Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Kylo Ren Illlustration Colored

Here's an illustration I digitally inked and colored in Photoshop. Click HERE to see my original post about the inks. I'm excited for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and I hope Kylo Ren's character will be a force to be reckoned with. Since I've yet to see the film, I have no clear idea about his relationship with Darth Vader and I hope this piece makes sense. It's been revealed that Kylo is obsessed with Vader and I felt an illustration with the both of them along with a hint of Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious and Anakin/Luke's lightsaber would be a nice homage to the old and new movies. I also liked the First Order and Sith symbols being in a frame around the image, I hope this still works once the story is revealed in The Force Awakens.

To purchase apparel with this illustration, please click HERE for my NeatoShop storefront or click HERE for my TeePublic storefront.

To watch me color this, click HERE to view on my YouTube channel.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Here's a Godzilla illustration I did to get that itch scratched. I love Gojira and have wanted to do a colored illustration of him that would do the King of Monsters justice. This was traditionally inked with brush, pen and ink on 11"x17" Bristol board and digitally colored in Adobe Photoshop.
To purchase apparel/print/phone case, please click HERE to visit my NeatoShop Storefront or click HERE to visit my TeePublic Storefront.
To watch a video of this illustration being colored, please click HERE to watch on YouTube.

 Digitally Colored in Photoshop

 Traditionally Inked with Brush and Pen

Apparel/Print/Phone Case Design

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Being Featured in Navajo Times

My homeland newspaper, Navajo Times, featured me in the November 5th edition. This was a my first big interview in general.
Here's a photo of the Ghetto Klown graphic novel being sold initially at the 2015 New York Comic Con, along with screen captures of the Navajo Times web articles and scans of the print edition.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Terminator Poster Work in Progress

I wanted to enter into a Terminator Fan Design Contest and do a digital painting inspired by pulp magazine covers and 80's movie poster art. This is my first ambitious digital painting, I usually color line art in Adobe Photoshop as opposed to doing painting techniques. I had to turn in a work in progress to meet the contest deadline, but I still wanted to complete the piece, which I'll update until I finish the whole poster.

 I start by laying down the tonal range using grayscale,
I tend to keep everything very dark and work up the lights.

 I use a layer set to color layer mode and to add hue to the grayscale.

I start to render the details for different areas of the painting.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Ghetto Klown Graphic Novel by John Leguizamo

Cover portrait illustration copyright © 2015 Billi Kid 
Cover background illustration copyright © 2015 Christa Cassano
Cover design by Pamela Notarantonio

Editor: David Cashion
Designer: Pamela Notarantonio
Managing Editor: Jen Graham
Production Manager: Kathy Lovisolo

Text copyright © 2015 John Leguizamo

Illustrations copyright © 2015
Christa Cassano (pages 1-62) and Shamus Beyale (pages 63-181)

I felt like I hadn’t seen people tell our life stories, of somebody coming from an underprivileged background and trying to make it and trying to deal with our issues, and I just found that that was the interesting part of it. What is it like to be urban and disenfranchised and still have a point of view and still have a sense of humor and still try to make it in America? What’s that life like?

I read a statistic a couple years back that said that 45 percent of Latin kids drop out of high school. It wasn’t a shock to hear what a tragedy that is, but I knew what they felt like. You just feel so disconnected and so invisible, and I was hoping Ghetto Klown would make them feel like, “If I could make it, then you could make it – then anyone could make it.”

- John Leguizamo

New York Comic Con 2015

Yá'át'ééh shik’èí dóó shidine’è.
(Hello, my family, my people, my friends.)

Shí éí Shamus yinishyé.
(I am called Shamus.)

Áshįįhí nishłį́
dóó Táchii’nii báshíshchiin.
(I am of the Salt People born for
the Red-Running-Into-Water Clan.)

Naakai dine’é dashíchei
dóó Ta’neeszahnii dashínáłí.
(My maternal grandfathers are of the Mexican Clan
and my paternal grandfathers are of the Tangle People.)

Ákót’éego diné nishłį́.
(In this way, I'm a Navajo male.)

(Thank you. I am grateful.)


