Monday, March 24, 2014

Thunder Agents covers

These are the sketches I did for the current IDW series of Thunder Agents. The second sketch was used for a later cover in the series. They're both up for bid on Ebay, at:

Thunder Agents cover sketches on EBAY

This was a lot of fun, and if you haven't picked up the new Thunder Agents series, you're missing a good read!

trademark and copyright 2014 by the respective rights holders, and used for educational purposes only.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Illegitimates #2 cover demo

 I did this sketch for the cover, inspired by a movie poster I had remembered. I produced a movie poster type-graphic for the first issue, and wanted to try the same approach here. I was very happy that the creators liked this sketch, because I was happy with it myself. I sketched this with markers on paper, then added tones in photoshop, because I wanted the silhouette shape to read clearly.
 Here is the line art, done in quill pen, some brush and Pelikan drawing ink.

Finally, I scanned and opened it in Photoshop, for coloring. Being pretty new to computer painting, I spent a few days on this stage. I put more rendering into the small details than I needed, but have a hard time with the zoom view. My palette was made up of k-free colors, because I like the clean and bright aspect of colors without grey in the mix. And the black line art pops more this way.

Illegitimates#2 ships January 15th from IDW. Ask for this variant cover.

Illegitimates is trademark and copyright 2014 Immature Enterprises, used for promotional purposes.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Superman versus Nazis poster concepts

Back around the time we created the time travel storyline for Superman, called Time and Time Again, DC had started selling posters again, so I was asked to paint  a poster that could be sold, and also serve to promote our storyline. I started with these three sketches, done rough and sent to the poster editor.



These are on ebay now, click the LINK TO EBAY

Sketch number 1 was chosen, and I drew this tight prelim as a guide for painting. I used marker, so that it would photocopy cleanly. I taped the photocopy over a piece of canvas board, slipped a sheet of home made carbon paper (tracing paper covered with a black chalk) underneath and then traced over the lines on the copy, transferring the chalk layer onto the canvas board. Next I painted the piece in acrylics.
This is a photo of the finished poster, which has been on my studio door long enough to get dinged up:)

Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright 2013 by DC Entertainment.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Power of Shazam#18, prelim to finished cover

Here's another preliminary drawing I did, before the painting stage on Power of Shazam#18. I worked out detail, and composition, and also set my perspective on tracing paper (vellum) at same size as the cover art (11 x17"). I used a lightbox  to transfer this image in pencil, to a sheet of 2 ply Strathmore bristol board, and then applied the watercolor paint to the clean board.

    I wanted a warm feel, with sunlight coming through the window, but still wanted it to read "hospital room" with the green radiator. With watercolors on large areas, you have to work fast, and apply color uniformly. That's always a challenge, but with the board taped down to keep it from wrinkling, I apply water to the entire area I want to lay a specific color to, and this helps with drying time, so you can swab paint down into damp paper.
     At this stage, I am pretty sure I hadn't had a clear visual on the menace whose hands are coming for Mary Marvel, except that he'd have been horribly scarred. Peter Krause was drawing the comic's interiors from my scripts, and I believe he actually designed the villain.
     Anyhow, the only other thing to add, is that I used a photo of my wife in this pose, to capture the lighting more realistically. I don't do this very often, but it helps when you want a realistic effect. I think in this case, it made for a more dramatic cover.



Power of Shazam, and all related characters are trademark and copyright 2013 by DC Entertainment, and used here for educational purposes.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

JSA guests in Captain Carrot!

Just ran across an old photocopy of this Captain Carrot page by Scott Shaw, with an appearance by the JSA in the lower left panel, drawn by me. I guess since DC has put the Captain Carrot showcase back on their publishing schedule, this might be relevant. I did a few things like this that kind of flew under the radar. The photocopy was supplied in two pieces, probably by Roy Thomas, in the days before scanners and home printers.  

Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew, as well as other related characters are trademark and copyright 2013 by DC Entertainment, and used for educational purposes.

Monday, September 2, 2013

All Star Squadron Annual #2 cover fun!

So I was scanning art recently, and was reminded of this situation-- where I did a cover and then started over because I was bothered by how it turned out. My memory is a bit hazy, but I am thinking this was  perhaps drawn from a rough sketch supplied by DC, perhaps by Ed Hannigan? I have great respect for Ed, if this was the case, and I drew many covers in 1984-1985 from Ed's cover roughs, but I occasionally had a hard time when an idea would "fight" me. Regardless of the sketch source, this one is clearly publishable, though the flow of it bothered me.


