Comic Art Friday: All my Hexes live in Texas
It occurred to me this morning that I didn’t post a single Comic Art Friday in 2015. For a guy who rarely missed a weekly art post for several years, that’s more than a smidgen embarrassing. I will endeavor to do better in 2016. In fact, with today’s post, I already have.
There’s a long and not always cheerful story behind today’s featured artwork, the 127th entry in my Common Elements commission series.
(For the benefit of those joining us for the first time — or old-timers who’ve simply forgotten, because of my slacker posting habits of the past year — Common Elements is a series of commissioned artworks depicting comics characters who are in most cases unrelated, but who share some unifying feature. The “common element” may be obvious — similar names or superpowers, for example. Sometimes, the connection is so obscure that it requires detailed explanation. Ultimately, the point of Common Elements is to showcase characters that might never be seen together anywhere else, for the pure joy of novelty.)
I originally planned this matchup of Western antihero Jonah Hex and longtime Avenger Scarlet Witch (whose probability-altering powers have historically been referred to as “hexes”) to be drawn by legendary comics artist Tony DeZuniga, who co-created Jonah Hex with writer John Albano. Tony was a frequent guest at Bay Area comics conventions, where I got to know him and his wife Tina over the years. The last time I saw Tony in person, I’d mentioned the idea to him, and he and I agreed that I would commission him to draw it the next time our paths crossed at a con.
As sad misfortune would have it, that next meeting never occurred. Tony passed away in May 2012 due to complications from a stroke he suffered about a month earlier.
When I heard the news of Tony’s passing, I resolved to give the assignment to Tony’s good friend and fellow artist Ernie Chan, also a regular at our local cons, and a brilliant artist who’d drawn several pieces for me previously. But less than a week after Tony’s death, Ernie also passed. The world had lost two talented creators, and I’d lost a pair of friendly acquaintances.
As for this Common Elements concept, I shelved it, hoping that eventually an artist would come along who would do something truly special with the idea.
Fast forward three and a half years. Pete Woods, an artist whose work I’ve admired since the DC Comics miniseries Amazons Attack in 2007, opened his commission list briefly in late 2015. I immediately thought of the Hex/Wanda pairing, and knew that Pete’s unique style would be perfect for it. Pete must have agreed, because he accepted the project, then proceeded to nail every aspect like a carpenter on amphetamines. All of the creative notions packed into this drawing — from Hex on horseback, to the Witch’s period-styled costume, to the inquisitive reptile observing the scene — came entirely from Pete’s imagination and pen.
The one item that didn’t come from either Pete or myself is the title: “All My Hexes Live in Texas.” Credit for that clever pun goes to my fellow comic art collector Joshua “Doc” McCoy. Well played, sir.
I still wonder what Tony DeZuniga or Ernie Chan would have drawn, given the same two-character assignment. But I’m convinced that both artists — who were always eager to see the fruit of others’ talents (whenever he saw me with my art portfolio wandering Artists’ Alley, Tony’s second question after “How you been?” was always “What did you get?”) — would have admired the amazingly conceived and rendered scene that Pete Woods crafted.
And that’s your Comic Art Friday.