Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Yes, THAT Jack Davis!

(This post copied from the Artblog, because I didn't want to bury it under all the sketches I'm about to start putting in there...)

Yep, I'm gettin' fat. Yep, I'm gettin' a bit bald. But by golly, I got to meet Jack Davis on Saturday night at the CAPS Banquet, so I don't really care whether my head is shiny. Jack is really, really nice and friendly and happy, and graciously accepted all the praise and honor we gave to him. I'm still pretty wonked out about meeting him. Pretty mind-blowing... see, he's looking at one of my favorite bits of his, "World's Most Obnoxious Sports Fan" from this December 1975 issue:

Which has seen better days, but is now autographed. So now I have a nice memento of meeting one of my favorite (and one of the best) cartoonists ever. I got to tell Jack that I had gone to my first baseball game earlier that year (Mets vs. Dodgers at Shea) and this piece made me almost pass out with laughter, because I swear that guy (the Obnoxious Sports Fan) was sitting right behind us (or was it next to us?) - I thought maybe Jack had sat next to the same guy at some point, and based it on him.

Jack is so cool that not only did we cartoonists honor him, but at the banquet he received letters of recognition from former Presidents of the United States Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, both of whom he caricatured in the 1970s. Now that there is some major respect, when you can cartoon (sometimes unflatteringly) the Leaders of the Free World and they send you love and praise. Whoof!

Also, Paul Coker Jr., another most excellent Mad cartoonist, was there for the party. I didn't get a chance to talk to him, sadly. There were a lot of people there, I was lucky just to get up to say hi to Jack. Ah well...

I'm not the only one who's geeking out, by the way. :)

I hope I get to meet Mort Drucker too, that would be the Mad Magazine Trifecta, which of course includes this guy here:

I got really lucky and won this door prize, a 7-piece PVC figurine set of Sergio Aragon├ęs "Groo" characters, which Sergio was kind enough to not only sign, but draw Groo and his dog Rufferto on the box. The Girlfriend (who took these pix) won a comic book of Sergio's from 1977, published by DC, and he also signed and sketched on that. Sergio is her #1 favorite cartoonist ever, with Paul Coker Jr. following at #2. Needless to say we were both very happy with our luck! We figure that if we ever have grandkids, this piece might net them enough on eBay after we're gone (no way I'd ever sell it while I'm alive!!) to put them through college.

Regular readers know I see Sergio about every month at our CAPS meetings, so this isn't such a mind-blowing event for me, but... well, yeah, it is. Sergio is on my top 10 list of not only finest cartoonists ever, but finest human beings ever, since I've gotten to get to know him. He is just a truly impressive person, who is still just as wide-eyed and excited about his gifts and his drawing and his life as a 6-year old boy - but of course he is also a man, who has traveled the world and experienced life in all its splendor and horror, and come through shining. Everyone I know who knows him loves him, and he is unfailingly positive and wonderful to everyone to whom he speaks. If you asked me right now, "who would you most like to emulate in life," the answer, without hesitation, is Sergio Aragon├ęs.

Just to show that I've actually been drawing from time to time, here's a sketch I did at the CAPS meeting last week, a little city plaza perspective that just sort of flowed off my pen during the presentation by the Hellboy Animated guys. I might just set up a more rigorous perspective (it's not very accurate here) and attempt to paint this one...

And finally, I've joined the CGSociety CG Challenge 20, where I'll be competing with hundreds of other concept and CG artists for some nice prizes. Considering some of the incredible artists who are participating, I doubt I'll win anything, but it will be good experience and a little exposure in my field, so it will be fun. I have to post progress images as part of the contest, so I'll put them up here as well.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Official Sopranos Game Site

HBO now has an official site for our game The Sopranos: Road to Respect. There's a bunch of info about the game and a few bits of behind-the-scenes stuff to check out. You can even pre-order the game right now, which I know all you gamers out there who own PS2s will do, right?? RIGHT?? Don't make me go Jersey on your asses. You all have some nice things out there. It would be a terrible shame if something were to happen to it, wouldn't it? Cuz, y'know, stuff happens, capice?

All you Jersey-ites will recognize a lot of different stuff in the game and catch some little inside jokes here and there. There are several locations that aren't part of the TV show, which we built from scratch using photos and pulling stuff out of our brains from growing up there, since three of us artists including my boss are from NJ. I think you're gonna like it.

There's a link to the "Making of..." video which aired last Friday on HBO - I got it on my DVR, yay - so you can watch that online. The actors and David Chase, the creator of the show, seem like they're pretty psyched about the game and pleased with how it's come out. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, I think it really is a Sopranos "episode," it has the feel and it works. While a bunch of my co-workers are interviewed, I'm not in the video (which is good cuz I'm damn ugly on film), but a whole bunch of my work shows up, several concept sketches and a lot of scenes that I did the camera work for. Also, as a fun little bonus, there's a very quick shot of a guitar used as a weapon - yep, it's my Les Paul. :) The sound effect when you bash someone with it is my old blue hot-rod strat, which I have here in my cube for when I take breaks from drawing.

