Hellspawn versus Venom! Two Anti-Heroes facing off

Black & White Version

I have mentioned previously that I am a Todd McFarlane fan. I REGRETTED not buying the first issue of Spawn when I had the chance to do so. But I was merely in my early teens and asking mum for money (RM7 was a lot of money for an issue) was not easy. American comic book collection was not a hobby for the average joe from a middle-class family. I remember the exchange rate, an Image Comic cost around RM6.80, with a cover price of USD1.95. That was way back, when the exchange rate was low, around USD1 = RM3.20/3.30. Unfortunately, things just got worse as the years passed. Back to Spawn, I bought my first two issues 6 and 8. Many years would pass before I was able to buy a few more (not the first two issues though). 

Anyway, my other favourite comic book artist is Erik Larsen, of Spider-man fame. I remembered reading my friend’s comic where Venom trapped Peter on a remote island, fully intent on killing him. The pacing of the two-part story was good and exciting! In the end Venom believed that he/they had killed Peter in an explosion. The art was wonderful, and from there I began to research on Venom – curious over web-head’s nemesis. 

While doing some work today, I figured, why not draw both of them? And here is the result – all done with my trusty Pentel Brush Pen. The following is the coloured version, which I thought was complete… but something kept nagging at me. What could it be?  

Coloured (Incomplete)

I realised that the above version was incomplete… notice the chains dangling over Spawn’s chest? It was… just dangling there! Oh no… I can imagine the painstaking detail that every comic book artist has to go through just to finish the page. It is a WONDER that they are able to do ONE full-page of comic art a day (which is supposed to be the standard pace). I took up the brush and added the details again… and now, may I present to you the finished piece:

Coloured (Complete)

I realised also that I was missing the shadow of the chains. It just did not sit right with me. Yes, there are still some stuff that needs corrections, like the spikes on the hellspawn’s right arm… but… I will let that slide. Correction pen (the one I have) does not play well with me. I am still trying to find a pen that gives off white ink, that is better than what we get with the correction pen. 

Ollie, the Green Arrow Sketch

Black and white rendition.

You know, I did not actually wanted to draw Ollie (Oliver Queen). But I had “Arrow” playing in the background, and there was just this moment when I paused the episode that just looked nice. So I whipped out the sketchbook, and drew this. I honestly think that “less sometimes is more”, as in, the fewer lines I use, the better the overall piece looks. I have known of some very great comic book artists who use minimal strokes in rendering their characters. Some (of my mind at the moment) of them are: Sean Phillips and Tim Sale. Really good linework that just captures everything through the thickness of the line, the curve, the lack of it (negative space)… 

Unfortunately, I have yet to learn the patience and the skill to do so. Somehow, it just looks sloppy if not enough ‘blacks’ are on the page (actually what went through my mind)… 

Well, I decided to colour the piece. Please bear with my colour selection – I only read the labels, because I am actually colour-blind. Not the severe type, but enough that I do get the green/brown mixed up – along with brown/red and purple/blue. It is my weakness. By themselves, I can ‘guess’ the colour fairly accurately (nowadays), but when it is mixed or next to one another – there is where my confusion begins.

Which picture looks better? The black and white? Or the coloured version? Please let me know. By the way, Stephen Amell will always be the Green Arrow in my mind 🙂

Coloured version.

Logan/Wolverine in His Feral State – Weapon X

The hardest part with Logan is his facial features, IMHO

Here is my challenge of the day – drawing a feral Logan. I love Chris Claremont’s story on Wolverine: he was a mysterious man, who continually struggles to be a civilised man. Logan grew throughout Claremont’s run, from being a mindless berserk, to a thoughtful, self-controlled ninja. However, towards the early 2000’s, the unthinkable happened – they (Marvel head-honchos) decided to make a series to reveal Logan’s backstory and past. That is the worst thing that happened to the character, as the mystery is taken away. 

This particular art is based off Jim Lee’s rendition in X-men #4. I liked Jim Lee’s interpretation of Logan; he was short, bulky, and moody – as I always pictured him to be. You will be surprised how many artist would render Logan as a 5 foot 8 inches. In the original, he is 5 feet 3 inches!!! And no, this was WAY before Hugh Jackman took on the onscreen role. 

