Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Why We Fall



Art by Allison Smith.

"Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up." 

One of my favorite lines from Batman Begins. However, there are moments where it's rather difficult to get back up, and sometimes we require that one special kick in the ass. 

From each tumble, we learn a valuable lesson. A year or so ago, I had hit a personal wall that was proving too difficult to force through. Art, which is usually front and center, took a back sea--and while we've all had art blocks--that wasn't the only issue.

It began with my roommate of two years, whom had decided it was time to move else where. With such a sudden interruption, I had to find a new home and in less than 30 days.

Having also been through a bleak breakup months prior, and finding myself with no pending freelance work and a quickly dwindling bank account due to debt, my patience and options for a new home were slim. On top of that, one of my sons, Gizmo...

Remy and Gizmo

...my loyal cat of seven years, had to undergo several vet trips due to an infected bladder. With time running out, and options far exceeding my pay grade, I was forced to move into my (at the time) rather small office. I had officially hit rock-bottom. 

I remember sneaking around to brush my teeth in the PM. Leaving in the AM so the manager wouldn't know I stayed the night. Surrounded by bins of my clothes, my bed, growing insecurities and towering cat litter, I would stare at a seven-foot tall statue of my character Gabriel, from LMS, as he stood proud, gun and head raised. To me, an image of never backing down.

"Shit." 

What the hell happened to me, and how did I let myself get here?

Finding myself struck by debt due to several hospital visits for a shitty kidney that's taken residence in my body, and with Gizmo's increasing vet-bills, I didn't know what to do anymore. Usually I have a grasp on what's going on, but during those months--nothing. I had hit that block, the one where you just laugh because shit just isn't clicking. 

My friends were great listeners and even better advisors, but that didn't change the fact that I still found myself sleeping in my office. I was too stubborn to go get a job in a studio, holding onto the idea of having my own company and IP. Pursuing a dream I was beginning to lose faith in.

Then, out of the blue, a message popped up on Facebook, from a lovely lady who I had been following on Instagram for her insane pencil and ink skills. We began with talks about art, film, music and what inspired us to become the artists we are today. 

Art by Allison Smith. 

When we agreed to meet on Halloween, the office was still my current residence. I hadn't gotten a haircut in months, or shaved and laundry was running short. She drove to see me, and regardless of looking like the stereotype internet psycho, didn't judge one bit. 

We spoke for hours, and soon those hours turned into days, weeks and eventually months. We drew, watched movies, and read comics together--reinvigorating a creative-passion I hadn't had in a relationship in a long time. With this sudden kick, I had a reason to paint and create again. And because of her, I've been working on something big... 

Ending this, I've been told by few to not write about my low times. That some people may consider it unprofessional to show that I've been unstable before. But I do it to show you that's not how life works. I will not sugar coat, nor give false hopes. I want to relay every experience I've met upon this road of becoming an artist, both good and bad. We're all human, made of moments that will either break or build you. 

Without those moments, I wouldn't be who I am today. Many years (fingers crossed) still lie ahead, and much more is to be collected and learned.  Throughout my life, I've made and will make more mistakes and can guarantee you, will fall again. But that's why you have people like Allison out there. To pick you back up, slap you around, and remind you why you came here in the first place. 

When we first spoke, Allison told me she was inspired by my art in her younger years. While the feeling has always been mutual, I find myself more inspired by the woman who picked up the broken pieces, and glued me back together. That brings more confidence and strength than any paycheck or job could deliver. 



Thursday, January 15, 2015

Why I Left Social-Media...

Hello, Internet! 

I really don't know if this will be read, but hell, I felt a need to take a break from drawing and write a little.

Today I received an email from a fellow follower of my work, asking the question of why I left Facebook. Not that everyone should know my daily activities, but if you haven't noticed,
a couple of months ago  I had deleted my FB in order to focus on my property LMS, as it's shaping up for film, and the next book in the series, LMS: Welcome to America.

If you're wondering the actual reasons of why I left, allow me to explain. If you don't care, by all means, let me instead offer you this awesome short film I just watched: So good.


Back with me? Great. 

Now before I continue, this is strictly my opinion. I know people like to get angry online, so if you disagree with it, you have every right to. I am, in no way, forcing this onto you. I'm simply answering a question I've received a handful of times now. 

I left Facebook for multiple reasons. But mostly due to a common feeling I had been facing every time I logged into that death-trap of a site. I'll only state the points that really stood out from the others. (Sorry selfie-addicts, you're not making the cut!)  

