Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tales From Netflix: late 2011

Here's a Netflix roundup from late last year, that was never quite finished...
Rather than update it with the stuff inbetween now and then, I'll just run it as is now (before it languishes as a draft even longer!):

Well, a couple months have gone by, so it's time to check the Netflix rental activity for another genre movie recommendation roundup that I like to call... TALES FROM NETFLIX!!!

There's quite a few really good recommendations here. Not sure any of them are classics, but quite a few that are pretty close, and still damn enjoyably different! 

We've got British movies, Japanese movies, Norwegian movies, and local movies!
We've got animated movies, classic movies, anthology movies, and documentary movies!
Spanish clowns, and Finish Santas!
Heck, we've even got Kevin Smith!!!
It's quite an eclectic mix...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Wondercon this weekend (3/16-3/18)!

Moving the show to Anaheim won't stop me from exhibiting, in what is my sixth or seventh year at Wondercon.

I'm already here and ready to roll, setting up shop in artist alley (space 109 and 110) with lots of new stuff to show...

There's the special edition of the first issue of my new book, Night of the 80's Undead

A brand new sketchbook collection (with the best femme fatale fanart from my previous annuals)

And a first time sketch card collection

Next stop, Emerald City Comicon!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

First ever sketch card collection

Yesterday I talked about my killer new sketchbook compilation chock full of femme fatale fanart, and today I want to talk about another new sketchbook compilation, this time collecting some of my sketch card artwork for the first time!

JMart: sketch card art 

The book is 20 pages, full color, comic book size, and showcases a selection of the licensed card work I've done with 5finity, as well as some custom/personal sketch card work. Each page features 3 to 4 cards, so there are tons of my best cards featured within.

Have a look at some of the works included...

I'll have the books starting tomorrow at Wondercon but if you'd like to, you can pick one up here now:

JMart: sketch card art 
$5.00 (plus shipping)

Or you can pick it up (and tons of other stuff of mine) in my STORE

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New sketchbook collection

Because nobody demanded it!

I've created a brand new sketchbook COMPILED FEMMES - a collection of my sketchbook femme fatale fan art. I went through all of my sketchbooks (2007-2011) and pulled out my favorite lady arts (and by that I mean the ones that made me cringe the least), to be in one massive new collection. And I mean massive.

The new collection is standard comic size (that's bigger than my sketchbooks are size wise normally), and clocks in at 52 pages (again, much bigger, 52 pages folks)!!! All full color, with 40 different works included, featuring your favorite female characters from comics, film, television, and comic culture. All that, and the books are only $10 each!!!!

Have a look at some of the works included...

I'll have the books starting this week at Wondercon (which I'll be at, in Anaheim this weekend, more news to come on that), but if you'd like to, you can pick one up here now:  


Regular Cover 


Sketch Cover* 


*Sketch cover variants will have a hand drawn original sketch by me on the cover.

Or you can pick them up (and tons of other stuff of mine) in my STORE

Saturday, March 10, 2012

R.I.P. Moebius

Perhaps the greatest inspiration to me as a comic artist, Moebius (Jean Giraud), has sadly passed from this Earth. I'll always remember the Heavy Metal collection of Incal that blew my mind when I got it at such an impressionable age, as both a comic fan and aspiring artist, in around 1981-1982. Here was a large format graphic novelesque collection of work (Heavy Metal presents: Moebius), lead by the dazzling sci-fi story of John Difool, from the magazine that inspired the equally inspiring film (from the year prior). But more so, it was the craft of this master, unheard of in American comics, and certainly to me, that had so much skill and transcendence. It was at this time that Moebius made me aware of European comics, just as anime like Star Blazers (and a random imported manga or two) were turning me on to comics from Japan. There was a whole world of comics and talent out there to discover, but perhaps none so bright and intriguing, as that of Moebius.

That said, in the early 80's, finding more of The Incal, or Moebius, or manga, was just not possible for me - there was no internet, and there certainly wasn't any stash of this stuff at the local comic shops or shows. So aside from this taste of the man and his work - the book featured samples from several of his works, and galleries of his commercial illustrations - I never had much more to enjoy. I had gone through a faze of picking up the Heavy Metal magazines where I could, but this odd collection of French comics, or other works by Moebius, were not anything that ran inside them at the time. Then, it wasn't too many years after this that I got out of comics, so not having returned until the mid to late 90's, I missed all of the subsequent US adaptations of his work (which is still spotty at best), and the seminal collaboration with Marvel/Stan Lee and Silver Surfer, that to this day is what most US comic fans know the man for.

