Monday, May 31, 2010
One thing I like about Marvel's stable of villains is that they have a lot that are considered line-wide villains. At DC, once you get past Darkseid, there aren't too many villains that can make that claim. Dr. Doom started with the FF, but he has had major story lines with many other big guns (and not so big guns) of the Marvel Universe. Thanos, Kingpin and the Wrecking Crew will pop up in a wide variety of titles. Mephisto is in this group as well. I have read cool stories pitting him against the Silver Surfer, Dr. Strange, The Fantastic Four, even Daredevil. And of course one very notorious story with Spider-Man that is still quite controversial. So it was only a matter of time before he vexed Batman...
The Mephisto on this cover is by Marvel legend John Buscema - probably the artist I most relate to the company because of the How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way! book that I spent many many hours of my youth studying. Here's a Buscema Conan page from my collection:
Sunday, May 30, 2010
This one is truly a Lost issue! It was another request that I didn't think I could fulfill, but then inspiration hit. One of my more complicated covers as there are 19 separate images that went into it.
I know some people were disappointed with the finale of Lost but I found it to be very satisfying. I was more into the character arcs in the show than the scientific reasons for everything so the fact that every question was not answered did not bother me. It was enough for me to know that the island was the source for good and evil in the world, I did not need to know exactly why or how it was created. Kind of the way The Force was used in Star Wars, where I knew basically what it was and what it can do without knowing its origins - and once they tried to explain it with "midichlorians" in the prequels, almost nobody was satisfied anyway.
I look forward to future work by most of the cast of Lost, they have proven themselves to be talented and engaging actors. I am sure it will be some time before we see a series quite as engrossing.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
When I first heard of the Marvel Zombies mini-series, it sounded like a silly concept and I didn't bother to pick up the issues. I then read a bunch of positive reviews as well as some of Robert Kirkman's other comics work and decided to give it a shot. I am glad I did because I really got a kick out of it, as well as the sequel. It has a nice gallows humor to it and Sean Phillips knows how to draw gore without it having too much of a gross out factor. I haven't tried the later series with different creative teams, hopefully Marvel isn't stretching the concept too thin.
I did not follow the G.I. Joe comics or the cartoon, but I have a fond memory of the action figures from my childhood. The real ones from the 70's, not those tiny ones that came out later on. I liked all the cool accessories like scuba gear and of course was a fan of the kung-fu grip!
Not having followed the newer version I don't know how faithful the movie last summer was. It kind of surprised me. I guess I went in with low expectations because even though the acting was pretty weak and the plot preposterous, I found the film to be big dumb fun. I think I could go along with is because it didn't seem to take itself very seriously. Sometimes its OK to just turn your brain off and watch things go splodey.
The Batman in this piece is by Norm Breyfogle, and artist I hope returns to the character as I love his take. Here's a sketch by Breyfogle with a better view of the character (pardon my reflection!):
Friday, May 28, 2010
A pretty simple one this time out, but I love both of the images so much that I didn't want to mess with this cover too much. I believe they are both originally from covers to Amazing Heroes, one of the earlier comic-themed magazines.
Mary Marvel, along with the rest of the Marvel Family has seen better days. For some reason DC seems intent on corrupting her and frankly that is a plot element that I am quite tired of. Currently, Shazam has taken away Mary and Billy's powers and the characters are getting a bit of a rest. When they do return, I hope it will be in their more traditional appearances and personalities.
Mary in this cover was illustrated by the late, great Don Newton - a stellar artist taken far too young. I loved his work on the Shazam characters in World's Finest. He was also known for his rendition of Batman. Here's a nice moody page of his featuring the Caped Crusader:
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Captain Marvel was a character that I discovered in a somewhat backwards manner. The first story of his that I read was The Death of Captain Marvel Graphic Novel. I then sought out his solo series as well as his guest appearances. I always liked his look, he has one of those simple silver age style costumes that really appeal to me.
Marvel recently brought the character back, only to later reveal that it was a Skrull impostor, which is just as well since the stories he was given were less than memorable. Mar-Vell had one of the great send-offs in comics, and a full return would probably dilute that. Still, it would be nice to see him return in some "untold stories".
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Man-Thing actually gave me the chills as a kid. First of all, the fact that he looked so darn freaky! Sure, he had "Man" on his name, but of all the various swamp monsters in comicdom, Ted Sallis' alter ego looked the most inhuman. Also his hook - whosoever knows fear will burn at his touch - was a great one in that it affected the good guys just as much as the bad guys.
Heres a combo piece of the two big swamp characters, by Mike Gustovich and John Totleben:
Monday, May 24, 2010
Another old-school cover here. Magnus is a character that has seen many different iterations over the years. I went with his more classic look because those old covers of his with their pulpy look made a real impression on me. Magnus, Like Doctor Doom, is so cool that even the fact that he wears a skirt does not diminish his awesomeness.
You have to admit, Bucky is better protected than Robin, at least. Bucky is of course back now and in the role of Captain America. Steve Rogers has also returned and while he hasn't taken his mantle back yet, with a movie on the horizon it is only a matter of time. Hopefully Marvel will find a purpose for Bucky Barnes that will allow him to continue to flourish.
This is the earliest Batman image I have used for a cover, as can be seen by the Bob Kane artwork. Here's an original Kane sketch of his most enduring creation:
Sunday, May 23, 2010
This was a relatively simple one. I didn't even need to change the word balloons, just adding in the figure of May gave the cover scene a whole new meaning. I have to admit that I was in kind of a cruel mood when I created this.
Aunt May really is one of the most enduring and unique supporting characters. She always made such a nice juxtaposition with the nasty antagonists in Spider-Man's stories. I quite enjoyed all that Rosemary Harris brought to the role in the movies, hopefully the rebooted franchise will find someone equally skilled at the role.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
I always thought that it was a neat fact that the original Green Lantern also had Gotham City as his base of operations. I wished that there would have been a golden age story building upon that concept. Alan Scott has one of those costumes that shouldn't work, but somehow does. The other reason I always like this character is that because of where he wears his ring, I know he is a fellow southpaw - not too many confirmed left handed superheroes out there!
Here are a couple of pages featuring Alan Scott and his Earth-1 counterpart from an early JLA/JSA crossover by the legendary Dick Dillin:
Friday, May 21, 2010
I am a huge Mike Allred fan, his art style is at once modern and retro. I knew that any cover with his most popular creation would have to be reflective of the innovation that he brings to his stories. This was one of the most fun times I have had making one of these.
These six pieces by Allred were originally intended to Community Chest cards be for a DC Universe themed Monopoly game. The game was never released, so this great art has never been seen by the public - until now, so enjoy:
Thursday, May 20, 2010
This was an early cover, and I think it is pretty rough around the edges. I really like the guest star though - Machine Man is one of my favorite C-List Marvel characters. His self titled series may not have lasted long but at least through his guest appearances with Spider-Man, the Hulk and The Thing, he maintained a presence through the bronze age, and I always sought out his appearances. His 4-Issue mini series is a gem, and my first introduction to the work of Barry Windsor Smith. I haven't followed any of his recent adventures since Warren Ellis got his hands on him in Nextwave, but from what I have seen he doesn't even seem like the same character I loved back in the day.
This Machine Man image is from his series with art by the King himself, Jack Kirby. Here is a page of original art by Kirby featuring another of his nonhuman creations:
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Kitty Pryde has always been an interesting character in that she was always depicted as a "regular girl" in the midst of so many statuesque glamor gal superheroes. We met her as an insecure kid in the pages of Uncanny X-Men and have been able to watch her mature in her emotions and abilities over the years.
I chose a Paul Smith image for this cover. He illustrated one of my favorite runs on the X-Men, the awesome and under-appreciated Leave it to Chance, and the great mini-series The Golden Age. Here are a couple of sketches by this very talented artist:
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
This was another request that was well off of the beaten path, but when I remembered the great tabloid cover featuring Batman and his four greatest villains, I figured I would give it a shot. It's a simple cover, but the oddity of the team up makes up for that hopefully.
I remember being entranced by Kiss as a kid - they seemed kind of like superheroes to me with their makeup, outfits, and over the top attitude. I was at the perfect age for all of that stuff to really resonate. It didn't hurt that they had a bunch of catchy hits as well.
Monday, May 17, 2010
This one is admittedly a less than successful attempt, It was an early try and in retrospect, I should have looked for better source material. Still, I do like the concept of the team up and it would have been fun to see for real.
DC has been all about legacy characters and passing iconic names from one character to another. I usually prefer the guys I grew up with to retain their titles, but with The Flash it was a different story - instead of a new character, only recently introduced for the purpose of taking on the mantle, we had in Wally West a - sidekick who had been there all along with the same powers and ready to step in. It felt a lot more natural.
Now, in this post-CSI world, Barry Allen is relevant again and back to life, so where does that leave Wally? I hate to see him treated as a lame duck after so many years of great chracter growth, even though I am a big Barry Allen fan as well.
Here's a page of Wally as Flash by Scott Kolins - it's from his 200th issue and one of my favorite pieces in my collection:
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Ka-Zar was basically a Tarzan Knock of at first glance, but the twist of his locale, the Savage Land - set in the present day with Dinosaurs alongside the usual jungle denizens - was enough to make him stand out. I liked that he could appear alongside all of the more traditional Marvel heroes one minute, and have a lone jungle story in the next. His guest appearances were my main exposure to his adventures, I loved his tales with the X-Men and Spider-Man.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Jonny Quest was a pretty cool cartoon for me as a kid. Despite the presence of a cute animal sidekick, they played it pretty straight, which set it apart from most animated programs of the time. I haven't seen an episode in years, I wonder how well they hold up. I am surprised that we haven't seen a big screen adaptation of this property yet. I have read of rumors here and there over the years, so I assume it is only a matter of time.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Jonah Hex was always my favorite of the various western stars. I was looking forward to the upcoming film adaptation, but after watching the trailer I am not filled with confidence. They only went half way with the make-up (perhaps trying to avoid comparisons with Two-Face) and Hex seems to have the ability to speak with the dead.
I think a better bet will be the Jonah Hex short feature included as an extra on the forthcoming Batman: Under the Red Hood DVD. The Spectre short on the last JLA DVD was awesome so I have high hopes for this one.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Ah, the Silver Age - when even supporting characters could hold their own series. I have to admit that most of the reason I identified with Superman's Pal was that I too was a goofy freckled redheaded kid. I did like that he was an amateur master of disguises and his stories were usually more about humorous situations than any real peril.
I used a Curt Swan Jimmy Olsen cover for this one, to me he is the quintessential Superman artist of the Silver Age. Here's a page by him that I picked up because I liked how it depicted Superman using so many of his different abilities:
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
This one was a request, and one that I wasn't sure I would be able to fulfill. Then I saw this picture of Sean Connery as Bond by none other than B&B master, Jim Aparo! So even though this is a pretty simple "posing for the camera" cover, I like it because I had never known such an Aparo image existed.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
You guessed it, I was in a goofy mood again and came up with this one. You have to admit though, if you saw this issue on the stands, you would have to pick it up and leaf through it!
J. Jonah Jameson is one of the greatest supporting characters ever in comics. While being a constant thorn in Spider-Man's side, Stan Lee also gave him an underlying decency and strong journalistic code beneath all his bombast and bluster. You never know if you are going to be rooting for him or against him when a story starts, and that makes for a great character.
J.K. Simmons portrayal of the Daily Bugle Publisher remains one of the most faithful comic characters ever brought to screen. Whoever takes on the role in the rebooted film franchise has big shoes to fill!
Here's a page of original art featuring Ol' JJJ by John Byrne:
Monday, May 10, 2010
Here's a timely cover with the big sequel opening up this past weekend. I featured Iron Man wearing my all time favorite armor here, the classic red & gold with the widow's peak helmet. As much as I love the cool armor that Jon Favreau has been using for his films, I was really hoping that we would get a suit closer to this classic look for a scene or two.
I liked Iron Man 2 a lot - maybe not as much as the first one, but that was a nearly perfect superhero film so that doesn't surprise me. The acting across the board was well done and the action scenes were great. I did feel that the villains could have posed a bit more of a threat, they seemed to get dispatched relatively easily. Anyway, I can't wait for the next few Marvel movies and then the eventual ensemble piece, The Avengers!
The Iron Man I used for this cover is by Bob Layton, who illustrated many of his greatest tales - including the great time travelling adventure with Doctor Doom. I love that story do much that I commissioned Layton to recreate the cover to Iron Man #150 for me. He did a great job with it:
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Iceman was a no brainer with all the Mr. Freeze related covers to work from. As it happens, I am a big fan of the character so I was happy to work on this one. He has such a pure and simple look and concept, it was easy for me as a kid to get into his stories and imagine myself in his adventures during some of those cold New England winter weekends.
Iceman gained a little more notoriety with his inclusion in the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends cartoon back the early 80's. There's another reason that I was a fan of the character - that show was appointment television for me. As cheesy as it was, it was still the best you could get for animated superheroes at the time.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
I always thought that Batman and Dick Tracy had very similar rogues galleries, mostly made up of non-powered guys in suits who had some strange disfigurement or obsession. For that reason, I think they could make for an interesting pairing.
I am still annoyed at the Warren Beatty Dick Tracy film. Not only did Beatty's vanity keep him from looking anything like the main character, but they wasted the villains by using almost all of the main ones in the first film. What could have been a cool franchise was squandered away.
Maybe enough time has passed for another try. I would take a different approach, to distince itself from the earlier version. Maybe a TV series with a darker edge, slowly introducing his adversaries, one episode at a time.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Sometimes these come out of the blue, even for me. I was looking for images of a completely different character and stumbled on a cover of Doll Man holding a key. I knew instantly of a picture it could work with, because I always thought that this Batman in cuffs cover by Brian Bolland was very eye catching.
I remember reading tales of Doll Man in a few 100-Page Spectaculars that DC used to publish. I liked his solo adventures more than his time with The Freedom Fighters, as the art on the stories was always well done.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Beta Ray Bill has one of the coolest character designs ever. It doesn't seem like it would work, but it does. Walt Simonson did a great job with him and gave him a great introduction - literally smashing on to the scene in that Iconic cover from his first appearance in Thor. I was happy as a reader that despite initial appearances he turned out to be a god guy, and that he stayed on as a supporting character for a while.
One of the nice surprises in the Planet Hulk Direct to DVD Animated flick was that due to rights issues, the Silver Surfer was replaced with Beta Ray Bill. It was very cool to finally see him animated, and his scenes are my favorite part of the movie.
I was glad to use a David Mazzuchelli Batman here, as his interpretation from Batman: Year One is one of the best versions ever. He no longer works in mainstream comics, so I was very happy to be able to get a piece of original art by him a while back:
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
This was the first cover I made featuring a non DC character. I figured if I was going to try for a team up nobody would expect to see in B&B, that I might as well go for broke. Besides, a good friend made the request and I didn't want to disappoint him. Howard started as Steve Gerber's commentary on, well whatever he felt like tackling from month to month and was definitely a product of his times. What I liked was the the series was set firmly in the Marvel Universe, it was interesting to see this funny animal character hobnob with the likes of Spider-Man, Man-Thing and the Defenders.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Here's a little change of pace with and old school look cover. Hourman is another one of those great Earth-2 characters that did not have a counterpart on Earth-1, making him even more intriguing to me as a young reader. Plus he had a great hook - powers for only an hour at a time, never knowing the optimum moment to begin the power boost and always running the risk of losing it at a critical moment. Unfortunately, the hour of power was originally administered through taking a drug - a Miraclo Tablet... that and the loose fitting mask that many artists struggle with have I think held him back from breaking through to the big leagues. Those are relatively easy problems to overcome so I hope to see this character grow in popularity in the years to come. Hey, sometimes it takes half a century or so...