Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Brothers' Collaboration Part II

I have another brother. He is the oldest. My other brother, whom I make drawings for every Christmas, collaborated with me on an art piece for our big bro. The topic of this drawing revolves around a poorly drawn bunny of doom which our big brother used to draw... the bunny would reek havoc and eat stick people in a most grotesque manner... which I may or may not have explained in last year's Christmas drawing "Doom Bunny VS Giant Schnauzer". My brother provided the Doom Bunny, and I created all of our Family members (wives and girlfriends included) by placing our heads on cartoon bodies... Jib Jab basically does the same thing... but ours looks better, so forget Jib Jab. Boo yah.

In case you are unaware of what I look like, you'll find my face on one of the super heroes... Maybe you can figure out which I am...

I'm thinking of making t-shirts out of each individual character in the drawing and giving them to my family... maybe we can walk around the mall with them sometime and look like big dorks... not that I really need a shirt for that... but I'd be happy to think so...

There was some difficulty creating this drawing... the photos were particularly challenging... not the act of integrating them into the image, but the act of getting the stinkin' photos. The brother who this was made for is not a fan of having his picture taken... and by "not a fan", I mean "HATES IT". So finding a picture of his face without a hand in front of it proved to be difficult. After hours of going through photos, I found the perfect picture... but his forehead was cut off. This required improvisation... If you'll notice, "wolverine" (aka "Eldest Brother") has a blood stain on his forehead... this wasn't to exaggerate the action... this was because his forehead is actually MY forehead. I had to blend my own head with his in order to complete this drawing. It wasn't terribly difficult, but it did create some issues when creating his hair line... I didn't get that part down completely and he ended up with the most epic widow peaks I'd ever seen... so I covered them with blood stains, so it would look like his hair got torn off in glorious bunny battle... So I've now unawaringly narrowed it down to two superheroes that I could be... good luck with that.

This is the second collaborative drawing that I've done with my brother which I've documented. The first being this one... I'm happy with how it turned out.

Brothers Unite!
~ Mark

Monday, December 28, 2009


As is with the clowns, this image was created as another gift for my brother... Whereas the clown drawings followed (though very mildly) some form of a plot, this was more or less a showcase of characters with no other purpose than to be awesome... and I'll allow myself to be a little conceited for a moment... it's a pretty cool drawing.

Though I guess that's not entirely the truth (the part about the plot, not the awesome). The characters in this drawing came from an idea I was kicking around in my head for a Graphic Novel about a year ago called "Brethren"... what was Brethren about? Yeah, I'm not telling... but that has less to do with discretion and more to do with a lack of polished plot... it'd probably just confuse you. But that's not because I think you're ignorant, it's because it makes no sense yet... because, in fact, I'm ignorant. I suppose this means my moment of conceitedness is over. I shall now return to my usual state of self-loathing and sorrow... which for most artists, inspires great work... for me it inspires a mass consumption of Martial Arts DVDs and Pizza. So if the art world doesn't benefit from my work, at least Best Buy and Domino's Pizza will... Just doin' my part.

If you've ever been to my portfolio site (and by some miracle remembered any of the stuff you saw there), then you'll probably find a lot of these characters to be a little familiar. Like I did with my DNA Tree drawings, I used a lot of sketches I had floating around that never really came to fruition... hence, they were in the "Sketches" section of my portfolio and not the "Illustrations" section... I look forward to these Christmas Gifts because it's almost like performing some house cleaning in my head. I go through a bunch of unused creations and give them purpose... and by purpose I mean "a place on an empty canvas"...

I do what I can,
~ Mark

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Clowns You Can Count On...

Alas, another Christmas has passed... which means another wonderful piece of art has been created! Every year at Christmas, my brother asks me to make him some kind of fictional illustration... This year I went a different direction than the usual "Forest with Fantastical Creatures" theme... I went with clowns! So... what? Clowns? Yeah, there's really no logic behind these drawings. I was stuck sitting through an unemployment orientation seminar and doodled a clown with super powers. I just figured clowns are always portrayed as either retarded entertainers wo scare children, or ruthless serial killers... who scare children... So I made them warriors defending their home planet from... space... demons... These are clowns you can count on to save the day... not make babies cry... or grown men for that matter...

Originally, these were meant to be one large image... but when I tried placing all the clowns on one page and adding a background, the colors contrasted so much that I fell victim to an epileptic seizure and woke up 3 hours later cuddling a balloon animal in the shower with my underwear on my head... Once I recovered (and properly reconfigured the location of my underpants), I created three different 11x17 images with very simple backgrounds to prevent my brother from suffering the same fate as myself... though that would have been amusing...

The background on the image to the left is a forest of Tootsie Pops... unfortunately they clashed too much with the clowns in the foreground, so I "shadowed" them out and left the interpretation to the viewer... though I guess I just ruined that interpretation by saying what they are... I had hoped to create the imagery of a "Clown Planet", but like I mentioned earlier, the colors were just too dang conflicting with the characters that I bailed on that concept... I aim to tackle this concept when I have more time... but Christmas creates tight schedules... schedules which interfere with good art... hence, no clown planet... just a planet.

That's all I got, though... these aren't really the kind of pictures you elaborate on. Clowns. Fighting Space Devils. Lollipop Trees. Seizures.

Circus music... followed by swift death,
~ McM

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Video Game Tribute #9: Primal Rage

What do you get when you cross "The Karate Kid" with "Jurassic Park" and throw in a hint of "Mortal Kombat"? Only the greatest fighting game since Ice Ninjas learned to rip a man's spine out by his hair! I'm talking, of course, about the only game that I truly believe was manifested from my wildest 5-year-old dreams... Primal Rage.

One part Kung Fu, one part Dinosaur. Primal Rage pitted Beast against Beast in this prehistoric, yet somehow post-apocalyptic, fighting game. While I still consider Mortal Kombat to be the greatest fighting game series of all time (yeah, that's right, Street Fighter groupies can kiss it), Primal Rage stands out to me because of how unique it is to its own genre of games. Generally, a fighting game consists of ninjas, sorcerers and Bruce Lee rip-offs (one, two, three)... but Primal Rage decided, "You know what? We should use Dinosaurs." ... and the rest was history.

