Thursday, November 20, 2008

Emerald City Blues Part 3

More of the madness of my take on The Wizard of Oz.

If you enjoy this comic and would like to support it with a donation. You can paypal me a donation of any amount at

I appreciate your support.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Emerald City Blues Part 2

More Oz madness from the 24 hour comic day event.

24 Hour Comic Day

Last week I participated in 24 hour comic day. It's pretty simple. You have to start from scratch and pencil ink and letter 24 pages in 24 hours. I'd always wanted to try it so my expectations were pretty low. It turned out to be a lot of fun and I managed to last 18 hours straight and I penciled and inked 11 pages and penciled 17 pages. Not to shabby for an old dog like me. I tried not to think to much about what I was going to do before I got there. I had a vague idea that I might do my take on a fairy tale. I ended up doing a "Karlfied" version of The Wizard of OZ. So without further BS I give you.

Emerald City Blues:

Shout out to Atom and Portlyn of Brave New World comics in Newhall Cali. They put together an awesome 24 hour comic day. Well organized and well supported. Great job peeps.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


A web comic I made.

This update is for Todd!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Karl's Golden Rules of Art 1.0

At some point I went from being a “young gun” to an “old dog”

I didn’t notice it happening it just did.

Along the way I’ve taken my fair share of of bumps and bruises
in the world of art.

Over the years I began to make some rules for myself in order to
save me from getting the short end of the stick when it came to
money or nut-so freelance projects.

With all the fly-by night clients and art directors that are mad because you “can” and they “can’t” an artist needs some
rules to live by.

I’ve gone ahead and written out some of my so called “Golden Rules”

They may not work for you and they may not work in every situation but hopefully
they will give you somewhere to start and put you in the mindset to make your own set of
rules that work for you.

Art is tough enough. Protect yourself.

The rules are in no particular order and I’ll hopefully be adding and streamlining them in the future.

1.) If the job is over $500 bucks always get half up front and a one page contract that explains your policies.

I’m not talking about a $20 convention sketch or that $150 logo you did for your cousin’s brother’s friend. I’m talking about the gigs that will take serious time and effort and keep you from other gigs that will potentially make you money. This is an important rule because if a client can’t come up with at least $250 bucks what business does he have contracting an artist. This weeds out the flakes. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you are passing up a gig. If someone is serious they won’t balk at the money. Hold the line! A quickie one page contract that has your quote and your basic policies is important. Have it signed or make sure it’s in the body on an email with the client accepting the terms. Again if they don’t want to accept the terms ...uh are they really worth working for? You need to make that call.

2.) Never give more than two round of changes.

Unless you fucked up. I say this because it’s important to set the rules of the job with the client up front. A lot of non/pseudo creative people don’t understand how the creative process works and they think despite their direction that artwork can be changed at any point in the process despite the amount of work that’s been done. Every job is a different beast so use your best judgment. As a hard and fast rule. I charge between $50-$100 an hour in general but I charge that hourly rate for every hour after the first two round of changes. You would be surprised how fast choices get made when they face hourly rates.

3.) Despite what a client or an art director will try and make you think. This is not your last job. (Attack on the mental and emotional state of the artist.)

Let's face it most people think you do art because it's a lot of fun. People will say things like "God Given Gift". Not realizing you've spent years working your butt off to become good at what you do. This confusion often leads to problems when dealing with clients. They assume you are doing this for fun and fame (fame in art please!).

They will approach you assuming this.

Art directors and clients will try and play off your fears and emotions.

They want you to think this is your last job and the most important you’ve ever worked on.

There is this fear that if you quit this job or call them out you will lose this job and some how never get another.

Rest assured they are playing off your fears to get you to work cheaper, harder or bring a level of stress or confusion to the job that will put you in a position to be taken advantage of. I know it sounds harsh. Not all clients are this way but the few that are will attack your confidence. Which as we all know is true power base of your artistic ability. Safe guard and protect that confidence. Keep in mind they don’t care how long you have to stay up or what physical stress you have to go to make their life easier.

