Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
The Fantastic Four. I'm a pretty big fan of Jack Kirby's original interpretation of The Thing in the first issue of the book. He was less refined, more monstrous and sad, yet at the same time more likeable. There was something very blue collar to that Thing that visually you don't seem to get with more modern versions. I picture the Thing being the type of guy to throw on his hat and trench coat and go grab a beer after work. He doesn't need to be anatomically muscular to seem hard and tough. My Mr. Fantastic was modelled after Francesco Meo, my good friend and former roommate. Sue Storm was based on my wife's best friend Stefania.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Second piece of the Marvel poster. This one was probably the most fun the draw, seeing as I loved getting into the Hulk's anatomy. Unfortunately, my rendition of Daredevil here just isn't quite up to snuff. This was before I tackled the DD covers and didn't really feel like I had a good enough vision for him. I almost ALWAYS go back to the original incarnations of the characters and read some of the first few issues before doing a new character. In this case, I skipped over DD and went straight for the Hulk and my favoritism shows. Couldn't help it. I'll pick monsters over costumed guys every time.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Some people still may not have seen this as it was never published in the states. Panini Comics commissioned me to do a huge, interconnecting cover for the Lucca convention a few years ago. Originally it was intended to be a series of alternate covers for 5 of their Marvel books. It was the first time I ever tackled the Marvel characters and I was thrilled to be able to do it in such a huge fashion. As it turned out, they printed the entire image as one big gatefold cover, sans the Spider-man section.
I'm going to post the whole poster over the course of the week and talk a bit about each one, but definitely wanted to start with the Spider-Man image. Out of all the characters I knew had to be featured, Spidey was the one I dreaded the most. All that webbing on the costume, the weird poses, etc.... How could I make it believable?!? You know you have problems when you're thinking how you can make a dude who got bit by a radioactive spider and gifted with super-powers 'believable'.
In the end, it wasn't my favorite piece but I definitely feel like I cracked how to make the character fun for me to draw. I think I've said this here before, but I'm really a firm believer that the costume should look hand made and NOT cool. I like the idea that the webbing looks sloppy and asymmetrical. I mean, essentially Peter Parker was a bit of a cosplayer. ,) I remember thinking to myself as a kid, 'How come you can't see where his mask attaches to the shirt?'. The solution: you can.
More to come....
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Over at The Source, DC has unveiled the cover for the new Luthor hardcover as well as a couple new story pages. They asked me to write a little something up, so I tried to provide a bit of information in regards to the new and improved, 'director's cut' of Brian Azzarello's and my 2005 mini series LEX LUTHOR: MAN OF STEEL. This was such a treat to get to do. For reasons I wont go into here, that mini always felt unfinished and the fact that the powers that be over at DC have allowed us to tinker with the book as much as we have is really unprecedented.
The book should be out this month. SO nice to finally see it in hardcover form after five years. Wow..... has it really been five years?!?!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
The only thing I could think of when posting this was, 'It's such a fucking shame I have nothing newer to show with these characters'. Had to DIG just to find this, and it's a shitty old jpeg.
Wildstorm, as I knew it, has been no more for some time now. That said, when the news hit yesterday that it was official, it still greatly saddened me. I grew up there, literally. From 18 years of age until I was 25, that place was my home and the people that worked there, like a second family. So much of who I am and what I do today is wrapped up in those halls. Without getting into maudlin territory, here, I feel like this is the end of a dream I had as a fifteen year old boy. Wildstorm studios, then Homage studios, seemed like the absolute pinnacle of what was going on in comics at the moment back in 92/93, and I desperately wanted to be a part of it. Most of this was thanks to the work that the younger artists were doing there at the time. Aron Weisenfeld, Mike Lopez, and Whilce Portacio were people who were inspiring me greatly and I couldn't imagine what it would be like to work alongside these folks. It seemed like the kind of place that allowed a young artist to grow and experiment, while learning from the best of the best.
It was true and I got my wish...
