Behold the splendor of the abstract expressionist masterpiece entitled “my first drawing!”
Mom sent our baby book to us a few years ago, from out of storage in the attic. It’s a compelling biographical work with passages detailing our weight, birthday presents received, and how thrilled our mother was when our stools finally firmed up after a few weeks. Good thing that was noted for posterity!
But hey, cut Mom some slack. Her encouragement of our artistic inclinations may have begun with preserving this drawing, but they continue to this day. Mom always had some “craft” or “activity” for her two kids, so having an art project to work on all the time just seems normal these days. In fact, we’re convinced our family views all our stuff as just some kind of “craft.” Well, maybe they’re right.
But there’s hope. Even Dad has come on board at long last with his son being some kind of artist. After seeing a few recent paintings he remarked, “Wow – a musician and an artist!” That was nice to hear, but we told our art teacher that it frustrated us. Our first reaction was, “Is that just now sinking in after two decades?” Our teacher, a far more forgiving soul than us, said, “Yes, yes it is. But sometimes parents, like anyone else, take a long time to get things right. You should be happy it happened, despite the wait.”
That put things into perspective for us and changed our attitude around. Since then, we’ve had a much more open dialogue about our interests with our parents. It feels more like some kind of understanding has been reached. We let our teacher know that besides growing as painters, we are also having positive developments in our personal life as a result of painting with her and discussing art on a deeper level.
What is the mythical Pythakaquak? And why did he travel untold miles tucked away in a science fiction novel to take up residence in our library?
These questions and more continue to haunt cryptozoologists around the globe.
This would be a fun panel to paint! If this bit of dadaist adventure doesn’t deserve the Lichtenstein treatment, nothing does.
Just a little something we excavated from the archives at Magic Robot!
This is off the meter in obscurity, so give yourself the blue ribbon geek award if you can source it.
Early issues of Justice Traps the Guilty feature legendary collaborators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby producing “true” crime stories. The lives of criminals seemed to fascinate Kirby, and he would return to the subject twenty years later with In the Days of The Mob.
- From Justice Traps the Guilty; 1947-1953, Prize/Headline.
Concrete was not only a writer but an avid reader. (And a thinker, too, despite his rugged appearance!) We like this drawing by Paul Chadwick of Concrete at home, in his modified chair, enjoying a good book.
Below that, we included a page from one of the short stories in Dark Horse Presents. Concrete and his friend visit a man with an impressive art collection and library – including an entire room full of bagged and boarded comic books, perfectly filed.
Wouldn’t you love to spend a few weeks in there? Also, the man has a secret room with cool paintings that capture Concrete’s imagination. And what guy doesn’t like the idea of having his own secret cave?
- From Concrete #10; Dark Horse, 1988 and Dark Horse Presents #66.
- Concrete #10 reprinted in Concrete TPB #2 and Complete Concrete
- Short story reprinted in Concrete Complete Short Stories 1986-1989 TPB
You know, in a couple generations we will have colonies on Mars. Then, our obsession with the red planet will seem quaint and outdated. Like Dick Tracy’s watch.
Guess what? If we pound out an advanced Excel course and retake a leadership class this summer, we can get our little bachelor’s degree. We got accepted into a Masters Program in Professional Writing for the fall. Not as much fun as writing to you about space mutants, but still…
So here’s our quarterly report a month early while we’re taking it easy. The short version: Page views are down monthly, but reader engagement through commenting and sharing is up. We like that! According to our pointlessly rigorous calculations, we have earned approximately $.001 in store credit per page view. That’s if you count from day one in 2010 when we were still on Blogger. That’s … one tenth of one cent, which is the cash value they used to print on coupons, isnt it? As a child, we always plotted saving up bazillions of coupons and redeeming them for that cash value. Why can’t you do that?
Anyway, we got some nice referrals this quarter. Rick Veitch linked to our archives of his early DC work on Sgt. Rock. Thank you, Rick! We also got a footnote on EW.com Entertainment Weekly as a reference to the first time we saw Wolverine’s adamantium procedure in print. We knew our Wolverine obsession would mean something to someone sometime… Thank you! SNIKT!
Someone on Reddit got upset we were sharing comic book pages like that.
IT’S ILLEGAL they screamed in cyberspace. Sigh. Ok. It probably is. But imagine you are one of those people who only knows superheroes from the movies. You click a link to discover a Wolverine story you probably aren’t going to find any other way. It’s crammed in some longbox in the store, not on the shelf. You check out the Barry Smith art and say, damn, that’s pretty awesome. Those are moments when someone might come to appreciate comics as art or entertainment and – who knows? – buy some back issues, get into Barry Smith, and maybe find a retailer for the latest Wolverine books. As far as we can tell, comic blogs like ours – and the hundreds, maybe thousands like it on the web – only generate more interest in comics. People forget this simple fact: we aren’t pirates, we’re fans. All of us comic book bloggers!
Today we’ll give you the ten-cent tour of the method we used yesterday to paint a portrait. We are big fans of Jim Starlin’s black and white paintings in Metamorphosis Odyssey. They inspired us to try our hand at painting a black and white portrait and explore how to convey light and shadow without color.
Our photo reference was a yearbook photo, one of those tiny black and white inch-high photos. We scanned it and then zoomed on our monitor. We traced the basic outlines and shapes on an 8×11 paper. Although we are trying to get away from the necessity of drawing a grid for photo enlargements, we needed one here to keep us on track with the proportions. Then we do a bit of math to pencil in the grid lines in the same proportion on a 16×20 canvas.
Next, we quickly map out the basic black shapes. At this stage, it looks like a spastic fourth-grader broke into an art studio. But that’s okay. We aren’t going for precision yet, just getting an idea of where everything is going to “live.” We can still see some pencil gridlines but white will cover that up.
We then get to work with white paint. It covers the pencil lines and smooths the edges of the black areas. Through blending, it begins to create the mid-tone shadow areas. One thing to keep in mind is that white paint is going to smear your pencil lines and create a grey tone. The first time it happened to us, we were surprised. Here, we decided to put that effect to work to help create mid-tones. Alternately, we could have erased the pencil lines or covered them with a sealant to prevent smearing.
The final stage is maybe the longest, where we spend hours with black and white paint “sculpting” the final shapes of the face. As we neared completion, we decided how to render the background. We ignored the photo reference here and added some random scrawled black lines covered with a few layers of light grey washes, mostly water with a dab of black paint.
In the end, we felt the portrait came out looking good. But, here is what still troubles us about this piece. We have created a lovely portrait, but are not sure we have really captured the personality of the subject. There are perhaps three levels to painting faces. One is painting a face that just looks good. Two is painting a face that looks like a specific, identifiable person. Third, you paint a face that not only looks like your subject but captures something about their personality. While we feel we are making huge leaps in portrait progress, that third level is perhaps the most artistically challenging.