Category Archives: Illustration

Illus­tra­tion work done for var­i­ous clients.

Good Garbage!”

FCA Goodguy CoverFirst things first: yes, this is anoth­er FCA cov­er illus­tra­tion, which will appear in the Jan­u­ary 2014 issue of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego, on stands in Decem­ber. And no: this is not Cap­tain Marvel!

The char­ac­ters here are Goodguy and his neme­sis, Dr. Sin. Pri­or to being asked to do this cov­er, I must con­fess I was unfa­mil­iar with them. They were cre­at­ed by fan artist Alan Jim Han­ley. As a young comics fan, I had no clue that there were that many oth­er peo­ple out there who also loved old comics, let alone that there were fans who did their own comics! So I nev­er came across the exis­tence of this strip back then.

My title for this post comes from Goodguy’s peri­od­ic catch­phrase, his equiv­a­lent of Cap­tain Mar­vel’s and Bil­ly Bat­son’s “Holy Moley!” Though we did­n’t wind up incor­po­rat­ing it into the cov­er direct­ly, my post here seemed a good place to use it.

In doing the cov­er, I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to read a cou­ple of Goodguy sto­ries. Fun stuff! Along with his sense of humor, Han­ley clear­ly had a lot of love for old comics, and old comics char­ac­ters. I would­n’t mind see­ing some more.

Oh; I should men­tion too that the FCA issue I did this cov­er for also reprints a com­plete Goodguy sto­ry, appear­ing in col­or for the very first time. Yours tru­ly did the coloring.

Mary’s Dad

FCA Marc Swayze Tribute CoverNow that it’s a new month, I’ve got clear­ance to reveal the last two of those images I teased you with pre­vi­ous­ly. These will both be appear­ing in the FCA por­tion of the upcom­ing August cov­er-dat­ed issue of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego (avail­able start­ing in July, so you don’t have to wait all that long!).

First up is my FCA cov­er, done as a trib­ute to Gold­en Age artist Marc Swayze. While the orig­i­nal order to give Bil­ly Batson/Captain Mar­vel a sis­ter may have come down from the Faw­cett front office, the job fell to Mr. Swayze to bring her to life. He designed Mary and drew at least her first cou­ple of appear­ances, before being moved on to oth­er jobs. So I think it could be argued that Marc Swayze deserves the title of Mary Mar­vel’s hon­orary father.

This FCA issue is appear­ing in the month which would’ve been Mr. Swayze’s 100th birth­day. Though he did­n’t quite make that mile­stone, it’s still a worth­while moment to pause and give trib­ute. FCA read­ers know Mr. Swayze had a long-run­ning col­umn there, enti­tled “We Did­n’t Know…It Was the Gold­en Age!” Writ­ten in a very appeal­ing­ly gra­cious and hum­ble style, the read­er got the priv­i­lege of look­ing in on snap­shots of rem­i­nis­cence tak­en at dif­fer­ent moments in Mr. Swayze’s life. It was­n’t all about the comics; this man lived a very full and rich life. Hence my inscrip­tion. He and his con­tri­bu­tions to FCA will be missed.

I was huge­ly hon­ored to be asked to do this trib­ute cov­er, and want­ed to be sure to do right by Mr. Swayze. FCA Edi­tor P.C. Hamer­linck and I bat­ted a num­ber of ideas back and forth before we set­tled on a con­cept we both liked and felt was fit­ting. My first incli­na­tion of course was to try to just flat-out mim­ic Mr. Swayze’s style, make it look like maybe he drew it him­self. But P.C. made it clear that was­n’t what he want­ed. He was after my ver­sion of Mr. Swayze’s Mary. I hope I’ve done them both justice.

Binder Column HeaderThe sec­ond image (at left) is a head­er for a new reg­u­lar col­umn debut­ing in FCA the same month. You can see the title there in the art. This col­umn will fea­ture the writ­ing and rem­i­nis­cences of writer Otto Binder, a cre­ative dynamo who had an enor­mous hand in shap­ing not only Cap­tain Mar­vel and the Mar­vel Fam­i­ly for Faw­cett, but he lat­er made huge con­tri­bu­tions to Super­man’s mythol­o­gy as well! And that’s real­ly just the tip of the ice­berg. I’m look­ing for­ward to read­ing these columns and find­ing out what he has to say.

Of Mad Scientists and Big Red Cheeses

FCA Colón/RubinsteinLooks like I missed post­ing last month, due to still being pret­ty busy. Again, that’s a good thing! How­ev­er, now that it’s a new month, I’ve got clear­ance to reveal in full one of the three items I teased back in Feb­ru­ary. This is a cov­er for anoth­er issue of FCA, appear­ing in the upcom­ing July issue of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego mag­a­zine (actu­al­ly on stands in June, so you don’t have to wait that long!).

Right up front, I need to make it clear that I did not pen­cil or ink this cov­er. It was drawn by Ernie Colón, and inked by Joe Rubin­stein. If you’re famil­iar with those gen­tle­men and their work, that may sound like an unusu­al pair­ing to you at first. I know it did to me, but I’m told that they are col­lab­o­rat­ing quite a bit in recent times. (And if you’re not famil­iar with them, let your fin­gers get to googling!)

