Saturday, July 31, 2010
It is probably just a product of growing up in the right time, but I always preferred the Beast as an Avenger rather than an X-Man. For years he has been the sole property of the X-Universe, but Marvel seems to have finally relented and Beast is now a member of the Secret Avengers. Hopefully too much time hasn't passed, I may have to check this out in TPB if the reviews are positive enough.
The third X-Men film had its share of problems, but one thing that I liked was the casting of Kelsey Grammar as the Beast. I would never have thought of it, but I felt that in the end it worked out well. There aren't a lot of actors who could make the line. "Oh my stars and garters!" work.
Friday, July 30, 2010
The Avengers have seen a real resurgence in the past few years. While I am happy for the increased exposure, I am still not crazy about the inclusion of characters like Spider-Man and Wolverine on the team. I still prefer the classic line up, and of course chose that era for this cover.
I am very excited for the big screen Avengers adaptation, and the fact that Marvel is combining it with the Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Thor film franchises is daring and incredibly cool. I've loved Marvel's self produced films so far, and the recently leaked trailer to Thor was great, so I have high hopes that they can pull this off. With the amazing cast they have assembled and comics fan and writer Joss Whedon directing, this has the potential to be something amazing.
Here's an Avengers page by John Romita, Jr. and Chris Ivy:
Sharp eyes will notice the Batman I used here was from Batman and the Outsiders #1, one of my favorite covers ever. I like it so much that I commissioned comics cartoonist master Fred Hembeck to do a recreation of it:
Thursday, July 29, 2010
I remember my older brother having a copy of Giant-Size X-Men #1 back when we were kids. If we had any idea of how important that issue would become, wed would have kept it in much better condition. Instead, I read and reread it to tatters over the years and I am not sure what ever became of it. Oh well, it was made to be enjoyed and not placed under glass so I have no regrets.
I loved team books and this one was filled with cool characters. I remember being bummed that the Beast didn't have a bigger part, but I loved the redesign on Cyclops' visor and the idea of a living island. Great stuff.
It seems that the X-Men are heading back to the movie screen, this time in the form of a prequel. I am withholding judgement until I learn more, but I do wish they had rebooted instead of stayed in the previous films' continuity. That way we could have seen something a little closer to the comics. Still, it will be nice to finally see an X-movie that isn't Wolverine-centric.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
This was the 201st B&B cover I made, That's one more issue than the actual series ran, so I wanted to do something special. My first thought was to do a version of one of my all time favorite covers, All-Star Squadron #1:
My idea was to have Batman forming a new team. Now, who to populate it with? Well I started two of my favorite characters in their funkiest looks: Iron Man With A Nose (who spawned IMWAN, a fantastic forum), and Silver Age Adult Robin (I love that costume!). For their potential teammates, I just want down my list of charactes that I wanted to get to but hadn't yet. I can't say the will never get their own appearance, but at least I could cameo them here. I think Batman could pick a great team out of these candidates.
That Adult Robin costume is so crazy that it's cool to me. In addition to the Franco sketch from yesterday, I commissioned Bret Breeding and Andy Smith to illustrate their versions of Dick Grayson's grey togs:
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
I recently picked up the Dark Horse collection of Joe Kubert's run on Tarzan from the 70's. These are some of the most gorgeously illustrated comics ever, and since the plots are incredibly faithful to the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novels, the stories are truly gripping. If Hollywood should ever want to make an updated film version of Tarzan, the first few issues of that series could pretty much be the storyboard for the movie.
I remember watching the Batman/Tarzan Hour cartoon when I was a kid and wishing they would just team up once. I mean, they were on the same show! It would be years before DC would publish the crossover mini-series Batman/Tarzan: Claws of the Catwoman.
Here is a page of Tarzan art by two of the masters: Joe Kubert and Nestor Redondo:
Monday, July 26, 2010
This was another early request. It's a pretty simple cover but hopefully the sheer ridiculousness of the concept makes up for that. Sugar and Spike were humor characters from DC from the Silver Age and have made only a couple of appearances since. I am glad that DC is making a stronger effort these days to provide entry level titles for young readers. Billy Batson and the Power of Shazam! is quite good (especially the first 6 issues by Mike Kunkel), and Tiny Titans might be my favorite new title of the past few years. I was lucky enough to get the artist, Franco, to sketch me a picture of Robin in my favorite costume:
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Storm is one of my favorite Marvel heroines. She is very unique in appearance, powers and history and is thankfully not just a female version of a pre-existing male character. I know she has been a big part of the Black Panther series in the past few years, but I think she is strong enough to hold down he own solo title with the right writer.
