Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I'm the worst. I admit it. I've got a million excuses for not posting. None of them good. It seems I've had the perfect storm of bad blog conditions at work. Busy all day, leaving on time at night. Normally, that would be great, but it's the exact opposite of the kind of schedule that prompted all those sketches early on in the life of this blog. I've made a game attempt at sketching something at work but as soon as I put pencil to paper, I'm pulled away to, you know, actually earn my paycheck. The horror! The sheer unfairness of it all! Other than that, my free time has been taken up with housework, yard work and helping friends move. And, in the interest of full disclosure, we just got a Wii. I'm pretty good at not spending an unhealthy amount of time on video games but this is something Suzanne and I can do together and we've gotten somewhat addicted. But with two professional (though not paying, of course) drawing jobs to do, I'd better get my priorities straight.

Since I'm desperate and since I understand a lot of Mike's friends and fans peek in here every once in a while, though they don't post, I thought I'd dip back into that box of stuff I found at my parents' house. So, here are some pictures Mike drew when we were kids. I can't be sure but I'd place these pages roughly around Mike's early high school years. Looking at them, I'm amazed at the amount of detail and the sense of composition he had even then. We were always competitive with our art but I can see now I never stood a chance.


This is the splash page for a book Mike started but never finished called The Herald. He's not pictured here but this was the "Messiah" character he drew and posted on his blog a while back under another name. Around the time this was drawn, Mike still wasn't inking his comics but he'd discovered that if he did full, tight pencils, then added shading with a waxy grey pencil Dad had brought home, it was almost like those nice ink wash illustrations in the Marvel black and white magazines we loved so much. He used this style quite a bit, as you can see some of the following illustrations.


This was Mike's answer to John Carter, Warlord of Mars. KA-LOR OF SATURN was an Earthman stranded on Saturn who is made the leader of the "good" tribe (in gold armor) who are constantly at war with the "bad" guys, (in blue and red armor.) This was one of my favorites of Mike's creations. Eventually when he and Carlton Hill started doing comics together, Carlton prompted him to re-imagine Ka-Lor as a more barbaric, leather-clad warrior and I hated it. I loved the iconic designs seen here and the colorful drawings he did of the battle scenes between the two groups.


I'm taking some liberties posting this one. This is from one of Mike's collaborations with Carlton called "THE MAN CALLED CURSE". Curse was completely Carlton's creation and I have no idea if he's ever planning to use any of the dozens of characters he created. I hope I'm not causing him any trouble putting this out there. I don't remember much about Curse except that I really enjoyed reading the books. Carlton was a passionate writer with a million ideas bouncing around in his head. He's African American and so most (though by no means all) of his characters were Black. This was years before Milestone Comics came about and the universe he created by himself and, later, with Mike, was just as rich with interwoven stories and plots as anything being put out by Marvel or DC at the time. Admittedly, quite a few were derivative but a lot weren't and he always put a new spin on everything. I really miss that time in our lives. Again, I hope he wouldn't have a problem with me sharing this. I only post it because it shows how much detail and love Mike put into all his drawings, even then.


Mike finally discovered inking. I think this page is based on something published by Marvel at the time but I can't put my finger on it. Probably a CAPTAIN MARVEL or X-MEN book since Mike was heavily into his hero-worship of John Byrne and Jim Starlin at this point. I want to say it was the Warlock MARVEL TEAM-UP issue but I'd have to dig that out and it's too late at night to go scrounging through my collection. Anyway, it still shows a grasp of drama and a pretty darn good inking technique considering he was using Pentel markers and Sharpies. I think we'd both been playing around with whatever pens we could find around the house, including ballpoints, but somehow Mike discovered the Pentels. He'd been using a mechanical pencil with a .05 mm lead to draw with and the Pentels were something he could use to keep that fine line he liked. I, of course, started using the same equipment at my earliest opportunity, to lesser effect. I have very specific memories of Mike and me scouring the school supplies section at the local K-Mart, looking for those things.