In Primal Rage, you have a roster of Dinosaurs, Apes and some weird snake thing... now it's possible some of you are wondering how you make a fighting game with giant monsters that doesn't follow in the footsteps of Godzilla with fire-breath and city demolition... well it's simple, teach em' martial arts! That's right, not only are they prehistoric beasts... they know kung fu... You've got Raptors performing flying kicks, monkeys somersaulting through the air and serpents blocking, ducking and jumping like defensive masters... and in case you're not flipping through a pile of Britannicas wondering where the heck you missed all this in Science Class, get this... they have super powers. Oh, yeah, they've mastered hypnosis, spit fireballs, shoot electricity, summon arctic cold to freeze their enemies... one of them even has the ability to urinate acid... now if that isn't every boy's dream, I don't know what is... though I'm sure there's a few club-hoppers out there who think they're urinating acid... but I'd rather not get into that.

If the concept of Kung-Fu dinosaurs isn't enough to keep you coming back for more, the game pays homage to the glorious Mortal Kombat series with a variety of Fatality Finishers... Me and my good friend Edgell blew about 20 dollars worth of quarters at the arcades a day just trying to discover these bloody-delights... and they were well worth our parent's money. Did I mention one of the characters pees acid?

So yeah... Primal Rage rocks my socks back to the stone age... All I'm saying is, a Crane-Kicking T-Rex equals a solid video game experience in my book.

Not like they can do much else with those little arms,
~ Mark

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Video Game Tribute #8: Metroid

When I think of women who kick butt, there's only one name that comes to mind... and it's not Ellen Ripley, Laura Croft, or even Amy Winehouse... It's Samus Aran... the baddest intergalactic bounty hunter in the universe, the bane of every parasitic space alien's existence... and coincidentally the protagonist of one of my favorite video game series of all time... Metroid.

For those unfamiliar with these games, they're about a Bounty Hunter named Samus Aran who gets hired to infiltrate a group of Space Pirates living on the planet Zebes (who are replicating a dangerous organism called a "Metroid") and inevitably kill anything that moves. Sounds simple enough, but I've got to give credit where it's due, this was probably one of the more detailed game plots of its time... generally, an NES game would start out with something like this:

(Characrer's Name),

There's something bad happening... you should seriously consider stopping it.


Because let's be real... Japan couldn't make a Nintendo game without throwing Mario in there somewhere... I'm still not sure why a chubby Italian is the mascot of a major Japanese industry... Anyway, from there, Chaos ensues and Samus blows everything on the planet Zebes to high heaven.

There's a billion reasons why I think these games are so awesome... the main reason being that every obstacle in the game is solved in one fashion, and one fashion only... by blowing it up. Right down to the means of opening doors. Typically, you open a door by turning a knob and applying force. In most futuristic concepts, there's some kind of console on the wall, you push a button and a hatch opens... but Metroid is based so far in the future that civilization decided, "Hey, why are we wasting our time pushing buttons and turning knobs? Let's just shoot lasers!" That's right. In Metroid, hatches don't open unless you fire your gun at them. If the hatch is red, then it won't open by shooting it... so clearly you need some kind of key right? WRONG. You need a missile. I'd hate to have Samus over for dinner at my parents. They have a red door...

"Crap, can someone call AAA? I left my gun in the car!"

"Hey man, hand me that pistol, the keypad on my phone is locked..."

I swear, any further in the future and we'd be using nuclear weapons just to start up our computers. Though, given the extremity of Samus Aran's sheer badness, I'm sure it's possible that the doors in the future actually do use key cards, but Samus just feels like making a mess... and she does it with one hand tied behind her back... and the other stuffed inside a Plasma Cannon set to "Kill"... No, for real though, Samus only has one usable hand, the other is a gun. I'd like to see Amy Winehouse do THAT.

Any objections, Lady?
~ Mark

Angelic Interpretation

So it's clearly been a while since I've updated this blog... I'm over it.

In any case, I've got a couple of pictures which are ready for posting... unfortunately I can't post them until after the holidays, they're gifts for my brother, and I'd rather not have him visit my site and see his gift early... that would be most disappointing... I hope no potential jobs are lying in the balance, waiting to be dazzled by new blog content only to be let down by my unrelenting desire to maintain the element of surprise on Christmas day, hence erasing me from the pending list of employment... and for what... Christmas Joy?!


But anyway, I was rummaging through some old art work of mine and came across a pretty interesting piece I made for a class in college... yes, I occasionally made an effort in school... though rarely was this the case. Technically, this was a sketch for a far more impressive final product... unfortunately, I've been unable to locate the finished work... which isn't a big deal, I never ended up using this sketch because it didn't quite follow the same visual style as the other pieces. But it's pretty awesome on its own, I think... it brings me back to a far more creative time.

In its nature and style, this is one of the more darker pieces which I've worked on in the past. I don't remember exactly what the criteria for this project was, but the theme I chose was "Angels"... Clearly this is not a traditional angelic interpretation. I chose to go along the thought process that angels are nothing like we imagine them to be... i.e. white men in robes with big fluffy wings and glowing halos of light around their heads. I'm sure someone in biblical times may have been visited by the aforementioned angelic embodiment, but I imagine that in their true form, the one which cannot be seen with mortal eyes, is something far more abstract and intimidating.

If you look closely at the drawing, you'll probably notice there's an abundance of eyes formed within the patterns and shapes (you have to look for them). My idea was that angels are an observant presence, always watching from within the spiritual realm, beyond our own natural vision. A city is vaguely defined in the background of the drawing, implying that this angelic being is watching over the cityscape, protecting it with an almost frightful unseen presence... which is the only way I can remotely begin to explain what I believe the power of God must resemble...

Though I'd like to find the other finished drawings, I think this one was probably the most interesting of the bunch, it's a shame it didn't make the cut. I should go back and finish it sometime...