I’ve had clients tell me things like “aren’t you excited that your work will be shown in (fill in the blank)”. Does a plumber care who shits on the toilet he unplugged?

It’s a job and you need to separate that in your mind and the clients mind. Like most business there is a fair share of manipulation involved. For your own safety and happiness leave the rose colored glasses at the crib and don't be afraid to stand up for your rights. Just because they pay you does not mean they can treat you like a slave. I'm not saying be difficult to work with. I am saying use your common sense and instincts. If it feels's most likely wrong. There are always more fish (clients) in the sea.

4.) It’s their work not yours.

Now on the surface this seems like an easy thing to keep in mind. Yet it’s one of the biggest hurdles I see facing young or inexperienced artists.

Just because you created it does not mean it’s your artwork.

If I draw a picture of Mickey Mouse and an art director tells me to change the foot. Don’t fight it. It’s not your personal expression artistically. Just make the change as fast and as well as you can and move on. Trust me when I say divorcing yourself from the process and the product of your artwork is a liberating thing. Save your battles for when you are trying to get the most out of your personal work. That’s where the true artistic battle is waged during the time when you are learning and forging new avenues for your artwork. Not on a freelance job that will be a distant memory as soon as the check clears.

5.) Do the numbers or reality check

I know most artists hate the business side of art. I can’t stress this enough. DO THE NUMBERS! It’s all basic math.

Here is how I do it:

Spec a job.

That means how long will it take me?

What’s my deadline?

What are my deliverables?

Can it be done in the time alloted?

What is the size of the company?

For shits and giggles I’ll give you a scenario.

A client wants you to do two illustrations. They want them fully painted.

Go back and think. How many hours will it take me to do this illustration?

Lets say it will take me two 8 hour days.

Let just say my rate is $50 bucks an hour.

$50 bucks an hour for 16 hours is $800 bucks.

Let’s say talking on the phone with the client 3 more hours $150

Now we are at $950 bucks.

Not bad.

But let’s say something happens and you have to work on it more than expected.

I factor in another half day of work for babysitting the client or sitting around uploading artwork to servers or explaining to the in house graphic designer how you made the file. Whatever. The idea is pad it. Half day 4 hours at $50 bucks. $200.

$200 pad


$1150 total.

Plus $75 an hour for changes beyond the first two rounds of changes.

If you are in the U.S. I’d say factor in your taxes...but that’s a story for another day.

You plug your own real world numbers in and hopefully you will find a basis for proper quotes.

That’s it for now. I hope this helps. Everyone has their own way of handling things. These are just some ideas to get you started.
I look forward to reading everyones posts with their ideas and "rules".

The most important rule above any other is to respect your ability and your work. As an artist you have an ability people will pay for. Don’t let anybody tell you any different.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Talky Fuck At Starbucks

You know the guy I’m talking about.

He carries a lot of gear that makes you wonder if he is homeless or just plain ole’ eccentric.

He often wears a cowboy hat and likes lots of jewelry and or some sort of feather. May even confuse matters with a lap top of some sort.

He holds the staff of Starbucks hostage with endless tales of bizarro conspiracy crapola.

Fave subjects:

Random factoids.

How hot it is outside and how it got that way.

Mindless chit chat. Heavy on the chit…a whole lot of chat!

How this Starbucks used to be a Laundromat.

The only thing this character loves more than a Starbucks employee is a college student who is too polite to tell him to fuck off or take a long walk off a short pier.

He loves to find people who are reading. Or drawing. Or even chatting with a friend.

This gives him the opportunity to find an “in” into a conversation.

“I used to draw”…

“great book…what’s that all about.”

Or worse yet….

He listens in on your conversation and feels the need to comment.

This guy will move from spot to spot in the Starbucks until everyone has left.

He will than retire to the outside tables where he will harass walkers by and beg for cigarettes.

Known turn offs for the Talky Fuck.

The thousand yard stare.