I was the perfect age for when she went through her mohawk phase back during the X-men's prime. I couldn't believe she went through such a shocking transformation and had to know more. I missed the beautiful long locks but was intrigued by her new attitude. Marvel was good about keeping the new look for just the right amount of time, too - returning her to her classic look within a few years.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I took the Starman image here from his Jim Starlin-illustrated issue of DC Comics Presents, which was where I first encountered him. I really loved the look and personality of the Prince Gavyn Starman and was disappointed that beyond a handful of appearances in Adventure Comics that he did not star in many more stories. For this reason, I was glad when James Robinson decided to use him in his excellent Starman series. In the Stars, My Destination arc, Robinson included all of the characters that have gone by the Starman name and ingeniously was able to combine the back stories of Prince Gavyn and Will Payton. Prince Gavyn has since appeared in some of DC cosmic related series and I hope continues to do so.
Here are a couple of pages from the Starman arc that I mentioned above, by the talented Peter Snejberg:
I had to do a face transplant on this cover. Starfire's expression was too happy for the scene so I needed to steal a more serious face from another image and graft it on.
Starfire has kind of floated around in guest star and team member status for the past several years, appearing in supporting roles with the Titans, the JLA, Animal Man, and now REBELS. It seems that she could use a bit more direction and maybe a solo spotlight. It has been a long time since I read a story where Koriand'r was the main character.
Here is a Starfire sketch by the great Jose Luis Garcia Lopez:
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I'll never forget the first time I read the paperback Origins of Marvel Comics, where every chapter was headed up by a few pages of text by Stan Lee, explaining the genesis of his ideas. It seemed to cool to me that this master creator was just as interested and enthusiastic about the art form as I was. I then devoured his How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way and made sure to read his Stan's Soapbox columns on Bullpen Bulletins. He was and remains the greatest spokesman the form has ever seen. I love all of his cameos in the movies as well. Stan Lee as Willie Lumpkin was perfect casting!
When I got the request to do a cover with Lee, I knew just what to use. The cover and issue of B&B where Jim Aparo depicted himself as part of the story was always one of my favorites. This cover was probably the easiest one I made.
I recently picked up the hardcover collection of Lee's Spider-Man newspaper strips and enjoyed it immensely. Stan really knew how to write in that format. Here's an original art page from that strip:
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Brian Michael Bendis is obviously a fan of Spider-Woman and has given her a major push in the titles that he writes after may years of the character lying dormant. I am glad that Jessica Drew is back on the scene, I always liked her simple yet effective design and her back story lends itself to many different types of adventures.
I recently caught an episode of the Spider-Woman motion comic. The motion comic technology is interesting but not all that different from the limited animation of almost 40 years ago. One thing that did surprise me is that Spider-Woman was given a British accent. Was she ever revealed to be of British descent in the comics, or was this just a producer's whim?
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Almost every major hero has had a major costume makeover, and they almost always snap back to their traditional looks soon enough. A few years pass and the alternate looks appear even more dated and unattractive (Like Electric Superman or Daredevil with armor). We seem to be going through this now with Wonder Woman, I will be surprised if her new costume lasts in its current form for more than 18 months.
Spider-Man's black costume is a notable exception. As crazy as changing such an iconic costume sounded, lost of fans (myself included) had to admit that the now look was pretty cool. Of course the costume, obtained on an alien planet, was revealed to be sentient and eventually begat the villain Venom. Venom is an OK villain but I always liked the black suited look more on Peter Parker, and I am glad that Marvel has decided to bring it back from time to time. I'd never want it to replace his traditional togs, but every once in a while it's cool to change out the costumes.
No black suit, but here's a Spider-Man page by Steve McNiven, another artist who doeas a great rendition of the wall-crawler:
Monday, July 19, 2010
Spider-Man the film franchise is about to be rebooted. The new guy they picked certainly looks the role, hopefully he will have the acting chops. I can understand the desire to cast younger and set the tale back in the high school years, but I hope they don't tread over too much ground that Raimi already covered. Raimi teased us with Doc Connors for three movies, but we never got to see the Lizard, so I hope that character is on the short list of villains to use.
