Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Happy Birthday to my big brother Scott!

My brother Scott used to draw a lot when we were kids. My sister MaryKate did too when she was little. My Dad would draw and paint a lot, so he'd give us art lessons. He would also have us pose for paintings sometimes. Over time, my brother and sister just outgrew it I guess.

I'm not sure why I kept with it. My Dad said I kept drawing because my lazy eye made me too uncoordinated for sports. Maybe so. Nonetheless, when my brother was young, he would draw a cartoon character named "Odd Todd", who was a cross-eyed dude wearing a Jeff cap. He also LOVED Bill Watterson's "Calvin & Hobbes" (one of my all-time favorite comic strips to this day). So for his birthday this year, I drew him a picture of Calvin & Hobbes, trying best I could to emulate Watterson's loose, brushy ink style. I made some minor adjustments - putting my brother's hat and freckles on Calvin and my glasses, hat and beard on Hobbes.

Even when Scott stopped drawing, I remember he bought me the book "How to Draw Comics - The Marvel Way" one year for Christmas, which was a catalyst for my obsession with drawing cartoons and comics. So thanks, big brother. You're a great father, husband, son and brother. Happy 36th birthday, old tymer! Many more to come!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sketches of Fishtown # 87 - Music Fountain Cafe

As many folks know, I am touchy about the subject of gentrification in the neighborhood to say the least. However, I have to give Bob Murphy credit for having faith in this neighborhood long before the real estate boom. I hope more unique, small, family friendly businesses like this open up in Fishtown.

Once again, I've used my niece Erin as a model for one of these issues. This is, however, the first time I used my niece and Goddaughter Kacey. I never used her before because my brother's family moved outside the neighborhood years ago, and she hasn't been around as much these past few years. But Kace has been spending a lot more time with us lately and hangs out a lot with her cousin on the weekends. So we're very happy to have her back in the neighborhood.

Also, I want to give a heads up to Brian Potash over at DevilFish Ink, who designed the Music Fountain Cafe logo pictured here. Brian is a great designer and has his hands in all kinds of art and music. I'm glad to have him as a buddy and a resource to consult with.

Also, Roger Petersen, a close buddy and artist capable of just about any artistic feat, was hired to paint the logo on the wall in the parlor.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sketches of Fishtown Books on Sale for Holidays....

I hope everyone had an awesome Thanksgiving. Standing on the sidelines for this year's North Catholic TurkeyBowl made for an unbelievably amazing holiday for me.

I was taking inventory of the Sketches of Fishtown books I still have. There are still a few hundred left. I am hoping to get rid of what I have left before a Volume II book comes out next year. If anyone is interested in grabbing a "Sketches of Fishtown Vol. I" book as a stocking stuffer, let me know. If you get them directly from me, I'm cutting the price down to $4. Or I will sell 3 books for $10. If interested, e-mail me: or just send me a private message on here.

Anyways, I hope everyone has an amazing Christmas season! Thanks.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sketches of Fishtown # 84

I apologize for not getting this in the paper or on the blog before Veteran's Day. last week I was doing my quarterly grades for N.C., and I really didn't want to rush the drawings on this one. Special thanks goes to Janis Roxberry, Patty Roxberry, Bob Edinger, and Sharon Seamans for providing me with the information and photos to reference for this one. I hope I did an okay job. I am so proud of these guys and what they have done and continue to do. I am very grateful and privileged to have grown up with them.

The type might be a little small. To view it larger, please click on the photo above.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sketches of Fishtown # 83 - Wes Mattheu & the New Way Down

I've heard this band live several times. Being a fan of a mixed bag of music, I really like their stuff. It has a great old tymie country feel, but they also hoot and holler with a lot of energy.

