June 20, 2011

Mystery Monday: New Shirts, New Digs, New Everything

So there’s a lot of new stuff coming your way from Ex-Boyfriend. We finally got around to posting my two newest designs, Eight vs. Ate and Transylvania Is 4 Lovers. I’m hoping to get at least one or two more up by the end of the week; I know it’s been a bit quiet in that regard lately. Don’t worry, though. I’m on it!

I also put the finishing touches on a new site design this weekend. Still a few minor things to do before that goes up, but I’m hoping to have it up later this week as well. The pitfalls of running a business with just two people!

Anyway, here are the new designs:

And just so you don’t think this post is all about MY shizz, here’s a pretty cool art blog I discovered via Thrillist.com a couple weeks ago: It’s called Ten Paces and Draw, and the concept behind it is that the blog contributors come up with a conceptual theme and then invite artists to work collaboratively on a piece that reflects the given theme. One artist starts off and creates a sketch inspired by the theme, and then passes it off to another artist who completes it. It’s a very cool idea. One of my favorite recent pieces is this collaboration between Kyle Fewell and fellow Baltimore-based illustrator Ariyana Suvarnasuddhi. Check out their other stuff; it’s very good!

June 14, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Oslo and Berlin (Part 2 of 2)

So after a quick diversion into the robotic realm last week, I thought I’d wrap up this two-part series about my recent European escapades!

Previously I posted some pics of the cool art to be seen in Oslo, Norway and the choicest selections from Berlin’s East Side Gallery. This week’s focus is a bit more on Berlin’s excellent street art scene.


This awesome Japanese woodcut-style portrait decorated the side of a hotel across the street from the East Side Gallery facing the Spree River. We really loved the economical use of color and elegant contours and just thought in general it was great art AND marketing for the hotel; it’s hard to miss AND hard to forget.


After a couple of mis-steps seeking out the cream of the art scene crop that we’d heard so much about before arriving in Berlin, we asked the proprietor of Big Brobot, a very cool book/toy/comic/t-shirt shop in the Friedrichshain section of the city, if he could recommend any good galleries that exhibited more street art and pop art (as opposed to the truly awful installations we’d seen up to that point.) He kindly pointed us in the direction of the NeuroTitan gallery and shop.

After a couple of missed turns, we finally were pointed in the direction of the correct alley leading to the gallery. Once we stepped into the alley, we were greeted with some really wonderful pieces of street art, from spray can art to traditional media to paste-ups.


The alley then led into a courtyard that featured this very cool steam-powered sculpture of a steampunk bat-creature with flapping wings, roving eyes, and flailing proboscis. I really wish I’d switched on my video camera to catch it in action!


Finally, to get to the NeuroTitan gallery, we had to climb a few flights of stairs to enter the shop area before checking out the exhibit. While the exhibit was pretty “meh”, the trip up the stairs was awesome, with the walls just COVERED in really cool graffiti and street art. One of our favorites was the “Fashion Chimp” ad paste-up, done in the style of a 1930s-40s women’s magazine. Who wouldn’t want a giant, life-sized “fashion chimp” for their home?


That pretty much wraps up our 2011 European adventure. Sad as we were not to be able to make it to Tokyo, it was an excellent diversion none the less, and hopefully the planet is done kicking Japan’s ass for a few years and we can make it over there soon.

In OTHER Ex-Boyfriend news—AT LEAST two new designs are going to be up by the end of this week. If you or someone you know is into vampires, kitties, and/or kawaii-style art, be sure to check back!

ALSO: Be sure to tune into The Daily Show on Comedy Central tonight at 11pm. Our good friend Jackson Galaxy from Animal Planet will be sporting our very own Fuzz Aldrin this evening during Aasif Mandvi’s segment! Woot! Be sure to spread the word!

UPDATE: The Daily Show segment featuring Jackson Galaxy wearing Fuzz Aldrin tonight has been postponed thanks to some big political news today, but I’ll keep you guys updated about when it really airs!

May 23, 2011

Mystery Monday: Meet Scott Tipton of Comics 101!

