Author Archives: Mark

I Dare You!

There’s a sto­ry behind this one. Of course! Isn’t there always? 😀

But first; there are prob­a­bly some of you scratch­ing your heads, going, “Huh? That’s not Dare­dev­il!” It’s under­stand­able that you might only know about Mar­vel Comics’ ver­sion of Dare­dev­il, from the comics and the recent Net­flix series. But back in the Gold­en Age of comics, there was a dif­fer­ent Dare­dev­il, pub­lished by Lev Glea­son. The char­ac­ter’s title sold very well, run­ning for about 16 years, until sales fell (like many super­hero titles did post-WWII). This Dare­dev­il had a kid gang who hung around with him called the Lit­tle Wise Guys. The boys had tak­en over his title by the time the book ceased pub­lish­ing, Dare­dev­il him­self hav­ing gone MIA about six years pri­or to that.

But I should get back to the sto­ry behind this re-cre­ation/rein­ter­pre­ta­tion. Ear­li­er this year, I was chat­ting with direc­tor Dan Riba (known for his work on Bat­man: the Ani­mat­ed Series, among many oth­er car­toons). In the course of our con­ver­sa­tion, he men­tioned that he’d recent­ly had an online inter­ac­tion with movie pro­duc­er Michael Uslan, via the Book of Faces. Some­where out there on the inter­net, Mr. Uslan had stum­bled across my ear­li­er re-work­ing of Mar­vel’s Cap­tain Mar­vel #1, replac­ing the Kree ver­sion with the Gold­en Age Faw­cett orig­i­nal, as if Mar­vel had bought the rights to the char­ac­ter from Faw­cett.

Dan told me that Mr. Uslan liked my cov­er, but did­n’t know where it had come from (The inter­net some­times has a way of strip­ping us cre­ative folk of cred­it for our work). Dan informed him that it was my work. In reply, Mr. Uslan won­dered if I had ever con­sid­ered doing a sim­i­lar thing with Dare­dev­il #1, rework­ing it as if in some alter­nate uni­verse, Mar­vel had bought the rights to the orig­i­nal Gold­en Age char­ac­ter instead of invent­ing their own new ver­sion. (Some­where, I read that this was actu­al­ly con­sid­ered briefly).

I told Dan that I had­n’t thought of that, but it was an inter­est­ing idea. The con­ver­sa­tion moved on from there, and I did­n’t think about it again. At least not for a lit­tle while. But this thought kept peri­od­i­cal­ly cir­cling back into my brain. And as occa­sion­al­ly hap­pens, it got lodged in there. When that hap­pens, I’ve found the only way to get it out is to actu­al­ly do the thing. So here it is!

Re-cre­at­ing and re-imag­in­ing this cov­er was a much big­ger chal­lenge than my Cap­tain Mar­vel #1 was. In the process of dig­ging in and work­ing with a cov­er image like this, you come to real­ize cer­tain things about it. One is that for a Mar­vel Comics cov­er of this vin­tage, it’s a very busy cov­er! It’s almost more like a DC Annu­al or 80-Page Giant cov­er of that era.

I have a the­o­ry about the rea­son why this cov­er is so unchar­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly busy for Mar­vel. It’s only a guess, mind you, but I sus­pect that orig­i­nal­ly the cov­er was going to be just the pri­ma­ry image at left. That part looks to have been drawn by Jack Kir­by, while there are oth­er hands in the rest of the art. Three of the Fan­tas­tic Four heads are just the paste-up art they used in that comic’s cor­ner box! I can’t help but won­der if some­one (per­haps Stan Lee, or maybe Mar­tin Good­man) felt like this new title need­ed more of a sales boost than just the one image, so the main piece of art was reduced and shoved to the left, and all the addi­tion­al text men­tion­ing Spi­der-Man and the Fan­tas­tic Four was added in that col­umn on the right.

Adding to my sus­pi­cions are all the tan­gents that exist­ed on the orig­i­nal, which I made an effort to fix here. They feel like the sort of thing that hap­pens when art is re-worked after the fact by oth­er hands, in ways the ini­tial artist did­n’t plan for.

There are a cou­ple addi­tion­al things I should men­tion, because of course there are sto­ry bits about this new/old ver­sion that I worked out in my head while doing this cov­er. I fig­ure Mar­vel might have giv­en Dare­dev­il fold-up boomerangs that he could store in his belt (see dia­gram). And at first I was­n’t sure what to do with the spot at low­er right where Fog­gy Nel­son was on the orig­i­nal cov­er. Who could I put there? But as I thought about it, the idea of aging up the Lit­tle Wise Guys to teenagers (ala Rick Jones), and hav­ing them form a band seemed like a good way to go. They’re rep­re­sent­ed here by Scare­crow. It was­n’t too hard to take his hair­cut from his Gold­en Age look and turn it into more of a Bea­t­le cut.

