Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Captain America Project #3: J.G. Jones

The Captain America Project: 20 comic artists, 20 drawings of Captain America on one page.

This week:  J.G. Jones (52, Doc Savage)

Watercolor by J.G. Jones
Captain America copyright Marvel Comics

When I approached J.G. Jones in 2010 I was expecting a pen and ink sketch.  It turns out he was doing watercolor commissions all day and he was able to squeeze this request in for me.  Fortunately the paper stock I chose for this jam piece was thick enough to handle watercolors.  I don’t want to play favorites, but this particular head sketch went above and beyond and I couldn’t have been happier.  J.G. is a super nice guy, too.

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Happy Birthday William Shatner!

Happy 81st birthday to actor (Star Trek, T.J. Hooker), director (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, The Captains), author (TekWar) and sci-fi icon William Shatner.

I met him briefly at Wizard World New York in 2009.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to interview him, but he did autograph this incredible watercolor painting I commissioned from Marvel artist Paolo Rivera (Mythos, Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil) earlier that day.

Painting by Paolo Rivera
Star Trek copyright Paramount

Needless to say, it’s one of my favorite pieces of art in my collection.

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The Captain America Project #2 – Ethan Van Sciver

The Captain America Project: 20 comic artists, 20 drawings of Captain America on one page.

This week:  Ethan Van Sciver (Green Lantern Reborn, Flash Reborn)

I got this sketch from Ethan Van Sciver shortly after Mike McKone’s at Wizard World New York in 2010.  One thing that surprises me is the varying line weights Ethan was able to achieve with a rapidograph given the actual image area he had to work with was almost half the size of the image below.

Captain America Copyright Marvel Comics

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40 Years of The Godfather

Photo copyright Paramount Pictures

I completely forgot that today was the 40th anniversary of the premiere of The Godfather.  Or as it’s referred to at my parents house: Il Padrino.  A very happy birthday to Michael, Sonny, Fredo and Don Corleone.  Cent’anni!

But let me make three things VERY clear:

1.  We are not, nor have we ever been, involved in organized crime.

2.  I was not named after one of the characters.  The fact that I was born several months after this film was released is strictly coincidental.

3.  I was not born in Italy.  I was born in Westchester, grew up in Westchester. I was given an Italian name just in case my family decided to move back to their home country.

Up until my early 20s, one of the first questions I would hear after introducing myself to someone with a non-Italian last name was: “Were you named after that guy in The Godfather?”

After too many years of this, my response became “Yes, my mom insisted that I be named after an assassin in a mafia film.”

Now that I’ve cleared that up, let me say that The Godfather to me is like The Shawshank Redemption to most other folks.  Every time I stumble on it flipping through the channels, I have to watch it through to the end regardless of how far into the movie it is.  Over the course of almost forty years, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen it.

My folks let us watch it at a very early age with no thought as to whether it would be inappropriate for kids.  To them, it was a film about Italians and their experience in America.  They let us watch it for cultural purposes.  That was the case for most Italian movies we saw, 99% of which were not mafia related.  Remind me to tell you about the time I saw Lina Wertmuller’s Swept Away at age 8.

But that in no way means that I consider this film an accurate representation of Italian-American life.  To this day, I still haven’t seen a film or TV show that does.  Just because I love this film, doesn’t mean I condone mafia activity.  To me, it’s a beautiful film.  Period.

A great article on Richard Castellano (“Clemenza” in the film) from last Sunday’s New York Post here.

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The Captain America Project #1 – Mike McKone

In October 2010 I started The Captain America Project.  My goal was to commission 20 comic book artists to draw Captain America on one sheet of 11×17 comic art paper with 20 pre-drawn panels.  Each is panel a little smaller than the size of a baseball card.

Each week I’ll be posting a new panel from the page in the order in which it was drawn.  When the project is complete, I’ll post an image of the entire page.

First up was this sketch by Mike McKone (Teen Titans, Amazing Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four).

Captain America Copyright Marvel Comics.

I was very impressed with the amount of detail he added to this sketch given the panel he had to work with was only 2″ by 3″.  The flag in the background was a great touch.

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Jean Giraud – aka Moebius (1938-2012)

Adieu, Moebius.  Merci pour l’inspiration.

More on his life and career here.

Jean Giraud (Moebius) Self Portrait

Stan Lee and Terry Dougas’ Romeo and Juliet: The War

Comic book publisher and icon Stan Lee and 1821 Comics co-founder Terry Dougas unveiled their latest graphic novel Romeo and Juliet: The War at the 2011 New York Comic Con. The hit stores January 25th, is Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet reimagined as a sci-fi fantasy set in the future. It was written by Max Work with artwork by Skan Srisuwan.

