Images From Around this Blog!

24 December 2010

Sky Pirates Return!

As promised in an earlier post, here's the color version of the Drew Struzan-inspired drawing I did for "Sky Pirates of Valendor".  While I'm no Drew Struzan, I really like the tone of this piece, and it was certainly an educational experience for me.  It's always great fun to play with someone else's toys.

21 December 2010

Psdgraphics.com - Good Photoshop Resource

I'm just working up a piece using a paper texture I downloaded from this site.  It looks like a good collection of resources for Photoshop, including textures, tutorials and more.  I'll definitely be bookmarking this for future reference.

07 December 2010

Yarrr! Up Up and Away, Matey!

A while back, I got a great deal on a copy of Drew Struzan: Oeuvre, and fell into an attention hole over his work.  I've always enjoyed his movies posters, but never really studied his work until I got this book.  Like a very few other artists I can think of -- Boris, Frazetta, Alex Ross -- I occasionally find myself lost in some small part of a Struzan painting, studying the mechanics of the piece more than the gestalt of the thing.  His composition, lighting, and use of color border on the mystical for me at this point.  There's also his storytelling, his ability to capture the essence of a film in a single image, so much so that in some cases, his posters are better than the movies themselves...it's just astounding work all around.
Shortly after finding the book, I got the opportunity to do a pinup for a book called "Sky Pirates of Valendor", and since it is a team book, I thought it would be instructive to me to try and design it Struzan-style.  I can't say it was entirely successful, but still, I think it didn't turn out too bad.  The image below is the greyscale piece I turned in for the book, since it was b&w.  However, I do have a color version of this somewhere, and I'll post it if I can ever remember where I filed it. 
They've changed publishing tactics since soliciting the piece, and have now become a webcomic, so this piece, as far as I know, never got used, which is a shame, since I would have liked to have seen how other artists interpreted the characters.  It's a pretty good comic, and I recommend you read it if you get a chance.

19 November 2010

Model Bevavior

Gentlemen and Ladies, allow me to introduce Drakaina.

Drakaina is a fantasy art model I recently had the pleasure to meet at Halcon 2010.  She has served as inspiration for a great number of fantasy artists, including Lorenzo Sperlonga, the best of which have been collected in three beautiful volumes of art published by SQP Publications.  Additionally, her image has appeared in a wide variety of magazines, including Playboy and Heavy Metal.
Drakaina was at Halcon to promote her latest art collection and her new comic book.  She was gracious enough to sign a couple of books for me and we had a brief pleasant talk about her preferences in art and her working process.

Through her website, Drakaina offers a gallery of photos for artist reference and inspiration.  The drawings and paintings that fill her books are chosen from among the best of the creations based on these photographs.
Having recently obtained access to this gallery, one of the upcoming projects on my plate is to create a piece based on Drakaina, partly for the enjoyment of it, and partly to see if I can measure up to the artists who have made it into her previous volumes.  As this will be a personal project, I expect it will take some time, but I will post a copy of the image here once it's done.  In the meantime, be sure to check out Drakaina's website, and grab a copy of her books when and wherever you can.

09 November 2010

What I'm Working On

I'm not terribly busy posting lately, but that's a good thing, as it means I've got as much work as I can handle right now.  A large chunk of my time is being spent getting "Brutal Blade of Bruno the Bandit" ready for publication, but I'm also hard at work on another project involving a slew of character designs for a German author.  The deadline's kind of loose on that one, so I'm having great fun researching styles and textures, and playing with lighting and effects in Photoshop.  Here's just one example of the characters I've recently finished.

01 November 2010

Slugging it Out!

Pete Abrams has just announced that Book 10 of his popular webcomic, "Sluggy Freelance" is available from IndyPlanet.  The latest volume, long awaited by Sluggy fans, is titled "Ghosts in the Gastank".  What does this have to do with me, you may ask?  And well may you ask.

Go ahead...ask.