Hi everybody! I have some awesome news to share. I was hired to co-illustrate (great artist Christa Cassano starts off the book) a graphic novel (also called comics) written by John Leguizamo (some of my favorite films of his are Super Mario Bros., Carlito's Way, To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, Romeo and Juliet, The Pest, Spawn, Land of the Dead, Chef, Kick-Ass 2 and his small but magnetic role in John Wick, plus all his one-man shows) called Ghetto Klown based off his hit Broadway show of the same name and it will be published by Abrams ComicArts, an imprint of Abrams Books, on October, 20th. This is the biggest opportunity I've had as an artist and I'm proud to have handled the weight of this project with the ease everyone thinks I pulled it off with. Believe me, there were times I thought I could not finish this book, to illustrate 118 pages as soon as possible (it took me about six and a half months), but I did it with hard work and little sleep, but nevertheless with boundless enthusiasm! I'm finally a published cartoonist (well, finally one with a book in most bookstores) and am proud to stand alongside all the great cartoonists of yore. Comic books motivated me to leave a small city in the southwestern USA called Farmington, New Mexico and become a successful comic book artist in New York City, the center of the modern world and the birthplace of comic books. I did it ya'll!

Seth Kushner (1973-2015)
Photo by Dean Haspiel

This book is dedicated to Seth Kushner, my friend, collaborator and master photographer who passed away in May due to cancer. This graphic novel would not exist if I did not know him, let me tell you why.
I started drawing Ghetto Klown in February and I talked to Seth about it, he strongly encouraged me to accept it and defiantly told me I was the right person for the job. He told me I've been ready to handle the sheer amount of work that this project was going to be since he first met me and saw my talent back in late 2011, where he saw a poster of my artwork promoting my successful Kickstarter project MAN COP, created by musical mythmaker Chris Bramante (watch us talk about MAN COP by clicking HERE). Seth asked Glen Loew, the proprietor of the liquor store where I had asked to hang the poster, who I was and Seth asked Glen to ask me to reach out. I visited the liquor store often (I was still drinking alcohol then, I quit drinking four months ago, after Seth's death) and befriended Glen the store owner (a comics fan himself) enough to allow me to post up a small poster about a comic book nobody knows about and hope it'd reach out to somebody, and boy did it.

I’ve met each artist on this series [SCHMUCK] in a different and unique way.  My meeting Shamus Beyale was complete happenstance. One afternoon last winter I went to my local wine shop, Lowe’s Liquors, and upon entering I notice a flyer taped to the window for something called “Man Cop.”  It caught my attention so I asked the shop owner Glen (a comics fan) what is was about.  He told me it was an ad for a comic by this kid who frequents the shop.
A few days later I received an email from Shamus saying he’d heard from Glen I was interested in his work and thought he’d say hello.  We engaged in a back and fourth and I asked him if he’d draw a SCHMUCK story for me and he happily said yes. The next day, I offhandedly mentioned my new collaborator to my then studio-mate cartoonist Nick Bertozzi, who promptly informed me Shamus was recently in his class at School of Visual Arts and was one of the most talented students he’d ever had.
Within weeks Shamus showed me rough layouts and he nailed it. I knew from his work that he’d get the action elements just right, but he really surprised me with how well he handled the subtle character moments.  He captured nuance and upped the awkward moments and tension, which are so important in this series.
Months went by, and Shamus booked gigs and worked on these in his spare time. Every once in a while I’d wake up to a new page in my inbox.  With the benefit of time, I got to watch Shamus grow as an artist, which was a nice and interesting thing to witness.
I also really appreciate Shamus’s design for Adam Kessler, the character based upon me.  When I mentioned this to Shamus, he said, “For Adam, I decided to mix Woody Allen with Tintin." Perfect!

- Seth Kushner 

Glen told me a little about Seth and how he was taking photo portraits of comic creators for a new book he was soon to publish from powerHouse Books. It eventually became the best looking book showcasing the portraits of the greatest comic book creators of our time called Leaping Tall Buidlings: The Origins of American Comics. The pictures were by Seth, the words were by Christopher Irving and it was designed by Eric Skillman.


I was blown away, this guy has a vision. That's how I think of Seth, as a visionary. I then come to find out he was an alumni of the School of Visual Arts too, wow. SVA was established by co-founders Silas H. Rhodes and Burne Hogarth (I read and studied his books since I was in elementary school!) in 1947, as the Cartoonists and Illustrators School. The school began with three teachers and 35 students, most of whom were World War II veterans who had a large part of their tuition underwritten by U.S. government's G.I. Bill. The college was renamed the School of Visual Arts in 1956.
 After a few online exchanges, Seth and I agreed to meet and he asked me to visit his Brooklyn studio that he shared with other independent comic book creators. We realized we had mutual friends, one being the seriously underrated Nick Bertozzi, one of numerous influential comics teachers from the School of Visual Arts.

