Danny Gregory Sketches From Life

Peonies, all images in post © Danny Gregory, from his Flicker page.
Peonies, all images in this post © Danny Gregory, from his Flicker page.

“Danny Gregory and his wife, Patti, hadn’t been married long. Their baby, Jack, was ten months old; life was pretty swell. And then Patti fell under a subway train and was paralyzed from the waist down.

In a world where nothing seemed to have much meaning, Danny decided to teach himself to draw, and what he learned stunned him. Suddenly things had color again, and value. The result is Everyday Matters, his journal of discovery, recovery, and daily life in New York City. It is as funny, insightful, and surprising as life itself.”  – note from Hyperion, the publisher of Everyday Matters.

Hounds © Danny Gregory.
Hounds © Danny Gregory.

Danny Gregory is coming to Kutztown University on Thurs, Dec. 4, thanks to Prof. Ann Lemon. Danny is an artist, illustrator, teacher, filmmaker and writer. I see from my Amazon history that I first bought his Everyday Matters when it came out in 2007. Like so many others, I was touched by the story of how he sat at his wife’s side during her hospital stay, and how the act of drawing saved his life. We use two of his books, The Creative License and The Illustrated Life as texts in classes at Kutztown.


Detail from Amsterdam Sketchbook ©Danny Gregory
Detail from Amsterdam Sketchbook ©Danny Gregory

I asked Ann Lemon three questions about Danny Gregory. I asked when she first met him and what was her favorite drawing? and what’s Danny really like? Below are her answers:

Ann Lemon:  “So, I honestly can’t remember how long ago I met Danny. I think it was back in the 90s through his art director partner, who went to school with me. But I got to know him when we both worked at mcgarrybowen. I maybe even was more friends with his wife Patti – but then everybody always was.

Sketchbook © Danny Gregory
Sketchbook © Danny Gregory

Then, kind of a weird surprise, after Patti died (major tragic accident) he began dating my good friend, J.J. Wilmoth, who had also worked at mcgarry. They moved out to L.A. together for a while when she took a job out there last year, but they both missed New York too much and returned a few months ago.”

Bad to the Bone by Danny Gregory
Bad to the Bone by Danny Gregory

“Not sure what drawing would be my favorite. Maybe the cover of Bad to the Bone cause I have a major crush on his dog, Tim. I hope Tim comes to the talk. Actually, as long as Tim comes, I don’t even care if Danny comes.

Self-portrait © Danny Gregory.
Self-portrait © Danny Gregory.

His work personality is absolutely the opposite of his book personality – at work he comes across as kind of tough, silent. Also, he is a writer by trade, not an art director, so a lot of people at work had no idea he had this other life as an artist. He’s really funny, but always serious, too. You’ll see.”

O.K. You’ll see, too. Come see Danny Gregory at Kutztown University, Thurs. Dec. 4 at 6pm, Academic Forum 101. Free and Open to the Public. Bring your sketchbook, Danny will not mind if you draw while he talks. Sponsored by The Communication Design Dept., KUSSI, and KU’s AIGA student group.

Daniel McCloskey, Smiling Artist Missing Teeth.

From a Screenshot at Noon, Dec.2
From a Screenshot at Noon, Dec.2

UPDATE: Dan’s Kickstarter got funded. Thanks. Julie Sokolow wrote a fine article at MichaelMoore.com that really helped.

Full disclosure: That’s my boy! Daniel McCloskey is a cartoonist and founder of Pittsburgh’s Cyberpunk Apocalypse Writer’s Project. On Oct 22, Dan was riding his bike when his front wheel fell into a deep, narrow pothole. Dan flew over the handle bars. He did a face plant on the black asphalt of River Ave, part of Pittsburgh’s Three River Heritage Trail.

Oddly enough, the hero of Top of the Line also has missing teeth.
Oddly enough, the hero of Top of the Line also has missing teeth.

A Good Samaritan, a kayaker named Beth, called an ambulance and stayed by his side. Dan’s chin was split open in two flaps, but surgeons at Allegheny Hospital sewed it back together nicely. He still has a wire brace keeping his remaining front tooth in place.

From Top of the Line © Daniel McCloskey
Recently Dan has been drawing monsters for his new comic book series, Top of The Line. He is going through with his launch of the project via Kickstarter. Here is the link.

Bonus books contributed by Pittsburgh's  Small Press Community.
Bonus books contributed by Pittsburgh’s Small Press Community.

Cyberpunk Apocalypse Drawathon

Pittsburgh’s arts and comics community is supporting Dan in his hour of need. On Nov. 20 Dan is kickstarting his Kickstarter with a Draw-a-thon. Dan promises to draw live for 24 hours, streaming at danielmccloskey.com. There will be guest comics artists like Jason Lex, Nate McDonough author of Grixly and Nils Skeletonballs dropping in throughout the day to give out bonus rewards. Award -winning poet Tameka Cage Conley  will be there. Thomas Scioli will have a special signed edition of Final Frontier. Artnoose and Brett Kashmere are contributing projects, too.


All or Nothing
If you have never supported a Kickstarter project, you will need to sign up. As Kickstarter’s site explains it: If the project reaches its funding goal, then backers are charged. If the project falls short, then no one is charged. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.

 Top of the Line © Daniel McCloskey
Top of the Line © Daniel McCloskey

Dan’s fund totals are up since I grabbed the picture above, for the latest check here. If you’d like to read Top of the Line, FREE! online, start here. Watch out for monsters and monster potholes!

Daniel McCloskey, photo © by Sarah La Ponte
Daniel McCloskey, photo © by Sarah LaPonte  sarahlaponte.com

Daniel is among the millions of uninsured Americans. He has a big hospital bill on his hands, but Allegheny Hospital is helping him with the costs. He might get it down to a few thousand dollars. He noted, “It is, however, pretty awesome to live in a world where a motorized vehicle can take you to nearby professionals who have the ability and equipment to relieve your pain, painstakingly sew your face together for 3 hours, and save what teeth can be saved.”

Portrait Gallery Illustration II from Gaiman to Rasputin

Neil Gaiman © Ryan Bittle
Neil Gaiman © Ryan Bittle, digital portrait

Ryan Bittle writes, “I have been influenced by the work of Neil Gaiman for over a third of my lifetime. I find his offbeat and eerie style fascinating, and I’ve made attempts at a few lackluster portraits, so I thought it was about time to make a good one in honor of all the inspiration Mr. Gaiman has given me over the years.”

J.R.R. Tolkien © Tessa Ports
J.R.R. Tolkien © Tessa Ports, colored pencil

Tessa Ports, is a graduating senior in Fine Arts. “I chose J. R. R. Tolkien because I’ve never been more amazed by the depth of someone’s imagination and their ability to dream.” With the exception of Tessa, the artists here are KU Communication Design majors, mostly juniors. All have had Illustration Techniques, the required sophomore-level traditional media course. Then they took Illustration 1 which focuses on digital illustration using the Wacom tablet.

Chuck © Erica Slough
Chuck © Erica Slough, digital

For this project , students can use traditional or digital media. Erica Slough went digital and writes, “I chose Chuck Palahniuk because he has always been my all time favorite author. His books are pretty much the only books I ever read. I typically finish an entire book in days.”

The assignment insisted they choose someone other than an actor or entertainer as a subject. Many chose authors. Aubrey Cohen picked Maurice Sendak. She writes, “I chose to paint Maurice Sendak because his book “Where the Wild Things Are” is such a classic and I thought it would be fun to portray him like one of his beloved monsters.”

Maurice Sendak © Aubrey Cohen
Maurice Sendak © Aubrey Cohen, digital painting

“I picked Nostradamus for his often stern look and the controversy that revolved around him. He struck me as a reserved man who was probably going crazy on the inside.” -T.J. Walston (below)

Nostradamus © T.J. Walston
Nostradamus © T.J. Walston, digital

“I chose to do a digital painting of Rasputin,” says Hanna Stephey, “because his eyes are so distinctive and kinda creepy, I felt compelled to capture that creepiness. Also, I added an albino bat sidekick hiding in his beard, a la the animated film Anastasia.

Rasputin @ Hannah Steffey
Rasputin @ Hannah Stephey, digital

These were not the only excellent portraits from this talented class. These were chosen to demonstrate excellence and diverse illustration styles. If you’d like to leave praise or constructive criticism, use the comments section. Thanks!

