Powell’s Map – Get you one!

(Oct 22, 2010)

So one of the projects that got thrown in my lap while I have been trying to finish up Americus a couple of weeks ago was an illustration for the back of the new store map at Powell’s. I already threw the image up on the Save Apathea blog a couple of weeks ago, but now that it’s out, I wanted to share it here.

You know what else is awesome? THE MAP IS FUNCTIONAL! If you’ve been to Powell’s in the last five years or so, you’ve noticed that the old, accordion-style maps looked really cool, but they were completely useless helping you get where you needed to go.

Anyhow, here’s some process images of me drawing it up, and then the finished image as a .jpeg since it’s hard to see in the photo above. [Note: I made the image pretty big in case you wanted to look at it in detail.]

It was pretty crazy to draw because I drew it to size – 18 x 24. Coloring it was even more of a task [I think it took me almost two whole days]. It was worth it, though. I’m super happy with it and I hope that people visiting the store have fun looking for all the little jokes and characters that I threw in there.It’s also pretty awesome that it’s a FREE giant 18 x 24 poster of my art!

If you’re in Portland and visiting Powell’s – Get you one!

Behind the scenes

(Oct 09, 2010)

Hey! Sorry I missed last week! I actually have a backlog of subjects for posts, but last Friday I got hit with two pretty big, time consuming projects. I’ll share one of them later this week, but I’ll sit on the other one for a bit [though you might have already seen it if you follow one of the other websites I blog on].

Anyhow, this week is the New York Comic Con. I am not able to make it, but First Second asked me to design a poster promoting Americus for the convention. Like the emblematic image they had me do, it was sort of left up for me to come up with something. MK had suggested that I do the image that is hanging in the library advertising Book VII of the Apathea series.

Being under a somewhat tight deadline, and not having time to brainstorm something else, I thought I’d go with that. Here’s the image I came up with.

The most critiques were having so much brown in it, which I could totally understand. In my head I was trying to go with an old 70’s fantasy poster, but all that brown is a little boring.

Calista, the head-honcho editor on Americus, had some other problems with the image – she didn’t think that the image represented the theme of defending books as well as the emblematic image I done the previous week,  that Apathea’s cloak took up too much space, and that the angle of Apathea’s head was confusing. All of us discussed it a bit, and in the end, we decided to recycle the emblematic image in the design element of the frame that I came up with for the original poster.

When it was all said and done, this was the image that was decided on to be printed as posters for the NYCC.

Something that can be frustrating as an artist is that sometimes when you get attached to an idea or an image, it can cloud your judgment and make you reluctant to let go when changes have to be made. The amount of work that has to go into the reworking can also make it frustrating. With this image, because we were on a quick deadline, and because I had a lot of impending work, I had to basically come out and say, ‘What’s the compromise we can come up in which the changes you want can happen that involves the least amount of work?’ I feel bad having to ask stuff like that, because it makes me feel unprofessional, but sometimes them’s the sticks

I still think that the original image is a good image for a poster, though I agree that the colors need to be changed and that the drawing could be tweaked a bit, but I think the new image looks really good. I wish I could see it as a poster! [If you’re at the NYCC, take a picture of it for me, would you?]

It’s usually pretty hard for me to get projects over the weekend because I work at Powell’s Saturday & Sunday – last week was particularly hard because as I mentioned before I had two projects due on Monday. One of those projects was the cover for this week’s Willamette Week. Unlike the last time I did a cover, this went a lot smoother. The story involves the closing of one of the public high schools in Portland as part of the restructuring/redesign for next school year. You can read the article here.

Since I had to juggle this with another project, my approach to the work was pretty straightforward to try to cut down on communication & time.

I did a tight sketch/thumbnail for the art director to look over and see if there were any changes needed to get made. Because he wanted the guillotine to cover part of the header, I went ahead and drew the illustration directly on a printout of the layout of the cover to make sure I got the proportions right.

After I got the changeshe wanted, I sent him the latest sketch for approval. Once that got the green light, I blew the final sketch onto 11 x17 and then lightboxed the drawing onto bristol board. After that I just needed to tighten up the drawing & then color it. [Sorry for the bad photo]

And here’s the final image:

That’s all for this week. Americus is due next Friday! Wish me luck!

