Here you'll find a variety of samples of my artwork, from illustrations and posters to set designs and production designs over the years. You'll also find information on some writing projects, as well as miscellaneous interviews and any other nonsensical tidbits of curiosity.


Dec. 29, 2011: Now available on Kindle & Nook...the perfect anti-Christmas gift!

It's been a long time since I've thought about my first book, How to Succeed in Heaven Without Really Dying. When people ask me to describe it, I spell it out in the most basic way: What if the guardian angel of It's a Wonderful Life was not sent to save George Bailey, but rather to goad him into actually committing suicide?

Ironically, this premise wasn't part of my original design when I started writing the screenplay, from which the book was based. It gradually evolved into it, as I found myself pulling elements from the classic holiday film, both in homage and to give it a dark, satirical spin. This setup is only a small part of the story -- and takes place about a third of the way in -- but it captures the gist of the basic premise.

I just discovered that iUniverse has distributed the book in a new Kindle edition and Nook edition (thanks for the non-notification, iUniverse customer service!) for those of you looking to read something during your holiday travels, knock yourselves out!

Hardcover:  ISBN 0-595-67154-3 $23.95
Paperback:  ISBN 0-595-34785-1 $13.95
eBook:  ISBN 0-595-79520-X $6.00
Kindle:  ASIN: B006Q93E7U $3.99
Nook: ISBN 9780595795208 $3.19

Dec. 4, 2011: In tribute to the holiday greeting cards of Edward Gorey:

Update 12/5: My friend David Byrd wrote the following message on Facebook in response to my holiday card. I'd delete it in embarrassment if it wasn't so damn twisted and hilarious.

Dearest Boy
Your Xmas Card is positively delicious and a brilliant Homage to the GREAT (but most unfortunately late) Mr. Gorey of Elephant House. He would surely kiss you on your Love Bump in sublime appreciation of your talent and mordant wit. We send you delectable Solstice Vibrations from our Tiled Bungalow on the Hill . . .

Nov. 24, 2011: Happy Thanksgiving!

15 years ago today I spent my first Thanksgiving away from my family, inside a tiny studio apartment within a crime infested section of Los Angeles' mid-Wilshire district. A girl named Mariana Kalpos, who lived 2 floors beneath me, came over and we feasted on badly rubbery turkey breast "tenders" I'd laid out on my artist's drafting desk. This makeshift dining table was at a slight angle, and our plates would gradually slide from one end to the other every minute or two. Yet somehow we managed to juggle keeping all the plates from falling while having a pleasant dinner conversation.

Whatever became of Mariana, I don't know; she moved away some months later, leaving California for good. But I'm happy to report that my cooking skills, apartment, and dining table have somewhat improved in the years since. I'd like to think in another 15 years, my fortunes will continue to improve...but perhaps I shouldn't be too greedy.

Best wishes to you all, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov. 20, 2011: The otherworldly work of Ul de Rico / Atreyu and The NeverEnding Story

One of my favorite childhood movies was THE NEVERENDING STORY, an elaborate 1984 fantasy directed by Wolfgang Petersen, and based on Michael Ende's beloved children's book (or at least the first half of it, as purists will admit). I recently watched the film again at a screening in Los Angeles, and was particularly struck by how unique its fantastic world looked. Cynics may carp about some of the film's dated special effects and animatronic work, but for its time it was quite astonishing, and there's never been another film quite like it. (Even the film's sequels grossly pale in comparison.) And in spite of their technical limitations, I personally feel there's far more magic to be found within those practical effects crafted with love and care in service to the story, than in anything glossy, digitized GCI can offer. (After all, who would seem more believeable to you: Kermit the Frog or Jar Jar Binks?)

Like H.R. Giger was to Alien, Italian concept artist Ul de Rico (aka Ulderico Gropplero di Troppenburg) was an instrumental creative factor in bringing the film's unique, one of a kind vision to life. When I first saw the movie at 11 years old, the lush, colorful landscapes seemed oddly familiar, but I couldn't quite understand why; I'd certainly never seen another movie that looked that way before.

It was some years later that I discovered the reason. De Rico was also the artist and illustrator of The Rainbow Goblins, a book my mother had given to me when I was very, very young. This gift was not chosen by coincidence, for even then, Mom always encouraged my artistic endeavors, and somehow knew that I'd take an instant liking to the book's vivid illustrations -- even if I wasn't quite old enough to read the words. When the book was reprinted in the late 1990's, I was quick to buy another copy. (Here's to you, Mom.)

Ul de Rico's website features not only his professional work, but pieces from his early years and training at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. You can also see some of his early concept sketches for The NeverEnding Story, including landscapes and character designs. (I've included a few samples here, along with screen captures from the final film.)

But let me go back to the subject of the screening by giving a personal shout out of thanks to actor Noah Hathaway, who played the lead role of Atreyu. Hathaway participated in a lively Q&A after the film, where he described the nightmare behind the production, and several near death experiences he endured:

  • Hathaway went through months of screentests and makeup work, got the part, then had to retest all over again when the original director was fired and Wolfgang Petersen stepped in. The casting process alone took the better part of a year.
  • Petersen was a perfectionist, sometimes demanding in excess of 50 takes, but couldn't speak any English.
  • Hathaway survived a broken back (from a horse accident), near drowning (accidently getting pulled under mud in the swamps of sadness scene), allergic reactions (to more damn mud), and near-blinding (a claw from the animatronic Gmork popped an eye out from its socket)...all by the ripe old age of 12! These accidents took a severe physical toll, eventually handicapping him from pursuing a dancing career. If such things happened nowadays in an American production, no doubt it would make for front pages headlines and child protective services would be called in!

