Monday, December 31, 2012

Critiques and art updates

The further you delve into art, the thicker skin you need to build or else you're going to smash into a wall and never excel. You have to be able to weigh a critique as well, whether it was an honest critique, or a personal jab, or just an uneducated opinion. The most important thing though, is to keep cool in all three situations. Who wants to hire an illustrator, or artist in general, who blows their top? You look like an ass, and you're not impressing anyone.

Recently, on Instagram, someone posted a tattoo design based on traditional Americana tattoo designs of two hands shaking. One person said that it looked off, but they couldn't finger it. I replied "The woman's palm looks extra long, and the fingers look short." I didn't attack the artist, I didn't say it wasn't done with quality craftsmanship. Hell, the illustration problem could have been solved simply by extending the lines that break up the fingers just a half inch. Sadly though, several people blew up, one in particular dropped to below the belt inconsequential bullying techniques. But you know what, it didn't phase me. I'm an adult, not a child susceptible to online offhanded remarks. It was ridiculous, and I replied by asking everyone to chill and the world isn't ending. No need to cursing or other vulgarities. Again, a second onslaught of remarks. I just dropped the discussion.

Sadly, this soured me to that particular tattoo shop's professionalism. I won't name names, but let's just say it is fairly famous through television. I held them in high regards, but I should have really known from just watching their show how unprofessional and just plain street thug they are. Formal art training will sculpt you into a proper giver and receiver of fair critiques, or you'll be weeded out. Simple as that.

All I can say is keep a cool head, and analyze what is being said to you. Flying off the handle never helped anyone. That's all I'm going to say about that. How about I talk about some personal projects going on at the moment.

First up, I've decided to hop back into acrylic painting again. Man has it been a while! Almost a year I think! I've decided to do some 11"x14" acrylic portraits of cartoon/video game characters, starting off with Mario. But the first snag came with his color scheme. Check out the image below from Super Mario Bros 2, Super Mario Bros 3, and Mario Bros (1983). What is Mario's official ensemble? Red overalls and blue pants, or blue overalls and red pants? Also, just to throw things off worse, check out Mario's hat on the Mario Bros arcade side art.

Well, I'm going with the SMB3 color scheme, but going with a vintage cartoon art style. Recently I've been watching the early Disney cartoons again, as well as Felix the Cat, and reading the Fantagraphics books of Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse comic strips, and Carl Bark's Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge. Really impressive work!

Below, you can watch my progress from initial sketch to about 65% complete. I was hoping to finish by January 1st, 2013, but that won't be happening. Maybe by the end of the week instead.

And below Mario, I have a couple sketches. First is of Megaman, again in that vintage look. I might paint a portrait of good old Megaman next. Lastly, for the heck of it, I drew Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. I really haven't seen much of him from either cartoon or video game (ala Epic Mickey). Not sure if his muzzle protrudes like Mickey's or more flat like the Warner Bros(and sister) in Animaniacs.

Well, that wraps things up. Later in the week I think I'll be writing a year in review, as well as some goals I'd like to publicly announce. Best regards, and to my fellow artists, a productive year for 2013!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Cthulhu Christmas Carol

Just finished this new mini comic:

A Cthulhu Christmas Carol minicomic is complete! You can read it here for free, and if you’d like to own your own copy, it’s only $2.00(shipping included). Email me at jesse.acosta(At) and ill send you a Paypal invoice for this minicomic!
Hope you all enjoy my Christmas tale, have a wonderful holiday! All the best in the year 2013!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Little Con of Horrors

I'm setting up at The Little Con of Horrors at Spokane Community College in #Spokane right now. 10am-4pm enjoy our first Halloween & Comic Convention!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

24 Hour Comics Day

I was invited the night before to attend a 24 Hour Comics Day at Adventures Underground in Richland, WA yesterday. Unfortunately it was too last minute for me to stick around the whole time, but I did stay about three hours. I met some nice people, and that was my main goal. One girl had a really great cartoony/video game style that reminded me of Sonic the Hedgehog or Pokemon. I didn’t catch her name though, so fail on my part. I also met J James McFarland who I actually went to high school with. Bizarre, because we both moved away from the second largest city in Washington State to the Tri Cities, which is quite smaller and more rural. Since I didn’t plan on doing a 24Hr comic, I figured I’d play with an eight page mini comic I’ve wanted to do for a long time about the fairy tale, “The Cobble & The Elves.” I drew three pages while I was there, but this was the only one I completed. I’m also thinking if I keep it, I’ll redo panel one. I was really going for a silly cartoon style with sloppy inks. I was pretty pleased with showing without words that the cobbler was working through the night with the burning candle. Not sure when I’ll hop back on this project, but here’s a good start.

Here's also a sketch I did a month ago, kept forgetting to scan it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

More sketches

A few sketches from today and yesterday that I didn't share with the previous blog. General Mills' Monster Cereals are my favorite sign Halloween is near. Frankenberry is my favorite, but Count Chocula is also rad. Anyway, did a few sketches of them, and of DJ Lance Rock from Yo Gabba Gabba.

