Friday, May 30, 2008


YO! Cheese Steaks and Storm Troopers--I'll be at this weekend's annual Philly Wizard World on in the Philadelphia Convention Center along with my buddies Scott Cohn, Scott Neely and Alberto Ruiz--with fly by appearances by Jamar Nicholas.

We'll be at booths 2107-2109 so stop by for the new Best of Draw! 3, sketches and whatever else we people do at cons.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Arizona Landscape final

here is the still wet landscape I have been working on this last few days. My goal is a painting a week while I'm on summer break if I can manage. I'll probably start one on Thursday since the Wizard Philly con will be this weekend.

I'm pretty happy with this because I didn't kill it by over working it, though i still feel odd about it too. Guess I'm trying to figure things out as I go along and sometimes that is fun and other times it's so dam frustrating!

This was mostly executed with a palette knife, but I did come back in later with a brush in spots and I took many liberties with the photos I was working from, trying to satisfy what the painting needs to work.


Three more pages from issue 10 today.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Arizona Landscape

Here is a weekend landscape painting in progress. This is after a few hours of painting, mostly with the palette knife. It's about 16 x 16 or so on MDF board in oil.

I'll post another step in progress as I move along.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Creepertins for June

The newest Creepertins strip.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Quasar Part 4

Two more pages today, and now I am getting to the part of the story I enjoyed drawing the most, the Rougue Kree agents and outer space stuff...and pretty girls!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

QUASAR 10 Part 3

Two more pages today from issue 10. And I can see something on page 5 that showed how cinematically I was thinking back then. The 3rd pannel on this page is a shot of the water racing past, next we pull out to a medium establishing shot of Quasar surfing the tube. The 3rd panel is like a film transition and shows how well we can borrow these techniques from film and apply them to comics at times. This is another way of dealing with "time" which both comics and film are chiefly about; the arrangement of events or actions in a sequence to tell a story. I always see the story play out in my mind like I am watching a movie, even when I am drawing comics. 10 years later after drawing the Q-man I would have moved over from comics into working in animation as a storyboard artist. I think the way I worked in comics naturally made my transition into film a logical fit.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Quasar Issue 10 part 2

Two more page from Quasar 10.

Arizona Sunset

I'm getting back into some painting again this week. This is a quick landscape I did based on a few pics I snapped on my last vacation to Arizona. It's in oil on MDF 16 x 12. I tried to keep this one looser and so I used the palette knife a lot.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Quasar Issue 10

I have decided that wuld do somehing here on the blog that I haven't done before and post the pencils for an entire issue of a comic I've drawn. In this case i came across the copies of the pencils for Quasar #10, which I drew I think in late 1989 or early 1990. Quasar was my first regular series as a penciler for Marvel, written by the late Mark Gruewald and edited by Howard Mackie.
I have to say I wasn't a big fan of the book, or the character, but I was a big fan of working regularly and so I dived at the chance to pencil the book. I was totally unaware of the character's history and all of that, but could see he was sort of like Green Lantern in that he could use his powerbands to create props or tools, force shields etc. hw also had the duel identity thing, sort of like Clark Kent, he even wore glasses. In fact the whole concept seemed more DC than Marvel.
I had recently moved bac to Philly after sharing Al Williamson's studio up in Honesdale, PA along with my best buddy Bret Blevins. I was hoping that this series would lead to more exciting assignments at Marvel as well.
It's funny when I think back about how different the business was then, pre-speculator-boom. It was less pressure and more fun, but already the tide was turning with guys like Liefeld coming in and what that started to do with the line that once seperated what was clearly fan level work and what was professional level work. In the coming months and the next 2-3 years it really was a earthquake in the entire business and it effected everyone who worked in it. I knew almost from the start that Quasar was a book that nobody would really think was hot, or care about, and in fact as I went along that became very apparent for some of the reasons I stated above.

Looking back at this work I like some of it and can see plenty of shortfalls to, but I was averaging 2 pages a day, sometimes 3 in order to stay on that monthly schedule as I was also inking Alpha Flight at the same time for Carl Potts office. Having spent some time basking in the glow of Al's studio, his work and amazing collection of classic comic and comic strip art my work really had a more traditional or classic feel and that was what I was really loving at that time and I see that so clearly on these pages now.

