Evolution of Comics

29 Jul

It’s pretty clear that comics evolve.  Intentionally?  Nope.  It just happens (if you don’t believe me, go look at early Peanuts comic compared to what they became).

My work has actually evolved more than I thought.  And when I say evolve, I’m talking about the look, writing and basically everything.

If you look waaaaaay back, there is a dramatic difference.  Like, big time.  But, I’ll save that for a different blog post.

Today, I’m going to show you some material from about five years ago.

As many of you know, I’m in the process of launching my own site where ALL my comics will be available for licensing, prints, etc.  I’m stoked.  I’m so excited to have a place for my clients to browse my work – pain-free.  Currently, it’s not as accessible and instantaneous as it needs to be.

So, that being said, I’m editing and going through my old stash of material.

Some of it, eh, not bad.

Other ones, yeah – I’m not too sure.

BUT, I’m always shocked by what cartoons strike a chord with some clients.  What I consider not too great often times works well with a particular publication, premise, etc.  A lot of the examples I’m about to show you were actually considered for Reader’s Digest and other magazines.


That means I use all of my material I’ve compiled over the years.  Yes, even the old stuff.

Below is a look at some of the older cartoons I’ve created.

You’ll notice I feature a lot of kids and a lot of yellow.  My target audience at this time in my life was magazine/print publications.  So, I tried to add the ‘cute’ factor and make them as family friendly as possible.  Well, most of them.  The battered PC probably wouldn’t make the cut in Woman’s World.

And if you’re a business, individual or anyone interested in licensing my cartoons, I do have my work available via Cartoonstock currently.  You can click through my archives at this link (CLICK HERE) and it’s a great place to see a mix of the old and new so you can compare.

A Souvaneer (1)

Appliance Birthday (1)

Are we there yet (1)Battered Windows (1)Bland Cooking (1)Blender Fun (1)Father's Day Comic (1)Its Burning (1)Sandcastle Foreclosure (1)

Beach in Hawaii

24 Jul

I wrapped up my newest oil painting last week.  This one was commissioned – not just for the fun of it.

My client had a photo of a beach scene in Hawaii.  I worked with the image and created this on a 36″ X 48″ canvas.  Not typically how I paint (going off a picture) but I had a blast creating it and I like the way it turned out.  Of course, next time I wouldn’t mind actually going to Hawaii to paint something like this.  Oh well.

The person who commissioned this is happy and all is well.  That’s always good.

So, here it is.

photo-4Above:  Beach in Hawaii, 36″ X 48″ oil on canvas

One thing I learned in art school (waaaay back in the day) is to draw what you see – not what is there.  I use that principal with all my work.  However, I did emphasize the waves on this painting a bit more intentionally than normal.  Mostly because the client really wanted a strong focus on this part of it.  So, yes, I drew what I saw.  But I did add a few highlights knowing damn well that they were waves.  Please don’t tell any of my old college art professors.

photo-6Above:  A closeup of the beach/waves.  The paint is still not totally dry, by the way.

I absolutely love doing commissioned work and hope to expand my clients.  Yes, I am a cartoonist, but more and more painting has become a real passion as well.  It always has been, but I’ve experienced some-what of a reemergence of it.  I guess it’s just a nice change of pace from just the silly gag cartoons and comics.  So, if you’re in need of a painting, well…..

More to come!

In the meantime, here is the painting being displayed in the clients business office.

photo-5Above:  Yes, it needs a frame.  One is coming soon.

A Tale of Gaters

21 Jul

I have just returned from a road trip to Huntsville, AL, to go to my dad’s retirement party.  Yes, after 40 years of being a Lutheran pastor, he is living the dream of doing whatever he wants.  Congrats, dad!

Great trip.  Great time.

I generally LOVE road trips.

I like the freedom of the open road, the nasty fast food that ensues and all the different scenarios along the way.  Good stuff.

The ONE thing though that I have – and have yet to find a cure for – is road rage.  Er, actually, it’s more of a road irritation.  Rage is a rather strong word, don’t you think?

