Stealing Scarlett

My wife's mom has been staying with us all week, and its been a godsend; She's been taking care of the baby about 90% of the time during the day, allowing me to get more work done in the last five days than I had in the last five weeks. I've also been catching up on errands, yard work, stuff like that, which is how I came to find myself sitting in our local Jeep dealership this morning. We get free oil changes there, but it takes forever...I spent most of the four hours at a nearby Panera, but I trudged on back and ended up having to sit in the waiting room for the last half-hour or so while they finished up. Anyway, as I was sitting there, I saw an issue of Elle from last fall on a side table, w/ Scarlett Johansson on the cover. I picked it up, 'natch, flipped through...standard puff piece type of thing, but for one photo, which I really dug...it was a cool, super-cute pose, and I really wanted to draw it. I considered trying to tear the page out, but I figgered that'd be too obvious and attract too much attention, so I figured I'd just make a mental note of it and try to find it online somewhere later. But then again, there was no guarantee I'd find it online, and there was always a chance I'd forget, so...

...I stole the goddamn magazine.



Here's another two-fer for you, courtesy of myself and Lurid pal Jay Geldhof. It's Apokoliptian warrior-wench Lashina, created by the late, great Jack Kirby. I haven't seen Jay's version yet, so here's hoping he doesn't wipe the floor with me too badly!

A couple notes about the character...she's a toughie! There's really no tenderness to her personality, so any sexiness seems purely coincidental. Plus, that costume, while completely awesome and unique, is a bear to work with. Those straps across the face are always a challenge, and rendering them in profile is just about impossible! That said, I may be taking another crack at this somewhere down the line, in a little more of an action pose!


Remembering Dave Stevens

As near as I can tell, the first drawing by Dave Stevens I ever saw was his illo of Catwoman (the golden age one) in Who's Who #4, back in early 1985. It caught my eye, to be sure, but it was his illo of Dolphin a couple months later in issue 7 that really set my mind on fire. It was like nothing I'd ever seen. Now, I'd been interested in drawings of pretty girls ever since the first time I picked up a comic book. Wonder Girl by George Perez was a personal favorite. But Stevens' girls had something extra. They had texture. You almost felt like you could reach onto the page and grab a handful of their flesh. Lordy, were they sexy, in a way my 14-year-old brain could barely comprehend. I must've traced that drawing of Dolphin a dozen times, trying to capture that...quality. Obviously, not one of my ham-fisted attempts came anywhere close.

A few years later, in high school, my pal Bill Burg discovered and introduced me to The Rocketeer, via the Eclipse-published collection that came out in 1988. Again, my mind was blown. It was absolutely unlike anything else I was reading at the time...light-hearted and fun, compared to the darkness of other books I was into like Watchmen and Year One. The language was spectacular, too...hilarious old-timey phrases like "Lamp them gams!" and "That'll settle your hash!" that immediately entered our vernacular and remain in use to this day. I could've read a thousand pages of The Rocketeer...but the fact that less than a hundred existed made it all the more special.

Sometime around the middle of 1990 or so, the news that a long in development Rocketeer movie was imminent, scheduled for release in the summer of 1991, had Bill and I both rapt with excitement. He did a much better job than I did in finding out the details of the production (who was starring, who was writing, etc.). I remember being exhilarated the first time I saw the poster hanging in the theater, and remember that we actually paid to see CAREER OPPORTUNITIES solely to get a look at (the admittedly spectacular, especially in those days) Jennifer Connelly, who'd be playing Betty (renamed Jenny) in the movie.

The euphoria spread to all things Stevens-related- we worshipped him like a rock star, mutually collecting anything with his signature on it, from upcoming items previewed in the Capital City catalog, to older 80's comic covers he'd done that required a little more hunting, to movie tie-in items like tin signs and t-shirts. The continuous scavenger hunt was a blast, all the more so because there was so little out there. We even dug up an old RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK making of book, which reprinted several pages of storyboards from the film. Stevens was among the storyboard artists who worked on the production, and sure enough, you could see his line, his expressions, in a few of them.

All this time, I was drawing, trying to duplicate Stevens' line, his inking facility. I was similarly enthralled by the work of Adam Hughes at the same time, so as you might imagine, my sketchbook was filled with attempt after attempt at realistic drawings of beautiful, voluptuous women. None of my grotesque, amateurish scrawling even came close to capturing that same magic, but it always provided an inspiration, and still does to this day. Similarly, the effect that Dave's storytelling in The Rocketeer had on me is significant. I so loved the tone of that book...and reading over it again the other day, I realized how similar in tone it was to the graphic novel I wrote last year and am working on now. He also just...I dunno, legitimized the idea of doing pin-up art for me? I always kinda felt guilty for drawing girls, and for wanting to be good at drawing girls...seeing Stevens' beautiful, elegant and tasteful work gave me an appreciation for what cheesecake could be.

