Tuesday, December 16, 2008

For Whisky Nerds Only

Although I found this on the sidewalk in front of my house, it doesn't exactly qualify as a "found object" since I'd seen it before, and a friend of mine dropped it.

Still, it's worth sharing. This might even outdo the most ridiculous wine descriptions.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I just completed my contribution to Zombo Gallery's upcoming Ukulele Show, curated by Nathan Mazur, and here it is - a genuine porkulele. The piece is titled Hamstrung.

Offers are now being considered for this one-of-a-kind, less-than-concert-quality piece of inept craftsmanship!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Back in the Bottle

Scott Smith, beermeister at East End Brewing, is releasing a new bottling of his delicious dark brew, Smokestack Heritage Porter, with label art by yours truly.
Smokestack Heritage was first brewed in the summer of 2007, and was limited to 600 one-liter bottles. This batch will be similarly limited. Since it's a new "edition" we tweaked the color scheme a little from the original version.

You can still purchase limited edition art prints of the original Smokestack Heritage label, as well as the ever-popular Ugly American label. Go to my store for details. These would make great holiday gifts for the alcohol fan on your list!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Umami, again

The Holiday issue of Table Magazine is out, and here's the full illustration referenced in an earlier post.

It's a 2-page spread, and the pale purple/pink "sky" extends to the top of the page, serving as background for the text.

Quality Control (1987)

Michael Dowers of Brownfield press, an old comix colleague, invited me to have some of my old self-published minicomix reprinted in his upcoming anthology Newave.

Michael's request prompted me to take a look at the two dozen (give or take a few) minis I published back in the all-analog days, and this issue of Mondo Howie caught my eye. There were 6 issues of this title. For each issue, I did the cover and guest artists provided their interpretations of my character Howie "The Hat" Patterson.

Most of my minis were offset printed at a local shop, and they ran a weekly special for a free color of ink. This week in October 1987, the free color was orange. Just in time for Halloween, I suppose. I can't remember if I decided to reject this edition because of the way the orange ink turned out, or if I hated my cover, but I destroyed half of the print run, and gave away the rejected edition for free.

Today, I kind of like the way it looks. And I remember being pleased to have a chance to use my primitive rubber stamp typesetting kit (long gone).

The cover of the subsequent "official" edition is shown below.

Artists appearing in this issue were: Steve Willis, J. L. Hart, Mark Martin, Dennis Worden, Scott Nickel, Peter Bagge and Andy Nukes.

Newave is scheduled to be published in 2009 by Fantagraphics Books.

Sandwiches & Surgery

A couple of recent things...

I just wrapped up the largest, most time-consuming freelance project I've ever done - a series of math "word problems" in comics form.

My assignment from the publisher was for two textbooks, aimed at third- and fifth-graders. Between the character design/model sheets, the full page comics, and the quarter-page solutions, it came to around fifty pages of full color comics.

The project was at times frustrating, with several groups having to review each stage of the art and writing, but overall it was a good experience. It helped to sharpen my negotiating skills, for one thing.

From start to finish, it lasted almost six months. Apparently, I do have some sort of work ethic.

The panel above is from the first installment of a strip I'm contributing to the bi-monthly newsletter from Pittsburgh's Animal Friends. It's my community service project.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

What's in your kitchen?

A recent pile of junk mail we received included a Crate & Barrel catalog. This page caught my eye because of the weird looking items in some of the storage containers:

l was wondering what the hell all of these odd items could be, and where they came from, when I noticed text on what looked like animal crackers, but it was difficult to read.

l eventually realized that the photo had been flopped, so the text appeared as a mirror image.

Good old Photoshop came through and revealed words on the mystery snacks:

Would you care for a pigeon cracker or a rat biscuit?

Work in Progress

Preliminary study for a commissioned painting. It's better than earlier attempts -- which are too lousy to show here -- but it still has a way to go.

It's not looking enough like the intended subject yet, and in fact reminds me of someone else completely.

With a little more refinement and perseverance, I hope I can get it adjusted to where I'm happy with it.

I posted another example of this iterative process in June, while working on a portrait of James Coburn.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jim Copp Stuff

My friends at Playhouse Records were kind enough to send me a copy of the new book, Jim Copp, Will You Tell Me a Story?, published by Harcourt. It includes a CD of Copp's original 1958 recordings of the three wacky tales, and is available from Amazon.

In the 50s and 60s, Copp and Brown recorded 9 LPs worth of surreal stories and songs in their home studio. Each year the two pals would travel the country selling LPs from the back of their car to department stores and toy shops.

My favorite is A Journey to San Francisco with the Glups, a bizarre road-trip saga. This was the first Copp-Brown record I'd ever heard. I bought it at The Doo-Dah Shop, a long-gone used record store that was near the University of Pittsburgh campus.

Having missed out on these recordings as a kid, I discovered them during my formative early-college years.

