Monday, December 29, 2008

Now It Can Be Revealed!

This is a scan of the front and back of Dark Horse's Holiday greeting card done by yours truly. I think it all started when I tuned in various ideas for the Beanworld Holiday Special. Diana Schutz said something in passing like "I'd like to put your name in the hat for this year's holiday card." I said sure and promptly forgot about it.

Then one day in August I got an email from Di telling me that I had passed muster and was going to be given the opportunity to "magically distill the essence of others' characters in your own inimitable style" for this year's card.

Just one catch.
The assignment was on a very short deadline.
And I was already feeling behind on the Holiday Special.
But, opportunity rarely knocks twice in our business, so I decided to forgo some sleep and accept the gig.

Lia Ribacchi was the art director at Dark Horse and she was a gem to work with. She put together a great package of reference material for me. And somehow, I was able to knock out this card with its 30+ licensed characters in a bout 3 weeks.

I colored the front panel and Dan Jackson colored the inside characters.

I've done very little work-for-hire artwork over the years.
But this was a fun job.

My thanks to everyone at Dark Horse and the licensors who made this happen.
(Some of the people manning the movie studio licensing departments probably were the same folks I worked with when I was at McFarlane Toys. )

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Archival Synchronicity?

I'll let Aaron King of MEGATONik start this post:

"Every year, for the past four years, the great folks at the Comic Book Resources Classic Comics forum have participated in a Classic Comics Christmas list. Thought up and moderated by the Spectacular Kurt Mitchell, past lists have been built around favorite single issues, favorite characters, and favorite comic adaptations and merchandise. This year, the topic was favorite covers from before 1990.

So, presented here with gracious permission from Kurt Mitchell and the rest of the Classic Comics crew, are my picks for this years Twelve Days of Classic Comics Christmas.

My selections were chosen with no solid criteria but were all pulled from my personal collection. Generally I wanted them to stand on their own, regardless of the story inside. If someone needed some information from inside the comic, the cover was probably disqualified from my list. Also, I looked for pieces that were more than pretty drawings. Either they exhibited something new and weird or they utilize the form and tropes of comics in a way that moves them away from being anything other than comic art. Of course, there are pieces that break all of these rules. Enjoy."

Well, one of the covers on his list was TOTB#2.
He wrote: "Anyone that read last week’s Emanata knows how much I love Beanworld, and here’s another little dip into that strange place. Automatic points for the graphic design element of including the main illustration inside a box, and you can just feel how worn out and full those beans are despite how non-representational the art is."

Thanks for the kind words, Aaron.

This morning, I decided to dip into the Beanworld Archives looking for something to post. One of the first pieces to pop into my hand was the piece below. It's the color comp that I made for TOTB #2. I thought more like an advertising creative director than comic book creator at the time. I was very accustomed to making ad comps for client approval. I treated myself like a client and so I would do things like making full comp layouts for Beanworld ventures for myself to approve. As time went by, this internal agency/client relationship disappeared as I became more familiar with how Beanworld was perceived in the marketplace and started to make it up on the drawing board as I went along.

Anyway, as you can see, it is totally old school, a messy paste-up done with marker on layout paper and some photocopies stuck on with Spra-Mount. I can see that I thought about some decorative dingbats to be put outside the frame of the illo but decided against them and just covered then with bits of paper. Looks like I followed my layout pretty closely.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And here are links to the other two classic WGN Holiday animations from years ago.

Suzy Snowflake

Frosty the Snowman

And a warm
season's greetings
to all of you
from all of us
at Beanworld Press.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tuesday's Tantalizing Teaser!

A panel from page 50 of
"Remember Here When You Are There!"

2009 original graphic novel from Dark Horse Comics.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Holiday Tradition!

It's the holiday season and with it comes a plethora of holiday rituals, superstitions, and traditions.

Chicagoland's local television giant, WGN, had three great Christmas animation shorts that they ran continuously from Thanksgiving through the season.

Every kid that grew up in the area in the 60s and 70s has the content of these shorts seared into their memory.

The most powerful was this one--The Three Little Dwarves.

If you grew up in that part of the midwest, in that time frame, you can go up to virtually anyone and sing "I'm Hardrock. I'm Coco." And it is almost impossible that the other person won't respond by singing "I'm Joe" in the deepest bass voice they can muster.

Teachers used to be totally stymied with all the "I'm Joe" laughter that would roll around with every season.

Once Christmas vacation was over, the animation went back in the film library and out of one's daily thought process. But every year, the film would reappear to every kid's delight.

I have found that if you didn't grow up in the midwest and have access to WGN, there is a good chance you've never seen (or even heard of) this bizarre holiday classic.

The animation is quirky, jerky and the puppets look , well, weird, particularly Santa.

But it is the season and so it is time to reprise this post about Hardrock, Coco, and Joe.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hoo-Hoo-HAs & a Hoka-Hoka-HEY!

