Art I Kept For Myself Part 2

Sometimes I will work on a one-shot or short story and I will think to myself, “self- you should just keep all of the art to the story”, so I do.  It’s not necessarily because I love every page but maybe that I just like the whole story as a unit.  Or sometimes it is because I penciled and inked the story myself (rare, but it does happen) or I want to sell the whole story together but then later change my mind.

Unfortunately, I have a few of those stories that I sold a couple of pages from before deciding I should keep the whole thing.  I’m not going to show every page from every whole (or near whole) story that I have but one or two of my favorite pages from each.  (let’s face it, I’m too lazy to scan every single one and not every single one is worth featuring).

Years ago in the late 90’s (I think) I got the rare opportunity to write and draw a two-page MASK story for Dark Horse.  It was part of a my bigger jam book called, “Mask: Virtual Surreality” – I think.    Here are the two pages with word balloons on the page!

Maskpg1

I have to point out on the last panel of the first page, I should have made the Mask’s tongue much much longer.   Laying on the rocks in the foreground.  These are the things that still bug me.

Maskpg2

One of the heartbreaks of early in my career (and there are far too many) was the story I did for the once infamous Elseworld’s 80 page giant.  I did a story that featured Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent as Detectives in the 1930’s investigating some cultish murders.  I penciled and inked the story and it was the lead story in the book, a real showcase for me at a time that I desperately needed one.  However, do to the now classic “Superman’s Baby-Sitter” story by Kyle Baker the book got recalled shortly after a few hundred copies got shipped to the UK.  As a result, the book never got released in the US and became an instant collector’s item.  But because of the inevitable moral decline of the United States, the book was finally reprinted and released a few years ago by DC.

It is a 10 page story and here are pages 1 and 9 my two favorites from the story.  The title page (I like the design) and the page where Harvey Dent becomes Two-Face and the villainous cult leader is revealed to be (spoiler alert) Metamorpho!

You’ll notice the inks are a bit heavy handed.  I was still developing and learning my inking style at this point.

Elseworldspg1

Elseworldspg10001

I think not long after the Elseworld’s story I got the opportunity to do another 10-page story, this time in the Plastic Man Special.  For some inexplicable reason I sold two of the pages from this story.  I have the other eight but I wish I had those two back!

You can see the improvement in the penciling and inking from the Elseworld’s story.  I was on a fast learning curve during the 90’s where my work greatly improved in a short period of time.  You might be able to see some Kevin Nowlan influence in the first page inks.

PlasticManpg1

PlasticManpg2

 

To wrap up this blog I am going to revisit my 2-part Gen 13 Bootleg I did for Wildstorm. This again was a late 90’s effort, during a time where regular work was fleeting and I needed as many considerations from my friends in power as I could get.  It was Scott Dunbier, who was EIC at Wildstorm, who let me do this project.  Originally it was going to be written by Karl Kesel but he dropped out and I took the story idea we had discussed and fleshed it out to a finished plot.  The Simonson’s were brought in to dialogue in the hopes of boosting sales.  So I penciled and inked the pages and sent them to Walter to dialogue.  He was unable to do the second issue and Weezie stepped in and dialoged the second issue using my notes as a guide.  I’ll also say that Hilary Barta came in to ink a couple of pages when I got behind.

The pages featured here are all inked by me.   If you haven’t read this story (Gen13 Bootleg #’s 11 and 12) you should pick it up.  It’s a Scooby-Doo/Island of Dr. Moreau mash-up that features appearances by Shaggy and Marlon Brando as Dr. Monstreau (get it?)  The story features some really good art and some of my best layouts and story-telling devices I have ever done.

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Gen13Bootlegpg9

Gen13Bootlegpg12

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I could have easily picked 15 pages to feature from this book but settled on these four for no other reason than expediency.   Once again, I unfortunately sold 5 or 6 pages from this story that I wish I had back.

That’s it for this time.  Next blog will focus on my Garbage Man story.  Technically it fits into this blog’s category but because the volume of pages from the project is so great, I think it deserves a blog of its own!  Until then….

Art I Kept For Myself

A long time ago another artist (can’t remember who) told me that he always kept at least one page from every issue he drew.  That was a hard discipline back when I started because I needed to make money anyway I could.  Having every original for sale was an excellent way to hopefully make some extra cash.  As a result, I have several projects that I drew early on that I now have no pages left from.

It didn’t take too many years in, however, before I started implementing the sagely advice that someone (still can’t remember who) gave me.  I started pulling my favorite page from every issue (even if it were sale worthy) to hang on to and keep forever (or at least until I die and my kids sell it).

In some cases with short stories, I have kept the entire thing.  I do have a couple of minor regrets though.  I sold a couple of pages from a short Plastic Man story I penciled and inked many years ago that I wish I hadn’t.  I also let go of a few pages from my Gen 13 Bootleg story that I wish I still had.  Oh well, bill paying sometimes makes us do crazy things.

What I want to do with this particular blog is showcase some of the pages I have kept for myself over the years.  I know many are curious as to which pages an artist would keep of his/her own work and why.  Well, now it’s time to answer that question for me.

Let’s start not at the beginning but with possibly my most recognized work, at least it will be after the next Thor movie comes out….Planet Hulk!  I’m probably going to wish I’d kept all of the pages from this series as prices will inevitably rise due to the movie.

I drew a 10 page story for Giant-Size Hulk #1 that had something of a prequel Planet Hulk story in it.  From that story that had a lot of good Hulk pages in it, I kept two.  The first was the title page.  I did the title lettering myself on the board and for that reason, I held on to it.

PlanetHulk1

 

I would like to note that I was able to talk the great Danny Miki into inking this story and part of my run on the regular series as well.

The other page I kept from this story was this rather striking splash page.  It should be obvious why I kept it.  I almost sold it once but my son talked me into keeping it.  Ah, the wisdom of children.

PlanetHulk2

I few pages from my first issue of the regular series (issue #96) found their way into my private collection.  The first is this page featuring my first drawing of the Hulk’s love interest, Caiera.  That second panel really grabbed me.

PlanetHulk3

These next two pages are part of a sequence from issue #96.  The amount of detail and the Barry Smith foliage vibe, especially in panels 4 and 5 made we want to hang on to this.

PlanetHulk4

 

The bottom two panels here again with the foliage and detail and amount of characters made me want to keep this.

 

PlanetHulk5

 

This page took me forever to draw because of the amount of characters on it.  I love the first panel and the last panel.  It’s a great shot of the Hulk leading the charge and I love the Hulk’s body language in the last panel as he is turning back to see the rock slide descending on him.  I also love the face of the evil general in panel 2.

 

PlanetHulk6

 

Those are the last of the Danny Miki pages that I kept.  Sandu Florea took over for Danny, mid-way through the series.  Issue #102 is where Sandu really got rolling.  As a result, I kept several pages from that issue.  The first is this one.  The body language/pose of the semi-transparent alien in panel 2 along with the shot angle and the presence of all the major characters on this page made it a compelling piece of art for me.

 

PlanetHulk7

 

This page may seem like an odd choice but that shot of Miek before he goes into flashback in panel 1 is the reason.  It is a highly unusual angle and extremely difficult to pull off.  I loved how it turned out, so I had to keep it.

PlanetHulk8

 

I love every panel on this page.  The Hulk face and figure in panel 1, the Hulk in panel 2 with the creepy shadowed Meik in the background and that shot of the Hulk with his big hand reaching toward us in panel 3.

 

PlanetHulk9

 

This is the only splash page I kept from the regular series.  I think it has a Kirby sense of power to it and I love the Hulk’s expression as he pounds the Emperor.  For me, it is clearly the most Hulk-like splash page I drew.  The Hulk is smashing and that’s what he should be doing. There is a lot of detail and Sandu really pulled it together with his inks.

PlanetHulk10

 

This might be my favorite  page from the entire series (or at least my favorite panel). The page after this has a half page splash of Caiera huddling with the Hulk as the space vampires drain his blood that I sold but this I couldn’t let this go.  The blacks and three dimensional volume in panel one is reminiscent of Berni Wrightson (my childhood idol) and the posturing of the vampires just really works.

 

PlanetHulk11

 

The last of my keepers is this page.  Panel 2 says it all.  Of all the pages I have kept this is the one that was most frequently asked about.  I loved getting crazy with the distortion and detail on the Hulk’s face as he is infected with the vampire spores.  That panel would have been a great splash page.

PlanetHulk12

 

So those are the pages from Planet Hulk that I purposefully kept.  I have to say before I sign off that none of this would have been possible without the great script and input from Greg Pak.  This story is truly a classic and I was blessed to be a part of it.

Next entry will be Wonder Woman keepers!

 

More Color Commissions

Well it’s that time again……me waiting on a script.  When you have nothing to do, what do you do?  You take on a few more commissions, that’s what.  Only 4 this time as I am desperately hoping to have a script in hand on Monday.

The one good thing lately about doing all of these color commissions is I have been getting great requests from people.  It’s great to be able to draw a commission for someone when the subject matter is something you really like.

All of these are 11X17 and a combination of copic marker and colored pencil.  With this batch I was able to get through the left over requests from my previous run of commissions.

The first one I did was Poison Ivy.

PoisonIvy

 

Second was Deathstroke the Terminator.  This is a character that I have never drawn before.  It’s always fun to tackle new subject matter.

Deathstroke

Next up is one of my favorite DC characters.  The always popular but never translates into sales, The Creeper.  I tried to channel a little bit of Steve Ditko’s original wackiness into this piece.

Creeper

And finally one of my favorite odd ball characters from the 70’s, Iron Fist.  Bruce Lee’s popularity first brought about Shang-Chi Master of Kung Fu and was soon followed by Daniel Rand, Iron Fist!

IronFist

Three of the four commissions are headed for Australia.  I haven’t visited there since 1994, so I definitely need to get back there!

That’s all I have for now.  As always, thanks for looking.

Is there life on Mars?

I just recently received perhaps the most unique and interesting comic assignment of my career.  A Marvin Martian/Martian Manhunter Team-up book!  What the?!

Fortunately I am a HUGE Chuck Jones and Warner Bros. Cartoon fan, so I practically leapt at the opportunity to work on such a project.  The number one challenge was to redesign Marvin Martian so he fit a little better into the DCU but not lose his classic feel.   We had to be able to look at him and know that it was Marvin Martian and yet he had to be less Looney Tune and a little more Bat-Mite.

I did a couple of drawings starting with the classic take on the character to give us all a starting point to compare the progressions too.  The first redesign took the character a little too far.

MarvinMartianDesign

This next design hit the mark.  Clearly Marvin Martian but with just enough modernization to make him work in the DCU.

MarvinMartianDesignB

Now since I am right in the middle of drawing this book, I can only breakdown the cover art beyond this point, which is what I generally do in these blogs anyway.  So let’s take a look at the several cover sketches I did for this soon to be monumental book.

MartianA&B MartianC&DMartianE

Here’s how I viewed these.  I thought for sure that “A” would be picked, although “C” is clearly the best design but my favorite was and is “E” because it is an homage to one of Frazetta’s Buck Rogers Famous Funnies covers.  (if you don’t know what I am talking about it, google it)

So sure enough, “B” was chosen and after I finished penciling it, someone named Dan Didio discovered its eerie similarities to the cover of  Death of Hawkman #5 which I had recently completed.  I had indeed inadvertently pulled a “John Byrne” and ripped off myself.  So we decided to go with “C” which was probably the right call all along.

So I penciled the cover and actually remembered to scan it.

MarvinCvrPencil

I was actually able to work in a nice Frazetta planet in the background.  Like I always say, “If you can’t rip-off yourself, rip-off someone else.”

I then inked the pencil almost entirely with a brush.  The ray-gun and the design stuff on the helmet and armbands was done with a pen.

MarvinCoverInk

You can see that I added the floating asteroid field during the inking stage.  I just really felt like I needed something else in there besides space.  I created the stars the old fashioned way…by dipping a toothbrush into white-out and splattering it on the black.

