kimbra & debucourt

A couple of little sketchbook paintings, one of the New Zealand pop singer Kimbra and one from Debucourt:





friend cloud



Midsummer Day Dream



Newspaper Art

I don't do a ton of commercial jobs, and those which i do are often not-completely-mine-enough to merit posting, but I thought this cover for a weekly paper turned out ok. Here's the original watercolor I did for it: 

And here's it was post-editing on the stands:

It was illustrating an agricultural story about using only natural rainfall for wine crops, which is I guess the old-timey way. A detail in the story about how deep the roots will go in search of water when they have to stuck with me. I tried to strike an emotional tone that wasn't the default editorial cartoonist glib condemnation, which unfortunately is usually my first instinct. Bone-deep from growing up reading editorial cartoons. I tried to aim for a bit of compassion, this being a world we're all stuck making and living in, and not always aware of other  possibilities beneath our feet. 


from the watercolor pad



SPX in Stockholm

I just spent a week in Stockholm, Sweden for the Swedish SPX and it was a great experience and a lovely city. I always expect that I'll do more drawing on trips than I end up doing and I'm frankly baffled and envious of those who manage it. It's like people who can get a bunch of heavy reading and writing done on long plane rides, I think they must be in business class or something because the best I can manage is some squirmy sleep and heavy-duty dissociation.  But I did do a page or two of doodles in my sketchbook. Here's a triptych of Stockholm street fashion:
I did a lot of photo-taking, most of which ended up on Vanessa Davis's great flickr set of the trip.  There was really too much great stuff and great people to go into all of it in what's essentially a sketchbook-dump-blog, but we were super grateful to our SPX-hosts Kristiina Kolehmainen, Johannes Klenell, as well as our house-hosts Austin English and Clara Bessijelle Johansson for letting us stay with them.    Some good accounts of the show here:
Vanessa Davis, Dash Shaw & MK Reed
Simon Gärdenfors, far left
Shannon O'Leary, Gabrielle Bell
Eric Reynolds, Shaw

Pin-Up Process

A couple of weeks ago I drew a pin-up gag cartoon for Jim Linderman's Vintage Sleaze blog. Jim is a folk art collector and general cataloguer of weird-time Americana, on Dull Tool Dim Bulb and historical books like the Grammy-nominated Take Me To The Water , so it was a real treat to do something for his site. This cartoon was a bit more involved, process-wise, then my usual doodles, so I thought it'd merit a process blog.

I'm an admirer of gag cartoonists like Bill Wenzel and Dan DeCarlo, as well as the classic illustration chops of Russell Patterson, so I decided to draw suitably ribald, but hopefully a bit lush and colorful too. Dancing girls are a staple of those strips (along with such staples as workplace sexual harrassment, infidelity, and wardrobe malfunction) The vintage burlesque is full of pattern and pageantry that is fun to draw. I did some hasty research for old time showgirl images:


I roughed out a pose in my sketchbook before I really knew how the joke was going to be executed:

(note the 3 Patterson studies in the center)

I drew it first in pencil (which I seem to have misplaced, but trust me that it's frustratingly superior to the final inked version).

I then used a light box to ink the pencils:

...I mainly did this so I wouldn't have to fuss with erasing. After scanning the above image, just to have a record, I watercolored the page. Then I had to figure out what actual the gag would be, after hemming and hawing on the exact wording I settled on the final caption, which I lettered in Photoshop, using the Futura bold font, a go-to type for pulp tabloid editors (and Barbara Kruger):                                           

                                                            (click it to see it at actual size)


New comic: Boetimus and Paulus



Late Night Drawing Jams


I like to listen to good working jams while I'm drawing late night. I made a playlist of a bunch of mp3s and put them here:

Recent works:


 How We Find the Time


Another Chance At History


Studio Gallery's "Tiny" show


Looking for something to do in San Francisco this weekend? I have some small paintings (see above) in Studio Gallery's "Tiny" show.The reception is this Sunday. Here's the press:

small pieces under $400

November 11th - December 23rd, 2010
opening reception: Sunday, November 14th, 2-6 pm
7th Anniversary Party: Sunday, December 5th, 2-6 pm


STUDIO Gallery
1815 Polk Street (between Washington & Jackson)
San Francisco, CA 94109 415-931-3130
Gallery hours: Wed-Fri 11-8, Sat-Sun 11-6, Mon-Tue by appt.

Good things do come in small packages! tiny, our annual show of small work, is your one-stop-spot to pick up a little something for your own collection, as well as a one-of-a-kind gift for that special someone. And you're supporting local artists at the same time! 

We'll have hundreds of pieces up in the gallery, and we'll be adding new work every day. Over 140 local artists are participating, making it our biggest show yet. Everything is under 7" x 7" and under $400, with lots of pieces under $200. As an added bonus, this year's show includes a VIP section, where we'll be hanging some work that we just couldn't resist from some the gallery's most popular artists, plus a few special surprises. 

The show is so big that we're going to be closed an extra day to hang all the work. And we'll have two receptions, one in November and a second in December, to celebrate tiny and the gallery's 7th Anniversary. We hope you'll stop by, check out the show, and see what the artists in our community have been up to!



New Alixopulos comics in Studygroup12 #4


The new Studygroup12 anthology is out and it looks beautiful! Offset printing with screened covers, get one while they last! 


