Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More Mike

I had originally set this evening aside to play the new STARCRAFT II game that came out today. Unfortunately (or not, I suppose) I discovered, once I took it upstairs to my office, that my computer doesn't meet the minimum system requirements. Looks like I'll be paying a little visit to the Apple Store this weekend for a much-needed software update. I'm not really disappointed, though. I have other things that I should be doing and, remembering how many hours I've wasted playing the original STARCRAFT over the last 10 years or so, I'm probably better off.

I've got my design for the PROJECT ROOFTOP Captain America contest almost nailed down. I don't really think it's a winner but I like it. So I'll be drawing that up in the next couple of days. I'm also moving right along on the fourth chapter of HAND ME DOWN HORROR. And with Todd's announcement that PERHAPANAUTS is going to be back on the schedule, I've got to finish my last three pages of Christian's and my backup story. I'm a little ashamed that I let it sit this long, hiatus or not. An obligation is an obligation.

Anyway, that's all for now. Once I realized I wasn't going to be locking horns with the Protoss and Zerg tonight, I remembered I needed to post the remainder of Mike's "secret stash" of TELLOS sketches that Suzanne and I found in the garage. Looking these over, it still amazes me what a gifted cartoonist he was. As much as I loved that he was in comics, I think he may have missed his calling as an animator or even director of animated films. I know he would have loved it and I think he would have been one of the greats. And I wish to hell he was here to post them himself.

Here they are, folks. Enjoy.


Monday, July 19, 2010


Not much to talk about this go ‘round. Which I’m sure will please those of you sick of hearing, “I’m so busy! Wah!”

Suze and I did, in fact, make time to go see PREDATORS in the theater the other night which was a nice treat. The movie itself was a pretty darned good entry in the franchise. The best one since the first, actually. I was curious to see how they’d handle the “game preserve” angle. The trailer reminded me so much of HUNTERS OF THE RED MOON I wanted to see how similar the movie turned out to be. After seeing it, I have to think the filmmakers were at least aware of the book because of the samurai's katana found by one of the characters and his observations about it. Right out of the book. Adrian Brody turns in a convincing performance as the main badass and it was nice to see Laurence Fishburne back on the big screen in an unexpected role. An all-around good time. I did have two complaints, though. First, there were a few too many homages to the original. It got to be a little distracting. And, second, Alan Silvestri’s score from the original film was practically used note for note but he wasn’t credited at all. At least not that I saw and I was looking. Still, I recommend it but see it soon. It’s not doing well and will probably get yanked in the glut of big summer blockbusters. Suze and I are hoping to see INCEPTION soon, before somebody ruins it for us.

Above is the sketch I’ve been promising. Deadman has long been one of my favorite characters. I’ve always loved the second and third-tier characters at both Marvel and DC and ol’ Boston Brand is no exception. He’s always been unique in that his special ability pretty much means very little “screentime” for him in his own stories. Since he takes over the bodies of the living, it means we don’t get to see him all that much. I guess that’s why he’s never been able to sustain a series for very long. But he’s had some great stories done with him. I’ve always loved Neal Adam’s work on the character but, up until recently, my favorite artist on him was Jose Luis Garcia Lopez. He really gave the character the slick look he deserves. But I did say “recently”. Dave Bullock’s take on the character in the WEDNESDAY COMICS experiment was a beauty to behold. Obviously, the style he used is very reminiscent of Darwyn Cooke, but he does bring a lot to the table. And he has a wonderful sense of design. I drooled over every one of those twelve pages.

With this drawing, I tried to get fancy with the shadows but I’m just not that good at it. It’s an area I hope to improve in before I start drawing THE HAND ME DOWN HORROR as lighting and mood will play a big part in the story. But I did like how using only the brush pen gave it a bolder look. This one was fun. I just wish I’d had the time to lay it out a little more dramatically.

Anyway, I hope you like it. Look for more of Mike’s action figure designs coming up.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

"New" Mike Stuff

I should be writing. I finished issue three of THE HAND ME DOWN HORROR last week and am two pages into issue four. But that's kind of cheating because those two pages are actually a scene I wrote for issue three but had to cut for space reasons. But I'm officially past the half-way point and that's pretty gratifying. It's also significant because I've written some of the toughest stuff in the book. The stuff I had the most difficulty figuring out. Nearly all the major players are introduced and all the dominoes are set up. Now I get to start knocking them over. While the dialogue most definitely needs what Hollywood calls a "polish", I'm pretty happy with the way things are going. And Johnny is finally starting to become proactive. Get some, Johnny!

You know, whenever I talk/post about writing this thing, I hear Stewie Griffin's voice in my head: "Got a, got a, got a nice little, nice little story you're working on there...your big novel you’ve been working on for three years. Huh? Got a, got a compelling protagonist, huh? Got an obstacle for him to overcome, huh? Little story brewing there... ?"

I have to laugh. Because that running gag on FAMILY GUY hits pretty close to home. But I'm not taking this whole thing too seriously, despite my reaction to BOOM!'s new Dracula series coming out. (I was pretty freaked out, to be honest.) While I plan on finishing it and would love for it to see print, I'm approaching it as more of a fun diversion than something my future depends on.

I've actually gotten the chance to do a little sketching as well but nothing I'm too happy with. I've gotten a little rusty and I'm on my third attempt at the same character. I'll probably finish it up tomorrow and post it for the weekend. I'm using the brush pen exclusively to see if I can get a bolder look. Wish me luck. I'm also thinking about throwing my hat in the ring on Dean Trippe's PROJECT ROOFTOP Captain America costume contest. Christian told me about it and I've been mulling it over. Not sure I've got the design chops for that though.

But this post is called "New Mike Stuff" and since most folks who are nice enough to stop by here from time to time were Mike's fans, I'd better not keep them waiting any longer. The other day, Suzanne and I were braving the heat to do some overdue yard work and I stumbled across a box that's been hiding in plain sight in the garage for the last three years. It had a bunch of random items in it but, under some Xerox's of some Frank Cho drawings Mike had, were several pages of sketches Mike had done that I don't think he ever posted. It seemed evident (and I have since confirmed it with Todd) that these drawings were done in preparation for the TELLOS line of action figures that were in development but sadly never released. There were about 8 in all and I'll post them all eventually but posting photos on this thing is a pain in the rear. So I'm going to ration them out over several posts.

These are two of the TELLOS figure pics. Looks like Mike had Chuck Wojtkiewicz helping him out on that model sheet for Jarek. He did some really nice inkwash on that.

And this one I had no idea about. When I sent it to Todd, he told me that he had a pretty good idea what that was for but since it involves some ideas of his and Mike's that never saw print, I'll leave it up to Todd whether or not he wants to come out with it.

I have to say that finding these drawings (and the ones I've yet to post) was a real treat for me. I had thought that I'd seen all of Mike's drawings at this point. Todd had already seen these before but they were new to me. It really put a smile on my face. I hope you like them (Of course you do!) and will make sure to post the rest of them for you to enjoy when I get the chance.

I do want to point out that Suzanne and I really haven't been careless with Mike's artwork. We keep all his work safely in a dry, climate-controlled environment. I promise we haven't just been storing it out in the garage!

Okay, back to work!


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Back from the Beach

Still no sketches.

I'm noticing I tend to produce more sketches when I'm busy than when I'm not. I think that's because drawing (for me, anyway) is a fairly thought-free process. Beyond figuring out what I'm going to draw, light sources, and so forth. If I'm working in bursts with little breaks between the action, I can spend 10 minutes drawing, then drop it, then come back later. I have to be in the mood, of course, but I always seem to want to draw when I'm not supposed to be doing it. It's a weird tick I've always had.

Writing, on the other hand, I have to really be in the mood for. Fortunately for me (and not so fortunately for my so-called sketchblog) is that I'm really in the mood lately. I've been making real progress on the story and may, hopefully, be moving on to part four by the weekend.

Suze and I just got back from a great Fourth of July weekend spent with her parents on Harker's Island. Suzanne's sister and her family had the cottage so we just stayed in her parent's spare bedroom. That suited me fine. It's a six hour drive down and then six hours back so scrubbing down the cottage on Monday would have just eaten into our time with them. It was tough because we're only two weeks into our diets but we hung in there and stuck with the grilled stuff and boiled shrimp. I did indulge in my father-in-law's martinis (a drink I usually find disgusting but his are somehow just amazing) but still ended up losing weight so that was good.

On the drive down, I was going over the next few scenes in my story in my head and I realized I'd painted myself into a corner. I know the ending of my story. It's already planned out and everything I'm writing is leading up to it. But I'd added little details here and there in the first three chapters that accidentally made an important aspect of the ending, well, impossible. Or, at least, implausible. Not the end of the world but troublesome. I had worked myself into a fair lather by the time we arrived but I scheduled a walk for the next morning, by myself, for some thinking time. I left my iPhone behind so I wouldn't distract myself with music and, sure enough, before I'd gone 200 yards, I had my solution. I actually laughed and raised my arms over my head in the "touchdown!" sign. This is the part of writing I enjoy the most. The problem solving. Watching things click into place. Like a puzzle, the more pieces you solve, the easier the rest of them are. Being so close to the story though, you can only hope that the fact that things are clicking so well doesn't mean that your story is predictable. I'll just have to wait and see, I guess.

Christian sent me down with the six trades of SCALPED by Jason Aaron to read. I'd read the first one a year or two ago and really liked it, including the amazing, moody art by R. M. Guerra. It's a terrific series and I blazed through the first four trades while we were there. Couldn't put it down. It was very inspiring. I loved the multi-layered story and epic feel of Aaron's storytelling. But it was very intimidating. Aaron has a very deft hand when it comes to dialogue, characterization and plot, knowing just what to reveal and when. I feel like I'm poking around in the dark, knocking things over and hoping they don't break. His story shifts back and forth through time but you never get lost. My story is set mostly in the present with occasional forays into the 1980's and way back to the 15th and 16th centuries. I'm juggling as best I can and just hoping I don't drop a ball on my head.

Anyway, I want to get back to the writing and time is running out before I have to hit the sack. So if anyone's reading this, goodnight and I hope you had a great Fourth of July. And, if you're anywhere near Richmond, stay cool! It was so hot today Suzanne forbade me from taking my lunchtime walk. I had to go to the gym where the dreaded Sweathog (Have I mentioned him?) had left his foul oozings on every machine in the damned place. Heatstroke would almost be preferable.