I hadn’t planned on posting this one especially, but things have been busy here, and I didn’t want to let another month go by without posting anything. So here you go!
I was asked to do an editorial-type illustration visualizing “pain” in a particular way, and this is what I came up with. Stylewise, for some reason I gravitated towards wanting this to look like it was done as a poster, perhaps somewhat in the style of David Lance Goines. It remains for others to say whether or not I achieved that, but I was happy with the end result, not pained.
Here’s a preview of another cover I did for FCA, appearing in the pages of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego magazine. Though the cover date is September of this year, I believe the magazine will actually be available in August.
For those who don’t know, DC Comics brought back the original Captain Marvel in the early ‘70s. The Big Red Cheese had been missing from the spinner racks for several years by that point, so his reappearance was greatly looked forward to by a number of fans. Including some younger fans like myself, who had seen very little of the character previously, but knew that they really liked what they saw.
Denny O’Neil was one of the writers tapped by Editor Julius Schwartz to write this revival. In fact, Mr. O’Neil wrote the story in Shazam! #1 which brought the Marvel Family and company back into the modern age. FCA #187 features an interview with O’Neil about his work on the title.
Using what reference I could find online, at Editor P.C. Hamerlinck’s request, this was an attempt at a portrait of Mr. O’Neil as he might have looked around the time he was writing the comic. The background art (I hasten to add) is not mine! It’s scans of actual panels from some of the Captain Marvel stories Mr. O’Neil wrote, drawn by C.C. Beck himself. Scanned straight from my own personal copies of those comics, of course.
“And now, for something completely different!”
I’m digging deep for this one. The ‘80s saw a lot of interesting, fun, odd, independent comics. Jeff Bonivert’s Atomic Man Comics was one of them.
I don’t remember just how I first encountered Jeff Bonivert’s work, but it most definitely caught my eye. It’s unique for the abstract geometric and graphic way he approaches his drawings. I pick up a bit of an art deco or streamlined feel to it in places. There’s no mistaking his work for anyone else’s.
I believe that like me, Jeff is from the Bay Area. There was a time in the ‘80s when we even worked at the same place, but unfortunately I never got to meet him and talk comics (it was a pretty big place).
I somehow managed to get all three issues of Jeff’s Atomic Man Comics back when they came out, and there’s a definite sense of fun to the proceedings. Atomic Man is really kind of a classic-style comics hero. He has super-strength and invulnerability, but doesn’t appear to have any other superpowers beyond that. Jeff added some fresh ideas to the mix, in that Atomic Man is happily married, with two kids, living in San Francisco. Being from the Bay Area, that last part sort of mattered to me, because it seems like the traditional default for most superheroes has been to base them in NYC (or some fictitious NYC surrogate).
For my Atomic Man salute, I thought a stylistic experiment using Adobe Illustrator might be a good way of attempting something that could evoke the look of Jeff Bonivert’s work.
Atomic Man is ™ and © 2014 Jeff Bonivert.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re looking at my drawing and going, “Hey! He goofed up! He colored that drawing of Batman yellow!” Nope! It’s because it’s not Batman.
Sometime back, in cruising around the internet and following various links, I stumbled across an article on a pop culture site called Topless Robot, talking about a number of Korean cartoon characters who might hit the viewer with a sense of, mmm, déjà vu, shall we say. One that somehow stuck with me was the Golden Batman (or simply the Golden Bat, as he was sometimes referred to).
Differences between Batman and the Golden Batman don’t start and end with their costumes. They gave Golden Batman the power of flight (which sort of makes sense for a character named after a creature who flies), as well as super-strength (shades of the old Batman story “Batman– The Superman of Planet X”!). And that’s not all! Golden Batman can fire laser beams from his fingers. What do you think of that, Caped Crusader?
You can actually find the Golden Batman cartoon on YouTube in five parts, if you’re curious enough to see it. Dubbed into Spanish though, oddly enough. Seemingly not available in English, for some reason.
It won’t come as any surprise to longtime visitors of my site to hear this, but most of my friends know that when you say the words “Captain Marvel” to me, my default setting is to think of the original Fawcett character. However, this ain’t him!
This Captain Marvel is an android. His comic debuted in 1966, published by M.F. Enterprises, 13 years after Fawcett published their last adventure of the original Captain Marvel.
So what does this Captain Marvel do? He seems to have a lot of the usual superhero powers: strength, flight, etc. But his real calling card is that when he says his magic word (“Split!”), he can detach parts of his body at will and have them fly around and do his bidding. A unique power, to be sure, but more than a little odd. To rejoin, he speaks his other magic word, “Xam!”
In looking for a fresh take on this Captain, I thought it was such an oddball concept that it might have been better-suited to Saturday Morning cartoons. So I started to re-imagine it as the kind of semi-comedic superhero adventure cartoon that back then would’ve fit in well alongside Hanna-Barbera shows like Frankenstein Jr., The Impossibles, or Atom Ant. Since those shows appeared as Gold Key comics, that seemed a good place for my re-imagined Captain Marvel too.
