The Animatress Pipeline

Filmmaking Adventures

Frail Lives Matter

The frail are valuable, as well. Or should I say coin a catch phrase Frail Lives Matter? These are high school and 15 year reunion photos of my friends and our beloved high school art teacher who got us all into the colleges that launched our careers. I would’ve had a very different life as a green card bride if it weren’t for Mrs. Pannone. I would’ve produced unwanted children that ended up shot up by the police, not lovely paintings, books and films. I would’ve been your stereotypical, angry Black mother; abandoned with her children with little or no futures. More statistics. Marsha saved me and did the same for everyone in these photos and more.

High school teachers like Marsha Pannone are RARE. I see people who should’ve gone to Otis, SVA and other more prestigious institutions sucked into their local Art Institutes because their teachers didn’t know any better and frankly didn’t care. Our school districts don’t know what to do with people who can’t fathom algebra or don’t have other academic interests. So, after 9th grade, we are relegated to overpaid baby sitters, not proper teachers who can open the doors to our futures. Marsha and Jerry Pannone, Frank Lilith and Mr. Heafy, on the other hand, knew just what to do with us. They had the power at the height of their careers to challenge the system and guide art students to the best art schools in the country where the degrees were valuable to the artist community, not just glorified receipts.

The Art Club

Mrs. Pannone died of lung cancer three weeks after the second photo was taken in 2003. We had a “Hopefully Not Farewell” party for her before she left us. Despite being attached to an oxygen tank, she still twirled around like sylphide, had us create art and told us wonderful stories. Now, imagine being a COVID-19 or SARS carrier and infecting this wonderful person dooming her years before her cancer developed? Could you live with yourself? I couldn’t! So, please, wear a mask in crowded areas, respect social distancing, and help our leaders, sociologists, and scientists come up with workable solutions for returning to work rather than hyper-criticize and protest in large crowds. You don’t know who you’re going to infect. Speaking of existing people who invested greatly into their lives as an expendable percentage is horrible, too. Where’s your humanity? Frail does not equal useless. Have a care.


Yesterday I purged a frenemy, a double agent a “Taylor Mason” from my life. The person in question was my junior on one of the worst productions I ever endured and in his arrogance, made it a point to report the negative sentiments that every time prime time director without positive reinforcement. I let the negativity shape my career, for I thought I was cognitively inept to work in the Los Angeles animation industry. Eventually I left for the San Francisco .dot com industry in pursuit of an easier, yet less lucrative path to work on projects with female protagonists exclusively.

During absence from LA, my “Taylor Mason” ascended to the rank of director on a low quality, yet stable production which has allowed him to pay off his student loans and buy two homes. In contrast, I went to grad school after the animation industry sea change and racked up more student loan debt, but it was not for naught. The experiences generating that extra 80k taught me that how to make enemies and not only endure the pressure of having them, but how to use them!

Everyone needs temperance in their lives. That aspect represented by a person, the weather or some other Threshold Guardian who keeps your wits sharp and your heart humble. However, when the temperance is belligerent it must be managed and when becomes toxic and festers in your psyche, it must be culled before it destroys you. I may love being popular, but I love my well being more. I’m a cephalic being. I cherish my mind and all the worlds it creates the talent it bestows upon my hands to create them visually. This person hit me in that precious ante chamber. He dared to touch and mock the Ark and have ostracized him for it. If he retaliates, I’ll fry him…

Over the past 19 years I’ve interviewed fellow CalArts alum to learn of their accounts of adjusting to the animation industry. Some have come away unscathed, but a great deal more have endured the same trials and made the exact same mistakes I have. They overcame their faults and are directors and producers today. That could’ve been me had I remained in the Loop. I had the potential and the right people recognized it. I also speculate some may have feared that recognition and campaigned against me. There is a fear of the CalArts Loop, derogatorily called the “CalArts Mafia” and I have a wild speculation, that I am still reluctant to entertain, that a Black CalArtian rising to power over the state and  trade school trained artists in the LA industry was just too much to bear, so a shadow and trickster arose to attack my sense of self worth.  It was a tickling in the back of my mind, but I knew the CalArts curriculum had something to do with my difficulty adapting to the television industry. Where you aren’t allowed to produce your best work, but rather how to draw in order to admin your work properly for efficient execution. As Esther Williams said about working in television: 

