I hope everybody had a good Christmas. I sure did. To be honest, the whole season leading up to it was exhausting and I felt the Scrooge in me bubbling back to the surface but hanging out with Suze, her awesome family and the cats brought me back around. I had a great time. But four days of overeating, overdrinking (eggnog!) and delivering presents has me ready to get back to my routine.
We got back to town late Saturday and had our own little Christmas, just two (four?) of us. Thanks to Suzanne spoiling me rotten, I got pretty much everything I was hoping for along with some really big surprises like the PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES DVD. (POTZ has a special place in my heart for reasons I’ll go into some other day.) My favorite gift, though, has to be the complete INCREDIBLE HULK TV Series on DVD. I’m really enjoying it and it’s so neat to finally see these episodes in color on our HDTV. When the show was on the air originally, I saw them on a tiny black and white TV set and I never noticed things like Lou’s makeup coming off on people’s clothes or his pink plumber’s crack peeking out when he’d squat down to pick something up. That just adds to the fun, though, and I’m really glad they didn’t go in and fix that stuff digitally. Thanks honey!
My sister-in-law and her husband got me an Amazon gift card which is really coming in handy. I’ve already ordered myself the JACK KIRBY’S DEMON OMNIBUS (along with a book about the SKYWALD HORROR-MOOD.) I was very glad to see DC putting out Kirby’s stuff in hardcover. (Unlike many, I LOVE the “cheap” paper because it makes the books lighter and easier to hold while I’m reading.) It’s been long overdue. I never got the chance to read the stuff when I was a kid because Dad had to pick up his books at the PX on his Army base and sometimes issues would come in and sometimes they wouldn’t. So there were huge gaps in his collection and I just couldn’t get into it. THE DEMON looked interesting but I would get frustrated reading non-consecutive issues and wondering if I’d missed something important and decided to pass. So, when DC announced the FOURTH WORLD OMNIBUS series, Mike and I both got really excited. Mike, because he was a bigger Kirby fan than even me and, me, because I could foresee the opportunity for many Christmas gifts for Mike to come. He was impossible to buy for because I just didn’t know what he had. Or liked. His tastes were more sophisticated than mine. But here was something I knew he wanted and I couldn’t wait to give them to him. Unfortunately, that was not to be.
This year, I would have given him the DEMON OMNIBUS. I don’t remember if he posted it on his blog or told me personally but I remember him being very excited about getting the entire set of THE DEMON’s original print run on eBay. Mike didn’t buy a lot of back issues at that point but this was something he really wanted. (I remember thinking he’d have been a great choice for drawing a Demon revival.) He would have been very happy to have the series in a nice hardcover collection. As will I. I just really wish it had come out sooner.
Anyway, that brings me to this post’s sketch. I didn’t have high hopes for it because I’d never so much as doodled the Demon before and don’t have a feel for him. But I wanted to play around with some dry brush technique using some old nearly empty pens and mess around a bit more with my whiteout pen. It was fun but I think it looks rushed. Because it was. I think Etrigan’s noggin is a little small. But I learned a lot by drawing it so I’m happy. I had fun coloring it and that was what I really wanted to concentrate on. I think I got a little over-ambitious though, with the multiple light sources and things might have gotten confusing. I usually can’t tell about these things until I’ve spent some time away from it. I hope you like it and have a great and happy New Year.
Though I’d had this new banner in mind for some time, I never seemed to have the chance to actually draw it. As it turns out, I had to slap it together really fast. I didn’t care much for the drawing (at first) because I barely penciled it before rushing the inks and I was using a brush pen that had seen much better days. It ran out of ink before I was done and I had to move on to another one. I tried to freehand the straight lines and ended up with some weird wobbly stuff. Let me tell you, it may LOOK like Darwyn Cooke just slings the ink and that it magically falls onto the paper in just the perfect spot but every line he puts down is deliberate. If I can master that, I will be a happy dood.
Strangely, though, once I finished the banner, I was really happy with how it came out. I think it has the exact mood I was going for and I love how the kid came out. I had to laugh though. When I was looking at it afterward, I noticed that, for you to be able to see the moon outside the window, the stairs would have to go into nothingness. Whoops. Oh well, maybe there’s a landing about five steps up and then the staircase turns right. Yeah, that’s it.
Have a great Christmas, or whatever you celebrate this time of year. I’m a non-denominational kind of guy so whatever the reason you spend tons of money on presents for other people is fine with me. I hope you all get lots and lots of goodies. Just make sure you put out plenty of dog biscuits for Santa...just in case!