Recent Watercolors


"It could be any one of us"






"Cane Cane" 


"The same stuff"

"The other stuff"



judging and a half-assed "great person" theory


i recently had the privilege, responsibility and hassle of helping select the nominees for the annual Ignatz Awards. I've never had to read so many comics in such a brief time, and be forced to ration my attention on a few superior books. In the process I had to articulate for myself my own vague opinions on what makes a good comic. It struck me upon reading the many submissions that I have something akin to a dickish “Great Man” attitude about comics. What’s most important to me as a reader is to read a comic by an interesting man or woman, a notable, compelling person of uncommon insight. Whether they know it or not, this self-cultivation is one of the major concerns of an artist in their development. 

The judges are inundated with books, all of which deserve more than a hasty glance. That being said, the volume of submissions requires judges to be rather ruthless. The nice thing about comics is you can browse them and absorb some of the craft casually, if there is craft there to be had. A good comic rewards, even within a brief encounter, in the same way that fragments of good poetry still retain some irreducible integrity. Many of the books I encountered did not meet this lowest standard of browsability.

Good art is not enough, but it is a bare minimum. It doesn’t take divine intervention or uncommon fortune to achieve that minimum level of visual competency, it only takes time and mental effort. I’m not that interested in reveling in merely sublime artwork that is not also in the service of the voice of a singular, compelling individual. An ambitious artist can get the straightforward arithmetic of good drawing along the way to tackling the esoteric calculus of being an individual with something to say.

When judging good work, critical values like “The Literary Graphic Novel” or some formalist theory of the avant-garde within a grand historical art narrative are essentially meaningless, but paradoxically not worthless. They are chimeras that have value only in the drama that ensues from the individual chasing them. They are a useful character-building exercise on the road to achieving notability. Critics are often distracted by these meta-baubles but that is to criticism's detriment, if not (necessarily) to the cartoonists.

I can't describe any particular path to that form of excellence, but at the same time I don't believe there's anything especially mysterious or mystical about it. The old Orwell truthitude goes "To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle" but in a limited sense that is something most artists learn the first or second time they take a life drawing class. A notable cartoonist just displays a more developed form of that perception.

This is not a particularly rigorous insight about my tastes. I don't consider it a form of elitism, despite the arbitrarily hierarchical tone "great" suggests. I believe that anyone can cultivate a more compelling persona, I'd like to believe this is possible some day for myself. And it's a worthy thing to make the attempt even if one never succeeds.

Of the books that I judged of a higher caliber than the rest, I think some of the artists arrived at their power of insight through careful cultivation, and some through blind chance. 


Alixopulos exhibit in the CAMs Small Press Spotlight



If you're near downtown San Francisco this summer you can check out a small selection of my art on display at the redoubtable Cartoon Art Museum (among other great exhibits). Here's the official press:

Small Press Spotlight on Trevor Alixopulos

June 19 – September 12, 2010

Beginning on June 19, 2010, the Cartoon Art Museum’s ongoing Small Press Spotlight will feature the art of Trevor Alixopulos.

Trevor Alixopulos is Hawaii-born transplant to the Bay Area, raised in Sonoma County. He has been working in art comics and small press for the past ten years. First inspired by the 1990s zine explosion and the new wave of art comics in RAW and LOVE & ROCKETS, he started photocopying his first minis while still in his teens.  From his first stapled satirical zines his  artistic horizons have broadened to encompass long form graphic novels, experimental narratives and painting.

After producing his handmade comic QUAGGA for several years he was eager to work on a more ambitious scale and jumped at the chance to draw a graphic novel. His first, Mine Tonight (2006), was a deconstructive political thriller, set in the 2004 Presidential Election.  Suffused with the overheated, paranoid atmosphere of the post 9/11 years, it attempted a romantic modern noir of Bush’s America.  His second graphic novel, The Hot Breath of War (2008) again engaged social themes, but this time in an abstract manner, more lyrical than literal. A novel of short stories grouped around themes of passion and aggression, exploring the areas where people try and fail to connect, from the battlefield to the bedroom.  The Daily Cross Hatch called The Hot Breath of War “A book that demands to be experienced.” It was nominated for an Ignatz Award for Best Graphic Novel and was listed on’s Top 100 Comics of the 00’s.

Alongside his longer novels Alixopulos has continued to produce small hand-made comics with a  stapler at home, as well as working in watercolor and screenprints. His art has been featured in shows at Giant Robot, Gallery of Sea and Heaven, STUDIO Gallery and in ANTHEM Magazine. On the themes of his work today, Alixopulos stated, “…I’m interested in the play between narrative and iconic forms in comics. Comics stake out some common zone of understanding, while dramatizing those areas where understanding breaks down. I like this profane realm, where the word won’t go; language becomes cartoon, visual joke, enigmatic sign and heraldry.” Today he does occasional commercial illustration, works in a library and draws comics from his home in Santa Rosa, California.

About the Small Press Spotlight:

San Francisco has been a hotbed of innovative, groundbreaking comic art since the late 1800s with the advent of the modern comic strip.  In the1960s, the Bay Area gained further notoriety when the underground comix movement launched from San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district.  Today, some of the biggest names in alternative and small-press comics hail from the Bay Area, and the Cartoon Art Museum’s Small Press Spotlight focuses on the works of these talented individuals.

The Small Press Spotlight is funded in part by The Zellerbach Family Foundation and The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation.



A springtime watercolor



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