Friday, December 28, 2012

My Uncle Bob and Bobby's Biggest Bubble in the local news

The following was taken from the Suburban Newspaper, Dec. 28, 2012.

Jim Romer bases story on his uncle, Bob Dunzelman
BY CHUCK O’DONNELL Correspondent

OLD BRIDGE — It started off with a flicker of imagination and a sketch on a scrap of paper. Jim Romer took one look at this funny-looking kid he’d just drawn, named him Bobby after his beloved late uncle, and began to get swept up in a surge of inspiration. The result is “Bobby’s Biggest Bubble,” a new children’s picture book created and self-published by the Old Bridge cartoonist. The full-color, hardcover 24-page book is influenced by some of the tales Romer loved as a kid, from“Where the Wild Things Are” to “Harold and the Purple Crayon” to “The Phantom Tollbooth.”

In the book, Bobby gets a huge crate full of one million Super-Duper-Wubble-Bubble-Really-Gummy-Gumballs. Then chaos ensues. It’s just the kind of story Uncle Bob would have liked, Romer said. In fact, Romer dedicated the book to Bob Dunzelman, who died of leukemia, for showing him “it was possible to live with the fun-loving wonder, playful spirit, and imagination of your childhood throughout your entire life.”

“I did a little sketch of a stubby, little boy, which I instantly named Bobby to honor my uncle,” Romer said. “By doing that, one thing lead to another. I gave the character a cap similar to what my uncle wore. I gave the character my uncle’s creative imagination, especially on the pages where they are doing crazy things with the bubblegum. “And with the title of the book finally in place, the story seemed to come together so easily.”

But getting it published was another story. Romer set out about 20 years ago to make kids’ books, but couldn’t get his foot in the door. When his uncle relapsed after a bone marrow transplant, Romer called it “a dark time.” He took his rejection letters and sketches and put them away.

Eventually he turned to toy designing, and now works as an exclusive creative director for a China-based company that creates many sewn goods, like plush toys, costumes and pet toys.While many of Romer‘s designs can be seen in stores such as Target, Kmart, Petsmart and Walmart, his dream of making kids books never faded. When Romer discovered the growing trend of crowdfunding, using sites such as to appeal directly to potential buyers who make pledges in return for rewards such as copies of the finished book, he realized this was his chance.

Seventy-nine people, many of them complete strangers moved by Romer’s desire to honor his uncle with a fun kid’s tale, donated a total of more than $5,000 through so he could publish “Bobby‘s Biggest Bubble.”

He also got a lot of help from Cindy Santos, his cousin and Uncle Bob’s daughter. A kindergarten teacher, Santos not only helped proofread the book, but prompted Romer to rework parts of the story after she pointed out it would be read out loud, which “tends to need a rhythm and flow,” Romer said.

Plus, Santos’s triplets, Bobbi (who is named after Romer’s uncle), Jase and Andrew, and her students at her Upper Saddle River school, were the first test audiences. “I can tell when I read his book how well he knew my father,” Santos said. “I can see my father in this character over and over again: the way Bobby balances things on his head, his cap, his hand in his pocket on the first page, his tongue out when he’s shooting the marble, the crowbar in his hand, his face when he is trying to first blow up the bubble.”

Making the book and starting on the sequel, “Bobby’s Ginormous Jelly,” brought back a flood of memories and emotions for Romer: the vast Matchbox car collection Uncle Bob kept in his basement. The way he’d always be making something, like an octagon-shaped terrarium. The Christmas mornings he would be on the floor playing with the other children.

The best, Romer said, was the time he and his uncle went to the toy store and bought a Styrofoam rocket jet that launches using air capsules. What Romer didn’t know is that his uncle had bought about a dozen rubber parachute men at the counter. “So you can imagine my surprise when the rocket took off, which was already cool, but then these tiny parachute men started to fall off the rocket and floated safely down to the ground,” Romer said. “I still remember his laugh and joy on his face when that the idea worked.”

“I always knew how many people my dad loved and spent time with and gave attention to, I just never realized the mark he was leaving on all these people — Jim included,” Santos said. “For him to write an entire book with the main character named after my father with my father’s likeness is really an 
honor. My father would be so proud.”
For more information about Romer and his children’s book, “Bobby’s Biggest Bubble,” visit

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas is coming!!!

Merry Christmas to everyone . . . and a Happy New Year!

Running Santa made with Color Pencil on Bristol

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Daily Quick Sketch: Superman Problems?