Spider-Man, like Batman, is one of those characters that every artist seems to want to draw at least once. Here is a page by one of my favorite Spidey artists - the vastly underrated Lee Weeks:
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Spider-Girl has been one character that just won't stay down. She was originally introduced as a one shot character in an issue of What If?, and soon graduated to her own title. More than once she has been rescued from cancellation due to the dedication of her followers. Her self titled series has recently been cancelled once again and a new Spider-Girl series is set to begin, set in current continuity and featuring the character formerly known as Arana in the lead role. I have a feeling that despite this change in fortunes, the original Spider-Girl will reclaim her title before too long.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Speedy is a character that is currently being put through the wringer. First he drops his own identity to become Red Arrow, a virtual carbon copy of his mentor. Then his young child is killed and he loses his arm. That was enough to turn me off to his mini-series, and I am glad I did because in it he apparently went back on drugs and was so out of it he was using dead cats as weapons. Ugh. Sometimes I wonder what editorial is thinking over at good old DC. Yes, I know this is probably leading to some redemption story down the line, but does it have to be such an ugly path getting there?
This cover utilized some Murphy Anderson art, one of my all time favorite inkers. here's Murphy's inks over Irv Novick from a Flash issue:
Friday, July 16, 2010
I only caught the Speed Racer cartoon a couple of times when I was a kid, but the design of the car definitely resonated with me. Also, Racer X looked like a superhero, so that part of course intrigued me. My cousin gave me a few of his Speed Racer comics a couple of years back and I really enjoyed them.
The Speed Racer movie is a very mixed bag. Some of the humor was clearly aimed at a much younger audience than I, and is tough to sit through. The racing sequences, however, are pretty exciting. They are so over the top you just have to go with them and suspend your disbelief. Those scenes look great on a nice big screen. I wonder if the film would have done better at the box office if it had held off for a few years and was released when the big 3D craze hit.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
I absolutely love the design of Space Ghost's costume, ands that was the main draw to the series for me as a kid. I remember getting up very early on Saturdays to catch Hanna-Barbera's World of Super Adventure to catch his exploits. And while at that young age I never made the Alex Toth connection, I always felt like Space Ghost would fit right in with the Super Friends.
The talk show version is amusing, but I hope we see more of the straight Space Ghost soon. The mini-series that DC put out a couple of years back was a step in the right direction. I'm not sure if they still have the licence to the character, but if they do it would be cool to see him get integrated into the DCU so that he could feature in some real team ups.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Here is one of the very first covers I created. This is the character that I most hoped would team up with Batman back in the day. I saw Jim Aparo's version of Captain Marvel on the covers of World's Finest ans was really hoping I would get to see him illustrate the character for a full story.
I am happy to hear that a Shazam! film is finally in the works. With Geoff Johns serving as consultant, there is hope that it will be faithful to the comics.
Here is a page of original art featuring Captain Marvel and friends - it is the final page of the tabloid-sized Superman Vs. Shazam special. I read that to rags as as a kid and was very happy to be able to obtain a part of that story for my collection:
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Inspired by a suggestion from the last post, I decided to put together a cover featuring the great Harvey Pekar, who passed away yesterday. Pekar was a true pioneer and stretched the boundaries of what comics could be and could accomplish. His unflinching depictions of the events in his life inspired many other artists to share their own stories.
If you haven't seen the movie of his life, American Splendor, I highly recommend that you seek it out. It is a great portrait of an artist with an excellent performance in the lead role by Paul Giamatti.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Sasquatch is actually the first character I read about from Alpha Flight. He showed up in an issue of Marvel Two-In-One, and I instantly got a kick out of the design and size of the character. The rest of his teammates joined him in the following issue and I was hooked. I eventually read their guest appearances in Uncanny X-Men and eagerly followed them to their solo series. John Byrne was in his artistic prime, and all was good with the world.
Unfortunately, after Byrne left the title. things didn't go so well for Sasquatch. He was sidelined, turned white for some reason, and spent a lot of time mooning over unrequited loves. Sheesh - I just wanted to see him kick the Super Skrull's butt again (as he did in my favorite appearance)! I've been waiting for a writer to do something interesting with him, but aside from some ill-fated Alpha Flight revivals, he has kept a very low profile. Here's hoping that changes soon.