Traces of Lucidity

Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies www.forgottenartsupplies.com
from http://www.forgottenartsupplies.com © Lou Brooks


When I was a grad student I asked my teacher Marshall Arisman how to use the ancient lucigraph tracing machine in SVA’s illustration studio. He cocked his head back and laughed in my face. “You never used one of these? Good for you, I am not going to teach you!” I can’t find a picture of the exact model, but it had a big black bellows and a fan that sounded like a helicopter landing. Similar specimens can be found in Lou Brooks’ Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies.

Prof. Pablo Garcia's collection of camera lucidas.
Prof. Pablo Garcia’s collection of camera lucidas.

Tracing devices, or optical drawing aids are not new. Camera comes from the Latin word for room or chamber, and obscura and lucida from dark and light. The camera obscura is the older and larger device. Aristotle knew of the device. It works with a pinhole or lens and projects a 2-D image on a surface. The camera lucida is a portable optical device that works in bright light.

Dürer's woodcut of a draftsman using a drawing aid.
Dürer’s woodcut of a draftsman using a drawing aid.

Fine artists often deny using such tools. Some illustrators are more honest. Norman Rockwell used Bosh and Lomb’s Balopticon, a projecting device with a 400-watt bulb. He said, “The balopticon is an evil, inartistic, habit-forming, lazy and vicious machine! It also is a useful, time-saving, practical and helpful one. I use one often—and am thoroughly ashamed of it. I hide it whenever I hear people coming.”

Copan Stela detail by Catherwood and sketch from the "Maya Decipherment" blog.
Copan Stela F (detail) by Catherwood and sketch from the “Maya Decipherment” blog.

I wrote about Frederic Catherwood when I was in the Yucatan in 2011. Catherwood braved disease, insects, snakes, and war to complete his illustrations for John Stephen’s “Incidents of Travels in Central America, Chiapas, and the Yucatan.” Catherwood hacked away jungle and rigged a camera obscura in a black tent in the tropical sun. His drawings, circa 1840, are so meticulously detailed that they enable epigraphers to decipher the glyphs today. Many such glyphs were lost to erosion or looters by the time photographers arrived decades later. The illustration above is from Dr. David Stuart of the University of Texas Austin’s Maya Decipherment blog. 


Yesterday, I (and 2499 others) contributed $30 to a Kickstarter campaign to produce a 21st century camera lucida. Dubbed the NeoLucida it will be assembled in Pittsburgh. I will be getting one to try.

demo photo from NeoLucida Kickstarter
demo photo from NeoLucida Kickstarter

The NeoLucida is the brainchild of two art professors: Pablo Garcia, who teaches Contemporary Practices at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Golan Levin, Associate Professor of Computation Arts at Carnegie Mellon University. The NeoLucida Kickstarter was so popular it sold out within 16 hours.

They write: “Our first batch of NeoLucidas will also be our only batch—because, as we’ve explained, we’re doing this as a fun intervention, not to start a business. Once we’ve finished distributing the NeoLucidas, we will publish our designs, CAD files, and all of our supplier data pablo-golan.largewith a liberal Creative Commons and Open-Source Hardware (OSHW) license, so that anyone who wishes can continue the project (including, potentially, commercially). Our design and other manufacturing information will appear on NeoLucida.com, Instructables, Scribd, and other appropriate sites.                              Sincerely, Pablo & Golan

Sorry I am such a slow typist. Had I posted this yesterday, you might have gotten in on the deal. But take hope in the fact that this is an open source provocation. Someone else will surely build on this idea. The video on the NeoLucida Kickstarter site is still worth a visit. It is a case study of a pitch perfect Kickstarter campaign. My favorite part is when Prof. Garcia earnestly explains “our suppliers require a minimum order of 500 prisms and thumb nuts.” Thumb nuts! The NeoLucida will come with a postage paid card to permit users to send their line art to an online collection. There may even be a book. I plan take my NeoLucida to Mexico and trace a glyph.

UPDATE: May 10. New limited edition of $40 NeoLucidas is slated to be announced on Kickstarter this evening at 6pm EST, link here.

