Sunday, January 30, 2011

In memory of Lisa Nguyen

A few weeks ago, I was informed of the death of Lisa Nguyen, a 27 yr. old artist. I had met Lisa through another friend several years ago. Lisa was always very friendly and outgoing every time I met her, and her best friend would tell me of their many hilarious adventures the two of them had over the years.

Lisa's death is even more tragic, as she was murdered. The entire ordeal is a huge tragedy, and out of respect to her memory, her family and her friends, I'm not going to use this space to recount that incident. The fact that Lisa is gone is such a terrible fact by itself.

What I will share with you is that all my memories of Lisa are those of a young woman with a huge zest for living, a true passion for all matters of art, and a person with very close relationships with her large group of friends. I can't claim a close friendship with her, as I really only saw her through her best friend (my girlfriend at the time). I felt a real gratitude toward Lisa, because she would remark that I was 'good' for her best friend! But I feel she and I considered one another friends, because Lisa just made me feel that way.

The grief for those who knew, and loved her, has been tremendous. But so has the outpouring of support, friendship and love. I created the above piece of art for the tribute show her friends have put together to honor Lisa's life and artistry. 

The Fabulous Life of Lisa Nguyen
A tribute show
February 6 – 10, 2011

Opening Reception:
Sunday, February 6th in the Werby Gallery, 5:00-7:00PM
Student Gallery courtyard at Cal State University, Long Beach
Gallery Hours:
Monday – Thursday, 12:00- 5:00PM
Wednesday 12:00-7:00PM

Proceeds from the sale of work go toward the Lisa Nguyen Memorial Scholarship

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My upcoming comics for 2011 and beyond...

I'm working on my latest comic book right now, I've written a script for another book to be illustrated by another artist, and my research for a 3rd project has begun. Here's a look at what I have coming up in my publishing plans for 2011:


In the time since Pt 1 was published, we saw the publication of MANGA MUERTO Vol 1, MAN-SWAMP, COMIC POP, The COMIC POP SKETCHBOOK and the limited edition WANTED:WEAPON TEX-MEX (all currently available in my Web Shop!). But now it's time to finally getting back to the continuing adventures of El Muerto!

Here's the first page I've inked. It's not actually the first page of the comic, but I wanted to start off with working on a splash page as a way to hit the ground running. Also, this way I have something to show you with a little extra pizzaz! The page needs just a couple of details finished, then it will be scanned and taken into Photoshop for the inevitable clean-up. 

Here are a couple of shots of my thumbnails, the 'rough drafts' of the actual story:

I plan out the majority of the issue in my head, kind of like running a movie in my brain, where I literally see the visual narrative of the story. Then I scrawl out the story onto paper, often noting the placement of word balloons. Sometimes I'll add the dialogue, but more often than not I keep drawing, as I haven't decided upon the exact words I want the characters to say, although I know what the scene is about, and how they're expressing themselves. Once I'm done doing the thumbnails for the whole book, I'll pencil and ink the entire story, at full size, after which I scan the pages into the computer. I bring the images into Illustrator and create the word balloons, and dialogue the entire story, at this stage.

I'll be posting lots more about the production of DEAD & CONFUSED Pt 2 over the next several months, along with sneak peeks and publishing dates/details. The other comic that I currently have in the works is:


 Dead Dinosaurio, Sharpie drawing on canvas board.

This comic is a change of pace from the Muerto story I'm working
on for several reason. One of the things about this comic is that it's conceived and geared to be an All-Ages book, meaning the content is appropriate for younger aged readers. Clean, action-packed, comic book fun, like a Saturday morning cartoon. The other thing that makes this book different is that while I created all the characters, I'm only going to writing this one. I'm working with a fellow comic book creator, John Narcomey, who'll be penciling and inking the book. We're doing a coin toss who see who'll color it!
BatiCalaca, acrylic painting on canvas.

John's the creator of GHOST FACE, JUNGLE JIVE and a few other titles. I've know him for some years. A lot of times, artists tell each other "We should work on a project together." Well, the timing, and project, were right, and so John's on board to help me launch the CALACAS OF JUSTICE. I'm finishing up some of the character designs for John, but I'll update you folks here in the coming months on the progress of that book as well, including the first look at John's take on these characters.

Spider-Calaca, acrylic painting on canvas.

Who are the Calacas of Justice? A team of superheroes from the afterlife city of Posadaville. 'Calacas' are the skeletal figures which are commonly used in the art of Dia de Los Muertos (The Mexican Day of the Dead). These characters are inspired by the popular superhero archetypes we all know and love. Visually, I wanted to give them a certain design that calls to mind those illegal, knock-off toys you occassionaly see of Superman or X-Men, for example. The colors and details are sometimes off, but they resemble the original characters to a point. But they're often wonderfully garish and bizarre looking.