Let's start with the News Feed. Time after time, I found myself scrolling through more negativity than positive statuses. Whether it was through tragic incidents around the world, bashing of others, or the arm-chair critics who were constantly bringing down others for enjoying a specific film, song or videogame. If not even directed at the specific person, it was the passive-aggressive and cynical nature of those comments that began to even make me feel like an asshole--finding myself slowly influenced into the same downward-spiral.

Was saying such things going to improve those films, video-games, or others? Was calling out designs I didn't like going to enhance my view of my own art, or in any way better my imagination? Frankly, it began to make me feel like a piece of shit.

Working on movies, and now being a part of my own with LMS, I've come to realize how much time and effort goes into these properties. The blood, sweat and tears that not only the creators must bring to the table (and trust me, it's more than you could imagine), but the amount the crew brings as well. You may sit there, comfortably and insult the film because you don't enjoy a specific aspect of it. But in all reality, you really don't know what that team went through to put that together until you've been through the very process.

I had come to realize that I was only absorbing the animosity others were sprouting  and soon began to reflect their own opinions onto myself. See, my friend once brought up an valuable angle I had never really thought about before:

"When you read someone's negative comment, you're transcribing it in your voice, in your own head. For example, say someone writes a status about a bad day or an unfortunate event. While support should obviously be given, by reading their negativity, you're now putting yourself into that person's perspective--and to add onto that, bringing up harsh feelings or memories possibly as well." 

I found myself becoming weaker, agreeing with comments that I may had not actually believed in. Not only that, but I began disliking certain people just for their opinions, when in all reality, they had every right to speak their mind. While I may sound like I'm contradicting my point, and with no way to solve such an issue, instead I decided to walk from that perspective entirely. Everyone has issues, some worse than others. But you can't fix, or sway, but instead, only lead by example.


I wasn't out of the worm-hole yet. Then there was the Critical Internal Voices. Not that I have any mental illnesses (well...), but I'll come out and say that believe it or not, at times I can be incredibly insecure with my own progress and career-status. It's not due to not enough followers, or Likes or Favs (those don't mean squat to the outside world, other than personal assurance), but more to the point of: Am I doing enough with what I have?

I'm lucky enough to have some incredibly inspiring and talented art-friends; a lot whom I assume most of you guys follow or look up to. Artists such as Maciej Kuciara, Anthony Jones, John Sweeney, Alex Konstad, Robert Chew, Ash Thorp, Jason Scheier, Raf Grassetti, Wes Burt, Jana Schirmer, Karla Ortiz, 
Dominic Qwek and dozens more who constantly blazed through work and absolutely killed it on the battlefield we call the business.  

Day after day I'd log in to see these guys just absolutely slaying it with new piece after new piece. Was I jealous? Oh hell yes I was and still am! With that level of skill thrown at once, how could I not be? But was I jealous to the point of disliking or resenting them? Not in the slightest, but instead, I began to find myself envious of their ability to constantly inspire and build, while I sat here questioning my slowly-crawling career.

Which brings LMS (Last Man Standing) to the table. A lot of people believe LMS was handed on a silver platter, but it truly wasn't. Thousands of dollars from my own (and my business partner) pocket have been taken and put into this property to build it into what it is today. But after seven years of pushing, and pushing, I began to ask myself: am I doing this right?

See, I haven't ever worked full-time at a studio, and while I have dabbled in freelance on some awesome properties, I decided to take another route. From what I've heard, some people felt I was trying to toot my own horn, but in all reality, it was due to the fact that I was brainwashed one day by my amazing business partner, Stephan. I always wanted to work for Weta, ILM, Pixar, Marvel, or DC, and about eight years ago, I found myself counting change, without a pot to piss in. After begging him to find me work, he offered the insane-idea of those studios possibly working for me one day if I were to create my own property instead. I called bullshit, but then one day decided to take a leap of faith and gave (a bloody) birth to LMS: Killbook of a Bounty Hunter


That decision changed my life and offered open doors to directors, studios and creative forces I'd never imagine to work alongside or with. It became one of the most humbling, blessed and fun rides I've ever had the pleasure of being part of. However, there was an expensive cost no money could solve, only perseverance and patience.

But it's not as easy as it may sound. I wasn't handed what LMS is today on a silver platter, and I was fit with a gold crown and throne. What they don't see is that I had to build this the property from the ground up, by myself (art-wise, Stephan guided me like a true scholar through the business angle), with not a cent towards the project--all done on my own dime. 


What I would never be able to prepare myself was that it would take up to seven years to get to the point of success the property LMS is at now.  I'm not talking maybe a month of stress here or there, I'm talking all 365 days of anxiety, stress, back-aches, weight-loss, headaches and lack of money for seven, long, long years.

