A good way to test your drawing skills is to pick a character from the Star Wars universe.
In this case, I picked Ahsoka Tano.
Ahsoka Tano was first introduced in the 2008 animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and the television series that followed afterwards. Ahsoka is best known in Star Wars Rebels, which was another animated television series. She also has a voice over cameo in the last Star Wars theatrical release, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Originally voiced by Ashley Eckstein, it’s heavily rumored that Ahsoka will be portrayed by Rosario Dawnson in the next season of The Mandalorian. If true, the Dawnson casting has not been officially confirmed by Disney as of yet.
Since 2008, a whole new generation grew up with the Ahsoka character, and renegade Jedi character has grown along with them.
Haven’t really watched Rebels myself, as I’m more familiar with the film trilogies. So the detail in this sketch might be slightly off. I can always do another rendition of Ahsoka down the road. Ever since I was told of these casting rumors, figured, might as well try to draw her. Besides, I finally had a chance to watch The Mandalorian thanks to the quarantine. Oh, and there’s also rumors of Boba Fett being featured in the Mandalorian second season. Anyway, the sketch was done in pen, ink, and watercolor.
In other news, next episode of my webcomic will be up shortly.
Later in my teen years, I brought a later pressing of Kings of The Wild Frontier. By then Adam Ant’s star was slightly beginning to fade. Didn’t matter, still loved the album. In fact, I brought the album again, later on CD format. There were other classics too. Who can forget such songs, like Stand And Deliver. There’s countless others, but I went and illustrated Adam from his Prince Charming days.
Before Adam went solo, it should be noted that his band used two drummers, otherwise known as Burundi Beat. Burundi Beat was taken from African musicians. Discovered by French anthropologists, the original Burundi musicians recorded, and had musical careers of their own. Later on, Adam and The Ants, and later Bow Wow Wow used this method, incorporating double drumming. It should be noted that the British New Wave concept of Burundi Beat came from none other than the notorious Malcolm McLaren himself. Speaking of Bow Wow Wow, McLaren ever the opportunist, swiped drummers from the original Ants line-up and threw in a thirteen year old Annabella Lwin to front a new band. That’s okay – Adam hooked up with Marco Pirroni, to form the classic Ants line-up that found world domination.
Two other curious tidbits from Ant history. Pirroni was one of the first ever guitarists for Siouxsie and The Banshees. Meanwhile, before Jon Moss found success with Culture Club, he beat the skins for the Ants, as well as The Damned.
It wasn’t until years later I FINALLY had the chance to see Adam Ant live. After decades Adam Ant put his old pirate gear on, and performed the classics. It was winter of 2017. Unfortunately in my opinion, I was slightly disappointed. It felt like he rushed through the set of old Ant ditties, rushing through songs. Guess he must be tired of performing them, and you could sense he was doing it for the money. Hey; everyone has to eat, right? I had another chance to rectify the situation when I won free tickets to see Adam Ant live yet again. However, Test Dept was playing the same night at Brooklyn Bazaar. I gave my Adam Ant tickets to a friend and headed to Brooklyn for the Test Dept gig. Perhaps third time will be a charm.
Without further ado, here’s my Adam Ant sketch. Done in pen, ink, watercolor, shimmer watercolor, and a tiny bit of digital enhancement. During his Prince Charming period. Btw. The promo video had one of the last appearances by British actress Diana Dors.
Been on a kick lately. Listening to music from the late ’70s and early ’80s. Which means lots of classic New Wave and Punk Rock.
Due to this, it was time for a portrait of Poly Styrene. For those who don’t know, Poly Styrene is best known as the lead vocalist for the seminal British Punk band X-Ray Spex. X-Ray Spex’s album Germ Free Adolescence is considered a Punk classic.
Born to a Scottish-Irish mother and Somali-born father, Poly was born Marianne Joan Elliott-Said in 1957 England. Her mother raised her as a single parent. After trying her hand in Ska and Reggae, Poly was inspired to form a band after catching The Sex Pistols in concert. That band was X-Ray Spex.