Damn, he was good. He was always good.

Mixed in with Mike's stuff in the box were a few of my drawings. This one drawing was a character design for my villain "Crimewave". I don't remember how old I was when I drew this but I remember being really proud of the color scheme and the "C" logo on his chest. I also thought the inking was simply spectacular. I was using a thick felt tip marker I'd found and thought it added a really professional finish to my work. Now, it just looks muddy, like I was drawing with house painter's brush. I was imitating Byrne too (because Mike was, probably) and when I finished it, I rushed into Mike's room to show it off. He said something like, "Hey, that's great! What are you going to use him for?" Which was the worst thing he could ask me because I don't think I had an answer. "I don't know," I said. And as far as I can remember, that's as far as the felonious career of Crimewave went. Typical.

Mom told me they've found another box of our drawings but I don't know when I'll get back to Lynchburg to pick them up. Gulp. Wish me luck on getting a sketch done for next time.

Friday, April 25, 2008

For my buddy Christian...

Damn. Just when you think you're the best at something.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Treehouse of Horror

I went to Lynchburg this weekend for the 40th birthday party of my high school buddy Brian. It gave me the chance to hang out with my parents, which I've been trying to do more of lately, and also pick up some pieces of Mike's artwork that I needed to scan. They're a couple of Flash-related pieces that somebody needed for a magazine article and I promised to send the scans to them. The art actually belongs to Mike's good friend Paul Rogers, owner of Dominion Comics in Lynchburg (the fella who sent me the EERIEs) and he graciously agreed to loan them to me long enough to complete the scans. I'll probably post them here once they've had a chance to publish them. I don't want to steal their thunder.

While I was at my parent's house, we went through the ritual we perform every time I visit. They load my vehicle up with whatever I can fit in it in an attempt to free up more space in their house. Their reasoning is that I'll have to do it "someday soon" anyway. Might as well start now. This has been going on for about five years or so but has gotten really bad since last August. I really can't spare the space in my house but I don't have the heart to tell them no. Usually it's a lot of junk from my childhood like old broken toys and clothes that don't fit. Most of the time it goes in the landfill or to Goodwill. This time was different. They'd uncovered an old high school and college-era box of Mike's and my stuff. Inside was a treasure trove of old drawings by both Mike and me and some strange photos Mike took for a photography class. This was one of them:

At the time this was taken, we lived in a VCU-subsidized two-bedroom apartment in a complex called Treehouse Apartments. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. I wanted to live on-campus but VCU had other plans. Mike and I shared the apartment with two guys from southwest Virginia named Eric and Shannon. This photo shows my corner of the room that Mike and I stayed in. I can't believe how messy I was. it looks like a caricature of a college student's bedroom. I mean, there's actually a sock hanging out of half-open drawer. It looks almost staged. Alas, it wasn't. That's really how we lived. It got so bad in the apartment once that, while we were taking a nap, our roommates opened the folding doors between us and the living room and chucked in all the junk we'd left lying around. When we woke up we were buried in crap and I asked, "What the hell happened!??" We were really embarrassed but the guys were pretty jovial about it. They were pretty good roommates and I really missed them when they got their own apartment the next year.

I debated with myself about whether or not to show this next one but it's too funny not to. I'm pretty sure this shot was taken by my great friend Don McCants. He started out as a friend of Mike's and Paul Rogers' but, when Mike moved back home and I stayed in Richmond, he became one of my best friends. He used to call us up around 10:00 at night to tell us he was coming over but woundn't show up until about midnight. Then he'd insist we watch the strangest movies I'd ever seen. He actually had pretty good taste but at midnight on a school night, I would have had a hard time staying awake through anything. Of the forty or so movies he brought over during our college career, I think I saw three, start to finish. I'd wake up on the couch the next morning and Don would be gone. If it was anyone else, it would have been really annoying but since it was Don, it was actually endearing.