You can’t talk to someone who looks like they are trying to forget their tour of Nam.

Talk when he does. When he speaks talk over him. The more random the better.

If you are lucky. It may throw him off your scent.

When he sits down near you. Say “I’m saving that for my study group”.
He may make a fuss but by the time he realizes the study group is not coming you
Are one Frappacino and a good book away from making your exit unmolested.

I know some of you may think I’m a real shit for putting this lonely soul on blast.

It’s selfish to want to enjoy my time and $3 coffee with out interruption.

I won’t hold a grudge.

Tell you what.

Next time he pins you to a corner table and bends your ear with mindless talk from the realm of “I don’t give a shit”.

I’ll be the guy in the corner drawing a comic page. Just give me a wink.

I’ll throw my Iced Carmel Macchiato at the window as a distraction.

It’ll give you time to make a break for it.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Supermarket LA @ Meltdown Comics

Here's the report on SMLA at Meltdown. As you can see in the pictures the event was held in the back gallery of Meltdown.

It was a pretty cool set up and the event was very well organized. There were about 25 different local comic artists showing their work. It was very Indie.

It was a pretty cool set up and the event was very well organized. There were about 25 different local comic artists showing their work. It was very Indie.

I think I was as close to mainstream in terms of content. The fantastic bookseller Stuart Ng was there and I picked up a couple cool books. There was a diverse crowd of people who stumbled in from the street. Hollywood kids and animation junkies. The artist CHEEKS was there and so was the creator of Sponge Bob. I was sitting next to the artist of "I Love Toast" which was super cool. He had the most amazing painting of piece of candy corn I'd ever seen! I truly wanted to own it. There was also a guy selling his homemade cookies that were amazing!!!

As for me I was selling my 88 sketch book and as a promo item I was giving away actual 88 pills..ugh...I mean candy. All and all it was a good time. I think I would do it again.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

88-Under Construction Sketchbook

It's taken a while but they are finally here!

The 88 Under Construction Sketchbooks!

20 pages of behind the scenes mayhem. 4 Color. 16 Black and White.

I printed up a short run of them and they have been selling like a drug (funny how that worked out) at WWLA.

If you are interested in a copy. Email me at

$20 bucks for the book and shipping and handling in the U.S. Outside of the U.S. I'll have to check.

$40 bucks gets you the book and a sketch on the inside back cover as well as shipping and handling.

$40 buckaroos for the 88 UCS and the Lost Treasures Sketchbook.

The back "promo speak" reads:

Imagine a drug that gives you super powers for 88 minutes.

Would you take it?

Could you stop taking it?

Enter the world of Los Angeles in the very near future.
Where everyone is looking for a quick fix and willing to risk it all on the biggest high of all.

Super Powers!

A behind the scenes look at the controversial new comic series by Artist/Writer Karl Altstaetter.




Friday, March 07, 2008

Friday, February 29, 2008

And the Winner is...

I just got done reading all the top ten submissions again and I have to say.

This was really tough.

I applaud the amount of work that went into all the submissions as well as the heartfelt emails that accompanied them. I learned a lot from this contest because it reminded me of the determination and emotion that goes into creative work. No matter if it's writing, drawing, painting or underwater basket weaving. Art is important to the person creating it and I think in a larger sense their ability to use their artwork to communicate with the outside world. In the end I hope with this little contest I can help someone reach that next level of communication and spread their ideas to a broader audience. Most of all I hope there is no disappointment for the those who didn't win. As cliche' as it sounds I think everyone who sent in a submission is a winner because they expressed their creativity.

In the last week or so I've received a few angry emails from people who didn't get their submission in before the deadline. I don't really know what to say about that other than I did this for fun and with good intentions. As I've mentioned in past updates I received so many submissions that at some point I had to stop accepting new ones. If I has not set a deadline I wouldn't have had the time to read each submission and give them the time they deserved. No hard feelings please.

As for what went into the choosing the winner. I would have to say the clarity of the story was the biggest issue for me. The ability for me to visualize the story from reading the page and the emotional content of the story. All of the top ten had these elements. One of these stories I felt had the entire package and stood just little bit higher than the rest.


The Winner of the 1st "You Write It And I Will Draw It" contest is:

With Naked Eyes
Ben Gilboa

Congratulations Ben!

I'm going to hold another one of these later this year. I'm thinking end of summer. Check back to see how the art for the story develops.

If you have any thoughts or questions about the contest feel free to email me.

Thanks again to all the writers. Keep writing peeps!!!

All the best,


Thursday, February 21, 2008

88 Launch

My new project "88" will be told over several websites and graphic novels.

It starts here:



Thursday, February 07, 2008

So Good They Had To Lock Them Up

There is a mall close to my job and attached to that mall is a Borders.

I happen to like Borders and I often enjoy a Chai Latte in there fine lil' cafe.

The Borders is surrounded by a couple of high schools and a Cal State campus.

When I roll through the Graphic Novel section it's not uncommon to find a few girls and a couple kids sitting in the 3 aisle deep Manga section knocking back a few volumes of Naruto.

A couple months back a friend of mine pointed out that the American Graphic Novels are being displayed in three double sided bookshelves that are locked!

Yes I said locked!

In an era where American tpbs and Graphic Novels need as much exposure as possible this was of course alarming.

Not that I didn't believe my friend but I thought it wise to look into this further.

I went to the store and sure enough 300, Watchman and the Death of Superman were doing a stretch in a 4x5 locked wooden case.

Check out the pictures I took.

My brain ran like an episode of X-Files..not the shitty ones with the Terminator guy..the good ones with Duchovny.

I'm thinking why are they fucking with the American Comics!!!

Manga runs free...while Sin City is doing hard time!!!

I tried to speak with the manager who was not there at the time.

I waited and called him later that night.

This is was what he told me.

The Graphic Novel section has the greatest amount of stolen merchandise in the entire store.

Only two other product lines get put behind the glass window:

DVD Box sets
Criterion Collection DVDs

They tried putting metal strips in the TPBs and GNs and the thieves used tinfoil to in their backpacks and bags to deflect the sensors.

Or just ran like hell.

They were losing so much money in that section that they had to lock the books up just so they could keep track of inventory when an actual buyer wanted that book.

Maybe you are surprised that they had to go to such great lengths to keep Comics from being ripped.

I'm not.

Comics inspire a fanatical response in the reader...

you become a Comic Crak Head.





when you need to know what happened next in your favorite comic you will go to any length to find out.

If it's Bleach or Spiderman Or Tin Tin...

You need to know.

This experience just confirmed what I already knew

Sequential art in it's many forms Manga, Comics, BD. so good you have to lock it up...


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Top Five YWIAIWDI Contest Round01

Hi Everyone,

As promised I've picked what I consider to be the top five stories that were sent to me. I want to start off by saying how impressive all the submissions were and I also want to say how difficult it was to pick just five. I think everyone who sent stuff in is super talented and I wish you the best of luck. This is not the final pick so if you come up with something new and want to pitch it feel free. The final choice will be made on 02/29/08. I wish I had the time to write back to everyone but I'm doing this contest for fun and I don't think there is enough time in a week to personally write back to each person. I honestly didn't know there would be such a great reaction and so much positive vibes for this. I thank everyone who sent a pitch in and I wish I had the time to draw every story.

As far as what went into choosing these five. I really went with what I felt would be fun to draw. I also went with the most fully formed ideas. There was some interesting stuff that just didn't feel like a story that I could draw or not fully developed. I really wanted to draw self contained stories but I made a couple exceptions for ideas I felt really had a solid concept.

On to the top five:

1.)Insanity by David Ayala.

2.)Earth Skins by Aine Mistig

3.)Wish by Anthony Zicari

4.)Dashwood Pomp by Audley

5.)Legendaries by Dave

As I said before these are just what I consider to be the top five in no particular order. I would be happy to work on any of these stories. As I get more pitches in I might have to update the list. As for now these are the ones. Thanks again to everyone who sent in pitches.


