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Review: 'The Sakai Project: Artists Celebrate Thirty Years of Usagi Yojimbo'

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The Sakai ProjectStan Sakai created his first Usagi Yojimbo story in Steve Gallacci’s Albedo: Anthropomorphics #2 comic book, November 1984. Only 2,000 copies were printed.

From there, Usagi Yojimbo has grown to become a very famous comic book, traveling through several publishers, the most recent being Dark Horse Comics since 1996. The comic has always been written and drawn by Stan Sakai. During that time, he has become one of the most popular artists in the professional comic-book community, for his friendliness and readiness to join in numerous benefit projects. When furry fan artist Michael-Scot McMurry was dying of cancer in 2000, he drew the cover for a benefit comic book for McMurry’s expenses for an operation, showing Usagi and McMurry’s Zonie the coyote fighting monsters.

Stan has often been an attendee of furry conventions, sometimes with his wife, Sharon, and their two daughters. I remember one convention, probably a ConFurence in the mid-1990s, where Stan’s daughter Hannah, then about 3 years old, tried to climb up Kjartan Arnörsson, a lean 6'9". Stan was a member of Rowrbrazzle, the furry amateur press association, from 1990 to 1998. He is a member of the Furry Hall of Fame. His Usagi Yojimbo won the Ursa Major Award in the Best Anthropomorphic Comic Book category in every year from 2001 to 2005. He has also won non-furry awards such as the Eisners, a Parent's Choice Award, the Comic-Con's Inkpot, Spain's Haxtur Award and many others. He has been a furry convention guest-of-honor on three continents, at an Anthrocon, a EuroFurence and an Australian MiDFur.

If you have not heard – it has been widely publicized - Stan’s wife Sharon has had an inoperable brain tumor for the past decade. It was mild at first, but has gotten progressively worse until she is now confined to bed and in need of round-the-clock care. The Sakais have medical insurance, but their medical expenses have far exceeded the amount of the insurance. Dark Horse Comics and the Comic Art Professional Society have organized The Sakai Project, this 160-page hardcover book, to both celebrate Usagi Yojimbo’s 30th anniversary and as a benefit project for the Sakais’ medical expenses. All proceeds go to them. Dark Horse is not even reimbursing itself for the printing expenses.

By various, foreword by Mark Evanier, preface by Tone Rodriguez, Milwaukie, OR, Dark Horse Books, July 2014, hardcover $29.99 (160 pages).

Review: 'Felix the Cat Paintings', by Don Oriolo

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Felix the Cat Paintins by Don OrioloThis is a beautiful but chaotic collection of full-color paintings of Felix the Cat, by Don Oriolo.

There are at least five title pages and subtitles, all different, plus a foreword by Craig Yoe and short essays or tributes by comic book and animation experts, historians and, in the book’s term, aficionados Mark Evanier, Jerry Beck, David Gerstein and Paul Castiglia. The most important subtitles are A collection of paintings from the prolific imagination of the Felix the Cat guy and Curated, designed and edited by Rod Ollerenshaw. Another is The Felix the Cat Paintings of Don Oriolo.

To add to the confusion, there are websites and copyright statements for donoriolocollection.com, ollerenshawworkshop.com, © 2014 Felix the Cat Productions, Inc. and © 2014 Gussoni-Yoe Studio. Inc.

Included are full-page photographs of Don Oriolo with Craig Yoe, two of the essayists, actor-artist Tony Curtis and some of his paintings.

Foreword by Craig Yoe, San Diego, CA, IDW Publishing, February 2014, hardcover $34.99 (unpaged [168 pages]).

Review: 'The Art of Henrieke', by Henrieke Goorhuis

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The Art of HenreikeThis is the fourth volume in Sofawolf PressArtistic Visions series of art-sketch format albums, each showcasing one of the best artists in furry fandom. Each is a professional artist, but is especially well-known in furry fandom for convention conbook covers, badge art and other commissioned art, and trades with other Furry artists; many of which are posted on DeviantART, Fur Affinity and other art websites.

