Tag Archives: retro

To Boldly Go where No Tastebuds Have Gone Before!

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!

Oh, the Pain…”

PainI 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. 🙂

Now That’s Just Darling!

Darling Romance #1 ReworkedHey, every­body! It’s anoth­er com­ic cov­er recreation/reinterpretation. This time, it’s the cov­er of issue #1 of Archie Comics’ Dar­ling Romance. You can see the orig­i­nal cov­er here.

I’ve per­son­al­ly nev­er been all that big a col­lec­tor of romance comics, though the best of them have had some real­ly great artists. An inter­est­ing bit of his­to­ry: the guys who pio­neered the genre? None oth­er than Joe Simon and Jack Kir­by! Those who are only famil­iar with the more two-fist­ed, action-packed side of their work might be sur­prised to hear this, but it’s true. They launched the first romance com­ic, Young Romance, in 1947. And in the wake of its sales suc­cess, many oth­er pub­lish­ers fol­lowed suit with their own romance titles.

Simon and Kir­by’s work in this genre is unsur­pris­ing­ly ener­getic and live­ly. Many of the sto­ries go places one would­n’t typ­i­cal­ly expect a romance com­ic sto­ry to go. If you get the chance to see some of these sto­ries for your­self, it’s worth the time. I’m told it can be hard to track down the orig­i­nal comics, but thank­ful­ly, there are reprints avail­able in books like Young Romance: the Best of Simon & Kir­by’s Romance Comics, and it looks as though there might be oth­er sources on the way too.

Maybe I should talk a lit­tle bit about this Dar­ling Romance cov­er. I know noth­ing at all about this com­ic, but the cov­er image spoke to me. I thought it would be fun to take the orig­i­nal pho­to cov­er and do a draw­ing instead, push the mod­el’s looks even more in the direc­tion of Bet­tie Page. Also, I felt like giv­ing the whole thing a pulpi­er, hard­er-edged look. Just for fun. 🙂

She’s a Wow!

Wow Comics 12 ReworkedHere’s a recreation/reinterpretation of the cov­er of Wow Comics #12, fea­tur­ing Mary Mar­vel. You can com­pare it with the orig­i­nal here.

Mary debuted in Cap­tain Mar­vel Adven­tures #18, where Bil­ly Bat­son dis­cov­ered to his sur­prise that he had a twin sis­ter, from whom he’d been sep­a­rat­ed at birth. It turned out that the mag­ic word that turned Bil­ly into Cap­tain Mar­vel also worked to turn Mary Batson/Bromfield into the super­pow­ered Mary Marvel.

Mary’s “visu­al father” was artist Marc Swayze. I was hon­ored to be asked to do an FCA cov­er fea­tur­ing Mary, as a trib­ute to Marc Swayze for what would’ve been his 100th birth­day. It was post­ed here a while back.

Reg­u­lar vis­i­tors to this site have heard me say before that when doing these recre­ations, I like to have some kind of fresh take or approach, so that I’m not just repeat­ing exact­ly what was done before. So imag­ine this, if you can: some alter­nate world, where Faw­cett did­n’t cease pub­lish­ing comics. Instead, they kept on pro­duc­ing new four-col­or adven­tures for Cap­tain Mar­vel and the Mar­vel Fam­i­ly. Maybe at some point in the late ’50s or ear­ly ’60s, Faw­cett licensed Mary to an ani­ma­tion stu­dio for a series, and Wow Comics was relaunched in sup­port. It was kind of what was play­ing in the back of my mind when I did this, at any rate.

I can almost hear the announc­er’s voice: “Boys and Girls! It’s time now for the adven­tures of Mary Mar­vel! The Shaz­am girl!

…Suddenly a White Rabbit…”

Marvel Team-Up #131 ReworkedYou’re see­ing a rein­ter­pre­ta­tion here of the cov­er to Mar­vel Team-Up #131. I must con­fess that I know absolute­ly noth­ing about the White Rab­bit, or how much of a con­nec­tion she has to the char­ac­ter that appeared in the Lewis Car­roll book Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land. I don’t have a clue about Frog-Man either. I’ve nev­er read this comic.

So why did I do this cov­er? Sim­ple: when I saw the orig­i­nal, I thought there was some­thing fun here that could be rein­ter­pret­ed. If you look around my site, you’ll see that I do things like this on occa­sion. I even got to do it once for the late, lament­ed Cov­ered Blog before they called it a day. Though they’re no longer doing cov­er rein­ter­pre­ta­tions there, I think the idea is still worth pur­su­ing from time to time here.