Anyway, in the last decade or so, as Dave's public output diminished, so did my pursuit of his pin-ups, covers, etc. Rather than buy the book, I'd grab a jpeg on the computer and store it in my Dave Stevens folder, secure in the knowledge that I'd one day buy a huge collection of all of Dave's artwork, with all of those post-1995 images represented. Now, it seems that that collection is imminent...although it breaks my heart that it will be posthumous.

I never met Dave, as I seldom went any further west than Chicago for conventions, and never to San Diego. It's a shame, 'cause according to just about everyone who's ever met the man, he was a perfect gentleman who took the time to speak to everyone. I'm fairly certain that old adage about not meeting your heroes would not have applied to him. I also always appreciated that he seemed to be a bit of a rascal. You could tell just by looking at him...in some pictures he looked more like a 1930's matinee idol than a cartoonist. A friend once told me about a trip to a strip club with Dave, where he demanded the dancers go the extra mile and work just a bit harder before he'd generously tip them. I love stories like that.

Rest in peace, Dave. We never met, but I don't know if I'd be doing what I do if it wasn't for you.


Erin Go Blah

I wanted to ink up this li'l drawing and color it yesterday in honor of St. Pat's, but I've been nursing a sore wrist on my drawing hand (no cracks, please) all weekend and I feel like I should reserve what little pain-free drawing time I can for the work that pays the bills. So, you get some crude color and a half-assed background. My apologies...but honestly, I probably shouldn't even be typing this!

I'll rest up (again, no cracks) and get back to posting later in the week, hopefully with some new uni-girls images, and news on some fancy-schmancy art prints!




Dave Stevens 1955-2008

One of my favorite comics artists ever, Dave Stevens, died today, after an apparently long and secretive battle with leukemia. I say secretive 'cause I read message boards and comic websites constantly, and I didn't even know he was ill. I never met Dave, as I seldom trek to the West Coast for conventions, and he seldom came east... but his effect on my drawing ability and interest in comics is so immense that it almost can't be described.

It's late and I gotta go to sleep, but I have a ton of thoughts about Dave Stevens rolling around in my head and I plan to write 'em down as soon as I feel confident elaborating upon them.

'Til then, I'll leave you with this: A scan of Dave's drawing of the obscure character Dolphin, from DC's encyclopedic Who's Who series from the 80s. I first laid eyes on this image when I was 14, and it just about made my mind explode.


The Wire

Well, probably my favorite TV show ever, THE WIRE, had its finale last night. It was an extremely satisfying coda for the show, at times uplifting, at times utterly heartbreaking, but always rewarding. I really don't want to say too much about it, both because I don't want to unintentionally spoil anything for any of my friends who have yet to take my sage advice and start watching the damn thing , and because I feel like others have already said anything I would say and said it better (That said, I would love to hear what the rest of you have to say about it, so please, comment away!). Suffice to say, it was a hell of lot better than that other finale, the "brilliance" of which I still have yet to discover.

Anyway, I just really wanted to say something about this great show, and tie it into the blog in some way. Unfortunately, about the only aspect from THE WIRE that fits alongside my artistic sensibilities is probably Nick Sobatka's girlfriend Aimee from Season Two (remember her? And those?). So, here's all I got...a little sketch of the lovely Beadie Russell (played by Amy Ryan), doodled while watching the aforementioned Season Two for the third time.


Life Drawrin'

The last few Sunday nights I've been going to a life drawing session I found out about through the Richmond Illustrators Club. It's been a really fun thing to do, educational and quite daunting, as I haven't drawn from a live model in about a million years. I took several life drawing classes in high school and college, but like many aspiring comic artists at that age, I was a complete idiot...I didn't take it seriously, and learned absolutely nothing. I wanted to draw like Mike Mignola and Adam Hughes, not George Bridgman! It's a wonder my brain could generate the thought necessary to continue breathing.

Anyway, the now: I think some of these drawings might be okay, but honestly, I have no idea...they could be horrible. The consistent problem I have is that, after decades of drawing, I "know" what a foot or a hand looks like, so when I sit down to draw a live model or from a photograph, my brain draws from memory rather than drawing what's right in front of me. It's a difficult thing to get over, and I've really been making a conscious effort to do so.



Haven't had much time to just sit around and draw lately...I've been pretty busy with paying gigs and all my "spare" time has been spent working on SELLOUT. But I did manage to knock these out this evening after everybody went to bed. Actually, I think most of these drawings suck, but I do like the one on the bottom right. Back to the drawing board (literally), I guess.

"Your Call Cannot Be Completed as Dialed..."

An odd, but nonetheless fun illo of a melted rotary telephone, from last week's issue of the Portland (ME) Phoenix.