Busy busy busy

It's the Holidays so that means madness at the malls and maniacal shoppers. It also means crazy deadlines and long hours at work. So, with that said, my time spent on updates and new posts will be dramatically reduced here on The Ward-O-Matic for the next couple of weeks. Ava Thursday will not be affected, of course, but posts for the most part will be few and far between. Very sorry for this, but I plan to have things back up to normal in a little while. Hope you all understand. I might post an image for inspiration, or whatever, but without any of my incessant ramblings. We'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, try to enjoy this time of the year. I try to, even when it gets this crazy.


steel wheels

There's something about trains. The massive box cars gliding across wooden planks, rolling, lumbering, breathing like giant metal beasts. Hearing the brakes screech over the monotonous thump thump, thump thump is so exhilarating. Whenever I see a train I have to stop and watch. I love to see all the different types of cars, the various colors and rusty boxes -- I love to wonder where they've come from, where they're going. And an added bonus for me is to see all the wonderful splashes of color thanks to various steel heads within the graff community telling us who they are and where they're from. It is this rolling gallery of art on wheels that makes my day, even when I get caught at a train crossing.

I used to hate to wait at these crossings, but now I yearn for it.


I wanna hear music from the 50's, daddy.

I was in the car with Ava the other night, driving around to get Ezra to fall asleep. Once the boy was out, I decided to put in the great sounds of They Might Be Giants, more specifically, their most recent album for kids, Here Come the ABC's. Right in the middle of it, there was a song titled, "Rolling O" that had a different sound to it. An older sound, you could say, with a Hammond organ and some horns. Ava perked up.

"Daddy, this song sounds like it's from the sick-tees." She fumbled with that last word.

"The what, sweetie?"

"The sicks-tees. You know, like how Buddy was a cool daddy-o." ("Buddy" is our nickname for Ezra, and she's referring to when Ezra was dressed up as a beatnik for Halloween. You can see what the kids looked like here, by the way.)

"The 60's? You mean it sounds like an old song?"


I then agreed with her, that yes, this song does sound like it's an old song, even though it was made recently. I then decided to drop some knowledge on my precious little 5 year-old sponge (knowing full well that this might go over her head) and proceeded to tell her that a beatnik was actually from the 50's.

"I wanna hear music from the 50's, daddy," Ava pipes up almost suddenly. I look at her in my rear-view mirror, stunned.

"You do?" "Yeah."

My thumb couldn't spin around that click-wheel on our iPod fast enough, I tell ya. I mean, when do you ever get the chance to showcase some fabulous sounds of the 1950's to your daughter? Not very likely. Even though Ava and Ezra are exposed to a vast eclectic mix of music from Andrea and I both in the car and at home ranging from Múm, DJ Shadow, Zero 7, Sufjan Stevens, Ida, Mars ILL, as well as the aforementioned They Might Be Giants, it's quite unusual to get a request for a particular era of music. As I clicked and scrolled through my music collection, I realized that I did not have any of the early rock 'n roll tunes -- what you might call "rock standards." No biggie, though, as I had plenty for Ava to listen to.

A little bit of Dean Martin, a smidgen of Les Baxter, a dash of Bobby Darin ("Mack the Knife," natch), a pinch of Peggy Lee -- I went through a small smorgasbord of various sounds that came out during that time, and Ava was soaking it all in. She really seemed like she was enjoying herself, be-bopping in her car seat from song to song, moving to the beat. As I went through the calvacade of mid-century songs, Ava would ask during each song, "Is this from the 50's?" And I would answer "Yes," obediently, with a slight smile. I was intrigued by the fact that she seemed intent on knowing how a song from the 50's sounded. Once I exhausted my impromptu playlist, I started to play some songs off this fantastic collection called The Best ...And Friends Album In The World, a hard-to-find UK import which features music from the late 30's into the 70's (and somehow makes it fit together rather nicely, I might add). I played "The Lady Is A Tramp" by Lena Horne, from 1948. Again, from Ava: "Is this from the 50's?" "No, this is actually a little older, from the 40's, I think." Pause.

"What's a 'tramp'?"

Hmmm. What IS a tramp? And worse yet, how do you explain this to a 5 year-old girl? My mind raced with images of trashy women from that era, from those pulp novel covers, to Bettie Page -- at one point a 60's go-go dancer popped into my head for no apparent reason -- I had to think fast. Suddenly, it dawned on me.

"Well, you know Tramp from "Lady And the Tramp" right? Well, you remember that he's just a dog who doesn't have a home, who just goes around and tries to find friends, right"

"Um hmm," She agrees.

"That's what this woman is singing about: someone who doesn't have any friends and is going around trying to find some."

"Oh," Ava seemed to understand. I was off the hook! Goodness....

