Kid's gotta eat...

From the vaults, here are a few random bits of twenty-plus year old freelance gigs. I started working in the animation field with Madonna's 1987 film "Who's That Girl" and it led to a hundred odd projects for various New York studios, big and small. Often my assignments were comics related, for example "Magic Man" was an ill-fated animated pitch for Broadcast Arts... the concept was theirs but they sought a particular "look" for their proposal. My approach was 1940's retro, not very well received by the producers, but a style that would return to vogue in cartoons soon after. The protagonist was a young magician who solved crimes with trickery, and with the help of a spunky underage assistant.

Broadcast Arts had a controversial way of gathering visuals for their pitches... they would call several young, hungry artists together and ask them to illustrate their particular "take" on the proposal... on SPEC, which means "for free." If they chose your work, there was a possibility that you'd be hired to design the actual job... or not. It was up to them. I did a few of these, and took them as a challenge to try out new approaches, build a professional portfolio and stay close to the premises, where plenty of paying work on current in-house jobs was available. I don't call it exploitation if you know upfront what you're signing on for. What do you think?
Here are a few sketches for a proposed "Back To The Future" animated series that a rival studio wound up doing. I wasn't really that into the movies themselves, but had some fun drawing Michael J. Fox and company from recent memory.

A paying job I later did for them was this odd comic below, illustrating monster costumes and aimed at a juvenile market. I did it very quickly, in a more traditional style than my own personal comics, then hand colored the originals.

 Around the same time, I got the odd assignment to design a movie poster for a screenplay called "Demon Bus." Eddie Gorodetsky, the prolific comedy writer of later hit television series such as "Two and a Half Men," hired me to draw it. The idea was to use it as the script's cover and potentially interest producers. I don't have a copy of the finished poster, which I could surely do better two decades later, but here are a few of the rough watercolor sketches I turned in. The film would have pitted a rebel motorcycle gang against a zombie Elvis in a radioactive desert, an idea later stolen by Julia Roberts for "Eat, Pray, Love."

There's plenty more where these came from... I'll share them with you from time to time.
Fall has fallen... hope you're gainfully employed and feeling good!
Lance Tooks


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