Thursday, December 27, 2007

What Does Superman Do?

Nathan's favorite toy from Christmas is his Superman action figure. He also insists on wearing his Superman jammies whenever he sees them, whether it's time for bed or not. He doesn't call him by name, though. All superheroes are called "B", but this one goes "Whish!" when he flies.

Above: the age old question -- "Marvel or DC?" Nathan seems to prefer DC characters so far. He will be having some discussions in the future with his old man about this!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Moleskine Mondays

For Christmas I received a gift certificate at Barnes & Noble. I knew just what to get! A Moleskine sketchbook! If you don't know what that is, here's a blurb from their website.

MOLESKINE is the legendary notebook that has held the inspirations and ideas of everyone from Van Gogh, Picasso and Hemingway to famed author, Bruce Chatwin. Artists, authors, and geniuses of all variety have long appreciated the simplicity and superior functionality of these notebooks.

Originally these books were produced by small French bookbinders who supplied the Parisian stationery shops frequented by the international avant-garde. However, In 1986, the last manufacturer of Moleskine, a family operation in Tours, closed and Moleskines were gone – but not forgotten. As a result of their previous popularity and demand, they did return. In 1998, a small Milanese publisher brought these books back for writers, artists, travelers and all free-thinkers around the globe.

It looks like I'm in good company! I tried it out tonight while I was waiting at the mall. It is very nice paper and a nice sturdy but flexible sketchbook. I'm thinking Mondays will be Moleskine Mondays, and I'll post a recent sketch from the sketchbook. My New Year's resolution is to try to make better use of the time I spend just waiting (at the doctor's office, etc.) and I'm going to try to keep this baby with me!

It's very popular with a lot of artists, who share ideas on how they use theirs at the Moleskinerie.

Superman Finds New Fans Among Reading Instructors

There's an article in the New York Times today about schools currently using comics in education. It's a really good article called Superman Finds New Fans Among Reading Instructors. Here's a quote from it, but if you are interested, read the whole article here.

Some parents and teachers regard comics, with their sentences jammed into bubbles and their low word-to-picture ratio, as part of the problem when it comes to low reading scores and the much-lamented decline in reading for pleasure. But a growing cadre of educators is looking to comics as part of the solution.

"It's very much a teacher-led kind of movement in that teachers are looking for ways to engage their children, and they're finding some of that in comic books," said Michael Bitz, who founded the Comic Book Project as a graduate student and is now its director. "For kids who may be struggling and for kids who may be new to the English language, that visual sequence is a very powerful tool."
This is no news to me and to many others who learned to read by reading comics, but it's great to see the Establishment coming around.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Just for Fun Comics: The Magnificent Manchester

A friend of mine went on a kayaking trip in the everglades. To commemorate his departure and return I created these pseudo comic cover sketches.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Dinosaurs that ate my Life

If you check this blog from time to time, you've probably noticed I haven't posted any comics work for a long time. That's because my time has been consumed with a really big project at school -- a Family Fun Night & Art Show I organize. It was finally held on November 30. I'm just beginning to get my life back! Here's one picture of a big dinosaur we made and one of our guests, but if you want to see a whole bunch of pictures, visit the Dino Daze Blog.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New Cartoonist for the "Flashlight"

There's a new cartoonist for the college newspaper at Mansfield University, my daughter Anna! About 22 years ago, I drew a comic for them as well. I think her first comics she's done for them are awesome! Here's a couple from her blog.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Castaways -- "Art Appreciation"

I create something for every issue of Fun for Kidz Magazine called The Castaways. Sometimes it's a comic strip and sometimes it's an illustrated story about a family of hares that have been shipwrecked on a deserted island. The characters vaguely resemble my family members, and this particular comic is based on something that happened to Anna, Nathan and I.

Monday, November 19, 2007

New York City

Just got back from having a very enjoyable four days in New York City. I was invited to submit a proposal to present at the National Conference of Teachers of English on the topic of using comics to teach literary devices. My proposal was accepted and I traveled with my fellow members of the Endless Mountains Writing Project to New York City.

It never would have occurred to me to attend a conference for English teachers, but there were dozens of sessions that dealt with the integration of the visual arts into language instruction, etc. And, there was almost always at least one session going on that dealt with using comics to teach!

