Original Cartoons, Art School projects, Cigar Box Guitars plus other entertaining Odds & Ends. All content & imagery copyright 2010-2017

Saturday, November 30, 2013

On Hiatus Until January

BuckToonz will remain on haitus a bit longer in order for me to deal with some unforeseen personal matters. Not to worry, all is well in BuckLand. I appreciate your patience and BuckToonz will return in full force in the new year.

I want to thank everyone in the BuckToonz audience for another great year. Here's wishing one & all a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a lovely Wnter Sostice, and an excellent New Year!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Wood Is Good

A few years ago I had to cut down a tree in my side yard that was close to the street. I left a 2ft. stump remaining so that I could make an attempt at carving with a chainsaw, which is something I've always wanted to try. If my effort turned out badly, I could easily cut the stump off and remove all the evidence. After roughing out the basic shape with the chainsaw, I went to work with a hammer and chisel. I was just winging it with an Easter Island image in mind, but the end result was more "Tiki" in appearance. I thought it looked a little too primative and untrefined. But my wife at the time and some friends insisted that it was worth keeping. A good friend named it "Nebookaneezer" as it resembles a prophetic cartoon idol in a newspaper comic strip called "Crock". We soon shortened the name to just "Neb".

As time went on, my humble sculpture became quite popular with residents in the neighborhood. Cars would slow down for a look and sometimes people would hop out and take photos. Young families strolled by daily and made it a point to stop and let their children visit with Neb. Little kids would place pebbles in Neb's mouth in an effort to "feed" him. Over time Neb received other gifts such as hats, sunglasses, and Mardi Gras beads from his many admirers. These anonymous donations would often arrive around holiday times.

Neb as Neo from "The Matrix".

Neb received more gifts around St. Patrick's Day than any other time of the year.
He has three different hats for the occasion.


 Left: Late day shadows make this Easter photo one of my favorites. Middle: A rare snowfall for my region of Texas.  Bottom: Christmas time and Happy Neb Year's Eve.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Suggestion

In a world brimming with mundane products plastered with warning labels, somehow the alcohol industry gets to skate by with a mere, "Enjoy Responsibly". I just don't get it.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

DVD for Death Metal Band

In today's post we will go back about ten years to a project from my days as a graphic art student at our underrated local community college. This DVD cover and disc art was one of my earliest attempts at working with Photoshop. The assignment required us to make a DVD cover for any type of movie we desired as long as it was an original idea. I decided to make mine a cover for a fictitious death metal band with the most inappropriate name I could think of, "Fetal Position".  On the front cover I used a promotional photo of an actual metal band that would not be easily recognizable here in the States. (Mega bonus points if anyone can name the real band. I'll give you a hint; their name begins with an "S".) I made the original band photo look creepy by posterizing the image, and then changing the original colors to a gray scale. It was also fun to make the eyes glow with evil. 

What I really need to do at some point is re-consider the band logo as it is truly a fail. But it was the best I could do back then with my lack of knowledge, and the amount of time I had. The front cover was intentionally understated with the back cover photo being warm and active. My favorite part of this project was creating the song titles which are rather Spinal Tap-ish; and the warping guitar on the disc itself. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dots and Lines

This week we're looking at two class projects.

This first one is an illustration involving the use of "stippling" i.e. lots and lots of tiny dots when properly put together create an image. My instructor told that me when she was in art school she had a teacher who was very strict about stippling technique. She warned me that if I chose to go the stippling route for my illustration that she was going to be very picky.....and she was. I remember attempting this illustration at least five times, making improvements and understand the concept better as I went along. I ended up using 5 different pen tip sizes to create the effect. What started out as a tedious and somewhat stressful task, by the final version had become meditative and relaxing.

What we have next is a project where we took an ordinary house hold object, in this case my pocket knife, and were required to render it in four different ways: Realistic, High Contrast, Silhouette, and my personal favorite, Gestural. These are all pretty self-explanatory with the exception of the Gestural. The Gestural is done very quickly (under 15 seconds) with the idea being to capture the essentials of a given object using the least amount of lines. The Silhouette was made with cut paper.

                                                             My favorite pocket knife.


High Contrast

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Flawed Thinking

To paraphrase a popular series of TV commercials, "I don't often create political cartoons; but when I do I make sure they are of the timeless variety".

This toon originally saw the light of day back in the Spring of 1993 immediately following the Branch Davidian Cult/ATF debacle in Waco, Texas. It has been tweaked a little, but remains in it's original glorious black & white.
BuckToonz has moved it's posting day from Mondays to Thursdays, so please adjust your lives accordingly.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Caricatures Part 2

Mr. Spock is one of my favorite caricatures and my best seller by a wide margin.
Pope John Paul II

When Sting was fronting The Police back in the day, he had a very distingtive look.
The BuckToonz online store will be up and running by year's end. These caricatures and others will be made available for purchase. More details soon.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Caricatures Part 1

Many moons ago, back in the misty sands of time (the late 1980's), there was a young man with ambitions of becoming a cartoonist. He knew that people liked caricatures and saw them as a way to make some money, and perhaps get some attention locally. He began in earnest to teach himself the art of caricature, but with a desire to do something different. All of the caricatures he had seen so far  looked as if they had been drawn by the same artist; or that many artists had read the same "How To" book. Over time he studied the faces of famous people, and distilled their features down to a minimum. Without knowing it he was abstracting. Soon, a style began to emerge.

More time passed, and some of his work was sold in local art fairs, at comic book conventions, and once even in a (very) small gallery. At a comic book convention a passerby remarked to the artist that his work reminded him some what of Al Hirschfeld's. Not knowing who that was, the artist did some research He was thrilled at what he discovered but a little dismayed that all the hard work of establishing a personal style had resulted in something in a similar vein to the greatest caricaturist of all time. There were some concerns about being labeled a copy cat, but he decided to stay with his own style for it had evolved naturally and independently.

Then the artist was asked to work a few parties where people would sit for a custom caricature. However, the artist quickly realized that these parties were not a comfortable situation, and it cramped his creative style. His preferred working method involved studying multiple photos of the subject and "living with it" for a period of time. An intuitive process resulted in the artist feeling that he knew something about the person and was able to incorporate that into the illustration. Such things as posture, left or right handed-ness, gestures, attitude, and little quirks not visually apparent in the photos. His commission clients were impressed. There were a few commissions that even involved making caricatures of a client's dog or cat!

Gene Kelly- was the first caricature I ever attempted. I was inspired after having just watched "An American in Paris" on TV. I'm a big fan. Here was a guy who made dancing look cool.

Buster Keaton- the world's greatest stunt man, who often times wore the most woeful expression. It seemed the weight of the world was always on his shoulders.
Abbot and Costello- hands were required here as Lou Costello often spoke with his hands.

Next post:

Caricatures Part 2 - Mr. Spock, Pope John Paul, and Sting! 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Intense Critters

This week we will look at a Color Theory class project from my first semester as an art major. The students were asked to choose from a number of color theory concepts, and then find an interesting way to demonstrate them. I went with "Intensity", which in this class was defined as "the shifting of one color to another, showing gradations in between". I think intensity is a poor term to describe the incremental changes that occur between one color and another, but I decided to play along anyway. I chose to use purple and yellow which are on complete opposite sides of the color wheel from each other. This would allow for the opportunity to show a substantial shift of color. I worked with acrylic paints because of familiarity, and ease of use.
This was a wide-open assignment with only a few parameters. So I took this opportunity to begin exploring that mysterious Third Dimension that I had heard so much about. In order to reinforce the idea of a visual color change, I wanted to also show a physical evolution of some kind. After a few sketches and prototypes I had a population of whimsical little "critters", that showed nine different points in the "evolution" from purple to yellow. The critters were molded out of a clay polymer that is then fixed, and hardened by baking in an oven. Then I mixed and made quite a few paint swatches where I worked out the color progression. Not an easy thing. Most of the transitional colors are muddy and unappealing but they are necessary to illustrate the concept. It took several coats of paint to get decent coverge on the critters.
The wooden base was originally going to look like a painter's palette, but I was cautioned against that as it was "too obvious".  So, I chose instead to make it an ambiguous organic shape, painted in a medium blue-gray.
I post certain things from this blog onto Pintrest, and I'm pleased that this particular project has been "re-pinned" a few times onto other people's art boards. I do indeed appreciate that kind of validation from complete strangers.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Technology is a great thing. But with all things great...there is a downside. Sometimes we see it coming, and other times we don't.

