Monday, July 31, 2006


I haven't forgotten to conduct my little experiment in ambidexterity.

In fact, I've conducted it. I did a generic head shot today with my left hand. Not really sure what I think of it but I never usually like the way things look when I draw with my right hand either.

I should have time tomorrow to scan and post it and I'll try to ink it this week, too. It's tempting to go back in and start tweaking things and correcting the drawing in right-handed fashion but I'm planning on inking it right handed anyway so...I'll just do it in ink. I also suspect that I'll transform this generic sketch into a Superman drawing while I ink it because I'm gay for Superman.

I have noticed that because I do work primarily in brush and ink that I no longer have any patience with pencil. I crave the bold, final line that ink supplies and have lost the ability to pencil tightly somewhere along the way. Now, in those rare times when I actually draw something, I pencil as quickly as possible to get it over with and jump right into inking, where I feel the most comfortable.

Any other comic artists have that same tendency?

Monday, July 24, 2006


What? I have a blog?? Crikey, I guess I'd better update it.

A little known Keith Champagne factoid is that I'm naturally left-handed, although my mother raised me to be right-handed. I'm not sure why it was important to her and it's not important to me at all but regardless, I have a pretty high level of dexterity with my opposite hand. Growing up, I've always unconsciously done things with my opposite side. I eat left-handed. I'm much more comfortable boxing southpaw. Even playing kickball growing up, I always kicked with my left leg.

I'm goofy, what can I say?

When I was in the Kubert School, I had a teacher named Tex Blaisdell. Tex was a grizzled old cartoonist, equally kind and crusty. Everyone loved him. He had spent most of his career inking, everything from Green Lantern to Superman to Batman during the 60's, 70's, and 80's. He also did a lot of newspaper strips, Little Orphan Annie being one that comes immediately to mind. Tex passed away about six or seven years ago after a lifetime of good, hard living.

Tex was famous for being able to draw equally well with both hands. If I remember the story correctly, he drank his way through a deadline and passed out at his drawing board, his drawing arm pinned underneath his torso. When he woke up however many hours later, his right arm was useless. He had damaged it somehow and it took literally months for his arm to regain its mobility.

So Tex didn't skip a beat. He just taught himself to draw and ink with his left hand and honed his dexterity to such a high level that he was equally skilled with either hand. He used to joke that once his right arm healed, he could work twice as fast. Who knows, maybe he wasn't joking?

This is my long-winded way of saying that, inspired by Tex, this past weekend I started
sketching with my left hand. The end results seem pretty much the same to me, a little looser and sketchier but the information is all there. I think I'm going to continue working this way. I have some wacky theory that drawing with my opposite hand taps into the opposite side of brain and somehow makes me more creative or something weird like that.

So my plan here is to draw something left handed and then ink it with my right and post it up when I'm finished. I don't have a lot of free time to produce artwork when I'm not getting paid for it but hopefully, the experimental nature of this piece will inspire me to see it all the way through.

So stay tuned and let's see what happens.

Monday, July 10, 2006

This means WAR!!

By far, the best thing about the boring UFC 61 fight card on Saturday night was the announcement that PRIDE middleweight champion Wanderlei "The Ax Murderer" Silva would be invading the octagon in November to fight UFC Middleweight champion Chuck Lidell.

The hardcore MMA fan has been drooling for years at the thought of an interpromotional dream match like this. Hopefully, it's just the tip of the iceberg. My head would probably explode if Fedor Emelianenko, pound for pound the universally agreed upon greatest fighter in the world today, decided to crash the UFC's party and show them how it's really done.

I was going to write about some of the possibilities and ramifications of the Silva/Lidell match until I came across the following post by Zach Arnold at He's much smarter and more well spoken than I am so if this kind of topic interests you, hit the link below.

Exciting times to be an MMA fan. It's gratifying to see the public catch up with the most exciting sport in the world.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Absolute Watchmen

I haven't posted anything comic-related in a while so...

I recently received the ABSOLUTE WATCHMEN collection that I ordered from the fine folks at Earth 2 Comics ( Earth 2 is located in Sherman Oaks, CA and Carr and Judd run a great store. I can't recommend their services highly enough so there's a little plug for Earth 2.

I've been slowly rereading WATCHMEN, really enjoying seeing the artwork printed oversized, and have been reminded just how much ass this comic kicks. For a story that I've read fifteen times in the past fifteen years, I'm still seeing new things in the backgrounds or uncovering new subtext in the story. In fact, before I die, I'll probably someday really figure out the pirate comic within the comic.

