Friday, December 23, 2011

Certified Classics - The McFarren Edition

Over at the One Lucky Guitar site Matt and the likely lads got a little something going called the Certified Classics. It's fun reading and gets you thinking about your own classics. I love music and really love the music I love, so I got to thinking, then I got to writing.

Honorable Mentions
10. The Ramones – The Ramones
9. The Cure – Disintegration
8. The Clash – London Calling
7. Social Distortion – Social Distortion
6. Rancid – And Out Come the Wolves

5. Led Zeppelin - Houses Of The Holy

My parents were big into music, like a lot of people, and I remember most times in my house (through all the moves) some kind of music going on. My parents had records. I remember being about five when they taught me how to gently set the needle down and listen for the smooth, crackling of the right placement.

When I was in 7th grade I rediscovered my parent’s record collection as I, along with pubescent youth all over America got heavily into the 1960’s, realized the absolute GOLD MINE that was in the cabinet under the stereo. I couldn’t care less about trove of alcohol there, but the other side, snuggled up next to each other was record after record to make my friends jealous. Sly and the Stones and Jimi and, you got it, Zeppelin. Three classic records. Led Zeppelin III, IV and Houses Of The Holy. Of course my parents loved that I suddenly was ravenous for these vinyl gems and told me stories that went along with each record. My dad told about seeing them in Germany, and how they kinda limped along, not really doing much until four songs in when they got to Stairway To Heaven. “That,” he said, “Is when they REALLY kicked it in!” dropping down into an awkward I’ve-Never-Played-An-Actual-Guitar Air Guitar Solo.

I discovered the joy of music. Of sharing passion and love and the stories about and around music then, at that weird time when you shouldn’t be having such moments between your parents and your middle school self.

And though, my mother kind of dismissed HotH, saying it just wasn’t as good as IV, that’s the one I connected with. That’s one of the ones in my house now that I play, loud and rowdy in the summer while we grill and my own kids get down to it.

These have to be rated to together for me. A veritable trifecta of musical power, revealed to great effect and awe, as young sixth-grade McFarren rolls down a hill, falls on already skinned knees and decides to call it a day a read the new “magazine” he has at home on his new favorite past time. It was on newsprint, still black and white then, and named Thrasher and it’s pages revealed the true glory of the Southern Californian lifestyle of skateboarding and the underground culture that came with it: graffiti, indie art, and punk rock.

So when my Grandma took me out for my annual birthday shopping spree, I, for the first time, decided to forego the toy stores and instead drug her around the record stores until I found tapes of some of the bands I had read about and knew I needed to be truly like my heroes. I came home with those three tapes and, truly, they blew me away. I only knew radio pop and classic rock and this was so much different! This was another world. It was angry and political and raw. And, yeah, I didn’t understand much of it for a long time but it hit me in my core and never let me go. My parents were so cool about it, too. They didn’t try to keep it out of my hands, while obscenities screamed out of the speaker, they just told me to keep it in my room. It opened so many doors to great music and art and still does. It helped me to be who I was, who I needed to be and helped shape me into the man I am.

3. Jane’s Addiction – Ritual de lo Habitual

Probably not the Jane’s album that makes most people’s lists because it was so all over the place and out there, right at their most commercial friendly time. But, to me, it was art. Art with a capital A. It was rockin’ and raucous and rebellious. It was rebellious in the chances it took, the stories it told, the visions it cast. It blew me away. I brought it home, loaned to me by my art bud, Brian Frieburger and went to my room and turned it up until my parents came home. I emerged from my room, not quite knowing what had happened but that it was good. The rest of high school had this record as it’s soundtrack and “Classic Girl” is still one of my all time favorite love songs.

2. Jawbreaker – 24-Hour Revenge Therapy

So there was this girl. This girl was amazing. I mean, we “met” (we actually knew each before that) at a Tilt show at Club 13 when it was on Wells right before the bridge. She was up on stage, standing against the wall because her and her friend had gotten to know Cinder Block before hand. And, dang!, if she wasn’t the cutest thing. And, then, dang!, if she didn’t put the perfect disc into my hands. Raw, tortured, angry, and romantic. The love songs for everything unrequited; for extremely late art school nights; for passionate make out sessions behind the couch and stolen kisses in the Sci-Fi section; for screaming along to in your car while dreaming of the bigger world.

Matt wanted lyrics to break his heart, well, brother, give a listen.

1. Pearl Jam – 10

Stop me if heard this one: A Matt Kelley walks into an art room and yells across the room: “Hey, Jeremy! I got this new band who has a song about you!” Then he walks over to out art teacher and, in the way that Matt can, convinces him to put on the stereo so we can listen while we work. And, when, that song comes on, the one I share a name with, and the chorus rides in, I look and Matt and he gives me that nod and that smile. You know the one.

Matt’s probably moved on form Pearl Jam, chasing down Bob and Bruce, but I haven’t. I mean, I’ve had affairs along the way, dallying with punk and hardcore, short flirtings with early Emo and Krishna-core, and the live-in mistresses that are punk and reggae, but I always come back to PJ.

It was the sound of my first true heartbreak. It was the sound of the end of high school, gathered a fire with my best friends. It was sound of Freshman year art school and digging though bootleg bins to find the best of the discs. It was the sound of letting go of a hellacious semester of work, shared live with my wife. It’s powerful, anthemic rock-n roll for the ages. I mean, Alive, seriously, doesn’t have all the trappings of one of the greatest Rock songs of all time, you truly haven’t given in and listened to it live. It’s got it all: a hook, a chorus, a slow build with face melting guitars that keeps going until it all crashes to the end celebrating the fact that we’re all still alive.

I’m sure there’s a lot of great thinkers about rock-n-roll who will malign my ramblings, but they would be missing the point. Sometimes you just need to stop thinking and feel.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Every year I draw our Christmas card and we send it out as a postcard. When we were first married we were poor and postcard stamps and copy machines were the cheapest route. Then I started stumbling on to all these great cards from some of my cartooning heroes, so I decided to make it a tradition. I've had some bad ones along the way, but it's fun for me every year and I've been told some people actually look forward to getting them and adding them to their collection. That is always guaranteed to bring out the "Aw, shucks!" in me.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cards and Invites For The Season's

Gotta whole messa work done today while my son napped, trying to recover from his coughy mess of a chest.

Every year, I draw the kids invites for their parties and the postcard cartoon for our Holiday card. This tradition started way back when my wife and I were first married and we wanted a custom card and were too poor to afford it. Drawing, photocopying and a postcard stamp were the cheapest option! Now, it's a beast I can't stop as people tell how much they forward to their card in the mail, but really, why would I want to?

Thursday, November 03, 2011

New Red Rocket Comics Etsy Store

I got my Etsy store all set up! In time for some holiday shopping! Mention this blog when you order and I'll throw in a free Black and White sketch!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I'll be participating in a show at The Lotus Gallery that's comic book themed. They are trying to make it like a little mini comic con! Kinda cool! I won't get to have a table at their "con" as I will be at a wedding, BUT they WILL have copies of both my RocketBoy book and my The Cauldron In The Back Cabinet (check over on the sidebar). 
Above is a little sneak peek at one of my entries. I'll prolly have a couple small drawings too. Hope you can make it out!

p.s. If you want a copy of my book and wanna order one for pick up, let me know and I'll float a little doodle on the inside. You know, to punch up the resale value a couple cents in the next 50 years.


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"Monkey-a-bunga! Lunchbox #doodles "


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"#Spaceman and #alien illo in progress "

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Crane Wife doodles.

(Actually this is a test to see if I can publish from Instagram on my phone.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lunch Box Doodles

Added a bunch more of my Lunchbox doodles over here:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

RocketBoy and Cauldron and Art

The History Center here in Fort Wayne is having an auction to raise money for the museum. My better half and I are donating some shtuff. I'm donating some copies of my books and an original drawing in the form of an original page, created specifically for the auction. It's just a little one pager, light, fun, drawn and inked in an evening. The books are shown over there on the right!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

New Lunch Box Doodles

Took a day off from the story, but now we're back at it. An Instagram friend suggested I put all these little drawings together in a mini comic. I like that idea. I've been debating putting them all up here, but I don't have any extra time for scanning right now. Maybe soon.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Lunch Box Doodles-1

This started as a way to get my kids excited about going back to school: I'd put a little drawing in their lunchbox or bag for them to find. A little thing to ease anxiety and have a little fun. It also kept me drawing all kinds of stuff. Mostly light-hearted stuff to entertain them, make them smile.

I started when my daughter went to Kindergarten a couple years ago. Played around with images, told a weird little story, and then got busy with stuff and didn't do much last year. But I'm back at it now that my son is in kindergarten and my daughter has a broken arm.

This year's batch started out the same, little drawings, mostly of animals or anthropomorphized animals, light, fun; but I gotta tell stories. So here we go. Drawings right in ink, right onto the page and presented right out of the sketchbook, just like my kids see them. Not sure what the story is, but it will also be told 2 parts at a time.

I'm having a blast drawing for them, hopefully you'll like 'em too! I've been sharing them over on Instagram, too. If you wanna see 'em there, check me out: JJMcFarren.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Me as Tin Tin

I drew Tin Tin as a self-portrait because when I had short hair I kinda looked like him. Definitely had the little whip of hair. So I added glasses and my new beard, but now it just looks kinda creepy. heh!

I remember discovering the Tin Tin books back in Middle School. I think the first book I saw was even in french. I couldn't read it, but the story telling captured me! I searched them out at the library and the adventure and action and childlike wonder still gets me today.

And, of course, because I can't get away from my love of the look, a half-tone version:

Swamp Thing Sketch reposted from Summit City Ink

Added some water and a little more detail around the shadows and such. Done for now.

...but I needed to post SOMEthing.....Must confess: I never really got into swamp thing. Prolly just never really got into at the right time. But as a kid, I dug the movie. And we had one of those weird playdoh-like action figures where you could rip his arm off and stick it back. (Except when it got too full of carpet junk and animal hair!)

Monday, July 11, 2011

My Hellboy Cover

No, it's not a paid gig. (Yet! ; P) It's for this contest over at Dark Horse. Choose a cover and redraw it. 

I chose this one because this was a great storyline, one that changed Hellboy's life forever and this issue featured a mucked with gorilla! Mine doesn't come close to Mike's but such is life. I'm digging my work, tho, if I can stretch my arm muscles a little to reach my back! Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Polly Esther Posters

My better half is a pretty talented artist as well as teacher. Her new little venture is this thing called Polly Eshther Threads. She makes these fun-shaped crayons--

And these T-Shirt scarves. She has a really good eye for putting this stuff together and making it look pretty rad. She sells Polly Esther goods at Firefly Coffee House, Fort Wayne Museum of Art and will be, along with myself, the Featured Artist at Freshly on July 18th. I put these posters together to start advertising her work a little more as she she starts to get some more exposure.

Look for an Etsy store soon!
If you'd like to order some crayons or scarves, drop her a line at She can do batches, too!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Cauldron In The Back Cabinet Book One!

That's right! My little baby is ready to fly out of the nest and into the bright world! 
You can check out the first 30 or so pages over here. If you want would like a copy order below or on the side of the blog!

It's 48 black and white pages with full-color cover.  
$8 for the book and $2 for shipping and it will come to your door with an original sketch tucked inside! 
(Let me know if you want the sketch kept PG.)

When Livi stumbles across a strange black pot in her parent’s kitchen she unexpectedly opens a door to a magical world filled with mystery.   

How far through the door is she willing to go?

And can she close the door before it becomes too dangerous?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summit City Comic Con Sketches

Summit City Floor Plan Map!

I've been busy creating sketches for pre-orders for my book The Cauldron In The Back Cabinet and to have some avaliable at Summit City Comic Con this weekend. So I thought I'd throw a few up here. I'm still taking pre-orders and would love to draw something for you! Stop by my table and see this weekend or drop me a line if you want a little sketch up! 

I like to draw all kinds of stuff so if you wanna pick a subject you can! 

Sketches are 5"x7" Ink on Bristol board and only $5
$10 if you just want it in color. 
Add $2 and they can be shipped right to your house!

Friday, June 03, 2011

The Cauldron In The Back Cabinet going to the presses!

That's right! My little baby is about ready to fly out of the nest and into the bright world! The first book is ready to print and I am taking pre-orders! You can check out the first 30 or so pages over here. If you want would like a copy, drop me a line and your name will go on the list! 

It's 48 black and white pages with full-color cover.  
$8 for the book and $2 for shipping and it will come to your door with an original sketch tucked inside! 
(Let me know if you want the sketch kept PG.)

When Livi stumbles across a strange black pot in her parent’s kitchen she unexpectedly opens a door to a magical world filled with mystery.   

How far through the door is she willing to go?

And can she close the door before it becomes too dangerous?

I will also have stuff at Summit City Comic Con again on June 18th at the Grand Wayne Center. Stop by and say hi and pick up a book. 
Lots of other great buddies there with some great work for sale! 

Hope to see you!

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Cauldron Page

Alright, now we get to start getting a look at what this thing is.

 Hey! I'm going to start reminding everybody that I'm going to be at the super sweet Summit City Comic Con June 18th! I'll have a table representing Red Rocket again. I'll have copies of RocketBoy, Cauldron, and some copies of the mini I did. Plus art and stuff. And, I'd love to be commissioned. Some other rad guys and girls will be there, too, like my buddy Tim Baron, who'll have copies of his new book, which looks amazing! 

You can follow me on twitter here and the con here. Hope to see you all there!

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Cauldron Page and Other Comic Stuff

Livi's tired of not knowing rhat's going on, too. She doesn't quite know why she's scared suddenly, but she's gonna find out.

A bit comics journalism: Matt McClure from the IPFW Communicator contacted me about contributing to their comics themed issue of The Communicator. I agreed. They sent me a story. The story was about Lloy Ball retiring. It was a fun little project. Quick turnaround. Not en ought time to dwell.
Above is the final color version, below the sketch.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Columbo Contemplates His Lost Keys

My submission to the group sketchblog I'm a part of: Columbo!  Gotta admit: I don't know much about this guy other than a few episodes I watched on a little RCA TV with one of those UHF/VHF dials and rabbit ears at my Grandma's. I'd prolly like it, the character is interesting visually, but, you know how these things go....

Brush pen, with some PS toning. I left the scanned sketchbook rings in homage to the whole P.I. thing. It might be cheesy, though....

Original sketch is 8" x 10" Brush pen on paper. Can be part of your collection if you're a lover of 70's detective stories starring dumpy, dirty old heroes. Drop me a line if you want it.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Greedo's Last Bad Choice

I've been lucky to be included in a group of comic lovers and artists who have a collective blog over at Summit City Ink. We've begun using it as a group sketchblog where we all throw up our versions of a theme onto the blog. This is the first week and the theme was Greedo. I love me some Star Wars so this was pretty fun.

You know, after all these years of being a Star Wars nerd, I've never really considered wether or not Han actually shot first. I was always just into the whole unpredictable cowboy/rebel thing of Han's and thought it was cooler than whiny Luke. Does it matter? Probably not. Not sure I would have waited either.

 Plus, Han was more funny.


If you like my little attempt, I'd be willing to part with it. 8"x10" ink on paper. Drop a line if you want it. More to come!

Monday, May 02, 2011

New Cauldron Page

New page in the story - - Does Livi start to put it all together? 
What happens when she does?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Cauldron Page

Alright, lets start trying to draw some conclusions to all this foreshortening I've been teasing you with. But first a few more questions....

Monday, April 18, 2011

New Cauldron Page

The first part comes to a close with a mysterious figure in black and, 
wait, what's that? Foreshadowing? Oh, my! 
The box of worms Livi has opened is about to get messier! 
Stay tuned!

Tonight's soundtrack provided by  Check em out!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

New Blog Page - Sketchbook Stuff

Scans from my sketchbook. These are mood exercises, drawn directly in brush pen while waiting, talking, watching TV, soccer practice etc.

Monday, April 11, 2011

New Cauldron Page

Livi finds another strange object... 

Drawing all the dead twigs got to be a bit meditative.... This page was neat the end of the initial push for the first 25 pages. I really felt in a groove in the pages leading up to and following this one. Most of the drawing and inking and a chunk of the toning of the past 5 and the next 2 were done in a mad rush in a weekend where I was alone: 
Wife at a Chicago bachelorette party and kids away at Grandparents.
 It was the best and worst weekend. Pure comic making and pure loneliness for the people that make your life really mean something.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

New Cauldron Page

The story starts really picking up here. I've had a great time trying to pack as much moodiness as I can into these pages. 

I created a Pandora station that is cchock fulla moody, dramatic, soundtrack music that has become the go to sound while I work on this.
It started as Boards of Canada and Bruno Coulais, then added the Album Leaf and Danny Elfman and always Ennio Morricone.

I'm going to be here this summer and am trying to get this plus about 24 more pages ready to print up. I'd love any input and if you click on over here, I truly appreciate it!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New Cauldron Page

This was one of my favorite pages to work on so far. Until I go to the next page...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Lotion Song

My final piece for the Lotion Show. Come out tonight and check us out.