Playhouse has two best-of collections available, and they're very nice nice samplers. I reviewed them for Cool & Strange Music, and have posted the review here.

All of the Copp-Brown recordings are worth looking into.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Goober from the Past

I was throwing away an old loose-leaf binder today when this Xeroxed item fell out:

I sort of remembered saving it some time ago. A quick Google search turned up this teaser from a 1992 Chicago Sun-Times story:

Ernest Borgnine, troubled by a failing marriage, says he once considered suicide - until his life was saved by fellow actor George Lindsey.

Lindsey, who played Goober on "The Andy Griffith Show," became such a good friend that Borgnine's life changed for the better, Borgnine said in an interview to be broadcast Monday on Fox TV's "A Current Affair."

The depressed Borgnine left home one ...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Human Tornado; 1927-2008

Rudy Ray Moore, a/k/a Dolemite, died this past weekend at the age of 81.
Here's a drawing I did of him for Cool & Strange Music Magazine.

Dolemite is my name
And rappin' and tappin'
that's my game
I'm young and free
And just as bad as I wanna be.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Here's a peek at a two-page spread for the holiday issue of Pittsburgh's award-winning Table Magazine. I'll post the complete image after the magazine is actually printed.
The article is on new discoveries in the study of taste.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


I just got some very nice coverage in the lastest issue of Pittsburgh's own LUX Magazine.

Now, let's see if this little viewer thing works (flip to page 36).

Monday, September 29, 2008

Goo Goo Muck, Addendum

The Norton Records website now features this gorgeous ad for the Mad Mike CD release party.
I'm not affiliated with Norton or Pietro's Pizza, I'm just a music fan.

Friday, September 26, 2008

"Quality" Signage

Yet another example of the widespread abuse of quotation marks.

Pittsburgh PA, September 26, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Music from "Machine Gun McCain" (Gli Intoccabili)

As I often do while working, I'm listening to some of Ennio Morricone's fantastic soundtrack music.

When the shuffle play feature brought up "The Ballad of Hank McCain," I heard it differently than I have in the past.

The lyrics below are clipped from a fan site, but they look to be fairly accurate.

Here they are, without comment:

No one knows better than McCain
Life's a filthy dirty game
Very very hard to win

No one knows better than McCain
How to disregard the pain
Never, never let it in

No one knows better than McCain
That an angry man goes blind
Knocks his head against the wall

No one knows better than McCain
How it hurts a man to fight
That he's human after all

No one knows better than McCain
What a desperate man may do
When it gets too hard to bear

No one knows better than McCain
How to spit on the taboos
As they thought he'd never dare

No one knew better than McCain
How to care for number one
How to take and never give

No one knew better than McCain
That when all is said and done
That's the only way to live

No one knew better than McCain
Just how angry you can be
When they cage you in with laws

No one knew better than McCain
That a man who thinks he's free
knocks his head against a wall

No one knew better than McCain
Just how bitter it would be
To be beaten after all

No one knew better than McCain
They're the ones who fix the game
They're the ones with loaded dice

No one knew better than McCain
That they'd get him all the same
And they made him pay the price

Poster for the 1969 film

The Italian title, Gli Intoccabili, translates as The Untouchables.
Producers presumably chose the title Machine Gun McCain for the US release to
avoid confusion with the TV Series based on the exploits of G-man Elliot Ness.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

In Like Flint Again

I've just issued limited edition gicleé prints of my James Coburn portrait.

It's a signed and numbered run of 25 prints, made with archival inks on museum-quality, acid-free rag paper. The image is 10" x 10" and there's a 1" white border all around. It sells for $80 plus postage ($10.00 shipping and insurance within the US). Contact me to reserve one. It's groovy.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Ugly American, One More Time!

East End Brewing Company is bottling another batch of Ugly American Trippel IPA beer! Scott Smith, Pittsburgh's one-man microbrewery, does an amazing job at his environmentally-responsible plant in the East End.

Scott asked me to make some changes to the label text for this bottling, and suggested that I might like to tweak the illustration a little.

Here's my sketch:

Maybe it's a little overboard. The final version might be toned down a little. Stay tuned!

Goo Goo Muck! Mad Mike Lives On!

My blogging, socializing , and sleeping are on hold for a while due to an enormous educational project with deadlines seven days a week for the next month or so.

However, I did want to steal a few minutes to post some exciting Pittsburgh news. NYC's mighty Norton Records is set to release three volumes of Mad Mike Monsters on LP and CD this month!

The late Mad Mike was a legendary (and quite possibly mad) Pittsburgh DJ whose wild musical tastes foreshadowed labels like Norton and Get Hip and bands like The Cramps, The Raunch Hands and The Fleshtones..

Norton is celebrating the release of these long-overdue volumes with a party at Pietro's Pizza, one of the last places to host the Mad One spinning discs. Here's their announcement:

7 PM-Midnight

Celebrate all things Mad Mike as three inaugural volumes of this sensational series blast off at the site of the late, great Mad One’s own radio studio, located at Pietro’s Pizza Pub at 2957 Banksville Road, Pittsburgh! Guest DJ’s will spin Mad Mike music exclusively, all night long! A great night for family, friends, fans... and pizza!

Sounds like a hell of a kickoff to the Halloween season.

  1. Mad Mike's obituary from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. I'd forgotten that he passed away on Halloween.
  2. A Mad Mike tribute website.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Les Baxter - Framed

A reader of the long-defunct zine Cool & Strange Music recently commissioned a giclée print of my 1998 cover portrait of space-age pop maestro Les Baxter. The buyer was kind enough to send this photo of the spiffy tiki-style frame he is using to display his print.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Everything Must Go

Stubble & Smoke has ended its run at the fabulous Zombo Gallery, but you can still get one (or more) of the paintings or prints .

I've recently had a couple of requests for prints of paintings that have sold, and for older art from various places, and can now offer them on a by-request basis. I've found a great one-man shop right in my neighborhood that does high quality giclée prints (archival inks, acid-free rag paper, the works).

So, if you missed out on that one painting you had to own, or would like to own a print of just about anything I've ever done, contact me and we can talk turkey. Prices start at about $75.

Production of your
giclée print will be personally supervised by the artist! Wow!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Atco Trousers!

Phone-shot snapped from the rooftop of the David Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

In case you wondered about the location of the home of Atco Trousers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Partners in Art Crime

Photo op with Michael "Zombo" Devine at the Zombo Gallery, July 12, 2008. This was taken just before the opening night reception for the Stubble & Smoke art show, which also marked the gallery's first anniversary.

Photo by KimH © 2008

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Rat Pack Prints

I'm now offering giclée prints of my portraits of Dino, Frank & Sammy. The images are 10" x 10", with a one-inch border, for an overall size of 12" x 12". They're printed in archival inks on museum quality Arches rag watercolor paper, and are limited to 25 individually signed and numbered prints.

The prints are $75 each, or $200 for the set of three, and the prices include domestic postage.

Contact me if you're interested!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Shiny Happy Pictures

The last thing I do before framing a painting is to apply two coats of clear acrylic varnish.For this part of the process I move out of my "residential" studio (a converted spare bedroom in our house) to the more industrial space of the garage.
The clear coat gives the art a nice shiny appearance, and also provides protection from fading and damage, so they can be framed without glass.
When dry, you could probably serve a cheese course on the paintings and wash them off without any harm, although my feelings might get hurt.
The coat of varnish also gives me a psychological endpoint -- it forces me to consider a painting to be finished, and to stop tweaking, repainting, and fussing over it.
I snapped these with my phone; please excuse the shakiness.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Virtual Viewing

Stubble & Smoke Virtual Art Show!
That's right kids, even if you don't live in Pittsburgh, you can preview my new show, Stubble & Smoke, by clicking on this link. All of the paintings are for sale on-line, too (except for Happy Hour, above, which has already sold to an alert and generous patron).

Check out 28 cartoon-pop paintings of tough guys, hard-luck mugs, saucy dames, crime scenes, the Chinese zodiac, and lots of red meat. As you cruise through the website, I recommend that you have a beverage and a small plate of cheese cubes on hand, with your choice of music playing at maximum volume. It's not the same as actually being there at Zombo Gallery, but that's the "Wide World of Web" for you...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Beef Special

Saturday Beef Special

12" x 12" Acrylic on Masonite, 2008

Another preview from Stubble & Smoke,
based on a sketch posted on May 6.

Meat appears frequently in this show.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

From Pencils to Paint

The final version of my James Coburn portrait:

12" x 12" Acrylic on Masonite

Saturday, June 07, 2008

In Like Flint

Coburn, again.

Much closer to what I had in mind!

Now that I look at it again several days later, it's painfully obvious how
much the great Mort Drucker has influenced me. Not that this is at his
level, but I can see stylistic details picked up from years of marveling

at his work in Mad. He's a national treasure, I tells ya!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Evolving Caricature

I'm doing some sketches for a portrait of the late great James Coburn.
The first one above was done while looking at a reference photo,
and I did it pretty much in one shot, without erasing, then traced
over with a fine point Sharpie.

The second one is a stylized version of the first.
It has a little more flair and personality.

Next, an attempt to tighten it up. I decided that I wanted to change it
to show his enormous, immaculate teeth.

Getting there, but not quite. From the nose up, I'm pretty happy with
this version, but the lower half needs more work.
I'll scan it and do
some manipulation in Photoshop, playing around with size and position
until I'm happier with it. Then I'll print out a lightened version of the
new composite and re-sketch from there.

Actually, I like the top half of that very first rough. I think this is still recognizable as JC.