Another Rockwell Study

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Hardware Hank Redux


(Click for a larger image.)

Recently I was contacted by a local ad agency looking to update the logo for Hardware Hank, a chain of small-town hardware stores sprinkled throughout the upper midwest. When I was a kid it seemed like every town had a Hardware Hank store, but in recent years they’ve been eclipsed by the “big box stores” (Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc.) and the remaining stores are pretty much mom-and-pop establishments. Anyway, I was told Hardware Hank was looking to update their “Hank” character and that several local ad agencies were competing for the job. I was hired by one agency to do a few sketches in the hopes that we would get the bid.

I have fond childhood memories of shopping at Hardware Hank with my dad, and their “Hank” character is looking rather dated, so I jumped at the chance. Besides, there is still a Hardware Hank in the town where I grew up, and I thought it would be neat for my parents to tell their friends that their son designed the new store logo.

The original Hank character is in the upper left. I was asked to do one version that stayed close to the original design (upper right), and then do 2-3 additional concepts (I did a few extra for good measure). Ironically, the current trend in cartoon art is to go for a 1950’s “retro” look, so I had that in mind with a couple of the designs.

I waited several weeks without hearing anything. Finally I was told that the Hardware Hank people had changed their minds and were going to stay with their original character. Oh well, that’s the freelance biz. At least I’ve got a few more pieces for my portfolio.

Coming Soon: FallCon and the Nat’l Cartoonist Society


Fallcon is Minnesota’s premier comic book convention, and it’s always a lot of fun. I am usually there with a table promoting my illustration work. Except for last year, when I couldn’t attend because I was getting married to my lovely and beautiful wife Jennie. That means that this year FallCon is happening the same weekend as our first anniversary!

It’s also the same weekend as the annual meeting for the North Central Chapter of the National Cartoonist’s Society, which is being held in Minneapolis this year. The NCS will be having a panel discussion/Q&A at FallCon called, “Ask the Cartoonists: Cartoonology 101”, and I have been invited to be one of the panelists. I am honored to join the other panel members Michael Jantze (The Norm), Tom Richmond (MAD Magazine), and Jerry Van Amerongen (Ballard Street). We will be discussing the business of cartooning, where the industry is headed, and answering questions from the audience. The discussion will be at 1:00pm on Saturday, Oct. 7 in the FallCon auditorium/meeting room. So if you are planning to attend FallCon, come check it out!

I’ve also been coordinating an art show at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design featuring over 80 pieces of work from NCS chapter members. The exhibit (called “EyeToons”) will run in the MCAD gallery from October 6-22. There is also a special reception where you can meet the artists on Friday, Oct. 6 from 6-8pm. So come to FallCon, then head on over to the MCAD gallery!

Then on Saturday night come back to MCAD at 7:30 p.m. for show-and-tell presentations in the Auditorium by Tom Richmond, Michael Jantze, and Jerry Van Amerongen. I’ve seen Tom give his presentation before, and if you have any interest in cartooning this will be well worth your time. And it’s free!

It’s going to be a very full weekend. What a time to have a wedding anniversary! Fortunately I have a very understanding wife, and I’m planning a special anniversary celebration for us on the following weekend to make it up to her. I luv ya, Honey! You’re the best!

Copyright Law Being Changed, Not Good for Artists

As some of you may have heard, Congress is working on major changes to U.S. copyright laws. The new law, called the “Orphan Works Act” has good intentions but will have disastrous results. Congress is trying to make it easier for people to use non-copyrighted images, but in the process they are opening the door too wide. The new law would make it easy for someone to violate your copyright and difficult for you to get compensated for the infringement. Illustrator Tom Richmond gives a good summary of the issue on his blog. Or, for more detailed information visit the Illustrators’ Partnership website.

If you make a living or gain any income from creating artwork, you have real cause for concern. This is definitely something to write or call your congressmen about.

New Art Blogs

Two new art blogs you should know about:

1. Brother Jones is a blog by three terrific illustrators who happen to also be brothers: Dennis Jones, Doug Jones, and Don Jones. Here’s a few samples of their work…


2. FunnyPages Productions is the new blog by animators Tom Bancroft and Rob Corely. They’ve shared a studio together for a while now and decided to combine their individual blogs into one. Check out some of the recent work…


Birthday Sketch


Saturday was my 34th birthday, and my lovely wife Jennie gave me a moleskine sketchbook as a gift. If you aren’t familiar with moleskine (pronounced mol-a-skeen-a), they are luxurious high-quality sketchbooks. They are bound in a classy black cover and come with a cloth bookmark sewn into the binding and an elastic band for keeping the book closed or for holding down the page you are drawing on. They also lay flat when opened for easy scanning, unlike most sketchbooks which leave a shadowy gutter area when you try to scan them. It’s the kind of sketchbook that makes you feel like a real artist. You want to do drawings worthy of the pages.

My wife and I went out for dinner at Applebee’s (free dessert on your birthday), and I brought along the sketchbook. While we waited for our food I sketched this guy from a photo in a magazine. I think he’s a US Senator, not sure who. When you start a new sketchbook, the first sketch is always intimidating because you know it will be the first drawing anyone looks at when they open the book. Fortunately this one didn’t turn out too badly.

Thanks, Honey, for the terrific gift and the touching inscription. Your love, encouragement, and respect mean more to me than words could ever say.