Something I’ve been wanting to do for a while on these Monday posts is start introducing bloggers, artists and writers I admire by way of short interviews. It’s a neat platform that allows me to ask questions I have, stroke the egos of some cool people I like, and hopefully introduce you guys to new corners of the web and 3-D world to explore. First up is Scott Tipton of Comics101.com, a site devoted to all sorts of pop cultural ephemera, but that takes its name from Scott’s weekly column in which he gives readers insightful overviews of the 4-color world that enrich the understanding of the medium for avid comic readers, but also allows an entry point for those of us who are new to comics or have been away from them for a while–if you’re a lapsed fanboy or fangirl, Comics101 is a great way to slide yourself back into the fold, or if you’re in a relationship or are friends with someone who’s expressed interest in sharing your love of comics but don’t know where to begin, Comics101 is a fantastic primer to get them started. Feel free to explore the online archive, or check out the expanded physical publication from 2009 that Scott co-wrote with his Comics101 cohort Chris Ryall!

Hi Scott! I know your favorite character (or one of them) is Hank Pym as Ant-Man (or really any of Pym’s heroic alter-egos), but I also know you have a lot of fondness for Hawkeye. After Jeremy Renner’s cameo in Thor, are you looking forward to an expansion of the character’s use in The Avengers? Sub-question: said cameo reminded me an awful lot of his “first appearance” in Ultimates several years ago. In fact, excepting Ed Norton’s depiction of Bruce Banner/The Hulk, it seems like a LOT of the plot-sourcing for these Marvel films is trying to offer up some sort of synthesis between Mark Millar’s arc and the origins of the characters as told by Stan Lee. Thus far it seems (to me at least) that the various writers and directors attached to these projects are weaving the two together pretty deftly. Would you agree? If so, how do you feel about that, both as a moviegoer and a fan of the printed stories? Would you prefer a more purist adherence to the original stories?

If Hawkeye is used in the AVENGERS film half as well as he’s been used in the current AVENGERS cartoon series, I’ll be extremely happy. As for THE ULTIMATES, I’m not seeing as much of an influence as you are. I think you might be getting that feeling just because the films are so modern and current, which was what made ULTIMATES feel so fresh. (Ed. note: This is probably true.) But for both IRON MAN and THOR the characterizations are very much classic Stan and Jack to me, and I don’t feel much Millar at all.

Keeping with the theatrical theme of the last question, who would you say is winning the current box office battle between the Big Two? Not necessarily in terms of receipts, but as purveyors of entertainment? Christopher Nolan’s treatment of Batman is pretty much beyond reproach, but Superman Returns, while charming and, in my view, underrated, was a bit of a flop both critically and commercially, and as much as I like Mark Strong as Sinestro, I just can’t seem to get exciting about Green Lantern. This is my long-winded way of asking what’s better to have on your report card: an A+, an A, a B, and a C- (DC’s), or a solid string of A-‘s, and B+’s (Marvel’s)?

Marvel has certainly had the better string of hits lately, but they’ve had their fair share of lemons, too. For every SUPERMAN RETURNS, there’s an Ang Lee’s HULK; for every JONAH HEX, there’s an ELEKTRA. And so far, Marvel hasn’t produced anything on the level of DARK KNIGHT RETURNS yet. Frankly, I don’t see it as a win-lose situation. Kick-ass superhero movies mean we all win.

Now, besides publishing an expanded collection of your Comics 101 columns back in 2009, you’ve also been doing more and more writing of actual comics thanks to your association with Chris Ryall and IDW. How has that been as a creative experience? Most of your work as a writer thus far has been with existing franchises like Star Trek, Buffy, Angel, etc—are there any plans or aspirations to create a wholly new title?

Well, writing the comics has always been the real goal (after setting it aside for a few years following the passing of Marvel editor Mark Gruenwald, who was a bit of a mentor of mine, and whose unexpected departure kind of took the joy out of comics for me for a while), so the fact that I’ve been able to step back into it and fulfill this childhood dream has been nothing short of spectacular. I’m planning on keeping it going as long as possible. As for an original creation, all I’ll say for now is “yes” and “stay tuned.”

Such a tease! Speaking of your writing work, Comics 101 readers have been lucky to have you sort of lift the curtain a bit from time to time and show us the creative process that goes into your books, at least as far as the back and forth you have with the pencillers and inkers in Italy. I’ve been wondering for a while: when you first send them the script, how detailed do you get in describing the action in the panels? Are you more on the Alan Moore/Neil Gaiman end of the spectrum, or really hands-off the way Stan Lee was with Jack Kirby?

