August 31, 2010

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!!

A ‘Fresh Ziggy’ Introduction to this week’s offers!!

With apologies to all the rabid
Andy Williams fans out there, I am in fact NOT referring to the Christmas holidays. Oh no, instead this is a date that I look forward to MUCH MORE than receiving a few pairs of new socks and a bad tie or two. Many of you know my pain; many of you still blindly continue the activities that will only continue to exacerbate this situation.

No, I am instead preparing the champagne and a resounding chorus of halleluiahs because, yes fans, this Thursday is the first day back to school for the wee ones!! Oh goodness, can there be any more wonderful day for a parent than finally greeting the end of summer and it’s endless worries of destruction of every possession, bone or square inch of skin they have when playing outside (weather permitting) or even the destruction of every possession, bone or square inch of skin they OR I HAVE when playing inside (weather permitting… and I mean, as the summer progresses it has to be BAD outside to not allow their exit!!).

Still, you gotta love ‘em, don’t you? At least that is what this court-order and that lady that visits from Social Services keep telling me.


All kidding aside (really, I was… mostly), it is in fact a pleasure to introduce this week someone that is indeed quite skilled at entertaining and bringing enjoyment to kids of all ages. We at ZN HQ are very pleased to introduce to you:

It's Time to Get Things Started
An interview with Illustrator Amy ‘Mimi’ Mebberson
or copy-taste this bit into your browser:

I think you are all going to really enjoy Amy’s illustrations, cartoons and her valuable insight into the worlds she explores on a daily basis. And I apologize in advance if my introduction seems like an over-the-top praise-a-thon for the late, great Jim Henson, but after all, who deserves it more?

No kidding, Amy’s stuff is top-notch, but don’t just take my word for it!!


So moving on to this week’s ‘Shout Out’s’:


Our first shout out goes to Kevin ‘Loki’ Lo, an all-round neato, socially minded guy and proud possessor of his first rad tat (I have no idea what that means, but my kids tell me it’s cool). Not only is Kevin setting out on an exciting new stage in his professional career – moving on next week and leaving behind his ‘day job’ to focus on teaching and his own projects – but he’s continuing to do terrific work with his ‘zine’, ‘Four Minutes to Midnight’.

In fact, if you’re in the Montreal area in the next days, then check out: ‘
Uncle Bad Touch, Desert Owls & Griefer: 2356 Benefit Show!’ Kevin and co. report that they’re very excited (quote: ‘freaked actually!’) to present Uncle Bad Touch‘s first Montreal show, with guests Desert Owls and Griefer, this Friday night (Sept. 3) at La Sala Rossa. The show is a fundraiser to help the gang put out their next issue which is very nearing completion (also very exciting after a year and a half of hard work!).

For more information, you can also check out the
Facebook event page here. Enjoy, eh? Yes, yes, that same tired old Canadian joke, so sue me…

To read more about Kevin, please take a peek at
his interview here!


The second in our usual trio of shouting out and about’s actually comes by way of the folks that bring you
Original Sin Cider. If this name rings a bell, then it’s probably that you remember these fine folks as being one of the main outlets for none other than R.Black, illustrator extraordinaire, that has created a plethora (count them!!) of awesome posters for OSC!

And in the grand spirit of fair play and bringing together beautiful people’s everywhere, Original Sin Cider and R.Black in conjunction with Small Bar - Chicago will be holding a contest for the next Original Sin Pin-Up poster model at the Small Bar Fullerton Ave, on September 21st. R.Black will be coming in all the way from Oakland, CA, to help judge along with Heather Stumpf of
Vavoom Pin-ups and others (we’d list them but we kept passing out after looking a bit deeper into the artistic excellence of the Vavoom offers!!).

Remember: Chicago is a great place to enjoy Sin!! Or so we’ve heard.

To learn more about R.Black, his work for OSC and more, check out his
recent interview here!!


Finally, we’d like to thank everyone again for all their nice inputs about
Vince Chui’s work!! Inputs rolled in from fans of about every genre, including even one person who took some exception at my less-than-glowing inputs about ‘Land of the Lost’ and ‘The Love Guru’!! But overall it was very positive so thanks for that!!

As a reminder, keep checking back regularly under the
Sketch Motel link or Vince’s own blog for on-going new pieces!! And if you feel like someone might be covertly sketching you the next time you’re in a Starbucks enjoying your double latte’ crappucino (sp?) plus colon-blowing bran muffin and you feel like someone is watching you, even sketching you, well it could be none other than our talented friend himself (see new sketch here)!!

So please read his very interesting input as
found right here, still to-date one of our favorite blog titles ever!!



Now many of you in the know (or stuck perhaps in the mud, who knows) might think this story more apt for what has become one of my all-time favorite and ‘must visit’ sites for each and every day, namely ‘
Ultra-Gross’. And without getting into too much detail it is indeed very funny and indeed very aptly named (and I should also note with good faith they are the victims, I mean, the providers of the neat school sign I included above).