Thanks to Mr. Uslan and Dan for plant­i­ng the bug in my brain!

Call the Nurse!

This is a bit dif­fer­ent, in that I don’t usu­al­ly do a lot of top­i­cal, cur­rent events-relat­ed things.

It’s impos­si­ble not to know about Covid-19. I’m aware that we have front­line work­ers, espe­cial­ly in the med­ical pro­fes­sion, who are deal­ing with it on a dai­ly basis. And for some rea­son recent­ly, I was think­ing about nurs­es and super­heroes, and thought of this odd­ball old Gold­en Age comics char­ac­ter called Pat Park­er, War Nurse.

Start­ing off as a straight strip in Speed Comics #13, about the adven­tures of a British nurse in WWII, appar­ent­ly it must have been felt by Har­vey Comics that she was­n’t dynam­ic enough in that form to help boost sales. So they end­ed up giv­ing her super­pow­ers and a cos­tume. At one point, she was even the leader of a group called the Girl Com­man­dos. Her last comics appear­ance was in March of 1946.

My brain start­ed to think about what would hap­pen if you updat­ed Pat Park­er, send­ing her into bat­tle against Covid-19. After all, she was a “war nurse.” She looks a bit dif­fer­ent here, because it did­n’t seem prac­ti­cal she’d bat­tle this with her orig­i­nal out­fit: bare midriff, short shorts and no facial cov­er­ing.

And after the fact, I real­ized what I’d done was prob­a­bly also sub­lim­i­nal­ly inspired by anoth­er draw­ing I saw on LinkedIn by the very tal­ent­ed Thomas Perkins.

So this is my slight­ly sil­ly, but no less sin­cere, trib­ute to those med­ical per­son­nel on the front­lines. Thank you for your super­hu­man efforts. You are super­heroes.

Art Vs. Artist!

So there’s this thing, and I guess all the cool kids are doing it over on the Twit­ters and the Insta­grams. It’s called “Art Vs. Artist.” You put some of your work togeth­er in this for­mat, along with a pic­ture of your­self in the cen­ter. It seemed like some­thing that might be sor­ta fun to take a crack at, so here we go!

To be hon­est, I’m not entire­ly sure what all the rules are (if there are any), so I’m prob­a­bly break­ing some of them. I did get the idea that this was sup­posed to cen­ter around faces, so there’s at least that. Some of these sam­ples are more recent and oth­ers slight­ly old­er. At the moment, I feel like this works pret­ty well. If I were to attempt this again tomor­row, it’s pos­si­ble I could pick a few oth­er images.

I feel like I might be break­ing one of the rules with my pho­to in the cen­ter. It’s (obvi­ous­ly) not a cur­rent self­ie. Not by a long shot! That’s a 12 year-old me, on my birth­day. If you could see more of the pic­ture, you’d see I was attempt­ing to paint a pic­ture (using oils) of the USS Enter­prise fir­ing on a Klin­gon ship. Why that pho­to? I fig­ure: don’t we all start some­place like that as artists? Every­thing else flows from that.

Harvey Girls Forever! Part 6

So I talked a bit about work­ing on this show in my ear­li­er five posts about it (which should be eas­i­ly find­able here on the site). The last two sea­sons are now on Net­flix, which means I can final­ly show my sto­ry­board revi­sion work from those episodes!

As I men­tioned before, my work kind of has an unin­ten­tion­al “tell.” You can usu­al­ly spot it by the “non-pho­to blue” under­draw­ing, unless the direc­tor chose to remove it. I’m only includ­ing a sam­ple of this new work here with this post. You can find even more in the Har­vey Girls For­ev­er! sec­tion of my Sto­ry­board Revi­sion port­fo­lio, on the Gal­leries side of my site.

One fun aspect of these last two sea­sons was that we got to bring Richie Rich (“The Poor Lit­tle Rich Boy”) into the show, as part of our reg­u­lar cast. With Richie’s resources, that opened up a whole lot more sto­ry pos­si­bil­i­ties, and things got even wilder!

It was a real priv­i­lege to be select­ed to work on this project, as one of the first revi­sion­ists they hired. The ini­tial draw for me was get­ting to revis­it these char­ac­ters I remem­bered from Har­vey Comics, in a form that was slight­ly updat­ed for mod­ern audi­ences. But as with any­thing in ani­ma­tion, that’s only part of what makes for a good expe­ri­ence on a show. I also got to meet and work with some very tal­ent­ed folks, all of whom brought a lit­tle of them­selves to the project. They all had a part in mak­ing this show the unique and spe­cial project it was.