During those slumps  (Hollywood takes time, it's not overnight, that's for sure), I found myself not drawing. Not creating. Instead, only judging myself by my peers' standards and constantly growing more fearful of my image. 

Why are they so successful, and I'm still fighting to get my property up and running? Why cant I work for any of these studios? And don't get me wrong, I wasn't wishing them ill-will in the slightest! I want nothing but the best for these artists, as they all deserve it, and even more.

But you see, the Why's weren't directed at them, but only at me. I found myself comparing apples and oranges, when really I was trying to be a piece of toast (best analogy I had, sorry). I hadn't come to discover what I was doing, as this had become one big learning curve for me; pitching an IP on my own. That didn't stop the voices however, as they continued to ring, questioning if I was truly the artist or creator I promised everyone to be. And it hurt, big time.

Then I woke up one day. I decided to delete FB without a real goodbye and Twitter as well (Twitter sucks, I'm sorry). I no longer had anything to say. I didn't want to promise, only to wait months for another update. I didn't want to act like I was living the Mark Whalberg life of Entourage, when really I was deciding "Can I pay my apartment this month?" I had realized I needed to get my shit together, on point, and accomplish what I set out to build. So I left social media behind.

The sad truth is, I don't think I'll ever be back, and I'm very proud of my stance on that. It's opened my eyes, allowed me a sense of freedom and man, I've painted at least 65-85 LMS (some finished, other's blocked in. Man, parentheses overload!) images in that time-frame since leaving.

Not only that, I began to dig deep into my own mind and drop-kick those insecurities out the window. I was no longer distracted, jaded by cynical comments, comparing myself to others and could now focus on what I wanted to build. 


To the LMS fans and followers, I have a massive (if you've read or own the Killbook, that's just the tip of the iceberg) story to tell you. If you know anything about the series, that little revenge story that some critics have called cliche is not the ACTUAL story. And to those critics, you fit the very bill the book was aimed at, so thank you for proving my point. There is much, much more and I cannot wait to show you what Gabriel and his world have to offer in the near future, both in book and film.

To those wondering about the LMS film, I'll just say this: we're close. It's all talk for now, as I can't say much due to deals being put in place, so take it with a grain of salt. But if these next few weeks pan out the way I see them, be prepared to welcome the new anti-hero.

Ending this, I'm not ordering or even advising anyone to leave Facebook. It's a wonderful site filled with some of the most generous, loving and caring people I've ever been lucky enough to call friends or fans (I hate that title, you guys are all homies to me).

I've met the love of my life and my pure inspiration on it (we're now a year and still going strong!), been introduced to, helped by, and inspired by some of the coolest guys and gals out there, artists or not--and you see, that's what the site should truly be about.

Enough with the cliques, enough with the downgrading, and for the love of Gabe, just inspire the younger or those around you looking up to what you're able to do for a living. Build, create, and speak your message through your own art or story-telling. We're all in this game together, not to go against each other. If the world and society hasn't already shown you that, then I don't know what will.

For updates, feel free to subscribe to this blog or follow me on Instagram (@danluvisiart), as I still do lurk on there. But until my big LMS announcement I have brewing, it's time to shut up and stand by the book of text I just wrote above.

Much love, thank you for reading, and I wish you all the best of luck with your current and future endeavors.

Best,
Dan



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Where it all began

I was twenty three when I first moved to Santa Monica, some 6 years ago. After years of burning to death in Orange County, California, roasting in my small apartment, I had decided to take a leap of faith and settle for a better scenery. 

The suggestion had been made by my business partner, Stephan, in hopes of both of us combining our talents to one day create a self-sufficient company that could produce new IPs and worlds for video games, films and graphic novels. 

It was a pipe dream, and a lot of acquaintances questioned why I was going to do such a thing, instead of applying for a studio job. Truth was, often I had asked myself the same question, constantly groaning as my gut churned over the thought of not having rent that following month. But that's what a leap of faith is, so I had battened down the hatches and stuck to that otherwise annoying gut, and Stephan and I put our minds together. 

It wasn't easy at first, shit it was incredibly daunting to be honest. Stephan was kind enough to allow me to crash at his place until I had made enough money to get my own. It took time, as various freelance jobs before it weren't truly cutting it. 


One day, Stephan came to me and offered me a job to work on FOX's Aliens in the Attic. Try not to lose your shit over such an opportunity, but it was a film, and I finally got to work on one. At first, I was incredibly nervous, young and naive. Asking Stephan (awkwardly) to accompany me in my first meeting over the job, I had no idea what to do or say. I watched as these veterans spoke about the budget of a film, what went into the costumes and what my job was: painting silly aliens.

