Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Great Atlanta Toy Show

- Frankenstein by Ben Boling
- Robots by Buddy Finethy
- Orange crowd scene and
robot by Brad McGinty

I have had the pleasure of first just helping and then partnering with my pal Buddy Finethy and now David Lane and the rest of the core Atlanta GI Joe club to put on JOElanta the biggest GI Joe & Action Figure show coming close to rivaling the national GI Joe show.
Starting in 2005 Buddy and I conceived a plan to put together a quarterly Toy shows in town since the only other general toy show went bust some years earlier. Not being satisfied to just find a venue, create promotional materials, find a variety of different dealers and then just open the doors we both agreed that there needed to be more "show" to entertain our patrons. Carrying on the JOElanta tradition of unveiling a great new diorama at each show a number were created over the year and a half and 4 shows we did. Each show also had a concept to them with costumed guests.
Our 1st show happened to be on the same day as the quarterly comic book show on Super Bowl Sunday 2005 and was a huge success. The concept was that of an "Antiques Roadshow" for toys with various dealers designated as experts by large signs. This concept that was written about in an article by the AJC brought droves of folks in with treasures pulled out from attics and basements. They had their choice of GI Joe, Hot Wheels, Barbie, Star Wars/Transformers and a few others. Everyone was greeted at the door by a life size fiberglass Spiderman and had a great time!
Show #2 was our STAR WARS show that coincided with the release of with a special "Jedi Jam" room including: a hilarious performance from improvisational group "DAD's Garage" with various characters from STAR WARS films, a how to draw your favourite cartoon characters by Kyle of Galactic Quest comic stores, various fan films and more! The main room had plenty of dealers, a display from show sponsor LEGO, a photographer taking shots with ominous looking Darth Vader impersonator Vader Painter(see me next to him in an earlier post on this blog) and numerous storm troopers meandering about. The shows diorama was a scene from Los Isles space port.
Show #3 went in another direction with "Monster Mayhem" featuring an emphasis on monster and horror toys. Packed with everything from posters to CREEPY magazines to all types of monster toys the shows patrons were again wowed by the diorama.
Our last Great Atlanta show took place on May 21st and was just a plain old toy show. The diorama at this one was "Zombie attack" a weired look at tons of mutant zombies chasing folks around town.
All in all they were great fun and we are still asked to do more of them to this day although our emphasis over the last few years has been to put all our efforts to growing JOElanta to benefit the Cody Lane Foundation and have a Toy and Diorama Museum, a place where people of all walks of life can come and see all these marvelous works of art (Dioramas) and check out tons of toys.

Friends of THWAK - Richard Parks

Here's another one of the many talented artist/writers that I have run into over the years. Richard Parks has been drawing for many years in a variety of styles, including the very time consuming stippling technique. His artwork appeared in THWAK #1 & 2 and most recently in the "THWAK Bonfire of Insanity Collection" trade paperback.

I first became acquainted with Richard while I was building up my MAD collection in the mid 90's , before e.bay collectors would send around their "for sale lists". Anyhow I purchased some things from him at that point. Then later on found out that he was contributing to the MAD fanzine MADlog MindSnack. Richard was one of the first artists I met that went out and self published his own book, and was nice enough to systematically explain how he did it. The results of his efforts is the collection above that is filled with a hilarious look at some very unorthodox ways of using condoms for "other" purposes. E.mail him at to get your copy.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Unused MAD & THWAK covers

Check out my buddy Marty Hirchak (Pop Art Funnies)(right - not sure who other guy is) set up at Motor City Comic Con in Detroit. Marty used to be a billboard sign painter and so he is used to painting very large pieces.
In the background is a MAD submission that although was never used did end up in the "Alfred We Hardly Knew Thee" exhibit put on by John Hett (Journal of MADness).
The THWAK painting would have been the cover to THWAK #7. It depicts Stupid Cupid being attacked by a variety of animals.
Check out THWAK #1 & 2 on Marty's table.