No, we found this instead on one of those sites that includes, well, ‘stuff’. And sometimes with ‘stuff’, you feel a need to learn more. And then your regret the heck out of doing that.

But no, bravely, I strode ahead as much as one can stride on GOOGLE and learned more about one
James Gilpin and his Gilpin Family Whisk(e)y (alternate spellings provided for those that get weirded out by how we Americans totally scru up da Engliss langooage, especially the Scots – who I have nothing but the highest regard for, especially as then tend to be mean little buggers with short tempers and long memories).

It seems James is a designer and researcher with a specific interest in the future of health care and the implementation of new biomedical technologies. He utilizes both products and services as mechanisms to discuss issues of socioeconomic and cultural importance. Through this process of emersion and debate he aims to evoke considered implementation of technology in tomorrow's techno-social society. Interestingly, and not at all perhaps surprising after that glorious introduction, James is currently completing his masters at the RCA in Design Interactions.

James goes on to introduce the
Gilpin Family Whisky with this mouth- watering introduction:
Large amounts of sugar are excreted on a daily basis by type-two diabetic patients especially amongst the upper end of our aging population. As a result of this, diabetic patients’ toilets often have unusual scale build up in the basin due and rapid mould growths as the sugar put into the system acts as nutrients for mould and bacteria growth. Is it plausible to suggest that we start utilizing our water purification systems in order to harvest the biological resources that our elderly already process in abundance?

In other words, if you're a connoisseur of fine whisky, here's a DESIGNER suggesting an exciting new brand to be made from the urine of elderly diabetic patients, including even his own grandmother.

Apparently, James - who is himself diabetic - filters the urine using the same processes used to purify water, removing the sugars in the process, which are then used in the fermentation stages of making his whisky. Now according to various reports found on the topic, James is NOT planning to market the pee whisky commercially - instead, it's more of an art project. But if you really fancy sampling some of the stuff, Gilpin will be showing it off at the 100% Materials design event in London in September - complete with tasting opportunities.

WOW ANYONE WANT TO SHARE A ROOM? I’m booking my tickets now!!

Be good and keep smiling, it’ll make everyone think you’ve been up to no good!!

It's Time to Get Things Started

An interview with Illustrator Amy ‘Mimi’ Mebberson

Part 1 of 2 (link to
Part 2)
Click on any image to largify

Something amazing happened at the end of the 1960’s. Now I apologise to all of you that reached the last months of this epic decade perhaps at an age above 6 and as such maybe have a slightly different take, but please bear with me. You see, until that time, the highlights of my life had been receiving my first collection of plastic dinosaurs (which drove me to not only be able to name them but also recite their Latin designations ... and of course employ them to attack and destroy all the Cowboy and Indian figurines which to that time had been my play-time staples); the moon landing that July that was SO COOL if for nothing else because I got to stay up late to watch it live (which drove me to want to be able to travel to the stars and back ... with my dinosaurs in tow, of course); and the shocking realisation a little over a year earlier that my parents were actually going to keep my new-born sister and not return her to the hospital (which drove me to so much anguish that I can’t even begin to describe it all here).

It was in mid- to late 1969 when quite a buzz was moving among the local parents and teachers. Even we wee ones were hearing that the evil device known as television was going to try something radical, something unheard of ... it was going to try and help kids learn in a non-commercial, even wholesome environment. This widely anticipated moment came then on November 10th, 1969. My family and I crowded around our 15” black and white TV to watch history unfold before our eyes, namely the premiere of none other than
Sesame Street. The show, of course, included an amazing combination of the great Jim Henson's Muppets, who not only had their own quirky ways but also interacted with real humans. It was for my 6-year old brain like a great lightning bolt from the heavens had charged into me and opened up a gateway to a new world!

Those first few shows were crammed full with animation, live shorts, as well as culturally relevant references galore. According to the modern fo(u)nt of knowledge,
Wikipedia: ‘It was the first pre-school educational television program to base its contents and production values on laboratory and formative research, and the first to include a curriculum "detailed or stated in terms of measurable outcomes".’ By its 40th anniversary in 2009, the phenomena that is Sesame Street had grown so that today it is broadcast in over 120 countries with an additional 20 independent international versions being also aired.

And more importantly to me, after that first show, the Muppets became my obsession. Though I understood somewhere deep inside that they weren’t ‘real’ living things, their humour, their ability to express themselves and the limitless variety of forms they came in caught hold of every fibre of my imagination.

My respect for the genre and especially the brilliance that Jim Henson and those that followed him shared with us all remains unshakeable through to today. I still find my eye automatically drawn to anything that was or is even in the most remote fashion influenced by these creations. I include here such examples as the amazing interactions of characters in movies such as ‘
The Dark Crystal’ and ‘Labyrinth’; or the wide range of ‘Star Wars’ creatures that owed their existence if not in total (Yoda) then in part to this method; or even ultimately so much of the stop-motion and CGI effects of today’s films, ranging from ‘Toy Story’ to even the more dark ‘9’ or even ‘Coraline’. And it is especially true when someone has the talent to bring such vibrant characters to life through illustration.

