Wednesday, December 05, 2012

My logo redesign for the Big Ern's Boys hockey club

Back in 2004, I designed a logo for my Uncle Ernie's hockey team, Big Ern's Boys. Based on the old Ottawa Senators logo, it featured my Uncle Ernie's handsome, mustachio'd mug, circa 1982.

That logo served the team well for almost a decade. They had a chance to get some brand new, and more importantly CLEAN uniforms, and with that, a chance to redesign the logo. I was honoured to have the chance to be involved.
The uniforms look sharp! I was very happy that the team decided to spend the money to keep the original logo in the design, including it as a shoulder patch as a nice tribute to the past.
As for the front, well, it now features a new design that pays tribute to the old Hartford Whalers logo. The Hartford Whaler's logo is universally lauded as being nothing short of genius, featuring a hidden "H" in the whitespace formed between the "W" for Whalers and the giant blue whale tail that forms the upper half.
In the Big Ern's tribute, the W is duplicated and rotated to form a stylized BE, for Big Ern. Underneath that, the whale's tail was turned upsided down and modified to represent the mustache my Uncle made famous in the early 1980s.
Nowhere near as genius as the logo that inspired it, but I'm pretty proud of it nonetheless.

For those curious, the jerseys were produced by All Canadian Emblem, at 447 Bannatyne Avenue in Winnipeg.

Currently playing: TSN Radio 1290 - Hustler & Lawless
Proudly in my seventh Cola free year!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

On the cover of the Rolling Stone.... (or Digital Webbing Presents)

For the last ten years, Digital Webbing Presents has been one of the more well known and respected indie comic book anthologies. Digital Webbing Presents #7 was released today, and I was the colourist for the cover.

It's not the cover of the Rolling Stone, but it's close enough!
Click for a larger image
My friend MJ Fletcher is the creator of the Doorknob Society, and has published three novels you can get for your Kobo or Kindle! This issue of DWP features the first appearance of the Doorknob Society universe in a comic book.  I haven't read it yet, but I have no reason to doubt that it will be as exciting as the books have been.

I was very honoured to be asked to do this piece, and was happy to work over the fantastic art of Wendell Cavalcanti and Eric Dotson.

You can purchase Digital Webbing Presents on Comixology!  It's only $1.99!

Currently playing: Prism - Cover Girl
Proudly in my seventh Cola free year!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dauphin's Monkey Trails

Growing up in Dauphin, Manitoba, we had a beautiful hidden gem located behind Vermillion Park. A sizeable chunk of barely tamed woods, on the east side of the snaking Vermillion river, full of overgrown trees and barely navigable walking paths. As kids, my friends and I spent hours in there.

Often, we were the only people in the woods. It was this fantastic, hidden world, right in behind the houses on Wellington Crescent. I'm not sure how or why, but it was known as the "Monkey Trails". We didn't come up with the name. It was passed down to us from who knows where. Some of my best childhood memories happened on that wonderful patch of nature, just outside our back doors.

No matter the season, it is a place of beauty.
A few years ago, the City of Dauphin ran a bulldozer through the middle of it, and put a huge, gravel walking path in. There's still a few of the side trails that look relatively close to when they did when I was young. Narrow trails. Underbrush. Trees on every side. Sort of like this...
Compare that to this photo of the recently installed main, paved trail.
To make matters worse, the formerly dark woods is now dotted with street lights.
Now let me make it clear. I LOVE my hometown. I want it to have attractions for everyone. And it's clear that I LOVE the Monkey Trails.

But for me, a giant lit and paved path sort of took a vacuum to the Monkey Trails and sucked out the magic that made it special for me.

Now, it just seems like an extension of Vermillion park, which coincidentally enough also has wide gravel paths and street lights.

The woods where I used to escape is now fully lit at night, impossible to get lost in, and is dotted with benches sponsored by Dauphin Countryfest, complete with beer bottles littering the ground just feet away from trash cans.

Maybe I'm just being old enough to yell at kids to get off of my lawn. I suppose in the end, I'm happy that the people of Dauphin have this. I'm just saddened that the Monkey Trails as I knew them don't exist anymore.

Was there really a need to replace it with Vermillion Park The Sequel?

Here's a few photos from the parts of the Monkey Trails that haven't been paved over yet. It really is a beautiful place for Dauphin to have.

Currently playing: Glass Tiger - My Town
Currently colouring: Spacepig Hamadeus versus the Spectre General
Proudly in my seventh Cola free year!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Jupiter's moons through binoculars

I got quite the thrill in the night sky last night.

