It’s that time of year again when the summer is ending so I thought I’d recap my summer TV watching. It was an odd year for me and summer TV since there were not a lot of broadcast TV shows that I watched this summer. A few of them even started in late August so they’re mostly going to be broadcast in the Fall.

Episodes – Broadcast – This show about Hollywood writers with Matt LaBlanc playing himself is back after a couple of years of not being on the air. I’ve only seen two episodes so far but it seems about the same quality as the other ones so I’m probably going to enjoy it. It’s a fun show with some raunchiness to it. LeBlank is playing himself as a bit of a jerk. And he’s a funny jerk.

People of Earth – Broadcast – I’ve caught about four episodes of season two of this comedy about a group of people who were kidnapped by aliens and also the story of the aliens themselves. I’d call it a gentle ensemble comedy but it has some fun and wit to the writing. It’s zany yet understated.

Shooter – Broadcast – Season two of Shooter just ended (eight episodes) and it ended on a cliffhanger. I hesitate to even call it a cliffhanger because to me it was more like it ended in the middle of a scene. I liked season one better but I still recommend season two. It’s an action show staring a couple of ex-military snipers. This season they’re being hunter by the world’s best sniper who works for some bad secret agency. Fun stuff.

The Sinner – Broadcast – A mystery wrapped in a police procedural I’m a week away from the last episode (there are eight of them). We open with an ordinary woman murdering an ordinary man in plain daylight at the beach. The rest of the show uncovers why she did it. Even the main character herself has no idea why. A good mystery show.

The Strain – Broadcast – Vampires have taken over the world in the final season of The Strain. We still have a few episodes left of this one. I complain about this show a bit because some of the characters do dumb things (especially the kid) but I still like it. Fighting crazy worm-based vampires makes for a fun show.

Broad City – Broadcast – We’re only one episode into the fourth season of this show and I found it a weak episode. It was the story of how the two main characters met and what would have happened if they didn’t meet. There was nothing wrong with it but it didn’t tickle my fancy like other episodes do. That doesn’t bother me though and I’ll still keep watching. Any show has episodes that I like better than others and this was just an episode that didn’t resonate with me.

Burn Notice – Netflix (former Broadcast) – Continuing my year long rewatching of this series I’m one episode away from the last season (Season 7). I’ve enjoyed revisiting the tales of our burned spy (which means our government wants nothing to do with him as his reputation has been tarnished) and his crew of friends. Usually each episode has two plots. One in which our hero is trying to clear his name and another where he and the crew are helping some innocent person out of trouble. A good solid action show.

Longmire – Netflix (former Broadcast) – I was watching this series about a Wyoming sheriff for the first time. It was originally a broadcast show that got picked up by Netflix for a couple of seasons. It changed a bit when it went to Netflix. The original seasons were more of a standard police show with a crime a week. The last two seasons on Netflix have been more like a large continued story over the course of a season. I think I like the earlier seasons better. It’s still a pretty good police show though.
The Office – Netflix (former Broadcast) – I’ve been rewatching this one as I do my exercises. I haven’t seen it since it went off the air and it’s still enjoyable the second time around. A comedy about people working at a paper sales company with a funny cast of characters. Maybe not a classic but a solid B+.

Don’t Trust The B in Apartment 23 – Netflix (former Broadcast) – Last seen in 2013 this two season 26 episode comedy starring “Jessica Jones” actress Krysten Ritter was a favorite of mine when it first ran. James Van Der Beek plays himself and Dreama Walker is the third star in this raunchy comedy about two NYC roommates who are quite different from each other yet build a friendship. It has a lot of imagination, bizarre plots, and general craziness going on. I’m really enjoying revisiting this one.

Comrade Detective – Amazon Show – The conceit of this six episode show is that it’s a lost 1980s Romanian TV show. It’s even dubbed. It’s a police procedural set in communist Romania and is played pretty straight for the most part but has an undercurrent of humor in it. The humor is mostly from the lead characters being genuinely pro-communist and anti-American. It wasn’t a great cop show or a great comedy but I enjoyed it.

Fleabag – Amazon Show – A show, which I exercised to early in the summer, that is is hard to describe. It’s a British comedy about a woman who is a bit of a loser. She can’t get it together and is always messing up her life. Her best friend has recently died in a mysterious way so there is also an undercurrent of tragedy to it. The show got less humorous as it went along (only six episodes). I liked it but still have a hard time categorizing it.

