Saturday, 16 August 2008

Productive Day

In addition to most of the work on the post below, I also had to tinker with three pics for somebody else today but managed to actually layout (I didn't do full pencils other than the main figure and wolf head) and ink that Zenecope cover. While it doesn't have the Image-style plastic beauty that alot of their covers do (though I like their frog prince cover), I'm fairly happy with it. It's not great but is OK---I quite liked how Red Riding Hood turned out but think really the pose I put her in wasn't right for the skirt...the figure was sketched out first to ensure proportions was as accurate as possible but when I placed the shirt over, it lost much of the structure.

Still, I'll bung it in with the submission package anyway!

I'd meant to start working out the new Back Issue article today but never had the time---tomorrow will find me either working on that or Marvel samples.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Zen and the Art of Submissions

Well, I've got enough pages to be able to send off a few samples to a few places. Combining the three pencilled Spidey pages Rol wrote, the Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane pages (after a quick 1-minute tweak last night to one bit of skewed perspective pointed out to me by my mate Martin) and some of the Jock pages (most pages I can live with for #2 but most have some error or other on them), I've decided to get these out to a few unusual targets.

I'm sending one lot to Bob McLeod at Rough Stuff magazine, which features a column called Rough Critique that finds him critiquing samples. I'm still gearing up for some superhero stuff but I'm happy enough with the above pencils to brave the flack I'll no doubt receive. I've sent the same samples to Panini UK as they seem to run the occasional original piece and there's no harm trying, right? The last publisher I'm submitting to now is Zenescope, publisher of a few licensed titles and Grimm Fairy Tales, an "Image-sexy" modern retelling of various fairy tales.

You shouldn't really submit other publisher's characters but it's all I have for the minute so I've started to do a Grimm Fairy Tale cover to reflect their material. Choosing Red Riding Hood, I pencilled the main figure and then placed the clothes over the figure frame. However, when inked, I thought the figure looked funny and misproportioned so I scanned it in to see how it looks at a reduced size and I THINK it's OK...but I don't want to waste my time any further on this if it's a lost cause at this early stage.

What say you?

Monday, 11 August 2008

Gwen Will I See You Again: The Lightbox Liberties

After completing another batch of A-Z characters yesterday (as seen below), I decided to pull out my lightbox and experiment with it in preparation for tweaking The Jock #1. I dragged out an old Gwen Stacy pic that I always mostly liked but a rogue lock of hair and some quite scritchy finishing always irked me so I decided to try and save that pic by inking it onto a new piece of paper using the lightbox.

It was actually quite a weird experience, as the light was so powerful even through two sheets of paper that I couldn't actually clearly see the black inklines I was putting down...the light was just bright enough to shine through, meaning I was virtually tracing by instinct, trusting my fingers to point the pen in the right direction as I couldn't actually tell if it WAS the right direction. Even switching pens made no difference.

The results were not the best...slightly shaky linework instead of more confident lines and some of the finer detail was lost as I couldn't precisely tell where I was drawing. This effect was worsened when I went in with a smaller penpoint to tidy up some of he rougher lines.

Still, overall I think I prefer the new version as it's bolder and less cluttered. I think in future I'll use a pencil to draw over the elements I want to correct and ink the corrections away from the lightbox. I don't know how people draw full pages from the lightbox but it's a handy tool to have...

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Bowen To Demand

Walking in to London's Forbidden Planet this left me oohing over the huge glass display case as usual, chock full of great looking statues. The output of different companies can be variable, with Diamond's marvel statues and busts being pretty much the worst by far---but the market leader is easily Bowen Designs.

Formed by sculptor Randy Bowen but now utilising the variable talents of other sculptors (the best looking work is frequently produced by Bowen himself), Bowen Designs deals mainly in producing resin bust and statues of comic characters, primarily retaining the Marvel license. Expense keeps these out of my general reach but I have picked up a few (starting with the Cyclops minibust that grabbed my intention at the Sheffield space Centre) over the years, although I have sold a few on since.

I don't know what the market for these is now but at one time I had a few busts that were worth over £300, which explains why I couldn't afford to pick up the Ant-Man and Black Bolt busts after becoming interested in these things. Generally the actual choice of character grabs my eye but sometimes it's the sculpt itself that draws my attention. Often its seeing the things in person rather than in the solicitations that make me go "oooh" every time I go into Nostalgia & Comics in Birmingham, currently displaying a rather impressive BD Iron Fist statue. Frequently the sculptures perfectly capture the characters as I've always envisioned them but with the prime characters now fairly well covered (often in variant versions, such as the 60s, 70s and 00s Captain Marvel minibust or brown and yellow versions of Wolverine), there are some more surprising (Tarantula, Jack of Hearts, etc) but still welcome releases due. More surprising are such choices as Mangog, AIM agents and even the six-armed Spider-Man (from the 70s) and Thor the Thunderfrog!!

