Rob's Blog

Adding paint to Santa Claus! – July 21st, 2016

by on Jul.21, 2016, under Illusration, Swampy's Florida

2016-0722-SantaTampa-Paint

During a political forum Thursday night, I got a chance to add watercolor. Hope to get more done Monday night at another forum. In the meantime trips to Gainesville and toward Spring Hill lie ahead.

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Book: ‘Rage of the Mountain Man’ by William W. Johnstone – July 12th, 2016

by on Jul.12, 2016, under Books

Rage of the Mountain Man (Mountain Man, #13)Rage of the Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I believe this is the best of the Smoke Jensen series, so far, and one of the best of the few dozen Johnstone Clan books i’ve read.

One thing is for sure – This book was not written by William Johnstone.

It was obvious by the early ’90s Johnstone was using ghost writers. This entry in the Smoke Jensen series is so far off from most all of the Johnstone Clan books before and after Johnstone’s death, that someone else had to have written this. One major detour here is the extensive use of various curse words. This book has as much as any Johnstone book I’ve read. I believe it’s the first in the Smoke Jensen series (I’m reading them in order) that uses even one. Though, the language is peppered throughout.

‘Rage’ is a extremely well plotted tale of another guy wanting to be a land baron. I first thought I was in for another repetitious story. I found out quickly I was wrong. This tale veers from the land baron to Smoke’s 2nd trip in the series to the eastern shore of the US. The writing of Smoke’s encounters at various locations in the northeast US are very well done. The settings of each also very well done. This tale travels from west to east to west to more west. Throughout there is plenty of action and a neat travelogue of America in the early 1900s. All reading accurately to me, though I’m sure better experts could point this and that in errors.

Something else pops up and never specifically pointed out – This book takes place later in Smoke’s life. One reference I picked up was regarding Oscar Wilde in the past tense. Now, this this could be a writer’s mistake, but Wilde died in 1900. There’s also mention of the nearly never mentioned Jensen children being all grown up.

The characters are of a wide variety, all written very well. Tricky with so many of such distinct backgrounds. Love the inclusion of Preacher’s mountain men pals.

Something included that does reflect William Johnstone is the overt conservative political issues woven throughout the entire book in all sorts of ways.

Bottom line: I recommend this book: 9 of 10 points.

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Book: ‘National Security’ by Marc Cameron – July 8th, 2016

by on Jul.08, 2016, under Books

National Security (Jericho Quinn, #1)National Security by Marc Cameron
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

‘National Security’ is a scary tale of extremely deadly chemicals making way to America by bad guys and about the folks who work to stop them. Unlike many tales about terrorism and America, this one is more involved, though only in subject.

The awkward part is the selection of the fellows to lead this fight. How they are assembled really is flaky and very unlikely. Others involved in the hunt of bad guys include scientists that speak more as regular store pharmacists, than learned members of a government agency. The ending is an odd cat and mouse game that includes a car chase that just doesn’t ring true. All of this points to some mighty shaky writing.

The story is solid. The chemical threat is very well written at every point. It’s the rest that needed some solid writing help. The characters are identified well and given typical backgrounds. Settings are mostly well written, especially those in the mid-east.

A Cover Issue: Here is another Pinnacle book with another lousy title and cover. Why on earth is an image of the White House included? Though there is a threat to “National Security”, it’s a wide encompassing title for such a narrow subject of the book.

Overall it’s a good story. Just weak as a first entry for a writer.

Bottom line: I recommend the book. 4 out of 10 points.

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Book: ‘Threat Warning’ by John Gilstrap – July 5th, 2016

by on Jul.06, 2016, under Books

Threat Warning (Jonathan Grave, #3)Threat Warning by John Gilstrap
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My third run of a Jonathan Graves tale and again get the feeling of a comic book without capes and super powers. The super villains are there again!

