Monday, April 26, 2010

Comic Book Themed Art
"Doctor Strange" - 1980 - 1989 -
Roughs, Sketches, and Humble Beginnings.

Welcome, once again, to this, the fourth in a series of "flashbacks" at some of my (VERY) old comic book style artwork.

Previous entries into this series are:
  • A series of magazine cover submission samples from 2000- as seen [HERE]
  • An 11-page comic book story from 1993 - of the "Secret Defenders": - as seen [HERE]
  • A 6-page comic book story from 1989 - featuring one of my earliest takes on "Doctor Strange" - [HERE]

Today's post, unlike the more formal "story"-style entries in this series, is more of an assortment of samples of a few relatively unrelated single images.

However, continuing in the vein of the previous entries, this post also focuses on Marvel comics character, Doctor Strange.
(I promise. I'll get to my own creations soon enough.)

The years represented in these images range from 1989 to as far back as 1980!
And none of them are really all that good.
But, I am trying to show the growth (or more, the "deconstruction" as this series has been in reverse chronological order) as an artist using one character as the control standard.

This first image, from 1988 (or it may have been from 1987) was a rough stab at trying to draw in a "comic page" format.
Like the last entry in this series, I had utilized the "smudge" technique for applying grey tones and rendering shadows.

* click images to make larger *

graphite pencil over blue pencil artwork on bristol board.

I was fascinated by black and white comics that were coming out in that time (early Aircel issues, before they were bought out by Malibu). - Comics like DragonRing, DragonForce and Warlock5 influenced me (as well as the B/W Marvel magazines) and I preferred the black/white/ greytone artwork to the stiff black inked color comics, so this sample is in that grey-tone style that I was using heavily at the time.

Unlike most comic page layouts, this page did not use any sort of grid of panels to break up the "narrative".
Instead, I used the flow of the events to carry the viewers eye around the page in the proper sequence of events.

  • Dr. Strange is sitting, reading a mystic tome.
  • He senses something and releases his "astral form" from his body.
  • That ghostly self floats to a portal (shaped like a scrollwork page) and enters another dimension.
  • There we see Strange's astral form within that otherworldly realm.

The flow of the events is a backwards "S", starting at the top left and ending at the bottom right.


This next one was done at around the same time-frame (a few weeks or so before or after) and is simply a "pin-up" image of Strange, levitating in the "lotus" position.

It was around this time that I started producing many such images of other comic characters that I would then hand-color copies of which, and sell at various comic conventions in the USA.

graphite pencil over blue pencil artwork on bristol board

One this that bothers me about this image was that I placed his mustache too high.
It should rest upon his upper lip.


These images are all work-up sketches, done either shortly before or shortly after I drew the 6-page "Dr. Strange" story (shown in the previous segment of this series).

rough pencil sketches and concept doodles on smooth finish sketch paper.

No real reason for inclusion of this bit of rough sketches.
It was in a folder with some other old rough samples, and I just felt like tossing it in.


I honestly am unsure as to the precise "when" of these two images.
They were also in the folder with the other sketch materials for the 6-page 1989 story, but were definitely done prior to that. I'm guessing 1987.

These two images were different from the other rough materials, in that they were loose watercolor sketches.

Just toying around and playing with various effects and color ranges.
Not any kind of serious "artwork".

Watercolor washes over pencil rough sketch on mild textured sketch paper

Watercolor washes with some india ink linework on mild textured sketch paper.


This next piece is very special to me.
It was the first time that I tried to produce an actual submission sample to show to professionals in the comic field.

It's a part of a "story" that I had plotted out, and roughed in the first few pages.
However, this was the only one that was ever completed.

india ink over pencil artwork on bristol board
(and lots of white-out after I went back into it one too many times adding way too many details)

While I'm nearly sure that this was drawn in 1982, as a freshman in high school, (or possibly 1981, as I have several other similarly overly-detailed pen and ink drawings from that time in an old folder,) I placed the 1983 copyright date on the image because I'm really not 100% sure.

What I DO know is that it was this image (and maybe a few others) that I took with me, in 1983, to my first New York City comic convention, where I met several professional comic artists and showed it to one who was an icon in the field.
His name is John Byrne, and at that time (and for many years before and since) he was at the very pinnacle of his craft and his standing as one of the very best in the biz.

I remember his walking up to me in a dimly lit speaker's room, as he had seen that I was awkwardly holding an artist's portfolio, and my feebly asking if he wouldn't mind taking a look at what I had drawn.

We walked over into the doorway, where the light from the larger, dealer's area would shed some light on my work. He looked at the artwork and told me generally positive things about it.
He most likely pointed out that I'd need to work on some things or other. Probably the inking technique, as I'd only shortly before had obtained a set of 'Rapidograph' ink pens. I'm unsure of his specific critique, (because it was over 27 years ago,) but all-in-all he treated me very nicely and constructively.

To be dead-to-rights, he should have (although he may have) called me on the fact that I had no differentiation of line quality or width.
It's hard to tell one thing apart from another because I was using only a few different, fine point nibs in my inks.
Also, the perspective is all wrong on the window and background.

Still, looking at it now, I'm fairly impressed that I got the anatomy so well done on the main figure (I won't mention the little nude figures on the incense brazier).

To wrap up my anecdote; after he gave me encouragement for the piece, I then got his autograph on some comics and considered it a very good day indeed.


This last piece was drawn in 1980.
It is the very first drawing that I ever had attempted of the character that I had only discovered scant months before.

Based upon a published comic book cover (by one of my all time favorite artists; Michael Golden), I drew my own version of the figure that was seen on this cover:

Doctor Strange # 42. 1980. Cover art by Michael Golden.

I had recently turned 13 (judging by the date on my piece) and I recall that I was very pleased with the initial pencil and line-art marker work (although the marker bled a bit into the soft textured paper).

However, when I tried to color it with a new set of markers that I had received as a gift a few weeks before... well... I ruined it.
Some of the colored markers bled into the paper, while others had already become dried out from my constant usage - making even-toned coloring impossible.

My version I now show here - warts and all.

pencils and magic markers on soft sketchpad paper

Obviously, I didn't draw the dragon in my version.
Not sure why not.
I know that the challenge of the detail woul dhave been right up my alley.

If I had to guess, I'd say that either;
  • a) I didn't leave enough room for it
  • b) I was eager to complete the drawing
  • c) both A and B.


And so, I bring to an end this batch of fairly embarrassing, tentative forays onto the word of comic book art.

I have one last batch of "Doctor Strange" related images to share next time.
But they are more "modern".
From 2002, and were made as banner headers for a website and were my first attempts at using Photoshop to colorize my work.

I'll post those in a few days time.
Afterwards, I'll change gears again for awhile, and showcase some other styles of work; storyboards, book covers and the like.

Thanks for stopping by!

No comments: