Union-Tribune has fun with its nameplate during Comic-Con

Looks like the San Diego Union-Tribune is having some fun again with its nameplate in conjunction with this week’s Comic-Con.

Thursday’s nameplate featured an epic battle between Superman and Batman…


…while today’s nameplate was the victim of a fly-by attack by a fire-breathing dragon.


Last year, the now-extinct U-T nameplate took a lot of abuse from editorial cartoonist Steve Breen:


Comic-Con continues through the weekend. We’ll keep an eye out to see what the Union-Tribune does Saturday and Sunday. Thanks to my pal there, Scott Albert, for the heads-up.

Other Union-Tribune Comic-Con posts from my blog archives:

  • 2011: The paper went all out with fun comics-themed illustrations and special sections.
  • 2012: Steve Breen created a sketchbook every day of Comic-Con.
  • 2013: The paper explained the business of small press comics by having small press comics creator (and former Union-Tribune staffer) Paul Horn tell all via — what else? — an extended comic strip.
  • 2014: Read about those U-T nameplates.

Follow the Union-Tribune’s coverage of Comic-Con 2015 here.

Hutchinson (Kansas) News transforms itself into the Smallville News

Look! Up in the sky!

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a… newspaper?


That was the actual Thursday front page of the Hutchinson (Kansas) News.

My pal Ron Sylvester — managing editor of the Hutch News — tells us the page was designed by assistant managing editor for design Wendy Skellenger and graphic artist Jim Heck.

He writes:

Three years ago some comic fans presented a pretty detailed argument that Hutchinson was geographically close to where Smallville, Kansas, would’ve been located. They convinced the mayor and the city council to change the name of the town to Smallville for a day.

Since then, there has been a festival created, a comic con, and it’s expanded to four days. It’s become quite a community event.

The first year, the Hutchinson News changed its name to the Daily Planet:


It was received so well in the community and so popular we decided to do it again this year. Except the Daily Planet was really located in Metropolis. So we decided calling at the Smallville News would be more faithful. Plus, we could use that iconic typography from the Superman comics that we all read  growing up.

We had imagined Superman flying out of the Cosmosphere.  The problem was finding a Superman image we could use. We spent days scouring and finally found an image that had a Creative Commons license that we felt comfortable we could utilize under Fair Use.

Wendy and Jim did an amazing job of paying attention to detail. My favorite is the placement of the barcode and the edition number to parody a comic book.


This is what a newspaper looks like when people have fun coming to work every day!

This page was the front of what was essentially a four-page pull-off section that wrapped around the rest of Thursday’s paper. These pages were designed by staffer George Woods.

Ron tells us:

It was designed so people could pull off the cover, get the four-day schedule and have a little program on those four pages.

Page two contained a schedule and quotes from local folks.


Page three contains a timeline of how the Smallville event came to be over the years.


On the back were a couple of pictures from last year’s festival and a story about a local bookstore that sponsored a Where’s Waldo?-like game tie-in with the event.


Ron notes that Thursday…

…was also one day we could use comic sans and we didn’t let it go to waste.

On our opinion page, we ran an editorial on why we change our flag and support the festival.


Inside, Thursday’s Page 3 was essentially the usual Page 1.


Ron writes:

Our entertainment section, the b, featured the Comic Con on the cover, following the comic book theme.


Sandra Milburn, our AME of photo, took care of the header, as she does every day.

Naturally, there was also a strong digital component to the project.


Ron tells us:

Ryan Buchanan, our digital editor, pulled the main package together.

Find it here.

Ron closes by noting:

We have a really good team here. I’m glad they’re going to be recognized for their hard work.

Average daily circulation of the Hutchinson News is 25,722.

Reading Eagle’s Craig Schaffer featured in ‘Cartoon Picayune’ comic

Heads up, comics fans. Here’s something you might want to add to your collection.


That’s issue 7 of the Cartoon Picayune, which is being released today.

Craig Schaffer of the Reading (Pa.) Eagle tells us that the comic book…

…will be available to order at cartoonpicayune.com, on the comixology app and at a few select comic book stores. It’s a non-fiction comic by news illustrators. Issues cost $4.

Craig took the time to answer a few questions for us:

Q. What more can you tell me about the work you did for this issue? Did you write and draw it, or just draw it?

A. I tried to answer the question “Why is there a pagoda on the mountain overlooking Reading?” I’m not originally from here and didn’t know the answer to that question. It’s a unique symbol of our community.


Q. How many pages is this story you illustrated?

A. It’s only 2 pages and got picked up for the issue after I had completed it and Josh Kramer [the comic’s editor] learned of my work. Normally, they use 10-page stories.

Q. How long have you been working on this?

A. I wrote and illustrated mine in about two weeks.

I tweeted it to some other comic creators who inspired me from a book called Syncopated and they directed me to Josh. Issue #7 has a “chance” theme. I’ve never seen a copy in person. This is my first.


Q. What do you use? Markers? Pens? Bush-n-ink? Wacom tablet?

A. I use pen and ink, sometimes a brush, then a wacom tablet and Photoshop to color. I letter the page in illustrator.

A 1998 graduate of the Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Mass., Craig spent several years as an archaeological illustrator before joining the Intelligencer of Doylestown, Pa.