Amy Mebberson does just that. Amy – or ‘Mimi’ as she is often known as on-line – is an ultra-busy artist working on both Muppet and Pixar comics for BOOM! Studios. Even though BOOM! has not been on the scene that long, it is already gaining a very strong reputation in the market, putting together an impressive list of titles, with top-quality graphics and stories. Their commendable focus is ‘simply’ to bring back comics to kids, with stories written that seek to achieve the same targets as those started back in 1969, namely engage, enchant and enrich audiences’ lives. And if that weren’t enough, Amy is also very well-known in illustration circles and beyond for her expressive and spot-on style, which ranges from the sultry and sexy to the uniquely imaginative, often even with a strong nod to some of the greats of animation throughout the past decades.

We were very fortunate then to catch Amy between deadlines and the high demand on her regular appearances at comic-cons everywhere!


Hi Amy, welcome to the show (or is it Mimi ... and if yes, why Mimi? Just curious, my step-mom is also ‘Mimi’ but in her case it’s short for Marjorie).
My on-line name of Mimi goes back to my music study days, when I first joined the ‘net. ‘La Bohème’ is my favourite opera, so I borrowed the name of its rather fragile heroine, having sung a lot of it by then.

Speaking of journeys, can you describe how you came to focus on a career in illustration?
I have drawn about as long as I could hold a pencil. My mother has the picture I did when I was 21 months old to prove it.

Still, I never got a lot of encouragement to seriously pursue it as a child. I guess my parents figured I drew so insatiably that I needed no encouragement and I was managing just fine under my own steam (laughs).

In fact, during my last 2 years of high school and my first year of University, my career choices went from vet to animator to classical singer. I settled on classical singing and got my degree in music.

However, further study in London convinced me that an opera diva career wasn't for me and I went back to what I'd done all along, which was drawing. I returned to Sydney and spent five years at Disney's animation studio there, which I loved. After the studio was shut down in mid 2006, I relocated to the States with my husband and switched over to comics.

You mention in your on-line profile that you’re ‘just a Sydney girl living in Oregon, making a living drawing funny pictures. I want to be Charles Schulz or Brad Bird.’ Other than these gentlemen, who are / were your biggest inspirations, even from other walks of life in the arts (fine arts, not-so-fine arts, etc.)?
That's tough. I really don't have a list of people who have guided me to where I am in terms of inspiration.

I admire the greatness in anyone who has made a difference in the world, whether it's saving countless lives or just making people laugh. Jim Henson, Charles Schulz and Chuck Jones tend to be near the top for me because of the fortuitous circumstances that ALLOWED them to create their great bodies of work.

They had the charisma and talent and the right settings to keep their unique creative voice in spite of working for major corporations.
(ZN: for the ‘influence map’ illustrated here,
Amy says ‘The bigger areas are the real life-changers. The things that marked major milestones in my evolution as an artist. The smaller squares are influences most precious to me right now.’)

‘In spite of working for major corporations’? What do you mean by that?
I hate the divide and attitude that exists among artists, namely, that so many think that if you work for a company, you're a sell-out and that only by sweating blood for years on completely independent art is the only way to be a 'legitimate' artist. There are plenty of fantastic artists working in studio systems right now and the great ones know how to produce great work despite creative restrictions.

During my research, I very much enjoyed going through the nice collection of your ‘variant’ covers for several titles. However, I’m not quite up-to-speed on the concept of what a ‘variant’ cover is or why it’s done this way, especially when if I understand correctly, all of the versions are released simultaneously. Can you help a novice out, please?
A variant cover is simply a piece of cover art produced in limited quantities and often by commission from a single comic retailer. Sometimes a particularly high-profile artist might be commissioned to produce a variant.

They exist for their exclusivity and are aimed at comic collectors more than casual readers. The comic collector market is immense and publishers producing limited variants is standard practice for certain retailers, conventions etc.
(ZN: the examples provided here being ‘A’ and ‘B’ variants then for the same issues... neat!)

As you’ve just mentioned you obviously have an enormous amount of respect for the works of Chuck Jones and many others. But to be a bit – I don’t know – confrontational: since you are a lady of the female persuasion (huh?), did you have specific female artists that you respected or wanted to emulate growing up? Or otherwise put, did it ever discourage you that there has been a rather sparse selection over the past 50 to 60 years of female illustrators to choose from?
Absolutely not. I have never categorised myself as a female artist trying to make it in a historically male field. I am a cartoonist and I expect my work to be judged on equal terms to any other cartoonist, male or female.

I have never felt marginalised as an artist who happens to be female or encountered anything like a glass ceiling in my career. Okay, maybe that’s because I tackle my work never expecting to find one. But clearly, my gender does not define my work.