You can send your comments and questions for Beanworld Holiday Special right here.
The first online review has already been posted at CBR and I thought it was right on target.

Anyway....if you have something you'd like to say in public about BHS--you can say it here. If you want to say it in private, the addie is

And now, I gotta get back to finishing the cover for Remember Here When You Are There! 'cuz Dark Horse needs it asap!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


So not too long ago...I received an email that I've excerpted bits of below:

Dear Larry,

I am writing to inform you that I have started a Beanworld wiki on
wikia.comthe free wiki hosting service. Wikia hosts thousands of wikis on
more topics than you can shake a stick at, and I was surprised to see that there
was no Beanworld Wiki created yet, so I requested its creation, and they
approved it. (A wiki is a website users can edit and add to, the most famous
being wikipedia.)

Mark over at Beanweb has allowed us to use the content there as our own
Legendary Edge, that is jumping off point to populate the wiki with
articles. I hope to attract the beanworld community and soon have many
many editors of the Beanworld Wiki.

The URL for the Beanworld wiki is

It is my hope that the Beanworld Wiki will have even MORE content than
the Bean Web, as anyone can add to it and it just grows and grows and
grows. With new Beanworld on the horizon a wiki is just the thing to
have an up-to-date Beanworld reference on the web.

Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you and my 9
year old son and I are both anxiously awaiting Every Cutie Deserves a

I am sincerly yours,

L. Christopher Bird "ZenMondo" Sysop, Beanworld Wiki

In the off chance you don't quite understand what a wiki might is the wiki entry on wikipedia.

What ZenMondo has created is a central place where the Beanworld community can go and " populate the wiki with articles" about Beanworld that really belongs to everyone. Oh, Beanworld remains my intellectual property and all, but "Beanworld Wiki" is something that everyone can participate in. The way wiki's seem to self-regulate is that on the occasions that an entry is placed that is clearly out of is corrected by "someone-who-knows." So even though on any given day, a wiki may not be 100% correct....eventually it is going to be.

And besides I'll be there to keep an eye on it and offer up my own observations.

The BeanWeb that Mark "Half" Irons, so admirably put together a decade or more ago in the 20th century is hopefully going to be enhanced and surpassed by this incredible undertaking in the 21st century. Theoretically, this resource, in its first stages, could remain online as a resource to Beanworld fans for years, decades, as long as there are Beanworld fans someplace, somewhere.

But as a resource, for all of us, it is my hope that "Beanworld Wiki" is going to be a lot of fun. As stated in the intro: "Beanworld Wiki is a collaborative website about Larry Marder's Tales of the Beanworld. The wiki format allows anyone to create or edit any article, so we can all work together to create the site."

I got a feeling that this is gonna be tons of fun for everyone!


A rather long and detailed interview over at Are You A Serious Comic Book Reader? I'm pretty sure I talk about a few things that I've rarely, if ever, spoken about before in print. I am a very lucky comic book creator that I get asked such interesting questions!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's Beanword Holiday Special Eve!

Yep. Tomorrow, Wednesday December 17th is almost here.

And that is the day that I can officially say (for real):
The Beans Are Back!

And here is what just a few folks
out there in the fabled blogosphere
have to say about it:

But my favorite comment has to be Rich's in Lying in the Gutters:"


There’s a new issue of “Beanworld" on Wednesday/Thursday.
From Dark Horse Comics.
Stocked by all comic shops that actually like comics.

Yes this is the most important story this week, why do you ask?"

Oh, and then there is THIS!
Much, much more on THIS tomorrow!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The holidays came early at our house today!

What I'm holding in my hands here is an advance copy of Beanworld Holiday Special that arrived from Diana Schutz within the last half hour.

Am I happy with it?
You bet I am!

The production values are superb. Everything looks exactly like it is supposed to! Dark Horse's art and production team never ceases to amaze me with the amount of work and care they put into every project big and small.

I really do have to give a great big "Wahoolazuma" not only to Diana and her editorial staff, but also Matt Dryer for his work in digital production and Tina Alessi for her design work, including the new logo. About all the art direction I gave Dark Horse was "Try for a feel that's new but retro, a bit askew, and feels like going to the circus."

Also many thanks to Jeremy, Jacq, and Krystin in PR for doing a big job promoting this most peculiar comic book, and of course, the big guy, Mike Richardson for giving Beanworld a chance!

I can't wait to hear what you all have to say next week.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

So last night....

...I'm taking a break and flipping through my routine of channels. I always start at MSNBC, and if that doesn't hold my attention, or goes into commercials, I go to TCM.
Turner Classic Movies is without a doubt my favorite channel on basic cable. Not everyone has in their cable system and I really believe that I couldn't live in an area that doesn't have this essential channel.
Anyway, the movie on TCM was The Naked City, which happens to be one of those films that no matter what point the movie is at when I stumble across it--I'm almost certainly going to watch it until the end. And I did.
And lo and behold, when the film ended and Robert Osborne came on screen, sitting next to him was Frank Miller. Frank was the guest programmer last night and he picked four excellent films. I watched 'em all except during the Taking of Pelham One Two Three I dozed off for the night.
What a treat and good going Frank!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

When it rains, it pours!