So as a tip of the hat to the talent of Bowen, and sometimes his subordinates, here's a look at some of my favourite pieces...

Friday, 8 August 2008

I'M 37?!!

'K, yesterday was me birthday so I took the opportunity to shoot off to London and quickly hit the four central comic chops, all conveniently located mere minutes' walk away from the next one.

Starting at Gosh, one of my favourite comic shops, I picked up the softcover JMS/Ribic Silver Surfer trade, Shamballah (featuring Arthur Ranson's Judge Anderson, I character I always liked but who usually suffers from art not to my taste) and The Strange World of Steve Ditko. While adding to my newly regenerating pile of books to get through, this was an odd choice for me as I'm not a huge Ditko fan, although I'd sooner read his stuff than Kirby's. However, the book's had great reviews and looked great so I decided to pick it up---although the inside sleeve lists Ditko as originating the design for the Hulk, which he never (although his inking over Kirby on the strip was great).

Then popped in briefly to Comicana, an odd back issue den that is run by a guy who has a till but writes every purchase down in a book despite also having a laptop open next to him! I was looking for Magneto back issues and a Jurgens-era Teen Titans Annual that I just discovered John Cassaday drew but came out empty handed.

I then made my way over to the main Forbidden Planet, which always wows me with its stunning 6 meter glass cabinet displaying some great statues, busts and odd merchandise. I picked up a Darwyn Cooke-illustrated Jonah Hex issue (with a surprisingly good script--although the crisp computer lettering doesn't really suit the ambiance of the story) and located some Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane digests and decided to keep an eye out for the upcoming second hardcover as I enjoyed the first one. However, I made the mistake of sampling Terry Moore and Humberto Ramos' first issue, which looked bloody awful.

A quick trip to Orbital comics and then I was off home as I decided I do still hate London now. Plus, it stinks. Birmingham and New York are both so much better.

In the afternoon, my mate Martin dropped around and shared a few cans before deciding we should hit the local pub for a few quick drinks around 5.00---we didn't leave till 11.40 and I got pretty plastered. While my head is fine today, I'm definitely feeing slightly dehydrated today and a bit knackered. Luckily, I'm in training and not having to handle a ton of aggravating calls today.

The reason we stayed in the pub is essentially due to the 24-year old new landlady. The pub was empty apart from us for all but about an hour and as we got talking, we discovered she had previously been on a film course and as we got gabbing further, we found out she was into comic book movies, Kevin Smith movies, horror films and tons of general stuff that had us sparking all night. At the end of the night she actually thanked us for being her first interesting customers and she even loaned me a DVD, for which I said I shall try and reciprocate when I return the DVD. It was so cool to go in for a quick sherbet and unexpectedly finding somebody with such similar interests that led to hours of conversation.

Generally it may not sound astounding, but I have to say I had a pretty groovy birthday this year!

Monday, 4 August 2008

Back Issue 29 Out Now

Well, it seems like ages since I was first offered the chance to write a history of Captain Britain (and it was--around a year ago!), but Back Issue #29 is now out featuring said article. Due to airmail lags, my comp copies have yet to arrive and my ordered copy (for I have been buying it since #1) isn't due for a while yet either, I decided to download the PDF version from the Twomorrows website, just out of curiosity.

I was quite surprised to find mine was the joint longest feature in terms of page count so it's quite a heft, and the PDF has the added bonus of colour graphics. I've not read the mag via PDF as I prefer something in my hands (oo-er, missus!) but it looks like there's gonna be plenty in there to appeal to this former X-fan. My article looks great apart from a gimpy googly-eyed self portrait that in retrospect was a bad idea and I should have dug out some photos somewhere.

Had a great time writing this and editor Michael Eury was really great to work, never shy about guiding the article along but always leaving enough room to make the necessary changes myself. A subsequent article on Rick Jones got cut out of the upcoming teen issue (with a great Perez New Teen Titans cover, another favourite comic of mine as a kid) but I'm set to start on a new feature about Magneto's turn to heroism in the 80s. This is another cool assignment for me, only I've realised two things:

1. This is another interruption when I'm trying to get some samples done for BrumCon, d'oh!

2. After reading through my X-Men back issues, I discovered that there are considerable gaps in my collection I've read but no longer have (New Mutants, Secret Wars, Vision & Scarlet Witch and X-Men vs Avengers, I'm looking at you!) so research may be a bit of a bugger!

Anyway, I'm off to watch Family Guy soon (with the mute button during the title sequence)....