Poly Styrene sitting among other female vocalists from her time, such as Siouxsie Sioux, Deborah Harry, Chrissie Hynde, Pauline Black and Viv Albertine (from The Slits)
Poly Styrene sitting among other female vocalists from her time, such as Siouxsie Sioux, Deborah Harry, Chrissie Hynde, Pauline Black and Viv Albertine (from The Slits)
After performing at a gig in 1978, Poly started getting visions. Her mother, alarmed about Poly’s hallucinations, took her to the hospital. There, the singer was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, and taken out of the public eye. Thirteen years later in 1991, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In 1983, she converted into the Hare Krishna faith.
Around 1980 she embarked on a solo career. Poly Styrene released a few albums over the past few decades. Her last album, Generation Indigo was produced by Martin Glover, best known as Youth from the band Killing Joke. Generation Indigo was released on April 24, 2011, a day before Poly’s passing. The cause of death was metastatic breast cancer.
In 2017, her daughter started a crowd funding online for the documentary Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché. Two years later in 2019, a biography titled Dayglo! was published. The documentary is expected to be finished in 2020, unless Covid19 gets in the way.
Without further ado, here’s a portrait of Poly Styrene, in one of her famous stage outfits. After doing the illustration, I read that Poly later complained about the ensemble. While I could understand why she wasn’t fond of the gear, like many others, I beg to differ. If anything, it would be considered highly couture today. The illustration was done in pen, ink and watercolor. Another little bit of irony. After just finishing the piece, I discovered Poly Styrene’s birthday was only a few days away, on July 3rd.
Last night was Walpurgis, also known as Walpurgistnacht. It’s a hoilday based in European tradition. It could be Catholic or Pagan, depending on how it’s celebrated. Walpurgistnacht, according to Wikipedia: ‘In Germany, Hexennacht (“Witches’ Night”), the night from 30 April to 1 May, is the night when witches are reputed to hold a large celebration on the Brocken and await the arrival of spring and is held on the same night as Saint Walpurgis Night (Sankt Walpurgisnacht).’
In honor of Walpurgistnacht, here’s an illustration. Hand drawn, pen and ink.
Here’s an illustration finished earlier today. It’s archangel Michael, better known as St. Michael. Done in pen, ink, regular watercolor and shimmer watercolor. Too bad the scan doesn’t pick up on the shimmer paints.
“Saint Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and the other evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.”
The last of a three post tribute to Genesis P-Orridge, who passed away on March 14th, 2020. P–Orridge had been battling leukemia for two years, so the passing wasn’t a surprise. S/he was 70 years old.
As stated in previous posts, Genesis P-Orridge was many things. Among them, a poet, an artist in both fine and performance art, archivist, musician, occultist, and all around trangressor. Between 1993 – 2009, Genesis went under a series of body and face modifications with S/he wife Lady Jaye under ‘The Pandrogeny Project.’ The goal was to create a third gender. This is the reason for the S/he pronoun after 1993.
Genesis’ path towards creative transgression started after leaving art university sometime during the late 60s, Gen joined a London counter culture commune. These communes were popular during those days. After moving back to Hull, he met Christine Carol Newby, better known as Cosey Fan Tutti. Tutti and P-Orridge became a couple, and formed COUM Tranmissions.
Influenced by the Dada movement, the performance art collective specialized in subversive confrontation. Subject matter included taboos such as prostitution and pornography.
In fact, it was the art performance of ‘The Prostitution Show‘ that gathered the attention of not only the British press, but of Parliament. It was a conservative MP who declared the event, and persons involved to be “wreckers of civilization”.
Industrial has since morphed into various other sub-genres. If it wasn’t for Throbbing Gristle, certain bands wouldn’t even exist. One prime example is mainstream rock act *Nine Inch Nails. (Later, Christopherson, who formed the band Coil, got into directing music promo videos. Christopherson later directed videos for Nine Inch Nails)
Throbbing Gristle continued on their subversive mission. Their first gig abroad was performed in front of the Berlin Wall, before the unification. In 1980, the four piece performed a concert at an English all boys boarding school.
On May 29th, 1981, Throbbing Gristle played their last concert in San Francisco, California, U.S.A. Gen and Sleazy went on to form Psychic TV. Sleazy later broke off from Psychic TV to begin his own band Coil. The other half became Chris and Cosey, later known as Carter Tutti.