...well mostly. By the time I made it into the studio in July of 1997, all of those guys where gone. I was the last official intern (as part of the original internship program that spawned other amazing artists like Carlos, D'Anda, J.J. Kirby, Ale Garza, etc.) and things at the studio had already changed dramatically. With the heyday of Image Comics fading into the rear view mirror, the studio had already gone through a major re-structure and I was brought in to do consumer products artwork. Two years later(?) DC bought Wildstorm, and things changed again. I was lucky as hell to have stayed on, and all the sudden it was like the little fishes in the small pond got dumped into the ocean. Super fun, full of cool opportunities, but super stressful as well. The truth of it was, me growing up a DC kid, I REALLY looked forward to playing with some of those major DC characters. Although I LOVED the Wildstorm characters as well, the kid in me wanted badly to draw some Batman. The place evolved even more as the numbers in the offices dwindled and the studio got more sucked into the DC machine.
When I left in 2003, if felt like time. Wildstorm was, for all intents and purposes, my college experience and I was eager to get out on my own. Almost every year around con time, I make it back to La Jolla to hang out with friends so I've been able to see a bit how the studio has morphed even more. It's such a fascinating organism that place, always finding a way to survive and mutate into something that functions. The one thing that never changed, though is that feeling. When you walk in you feel an energy that I've never found in any other studio.
All in all, I got to play around a bit in the Wildstorm pool, and consider myself lucky to have done so. Looking at everything now with a bit of perspective, the thing that resonates with Wildstorm is that it, like it's characters, was VERY much a product of it's time. Although tastes change as well as people, I found myself digging up some of those old books and thinking, 'Damn, the possibilities..' It brought back tons of memories of people and dreams long gone. Sitting in the intern apartment with J.J, Carlos, and Armando looking at Mike Lopez photocopies, going to Jim's Spawn movie premier party and winding up with whip cream all over my clothes (a story for another time), barfing all over the hallway going into Jim's New York apartment, the best store signing ever in Orlando with Jim, Ale, Carlos, Sandra H, sitting with Carlos and Ale arguing 'cartoony or realistic'.... the list goes on and on.
Best Wildstorm memory isn't one event in particular. It was every time I sat down to draw, music blasting, looking out at the ocean and very questionable hotel guests, and loving the idea that I was drawing comics with some cool motherfuckers.
Friday, September 10, 2010
I can't believe I haven't posted this considering it's been out there circulating for a while. Originally done as a piece for the Splashpage sketchbook, this wound up being a very inspirational piece for the graphic novel I'm working on in terms of tone. I think I turned it in along with the script as part of the overall pitch. As such, it's a pretty close representation of what the book looks like. I look at this sucker as a very 'excited' piece... completely lacking in the editing phase but full of the pure joy of putting pencil to paper. As much as I enjoy being critical, I hope to never get so analytical with the work that I lose sight of what made drawing fun for me in the first place: the feeling of lead smearing grey on white and watching something emerge from nothing.
Getting back to the book, I've started to see some pretty great color pages trickle in by the uber-talented Barbara Ciardo. It's like being a kid on Christmas..... ahem, ahem.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
This came out yesterday so I can finally post the black and white art for this incredibly fun little short Azzarello and I did. Wish I could take credit for the idea, but that's all Brian. Who can say no when someone calls you up and asks you do do Joker and Lex Luthor in the style of Calvin and Hobbes?!? Gotta say, kudos to the folks at DC for letting us do this and do it right. It's not something people expect from Brian and I, and you have to give credit to the editors who looked at these pages when they came in and didn't immediately think something was rotten in Denmark. So here's a special thank you to Eddie Berganza, Rex Ogle, and Jim Lee for getting our backs with this.
