Friday, January 28, 2011

Sketch Night at the Opera

Last night I had the good fortune of being able to doodle during a dress rehearsal of the Minnesota Opera's Mary Stuart at the Ordway Center. I was invited by Tempo and the Black Hat Collective, and was part of a group of about fifteen cartoonists who tried to visually capture the opera. Our little group must have looked strange from the stage, fifteen dark-clad cartoonists scribbling madly under a haze of blue booklights, our rapt silence broken only by paper rustling or the occasional pencil dropping on the floor.

I haven't done any life drawing since college, when I spent a ridiculous amount of time drawing in coffee shops and around campus, drawing people who either didn't notice me sketching them or didn't care. This guerilla sketching style forced me to get used to drawing people who moved around a lot, resulting in distorted or fractured drawings like this one:


The actors in last night's opera, however, moved around significantly more than someone sitting in a coffee shop, so it was a major challenge trying to capture a pose. Because of this, my first sketches of the night are kind of a mess:

[ Click for larger versions of each pic ]






Realizing that I didn't want to end the night with a jumble of frantic half-drawn sketches, I decided to try a blend of life drawing and imagination. I took a mental snapshot of something that happened on stage and stuck with that pose, even while the actors were busy moving around standing in different positions. I also thought it would be fun to incorporate lines from the opera, translations of which were conveniently shown on a screen above the stage. So here's the result of the less-lifelike, more imaginative set:










A note on materials: These were drawn on 80 lb Strathmore drawing paper (the sketchbook with the brown cover) and I used sepia Pitt brush pens for the linework and Copic markers for the tones and color.

The only downside of the night is that I spent so much time focused on drawing that I failed to grasp exactly what was happening on stage. But whatever plot was lost to me was made up in a greater appreciation for all the little details in costume and background that I don't usually catch when watching a performance like this. All in all a terrific experience and I highly recommend that other cartoonists jump at the chance to do this should the opportunity come up again.

Thanks to Tempo and the Black Hat folks for allowing us to sneak in and draw for three hours. It was a blast!

Update: MinnPost's Max Sparber wrote a review of "Mary Stuart" and he even mentions our little sketch troupe and includes a photo of yours truly.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth" Book Signing & Party

Zander and I will be signing copies of our newest nonfiction graphic novel, Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth at Big Brain Comics in Minneapolis on Saturday, February 12, 2011, from 4-6pm. Full details below.


[ CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE ]


Written by Jay Hosler, Evolution is an engaging and often humorous look at how life evolved (and continues to evolve) on this planet, as seen through the eyes of an alien narrator. This book is aimed at a high school and college level reader, but can really be enjoyed by anyone. Evolution was released in January to much critical fanfare, including Pharyngula celebrity blogger PZ Myers who wrote:

"Jay Hosler has a new book out . . . and I'm afraid it's going to be required reading for everyone, and you're also all probably going to end up buying multiple copies for gifts. Really, it's that good."

I like the "multiple copies" bit. Anyway, for more information about the book, including where to find two free chapters to read online, click the "Evolution" tab above or just click here.

FULL DETAILS

WHAT: Book signing & party
WHO: Kevin Cannon and Zander Cannon will be signing Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth
DATE: February 12, 2011 (Darwin's 202nd birthday!)
TIME: 4-6pm
WHERE: Big Brain Comics, 1027 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis, MN
WILL THERE BE SNACKS & BOOZE: Yes

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth ... Goes Live!

At long last you can hold in your hands the newest nonfiction graphic novel from me and Zander. Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth is the sequel to The Stuff of Life and was penned by cartoonist, professor, and Office Hours star Jay Hosler.

To centralize things a little, we've created a home base for Evolution. We'll be archiving things like reviews and interviews there, as well as a few high-resolution preview pages so you can impress your friends. Eventually we'll get to all our books, and you'll be able to navigate easily using the tabs above. Oh, technology!

In the meantime, please enjoy these snapshots from a local Barnes & Noble, courtesy of my mom:



DINO-A-DAY #96: Liopleurodon

Welcome to Dino-a-Day, where we'll be highlighting one prehistoric beast per day until the release of our graphic novel Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth on January 4, 2011.