It's a two-fer today.
Check out the article by Shaun Manning "Larry Marder Returns To Beanworld" that went up today on CBR.
Take my word for it, you won't be sorry that you did!

Larry Marder interview on

In advance of next week's publication of Beanworld Holiday Special, today Dark Horse posted what they billed as "A Peculiar Experience: Interview with Larry Marder." Aaron Colter asked me a whole bunch of interesting questions and I hope you'll find my answers interesting.
My favorite question was "If you could live in any magical realm, what would it consist of? "
Hit the link and read my answer!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday's Tantalizing Teaser!

The Beanworld Holiday Special is only a week away.
So here's a layout panel from "Remember Here When You Are There!"
Big twinkish goings-on up in the Beanworld sky in this new graphic novel!
(Yes, I see the typo, Diana and Brendan!)

Monday, December 8, 2008


Life is full of the most peculiar twists and turns. When our beloved calico cat, Abby died last summer way before her time, it was a tough experience. She died while I was on deadline for the Holiday Special (around page 8) and also over that weekend I had to finish drawing the Dark Horse Holiday card.

Cory and I weren't sure that we were going to get another cat any time soon and we were quite certain we weren't going to get another kitten. Our other cat, Chipper (who really is just Chips most of the time nowadays), we adopted when he was an adult. Kittens are a lot of work and we both thought we were too busy for a kitten.


Cory saw Olive at a rescue adoption center and that was that. We adopted her on our anniversary in October and life has been an adventure ever since. Olive is a Siamese mix tortie and has the softest fur on any cat I've ever owned. She is also, so far, the most affectionate cat we've had since Augie Dog died almost a decade ago. (Augie Dog lived to be 19).

Olive is a handful. But it is funny, I'm writing sequences about the rambunctiousness of the Pod'l'pool Cuties nowadays and Olive is a daily inspiration for their behavior. I know what Mr. Spook and Proffy are going through trying to keep the Cuties focused and well behaved.

I think I've mentioned in the past that I keep a cardboard box near my drawing table. In it I tend to "file" drawings, sketches, and notes after I'm finished with them. I've always had a box like that nearby for years and years. In the picture above, Olive is in the current box which is just a box that I think might have come from Trader Joe's in Phoenix. Anyway, it's the same box I had by my table there and the whole thing was moved back here and re-put into its place under my table.

Olive likes to sleep in it. So, any Beanworld historians out there in the future, all the cat fur you are finding on these sketches? Olive's 2008!

Friday, December 5, 2008

From the Beanworld Archives

Sculpture Garden #3: World's Finest Sculpture

Marker on sketchbook paper
9" x 12"
As always apologies to DC Comics

Haven't a clue why I drew this when I did....probably at a convention after a day of drawing Beanworld sketches. I reckon I liked it enough to take it home. I really do enjoy doing my own takes on other folk's characters from time to time. Heh.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tuesday Tantalizing Teaser!

My mind is so deep in the writing of Remember Here When You Are There!, next year's original graphic novel, that I almost forgot that Beanworld Holiday Special hasn't actually shipped yet.

It's only a few weeks away now--publication date is December 17.

Here is a teaser from page 15. The Beans are having a Council Meeting to discuss the education of the Pod'l'pool Cuties. It looks like Beanish has been "volunteered" revise their the curriculum.

What WILL he do?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Larry Marder on Facebook!

Yeah, yeah, I know--it took me long enough.
Anyway....I'm on Facebook here (revised).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Birthday to my beautiful, good-natured wife, Cory!

There are many things in this world that make my wife Cory oh so happy.

One is being amongst elephants in the wild.
Above is one of Cory's elephant sketches that often decorate her notes and cards.

Another is her association with A&K.
Below is Cory enjoying a cup of coca tea at the Monasterio Hotel, in Cuzco, Peru.
Happy Birthday Cory.
I love you more than any words can possibly say.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Larry Marder Interview @ Newsarama!

Plus there are some preview pages to the upcoming Dark Horse Beanworld Holiday Special.
My thanks to everyone at Newsarama and Dark Horse that made sure that this piece came out as cool as it has!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Neil Gaiman/Larry Marder drawing up for auction at CBLDF!

The press release says:

The CBLDF celebrates the 20th Anniversary of Neil Gaiman's landmark
creation Sandman with an auction of incredible original art!

