Author Archives: Mark

The Adventures of Santa Claus

Here’s one that’s been in my head since last Christ­mas, but there was too much going on then for me to get to it in time. So it feels good to final­ly get this real­ized this year!

I’ve always had a soft spot for those DC 80 Pg. Giants and 100 Pg. Super-Spec­tac­u­lars, and the idea of a some­what super­hero-style San­ta Claus 80 Pg. Giant com­ic sound­ed like a fun idea that need­ed to exist. And it’s a giv­en that Go-Go Checks auto­mat­i­cal­ly make any com­ic cov­er better!

Of course, there were a lot of pos­si­ble vil­lains to pick from, but ulti­mate­ly I grav­i­tat­ed towards these. For those who don’t know, Pitch comes from the 1959 Mex­i­can movie San­ta Claus. Voldar and Torg appear in the 1964 “clas­sic” San­ta Claus Con­quers the Mar­tians. The Heat Miser and the Snow Miser show up in the TV spe­cial, The Year With­out a San­ta Claus. And final­ly, Oogie Boo­gie comes from the Dis­ney clas­sic The Night­mare Before Christ­mas. Just real­ized: they’re all in chrono­log­i­cal order. I had­n’t real­ly planned it that way (I was think­ing more about even­ly dis­trib­ut­ing the reds and greens), but so be it!

That’s about all I can think of to say for this image, except: I’d like to wish all my site vis­i­tors a Mer­ry Christ­mas and a Hap­py New Year!

A Whole Buncha Stars Here,…You Bet!

I’ve men­tioned before how some­times ideas for art kind of come at me from ran­dom direc­tions, and cer­tain ideas will stick in my head until I do some­thing about them. This is one of those.

Most fans of comics and comics his­to­ry will rec­og­nize the sig­nif­i­cance of All Star Comics. Espe­cial­ly issue #3: it was the first appear­ance of the Jus­tice Soci­ety of Amer­i­ca! The cov­er for #3 is well-known, as it’s been re-cre­at­ed and repur­posed by a num­ber of oth­er artists over the years. I even did it myself once some years back for an FCA cov­er (Faw­cett Col­lec­tors of Amer­i­ca), replac­ing the DC heroes with Fawcett’s.

Less famil­iar are the issues pri­or to #3. I guess once DC had pub­lished Archive Edi­tions con­tain­ing every issue from All Star #3 for­ward, it was decid­ed that they prob­a­bly should com­plete the set and put out an Archive col­lect­ing the first two issues, before the title became about the Jus­tice Soci­ety. Hence vol­ume #0.

On a recent reread of that vol­ume, I was struck by the cov­er of All Star #1. The pub­lished cov­er seemed an after­thought: using exist­ing art pho­to­stat­ted from pre­vi­ous sto­ries and past­ed up, the char­ac­ters look­ing tiny and con­strict­ed in the lay­out. Maybe the issue was run­ning close to the dead­line when they real­ized they still need­ed a cov­er. I start­ed to think, “What might it have looked like if they’d had more time to put it together?”

And as men­tioned up top, the idea stuck, and the only way to get it out of my head was to actu­al­ly do it! So here’s my take on it.

Hope you enjoy it!

Do the Frankenstomp!

It’s that time of year again! Hal­loween! And long-time vis­i­tors to my site might recall that I have some­thing of a loose tra­di­tion of doing Franken­stein-themed stuff in hon­or of the hol­i­day. Here’s this year’s: a sin­gle from the ’60s by the Orloks, doing the Frankenstomp.

There was a big pop cul­ture fas­ci­na­tion with mon­sters in the ’60s, like­ly spurred ini­tial­ly at least in part by TV sta­tions look­ing to fill time, and resort­ing to run­ning old mon­ster movies. They caught on with young view­ers and cre­at­ed a demand for more, result­ing in all kinds of games, mod­els, TV shows, cartoons…and even nov­el­ty 45’s like this.

