Sunday, January 21, 2024

Student Spotlight: Jonah Newman


One of my GOAT students, Jonah Newman, has a graphic novel about to hit bookstores. It’s a beautifully illustrated and emotionally moving story of mastering baseball and coming out in high school. It’s already notching rave reviews.

When Jonah took my figure drawing for cartoonists class at SVA, he had already completed a graphic novel set in Napoleonic Europe. So I can’t pretend to have taught him much of what he knows. But I was able to coach him on figures holding baseball bats and twisting as they swing ‘n stuff like that. I’ll pat myself on the back for that one piece of it. Below are some of Jonah's other assignments:

character turnarounds and sample poses

cafe and subway observational sketching

drawing from life models

Check out Out of Left Field, coming from Andrews McMeel Kids imprint in March and join Jonah for the Launch event at Bluestockings, 116 Suffolk St., New York, NY. March 26 @ 7:30 pm ET. 

Meanwhile, my spring classes start soon. Let me help you draw figures in action and put them in comics.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Remembering Bill Anthony


It’s a little over a year since the apartment fire that took the life of my friend, artist William Anthony  I thought I’d offer a remembrance.

Raymond Queneau famously said “Nothing serious can be done without humor.” Bill embodied that principle, making carefully-crafted gallery paintings that parodied famous works of art and satirized American society. Can the world of fine art be expanded to include humor? Bill thought so, as did Duchamp, and as would I if I gave the art world much thought at all.

Bill’s style evolved from classes he taught in San Francisco in the early 1960s. He’d demonstrate to figure drawing students the common rookie mistakes alongside corrected drawings. When, at the end of the course, he’d make a composite figure of what not to do, the result struck him as charming and funny. So he adopted it for his work.

I met Bill when he presented at the New York Comics Symposium in 2014. We exchanged cards and Bill made a point of calling to check on me now and then. We’d meet at museums, or for drinks and dinner with his wife, Norma, and sometimes one of my daughters. 

One of my favorites. Bill said he stole the name plate from a MoMA exhibit many years ago. This hung in Bill and Norma’s apartment. I assume it was destroyed in the fire.

Bill never held back his opinions: Jasper Johns, good, Ad Reinhardt, Georg Baselitz, bullshit. He and Norma revived interest in Rick Barton, a forgotten draftsman who deserves our attention, motivating the Morgan Library to gather a show of his work.

From writing a chrysanthemum: the drawings of rick barton, published by the Morgan Library.

On a couple of occasions, I had Bill speak to my classes: Figure Drawing for Cartoonists at SVA Continuing Ed, where I always share his work, and for a group of precollege students at Parsons. For the precollege group, we had them try Bill’s general method: making every mistake they could think of as a way of assessing what they’d learned. The result was fun and instructive.

Student artwork from a Bill Anthony themed drawing exercise.

At Bill’s memorial service in September at the Westbeth artist community where he and Norma lived, the community room was packed with friends admirers, collectors, and family, many in Bill Anthony t-shirts. 

I did this comic where I tried out different drawing styles. This character is my attempted homage to Bill. I may have come close.

I’m a solitary guy. I don’t socialize much. Reflecting on my get-togethers with Bill and Norma and seeing their throng of admirable friends, it occurs to me that in my life they stand as role models, paragons of decent people being cultured and humane. I don't know if I'll ever measure up to their example, but I'll try to do my part to keep Bill's remarkable legacy alive.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Made Out of "Mac"

I've added a few new strips in my series based on the "Hero of the Beach" comic book ads.
I'm hoping to pull together a revised collection soon.

And here's an old one that I've improved somewhat:

Anyone interested in playing around with the comics form should consider trying my upcoming Comics Inventions course, Tuesday evenings in Manhattan, along with my other classes for SVACE. So many possibilities...

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Figure Drawing for Cartoonists: Improv Comics


My perennial favorite challenge in Figure Drawing for Cartoonists is when we have a model improvise a narrative from pose to pose while we improvise comic panels. 

It's one thing to draw figures effectively. It's quite another to draw them effectively on comic pages, composed in relation to the graphic elements, staged in appropriate camera angles, and finished in ink. Do all that on the fly, improvising dialog off the top of your head, allowed five minutes per panel, and I can't think of many challenges that are more fun.

Here are some recent examples of mine: 

More examples are here and here and here

It’s so great having models to study from. In this class, we tackle each topic from reference and imagination one week and from the model the next. It’s the best way to learn. 

Classes are slated to start February 1. Let’s draw figures!