One night, Don showed up and told us he needed us to dress up in all-black, put on sunglasses and dance around in front of the apartment's blank white walls while he snapped some shots for his class. Don't ask. It was college. If he'd shown up asking us to put on pink tutus and ride a fire truck down Broad Street, we'd have done it as long as he brought the right brand of beer. Though Mike's not in this shot, he was involved. At one point, Don had me grab Mike and swing him around the room. As I let go of his arm, he jumped up, flailing his arms. There was a loud crunch and we were shocked to see that Mike's ass had left a perfect imprint of itself in the drywall about four feet up. It was like a figure-eight on it's side. Mike was so embarrassed but we all couldn't stop laughing. Well, not until we ended up having to repair the wall and paint the entire living room so we wouldn't lose our security deposit.

I don't know who the dude on the left is. His face rings a bell but I just can't remember him. I think he was a classmate of Mike's. The fella in the middle is our roommate Eric Ritchie, he of the amazing heavy metal music collection. He eventually went on to become a successful physical therapist here in Richmond. And the giraffe on the right with the purty mouth and the roadkill on his head is me. It was the 80's so I can probably be forgiven for the mullet. And there was much more where that came from. By the end of the year, my hair would be past my shoulders. At least I grew it out on the sides so it was less Billy Ray Cyrus and more Jon Bon Jovi. Still...yikes.

Next time, if I don't have a sketch, I'll post some of the drawings I found in the box. No more mullet shots, I promise.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Leaf has informed (reminded?) me that I have been remiss in posting his inked version of the Hunter sketch I did. He sent it to me a week ago (and gave me the original inked piece which is much appreciated...and purty.) I was happy, not only because I loved what he did with it, but because it would give something to post. As I mentioned, I was having a hard time getting anything drawn. I asked him if I could post it on my blog and he said yes. Then I did the Isis sketch and forgot to post them. Sorry, my man. So, without further dilly-dallying...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Oh, Mighty Isis!

Somehow, the other day at work, the conversation turned to Saturday morning TV shows of our youth. I mentioned that I'd seen that SECRETS OF ISIS had recently been released on DVD. The reaction of one of my coworkers was "Secrets of...what?" I explained the premise of the show to him, that a pretty school teacher stumbles on an old Egyptian amulet that gives her superpowers and transforms her into the goddess Isis. I found a picture online of the actress in costume and he said, "Oh, of course she's hot. I wonder what the show would be like if some stodgy old archaeologist had dug up that ol' amulet." We had a good laugh and went back to work but it had already started my drawing hand itching. I've been really preoccupied at work and had been "drawing" a blank on anything to sketch for the blog. But, I thought, this was gold. So on my lunchbreak, between bites of Boca burger, I sketched this out. It didn't come out nearly as funny as it was in my head but it still makes me chuckle. Oddly, I remember when I was a kid I didn't think the actress was all that pretty. I don't remember what I didn't like about her. But looking at her through adult eyes now, my God, that woman was stunning. Absolutely beautiful. Weird.

The preoccupation I've been experiencing at work has to do with the 3D stuff I've been doing. When we first got the Lightwave software at work, I assigned myself a pretty ambitious project right out of the gate. The UPS truck. We do their advertising and it's hard to get decent shots of the truck for presentations and ad comps. So I thought a 3D model would come in handy. (It has.) But when I did it, I was still a novice. At a glance, the model looks fine but a professional modeler would look at the object file and laugh. Or throw up. So, three years later and with a ton of modeling under my belt, I've decided to redo the model as a a pro would do it. Lean and clean. So far, it's looking reeeeally good. I tend to obsess over little details. This drives my 3D cohorts crazy but in 3D modeling, it's sort of a virtue. There are three of us in my department doing the 3D stuff and I usually get the modeling work while they're better at lighting and camera work. When we needed a model of the agency for an internal project, I was the one who made the model (over the course of two months) while they did the "set decorating" and lighting. (Which I just find tedious.) Anyway, I'd like to post a render of the truck when I'm done with it but I doubt I could get permission. We'll see. It's taking up all my "down time" at work but it looks better on my timesheet than "blog sketches" would. And despite having done it already, once before, it's been a gas so far.

