Comics, Concept Art, Creative Ideas...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Full Batman Art

Okay, this is the image that some of you were savy enough to get your own personalized copy before the due date yesterday. I pulled an all nighter last night to get this done before the Windy City Comic con today.

I'm super f-ing tired... Hopefully I don't fall asleep behind the wheel. Luckily I have a place to stay close to Chicago.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Batman Teaser Image

This image is actually a very small part of a much larger Batman Illustration that I'm putting together that I will be printing as a very limited edition signed and numbered giclee, for the purpose of self promotion at the Windy City Comic Con, this coming weekend. This is the first comic con I'll be checking out, after 25 years of collecting comics, so I'm kind of excited about it, despite the fact that I'm going by myself and will probably be brooding in a corner alone.

The main reason I wanted to do this was to try to catch the attention of the Around Comics Podcast guys, whom I've been enjoying listening to when I work out at the YMCA. It's not the only comics podcast I listen to, but it's one of my favorites. That Tom Katers guy from Wisconsin cracks me up. Anyway, as part of my desperate attempt to grab attention, each one of these prints, besides being numbered, are listed as a personalized proof. So there will be the Tom Katers proof, the Chris Neseman proof, etc, as well as The Dark Towers Proof, for the comic shop that hosts their podcasts. And then there will be other podcasters, stores, and comics professionals that I will gift their own proof to.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mysterio, Master of Illusion

This commission of Mysterio is requested by Chris Johnson, and I want to thank Chris for supporting my art by subscribing to my art blog.

I have to admit, while I love the way Ditko drew the character, no other artist has made the character appeal to me (perhaps Quesada's version in Daredevil). I think it's probably because he hasn't aged well. His visual appearance, to me, is a mix of 50s EC Sci Fi and Horror, which is exactly what I love about the way Ditko draws the character, and exactly what's missing from any other incarnation of the character.

What's more, the character himself is very dated. Mysterio was a movie special affects artist whom used his techniques to create illusions. Well, all that is done with computers now, although if we're honest, most of these tricks were never in the realm of what Mysterio could do, so the change isn't so much that Mysterio isn't as real as he was back then, it's that comics take themselves so seriously that they take this stuff to literally. None of that is a problem for me, as I prefer comics that sort of have a timeless presence to them, without references that set them to a specific date. Even in the 60s, Ditko's Spider-Man did not exist in the literal world of that time, and if you look at things like The Batman Animated series of the 1990s, there was a surreal mix of 1920s and modern elements. That's really the kind of surroundings I'd like to see Spider-Man placed back into.

In drawing this, I wanted to keep Mysterio's body small, so that he didn't look like a muscle man. I paid a lot of attention to the way Ditko used his hands, it was distinctively different than the way Dr. Strange did, less quirky, more bold and commanding. He was also drawn very upright and almost stiff looking. His arms never looked loose. His poses have that very rigid movements, almost like the Nazi soldiers used.

While I do love Ditko's design for Mysterio, he's not on the top of my list to use, and that's probably because I prefer the crime-elements to Ditko's Spider-Man over the the more fantastic elements. While Spider-Man is not Batman, I think, when done right, he inhabits the same sort of environment. Still, the visual affects Ditko used are so cool, that I'll probably play around with drawing Mysterio again. Thanks Chris, for suggesting this, and pushing me to try something I wouldn't have on my own. Often I discover my appreciation for a character when I draw them.

Chris, by the way, hosts the Amazing Spider-Cast, which is a podcast about Spider-Man. If you're interested in checking that out, I believe this link is the site with all the info.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Crime-Master Takes Aim at Spidey, in color

Here's the Spider-Man commission for Rick, finally colored. I've written a bit about the Crime-Master already, he's a character that's almost completely untouched since the 60s, and to which I envision a lot of potential. It's a real danger bringing this up, because you see, what's going to happen, is that someone is going to happen across this blog and suddenly The Crime-Master is going to become the "it" character before I get my chance. Well, I call dibs, you here that Steve Wacker, I have dibs on the Crime-Master. No one except me is talking about him anywhere. So if suddenly, after I start drawing him and telling my vision, he suddenly becomes the big Spider-Man villain, I better get a nod.