“We don’t want it good. We want it Wednesday!” I and other CalArtians like me struggled whittling an MGM skill set into a Desilu budget. That’s a lot nicer way of putting things than: “Stop doing that feature shit!” Or “You’re crazy” or the many other insults I will have to look up in AIM archives to share—and they will be shared…

It’s easier said than done, but never let past traumas taint the present or future experiences. Mondo Media thought I was fun (directors are always more forgiving when you are the perfect actor for their characters), the Academy of Art thought I was a great results achieving instructor and ultimately, Sesame Workshop thought I was wonderful. I still made mistakes, but the VFX supervisor of the latter said to me, “You’re not perfect, but I still like you!” John K., despite my abrupt departure from Spumco, said years later, “I will sing your praises (on my blog). Positive reinforcement after a critique is crucial and this trickster shadow has never intentionally offered that courtesy in his assessment of me—and when he did so, it was by accident. Some people can shrug their shoulders and move on from abuse, but I tend to mourn and search for closure. Sometimes closure can be violent. Don’t mess with my dog or I’ll break your privileged, sheltered, self righteous ass in half and don’t make me doubt myself. I’m an even tempered person, but tamper my self-worth and will snap and eat you. Violence is often the best sort of closure there is. I think the trickster-turned-shadow won’t cross my path again, but if another comes I won’t hesitate to defend myself. My Ark is too precious to be insulted.redLioness

Approaching Closure

The end is near. My former employer who dissolved his company owing the entire crew two months pay has been brought to justice by the Security and Exchanges Commission. There is no telling whether all who he has wrong will be compensated, but at least it’s comforting to know that haphazard business practices is monitored by a formidable authority.

The Securities and Exchanges Commission is a federal agency that assured investors are paid. Fear of their wrath is the reason why Hollywood isn’t taking any chances with new properties right now, only funding remakes. Investors must be repaid. Investors aren’t donors. You just an’t take their money and not pay dividends. Apparently some of them complained and my former employer must pay the Piper. 

That said, that this blog entry is not intended as a gloat. Gloating would be bad karma, but rather a cautionary tale against flawed business practices. That, and the Leo in me refuses to be wholly disloyal to an animation employer who kept me on longer than any studio. 

Articles have a nasty habit of disappearing after a few years, so I’ve pasted the following three articles here. The first is how my employer gambled away a considerable portion of investor funding, including employee wages:

Las Vegas-based Online Sweepstake Operator Charged With $9 Million Fraud


The owner of a Las Vegas-based online gaming company has been arrested and charged with fraud after it is alleged he used investors money as his “own personal piggy bank.”

Screen Shot 2019-02-11 at 11.03.49 PM

Robert Alexander hanging out with the model Maria Kang at a star-studded promotional event hosted by Kizzang and Sports Illustrated. The magazine later sued him for £1 million. (Image: Getty)

Robert Alexander is accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of fraudulently raising $9 million from more than 50 individuals for his company Kizzang, which until its December 2017 insolvency offered sweepstakes-based online gaming through slots tournaments, fantasy sports, and scratch cards.

But according to a filing in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, Alexander stole “at least” $1.3 million from investors, more than $450,000 of which he used to fuel his gambling habit. The rest was funneled into a business that had no actual viable revenue stream.

“As alleged in our complaint, Alexander promoted Kizzang as an opportunity for investors to profit from the early success of a technology start-up,” said Carolyn Welshhans, Associate Director in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “In reality, Alexander brazenly converted investor proceeds for his personal use, sometimes within days of receiving investor funds.”

Screen Shot 2019-02-11 at 11.02.41 PM

Former Take-Two Interactive Exec

Alexander is a former video games industry executive who once sat on the board of Take-Two Interactive, the parent company of Rockstar Games, which created the Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead series.

Despite his credible back story, the SEC accuses Alexander of making wild claims to investors, such as that they would make a tenfold return on their investments. He also led some to believe he had personally invested millions into the business and that he had been involved in the creation of an unnamed hit video game, which he had not.

In order to cultivate an image of personal wealth he told one that he had made a charitable donation of $50 million to a prominent Los Angeles hospital. In reality, he was almost broke and blowing through investor funds.

“On May 28, 2015, Alexander emailed a Kizzang investor to request additional funds, writing ‘Monday is payroll and I need 55k.’” reads the complaint.

