Saturday, December 28, 2013

That's a wrap

santa, metrotimes, detroit, sean bieri 

One more surprise art gig for me as the year wraps us: I was checking my Facebook a couple weeks ago when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a message from the Metro Times' managing editor asking me to do some illustrations for them, for the first time in I dunno how long. The theme: letters to Santa - fake ones from local celebs and real ones from readers. Here's the cover art for the issue, plus a spot illo for a "letter" from Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr (who, among other things, is threatening to sell off artworks from the Detroit Institute of Art to settle the city's debts). Read the MT story and see more illustrations here.

christie's, reindeer, detroit, DIA, kevyn orr, sean bieri

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Monster Hits

Again this year, I participated in the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit's fundraiser, the "Monster Drawing Rally," in which dozens of local artists each draw for an hour in front of a crowd of visitors, with the resulting art being sold for $40 a pop to support the museum. Apparently this has become a widespread thing, with other museums and galleries around the country holding their own events. Anyway, it's a blast, and I managed to knock out three drawings in my hour this year, including, by request, the return of one of my old mini-comic characters - that bemused, button-down simian, Business Chimp.

puke, fighter plane, p-40, mocad, monster draw, sean bieri

business, chimp, contemporary art, mocad, detroit, sean bieri

angel, devil, mocad, detroit, bff, sean bieri

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Museum (h)ours

Time to take down the show of drawings I've had up at Cafe 1923 here in Hamtramck for the last several weeks. They were all sketches I've done of objects at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and they were on display while the debate raged (still unsettled) over whether the city can sell off some of the museum's collection to pay its debts. Here's a sample of the ones I've managed to photograph or scan, to give a feel of the show. (And thanks to Hatch Hamtramck for the opportunity.)
barlach, avenger, DIA, detroit, sean bieri

barlach, avenger, DIA, detroit, sean bieri

bust, dia, sean bieri

bust, dia, sean bieri

bust, dia, sean bieri

william merritt chase, DIA, detroit, sean bieri

giacometti, sculpture, DIA, detroit, sean bieri

bronze, Judith, DIA, detroit, sean bieri

Khmer, statute, DIA, detroit, sean bieri

marble, lion head, DIA, detroit, sean bieri

ibo, african mask, dia, detroit, sean bieri

parvati, statue, DIA, detroit, sean bieri

pre-Columbian, stone sculpture, DIA, detroit, sean bieri

Rodin, DIA, detroit, sean bieri

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I missed 24-Hour Comics Day again...

...but seeing the comic a friend did earlier this month for the annual all-day comic book-making marathon session (invented by Scott "Understanding Comics" McCloud) inspired me to dig up the better of the two I've ever managed to finish, from 2003 (I think, or '04). It came out fairly well I think, and it's pretty coherent considering the "30-foot beer bottle" and "talking uterus" that appear were assigned to me as prompts by an online random generator before starting (possibly the "family of raccoons" was a prompt, too... ?). The ambulance is based on one I saw in NYC earlier that year. The Langley Schools Project version of "Desperado" was in the air a lot around then. (Needless to say, I don't own the rights to that song or "Get Up, Stand Up"...) And there really is a restaurant in the 'burbs here that has a giant beer bottle out front. The typesetting is a little rough here and there, and somehow I never got around to giving the comic a title. But — I did finish 24 pages in 24 hours!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Come Sail Away

Here's a super-short story I wrote for an informal flash fiction workshop I attended earlier this year. I don't do much prose writing at all, but I thought this one turned out fairly well. The prompt was something like "Hey man, wanna ride?"

Come Sail Away  

“Sorry, kid,” the boatman said, “no discounts. Everyone pays the same.”

The mop-haired boy stared back blankly for a moment, then reached into the pocket of his cut-offs and brought out a fifty cent piece. He hadn’t realized it was there. He held it out to the boatman.

“Perfect. Hop in.”

The kid clambered into the narrow wooden skiff. It wobbled as he made his way to the bow. He sat, facing the back of the boat, and started worrying at a few pebbles he’d picked up on the shore.

With a practiced stroke, the boatman slipped his pole into the black water, leaned into it and pushed off. Noiselessly, the skiff slid out into the calm, mist-covered river. No wind, slow current — easy sailing today, the boatman thought.

They’d gone fifty yards before the iron-on decal on the kid’s blue-sleeved jersey caught the boatman’s eye. Under a picture of five long-haired men, a pointy, rainbow-colored logo read “Styx.” The boatman snorted as he stifled a giggle.

“What?” The kid glowered at the boatman.


The boy chucked a pebble into the dark water.