Hey, everybody! It’s another comic cover recreation/reinterpretation. This time, it’s the cover of issue #1 of Archie Comics’ Darling Romance. You can see the original cover here.
I’ve personally never been all that big a collector of romance comics, though the best of them have had some really great artists. An interesting bit of history: the guys who pioneered the genre? None other than Joe Simon and Jack Kirby! Those who are only familiar with the more two-fisted, action-packed side of their work might be surprised to hear this, but it’s true. They launched the first romance comic, Young Romance, in 1947. And in the wake of its sales success, many other publishers followed suit with their own romance titles.
Simon and Kirby’s work in this genre is unsurprisingly energetic and lively. Many of the stories go places one wouldn’t typically expect a romance comic story to go. If you get the chance to see some of these stories for yourself, it’s worth the time. I’m told it can be hard to track down the original comics, but thankfully, there are reprints available in books like Young Romance: the Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics, and it looks as though there might be other sources on the way too.
Maybe I should talk a little bit about this Darling Romance cover. I know nothing at all about this comic, but the cover image spoke to me. I thought it would be fun to take the original photo cover and do a drawing instead, push the model’s looks even more in the direction of Bettie Page. Also, I felt like giving the whole thing a pulpier, harder-edged look. Just for fun.
It’s come to my attention that today marks 20 years since the passing of Jack Kirby. That brings a lot of things to mind.
I know where I was when I got the word. I’d started a new career, working in animation, and was not quite into my first full year at it. I was working at Graz Entertainment on X-Men, for my first boss in the business (who I also consider a mentor and friend), Larry Houston. In those pre-internet days, Larry was the one who first got word, and passed it to us. Obviously, for those of us on the crew who knew and loved Kirby’s work, our minds and our conversation were occupied the rest of the day.
When I got home, I had a sudden compulsion to go to the longboxes, and pull out every comic I had that Jack Kirby had worked on. Then I surveyed what was left. There were a lot of big holes! I could have gone even further and pulled out all the titles that he’d had a hand in creating, and that would’ve left an even bigger hole. There would probably be fewer comics in the boxes than out of them.
Jack has most definitely left his mark on comics, whether people want to see it or not. And he’s left behind a great legacy of work in all kinds of genres that we can still enjoy today. I can say he certainly enriched my life with his work.
RIP, Mr. Kirby. Your work lives on.
A suggestion was made to me recently that it would be good if I were to do some kind of a post here that displayed a number of different styles together, all at once. So this is what I came up with: a series of head shots, of different types of characters in different styles.
It’s a pretty good exercise for an artist, I found. It makes you stretch a little bit, and it can be fun to see what you come up with. I think I may try this again at some point. Or maybe even a variation on the theme: one character, different styles. There’s a whole lot you can do with this idea.
Here’s a recreation/reinterpretation of the cover of Wow Comics #12, featuring Mary Marvel. You can compare it with the original here.
Mary debuted in Captain Marvel Adventures #18, where Billy Batson discovered to his surprise that he had a twin sister, from whom he’d been separated at birth. It turned out that the magic word that turned Billy into Captain Marvel also worked to turn Mary Batson/Bromfield into the superpowered Mary Marvel.
Mary’s “visual father” was artist Marc Swayze. I was honored to be asked to do an FCA cover featuring Mary, as a tribute to Marc Swayze for what would’ve been his 100th birthday. It was posted here a while back.
Regular visitors to this site have heard me say before that when doing these recreations, I like to have some kind of fresh take or approach, so that I’m not just repeating exactly what was done before. So imagine this, if you can: some alternate world, where Fawcett didn’t cease publishing comics. Instead, they kept on producing new four-color adventures for Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family. Maybe at some point in the late ‘50s or early ‘60s, Fawcett licensed Mary to an animation studio for a series, and Wow Comics was relaunched in support. It was kind of what was playing in the back of my mind when I did this, at any rate.
I can almost hear the announcer’s voice: “Boys and Girls! It’s time now for the adventures of Mary Marvel! The Shazam girl!”
I’m sure most of you remember the Banana Splits. They were that famous and influential rock band that changed the face of the ‘60s with their music; songs that have stood the test of time and are still with us today. Late in the band’s career, things had begun to get hectic and stressful. The members’ lives were heading in different directions. They were growing apart; no longer the same wide-eyed kids they were when they started out. But before they called it a day, they put out one final album: Let It Split.
Okay, not really. I just made up all that stuff. Knowledgeable visitors will realize that what I’ve done here is a riff off the cover of the Beatles’ last album, Let It Be, only recast with the members of the Banana Splits. Going clockwise from the upper left, you have Drooper, Fleegle, Snorky and Bingo.
Yes, when I was a kid, I would watch The Banana Splits Adventure Hour. Fun times. I’ll even admit to having sent away for the Banana Splits Fan Club Kit. No Sour Grapes Bunch for me! No sir! Sing it with me now: “Tra la la, la la la la,…”