Photo by Seth Kushner

I also worked with Nick after he reached out to me to help him on several pages from the deep, poignant, epic and emotional journey that is the graphic novel Jerusalem: A Family Portrait (I get a credit at the end).

Jerusalem: A Family Portrait
Check out Nick's other amazing works too, Lewis & Clark and especially Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey, which made me realize that as tough as drawing comics is, it's nothing like the struggle to be a passionate explorer and survive the Antarctic. My favorite explorer is James Cameron, his dedication and motivations inspire me greatly. He has the rights to one of my favorite comics, Battle Angel Alita (exciting update), who is a character I love and constantly read the books over and over. I helped out on a fan film, it was awesome! His film AVATAR is my movie, it speaks about my people. 
Well before the film came out, my family would jokingly call Navajos "Nahvies," which closely sounds like "Na'vi", the aliens from AVATAR.

I commissioned my friend Vanessa to do this for me.
It hangs above my tv in my living room so I constantly look at it.

Through Seth, I ended up meeting Dean Haspiel, Gregory Benton, Josh Nuefeld, Joe Infurnari, Swifty Lang, Mike Cavallaro, Jason Little, Simon Fraser, Christa Cassano, Vito Delsante, Ricardo VenâncioReilly Brown, Hannah Means-Shannon and WAY TOO MANY PEOPLE TO NAME HERE that Seth shared my work with. These people are all part of the striving, thriving independent comics scene here in Brooklyn. Then I met Seth's family, his wonderful and gracious wife Terra and their bundle of joy, their shining star of a son, Jackson. Then I saw his photography work beyond the comic book industry, my mind was blown.
Click HERE to read an early interview. Click HERE to browse his website photo galleries.
I immediately knew Seth was a nerd (just read this chapter of SCHMUCK), what I didn't know was he was a Brooklyn Jewish nerd.
How I drew myself in 2005.
Illustrated for Klaus Janson's class.

 Literally My Home From Outer Space

 My Road to Home, I Thank the Great Creator 

I'm Diné (also called Navajo) and from a small city called Farmington but born in a small town called Shiprock, NM on April 23, 1986 where the racial makeup is (from the 2000 census) 96.74% Native American, 2.17% White, 0.16% African American, 0.12% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.10% from other races, and 0.70% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.29% of the population. About 38.3% of families and 39.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 43.2% of those under age 18 and 47.5% of those age 65 or over.
I lived in an old mobile home out in the desert, about a dozen miles outside Farmington's city limits and over thirty miles east of Shiprock, with no running water or electricity, with my parents and three siblings. Both my parents are accomplished artists themselves; I grew up with my mother's beadwork and my father's artwork.

Patchouli Breeze
Mom's Beadwork

Red Bone
Dad's Artwork

My older brother by four years, Shaun Beyale (Studio Arts graduate of the Institute of American Indian Art), introduced me to comics since my birth. I forever will appreciate his mastery and artistry with the tools we had to grow up with, he was the one who inspired me to draw.
Shaun Beyale

Shaun at Work

 Shaun Beyale Artist Statement

Post-Apocalypse Now

Indigenous Survival

Chinese Ink on Gessoed Canvas


A couple of Vato Lizards

High School Years

I read my comics and did my drawings by kerosene lamp, hauled water weekly from town (a recent disaster broke my heart where the rivers that run through my hometown were afflicted) and cooked with a propane stove into my high school years, when I finally graduated in 2004 with high marks and was able to attain a Gates Millennium Scholarship (Thank you, Bill and Melinda Gates. Sorry, but I've grown up with Macs) and was able to choose any college nationwide that I wanted to attend (my fellow Native bro Kannon earned one too!).
My guidance counselor, Mrs. Sandoval, wanted me to attend Harvard University (being Diné herself, she REALLY wanted to have sent a Navajo there), she had the Ivy League school send me a package basically saying I was accepted.
I chose SVA because my art teacher at Farmington High School, Sherri Smith, showed me a brochure for some art school in NYC that taught comics, a dream job if there ever was one. I thought I'd end up at San Juan College at worst or University of New Mexico at best. I should've went to Harvard and studied biotechnology (to fight diseases like cancer) or mathematics (I loved calculus).
Nah, just kidding.