The boatman poled a bit further, then took the half-dollar from his cloak and glanced at the date. 1968. And the kid looked to be about ten, eleven maybe, so... late ‘70s some time? He put the coin away again and cleared his throat.

“So... did you see that movie ‘Star Wars’ yet?” The boatman said “yet” on the assumption that if the kid hadn’t seen it, he’d be able to catch it once he was on the other side. The boatman didn’t know for sure if it worked that way, but he liked to think so.

The kid nodded, looking down at his hands.

“Pretty cool, huh?”

The kid shrugged and whipped another pebble into the river.

“Yeah...” the boatman said, and looked away, into the mist rising off the water.

After a long pause, the boy muttered, “I liked ‘Smokey & the Bandit’ better.”

“Oh, yeah? Hey, I liked that flick a lot, too.” For a second the boatman considered mentioning the time he gave Jackie Gleason a ride, but that wouldn’t happen until 1987, and explaining how time worked here would take the whole trip, so he decided against it. “Yeah, I love car chase movies. ‘10-4, good buddy!’ Right?”

Another pause. The kid mumbled, “Sucks...”

“What? You just said you liked it.”

“Not that,” the kid said, “this. I wasn’t even doing anything, I wasn’t popping wheelies or doing jumps or anything, I was just riding normal, going to the store for a pop. I just hit a chuck hole and the handle bars twisted and I landed funny. So stupid.” He flung the remaining stones into the mist, where they splashed into the water unseen.

The boatman sighed, thought for a moment. Then he lifted the pole out of the water, swung it to the other side of the boat, and jammed it hard into the river bottom, bringing the boat about, pointing it back the way they’d come.

“What are you doing? Are you taking me back?” The surprised kid half rose from his seat.

The boatman knew what he meant. “Uh, no, kid, sorry. I can’t do that. It’s just — this boat stuff is the boring way across. I got a better idea.”


The ’68 Charger — black, of course, with a crude skull painted on each door — flew down the deserted road, leaving a wake of dust behind it. Inside, the boatman wrestled the wheel and shouted to be heard over the roar of the unmuffled hemi.

“Sorry it’s not a Trans-Am!”

The kid’s white-knuckled hands clutched at the arm rests. He was bracing one foot against the glovebox, and his eyes were bugging out, but he was smiling. He yelled back.

“No way, this rules!”

They were on top of the orange construction sign so quickly they could barely read the words “BRIDGE OUT” before it shattered into splinters against the front bumper. Then the stub of the ruined span, rising like a ramp, was in front of them, then there was a hard WHAM! as they struck it, and then there was nothing but sky in the windshield, and over the sound of the engine screaming as the wheels clawed at the air, the kid and the boatman howled in unison.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sporting 'Wood

Even a July hail storm couldn't stop the fine folks at Popps Packing here in Hamtramck from hosting yet another awesome day of Pinewood Derby racing last week! After procrastinating for way too long, I woke up at 3am a few days before the event with an idea for my car. I made a lot of plastic models as a kid - my dad even worked for a model company for a while, drawing instruction sheets - but I was never much good at it. So I created what's essentially a 3D "Wacky Pack" on wheels, and turned it into an outlet for some lightweight childhood angst. It was a little too accurate, maybe - some folks glanced over it without looking close enough to figure out it was fake and read the jokes! Anyway, it may not have been the coolest entry in the races, but it was definitely the wordiest. It's now in the collection of another local artist, with proceeds going to benefit Popps. Each panel of the box is shown below, along with a photo of the finished car (the wood block and wheels are hidden underneath).

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Oh No, Yeh Yeh!

For years, my cartoonist friend Suzanne Baumann has collected odd phrases from odd sources and written them down on the pages of blank sketchbooks, which she passes around at comic book conventions. The phrases become prompts for other cartoonists, and her sketchbooks have been filled with a lot of funny drawings over the years.

She's posted a few of mine from (yipes...) a long while ago, based on bad translations of product descriptions in a Korean confectionary catalog (!!). (Joey Ramone had recently died when I drew the sketch below, and the product description could pass for a Ramones lyric, so - there y'go.)

Spend a while browsing thru Suzanne's blog while you're there, like I did, it's full of great stuff!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Culture Vulture

A few years ago, I tried to fill up a sketchbook on the theme "I'm a Scavenger!" to submit to The Sketchbook Project. I blew the deadline, but I managed to finish comic-izing this appropriate excerpt from philosopher Jean Baudrillard's book "Fragments" (published by Verso Books). So now I'm scavenging that sketchbook for stuff to post here. (Go buy the book — this is the guy who helped inspire The Matrix, after all. Whoa...)