I then moved onto "What's New Pussycat?" by Tom Jones, thinking that Ava might dig the kitty-cat theme but overlook the subtle sexual overtones in the song. I kinda giggled to myself at how I got into that predicament, at how it's funny how kids look at the world around them with innocent eyes, and how we, as parents, tend to overlook certain terms and phrases that might seem tame but have dual meanings. I then began to think about my explanation to her, about what a "tramp" is. That is a rather nice way of putting it, if you think about it, yes? I almost made a 'tramp' a sympathetic character. Obviously in the Disney movie Tramp IS a sympathetic character, but in Ms. Horne's rendition, the 'tramp' is someone who is looked down upon for not going with the status quo. She's labeled a 'tramp' because she "won’t dish the dirt, with the rest of those broads." Interesting.

Anyway, since Ava's 50's music enlightenment that evening, I've since gathered some neato Elvis tunes and some various early rock 'n' roll standards, just so Ava will have a nice well-rounded idea of what kind of music came out during that time.

Hopefully she won't ask me what "A wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom" means. I might need some help on that one.


Ava Thursday: Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's a big heaping helping of Thanksgiving happiness from the Jenkins family to yours! And for dessert, here's a tripych of Ava Thursday goodness to enjoy. Ava drew these fun drawings yesterday and immediately wanted me to scan them to "put in the computer." The first one is of "some girl" sitting at the table with a big pumpkin pie in front of her and she is dreaming about herself being in front of a turkey -- but she's full after she ate some pie. See, she's a "bad girl" for eating the pie first. The arm coming from the left is of another girl getting ready to eat the pie.

The second one is of another girl sitting down with a nice, big turkey that's ready to eat on the table. Problem is, the girl is non too happy. "She says it tastes YUCK!" Ava tells me. Also, Ava says, "she has a cute bow on."

The third one is of Ava eating some turkey. That is a picture of a girl on the wall behind her.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving holiday with time well spent with family and friends. For me this day is extra-special because I turn 37. Yes, I'm a turkey this year. It happens every so often, and it's always a riot from my loved ones. For some reason they get a big kick out of me being a "turkey for turkey day." They say it's so fitting. I can't imagine why.

So anyway, I'm looking forward to having some cake with my turkey this evening. Yippee! Also looking forward to bulking up around the waist area this weekend, too. Expect future posts from me whining and complaining about how my jeans are getting just a wee bit more snug and how sluggish I feel all day. Fun!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Abundant Linkage 5

I've finally gotten around to updating some links and making some changes to my link column over there on the right. First major change I made was moving Recent Posts and the Archive section down to the bottom of the column, which works better for me. I never really liked having my Archive section right there near the beginning of the column. If you guys liked it better where it was, let me know. I'll ignore your suggestions, but nod my head feigning agreement. Another big change is adding a pull-down menu for all the artwork that I've done and posted here on The Ward-O-Matic, titled, appropriate enough, Ward Art. I think I read somewhere that someone was trying to find a portfolio of my work but outside of the Strangetoons gallery, there isn't really any true portfolio, per se. Hopefully this new menu will help with that. Let me know what you all think.

One reason I haven't updated my links and such is because I've been so busy at work, but that's to be expected and not at all dramatic for blogging purposes. Blah blah blah, etc., the same ol' drill. Regarding work: I do have to say that I hate having to jump from one pretty cool project to another, which I had to do last Monday. Switching gears artistically is one of my pet peeves, but I can't really say anything about this because -- hey, it's the nature of the beast, they always say. Get used to it. One saving grace for me is that I've been placed on another equally cool project, so I can't complain. The first project was for an internal job, but this new job that I'm currently working on will be a national spot. So yes, you will be able to see something that I've directed soon.

I do one day plan on posting a list of projects and spots that I've worked on at Click 3X and Primal Screen, but at the time being you'll just have to check out Primal's website for a look-see at what we've done recently. I could point out some of the projects for you to be on the lookout for, but that would be no fun, since I would want to talk about each job individually. In my time spent for each project, I've learned that I'll pick up on some nugget of knowledge about myself or about animation, whether it be monumental or not. And that, my friends, would make for dramatic blogging. So stay tuned.

"Gas station" by Ben Prisk

Oh, and on a Primal note -- fellow Primate Ben Prisk has a side gig of doing backgrounds for Adult Swim's "Squidbillies." Check them out HERE. They are very unique and beautiful in their own way. Sort of surreal-meets-folk-art, I guess. All done in acrylics and goauche, with elements painted separately and then scanned and composited later in post-production for the show. Ben and I share a lot of the same odd eclectic sensibilities when it comes to collecting and inspiration. You thought mine was interesting? You should see his workspace at Primal.