While more or less straight recre­ations can be fun too, tak­ing an orig­i­nal cov­er and try­ing to find a fresh angle or spin to put on it can be even more fun. In this case, I thought ren­der­ing it in a dif­fer­ent style to make the humor­ous intent of the sto­ry more obvi­ous would be a fun thing to do. And it seemed appro­pri­ate to use the Mar­vel Pop Art Pro­duc­tions cor­ner box with it.

For once, that’s pret­ty much all there is to say for this one!

It’s the Fourth of July!

It’s Inde­pen­dence Day today in the U.S. of A.! That usu­al­ly means time off, doing fun things like pic­nics or bar­be­cues with friends, pos­si­bly tak­ing in a fire­works show (depend­ing on where you live), and maybe hope­ful­ly even giv­ing a thought to some of the free­doms we’re priv­i­leged to enjoy in this coun­try, which we can some­times take for granted.

This post is most­ly moti­vat­ed by the fact that real­iz­ing the hol­i­day was com­ing up, I had an image pop into my mind appro­pri­ate for the day, so I thought I’d go for it! As not­ed there, the char­ac­ter is Miss Fire­crack­er from Big Bang Comics, though she’s depict­ed here in a dif­fer­ent style from how she ever appeared in Big Bang.

This is a good oppor­tu­ni­ty to talk about Big Bang Comics a lit­tle bit. Some peo­ple read­ing this may know that I was a con­trib­u­tor to Big Bang through its most active years. Though I can’t claim to have been there from the absolute very begin­ning, I did get in pret­ty ear­ly on. The char­ac­ter I had the most involve­ment in shap­ing would’ve been the Badge. But thanks to Big Bang hon­chos Gary Carl­son and Chris Eck­er, I got the chance to get my hands into a whole lot more than that.

Not only did I get to draw a num­ber of oth­er Big Bang char­ac­ters (par­tic­u­lar­ly on fake com­ic cov­ers as seen in “The Big Bang His­to­ry of Comics” issues of Big Bang Comics), I got to design sev­er­al oth­er char­ac­ters, cre­ate logos, even kib­itz on some sto­ry­lines, ink and col­or. The way I looked at Big Bang, it was sort of  “comics his­to­ry through a fun­house mir­ror.” You got to cre­ate things that felt famil­iar, yet new at the same time. It was a real­ly fun ride, guys! Thanks much!

I’ve got anoth­er post already in the pipeline that I hope to be able to pull the trig­ger on soon, but that’s it for this one. Have a great 4th, everyone!

Doc (“Don’t Call Me ‘Doctor!‘”) Strange

Now that it’s fin­ished, I can show you one of the two items I teased back in Decem­ber. It’s a pin-up of the old Nedor Comics hero Doc Strange, as he might have appeared on the cov­er of an issue of Thrilling Comics in 1965, had Nedor still been pub­lish­ing at that point.

If you’re not famil­iar with the com­pa­ny, Nedor pub­lished (under sev­er­al names) dur­ing the gold­en age. They actu­al­ly had a fair­ly siz­able group of heroes, includ­ing Doc Strange. Nedor ceased pub­lish­ing comics at the end of the gold­en age. Since then, many peo­ple have tak­en a shot at doing some­thing with their old char­ac­ters. AC Comics has made use of them over the years, and so did Alan Moore and Peter Hogan more recent­ly in the Tom Strong spin­off minis­eries, Ter­ra Obscura.

Doc was a scientist/adventurer who invent­ed a serum he named Alo­sun, dis­tilled from “sun atoms.” This serum gave him super­hu­man strength, flight and invul­ner­a­bil­i­ty when he used it.

Enough of the his­to­ry les­son. So why did I do this pin-up/­cov­er? Easy; because I was asked. The one and only Will Meugniot is cur­rent­ly doing a new cre­ator-owned series (in the back of AC Comics’ Fem­Force) that picks up the threads of the Nedor books with the descen­dants of some of the char­ac­ters. It’s called “Agents of N.E.D.O.R.,” and is intend­ed as a peri­od piece tak­ing place in 1965. Will invit­ed sev­er­al artists to con­tribute pin-ups of the orig­i­nal Nedor char­ac­ters, and I was very flat­tered to be asked if I’d like to do so too.

As is typ­i­cal for me, instead of mak­ing things sim­ple on myself, I had to make a whole cov­er out of it. Since Will’s sto­ry takes place in 1965, I thought this should be a cov­er for Thrilling Comics (which starred Doc) also from ’65, as if Nedor had kept on pub­lish­ing all that time. I even did some math to work out the issue num­ber. How’s that for obsessive?

