Monday, December 19, 2011

Saul Bass' Strait Jacket

I have no idea how or why I got the idea to a Saul Bass-inspired poster for the Joan Crawford/William Castle B-horror movie Strait Jacket, of all things--but I did, so here it is!

The original image that popped into my head was an all-white poster with criss-crossed black lines to suggest the tied-up sleeves. But since no one actually wears a strait-jacket in the movie, a giant axe seemed more of a "grabber", so I went with that. The lines came in back in at the end, suggesting even more that things are seriously off-kilter.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monster PSA: Ornella Muti

As soon as I saw that Netflix Watch Instantly added Flash Gordon to its list of streaming movies, I added it to my queue and hit Play. As a kid, I was totally smitten with Ornella Muti as Ming's daughter, one in a long line of babes from genre movies I saw as a kid that interested me for reasons I couldn't at the time quite comprehend.

So what advice would Ms. Muti give? Well, considering how much trouble she got everyone into by falling in love Flash...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Saul Bass' Before Sunrise

There's a new book out about the work of Saul Bass, one of my all-time favorite movie poster designers, so I got inspired to do my own Bass-esque movie posters. Hardly an original idea, but it really seemed like fun and I wanted to try it!

My first idea was to do a Saul Bass take on Before Sunrise, my all-time favorite movie. While the end result didn't come out quite the way I hoped, I had a lot of fun doing this and I think I want to try some more of these...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mr. Scratch

Mea culpa: I was so busy with Ace Kilroy, getting a few weeks ahead on my Movie Monday column on my writing blog, working on The Aquaman Shrine, and finishing up an illustration job that it didn't dawn on me until around dinnertime Sunday that I didn't have anything new prepared for today!

I was ready to just skip the whole thing, since I really wasn't inspired to come up with anything. But it bothered me that I haven't missed a week on this blog for over a year and didn't want to start now, so the professional in me kicked in and I whipped up this faux-vintage paperback book cover. Certainly no masterpiece; but sometimes you just have to show up.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I probably need to stop calling these covers I do faux-vintage paperback book covers because there's nothing about Paranoia. that seems vintage to me, in any form.

I've been wanting to get away from the same tropes I tend to use, looking for something more hand-drawn, more loose, more gritty. This cover is only a few steps in that direction, but I like how it came out and want to try more like this.

I don't know why I added the period at the end of the title; it just looked right to me.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Village Voice - 11/16/11

I was asked to do the above portrait of NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly (no relation) for the cover to the 11/16/11 edition of The Village Voice.

The VV showed me the rough layout they had in mind for the cover; a Russian Constructvist-type thing, and I immediately knew what they were going after, since I'm a big fan of that style. The portrait went through a couple of stages, and as it developed it got looser and rougher, to better convey that DIY feel.

I'm happy to see a piece of mine on a cover like this; I think its beautifully composed and really gets the message across. This is my first piece for The Village Voice, I hope its not my last!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lilian Bond

I've been so busy the past couple of weeks I haven't had time to think about more complex pieces, but I always want to be working on something, so I whipped up this simple portrait of actress Lilian Bond, whom I'm most familiar with from James Whale's The Old Dark House.

I used to do tons of these straightforward portraits back in the early years, when I was first developing this style, so it was kinda nice to go back to that time with this.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Live @ The Steve Allen Theater

My pal, actor, and all-around good egg Damian Maffei asked me to put together this flyer for the show he's appearing in on Saturday, 11/12: a staged reading of two plays, By Bizarre Hands and Suckerfish.

Even though the deadline was very tight (Damian told me about it on Friday, and the flyer needed to be done on Monday), I had the time of my life putting this together. I love doing pure graphic design pieces like this, where putting all the elements into a pleasing, attractive layout is like working on a puzzle--a really, really fun puzzle.

It only took a couple of hours to put it together, and after some minor tweaks here and there, the final version was ready to go by late Saturday. Damian showed it off on his FB page, and all the participants seemed to be happy. I told Damian that I'd volunteer to do any and all flyers like this in the future, absurdly-tight deadline or no!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

San Diego Union Tribune Night & Day Cover

This is the cover to the October 27 edition of Night & Day, the free entertainment magazine that's part of the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper.

This is the second cover I've done for Night & Day, and it was a challenge, to say the least! I submitted a couple of different cover concepts for their "2011 Super Dining Guide" and I did this one last, figuring (hoping?) they wouldn't go for it, because it was so complex and the deadline was very tight. Guess what happened?