I already posted my Sasquatch pages in the Mr. Terrific entry, so here is some John Byrne art from his run on Wonder Woman:
Sunday, July 11, 2010
While it would probably be considered blasphemous to the memory of Watchmen, I have to say I would love to see Batman match wits (and fists) with Rorschach. I don't think either one would approve much of the other, and that would make for a great tale.
The Watchmen movie wasn't perfect, it should have dialed down the graphic violence and a few of the casting choices didn't suit the roles. It did get the visual look down excellently, though - I loved seeing Rorschach's mask in motion. That, along with Jackie Earl Haley's great performance makes it one of the best realized comic character movie interpretations ever. The scenes with him in the prison cafeteria and with the therapist felt like they leaped right out of the comics. Great stuff.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
ROM was one comic that I liked more for the villains than the main star. The Dire Wraiths were the main bad guys and one of the most creepily designed alien races ever. They were just so inhuman looking that you knew there was no reasoning with them.
ROM himself was a little harder to get into for a couple of reasons. I liked the concept but the design made it hard for a reader to identify with him. The featureless metal mask made it very difficult to convey emotion - artists couldn't even cheat with it the way the can with Spider-Man or even Iron Man. But the main thing that bothered me about his costume was... he was wearing mittens! Yes they were made of cool alien metal, but they were still mittens! It was very hard to take a mitten-wearing superhero seriously.
Still, ROM has a lot of fans. It's too bad that rights issues prevent Marvel from reprinting his adventures.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Thia is one team up that I would actually like to see in live action! I have heard rumors that the Robocop film franchise is in development for a return, and I hope it happens. It would be interesting to see him back on the screen with today's special effects. I still remember going to see the first movie at a drive-in theater. The sound broke down halfway through and when we went to complain, we found that the owners had left for the night! It would be a couple of years before I heard the complete movie.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Here is another very early one so I apologize for the roughness. I was still getting used to creating new backgrounds and getting the proportions right.
I am glad that DC has found a strong supporting role for Rip in the current Booster Gold series. With all of the time travelling stories that the company does, I always thought he should have a higher profile.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
I remember reading about Rick Jones in Giant-Size Captain Marvel #1, and thinking that he was pretty cool. He got to have adventures with The Hulk, Captain America, The Avengers and now Mar-Vell. It was a good idea for Marvel to have a regular Joe type of character that hob-nobbed with all of their big guns. Unfortunately Snapper Carr never took off the same way for DC!
A lot of credit must go to Peter David, who kept Jones in the spotlight during his runs on Incredible Hulk and Captain Marvel. I haven't been following the Hulk titles too closely, but last time I checked in, Jones had been transformed into an Abomination riff called A-Bomb. Yeesh. Maybe it's time to start hanging out with Captain America again!
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
The well known B&B cover which featured Batman protecting his new "partner", The Joker, was ripe for a re-do in this project, it was just a matter of finding the right character to replace the clown prince of crime with. When a buddy of mine requested Ma Hunkel, the original Red Tornado from the Golden Age, I thought it was just offbeat enough to work. Unfortunately there weren't a whole lot of images to work with, but I think I found a couple to fit the bill
I have to give Geoff Johns props again for finding a useful purpose for Ma Hunkel in todays continuity by making her the caretaker of the current Justice Society's headquarters, as well as being an inspiration to her granddaughter, Cyclone.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Raven was a very interesting character when she first appeared, because her personality, powers and appearance were so different from her female teammates and other super-heroines. Plus she had the great back story with her powerful demonic father, and the dark side she was always trying to suppress. I haven't followed her as closely since she somehow got the new, younger body. I think the powers that be decided to de-age her a bit so she wasn't so far removed from the animated TV version. Hopefully DC will get their Titans franchise back in order so characters like Raven, Cyborg and Starfire will get a chance to hit the heights that they had formerly achieved.
The Batman image here is from a cover by Kevin Nowlan, who always has a unique take. Here is a Nowlan sketch of The Thing:
Thursday, July 1, 2010
I always liked Quicksilver in spite of his often pompous attitude. He couldn't get a break - neither mutants or Inhumans ever really accepted him. Sure he had a short temper, but his father is Magneto, he could be a lot worse. Basically his inclusion in an issue meant there was a level of unpredictability at play, which is always interesting for a reader.
This cover was a pleasant surprise for me. I had wanted to do a lopsided race scene and was amazed when I saw how much the two running poses matched up.