Friday, September 27, 2013

The Hassle with Harley

It's funny because I'm "Mr. J" too.

Avid comics reader on the Internet have likely heard about DC Comic’s controversial Talent Search contest involving the Joker's ever perky but long suffering henchwoman Harley Quinn committing multiple suicide attempts. 

While I had initial reservations about taking part in this at first but I didn't think I could afford to pass up the opportunity of getting my work in front of an editor of a big company and how it could potentially lead to steady, paying work.

While there was questionable content in this story, I think the experience was a good one for me as I learned a bit about my own skills and limitations as an artist in the process.

The script itself lent itself well to my illustrative style since the four panels were all separate actions. 

Harley is on top of a building, holding a large DETACHED cellphone tower in her hands as lightning is striking just about everywhere except her tower. 

I went with a vertical panel to best showcase the lightning. The composition itself was meant as a homage the final shot of the opening to "Batman: The Animated Series", reflecting on the character's origins in that show.  

Harley is wearing a raincoat in this scene. I thought it might be fun for her to change outfits as she moved from situation to situation. Also because the entry rules for the competition said they didn't want any cosmetic changes made to Harley's existing costume, but didn't provide a picture of her current look. Given that she's had about three different costume changes since the reboot of 2011 plus her variant look from the "Arkham" video games, you'd that her appearance is something they'd want to set straight. So my plan was to conceal her duds as much as possible. 

Harley is sitting in an alligator pond, on a little island with a suit of raw chicken on, rolling her eyes like once again, she cannot believe where she has found herself. We see the alligators ignoring her.

I took a good deal of creative license with this panel as Harley is standing, screaming and ringing a dinner bell to try and get the alligator's attention. Also she has sausage links around her neck rather than chicken tied to her because I thought that suspended meat would not only be funnier, but also read better.

Harley is sitting in an open whale mouth, tickling the inside of the whale’s mouth with a feather. She is ecstatic and happy, like this is the most fun ever.

This panel was one of the most fun to draw what with all the craggy bits on the whale and its excess spit. I actually inked the whale on its own because I enjoyed it so much. 

Harley sitting naked in a bathtub with toasters, blow dryers, blenders, appliances all dangling above the bathtub and she has a cord that will release them all. We are watching the moment before the inevitable death. Her expression is one of “oh well, guess that’s it for me” and she has resigned herself to the moment that is going to happen.

I didn't want to show much of Harley's body because I didn't want a piece about death to come off as "fanservicey". That and the more submerged she was, the less I had to draw!

I wasn't confident in the rendering of her "This is the end" face, so I added the bit of her popping to soap bubble to try and drive to point home better. Then I had Harley pull the rope to drop the appliances into the tub with her foot because I thought it would show her being playful to the end. 

It took about two-three weeks to complete this page (although I was juggling a number of other projects at the same time) so I may not have the speed necessary to complete a monthly book. Also I was frequently hung up on details, particular the anatomy which appears rather rigid. This is likely a result of my dependence on model pictures and piecing together multiple reference photos to create the desired poses. Most of my time during pre-production focusing on the composition of the panels than on practicing the poses. So don't be surprised if I start posting more gesture drawings in the coming month to try and improve. 

While I did enjoy planning how each panel would flow into the next, the level of attention I assigned to the space rather than on Harley herself suggests I may be better suited to more illustration based projects in the future.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Ahoy mateys! Today be International Talk Like A Pirate Day! YARR! What began as a parody celebration is now recognized as an official holiday in my home state of Michigan believe it or not. Unfortunately there is no day off for the occasion to go pillage and plunder.

To honor this maritime mirth, I thought I might share this portrait I drew to test out my new Waccom tablet.

Depicted here is Captain Marvelous, protagonist of the Japanese pirated themed superhero series "Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger". 

Monday, September 16, 2013

LOEB: Fantastic Finds!

Illustration by C.F. Payne

I actually had some reluctance in joining the League, since unlike most of the other contributors, I am not a collector in the traditional sense. I joked last week about how I was a collector of images, but that really pales in comparison to some of outrageous items many of you have unearthed from the various corners of the goodwill and garage sale globe.

While I may not accumulate as much as my peers, I have been known to frequent rummage sales, garage sales and used book sales and have found some rather interesting items during those trips. This past summer in particular I've often tweeted "garage sale find" with a picture of whatever odd thing I've found. 

J.C. Leyendecker is easily my favorite illustrator. He had unique rectilinear style and sharply defined features in his figures, with well developed compositions and a certain charm to his storytelling skills. However, he was very reclusive, even in his heyday during the Roaring '20s, and has since been overshadowed by Rockwell as the Saturday Evening Post's golden boy, so I was very surprised to find these two framed pictures of his covers. The one with the toymaker is actually one I had never seen reprinted before, so that was quite a find indeed.

I found those pictures at the Lutheran church's annual rummage sale last year were I also acquired this nifty T-Shirt. 

While my hometown may be small, the local library's used book sale always delivers the goods. I've found a wide variety of titles and found many surprising special interest selections. (A pity there isn't this much material on the actual shelves) I think the one book I've bought that left the biggest impact on me was "Dennis the Menace: His First 40 Years". 

Up until finding this tome about a year ago I hadn't know Dennis the Menace as anything other than a Diary Queen mascot and one of many newspaper comic strips that had long since past its prime. Seeing the origins of this comic, I was blown away by its quality. The amount of detail that Hank Ketcham was able to pack into a single panel all with just a few choice strokes of the pen! There was a perfect balance between light and dark that produced an incredible sense of definition to such an abstract cartoon world. The inside cover was even autographed by Hank Ketcham! Who gives that away?! 
I couldn't believe that in all my time reading old comics, I had never seen this one. Oh how I wish I had back when I was doing those panels for Sleep Care, I really could have learned a thing or two on how to reign myself in and push my boundaries at the same time. 

The book sale's movie selections have increased by leaps and bounds in the past few years. With such great bargain prices, I can afford to buy something I've never said before, watch it once, and if I don't need to watch it again, just donate it back for the library to benefit a sale yet again. 

What could have potentially been my greatest film find was a VHS Tape of "Jetman", a Japanese superhero series from the early '90s. It had a sleeve and label written in English, so I assumed it was something a video distributor had hastily dubbed in order to capitalize on the success of "Power Rangers". Sadly, I'll never know what was on the video because nothing happened when I tried to play it. On closer inspection, I noticed a label along the side that said "Not to be used outside of the province of Malaysia". If I wanted to watch it I would need a Region 2 or 3 VCR, but I think I just threw it away out of disappointment.

Fortunately I've had better finds when it comes to collecting film promotional material. I have a number of movie posters in storage awaiting the day when I can find a residence with more wall space for me to hang these up proudly like the works of art that they truly are. 

I found a framed copy of this Bob Peak masterpiece at a Baptist Church rummage sale for three dollars! My dream is that one day I'll have a place with an entertainment lounge with wall space to display a couple of posters like this. I may have to purchase some of Peak's other posters to balance it out the awesome or else tie the whole house together around a common theme. 

This poster for a 1941 spy thriller that I bought at an estate sale in July for four dollars may be the oldest in my collection. I've got a special place in my heart for these old suspense features and the posters during that era have an engaging kind of simplicity with their blocky letters and bold colors. Maybe I just need to gather enough of diverse catalog of posters that I can swap them out every month or so just to keep things fresh. Though it would be difficult to plan the wall color around constantly changing decor. 

Perhaps Bogie himself can close us out with his own thoughts on discovering a rare find:

Other Collectors in the League:
* Kal's Action Figures

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

LOEB: Something Blue

This past weekend, I stumbled across the sketches of artist Shane Glines, character designer for Batman Beyond and Beware the Batman. His drawings are influenced heavily by the style of illustrators from the '50s and 60s, and his sketchbooks contain plenty of doodles of leading actors from the era.

Sensing a common interest, I started to draw my own renditions of Old Hollywood and classic TV icons in portraits various hues of colored pencil to make my sketchbook look more vibrant. It just so happens that most of them were in blue. The plan was I could work freely in color so that I could trace over them and tighten up the detail with either ink or just a regular pencil later on, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Oddly enough I think knowing the I was free to be loose with my lines ended up making them look more precise. Go figure.

Boris Karloff (who I almost wish I had drawn in green) checking out Carolyn Jones

Veronica Lake, Simone Simone and Yvonne Craig as Batgirl. There is always room for Batgirl.

I keep many pictures in my Inspirations file, photos and illustrations, to help aid in the creative process.
Here are some in this week's particular hue.

Robert Fawcett

Roy Krenkel - Albert Drake

 Shelli Paroline - James Bingham

Robert McGinnis

Jon Whitcomb

Xavier Ramonede

James Bingham

Carter Goodrich

James Bingham (Again)

Stevan Dohanos

George Hughes

Lynne Naylor

Edmund Dulac

Chris Reccardi

Norman Rockwell

Will Eisner

Concept Art from "Kiki's Delivery Service"

Kelsey Shannon

Power Rangers!

While I work I'll often listen to instrumental music, particularly movie soundtracks. One of my favorite movies of all time in the 1965 drama film "A Patch of Blue" and it has a beautiful score to match its quality. Its a quiet, soothing melody, in contrast to Jerry Goldsmith's later action movie marches.

Also, I acquired the soundtrack to "Fantasia 2000" this weekend. The "Rhapsody in Blue" sequence is easily my favorite part of the film and adding the tune to my collection was long overdue.

Other Blue Leaguers:
* Nerd Rage starts out right with the Blues Brothers
* The Goodwill Geek spells it out nicely
* Cave of Cool gives us a Blue Blizzard

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