Drawing of Ausar Olugbala

Martin Luther King Day 2013

Historic day today, January 21, 2013

Today is Martin Luther King Day; Barack Obama’s 2nd inaugural ceremonies are being held in the Capitol; and it’s been 50 years since the March on Washington.

It’s a wonderful feeling for the anniversary to be marked by the 2nd term inaugural ceremonies for Barack Obama. A lot has changed in the intervening 50 years, but a lot of old attitudes have not, so I’m glad the country is progressing, and that Obama sees a future where we keep making improvements to this Imperfect Union of ours, but also scared by all the Tea Bag nut jobs that have surfaced in the country and become mainstream.

For this Martin Luther King day, I present an old illustration I did of MLK for an article in the Village Voice for a series documentary films about his life:

illustration of Martin Luther King by Sean Leong in pen and ink

and here’s an illustration of Martin Luther King I did years ago:

Illustration of Martin Luther King by Sean Leong

Welcome 2013

No straight New Year’s resolutions from me this year, not that I’ve really done them in the last few years, but they are a good marker to set some sort of goal for the year. I like the idea of the 3 year look-ahead goal instead, so I think I’ll do something like that instead of the traditional New Year’s resolution.

Here’s a list of things I’d like to happen within the next three years:

  • Do an eight minute mile. (doesn’t sound fast, but I’m doing about 11 -12 minutes a mile right now, and my knees kill me after every run.
  • Draw more. Ink something
  • Write out ideas for stories. Sketch and layout one or more of these stories, does not have to be “finished”, just need to get something down on paper.
  • Paint! (could be water color, gouache, acrylic and/or oil and/or tempera paint.)
  • Publish more drawings, sketches
  • Write more, there have some great comics at our library, and I should write the ones I read, up, as some of them have bee really great , and some have been real disappointments. It would be nice to have a record of them for  other casual readers who don’t visit a comic book store, but would like to know what’s worth picking up.
  • “Finish” the walls in the basement. (And the combination of me and Sophia will “finish” the basement to be used the way we originally intended at the end of three years)
  • Have the bathroom plumbing in the basement completed.

I’ll post this now and update it when I have more time…

Needs more content!

So it occurs to me that this blog is getting very lonely and sad, I’m just not that prolific at generating content. The idea of writing, and writing stories in particular, has been bouncing around in my head for a while, and if I don’t start practice writing, that idea will absolutely go nowhere. So I’m giving myself the freedom to write and post crappy first drafts in this blog, I’m just not going to edit myself that much. I think blogs were always meant to be off the cuff, of-the-moment kind  of journals and opinions anyway, so I think I’ll be fine. And quite frankly, who’s really reading this anyway?

I’ve been reading a lot of comic books borrowed from the library recently, and by recently I mean this past year. Some have been mainstream superhero books, usually trade paperbacks of collected stories that have an arc that has a beginning and an end, like Batman: Year One Deluxe (New Edition)
. (As of this writing, it’s available directly from DC). I have the original series form the 80s, but my comic collection is a bit disjointed since I started working on my basement (almost 2 years ago!), and I’m just not sure if I still have them. So it was nice to be able to re-read the story, it still stands up as one of the best Batman origin stories that have surfaced over the years. What it really did more than anything else, was create an amazing back-story for Jim Gordon, who was always  just a foil to the lead character and never really amounted to more than a generic “good guy” to me. (That being said, I never really followed Batman, being a Marvel Fan Boy at the time, so a lot of my ideas about Jim Gordon came from some of my dad’s Silver Age comics, the old TV series and Tim Burton’s Batman movie). This telling gave him flaws and vulnerabilities, and made him “human” at least.

The late 80s and early 90s were a great time for comics, specialty “Comic Book Shops” were popping up all over the place, and super hero writers were doing their best “Stan Lee” melodrama treatment to our favorite characters. I think with the popularization and “mainstreaming” of alternative comics at that time, it really forced the Big 2, to up the ante and compete with more mature content. And if you’re interested, there’s a great group fan page called Comic Recollections on Facebook that my friend Delfin started.

The library also has a collection of alternative press trade paperbacks that I can talk about in this blog, that’ll come later…



Had to change the blog theme again

I kept getting a notice from GoDaddy that I had to upgrade my WordPress blog, but after trying a few times and failing, their tech help said I had to remove all extensions and themes first, there was something incompatible with the newer version of WordPress.

I tried removing and testing them one at a time, but it was way too time consuming, so I just removed the bulk of them and upgraded the system. I then came back in and tried to get back my previous “theme” but couldn’t find a compatible version. So I ended up with this theme, which the developer says is based on “Esquire”.

I tried a few responsive design themes, but none of them were very good. And it appears I’m not actually updated to the very latest version of WordPress (3.4.1), anyway. Apparently my hosting account is not configured to the proper version of PHP to allow me to fully upgrade the blog software, so I have to try tech support again to see if they can update that. I think it would be great to have a responsive blog, with a mobile device it would be easier to show people on the run…

I’m not a prolific poster anyway, I have a bunch of drawings I could post, but I really hate not having a “real” scanner, they all look horrible scanned from my “all-in-one” device… Poor blog, very sad and lonely. Any posting I’ve done recently has been just “shares” and “likes” on Facebook, the occasional tweet or Google Plus post, or something I “pinned” on Pinterest (which I do like, it’s just so perfect for images…)

Caricature of Barack Obama mid 2011

Barack Obama - the thinker

Barak Obama - the thinker

Image of Barack Obama that I started in my sketchbook with color pencil and finished off in Photoshop. I think I’m going to have to draw another one, this one got so overworked. Photoshop helped with some seriously bad color choices I had in places, but couldn’t make the piece more loose. The Photoshop file has about a dozen layers, and I built out the volumes of his head in monotone overlaid on top of the original color.

Below is a combination of some of the the tonal and color correction layers from the  Photoshop file for comparison. It felt like building up layers of paint in an oil painting, but unfortunately, a digital image doesn’t have that great tactile physicality that a painting does. I don’t have a pressure sensitive tablet to apply the “paint” either, so building up tone did seem to take quite a while.

 tonal architecture for "Barak Obama - thinking" image

The original pencil sketch is below for comparison. It was kinda hard to know when to stop, and the layers and layers of color pencil made it harder and harder to make corrections. Most of the pencils were also kind of “waxy,” so in addition for it to be hard to add additional color overlays after a while, it was also hard to physically erase the marks. So after a while I decided it would be easier to pull it all together with Photoshop. It didn’t end up being 100% successful, but unfortunately it ended up not as “loose” as the pencil sketch.

Pencil sketch for "Barack Obama - thinking"

Proud to be a Mac Addict

A couple f days ago, I saw a post about a video submitted by some of the staff of Apple to the “it gets better” site, it was posted on twitter by @AppleInvestor: What a great video, and I don’t know how many other companies would be this supportive of their LBGT employees, but this is another instance of why I love Apple, they just “get it”. If you’ve never heard of the “It gets better” project, it was created by Dan Savage of the Savage Love advice column, in response to a rash of gay teen suicides. It was his contribution to letting LBGT teens know that they were not alone in this world, and it really DOES get better as they grow older.
Check it out, it’ll bring a tear your eye. And even though this is an LBGT focussed project, it really applies to any kid being bullied for any reason.