Friday, May 23, 2008

Ah ha!

It figures. As soon as I stopped looking for my long-lost character sketch and started looking for something else...there it was. It was tucked away in a pile of papers I must have flipped through ten times. But I never saw it until I stopped trying. I'm really glad I found it, too, because the sketch I started a week ago got put aside so I could work on some really detailed illustrations for work. (I can't share them, unfortunately.) I just barely finished them on time and haven't had any time to work on anything else. And since I'll be out of town on an much, much-needed vacation next week, I thought I'd share with you this, sadly, unfinished drawing. This is my bad guy from the story I am...or was...writing back in August and haven't had time to work on much. I guess it's fairly obvious what the nature of his, um, condition is. But I don't want to give too much away as I fully intend to publish this one. For various reasons, I've never pursued any of my story ideas to any degree of completion. But I think this one may actually be marketable. As soon as my life uncomplicates itself a little, I'll get back to work on it.

I think I'm finally getting a grip on what I want him to look like and how I'll be drawing the book. I had started with a super-cartoony, loose style because of my Darwyn Cooke obsession but this is (to my chagrin) the way I actually draw and fighting against it was only frustrating me.


As I said, we're going on vacation starting tomorrow. I can't tell you how much we need this. It's been about a year since I took any time off that wasn't spent doing something I'd rather not have been doing. I'm exhausted both physically and emotionally.

My back is hurting worse than it has been in some time. A constant, nagging ache that just won't go away. And the pain in my hip that started as an occasional twinge about two years ago has also become chronic and my chiropractor tells me it's arthritis. I foresee a hip replacement in my not-too-distant future.

Mike is still on my mind every waking minute. I've finally reached the point where thinking about the good times makes me smile instead of cry but I miss him so much it hurts. A part of me still hasn't accepted that he's gone and sometimes when I think of him there's that instant of "I can't wait to tell Mike...oh, yeah..." And it hurts every single time.

Sorry to be such a downer. I'm just making the point that Suzanne and I are both excited to be going on vacation. We'll be going down to see Suzanne's parents on Harker's Island and staying in the cottage on the water across the street. I don't mind telling you I'll be sipping quite a bit of rum and coke and whatever else I can get my hands on. I'm not usually a big drinker because I tend to get sick when I drink too much. But this yearly vacation is when I usually cut myself some slack. I'm also taking a foot-tall stack of books to read and a pile of DVDs to watch and I plan on drawing until my fingers fall off. Drawing has finally become fun for me after nearly 40 years and I plan to take advantage of it. Whenever I draw for someone else, they always hand me something they saw and tell me they want me to "draw like this guy." I gotta tell you, that gets tiring. I never get to draw like me. That's why I like having this blog so much. I can do whatever I want. So I'll be storing up some blog sketches while I'm on vacation and I'll share them with you when I get back.


Finally, with all the traveling and picnicking and general goofing-off that goes on on Memorial Day, it's easy to forget why we get the day off from work in the first place. This Monday, wherever you happen to be and however you may feel about the conflicts we find ourselves in right now, please take a minute to remember the men and women who have given their lives to protect us and our way of life. It's something I try not to take for granted. But I often do. We all do. So, on this one day at least, spare a minute to think about these fine folks and what they gave up for us.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Go, Speed Racer, Go!

Suzanne and I just caught SPEED RACER with our buddy Paul. I honestly have no idea why the critics are being so hard on it. That's the most fun I've had watching a movie in the theater in a long time. It ain't Shakespeare, but it's not trying to be. It's just trying to be a good time and that it was. The little boy and the chimp are laugh-out-load hilarious and steal the movie. And Matthew Fox makes a great, cool Racer X, despite his inexplicably bad reviews.

The critics have pretty much killed the box office for this movie, the #$%*ers, so if you want to see it in the theater, you'd better do it soon. I guarantee you'll like it.

If you don't like SPEED RACER, you don't like fun.

And you should suck it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I was feeling so disgusted with myself about losing the sketch (which was of one the characters from the story I was writing when I had the time for that sort of thing) that I forced myself to crank this sketch out on my lunchbreak a day or two ago. I was recently reading an issue of Rough Stuff magazine and they showed some great artwork by Nick Cardy and Tony DeZuniga. Those guys drew really loose but no line was ever out of place. It got me thinking about all those amazing artists from the Philippines like Alfredo Alcala and Rudy Nebres that I loved so much as a kid. (And still do.) They did all this great rendering and, damn, could they lay the ink to paper!

I wanted to see if I could do some freehand rendering in ink. So I whipped up a very loose pencil sketch and then just went to it with the Pitt brush pen. I tried not to worry too much about where the brush fell and just went with it. Almost a stream-of-consciousness thing but with drawing instead of writing. I really like the way it turned out. In the future, I'll pay a little more attention to what I'm doing but this was just an experiment. This is what I wish I drew like all the time. Well, close to it. I love the carefree feel it has but some of the rendering is a little too carefree if you know what I mean. Anyone who's known me for a while knows I idolize Darwyn Cooke and his deceptively simple illustration style. Particularly his Kirby riffing in DC's NEW FRONTIER. That's what I shoot for when I ink my own stuff. Unfortunately, my pencilling style is too tight for that. I end up drawing like what John Byrne calls the "cut glass brigade." That's why I didn't erase the pencil lines before I scanned this piece. I wanted Craig to see that I could loosen up a bit. :)