In 2009 TG embarked on U.S. tour. In New York, they played a series of concerts at a Brooklyn masonic hall, and at Le Poisson Rouge. I was lucky enough to see both TG concerts at the Brooklyn masonic temple. Not just once, but twice. During intermission TG had a meet and greet. Below are autographs in a sketch pad.
Although I should’ve done this already, I still haven’t gotten those signatures framed. The sketchbook is tucked away somewhere in my home.
Below is a very bad cellphone recording of TG during one of those nights.
Throbbing Gristle hit another snag again in October 2010. Genesis P-Orridge announced s/her’s departure, and the rest of TG continued to tour under X-TG. The band broke up for good following the death of Sleazy. Sleazy died in his sleep, November 2010.
Which brings me to Marc Bolan. My introduction to the ’70s Glam band T Rex was through covers by Bauhaus, Violent Femmes, The Power Station, Siouxsie and The Banshees, etc. Being curious, I decided to go straight to the source.
For those who don’t know who Marc Bolan is, here goes. Marc Bolan, real name Marc Feld. His father was an Askenazi Jew, his mother English. Marc was born for the showbiz life. He first appeared as an extra on the British television show Orlando as a Mod. Age nine he was given his first guitar, and his life course was set. After being expelled from school at the age of 15, he tried modelling. It’s rumored he was bisexual, piling his trade as a ‘rent boy.’ In 1964, Marc met his first manager. The result was one of Bolan’s professional recordings. The track was in the style of U.K. teen idol Cliff Richard. Marc soon moved on to a second manager. He had changed his style, adopting a Boho-chic look. The contract was later sold to a landlord to back off back rent, in which the contract was later destroyed. In 1965, Marc signed Decca Records. It was this point Marc switched his stage name to Marc Bolan. Two Decca released singles went nowhere. In 1966, British music producer Simon Napier-Bell, met Bolan, listening to Bolan’s claims about how he was going to be a ‘big star.’ Napier-Bell was managing The Yardbirds at that point. He put Bolan in the band John’s Children, which had some success. It was short-lived, so Marc had to reconstruct his plans for stardom. Influenced by fantasy and romance, he came back with the first formation of T Rex, originally known as Tyrannosaurus Rex
Tyrannosaurus Rex gained a cult following among the U.K.’s Hippie subculture, releasing four Psychedelic-Folk-Rock albums. However, Marc wanted more. Despite charting success, percussionist Steve Peregrin Took was terminated due to drug use. Tyrannosaurus Rex then developed into T Rex, adding electric to the sound. Took was replaced with Mickey Finn on the bongos.
1970 saw the release of the rebooted formation with the self titled album T Rex. As the cliche goes, the rest is history. Marc reinvented himself yet again, setting the bar for what would be known as ‘Glam Rock.’
The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. This also synchronized with David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust era. In fact, both T Rex and Bowie worked with the same music producer, American Tony Visconti and the same manager, Les Conn. Hippies were replaced with teenage fans as Marc performed on stage wearing satin and glitter. This is the iconic T Rex everyone knows. At one point T Rex was as huge as The Beatles over in his native country. T Rex did have success over in the U.S., with the top 40 hit ‘Bang A Gong’, but never as massive as they were back in the U.K. With releases such as Electric Warriorand The Slider, the band was rumored to be selling 100,000 records a day.
It really should be noted that Marc would probably never had the success if it wasn’t for his wife, June Ellen Child. June Child already had connections within the British music industry, and was instrumental in T Rex’s success. Finally Marc achieved the rock star status he so desired.
Marc and June on their wedding day
Marc Bolan and June Child
Marc Bolan and June Child
The wave continued to ride high, appearing in Ringo Starr’s film, Born To Boogie. After the album Tanx in 1973, the success T Rex had started to taper off. His marriage was disintegrating too. Marc found new love with American R&B singer Gloria Jones. Jones has her own interesting history. She was involved with Motown. Finding success in the U.K., she was the Queen of the Northern Soul movement. Most importantly, Jones was the original vocalist for the song Tainted Love, later made internationally famous by ’80s New Wave band Soft Cell.
