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Van Dyke Parks! Inara George!

Poster Pencil Rough

In the past year or two I’ve become friends with one of the talents I respect most in the music business: Van Dyke Parks. I’m happy to report that he is as kind and thoughtful as he is brilliant.

For those not in the know or familiar with the L. A. music scene, Van Dyke Parks is a kind of creative Zelig of the pop music scene. Here are just a few of this man’s phenomenal list of credits:

Van Dyke produced Harry Nilsson‘s music for the film Popeye, Ry Cooder‘s first LP, Randy Newman‘s first LP, and Arlo Guthrie‘s best LP (on which Van Dyke played synthesizer, a fairly new instrument at the time)

He composed the score for (and appeared in) Jack Nicholson‘s Goin’ South. He wrote the lyrics to Brian Wilson‘s (and The Beach Boys‘) Smile (including the classics “Heroes and Villains” and “Surf’s Up”) and collaborated again with Brian on the Orange Crate Art CD as well as other Wilson songs and projects.

He has played with Harper’s Bizarre, Phil Ochs, The Byrds (David Crosby asked Van Dyke to join both The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention, Tim Buckley, Little Feat, Loudon Wainwright III, Rufus Wainwright, Joanna Newsom, Grizzly Bear and Ringo Starr.

He introduced Western culture to the music of the Caribbean islands and produced the outstanding LP of steel drum music by the Esso Trinidad Steel Drum Band.

He had a hit as one of the Mojo Men with “Sit Down I Think I Love You”, which is better arranged than the original version by Buffalo Springfield. He wrote “High Coin” and “Come to the Sunshine”, two fantastic and very California musical expressions.

This all brings me to his latest collaboration. He recently produced Inara George‘s An Invitation CD. Inara is the daughter of Van Dyke’s late friend Lowell George (founder of Little Feat). She also works in the duo The Bird and the Bee.

Live presentations of An Invitation will take place October 8 & 9 up in San Francisco with Inara backed by the amazing musicians known as The Awesöme Orchestra (conducted by David Möschler) Van Dyke will appear with Inara as well. Van Dyke asked me to create the poster for the event, hence this Journal post.

I thought you might like to see a very brief (I didn’t have much time to conceive and execute this piece) step-by-step on its creation. As you can see, there were a lot of elements that needed to be included in the poster, including a listing and representation of Lexi Pearl‘s aerial dancers.

The pencil rough is above. Here’s the final inked version:

After it was inked I had it professionally shot in digital form by the kind and talented (and very patient) folks at Artworks so that I could color it in PhotoShop. Here’s how that turned out:

There will be some beautiful versions of this poster that will be offered in limited signed editions on heavy paper stock to help raise the funds necessary to pay for the lavish concerts and their participants. I’ll keep you updated as to their availability.

My thanks to my dear friend Van Dyke for this collaborative opportunity and his enthusiasm for my work.

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Stan Sakai Benefit Signing Today

William Stout Usagi Yojimbo Benefit Print

Today (Saturday, August 16) there will be a signing at Meltdown Comics of the Stan Sakai Usagi Yojimbo benefit book between 4:00 – 6:00 PM.

The 21 signers will include Yours Truly, Stan Sakai, Sergio Aragonés, Mark Evanier, Bill Morrison, Dean Yeagle, Tom Luth, Rubén Procopio, Jeff Keane, Aidan Casserly, Ricardo Delgado, Tone Rodriguez, Anson Jew, Benton Jew, Patrick Scullin, Robert Stanley, Chad Frye, Mark Dos Santos, Steven Gordon, Brad Rader and MORE!

In addition, my Usagi image has been made into a gorgeous limited edition giclee print which I will be signing at the event. All sales will go to help pay Stan’s rapidly mounting medical bills for the care of his wife Sharon.

Meltdown Comics is at 7522 Sunset Boulevard (not far from Gardner) in the West Hollywood area. See you there!

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Robin Williams – John Fasano

Jim Morrison said it best: “No one gets out alive.”

My old friend Harlan Ellison said that the bad thing about getting old is losing your pals.

I just lost an acquaintance and a pal.


Robin Williams, when first we met.

The acquaintance was the talented Robin Williams, whom I’m sure needs no introduction here. I met Robin during the period he was on Mork & Mindy. I was visiting the set of The Blues Brothers while working with that film’s producer on a movie adaptation of Roger Zelazny‘s Chronicles of Amber books.

Robin was incredibly kind and sweet to me — yet I caught a haunted quality in his eyes when he thought no one was looking.

I chalked that up to the way I saw him being treated by the Blues Brothers people. Those nasty bastards shunned him and attempted to block him from visiting the set or associating with anyone on the film. They considered him to be a lesser talent and not worthy of acknowledgment. Why? Because he was doing TV and they were making a MOVIE. “Fucking Mork,” I heard one of them say, knowing they said it just loud enough for Robin to hear.

It made me feel very bad for Williams. I immediately began to detest the snotty (and lesser-talented) assholes associated with The Blues Brothers.

Knowing what we know now, did I catch more from Robin’s haunted glance? I don’t know. I never got to know Robin personally but from the moment I met him and from what he did and accomplished during his illustrious career, I got the feeling that he was a pretty decent but sad (yet brilliantly funny) guy.

RIP, amigo. You took the permanent solution to a temporary problem but now your personal demons are at long last silent.

JOHN FASANO 1961–2014

My buddy, John Fasano

John Fasano was a friend of mine who was a real breath of fresh air in the movie business: he was honest.

I can’t recall where we first met but our friendship really began to solidify at one of Taylor White‘s events (Taylor owns the amazing Creature Features monster shop in Burbank). We shared mutual friends and colleagues, most notably John Milius, to whom Fasano was heartbreakingly loyal. John Fasano’s writing credits include Another 48 Hours, Universal Soldier: The Return and Mandy Patinkin‘s The Hunchback, as well as the first Jesse Stone TV movie. John loved horror movies and directed three: Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare, The Jitters and Black Roses. Oh, and he produced one of my favorite westerns of all time (and I suspect he doctored that film’s script): Tombstone.

John asked me if I would ever consider production designing one of his films. My enthusiastic “Yes!” seemed to catch him by surprise and delight him. When I last saw him a few months ago, he told me he had begun writing a film for us to make together. We both were thrilled at the prospect. We were determined to bring fun back to making movies.

John and I exhibited our art at Taylor’s themed shows. He loved that we were in art shows together. John was a very visual writer and director; he appreciated good picture-making. He was also one of the most loyal persons I ever met in Hollywood. I sensed that when John became your friend it was something deep and meaningful — the opposite of many of the shallow relationships one acquires in the film biz.

John was just 52 when his big heart gave out on July 19. I didn’t find out about it until this morning. I had my wife keep all of the issues of the Los Angeles Times that came out while I was down at Comic-Con. While reading some of them this morning, I was shocked to discover his obituary.

I love you, Big Guy. And I’ll miss you forever.

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NEW Oz Sketchbook Available! Extremely Limited!

I just returned from a spectacular weekend at Winkie Con, America’s largest annual Wizard of Oz convention. It was held at the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center in San Diego‘s Hotel Circle. This venue is amazing! The grounds are very maze-like, with lots of surprising visual treasures and enchanting jewel-like gardens everywhere.

Kurt Raymond as the Wicked Witch of the West

There was loads to experience, from interesting panels (I did two; one with Oz author Sherwood Smith), my pal Kurt Raymond (a skilled speaker and artist and the world’s greatest impersonator of and expert on the Wicked Witch of the West), and even a presentation of the L. Frank Baum stage musical The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, a show that originally debuted in 1913! The cast, staging, music, lighting and costumes were all superb! What a rare treat!

I also saw and chatted with fandom legends John and Bjo Trimble, as well as Comic-Con International luminaries (and friends) Jackie Estrada and Batton Lash.

I debuted a new sketchbook at the convention: William Stout’s World of Oz. Its 60 pages are packed with rarities, including many of my designs for the proposed Wonderful Wizard of Oz Themed Resort and Entertainment Center in Kansas, my production designs for The Muppets Wizard of Oz, my Wizard of Oz art folio and illustrations from the two Oz books I illustrated for Sherwood Smith, The Emerald Wand of Oz and Trouble Under Oz.

Limited to just 250 signed & numbered copies (most of which sold at Winkie Con), I still have a few available for purchase on the Bazaar portion of this site (under “Books”). Get your copy before it’s sold out, My Pretties!

Photo by Jackie Estrada
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This is a Winkie. If you have chromatic 3-D glasses, this picture is in 3-D.

Tomorrow begins the national Wizard of Oz convention known as Winkie Con. I’m the Artist Guest of Honor!

I’ll be giving an illustrated lecture on all my different Oz-related projects at noon tomorrow. I’ll also be debuting my latest sketchbook, William Stout’s Wonderful World of Oz. At a fat 60 pages per book, it’s limited to only 250 signed and numbered copies. If there are any left after the convention, I’ll put some up for sale on the Bazaar section of this site.

See you there!

Here’s another 3-D picture (if you’ve got a pair of those chromatic 3-D glasses, this one really works well. You can click on it to make it larger):

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Pals – 1993

A bit of a Coda…

My wife complained about the photo I chose of Jean and I together (she thought it did not flatter Jean). So here’s one of Jean and me out in front of Golden Apple Comics. This one doesn’t exactly flatter me; I look like a Mexican drug dealer. And suck in that gut!

This was taken around 1993. I just showed Jean the Arzach tribute I had done. He “got” every little detail of the picture…which I knew he would. My French title for the piece was in bad French. Moebious loved that and asked me not to change it (I didn’t). He thought it was funny.

Love to you all!

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NEW Stout Sketchbooks!

Woo hoo! I made it to #20! This baby debuted last week at Comic-Con International. Inside, you’ll find more of my typical diversity — from my book cover designs for the hard-boiled detective McBleak to my never-before-seen Victorian mansion designs for the film Wicked Lovely; from new Dragon Con logo designs to my T-shirt and Program Book art for WesterCon 67; from my illustrations for Yusuf‘s (Cat Stevens) new CD to my portraits of five Yardbirds; plus three new Peter Pan plates, a faux Weird Science Fantasy comic book cover and much, much more! Maintain the tradition and complete your collection!

Also premiering at Comic-Con was my new Monsters Sketchbook. All the classic monsters are here, but this fifth volume of All Things Monster is a bit different from the previous Monster Sketchbooks, as it contains my loving tributes to four of cinema’s greatest monster makers: Lon Chaney, Jack Pierce, Milicent Patrick and Paul Blaisdell. In addition, there are black and white representations of my three recent posters for Godzilla, Nosferatu and Mad Monster Party. Don’t miss it!

WAIT — there’s MORE!

I’m having a sale on my full color Flesk Publications book William Stout PREHISTORIC LIFE MURALS: 25% off, for a new retail price of just $30. You can’t beat that price for what I consider my best, most personal and lavish tome. And it gets better — you still get a free sketch inside each murals book you purchase. Birthday present? Early Christmas present? A treat to yourself? Order now!

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18 Tips for Comic Book Artists by Jean “Moebius” Giraud: #18 (Final Installment)

The words of Moebius are in boldface; my comments are not.

18) Now it is possible to expose our works to readers in every part of the planet. We must always keep aware of this.

To begin with, drawing is a form of personal communication — but this does not mean that the artist should close himself off inside a bubble.

One two week trip to Venice inspired an entire book from Moebius: Venise Celeste.

I urge all artists, young and old, to travel and expose themselves to all kinds of art, music cultures and architecture. Feed your mind; feed your soul. Instead of going to a movie and spending two hours alone in the dark, take that time to go out and have your own adventures instead of watching those created by someone else. I cannot overstress the value of such experiences.

His communication should be for those aesthetically, philosophically and geographically close to him, as well as for himself — but also for complete strangers.

With art, whether it’s writing, drawing, music — whatever — it may seem paradoxical, but the more specific you make something, the more universal it becomes.

Drawing is a medium of communication for the great family we have not met, for the public and for the world.

Along this train of thought, I learned this from Moebius:
If you make your living as an artist, you are one of the luckiest people in the world. When we’re at our best and most creative, what we do is joyful play. But in those moments of play, never forget that the art you create is like throwing a pebble into a glassy surfaced pond. You never know where those multiple ripples you created will end up.

So take the luck and honor of being an artist very, very seriously.

Create work that is meaningful, that is beautiful. Do not be a lesser version of yourself. You are adding to our world’s culture. Great skills are to be aspired to — but they are not enough. Ask yourself, “Is what I’m putting out there going to add to the world and help make it a better place? Or am I soiling our world with careless meanness, ugliness and nastiness? Or am I just merely marking time, creating nothing of consequence, and really just adding more trivial crap to our cultural clutter?”

I hope you enjoyed and learned from this series. Again, I want to express my thanks to the original poster, Perez Ruiz, and original translator, Xurxo Penalta. These 18 points just barely touch the surface of what Jean Giraud knew and practiced. He was a consummate artist, a deep thinker and one of the most profound talents the world of comics — or any form of art —  has ever produced.

I miss his gentle, funny — but always accurate — counsel. Our friendship brought us both great joy. Thinking about Jean, his work and what I learned from both continues to bring me deep pleasure and inspiration. I hope you all can find someone in your life who can do that for you.

Jean Giraud and William Stout (Photo by Bob Foster)
Moebius Tribute by Deimos-Remus

To easily access this entire series, go to:

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Comic Con International

The final installment of the Moebius tips for comic book artists will have to wait (believe me, it’ll be worth the wait), as I am about to head down to San Diego for Comic Con International. If you’re one of the lucky few (130,000) to get tickets, please come by my booth over in the area of the Dealers Room set aside for illustrators and fantasy illustration (my double booth will be in my usual spot). I will have the booth set up as an art gallery with 50 original works for sale, including my huge Nosferatu piece commissioned by Mondo.

I will also debut William Stout -50 Convention Sketches Volume 20 (!) and Monsters Sketchbook Volume 5.

I hope to see you there!