Actually, I’d say somewhere in the middle. I try and give my artists as much instruction and detail (and reference material) as I possibly can, but I always tell them that I trust their instincts as storytellers, and if they see a way to improve what I’ve laid out, by all means do so. Sometimes they’ll run it by me first, sometimes they’ll just go ahead and do it, but I’ve never been unhappy with what I’ve gotten back. I’ve been amazingly lucky in getting to work with such talented folks.

OK, now on to the fun stuff…favorite artist from each of the “ages” (Golden, Silver, etc)?

Too many to name any single favorites, but just to name a few: For the Golden Age, aside from the obvious like Will Eisner, I really like the Fawcett guys like C.C. Beck and Mac Raboy, and I’ve got a real soft spot for Bernard Baily’s HOURMAN and Jack Burnley’s STARMAN. And Carl Barks. For the Silver Age, of course it’s the usual suspects: Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Romita, John Buscema and Carmine Infantino. I’d also list some unsung heroes like Dick Dillin, Ross Andru and Bruno Premiani. And although you didn’t ask, as far as artists working today (recusing myself from mentioning my friends David Messina, Elena Casagrande and Sara Pichelli, who I think are some of the best-kept secrets in comics (though Sara is getting some much-deserved attention on ULTIMATE SPIDEY)), I’ll buy absolutely anything by George Perez, Tony Harris, Adam Hughes, Amanda Conner, and Darwyn Cooke.
Which character has the best logo? Best costume?

The best logo is still the classic DC Superman. Instantly recognizable and iconic. As for the best costume, I think the Fawcett Captain Marvel has an elegance about it that’s pretty hard to beat.
Which character has the best super-power(s)?

The Legion of Superheroes’ Matter-Eater Lad, hands down. He eats stuff.

Which character has the worst super-power(s)?

See above.
Seriously, though, Doug “Cypher” Ramsey of the New Mutants came up pretty short in the super-power lotto. “Super-linguist” isn’t much good against Juggernaut, unless you can convince him to play Scrabble.

All-time, which publisher is your favorite, based on cumulative quality of output (IDW aside)?

I was raised on superheroes, so it’s always gonna be Marvel and DC for me, and I can’t pick one over the other. As for current output, it’s always in flux; these days, Marvel really seems to be firing on all cylinders.

Congratulations! You just became the king of Hollywood. Pick ten comic-based properties you’d like to develop and cast the three main roles (hero, love interest, villain) using any actor, living or dead.

First off, I prefer the title “Vice-President of Showbiz” (any Hollywood Babble-On listeners out there just laughed), and I’ll stick to the living, thank you very much. Still, 10 properties? That’s a lot of development. I’ll give you five.
ANT-MAN: Alan Tudyk as Hank Pym, Amy Acker as the Wasp and John Malkovich as Egghead.
DR. STRANGE: Ed Norton as Dr. Strange, Kat Dennings as Clea and Ian McShane as Baron Mordo.
SHAZAM!: David Boreanaz as Captain Marvel, Paul Giamatti as Sivana and The Rock as Black Adam.
FLASH: Chris Pine as Barry Allen, Alicia Witt as Iris West and the voice of Alec Baldwin as Gorilla Grodd.
THE SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY: Nathan Fillion as The Vigilante, Viggo Mortenson as the Crimson Avenger, Daniel Craig as the Shining Knight, Brad Pitt as Green Arrow, and Bruce Campbell as Stripesy. We’ll cast unknowns for Speedy and the Star-Spangled Kid.

Many thanks to Scott for his great answers to silly questions. If any of YOU guys would like to do the same, you know the drill as it pertains to fans: send me a pic of yourselves in some Ex-Boyfriend gear and I will happily send you some fun questions :-)

May 9, 2011

Mystery Monday: The Art of Baseball

Filed under: Artists I Like,Mystery Monday — Tags: , , , , — ex-boyfriend @ 6:22 pm

Austin, TX-based artist Summer Anne Burton took on quite a challenge in January of 2011: She set out to draw annotated portraits of all 293 members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame within a year, each one featuring key statistics and anecdotes. That’s roughly 1.25 portraits a day, which is pretty impressive—granted, her stuff is a little more basic than my work, and she’s doing this as a purely self-satisfying enterprise, so she’s not really going out of her way to sell these and suffering through all the marketing and self-promotion that it entails (though she is taking commissions for stuff at her Etsy shop)—but I’m lucky to average one new design a WEEK.

