New MX Cover Art: Woodfin’s Greenway

Another cover assignment from the Asheville paper, The Mountain Xpress, and this time it was more cartoony. It required much going on in one illustration to show the intended happy use of the the Greenway and Blueway aspirations that the nearby town of Woodfin has for building such a destination. Complete with a whitewater feature and a railway. Nearby, the old, disused husk of the old Craggy Correctional Facility was meant to show the more realistic depiction of the area as it is now, in contrast to the idyllic dreamways.

Here is the original finished art before it was modified for the published print issue version above:

And here is one of the rough sketch ideas of the concept in formation:

2016 Mountain Xpress Halloween Cover

For the third year (not in a row) I’ve been commissioned to come up with a Halloween themed cover design for the local Asheville alt weekly paper, The Mountain Xpress.

2016 Halloween cover for Mountain Xpress by Brent Brown

2016 Halloween cover for Mountain Xpress by Brent Brown

This year I was asked to do something with local architectural elements, such as the winged lions (I’ve been told they are not griffins, as they do not have the head of an eagle, just the body of a lion, with wings, but then again, I’ve read they could be either) at the Grove Arcade building. I toyed with a few ideas and we narrowed it down to just the lion statues at the Grove Arcade.

mxcoverhalloween-2016-rough3 mxcoverhalloween-2016-rough mxcoverhalloween-2016-rough2 mxcoverhalloween-2016-rough1 grovearcadedrawings

I thought that was a cool thing to play with, so I looked the historic structure up on Google Street View to get a straight-ahead view of it, then took it into a vector program and made a simple vector-art version of it that I could then distort into an extreme, bug’s-eye view perspective to add some dramatic flair to it. I then used the handy 3-D artist’s model bodies in Manga Studio (now called Clip Studio Paint for some reason) to get the correct perspective and anatomy for the hipster-clown the animated architectural animals would be attacking on All Hallow’s Eve.

The gryphons/lions I had to just create from a reference photo and so their perspective is not as extreme, since I wanted to keep them recognizable in their newly-animated, attack versions and I also had to kind of figure out their perspective on my own.

Then, it was just a matter of drawing the correct details on the reference model, arranging it with the lions I drew, rendering out lighting and shade and details on the Arcade and generally improving the whole composition, while leaving space for the heads and subheads that were to come in later.

The previous covers combined Halloween with the election, since they fell so close to the same time that year. That was fun, but also hard to come up with anything new that hasn’t already been done before since the last day in October and the first Tuesday in November are always in close approximation each year and it’s a visually and satirically temptation to want to somehow link the two. I was glad I didn’t have to do that this year, as I had already used up all my ideas previously.

2012 Halloween cover for Mountain Xpress by Brent Brown

2013 Halloween cover for Mountain Xpress by Brent Brown

2012 Halloween cover for Mountain Xpress by Brent Brown

2012 Halloween cover for Mountain Xpress by Brent Brown

Drawlloween 2015: Day 7


A traditional Halloween trope. I didn’t do anything funny or clever on this one, but I did pick a specific haunted house: the one from the original The Amityville Horror movie.

Inked horizontally in sketchbook:

click to make larger

click to make larger

and scanned in and levels set better to eliminate brush strokes and lighted paper:

click to make larger

click to make larger

2014 Mountain Xpress Halloween Art

In 2012 and 2013, the alt-weekly paper I do a weekly cartoon for, The Mountain Xpress in Asheville, NC, has asked me to come up with and create a Halloween-Election themed cover for that particular week’s issue.

This year, they just wanted Halloween ideas , but local Halloween ideas. So I came up with a bunch, mostly playing on the current “beer city” spate of breweries and such that seem to be cropping up locally.

Then Margaret, one of the editors tells me, “Looks like we’re going a different direction for the cover for Oct. 29, but I like your cartoon ideas for that issue.” So I used some of the ideas for my usual (but not as high-paying as a cover assignment, just the same amount of work) inside cartoon.

For the cover, they ended up not going with a humorous cartoon theme, but rather using a nicely done, local landmarks, spooky cover design from Jason Krekel instead. I think it turned out well, but I kind of wish they had just decided to do that from the beginning, and not wasted my time.

Asheville Halloween ideas

u Asheville Halloween ideas

AVL Halloween ideas for cartoons

AVL Halloween ideas for cartoons

Some of the ideas for the cover did end up taking the form of this weekly cartoon, which I spent a lot of time on coloring for best effect. I think it turned out pretty good, but it seemed to garner the same “meh.” response from the public as any other, less work-intensive cartoon I would do, (as far as I can tell from online and social media responses, anyway). Here is a vertical version I made for online use and the actual, horizontal one that ran in the print issue:

finished MX AVL Halloween cartoon 2014 vertical

finished MX AVL Halloween cartoon 2014 vertical


Horizontal version, as ran in the printed issue. Click to make larger.

2012 Mountain Xpress Halloween Art

The local alt-weekly paper in Asheville, NC that I draw a weekly cartoon for asked me to draw a humorous Halloween and Election cover for the issue that would fall on the week of both those events.

I gave them some roughs and thumbnails and sketches for some classic monsters (Dracula, Mummy, Invisible Man, Frankenstein’s monster, wolf man, etc.) and, on a different tack, maybe a jack-o-lantern and a ballot box?

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We ended up doing some of them voting in different, yet appropriate ways:

The invisible man is voting, of course, absentee ballot and a ghost voting reinforces the often-cited claim that dead people are voting in our elections, incurring the wrath of an angry, 17th century voter fraud mob. Dracula and his vampire fangs prefer punch ballots and Frankenstein’s creature doesn’t know his own strength when even using a tombstone touch screen ballot.

2012 Halloween cover for Mountain Xpress by Brent Brown

2012 Halloween cover for Mountain Xpress by Brent Brown

They liked the Republican elephant Frankenstein monster and the Democratic donkey Dracula, so I ended up drawing both of those for inside illustrations:

democratula republistein mxhalloweenissuebb

Finally, the weekly cartoon I also have to draw was a Halloween-Election theme too: