Sunday, December 7, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Let me get this straight up front. I love Neal Adams' work. Always have, since I was a kid in the early 70s. He's an incredibly talented draftsman.
As an adult, I just don't see the merits, tho, of approaching superheroes in such a super-rendered style. It seems silly and over-worked and overdone. Maybe because I'm sick of the last 2 decades of comics, with this as a major trend.
This new attitude may have emerged during my tenure as one of the merchandise artists for the BATMAN-THE ANIMATED SERIES products and merchandise. Made me tale another look at the seemingly easier (it's not-try it) visual approach to figures and design that's all about what you can leave OUT (a sign of a true master, said the late Alex Toth), and not what you put in.
A few months back, I took the grossly over-boiled Neal Adams cover to a recent BATMAN hardcover book, and re-worked it in the "Animated" style (roughly). Squint at both drawings. One stands out as a bold figure in action, and the other? A mess of thin lines, jittery hatching, and syrupy colors. Too much.
This style also allows the artist to get to what makes a character like Batman visually appealing. Think of how you thought of the character at age 7 or so. The dark masses of black. The ears. The glove fins. The chest insignia. The action poses. Speak to those cool iconic points in the drawing, and you get to the heart of the character.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Ah, those wacky Silver Age JIMMY OLSEN tales. here, as reprinted in the fabulous and life-altering 1967 GIANT JIMMY OLSEN # 104, we see the sordid story of
"The Wolf-man of Metropolis."
The fun starts as Jimmy, already a hound,
tries to get more sweet lovin' from that tease Lucy lane(sister of Super-tease Lois Lane). Just read the two panels.
OK, Jimmy soon finds an ancient
wolfman potion (don't ask), anddowns it, and, yes, becomes a hairy werewolf by night (nice sounding title). The story now concerns itself
with "Mr. Action" (just ask Lucy) trying to guard his lupine secret in a series of nutty occurances. Here, He scrapes by at a costume ball, and even wins an award!
Dig how Lucy won't
even kiss Olsen now that he desperately needs her bussing to break the hirsute spell! Jimmy even considers
making out with a random "ugly hag!" Holy pre-PC!
Poor Olsen is reduced to begging for love from random strangers walking in the park at night, only to get his chops bashed in.
Even Superman, who is constantly spying on friends and foes with his X-ray vision and such, doesn't recognize his old pal.
Jimmy even finds his previously pristine eating habits are taking a sharp dive, as he is now WOLFing down his food! Get it?
Superman, as always, uses his superior brain to come to the rescue. He flies in his then-secreted cousin, Supergirl, to pimp her out and have her make it with Jimmy in the dark, as he has to keep his super cousin an under-wraps mystery in those days. Jealous, Kal?
Jimmy, ever the horndog, goes right for it! Does Lucy know about this?! Is this Supergirl's first kiss? Shouldn't that have been HER decision? How does Jimmy know his super-powered pal isn't having a bit of fun by making him kiss Perry White or Batman in the dark?!
And Jimmy? He's retuned to normal (as "normal" he can be for a guy who regularly turns into a giant turtle, an elastic man, shrinks, grows, blows up, etc.), but, this time, Lucy is upset he's not his usual amorous self, preferring only her cheek to
That's right. Jimmy is now yearning forever for the mystery gal who so thrilled him during their dimly lit encounter.
From the 1966 Signet paperback, BATMAN VS THE PENGUIN comes these panels, from the reprinted story "The Penguin's Fabulous Fowls," from BATMAN# 76!
In this page-turner, Penguin releases some "rare birds of legend" to bedevil the Dynamic Duo, only to have the fowls
revealed to be fake mechanical constructs. No dummies, those Caped Crusaders!
Anyway, here is a huge creature referred to as the "Man-Bat," 17 years before his "official" appearance as drawn by Neal Adams in 1970!
Friday, October 17, 2008
Here's an ad for original comic book art, from around 1980.
Today's comic art from the 60s and 70s now commands major dollars, so to see an ad offering the pages for next to nothing is something to behold.