He moved to the Reading Eagle in 2005. He creates a weekly graphic for the Eagle‘s business section. Find a gallery of his Snapshot work here.


Yeah, that one is about famed book designer Chipp Kidd. Read more about that piece here.

For a while, Craig also produced a “hand-drawn nature column” called Sketchbook that appeared every Wednesday in the Eagle‘s Berks Country section. Find his Sketchbook gallery here.

Find Craig’s online portfolio here and his blog here. Find his Twitter feed here.

Order a copy of Cartoon Picayune No. 7 here.

More fun with nameplates: U-T San Diego

The annual Comic-Con comics, scifi and entertainment convention is being held in San Diego this week.

UT-San Diego has been celebrating with these fun comics-themed nameplate treatments illustrated by the paper’s award-winning editorial cartoonist Steve Breen.

Wednesday’s nameplate featured a hyphen that’s turned into zombie food.


In Thursday’s nameplate, the Man of Steel is stealing the “T.”


And there is a little lightsaber accident in today’s nameplate.


UPDATE – Saturday, July 26


A 1994 graduate of UC Riverside, Steve spent nearly five years as cartoonist for the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey before moving back to the west coast in 2001.


Steve has won two Pulitzer prizes: In 1998 and 2009. Find galleries of his work here and here. Find his Twitter feed here.

More U-T San Diego Comic-Con coverage…

  • 2011: the paper went all out with fun comics-themed illustrations and special sections.
  • 2012: Steve created a sketchbook every day of Comic-Con.
  • 2013: The paper explained the business of small press comics by having small press comics creator (and former Union-Tribune staffer) Paul Horn tell all via — what else? — an extended comic strip.

Follow U-T San Diego‘s coverage of Comic-Con 2014 here.

Holy tinkered-with nameplate, Batman!

Get a load of the top of today’s Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss.


That’s by Merry Eccles of Gannett’s design studio in Nashville. Her guy, Bill Campling — also of the Nashville studio — tells us:

Merry always includes subtle details in her designs, like her Fourth of July promo you highlighted earlier this month.


This page is no different, with the slight alteration to the mast.

And it’s freakin’ Batman. So that makes it extra cool.

I also wrote about Merry’s work after Vanderbilt won the NCAA national baseball championship back in June.

Find more of Merry’s work here.

Jedi Master Martin Gee uses the Force with these ‘Star Wars’ illustrations

In his day job, Martin Gee is is a senior designer for Huffington, the Huffington Post‘s iPad project.

When freelance deadlines beckon, however, Martin leaps into a phone booth, swaps his underwear to the outside of his pants and becomes (Tadaaaaa!): SuperDeadlineIllustratorMan!


With a little help from the Force this time, of course: Martin contributed illustrations for an article on the new Star Wars movies for Entertainment Weekly magazine.


Most of those ran on the opening pages of a six-page spread.


Click on these for a much larger look.



Martin took the time to answer a few question for us…

Q. I’ve always wondered what kind of deadline freelance magazine illustrators work with. How much time passed between when they contacted you and you had to turn in final art?

A. I had about four days and luckily it was over a weekend. With most assignments, I drop everything and use every minute. Just ask [his wife]Carrie!

For Entertainment Weekly, it was a fast turnaround but I’ve had as little as two days with other magazines. This is why I love and prefer editorial work!

The issue with Martin’s work is the May 16th cover-dated edition — the one with Jim Parsons, Julia Roberts and Mark Ruffalo on the cover.


Be sure to rush out and buy one before they’re replaced by the next issue.

Q. Did you work up some sketches for them? (And, better yet: Can we see them?)

A. Definitely. I’m kinda embarrassed to show you!



Unlike illustrators like Von Glitschka and Jennifer Borresen, my sketches look nothing like my final art. It’s only happened once, with PopMech.

Here was the sketch:

Martin says:

After this sketch, I carried my green circle template with my sketchbook for awhile.

Here’s the piece that ran in PopMech‘s December/January 2014 issue:


Martin continues with his Star Wars sketches:

One of the EW art directors said he didn’t want a LEGO Yoda. They wanted more realistic and less cute (which my stuff tends to be) but still be graphic and edgy.



Q. Whose idea was it to have Darth Vader accidentally slicing though the headline?

A. It was Jennie Chang‘s, EW‘s Managing Art Director who hired me, after she saw the Vader sketch. She designed the headline and techy borders and I just drew the characters!

Random: When I was at Redeye, I drew a similar but more minimal Vader for Episode III but the editors said it looked too much like an iPod and killed it.


Q. For a moment there, I thought that was your old ninja cartoon head at the extreme bottom left of page 24.


A. It actually reminds me of Deadpool!


Q. So you did Superman…


…and Spider-Man…


…for the National and now Star Wars for Entertainment Weekly. What’s next? The president for Time magazine? The Rolling Stones for Rolling Stone?

A. Probably not but hopefully more geeky illustrations! I’ve somehow managed to carve a nice niche for myself.

Funny you mentioned the National‘s Superman: EW specifically referred to that and my Boston Globe robots…


…for reference.

