Archive for August 2010
Pepper and the Snow LeopardHere's a sample/preview page of an evolving project I'm working on right now with writer, Alex Grecian. How it progresses or whether it'll be published is a matter still to be decided and discovered, but it's fun to work on when I've time. Something different style-wise than Bedbugs and for a slightly older audience, more like ages 9-12 rather than 4-8.
If all goes well, I'll have chapter 1 or more for sale as a mini comic or chap book at the Minnesota Fall Convention on Saturday, October 16. No promises.
Kids Art ClassA couple weeks back I spent some time with some great kids at a Commonbond Housing site called Yorkdale Townhomes in Edina as a guest visitor for their summer program. I shared my story of life as an artist, taught some cartooning - how to create facial features and build/design characters - and how to find and pursue your dreams. I also covered my creative process for writing and illustrating my children's book, Night of the Bedbugs. So, we all drew together, and they came up with some great stuff, which you can see below. Thanks to Sue Gahan for invitation, whom I met at the 2-day comic convention here in Minneapolis in May.
TothPix: Chiaroscuro Soldier
I was lucky to find scans online of a few pages of the black and white original art from Toth's Soldier's Grave. written by Bob Kanigher. It's a stirring little war period piece, featuring old Mullah, who leaves his family to become a soldier, his only chance to earn enough to provide for his family. And because he has trouble keeping up, he is given an opportunity to fight.
In the page below, Toth employs stunning chiaroscuro techniques with fluid brushwork, marking the landscape with the footprints of younger and more vital soldiers, leaving Mullah in the dust. Toth first depicts Mullah in silhouette in a gorgeous frame...
...then alters his size and placement within the panels to lead the reader's eye through the page, as displayed below.
Next week, I'll post in color and break down the entire story, but until then will leave you with this larger version of the black and white art, cleaning it up and sharpening as much as I could.
More thoughts on Toth, other work, and this story at Bob H.'s Four Realities blog, where he's written about Toth more than once. Enjoy!
MIX 2010I had a lotta hot fun at the Minneapolis Indie Xpo, doing sketches, chatting with fans, friends and fellow artists, and selling lotsa comics, minis, books, buttons and marbles. I expected the crowd to be 20-something hipsters, of which there were plenty, but a lotta families showed up, too, so it was a good cross section and MIX of people.
A view from near my table of one of the three rooms/areas of the show. This was taken in the morning as the show began. A short time later and most of the rest of the day, these rooms were pretty packed.
It was a hot and humid day, and the small fan I brought along was little comfort, but somehow I did a buncha sketches, even if my sweaty arm occasionally stuck to the paper:
A quick Hellboy drawing I did in a collector's sketchbook.
I know, I'm weird. Big fan of spatulas. Never took any drugs, ladies and gentleman!
Many kids, parents and grandparents were drawn to my Night of the Bedbugs book, ABC minis, buttons and juggling beanbags, which was nice to see. A lotta new Bedbugs fans were made at this show, who I hope will follow up and LIKE the Bedbugs Facebook page or visit the bedbugsmania.com web site for games, vids and more.
Taking a break from doing a Micronauts' Baron Karza sketch for a photo by new acquaintance, and MCAD Artist in Residence, Jim Keefe.
The Return of Megaton Man!I've long been a fan of Don Simpson's Megaton Man, indeed since his debut in 1984. So I was pleased as punch when he and newly appointed President of the CBLDF (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund), Larry Marder asked me to color a four-page story Don had done for the upcoming annual issue of Liberty Comics. Don considers himself retired from the comic book scene, focusing on teaching and working towards his MA in history of art and architecture and PhD. Still, when called upon to raise funds and defend the First Amendment, Don rose to the challenge and hasn't missed a beat. Indeed, not only is this piece his first and longest in years, it's also his best. It's like he never took the time off. So it was a pleasure for my wife, Mary and I to color away on his array of Bizarre Heroes, and contribute to the cause ourselves. Here's a sneak peek panel from one of many great stories by big name creators:
This panel also features fan faves Yarn Man, Rubber Brother and X-Ray Boy.
TothPix: Lines, Dots, Jiggles & Splats
Browsing again through pages this week of Dear John: The Alex Toth Doodle Book, I came across this quote from Toth:
"About original comic book/strip/black and white line art - young or old at examining/enjoy sleuthing-out which lines/dots/jiggles/splats/blobs/streaks/smears/nicks/scrapes/ were accidents - and which were intentional bits of genius-business, done so casually, tho, creating such unique effects, touches - of course we read all kinds of significance into every jot and tittle to express deep worshipful "in-tune-ship" with our pet artist-heroes' art - wrongfully, too, mostly - we fans, of all ages and experience and exposure, are guilty of that sin!"
Well, as I've been challenged recently on that very point in regards to Toth's work, and having to plead guilty per Alex's charge, I hope I'll be forgiven if I still indulge in that very pursuit at this blog. I just can't help it. Toth's work just "does it" for me more than any other and I'll continue to pour over his jots, lines and dots. That said, I'll try to be as discerning as possible, and have a post or two planned to poke at some of Toth's weaknesses (far be it from me, but there you go).
In the meantime, let's Sleuth-Out!
TothPix: Death by Toth
I never mustered the courage or had the guts to write Alex Toth to critique my work, or even a gushy fan letter. I did , however, send him an S.A.S.E. to request a small bit of art from him for a project, which led to the only piece of Toth art I possess.
In the mid-'90s my pal and Trollords partner Scott Beaderstadt and I decided to release a (as it turns out, ill-fated) Trollords Classics collection. It featured the first three issues of Trollords (originally published in 1986, as well as as a new story called Death Dreams, which focused on the Trollords arch nemesis, Death. In the 30-page story, we got to see things for Death's point of view, and in a large double-page spread his visage from a variety of perspectives. To convey this, we asked as many artist as we could think of and contact to contribute a 2" x 2" piece of art with their depiction of "death."
We were pleased to receive back pieces from Scott McCloud, Michael Golden, Alex Ross, Steve Rude, Adam Hughes, Dave Sim, Neil Gaiman, Kyle Baker, Berke Breathed, Terry Gilliam and Will Eisner, among many superb artists. But nothing made my heart skip as when I pulled out the simple piece sent by Alex Toth.
Some folks depicted their characters, or a skull, conceptual or spiritual takes on the theme. But nobody offered a more pure expression of the idea.
Seeing it for the first time, as bleak as is the outlook, I had to smile. How perfectly Toth. Perhaps he was an atheist, or maybe he knew we all really don't know what is in store for us "after." But this simple black square is one of my most prized possessions.
Maybe he was being profound, or perhaps he was just being...lazy.
= - )