Up for grabs are exciting pieces of Sandman memorabilia, including
individual works from the 20th Anniversary Poster by Colleen Doran, Mark
Buckingham, Richard Case, Jill Thompson and more! Also included are art jams
featuring Neil Gaiman and special guest artists like Mike Mignola, Paul Pope,
Jeff Smith, Eduardo Risso, Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner, and many others! We are
also offering a special convention premium from 2004's Fiddler's Green
convention, and a 1994 copy of The Comics Journal with Neil on the cover!
To bid on these items, go here!

Ah, but for me, it's a lot more than that. First let's go to Neil's words that he recently wrote on Nov 6th on his blog while plugging an interview of mine.

"Larry and I were friends for years, stopped being friends during the McFarlane nonsense, when he was working for Todd and not making art, and then went back to being friends again when he stopped working to Todd and started
doing comics again."

As I'm sure many of you are well aware, those were some pretty odd, and often stressful, times for me during those years. Private conversations you had with a friend, years later become evidence in a court of law. And all of a sudden you are being cross examined (literally!) by an attorney who's job it is is to try get you tangled up in your memories about things you didn't know you were going to have to remember years later. Probably the most painful thing about my years at McFarlane was the barrier that this put in my friendship with Neil Gaiman.

Well, once I was no longer employed by Todd McFarlane, Neil and I were no longer required to be in an adversarial position grimacing at each other across a bloody playing field.

The first time I actually ran into Neil was at a CBLDF function in New York City. It was so great to be able to shake his hand and hug him hello and not have it be strained. The pic at the left is a documentation of that meeting.

Anyway, for that event Neil did a whole bunch of drawing that took up about half a page on a 5" x 7" stock (really nice paper as I recall). It was first come first served as far as who picked out which drawing. But I definitely remember Jeff Smith, Jim Valentino, Colleen Doran and Paul Pope scribbling like mad that night. (Hmmmm, probably Nikki Cook too).

Well all of those drawings and a whole lot more, are up for auction for at a special CBLDF Sandman Birthday site.

And yes, there are some incredibly good drawings there, but, I'm not sure any of them are quite as unique as being a documentation of the rebirth of Neil Gaiman and Larry Marder friendship.

But that is exactly what this drawing is.

And it can be yours! Yes, I know times are tough, and money is getting ever tighter, but the good work that CBLDF does is just as important as it ever has been--if not more. So, if you like me and Beanworld and if you love Neil and Sandman--this is a hell of an artifact to have in your home!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

From the Beanworld Archives!

Lurking Strangers

11" x 17"
Markers, color pencils on bristol board

With the smoke from the wild fires billowing over the horizon in the distance today...this piece seems somehow appropriate. Although I'm quite certain that this drawing was actually some sort of internal dialogue I was having after working on an advertising job that had to do with antibiotics, antibacterial formulas or something germ-phobic.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Obama's Goofy Service Doodle!

Just about every poster across the Blogosphere has commented on the report that President-elect Obama allegedly is a Conan and Spider-Man fan. And just as many have commented on the drawing shown above that then Senator Obama drew while on the floor of the US Senate while it was in session.

What stuck me as funny was the fact that this rendering is in fact a Goofy Service Doodle. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the phrase, I define a Goofy Service Doodle as the following:

In other words, any time you are on someone else's payroll being paid to pay attention to the business at hand, and you are zoning out, engrossed in the scribbles coming out of the tip of your pencil or pen, then those drawings are indeed Goofy Service Doodles.

Which reminds me...I think I produced two Goofy Service Doodle Books in the '90s. Both with very low print runs and long out of print. I really should take the contents of those two books along with the Heyoka ashcan and a whole bunch of other stuff and make a small press mini-collection of these odd and obscure drawings sooner than later.

And on a final note: Barack Obama has a totally cool comic book signature, don't you you think?

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Classy Neighborhood

What a way to start my day. I'm visiting the Dark Horse offices this week to do some strategic planning and lock down the final proofs for Wahoolazuma! before it's sent off to the printers.

Every once in a while, something small will happen that reverberates BIG in my bean brain.
The above is documentation of one of those moments. As I was drinking my coffee this morning in Daian Schutz's office, I turned and saw her art file cabinet.
"Wow!" I marveled, "Beanworld sure has moved into a classy neighborhood!"

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Larry Marder @ Wordstock in Portland OR this Saturday and Sunday!

Saturday: 4:00-5:00 at Dark Horse table
Sunday: 1:00-2:00 at Dark Horse table

I will be there with Beanworld signing plates,
Beanworld Action Figures,
sneak-a-peek artwork and more!

Sorry about the short notice,
but you guys know me by now.
I'm often Mr. Last Minute.

Wordstock is Portland's Book & Literary Festival Wordstock is an annual festival of books, writers, and storytelling in Portland, Oregon. To date it has hosted over 550 writers, who have read and performed for nearly 55,000 people at past festivals.

Wordstock features ten author stages, a book fair with over 150 exhibitors, a special children’s area and children's literature stage, a series of workshops for writers and for K-12 teachers, a special broadcast of Live Wire!, the popular public radio variety show, featuring writers from the festival, and more.