I got about halfway through this before I realized I'd have to have balls of steel to post a drawing of the Flash on my blog. I had so much fun with the Hulk drawing and post that I decided to do another post about a fondly-remembered TV superhero show. It didn't even occur to me until I was well into it that Mike was so closely associated with DC's FLASH comic that I was inviting a lot of comparisons I'd rather not face. I thought about it long and hard and two facts made my mind up for me. One, the Flash was my favorite DC character long before Mike got the assignment. (Imagine how excited I was when he did...then double it.) Two, this drawing is not of DC's version but of the character in the TV show.
The Flash TV adaptation was announced around the time I graduated from college. Mike was on the five-year plan so he was still in school. I was bunking with some college friends in the same apartment complex Mike was living in. Right across the parking lot, in fact. I'd gotten a terrible job working in the office of a catering company on the VCU campus and spent most nights over at Mike's and his roomie Ron's place. (They were using my TV so if I wanted to watch something I'd have to do it over there.)
It was a miserable time in my life. I'd just been unexpectedly and unceremoniously dumped by my longtime girlfriend who'd then moved into the same apartment complex (maybe to torture me?) I had a job I hated. And I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I'd studied film in college mostly as a way to create an identity separate from Mike (Iong story) and after graduation, I realized I had no talent for it and didn't like the lifestyle. Besides, I had no idea how to get started. So, having next to nothing going for me, having no self-esteem and spending my days dodging an office full of horny women hellbent on grabbing my ass at every opportunity*, THE FLASH came along at just the right time.
I was very excited and Mike and I both looked forward to it with great anticipation. It was hot on the heels of Tim Burton's BATMAN film, which I was obsessed with at the time. Judging by the character design, lighting and theme music (by Danny Elfman), the producers were trying to capitalize on BATMAN's success. CBS made the unwise decision to put the show on opposite FOX's SIMPSONS and NBC's THE COSBY SHOW. I guess they were hoping it would be their tentpole show. Unfortunately, those two ultra-popular shows pretty much crushed THE FLASH right out of the gate and, despite a promising two-hour pilot movie, the show ended up being preempted most of the time and finally cancelled.
I think part of the downfall of the show (besides lousy scheduling) was the fact that the producers decided to go at least partially campy with it. That's too bad because the show really had a lot going for it. John Wesley Shipp was excellent as Barry Allen/The Flash and really looked the part. The guy was built like a tank which makes the Flash costume design so baffling. They added all these weird padded muscles that were completely unnecessary considering Shipp's impressive physique. And it was made of an odd foamy-textured material that looked almost like red felt and had an inconsistent color to it. Still, most of the time Shipp looked pretty cool in the suit anyway. The supporting cast was also excellent. Amanda Pays as Tina McGee and the baby-faced Alex Desert as Barry's lab assistant Julio were a lot of fun. And Mark Hamill turned in a memorable if campy performance as the Trickster. Unfortunately, after a few episodes, it seemed the writers weren't quite sure what to do with the character and the expectations set by the pilot movie started to drop. The show was dropped by CBS with completed episodes still unaired. You can find the complete series on DVD. I got mine the minute it hit the shelves.
Around the time THE FLASH was heading toward cancellation, I quit my job at the catering office and got a job working for VCU and it was there that I met Suzanne. So all was not lost!
I don't know if it was the significance of the character dawning on me or all the memories of what was going on in my life around the time the show was airing or if it was just because I was busy and didn't have a lot of time to focus on the drawing. But I'm really disappointed in how it came out. I liked the Hulk drawing so much, I was hoping I was on a roll but I ended up rushing the inks. I tried to cover up the bad quality by coloring it but that didn't work so I've posted both versions in the interest of full disclosure. I think this drawing also showcases my lack of anatomical knowledge. VCU used to have a weekly life-model drawing session for anyone who was interested, but I've lost my contact there and haven't been in years. I desperately need it. Anyway, that's all for now.
* I'm not kidding or exaggerating. I've never exactly been what you'd call a chick magnet and I was very young at the time so I'll admit the first few days it was very flattering. But after a few weeks, it got downright annoying. I don't believe sexual harassment is the quite the same thing when it's reversed as it was in my case but it's still a problem and I probably should have done something about it. But, as I say, I was young, naive, missing my girlfriend and so, unfortunately, I guess I was grateful for the attention.
Are there any shows on for kids anymore? I don’t watch as much TV as I used to but it seems to me that most, if not all, of primetime television shows are geared toward older teens and adults. I certainly wouldn’t want my kids (if I had any) watching my favorite shows like LOST, PRISON BREAK, HOUSE or THE SARAH CONNER CHRONICLES until they were in, say, high school. Even Saturday morning cartoons are going the way of the VCR and dial telephone. The FOX network has plans to do away with their kids programming block in favor of paid programming (infomercials.)
