Back to School

Growing up, I missed out on a lot of those traumatizing childhood experiences charitably described as "character-building." Never broke a limb, never had braces, never broke a limb while struggling to detach my braces from the braces of my first kiss. Never saw Mac and Me.

And I never had to ride the school bus. So my entire understanding of how they operate is as follows: A) their wheels go round and round, and B) they are fueled by the ear-abusing shrieks of their delinquent passengers.

Little wonder, then, that when I got the assignment for The Normal School's Spring issue with the co-themes of "cutting class" and "4-H club," the first thing that came to mind was a bus stocked with clamorous farm animals. It's pure coincidence that both school kids and barnyard animals are ecstatic Beliebers.

The issue's on newsstands now, so if you like quality literature and goats, snatch this up ASAP!


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The Tortoise and the Facial Hair

Yowzers, the past few weeks have been BUSY at the Zack Rock Brothers Illustration & Novelty Beards factory.

On the beard end, we've been prototyping something called "cloud bearding." Need more beard to store food crumbs and condiment drippings in, but running low on face space? With cloud bearding, your mastication memories are automatically uploaded to the cloud and accessible from any WiFi hotspot. The boys at R&D tell me this is the future of facial hair, and a far better alternative to our malfunction-prone USB "flash beards," which were sparking a worrisome amount of face fires.

In the illustration department, studio time has been dedicated to a massive project I can disclosed exactly nothing about, except to say it involves a lot of sushi and one blind dog. Until that can be unveiled, I've been working to pad my editorial portfolio by illustrating interesting old articles I find on the 'net. This is my Escher-esque take on a Guardian article on the phenomenon of "slow reading." Really fun to paint, except for the half hour I spent Googling photo references of a cup of tea, forgetting entirely I was already drinking an actual cup of tea.


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"Nor when expandingly lifted by your subject, can you fail to trace out great whales in the starry heavens, and boats in pursuit of them; as when long filled with thoughts of war the Eastern nations saw armies locked in battle among the clouds. Thus at the North have I chased Leviathan round and round the Pole with the revolutions of the bright points that first defined him to me. And beneath the effulgent Antarctic skies I have boarded the Argo-Navis, and joined the chase against the starry Cetus far beyond the utmost stretch of Hydrus and the Flying Fish.

With a frigate's anchors for my bridle-bitts and fasces of harpoons for spurs, would I could mount that whale and leap the topmost skies, to see whether the fabled heavens with all their countless tents really lie encamped beyond my mortal sight!"

Man, Moby Dick is a weird and wonderful book. It's such a meandering mix of adventure, humor, philosophy and incompetent zoology that I'm willing to overlook all the whale decapitations. If you enjoy narrative journeys with frequent (though scenic) detours, and allusions that fly over one's head like a U2 spy plane, I highly recommend giving it a read.

And in case you''d like to know ahead of time why I'm going to lose my eyesight making paintings like these:

Really need to figure out how to work larger.


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Bird brain

For the final Nancy Drew adventure I worked on at Her Interactive, The Captive Curse, I was tasked to create an illustration for a card game featuring made-up folk tale characters. FOR SOME REASON, they assigned me the character named "Professor Sparrow." Go figure.

Given I basically only had a name to work from, and that it was one of the last things I'd ever do for the company, I decided to go a bit over-the-top with the art. And by over-the-top, I mean I blindly charged beret-first into the gaseous cloud of the arty farty.

Essentially, this piece is an exploration of the phenomenon of anthropomorphism. Here, the professor considers a butterfly that has lighted upon his book. The title of the book, A Sound of Thunder, is a short story by Ray Bradbury (or, I guess in this case, Ray Bradbirdy) in which a time traveler accidentally changes the course of history by stepping on a prehistoric butterfly . The implication: even the most minor change to universe's history could have resulted in another species gaining the evolutionary upper-hand instead of humans. Think about it.

"A Sound of Thunder" also refers to the noise your head made when I blew your mind just then.

So many layers.


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All the images in this post (except the header), © Copyright Her Interactive, Inc.