Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Heaven and the Dead City, Volume 1-- The Book

Volume 1 of my graphic novel Heaven and the Dead City is out!
It's my first REAL published book!
(As opposed to all those imaginary books I've had published, that is...)
Look! It even has a spine and everything!

(Um, try to ignore the paint-spattered table it's resting on...)
And you can turn the pages!!!

(Yes, I do have a Lucky Cat pencil holder...)

This volume covers Chapters 1 and 2 of the ongoing webcomic.
You can read them in their entirety here : http://www.co2comics.com/pages/co2_heaven_and_the_dead_city.html ,
as well as Chapter 3, currently in progress (on my drawing table as well.) :  http://www.co2comics.com/pages/co2_heaven_and_the_dead_city_3.html

As I mentioned in an earlier blog  post, this painting
will be the cover of Heaven and the Dead City,
                  Volume 2. (right)

Co2 Comics just recently did some blogposts about their artists and this week was my turn. You can read about it here: http://www.co2comics.com/blog/2012/07/24/the-forecast-calls-for-raine/  (Ahh, puns...)

Heaven and the Dead City is available in
both hardcover and paperback forms here:


In the future, I will also be posting early pages
of the story in sequence in The Watcher Tree.
Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fan Girls and Their Animal Friends...

A few years ago, I did several fan paintings of some of my favorite comics characters. They were done as much for my portfolio as they were for the sheer fun of it. There are actually lots of comic book portraits I'd still love to do (along with an endless amount of other ideas for illustrations) but here are the few I managed to finish.

And please notice the gratuitous use of animals whenever I can fit them into a picture...

Wonder Woman, 2000. Gouache, colored pencils, chalk.
With extra added doves.
This is Wonder Woman in one of her many evolving outfits. I did like that they recently tried to give her breastplate straps (how amazingly practical!) as well as dark leggings, which I also sort of liked as well. However, both the straps and pants seemed have disappeared once more and she's back to bare legs and worrying again about her top staying in place while she thwarts evil-doers.

Actually, I'd love to do portraits of other super-heroines -- Storm, Black Canary, Catwoman, Emma Frost, the Scarlet Witch, etc., etc.  For fun, I'd love to do a picture of the old version of Supergirl when she still had Streaky the Super-Cat and Comet the Superhorse...

                   Every little girls' dream pets... and they come with their own capes.

               While we're at it, why not the new Batwoman with Ace the Bat-hound?
                           Everyone remembers Ace the Bat-hound, right?

I just think poor Kate Kane needs a dog. Especially a dog who wears a mask
to conceal his secret identity to fight crime in Gotham City.
(I for one certainly wouldn't recognize him with the mask on...)

Oh, who am I kidding? I'll use any excuse to get an animal in a picture with the humans.

For instance:
                                             It's Logan with his cuddly wolverine buddies!
                                                  (Wolverine, 2001. Gouache, colored pencils, chalk.)                

Because if you work in comics you're going to eventually have to do a picture
 of Wolverine someday... It's inevitable.

Animal Man, 2001. Gouache, colored pencils.
And of course, if you're going to combine animals with superheroes, here's a no-brainer:
Animal Man. (left)

 I loved the Grant Morrison revision of this character in the early '90's
and I even did a
few sample pages of penciling for my portfolio years ago. (I can drag those out for a future post if you really want to see them...)

But ten years later, I took one of the panels from those early sample pages and for fun, blew it up and turned it into this painting.

Actually the first comic characters I ever attempted were for my friend Matt, who is a big Neil Gaiman and Sandman fan. He commissioned me to do several members of the Endless, and although I never finished the whole family for him, I did get to have fun experimenting with the new medium I was working in (gouache.) 
Death, 1998. Gouache. No animals.
But she does have a goldfish (not pictured.)

This is the first painting I did for Matt. He came up with the concepts and drew little sketches for me of his ideas. I used his ideas as the basis for all the following (with the exception of Daniel, which was my concept.)

Delirium, 1999. Gouache.
Here's some goldfish... and some flying frogs...
and oh, my head hurts...

With a definite Salvador Dali and Tori Amos influence.
Even though I've also been told she looks a lot like my sister.
Destiny, 2005. Gouache.
Too stoic for cute animal friends.
Destiny was the roughest one to do because he isn't exactly the jolliest guy in comics. And trying to get the eclipse lighting was frustrating no matter how many astronomy photos I looked at as reference.
Dream, 2000. Gouache.
The raven was a must...

A photo of Matt's friend and her new baby was used
as reference for Lyta and baby Daniel.
Matt (who's an architect) wanted the castle in the background to
 look like it was Gaudi-inspired.
Daniel, 2000.  Gouache.
Now this guy's got some cool pets.

Daniel grew up to become the new Dream King, all in white. Again, I couldn't resist the urge to put animals in the picture, so here we have the three Gate Guardians of the Dream Realm.
Zatanna, 2000. Gouache.

Yes, I posed for this one twelve years ago and nearly
threw out my back in the process...

And here's my version of Zatanna the Magician, with brown hair as opposed to the  black hair she's usually shown with. Apart from looking a little like the young Kate Bush (intentional), she's a bit more cheesecake than I usually do. And that certainly isn't a bad thing. 

(Speaking of magicians, I've always had a soft spot for Dr. Strange and wouldn't mind doing a portrait of him one day.
Oh, I'll find some sort of

weird Steve Ditko-esque creature to keep
him company, don't you worry...)

Later on, I became a fan of James Robinson's Starman series and started playing around with decorative borders, which I've recently become quite fond of using.
(Example: my previous blog post...)   
Starman Jack, 2002. Gouache, colored pencils.
I was trying to give this one an Art Deco look in keeping with how the city in the comic looked. A former neighbor of mine posed as Jack by sitting on his kitchen counter and holding a mop on his shoulder.

Hey, you use what you can get.
For instance:

Not a comic character  but...

I did this picture for a former co-worker in exchange for his photographing some of my artwork for me. He picked the subject matter and wanted to pose as Caesar.

I took a reference photo of him sitting on a library cart (which became his horse) and holding an umbrella as his sword.

Back to Starman...While I gave Jack an Art Deco border, I gave his unlikely friend The Shade something older and creepier:

The Shade, 2002. Gouache, colored pencils.
Never leaves home without his
trusty shadow critters.


A former villain with power over shadows, The Shade was one of the highlights of the comic for me.

My painting of him sort of looks like a Victorian Fred Astaire on acid.

Jane of The Wonderverse, 2002. Gouache, colored pencils.
Speaking of the Victorian era, I did a steampunk cowgirl painting for an independent company in New Mexico called Opposite Numbers. It was for a comic called The Wonderverse and like my own Heaven and the Dead City,
one of its featured characters
was a tough cowgirl.
(There can't be  enough tough cowgirl characters in comics, I decided.)

Here I am playing with border designs again as The Wonderverse's character, Jane, visits London during the days of Jack the Ripper (right):
 No animals in the few paintings above, but to make up for that I will share with you one last geeky fangirl tribute:

King Ghidorah versus Mothra! 

...From the Godzilla movies (of which I've been a fan since childhood.)

Hmm, I may do a future post on my own monsters and dragons someday...