The Last Tycoon – Amazon Show – I’m one episode away from the finish of this one but it really doesn’t matter because I just read that the show is finished. No more episodes from Amazon. But still it’s been good. Based on an unfinished Fitzgerald novel it the story of a Hollywood movie studio in 1934. A big cast and lots of wheeling and dealing. It’s been fun while it’s lasted.
Red Oaks – Amazon Show – Another show that I worked out to. I initially wasn’t taken with this show. It’s the story of a college kid who is working at a country club in the New Jersey suburbs of NYC in the mid 1980s. It’s run two seasons and twenty episodes so far. There is a third season coming out sometime. The characters kind of grew on me. I wan’t planning on watching it after the first couple of episodes but I wanted something to exercise to and this fit the bill. It’s kind of quiet and non-interruptive. But in the end I got into it. That counts for something.
So there you go. Another summer is over and so is the summer TV season. What were you watching?

I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got ten new comics.

  • Divided States of Hysteria – 4
  • Kaijumax: Season 3 – 3
  • Kill or Be Killed – 12
  • Mage: The Hero Denied – 2
  • Retcon – 1
  • Shadows on the Grave – 8
  • Spy Seal – 2
  • Palookaville – 23
  • Bat-vark – 1
  • Mr. A. – 2nd Edition
  • Check them all out here:

    It sometimes takes time to see a drawing with clear eyes. I know that but on occasion it takes me by surprise when my vision clears up. It’s never that a think a drawing is great and then a few days later hate it. If I don’t like a drawing I can tell pretty quickly. And if it’s a truly terrible drawing it reveals itself within a half an hour or so. I’ve had a couple of those this week.

    I was trying to draw some portraits in my busted brush monster style and two of them came out awful. They were so bad that I tore them up. Well, one of them I cut into smaller pieces so I could draw on the back of the paper and the other got torn. The back of the paper on that one wasn’t salvageable since the paper was heavy with ink and that warped the paper. But neither was good enough to ever be salvaged. A bad drawing can have a good part or two in it that I can possibly use later so I don’t tear up every bad drawing but for the really bad ones I need the catharsis of destroying it.

    This week I discovered two drawings that were pretty good. They were from a couple of weeks ago and I had tucked them away. On purpose. I do a few different types of drawing. One of the types is from photo reference. I either take or find a photo that looks like something I could use and draw from it. I digitally draw a sketch over top of the photo and then print that sketch out and draw over that with a pencil. I do this when I want the drawing to be a little closer to reality than my far out drawings.

    I’m not really fond of the process though. I’m very picky about what photos I use to draw from. I used to take a lot more of my own photo reference back before the age of the internet but nowadays with an endless supply of images just a search away I rarely take my own anymore. Of course there is a problem with the endless supply of images. How to find one that I can use? It takes a lot of looking. I’d guess that one out of a thousand photos that I look at are useful to me.

    First of all I don’t want a famous photograph. One of the rules of photo reference that I was taught early on is never let the public see your photo reference. It’s never good to show how the sausage is made. It demystifies things and there is a solid chance if you’re a young artist starting out that the public will like your photo reference better than the art you make from it. That’s a tough lesson to learn. So I stay away from any famous photos.

    I have a folder on my computer of potential reference photos. I’ve learned over the years to always be on the look out for reference and sometimes go looking for it even if I have no idea in mind at that moment. So if I’m bored and low energy it’s a good task to do. It doesn’t take much to look through pictures on the internet. It’s just tedious and takes a little bit of concentration.

    Now when I’m looking for some photo inspiration I just have to look through my photo reference folder. I’ve got a few hundred pictures in there and one of them is sure to catch my eye. I even go back to ones I’ve used before and draw something new from them. So a couple of weeks ago I picked out a couple of photos and drew from them. One was a drawing for one of my “Red Mary” faux comic book covers and the other was a generic figure drawing that I didn’t even know what I was drawing it for. That’s always a problem. If I don’t even know what the point of the drawing is how can it be anything but pointless?

    I toughed my way through the drawings. They weren’t doing anything for me. It’s not that they were bad it’s that I was mechanically following a drawing method. And I didn’t have any interest in that method at the time. I finished them and was completely uninspired by the drawings. They weren’t bad but I knew I had to get them out of my sight. So I put them under a pile of recently finished and half finished drawings and forgot about them.

    This week I was organizing that very same pile of drawings and I found those two drawings again. And guess what? They were pretty good. The “Red Mary” one was a solid pencil drawing and though the other one needed some more work it also was solid. I may not have liked them last week but this week I was grooving on them. That’s why I didn’t tear these ones up. I just needed some distance form them.

    I finished the “Red Mary” faux cover. The drawing was ready to go so I printed it out onto a 8.5×11 inch piece of Bristol board, inked it, and then colored it with markers. It came out well.

    The second one needed a bit more work though. Oddly I was so frustrated the first time I drew it that instead of using a pencil I drew over the pencil in a thin ink line. So printed out this ink line drawing and drew over it in pencil. Most of the work was done on it so it didn’t take lone before I had a finished pencil drawing. I haven’t finished with that one yet but I turned it into one of my “Hypno-Love Girls” sketch covers. That means I’m going to draw it on a comic book size posed of Bristol Board and then cut that board to size and wrap it around a comic book making my own hand bound sketch cover.

