Tony Auth

Tony Auth
People who enjoy reading the days’ editorial cartoon feel lucky if they live in a city where the editorial cartoonist in the major paper is one they like.

I’m fortunate to live in the Philadelphia area where we have two (count ’em, two) terrific cartoonists that I like: Tony Auth, in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Signe Wilkerson in the Philadelphia Daily News.

Tony Auth has been the editorial cartoonist for the Inquirer (which happens to be a great paper, even if it is being gutted by cost cutting like the rest of the nation’s great papers), for over 30 years. Auth drew cartoons for his college newspaper at UCLA. He started a career as a medical illustrator, but kept drawing cartoons for the UCLA Daily Bruin and eventually joined the staff of the Inquirer as their editorial cartoonist in 1971. He also currently serves on the editorial board of the Inquirer.

When he started, he was a brash, headstrong, angry young maverick, hot to expose injustice, fraud, idiocy and corruption in government and wherever else he encountered it. Delightfully, the subsequent years don’t seem to have changed him that much.

Right off the bat, Auth ran against the current of drawing styles among editorial cartoonists at the time, presaging today’s somewhat more divergent array of styles. Where most editorial cartoonists favored more highly rendered images, utilizing cross hatching, croquille board or heavy washes to create detailed drawings, Auth chose a style that leans more toward the pared down ink line and subtle wash drawings of sophisticated magazine gag cartooning. Except for their obvious political content, Auth’s cartoons would not look out of place in the pages of The New Yorker.

There is a delightful efficiency in his his linework that goes straight to the point, much like the writing of his cartoons. Where others might devote a lot of detail to their caricature of political leaders, or go through a lot of machinations to make a point, Auth makes his statement with a few carefully chosen lines.

Auth has won numerous awards. In 1976 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning and in 2002 he won the infrequently awarded Thomas Nast Prize, named for the father of American political cartooning. (See my post on Thomas Nast.)

There is an archive of Auth’s cartoons on the Universal Press Syndicate GoComics page

For reasons that completely elude me, the Inquirer doesn’t have a single, easily bookmarked web page for accessing the latest Auth cartoon. You have to find your way to the editorial page and then click on “Today’s Auth Cartoon” at the top of the center column. Or, you can go to good ol’ Slate Magazine, which actually knows how to do an online publication, and gets it right with an easily bookmarked Tony Auth page.

Open note to the Philadelphia Inquirer online edition: Umm… just a thought, but if you’re trying to increase traffic, and you have a cartoonist of this caliber, instead of burying him three clicks in, you might put a nice big, colorful “Today’s Auth Cartoon” button on the home page and make it easy to bookmark. You think?


John Wallin Liberto

John Wallin Liberto
John Wallin Liberto is a matte painter and concept artist based in Sweden who works in the film and gaming industries. He has worked films such as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban , Tim Burton’s Big Fish, Riddick and Alien Vs Predator, done video concept art for the Shania Twain “Gonna Getcha Good” music video, and is currently working on games like the upcoming Gears of War from Epic Games.

He is well known on computer graphics forums like Sijun and The GCSociety, where he goes by the handle of Capt.FlushGarden.

Liberto paints digitally in Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter, moving between the two based on effects he wants from certain tools. He uses the digital painting medium to advantage, particularly in giving his richly detailed images a feeling of realistic texture and a sense of tactile surfaces. Notice the underside of the arches and overhangs in the image of the round temple above.

This painting (details here on CGSociety) is one of several online from his work for the new Gears of War game. You can find others by going to the gallery section for Gears of War on his site. (I can’t give you a direct link because the site is in Flash.)

Liberto, who is sometimes referred to as simply John Wallin, is also involved with the D’Artiste: Digital Painting volumes from Ballistic Publishing.

There isn’t much bio or techinque info on his site, but there is an Interview on (The “Next” link from page 2 is broken. Page 3 is here.)


Cali Rezo

Cali Rezo
Cali Rezo is a French artist who works digitally in Photoshop.

She concentrates largely on faces, either direct portraits, or somewhat stylized portraits in which she sometimes plays with drawing the eyes larger than normal, giving the faces, particularly those of children, a doll-like effect. She will also often incorporate a graphic background rather than a naturalistic one, making a nice blend of portrait and design.

You can see examples of that in the section of her online gallery devoted to personal work, where you will also find a fascinating series of self-portraits.

My favorites, which you will also find on that page, are her “Klimteries”, a series of paintings inspired by the designs/paintings of Gustav Klimt, as in the examples above.

Her portfolio also contains examples of her professional work, illustrations for magazines and agencies.

Rezo works from photographs that she takes herself and considers the photography part of the artistic process, although she doesn’t use the photograph directly in her paintings. Like many digital painters, she follows a painting process that is remarkably like that for traditional media, from initial sketches to a more refined drawing, blocking in color and then adding detail and working to a finished state.

She does, however, utilize photography directly for her collage works, which you can find on her Info page.

You can find articles on her working process from the French editions of Computer Arts and Mac Universe magazines in the “Making Of” section.