Nevertheless, Hathaway was a real trooper, and showed a good sense of humor and pride about the film, its enduring cult status, and many fans. (Count me in as one of 'em.)

I'm happy to note that Hathaway's making a return to acting, including a lead role in the upcoming Sushi Girl opposite Mark Hamill, Tony Todd, Danny Trejo and Michael Biehn. They showed the trailer right before the screening...and it looked pretty damn good. Here's wishing him and the film lots of luck.

Nov. 2, 2011: Hollywood is DEAD!

I meant to post this Halloween morning, but have either been too busy at work, or too exhausted from partying. ("Partying" at my age is hardly hardcore, but still wears me out nonetheless!) So I'm sorry if this post is a bit late in the game...

For some years now, artist/illustrator Matt Busch has been creating some very popular movie poster parodies, reimagining classic film posters with a zombie twist. They're all darkly humorous and macabre, of course -- even the reworked titles are funny -- but I'm particularly struck by the technical level at which Busch recreates each poster. They're not digital touchups of existing work (as my spoof posters usually are), but hand drawn and painted, emulating the painting styles of diverse artists and their respective techniques.

“I grew up on great movies," Busch states, "but the movie posters themselves are almost more vivid in my memory as iconic images. So the opportunity to really study the original master artists like Drew Struzan, John Alvin, Bob Peak, Richard Amsel and others has been awesome.”

Be sure to check out Busch's HOLLYWOOD IS DEAD website, which offers oodles of fun even after the Halloween season.

Oct. 29, 2011: HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

It's about time I made a Halloween related post...

Living in southern California, I get a kick out of visiting South Pasadena this time of year, as it was the primarly location used in the original John Carpenter horror film HALLOWEEN.

Truth be told, I visit the area all the time, as it has a quaint charm and a lot of nice restaurants. About nine years ago, however, a friend and I were looking for the "Michael Myers House" while visiting the area's farmers' market one Thursday afternoon (a frequent hangout for us). Lo and behold, a video store worker pointed the house out to us ... directly across the street! It had been fixed up and repainted, and even though we had passed that house numerous times, we had not recognized it. Since then, being the movie geek that I am, I've always paid it a visit around the creepy holiday...

An old photo of "The Myers House", taken from this website. While the house still looks the same, the area behind it has changed a bit, with mission style condos now occupying the vacant lot at left. The Gold line train system also stops directly at the corner.

My friend Brian and I back in October 2009, sitting in front of the house that was used as Laurie Strode's (Jamie Lee Curtis) residence in Halloween. The owners are very good sports about visiting movie fans; year round, they place pumpkins on their porch, and let you borrow them for photo ops!

A lot of the locations are still there, as the area has wisely maintained its old-time charm, and the neighborhood is filled with beautiful bungalow and craftsman style homes. The historic Rialto Theater (featured prominently in Altman's THE PLAYER and SCREAM 2) is nearby too -- though sadly it closed back in 2008.

Back in the summer of 2001, I was looking to move out of my Burbank apartment and had set my sights on a beautiful 2-bedroom above some shops in an old brick building. The asking price was only $850 a month -- likely because, at the time, the Gold Line rail system was just being installed, and the street corner was a terrific mess of mud and construction noise. I was desperate to live there, though, but it took the building's owner about two months to finally get back to me ... and by then, I'd already moved into a new apartment in Glendale.

Well, all the pity, because -- unbeknownst to me at the time -- it was the very same building where the "Halloween" killer had robbed his legendary mask and kitchen knife!

For the curious, check out this website, which details the various locations used in the movie. A lot of other films and TV shows -- INDIANA JONES IV, BACK TO THE FUTURE, THE TERMINATOR among them -- filmed nearby, too.

Oct. 15, 2011:

Oct. 10, 2011: Revisiting NIMH.

I've made no secret of my love for The Secret of NIMH, Don Bluth's elaborate 1982 fantasy film that, in my mind, ranks with The Iron Giant as one of the best hand-drawn animated movies of the last thirty years. (My retrospective article, "Remembering NIMH", has long been one of the most visited pages of my website, so I know there must be more than a few other fans out there.)

The other day I came across this astonishing fan art by Mike Daarken Lim, a frighteningly talented young artist -- eight years my junior -- who simply puts my own work to shame. Also a huge fan of the film, he did some digital paintings that gave a more natural, worldly spin on the film's characters:

Lim's work motivates me to mention the film's release on Blu-Ray, which, as it was waaaaay back in March, is wildly overdue. I was thrilled by the news of it's release in the new format, but alas, it proved to be a disappointing experience. There were several things I had to take to task: First, while the DVD presented the film in both it's original full frame aspect ratio as well as letterboxed widescreen (with matting at the top and bottom, rather than added horizontal picture information), the Blu-Ray altogether abandons the full frame version -- a grievous, unforgivable error. Second, and equally heartbreaking, is how the film's high-definition remaster obviously was not nearly as extensive as it should have been. While the picture is sharp and the colors are gorgeous, the dust and scratches are accentuated; this is the danger of converting something to hi-def, when steps aren't taken to clean up the image properly. Finally, everything about the Blu-Ray indicates that it was treated as nothing more than a bare-bones release; the recycled, cutesy packaging and the lack of an interactive menu and chaptering (the DVD release had wonderful menus) only leads me to feel like the film has been taken for granted...and destined to be overlooked all over again.

Last Spring, co-directing animator and producer Gary Goldman expressed similar sentiments about the release, both with the remastering process and the packaging. I can only hope that one day the film will be properly rediscovered, and enjoyed by a new generation of animation fans.

Let me close this little write-up with this video interview with Bluth and Goldman, held during Canada's International Fantasia Film Festival last year.

Sept. 25, 2011: Raiders of the Lost Ark screening with Spielberg and Ford.

I was one of the lucky few who attended the 7pm Sept. 12th screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark at the LA Live Theater, with both Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford giving a Q&A after the film. I wanted to wait until a full video was available online before posting about it, and you can finally find that here. (Unfortunately embedding was disabled.)

Photo from The Los Angeles Times.

Ford's participation was a sorta-kept-secret, but I had heard rumors from friends prior to the show that he was expected. My most lasting impressions of the discussion were:

  • Spielberg's self-effacing sense of humor, and his surprising frankness when discussing Indy IV and personal regrets over the digital enhancements he had made to the re-release of E.T.
  • Ford's apparently deliberate delivery of slow, laconic answers to the questions asked of him; he looked like he knew he was making the audience laugh, and seemed to have a dry sense of humor about himself.
  • Oh -- and Simon Pegg and Damon Lindelof were hiding in the audience.

As for the film, the digital print looked gorgeous, and the sound quality was flawless. Best of all, it still looked like a film from 1981, with the film's natural grain still in place, but cleaner and sharper than I'd ever seen it before.

Photo thanks to Jay West. (Adam wasn't brave enough to bring his own camera.)

It was also fun to catch up with some old friends and fellow Indyfans, namely "The Raiders Guys" Eric Zala and Chris Strompolos, whose childhood fan film Raiders of the Lost Ark - The Adaptation has become a little cinematic legend of its own. We'd been chatting for years, but this was the first time we all met face to face. I was also introduced to Charles de Lauzirika, a young film producer whose documentaries on the making of Blade Runner I long admired.

To coincide with the film's 30th anniversary (yes, yes, I know it was actually last June). here are two other articles that may be of interest:

Sept. 17, 2011: The Brotherhood and the Shield.

I just completed a new book cover for Mike Gibney's The Brotherhood and the Shield: The Three Thorns. I was never quite satisfied with the original cover, which was done some years ago, and appreciate Mike allowing me the opportunity to go back and reimagine it. Check out this page, which shows the step-by-step process of its creation.

Sept. 15, 2011: Painting Harry Potter Parrish.

I just added a page explaining the creation of "Harry Potter Parrish", which includes the video I made about the Nucleus Gallery premiere.

Sept. 13, 2011: Art gallery relaunch!

Welcome to my makeover! I thought that my art gallery was in need of a little sprucing up, but I also wanted to keep the previous style and basic layout. I opted to make the main page a little more "splashy", adding new graphics, while consolidating some of the pages so that the overall menu wouldn't be quite as cumbersome. I also thought that using icons above the banner for my personal links (Facebook, LinkedIn, guestbook, etc...) helped to separate them from the art pages, and make navigating a little bit easier. I'm in the process of making more changes and additions to the site over the next few weeks, so stay tuned and enjoy!

Poster for Turmoil! A New Musical.
I just completed the poster for a theatrical musical (right), now in workshop. It's a murder mystery/comedy, set in the world of television soaps.

The Brotherhood and the Shield: The Three Thorns.
I also just completed a new book cover for Mike Gibney's The Brotherhood and the Shield: The Three Thorns. I was never quite satisfied with the original cover, which was done some years ago, and appreciate Mike allowing me the opportunity to go back and reimagine it. I'll be posting more about the cover design -- and the book series in general -- in the near future.

Sept. 11, 2011

My thoughts and prayers go to all those we lost on 9/11, their friends and family, as well as those who are still trying to find some healing ten years beyond that tragic day.

I was back on the east coast at the time, visiting my family in Pennsylvania, and watched everything unfold, as millions did, live on the television. My mom, sister and I all huddled together, and dad (thankfully) returned from his New Jersey office and stayed at home in the days that followed. While I was scared at the thought of having to fly back to Los Angeles, I realized how lucky I was to be safe, to have my family safe, and -- luckiest of all -- to have my friends living and working in New York safe. (In an extraordinary turn of events, one of my childhood friends worked in the World Trade Center. When I finally was able to get through to my home phone's voicemail, I found a message from him out of the blue, which he had left just the day before, stating that he was actually on a business trip in California for the week!)

In 2001 this website was in its infancy, and I remember posting this cartoon image (right) in response to the tragedy. It was done by legendary cartoonist Doug Marlette in covering the 1986 space shuttle Challenger disaster. The simplicity the image somehow managed to perfectly express so many feelings -- of mourning and loss, of patriotism, and of a profound collective understanding of the human condition.

A picture can be worth more than a thousand words; it can evoke a thousand feelings.

In researching this cartoon for today's post, I was saddened to learn that Marlette had died in a traffic accident four years ago. It seems to be such a trivial, unfitting end to so illustrious a career; not only had Marlette won the Pulitzer Prize for his cartoons, but was an award winning author and playwright.

Like the best of editorial writers, Marlette didn't shy away from controversial subjects, and in examining them, he not only wanted people to react, but to make them think. Take, for example, this story excerpted from The Cagle Post:

Doug found himself blasted by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in an e-mail Jihad when he drew a cartoon with the caption, "What Would Muhammad Drive?" The drawing showed a man wearing Arab headdress and driving a Ryder truck (a reference to Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh). It became one of Doug's most famous cartoons and inspired thousands of angry, threatening e-mails.