When Variety called with a Amazing Spider-Man 2 assignment with Captain America, Godzilla and the X-Men…


… (and, accidentally, the TMNT)…


[They told him “mutant ninjas” and Martin thought that meant the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Instead, they meant the X-Men. But, as you saw, Martin adjusted.]

…Art Director Cheyne Gately told me “You’re genetically designed to pull it off.”

Martin says he’s:

Living the dream!

First, a little more info about two pieces you saw earlier…

And, even earlier, he had been known to pull off super-hero movie covers for g, the Boston Globe‘s weekly entertainment tab.


Here’s one he did a year ago for his “day job” at Huffington.


This one — starring a grown-up, Jean Grey-like Violet from the Incrediblesran in the Pixar Times a couple of years ago when the movie Brave came out:


Martin tells us:

The art director, Jerrod Murayama, is a fellow SJSU alumni who has done work for Disney — most notably his Hipster Mickey illustrations and merchandise.

And then there’s this one you might not have seen — it’s not comics or movie-related, but it sure looks like it could be:


Martin says:

This was a really fun pro bono illustration for Elysia Smith, who goes by Dandy Rough on her roller derby team and is the lead designer at Newsday.

Martin studied illustration at San Jose State University and interned at the San Jose Mercury News and the Miami Herald before joining the Orange County Register in 1998.

In 2000, Martin left newspapers to work as a designer for the House of Blues. He leaped back into news design with Chicago’s RedEye in 2005 and then slipped over to the mothership Chicago Tribune before moving back to the Mercury News in 2006.

In 2008, he became art director of the monthly Oregon Business magazine. In 2010, he moved to the Boston Globe as features design supervisor. He joined Huffington in 2012. His wife, Carrie Hoover Gee, is design director at Adweek magazine.


Find Martin’s web site here and his Facebook fan page here. Find his Twitter feed here.

This just in: Zombies and monsters walk the streets of San Antonio

Here’s a fun, spooky Halloween-themed idea for a local talker.

Why not turn celebrities in your town, big and small, into zombies or classic horror monsters?

That’s what my old friend Mike Fisher of the San Antonio Express News did this week.


He picked on Hollywood actors from the area, like Tommy Lee Jones


…sports greats Tim Duncan


…and Johnny “Football” Manziel


…and politicians like Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro.


Hmm. A Democratic Congressman? From a red state like Texas? That’s scary enough, even without the embellishment.

Mike tells us:

Don’t get me wrong, I just love making 1-col. bar charts. Heh. But if I can find time to create a project on my own here, they are pretty good about getting in the paper or online.

I wanted specifically to do something for Halloween that would reside online. So I came up with the concept and the celebrity names with some help from my buddy, Mike Knoop. Then I drew the characters in pen-and-ink and colored them in Photoshop. I started in July and just worked in it when I had some time.

Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I drew a credit page with myself and Knoop as zombie freaks.


I thought the readers might think it was funny and, who knows, maybe they’ll look forward to another silly project like this from us.

Oh, absolutely. Readers love stuff like that.

That last frame also serves as a great DIY tip. I’m always losing my scissors. Do that with them, though and you’ll never lose your scissors again.

Find the entire slideshow here.

Average daily circulation for the Express-News is 139,099.

I’ve known Mike a long, long time. When I got my first fulltime newspaper job in Athens, Ga., he was an artist at our sister paper in Augusta. Later, I moved to the Rock Hill, S.C., Herald and he moved to Charlotte (N.C.) Observer. Where he eventually worked his way up to graphics editor.


He spent several years with Knight-Ridder’s TV animation studio, News in Motion, in Washington, D.C. He’s been with the Express-News for several years, now.

Mike Fisher is a huge name in science fiction and horror circles. He’s cartooned for Starlog magazine since the 1980s. He publishes the occasional fanzine comic, featuring his ultimate geekazoid character, 3D Pete. Find Mike’s web site here.

Mike also posts humorous sci-fi and entertainment videos Find his YouTube channel here.

Find a nice Q&A with him here.

Cool superhero cover alert

It’s Comic Con time in Boston this weekend. The alt-weekly tab there, Dig Boston, celebrated with variant covers.

This one by noted comics artist Ed McGuinness shows Superman and a grown-up Fionna from the Adventure Time TV show…


…while this one by Shelli Paroline — an artist for Adventure Time — depicts Fionna in a bit more recognizable form, returning the favor.


Both Paroline and McGuinness live in the suburbs of Boston. And both artists will be at the convention.

Read more about the covers here. Find an interview with the founder of the Boston Comic Con here.

How better to explain the business of comics than with a comic?

Cartoonist Paul Horn is at the world-famous Comic-Con in San Diego this week, peddling his line of Cool Jerk books and merchandise in the small press section of the enormous convention.

Of course, you’d know this already if you read Sunday’s U-T San Diego. The business section featured a full-page, first-person story about small comics operations and how they use Comic-Con to attract an audience.

The story, naturally, was told in comic format. Click for a larger look…


…or, if you prefer, find it here in an easy-to-read slideshow format.

