Friday, January 28, 2011

Something, Something, Darkseid

Over at the John Byrne Forum, the question was asked, "What are the 5 greatest stories ever told by both Marvel and DC?" I chimed in with my picks (to some groans after I list a couple of Alan Moore stories) but I was pretty happy with my list. Until I realized I'd left off Jack Kirby's NEW GODS saga! URG! I felt like an idiot! DC has been milking that puppy for years. Mike was a huge fan and I've recently seen the light and fallen in love with Kirby's magnum opus.

As punishment for my oversight, I decided to draw this sketch. I have had virtually no time off since I finished Rod's SOVENA RED drawing, working late nights and weekends or dealing with the sick relative I mentioned. But my drawing finger was really itching and since I couldn't work on Craig's Avengers sketch at the office, I decided to knock this out in my rare downtime. I figured it would take a couple of weeks of five-minute spurts to do it. Imagine my delight when it really came together quickly and I knocked it out in a day. Granted, it's a simple pose but those Kirby dots take a lot of patience!

Damn, it felt good. I'd nearly forgotten why I started this sketch blog in the first place. It was to give myself a creative outlet so my head didn't explode after spending day upon week upon year cranking out endless modern variations on the old Burma Shave billboards. I had a really good time drawing this and I think it came out pretty well considering all the stops and starts. It also helped to keep me in practice. Nothing is more frustrating than building up a head of steam and then losing it because I don't have time to draw.

I hope you like it.

Okay, gotta keep it short and get back to work. Later!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


That was a nail-biter. As can be expected, I'm very excited to see my beloved Packers heading to the SuperBowl against the Steelers. That just screams football, doesn't it?

But I think we can all agree that this is the biggest story of the day:

Pretty dirty, Sanchez. Pretty dirty.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Moving On

Last night's game goes to prove the old adage, "the best revenge is living well." Green Bay's breakup with their former quarterback was a long and messy affair but Aaron Rodgers has proved himself to be more than just "the rebound" while Brett Favre has become the cliched post-breakup ex-lover whose life spirals into a pathetic, depressing mess. Though they broke your heart, you take no pleasure in their troubles. You just wish they'd go away.

Rodger's performance last night, aided by some talented receivers, a surprisingly effective running game and (at last!) a fearsome defense, has been called already one of the best by a quarterback in NFL playoff history. I'm usually prone to flipping channels when a game is either not going my way or if the score becomes lopsided. Last night, I watched every single second, texting score updates to Suzanne who was out with friends. I couldn't take my eyes off it.

I can proudly say I was one of the few Packer fans who, after Brett "retired" the first time, was excited that Rodgers would get to step up. I'd seen him play during one of the few times Favre didn't finish a game. I felt like we had another good quarterback on our hands. Then Favre started his crap and I got angry. I just knew Rodgers would get fed up and go to a team that was willing to let him start. When other fans were crying for coach Mike McCarthy's head for telling Favre to at last hit the road, I was shouting, "YES!" from the rooftops. Like Troy Aikman last night, I think McCarthy should get Coach of the Year. Hell, I think he should get Coach of the Decade for having the foresight to give Favre and his inflated ego the boot.

And don't get me started on the ProBowl snub of Rodgers in favor of convicted dogfighter (Oh, that sounds too nice. How about we call him Purveyor of Animal Cruelty? Or maybe Man's Best Friend's Worst Friend?) Michael Vick. For some reason, whenever the misdeeds of Vick or Favre are brought up, 99% of sports announcers put their hands over their ears and start calling "LA! LA! LA! LA!" Seems like most of the fans and players are too, since that's who does the ProBowl voting. Two weeks ago, some were calling for Vick to be named League MVP. Outrageous. I think we saw the MVP last night, busying himself with picking apart the number-one seed Atlanta Falcons.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I mentioned a while back that I had some “commitments” I needed to take care of before I felt comfortable starting on the drawing phase of HAND ME DOWN HORROR. (I have the first issue re-written to my (sort of) satisfaction and am ready to begin.) I just need to do a few sketches and finish my last few Perhapanauts pages. But there have been a lot of distractions.

I keep circling the blog sketchbook we’re working on for Mike’s scholarship fund but I can’t seem to get traction. I realized we needed to start at the beginning but Mike had migrated to a new blog halfway through and some of the content didn’t make it over. There were some scans missing and some entries seem incomplete. I’m trying to sort it all out while organizing the original sketch art for re-scanning. And there’s a LOT of it. So this is going to take longer than I’d anticipated. Please be patient with me as I’m basically doing this alone.