Doug wrote, "I was used to negative reactions from religious interest groups, but not the kind of sustained violent intensity of the Islamic threats. The nihilism and culture of death of a religion that sanctions suicide bombers, and issues fatwas on people who draw funny pictures, is certainly of a different order and fanatical magnitude than the protests of our home-grown religious true believers."

Marlette continued, "As a child of the segregated South, I am quite familiar with the damage done to the "good religious people" of my region when the Ku Klux Klan acted in our name. The CAIR organization that led the assault (on me), describes itself as a civil rights advocacy group. Among those whose "civil rights" they advocated were the convicted bombers of the World Trade Center in 1993. They cannot be taken seriously. For many of those who protested my cartoon, recent émigrés, many highly educated, it was obvious that there was not that healthy tradition of free inquiry, humor and irreverence in their background that we have in the west. There was no Jefferson, Madison, Adams in their intellectual tradition. Those who have attacked my work, whether on the right, the left, Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish or Muslim, all seem to experience comic or satirical irreverence as hostility and hate. When all it is, really, is irreverence. Ink on paper is only a thought, an idea. Such people fear ideas. Those who mistake themselves for the God they claim to worship tend to mistake irreverence for blasphemy."

Another indelible "cartoon" image was, of course, Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly's "black on black" cover for the Sept. 24th, 2001 issue of The New Yorker:

I could go on and on about the power of this image, but will instead defer to this article, where Mouly reflected on creating the cover:

“Ten years ago, my husband, the cartoonist Art Spiegelman, our daughter, and I stood four blocks away from the second tower as we watched it collapse in excruciatingly slow motion. Later, back in my office, I felt that images were suddenly powerless to help us understand what had happened. The only appropriate solution seemed to be to publish no cover image at all—an all-black cover. Then Art suggested adding the outlines of the two towers, black on black. So from no cover came a perfect image, which conveyed something about the unbearable loss of life, the sudden absence in our skyline, the abrupt tear in the fabric of reality.”

Spiegelman, whose legendary MAUS remains the only comic book to have ever won a Pulitzer Prize, also wrote the extraordinarily powerful In the Shadow of No Towers -- both his personal recollection of what happened that day, and fury over how the Bush administration exploited the tragedy.

It may seem a bit inappropriate of me to have segued from the events of 9/11 to the topic of cartoons, but I feel that such subject matter -- in stark contrast to those ready to dismiss pen & ink images as something flippant or inconsequential -- can nevertheless carry substantial emotional and intellectual weight, and remains an important medium in addressing both personal and world events.

August 15, 2011:

August 3, 2011: Bob Peak show revisited / Matthew Joseph Peak.

My follow up to the Bob Peak exhibit at the Motion Picture Academy is long overdue, but better late than never. I visited the exhibit twice, and still can't get over how stunning Peak's work looks in person. Whereas seeing many other artists' original illustrations up close tends to reveal their little faults and imperfections, Peak's paintings and drawings often look better than their final reproductions.

Above, from left: 1.) Me, full figured a la Marlon Brando, standing in front of Peak's illustrations for Superman. 2.) My friend Michael Gibney, standing in front of Peak's Apocalypse Now painting. 3.) One of Peak's secondary poster designs for Apocalypse Now. 4.) Peak's portrait of Timothy Dalton, for an unused License to Kill poster concept. The latter painting was not featured in the exhibit, but it's one of my favorites of all Peak's work; I always felt it was a terrible shame that it was rejected in favor of a blander, far less interesting film campaign.

Recently I've had several wonderful conversations with Peak's son, Matthew Joseph, about his father's life, career, and body of work. Matthew is a celebrated artist in his own right, whose work I've also long admired. His posters for the original Nightmare on Elm Street and Rush are classics, showing some of his father's stylish influence, while bearing a unique signature all its own.

Above, from left: 1.) Matthew Peak's poster for A Nightmare on Elm Street, which, as with the film, has become iconic in the annals of horror. 2.) Matthew's illustration for Rush is among my personal favorite posters of the last quarter century, showing stylistic flourishes reminiscent of his late father, but also his own personal touch. 3.) Matthew's album cover illustration for the CD soundtrack to Psycho. Film score lovers will almost certainly recognize the artist's work, especially for numerous Varese Sarabande and Star Trek albums.

I first met Matthew at the opening reception of his father's exhibit at the Nucleus Gallery, and admitted, rather embarassingly, that when I was younger, I had often mistakenly attributed his work to his father. I didn't mean this as a slight in any way, but rather as a towering compliment, having held their collective works in such a high regard. (Though it took me a few long, rambling, awkward sentences to finally get that point across.) Matthew described what it was like growing up, learning about art under his dad's tutelage. How extraordinary it must have been to have had the elder Peak as a teacher!

Matthew recently created, an official resource into his late father's work. And for you art collectors out there, check out THE SANGUIN FINE ART GALLERY, where high-quality prints and originals of both Peaks' works are available for purchase!

Shortly before the Peak exhibit at the Motion Picture Academy came to a close, I managed to splurge on an eBay auction of one of Bob Peak's original sketches (image below). To the seller, the sketch had a value of $55. To me, it was absolutely, irrefutably priceless.

July 31, 2011: More poster art news -- BBC article, and remembering Kazuhiko Sano (1952-2011).

BBC News featured this little story about movie poster artists in their ENTERTAINMENT & ARTS section back on July 22nd. I was happy that they mentioned Richard Amsel by name, along with a small pic of his rerelease poster for Raiders of the Lost Ark. I later learned, however, that the original article had credited the artwork to Drew Struzan, and it was only after Dorian Hannaway contacted them that Richard's name was restored to its rightful place. (Honestly, if you're going to write a story on movie poster artists, a little research would do you well. Not that writer Kev Geoghegan would have had to look very far; the AMSEL name is on the lower right corner of the piece!)

Remembering Kazuhiko Sano (1952-2011)

In sadder news, I recently learned that artist Kazuhiko Sano died May 31st after a two year battle with cancer.

For those unfamiliar with the name, you've likely seen his work at one time or another. Sano created illustrations for organizations including National Geographic, the Walt Disney Co., Paramount Pictures, Chevron, Coca Cola and General Electric, among others. His most well-known works include movie posters for "Return of the Jedi," and a commemorative postage stamp featuring Frank Sinatra.

_ _


Though his name may not be as readily known as some other famous Star Wars poster illustrators, Kazuhiko Sano shares a special place in the hearts of many Star Wars fans for his stunning depiction of Luke, Han, Leia, Lando and others for the Return of the Jedi Style "B" poster, released in 1983.

Sano, who taught illustration at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, died of cancer last week.

Sano, who was born in Tokyo in 1952, was a prolific illustrator, lending his talents to clients such as the National Geographic Society, United States Postal Service, the Walt Disney Company, Coca-Cola, American Red Cross, and scores of others. His website provides a generous sample of many of his professional and personal works.

As we remember Sano's iconic contribution to Star Wars poster imagery, we should also acknowledge the artist's other works set in our favorite faraway galaxy. The following three illustrations showcase additional Star Wars inspired artworks done by Sano, beginning with a trade magazine ad commissioned by George Lucas during the early '80s to congratulate friend Steven Spielberg on his E.T. The Extraterrestrial box office success.

To learn more about the late artist's life and work, check out his website, and this obituary article.


July 29, 2011: Art storefront finally up!

After debating the idea for years, I've finally set up a storefront on the Imagekind website where prints of select pieces of my artwork can be available for purchase. :)

July 22, 2011: Pushing the boundaries of censorship.

David Byrd sent a few of these to me -- some grand old movie posters for films made in the early 1930's, right before the Motion Picture Production Code was effectively enforced...for the apparent betterment of corruptible youths and salaciously sensitive persons across America.

It's surprising to see just how suggestive these films were for their time; even the titles give reason to pause. While cinema sex and violence seem to have escalated several hundred times over throughout the past eight decades or so, it's still pretty impressive that such films were not only able to be made within the studio system, but feature marquee stars, to boot.

No doubt that that ever-devoted Republican Presbyterian himself, the late Will Hayes (who was paid a then staggering annual sum of $100,000 -- still a pretty decent amount in my book), frowned on such indecent material.

Enjoy, I say!

July 21, 2011: Sweet Byrd of youth...

Just a reminder that tomorrow is the final day of my friend David Byrd's art show at Brand Library & Art Center. The gallery closes at 5pm, so if you can make a last-minute visit, you'd better hurry!

I'll be helping David take down the installation on Saturday. I've been excited enough just at having one painting currently on display in a show -- while David has an entire exhibit of his lifelong career. Talk about putting things in perspective!

July 13, 2011: More Potter press; LA Weekly, etc...

The online version of The LA Weekly has actually featured my artwork as the thumbnail image to their coverage of the Harry Potter art exhibit.


And in case you wanted more, here's a new YouTube video about the show, with my work shown at the 2:29 mark. Just try to forget the creepy screengrab of the guy with pink hair. :)

July 10, 2011: Welcome back, Potter!

What a day. Saw the last Harry Potter film at a special WB screening inside the Arclight in the morning (yes, it was good), an art lecture by my friend David Byrd in the afternoon (also good), and finally the opening of the Harry Potter tribute art exhibition at Gallery Nucleus tonight -- which had at least several hundred attendees, more than I ever possibly expected. More info to come.

Very special thanks to all my friends who showed up, even though the masses of other people -- and yes, there were indeed masses! -- prevented my guests from being able to set so much as a foot inside the gallery. To them, we'll certainly have to go back when things are a little less crowded. (Lunch is on me, provided we eat cheap!) 

July 11th UPDATE: While I'm still trying to figure out how to edit some of the video footage I shot, here's a decent YouTube clip of the show -- which proves just how long the line was! You can catch a quick glimpse of my piece at the 2:31 mark.


My favorite part of the event, aside from the warm support my friends showed me, was the opportunity to talk to some of the other contributing artists. Some were beginners, others old pros, and all were inspiring company. I managed to chat with (and pay a little idol worship to) artists Drew Struzan and William Stout, whose works I revered all through my childhood. The funniest part of the evening was just as I arrived at the gallery and saw my painting on the wall for the first time. I was happy that it was displayed in a fairly prominent place, where a number of people were taking photos of it. As I stood by my artwork, a voice from behind angrily exclaimed, "$3,600 for that???" I turned around to discover that it was none other than my friend Brandon Kleyla, the director of Indyfans, looking back at me with an evil grin on his face.

July 1, 2011
TOTAL FILM article: The 30 Greatest Hand Drawn Movie Posters.

TOTAL FILM's George Wales has written an interesting article on what he considers to be the 30 greatest hand drawn movie posters. While many of Wales' choices made me wince -- the omission of works from artists like Bob Peak, in favor of Z-grade, below Grindhouse level dreck (Lesbian Vampire Killers? Are you kidding me?) is an unforgiveable sin in my eyes -- I was admittedly happy to see that artists like John Alvin and Drew Struzan were well represented.

