Monday, January 25, 2016

Comic books and sketch covers

As a kid, I LOVED comic books and was obsessed with them. I remember from time to time my dad coming home from work and handing me either packs of trading cards (usually from Star Wars or other movies) and comic books - in most cases Batman's various series including the obvious self-titled one, but also Detective Comics, and Brave and the Bold. This era of Batman will always be my favorite visual era of him - the cobalt blue, gray, and yellow version.
In the mid-80's my love of comics kicked into high gear and shifted to Marvel when Spider-man got his black alien symbiote costume. In fact I remember the specific comic book that ushered in a new era of comic love for me - Amazing Spider-man #254. I didn't know anything about Secret Wars and missed the issue where Spider-man returned with his new suit, so it was just a total surprise to me. I just remember thinking the new suit looked cool as hell and I HAD to have that comic to find out what was going on.
Around this time, 1985-86, my dad was the manager at Hauer Music on Far Hills in Kettering, and there was a Gray's drug across the street that had baseball cards and down the street was a pharmacy that had a ton of comic books. They had one of those spinning comic racks and they used to pack each holder like 10-20 comics deep. This was back when comics were like 60 cents, so if I walked down there with $5 I could get quite a bit including some Big League Chew, Lik-em Sticks, etc. etc. My love of comics continued through high school and switched AGAIN back to DC along with the Batman movie craze of 1989. Around this time my favorite comics were The Killing Joke (favorite comic ever) and Arkham Asylum and a lot of my work at the time revolved around Batman, and the Joker. This was also around the time that I found Maverick's in Kettering (I lived a sheltered life) and walking in there gave me the same feeling I'm sure some people do when they walk into a church - you know, like a choir singing, warmth, and stuff. Unfortunately it wasn't within walking / bike distance of my house or Hauer Music so going there was a rare thing, but that made it more special. When I went off to college, finances and the overwhelming "newness" that goes along with being thrown into a whole new experience made me lose interest in comics. Every once in awhile I would pick up a copy of Wizard so I still knew what was going on and from time to time would get special issues (Alex Ross' Marvels, The Death of Superman, Batman Knightfall, etc.). Also, around this time my friend Hoffa introduced me to independent comics like Milk and Cheese, Reid Fleming, and others. Although I wasn't buying as many comics, during this time I thought that maybe drawing comics was something that I wanted to pursue, even taking a comic book drawing class in college. Well I quickly realized I wasn't cut out for drawing comics for a couple of reasons. I LOVE consistency and in the one and two page exercises we were doing I could see my interest not only start to wane, but also the consistency of my artwork. So it dawned on me that a 30 page comic would probably make me have a nervous breakdown. Nowadays after having a few lengthy projects under my belt that might not be the case but I just remember at the time think it wasn't what I wanted to do and if I was to contribute to that industry it would have to be as either a cover artist or just doing pin-ups. A number of years later I did a 4 page comic for an anthology series called Faesthetic and actually had a lot of fun with it. They have a theme for each book and in this case it was "ghost story". My approach was a little twist on a whole avenging spirit Tale from the Crypt type story....
While my career has taken me in a lot of different directions , I think deep down I still dream of doing something related to comics but also think any chances I had to board that ship have probably passed me. But doing sketch covers has allowed me to act out some "What If?" scenerios with some of my favorite comic properties. For people that don't know , sketch covers are comics with blank covers sold to the public that artists can draw on. Here's some of the various covers I've done over the past year and I still have a huge stack of blanks. I even ordered some new Walking Dead ones that I should be getting this be on the look out for more.

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