One last thing. They had an electronics recycling pickup in my neighborhood (well, five miles away, but that's close enough) on Saturday so I was finally able to dispose of our old G3 and monitor. They both worked fine but were so outdated they were useless to me and had been sitting on our living room floor for the last two years or so while I tried to figure out what to do with them. I hated the idea of just throwing them in the landfill but I couldn't find anyone who wanted them. The same guy who sparked the idea for this week's sketch suggested I check the recycling group's website. I did and it was just in time, apparently. As it turns out, though, I ended up taking something else to them as well. Mike's scanner. Mike had a large-bed scanner he used to scan his pages to send to his inkers. I'd wanted one for years but they're so expensive and while, for him, it was a necessity, for me it would just be ridiculously self-indulgent. Last year, when we moved Mike's stuff up here, the scanner sat in it's box for months. I couldn't bring myself to hook it up. I've used this comparison before, but it felt like I'd rubbed the monkey's paw. Like I'd wished for a big scanner and got one but at a terrible price. Every time I looked at it, I felt sick to my stomach. But eventually, I ended up needing it for something Mike-related and went ahead and hooked it up. Strangely, after three scans or so, I noticed a strange blur on all the scans I was doing. Turns out that's a typical problem with this particular scanner and it just got worse. It eventually became unusable. Friday night, when I came home, my office was filled with a horrible smell like the one we got when the transformer on our old electric racetrack used to overheat. The scanner's power supply had gone bad and I suspect we're lucky the house didn't burn down. So I took the scanner to the recycling pick up Saturday morning. It would have been handy to have around and I'll probably buy a cheaper model after all but I can't say I'm really sorry to see it go.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Ukrops 10K

I had so much fun doing the Hunter sketch and was so pleased with the reaction to it (Thanks, everybody!) that I couldn't wait to do another sketch. Problem is, most of the time I get my sketching done in my "downtime" at work and that was in short supply this week. I've been really busy at work and, though I try not to discuss it much here, there's been a lot to do in my free time dealing with Mike's affairs. Add to that a pretty bad cold and I had to let the sketch fall to the wayside.

So with all this going on, I really wasn't looking forward to this weekend. Suzanne and I have been training for the last 10 weeks for the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10K. This is our fourth time running it in five years and my times have gotten steadily worse over the years. (I missed one year because I threw my back out and it took me over three months to recover from it.) Our training group this year was not what we'd hoped. Last year it was a well-oiled machine but this year their hearts weren't in it. We got rotating trainers, spotty stretching, late starting times and really bad street directions. I got lost twice, once pretty badly. The training is in a small town called Ashland that I'm not that familiar with and all the streets seem to do figure-eights.

Once I caught the cold I'd pretty much decided to bag the race. But after all that effort, training in freezing temperatures, I just couldn't let it go. I downed some cold medicine with my coffee (Is that considered doping?) and suited up. Wouldn't you know it, but it rained the entire race. It felt like someone was trying to tell me something. I ignored them. I managed to run the first half without stopping, walked a bit to catch my breath and then ran the rest of the way. I did my best time since the first time I ran it. The moment I crossed the finish line, the rain stopped and the sun came out. I had to laugh. Suze and I celebrated our run with a trip to Carytown Burgers and Fries, the best burger joint in town, and went home to hit the sack. When I woke up a few hours later, I noticed the second toenail on my left foot has turned black and I'll probably lose it. I guess those new running shoes I bought are tighter than I thought. But my cold has improved immensely. Go figure. Maybe I burned it off with all that exertion.

Anyway, no sketch but this still turned out to be a pretty good week after all.