And what poster was deemed #1, praytell? I'll give you a hint: It's something I agree with wholeheartedly. :)

June 25, 2011

Gallery Nucleus "Harry Potter" art event!

It was about a year ago (how time flies!) that one of my paintings was selected by Gallery Nucleus for their upcoming Harry Potter tribute art exhibition. I've been a longtime fan of the gallery, which has showcased work from some of my favorite artists and illustrators. Naturally I was thrilled at the opportunity to have something of my own put on display there, but I faced a big problem: I had already sold the original painting in question -- a fact I curiously failed to mention when I submitted a pic of the painting for their consideration.

With the submission deadline approaching, I decided to not only repaint the piece, but try to make it better. The original only took a week or so to do, outside of my full time job. The new one took considerably longer, as I wanted to add far more detail and complexity.


This shall be the first time my work is featured in a gallery in California, alongside other artists such as Drew Struzan (who did the first film’s poster), Mary Grand Pre (who illustrated the American book covers of the series), and fantasy artist William Stout. I won’t say my work is as good as those other artists’, but I can definitely guarantee that it’s a lot less expensive!

I'll be attending the opening night reception party on July 9th, so by all means, stop by and say hello! The gallery will be hosting Harry Potter themed contests and prize giveaways, so it's fun for the whole family. If you can't make it, the show is open through August 1st; those Harry Potter fans willing to purchase artwork are particularly welcome. :)

210 East Main Street
Alhambra, CA 91801
July 9 - August 1, 2011

June 12, 2011
Happy 30th birthday to the film that made me fall in love with the movies...

May 28, 2011
R.I.P.: Jeffrey Catherine Jones (1947-2011)

And now we've lost another art giant.

Legendary fantasy artist Jeffrey Catherine Jones passed away on May 19th, from severe emphysema and bronchitis as well as hardening of the arteries around the heart.

Born Jeffrey Durwood Jones in 1944, Jones celebrated a long career whose highlights included a 1970s run doing cover paintings for major fantasy novels like Fritz Leiber's "Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser" and a number of comics including "Idyl" for "National Lampoons" and "I'm Age" for "Heavy Metal." While the world of fantasy illustration and comics proper intersect less than one might imagine, Jones was a figure whose work in both forms left an impression on her peers. Her work was notably praised by recently deceased fantasy legend Frank Frazetta as "the greatest living painter."

Jones also shared space with a slew of legendary comics talent in the '70s under the name The Studio – a group which included Mike Kaluta, Bernie Wrightson and Barry Windsor-Smith. Jones is also a rare example of a transgendered artist in the genre world. Though a string of personal and financial issues saw her fall on hard times in the early 2000s, recent years had seen stable living conditions and steady production of new work from the artist.

For more on Jones' life and work, visit her official website.

Sources: Comic Book Resources, Muddy Colors, Wikipedia.

May 21, 2011
Now five years gone... still feels like yesterday...

April 1, 2011
Consider this my mea culpa of 2011...

For years I've mocked, ridiculed, and have been a strong opponent of Scientology, but I'm beginning to understand that my views were based on a biased, skewed, severe misunderstanding of The Faith. I hope my co-workers, friends, family & loved ones will understand and accept The Spiritual Journey I've now embraced, and my pursuit of True Freedom in this Spiritual Existence....

From the Scientology website:

A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where Man is free to rise to greater heights, are the aims of Scientology. First announced to an enturbulated world in 1950, these aims are well within the grasp of our technology. Nonpolitical in nature, Scientology welcomes any individual of any creed, race or nation. We seek no revolution. We seek only evolution to higher states of being for the individual and for society. We are achieving our aims. After endless millennia of ignorance about himself, his mind and the universe, a breakthrough has been made for Man. Other efforts Man has made have been surpassed. The combined truths of fifty thousand years of thinking men, distilled and amplified by new discoveries about Man have made for this success.

Scientology is the most vital movement on Earth today. In a turbulent world the job is not easy. But then, if it were, we wouldn’t have to be doing it. We respect Man and believe he is worthy of help. We respect you and believe you too can help. Scientology does not owe its help. We have done nothing to cause us to propitiate. Had we done so we would not now be bright enough to do what we are doing. Man suspects all offers of help. He has often been betrayed, his confidence shattered. Too frequently he has given his trust and been betrayed. We may err, for we build a world with broken straws. But we will never betray your faith in us so long as you are one of us. The sun never sets on Scientology. And may a new day dawn for you, for those you love and for Man. Our aims are simple if great. And we will succeed, and are succeeding at each new revolution of the Earth. Your help is acceptable to us. Our help is yours. And if you ever fuck with us, we'll sue your ass into bankruptcy, have your family and friends shun your existance, investigate and exploit every aspect of your personal life, and leave you for dead in one of our faraway detoxification centers.

March 8, 2011
Bill Gold: Posterworks

In a career spanning six decades, Bill Gold has worked on some of the most famous movie posters of all time. Some of them he painted himself (CASABLANCA, at right), others he conceived (THE STING, CAMELOT), and some of them he photographed (FOR YOUR EYES ONLY -- perhaps the most famous, and certainly the most controversial, poster design of the James Bond series). Through them all, Gold displays not only a strong artistic sensibility, but an innate power to capture the spirit and personality of a film within a poster. (Not to mention a cute sense of humor, as his poster for DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE demonstrates; it helped to make the little Hammer horror film a big commercial hit.)