This piece is a little dark, but I felt it had to be. I really wanted to make the point that The Crime-Master is more of a blue color villain. I see him as an Irish Mobster, a low man, muscle, whom isn't happy with his place, hence the mask and the schemes. He's cunning, and no principles or loyalty and he'll betray your in a heartbeat. Like I mention somewhere on my forums, in his one storyline (unless you count retcons in Untold Tales of Spider-Man), which I do only for those stories) it's often forgotten that he's the one whom double crosses The Green Goblin, not the other way around. In fact, The Goblin seems very idealistic about his partnerships, and seems diapointed when they go wrong, which is the lost appeal in the early Goblin, that he was the "geek" of the villains who didn't get respect. The Crime-Master is the badass who hangs out at the wall that all the other kids stay away from because he's always kicking someone's ass. So the Goblin and him come together out of mutual convenience. But, the Crime-Master proves to be to uncontrollable for the Goblin, he double crosses him, and becomes a real wildcard.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Super Lois in Color

I've been wanting to color my Super-Lois for quite a while. There's a bit of a challenge to coloring a piece like this, because I have this tendency to sketch to use a lot of lines to create form. I admit it, I like black and white, I like the way ink looks on the page. I like what can be done with black and white and nothing else. But I live in the real world, today. Maybe someday I will have the status where I can do whatever I want and get people to notice me, but today I need to do whatever it takes to get me noticed.

So it's a bit of a challenge to figure out how to get dynamic, dimensional color to interact well with graphic black lines, especially when I had all these rules about how color should never break up the graphic quality of black line art. So this is the piece where I really played around and decided to bend those rules a bit. It really opened me up.

I also cleaned up the art a lot. This drawing is actually a couple of years old and there are some "parts" of the anatomy that I have a bit of a passion for. Anyway, there are particular parts that are very important to me that they look "natural" and it's really important to me that form carries weight. So I cleaned up the drawing a bit as I colored it.

I don't draw like Kurt Schaffenberger, whom I love and whom inspired this piece, but I certainly tried to channel his "Good Girl" magic for this piece. I may not be there yet, but I'm pretty happy with this piece.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Shadow Colorized

It's been a little while since my last post. I've been a bit wrapped up with other things, but there are some things I've been working on that I'll post in the next couple of days, mainly artwork that I've colorized, but I do have some new pieces coming as well.

Here I've added color to my latest "The Shadow" piece. Because ink is my media of choice, I've had some fundamental rules about applying color to my line art. I would probably have avoided color altogether but black and white doesn't shine on monitors as well as color does, and that is, after all, the way to get my work seen. As it turns out, my "rules" don't compliment the work as well as I would have liked so I've started deliberately breaking my rules, playing around with my Photoshop skills (to which I have a wide variety) to see what works and what doesn't work.

The reason for my rules (which I won't go into because I'm sure they're not interesting to anyone) are still on my mind, so even though I am breaking these rules, I am still thinking about the reasons I came up with them. And I think, what will happen, is that both my inks and my colors will move color to complimenting each other. Graphic black is still very important to me, but perhaps there is some give when adding color.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Shadow Knows...

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

George W. Bu..., oh, I mean, um, The Shadow of course!

Finally a commission where I get to draw a face (well, at least part of a face). Not to say that I don't love drawing Spider-Man or any other masked character. I love finding personality in the way I draw the masks. But still, it's nice to show that I can actually draw pretty nice faces once in a while.

I was delighted that Rick Foster commissioned this The Shadow piece. I've written in a previous post how much I love the 1970s The Shadow comic by Denny O'Neil and Mike Kaluta. I also have quite a bit of interest in the classic pulps from 1930s. Part of that interest comes from the interesting continuity of the character. The Shadow's alter ego is presented in most media and even most of the pulps as Lamont Cranston. The Shadow, however, is a master of disguise and he takes on numerous identities, including that of his agents. In the pulps it is established early on that Lamont Cranston is not the true identity of of the Shadow, but is one of his agents whose identity he uses most frequently. His true identity is Kent Allard who was a World War I fighter pilot who waged a war on criminals after the war was over. Interestingly enough, very little of the other media out there uses this true continuity, almost always referring to the Shadow as Lamont Cranston. This of course, leaves a great source of material, that is largely untapped.

The Shadow is such a cool character. I am amazed that he isnt' more popular in the modern era, as the character's appeal is dark, broody, and violent, very much in the trends of today. Perhaps it's the timeline in the past that is harder for some to pick up on. I for one would rather The Shadow remain a character of the 1930s, as there is so much style and fodder for great fiction in that very interesting era.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Amazing Spiderman #39 pg. 1

I've posted this image before but the design wasn't complete until now. The first thing that Spider-Man enthusiasts might notice here is that it reads "The Amazing Spiderman", without a hyphen separating the words "spider" and "man". This was very much intentional, for two reasons.