In this cartoon, the normally happy and calm Wise One loses his Zen-like serenity. I suppose I would too if a rabid robotic rat was coming my way. Yikes! The Wise One and his (flesh and blood) rodent companion have made many appearances over the years. See how things normally go for His Baldness here, here, and here.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Get Bent

The circus is in town for a couple of weeks; and I was reminiscing about the many cats I have known over the years. And thus-- a cartoon is born.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Tell It Like It Is

I humbly offer this very plausible explanation for male pattern baldness. 
See more about Crop Circles here.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Out of the Park

When I was a kid no one ever described baseball as being boring. Yet this is a complaint I hear often these days, especially from younger people. Americans have been trained by technology to have shorter attention spans, instant gratification, and constant movement. No one has patience for anything any more. Baseball is not a game of constant, shifting movement. Baseball is a game of strategy and subtleties. Those who have played the game on any level will understand this. Baseball has been the preferred game of artists, musicians and writers from the very beginning. There are books with essays, quotations, and observations about the game from great minds like Mark Twain and others. There is a history, a romance, and a humor about this game that other sports just don't have; and that has inspired many films over the years. I can name 15 great baseball movies just off the top of my head. Can anyone name an equivalent number of good American films specifically about football, basketball, soccer, or hockey?    

Baseball has not changed much since it's inception which is part of it's charm. But, that may also be a part of it's problem, and a contributing factor to the current slump in popularity. Smart and aggressive marketing by other major sports has outpaced baseball and I believe that someday it will be replaced by football as our national sport. That will be a sad turn of events in my opinion.

I have two suggestions that might help to "improve" the game a little in an effort to attract more of today's viewers. No radical changes involved here but it might be worth trying the following things 1) Allow for the use of aluminum bats. There would then be a big increase in base hits and home runs, thus adding excitment. 2) Add a "Pitch Clock" , similar to basketball's 30-second Shot Clock.  This would force the pitchers to throw the ball sooner, and more often. If the Pitch Clock runs out and the ball has not been released yet, then the batter gets awarded a "ball" in the pitch count. The batter would earn a "Walk" if the pitcher could not keep pace with the clock. 

Using "God" in the caption was about referencing the longevity, endurance, and until recently the universal appeal of the game. In some ways baseball seems eternal. It is an American original that has been with us almost as long the country itself. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Uphill Battle

The Wise One has made a number of appearances over the years. Review his wisdom here, there, here again and finally here. There are a few more visits with his baldness, but I don't remember where they are. Feel free to poke around and find him again.

Monday, June 17, 2013

CBG #2 aka: "Big Volume"

There is concept called “Unnecessary Creation” where the idea is to make something on your own time, on your own terms, and with no other standard or expectation--except for your own. No rules, no deadlines, no critiques, and no real purpose except to enjoy the process. For me, this is….bliss. I can just feel the endorphins swirling around my brain as I work. What a pleasant break from the demands of my degree program. 
My most recent unnecessary creation is Cigar Box Guitar #2 (CBG-2)  which began with an eBay purchase of a pre-made Red Oak neck with Walnut laminates. I like the pointy headstock, because it looks slightly menacing. I sanded, stained, and glued a Poplar fretboard into place, and applied three coats of Tung Oil for the finish. Tung oil is awesome stuff and a recent discovery for me. It is now my preferred choice of wood finish. The box that serves as the guitar's body started out it's life as a “Diversion Book”. These are realistic looking books with hollow interiors designed for hiding valuables in plain sight. Diversion books have a long and interesting history and were the forerunners of today's book safes. I found my diversion book while poking around a re-sale shop last December after just completing CBG-1 for a school project. As most of my regular readers know my first CBG was a guitar that also qualified as an "Art Book". Or was it an Art Book that qualified as a guitar? Anyway, CBG-2 is a guitar that looks like a large and rather impressive book. There is no intentional pursuit of a book theme here, it just kind of happened that way. What I found at the re-sale shop was a good sized, well made, wooden box…that just happened to look like a book. How could I pass this up, right? Like my first guitar, CGB-2 also has an internal pick-up for amplification purposes. So it only seemed logical to name my book-that-looks-like-a-guitar, “Big Volume”.