I was fortunate to attend a Warner Bros. panel this afternoon, where Gold, now 90 years young, discussed his career and longstanding relationship with the studio. Most interesting was his personal reflections on working with different directors. Clint Eastwood, with whom Gold collaborated from DIRTY HARRY through MYSTIC RIVER, seemed to have a "less is more", easygoing approach, while Stanley Kubrick, in developing the campaigns for A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and BARRY LYNDON, was a maddening perfectionist -- requiring a WB courier to personally deliver artwork by air from New York to England, back and forth several times.

I asked Gold about what it was like to collaborate with other illustrators like Bob Peak and Richard Amsel, whom Gold worked with on CAMELOT and THE STING, respectively. Gold was a fan of both artists, Peak being his most personal favorite, and he stated that while creative collaboration can have its ups and downs, in the end it's all about finding the right person for the right style of job.

At the end of the presentation, someone asked Gold if he had any advice for aspiring artists looking to get their feet in the door within the industry -- and on movie posters in particular. His reply was both humorous and telling: "Learn to make good coffee."

Gold has a new book out, BILL GOLD: POSTERWORKS -- a massively illustrated, 448 page limited edition book chronicling his career, work, and artistic process. It runs a steep price (about $650), but is lavish and beautifully bound and encased.

Oh, what I'd give to be a rich man... Or even middle class... Now kindly excuse me while I sulk and heat up the nearby coffeemaker.

For more info, check out these links:
The artist's website.
Interesting article on Gold's career.

Feb. 21, 2011
Bob Peak exhibit at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

I've often raved on this site about the art of Bob Peak, and for good reason. His work dominated the sixties and seventies, with memorable contributions to films like SUPERMAN, APOCALYPSE NOW, CAMELOT, PENNIES FROM HEAVEN, and the first five STAR TREK films.

For those who missed out on the 2009 exhibit at Gallery Nucleus, fear not: an even larger, more comprehensive exhibit is currently showing in Los Angeles at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Bob Peak: Creating the Modern Movie Poster
January 20 through April 17, 2011
8949 Wilshire Boulevard Beverly Hills, California 90211
Public viewing hours Tuesday – Friday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday: Noon to 6 p.m.
Closed Mondays.

From the AMPAS website:

Artist and designer Bob Peak (1927–1992) has been hailed as the “father of the modern Hollywood movie poster.” His unique style of motion picture advertising imagery will be on display in the Academy’s Fourth Floor Gallery, where colorful, graphically complex original paintings done for iconic movie poster campaigns are shown alongside the final one-sheet posters for such titles as “My Fair Lady,” “Camelot,” “Superman,” “Star Trek – The Motion Picture” and “Apocalypse Now.” Multiple designs are presented for nearly 50 films from among the more than 100 campaigns he designed in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Bob Peak Among his many awards and accolades, Peak received the Key Art Lifetime Achievement Award from The Hollywood Reporter in 1992 for 30 years of outstanding contributions to the film industry. He was only the second person to receive this honor; the first, just the year before, was another legendary graphic designer, Saul Bass.

Also, I'm especially happy to learn on the artist's website that, after years of delays, a comprehensive oversize coffee table book on the Life and Art of Bob Peak is being published and will be available in the fall of 2011.

Feb. 20, 2011
Fan made poster art on Moviephone.

Moviephone has this great link to "The Best Movie Art Ever", a selection of fan made movie posters from very gifted artists/illustrators of a wide variety of styles and techniques. It's certainly worth a look, as in some cases the concept posters are even more imaginative than the official ones. (This one for INCEPTION, below right, is such an example.)

Feb. 18, 2011
The downside to having an online art portfolio... that it makes your work susceptible to copyright theft at the hands of unsavory individuals. Take, for example, this less-than-lovely looking T-shirt being sold on eBay by a user named teesmeplease416, for $19.95. They've already sold one, and state that at least ten more are available. On the plus side, the shirt is "100% cotton preshrunk", and is "printed using the highest quality ink to garment technology..." The downside is that they were using this artwork without my knowledge or consent.

Yes, I've already reported this to the powers that be at eBay, though I doubt it will have any effect on teesmeplease416's whopping 808 feedback rating.

This is not the first time this artwork has unexpectedly turned up somewhere. I'm actually quite flattered that people think it's good enough to use, though admittedly it'd be nice to get a piece of the $19.95 action.


Feb. 9, 2011
Upcoming David Edward Byrd art exhibits.

David Edward Byrd informed me that he has two upcoming art shows for 2011:

The first, SET THE WALLS ON FIRE: Returning to Rock's Roots with Artist David Edward Byrd, is on Vashon Island off the north coast of Seattle. It's "a charming artist community with many Galleries and B&Bs," David writes.

Saturday, February 26, 2011
Vashon Island Books Gallery
22100 Vashon Hwy SW
Vashon, WA 98070
Phone: 206.408.7017

The second event, at Brand Library in Glendale, CA, will literally be in my neck of the woods; I could walk to it from my own home! This exhibition will include several public programs, including a concert featuring favorites from some of the musical theater works for which David has created graphics, as well as exciting lectures on the history of poster design. A poster designed by David for the exhibition will also be produced and available to the public.

The Byrd Show: 40 Years of Posters & Graphic Design
On view: June 11 - July 22, 2011
Reception: Saturday, June 11, 6-9 pm

For more about the artist David Edward Byrd, visit his website.


Jan. 16, 2011
"THADDEUS THACKERAY" semi-finalist @ Amazon Studios.