Each of the ninety-six creatures we'll be featuring on this blog are taken from a huge 2-page spread in the middle of Evolution. So while you can see each individual creature here, you'll need to grab the book to see them all together!



NAME: Liopleurodon
PRONUNCIATION: LIE-o-PLOOR-o-don
ORDER: Plesiosauria
EXISTED DURING: Middle–Late Jurassic
DISCOVERED: France, 1873
FUN FACT: Today’s fun fact is that our book is out! Go grab a copy for yourself, and if you’re feeling frisky donate a copy to your local school library!


See all the Dino-a-Days HERE

Purchase
Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth
on Amazon


Source: Wikipedia
Pronunciation: Dinosauria.com

Monday, January 03, 2011

Comix Issue Cover Named One of Ten Best in 2010!

The fine folks over at the Society of Publication Designers have compiled a list of their favorite altweekly covers of 2010, and my recent City Pages cover made the list!



This cover was for the fourth City Pages Comix Issue, an annual event where local creators produce comics around a central theme. 2010's theme was "Declaration of Independents," for which I imagined a scene where a couple of characters are declaring their independence from the funny pages. The "indie" theme was a nod to MIX [Minneapolis Indie Xpo] which launched its inaugural convention this past summer.

You can read more about past issues of the City Pages Comix Issue here.

Thanks for the nod, SPD!

I Want This Hoodie



Thanks to M. Harris at Sheridan College for the kind words and awesome drawing!

DINO-A-DAY #95: Peloneustes

Welcome to Dino-a-Day, where we'll be highlighting one prehistoric beast per day until the release of our graphic novel Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth on January 4, 2011.

Each of the ninety-six creatures we'll be featuring on this blog are taken from a huge 2-page spread in the middle of Evolution. So while you can see each individual creature here, you'll need to grab the book to see them all together!



NAME: Peloneustes
PRONUNCIATION: PEEL-o-NYOOS-teez
ORDER: Plesiosauria
EXISTED DURING: Middle Jurassic
DISCOVERED: England, 1869
FUN FACT: Peloneustes is thought to have mainly dined on ammonites due to the species having fewer, blunter teeth than its cousins.


See all the Dino-a-Days HERE

Purchase
Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth
on Amazon


Source: Wikipedia
Pronunciation: Dinosauria.com

Sunday, January 02, 2011

DINO-A-DAY #94: Ichthyosaurus

Welcome to Dino-a-Day, where we'll be highlighting one prehistoric beast per day until the release of our graphic novel Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth on January 4, 2011.

Each of the ninety-six creatures we'll be featuring on this blog are taken from a huge 2-page spread in the middle of Evolution. So while you can see each individual creature here, you'll need to grab the book to see them all together!



NAME: Ichthyosaurus
PRONUNCIATION: IK-thee-oh-SAWR-us
ORDER: Ichthyosauria
EXISTED DURING: Early Jurassic
DISCOVERED: England, 1822
FUN FACT: Fossils suggest that Ichthyosaurus delivered its young by vivipary (live birth), as opposed to laying eggs.


See all the Dino-a-Days HERE

Purchase
Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth
on Amazon


Source: Wikipedia

Saturday, January 01, 2011

DINO-A-DAY #93: Elasmosaurus

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Welcome to Dino-a-Day, where we'll be highlighting one prehistoric beast per day until the release of our graphic novel Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth on January 4, 2011.

Each of the ninety-six creatures we'll be featuring on this blog are taken from a huge 2-page spread in the middle of Evolution. So while you can see each individual creature here, you'll need to grab the book to see them all together!



NAME: Elasmosaurus
PRONUNCIATION: e-LAS-mo-SAWR-uhs
ORDER: Plesiosauria
EXISTED DURING: Late Cretaceous
DISCOVERED: Kansas, 1868
FUN FACT: Elasmosaurus is featured prominently in the 2005 graphic novel “Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards.” I would say more about it, but you’d be better off purchasing the graphic novel and then buying a few copies for your friends.


See all the Dino-a-Days HERE

Purchase
Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth
on Amazon


Source: Wikipedia
Pronunciation: Dinosauria.com