Eisner Award Nominee

Stanley’s Ghost, our first comic featuring Stanley, Natasha, Chester, Baby Fang, Bandit and Billy is nominated for an Eisner Award.  The Eisner Awards are like the Academy Awards, but for comic books.  It’s a huge honor even to be nominated.  So to hear that Stanley’s Ghost is nominated for Best Single Issue, I was extremely happy!  Speechless (if you can believe that…lol).  It’s such a good feeling to see your characters grow up from an idea in your head to being nominated in a comic book.

However, I didn’t create this comic alone.  Yes, I created the characters and backgrounds, but the comic was a team effort.  And I’d like to thank each and every one of them.

Co-writer/Story: Paul Storrie
Artist: Dave Alvarez
Created/Co-writer/Story/Colorist: Jeff Balke (me)
Letterer: Janice Chiang

I also want to give a HUGE shout out too Sandy King and Sean at Storm King Productions for the opportunity to create this book through them.  Without you guys, this book wouldn’t see the light of day.  THANK YOU guys!  THANK YOU team!!!  Now let’s GET THAT WIN 😉

Returning to Conventions

I’m very happy to announce, that this month, I’m returning back to conventions.  However slowly, but I do have a couple one day show set up so far.  With the long tough year we all just went though (and still going through), I need to get out.  Most of us do.

The first show I have lined up is the Mighty Con Milwaukee Comic Con, June 26th.  The venue is taking precautions along with the show, stating that everyone must wear a mask.  But, they are not limiting how many people go on the floor (as of now).  At my booth I’ll have of course my mask on and we’ll have sanitizer for anyone who wants to use it at my booth.

I’m debuting new ARToons and the NEWLY matted Original Hand Colorings along with our first comic, Stanley’s Ghost.  However, I’m going one step further and I’ve invited my cartoonist, Eric C. Martin to join me with his own table at the show.  So you can see the cartoonist who’s been drawing Stanley and Friends ARToons and comic strips.  Since we have a couple of our weekly strips in the back of the comic Stanley’s Ghost, he’ll also be glad to sign it too.

I’m coming back FULL FORCE but focusing on the studio.
I’m looking forward to seeing you at the show.

For more info and ticket info click here: Mighty Con Milwaukee

The Big Move

In case you didn’t see the social media posts or videos, we recently moved.  Sometimes closing the book on one part of your life means you get too start a whole new book.  That’s exactly what we’ve done.  From here on out, we’re writing a whole new book in our lives and personally, I’m “going back to basics” with the studio.

Now that’s something you’ve heard me say before.  “Going back to basics”.  This is really meaning I’m giving the studio my full attention which is what it deserves.  For months, leading up to the move, we’ve head a number of personal issue going on we’ve had to face.  But now, we’re leaving that behind us and looking forward.  I’m building a strong foundation the studio can build on.  This is what I mean by going back to basics.  If you don’t have a strong foundation, everything will crumble.  I’ve always known what I wanted the studio to look like and produce, but I sometimes got a little sidetracked with outside influences.

Over the next couple of months, you’ll see some updates to this site and my social media pages.  Plus you’ll see more posts about sales and the NEW official merchandise now available.

Keep tooned in here for more info and updates and if you haven’t already, don’t forget to follow us here:

HIRING Cartoonist/Illustrator for Comic

You might remember, that back in October of 2020, we had our very first Halloween One Shot comic debut through Storm King Productions.  I’m honored to announce we’ve been asked to create another one shot comic featuring, Stanley and Friends.  But this one will be released in Sept (a couple weeks earlier).

Right now we’re finishing the writing portion of the script.  Next, it goes off to the artist, which is where this blog comes in.  I’m looking for a cartoonist who can draw in the cartoon style.  Think Mickey Mouse, Garfield or Peanuts, something along those lines.

If you’re interested, please send a link of your work to jeff@jeffbalkestudios.com.

I’m looking for someone who knows how to tell a story with pictures.

This is a paid gig and there is a deadline.  Again, if you’re interested, please send me a link of your work too: jeff@jeffbalkestudios.com

The Job of the Job

When I’m at an event or a guest speaker somewhere, there’s one question I get asked the most which is, “how do you break in the business”?  I wish I could tell you there was an answer for this one, but really, there isn’t.  I’ve mentioned this before, but what I always tell people who are eager to do what they love as a career, is just keep on doing it.  Keep on doing it until you get sick of it and you want to quit, then keep on pushing after that.  Whatever you do, don’t give up.

It’s difficult to take a hobby that you enjoy doing and make it into a career, because now, you have to WORK at it.  That may not be true for everyone, but usually because you want to make it into how you put food on the table, you really do have to work at it now.  It’s not something you can just push aside and come back too later.  I’ve been there.  Taking something that I loved to do and making it into a career.