Count Chocula


DJ Lance Rock

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sketch Dump October 10 2012

Hello all! Ive been busy with a move to another city, and my computer setup isn't quite ready. But I finally had time to scan in some sketches I've done over the past few weeks. Mostly Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stuff, and a couple Megaman sketches.



Krang's 80s android body




Friday, September 7, 2012

Latest sketches

I haven't been sharing much recently, so I better show I'm still alive. I'm working on some comic stuff, most prominently Backyard Wrasslers and Capoeira Hermit Crab Hero Twins. Backyard Wrasslers is a fun strip format, and I have about four more strips in the inking process. BW is about kids who start their own kids neighborhood wrestling league for the summer. I'm having a lot of fun thinking about it. I can't wait to get a bit more done. I'm planning on making a 24 page teaser mini comic to introduce readers. It will not be a weekly/monthly web comic. I don't like stamping schedules upon myself. I'm moving soon, and my internet/computer access will be super iffy for a while.

I'm enjoying drawing the kids quite a bit in this comic. I'm really trying to go with a retro vibe too.

Toddler Mutant Ninja Turtle. TMNT fever has struck me again, 20 years later. I've been collecting the IDW new series since it started last year, and now I'm anticipating the new Nickelodeon TMNT series. I'm a little weirded out by the voices. Donatello is voiced by one of the Animaniacs, that's slightly jarring. Oddly though, Michelangelo is voiced by the actor who did Beast Boy in Teen Titans, and I'm not phased at all by this. They are really pushing the "teen" in TMNT, so these guys really feel 16. I love the animation so far, looks great. I've also been purchasing the new toys to display. The new toys are great sculpts, lots of fine details.

Lastly, I'm fooling with a TMNT homage/spoof. Thinking of making a 12 page story about these twin mutant hermit crabs. Hoping to choose a new mini comic project soon, and get cracking. I think this one would be a big sale at conventions. Who doesn't love mutant hermit crabs who know capoeira?

So that's what's going on with me. I also have another project I'm working with someone on, but that's hush hush for the moment.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dream Jobs

I think we all dream of dream projects we would give anything to work for. I'd like to share mine, and the reasons why I would love to work on them.

Pirates of Dark Water was a cartoon series in 1991. Imagine Star Wars meets Treasure Island. Oh did I love this series. Unfortunately it only ran 21 episodes. The series even turned into a Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo game. A mini series was also published by Marvel comics. I would love to retell this, but complete the story. It's sad that it is frozen in an unfinished tale.

Doug was a great show from my childhood. It was like a 1990s era Archie. A kid who goes to junior high, maybe high school, and goes through all things boys that age go through. He's also a comic geek, and writes and draws his own hero, Quail Man. I honestly think this would be a really great digest comic that could rival Archie. I think Disney owns the rights to Doug now, and they own Marvel Comics. It could come to fruition. Marvel/Disney, are you reading this?

Thundarr was a cartoon series in the early 1980s. It falls somewhere between Conan, Star Wars, and Kamandi. It's an apocalyptic future earth where "super science and fantastic magic" both reign supreme. Thundarr carries the powerful Sun Sword (light saber like), and he is friends to a princess with magic, and Ookla the Mok (wookie).

Only Pirates of Dark Water ever made it to a comic format, but all these would be perfect for the format. A more serious Thundarr would be perfect. Just look at what wonders Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord did for Conan in Dark Horse! Comics is a perfect medium to keep a loved cartoon series alive.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Comics Process Part 3 - Lettering

Welcome back. If you haven't been following, part one is here, and two is here. I hope you find these useful, and always, if you have questions feel free to ask.

Well, first and foremost, I finished my newest mini comic, an all ages story about a Shaolin monk who must save the village from a wild ogre. The comic is totally free to read online at

The book will also be in print and can either be purchased in my Etsy store (soon), and at any future comic conventions until copies run out.

Shaolin Monk cover!
So now on to the comics process. Every mini comic I take on, I try to work on a couple key points to expand my chops. The two big things for this book were environments and lettering by hand. Last comic was a little background-light, so I really pushed it for this book. As for that, I don't think I need to go into much detail. As in part one, I found a lot of reference photos to use for locations in the comic.

But lettering, that's what I'd like to talk about. As I've heard countless times in Jessica Abel interviews and lectures, hand lettering can make a world of difference. Also, in my portfolio review a few months back, this statement was also reiterated. Word balloons, dialogue boxes, sound effects, they are all a significant part of the art as a whole. They shouldn't deter from the art, they shouldn't be an eye sore, they should be integrated. Hand inked sequential art can clash against streamlined perfectly smooth vector balloons and fonts.

If you know much about lettering though, it's all about laying out an ames guide, ruling out lines, and creating word balloons with french curves. My art style doesn't express complete perfection, and I was looking for a quicker turn around for lettering. So I came up with an alternative approach: creating the balloons and text digitally, then printing them as non photo blue, and inking it by hand. This way you get a lot of precision, while still getting the uneven individuality of every letter by hand. Interestingly too, even though I'm going over a certain font, my own hand gestures make it in. The outcome is a blend of my own handwriting, a touch of varying line-weight, and slightly reminiscent of the original font.