This is certainly a fun tale with tons of action and adventure. There are a number of troubles, though. First, this is almost too much like the novel preceding this one. The location is different and the problems are a bit different. But the resolution is nearly identical. There are also some odd happenings in the book that don’t make sense. In particular, there is one character that dramatically pivots from one stance to another.

I can set all of that aside viewing this in a more surrealistic comic book way. With that thought, this story is full of characters that are a bit bigger than life. Those written less than that get lost in all else going on. The settings are written with detail as needed. That adds a plus to this book: All of the excess baggage found in most all books being written today is not in this. Gilstrap does a great job keeping the story focussed and moving at a strong pace.

Overall this book for those looking for comic book adventure. High brow literary levels are not to be found here.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 5 out of 5 points.

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Allerbuddies – A Project i worked on – July 6th, 2016

by on Jul.06, 2016, under Cartooning

2016-0709-Allerbuddies

Here’s a project I worked on last year to help little people and their allergy troubles. It’s available now! Little folks can wear these fun bands with Dr. Willow the wombat to help them avoid encountering items that might hurt them.

Here’s where you can get your own! –
https://www.allerbuddies.com.au/

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Book: ‘Kept Women Can’t Quit’ by Erle Stanley Gardner – July 3rd, 2016

by on Jul.03, 2016, under Books

A. A. FAIR - KEPT WOMEN CAN'T QUITA. A. FAIR – KEPT WOMEN CAN’T QUIT by Erle Stanley Gardner
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

What a mess of convoluted actions in a simplistic tale. Seems to me Gardner took the Perry Mason mysteries that involved a lot more of a shell game than many Mason stories and recreated those as Cool and Lam books. Replacing Mason with Lam.

This story starts simply enough. Then within 30 pages a ridiculously shell game of various items and people by Lam leaving the reader wondering what is going on. Turns out – Not much. For the actions set up to law enforcement activity that again brings up this weird canard of Sergeant Sellers always believing Lam is a bad guy that is capable of murder, extortion and crimes against the world. OK, maybe Sellers could be written this way a few times. Writing Sellers like this everytime is just sloppy storytelling. All of this to pad this book with frivolous fluff that is a waste of writing and reading.

There is more bobbing and weaving involving Lam, but at that point it all points to more waste of writing, which is was. There is an interesting angle of the weapon used that could have been a great plot point. Instead Gardner takes a wild tangent involving a retail store/manufacturers/models/ etc. More waste. This could have been a good mystery without the unnecessary mess.

Main characters are mostly assumed to be known and the rest are well described. The females maybe over well described. In that Lam is never well described for the most part, he sure has a way with any well formed dish, if I might use Gardner vernacular. Settings are written sparsely.

Originally, when i started the book, i thought Gardner’s foreword was going to be my biggest complaint. The foreword is odd in that it has NOTHING to do with the book. Worse is Gardner’s questioning whether we should be jailing those who break the law. Lone rehabilitation is the answer. What a cockeyed view by a writer that is always sending his characters to jail.

Bottom line: I do not recommend this book. 4 out of 10 points.

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Volunteering some Caricatures for Special Olympics Friday night – July 1st, 2016

by on Jul.02, 2016, under Caricatures

Volunteering some Caricatures for Special Olympics Friday night!

I did a rare volunteering of my Improvisational Illustrations 🙂 to help with a fund raising event Friday night for Special Olympics . Thanks to Maria, Don and Loida for inviting me!

See each drawing for a bit behind each. .

2016-0701-SpecialOlympics-02

‘Can We Finish the Operation Now?’.
Desimer works as a photographer and nurse.

2016-0701-SpecialOlympics-03

‘Bringing swords to a Hog Fight’.
Ted has lived a full live and had so much to say. His love of armaments, including samurai and broad swords. He’s also known to go hunting.

2016-0701-SpecialOlympics-01

‘Hai!’
Chris is one of three people at this event who loves swords. None knew each other shared the like of such long, sharp objects! Chris’ diet swerves from meat eating to vegetarian to meat eating to vegan and back again.

