Recap: Pandora’s Ball at Rhode Center for the Arts

Before I go into this recap, I want to say that I’ve posted a new link under the Links section, this time for Cartoonists and Illustrators United forum. It’s also right on the home page of this site, but the only reason I put it there was because of an artist directory the same site uses. With that out of the way…

I went to the Pandora’s Ball last Friday at Rhode Center of the Arts in downtown Kenosha. I’ve passed by this building many times before during some of my trips through Kenosha, but this was the first time I’ve ever been in the place. Basically, it’s a theater for plays and such.

The event was organized for the launch of the Pandora’s Box collection that’s being published (in limited numbers) via Southport Press in Kenosha. I actually have a story about the Bray Road Beast published in this collection, but the project got delayed for over a year, so what appears in the book is not representative of my best work now. Still, it is pretty cool that I’ve got something in a collection like this. The picture at the top of this article is all the stuff that’s included in the box, after all.

As for the ball itself, it was a masquerade ball, but people could come dressed like they normally are, so that’s how I showed up. To be honest, the events that were going on inside were not really my cup of tea, but I mostly came to check out the finished book anyway.

Pandora’s Box is a limited edition collection. I’m hoping to pick up a copy for myself as soon as I can, but if you want to know more about it, this is the page for it on the book’s website. I will put up information on my contribution to the book as soon as I am able.

Recap: Milwaukee Animation Group Show and Tell

Before I post my little recap, I want to point out that I’ve put up some new stuff under the portfolio section. Included with that is the cover and a sample page of a comic book I just got done making (the cover is featured above). Also, if you want to have a copy of this same book, feel free to contact me at

Last night, MAG had a Show and Tell where different animators and game developers showed off what they’ve been doing. They have these every once in a while as a way to create rapport with fellow animators in the area, and last night was no exception. Four people showed off their stuff, and while all of them were pretty good, the one who stole the show was the guy from Raven Software.

Raven Software is a game company based out of Madison as well as a subsidiary of Activision, and they are responsible for the DLC for the latest Call of Duty games, as well as creating the game Hexen and, more recently, Singularity. The stuff that the guy showed us was footage for a game that was never released, made about four years ago when he worked at EA and only recently had permission to show. I really wanted to show the little bit of animation I’ve done after he went, but it’s hard to follow an act like that. Here’s the guy’s portfolio for further reference of what I’m talking about.

After all was said and done, we went to a winery just down the street and I listened to all the interesting stories these guys have had in their fields. I also learned something that gamers and game magazines missed: next time anybody plays Medal of Honor: Airborne, pay attention to what the statues look like.

Recap – Impressionism: Masterworks on Paper

Recently, a friend of mine and I went to see the Impressionism exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Although I brought my camera with me on this outing, I didn’t take any pictures in the exhibit as they don’t allow that. It’s going to be a little hard describing what I saw without any photographic evidence, but I’ll try the best I can.

Much of the exhibit was dominated by the more well-known artists such as Cezanne, Van Gogh, Renoir, and the like, although there were quite a few pieces from artists I did not recognize such as Camille Pissaro and Eva Gonzales. The biggest shocker from me was the stuff on display from Toulouse-Lautrec, who is more well-known as an “art noveau” artist, and not an impressionist.

Among Renoir’s repertoire was the painting that MAM is borrowing as per a wager with the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. Pretty much how the wager worked was: if Green Bay won the Super Bowl, MAM would borrow this painting from Carnegie, and if Pittsburgh won, the opposite would happen (I forget the painting that MAM would have to loan out). It was interesting seeing this work and the story behind its arrival in Milwaukee, as I had completely forgotten about that whole thing until I saw it face to face.

The medium that dominated the exhibit was pastel or charcoal on paper. A majority of the pieces on display were sketches for paintings the artist later did. Degas especially had a lot of pastel work on display. Monet had a lot of drawings too, but I’m glad one of his paintings was on display as well as his paintings expressed what he was going for a lot better than his drawings.

The show is going on from now until the 8th of January. If you happen to be in the Milwaukee area, you should definitely see it at least once. More information and images of the show can be found at the exhibit’s website.

Recap of ArtWorks’ “Monster” show, plus some more updates

I’ve uploaded some more older artwork to the Portfolio section. I’m currently working on a new project at the moment, but I’m trying to keep it on the down-low until it’s complete.

I’ve also added another link, this time to another fellow artist, Josh Frazer. He is also a cartoonist/illustrator who has done a lot of work around Kenosha. Feel free to check his stuff out when you get the chance.