What you project in terms of confidence and artistic identity can sometimes have an impact on what kind of obstacles you might encounter.

What is your allure with the ‘pin-up’ as a subject (having
noted you ‘love Disney and (you) love pinups. Easiest math in the world.’)?
Like many artists, I find the female form pleasant to draw and aesthetically pleasing to look at. I would draw princesses when I was a little girl and I still draw them now, for fun.

I think sex and eroticism in mass media has really lost its sense of humour in many ways. If you look at mid-century burlesque dancers and strippers, sure a lot of the routines and costumes are cheesy and silly. But not only do these women still take their skills as entertainers VERY seriously, you can tell they are really having fun with it and at the same time, not taking it too seriously at all.

For me, there's such a palpable sense of fun in old school pinups and vintage Playboy cartoons and the like. There is a lot of comedy in sex and I see no reason why a sexy girl can't be also be a clown. I'd much rather see a real woman in pasties doing silly things with bananas than some Photoshopped, tanned model looking dull-eyed and surly.

It must be a nice break from the world of Kermit, Nemo and others when you draw these alluring pin-up pieces. But do you ever worry that doing the latter may in some way threaten your work with the former? Please bear with me here (I am originally from the ‘Bible Belt’), but I’m just wondering if there’s either concern that someone might complain to ‘management’ about the artist that’s drawing her little one’s comics is also posting some tasteful but still provocative pictures up somewhere else?
Oh not at all. Even in my pinup art, I never do anything that could be called pornographic.
A naked breast is about as risqué as I get and again, the context of the genre (vintage-style cheesecake) makes it pretty clear that my pinup art is all good clean fun and not lascivious or demeaning in any way.

Continued in
Part 2!!

It's Time to Get Things Started

An interview with Illustrator Amy ‘Mimi’ Mebberson

Part 2 of 2 (link to Part 1)
Click on any image to biggerize

Amy, while we’re on the subject of your pin-up work, I really enjoyed your
Disney selection that also got a lot of attention on the Internet recently (see more below... oh Edna, you naughty little minx!).

Are all of these characters really Disney based (that is, did I see King Kong in there, too)?

Also, I hope you find this to be a compliment – which I mean it to be – but your Cinderella from this set reminded me so much of the sexy girl from Tex Avery’s Droopy!! Classic!
Yes, they're all Disney canon characters.
The girl in the gorilla hand is Jane Porter from Disney's 'Tarzan'. And yes, my Cinderella is a deliberate nod to Tex Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood.

You mention that you have an interest in ephemera, where you seem to not only collect images but often include such stylings into your own sketches of characters, including those of actors from days gone by. Why the fascination with these retro views of life and other artefacts from the past (I love old ads myself!!)?
I'm interested in ephemera as a mirror of everyday life in the past. I especially go after cheap, disposable stuff like flyers, pamphlets and periodicals.

Old magazines made a business of covering topics relevant to society at the time and it's really fascinating to see how things were back then. Yes, old print ads present a very sanitised view of past eras, but they were simply using the life people aspired to as an alluring selling point. That's ‘Advertising 101’ to this day. Even something like an old Women's Home Journal provides endless information on what life was like for the average woman, just by looking at the sort of products and services the ads offer.

I also collect current ephemera, like promotional postcards, gift cards and business cards, to chronicle how graphic design changes over the years. Maybe they'll fascinate someone else fifty years from now.

I also wanted to ask you about your rather, um, clear stance on using your images. Perhaps I’m a bit sensitised as well to this subject (I’m reading a Jack Kirby biography and we know how much it STILL means to his family), but what is it like as someone who makes their living from images and really must post them to get exposure to have to try and then protect them at the same time?
It's a bit of a win-lose situation. There is really nothing to stop people stealing work, except the knowledge that the law is on your side. I have to post stuff to promote it and the nature of the Internet means that yes, it risks being ripped off.

I just have to keep trying to get famous enough that people won't TRY to pass my work off as their own. And use lots of watermarks!

You’ve worked in various media obviously but have recently done some terrific sketches using brown paper and often white pen. What attracted you to this wonderful albeit often more expensive type of 'canvas'?
I love my brown paper sketchbooks, even though they're hard to find. And yeah, they’re often expensive as well. But I like the dual freedom of not only using conventional shading but being able to highlight as well.

I have tons of different types of sketchbooks and pads lying around, from smooth Bristol to heavy water-colour, tinted Canson, Sumi-e paper, photocopy paper, newsprint, craft cardstock in pretty patterns and regular old black-bound sketchbooks.

But I usually end up coming back to the brown paper. I don't know why. I guess I'm just comfortable with it. Plus, character designer Nico Marlet and the guys in the LA Drink and Draw Social Club – who are all huge inspirations to me – use similar paper in their work.

I’ve got to know: after having lived and/or worked in Switzerland for 20 years, what pray tell is a ‘Swiss Army animator’? (I’m going to feel stupid here aren’t I?)
Swiss Army Knife = lots of tools and functions. As an assistant animator/in-betweener at Disney, I did a bit of everything.

