Thursday, 27 January 2011

Sniffle Piffles

Blasted flu has wiped me out for a few days but I'm getting my strength back and should be heading back to the slave pits tomorrow. Tons of stuff I could have been doing but had the energy to do nothing but lie down for three days!

Anyway, just thought I'd post some random bobbins:

During our regular pub sessions in Brum, we often end up filling A5 pads with numerous sketches. I uploaded some to Facebook recently but thought I'd try and colour this Amy Pond (drawn as it was the Who finale that day and we were discussing t inbetween sips of alcoholic beverages). It's not great but thought I'd post it as something a bit different. By the way, talking of different stuff: stick my name in on Amazon (or apparently WHSMiths or Waterstones, apparently) and the second humour book I've illustrated should show, a bit ruder than the first one but nothing TOO bad...though there are a couple of images I'm not putting up here!

Finally saw the Richard Donner cut of Superman II and have to say, it's a lot stronger than the theatrical version. It feels shorter and follows the original fairly closely (as most of that was shot simultaneously with the first movie by Donner anyway) but tonally and thematically is a lot stronger than the campier original. Gone at last are the bloody stupid animated cellophane S shield Superman throws at the end and his stupid new powers like the memory loss-inducing kiss and lasers from his hands: Zod still shows telekinetic abilities in one scene, but who's to say he did not have this ability already?

Lara is excised completely and Marlon Brando reinserted for some strong father/son stuff with messianic overtones. What at first look scenes set on Krypton from the first film are actuallyy not: they are the same scenes and takes but using footage shot from differing camera coverage, so the scenes are familiar but actually observed from a whole new direction.

A few new FX shots have been added as missing film had been cobbled together from numerous sources around the globe. As a result, some of Richard Lester's directed scenes remain to maintain continuity and a scene never shot for the film but used as screen tests for Reeves and Kidder has been reinserted. Quality of the image doesn't alter but it is amusing to watch their hairstyles jump around a lot! I never could take to Kidder as Lois but have to admit she was quite attractive in the right light. Still can't beat Erica Durance's Lois...

Talking of, attached above are the actors set to play Blue Beetle, Booster Gold and the new Blue Beetle in Smallville. Although his appearance was hinted at but never confirmed, Ted Kord definitely appears, though probably not as the Blue Beetle.

Proof copy of something I put together turned up and had great reproduction. Unfortunately, three pages were printed at the wrong ratio so when this is rectified, should be something new out in a few weeks, nothing major but something to hopefully gee me up into drawing properly again...

...although I do have a few illustrations to do by end of February, as well as prepare a talk for a small press show in March, so I'm gonna busy for the next month or so, as well as possibly starting therapy. Although I've been held in a weekly prep group for months, I've comparatively steamed ahead as only four other people have gone forward in this time. Still keeping my head down for a month or so to recover my pennies as there's a holiday in May to prepare for too.

Despite being off on the sick, plenty to keep me occupied once I get back to health!

Saturday, 22 January 2011


Despite admiring the visual storytelling, I always found Dave Sim's Cerebus pretty impenetrable and could never really get into it. However, after sampling a copy before buying the run off of eBay, I have to admit enjoying his current Glamourpuss series.

Using the football adage, Glamourpuss is a game of two halves. For me, the first half is inconsistent but occasionally interesting. This would be the fashion magazine parody material, a one-time limited joke spread thin over each issue. Using fashion magazine adverts and articles as a source, Sim peppers each issue with numerous splashes lifted from the mags but adding his own subversive text. Sometimes, the sarcastic humour hits the mark and is amusing but never hilarious, but mostly the text is just something to wade through before getting on to the real meat of the series' subject matter.

Despite the format, Glamourpuss is not a comic but an illustrated treatise on comic art, particularly the photorealist school founded by Flash Gordon creator Alex Raymond and continued by Al Williamson, a hero and huge influence on Sim. In fact, there's very little drawing in Glamourpuss as the fashion drawings are not actualy redrawn but lightboxed directly. This is fine, as Sim is not presenting these as original drawings and even shows his methods on Youtube. Sim chose fashion mags as he just wants to draw attractive women (though for my money, fashion models are usually sickly thin) and is using them while focussing on his real interest: inking techniques.

He is attempting to capture as much of the essence of Williamsn's inking in these recreations and he also lightboxes original art from numerous sources but primarily Alex Raymond, specifically his Rip Kirby strip. In doing so, he is trying to ape the inking methods these classic artists used in an attempt to deconstruct and learn the process for himself.

As someone who has been delving into the work of Raymond, Foster, Williamson, Wood, Caniff (who's stuff I couldn't take to) and other classic artists for the last few years, this side of Glamourpuss is of great interest as it is an education in comic history as well as a primer in inking technique.

It won't be for everybody, but Glamourpuss holds more than enough fascination for me at the moment to add it to my regular buying list...

Thursday, 20 January 2011


So, Magneto, Moira MacTaggert, Emma Frost, Azazel (hoodafug?), Beast, Havok, ????, Mystique, Professor X....
Like the classic-inspired designs, Havok looks cool can Emma Frost be like this AND in Wolverine Origins? Was the Beast cameo in X2 using an Amazing Adventures-era mask to disguise the fact that Hank is a furry mutant?
Anne Hawathay as Catwoman and Tom Hardy as BANE?....

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Mucha Do About Nowt

Thanks to the Works, I got my grubbies on a humongous book devoted to famed Czech artist Alphonse Mucha, the first artist to successfully balance careers as a commercial and fine artist. I began reading the book but soon gave and pored over the artwork instead.

I can't paint: I haven't the dexterity or colour awareness but I can draw (to what degree is open to debate :) ) and perhaps this is why I'm enamoured by Mucha's work as I can relate to it because of his drawn line work. I came to Mucha through Adam Hughes' homages but looking at this book, I can see hints of his work showing in the art of other comic artists such as P Craig Russell and Kaluta.

I love the effortless-looking but spot on line work and intricate designs, the soft colour palettes and the personalities of his subjects. What I don't like are his faces: classical and well drawn but plain faced, wonky-nosed and straddled with unfortunate hairdos.

Thus, the next piece of art I produce will probably another, more confident attempt at swiping Mucha's style but featuring a completely contemporary modern woman. How things turn out remains to be seen, but will posted when complete so be warned...

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Axel Grease

Well, it's the start of a new years and some big news with Axel Alonso replacing Joe Quesada as editor in chief, after a 10-year spell in the role that makes him the second longest serving Marvel EIC after Stanny boy. I'm cautiously optimistic: having briefly talked to Alonso at a Bristol convention, he seems like an intelligent guy and he's well respected within the industry (other than the infamous Darwyn Cooke fight).

I'm a Marvelite at heart but I feel the company is in such a creatively bankrupt mess that the only stuff I've bought from them over the past few years has been the Dark Tower and Stand collections. I'm hoping Alonso will bring a new vision and reinvigorate the company as Quesada did but there are two points that make me rub my chin with suspicion: Quesada remains as Chief Creative Officer so his vision may still trump Alonso's but if not, Alonso has apparently been performing some of the EIC tasks for a while anyway so maybe some of Marvel's current fare is his fault anyway.

My lack of interest in Marvel's current output makes me think back to the 80s and 90s...I grew up with comics in the 70s but was really excited by them in the late 80s and early 90s when I could afford to buy more stuff and there was lots of fun, interesting stuff coming out. Somewhere along the way, I've lost that pure joy of comics. I still love the medium and adore some work I pick up, but that zeal has long gong.

I have kept a few classic runs: Uncanny X-Men, JLI, Preacher, Starman, New Teen Titans, the Giffen LSH, David Hulks, etc but by and large I'm currently enjoying more work found slightly off the mainstream. Manga and Euro comics have made up a small part of my reading but I really enjoy rediscovering older work from artists who could REALLY draw: 80s fare like Stevens' Rocketeer or Schultz's Xenozoic Tales and classics like Wally Wood's sci fi work, Williamson's work, Frazetta's comic work and Raymond's Flash Gordon.

Currently I'm nearing the point where I can dip into a collection of Williamson's work and a collection of unknown (in the UK) 1950s newspaper strips, with a Frazetta collection eagerly awaited. These older works have also led to a comic series I've been grabbing back issues of, which will probably be the subject of an upcoming post...

Sunday, 2 January 2011

New Year Gubbins

Unlike most, I'm pretty pessimistic about 2011. It's kicked off with a serious financial dampener for me, Cameron & Clegg (Camegg?) are sure to push the country closer to the edge of social ruin and there's still major uncertainty regarding my longtime employment due to various proposed changes.

On the plus side, got a free holiday, won some free bowling games and may finally start therapy, if I'm lucky so it's not all gloom and doom, just mostly....

The Xmas break has enabled me to catch up on some much-needed rest and to get stuck into my read pile: I'm nearing the first Williamson Secret Agent X9 hardcover at last! Finances and lack of gray scale printing at the printer I was considering mean that the new collection I've cobbled together (featuring only 5 pages of comics, but it is new...ish), so thankfully I don't have to use the Powerpuff Girls pic above as a rear cover. Not sure about that at all, but I also came across some nice Steve Rude pics of the Marvel Family so for fun, I quickly coloured them and put them together.

Dunno when Smallville will be back on E4 but I'm still waiting to see Beetle and Booster. In the meantime, here's their version of Mera...