Although it only began in 2005, Wordstock is already the largest celebration of literature and literacy in the Pacific Northwest, and is one of the largest festivals of its kind in the nation. Wordstock is presented by Community of Writers, a nonprofit that works to promote writing in the community and in the classroom.

Wordstock' sister program, Teacher as Writer, is a professional development program for K-12 teachers that seeks to improve student writing performance by training and supporting teachers of writing. In other words, it helps kids become better writers by making writers of their teachers. The board, staff, and volunteers who stage Wordstock are honored to help such an important and effective program make a difference in the education of thousands of children.

Wordstock is also partnering up with Stumptown this year "to raise further awareness about the changing role of visual narratives in education and pop culture. Alongside local cartoonists and writers—plus special Wordstock guests Mike Mignola (Hellboy) and Lynda Barry (What It Is) and notable creators Alison Bechdel (Fun Home) and Spain Rodriguez (Nightmare Alley)—local publishers Dark Horse Comics, Oni Press, Top Shelf, Shadowline, and Sparkplug will be participating in the fair's first 'graphic novel garden.'"

This all tumbled out of nowhere. I arbitrarily chose this weekend and planned a small, quiet pop-up to Dark Horse to do some Beanworld business with all the folks there including going over last minute correx on "Wahoolazuma" with Diana Schutz before it goes off to the printer next week.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cross Hatch Complete!

All three episodes of my SPX interview with Brian Heater are posted over at the Daily Cross Hatch.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

I'm going to try to explain, with a little more depth, with a little more clarity, what it means when I say "The characters tend to write themselves."

It is quite true and I recognize that it comes across quite nuttily. But it is true! The characters do tend to balk and get rather moody when I try to force them into situations that don't sit well them. It's almost as if they are physically resisting my pencil (or these days my stylus).
Of course, I arrogantly will try to throw my weight around as their creator and insist that I know best.

And it is always futile.

The farther off track I push them, the less they cooperate, and generally, as I said, I tend to wake up one day and acknowledge that I am defeated.

They win.

I'm force3d to agree that Mr. Spook would not say such a thing. This really isn't the way the Pod'l'pool Cuties would react to that particular situation. And I end up reworking the sequences until everyone is quite happy with me.

And of course, as I reread this, I recognize that this sounds either really pretentious or thoroughly insane.

Well, regardless, I think it does help make sure , in the end, that there will be better Beanworld stories.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Studs Terkel 1912-2008

I was never introduced to Studs Terkel but I rode home on the #147 Lake Shore Drive express bus with him for many years during the '70s and '80s.

Yeah, that's right.

Studs might have been a world famous author and radio host but he took public transportation. He was an incredibly friendly guy who would talk to people about anything, everything, as we were all jammed like sardines into the humid bowels of the CTA bus. He was hard to miss with his white hair, his red shirts, red socks, and his distinctive voice.

I was way to shy to ever ask him anything but I enjoyed listening. A lot. When he would board the bus, you'd always hear people greeting him and that was my cue to wriggle my way closer to where he might be talking. Just as often he would be hanging onto the rail and have his nose in a book or papers and then no one would bother him.

When I was growing up his WFMT radio show was quite frankly too sophisticated for my tastes. The people that he interviewed and the records he played were folks that didn't begin to interest me until I was much older. But I read his Chicago oral history book Division Street America while I was still in high school and it was a real eye opener for a suburban kid from Chicago's North Shore.

One thing that always sticks out in my mind was that Studs always promoted the blues/folk singer Big Bill Broonzy. Somehow I came into possession of a Big Bill album freshman year in high school and at the time he just wasn't my cup of tea. So I traded it to a friend for a THEM import ep that had Gloria and Baby Please Don't Go on it. I thought it was a fair enough trade then and I still do now. Not like I have any idea what happened to the disc. Like so many records from back then, it somehow just faded away.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chipper taking a snooze.

Cory is travelling as part of her job with A&K, so I'm holding down the fort at home. Chipper is our big 8 year old tom cat. When Cory is home, he pretty much sticks close to her in her office downstairs. One of his favorite spots is on top of her printer. But when Cory goes out of town, he relocates in my studio. Recently he discovered a spot behind the Cintiq. He he been snoozing there all day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tony Hillerman 1925-2008

Tony Hillerman has died at the age of 83. He was a wonderful storyteller.

Although I'm not a huge devotee of mystery novels, I much prefer non-fiction most of the time, I gave Hilllerman's books a shot on the recommendation of a former teacher and friend, Kanani Bell. He thought I might like them. Kanani's previous tip had been Milagro Beanwfield War, many moons before the film, and so I gave Hillerman a shot.