Paul explains how the con operates and how the small press publishers treat it as a job — “one where you work for five days and have 51 weeks off in between,” he says.


Adding commentary is Paul’s wife: Designer and food blogger Darlene Horn.

Paul tells us:

I was contacted by U-T San Diego business editor Diana McCabe to produce a full-page comic detailing the business of exhibiting at Comic-Con. Since I can only talk from first-person experiences, I talked about Small Press. The piece was mostly autobio with very little goofiness/hyperbole. But I did manage to get some Cool Jerk flavor (and products) in there.


I also included the voices of a couple creative friends of mine who had to leave Small Press under similar circumstances but with different approaches.

Paul also throws in an amusing success story.


Paul is coming off a pretty severe injury to his drawing hand: He fractured his thumb in November, requiring surgery. He wore a cast for a full month and then went through physical therapy for two more.


He tells us:

My thumb is still not 100% and it gets really achey after cartooning (because of the demands of using a brush for inking). I discovered these limits while inking this package, which is about 5x more area to draw/ink than the typical Cool Jerk.

A 1991 graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, Paul spent a year as an illustrator for the Daily Sparks Tribune of Sparks, Nev., before becoming assistant graphics editor of the Reno Gazette-Journal in 1990. He moved to the San Diego Union-Tribune in 1994 and worked there nearly 12 years before “retiring” in 2006 to concentrate on his free-lance graphics work and on his strip, Cool Jerk. Which I really enjoy.


A 1995 graduate of San Diego State University, Darlene spent nearly eight years as an editorial design assistant for the Union-Tribune. In 2005, she moved to the Los Angeles Daily News as a business section desk editor and designer. She moved again in 2006 to the Orange County Business Journal and leaped to the San Diego Business Journal a year later. The SDBJ laid off a number of staffers earlier this year, including Darlene.

Darlene is perhaps best known as the creator of the food blog My Burning Kitchen. She recently posted her annual piece on where to eat — and where not to eat — while in town for the convention. Find that post here.

The two of them collaborated on a really cool book they launched during last year’s Comic-Con:


Find that book for sale here.

Paul, of course, has published several collections of his Cool Jerk work and one of additional material.


He has a new one out just in time for this week’s con: Volume Four of Cool Jerk, entitled Thinkulus.


As soon as Comic-Con ends, Thinkulus will go on sale at Paul’s online store. So remind yourself to buy a copy of each of his and Darlene’s books — which range in price between five and twelve bucks apiece.

Or, if you like, buy ’em from Amazon. Paul’s stuff is available there now, too.

If you’re at Comic-Con this week, make sure you stop by Paul’s table. It’ll look something like his setup recently in Denver:


Paul tells us:

I’ll be in Small Press, K10 (back of the Exhibit Hall, near the bathrooms aka vomitorium/cosplay emergency repair station).

Um… right.

Full disclosure: I love Paul and Darlene. They came to see me in my second or third week here in Southern California. Darlene even cooked for me. And Paul personalized a drawing of my favorite Cool Jerk character. It hangs by my desk here at home.


Comic-Con runs through Sunday. Both Paul and Darlene are live tweeting as much as they can — Darlene a little more, probably, because she has one more good thumb than Paul has. Find Paul’s twitter feed here and Darlene’s Twitter feed here.

Virginian-Pilot’s Wes Watson previews the ‘Superman’ movie with an illustration

I received a handful of Man of Steel movie-themed pages but not enough, really, to make a decent blog post. So, as you may have noticed, I skipped the topic.

Until now. I spotted this from Wesley Watson of the Virginian-Pilot on Facebook this morning and it knocked my socks off.

Click for a much larger look.


Wesley tells us:

The story is about how Henry Cavill has been passed up for every big role that’s come his way, up until he got the role as Superman. Mal Vincent interviewed him by phone a couple of weeks ago.

With the illustration, I wanted to focus on a heavy ink style and primary colors to give it a comic feel. There are flesh tones in there but I pushed them back a bit. I was able to keep it an Illustrator file, meaning my blacks printed on one plate — as opposed to a color jpg where I’d have separation. This way it printed really sharp.

After it printed, Sam Hundley joked with me a bit about how big I ran it. He told me not to be so modest, go ahead and go big next time. It’s the Virginian-Pilot, he said. Ha. Made me laugh.

Incidentally, Mal gives the movie only two-and-a-half stars. Read his review here.

Average daily circulation for the Virginian-Pilot is 142,476.

A product of East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., Wes spent four years as a designer for the Daily News of Washington, N.C. before moving to the Casper, Wyo., Star-Tribune in 2006.


He was the paper’s news editor until he recruited Jim McBee — also from North Carolina — to take over for him so he could become special projects coordinator and illustrator in 2011. He moved to the Virginian-Pilot in October.

A few samples of his work:




Find more in his NewsPageDesigner portfolio.

A fun summer super-hero movie page

Amy Olding of the Lee regional design center in Munster, Ind., sends us this fun summer super-hero movie page from today’s Journal of Sioux City, Iowa.

Click for a larger view:


Amy tells us:

I had my comic loving Significant Other look it over and used his comic collection for inspiration.