This is just a quick pencil sketch of something I used to think of as a kid. It also a semi-tribute to Sergio Aragones, the Mad magazine cartoonist who used to draw the many little cartoons along the pages' edges, in the gutters and everywhere in the magazine. I used to look just searching for his cartoons, I always felt his cartoons were the best. Here, I followed a little of his style of Superman, which I have seen him do many, many times over many, many years.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Santa Banana

Okay, back from Shanghai after being away for two weeks. Let's get back to posting again!
Here's a wacky one I was thinking about when I was deprived of about 48 hours of sleep while in China:

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Daily Quick Sketch: Lil' Poot Owl

Today's Quick Sketch is a baby owl character I named Lil' Poot. I was doing several designs for Halloween bags, and one of the designs needed was an owl. The finished bag design of the owl was very computerized and geometric. But the original pencil sketch of the owl was looser and looked completely different then the computer generated illustration. So I decided to ink and color the pencil sketch. Came up with this . . . 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Daily Quick Sketch: Sparki

Today's daily sketch is a little mean lantern fish named Sparki. Originally I was going to sketch a piranha fish - but I felt it needed just a little more character. Adding that little light dangler was the trick.  So now it's a lantern fish instead of a piranha fish.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bobby's Biggest Bubble: Thank You image

This is an image I created over the Thanksgiving weekend to thank all of the KickStarter pledges and supporters that helped create Bobby's Biggest Bubble.
From left to right: Oggy, Woger, Otter and Bobby
Thanks again to everyone who helped make this all possible. Yous guys is the best!!

UPDATE: I used this image for Illustration Friday the week of May 3 2013; the word of the week was TRIBUTE. This image has a double meaning to that word.

1st:  It was part of my thank you to all the people that helped me create my first children's book, Bobby's Biggest Bubble.

2nd: The book itself was dedicated to my Uncle Bob, who inspired me with creative thinking, fun and just a ton of laughs. My Uncle passed away nearly 20 years ago from his bout with Leukemia -- but the memory of him and his influences on me live on . . .

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chef Gordon Baloo

This was a character I remember sketching on my train ride back from New York City - sometime in the 90's. There is something I love about this character, it just makes me smile.  I haven't the slightest idea why I made him a chef, but for some odd reason it works. His name came to me instantly; a play on words with Cordon Bleu Chef. I'd just mixed it around a little and got Chef Gordon Baloo.
My original intentions were to make him a villain for one of my children's stories (and that may still come into play one day.) But because he is one of my favorite characters, he has become like a mascot for my company Arrrggghhh Ink.
[I've even did a little animation of him some time back.  If I can figure out how to embed a flash animation into this blogger, I will try and post that one day soon.]

This image was done in pencil, then selected areas were colorized in PhotoShop.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Archive Findings: Giggle Dog

Another old image from around the late 90's. This was a character made for greeting cards. I don't remember the exact words for the cards -- but the cover had a phrase that had the dog saying how excited and elated he was that it was "your birthday!"

The caption inside the card read, "But then again -- I also like to sniff butts, eat my own vomit and drink out of toilet bowls."

ADDENDUM: This is for some reason one of my blog's most popular characters. This image gets hits throughout the year from all over the world. Anyway, I found a B&W inked version of this character, thought I'd paste it here. Not sure if I have the pencil sketch, but if i find it, I'll add it here too.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Archive Findings: Birthday Card Image

This was an image I did for a humor Birthday Card. What's missing here is the HUGE word balloon "BLEECH!" over the character's head.

The caption inside read:
"Heppy Burp-Day!"

Yea, I know . . . pretty lame.
But whatta ya want for a greeting card in the late 80's.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

UPDATE Bobby's Biggest Bubble: Bringing Back an Old Friend

This may sound weird, (and yes it's definitely is not completely sane, but remember I am a cartoonist) . . . but I'm getting nostalgic over a cartoon character as I start completing the ending to my book. The reason? This story allows me to use an old favorite character of mine, Professor Knozstuv.

Somewhere in the scrambling of thoughts, stories, toys and products I had the concept of creating a weekly educational comic strip.  Today, comic strips in newspapers are becoming scarce, but still, I don't want to give away the idea for fear of someone else using the concept . . . but let's just say the comic strip starred a talking bear, a huge monster and all-knowing clumsy Prof. Knozstuv. (No, I don't know why those 3 characters.)

The pencil, ink and color transformation: fleshing out ol' Professor Knozstuv
I don't know where my characters come from, I'm sure it's combination of memories, inspirations and brain storming. To be honest, I'm sure over 50% of the things I have sketched in the past were lost, destroyed or thrown away. But every once in awhile, a character appears on the paper - and there's recognition. I can imagine and "see" the voice, movement and personality of the character. Those are the ones I squirrel away; and the Professor is one of those characters.

He's a little bit Chaplin, pinch of Jerry Lewis' Nutty Professor and even a smidgen of Gabe Caplin's Mr. Kotter. It's probably been over 15 years since I last drew an image of him . . . yet there he is now, in my story playing a key part to the ending.

