Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy 2007!

Hope you all had a great year, here's wishing you all an even better 2007!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

For Love of Death

In the Marvel Universe, Death is portrayed as a person, sometimes as a beautiful woman, sometimes as a skeleton in a purple cloak. All she is missing is the scythe. And nobody loves death more than Thanos. Thanos is probably one of the greatest bad guys ever, created by (I believe) Jim "Cosmic is my Middle Name" Starlin. Thanos is always trying to impress Lady Death (TM & copyright Brian Pulido) by killing people for her. In this case he is about to sacrifice the Silver Surfer to her. But she's not impressed. Poor Thanos, he can never find a love connection. He should have just used J Date. Or eHarmony. Colors by Dean "Spunky" White.

The inked piece card. I blow up the rough thumbnail and lightbox it with pencil onto bristol board to ink. Sometimes if the thumbnail is really tight I just go directly to ink.
Here is the rough thumbnail idea. It was approved with no changes! Easy!

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Cosmic Cube!

'Nuff said.

Except maybe to add that I'm proud to say I drew this all by myself without looking at any reference material. Because it's a cube. And it's cosmic. The Kirbyesque cosmic space was fun to do, but I probably messed it up in the coloring.*

*Note: the thumbnail above is not the actual colors, click on it for a larger version with the proper color scheme. For some reason, Blogger compressed or corrupted it into a weird negative image. Looks like Christmas in the Negative Zone!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hooked on Crack (or The Death of a Blog)

I'm hooked on crack.
WarCrack, that is. It's like a drug (don't start, kids!) and it'll eat up your life in small increments (if you're lucky). Massive increments if you're not. I've had friends who have lost hours, days, weeks and entire months of there lives to this insideous drug-- um, I mean, game. It's just a game and I can quit any time I want.

Now I don't have a Playstation. Never bought an X-Box. No video games at all. Oh, I WANTED to, but I stayed strong. No video games for me, because I know how I am, addictive personality and all. I would never get any work done, so video games stayed out of my house and my studio. It's like a recovering alcoholic who removes every drop of alcohol from their house ,(don't forget the cough syrup) I kept my home pure. Clean. Amish, almost.
I resisted the entire MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) concept. It's evil. Evil, I tells ya! My "friend," we'll call him "Chris," has been after me for two or three years to play WarCrack. I said no every time. But I finally gave in and played a demo (a 10 day demo, what could it hurt?) because I had some free time on my hands and was bored out of my mind in a small town. Now I'm hooked.
The Five Stages of Warcraft cartoon by Dave 'Fargo' Kosak sums it perfectly. I think I'm already in Stage 4, God help me!

So if I never post on this blog again, you'll know why! So there!

Lost on Chaos Island

So you think those guys on Lost have it tough? Survivor not tough enough for you? Try surviving on an island with Velociraptors! That's the goal (I think, I never actually played it) of this PC game from Dreamworks Interactive. I did some cover concepts and this was a sketch that never got used. Any day I get to draw a dinosaur is a good day for me, though! So there!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Thing About Doom

I recently got to contribute a few cards to Upper Deck's The Heralds of Galactus booster set. What a fun gig! The set features all of Marvel's cosmic beings like the Silver Surfer, Dr. Doom, the Watcher, and of course, Galactus himself! You can check out a sample gallery of the set here.
The colors are by good friend and master debater Dean White. I was expecting your average blue sky, an orange Thing and your garden variety green Doctor Doom. But Dean is never satisfied with "average" and that's why I love the guy! He brought a whole new sense of drama and doom to the scene with a blood red sky and by making the sparks from the Doombot that the Thing is ripping in half into the strongest light source. I was floored. Dean is a genius.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The New Yorker

Just an old commission I found in my archives. The original was done in pencil, ink and watercolor. It's a parody of The New Yorker's famous first cover. But instead of a snooty aristocrat, I made him a chimpanzee. I forget why exactly, but I'm sure it was very funny to me at the time. So there!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Work I do When I'm Not Working

I hardly ever accept commissions because I hardly ever have time to do them. I'm always on (multiple) deadline(s) it seems and when I finish one job, two more take its place. I'm just lucky/cursed that way, depending on your point of view. So like many artists, commissions always end up being the last thing to do on my list. Right after alphabetizing my CDs or changing the batteries in my smoke detectors. But they always get done. Eventually.

Here's a Hulk cover/commission I recently completed. It was actually a lot of fun to do. I started trying to find a style I liked for the Hulk since this was my first time drawing him believe it or not. I love the Jack Kirby design, the original look that was loosely based on Frankenstein's monster:
Bruce Timm does a great take on the Kirby version which I also love. There might be a little Art Adams influence in there in terms of the Hulk's head shape and his body's build. So I set out to do a Kirby/Timm/Adams style without copying any one artist too blatantly. I wanted it to feel like those old classic Marvel covers. Since he's fighting the Fantastic Four, I figured that was the way to go! So I worked up this rough sketch in blue pencil and regular old plain #2 pencil: I then tightened that up in the pencils. Why I pencil so tight when I'm inking myself, I have no idea. I should really loosen up! I tried to indicate all that "Kirby Anatomy" on the Hulk, without actually copying Kirby anatomy because I couldn't figure it out if I tried! Kirby became almost a genre unto himself with all those cool little squiggles and graphic shorthand he developed. That's why he's The King and I'm not even apprentice to the court jester! Then I inked it using a Hunt's #102 nib, a Windsor Newton Series 7 brush and some markers. I hate inking myself for some reason. Maybe it's because I've already worked everything out at the pencil stage and I'm sick of the drawing by the time I get to inking it. It's like drawing the same thing three times! I wanted to give it a little Joe Sinnott feel, he was always my favorite Kirby inker and since the FF are in it, I kind of have to! I was pretty happy with the hair on the Hulk (that's one Arthur Adams detail that snuck into the finished piece!). Also, I probably put a little too much detail into the rubble; I even went so far as to brake out the old black crayon for texture! The reason I feel the detail is a bit much is that you wouldn't see that much rendering in the classic era of Marvel comics that I was going for. Aw, well. So what!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Vader vs. Maul

It's Darth versus Darth to the death! I get asked to do quick little sketches on 3 x 5 cards from time to time. I did this sketch on two cards that connect to form one image for a "13 year old Star Wars fan." At least he said in his letter that he was 13 years old. In the back of my mind, I always dred that it's a 40 year old comic book collector (think Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons) who will then sell my free sketches on ebay, but I force myself to give people the benefit of the doubt. I'm not that jaded. Not yet. Not until I start seeing my sketches on ebay, anyway!

Quick tip: if you're an actual fan and you write me a handwritten personal letter or note, you'll probably get a sketch. If you send me a form letter with my name filled in that you printed out of your computer and mass email to everyone, I probably won't take the time, because you didn't take the time.

In any case, this sketch was fun to do, I've been looking at a lot of Shane Glines' work lately, and this was my attempt to do a cartoony, animated Star Wars. Kind of like Clone Wars, but done more in my style. I'm pretty happy with Darth Maul, I wanted to make him all pointy and sharp edges, playing up his whole Kabuki demon look. Darth Vader probably could have been simplified even more, but his design is do damn cool there's not much I could bring myself to take awat from it. So there!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Wonder Woman Day

Here's a marker sketch I'm donating to "Wonder Woman Day," a charity fundraiser at Excalibur Comics in Portland Oregon on Sunday, October 29th. It will be a fundraiser for two local women's/kids shelter. Andy Mangels is putting the whole thing together along with the Wonder Woman Museum.

Sunday, October 29, 2006 — beginning at noon
Excalibur Comics, 2444 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, Oregon
A part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It benefits two shelters for Women and Children:Raphael House of Portland and Bradley-Angle House.
With special guests signing and sketching: Terry Dodson (tentative) and Anne Timmons (Go Girl!), plus more to be announced!
* an on-site Silent Auction of original art sketches from comic artists, including: Adam Hughes, Alex Ross, Dan Piraro, Darwyn Cooke, Dave Johnson, Fred Hembeck, Gary Frank, Gilbert Hernandez, Howard Cruse, Jaime Hernandez, Jim Mahfood, Jim Mooney, John McCrea, John Romita Sr., Joseph Linsner, Marat Mychaels, Matt Haley, Michael T. Gilbert, Mike Allred, Paul Gulacy, Roberta Gregory, Terry Dodson, and more to come!
* All art will be matted, and some framed, with donations by Aeroframe and Jason Jones in Oregon City
* Fans can take photos with a gorgeous "Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman" mannequin.
* See an exhibit of top Wonder Woman collectibles
* An all-ages super-heroine costume contest!
* Door prizes, sale items (for charity), and raffles including toys, DVDs, comics, autographed Miss America items, a signed Allan Heinberg WW script, a WW comic art page by Colleen Doran, a WW print by Steve Rude, and more!
* The Canadian TV crew from the show FANatical will be filming the event for a WW-themed episode spotlighting comic professionals/collectors Andy Mangels and Anina Bennett.

So please attend or find out about proxy bidding to win some great art and help a great charity! Please bid often and bid high! Thank you!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


So who are your heroes? And no, I'm not talking about that new TV show on NBC. I'm talking about your personal heroes, people who have inspired and influenced your life. Who would be on your own personal Mount Rushmore? Here are a few of mine from MAD Magazine. I recently got to draw a tribute to one of my all-time heroes, the legendary Jack Davis. CAPS (Comic Art Professional Society) is honoring him with a lifetime achievement award banquet this month and this was my small contribution to what will no doubt be a massive book full of sketches and tributes to Mr. Davis. When I was a kid, I grew up on Mad Magazine. It inspired me to draw and taught me a lot about cartooning and drawing in general. I was especially drawn to the work of these four cartoonists: Jack Davis, Don Martin, Antonio Prohias and Sergio Aragonés.

Jack Davis
Jack Davis is a living legend, his work transcending all boundaries. From MAD, TIME, Sports Illustrated, EC Comics, movie posters and tons of commercial and advertising work you've undoubtedly seen his work. He was, at the height of his career, the highest paid illustrator in the world. Of course, I didn't know any of that when I was a kid reading MAD Magazine. I just loved his drawings.

Don Martin (1931–2000)
Don Martin was called "MAD's Maddest Artist." His style was unlike anything young Aaron Sowd had ever seen (or will ever see again, for that matter)! Mr. Martin was truly an original. His floppy feet and giant noses cracked me up. His bizarre hairstyles and slapstick humor always made me laugh. So much so, my own character Dr. Pimento from Masterminds has a little of the classic Don Martin-isms:

Antonio Prohias (1921-1998)
Antonio Prohias created Spy vs. Spy. When I was very young, it was one of my favorites. With no dialogue and clever contraptions and gadgets, the cartoon was perfect for a kid to follow. You didn't have to read, or even know English, to get the humor and the story. Brilliant stuff. I was lucky enough to get to draw Mr. Prohias' characters for the Spy vs. Spy video game box cover. How cool is that?

Sergio Aragonés
Sergio Aragonés went on to create Groo The Wanderer, one of my all time favorite comic books. But when I was a kid, Sr. Aragonés was famous for his wordless "drawn-out dramas" or "marginals" in MAD Magazine. Again, cartoons everyone could understand! Worldwide (and world class) humor!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Anybody else remember Hulkamania? Just me? I'm so old...

Here is more of my character design test for Marvel Animation. I wasn't 100% happy with it, I would have liked to simplify him even more, but I wanted to keep a slight resemblance to the Brian Hitch version from The Ultimates. Just trying to exaggerate and simplify him into simple shapes, but I probably didn't take it far enough. Or maybe too far, let's see what style they end up choosing! The first two Ultimate Avengers movies have tried (unsuccessfully?) to capture Brian Hitch's style exactly. Which is pretty much impossible to do in animation! So there!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Feeling a Little Thor...

I was asked to do a design test for Marvel Animation recently and while my designs were not ultimately (ha-ha!) choosen, it was a lot of fun to do! I tried taking a very cartoony approach, pushing my designs in a more Sean "Cheeks" Galloway direction. I thought it might be appropriate, since Joe Madureira was about to take over The Ultimates, and in my experience, big simple shapes always work best in animation. Unbeknownst to me, Sean was doing his own design test! His are a lot better than mine! I'm not sure whose designs ultimately (ha-ha!) got choosen, but it wasn't either of us. A friend of mine remarked that my designs were very "Michael Avon Oeming," so I'll take my compliments where I can get them! So there!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Get a Life! Or a Blog...

Get a Life was one of the funniest shows you've never seen. It ran on Fox for all of two years before getting cancelled but not before cementing Chris Elliot as a comedic genius in the mind of one young Aaron Sowd. So you can imagine my excitement when I got hired to do a promo poster for The Swinger, Chris Elliot's short film for Showtime. Chris Elliott plays a world famous minature golf champion and Bob Costas and Maury Povich are interviewed in this mockumetary. Costas' best line: "Sure, Tiger Woods is great, but has he ever won a free game?" It's directed by Mark Feldstein and Brad Roth, the guys behind Stun Creative. They wanted to do the poster in a comic book style and parody the Superman Returns posters since the title was going to be The Swinger Returns: Hmmm... Chris Elliot, comic books and Superman? Would I be interested? Hells yeah!

So here's the poster, in six easy steps. First the thumbnail, just a small quick sketch to get the concept approved. Chris is looking heroic in the Superman pose, holding his golf club and flying above the earth which I made into a giant golf ball: Once the basic thumbnail concept was approved, I did a tighter pencil sketch, working on getting the Chris Elliot likeness correct: When the pencils were approved I went to inks using a black Pentel marker and .01 and .005 Pigma pens. The Pental works like a nib and dries twice as fast which is perfect for advertising gigs when time is of the essence: Then I scanned in the inked Chris Elliot figure and colored him in Photoshop: The golf ball was created in 3-D and composited in Photoshop with the glows and stars. I know some people consider it cheesy, but I can't resist a good lens flare: Then the logos, tag line and text were dropped in to create the final poster. Ta-daa! Can you believe I actually get paid to do this stuff? I'm the luckiest guy in the world...