Coloring was a challenge.  In Marvin’s first cartoon appearance he wore a green top.  But in his most famous appearance, Duck Dodgers, he wore a red top.  Probably because they put Daffy in Green and they both couldn’t wear the same color!  So Marvin has been in red ever since.  So I went with red.  I didn’t go with the white gloves because I thought it might be too Looney Tune-ish.  But the powers that be saw it differently…

MartianCvrFinal

So I changed the gloves to white.

MartianCvrFinalRevised

Then it was requested that I make his helmet and armor more shiney.  So I did that also.

MartianCvrAbsoluteFinal

 

So this was and is the final version of the cover art.  (Notice the groovy color hold on the orange moon behind Marvin).   This has quickly become one of my all-time favorite covers. That fact that Marvin Martian is on it might have a little something to do with it.

This book will be out in June and is a must read for Looney Tune nuts like me!

Thanks for looking!

 

Home Commission Extravaganza

What does an artist do when he is waiting on his next assignment or perhaps a late script? In my case, take commissions!  When I am at shows or conventions I will take commissions and draw them there.  Some times that drawing gets done in the hotel room but mostly at the table at the show.  I don’t do color work at shows (too time consuming) and I only work on 11X14 paper (anything bigger is too hard to handle while drawing on your lap).

So when I take on home commission they are almost exclusively color pieces on 11X17 art board.  Bigger pieces, in a controlled environment and no time limit to get it done and do a good job.

I have recently done a big round of home commissions because I was for 2 weeks waiting on the script to my next assignment at DC.  Still can’t say what that is but I can say I have received the script and am working on it now.  Which means the commissions are coming to end or a least a significant slow down.

So let’s take a look at some of what I have accomplished over the past two weeks.  All of these are some combination of marker and colored pencils.  In some cases a little paint to shake things up.

Captain Marvel, the first one I did.

 

 

CaptainMarvel2017

 

 

 

Huntress was second.

Huntress

Shrinking Violet was next.

ShrinkingViolet

 

Metamorpho was a request I couldn’t turn down.

Metamorpho2017

 

Although I have never been a big fan of Death (who is really?)(I think I’ve used that joke before) I always seem to produce pretty good looking commissions when I draw her.  I have to admit, I stole the tattered umbrella idea from Adam Hughes.

Death2017

It never hurts to work in a classic Marvel character now and again.

JGPhoenix2017

Plastic Man is one of my all time favorite characters and it was requested by the same guy who wanted the Metamorpho.  Clearly a patron with excellent taste.  Unfortunately my scanner broke before I could finish this one so this is a digital photograph doctored up in photoshop to try and approximate the correct color scheme.  It ain’t perfect but it is close enough.  This is probably my favorite piece so far.

PlasticManPhoto

Last one I will be sharing in this post is my most recent completion, Supergirl.  Again, digital photo doctored up in photoshop.

SupergirlPhoto2017

 

There are more but I think that’s enough for one post.  In the near future I will have to do a technique breakdown on how I do these.  Until then, thanks for looking.

Archie and Cheryl Blossom Cover

In the fall of 2016 I was approached by Archie Comics to do some covers for them.  I have to admit that I was so impressed with what Adam Hughes did with his work for Archie, it sort of inspired me to take on the challenge of doing something a little different subject matter-wise.  In other words, I happily agreed to do some work for them.

My first cover assignment from them was to do a variant cover for Archie #17.  This was the final issue of the intro of the Cheryl Blossom story line.  I was given the gist of the  the story and came up with a couple of ideas that I think captured the theme pretty well.

Archie:CBlossomCvrSketches

Quite frankly, I was excited to do either concept because I thought they were both pretty strong compositions that accurately conveyed the story.  “B” was chosen, so that’s what I drew.

ArchieCvrPencil

 

I was able to grasp the more modern slant on the characters quicker than I thought I would.  Once I was happy with the expressions and the figure work, I started inking.

ArchieCover

I did all of the inking with a brush except for the background circle.  There I used a compass equipped with an ink pen.  I scanned the piece and began coloring in photoshop.

ArchieAltCvrFinal

As is the case almost every time I color, I spent twice as much time coloring the piece as I did penciling and inking it. I went back and forth on the back ground color as I also usually do before settling on the orange fade.  I knew that Cheryl Blossom and the guys were going to be warm and I also knew that Veronica would be a monochromatic cool color to push her back a bit.  So the logical choice was to go warm again for the background. This is basically a orange-blue complimentary color scheme.

I have to thank Adam Hughes for taking the time to share with me how he does his color holds, which I used on the Veronica figure in the background. It’s a simple trick of deleting the black line work and refilling it with color.

Anyway, that’s the finished cover and that’s all for now!

Death of Hawkman #6 Cover Quest

I desperately (exaggeration) wanted to get my blogging caught up (whatever that means), at least in regard to my Death of Hawkman Covers, so here I am with a another blog on that very topic.

This was a hard one.  It was the last cover to a somewhat important and definitely eventful mini-series (Death of Hawkman, duh!) so it had to be good.  What to do?  Talk about pressure!  I came up with several ideas in an attempt to capture the magnitude of the moment and here is what ended up on paper.

HawkmanAStrange#6cvrpencil1 HawkmanAStrange#6cvrpencil2

It’s not often that I draw four cover roughs and still not get it right but that is what happened here.  My editor suggested something simple, stark and dramatic.  What about Hawkman’s skull?  Great idea.  Especially great when you are in a deadline crunch and don’t have much turn around time.  So I took the concept, ran to my drafting table and did a quick marker sketch to make sure we were on the same page.

HawkmanAStrange#6cvrrough5

 

Once I got the okay, I pencilled the cover art.  And in typical Lopresti fashion, I didn’t get a scan of the pencils.  It might have seemed unnecessary to me considering the simplicity of the design.  You’ll have to trust me that I did, in fact, pencil the cover before I inked it.

Here is a scan of the inks after it was completed.  Interestingly, I added the heavy blacks around his teeth and chin after I originally thought I was finished with it.   I was getting ready to scan it and I just felt like there wasn’t enough volume to the illustration so I went in and added some black areas to create that depth that was lacking.

DOH#6cvrfinal

After completing this stage, I did indeed scan it and sent it over to Brad Anderson for the color job.  Brad once again took the black and white work and made it sing with a great color job.  The added blood splatter was a nice touch.

Hwkmn_AStrng_6_Cvr_fnl1

I think the simplistic yet dramatic design ended up being the perfect cover for the last issue of the Death of Hawkman.  See you soon when I perhaps will delve into my work at Archie Comics.  Ta ta for now!

 

Death of Hawkman Cover #5

Let’s take a look at my cover art for Death of Hawkman #5.

This is a cover where there was some indecision on my part as to what I wanted to do.  I got some direction from the writer and my editor and then I tried to make sense of it all and come up with a strong image.  It took me a few prelims to get there, though, and even then there were changes.

HawkmanAStrange#5cvrsketchA&B HawkmanAStrange#5cvrsketchC

 

 

Personally I would have gone with “A” or “B” but “C” was chosen with some adjustments. The powers that be wanted Hawkman and Hawkgirl moved to the front, which made perfect sense in retrospect.

So I made the flip and produced a pencil drawing…sort of.  This is really more of a full sized rough to get approval after I made the change.  This way I’m not investing a ton of time in something before I get a solid approval.

HawkmanAStrange#5cvrrough

 

After the new positioning of the characters was approved I went ahead and put in the other elements of the cover and the character details.

HawkmanAStrange#5newcvrrough

 

I did put more detail into the pencil before I went to ink it but once again I didn’t get another scan of the fully detailed pencil.  I did scan the finished inks though (phew).  I inked this almost entirely with a brush.  (the debris was inked with a micron)

HawkmanAStrange#5Cvr

 

Once again Brad Anderson jumped in and colored this with a very short turn around and did another great job.

Hwkmn_AStrng_5_Cvr_fnl

 

I’ll be back soon with the gripping saga of how the cover to Death of Hawkman #6 came to be!

Death of Hawkman #4 Cover Musings

When I started this new Hawkman series for DC Comics, I was bound and determined to finally settle on a consistent look for my finished work. Those are things you can’t always control on the interiors because of the availability of inkers and what they bring stylistically to the finished work.  However, I can control that on my covers, illustrations and on some interiors depending on deadlines allowing me to ink myself.  I am through experimenting with different tools and returning to my first love, the brush.

Style has always been important in comics and being called “old fashioned” is never a welcome compliment ( I prefer “neo-classic”).  But I’ve realized that any style can be great and attractive to new and old readers as long as it’s well done.  That’s the key.  The composition, story-telling and draftsmanship are all part of the equation.  In other words, it’s not about what you do but how well you do it.

So instead of wasting time trying to constantly figure out what the reading audience might want to see or might react more positively to, I am moving forward doing what I do as best I can do it.   Striving for what I always have, consistent growth.  So with all of this firmly planted in our minds, let’s move forward with the cover to Death of Hawkman #4.

HawkmanAScoversketchesC&D HawkmanAScoversketchesA&B

I really wasn’t 100% sure of what I wanted to do with this cover so the result of my indecision was 4 cover sketches.  “D” got the green light so I moved to the penciling stage.  Unfortunately for some strange reason I don’t have a scan of the pencil for this cover.   One of the hazards of inking yourself is forgetting to scan the pencils; something I have made a habit of doing.

So let’s quickly move to the inks to save myself further embarrassment.  I inked the final pencils with a brush.  The lighting effect along with the use of more solid blacks gives this cover a nice sense of drama and three-dimensional weight.

DOHawkman#4cover

 

As with all of the Hawkman covers, Brad Anderson is doing the colors.  Brad is one of my favorite colorists in the business so it was no surprise that he did another great job with this one.

HawkmnAdStrg_4_CVR_fnl

There you have it.  Another finished cover.  Since I am running way behind on my blogs and I have already finished covers #5 and #6, I will get those posted up here in short order.  Until then….

Hawkman/Adam Strange Cover #3

Here we are again with another cover process breakdown.  Since I did my first two Hawkman/Adam Strange covers the name of the mini-series has been officially changed to the ominous, “Death of Hawkman featuring Adam Strange.”  No matter what you call it, it’s the same series and here is how the cover to the 3rd issue came about.

As I look through my files it appears that I only came up with 2 sketches for this cover.  I knew I wanted to feature Hawkman on this cover since the previous cover featured Adam Strange.  Although, Adam Strange is a serious player in this series, Hawkman is a much more popular character and the title is “The Death of Hawkman”, so it makes sense he should be featured as much as possible.

HawkmanAStrange#3coversketches

 

The first one and the best one was chosen so I took it to pencils.  You’ll notice I changed the positioning of Adam Strange on the cover.  I really wanted this to be a Hawkman cover so I used Adam Strange’s left arm as his gun arm so it would come up and cover part of his face.  He’s still there but very much a secondary player.

You’ll also notice the pencils are very tight and clean.  This is because as I drew the piece I made enough alterations through the drawing process that I felt the paper was too soiled. So I light tabled the original drawing onto this board and then added whatever details were necessary to complete the piece.

HawkmanAStrange#3coverpencil

 

After finishing this clean pencil drawing I inked it with a brush.  Through recent years I have been experimenting with a combination of brush and pen, constantly searching for a look I like.  A few months ago I decided to stick with a brush and really refine my approach.  I’m really pleased with the direction I’m going as I am finally finding that balance between achieving slick control and a lively organic feel.

HawkmanAStrange#3cvrfinal

Since I have the most awesome Brad Anderson available for coloring these covers I have gladly stepped aside and allowed him to do some nice work.  So what you see below is Brad’s coloring for the final cover.

HwkmnAStrng_3_CVR_fnl

I’m feeling really good about these covers and I have just finished the fourth one.  I will post about it as soon as I can.   So until then….