Tuesday, April 15, 2014

9x9in White Rabbit from Alice In Wonderland

So, this was for a commission that was meant to be 3in by 3in. I accidentally ended up making it 9x9. Argh!  Fortunately there's time to correct the mistake, but here it is:

I think I might have a home for it though. And here's the original sketch:

As usual, there are things I captured in the sketch, that I didn't in the finish, and things in the finish that the sketch doesn't capture. Either way, I don't think this is my definitive take on this particular character.  I'm still happy with it though!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Another Gingerbread Man Rough. The Fox Gets Foxy

So I figured it was past time I posted some art. I've been spending much of my time stuffing envelopes for my Kickstarter project lately, and fulfilling my other Kickstarter obligations, so here's some art from my Gingerbread Man project:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why Pat Boyette's Korg: 70,000 B.C. Is One of the Greatest Comics of All Time

Pat Boyette is one of the great unsung heroes of comics.

 Boyette's best known work is from Warren's Creepy and Eerie magazines and  the much maligned, Charlton, and Charlton is where he did one of the greatest comics of all time, Korg: 70,000 BCCharlton was a company from Derby Connecticut that printed their comics on the cheapest paper with the cheapest coloring on their own presses, and notoriously paid their talent the lowest rates. But Charlton also offered its talent more creative freedom than they could get just about anywhere else, and artists like Steve Ditko and Pat Boyette were largely left alone to do what they wanted.

Boyette made up for Charlton's cheap page rates by producing a ton of work, working on numerous Charlton titles at once during the late 60s and 70s. He did everything, soup to nuts: pencils,inks, letters and sometimes scripts and fully painted covers. He famously did a complete issue of Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt in under a week. Sometimes, as a result, his work could look rushed, but at Charlton Boyette was given free reign to do some of the most formally experimental work of that era, on a book that nobody cared about. Korg: 10,000 BC, based on a pretty awful short-lived TV series. But Boyette made Korg his own.

Here's one of Boyette's typical painted covers:

Korg wasn't exactly great literature. Yes it looks kind of trashy. And this is the problem with a lot of comics, particularly from the past: some of the best storytelling wasn't always in the service of the best stories.

 But dismiss Korg at your own peril! If you're into comics, you should be into Korg. Why? Because of stuff like this:

This page is all diagonals and reads, not from left to right, but clockwise. Who does that?

Or this page:

Since Boyette did his own lettering (a rare thing in newstand comics at the time) he was able to use word balloons to guide the eye from left to right and then right to left again. but check out that second panel: 

Not only does the action go from right to left, but so does time. The guy on the right throws the spear, and then the middle guy says, "look out!"  But that's not the cool part!

 He switches the action seamlessly because the arrow is launched between panels, carrying us from left to right again. We don't see the arrow being shot, but the implication of the direction of the arrow changes the direction of the action. He emphasizes this forward momentum by having the stricken character lunge into the next panel.

This page looks to be shot from the original artwork, so you can see the art in it's original black and white, before Charlton coloring and bad printing had a chance to dull Boyette's line.

This one's a little more confusing. Now we have three panels. As the two men are attacked, we see a full figure shot of  one and a reaction shot of the other, each panel a kind of montage, with the last image in the second panel a reaction shot of the first as he struggles with the rope around his neck. At least I assume it's the first guy. Since they both look exactly the same, the rope is the only way we can tell one from the other. In the last panel, the action is joined together in one scene, and you have this sense that the action all happened very quickly, maybe even simultaneously.

I don't think this page entirely works, but it's still very ballsy, and typical of the kind of invention that you see again and again in Korg. Not every experiment worked, but nobody was trying this stuff, and Charlton was the perfect place to do it, because no one was watching. Boyette experimented with diagonals and other formal inventions in earlier stories, like Children of Doom from Charlton Premiere in the 60s:

(Back when the color printing was particularly bad) but never quite to the degree of Korg

Which is why Korg is one of the greatest comics of all time. Am I wrong?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

In Search of Moebius' Aedena Cycle in English Translation

For reasons I can't entirely understand, U.S. translations of the late Jean Giraud's alter ego are rare in the states. In the 80s and early 90s, there were a series of graphic novels released by Marvel Comics Epic imprint. This was how I was introduced to Moebius' work. This was the first of those to be released.

When I bought this at 14, I was immediately hooked. If you're familiar with Moebius' work, I don't have to tell you why. If you don't know, I recommend you Google him immediately. Other collections included short stories and longer works, classics like The Long Tomorrow (which inspired the look of the film, Bladerunner) and The Airtight Garage, an strip that was completely improvised in three and four page episodes, and continues to be one of my favorite works. But Upon a Star not only one was my first discovery of Moebius, but the first in a series called The Aedena Cycle that completely kicked ass.

Upon a Star was a commission done for the dealership of a car manufacturer called the Citroen, but eventually turned into one of his most enduring and personal works. The first three books of this series were easy enough to find  in the states when they were first released: Upon a Star, The Gardens of Aedena and The Goddess. After that the search became a little more difficult. 

Stel was released in this now near impossible to find volume that I had the privilege of reading, but not owning a couple of years ago:

I think this was written when Giraud was just getting out of a a religious cult he had been involved in, and was unusually bleak for the series. 

The fifth wasn't reprinted at all, a book called,  Sra:

What I think is a  fan translated version is out there, or if it's not fan translated, it had a very limited run. The sixth had an even stranger release.

Concrete Earth Day, that featured a story done by Paul Chadwick about his signature character, Concrete, and a few others, included another story, a wordless story by Moebius.

So when recently I got the French version of the final Aedena book, Les Reparateurs,

I discovered that the story was very familar, most of it from the Earth Day book. Here are a few of the pages that were, for whatever reason, omitted in the reprinted story:

Part of me was a bit disappointed that I had seen the material before, part of me bewildered that it would be reprinted without any mention or acknowledgement that it was the final installment of the Aedena Cycle. Why had it been released with so little acknowledgement or fanfare? Moebius was still a big deal at the time.

While Moebius' collaboration with Jodorowsky, The Incal, has recently been reprinted for the U.S. Market, very little of his other work has seen English translation in recent years, including his very last album, A final story about one of his most iconic characters, Arzach.  For us Moebius fans, it's a bit daunting.

I lended out The Airtight Garage so often, that it's no longer in my possession, and these days, will cost me upwards of $100 to replace. There was a digest-sized sequel to the Airtight Garage released in the 90s by Dark Horse, but it seemed to be unfinished, and I'm wondering if it was ever continued.

Some day I'm sure there will be a beautiful hardbound collection of Moebius' complete works in English translation, but until then, unless you're willing to shell out hundreds of dollars, his work in translation remains hard to find. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Cheetah Studies (Sans Spots)

Here are some more Cheetah studies for a commission I'm working on, just figuring out the anatomy. I didn't bother to put in the spots so they don't exactly look like Cheetahs, but you get the idea.