Marc and Gloria’s paths first crossed in 1969. It wasn’t until 1972, when Jones got a gig as T Rex’s backup singer. You can guess the rest, as Jones and Bolan became romantically involved. Out of that union, Jones gave birth to their only son, Rolan Bolan in 1975. By that time, Bolan’s star was fading. He had gained a bit of weight, acquired a drug habit, and record sales slowly declined. Jones and Bolan continued to collaborate. In 1975 Jones did background vocals for the T Rex album Bolan’s Zip Gun. Unfortunately the tenth studio album did poorly, only being released in the U.K. (The American version was Light of Love, released on then new Casablanca record label) Another pairing for Jones’ 1976 album Vixen. Jones continued her tenure with T Rex with the albums Futuristic Dragon and Dandy In The Underworld.
Marc’s luck turned around in 1977, when he landed his own variety show on Granada Television. Now this synchronized with the imminent U.K. Punk movement. (The Damned opened up for T Rex on a later British tour) Marc had a few appearances from bands like The Jam and Generation X (with future ’80s New Wave superstar Billy Idol). Thin Lizzy also did a guest spot on Marc. The rest was littered with local performers, never to be heard from again. David Bowie was the most significant delegate, with a spot on the last Marc episode. Bowie was both a rival and a friend – but later proved himself to be a loyal friend as we’ll find out later.
Marc was renewed by Granada, but the next season never came to be. After celebrating on September 16, 1977, Marc and Gloria got into a car crash. Jones was the driver of the Mini 1275GT. While Jones survived, Bolan died instantly. Marc Bolan was only two weeks from his 30th birthday.
While the funeral was taking place, Gloria Jones was hospitalized in a coma. When she came to, to her horror she discovered the home she had shared with Marc had been looted dry. Matters were further complicated because Bolan never divorced his estranged wife June. This meant that Bolan’s assets was tied up, freezing out both Jones and child. Skipping the U.K. legal inquiry over the car crash, Jones and son returned back to Los Angles, California. Jones continued to be involved with the music industry, but destitute. This is where David Bowie comes into play. Bowie just happened to be the godfather to Rolan Bolan. Refusing to let Rolan suffer, Bowie stepped in providing financial assistance, paying for Rolan’s education. It was all due to Bowie’s loyalty towards friendship he shared with Marc Bolan. It wasn’t until June Child’s death in Back in the U.K., a plaque was placed where the crash occurred. For decades, the site has, become a small pilgrimage to T Rex fans.
Over the years, people have held torches in Marc’s memory. Marc On Wax was a label run by two former heads of Bolan’s fan club. Most importantly, the influence Marc and T Rex had continues. As mentioned earlier, many late ’70s/’80s Post-Punk and Alternative bands have covered many a T Rex ditty.
As for Gloria, she later co-founded with the Light of Love Foundation UK, a music school in Sierra Leone, West Africa named in honor of Marc. Called Marc Bolan School Of Music, it gives children opportunities to learn all facets of music and film. Oh, and in 2007, she did a duet with Marc Almond once on a U.K. stage performing Tainted Love.
Honestly, I don’t know why there’s hasn’t been a biopic film about Marc. If they can do one on Freddie Mercury and Elton John, surely they can do one on Marc. I digress.
Now that you’ve read more about Marc Bolan than you originally wanted to, here’s my portrait of him, just in time for his induction into the class of 2020, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Hand drawn, pen, ink and watercolor. There’s a tiny bit of sheen and glimmer with the watercolor, but I don’t think Marc would’ve minded. Here’s a little Marc in your heart.
Out of all the greeting cards I’ve designed, the most popular one is Krampus. It was the first card released, and still remains popular. It’s been a while however, and my Krampuskarten needs an update.
So I present to you…my latest greeting card. Krampus In Love.
Krampus and his honey were originally hand drawn.
The card size should be around 4 x 7 in size, comes with envelope inside with plastic wrapping. If anyone is interested, please send $4.00 to Venmo: Witchipoo or PayPal: email@example.com. Just say you want the ‘Krampus In Love’ greeting card.