Anyway, in between trips to NYC to attend the 2011 NY Comic Con, I worked on this cover panel by panel. I did the easy ones first, to feel like I was on a roll, and then moved onto the more complicated ones.

I was aided immeasurably by my pal and master cosplayer Roxanna Meta, who I figured would have at least some good shots of her and her friends in superhero costumes that I could use as reference. I was right, and that's her at the bottom right, peering out from behind a giant menu. I used a shot of a friend of hers dressed as The Flash, but then reworked it so the anonymous speedster is carrying some yummy take-out.

It was a lot of work, but I'm proud of the final result and that I could stay focused enough to get it all done in time. I enjoy doing these Night & Day covers, I hope there's more in my future.

(BTW, click the graphic to see a larger version)

Monday, November 7, 2011

She, Robot

I took a couple of weeks off from my faux-paperback book covers but they're never gone for long; this one is an icky hybrid of sci-fi and sex book that I'd probably read if it existed.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Real Ace Kilroy?

Being the writer, not the artist, on a creative project is new for me, and I have to say so far I've been enjoying it. But of course that didn't stop me from doing my own portrait of our creation, Ace Kilroy.

My co-creator Dan O'Connor initially used actor Clint Walker as the model for Ace. Over time Dan's talent took over and he made Ace into his own person, but I went back to Clint as the model for my portrait, which wasn't meant to be anything more than a messy little doodle.

Go read Ace Kilroy!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Welcome to the World of Ace Kilroy!

In lieu of a new illustration this Monday, I'm highlighting a long-gestating project that goes live today: Ace Kilroy!

Ace Kilroy is the creation of artist Dan O'Connor and me; its a brand-new online daily comic strip launching today over on!

Ace Kilroy is a project Dan and I have been working on for over a year. He and I attended the Joe Kubert School together, and from the beginning I was impressed by the quality of his work: Dan had a crisp, simple style, dynamic but not flashy--perfect for comic books, and I resented the hell out of him for it!

Anyway, over the intervening decades(!), Dan and I lost touch, and then we ran into one another again virtually on Facebook and then in something called Real Life at the 2009 New York Comic Con. Dan was telling me some horror stories (stories I was all too familiar with in my own life as an artist) about doing comic book work, and I was simultaneously angry and bewildered that a guy this talented has had to deal with some at times shady comic book publishers. Little did I realize, but Ace Kilroy was born on the ride home from the con.

Within a couple of months, I had formulated a basic concept of the strip, what it would be, what kind of tone I was aiming for, and I knew Dan would be the perfect artist to bring it to life: he and I are both aficionados of 30s and 40s culture (Americana specifically), and since Ace Kilroy starts off in 1937 and would steeped in that world, I knew Dan could really sink his artistic teeth into it.

Luckily, he agreed, and within a few weeks we were already working on the strips, having a blast, but with no clear date set when it would officially launch. Since the strip has a prevalent horror theme, I thought October 31--Halloween--would be perfect.

The short of Ace Kilroy is: In 1937, the United States has learned two disturbing facts. One, that supernatural monsters--i.e., vampires, werewolves--are real. Two, the Third Reich, in preparing to start World War II, are trying to take control of these monsters and turn them to the side of the Nazis, making them unstoppable.

President Franklin Roosevelt commissions soldier of fortune, WW I veteran and all-around adventurer Ace Kilroy to head to Transylvania, where there are rumors of some sort of real-life Dracula, and stop whatever nefarious plot is being hatched!

Ace Kilroy will feature adventure, horror, thrills, comedy, political intrigue, and even romance, in (hopefully) the most fun and engaging way possible!

I normally never use my other blogs to pimp my outside projects, but Ace Kilroy is special: I am enormously proud of what we've created so far, and we're going to give it ol' college try in terms of making it a financially viable, ongoing creative project: its nothing less than a daily comic strip, just like the classic adventure strips of old, except Ace Kilroy will appear on the web, not on the back page of a newspaper sandwiched between Ziggy and Mark Trail.

Ace Kilroy will run a black and white strip six days a week, with an extra-sized Color Supplement on Sundays, again like the classic strips of old. Dan and I want to bring back that sense of pure adventuresome fun with the strip, and transport the reader back to a time when the daily adventures of
Steve Canyon, Secret Agent X-9, or Dick Tracy were can't-miss, waiting-with-bated-breath-for-the-next-installment affairs for comics fans.

But since the daily newspapers of old are, essentially, gone (the comics pages especially), we're doing it in a very modern way: on the web, with all past strips available with the click of a mouse, with Ace appearing across a wide variety of social media platforms, which will occasionally feature bonus or special side material. Dan and I essentially want to hire ourselves as the artist and writer (respectively) of an daily comic strip...which of course means you!

