Stanley Cup and Cheesecake 2010 - Eastern Conference Semifinals

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (8) Montreal Canadiens

Wow. What an unreal couple weeks, huh? It would seem that, impossibly, the Penguins have a clear path to a third straight Eastern Conference title, what with the Caps, Devils and Sabres pulling off the choke trifecta in the first round. The waters have parted, and a third straight trip to the finals lies, however infeasibly, just ahead...but this is the playoff, so no way is it a walk in the park.

First the Penguins need to get past the Canadiens and suddenly-stellar goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who absolutely slammed the door on Washington's terrifying offense in games 5, 6 and 7 to stun the Caps and take the series. One would have to imagine that the Habs can't possibly have lightning strike twice and steal another series...but if I'd been doing this in 1996 I woulda said the same thing about John Vanbiesbrouck and the Florida Panthers, and we all know how that turned out. If Halak is still human, the Pens should win relatively easy. Penguins in five.

(6) Boston Bruins vs. (7) Philadelphia Flyers

I gotta be honest, I have no feel for this rematch of the Winter Classic, outside of stunned disbelief that it's even happening. If this is a regular season game on NBC on a Sunday afternoon, I probably volunteer to tag along with my wife on a trip to Barnes & Noble...just zero interest. But a playoff matchup is a different story entirely, and you gotta figure we'll see some pretty tight games. In the end, though, I have a nagging feeling that Philly won't be able to overcome injuries to scorers Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne, and that Brian Boucher is due for a return to planet Earth. And speaking of goalies and planets, doesn't the name of Boston netminder Tuukka Rask sound like the name of one of those STAR WARS characters that's onscreen for like .002 seconds, but you don't find out his actual name 'til they put out an action figure of him? I'll go with Bruins in seven.

CRASS COMMERCIALISM DEPT: All of the original, hand-drawn art for the Stanley Cup pinup girls is available at my Etsy store...and if you'd like to go the extra mile and get a personalized, one-of-a-kind uni-girl illustration of your very own to your exact specifications, that information can be found here.


Stanley Cup and Cheesecake 2010 - Western Conference Semifinals

(1) San Jose Sharks vs. (5) Detroit Red Wings

I simply cannot tell you how sick I am of drawing pictures of girls in Red Wing jerseys. I am as tired of it as I am excited about drawing girls in Pens sweaters. Every year, every round, there they are...as inescapable as death itself. Plus, the fact that they play in Detroit means that no one will ever have the scratch to buy any of the original art. For me, it's a lose-lose situation.

Still, picking the Sharks to win would be an inexcusable affront to whatever feeble claim on journalistic integrity I have. I know they're going to choke, you know they're going to choke...hell, I'm sure even they know they're going to choke. It kills me to admit and I'd love to see San Jose prove me wrong, but you can't fight fate. Red Wings in six.

(2) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (3) Vancouver Canucks

A few weeks back, maybe mid-March, I was about halfway through a five-mile run, and a weird premonition of the Penguins and Canucks popped into my head. As the season wound down, it looked less and less likely, and kinda fell to the back of my consciousness...but with all the wacky events of the past week, the scenario, while still highly unlikely, now at least approaches the realm of possibility.

I'm also a little down on the Blackhawks...they've traditionally been among the small group of teams I don't hate, and in fact root for when my horse isn't in the race. But they've got the stink of Hossa on 'em this year, which I'd kinda forgotten about until he Ovechkined Nashville's Dan Hamhius last weekend. Dude is such a turd. As amazing and satisfying as it'd be to watch him lose in the Stanley Cup Finals for a third straight year, I'm afraid that with many of the East's top seeds having choked in the first round that if the Hawks make it that far he might actually lift The Cup. *shudder* It's too gross an image to consider.

Anyway, it's kind of a toss-up, but I'm thinking Luongo and the Sedin-bots will get it done. Canucks in seven.

CRASS COMMERCIALISM DEPT: All of the original, hand-drawn art for the Stanley Cup pinup girls is available at my Etsy store...and if you'd like to go the extra mile and get a personalized, one-of-a-kind uni-girl illustration of your very own to your exact specifications, that information can be found here.


Penn State

A little spring football for ya...



When it comes to Legionnaires, there are few more badass than Troy Stewart, better known to the United Planets as TYROC. Hell, you'd have to be a stone-cold badass to even think about putting on that costume! This one's for you, Mr. Sanders.


Bill Barilko

A post over at Jeff Barak's fine Third String Goalie blog, which showcases a different hockey jersey every day, alerted me to the fact that Bill Barilko's famous, and ultimately kinda tragic, OT goal happened on this day in 1951. The first I ever heard of Barilko was in 1992, in a song by The Tragically Hip...and while today I'd simply Google "Bill Barilko" on my phone, in those days I had to just sit and wonder what they were talking about until years later when I finally learned the whole story in a hockey book while on break at Borders. It was compelling enough that I did a comic about it, a short one-pager which eventually led off the first issue of Old-Timey Hockey Tales. Here it is for your enjoyment!


FLUKE 2010

I finally managed to make it to Athens, GA for FLUKE over last Saturday. Holy cow, what took me so long? It was a great weekend!

I flew into Atlanta Friday morning, and made my way out to Decatur, where my pal Brad McGinty had already commenced celebrating his 30th birthday. J Chris Campbell and Josh Latta soon joined us, and we continued celebrating with burritos and beer. Around 7 pm, I left to make my way downtown to Cypress St. Pint and Plate, where I joined my friend Todd for some in-depth conversation about illustration, design and Pittsburgh sports between periods of the exciting Penguins/Senators playoff game. The Pens won 2-1, and I'd already had an entire weekend's worth of fun in less than 12 hours.

Yet there was more! Saturday morning we headed for Athens, getting in just as the Fluke crew was opening the doors. We grabbed a table, and set about selling our wares. Saw a few more friends, including Tim O'Shea who asked me a few questions about the show for Robot 6, and the Dollar Bin folks, Brian Eison and newly-married comics super-couple Shawn and Adam Daughetee. Also managed a quick head nod or two to FLUKE organizers Patrick Dean and Robert Newsome. For as much as they like to joke about being disorganized, you sure wouldn't know it from the turnout...the place was packed all day! You always have to adjust you expectations a little bit the first time you exhibit at a show, since its gonna be the first time most of the folks have seen your work, but even with that being the case, I had a good day...better than at some other shows I've been attending for years. I brought along a very stripped-down version of my regular stock, and by the end of the day, well over half of it was gone...and I later sold much of what remained to Devlin Thompson to sell at his famous Bizarro Wuxtry comic shop, just a few blocks up the street.

What can I say about Athens? It's as cool and beautiful as I remember. I took a spring break trip through the southeast with my pal Bill way back in 1993, and we spent a couple days hanging around Athens... I didn't take more'n a couple photos, and I never made it back, so all I had were vague memories of how much I liked it. A few minutes walking the streets verified that my memory was exactly correct, because I instantly felt the same good, homey vibe that I had back in '93. I even managed to replace my old, shredded Wuxtry Records t-shirt, the tattered remains of which I reluctantly disposed of a few years back.

Sunday, we left the Days Inn early and headed back to Atlanta, where I was soon on a plane headed for Virginia. A final stroke of good luck, in the form a an overbooked flight, landed me a free upgrade to business class. We landed early in Richmond, where I soon found myself exchanging hugs with my wife and daughter. The perfect end to a perfect trip.

Life and schedules being what they are, I'm not sure when or if I'll get to go to Fluke again anytime soon, but it'll definitely be up for consideration every time I make out that little list of shows I'd like to visit at the start of every year. Thanks a million to Brad, Cate, Josh, J Chris, Robert and Patrick for making me feel welcome!

Some photos!

Looking confused, as usual.

The venue's exterior, front door, and most importantly, BAR!

The busy sales floor...like I said, PACKED!

A sketch I did of Tigra on the cover of a Marvel comic book, which'll presumably be given away as a prize by The Dollar Bin.

Til next time, Athens!


Stanley Cup and Cheesecake 2010 - Western Conference Quarterfinals

Today we finish up the first round of the playoffs with our Western Conference picks. Yesterday's Eastern Conference picks can be peeped here.

