Santa lives at the North Pole is some strange commune where everything is hand-made and home-grown. He just sits up there and judges the rest of us all year long.
Thanks to everyone who contributed! Here are some of my favorites:

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays/Season's Greetings!



Part One of PROJECT: ZERO focuses on is character design and a full character turn around. This would have been a lot easier if he was symmetrical, but I think his asymmetry lends some of his charm.

This is Zero, aka Michael McManus. He's a character I've been drawing and refining since some time in 2005. Full disclosure - yes, he is somewhat based on me, at least physically. I made all sorts of key changes to ensure that he wasn't exactly me... like he has sideburns and stubble instead of a beard and he's a musician instead of a graphic artist. I also made him Irish for some reason. I just like their last names and after searching through tons of them, liked McManus the best. His first name actually came from the archangel Michael. I'm not religious, but religions interest me. Doing some research at some point in my life, I read that there are two archangels: Gabriel and Michael. Gabriel is the messenger while Michael is the protector. This was perfect for when I was toying with the idea of Zero being some kind of hero. "Zero" obviously has connotations as a name, but then to have his secret identity have other connotations was really interesting to me.

His appearance, besides reflecting my own, is meant to show his rock n roller status. His shirt color has changed over the years, but he's always had those red shoes. At one point he had red shoes, a red watch, a red bandana on his other wrist, a red belt and red on his shirt collar and sleeves. Way too matchy-matchy. Then he went through a period where everything was super desaturated. Wearing gray and black with just his red shoes. Too dull. I've been having fun in my recent paintings matching the boy's shoes to either his jacket or his shirt so I tried it on Zero and liked the result. He also had a goatee for a long time, but I recently traded that in for the less aggressive stubble. His ripped jeans are a nod to the 80s/90s when that was really cool. Finally, his t-shirt has a v-neck just to make it a little more different than an average crew neck t-shirt.

So that's Zero.

PS- I made an animated GIF of his turn around, but it absolutely trashed his colors. If anyone has any advice on better GIF animators for Mac OS X (no higher than 10.4), let me know! I used GIFBuilder, by the way.
(click to see him spin forever)



I actually don't own this card, so I had to borrow the image from Comic Collector Live. Iceman is an underrated X-man. He's about as cool as the Gold team got (pun intended) and he's super powerful, but I feel like he gets left off the team a lot. Or at least the main team.

A founding member of the original X-Men. Iceman's fun-loving personality has often stood in sharp contrast to his more driven teammates. But make no mistake - this feisty frosty X-Man is a hero though and through. 

He makes a solid #10 card - an important character but not hugely popular. I'd like to see him included in more big X-titles.


FACES - Flight of the Conchords

I love Flight of the Conchords. It is definitely one of my favorite shows and another one that ended too soon. I stuck to just Jemaine, Bret, Murray and Mel so I wasn't drawing the entire cast. But believe me, I did think about adding Dave, Greg, Eugene, Sally, Coco, Bryan the Prime Minister, Todd, Jim, Brahbrah, Keitha and the other Australians.


TMNT - Shredder and Krang

Made this to go along with my latest ninja turtles designs. The fun thing about drawing Shredder is also the terrible thing about drawing Shredder - his spikey things. I also love Krang. The old cartoon was a little too goofy (okay, it was more than a little), but it had some great characters.



Okay, like I said, I'm back and re-focused. Today is Monday, so here's another X-Men trading card recreation. I skipped #8 because it was Revanche and I know nothing about her. Apparently she's Psylocke or something? I don't know. Anyway, coming in at #9 is Banshee. He was never one of my favorites, but I've also never really seen him on the team. Overall I think he's a little on the lame side, but at least I didn't skip him, right?

Banshee began his career as a foe of the original X-Men. He was later recruited into the second X-Men team and today serves as a reserve member.

I'm pretty sure he just hangs out on Muir Island until somebody calls him... which probably doesn't happen very often.



So I've done a lot of thinking lately. A LOT. I've been thinking about my life path and where I am, where I want to be, and where I want to go. Project: Zero is me forcing myself to learn the basics and teach myself from the ground up. There are things I want to do in life and I'm tired of waiting for things to fall into my lap. I realize that I have to teach myself. I have to find the steps on the path to get there. Project: Zero will focus on character design, graphic design, animation and illustration.

This is only the beginning.


Rock and Roll

I wanted to play around with some hand lettering and I love this quote from Eagles of Death Metal. If you're lucky I may try some more song quotes.


Art Hop 07 Poster

I've been going through my computer lately and saw my old Art Hop poster from back in the summer of 2007. I was never totally happy with how it came out because I had to keep adding more and more information that probably shouldn't have been on the poster. It got to the point where I had to compromise my design to fit it all on there. So since 2007 is long gone, I thought I'd give the poster another shot and leave out all that extra info.


PAINTING - Under My Umbrella

"Bus stop, bus goes, she stays, love grows under my umbrella"
I've loved that song by the Hollies ever since a friend of mine put it on a random mix CD for me. Love can begin anywhere.