Facts About Lightning

(Sep 29, 2010)

This week I drew a guest strip for GOODBYE CHAINS, a western comic by Alice Hunt and Tracy Williams. I like westerns in general, but this comic has a unique tone that I think makes it stand out.  It makes reference to the world outside of its Old West setting (one of the characters is a Communist, and there are references to Karl Marx on occassion) and deftly mixes dark humor and intense action/drama.  None of these qualities are really on display in my strip, but I can only do so much in one page.

GOODBYE CHAINS has been on a summer hiatus, but it start updating again this coming Friday (in other words, a great time for interested readers to go through the comic’s archives). I’m excited.

Americus promo stuff

(Sep 24, 2010)

So I’ve spent this last week drawing promo stuff for Americus. We’re doing a big promotional push for Banned Book Week, and even though I have some stuff to work on in regards to actually finishing the book, this stuff had a time stamp on it so I had to bust it out first.

If you haven’t checked out Save Apathea yet or in awhile, I would highly recommend checking it out next week. We’re posting a new page every weekday, having YA authors guest blogging [as well as some other literary folk, I think], and First Second has hooked us up with some swag from Macmillan related to banned books and will be giving them away during the week. Be there!

Anyhow, the animated gif below is a compilation of banners I did for websites, and the image above is a placeholder image until we get the cover done for websites that write articles or what not about Americus.

If you are interested in having copies of the banners for your website & helping promote the book & Banned Book Well, send me an e-mail & I’ll send you the files.

jonathan [at] bpb-art.com

A Tribute to Nautical Comix

(Sep 22, 2010)

Sorry for the absence the last couple of weeks.  I feel like a bit of a schmuck for offering to write extra posts for the blog and then disappearing for a bit, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.  Drawing AMATEURS, along with some other assignments have kept me plenty busy, but unfortunately has left me little time to post.

Something I planned on writing was a review of some recently purchased comics. I had bought at least two books in the past month that dealt with characters going off to sea.  There aren’t a lot of comics that deal with nautical adventure, but I’ve noticed there have been a few released in the last couple of years, and thought it might be an interesting topic to pontificate about.

My plan was to write a couple reviews, and draw a bit of fanart to go with each one.  But as I said before, I’ve not had much time to write, and I didn’t want to post up an ill-thought out review.  I did get some drawings inspired by some of the books done, so I figured I’d share them below:

THE UNSINKABLE WALKER BEAN (story and art by Aaron Renier, colors by Alec Longstreth)

SET TO SEA (by Drew Weing)

(I can’t decide if the above rebus is completely impenetrable or not.  Anyone out there able to suss it out?)

While I can’t write the review I feel these titles deserve, let me say I highly recommend both books. While both deal with similar subject matter, each author handles it in his own way.  And both books feature cartoonists obviously pushing the limits of their skills.  Exciting stuff that’s well worth tracking down.

Here are some more of the nautical comix I alluded to in the beginning… Perhaps I’ll write about them more (or draw tribute art for them) in the future:

FAR ARDEN by Kevin Cannon
ISAAC THE PIRATE (two volumes out so far) and THE SPEED ABATER by Cristophe Blain
GOOD-BYE CHUNKY RICE by Craig Thompson (Not a nautical story per se, though a big chunk of it takes place during a sea voyage.  Also, few artist draw water as beutifully as Mr. Thompson)

tiny tiny Teaser

(Sep 17, 2010)

Ever since I finished up the initial pages of Americus back in April, I started brainstorming on what I wanted to work on next. When I started Americus, I though I would finish it up and then get back to the story I was working on previously – One of the Johns. Unfortunately, it just didn’t seem like it would work. I don’t know if it was sitting in my head too long, or if maybe the part of me where that story & characters had come from had moved on.

While I was waiting to hear back from our editor at First Second, I kept myself busy with illustration jobs and other odds & ends, while brainstorming in a very casual manner. Unfortunately, everything that I seemed to come up with felt very contrived, or not full enough to sustain a longer story [or my interest].

A month or so ago after thinking about some things that was happening to a friend, a tiny idea sparked. The more I thought about it, the more I could feel it – in my gut – that this was going to be the next comic that I work on.

I’m still working on the very last bit of Americus, and will be for the next couple of months, but in the back of my head I’ve been piecing together parts of the puzzle. It will be a long, long while before any of this is anywhere close to be doing done and drawn and ready to put out into the world, but even so I wanted to share a quick drawing I did based on some sketches and doodles that I had done while on the plane to Vietnam.