Keep in mind, tho, that many great pages could still be obtained for these prices until around the late 90s, when eBay debuted, bringing the relatively small number of hardcore fans and buyers together to bid against one another for desired art, thus causing prices to rise for many titles and certain artists.
I also have a 1978 catalog that mostly listed older pulp mag art, but, in the rear of the catalog, are prime Romita and Gil Kane key Marvel covers from the mid-70s, all priced from $25 to $35.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Don't want you to think I'm picking on poor old Robin these days, but here is a 1975 drawing I did for DC Comics!
Anybody recall DC's mid-70s "New Look for Robin" reader contests back then? They'd run fan's drawings of new costume ideas for the former Boy Wonder in the pages of their late, great, content-stuffed BATMAN SUPER SPECTACULAR issues. I think future pros like Norm Breyfogle even got his drawing published then.
Anyway, this was my entry. Don't think I ever sent it in.
That might be a good thing.
Although I loved the classic Robin get-up, and agreed the short pants wouldn't go in the real world, I saw this as a chance to get my name and work in print.
Dig that angular left shoulder. I was doing the "Bruce Timm" thing 20 years early!
I also love the repeating "Rs" on Robin's gloves. Years before the "love"and "hate" hand tattoos...Do they leave the insignia embedded on his foe's chins?
I'm sure I saw the "Earth 2 Robin" outfit by then. This seems to be very much based on that costume in many ways.
But, red and blue together?
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Due to all the requests (one), here is the Robin Bake-a-Craft stained glass figure. I got this from eBay a few years back, and did my own bead-handling and baking. Not big on detail, but notice how I tried to get some sort of flesh color by adding white and orange beads. They didn't melt together as planned, making poor Robin look like he has a really bad rash, or has been stung by an angry swarm of bees.
I think the same company produced an equally-dazzling Superman kit, but I've yet to see one. Hopefully, before I die...
Monday, September 15, 2008
Here is a piece of Batman merchandise you don't see very often. A 1975 Bake-A-Craft Batman "stained glass" beads kit! You added colored beads to the wire frame, bake the whole thing into a gooey paste, then put it in your window as a sorta "sunbeam catcher."
This kit is from 1975 (the year I recall buying one, and rushing home to have my Mom carefully assemble and cook the thing). Pictured here is my original finished Batman from then. Not much on detail, but an oddball item from the day!
Go to any craft store today, and you'll see that they still make these kinds of items. Mostly rainbows and horses for the gals, but they're still there.
I also have the Robin, from a recent eBay purchase. Let me know if you just can't live without seeing it, and I'll post it soon.
Monday, September 1, 2008
I'll let others sing the major praises of comic book letterer Mr. Gaspar Saladino today (please click the "Dial B For Blog" link to the right for the full story), but, let me tell you what a thrill it was to have one of my own projects lettered by this amazing talent.
Gaspar plied his skills to this early 90s book and tape adaptation of the "Almost Got 'Im" episode of BATMAN:THE ANIMATED SERIES. I penciled the book, with Mike DeCarlo inking.
Some say all comic book lettering looks alike. Not so. Gaspar is one of those letterers whose work brings a certain "snap" with it. It's crisp. Tight. Simply well-done and darned attractive. So many classic comics would not be the same lettered by somebody else.
Seriously, I was overjoyed to see such fine lettering by a master applied to my work. It meant a lot to me.
So, yes, go read more abut Gaspar Saladino and realize why hand-lettering is truly an art unto itself.
Friday, August 29, 2008
For any comics fan of a certain (ahem) age, you can recall the tantalizing comic book ads for the superhero patches sold by the Add-A-Patch Emblem Company. I'll include the ad here.
Like most fans of the day, I drooled over many of the items in ads then, but really ordered few at the young age of 8 (the Our Way DC superhero stickers sets were one), but I HAD to have the Batman-related patches offered here. My parents ordered, taking full advantage of the "6 for 5" deal, I waited, and got some great patches that were immediately sewn to my already-stylin' winter nylon jacket. I was the hit of the 3rd grade.