When I first started out in the comic industry coloring comic books, I had two full time jobs (one of which was more time consuming than the other).  But I worked retail management at Crate and Barrel  in Chicago (busy store).  You’re constantly doing something, running around, stocking and all the fun stuff that comes with retail…lol.  But I also was collecting comics years before I started working there and wanted to make “comic books” or art my career.  I enjoyed it and wanted to work for myself.  I think it was about 8 years earlier I started teaching myself to color digitally.  They didn’t have the schools they have now or the YouTube presence they have today.  Now you can look up how to do anything basically on YouTube.  So I purchased a few CD-Roms (for those of us who remember those…lol) and books (those too) and taught myself.  That by itself was a full time job.  But I was determined to do it and MAKE it.

In 2009, I got “let go” of the retail job and I was already working fulltime in comics with a company and on my first major professional comic.  Years to follow after that I thankfully worked on hundreds of comics (coloring them) from Marvel to indy companies.  But now I’ve stared a whole new adventure and the whole process all over again.  I was working in comics for years, but it really slowed down, and realized that my passion and heart was in something else…animation.  I “let go” of working fulltime in comics and started my new career in animation.  It’s been a rocky start, but that’s just all part of it.

You just never know where things are going to lead you.  The way I “broke in” may not be the same way someone else you ask broke in.  But the biggest take out of this is, never lose sight of your passion.  Follow your heart.  That is how you will break in.  It won’t be overnight, it will take time, maybe even years.  But you can’t give up.  You may have to work a fulltime job and your career.  It may seem difficult and impossible, but believe me, it’s not.

I’m really excited about what my studio has coming out soon.  Something different, something unique.  This is something I never felt in the comic industry (NOT in a bad way).  But I kept reaching for more and wanted the characters to come to life on screen.  And now, I’m on my way to making that happen.

Again, DON’T GIVE UP!  It’s all just the Job of the Job.

Hiring a 2D Animator

I’m very excited to announce that I’m looking for a 2D animator for a short little clip (up too 10 seconds long) featuring one of my little guys.  There will be music with the clip, but no voiceovers and light sound effects.  This is a very simple and fun animation.

If you’re interested, please send me a link to your demo reel at: jeff@jeffbalkestudios.com or go to the “contact” page here and send it there.

I hoping to get this started as quickly as possible, so again, if you’re interested and serious, please contact me.
OH and yes, this is a paid gig.

Social Media ARToons

One way I sell and promote my ARToons is by posting them on Social Media.  What are ARToons?  These are what I call the cartoon artworks of my characters like Stanley Squirrel and friends and all the other characters from Jeff Balke Studios.
I just took the words Cartoon and Art, mashed them together to make: ARToons.

In addition to selling the ARToons on my BalkeStudiosART.com store, you’ll be able to “claim” them right off of my Facebook and Instagram pages.  Now why did I use the word “claim”? Well you’re not buying them right off of FB and putting your credit card info down on either site.  Instead, when I post an ARToon, simply let me know you want it (by saying claim, or I’d like that one, or however you ‘d like to let me know) and I’ll pull it aside for you.  On Sunday of that week, I’ll tally up how many ARToons you’ve claimed, add up the price, add shipping (which I do combine shipping on multiple purchases starting at $5) and send you an invoice either with PayPal or Square.  It’s that simple.

All ARToons will will be posted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and will have a limited quantity specifically for the Social Media posts.  Some will also be discounted as a little special for these deals.

I hope this all made sense…lol!  If you ever have any questions about how this works, you can always shoot me an email or send me a PM on any of the social media pages I have.

Do What You Have Too

Some of you have asked me, “why do you always post about prints and merchandise”?  The simple answer is…merchandising and to help bring money into the studio.  Having your own business or in my case, studio, is not cheap.  You basically have to do what you can to bring money in (legally…haha).  One of the quickest and best ways I know, is simply by opening up an online store of some kind and sell through there.  Pre-Covid, I’d set up at conventions around the country and sell the ARToons and talk with people about the studio and characters.  Now that’s the REAL “facetime”, “facebook”, whatever you want to call it.  Talking to people face to face.  I love that.

When I decided to open up my own online stores, one of artwork (BalkeStudiosArt.com) and the other merchandise (through TeeSpring), I knew it was going to be extra work, but work that I’d love doing.  It’s not that I just post an image on a t-shirt and call it a day.  No no, it’s much more than that.  You have to set it up, design the graphic and choose which items are best you want to sell.  I make it sound easy, but it’s pretty time consuming.  So when I post a piece of merchandise like a t-shirt, there’s been a couple of hours invested in that piece, not to mention creating the art itself.  Same goes for the ARToons (the cartoon art) I sell.