~ Mark

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Video Game Tribute #7: DuckTales

What do Pogo Sticks, Ice Cream Cones, Diamonds, Vampires and Ducks all have in common? Absolutely nothing unless you love Disney and you love Nintendo. DuckTales was probably one of the best games ever put out on the NES... why that is is still a mystery to me. I wasn't exactly a huge Uncle Scrooge fan, and I was actually annoyed that Disney's second most famous duck shared a name with Ebeneezer Scrooge... it just struck me as a rip-off. Not to mention, watching him swim in his money made me nervous, all that bacteria...

So why is it that a video game based off of Scrooge McDuck was so amazing? Let me ask you something, is there anything un-amazing about a greedy duck who smashes animals in the head with a pogo stick? I rest my case. Okay, I know, it was his cane and he used it as a pogo stick... but with NES graphics, is there really a difference? It's just a brown line. Do those sort of minute details really matter when we're discussing a talking Scottish duck looking to expand his already abundant fortune? Whatever, it's a pogo stick.

Everything about the game just screamed "amazing". The music was brilliant, for starters. It's one of the many memorable 8-bit midi sound tracks that made the Nintendo era so wonderful. And let's be real, Scrooge was BAD. Yeah, there's been a lot of hardcore video game characters over the years, Solid Snake, King Koopa, Samus, etc... but Scrooge was a glutton for wealth, he killed animals, ate ice cream on the moon, fought vampires... there was even a point in the game where he left his nephews in a cart as it plummeted over a cliff... and why? To be the richest duck on the planet. You may not be thinking it, but I'm almost positive that this game was the inspiration for anti-hero games like Grand Theft Auto... Oh yeah.

I think what made Scrooge all the more messed up was the fact he was creating all this carnage to happy midi music with a happy-go-lucky smile on his face... If ever there was a "Bad Boy" in the Disney lineup, it was Uncle Scrooge McDuck.


He's so bad!
~ Mark

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Video Game Tribute #6: Oregon Trail

I like to think back on a time when one could drown in 4 feet of water or die of a broken leg... I'm, of course, talking about 1848... or more specifically, 1971... but seeing as I wasn't born until the 80's, I'm thinking about 1992 and the infamous Oregon Trail.

I think just about all of us who were in grade school during the early 90's have some form of recollection about this game. It was the one game during "computer" class that all the kids fought over playing... the rest of us were stuck with Number Munchers... ugh. It was probably the last great (if not the ONLY great) educational video game to ever be produced... it was also the last time that Apple Inc. would be a noteworthy presence until 2001. Ah, the Apple IIe... so glorious. One of the reasons Oregon Trail was a playable educational game was probably because it was so inaccurate to the real life Oregon Trail that it was hardly an educational game... hence, fun. Somehow Bankers were better travelers than Farmers and Carpenters... because there were so many places to buy equipment while making this epic trek across the country. So clearly you had to be rich to survive in the wilderness. As I mentioned earlier, broken legs could kill and grown men and women could drown in 4 foot water... was everybody a midget back then? Did people fall face first into water and not know all they have to do is stand up to live? In water that shallow, all they'd have to do is like... roll on their back.

The other important fact about the Oregon Trail which seems to be completely ignored in this game is the cannibalism... um, hello... Donnor Party, anybody? There's some classic history for ya'... but no, we'll just ignore that part, you go ahead and make your fun kids game about the most messed up pilgrimage in American history... If they really wanted to make it educational, every time somebody in your party died, you'd have the option to eat them... but they'd have to be under 100 pounds, because according to the hunting segment of the game, that's as much as you could carry... now that'd be an educational game that would have the kids flocking to their history books... because let's face it, kids love violence.

Despite the fact that Oregon Trail chooses to omit various parts of history, it was still likely to be every kid's first video game experience on something other than a Nintendo or Atari (depending on your generation), and the pinnacle of the Apple IIe era. Not to mention it was fun naming your party members after your friends and watching them all die of Dysentery... I obviously didn't like my friends.

Now loading the wagon,
~ Mark

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Video Game Tribute #5: Contra

Contra is by far the most aggravating, frustrating, irritating and infuriating game to ever be unleashed upon the world... it's also just about the greatest thing in human existence. Period. I can't imagine that any man who was old enough to appreciate the original NES in all it's glory could have played Contra and NOT loved it. It was every boy's video game fantasy... I say "video game" fantasy because every boy's regular fantasy during that time period was Jessica Rabbit. Hands down. It was fast paced, action-heavy, visually appealing and challenging. And I mean, CHALLENGING. One-hit deaths, difficult terrains, bullets coming from every angle, constant re-spawning enemies... and only three lives to get through 8 levels.

But wait... did I say... three lives? HA! Konami to the rescue. If you entered the infamous Konami Code at the title screen, you'd be granted (as if by the good Lord Himself) 99 lives... As much as I love the game, this code was necessary if you were ever going to beat the game... and odds are you'd go through about 90 of those lives before the game was over... but I ponder... what sort of scarring do you think this creates for a Nintendo character? And not just any Nintendo character... a war veteran Nintendo character. Talk about Post Traumatic Stress! I imagine this is most common amongst anyone who's had a near death experience in war... imagine actually dying, then coming back, then dying, then coming back... 99 times... each death more inventive than the first. Bullet wounds, falling off cliffs, lasers to the head, aggressive robots, giant alien hearts that throw face huggers at you... YOU try coming back normal from that. Heck, I was just playing a game and I was nearly traumatized by it. I can only imagine what the Contra guys would be saying if there were only room on their 8-bit faces for... a face. The words "Please kill me" come to mind...

Well, let's just be glad the Contra guys made it through the first game alright... though if the first one didn't mess them up in the head, the next 11 sequels were bound to have an effect.

Consider yourself a hero,
~ Mark

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Video Game Tribute #4: Duke Nukem

I think it's a title that just about everybody and their mom knows... Duke Nukem 3D. Now, why does everybody's mom know? Because the game caused huge amounts of controversy upon it's release and still gets talked about even today... so any mom that watches the news heard about it and, most likely, raided their kids' rooms to make sure its presence was non-existent. But let's face it, it was a pretty awesome game. Funny thing is, I never noticed the questionable material when it came out because the parental lock was on... Though instead of wondering why Duke Nukem randomly flashed money at empty stages and uttered "Shake it baby", I was busy trying to figure out where he was getting the money from... ah, to be young and naive again.