The art in these albums emphasize anthropomorphized-animal cartoons and similar humorous work, rather than realistic animal depictions. Other Artistic Visions albums have showcased the work of Hibbary (Hillary Leutkemeyer), Brian and Tracy Reynolds, Kenket (Tess Garman) and Ursula Vernon. These are all American artists.

The Art of Henrieke is the first to feature a European artist. Henrieke Goorhuis, a Dutch artist born in 1990, has become very popular in just the last five years for European Furry convention art and T-shirts, commissioned art featuring fans’ personal icons and for commissioned art for European zoos. Her most popular character is her own cartoon icon, Kiki the ring-tailed lemur.

Good artbooks speak for themselves. Almost every page of The Art of Henrieke: Sketches, Works in Progress, and Commentary by the Artist is crammed with sketches and finished line art.

St. Paul, MN, Sofawolf Press, January 2014, trade paperback $14.95 (75 [+ 1] pages).

That’s A Lotta Monkeys…

“Jerome Lu was born in Mountain View and raised in the Bay Area by a family of wild monkeys. Even when he was a small chimp, they could see that he believed every crayon in the box had magical powers, and he would transform blank pages into colorful, fantastic worlds filled with monkeys, ninjas, robots and all his craziest dreams. His wild monkey relations soon recognized his artistic talent and nurtured it with a diet of Skittles and Corn Nuts. They made sure his art education included Saturday morning cartoons and ABC After School Specials. Now that Jerome has grown up to be a big monkey, they are quite proud that his childhood creativity has never diminished. In fact, it has grown, and he is working on his biggest art project to date: Constructing a 20-story ultimate monkey ninja robot.” Got all that? It’s all come together at Hyperactive Monkey, Jerome Lu’s web site of crazy colorful artwork, books, t-shirts, animation, and a whole lot more.

 

image c. 2014 by Jerome Lu

image c. 2014 by Jerome Lu

The Panda and His Friends in Public

“In 2009, Han L. Lee released an character inspired clothing line entitled The Public Zoo. The Public Zoo is a collaboration of fashion and art. The art on the clothing is heavily inspired by Japanese and Korean character art.” There you have it, right from the artist’s web site. It’s all based around an imaginative panda name Hickup, and his friends like Hopkido the Ninja Rabbit and Miso — the hamster in a cup. All of which are available as prints, household items, and also as wearable art of course.

image c. 2014 by Han L. Lee

image c. 2014 by Han L. Lee

A Fat Pampered Cat

Frans Vischer grew up using his drawings as a way to communicate after his parents immigrated with him to America from Holland. That practice from an early age won him the sponsorship of animation legend Chuck Jones, an admission to CalArts… and eventually a job in animation for himself. Over the years he’s worked on such films as Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Cat’s Don’t Dance, and The Princess and the Frog. More recently he’s parlayed his talents into his own line of illustrated children’s book.  In the first, Jimmy Dabble, a young farm-boy befriends his barnyard animal friends and later saves the day with his unusual method of doing chores. For his second book, Mr. Vischer introduced the world to Fuddles — a pr0udly over-sized cat, based on the author’s own real-life household companion. He’s also introduced a line of Fuddles prints. You can find them and more at his web site, including a look at his upcoming third book, A Very Fuddles Christmas.

image c. 2014 by Frans Vischer

image c. 2014 by Frans Vischer

Furries From Around The World

East coast artist David DePasquale is a visual development and character designer, with a notable talent for designing animal-based characters. His latest project is an alphabet flash-card series of prints with different animals from different countries all over the globe. His blogspot web site has many of his most current sketches, and his 2014 portfolio was recently uploaded as well.

image c. 2014 by David DePasquale

image c. 2014 by David DePasquale

Black and White. Shaken, not Stirred.