For the last four years, ArtWorks of Kenosha has been putting on a show called “Monster”, which is basically an art show featuring monsters, either as homages to classic movie and folklore creatures, or something invented from the artist. Last year, I had a piece in this show (The Giant Claw), but unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to make something this year. However, I like to check out the shows at Artworks, so I went to the Costume Party reception on October 29th.

There were a couple of relief prints that stuck out quite a bit to me, as they had this clean line look similar to what I’ve done with cartoons lately. In fact, I was almost envisioning what they would have looked like if they were given color via Illustrator. Then again, I’ve been seeing that a lot with line work, as I’ve been trying to improve my own color.

Another work that stood out to me was a pinball table made by one of my former professors. I’m not sure if it was usable or not (not exactly a good idea to just touch random artwork, after all), but it looked like it could be. I could recognize it as his work right away as he has a certain style to his work I have never seen imitated.

The reception itself was a pretty good time. Since it was a costume party, almost everyone there was dressed as something or someone else. There was a huge multilayer cake there that everyone had a slice of, and it was pretty good, I must say. There was also a dance routine going on featuring zombie/undead girls. I’ll admit that I was a little unnerved by it at first as I had no idea what was going on, but I figured they were in character.

The show is going on until November 7th, so if you happen to be in Kenosha until then, feel free to check it out. Maybe the next time I put up something relating to an event, I’ll remember to bring my camera so I can take some photos of it.

Review: “Miracle Mouse: Cranky’s Miracle” animatic

I want to put more content on the home page besides just updates on my portfolio and such, so I’m trying something else as well: brief recaps of art-related events I’ve attended.

Last Thursday, I attended a meeting of the Milwaukee Animation Group, and this last time they had a screening from a local man (Tom Hignite) who wanted to get into the animation business. The screening was an animatic to a future film called “Miracle Mouse: Cranky’s Miracle”, and the idea behind this screening was to get a critique on what has been done so far.

To begin, I’ll start with what was good about the animatic:

-The little bits of animation that were done so far were really good, but that should come as no surprise considering they were done by ex-Disney animators years ago.

-The story and message were clear and not jumbled about.

-The animatic felt more like a motion comic than any other animatic I’ve seen, which could make it marketable for the iPad market in case it needs more funding.

Now, there’s everything else: it was way too much of a ripoff of 90s Disney, for starters. Everything about it screamed Disney, and there were elements that were so close to plagiarizing Uncle Walt that I felt very uncomfortable watching it. The title cards struck me as something that would be in a Disney film like “Beauty and the Beast”, Miracle Studio’s (Hignite’s production outfit) title sequence was almost frame-for-frame like the opening Walt Disney castle sequence seen at the beginning of every Disney flick, there is a requisite song-and-dance musical number, even the title character looks like Mickey Mouse with a hard hat.

There was only one musical number so far (although Hignite said the final film will have more), but I can tell you that it was not very good. The voice actors that they got were okay for their speaking roles, but they sure can’t sing. What some animated movies do is they have someone different from the character’s VO sing the songs (case in point: Anne-Marie in “All Dogs go to Heaven”, for the one song she sings). That’s what should be done here. However, even if Hignite hires someone to sing the songs separately from the other VOs, it still doesn’t change that it was a bad song. I heard the word “miracle” so many times in it that I was expecting Insane Clown Posse to pop in and say “@&#$ing magnets, how do they work?” “Miracle” was the common word throughout the entire production (not just the song), and I was so sick of hearing it by the end of the 27 minute short.

My biggest problem with “Cranky’s Miracle”, though, was that the whole plot was extremely saccharine. It really was a film aimed toward a much younger audience, but there should have been something thrown in there to entertain the adults too. Part of what makes the greatest animated films so great is that they appeal to more than one demographic. Warner Brothers did this well with the Looney Tunes shorts, and Disney itself had the darker moments in films like “The Lion King” as well as the entirety of Pixar’s library. “Cranky’s Miracle” does not have that. The darkest moment took place during a storm sequence late in the film, and even then it seemed preachy about its message.

All in all, while the animation was nice, the film needs a lot of work before it can be shown on the big screen. If anything, it would be much smarter for Miracle Studios to develop it as a short film instead, as this film has been in production for over seven years and yet it’s still in an animatic stage. It needs to not only appeal to kids, but the parents of those same kids as well, otherwise critics will tune it out as kiddy pablum. Additionally, it really needs to gain its own style. Aping Disney’s style in animation as well as plot structure makes it too derivative, and could even get Miracle Studio’s in legal trouble, considering how protective Disney is of their copyright.

After the screening was finished, there was a brief survey as well as a Q&A. While I didn’t ask any questions, I did fill out the survey and pretty much made the exact same points that I made here (no parental bonus, too kiddy).