Although the “How-to” articles are in French, her site is more or less bi-lingual. There are English translations for most of the text and English speakers will have little problem finding their way around.

Rezo also has a blog called On the other side of the rocks.


James Bama

James Bama
I first became impressed with the work of James Bama when I encountered his dramatic covers for the paperback versions of the Doc Savage pulp novels. (Doc Savage was an interesting pulp character that I think influenced modern superheroes in a big way, i.e. Superman = Doc Savage + Flash Gordon, and Batman = The Shadow + Doc Savage + Dick Tracy; but, I digress…)

Bama did a long series of those wonderful covers, with their melodramatic lighting and intense color, portraying the hero amid fiendish villains and horrific monsters, all rendered in a superbly accomplished realism that made them jump off the cover.

Bama had 20-year plus career doing illustrations for books, movie posters and magazines like The Satuday Evening Post, Argosy and The Reader’s Digest, and even did the covers for Aurora’s famous monster model kits.

At one point he changed course, moved from New York to Wyoming, and moved from a career as an illustrator to a new career as a gallery artist pursuing a fascination with the contemporary American West.

His work since then has concentrated on western character studies — portraits of cowboys, contemporary American natives in formal or casual dress and studies of the Montana wilderness. His sharp focused realism brings these subjects to life with a masterful touch.

There is a new book just released by Flesk Publications, (a terrific small art publisher that I have written about before), titled James Bama, American Realist, that features a great mix of his western art and his illustration (including all 65 Doc Savage covers).

The site is mostly a catalog of available posters, but the poster previews make a good gallery of his recent paintings. I’ve added other links below to galleries that handle his work.


Richard Dadd

Richard DaddWriters, and often the public, like to romanticize the connection between madness and art. From the emotional anguish of van Gogh to the physical violence of Caravaggio, there is a notion of the artist going to the brink, and over, and returning with visions from the other side that would be inaccessible to the normal mind.

Whether this is true is a matter of debate, and mental illness is hardly romantic, though in the case of Victorian Painter Richard Dadd, his most memorable works of ramantic fantasy were produced after he was committed to “Bedlam” (Bethlem Hospital) because of violent insanity.

Dadd descended into a state we would now call paranoid schizophrenia during a trip to Egypt and the middle east. After his return, he murdered his father, who he evidently believed was possessed by the devil, and fled to Paris, where he was arrested for assaulting another traveler, who he also perceived as possessed. Evidently there was a genetic predisposition to mental illness in his family.

Dadd was a painter whose images of fairies and other subjects from folklore and fantasy are part of a larger stylistic branch of Victorian painting dealing with these subjects, sometimes simply called the “Fairy School”. His pre-commitment paintings of the subject were open and airy; those created afterwards, for which he is most noted, are quite different, large scale, flattened in perspective and richly (or obsessively) detailed.

Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke, shown here, is his most recognized work. Dadd worked on it for nine years and still considered it unfinished. He finally did stop working on it, however, and then produced a copy in watercolor (the original is in oil) and wrote a strange “guidebook” for the painting in verse.

It’s difficult to get any feeling for this painting from the tiny image here. There is a large version here, another large one here and a larger one here, that is unfortunately a bit dark.

Low resolution web versions still don’t convey the detail in the image, though. If you are interested you really should look for a reproduction in print. The one I have is in Victorian Painting by Lionel Lambourne (an excellent book, BTW). There are also books devoted to Dadd’s work. The World of Richard Dadd by Michael Mott is inexpensive and serves as a nice introduction.

By all accounts, though, you really can’t grasp this painting, which is in the Tate Gallery in London, until you see it in person (I haven’t), because of the dramatically three-dimensional nature of the application of the paint.

Dadd did many other paintings during the time he spent in the hospitals, and his work has been influential on fantasy painters from his own time through the present.


Line Rider

Line Rider
Did you ever find yourself doodling and daydreaming that a line you were drawing was something physical, like a hill you could slide down? Perhaps you found yourself imagining that the line would become reality, á la Harold and the Purple Crayon, and you could roll or slide away from whatever it was that you were avoiding by doodling.

Well, if it’s an imaginative diversion you want for your doodled line, here’s a nifty little amusement by someone who lists themselves on deviantART as “fsk“.

Line Rider is an online interactive that allows you to draw a line, going more or less from upper left to lower right, that will represent the two dimensional topography of a hill. When your line is drawn, you click play and the Line Rider, a small character on a sled with a trailing scarf, will go sailing, bouncing and, if you’re not careful, tumbling down the hill according to forces of imaginary gravity.

The module is quite cleverly done and is much more fun than my dry description would suggest. In addition to a nice bit of semi-realistic slow-motion gravity, fsk has programmed in a good bit of humor in the way the character responds to the physics of your imagined line. Play with several variations of line and you’ll see what I mean.

You can use a hand tool to scroll the drawing area (much as in standard graphics applications) and extend your line well past the boundaries of the working rectangle. You can also save lines that you like for future use.

Link via Marco Bresciani.