Tag Archives: Fake Comic Cover

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!

The Captain That Split the Scene

Captain Marvel Split! by Mark LewisIt 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.

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.

The Forgotten Ones: Bee-29, the Bombardier

Bee-29There’s prob­a­bly a lot of ground I should cov­er to explain this one, so I’ll get right to it.

In doing research for a recent project (which you’ll find out about at a lat­er date), I was point­ed towards a web­site fea­tur­ing com­ic book char­ac­ters that are now report­ed­ly in the pub­lic domain. While going through all those char­ac­ters, it struck me that there was mate­r­i­al there which might be worth min­ing for future blog posts. As a result, this will be the first of a series of posts on “For­got­ten Ones,” which I may do from time to time.

For this inau­gur­al out­ing, I chose Bee-29, the Bom­bardier. Bee-29 is unique because so far as I know, he’s the only bee super­hero! He only made a few appear­ances back in 1945, but one of them was in a com­ic named for him. In the inter­ests of sav­ing col­umn space, if you’d like to read the entry for Bee-29 on the Pub­lic Domain Super Heroes site, you can check it out here.

If you’ve vis­it­ed this site much, you’ve prob­a­bly picked up on the fact I often like to try to find an angle to approach a char­ac­ter like this, some kind of a dif­fer­ent spin I can put on it instead of just repro­duc­ing some­thing ver­ba­tim. So I thought, “What if in some alter­nate world, Han­na-Bar­bera had picked up the rights to this char­ac­ter?” Going down that path lead to my attempt at an HB ver­sion of Bee-29 on the faux Gold Key cov­er you see here, since Gold Key han­dled most of the car­toon-based comics back in the day.

Let me go on record here and say that I am def­i­nite­ly a fan of the clas­sic Han­na-Bar­bera look. Yes, I grew up watch­ing those shows, but it’s more than that. Years ago when Han­na-Bar­bera was locat­ed on the 14th floor of the Impe­r­i­al Bank Build­ing in Sher­man Oaks, mul­ti­ple times a day I would walk by these great framed cels from shows like The Flint­stones and The Jet­sons, hang­ing on the walls in the hall­way. I saw how well-designed all those char­ac­ters were, and how strong­ly sil­hou­ette-ori­ent­ed they were. The HB design­ers took the restric­tions of lim­it­ed ani­ma­tion and small TV screens, and actu­al­ly turned them into strengths.

I’ve not had a lot of oppor­tu­ni­ty to attempt that clas­sic HB look, so this was a chance to ven­ture onto that play­ground a lit­tle bit. And I’d be remiss if I did­n’t tip my hat here and say thanks to my good friend Mark Chris­tiansen, who is tru­ly a clas­sic HB mas­ter.

Captain Marvel is #1!

Captain Marvel #1 FakeOkay, I real­ize I’ve done a lot of Mar­vel Fam­i­ly-cen­tric posts here late­ly. I hon­est­ly intend­ed that I was going to move away from that this time. But I could­n’t help myself!

My orig­i­nal plan here was to do a straight recreation/reinterpretation of the cov­er of  Cap­tain Mar­vel #1, pub­lished by Mar­vel Comics in 1968 and fea­tur­ing their alien ver­sion of Cap­tain Mar­vel (Kree, to be spe­cif­ic). It was to have been kind of a lit­tle joke, that it would be a Cap­tain Mar­vel, but not the same Cap­tain Mar­vel I usu­al­ly draw. Plus, I’ve always kind of liked the Kree Cap­tain Mar­vel’s orig­i­nal green and white out­fit for some rea­son.

But then, as I was look­ing at the cov­er, I remem­bered a con­ver­sa­tion I’d had with FCA Edi­tor P.C. Hamer­linck. For those of us with an inter­est in comics his­to­ry (who did what, who pub­lished what, and when), some­times it’s fun to play a game of “What If?” You take events as they hap­pened, then pro­pose a change. It’s like throw­ing a stone into a stream, and see­ing what rip­ples it makes. In this case, P.C. and I once had a con­ver­sa­tion where he threw out the idea, “What if instead of DC pick­ing up the rights to Faw­cett’s Cap­tain Mar­vel, it had been Mar­vel Comics that had made that call?”

That con­ver­sa­tion sud­den­ly came to mind as I looked at the orig­i­nal ver­sion of this cov­er, and real­ized that the pose of the Kree Cap­tain would­n’t take much to rework it slight­ly and make it work just as well for the orig­i­nal Cap­tain Mar­vel. So I got hooked on the idea. This was the result.

Please bear with me for a lit­tle fan­boy indul­gence here: who do I think would’ve been the like­ly can­di­dates to do this book, if Mar­vel had bought the rights back then? Every­one’s obvi­ous first thought would like­ly be Jack Kir­by. How­ev­er, at that point in time, Kir­by’s con­tri­bu­tions to Mar­vel were mov­ing towards being most­ly just between the cov­ers of Fan­tas­tic Four and Thor. I believe it’s more like­ly that some­one from the sec­ond wave of Mar­vel cre­ators com­ing in at that time would’ve been giv­en this assign­ment. Art­wise, at the moment, I’m think­ing per­haps Bill Everett might’ve been the best choice. He had some of that Mar­vel ener­gy going for him, yet he also still had a cer­tain “car­toony-ness” to his work that I think Cap­tain Mar­vel needs.

