Cartoon and Illustration

Creating a franchise out of nothing but imagination

So almost a month ago I was at the regular cartoonists meeting in Asheville–talking with Daryl Slaton <;

Daryl was telling me about various adventures at marketing shows he’s attended and how it seems that it’s possible to sell all sorts of imagery IF one attaches some sort of narrative to it.

This had to percolate in my head for a while, but then the other day I started thinking about some dragon drawings that I’d done a number of years back and how they’re just sitting around gathering dust (and not gathering interest).  So putting two and two together, here’s what I came up with:


Tales behind the Scales Series One No. 1

This is Humphrey–he’s in charge of collecting all the discarded shells from roasted chestnuts.  While he’s very busy during the Christmas season, he tends to nap through most of summer.

Humphrey has a great affection for butterscotch candies.


Tales behind the Scales

Series One No. 2

This is Tristan.  His main occupations are controlling the melting rate of ice cubes and making certain that all andirons have a nice even coating of soot.

Tristan’s best friend is a rather bulgy black bear who answers to the name “Hereford” (but was actually christened Wallace).

What I actually did was take the old black and white drawings I did of these two dragons and color them.  They had already been previously colored differently for some tee-shirt designs that I worked on, but I only sold the first rights to the line art.  So why not?

The descriptive lines are the sort of thing I often tell my wife as a bedtime story, or to amuse her on long drives.  My usual obscure random stuff–that makes her laugh.  Although I should admit that she supplied the name “Tristan” as a good dragon name.

Of course I’m anticipating that someone will come along and argue that these are obviously Chinese dragons–therefore they’ll claim that the English names are out of place.  I will have to disagree.  I can Anglicize them if I like.  They’re my dragon drawings–I can do what I want with them.  If someone else wants to make up a set of dragons and name them equally inappropriately I won’t argue with them.  I’m not trying to insult anyone, just being silly.

On the practical front:  I have a few unused 8 x 10″ mats designed for 5 x 7″ photo prints, in various colors.  These came out of my father-in-law’s basement stash of unused print paraphernalia, and the colors are decidedly early 80s in hues.  So I designed Humphrey and Tristan to match those, printed out a few proofs and stuck them in said mats.  I’ve got a few shows prior to Christmas, so I’m going to see if they sell.  It can’t hurt to try.

If (by some odd stroke of providence) these sell really well, I’ve got a full dozen more ideas for dragon designs, names, and stories.  Who knows?  It might be the new Cabbage Patch Kids!

Of course I’ve saved the artwork in larger format in case people want posters, tee-shirts and such.  You never can tell.

Which is to say that at present I’m throwing everything I’ve got at the wall to see what sticks!

Tales behind the Scales legends and all related artwork are copyright © James E. Lyle.  All rights reserved.
Cartoon and Illustration

Interlude–Nick Cardy

I found out last night that Nick Cardy passed away.  I’m saddened to hear about this, not that I knew him all that well.  But I did pass some time with him at a number of conventions.

Several years ago Shelton Drum started seating me with “the old guys” at Heroes Convention.  I didn’t mind a bit.  These guys were my heroes since I was a little kid and one year I got seated next to Nick Cardy.  

That particular weekend my wife and I had misunderstood a message from her brother and he, his wife and five kids were coming to visit at that same time.  Well, I had to go to the show, but Karin packed me a big container of oatmeal raisin cookies to eat while I was away–and to share with friends.  Like Nick Cardy.  I offered him a cookie and he politely declined at first.

We struck up a conversation and he started calling me “Jel” because that’s what my signature looks like on the artwork I display.

I was doing my best not to spend too much at the show, and so when lunchtime came around and someone brought two Arby’s sandwiches for Nick he said to me, “I can’t eat all this!  Here, you take one of these sandwiches!”

Later on during the show, he needed to take some medication, but didn’t want to on an empty stomach.  He called to me, “Hey Jel!  Can I have one of those cookies?”

“Sure, I’ll share my cookies with Nick Cardy any day!”  I was happy to do it.  And I have to admit I bragged to all my friends about it for days afterward.

So while all the other artists out there are blogging about how they were inspired by Nick’s approach to comic art, I get to say that I shared a sandwich and cookies with Nick Cardy.  It’s not that I’m not inspired by Nick’s work–very much so, actually–but it’s just so cool to be able to say that we had a personal moment.  I’ll always remember that.

