Archive for the ‘Illustration’ Category

The new year chore

January 3, 2013


It is one of the few tasks that we only do once a year – change our calendars. But this time was different than it has been the last seven or so years. During that period of time I was doing illustrations for a calendar called “Team Family.” It covered 18 months and was set up organize activities by family member. The winds of change have blown and the calendar is no more so on New Years Eve, when I took the old one off the fridge, I had to actually think about what to replace it with. The winner: a calendar from my chiropractor illustrated by one Norman Rockwell. Sure, he rarely if ever shows a dog perched on a bowling ball but still, I see great things in his future.

Sign of the times

April 26, 2012


While doing grad school research I ran across this in a book showing the changes in cartoonist-then-cubist painter Lyonel Feininger’s signature.

I changed my signature a couple of times. The last time I did the signature I most wanted to emulate was Rick Stromoski’s. I love how odd it is to exaggerate the unimportant “M” in the middle of his name.


September 3, 2011

Team Family 2012 Wall Planner (calendar)

For the last six or seven years I’ve been doing illustrations for a calendar called Team Family. Well, the one for 2012 will be the last so if you wanna piece of history, you can find it here.

C’mon, you know you want one. Those calendars with cute kittens or hunky firefighters are so played out.

Now if those hunky firefighters were holding cute kittens…that’d be something.

Postcards from the edge…of my memory

August 28, 2011


This evening I was jamming books into a lower bookshelf, attempting to make them squeezed tight enough so my son can’t deshelf them, when I ran across these cartoon postcards in an art book. There are three of the same, but try as I might, I can’t remember how I got them. (Thanks a lot, Age.)

Dept of Nepotism – Play It Again, Swig

August 5, 2011

My sweet, brilliant wife is concert pianist and she started a podcast in January called Play It Again, Swig all about getting her chops back after giving birth to our kid. The weekly podcast follows her practicing as she learns the Chopin etudes…which may sound all high-falutin’ but it’s quite accessible, even to a dullard like me. You can find it on itunes too so, download away.

And how does this relate to cartooning, you may ask? I designed her logo.

Happy anniversary to me

May 11, 2011

It was ten years ago today that I quit my job to become a full-time cartoonist.

I had been trying to get syndicated for the previous ten years and was getting nowhere. (Well, not “nowhere” – I made some good contacts, got some good encouragement.) It seemed like the dream that I had had since I was a little kid was just not in the cards for me.

I majored on graphic design in college and had worked for small firms and big corporations and I was tired of doing what I was doing. And I had been doing “humorous illustration” as part of practically all my jobs. So 1+1 equals building my freelance base till I could leave my job. I started this process in 1998 (with tons of help from cartoonist Rick Stromoski), sent out promos and started to add  clients. I took the monetary plunge of buying pages in “source books” where an art director would hopefully see my stuff, and like it, and pay me. I was lucky that I also had other outside gigs – teaching cartooning at a local college (which was steady money I could count on) and doing caricatures at parties and festivals.

I met my future wife at the end of 1999 and she knew from the get-go that I was unhappy with my job. It took another year or so to be ready, both in mind and career. It had gotten to the point that I didn’t have enough off-time to do, or look for, any more freelance work. I had made sure I could get medical insurance through a local art organization. Got all my ducks in a row. It was scary. My parents were worried. But once I left, I knew it was the right thing to do. As a matter of fact, I weirdly have little sense memory of having been a clock-puncher for over 15 years.

Piece-o-work – Easter Island weigh-in

May 5, 2011

This is a piece I did for a recent issue of the children’s archeology magazine, Dig. My work appears in a section called “Ask Dr Dig” where kids have their letters answered by a real archeologist … and I illustrate them.

Village Voice illustration

April 7, 2011

If you pick up the Village Voice this week or check it out online you’ll see an illustration by me as part of their Comics Issue. I got to do one of the secondary illustrations for the main article about the state of cartooning. I was given a more or less free hand to do what I wanted with the 4″x4″ area and I ended up packing quite a lot into that space. Not that I was trying to, it just ended up that way. I thought it would be interesting to take a bunch of concerns about cartooning in this day and age and weave them through a true story that happened to me in Nicaragua. (Well, more or less. I condensed it a bit for clarity. Here’s my post on what happened.) happened.)

Above is the sketch I did. As you can see comparing it to the final below, some of the verbiage got changed. The only suggestion from the art director was to soften the last line.

Above is the the final art I drew then scanned. It’s 8″ wide – twice its finished size. I decided not to hand-letter the copy, opting to type it so it could be changed easily.

ARTIST: John Kovaleski A cartoonist/illustrator, he is the creator of the comic strip Bo Nanas and frequently contributes to Mad magazine. (,,

And here’s the final piece.

St Patrick’s Day cover

March 17, 2011

Ever wonder how things work in the high-powered world of cartooning? Well, here you go…

I got an e-email from Cleveland Magazine last Wednesday inquiring about doing a cover illustration. It was for a St Patrick’s Day article about bars that are open early in the morning, and “regulars” vs “St .Paddy partiers.” Actually, the article hadn’t been written at that time (and I haven’t read it yet so its slant may have changed.) It was a day or two later that we got everything agreed to – the sketch was to be due on Monday and the final would be due the next Friday. The sketch is below. Most times I’ll do the initial sketch in just black and white, but there wasn’t a lot of time so I figured I’d throw some color in to speed up the process.

Late Monday they sent me their comments. They needed more room up top and wanted a bit more bar-like detail. And I ditched the windows in favor of a door because they wanted the idea of morning to be emphasized even more. (They suggested adding a clock too.) I sent out the sketch below on Tuesday. (You’ll see that with each version I made the sun rays more and more prominent to separate the group in the back from the hardcore drinkers in front.)

They responded on Wednesday with a couple of small notes – like making the door look more hand-drawn, less mechanical looking. There was some back and forth and I got the OK by Thursday. (Remember, it has to be finished by Friday – the next day.)

Here’s where the freelance life bumps up against real life. On Thursdays I’m watching my son most of the day, which can make it tricky to get work done. I was able to get only the pencil drawing completed. Then we had two things to go to that evening, so that time was not available. You’d probably think I’d just finish it Friday, right?. Well, unfortunately, Friday I had to take my wife and son to the airport, and I just couldn’t chance pushing it that far. So, after we got home from our events Thursday night, it was me, an ice bucket and a 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew in my studio. It was after 3:00 AM by the time I was done. The final is below.

And here’s the cover with type added.


March 16, 2009


Once a week or so I’ll post a piece, snippet or detail of something I’m working on. It might be for a personal project or for a client, so I’ll put it up without commentary. Feel free to add your own if you wish.