I put four different types of drawings onto my easel the other day. To look at them. I do that all the time with my drawings and paintings but I usually put drawings of a single type or from a single series up to look at. That gives me an idea of what I’ve done and where I’m going. Putting the four different types of drawings up was different. It ended up making me compare and contrast them. Especially since all four are the same size but made with four different techniques. That’s worth contemplating.

The Walking Dead “Monster Nine” – This is one of my hand bound sketch covers. Like the World’s Finest 290 sketch cover it looks like it’s the same size as the other two but the drawing actually continues on the back cover. On both of them there really isn’t much to the back cover so it’s easy to count just the front. It’s only a piece of shoulder on the back.

“Monster Nine” is the only one that’s in black and white. It’s actually only in black because it’s made with black ink and no white paint. The only white on the cover is the white of the page. “Snow Creep” is also in black and white (with the paper having color on it) but it’s made with black ink and white pastel. That’s a different type of black and white.

As the title implies I’ve done eight monsters on Walking Dead covers before this one. Some patterns have emerged. This monster is of the skinny-necked variety. I seem to got thick or skinny with the necks. Plus he has more normal teeth. The other teeth I do are all giants fangs. There are only four or five fangs across and they are big sharp triangles. This guy could have any number of teeth.

World’s Finest 290 – This is the second Superman I’ve done for one of these sketch covers. With these I’ve been taking a headshot from a panel on the inside and blowing it up to fill the cover. I’ve found that it isn’t always easy to find a good head shot inside. Each comic only has a couple of choices that are suitable for my purpose. Since I’m going in tight for a close up I often have to add a little art to the shoulders. Often word balloons cover parts of the shoulders.

Since I’m taking a headshot that could only be an inch tall and blowing it up to six inches tall the lines get bigger too. And I keep them that way. I like the big chunky forms that made up the eyes and rest of the face when they’re blown up. I have no interest in redrawing them with smaller and more detailed lines. I found them less striking when I tried to do that. Plus it a challenge to make the shapes work at a larger size. I find that fun.

Monsters On Comics “Snow Creep” – This is the first one of this type that I’ve done in a while. I first started drawing on pages torn from a comic because my local comic shop was throwing out some destroyed old comics but some of the pages were still good. I brought them home and used marker and white conté crayon to draw on them. But soon I was out of conté crayon and bought some new ones to replace the old ones. Turns out the new ones were crap and didn’t get the job done. So I stopped making these.

Of course you noticed up above that I wrote this drawing was made with pastel and not conté. When I ordered some art supplies I added in a Rembrandt super-soft white pastel. When it arrived I decided to give it a try with a new monster drawing. It worked like gangbusters. The pastel was even softer than the good conté crayon and it was like working with a stick of butter. The white come off the pastel stick so smoothly. Though I was so busy learning the new tool that I didn’t concentrate on the drawing as much as I should have. I don’t think this is one of my stronger monsters. I didn’t get the eyes anywhere near even on the face as one floats higher than the other but since it’s a weird monster it’s not that big a deal.

Far Away Worlds 9 – I consider the final one of the four to be the most fanciful. I don’t do a lot of landscapes so I started doing this series so I could let loose a little. I could throw off my shackles of figurative drawing and make something out of whatever crazy lines came out of my brush. I’d work with horizontals, diagonals, and verticals to create and alien space rather than my normal shapes and forms.

Of course I had to throw some eyeballs in because I didn’t seem to like the drawings as totally non-figurative. I also think a giant eyeball staring out at us makes the drawing a little more creepy. And oddly a little more relatable too. The landscape seems a little more impenetrable without the eye there. I can relate to the eye and it lets me into the weird landscape space.

Despite the ground being a purplish color this one seems more like home than some of the others in this series. The mountains are green and it looks like normal daylight. There are no strange moons or planets in the background. This one is almost comforting.

So there you go. Four different approaches and four different styles. All lined up in a row they look pretty cool. They hang together yet are distinct from one and another. They are familiar yet odd. Superman sure has a normal face but that Walking Dead monster isn’t as human as he could be. But he’s still more human than “Snow Creep.” Are they less monstrous than that giant eye looking at us from the Far Away World? A solid question. Back to contemplating.

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

  • Copperhead – 12
  • Drifter – 18
  • Ragnarok – 12
  • The Wicked + The Divine – 28
  • Sovereigns – 00
  • Check them all out here:

    This week I found a new thing to do with unwanted old comics. Yes, there is such a thing as comics that no one wants. Comic shops are filled with them. Lately I’ve been trying to clear out some space in my closets and get rid of some comic books and trade paperback collections that I don’t want. They’re books that I’ve accumulated over the years rather than collected. Some of them I’ve read once and have never cared to read again and some I’ve never even read at all. They’re books that someone gave to me because they didn’t want to throw them out. I’ve been putting them up on eBay to see if anyone will buy them but even if they’re really cheap sometimes it’s still not cheap enough. That’s how is was with my early 1980’s issues of World’s Finest Comics.

    I was a Marvel Comics kid in the late 1970s. DC Comics didn’t interest me very much. That changed in 1980 when Marv Wolfman and George Perez started doing a comic for DC called The New Teen Titans. It was a really good comic more in line with the stuff I liked over at Marvel. That got me to try out more DC books including these ones that no one wants anymore. World’s Finest was a comic that starred both Batman and Superman. Neither of these characters are among my favorites but the book was okay. When I first started buying it in the early 1980s it was a larger than normal comic book and instead of having one story in it had three or four. That got me to like the book. It may not have been great but it had variety. Three or four different creative teams to see each month. I thought that was pretty cool.

    So I put a bunch of these World’s Finest issues on eBay and got no takers. Even in a bundle at a dollar an issue with a “Best Offer” button on them they sat there for two months. That was enough for me to give up on the idea of selling them. So I got another idea. I would turn them into art.

    I’ve written about the self-bound Walking Dead sketch covers I’ve been doing lately (Here you go). I take a 25¢ Walking Dead #163, pull the staples, fold two ply Bristol board (with a logo printed on it) around the comic, put the staples back, and then draw on the new blank cover. This is what I had in mind for these old World’s Finest comics. After all they were as worthless as the 25¢ Walking Dead comics so who would miss them? And it’s not like they were high grade comics either. They were mid-grade at best. Besides I don’t think wrapping my art around them ruins them. It makes them better.

    I needed a different concept for the covers other than the monsters I was drawing on the Walking Dead ones. I decided on taking a face from a panel inside the comic book and using that as a basis for a new cover drawing. It was a decision born out of practicality. Y’see I’m not a huge fan of drawing other people’s super hero characters. I find it a chore and so my drawings of such usually turn out mediocre. Instead of drawing from scratch what I did was go through the comic and pick out one face that I liked. Then I scanned in that face, digitally isolated the black line drawing (as much as I could), blew up the drawing, and printed the drawing and the logo I recreated onto a sheet of Bristol.

    First of all I went with an older World’s Finest logo that was from long before this era. The actual logo, or rather logos, on these comics were a new and smaller World’s Finest plus the Batman and Superman logos. That was a little too cluttered for me. I recreated the 1960s logo instead and printed that out in black and white along with the rest of the 1960s cover trade dress. I like the look of it.

    I did no redrawing of the faces. After blowing them up really large they got fuzzy and distorted a bit. Going from an inch tall in a printed comic to six or seven inches tall makes a difference. But all the basic drawing was still there as done by the original artists and all I was really doing was presenting it in a different way. I broke out my ink and brush and worked right over the original drawing on the Bristol. Most of the shapes remained the same but the lines became my own.

    After working in ink I put the color in with my Comic markers. Since the inside color was simple I kept it that way. Just a few flat colors. No shading or dark to light techniques. The biggest challenge was getting the color in flat. When working with a marker it takes some doing to get flat color where the marker strokes aren’t obvious. I do this by filling in a broad are of color either with even strokes or by moving the marker brush in little circles. I also put down two coats of color. That makes the color more dense and fills in the areas more evenly.

    I’ve made four of these World’s Finest covers so far. Issue numbers 287, 288, 292, and 297. None of these are actually the larger four story issues that I mentioned. They’re the regular size issues that came out just after the oversized $1 comic era. I started with these once because they’re the ones I like the least. But it also means that I’ll have to figure out a different size if I do the dollar issues. One step I forgot to mention is figuring out exactly what size to cut the Bristol paper so it can be wrapped around the comic properly. You’d think it would be easy but it takes a few tries to get right. I measure the comic, make the outline of a box that size in Photoshop, print out the box on scrap paper, cut out the box, and see if that gives me the exact size paper I need. Repeat that three times adjusting the digital box size each time until I get it right. There you go. That’s all there is to it.

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

  • Captain Kid – 5 (of 5)
  • Love and Rockets Monthly – 2
  • Mighty Man – 1 (One Shot)
  • Motor Girl – 5
  • Paper Girls – 13
  • Planetoid: Praxis – 3
  • Uber: Invasion – 5
  • The Walking Dead – 166
  • Check them all out here:

    When it comes to my comic book collecting I’m not much of a nostalgia person. I spent most of my late 1970s childhood reading Marvel comics, added in some DC Comics when George Perez starting drawing the Teen Titans in 1980, but then pretty much dropped out of buying mainstream superhero titles by the late 1980s. I became an indie guy. So a lot of times when I see other people getting nostalgic for the comic book heroes of their youths I don’t really relate. I still like the comics I had when I was a kid and still have many of them but they rarely fill me with nostalgia. That sentimental feeling for times gone by. I moved on from the superhero world a long time ago. That’s why it was weird when buying some comics this week really made me nostalgic.

    There is a type of video that my comic book collector friends on YouTube like to make. At the end of the year you make a video showing off a wish list of comic books that you want to buy in the upcoming year. Not being much of a back issue collector I never made one of those videos until this year. I made it to get into the spirit of things and filled it with comics that would fill holes in my collection. I was in no rush to go out and get any of them but it was fun to make the list. One of the comics on the list was Matt Wagner’s “Mage”.

    “Mage” #1 come out sometime in the middle of 1984. The Grand Comic Book Database says May of 1984 but it also says they are missing the publication months for issues one through six. I’m not exactly sure when “Mage” came out but I bought the first issue off the shelf. I think it must have come out later in the summer but I don’t know for sure. Either way I graduated high school in June of 1984 and went off to college that September. I kept my pull list at my local comic shop when I was away but didn’t manage to get “Mage” onto it before I left. Though I enjoyed the first issue I don’t think I saw another issue until about issue four or five. In those pre-internet days if you missed out on a small press issue you were out of luck. I knew there was no way I was going to get those issues I missed so I didn’t bother with the series. Oh well, some get away.

    Flash forward to the series winding up in with issue fifteen in December of 1986. I was at my second college and used to frequent a comic shop in the White Plains Galleria called “Heroes World.” It was there that I saw that final issue. A friend of mine at school had recently loaned me “Grendel: Devil by the Deed” also by Matt Wagner. “Grendel” was the back-up story in “Mage” for a bunch of issues. I really liked it and so my interest in “Mage” was renewed. I grabbed that last issue plus a few others that the shop had in the 50¢ bin. I ended up with issues twelve through fifteen and read the end of the series. That’s how we rolled in those days. You read what you could get your hands on. You didn’t wait until you got all the issues or for the publisher to put the series out in a collected edition because collected editions were rare in those days and so were small press back issues.

    Then in 1987, against the norm, a publisher called Starblaze Graphics published all of “Mage” in three oversized editions. I bought the first two of them which reprinted issues one through eleven and then had the complete story. It quickly became a favorite. So for years and years I had “Mage” issue one, issues twelve through fifteen, and the two trade paperback volumes. I didn’t bother to fill in the issues I was missing or get that third collected edition because that’s not how I, or anyone I knew, did things in those days. Comics were hard to find and buying a story in different published versions wasn’t on my mind. It wasn’t until 2006 that I finally added that third collected edition to my collection. It cost me $6.50, shipping included, from Amazon. As an aside It would have cost me $14.95 in 1987.

    Even after completing the TPB portion of my “Mage” collection I didn’t have much interest in tracking down the single issues I was missing. I almost never go back issue hunting and when I have I’ve never seen an issue of “Mage” in any long boxes. So after I made up a wish list and put “Mage” on it I decided to check for them on the internet. Of course they were there since you can find just about every comic these days. It’s now rare when you can’t find something. I checked some comic shop web sites and eBay for individual issues but I never ended up buying any. Each issue was three or four dollars plus shipping and that was too much money and bother. Finally I saw a full fifteen issue set of them on eBay for $25 shipping included. Not a bad price but it was being sold by a non-comic book collector. That usually means the comics aren’t in great shape. Not always but usually. I didn’t jump on the set but I did put it on my watch list.

    From then on every now and then I’d check my eBay watch list and the set would still be there. Three months later and nobody bought them. The series just isn’t in demand. Then I read an announcement that Matt Wagner was finally going to do the third part of the Mage Trilogy. These 1980s issues were “The Hero Discovered”, and second series from 1997-1999 was “The Hero Defined”, and now we were finally getting “The Hero Denied.” That made me go see if that “Mage” lot was still there. It was. By coincidence I had just sold $25 worth of Deadpool TPBs on eBay so I figured I’d buy the “Mage” lot. So I did.

    They got here less than a week later. As I suspected they were in middling condition but that was okay. As I opened the package and looked through them a wave of nostalgia came over me. It made me so happy to look through those old comics. I couldn’t stop grinning. I took them out of their old 1980s comic book bags and put them in some mylar bags that made the comics look shiny and new. Even now as I flip through them issue by issues they make me smile.

    I’m not even positive what the nostalgia is for. I never even had these issues at the time. It must be because I associate “Mage” with my college years. It’s distinctly connected to that time unlike other comics I read at the time. I didn’t stop reading comics during my college years but “Mage” must be in my brain as a discovery of those time. Plus the main character is about the age I was when I was reading about him. Early 20s or so. That was a good time. Now let’s go bask in the memories.