Not to sound like I'm taking my other blogs hostage or anything, but if we can get enough people to support Ace Kilroy financially, then I can spend more time at home, leaving me the time and ability to subsidize my other, non-profit-generating efforts, like this one. And isn't that what we all want?

So if you're interested in taking a look at Ace Kilroy, and maybe even supporting it, you can do so at the following places, starting off with the official site, where you can learn more about the characters, the creators, and see the first strip:

...and finally, if you like what you see enough to financially support Ace Kilroy, you can visit the Ace Kilroy Fundraising Page on Kickstarter, where you can learn more about the strip, find out what kind of donations you can make, and even watch a short video all about Ace Kilroy. We hope to raise enough money to give Ace (and us!) and a good running start!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rod Serling

Thanks to Netflix Watch Instantly, I've been catching up on all the episodes of The Twilight Zone I've never seen before, or haven't seen for a long time. I spent last Saturday working on an illustration project and I just played episode after episode of the show, all day.

This started out as just a portrait of Rod Serling, and then I started playing with it and added some show stills just to jazz it up a bit. Submitted for your approval!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Monster PSA: Jenny Agutter

I'm not the only horror fan who completely fell in love with Jenny Agutter thanks to her performance in An American Werewolf in London; as Nurse Alex Price she was unbelievably sexy and sweet, as she takes in the troubled David Kessler (David Naughton).

Agutter has been in other genre films, like Logan's Run and Child's Play 2, but she cemented herself an enduring object of desire in AAWIL. And who among us wouldn't want to be told that she wants nothing more than to take you home and take care of you?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Universal Monsters: Werewolf of London

Since Halloween is right around the corner, I thought I'd give the faux-vintage paperbacks the week off, and instead put up another installment of my "Universal Monsters" poster series!

I admit, I'm not that big a fan of Werewolf of London--I just find it too talky and dull--but nevertheless it is part of that great Universal series of monster movies from the 1930s. And of course it ended up leading (indirectly) to 1941's The Wolf Man, one of my all-time favorites!

Also, in some ways lead actor Henry Hull's make-up (by Jack Pierce, of course) as the werewolf is just as scary as Lon Chaney Jr.'s was, and it was that powerful image that made me want to add this film to my poster series!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Monster PSA: Donald Pleasence

In many ways, this more of a de-motivational poster, since Donald Pleasence is trying to scare the bejeezus out of you--something he did quite, quite well!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Before I Sleep

This faux-paperback book cover is actually only half that, in that its a cover for a real book!

Author Milton Babgy contacted me about doing a new cover for his mystery/thriller Before I Sleep. Having had some great experiences doing covers for self-publishing authors, I agreed to work with Milton and I'm glad I did. I genuinely enjoyed Before I Sleep and dealing with Milton was a pleasure--he was very receptive to my ideas and always good-natured.

This version of Before I Sleep is available for the Kindle, and will be available in other formats soon!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monster PSA: General Ursus

I know this isn't a motivational poster/public service announcement per se; I just love using the "naked, merciless force" tag--its one of my favorite lines, from any Apes movie.

You know, with Chris Christie not running in 2012, I think there's an opening for General Ursus...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Frankenstein Button!

sgJust in time for Halloween comes this Frankenstein button, featuring my custom original Frankenstein movie poster on a 1.5 x 1.5" pinback.

Not only that--this button glows in the dark! Yep, take it into a dark room and you'll see the Monster light up!

If you were interested in purchasing a button, they're only $5 postpaid! Simply click the Paypal button below to order--and if you order anytime between now and October 27th, I will ship them in time for Halloween!

Yes, Mistress No, Mistress

This faux-paperback book cover is just fun, fun, fun, mixed with pain, pain, pain!

In retrospect, I think maybe the tagline should have been "Powerful men paid be treated like dirt!" Oh well...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Monster PSA: Darby Jones

This Monster PSA poster is from one of my favorite horror movies, I Walked With A Zombie. Producer Val Lewton was not big on filling his movies with typical movie monsters (in stark contrast to Universal, who was almost desperate to come up with monsters they could spin off into series), so Darby Jones as the mute zombie Carrefour is about as close as Lewton got.

And even though Carrefour was a zombie and therefore didn't worry about his health, I'm betting Darby Jones the actor saw the value in a good, brisk walk.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Just Pull The Trigger

All I saw for this faux-paperback book cover was day-glo colors and big flat shapes...and dammit, that's what I got!