Saxton Moore used to be at Primal Screen before he packed his bags and went out to Californy to work in the animation biz out there. He then came back to work on a couple of projects before he was off again to the sunny beaches of... Cleveland? Well, he's doing rather nicely there, the last he told me, so that's a good thing. He's started a blog finally, with some great eye candy for you all. And Sax, I'll post about those retrommercials we worked on when I can find all the artwork for it. My place is a mess!

I love Andi Watson's work. I like that he's doing a blog as well. Blogging is the new black, I swear.

I'm so glad that previously mentioned Leif Peng's Today's Inspiration now has a blog home. Now you'll see what subscribers get on a daily basis (better quality of course, than what's on the blog), along with more info and background on the artists and illustrators mentioned. Very cool stuff.

"Gerard" by Hans Bacher

Here are a smidgen of great blogs by even greater artists working in the animation biz or otherwise. Give 'em a visit:

Lambey's Log: Illustrator Steve Lambe's blog. Great character design!
Thorsten Hasenkamm: More incredible character design and color here.
Tweedle Sketch: Fun art, illustration, bunnies, and whatnot from illustrator and Retro Kid contributor, Michael Fleming.
Deadstown: Conceptual artwork and photos of sets of CORPSE BRIDE by Neil Ross.
Mad-T-Party: Animator Hans Bacher kicks some great art-blogging arse. Seriously.
John Nevarez works at Disney Toon. Great character sketches and stuff.
Dean Roberts is a storyboard artist in the biz.
Jeopopolis: Illustrator Jeope Wolfe's blog on illustration and design. He's given me some great support in the past on my IF submissions (thanks, Jeope, by the way!) and I feel that he deserves some recognition. Great guy with some great things to say.

Other things:

Check out this interview with Irwin Chusid, the author of one of my favorite recent books (and mentioned before), The Mischievous Art of Jim Flora. Very interesting read.

Interesting high-speed video clips for the curious animator. Great resource for studying what happens to things in super slow-motion.

And I'm just dying to see what Swoon's site will be like once it's up and running. Big fan of her cut-out paper street art.

Hitchcock fans: VERTIGO: Then and Now is a site filled with before and after images of various San Francisco locations from the 1958 film. I love stuff like this. Check out New York Changing, with New York City the subject of before and after photos.

And oh! -- I'm currently painting a mural on the backside of the fantastic and wonderful Victory Vintage Home in Decatur. It's taking me a while to finish, but you may catch me working on it this weekend, if you're curious. Lots of pink.

That's it! Enjoy!


M. Sasek on Amazon

For the M. Sasek enthusiast in your life, particularly one who has a blog who just so happens to have a birthday this week, the current Universe (under Rizzoli) reissues of Sasek's infamous "This is..." series are being paired up with each other on Amazon, under the "Better Together" section. I took advantage of getting the first two reissues together: This is New York and This is San Francisco, which was incredibly convenient. Now, you can get This is London paired with This is Paris, as well as This is Ireland paired with This is Venice. The most recent entries won't be available until early next year, This is Edinburgh and This is Texas.

They are not going in order, in case you're wondering. I have no clue as to what logic they use to decide which edition is released. But I do know that they've been releasing them two at a time, which is nice.

Again, if you want to know anything about M. Sasek, please visit Miroslav Sasek.com.



Some time ago, I was asked to do some illustrations for a guy in New Zealand who was working on this compliation CD consisting of Christian hip-hop (don't laugh -- there are some pretty good groups out there, like this one) and needed some nifty artwork to catch the viewer's eye. Titled Soundtracts, I agreed to work on the project and began sketching. I was to do three illustrations for a story found in the CD booklet, but the guy was willing for me to take a crack at the cover, if I wanted. The guy's original idea for the cover was this photo of a businessman stopping to listen to some music by a vagabond-like character on the street. I wasn't digging the poses so I offered to tweak the scenario and add my 'special touch.' He was down with it. Above is the cover and below is the back cover -- the tracklisting would be over on the right, once I got all the info on the songs and artists. Click on images for a larger version.

Unfortunately, the project fell through. I was rather pleased with what I did on Soundtracts, but I hated that now no one will ever see it. Oh well, that's just what happens sometimes. I can't tell you how many times I've worked like a dog for various projects, animation and otherwise, only to see the project fall by the wayside. It's frustrating at times, but I just have to know that it's expected. No sense getting worked up about it. Accept it and move on.