Along with the usual distractions of work and the holidays, I’ve also been dealing with a sick relative. I won’t go into detail because it’s a private thing but it’s been a sad, strange experience and I’ve been fortunate in my life that I’ve not had to deal with much of this sort of thing. But, as a result, I’m not sure what to do to make things better for this person. Suze has been amazing, as usual, and I don’t know what I’d do without her.

Still, I’ve managed to find some free time and so I’ve been chiseling away at the fun little side projects I’d promised folks I’d do. The first was last week’s THOR sketch. The second is the drawing you see above of Rod Hannah’s SOVENA RED character.

SOVENA RED is a great comic book idea Rod came up with and has been working on for some time. It’s a fun story (something we need more of in comics) and an appealing character. Things are starting to heat up now and Rod’s got some exciting things planned for Sovena, so do yourself a favor and head over to ONCE UPON A SUPERHERO and do some clickin’. There’s some great art on display by various talented folks. (My personal favorite is Mike Maihack’s pinup. I could stare at it for hours.) There’s also an 8-page preview for your enjoyment. And bookmark that sucka so you can keep checking in. Rod’s going to be making some announcements and you won’t want to miss them. While you’re at it, order a copy of the first Sovena Red story. It’s available in digital and print formats.

While I was working on this drawing for Rod, I stumbled across an inking technique that is probably so elementary that everybody does it without thinking about it. Yet it was something that had never occurred to me. I’d been having trouble with my linework and couldn’t manage to ink long lines without my hand starting to shake and giving it a wobbly look. So I was inking with the harder nibs and just going over and over a line to make it thicker in places. But I was bad at that too. Then, the other night, I took off my glasses (the only way I can ink now, is with my glasses off and my face inches from the paper) I held the brush pen a certain way, with the barrel pointing in the direction I was inking, and started moving (not from the wrist but from the elbow) and BOING!...I got it. I actually slapped my forehead when the realization hit me. I’d always held the brush like a pencil, straight up and down, tilting the barrel toward my body and baring down hard to vary the line. So, hopefully, this will mark an improvement in my inking technique. Or maybe not. But at least I won’t be so afraid to ink my drawings now.

I hope you like the drawing. Have a great week. Next up, a mystery Avenger for Craig Rousseau. If you knew where Craig wants me to draw this, you would pray for me. You would. Gulp.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Out Like a Lion...

...In like a big #@$&ing carnivorous African feline. Since 2011 has come in, occupationally speaking, much the same way 2010 went out, meaning busy as hell, I didn't bother with New Years resolutions this time. I realize my chances of exercising more, drawing more or getting more done around the house are about as likely as my being elected President of the United States. So, rather than add any more stress on myself, I've decided not to worry about any of that and just do the best I can. Since I already have four presentations due this week at work (welcome back!) that probably won't amount to much.

That said, I did have this past weekend off and was feeling a little too lazy to get much done. So I spent the day at the drawing board finishing up a Thor illustration I'd been promising to Christian's daughter Lilah for about six months. Lilah is my goddaughter and so I took the promise seriously. But Thor is one of those characters you just have to "get" to be able to draw properly. And I really struggled with it. I was never much of a fan as a kid. He just didn't seem "superheroey" enough for me. He had long hair, bare arms, carried around a hammer for Pete's sake, wore a helmet that couldn't possibly stay on his head and talked like Gadzooks from "Rudolph's Shiny New Year." It took me, no exaggeration, about 30 preliminary sketches before I got a composition I liked enough to proceed with. And after a couple of false starts, about 30 more. Finally, I went back through the prelims and found one I couldn't remember why I'd rejected and went with it. And above is what I ended up with. I hope Lilah likes it. It's got some problems but still kind of like it. It's one of the largest finished pieces I've done at 11x17, full bleed.

I owe Lilahkins a debt of gratitude, however. Because, in the course of trying to get a feel for Thor, I've discovered some great books I'd, up until now, ignored. I've picked up some ESSENTIALS volumes and the recent "THOR: IF ASGARD SHOULD PERISH" hardcover featuring incredible John Buscema artwork. And I've been reading the recent series with Oliver Copiel's Thor redesign. And also Chris Samnee's overlooked, underappreciated THOR THE MIGHTY AVENGER that all of you should have been reading but weren't. With the THOR movie coming out soon, I'm really glad I had a chance to discover how great all these old stories are before seeing Hollywood's version.

Anyway, I hope you like the drawing and I hope you had a great and safe New Year holiday. Next up, a Sovena Red sketch for Rod Hannah.