I end up in the Zoo
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Mom always said I’d wind up in the zoo. Here in Asheboro we have one of the best zoological parks in the world : the North Carolina Zoo. A huge park, it occupies over 2000 acres and includes the North American and African continents with plans to expand with an Asia section as well. The polar bear exhibit was my favorite for years but I think the North American streamside exhibit is beginning to win out as time goes by. The zoo has more than animal exhibits nowadays. They need to keep the traffic coming to fund the whole operation so they offer special programs and sections to draw folks who may think twice about seeing “boring” animals, a sad fact but a necessary one. Recently they updated the KidZone with an awesome bent wood sculpture/entrance by artist Patrick Dougherty. It’s a huge thing that blows your mind from any angle as you walk under and through it. Once inside, they’ve got a stream the kids can tramp through, an elevated bridge, a Stonehenge-like maze, learning centers, interactive programs and more. The kids loved it during an opening ceremony a couple of weeks back. It’s the 40th anniversary of the zoo and they’re celebrating with all sorts of programs like this. One of which, I got to have a part in: BUGS! An EPIC Adventure ‎Graphics Supervisor Diane Villa called me up a while back and told me about the special exhibit that was coming to the zoo Featuring 13 giant, animatronic […]

I Got This Spoon! Find out which ordinary household item YOU are by taking this quiz!
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You are always stirring things up. You find yourself in “hot water” all the time! Sugar anyone? You can dish it out better than you can take it. You fit together with others of your own kind. Others often try to bend you to their will. You HATE these quiz results on Facebook!

I done been Nominated!
R. Powell's Zombie Bass

I’m thrilled to announce that the hard work I put into building a t-shirt line last year has paid off with a nomination for best Product/Advertising Illustration at this year’s National Cartoonists Society Reuben Awards!! Yowza! The Reuben’s are held every year at some swanky hotel in some fancy US city. Cartoonists from all over descend upon the place, drink, eat, draw, sing (yes…sing) and give each other awards. At the black-tie banquet one lucky bastard wins the Cartoonist of the Year and then there are the Division Awards, the Silver T-Square, The Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award …it’s like the Oscars for ink-stained nerds with bad skin and drinking problems. Oh yeah, there’s an award for Amateur Cartoonist Extraordinaire too. This year it goes to “Weird Al” Yankovich. I’ll be headed to San Diego in May and attending with my bro, Bill. That’s really appropriate because he turned me on to cartoons is the first place (should I blame him or thank him?). Anyway, we’ll get have some laughs drink some beers and hang out with some of my friends and heroes! Photos shall follow. Good luck to my fellow nominees Sean Parkes and Cedric Hohnstadt Here are the entries I sent in: Here’s The Freshwater Lure Series from the Collection

Cutting to the Chase
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I’ve taken on a rather large project lately. Down the road from where I live, sits the little hamlet of Seagrove. A spread-out little town populated by a unique group of artisans: Potters! Seagrove is THE place to go if you want some  of the best pottery in the world. They’ve been making jugs, plates, figures..etc..etc for generations. Many folks head out that way and spend the day cruising around and visiting potteries and the potters within. It’s a charming place and a cool way to spend the day. You could spend anything from 25 bucks to 10,000 bucks on a platter there. Yeah. A group there has hired a marketing firm to help “rebrand” the area and build a website to get across to folks what the place is all about. They hired ME to do some portraits of the potters and potteries. Here’s the deal: They want the illustrations to look something like rough engravings or woodcuts. Handmade. Now, I’d love to do a scratchbord portrait of each individual but there are a load of them and I don’t think these guys have that type of budget. So, I have to figure out a way to get the look we want in a hurry. My prototype was of Mike Mahan from “The Ground Up” pottery. His wife, Mary Holmes is heading up the operation. She’s a fun person to work with, Irish and sporting a great accent. Here’s the photo I was given of Mike: .and here’s what […]