A nice, relatively warm night, free from mosquitos, no clouds, no bright moon in the sky. Finally. A perfect night to pull out my new pair of 20x80 binoculars my wife got me for my birthday and check out the stars.

SkyView, a jaw dropping iPhone app good for checking out the night sky, informed me that the big bright light rising overhead was Jupiter. So, I set up the tripod, attached the binoculars, and got ready for my first view of solar system's largest planet. This was the first time I'd had the chance to see Jupiter through the binoculars since I got them.

Seconds after looking through the eyepiece, my heart broke. Sure, Jupiter was huge. Bright. Beautiful! But trailing off up and to the right were three tiny dots of light.; some sort of artifacts or refraction caused by bad or misaligned lenses.

I readjusted the tripod. Fiddled with the focusing rings. The three dots of light were still there.

Then it hit me.

Those tiny dots of light were Jupiter's moons. I'm not smart enough to know what moons they were, but there they were. Three tiny pricks of light, unseen by the naked eye, but readily apparent through the lens.

Another quick check of SkyView confirmed my suspicions. The angle at which the moons extended out from Jupiter was the same angle as the ecliptic, or the path it takes across the sky.

Here's a quick sketch of what I'd seen. The spacing of the moons should not be considered accurate.

Here is a photo I tried to take of Jupiter by pointing my iPhone through one of the binoculars lenses. It's really blurry, and nowhere near as clear or breathtaking as the real view, but you can almost get a hint of two of the moons above and to the right of Jupiter.
I'm actually amazed that I could get ANY photo to even partially turn out using this method. What you see above is NOTHING compared to the beauty of seeing it the planet and it's moons in focus through the binoculars, but it gives enough for one to imagine what it was like.

It really was a breathtaking site to see.

Currently playing: Pink Floyd Astronomy Domine
Currently colouring: Spacepig Hamadeus versus the Spectre General
Proudly in my seventh Cola free year!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lost in Translation?

I came across this bench ad today for Winnipeg real estate agent Kevin Zhu.  I don't think the English translation contains the same greatness that I have to assume is in the original language slogan.
"Professional is as good as half over."

Have I just not had enough coffee today?

I'm going to guess that it means using a professional real estate agent means my search for a house is half over.  But if I actually have to GUESS at the meaning of your slogan, you should probably go back to the drawing board.

For reference, here's the entire bench ad.
Currently playing: The Heavy - What Makes A Good Man?
Currently colouring: Spacepig Hamadeus versus the Spectre General
Proudly in my seventh Cola free year!

Monday, August 13, 2012

What family means to me...

Because when -I- think of the word "family", the first images that come to mind are roses, mist covered mountains, jeweled crowns, and the skulls of long dead Mayan Kings shooting blue and white rainbows out of the sockets that once held their eyeballs.

THAT'S what "Family" means to ME!
Regardless of how badly this painting doesn't jump out and scream 'FAMILY' to me, I have to admit, that's the coolest damn garage painting I've seen in a long time. Sure, it's the ONLY garage painting I've ever seen, but it actually is some pretty decent artwork!

Currently playing: The Police - Walking In Your Footsteps
Currently colouring: Spacepig Hamadeus versus the Spectre General
Proudly in my seventh Cola free year!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Walking in your footsteps...

I spent a large portion of the last two days digging up the backyard, getting ready to put a new deck in.

I found a large, shale-like rock underneath our grass, and had to smash it into pieces to remove it.

As luck would have it, one of the cracks I made in the rock revealed a fossil!
I emailed the above photo to my friend Barb who works at the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature here in Winnipeg. She got the following response from the museum's paleontologist, Dr. Graham Young.

Your friend’s fossil is the inside of a horn coral (rugose coral). If he found it in Winnipeg, then it is probably of Ordovician age (about 445-450 million years old).

The fossil was the hard support of a little animal similar to a sea anenome, that lived on an ancient tropical seafloor:

I was pretty stunned. The shattered remains of the rock were just going to be tossed in with the gravel going under the deck. Had one of the six or seven cracks I'd made in the rock been a quarter inch to the left, the remnants of this rugose coral could have stayed hidden for an eternity.

It's astonishing to think that, before I set it loose, this fossil made 445,000,000 trips around the sun. It was around during the time of the second largest marine life extinction of our planet's history, and existed before dinosaurs were even invented!

And it was in my backyard.

Here's a closeup of the fossil.
Currently playing: The Police - Walking In Your Footsteps
Proudly in my seventh Cola free year!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sure, it CAN be used in stairways, but...