The most important thing is the tool for inking the balloons and letters. I choose the Pentel Sign Pen SES15. The tip is pretty rad, it has a lot of give to it, but it's not uncontrollable like a brush pen can be. They are pretty awesome tools. The one trouble I have with them is that they don't seem to be waterproof. That leaves marker coloring and watercolors on top of inks to be slightly a messy situation.

Here is a comparison between my hand lettering, vs the digital fonts and vector balloons I made. Click on it to zoom in, and compare. I think it's not bad for my first attempt at this method. I also really dig the brush style letters, it feels very calligraphic. It's fitting for a story about a Shaolin monk.

This page is my digital lettering, colored in non-photo blue (Cyan 7%). I scaled the letters at 200% larger than the size it will be in the printed book. I printed it on bristol, then started to ink.

Here's what I came up with. I scanned it in, and placed it over my finished pages, and that's it!

I really like this outcome. If anything, I think the brushwork was a little thicker than I planned. Next time, I'll try printing the balloons out at 225% - 250%, thus making my signpen lines a touch smaller.

Have any of you tried out this method before? It saved me time, while giving me some nice unique letters and balloons. It really matched the book.

Friday, August 3, 2012


Today I thought I would have a brief blog about sketchbooks. As a comic artist, or any type of artist really, I believe you should have a sketchbook on hand at all times. I also believe you should be drawing often in these books. Just let artistic diarrhea take place. Just eject whatever without filter. Mimic an illustration you saw, perhaps you are impressed by the location you're at and what to draw it. As a comic artist, I see all sorts of things that I'd like to incorporate one day into my comics. This could be a unique tree, or the interesting skyline, or perhaps an old beat up pay phone. As a comic artist, you draw everything, even if it's not too exciting. You have to be able to convey an entire story, not just two guys in spandex punching each other. This is why you should be ready at a moment's notice to draw whatever intrigues you.

But if you really work like this, your sketchbooks will pile up. I know some people think it's sacrilege to toss sketch books. I honestly believe after two or three years, scan through the books, keep pages that interest you, and toss the rest. I have one exception though: childhood art. I still have a couple sketchbooks and comics from my youth, and I hold onto them dearly. They are a glimpse into my child self. Anything before 18 I think are really gems, and I'm so glad to still have a few things. Not only do I see a growth, but I also see what has stayed the same. I'm still making comics, at age 10 or 30. I still have ridiculous stories of fantasy and science fiction.

Another alternative is to scan your sketchbooks. It is the digital age, an external harddrive is smaller than a room full of sketches.

One last thought about sketchbooks. Always date the sketchbook. Occasionally date the art in there as well, just for a reference of when you drew it.

Friday, July 27, 2012

American Red Cross Donation 1

Hello! Because of my initial Etsy sketch of Batman to raise funds for American Red Cross Colorado Chapter, someone special contacted me for a personal commission. They asked for a Batman with Catwoman sketch, and I was excited to do it for them:

I sent the illustration out today, and I also transferred the $25 proceeds to the American Red Cross. I took a screen grab of the donation here:

I'm still hoping Batman will sell as well, it's still available here:

Also, another person contacted me about a Robin and Batman commission. This too will be used to raised funds for the American Red Cross. As a comic fan, artist, and avid movie goer, I'm doing what I can to help those in need. Art can change lives, and I know it makes my life better.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Batman Illustration being sold to collect donations

Selling this 5x7 Batman sketch on Etsy. Proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross Colorado Chapters to assist with the victims of the tragic shooting in Aurora, CO. Please reblog, share, and retweet to get the word out.

5x7 marker and pen illustration on bristol board

Illustration will arrive to you in an archival sleeve for protection.
If this sells as quickly as I hope, I will try to make at least one or two more illustrations in the coming weeks to also help raise donations. If you can, please share my Etsy link on your social media site of choice! Thanks!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lion-O of Thundercats

On Sunday, I spent the evening at Starbucks sipping an expensive chai and drawing Lion-O from Thundercats:

5"x7" bristol board, pencils and prismacolor pens (Not favoring them much anymore. They aren't as black and bold as I'd prefer).

Afterward, I wanted to color this guy up in Photoshop for the heck of it, and this was the result. The actual bristol sketch will be colored with prismacolor markers and colored pencils. I've been reading about people mixing the two mediums and making amazing results. The final piece will pop up in my Etsy Shop. If you are interested in a commission, let me know! I'm willing to do something like this, or anything else you'd have in mind!

This also leads me into my next point of interest. I have applied for an artist table at Emerald City Comicon again! I haven't been in nearly three years. It's March 1-3, so I have plenty of time to save for the event. This is why I am promoting commissioned work right now. Everything is being packed away for the trek to ECCC in Seattle. So, if you want some art, I can hook you up!