One of the highlights of the trip was meeting Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon, veteran writer and artist of the comics industry. They are also the editor and writer of the fantastic new graphic adaptation of the 9-11 Report. They basically took something that was unreadable to most people and made it understandable through graphics in the comics format. This book is being used in high schools and colleges now. At their session they explained the process of making the book and answered questions about it.

I picked up a free copy of the book and asked them to sign it for my son. They wrote "To Dan the Man". Ernie is most famous for the 25 years he spent drawing Casper the Friendly Ghost comics so I asked him to draw Casper in my sketchbook. Sid remarked, "You still got it!"

I read their book and highly recommend it. I'll post one page of it below to give you an idea of the quality. It's not a dramatization. They are trying to remain objective and present the facts for us to draw our own conclusions.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Challenge #12: Make a Photo Comic

This was our challenge this week at 52 Comics Challenges:
Homework for Artists & Writers:
Take photos of your friends to use as the drawings in your comic. Create a 1 - 2 page coming using only photos. Reuse photos if necessary, but try to use at least 6-10 photos. Once you have your photos, create your comic like normal, using word balloons, captions and sound effects.
Well, I had to make a flier by Monday to take with me to the National Conference of Teachers of English. I'm not following the guidelines to the challenge exactly, but I did use a couple photos in comic format. I'm afraid it's the best I can do at this point.

I'll be presenting at the conference on the topic of Using Comics to Teach Literary Devices. The flier is to have available in case anyone would want me to come speak at their school on the topic.

The flier I created is here.

Wham! ....smurchle....

Just one panel from an unpublished story I've submitted to an anthology. Can't show you the whole story for free, or who would buy the anthology? Actually, I don't know yet if my story made it in. As soon as I know myself, I'll tell ya!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Dino Daze

Below is a poster I designed to advertise an upcoming event at the school where I teach.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Spaced Out in Color

Dan colored this panel from the comic strip I did called "Spaced Out". You can see the rest of the strip in black and white here.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Gideon: From Wimp to Warrior

My last post was the rough draft of this comic. Here's the final version. Bible stories are interesting, but more than that, I believe that many times there's a message for us in it. This story illustrates how a good leader doesn't just see flaws, they see potential. The best Leader of all sees each one of us not just as we are, but what we're capable of becoming.

Challenge #10: The Fifteen Minute Comic

This was our homework at 52 Comic Challenges this week:

"Now that you’ve pushed yourself through a 24 hour comic, why not try a 15 minute comic?"

Homework for Artists and Writers: Think of it a “gesture drawing” for comics. Take two pieces of letter sized copy paper. Fold them in half and staple to make an 8-page book. Set the timer for 15 minutes and get crackin’. It’ll have to be scribbly and fast to make the deadline so think fast and draw faster! Good Luck!

I used the opportunity to map out an eight page story I had in mind to do. Every year our church has a Pastor's Appreciation Sunday. We give him the day off and a few of us pitch in to take over music, sharing for the day, etc. I had in mind to tell the Bible story of Gideon in comic form. I made two 15 minute comics to plot it out (to be honest I went a little over, but worked as fast as I could in the spirit of the idea). Then I drew four pages of it. I'd like to finish the next four pages soon.

I put the comic story in Powerpoint format and shared it today. A lot of work, but everyone said they liked it. I believe comics have the power to teach, even the important messages that are in this story. In this post, I'll share a few pages of the rough draft.

"Gideon: From Wimp to Warrior"

Keeping Busy!

Sometimes Life conspires to keep me from making comics. One example is helping my son finish his Eagle project. He organized work days to scrape, restore, caulk, prime and paint the windows of a church. Hundreds of hours of labor later and he finally finished. The least I could do was help!

Here's a before and after picture of one of the windows. He has more on his blog Photoshopaholic. Finally I got to do some drawing yesterday -- 8 hours straight to make four pages of comics. I'll post those later.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Artwork Trade

Bob Learned is one of the other participants in 52 Comics Challenges. He had this idea to do an art trade. He would draw one of my characters and I would draw one of his. I think it's kind of neat to see the characters drawn in someone else's style. Here's his drawing of Andar and my drawing of Claf & Steve -- with Andar.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Personality Profile Test

Click to view my Personality Profile page

At the same website I mentioned below, they offer a personality test. According to this test I'm an Mentor/Visionary. As an art teacher, I suppose that's a good thing to be. I think these kinds of things are interesting. It's good to know what your strengths and weaknesses are. When others are strong where you are weak, they might drive you nuts sometimes, but they can also be a great asset to you.

What Kind of Smart are You?