Q: What font is that? Is that one of those freebies?

A: It was an animation font we have here. I converted it to outlines though to make sure all printed well.

I would question the inclusion of the two super-heroes who do not have movies coming out this summer, Batman and Spider-Man. The latter, at least, has one currently in production. For the former, no more movies are planned at this time.

Spider-Man figures especially prominently in the page-one skybox promo to the package.


Gotta love a comic-book movie page, though, that actually looks something like a comic book.


A 2008 graduate of Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., Amy spent that summer as a graphics intern at the Oregonian of Portland. She spent nearly a year as a designer for Ball State’s Institute for Digital Intermedia Art, creating flyers, posters, newsletters, web pages and an iPhone app. Amy caught on in at the News-Leader of Springfield, Mo., in early 2010. She moved to Munster last spring.

A few samples of her work:

A few samples of her work:





Find her portfolio here, her web site here and her Twitter feed here.

Average daily circulation for the Sioux City Journal is 32,502.

That little slice of page one is from the Newseum. Of course.

Victoria, Texas, has some fun with the new summer super-hero movies

Assistant presentation editor Luis Rendon of the Victoria (Texas) Advocate, writes to show us what he and the crew of Get Out — the Advocate‘s weekly entertainment tab — did for today’s edition.

Luis writes:

We originally had planned to focus on a Cinco de Mayo story, but changed course when we realized that Iron Man 3 was coming out this week.


We didn’t just want to focus on Iron Man, though, and wanted to dig a little deeper, thus we ended up settling on a story about why we our readers love these characters so much and kind of capturing their excitement.


Blain Hefner, who has quickly become our go-to illustrator, did these really cool masks that I put on our cover and inside at finger-puppet size. You can download them online to print at full size.


Blain, being the cool guy he is, also wrote a couple break out boxes for the story.

I put together all the pages, and oh yeah, wrote the story as well.

Just last week, I was bragging on Luis’ work at the Advocate. I showed you this Get Out cover:


Despite Victoria being a relatively small, relatively conservative community, Advocate editor Chris Cobler received no calls at all about that headline, I reported.

That might be the case. But there was still another interesting story behind that cover, Luis tells us.

Our entertainment reporter Jessica Rodrigo, photo editor Kat Duncan, and I get together every week to plan what we want for our Get Out cover. For that particular week our cover story was an advance for the annual Eat Tail, Suck Head Crawfish Fest.

I knew right away I wanted to have a really nasty close up of those little buggers, to really show that, yes, these little alien guys are what you’re eating. I also thought it’d be more striking to have a live one as a opposed to a lifeless frozen one.

But where, oh where, to get live crawfish in coastal Texas?

Jessica, who also is quite a foodie, and I were hoping it’d be as easy as going to the seafood counter at the grocery store. But when we got there they told us they had sold out of that week’s shipment days ago. We obviously had underestimated how much Victorians like their crawfish.

We then went about calling local restaurants to see if they’d sell us any. In the end, they all kind of shut us down. One place didn’t seem too opposed to it, but he said he’d have to ask his manager and he wasn’t in town. We ended up buying two pounds of spicy (and cooked) crawfish and hoped we could maybe use some of our journalism charm on him to sell us just one live crawfish.

He put up a good fight, but Jessica worked her magic and he finally relented and snuck us one live guy on top of our order of his cooked brothers and sisters. It felt like the greatest achievement of our careers to be honest, haha.

When we got to the office everyone gathered around to check out the little guy and Kat wound up taking lots of awesome studio shots of him, including the one you see on the cover. After the shoot we felt so bad we actually ended up releasing our model into a nearby river.

Kat also put together a kind of funny video with Jessica and me showing our viewers how to eat a crawfish according to some pros we talked to. I had never had a crawfish before so it was definitely, um, an experience. And I really tried, but no… I could not bring myself to suck the head.

Here’s the story, as well.

Overall, it was a lot of fun to execute and I’m glad it made you laugh a little bit. I’m hoping all of our readers chuckled when they saw the page.

Average daily circulation for the Victoria Advocate is 26,531.

See another Iron Man 3 features treatment here.

So, are you doing anything cool for the new Iron Man 3 movie? Send me the page.

Our first ‘Iron Man 3’ features treatment

My pal James A. Molnar of the Toledo (Ohio) Free Press Star writes:

I’m excited to share with you our Summer Movies package. Once again, Iron Man is center stage.

050113 S01-52.indd


I found a cool photo of Iron Man sitting on a couch and thought I’d add popcorn, as if he’s watching a movie. My editor, Michael S. Miller, asked me to put him in a theater and we went from there.

For the inside, I was given a bounty of room (even if two were black-and-white pages).

Here’s page four…

050113 S4-5, 6-7.indd

…page five…

050113 S4-5, 6-7.indd

…page seven…

050113 S4-5, 6-7.indd

…and page eight.

050113 S8-9, 10.indd

James adds that he…

…can’t wait to see Iron Man 3 on the big screen. I’m hoping for cool 3-D glasses, too.