I might have started at the beginning with The Blessing Way, I'm not quite sure, it's been almost 30 years, but I really enjoyed what I read. So I kept on devouring Hillerman books until I'd consumed all that were in print. As the years went by, and his books were released, I'd generally pick 'em up and always throroughly enjoyed what I read. I recall particularly liking Skinwalkers and Thief of Time. Hillerman captured the Four Corners region so well. His descriptions of the feel of the area and its people were something I bought into completely.

I later came to know that this brand of fiction is known as "tribal mystery genre." Through the fictional vehicles of his Navajo heroes, Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee, Hillerman was able evoke for a mass audience what life is like on the modern day Navajo Reservation. It's true that these insights were seen through the lens of a non-Native American eye, but in the end, that is who the mass audience reader happens to be.

I always find thinking about other cultures and religions to be incredibly satisfying. But some are harder to absorb than others. Southwestern Native American cultures are quite rich and complex. The non-fiction books about them are usually rather dry and I often found them hard to wrap my head around. Hillerman's novels offered up a wonderful way to get a peek into the particulars of Navajo customs, culture, and beliefs.

Or as Hillerman himself said his mission was to "drag people into the Navajo culture and let them take a look at it." He believed that we as a culture might "learn a lot from the Navajo way. They place a tremendous value on taking care of your family, very little value, in fact even a negative value, on owning too many material possessions."

So, I can heartily recommend checking out any of Hillerman's tribal mystery novels if you want to immerse yourself in a time and place that is quite probably unlike your own.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cross Hatched!

Part 1 of a three part interview at the Daily Cross Hatch is online.

I met Brian Heater through our mutual pal, Jeff "JahFuurry" Newelt last spring during the blur of events that happened around New York Comic Con.

In this first installment I mention:

"...about two years ago, I just sort of collected all of the pieces,
and I actually found, in my own archives, a bunch of story fragments that were
clipped together in a certain order.

It was like I had done this, 10, 12 years ago, to say, “hey Larry, you’re going to forget about all of this, but some day in the future, you’re gonna find this. This is what you intended, but you’re about to forget,” and I did."

That was a freaky day when I found that on the bottom of a pile of collected chaos in the Beanworld archives. Clearly I had done this while I was still in Chicago, and here it was in a big pile of papers in my weekday place in Phoenix. That meant that it had been unknowingly transported to California, moved two or three times and then made it out to AZ.

I still don't know what that quite possible--but there it was.
Weird, huh?
Stuff like this happens to me all the time.

I'll let you know when the other parts go up.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

From The Beanword Archives!

Skull and Crossbones, sorta
6" x 11"
Colored markers and rapidograph on card stock
The drawing is undated and the card stock has aged into this creamy color. I suspect that is because at some point it was mounted on something else--because the backside is streaked with the markings of a rubber cement brush. That clue, along with the style, gives me a hint of the year I drew it--probably the late '70s. I might even hazard a guess that I'd been working on a layout for a toxic insecticide or something that day and went home and drew this. I used to do that sort of thing a lot.
I really only used rubber cement from the mid-70s to around 1980 when I (for better or for worse) switched to Spra-Mount. Rubber cement was primitive and pretty much was guaranteed to stay stuck for only a few short years. Spra-Mount seems to last far, far longer sometimes. but it is really messy, nasty stuff and fortunately I don't seem to have to use any of that sort of gunk'l'dunk anymore.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday Tantalizing Teaser!

An electronic "blue pencil" sketch for an idea that is worming its way into next year's original graphic novel "Remember Here When You Are There!"

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Wahoolazuma Correx!

Well, this is what I've been doing the last several days--looking over the marked-up proofs of the brand-new scans of all the pages for Larry Marder's Beanworld: Wahoolazuma!

Diana Schutz , Brendan Wright, Matt Dryer, and others on the amazing art and editorial crews at Dark Horse have done a fabulous job of capturing all the nuances of line work on the original pages. Plus they are correcting a lot of the silly typos and art errors that sneaked through the first printings (and subsequent reprintings). In correspondence, Diana charmingly calls the revision mark-ups "the correx." I don't know if this a Diana term, a Dark Horse term, or even become an industry term while I was off in the world of toy making. But it is forever part of my vocabulary NOW!

It's been the first time I've really looked at every line, of every frame, since the pages were first published in the individual pages of Tales of the Beanworld. The first trade paperback printings were from the original films and whatever dumb mistakes were in the comics were automatically also in the trades.

It is exciting to be revisiting these stories. I really, truly can't wait for these volumes to be out in the marketplace available to an entire new generation of potential Beanworld fans. It is indeed a totally whahoolazuma proposition!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

From the Beanworld Archives!

I'm home and back in the saddle in the studio. Just doing the finishing touches for the cover art for Larry Marder's Beanworld Book Two: A Gift Comes! If everything goes according to plan--it will be on sale June 9, 2009. Like Book One--it will be an affordable hardcover with all the pages of story rescanned from the original artwork.