This thing has a vague 70s sci-fi-ish feel to me, so maybe she's some of sort post-apocalyptic assassin. Yeah, that's it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

WTF with Marc Maron

WTF with Marc Maron is one of my favorite podcasts, one of the handful I find essential enough to pay for--Maron interviews with people from the world of comedy, of all stripes, and he's an excellent interviewer. There's been numerous times when his guest I someone I never found funny, but made for a captivating interview subject.

Today is Maron's birthday, and he's very generous with praise towards people who have sent him artwork related to the show. The idea for this piece--Maron ranting on the mike while a word cloud surrounds him--popped into my head, so I set about to getting it down as perfectly realized as possible. It was fun coming up with all those words and cramming them into every conceivable nook and cranny.

I sent this to the show, I hope Marc likes it!

Update: By Popular Request, this poster is available as a 10x15" print on my Etsy store! You can order one right here: WTF with Marc Maron poster.

Monday, September 26, 2011

X Marks The Spot

I was all over the place with this faux-paperback book cover, and I think it shows--there are so many conflicting design elements here that I just sort of chuckle at it.

The key art is kinda smutty, yet the tagline is very high-falutin', making the book sound like its about deep themes, when its really probably just a sex book. I guess I woulda been great at working at one of those 1950s "men's sweat" publication houses, sleeves rolled up, cigar in hand, grinding out material to be sold at bus stations all around this fine country.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monster PSA: Conrad Veidt

Every so often I get an idea for another Monster PSA poster, and they're so fun (and, admittedly, easy) to do that I never let the idea sit around in my head too long before getting it down.

My first color choice for this one was green, but then of course it made Veidt look just like The Joker, who was inspired by the Veidt film (The Man Who Laughs) in the first place! I didn't want to make that association (it's already pretty strong without me having to do anything), so I went with some cooler colors.

I tend to get ideas for PSAs in groups, so there'll probably be another one of these sooner than later!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Meet Your New Best Friend

This was another one of those ideas I had that I just had to get down, if anything to get it out of my head so there's space for the next idea!

I am a passionate advocate for animals, and if I could imagine a perfect life for Darlin' Tracy and I it would be to have enough money--and land--to adopt every dog, cat, rabbit, or whatever that needed a home.

All these animal portraits are from pieces I had already done last year; it was just a matter of putting them all into this PSA-type poster and writing the very simple, very direct copy.

Who knows, maybe some animal shelter or charity will see this and want to use it? If so, it'll be more than worth the effort it took to put it together...

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Girl Who Couldn't Leave

This faux-paperback book cover is a ghost story, pure and simple. I liked the moodiness of it, so I decided to skip the hyperbolic tag line, and just go with the title and author.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


sgLast week, I was perusing the blog for All Things Fun, my LCS located in Berlin, NJ.

There was an article by my pal Glenn Walker about the old DC series Blackhawk (which is about to be part of the New 52 line of books), and I did a double-take when I saw this picture accompanied by the caption. That's because this is not a vintage 1952 lobby card for the Blackhawk movie serial, its a poster for the serial, created by me!

At first I thought Glenn was just goofing, but then I asked him about it and he told me they found my poster via a Google search on someone else's website. Assuming it was vintage, they used it in the post.

Glenn apologized for the mis-attribution, but I took it as a compliment, that anyone would mistake something I've done as having been done in the era I was trying to replicate!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Charles Schwab On Investing - Summer 2011

This is the latest piece I've done for Charles Schwab On Investing magazine, their Summer 2011 issue.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tomb of the Unworthy

Like Strip Til Dead, and Idol Hands, this cover isn't a faux-paperback book cover, its an actual book cover!

This is the second book cover I've done for author Jared Prophet, who is a prolific sci-fi author. Jared is full of ideas and very fun to work with, and you can purchase a Kindle edition of this book over on Amazon.

I normally don't get to do much sci-fi stuff, so these covers are a nice change of pace for me. I'm busy working on another cover for Jared as we speak!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bought and Paid For

As per last week, this faux-paperback book cover was sort of made to order: instead of a sexy babe, this cover features a big slab 'o beef for my female and gay fans.

The plot? Well, I think the tagline explains it: this guy is basically a rent-a-hunk for some aging, wealthy wife, and then one day she turns up dead! Did he do the deed? He says no, but how can he explain that she leaves him a bunch of money in her will? Cleft McBeefslab has to figure out who is trying to frame him!

I'd say the book is set somewhere hot and humid, like Miami maybe, so there's lots of scenes with the titular hunk taking off shirt.

You're welcome, Amy.