It's hard to imagine a new Duke Nukem game being all that shocking nowadays. I know they've been developing a new game for quite some time now, and every time you think it's about to be released, it gets canceled... I can't help but think this is because they have nothing left to make conservative moms mad about. I mean, with games like Grand Theft Auto, Postal and Manhunt, it's hard to do much of anything to raise eyebrows and spark that ol' controversy that made gaming as a teenager so rebelliously awesome... I think if anybody is going to bring Duke Nukem to the next level of offensive, they're going to have to make him incredibly conservative... like "Duke Nukem... Votes Republican!" Oh yeah, the way liberalism has taken over the country, even the slightest mention of being a Republican can get you crucified... which I find ironic for a number of reasons...

But despite all the controversy that surrounds our beloved Duke3D, it's still one of the best First Person Shooters to ever hit the market. Especially if you love the genre... which I do. Wolfenstein, Doom, Rise of the Triad, Quake, Unreal, Halo, and the list goes on... Duke Nukem has GOT to be in the top 3... Anybody? Bueller?

So anyway, here's hoping 3D Realms (or whoever owns the company now) continues this franchise soon... before I'm so old that I have to make sure MY kids don't own a copy...

Come get some,
~ Mark

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Video Game Tribute #3: Half-Life

One of the more well known games, Half-Life was one of the last "greats" to come out of the 90's. I remember playing it at my friend's house for the first time and just being awe-struck at what I was watching... plus the hero was a nerdy scientist... with glasses! How many heroes where glasses? Yeah, none. Mario may have been a fat plumber, but Gordon Freeman was an introverted "Rain Man"... with a radioactive battle suit... who fought aliens. Half-Life was the perfect balance of horror, sci-fi and action. Not so scary that it was humanly impossible to play without without breathing into a paper bag, and not too action packed that it lacked in tangible plot line. It was so nice...

Anybody who's familiar with the game (or video games in general) is well accustomed to one of the greatest weapons to ever come out of a First Person Shooter (after the infamous BFG, of course)... the crowbar. What could possibly make a introvert in a bio-suit fighting aliens even badder? If that introvert was bashing the heads of aliens in with a rusty, blood-soaked crowbar! Duke Nukem had foul language, Mario had mushrooms, Jedi's had lightsabers, and Gordon Freeman had his crowbar... which leads me to my drawing. In the nerd world there is one thing which is absolute: Lightsabers are awesome. After Half-Life, Star Wars freaks all around the world were trading in their trusty multicolored Toys 'R' Us play swords (an elegant weapon for a more civilized age) for a red crowbar. It was like a mass conversion of religion, I'm pretty sure many were executed for their new-found beliefs... very hard times. Anyway, this drawing is my tribute to that murderous beauty of a tool.

No regrets, Mr. Freeman?
~ Mark

Video Game Tribute #2: Rambo

When one ponders on the glory days of Nintendo, the classics come to mind: Mario, Metroid, Castlevania, Metal Gear, Legends of Zelda, etc... Few, however, make it a point to remember this gem in the NES archives... Rambo. I should probably point out the fact that I'm a Ramboholic... Really, I'm obsessed. However, in my younger days this game provided me with the only knowledge of the Legendary First Blood franchise, seeing as I was too young to actually see any of those movies... The only on-screen representation of Rambo was that clip at the end of "UHF" where Weird Al fantasizes about being John Rambo and blowing up the Channel 8 helicopter... and then proceeds to blow up the Eiffel Tower, The Roman Colosseum and Hollywood.

With the exception of First Blood, the Rambo series is one of the more violent series out there... the plots usually go something like this: Rambo wants to be left alone, somebody makes him go to war, Rambo kills people for 2 hours and then walks off into the sunset to sad music. You've gotta' love the irony in the NES game... Rambo basically gets dropped in the Jungle and fights nature with a knife.

The most elitist killing machine on the planet... and he's fighting snakes, bees and angry rising bubbles... like the entire wilderness decided Rambo must die and EVERY living thing proceeded to hunt him. Even the flamingos in the game are mean enough to kill an ex-Green Beret... and trust me, those snakes put up a fight, some of them even learned how to jump.

Because I was so young, I was completely unaware that there was anything off about the game, and I have to wonder if the people who made it figured anybody playing Rambo was probably too young to be watching those movies anyway... not that you expect blood and gore from an NES game... but really, Rambo? Fighting snakes? So yeah... my theory is that this video game was the precursor to "Snakes on a Plane"... I'm also aware that the video game didn't take place in Burma... but the catch phrase worked so well with the picture that I figured I could take some liberties with the franchise... Nintendo certainly did...

Murdock... I'm coming to get you,
~ Mark

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Video Game Tribute #1: Descent

So, I recently set up a brand new PC... Just in case I've turned off any Mac users, I'm presently writing this blog from my Mac Book Pro... and I love it. But let's be real, there's like, 4 games to choose from in the Mac store, and most of them are too family friendly to be worth while... Hence, my PC. I like to play games from time to time, problem is my computer was too outdated to play anything halfway decent... so now that I have my new PC, I've been crazy excited to start playin' some dern games! ... But ironically, I've had nothing but a burning desire to play all the old games that I grew up with and have come to love... well, if anything I can load my PC with a billion older games cause they take up like, 3 megs on the hard drive.

But I digress... My recent love for the classics which made me the major dork I am today have inspired me to start a series of tribute drawings to the games I've grown to love. I'll be starting this glorious tribute with one of my favorites (they're all my favorites, but you get the point)... Descent.