Now, listen, I don’t get it that bad.  But I do have it.  And really the only reason I get it is when someone rides my a$@.  You know, is driving WAY to close behind me.

For the life of me, I’m not sure why this pisses me off so much.  But it does.

Okay, I take that back.  I think I do know.  I think the main reason it does (pisses me off) is because of the whole common courtesy aspect of it.  I don’t do that to people, but they do it to me.  It’s like being a close-talker:  you’re supposed to leave some space or you’re annoying.

TailgaterAbove:  ‘Tailgating’ – totally different.

Usually what I do is tap on the breaks if a person does this.  If they continue on, I gently slam on them so they have to slow waaaay down and possibly run right into me.

I know, I know.  Stupid.  Stupid on my part considering I hate a good ol’ auto accident more than tailgaters.  BUT, I can’t help it.  It’s as if I must teach the person a lesson.

What gets to me as well is when they do this and I’m in the right.  For example, I can maybe understand riding on someones bumper if they’re cruising in the passing lane and, well, not passing.  But other than that, there’s no reason.

A few examples of when I get irritated is when there’s a slow car in front of me.  I can’t help but go the pace of the car that is in front.  Yet, some jerk gets on my rear-end like I can do something about it.  Like I can speed up.  No, you moron, I can’t speed up.  There’s a car in front of me.  You twerp.

Or, if I’m cruising on the right-hand lane of the highway, minding my own business, and someone tailgates.  This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I turn red and think, “Why?!”.

So, here’s the deal…

I know that the rest of my life there will be people that ride my a$@.

As long as people drive, as long as there are roads and as long as there are inconsiderate idiots,  this will take place.

I no longer want this to ruin my road trips and somehow I need to get over this aspect of life.  It’s as sure as drizzle in Ohio.  It’s gonna happen.

Listen, I’m not the best driver on earth either.  I speed.  Like, I speed a lot.  But, my speeding typically when I have free range of the highway.  And I don’t distract another driver with my speeding.  The only person that I believe might get irritated are the friendly highway patrol people.  But the thing is, I’m honestly considerate out there.  I’ll let people in, obey the laws and am pretty well aware of my surroundings and how I’m acting behind the wheel.


Does anyone have advice on how to handle road rage?

I don’t think I have it bad enough to park the car and start throwing coffee cups at a car that upsets me, but still, I hate getting so angry over something so stupid.

So, that’s my goal for the next road trip:  Laugh at tailgater, not cuss.

I think it will help my blood pressure, my uncouth outburst and overall improve my road trips that I o’ so love.

How do you handle those bad drivers?  (Or, maybe you are one.).

Drawing Board Exposed

13 Jul

I’ve always had an interest in seeing where other artist work.  The source of where something is put together is intriguing to me.  So, with that being said, I thought I’d share MY work space.  No, not my whole office.  Today, I wanted to just give you a glimpse of where the drawings come to life.  Where else would that be but my trustworthy drawing board.  Or drawing table.  Whatever.  Call it what you will.

This day and age, I would think that most cartoonist work digitally.  Like, 100% digitally.  I could be wrong on this, but from what I hear and see, it seems to be the case.  I am old school.  Call me crazy, but I love to use India ink, a dip-pen and Bristol board.  Something about having the original art is, well, quite nice (even though I have piles and piles of thousands of comics now).  And who likes change?  Not this guy (except changing the channels on a boring television show is quite satisfying).

Now, using the ‘old school’ method can also prove frustrating.  I have had numerous ink spills, accidents and uncooperative pens in my years of cartooning.  Several uncouth adjectives were also expressed here at times when things didn’t go my way.

You’ll see this.

I have pictures.

So, without further ado, I’ll share some with you.

10524075_10152201245094117_1071164814_nAbove:  The whole view of where I work

As you can see I am definitely using the classic instruments to produce work.  You can see the t-square, tape and all the stuff on the right hand side that consist of ink, erasers, pencils, nibs and a few things that probably don’t even belong there.  If I were a cartoonist at the turn of the 20th century I think it would look the same (except that lamp would’ve probably been a candle or something else).