I did animation, I did assistant animation, I did cleanup... I did then as well what I call the in-betweening work, adding special effects and tones, and even what we called ‘take 2 fixes’...

Who’s the ‘11’ guy that keeps showing up here and there in your collection? I get a serious ‘Chris Isaak’ or even ‘David Byrne’ vibe, but that happens relatively frequently anyway...
That would be Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor in the iconic BBC series 'Doctor Who'. He is awesome.

Also, I go from one description you give in your
FAQ section (I read it, I promise!!) about essentially trying not to come across as a bitch and then I have this mental image of what I always envisioned as the very calming activity of knitting. Seriously, knitting? Or when no one is looking, are you really practising your nunchuk skills?
No, I really do knit. I like making socks, gloves and scarves and sock yarn is my crack cocaine. I also do cross-stitch and play a lot of
Rock Band.

Plus, the dog ate the nunchuks.

Almost finally, I’ve got to know: what’s your favourite kind of beer?
If I am in a brew-pub I've never been to before, I usually aim for the IPA (ZN: =
Indian Pale Ale... I think... either that or it has something to do with the International Phonetic Alphabet). That and my love of barley-wine ales means I'm obviously a bit of a hop-head.

It took me a while to get used to ales, coming from a predominantly lager-loving nation, but I was helpless in the face of Oregon's countless microbrews.

Finally, a couple of ‘what if’ questions:

If you could get a hold of any project you could imagine, what would it be and why?
I would like to story-board or concept-art at one of the big animation studios, that would be a dream for me.. even if only for a little while on one movie.

I just love animation concept art and collect ‘Art Of...’ books obsessively. Most of the artists currently working that I actively fangirl are the animation artists -
Chris Sanders, Nico Marlet, Nate Wragg, Lou Romano, Stephen Silver, Shane Prigmore, Joe Bluhm.

So I'm steadily honing my writing and storytelling skills with my comic work and I hope some day I might be able to use it in animation pre-production.

You’ve just won the Super California Lottery, and you’re richer than Bill Gates. What becomes of your illustration career and why?
I would dedicate my time to producing art-books and self-publishing, I think. I have a massive laundry list of all the art things I'd like to do but never have the time.
(ZN: shown here is Amy’s first published sketchbook ‘
On Air)

What is a super cool fact about yourself that you would like to (or can) share without getting arrested, beat up in a dark alley or even worse, being forced to vote for Sarah Palin in 2012?
I have perfect pitch, can cut keys and have an entire brain lobe dedicated to huge slabs of memorised British comedy.

However, in the interests of my own personal safety, I refrain from reciting Monty Python in public places.


As Amy recently pointed out on
her blog: ‘My artistic epiphany took place when I saw Belle dancing with the Beast in that ballroom. I'd always loved Disney, but THAT'S when I knew I wanted to be a Disney artist. Muppet Babies and Sailor Moon each inspired several years worth of artsy bollocking around in my younger years. I drew Jill Barklem-esque mice constantly when I was 11. I still have the sketchbooks (eek).’

Well, obviously she’s come a long way since then! A former animation artist for Disney and
LAIKA, she has also paid her artistic dues with 2 graphic novels for Tokyopop, not to mention her own list of releases, including the latest collection of her sketches, ‘Stacked’, which we can only assume is a set of pictures depicting books neatly piled on top of each other.

Amy was born as many Australians are that are from the same region in Sydney and currently resides in Portland, Oregon – or as she affectionately says the ‘Home of the Weird.’ Her work with
BOOM! Entertainment ranges from work in the present or the past on such titles as Monsters, Inc., The Muppet Show Comic Book and other BOOM! titles. She has also drawn, created/co-created and produced her own web-comics including Thorn (2007-2009) and As If! (2001-2004). To try and list a selection of her biggest fans ‘out there’ would take a while, but ZN can highly recommend these interviews, including one from a really true-blue Muppet fan found here as well as a good overview by Disney Comics Worldwide.

More of Amy’s fantastic plethora of art and words of whimsy can be found at her
website, her blog, and on both Twitter and Flickr. You can also check out many more of her illustrations at either her deviantART page or at the GirlsDrawinGirls site (updates pending) and much more!!


All pictures, videos and other media are used with written permission of Amy Mebberson or are available in the public domain (noting copyright and other restrictions, accordingly). No further reproduction or duplication is permitted without contacting the artist directly.

Some pictures have been modified slightly or combined only for the purpose of space limitations. And we’re serious about copying. She will find you and stab you repeatedly with her knitting needles if you mess around.

After all, one doesn’t draw Miss Piggy over the years without picking up a little attitude ... and quite possibly some kick-ass karate skills as well...

August 15, 2010

Hi Kids, Welcome to General Hospitalization!

A 'Fresh Ziggy' Introduction to this week's offers!