This was 95% done with a sepia coloured Pentel Brush Pen. I just ‘corrected’ some areas with Pigma Micron 0.1 pen and a correction pen (for the adamantium claws). 

The finished piece! Voila!

G-Man (Generic Man) Sketch – Crosshatching practice

Generic Man – an obvious clone of Superman!

Today was a slow day. With a house full of sick and recovering people, this was the best I could muster within half an hour. I have a Body-Kun, SFH Figuart doll, which is an obvious clone for the price I paid. I took a few shots on the camera and let my younger son decide which pose he preferred. He wanted to watch me draw, so I gave him the honour of choosing the pose. This was the pose he wanted. After drawing for a while, I thought… “What the heck… let me draw a cape on the guy… and… just make him a blatant copy of the now famous (and universal) Superman.” 

Throw in some watercolour and correction pen ink, and took a small pen knife to scrape lightly across the page, and this is the end result. I notice a lot of mistakes (particularly the chest), but I have to admit that I was not really focusing on the shadows… more on crosshatching itself. It is an AMAZING technique that DEMANDS patience and consistency. Something I need to practice more, and more. When it is mastered to a certain degree, you get wonderful art like the ones by Bernie Wrightson and Dave Sim… beautiful art that I can re-read without a hint of boredom (strictly on art… not story, that is). 

Daredevil Ready for Action!

The challenge is always to come out of the rut after seeing tonnes of wonderful artists out there. My mission is to come out of “amateur” hour and hopefully hone my skills a bit more.

This piece is inspired by the recent Netflix Daredevil series, season 3, which I am highly recommending to everyone. If you have not seen this, GO SEE IT now! Yes… Now.

Matt Murdock’s alter ego is fun to draw because his costume design is not complicated. In this, I think Quesada’s (Joe) style which he used to great effect in his run with Kevin Smith, on the Marvel Knight’s series, back in early 2000, fits the mood and soul of Daredevil perfectly. I remember he would incorporate some art nouveau into the splash pages… Brilliant!

I liked David Mack’s painting too… And of course, Alex Maleev’s phenomenal digital art. Having said that, what works with Daredevil does not translate well with Spider-man, though one would be tempted to think so. The mood and the vibe is just too different.

Hope you enjoy this piece. Done with Pentel Brush Pen (dry), and then with some light inks for outlines, and only then with some simple washes (watercolour). Finished with the correction pen and the Micron ink pen to tighten some of the form.

A Glimmer of Hope for “Dark Matter” Season 4? News from the Creator…

Dark Matter” is the best science fiction series in recent years. I admit that I am quite picky when it comes to series, as I do not like to binge watch. I prefer to appreciate them the way it was when I was younger (30 years ago), when I watched the old Battlestar Galactica and then, Babylon 5 (the defining Sci-fi series for me). “Dark Matter” has it all – mystery, cool space-battles, political intrigue and cliffhanger season-endings! But the last episode of the Season 3 was quite upsetting, not because of the massive cliffhanger (Spoiler ALERT: “Black Ships are coming”), but because the series has been abruptly dropped even though it was doing pretty well for a third season sci-fi series.

After many attempts at trying to get the series picked up by other companies, i.e. Netflix, there was only disappointment. Which is why I am happy to read the following from Joseph:

“Whenever fans have asked me about the prospect of a Dark Matter revival, I’ve been honest with them. It’s unlikely, but I still hold out hope for a mini-series that would allow me to wrap up as many of those narrative loose ends as possible and, hopefully, offer fans some closure. That, I honestly felt, was the best case scenario.

Until today after my conversation with a very determined individual with connections to a group of equally determined, forward-thinking individuals who have proposed an atypical but very intriguing approach to getting it done. And the more they talk about it, the more convinced I become that, maybe, the odds of a fourth and fifth season of Dark Matter may not be as long as I’d initially assumed.

Ambiguous, no? Alas, for now, all I’ll say is that the wheels on a resurrection are – surprisingly – in motion again. There is, of course, no guarantee that anything will come of this, but the strategy is crazy-brilliant and certainly worth pursuing.”

The full post can be read from here – https://josephmallozzi.com/2018/11/12/november-12-2018-distant-dark-matter-rumblings/

A chance is better than none at all. Here is hoping for the release of AT LEAST a season four for this MUST watch series.

The Failure of Stan Lee’s “Fantastic Four” on the Big Screen – Solution Proposed!

Thoughts and messages are pouring in by the thousands when news of Stan Lee’s death was made public. If there is one creation that is largely forgotten by millennials, it would be the “Fantastic Four” family-group. As far as I know, there has been three movies so far (the direct-to-video does not count). The first two are connected, while the third is an attempted reboot. In all three of them, there has been sparsely any interest generated, unlike the movies from the other Marvel titles.

This IS very curious and strange indeed. Why? Because “Fantastic Four” is “the World’s GREATEST comic magazine” as it is emblazoned on the cover title of its comic! By the way, that is obviously Stan Lee’s idea… Bold statement, but it is an idea that eventually proved itself in the early 100 issues of its publication. Yet, why has the fab four (not the Beatles) failed at grabbing movie-going audiences?

Here is my own take on it: it comes down to the difference between the era, style and translation of the comic medium, where the comic thrives, into the film medium. Stan and Jack had many issues to slowly build the momentum of the “family” dynamics, comprising in beginning of Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny. Although the issues were self-contained, there was a consistent movement of the overall narrative of the struggles of 4 different individuals, who has 4 different superpowers coping and adapting to the world around them. More than that, they had to learn to put aside their bickering and to subdue whatever was thrown against them, from Mole Man, to Namor, to their infamous arch-nemesis Doctor Doom… They learnt to work together. This “slow” pacing is not easily translated into a 2 hour plus movie. Family dynamics work better as an animation, or as a mini-series on TV, than it does in movies.

At this point, you may wonder why does “Incredibles” work on the big screen when it is nearly a rip-off of the “Fantastic Four”. Need I remind you that the animation begins the story in the “future”, and not at the beginning. The introduction of the characters are all done as flashbacks, and a lot of the background context is assumed upon the audience through the bits of information given in those flashbacks, and the familiarity of audiences with the stereotypical ‘superhero’ narrative. This is different from the movie adaptations of “Fantastic Four” – all of them begin with the ORIGIN of how they acquired their powers! Again, and again. Although I barely watched the third (recent) movie that was heavily panned by all, I know enough that yet again it deals with them acquiring their powers.

How would I go about relaunching or rebooting the movie version of Marvel’s most famous Family Superhero? I would skip their origin. In fact, I would introduce the multiverse concept (brilliantly done by Marvel’s Distinguished Competitors) to bring forth a terribly enemy that is much greater than Thanos. Yes, much greater and darker. Doctor Doom. I enjoyed Jonathan Hickman’s recent (a few years back) run on two Fantastic Four titles, and I would use that to introduced a maxed out Doom who has defeated and used his multiverse counterparts to be the most powerful villain that combines science, magic and pure raw power – e.g. Siphoning it out of Galactus or Beyonder or Molecule Man.

Or, they could start the reboot movie with another dangerous, creepy enemy – Marvel Zombies! Mark Millar’s run in the Ultimate version of the Fantastic Four is also worth using. Let Reed and gang be fighting off multiple troubles like any other families – from the government, public opinion and finances. Let it all out, and have these enemies hit them, and show their pain and struggles, and how they ARE the veterans of the Marvel Universe. Perhaps, during a particular fight, a portal leads them to the MCU and joins them with the current stable of established on-screen heroes. But this would be amazing.

Oh, and Doctor Doom should always stay faithful to the comics. No more weird changes – to make him more robotic, or crazy, or whatever. Bring him out as the person who is ambitious, calculating, cold and brilliant! One who is truly wicked… PURPOSEFULLY wicked, willing to sacrifice everything to gain the upper-hand, and to gloat. Goodness, I will pay to watch this over and over again! No more mucking with their age, or their ethnicity, or looks. Just focus on the main story and characterisation. No jokes please. A light-hearted Fantastic Four is the one where Jessica Alba kept showing off her lingerie… No more!

We need a WORTHY Fantastic Four movie, Marvel! We need it!

Stan Lee (1922-2018) Passes Away on the 12th November 2018

The sad news is that THE MAN, Stan Lee, born Stanley Martin Lieber, has passed away on the 12th November 2018. It is sad, but not shocking as the man was already 95 years old. He has lived a long ful-filling life. And it is not surprising because his wife, Joan Lee, passed the year before. This is what I observe over the years, that most elderly couples pass away not far from each other – as a sort of manifestation of the dependency and love towards one another.

Stan Lee was the man who was involved in the creation of many, many PROMINENT superheroes – namely, the Amazing Spider-Man, the X-men, the Avengers and the Fantastic Four to say the least. I do not think it is disrespectful to openly state that Stan Lee was not the sole creator of these wonderful heroes – as his contribution was the concept, idea and story, while his collaborators equally contributed in the vision, the visuals of the characters and stories. But it is true to say: without Stan Lee, there would be no Marvel Comics as it is now. We cannot overstate the importance that he has left on the American comic book industry and on popular entertainment today.

Thank you, Stan Lee.

The thanks will be pouring in worldwide for the next few weeks. As it should.

Todd McFarlane’s Spawn! An Attempt at Rendering the Hellspawn!

Started with the drawing and hatchings
Then tried adding in the Reds where appropriate…
With Watercolour Washing for backdrop… and allowed the piece to dry
Before finishing it with some splatters of white, black and yellow (lemon yellow!)

A man of controversy, Todd McFarlane has always been a news-maker especially in the 90’s when he and some of the best Marvel comic artists quit the juggernaut comic publisher, Marvel comics, and formed their own Image Comics. Here is a man that NO ONE can ever ‘shut up’, either by their business moves, or their written words (go read his debates/discussions/insults with Peter David). Remember the time when this millionaire bought a few baseball memorabilia to the tune of a few million bucks? Again, that caused news. For me, it was not until last year, when a video interview featuring Todd McFarlane came up, that I understood the REAL reason for that expensive purchase – in short, it was a genius BUSINESS move that allowed him to rake much more from that ‘investment’. 

For me, McFarlane will always be the man who pushed the art boundaries on Spider-Man. Just look at his iconic style that is STILL utilised in the drawing of Spider-Man. 1) Making Spidey’s Eye-Mask disproportionately HUGE! 2) Introducing the spaghetti webbing style… 3) Having Spidey posing in a more arachnid manner – contorting his body to humanly impossible positions. 4) Cluttering the whole page with so much detail that years later, you can still find something ‘new’ that you did not ‘catch’ before (i.e. count the spiders on the covers!). Phew… and then, there was the next evolution of the man in his Image Comics debut: SPAWN. Everyone was expecting an amalgam between Batman and Spider-man, but to EVERYONE’s amazement – it was VERY little super-hero, and a LOT of HORROR/THRILLER. For sure, the superhero elements were there at the start, but as the series continued, it got so dark that many of the ‘superhero’ fans dropped it. But the Spawn universe was exciting, as it introduced amazing writers and artists – like Greg Capulo on pencils and Brian Michael Bendis. The latter was my favourite on “Sam and Twitch” which read like a cop-drama TV series! If you want, you can try this title from Book Depository – a UK Based Bookstore that offers FREE SHIPPING all around the world! 

Check out Brian Michael Bendis’ “Sam and Twitch” from Book Depository, below!

I get inspired everytime I read about McFarlane’s latest endeavours in comic books. Sorry, but I am not really into his toys, although they ARE really gorgeous (and EXPENSIVE *cough *cough). The latest that piqued my interest is the Live-Action HORROR movie featuring this HELLSPAWN! It is going to be ALL of Todd McFarlane. This could really BOMB, but hey, it is his own money on the line – it is not going to be a commercially dictated product, and FOR THAT, I will shell out my own cash to watch it and own it.

Anyway, I can write a lot about Todd… but here is my rendition of the Hellspawn. I will make more paintings after this – I think that may suit my mood and skill more. We will see. For now, hope you enjoy this piece.