The writ­ing side of the equa­tion is a no-brain­er. I’m sure Roy Thomas would’ve argued a very strong case for his being the one to get this assign­ment. And I’m think­ing Stan Lee most like­ly would’ve giv­en in and hand­ed the book to him.

Sorry,…What Was Your Name Again?”

Hm. Where to begin to explain this one?

This orig­i­nal­ly start­ed out intend­ed to be just a sketch, done for John Pierce. But as these things some­times hap­pen with me, it sort of took on a whole life of its own. John is a friend, an email cor­re­spon­dent, a long­time comics fan and writer. You may have seen his work in some mag­a­zines about comics like Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego/FCA (the Faw­cett Col­lec­tors of Amer­i­ca).

Any­way, John has a char­ac­ter he cre­at­ed called Jon­ni Star. Her sto­ries have appeared in a few small press comics here and there, usu­al­ly illus­trat­ed by Brazil­ian artist Emir Ribeiro. (I even took a crack at draw­ing Jon­ni myself once, and you can see the result here in my Gallery). John had an idea for a com­ic book char­ac­ter that John­na (Jon­ni’s civil­ian iden­ti­ty) liked to read about, called Mara­cana, the Invin­ci­ble Eagle. Which I guess makes Mara­cana a com­ic with­in a com­ic.

Most comics fans will like­ly be able to sort out for them­selves which char­ac­ter arche­type Mara­cana’s descend­ed from. But John has some inter­est­ing twists in there too, like hav­ing her root­ed in a more Celtic-influ­enced cul­ture instead of the Gre­co-Roman type one might tend to usu­al­ly expect with a char­ac­ter like this. Like I say, this start­ed out intend­ed to be just a sketch, but I guess I got car­ried away and could­n’t help myself. I thought the end result was fun. Seemed like I might just as well go ahead and post it here, while I’m at it.

Mara­cana the Invin­ci­ble Eagle is ™ and © John Pierce.

Before “Before Watchmen”

The image I’m post­ing this time is not a new one (it’s already over in the Gal­leries side of my site), but I’ve had some friends make the case that with DC Comics doing all their “Before Watch­men” books right now, it’s a good time to call atten­tion to it anew here on the front page.

There’s a sto­ry behind this piece. A friend of mine in the ani­ma­tion field, Lance Falk, has these sketch­books he pass­es around. They have art by some amaz­ing artists. Chances are if you can think of some big name artist, Lance very like­ly has art by him or her in one of his books. Way back when we were work­ing on “The Real Adven­tures of Jon­ny Quest” togeth­er, Lance asked if I’d be will­ing to do a sketch for his then-cur­rent book. It’s both huge­ly flat­ter­ing and daunt­ing, once you see the lev­el of work oth­ers have done.

Lance sug­gest­ed he might like to see the Watch­men done as if Kir­by had drawn them. I wound up mak­ing a whole cov­er pro­duc­tion out of it, as if it were done in the mid-’60s. Lance was very hap­py with the end result, and I was huge­ly relieved that it was well-received.

Fast for­ward some months lat­er (maybe even a year), and I find out that this sketch­book had been cir­cu­lat­ing fur­ther. It had crossed orig­i­nal Watch­men artist and co-cre­ator Dave Gib­bons’ path in Lon­don. When I first heard he’d seen the book with my draw­ing in it, I must admit I was tak­en aback. But Lance assured me that Mr. Gib­bons actu­al­ly got a big kick out of what I’d done. Once again, I was huge­ly relieved.

Fast for­ward to more recent times, and the pub­li­ca­tion of Mr. Gib­bons’ book, Watch­ing the Watch­men, which com­piled all kinds of back­ground mate­r­i­al on that piv­otal work. He appar­ent­ly liked this Kir­by Watch­men cov­er well enough, he asked me if I’d mind his includ­ing it in the book. What do you think I said? 🙂

Thanks much, Lance and Mr. Gib­bons!

With One Magic Word…

Final­ly I get to show off the last of those two items I teased back in Decem­ber. I gave a fur­ther peek at it here. It’s anoth­er cov­er done for FCA, which appears in the back of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego mag­a­zine. This one was obvi­ous­ly done up to look like one of those issues of Secret Ori­gins that DC Comics pub­lished in the ear­ly ’70s. I loved those as a kid, because back then they were one of the rare venues where you had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to see any of that gold­en age com­ic mate­r­i­al.

I’ve talked in pre­vi­ous posts about how much I liked the gold­en age Super­man and Bat­man. But with­out a doubt, my favorite gold­en age char­ac­ter would have to be Cap­tain Mar­vel. When DC brought him back from pub­lish­ing lim­bo in the ear­ly ’70s, I was already primed for it. I’d read about the “Big Red Cheese” in our local library’s copy of All in Col­or for a Dime, as well as in The Ster­anko His­to­ry of Comics. Some­thing about the visu­al and the idea of the char­ac­ter hooked me, even with­out ever hav­ing seen a sin­gle Cap­tain Mar­vel sto­ry yet.

