Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Slacker!

I'm the worst. I admit it. I've got a million excuses for not posting. None of them good. It seems I've had the perfect storm of bad blog conditions at work. Busy all day, leaving on time at night. Normally, that would be great, but it's the exact opposite of the kind of schedule that prompted all those sketches early on in the life of this blog. I've made a game attempt at sketching something at work but as soon as I put pencil to paper, I'm pulled away to, you know, actually earn my paycheck. The horror! The sheer unfairness of it all! Other than that, my free time has been taken up with housework, yard work and helping friends move. And, in the interest of full disclosure, we just got a Wii. I'm pretty good at not spending an unhealthy amount of time on video games but this is something Suzanne and I can do together and we've gotten somewhat addicted. But with two professional (though not paying, of course) drawing jobs to do, I'd better get my priorities straight.

Since I'm desperate and since I understand a lot of Mike's friends and fans peek in here every once in a while, though they don't post, I thought I'd dip back into that box of stuff I found at my parents' house. So, here are some pictures Mike drew when we were kids. I can't be sure but I'd place these pages roughly around Mike's early high school years. Looking at them, I'm amazed at the amount of detail and the sense of composition he had even then. We were always competitive with our art but I can see now I never stood a chance.

THE HERALD


This is the splash page for a book Mike started but never finished called The Herald. He's not pictured here but this was the "Messiah" character he drew and posted on his blog a while back under another name. Around the time this was drawn, Mike still wasn't inking his comics but he'd discovered that if he did full, tight pencils, then added shading with a waxy grey pencil Dad had brought home, it was almost like those nice ink wash illustrations in the Marvel black and white magazines we loved so much. He used this style quite a bit, as you can see some of the following illustrations.

KA-LOR

This was Mike's answer to John Carter, Warlord of Mars. KA-LOR OF SATURN was an Earthman stranded on Saturn who is made the leader of the "good" tribe (in gold armor) who are constantly at war with the "bad" guys, (in blue and red armor.) This was one of my favorites of Mike's creations. Eventually when he and Carlton Hill started doing comics together, Carlton prompted him to re-imagine Ka-Lor as a more barbaric, leather-clad warrior and I hated it. I loved the iconic designs seen here and the colorful drawings he did of the battle scenes between the two groups.

CURSE

I'm taking some liberties posting this one. This is from one of Mike's collaborations with Carlton called "THE MAN CALLED CURSE". Curse was completely Carlton's creation and I have no idea if he's ever planning to use any of the dozens of characters he created. I hope I'm not causing him any trouble putting this out there. I don't remember much about Curse except that I really enjoyed reading the books. Carlton was a passionate writer with a million ideas bouncing around in his head. He's African American and so most (though by no means all) of his characters were Black. This was years before Milestone Comics came about and the universe he created by himself and, later, with Mike, was just as rich with interwoven stories and plots as anything being put out by Marvel or DC at the time. Admittedly, quite a few were derivative but a lot weren't and he always put a new spin on everything. I really miss that time in our lives. Again, I hope he wouldn't have a problem with me sharing this. I only post it because it shows how much detail and love Mike put into all his drawings, even then.

MESSIAH

Mike finally discovered inking. I think this page is based on something published by Marvel at the time but I can't put my finger on it. Probably a CAPTAIN MARVEL or X-MEN book since Mike was heavily into his hero-worship of John Byrne and Jim Starlin at this point. I want to say it was the Warlock MARVEL TEAM-UP issue but I'd have to dig that out and it's too late at night to go scrounging through my collection. Anyway, it still shows a grasp of drama and a pretty darn good inking technique considering he was using Pentel markers and Sharpies. I think we'd both been playing around with whatever pens we could find around the house, including ballpoints, but somehow Mike discovered the Pentels. He'd been using a mechanical pencil with a .05 mm lead to draw with and the Pentels were something he could use to keep that fine line he liked. I, of course, started using the same equipment at my earliest opportunity, to lesser effect. I have very specific memories of Mike and me scouring the school supplies section at the local K-Mart, looking for those things.

Damn, he was good. He was always good.


Mixed in with Mike's stuff in the box were a few of my drawings. This one drawing was a character design for my villain "Crimewave". I don't remember how old I was when I drew this but I remember being really proud of the color scheme and the "C" logo on his chest. I also thought the inking was simply spectacular. I was using a thick felt tip marker I'd found and thought it added a really professional finish to my work. Now, it just looks muddy, like I was drawing with house painter's brush. I was imitating Byrne too (because Mike was, probably) and when I finished it, I rushed into Mike's room to show it off. He said something like, "Hey, that's great! What are you going to use him for?" Which was the worst thing he could ask me because I don't think I had an answer. "I don't know," I said. And as far as I can remember, that's as far as the felonious career of Crimewave went. Typical.

Mom told me they've found another box of our drawings but I don't know when I'll get back to Lynchburg to pick them up. Gulp. Wish me luck on getting a sketch done for next time.

5 comments:

Rich Faber said...

Matt,

Thanks for posting these. At the risk of sounding overly gushy, it just took me back a year or two to Mike's blog posts. In a really good way. Damn, he really *was* ALWAYS good...

As for Crimewave, I think it's a brilliant idea! And I love the logo. Of course, anyone who advertises the word "crime" in his name is just asking for trouble, but then, what else would one expect of a villain! =)

Hey, I'm also going to email you in a day or so with a professional question, so please be on the lookout. Thanks!

Best,
Rich

todd said...

matt!

these are great!
what a great retrospective of mike's early EARLY career! ha!! thanks for postin' 'em! i can see him pulling in everybody's styles--starlin and john byrne, i think i saw a little gil kane, a touch of john buscema around the eyes in one...

but you...?
"never had a chance...?"
man, you really DO have little brother syndrome!
shake it off, bro! you were recently published on the back cover of a top-selling comic magazine!!
: )
woo hoo!

Leaf said...

Indeed, Mike was always good. The 'War On Saturn' page is my fave. Especially like the guy hiding behind the shield in the lower right corner.

And listen to what Todd sez. He speaks the truth.

Heywood Jablomie said...

Geez!

Quit slacking off already man!! Just kidding, this is a fun post. I always loved when Mike would post stuff from his past and then re-imagine them. I like the idea of Crimewave, very fitting for how characters were back then.

Oh I also liked the mullet posts, they were hilarious!!

Brian said...

I'm with you on Crimewave as I think the chest emblem is great.