The most obvious reason is that the use of the hyphen really limits the way you can present the typography. If you take the character Batman, he started out as "The Bat Man", then became "Bat Man", and then finally "Batman". And now, with the latest animation cartoon show, he's "The Batman". Well, for some reason there is more flexibility in a character like Batman. We've seen him dark, we've seen him as a respectable role model, and we've seen him campy. In some versions a man named Joe Chill killed his parents. In other versions his parents killers remain faceless and uncaptured. In some versions his adversary, The Joker has an origin and he even has a name in a few. In others the Joker in an enigma, whom you never know how he became what he was. That flexibility has allowed Batman to remain popular throughout many generations. As popular as Spider-Man is, his precise identity and continuity is held very sacred, which I think makes Spider-Man more difficult to take in different directions.

Which brings us to the underlying reason for the change. As much as I'd love to just ignore the hyphen for aesthetic reasons, I would not dare make the change for that reason. Amazing Spider-Man #39 is one of my favorite comics. In fact, a reprint of the issue that's featured in Marvel Tales is the very comic that hooked me into becoming a collector. In that issue The Green Goblin had unmasked Spider-Man which was unheard of at the time and he revealed himself to be Norman Osborn. It was an amazing two part story that featured the debut of John Romita doing the art. John Romita's art was beautiful. He popularized the look of Spider-Man that my generation grew up with and he drew some gorgeous girls. It was an amazing issue.

But there was something else about about that issue, it's only deficit; it was the first the first issue of Amazing Spider-Man that wasn't produced by both of Spider-Man's original creators. And it is an urban myth that artist Steve Ditko had left Spider-Man because he disagreed with writer Stan Lee on who the Green Goblin should be revealed as (I'm sure that there's more to it than that but Steve Ditko is a very private man who refuses to discuss Spider-Man). Well, it occurs to me that Steve Ditko was more than just the artist. In the 1960s Spider-Man comics were done in "Marvel-Style", where Stan gave his writers a brief description of what was to occur in the comics (and he's admitted that sometimes it was no more than a sentence or two), then the artist would draw the book with only that to go on, with Stan filling in the balloons and captions after that. There's no doubt about Steve Ditko had a huge role in the storytelling process and in the direction and style of the book. And after he had left, there was a definite continuity shift, with Romita's clean, more mainstream style becoming the lasting template. The book has never since had the pulp flavor that Steve Ditko brought to it.

One of the elements that forever changed, was the Green Goblin. While Amazing Spider-Man #39 and #40 together are one of my favorite Spider-Man/Green Goblin stories, the rest of those favorites are Ditko's Green Goblin stories and what made those stories different than any that came later, was that the Green Goblin was a character whom nobody knew who he was. That was the main appeal in the character. The Green Goblin had his own personality, independent of the man under the mask. His face was always shown in shadows. The anticipation and mystery is what made him so cool. But no new story could ever capture that quality before. The Green Goblin became Norman Osborn, and Norman can be portrayed as an interesting character. But he's never been the same impish, devilish, elf-like, mysterious gangster he was before the unmasking. Even retrospective stories told to take place in that time period featured the Green Goblin as Norman Osborn. The Green Goblin of that time period is lost, along with a lot of the qualities of Ditko's stories, underneath layers of continuity and decades of stories that have come since. And many of those stories are brilliant in their own right. But it's a shame that new stories cannot be told in the same vein as the classics. There are generations whom are growing up whose only sense of these stories is the retroactive continuity that has been added since.

So what do you do, if this is the kind of story you want to tell? How do you bring things back to remind people, where things were at when Stan and Steve did the definitive Spider-Man. Well, I know better than to tweak with Marvel Continuity. The Marvel Zombies would never tolerate such a thing, let alone Spider-Man fans in particular. And I don't want to make up my own universe, or "imaginary stories" featuring Spider-Man, because in my opinion, if it doesn't start with Stan and Steve, it isn't Spider-Man. But what if, and granted, this is just a dream project, but every dream has the possibility to become real, I was allowed to tell a story that took place right after Ditko's last issue. What if that story only followed the continuity of those original Ditko stories that came before it. It still wouldn't be Stan and Steve, but it would bring things back to where Stan Steve were at and go a direction not dictated by everything that's been established since. It would be a different take, a different continuity, but if it can be done with Batman, why not with Spider-Man?

So what do you call it. The first title that popped into my head was also the boldest. Calling it Amazing Spider-Man #39, even with another label attached to it, probably isn't going to fly considering that the real Amazing Spider-Man #39 is one of the greatest Spider-Man stories ever told. So names like "Spider-Man Pulp" or "Spider-Man Noir popped into my head, but, because I'm seeing a total retro design to the book and I wanted it to be clear that it's a continuation of Ditko's stories, I kept seeing the first issue as having a pulp style cover with "#39" on it. And at the same time I found myself drawing playing with the typographic logo, sketching out different type styles that I felt would make it look vintage, classic, retaining the same look, but in a totally new way. But that damn hyphen, what a pain in the ass it is to have to work around that. So it occurred to me that to fanboys the hyphen is significant, perhaps significant enough to distinguish a different continuity. Why mess around with titles like "Ultimate" Spider-Man.

So in my perfect hypothetical reality the first issue of my dream project is The Amazing Spiderman #39, with the #39 being marketed. In a slightly less perfect version, the title and numbering could be tweaked, but perhaps the shift in continuity could still justify the loss of the hyphen. It opens things up, without totally breaking the rules.

So that's the long story behind my Spider-Man portfolio I've been working on. Each page of the portfolio features a different character from this story. This serves to purposes for me, it introduces the story and the characters and, because each character in the story is very distinctively different from the rest, it shows my range and my ability to stretch genres. This splash page is designed to capture the feel of 1960s Marvel Comics and Ditko's Spider-Man in particular. I did almost everything in this page by hand. That is in part because of my appreciation for people like Robert Crumb, whom even renders the logos of each new cover of his comics as part of the original art. It's also used because there are some qualities that digital art on it's own had a difficult time achieving on it's own. I certainly took advantage of the digital process in finishing the page, including the fine fonts by Comicraft in the byline, but as little as I felt necessary.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Crime-Master takes aim at Spider-Man!

This is one of the two paid commissions I'm doing for Rick Foster, or as he's known on the internet "Grandpa". Rick has been very supportive and enthusiastic about my art. We have similar tastes in comics (we both love this obscure 1960s Spidey villain, The Crime-Master, and the next piece I'm doing for him is The Shadow!!!).

I really appreciate the opportunity to do make a little money while getting my feel for these characters. Like I said, The Crime-Master is a favorite of mine, but I came to understand the character more through this drawing. I've always seen him as a gangster, but what really came through to me as I drew him, is that he's a blue collar gangster. He's not The Rose, whom is a Spider-Man villain from the 1980s whom also is an underworld character who wears a suit and a mask, but whom is rich, stylish, and powerful. The Crime-Master wears drab colors. For some reason I'm seeing him as old school Irish-American. He's a small time gangster, muscle, with bigger ambitions; hence the mask. I also think he's smart. He's been in the trenches, he's a survivor and there's blood on his hand. He has perspective. If he had been allowed, he could lead the mobs and he's brutal enough to do what it takes to hold power. Unfortunately for him, because of this social class and ethnic background, that's not a role open to him through the mobs. Hence the mask, which allows him to grab for power without becoming a target.

And here are my original pencils, which I thought I'd show so people can see how my art evolves. Sometimes it's not apparent to me what's working and what's not until the piece materializes in ink. I'm disappointed to lose sight of Spidey's right arm, but the perspective just wasn't working on that and I think the piece is stronger without it. These are actually really tough poses to draw. There are still a few decisions I'm not sure I made the right choice on, but there is a time when an artist needs to step away so he can meet his deadlines.

Please show Rick your support by shopping at his comic shop, if you're in his area. I spent some time with him on the phone this week and he's a really nice guy. Rick's store is:

Grandpas Comics
34161 RT.45

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Playing With Markers - The Green Goblin

I did this one a while back. It was just fooling around, coloring with my daughter. This wasn't really meant to be art. Sometimes when I'm loosened up and not "trying to be good" I come up with some fun unexpected stuff in different styles than I normally work in. I can't remember if she requested the Green Goblin or not, even though she's a toddler she knows who the Goblin is.

It's always fun to connect with my daughter.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Spidey Offed By Deadpool In Color

Same as yesterday's but this time in color.

And here's a little vintage-Todd art, the page from Bean that I stole this pose from myself.

Like I said in my last post, I think it worked better in the original, that was ten years old, even if it's rendered tighter in the contemporary version. I suppose this could be considered a spoiler for what happens in BEAN, but this scene doesn't exactly end here, and lets face it, it's not like it's a work of genius anyway.

I have no idea why this Deadpool guy wears a collar. Not exactly a choice I would have made. I would have taken that out but I wasn't sure if there was some significance to it so I left it in.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

2 Character Commission: Spider-Man Gets Iced By Deadpool

Well, it seems like my supporters are just as into Spider-Man as I am because I keep getting requests. This particular gentleman wanted a scene with both Spider-Man and a character called Deadpool. I don't know very much about Deadpool except that he came out the 90s right before the image era, so this was my attempt to try to get to try to discover him through art. I'm still not sure I connected with the character, but I'll let other's decide that.

I borrowed the pose from a page of my 1990s mini comic called BEAN (Now available to download). If you ever wondered where my handle "beanlynch" comes from, that's half of it. I changed the pose a little to try to give it a little more perspective, but I'm actually not sure it works as well as the original, even though the polish is much nicer. There are some foreshortening issues and there's this sort of action lighting that's coming from between the characters, which isn't natural in real life, but it does draw the focus to where the action is coming together, so I'm not sure if that's working for me or not. I'm not sure that it reads that well that Spidey's leaping through the air, but you know, I've used enough Titanium White on this one already and although I'm tempted to do it from scratch, I think an artist has to know when to let it rest. What I learn form this one, goes into the next.

Flaws aside, this is a pretty good representation of what you will get from me when you purchase a two character commission. So keep that in mind. Remember, when you purchase commissions from me or any of the other worthy artists out there, you're not just getting a great piece of art, you're also helping an artist get his career going.

Vintage Mini Comics - BEAN: Interdimensional Mercenary - Now Available For Download

I wasn't going to post this here because I posted under my non-art blog and it's old material from a time period when I drew in a somewhat different style. But I decided that perhaps I'll post some vintage artwork here from time to time when life has me too wrapped up to pump out much artwork.

This is material that I did about ten years ago now (with a few
modern edits). I wasn't sure if I was going to make it available because it doesn't reflect the current quality of my work. It also contains some personal reflection of a person that is longer me. But I've decided that it was always going to own me to some degree if I didn't set it out there.

Even though my art style was crude back then, often sloppy and drawn on cheap printer paper. The stories were very much stream of stream of conscious. I'm not even sure I knew where it was going. But I think even with the lack of structure and polish, my storytelling skills weren't that bad for a novice. It probably come from all that time reading comics.

Be aware, it contains some strong language.
Conservatives be warned, contains some pretty liberal commentary.

So anyway, here it is, available for download.
All contents are ©Todd Merrick Novak (me).

Download Links
(Choose one)


Friday, July 11, 2008

1 Character Commission: Spider-Man

So this is the first of the commission work I'm doing. To try to draw some attention to my art blog I'm doing a free drawing every month, picking one of the people, whom subscribe to my art blog by email (because those are the only subscribers I can track), by random, and doing a free one character (of their choice) commission in pen and ink on 9" x 12" heavy drawing paper. This one is for Reggie, whom really has made my day with his nice compliments. Reggie has his own blog, which is called Reggie Blogged, which is basically a comic fan blog, particularly focusing on Spider-Man. He has totally flattered me with praise in one of his posts, of which I'm definitely not worthy of, but it is much appreciated.

I'm not completely sure how I feel about this piece. I kind of loosened up a little for it, and a part of me really likes it, and another part of me isn't sure it's something that's going to connect with people. Reggie, let me know what you think of the image. If you're not totally satisfied with it I'll do another one. Otherwise this goes out your way on Monday.

If anyone is interested in a commissioned piece from me, you can always sign up on my blog and hope your name gets drawn, or you can email me and we can work something out. For a one piece illustration of this size, in ink, I charge $25. I'll even do nudies for ya if that's your thing. And remember, this sort of thing helps keep me doing art. It's a hard road to try to make it as an artist so when you buy art from artists whose art you appreciate, you're not only getting a great piece of art, you help that artist keep going in his art career.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Spider-Man In Color

I shopped this one around the web a bit, because I wanted to get the color just right. I'm pretty happy with the result, so here it is. My goal was to create an iconic piece of Spider-Man art, and I may not quite be at that level yet, but I think it's an honest attempt.

The original art for this piece is larger than standard original comic art size. I'll be listing it on my ebay store later this week. I'll probably list it at $250, which is more than I think a collector would be willing to pay for an unknown artist's work, but the inks are hyper-detailed and I have enough sentimental attachment to sit on it until I have more of a reputation (at which time maybe I'll sell it for quite a bit more). If there's any immediate interest, let me know.

Also, since I don't own the characters and Marvel doesn't own the artwork, I can't exactly sell posters of the image, but if anyone does want me to print out a display size giclee print for them, let me know and I'm sure we can work something out.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Spectacular Spider-Man Gets Dimension

First off, before anything else I want to mention that the drawing this image was rendered over was not one of mine. It's important to mention because I do not want to be accused of plagarism. This image was rendered over character design sketches for the animated Spectacular Spider-Man animated television series. The reason it's show here is because I brought it to a whole other level with Photoshop, and I wanted to show off some of what I'm capable of rendering with Photoshop.

I've made no secret that my preference is for traditional illustration styles, but when I say preference, that does not speak a distaste for digital imagery. In fact I enjoy playing with it quite a lot and there is quite a bit I am capable of doing with it that goes beyond some of the normal things that I've seen. In this particular case, I was sitting up last night, enjoying some down time, about 8p.m., I looking at some images on the web, and almost without thinking I decided to render one of the images to make it look more "3-Dimensional". The next thing I knew it was 2 in the morning. Sadly, that's kind of what being an artist has done to me. Instead of catching up on my sleep, I get absorbed in little projects, many of which I have no intention of using, and in this case, not even the rights to use, other than for self promotional purposes.

Someone might point out that I'm using a transparency in the armpit webbing and one might think that this violates my declared pet peeve of transparencies overlapping graphic black line, so let me clarify here, there are no solid lines in this illustration. It is my opinion that graphic images should stay graphic, but in an image, such as this. There is no black line. What might appear to be a line around the figure are dark "glows", and soft shadows. In life, images are rarely focused so that a line is graphic like the black outline. I love ink lines. It is my favorite way to render anything and I have super protective about line integrity. But this is not ink and there are no graphic lines shown here.

Anyway, I have to say, I think that this animated Spider-Man series, is brilliant. I love the design. I love the very retro approach to the original source material. There are always things about shows like this that I could identify how I'd do it differently, but this is, for sure, the best animated Spider-Man series I've seen to date.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Shadow

I'm not exactly sure where my appreciation for the character of The Shadow started. I think it probably came from one of the TwoMorrows books, maybe a collected edition of one of the early Comic Book Artist magazines. Whatever the case, it was Denny O'Neil and Mike Kaluta who first hooked me into the character. There's something about Kaluta's art on The Shadow that totally turns me on. He's another one of those artists from the 70s that it seems criminal to have been all but forgotten.

My interest in the character grew even more when I started doing research about the Pulps. I was fascinated that it seemed virtually ignored that the alter ego that The Shadow was normally associated with, Lamont Cranston, wasn't his true identity in the Pulps at all, but another alias that he acquired from one of his agents. His real name was Kent Allard, although you'd never guess it from most of the media out there.

I'd love to be able to work on The Shadow. My way of looking at these characters is always to draw them as the exist, not to redesign them, but to modify my style to best suit the character. The Shadow is a character that I think could look so freakin' badass! He's totally untapped right now and it's a shame because, like Batman, this is a character that has enough universal appeal that he can endure. The fact that he hasn't so well I think is more a sign of a lack of understanding in his potential.

My take on the character here is very much trying to preserve the look and characteristics of the old pulp covers as well as Kaluta's style on those early DC issues. I very much like using solid blacks as a design element, as this is a character that lurks in the shadows. I take a more realisitic approach to The Shadow, than I do with Spider-Man, but I tend to distort the features so as to give it a surreal quality.

I've turned this into a plug for the podcast WordBalloon for a couple of reasons. One is because I'm a big fan of John Siuntres and even though I've emailed him before I'm sure he doesn't know who I am. So I'm hoping that he'll just take notice of me, as well as to draw attention from anyone else out there (unfortunately an artist has to be a pimp and a whore to get attention). The other reason is because I'm such a fan of that podcast I'm hoping that my admirers will check that podcast out.

Also, I'm using Tim Sale's comic font in this (that you might recognize from the show Heroes), so hopefully both Siuntres and Sale will forgive me if they see this. I do neither justice but I am a great admirer of both men's work.

One last thing, I post on the forums for a couple of other podcasts and have friendly relationships with those people. Just so that those people don't think I'm not loyal to them, I have other items in my head for specific shows, and I'll be doing you injustice soon as well...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Old Old School Batman

For a very short time right after Batman debuted back in 1939, he was one badass MFer. He was like a mix between The Shadow and James Bond (James Bond wasn't around back then but you get the reference). This is the Batman I'd want to do (not to say that there aren't other versions of the character I'd like to give a shot at). He looked very different, very menacing, and he actually carried a gun a few times. Within a year or two he became the washed out bland character that he remained until the 1970s (not to say there weren't some high points in there). Every now and then we see someone take a shot at this version but it's never really been played seriously and it's potential has never been realized. If I were to "Ultimatize" Batman, this is the version I'd do.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Super Lois

To me there are three great versions of Superman. There's the 1940s Superman that Siegel and Schuster created and which was brought to beautiful life by the Fleischer cartoons. There's the Silver Age Superman with all the fantastic elements of that age. And there's the Christopher Reeves Superman. A dream project for me would be to get to do a version of Superman that borrowed from all three. Capture the style and tone of the 40s Superman, add the fantastic elements of the Silver Age Superman, and thow in the progressive inspiration of the Chris Reeves Superman.

Yes, a lot of what came out of the Silver Age was hokey as hell. But also cool as hell. And what we've seen from Whatever Happened to the Man From Tomorrow by Alan Moore, and All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, is that it works when you play it straight. It more than works, it produces the best Superman comics of all time. And I think that's the key to producing great comics, do something fantastic, and make no apologies for it. There is a time and a place for deconstruction, but there's also a time and a place to ditch it.