I see Wes around the neighborhood all the time. We bump into each other a lot at Murph's Bar (202 E, Girard Ave. in Fishtown). Wes is a good guy with a big heart and a genuine love for songwriting and all kinds of music. Making this issue was a bit of a marathon. I took the photo reference last night, then worked on the pencils while watching Game 5 of the World Series. I continued to the inks until about 3 AM, then got up and finished the piece at 8AM for an 11AM deadline for the Spirit. The original drawing was done on 11" x 14" bristol board using a Kuretake brush pen and microns. Because we wanted to get this one out to promote Friday's show, I had to get it in the paper this week. I'm glad I did. It was a nice little challenge for the beginning of my week. Whew!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sketches of Fishtown # 82 (with help from Erin Crowley)

Thanks to my little niece Erin (I sometimes call her "E-Bomb") for writing the words for this week's issue. Erin is also becoming a really great artist in her own rite. I can't wait to see how her work grows over time. She is so smart and creative!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Philadelphia Cartoonist Society Pictionary - Next Monday 10/26/09

The Philadelphia Cartoonist Society will be holding their monthly PICTIONARY night on Monday, October 26, 2009 at Bob & Barbara's Lounge (1509 South Street in Philly) starting about 9:30 PM. 

Teams of 3 or 4 will sign up and play each other all night in a one and done tournament. The winner of every round gets a special (Can of PBR and a shot of Jim Beam) for each member of their team. The team left standing at the end of the night gets to play against members of the Philadelphia Cartoonist Society. If, by some miracle, your team beats the PCS, you'll receive yet another round of specials and a prize pack to split up amongst your team.

Generally, I host the tournament each month as an impartial judge. This month, I'm stepping down from judging so I can have some fun and play on the PCS team at the end of the night. So folks coming to play better come strong.  I act like a nice fella, but you don't want to be on the other side of the Pictionary board from me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sketches of Fishtown # 81

Special thanks to my brother Scott for the quote this week.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cow Parade Figurine

Recently, I decorated a replica of the "Cow Parade" statues from Chicago for a friend's gal's birthday present. It was one of the most challenging surfaces I ever had to draw on, given the contour of the surface and the fact that the ink never really dried until I sealed it. Aside from a tiny bit of paint, the entire job was done with colored Micron pens. My friend's lady is a teacher. So we decided to have one side of the cow have a theme of school and the other side have a theme of summer. I am glad I took on a little project like this. It reminds me that sometimes big challenges come in small jobs. All in all, it was a really fun project. My buddy asked me to sign the piece with the pen name, "Jeff Cowpatrick".

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


A few years back, I did these "Jam" drawings with my cousin Sean (sticker artist Mr. G). Sean is one of my favorite people to work alongside. He is all heart, and he has a confident hand. The guy can throw some ink. It's been a while since I've seen these. I found them saved in a folder from my Dad's old computer. I forget sometimes how playful you can be with cartoons. Some days, I get too roped into structure and purpose. It's not only fun, but integral to the craft, to unwind sometimes and aimlessly follow your line until you fill a page. It's good exercise and it brings me back to the joy of drawing from when I was a kid - that age of discovery before I got locked into any style.

With these drawings, I used just a 01 Micron Pen. No pencil or even idea of what I was going to draw. I was just following my line and filling up space as I went. I built my drawings in response to the heads he drew on sticker paper. The colored piece has a layer of soft spray paint underneath. When I do things like this, mixing art and family, it really makes me feel like life is swell.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sketches of Fishtown # 79 and 80

Brendan and Leigh are good folks. I'm glad to see their business doing well.
This drawing of the shack I did without using any pencils. In order to show the "chewed-up" look of the structure, I wanted a more shaky line quality. Drawing the weeds took a really long time. Luckily, I drank four cups of coffee while drawing, so that helped fuel all that Micron 01 scumbled line work. I'd love some more information about this little place if anyone knows anything about it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sendak Tribute Envelope, October 2009

Anybody who's ever spoken to me knows what a big influence Maurice Sendak has on my work. Ever since my Dad read "Where the Wild Things Are" to me as a boy, I've been mesmerized by Sendak's work. We are very lucky to have the Rosenbach Museum here in Philly, because they always have something of Sendak's on display.

Sendak's work has a perfect blend of the joys and fears of childhood. His line work is calculated but also playful. I know a lot of people are skeptical about Spike Jonez' film adaptation of "Where the Wild Things Are" coming out next week, but I am very hopeful. So far, all of the music videos Jonez directed have been visually brilliant. Also, "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation" were two films that were catered perfectly to my taste.

So this week's envelope for Joannie was a tribute to Sendak's book that carried such a profound influence on my work. It's a blatant ripoff, but I had fun drawing it. I rip Sendak off a lot. Joannie is going with me next week to take my neice to the film.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Creature Double Feature Show - Nov. 2, 2009

I know there has been a lot of Frankenstein happening lately on here. I just finished this piece for the Philadelphia Cartoonist Society's "Creature Double Feature" group show on Friday. Nov. 2, 2009 at Brave New Worlds Comics (45 North 2nd Street in Olde City Philadelphia).
I wanted this piece to be kind of a bookend to the piece I did for this week's upcoming "Dia de los Muertos" show for the Autimn Society at Proximity Gallery (2434 E. Dauphin Street in Fishtown). The sizes of the images are the same (11" x 14"). Also, both images were done with ink and marker on drawing paper. Both images are themed around the Hoagy Carmichael song, "The Nearness of You". It's become one of my favorite songs lately. Hope to see some folks at both shows.

Monday, September 28, 2009

'Tis the Season!

Welcome, Autumn! Love this time of year! Love Halloween!
An envelope I drew last week for my gal...

Saturday, September 26, 2009


This is one of my favorite portraits that I ever did. I drew it in pencil on bristol, then inked most of it with a Kuretake brush pen. The blue lines were done with a colored Micron pen.

It's of two brothers named Aaron & Brandon. I referenced a photo from when they were just young'ns. They are a lot older now. When I drew this, it really reminded me of being that age and how close I was with my brother and sister during our childhood. I know I wasn't always a great brother to them. I was a middle child, and I complained a lot. But they always looked out for me. I don't know what I'd do or where I'd be without my family. I can't imagine my life without them.

Another reason this was one of my favorites is because these are Joannie's boys. I hadn't met them yet, so drawing this portrait was my informal introduction to her kids. This was a birthday present for her sister, Jan (who is also one of my favorite people). Joannie picked out the frame. She was very adamant about making this frame, because she knows Jan's taste so well. I was touched when we gave Jan the picture, because she got choked up. Jan is one of the toughest gals I've ever met, but she is also a very strong-hearted person. Jan rules.

It's nice to do work sometimes that really has meaning and effect on someone. It makes me feel like I'm not wasting my time with this "art" thing.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Jim Henson's Fantastic World Exhibit...

Last weekend, I got out of town with my gal for my birthday. We stayed at a really cool horse farm in Dublin, PA. As part of my birthday present, Joannie also bought tickets to the Michener Museum's exhibit, "Jim Henson's Fantastic World". It was a bullseye of a gift. Henson is a lifetime hero of mine. When I say that, I am not only referring to the work he's done, but his reasoning behind it as well. I believe that even though he seemed to be a perfectionist, his main objective was to make people happy and spread joy in this world. I once saw a televised interview where Henson was talking about the purpose of his work. He quoted a French writer named Antione de Saint-Exupery, "We do not inherit the Earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children." Hearing that as a young man, I was struck by the potential that human beings can have on one another. Teaching and cartooning, I still try to keep that quote in mind in my daily work.

If I were to carve out my version of Mount Rushmore, Jim Henson would definitely be one of the faces.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Autumn!

I know it isn't official yet, but today is the first day where it feels that Fall is kicking into gear. This is some great weather for sleeping, walking along the river, and sitting on the front step. When I was a kid, I was notorious for jumping around and burying myself in piles of leaves in the street.
I was a real dirtball when I was young.

Here is a quick ink and marker drawing I did for the changing
of the seasons...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

BBQing with Scottish Artist David Galletly

My friend and fellow artist Concetta had some esteemed guests in town this week, Scottish artist David Galletly and his lady, Alex. We were lucky enough to have our schedules line up to throw together a small, impromptu BBQ last night in Fishtown. It was  a great night. We talked about art, music, healthcare and sharks. There seemed to be a lot of shark conversation going on for some reason.  I'm not sure if it's because I've been getting Shark Week DVDs from Netflix, or because Alex is frightened and fascinated by sharks.  Nonetheless, it was a great night.  My buddy Digby came over. We had some decent hamburgers, corn and slow cooked collards. 