NEW SVA MFA in Visual Narrative

Art by Nathan Fox © 2011 detail from GQ  essay on the hunt for Bin Laden
Art by Nathan Fox © 2011 detail from GQ essay on the hunt for Bin Laden.

Nathan Fox will direct the new Visual Narrative MFA program at NY’s School of Visual Arts. Nathan is a comic book artist and illustrator. Like me, he is a grad of SVA’s MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program.

Nathan Fox's covers for Pigeons From Hell, Dark Horse Comics.
Nathan Fox’s covers for Pigeons From Hell, Dark Horse Comics.

Nathan is juiced about what he calls “the future of storytelling.” I asked him how this new MFA is different. For one thing, it is low-residency with an emphasis on the concept of “Artist as Author.” In fact, writing will account for a full 50% of the program. Every student must create a digital version of their narrative. A narrative created for this MFA program might be a graphic novel, but it might also be an interactive game, an animation, or a mix of time-based and traditional media.


Visiting lecturers naturally include stellar comics artists and graphic novelists. Animators J.J. Sedelmaier and John Canemaker are on board. The program promises some unusual perspectives from game developers, typographers, copyright lawyers, and a neurologist.

Students will work in the studio in Manhattan for three intensive eight-week summer residencies. Nathan tells me the Chelsea area studios will have magnetic walls for slapping up storyboards of work in progress. There will be smart classrooms and pop-up studios and where each artist gets an individual workspace.


Between summer sessions students go home, but continue their projects online. Nathan envisions eight to ten hours work days, six days a week during the summer sessions.

How Much? If my math is right, the tuition will be near $70,000 for the three summers and two “winters.” I asked my junior level illustration class what they thought of this tuition. Several gasped, our instate undergrad tuition is about $8,500 a year. Hannah Stephey was the exception, she said, “Hey, it is a very specialized and really cool degree! It’s like -You want to be an astronaut?  -You have to go to astronaut school! It’s very specialized; and that’s going to be expensive!”

Tit for Tat © Jennifer Daniel
Tit for Tat © Jennifer Daniel (detail) from Latina Magazine

Jennifer Daniel, known for her witty iconic illustrations and infographics will be on the faculty. “Tit for Tat” piece above is a part of a page of slang terms for women’s breasts appeared that in Latina Magazine. Ross McDonald, whose humorous illustration appears below, is also a faculty member.

Art by Ross McDonald, Faculty member.
Art by Ross McDonald, SVA MFA Visual Narrative Faculty member.

Stellar faculty. Presuming he gets similarly stellar students, Nathan Fox may well be onto something as he races towards the future of storytelling with the MFA Visual Narrative. Apply here if you want in.

For God and Country (detail) drawn by Nathan Fox, ©2010
For God and Country (detail) drawn by Nathan Fox ©2011

By the way, the full visual narrative “For God and Country” on the death of Osama Bin Laden (detail above) can be found at GQ.com. Give it a minute to load. The writing is by Matt Fraction, ably illustrated by Nathan Fox, and superbly colored by Jeromy Fox.

Straight from Kutztown to NY, NY.

Cat Party © 2013 Aubry Cohen
Cat Party © 2013 Aubry Cohen

In Aubry Cohen’s Cat Party a cat decides to have a little fun when his owner goes out for the night. This 14-pager will be ready for MOCCAfest at the historic Armory in NYC, April 6-7.

In Dreams © 2103 Ryan Bittle
In Dreams © 2103 Ryan Bittle

In Dreams is by Ryan Bittle.  “When in dreams, the world is yours. But you can never tell when the dream will descend into nightmare.” says Ryan. In his 8-page mini-comic, drawn with ballpoint pen, a little girl learns her imagination may be too powerful for her own good.

Dear You, Love, Me © 2013 Michelle Foster
Dear You, Love, Me © 2013 Michelle Foster

Dear You, Love, Me is a feel-good story about love and friendship by Michelle Foster. A girl down on her luck and muddling through some recent heartbreak tries to get back on her feet (with the help of a new friend). The story is told from the perspective of a guy, her friend, via letters from him to her, in which he encourages her and helps her out with her struggles.