What the hell happened?
When I was a kid, there was a wealth of programming suitable for my age group that also played well with adults. THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN was probably my favorite. (I remember “running” around the yard in slo-mo, picking up empty cardboard boxes and throwing them, making the obligatory “nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh” sound.) But there was also PLANET OF THE APES, STAR TREK, DUKES OF HAZZARD...and THE INCREDIBLE HULK.
I remember how excited I was when I saw the first promo for the pilot movie. Even then, I knew how difficult it could be for Hollywood to adapt a character like the Hulk as a live-action show. But, judging by the previews, they’d pulled it off. And once I saw the movie (Mom let me stay up late, as she often did when something “special” was on.) I wasn’t disappointed. Obviously, they’d made some changes. I was baffled as to why he didn’t talk and why bullets actually hurt him. But I was mesmerized by the huge green guy with the white irises. Lou Ferrigno instantly became my idol. I wasn’t stupid. I knew there was Hollywood trickery afoot but for that one hour each Friday night (once the series was picked up) I completely bought into the idea that he and Bill Bixby were the same guy and that Ferrigno was actually seven feet tall and green. Ferrigno is about 6’ 5” tall so, with some creative camera work, this wasn’t hard to pull off. And, at the time, we didn’t have a color tv (just a 13” black and white) so I couldn’t really see the seams in the makeup. Or the spots where it would come off on whatever he picked up. Usually, a damsel in distress.
Mike’s friend Carlton wasn’t as appreciative of the character design as I was. He hated the eyes, the large nose they gave him (as did Ferrigno, I’ve heard) and described the wig as looking like something they found dead on the side of the road, dyed green and perched on his head. Looking back, he was right. Over the five seasons the show was airing, the makeup was slowly refined and improved but they never quite got the wig right.
But the show was really very good. The writing was good for it’s time and Bixby took the show seriously, grounding the show with his heartfelt, earnest performance. Obviously, it’s a little dated now. For budgetary reasons, the writers had to follow a strict formula of two “hulk-outs” per episode (at :25-after and :10-till) that never lasted more than a few minutes. The one time I can remember them breaking this formula was in one of the best episodes produced: “Married.” (SPOILERS!!) This featured one of the most heart-breaking scenes in the series in which Banner has to chase his new (and terminally ill) bride through a hurricane and becomes the Hulk from the stress. The creature finally tracks her down and she dies in his arms. When he changes back, she’s gone and he never got to say good bye. It was an incredible (n.p.i.) moment and, if I’m not mistaken, that episode won an emmy.
When I was a kid, I waited impatiently for each hulk-out to see Lou in all his glory, smashing walls and bending pipes. But I’ve been watching a few of the episodes on Hulu.com and now I can see that Bixby really was the star of the show.
Also slightly dated but really, surprisingly good is the music by the late Joe Harnell. Everybody knows the music played over the end credits called “The Lonely Man Theme” (referred to by Stewie Griffin as “the sad, walking away music from THE INCREDIBLE HULK...” but Harnell provided quite a few wonderful cues for the series. Each character, even the annoying but noble reporter Jack McGee had one. Harnell really doesn’t get enough credit for the work he did on the series. Since most of the Hulk’s scenes were shot in slow motion, really slowing the pacing, he used his music to add an element of excitement to the proceedings. I loved how, as Lou would emerge from wherever he’d just “changed”, Harnell’s familiar Hulk theme (bum...bum...BUMMMM...bummmm) announced the creature’s arrival. And, as he was chasing down frightened bad guys and pitching them into stacks of empty cardboard boxes or gingerly picking up Papier-mâché rocks with his fingertips (so as not to smear his makeup), this would be playing.
I could go on and on about how much I loved that show as a kid and how Lou Ferrigno (as the Hulk) inspired me in part to drop all the extra pounds in high school so I could play football and blah blah blah. But this post is getting long and I haven’t even mentioned my sketch at the top. I kind of like how it turned out, though I screwed up on part of the torso. That’s what I get for trying to ink in the dark. (Damn, the sun is going down early, isn’t it?) It reminds me of something but I can’t put my finger on it.
Anyway, if you haven’t checked out HULK show lately, do yourself a favor and head on over to the awesome Hulu site and watch an episode. Try to watch it with the era it was made in mind. Obviously, Lou Ferrigno in makeup can’t compete with a 12-foot tall CG creature but he sure did his best. And it was a heck of a lot of fun watching him do it.
If you’re interested in picking up some of Joe Harnell’s music, check out his memorial website and buy one of his CD’s. This site, incidentally, is where I got the music clips.