Much love and respect always, fel­low Har­vey Kids!

What Have I Done??”

So back when I first start­ed this site, I had in mind cre­at­ing a tra­di­tion of doing Franken­stein-relat­ed art for Hal­loween, when I had time. It’s been awhile since I did one. So here you go!

Mil­ton the Mon­ster is one of those car­toons from my child­hood that I’ve always looked back on fond­ly. Cer­tain car­toon prop­er­ties are well-remem­bered and seem to come back for revivals every so often. Mil­ton is one of those car­toons that seems to have slid into obscu­ri­ty, unfor­tu­nate­ly. Most car­toon fans either don’t remem­ber it, or have nev­er heard of it.

For those who don’t know about the show, the con­cep­t’s right there in the show’s theme song! Take a look. I had­n’t watched the show in a long time, so doing this cov­er was an excuse to watch some episodes and refresh my mem­o­ry. Yes, it’s def­i­nite­ly lim­it­ed TV ani­ma­tion, and the jokes can get a lit­tle corn­ball, but I still get a kick out of it. If some­one were to actu­al­ly do a revival of this show, it would be a blast to be involved!

Search­ing for actu­al char­ac­ter mod­els to draw from, I could­n’t find any. I have a sense that TV ani­ma­tion in the ’60s some­times had a much broad­er inter­pre­ta­tion of “on-mod­el” than what it does now, or even when I start­ed work­ing in ani­ma­tion in the ear­ly ’90s. It’s sur­pris­ing to see how much the look of the char­ac­ters on this show can fluc­tu­ate from episode to episode, depend­ing on the ani­ma­tor.

And of course, this had to be a Gold Key cov­er. They actu­al­ly did pub­lish one issue of a Mil­ton the Mon­ster com­ic back in the mid-’60s. If you were a kid in the ’60s and want­ed to buy a com­ic book fea­tur­ing your favorite ani­mat­ed character(s), Gold Key had the rights pret­ty much sewn up to all of them!

Any­way, I hope you enjoy this. And Hap­py Hal­loween!

When Titans Clash!

Long­time vis­i­tors to this site may remem­ber that I got my start in ani­ma­tion work­ing on X‑Men: the Ani­mat­ed Series. That meant my first boss was Lar­ry Hous­ton, who I came to con­sid­er both my men­tor in the busi­ness, and a friend. Lar­ry’s now get­ting to enjoy much-deserved recog­ni­tion for his con­tri­bu­tions to X‑Men, as well as a num­ber of oth­er car­toons peo­ple think of fond­ly from their youth.

But before he got into ani­ma­tion, Lar­ry aspired to do comics. And he did! In his 20’s, he self-pub­lished three issues of his own com­ic, The Enforcers, with a lit­tle help from his friends.

Those comics have been out of print for years. But not long ago, Lar­ry decid­ed to re-pub­lish them all togeth­er in one big col­lec­tion. You can pur­chase it off of Lar­ry’s site, using the link above, in either dig­i­tal or phys­i­cal form. Orig­i­nal­ly his comics were in black and white (as was typ­i­cal for inde­pen­dent comics in those days), but this time it’s in full col­or!

I ordered myself a copy, and I found it a real blast. You can feel the excite­ment on the page, that “we’re doing our own comics!” Of course there are some rough edges, but you can see Lar­ry and friends learn­ing their craft and improv­ing vis­i­bly with each issue. It’s cer­tain­ly bet­ter than what I was doing in my 20’s! The art has a real ener­gy to it, and so does the dia­logue. There’s this ’70s Mar­vel/qua­si-Roy Thomas feel to it. I real­ly enjoyed the com­ic quite a bit!

So this is a bit of fan art on my part, recre­at­ing the cov­er of the col­lec­tion (which was also the cov­er to the orig­i­nal issue #3). But of course, it’s not just a straight re-cre­ation. I always have to have some kind of spin on it, or re-inter­pre­ta­tion. In this case, the idea was to tweak it slight­ly in some aspects to make it look even more like a main­stream com­ic from that late ’70s peri­od. Except for one or two pan­els, these sto­ries feel like they could have seen print in a Comics Code-approved book of that era.

So Lar­ry: thanks, and much respect always! Hav­ing read these sto­ries, I’d real­ly like to see you do some new comics with your char­ac­ters, using all the sto­ry­telling craft you’ve picked up in the inter­ven­ing years.

Lar­ry Hous­ton’s The Enforcers are ™ & ©1975, 1978, 1979 and 2018 Lar­ry F. Hous­ton.

