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:
The Asheville Mountain Xpress paper contacted me to do another cover illustration. This time, not a humorous, cartoon approach, but something to reflect the story inside about the many monuments, and streets in the city named after, or memorializing figures from the city’s confederate past.
This was the cover that ended up being published for that issue:
Here is the finished art sent to the paper before the cover text was added and adjustments made by the staff graphics department: Shown below, the sketches and roughs I went through in coming up with a concept to meet the needs of the story’s author. He wanted something to show the history that went on around the monument in question (The Vance Monument) and allude to the other historical markers of street names, etc.
Maybe a silhouette of a modern youth (a desire to use children reflecting upon the monument(s) and their meaning was one element suggested to be needed) observing the Vance monument and a history of transportation was considered.
Adding confederate flags to one side (the past) and modern skyscraper to the present side was another idea.
Also considered were confederate and US flags on either side and just mountains and old and modern cityscapes. Ultimately, we decided to go with the idea of two kids, one black, one white and I had the idea to not even show the actual monument, but rather the kids looking up at it and the shadow of it looming large (they used my suggested title of “Shadows of the Past” too).
There were discussions about why only boys were shown, so I added girls from each race as well and that was the combination they ultimately went with.
2016 got such a bad rap that it was a popular joke to cheer its demise. I used that prevalent sentiment when commissioned by the Asheville Mountain Xpress to come up with a new year’s issue cover illustration.
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
This year I was asked to do something with local architectural elements, such as the winged lions (I’ve been told they are notgriffins, 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.
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.
2013 Halloween cover for Mountain Xpress by Brent Brown
2012 Halloween cover for Mountain Xpress by Brent Brown
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.
u Asheville Halloween ideas
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
Horizontal version, as ran in the printed issue. Click to make larger.
Last year I did a Halloween/Election cover (and inside Halloween art) for the local alt-weekly paper in Asheville: The Mountain Xpress. This year, they wanted another one, so I had to come up with a new idea and it was a little harder to try to combine the two. Here are some of the things I doodled and brainstormed on before coming up with the one we used.
The final cover ended up looking like this once the heads and subheads were added:
2013 Mountain Xpress Halloween Cover by Brent Brown
I thought it was funny using the names of actual candies like Mr. Goodbar and Milk Duds to represent candidates that may be good or duds and having the costumed children/voters have to just pick one and hope for the best.
Some people didn’t think it was an original idea, but I promise if it was not, it was unintentional, as I can’t claim to have read every single other publication in every little or big market in the previous decades to make sure we were using something no one had ever thought of before regarding the common occurrence of these two events being so close together!
Anyway, I also drew some inside illustrations, the paper said they wanted. They just meant some bats or cobwebs or something, but I thought they wanted more and spent too much time drawing these classic monsters with appropriate Halloween candy to go inside:
Some of them actually got used!
And finally, my weekly cartoon in that issue needed to be Halloween-related as well (I thought, anyway) and so it turned out like so:
Ideally, a good local cartoon can cover several themes at once. In this case, I thought I had come up with a good way to cover something both topical and fun to draw (the upcoming annual Asheville “Zombiewalk” and the ongoing complaints of downtown panhandlers.
The Zombiewalk, which reached its zenith locally on 10/10/10, had now been relegated to an ordered pub crawl rather than the former large-scale (and apparently unwelcome) city-wide parade through the streets that said city leaders put an end to by way of imposing an unreasonably expensive permit fee upon the walk organizers, forcing them to downscale to a walk the previous year held at a “dead” mall on the outskirts of town, and this particular year within the confines of various downtown drinking establishments.
Combining this sight with the often-complainted-about gauntlet of downtown panhandlers (of which I had just read several gripes in the comments at the bottom of many online newspaper stories regarding downtown) that many have to pass by, seemed to me to be a pretty good joke. Especially since “braiiiiins” sounds so much like “chaaaaange” amongst the other similarities of hapless pedestrians being the recipients of the unwanted attention of large groups wanting something from them.
About nine days later, the following article shows up on the Mountain Xpress site:
“Dignity and respect” parade for homeless planned for Oct. 26
Members of the Asheville Homeless Network plan a parade to “promote dignity and respect for the homeless,” tomorrow, Oct. 26 at 2 p.m.
By Bill Rhodes on 10/25/2012 11:47 AM
The event starts with a rally at Pritchard Park and a walk to City Hall, says organizer Raven Al’Rashid. She notes the hope of making “a more public voice for the issues of the homeless and homelessness here in Asheville.”
Al-Rashid explains that a recent cartoon in Xpress by Brent Brown was a particular concern to the group. “It is hard enough out on the street without people thinking you are monsters,” she says.In the cartoon, Brown compared homeless people to the Zombie pub crawl held downtown. “We are not monsters, and we invite Mr. Brown to join the parade and educate himself on the real issues,” said Al’Rashid.”Another of the parades’ organizers, Noah Harbin points out “Yes, homelessness is a problem. Homeless people are not the problem, only the symptom.”
click to enlarge
So here we go with the homeless advocates complaining about a cartoon again. Even though I have done many cartoons in the past that are sympathetic to the plight of the homeless and even though this cartoon is specifically addressing panhandlers, not homeless people (not every panhandler is homeless and not all homeless are panhandlers, maybe some people should look at the type of broad generalizations they themselves employ). Also, the “monsters” in the comic are people pretending to be zombies, no one in the comic or real life thinks they are actual monsters.
As a reflection of how different groups can see the same cartoon, the folks over at Ashtoberfest, who sponsor the Zombiewalk, were apparently unaware of the cartoon’s role as a malevolent attack on human dignity and saw it as (gasp!) a funny cartoon!
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?
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
They liked the Republican elephant Frankenstein monster and the Democratic donkey Dracula, so I ended up drawing both of those for inside illustrations:
Finally, the weekly cartoon I also have to draw was a Halloween-Election theme too: