Sunday, November 15, 2009

How Mike DeNero's Neighborhood Is Created

How Mike DeNero’s Neighborhood Is Created
What does it take to make a cool custom comic strip to promote a vintage sportscards shop? One brilliant cartoonist and one shop owner who provides that cartoonist with a concept and then gets out of the way! Such is the relationship between us and our superstar cartoonist, Jim Hunt, who published his first cartoon in 1989, and has since drawn cartoons for such notable entities as MLB on Fox (click here to see some of them), MAD Magazine (click here to take a peek at a few), and Kevin Youkilis' Hits For Kids Foundation (click here to see some of Jim's Red "Sawx" drawings), to name a few.
To give you a peek into the creative process for Mike DeNero's Neighborhood, we will take you through the creation of the strip featured in our July e-Newsletter. For that newsletter, I was in the midst of writing an essay on pop legend Michael Jackson's life as a collector, not of sportscards per se, but of a myriad of things from comic books, to art, to Disneyana (to read the essay on our blog, click here). I thought that a "King of Pop" theme for that month's episode of Mike DeNero's Neighborhood would be a fitting companion to my essay. So, I called Jim and asked him to create a drawing that celebrated Michael Jackson in a way that only Bernie, Tony, Leela, and Mike (the Mike DeNero's Neighborhood characters) could.
Jim immediately began to think of a few of the King of Pop's trademark dance moves: the Moonwalk, the Billie JeanThriller zombie. Then, Jim put his pencil to paper and created this initial sketch, which featured Bernie, Tony, and Leela onstage at a Michael Jackson dance tribute and me (Mike DeNero) providing the punchline.
While I loved the initial sketch, I wanted the strip to avoid being dated in any way (i.e., a Michael Jackson "Dance Machine" tribute would illicit thoughts of his untimely death, even to someone viewing the cartoon for the first time years later). So, I asked Jim to move the kids into the card shop, which necessitated a modification: Tony and Bernie dancing on the store's counter worked well, but Leela was now going to lose the "zombie" dance move but provide the humorous remark (as she does so often): "Every time Thriller comes on the radio, they go nuts." Here is the result:
After I instantaneously and enthusiastically approved the revised sketch by e-mail (with several exclamation points), Jim then began the process of turning the sketch into line art: he puts the sketch on a light table, drops another piece of paper on top of it, and starts inking the illustration. He does so in an "old school" manner -- no computer software! The following is the resulting line art:
After Jim completed the line art process, he ran a copy onto card stock, pulled out the watercolors and ... voila!

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