Monday, April 14, 2008

Big John

 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.
 Hope this was informative.


Kent B said...

Hi, Dave

Nice story about John B. It's been about a year since I put anything on my blog - maybe you'll become one of the "Blog Stars" that put stuff up all the time.


Ish300 said...

I went to a seminar Marvel-sponsored seminar Big John gave back in '87 or '88. Same thing, John had a large pad and he sketched and talked. I have some of those pages squirreled away somewhere...
Larry Lieber was there, Al Milgrom I think, John Romita sat was a fun session. Of course, by then, we pretty much knew what John was going to say about structure, lighting, women "don't draw lines all over their faces, they won't look like cute gals no more." That sort of thing. I'm glad I went, as these gatherings were few and far between.

Geof I.

Danny said...

Great stuff Dave, love the insights into the mind of the artist - and those Sue Storm cards look almost too darn good.

brian said...

Great insights about john buscema,dave....i completely agree with you....very few of the artists today have his draughtsmenship abilities,or storytelling...they're only interested in pin-ups,and puting in lots of lines!....i would have loved to take buscema's class in 1975,but i was a little too young (17) at the i waited to go to SVA,and study with will eisner....of course marvel was a completely different place in 1975 than it is now....great to see you blogging!,brian postman...