Monday, March 31, 2008

I,MONSTER: LSOH Amicus Tribute

Below is an illustration i just finished for old buddy, Dick Klemensen's magazine LITTLE SHOPPE OF HORRORS.

The mag is lovingly devoted to the great British film company (the "Shoppe of Horrors" of the title) Hammer Films- They are best known for their horror films such as HORROR OF DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED and CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF. They have also been responsible for introducing wonderful actors like Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Oliver Reed.

The amusing irony of this is that the piece I'm showcasing today isn't from a Hammer Film, tho it DOES star Lee and Cushing.

No, it's from an Amicus Film (a "rival" of Hammer's back in the 60s/70s) called I,MONSTER.

Dick wanted to change the focus of his mag for one issue to another famous studio's work-a change of pace after 36 years of publishing-it promises to be a great ish!

The story of I,MONSTER is actually an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's famous novella THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE.

The main character in this not so successful version of the tale is named Dr. Marlowe and his alter ego, Mr. Blake-this odd altering of the character's names makes no sense as the story is a rather faithful adaption of the book.

I've been doing illos for Dick's book for quite a while now and i always look forward to the subject of the next issue-Along with Brit artist Adrian Salmon and Bruce Timm (the animated BATMAN/SUPERMAN among many other credits) and a handful of other artists and writers, I'm doing my small bit by drawing one of my favorite actors, Christopher Lee.

I thought I'd share with you fine folk the various steps I took to get to that final image.

These were the 1st sketches I did after deciding which film I wanted to do-quick ideas without any thought to details,likenesses,etc-just those 1st images that pop into your head-most times these ideas are the best.

then I scanned the sketches into the computer-i use Adobe Photoshop for tweaking any scanned art-nothing fancy,just changing the size or positioning-maybe switching an image left to right-moving bits of the art around to get a different feel or composition.

In this case i dropped the idea of the full figure to get closer on his face and placed Dr. Marlowe/Jekyll over Blake's/Hyde's right shoulder-having both versions of his character helps the duality of the theme.

Then i print out a copy of the scanned sketch,place it on the lightboard and "clean it up".

Then again on the LB to put it on the paper (a rough Bristol) while firming up the details better.

After that i go to the inks and wash (sorry i didn't stop to scan the inkline before finishing-i sometimes get caught up in the work and don't stop till done) black for Blake and a grey line for Marlowe-giving it the illusion of "distance" from the foreground.

When done i scan it again and play around with it in Photoshop-I layer a title over the finished piece and then i actually added a slight "diffusion" filter to the foreground figure-i thought it added a cool "atmosphere" to it-it even kinda looks a little bit like an old book cover illo to me-that brings us back to the 1st piece at the top of this post...

... and hopefully a satisfied Mr. Klemensen...;o)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Falconer: the EAGLE years

While I was working on EAGLE,back in the distant 80s,i realized i could finally use my old character of Falconer if I figured out how to fit him into the continuity.

As Jack Herman and i were going to establish that in our "history" the Earth was invaded by a planet of conquerers called the Talik back in the late 1800s-our homage to WAR OF THE WORLDS,I guess-it was a natural to show that Falconer was part of the revolution against the invaders-in fact a leader of freedom fighters-because i established in my Falconer back story that he was around then battling vampires and monsters.

He first appeared in a flashback to that time being told by Talik police detective Devlin in ish # 8:

Then, in ish # 12 we told the story of Eagle's origin-as this story contained how Richard Adler/Eagle received the accursed "ORB" we again found a way to incorporate Falconer into it.

After the invasion was contained the ORB,within a robot body, became Falconer's companion-the close proximity of the powerful energy prolonged his life- He meets Eagle in 1957 when he was 111 years old!

Eagle,at the time a paid assassin for the dread Red Dragon organization,had come to kill Falconer,but the old man kicked his butt- the orb-apparently-wipes the hate and darkness from him and he becomes a student-and virtually a son-of Falconer's.

They have several years of friendship during which Eagle grows as a fighter and as a man- until the day Falconer's body just gives out.

These events lead up to Eagle becoming one with the orb and the rest is history.