Proving, once again, that Dave Stewart is safe, here is the color version of my SUPER HUMAN RESOURCES pinup. I haven't gotten permission from Ken Marcus to post it but I don't think he'll mind. Still, I'm posting it in lo-res, just in case. I tried to stick to the books palette of bright but not overly saturated colors. The crazy thing is it took me quite a bit longer to color this than it did to draw it. I have a real respect for guys like Stewart and Paul Mounts. Coloring is effing hard, man! My light source ended up all over the place.
When I drew this, I only had fuzzy black and white lasers handy so I made some errors in the costumes of the heroes Stalwart and Ironclad. I was able to correct a couple in Photoshop so it wouldn't be too obvious. Also, I had some trouble interpreting some of the designs because Justin Bleep has a really cool, unique style. I couldn't tell if the shape of Ironclad's head was supposed to be angular or if that was just a stylistic interpretation on Justin's part. I took the chance that his helmet was round and went for it. Ken seems to like the pinup so I guess I'm okay.
I was surprised at how fast I drew this. I penciled and inked it in one day, starting at noon and finishing around 11:30 p.m. And that was with frequent stops for meals and hanging out with Suzanne. It doesn't quite have the polish I was hoping for but I think that's because I was under the gun and didn't take the time to thumbnail it. When I'm at ease drawing something, as I was with this for some reason, I can see Mike's influence peeking out. This is particularly evident, to me anyway, in the Stalwart character. I often try very hard not to draw like Mike to avoid comparisons that would frankly hurt my feelings. But after spending years as a kid doing the exact opposite, I can be forgiven. Sometimes I just let go and have fun with it. And it wouldn't be the first time someone told me I'm no 'Ringo.
Again, SUPER HUMAN RESOURCES is in this month's Previews, so be sure to tell your retailer to order you a copy. This pinup appears in the fourth issue so hang in there!
If you haven't already, check out Christian's blog for his mash-up of Man-Thing and The Thing he drew for the art contest at the comic shop where he gets his books. For some reason, this one really makes me smile. Obviously, I'm a fan of Christian's anyway, but I love this pic. C-biscuit's sense of humor is really evident here. Check out the blue peepers.
I can't believe it's been two weeks since my last post. Thanksgiving kind of dominated my time since the last one. We took a week off from work and did some work around the house...cleaning, fixing things, and doing yardwork in anticipation of my parents staying with us. Suzanne performed her usual wizardry in the kitchen and whipped up a great meal. Obviously, Mike was on our minds quite a bit. But I thought I'd get into the spirit of the holiday and focus on something we were thankful for rather than just sit around being depressed.
And this is it:
After Mike died, we had so much to deal with, we were making very emotional decisions without the time to really think about them. One of those decisions had to do with Charlie. Mike loved Charlie so much we couldn't bear the thought of him going to live with anyone but us. Unfortunately, we already had Toonces, a 16-year-old cat who'd never spent more than a day or two around another cat in his entire life. We had no idea how he'd react to another kitty coming to live with us. But Charlie was family and we had to try. So we took him home with us and hoped for the best. We got sooooo lucky. We followed Mark Waid's advice of having Christian bring Charlie into the house so he'd "take the blame". Then the two kind of circled each other for a few days and then worried us when they seemed to be chasing each other around the house and jumping on each other. We thought they were fighting. After a month or two, we realized they were playing. It wasn't long before we were greeted at the door each night with this sight:
Though I don't think they'll ever be BFFs (Charlie's taken too many of Tooncie's favorite perches for that), they certainly do hang around each other a lot and I think they enjoy keeping each other company while we're at work. This pairing could have been a disaster (they're feline versions of Oscar Madison and Felix Unger) but I am soooo thankful it worked out. Here are some more shots of the boyz as we all hung out in the den after gorging ourselves on Suze's cuisine and Mom's scrumptious desserts.
Here's Suzanne checking out the sales papers in preparation for shopping with mom on Friday. Unfortunately, Mom caught a nasty bug at some point and got really sick. She spent Friday in bed and so there was no shopping. Suze was sweet enough to stay at the house with her while Dad and I went to his favorite used bookstore across town. Did I ever mention she's the best wife ever?
And, hopefully my friend Ken Marcus won't mind me posting this. I spent the last day of my time off drawing the pinup I've been promising him for months. It's supposed to appear in issue four of SUPER HUMAN RESOURCES. I'm almost done coloring it but it's not quite ready to post. So here's the uncolored version.
The first issue of the book should be on the stands soon and Ken's been pumping the book all over the place. You can find interviews with him on Comic Book Resources, The Pulse, Newsarama and Ain't It Cool News. It's a fun book so if you've got room for another book on your pull list, I highly recommend it.
Okay, that's it for now. I hope you all had a great holiday.