The best thing about doing something like this is the opportunity to pull out the brush and just let it talk for you. No need to clutter things up with rendering or ink wash. Trish Mulvihill did a fantastic job of keeping this simple in color as well. I think the thing this strip does best is showcase Brian's sense of humor and ability to say a lot with very little. Thought about posting the lettered version here, but then my evil, capitalistic instincts kicked in and I realized people should go out and buy the damn thing to get the full effect ,)
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Finally something new I can post. Mr. Alex Segura over at the DCU blog posted this yesterday along with some other new covers. Tried something new in my process for this piece. Really trying to introduce some softness into my work. Looking back on some older pieces, the harshness and angularity is a bit overwhelming. Although I'm wary of pushing too far in the other direction, I'd like to find a happy medium. Hards and softs that work together in unity without losing a sense of style.
In other news, got something fun to show everyone as soon as Superan/Batman #75 ships.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
These suckers are all convention commissions from years past done on the spot during the San Diego convention. My attitude towards commissions has always been that I want to give people the best drawing possible given the limited time frame. This means that they take a while to complete, therefore I usually take no more than five or six a show. Since I've almost always taken the list on Preview night, those unfortunate souls who get to the show on Thursday or Friday find the list full before they even step foot inside the convention hall.
This year I'm taking a different approach to my San Diego Convention commissions. To try and squeeze a few more drawings in than usual, my art dealer extraordinaire Mark Hay over at Spashpageart.com is taking a list before the show for first time via his website. If you're attending the marvelous monster that is SDCC and want a drawing, click on the link below to splash page art and check out the rules of the game.
While you're there, take the time to thumb through the AMAZING art he has for sale. He reps some of the best guys in the business, and you can find some fantastic originals by the likes of Tim Bradstreet, Edvin Biukovic, Cliff Chiang, and many more. That's right, I said Edvin Biukovic......
Monday, May 17, 2010
Finally found these pages while in a folder of old random work. Thought I had lost them. It had been a while since I'd seen these in black and white. I absolutely LOVE drawing Daredevil and can say with certainty I'm no where near done with this character. Would love to do some more DD interior work, since these three pages only scratched the surface of my interest. In fact, I'd LOVE to take Daredevil back to more of the feeling it had in it's first 20 issues or so. As much as everybody enjoys brooding, dark Matt Murdock, I'd like to take a left turn and take the character back to his more adventurous and cavalier roots. Matt Hollingsworth did a stellar job with these pages in color. I was thrilled to be working with the guy that colored Grendel: Devils and Deaths, probably one of my top three favorite books of all time. Anyone who hasn't read it should find it immediately.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The assignment was to do a cover based directly on this Keith Giffen Legion image from the 1980's. Perks: No layouts required, the basic color scheme is already worked out, and the final goal is much clearer than it usually is. The thing I enjoy about doing homages to other pieces is the fact that, even with all this homework done beforehand, the final piece still requires you to find some solutions to make the image work for you. My ultimate goal became giving my cover a psychadelic feel, something that felt more in tune with what the Legion seemed like to me at that time. Put that tablet on your tongue and to relax....
I can't discuss this cover without talking about Jack Kirby. The Darkseid character is an amazing design and I LOVED the big orange sun in the background and all the Kirby-crackle. I did a number of passes on this in the drawing phase just to get Darkseid's face close to looking like Jack's stuff.... or at least as close as my capabilities would allow. In the end, hopefully my version is still recognizable as a homage to the Giffen cover, but different enough to be somewhat fresh.
Off topic: R.I.P. Frank Frazetta. King of Kings.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Green... and lots of it. My most feared color... the one I avoid like the plague. For this variant cover I was pretty much forced to deal with green and knock it around like a red-headed stepchild. See, normally, green is the bully, at least that's how I view the color. It tends to push me around in the piece, and force me into color schemes I don't really naturally gravitate towards. It tells you to add more yellow, a bit of purple, and makes throwing red in there a bitch and a half. Due to the fact that red and green are compliments, the combination of the two tends to produce and image where both colors fight each other for attention unless the piece is extremely simple. In this particular case, I started out with much more red in the sky and had to continually mix more purple into to get that green to jump forward. Anyway, enough boring color talk.
