Archive for April 2011

Comic Art Friday: Wonders from WonderCon, part 3

April 29, 2011

In our two previous Comic Art Friday posts, we looked at two of the new artworks I commissioned at this year’s WonderCon. Today, we’ll look at the last of my big scores.

Supergirl, pencils and inks by comics artist Brian Stelfreeze

A commission from Brian Stelfreeze topped my wish list for WonderCon weekend. Brian is, in my rarely humble opinion, one of the most unique stylists in comics today — no one else’s work looks quite like his, and vice versa. To the best of my knowledge, this year marked Brian’s first appearance at WonderCon in the years that I’ve been attending, so I was determined to seize the opportunity to commission a drawing from him. I own two of his pieces that I’ve purchased from other collectors — a Wonder Woman and an Elektra — but it’s always extra-special to get something that the artist created for me personally.

I offered Brian the opportunity of drawing either Storm or Supergirl. “You can’t go wrong with either one,” he observed, as he looked at the reference pictures I handed him. When Brian saw that I requested Supergirl in her costume from the mid-1970s, he immediately gravitated toward that choice. His finished artwork used Cheryl Ladd — the “other” blonde from the classic ’70s detective series Charlie’s Angels — as inspiration.

Brian Stelfreeze, WonderCon 2011

Brian’s Supergirl reflects the artist’s affection for both the character and the era from which her costume derives. In the vernacular of the times, I’d call this creation “solid.” It appears that Mr. Stelfreeze would concur.

One of Brian’s fans shot video of him while he was drawing his Supergirl. Check it out:

I commissioned one other new piece at this con — a nifty portrait of Will Eisner’s The Spirit, drawn by Tom Hodges. I don’t usually collect color art, but I make the occasional exception, I made one here to allow Tom to do the drawing his way — in particular, to take advantage of this bright blue drawing paper that makes a perfect backdrop for the blue-suited Spirit. I like the fresh energy Tom brought to this legendary hero.

The Spirit, mixed media art by comics artist Tom Hodges

And that, friend reader, wraps this review of WonderCon 2011. That’s also your Comic Art Friday.

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Comic Art Friday: Wonders from WonderCon, part 2

April 22, 2011

Last week on Comic Art Friday, we took a peek at the first new artwork I picked up at WonderCon 2011, a Common Elements commission that comics legend Ernie Chan drew in advance of the convention.

But I wasn’t done with either my Common Elements theme, or with the Amazing Chan, quite yet.

The Rocketeer and the Hulk, pencils by Ron Lim, inks by Ernie Chan

The design for the action-packed scenario above sprouted from the pencil of artist Ron Lim — or, as I like to call him, “the late Ron Lim,” because I’ve never yet been to a convention where I didn’t spent at least a couple of hours on the first day circling Ron’s table in Artists’ Alley, waiting for his arrival. Eventually, Ron always shows up, and when he does, he always delivers. Ron’s such an engaging personality — in addition to his awesome artistic talents — that I never miss a chance to renew our acquaintance, and to have him add another drawing to my collection.

Ron Lim, WonderCon 2011

Once Ron completed the pencil art, I carried the piece to the drawing board of the masterful Mr. Chan, who finished it in ink.

Ernie Chan, WonderCon 2011

Oh… the Common Element between the incredible Hulk and Dave Stevens’s high-flying Rocketeer? Both had girlfriends named Betty. In the case of the Hulk, it was Betty Ross, daughter of the Green Goliath’s nemesis, U.S. Army General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross. The Betty of the Rocketeer’s dreams never had a surname that Stevens ever revealed, but her image was based on 1950s pinup queen (and one of the earliest Playboy Playmates) Bettie Page.

Although it seems as though I spend all of my convention time hanging out in (some might use the term “haunting”) Artists’ Alley, I do manage to check out a few of the panels as well. A highlight of this year’s experience was meeting one of my favorite artists, Bob Layton, the long-time Iron Man stalwart. Bob created a pair of pieces for my Common Elements theme a few years back — one featuring Captain America and Booster Gold, and another showcasing the same two heroes in their temporary guises of Nomad (an identity Cap briefly assumed in the 1970s, in the aftermath of Watergate) and Supernova (the mysterious hero of DC’s Countdown maxiseries, who eventually is revealed to be Booster Gold). When I introduced myself to Bob, he immediately remembered the two commissions — “I never forget my commission clients,” he affirmed — and told me all about his current screenwriting projects in Hollywood.

Bob Layton, WonderCon 2011

Bob’s panel consisted of a lively, entertaining solo interview, in which he dissected his lengthy career in comics as an artist, writer, editor, and publisher. He’s unquestionably one of the brightest, most down-to-earth — not to mention funniest — people I’ve met within the comics industry.

Next Friday, we’ll display more new art and talk more story from WonderCon 2011. See you in seven.

And that’s your Comic Art Friday.

Comic Art Friday: Wonders from WonderCon, part 1

April 15, 2011

So, we had this WonderCon thing a couple of weekends back.

I’ve been a WonderCon regular for the past several years, mostly for opportunities to hobnob with comic artists and commission on-the-spot pieces for my collection, but also to just wander about and take in the spectacle. This turned out to be a pretty good con for me, art-wise. I didn’t accomplish every objective on my wish list, but I came home with several nice creations, as you’ll see over the next few installments of Comic Art Friday.

Iron Man and Conan the Barbarian, pencils and inks by comics artist Ernie Chan

Today’s featured piece actually had its genesis before the con even began. Ernie Chan almost always finds his way onto my WonderCon to-do list, but this year I had an idea for a Common Elements commission that I wanted Ernie to draw. I knew that if I contacted the Amazing Chan ahead of time, he’d produce something more intricate and detailed than the convention environment would permit. So, I e-mailed Ernie, and he agreed to draw this nifty scenario in his studio and bring it with him to the con.

This particular concept was right up Ernie’s alley, because he worked for many years on Marvel’s various Conan the Barbarian comics back in the day, mostly inking the pencils of the legendary John Buscema, but also drawing the occasional issue as well. In fact, I’d hazard a guess that no comic book artist alive has put his hand to as many published Conan images as has Ernie Chan. Asking him to bring to life this battle between the sword-slinging Cimmerian and the invincible Iron Man just made logical sense.

So what’s the “Common Element” between Conan and old Shellhead?, you’re asking yourself. Allow me to enlighten you, friend reader. First appearing in the pulp magazine Weird Tales during the 1930s, Conan’s fantastic adventures sprang from the fertile imagination of writer Robert E. Howard. In Marvel Comics continuity, Tony (Iron Man) Stark is the son of industrialist and inventor Howard Stark (who appears as a prominent character in the forthcoming motion picture, Captain America: The First Avenger). Thus, both Conan and Iron Man are — each in his own way — “sons of Howard.”

Which is why I’ve titled Ernie Chan’s artwork “Howard’s End.”

Ernie Chan, WonderCon 2011

Here’s the proud artist with his latest masterpiece.

I’ll have another WonderCon acquisition or two to display next Friday, as well as highlights from my convention experience. Drop around in seven.

And that’s your Comic Art Friday.