The following day, the investor wired $10,000 to the Kizzang bank account. Alexander failed, however, to disclose to the investor that in the days and weeks prior to his May 28 email, between May 1 and May 26, 2015, he had spent more than $20,000 of investor funds on a gambling spree at four different casinos in Las Vegas and Indiana.”

Screen Shot 2019-02-11 at 11.04.10 PM

Lawsuits Pile Up

In 2017, Kizzang was sued by the NCCA for copyright infringement over its “Final 3” and “April Madness” promotions, which riffed on the league’s Final Four and March Madness trademarks. Since Alexander failed to turn up in court, the NCAA was awarded a default judgment.

Around the same time, he was also sued by Sports Illustrated, which had agreed a $1 million marketing partnership with Kizzang but had received no payments from Alexander. Again, he was a no-show in court and Sports Illustrated was awarded a default judgment of $1,025,384.62.

Kizzang’s business model was to monetize consumer traffic through advertising and sponsorship, but, in reality, from its incorporation in 2014 to its 2017 insolvency, its “never had any meaningful source of revenue,” the SEC alleges.

Screen Shot 2019-02-11 at 11.02.25 PM

The second article is the reason why it is so scary to be a producer and yet why I want to be one. The pressure of making a profit with investor funding is considerable, yet as a producer, one is privy to where the money comes from and the politics behind. I am learning more and more as I grow older that the ruling class are not gods and must take risks with their financial stability just like poor folks—they stakes are just higher. No one goes hungry in the end, but they do land in jail and ruin countless lives and livelihood for their mistakes. As it turns out, two of Kizzang’s investors ran a Ponzi scheme on Broadway tickets and they were hoping investing in Kizzang would fund the dividends, but the company never pulled a profit. Kizzang failed. We all failed. Art-wise, I don’t understand why. Our games looked like everyone else’s. I blame the framework we used. Flash is so 2001. The language is clunky and buggy. Also there were other cheats that restricted the animation department from using 3D and After Effects in the final product. When a framework and JSON generator is free, that should be a red flag not to use it for professional purposes. Never lag behind in technology, for the audience always bee-lines for the latest and greatest trend. I was ready, the whole crew was ready. I can rock Maya and After Effects just as efficiently as Flash. Why didn’t the budget allow for 3D games?

Screen Shot 2019-02-11 at 11.03.15 PM

U.S. brings charges over Ponzi scheme, ‘Hamilton’ tickets fraud

Jonathan StempelNate Raymond


NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. authorities on Friday unveiled criminal charges against two men accused of helping operate a hedge fund as a Ponzi scheme and of swindling investors in a ticket-reselling business for popular events, including the smash Broadway musical “Hamilton.”

Joseph Meli and his wife, Jessica Meli, exit U.S. Federal Court in Manhattan, New York, U.S., January 27, 2017, after Meli and Steven Simmons were charged with running a criminal Ponzi scheme that swindled investors in a purported ticket-reselling business for popular events, such as Adele concerts and the smash Broadway musical “Hamilton”. REUTERS/Nate Raymond

Joseph Meli, who ran the ticket business, and Steven Simmons, the head of an alternative investments at Sideris Capital Partners, were arrested on Friday on securities fraud and wire fraud charges brought by Manhattan federal prosecutors.

Meli, 42, and Matthew Harriton, 52, were separately accused by U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of orchestrating an $81 million Ponzi scheme by raising money from investors to buy and resell tickets for popular shows.

Those included “Hamilton,” which won 11 Tony Awards last year, and concerts featuring Adele, the SEC said.

In court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Naftalis said prosecutors rushed to bring charges after the fund’s co-founder turned cooperating witness and recorded Meli saying he was draining his bank accounts and had gotten his passport.

Naftalis also said that after Simmons, 48, was arrested at his Connecticut home, he told Federal Bureau of Investigation agents that he “hoped that Mr. Meli would put two slugs in the back of the cooperator’s head.”

But defense lawyers swayed U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis to release each man on $1 million bonds after providing explanations.

Michael Bowen, Meli’s lawyer, said anticipating the probe, Meli recently put down a large retainer with his law firm and gave his lawyers his passport. Florian Miedel, Simmons’ attorney, said Simmons was simply stressed upon arrest.

Bowen in a statement said Meli would “vigorously defend against the criminal charges.” Miedel declined to comment. Harriton did not respond to requests for comment.

According to a criminal complaint, the unnamed Connecticut hedge fund had raised funds from, among others, an investment fund that sank $4.2 million into it, only to misappropriate most of the money.

