Category Archives: Illustration

Illus­tra­tion work done for var­i­ous clients.

To Boldly Go where No Tastebuds Have Gone Before!

Recent­ly, cour­tesy of Net­flix, I’ve been re-watch­ing the orig­i­nal Star Trek. It’s not like I haven’t already watched all of these episodes mul­ti­ple times over the years, but they’re always enter­tain­ing (even the less­er ones have some­thing to rec­om­mend them). Yeah, I’ll admit it: I was a bit of Trekkie grow­ing up. I prob­a­bly built the Enter­prise mod­el three or four dif­fer­ent times (always hop­ing that maybe this time they’d fig­ured out a way to engi­neer it so the nacelles would­n’t sag out­wards). I even did my own lit­tle home­made 8mm Star Trek movie when i was in ele­men­tary school (but that’s anoth­er story).

Watch­ing the episode “The Cor­bomite Maneu­ver” again for the umpteenth time, I got struck by this sil­ly idea for a retro-styled ad. It was one of those things that gets stuck in your head, and you feel like you have to do it in order to get it unstuck. So here it is! If you’re as famil­iar with the show as I am, you’ll get it.

Though my his­to­ry with Illus­tra­tor goes back quite a ways (Illus­tra­tor 88, any­one?), I tried a tech­nique I haven’t done before on this. I’m used to Illus­tra­tor always look­ing pris­tine clean, so get­ting more of a tex­tured look was some­thing dif­fer­ent. I’d guess in the pre-dig­i­tal art era when peo­ple did illus­tra­tions like this, it was like­ly done using an air­brush set so it would spray in a more tex­tur­al way. Or maybe it was done by paint­ing with a sponge and frisket material.

It occurs to me this also kind of works pret­ty well as a year-end piece! I wish all my site vis­i­tors the best, and may 2021 be a much bet­ter year for us all!

Twistin’ with Frank!

If you’ve poked around my site for any length of time, you might have noticed I have some­thing of a loose tra­di­tion of cre­at­ing some kind of Franken­stein image for my site around Hal­loween, when I have the chance. Here’s this year’s!

I had the good for­tune that dur­ing my child­hood, mon­sters were a big part of the pop cul­ture land­scape. This def­i­nite­ly informed me (or warped me, depend­ing on your per­spec­tive). Mon­sters were kind of every­where! Car­toons, TV shows, books (like How to Care for Your Mon­ster), mod­el kits, toys, games…all kinds of fun stuff! There was even the occa­sion­al nov­el­ty mon­ster-themed 45 record.

That’s sort of where this idea came from. This mid-cen­tu­ry Car­toon Mod­ern type of style is not some­thing I’ve done a lot, but it’s how I envi­sioned this look­ing in my head. You spend years try­ing to get vol­ume into your draw­ings, but you kind of have to throw your brain into reverse and think more in terms of flat­ter shapes and sil­hou­ettes in order to do some­thing like this. I find it a chal­lenge, but a fun one.

When this idea came into my head, it just felt like a record that should’ve exist­ed back then, so I took it upon myself to make it hap­pen. I hope you enjoy my lit­tle illus­tra­tion and design experiment.

Hap­py Halloween!

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.

FCA: Tells the Facts and Names the Names

FCA Harlan Ellison CoverA lit­tle while back, I was asked to do the cov­er for an upcom­ing issue of the Faw­cett Col­lec­tors of Amer­i­ca, fea­tur­ing an inter­view with none oth­er than Har­lan Elli­son. FCA is a sort of mag­a­zine with­in a mag­a­zine, appear­ing in the pages of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego. The issue of Alter Ego which also fea­tures FCA #197 is sched­uled to be avail­able in mid-Feb­ru­ary 2016.

This cov­er went through sev­er­al ear­li­er iter­a­tions (though none of them actu­al­ly made it onto paper) before I came up with the con­cept for this final ver­sion. My ini­tial thought was that maybe I should do a por­trait of Mr. Elli­son as a boy, read­ing a copy of Cap­tain Mar­vel Adven­tures or Whiz Comics. Some­thing along those the­mat­ic lines. One of the main prob­lems with this approach though was that there aren’t a whole lot of pho­tos (if any!) of a young Har­lan float­ing around out there on the inter­nets. So if I went that route, I was like­ly going to have to try to work up a rec­og­niz­able fake ver­sion of Mr. Elli­son as a child from just my imag­i­na­tion. It turned out P.C. was­n’t too sold on the idea any­way, so we aban­doned that concept.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, nei­ther of us were com­ing up with any great replace­ment pos­si­bil­i­ties. It was sug­gest­ed that maybe if I read the inter­view for myself, it might spark an idea. And it did. The new cov­er con­cept was to do it as a sort of homage to the Edward Hop­per paint­ing Nighthawks, set at a late-night din­er. I’d show Mr. Elli­son sit­ting down with Cap­tain Mar­vel and the main vil­lain from the “Mon­ster Soci­ety of Evil” sto­ry, Mr. Mind. The tone felt right. Only one prob­lem: Mr. Mind is very small, so there was a major scale issue that would have to be addressed if I did this.

But then anoth­er idea popped into my mind that seemed to fit even bet­ter tonal­ly. I’d do the cov­er in the style of the old “scan­dal sheet” gos­sip pulps, like Con­fi­den­tial. Once this con­cept came into my head, I knew it was the right way to go, and P.C. agreed. It’s a bit dif­fer­ent from what you usu­al­ly see as an FCA cov­er, but it’s fun, and hope­ful­ly peo­ple will get what we’re doing and enjoy it.

Hap­py 2016, folks!

Captain Marvel is 75!

Captain Marvel at 75I was just giv­en leave to post this draw­ing. This year’s the 75th Anniver­sary of the orig­i­nal Cap­tain Mar­vel. FCA Edi­tor Paul Hamer­linck (for whom I’ve done sev­er­al cov­ers over the years, a num­ber of which can be found here on my site) was writ­ing an essay in hon­or of Cap’s 75th for Jon B. Cooke’s Com­ic Book Cre­ator mag­a­zine. Paul asked if I would like to con­tribute an illus­tra­tion to poten­tial­ly accom­pa­ny his essay, and left it up to me what to do. A 75-year-old Cap seemed simul­ta­ne­ous­ly like both an unex­pect­ed and yet obvi­ous way to go.

I was­n’t sure if either Paul or Jon would go for this idea. Maybe it would be a lit­tle too weird for a trib­ute. But I guess their sens­es of humor must some­times go a lit­tle towards the weird too.

Paul’s essay, accom­pa­nied by my illus­tra­tion, will be appear­ing in issue #10 of Com­ic Book Cre­ator, ship­ping in Novem­ber to your fin­er local comics shops everywhere.

Thanks, guys! This was fun!

Hap­py 75th, Cap!

It’s the “S!”

FCA Elliot S! Maggin CoverSor­ry it’s been so long since I post­ed any­thing new here! It’s time to do some­thing about that.

Here’s a pre­view of the cov­er I did for an upcom­ing issue of FCA, appear­ing in the pages of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego. This issue fea­tures an inter­view with comics writer Elliot S! Mag­gin (he was includ­ing an excla­ma­tion mark after his mid­dle ini­tial in those days). Mr. Mag­gin was one of the writ­ers who were called upon to write DC’s revival of the orig­i­nal Cap­tain Mar­vel and the Mar­vel Fam­i­ly, in the ear­ly ’70s.

Those with an astute eye will real­ize that this illus­tra­tion forms some­thing of a book­end with the Den­ny O’Neil cov­er I post­ed some months back. Keep­ing that visu­al asso­ci­a­tion was at the FCA edi­tor’s request, since both O’Neil and Mag­gin were the main writ­ers for the Cap­tain Mar­vel revival.

The back­ground art I’m using here comes from sto­ries Mr. Mag­gin wrote (just as the art I used on Mr. O’Neil’s por­trait cov­er came from Cap­tain Mar­vel sto­ries he’d written).

Though the cov­er date says May, this issue should hit the stands some­time in April. I’m look­ing for­ward to read­ing the arti­cle myself!

Oh, the Pain…”

PainI 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. 🙂

Denny O, AKA Sergius O

FCA Denny O'Neil CoverHere’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. 🙂

Heads Up!

Heads 1A 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.

Thunder Enlightening, and a Big Bang

Thunder Girl Adventures #16What you’re see­ing here is actu­al­ly a draw­ing gen­er­at­ed some years ago for Big Bang Comics. It was a fake old com­ic cov­er, done for one of the His­to­ry issues we put togeth­er. Those issues con­coct­ed a whole fic­ti­tious back his­to­ry of Big Bang as a comics pub­lish­er (bor­row­ing their for­mat from the two com­plet­ed vol­umes of The Ster­anko His­to­ry of Comics). I did­n’t ink this image; if mem­o­ry serves, the inks were by Jeff Mey­er, who also inked my work on a num­ber of oth­er projects around that time.

The col­or on this is new, though (which is why you’re see­ing it here). I was recent­ly con­tact­ed by Big Bang head hon­chos Gary Carl­son and Chris Eck­er, asked if I’d be game to final­ly add col­or to this cov­er. They’ve recent­ly part­nered with a com­pa­ny named Pulp 2.0 Press to bring back some of the Big Bang prop­er­ties, and look at new ways of get­ting them out there. I under­stand this image might even­tu­al­ly end up on prod­ucts like t‑shirts, cof­fee mugs, etc. Which would be a very cool thing to see!

So this gives me the chance to talk about a cou­ple oth­er things, while this image is up. I believe I’ve men­tioned my Big Bang asso­ci­a­tion before, but haven’t got­ten into much detail about it. Though I did­n’t entire­ly get in on the ground floor, I came in pret­ty close to it. Gary and Chris had­n’t yet pub­lished their first few issues through Cal­iber, but were begin­ning to assem­ble the con­tents when I was intro­duced to Gary at Com­ic Con. This meet­ing came about because writer Nat Gertler and I had done a one-shot for Par­o­dy Press/Entity Comics called Mis­ter U.S.: 50 For­got­ten Years (This lat­er came out as Big Bang Comics #8). PP/EC tried to solic­it for it twice. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the num­bers weren’t there. But Pub­lish­er Don Chin thought there was some­thing there that might be of inter­est to Gary for what he and Chris were work­ing on, so Don made the introduction.

Gary and I hit it off right away. I was first brought in just to help design and draw a Simon/Kir­by-ish char­ac­ter they’d had an idea for, called the Badge. But they dis­cov­ered that I could also help with cre­at­ing logos, as well as design­ing a slew of oth­er char­ac­ters and doing occa­sion­al col­or work. I did­n’t just get to draw like Simon and Kir­by, but oth­er artists too, along the way. Plus I even had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to help out with sto­ry­line con­tri­bu­tions. It was a blast, and exact­ly the sort of thing you hope to get to do when you dream of doing comics as a kid. So, thanks, Gary and Chris!

And while I’m here, this is an oppor­tu­ni­ty for me to say some­thing about Thun­der Girl and Bill Fugate. Thun­der Girl was sort of Big Bang’s nod to Faw­cett’s Cap­tain Mar­vel. And Bill Fugate was the per­fect artist to bring her to life and draw her sto­ries. With­out Bil­l’s involve­ment from the begin­ning, she would not have been the same. Bil­l’s draw­ings just had “fun” com­ing out of every line on the page. His work was car­toon­ing of the high­est order, in the best pos­si­ble sense. I hon­est­ly think C.C. Beck would’ve liked Bil­l’s work a great deal. When­ev­er Bill man­aged to get a new Thun­der Girl sto­ry com­plet­ed for pub­li­ca­tion, it was an occa­sion. Heck, any time Bill pro­duced any comics work, you knew you were in for a real treat!

I admired many of my fel­low Big Bang con­trib­u­tors for their tal­ents and skills. With Bill, I con­sid­ered myself an out­right fan. I nev­er had the chance to meet him or exchange emails, tell him how much I tru­ly loved his work. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Bill passed away (much too soon!) back in Feb­ru­ary this year. He was not as well known a name in comics as I think he should’ve been. As I’ve told some peo­ple already: in anoth­er world, some very smart pub­lish­er would’ve paid Bill big bucks to cre­ate any comics he want­ed to draw. And those comics would’ve sold in real­ly huge numbers.

R.I.P., Bill. You are most def­i­nite­ly missed.