“He goes by ‘Panda’, but NO ONE, not even me, knows his true name. I am just one of the many CIA agents that follow him along on his adventures. He’s either saving the world.. or destroying it!” So goes the introduction to Panda & Me, an original art “adventure series” created by artist Sandra Fremgen. After working for years in the gift industry as an illustrator and designer, Sandra decided to create something for herself. And you can see the results (and also buy them as prints) at the official Panda & Me web site. Sign up for her newsletter and she’ll even send you an original sketch.

image c. 2014 by Sandra Fremgen

image c. 2014 by Sandra Fremgen

Art from Oregon

Here’s how this artist describes himself: Matt Doering is an Illustrator/Concept Artist based in Eugene, Oregon currently working as a Production Artist and UI Designer at Disney Interactive for mobile and social games.  Matt also works as a freelance illustrator, most recently completing his first children’s book The Story of Magic Kringle, written and created by Alice Cosgrove.” His web site also has numerous examples of his character design work, as well as some of the animation he’s worked on. Of note: Matt did color design and visual development on The Girl and the Fox, an award-winner short animated film written and directed by Tyler J. Kupferer.

image c. 2014 by Matt Doering

image c. 2014 by Matt Doering

The Ladies and Their Dragons

The Art Lair is the official web site of writer and artist Jessica C. Feinberg, “a quirky writer and illustrator who is best known for mixing mundane and magic in her paintings of trees, dragons, faeries, and clockwork creatures” (her own words). Dragons seem to be the primary motif here — that is, dragons and the pretty human ladies they seem to hang around with a lot. Jessica has created both illustrations (many available as prints) as well as illustrated books like Dragon Scale: A Guide to Dragons and Dragons in the Library.

image c. 2014 Jessica C. Feinberg

image c. 2014 Jessica C. Feinberg

Animals Real, Funny, and Fantasy

According to Chelsea Kenna in her bio, “I majored in illustration and graduated with a BFA from Laguna College of Art and Design. I’ve worked in social and mobile gaming as a Lead Artist and concept artist, and currently work as a freelance illustrator.” And maker of fine prints and art portfolios as well. Her collection book The Art of Chelsea Kenna Volume 1 is available on her web site, as are her prints and an ever-growing collection of sketches. Check this: She also does pet portraits.

image c. 2014 by Chelsea Kenna

image c. 2014 by Chelsea Kenna

Chaos in Color

VanAnnies is the official web site of the artist Annie Dunn. She describes it like this: “This site hosts the BLOG for Chaos Annie, the artist behind Chaos in Color, a fine art shoppe of good humoured magic and mythology.” And lots of full-on portraits of animals in fantasy settings, too. She has a large selection of prints available for most of her work.

image c. 2014 by Annie Dunn

image c. 2014 by Annie Dunn

Art With Issues

“Sebastien Millon is an artist.  His work is noted for its lack of vision and his art is usually muddled in a turbid stew of crockery.” That’s what the artist says about himself! We don’t think you’ll agree if you visit his web site and see his surreal (to put it mildly) collection of art and comic strips. Funny animals abound… often enough, all over  you! Some of his more pithy stuff is also available as prints or on t-shirts. Go play outside more often.

image c. 2014 by Sebastien Millon

image c. 2014 by Sebastien Millon

Stylish Kitties

Cynthia Petrovic is an artist and illustrator who has worked as a story-board artist at places like Warner Brothers Television Animation. Branching out on her own, she created a line of artwork and other products called Red Tango, based around her fascination for critters — especially rather slim and stylized felines. She has a very animated interactive web page that  includes not only her current products but also samples of her story-board work.

image c. 2014 by Cynthia Petrovic

image c. 2014 by Cynthia Petrovic

She Gets Around

Talk about a well-rounded Artist! Zoe Moss is a graduate of CalArts in Southern California who now works as an artist, experimental animator, character designer, storyboard artist, puppet fabricator, and voice actor.  (Oh is THAT all??) Her humor is on display regularly at Pizza Day Comics, which has also recently been gathered into a comic book. Then there’s her main web site, with the unlikely title of Brainfarto. Yes really.

image c. 2014 by Zoe Moss

image c. 2014 by Zoe Moss

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