4 of 4 character portraits from my upcoming comic ‘Blood Blokes’.
4 of 4 character portraits from my upcoming comic ‘Blood Blokes’.
3 of 4 character portraits from my upcoming comic ‘Blood Blokes’.
My friend John Stansfield asked me to do some concept art for his sitcom ‘The Golden Hawk’ in order to pitch it to some major TV channels, and because he’s a friend and the scripts are actually hilarious and sharply observed, I did. Here are a two examples that I was particularly pleased with.
2 of 4 character portraits from my upcoming comic ‘Blood Blokes’.
Number 3 next Monday!
1 of 4 character portraits from my upcoming comic ‘Blood Blokes’.
My entry to the wonderful Covered blog (curated by the equally wonderful Robert Goodin) has gone up on the site today. I drew this back in late June which is an indication of the number of submissions Robert is getting. If you haven’t encountered Covered before treat yourself to a look through the archives as there are a LOT of great covers from some really good artists, far too many to mention here.
I had a lot of fun drawing this, I purposely chose something very different to the work I usually do and I’ve always liked this bizarre, 1957 Jack Kirby cover. I very rarely get chance to draw giant monster arms in my autobio comics.
Click the image to see the Covered post with my cover alongside the original.
On Monday I found out via Twitter that Harvey Pekar had died, age 70. I was stopped in my tracks. I was working on a kid’s comic and listening to the B52s but my mood could not have been more somber.
I’ve said before that Pekar’s ‘American Splendor’ was my first inspiration to make a serious attempt at autobio comics. I’d dabbled before but it was Splendor that showed me that autobio doesn’t have to be all about yourself, the things that happen to you and around you, the small, neglected, wonderful parts of life are as worth recording as anything else.
I’d never met Harvey but yet I feel a great loss, as I’m sure anyone else affected and inspired by his work does this week. I can barely imagine what a shock it must be for those who knew him and worked with him. I had planned to send Harvey my comics when I had wrapped up The Everyday (in a mere 4 strips time) to see what he thought of them, and make a first step towards one of my biggest comic ambitions; drawing a story for Harvey Pekar. I won’t get to do that now, which is sad, but I’m sadder to realise that I’ll never get to meet him and say “Thank you”.
For some semblance of closure I watched the film of ‘American Splendor’ and I noticed the glasses of orange that appear throughout. “Do you like orange soda?” Shari Springer Berman, the film’s co-director asks him, “Yeah, orange is alright.” Pekar replies merrily. Later on, Pekar played by Paul Giamatti, walks down the corridor of an LA hotel with a champagne bucket in is arms. Cut to the next shot in his hotel room and the camera pans across from the bucket holding a big bottle of orange soda. This little detail made me smile and so I including it in the above drawing, my tribute to Harvey.
I also started a group on Flickr for other people to add their drawings of Harvey, called, Draw Harvey! I invite anyone to add a drawing.
There’s a similar gallery of images of Harvey over at the Pekar Project called Harvey Heads, organised by Pekar’s editor Jeff Newlett (whose dedication to the artform of comics is unparalleled) for Harvey’s 70th birthday in October last year. The idea was to get 70 heads but so many artists contributed it’s around 100 now and Jeff is still taking submissions.
Harvey Pekar is the only man with a comb over that I have ever idolised. He will be greatly missed.
I’ve had some promotional postcards printed of my Childhood Villains illustrations and they’ve arrived just in time for this weekend’s comic show, the UK Thing 2010, in Mile End, London. It’s a great show bursting with talented artists and self publishing trailblazers so if you’re in London this Saturday come along. I’ll have all my Everyday comics for sale, including the limited Glastonbury postcard books. There’s more details on the show’s “retro” website.
“Beware the Wheelers?”
It took me a while to determine which character would be the final Childhood Villain in this series. I needed six and thought Moominpapa would make a good final choice but I didn’t have six so I had to draw Moominpapa as number 4 and think more about the last two. Judge Doom came to me after half remembering some other claymation horrors but number 6 was eluding me. I persisted because I wanted a set of six but mostly because I knew deep down in my blurry subconscious there was one more character left.
