This here post is evidence of the nice people you meet in this hobby. (Well, technically I have never met him but he is at least virtually nice!) Since I am a huge Dr. Strange fan I have become aware of other Doc fans, as they have no doubt also become aware of me. There are a few of us out there, not too many that they can escape my notice at least. One of these folks is Gerry Turnbull. He is also a colorist, and my longtime and faithful blog reader will recall he colored my Nebres commission. Well when I posted this Sienkiewicz Superman commission and Gerry expressed interest in it I knew he would not be able to contain himself. It may have even been less than an hour or two after posting it that I had an email from Gerry saying he had colored it. No charge, no hard sell, just "hey look at this!". That is a nice guy. He even used my nom-de-plume for Bill, Billy da'Sienk, in the file name. Gold star for Gerry!
So check this out.
Digitally colored version by Gerry Turnbull
It really makes me speechless. Luckily I can still type though. '-) I originally wanted a color commission, but have grown to love the black and white version I ended up getting. This gives me the best of both worlds. It really is indistinguishable from the original I think. Beautiful, Bill and Gerry, just beautiful!
Last year at NYCC I spent most of my convention budget on two things. The first was a Mike Mignola cover. But then I also set up a commission with Bill Sienkiewicz for him to recreate his pinup of Superman from issue 400 of Superman. We talked about it a bit and Bill told me no one had ever commissioned a recreation of that piece but that he had been thinking about doing one himself, but bigger. In fact I believe he said he had even started on one. So he was excited to take on the commission and then I made my first mistake. I did not sit there and watch him do it, but instead told him I was going home and would be back Sunday to pick it up. He told me he would do it and we agreed on the price for a color piece. Then I went home, a few thousand dollars poorer from these two purchases.
I had thought long and hard about offering Bill some big (to me at least) money for this piece. I had a few smaller ones, $200, $300, etc. but seeing people get these amazing pieces from Bill at cons made me think I had to raise my game a bit. I looked at a bunch of work trying to figure out what to ask for. I was settling on a shot from the Daredevil Love & War graphic novel where DD is kind of bouncing off a car with that crazy Sienkiewicz energy to the piece. And then I remembered a shot Bill did of Superman. It was really a great piece, it has the energy and scratch in Bill's best pieces but also had superb draftsmanship, yes only in a few recognizable parts, of the pinup. I knew immediately this was what I wanted to see Bill do for me.
Well, it isn't a surprise that things did not work out on Sunday. But it really wasn't any fault of Bill's, I just could not find him while at the show that day. For whatever reason he was not at his Artists Alley table when I was hovering and eventually I went home dejected. At least I had not yet paid Bill for the piece, but that was small consolation after planning it for at least 6 months!
Enter an angel from above in the form of John S. (I won't embarrass him with the full name.) I asked the comicart-l yahoo group if anyone could help me contact Bill in case the piece was done and waiting for me. Yes, I am an optimist. Eternally. John S emailed me to say he knew Bill personally and would try to help me out. Well, help me out he did. He kept on Bill every so often and eventually I got an email from Bill saying he would love to do it for me. He was going to do it the weekend of the London Comic Con, and John would be there to make sure it stayed on Bill's radar. Well, I got an email after the show from Bill; he thought I would be in London and had it ready for me. Well alright! 11 by 17 black and white. D'OH! Black and white? It seems in the months since NYCC some info was lost. But I knew that if Bill did it in b/w that it would shine as well, and since it was done what was I to do. So I took it anyway. Gladly. Eagerly. We agreed on paypal half now half when it was received. That was almost 4 weeks ago and I was kind of dreading confronting Bill about it by the 45 day paypal protection limit. But then he emailed me the other day with the piece attached. A few quicks email later it was going to Fedex and now here it is.
Bill Sienkiewicz commissioned recreation of Superman 400 pin-up
Fuckin' A Bill, fuckin' A! Thank you Mr. Sienkiewicz.
I knew I did not want to spend all day at the Comic Geek Speak 2013 Supershow, but this is getting ridiculous. Almost 2 hours each way and I only stayed 2 hours total. I bought 5 tpbs - Alan moore Swamp Thing 1 and 2, Fables 16 and 18, and The Shade. I needed the Shade because my slack buying habits meant I missed out on the last two or three issues. Since I own the painted covers for issue 11 and 12 I should read it, dontchathink? Besides I really enjoyed most of the previous issues and wanted to see how James Robinson ended it all. I already had Fables 17 but not 16 somehow, and got 18 as well so now I can catch up on those. And I have many of the Alan Moore Swamp Thing issues, but to read them all (including the first one - issue 20 - that has not previously been collected) is too much to pass up. I can get the next volumes later on, as apparently there are 6. That satisfied one goal, cheap trades, even if the latest LoEG escaped me once again. Next week at the next show perhaps.
As for the other goals, I was able to get my pictures of Tim Truman and my Ratdog/Planet Drum/Hot Tuna poster painting right away. That was cool, and I also talked commission with Tim and he agreed to do a Grateful Dead inspired piece and I am really excited about getting that. It may be one in a series if I can get what I want with the first one. I can see them lining my hallway upstairs if it all works out well. Now I can get that painting framed and on the wall.
As far as talking commissions, I was able to do so with two other artists as well. Rudy Nebres was there with his lovely and demure wife, as well as one of his sons. He lives 5 miles from here in NJ but we all traveled 100 miles to talk in Pennsylvania. I was pleased to be able to wear my tee shirt with his commission on it and they seemed really happy to see it as well. I talked another commission with Rudy and he was all for it. I told him I know he will do it immediately and that I wouldn't order it until I had my money in hand. So that is on the horizon, and I really need to solidify my choice for the content. As I told Mr. and Mrs. Nebres, after I got my Dr. Strange/Dracula/Scarlet Witch commission what do I really need after that? Rudy mentioned a few times during the 5-10 minutes I was with them how he saw the commission online (he doesn't get online much but I assume a son showed him) and how a lot of people had mentioned the piece to him or ordered their own based on seeing it. That made me happy, as he really deserves it.
The other artist I talked commissions with was also the only guy I commissioned to draw for me at the show and handed money to - Tom Raney. I have had a few single figure commissions through Tom and his deviant art site but talked with him about something more. It may indeed work out but again I have to really think out my content as this will be the seminal Tom Raney piece for me I think. The Defenders are an easy choice but beyond that I am having some trouble. Hmmm, I just had an idea. As for what Tom drew for me today, you can't see it. I got restless and left before he finished it. It started out great, as did a Red Sonja he was doing for someone else. He will mail it out to me soon with my Jack Knight commission that I ordered his last time round. Groovy, 2 pieces of freakin' dynamite art coming my way. I am scaling down the convention pieces, but Tom Raney's work really blows me away. Wait until we all see the large and in charge KANG coming my way, guns blazing!
I was supposed to pick up a JK Woodward Michael Golden portfolio plate homage but he didn't get it done. So I got him to do a Batman head sketch on my big blue board instead. That is the fourth head sketch on this jam, adding to those done by Chandra Free, Robin Riggs (in pencil and so hard to see in the scan), and Jonathan Case. Here is a look at that piece - it is too large for my scanner bed so you get two pieces. I hope to add one or two next week as well.
These people are drawing fairly large heads on this thing. The board itself measures 20x16. I may start another one, brown with Wolverine, next week instead of adding to this one. We'll see I guess.
I said I only paid one person to draw for me, and that was technically true but perhaps misleading. I also had Katie Cook paint Hagrid, but it was for my daughter. Katie was sweet and kind enough to add Hagrid to a 17x5 piece she started in 2010. Now Harry, Hermione & Ron have company and the thing is done and ready for framing. Rather than pay for the painting, which would be weird as Katie always does it for free for my girl, I bought $30 worth of Gronk. Gronk rules Fridays.
So 3 at home commission arranged and pretty much accepted, but only one head sketch on a jam and one Kang in the mail to show for half a day. That is a far cry from 15 sketches per convention, but it really reflects my priorities now in the hobby. Those 3 home commission will cost quite a bit, easily as much as 15 convention sketches, but it will be worth it. And my girl got her Hagrid! Thanks Katie!!!
I had a lot of fun going to the Heritage auction in NYC (Central Park West, ooh lala!) and one of the reasons it was so enjoyable was that Dave Sim was there. Say what you will, and most older comic fans have something to say about Dave one way or the other, but I have always enjoyed Dave Sim's work. I loved Cerebus and started reading it in the 70s or so. And it was an important part of my courtship of a lovely young college thang, the mater familias missus fedres420. We even went to Washington D.C. and then NYC in 1992 to buy Cerebus pages and see Dave and Gerhard. So seeing Dave at the heritage auction was fun, and he gave me a nice Cerebus head sketch at one point.
Dave was there because Heritage was selling some Cerebus pages, 10 I think, from his personal stash. Dave's lots were among the very last of the auction and as we sat in the small auction room I engaged in cautious surveillance. You see, my mission that day had multiple objectives and bidding on BWS and PMS pieces was the main objective but not the only one. I was there to sandbag Dave Sim as well.
Dave obviously has been falling on hard times cash-wise. Glamourpuss failed despite its' greatness, and Judenhass never had a chance if you ask me. A Kickstarter campaign generated some cash but now takes up huge chucks of Dave's time. He was selling Cerebus pages through Heritage and had entered into a few different deals with IDW comics. One involves some money associated with the digital Cerebus at the heart of the Kickstarter campaign, so that is fairly nebulous at this point. Another deal involves Dave producing covers for IDW comics. By the time of the Heritage auction the first of these had appeared, one of many alternate covers for a Mars Attacks comic. It featured Cerebus in a classic Sim sound effect joke. But this Cerebus is a Mars Attacks alien variation and is drawn in Dave's current style, maniacally cross-hatched and fabulously lush in the brushwork. I loved it right away, and at the auction I waited for my moment and then pounced in the aisle. Would Dave be willing to sell me that cover? I had cash in hand today in the form of hundred dollar bills, which as I learned on Pawn Stars have their own power. Alas, Dave informed me it was part of his Heritage consignment. They had other art but it just was not in this auction. The Mars Attacks cover would be in a Sunday auction in March.
Well, at least I had a fair shot at it. And you know what that usually means.
Mars Attacks variant Cerebus cover Dave Sim (all)
I was really pleased to get this. I am still in the market for some of the Alex Raymond / Stan Drake stuff Dave has done, definitely. But between this, my two Cerebus pages, and my Dr. StrangeRoach commission this itch is almost scratched.
Here are some closeups. First the top of the page. Not as exciting at the rest, but Dave's lettering is always fun and it is worth mentioning this is all on the page with no stats. You can also see the detail on the top of the alien helmet and Cerebus' cerebrum.
This next section is pretty impressive. All the different angles of crosshatching must have been pretty intensive to work out, and dave really impresses with its' use. Look how he delineates between the glass helmet, reflection and shadow on the helmet, and the wounded brain within. Then check out the splatter on the broken glass at the back of the helmet.
Here is the bottom part. I included a full shot from above the eyes becuase it is so impressive. The anatomy, and lack thereof, in Cerebus' mouth is wonderful. Again, all the different types of stroke utilized really make for a strong image.
Here is a closer look at the face. The eyes and mouth show so much thought and then to execute the vision so well really makes this piece stand out to me. Goo, tissue, vitreous and aqueous humour, blood, gore, teeth, gums, this one has it all. In fact that kind of makes it right in line with the classic Sim pieces, the ones that have the artistic execution of a master with content that satirizes society like a precision torch, burning off the refuse and cauterizing the wound so clearly as to reveal the ridiculousness of the underlying structure. Sim's Cerebus out zombies the zombies.
I am planning on hitting a few conventions soon. And by soon, I mean two in the next two weeks. I originally was going to the Asbury Park NJ convention last weekend, just to say hello to Al Jaffee with my daughter. She absolutely loves MAD TV and I thought it fitting she should meet such an integral part of the MAD look. But when we were getting ready to go that morning she asked me how long we were going to be there. An hour each way and maybe an hour or so at the convention I said. Two or three sentences later she expressed a desire not to invest the time. That was fine by me. We do enough together and will hit some big shows together this summer. It would have been nice to meet Ulises Farinas, who has done two spectacular commissions for me, but perhaps another time.
But this weekend it will be 90-120 minutes each way to rural Pennsylvania for the Comic Geek Speak Supershow. I have been to 3 or so of these, and they are a nice quiet break from the big show madness. I have never heard a podcast, much less the comic geek speak podcast, but I enjoy the convention. (Ooh, not true technically I guess. I have listened to a few Marc Maron podcasts after they loaded onto my ipod when synching from my wife's playlist.) Even though I am really moving away from convention sketches and staying with published pieces and bigger/fewer commissions there are a few reasons to go to this show. One I already mentioned, the low down locale. The 30 miles in and out of Reading PA is quiet and mellow and always a nice ride. You end up past the coastal regions of the northeast US and into true heartland of America stuff. Not like Indiana or Nebraska yet, but fundamentally different than Jersey cornfields. I like that. It wouldn't bring me to reading PA all by itself, but it is a nice touch. Kinda like the small town appeal of the Hawthorne NJ high school art class convention, it sets a sweet and mellow tone.
In order to travel that 200 miles or so round trip I need some true talent to be present. And since I am moving away from spending so much cash at conventions, and since I do not have it as my budget is going to the last few time payments on a painted cover, it better be something special to me. Oddly enough, this little show in the middle of nowhere does that in spades. Katie Cook goes here, so I go here as well. I found her art around 2008 and she was at an early Supershow so I went. At some point, 2010 or so, my elder daughter won a "Draw Gronk" contest online given by someone other that Katie. But the guy running it never followed through on the prize drawing from Katie so she was kind enough to do a nice little painting on a 17X5 piece of Bristol. She did Harry Potter and took up about 25% of the board. Hermione was added in 2010 at NYCC and Ron came last year. Now I hope to finish the piece with Dumbledore, Voldemort, or Hagrid and surprise my daughter with the finished piece.
My personal art goal is a nice finished pen piece by Tom Raney. Tom is one of the few artists who stay on my list no matter the frequency of our meetings. Some artists see me at their table at every opportunity - Tom Raney, Sean Chen, Andy MacDonald. Right now that may be about it. Then I get some big guns when I can, guys like Cheung. But those other guys bring it at a live event at a level I really appreciate. Tom and Sean will work in fine pointed pens or markers and I love the result. At this show I may have Tom add some background to a Fastball Special he did for me a few years ago. Or I may get a special request involving KANG. But if that proves difficult, it may be that background detail. Either way I am going to try and talk Tom into something much larger and involved than the single figure commissions he has been taking over at deviant art. Talking commission will be my main goal with Tom, and with Rudy Nebres as well. I have a few ideas for Rudy and will see which one he digs most. Then I will generate some reference and mail it over to his home. Then he will make magic with ink and talent and hard work.
The best part of the show won't involve me getting any art at all. Well, I may get something from his portfolio, but the goal of seeing Tim Truman in person at this show is to get a few pictures of him with this piece of art . It is the original painting for the poster advertising a Ratdog/Hot Tuna/Planet Drum concert on New Year's Eve 1999. If Tim has any Dead related or Dead themed art in his portfolio I may get it as well. I got this piece that way a year or two ago.
I even bought Tim's last copy of the Ratdog poster at that show, and I now own the painting itself. Yes I love this hobby.
My goal is to walk out with 4-6 free/cheap head sketches as well. I have a Batman jam started and may start one or two others at this show and the next. So watch out Joe Staton, Tom, Lee Weeks, Rudy, and James!
I will let you know how it went next week, as well as tell you about the show I will hit the following weekend in NYC! HINT HINT Sean Chen, again and again!