I've been getting caught up on my fan commissions lately. This one is of Bishi, monkey-girl Green Lantern of sector 312. I'm told she appeared in some big event book from DC and only lasted about three pages before she was killed. Ah, Bishi, we hardly knew ye.
The client provided me with the green paper. It's a special stash he has. On my first pass, I messed up the drawing but he'd only sent me one sheet of it. I told him about it and asked if he could send another sheet of green paper, but he was out. I searched paper stores in New York, where you can find just about any sort of paper, but could not find an exact match for this--it's acid-free, too.
He finally got some more paper and sent it to me, along with a back-up sheet in case I had another accident. As you may already have supposed, he has a collection of the Green Lantern Corps, all on this green paper.
I only did one story featuring this character, for the short-lived Bizarre Adventures published by Marvel. I remember trying to think of Keith Richards a lot while drawing him. The above is a recent fan commission.
Here's something that helped tremendously in drawing Army of Darkness--the Ash action figure from Mc Farlane toys! I used it mainly for figuring out how his chest harness wraps around his body and detail on the chainsaw. I also used it when drawing a 3/4 back view of Ash.
Toys are great for this sort of thing. All those details that perhaps don't quite come together from looking at a movie still (which I downloaded plenty of) or looking at the comic, where you may be perpetuating someone else's error.
For those interested in the toy as a toy I have to say that it has very few points of articulation. Nice collectable, tho, and as I said, made a wonderful drawing aid for the project. I have since managed to break the blade off the chainsaw (oops!)
As for the skull behind Ash, every artist should have one of these. Very useful.
Here's the new cover for the Army of Darkness Holiday Special "Home For the Hellidays". Somehow the first cover I did was lost. I don't have it, the guys at Dynamite don't have it. It's a complete mystery. I could have just re-created the first cover to replace it, but having just finished drawing the story I now had a better concept, the culmination of which you see above.
Here's a project that came to me from Dr. Rafael Medoff of the Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. It's about the genocide in the Darfur region of the Sudan. I won't go into it here, you can google it yourself and check out the information.
Neal Adams had done some material for them which he described as being done in a "documentary" style. I eschewed that as much as possible here and went more for the in-your-face comics style, as seen in the first panel featuring the Janjaweed fighter on horseback. The Janjaweed are a militia backed by the Sudanese goverernment that are committing the atrocities in Darfur. A mother and child cower as their village burns behind them.
The bottom line on this is that China and Russia are opposing that the Sudanese leader Al-Bashir be put on trial for his crimes against humanity for backing the Janjaweed. This is because China and Russia get oil from the Sudan. That's right folks, it's another WAR FOR OIL.
This is just a tracing paper rough at this stage. I'll post news of where it will ultimately appear when Rafi sells it. The strip he did with Sal Amendola appeared in the New Republic.
Here's my take on Scott Wegener's Atomic Robo. Here Robo is suddenly attacked by Nazi Gorillas. One of my earliest published comics stories was for DC's Weird War where I inked Ken Landgraf's pencils on a story featuring gorillas that were pressed into service by the Germans in WW II. By the end of the story the gorillas turned on their Nazi masters, of course, and returned to the jungle.
Oddly enough, I caught a show on History channel where they talked about gorillas being used as soldiers, not by Hitler, but Stalin. Just a wacky idea some Soviet scientist had. Turns out gorillas make lousy soldiers. They're not nearly aggressive enough.
Just taking a break-a short one!- from drawing the Army of Darkness Holiday Special. Thirty -two pages of horror and humor. Watch for it. Of course it's not out yet--I'm still drawing it. The cover above is my work with signage by the skilled Gerry Acerno.
When it is published, be sure to rush right out and buy one, two, or more! They make great stocking stuffers!
A while ago a fellow artist who's just getting started on his comics career sent me a drawing that showed Superman hovering and asked me to critique it. The anatomy seemed fine, very workmanlike, and he drew a better Superman face than I do. There was some background as well, which was nicely ruled. Superman didn't quite look like he was hovering, tho. His foot was overlapping a building in the b.g. This made it look a bit like he was standing on it. I suggested that he simply remove it and he did. It now looked more like Supes was standing in midair. Something was still off about it, something I couldn't quite put my finger on. Then I found the image above. Superman's feet were flat, as if he were standing on the ground. You'll note that in the John Buscema art above, we can see the soles of the High Evolutioary's feet. There is, in this case, no doubt that he's hovering. That's storytelling!
Just got back from the Veterans' Administration Hospital last night. I was there overnight for a biopsy.
Often the image that's conjured up when one mentions the V.A. Hospital is something out of a Matthew Brady photograph. Nothing could be further from the truth. They have a great deal of state-of-the-art equipment. The facility is entirely modern and up-to-date.
What set this in motion was a bronchoscopy I'd had last month. A lymph node seemed to have changed size and a sample was needed. The doctors went in thru my nose with a tube while I was lightly sedated. A fiber-optic camera went down along with a tiny syringe to take a tissue sample. I got to watch a bit of it on the monitor. Really cool, it was like Fantastic Voyage. The doctor wanted to poke around in there a bit more, but I started vomiting so they had to remove the camera.