I'm happy to learn that my screenplay "In the Footsteps of Thaddeus Thackeray" has been chosen as a semi-finalist by Amazon Studios, and was among their very first batch of script selections.

This particular script holds a lot of meaning to me, and over the years it's been tossed back and forth by a lot of different hands. Alas, nothing ever came to fruition. While I'm certainly not holding my breath or quitting my day job, I am pleased that many who have read the story (including this one) were genuinely entertained by it.

2/5/2011 UPDATE:

Shortly after this news broke, Amazon announced a separate contest for the best videotaped reading of one of the semifinalist scripts. The biggest catch was that it had a deadline of two weeks.

So...thinking that my script had a good chance for this kind of venue (it's a crowd pleaser, if I do say so myself), I called up friends, coworkers, actors...made arrangements for equipment...a shooting location...pulled any and every favor I could to muster to prep, shoot, and edit a quality reading in less than two weeks' time. It's a harder task than you'd think, but I was amazed and truly touched by people's willingness to come together and help me out, for no money and on such short notice.

That's the good news. The bad news is that, less than four days before our shoot was to happen, I noticed a small, fine-print clause within Amazon Studios' voluminous guidelines -- a clause that specifically stated Warner Bros. employees were inelible from participating in the contest.

Yup, that meant Warner Bros. employees like me.

Oh well, I figured. Better to have learned that before the reading than to have had everyone go through with it, and only then discover that our collective efforts didn't qualify.

To all my friends and colleagues who supported me and volunteered your time and talents, I can not thank you enough. That alone, more than the contest itself, has made this whole experience very, very worth it. :)

Jan. 15, 2011
They've made a house a home...and a work of art.

Kudos to my friends David Edward Byrd and Jolino Beserra, whose home was prominently featured in today's LA TIMES. Their beautiful house is a feast for the eyes, and in a very fun, colorful way.

From the online article:

Consider the whimsy that frames the hearth in David Edward Byrd and Jolino Beserra's 1928 Spanish bungalow. Clothed in broken ceramics and found and treasured objects, the fireplace resembles an outsize toy. The swirled mosaic pattern and jumble of shiny fun make one suspect it's crowded with spirits.

Beserra, left, was influenced by Watts Towers creator Simon Rodia. "I volunteered for a summer helping with restoration in 1989 and loved the fluidity of his work," says Beserra, who calls himself a consummate "puzzler." Other influences include Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi and Philadelphia mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar. Beserra's partner, David Edward Bryd, right, created posters for Jimi Hendrix, the Who, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, the Woodstock music festival and Broadway plays; he was a senior illustrator for Warner Bros. for 11 years.

It's been a personal pleasure for me to know David and Jolino, and every time I visit, they welcome me with a warmth and friendliness that even their home seems to compliment.


Jan. 15, 2011
R.I.P.: Diana Blake (1964-2010)

Just over an hour ago, I learned of the passing of Diana Blake, whom I worked with at Soundelux from 2000-2002. She died December 30th, and was only 46 years old.

She and I worked closely together, and I'll never forget her strong sense of humor, nor the magical spark she shared with her daughter, Taylor -- whom I'd sometimes informally babysit whenever Diana brought her to the office.

My deepest condolences go out to her family and friends during this heartbreaking time. You are all in my prayers.

Fare thee well, Diana. You left us far, far too soon.

Jan. 1, 2011
Happy New Year!

The snowstorms hitting the east coast caused my stay to be extended by almost another week; fortunately, my office was closed anyway, and not only did it give me the chance to spend more time with family, but also see (and shovel) the snowfall that southern California living has deprived me of for almost 15 years. (To see my personal pics, check out my Facebook page, as they're too numerous to post here.)

I was also able to visit two art/illustration galleries I'd longed to see. The first was ILLUSTRATION HOUSE in the Chelsea district of NYC. (Note to self, for future reference: Next time you visit FAO Schwartz the day before Xmas Eve, make sure to wear steel tipped shoes to protect your toes from being repeatedly stepped on.)

The second was THE ILLUSTRATED GALLERY. I first heard of it through Michael Amsel back in December, as he informed me that a number of Richard Amsel's original pieces were now available there.

Its location in Fort Washington, PA, struck me as more than a bit inconspicuous, housed in a commercial/industrial area right smack next to a YMCA, of all places. But after meeting gallery owner Jordy Berman, and seeing the collection, I realised that it's truly a labor of love. Just as you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, you shouldn't judge an art gallery by the walls that house it so much as the art it contains.

Indeed, Berman's gallery is one of the largest private collections of American illustration I've ever seen. Here are over 800 pieces, many from the Golden Age of Illustration -- including such legends such as Norman Rockwell, Howard Pyle, J.C. Leyendecker, F.X. Leyendecker, and Maxfield Parrish. With that kind of monumental collection, I can't believe I've never heard of the gallery before! (Proof I've been in California too long.) What years of my life I'd gladly sacrifice to be able to afford one or two of these. Perhaps it's time I play the lottery...

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Assorted pics of Berman's gallery.
Bottom left: An original J.C. Leyendecker.
Bottom right: Two of Amsel's orignal pieces.

Berman was very gracious and cordial; he's been collection illustration since the 1970's, and it's become a passion of his for quite some time. Coincidentally, he was a friend of the Amsels, but wasn't too familar with Richard's work until the artist's death. I've updated my gallery pages to include new and corrected information on Amsel's pieces.

The Illustrated Gallery

400 Commerce Drive, Suite B
Fort Washington, PA 19034

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All original content (c) 2012 Adam McDaniel.