Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Human Torch—Don't Try This at Home

Mythos: Ghost Rider, Page 21 (panel 2 detail). 2006.
Acryla Gouache and gouache on bristol board, 8.5 x 12".
Original Art

In the summer of 2006 (as if it weren't hot enough) I enlisted the help of a friend of mine from high school whose particular talents used to get him in a lot of trouble. Shane Lacker—we called him "Slacker" for short—eventually found a suitable outlet for his life's passion at Universal Studios. A new park, Islands of Adventure, had just opened up when we graduated in '99 and he landed a job as a grip boy on The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad Stunt Show. He eventually worked his way up to roving pyrotechnician for the entire park. He's now working on their Harry Potter attraction, due to open this summer.

When I was in the midst of painting Mythos: Ghost Rider (and soon to be on Fantastic Four) I was in need of great fire reference. During my trip home to Florida that June, I got the bright idea to ask Shane if I could photograph some of his stunts. With an eagerness that made me think he had always wanted to set me on fire, he suggested that I try it myself. After every assurance was made that it was completely safe, I agreed to this insanity.

Once I had signed away my life, he took me into the park where his team padded me up and doused me with flammable chemicals, including a gel that completely covered my face and hair. Although I had intended to get particular poses and angles, once I was on fire, those concerns magically faded away. We ended up just doing whatever we thought was funny at the time (and whatever the available props and wardrobe would allow).

While an amazing experience, I have to stress that this was done with a professional stunt team, so please don't try this at home (or anywhere) without the supervision of experienced technicians.

Mythos: Fantastic Four, Page 17 (panels 3-4). 2007.
Acryla Gouache and gouache on bristol board, 11 x 17".
Original Art

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 100 (!)

It's the moment you've all been waiting for: Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 100! If this doesn't break the internet in half (or at least thirds) then I don't know what will. It's an occasion so special, even my ex-girlfriend agreed to be included in the photos. It all started back in March of 2008 when I thought it would be funny to post the multitude of ridiculous photos that I take in the name of comics. It has grown to become my most popular feature (at least according to site traffic) and I plan to keep posting until I run out of pics (which won't happen anytime soon).

Mythos: Captain America, Page 18 Spread. 2008.
Acryla Gouache and gouache on bristol board, 22 x 17".
Original Art

This was one of my most involved pages from Mythos: Captain America, and so I saved it until the end of the project. That, of course, left me with less than a week to complete the entire painting, which led to a flurry of frantic days and nights with next to no sleep.

Paul Jenkins' script called for a battle scene with the Avengers, but left the specifics up to me. Knowing which characters I wanted to paint, but not which stories would have featured such a roster, I consulted my editor, Tom Brevoort, who suggested Avengers #100.

Barry Winsor Smith. Avengers #100. 1972.

In order to expedite the preliminary layout stage, I set up my camera and tripod and just did whatever popped into my head. I had a list of all the characters I wanted to include and would cross each off as I found a suitable pose. Normally, I come up with the pose first, then take reference to hone the anatomy and perspective, but I didn't have enough time. Furthermore, this was a one-shot image, so storytelling wasn't much of a concern—everyone just needed to look "cool."

Preliminary Layout. Pencil on paper, 14 x 11".

Digital Color Study. Photoshop.

Without further ado, here is the "wacky reference." I compiled all the photos into two large images, so be sure to click on them for maximum embarrassment. I'm pretty sure I had the house all to myself that day.

Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see just how far I'll go to get accurate reference. It's downright scary.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mythos: Hulk — Do Not Grab

Mythos: Hulk, Page 19 (panel 3). 2006.
Acryla Gouache on bristol board, 8.5 x 12".
Original Art

Paul Jenkin's script called for an intense action sequence in which the Hulk crashes through the cockpit of a Blackhawk helicopter. I went with the Apache attack helicopter, instead, because of it's more menacing appearance. However, as I searched through photos on-line, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were "DO NOT GRAB" signs on certain parts of the interior. I arranged the composition so that the Hulk rips through the cockpit floor and, well, grabs them. It was a juvenile joke, but it was too good to pass up—and after all, I was just being true to life.

Detail, original grayscale art.

Mythos: Hulk, Cover. 2005.
Oil on masonite, 16 x 24".
Original Art

Yet more embarrassing pics of me:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spectacular Spider-Man #14

Spectacular Spider-Man #14, Page 6 (panels 3-4 detail).
2004. Oil on masonite, 16 x 24".

I must admit, when I first read Paul Jenkin's script for the issue, I was more than a little disconcerted. Essentially, he was asking me to faithfully portray a spastic, quadriplegic young man who was confined to a wheelchair by cerebral palsy and utterly dependent on his family for the most basic of necessities... in the same story as Spider-Man. This being my first full issue for Marvel, not to mention my first crack at the flagship character, I was very nervous about making a first impression.

Spectacular Spider-Man #14, Page 4.
2004. Oil on masonite, 16 x 24".

I had just moved to Brooklyn with three other friends from school and, as would soon become quite common, I asked one of them if he would be willing to play the part. Ryan Dunn was the roommate that I knew the least well, so this was a fairly interesting way to get to know him better. He did a fantastic job, studying all of the reference I had collected and following my directions perfectly.

The book garnered a great response when it hit the stands, which was a huge relief. In addition to the honest depiction of our main character, Joey, I think the naturalistic, painted style made my job much easier—I don't think the same story would fly in my current "cartoony" style, to say the least.

I should add that after publication, Ryan found himself at a beer garden in Queens with a large group of people, close friends and otherwise. As the night wore on, his short-lived "modeling" career came up in conversation. A guy—who, apparently, read Spider-Man—said, "Dude! I thought you looked familiar!"

A big thanks goes out to Ryan for letting those photos go public. To make it up to him (and because it's slightly more embarrassing) here's an example from his actual modeling career, a photo shoot for Topic Magazine.

Spectacular Spider-Man #14, Page 20 (panel 3 detail).
2004. Oil on masonite, 16 x 24".

Of course, no wacky reference post would be complete without an embarrassing picture of me, so here I am dressed up as Spider-Man, having a heart to heart with Joey. I had a full-on beard under that mask—it was itchy. My 'rents provided the custom costume, while three months of no exercise and eating cookies to stay awake provided the kankles.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

1998 Called...

X-Men: Age of Apocalypse (after Joe Madureira).
1998. Pen and marker on bristol board, 11 x 17".

... they want their X-Men copy back.

For my 16th birthday, two friends of mine teamed up to buy me the Marvel Universe coffee table book, which I pored over for hours on end. It included a tiny reproduction of the above cover—it couldn't have been more than an inch and a half tall—by one of my favorite artists, Joe Mad. These were pre-internet days (at least for me) so I had no idea where to find his work or even what all the different titles and numbering systems meant (still don't really understand). All I knew is that I loved his work and this was my only example aside from Wizard Magazine.

For my 17th birthday, my 'rents bought me a HUGE Prismacolor marker set and I built up the courage to start coloring in my work. This was probably my most successful attempt and I remember being pretty proud of it at the time. In a future post, I'll show a particularly upsetting failed attempt.

Before I sign off for the weekend, I just wanted to remind everyone about next week's "festivities." An event nearly two years in the making, Wacky Reference Wednesday No. 100 will feature my most embarrassing pictures yet, and will be flanked on both sides by reference-related anecdotes Monday through Friday. You have been warned. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 99

Mythos: Captain America, Page 15 (panel 1 detail). 2008.
Acryla Gouache and gouache on bristol board, 11 x 17".

I had always wanted this panel to be part of a double-page spread, extending out to the left to display the vastness of the Allied Powers' invasion of Normandy, but we had limited space and I had already extended one page (the Avengers spread) into two. Most of the reference for this composition came from the WWII books and various images found on-line. The photos below were mostly taken for general lighting and gesture, so I didn't follow them all too closely. Although one of the maquettes is supposed to be Peter Parker, the features are generic enough to pass for a young Bucky Barnes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Daredevil #507 Cover

Daredevil #507 Cover. 2010. Gouache and
Acryla Gouache on bristol board, 11 x 17".

Marvel's June Solicitations are up and my cover for Daredevil #507 is among those featured. I'll have a step-by-step post at some point, most likely next month.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spidey Sketch

Character Study Sheet (Spider-Man detail). 2010.
Pencil on bristol board, 11 x 17.25".

