Thursday, December 20, 2007

Heroes... All Kinds

I'm blogging to you live from sunny Florida (though the moon is out right now).

First up is the cover to Mythos: Captain America, which is slated for March. Hopefully, I can hit my deadline and we will actually see it in March. It's definitely the most research intensive book I've done, but it's been a lot of fun learning more about World War II.

A special thanks goes out to one of my first editors, my Dad, who, upon looking at the cover, immediately told me that I had Hitler's hair parted the wrong way. That version is the one that got solicited, but this revised version will actually see print (hopefully).

This particular Hiro was painted for my girlfriend for Christmas. I don't normally watch TV, but she got me hooked on Heroes through Netflix.

And last but not least, Odysseus, one of the earlier heroes, is star of the 4th Iliad cover. It should also be out in March.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Body Worlds

These sketches are from the Body Worlds exhibition at the California Science Center in 2004. I rarely get to draw "from life" so it was a treat to be surrounded by so many models, not to mention having the time to draw for an entire day. This was before I had started Mythos — before every creative minute was dedicated to the series.

If you ever get a chance to see one of these exhibitions, please take the opportunity. There are several similar shows out there, but this was the first and, from my experience, the best. Aside from that, the acquisition of specimens for this show, in particular, is expressly from willing donors.

The figure featured in both sketches was described as a "bodybuilder." The skeleton and musculature was separated, intact, and positioned next to each other in the same gesture. These sketches are drawn in my travel sketchbook and are on facing pages at right angles to each other. I hope to show more sketches from the show in the future.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


This is another convention sketch from the last Big Apple Con. I've also included the picture I took at the con to show how I go about documenting artwork that I don't have a chance to scan (and will never see again).

I simply take a picture with my 5 megapixel digital camera from an angle, with the flash on. This prevents glare or a "hot spot" in the middle of the photo. The distortion is easily fixed in Photoshop using the perspective crop feature. And since I know the dimensions of the paper, I can achieve the exact proportions. The rest is just selecting the background and, using levels, bleaching it to pure white. In this case, I got lazy and took out the fishnet design as well, being too light to be selected easily. The result is a nice, clean looking jpeg that, while not quite good enough to print, is fine for the web.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Here's a con sketch from way back... the January Big Apple Con.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fallen Sons

I'll be at Jim Hanley's Universe this coming Thursday, November 29, from 6-8 PM for a signing. Please stop by and help me feel popular.

Here's another pin-up from the latest Big Apple Con. Kind of an off the wall request, but I guess it makes sense that Rambo would be upset at death of Captain America. So it goes.

And this is the latest cover for The Iliad, part of Marvel's Illustrated Classics.

This is the pencil stage just prior to final paints.

In this case, I did the preliminary completely in the computer, then traced a printout onto the final paper, where I tightened up the sketch and made my final revisions.

And this is where it all started. A Photoshop sketch with the scene and composition that I had originally wanted. The powers that be wanted something else, so that's what we went with.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Dearth of Darth

Here are some more sketches from the Big Apple Con this past weekend. We've got the nefarious Darth Vader brandishing his bad goods... along with the most fearsome Colossus to ever be placed on paper.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Podcast Interview with Sidebar

I've got a new interview that was just posted at Sidebar. Thank you to Swain and Dwight for a great experience. Be sure to check out their other interviews as well, especially Drew Struzan and Brian Stelfreeze.

Also, this past weekend was the Big Apple Con. There were lots of fellow creators and avid collectors milling around the cramped Penn Plaza Pavillion and I had a great time. Thank you to all the collectors who got commissions (such as the Katchoo pin-up above). I'm sorry I couldn't sketch for everyone, but thank you all for asking. It's a nice feeling to be in such high demand. I'll post the remainder of the pin-ups as I get them formatted.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Don't Ask.

Um... this was done for a friend earlier this summer. The layers of inside jokes resemble the structure of an onion, wrapped in an enigma, stuffed inside a turducken. All that aside, I was happy with the finished piece.

Also, I'll be at the Big Apple Con starting tomorrow. Stop by if you have a chance.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thanks, Orpheus!

Back in August, I was lucky enough to get an intern by the name of Orpheus Collar. He helped me out for the entire month, which happened to be a critical time for me, since Mythos: Fantastic Four was due in September. He's a fan of Robocop (who isn't?) so I decided to do this sketch for him as a token of my appreciation (and since I didn't pay him jack).

Orpheus is a talented and hard-working junior at the Maryland Institute, College of Art. Check out his web-site if you get the chance. And if you don't, I'm sure you'll see his work published in the not to distant future.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Spectrum 14

I just received my hardcover copy of Spectrum 14: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art. I was lucky enough to get two pieces in this year, both from Mythos: X-Men, which came out in January 2006 (though I think I painted them in early 2005). The book seems bigger and nicer than ever and I'm excited to be a part of it. I'm already thinking about what I will enter next year.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Fantastic Three

There are four maquettes, but Johnny Storm (The Human Torch) is missing. I was originally going to sculpt him too, but my Peter Parker head from Mythos: Spider Man (which I'll post later on) was close enough to what I wanted... and I needed to get down to painting. For a more in depth explanation of the maquette process, please refer to the Steve Rogers post.