I bought this "Juggler" piece from Dave with my government stimulus money a while back.

Dave and his lady, Alex

"Live EVERY WEEK like it's SHARK WEEK!" - Tracey Jordan

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Final Draft - DIA DE LOS MUERTOS ART SHOW - OCT. 2, 2009

Here is the final version of my piece for the Autumn Society of Philadelphia's upcoming show at Proximity Gallery in Fishtown: "Die De Los Muertos" (Mexican Day of the Dead). I took off work, so I will be at the show hanging out.

Had a decent morning chugging coffee on my back deck and finishing this piece. I tried to keep the background colors bright and playful. I've never been to Mexico, but when I was in college, I used to shop at Eyes Art on South Street, where they had a lot of Mexican Day of the Dead art for sale.

Lately, I've been listening to a lot of Hoagy Carmichael songs, and I recently received a book on his life and music for my birthday. The song "The Nearness of You" has been striking a chord, so I have been using it in some of the "romance" themed pieces I've been doing. My favorite version of the song is by Keith Richards. He sings off key, like Hoagy, but more sullen. While drawing this piece, I made a playlist that hade several versions of that song mixed in with an album called, "Mexico: The Real Mexico In Music And Song".

Special thanks to Aaron Luis Levinson and Katie Hill for helping me with the translation. They both agreed this is the best we can do in context and dialect for translating the song title.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Day of the Dead Art - First Draft

The Autumn Society of Philadelphia will be holding it's final show of the year, "DIA DE LOS MUERTOS" at PROXIMITY GALLERY (2434 East Dauphin Street in Fishtown) on October 2, 2009 at 6 PM. The show will consist of 40+ pieces of art, each interpreting "Dia de los Muertos" (Day of the Dead) in their own unique way.

Here is a photo of my first draft. It's all done with a Kuretake Brush Pen and markers. There isn't a background on it yet, but it will be done very soon. If anyone has suggestions on the background, I'd love to hear feedback.

Blue Moon...

Here is a piece I drew while sitting in Memphis Taproom back in 2008:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bunch of Baboons comics story, "GREETINGS"

A few years back, a handful of Philadelphia Cartoonist Society members and myself chipped in our money and work and made a small anthology called "Bunch of Baboons" for "Free Comic Book Day", and annual event where comic stores across the country, well, give away free comic books.

We published our book under Rich Marcej's Baboon Books label. Mine was based on a project I was working on at the time with cartoonist Scott Derby. We were supposed to put out a book called "Wonderful", but it never came together like it should have. The Bunch of Baboons book, however, got a great response, considering we were in independent publishing house. We moved 11,000 of these books to our surprise.

My story sets the scene for a neighborhood based on my own neighborhood, Fishtown. At this time, we were in the very early stages of being gentrified. I was very skeptical of change at the time, but I think I'm adapting okay. As I look back at this work, I really wish I would have hand-lettered the story. I believe it adds more life and character to comics. Regardless, here is the short comic story entitled "GREETINGS"...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sketches of Fishtown # 78 - Aaron Luis Levinson

My main man, Aaron...

Mail Art for Joannie...

Over the summer, I started seeing an amazing gal named Joannie. She is a sister of an old friend, an unbelievably great mother, and one of the strongest women I've ever met in my life. At first, I thought Joannie was going to stay a platonic friend, because I had my mind made up to spend some time alone for a while. But that didn't last. If you ever met Joannie, you'd understand why. She's that awesome.

Unlike myself, Joannie is not an artist, but she does seem to genuinely appreciate my work. So aside from the work I do for freelance and the local paper and my two jobs, I have been trying to make as much work for Joannie as possible. Every week, during breakfasts, lunch breaks, etc, I make and send her mail art to let her know I'm thinking of her. Mostly, they are just small envelopes drawn with ink and marker and colored pencil.

I don't think that any of my work is earth-shattering or groundbreaking in any way. I know that it's only cartoons. But in the past, I've had a hard time balancing the work that I do with the rest of my life. Making cartoons, as mundane as it may be, is a huge part of who I am. But I shouldn't let it get in the way of living a balanced life. It's taken me almost 34 years to find that out.