    This weeks lesson is never let good drawings go to waste. If you don’t like then right now give it a week. The really bad ones you can get rid of though.

    I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got five new comics.

  • Outcast – 30
  • Uber: Invasion – 8
  • Usagi Yojimbo – 161
  • The Walking Dead – 171
  • The Wicked + The Divine
  • Check them all out here:

    I’ve mentioned that I make my own hand bound sketch covers on comics before but I don’t think I’ve ever written about exactly how I make them. As a kid I remember figuring out how to fix badly damaged comics since I always ended up with some hand-me-down comics that were in bad shape. It was mostly figuring out how to use Scotch tape in the most unobtrusive manner but one of the things I figured out how to do was to reattach a cover.

    I would take the smallest piece of tape possible, maybe a half an inch tall by a quarter of an inch wide, and tape over the staple holes on the inside of the detached cover. Then I would open the comic to the centerfold and use needle nose pliers to bend the staples back into their nearly original state. With the prongs of the staples straight I could pull them out of the spine of the book.

    After that I would poke holes with a pin in the tape that I put on the spine. The holes go right where the staples were originally. To finish up the repair I would wrap the cover back around the comic and then, by hand, put the staples back through their holes and bend them down again in the center. The cover we reattached and the comic ready to be read. Using tape on a comic is frowned upon these days but when I was a kid in 1977 a little bit of tape was far preferable to a detached cover.

    When I draw one of my hand bound sketch covers I to use that very method (minus the tape) except that I prefer to draw the whole thing on a flat piece of paper first and then bind it rather than bind it to the comic and then draw. The first thing I have to do is figure out what comic I’m going to bind my new sketch cover onto. I’ve used a lot of 25¢ comics, such as The Walking Dead 144, as well as some old World’s Finest issues from the early 1980s that I’ve had lying around. Anything cheap is good with me.

    The second thing I have to do is figure out the correct size paper to draw on. I measure the comic (comics from different eras and companies are slightly different sizes), print out a box to those measurements on an 11×17 inch piece of paper, cut the box out, fold it in half, and wrap that piece of paper around the comic. In a perfect world that would be all there is to it but usually the piece of paper isn’t the exact right size so I have to go back and adjust the size of the box in my template and print out another copy. This is why I use plain paper and not my good drawing paper to figure out the correct size. It takes a couple tries.

    After I have the paper size right I go in and make my logos. If I want it to look like the book underneath, say The Walking Dead, I digitally recreate the Walking Dead logo. Sometimes I use my own logos, such as my Acid Ram one, and the sketch cover has nothing to do with the book it’s bound around. After I have the size set and the logo placed them my template is done. At this point the “Chose your own adventure” can go in either of two directions.

    I usually like to draw and ink on separate pieces of paper. So if I have a drawing done already I scan it in, convert it to a non-photo blue line, and place that blue drawing onto my template to be printed out. After I print it out I ink over the blue pencil lines. I don’t always have a drawing done first though. In some cases I print out the logo and box on a blank piece of drawing paper and pencil and ink right on the same page. Either way I do the finished drawing on a flat piece of paper.

    After I finish the drawing, sometimes it’s in black and white and other times I color them with markers, it’s time to attach it to the comic. As part of my template on the outside of the box I have small lines where the middle of the box is. That’s where I have to eventually fold the paper. So I hold the paper up the the light, transfer those marks to the back of the paper, and then draw a line between the marks on the back of the paper so I know exactly where to fold it.

    It’s at this point that I trim the paper to size using an X-Acto knife and a metal ruler. Since my template consisted of the correct size box I just have to line up the ruler with the inside edge of the box and cut off all four sides. There should be no black line when I’m done cutting just the art I drew. Then I flip the paper over to where I drew the center line, line up my ruler along that center line, and (I learned this part from a friend) run the round edge of a paper clip along the line (and ruler) to compress the paper a little along the fold line. This makes it easier to fold. I then fold the paper along the edge of the ruler and after its folded run a burnisher along the fold.

    For the final step I’m back to my childhood. I use pliers to unbend the staples, straighten them out, and pull the staples out of the comic. After that I remove the cover an set the cover inside my folded drawing. With the drawing wrapped around the cover I take a pencil and poke it through the four staple holes of the cover to make four corresponding pencil marks on the inside of the drawing paper. I then remove the cover from inside the folded drawing, unfold the drawing so it’s flat, and use a pin to poke holes in the paper right where the pencil marks show where the staples have to go. Then it’s just a matter of lining the drawing, cover, and inside comic up and putting the staple back through the holds and bending them again.

    Be patent when putting the staple back in. It takes a steady hand to get them back through their holes and it can be frustrating at times. They don’t always want to line up as they should. But I’ve done it and so can you. Plus at the end you have your own sketch cover.