It was tough, as I originally had imagined that I would be drawing badass designs! Alas, this was a kids movie and no such design was needed. At the end of the day, the paycheck was fantastic and it gave me my first real taste of what Hollywood was all about. I just had no idea how much more grueling it would become, the more I pulled myself away from the artist' perspective. 


Stephan was notorious for trying to persuade me to kick-away the dream of being a conceptual artist, and instead something more. He poisoned my mind once, asking "Imagine if instead of working for WETA, they would one day work for you?"

The idea was preposterous, as I had just gotten one film under my belt, and it was a pretty low-on-the-totem-poll job at that.  Once my debt quickly faded Stephan's dream away, I realized that if anything, I had to pay my dues before I could ever dream of getting to that level.

My dues were paid differently than some. I never did apply to a studio, and instead did freelance, another film gig, Your Highness, for Universal and was DC Comic's cover artist on Gail Simone's Secret Six. I also worked on a pitch for Microsoft's Xbox, that Guardian's of the Galaxy's director, James Gunn, was also a part of. Difference was, people knew who James Gunn was, but no one knew who I was. 


Stephan's words continuously danced in my head, but were often, again and again, wiped away by either debt, assholes, or more assholes. A lot of doubters came out of the wood work during those times, claiming that Stephan had no idea what he was doing, or that my decision to move out and do this for three years was a good idea.

Every day I put up with it, not to mention it was constantly reminded to myself by yet again, one of those assholes. After jobs began to crunch down, I soon felt the weight and had no idea where to go from there. Doubt and paranoia are a nasty combo, and when they combine they poison the mind and from there, it becomes a game of "Do you stick it out or do you bitch out?".

I wanted to prove myself all my life. Must have had a chip on my shoulder, thanks to my father, who was a hardass on my art. I wanted to be someone worth remembering. I wanted to create, and build, and deliver worlds one had never been.

Yet why was it so difficult? Why was the answer always no? Why did I not have enough money? Why was I not working out my relationship with my girlfriend? Why did I let such pompous asshole get in my head? I remember in 2008, towards October, it all began to come crushing down on me, and at the final hour I opened up Photoshop, and in an attempt to vent, designed a character that was inspired by what had been plaguing my mind: fear, anger, paranoia. 


An archetype that could kick down all those barriers, burn them, and then kick them down again just to prove a point. An image that symbolized gut and perseverance no matter the obstacle or pain that came with it.

I named him Gabriel, and that bounty hunter would one day save my life. 




Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Video-Tutorials by yours truly

Hey all beginner artists out there! Creating some affordable video-tutorials of ways that I paint. Feel free to check them out:

For Paypal Users: https://danluvisi.selz.com/

All other: https://gumroad.com/danluvisiart_1

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tigger - Part I and Part II


I don't have any insightful ideas for a post today, and my arm is a little busted from over-working it. So I have to take a break.

Instead, I offer art and a little bit of story-telling I do for fun. They are simply for practice, nothing more other than possibly a parody book down the line. These are for my series Popped Culture, and are a twist on Whinnie The Pooh and Pals. I hope you enjoy and thank you for reading.

PART I



Tigger took a long sniff of the open air, having been nearly fifteen years since the last time he was able to breath such. Outside of the Ashwood County Prison was a greying seven-foot tall bird, who was not only fatigued from his job, but tired of seeing old friends come and go through the iron-box.

The large bird's name was Owl, and he had run Ashwood's police unit since he could remember. However, Owl had retired ever since a young boy named Christopher Robin went missing. But as the years passed, a deep promise lingered with Owl, and the reason he stood at the gates of Ashwood County Prison was due to that very fact.

Tigger slowly bounces over to Owl, his tail weak and scarred from years of prison brawls. Owl smiles, giving a quick glance at the prison, and then back at the withered, striped giant. “It's been a long time, Tigger. Glad to see you stayed alive in there.”

Tigger doesn't flinch, his jet-black eyes stuck on Owl's oval saucers. He goes to release a feisty rebuttal, but holds it back in, only replying with one question: “Why'd you come here, Owl?”

Owl smiles, but it is not one summoned from happiness. “Oh Tigger,” he says, placing his feathers on the beast's shoulder.

“I came here to tell you that we have finally found Christopher.”

. . . 
Hours later, Tigger sits with Owl inside of his tree-carved manor. Tigger looks at the old photos, reminiscing of the younger years spent in Ashwood's vibrant forest. Owl interrupts, as he places a cup of coffee in front of Tigger. Tigger reaches for it, but then combines whiskey from a flask.

“Still on the juice?” Owl asks, as he watches Tigger close the cap, swooshing and mixing the two liquids together.

