Archive for April, 2010
Gene Lehman motivated me to draw this piece for my daughter, Sarah. As devoted nature lovers, Gene and Sarah share a similar passion.
He once created a card with a perfectly executed profile of a fox. That card served as the inspiration for me to attempt this drawing.
I recall using two sources for this piece. One was a “National Geographic” photograph, but the other source is now lost down the dark and winding path that is Amnesia Lane.
It is not without its faults. The most glaring example is the snout. Poor creature.
Regardless, I have a certain warm affection toward it since it is both an homage to a great artist and a gift to my daughter.
Three of the less-admirable attributes of the human condition are symbolized in the three knaves before you. They are as utterly encompassed, entrapped, ridiculous and defenseless in their weaknesses as they are by the tub.
The butcher is rapacious. He loves to rend and to rip and to spill blood, whether through gossip or directly to one’s face. He relishes tearing people apart. He’s duplicitously looking away from his shipmates so that the inevitable attack will be unexpected.
The baker is bloated with smugness, contentedly oblivious to everything except his enervating and all-consuming self-satisfaction. He is devoured by his own imperturbable pride, filled with that which cannot provide sustenance. Like a rodent that has filled its belly with plastic, he’s simultaneously sated and starving.
The candlestick maker has only light thoughts and neither desires nor appreciates anything more. He knows everything about entertainment and fashion, but nothing about religion and philosophy. He struts about dressed in his finery while shambling about with a ragged mind. He knows and cares only for feeble, short-lived candle flames and is blithely ignorant about the sun or that mysterious, all-encompassing darkness which separates star from star.
All in all, they’re just three threadbare souls with empty potential.
My pal and independent publisher of Apogee Comics, Wheeler Hall, is releasing an ashcan of All Top Comics #14 this Saturday and Sunday (April 24 and 25, 2010) at S.P.A.C.E., a small press and independent publishing comics exposition in Columbus, OH.
This ashcan contains three stories, all re-imagined by local artists from Dayton, OH, from one of the comics that Dr. Fredric Wertham blamed for juvenile delinquency in America back in 1954. The cover is also the thrilling work of a local artist, too. This re-creation was inspired in part by the Fantastic Four No. 9 project, commissioned by Jason Young.
In honor of the release, I am re-printing my story – “The Copy-Cat Killers” – from the ashcan here on Potter’s Sketchbook. But not all at once.
Here’s the catch: Remember those weekly serial episodes (Flash Gordon, The Phantom Creeps, The Adventures of Kit Carson) released every Saturday afternoon to warm-up the audience for the big budget feature film? Unless you attended the movies before television serials became popular in the mid-1950s, you probably don’t. But I digress. Each week, the audience would have to return if they wanted to see what happened to the hero and finish the story.
In homage to the Saturday Matinee Serial, I am re-printing “The Copy-Cat Killers” in nine installments as my first Sunday Afternoon Comics Serial. Return each week to see if our heroine saves the day!
While living in Japan, my wife, Kathy, fell head-over-heels in love with kabuki theater. Now, as you might have guessed, I enjoy the subtleties of Krazy Kat, but Kathy vainly tried to introduce me to the art that is kabuki.
(True story: I’m so ignorant that when she mentioned she had a crush on the actor (Bando) Tamasaburo (V), I thought she was saying Thomas Saburo.)
Back to the point, Kathy kept trying and trying to make me understand kabuki with all its stylizations, elaborate make-up, epic drama and tragedy–so much style, in fact, each movement the actor executes has significant meaning. During this time, I was reading Moby-Dick, and I noticed the similarity between the novel and Kathy’s description of kabuki.
I imagined what it would be like if the mysterious, bigger-than-life epic grandeur of the novel was interpreted by the mysterious (at least to me), bigger-than-life epic grandeur of kabuki. When attempting to give expression to the ultimately inexpressible, would the facades of different cultures impede understanding or are ineffable universal themes discernible to all mankind, no matter the means of conveyance? That is, would 19th century American literature and ancient oriental theater share a common thread, a similar vocabulary for describing a profound theme?
I thought, well, kabuki is drama and there are few fictional characters more dramatic than Captain Ahab, a monomaniac who presumes to challenge nature and nature’s God and winds up destroyed. The actor is supposed to represent Ahab, if Melville’s novel was performed as kabuki.
I wanted his face to show a heartless, fervent focus yet to also express at its core a blind idiocy, an unawareness of anything but its own monomania; a sharp mind but a numbsoul… or at least a soul subsumed, consumed and racked by said monomania.
The idea was to show the keen concentration involved in the actor’s movements (Ahab’s determination) surrounded by the wildly swirling hair (the insanity of Ahab’s quest. Plus the hair was supposed to be the mad majestic swirling and roaring of the ocean waves, especially when fighting the whale and Ahab’s own roaring self-destructive madness). And that’s the story behind the above drawing. Enjoy!
OK, Panic! published its second theme today. As you probably surmised from the title, we were tasked with honoring the impeccable talents of Rob Liefeld. To be honest, I didn’t read most of the ’90s comics that littered the pop art world, so I don’t feel one way or the other about Liefeld (I’d rather look at Steranko or Frazetta art personally).
Having said that, I know he is much maligned by fanboys. They say he swipes art, can’t draw feet, and designs heroes (male and female) that could never fight evil-doers (let alone stand-up) because of their inability to move after toppling over from the weight of muscle and/or breast tissue attached to their persons. Mostly, he’s given credit for starting the whole variant craze that some argue brought speculators into the comic book market and ruined those aforementioned ’90s books. (The guy did manage to sell 4 million copies of X-Force to 50 different people). Yet, others say, ‘Give the guy a break.’
Well, for good or bad, you can find my tribute to Mr. 501 Blues at www.ok-panic.net, and the blue foil enhanced variant can be found right here on my blog. It’s right above this post. Go ahead. Look at it already.
The figure in this piece bears only a passing resemblance to EA Poe because I wanted to make more of a psychological impression. I also drew it on the assumption that many people are most familiar with his appearance from daguerreotypes made after his wife, Virginia, died. In earlier ones, before his wife’s death, he looks healthy, handsome, and quite debonair, but I aimed to capture the debilitated and deteriorating Poe.
Using the latter daguerreotypes as inspiration, I hoped to show the once strong psyche as weakening, even splintering and shattering into many pieces and blown away like chaff in the relentless wind, both from the shocks and trials of life and also from approaching physical impairment. There, behind the crumbling barricade of flesh and mind, a prodigious but now melting intellect still abides on its besieged throne, ruling over its subjects.
Those subjects are his creations, and they take shape as the images below the poet. And while the life of the poet will fade away, his works will continue on. As you examine the drawing, see if you connect the images in the illustration with Poe’s works. There should be 40 connections that you can make from the images provided, and that’s one image for each year of Poe’s life.
OK, Panic! is a site administered by my friend, Wheeler Hall. He asked me and three other local artists (Pat Kain, Eric Shonborn, and Jason Young) if we would like to be a part of his bi-weekly art collective. Click on the thumbnail above to see a larger version of the self-portrait I sketched for the site.
Here’s how it works: Every two weeks, the artists are presented with a theme from popular culture. Each, then, envisions and realizes an illustration or other piece of art in the style of his choosing using the established theme as a jumping off point. There’s a lot of freedom and fun to be had in this collective, and I am happy to be a part of it.
That’s why I’m sharing it with all of you in this post. So, hurry up! Head on over to OK, Panic! and check out some really cool art. And remember to go back again and again (at least once every two weeks) to see my new posts there.