The story that was to be found in the CD booklet was to take on a different approach than from the cover illustrations. In the story, the concept was, "What if Jesus lived today? And was a hip-hop artist?" A very odd concept, I would say, and so I saw it as a great challenge. Three illustrations were to be done, each one depicting an important stage of Jesus's role in the story: Life, Death, and Resurrection. I decided to have a particular color be prominent for each stage. Blue for Life, red for Death, and yellow for Resurrection. As the project progressed, I really started to get into it and eventually was very happy with the end result. It's one of my favorite projects of recent and I'm glad to finally showcase them for others to see. Hope you like. And yes, Jesus has dreadlocks.

Click on each image for a larger version.





Ava Thursday: The Tooth Fairy

Ava lost her very first baby tooth Monday, at school. Dear Ms. Beck gave her tooth that extra special tug and out it came! So, in typical Ava fashion, Ava drew about this event as well as the ensuing nocturnal transaction that transpired later that evening. Ava got really into the whole Tooth Fairy business, even telling Andrea and I that she thinks the Fairy is small and flies around with her computer to keep tabs on all the kids out there losing teeth. Andrea has written a very sweet post about all this on her blog today. You can check it out HERE.

To view larger, click on image. Then click "All sizes." There are notes on this image, too.

Ava did draw herself at one point, big toothy grin with a big gaping hole right in the middle, but I could not for the life of me find that drawing. I'm sure it's around here somewheres. However, I LOVE this drawing of her being visited by the Tooth Fairy. She drew on both sides of the paper, and so I scanned both for you all to see. Here, on the front, is Ava sleeping with her head on a yellow pillow. Underneath the pillow is the Tooth Fairy herself, doing her job, leaving a box of goodies in place of the tooth. I like how Ava decided to put some flowers there, as well. It's all black around because, "it's dark underneath the pillow," Ava tells me. Makes sense to me. Fun colors and a great story here. Ava signed it in the upper left, and then she was about to title the drawing, but stopped when she realized that it would not fit. So she turned the paper around to finish:

To view larger, click on image. Then click "All sizes."

Ava is telling Mommy and Daddy, "When the Tooth Fairy brought me a surprise." Ava wrote all the letters herself, with Andrea helping her out with what letter went next, pronounciating each word, and asking Ava what letter does that sound like, etc. Ava then says, "OK," at the bottom. (The exclamation point got mixed up.) I like how she drew herself in profile here, yelling about her story. Fun characters.

Our little girl is growing up. That's what this all means to me. Her baby teeth are now being pushed out to make way for her "adult" teeth. No. Not yet. I'm not ready for Ava to be all growns up. I like her being a little girl. No growing up. "But I want to grow up, " Ava told me one time, after I made a joke about me not ready for her to grow up.

I know you do, Ava. But let me hold on to you being a kid just a little bit longer.


Illustration Friday: Strength

Andrea, even in the midst of the day, when Little Ball of Energy Named Ezra continuously bonks you on your head with his ball (he uses my head as a target, too), you are grace under pressure personified. Strength and beauty throughout the days, the weeks, the months. When I think of Strength, I think of you, dear Andrea.

A successful BIRDMAN outing

Wow. What a great turnout for the HARVEY BIRDMAN: ATTORNEY AT LAW screening we had last night at The Red Chair! We had the whole place to ourselves and I think it's safe to say that it was a grand success. Joe Peery and I were very elated to see so many people there, some familiar and some not -- which is fantastic. It was fascinating to hear Michael Ouweleen and Erik Richter talk about the process of getting the show started, in fits and starts. Something to be said for tenacity. (I'm just glad that I know now the backstory on the infamous Bear. My life is complete. Thank you, Michael.)

Equal love was given both to the creators/writers for creating such unique stories to animate, and to the animators for giving life to the bizarre yet lovable denizens of the BIRDMAN world. It was nice to see some familiar faces, whom I've had the great pleasure of working with for the past couple of years, get the respect that they so fully deserved. Not a dry eye in the place. Good job, guys.

Big thanks to all the ASIFA peeps for working so hard on the screening, as well as the members who attended. Also, to all the people out there who came on a whim, not really sure what they were getting into. Hope you all enjoyed yourselves. Thanks to the Red Chair for being so accommodating. We animators are an odd, silly bunch, aren't we?

And lastly, a BIG thanks to the creators and animators of HARVEY BIRDMAN, for sharing your stories, your thoughts, your processes in creating one of the most hilarious shows out there. Here's to another season, yes?

NOTE: Did anyone here take pics of the event? If so, I'd like to showcase some of them here. I'll give full credit, of course. Just email me. Thanks!


BIRDMAN screeing reminder

Just a gentle reminder of the HARVEY BIRDMAN: ATTORNEY AT LAW screening that ASIFA-Atlanta is heading up tonight at 8pm, at The Red Chair. If you're in the area, please come by and check it out. We promise you'll leave the screening a better, more complete person. Don't forget: the creators behind the show wil be in attendance and talk about how they came up with all those crazy gags, and whatnot.

For more info, check out the ASIFA-Atlanta website.


On a personal note, Andrea and I just experienced one crazy weekend, filled with sick kids, vomiting, fevers, and balled-up nerves. Read more about it here, if you dare. Sheesh! No one told us parenting was going to consist of this! When does the rollercoaster ride stop? Can I go home now?

Alright, enough of the whining. I guess we knew that there would be days like that, but somehow you never seem to be prepared for it.

Hope your weekend was keen. I'll work on a better post later on, I promise. Be sure to stop by The Red Chair tonight to laugh, to cry, to wet your pants. Guaranteed.


This is Cape Canaveral

This is Cape Canaveral: cover
This is perhaps one of my favorite finds of recent years. Back in June for Father's Day, I treated myself to a trip around town to some antique malls and stores. As I was making my way through the aisles of one such mall, scanning for any interesting books or ephemeral finds, my eye caught a glimpse of a book with a remarkable blue cover. I had to bend down to take a closer look because it was on the lower level of a bookshelf, and when I did, I almost dropped Ezra. It was This is Cape Canaveral, written and illustrated by the wonderful Miroslav Sasek, aka M. Sasek.

Considered to be one of the rarest of the "This is..." series that M. Sasek produced from 1959 to 1974, "This is Cape Canaveral" was retitled "This is Cape Kennedy" in a later edition when President Johnson recommended changing the name of the entire cape after the assassination of President Kennedy in '63. (The town was not keen on the name change and had the name changed back to Cape Canaveral in '73. You can read more about this here.)

I hate to admit it, but I had no clue who M. Sasek was until a couple of years ago, when a co-worker at Primal showed me a couple of Sasek's books he had checked out from the library. He thought that I, for sure, was familiar with his work. Unfortunately, I was not. So I immediately did a search and found this very informative site on the man and his legacy headed up by Anne of i like. I was hooked.

What's amazing to see is that he produced 18 books for the "This is...," spanning 15 years -- with his signature fun and colorful stylized artwork pretty much retaining the same look throughout the entire run. As an artist I find that very hard to do, especially when your style sometimes starts to evolve without you knowing. Equally impressive is the fact that when you look at Sasek's work, it does not look at all dated. Sure, there are elements to that stylized look and design in his work that was evident of the mid-20th century, but it's just enough to remain timeless. I swear, you could open this book in 2005 and think that you are reading something that is contemporary. Again, credit this to Sasek's impeccable style, which seems to get better with age. Somehow he was able to manage a look and style that transends generations. As a matter of fact, Rizzoli is currently reissuing the series, with all the illustrations intact, but including a section in the back of each book updating certain facts that may be out of date. There have been six already reissued with two more coming soon in early 2006.... A true testament to just how influential Sasek is.

If you've never had the chance to check out any of the books in the "This is..." series, the premise is the same: Sasek takes us on a tour of a featured city, noticing the people, the attractions, the food, the stores, the buildings, the methods of traveling within each place. What makes the series addictive (especially to me) is how Sasek picks up on those quirky little things that makes each city unique unto the world. The little details that might've been overlooked by the casual tourist, but not to a child. And that's the big draw for me: Sasek looked at the world around him as if he was a child. Or rather, he noticed things that a child would find amusing. Also, there's a slight off-beat style of humor in his illustrations and in his writing. I love it.

From his exquisite page layouts to his charming characters, Miroslav Sasek was ahead in the game of children's book illustration, in my opinion. He has since become one of my greatest influences.

To the illustrations. Ah yes, the wonderful illustrations. I'm posting some images from the book below for you all, but I've got more in a Flickr photoset. To check out that set go HERE. Hope you enjoy!

To take a closer look, click on each image and you will be taken to its Flickr page. From there, click on "All sizes."

This is Cape Canaveral: title

This is Cape Canaveral: postcards

This is Cape Canaveral: Satellite Motel

This is Cape Canaveral: missiles

This is Cape Canaveral: astronaut

This is Cape Canaveral: birdwatchers

This is Cape Canaveral: Control center

This is Cape Canaveral: welcome back

Like I mentioned earlier, part of the true joy in reading through Sasek's "This is..." series is seeing what captures his eye. And in "This is Cape Canaveral," we see just how exciting the Space Race was, especially in its infancy. With this book published in '63, there's reason to believe that Sasek traveled to Canaveral and Cocoa Beach the previous year, right when all the missile testing and Mercury flights were going on. To see how all the hotels, restaurants and shops -- the entire town, basically -- got caught up in the missile and space craze is fascinating. Heck, they even did parades for the astronauts who simply went into orbit for a couple of hours. To see all this from a post-moon walking, post-Shuttle, post-Star Wars world is downright charming. I don't show everything from this book, but there were a great deal of images of missiles and rockets, all depicted in amazingly-detailed Sasek flair. Sasek's background in architecture shows through in how he illustrates the towers that hold the rockets before liftoff, complete with practically every single iron scaffolding in place.