It's this simple: I had never done a Green Lantern piece before. I've done a couple of covers for DC lately where I branched out a bit in terms of the characters and tried some new things color-wise. To be honest, I never read Green Lantern as a kid, so a lot of wikepedia was involved here. Guy Gardner I was already familiar with, but from waaay back in the Justice League days. Funny, a LOT can change in continuity in twenty years ,) Look for this cover as the variant to Emerald Warriors #1.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Just saw the image of Thor from the upcoming film and thought I would post this. I really enjoy what Olivier Coipel did with the book, especially his rendition of Thor's physicality. He just looked thick, powerful, and rugged... a nice change from many of the pretty boy renditions in the past. The long blonde hair makes it REALLY easy to drift off into romance novel cover territory, and Thor can be a particularly brutal character because of those big wings on his helmet. How in the hell do you make that combination look cool?!?!?! Solution: stick to Olivier's approach as closely as possible. It's really one of the first times I've purposely set out to emulate the look of another artist for a particular character instead of trying to find my own approach. Of course, my stylistic tendencies are still evident and the homage to Coipel is probably not all that noticeable, but every time I look at this piece I think of how it pales in comparison to Olivier's stunning work. The moral of the story is that you have to stick to your guns and do what works for you.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I know, I know.... ANOTHER old piece. Promise I'll start posting some new stuff as soon as it gets solicited. This Darkness wrap around cover was done a couple years back, and definitely presented a challenge for me. Whenever I approach a new character, I try to figure out a way for the dude to make sense to me. If I can find an angle, a way IN, the piece usually turns out more successfully. Sometimes, that angle never seems to manifest. In hindsight, I probably could have found a way to do the armored version of the character but I kept hitting a wall conceptually. See, The Darkness looks amazing when Marc Silvestri draws him. In all my preliminary sketches, the 'superhero' version just came off looking messy instead of badass. I couldn't figure out how to insert some of Marc's magic into what I do. In the end, I opted to play off the juxtaposition of having a guy in a suit next to all these weird little creatures.
Some of the old Image stuff has been on my mind lately. Part of me really wishes that there had been a way to transition a lot of that stuff into the modern marketplace. I still have a soft spot in my heart for some of those characters, and got a kick at digging up some of my old books and seeing what was hitting my switches as I began my career. Honestly, there are some GREAT concepts there (admittedly some truly AWFUL ones as well) and I think the Darkness is one of them. The fact that Jackie is a mobster is just such a fun twist to the concept. I also love the fact that the book had such a sick sense of humor. Garth Ennis is the MAN!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Came across this going through old files and found myself looking at it more carefully than some of the other cover images in the same folder. I think that the idea of drawing characters with tattoos is always more interesting that actually 'doing' it. The problem is getting the buggers to look like they're underneath the skin. At the time, I wrestled with adding another tattoo on her forearm but decided against it to keep the focus down around her torso. Gotta give it up to the fantastic Mauro Corradini once again for logo placement. This was the first cover that my editor allowed the the possibility to play with graphic design a bit, and without it I don't think the piece would have worked as well. Still wish we had been able to warp the bottom left hand corner of the logo a bit more....
Friday, March 5, 2010
Personal interlude here. Light some candles, listen to the sound of the violins, use the cheesy smile...
I did this piece a few years ago for my wife. Her favorite character is the Silver Surfer and she actually has a pretty awesome little collection of art based on the character. See, it goes like this: If you're a girl, it's ten times easier to get artists to give you cool pieces. Somewhere deep inside us still lurks that insecure little high school kid who never got the girl and is thrilled at any little ounce of female attention thrown our way. I've seen many an artist in action at conventions and it never ceases to amaze me how it's the same pretty much across the boards. Sad really, but I guess it's the way of the world. Case in point, I did this piece back when we had just begun dating thinking it would win me points. As for the big floating space fish, Sara loves to scuba dive. The ocean fascinates her and it's difficult to find her happier than when we're sitting on a beach somewhere.