Friday, February 01, 2008

You Write It And I Will Draw It- Update!

The latest news on the contest.

I've received some great pitches. It's going to be really tough to pick just one. You guys have some amazing talent and I wish I could draw all of your stories. I won't be able to contact everyone who has sent me pitches but I will list the top 5 so far on Sunday night PST. If you are on that list than that means you are in the running. I'll take more pitches after that and list the top five every Sunday until I pick the final story.

Thanks to everyone for the interest and kind words.

Stay tuned.


OG Post and update below.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

You Write It And I Will Draw It-Update

Hi Everyone,

There seems to be a little confusion with the concept of the contest and I just wanted to clear up a few things.

It's not a month to month contest. I'm going to pick a winner in a month. Feb 29th to be exact. If it goes well I might do another one. For now it's a one time chance for writers to get their stories drawn.

I've been asked if there are limitations to what I will draw. I've received tons of different ideas from sci-fi to musicals in comic form (no kidding) and even poetry with visuals. I don't want to limit people creatively but I'm not so interested in drawing porn. Other than that pitch it and see what happens. Also I'm going to draw this as a comic so those of you that have sent your ideas in you might want to format them as comic. I love poetry but if it's a poem I'm not sure how you see it visually.

The word is getting out so pitch away.

I will be updating my blog and my da page as things develop.

Original post and update below.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

You Write It And I Will Draw It- Contest

I see lots of new artists coming up and I think we are entering a new era of comics in terms of style and presentation.

The thing I don't see is a lot of writers getting burn.

It's tough in a visual medium when you are the word and concept guy.

Maybe I am a glutton for punishment but I am officially starting a contest to get you idea men some shine.

Here's how it works:

You come up with a short comic story. 1-10 pages.

Email it to me at: or note it to me.

I'll pick one story one month from today....and draw it.

You own the story.

Blog it

Make an ashcan

Use is as a sample to get a gig.

Sell it as a download

I don't care. It's your story.

I have paper in front of me...pencil in hand..

Let's do this.



Hi all you Writer/ Creative types out there.

There seems to be a really great reaction to this contest. More so than I expected. I'm glad to see there is a lot of energy around this.

A couple updates:

Go ahead and send me a one paragraph pitch for the story. It will make it easier for me to read all of them and if I pick yours you can send me the full story and we can go from there. I prefer self contained stories that start and end in the 1-10 pages.

Please make sure it's a short story. (1-10 pages)

The final date for submitting a story is Feb 29th.

Good luck and I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

The original contest info is below.


Sunday, January 20, 2008


I know I'm in the minority on this one and I don't want to be Mr Hatorade...but...I had a couple thoughts on the movie:

I thought the 911/Iraq imagery was in poor taste. It's putting a fantasy spin on something that was very real and very sad for a lot of people. It's trivializing 911 by seeing it as a visual style you can reapply to a monster movie.

I also thought the hand held element was gimmicky. Before the movie a guy from the theater came out and offered people their money back if they got sick or did not like the movie. I think they went overboard with the shaky camera. I'd say 25% of the audience got up and left during my screening.

For me watching a bunch of feet running and shots of jittery walls was boring.

The party scenes went on...way...too...longggggggg.

The characters were pretty lifeless. I mean everyone was pretty glib after the death of some key people in their lives. The over the top style of acting did not match the faux documentary style of the movie in my opinion.

Good things.

I won't spoil it but the way they managed to work in the flashback was smart. The way they would cut to a different scene by having the camera get bumped. The Night-vision scene. Awesome.

I loved the marketing. The websites. The build up.

Just not the movie.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Wow...Trying to catch up and get this blog in shape

It's been hectic lately and it's been tough trying to make time to update this blog.

I have so many half written posts chill'n on the ole hard drive. It's sad really.

I won't make any promises..but I would very much like to get back to posting more often.

Until then..some sketches..