Doc Strange most often went on his adven­tures accom­pa­nied by his young side­kick Mike (who wore an iden­ti­cal out­fit, only with the addi­tion of a green cape for some rea­son). I thought it would be more fun though to show Doc with his girl­friend, Vir­ginia Thomp­son, as she would also some­times take part in his adven­tures. Of course, I updat­ed her look here for the times.

This will appear in b/w line art form in Fem­Force #159, since the book has b/w inte­ri­ors. But for my blog here, I want­ed to go full col­or. Because it’s how I saw this in my head from the start. I get asked to do a b/w pin-up and I envi­sion some­thing in col­or; go figure!

Thanks, Will. This was a lot of fun!

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.

She’s a Sensation!

Though DC’s big reboot has already been sprung on us, I had one more image in that poster style that I had to try. Might as well com­plete the tri­fec­ta, right?

So this time out, it’s Won­der Woman. If you’ve read my pre­vi­ous posts on these gold­en age char­ac­ters, I real­ized I kind of uncon­scious­ly set up a pro­gres­sion; I men­tioned that I liked Super­man, but lat­er con­fessed I liked Bat­man a lit­tle more. So you might be expect­ing me this time out to say I liked Won­der Woman the best. But you’d be wrong.

Sor­ry to say, I real­ly was­n’t all that into Won­der Woman as a kid. I appre­ci­ate the strip much more now as an adult than I did back then, for its his­toric sig­nif­i­cance as well as some of the aspects that are unique to it (the fan­ta­sy ele­ments, the mytho­log­i­cal, etc.). Per­haps the gold­en age art (by H.G. Peter) looked a lit­tle heavy-hand­ed and crude to me in some ways as a kid. Look­ing at it now, I have more of an appre­ci­a­tion for it (It feels at times like a sort of car­toon ver­sion of an Albrecht Dür­er engraving).

Won­der Woman is an inter­est­ing con­cept that seems to be a tough one for writ­ers and artists to get a han­dle on. And even if they man­age, it seems hard to get a han­dle on it such that it will engage peo­ple and get them to buy the book (Which is prob­a­bly the more impor­tant point). Many approach­es have been tried with vary­ing degrees of suc­cess, and some don’t get tried at all. But Marston and Peter must’ve had a han­dle on some­thing when they cre­at­ed her. She’s sur­vived this long and man­aged to become part of our col­lec­tive pop cul­ture men­tal land­scape, rec­og­niz­able even to non-comics read­ers. I think that’s worth a lit­tle salute here.

A con­fes­sion: this poster is a loose homage (which I acknowl­edged in how I signed it) to an orig­i­nal poster by Lud­wig Hohlwein. In study­ing his work online, I stum­bled across one poster that just seemed a nat­ur­al to adapt for a Won­der Woman image. It all but cried out for it. So that is what I did!

I Shall Become a BAT!”

The clock is count­ing down to DC Comics’ big reboot, and it’s still got me think­ing back on the orig­i­nals. I thought I should get at least one more post in here, before it hap­pens. Super­man was look­ing a lit­tle lonely.

Like I said in my pre­vi­ous post, I’ve always had an attrac­tion to the ear­ly gold­en age ver­sions of some of these char­ac­ters, despite the occa­sion­al rugged­ness in exe­cu­tion. There was a pri­mal kind of ener­gy there that per­haps got lost a lit­tle bit along the way, as the artists and writ­ers got bet­ter at their craft, and began to for­mu­late the rules for how you were sup­posed to do this sort of thing.

Last time, I copped to hav­ing an affec­tion for the gold­en age Super­man. But if pushed, I’d have to admit that I prob­a­bly liked the gold­en age Bat­man just a lit­tle bit more. Those ear­ly strips just dripped with mood: dark shad­ows, misty nights with almost always an enor­mous full moon, and plen­ty of strange char­ac­ters for the Bat­man to go up against. When I first began to encounter this stuff in those DC 100-Page Super-Spec­tac­u­lars as a kid, I had no prob­lem at all under­stand­ing why kids encoun­ter­ing these sto­ries for the first time on news­stands back in the gold­en age were attract­ed to it. This stuff cap­tured your imagination.

In the same vein as the Super­man poster, here’s one fea­tur­ing Bat­man in that ear­ly 20th Cen­tu­ry Poster Style. This time out, I did my ver­sion of a clas­sic pose that Kane used a num­ber of times in those ear­ly issues. A very big “Thank You” to Bill Fin­ger, Bob Kane, Jer­ry Robin­son, George Rous­sos, and all the rest of Kane’s “ghosts” over the years who made Bat­man what he was!