Copyright 1821 Comics

From the press release:

ROMEO AND JULIET: THE WAR takes Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers and places them in the futuristic sci-fi/fantasy Empire of Verona, the most powerful territory on Earth. The MONTAGUES, powerful cyborgs made of artificial DNA, and the CAPULETS, genetically enhanced humans known for their speed and agility, worked in tandem to destroy all threats to the city. With no one left to fight, the Montagues and Capulets found themselves a new enemy: each other.

“This is the graphic novel I’ve always dreamed of doing. Take one of the world’s greatest stories, known and loved throughout the globe, place it against the background of a future age, a more violent, science-gone-mad age–embellish it with the most powerful, dazzling, illustrations ever seen and produce it in the largest, most impressive format of all. Romeo and Juliet: The War! It’s the crowning achievement in this, the age of the graphic novel.” 

Added Terry Dougas of 1821 Comics, “Last year we announced the formation of our company and our plans to create the first in a series of graphic novel books and today we are proud to unveil one of the most highly anticipated books of our time ROMEO AND JULIET: THE WAR. We are treating this book like a studio tentpole release, and judging from the fan reaction today this property has a tremendous amount of sequel potential beyond just books. It is also an honor and privilege to be working with one of the most iconic and creative minds today comic legend Stan Lee and POW! Entertainment, we have the best partner in the business.”

I caught up with Lee and Dougas on the first day of the New York Comic Con.

What was the genesis of this particular project and how did you get involved?

Lee: Actually Terry Dougas came to me one day and said, “Why don’t we do Romeo and Juliet and update it?” And I loved the idea. He decided if we set it in the future, the Capulets and the Montegues can each have a superpower.  And when they fight, it becomes the kind of story that superhero fans love to read, but we tried to keep all of the ingredients and all of the elements of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. So hopefully if you’re a Romeo and Juliet fan you’ll love it, and if you’re a superhero fan, you’ll love all of the excitement and the superhero stuff that’s involved in the story!

Dougas: It’s just cool to set in a different environment for everyone to see. Because I knew it took place back then, of course, but setting it in a futuristic environment with all of these gadjets, all types of audiences can read it or watch it.  We kept the skeleton, we just made sure we respect the original piece of art.

How is the process working together? How it is working with Terry, and how is it working with Stan?

Dougas: He is such a diva. (laughs).

Lee: It’s great working with Terry because I can brow-beat him.  I yell at him. (laughs).  No he’s a great guy.  He has more ideas and more enthusiasm than anyone I’ve met in a long time.  I mean every time I talk with him he comes up with something new.  I thought I was creative, but I’m learning from him!

Dougas: For me it’s been an honor.  I grew up in Greece reading his comics, it’s just an honor.  I learn every day, he helps us with the company and the ideas also.  And every couple of weeks we brainstorm and figure out a way to make it the way we want to see it and read it.  That way we go to bed happy.  Hopefully everyone likes what we’ve done, that’s why we’re doing it as a big hardcover book, 10” by 13” and give enough to the readers to hopefully satisfy them and pay homage to Stan Lee and Shakespeare.

Lee:  I never knew anybody that put so much of himself into a project.  The average publisher would just publish a book, promote it a little, but this man [Dougas] has been working with this, and living with it, and making posters, and setting up meetings and designing statues.  He puts everything into it which I think is wonderful.

What medium was used for the artwork? Was it done mostly with computers or traditional pen and ink?

Dougas:  Mostly computers. This artist, Skan Srisuwan, is a great artist.  It took us a long time to find him.  We went through 200 artists in order to find him in Thailand where he’s working.  But he’s amazing.  The cover (of the book), he did that in 48 hours, which is incredible.  The hardcover book is 155 pages, so you can imagine how much work when into it because all of the panels have the same look to them.  We had to make sure it’s the absolute way we wanted it to come out.

Do you think this is the future of comic publishing? Moving away from pen and ink? 

Lee:  More and more the artwork in comic books begins to look like illustration and is computer aided if only in the coloring.  But I think there will always be a place for the regular pen and in drawings.  People love those, too.

Any hints on your next project after Romeo and Juliet?

Lee: My lips are sealed, he’d kill me! (laughs)

Romeo and Juliet: The War debuted at #7 on The New York Times Best Sellers list on both the hardcover and paperback graphic books best-seller lists.

Special thanks to Theo Dumont of Dumont Marketing for the opportunity to interview Lee and Dougas.

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Ralph McQuarrie (1929-2012)

I just saw the news that artist Ralph McQuarrie passed away yesterday at the age of 82.  His concept paintings for the Star Wars trilogy were George Lucas’s guiding force for the look of the films.

I first saw McQuarrie’s work in The Star Wars Album, a “making of” book published in 1977.  His concept paintings for A New Hope inspired me to draw and eventually pick up a brush and paint.

A few words from George Lucas and a slideshow of McQuarrie’s work here; a gallery of his Battlestar Galactica concept paintings here.

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