Unused THWAK comic cover

Sometime just after the THWAK comic book came out we initially were going to put out additional issues. This is a mock up of what the cover was to look like. It was a play on the "For Dummies" series of books. This one was to be "Etiquette For Dummies". The Victorian matronly looking woman was actually taken from a public domain turn of the century engraving illustration plate. Stupid Cupid was rendered by me.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Regular Guys

It's strange how sometimes things present themselves to you and they seem like a good idea at the time but when they don't work out, you know it's for the best.
I came across such a project back in 2004 after my friend Buddy Finethy called local Atlanta 96 Rock radio station and mentioned to super popular Larry & Eric (The Regular Guys) that his friend was an editor at CRACKED magazine. This immediately caught their interest and negotiations started for a "Regular Guys" magazine. With my many contacts to a variety of artists (some more riske in nature than others), a friend who was in magazine advertising and a distribution plan we put together a dummy copy and a meeting was had with "The Guys".
They loved the idea of a visual humor mag with interviews, room to sell their merchandise, and finally a centerfold type girl of the month. As fate would have it, the day before they were to sign a contract greenlighting the project they got themselves kicked off the air for an unfortunate dubbing error while interviewing a porn star.
As I mentioned, earlier when this whole thing fell through (and the money was good, real good) I didn't give it a second thought, knowing full well that I had in some way been saved from compromising my own ideals.
It was fun to put together, like all projects are. Above are some images that accompanied the dummy copy. The Mic was to be a mascot of sorts, caricatures of Larry & Eric and border art were all done by artist Ben Boling. The cover rough was done by Buddy Finethy.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Don Martin Envelope Art

Back around late 1999 I had the opportunity to correspond briefly with (in my humble opinion) the best most wildly insane artist at MAD - Don Martin. Having been my hero since childhood it was truly a treat to be able to correspond with him via his wife Norma. At the time he was already in very poor health and unfortunately passed away in early 2000.

At the time I was contributing to the Journal of MADness magazine, a publication which the Martin's received regularly. At that time I learned of a puzzle project which just saw the light of day late Dec 2007. Check out my next post.

In 2007 I again had the opportunity to correspond with Norma Martin. Hence the wide variety of envelope art. Enjoy

Monday, May 18, 2009

Johnny West and his compadres at JOElanta

Here are a couple of pictures from this weekend's JOElanta '09 Toy Show. These include a variety of vintage Marx Johnny West and the Best Of The West line from the mid '60's-mid 70's. They are set up around the Sheriff's building from last years "Killer Mine" old ghost town diorama. The figure in a box and the Clint Eastwood figure behind my own custom tracker are from Circle X Ranch. These guys are the "new" Marx toys and do a fantastic job of putting out some quality product reminiscent of the vintage feel.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

JOElanta posters and postcards

As you can see there have been a wide variety of pretty iconic images that various artists have rendered for Joelanta over the years. Many 1000's of these have been passed out and sent all over the country. Come to the show, get on the mailing list and we'll send you one next year!

JOElanta 2009 Convention pin

Check out the exclusive pin for this years JOElanta Toy show. It measures 2 x 1.5 inches and is actually the 1st time we are doing a pin. I think it literally came from a slow boat from China : )
Come check out the show this Sun 17th from 10-4pm at the Marriot on Clairmont rd right off of I-85. Special events taking place Sat 16th.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Unused MAD magazine cover

A great example of a terrific painting by Steve Boswick of PLAYBOY magazine. This cover appeared on the back cover to The Journal of MADness (JOM) # 8.
A great Halloween theme by an artist who appeared quite regularly within the pages of The JOM. Notice the attention to detail in the wood grain on the door- SUPER !

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Friends of THWAK - Mike Arnold

As I've mentioned time and again I have been so fortunate to have worked with some great individuals who also happen to be super talented. While working at CRACKED I met a new comer to the contributors who quickly showed his versatility and drive by not only illustrating and writing various pieces but also in starting the CRACKED message boards.

Mike Arnold has been involved in all aspects of the industry having worked at Sesame Street for a number of years, doing studio work, caricatures, magazine & book illustrations, logo designs, story boards and more. Just check out the above illos for a small taste or go to

Mike also collaborated with me on the JOKESTER project which we put out jointly and most recently layed out the THWAK Bonfire of Insanity Collection trade paperback.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Early THWAK flier

When we initially published the comic book we set up a variety of signings around town from Comic shops to Bookstores. This particular flier was for a signing at Atlanta's best Comic Store. Oxford comics not only has all the latest comic books, but large Anime, Independent and Graphic novel sections as well as tons of cool toys. Check 'em out if you haven't already been there.
BTW we obviously out of our minds when the text for this piece was written : )

Extra "Apple"

This one illustration never made it on "The Apple Through History" double page spread (see a couple of posts earlier). It wasn't so much that I didn't like the way it turned out but that I ran out of space and I had roughly covered that time period (at least within a millenia : ) ) with the Egyptian illo.
Here David is about "to do battle" with Goliath.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Friends of THWAK - Buddy Finethy - The Wizard