Harvey Girls Forever! Part 5

The day is final­ly here! Net­flix has released sea­son 2 of Har­vey Girls For­ev­er! (for­mer­ly known as Har­vey Street Kids). The kids are run­ning around loose and free!

I’ve been wait­ing to be able to post some of my board revi­sion work on the show. Due to respect­ing  the NDA (Non-Dis­clo­sure Agree­ment) I orig­i­nal­ly signed, I was unable to post any of this work until the sea­son came out and I got clear­ance to post some of it. Which I just received today! I am very hap­py to be able to final­ly post this work!

I’m only post­ing a few scenes here up front. There’s a lot more of them to see over in the Sto­ry­board Revi­sion Port­fo­lio on the Gal­leries side of my site here.

My board revi­sion work kind of has an unin­ten­tion­al “tell.” You can usu­al­ly spot it by the “non-pho­to” blue under­draw­ing (unless the direc­tor chose to remove it). I fig­ure hav­ing that there does­n’t hurt, because it shows the ani­ma­tors what the thought process was behind the draw­ing, and that maybe it might even make for bet­ter ani­ma­tion.

I was the first revi­sion­ist hired on Har­vey Girls, and I got to do a lot of fun, goofy, cre­ative stuff. Despite some of the bumps in the road along the way (every show has them), it was a priv­i­lege to be a part of this series. I got to work along­side a whole bunch of real tal­ent­ed and cre­ative folk…some of whom I had worked with on a pre­vi­ous series, oth­ers who I met for the first time on this show.

Much love and respect always, to Bren­dan, Ali­ki and all my fel­low Har­vey Kids on the crew! I’m proud of the work we did (and glad I can final­ly post some of mine)!

Harvey Girls Forever! Part 4

Here’s install­ment #4, of my countdown/celebration of the return of Har­vey Girls For­ev­er! to Net­flix, this Fri­day May 10th!

Today’s Post-It draw­ings are a pen­cil draw­ing of the Bow, and Tiny dressed up as Franken­stein.

Unlike the oth­er draw­ings I’ve been post­ing, this draw­ing of the Bow seemed like it should stay in pen­cil. It seemed to give it a bit of the feel­ing of an engrav­ing some­how, or an Edward Gorey draw­ing.

And Tiny, always want­i­ng to be taller, is of course wear­ing a Franken­stein cos­tume. Specif­i­cal­ly, it’s based on Dick Briefer­’s comedic take that he did for a bit back in the Gold­en Age of comics. I did­n’t mess up the draw­ing on the mask; that’s how he drew the nose, way up high like that! I kind of talked a bit about Briefer­’s Franken­stein here.

That’s it for these Post-It draw­ings. If things go accord­ing to plan, I should be able to post some of my board revi­sion work from Har­vey Girls For­ev­er! tomor­row at some point.

Harvey Girls Forever! Part 3

Wel­come back to our countdown/celebration! Har­vey Girls For­ev­er! starts a new sea­son this Fri­day, May 10th, on Net­flix! I’ve been putting up Post-It draw­ings I did dur­ing breaks, while I was on the show.

Two for you today! Audrey as Furiosa, and Tiny as Shaft.

Audrey was always fun to draw on the show. It took me no time at all to fig­ure out who she was: that kid who was total­ly impul­sive and ener­getic, fun to be around…and prob­a­bly would get you into some trou­ble. But you’d sure have fun while doing it!

And Tiny was a lot of fun too, for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. He was the kid who was a lit­tle small­er than every­one else, and could­n’t wait to be big. Despite his size though, he already had a big heart. Seemed like fun to have him cos­play­ing as Shaft (though most like­ly his par­ents would­n’t have let him see that movie yet).

Tune in tomor­row for anoth­er install­ment!

Harvey Girls Forever! Part 2

Wel­come back to my lit­tle countdown/celebration of the return of Har­vey Girls For­ev­er!, return­ing to Net­flix this Fri­day, May 10th!

Here’s anoth­er Post-It draw­ing, done dur­ing a break on the show. As I men­tioned yes­ter­day, Post-It draw­ings like this are a fun way of tak­ing ideas that lodge them­selves in your brain and clear­ing them out by get­ting them on paper.

This time it’s the Bow! The Bow was always some­thing of a crew favorite. I guess it was some­thing to do with the fact she’s the type of per­son who march­es to her own beat, and does­n’t care what any­one else thinks.

Reg­u­lar vis­i­tors to my site might recall that I’ve done a play on the OBEY stick­ers before, but the Bow sort of seemed to loan her­self to this too.

Thanks for tun­ing in! More to come tomor­row.