Page © 2013 by Lauren Walling
Page © 2013 by Lauren Walling

Lauren Walling tells the story of a  ballerina in a tale tentatively titled Musicbox. Lauren explains the theme with this quotation from singer- songwriter Regina Spektor: “Life inside a musicbox ain’t easy, the mallets and the gears are always turning. And everyone inside the mechanism is yearning to get out”

Panel © 2013 by Bobby Stank
Panel © 2013 by Bobby Stank

The panel above is from Bobby Stank’s mini-comic, She Thinks She’s Super. Rob is having girlfriend problems. She’s acting weird and has run off in the middle of the night. Is she cheating on him, or is she really a superhero?!

© 2013 Janelle Remphrey
© 2013 Janelle Remphrey

In Janelle Remphrey’s Feverish Happenings strange things happen when a girl stays home from school with a fever. Janelle has more of her art on view online here.

Echoes of the Past © 2013 Tessa Posts
Echoes of the Past © 2013 Tessa Posts

Most of the students involved in this project are Communication Design majors. Tessa Ports is the exception; she is a Fine Arts major. Her zine is called Echoes of the Past, and the panel above is about dragons, lamenting the fact they are fading away from legend and being forgotten.

mocca_logoThese zines will be on view at MOCCAfest in NY, April 6 & 7. This is a great opportunity for our students to participate in what the Village Voice calls “The Best Small-Press Comics Nexus Anywhere.”  We are grateful to Kutztown University’s Office of Assessment for the grant funding our exhibitor’s table. There are a few other college exhibitors including Maryland Institute College of Art, and NY’s School of Visual Arts. This is a first for Kutztown and we are delighted to be in such good company.


More Comics for MOCCA

Comic panel © 2013 by Hannah Stephey
Comic panel © 2013 by Hannah Stephey

Zish & Mala is a mini-comic from the zine Minty Circus by Hannah Stephey that follows two alien military officers in their bumbling ordeal of intergalactic mishaps and monster fights.” Since we wrote about Hannah in 2011 she’s drawn a lot more comics and has taught a short course in comics at the Chambersburg Arts Council.

Mellen is nearly finished with her MOCCA bound book, Bediquette. Mellen says, “Bediquette is a zine for anyone who’s ever had to share a bed, with a partner or otherwise. Observational humor, bad puns, and suggestions about ways to share a bed …And not go crazy!'”

Bediquette cover art © 2013 Mellen (Melissa Reinbold)
Bediquette cover art © 2013 Mellen (Melissa Reinbold)
From Bediquette © 2013 Mellen, Melissa Reinbold
From Bediquette © 2013 Mellen, Melissa Reinbold

Ryan Gaylets is a US Navy veteran and a fan of odd TV shows like the Twilight zone. His comic is a bit more serious and mysterious. In his story, panels below, a young man has a few too many drinks, but is still able to drive his girlfriend home in his pick-up. Well, he thinks he can.

panels © Ryan Gaylets
Panels  from “Let Me Go” © Ryan Gaylets 2013

Jen Zweiger has an ambitious fantasy comic in progress. Fight or Flight begins with a girl waking up in a world of darkness with no memories. Not long after, a monster appears out of nowhere and chases her relentlessly. As she flees she encounters a mysterious being, the “Priestess,” who may be the only hope she has of discovering her past. In this panel, after a futile cry for help is seemingly ignored, the girl sees the Priestess for the first time.

© 2013 Jen Zweiger
© 2013 Jen Zweiger

T.J. Walston is a somewhat oppositional character in real life. I had some suggestions for his project, he declined to make any changes. He explains,  “My comic is descriptively named “No. And why.” – this comic being about everything I hate in life, including day-to-day events… and people. This specific page (below) is about my girlfriend, I hate her, don’t get me wrong I love her, but sometimes she’s a bit like a monkey.”

No. And why? © 2013 TJWalston
No. And why? © 2013 T.J. Walston

Hate to leave on a negative note, so we conclude with Erica Slough’s cheerful story of a night in the life of a vampire who works at a call center. Erica is planning on creating this 9-page zine in the shape of a coffin. She says it will be about an “average joe” vampire.

Nosefaratu © Erica Slough
A Night in the Life © 2013 Erica Slough

We’ve got an impressive array of talent and story lines headed to the MOCCAfest. Stay tuned for more amazing stories next time!