Sunday, February 8, 2009


I’ve been practically living at my desk the last few weeks, enduring long nights and weekends and, while it’s extremely frustrating in that it keeps me from doing the things I’d rather be doing, it’s also very reassuring. Because, in a field that’s bleeding jobs like a hemophiliac, it’s very nice to be needed. At least that’s what I keep telling myself every time I hear the phrase “So, you around this weekend?” Every day, I hear news about another big company in Richmond closing its doors or laying off large numbers of people. Circuit City is probably the most high-profile example. It's getting really scary. Not only that, but I have several friends going through much more difficult situations than having to work too much. So enough whining.

I've been buying most of the magazines put out by Two Morrows. In fact, I spend more on magazines about comics than on comics themselves. Of all the great mags they put out, BACK ISSUE! is my favorite. It sort of took the place of COMIC BOOK ARTIST when that book went to (I believe) Top Shelf and went from a semi-monthly to semi-never schedule. Imagine my delight when I opened the latest issue of BACK ISSUE! to find a retrospective on one of my favorite characters of all time, second only to Nova, Rom: Spaceknight. I excitedly read the article and was thoroughly...disappointed. Sadly, the article was filled with some uncharacteristic proofreading problems (not that big a deal) and some glaring omissions (The writer heaped much love on the covers of Bill Sienkiewicz and Frank Miller but never once mentioned the sublime contributions of the great Michael Golden.) At one point, there was a mention of the debut of inkers Ian Akin and Brian Garvey (something I was very interested in) only to have the article skip (like a needle on a record) mid-paragraph to another subject entirely. All this could be forgiven except for the annoying tendency of some of the interviewees to pile onto ROM writer Bill Mantlo. Mantlo was one of my favorites growing up and since his accident years back (which prevents him from giving his side in interviews) it seems every time his name comes up in magazines or online, people find one way or another find something derogatory to say about him. In this article, Jim Shooter in particular seems to trip all over himself trying to claim credit for any and every aspect of the ROM book that made it a success. Even his compliments were backhanded. Perhaps it's a drawback to reading so much about the creation of the comics I loved as a kid but I really don't like to see someone whose work I loved being denigrated. I think I'm just going to stick my head in the sand on this one. Bill Mantlo's and Sal Buscema's names were in the credit box and that's enough for me. Those guys put out a great book that was ten times better than it had any right to be and I'm grateful.

This post's drawing was done in ten-minute spurts over about five days. I draw in my downtime at work and that has been in very short supply lately. In good times, nobody cares if you sketch while you wait for a render or for something to be proofread. In times like these, doodling away your potential billable time is not a good idea, career-wise. As much as I love Rom, his armor has always been hard to figure out. I have nothing but admiration for Sal Buscema and Michael Golden who could take such a rigid-looking character and make him look so graceful and interesting. Respect.

I'll try not to go so long between posts next time, just for my own sanity. (This drawing was really hard to complete because I've allowed myself to get rusty.) Unfortunately, I can't promise anything.



Tim Perkins said...

Hi Matt,

Like you, I was a big fan of Rom: Spaceknight. You are right to say it was one of those characters that would normally get the run-of-the-mill look given to it, as it was essentially a Toy based licensed comic.

I also agree Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema did a sterling job and when the comic was inked by Akin and Garvey, it took on a whole new dimension.

Kudos to all I say!!!

I would also like to compliment you on a brilliant rendition of Rom.

Hope all is well.

Best Wishes,

Chris Gardner said...

Awesome! The quicker/rougher inks give this thing LOADS of character. Most times with art, fretting over the details just stiffens things up anyway. I love it sir, very nice!

Christian D. Leaf said...

Handsome, boyo. Handsome.

Warren said...

Your Rom looks great.

Bill Mantlo's Micronauts was one of the best series of its day. I can't imagine anyone questioning Mantlo's skills as a comic book writer. There should be more like him today.

Keep on drawing!

Heywood Jablomie said...

matt great job man! i think it came out really nice.

i never read rom, but i do get your love of the character.

Brian said...

I know it can be a grind, but glad to hear there is a lot of work where you work.

Days like these, nice to have a paycheck coming in and some reason to believe that will continue into the future.

jpetruzzi said...

Dear:Matt,you don't know me,but I was at vcu with your brother.We were in the same classes in the fashion track.I had tried to reach you around when he had passed but I'm sure things were nuts.
I know how you feel about getting your book out.Since school I've dabbled in the art sector but I am back working in health care.
If you even have to just think of Mike. He was such a great guy, we all adored him so much. I haven't been able to get in touch with all my classmates just a few here and there. i can tell you when he was there you could tell he was a very special person.I never quite understood why some girl didn't snap him up,I guess he was to shy or was chained to his art table.Which you can definitely tell from his body of work.
DO YOUR BOOK!!!!!!!!! He would want you to you owe to yourself to continue on.Mike would be proud of you.some day I will get my kids books out, I believe I will be heading back to art store very soon.I am so sorry for your loss, I have an older sister who is proably my best friend.
I was only sorry when I had found Mike's website I wasn't able to get to reconnect with him.
Keep going!!!!!!!!!!Jen Petruzzi(Broadbridge)