Four Talking Boxes 1953

ld occasionally do stuff like that because it’s fun. I sent him a copy of a hand bound (or re-bound as the case may be) comic I made with an alternate Hulk #181 Herb Trimpe drawing on it. A friend of mine once commissioned Trimpe to do a new interpretation of his classic Hulk #181 cover. I scanned in the original art, colored it, printed it out, pulled the staples on a reprint edition of Hulk #181, and bound my new cover to it. It makes for a fun new edition of the book. Herb did a great job with the cover after all. In return for this he sent me 15 comics. One of those comics has a cover that I am going to write about today. “Zody and the Mod Rob.”

“Zody” only has one issue to his name and it was printed by Gold Key back in 1970. It’s a comic that I’ve never seen, or heard of, before but that’s not a huge surprise since it’s a pretty obscure book. The story inside is about a teenager who accidentally created a Mod Robot. Like that doesn’t happen every day. It’s a fairly typical comic about a teen but it has a late 1960s swinging hipster astrological vibe to it. I enjoyed the comic but it’s the cover (the Grand Comic Book Database says its drawn by Roger Armstrong) that I really like. I’ve never heard of Armstrong but he’s done a fine job here.

The first thing that’s jumps out at me is, of course, the color. The left half is orange and the right half is blue. Not only does that work with the cover’s concept of simultaneous sun and clouds but orange and blue are complimentary colors. This means that when placed next to each other they create strong contrast. They make your eyes wig out a little bit when you stare at the. Blue next to green, for example, is a much more calm combination than blue and orange. So right away the color on this cover has our rods and cones vibrating.

Because of that crazy color combination I have to focus my eyes a bit and concentrate on what’s going on in the cover. There is a crazy story happening. The hippy dippy robot weatherman is predicting both rain and shine and sure enough both are happening at the same time. I like the umbrella a lot. The choice to have the sunshine side a full umbrella and the rain side just the skeleton of the umbrella was inspired. It doesn’t pile too much blue on blue and lets the teenagers heads breath a little.

I like the variety of walking poses for the three characters. The robot is marching along, the girl is striding, and the boy has a goofy toes-out walk going on. A solid bit of cartooning. The colors on all the clothes are good. The robot pulls off red and green without seeming too much like Christmas. Maybe that’s the close proximity to the dark orange sun or the big blue swatch of the sign the robot is holding but either way it works. I also like the girl’s magenta and violet dress and yellow hair. Add in the orange hair, green shirt, and blue of the boy’s pants and we’ve got the full color wheel. That is not an easy bit of color to organize.

The type work on the cover is interesting too. Since the image is so stripped down an devoid of background art there is room for a lot of type and it doesn’t crowd up the space of the cover as happens so often on comic book covers. There is also a lot of mechanical type on the cover compared to hand lettered type. I’m not familiar enough with Gold Key comics to say if this was unusual or not but the Silver Age comic that I’m used to has mostly hand lettered type. The “Zody” logo looks like it might be a hand done logo but it’s so slickly done that I’m not sure. It’s a nice logo either way.

The type that is mechanical is the “From the Zodiac Comes” and the “Zody and the Mod Rob” above it. I find it weird to have the comic’s name in type right above the logo but that must have been the way Gold Key set up their comic’s trade dress. I like the font they picked too. I’m not sure what it is. In those days mostly Helvetica was used but this type look different. Or maybe I’m not used to seeing it in all caps. I found it interesting that the type down the bottom serves as a floor for the characters to walk on. With no horizon line or floor plane defined by the drawing the length and straightness of the words form a kind of floor. It even looks like the boy is hopping over the little copyright line that’s under his feet. Incidentally the copyright line says the copyright belongs to Western Publishing Company Inc. I guess Gold Key was just a name on a logo.

A few observations to end with. I love the swirls in the robot’s eyes. Not only because I uses swirls a lot in my work but also because they make the robot look even more weird and far out. I’d say he looks a little stoned. The type on the piece of paper that the robot is holding is really well done. It’s as clear, concise, and bold as I imagine it could ever be. I also find it interesting that the girl’s lips were done in a red color hold. They were not outlined in black. That little detail means to me that whoever the designer or colorist was on this book really cared and sweated the details. And it shows.

I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got four new comics.

  • Jackpot – 6
  • Britannia: We Who Are About To Die – 3
  • Invincible – 137
  • Dept. H – 15
  • Check them all out here:

    Time to talk TV shows again. I like to do that every now and again and I haven’t since last fall. As I write this summer is about to begin so let me think back on what I was watching this past winter and spring.

    Agents of SHIELD – This is the only Marvel or DC TV show that I watch. A lot of my comic book friends don’t like it but I do. I hear complaints that it’s too mundane but that’s why I like it. It’s mostly a cop/spy show with some occasional super-stuff thrown in. That’s more up my alley than super-hero stuff so it suits me fine. This season had a few main stories going on and I liked them all. Ghost Riders, killer robots, and virtual reality. Fine by me.

    Legion – I just remembered this Marvel-based show that I watched and enjoyed too. It was only a ten episode season so it slipped my mind. It was about a mutant with mental powers that thought he was mad. A group of other mutants who were trying to stay off the radar of a secret anti-mutant group were trying to help him out. The main problem I had with the show was that the first episode was very skip-able. Thing didn’t get good until episode two. It was a beautifully filmed show. A lot of shows I half watch but this one held my attention from start to finish with it’s beautiful visuals.

    The Night Manager – A six part series that I watched on Amazon Prime. A spy story based on a novel. It was well done except that its first episode was also very skip-able. Other than that it had lots of tension plus some derring-do. I even watched the final fifteen minutes again a day after I finished watching the show just to see the payoff once more.

    Chance – Hugh Laurie played the heavy in “The Night Manager” but in this Hulu show he was the hero. He was some kind of consulting brain doctor who got mixed up with a femme fatale and a crooked cop. It was a tense “Fish out of water and caught up in a world not his own” story. Ethan Suplee, who played the brother in “My Name is Earl” was good in it. A solid bit of entertainment.

    Brockmire – A Hank Azaria half hour comedy with eight episodes. You’d better like some cursing and blue humor if you’re going to watch this baseball comedy. Hank is a disgraced baseball announcer who is trying to make a comeback by calling a minor league team’s games. Not even on the TV or radio he calls the games over the stadium’s PA system. It was dark and funny.

    Nobodies – Another half hour comedy (twelve episodes) this time about three writers who write for a kids’ cartoon series trying to get a movie made. All three stars are from the “Groundlings” comedy troupe and other, more famous, members make appearances in the show. It’s a little bit “Inside Hollywood” but not too much so. It has a lot of wackiness that’s fun.

    Training Day – I was enjoying this cop show based on the movie of the same name and then one of the stars of the show, Bill Paxton, up and died. It’s an odd thing watching a TV show after that happens. It’s tough not to think of the actor as a person at that point instead of the character he is playing. It was a pretty good show none the less and I enjoyed it. No second season for it though. I guess they didn’t want to retool it.

    Red Oaks – Another Amazon show that takes place in 1985-1986 and is about a twenty year old who works at a country club and is trying to find himself. It started slow but I kept watching it and it grew on me. There are two seasons of ten episode each with a third season on the way. It’s a half hour slice-of-life coming of age story. It was good in the end.

    Bones – This show finally ended after twelve seasons. I watched them all but kind of only with one eye the last few seasons. It was an okay final season if not spectacular.

    Better Call Saul – I didn’t watch “Breaking Bad”, which this show is a prequel to, but I still like this show. It’s about a not very successful lawyer trying to get by. As I watch it I often wonder what I’m missing compared to people who have seen “Breaking Bad.” They all know the futures of these characters and so they know where they are headed and the ends of their story arcs. I’m along for the ride without knowing where it’s going. Strange.

    The Blacklist – This show returned for its fourth season and I liked it. It’s another cop show but this time the FBI and a high profile criminal that’s informing for them. There was even a six episode spinoff series that wasn’t nearly as good as “The Blacklist.” The spinoff won’t be back for another season but this one will. I’ll keep watching.

    Elementary – I like Sherlock Holmes stories. I like quirky detective shows in general and this show is good at both. It’ll be back for one last season next year and so will I.

    Fargo – Another returning favorite comes back for its third season. This one turns the quirky detective genre up a notch by making almost everyone in the show quirky to some extent. It’s fun to follow along with the crazy twists and turns of the story.

    Brooklyn Nine-Nine – The fourth season just finished up of this wacky police comedy and it still tickles my funny bone. It has a good ensemble cast and lots of laughs.

    New Girl – A show I’ve found funny since the beginning and it hasn’t let up. Lots of crazy fast back and forth dialogue keeps me interested. Next year will be its last season and I’ll miss it when it’s gone.
    There you go. What have you been watching?

    I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got seven new comics.

  • Birthright – 25
  • Copperhead – 14
  • Manifest Destiny – 29
  • Shadows on the Grave – 5
  • Divided States of Hysteria – 1
  • Jimmy’s Bastards –
  • Marvel Tales – 191
  • Check them all out here:

    With all of the twenty five cent Walking Dead and Invincible comics that I got this past Spring I’ve been making a lot of sketch covers. I wrap a piece of Bristol board around the comic and draw on it. That creates a whole new original art cover for the comic. Sometimes I stick to the Walking Dead theme and sometimes I come up with my own. Recently I came up with a new “Comic book that doesn’t exist” to make some sketch covers of. “The Museum of the Strange.”

    I’m sure there have been lots of museums of the strange over the years. In movies, TV, comic books, novels, or whatever it’s not a rare concept. There are plenty of stories to be told that have to do with getting a whole bunch of weird things in a room and calling it a museum. My particular take on the concept was to go literal with it. I wanted to draw a picture of a picture that was in a museum. It was a simple concept but it took a while to come together. Figuring out how to represent the museum was the hardest part.

    First I had the idea that the drawings should be in drawings of frames. But unless I wanted to draw an ornate frame, which I didn’t want to, a frame is just a series of rectangles. It could easily be mistaken for a window or something else. Even with the “Museum of the Strange” logo I wanted to make sure the “Museum” part was clear. It popped into my head that I could have people standing in front of the painting and looking at it to make the museum part clear. The problem I ran into with that was that drawings of the backs of people’s heads are really boring and were distracting. Plus they ate up too much room on the cover. A cover that’s one third boring isn’t going to cut it.

    Eventually I landed on the single figure silhouette. Once again a solution that I am not the first to arrive at but it works well. A silhouette says that a person is in the picture but offers no more detail than that because no more detail is needed.

    It’s not as easy to draw a silhouette of somebody from the back as you might think. You have to capture some sort of gesture or stance when really most of us look like blobs from the back. With our arms at our sides all our shapes blend together. Plus all the characters need short haircuts in general. Otherwise things blur together even more. So short hair, arms akimbo, shoulders tilted, and hips slanted. That’s what I went for. It’s not hard but I had to find the path.

    Taking a look at “Museum of the Strange” #5 you can see my basic approach to these covers. They’re all about my weird drawings of weird faces. And those weird faces are looking at you. I made the logo and picture frame on the computer and printed those out on a blank piece of paper. I even drew the silhouette before hand, scanned it in, and printed that out on the paper along with the other stuff. Then I drew the picture in the frame. I like to keep it spontaneous but not as spontaneous as one of my ink drawings. I draw it in pencil first. I keep the pencils loose to give myself more room when I come in with the ink but I do nail down the basics.

    That creature with the bright green face came first and I had all of his face down in pencil except for those round markings. That’s the sort of thing I leave for later. I even leave other things, like the small tick marks on his jaw, for after I color it in marker. If I try to put those in before the color I find they smear a little sometimes. Not always but I can’t count on them not smearing. It’s odd that the little ink marks smear but the bigger ink marks almost never smear. I think it’s easier for the alcohol from the marker to surround the little marks and lift a little bit of ink off the paper. I like little tick marks when not overdone. They add a little bit of texture things.

    The woman on the left came second. Big head in front and slim body off to the side is a composition I used a lot. It works for me. It helps with scale and depth plus it allows me variety. I get to draw a big face and a torso. The background also has some of my usual elements. Pyramids are something I always use in drawings. They have a few things going for them. They’re familiar but exotic, they add a sense of scale since we know they’re big, and they’re a basic shape. Basic is always relatable. I also put a circle behind the woman’s head. I’ve been into background circles lately. Once again a basic shape that always works. Plus it can reference the sun or a halo if the circler is in the right spot.

    The part where things got unfamiliar is the very bottom part of the drawing. The blue strip with the vague sort of machinery on it. After defining every little shape in the rest of the drawing I kept those for legged buttons loose. Unlike the rest of the drawing the lines that make them up don’t even connect. They land sketchily near each other instead. They make up a different world. I was going to draw them like the rest of the drawing but then I said no and changed course. I’m not even sure why but I like the decision.

    After the inks I colored it with marker. That’s something I’m good at so it didn’t take long. I kept things bright and clear. I let the greens and blues dominate, threw in some hot oranges to bounce around, and ground it all with neutrals. That may sound like gibberish to some but I’ve got it down.

    The last thing I added was the colored stripes in the background. I used my hatching guide and figured out a pattern. It added just the right finishing touch. I’m always happy with a nice pattern.