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. www.peacepoint.tv/whatsnew.php

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!