Perhaps some of you reading this might be familiar with the Covered Blog. If not, it’s a site where artists are challenged to take an existing, published comic book cover and reinterpret it. The results can be interesting, and I thought it might be fun to take a shot at doing one.
I chose to rework the cover of Dell Comics’ Dick Tracy Monthly #13, cover-dated January 1949 (If you’re curious to compare, you can view the original side-by-side with mine over on Covered here). But I didn’t do it in one of my usual styles. Instead, I realized that Chester Gould’s style on Dick Tracy was pretty 2D and graphic to begin with, and that it might be fun to push it just a little further into looking something like a Flash animation style.
I worked on a Flash-animated direct-to-video feature, Hydee and the Hy Tops, and enjoyed it very much. The look of Flash is fun, and I would welcome the opportunity to work on another project in that vein. I have a lot of respect for artists like Craig McCracken and Lauren Faust who do that kind of work very well. So it seemed like this would be a good opportunity to stretch some artistic muscles and try something new.
The BG portion of this cover was done using Photoshop, but the rest of it was done in Adobe Illustrator. If you’ve visited my site before, you know I’ve used Illustrator for a number of different projects. But this project required carrying out the final image in a different way from how I’d done before.
As far as why I chose to reinterpret a Dick Tracy cover in the first place, I think it might be because I’ve been following the regular Dick Tracy strip these last several months, so Tracy was in the back of my mind. The strip’s been rejuvenated by Joe Staton and Mike Curtis, and I’ve been having a blast following it. If you get the chance, give it a look!
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!
Okay, I probably need to explain about this one. To do that, I need to get into a little of the “behind the scenes” workings of WordPress.
A few months back, I decided it would be a good thing to have some kind of a hit counter for my site, running in the background. The beauty of WordPress is that there’s likely a Plugin you can install for just about any purpose. I wanted a Plugin that would give me an idea of how many hits my site was getting, where people were coming from, what they were looking at, etc. It’s been fascinating to watch this info accumulate as time goes by. In some cases, it’s been surprising to see what posts and images get more hits than others. And one thing that’s turned up is that the Care Bears images on my site have been pretty popular.
So, I’m no dummy; it made sense to perhaps generate one more. I revisited a Post-it drawing I did as a goof back when I was working on “Care Bears,” polishing it up in Adobe Illustrator. Some of you will recognize this as a play on Shepard Fairey’s OBEY Giant image, featuring the late wrestler André the Giant done up propaganda poster style. Perhaps it’s a bit of an oblique gag to play off that iconic imagery with a Care Bear, but have you ever had one of those visual ideas that get stuck in your head and won’t go away unless you get them out on paper? You other artists out there know what I’m talking about.
So here you are, for whatever it’s worth. And for those who wonder which Bear this is, I figure it’s probably Grumpy. Because he’s cool like that.
Courtesy of Turner Classic Movies and my DVR (what a great invention!), I had the chance not long ago to check out a couple of old movies I’d never seen before, both dealing with the infamous Rasputin. TCM played both films back to back when they aired. First on the agenda was Rasputin and the Empress from 1932, with Lionel Barrymore playing Rasputin (and doing a good and creepy job of it, too!). They followed that up with Christopher Lee playing the role in the 1966 Hammer Studios film Rasputin: The Mad Monk. Lee, as usual, did a great job. He’s always a lot of fun to watch.
I don’t pretend to be any kind of an expert on the historical Rasputin, so I can’t comment on the accuracy of either of these films. But they were fascinating to watch. And obviously I’m not the only one who finds the character intriguing; looking on IMDB, the first time someone played Rasputin on film was back in 1917, only one year after his death. And he keeps cropping up as a character in films, to this day!
Without trying for a likeness of either Barrymore or Lee (or the real Rasputin), I thought it might be fun to take a shot at a character drawing. I only meant to do one drawing, but then I wasn’t entirely sure about how it was coming out, so I kept going, envisioning different approaches. There’s a whole bunch of experimentation going on here, with styles, tools, coloring etc. Instead of making myself crazy trying to decide which way to go, I thought I’d just go ahead and run them all up the flagpole, let the chips fall where they may. And that’s probably more than enough Rasputin for anybody in one dose!
I was a one-man meme!
I did an interview with the site Animation Insider.com, which they just posted. You can check it out here, if you like. The site has interviews with a number of us who toil in the animation trenches, if you have any curiosity about what that’s like, what different kinds of things we all do, or how we got there. We’re a pretty varied bunch.
And, of course, I gotta post some art to go with this announcement. I had an idea of an image, and thought it might work to do it in Illustrator as an experiment. Guess the “no containment lines” look of the project I teased in my previous post was still in the back of my mind. And that’s all for this one, before I get accused of living up to this illustration!
Bloobee blee blah!