I’m a big fan of this kind of mid-cen­tu­ry art style (and the style of graph­ic design that goes with it). It’s very sil­hou­ette- and shape-ori­ent­ed. I must con­fess, it does­n’t come entire­ly nat­ur­al to me to try to draw this way (it’s like throw­ing a car in hard reverse, after years of try­ing so hard to get vol­ume and dimen­sion into all my work). But it’s fun to at least attempt it like this every now and then.

Enjoy, and Hap­py Halloween!

Oh, Venus…!

I dis­cov­ered just before the start of this month that there’s some­thing of a social media thing going on at the moment with Big Bang Comics char­ac­ters. #Big­Bang­To­ber appar­ent­ly. As an ear­ly con­trib­u­tor to Big Bang (ear­ly and often, in a vari­ety of ways), I felt like maybe I should con­tribute to the cause. So over on LinkedIn, I’ve been post­ing a num­ber of my old Big Bang pieces.

The attached is one I always want­ed to col­or, but nev­er had the chance to, until now. It’s a faux Gold­en Age cov­er, done as one of many for one of the “Big Bang His­to­ry of Comics” issues. Mod­eled after The Ster­anko His­to­ry of Comics books, Gary Carl­son need­ed a lot of cov­ers to fill out the pages. This was one I came up with. Pen­cils, let­ter­ing (and of course, col­or­ing) are mine. Inks were by Jeff Mey­er, who did a great job of help­ing fur­ther the H.G. Peter art look I was going for here. (I came up with the name “P.G.Harris” as kind of Big Bang’s H.G. Peter equivalent).

Thanks for looking!

Monkey Business

Lancelot Link cover based on Steranko's Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.IE.L.D #6 cover.Hm. How best to explain this thing?

Peri­od­i­cal­ly online, you see that age-old ques­tion pop up again: “Where do ideas come from?” Just speak­ing for myself, they can strike at very odd times. This one hit me as I was dri­ving up I‑5 one day to go vis­it a friend. Just, “boom,” there it was in my brain. And as I’ve men­tioned before, some­times an idea will just lodge itself in my brain, and I can’t get it out unless I actu­al­ly do it. So here it is.

Some of you will know that Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp was a live action Sat­ur­day morn­ing show where they put a bunch of chim­panzees in cos­tumes and filmed them. I think I read some­where that they gave them food or some kind of chew­ing gum to get their mouths mov­ing, and then the voice actors would lat­er dub in their parts, try­ing to get some sem­blance of lip sync. I’m pret­ty sure it’s not exact­ly a show you could do today, for a num­ber of reasons.

Many will also real­ize that this is a re-cre­ation/rein­ter­pre­ta­tion of the cov­er of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #6, by Jim Ster­anko. Apolo­gies to Mr. Ster­anko, whom I have noth­ing but respect for, but I had to get this out of my brain!

It’s a Gold Key cov­er, and not Mar­vel, because Gold Key was the com­pa­ny who held pret­ty much all the comics licens­es to all the Sat­ur­day morn­ing shows at this point. They actu­al­ly pub­lished Lancelot Link comics back then. Those who’ve seen the show might be won­der­ing, “What’s with the red hair? He did­n’t have that on TV.” The artists drew him that way in the com­ic (I’m guess­ing to make him more visu­al­ly iden­ti­fi­able among all the oth­er chimps in the sto­ries), so I fol­lowed their lead.

This image end­ed up being a lot more com­pli­cat­ed to exe­cute than I had orig­i­nal­ly envi­sioned in my mind. Some­times I think I must have some kind of a masochis­tic streak as an artist. Often I’ll get deep in the midst of things like this, find it more com­plex and involved than I expect­ed, and think, “Why do I always do this to myself?” I’m sure I can’t be the only artist who does this.

Hope you enjoy my silli­ness here!

One More for the Road!

Recent vis­i­tors to my site in August will know that I was doing the online Jack Kir­by Trib­ute every day, the brain­child of Howard Simp­son. it was a blast par­tic­i­pat­ing, refresh­ing my appre­ci­a­tion all over again for all the great work Kir­by did over the years.

