Room with a view--Knoxville 2

Same sort of view in the light of day. Again, I think the fact that I was somehow connected with Charlie Daniel made the folks at CP think I was a VIP. Bless ’em.

Cartoon and Illustration

Room with a view–Knoxville 2



This is what the view from my room in Knoxville looked like. I think the folks at Crowne Plaza must have thought I was some sort of big-wig and so gave me the best room for viewing Market Square.

Cartoon and Illustration

Room with a view–Knoxville

Cartoon and Illustration

This isn’t going to get done in one day–Knoxville Notes part 1

Since returning from the Southeast Chapter of the National Cartoonist Society annual meeting in Knoxville, TN I’ve been trying to find time to post some information on what went on there.  But I have been swamped with work and have not been able to sit down and do a whole synopsis.

Then I realized that I don’t have to do it all in one sitting.

So today (while the old light table warms up) I’ll talk about last Thursday a bit and then leave the rest for later on.

On Thursday, October 24 my wife, Karin, and I headed out to Knoxville around 12:30 in the afternoon.  Our intent was to get me to the Crowne Plaza before 3 PM, so that I could check in and connect with Charlie Daniel (editorial cartoonist for the Knoxville News-Sentinel, not the musician) at 3:30.

Things went fine as we traveled West on I-40, and we pulled into the loading zone at CP right on time.  With all the things I had to unload it was good the hotel had a doorman (not to be confused with any other DoorMan I might be associated with), and the fact that my leg was troubling me it was beyond helpful.  

Karin had to return home to mind our cat, Sam.  We’ve been rather cautious about him since our other cat, Callie, got eaten by coyotes back in late summer.

I got checked in and took time to refresh for just a minute before the knock on the door from the bellman who brought up my sundry bags.  Then it was back down to the lobby to wait for Charlie, who drove us over to the studios of WBIR-TV (Channel 10, NBC affiliate for Knoxville).  We were greeted by the receptionist and sent down a long hallway to “the green room” where we awaited our television interview.

Actually Charlie has been interviewed by the folks on “Live at Five at Four” many times previously.  Therefore he was recognized by Beth Haynes as she walked through the green room–but it was getting close to broadcast time so she couldn’t stick around and chat much. (Just a hint here, Charlie seems to know EVERYONE in Knoxville, so this was just the first of many moments of him being recognized throughout the weekend–more on this later).

In just a few minutes we were greeted by the program’s producer, Lee Ann Bowman, who said–“Why don’t you come on in the studio?  It’s boring out here!”

I have to admit that I was under the impression that we’d have to remain very quiet during our time on the set–but it doesn’t work that way any more.  With newer microphone technology there was lots of noise on the set, and a good bit of bustle.  The only rule we were given was “do not step on the yellow cords on the studio floor”.  Actually they might have warned us not to step in front of the cameras, but guess they expected we’d know that.

Anyway, we were greeted by co-host Russell Biven, as soon as he and Beth had finished up their first segment and the cameras were turned toward the news desk, while the next segment was set up on the other side of the studio.  We were escorted to some chairs–slightly out of the way–and awaited our turn in front of the cameras.

There was no set up.  No instruction to speak of.  Other than a brief e-mail and phone exchange earlier in the day (before I left home) wherein Lee Ann got permission to use some of my webpage images on screen during the interview I had not been coached.

A husband and wife preceded us, so it was possible for me to observe the process they went through.  The two camera man team set them up with wireless mics as a local fireman demonstrated how to make “firehouse chili” over on the cooking set.  Then Beth and Russell casually sauntered across the studio while the local weather update went out.  They sat with the couple and interviewed them (although I didn’t feel nervous, I have to admit that I have no idea what they were talking about).

Then it was our turn.  The interesting thing is that the program went back to the news items, while Charlie and I were strapped with wireless mics and welcomed by Beth and Russell again.  They chatted with us as one would a guest in one’s home–then suddenly they turned to the cameras (again, as one would another guest) and announced what was going on to the TV audience, then turned to us and continued the conversation.

“Live at Five at Four” has been running for several years in the Knoxville market.  As you might expect it began as “Live at Five” but then expanded to encompass two hours.  I have no doubt this is at least partially due to the easy-going charisma of the two hosts.  It really was as natural an interview as I’ve ever been involved in–or could hope to be involved in.