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Moleskine—Airport Sketches

Airport Sketches. 2009. Pencil on paper (Moleskine Sketchbook), 7 x 5.5".

I celebrated my birthday last night by going to the Westside Rifle and Pistol Range and unloading 50 rounds into 2 pieces of paper. I wore my Punisher t-shirt. It was fun.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Day Has Finally Arrived...

Self-Portrait. c. 1989. Pen and colored pencil on paper.

I am officially on Wikipedia (and didn't have to do it myself)!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 98

The White Queen (Tending the Hellfire). 2009.
Acryla Gouache and gouache on bristol board, 11 x 17".

Chris, my patient patron, I am so, so sorry you had to see this, but it's been burning a hole in my iPhoto for some time now. And to make it up to the rest of you, I've included a detail of her, um... glove. If any of you now have mixed feelings about this piece, just imagine how conflicted I must have felt while painting it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

1996 Called...

15th Birthday Party Invitation. 1996. Photocopies,
Expresso Pen, and Sharpie on copy paper, 11 x 17".

... they want their birthday invitation back! In celebration of my 29th birthday (today), here's my party invite from 14 years ago. I've only got one more year to be in my 20s, so it's time to get crazy (after I hit all my deadlines, of course)!

There are only 3 (and a half) original drawings on that bustling, crowded composition: the musical chair, the Tick (on the right) and the cat. If I remember correctly, the cat belonged to some girl I was trying to impress. While I'm sure she was very happy with it, things did not pan out the way I had hoped.

Sadly, I haven't matured much since then.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

1995 Called...

Venom (after Tom Lyle). 1995. Expresso Pen
and Sharpie on copy paper, 8.5 x 11".

... they want their Venom copy back.

Last week, I finally got the opportunity to draw Venom for Marvel Comics, something I've been dying to do for a long time. I can't reveal it just yet, so I thought I'd share my earliest attempts at the character, including some I've posted previously.

I copied the above image from my Maximum Carnage trade paperback when I was in eighth grade. However, I only recently realized that I had since met the artist, Tom Lyle, at SCAD. It being one of my favorite renditions of the character, I actually copied it twice, the second time including a basketball in his hand (he was practically begging for it).

The Tick and Venom (after Ben Edlund and Mark Bagley, respectively).
1995. Expresso Pen and Sharpie on copy paper, 8.5 x 11".

Venom with Whip Cream (after Mark Bagley). 1995.
Expresso Pen and Sharpie on copy paper, 11 x 8.5".

I'm going to be blogging "lite" for the next couple weeks (in other words, just pretty pictures) so that I can gear up for the Wacky Reference Week at the end of the month—I've got some surprises in store, believe you me. But before I shift gears, tomorrow we'll be celebrating with one more blast from the past.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

First Strokes

Bruce Banner Studies (with Captain Obvious). 2006.
Acryla Gouache and gouache on bristol board, 8.3 x 6.8".

When I switched from oil paint to gouache and Acryla Gouache in 2006, I did several studies in order to familiarize myself with its properties. I've shown the page at the bottom of the post previously, but these were done even prior to that. As you can see, I was being fairly careless about the finish (and draftsmanship, in some cases)—I just wanted to see what the paint could do. Even though I planned on coloring Mythos: Hulk in the computer, I wanted to see what kind of "color" I could achieve using just grayscale. The warm and cool tones were created in two distinct ways: mass tone (cool) vs. undertone (warm) and manufactured gray (warm) vs. mixed gray (cool). By modulating those variables, you can attain a relatively broad range of hue.

Hulk Studies. 2006. Acryla Gouache and gouache
on bristol board, 8.3 x 6.8".

Mythos: Hulk Studies with Grayscale. 2006.
Acryla Gouache and gouache on bristol board, 8 x 10".

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 97

R. Kikuo Johnson. Building a Better Teacher, Cover. 2010.
Ink and watercolor on bristol board, 12 x 16".

My colleague (and long-time roommate), R. Kikuo Johnson, illustrated the cover story of last weekend's New York Times Magazine (you can see his other illustrations and read the article at their site). When he needed a quick reference for the cover figure, who better than a professional male model—me! While I admit that I'm not looking my best here, I know that personal vanities must surrender to the greater good if society is to progress (but man does my head look big).