10529527_10152201245084117_939345722_nAbove:  The area I’m talking about on the right hand side of my table.

I like to refer to my workspace as organized chaos.  To a normal viewer, it looks like a mess.  Anyone who is a neat freak would cringe at the way I have everything setup.  BUT, cleanliness is the last thing you think about when making art.  If I concentrated on putting my pen back in its proper place other than how well my line quality is, well, I’m guessing a lot of my work would come out crappy.

Everything you see has a purpose.  I couldn’t do what I do without them.

10529676_10152201245099117_2000504648_nAbove: A little closer view (you’re welcome).

Okay, if you look at the above picture – you see all that tape and stuff?  Notice the massive ink stains?  It’s all part of the work.  Actually, the more beat-up and battered my drawing table looks the happier I feel about it.  It means I’m working a lot.

10531312_10152201245089117_1355045955_nAbove:  The ink

India ink is an interesting substance.  It’s bold and black and very effective for cartooning.  The downside of it is if you get it on ANYTHING, the chances of it coming up are rare.  I remember at my old studio after high school I was living with my dad and step mom and I ended up spilling a bottle on the carpet.  In a frantic move I tried  – I believe – every soap imaginable to try to get it off the floor, but nothing worked.  So, I did the next best thing and tried to hide it. I think I put a trash can or something over it so it wasn’t obvious.  At any rate,  I’m pretty sure they noticed it after I moved out.  Anyhow, my point is it’s brutally permanent.  And it’s runny.  So, if you ever decide to use India ink, be careful.  As you can see from this picture there’s quite a mess of it.  I have had several spills.

Well, that is that.

I plan on posting again at some point about my ENTIRE office and what all I have.  Maybe I’ll dig into a bit more information about my drawing table as well.

I guess I can point out that I do use Photoshop and digitally color.  That I find much more professional than doing it by hand (I used to hand paint my work).  Saves me TONS of time.  And plus, painting can prove more frustrating than India ink when you can’t make the right color.

Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse.  I spend a vast majority of my time here (which is why I’m notorious for having to get out on the weekends).  It’s the most satisfying place in my house (even though my couch is quite comfortable).


Independence Day

5 Jul

Here’s just a quick snippet of a post, but I’m hoping that you had a great July 4th and are continuing to have an awesome weekend.  (Although, if you’re reading this after the holiday, well, then I guess you can’t continue to have fun on this particular weekend.  If that’s the case, I hope you had fun when this was posted.)

I’m a huge fan of Independence Day.  Not just for the entertaining explosives that burst frequently throughout, but because of the freedom of the holiday.  Sometimes I have to remind myself about freedom and how freaking good we have it.


The main reason I ever wanted to be a cartoonist is because of freedom (and a box of crayons as a child).  As a cartoonist, you have your say of where you work, when you work, how you work and just about everything.  Yes, there is WORK, but it’s so flexible in terms of how it’s all accomplished.  I think (maybe besides a painter or something of that nature) it’s a unique profession that there are few like.  And plus, what is better than coming up with something entertaining or funny daily?

I think having a 100% flexible schedule is probably one of the most valuable things a person could ask for.

I envision myself soon being able to have TOTAL control over my hours and my workload.  That’s the big picture, and honestly, the direction I’m going to get to this point is good.  I think I’m heading down the right path.  Whew!  It’s exciting to think about.

Show Off (1)

Currently, I still have a schedule of work that I’m trying to eventually rid myself of.  I’m after complete freedom – not just bits and pieces.  I kind of refer it as “half-assed” freedom with where I’m at with the hours and time my day is spent.

Freedom in general though, hey, I’m good.  There are a few countries out there that would probably ban my cartoons or not give me the freedom to put whatever I want on them.  Lame jokes can probably lead to an arrest in some areas.