Still, the concept is sound, and her simple line art style is perfectly suited for this sort of project. Pains me as it does to feature a YANKEE on my blog, The Babe was born in Baltimore, and since Summer Anne is drawing these chronologically based on their induction into the Hall, it’ll be a while before any Orioles pop up (John McGraw is in there, but the Baltimore Orioles of the late 19th/early 20th century have no real connection to the team that moved here from St. Louis in 1954 other than geographical and titular symmetry.)

April 25, 2011

Artists I Like: Dave Perillo

Filed under: Artists I Like,Mystery Monday — Tags: , , , , , , , , — ex-boyfriend @ 6:01 pm

Last week I featured pieces from the recent Quentin vs. Coen show that I liked in particular, but this week I wanted to focus a bit more on artist Dave Perillo, whose “The Dude Abides” I mentioned as one of my favorites from the exhibition.

Perillo operates out of Philadelphia, and his art style is a pop cultural mash-up of influences, but if I had to describe it in a sentence, I’d probably say “Saul Bass goes kawaii.” A longer description would probably be “pop cultural artifacts from the late 70’s and 80’s presented in a late 50’s-mid 60’s design context,” including The Bugaloos, Voltron, and Weird Science.

You can check out more of Dave Perillo’s work on his blog here!

April 19, 2011

Title This Tuesday: Holy Water?

As a show of artistic solidarity for the recently-defaced work of Andres Serrano, I thought I’d toss this up. It’s no Piss Christ, but I doubt bathroom fixtures come much more blasphemous than this!

Not sure how you’d caption this, but enter your ideas in the comments section below. My favorite entry wins an imaginary sack full of gummi bears! ;-)

(Via ForkParty.com)

April 18, 2011

Artists I Like: The Bride vs. The Dude

Filed under: Artists I Like — Tags: , , , — ex-boyfriend @ 5:15 pm

Spoke is currently featuring prints of pieces from the recent art show Quentin vs. Coen, featuring art from various artists and designers inspired by characters from the filmography of Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers. It’s a cool concept for an exhibit, and as a fan of (most) of the work produced by the subjects, I think a lot of this stuff is pretty impressive. Check out a couple of my favorite examples of what’s available:

If you’re near San Fran and you’d like to see the whole shebang in person, the exhibit will be opening there on June 2nd.

A huge thank you to everyone who spread the word about this year’s fundraiser benefitting the Maryland SPCA and who contributed by purchasing my keychain bottle openers and large magnets. We were able to raise over $1,200 this year!

March 21, 2011

Mystery Monday: A Whale Of A Time

So much new art to share with you today, you guys. First, there’s Whale Trip, a lysergic odyssey of large proportions. Then, there’s International Boozing; the globe, re-imagined for those of us who do most of our cultural explorations with our livers:

But the art train doesn’t stop there! We have FIVE new designs from guest artist Hidden Eloise! The Last Red Rose, Baroness, The Pearl, Longing, and I’ll Make The Ocean My Home:

March 8, 2011

The Perfect Gift For Kids Dealing With Scurvy Siblings

Filed under: Artists I Like — Tags: , , , — ex-boyfriend @ 8:05 pm

I caught the old 1960 Disney live action Swiss Family Robinson movie on the Hallmark Channel this past weekend, which always makes me remember how desperately I wanted to live in one of the ornate tree-houses in the film.

So it was kind of coincidental that I happened upon this awesomeness on Sunday:

The most spoiled six year old in Minnesota was gifted with his choice of themed bedroom, as designed by Steve Kuhl. Wisely, the kid chose a pirate theme. The room features, among other things, a floating ship (complete with compartments to hang out in) , rope bridge to the brig (for storing pesky sisters), and crow’s nest. As if that weren’t enough, the walls and ceiling were painted to simulate the ocean, complete with “swimming” sea creatures. Click here to see more pictures and a description of exactly what went into the execution of such a cool concept. It is extremely sad that I kind of want a room in my house like this.

(Via My Modern Metropolis)

March 7, 2011

Meet the Guest Artist Monday: Hidden Eloise

So much new art, you guys. A ridiculous amount. Not only do I have two new ones of my own in the can and more coming in the next week, but new guest artist Hidden Eloise dropped EIGHT beautiful new ones in my lap last week that I threw up last night. Here are a couple samples:

You can see the rest of Eloise’s designs here and here, and you can check out her online shop here to see her prints, jewelry postcards, etc. Now, everyone settle down and say hello to your new friend!