Not to dis­miss the sto­ries, but a huge part of the appeal of those gold­en age Cap­tain Mar­vel comics for me is the art. As the char­ac­ter’s design­er and main artist, C.C. Beck set the tone there. Most gold­en age com­ic book artists doing super­heroes looked to the news­pa­per adven­ture strips for their inspi­ra­tion. They most­ly tend­ed to fall into one of two schools: it was either the illus­tra­tive real­ism of Fos­ter and Ray­mond, or the more impres­sion­is­tic approach of Sick­les and Can­iff. Instead, Beck looked to the “fun­ny” por­tion of the fun­ny pages for his inspi­ra­tion (like Jack Cole did with Plas­tic Man). The result was a strip that had a look and feel like no oth­er. And of course, the writ­ing played a role in mak­ing that pos­si­ble too.

While the high­er-ups at Faw­cett may have want­ed Bill Park­er and C.C. Beck to just give them a knock­off of Super­man, that was not what they got. They got some­thing bet­ter. Many read­ers back then must have thought so too; at the peak of the char­ac­ter’s pop­u­lar­i­ty, they were pub­lish­ing Cap­tain Mar­vel Adven­tures bi-week­ly and sell­ing 1.3 mil­lion copies of each issue!

I know some­times mod­ern fans have trou­ble with Mr. Tawky Tawny and some of the more whim­si­cal aspects of the strip, but for me, the clas­sic Cap­tain Mar­vel mate­r­i­al is inspi­ra­tional stuff. I wish I could tell you of a rel­a­tive­ly cheap and easy way to lay hands on that work if you haven’t seen it, but it seems hard­er to come by these days.

Doc (“Don’t Call Me ‘Doctor!‘”) Strange

Now that it’s fin­ished, I can show you one of the two items I teased back in Decem­ber. It’s a pin-up of the old Nedor Comics hero Doc Strange, as he might have appeared on the cov­er of an issue of Thrilling Comics in 1965, had Nedor still been pub­lish­ing at that point.

If you’re not famil­iar with the com­pa­ny, Nedor pub­lished (under sev­er­al names) dur­ing the gold­en age. They actu­al­ly had a fair­ly siz­able group of heroes, includ­ing Doc Strange. Nedor ceased pub­lish­ing comics at the end of the gold­en age. Since then, many peo­ple have tak­en a shot at doing some­thing with their old char­ac­ters. AC Comics has made use of them over the years, and so did Alan Moore and Peter Hogan more recent­ly in the Tom Strong spin­off minis­eries, Ter­ra Obscu­ra.

Doc was a scientist/adventurer who invent­ed a serum he named Alo­sun, dis­tilled from “sun atoms.” This serum gave him super­hu­man strength, flight and invul­ner­a­bil­i­ty when he used it.

Enough of the his­to­ry les­son. So why did I do this pin-up/­cov­er? Easy; because I was asked. The one and only Will Meugniot is cur­rent­ly doing a new cre­ator-owned series (in the back of AC Comics’ Fem­Force) that picks up the threads of the Nedor books with the descen­dants of some of the char­ac­ters. It’s called “Agents of N.E.D.O.R.,” and is intend­ed as a peri­od piece tak­ing place in 1965. Will invit­ed sev­er­al artists to con­tribute pin-ups of the orig­i­nal Nedor char­ac­ters, and I was very flat­tered to be asked if I’d like to do so too.

As is typ­i­cal for me, instead of mak­ing things sim­ple on myself, I had to make a whole cov­er out of it. Since Will’s sto­ry takes place in 1965, I thought this should be a cov­er for Thrilling Comics (which starred Doc) also from ’65, as if Nedor had kept on pub­lish­ing all that time. I even did some math to work out the issue num­ber. How’s that for obses­sive?

Doc Strange most often went on his adven­tures accom­pa­nied by his young side­kick Mike (who wore an iden­ti­cal out­fit, only with the addi­tion of a green cape for some rea­son). I thought it would be more fun though to show Doc with his girl­friend, Vir­ginia Thomp­son, as she would also some­times take part in his adven­tures. Of course, I updat­ed her look here for the times.

This will appear in b/w line art form in Fem­Force #159, since the book has b/w inte­ri­ors. But for my blog here, I want­ed to go full col­or. Because it’s how I saw this in my head from the start. I get asked to do a b/w pin-up and I envi­sion some­thing in col­or; go fig­ure!

Thanks, Will. This was a lot of fun!

Yet More Teasing

Things are real­ly busy here. I fin­ished one of the projects I teased last month, but I still can’t show off the whole thing quite just yet. How­ev­er, rather than let the month pass with­out post­ing any­thing, I thought I’d at least show a por­tion of the final art. It’s anoth­er faux com­ic cov­er (some­thing I’ve done a lot of). This one I’m quite hap­py with (So is the client, which is always a good thing when you can man­age it), and I look for­ward to when the whole thing can be shown!