A 2009 graduate of Marquette in Milwaukee, Wis., James served as a reporter, designer and then visual content editor for the student paper there, the Marquette Tribune. He spent a couple of months as a designer and editor for the Daily of Chatauqua, N.Y. and then seven months as an apprentice optician at Eyeglass World in Toledo before catching on at the Free Press in 2010 as lead designer.

A few previous blog posts featuring James Molnar’s work at the Free Press Star:

April 12: Pro tip: Never made a ‘mud hen’ angry

Oct. 31, 2012: A handful of happy Halloween page treatments

April 30, 2012: Stirring up a little visual excitement with the Avengers movie

April 5, 2012: A starting lineup of the day’s best Opening Day front pages

Oct. 28, 2011: Four great Halloween features page treatments

May 11, 2011: A fun summer movie package by a Toledo weekly

Nov. 19, 2010: Just wild about Harry …Potter movie treatments, that is

Oct. 29, 2010: More BOO-tiful Halloween-themed pages

Find his blog here, his portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

So, are you doing anything cool for the new Iron Man 3 movie that opens Friday? Send me the page.

Martin Gee’s take on Superman

Here’s master illustrator Martin Gee with his take on Superman.

Click for a much larger look.


Martin gives quick-hit bios for the Man of Steel and his associates: Snappy journalist Lois Lane…


Daily Planet employees Perry White and Jimmy Olsen…


…a nice old couple from Smallville, a number of supervillans and one one certain mild-mannered reporter.


Martin drew this for a 26 x 21″ glossy-paper doubletruck for the National of Abu Dhabi. I believe it ran last week: Thursday was the actual 75th anniversary of the release of the first issue of Action comics starring Superman.

Martin has put his patented vector touch on superheroes before, of course. The Iron Man on the right, for example, Martin drew of the daily features section of the Boston Globe.


Last year, the National‘s Marin Devine hired Martin to create a large illustration of Spider-Man and his cast of characters. Click this  for a readable version…

…and go here to read more about that project.

When he’s not freelancing, Martin Gee is a senior designer for Huffington, which is the Huffington Post‘s iPad publication.


Martin studied illustration at San Jose State University and interned at the San Jose Mercury News and the Miami Herald before joining the Orange County Register in 1998. In 2000, Martin left newspapers to work as a designer for the House of Blues. He leaped back into news design with Chicago’s RedEye in 2005 and then slipped over to the mothership Chicago Tribune before moving back to the Mercury News in 2006.

In 2008, he became art director of the monthly Oregon Business magazine. He moved to the Boston Globe in 2010 as features design supervisor. He moved to Huffington last fall.

Find Martin’s web site here and his Facebook fan page here. Find his Twitter feed here.

Step-by-step through a fun, comic book-themed illustration

Illustrator Craig Schaffer of the Reading Eagle‘s Business Weekly won a first place in Pennsylvania Newspaper Association’s annual Keystone awards with a fun, comic-book-themed illustration about — what else? — A fun, comic book-themed local company.


Craig writes that, for this story, he…

I wrote the story, designed the layout, took photographs and created the illustrations.


That’s the front cover. But what you really need to see is the inside illo. I can’t find a copy of it anywhere…

UPDATE – 11 a.m. PDT

Here it is. Click for a much larger view:


…but you get several up-close looks at it in this video the Eagle produced while the work was in progress last December.


A 1998 graduate of the Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Mass., Craig spent several years as an archaeological illustrator before joining the Intelligencer of Doylestown, Pa. He moved to Reading in 2004. Find his online portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

Average daily circulation of the Reading Eagle is 49,437.

An amazing photo and other notable Tuesday A1 presentations

Let’s take a quick look at a few notable front-page presentations…




Chicago, Ill.

Circulation: 414,590

That’s what I thought the first time I laid eyes on this amazing image by Chris Walker of the Chicago Tribune.

But, sure enough, that is not a computer rendering. That is Sunday’s “harvest moon” framed perfectly behind One River Place in Chicago, once known as the headquarters of the Montgomery Ward company. Not only did Chris shoot that fair-and-square, he also made a number of other gorgeous images and put them all in the Tribune‘s photo blog.

That incredible picture was lead photo on A1 of today’s Tribune.




Fargo, N.D.

Circulation: 45,298

You just don’t see enough great pumpkin puns in newspapers these days.

My apologies. You know how I can’t resist a pun headline.

UPDATE – 5:15 p.m.

The page — and headline — are by staffer Daniel Haglund, I’m told.

The equally cute photo is by Forum staffer Carrie Snyder.




Neptune, N.J.

Circulation: 98,032

What? In the middle of a very nasty Election season, the Asbury Park Press is concerned with lying children?

One of the tips: Ask why your kids did something, not if. My takeaway from that: Guilty until proven innocent. Have these experts never watched a Stephen Spielberg movie?

Seriously, though, it seems like pretty decent advice. The illustration is by Jeff Colson.




St. Louis, Mo.

Circulation: 187,992

It’s a day early for this. But I like the way the Post-Dispatch framed its debate advance in the form of do’s and don’t’s for each candidate.

Here’s a closer look. Click on this for one that is — hopefully –readable.

The material here is from McClatchy-Tribune. The pictures are from the Associated Press.