Certainly his DNA was all over the film, The Fifth Element (which was mostly a Moebius comic brought to life), and as it turns out, he had a hand in quite a number of popular sci-fi (Alien, Dune, and Tron) to some extent. But most people are unaware of this. Because of that, you likely are familiar with him, and don't even know it.
To me though, he was always the pinnacle of what comic artistry was about, pure unadulterated visuals that transport you to a higher state, of vision and skill unrivaled by any other. Having not aquired much of his work though, he simply left a lasting impression, a major component in an overall tapestry of what comics could, or should aspire to. To me that is Moebius, the dream of comics as art and story in perfect harmony.

If you aren't very familiar with the man, I urge you to seek out some of his work. While most of what I've seen can be obviously talented if not immediately engaging, his work does span a huge range of tastes, and, is undeniably skilled. So, perhaps take a moment to have a closer look. You'll be all the richer in soul for it.

Upon news of his passing, some quick Google searching turned up a couple solid finds...

First, for a genral overview, there's THIS

and then second, for an interesting collection of work (and sequentials) there is THIS BLOG

and lastly, there's this TUMBLR that is dedicated solely to his work HERE which has a wealth of his art on display (including The Incal).

Of his work, as I've said, I'm most familiar with The Incal (as it's known in the states - L'Incal if you're French), a collaboration with Jodorowsky, but perhaps his most popular work (outside the Marvel/Surfer) is Arzach, or Airtight Garage, and the Western Blueberry seems to be his most popular work natively (all of which are fine works, from what I've seen). The Incal, to me though, is unsurpassed in mature science fiction illustration. But if you do look into it, please, do not start with the prequel series (Before the Incal), which is not drawn by Moebius, not because of that, but that, you simply must be thrown headfirst into the world of this story at it's original starting point. The original first volume of the story (book one - The Dark Incal), to this day the only I've read, is a master class in story and art, so also be sure not to pick up the remastered version by Humanoids (from the early 2000's), as the coloring was changed (and the content censored I've heard), but one of the collections of the original material. There was a recent oversized complete collection, which I believe includes the unaltered content, that I've had my eye on (but it's a bit pricey). While this story may not be for all, the work itself is without a doubt worth seeing.

His work will be missed, but I look forward to continuing my journey of discovery and wonder with it.

Friday, March 09, 2012

NIGHT OF THE 80'S UNDEAD: Cover time 3 - limited edition #1 pre-order info!!

Just like the book - my brand new zombie comic, NIGHT OF THE 80'S UNDEAD - this blog update showing the creation of the cover art for the first issue, is told in 3 parts... so today, we get a look at the final installment, the finished art!

Take a peek below to see the cover from initial sketch, to finished pencil line art.

But now, here are the pencils by artist Bill McKay, all colored up by yours truly.
If I had my druthers, I'd have done this in painted style, similar to the Rambo: First Blood poster it's styled after, but alas I don't have the tools or practice at that, so I opted for a bit of a mixed approach. Generally I work in a cell shaded style, to varying degrees, and I incorporated that approach (hard shading against flat color) here initially on the main character, but then mixed in some airbrushing and other stylistic touches for affect. I also used some washes of color, another animation style approach, to give the whole thing varying degrees of unified color or tone (in this case red, to play off the background and ominous horror vibe). The background zombies were done more in painterly style, to an extent though, and then there's lots of computerized gradients etc at work also.

The colors here are at contrast to the approach I'm taking on the interiors, which is basically a modified grayscale with graphic accent colors of a limited 80's inspired palette. And while I also wanted to convey the horror aspect of the book, I kept things fairly bright and utilized those 80's colors throughout on the cover, to communicate that theme as well.

This was allot of fun, but also A LOT of work. Images like this, with multiple characters, and full backgrounds, when not done in a uniform color, are very time consuming. And then also, I generally spend much more time on covers, all around, then just about anything else.