I stuck to a very spe­cif­ic for­mat with all of these: por­traits in a small square, col­ored with the lim­it­ed palette used in the old comics most of these char­ac­ters orig­i­nal­ly appeared in, even down to the dot pat­terns. And I had in mind that the end goal was to be able to assem­ble them all into one com­pos­ite image. I was­n’t sure how that would work out, but here’s how it did!

This was kind of just a per­son­al challenge/exercise in tak­ing the Trib­ute a step fur­ther. Not sure what hap­pens with it beyond this point.

Hope you enjoyed the ride!

A Jolly Old Time!

We’ve made it! Day 31 of our month-long online Jack Kir­by trib­ute, in hon­or of his birth­day this month (back on the 28th). The brain­child of Howard Simp­son, you can find the work of par­tic­i­pants on your favorite social media plat­forms via the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

The prompt for this last day reads, “Draw your own orig­i­nal char­ac­ter. The King would want you to cre­ate char­ac­ters you own.” So I present: the Jol­ly Jaunter!

The rea­son I went with him is that he was a char­ac­ter I orig­i­nal­ly came up with back when I was 14 or 15, when I was heav­i­ly into a phase of try­ing to draw like Kir­by. Kind of a sil­ly, satir­i­cal British super­hero. I’m not sure where he came from exact­ly, as at that point, it was­n’t as if I had seen much of jack­’s humor work (like Fight­ing Amer­i­can) yet. Wher­ev­er it came from, the idea struck my fun­ny­bone, and I had to draw it. Buried deep in my files, I still had the drawing!

It was a lit­tle odd, revis­it­ing a draw­ing and a char­ac­ter I had done when I was that young. How often do you do that? Obvi­ous­ly 14/15-year-old me had­n’t both­ered to dig up ref­er­ence for how a Union Jack flag real­ly works, or real­ly thought through how the col­or would work. What can I say? The idea amused me at the time. But there you go!  For what it’s worth, the Jol­ly Jaunter is ™ & © Mark Lewis.

Thanks for look­ing, and for fol­low­ing all my Kir­by Trib­utes this month!

On to Victory!

We’re get­ting close to the end! Day 30 of our month-long online Jack Kir­by Art Trib­ute. Suggested/sponsored by Howard Simp­son, you can find the work online on your favorite social media plat­forms by the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

I’m going off-menu again today. The prompt sug­gests doing a “Kir­by Col­lage,” of the type Jack was known for doing in his spare time, some­times even find­ing ways to use them in his comics. But I could­n’t think of a way to do that and have it fit in the­mat­i­cal­ly with the rest of what I’m doing. So instead, I chose to draw Cap­tain Victory.

This was the title that launched a brand new com­ic com­pa­ny in the ear­ly ’80s, Pacif­ic Comics. As men­tioned yes­ter­day, the fact that Jack Kir­by was doing a com­ic for a new start­up pub­lish­er and not for Mar­vel or DC again, was a Big Deal. It was thought that the “Big Two” were real­ly the only game in town, so it can’t be over­stat­ed that this was big news.

One of the rea­sons Kir­by was will­ing to do this was con­tained right there in the indi­cia in the front of the book: “™ & © Jack Kir­by.” This was­n’t some­thing he was ever like­ly to get from Mar­vel or DC, and I’m sure the var­i­ous frus­tra­tions he’d had with both pub­lish­ers at dif­fer­ent points over the years were also part of his inter­est in going inde­pen­dent again (like he and Joe Simon had tried once before with Mainline).

The sto­ry of Cap­tain Vic­to­ry and his Galac­tic Rangers was inspired at least in part by Jack watch­ing E.T. and think­ing that “first con­tact” was not like­ly to be so benign. In fact, con­sid­er­ing some of the things that hap­pened when explor­ers came from Europe to the “New World,” Jack thought more like­ly it could go hor­ri­bly wrong..for us! And that was the seed of the story.

Front and cen­ter you’ve got Cap­tain Vic­to­ry. Behind him to the left is Major Klavus, and to the right is Tarin.