Nice little piece of 'photo fail' here!

I'd been on the hunt for a ladder that I could use to change a light fixture at the top of a high staircase. I finally found a tall ladder/scaffold combo that could be "used in stairways". The text on the box told me so!

But.... the photo didn't.

At all.That's one heck of a spacious stairway, to be able to hold an assortment of chairs, tables and plants like that!

Currently playing: Loverboy - Gangs in the Streets
Proudly in my seventh Cola free year!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Full Circle

Thanks to Facebook, I recently got a chance to acquire a great little piece of my own personal history.

Almost fifteen years ago, I got my start in the comic book business at Lovern Kindzierski's Digital Chameleon, doing colour separations on DC Comics on the overnight shift.

It was a dream job for me. To the right is a photo of 22 year old Donovan, about to head off to my first night of work in the comics industry. I was still living in my dorm room after finishing up my Fine Arts degree.

Colour Separators, as we were technically called, are all but extinct now. (Feel free to skip this paragraph if comic book colouring history sounds dull to you!). Currently, colourists use programs like Adobe Photoshop to add their hues to the lineart. In the olden days, colourists painted xeroxed lineart and created a work of production art called a colour guide, which was then sent to the Separator who created four separate sheets of film for each of the colours printed (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black). (Neal Adams claims that in the 1960's, DC Comics actually had housewives in Connecticut doing their colour separations!). Our role at Digital Chameleon back in 1998 was a transitional phase - we did the colouring and modelling in Photoshop the way that books are coloured now, but the colour choices were dictated to us by the colour guides, created by colouring veterans, many of whom had not yet learned Photoshop.

My first night on the job was incredible. I got straight to work on the first splash page of Action Comics #746. This was the big leagues. Action Comics made it's debut in 1938 with the first appearance of Superman. While Superman was not my favourite character to read about, he IS an icon. And lo and behold, on the first page I was to work on was a full page drawing by superstar Canadian artist Stuart Immonen of Superman himself. Strong. Powerful. Mopping the deck of a cruise ship. (Okay, so it wasn't the most exciting, action packed page, but that didn't matter!). By the end of my 8 hour shift, my first page was complete. I was soon to learn that taking 8 hours to complete a page was unacceptably slow, but hey, it was my first day on the job! Cut me some slack!

A decade and a half later, I accidentally stumbled across the Facebook profile for the colourist of that issue, Glenn Whitmore. Mr. Whitmore managed the Herculean task of creating painted colour guides for FOUR Superman books each month, every one of them coming to my shift at Digital Chameleon for separation. Having worked on so much of this man's work during the embryonic stages of my colouring career had a big influence on me, and I was happy to have the opportunity to tell him this.

After some chatting, Glenn was kind enough to send me the original colour guide I'd launched my journey on. It's still got my name on the back, printed in my atrocious printing style. You'd never know I was an artist by that chicken scratching! (Phoenix was the name of my computer workstation).
Here's a shot of the actual colour guide and the printed comic, side by side.
The colour guide is really a fantastic artifact of the old days of comic creation. A wonderful piece of messy, beautiful production art, marked up in the margin with notes from the editor and colourist. Below is a full scan of the guide (complete with a personalized note from Glenn Whitmore), along with his original colour notes, which told us separators useful bits of information, such as Lana Lang's hair colour (YR25).

Click here to see a large scan of it.
I own a lot of books that I've worked on from the big 3 publishers. However, this piece of art, symbolic of my first steps in the industry, is by far the highlight of my collection.

It's a huge honour to have some of the guides I had worked on in my possession. Looking at them again rekindles some of that wide eyed excitement about the craft of colouring that I had when I started.

What struck me about revisiting Glenn Whitmore's guides is that he actually uses COLOURS. A lot of books nowadays feature really dark, moody, greyed out "colouring". Whitmore isn't afraid to have his pages look bright and, well, colourful. (A colourist who colours! Imagine that!). He understands atmospheric perspective, colour temperature and contrasts, and uses them well. I've always loved how he painted lighting effects - below are two panels from his guides that I think show his skill in this area.
So now, several issues of old colour guides are sitting on the bookshelf above my desk. Glenn Whitmore was probably just happy to unload some of these papers out of storage to clear up some space. But for me, this page is a meaningful symbol of the first steps I took in this semi-career of mine over a decade and a half ago, and I'm extremely grateful that he was okay to part with it.

Currently playing: Deadbeat Honeymooners - King of Your Heart
Proudly in my seventh Cola free year!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Exposure to Nuts - A Warning? Or an Invitation...

I've been going to the Bridge Drive Inn, or the BDI, for years now, and I've always received a private chuckle every time I see the following sign.

"All products except soft ice cream may be exposed to nuts."

I can't figure out if this is meant as a warning or an invitation!

On the one hand, watch out, our products may have come in contact with allergy causing nuts!

On the other hand, it almost seems like it could have been put up after staff got sick of people asking, "Is it safe for this ice cream to come in contact with my nuts?".

So go ahead, people!  Your nuts may indeed be exposed to that cold, delicious ice cream! 

Nuts, of course, referring to pistachios, peanuts, etc. 

Currently playing: Todd Tamanend Clark - Secret Sinema
Currently colouring: An as yet unsolicited Marvel Masterwork!
Proudly in my seventh Cola free year!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Stan Lee

This was a phenomenal weekend.

I met Stan Lee.

Yes, THE Stan Lee, who is responsible for creating the stable of superheroes of Marvel Comics that was my playground as a boy.
At almost 90 years old, Lee looks great and is still as sharp as a knife.

Some of my first work for Marvel was colouring Marvel Masterworks: Fantastic Four Volume 8. As Stan Lee signed my book, I giddily told him that I'd worked on the tome in front of him, and that it was an honour to have him sign my copy.

He paused, flipped through it, and kindly said, "Well, it looks like you did a pretty good job!".

I was more than a little stunned. He was obviously just being nice. My voice belying the stammering in my head, I responded by saying, "I think you did a better job writing the stories, Stan!". He chuckled, and we posed for a photo.

Unlike other great moments in life that seem to pass so quickly, my 30 seconds with Stan Lee was perfect. Time slowed, we both got some words in, I didn't make a fool of myself, and it ended on a note of humour.

This guy is on the same level as Walt Disney, for crying out loud! Both have created works that spawned iconic American characters. His work has been a central part of my life, and I got the chance to shake his hand and thank him.

It was a weekend I'll never forget.

Currently playing: Sting - If I Ever Lose My Faith in You
Currently colouring: An as yet unsolicited Marvel Masterwork!
Proudly in my seventh Cola free year!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

SPOILER ALERT: Avengers 1D Movie Poster leaked!

I shouldn't be sharing this, but if I don't release it someone is going to beat me to the punch...

In another week, you can thrill to Marvel's Avengers film in both 2D and 3D formats!  I've just been sent this EXCLUSIVE movie poster spoiling Marvel's plans to release the film in glorious 1D later this spring!

The poster spoils the post-credits scene, so don't say I didn't warn you!
Avengers 1D!  See it in the dimension that came FIRST!  Summer, 2012!

Currently playing: Queen - Stone Cold Crazy
Currently colouring: An as yet unsolicited Marvel Masterwork!
Proudly in my seventh Cola free year!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Not your average bear: My strange quirks.

For my entire life, I've lived with a few constant quirks that I think could probably be a sign of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. My actions fit what I've read about the disorder, but that being said, these actions don't really interfere with me living a normal life, so I'm certainly not going to be featured on any shows on The Learning Channel.

I'd posted a Facebook status update a week or two ago about how I'd finally come to terms with my quirks, and that I enjoy having them. I got lots of great responses from friends, although I had to laugh at some of their own diagnoses of OCD, like alphabetizing their CD collection, or double checking the locks, or making sure the stove element is off. While those things may be OCD, in my opinion they are actually very useful behaviours to have!

Conversely, mine serve absolutely no purpose in every day life. They're not destructive, like compulsive hand washing. They're just... odd.

Well? Are you ready for me to divulge my secret quirks?

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin.

I'll start with the least bizarre of them, and we'll move forward. I'll warn you, the last one gets me the weirdest looks.

1. Foods shouldn't touch, and should be eaten in order 
I really don't think this one is that strange, but everyone who sees it in action (mostly my wife) thinks it's nuts. So for the record, I don't consider this quirky, I think I'm just picky. I like to segregate my tastes, so I make sure when I put food on my plate that it doesn't touch. Nothing drives me crazier finding peas and carrots in my mashed potatoes. If I go to a buffet and the people behind the sneeze guard just throw my food onto a big pile on my plate, I pretty much tell them to keep it.

Some people like to try a bit of each food on their plate, but not me. I don't move on to my green beans until my carrots are done. And the meat always comes last.