Now, here we have a look at the final art, with the cover graphics added in.
Again, this is the final cover for the first issue, but also, it's being used for a modified version to sell at shows starting next week (while production on the first issue is finalized), a "pencil edition", that includes the entire first issue, but without any colors or inks to modify the artist's original pencil line art (so, it does have full, not finalized, lettering - and will read the same as the final version). I still hope to create some more hand crafted logos for the book, so the title graphics and similarly themed additional graphics may change completely for the official book.
 As far as this limited edition pencil version, you can pick it up as I said, starting next week at Wondercon Anaheim, where I'll be exhibiting in artist alley as usual. And then at subsequent shows, starting with Emerald City Comicon in Seattle at the end of the month. The book will be limited though, so once we have the print run set (at this point roughly 50 copies - so very limited), each will be hand numbered. Additionally, we'll be offering some further limited variations of the pencil edition, with both a pencil art cover variant, and a blank con sketch cover variant (each of which will be about 20% of the overall run - so even more scarcely limited). We may do another run of this addition, if we sell through copies before we have a final version of the book, but if we do, they will vary in some way, with an entirely new hand numbered run. So, this "pencil edition" will be truly unique and limited.

If you can't make it to the shows, we are now offering pre-orders for the book, in all 3 versions, so get your PayPal ready and pick your poison. Pre-sales will be closed next Friday, with the overall print number locked in. At that point, we will offer the book again online after Wondercon, if any copies remain.


For general information on the book itself, it's black and white since it includes only the pencil art, and is 24 interior pages, with 22 of those being the first issue story. Written and lettered by me, with art and cover by Bill McKay.

So, grab a copy and check out the Regan era madness inside... or hold out a bit longer for the standard full color version...

Please stay tuned for more info on the book, and the official release coming soon!

Thursday, March 08, 2012

NIGHT OF THE 80'S UNDEAD: Cover time 2!

Monday I posted the first stage in the creation of cover art (see previous post) for my new book (with artist Bill McKay), NIGHT OF THE 80'S UNDEAD... and then yesterday I got busy and didn't update with the next stage, so here I am today to rectify that. You've got to see where we went from the rough pencils right??

So here you have it, the next step in the creation, Bill's full pencils for the cover!
In talking with him about the idea (a Rambo/First Blood poster homage), I brainstormed on how the background could use the original elements to translate to something related to our book and specifically, would include zombies (without just adding lame grabbing hands and arms in the foreground)... and then I thought that swapping out the fir trees in the original, for a lineup or horde of zombies behind our protaganist could work well. Then Bill went one better and shot me the rough which included our ground zero Hollywood mansion (and landscaping) between the zombies and the billowing smoke. Nice call Bill!

So there you have it, our would be hero, Sarah, in her tattered 80's style (geometric neon jewelry and accessories, Swatch watch, black leggings, etc), toting the massive M-60 heavy machine gun, with 80's styled coke zombies thirsting for more precious blow all around her.

Tomorrow, I'll post my colors for the art! (and details about our limited "pencil edition" of the first issue!!)

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

NIGHT OF THE 80'S UNDEAD: Cover time!

Did you know of my many comic book projects in development, I've been working on a new limited series to graphic novel format concept called NIGHT OF THE 80'S UNDEAD? My little story about how at the climax of the cold war, in the mid 1980's, Russia devised a last ditch subversive effort to strike at our capitalist way of life by contaminating the supply of high end Colombian cocaine with a deadly zombie-like virus?? And the story is centered around a group of young teens at a big Hollywood party that happens to be ground zero?!? If you've been following this blog, or any of my other activities, or seen me at shows over the last year, I'm sure you do do do, you da da da, as I've been teasing looks at the production since last year's San Diego Comic-Con (where we had a five page preview/teaser as part of a special flip book - pictured on the side here).

Then last October we had a special full preview of the first issue at ZomBcon (naturally), showcasing the first 14 pages of the book, along with a section showing my scripts and the artists thumbnails for the final 7 pages (along with some other extras). Which we still have a few copies remaining of the limited pressing.

If all of this is news to you, I suggest you click the first link above, or the Night of the 80's Undead tag below to catch up on everything I've posted, but aside from the concept I've outlined here, the other key component to the project is the artist I've teamed up with to bring it to life, Bill McKay. I'm not drawing this book myself, but I have found someone very talented, and well suited to the story to help me with the art chores on the book. And I think you'll agree, he's doing a (to keep things appropriately 80's here) like totally radical job man!!!!