Mission Accomplished!

So what's better than sitting on the beach of remote Stone Island in Mazatlan, Mexico with a cold Pacifico? Nada, mi amigo! Back from vacation and ready to go! Bring 'em on!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I Might Need a Vacation...

There's a difference between wanting a vacation and needing a vacation. As a Type A personality and a self-admitted workaholic, I rarely take time off, let alone an actual vacation. I've got deadline upon deadline to meet and miles to go before I sleep! Did I just quote Robert Frost without even trying? Lookit that!

But a vacation?

"It might happen, tsshyeah, right, and monkeys might fly out of my butt!"

Fly, monkeys. Fly!


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ducks on a Blog!

So what's scarier than snakes on a plane? Ducks on a blog, of course! "I've had it with these mother f***ing snakes on this mother f***ing plane!" (*** added for your protection. I'm pretty sure Samuel L. Jackson doesn't say ***) I love that the movie hasn't even opened yet and it's already rated 5.5 stars out of 6 on You've gotta love the internet! Which is, according to Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), "a series of tubes." Take it away, Senator:

"They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck.

It's a series of tubes.

And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material."

"Well yeah. I was just sitting here, eating my muffin, drinking my coffee, when I had what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity."


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hulk Stare!

When the Hulk is not smashing, he spends a lot of time staring. And thinking. Thinking about smashing.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

A Little Less Conversation

Whew! What a week: San Diego Comic Con is over again for another year, and not a moment too soon! I talked so much I lost my voice. A little less conversation, a little more action please! But I did get to party with The King and Chewbacca, so how cool is that?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Padme Print

So what's new? The Padme/Amidala print I worked on finally came out! I think it was an exclusive on but I'm not sure. Acme Archives produces the prints and I know they sold out of them at the con. I hope everyone who wanted one got one! So there!

Friday, July 14, 2006

San Diego Comic Con!

Damn, has it been a year already? San Diego Comic Con is coming July 19th - 24th. Come on by the Masterminds Unlimited table at Q-5 in the Small Press area and say hi!

Seeya there!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Ninja Monkey!

Like most 12 year old boys, Ken would like nothing better than to spank his monkey, but his monkey spanks back. And kicks! He’s a Ninja Monkey, a deadly assassin trained in the martial arts and together, they must save the world!

KEN MURAKAMI, age 12, is the child star of a Monkey Show (Saru-mawashi). A Monkey show is a traditional Japanese performance: a showman commands a monkey that performs tricks such as splits, dancing, flying trapeze, acrobatics, wrestling, soccer, etc. In Japan, monkeys were once considered a lucky symbol, so monkey showmen were invited to festivals and samurai’s residences, traveling far and wide.

Many monkey showmen used their profession to cunningly mask their true craft: martial arts—they were secretly ninja! As monkey showmen, they were able to travel incognito, covertly gathering information and attacking the enemy.

Monkey shows and ninja were historically tied together. But following the industrial revolution and the advent of modern warfare, ninja became obsolete. Ken’s grandfather, Hiro Murakami, the last ninja posing as a monkey showman, and of the hundreds that once prospered, only his monkey show survives.

Ken’s mother and father have run the Monkey Show since just before Ken was born. So Ken has been raised with a monkey named Sarukichi, and has been trained to be a monkey showman since he was little. Ken travels the world with the circus, performing and training to be a monkey showman himself—and secretly, a ninja, too!

Grandpa is teaching Ken and Sarukichi to be “Monkey Ninja” and they are proving to be naturals in the Ancient Way. This makes Grandpa happy. He is ready to retire and needs a successor. But Ken’s father i s not happy, not at all. They live in a modern world and he wants his son Ken to focus on school and forget about all this ancient silliness.

Ken and Sarukichi endure Grandpa’s ninja training but what they really love is to perform in the monkey show—especially when there are pretty girls around. Being kids, they’re pretty lazy by nature and nothing motivates them more than having cute girls in the audience, cheering for them. But Sarukichi can’t get too close. Anxiety makes Sarukichi flatulent. When he gets nervous, he farts. And pretty girls make Sarukichi nervous.

Ken and Sarukichi have a pretty cool life, performing with a traveling circus , and they’re not sure that Father isn’t right about the secret ninja training being a waste of time. Then a young lady named Jessica McConnell enters their lives. She turns their heads, not just because of her beauty, but because of her job. She’s an undercover FBI agent. She needs their martial arts skills.

And here the Ninja Monkey’s real adventures begin…