So, not sure where you are with your work or profession, but I hope you are experiencing your time spent on things in a valuable way.  And maybe you’ll hit the mark with the freedom you’re after (hell, you might be there already).  Whether it be financial freedom, getting the kids out of the house and your own independent freedom or whatever.  Hope it happens.

Here’s to a happy July 4th!  Cheers.  And watch those limbs (don’t blow them off).

It’s Been Awhile

30 Jun

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  (Boy, I have no clue how many blog post I’ve opened up with that line, but I’m guessing tons.)

You know what though, I really do enjoy writing and would love to blog more.  Until I get this whole blogging-thing down (it’s been only, like, a decade since I started blogging) bear with me.  I still envision having a regular, well-written, observant blog for you someday.  (Okay, maybe excluding the well-written and observant part.)

Listen, I’ve been on a bunch of highs and lows with my cartooning career this year so far in 2014.

Good stuff?  Yeah, there has been a lot.  And there’s a lot that is (hopefully) on the way.  However, honestly, I’ve had my disappointments.  I’ve had a few things that didn’t pan out too well.

One of the lackluster approaches with cartooning was my online courses, Nate Ramblings, I started filming back in January.  You know, I had an okay time with them, but not as much fun as I originally thought.  And I didn’t think they turned out well.  I don’t know if I’m not made for camera, but I found myself sounding like a guy trying to pitch a product rather than offering much that’s too insightful.  I think for a GOOD art series, you need to have some good production.  Me?  I didn’t have the means or the budget for that, so it was just me, a camera and editing on my MacBook by yours truly.

Nate Ramblings received some really awesome feedback – and then some negative.  Nobody really watched them all the way through (I read the analytic s on YouTubeYikes!)  I didn’t really feel like I acted like myself.  I dunno.  Maybe I need acting classes or an internship with Bob Ross (er, wait – that can’t happen).

You know what though – I’m not heartbroken about it.

ONE area with the camera and I that I like is just a real quick view of me doing something on the drawing board.  I’ll probably do more of those.  That’s bound to hold an attention span better than my ten minute-plus long Nate Ramblings.  We’ll see.  It will either be that or cat videos.

Anyhow….back to this year so far.

One disappointing area has been my work with comedian, Tommy Blaze, and our series Knocking on Heaven’s Door.  And no, I’m not disappointed with Tommy.  But, oh my, things may have taken a turn.  I can’t share it with you – yet (in fear of jinxing the series….again).  But, more on that to come.  Let’s just say what started out as a disappointing year for the series eventually has turned, well, incredible (if all goes well).

KOHD_Cover__90928.1374597125.1280.1280Above:  Recently published book by Tommy Blaze and illustrated by me, Knocking on Heaven’s Door.

My work with clients has been cool.  Love all the clients I’m working with (thanks for being fantastic, clients).

THAT being said though, now I’m in the process of marketing my work elsewhere.  MORE clients.

I recently signed up with Cartoonstock and GagCartoons.com.

Both sites are excellent and I’m anxious to have my work featured on the sites.  However, as a cartoonist, I like having the ball in my court when it comes to marketing.  So, I feel it’s extremely necessary to have my own site that functions like the two I just noted.  All of my own work.  All about what I can do.  Sweet?

I had a site, NateFakes.org.

It was, well, not good.

All my comics were on it, but you couldn’t really search by category.  And to purchase cartoons you had to contact me directly.  No shopping cart or anything.  It stunk.  The functionality totally blew.  So, I whacked a wrecking ball into it and took that sucker down.  It was more of an embarrassment than anything.  (Don’t worry…..Don’t worry.  I still own the domain.)

My time has been eaten alive recently.  So, another area I’m not too thrilled about is not having enough of it (time) to work on things like my MAD Magazine articles.  I could probably be in each issue if I had an extra six to ten hours a week.  I’m not sure if that sounds cocky or whiny (or both) but it’s true.  MAD just takes awhile.  I think I’ll get this one figured out soon.

Let’s see…. What else?