This was the very first game which I ever played online with a friend... Video games? Friends? I know, the two don't generally go together... this time they do. The plot of Descent took place in the future (obviously)... Basically, a mining colony which utilized robots to do most of the dirty work of blowing up rocks and digging got infected with a computer virus which took over the robots and made them psychotic killers. You (the player) were a space gun-for-hire and were sent in to destroy the robots and blow up the mines (not sure why it was necessary to blow up the mines, but it made for great cinematics) with your totally pimped out spaceship... which to this day has one of the coolest designs I've ever seen for a space craft. It rocked. You upgraded your ship as the game progressed, finding new lasers, missiles, shields, etc...

So why is the Descent ship blowing up a citizen on his or her PC? Well it should be obvious... it has a virus. Descent Man was hired to blow up infected machines... That's why you keep your web browsing G-rated, kids. Descent Man will KILL YOU.

Material Defender Out,
~ Mark

Friday, September 11, 2009

There Can Be Only One...

So if anyone here has followed Six AM Comics, then you may be aware of a comic I run called "Scholars". More specifically, there was one comic I made which dealt with the battle of the discount stores... i.e. Walmart, Target and Kmart... It was titled "Here's to the underdogs...". It was more of a tribute to Kmart and poked fun at how people consider Walmart to be the Axis of evil and Target to be the allies of democracy and all that is good... all the while ignoring the fact that Kmart is typically decimated on a regular basis under both of their tyrannical heels.

... although to be fair, Kmart did things to Ames that are so vile I can't even speak of them on this blog for fear of losing my already fragile salvation... I guess this is nothing more than righteous judgment on that poor company.

This image plays with that concept yet again. I trust you're all familiar with each company's mascots... and Highlander... not Highlander's mascot, just the movie... I'm fairly certain Highlander didn't have a mascot... though it did have 4 crappy sequels... and a tv series that I didn't watch... mainly because they killed Christopher Lambert's character at the end of it... and that's not right... he's Raiden.

You know, I was just thinking... it'd be kind of hard to cut off the Walmart mascot's head... seeing as he is a head... He's not even really a head... he's a face...

I know everything! I am everything!
~ Mark

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Bending Tree

So my good friend Daniel Griswold has been writing a series of poems about New England... sort of an artistic farewell he began working on before he moved to South Carolina for a Youth Ministry position... yes, he left me. Very sad indeed. For some reason saving young people's lives was more important than playing Wii with me... go figure. But anyway, he asked me to make some illustrations for his poems with the intentions of publishing them. DG is a very talented artist, so I'm still a little flattered that he asked me to illustrate these for him... once I get off cloud 9 I'll finish the rest of the drawings. In the meantime, here's the first illustration for a poem of his titled "The Bending Tree"...

If anybody has lived in New England, they're familiar with the concept of that one out-of-place, looks older than your grandfather (and equally as senile) tree which stands curiously proud in the corner of a landscape filled with symmetrical, flourishing and almost cult-like green, glorious trees by a broken down stone wall. I won't post the poem on here because that's Dan's property and I don't want someone stealing it or even thinking I, myself, wrote it. If you want to read it, than wait for the book... or contact Dan over at his blog.

The idea behind the illustration (aside from being about Dan's poem) is how if one were to speak to that old, decrepit tree it would say that it is proud to be where it is, and the way that it is. It's dying branches would become earth again and help to grow newer trees... the tree is happy that it is the way it is, not wanting anything more than to be. So the picture is meant to portray that pride in what others may perceive as one's flaws.

Bendy, bendy, bendy,
~ Mark

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

You have done well, Grasshopper

I made this whilst I was very bored this evening. I had drawn a picture in college of a grasshopper defeating a bunch of ninjas with an old man saying, "You have done well, Grasshopper"... a little tribute to the original Kung Fu series. I've been wanting to remake that picture for a while, this was the result of that need...

I couldn't sleep until I drew this... now that it's finished, I still don't really want to go to sleep... perhaps this drawing wasn't the source of my awakeness...

In any case, I think it's a fun little concept. I also made another version of this using the same images, just formatted differently to a different size and feel.

Now that I look at it... it resembles a Celtics Ad... Oh well, I think I'm safe, Grasshoppers and The Celtics only have the color green in common... if that's a problem, than Fidelity has a huge problem on their hands... and so does St Patrick's day... never really thought about suing a holiday... I can probably make some big bucks off that.

I'd like to call St. Patty to the Stand, Your Honor,
~ Mark


This is a logo design I did for my buddy Dan Gillepsie. Dan is a musical genius and he's been working on a project called "Tranisit 161". It's an electronic music project named after the transportation system he uses in NYC. Dan emailed me a few weeks ago and asked me to design a logo for him which was based off of a symbol he and his friend Ahmed used to use when they were in school called the "Tralse"... I think the concept is a common one for anybody who sucked at True/False questions, basically it's a "T" with a mark next to it which makes it look like it's an "F"... but it also looks like "T" with a random pencil mark which may or may not have been an accident... very tricky for a teacher and easily argued by a student.

The image on the right is a lovely example of this marvel in student testing. The idea behind using the "Tralse" for the logo came from Dan not wanting his music to be restricted to any one idea or concept, leaving the meaning behind it to the listener rather than the musician. I think there may have been some other reasons in there, but I was already thinking of ideas for the image by the time he started explaining it to me... I have a short attention span...

What I did with the "Tralse" logo was have it be a cluster of ideas. It starts as a tree which changes to a tentacle wrapping itself around a piano key which has other piano keys floating from it, the top piano key forms the shape of half a guitar with mushrooms forming the tuners at the end of it. The roots of the tree engulf and weave throughout an island and by the time you get to the bottom of the floating mass you notice the roots and dirt have formed some kind of a veiny levitating heart. The city behind the tree was created using audio level lights to help tie the image back to music... the city is the skyline of NYC... which goes back to the whole"Transit 161" title.

All in all, it came out pretty cool, it was nice to do something out of left field... which I haven't done in a while. This project was a lot of fun... Thank you Daniel and your 161st Transit.

Next stop,

Monday, August 24, 2009

Reaper Remake

In a previous post I mentioned briefly that I would be redoing my graphic novel, "The Reaper"... I've begun story-boarding the new take on it in the hopes that I can finally create it in the fashion of my original vision... which I know, George Lucas used the term "original vision" A LOT while he was destroying his once loved franchise and smearing it in the face of his once loyal public... I, on the other hand, actually had a very good idea originally... what was ultimately created was a shadow of this. But in any case, I've done a good chunk of work on this to date, but I'll just show off a few things I was playing around with... which may or may not be used in the end...

First of all, new Canaanite Logo... the original logo resembled the Crescent Moon of Islam just a little too much, I'm not about to associate myself with that sort of mockery, this novel was never supposed to have any religious propaganda, but it came off a little anti-Muslim as I was rushing to throw some Canaan imagery together... if anything, it was supposed to be more reminiscent of Soviet Communism... So I'm rectifying that mistake... The image is the profile shot of a Ram's head. It's the most common imagery associated with the Canaanites of the bible that I could find, and generally, there's something sinister about the imagery of a ram's head... they do look a little evil... Ram's and Goats... But at the end of the day, the most sadistic animal, in my opinion, is the Squirrel... I'm serious, don't trust them.

Given this new logo, I decided since the "reaper" in the comic is basically smearing out Canaanite Leaders, the book's logo should represent that a little more... So I used a few ideas from the original look of the titles in the book and mixed it with the concept of wiping out Canaanite heads... This also captures the look and feel of the novel, which was best represented in some of the earlier pages of the the last attempt... and I know you ALL read it... just download the pdf from the last post already!

There's a new character I'm adding to the story named Samson, if you've read any of my other posts or browsed around the sketches in my portfolio, you've probably come across this figure. I originally drew him for a friend's band, but that idea ended up falling through, so I started to doodle him a lot more in the hopes I could use him for something. I know, the name Samson isn't all that original, but the graphic novel is a loose interpretation of the biblical Book of Judges... Samson was a judge, hence, he's going to have a counterpart in the story... I don't think I need to worry about a lawsuit from him, right?

All the character's names come from Judges... including the character "Barak"... no. No, no, and NO. He is in no way a representation of Obama. I created his character in 2006(I'm from NH, I didn't even know who the man was until last year), and the Book of Judges named him WAY before the President's time. So I ask that nobody even allow the thought to enter their head that Barak is in any way, shape or form related to the President. Please. Pretty Please. The fact that he is African American is a coincidence. So don't. Aight? Good.

I've created a little promotional image for the novel... more like a rough sketch with color.

So yeah, just a little update on what I've been working on. I hope to start making some serious progress on this, it's something I've really wanted to do for a long time.

I said don't!
~ Mark

Monday, August 17, 2009

Playing Cards

I was going through some files on an older computer of mine from college and came across a project I had all but forgotten about. I don't remember why it was I had made these, but I think it had something to do with one of my finals. These were my take on playing cards... a topic with which I am completely inexperienced, but I like to pretend I know something about from time to time... I'm a "Go Fish" master... almost as much as I am a "War" veteran. Yeah, I like games which require little to no talent... it's where I shine.

In any case, these really stuck out to me because of how deranged some of them were... not Todd McFarlane deranged, just a little twisted... Tim Burton twisted... i.e. PG-13 twisted. But creative nonetheless. It's your basic, make numbers and letters out of creatures and figures, a few of them could have come out a little better, but then, this had to have been almost 4 years ago now... I'm clearly more awesome then this shell of my former skills now... you can stop laughing now. You're a terrible bluffer.

I may do more with these down the road, it was inspiring to find these...

I fold,
~ Mark

Saturday, August 15, 2009

City of Heroes

So yes, my brother is getting married today! Now, you may be thinking, what does that have to do with this picture of superheroes being strangled by a giant octopus? Well, you can either assume that it means marriage will squeeze the life out of him... which may or may not be an appropriate assumption... or you can guess the other obvious answer (based on 90% of my portfolio posts)... which is that I made this for him as a gift. Now, this isn't his wedding gift necessarily... that would be out of place... no, I bought him a spice rack... whatever, it was in the registry. But I figured I'd make him a drawing to sweeten the gift pot. We used to (and still do from time to time) play a game called "City of Heroes"... which is basically your typical online game where you run around, get levels, be a nerd... only this game is awesome because you design and create your very own unique superhero. In this case, Brian (my brother) was Sexy Stud, and I was Azriel Reaper... which wasn't really all that funny by comparison, but he was an awesome character. There was a giant octopus in the game as well that you had to fight. It was an epic battle. We used these characters from 2004–2006... which is when we retired them for "Villains". I intend to make two more of these pictures for him each with our other characters from various years. Dorky or not, they're fun to draw and a lot more colorful then most of the stuff I make. It's like a breath of fresh air.

Anyway, I have to get ready for a wedding! Oh yeah, 100 degree Texas whether and heavy tuxes. Should be a ball.

Here comes the groomsman,
~ Mark

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


A few years back I made this drawing for my parents to have for there lake house out in the boonies. They had been decorating every inch of the place with moose and moose paraphernalia. Giving it that New Hampshire feel... because we apparently are abundant in Moose... Mooses? I don't know, I've lived here my whole life and I'm still yet to see one. I hear tales of this mythical creature hitting cars and causing pile ups... but as far as I'm concerned, they live at the bottom of the Loch Ness with all their other magical friends.

But I digress.

Because I made this drawing right around my dad's birthday, I figured I'd pay homage to him and add a pair of nose glasses to one of the moose butts... you may be wondering why the moose's back is shaved. Well, my dad is bald. And wears glasses. And has a mustache. It's amazing what sites you'll find if you get out of the house...

Nature is beautiful,
~ Mark

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Turble is a flash game which I'm currently developing for Six AM Comics. The idea came one day when I was doodling with my Wacom Tablet and drew a purple little dragon riding a futuristic cannon (which resembled an olive). I liked the character so much that I whipped up a real quick flash file where you could drive him around and shoot the cannon. You can view the concept by clicking the following picture:

It was a very simple concept in nature. So simple that it had me reminiscing about the simpler days of video gaming. I figured it'd be cool to pay homage to the old sidescrollers for the NES. I spoke with fellow Six AMer, Dan, and we began brainstorming ideas for the plot. Dan thought the purple dragon looked like a Gerbil, so we decided we'd call him Turble... a gerbil from a post-apocalyptic future. The basic plot we came up with was as follows:

Turble is about a space age girble named Turble - who has a Grampa. Grampa, unfortunately, is a deteriorating Robot. Turble has been asked by Grampa to seek out energy sources to keep his joints going so that they can spend as much time as they can together. Turble, being a good grandgerbile, decides to help. Unfortunately, all the energy sources are in cannisters that are strewn around a post-apocalyptic landscape where robots, mutated creatures, and killer bugs roam. Turble will have to be quick, strong, and agile to get through the landscapes and defeat the bosses at the end of the level.

Next steps for this game involved some concept art for enemies and bosses. I had stopped working on Sonuva for a while to develop the look and feel for his game for a while. However, the taste of Sonuva was still in my mouth, so I re-concepted the Hunter character as a boss for Turble. This was the end result of that idea... again, click the picture... because pictures are more interesting than plain old links...

As you can probably tell from the thumbnail above, a large amount of actionscripting was required to develop the boss test. When it came to Flash work, I was always a timeline-based developer, i.e. I treated animations like a virtual flip book, drawing each frame and making my flash files ginormous in size... This game has been a very educational experience, having to work strictly in code... which for a while was almost entertaining... unless it didn't work right... in which case I just got mad and gave my computer the silent treatment... which proved to be unproductive.

This is as far as the actual development of the game has gotten. Other aspects of the game however have been just as interesting. Fortunately for me, I have a lot of friends who are musicians, and as a result, I've been lucky enough to receive contributions to the game's soundtrack. My good friend, Peter Thompson (whom I designed the Two Good Friends album cover for) converted one of his songs to MIDI format for me to use... and it was amazing. The song is called "Never Ending Fields of Pain", and for some reason it totally captured the old school Nintendo feel when played in MIDI format. The song is playing in first gameplay link in this blog post.

In addition to Never Ending Fields of Pain, my friend Dan Gillespie (who runs a very cool musical blog called "Microsong") was checking out the game and thought that Turble was riding a giant Martini Olive and composed a song called Martini Madness, which you can listen to here.

Dan also contributed a song he wrote a while back called Never Nova, which you can check out here.

All of these songs have turned out so perfectly that I could totally see them as becoming just as memorable as some of the older NES game soundtracks which have stuck in our heads over the years... Duck Tales, Mario, Zelda... and if you don't know what I'm talking about, than you obviously weren't a true child of the 80's... and I pity you.

The following were some character concepts I had come up with for the game... if you've read any of my other posts, than it's possible you came across the picture I did with my brother, and you may notice that a lot of the following creatures ended up in that drawing. I'm all about recycling ideas...

Dan also drew some interesting enemies for the game. One in particular was this crazy looking evil robot with blades for hands... he personally gave me nightmares and I had no choice but to unleash his fury on the post-apocalyptic world of Turble. You know what to do... click that picture:

Yeah... I should apologize for that animation's ending... we are pretty proud of ourselves over at Six AM Comics... The robot originally had legs, but for the sake of easy animation, we removed them and let him levitate... like a future robot should.

Anyway, that's as far as I've gotten on the game. I intend to finish it at some point... preferably after I finish work on Sonuva... but I'm sporadic, who knows, maybe I'll betray both games in favor of a new idea...

Must... Focus...
~ Mark

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Since my time at Fidelity, I've been doing some contracting work for various companies. One in particular has been more than a joy to work with. They're called ::play::, an ad agency specializing in the criminal justice department. In my time there, I've designed a couple of animated banners (I just can't get away from it... I suppose it's my calling) which are now currently running on The first banner I created for them was for a company called Nortpointe. If you click on the image above, you can see the finished product. Or go to and refresh until you see it at the top... though if you're reading this blog 20 years from now, I doubt you'll see it... Yes. You are reading the past.

The second banner I did, which went through a number of revisions from the client, was for a company called Law Enforcement Dynamics. I'm most proud of my first round with this banner, but I'm still pleased with the end result, which, again, you may view by clicking the above image, or refreshing corrections webpage.

And last but not least, this banner was for a company called Bob Barker, a clothing distributor for inmates and prisons... yes, bringing all you criminals the latest in fashion. You'll be sure to turn some heads in prison. Like the others, click above to see it, or do the corrections thing. I'm sure these paragraphs are obnoxiously repetitive, my apologies... which may be viewed at or by clicki- oh forget it.

In conclusion, I owe a great deal of credit to Fidelity Investments for the hours and hours of banner work they had me do, I felt as though I was immediately prepared to tackle the above banners before any information was even given to me. ::play:: was happy with the work, and as a result I've received a number of new jobs from them, which is good, because I gots to pay the bills!

::play:: with me!
~ Mark

Who Is The Beast?

While in college, I was given one of the coolest assignments I'd probably ever get to work on in my collegiate career. It was Graphic Design II and our professor read us a poem titled "Who Is The Beast". She didn't tell us what the poem was about, and instead told us to illustrate a kid's book using a couple lines from the poem.

I'm pretty sure most people in the class moaned at the assignment, but I personally couldn't wait to get started... which says quite a bit, because this is the ONLY time in my educational history which I have actually been enthused to do homework... let alone willing to do it at all.

The lines of the poem I was given were as follows:

The Beast, The Beast! We must fly by!
We see his tail swing low and high.

The Beast, The Beast! I must turn back!
I see his stripes, Yellow and Black.

The Beast, The Beast! I hurry on.
I see his legs, sure and strong.

The Beast, The Beast! Don't make a sound.
I see his eyes, Green and Round.

My interpretation of this poem was that there was a cat riding on the back of a giant grasshopper over the ocean who caught a glimpse of their distorted reflections as they passed and thought there was a terrible beast in the water. You can imagine how much fun I had illustrating this book.