More tomorrow!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Indiana Jones 4 is Good

I saw it this morning and enjoyed it. I won't ruin any plot points but will saw it was enjoyable witha few hichups, but nothing aweful.

3 1/2 stars.

I found this drawing by accident that I did did for my buddy Bret Blevins when he landed the gig drawing the 3rd movie adaption all those years ago when we were sharing Al Williamson's studio.

Today I Enter the Crystal Skull

Thanks to my buddy Scott Neely, today I am getting to sit in on the press screening of Indy 4.

I have to say I figure it will probably suck. I know, I'm prejudging it, and Ford still looks in great shape, and Spielberg does tend to do the craft well, and in fact can be great, but based on the track record of the sequels both Lucas and Spielberg make, I give it a 25% chance of not sucking.

Hope I'm wrong.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Unused Darkhawk Cover Idea

I came across this last night while going through some old files, it's one of the many sketches I know I made for the cover of Darkhawk #1 way back in 1990. I'm not sure on the logo, if I was submitting a design for it or not. I liked mine better than the one marvel eventually went with as it looked more 'hawkish". I think the reason Howard Mackie, the original editor and I abandoned this idea is we wanted something with more action on the first cover.

A Few Commissions

Boy, things have been a bit of a swirl around here, no pun intended. I am finally getting caught up on some commissions that have been in the shop for too long on top of a lot of other "life" stuff like laundry, yard work etc. that's why the blog has been slow this last week.

Last week Old Man Winter, or Old Lady Spring gave us a slap here in the north east with a bit of a storm. A storm more typical to December than mid May. The result was a bunch of huge branches down in the front yard that had me outside with a chainsaw ( which I had to buy). But I also got to see some of the student films from Uarts and that was fun as much as starting my taxes wasn't. I filed for a extension, so now I have to get this thing done...ugh.

This is sort of a recreation of the piece I inked over Kirby for the book Greg Theakston published back in the early 90's. I think I am a bit happier with this version as it's a bit more bold and way more brush that the first version I inked which was a lot of Hunt 108 pen. Now back to the many little tasks at hand....

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Digging Through The Years

The working on the attic continues at Casa Manley and as I rummage through the piles of stuff up there from old comics, to toys, magazines and all kinds of crap I have amassed from being a comic collector, to a pro, to being on a lot of comp lists, to stuff I stupidly bought on impulse. I have stopped collecting comics in a nay big way for a while now, partially because I have stuff I need to get rid of, but also because most comics today blow!
I don't want to go of on a rant about that because basically--who cares, and that's not the thrust of this post anyway. In the cleaning up and sorting I came across a huge box of old art, some goes well back into my high school years, some art is from 30 years ago like that Doc Samson drawing I posted. the late 70's, specifically 1977 was a really big year for me. First, Star Wars came out, second I bought my first issue of Heavy Metal. Both of course blew me away and really charged my imagination and artistic engine. one of my students, Samantha, commented a few weeks back that I mentioned Star Wars often when talking about storytelling points in the storyboard class, etc. I guess I didn't notice it, but I kinda' do for a variety of reasons.

It's hard for a 20 something today to really imagine what an impact that SW had on the world and guys in my generation. It changed the world in a lot of ways, and today we have so much entertainment,licensing, just gobs and gobs of stuff from games, comics, movies, toys, web stuff, man, you can't absorb even 10%. In fact we are jadded, spoiled by one big sci-fi, effects driven movies, game, etc., but 30 years ago most shit sucked, sucked bad,and that was all we had.

So at the same time Star wars was blowing up peoples imaginations then Heavy Metal came out. I still remember buying that first issue and just being god-smacked by it. The onslaught of the French and Euro cartoonist was like a thunderbolt. I had seen Corben's work before, but not DEN, and not Moebius. I hungrily scooped up each issue and as I was being changed. I had been a huge Neal Adams fan, Kirby, Buscema, Wood, Frazetta, that was my big school of influences as a budding comic artist and suddenly I see this stuff in Heavy metal and I was just floored, it was so different and so cool!

