Friday, October 25, 2013

'War on Holloween" Cartoon to the Auction Block

Cartoons & Cocktails Event Nov. 21

Over 130 cartoons will be auctioned off at tomorrow night's CARTOONS & COCKTAILS at the National Press Club in downtown Washington DC. I will be Emcee for the event. This year's Pulitzer Prize winner for Editorial Cartooning, Steve Sack will be our guest of honor, and local celebrities and reporters will be the auctioneers. 
Twenty-two cartoons will go on the live auction block. The others are offered through silent auction bidding. Among the live auction items is my toon THE WAR ON HALLOWEEN, a multi-panel, full page cartoon that appeared in DCC's Magic Bullet, issue 7 (below).

There is still time to register. Tickets are $75. Proceeds go to two great benefits. Young DC is a non-profit org. helping to train young people pursue their careers in journalism. Cartoonists Rights Network International is a non-profit helping editorial cartoonists worldwide who face imprisonment, torture and death for their commentaries. To purchase tickets, or just to make a donation, visit the website: CARTOONS AND COCKTAILS.

Click on Images for Larger View:


'ON TARGET' Trailer Released

A trailer has been released for an upcoming story in the APHELION ARC Illustrated Anthology Series. 'ON TARGET' depicts the agony a medical research scientist experiences in seeking a cure for a devastating plague ravaging the world. This opus is currently in production. Portions of the trailer uses rough sketch storyboard art. Upon completion, the story in its entirety will be included among the print edition of Issue No. 1. Selected panels from the story will be premiered online, as they are produced. The trailer is available on the STORIES page, click on STORY TWO. 

More Goldilocks Than the Three Bears Could Handle

Here's another article (link below) that helps make the Aphelion Arc premiere story, "Exiles of Nod," so timely. It seems there may be many more habitable Earth-size planets out there in the cosmos than originally thought. According to a recent study, astronomers conclude that the Milky Way Galaxy (you know, that huge spiral collection of stars in which our solar system sits and spins) contains billions of planets that dwell within the "Goldilocks" region of a star. Perhaps good ol' E. "Phone Home" T. is a reality after all. 

I love the Goldilocks analogy, which of course is why I used the term so liberally in my story, with the characters actually calling the planet to which they emigrate "Goldie." Goldilocks, of course, refers to the concentric region around a star that is neither too hot nor too cold to sustain life as we know it. 

Hopefully, in real life, that's the extent of the Goldilocks metaphor. If you recall, when Goldilocks broke into the home of the Three Bears, she either consumed or broke everything she touched.


Today, the Aphelion Arc website was successfully launched. Webmaster Michael Auger worked the magic to bring it all to life. Link:

The original slide viewer [Figs.i and ii] had to be scrapped at the last minute. It turned out the screen just wasn't large enough to do justice to the slides. Thankfully, I was able to find a replacement. 

I was fortunate enough to find a classic "Story Portal" [fig iii] in the Aphelion Arc attic. It's used, but with a little retro-fitting of old cables and vacuum tubes I managed to get it up and running. Now, it's purring like a puma. 

I'd love to have a basement room filled with vintage electronic lab equipment covered with analog meters and dials, and an entire wall of oscilloscopes. So, creating all this vintage style machinery for my website has really been a lot of fun. 

Fig. i (click on image for larger view)
  Fig. ii Pristine, it's not (click image for larger view).

Fig. iii With it's rectangular flat screen, the vintage Story Portal was decades ahead of its time.

But, it sure takes a lot of time and hard, focused work preparing these things for the web. Not only do they need to look good, they also need to function. The Buttons and lights, in particular were challenging.
Fig. iv The Cathode Ray Tube (CRT)

Making the CRT Screen

So much of what I do in art is on the board, using pencils, pens and ink. But, for much of my web page design work, I rely almost exclusively on computer-assisted methods. After all, these mechanisms are just tools, like pencils and pens. Also, I feel compelled to mention at this point that I am not going to get into every detail here. This is not an Adobe Photoshop® tutorial. I want to share the creative process in this venue, not the technical. 

Okay... so here we go...
I began, simply enough [Fig. v], with a circle.  I wanted to make it large enough to make it easy to work with, and to be useful as a CRT. 

Fig. v

This device was inspired by our family's first television set back in the early 1950s. We were the only family in the neighborhood without a television. I was about four years old when our family got a present from my mom's sister in Philadelphia. A T.V.! The screen (tube) was round and only about 8 or 10 inches in diameter. It took a few minutes for the vacuum tubes inside the unit to warm up. Eventually, the picture appeared. Black and white. Often, it would flicker and the horizontal trails of the electron gun exciting the phosphorous coating on the inside of the glass were evident. At last, we were connected.

Next [Fig. vi], I add color.
Fig. vi

I gave it some shading along the top [Fig. vii] and curved shading around the bottom to give it some form, a feeling of roundness.

Fig. vii
I added a frame around it [Fig. viii]. This was accomplished through a series of circles, fills, and beveling filters. to get the desired effects. This is starting to look like a rounded screen. But, I want it to be plain glass, not frosted glass or plastic. To accomplish this, I added

Fig. viii

striking reflections. Again, this setting is a vintage laboratory. So, the most dominant reflection is a large paned window (Fig. ix).

Fig. ix

To accentuate the roundness and reflective nature of the glass, I added another reflection on the top [Fig. x], a sort of oval shaped form that I filled with graduated white. Note, that I made the background inside the tube darker, to reduce the glow of the screen. I want it to appear off when inactive.

Fig. x
When turned on, it will need an image. So [Fig. xi], I added one from one of the stories. 

Fig. xi

At this point,it could be a framed photo hanging on a wall. But, this is a video, so I added some filters to give it those familiar horizontal lines [Fig.xii] from the cathode ray's electron gun, dancing from side-to-side across the screen. And, I decided to make it more greenish. I don't really know why. Influenced by the Emerald City, perhaps. In the final version, however, I opted to go more toward the blue side of the spectrum. I may go back to green, though. It's a crisp color and gives a bit more contrast to the CRT in its stand-by mode (blue). I'll wait awhile, though, to let the webmaster's nerves heal. 

Fig. xii

Well, by now and after looking at the website, you may have realized that this is not just the CRT on the stories page. Smaller versions of it were used for other buttons and lights. I made certain modifications to the frames and interiors [Fig. xiii] , but it is still the same basic design. 

Fig. xiii

Monday, October 21, 2013

Aphelion Arc Website Coming Soon

Home Stretch

The Aphelion Arc website is getting the final touches in place. Launch is expected by Halloween. 

Here is a preview of the slide viewer that will preview some of the stories. To see the updated slideshow panels, click the APHELION ARC tab on this page under the Artleytoons banner, upper left. Or, just CLICK HERE.

Pragmatically, our overly people-populated planet is anything but pristine. I like to make mechansisms for the Aphelion Arc to look well used. Peeling decals and paint, along with a bit of grime adds a bit of authenticity to the setting. Thankfully, it's a virtual reality, so you can keep your Purell® plugged. 

(click on image for larger view)
Pristine, it's not (click image for larger view).