Click to view my Personality Profile page

According to Multiple Intelligences theory, there are different kinds of smart. In school, our teachers were very impressed with those who did well with logical/mathematical and verbal/linguistic tasks, while those who did well with musical, visual spatial, or kinesthetic projects were often made to feel like we were "dumb".

The question is, what kind of smart are you? You can take a test at

I wouldn't say it's scientifically perfect, but it will give you an overview. For instance, I really enjoy music, but am not real good at it. I think the test measured my enjoyment and said that I was 100% musical.

It is a very interesting theory and worth looking into for parents, educators, or anyone.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Challenge #8: Juxtaposition, or "A Team for Andar"

Juxtaposition is the act of putting two different elements together, to create a reaction or feeling in the reader, be it contrast, comparison, irony or something else. You might have worked with a Random Plot Generator before. But you probably have a great random plot generator right in your hall closet! Pictionary cards can give you a great list of concepts and elements to incorporate into a short comic to exercise your improv skills.

Homework for Artists and Writers:
Pull a card from a Pictionary deck and draw a one page comic that includes all 5 items on the card. They can have as little or as much importance in the comic as you like. As a footnote to the comic or in your blog post, list the 5 items that had to be included. Think about Juxtaposition as you combine unlikely elements.

Well, this is the comic I created for Challenge #8. We don't have Pictionary, but we do have Pictionary Jr. The five objects I had to include in my comic were: bar code, blindfold, bulldozer, black cat and banjo. Here it is!

Challenge #7: Draw a Silent Comic

Draw or script a one or two page comic with absolutely no dialogue or sound effects.

This was our challenge this week at 52 Comic Challenges. Silent comics can be tough. As comics artists, how much can we say without words? We shouldn't always rely on word balloons and sound effects to tell our stories. How does silence effect stories? When silent panels appear in a comic, the reader has to “read” the elements in the panel and causes them to examine the panel longer. While doing this exercise, we focused on how we can use silent panels effectively within our own work.

For my assignment, I created one page of a story called The Silent Storm. I did it as an exercise, so I don't really have any plans for where it's going beyond this one page.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Mighty Andar -- Spaced Out

Think about the way you sneeze. For most people, there are three steps: Preparation, Execution and Recovery. Most actions can be shown effectively in these same three steps. Think of a golf swing: the golfer pulling the club gback, the contact of the club and the ball, and the follow through of the club and the ball flying through the air.

This week's challenge at 52 Challenges was to apply the "sneeze theory" to show action in several three panel strips. This exercise can help cartoonists refine their visual storytelling technique and try several different types of action. Paying attention to the sneeze theory will make sure that you are always picking three of the most important parts of the action.

Now, for a limited time only -- while supplies last... Leave a comment - get a sticker! Yes, that's right. Leave a comment, then email me your snail mail address. A T.A.I.L.S or Mighty Andar Sticker will soon arrive in the mail. Be the envy of all your friends. Claim your sticker today!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Caricature Idol

Last spring, when American Idol frenzy was at its peak, I did a unit on caricature with my fifth grade classes. They enjoyed choosing to draw one of the contestants in the Top Ten that was either one of their favorites or one they really wanted to see go. While I did this unit, I did my own drawings of each of the Top Twelve. Some were not more than quick sketches, but these are the ones that turned out best and that I spent a little more time on.

The kids also wrote a paragraph about who they wanted to win and why, or who they thought should be voted off or why. They really got excited about writing about this hugely popular show. I think if I do it next year, I'll even design a rubric. They'll be able to earn a 2, a 3, or a 4.

2= Fair. Paula loves it!
3= Good. Randy thought it needed some work, but you're still one of his dogs.
4= Great. Even Simon thinks it's awesome!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Challenge #5: Draw an Instructional Comic

Our challenge this week at 52 Comic Challenges is to draw an instructional comic.

I ask each of my students to bring in an old shirt from home to use as a paint smock when they come to art class. It's just one old shirt that they can keep in their home room locker and bring each time. You'd be amazed at how few bring them in, even after sending notes home, etc. Yet I still get notes from parents who are upset about paint on their children's clothing!

I made this instructional comic to send home with my students to remind them to bring a smock. Hopefully it's a fun way to get their attention and help them remember. We'll see if it works!

The Mighty Andar -- Taking Care of Business

Consider this entry "extra credit" for Challenge #3 of 52 Challenges, "Draw a Song".