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.
Longtime visitors here might recall I have something of a loose tradition of doing drawings of Frankenstein’s monster on Halloween. So here you go again!
…What? You don’t recognize this guy? That’s because he pre-dates the Universal Studios/Boris Karloff version we’re all more familiar with. In fact, you’re looking at the first film version of Frankenstein ever, from 1910! Released by Thomas Edison and running between 11–16 minutes (depending on how fast the film passed through the projector), you could say it was something of a “Cliffs Notes” version of the story. Like the later Universal version, there were some alterations to Mary Shelley’s original novel for various reasons (such as running time).
For years, this film was thought to be one of the (sadly) many lost films of the silent era. Growing up, I only ever saw a couple of still images from it in library books about old sci fi, horror and fantasy films. But the film was later discovered in a private film collection! Apparently, the Library of Congress did a restoration project of the film not long ago, and you can see it here.
One of the things I was struck by was how different the monster’s creation is in this film. In place of the more pseudo-/quasi-scientific birth of the classic Universal version, we have something that feels more magical/mystical/alchemical in nature. It must have been stunning for audiences 100+ years ago. As a modern viewer, it’s not hard to figure out how they did the effect here, but it’s no less effective for being able to understand it. The whole film has something of a dream-/nightmare-like feel to it.
I started this off just thinking it would be fun to do a creepy portrait of the monster, and definitely got carried away with the rendering, but I was having fun doing it. Obviously the film is in B/W, so my colors are only a guess. But they felt about right to me, and kind of worked with the values in the still shots.
Hope you enjoy my version of Edison’s version of Frankenstein. Happy Halloween!
—said no production person ever in the history of animation.
This is one of those weird ideas that popped into my head, and I felt compelled to get it out of there and onto paper, then finally into digital form. It came to mind just before St. Patrick’s Day, but circumstances prevented my being able to act on it until now.
Most visitors here will know DC Comics’ Silver Age version of Green Lantern. And pretty much everyone knows Lucky, the Leprechaun spokesperson for Lucky Charms cereal. The idea of a mashup of the two characters just struck me as something that needed doing. And now, I finally did it!
It’s not new (done back in 2013, apparently!), but I was recently looking through some old files on my computer that I hadn’t examined in awhile, and it occurred to me that some out there might find this interesting.
This came about because my oldest nephew (Michael) reached out, told me he and his best bud were wanting to do a podcast together about Minecraft, and he asked if I could do some cover art to represent it. My nieces and nephews rarely ask anything of me; what kind of an uncle would I be if I said, “no”?
Michael sent me images of their in-game avatars (his is on the left). I know very little about games, but I thought it would be a fun challenge, and something different to do. So I did some research into different approaches to art done for Minecraft, and figured out a direction to go with it that I thought would be fun. This was the result.
What happened with the podcast? I honestly don’t know. But that’s not the point. The point is that I got to be the cool uncle!
This was an idea I’d had since last year that I wanted to try out, but didn’t quite get around to making it a reality. Too much else was going on. I’ve experimented with this format before, and liked how it was capable of showing several styles in one piece. I guess this ended up as kind of the same format grid as those Art Vs. Artist images, and I could’ve done a new one of those, but I decided I wanted to do this instead.
For those who have a bit of interest in process info like I do, this started off as penciled, inked and lettered on paper, then it was scanned and processed further in Photoshop.
There really isn’t much more to say about it, except that I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays! I hope 2022 is good to all of us.
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.