I also somehow ended up with patches of the Superman logo, as well as various "Pows," and Biffs," all sound effects left over from the 1966 BATMAN camp days.
I also recall having the Superdog patch. Dunno where he slipped in..
Two of my patches survive today. The Riddler and Catwoman patches. I'll picture them here.
As you can see, 1973 technology wasn't up to the height of embroidery machines today, so you ended up with a rough, blocky figure definied more by the colors than lines or details.
Never got the Superman and Batman two-for patch.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
One of the things I loved doing as a kid was creating mock comics covers. For some reason, I HAD to have every darned logo, CCA seal, price label, and blurb in place, just like on a "real" comic book! I saw this as practice for when I'd get to draw the real thing, so...
Here is a rare example of a "cover" that I drew from out of the blue. no referencing other poses, panels, etc.
It's a typical (for the time) Batman death-trap scenario, with Flash tied up and helpless (in an electric chair, no less!), and Batman coming in for a last-minute rescue, certain to give the Joker his custom beat-down!
Don't ask about that wonky perspective, or why we need to see the top of Flash's head, but most of the go-to cover elements are in place. I somehow already understood what needed to be up front, word balloon placement, and setting up an attention- grabbing scene.
At that time (1974), I thought the Joker HAD to be based on the "dandy-fied" 1968 Filmation cartoon version, then in afternoon rerun rotation. The pointed hairdo. The bolo tie, etc..Still a powerful design...
Don't know why I thought the cover had to priced at 12 cents, at a time when new comics where more than twice that. It could have been my interest in older comics. In those pre-comic shop and internet days, any comic that came before you were collecting seemed a long-gone prize, never to be obtained. There was an allure to all that history you thought you'd never see, except in checklists or history galleries or such....
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Here we see a wonderful 1974 Batman drawing I did while in the grip of mania over the 1973 Batman Ideal playset. I loved that toy, with it's beautiful cut-out images of the Batman cast of heroes and villains, all drawn by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson (or maybe Anderson alone?-Maybe Curt Swan?)!
The vinyl cover was what really grabbed me, so, here is one of many drawings where I copped that particular pose and attitude. I recall drawing other characters using this pose, and even a few school assignments ( I was often asked by teachers...)! Nothing like a pilgrim or circus clown rushing toward you with such urgency!
But, yes, I learned a great deal about foreshortening, depth, and body language from that toy cover art!
Notice, too, how I labeled this "THE Batman," as, at that time, the comics were returning to calling him by his more mysterious, original tag. Sounds awful and quite silly to hear "real" folks refer to him like that constantly in the new DARK KNIGHT film, but...
Sorry my signature was cut off the scan, but, rest assured, it was huge.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
I love convention photos. Fans dressed in time-consuming, intricate home-made costumes.
Here we see the League of Extraordinary Supermen going over the minutes of the last club meeting.
Not much to report.
Suddenly, velour Superman pipes up with, "So, who's for Applebees?"
Lets' get back to the character that started it all for me--Batman!
A pal once looked at some of these early drawings of mine and commented on how violent they were. Batman and Robin were always depicted hitting, punching, slugging, crushing, gouging, kneeing, clubbing, tripping, or kicking their foes. And why not? That's what they did, right? Both in the comics and on reruns of their 1966 live-action show, the DYNAMIC duo kept in constant motion! If you draw Tarzan, you depict him swinging on a jungle vine, no?
But, yes, these do seem awful extreme to be a child's drawings.
I was learning to use such comics art conventions as impact bursts, jiggle lines, speed lines, etc. Still pushing that extreme depth, with overlapping, foreshortening, and size relationships really accented.
I figure this illo comes from 1975 or so, from a Silver Age Carmine Infantino-drawn Batman reprint in the back pages of the dearly departed mag BATMAN FAMILY. Always dug the villain Cluemaster, Riddler rip-off or not.
Have NO idea what that black mass is I put behind Robin., Shadow? The inside of his cape?
Notice, too, how one of the foes Robin is manhandling and generally abusing is the Joker.