Our interview done, Charlie took me from WBIR over to the News-Sentinel building–which truly impressed me.  An actual working newspaper in these days when so many papers are folding due to outside pressure.  I don’t know what the News-Sentinel is doing right, but there is no doubt that they ARE doing something right.  There were actual reporters in the newsroom writing actual stories (not just pulling stuff of the AP system).  Charlie introduced a number of staff members and the editor–who were all very warm and friendly.  Besides letting us know there would be coverage of our visit to the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital the next day, the editor also told me to get everyone in our group to do a cartoon for Sunday’s edition, and that they’d hold a whole page for our efforts!

That portion of the day complete, Charlie arranged to meet his wife, Patsy, at a nearby grocery store and they took me to dinner at Calhoun’s on the River.  A very nice restaurant, that we had considered for our group’s dinner–except it’s very noisy, and so not suited to conversation, at least not in a big group.

Had a great time talking to the Daniels, and also got to see the replicas of Pinta and Nina docked right next to the atrium of Calhoun’s!  (Much smaller ships than you’d expect–and to think these are like those that crossed the Atlantic in 1492).

But I was tired, my leg was hurting and so “Charlie’s Taxi Service” (as it came to be known as the weekend went on) took me back to CP for a night’s rest.

More later.

Cartoon and Illustration

Review for Queen of Escapes

Quoting from “Bish’s Beat” (italics mine).

“Writer Curtis Fernlund’s homage to the classic film serials of yesterday is a rousing, fast paced adventure that speeds from one danger-filled cliffhanger to the next. James Lyle provides marvelous interior illustrations and Andy Fish captures all the fun in his gorgeous cover painting, packaged and designed by Rob Davis.”

Nice to be noticed!  Below is the first of the “marvelous interior illustrations” to give you a taste of what is awaiting if you purchase a copy of Queen of Escapes in print form:

Or as a digital download (only $3):




Artwork © James E. Lyle.  All rights reserved.


Cartoon and Illustration

“Queen of Escapes” from Airship 27 Productions (that I illustrated) is available

I did not do the cover–but Andy Fish based the cover on one of the 9 interior illustrations I drew for this book.

Please notice that it is available at Amazon (as a print edition and an eBook), and the kindle version should be out today!  If this is a hit that would really help things around here as I get a percentage of the sales, and any hit will make a big impression on clients.

So if you’re a lover of Pulp style action-adventure and / or movie serials, this book is for you!




Airship 27 Productions is absolutely thrilled to announce the release of their newest pulp novel, “The Queen of Escapes,” by Curtis Fernlund.

“I grew up seeing serials like Republic’s King of the Rocketmen weekly at the local movie house,” says Airship 27 Managing Editor Ron Fortier.  “I have such fond memories of those great melodramas and over the years have collected many of them on VHS and then DVDs.  Serials were pretty much the film version of the pulps which is why I was so excited about The Queen of Escapes when it landed on my desk.  Serial fans are going to love this one.”

The time is 1935. After a decade of fame as the Queen of the Serials, Hollywood actress Gloria Swann is dismayed to see her box-office numbers dwindling with each new production.  Desperate to reclaim her popularity, she bankrolls her own film project; an over the top jungle adventure to be shot on location in the wilds of the Amazon rainforests of Brazil.

After the crew and cast arrive at their isolated destination, a series of accidents occur threatening the lives of several of the players.  The main target of these unexplained mishaps is Swann’s younger stunt double, Angela Morgan.  She suspects there are evil forces lurking in the jungle that threaten their safety.  Her only ally in this belief is Karl Braun, the veteran stun coordinator.  When Gloria Swann mysteriously disappears, Angela may be the only hope the Queen of Escapes has to survive.

Writer Curtis Fernlund’s homage to the classic film serials of the yesterday is a rousing, fast paced adventure that speeds from one danger-filled cliffhanger to the next.  James Lyle provides marvelous illustrations and Andy Fish captures all the fun in his gorgeous cover painting, designed by Rob Davis.

AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS – Pulp Fiction for a New Generation !

Available now at Amazon both in hard copy and on Kindle.


As a $3 PDF download at our website.


Cartoon and Illustration

“So how’d your reception go?”

It went a little like this:

(My opening remarks)


I’m so very glad that so many of you folks showed up for this event–because, let’s face it–it’s a bit like throwing a birthday party for myself… and if nobody showed up it would just be sad.