Buggy
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A while back, I was contacted by the wonderful Diane Villa at the North Carolina Zoo concerning a new project they’ve got on the horizon: BUGS! An EPIC Adventure. You see, giant Elephants from Africa and Lions that could tear your throat out and feast on your remains are not the draw they once were. People need something more to attract them to a zoo. Even if it’s one of the finest zoos in the country…even the world. I don’t get it.   If you’ve not been to the NC Zoo and you’re nearby, definitely make the trip you will NOT be disappointed. When I was a kid, the San Diego Zoo had a tv show on Sunday mornings. That zoo was so awesomely huge and interesting it warranted a tv show. The NC Zoo is that good. The Aviary alone will blow your mind with its exotic plant life and psychedelic birds. It’s a gorgeous place. But.. if you want to get the parents off the couch, there has to be something different there. The last few years it was Dinosaurs.   Now, I never got the Dinosaur thing. I figured they’d be really mechanical and fake like every roadside dinosaur I’ve ever seen in my life so I never shelled out the couple bucks extra at the exhibit. That was until I was invited by Diane Villa and Adrian Fowler to come see the exhibit and talk about its replacement: Bugs! Ironic, huh? Go from the biggest damned […]

Tattoo You
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I’ve been given the honor of designing a tattoo for a friend. How someone would trust me to design something that will be on display on their body FOREVER is beyond me. It’s actually not the first time. You may not know it (or believe it) but I was an actual Jarhead for a few years, a Leatherneck, a Gyrene, one of Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children…a Marine. I designed a number of tattoos for various friends or platoon-mates during my tenure. Never got one myself though. I guess I didn’t trust myself and never saw anything that I’d care to look at on my ass forever. Jason and I met through my work for the ailing Gill McFinn’s t-shirt line when it was in full swing. He won a Zombie Bass shirt and we’ve been in touch ever since. So, naturally when he wanted a Skeleto-Catfish tattoo, I was the go-to guy. Having designed many of my best fish shirts while flat on my back on the couch in the living room due to a slipped disk, I figured that’s where I’d work. Good mojo there. So, I spent a couple hours with Patty Duke re-runs on Antenna TV sketching out this: I’ve actually added some ink to it here. I didn’t think I’d be making a blog post at that point. Then I realized how long it’s actually been! You can see the pencil hiding under the ink here: Well, I spent some time cleaning up the pencil with […]

Adding Some Torque
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There were guys in 8th grade that could draw the coolest cars, choppers, dragsters…you name it. I envied them as I drew my little people with big noses. Being able to draw stuff like that gave you some bus-cred. In addition, I should have concentrated on drawing women more at this stage in my life. I still have a hard time drawing babes. Being able to draw babes is very helpful in this business. Anyhow, A fellow local artist contacted me recently to commission a portrait of her husband’s Hot Rod. Some guys get all the luck, I guess. So, wanting to eventually own a hot rod myself, I accepted. The art direction consisted of this: Make it cooler than it actually looks and make sure it has Moon Eyes and Mr. Horsepower on it. Add his racing numbers if you feel it’ll look cool. Who is Mr. Horsepower, you ask? Moon Eyes? If you were a child in the 60s as I was you probably got Car-Toons magazine (check some examples out here). It was full of gags about hot rods etc. In the back were adds for companies like Hurst Shifters, Moon Racing Wheels and Clay Smith Cams(Mr. Horsepower), you know, stuff to soup your car up. They all had cool stickers and we wanted them, so we’d write a letter to the companies…”Dear Sirs, Please send me a Moon Eyes sticker. I think Moon Racing Wheels are the coolest wheels, etc” Even though we were 7 years […]

They Like It “Rough”
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As noted in an earlier post, I often covet the wonderful inking styles of some of my cartoon compadres and yearn to be able to ink like them. Bobby London’s wonderful, loopy Segar-esque style, Anton Emdin’s clean, fat lines and Jim Woodring’s sculpted chiaroscoro renderings. I got all artsy-fartsy there, didn’t I? Well, try as I may the forces of the art director world are against me. They like my stuff rough. (Poetry!) I once did a rough sketch for MAD and sent it in for approval. I got the go-ahead so I busily went to work inking and cleaning it up, doing so directly on the drawing. When I sent the thing in, they were all “What Happened!”-like. They like the look of my pencils: rough. and nobody likes ‘em rougher than Crazy Shirts. They’ll often take a tiny thumbnail I’ve drawn during a brainstorm and turn it into a shirt. Crazy Shirts works like this: They send out a “design review” to freelancers in which a number of subjects are listed that they’d like to see made into shirts. For example: Palm Springs, Florida, Vegas or something like “Beer”. You see, they have specialty dyed shirts at Crazy Shirts, shirts dyed in beer, wine, coffee and for this example rum. A waste of good liquor? Nah. They make really nice quality shirts, it’s worth a little booze. I do a lot of beer shirts for them. Well, we freelancers do up some sketches, send ‘em in and get feedback. […]