The evolution of my caricatures, 2010-2012

As a followup to my last post, I decided to finally do something I’ve planned to for a while: a short retrospective showing my improvement and developing technique over the three years I worked at Como Town. I’m choosing just three pictures from each year, to show a brief sampling of the adjustment I went though. Remember, if you want to see more caricatures, just click the caricatures tag!


Behold the first caricature I ever made! When I walked into the caricature booth at Como Town late in the spring of 2010, I told my future boss that, rather than bring a portfolio, I planned to draw him then and there. This mediocre drawing was the product of that ballsiness, but it worked – he hired me.

My good friends Scotty and Lisa stopped by early on, giving me a chance to draw people I felt comfortable with. One of my better drawings from that first summer.

By the end of 2010 I could occasionally make a drawing I was very proud of, even if it wasn’t that caricatured. You’ll notice a lack of color in the drawings I’ve posted from my first year – it’s not that I didn’t do drawings in color, it’s that none of them were particularly competent.


My colors had improved enough by the beginning of summer, 2011 that I wasn’t embarrassed as much by them. I’d been practicing my watercolors, which I found to be quite similar to airbrush.

I started thinking more about light sources, and tried to make the personality of my subjects show through a bit, even kids.

By the end of the summer I started experimenting a bit with marker. This drawing of my coworkers allowed me to loosen up a bit. Notice the relatively simple teeth, something I moved towards a lot this summer as well.


By the beginning of my third summer I was comfortable composing my subjects and making more ambitious backgrounds. I’d gotten a lot faster.

Scotty and Lisa came back my third summer, allowing me to do a follow-up drawing. Looking back on it, I wish I had done some things differently for Lisa, but it still serves as a nice comparison.

By the end of this summer I was doing lush, full-color drawings using a combination of marker and airbrush. Although I still have a long way to go before i consider myself on the level of caricature artists I really admire, I am happy with the progress I’ve made.


Looking through all the caricatures I’ve done, this one consistently jumps out to me as one of my favorites. I don’t know if I’ll call it my absolute favorite, but it’s definitely one I remain very proud of.


As always, thanks for reading! I’m all settled in Ann Arbor, and will post more comics stuff soon, I promise.

The evolution of the lunch sign and on-the-job self portrait

I drew caricatures at Como Town Amusement Park in Saint Paul, MN for three summers. On a typical day I’d start work at about 10AM and end around 7 or 8 in the evening. Sometime in between those times I’d need to stop drawing to have lunch. If my boss was there with me, I’d just go, letting him take customers as I ate. But if I was alone at work I’d have to make a sign assuring my customers that I’d be back. These signs became one of my favorite aspects of my job. Here, for the first time, is a collection of every lunch sign and self-portrait I photographed over the three summers I worked at Como Town. I hope seeing the huge development is as interesting to you as it is to me. It’s admittedly self-centered, but why have a blog if not to make posts like this once in a while?

The first lunch sign I took a picture of, quite likely one of the first I did. This is from the summer of 2010. Still learning to draw babies at that time, I’d say.

Pretty crude, and self-consciously appealing to my child customers.


This one kind of features me, but is still pretty timid.

Now this one has some element of what the lunch signs would become. There’s a kind of silly self-portrait, but man, that technical weakness kills the execution.

This one represents a level of caricature I was absolutely unable to reach my first summer at Como. I was able to loosen up for the doodle, but do this with a customer? No way!

You can definitely tell that I was still struggling with the airbrush. And who can remember how to draw that darn “S”? Not me.

This is from the beginning of summer, 2011. A small editorial cartoon about the loudness of the music played right by my ear all day long.


This was pretty standard, day-to-day. Quick and cute.


A step in the right direction: a rare, longer, self-portrait. Of course, the summer of 2011 was much busier than this summer was, so there was less time for these longer things.

Aha! Silly and in color! A great contrast to that clown one. I’d come a long way.



There’s a longer one! And some experimental marker, too!

THE lunch sign, for a while. Here’s the b/w…

And the color. This was done right at the end of summer, 2011. I was pretty proud of it!

Doodle from this summer! And so it begins!

The first lunch sign from summer, 2012! Stiff and relatively uninspired, but getting there.

End of day doodle.

Hunting the Morrissey fish. Happy step in the right direction.

On a sandwich safari.

Lots of detail in this one! The days were hot and slow.

I jumped right into markers for the lunch signs. It was my way to test them, and eventually, perfect them before I inflicted them on my customers.

I guess that model of sandwich really reads as ‘lunch’ to me.

Melty portrait of my boss and me. It was hot this summer, OK!?!

Trying another elaborate method, this time aping Virgil Finlay.

Keeping with the sci-fi theme, and the bizarre, limbed sandwiches as well.

A quantum leap forward! This doodle helped me discover the technique I would use for the rest of the summer.

At this point I was trying to out-weird myself with each new drawing.

Very strange.

Working my lovely girlfriend into this one.

One of my favorites. Silly, strange, and nice colors.

A drawing specifically for the nice ladies in the business office, who would sometimes get doodles at the end of the day with our receipts.

An early-in-the-morning doodle, designed to drum up business and test colored pencils. I ultimately decided they took too long.

Another deliberately distorted one.

My parents ended up with this one, although I’m not sure if it was to their taste. Trying to push the violence of the distortion while staying safe for a children’s amusement park.

Likely the most complex sign I’ve done so far. Huge and time-consuming on a slow Sunday morning.

A super quick one on a busier day.

Another pretty quick one. I was getting worried at this point, “will I ever do elaborate ones again?”

I didn’t need to worry too much. Another slow day, another drawing for the ladies in the office.

The sole parody, this is my from-memory parody of Secret Cities’ Pink Graffiti album.

Another favorite from late in the summer, the upside-down nose.

And here was my final one, a pretty subdued exaggeration of my glasses.

And here’s a nicely scanned version of Lunchzilla, if you need a new desktop background or anything.

As always, thanks for reading, and leave comments!