Actually, no, hospitals are one subject that I do NOT want to talk about. Not at all, full stop, end of sentence, waiter can I please have the check!!

I don’t know about you folks, but I am sick of being sick, having friends who are sick and just in general am getting really testy about this whole having to be ‘mortal’ thing! I mean, what’s up with that and who signed off on it anyway?

But I tell you, I’m starting to suspect that whole ‘eat well, get plenty of exercise and rest’ advice... it just seems the more I follow ‘doctor’s orders’, the worse I feel!!!
Bah, I think I’ll just hang out on Facebook 24/7 and be done with it!!


So instead of talking about that – which I wasn’t – what I’d really rather talk about is this week’s guest of honor! I am very pleased to bring you the following interesting interview presented as:

Hey You There! Donkey Wonky Do!
An Interview with Illustrator and Graphic Designer Vince Chui

Now concerning the title, well, you’re just going to have to read the article to get in on that little inside joke. And besides, you’ll want to enjoy Vince’s input about his young but already successful work in the illustration and graphic arts business, which also includes work in the movie and video game industries! We really hope you enjoy all he has to say and offer!!


And as usual, we now move on to this week’s ‘Shout Out’s’:


Our first ‘Shout Out’ isn’t in fact so much of a shout out as a ‘oh man, I so wish I could have been there!’ A longer title, yes, but much more accurate in this case!!

It’s just our way of giving a big nod to a previous interviewee here at ZN, namely the very talented and timeless Robert T. Cole. You see, Robert is not only a master sculptor, but also performs with his poetic and beautiful wife Susan and their pal Scott Burgess in the band ‘Blue Judy’, where the recently appeared at the ‘Capital Fringe Festival’ in Washington D.C. All I know is, if you’re ever in DC and get tired of all those boring ‘monuments’ (yaaawwwnnn), then for sure stop by and check out the Cole’s and their magical studio or collected works!

To read more about Robert, see
his interview here.


The second of this week’s trio of ‘Shout Out’s’ goes to the talented and very busy Shaenon K. Garrity.

Shaenon recently kindly let us know that in honor of the 60th anniversary of the absolutely timeless and always relevant Peanuts comic strip, that the Schulz Museum is hosting a big sketch-a-thon featuring its past artists in residence, including Lark Pien, Debbie Huey, Paul Madonna, Alexis Fajardo, Brian Fies, Mick Gray, Brian Kolm, Michael Capozzola ... and Shaenon, too!

Cartoonists will speak with visitors, share their work, and draw something for the Schulz Museum’s collection celebrating the 60th anniversary of Peanuts. For more information, do not hesitate to visit Shaenon at one of her various sites or the Schulz Museum itself at .

To read the previous interview with Shaenon – who is for those that don’t know a master of both manga and also on-line comic creation – please see
this link.


And finally, we here at HQ would just like to ‘Shout Out’ a HUGE thank you to all who sent in their kind comments about our last interview, namely with the one and only Julius ‘Bulius’ Santiago. So many of you were kind enough to mention his work and how much fun it is to also follow his ‘King Panpan ‘365 Bears’’ project!! He really is a fun artist!

But what’s that? You haven’t signed up yet or even sent in your favorite suggestions for a future bear? Then you’ve been missing a daily dose of hilarious teddyish conversions of some of your favorite people or even fantasy creatures. Not only that, but Julius has also been offering his faithful public download-able wallpapers and more! And if that weren’t enough, if you aren’t a daily follower then you missed none other than Spiderbear, Mebearsa with her (his?) scary snake hair and even this masterpiece namely:

Bear on a Unicorn on a Shark Rainbow in front of a Regular Rainbow!!

Need we say more? Folks, this just might be THE artistic event of the new millenium. Because we sure as heck aren't voting for Lady Gaga ...

So follow Julius and if you missed it, be sure and check out
his interview here. Aloha!!



And now for a heroic close-out, we’re going to put a new section in, namely our Favorite Design Photo of the Week. So here it is:

Aren’t they just so ... oh, I don’t know ... just so worthy of having a huge government grant given to the designer to develop them further? They’re just so simple and yet so stylish!

In addition, you can’t argue with their eco-friendliness or recyclability, roominess and suitability in all kinds of weather!! And I’d be willing to bet that (a) one size fits all and that (b) they’re a lot less damaging to your feet than some of those monstrous creations we see on the fashion walkways!!

OK they’re maybe not Birkenstocks (and I doubt the Adidas logo is authentic as well), but who the hell wear’s those anyway?

Oh you do? Sorry... just please promise me not with white socks, okay? I mean... that image just makes me feel sick to my stomach ... oh damn, I did it again ...

Be good and enjoy this week’s offer!! Ciao for now brown cows!!

Hey You There! Donkey Wonky Do!