 Calaca Americano, digital drawing created in Adobe Illustrator.


My final major project I'm working on this year is Top Secret. It's a fictional tale based on a real person. A famous person, for that matter. What's really interesting for me is to actually be researching my subject. I've never really had to do much research for my previous comics, other than the usual visual references (what's a crocodile look like, carnival scenes, taking photographs in my city, etc.).

But due to the fact that this is based on a real person, I wanted to get a pretty good idea how the person thinks, acts, talks, etc, plus accumulate as many relevant biographical anecdotes as possible. This has included purchasing a handful of books (autobiographic & biographic) and DVDs, and even getting a Researcher's ID card at particular local library/museum. Also, doodling the character's likeness, along with other supporting characters, is something I do to help me get familiar with the subjects.

The primary focus about this Top Secret project that I'll be working on, while I produce the new El Muerto and collaborate on the CALACAS, will be to continue taking notes from the various books and films I'll be watching when I'm away from the art table. I won't start drawing any of the actual pages until El Muerto and the CALACAS are done and printed. I'll also be updating you here as I go along into the research, and how it impacts my storytelling. My best estimate is that I'll start drawing this book in the Fall of this year. For now though, I guess we can refer to this mystery comic as:

One word about another project people have asked me about. Last year I announced that my political/satirical comic, DEMOLITION DOVE, was going to debut as a web comic. Well, it's still going to be my first webcomic, but I'm going to move it to next year. 

What happened was that after the horrific tragedy in Arizona, with the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and the murder of 6 innocent bystanders, the airwaves were filled with all kinds of emotional and vitriolic talk about violence and the so-called 'targeting of politicians' by political 'hate speech'. Well, I'm not going to turn this post into my own political rant on the subject, but it was because of this climate that I decided to hold off a year on putting my story out in the public arena. Of course, predictably, even as the President himself declared that the shooting was not a direct result of the influence of political speech, the same hysterical feuds between the left and the right have resumed. There really is no hope for the two parties, is there? And to be very honest, having the webcomic run during the 2012 election year is just a way more smarter move, as a publisher!

DEMOLITION DOVE deals with an alternate world, parallel to ours to a point, populated by a different species. Think PLANET OF THE APES with bird people. It's a nightmarish world, told through scorching satire and black humor, where the most extremist elements of the left wing and the right wing are battling for control of the government, the media is an immoral law unto itself, and the world's terrorists have formed a corporation. 

The main protagonist deals with it in the only way that works in this world gone mad:

 (You can read the Demolition Dove preview story online at Webcomics Nation by clicking here)

There will be no shortage of targets and bullseyes and surveyor's symbols in this book! But, and I'm going to have to make sure to repeat this periodically, this is a fictional, satirical story, not a blueprint for political assassination

So these are the primary comic book projects that I have on the assembly line. There may be a short story or two that pop up, and of course there are other matters to attend to this year, like conventions, my increasing amount of comic book workshops and any other artistic endeavors that I end up pursuing. But this year, the focus for me will be on producing some new comic books!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Personalized artwork from a student and an El Muerto birthday party

Last evening in my comic book class, one of my students gave me this:

Me dreaming about my comic book creation, El Muerto...! 

The student's name is Matthew, and for Christmas I had given him a sketchbook to encourage him to keep a lot of his drawings together in one place. I met his parents at a Starbuck's over the Christmas break and gave them the gift. That's such a cool drawing, and very much appreciated.
Matthew was in my class last Fall, and I actually met him and his parents earlier that year at a local library where I was doing a Live Art presentation with the Cartoonistas. One day I received an email from his mother asking if I'd be willing to perform a Live Art/comic drawing demostration at her son's upcoming birthday party. I thought it was a neat idea, and so we settled on a price and some months later I did my first ever birthday party performance. We even ordered a custom-made El Muerto piƱata for Matthew! And his mom had ordered a custom-made El Muerto cake as well. It was a superhero themed party, so the whole day turned out to be a real fun event, even for the kids!

It's great to see such supportive parents of a talented child. Matthew's got a lot of creative outlets for his talents, and there's no reason to think he won't remain active with his art as he gets older. 

Thanks to Matthew for the wonderful drawing he gave me, and to Ben & Cathy for being supportive of my work as well!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Comic book workshop starts this week in Pico Rivera

This week I'll be conducting a couple of 5 week Comic Book Workshops at Pico Park in Pico Rivera, CA.

If you know of any young artists who like drawing and telling stories, consider signing them up for my class. I've been teaching classes in the city of Pico Rivera for about 7 years now, and I'm always glad to see a new group of kids taking the class and seeing their individual takes on comics creating.

If you need any more info, please call or email the Park at:

Or email me directly at:

You can also register online at:
Pico Park Online Registration