(1) San Jose Sharks vs. (8) Colorado Avalanche

I got an email the other day. It was written last April, and it was from myself, arranged to be sent to me the first week of April, 2010. It said "DON'T PICK THE SHARKS!".

And yet, here I go again.

It's different this time, though...last year, the Sharks lost to a Ducks team that had scratched and clawed to get into the playoffs over the last few weeks of the season, while San Jose cruised to the President's Trophy. They were ripe for the picking. This year, they face an Avalanche squad that is backsliding, desperate, and hanging on by it's fingernails. They've made a valiant run all season, but the clock is about to strike midnight. There's no way to expect this gritty group of youngsters to overcome all the Sharks' firepower At least, that's what I'll tell myself when Colorado sends San Jose packing. Why do I never learn? Sharks in six.

(2) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (7) Nashville Predators

The young Blackhawks were ahead of schedule last season, reaching the Western Conference finals before losing to the Red Wings, and despite multiple attempts to jinx their team with premature celebratory wall murals and t-shirts, the teams seems poised to take the next step. On the other side of the ledger are the Predators, who always seem to be in the mix but never much of a threat to actually go anywhere. The people of Chicago seem to believe. Do the Hawks? Blackhawks in five.

(3) Vancouver Canucks vs. (6) Los Angeles Kings

A few weeks back, I had a vision of Vancouver and Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Finals. A lot less sure about that matchup now. The Canucks seem to have it all going for them, but for some reason I feel like the Kings can pull off the win in a long series here, for several reasons: They have "The Piece", Rob Scuderi. I have to pick at least one true upset. And, I find those Sedin twins so goddamn creepy. Kings in seven.

(4) Phoenix Coyotes vs. (5) Detroit Red Wings

Wow, is there a better story in the NHL this year than the success of the Coyotes? They went from being unsure if they'd even be playing in Phoenix to notching 100+ points and making the playoffs for the first time in 8 years. Unfortunately, like many great stories, it's far better on paper than on film, as anyone who's sat through a Coyotes game this season can attest. They play a style even more boring than the Red Wings', which is no small feat. That the teams are scheduled to play two nationally-televised first-round games on NBC oughta squeeze that last bit of interest out of the Gold Medal game balloon. Ambien on ice. Red Wings in six.

CRASS COMMERCIALISM DEPT: All of the original, hand-drawn art for the Stanley Cup pinup girls is available at my Etsy store...and if you'd like to go the extra mile and get a personalized, one-of-a-kind uni-girl illustration of your very own to your exact specifications, that information can be found here.


Stanley Cup and Cheesecake 2010 - Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

(1) Washington Capitals vs. (8) Montreal Canadiens

As much as I might like to think that a return to Montreal to play his old team will get in Jose Theodore's head and cause him to lose his shit, there's no way the Capitals don't win this series. The Habs are going nowhere...if the season lasted another week, their spot in the playoffs would no doubt be claimed by the Rangers. Besides, an early Caps exit would deny the world another Washington/Pittsburgh playoff matchup and an eighth Penguins victory. No way Gary Bettman is letting that happen. Capitals in five.

(2) New Jersey Devils vs. (7) Philadelphia Flyers

This one seems like a no-brainer until you consider that the Devils, despite their fine record, managed only one win in six tries against the Flyers this year. For whatever reason, Philly has had New Jersey's number. I think that changes in this series. Best Goalie Of All Time or not, Martin Brodeur has been outplayed, frankly, in the playoffs the last couple years. However, I simply can't believe that Brian Boucher will be able to duplicate the success that Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Ward had in 2008 and 2009. It'll be a long, tough series, but it'll ultimately be a win for the Devils in seven.

(3) Buffalo Sabres vs. (6) Boston Bruins

U.S. Olympic hero Ryan Miller and the Sabres against a Boston team who've been fighting just to cling to a playoff spot the last two months. The Sabres have quietly put together a very impressive season, and may well prove to be the ultimate fly in the ointment for some unlucky Eastern Conference team before it's all said and done. Boston has struggled all season to score goals, so unless Miller has an epic meltdown, this one oughta be over quick. Sabres in five.

