Miscellaneous

CryptoZoic Collectable Update

Today Rob from somewhere out in internet land told me he had just purchased the Cryptozoic Batmobile Collectable and asked if there was any place he could buy the artwork I did for it, so I loaded it up on my ImageKind Shop for him. Click HERE to go to my ImageKind Shop.

That reminded me that Valerie from some other place out in internet land had asked me back in January where she could buy the collectable. I wasn’t sure at that time, but they are now available on Amazon and probably at various higher end comic book shops nationwide. Click HERE to see it on Amazon.

And now story time (some of the facts in my story might be wrong because I’m telling it from memory) Way back in the olden days (1950’s-60’s?) a toy company in the U.S. was buying a batch of tin Batmobile toy cars from a Japanese manufacturer. The folks in Japan had no idea what a Batman was or what any of the Batman stuff looked like and in the process of creating the car they accidentally switched the trim color (red) with the car color (black). Imagine the U.S. toy companies surprise when they opened their crates of Batmobiles and they were all red! It was a mistake, but hey, they looked pretty cool, that’s what they had, so they sold them as best they could. Today those old red tin-toy Batmobile mistakes are highly sought after collectables. In tribute to that history, Cryptozoic produced a limited edition of Red Batmobiles. They also made a BLUE variant which is my personal favorite.

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1966 Batmobile Collectable Statue

This was a fun project I worked on a few months ago. The good folks at Cryptozoic saw a picture I did of my very first car (a 1970 Opel Kadette) and asked me to do the same sort of thing with the old 1966 Batmobile from the Batman TV Series. I worked up a sketch with some quick color on it, DC Comics approved the concept, I did pencil views from different angles and a sculptor digitally created my idea and really took it to a whole different level… look at those flames and smoke… WOW! A prototype was built and shown at the latest New York Toy Fair and WonderCon and this should hit the market and be available later on this year.

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Silver Dollar City Coloring Books

My very first professional jobs were for Silver Dollar City, a theme park in the Missouri Ozarks. I did three different park maps, coloring books, activity books and miscellaneous other illustrations for various products. For some reason, this weekend I was thinking about those old SDC coloring books. It would be really fun to have another crack at those things. I’m not a big fan of hard line coloring book art, but what if a coloring book could be created with tonal art? I had some spare time, so I whipped up a sample to see what that might look like. You can see what I came up with below, right next to my old original coloring book page…

…HEY… I was straight outa college when I did that! QUIT LAUGHING AT ME!

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2nd Annual Walk Into My Future Day

I woke up on Wednesday… deja vu… and found myself once again standing in front of small groups of children showing them how they, too… can draw goofy pictures… just like me. It was the second annual Walk Into My Future Day at Huntington University. Here are a few of my exceptionally talented art students and some of the amazing pictures they created!

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An Unsolicited Guitar Pick Tip

I suspect there are very few people in the world who look to me for guitar tips, but here’s something I came up with the other day that is sort of art related.

Because of my drawing process, I blow through a lot of kneaded erasers in a year. The reason being once they become overly saturated with material, they get sticky and don’t function very well as erasers anymore… but what do you do with a kneaded eraser when it won’t erase anymore? Throw it away? Not me, I save them… why? …because, you just never know when you might need a useless, worn out kneaded eraser to MacGyver something up with.

A few weeks ago, I was playing a fairly aggressive acoustic guitar riff on a stage that has big tv monitors and those things radiate serious heat. As the temperature on stage rose during practice, I had more and more trouble holding onto my guitar pick. When I got home that night I started experimenting with solutions to this problem. I tried drilling a hole in a pick so my fingers could sink into it and hold tight, but that destroyed the integrity of the pick and it quickly broke in two. With an exacto knife I scratched up the surface of a pick, but that didn’t seem to make much of a difference. I just needed something tacky on that pick that I could hold on to… hey, wait a minute… what about A KNEADED ERASER. I put a thin layer of worn out kneaded eraser on the pick and it worked like and charm! Give it a try if you struggle with the same issue.

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1970 Opel Kadett

My very first car was a pale yellow, 1970 Opel Kadett… basically a tin can with custom installed Cherry Bomb mufflers. It’s best feature was a gigantic, state of the art, AM-FM/8 Track/Cassette stereo that cranked out more horsepower than the poor little 4-cylinder engine ever did. Sadly, I have no pictures of my beloved car, so I had to draw it by memory…

…and according to my razor sharp memory, this is EXACTLY what it looked like.

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Antiquated Artist Clip Files

Gather ’round kids and I’ll tell you a story of how old timers used to make pictures back in the olden days.

As an illustrator, you have to be ready and able to draw anything a client might ask for, so photo reference is a must. In pre-internet days, artists were continually begging people to give them their old magazines. They would then spend hours looking through them, ripping pictures out and organizing them into file folders. By saving various pictures of random things, there was a slight chance that when a future client asked you to draw some obscure subject, you might actually get lucky and magically find a picture of it in your files. The more expansive your “clip file” was, the greater chance you had of finding usable reference in it. Not exactly an ideal system but better than nothing… slightly.

Finding reference material is so much easier today. The last magazine job I did was a story about a guy finding Elvis’s rusty old motorcycle in a garage sale. The client wanted a caricature of the writer dressed as Elvis and sitting on the motorcycle. I jumped onto the internet, googled up a motorcycle and an Elvis costume and within minutes was working my drawing out.

The good old days were good old days, but I’m a pretty big fan of new technology. These days if a client calls and wants a picture of a Gobi Jerboa, I can quickly look it up, read all about it, find a dozen good pictures to work from and draw a Gobi Jerboa that actually looks like a Gobi Jerboa.

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$1.99? …that’s almost FREE!!

Over the past several years, I have been exploring options on how best to provide digital content. There are so many different digital readers on the market today and they each require their files to be built in different formats with miles of rules and regulations attached to each one. Because I have not wanted to build the same product over and over again to fit every different device in existence, I have hesitated in moving forward into this arena. I have finally decided to focus in on Amazon’s Kindle Reader, and this is the reason why… the Kindle App seems to cross the most barriers and can be installed and used on almost any device.

With that decision made, time for the hard part… me trying to learn the ins and outs of creating a digital book for Kindle. Having to start somewhere, I took my 2010 Sketchbook and created the DENNIS JONES SKETCHBOOK 2010 with it. It has over fifty pages of pencil drawings and full color illustrations.

Now I have a favor to ask… could a few of you with digital readers beta test this for me? If I could give it to you for free, I would, but Amazon doesn’t work that way and the lowest price I can sell it for is $1.99… but hey, $1.99 is still pretty cheap, right?! What I really need now is some feedback…

…does everything work properly? …is it formatted correctly? …are the pictures of high enough resolution? …thoughts in general about the product? …too long? too short? …what direction should I head in with digital products? I would really appreciate any kind of feedback you could give me here.

You can find the DENNIS JONES SKETCHBOOK 2010 HERE on Amazon. Thanks!

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Snow Fence Down

The air hurts my face… why do I live in a place where the air hurts my face? We Northern Indiana Hoosiers are all really looking forward to Thursday when our high temperature is supposed to reach 3… yea.

Last Saturday I hopped into my car to run up to the grocery store and as I started down my driveway through the blowing snow I noticed that my snow fence had literally been blown apart by the wind… yea.

Not to be deterred, I pulled on down my driveway and realized it was snowing and blowing so hard that I could not see anything… a white out… yea.

I figured if I drove really slow I could probably make it to the grocery store and back, so I creeped on into the neighborhood but was quickly forced to stop because I could not see anything but white. When the snow finally let up I discovered that I had driven into my neighbors front yard. I gave up on the grocery run, turned the car around and headed back home… and all I can say to the folks in my neighborhood is, hey… if you don’t like my driving, stay off the sidewalk.

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Magnus TriumpiHoosiernater

I have a bandmate (Robert Johnson) who is also a historical fiction author. He is currently working on a trilogy of books based on the old Roman Empire and an actual fellow named Gnaeus Pompey Magnus… and being a bit of a history buff myself, I thought I would toss out an idea or two for Robert’s third, historically accurate book in the series.

I’m thinking maybe Magnus finally gets fed up with Roman politics, grabs a boatload of corn and heads for the Bahamas with Curiosity his pet cat… (the poor cat sadly comes to a tragic end… SPOILER ALERT!!) …and without Curiosity to guide the way, Magnus drifts aimlessly until he is HIJACKED by Blackbeard The Pirate!!! …but ESCAPES when Blackbeard’s ship pulls into Miami for the Dolphins game. Magnus stows away on a Greyhound Bus headed for Texas where he helps Davey Crocket defend the Alamo against the dreaded Nazi menace…

…and this is all historically accurate, of course (according to my Mountain Grove, Missouri public school education) and free for you to use in your next book, Robert… no charge.

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