1. Where are you from (both originally and currently)?
I live in the North of England, in the rolling hills of Yorkshire. Not to be confused with “the” Shire, but pretty close none the less.

2. Has that at all shaped you as an artist, or otherwise affected your creative processes?
The forests around here are enchanting, old but orderly somehow, not brimming with life but with enough little creatures to make every walk interesting and surprising. Whether I actually walk the forests around here or look at them from my window and imagine I’m there, there is a lot of the land in my art.

3. Can you let us know about some other visual artists that you admire and draw inspiration from?
The three art movements that have influenced me more than anything are Art Nouveau, Japanese Ukiyo-e and the Dutch Golden Age. You can see all of them seeping into my art, especially my latest collection “War of the Roses”. For specific artists from those bygone days, I love Rembrandt and Utagawa Yoshitoshi. On a slightly related note, I adore Shin Yun-bok!

4. How about non-visual artists (musicians, friends, family, public figures, filmmakers, writers, etc)?
I think my art looks well while listening to Cocteau Twins (Ed. Note: Yes, definitely. Maybe something early, like Treasure, Garland, or Victorialand), though I don’t necessarily draw inspiration from their dreamy world directly.

5. Did you receive any formal art training, whether it be in college, or elective classes in high school, middle school and so on?
Before I spent many misplaced years in university (getting a degree in Architecture that I have exactly zero desire to now make use of) I spent a year studying fine art. It was a great year, practicing classical painting and sculpting and I did get some knowledge out of it. I am mostly self-taught though and the greatest learning period has been the last three years that I struck out as an indie artist.

6. What’s your creative process like? Do you work in silence, or with music/TV/some other background noise on? Do you have a specific space set aside for working on art? What are your preferred mediums?
First, I need ideas and this is something that cannot be controlled or easily quantified. I note down ideas and make sketches whenever and wherever they happen to appear in my mind and as a result I happen to have an impossible amount of notebooks! Sometimes my ideas are specific emotions that seek an image and sometimes there is a very specific image that I need to see on paper.

When I know what I want to work with my process changes radically. I work on every artwork persistently and analytically, with planning and many iterations until I’m satisfied. The whole process takes around 10 full days on average and during that time there is mostly music, some silence, no TV and as little background noise as possible.

I always start with pencil on paper and that could be anywhere in the house that I can find a flat enough surface. After the drawing is done I do most of the work at my desk and I paint most of the art digitally with my mighty Wacom Cintiq21UX, a tablet built onto a screen so I can draw with a digital pen directly. This is the technique I’m currently infatuated with and I’m still just scratching the surface of the possibilities.

7. Do you have any pop cultural guilty pleasures you’d like to admit to?
I like C.S.I. Las Vegas.  (Ed. Note: I’d like to make a snobby remark about this, but I just realized I’m a regular Gossip Girl viewer) It’s useful though! Never know when you’ll have to cover up a hideous crime… (Ed. Note: True.)

8. What are some of your favorite web haunts? Any blogs or websites you’d like to turn more people on to?
How about veganyumyum.com for animal-less eating? And then onto http://www.youtube.com/user/tedtalksdirector for something inspiring to watch during lunch! I think I have seen over 90% of all TED talks and I’m working on the last 10%!

9. Do you have any pets?
My kitchen-monster of a partner doesn’t count, I suppose. So no pets, not at the moment.

10. Beer, wine, or liquor? Which kind (ales, porters, pilsners, reds, whites, rums, vodkas)?
Some light white wine is as far as my relationship with alcohol goes these days.

11. If you had access to Doc Brown’s Delorean in Back to the Future, when in time would you go?
One of my hobbies is reading history. Especially history of the far east. So despite my better judgement, my heart takes me to 17th century Japan, just after the great wars ended. I would take in the sights and live the idealised dream for a short time, before running away as fast as possible, back to the future, to avoid the swift and terrible end that those rough and brutal times would gift me.

12. Cake, pie or cookies (ice cream and candy are also acceptable, but be specific)?
I am vegan for moral reasons, so pretty much all the sweets in the market are out of reach for me. So I make my own and I can be very specific in my desires! Currently in the fridge, wobbling blissfully, are a few tubs of vegan Japanese style caramel purin! Oh yes!

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