Hope you like it. One more to go!

Silver Star

This is Day 29 of our month-long Jack Kir­by Trib­ute online. The brain­child of Howard Simp­son, you’ll be able to find the work of par­tic­i­pants on your favorite social media plat­forms by the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

I actu­al­ly post­ed today’s prompt (a Jack Kir­by por­trait) yes­ter­day, in hon­or of Jack­’s birth­day. So today is catch­ing up with yes­ter­day’s prompt: Sil­ver Star.

There are sev­er­al unique things about this char­ac­ter. One is (if I’m not mis­tak­en) the sto­ry start­ed off as a screen­play, and Jack turned it into this lim­it­ed series (The cov­ers have a bul­let read­ing “A Visu­al Nov­el.”). I believe Jack orig­i­nal­ly thought in terms of his Fourth World series at DC as an epic sto­ry that would come to a def­i­nite con­clu­sion, but he was­n’t allowed to do that then. Lim­it­ed series, or minis­eries, just weren’t some­thing comics pub­lish­ers did yet in those days. If a book was a suc­cess, they want­ed it to just keep going and going as long as possible.

The oth­er thing about Sil­ver Star was the fact it was not pub­lished by Mar­vel or DC! Pacif­ic Comics was a start­up pub­lish­er look­ing to estab­lish them­selves as a sol­id alter­na­tive in the mar­ket­place. Though Jack had done work for oth­er pub­lish­ers over the years, at this point in time the “Big Two” were thought to be the only real game in town. So the news that no less a per­son­age than Jack Kir­by him­self was going to cre­ate new comics for a new pub­lish­er was a Big Deal. It can’t be over­stat­ed how big that news was at the time. Pacif­ic kicked things off with Cap­tain Vic­to­ry (stay tuned), but Sil­ver Star was Jack­’s next offer­ing through them.

And this part is impor­tant: the indi­cias for both books read “™ & © Jack Kir­by.” This was some­thing he was­n’t going to get at either Mar­vel or DC, so I’m sure it mat­tered a great deal to him. Jack­’s inspi­ra­tion for the name appears to have come from the Sil­ver Star Medal award­ed by the US mil­i­tary for val­or in com­bat. In fact, in the sto­ry, Jack has Mor­gan Miller gain­ing the nick­name from his squad after he’s been award­ed the Sil­ver Star.

In the back­ground of this image is the antag­o­nist of the sto­ry, Dar­ius Drumm. I’ve nev­er tried to draw these char­ac­ters before, so that was a bit of a chal­lenge. I’m still not quite sure just how Sil­ver Star’s hel­met works…

Hope you enjoy, and please tune in again tomorrow!

The King

It’s the 28th Day of our month-long online Jack Kir­by Trib­ute, suggested/sponsored by Howard Simp­son. You can find the work on your favorite social media plat­forms by the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

Today’s prompt is sup­posed to be Jack­’s Sil­ver Star char­ac­ter, but I’m tak­ing the lib­er­ty of shift­ing things around a lit­tle bit. Instead, I’m doing tomor­row’s prompt: “Jack Kir­by por­trait— Draw a por­trait of Jack Kir­by him­self.” My rea­son­ing is because today is actu­al­ly Jack Kir­by’s birth­day! Born in 1917, this would be his 106th birth­day today (if my math is right). So I feel like post­ing the por­trait today is appro­pri­ate. A con­fes­sion: I’m not real­ly a por­trait kind of artist. It took some work to get this to where I felt com­fort­able with it, but I did get there.

The King’s lega­cy lives on in all the great work he left us, and all the cre­ative inspi­ra­tion he’s pro­vid­ed. There are some artists who make you feel like giv­ing up, break­ing your pen­cils and walk­ing away, because you’ll nev­er be as good as they are. But then there are artists like Kir­by who, although you know you can’t do what he did, there’s some­thing in the work that fires you up and inspires you to go and create!

I hope you like my attempt at por­trai­ture here, and tune in again tomor­row to see my shot at Sil­ver Star.