 As a hoodified Senior in FHS's first Genetics class.

 Voted Most Artistic FHS 2004
Look at me being all hopeful and staring into the future, ayyy!

Nominated for Prom King, I thought I gave the dorkiest answer to
"What does being nominated to Prom Royalty mean to you?"

I've only known the Navajo culture I was raised in (we helped the nation) and moving to NYC for college back in 2004 until I graduated in 2008 was the biggest culture shock for me. I lived in Holmdel, NJ for almost two years after I graduated SVA. I worked at Xtreme Comfort Inc, where I installed and maintained heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems in residential and commercial areas around middle New Jersey. My cartooning colleague, peer, and best man at my wedding Scott Costello and his family allowed me to stay at their home in order for me to start my Northeast roots where I eventually met my beautiful wife Jackie (whose family accepted me with loving, open arms), thanks Scooter!
I didn't know much about Jewish humor but having lived at opposite ends of Brooklyn (I lived in the Hotel St. George in Brooklyn Heights for my junior and senior year of college and in Bay Ridge for five years now) I'm slowly beginning to understand it more. Seth helped me see that.
Seth LOVED comic books, whose origins were made by the drawing hands of many Jewish creators who hid the fact they even were; yet comic books would not exist if not for the Jewish sensibilities that created it. My comic artwork caught Seth's photographic eye, that's the most important thing that has happened to me, his vision saw my talent and he believed in me enough to want to let everyone know who I am even though we kept our collaborations mostly quiet (to keep away from the internet free-for-all). He is a visionary, please remember.

The poster that caught Seth's eye,
characters leaping tall buildings.
A Native American rez boy who grew up in poverty met a Brooklyn photography nerd and connected enough to want to collaborate and create words and pictures for the world to see. That is why I got into comic books, it's a universal language. Seth and I then worked on several stories that we were trying to pitch to publishers with no luck, all while doing each's own "day job".
Before he passed, we collaborated on a new superhero story Seth had envisioned would be our ticket to success. I drew four pages and two faux covers for this comic called The Brooklynite and the story was titled A Man of his Word, which was in Seth's anthology comic Secret Sauce Comix Vol.1 which he put together after he thought his battle with cancer was won. We were planning to expand and work on The Brooklynite after I had finished illustrating Ghetto Klown. Click HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE to read about the future of The Brooklynite.
Brooklyn cartoonist, Jake Jeffries gets caught in the fallout of two super-humans battling and is accidentally irradiated with superpowers. Fraught with “Superman powers and Spider-Man problems,” Jake learns to fight crime in his secret identity as The Brooklynite, and chronicles his adventures in a comic book series while struggling to lead a dual existence.

Copyright © Seth Kushner & Shamus Beyale
Small preview of The Brooklynite.
Please check out LINE Webtoon
for FREE COMICS and download the FREE app 
to follow the New Brooklyn universe in 2016.

Seth's design of The Brooklynite.

Seth's spark is going to become a bonfire and I'll be the one building that fire.

I've always liked creating fire.

When I grew up on the Navajo reservation, it was necessary to have a wood stove for heat and I chopped wood and stoked the flames of the stove to keep my family warm. I'll be doing the same for Seth Kushner and his family, an urban metaphorical flame I'll stoke now that I no longer have to worry about the real flames my family back home still have to deal with.

My cousin lost his wife and son in a fire last year just before Christmas, I couldn't be there to mourn with them.

Seth holding up Secret Sauce Comix Vol.1
featuring our superhero The Brooklynite.
 One of the last photos of Seth.

I started drawing Ghetto Klown with Seth's fervent encouragement and he saw the first few pages I did, he was elated! That was my favorite thing, showing him new artwork because he would gush and praise my work to no end.
If people can recognize Johnny Legs through my drawings, then I did the most difficult part of this project, getting the likenesses down, not many artists can do that.
I only lived in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn for over a year before I hung up that poster in the window of that liquor store that caught the eye of the greatest photographer I know. He understood the struggle of being a successful comic book creator, to have sufficient time to do one's work, because he wanted to be one too and steeped himself in the creative process of making comics with each artist that he worked with. He was most proud of his work Seth Kushner's CulturePOP Photocomix, his fumetti comic series that he had full control over. My favorite one is about Reggie Watts, another artist I'm fascinated with and was surprised to know that Seth hung out with him.

A page from Seth Kushner's CulturePOP Photocomix #25
 featuring comic writer Harvey Pekar.

