Concentric Circles by Jonathan Hickman #5 – The White Album

April 9, 2008

Okay, so I looked back at all my columns so far and I realized I haven’t really done anything on what I like in art/design/layout, so this is that one.

What follows is a quick look at several artists that on the particular day I’m writing this scratched the right itch.

I’m always looking in other places besides comics to find inspiration for how I would like my work to look someday. It’s an ongoing, evolving process, as I can never really pin down exactly what I consistently like. This, of course, has its pros and cons.

It’s inappropriate to call the following people ‘influences’ as I’m not a big believer in anything you see, hear or read not influencing you – I think our minds are simply too wired to soak stuff up. But if I was forced to pick one, fine, go with Joshua Davis. I come back to his work more than anyone else recently.

Okay, on with the show…

1. Ian Francis
Ian Francis is probably my favorite painter right now. I saw an ad for his work in a recent issue of Juxtapoz (Which, by the way, has turned into an excellent magazine. I usually give a mag 6 months or so before I start recommending it – variance in quality, etc. – and I’m now going out of my way to encourage everyone to check this out. Not a miss in the last 8 months) and was just blown away. Oh, and his website is cool because you can really zoom in and check out the detail.

More of this in comics, please.

2. Stephane Tartelin
Stephane has a great line and one of those cool, quirky styles that drives anatomy freaks absolutely nuts, which means I’m a big fan. Good stuff.

3. Joshua Davis
The thing that many people don’t get about Joshua Davis is his process, which breaks down something like this: He draws lots of cool ‘theme-based’ vector shapes. Imports them into Flash where he’s written a program to randomize them in various and sundry manners (size, color, rotation, etc.). He then generates thousands of variations until he gets something he likes. Screws with it a bit. All done.

Some people argue this isn’t art as the computer is generating all the pieces, but I’ve got a simple rule for what I do and do not consider ‘art’ – Does the piece in question blow my hair back? If yes, art – if no, I couldn’t care less.

Besides being beautiful work (which we can always take something from and add it to comics), there’s something in Joshua’s process that lends itself to the idea of randomly generating story itself.

Make sure you check out his flickr account, amazing work in there.

4. Sean Rodwell
The thing to look at here is the work similar to the picture I’ve included. This is a simple combination of a photo and a single element (a circle) which varies in color and size to make a composition that is much, much greater than the sum of its parts. It’s a pretty good lesson on complexity through repetition.

5. Gavin Moore
Okay, this is really just some random artist I picked because I wanted to show you guys Depthcore. It’s a neat design community that has an interesting way to view the progression of work on the site. Simply click on Packs and start at the bottom with Cataclysm and work your way up. Sure, a good bit of work on this site is derivative, but again, the cool thing is watching the evolution of design trends and individual artists.

Okay, hope you liked a look inside how I process other artists work.

In soccer news, Hugo Sanchez has been fired as the Mexican national team coach. Hugo is legend in Mexican soccer and is almost universally considered to be their greatest player of all time. For years, he starred for Real Madrid in the Spanish first division and had the honor of representing his country in three World Cups.

After his playing career ended, he went into coaching, managing both Pumas and Necaxa – winning two league titles. During this time he was an extremely vocal critic of the, at the time, Mexican national team boss, Argentinean (and serial chain smoker) Ricardo Lavolpe. When Lavolpe’s contract was not renewed, Hugo was named coach of the el Tri.

He promised lots of things, including and end to the backbreaking and spirit-crushing dominance the United States has had over Mexico in the last decade – The beginning of a new era of regional dominance.

Instead, Hugo leaves a total disgrace, failing to beat the evil Yankees a single time. Suck our huge American balls, Hugo. I hope they burn you in effigy.

And here’s the goal that he never recovered from. Oh, Benny Feilhaber – you magnificent bastard! (Hugo Sanchez is the sad, little man in the pink shirt)


If you’ve got comments or questions, post ‘em here or send me an email at (but no attachments, people!)

Jonathan Hickman is the creator behind The Nightly News and Pax Romana as well as the forthcoming books Transhuman, A Red Mass for Mars, and PLUS! You can find him online at either or


  1. Ian Francis and Gavin Moore have a great look. Thanks for pointing them out!

  2. you have to admit that Hugo was a great little villian to cheer against. he was just one reason that the MX-USA games have been so fun to watch as of late.