At any rate, she was looking at some of the other Surfer pieces yesterday and it made me realize I'd never actually made a scan of mine. Don't know if it will be of interest to anyone else, but at least it's something new to post while I'm waiting to show off newer work. Now blow out those candles and give each other a big sloppy kiss.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
First Wave variant cover here. I'm pretty intrigued by what Brian told me about this series. It seems like an interesting approach to all the various characters they're using, and of course the fact that it features Doc Savage is just perfection.
I was first introduced to the character via the brilliant James Bama covers. To say they made an impression on me would be a HUGE understatement. There are few illustrators who have influenced me as much as Bama. I look at his work and his characters seem alive. I think the fact that he had a way of 'weathering' his figures made them feel more human to me. Typically, when trying to reinforce the fact that a character is iconic and powerful, an artist is pressured into idealizing almost every facet of said characters physicality. For example, wrinkles on clothes and costumes tend to read as 'messy' or 'imperfect' if done badly, therefore they are generally to be avoided if you wanna play by the rulebook. I remember a certain artistic 'superstar' explaining to me that too many details and particulars in skin and costuming made the character come off as goofy instead of cool. I couldn't disagree more. Of course this all comes down to personal taste, but I've always felt that those details somehow help me believe in the character more. Bama had a way of making Doc Savage look like he had really been through the shit, powerful and experienced all at the same time. His torn shirt looked like it had really been ripped apart by something, not just featuring carefully placed 'artistic' damage meant to make drawing the character easier or more formulaic. More importantly, it really looked like Bama's Savage had an internal life as well.. something going on underneath the surface. All those surface details actually contributed to his power and believability as opposed to limiting it.
Looking at the cover now, my pitiful attempt to do the character justice just reminds me how good Jim Bama is. For the coloring on this piece, I tried something different than on almost all other covers by doing the entire piece in Photoshop. Normally, I do most of my work in Painter, only really utilizing photoshop for effects and flatting. I wanted the piece to have a slight grain to it. Since the line is 'pulpy' I didn't want the image coming off as too slick.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Looks like this cover was released to the general public, which means I FINALLY have something new to post. I really dig the character, and I also enjoyed the hell out of the covers Tim Bradstreet did for the Vertigo Human Target series. In fact, I like them so much I had a hard time not picturing them while trying to come up with layouts. Bradstreet is a tough act to follow. Honeslty, though, the biggest challenge of doing this cover was literally not knowing what the main character was going to look like. There was no visual information for me to go on other than some stuff I had seen online about the new HT TV series (and no one was even sure if that would be the model to follow). Since I started out in this business doing licenced product work, I know that sometimes these things just need to get done, regardless of how little information you have. Sometimes, it even makes the project more fun. This was the case on Human Target.
Personally, I love not being beholden to an exact model or visual. I enjoy an assignment more when I get some basic parameters and am allowed the space to do my thing. The only art direction was to go a bit 007 with it and that was all the info I needed. BIG props to my brothers over at Wildstorm for pushing through my idea to place the tag line over the figure as a graphic design element. We decided it would be best to do it digitally, though, and leave the art untouched just in case. It all seemed to work out in the end, which makes me a happy camper. Looking forward to seeing the show.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Been so long since I've posted I almost forgot my password to login. The big 'L' is planted firmly on my forehead, I might as well just tattoo it there. Still not much new to post until a few things hit the stands. Got a DMZ piece to show in a few weeks as well as another cover featuring one of my favorite pulp characters. Graphic novel is coming along, slowly (understatement) but surely. It's by far the most 'complete' piece of work I've done.. not sure if that will a good thing or a bad thing. Oh and here is a pic of the amazing Mark Chiarello holding the Wednesday Comics hardcover!!!!
The Carnevale poster was something I did a couple months ago for my father in law, who works in conjunction with the committee that runs Carnevale in the little town my wife was born in, Castelnovo Sotto. The Graphic design was done by Mauro Corradini, who also provided the desing work on the covers to Hellblazer 244-246. The guy is a fantastic local graphic designer and friend. These posters will be plastered all around the cities in the area this month, which will be bizarre to say the least. It's so colorful it almost hurts my eyes, but then again it's Carnevale...whattayagonnado.