Comics, Concept Art, Creative Ideas...

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.