If you notice, the coloring style is different from most of my work, being a little softer and incredibly Photoshop-heavy. Prior to my work with Body & Brain Magazine, this was how I generally colored most of my pictures... which is one of the main reasons I don't show my older work in my portfolio. This was one of the few pieces I'm still very happy with.

The main reason I was happy with this work was the typography. I had never considered type as a design element prior to my work on this project... which is pretty sad for someone who was going to school for Graphic Design. My professor had encouraged me to focus more on the type this time around, rather than the illustrations. Most of my assignments which I passed in were so focused on the drawings that all other design elements were just going out the window. It's one of the few times in college where I actually learned something relevant in terms of design. It sounds conceited, but it was mostly because I was unwilling to learn, feeling that design was nothing more than a means to a degree in making pretty pictures... ah, the sad, sad mind of a cartoonist...

Another reason I consider this an important piece of work in my portfolio is because it was the first time I dabbled in a more simplistic art style. As a result of being told to focus on type, I had to allow the cartoons to take a backseat while I explored typography. Before this, my drawings were too detailed for their own good... i.e. the details weren't any good.

So, in a sense, the drawings were a little last minute, and somehow were far better than anything I had ever drawn prior to this book. It was like the equivalent to speed typing, there's bound to be a few errors, but it's still more efficient... I don't know if that actually makes any sense... it does to me. This blog is about me.

An interesting story... earlier I mentioned this being the first homework assignment that I actually cared to work on, halfway through finishing the project, my computer got a nasty virus from a pirated copy of Quark Express (which I never owned, FBI) and I lost all the work I had done on this. Just another reason Quark sucks. All Hail Adobe InDesign! ... Which I would gladly pay for. Fortunately, I loved the project so much that I had no problem redoing it... I'd do it again... but I've lost the will now that I'm not obligated to do so. I'm conflicted. Due to time restraints (caused by the infamous Quark Virus of 04') the back cover I designed wasn't shaded... but ironically looked better than the rest of the book... another occurence which encouraged me to go simpler with illustrations...

Who is the Beast? The Beast is me!
~ Mark

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Caring for Clayton

This was a flier I did for my sister-in-law's sister and husband. It was for a benefit they hosted to raise money to help support their son, Clayton, who due to complications at birth suffers from Cerebral Palsy and Quadriplegia. I had done a flier for the parents in 2007, which I assume they liked, and so they asked me to make another for the following year, 2008.

The style of this flier is a bit of a different feel when compared to most of my work, but a previous job opened my mind to the joys of simplicity. I did something very different from the previous year's flier, which came out really well, but was a little cluttered in my opinion. I was inspired by a Graphic Designer named Saul Bass, who had done some amazing work with the opening titles of the movie "Vertigo".

I kept it to about four colors (save for the photo of Clayton) and used simple shapes which represented the "Murder Mystery Dinner" which was the theme of the evening... I figured a designer who worked on Alfred Hitchcock movies was an appropriate choice of inspiration for the event. There were two other color themes (blue and green), but ultimately the victor went to orange... which was the original color I used.

Murder was the case that they gave me,
~ Mark


So my brother is getting married in less than a month... some consider this a victory, others a defeat. As a designer, I consider it opportunity. Weddings mean monograms, monograms mean design... design means something to do. So they gave me something to do and asked me to design their monogram for the wedding.

Opportunity or not, this was actually one of the trickier things I've been asked to work on as a designer. I normally do Illustration and Interactive design... logo's are few and far between, and monograms are even farther. I've never really worked with fancy patterns and scripted fonts. So this was, to say the least, a challenge. I did some research online only to find that 90% of the monograms out there... well... suck.

So I basically winged it on this one. Originally I was making all the design options in one color... black. That's just what was out there when I looked up these design delights. My future sister-in-law requested that the monogram be in red and brown, the colors for the dresses and whatnot. The only other requirement was that the K be before the B. This was non-negotiable. She claimed that it was traditional to have the bride's name first... but I still wonder...

Here comes the Bride... so move!
~ Mark

Women of Worth

So, this particular logo is somewhat of an oddball in my portfolio. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about the cause, I just don't usually get asked to do graphic design for women's retreats... I was actually quite flattered.

Despite how it appears, I actually didn't use pink because it had to do with women, I chose it because it looked nice. I tried a wide assortment of colors and this was the best choice... besides, I think pink is becoming more of a guy thing than a girl thing anyway, what with the whole metro movement and all... I'm still planning to get on board with that... I'm sure it'll be out of style by the time I arrive in all my Metro glory... maybe it'll still be big in Europe.

This design was used on a t-shirt for a women's church retreat in Fort Myers, Florida. They pretty much went for the first design I showed them, though we did play around with the idea of the "O" being a ruby to coincide with the verse (Proverbs 3:15). In the end, the ruby didn't look right with the design... so I win. The flame above the "O" is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, and was meant to show how the Spirit is with God's women.

In the end, this project was highly beneficial to my knowledge of design, mainly in terms of minimalism; something I'm a big fan of, but normally not confident enough to attempt.

~ Mark

Unsing Heroes of the Bible

My Six AM partner in crime, Dan, asked me to help out with some illustrations for a long-running teaching series at a church titled "Unsung Heroes of the Bible". They had asked him to depict some specific lesser characters in Scripture for this series which would be displayed on banners, projections and trading cards throughout the summer for the lessons. Dan and I, despite running a website together, rarely collaborate on any art projects, so he thought it'd be a good idea if we worked on these illustrations together. He took half the characters, and I took the other half, which consisted of Jonathan's Armor Bearer, Esther, Prescilla and Aquila, Jethro, Matthew (Levi) and Tabitha. The last image is Esther, who unfortunately wasn't used due to that lesson being canceled... which is depressing for me because that was my favorite...

Dan took on Centurion, Ananias, Nathan, Obed-Edom and Onesiphorus. You can see his illustrations on our Six AM Blog. I'd show his illustrations here... but this site isn't about him, it's about me... so you get me. Seriously though, go to the above link cause he did a pretty awesome job.

Unsung Heroes Unite!
~ Mark