That horrific creation, the last terror of my childhood, was not one character but a screeching, scraping gaggle of henchmen called The Wheelers, from the bleak, nightmarish children’s film Return to Oz (1985).
Of the six villains I’ve drawn, I’m most confident that The Wheelers will cause a shiver to anyone who saw this strange film as a child. I watched it again recently for reference and I enjoyed its dark themes and the expansion of the world of Oz beyond the first film. There was, I learnt, 14 Oz books by L. Frank Baum (and 26 more by other authors) and Return to Oz is an amalgamation of 2 of them. I liked it as a child too, drawn to its spookier elements (swappable heads, talking pumpkins) but I do recall an undercurrent of dread. Re-watching it I observed the danger never lets up. The opening scenes where Dorothy is taken for electro-shock therapy become increasingly grim and gothic causing her to escape to her fantasy land, Oz. Once there, Dorothy and her new companions are always either on the run, imprisoned or gambling for their lives. This is exemplified most by Tik-Tok, a clockwork robot of the Army of Oz, whose three functions (thinking, speaking and moving) are constantly winding down.
Among all this trepidation, the most memorable monsters are, of course, The Wheelers. We see their silhouettes spying on Dorothy from afar as she enters the ruined Emerald City. She discovers graffiti that reads “Beware the Wheelers” and finds everyone turned to stone. Right then The Wheelers make their screeching entrance:
They appear later in the film but are less frightening once we know more about them. It is this scene in particular when they appear as unknown antagonists that terrified the young Cadwell. I think they’re ingeniously and freakishly designed, a mix of dirty, Vaudevillian waiters and a neon-clad, punk, street gang. The sound of their screeching wheels that precedes their arrival, foreshadowed in the Asylum in Kansas and echoing around the ruins of the Emerald City, is the kind of sound that sets anyone on edge and The Wheelers are a great and horrifying embodiment of that noise.
The Lead Wheeler (played by Pons Maar) was the only one who spoke rather than cackled. I based most of the design on him and one of the other 11 Wheelers who had bright pink lapels. Their physicality is limiting in regards to poses, but their costumes, a mix of many influences, could be pushed in lots of interesting directions. I wanted to hint that they may be corrupted members of some old Circus of Oz. I emphasised the coils around Lead Wheelers shoulders that wormed down his arms and I simplified the sleeves so the dirt and smudges gained from riding along the ground (and putting on makeup somehow) wouldn’t be lost. I tried to hint at faded paint on the wheels and redesigned the gargoyle face on the helmet.
Here are some sketches I made while watching the film:
Next week: Nothing!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Childhood Villains series and at least one of them has freaked you out. I’ll be doing some promotional postcards of all 6 of them, news about that soon. Sweet dreams.
“Holy smokes, he’s a Toon”
Fifth in my Childhood Villains series is the sinister, screeching Judge Doom from ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’ (1988) as portrayed by the fantastic Christopher Lloyd.
I grew up on steady diet of old Warner and Fleischer Brothers cartoons so I loved seeing all the old cartoon characters in the same film when I was a kid. I still think it’s a funny and wonderfully made film. 20 years later it still makes you wonder “How did they do that?” which is lacking in anything computer generated nowadays.
With the exception of Moominpapa, all the villains in this series are supposed to be scary and I think they only do their job right if they do freak us out a little. Judge Doom is a stern figure throughout most of the film, but it’s only after he’s flattened by a stray steamroller that he’s revealed as a Toon in human disguise. There’s a section of stop motion animation of the flat Judge Doom getting to his feet and wobbling over to an air pump to blow himself back up again. The slightly jerky animation adds to the freakishness of this scene and when followed by the high pitched, red eyed reveal of the real Judge Doom, it creates a wonderfully frightening villain.
I wish Christoper Lloyd was in more films these days.
Next week: The Wheelers!