Well, I'll tell you anyway.  If you'll recall, back in June, I posted about some color work I was doing for Sluggy's Saturday strip, "Meanwhile in the Dimension of Pain", drawn by fellow inkslinger Ian McDonald (he of "Bruno the Bandit" fame).  Well, apparently the pages I colored for this set are being reprinted in this latest volume.  I was still a bit raw when I did these, and it shows in spots, but I had a lot of fun working on them, especially with some of the dimension hopping panel busting stuff Ian was doing with the artwork.  I credit these pages with having helped me move forward as a colorist, learning how to handle deadlines and maintaining a consistent look to a set of pages.

I've been a fan of Sluggy Freelance for a long time, if a somewhat irregular one.  Abrams is definitely the creme de la creme of webcomics stardom, and the fact that his strip has been running so long shows how well received it's been in general.  It's also helped set the standard for what a webcomics artist can achieve, although few have so far attained that height. 

I'm pleased to say that Pete has graciously gifted mine and Ian's self-publishing project with a mention at his site, but also with a pinup piece for the first issue.  Keep watch to the blog at AIM Comics for news on that front.

It's great to see the Sluggy machine keep rolling on...even if it does have "Ghosts in the Gastank".

29 October 2010

Oh the Fecundity!

Whoops....Almost forgot this one.
Here's the last leg of the Apex Halloween sale, a promisingly morbid collection.

"Apex Halloween One Day Sale-THE BLACKNESS WITHIN-40% off today only!

From Africa to Australasia, from Europe to the US, take a terrifying journey led by world-renowned and up-and-coming authors of horror. See how Moccus, the Celtic God of fecundity, brings His barbaric brutality to the twenty-first century. Experience the nightmare of an apostle unable to live up to His teachings in “Dreaming” and, in “Without Mercy,” witness the torment of those who can. But it doesn’t stop there. Even hundreds of years after Mocuss’s death, His savage reign continues for those who dare to question, as you will discover in “For They Are As Beasts” and “Abattoir Blues.”

Thirteen stories–some menacingly dark, others violent and rapacious–will show you a future where death is a blessing. With senior editor Gill Ainsworth, you know you are in for one heck of a ride—especially at 40% off. Drop by the Apex Publications Store and get yours today (Oct 29)."

http://www.apexbookcompany.com/the-blackness-within-stories-of-the-pagan-god-moccus/

I haven't bought or read this one yet, but from the descriptions and the cover, it gives me an impression that it's got the same caliber as the early Mythos stories, or the early work of Robert Bloch, which would definitely put it on my radar.   I'm going to go grab a copy right now...may I suggest you do the same?

27 October 2010

Apex Sale - Time for a Change?

The Apex Books Halloween sale rolls on...

"Apex Halloween One Day Sale-THE CHANGED-40% off today only!

It’s not the end of the world—it’s just zombies. Chris is an ordinary guy with a boring job, a perfect fiancĂ©e, and plans for a happy, if predictable, future. But when the dead stop dying and become, instead, simply “changed,” ordinary isn’t so comforting anymore. Wandering stray animals suddenly develop a taste for flesh and brains, and while most of the human zombies might be harmless, can anyone really be sure?

For a novel that is both horrifying and satirical, THE CHANGED by BJ Burrow will make your day. Especially at today's one day sale (Oct 27) of 40% off. Drop by the Apex Publications Store and get yours now.

Don't forget, any customer who buys any book between Oct 15th and Oct 30th will have their name put in for a raffle of awesome prizes: A critique Apex Magazine Fiction Editor, Cat Valente, or $25 gift card for Amazon.com, or an Apex Minion pack, or a $10 gift certificate to the Apex Store."

http://www.apexbookcompany.com/the-changed

This one is actually next up on my reading list.  I love a good zombie novel but, like vampires, I suspect that the vein (heh) is quickly getting played out through overuse.  Still, if I can count on anybody to offer me some good zombie fiction, it has to be Apex, whose publications could be called anything but cliche.  I've never read anything by Burrow, but a sample of this book convinced me that it would be worth the read.  Why not give it a try?

