Tag Archives: Science Fiction

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!

The Ultimate Comic Strip

I see this mon­th’s zip­ping by, and as busy as I am, I’m just not at a point where I can post any­thing cur­rent and new yet. So instead of that, here’s some­thing old that might be of inter­est.

This was done while I attend­ed Art Cen­ter in Pasade­na, back in the ear­ly ’90s. Some of the specifics are lost to time now, but I had an illus­tra­tion class at the time, and for our final, we were to do a self-por­trait. The para­me­ters of the assign­ment and how you could inter­pret it were wide open.

I was­n’t sure what to do, how to approach it, and was wrack­ing my brains. Until one of my friends in the class made the off­hand com­ment, “Oh, you’ll just do yours as a com­ic, right?” It was one of those fore­head-slap­ping moments. I was too close to it to see the solu­tion myself, though it was the obvi­ous way to go in the eyes of my friends in the class who knew my inter­est in comics.

And this was the result. Though I think I draw a bit bet­ter now (I did this twen­ty years ago now?! Yeesh!), I still kind of like this. I think most artists can relate, at some point or anoth­er. Any­way, enjoy! I hope to have some new cur­rent work to post next time.

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!