I’ve also sketched St. Nicholas. He’s not available on a greeting card, unless there’s enough demand. Everyone seems to want Krampus! Well, who can blame them?
Yesterday we heard the news. Lil Bub, one of the first major internet cats passed away. She was eight years old.
To say Lil Bub was unique is an understatement. Born to a feral cat, Lil Bub was not only the runt of the litter, but suffered many ailments. Along with her many genetic mutations, she had feline dwarfism. This did not stop her from becoming one of the world’s most famous and beloved cats.
Within a span of five years she already had books, a web series, highly anticipated personal appearances, an album, merchandise, and a documentary under her furry belt.
They used to say a dog is a man’s best friend. Nowadays, cats rule with a velvet paw. Five years ago, the first holy trinity of internet cats came to be: Colonel Meow, Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub. Grumpy Cat was the most famous, but Lil Bub was the holiest of the holy.
Colonel Meow and Lil Bub
Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub
Colonel Meow was the first to pass away in 2014. Grumpy cat passed away earlier in 2019. Now with Lil Bub gone, it’s the end of an era.
Lil Bub’s human, Mike Bridavsky decided to turn down Grumpy Cat’s management, headed by Ben Lashes. Instead, Bridavsky decided to share proceeds with animal charities, focusing on special need and homeless pets. Lil Bub also helped contribute to science. After a crowd funding campaign, researchers discovered Lil Bub had a mutation in gene RANK/TNFRSF11A. The findings were published on the website bioRxiv.
Science aside, Lil Bub always found a way to warm your hearts. Her human used to joke that Lil Bub came from outer space. Now it seems like she left earth. While today cats flood social media, no other cat has come close to making an impact like the way the original holy internet cat trilogy did. Particularly with Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub. Only recently the torch has been passed down to Smudge Lord.
I’ve always wanted to do a portrait of Lil Bub. After all, I did portraits of Colonel Meow and Grumpy Cat (Colonel Meow was always my personal favorite. Grumpy came in a close second.) Of course, I never got around to doing it. You would think I would have – especially after meeting Lil Bub back in 2013. It was only the day after her death I decided to do a tribute. Done in pen and ink.
Now that Lil Bub has gone back to outer space, planet Earth has become a little darker. While she was alive, she helped make the world a kinder place. Good job, Bub.
There’s been so much global strife lately. The U.S. isn’t faring any better. In the mist of all the upheaval, we learned that a certain cat named Tardar Sauce recently passed away. Better known to everyone as “Grumpy Cat“, the cat was only seven years old.
Around 2011 or 2012, the internet started exploding with celebrity animals, particularly cats. From the humble beginnings of memes posted on site like Reddit, the LOLcat phenomenon grew. The original Holy Trinity of internet cats were Colonial Meow, Grumpy Cat, and Lil Bub. Now only Lil Bub remains.
Colonel Meow. January 2013. Watercolor. Illustration by Michele Witchipoo.
I met Tardar Sauce back in summer 2014. It was a book signing at Barnes & Noble, the Union Square location in Manhattan, NYC. There was an opportunity to meet this infamous Grumpy Cat, in town to promote her latest book “The Grumpy Guide to Life: Observations from Grumpy Cat.”
When I arrived at the bookstore to secure my position on line, there was a mother and son team. The duo were the first fans in line, wearing matching Grumpy Cat shirts. A few elder crazy cat ladies showed up. As the crowd developed, Grumpy’s fan base were from all backgrounds and ages. Despite her disgruntled disposition, Tardar Sauce made a national impact.
The strangest part was not the press, nor the hype. When Grumpy Cat arrived to the signing, half the crowd started screaming as if it was Beatlemania.
Grumpy branched out into mass merchandising. Besides books, there was beverages, clothing, calendars, even a comic. At the time of her death, Grumpy had stamped her well marketed paw on perfume and Sketcher footwear.
Here’s my Grumpy Cat portrait, done back in 2012.
Today’s ‘Caturday’ post is dedicated to Grumpy Cat.
Rest in peace Grumpy. (April 4, 2012 – May 14, 2019)