Monday, January 19, 2009


I did this portrait for an online pal. In an odd coincidence, he's yet another guy I know who wears welding goggles and a handlebar mustache. Just like Doctor Tectonic! Maybe this is a fashion trend that I haven't heard about. *makes mental note to purchase welding goggles and regrow mustache; silently weeps over current lack of a mustache*

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Crimson Fist

These are some sketches I did for the Crimson Fist, a real-life "good guy" who dresses as a super-hero and does things like distributing care packages to the homeless. He contacted me about doing an illustration for him, but first we had to decided on a costume design. My favorite is the first one. It has a modern movie hero look, since it's based on motorcycle leathers -- just like the movie versions of Daredevil and the X-Men. I went into "anime" territory with the hair, to keep if from looking too aggressive. But the Crimson Fist preferred the second sketch, which has more of a classic comic hero look. In both cases, I designed them so they could be easily replicated as actual real-life costumes. And as it turns out, the Crimson Fist might have his favorite design made into a costume for himself! That'd be very cool.

I'm really happy with both of these. And I'm especially happy with how the style of them turned out. It's my first time experimenting with the combo of a fine-line pen and a heavy brush, and I think it gives my work a nice earthy, gritty quality. It's a tad like one of my favorite comic book artists, John Paul Leon. I'll probably incorporate this into the illustration I'm doing for the Crimson Fist (as well as a "clear line" 40's comics style which I can do). And I'd like to find some more projects where I can use this new style.



Monday, May 19, 2008

Doctor Tectonic


Here is fellow blogger Seth McGinnis, as his alter-ego, Doctor Tectonic. I made this illustration for him, in return for my using his tattoo ideas on my own alter-ego character, Blockade Boy.

Doctor Tectonic is a steampunk "mad scientist" with an Earthquake Cannon. I've depicted him posing for a daguerreotype at some fancy mad scientists' symposium. He's wearing the control harness for his egg-shaped robot mecha. The pose is borrowed from a public domain 19th-century engraving, although the original figure was not nearly as robust, and he was wearing a fur coat which obscured his arms and most of his chest and trousers. Seth really does have the same magnificent whiskers as Doctor Tectonic. He even owns a similar pair of goggles! The background is based on the type found in a lot of Matthew Brady portraits.

I did the ink drawing in fine-point Sharpie, and scanned it into Illustrator. I then added the color. This was my first time using the gradient mesh tool. I like it! It definitely makes the colors more lush.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Losers

Over on my Blogger blog, I'm in the middle of a storyline about the Blockade Boy Revenge Squad. They're like the Superman Revenge Squad, only lamer. Much, much lamer. I did head shots for them, converting line art (felt-tip pen!) into an Illustrator file using LiveTrace, and then I laid in color underneath it. I made the color sections "off-register" on purpose, because I thought it gave the cartoons a nice 1950's look. I feel like I'm improving in my cartooning skills, now that I've figured out an expressive way to draw eyes. Most of the Squad members have appeared in Silver or Bronze-age Legion of Super-Heroes comics. Here's a few of the guys on the team:


Calamity King, who wore a space-age Robin Hood hat in the comics. My version is also fond of kooky hats, but is much hunkier, in a Tom of Finland way. Ergo the muttonchops. He's handsome, and he knows it. Smirky bastard.


Polecat, who can emit a stink-cloud from his horns. In his first appearance, he was drawn by the late Jim Mooney as a dork with a bad haircut and an overbite. I didn't realize how much my version resembled Fisher Stevens until after I drew it.


Rann Antar, hapless alchemist. In the comics, he created a formula for turning feathers into lead, and after being rejected for membership in the Legion of Super-Heroes, he was never seen again. I based my version on the old Flash Villain, Doctor Alchemy, who was a mentally-unbalanced alchemist in a turquoise-blue hood. Since Rann didn't have a codename, I'm calling him Intern Alchemy. Yeah, I know. It was the best I could think of.


Green Boy, who in the comics was a pudgy doofus in a lousy costume; with brown, buzz-cut hair and an alarmingly simian grin. Which you can chalk up to the artwork of the simply godawful John Forte (rest his soul). Green Boy's power is the ability to change the color of anything to green! He thought it would be helpful to the Legion as a camouflage technique, until they pointed out that most of the alien worlds they visit don't have green flora. My version is unkempt and gaunt, due to an ongoing depression over how lousy his superpower is. I sincerely hope he finds the help he so desperately needs.

Let's Go To Prison!


This is line art for a book that I'm illustrating. It's for teens and young adults, and it's about making good choices. I converted the line art into an Illustrator file, and added color. I'll post color versions after the book comes out.

This guy up there? He didn't make good choices in his life. Why, oh why did he sell a bag of loose Milk Duds? That shit ain't healthy.

I based the setting on a picture of an actual prison cell. The combination sink/toilet is just like it was in the photo. All stainless steel. Pretty modern lookin'. It wouldn't be out of place in the kitchen on "Top Chef." That circular hole on the left side? That's where the toilet paper goes. What will our prison system think of next?

What's that? You want to see more pictures from this book? Well, if you insist.

Here's Grandma Moses (no, seriously):


The image is based on a photograph of her. I flipped it (but kept the paintbrush in the proper hand) and changed up the background.

Here's an enterprising lady who is marketing her own line of makeup:


I've done way more pictures, but I think this is a nice cross-section.

And I plan to post to this blog more regularly, since I'm doing more art nowadays.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Santa's Little Helper


This is Gadfly Lad, a character I created for my Blockade Boy blog. He's a shrimpy nineteen-year-old detective, with scant body hair, a peachfuzz mustache, and scraggly sideburns. In other words, he looks like I did, back in college. Plus, he slicks his hair down with about a gallon of gel every morning. He's from the planet Imsk, a famous location in Legion of Super-Heroes lore. Like all natives of Imsk, he can shrink down to doll-size -- and even smaller! He's already pretty petite, though.

His costume references the one Shrinking Violet wore, during the Legion's 1970's incarnation... y'know, the one with a lot of exposed cleavage, and a very stylized arrow pointing down to her lady bits. Gadfly Lad's outfit parodies the hyper-sexualized costumes that super-heroines are sometimes drawn with, with the added twist that he doesn't have much to show off. Oh, and his flying harness is based on this model, from a WW2-era Justice Society of America story:


I don't think any of my readers have figured that part out, yet. Or at least, they haven't said anything.

Gadfly Lad is very smart, but he's not well-versed, socially. This has led him into acting like a know-it-all; a world-class eavesdropper and buttinsky; and a "rules Nazi" on par with the worst cases from the world of D&D. And because he's not all that comfortable talking to people face-to-face, he's prone to addressing folks from over their shoulders.

I created Gadfly Lad specifically to spark conflict with Blockade Boy. As a former space-pirate and a habitual trespasser, Blockade Boy isn't much for rules. He's fearless, very opinionated, and a bit of a bully at times (although he'd never admit it). So I thought it would be fun to put Blockade Boy and Gadfly Lad in a setting where they're coworkers. When Blockade Boy was a space-pirate captain, he could "pull rank" on his crew, in order to get his way. He can't do that with Gadfly Lad. And it drives him apeshit.

In his current storyline, Blockade Boy has gone undercover as a futuristic mall Santa Claus. Guess who got tagged to play the requisite "elf"? So now these two jerkwads have to spend lots and lots of time together. And since Santa "outranks" his elves, Blockade Boy has pounced on the opportunity to push Gadfly Lad around.

Since my whacked-out future/alien version of Santa owes more to Zeus and Odin than it does to Saint Nicholas, I decided that the elf would look a bit like one of Odin's ravens. It also gave me an excuse to keep Gadfly Lad in his flying harness, just like Blockade Boy managed to work a recolored version of his force-field bracelets into his Santa costume. This would be the second time I've drawn Gadfly Lad, and the first time I've drawn him "realistically."


Since I normally draw, y'know, attractive people, it was fun to depict somebody with a less-than-ideal body type. Gadfly Lad is small, but wiry. He's a "hard gainer", as the gym queens say. Also, his hands and feet are much larger, proportionally, than the average. (I accidentally made the feet two different sizes, but c'est la vie.) This is a little bit like my own physique -- not that I have large hands, but my wrists are ridiculously thin and delicate-looking*, so my stubby paws look huge by comparison. Just as in the cartoon version, Gadfly Lad sports a large, round noggin. I probably made it a little too big, to be honest. Without the body hair, he'd look like a little kid.

The costume's beaky mask is based on the "long nose" masks popular at the Venice Carnival. The straps for the flying harness have been incorporated into a variation on traditional German lederhosen. The hair is spiked up, like ruffled feathers -- by Blockade Boy, who trapped a shrunk-down Gadfly Lad in a jar and poked at his coif with a toothbrush. (Blockade Boy: dickish control freak.)

I needed reference photos of wiry, shirtless guys to add just the right amount of realism to my Gadfly Elf. A Google search on "Iggy Pop" did the trick!

iggy and the stoogesiggysplay

I also realized that Iggy's scoliosis/Elephant Man posturing was the kind of thing I had already pictured my wriggly, anxious Gadfly Lad doing. (See my original cartoon of him, which I created in October.) It was truly serendipitous.

*I've stopped wearing watches, because even the smallest men's watch is way too loose on my wrist. And no, I'm not about to wear a woman's or a child's watch. Wiseass.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I Say Thee, Ho, Ho, Ho

Over at my "Blockade Boy" blog, B.B. goes undercover as a mall Santa, on an alien planet, 980 years in the future. The beefy, oversexed hero discovers that time and distance have transmogrified the concept of "jolly old Saint Nick" into something like Dickens' Ghost of Christmas Present, as filtered through the brain of Robert E. Howard. (Not that he complains, of course.)


This is watercolor pencil and ink. I tried to loosen up my brush work, both with the watercolor mixing and with the inking. I think it turned out pretty well.

It took me a while to settle on a costume design. I knew I wanted his muscular arms and chest to be exposed, like a professional wrestler's, since it was the antithesis of the portly gent's physique. I tried different cloaks and unbuttoned coats on him. At one point, Future Santa had a tall, furry hat, like the Russian cousin of Santa, Grandfather Frost. Finally, I settled on just a simple cloak, chained together (under the beard) and a crown of holly. I put most of the details on the belt/codpiece and the boots. The bear image comes from old coats of arms.

Conceptually, I knew I wanted this less-than-welcoming Santa to pose in his chair like a barbarian king. Online, I found this iconic image of King Conan...


...and I knew right away it was ripe for parody/homage. I created Future Santa's barbed candy cane weapon based on Conan's spear.

My Future Santa also has an "elf" assistant, whose costume is raven-themed -- because Future Santa also looks a bit like the Norse god, Odin. I'll post that picture later this week (when I get around to drawing th' dang thing.)