On that note, with con season fast approaching, I wanted to do something special to continue to promote the book, so I'm just finishing the setup of a new limited edition version of the first issue, a special "pencil edition" of the first full book. As I said, Not80'sU is to be a story told in 3 parts, or a limited series if you will, in standard comic book form, and while that first issue is complete on Bill's part, there remains a bit more that I need to do with the coloring and lettering (as I'm managing every other aspect of the book but the pencils), and more again before we'll be ready to officially start releasing it (in this day and age, I'm not sure whether the 3 issues will be offered for full distribution, or just sold on a more direct basis, with full release of the collected book, I'm leaning towards full distribution for both though, we'll see). Which all leads me back to our special pencil edition that's being created to offer at shows, starting next week with Wondercon Anaheim.

The pencil edition, unlike the previous previews, is actually the first full/complete first issue of the book, with the only difference being in comparison to the finished version, is that it is 100% comprised of the amazing original pencil art created by Bill! Since I'm doing colors straight from his pencils, as I often like to skip inks, because I much prefer pencil art, but also because Bill just really does nice detailed pencils (and when you see the book, I think you'll agree).

So, with the show right around the corner, I thought I should drop by here and start showing off some of the book, starting with... the cover!
Over the next couple days, I'll be posting each step in the process of the cover creation, kicking off today, with Bill's roughs from my idea for a new cover (we'd previously toyed with a couple images I'd created focusing on more thematic elements of the concept, the two covers at the start of the post). This new idea, as you can see above, is more story centric, depicting our main character, Sarah, in a detailed action pose. If it looks a bit familiar, it should, as it's an homage to the original Rambo poster (it also somewhat resembles another 80's classic, the image of Ripley from the movie Aliens, bonus!)!

So there you have it, a kick ass girl, 80's style, coke zombies, carnage, and a giant M-60 machine gun. Just a taste of what lurks beneath the cover, all in one 80's action send up! ...well, at least that's what you'll see once we get further along in the cover process...

Tune in tomorrow for a look at Bill's finished pencils for the cover!

And stay tuned for details on the book, and how you can pick it up!!

Friday, March 02, 2012

Meanwhile at the movies... Barsoom Withdrawl - JOHN CARTER REVIEW

My dearest readers,

 I've just recently returned from Barsoom, and the following are my accounts of the journey...
I Was lucky my wife scored preview screening passes to JOHN CARTER (in 3D) last night, as I'd been anxious to see the film after first hearing about it. An Edgar Rice Burroughs sci-fi book series, that inspired nearly every major sci-fi property I've loved, helmed by a Pixar director?!? One can only hope something of that pedigree lives up to a fraction of the promise. And since it's a Disney movie, they've been advertising the hell out of it for some time, but perplexingly, the ad campaign did little to excite anyone about the film. So are they playing things close, and hoping to blow people's minds when they get a look at what they've put together, or was it a creative misfire, that feels as empty as the PR (made even more lackluster by the endless derivative contemporary creations; Star Wars, Avatar, etc, that have stolen all the ideas Burroughs offered up in 1912)??
Growing up a Star Wars and comic book fanatic, and comic and genre nut to this day, you can see how I might be frenzied to find out sooner than later, just what awaits on the mysterious 3D live action CG enhanced Andrew Stanton Barsoom (Mars). So, tonight was the night I'd find out, more than a week before the release, and I couldn't have been happier!