If this had happened today, I would have been tempted to just redraw a few elements and move the rest around in Photoshop to get what I wanted. In 1982 or 1983, I just light-boxed the first one, flopping the main villain from left to right, and lined up the heroes on one side, with the villains on the other. When satisfied, I put a sheet of tracing paper over the cover and pulled out the Design brand markers to draw a color rough, and get dizzy from the marker fumes.


 I wasn't officially paid as a colorist on these covers, but in 90 percent of them, I did a color guide. I suppose this was given to the colorist to follow or not. It wasn't until I worked on Superman that I was allowed to officially color my covers, after a few botched color jobs by others who misinterpreted my guides. At the time, comic colorists were generally trained to use great contrast, and bright color, for the most part. The subtlety of Jack Adler or Stan Goldberg and Marie Severin of the 1960's was mostly gone. Having drawn the images, I knew what I wanted, and also knew that much of what I liked came from inkers who colored their own work, like Klaus Janson and Tom Palmer, at Marvel. Klaus' work on Daredevil was so eye-opening to most of us working in that time, that we all wondered why we couldn't get that level of color on our books. Well, the important thing was that an artist understands the work he or she draws, and while not all have a great color sense, many do.

But comics has always been assembly-line work, and the thinking is that if you are a penciller, you should use your time pencilling, not coloring, or even inking. (forget wanting to write!)

So, in honor of Labor Day, I salute all the comic creators who fought to climb out of their niches to also write, ink, color, publish, edit, whatever. Our generation of creators helped to break the assembly line, but we also broke the notion that comics were "just a job."

All Star Squadron, and all related characters are trademark and copyright 2013 by DC Entertainment. Used here for educational purposes.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Power of Shazam#9 from sketch to finish

Started with this, which was a sketch for DC's promo book for that year, and meant ultimately for an issue of the Power of Shazam. The story in the comic at this point had introduced Mary Marvel and her nemesis Madame Libertine, as well as Captain Marvel Jr and Captain Nazi, so the idea was that this would be a big fight, with the demon Blaze behind the scenes, pulling the strings.


The issue this was slotted for turned out to be Power of Shazam#9, and here I drew a full sized prelim on tracing paper, fairly tightly rendered. This was then traced using a lightbox, onto 2-ply kidd finish Strathmore art paper, in pencil.

Ebay link for prelim here

The color art was done using washes of Dr Martin's watercolor dyes, a very vibrant and transparent medium. Then I often used colored Prismacolor pencils to add extra shading, and also some black ink to punch up the whole thing. These paintings were photographed as film transparencies, and then digitized for print, because we found that digital scanners tended to lose subtleties due to the scanner lights basically bouncing through the color and reflecting back the white of the paper too much. Opaque medium such as gouache or acrylic seem to scan truer, but it generally took me too long painting that way. DC solved the problem, so I continued with the transparent watercolors. What is seen below is the printed comic cover, with the logo and copy in place.


Power of Shazam, and all related characters are trademark and copyright 2013 by DC Entertainment, and used for educational purposes. No further reproduction of these images is allowed or authorized by the rights holder.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Adventures of Superman#441: a tale of two covers

Hey all, I thought I'd post something from the archives. 
This first image is an attempt at a cover to Adventures of Superman#441, and was based on a rough sketch by editor Mike Carlin. I don't seem to have that sketch here, so feel free to imagine Mike's cartoon style rendering a similar layout!
 I fought this one, because Mike's idea conveyed a kind of slapstick humor that I just couldn't pull off to my satisfaction. This is technically fine, and would have been accepted, but I was just not feeling it, so I went back to the drawing table.

 This wound up as the finished cover, and I think it ultimately fits in better, in tone, with what we were selling with the Superman relaunch. Basically we wanted a Superman who could sweat, not effortlessly breeze through very adventure. The interior story, though, is pretty slap-stick in tone. By the time you cracked the comic open, you had already bought it, and enjoyed a light-hearted Myxyzptlk story.
If you are interested in either of these originals, email an offer to ordwayweb@gmail.com
I've had these since 1988, so no lowball offers, okay?

Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright 2013 by DC Entertainment, and used here for educational purposes only.