Balkenator Give-A-Way

You’d think that Stanley Squirrel is the first character created for Jeff Balke Studios.  Well you’re pretty much right.  However, there was another character created well before the studio even started when I was coloring comic books full time.

The Balkenator.  Yes, it’s a cartooned version of me.  I introduced him into some of the superhero prints I had and even came up with a storyline for him vs. the Gremlins (yes, the little cute fluffy guys).  The Balkenator got popular enough, that I decided to put him in his own prints and sell them at shows.  Here and there when I first started introduced him fans would ask if he had his own series.  Which got me thinking.  Maybe I should do more with him and expand his friends.  So, the Balkenator got a best friend (who was pretty easy to think of), named B.  B is the cartooned version of my husband Brandon.

What makes these characters so life like, is that, yes they were cartooned versions of us, but we actually have the outfits the characters are drawn in.

From the Balkenator and B, I started creating backgrounds for the characters and stories including the first villain.  I haven’t introduced her yet but you will be seeing her coming around soon.  She’s going to be introduced in an episode of Stanley and Friends.

With the Balkenator and B getting a lot of smiles and fans really enjoy them, I thought right then and there, I need to something big with them.  Animation, comics, comic strips.  Something off the wall…at least for me.  It came to me early in the morning of one of my favorite conventions, MegaCon.

I had just woke up from sleeping and about to start getting ready for my day at the show.  I sat up and blurted out, “I’m going to start my own animation studio”.  B looks over to me with his eyes still pretty much closed, hair everywhere and says, “huh”?  And that’s how the studio actually got started.

We were in Orlando so of course, the smart thing to do was go to Disney World and get my creative juice’s flowing.

So yes, Stanley Squirrel is the first character created IN the studio (even though I had him in my head since I was a kid), but the Balkenator started everything off and planted that seed.  Needless to say, the Balkenator is very personal to me.  A little bit later I was talking with a friend of mine who knew of a few Disney animators and introduced me.  One of them being Rick Farmiloe (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, the Little Mermaid, etc.).  Rick was awesome enough to “cartoon” the Balkenator and B even more, and make them ready for animation.  This is the first cartooned version Rick did of the Balkenator.  I’m so honored and extremely proud of it.

So if you’re wondering WHY I’m giving this piece away with a purchase of any Original Hand Coloring, it’s because it IS very personal to me and I wanted to give it as an extra thank you.  Yes, I could have just picked some random picture to give you, but I wanted something original and unique for you.

So please, check out all the Original Hand Colorings on www.balkestudiosart.com, pick out your favorite(s) and place your order.  With every order you’ll receive this FREE Balkenator Hand Coloring by Rick Farmiloe and hand colored by me.  I only have 6 of these available, so don’t wait too long.

Thank you in advance and also, thank you for letting Jeff Balke Studios become an actual studio, not just an idea.

FanExpo Chicago 50 Years!

Coming up next weekend, I’m very excited to announce, I’ll be a guest at the Fan Expo Chicago Con.  Not only was this the first convention I’ve ever attended as a fan, but this year, they are celebrating 50 years!  This is the first time in 6-7 years I’ll be attending this show as a guest and the first time Stanley and Friends will be at the show too.

Over the years, the Con has changed its name.  When I first started going it was called Chicago Comic Con, then it changed to Wizard World Chicago and just recently it has now changed to FanExpo Chicago.  All in the same location and all the same awesomeness, but hopefully without the selling of Sugar Gliders.

We’re going to have a 6′ x 6′ booth and will be packing it full of FUN and friends.  Here’s a little bit of what we’re going to have at the show:

  • NEW Matted ARToons
  • NEW 8.5×11 ARToons
  • NEW Original Hand Colorings
  • NEW Pins
  • NEW Stickers
  • Eisner Nominated Comic, Stanley’s Ghost

and a whole lot more.  You’re just going to have to stop by and check it out yourself 😉

Something I’ve never done before, but it’s worked in the past with other pieces I’ve hand colored.  If you would like any of the Original Hand Colorings, you can order them in the store, click “pick up” while checking out and I’ll bring it with me to the show (saving on shipping).

In the morning sometime I believe on Thursday, I’m going to be interviewed on TV talking about the show and the studio.  I’m not sure yet which network or time.  I just know it’s going to be early…lol!

So if you’re going to be there, look for me and I’ll look forward to seeing you there.  OH and as soon as I find out what my booth # is, I’ll let you know right away.  Hopefully I’ll find out this weekend.

Double Matted Visions

I’m very proud of the characters I’ve created.  From Stanley and Friends to Dancing Skeletons to my very own Fairytale Land.  Which is one of the reasons why I added mattes to all the 5×7 ARToons.  Making each one special, different and original.

But of course, I’m always looking to “level-up” myself in some way shape or form.  I loved when I introduced mattes to the ARToons.  So I took that idea and added to it.  I’ve always wanted a two tone matte, but trying to figure out which two colors would go good with every ARToon was near impossible.   I was playing around in Illustrator and laid down a digital white mat I created over the Skeletons.  But something told me to add a little black digital matte around the Skeletons too.  And this is what I came up with.  A “DOUBLE MAT”.

These new double white and black mattes really enhance any ARToon and make it a focal point in the room.  It’s also something you don’t find everywhere either.