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Book: ‘The Same Lie Twice’ by Ron Goulart – July 1st, 2016

by on Jul.01, 2016, under Books

The Same Lie TwiceThe Same Lie Twice by Ron Goulart
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a speedy tale that is chock full of great storytelling. Goulart eases back from the typical humor he plunges a story into and takes a Raymond Chandler-esque turn with John Easy.

The characters are particularly well written. Including one that appears one way but is written far more complicated, though little is outwardly indicated about the layers in the book and have little to do with the conclusion. The settings are well done.

I really like how each chapter skips over a period of time and Goulart then cleanly continues the story including a bit of well written narrative that keeps the story moving and covers what was missed. Very nicely done.

The conclusion is the biggest drawback as not all ties up in a typical clean fashion.

Bottom line: I recommend this book. 7 out of ten points.

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Book: ‘The Defector’ by Nick Carter – June 30th, 2016

by on Jun.30, 2016, under Books

The Defector (Killmaster, #38)The Defector by Nick Carter
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a succinct tale that is just a bit too easy for the good guys as the writer places what is needed to be found in just the right page numbers.

The hero is sent to find somebody and finds all of the clues to the whereabouts and the bad guys far too easily. One of the first stops is sloppily written and reveals way too much and makes the rest of the tale predictable. When the hero goes to China he unbelievably finds what he is looking for too easily and others find him too easily. China then, and now, was very crowded. The easy of discovery would be nearly impossible.

Characters are loosely handled and locations are very sparsely written.

Due to sloppy writing the ending is obvious, so…

Bottom Line: i don’t recommend this book. 3 out of 10 points.

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My ‘Man in the Swamp Report’ – Drawing a Tapioca Celebration! – June 28th, 2016

by on Jun.28, 2016, under Cartooning

Plan on posting a video a week of me inking a Swampy’s Florida Celebration cartoon each week over at the Swampy Facebook/Blog/You Tube/etc. page. Here’s this week’s involving tapioca, as most videos are about.

You’ll have to go to the page to see why the two look a bit distressed and see future videos. Best to do is go to the Swampy’s Florida page, click ‘Like’ and scroll down and click ‘All On’.


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Celebrating 37 Years of Caricaturing! – June 27th, 2016

by on Jun.27, 2016, under Caricatures

Well, as LinkedIn has been reminding me with messages in the past few hours, June 27th marks 37 years since I placed B-6 to acetate and started drawing caricatures at Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey Circus World in Haines City, #Florida.

I had just turned 16 and my first job with Michael Hanson Artists had me thrust between two other artistic strangers and a large waiting crowd of people to draw as many $1.49, I believe, caricatures as I could. Basically I was dropped into the deep end of the pool.
 
Drawing multi-dozens of caricatures a day during the Summer and then one for a few years, before we converted to Sharpies, got me mighty nimble with a B-6 nib and a bottle of ink. I remember later getting to the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, Inc. and, the great cartoonist, Hy Eisman asking,” You drew WHAT with a B-6″?
 
It’s been many years and lots of caricatures at Circus World, Hyatt House, Mystery Fun House, and on the Disney property. Tons of private events. Some of my favorites have been drawing for our veterans. Including those I did with my The National Cartoonists Society pals.
 
Last week while looking for something else i came across a story of an excursion we made almost 4 years ago. Hadn’t seen it and I’ll attach it below. The photo of me veils how horribly sick I was. Being in the mid-east had put sand in my sinuses, that don’t work well anyway. I believe someone called it the “Kuwaity Krud”. As the Krud engulfed me I was a mess for the rest of the trip and weeks after. I thank the rest of the crew for the trip for putting up with me and my hacking cough and sneezing.
 
http://www.afcent.af.mil/Units/379thAirExpeditionaryWing/News/Display/tabid/5382/Article/350513/drawing-a-smile-cartoonists-visit-deployed-servicemembers.aspx

 

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