It has been awhile since I posted anything, so it seemed a good idea to get some new work up here. I just finished working on a quick and really…unusual project. I’m not free to say too much about it yet, but it was definitely something different! There was a bit of a MAD Magazine sensibility to the project, and I was doing, for lack of a better term, what might be considered “prop elements.”
It’s been awhile since I did props, and the last time I did it some years back, the work was still done on paper. For this project, the work came to me in digital form, and stayed that way through the whole process.
Most of the ideas were very quickly roughed in for me in advance, and I fleshed them out and brought them to a finish. But there were also some cases where I generated ideas myself, submitted them and was told, “Go for it!” It’s always good when you have projects where you’re encouraged to improvise and contribute creatively.
What you’re seeing here are a few items I came up with, divorced from the “character elements” they’ll be paired with, I guess we could say. And the color here is all mine, too. I don’t know what the actual items will be colored like in the finished product, but I am curious to find out!
I apologize for having to be so vague about this, but I will explain more when I can. Meantime: I hope you enjoy these odd bits and pieces.
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!
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.
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.
A 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.
I 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.
Sorry 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!
I 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. 🙂
Here’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. 🙂
A 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.