Here are some photos of the build. No hidden panels or internal gadgetry as in CBG-1 but I did come up with an idea that I haven't seen anywhere else yet, after looking at hundreds of CBG images. My humble innovation was to continue the fret line around and over the top edge of the neck that faces the player. This is intended to allow the guitarist to see better when the instrument is laid across the lap and played with a slide. Small brass nails and screws were used to as fret markers in all the usual places. Brass studs were added to the book's cover to make it look a little more "top shelf", but also a little more rock & roll.
Although these are called cigar box guitars, so far I have yet to use an actual cigar box. I suppose I’ll get around to that eventually, but every project currently on the drawing board involves using some other box-like object for a resonating chamber. For example, CBG #3 will feature a vintage cedar humidor for the guitar's body. The humidor's interior is lined with copper sheeting that is loose in some places. With that particular combination of wood and metal, there could potentially be all kinds of interesting sounds produced when it gets played. I can hardly wait! I won't know how it will sound until I build it, and that's the fun part. I don’t have a clever name for this guitar yet, (Up In Smoke? Puff the Magic Dragon?) but that will come in time. I’m open to any suggestions.

­­In my life I've had many interests, a number of passions, but no real hobbies….until now. This kind of thing is just too much fun, and will hopefully keep me off the streets.


Monday, June 10, 2013

The Postman Always Blings Twice

This week we are featuring yet another sculpture-- however this one is not a school related project.

"The Mail-Man" was created a few years ago when I was doing a lot of work with decoupage. I've always rather liked postage stamps and consider them to be these tiny, cool, works of art. I chose to work with cancelled stamps because; I had a lot of them, and I thought it was an original idea at the time.  I never counted the number of stamps that were used in creating The Mail-Man but it must be between 250 to 300. All the stamps are different with no duplicates at all. Each stamp was hand selected and applied. This has been the standard for all of my decoupage work no matter how large a piece might be. Every piece must also have a theme. Anyone can do random stuff, but my pieces require, time, effort, and planning. The theme for The Mail-Man is: all things masculine.

I started out by decoupaging wooden boxes but it quickly grew from there. Soon I was decoupaging life-like human and animal skulls, styrofoam wig heads, and various mannequin parts that I bought used or damaged from a supplier. I was always on the look out for unusual objects. Friends would try to challenge me by bringing strange stuff for me to "put my stamp(s) on" them. I quickly learned that the more curves an object has, the more difficult it is to work with.

My first use of a large scale mannequin part was a female torso where I used stamps with a feminine aspect to them. She was titled "Go Figure", and sold at a gallery opening for $400 within the first fifteen minutes after the show began! 

The Mail-Man is currently for sale on eBay  where you can read all the specifics about him and see additional photos. Perhaps you'll feel inclined to place a bid. The Mail-Man has been a colorful and interesting guest in my house for a number of years, but I think its time for him to go grace and brighten the home of some other worthy individual.

I am an artist and a capitalist. There will be more crass attempts at commercialism as time goes on especially after the BuckToonz store is open for business. You have been fairly warned.

Monday, June 3, 2013

What Is It Then?

Its good to be back after having a few weeks off. I'm tanned, rested, and ready to bring you more of your beloved BuckToonz.  As an experiment for the summer, we're moving our weekly post day to Mondays. I think being able to view a freshly minted cartoon each Monday will be a nice way to start off the work week. If Mondays don't work for you, then just let me know. But it probably won't change anything.

My art courses are continuing to influence the concept and subject matter of my cartoons, and today's post is a good example. This post was inspired by something derived from one of my art history classes.

I once came across a definition that classified cartoons as, "Neo-Surrealist Art". That sounds kind of cool doesn't it? I may start using that term and begin introducing myself as a "Neo-Surrealist".  It sounds quite a bit grander than just "cartoonist", don't you think?

Moving on....

Today's neo-surrealist illustration is my homage (and perhaps my apology) to René Magritte, one of the greatest Surrealist painters of all time. An early painting by Magritte was titled "The Treachery of Images" and it features a (smoking) pipe. Just a pipe by itself in the middle of a canvas. The caption below it read, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe", which is French for "This is not a pipe." Right, it was not a pipe; but it was a painting of a pipe. Good old René was challenging our perceptions about art...or merely screwing around with us. Maybe both. You decide.

Want more? For yet another power tool punchline go here.

Email: buckdawson62@gmail.com Please put "BuckToonz" in the subject line.