Category Archives: American Splendor

SOMETIMES, THE ROUGH…and another of the increasingly late Hoverboy Fridays!

Clearly, I’m mad, I tell you.  MAD.

batrobinadv sketch 11

I’m one of those guys who spend their lives liking the rough sketch better than the final art.  It’s a curse.   I have a fondness for the scribbled, eccentric, humanistic and unembarrassed linework of a rough sketch.  There’s a lovely connection to movement and thought in the first contact with the image to muscles and paper,  often softened unbearably by turning it into a final illustration.   As a professional drawer-boy, I’m always fighting between “cleaning it up” and “letting it live”.

The Batman sketch from an old, old Adventures cover, (which I just found in a box yesterday, and hence this post) is less than three inches high.  It’s drawn in pencil and a thick pentel marker which was clearly drying out, as the background becomes less dark to the right. But the sense of danger, the monster, and the expressions on everyone’s face works for me in a way the final doesn’t.

harvey pekar rough to finishMy Pekar’s AMERICAN SPLENDOR work last year did the same thing to to me.  I was going for a very sedate, “realistic” Curt Swan type of storytelling for Harvey, since that was the basic feel of this particular script…but the rough layouts had a Kirby-like energy to them, with a lively and playful sense of proportion that I wish had fit the story.

( for more Harvey online, click here)

Again, these layouts are about three inches tall, and the final art is fifteen inches high…so the movements spideytorch 2 1 roughof your hands vs. the movements of your shoulders are going to be different.

I just got through reading an issue of Marvel’s new “STRANGE TALES” comic, with folks like Peter Bagge, and James  Kochalka doing very indy looking work on Marvel super-heroes.  Astoundingly great fun, and some of the pages have the same feel as my rough pages do…before I clean myself up.

If only I hadn’t seen so much Harvey Kurtzman while growing up.  I could rid myself of this demon of liking the roughs.



hovermuppetHoverboy Fridays continue to wander the calendar, and we find one barging into Sunday.  I’m only making this rare exception to move Hoverboy Fridays from its regular spot on Tuesdays, to this weekend, because the most recent update is topical!  It has to do with Hoverboy’s very tenuous connection to Sesame Street, which celebrated it’s 40th, or 45th anniversary this week, I wasn’t paying enough attention when Wolf Blitzer mentioned it.

Go to the Hoverboy museum and read more about this astounding connection between Kermit the Frog and The Boy Who Hovers. (for those who don’t hyper link well).

Ty the Guy.  AWAAAY!

My inner Mad

021 jay leno

00 spockWhen I put up those Harvey Pekar sketches last week, I mentioned that neither of the drawings were in my “usual” style of doing a likeness.  At this point in my career, I’m not sure I have a style, but I do have some vague idea of what sort of final drawing will look right to my eyes, and these ideas are usually rooted in Mort Drucker and John Severin…two of the great Mad artists of my youth.

As you can see by the drawing of a young Jay Leno (done for a Canadian TV Guide some years ago) and the Movie Spock (done for my own amusement last year), my line work tends towards Drucker’s when I’m just trying to make a portrait.

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Oddly enough, when I fit a likeness into a story (as I did with these panels from various editions of the Factoid BIG BOOK series, or as I’m currently doing with my fun Dexter gig), I find my line work and sensibility tends towards John Severin.   Probably because Severin was slavishly realistic, and Drucker was more playful.

00 orsonEither way, when you add the Jack Davis influence in the Pekar drawing below (coupled with a blatant attempt to inject a little R. Crumb in there, another Harvey Kurtzman protege), I’ve obviously never gotten over my early crush on Mad Magazine.

And I ain’t never gonna.

Ty the Guy

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Happy 70th Birthday, Harvey Pekar.

Here’s a couple of drawings I did this week to celebrate Harvey Pekar’s 70th Birthday.

Harvey 1

(Click to see the many lovely contributions from a host of other artists at the Harvey Pekar Project Online at

The realistic portrait I did first– sort of in the the style of Gene Day.  My wife had recently coloured a portrait of Gene for her work, and it had caused a mild nostalgia in me, enough to pull out a bunch of Gene’s Batmans and Masters of Kung Fu… With all those comics in my brain Gene’s style crept into my hands as I was sketching this portrait of Harvey, which it’s never done before, but I’m clearly more of a Zelig than I wish to be.  AK!  GHOST OF GENE DAY!!

Harvey 2

In the long run, I didn’t like the Gene Day-ish drawing because it’s basically just a portrait of Harvey, sketched from a photo, and really, didn’t bring anything to his unique and iconic character– beyond my skills to capture a likeness, and an odd departure for the way I usually draw (which, when I do portraits,  is far more like Mort Drucker –I’ll show you guys later…).

So after an hour or so of carefully capturing Mr. Pekar’s likeness, and inking and washing it in a casual style (to disguise all the labour and erasing in doing the basic portrait), I tossed the whole thing out, and did a cartoon of Harvey out of my head in about three minutes that feels like HARVEY PEKAR to me, even if it doesn’t look as exactly like him.  The madness, the beauty and the Harvey-ness of the character is more “correct” IMHO, when rendered in an expressionist and unconscious way.  Somehow, making it look too much like Harvey the human being, is almost a disservice to Harvey, the beloved comic character.

And I know he’d disagree with me, which is why I LOVE the man.

Happy Birthday Harvey.  You are a treasure to our medium, and it’s always a joy to share a page or a conversation with you.

Harvey 1

Harvey 2

Now, is it just me, or does the second one look like “Middle-Aged Man Logan?”.

Ty the Guy.

Something New…

Just added into The Art Store the Mad Magazine piece, the Superman drawing, the Harvey portraits and a page from Secret Origins with Elongated Man and Flash. More to come as soon as Ty loads up the scanner…

Artwork Deux

Ty decided to try something new with his American Splendor pages. He’s always been a perfectionist with his inking, and is known for his clean, tight style.  For this, he aimed for a looser style, and was drawing on paper rather than board–his thinking was that, on board, an artist has the idea that they have to get every line right (there’s only so much erasing you can do without ruining the board and having to do a patch).  With paper, he could just crumple it and throw it out; this freed him just to put the lines down and not stress.  Ty was pretty pleased with how it came out.

pekar splendor panels