Wally Wood Goes PLOP! Funny Fantasy in The King of the Ring

Wally Wood King of the Ring 05 detail wizard volcano
Wallace Wood was in his waning days in the 1970's, but that didn't keep him from pumping out a comic book classic from time to time!
Wallace Wood King of the Ring 01 detail wizard
The King of the Ring was Woody's wonderful (and loving) Tolkien spoof, and it appeared in DC Comics' PLOP #23 Sept-Oct 1976. Here are a few previews:
Wally Wood King of the Ring 03 Plop detail
Wally Wood King of the Ring 05 detail pizza spider
Wally Wood King of the Ring 05 detail elf goblin

I hope that was enough to convince you to download these pages below.

Wood was so much fun when his heart was in it...and this is one of my favorite Wally Wood comics!
Click on any of the thumbnail pages below to open up a ridiculously HUGE hi-res
comic book scan!
Wally Wood King of the Ring 04 detail pow gun
Wally Wood King of the Ring 01 Plop Wally Wood King of the Ring 02 Plop
Wally Wood King of the Ring 03 Plop Wally Wood King of the Ring 04 Plop
Wally Wood King of the Ring 05 Plop Wally Wood King of the Ring 06 Plop
Also: nice bio on Wally Wood at:

We Start INKING in Adobe Illustrator Process Video #4

Video #4 - Let's Start INKING!
SpongeBob inking Adobe Illustrator tutorial video by Sherm Cohen
Click on image - video will open in new window
(There's also a smaller version at the bottom of the post in case you have trouble watching the large video)

Okay, this is what we've been building up to!

In today's video, you can watch as I start inking the SpongeBob illustration in real time. All of these videos were recorded while I was working on the new cover illustration for Nickelodeon magazine -- so you're seeing all of the actual work that went in to creating that image.

There's no retakes here -- everything is live -- just as it happened. The only thing I trimmed out were the pauses.

SpongeBob inking tutorial Adobe Illustrator corners

Using Adobe Illustrator for inking and clean-up has allowed me to take on jobs that I would have had to turn down in the past. Getting a piece of art to look this cleaned up would cause permanent injury to my hands and my wrists if I had to do it with regular pen and ink and brush. It also would have taken forever and a day if I were using traditional materials.

SpongeBob inking tutorial Adobe Illustrator cleaning mistakes

One of the unexpected benefits of inking in Adobe Illustrator is that my line has become a lot more spontaneous -- I can be a lot more fast and spontaneous with the brush since I know that I can press "undo" if I make a bad line.

SpongeBob inking tutorial Adobe Illustrator outline

I'm hoping that once you see this in action, you'll be inspired to give it a try yourself. If you already own Adobe Illustrator as part of one of the Adobe suites, you really owe it to yourself to make the most out of your investment. If you don't own Adobe Illustrator, but you'd like to learn... you can download a free 30 day trial from the Adobe website.

Here's a smaller version of the video if you're having trouble loading the big video:

The next video might be a little bit boring, but it covers some very vital topics. Even though it appears to be focusing on Adobe Illustrator's ellipse tool, it will also show how to copy, paste and reuse drawing elements to save you time and effort. I will also be demonstrating how to use the Illustrator pencil tool to reshape a technically perfect shape into something more appropriate for a hand drawn image. See you then!

If you want to keep up with all the videos,
here's where to find the first three lessons:
here is an updated list of the
Adobe Illustrator
Cartoon Inking tutorial videos:
...and of course the completed Nick Mag cover art is at:
SpongeBob and Patrick Blowing Bubble Gum Nick Magazine Cover art by Sherm Cohen

Illustrator Process Video #3 - Freehand Brushes for Cartoon Style Inking

Video #3 - Freehand BRUSH Tool
SpongeBob Illustrator inking tutorial on Brushes
Click on image - video will open in new window
(There's also a smaller version at the bottom of the post in case you have trouble watching the large video)

Okay -- here's where it starts getting fun!
We're going to be covering the freehand brush tool in today's Adobe Illustrator Inking Tutorial video
SpongeBob Illustrator inking tutorial calligraphic Brush strokes
Adobe Illustrator inking tutorial custom Brushes palette

The freehand brush seems to be one of the least-known features in Adobe Illustrator. Most people associate Illustrator with very clean and technical lines -- and not the hand-drawn look that traditional cartoons and comic books use. It turns out, though, that Adobe Illustrator is a fantastic tool for doing comic book inking and cartooning cleanups still have that spontaneous & freehand look.
SpongeBob Illustrator inking tutorial calligraphic Brush strokes

I want to make sure to point out that you'll need some sort of pressure-sensitive drawing tablet to get all the calligraphic effects that I'm going to be showing in this video. The most common drawing tablets are made by Wacom, and they range in price from under $99 for the Bamboo Fun to "an arm and a leg" for the Cintiq. All of these brush effects can be done with even the simplest and the smallest drawing tablet (as long as it supports pressure sensitivity).
Adobe Illustrator inking tutorial Brushes angle settings

A lot of people complain that the hand-drawn lines that they try to draw with the freehand brush tool become distorted as soon as the line has finished being drawn. That problem will be corrected if you copy the brush settings that I use in this video. Of course, I also encourage everybody to play with those settings and customize to them to your own specific needs.
Adobe Illustrator inking tutorial Brushes diameter settings
Adobe Illustrator inking tutorial Brushes line variation

Today's video will show you how to find and use the custom brushes that I included in the downloadable template, and it also shows you exactly how to customize and create your own custom freehand brushes. Once all that information has been covered, will be ready for tomorrow's video -- when I actually start INKING the darn thing! So be sure to come back for the next episode, too!
Here's a smaller version of today's video if you're having trouble viewing the larger version:

If you want to keep up with all the videos, here's where to find the first two lessons:

Videos Start Today - Cartoon Inking in Adobe Illustrator

Thanks to the great response on my last couple of "process" posts, I have uploaded the tutorial videos, and here they are:
#1 - Setting Up and Importing Images
Click on image - video will open in new window

#2 - Palette Options and settings
SpongeBob_inking_tutorial_ Palette Options and settings
Click on image - video will open in new window
These are Large Videos intended for Fast Internet Connections. If you have trouble viewing them, or if your connection is slow, there are smaller versions of these videos at the end of the post.
These two videos cover the basic steps of opening an illustrator file, saving and renaming a file, and importing a pencil drawing into the Illustrator document for tracing.
layers palette adobe illustrator tutorial video
Since Adobe Illustrator can be a pretty scary program to newcomers, the first couple of videos start from the very beginning and show exactly how I set up the new document and which options I use whenever I create a cartoon illustration.
If you already have experience using Adobe Illustrator, then today's videos may be a bit basic. I can promise you that in the next couple of days, the videos will be heading into much more advanced territory. I've been struggling with the question of how to pace these tutorials... I'd like to cover everything thoroughly, but I don't want it to be too slow.
selection tool adobe illustrator tutorial video
I recorded all of these videos in real time while I was creating the SpongeBob cover illustration for this month's Nick Magazine. In the editing process, I have trimmed down all the downtime moments and most of the "um"s and "ah"s (but not all of them). I also used some fancy technology to zoom in closely on anything that's really important to see.
So in a time when "speed painting" videos proliferate on the Internet, I have chosen the slow and steady approach instead. It's the kind of thing I wish I had when I was starting to use Adobe Illustrator, especially since the books on that topic don't even begin to cover how to use Adobe Illustrator for freehand inking or cartooning.
fit image to screen adobe illustrator tutorial video

I created a special template that I use for all my Adobe Illustrator projects. I used this template in the video demonstration, and I'm giving it to you for downloading so that you can follow along if you'd like. The way Illustrator templates work, all of the custom brushes and graphic styles are embedded into the you will get to use all of the custom inking brushes I have created and used over the years. You can find and download the free Inking Template at:
You don't need to follow along in Adobe Illustrator to get a lot out of these videos -- sometimes just looking at somebody else's process can give you a lot of tips.
The next video in the series will be about how to use the freehand brush tool to create real hand-drawn inking in Adobe Illustrator. I will also show you how to create new custom brushes, and how to use the custom brushes that are already included in the downloadable template.
As promised, here are smaller videos for slower bandwidth. Please let me know how the videos are playing on your'll help me prepare better videos in the future!
Here are smaller versions of the videos if you're having trouble viewing the larger videos:

Next video: BRUSHES!
In case you missed them,
here is the COMPLETE list of all eleven
Adobe Illustrator
Cartoon Inking tutorial videos:
...and of course the completed Nick Mag cover art is at:
SpongeBob and Patrick Blowing Bubble Gum Nick Magazine Cover art by Sherm Cohen

Making of a SpongeBob Cover Part 2 -- Step-by-Step from Sketch to Print

SpongeBob Nick Mag Bubble cover published 800

The whole Nick Mag cover process
(just like everything else in life)
starts with an idea.

For this SpongeBob cover, the idea was pretty loose -- just some gag featuring SpongeBob and Patrick blowing bubblegum bubbles.

So, how do I come up with a gag when I have just the beginning of an idea? I just start sketching. Even if I don't have a clue where I'm going, I know that if I put the pencil on the paper, something's going to come out. Even if the first few ideas are totally crappy, that pile of rejects will start to point me in the right direction.

Drawing a cover gag is sort of like drawing a single-panel gag cartoon with handcuffs on.

You can't use a caption or dialogue, and you have to fit everything within the magazine's template, leaving room for logos and headlines.
So even if you have a good idea, it still may not work ...unless you can make it read from a distance.

Those magazine racks are pretty crowded, and if the drawing is too complicated, it just turns into mush.

I liked this idea of SpongeBob, trapping Patrick inside of a bubblegum bubble,
but the size relationships were too far off to make this work.

I thought something with Gary might be nice

-- there are a lot of Gary the snail fans -

- but the Gary bubble wasn't looking like gum anymore.


I've done a lot of drawings were SpongeBob is blowing soap bubbles, and I didn't want this drawing to look too much like one of those. That's the same reason, I tossed out the ideas where SpongeBob is blowing a square bubble or a Patrick-shaped bubble.


SpongeBob_Cover_Bubble_Gum_Rough_out SpongeBob_NickMag_Bubble_Gum_Rough_no

I came up with the final idea by using a technique that has helped me many times in the past -- if I start to think vertically, a fresh idea will frequently pop up. By "vertically," I mean, getting the characters off of the same level. I tend to start out any scene by having all the characters standing on the same piece of ground, but this default position often leads to boring compositions.

On the SpongeBob TV show, we sometimes got a lot of humor out of having one of the characters enter a scene sideways or downward from above.

By moving the characters around vertically, I was also able to take a damage of the vertical aspect ratio of the cover itself.

Even though
I only liked
one of the ideas,
I submitted four different sketches.

I was really hoping that they'd pick the one that I liked... and fortunately,
they did.

Sometimes I get a lot of notes suggesting changes or tweaks, but this one just sailed through. I think it's because the idea was so simple. I'm a big fan of simple.

After the approval, I went straight in to pencil cleanup. This kind of "no background" medium shot is a freelancer's dream come true. All I had to do was clean up a couple of characters that I've already drawn about 10,000 times.

I had to shift things around a little bit to account for things like the barcode placement and the address stamp that they use on subscription copies.

That's where Photoshop layers come in handy.

SpongeBob Nick Mag Bubble cover rough pencil

All of my pencil drawings are drawn by hand, but manipulated in Photoshop.

The next phase is where the excitement really begins... inking in Adobe Illustrator. I have full-motion screen capture videos of the entire inking and painting process, and I'm going to post them in the next segment of this painting process. Be sure to leave a comment if you're interested -- the more I hear from you, the sooner I'll get those videos posted!

Garish, Ghouly and Goofy -- Weird Wheels paintings and More by Norman Saunders

Norman saunders book
My friend Mark Brammeier recently turned me on to a fantastic new book about pulp artist and painter, Norman Saunders. He's most famous for painting images on Topps trading cards in the sixties and seventies - like Mars Attacks and Wackv Packages - but he produced masterpieces of consumable fun from the 1930's thru the 1980's, from pulps to comic book covers to baseball cards.


The Weird Wheels stickers were one of the last jobs he did [CORRECTION: see paragraph below], but they are full of groovy, ghouly, garish goodness! Half of the cards were painted by Gary Hallgren, but I can't tell the difference. You can see all the cards at:

UPDATE: According to some helpful comments below, there's some updated info to share.  According to artist Gary Hallgren: 

"I designed and painted all the cards, Art Spiegelman and Len Brown suggested some of the titles and Norm came in to make it all more Topps-like in some regards. Mainly he reworked my flames as I had done a more graphic style a la hot rod decorations, he changed all of the drag slicks to duallys and even trippleys. Where have you ever seen THAT before? And yes, he spiffed up and even replaced some of the monsters--truly his specialty."

Screamin Demon Weird Wheels sticker
You can look at the Weird Wheels sticker cards individually at:

Norman Saunders also painted the 1966 Batman cards for Topps
Norman Saunders painted the classic Mars Attacks cards!
Mars Attacks the invasion begins Norman Saunders

Civil War News Trading Cards
Painted by Norman Saunders
CORRECTION: According to the helpful comment below, "Norm Saunders only painted 13 of the Civil War News cards. Maurice Blumenfeld did the majority and Bob Powell did the rest. Norm touched them all up for uniformity." See here:
painful death civil war news cards norman saunders

Norman Saunders' life story is a riveting read.

Norman saunders new book

You can read all about him in the new
biographical art book,
Norman Saunders, by his son David Saunders.
See a gallery of all the Norman Saunders cards at:

Norman saunders monkey ape valentine