Monday, August 29, 2011

One Hit Too Many

I realize this faux-paperback book cover looks a lot like my cover for Strip Til Dead, but I try not to let that stop me when working on these: I try to act as though this is the only cover I've ever worked on, and not worry about repeating elements. My theory is, if it works, it works. Hey, if Martin Scorsese can use the same Rolling Stones song in two movies...

This cover originally started out from a suggestion by my pal Amy Bias, who is effusive with her praise for my work, but asked if I was ever going to do a cover that featured some "eye candy" for the ladies--meaning maybe one week I could hold off using a sexy babe and substitute a big hunky guy for once?

That seemed like a perfectly reasonable suggestion, so I had a boxing-themed book in mind from the beginning. But after playing with it a for a while, this is what I ended up with. Sorry, Amy.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Little Girl Found

I like the faux-paperback book cover for Little Girl Lost so much I wanted to do a sequel--the title a no-brainer.

I think if I decide to another "Little Girl" book, she needs a happy ending!

Monday, August 15, 2011

On Her Knees

I might have to stop doing these faux-paperback book covers, because I think I will never come up with better, more salacious title/tagline combo, period.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Find This Woman!

For this faux-paperback book cover I had the image, and that's what I built from--once I added in the checkerboard background, I realized the plot was a woman on the run, hiding from both the mob and the cops. After that, it just a matter of figuring out how and where to put the type!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Locked-Up Heart

Sometimes, when working on one these faux-paperback book covers, I like to experiment and come up with something using the absolute least amount of detail possible: reducing everything down to just basic flat shapes, and see if anything can be made from them (other times, of course, I go crazy with the detail).

Unfortunately, any time you do that, people thinking you're ripping off Sin City, but what are you gonna do?

Monday, July 25, 2011

I Own This Town!

This faux-paperback book cover started out as a sci-fi novel, with the damsel in distress about to be grabbed by a giant hand, undoubtedly that of some mad scientist who invented either an enlarging or shrinking ray.

I drew the hands, but no matter how I placed them it just didn't look right. After a little while I gave up on the idea entirely and changed this to a thriller, keeping the woman but adding a back story about a serial killer stalking the streets of Los Angeles.

As I finished it up, I realized I had some extra space, so I created a little logo for an imagined brand of mystery novels called "Crime Scene", complete with dead body outline. Fun!

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Man From Hell

This faux-paperback book cover was meant to feel like the fumes of hell were jumping off the image, filling your nostrils with the smell of brimstone.

I wanted something super loose and scrappy, and while I think I didn't quite get it to where I wanted, in the end I came pretty close. That guy looks mean!

Friday, July 15, 2011

From The Vault: The Hi-Way Cafe - 2009

I used to be part of an art blog called The Pop Project, where each month all the artists would submit pieces centered around a theme. One month it was "The Twilight Zone", so I chose to illustrate a shot from my all-time favorite TZ episode, "Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?"

Set entirely in a quiet, off-the-beaten-track greasy spoon, WTRMPSU? is about a bus full of passengers who get stranded there because of a massive snowstorm. Rumors fly that an alien has been seen nearby, and paranoia quickly takes root, with all the patrons suspecting its each other.

Its a creepy, funny, tense show, with a hell of an ending. I saw it for the first time when I was eighteen, and amazingly it still kinda creeped me out. I've watched it a few times since, and it still really works.

Anyway, I had a number of moments from the show to represent visually, but I liked this one, which is just before the big ending. There's no sound on the soundtrack; making this moment even more unnerving, since (if you've seen the show), you get a small sense that something is most definitely up.

Not too long after posting this piece on the blog, I was contacted by the granddaughter of actor John Hoyt, who starred in the episode and is represented above. She loved the piece, and that her Grandfather was remembered so many decades later. She asked for a copy of the piece, which I was only too happy to provide. Who would have guessed such a thing?

I like this piece overall; but I think my favorite part is the stuff seen through the window. It kinda looks like it would in real life: fuzzy and indistinct, but you can still sorta make out what's going on. I need to do more of that!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tall Tales

This faux-paperback book cover was entirely inspired by the model; I loved the idea this girl was so tall that she had to stoop over just to fit on the book cover!

Once I had that conceit, it was easy coming up with a tagline and title, which in this case leaned much more towards a girlie/"nudie" book rather than a murder mystery.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

American Pit Bull

I was pretty disgusted over the recent news that Nike signed Michael Vick to some endorsement deal, so that inspired me to do this pro-Pit-Bull, over-the-top patriotic portrait of the breed.

As a model, I used my favorite pit, the gorgeous Dolly Menck!