A page from Seth Kushner's CulturePOP Photocomix #26
featuring author Jonathan Ames.

His autobio comic SCHMUCK (also designed by Eric Skillman) was successfully funded by Kickstarter before he learned of the news that he had luekemia. It's a graphic novel Seth had been working on with close to two dozen different artists for half a dozen years, all independent comic makers, that I was a part of when it was all initially released online at TRIP CITY. Read my previous post to see what I said then. He learned he had cancer after he raised the money to print and independently publish SCHMUCK through HANG DAI Editions and have it distributed by Alternative Comics, a huge achievement he couldn't celebrate.

In the morning of April 22, 2014 (a day before my birthday) he emailed me this:

This isn't easy to write, but I want you to know what's happening.  My flu wasn't getting better so Terra took me to
[the] hospital on Saturday, where I was diagnosed with leukemia. I begin chemo today and will be in [the] hospital for several weeks. This is all really fucking scary, but I will beat it.
I plan to return to our project (called The Climb, we had 4 issues planned and laid out, hoping for a longer series) after I'm back on my feet. You're a great collaborator and I plan to get us published.  After I get through this, anything, including selling a project, will be a piece of cake.
I'll talk to you soon.
- Seth

SCHMUCK released on September 15, 2015
Cover illustration by Joseph Remnant
Author photo by Carlos Molina

An illustration I did for Seth's 40th birthday
in 2013 representing his SCHMUCK avatar Adam Kessler.

 It was an honor to do a signing of SCHMUCK,
my second signing but the first one at my favorite comic book shop.

Yet, his family, all his countless friends and I were in awe to see Seth's fight with cancer, he did more work than most comic creators do in a lifetime while wearing a hospital gown. He was writing stories for the future, he knew he NEEDED to.
I finished drawing Ghetto Klown over three months after Seth died on May 17, 2015. I'll never be able to see the reaction that he would've had after I shared this book with him.
I also regret not having my portrait taken by him, he owed me after I drew his story The One for SCHMUCK and told me he would do a photo session with me but our schedules never worked out and I didn't push it while he battled cancer. Maybe I should've.

I want everyone to know that if I didn't meet Seth Kushner, I wouldn't have met Christa Cassano, who was the initial illustrator hired by Abrams ComicArts to do Ghetto Klown and I wouldn't have illustrated this book.

To help Seth's family, please visit Seth's GoFundMe page by clicking HERE.

  Brooklyn the borough honored Seth by co-naming the corner of Hubbard Street and Shore Parkway in Sheepshead Bay “Seth Kushner Way.” Please read this article to learn about this, also this article.

If we ever do Vol. 2 in 10 years, I know you will be in it! I admire your talent and am proud to be collaborating with you.
- Seth"

I love that Art Spiegelman's signature sits atop Seth's message.

This is from Seth's biography page in Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics:

Seth Kushner's portrait photography has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Time, Newsweek, L'Uomo Vogue, The New Yorker and others. He was chosen by Photo District News magazine as one of their 30 under 30 in 1999 and is a two-time winner of their Photo Annual Competition. Seth's first book, The Brooklynites, (with Anthony LaSala) was published by powerHouse Books in 2007. Currently, Seth is working on CulturePOP Photocomix, and profiling real-life characters on ACT-I-VATE.com and WelcomeToTripCity.com. Seth resides in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York with his wife, son and way too many cameras and comics.

For my dad, who gave me my first comic book. My mom, for storing my collection. My wife for putting up with my Wednesday shopping sprees. My son, who will someday inherit it all...and hopefully organize them. And, to all of the above for their continued love and support.
- Seth

One of my first fully colored comic book pages
I did back in 2006, I've been fighting for my culture! 
Here are sample pages from Ghetto Klown, please promote and help support this book, John's inspiring tale of having his troubles not hold him back from achieving his goals is the same story for me too, I'm just starting though. Enjoy!

To Johnny Legs, thanks for this opportunity!
I also want to thank Christa Cassano for seeking me out to help her with the book and to Joe Hogan, Scott Costello, Jason Mitchell, and Jenna Fryer for helping out with gray tones on 52 of the latter pages while I was at my wit's end and Mike Cavallaro for rough breakdowns of all the pages. Give credit where credit is due, folks!

I love and miss you, buddy.
The Brooklynite will be Leaping Tall Buildings in your memory.


“If I could make it, then you could make it – then anyone could make it.”