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Ottawa Senators

These guys again? This'll be the third time the Pens and Sens have faced off in the first round in the last four years. The overall score stands at 1-1, and though neither of those series was close, this one definitely promises to be. Both teams have been up and down all season: The Senators have had long losing and winning streaks, while the Penguins have been in win two, lose one, win two, lose one mode since the beginning of December. If I'm being perfectly honest with you, I'll admit that playing the Sens in the first round scares the shit outta me...in fact, logic almost dictates that I pick them to win it. But, with all the thrills and joy the Pens have provided over the past two seasons, there's no way I'm giving up on them now...So, in the words of Bud Brigman, "FUCK LOGIC!" Penguins in six.

CRASS COMMERCIALISM DEPT: All of the original, hand-drawn art for the Stanley Cup pinup girls is available at my Etsy store...and if you'd like to go the extra mile and get a personalized, one-of-a-kind uni-girl illustration of your very own to your exact specifications, that information can be found here.


Dan DeCarlo's Jetta

Been sittin' on this one awhile....

Early last summer, my pal Craig Yoe contacted me to see if I might be interested in contributing a pin-up for a book he was doing for IDW collecting Dan DeCarlo's Jetta comics. For those unfamiliar, Jetta was a Judy-Jetsonesque character created by DeCarlo (though created a good ten years before The Jetsons) who starred in a short lived comic...only four issues, if memory serves. My exposure to the character pretty much began and ended with the handful of Jetta covers reprinted in Bill Morrison's book "Innocence and Seduction: The Art of Dan DeCarlo" from a few years back. Craig sent PDFs of a few of the stories my way, and I really dug 'em...sorta Betty and Veronica in space, vintage DeCarlo, which is always a good thing.

Craig also sent along a list of other artists who'd be contributing pinups, and that was where I started to get nervous. When you see names like Presing, Frauenfelder, Hellman and Ragnar on a list of folks you'll be sharing pages with, you know you gotta really bring your A-game or risk looking like a complete chump. Thankfully, though, the pin-up came together smoother than it had any right to. I doodled the following sketch, and set right in on the final.

I finished up a couple weeks before my trip to San Diego Comic-Con. I'm usually only 60-65% satisfied with anything I do, but I was really happy with how this drawing came out. Other than showing it to a couple close pals, I've been waiting patiently to share it with you on the blog. And with "The Good Girl Art Library: Dan DeCarlo's Jetta" hitting stores this Wednesday, the time is here!

In addition to the 30+ pinups, the book contains all three full-length Jetta comics...much of it, I believe, reprinted for the first time. It also includes some samples of DeCarlo's own fantastic pinup work. There's more info on the book at Craig's "Arf Lovers" blog, including sample pages and a detailed list of all the artists providing pinups with links to their work. Like I said, you can buy it at your local comic shop this Wednesday if your local shop is worth a damn...and if not, you can grab it from Amazon instead.

Finally, here's my piece, the cover, and a few interior pages! Check it out, won't you?

Night Girl

TONS of stuff going on this week...release of the Jetta book, Stanley Cup previews and FLUKE on Saturday...but I thought I'd start things off with another Legion piece.

It's Lydda Jath, better known as Night Girl! Her power is super strength, but it only works at night...or at least when it's dark, as it is 24/7 on her home planet of Kathoon. You'd think a gal from a planet where it's always night would be a little more goth.

Actually, my first draft of this illo had Night Girl in the ridiculously skimpy outfit she wore when Mike Grell was drawing the Legion...I'm generally a fan of his revealing, if completely impractical Legionnaire costume designs. But as I went to ink, I realized there just wasn't enough to work with, so I switched to the Giffen/Mahlstedt-era version, which makes up for in character what it lacks in skin.


The Eyes of Texas


Team USA 1960 Throwback

Even more awesome than Team USA's 2010 Olympic jerseys were the 1960 throwback sweaters they wore for only one game, the win against Canada. They were a tribute to the squad that won gold at Squaw Valley, California, and if not for Sid the Kid's OT heroics for Team Canada, they might've seen lightning strike twice!