Cartoon and Illustration

Knoxville Notes–part 2

Okay, so did I mention that Charlie Daniel drove me all over Knoxville during my visit there last week?  Did I also mention that Charlie knows everyone in Knoxville?  The photos here are of me and Charlie on “Live at Five at Four” last Thursday (October 24, 2013), just in case nobody believes I was on TV–here’s proof.Image

These photos were actually taken off the TV screen by Charlie’s wife and daughter who were miles away, so that’s double proof that not only was I in a TV studio, people actually saw it going out over the air.  We followed a local fireman who was making firehouse chili, and the local TV doctor (Doctor Bob) telling folks about the pitfalls of using decongestants.  Of course Charlie knew Doctor Bob, and the two exchanged warm pleasantries as he finished up his segment and we awaited our own. (Forgot to mention that in the last segment).

The next morning I was up at 6:30 for our radio interview at Star 102.1 during the Mark and Kim show.  I should have taken my camera, but let’s face it–up at 6:30?  I’m a late night type.  I was in the studio until 11:30 last night.  I need one of those tee-shirts that says, “I don’t DO mornings!”  But for the sake of publicizing the event I was up at 6:30.  Had a hearty first breakfast of prunes and ginseng tea in my room.

Yes, I’ll admit it now that I’m 50.  I am a prune guy.  I actually started taking prunes a few years back and the results have been positive.  Picked this habit up from my father-in-law.  And considering I take a number of vitamin supplements every morning, I need something on my stomach before heading out into the world.  So prunes it was.  Got showered and shaved and met Charlie downstairs and was whisked off to the interview with Mark and Kim.  We listened to the broadcast in the car on the way over, then sat in the parking lot waiting for someone to let us in the building in time for our 8 am interview.

Eventually they did let us in and we sat in the “business” area of the station for a few minutes before Kim came out and introduced herself…to me…she already knew Charlie, of course.  Went inside to meet Mark…me that is…Charlie knew him already.  Everyone oohed and ahhed over my “radio voice” and told me I sounded just like their weather guy.  So if my drawing arm ever goes, I guess I can take up radio announcing.

Again, being frank here, I don’t recall much of what specifically I said on the air.  Apparently it was all cool because no summons from the FCC have appeared.  Generally we did get to promote our visit to the Children’s Hospital and the events on Saturday.  Mark and Kim are big supporters of East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and so that’s mostly what they wanted to talk about–and so we did.

When we were done Charlie and I got back in his car, and he drove me to Hardee’s for a sausage biscuit and milk.  We listened to Mark and Kim on the way out and found out that Kim was going to be going on hiatus after that shift to undergo treatments for cancer.  I had no idea about that–but then again, I think most of the listening audience had no idea either, prior to that point.  But it only made our plans to visit Children’s Hospital all the more important–not that Kim was going to be at ETCH, but the importance of these types of visits were made more clear.

Charlie dropped me off at the Crowne Plaza again so he could go do his “doodle for the day” at Knoxville News-Sentinel.  I would have liked to have taken a nap, but was too awake–and also knew I’d end up with hair that looked like Gumby’s head if I did that.  So I sat up and did some doodles of my own.

Knowing I was supposed to be doing a cartoon for the Sunday paper, I did one of Muggzy the Penguin contemplating the Sun Sphere.  Unfortunately with the awesome view I had from my room (1009) in the Crowne Plaza–I’m sorry to say that I could NOT see the Sun Sphere from there.  It’s the one landmark that’s actually blocked from view!  (Thanks a lot TVA towers!).  So I faked the Sun Sphere–and it showed in my cartoon.

Then about 11:00 I decided to go get some lunch.  Knowing that many of our group would be looking for lunch (in all the wrong places) I decided to visit Market Square and see what was available.  After walking around the square for a few minutes I finally decided on “Soccer Taco”.  A good choice on Friday before noon, as they had plenty of space and I got a booth by my self.  Had the Taco Salad and a big glass of lemonade.  In and out in less than 30 minutes.

Went back to CP and met Charlie at 12:30.  Told him that we’d have to paint checkers on his car if this kept up.

From there we went to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital…