Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Edvard Munch

Allow me to get a little arty here. I've been a fan of Edvard Munch's work since I was a teen. There are many paintings and prints of his that are forever stored in my memory. Some of them are so powerful, they're almost like totems or something to me and I find myself occasionally doing my own variations on some of his works, trying to get to the heart of their meaning for me. I am in no way comparing myself to Munch, of course, I'm just saying that I, like countless other illustrators, like to riff on some of his ideas and images... I just never do variations on "The Scream". That would be pure hackery.

Sometimes, the Munch influence is deliberate, sometimes it's unconscious and I only discover it later, after I've finished a drawing. Below are a couple of drawings influenced by two of my favourite Munch images.

In the first case, I was actually thinking about the Munch image "2 people: the Lonely Ones" and was trying to remember it as as I was drawing this piece.

In the 2nd case, I wasn't actually thinking about the Munch painting "Amore And Psyche". The influence was purely subconscious and I only realized it months after I drew it.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Kensington Market

Just a quick marker sketch of Kensington market in downtown Toronto. Guess who's in the foreground...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Comics are for Kids!

I'm a firm believer in the value of comics as a way to teach literacy to young children. I know reading comic books helped me to learn english when I was just a 6 year old boy and new to the country. In the last couple of years, I've seen a dramatic increase in interest and attention paid to comics by children's publishers. Many of them are seeing the potential of the medium to reach reluctant readers and engage kids who are used to a high degree of stimulation from their media. My good friend Liam O'Donnell has written more about this in his blog, but I think its great. Just from a personal artistic viewpoint, I've always enjoyed and looked for opportunities to draw comics for a young audience but have found that part of the marketplace badly served in the past. I'm really hoping that this new interest in comics by children's publishers will lead to a greater comic readership among kids.

The above two images were recently completed assignments for children's publishers. The first was a cover for a educational comic about genes and cells while the second is the cover for the Jan/Feb episode of "Max Finder Mystery", appearing every month in Owl Magazine.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

a little portrait

Here's an old portrait of me and my lovely and talented wife, Claudia Davila, that I did with markers. I like how I'm all clean-shaven in this one. I drew this years ago, but found it recently while browsing through some files and thought it'd be fun to post. Incidentally, you can check out Claudia's own blog at www.franlife.blogspot.com.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Toronto back alleys pt 2

Another 2am posting, this time more Toronto alley sketches. As I mentioned previously, I like going for night time walks in the summer. And I've always been drawn to that orange street light colour. That glow has a particular emotional quality for me. Orange streetlamps always make me think of empty mall parking lots and back alleys and a kind of teenage lonliness and angst. Maybe I just remember too many nights walking home late and alone and cutting through side streets...

These sketches were drawn in the summer. They were done very small, in ink and brush with some Dr. Martin dyes for the colour.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

old-school pen and ink

Until recently, I never really worked in pen and ink. That is, whenever I drew in black and white, I worked mainly with brushes. I was never a fan of modern cross-hatching styles and was always more interested in artists who drew 1 precise line over 50 little hatched ones. One time a friend of mine who was very good with pen and ink tried to teach me how to use nib-pens and was horrifed to find out I didn't even know how to hold one correctly.

However, a couple of winters ago, I re-discovered the work of some old-school pen and ink masters and I was absolutely floored. I had seen some examples of work by guys like Joseph Clement Coll, Charles Dana Gibson and Franklin Booth years before, but at that time I didn't even understand how the work was done. I thought it was some form of print-making or something. When I saw it again recently, I GOT it. These guys were just incredible artists, and treated pen-and-ink work like oil-painting -- only they just built up their tones using lines not colour. My favourite of the old masters is Orson Lowell, and I discovered his work mostly through the fine "Illustration" magazine put out by Jim Vadeboncoeur. If you like pen-and-ink illustration, especially from it's glory days in the early part of the 20th century, I highly recommend you try and find his work -- its unequalled.

The above sketches are my attempts to play around with pen-and-ink. I don't do much of it, still prefering to use brushes, but I have at least learned to hold a pen correctly. They were all drawn from an issue of "Slam!", an NBA basketball magazine. See if you can guess which players I've messed up the likeness on...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Argg, matey!

Just a quick little ink sketch from my sketchbook. I think I had just bought a pile of educational flashcards about pirates at a yardsale for a buck and was reading them at the time. The flashcards all had reproductions of paintings of pirates on one side with facts and stories printed on the other. The paintings were great, done in an old-school gouache style, and I figured I could use them sometime as reference if I ever got a pirate themed assignment. Of course, I never did, but who knows? Maybe in the future?

work work work!

Another night, another tight deadline. Tonight it's "Max Finder Mystery" -- the comic feature I draw each month for Owl Magazine (a fine canadian children's publication). Written by Liam O'Donnell, it features 7th grade detective Max Finder as he solves mysteries and crimes around him hometown. I'm currently frantically drawing up the March 2006 edition, but here's a sketch of some of the main cast members.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

day jobs

As I write this, it's well past 3am and I'm going through the usual freelancer hell of tight deadlines. 2006 seems to be especially busy, and I've been spending many long nights drawing at my table while listening to the radio. I shouldn't complain -- I actually like working at night much more than during the day. There's less interruptions and time seems to stretch out more, which is good for the creative process. And tight deadlines force me to get more creative and less finicky. And no matter what, I still prefer working at home in my studio to working a day job in a cubicle somewhere.

The drawing above was originally produced for Canadian Business Magazine, and accompanied an article on Gen-Y losers in the marketplace...

Monday, January 09, 2006

back alleys

I'm posting this around 2am, which is fitting with the theme of this sketch. One of my favourite things about living in downtown toronto is exploring back-alleys. I also like to take night-time walks (it fits with my schedule), and love the way alleys and hidden side-streets look at night -- lit up with that lonely orange street-light.

Friday, January 06, 2006

More Kirby fannishness!

Another of my favourite Kirby creations is The Inhumans. Black Bolt has to have one of the coolest super-hero costume designs ever. I drew this one as a gift, and I liked it enough to keep a scan.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Kirby Rules!

Along with Roy Crane, Noel Sickles, Wally Wood and Joe Kubert, Jack Kirby is one of my all time favourite comic artists. If you're a comic artist yourself, you probably also dig Kirby. If not, you should! In centuries to come, they'll be talking about him the way art historians talk about Giotto or El Greco or Picasso. And he left waay more stuff behind to admire than any of those guys. My all time favourite Kirby series? The New Gods! My favourite Kirby character? Forager the Bug!


Hey all,

Michael Cho, here! Thanks for viewing this little sketchbook page of mine. I'll post new drawings and doodles from time to time here, for your perusal. Comments and critiques are always welcome!