Q: Where are U2 today? (U2 = plural noun in my opinion.)
A: If you have no idea that U2 are in Mexico City today, you probably do not visit @U2, the award-winning website that employs me as a cartoonist (for free; don't get too excited).
@U2 is pretty much the last word in U2 news and information, and I created its monthly...I guess you could call them cartoons. This feature is called "Achtoon Baby," a name I kind of hate, but I really had no say in the matter as I was taking over for its creator when I got the job.
Nearly every A.B. image was a hand-painted, realistic watercolor like the ones you see above. So they're not little doodles I can slap together in five minutes and get on with my day. My U2 cartoons are clearly the work of a crazy woman, and being crazy, I even got my cat involved. I painted the cartoons for seven years until life got too complicated, i.e. I actually did things with other people during my free time. Overwhelmed, I had to stop in 2009, and that was the right decision for me at the time. Now that my schedule's a lot looser than before, I recently decided to start painting and mocking these lovable geezer rock stars again...only this time I'm doing it four times a year instead of twelve. Because, come on, twelve is insanity.
Before I get going with this, I want to thank my friend Matt McGee, @U2 head honcho with whom I am laughing my ass off in the blurry photo above. Matt was kind enough to link my art website with his U2 fan juggernaut, so hopefully I'll be seeing an increase in traffic and my Google page ranking (and sales? please? I hope?).
You can view the newest cartoon in its entirety, with normal-sized illustrations, here.
As you can see, the watercolor portrait illustrations dominate each panel. I cropped them so they seem to burst from the frame. Each little painting is 5"x7" (or so), based on my constantly evolving library of U2 images. Two of these were painted from concert shots where I removed the colored lighting and dark backgrounds (including Larry Mullen, above), one is a from a grainy, postage stamp-sized paparazzi photo, and one is from Q magazine. Can you tell which is which?
When given the choice between painting an older face and a younger one, I'll pick the older one every time. I love wrinkles, and the wrinklier someone is, the easier he or she is to paint. It's hard to explain why if you haven't painted with watercolors before, but wrinkles give my brush something to grab onto and a place to pause while I'm painting. Children's faces offer no such luxury. So as U2 have aged, like good ol' Adam Clayton (above), I've had an easier time painting them. This might also have something to do with the fact that I know their features on a near-molecular basis.
Especially this guy.
- Fact: Bono has more freckles on the left side of his face than his right side.
- Fact: Bono's sunglasses make painting his eyes at least five times harder than they ought to be.
- Fact: Bono's mouth has become thinner over the years, and if you make his lips too fat, he stops looking like present-day Bono, and this is hard to get right.
- Fact: Bono has two major neck wrinkles.
- Fact: Bono's eyes are the color of cornflowers.
- Fact: I can paint two Edges in the time it takes me to paint one Bono.
- Fact: I could throw about 75 more similar facts at you.
Yes, Edge is easy like Sunday morning. Dependable hat means no hair shenanigans. Big face means lots of room to play with. He looks like no other human being. There is something deer-like about him. Today somebody asked me how I manage to paint his eyes exactly right. My secret is that they're kind of triangular. The only hardship when it comes to painting Edge is the fact that guitars will often be involved. Watercolors and guitars don't exactly mix, but I can tolerate painting them because he has some really cool guitars.
Sometimes a cartoon idea will demand that I draw U2 in a more cartoony way, and I call those guys Li'l U2 (the original here is about 2 inches tall, hence some sloppiness):
Random example (they were making handturkeys in May to celebrate an upcoming album's November release date):
Sometimes I'll have Bun draw them (she put them on my couch):
Sometimes I will sculpt them out of clay:
And sometimes, when I'm desperate, I will sculpt them out of food:
So...yeah. Four times a year, I'll be doing this stuff again.
It's going to be awesome.
Oh yeah, Jeff, who for years has pouted that I have never drawn him for Achtoon Baby, made a cameo in today's cartoon.
PS: If you'd like to flip through some of my old U2 paintings, you can find them here. And if you have a lot of time on your hands, my Achtoon Baby archive is here. Please note that my imaging programs have improved vastly since then. And my updated staff bio is here.