Tigger looks down at the bottle, a dark history behind it. He places it behind him, back into his pants pocket. 
Ignoring the question, he bargains another. “You said you found Christopher? Where is he, Owl?”

Owl sighs, lifting a folder and placing it down in front of Tigger. “I don't know if words would do it justice. Look for yourself, kid.” 

Tigger pauses, now not wanting to travel down the rabbit hole. He finally opens the folder, only to find what nightmares are made of inside, displayed through horrific photographs. He quickly closes the folder, pushing it away with his free hand. “It can't be. Goddammit Owl, who did this?” 

Owl sits, taking the folder away from him. “We found Christopher's body three years ago. He was twenty five, living alone just twenty miles outside of Ashwood. Kid was suffering from schizophrenia they said, lost contact with a lot of his close friends, eventually dropping down into narcotics. We believe he began selling the dope he was using. Ended up working with some bad people, who worked for even worse.”

Tigger is now pissed, the flask is back out. “Get on with it.” 

Owl smiles, knowing Tigger's inner rage. “The friends he was hanging with, worked for your old friend.” 

Tigger freezes. An image passes by his eyes. “But he died in the explosion...” 

Owl tosses a folder in front of him. On it, the label reads “THE BEAR”

“So you thought,” Owl says. “He reappeared several years after you got put away. We figured he faked his death at the Great Honey Pot Robbery. Word is Pooh and his Pals have made a return, and they're taking out anyone that steps into Ashwood's territory.”

Tigger opens THE BEAR folder, revealing photos of the one responsible for such nightmares. This is no yellow bear he once knew. This is the Devil. He looks back at Owl, closing the folder. 

“So what now?” Tigger says, closing the folder. He now drinks strictly from the flask.

“That's why I released you. I want you to find and locate Pooh and his Pals and take them out one by one.” Owl says, now his eyes as serious as Tigger's. “This job is off the grid, you hear me? You and I are the only intel on it, and it stays that way.”

Tigger sits for a moment, before standing up and making his way to the wooden leaf-shaped door. He pauses, looking back at Owl.

“After all of these years...” Tigger asks as he holds the door open. “Why me?” 

Owl smiles, sipping his coffee. “Because hunting is what Tiggers do best.”


PART II



Tigger's eyes opened, the room covered in a sheet of dark-blue. Focusing to the dark, Tigger looked at his clock, realizing it was only 3 AM. Tigger preferred the dark, as it reminded him of his previous housing in Ashdown's Prison.

Hey Tig,” said a soft voice. Tigger looked around, only to see a familiar silhouette, outlined by the fluorescent moon. Suddenly a flame erupted from a lighter, illuminating the figure's face: a once beautiful kangaroo.

Kanga smiled, as the flame left with the click of the cap. She put the lighter in her pouch, making her way to the broken tiger as she handled her dangling cigarette . “It's been a while, Tig. You look old. Tired.”

Tigger didn't move, his thoughts a cocktail of sadness and regret. “How'd you find me, K?”

Kanga continued to smoke, puffing it against the blue-lit window. “Owl told me you may need a friend to talk to. And we all know how much he loves to ramble, so I figured I'd come stop by and say hello.”

You didn't come to say hello, K. Stop playing with me.” Tigger said, his tail slowly shifting back and forth. Kanga noticed, knowing of his uneasy temper.

I came to ask what you plan to do? Are you...”

Going to kill him? Yes.” Tigger said, quickly cutting her off.

Kanga's smile faded. “You can't bring him back, Tigger. Christopher is gone.”

Tigger looked away from her, still keeping his focus on the sickly-green painted wall ahead. It was battered, beaten by days of working his infamous tiger-tail on it. Drawn on the wall, a stencil of the monster responsible for his current predicament; The Bear.

But there is someone you could bring back,” Kanga muttered, her voice cracking from being nervous. “Someone who still has time to grow and learn.”

Tigger raised his head to her, his battered face now more apparent. “What are you asking me?”

Kanga handed him an envelope, written on it: TIG. Holding his old head, Kanga kissed the top of it. “You won't see me for a while, so I'll leave the choice in your hands. I love you Tig,and I hope you can pull yourself together.”

Kanga bounced to the entrance of the motel. Before leaving, she turned once more, looking at an old love who had faded over the years. “Remind these son's of bitches while you're the only one.”

Kanga closed the door behind her—taking what history they had with her. Tigger looked down at the envelope, questioning if he should open it. The anticipation over-swept the best of him, and Tigger quickly tore the top off, revealing a single letter. Tigger opened the note, reading the tear-drop stained goodbye-letter.