Again, just for scale, a pic of me holding the Thing. He's about 1 3/8" from the base of his neck to the top of his ever-lovin' dome.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Happy Helloween

Nothing fancy for this post. Just a Hellboy head sketch I did last year for a friend's daughter. Hope everyone has a scary (but safe) Halloween.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Halloween = Fantastic Four

Mythos: Fantastic Four comes out next Wednesday (Halloween). You can check out a six-page preview at

I've got a couple pieces in a show at the MoCCA that opens this Saturday night.

And I'll be signing and sketching at the Big Apple Con next month, November 16-18.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Different Points of View

Here are some more of the maquettes that I promised. They help me to think of things in three dimensions and set up lighting situations. Plus, I just like having them sitting around while I work. I think these are the only two I've ever painted — most I just leave bare. Below are some details from Mythos: X-Men, the book for which the maquettes were created.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Helen of Troy

Here's a sneak peek at my latest cover, just finished today. It's for the Iliad #1, part of Marvel's Illustrated Classics line. If all goes as planned, I'll be doing the covers for the entire series, 8 in all.

And this is the cover to #2 (along with a prelim sketch in Photoshop).

Monday, October 15, 2007

"Adding Corners"

At the beginning of this gargantuan project called Mythos, I got off to a really slow start. This was almost 3 years ago and I'm still not done. Sometimes I think it was worth it. Other times I think I could have "cut corners" without sacrificing the overall quality. Comic book writer Ivan Brandon says that I do just the opposite — that I actually "add corners" during the creative process. I don't dispute that, but I also feel it's a necessary part of the comics I want to make.

Anywho, this is a whole page of design sketches for Professor Xavier's hover-chair in Mythos: X-Men. I often think this is just one more way to procrastinate, especially when I didn't even use my favorite design, but it's also one way to get motivated for a large undertaking.

Currently, my favorite method of procrastination is blogging.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ditko Spidey

Here's a thank you pin-up for my roommate, Ryan Dunn, who was kind enough to make the Mythos: Spider-Man trailer for me this past summer. It's been several months, but I finally got around to it.

The pose is based off of a tiny Steve Ditko drawing on the first page of Amazing Fantasy #15, Spider-Man's first appearance.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Steve Rogers

Before I begin a new Mythos book, I usually sculpt small maquettes of the main characters— in this case, Captain America's alter ego, Steve Rogers. I use Super Sculpey Firm, a modeling compound that you can bake in your home oven, or with a heat gun. There is a small armature made of galvanized steel wire that's looped around inside the head for dimensional stability. I will often bake in two stages, one to create a firm grip on the wire, and the second for the real sculpting.

Lately, I've been lightly oiling the baked maquettes so that they reflect light in the same manner as skin. This is especially important for achieving naturalistic highlights.

I sculpt the hair in a style similar to the way that I paint, using broad strokes. I use a rake, which produces many of the same results as a brush, only in three dimensions. I try to think of the hair as a mass with direction and edges, rather than as individual hairs.

Sculpture has become an invaluable part of my painting process. The proportions and angles of an individual face are much easier to keep consistent when painting from a 3D model. Beyond that, complex lighting effects are much easier to produce. Also, by sculpting the character, I get a better sense of their features, allowing me to maintain the same likeness throughout the book, not to mention that I can "cast" the perfect face for the role.

Once I've made the maquette, it sits at my desk, always ready to "pose" for me. My friends probably got tired of me asking them after several years of modeling.

And finally, here is a picture to give a sense of scale. This is actually one of the larger heads, the others being around an inch tall. As I get them all photographed, I'll post my other maquettes, which range from a Ghost Rider skull with moveable jaw to Professor Xavier's hover-chair from X-Men.

Friday, September 28, 2007

'Ringo Tribute

If you've read comics in the past decade, then you've probably heard of Mike Wieringo. I never met him, but I would've liked to, and I had no reason to believe that I wouldn't, since this industry has been very kind to me from the beginning, allowing me to meet most of the heroes of my youth at conventions and social events.

If you've kept up with comics news since August, you've probably heard that he has since passed away due to a heart attack no one would've ever predicted. From everything I've heard about him, he wasn't just a great artist, he was one of the nicest guys in the industry.

I don't have much to add that hasn't been said already, but I thought I'd share a copy of his Spider-Man that I did my junior year of high school . I copied it from an issue of Wizard Magazine while sitting on the bench of my high school soccer team — I literally played 4 minutes all season — dreaming of one day becoming a comic book artist.

Apparently, dreams do occassionally come true. I'd like to thank 'Ringo for being one of the most positive influences on the comic industry, community, and artistic hopefuls.