Now Available in Business Cards!

I felt business cards were long overdue, so now I can feel more legit. I wonder how many I'm supposed to carry on me at any given time?

I recently finished a couple paintings, so watch for those coming soon! (aka, whenever I get enough sunlight to take a decent picture... it's been raining or extra cloudy lately)


PAINTING- Some Beautiful Place to Get Lost


Last weekend I dropped this painting off at the RUA Studio Gallery. That's right, I'll have a painting showing in my first professional gallery!

2218 Andrew Rd.
Dayton, Ohio
The openning is Saturday November 19, 5pm-9pm, so stop by if you're local. There will be some great art on display.

 While this is the only one showing in a gallery, you can see my other Boy and Girl paintings HERE.


Psylocke is pretty awesome. She's actually so awesome that Cyclops picked her for the Blue Team telepath over Jean. Okay, so the teams probably weren't decided like high school kickball teams, but I know she made Blue which is clearly more awesome than Gold.

"A one-woman fighting force, Psylocke's unmatched combat skill and formidable mental powers make her one of the most valuable members of the X-Men's Blue Team!"


King of the Jungle

I've been working on a portrait commission lately (hence the lack in updates). The portrait takes place on an African safari, so a lion is one of the background elements. I was really happy with how this guy turned out, so I wanted to show him off as more than just a background.


PAINTINGS - Forever at First Sight

"You and me forever. We belong together"
Sometimes you just have to let the whole world know you're in love - not just now, but forever.

Mamihlapinatapai is a word we don't have in English... though we could probably use it. It means a "look shared by two people with each wishing that the other will initiate something that both desire but which neither one wants to start." It's a word for all of us who are wishing, hoping, but too shy. 




Finally here with card #6 is probably the most well-known mutant - Wolverine. I think whoever drew the original card must have either really hated Wolvie or really hated anatomy. Look at that back arm... try to do it yourself. It hurts!

"A born savage prone to berserker rages, Wolverine uses that wild side to fight for justice as an X-Man! Though his powers have recently undergone some radical changes, he's still the toughest fighter alive!"

Does anybody know what 'radical changes' his powers went through in 94? And I can't believe they missed out on saying "the best at what he does" instead of saying "the toughest fighter alive".



Every once in a while I feel the need to draw the turtles. Can you blame me? I'm trying to stay positive about their upcoming Nickelodeon show and so far I mostly like what I've read about it. Here's hoping for a good show, a return of Bebop and Rocksteady, and a return of Turtlemania!



Jubilee comes in with card #5. I don't think I have ever really drawn Jubilee before. Sure, she was a part of the classic 90s cartoon show which I still love to this day, but she was never my favorite character. I'm also not sure if I've ever read a comic that she was a part of until the modern de-powered/vampire version of her came out recently.

"Rambunctiousness is Jubilee's trademark - whether this teenager from Los Angeles is blasting villains into submission or blasting her boom box on the way to the local mall!"

I know I keep mentioning it, but I'm pretty surprised by who got the first five slots. Cyclops, Rogue, Beast, Gambit and Jubilee probably aren't the first five mutants most people would name, but I think 6-10 will be more surprising.


PAINTINGS - Under the Moon and Retro Telephone

I added two new paintings to our shop last night and I have more coming soon!

Boy and Girl Under the Moon SOLD!
 "This is the time of night when the moonlight shines down and we can reveal who we truly are.."
Remember falling in love under the honesty of night and a bright, full moon? There's just something about sitting in a quiet field at night and looking up at the sky with the one you love.

Part of my 'retro' series, this painting is meant to tug at your nostalgia. This telephone is carefully crafted to look aged and to remind you of the way things used to be.

My other paintings for sale can be found here and have you checked out Janae's watercolor trailers yet?



One way to challenge yourself to draw things you might not normally draw is to just pick a letter and draw a bunch of things starting with that letter. I picked M and the minotaur stood out from the mailman, mountie and musician as something to ink and color.



Coming in at #4 is Gambit. He's one of my favorite X-Men mainly because he was in the 90s cartoon show. He's also pretty awesome in the recent Wolverine and the X-Men cartoon, though he is still in his theiving days in that show. I prefer him to be on the team, but his dark past is part of what makes him interesting.

"Smooth and suave, Gambit always seems to have the winning cards - especially when this ragin' Cajun charges up the deck with his mutant power, dealing defeat to villains."

I'm kind of surprised such a love-him-or-hate-him character would be the fourth card in the series (still no Wolverine?) but I love him, so I won't complain.


The Man Without Fear

I'm not too big of a Daredevil fan, though I appreciate his place in the Marvel universe and I enjoyed playing as him in Ultimate Alliance. Miller's run on DD has been on my read list for a while, so I need to make sure I get around to that. The one thing I tried to add (or I guess subtract) from his costume here was the eyes. I made them part of the shadow, but I just think it would look cool for the blind superhero to not even bother with eye holes in his costume.


The Goblin

Have I ever drawn the Green Goblin before? I'm really not sure. I've been catching up on my Spider-man lately, both comics and cartoons, and I have to admit he's a pretty awesome villain. He's just so insane. He's kind of like the Joker... if the Joker could fly, knew Batman's identity, and was also a wealthy businessman. I love how the Goblin is like Norman Osborn's second personality. Like he doesn't quite realize they are the one in the same. Norman just thinks the Goblin is trying to help him achieve all his goals by any means necessary... which usually involves throwing someone off a bridge.



Back to the trading card recreations with card #3, Beast! So if you've been following my blog at all, you know that Beast is my favorite X-Men character and I love that he got the third card spot. He's also on the Blue Team, so it just keeps dominating. I remember really wanting this card as a kid even though the illustration is a little weird. He was like the one card I actually remembered what it looked like. I'm telling you, he has always been my fav. Which makes this post extra special because I get to do my favorite X-Man for my 100th post!

"The Beast seems every bit as fearsome as his namesake - until he opens his mouth! Then the humor and genius intelligence of this founding memeber of the X-Men comes through with every word!"

See, even that description makes him sound like an awesome character. Plus it has two exclamation points, so you know it's exciting.


Changes and Updates

I've made a few changes lately to help better brand everything. First (well not chronologically) is the new header which you can all see above. Second, I figured out how to make a tab bar (also above) so you can easily navigate between my illustrations, paintings, portraits and commissions. I also finally put up buttons on the right to both The Hers and His Shop (etsy shop for the wife and I) and for LeeXopher (my brother's site - home of the webcomic Rock of Pages).

I also made the switch on deviantART to natexopher. Unfortunately, you can't just change your name on there (which is why I had put it off for so long) so I had to create a whole new account and start over. Fortunately though, this let me start with a clean slate and I can separate myself from some of the really old work from when I joined over 6 years ago.

I have some exciting new stuff coming soon so stay tuned for more X-Men Trading Card recreations and some brand new paintings and illustrations.


The Captain

Worked on a small series of heroes to get myself back in to inking with pens. I had been doing it digitally for a while now with my tablet, but a little disconnected and sometimes couldn't get the exact lines I can with a real pen on paper. The trade off is then the inks have to be scanned and fixed up. I'll be playing around and trying to get the right working process for myself.



Continuing with my trading card redos is #2, Rogue. I'm pretty surprised she got the second spot. I would have figured Cyclops would be first and then Wolverine second, but --SPOILER ALERT-- Wolvie doesn't appear til #6 (and looks awful.. just wait). Anyway, here's Rogue as #2, apparently clearing out some of those rocks that Cyclops was blowing up in his card. Here's her (terribly written) bio:

"Rogue's powers forever deny her the simple comfort of another's gentle touch. But that doesn't stop this good-ole southern gal from having a good-ole time fighting side by side with the rest of the X-Men's Blue team!"

Rogue is awesome (again, Blue Team) and quickly becoming one of my favorite X-girls.



Anyone remember these old X-Men trading cards from the 90s? I don't think I had any growing up but a few years ago one of my buddies gave me all of his. I was looking at them recently and thought it would be fun to redraw a few of them, so starting with #1 is Cyclops.

"No one embodies the beliefs and dreams of Professor X better than Cyclops, his most beloved student. A founding X-Man, he's grown from a troubled youth into a confident leader of the Blue team!"

Oh the Blue Team... stacked so much better than the Gold Team. Be sure to check back for more trading card re-draws.


Custom Cartoon Portraits

Ever wanted to see yourself or someone you love as a cartoon? Just email me at natexopher@gmail.com with these three things:
1-Photos of the person or people to be included
2-Eye colors of the people included
3-Color you want used for your background
Then wait up to two weeks (depending on demand) and you will receive a high quality print of your custom cartoon portrait. It's that easy! These are perfect for birthdays or anniversaries.

Digital print out starts at $40 for up to two people with an additional $5 for each additional person - 5x7, 8x10 or 11x17" for easy framing


Go Go Power Rangers

My obsession for MMPR restarted recently when I found it on Netflix. I've been watching an episode or two (or four) almost every night since. My goal is to get all the way through Mighty Morphin and also watch their first movie. This is a bigger undertaking than I expected because the first season alone has 60 episodes (I think I'm up to 57 as of this morning). I am loving every second of it though...

The first 16 episodes are exactly the same. It starts off with


COMMISSION: wolverine

My sister-in-law commissioned this Wolverine poster for her boyfriend. He already has my old Wolvie and Logan pics, so I wanted this one to fit in, but stand out. I also tried some new coloring techniques for this one.


New Paintings

These are my newest paintings all up for sale here.

A Boy, a Girl, and a Swing Set

Four Elements - SOLD

Birds on a Wire

Night Owl

Also the Retro Bird Cage.

Also be sure to check out the rest of our shop for some great vintage finds!