My graphic novel, Don Giovanni, is still being created.  Again, it’s hard to find the time recently.  THAT is why I’m hoping that with some new potential big projects of mine, I can supplement my income by dropping a few other things and really focusing in on it.  (No, I’m not trying to drop client work but my “other” work that isn’t quite as appealing.)  I’m excited to get this done for my own sake.  God knows how well it will sell, but I want to continue down the graphic novel path in my near future in a big way.  Something quite fulfilling about imagining a collection of my own graphic novels.  And who the hell doesn’t want an Mozart opera set in the medium of funny drawings?

And my subscription service has been growing and growing.  Several hundred subscribers are on board now for my daily email and blog.  That’s right – I DO blog daily – but I consider them blurbs instead of blogs so I can’t use that as a supplement for lack of content here.  But, people are reading them and I don’t have many people UNSUBSCRIBE, so that rocks.

OH – and in other art news – painting.

Yes, I’ve been starting to oil paint again.  My previous blog post was about that.  THAT is something else I love doing.  I recently just got commissioned to do a painting (yes, for money) and am excited about taking several days to work on it.

Pop Art (1)Above:  No, this is not the kind of art I have been doing recently.  Although, it does look mighty tasty.

Well, for not having a blog post in awhile, I hope I’ve filled your head with some solid content.  At least for now.

I’ll write as time allows.  I will get consistent though at some point.  I think I’ve been saying that for years and you probably don’t believe me, but honestly – I will.  Writing is cool (huh-huh).

Please leave your feedback, thoughts or pizza coupons in the comments below.

Paint it Great

12 Jun

Recently I’ve started back up something that I actually vowed to do ALMOST A YEAR AGO (yeah, I’m a bit behind).  What is it?  Why, painting, of course.  And no, I’m not talking about finger painting either (even though I vowed to get back into that when I was five or so).  Nope.  Oil painting.  Yes, I’m back at it again.

I simply forgot how much I enjoy it.  It was absolutely great to get out on a nice, sun-drenched afternoon here around Dayton, Ohio.  (And having a sun-drenched afternoon in this area often times proves rare.)

The thing about not painting for awhile is once you get back into it, it becomes a question of WHAT to paint.  Houses?  Waterfalls?  Ronald McDonald?

I drove aimlessly around the area trying to find, well, a spot.  Like, the perfect location to park myself and equipment and just go-to-town on creating something.

Part of the reason I enjoy painting is it’s a chance to escape for awhile.  Get away.  I wanted to avoid people at all cost during this first excursion.  I believe I’ll get more bold and crafty with getting back with people around and painting, but not this time.  I wanted to just be me, myself and – I guess that’s all I was after.

SO – without dragging this post out too long, I’ll show you what I was able to come up with.

Painting for me is not about coming up with a pretty picture.  No, not at all.  It’s about just absorbing yourself into the work, again – escaping – and then drifting back to reality when it’s done (sorry for sounding so artsy-fartsy, but hey, it’s true).  And hey, you get to come back home with something.  Painting for me is probably equivalent to why some people enjoy fishing.  I actually try to avoid painting a ‘Happy Little Cloud’ and just go with what I see (with my own spin on it).

Anyhow, back to the location part (then I’ll wrap this up, I swear).

I found a dirt road that was along a river (the Great Miami River, to be exact) and a brown, rusty train bridge.  At any rate, I followed the unpaved drive and it landed my car at an old abandoned DP&L building (that’s Dayton Power & Light, for you out of towners).  The view was workable.  Water.  Bridge.  Trees.  Score!

Lot’s of trains came by as well.  An added bonus.  I’ve always been a bit fond of those things.

So, I spent all day outside.  Painting.

And below is the result.

Miami River Oil

Oil on canvas (I believe the dimensions are 24″ x 36″ – but don’t quote me on that.

So, the moral of the story is:  If you have something you’ve put off for awhile that you’ve wanted to do, just go out and do it, damn it.  You might find it quite, well, liberating.  I’m anxiously awaiting my next painting.  Maybe next time I’ll be bold and paint around people.  Or not.  Who cares.  Just run with whatever you feel like (I guess I’m prepping myself up here).


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