Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Man from Planet X

A con­fes­sion: I like a lot of old movies. And I have a bit of a soft spot for many of the old sci-fi or mon­ster movies. Recent­ly, I had the chance to watch The Man from Plan­et X (cour­tesy of TCM and my DVR), which I’d nev­er seen before. I had only ever run across men­tions of it as a kid from time to time in library books on sci-fi films. Turned out the film was decent, but noth­ing real­ly all that special…except for one thing: the title char­ac­ter. There was some­thing real­ly strik­ing about the alien design for this film.

When you boil it down, I sup­pose there’s not all that much to it. It’s just a nice bit of sculp­tur­al design for the head and hel­met assem­bly. The thing that prob­a­bly sells the alien and makes him mem­o­rable is the built-in up-light­ing they includ­ed in his hel­met, so he car­ried “dra­ma” with him wher­ev­er he went. Oth­ers’ mileage may vary, but the visu­al was strik­ing enough to lodge in my head at least. It’s a good exam­ple of mak­ing very effec­tive use of what was prob­a­bly a lim­it­ed pro­duc­tion bud­get.

So here’s my shot at the Man from Plan­et X. I saw it as a chance to play around with some dra­mat­ic light­ing and black-spot­ting. It’s a bit of an exper­i­ment, in that I tried to ink it the way Mil­ton Can­iff and Noel Sick­les used to do: bang­ing in all my blacks first with a brush (scary!), then going back in with pen where it still need­ed it. I do like the whole “lost edges” effect that work­ing this way helps to achieve.

This scene did­n’t exact­ly hap­pen this way in the movie, but so what? It’s my blog, and I can draw what I want! And any­way, it seems a rea­son­ably appro­pri­ate image for Hal­loween.

One last thing here, a bit of triv­ia: the female lead in the film was Mar­garet Field, the moth­er of Sal­ly Field. I don’t know if any­thing like that would ever come up in a game of Triv­ial Pur­suit or not, but if so, don’t say I nev­er did any­thing for you!

UPDATE: FCA Edi­tor P.C. Hamer­linck made me aware of the fact Faw­cett had actu­al­ly pub­lished a com­ic adapt­ing this movie, with art by Kurt Schaf­fen­berg­er, and that you can check out a b/w UK reprint of it here. Inter­est­ing to see Schaf­fen­berg­er take his art in a dif­fer­ent direc­tion from what we’re used to see­ing him do, and to note that there are places in the com­ic where they diverged from the movie! Thanks Paul!

She’s a Sensation!

Though DC’s big reboot has already been sprung on us, I had one more image in that poster style that I had to try. Might as well com­plete the tri­fec­ta, right?

So this time out, it’s Won­der Woman. If you’ve read my pre­vi­ous posts on these gold­en age char­ac­ters, I real­ized I kind of uncon­scious­ly set up a pro­gres­sion; I men­tioned that I liked Super­man, but lat­er con­fessed I liked Bat­man a lit­tle more. So you might be expect­ing me this time out to say I liked Won­der Woman the best. But you’d be wrong.

Sor­ry to say, I real­ly was­n’t all that into Won­der Woman as a kid. I appre­ci­ate the strip much more now as an adult than I did back then, for its his­toric sig­nif­i­cance as well as some of the aspects that are unique to it (the fan­ta­sy ele­ments, the mytho­log­i­cal, etc.). Per­haps the gold­en age art (by H.G. Peter) looked a lit­tle heavy-hand­ed and crude to me in some ways as a kid. Look­ing at it now, I have more of an appre­ci­a­tion for it (It feels at times like a sort of car­toon ver­sion of an Albrecht Dür­er engrav­ing).

Won­der Woman is an inter­est­ing con­cept that seems to be a tough one for writ­ers and artists to get a han­dle on. And even if they man­age, it seems hard to get a han­dle on it such that it will engage peo­ple and get them to buy the book (Which is prob­a­bly the more impor­tant point). Many approach­es have been tried with vary­ing degrees of suc­cess, and some don’t get tried at all. But Marston and Peter must’ve had a han­dle on some­thing when they cre­at­ed her. She’s sur­vived this long and man­aged to become part of our col­lec­tive pop cul­ture men­tal land­scape, rec­og­niz­able even to non-comics read­ers. I think that’s worth a lit­tle salute here.

A con­fes­sion: this poster is a loose homage (which I acknowl­edged in how I signed it) to an orig­i­nal poster by Lud­wig Hohlwein. In study­ing his work online, I stum­bled across one poster that just seemed a nat­ur­al to adapt for a Won­der Woman image. It all but cried out for it. So that is what I did!