At the bottom of the post, Kikuo was kind enough to provide us with a preliminary sketch for the cover (he uses Photoshop for color studies as well). The project took much longer than originally anticipated, going through several drafts and disparate iterations. It made me really appreciate the scarcity of revisions I'm required to make for my Marvel editors.

By the way, I'm going to count this as the first official preview of my current Spidey project. Those are pages from the 3rd issue on the wall behind me. You may not be able to see anything, but I'd probably get in trouble if you could. And besides, I think the big announcement will be next month.

Comic Book Artist?

My dad told me about this commercial and I had to look it up. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it's an actor playing a comic book artist, taking "Wacky Reference" with his Samsung phone. Despite the comments I've seen on various sites, I don't think it's any artist I know, nor is it artwork I recognize. But, as my roommate said, whoever did do it probably got paid a lot more than a comic book artist. Knowing the industry fairly well, I can already see a backlash coming if this is, indeed, a fake. Still, I think it's a great idea (but I would probably qualify as biased).

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Iron Man 2

Chance of Hale

Phil Hale. the poet must get his weeping done with.
2000. Oil on linen, 54 x 70".

I had the privilege of meeting Phil Hale, quite possibly my favorite painter, at the San Diego Comic Con in 2006. It was all thanks to Josh Adams, who was kind enough to bring him by my art dealer's booth. I bring this up because I recently saw this painting featured on David Apatoff's fantastic blog, Illustration Art, and it brought back memories from art school.

In my painting classes sophomore year, we were required to paint a master copy by a painter of our choice. I, of course, chose Hale during my second semester (Odd Nerdrum, the first) and was able to dig up some old jpegs of my attempt. I apologize for the poor quality—I've learned a thing or two about photography since the early '00s and technology has come a long way as well. The original resides at my parents' house in Florida... and there it shall stay in all its unfinished glory.

Phil Hale Copy. 2001. Oil on illustration board, 18 x 24".

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Morbius: The Inaugural Vampire

Spectacular Spider-Man #14, Page 12 (panel 3 detail).
2004. Oil on masonite, 16 x 24". Original Art.

What do Joe Quinones and I have in common (besides a RISD diploma, intense facial hair, and strong arms)? We both drew (and/or painted) Morbius, the Living Vampire in our first Spidey stories. I recently picked up his issue, Amazing Spider-Man #622, and I highly recommend it. For a sneak peek at the art, check out his blog. And for a 6-page preview, check out Comic Book Resources.

The artwork shown here is from my first issue, Spectacular Spider-Man #14, way back in 2004, when I was still painting in oils. I've got small jpegs of all the pages at my web site if you'd like to see more. Paul Jenkins had the idea to go for a creepier version of Morbius—more Nosferatu than 70s gothic—and I gladly obliged.

Spectacular Spider-Man #14, Page 6 (panels 3-4 detail).
2004. Oil on masonite, 16 x 24".

Last, but not least, here's a photo from our senior show in 2003. We all did parody art to advertise the event, Joe's being a Struzanesque Indiana Jones movie poster with all of us as characters from the film (you can see my poster here). This is us after the show reprising our respective roles.

Have a great weekend! Spring is almost here!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 96

Young Allies Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1, Page 16 (panel 4 detail).
2009. Ink on Marvel Art Board, 11 x 17.25". Original Art.

It's just me and the gang (of me) posing for this group shot of the Young Allies. I tend to take reference photos for hands more than anything else, so when there's a large group scene of characters interacting, I almost always end up with a ton of pics. It's also very useful for getting the wrinkles in suits just right, though I can fake that pretty well at this point.

I also wanted to mention that next week's Wacky Reference Wednesday will feature the same embarrassing pics of me you've come to expect, but with someone else's art (you can probably guess whose). Furthermore, we're counting down to Wacky Reference Wednesday #100, which takes place on April Fool's Eve! To celebrate, I'm extending it to an entire Wacky Week, for which I'll be posting every day with reference-themed anecdotes from my years as a comic book artist. I can't think of anything more exciting (which is precisely why it's on my blog).