  3. i don’t have a comment for this, except to say how much i enjoy these articles. really really great.

    oh wait, i’ve got a comment. tell me more about PLUS!

  4. it is for the little bits of wonderful like this article that the new ifanboy is my first-thing-in-the-morning-thing.  very very nice. 

  5. Comics, great art, and soccer… is this heaven?

    Do you follow the EPL? Personally i don’t know much about the Mexican teams or US soccer that much i’m sad to say. And to keep this on a comics-related post…anyone read any of the gothic sports or soccer manga (see, I’m trying….)

    Love the articles!

  6. You’re right Hugo Sanchez was a disgrace!

    He made promises and he didn’t delivered!

    Anyway the artist are wondefull

  7. @Youngday – Well, he was no Luis Hernandez, but he was easily in my top 5 most hated Mexican players list. I just hope they don’t hire Peckerman to be the new coach.

    @Nick – No PLUS news right now. Not even sure when it’s coming out, but it will be this year – promise.

    @target 242 – Some EPL… If I have my pick I’d rather watch Spanish football. It’s more open.

    @Monibolis – Any Mexican coach that comes in promising consistent wins against the US is going to fail. We’re just too focused on Mexico to let that happen. It’s a little silly actually, but that’s rivalries…

  8. I do like Davis’ designs as well.  Even though the computer is randomly generating the pictures, he’s the one making the choices for design and composition.  And if he wrote the program…

    Anyways, it’s good.  Thanks for the heads up on these!

  9. rivalry indeed! when Landon Donovan peeing on "mexican soil" becomes a story that just won’t go away, you know you have one.

  10. The other problem with Hugo is that he was very annoying when he was critic of Lavolpe, and then he got EVEN more annoying when he started to fail miserably game after game.

    @JHickman: I don’t think the next coach will be Peckerman, it looks like it’s going to be either Michel (Real Madrid player who played at the same time with Butragueño and Hugo) or Aguirre (which personally I don´t think because he’s with the Atleti and persuing a place for the Champions League), but we’ll know in June for sure, right now is only speculation.

    In my opinion we need a foreign coach with different strategies, ideas of training and playing and yes definately stop making promises about winning versus the US national team on it’s soil. The teams that are very defensive and depend only in counterstrike like the US, have always been complicated to our way of playing, with teams that are more open and inclined to attack like Brazil (which Mexico beat at the last America Cup) we perfom much better, the team has got to start playing accordingly each rival. Anyway, of the current coaches in our league my vote goes to the "Tuca" Ferreti.  

    @Monibolis: I live in Guadalajara also, what were the odds of meeting in Ifanboy of all places!

  11. @baggo – I’d be shocked if Aguirre comes back – I thought all the political garbage most MNT coaches have to put up with would have done him in for good. I hope he doesn’t, he’s easily the best coach you guys have had since Bora. Ah, Bora… what a crazy SOB.

    Ferreti would be an interesting choice.

    BTW, have you seen what the Mexican pre-hex, World Cup qualifying group is going to be: MEXICO, CANADA, HONDURAS (with Suazo this time) and JAMAICA. Rough. 

  12. thanks for the brain candy. pure inspiration. 

  13. Jonathan, after reading the first two issues of Pax Romana and the first issue of Transhuman, I have to say that you’ve quickly become one of my favorite writers.

    Now I read that you’re into soccer? Full-on man-crushing here.

    Glad to see that you’re part of the iFanboy team. Definitely looking forward to more comics and columns.

  14. @JHickman: Bora really really wacky SOB, the minute after Hugo was fired, everyone on the street start making jokes about Bora as the replacement.

    I agree, Aguirre should not comeback, he already used the national team as a jumping point to coach at Spain, and as much as great as I guess is to be the coach of a national team it’s not the same experience as to coach every week in one of the best leagues and have the opportunity to coach at the champions league, which is the highest football tournament in my opinion.

    The Pre-hex looks difficult, mostly because it starts in late-June, right? and the team owners keep saying that the new coach is going to named and take duties at mid-June, I think the first couple of games are going to be really painful, but we have some good players finally playing in european leagues (Salcido, Guardado, Pardo, Vela, Gio) and they better put some commitment in those games.  

  15. My first time reading this article. I really liked it can’t wait for the next one!