Anyway, I love Kurt Schaffenberger's gorgeous good-girl art on the classic Lois Lane comics. Lois was always getting into the strangest situations that were a lot of fun, and some of my favorites of these are the issues where she gained super powers and became Super Lois. So anyway, in the spirit of those classic comics, this is my version of Super Lois.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Spider-Man - The Crime-Master's Mask Pt. 3: Spider-Man Page

I really stepped up my game for the Spider-Man page. I may not be objective but I think it turned out pretty nice. I kind of like the way the image looked uncropped so I decided to present it that way here.

This page was done entirely in ink. There's lots of stippling, it was a very time consuming page that required a lot of patience and focus on my part, but I wanted to create an iconic Spider-Man page.
That's not to suggest that I came anywhere close, but I think you should always shoot beyond what your currently capable of.

I want to create a pages that don't lean on digital colors. I'm actually pretty good with Photoshop, but then so is every kid half my age, so it's not exactly a rare trait. I also feel that Photoshop is overused, over leaned on, and abused, and I tend to favor more traditional art styles, like the 80s Brit style with lots of blacks, to the manga-pop that I see all over the place these days. And I HATE it when photoshop drowns out inks that have a strong use of black. And I want to challenge myself not to just do pinups, but to pack as much story into a page as I can. At the same time I realize that we live in an age where people expect more than just a layout with a hack job finish in comics. They're used to something detailed that jumps off the page. So I'm really trying to bring something different to the table that can appeal to a mature sensibility but without alienating the mainstream. And every page I do, I'm thinking about storytelling and design.

Ink is my favorite media to work in thus far. It's probably Robert Crumb's Robert Johnson piece that really blew me away with what you can do with solid black lines alone. This stippling technique is new for me. I'm really experimenting as I go here and you can bet that I used quite a bit of Titanium White acrylic (my best friend) on this page. I had Steranko and Ditko in my mind when I started this page. They both have strong designs that don't necessarily mix, so I wasn't trying to ape either one, but they more so inspire me to try to stretch myself beyond what I've done before. Obviously the center figure is a classic Ditko pose redrawn in my own style.

I'm not exactly sure what my next move is. Things are getting pretty tight so I might have to get a "real job" soon. So if you like my work and want to see more from me, I am available for commissions and every little job helps keep me going. If this interests you email me at

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Spider-Man Warm Up Drawings

Almost every morning when I sit down to my art table I've got those creative cobwebs. This can be a bit of a problem when facing a deadline with the expectation of quality work. I was looking at Scottie Young's art blog and I noticed that a number of his pieces were labeled "warm up" drawing. Anyone who is familiar with Scottie Young's work is knows that he's amazing. The pieces I saw don't look like warm up anything, but I really took notice of the idea of shaking those cobwebs off, on something self indulgent, to get those creative juices flowing so that the work will flow.

So anyway, I think people get the idea that I love Spider-Man, especially the original Ditko Spider-Man who was almost like a pulp character at his inception. So these four little headshots are just little fun quick attempts to capture that Ditko look without too much pressure or intention.

Ditko's Peter Parker had this almost effeminate quality. His face was long and thin, Ditko took the time to draw his lashes that were generally ignored for more masculine characters. Peter Parker was always an attractive character, in fact, despite his popularity issues, he never had a problem attacting women. So you have to figure that his popularity issues were probably due to not fitting the typical macho male.

Ditko's Betty Brandt has this sad, almost tragic, sexiness to her. She has a kind of pixie-Jackie-O aura. If I were to pick an actress at any time in their career to play her, I'd pick Winona Ryder in the late 80s.

Ditko's Gwen Stacy is almost forgotten. She was a little more coy and sassy than the version that John Romita coined. When I draw these girls I'm trying to channel the Ditko look but I'm also thinking about Dave Stevens, the creator of the Rocketeer, whom just past away this last month. Stevens drew the most beautiful, most sexy women I've seen in comics and whenever I draw a sexy girl, especially in a period piece, which is how I think of Ditko's Spider-Man, I try to borrow something from Stevens.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spider-Man Underworld

This isn't brand new, I did it last year, but I don't have it displayed here and even though it's in my gallery on my website, I figured it wouldn't hurt to have it here as well. I put this together for a local comic shop that I've been going to since I was a kid. The design is based off of my favorite poster I had as a kid which was done by Ron Frenz. The art for that rare poster is for display on my Non-Art Blog.