So, we're live and nationwide, so that's good. The game comes out November 7, according to the site, so first you go vote, then head to the game store and pick this one up.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sopranos Game video up

SpikeTV's show Gamehead does a spot on our game "The Sopranos: Road To Respect." It was shot in our office, and my boss is in it for a bit. A lot of the in-game shots they show are ones that I did, the Satriale's exterior shots, shots from the Bing mostly. Our CEO is in it for a bit, with his huge MegaMan painting from I Am 8-Bit in the BG!

There are 4 parts to the show, our bits run at the beginning of each segment. Enjoy!

Monday, October 02, 2006

I'm back, but WTF Blogger??!

So, I'm back, we're back, we had a nice vacation on the cruise. More about that in a bit.

First of all, what the hell is wrong with Blogger these days?? I tried to upload some art before I left; no worky. I just sent a phonecam message to my proper blog address, a pic of our ship which should be up here; nothing. The site seems to barely function and I'm wondering if this post will even show up. So I'm going to test it right now.

Aaaaaaaaand... it's still barely functioning. Ah well. This is really annoying, but what do I want for free?

Vacation week. Yes. It's good to not work for a week. The cruise was fun, but not perfect. There were many great moments and pleasant experiences, but we learned there are downsides to being on a ship for several days, the worst of which is probably that there are about 3000 other people (including the crew) who come from many different locations... and bring all sorts of exotic germs with them. Your immune system takes a massive hit from this sort of thing, and it put The Girlfriend down for the count for a full day, while I also felt not 100% but wasn't flat on my back from it.

What I was flat on my back from was the hangover, or rather the wake-up-still-drunk-over, which resulted from me consuming 10 1.5 oz snifters of Courvoisier VS cognac. Yes, that's right, I said 10 (ten). Amazingly, that didn't kill me! I was also able to stave off the worst of the hangover with a bloody mary and a couple of strategically-nursed beers. I guess it's good to know I can still take a night of drinking, but that's a dubious distinction at best. And that's one of the other downsides, too: the booze ain't cheap, plus they give you an onboard "credit card" (which doubles as your room key and ID) to which everything you buy onboard ship is charged... which is nicknamed the "Drink and Sink Card." It wasn't as bad for me as I might be implying, but I can see how someone could get into massive trouble with that arrangement, especially since the card also serves as your money interface with the casino slot machines and cashier! *Shudder* yeah, that one we stayed faaar away from, yikes.

We went snorkeling in Catalina, and that was really cool. They even had a set of prescription goggles so TGF could see underwater, excellent. Many thanks to The Parents for loaning us the rest of our snorkeling gear, it was most helpful! We sang some karaoke, I in my rented formal-night tuxedo, and that was fun. TGF spent an afternoon at the spa where they massaged and pampered her and sold her lots of skin-care products. We dressed up nice and got photographed a lot, and we bought a lot of the photographs, several of which actually managed to make me look decent, as opposed to my usual appalling non-photogenicity (is that a word?).

Other than that we mostly ate and also spent time around the pool. The food was really rather good. And I do mean good, like top-notch good for the most part. 4-star minimum. Except for the cheesecake, which was disappointing, but then again after our neighbor David's hand-made cheesecake, any other cheesecake would be disappointing.

The best part of the whole experience, I think, was that the crew and staff of the ship take absolutely extraordinary care of all the passengers. I mean, they really seem to go out of their way to make your stay as comfortable and enjoyable as possible, especially the cabin stewards who take care of your rooms. I know that tips are a big part of their income, but the service wasn't the sort of ingratiating, money-grubbing fake act that you find in so many places. They really seem to enjoy their jobs and enjoy treating people well and to want to be the best they can be at what they do. And it did rightly earn them some fat tips from me, and I hope everyone else on board. I hear that competition for cruise line jobs is stiff, so it must offer a lot of satisfaction. I guess when they're off duty, they get full run of the ship and passes for shore activities too. Not too shabby.

So that's the cruise. It was good, we would do it again, but not for a while yet. Next time we have a week off we'll probably just go up somewhere between Santa Barbara and Monterey and lay on the beach for the whole time. Yeah. That will work.

I'm not going to talk about football today, because the AFC North games this week made my head hurt. At least the Bengals got crushed, but this is gonna be a weird year for Pittsburgh.

OK lots of work to do so I'm off. I haven't drawn anything in nine days, so I actually want to do some work for a change! :)