Fayetteville, N.C.

Circulation: 49,163

In its own page-one presidential debate preview, the Fayetteville Observer used giant circles.

Expect to hear from Gannett lawyers any minute now.




Chicago, Ill.

Distribution: 250,000

After the way the Bears dismantled the Cowboys last night, I’m not sure you can even call this mean. I’d say it’s accurate.





Somerville, N.J.

Circulation: 15,533

As a longtime comic book fan myself, I had to stop and check out the story on the front of today’s Courier News.

One little problem with it, however. Check out the cutline.

Obviously, that’s not Wonder Woman in the drawing. Last time I checked, Wonder Woman was a brunette. This drawing is of Supergirl.

This drawing, from the online version of the story

…is of Wonder Woman. With “Wonder Girl” Donna Troy thrown in for good measure.

And, in fact, the one-named artist who drew this — Franco — is the artist on a title called Superman Family Adventures.

All of these pages are from the Newseum. Of course.

Martin Gee’s wonderful graphic take on Spider-Man

There’s just so much to love in this Spider-Man illustration Martin Gee drew recently for the National of Abu Dhabi.

Click for an extra, extra huge look.

Martin calls it a “dream assignment”:

I had way too much fun doing this.

Art direction and design was by the National‘s Marin Devine. Marin tells us:

The Spider-Man page came about because I had been searching around for ideas for our Oasis doubletruck. It’s a weekly spread that runs in our features section on Fridays. It’s basically our “designer’s playground” page. It can feature just about anything (recent spreads have included a big graphic on the history of temperatures in the UAE during Ramadan, and a look back at some of the strange sports no longer in the Olympics).

So I came across the fact that Spider-Man comics first appeared 50 years ago in August 1962. Immediately I thought of Martin. I remembered his work on Superman and Iron Man from his site and had a hunch he might be interested in working on another comic book superhero.


Plus I love his vector style and thought it would make for a really fun pull-out-and-save kind of poster, especially since the section is printed on glossy paper.

I thought it would be good to do a small round-up of Spider-Man‘s famous friends and foes as well. I’m no expert on comics, so I’m glad I had someone with Martin’s knowledge on the project!

Kerri Abrams, designer of the Weekend section and The National‘s Luxury and Ultratravel magazines, and I worked together to put the final pieces in to place. I have to say the finished product looked really fantastic in print.

I’m so glad Martin and I got a chance to work together on something so fun.

Let’s check out a few details, shall we?

Mike Rice of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune commented via Facebook:

You did a very nice job mixing your style with [original Spider-Man comic-book artist Steve] Ditko‘s — especially on the Peter Parker.

Martin replied:

Thanks. I did refer to Spider-Man #1 on my iPad but had to stray from the original Lizard in issue 6.

Here is Martin’s take on the Lizard. Who, as you might know, was the villain in this year’s new Amazing Spider-Man movie.

Here is Spider-Man‘s most popular villain, Venom…

…the editor of the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson…

…and Peter’s sweetheart, Mary Jane Watson.

When he’s not freelancing, Martin Gee is features design supervisor for the Boston Globe.

Martin studied illustration at San Jose State University and interned at the San Jose Mercury News and the Miami Herald before joining the Orange County Register in 1998. In 2000, Martin left newspapers to work as a designer for the House of Blues. He leaped back into news design with Chicago’s RedEye in 2005 and then slipped over to the mothership Chicago Tribune before moving back to the Mercury News in 2006. In 2008, he became art director of the monthly Oregon Business magazine. He joined the Globe two years ago.

Find Martin’s web site here and his Facebook fan page here. Find his Twitter feed here.

A final few ‘Dark Knight Rises’ features treatments

Sorry it’s taken me so long to post the last few Batman pages that came in while I was in transit to Kenya…


Norfolk, Va.

Circulation: 142,476

The Pilot waited until Sunday — when it had a new review of the movie written by veteran critic Mal Vincent –– before running a huge full-page display in features.

Click that — or any picture here today — for a larger view.

Here’s the jump page….

…which includes a look back at the character of Catwoman, played in the new movie by Anne Hathaway. Here’s just the graphic:

Bob also moved a few pixels around in order to create a 164-pixel  online version. Find that here.

Read Mal’s review here.


Louisville, Ky.

Circulation: 154,033

In addition, Spencer Holladay of Gannett’s Louisville, Ky., Design Studio sent us a few pages from out his facility.

This one — from Friday’s Courier-Journal — was designed by Brian Gray, he tells us.


Lansing, Mich.

Circulation: 41,330

Staffer Branden Barker was responsible for this Lansing features front.


Muncie, Ind.

Circulation: 20,305

And, finally, staffer Jeff Harkness worked on this “turn it on its side” broadsheet front for the Muncie paper.

Previous posts about the Dark Knight Rises, here in the blog…

Did you do something cool for the new Batman movie? Send me a PDF. But keep in mind I’ll be in transit most of Friday and Saturday.

Today’s Batman movie treatments

Another small batch of Batman movie treatments from around the country in advance of the Dark Knight Rises movie, which opens Friday.