An Interview with Illustrator and Graphic Designer Vince Chui

Part 1 of 2 (link to Part 2)
Click any image to gigantify

I first came across
Vince Chui’s work owing to his participation in the consortium of cool characterizationizers known as the Sketch Motel Illustrators, whose inputs I follow fanatically via Facebook. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are LOTS of talented artists in this group, including one of my all-time favorites in the guise of Charlene Chua. But somehow, as I began to dig deeper into Vince’s work, well, I literally began hearing voices.

No, nothing morbid like ‘I hear dead people’ or anything that would make you say ‘keep the women and children away from that fellow’ – nor as many of you suspect did it have anything to do with prescription medication. It’s hard to explain; but the voices were the same that I used to hear the better part of three – yikes, now going on four – decades ago. You know, those same ‘you cannot resist me’ voices that I HAD to listen to, despite my mom’s threats of grounding me to my room until I was, quote, ‘retired and in a wheelchair!’ You know, the kind of voices that would say: ‘aw, the heck with homework, let’s grab our skateboards and head to the park’. The same voices that would speak to me every Saturday morning about how they would love to get truly marooned in the ‘Land of the Lost’ or get to see the gods up close as they conducted an amazing cosmic smack-down, which I would referee mind you. And of course, the same voices that even to this day say: ANYTHING to do with robots is automatically cool.

And so it was with this accompanying inner dialogue that I began my research into Vince’s work. It was a fascinating look into what includes not only a range of freelance and amazingly detailed pieces from his offers as a professional graphic artist, but also a wide selection from the worlds of moviedom and video games. I mean, is this like the ultimate pre-/post-pubescent boy’s dream or what? Hang on, let me put on my old AC/DC tee-shirt (barely threads by now), their Greatest Hits CD and we’ll continue. Ah, there... and so, even though it is much more difficult to type while I slam my head back and forth, it is with great pleasure to bring you the very cool art of Vince Chui!


Hi Vince, welcome! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Ha ha, right off the bat, the first question is probably the hardest one for me to answer!

Well, I’ve always thought of myself as a little bit quirky and a bit goofy. That’s probably a really general statement, but who doesn’t have a little bit of that in themselves? Hm, this is a tough question. It’s just usually I find that asking someone who knows another person best can give a better representation of how that person is and what they’re like. Same with me!

So after saying that, I think there’s GOT to be a better person out there that can answer that question much more accurately than I could. (Phew, dodged that, didn’t I!!)

I absolutely love the name that you use on-line, but I am curious: why did you pick the moniker ‘kidchuckle’?
That’s also a funny story! It’s a name that I’ve used for ages and it’s kind of stuck with me.

It originated way back when I signed up for all the different social networks, some of which required an alias when you joined. The ‘kid’ part is easy: that comes from me just being a big kid at heart, and ‘chuckle’ is just part of my personality. I’m a bit of a joker: if I’m not laughing, I’m trying to make someone else laugh.

Even back in college, some of my classmates used to call me ‘Chuck’ for short, instead of Kidchuckle. Although when I stop and think about it now, it really hasn’t aged that well with me in terms of how I am today. I mean, it’s true most of the time, except when it comes to work ... and then I’m a classic worry-wart. But it still retains some of the spirit that is me (and it’s a bit easier to remember how to spell than other options, too!).

Why we’re on the topic of kids, what made you decide to become a graphic artist / designer / illustrator? How did you get to the point where you are today in terms of expertise, education and more?
I think as far as back as I can remember, I’ve always been fond of drawing. That plus the fact that my imagination was fuelled at an early age by cartoons and comics. Even as a kid, my cousins had shelves full of comics that I would look through even before I could read.

In terms of my ‘formal’ education, I went to the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD for short) for Illustration. Then I did a post-graduate at Sheridan College for computer animation. Soon after that I went to work in the video game industry.

I started interning at Pseudo Interactive and then got a full-time position mostly doing the texturing for 3D models and some concept art on the side. It was a small company so it allowed me to bounce around and experience a lot with the different tasks they had me doing. As the company grew, I was allowed to focus more on concept art.

It was a really good 6-year run for me. Sadly though, after the economy turned for the worse, the company folded. After that I decided to go freelance and just allowed myself to explore and try out different things in the world of illustration.

Your career seems to have focused in large part on illustration, concept artwork, and character design. What are the differences in these ‘fields’ for you, both from ultimately ‘putting ideas on paper’ and also from a creative perspective?
From a creative standpoint, I think that particularly for concept art, there’s a few more concerns to keep in mind in terms of spatial relationships and even scale. For example, with video games, you may have to work closely with level designers to get it all right and to make sure everything all fits together.

I guess to put it in more perspective: as a concept artist you tend to be working as part of a team, that is, with other visual artists and other collaborators. After you finish a piece of art, you have to ensure that when you hand it off, there’s enough information there for another artist to work with it. The person ‘following’ you has to be able to elaborate from that visual on where to go with it; for example, if you’re giving it to a 3D modeller or texture artist, they have to be able to run with it right away. The images and work you work on have to evolve as much as the ideas and the story of a game do.

On the other hand, with character design, I find there are very few restrictions. In this case, most clients usually have a rough idea of what they want. Still, they usually want you to just enjoy it and search for something yourself to add to their own original ideas. I mean, they may have some general restrictions, like if they want you to avoid being too ‘cartoony’ or even too realistic, or if they want you to keep it somewhere in the middle of these extremes. But most of them are open to new ideas.

The main concerns in this area arise after you’ve completed that part. It’s at this point that you then have to figure out the scale in terms of a particular character’s relationship with the world around them and, of course, other characters. In addition, you really have to be able to make a character express a feeling through body language or color proportions.

Comparing all that to illustration itself, well, my experience is that you tend to be more focused on delivering a message or feeling with illustration – but in the shortest time possible. This is another important factor: namely, just the basic amount of time that is ‘allotted’ to you to create things. The turnaround times for illustration can be quite demanding, even if you only are focusing on a few illustrations. This compares to the work with video games, where you typically have a bit more time to let ideas and the overall visualization germinate. But then again, you usually have to deal with a greater volume of work as well.

Despite all the differences, I enjoy the varied aspects of each of these areas. It’s challenging ... and the experiences I’ve had have been quite unique to their own world.

I was watching recently one of my favorite illustrated videos, namely the ‘
Hellboy Animated’ DVD (not shown here mind you). In the extras section, there were some interesting questions posed for the artist that worked on these, Sean ‘Cheeks’ Galloway, who was charged with bringing Mike Mignola’s fantastic character into the new ‘non-graphic novel’ format.

Besides just finding his style amazing, they discussed that originally ‘Cheeks’ was hired as a lead character designer, which involved turn-arounds (360° views of heads, bodies, etc.), coloration under different lighting and more. But eventually they found that his skills were more geared towards working on the project as the lead conceptual artist.

Now after that somewhat long introduction, what I want to ask is: In your own experience, where have you found yourself working most, that is more character or conceptual work? Do you have a preference for one approach or the other in that regard? Also, do you think there’s that much difference between the two, or is it even project dependent?

Okay, first of all I want to say that I think both Cheeks’ and Mignola’s work is AWESOME. I just had to get out of the way before I answered your other questions!

Now coming back to your question: I think that most of my projects I’ve been involved with were made up of equal amounts of concept backgrounds and character work. I can’t say there’s been too many projects I’ve worked on that were strictly character based. Although I do enjoy characters a lot more, again I think character design tends to be strongest when you present them within an environment in which they can appear to be ‘at home’.

It’s just that emotional content, body language, structure and story are all so integral to the process of character design. It’s what ultimately makes the characters come alive. There’s a lot to be said about perceived personality, that is, what we’re assuming from sight alone. I think it’s in our nature to pick up these things consciously or subconsciously.

A subtle example would be if a man points with his glasses in his hand while he talks. You can get make assumption how his eyesight is (you can tell his eyesight isn’t too poor and only needs to wear it occasionally). Another example would be choosing to have the last button on someone’s shirt unbuttoned: this can speak volumes about a character in the right context (is it unbuttoned at a formal event, or at the beach? Does this give us a hint if that character is ‘proper’ or more of an easy-going type or even rule breaker?). Is your character slouched, or do they hold their back straight? Hands stiff at their sides, or do they look more relaxed, you know, maybe with their hands in the pockets? So all aspects of the design come into play here.

For environment concepts, you almost want to express things differently. Yes you still have structure, spacing, scale and story attached with the environment. You can also have emotional content, too, but that’s almost artificially applied to it. Environment is an inanimate object, but I think as people we want to attach emotions to it as well.

With that in mind as well, what kind of work have you done for movies? For example, I’ve ‘survived’ both ‘
The Love Guru’ and ‘Land of the Lost’. Now, if I can manage to somehow bear to watch those DVD’s again, where will I see your work and/or influences on display?
‘Survived’! Ha ha ha!!

For ‘The Love Guru’: well, I didn’t really work that much on the film itself, though I thoroughly enjoyed the experience working on set. I think I only worked on that project for 2 weeks. I was there working primarily for the make-up department, helping them with Photoshop mock-ups.

However, I did get to hang out in the art department with my friend
Sanford Kong who worked on the big bulk of the concept pieces during the time I was there. There were only a few moments where I had some down time from my main tasks, but even then I got to do some small things for the art department. So I wound up able to do that mock storefront of the Cinnabon store front.

On another note, I sheepishly met Jessica Alba for a very brief moment. End of story.

For ‘Land of the Lost’, I worked on the illustration for the
end credits (note that you can also find input from the director on the project, Jeremy Dimmock, at this link). There were a lot of people involved from Direction, the Producers and the animators from the main part of the film.

We had to work on the credits based of the script plus only a few of the images from the film ... and that was it! To be honest, I still haven’t gotten around to watching the movie.

(ZN: thank the gods, we still have a chance to save his immortal soul!!)

Continued in Part 2!