2. Body symmetry 
This is a little odd, but again, I don't think it's all that strange. If something happens on the left side of my body, I immediately feel the need to do it to my right. Especially when eating. I'll subliminally keep a mental count of how many times I've chewed a mouthful of food or gum on the left, and will have to do the same on my right. I don't even consciously think about it, or keep track of the bites numerically. I just have to do it.

The only time I get 'relief' from this is when drumming. Music seems to distract the part of my brain that requires this symmetry enough, that when I'm behind a kit, I'm able to be free. Wanting to play music forces me out of this behaviour - my right hand needs to keep time on the high hat, while my left hand and right foot are doing completely different things. The first time I was able to play along to a piece of music, I felt the 'symmetry itch' in my brain get scratched. It was incredible.

But, as soon as the music has stopped, I can't control the impulse, and it's back to touching my left arm if my right arm brushes up against a wall, just to 'even things out'.

3. I can't step on invisible lines that only I can see
This is by far the oddest behaviour, and every time I've tried to demonstrate what goes on in my brain to people, I get looked at like I'm from another planet.

And let me preface this by saying this is not conscious behaviour - I'm not deciding to do this.

It. Just. Happens.

My brain draws lines from objects around me.

And these lines cannot be stepped on.


See the image below. The white lines have been added by me in Photoshop. This is literally what I see when I look down at a sidewalk - every door, jut, pillar, betch, etc extends out an invisible grid line. While I walk, my brain adjusts my gait accordingly, so that my feet stay in between these lines, which exist only in my head.
Now, that doesn't seem so bad, at least not in this instance. There are places where it does become a bit challenging though.. See below..
This is how my brain interprets the spaces around me. Long ago, I just grew to accept it. Why change it? It doesn't prevent me from living a full life, or cause damage to my body. It's just... weird.

Or it's a great icebreaker at cocktail parties.

One last thing, because everyone I ever told this to has asked "What happens if you step on these imaginary lines?". Well, if I accidentally step on an imaginary line with my left foot (see #1 below), my need for symmetry kicks in and I need to purposely step on another line in the exact same area on my other foot (#2 below).
Hey, I've never claimed to be normal! Cut me some slack!

So, let me know what you think? Weird? Or what?

Currently playing: Steve Perry & Kenny Loggins - Don't Fight It
Currently colouring: An as yet unsolicited Marvel Masterwork!
Proudly in my seventh Cola free year!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tim Stapleton, or "The One That Waved To Me"

Although a win in regulation would have been ideal, there is still a bit of "joy in Joyland" here in Winnipeg tonight, after Jets forward Tim Stapleton scored in overtime to win a critical game against the Washington Capitals.

I noticed Tim Stapleton's speed and skill early on in the season, and I liked that he seemed to be a very down to earth, likeable human being.  But it wasn't until I attended the Jets game verses the St. Louis Blues on February 25th that he became one of my favourites, and one of my four year old daughter's favourite's too.

It was Madelyn's first Winnipeg Jets game.  A moment of pride for any father. We got there as early as we could, and went down to ice level to get as close to the players as we could during their pre-game skate.  She was a little bit awestruck as she caught a glimpse of her favourite player, Dustin Byfuglien.  I was pointing out other players and numbers to her, when she loudly exclaimed, "LOOK, DADDY!  There's (Evander) KANE!".  That took me back a bit, as we'd never really pointed him out to her before...  Turns out she really is paying attention when we're watching at home!

While she stood at the edge of the glass watching the players go round and round (including Pavelec, or to her, "That Guy With Pillows On His Feet"), a blue shadow zipped up to her on the other side of the glass.  It didn't even phase her, as she was focused on the players at centre ice.

Her concentration was interrupted by the 'tap-tap-tap' of a stick on the glass.  Slightly startled, she looked up to see #14 Tim Stapleton standing right in front of her.  He put is hand up and waved at her.

She was stunned!  She quickly composed herself, and waved back.  A big smile played across his face, and she responded with a nervous, but excited giggle, and a huge smile herself!

And like that, he was gone, leaving Madelyn still waving at him.

I don't know if 4 year olds have the ability to blush, but that's the only way to describe her composure.

She had found a new favourite player for the game.

Tim Stapleton.

Or as she referred to him, "The One That Waved To Me".

The entire interaction took all of 10 seconds, far too quick to get a photo, but I did get this shot of her about 5 seconds after Stapleton skated away. She was glowing.
I'm sure Tim Stapleton will never read this. In the unlikely event he does, thank you. You made my daughter's first Jets game memorable.

Currently playing: Run DMC - Rock Box
Currently colouring: An as yet unsolicited Marvel Masterwork! 
Proudly in my sixth Cola free year!