Interestingly enough, I am actually turning 50 on Thursday.  Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me…everybody duck down behind your seats and I’ll turn around and you yell “surprise!”


Actually this event has more to do with birthdays that it may seem to on the surface.  You see, Back in August of 1968 my Uncle, Reuben Mendez, showed up for my oldest brother’s birthday bearing a handfull of comic books.  I actually have those comics here–well, reasonable facsimilies–the original copies were pretty beat up by the time I got through elementary school.


In 1968 comic books cost 12¢ a piece.  Uncle Rube (who always had a knack for showing up with the BEST presents for little boys) brought copies of Batman, Detective Comics (also starring Batman), Superman, Superboy, The Flash, and Justice League of America.  That’s 6 comic books.  An investment of 72¢…plus tax, which in those days was 3% (I checked), so that’s 2.16¢ tax and they rounded up–so 75¢ total.


There were certainly other gifts that day, but I could have cared less.  Uncle Rube spent three Quarters on this particular gift and my entire life was affected.  So the lesson here is small things can have big effects!  I’ve spent most of my life in pursuit of trying to create something that moved me in the way I was moved that day.


Enough reminising for now! They asked me to talk about what I do.  So that we can get to the music part of the show, I’ll try to sum this up quickly and if you have specific questions you can ask them during the reception.


When I tell the average person I’m a cartoonist, they almost always ask, “Any specific paper you work for?”  And I have to tell them that I don’t work for any paper; that I draw comic books because I want people to know when I’m lying to them.


That usually shuts off the conversation pretty quickly.  I see that twinkle in the eye when they ask what paper I work for and know that more that likely they want to start a conversation about politics.  And I just don’t like to argue that much.  


However, I will give you some insight into my politics relative to my primary artistic medium:


I still view comic books as being a kid’s medium–optimally.  In spite of the fact that I’ve done a lot of comics that were not intended as children’s literature I’d still like comics to be something that kids can read–just the way I did when I was 4 going on 5.  Good guys versus bad guys–you can add sophisticated ideas if you like, but as far as I’m concerned comics were better when they were kid-friendly.  I’d really like the opportunity to do more of those, not juvenile per se, but rather books that work for both kids and grown ups.  Seems like few know how to do those sorts of stories these days, and the world is a poorer place for it.  I’m working on trying to bring those comics back.


There’s another group of people that I meet–this second group wants to know how to do what I do.  If the first group are those I’d rather not get into a conversation with, the second group probably wishes I’d shut up.  I’m way too enthusiastic about drawing comics, and can talk for hours on the subject.  Some of the people here today (particularly my wife, Karin) can attest to that fact.


But I’m going to try to explain what I do in a nutshell.


“Cartoon” refers to a type of drawing that emphasizes line work.  Because of my prediliction for depicting things in outlines, I am a cartoonist.


“Illustration” apparently refers to any work that is figurative and isn’t fine art–as defined by a lot of people I consider hopeless snobs.  Sorry, but illustration was considered a legitimate fine art until less than a hundred years ago.  So somebody has got it  wrong, and it’s not me.


“Comic Books” are acting on paper (or in pixels with the newer means of delivery), which one creates by using cartoon and illustration techniques.  The three are not synonymous–but are closely interconnected, and any comic book artist worth his or her salt engages in all three at some point or another.


So, in order to be a comic book artist (or graphic novelist, or sequential artist) one must know how to draw, certainly, but also how to act.  So I tell students (defined as anyone who wants to draw comics) that they 1) need to draw a lot, 2) in the process learn anatomy and perspective, and it really helps if they will 3) get some stage time.  Because in comics you have to play all the parts, as well as direct, and design all the costumes, props and sets.


That’s a lot of work, isn’t it?  No wonder it’s taken me so long to get to this point!


So if you’ll indulge me, I’m going to get some stage time with Gypsy Bandwagon–I’ll be playing the part of the percussionist.

Cartoon and Illustration

Something new!

People keep telling me that I need to post more artwork.  Okay, not a lot of time to do anything today, but here’s something new–a piece featuring Zenescope Comics’ Liesel Van Helsing character, that I just drew after finishing up a story she was featured in for Grimm Fairy Tales: Hunters #5, which will be coming out next week at a comic shop near you!


Character Copyright and Trademark of Zenescope Entertainment.  Artwork by James E. Lyle