Here's an example of a Mellow Mushroom Christmas card done by Art Director Buddy Finethy. Over the years Buddy's art has become synonymous with the Mellow Mushroom Pizza Restaurant appeal. His work appears on everything from menus, calendars, murals, mugs, and just about everything else in between

Buddy also happens to be one of my best friends and as we share so many common interests in art, toys and pop culture over the years we have collaborated on a number of different ventures from the THWAK comic book, JOElanta, The Great Atlanta Toy Show, articles for Master Collector (the GI Joe Club's newsletter and magazine) and more.

Check out Buddy's blog

The Apple Through History

Here's a fun double page spread from the THWAK comic book where I explored how William Tell shooting the apple off a Page's head might not have been the first or the last time that someone attempted this act.

Tennis Logo

Here's a quick logo illustration I did recently for a kids tennis program. Check it out

Friends of THWAK - Marty Hirchak

One great thing about small press is the fact that there is so much great talent out there and the collaborations are often truly amazing as they're done for support, encouragement and the love of the project. THWAK has been truly blessed in this way for the many great artists and writers who have not only contributed over the years but have also helped promote the project.
One such individual is Marty Hirchak. A permanent fixture on the Detroit arts scene Marty's murals, billboards, comix and spot illustrations can be seen all over this busy city as well as his band "The Smarties" a punk/rockabilly outfit . In early 2001 as the 1st THWAK magazine sized issue was being conceived I received some submissions from 2 arts with very different styles. One of which was Marty Hirchak (the other, Billy Genius - but more about him later) whose style just echoed a kind of nostalgic feel mixed with a very "Pop culture" vibe. Incidentally both these artists came to my attention through my buddy John Hett (The Journal of MADness) when he met them at the Motor City Comic Con.
Marty's work fit well with the varied styles I was looking for and his work has been in every issue of THWAK, including the new trade paperback and JOKESTER. Encouraged by the possibility of self publishing one's own work Marty started his own title POP ART FUNNIES in the fall/winter of 2003. With an excellent approach Marty decided to give back to the comic reader and started his run of books with only a 10c cover price. This coupled with advertising from local establishments enabled him to build a very loyal following around the country. Issue #1 had a print run of 2000 but as subsequent issues came out the cover price eeked it's way upwards and print runs went into the 10,000 range. Starting at 10 c, 12 c, 15 c, 25 c, 50 c, $1, $2 and finally $3 many of these issues are now highly collectible selling at $10 -$15.
Marty introduced many of his long term characters in this series like Sonny Boy, Wally, Super Bull and more in these pages and occasionally included some guest appearances by other artists including myself in issue #4.
In early 2008 I had the opportunity to finally meet Marty after collaborating and communicating for the past 7 years. I was there in Detroit to attend the Alfred E. Neuman exhibit and Marty's art exhibit that he put together that included many prominent artist from the city. It was great to see him and hang out. More pics to come.
Currently Marty is working on another issue and a future trade paperback is in the works. Anyone interested in finding out how to get ahold of these comics please contact me.
Long live underground comics!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Some things ya just gotta do twice!

What can I say, I've always loved Dinosaurs and who doesn't think that the T-Rex is one mean ominous predator? The idea for this gag was originally conceived on some scrap paper while I was visiting my parents in the '80's when they lived in Saudi Arabia. It went through a few redrawings until it finally appeared in print on the back of the THWAK comic book. All my contributions to that issue were under the Organized Chaos banner. (I always liked the logo for that. Notice how organized is a clean readable clean font where chaos is a little wilder). The piece was colored by Brad McGinty who layed that issue out.
While at CRACKED it was redrawn and was to appear in issue #366 which unfortunately never happened so it was included in JOKESTER in 2005. I like them both, although seeing them side by side I wish the 2nd one could have been colored.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Southern Fried Comics final cover

Here's the final cover as it appeared when published. Notice that the logo changed to a crispy batter fried look. The concept behind this particular book was to not only showcase the local talent but to really make fun of some of our Southern ways. From food to highways to restaurants to urban myths - we kind of tackled it all!

Color splash HOGZILLA page

Strangely cool splash page from Mark Stancil (Terminus Media) and Ben Boling's 8 page HOGZILLA story from Southern Fried Comics. The original was printed in black & white but was redone for a possible future color version.