Theses comic strips I found are certainly done as a result of me being influenced by the Heavy metal crowd and Star Wars, but especially Moebius and that "clear-line' drawing style. I was trying to process that way of working through my matrix of American influences. I have no idea now about what the story was about and it seems I abandoned it after about 4 pages. I also drew it con pretty flimsy sketchbook paper, and as a result the pages are kinda bent up. There are plenty of problems with this stuff but they are better than a lot of the samples I did later to try and get in. Like many wanna-bes I'd tighten up or freeze up or draw what I thought "they'd want to see." I guess I somewhere around 18-19 years old when I did this stuff.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Old Old Old Art

I came across this nearly 25 year old drawing of a cartoony Doc Sampson in a big box of old artwork in my attic. I am in the agonizing process of "thinning the heard' of 30+ years of comic, books and crap I have accumulated from years of being in the business and my old comic collection. I plan on turning the attic into a painting studio, so I can have a completely separate, and bigger studio to do my painting, sculpture and non-commercial work in.

It's a funny and sometimes insightful thing to look at really old artwork. You see things you did a long time ago you still do now, themes, or things that interest you, and hopefully improvement, lots of improvement.

At that time I was doing a lot over very cartoony or what we now call the "animated look' with comics and superheroes. This was long before the success of the Batman show buy the Dini/Burnett/Timm crew made it cool to do cartoony versions of superjocks. I always thought, and still do, that the medium of animation is the best way to do superheroes as film. I came across a lot of old sample pages, some illustrations and drawings going back almost 30 years, well into my high school days. maybe I'll post a few more samples from my origin days.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


The entire school semester came to an end for me last night at 1:30 am after my last critique ended at Uarts and my cab ride home as the subways had stopped running by then. It started at 9:30 am, so it was a 15 hour day or crits between the last critique of the the Illustration class at DCAD, the egg drop and pizza at DCAD, then the ride back home, the EL ride into the city and then starting at 4pm, the Storyboarding class at Uarts. With some ice coffee, Duncan Donuts and Chex party mix to power us, fellow teachers Chris, Mike and Lowell and I critted well into the wee hours of the night. It was a big class and I think we all felt that they deserved the extra time with the crits, and they were very patient as we soon fell behind in our scheduled "15 minutes' per student.I got to view many of their films and assignments I had not seen before which was really cool.

This was my first year teaching at Uarts and it was really a very enjoyable experience for me, and a learning one too. Often I think you kind of forget that one of the benefits of teaching is that you learn as well. if you are open to it,helping others grow helps you grow too, and I had a really good class of talented and mostly hard working students. A few I think will go one to become film makers, some might be animators and some illustrators.

I think this year teaching helped me also personally in a very big way because of the turmoil in my own personal life, the stress and difficulty I had been dealing with. The energy I get from teaching really helps keep me charged up and it's also healing as well. Some of my students from the past few years have become good friends, and I suspect that will continue with some of the students from this year as well. I had more plates spinning this year than any in my life between the two teaching gigs and being in school myself. Add on the freelance, and well, it was non-stop. But again, that helped me I think focus and keep moving forward through some bad days.

I will miss some of my students who are seniors and it's always with mixed feelings (mostly good one hopes) that we see the younglings leave the final nest one ever has, the last, the womb of school.

Bon voyage the class of 2008

Monday, May 05, 2008

Free Comic Book Day report

this last Saturday was the annual FCBD event at Captain Blue Hens in Newark, Delaware. The event hosted by Joe Murray and is awesome staff is a really great event for the entire family. They even had the local no-kill dog kennel out with a pack of awesome pooches looking for homes. Of course there were plenty of costumes heroes on hand from Batman to Spidey and Darth. However I didn't see much of the unfolding events as I was swamped by commissions along with my table buddy and cartoonist extroadinare, Jamar Nicholas. Besides giving a half-hour chalk talk to a group of kids on how to make characters out of simple , fun shapes, I sat a drew a zillion sketches, like the one of the Hulk the young man is holding above.

