Friday, November 18, 2011

Chessmen a caricature of 800-year-old society

Chess pieces were an allegory of the social order in the 12th Century and each of these chessmen is a wonderful caricature. As an editorial cartoonist, I am really drawn to this wonderful artifact from the past.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Obama Blames Excess, Bankers Get out of Jail, Pass Go and Get $200 Bazzillion dollars

These days, I read the newspaper and shake my head. In his Martin Luther King memorial dedication speach, Obama said: “Dr. King would want us to challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing those who work there.”

Really? This is the change-agent everyone voted for?

So it's not about who needs to be held to account; who the government hasn't even bothered to investigate yet, let alone prosecute. It's not about fixing the hole in the dike that was opened by ill-conceived Congressional legislation in the first place. "Excesses" are the culprit. Gee, what are we going to do about those?

Let's keep on treating the symptom (unemployment) and not the disease. Let's let capitalism and the middle class waste away from a cancer within why don't we. We can continue to play politics with the few thousand jobs government is capable of creating and bury our heads in the sand like ostriches. We can console ourselves by dutifully repeating after Ben Bernanke in responsive reading and hope that Wall Street excesses are a thing in the past. The last thing we want to do is inconvenience or point fingers at people who work on Wall Street. Surely they see the error of their ways.

Really? This is Mr. Hope?

More like Bob Hope.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, and buried on page 4, Medicare yanks licenses and gives them right back.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dirty Minds in Charge

The image on the left has been making the rounds on the Web.
The image on the right is the way I saw it.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Henry Ford was no Steve Jobs

Henry Ford (left) invented the assembly line, Harely Earl started America's love affair with the car.

Over the last few days, I have heard one talking head after another compare Steve Jobs to Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. I'll agree with the Edison comparison, but Henry Ford? This shows how little, even to this day, the business press and business leaders understand Jobs' contributions to Apple and the world.

If you want to compare the evolution of digital devices and automobiles then Henry Ford was similar to Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM. True, by inventing the assembly line, Ford made automobiles affordable for the masses, and Jobs designed a computer for everyday people, but even that analogy is a stretch because Ford's automobiles were manufactured as strictly utilitarian transportation machines.

Jobs' was focused on revolutionizing computers for everyone by making them user friendly. He took, what was universally regarded as a utilitarian device and made it a playful and intuitive creative tool. No, if you want to look for a game-changer like Jobs in the automobile world, then consider Harley Earl the head of GM Design in the 1940s and '50s, who is generally recognized as the father of automotive design.

At the time Earl joined GM, Ford was the dominant automaker. All cars were manufactured with few variations, and any upgrades or innovations were made by engineers on the assembly line. Earl changed all that by convincing GM President Alfred P. Sloan that design should come first. GM Design ultimately became the company's most powerful division, dictating manufacturing and marketing strategies for all GM brands. Earl's many innovations, style initiatives and flamboyant marketing techniques made GM the largest automaker in the world, and started America's love affair with the car.

America waited with baited breath for GM to roll out the new body-style every couple of years, just like they do for Apple to announce the Next Big Thing today. Henry Ford on the other hand, once rather famously said, "People can have the Model T in any color — so long as it is black."

I wrote a feature article about Harley Earl in 2007. You can download a pdf file of the article and learn more about him by clicking here.

Read more of my feature articles here.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

I blog about this cartoon, which I did for the Palm Beach Daily News in October of 1993, in this week's Cartoonistry column. It's all about some of the reasons other than Halloween that people tend to get the creeps in October. I guarantee you that, by the end of the article, you'll be feeling a little paranoid. Bouahahahahaha!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jobs was great because he understood that we all create

O.K., I think it's great that ArtInfo called Steve Jobs the DaVinci of design and then set about to list 7 Ways Steve Jobs Changed the Visual Arts Forever, but they blew it when they used the premise just to name-drop a list of trendy contemporary digital artists. Steve Jobs (and Steve Wozniak) actually gave us the greatest art tool since the brush.

I remember first learning about the new pixel painting and font programs of the Mac in 1984, when business magazines were full of articles pooh-poohing the usefulness of computers for the everyday consumer and the idea that desktop computers would ever catch on. "They're just glorified adding machines," was a common refrain, "few people will spend $2,500 to own one."

The two Steves, however, understood that human beings are innately creative. Give them a way to map a screen and save a file in pixels; give them the ability to see typefaces, images, white space and a whole page exactly the way it would come out of the printer, and they would create.

A screen shot from MacPaint

The original programming behind these innovations was developed at the PARC research division of Xerox, along with the mouse and other things. But the two Steves, took these principles and made the connection to you and I when they introduced the first computer for all of us ... the Mac. The first art programs that were ever made available to consumers came pre-installed.

I started producing digital art at this time, along with a lot of other professional and amateur artists. We came to realize, very quickly, that the computer was emerging as the most powerful and versatile art implement ever invented ... far from just a glorified adding machine.

Though I have since come to miss the tactile sense of a brush and am wary of mental shortcut habits that I have developed using computers as an artist, I still believe the digitizing of art is universe-altering ... a creative space that doesn't exist within the boundaries of reality, yet is capable of addressing the mind through all our senses. After all, digital technology is still in its infancy. We have no idea where it will lead. Well, perhaps one man does: Steve Jobs. I hope he remains with us for a while longer yet.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Deficit Attention Disorder

My cartoon in yesterday's Palm Beach Daily News.

The only possible excuse the GOP and Dems can give for their missed opportunities and posturing is, "It must have been the heat." Otherwise, we'd all be convinced that this risky and deleterious right-up-to-the-last-possible-instant debt ceiling brouhaha was about maneuvering for the greatest campaign advantage with the least political fallout.

The harsh reality is that, even if and when they do reach a deal, we're still left with a jobs vacuum, unfair trade practices championed by our own major corporations, mounds of debt, budget-busting entitlement liabilities, governments worldwide that can only move in the direction of austerity, a broken banking system, worthless property rights, valueless currency and a dysfunctional and obviously compromised Congress dominated by two private clubs that are forever scrapping for the largest part of a rotting slice of pie.

How they can continue to call this a "recovery" is beyond me, or any of the rest of the American public. But they obviously don't seem to understand that we're onto them or, in their hubris, don't care.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nothing Fuzzy about this retelling

Fuzzy NationFuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thought I'd found another great writer in John Scalzi. I'd read the Old Man's War Series, The Android's Dream, even Biz Agent to the Stars and couldn't get enough. But then I saw his latest offering. My first reactions was to think, what kind of a nitwit would decided to retell H. Beam Piper's classic original Fuzzy tale like some jazzed up movie remake? But I read it anyway. I like Scalzi's work that much.

Boy was I rewarded with a great tale. It is a more scathing and in-depth indictment of today's corporate culture than the movie Avatar. And Scalzi's protagonist Jack Hollaway is one of the strongest characters I've read in years — more devious and edgier than Slippery Jim diGriz.

I definitely recommend that readers overcome any misgivings they have about changes to Piper's classic and read it. And, you can bet that I'll be looking for the next thing by Scalzi out in print.

View all my reviews

A good book

Is there any other kind by Gene Wolfe?

The Knight (The Wizard Knight, #1)The Knight by Gene Wolfe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wolfe is a unique writer. Especially in this series. He not so much tells you the story as lets you discover it through eavesdropping on the conversations between his characters. Very little descriptive scene building, no exposition ... he forces your unconscious mind to supply all of this between the lines. Thus, one becomes deeply and inextricably engaged.

The way Wolfe is extolled as today's penultimate literary genius in the cover blurbs on his novels might put some readers off. But he lives up to it.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Can Trump actually drive a pacecar?

Donald Trump was asked to drive the Pace Car at Indianapolis (see Many people are wondering, can he even drive? Funny. I actually touched on this subject when I was sketching out ideas for a daily cartoon strip about Palm Beach back in the ’90s. One of the characters, Ronald Rex, was based on Trump.

CLick the image to see it larger.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pixar takes a ‘Brave’ new direction

Pixar has never shied away from taking artistic risks with either their groundbreaking animation or the emotional depth of their stories. It looks like they are at it again.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Collection of earlier B&W editorial cartoons up on my portfolio

From 1992 through 2001 all of the editorial cartoons that I did for the Palm Beach Daily News were hand rendered in Lamp Black watercolor. After that, I have done them as digital illustrations using paint software and a WACOM tablet. I have just added a group of example cartoons from the black & white period to my portfolio. The art has its own unique quality and there were also some great stories during this period. Check it out.