It will be interesting once I do start to draw it to see how much the idea and drawing will change from this initial doodle.

Anyhow, I guess I missed the big celebration – one whole year of us posting on this blog! I’ll admit that we haven’t really kept up with it like we had hoped. And now with Americus being serialized online and the next year or so of promoting that [& it’s publication next fall!], and with Jason digging his heels in ready to start the Amateurs, who knows how often each of us will be posting in the next year?

I hope that even with all of our own projects taking off that we can all make time to drop some words & drawings here every now & then. It’s nice to have an outlet like this where things are sort of a free-for-all or where we can flex our creative muscles for some exercise every now and then.

Previews and Anniversaries

(Sep 01, 2010)

This week the AMATEURS website went live.  The comic isn’t ready to go up yet (Jeremy and I are still working on creating a buffer of pages), but we made a short teaser for the project, which is what occupies the space at the moment. Part of me has wondered if making a preview for a comic is too much of a vanity project, though I will say it’s given me a chance to get comfortable drawing the characters and experiment with toning pages.  It’s also gave me a chance to butt my head against ComicPress, which will be powering the site.

However, it is exhilarating to be able to show something for this project that Jeremy and I have been working on for a while now.  It’s also a bit terrifying, because we’ve thrown our hats in the ring, and now it’s time to make sure the work gets done.  If all goes well, we should start serializing pages in the next couple months.

Again, that address is http://www.amateursthecomic.com.  Okay, that’s enough of that shill-talk.

Something else I’ve been working on in the last week is a new strip for the Viet Nam Literature Project.  I’ll post the whole thing once it goes up on the VNLP’s website.  This one was a doozy to work on, though I’ll save my commentary for when I post the full strip.

I just want to acknowledge that it’s been ONE FREAKIN’ YEAR since we decided to keep a regular brownpaperbag blog.  I know “regular” is open for debate, but whether we delivered each week or not, that target has always been there in the back of my mind.

On one hand it’s encouraged me to be more productive — to have something to post on Wednesdays — though sometimes that productivity has been channeled specifically to this blog.  Instead of sharing art I was already making, that sharing being an extension of my art, writing for this site feels more and more like a separate creative act. For example, when I’m in the middle of a project, whatever half-finished bit I have at the moment may not make an interesting post by itself.  So instead I may post it and talk about my process, or I might create something else to post instead.

I’m not saying this is good or bad, only noting that what started as one thing seems to have turned into something else that was unexpected.  Hopefully all of this isn’t sounding too pretentious.  In reflecting over the past year of this website, these are the thoughts that come to mind.  Also, I speak only for myself when writing this and not my fellow art-mates.


Just one more thing before I sign off:  This week, Jonathan left for a two-week trip to Vietnam.  It doesn’t look like he has any pre-written posts, so time willing, I’ll try to update these next two Fridays as well.  Time to roll up my sleeves and bang on some keys!

Back to School!

(Aug 20, 2010)

First off, I just wanted to say, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you!’ to everyone that bid on pieces from my last minute art auction! I will be invoicing you today and mailing the works out next week. Expect postcards from Vietnam in the next week or two as well!

Anyhow, things are still pretty bananas getting ready for our trip as I still have some other work to be doing before I leave. This week was spent wrapping up some commitments to other people. The most time consuming of which has been these illustration for the Spokane Inlander for their back to school college guide pull out section.

The idea is that there are a group of heroes and a group of villains that help or hinder you when you’re in college. The copy was really, really hokey, but I have to admit I had fun drawing them.

And then I got to do the cover of the pull out section, which was just a big fight scene between the two groups. This was fun to draw, but a pain in the ass to color because there is so much going on.

All right. See you next week! And thanks again to Naveen, Teresa, Jeffrey, & Cathy!

Loneliness of the Long Distance Rambo

(Aug 18, 2010)

Still busy with semi-secret artstuff, but I’ve managed to wring out a couple of postable things for this week.


… RAMBO MONTH that is.  Jonathan and I have been watching one Rambo movie a week for the last month, finishing up with the last film this past Sunday.