Now I know what Vinnie Barbarino meant by "Up ya nose wit' a rubba hose!"
The upshot of that was that the pathology lab results came back "inconclusive", which led to the new biopsy.
So it was that I checked in yesterday. They told me to be there at 8:00 a.m, and ungodly hour to be anyplace.
For all the modern equipment and linked systems, there's still the human element to be reckoned with. Either my data had not been entered or had been entered incorrectly and I had to wait three hours to be admitted at pre-bed care. Between my own efforts going around to the different departments in the building trying to find the cause of this and the efforts of the folks at pbc, we finally tracked down the nurse-practitioner, Miguel, who was able to resolve the problem. The computer systems do result in "one V.A." as the slogan goes, but only if the data is entered correctly.
For this I got up early?
That done, I informed them that I was off to eat breakfast, which I'd had to skip to get there on time. I got a haircut, too, at Sigfrido's barber shop nearby. They do good work quickly.
The rest of the day was x-rays, blood tests, e.k.g.s and getting set up in my room. Plus I had my blood pressure taken a bunch of times.
The next day I met the doctor who was going to do the surgery. The plan was that they were going to make a small incision at the pit of the neck and go in thru there. The doctor told me that first he wanted to try going in thru my mouth by inserting a tube and if that wasn't working out they'd do the incision. I was wheeled to the operating room and knocked out with a combination of sodium pentothal and narcotics. I'd asked the doctor to maintain silence, if possible, during the operation, but I doubt that he did since he'd never heard of Dianetics.
I awoke with no incision. They'd been able to use the tube and had gotten some good samples and had used ultasound on it as well, which apparently has more uses than finding out if you're having a boy or a girl. To examine the suspect lymph node they had to go in, tho, unlike the way it's used in pregnancy.
The V.A. got someone to drive me home. I still have to eat soft foods and have difficulty speaking since I'm very hoarse. Run down, too, but some rest will take care of that.
Now we just need to find out what's going on with that lymph node. I'll post the results when I get them.
I recently did some sketches to benefit the March of Dimes. Here are just a few of them. They had to be done on this March of Dimes paper, which was very slick and resisted the ink. This looks like it'll be an annual event, so perhaps next year some more suitable paper can be found. A good cause, in any event.
In case anyone who's reading this doesn't know, my friend Gene Colan, one of the artists who defined the Marvel age of comics and one of the nicest people to ever walk the earth, has been very ill lately. For more information and to read a Living Tribute to this great artist, go to http://ohdannyboy.blogspot.com.
Saturday was another fine day. I understand that next year the con is going to be in February again. Too bad! This year having it in April made getting to and from the Javits Center much pleasanter. I'm sure the fans waiting on line outside were much more comfortable, too! Oh well, be prepared to freeze your tuchus off next year.
I can understand why they want to move it back, tho. As I mentioned in my last post, Joe Rubinstein had to leave early Friday for Passover and return Saturday afternoon. I'm sure there were lots of other Jewish professionals-and fans-who weren't at the con as much as they might otherwise have been. It was also close to tax time, so I think folks might not have been as free with their cash as they might otherwise have been.
Anyone seen Bob Wiacek lately? There he is, right at the top of the page! Hadn't seen Bob in a very long time.
Next we have Sebastian "Sal" Mondrone and Winston Wolff (not the guy from Pulp Fiction) of Stratolab. I spent a good deal of time at the Stratolab table Saturday. Sal is also the co-creator and writer of Beastball, which I swear you'll see as soon as I can put it together with lettering and coloring, etc. I had also done some work for Stratolab--check my site under "illustration".
At the table next to Stratolab was Griffons Claw, headed by smith Aaron Schwartz. He makes a lot of very cool one-of-a-kind knives and swords. They're real too, and real sharp. Wish I'd gotten a photo of that table. All the girls wanted to check out the pointy shiny things, too, which made me wish I were sitting at Aaron's table. I like the kind of chicks who like fantasy blades.
Jamal Igle is at the bottom of the column of photos. He had the table next to Rubinstien's, so we got to chat a bit. He kept his cel phone handy at all times because his wife was expecting and it was possible he could've gotten "the call" at any time. The baby stayed in for the duration of the con, tho.
Sunday was, well, mostly more of the same. I ran around talking to publishers of various sorts, looking for outlets for my various creations.
I was at Rubinstein's table for most of the afternoon. Carolyn Kelly stopped by and we chatted for a long while. Carolyn is, among other things, Walt Kelly's daughter and an artist in her own right. She was continuing Pogo at one point--gee, I guess it must have been about a decade ago now. I even inked some at the time. Mine didn't look like Walt Kelly. It looked like Dave Simons imitating Wallace Wood imitating Walt Kelly, and that's about the best that can be said for it.
Towards the end of the day I finally ran into Alan Weiss and we dashed over to Rich Buckler's table to say hi. It seems that another Weiss dinner excursion was in the offing, but I had set up a meeting of my own at a nearby diner.