Editorial Cartoons (the black & white years) on the Behance Network

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The new Chevy Vortex concept car

Chevrolet CEO Daniel Akerson announced the new Chevy Vortex concept car that has a propulsion system that doubles as a wind power generator.

Not really, but I like the blog this image came from.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Great use of cartooning

This is a great use of cartooning as illustration to add an extra dimension of understanding to a complex topic. This particular RSAnimate presentation is also very pertinent to the role that social networking is playing in toppling autocrats and dictators right now.

RSA is the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce an historic organization that has been at the forefront of applied science for 250 years.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Madame Peripetie on the Behance Network

I joined the Behance Network in order to build a new portfolio of my work. But I have come to realize that the site is probably the best place to discover amazing talent from all over the world. Here is a perfect example, some work entitled Dream-sequence from German photographer, Madame Peripetie.

Click this link to visit Dream-sequence on the Behance Network

Monday, January 24, 2011

Confabulous Digital Art

I love it when art forces the viewer's mind to perceive new realities and invent new contexts. Everything is familiar about this, and nothing.

Circular Confabulation from QNQ/AUJIK on Vimeo.

More work from New Age proto-Shinto video motion graphics group QNQ/AUJIK can be found their Web site.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My new online portfolio...

Apple ceased supporting remote Homepages hosting which I had been using for my online portfolio, so I looked around for an alternative and found Behance, a form-based portfolio builder connected to a community including social networking applications. Great!

I've done a lot of widely varied types of work, from graphic design, to illustration, to photomontage, to creative direction, to editing and writing ... both in advertising and publishing ... so, it took me a while to redo all of the various sections. But it's nearly done. Take a look.

About the only thing left to post are samples from 18 years of editorial cartooning for the Palm Beach Daily News.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Fast facts on an historic (West) Palm Beach Home

Photo: Palm Beach County Historical Society

This photo of my great-grandfather, George Wells Potter's, home was featured in a recent Palm Beach Daily News article as an example of early Palm Beach architecture from the period just prior to Henry M. Flagler's arrival. It is actually one of the best examples of the work of George W. Lainhart, who built many of the early Palm Beach homes in the 1880's and '90s. But it was not built on Palm Beach island.

The caption under the Palm Beach County Historical Society photo is correctly dated as being taken in 1893. That was the year that George Potter married Ella May Dimick and built her a new home on the other side of Lake Worth, in West Palm Beach, after selling his 160 acre Palm Beach homestead. It sat on a ridge about 150 yards up from the shore, overlooking the lake. The Trump Towers occupy the location today.

It was also the year that George Potter and George Lainhart founded the Lainhart & Potter Building Materials Company. Potter's new house was their first project. They built a tramway nearby to offload the materials. and that tramway served the new company when they took on their next job; providing lumber and materials for Henry Flagler's Royal Poinciana Hotel.

I remember this house well. I visited my great grandmother Ella there many times as a child. Right at the entrance, in the foyer, was a large display case filled with a museum-quality shell collection that fascinated my sister and I. All of the shells were lined up on wide shelves and labeled with their scientific names.

My grandmother was born in this house and grew up in it. She would often speak of watching Flagler's Whitehall being built across the lake when she was five years old from the third floor dormer room windows as she played with her dolls.

The house and property remained in the family after my great-grandmother died, but sat empty on the lakefront for a good decade before it was torn down sometime around 1967. Over the years, the property had become increasingly valuable due to waterfront development and the taxes were eating my father and his sister alive. They had two choices, either sell the property or develop it and sell it for more later.

Unfortunately, there was no interest in the historical value of the home at the time.

My father, an architect, decided to develop the property with a motel that he designed himself. I was with him and my grandfather as we cleared the house of remaining furniture and fixtures before it was to be demolished. Up in one of the dormer rooms, my grandfather leaned on a closet wall and it fell through to reveal a secret storage area filled with china.

I was standing by my dad's side, watching, as the old house was torn down. I'll never forget how he laughed when the wrecking ball literally bounced off of the house. The demolition company had to call in heavier equipment to tear it down and it took them much longer than expected. The house was made out of Dade County Pine which has a sap that turns into a composite-like material with age ... harder than concrete. The corner posts were made out of 8" X 8"s, and the walls were framed with 4" X 4"s.

They don't build them like that anymore.