This is by no means an official drawing, but this Earthworm Jim redesign really scratches an itch for me.

1. I made his eyes slightly smaller. The larger eyes from the 199s were necessary to show up on a 16-bit game system, but today his eyes would still read even at a slightly smaller size.

2. Less bulging muscles. The power of Jim’s suit comes from technology, not from the size of the muscles. This keeps him from looking like something out of an 80s Rambo movie. He would move a little better as a cartoon character too.

3. I removed his suspenders and just gave him a simple, blue triangle around his neck. This also simplifies his design. Now that didn’t hurt, did it?




February 5, 2018

KickstarterCommishGroupWell, it’s commission time again! Ever since I was in grade school, I drew for my friends. Drawing always seems so hard to do for other people, and it seems really easy for me, so I like drawing for other people. My friend who is a certified public accountant is like a wizard to me. I marvel that he can do his thing, and he looks at my drawing as somehow even harder. We all get good at what we do every day which is why I tell young aspiring artists to just keep drawing all of the time and they can’t help but get good.

I’m not precious about my artwork in that I don’t mind selling it or giving it away. I have so many piles and piles of drawings in my studio that I’d be buried alive if I didn’t give some of this stuff away. Enter Kickstarter, the place where I can place my art with faithful donors… it’s like being in grade school again!

To check out my new Kickstarter and get a hold of a one-of-a-kind original watercolor and ink artwork by me, click here:

Make 100 Doug TenNapel Watercolors!

When I talk about art with my fellow artists, we don’t talk a lot about the business of things, most of those stories are the same for all of us. What really sets us on fire is the reason behind the art. Usually that discussion will end up with us wondering out loud about the artist either showing fidelity to his own vision or making some kind of compromise for his or her audience. Some go farther and put it in crass terms of the artist vs. the audience. But that’s a misnomer because the artist is actually in a position of trust with the audience.

If you think about it, you put your trust in everyone else at some point. When I order a hamburger from the drive through, I trust the cook didn’t put rat poison in my food. I trust the plumber to come into my house where my children are running around. I trust the people who work in the factory that built my car. We’re interconnected in a way that forces us to be vulnerable to complete strangers. I’m not saying people are all trustworthy, but we couldn’t function in life if we didn’t trust the people around us in general.
from a distance

Given we already trust other people all the time, the artist might as well trust an audience if for no other reason than the audience has to put some form of trust in the artist. One example would be when I take my kids to the movies. I trust the story-tellers aren’t going to smash-cut to a hard boiled murder scene in the middle of a story about a cute little bunny. Instead of thinking of the artist-and-audience relationship as adversarial, it ought to be one of humanity and trust.

For this reason the artist has a responsibility to be trustworthy in his or her expression. There are a lot of stories I write or paintings I craft that I know the audience won’t understand, appreciate, enjoy or even tolerate. I’ve seen a score of art shows where the painter seemed to hate the people who came to his work. This is a betrayal of trust, even in modernity when an audience seems to be okay with that betrayal.

It seems that artist and audience has drifted apart over the last half century. We used to all like the same kinds of things. Now we’re splintered into a thousand different cable channels because we can’t culturally come together. My hope is that in the future we can meet in the center somewhere, some day.

A Remake of Earthworm Jim

January 22, 2018

One of the great problems of making something that was once great but will undoubtedly be dated over time is that what we remember about old things don’t necessarily translate into our modern tastes. For Years I’ve heard people demand a new Earthworm Jim, but that could go any number of directions, most of them wrong in my opinion.

The bigger question is “Why do we have such fond memories of old things?” For instance, I love the old Gumby shorts that were crudely animated in the 1960s. They were bought up and broadcast on the cheap in the early 1970s when I was five or six years old. When Gumby was remade as a series in the late 80’s it had a polish and a production value that didn’t interest me. Part of what I liked about it was the clunkiness. It’s like if you remade the 1977 Star Wars today it wouldn’t hold my interest. I don’t love that old Star Wars to have it remade with high end digital effects, better actors and an expanded story line. I like it the way it was.

Commission of EWJ and the Princess. Ink and brush on paper.

This seems to be the key problem to any modern remake of an old idea, a new Earthworm Jim would need to have higher production values. The original Earthworm Jim of 1994 had the best production values for that time but a new game would likely be smothered in high-end CG effects and over-the-top explosions. That would make for a really cool game, but it wouldn’t make you feel like you did in 1994.

I don’t argue that new remakes can’t hold their own as a great gaming experience, but can they make you feel charmed like you did when you first played the original? Here’s the challenge; tell me if you can think of any modern remake that makes you feel the way you did when you saw the original.

About Doug TenNapel

January 21, 2018

Doug TenNapel is the creator of Earthworm Jim, an award winning animator and graphic novelist who moved from California to live in Tennessee with his wife and four children. He has won an Eisner Award and has managed to publish sixteen graphic novels, selling half of the properties into Hollywood. He created animated shows like Earthworm Jim, Project Geeker and Nickelodeon’s Catscratch. He served as the Show Runner/Exec Producer of the Netflix/Dreamworks series VeggieTales in the House, which earned him his first Daytime Emmy nomination.

While Doug’s mass media career has spanned over twenty-five years, he has been a fine artist since his first art show in 1988. His show “A Beautiful Day in the Neverhood” was the start of his desire to bring fine art sensibilities into video games. After the success of Earthworm Jim, Doug met with Steven Spielberg (at his house!) and pitched The Neverhood for the newly created Dreamworks. Spielberg agreed to bring The Neverhood into Dreamworks and the clay-animated game became the first property they picked up, developed and released as Dreamworks! Most importantly, The Neverhood became Doug’s first foray into professional clay animation, started his partnership with musician Terry Taylor, and helped him continue to work with Mike Dietz, Ed Schofield and Mark Lorenzen, Doug’s old college friend.

Doug TenNapel has lectured around the world about video games, character creation and making comics including; Japan, France, UK and Canada. He was a professor at HBU and taught classes on graphic novel creation, video game design, faith and culture, screen writing and history of animation. He blogs and vlogs about story theory, art ethics and defends his claim that Beauty is not subjective. He is known for remaining accessible to his fans and began broadcasting live comic inking sessions from his studio.

He spends his free time writing, drawing and raising amphibians. His current zoo includes a siren (a water salamander with full gills and only two front legs found in Florida swamps) and nine Tennessee cave salamanders.

Education: Point Loma Nazarene University/Cal State University, Fullerton

Location: Franklin, TN

Inking Fast

January 15, 2018

True story, if you’re going to ink with energy, it’s good to ink fast. In my view the reason for doing pencils before inks is so one can ink faster. Once a drawing is penciled, you don’t have to think about nailing proportions, but you can think about putting energy into the final line of your drawing.

Look at the ink sketch of Earthworm Jim below… see how his front leg has a line that breaks up? You can only do that with inks if the brush is running low on black or gotta draw the line so fast that the ink can’t flow out fast enough. The broken line creates speed, which is useful when your character is running.

Cat Videos

January 8, 2018

Think about how much we love animals. Our family went to the Chattanooga Aquarium and we saw animals from all over the world. There were chatting lemurs, sea turtles, starfish and hissing cockroaches. But I liked watching the people watching the animals. Human beings are strange. We have a wide range of strange emotions and motivations. As weird as that turtle is, if you did a documentary on any of these people you would find and epic soap opera beyond belief!

The most interesting animal isn’t as fascinating as the dullest human.