Not by any means am I complaining.  I’m just letting you know why I post a lot about the ARToons and merchandise.  I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.  Even though the animation side is taking longer than I anticipated, I’m not letting it get me down.  There are SO many other ways my characters are reaching you guys.  We have our weekly comic strips featuring Stanley and Friends starting back up coming this March with a WHOLE different approach and story.  Of course like I’ve been talking about, I have merchandise and ART so you can take home and enjoy the characters and art at home all the time.  Plus a few different projects coming out this year.

If you haven’t thought of it already, please check out my two stores by going to the “store” button on this site OR click:
TEESPRING (Merchandise Store)

Building the Team

I remember as a kid, sitting down and watching Saturday morning cartoons and Disney’s Silly Symphonies among other, religiously all the time, every day.  I was fascinated how amazing everything looked from the painted background to how the characters moved realistically.  Of course, being a kid you don’t realize how much effort and time is put into creating an animation.  One day, years later when I was a teenager, I realized what makes me happy.  It was the art of animation and the process of creating it.  Recently, I found that love again and now finally “Building the Team” for my very own studio.  I’m not just looking for people to DO it, but people who can contribute and bring something to the table.  I do have a vision, buy I can’t do it myself.  Hey, not even Disney did everything himself.

Animation is a lengthy process and takes time.  It has steps.  Which is why, I’m taking things step by step making sure nothing gets missed.  The first step in the animation process is the story and Story Artists or Storyboard Artists.  These are people who can tell a story with pictures, no words.  I’m not only looking for great art, but storytellers who can entertain.  Know how to tell a story.  Originally storyboards were done by drawing on what looks like flashcards which were then pinned to a wall in order from beginning to end, showing the entire animation as individual pictures.  However, we’re in the digital age where everything is done on the computer.  This is the preferred way I’d like the boards created.  They’re easier to follow along and create the animatics.

If your interested in creating storyboards with me and serious, please go to the career page and fill out the info.  If you have a link to storyboards or animatics you’ve already created, please add that too, when filling out the info.

You may be wondering why I gave you simple explanations on what storyboarding is.  Yes, I am looking for people to help create my vision however, not everyone who reads this is an animator or even knows the process.  I want this blog to be entertaining for everybody while at the same time “building the team”.  Who says you can’t get down to business, and have fun too?


First of all, let me say HAPPY NEW YEAR.  Last year will go down in history as…a MESS!  The last few years for me have been extremely difficult due to family deaths, sales dried up, me being diagnosed with MS and I can go on and on.  But one thing I’ve always done with things looking down and out is, learn from it and grow.  Last year was a bad year, for everybody.  But I’ve realized what’s important to me and I’m going to focusing on those things.

As I had mentioned, over the last few years I’ve been bombarded with a lot of personal issues.  It brought my attitude down and made me extremely stressed out and veer off the path of what I need and want to do.  I’m not talking about things like “they unfriended me” or my coffee was made wrong.  No no, I’m talking about some major life changing issues.  However I made a pact with myself, that I’m going to pick myself up, and kick some butt moving forward!  In order for me to do that, I have to go “back to basics”.

This year I have a few things lingering I have to work out from last year, but my chalk board is getting erased and I can start a new.  That’s where I’m going with the studio, staring a new.  I’m not erasing what I’ve already done and created, but moving forward and setting myself up and it for success.  I’m going back and rebuilding the groundwork for the studio and making sure it has a solid strong platform to stand on.  I’ll still be creating NEW ARToons for the store and a whole new line of art and creations for you to purchase and enjoy at home.  Since right now, this is the only way I can fund the studio, is by sales on balkestudiosart.com.

This blog is about new beginnings, starting over, building that foundation, showing and telling you who I am and who the studio is.  What our goals are and where I came from.  You don’t know who our characters are or who the main six are.  That’s my fault, I never formally introduced you.  But I’m going to change that.  I have a NEW line of weekly comic strips coming up starting in the Spring with ALL NEW stories.  Thanks to Storm Kids Comics (Storm King Productions), we just released our first one shot Halloween comic last year and now working on the second.  Animations are in the works but that is a very expensive process and it’s taking a little longer than expected.  But I don’t get up.  I’m not a quitter!  I accept that challenge.

2021 is all about NEW and moving forward.  New in a lot of ways.  I’m not looking back, only forward.  I think that’s some of the best advise for all of us.  To keep moving forward, but not to remember the mistakes, from the past (so we don’t make them again).

Every Friday right here, I’ll be posting a new blog on this page.  I do hope you join me.  Some blogs may be short, some long, it just depends.  But here you’ll get exclusive INTRODUCTIONS to the characters of Jeff Balke Studios and SO much more.