Speaking of details-I recall HAVING to put those exact TWO stripes n Robin's sleeves back then. Every time. My slavish attention to costume detail.
I also seemed to be influenced by the Mego Robin head sculpt then. That blockhead look, cowlick hair, large black mask...
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Here is a 1974 drawing where I attempted to re-create that days' Spidey adventure on PBS TV's THE ELECTRIC COMPANY! If you recall, the producers of that fun show made up their own custom SPIDEY comic covers for the intro to the Spider-man live-action segments. Here Spidey tackles the "Spoiler!" I knew the producers used the cover to AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 134, so I did the same in creating this work of art!
I had a thing for trying to fully re-create comic covers, as if I wanted a dry run for when I'd be doing the real thing. My "covers' HAD to have the logos, indicia, and all marks as the originals had! Very odd.
I also was very much into the little details of hero costumes. I had to show the viewer I knew how the back of Spidey's costume looked, how the web pattern was laid out, always careful to also draw the little web-shooter openings at the palms of the gloves! Maybe that's a boy thing?
Notice how I got bored and added odd little sketches to the left of the drawing, as well as under the Spidey figure.
Still struggling with the "big head/tiny body" thing....
Looks like I also chickened out of fully coloring the whole image.
Good ol' Spidey! He was the second superhero I went crazy over, after getting hip to Batman and his wacky world of fun...Thanks to the release of the 1972 ROCKOMIC LP (advertised on local TV by the afternoon kiddie host flanked by an actor in a terrific Spidey costume), and the reruns of the 1967 SPIDER-MAN cartoon, I got into the Webhead with great interest! Once I glommed onto the current comics-wow! John Romita Sr.! Gil Kane! Ross Andru! Jim Mooney! All those great artists on the comics of the time!
As you can see in this masterpiece from 1972 or so, I was trying to capture the famous contorted Spidey poses, with a nod toward Romita's style. I went through a (thankfully) brief period of drawing my characters with very dwarf-like statures. Looks like a child in a Spidey suit!
But, I WAS trying to add a sense of depth (note the window frame) and excitement to the drawings right from the start! I recall doodling very few images of the characters with just straight-on static poses. I somehow knew right off the bat that you HAD to draw these guys jumping, flying, leaping and backflipping through the air, hence my feeble early attempt at foreshortening here.
Also, note that my signature is almost as big as Spider-Man's whole head! Even at age 8, I was observing how the pro artists signed their work, digging the way John Romita Sr. would sorta bury his name in the drawing somewhere...
Alright...I'm new at this blogging thing, so bear with me, ok?
Although I've long resisted, I thought maybe now would be the right time to start bloggin' about every darned thing that interests me (and, hopefully, you, too), so sit tight.
Since 1990, I've worked as a professional artist and cartoonist (they're both the same, really), drawing such famous characters as Batman, X-Men, Spider-Man, Archie, Sonic, Power Rangers, Hulk, Disney characters, and so many more. My work has been used in comics, storyboards, apparel, kid's books, online efforts, posters, packaging, and many other highly disposable items.
You'll soon notice that the main purpose of this blog is to take a long look back at my first childhood artistic efforts, be it to critique, ridicule, or praise such silly scrawlings. Maybe we can all learn some valuable life lessons along the way.
I'll also be interrupting such important fare to bust in to pontificate on any old subject on my mind. Knowing me, such planet-shaking blurts will be about them dang-blamed comic books or related subjects, so if you don't care about who drew MARVEL TEAM-UP # 27, this may not be the blog for you.
Yes, that's me in the above photo, age 9, in 1974. I'm drawing the cover to a SPIDEY SUPER STORIES tale (love that John Romita Sr art...then and now!), and seem quite proud of such an effort.
Behind me, on the bulletin board in our kitchen(!) you can barely see the Cracker Jacks sticker that reads "Quiet! Genius at Work!"
But you gotta dig that flowered-pattern chair. And the fake wood-veneer table. And my cool front-zipper-with-medallion-sized-catch shirt.