Friday, February 19, 2010

Here's the lamp you need

This is another one for those who are just starting out. I searched and searched for the right lamp for 12 long years! I was always buying new lamps -- trying to find one that would stay where I wanted it and wouldn't swing around and smack me in the face. Most of those spring-loaded luxor-style lamps are garbage, never stay put, and heat up like a McDonald's heat lamp. My prayers were finally answered when I was checking out Stuart Immonen's blog one day and he'd posted a photo of his desk -- sporting the lamp I was always looking for. I emailed him and he schooled me all about the precision-balanced "Floating Arm" technology of the amazing DAZOR lamp. A quick visit to eBay, and my life was changed forever!

So, please listen to me and save yourself years of frustration and get a DAZOR lamp. There's always a bunch of them for sale on eBay between $20-$50. You'll want Model 2134.

Take this LINK

DAZOR must've made millions of these in the 50's and supplied the government (and everybody else) with them. Now that I have one, I notice them everywhere in old photos of cartoonists and animators. These suckers are built to last, so don't worry about the age (mine's probably 50 years old). They're heavy duty and still function perfectly.

Hopefully, most people who read this already have one, but just in case you're out of the loop (like me) it'll be useful. Most artists are pretty isolated and have to figure everything out for themselves, so I'm always appreciative of any tips I can get. I think a lot of us share the feeling of "why am I always the last to know?" -- it's good to share some shop talk whenever we can.

Friday, February 12, 2010

You should definitely have this book.

I'm slowly realizing I'm getting old and might have a few things laying around that young artists out there REALLY NEED to have. I guess I was lucky with working with the gang at Artamus Studios when I was just starting out at 19 -- those guys all had 10 years on me and would point me in the right direction. Many times they would share some cool books I never knew about, so I thought it would be fun to dig up some stuff like that to share with other 19 year-olds who might appreciate it.

First up is Marvel's Bizarre Adventures #29. After seeing the VERY cool Toppi-inspired Batman covers that Dustin Nguyen did recently, it made me dig out this classic Walt Simonson job. Man, is it awesome. This job always stood out as one of Walter's best, and it's definitely the one where you can see his Toppi influence out in full force. Simonson is known for spreading the gospel of Sergio Toppi early and often, and it's fun to see how it pushed his design work and rendering style. This Bizarre Adventures is one of Marvel's black and white magazines, so it might be a little hard to track down, but it's definitely worth it. I talked to Walter about it when I had him sign my copy a million years ago and he had some great stories. It's an adaptation he did of Stephen King's The Lawnmower Man short story from Night Shift (I think that's the collection). I think it was probably the first comic book project Stephen King had been involved in and it's great that he was so loose with it and let Walter adapt the story as he saw fit. Walt said that his pages came back with King's pencil notes beneath each panel and how painful it was to erase them when he did the inking. Either that, or he didn't actually erase them -- like I said, it was a million years ago. Anyway, this story is just prime Simonson and one that you might have seen before. Go pick it up!
And, a big tip of the hat for Dustin on those Batman covers! It's really exciting to see him charged up and inspired by a master like Toppi -- and fun to see how different artists can use the same influence in different drawing styles. Always interesting to see the results.