ings. If things go accord­ing to plan, I should be able to post some of my board revi­sion work from Har­vey Girls For­ev­er! tomor­row at some point.

Harvey Girls Forever! Part 3

Wel­come back to our countdown/celebration! Har­vey Girls For­ev­er! starts a new sea­son this Fri­day, May 10th, on Net­flix! I’ve been putting up Post-It draw­ings I did dur­ing breaks, while I was on the show.

Two for you today! Audrey as Furiosa, and Tiny as Shaft.

Audrey was always fun to draw on the show. It took me no time at all to fig­ure out who she was: that kid who was total­ly impul­sive and ener­getic, fun to be around…and prob­a­bly would get you into some trou­ble. But you’d sure have fun while doing it!

And Tiny was a lot of fun too, for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. He was the kid who was a lit­tle small­er than every­one else, and could­n’t wait to be big. Despite his size though, he already had a big heart. Seemed like fun to have him cos­play­ing as Shaft (though most like­ly his par­ents would­n’t have let him see that movie yet).

Tune in tomor­row for anoth­er installment!

Harvey Girls Forever! Part 2

Wel­come back to my lit­tle countdown/celebration of the return of Har­vey Girls For­ev­er!, return­ing to Net­flix this Fri­day, May 10th!

Here’s anoth­er Post-It draw­ing, done dur­ing a break on the show. As I men­tioned yes­ter­day, Post-It draw­ings like this are a fun way of tak­ing ideas that lodge them­selves in your brain and clear­ing them out by get­ting them on paper.

This time it’s the Bow! The Bow was always some­thing of a crew favorite. I guess it was some­thing to do with the fact she’s the type of per­son who march­es to her own beat, and does­n’t care what any­one else thinks.

Reg­u­lar vis­i­tors to my site might recall that I’ve done a play on the OBEY stick­ers before, but the Bow sort of seemed to loan her­self to this too.

Thanks for tun­ing in! More to come tomorrow.

Harvey Girls Forever! Part 1

So com­ing up this Fri­day, May 10th, Net­flix debuts the next sea­son of Har­vey Street Kids, now re-titled Har­vey Girls For­ev­er! By way of celebrating/counting down, I thought it might be fun to post some of the Post-It draw­ings I did of some of the char­ac­ters dur­ing breaks.

It’s been awhile since I put up any Post-It draw­ings. I’ve prob­a­bly felt too com­pelled to have to always put up fin­ished work here. Post-It draw­ings like this used to be a lot more com­mon sight when ani­ma­tion stu­dios still worked on paper. It’s not as com­mon now, but our sto­ry­board revi­sions crew had some­thing of a wall of Post-It draw­ings like this going while we were on the show. Kind of a fun way to get goofy ideas out of your head by get­ting them onto paper.

Just Dot today. If you’ve watched the show, the idea of her cos­play­ing as Spock makes a lot of sense.

Stay tuned! More to come tomorrow.