Cincinnati, Ohio

Circulation: 144,165

Clay Sisk of the Gannett Design Studio in Louisville, Ky. tells us:

I decided to go bold and simple this time out.

Yeah, I’m hearing a lot of that this time around. Still, the pages are looking great.

Here is the features cover Clay built for today’s paper.


Chicago, Ill.

Distribution: 250,000

In Chicago today, Trent J. Koland also went with a simple, highly stylized — and monochrome — approach for his RedEye cover.


Aberdeen, S.D.

Circulation: 14,272

The most puzzling approach I’ve seen yet was this one on the front of today’s Aberdeen, S.D., newspaper. The American News asked boys and girls ranging from ages 8 to 18 to speculate what was going to happen to Batman in the movie.

One excerpt:

Austin Rose, 11

“He’s going to get new gear.” Austin said. He believes Batman will have “upgraded, stronger armor” and be able to hold more stuff in his belt. Austin wants Batman to come back more powerful and harder to defeat. Austin estimates around 50 explosions and three buildings to be demolished.

Read the story here by staffer Racquel Bethea.

A bunch of papers put Batman in their skyboxes today. The most notable of them…


Cheyenne, Wyo.

Circulation: 14,267

This may have been the best Batman skybox today. There’s a lot of dead space — especially on the left — but the great headline makes up for it.


Spartanburg, S.C.

Circulation: 31,940

Lots of papers are using the handout picture of Batman on his motorcycle. Most are cutting out the image, but Spartanburg today used the entire picture and made it work well.


Peoria, Ill.

Circulation: 63,024

Perhaps one of the most ineffective Batman skyboxes today is this one. Batman is leaning forward because he’s on his motorcycle.

But that’s not readily apparent here. Instead, it just looks like a strange crop. Which kind of makes it a strange crop, by definition.


Boston, Mass.

Circulation: 108,548

The Boston Herald today played up the history of the Catwoman character.


Lafayette, Ind.

Circulation: 25,531

Not to be outdone, the Lafayette, Ind., paper did the same for the character of Batman.

Without their ears, however, this seems a bit strange.

The lesson here: It’s very, very difficult to push Batman into a horizontal space. Unless you have access to more art than just the usual handout material.

Everything here but the Cincinnati page is from the Newseum. Of course.

Previous posts about the Dark Knight Rises, here in the blog…

Do you have something interesting in the works for the new Batman movie? Send me a PDF! The email address is:

chuckapple [at] cox.net

Two superb feature treatments for the new Batman movie

Are you getting excited yet about the new Batman movie?

I’m not. Instead of parking myself in an ice cold theater with a warm bucket of popcorn, I’ll spend my Friday stuffed into a flying metal tube, en route to Kenya for two weeks of teaching and consulting work. As a result, I suspect most of you will see the Dark Knight Rises long before I do.

In the meantime, I have two cool movie treatments for you today…


Pittsburgh, Pa.

Circulation: 188,545

You’re aware, perhaps, that much of new Batman movie was filmed last summer in Pittsburgh. I happened to stumble upon some of that when I was in town. I walked out of the place I was staying early one morning to find dozens of police cars.

But instead of Pittsburgh Police Department, they were all labeled Gotham Police Department.

That’s me sitting amid fake snow, atop a Post-Gazette newspaper rack cleverly disguised to look like the Gotham City Journal. Read more about this little adventure here.

A blog reader in Pittsburgh tipped me off there was a cool guide in today’s Post-Gazette that explained where various parts of the movie were filmed. Design and graphics editor Diane Juravich was kind enough to send me a copy.

Click for a nice, readable view:

Diane tells us the piece was…

…produced in the Post-Gazette art department and the key folks involved were Ed Yozwick, graphics, and Ben Howard, design.

And the text was by Barbara Vancheri.

Find an interactive version of the map here, read here about the local premiere last night and go here for an interesting — and spoiler-free — Q&A about the movie.


Boston, Mass.

Circulation: 225,482

My good pal Ryan Huddle writes:

I did a page but, for once, it is not a huge massive poster. I changed my style for this one and went minimal on it. It’s a little different from what I normally do for the huge movies but I think it works with the story and mystery of Batman.

Here’s the very graphic, very moody front starring Batman (click for a much larger view)…

…and here’s the jump page, featuring a comic-style Bane.

The story — by the Globe‘s Tom Russo — addresses different DC comics movie possibilities. Unfortunately, it’s behind the Globe‘s paywall. However, the sidebar — about the history of the Bane character — you can read for free.

As a bonus, Ryan tells us:

I also included the page from the week before because I just had to show you how we combined a story on the Clash, a Neil Young documentary and Gene Kelly‘s birthday.

Whaaat? There’s no way to combine three diverse topics like that into one visual. No way on Earth.

Ryan writes:

I think it works.

Hmm. I think it does, too. I stand corrected.

Previous posts about the Dark Knight Rises, here in the blog…

Do you have something interesting in the works for the new Batman movie? Send me a PDF! The email address is:

chuckapple [at] cox.net

And keep in mind that I’m flying out of the country on Friday, so the sooner the better. I gleefully honor all embargoes, so let me know if you can send it early but need me to sit on it a day or so before I post it.