I chose Tiger-Man for this because I've been thinking a lot about the old Atlas comics that came out in the 70's. Most of the books only lasted 3 issues or so and no two issues were alike. Rather than give a book time to find an audience, each book's direction would change almost issue to issue. Characters would get new costumes or even new names. Mike and I each had our own favorites. I was absolutely in love with THE DESTRUCTOR and Howard Nostrand's TARGITT, particularly when they changed him into a costumed vigilante. (Of course.) Something about Nostrand's bold, cartoony art spoke to me. Being a life-long horror fanatic, I was also quite taken with PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES. In fact, when I found out in college that Mario Bava's movie was NOT an adaptation of the comic, I was sorely disappointed. Mike preferred Ernie Colon's elegant artwork in the more consistent GRIM GHOST and the science-fictiony MORLOCK 2001. But we both got into TIGER-MAN. The idea of were-beast as superhero really grabbed us. (I guess it's why I like Robert Kirkman's WOLF-MAN so much.) And Ernie Colon's art was as great as ever. Steve Ditko even did an issue, I believe. I wanted to see what I could do with inking hair and so Tiger-Man seemed my best candidate with his long locks. I made him a little more bestial than he appeared in the books but I think a Tiger-Man should look like a tiger, man. Anyway, I hope you like it.


This is my week for double posts. Jim McLauchlin (I misspelled him name last time.) sent out an email to everybody involved with the HERO INITIATIVE tribute to Mike and shared the cover with us. This was originally intended to be the splash page of the WHAT IF? book Mike was working on when he died but I guess they figured it would make a nifty cover. Karl Kesel inked it and Paul Mounts did his usual stunning coloring job. He never fails to amaze me. It breaks my heart that Mike never finished this because he was doing such a beautiful job on the book. But the fine folks they got to finish it in his honor have done a bang up job. I've been fortunate enough to be included in the emails when the pages were making the rounds and, rest assured, Mike's friends have done him proud.

The finished book, including some additional tribute illustrations and prose by the people who knew and loved Mike (including one incredible piece by Richard Case that, I guarantee you, will make you smile and cry at the same time) will debut at the Heroes Convention in Charlotte, NC June 20th through June 22nd. The rest of you will be able to buy it at your LCS on June 25th. Make sure your shop owner's order it. Jim tells me sales have exceeded expectations but all the proceeds from the sale of this book are going to a great cause so lets exceed those expectations even more.

Okay, that's it. As Suzanne would say, "Peace, out!"

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Gene Colan

Believe it or not, I had a sketch almost ready to post. And then lost it. I have no idea where it went.

Reminds me of the time my Critical Thinking assignment fell out of my notebook on my way to my review with my professor. “ was right here.” “Sure it was.” The guy was a total jerk and hated my guts for some reason. Though I excelled in every other class, this professor had singled me out and made me feel like “that guy”. You know the one. He never has his homework done and always has some excuse. He does that agonizing long search through his book bag for the assignment while everybody in the class watches uncomfortably and everybody knows it’s not in there because he didn’t actually do it.

I begged the professor to let me go back to my car and get the assignment. He said, “Our meeting was at 11:45. You were not prepared. Why should I give you a chance to go to your car and finish the assignment before coming back?”

Because it took 3 hours to do that assignment! Give me five minutes to go back to my car. If I don’t come back with it in five minutes, you can flunk me!”

“I should flunk you anyway. But...D-minus.” The assignment was sitting on the floorboard of my car, waiting for me, when I got back in.

I barely scraped out a C in that class by the end of the semester. And I had a teacher, Mrs. Martin, in middle school, that had similar issues with me. For some reason, she decided on day one that I was going to be her punching bag and she went out of her way to embarrass me in front of the class any chance she got. I would get so worked up I couldn’t function. Which just gave her more ammunition. In every other class, though, I was fine. Ah...memories.


Anyway, since I don’t have a sketch, I thought it would be a good time to point out to everyone that hasn’t heard that Gene Colan is in poor health. I don’t think there’s anyone who reads comics who hasn’t heard of Colan’s work. I would have thought that this news would be burning up the internet but I’ve barely seen a ripple. I had the great honor of meeting Mr. Colan at the Heroes Convention a couple years ago. Not only is he one of the greatest talents in the industry, he’s modest, accommodating and an all-around nice guy. Erik Larsen, prompted by Mike’s passing, wrote a great editorial railing on fans who don’t show their appreciation for someone’s work until they’re gone. He mentioned it seemed that the TELLOS hardcover had somewhat disappointing sales until Mike’s death caused them to sell out. I have no idea if that’s truly the case but we have here an opportunity to let Mr. Colan know just how much we appreciate his work while he is still very much with us. We should take advantage of that.

Clifford Meth has released an email from Gene’s wife requesting his fans send him get-well cards and tell him what his work means to us. I’ve already sent mine. The address can be found on Meth’s blog here:

Yesterday, I emailed him and asked if he would accept donations to help cover the growing costs of Mr. Colan’s healthcare. He politely declined but did say that there is an artwork auction in the works and that any money made from the sale of Meth’s books at would be going directly to the Colans. He didn’t say it but I took it to mean the Colans are proud people and don’t want charity. So I’ll respect their wishes and I’ll be heading over to Meth’s site to do some shopping and I’ll be keeping an eye out for that auction.

If you’re a professional comic book artist, please contact Clifford. I understand there’s also a benefit book being assembled and they’re asking for contributions.

Finally, I asked Jim McLaughlin at the HERO INITIATIVE if they had heard about Mr. Colan’s situation. He said they were contacting the Colans at that very time. This is exactly why the HERO INITIATIVE (formerly ACTOR) was founded. To help these folks when they’re down. So, here’s where you can donate some money and be sure it will help:

And remember, the HERO INITIATIVE isn’t charity. The guys and gals that made the comics we loved as kids have earned this. No doubt.