But the drawing above has absolutely nothing to do with Larry Marder's Beanworld Book Two: A Gift Comes! except that it from the same era that those original Beanworld stories were originally drawn.

I don't think that this piece was actually ever published. If it was, I'm not sure where. Assuming my memory serves me correctly, this piece was drawn for a Canadian Batman fanzine that was supposed to be published around the time of the first Tim Burton movie.

I think T. M. Maple asked me to contribute to it and that somehow the plans for the 'zine fell apart due to the ever zealous and vigilant Warner Brothers legal department that didn't really quite understand what purpose a fanzine served in the food chain of fandom.

I could be wrong. But that is what I remember. Anyway, I always liked this idea a lot.

Beanworld Buzz Abounds!
Stuff about Beanworld (good, bad, and indifferent) keeps popping up on the Internet and so I thought I'd pass some of it along to you.

I have no idea what this might say--but it is clearly about Beanworld

Are You A Serious Comic Book Reader?

Reid Harris Cooper


Heck, It’sa Buncha Comics, You Betcha!

The Daily Cross Hatch

Howling Curmudgeons

A Nice Cup of Rabies

Hi! (Books, bikes, movies and me)

Ernie's 3D Pancakes

Comic Geek Speak

Comic Books Beta

Comics and Other Imaginary Tales

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bernie Marder: 1915-2008

My dad, Bernie Marder, died over the weekend. He was 93 years old and he had the most incredible life. Over his long life, he was an inventor with several patents, a pharmacist, and a manufacturer. He didn't retire until he was well into his 80s. And above all he was a great father. He had been in failing health for a long time and been in a hospice program, at home, since last spring.

I was fortunate enough to spend the entire week with him last week, before going off to SPX. Even though he was acutely aware of the fact that he was nearing the end of the line, he was clear headed and we had a terrific time together. A lot of laughing. Although I don't think he ever really totally understood Beanworld, he was one of its biggest boosters.

I'm in Chicago this week with my Mom and family. Although we miss our Dad, there is no cause for mourning--we are celebrating his long life.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hoo-Hoo-HA & A Hoka-Hoka HEY! We Got BOINGED!'s true. The Beanworld (and me too) got a rollicking good write up on Boing Boing today!

This is a site I've long admired, and honestly, never thought I'd have an opportuntity to get noticed by. The piece itself was written by Douglas Ruskoff, a great observer of trends in technology, media, and popular culture.

His book, Get Back In The Box, had a profound effect on me last year. He clearly articulated the disturbing trends in business that I'd been struggling to describe for the last decade. His observation, "When things are down, CEO’s look to consultants and marketers to rethink, re-brand or repackage whatever it is they are selling, when they should be getting back on the factory floor, into the stores, or out to the research labs where their product is actually made, sold, or conceived.... Having for too long replaced innovation with acquisitions, tactics, efficiencies, and ad campaigns, many businesses have dangerously lost touch with the process – and fun - of discovery."

The fun of discovery.
That has always been my philosophy.
If you aren't laughing and free associating in a meeting, chances are the meeting isn't a meeting at all--it is an executive briefing.

Almost all of the good ideas I helped foster or broker in my tenures at Image Comics and McFarlane Toys came out left field, ideas that materialized when we were in search of something else. I can not imagine doing business in any other fashion.

All I can say is, thanks for the kind words Mr Rushkoff. Even though we don't know each other personally, I think it's fair to say, we share a deep appreciation of each other's work!

Beanworld Buzz:
I haven't actually seen it myself yet, but Greg Burgas on CBR reports that in the new Diamond Previews "pages 26 and 27 bring us a Beanworld collection (4 Feb.) and a new Christmas Special (17 Dec.)."

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday's Tantalizing Teaser???

"Mixa Spoog, what am these?"

Not quite sure if this qualifies as a genuine teaser or not. It's the splash page for a story intended for the Beanworld Holiday Special, but a day or so into writing it, I got a more appropriate idea that turned into the story "Every Cutie Deserves A Toy!"
The first story had a lot of potential too, so I'm certain it will nudge its way back into the Beanworld continuity when we least expect it.
The drawing itself is a "real" pencil sketch on Bienfang 360 layout paper.

Don't forget--I'll be at SPX this weekend!

Saturday, September 27, 2008



Saturday October 4th and Sunday October 5th!

Marriott Bethesda North Hotel & Conference Center across from the White Flint Metro Station

Show Hours: Saturday 11:00am - 7:00 pm
Sunday noon - 6:00pm

One Day Admission $8.00
Weekend Admission $15.00

I wasn't sure I was going to be able to make this trip or not until the last minute. I'm not an official guest--you won't find me in any of the convention hype or included in any of their announcements. I don't even have a table to set up at...BUT...I am going to be at the show and I will to be doing a signing or two at CBLDF's booth. I'm looking forward to meeting and have an opportunity to work with CBLDF's new folks, Mike Scigliano - Deputy Director and Jill Friedman - Fundraising Manager.