It was a fun day, and even though I think maybe it was a tad slower this year, it seemed busier at times, the entire store a mad crush of families and kids getting down with comics--even if for only one day. Many kids were getting their first comic--little seeds that may grow some into this industries future, if it doesn't blow it.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


Friday was the final critique for me this semester at PAFA--so now I am done. Whew! I can certainly use the break to catch up on all of the things one leaves to the side while in school and busy with work. Like yard work, laundry and taxes, which I filed an extension on.

Here I am with my still life teacher, Jill Rupinski. Jill's a great teacher and I learned some good points from her this semester. Sometimes it would just be a little thing she would say that could improve what I was working on.
This was the last painting I did in Still Life, I wanted to do something completely different that what I did before, which were much more complicated paintings. this isn't done, it still needs many little tweaks, but the still lifes came down, so it's one for the history book now.
the final sculpture project I did in Stephen Nochella's ended up being much more problematic than I thought. The fun part was sculpting the brain, which took four boxes of super sculpy. First I build a foundation out of tin foil in the general shape of the brain, then layered on a 1/8th inch thick covering. Then I sculpted and shaped the brain noodles using some photos and drawing from the web. In the oven it went to cook away!

Then I welded the window frame in school. that caused me a headache as the welding warped the frame a bit so that made it harder to fit the wood framing for the "canvas' part.
Using a piece of massonite, I cut up some old comics I drew and layers the board with old word balloons that have fallen off the comic pages over the years, some page layouts and pens, brushes etc. It was like a mosaic of my working process, the brain standing in for me. I suspended the brain from screws and wires, but then tragedy struck as the weight of the brain coupled with the stress of the bowed metal frame popped the screws out so the whole thing wanted to lean over and collapse. Transporting the piece to school the crit dat was a pain-in-the-ass. i had to go and shore up the whole piece with lots of extra wood bracing. The particle board, or whatever this 'fake wood" is made of splits too easily, it's almost better glued. Anyway, I drilled and shored up the thing enough to hang the brain, then using fishing line and super glue I anded tendrils coming down, hung an old pair of my glasses and in the last minutes at lunch before the crit added the red acrylic paint, doing a very controlled "Jackson Pollack" type flinging and spotting of the paint.

I was done 10 minutes before the class---whew! People seemed to really like my sculp on "personal space". I would have love to make it even more detailed by we just didn't have the time since we only had a few weeks to do this assignment along with the other 5 plates I had to keep spinning.

All-in-all this has really been a great experience for me returning to school, and I am so glad I chose to do it at PAFA. I didn't love everything, but I loved 90%, and that's pretty good. Some classes could be eliminated or really reworked. I think many of the basic sculpture classes are too much like high school art classes and I would have enjoyed a lot more hard core crits and "old school' type instruction. That flies in the face of some in that dept., but I think that's what makes PAFA so much better than most bullshit art schools, and that's certainly the type of instruction I know I want. I have one class to take over the summer, Intaglio, then next fall I finish up the last straggling art classes I need for the first semester, so come January I'll be a second semester student.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Sketching in the Park

This was the last week of classes befoore the crit week in the Storyboarding Class I teach this semester at Uarts, and as the weather was so nice, though cool, I had decided that this week I would take the class out to do some life drawing/sketching on the streets of Philly. Each week during the class I would give out some drawing lessons rolled into the class crits and lessons on storyboard since doing boards really, like comics, requires you do really have good, solid drawing and cartooning skills. And one of the best ways to improve you skills in drawing and observation is to go out and sketch from life in malls, parks, on the streets of life. the goal was then to go back to the class and then do drawings based on the sketches we did in the park at 15th and Walnut. It was a great day, spring sun, lots of people sunning and scurrying about, mommies with kids,businessmen, old ladies, people walking their dogs, lots to choose from.
Afterwards, on the way back to class, we all stopped and got some free Ben & Jerry's ice cream since it was their birthday.


I'll be at Captain Blue Hen this Saturday for Free Comic Book Day, in Newark signing and sketching all stop on by.

get info and directions: http://www. captainbluehen. com