22 October 2010

Selling Mama

Another day, another great Halloween sale from Apex Books.  This time around it's Fran Friel's "Mama's Boy", a collection of horrifically good short stories from a Stoker nominated author.  I know I've reviewed this one before somewhere, but darned if I can find it.  Naturally, I enjoyed this book, as I do almost everything from Apex.  I did find that the writing wasn't quite as polished as some of their offerings, but the stories in the collection were great fun to read, and anybody looking for some good fright literature this Halloween would do well to check this one out.

From the publisher:

Apex Halloween One Day Sale-Stoker Nominated: MAMA'S BOY-40% off today only!

The Bram Stoker Award-nominated novella “MAMA's BOY” is the cornerstone of this 14-story collection from author Fran Friel and Apex Publications. This collection features a special introduction by Gary A. Braunbeck.  For a collection of horror classics from award winning author, Fran Friel, you can do no better than MAMA's BOY. Especially at today's one day sale (Oct 22) of 40% off. Drop by the Apex Publications Store and get yours now.

“Fran Friel has a genuine gift for storytelling. Her highly adaptable prose boils over with emotion: love, guilt, fear, and the myriad shades between. Mama’s Boy and Other Dark Tales marks the arrival of a stunning new talent.”
—Michael McBride, author of the God’s End trilogy and Bloodletting

Don't forget, any customer who buys any book between Oct 15th and Oct 30th will have their name put in for a raffle of awesome prizes: A critique Apex Magazine Fiction Editor, Cat Valente, or $25 gift card for Amazon.com, or an Apex Minion pack, or a $10 gift certificate to the Apex Store.

http://www.apexbookcompany.com/mamas-boy-and-other-dark-tales/

20 October 2010

Contest and Sale at Apex

From the editors at Apex Books comes this little gem of literature:

Apex Halloween One Day Sale-ORGY OF SOULS-40% off today only!

"Twenty for one. Twenty souls for his brother’s life is a price that seductively beautiful Samson is willing to pay. Twenty souls drenched in blood, powdered with cocaine and more than one kind of ecstasy. A fair trade for the life of a brother. A fair trade for the life of a priest. And everyone he meets seems so willing to give theirs away.

ORGY OF SOULS is a horror novella measuring the price of a man by Maurice Broaddus and Wrath James White you really should read. Especially at today's one day sale (Oct 20) of 40% off. Drop by the Apex Publications Store and get yours now.

“Broaddus and White are an unlikely pairing of talents that works astonishingly well. Orgy of Souls is a powerful, innovative work of fiction and one I recommend wholeheartedly. A damned fine read!”
James A. Moore, author of Deeper and Cherry Hill

Don't forget, any customer who buys any book between Oct 15th and Oct 30th will have their name put in for a raffle of awesome prizes: A critique by Apex Digest Fiction Editor, Cat Valente, or $25 gift card for Amazon.com, or an Apex Minion pack, or a $10 gift certificate to the Apex Store."



A good deal on a good book.  I've read this one myself and really enjoyed it.  The two authors are an unlikely match, one (Broaddus) a ministry worker, and the other (White) a hardcore horror writer.  The end result is something similar to the work of Clive Barker, as deep as it is horrific, and well worth the read.  
Apex is asking folks all over the help them promote this today, but I wouldn't post it if I didn't believe in it, so it's dead straight and on the level when I tell you that this is a book most readers will enjoy.

06 October 2010

Let it Rain

I was trying to create a rain effect similar to that in "Sin City" and came across this nice rain brush by Faeth-design over at Deviantart.  There's some other nice brushes available under their profile as well; take a look.