Much smarter people than me have written about the groundbreaking technical achievements contained between the pages and every word is true. The Rorschach issue, for example, that is laid out so that the second half of the story mirrors the first the way the two halves of a rorschach blot mirror each other is a truly remarkable bit of storytelling. It makes my brain hurt just thinking about trying to plan something like that out. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons threw in everything and the kitchen sink and in spite of all the groundbreaking they were doing, they wisely never forget to center the story around the characters. To me, character should always dictate plot, not vice versa. I think I learned that on a subconscious level from this book when I was a teenager.

Reading it with fresh eyes, I'm also surprised to see how influential Watchmen is. A show like LOST is a great example of this. Take a look at the way they continue to explore the flashback stuff from different perspectives and then see how Watchmen did it, almost twenty years earlier. I'm planning on ripping it off myself in a Green Lantern Christmas story I'll be writing soon, in abbreviated fashion.

For the record, the Dr. Manhattan on Mars issue is my favorite of the series, followed by the Rorschach origin. In fact, those are probably my two favorite single issues of any comic book ever. And I've read a LOT of comics over the years.

I could ramble on all day and not make much sense so I guess what I'm saying is I truly LOVE this book. I remember loving it to death when I was a junior in high school, picking up each issue as they arrived in the stores and I love it even more now. If you're a comic fan and you've never read it, treat yourself. And if you have, go read it again because it's well worth the time.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Critical Countdown

I've been biding my time before, like the rest of the world, I post my thoughts on the new Superman movie so as not to spoil it. Suffice to say, I liked it quite a bit. It's not a perfect film and I don't agree with every choice Bryan Singer made but it's a worthy restart to the franchise and I'm looking forward to the sequel.

In the meantime, PRIDE FC, the world's largest mixed martial arts organization, held the second round of their open weight grand prix over the weekend in Japan and it was a fantastic card. Anyone that has gotten into MMA with the recent success and rise of the UFC should do themselves a favor and check out a PRIDE card. It's where the big boys play.

I was particularly impressed with Wanderlei Silva's destruction of Japanese heavyweight Kazuyuki Fujita. It was an intriquing match up due to the weight difference (Silva fights at 205 while Fujita is about 40 pounds heavier) and also because Fujita's incredibly thick skull (medically proven in Japan to be thicker than an average human skull) has shown it's almost impossible to knock him out.

Silva didn't manage to knock him out but he did stagger him pretty well late in the first round, unleashing a hurricane of punches, hammerfists, and soccer kicks. Fujita took enough unanswered damage that the referee wisely stopped the fight. Silva moves on to the semi's.

Joining him there will be Josh Barnett, who used the same strategy he tried in his first fight against CroCop to take Mark Hunt down as quickly as possible. He quickly and easily submitted Hunt with a kimura in about two minutes. Barnett looked great physically, in much better shape than he's been in years. He actually almost had abs and considering that his waistline always looks like three spare tires competing for dominance, that's saying something. It looks like he's pretty serious about fighting.

Noguiera and Fabricio Werdum had what I felt was the best fight of the night, a back and forth battle between two world class jiu jitsu fighters. Nog took the decision because, while the fight was standing, his boxing technique was more polished. Their brief exchanges of BJJ technique on the ground were beautiful while they lasted.

Finally, Cro Cop kicked the hell out of Yoshida's leg until he couldn't stand up any longer. Shades of Marco Ruas against Paul Varelens in early UFC. Those leg kicks hurt. I've been hit with a few delivered at half speed in training and couldn't help but wince. I can't imagine what a kick delivered with full CroCrop power must have felt like. Probably a sledgehammer hitting in the exact same spot over and over and over until the leg finally gives out.

It's a fantastic final four. I'm hoping for Silva/Crocop and Barnett/Nogueira in the semi's, mainly because I don't want to see Crocop/Barnett for the third time unless they have to meet in the finals.

The undercard also impressed. I was glad to see Pawel Nastula (Olympic Gold Medalist in Judo) pick up his first win in the Pride ring. He's a tough fighter who's been thrown to the wolves so far. Also good to see Vitor Belfort pick up a win although with Vitor, who knows what will happen next. He's the world's most confusing fighter.

Pride rocks. Check it out sometime.