It feels real good to see the ol' Professor back on the paper again.
Welcome Back, Professor . . . 

- - - - - UPDATE - - - - -
I found 
the very first sketch of the Prof today. This file says it is from Nov 23, 1997 -- but I believe it is much older than that based on the style of my drawing. 
To see this now is strange, seeing the first impression of a character that I have created a few decades ago.  But as time goes on, you tend to improve your characters by eliminating their weaker aspects and emphasizing the better.

(Sidenote: Just look at the first few original comic strips of 
the Peanuts and Garfield, you won't believe what those characters looked like when they were first created.)

- - - - - END OF UPDATE - - - - -

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Favorite Past Projects: Santas Throughout History

{Slowly things are getting back to normal here since the storm Sandy hit our area hard last week.  There is concern that a nor'easter storm is now on the way. . .}

This was a project that I really enjoyed researching back in the 90's.
The prior year, I had made a successful line of plush Santas from around the world, dressing Santas up in their native garb. So the following year, I thought of creating a new line of plush Santas throughout history. Looking into all the origins and connections of Santa was a major task and amazing, especially when you can find so many traditions that were adapted and revised from so many other countries. (And not all of them were connected to Christmas.)

CUSTOM HANG TAGS: This project was to create a set of plush Santas Claus toys, each based of variations of Santa Claus legends throughout history.

Below are the backsides of the custom hang tags; each were to be short factoids about the different versions of Santa Claus throughout history. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Website Mascot Pencil Sketches

Back in 2006, my friend John Biank was thinking of developing a tutorial service for digital design. His concept was to develop a website with videos lessons of using graphic applications and showing techniques. When we discussed this project, I thought of creating a mascot character to help brand his site. 

Since the site was like an educational service, I thought an owl mascot in the role of a professor might work best. These four pencil sketches were done in several poses to use as spot illustrations for his site.

I had wanted to help John develop more lessons and images for his site, but shortly after these sketches were sent to him, I became too busy starting my own company designing mass market products.

He liked the character at the time, but looking at it now it was probably too cutesy and 
juvenile for what he really wanted. If I had to do this over - I would have made a robot or techno character instead . . .

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

(Updated) Daily Quick Sketch: 'Rilla Before and After

(Update - Adding colored version 10-24-2012)
Wrapping up a series of simian characters, this is a quick Gorilla sketch. I wanted to time myself to go quickly from sketch to digital inking.

Quickly inking, you can see the changes made especially with the face/eyes area. It's a completely different looking ape now, in fact the inked version looks like an older gorilla then the pencil sketch. Showing how the slightest of changes makes a difference.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

(Update - Color) Daily Quick Sketch: Pencil Monkey

Another simian sketch of a playful flipping chimp.

Digitally colored and drop shadow filtered.
This was done with pencil on a Dura-Lar sheet.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Daily Quick Sketch Before & After: 'Tang

Been awhile since I posted.
With last week's NYC Comic Con and my current workload making Halloween costume designs . . . I've been pretty much exhausted. 
I'll try to get back into doing more things for the blog on a regular basis.

This post is one of several ape sketches I have been playing around with. I named this character 'Tang, because of the constant correction that people want to enforce on the animal's name lately. The confusion is that the name can be spelled ORANGUTAN or ORANGUTANG, but that "g" at the end is actually silent.

Personally, I think pronouncing the "g" at the end is more fun and more in character with the animal. Mostly because it brings me back to the orange space drink "Tang" when I was a kid and it rhymes with cool words like boomerang. But it's also one of those annoying English-language-breaking-the-rules kinda words with a silent "G".
The English language is full of rules that always have exceptions for no reason.

So go on, and break the rule of the broken English rule and say Orangutang with a "G" sound at the end! 
And when some smarty-pants tries to correct you - simply turn to them and say, "Oh! I suppose I'm should say boomeran instead of boomerang too, eh?!! In your FACE!!!"
Then walk away.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bobby's Biggest Bubble: Now available online

Bobby's Biggest Bubble in now available online for purchase at Etsy and eBay!
There will be more marketing locations added in the coming months, but for now I need to control the amount of books being sold until I receive the bulk of my shipment in a few weeks.

Etsy is the world's handmade and personal product marketplace. The site helps many small businesses, artisans and designers sell their goods online. By using Etsy, people may now use their credit card (Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, Discover) to place an order for the book. Click on the image below for a direct link to Etsy:

Many of you already know eBay as the world's most popular marketplace for anyone to buy and sell nearly anything. It is one of the most popular and safest sites on the Internet. But the main reason to post on eBay is that they accept payments via PayPal.  With Paypal, you can easily make and send payments via email address and use you checking or credit card accounts. Click the image below for a direct link to eBay:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bobby's Biggest Bubble: 1st Shipment of the Books have Arrived!

Books are in, and they look great!
Mailing out to KickStarters begins Thursday Oct, 4th.
New orders for the book will available in a few weeks in the middle of October; I'll be sure to provide links to where the book will be sold.

First shipment arrives and looks fantastic

Closer look at the bookmarkers

Showing the white bubble wrapped packet and it's contents going out to KickStarters


Monday, October 1, 2012

Daily Quick Sketch: Before & After Adventure Time

Below is a little Fan Art image of one of my favorite cartoons shows: Adventure Time.
Quick digital inking and color: Adventure Time!!!

Before: Pencil Sketch

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Daily Quick Sketch: Gabby the Rooster

Few people wrote saying that they like seeing the pencil sketches because it shows the thought process to the final drawing.  I'll start tossing a few pencil sketches and sometimes show the pencil-ink-color comparisons from now on.

Below is Gabby, a rooster character I've been thinking about for some time.
I want to do a collective book of short tales that follow in the steps of Rudyard Kipling's "How the . . . " tales. (e.g. Elephant's got his trunk, Camel's got his hump, etc.)

In this particular story, it will answer the question, "Why does the Rooster crow in the morning?"
Gabby with his beak taped shut

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Daily Quick Sketch: Skreetch

While working on a new owl costume, I sketch'd this baby owl.

A Tip O' the Hat to Print Ninja

Things are happening fast now.

I must take time here to thank Print Ninja's staff: Paula, Dak and Daniel for helping me get this book to final print. These people have answered my insane amount of questions and have taken the time to make this book look the way I envision it. I highly recommend their printing service; not only because they have a great quoting system on their website with great pricing -- but they have been the friendliest printing staff I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

So . . . The book's proof came in this week. It's looking good. They did a fantastic job making a hardbound proof.

I had several issues, such as the yellow coloring on the cover and the title page, the cover's background color not hit the fold lines and several of my own coloring errors inside the book. Most errors were minor issues and easily corrected.

With the revised work sent, the book is officially ordered to go to final print. The expedited shipment should arrive in about a week or so for me to get out the books to you KickStarters who funded $25 and up. The buttons are also here and ready to go. The bookmarks should arrive with or around the time the book shipment is delivered. So all things seem to be on track.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bobby's Biggest Bubble Button (say that 3 times)

Here's the artwork for the book's button, showing two styles:

I'm still playing around with the artwork, trying to figure which would look better when in button format. I like the lettering looking more "blown out" on the left, which is similar to what I did on the cover. The image on the right: the lettering reads cleaner.

I also don't know which size of the "Bobby character" I want to use yet.
The smaller I make him, the bigger the bubble becomes, (which is the main idea.)
But if Bobby's image is too small on a 2.25" button, it will be harder to see and figure out what he is doing. I'
m going to test out a few samples to see what works best for a 2.25" button.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Daily Sketch: Pumpkinhead

It's that time of year again, where all focus is on Halloween. I usually do Halloween designs from late August and well into November.
So today, I did a quick little warm-up sketch of a pumpkin headed character.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bobby's Biggest Bubble: Bookmark

Below is the artwork layout for the bookmark for BobsBigBub.** Note there is a .125" bleed area on all sides of the artwork (you can see the thin black lines in the corners of the artwork.) That's the area that will be cut off so that there's a nice clean edge of the bookmark.  Everyone who pre-ordered the book via KickStarter will be getting several copies of this bookmark.

Later on this week, I will post the BobsBigBub button artwork.

** That's my new shorthand for Bobby's Biggest Bubble, which I have typed too many times in the past few months.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Ol' Gum Promotional Gimmick

Talking to my cousin Cindy about Bobby's Biggest Bubble, she mentioned that maybe I should consider sending gum when trying to promote the book. Funny thing is, I did try something like that long ago at my first attempt to get the book published.

So I did a quick search on my archive drives. There, among the many archived files of rejection letters, I found the old gum wrapper design used to promote the book. I would send the redesigned gum packs with my dummy book submissions to various publishers.

The plan was simple:
  • Buy several packets of Trident gum. 
  • Measure the size of the gum packs. 
  • Redesign a wrapper that featured Bobby and promote the book.
  • Print the wrapper on high gloss film.
  • Remove the Trident wrapper.
  • Use double sided tape to attach new wrapper design around the trident gum.
It looked really good, but apparently it didn't work.

To be honest, I don't think many of the publishers I submitted to even looked at my book. In fact, I know several publishers never even cracked open the book's cover, because I placed very tiny seals on the edge of the books. When those books were returned - those seals weren't broken.

This is still a good idea.
I think I'll update the artwork and info and try this again.