So i managed to take two of my favorite creations and merge them into one continuity-a Vokes universe as it were...;o)

Unpublished Projects: Josef Talon Falconer: the (almost) series

(the text for this piece is a "work in progress", dear readers- soon as i finish it I'll update - for now enjoy the art of an artist who ALSO was a work in progress...;o)

This project underwent many variations since i first came up with it a few years before i became a pro artist-so that would be late '70s, early '80s.

These last three pieces were updates- the cover that Matt and I did was sitting around-still is- and i scanned it then did a wash over it.

the Drac and Falconer sketches were for a story i was gonna do back in '01-never got past the sketches-lol...;o)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Iwas asked to do a in up for friend's Chris Mills and Joe Staton's online strip FEMME NOIR.

They're putting out a book with several stories and a few pin ups soon-now here's the amusing thing-to me- my first attempt was nicely done but very lazy on my part- i went ahead and did "my" version of the lead female character instead of appreciating the author's concept more thoroughly- thus, my "out of period" take on the gal.

OK-my bad-so i redrew the piece more to the atmosphere of old forties detective films,including several villain types in the design.

But something about the composition bothered me. more time.

This is the one i sent to Chris.

Happily he approved and i moved on with my life...:)

And here's another cover "reimagining" i did for a fan who once asked me to do my version of Spider-Man # 152 with Spidey battling the Shocker.

Here, ol web-head is in the midst of a hot battle with the Molten Man (note Spidey's right arm position-if I'm not mistaken-and it has been many years since i read this-he was fighting with a broken arm that ish so he kept his hand tucked into his "belt.")

More to come...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sketch Cards for Cancer Auction on Ebay!

Check out the great cards being offered for this very good cause:


and if you happen to stumble upon mine,all the better for the charity...;o)

Marc of the Vampires 2

Well,here ya go,dear readers- the 2nd Marc story-I'm holding back the scripted version in fairness to the anthology it will be in-when that fine tome is released,I'll let y'all know-enjoy:

Monday, March 3, 2008

Marc of the Vampires

A long time ago,in a galaxy far...uhm...wrong backstory...

One day,many years ago,i was sitting in a hotel restaurant in San Diego (i think it was San Diego) talking with old friends Mark Wheatley,Marc Hempel and a few others about stuff and a vague idea i had for awhile started to gel during our conversation.

i had this idea about a homeless vampire-sleeps in a beat up old refrigerator box instead of a coffin- and had no where to go with it when a play on words brought the title to me- there's an old Bela Lugosi film called MARK OF THE VAMPIRE and as Marc and Mark were sitting right there i thought I'd call it MARC OF THE VAMPIRES-because it's about a vampire named Marc-cute,eh?

Well,i had little more than that for some time,but then Hempel's strip GREGORY was rocking my world and i thought I'd "borrow" a bit of his concept-Marc's character was this little boy who was in an insane asylum-usually in a straitjacket- crazy-yes-crazy entertaining and funny-seek it out-but anyway,i thought that maybe Marc had literally grown up in an asylum-a "home"-where he was taken care of virtually his whole life- other than his Doctor ( Orloff-what's that reference from,true believers?) all he has is his precious books- the fiction of literary giants through out history was his family. took me years to figure out what Marc looked like and one day i hit on it while watching one of my favorite Japanese film series-ZATOICHI-his battered,unassuming shape and body language speaks volumes about him-it also disguises the beast within-Zatoichi is a master swordsman-a deadly killer-but only wants to be left in peace- Marc has some of those attributes,so i tried drawing him like the actor Katsu Shintaro-and Marc of the Vampires was born!

It was still a few years before i sat down and drew a story with Marc-he even almost became a one panel comic strip,done with black humor-a little Gahan Wilson of sorts-but that proved difficult-i wanted to tell more of his story.

Not being a writer i naturally drew silent tales of Marc's little adventures at first- then i got a chance to put a story with Marc into a book-the MORE FUND BOOK at the Baltimore Comic con-but it needed words-something to explain a little about this mysterious fanged nebbish.

Fortunately Bob Tinnell came up with some words to make things a little less confusing-just a little- Problem was i had a short story's length to tell a graphic novel's story-so i decided to play it like a short chapter of a bigger tale-hoping the fans would beg for more!

The begging never came and his story just ended in the middle of a scene-sigh...

Here's that 1st story:

Yup-that's the whole story- well,not really,but it's all we had room for so that's where it "ends".

We WILL finish it someday-promise-but until then i recently got a second chance at a more self contained story...

to be continued...