That meeting was with my writers: Joe Donnelly (Helldiver), Sebastian "Sal" Mondrone (Beastball Saga), and Judson Femine (The Citizen). More for marketing strategy than story, it was the first time we'd all gotten together. Quite productive, now we just have to follow thru on our plans, or "action items" as Sal calls them. I think I started referring to them as "funtime action plans" or something. I've worked in children's television too long.
Friday, 18 April 2008. First familiar faces I ran into at the con were Pauline Weiss and Alan Kupperberg, who were with Mary Skrenes and Paul Levitz (in order, l-r, above. Mary was in for the Steve Gerber Memorial.
Earlier, before the con opened to the general public at 3:00, I got to spend some quality time with my own personal art hero, Jim Steranko. No photo, but he was looking well and (as usual) well-dressed. There will be a new Steranko art book out this year and you can be sure I'll be ordering it, since it promises to be fairly definitive.
Saw Joe Rubinstein and finally got to give him the pages from the Danger's Dozen back-up story I pencilled. That's Joe above with the chrome dome. Joe had to leave early for Passover, so Gerry Acerno and I got to use his table. I sold a sketch or two. Speaking of chrome domes, I don't have much left to work with myself. Plus I look like I've had way too much coffee. That's me and Gerry at the top.
Afterwards, I went home via my old neighborhood, Greenwich Village, to catch the PATH train back to New Jersey. I expect my exile to end this year, and if things go as planned I should be able to move back into Manhattan this year.
Okay, so it's not the con report, exactly. I haven't had time to load the photos. In the meantime, here's a Skrull! Skrulls are all the rage right now, with Marvel's Secret Invasion coming out.
Anyone ever notice that the Skrulls that initially appeared in FF #2 were a lot less impressive than later versions? This Skrull is more along those lines than the later versions that appeared. My theory is that the Skrull throneworld thot that Earth would be easy pickings and so sent loser Skrulls. This could have spun into a sort of Sgt. Frog direction, I suppose.
Might be fun to explore a comedy series with these guys, but I won't even bother to propose that to Marvel.
Like I said in my last post, I've been working on a series of Fantastic Four cards for Rittenhouse Archives. It didn't take long before I found I needed some inspiration. Jack Kirby was the first place to look. It wasn't easy. Of course, when I Googled "Fantastic Four" and hit "images" I got a lot of shots from the movie. Same as when I Googled "Silver Surfer". About the third page in I started getting images from the comics. Like this swell cover, above!
When I went to do the Black Panther, I was having even more trouble finding images I liked on the internet. I found one or two nice Kirby pieces, but I'd seen some John Buscema while I was searching the Surfer. I thot I'd like to see John's take on the Panther. Not easy to find online. Then I remembered I had Essential Avengers #3, loaded with John B!
An examination of the volume revealed lots of Panther. John captured the feline grace of the Wakandan monarch as well as the all-out action poses. I occasionally forget (shame on me!) what a great artist John is. Just amazing. Anyone could learn a lot about how to draw super-heroes by looking at John's work, even the stuff that was inked over breakdowns.
Don't bother writing to tell me John passed away a few years ago. I used the present tense above because to me ALL artists are as alive as we can view their work.
I took John's workshop class at the old Commodore Hotel 1975-1976. It was the only art education I ever had. A fair amount of pros came out of that class: Bob Downs; Bruce Patterson (an Adams assistant at the time); Juan Ortiz, who worked for DC briefly and then left comics; Bob Hall, who was already working for Charlton; and Larry Mahlsted.
We mainly learned by watching John draw stuff. He wasn't the world's greatest teacher. Straight outta Brooklyn. He spoke with "dese" "dem" and "dose". And people make fun of my accent. Watching him draw anything was worth double what we paid for the class, tho!
I hope some of the guys currently pencilling comics take a look back at his pre-Conan stuff to see how super-heroes should be done.
Getting back to the cards--I can't show you any of the FF cards yet due to my agreement with Rittenhouse. I can show you something from my "Women of Marvel" series, tho (above).
My method for these was to loosely pencil a figure, often based on a pinup type shot I found online. I'd do a set of ten of each character. After pencilling in enough to know what I was doing, I inked them with Micron Sakura markers. I principally used the 01 with some use of the brush marker. I've also used the Faber-Castell Pitt artist pen in the past. I see no difference between the two products. Gerry Acerno swears by the Pitt. I use the Sakura because I like the name. It's prettier sounding than "Pitt". I colored them not with markers, but with good ol' Dr. Martin's Dyes, just like Marie Severin taught me. Dr. Martin's (not to be confused with the boots) come in little bottles. They can be diluted and mixed like watercolor. They're also brighter than watercolor.
In fact, you have to mix them for a flesh tone. The formula I use is 2 drops chrome yellow, 2 drops rose charthame, 1 drop olive green. Then that gets diluted. If it looks wrong, I add a little more of one of the above until it looks right. For you PC types, yes, I know everybody's flesh isn't that color. Maybe I should call it honky tone.
For the effect of Susan Richards turning invisible, I wet the figure down first so that the blue of her costume would thin out and appear to fade. Then, when it was dry, I scratched it with an X-acto knife.