All the characters and ARToons mean more to me than just a print.  They are a reflection of me and the studio.  So I want to make sure I give you a piece of art.  Something that looks good and fun for everyone.

Check out the new double matted ARToons at: www.balkestudiosart.com under the (Matted ARToons section).  And yes, I am keeping some of the single color mattes as well.

Coloring with PRIDE!

Now through the end of June, celebrate PRIDE with an Original “Coloring with PRIDE” Hand Coloring!  Choose from any of the Original Hand Colorings in the store www.balkestudiosart.com, type in the notes/message section when checking out, “Color with PRIDE” and I’ll add the Pride flag colors somewhere in the piece.  Because each Original Hand Coloring is hand colored using markers, no two are alike, making each one a ONE OF A KIND piece.  Oh and of course, they all come signed, matted and in a dust jacket and board.

Take Red Riding Hood and the Wolf in this picture.  Red is wearing the classic Pride flag colors as the Wolf is wearing the transgender Pride colors.

These are extremely special and fun for me to color.  I’m a very proud gay man who’s been with the same guy for 22 years this Aug and married for 8 of those years.  And we’re still going strong.  So each time I color one of these, I’m very proud of how far we’ve come.

Click here: FREE SHIPPING to enjoy free shipping on all orders $20 or more.
If that doesn’t work for some reason, use code: FREESHIP when checking out.

New Merchandise

With Spring here I can finally release the new Spring/Summer merchandise line up.  From unisex t-shirts to flip flops and phone cases.  I pretty much have something for everyone, including kids (which I hope to expand soon).  The more I sell, the more the site releases for me to make NEW items.

I’ve teamed up with an online company called Spring, formally known as TeeSpring.  Recently they’ve updated the quality of all of their merchandise.  Not that it was bad before, but when you get the items you purchased, you can feel the softness of the shirts and see the vibrancy of the art.  The process they use is called DTG (Direct To Garment) where the ink sets right into the shirt vs hanging around on top like silk screening.  DTG will never crack or peel and hardly fade (unless you keep it in the sun for months).

Because I don’t have a lot of room to store all the merchandise, they offer “print on demand”.  Meaning, when you order something from the site, they’ll create the product and ship it directly to you, anywhere in the world.  It’s as easy as that.  If you needed to return the item or exchange it, that’s also extremely simple as well.  Me and Spring want to make sure you are happy with your purchase.

Something they just added to their site is Afterpay.  This is a great feature to have added.  With Afterpay (if you choose it), you can buy what you want now and pay over time with making one payment at the time of checkout.  I’ve used Afterpay with other site and it’s wonderful, easy and convenient.  Of course, you can pay traditionally all at one when checking out too.  Either way, you’re going to get some great stuff.

So if you haven’t already, please check out my store at: www.shopbalkestudios.com.  I just added a few new designs and items such as flip flops going up to size 14.5 (for men) and going up to size 5Xl in some items like our unisex t-shirts.  So go ahead, check it out and get your official Jeff Balke Studios merchandise sold exclusively online at shopbalkestudios.com.

And let me know what you think.

Coloring with Jeff NEW Season

Starting February 1st, I’m very happy to announce that a NEW season of Coloring with Jeff will be back LIVE!  It’s been a little while since the last season, but I’m back and I have a whole NEW line of Original Hand Colorings to color up for you including some fan favorites.

The first episode will air on Tuesday February 1st at 3pm (central) on the studio’s YouTube and Facebook pages.  And, thanks to our friends at Hanging With the WebShow TV, I’ll be live on their network too hoping to reach a broader audience.

Each episode is live, so you can ask me questions and get them answered in real time.  Now I know not everyone can make it at 3pm to watch live, but all episodes are recoded and will stay on our YouTube and Facebook pages for you to view at your convenience.  So don’t worry, I have you covered.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our YouTube channel at: www.youtube.com/jeffbalkestudios
Or on our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/jeffbalkestudios

I’m looking foreword to seeing you on a Tuesday.

2022 Conventions

2022 is here and it’s time to THINK BIG and MOVE FORWARD!  For the longest time I’ve been holding myself back and keeping almost the same kind of set ups I’ve had at conventions since I first started attending them professionally.  All that is going to change.  This year I’m focused on setting up something different than I every have before.  Something that will give you more of an experience.  At the Mighty Con shows this year, I’m setting up in a whole new way.  Yes I’ll have artwork there from our NEW ARToons to Original Hand Colorings, but I’ll also have something you’ll be able to walk into and not just stand on the other side of the table (as long as I can get the space for it…haha).

My first show of 2022 isn’t until March 6, so I have a little time to get everything figured out.  And it also happens to be the Madison Mighty Con Comic Con where I’ll be debuting the new set up.  However, not every show this year will have the new set up.  Mainly that’s because of space and finances in some cases.  But this year I want to give you guys something completely different where you’ll be able to get to know the character much more and be able to take you pictures with them and share on social media.

On the events page here on the website, I’ve started releasing some of the events/conventions we’re for sure doing this year.  Right now there’s only four posted, but don’t worry, I’m waiting to hear back from a few, so more will be going up shortly.  I do invite you to keep checking back at the events page for updates and here on this blog for more info on what’s to come.

I’m really looking forward to getting out there and seeing you all again.  It’s been TOO long and I really can’t wait to show you guys my little guys.  Stanley and Friends.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Happy New Year from Jeff Balke Studios!