More details as this story develops!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wrigley's Mother Goose!

As I've written many times before, one of my favorite blogs is BibliOdyssey. Yet again, here is a really good example of why I am so fond of Pecay's site.

The illo above is the back cover to an amazing little pop culture artifact titled "Wrigley's Mother Goose introducing the Sprightly Spearmen."

All 24 pages plus the covers are on the Iowa Digital Library site and it is quite a happy, fun-filled read. According to the indicia date on the cover it was published in 1915.

William Wrigley hardly invented chewing gum, but he really perfected the marketing of it. After stubbing his toe with his first two flavors "Lotta" and"Vassar" he hit the mother lode with "Juicy Fruit" in 1893 and "Spearmint" in 1894. "Doublemint" was launched in 1914. Wrigley had the vision to understand that the future of consumer good was in "branded products. "

He strongly believed in the power of advertising. He promoted his gum through the use of advertisements that emphasized the benefits of chewing Wrigley's gums. He touted its freshness, that it was packaged in a sanitary package, that it stimulated the appetite, aided digestion, and just generally gave you pep. His advertisng credo was "Tell 'em quick and tell 'em often."

Wrigley's Mother Goose booklets were so popular, that the theme was continued for over a decade, migrating into magazine ads during the '20s.

If anyone thinks that manufacturers advertising their products directly into the paths of children's consciousness is some sort of contemporary phenomenon--think again. This is a tried and true formula and it has never really gone away. It just ebbs and flows.

The Sprightly Spearmen are my kind of advertising critters!

Also don't forget to make sure that your favorite Dark Horse Comics retailer orders plenty of:

Larry Marder's Beanworld: Wahoolazuma!

Beanworld Holiday Special

"Tell 'em quick and tell 'em often!"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday Tantalizing Teaser

This "blue pencil" layout sketch is a detail of what currently is page 38 of next year's all new graphic novel "Remember Here When You Are There."

This will be a black and white companion to the two hardcover reboot volumes--the first being "Wahoolazuma!"

As you will see in the color Beanworld Holiday Special, the Pod'l'pool Cuties are growing up fast, and they will experience quite a maturity spurt within the story arc of the new graphic novel.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My Moore Memories

It's linked in every entertainment blog by now, but I first read it in today's LA TIMES while drinking my first cup of java. It's a smoking piece about Alan Moore by Geoff Boucher.

Spurge has a really great critique of the piece and Alan's positions stated in it.
I really can't add much more to that, but, having spent time on both sides of the fence over the years, I agree that Alan's opinions really are well worth considering.

I do look forward to viewing The Mindscape of Alan Moore when I have opportunity to do so.

I only met Alan once, when he came to Comic Con in 1985 in the midst of the Miracleman launch brouhaha--the details of which I'd long forgotten but this article refreshed my memory. It was my first Comic-Con. I was a bit overwhelmed by it's size and pace (which is quite funny in hindsight, considering how incredibly small it was then compared to now!)

But I met Alan Moore right before, during, or after he signed the certificates. He knew that I'd created the Miracleman ads for Eclipse and he complimented me on them. Then he blew me away, by saying some amazingly kind and incredibly insightful words about Beanworld.

He even offered to write a back-up story for me which, really quite honestly, left me speechless. I'll be frank, I never would have taken him up on the offer. Hell, I only had two issues of TOTB under my belt at that point and I was scared to death he might see something in Beanworld that I'd totally overlooked and freak me out into a state of absolute paralysis.

My other conversations with Alan were on the phone. In 1993, at the tail end of my tenure at Moondog's, I did a bunch of freelance ad work for Jim Valentino's studio, Shadowline, for the marketing of 1963. I remember that I had a lot of fun writing and designing these ads. I'm sure others had input in them, I don't really remember the details. (Jimmy V and I have been best pals for almost 25 years--but when it comes to remembering who did what in almost anything we collaborated on--we both tend to remember that me, not the other guy, did most of it. I kid you not. At this point, I think we both find it funny, and in most cases, beyond confirmation anyway.)

These ads definitely were links in the chain of events that eventually landed me in the Executive Director position at Image Comics. After I arrived at Image, I talked sporadically to Alan on the phone about various things he was working on in the Image pipeline. He worked on books for Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, and Jim Lee and I think I got into various bits of the marketing that I needed his point of view on--something like that.

But the best thing was something indirect--I will never forget listening to his verbal synopsis of his graphic novel WarChild he created for Rob Liefeld. It was a dystopian retelling of the Arthurian mythos done in a crazed version of LA. When he got to the center of the mythos, which was that "Arthur puts the sword back into the stone" I swear my hair stood on end, it was such an engrossing tale.

The first script was amazing. Every artist that tried pencilling it choked. As far as I can tell, it was never produced and I haven't a clue as to what happened to it or who owns it.