After that investor demanded repayment, the cooperating witness turned to Simmons, who raised $850,000 from an investor, and Meli, who provided $3.75 million from an account for Advance Entertainment LLC, court papers said.

The SEC said Meli and Harriton through Advance Entertainment and other ticket resale business entities were meanwhile involved in a separate Ponzi scheme.

Of the $81 million they raised from 125 investors, $48 million was used to repay earlier investors, while funds were spent on jewelry, private school tuition, gambling, and other expenses, the SEC said.

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles

The final article is the account from the Security and Exchanges Commission. Apparently, they are more powerful than the IRS, for I tried to go after my employer like the tax accountant after Al Capone after the withholdings from my wages were not properly reported to Uncle Sam for the tax year of 2017. But my efforts were to no avail. Neither were my efforts to retrieve my wages via the Nevada Labor Department. The crew’s lost wages were a hot potato to all local lawyers who simply told us to file our complaints with the labor department. According to other accounts of other Nevada based industries, dissolving a company with money owed to workers is common practice in Southern Nevada. Therefore, companies set up here not just for the low taxes, but for the inadequate legislation for workers rights which are lightly enforced. I’ll never work for a company that isn’t based in California or New York again! Taxes may be high, but they pay for protections!

Screen Shot 2019-02-11 at 11.12.35 PM

SEC Charges Founder of Online Gaming Company Defrauding Investors

Litigation Release No. 24392 / February 7, 2019

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Robert Alexander and Kizzang LLC, No. 19-cv-01161 (S.D.N.Y. filed Feb. 7, 2019)

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Robert Alexander with fraudulently raising approximately $9 million from more than 50 individuals by selling investments in Kizzang LLC, a purported online gaming business.

According to the SEC’s complaint, among other misrepresentations, Alexander told investors that they would make a minimum of ten times their investment, Alexander had personally invested millions of dollars in Kizzang, Alexander had made a $50 million charitable donation, and that he had led the creation of a prominent video game. Rather than using investor funds for Kizzang’s business, Alexander stole at least $1.3 million, including spending more than $450,000 on gambling sprees. Alexander also used investor funds to finance his daily living and other personal expenses, including credit card bills, shopping and entertainment, and expenses for his daughter, including culinary school tuition and luxury car payments.

The SEC’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, charges Alexander and Kizzang with violating Section 17(a) of the Securities Act and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 and seeks permanent injunctions, civil monetary penalties, and disgorgement of ill-gotten monetary gains plus interest.

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York today announced criminal charges against Alexander.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Cecilia B. Connor and Andrew Elliott, and supervised by Ms. Welshhans and Amy L. Friedman, with assistance from Janet Yang. The SEC’s litigation will be handled by Martin Healey. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.


There are lot of lessons learned here. Despite everything, I am grateful that I had a safe place for me and my cat to stay. My mother lived nearby. I may not have save face, but I saved what is important; those who depend upon me and my ability to regroup and stand on my feet. I think all working people, especially artists and other types of business owners. There is a darkest hour before a new stimulus that comes in the form of ruin as a result of a business deal gone sour, an employer who ran off with your intellectual property or some other fiscal tragedy. The Tower. Thankfully, there is recover after the great loss; there is time to rebuild a fortune before one retires and new life experience to use as a tactical asset for executive position that is now possible to take on, because there is one less big thing to scare you now. You’ve survived a second right of passage. Rejoice!

Madeliene the MINI

Madeleine. My beloved repossessed MINI. A casualty of the six month non-compete clause.

Metaphysics aside. The shame that I walked about with for a year is giving way to hope. With these articles, I have proof that my current situation is not failure, but circumstance. I’ve suffered layoffs before. I’ve endured the embarrassment of being fired by an email. This fuck-over was the third and final humiliation I insist on enduring in my artistic life. I am not washed up. I’ve been offered art director positions (although on spec), hired for illustration, completed commissions for long lost professional friends and sought out again by my beloved Sesame Workshop. I may have lost my car, but I still have my dignity. Now the next step is returning to Los Angeles. I belong there. All animators do. My closing advice is to never work in a region where there isn’t a union or guild. Southern Nevada has a six month non-compete clause in all of its entertainment and entertainment services contracts. Even when you don’t sign one, all of the casino game studios honor it. Much like non-union studios honor the standard wage set by the Animation Guild in LA. I was poised to land on my feet after the Kizzang dissolution. Konami was interested in me, but could hire me due the six-month non-compete that wasn’t even in my Kizzang contract. By the time I created samples to convince them otherwise, the job was gone. Stay in LA. Stay close to those studios. For the disparate industry that exists between the coastlines are run by people who haven’t even graduated high school and have no idea what they are doing.

