Saturday, April 9, 2011

Black Lightning

My last post kind of "sparked" this one. I'd mentioned that I wasn't really that into Metamorpho growing up but that's not entirely true. I'd forgotten about the Element Man's membership in The Outsiders. Back then, I'd found Dad's stash of THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, DC's version of MARVEL TEAM-UP featuring Batman and an ever-changing roster of superheroic guest stars. I fell in love with the book and started buying up back issues by the handful at The Treasure Chest, Lynchburg's comic shop at the time. I also started buying the current issues as they came out. Almost immediately, the book was cancelled in favor of a new title to be called BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS. Batman was going to start a new team of misfits and mentor them. I was horrified. My favorite part of TBATB was seeing Jim Aparo drawing all those great DC characters. Now the roster was going to be fixed and full of a bunch of new characters I didn't care about. I knew about Metamorpho, of course.

But there was one character I was interested in. Black Lightning. Despite falling under the comic book curse of being an African American character with the word "black" in his name, I was drawn to the guy. It probably had something to do with his cool costume. Most of DC's B- and C-list characters had forgettable outfits. But Lightning had one that was on a par with some of John Romita's best designs. It also had the benefit of the brilliant addition of fake hair to hide Lightning's true identity. Unfortunately, if I remember correctly, Lightning didn't quite fit in with the rest of the team as they were portrayed as a bunch of misfit losers. I didn't see Lightning that way. As I recall, he was a teacher in his civilian identity that was trying to improve conditions in his inner city neighborhood.

I was hoping the sketch above would turn out cooler and had intended it to sort of work as a companion drawing to the Metamorpho piece but it didn't turn out like I'd planned. I'm a little embarrassed to post it but I don't really have anything else. I'm particularly humbled because I just finished reading Dave Stevens' final interview in the latest issue of BACK ISSUE! Stevens was a real artist's artist. It was never about money or prestige with him. He was always just interested in producing good work and improving himself. I think Stevens' ROCKETEER has some of the most beautiful art I've ever seen in a comic but he revealed he was so dissatisfied with his work that he went out and took dozens of courses in drawing and painting to try and improve his drawing. Reading the interview was so inspirational. I'm in my forties now but I want to run out and enroll in drawing classes.

Anyway, that's all I've got for now. I apologize for the disjointed post. It's very late and I'm pretty tired. I've got a full day tomorrow but Heywood, I promise that includes finshing up lightboxing the pinup I promised you. Then I'll just have to ink it.



Josh said...

That Black Lightning drawing looks great to me. I don't know why you'd be embarrassed.

Josh said...

I don't know why you are embarrassed.

Gordon said...

The Treasure Chest, wow now that brings back memories.

I read the book and the drawing looks remarkably the same

Heywood Jablomie said...

Don't know jack about this guy but I still like the job you did on him. I think with some color work this piece could be poppin!

And no rush or pressure man!!

todd said...

it's crazy to me how artists can be so down on their work while the rest of us drool over it.
that black lightning is great, matt!
i love it!
and, yeah, one of my favorite things about his costume was his fake fro!! too cool!

Warren said...

Awesome Black Lightning! I can't wait to see your art in a sequential piece. I think you're freaking awesome!

PJ said...

I’m liking the drawing too, you have nothing at all to be embarrassed about.

I just wish you would post more of this stuff in your comic art fans gallery as well.

Matt Wieringo said...

@PJ: Done.