This particular book is in great condition with no doodles or marks in the pages inside. However, there was some bad ink registration on a couple of the pages. Hopefully, Rizzoli will reissue this book, so that everyone will have a chance to enjoy the Space Race from an innocent time.

UPDATE: Good news! "This is Cape Canaveral" will be released June 23rd, 2009 as "This Is The Way To The Moon"! Buy it here on Amazon:

More about This Is Cape Canaveral.
The entire This is... series.
Sasek in The Retro Kid: This is Hong Kong, This is Israel.
If you like this style of illustration from the mid-20th century era, be sure to check out The Retro Kid.


Ava Thursday: High fashion

I love this drawing by my 5 year-old daughter, Ava. I assumed that it was her with a dalmation, but she told me that it was just "some girl."

Dig the cool, leggy pose, the purse, the sunglasses up on the girl's head -- this girl's got it goin' on. That's a collar around the dog's neck, Ava tells me, not a scarf.

One more reason why I love this drawing: Andrea tells me that Ava drew this outside in the front yard, while sitting on a blanket, with no images from magazines, no girls with dogs walking by. Nothing for her to base this drawing from -- just her and her imagination.


Illustration Friday: Night

I finally got around to doing an entry for Illustration Friday. This week's theme is Night, and so I thought I'd depict a moment one night when Ava actually got up on her own and went to the potty. See, she's the heavy sleeper type. She sleeps like a log and it's very hard to wake her at times. So imagine our surprise when we hear Ava's sweet little voice call out from the hallway, announcing her next venture. Andrea and I were a bit spooked by hearing her voice at such a late hour because our initial thought was that something's terribly wrong -- this was such an unusual situation. But thankfully, it was a false alarm -- just a trip to the loo in the middle of the night..

And yes, that's me with a beard. I'm trying to grow one right now. It itches like the dickens.

To view larger, click on image to go to its Flickr page, and then click "All sizes."


HARVEY BIRDMAN and the Rebirth of ASIFA-Atlanta

I'm happy to announce that ASIFA-Atlanta is back up and running, with a brand spankin' new screening to prove it! (And an updated website, too.) After the unfortunate passing of our chapter's president, Lou Hertz, back in July, there was this uneasy feeling regarding the future of the organization here in town, since Louie was practically doing everything. It was one of his many loves. Knowing this, there were several of us who banded together afterwards and met in secret bunkers deep beneath the city to lay out a plan so perfect, so diabolical, there would be no way to ignore it: create a new ASIFA-Atlanta that actually tapped into the animation industry here in Atlanta -- with fantastic screenings that tempted and tantalized your animation-soaked brains, and workshops & panels that offered mind-blowing information and knowledge that you could use to your advantage, to benefit you in your evil, hostile takeover plans. (I know what you're up to, I see all.)

And thus, being the screenings organizer for ASIFA-Atlanta, I'm very happy to announce our first screening since the rebirth: AN EVENING WITH HARVEY BIRDMAN: ATTORNEY AT LAW. Next Monday, November 14th, at 8PM at The Red Chair (550-C Amsterdam Ave, in Amsterdam Walk), in Midtown. It will be $5, but FREE for ASIFA members. Click on the poster above for a nice, larger version to download and make copies to pass out around your office or school. Annoy your friends, family and co-workers with glee.

So what's with a HARVEY BIRDMAN: ATTORNEY AT LAW screening? Well, the show is produced and animated here in the A-T-L, so we wanted to pick up on this fact -- that there's a multitude of productions going on here in town with many doing some wonderful work. The great thing about this particular screening is that we've gathered some big-shots on the show to come and talk about BIRDMAN, how the show got started, what goes into the making of each episode, what goes on in the minds of the animators, who actually does any work on the show, etc. Secrets will be bared, tears will be shed. We asked the filmmakers to handpick their four favorite episodes: "The Dabba Don," "The Devlin Made Me Do It," "X Gets The Crest," and "Birdgirl of Guantanamole." Which big-shots will be there? Check it out: creators/writers Michael Ouweleen and Erik Richter, director Rich Ferguson-Hull (he won his catagory in Ottawa, by the way, for BIRDMAN), and producer Evan Adler. The animation crew is expected to show up and talk trash. It's bound to be a marvelous evening.