After finishing it, Tigger dropped the letter on his table and begans to make his way over to his desk, on it, a folder given to him from Owl. Tigger tore through the folder until suddenly, his eyes caught a faint object out of his peripheral. Something else fell from the envelope. He made his way back over, picking up the item: a folded photograph. On the photo was Tigger, bouncing with ex-wife Kanga, and their child, the young joey named Roo.

Tigger knew at that very moment what kept him alive all those years in prison. Tigger sighed, placing the photo down on the table before making his way over to a manilla dossier given to him by Owl.

He opened the folder, revealing a plethora of information and photos of targets he once called friends: Pooh and his Pals. This information would be the key Tigger needed to help push him towards his only goal. The one he had since he entered the prison five years ago. For it was there that Tigger realized Christopher Robin was gone, and there was no way he could bring him back.

But Tigger would fight through Hell before he allowed Pooh to take his son Roo as well.

---

thank you! 



Tuesday, June 3, 2014

THE STREETS - CHAPTER II

POPPED CULTURE: THE STREETS: CHAPTER II 


15 YEARS AGO...

Ernest pushed his tiny feet off the golden sand, letting the swing lift him into the air. Bert watched as Ernest steadily picked up pace, waving back and forth on the swing-set. He smiled, once remembering the innocence of being a child and the lack of responsibilities.

But ever since their parents had passed, Bert and Ernest had been forced to grow up far too quickly. Once having a home in The Suburbs, both brothers were soon after sent to an orphan home due to neither parents having siblings.

Ernest and Bert grew weary of the move, hearing only bad things of The Streets, their new residence. Bert, however, would take it upon himself of assuring Ernest an honest way of living, teaching by example on how you can still be an upstanding citizen, regardless of where one lived.

Bert smiled, waving to Ernest. “Hey buddy. Having fun?”

Ernest's eyes darted around, the smile permanently glued to his face. He looked back up, his answer now at the ready: “Yes, Bert.”

Bert pushed his books aside, a pile nearly as tall as him. All books which would one day lead Bert to becoming a Pigeon Photographer in New York City, just outside The Streets. When not studying, Bert had been working two jobs, while Ernest had been going through elementary school.

Bert made his way behind Ernest, lifting him off the seat and placing him on the ground. Ernest shook his head as sand danced off. “Thanks, Bert.”

Bert and Ernest made their way to the sandbox, sitting down inside. Ernest scooped up handfuls of sand, letting the grains fall through his hands. “Bert,” Ernest said, looking up at his older brother, who drifted off.
“Yes, Ernest?”

Where are Mom and Dad, Bert?” asked Ernest.

Bert's eyes widened, shocked by the question—as Ernest had never shown interest in the disappearance, being too young. “Well,” struggled Bert. “You see that slide over there?” Bert said, pointing to the fluorescent orange slide above them. Ernest looked with wide-eyes, pining to go on it, but refraining to hear his answer. “Yeah, Bert?”

A slide is much like life. You start at the top, and you make your way down to your destination. But there are many different slides out there, some fun, some wild, and some even scary.” Bert explained, as Ernest's eyes widened. “However, all slide lead to one destination: the bottom, and that's when the ride has to come to an end.”

Mom and Dad's slide was just too short.” Bert sighed.

Ernest nodded, the smile still present. Bert stands, resting his hand on Ernest's shoulder. “”I'll be right back, kid. Gotta pee.” Bert made his way to the bathroom, as Ernest kicked his feet on the edge of the sandbox.
Bert made his way to the bathroom, but couldn't help but notice as a black muscle-car pulled up to the playground. His eyes locked with the driver, who stared back aggressively.

Meanwhile, Ernest kicked his feet over the sandbox, twiddling his tiny fingers as he hummed a song he knew Bert enjoyed. As he bobbed his head, his large glasses bounced up and down on his large red nose.

Hey, four-eyes, you want any drugs?” grunted a rather aggressive voice. “Talking to you, shrimp.”

Ernest slowly turned his head around to notice a six-foot hot-pink biker, clad in leather and jean. His eyes were red, stoned on meth. He had thin pink strands of braided hair, which hung over his eyes and face. In his hand was a plethora of pills, cigarettes, and dime bags. “Are you deaf, you little shit?”

Ernest's still smiled, standing up, at a mere 3-foot. He put out his tiny hand to shake. “What's your name, sir? My name's Ern--”

The biker grabbed Ernest's hand, and yanked over his backpack, pulling it open and taking three crumbled dollars—given by Bert for lunch. '

Ernest yelled, falling to the floor, smashing his glasses and head-gear. After tearing the backpack open, the biker threw it back at him. “Only three bucks? What can I buy with that?”

You can buy me lunch.”

The pink biker stopped, shocked by the voice from behind him. He turned, only to find Ernest's brother, Bert, standing before him. “And who may you be?” asked the biker, grinning from ear to ear at his opponents' small-size.

I'm that shrimp's older and bigger brother,” Bert grunted, as he rushed the biker, slamming his foot into his ankle, snapping it in two. The pink giant dropped to his knees, groaning as he held it with his furry hands. “What the fuck!”

Ernest crawled to grab his bag and glasses, the blood dripping from his nose. As he swung around, he watched his older brother, the only family he had left, walk over to the pink bully. Ernest's tears welled in his eyes, but he couldn't help but smile once more.

Bert made his way to the bully, lifting him back up. He held him, inches from his face. “We may be new here, but I want you to remember one thing...” Bert said, staring the biker in the eye as he struggled to get away.

...No one fucks with my brother.”

Bert reeled his right arm back, before launching it forward, knocking the biker out with a single blow.
The body flew through the air, dropping the narcotics and stolen money. Ernest watched as the body slammed into the grass, buckling into himself.


 Bert grabbed Ernest's hand, taking him away from the downed bully. Even though both were silent, Ernest knew from that day on that his brother would always be there to protect him. And that was a smile that no one could erase.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Streets, Chapter 1:

Here is the first official push for our Kickstarter for Popped Culture, coming this summer. Enjoy.




POPPED CULTURE: The Streets: Chapter 1


Chapter I: A Long Way From Home 

The blast was louder than Ernest had expected, however the blow-back affected him even more. The heavy gun weighted down his tiny orange hands, but he firmly gripped the cannon, amidst the nervous twitch.

Ernest stood before his first victim, a day he'd never imagined to had happen. He was always unsure what he wanted to be in life, but a killer was never an option.

“What the hell, Ernest?!” yelled Bert, as he grabbed the pistol from his still shell-shocked brother.

“He was going to kill you, Bert...” Ernest said, his wet eyes still glued onto the victim. “I was trying to protect you, Bert.”

Bert shook his head, placing his pistol back into the holster. Bert made his way to the couch, removing the trash from it and proceeding to tear off the crumb-ridden sheets. “You made this mess, so now you're going to clean it up.”

I don't think any bath can clean this mess, Bert.” Ernest muttered under his breath, an old brotherly joke, now sadly forgotten and replaced with despair.

Well figure it the hell out.” Bert said, throwing the sheets at his brother. Ernest grabbed the sheets and made his way over to the fallen body. He looked down at his victim, staring into the eyes of yet another killer, one far more veteran than himself. His mind began to skip, until Bert slapped him in the head, knocking sense back into his tiny body.

Ernest! Get it together. Clean this up while I figure out what to do now.”

Ernest leaned down, trying to lift the heavy body and place him in the sheets. The blood leaked from the wound, which was located between the victim's right eye and cheek. Ernest watched as it continued to pump a thick, dark red stream over the neon-lit carpet. “What are we going to do, Bert?” Ernest asked, nervously pushing his greased-black hair aside.

We gotta figure out an alibi for The Bird. He's gonna wonder why this guy disappeared and when he finds out that we did it? You and I are goneFor good.” Bert exhaled.

I was only trying to help, the frantic Ernest yelled in his mind. All those years he had grown next to Bert, wanting to follow in his footsteps—wanting to impress his older brother—only for this to happen? But that was the very problem, Ernest had difficulties even finding the footsteps to begin with. He was never a leader, only a follower, needing a hand to guide him through challenges most would figure out on their own through simply...

...Growing up. Ernest thought, something he had heard once too many times before.

Bert tried to conjure a plan in the meantime, but his past kept coming back to haunt him. Over the years, friends and family told Bert behind his brother's back to move on. Leave the kid, and focus on your life. You have goals, he doesn't, they would say. Become something and lead by example they would remind him. Bert never left Ernest's side though, continuously putting his life on hold to help Ernest further his own.
Because that was the promise Bert made to Ernest before he left. He gave his word that he would never leave his side, and that he would always be his protector. But now, once again, Bert was forced to figure out a way to solve yet another one of his brother's foils.

Bert grabbed Ernest's shoulder, knowing and understanding what he must be going through. “It's a lot to take in. I've been there, many times, in your exact spot. The gun feels heavy, but you almost enjoy it.” Bert sayid, as Ernest looks up at him. “You then one day require it.” he finishes.

Are...are we in trouble Bert?” he asked in his tiny, innocent voice—his hands still shaking.

The body below them began to twitch, a second breath of life entering his lungs. Bert and Ernest watched as he struggled to rise, the gurgles slowly weeping from his mouth as his large eyes darted around the room. Bert retrieved his .45 Caliber back from his holster, and aimed it at the victim's forehead.

Bert sighed. “Yes, we're in trouble, Ernest," pulling the trigger and landing a .45 caliber round into the head of The Cook, one of The Street's most notorious Cookie Dealers. A decision that would soon assure them both a home six feet under.

Big trouble.

Monday, May 19, 2014

PRINTS!

A lot of people have been asking about Prints.

I have some up here PRINTS.

Enjoy, will be putting more up soon!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Wow.

Over 100k hits in one day on my blog from Popped Culture being featured on Huffington Post. Kind of nuts.

Thank you so much for all of the good words, people of the web. Seriously, from the bottom of my heart.

Now, I know, the characters I am painting are gross, scary and dark. But I am not a crazy person. I have two lovely cats (okay, may be semi-crazy), and I like to think I'm an okay guy.

But the reason I am drawing these are for an upcoming book of mine and my friend Alex Konstad, called Popped Culture. It will be childhood characters, re-imagined through the twisted culture of Hollywood and its corruptive ways.

We will be running a Kickstarter this summer, so keep your eyes out.

Follow me on Facebook for Updates

Follow me on Twitter for Updates

or if you guys want PRINTS!


best,
Dan 

PS: Here's a new tease: 


Thursday, May 15, 2014

No Country For Old Muppets

After the success of their first parody, Drive, the Muppet gang decided to dive into another. 

Tired of performing the same routine comedy roles, Fozzy Bear wanted to try something new. He suggested portraying the role that was brilliantly captured by Javier Bardem, as infamous hitman Anton Chigurh in the Coen Brother's crime-drama, No County For Old Men. 

Gonzo was not pleased that he would have to die, again.


BUY PRINT HERE: MUPPET PRINTS



Street Fighter Ralph

After Ralph saved Sugar Rush, his new role as a 'Good Guy' was headed in the right direction. Putting the Wreck-It lifestyle behind him reminded Ralph how much better it felt not to use his massive-hands to solve problems for once.

But not everyone was happy, especially Ralph's self-bettering group member, M.Bison from the Street Fighter fame. Bison was furious with Ralph, considering him a traitor for how he forgot the gang of videogame villans he once called 'friends'. 

In return, Bison sent out his two henchmen, Vega and Balrog, to enter Ralph's world and kidnap his friends, Fix-it Felix and Vanellope. 

After Felix and Vanellope were kidnapped and brought into Bison's realm, Ralph knew what he had to do. Ralph was forced to turn back into what he was always known for: a Wrecker. 

Ralph then entered the realm of Street Fighter, as Bison had hoped, and for what felt like years, fought his way through any of the fighters that Bison sent his way. From the Alphas, to the Turbos, and even the Marvel Vs.Capcom collection. Over the years, Ralph fought and defeated any of the challenges that opposed him. He also lost great friends, such as his mentor and leader, Ryu. 

But as many obstacles Ralph went through, he would not stop until he found and defeated M.Bison.



Grand Theft OTTO PT.3

If they were to pull off Krusty's heist, they were going to need a distraction, and Bart was best at that. Homer thought it was a stupid idea, but the money was too good to say no. 

The next day, Bart and Otto arrived at Homer's house and readied up. They were to meet Lenny and Carl at the Springfield Bank where they robbery was supposed to take place. 

Bart walked into the bank, and immediately began his stint, taking the security guards by surprise. And then Homer took over, bashing both in the head with his rifle and walking in, commanding every one to get down. 

As the duffel bags were filled with cash, Lenny and Carl went to the larger dafe in the back. Homer watched guard, as Lenny and Carl finished their gig. After they destroyed the civilian's cell phones and took out the phone lines, the group left. 

Homer rushed to Lenny's car, pushing Bart in. As he went to hand the duffel bag to Lenny, he was stopped with a cold Duff beer, courtesy of Lenny 

"Hey Homer, you're gonna need this." 

Boom. A gunshot went off, straight into Homer's leg. Homer dropped to his knees, as Lenny pushed him over. In the back of car, Bart struggled as Carl tried to contain him. 

"We don't need the money, we got what we came for." The car drove off, speeding away as Homer regained his strength. 

Chief Wiggum's police sirens grew louder as Homer got up, awaiting his final demise. He leaned up against a parked police car, taking out a loaded .45 pistol and cracked open his beer. As he took a sip, the rest of the boys in blue surrounded him, guns armed. 
Homer smiled and said one final word.

"Doh."

"Doh." "