So why did I post this on my site if I did­n’t draw it? It’s because I col­ored it. FCA Edi­tor P.C. Hamer­linck con­tact­ed me to ask if I’d be will­ing to, and I said “yes.” Some­thing about the way this was put togeth­er remind­ed me a bit of those clas­sic old illus­trat­ed mag­a­zine cov­ers (for exam­ple, The Sat­ur­day Evening Post). So I tried to give the col­ors on this a lit­tle more of a painter­ly feel than I’ve attempt­ed before, though that might not be entire­ly vis­i­ble at this res­o­lu­tion. I hope Mr. Colón and Mr. Rubin­stein feel I did jus­tice to their work.

Again with the Teasing!

FCA Teaser 3BDue to “busy-ness” here late­ly (a good thing), I’m falling back on the ol’ reli­able tease once again.

The images you’re see­ing here are details from a few illus­tra­tions that have crossed my desk this month which I had a hand in gen­er­at­ing, in one capac­i­ty or anoth­er. These were all done for the FCA sec­tion of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego mag­a­zine, pub­lished by Twom­or­rows. Full images will appear on my site even­tu­al­ly, once I’ve been giv­en the “all clear” to do so. Mean­time, hope­ful­ly there’s enough here to whet your appetite to see more at a lat­er date.

FCA Teaser 3AI hope the New Year is being good to you all thus far.

FCA Teaser 3C

Clutch Escargot!

Clutch Escargot CoverIt’s a new year, and I’ve got some­thing new to post. Well, tech­ni­cal­ly it’s not real­ly new, but it will be new to you readers.

Meet Clutch Escar­got and his team, all set for hi-octane adven­ture! Com­ing to you straight from the fevered mind of my friend, the love­ly and tal­ent­ed Jim Sten­strum. If you are a long­time comics fan, you may know Jim best as a writer (he wrote a lot of mem­o­rable clas­sic com­ic sto­ries pub­lished by War­ren). But Jim has also had a sec­ond career in ani­ma­tion, where he is known as quite a tal­ent­ed artist and char­ac­ter design­er. Which makes him a dou­ble threat. And we won’t even get into the years in-between those two careers, where he devel­oped quite a rep­u­ta­tion as a two-fist­ed globe-trot­ting mer­ce­nary. No, real­ly; it’s best we don’t talk about that.

The art you see here was pen­ciled by Jim. He asked me to do the hon­ors of ink­ing and col­or­ing it, so that’s what my con­tri­bu­tion was. I’ve worked with Jim many, many times over the years on var­i­ous ani­ma­tion projects, and it’s no exag­ger­a­tion to say I’ve most like­ly inked a thou­sand of his char­ac­ter designs. It’s always a blast. So say­ing “yes” when he invit­ed me to help him out with this was a no-brain­er. I think the end result is fun. I’d buy this comic.

That’s kind of my ver­sion of what this is and how it came to be. But make sure you don’t miss out on read­ing Jim’s ver­sion over here.

Let’s make sure to do the offi­cial stuff too: Clutch Escar­got is ™ and © 2011 Jim Stenstrum.

Hap­py New Year, y’all! Here’s to a great 2013.

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!

The Original Black Cat

This time out, for no spe­cial rea­son, here is the orig­i­nal Black Cat. I’ve kind of had a soft spot for Har­vey Comics’ ver­sion of the Black Cat from the gold­en age for a while now.

If you’re not famil­iar with the char­ac­ter, behind the Black Cat’s mask in the comics was actress Lin­da Turn­er. She’d start­ed out her career orig­i­nal­ly as a stunt­woman, but had suc­cess­ful­ly tran­si­tioned into becom­ing a lead actress. The var­i­ous skills she’d picked up dur­ing her stunt­woman career enabled her to fight crimes and solve mys­ter­ies incog­ni­to as the Black Cat. The ’40s Hol­ly­wood milieu gave her sto­ries a lit­tle dif­fer­ent feel from oth­er, more typ­i­cal­ly NYC-fla­vored super­hero comics.

Sev­er­al artists drew her sto­ries, but the artist most asso­ci­at­ed with the char­ac­ter would have to be Lee Elias. Elias was clear­ly a Can­iff dis­ci­ple, and he did that style very well. He gave his hero­ine (and the strip in gen­er­al) a real charm and appeal.

Obvi­ous­ly I did­n’t both­er try­ing to mim­ic Elias’ work here. For some rea­son, I envi­sioned this from the begin­ning as using a vec­tor-based Adobe Illus­tra­tor approach. Yet anoth­er exper­i­ment. The beau­ty of this being my site, I can exper­i­ment with all kinds of approaches.

If you’re curi­ous to see some Black Cat comics for your­self, I’m not sure where you could buy them now (with­out pay­ing the usu­al prices for gold­en age comics). I picked up a set of reprints some years back now via Bud Plant (and thanks once again to my bud­dy Eric Wight for alert­ing me to those back then!). Unfor­tu­nate­ly though, I don’t think those are in stock any­more. But, the good news is, you can view just about every issue of Black Cat online, cour­tesy of The Dig­i­tal Com­ic Muse­um (What a great resource!).

And that’s a wrap for this one!

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.

The 50th

This is not exact­ly some­thing brand new, but done a few years back for the invites to my Mom and Dad’s 50th Anniver­sary cel­e­bra­tion. I thought maybe a few more peo­ple than just those who saw it back then might enjoy it.

I don’t nor­mal­ly do a lot of car­i­ca­ture. So I fig­ured as long as I was going to attempt it, I might take my cues from one of the best: Al Hirschfeld. It was def­i­nite­ly a chal­lenge to work this way, but I was hap­py with the result. Oh; don’t strain your eyes look­ing for “Ninas,” because there aren’t any!

Not much more to say about this right now, except; Mom, Dad, I love you very much.