So, what's the real story?
Does it disappoint, or deliver?
 The short answer?
John Carter delivers in spades.
It is a truly great sci-fi motion picture, full of heart, life, and creativity. A sci-fi geeks dream, and one of the finer genre films I've had the pleasure of seeing.
The level of craft here, from the production first and foremost, is impressive and appropriately epic and nuanced, to the story and scripting, which is smartly honed and resonant, this adaptation is built with the care and passion we've come to expect from Pixar, who deliver technically astounding and emotionally rewarding films. And though Stanton was working outside Pixar here, and in live action, thankfully he was able to successfully bring that aesthetic with him. And just like Pixar films, the story plays wide, without sacrificing the maturity and heft required to engage a mature audience, or the fun, spirit, and magic to enchant younger viewers (and us big kids). Unlike Pixar though, it is not a movie for children, but firmly in the Star War motion picture blockbuster wheelhouse, of a pre-teen core demographic. A pulpy adventure tale with fantastic feats of brawn and bravado, plucky princesses, hostile aliens, and fabulous creatures and tech. The type of movie making that millions fell in love with decades ago in a galaxy far far away, but seems increasingly hard to find, on this scale, in this day and age.
Perhaps my references to Star Wars and Pixar are a bit heavy, especially since this film offers more then either of those quantities. Unlike Pixar, it's of course live action, and dares to dream a more straight forward and tonally advanced action story. There is death, and blood, and consequences to the action, and some mildly unsettling depictions of a brutal alien society. And while it may traffic in some of the best things the Star Wars franchise had to offer, namely endearing and fascinating alien characters and settings (Woola, will certainly steal many hearts, and capture zillions of youngsters impressionable minds), the story also skews a bit more towards fantasy, and with it's late 19th century settings, it has western elements too. So yes, it offers the best of those two amazing and beloved creations, but also more. No small feat.
That's not to say it's a perfect work, or that there aren't some things that are lacking. Some of the casting or directing in the live action department could've used some more spirit or punch, as most performances skew to being fairly reserved, at contrast to the plots strong emotional themes. The humanoid characters don't quite go all out and effortlessly live and breath their roles, perhaps with the exception of Bryan Cranston (Tyler Kitsch, our leading man, is very good though). And I especially found Mark Strong's villain, and his fellow Therns, to be the weak point of the whole production. From the design and costuming of the mysterious god like characters, to the depiction of some of their key tech, just seemed very weak and garishly staged (whenever they're on screen, I feel as though I'm looking at a goofy movie character). All this making for a bit of a disconnect from the otherwise pretty pitch perfect story and production. And then also, while fairly good at a couple key scenes, the score was invisible and sorely lacking otherwise. I know I harp on this aspect time and again, and admittedly it's a pet peeve of mine, but music and sound is as important to a film as any other element, and both are at best serviceable here. Also, most of the action scenes could have played out a bit more, or had a bit more heft to them. While there are quite a few, like with the acting, things could've stood to be amped up a bit more here.
Also, as with most modern big budget films, especially ones with such huge effect driven scope, I should touch on the special effects, and the 3D. Both are excellent. The 3D isn't of the level I remember Avatar (still the high water mark here), but it's perhaps the next best I've seen, and the effects are seamless, with Stanton relying heavily on live settings and practical filming whenever possible to good effect. The result being, though it's not over the top otherworldly, it is one that you completely buy into. I should also mention, as I said up top with the lackluster ad campaign, I also wasn't too drawn to the designs I'd seen of the tech and world depicted, however, after getting a closer look, I came to quite like most of what they did here.
In my short summation of the film up front, I gave it pretty high praise. It is a finely tuned script and production of cosmic proportions. I'm not sure where John Carter stands among my all time favorites, but it certainly ranks up there, and to compare it to something somewhat recent, that went on to do huge box office, would be the JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot. While I loved that movie, I certainly had my problems with it also, but I'd say much more so then this. Or in contrast to another recent global box office destroying sci-fi film, Avatar, which was long on world immersive craft, but very short on story, John Carter leaps bounds over it creatively. There's more I could praise about John Carter, and likely a bit more I could criticize, but ultimately, I loved the movie. It tells an epic, original (if familiar, or rather in spite of it's many familiar elements) story, with amazing visuals, and fun characters. As I said in the title to the review, I really do miss my short time on the red planet of Barsoom, with all it's fantastic creatures and sights, and just like John Carter, I want to go back again, and as soon as possible (here's hoping we get the sequels). That's the magic of movies and the amazing worlds they can take us to, and John Carter offers plenty of both.


HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - John Carter is not to be missed on the big screen.
Faithfully yours,

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Meanwhile at the movies... best line ever!

Going to a a preview screening of JOHN CARTER tonight!!
(So check back for a review tomorrow!)

However, yesterday brought the amazing and cheestastic trailer for the PIRANAH sequel, PIRANAH 3DD, and the best moment had to be when Ving Rhames comes on screen, and before kicking carnivorous fish ass, shouts...
The fact that the sequel is directed by John Gulager, maestro behind the sublimely tasteless FEAST (one of my all time faves), AND that the cast includes Gary Busey, Christopher Lloyd, and The Hoff?!?!
My mind is blown!