The reasons for this marathon were silly… Neither of us had seen these movies, and I had happened upon FIRST BLOOD and RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II in a dvd bargain bin.  And given our love of ridiculous action movies, why not?

The ridiculous action itch was most thoroughly scratched.  I felt I had a certain idea of what to expect from the RAMBO series based on pop culture references and parodies, and it was fun to have those assumptions confirmed or subverted as time we viewed each moment.  So it goes when watching a cultural juggernaut for the first time I guess.  I don’t want to go on and on too much about this, so I’ll just sum up the main thing I learned from watching these movies…

I kind of want to do something to commemorate these films beyond this post or these few goofy pictures (Though the above drawing is actually a work-in-progress. But still…). Whatever shape it takes, I’m sure you’ll see it here eventually


…Not until Friday that is.  What am I talking about?  Jonathan’s Art Auction of course!  If you haven’t heard, our boy is auctioning off gems from his old art pile to help fund his upcoming trip to Vietnam (where he will totally recreate the events of the second Rambo movie. Totally!).

If you’re unsure of how owning an original Jonathan Hill masterpiece can improve your life, may I suggest observing the examples below:

To see what’s available, gently scroll down to the following blog post.  Bid soon, and bid high!  Explosive-tip arrows ain’t gonna buy themselves, folks!

Art Auction!

(Aug 13, 2010)

So this might seem a little bit last minute, but I’m going to be heading to Vietnam at the end of the month and in hopes of raising some extra money and cleaning out my art shelves in the process, I’m going to be holding an auction here on the blog for some original art of mine.

Here’s how it’s going to work: Listed below are 20 pieces of original art ranging from published freelance stuff to fan art that you might’ve seen on the blog. Each piece is numbered and has a minimum bid next to the title. If you are interested in a piece, please just post a comment with the number of the piece you’re bidding on with the amount of your bid [bids have to be equal than or greater to the minimum bid listed]. At the end of the auction, I’ll check all the comments and see what the highest bid for each piece is and contact that person with an invoice to be paid via Paypal.

Shipping & handling for the pieces will be $7.00 each, which will include secure shipping [If you win more than one piece, I will combine the shipping & if you live in Portland, I will just hand deliver the piece].

For an additional $5.00, I will offer to matte the piece to fit the closest convenient frame size [in most cases this will be 14 x 17].

Auction ends the 20th! If the winning bidders want their pieces shipped before I leave for Vietnam, the money needs to be Paypaled to me by the 24th.

Without further adieu, here at the art works to be auctioned off [in no particular order]:

Note: Dimensions listed are for the size of the board, not the actual active area of art.

1.] Wolverine! – 11 x 8 – minimum bid: $10

2.] The Death of Boromir – 11 x 14 – minimum bid: $30

3.] Hobo Town – 11x 17- minimun bid: $20

4.] This Time Tomorrow – 11x 15 – minimum bid: $30

5.] Eowyn defeats the Witch-King – 11 x 11 – minimum bid: $20

6.] Video Game box art [Cube] – 17 x 11 – minimum bid: $20

7.] Video Game box art [Forest] – 17 x 11 – minimum bid: $20

8.] Video Game box art [Players] – 17 x 11 – minimum bid: $20

9.] Video Game box art [Ocean] – 17 x 11 – minimum bid: $20

10.] Video Game box art [Space] – 17 x 11 – minimum bid: $20

11.] Video Game box art [Clouds] – 17 x 11 – minimum bid: $20

12.] Boatful of Hindus- 14 x 17 – minimum bid: $15

13.] Portland Farmer’s Market – 11 x 17 – minimum bid: $30

14.] The Sad Wrestler – 11 x 14 – minimum bid: $10

15.] The Dead Marshes – 11 x 14 – minimum bid: $20

16.] The-Ne’er-Do-Well – 14 x 11 – minimum bid: $20

17.] Apocalypse – 14 x 17 – minimum bid: $20

18.] Portland Transportation – 12 x14 – minimum bid: $30

19.] Strip Tease – 11 x9.5 – minimum bid: $15

20.] The Eye of the Night – 11 x 15 – minimum bid: $30

As an added bonus, I’ll send anyone with a winning bid a postcard from Vietnam!

Thanks for looking! Please help spread the word to anyone that you think might be interested! I’d really appreciate it. If you have any questions, please contact me at jonathan [at] bpb-art.com.

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