Thank you, Secret Tarot 

Lupin III (Red Jacket): the Two Great Directors

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 12.33.15 AM

Of the green and red jacket Lupin III series there are two directors who are amazing at layout and therefore produced the most technically perfect episodes: Hayao Miyazaki and another fellow. You can tell which episodes Miyazaki directed because he re-designed the characters to suit his personal aesthetic, mostly Fujiko, but there are a few episodes that he directs where she wasn’t changed, but his personal stamp was still and clear on everything else: the acting and tight models on Inspector Zenigata (who seems to be Miyazaki’s favorite character) and the strict adherence to perspective, yet not necessarily to scale for sometimes the characters appeared too large in vehicles. Hey, Miyazaki san kept the volumes from changing at least. Something had to give on those impossible television schedules!

Screen Shot 2018-03-03 at 5.09.42 PM

The other talented layout artist is someone I don’t know by name, but if anyone can read kanji, by all means give him credit in romaji! For he knew who to adhere to the original production design AND maintain quality control. That’s great layout! And by layout, I mean both the BG and characters tied down and pulled on model and properly drawn in perspective from scene to scene all the while assuring proper continuity throughout the film. Think of it as stitching shots, sequences and scenes together. That’s tougher than you think.

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 12.08.54 AM

In the theatrical shorts method the director would do character layout, while partnering with BG layout artist who do the background layout. Such great teams of note are Chuck Jones and Maurice Noble and Friz Freeling and Hawley Pratt. I don’t know if Miyazaki and the second-great-director worked under the same arrangement, but however production is set up, they seem to pull off great episodes.

When I worked in character layout on Futurama, the director didn’t so much as draw, but guide a team of BG and character layout artists to assure that the quality was consistent and we all had the challenge of drawing in the style that the production design (art style) dictates. 15 scenes must be completed in 8 days and each episode was budgeted to take 6 weeks to lay out. This was either doable or brutal depending on how complicated the scenes were. You can’t really have the Warner Bros. theatrical shorts arrangement on a half-hour show for it took 6 weeks just to knock out a six minute short. Studios don’t have that kind of money anymore, so the directing a crew of layout artists replaced the director laying out the project himself.

On an action-adventure show like Lupin the process of even more expensive, for there are crowd scenes, industrial BG’s of cities and characters with far more line mileage than a two-character comedy series like the Pink Panther. How Miyazaki san was able to pull off Wings of Death and Thieves Love the Peace, I don’t know, but he did it—possibly using Chuck Jones’ trick of making a cheaper, simpler episodes under budget and using the surplus of time and money from those episodes to execute the crowd scene episodes successfully. I think the cheaper “sacrificial lamb episodes were, To Arrest Lupin: the Mission at Highway and  Money from Heaven. Jigen and the Hatless Pistol looks like Miyazaki san, as well. You can tell because he always puts more meat on the character’s bones than the model sheets dictate. They don’t have that scarab beetle look.

The best episodes to watch for great directing in the red jacket series are the following:

92, 99, 126, 133, 138, 141, 143, 145, 151, 155.

See if you can determine Miyazaki from the other great director. It’s pretty obvi, but some people may get have trouble–or are simply biased in favor of the better known Miyazaki. Remember: the BG’s carry the film aesthetically and the layout process assures proper technical execution. The stronger the layout the stronger the staging and  animation in regards to physics: volume and timing.  If you’re sloppy at this stage, you’ll get a mess further down the pipeline that will ruin your film.

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 12.41.17 AMScreen Shot 2018-03-01 at 2.44.31 PMScreen Shot 2018-03-01 at 3.00.42 PMScreen Shot 2018-03-01 at 2.41.32 PM


Good: draw from life for more complicated staging or “push” the gestures and stance or characters. An artist can not devise every scene entirely from his mind. Get some reference, be it from life (the best, but not always doable) or from live-action. I’m sure there is an obscure B-movie that provided the reference for this scene.

Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 2.47.24 PM

Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 2.47.27 PM

Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 2.46.25 PM

Bad: Don’t try to execute stories with locales you can’t find near the studio to help you with ground planes–unless travel is included in the budget. I’m sure the writer of this episode that takes place at the Great Wall is really disappointed that the story and layout crew could not take a trip to China to layout this episode out properly. This resulted in sloppy layout which led to bad execution in the end. Such a waste!

Screen Shot 2018-03-03 at 5.58.16 PMScreen Shot 2018-03-03 at 5.58.03 PM


I hope that director grew as an artist on subsequent gigs…



Back to proper layouts!

Miyazaki: Notice the pre-Porco Rosso aesthetic?
Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 12.28.33 AM

Screen Shot 2018-03-03 at 5.23.03 PM

Clue: Miyazaki’s Zengata, even when not Lupin in disguise, is always “apple cheeked” as indicated by the hatching that defines them. For acting, Miyazaki san’s Zenigata also has that “cute blink”.

Screen Shot 2018-03-03 at 5.19.10 PM

Screen Shot 2018-03-03 at 5.19.12 PM


Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 3.02.29 PM

Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 2.56.08 PM


Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 2.55.29 PM


Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 2.57.52 PM


Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 2.58.05 PM

The other awesome dude: He has a great love of perspective. This sequence was well researched and executed.

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 12.06.20 AM

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 12.05.24 AM

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 12.11.13 AM

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 12.11.19 AM

Uneven execution (from Pink Jacket Lupin): the first act of this episode was stellar, but fell apart from the second act onwards. It harkens back to green coat Lupin when the production was trying to figure out how to allocate resources on such a complex series using a television budget. It’s tough to know where to cute corners for efficiency yet pull off a great episode. It takes a while. Looks like the director of this episode spent most of the budget on the first act. Either that or his crew burnt out…

Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 9.24.01 PM

Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 9.25.18 PM

Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 9.18.28 PM

Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 9.18.18 PM


Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 9.27.04 PM


Lupin III is a great series to study for solutions to drawing men using affable male characters. I’m grateful that Crunchyroll has the entire series available on streaming to supplement my dvd library. Not all of Lupin III, including the popular red jacket Lupin is available on DVD in the U.S. That’s a shame for many who are new to red jacket Lupin, who snear at the “green crew” production quality of the first 79 episodes that aired on the Adult Swim, will never know that the crew, hence seasoned, became so much better at executing the episodes from episodes 80-155.
Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 3.23.35 PM

Lupin III: Stylish Men Stance

Ah, that sexy Daisuke Jigen! Mysteriously silent and reliable as a hound. Since it’s impossible these days of smartphones to go out and life draw the positions one needs for their storyboards/layout/keys, one must steal reference from a simpler time. May these screencaps be useful for artists working under deadlines in dark studios…

Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 9.20.40 PM

Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 11.22.33 PM

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 12.28.24 AM

Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 11.33.58 PM

Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 10.12.18 PM


Such a cool cat.Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 10.27.05 PM

Meow.Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 12.55.52 AM

In fact Jigen is so valuable as a right hand that he’s worth commandeering…
Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 2.28.48 PM


…although not without protest.Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 2.30.15 PM


Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 2.36.03 PM


He’s so centered that even when confronting an impersonator (the ultimate insult)..Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 3.14.53 PM


..he’ll strike up a small talk…Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 3.16.12 PM


Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 3.15.03 PM


…before clobbering the git!
Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 3.17.02 PM

Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 3.18.01 PM


Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 3.17.28 PM


So there you have cool cat stance reference, Jigen style. A character so inspiring, his character was appropriated and expanded to become Cowboy Bebop’s Spike Spiegel.



Lupin III: (Stylish) Men Sitting Down Reference

You’re welcome.


Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 3.04.03 PM


Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 10.45.42 PM


Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 3.05.21 PM

Since their hips don’t flair, it’s challenging to find their ballast. Use the legs like the Lupin III did 🙂

Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 10.20.42 PM

Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 10.22.03 PM

Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 10.37.14 PM


Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 11.40.09 PM

Before Your Spend 100k on Art School…

I would like say something about art colleges: I would strongly advise not going anywhere that does not offer a full scholarship. I became an animator, as you know, but I’ve run into a problem in my career: although I draw well enough for it, I don’t have the background to relate to the most marketable content.
Before embarking on a commercial art degree, the prospective student needs to ask themself: “What kind artist am I?” A fine artist does his or her own thing without much consideration for the audience. A commercial artist MUST conform to the taste of their audience which is very difficult if they aren’t from the same background as the largest target market: the Irish/German nuclear family in the Midwest that wants no higher than an eight grade education level in entertainment. As an artist community Californian, I found this audience impossible to connect with. I find nothing funny about the deplorable character of Peter Griffin and being comfortable with the lack female characters in my medium. I ran away from Hollywood after five years before I lost my mind.
I had much better gigs outside of LA, but through them, I’ve come to learn that what I like to work on does not sell, therefore the interest on my student loans are through the roof!
SO, with that said, if a student wants to be a commercial artist, they need make SURE they can psychologically handle despicable characters living in their head and never leaving (I still can’t get Fry and Bender out of psyche after 18 years since I worked Futurama!)If not, try the experimental animation department at CalArts rather than the trade school oriented Character animation. The experimental students get full (or nearly full) scholarships which makes it easier to step away from the industry when it goes “remake and Maslow’s lowest appeals” mode in order to fill its coffers enough to make art again.

Beware of Start-ups

A recent conversation with a fiend of mine has brought me to the conclusion that I can not continue producing personal art for therapy alone. Professsional art has become more and more precarious as studios grant shorter contracts and startups become less reliable in their business practices. The violation of such laws namely; laying off without granting unemployment benefits is becoming more and more common. Therefore, I must monetize my personal films, webcomic and production blogs.

Intellectual property is an artist’s means of power on par with the more valued professions of doctor, lawyer and banker. It is an aritst’s work that gives a corporation a visual identity a written voice and tone to remember. New customers would never know a company existed without a recognizable logo, piece of copy of a catchy jingle. A content company like Warner Bros. and Disney would not have the staying power they have without the contributions of their artist’s.

Math would live soley in a quantum universe if an engineer with the skills of a sculptor had not managed to kit bash found objects into a prototype to test, perfect and share with the world. Practical use of the wheel didn’t manifest on it’s own. It took a visionary. An artist. A car is a mechanical sculpture. It’s a marriage of art and science.

I argue that all attributes of intellectual property, on a development, creative level should be granted royalties. Pre-production artists, animators and post-production artists on a creative/problem solving  level should be granted royalties from the future profits of the company product. We are not doing cog work. Cog work is outsourced. The creative needs residuals to compensate for our short careers. She should still receive an income for the work she sees still making money for the studio she defined a popular character for long after her position has been replaced by a younger, cheaper creative. Don’t scoff, obsolescence comes about sooner than you think, if not age then change in audience which can happen within the first five years of your career. Wise up, even of you don’t breed, you still have student loans to pay. Existence comes at a price.

Until such pipe dreams of royalties become a reality, an artist must generate supplemental income with their personal work. It’s the only way to save six months salary in case of sudden job loss. Case in point: my last employer had not paid the crew for two months before dissolving the company. Nor has he paid labor department taxes for the last year of the company’s life. None of the crew will get unemployment insurance ( without a fight anyway). Without that safety net, we’ll all end up homeless.

How nice it would be if my web comic and production blog padded my savings account all this time so I would’ve have to lose my home and car.  Or rely on the exhausted kindness of my friends and colleagues to pull me out of this mess.

With that said, this will be the last “production entry” on this blog. If you would still like to read production notes and industry advice, please follow my account on Patreon where such entrees are available for a fee. Until then, take my last bit of free advice: beware of start ups and never sign a work for fire contract as a creative contributor. If they’re going to pay you like a cog, do exclusively cog work. I know you’re excited to have your first gig or are still trying to make a name for yourself early in your career. However, that foolish enthusiasm is what studios and start ups are preying on; your naitvité to  create an arch villain or a girl sports bunny to profit from long after your impoverished death with only your initial salary as compensation.


Torn Retinas are not Smurfy….

This is very important. Please read.

Occular Safety and Cautionary Tale for Animation Artists.

From wise Sue Bielenberg:

Based on my experience as a graphic designer at a medical forms plant in 1988, I can honestly say that NOBODY tests the safety of technology before subjecting artists to it. I got blepheritis from the Xenotron 2000’s CRT screen long before computers were standards in art departments. My ophthalmologist simply snarled, “If you file a workers comp claim, don’t involve me.” He had had a LOT of computer artists coming in asking for help. The new white screens were supposed to solve everything. I say that even if you stare at a daisy all day, you will suffer an ill effect. But start at a glowing daisy, and you will reallly suffer.

Beware of the glowing daisy….

Food Coma