Hey, did you know that Primal Screen has a connection to BIRDMAN? Yes, Primal did the infamous open, with Rick Newcomb as art director, and Reese Lloyd doing those fun pulp-style illustrations. Rick and Reese will be there at the screening, as well. (Be sure to buy the first season on DVD, as there's a nice bonus section with a live-action version of the opening, with each and every shot lovingly recreated with real humans, done verbatim.)

If you're in the area, do try and come out to the Chair. We'd love to have ya.

If any questions or need more info, check out ASIFA-Atlanta's site, or contact Joe Peery.


Announcing Ezra Mondays

Okay just kidding about that. That would've been pretty wild if it were to be true, huh? Imagine a weekly drawing from a 17 month old -- that's just crazytalk, I tell ya.

However, he did do a drawing a couple of weeks ago while hanging out at my work. He was fascinated by grabbing one of the many red Col-erase pencils I have laying around my desk, so I gave hime one to see what he would do with it. He immediately started to jab with it at the piece of paper that was in front of him. Curious, I drew a simple doodle of a baby on the paper, to see if I could garner a reaction from my little energetic budding artist. He started to "draw" on my drawing, in a reptitious manner. Attack is more like it. That poor drawing of mine didn't stand a chance.

I was able to do a quick sketch of his hand holding the pencil, while drawing:

So is this the beginning of a brand new artist? Who's to know. I am enjoying just watching little Ezra explore this big, bold world around him for the first time. With his bright eyes all wide with wonder, I see him bound around our house and in the front yard with such a fervor to experience everything for the first time. It's quite an event to witness. It serves as a constant reminder of how I should experience this world around me: with new eyes.

It's hard, but I try.


One Year of the Ward-O-Matic

Today the Ward-O-Matic is one year old. It's hard to imagine, isn't it? In the world of blogs, this is called a "blogiversary," but I can't seem to work up the nerve to actually use this term. It seems rather forced and gimicky. But I don't mind saying that today is my blog's birthday. Because it takes up a lot of my time, at times wearing me out, as well as forcing me to stay up late at ungodly hours in the night, I'd say that The Ward-O-Matic is essentially my third child. I'm just happy I don't have to change its diapers. That'd be rather odd.

To mark this wonderous occasion, I've redesigned the template. This is something that I had been dying to do ever since I started this thing. The image you see up in the header there was done in late November of last year. It's taken me that long to figure out the silly coding to the Blogger template that I currently use. Amazing.

I also have a new background pattern. I was always a bit bored by the basic greenish-grey background that I had, so I found a pattern courtesy of Squidfingers, altered the color and tone a bit to fit the look of my blog, and then plugged it in. I'm kinda happy with it. The entire redesign thing is a bit of an accomplishment for me because I tweaked some items that I was really unsure of, plus I could never find the time. But it works, I think. I am a bit worried that it may look wonky in various browsers, so if anyone is experiencing some quirky glitches, please let me know. Nevermind all you feed readers because you never see the blog the way I intend it anyway.

Let me know what you think of the redesign, though. I figured that since this is an art and animation blog, there should be some sort of artistic flare in the look of the site, don't you think? I hope it looks okay.

Because it is my blog's birthday, I figured I'd do a little year in review for you all. The past year, by the numbers:

1. There have been 182 posts (including this one).
2. There have been 1,953 comments, give or take a few.
3. Top commenter (not including me): Jared Chapman with 86. (Andrea a close second with 82. I have 231, by the way.) Jared, do you want a cookie?
4. Based on my Technorati profile, The Ward-O-Matic is currently ranked #7,170 (but changes daily), with 412 links from 160 sites. (Big ups to all of you who do link me. I really appreciate it.)
5. Busiest day: January 18th, when I was mentioned on Boing Boing, with 11,081 unique visitors and 14,814 page loads.
6. Averages per day since January (when I started using StatCounter): 594 unique visitors, 872 page loads. (Although it's much lower if you check out the last couple of months.)
7. My current Google Page Rank: 6/10.

I wished that I kept a list of all the countries that every single visitor to my blog was from, but alas, I did not. I do know that I have readers from all over the globe -- from Denmark to New Zealand, from Iceland to Malaysia, from Alaska to Peru, you name it. The world is a smaller place for me now, all thanks to the wonderful world of blogging. It is simply amazing.

The connections that I've made throughout this past year have been tremendous. To be able to have friends that I've met only through my blog is quite an intriguing thing for me. All I have to say is I wish that I could meet each and every one of you in person! If we could somehow organize a Ward-O-Matic convention where all my readers and commentors could meet up, I'd be totally down with that. It's amazing for me to know that if I were ever to venture off to another city there could be a Ward-O-Matic reader there. I can't seem to wrap my brain around that, it's too wild of a notion for me!

To say I'm honored to be a part of your daily internet entertainment is a grand understatement. It is overwhelming for me to know that hundreds a day come around to check out the latest rant and rave, the latest Ava Thursday, the latest ephemera find. I am completely amazed by this community and I love how it is contantly evolving, always on the go. This is a great, wonderful time now, to experience the goings-on and everyday minutia of the Everyman and Everywoman, through blogging. The wealth of knowledge and experience, of talent and resources that are available for you find on hundreds of blogs now is unprecedented. Enjoy it, people. This is a good time to live in. Enjoy.

Some thanks are in order. I must thank first my family: Andrea, Ava and little Ezra for the constant source of support, inspiration and humor you give me on a daily basis. I have plenty of material to write about, all thanks to you three. Andrea, thank you for being so patient with my ongoing late-night typefests. I'm just kicking myself now for introducing you to the glorious world of blogging, but then again, I am not. You kick some serious blogging butt with your amazing way of writing and pictures. Seriously. Please don't ever stop. You have a gift.

Thanks to my mom, dad and sis for your great supportive, and often quirky, comments. I always enjoy getting a comment from one of you guys. Thanks for being so understanding of this odd little fascination that I have here. And thanks for laying the groundwork for what would become The Ward-O-Matic. Don't think it goes unnoticed.

My Atlanta peeps, you guys rock. Thanks for your support. You know I'll see you later.

To all my internet and blogging friends, buddies, and supporters, I can't say enough about how cool it is to get to know you all through this crazy computer world. It's astounding to know just how many friends I've met through all this. To Jared, Amid, James, Jerry, Johnny, Claire, sThig, Jay, Matt, Patricia, Jen, Paige, Eric, Jan, Cin, Roque, Lindsay, Glen, Joleen, Allan, Liz, Fyse, Newsquirt, Gemma, Jamie, JMorrison, (Slim, you're on an entirely different level) the list could go on and on... thank you all for your time and energy, whether it be through comments, or through emails -- you name it. Like any artist, I crave feedback on my work, and all of you do so with gusto. I really couldn't go on without all of you guys giving me your thoughts, your suggestions, your patience -- you could say that all of you have made The Ward-O-Matic what it is today. Thank you.

One last thank you goes to God, for giving me the talent and desire to create in the first place. You are the Ultimate Artist.

So, what's in store for the next year? Oh, don't you wish you knew! Well, so do I, actually. I do know that it'll be more of the same fun and games that you would expect, plus a few surprises. You never know.

Ava Thursday: Fun collage

When you have a mother like Andrea, of course part of your playtime at home will involve making collages. Ava has had ample collage-time with mommy before, but she was very proud with this particular collage because it was the first time she got to cut out the images all by herself. Grabbing images from a children's clothing catalog and a few tidbits that mommy had saved, Ava has created a wonderful outdoor scene. I watched her thumb through the catalog searching in earnest, and then very carefully cut out the perfect head, the perfect body, the perfect shoes for the main girl character here. I love how she doesn't have any arms -- but gotta have the gloves, of course.

Won't be long before Andrea and I both will be asking Ava for some pointers in our artwork.

Click on image to go to its Flickr page, and then "All sizes" to view larger.


The Fine Art of Doodling

There's a great freedom to doodling. I love the non-commitment in the act -- I don't have to think about all the stuffy issues with composition, color, layout, design, physics -- you name it. Doodling can be a liberating experience for the artist. Whether it be while you're on the phone, in a meeting, or just sitting around, it is so fun to just draw without a care in the world. No strict deadlines, no possible client rejections, no hurried breathing of producers down your neck... just you, your pen/pencil, and your little piece of paper. No guidelines, no fear, no worries.

Just you and your imagination.

Here are few doodles and sketches that I've managed to scan. Some fun, some odd, but all of it off the top of my head.

Fun little sketch of the family.

Dancing people are fun to draw.

Flying girls and some old dude.

I think the guy with the hat is Barry McGee (aka TWIST) from some magazine I was looking at.

Drawn during an ASIFA meeting. I do this thing during meetings or conference calls where I start to doodle faces. Many faces, all stacked on top of each other, all packed together. It becomes some sort of game for me to see just how many different faces I can come up with. Also it's an exercise for me to try and break out from any potential artistic rut that I sometimes see myself get into. This exercise is very addictive.

This was during a conference call. This one guy began talking so my mind began to wonder off.

I was playing around with the india ink pen in the middle here. I then sketched Ava when she was walking to the car. Being the constant dawdler, she had grabbed a piece of chalk and began drawing x's on all the stones that make up our footpath from the house to the car. Silly girl.

Kinda sorta me, kinda sorta not. This doodle was found at the bottom corner of the page after that previously mentioned conference call.

I might post more soon. Let me know what you think.