Again, I'm going for a Ditko-esque Spider-Man. This character design is slightly different than the one I'm working on with my Crime-Master Portfolio. I chose to use characters that were more crime based. I think I make it pretty clear that my favorite Spider-Man stories are more pulpish and I prefer the Mobsters and Gansters to fantastic supervillains (for Spider-Man at least). And the two time periods that interest me most for the character of Spider-Man are the 60s and the 80s.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Private Sketchbook

With Permission Only...

Last night I was looking through old files of previous versions of my website and I found a private sketchbook webpage that was password protected when it was on my website. I had shared this password with just one other friend but I had never intended this information to be exclusive. Most of the drawing in this sketchbook were done in my teens or early 20s. The material in it is of a mature nature, some of it is a little out there.

I am an artist and I do want to display my work but I have no desire to offend or overtly put things in the face of people who don't want to see it. I also don't want to be liable for material that some people should not be exposed to. There is nothing wrong about free expression through art but I do not want to be careless in anyway that might draw negative attention or impose unintended consequences. I do not want to attract the wrong attention to myself so this is the only place I am letting this information be known and I will not be reposting this again.

I have loaded these files onto my website at an unlinked password protected location. For this information, first, subscribe to this art blog (this sketchbook is not part of this blog but if I'm going to share it, I want it to be with friends of my "art"), and then please email me at the email address shown on my website, with the subject line: Private Sketchbook. In the body of this email please let me know your name and verify that you are of a mature age. If you do not know me, do not give me any private information or contact information that could compromise yourself. State that you are not offended by images of this nature, and that you will not distribute these images, draw unwelcome attention to them, or share the web location or password. Tell me anything else that would suggest why I should share this information with you.

If I have any doubt about the nature of the person contacting me, I simply won't reply. Don't take this personally, but this is, after all, a private sketchbook.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spider-Man - The Crime-Master's Mask Pt. 2: Peter Parker Page

This is the first of the character pages for my Spider-Man portfolio. It's will also probably be the most challenging page for me. When there's lots of action it's easy to make a scene look interesting but when the story slows down it's a challenge to keep the story flowing. There are a lot of nuances here that will probably be unnoticed (more noticeable without them though). This sort of page is never going to be the sort that people remember. It's not the one that will jump off the page at people. But it's very important as a part of the whole and it is very intentionally part of this portfolio to show my ability to stage such a scene.

Obviously the image has not been colored yet. I may get to that eventually but I think it's more important to get the other pages done first. I haven't added the word balloons yet either, and while they're important in the story, hopefully the images give you enough so that you get the gist of it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Return of the Man in The Crime-Master's Mask Pt. 1

The Return of the Man in The Crime-Master's Mask is a portfolio series of 6 or 7 comic pages with the purpose of promoting my work. The work is based on my favorite Spider-Man story by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, The Man in The Crime-Master's Mask, which appeared in Amazing Spider-Man issues #26 and 27. This under appreciated story stands out in the run and it's gitchy-noir element is one that has been seldom tapped into in a Spider-Man comic since and works perfectly with the character.

My goal is to capture the essence of Ditko's Spider-Man but in my own style, more a homage to Ditko than a swipe. I've had something in mind like this for sometime and then at one point I was re-reading one of my favorite superhero comics of all time, Batman The Long Halloween, and it clicked with me that while that story was pure Batman, there was something in there that could be applied to Spider-Man. The Romita Spider-Man is what has endured, bold, bright, very superhero-ish. But the original Spider-Man, Ditko's Spider-Man, was a bit darker. It was filled with gangsters, in fact that's what the Green Goblin was, a gangster. Spider-Man is a character with a lot of tragedy, a lot of sadness. Things don't go right for him. He's a bit like Charlie Brown. He keeps trying but his victory is that he manages to survive. He hasn't won yet.

The storyline is a sequel to the Crime-Master saga of the 60s. The story adheres only to the continuity established by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko together outside of the current Marvel Continuity or the retroactive continuity added by writers and artists since. The concept itself would be a dream project for me, not something I expect to work on anytime soon but something I would aspire to after making a reputation for myself.

This first page, the splash page, was designed almost two years ago and sat unfinished until I recently decided this concept was unique enough to put together as a portfolio. Each of the following pages will focus on a different key-character in the story, including Peter Parker, The Green Goblin, The Crime-Master, Betty Brandt (finally getting her due), J. Jonah Jameson, Frederick Foswell a.k.a. the man called Patch, and finally Spider-man himself. The different character focus will give me a chance to show my range in storytelling.

This page was designed in an over-sized Sketchbook filling the page from corner to corner before being removed to be scanned. It was actually drawn two years ago and I just recently applied color to it when I decided to put this portfolio together. The following pages will be drawn and inked on hot pressed premium quality bristol board. When I present those pages I'll go into the story concept a little bit more.

The original art for this page is for sale in my ebay store.