27 September 2010

The Last Signing

This past Friday, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend Dave Sim's "Last Signing" event hosted by Strange Adventures comic shop.  I've been reading Sim's work since the late '80's, and am proud to say I've read (and own, in one form or another) all 300 issues of his comic masterpiece, Cerebus. 
Although I own several other pieces signed by Sim, getting to meet him in person was a moment I will always remember.  His writing, his art and his commentaries (through work like "The Cerebus Guide to Self-Publishing") have been inspirational to me and helped to guide my own artistic career so far.  It's not every day you get to meet one of your personal heroes, and I'm glad I was able to take advantage of this last formal opportunity to do so.
Dave comes across as a very outspoken person in his writing, and I think the expectation is that he's going to convey at least a little of that in person.  I'll state for the record that in person, Dave Sim is every inch the gentleman and professional.  He took time to chat with each of the attendees, did Cerebus sketches for everyone who wanted one, signed any of his work that was on hand, and distributed free, signed posters to all.  He spent some time with kids who had no idea who he was, but were wowed by getting a drawing from a real comics artist, and did a couple of great character sketches for a newlywed couple in the crowd.  For me, even though it was around 3 in the morning by the time I got to the front of the line (I was near to the last), he signed 13 books and gave me a Cerebus headsketch on a phonebook edition.  His energy seemed unflagging, even after nearly 6 hours of signing and sketching, and he was witty and interesting through and through. 
Just as impressive were the owner and staff of Strange Adventures, who campaigned to earn the opportunity to host this event, then stayed open ridiculously late to give everyone a chance to meet Mr. Sim.  They handed out free comics to the kids, had lots of Sim's work on display, including some original art that was jaw-droppingly beautiful, and kept the tills open for anyone who wanted to build their collection.  I'm sure they must have been dead on their feet by the end of the night (I know I was!), but they stayed upbeat and friendly throughout.

So, to Dave Sim and to Strange Adventures, I'd like to say a huge "Thank You" for providing this rare opportunity and carrying it off so well.  Be sure to check out the Strange Adventures website soon for pictures of the event, and head over to Cerebus TV, where they'll be posting video of the event, including footage of Dave opening the event with a rousing rendition of "My Way".  Good stuff, all around.

17 September 2010

Out of Prime

I've just read on the Apex blog that "Prime" by Nate Kenyon, the novel I illustrated for them, will be going out of print in both digital and paper versions as of next Friday.  Now could be your last chance to grab a copy of this very good science fiction novel.  I've read it, and would say that it's good even if I hadn't been involved with it.  It's available for only $13.95 from the Apex store, and only $4.99 in digital format...either way, it's well worth the money.

14 September 2010

AIMing High!

A while back, Ian McDonald announced on his website that I would be involved in bringing his webcomic "Bruno the Bandit" to print.  This is true, but it's only part of the story. 
In fact, I'm hoping that "Bruno" will be the first of many projects from my own imprint, AIM Comics.  This is, right now, just a banner under which I will be publishing some digital and Print on Demand projects, of which "Bruno the Bandit" is the flagship title. 
Just yesterday, the blog for AIM Comics went live with my announcement of the Bruno project.  I am keeping this separate from the Paladin Freelance blog because this site is mainly intended as my online portfolio, whereas I wanted the AIM blog to be dedicated to news about upcoming projects under that title. 
For a while, updates to this site will be much fewer, focusing on non-AIM projects I have completed that are going to print or seeing the light of day in some way.  Meantime, check out the AIM blog from time to time to see what's happening with my own self-published and partnered projects such as "Bruno the Bandit".  Interesting times ahead.

26 August 2010

Flame Brushes

I hate painting flames.  Trying to get the look just right is always a pain for me.  That's why I like finding something like this set of flame brushes from DeviantArt user redheadstock.  This will save me a ton of time on the piece I'm currently trying to finish.

12 August 2010

Flattry Will Get You Everywhere!

Micropayment service "Flattr" has just opened up to public use, and being a fan of all things micropayment, I thought I'd give it a try.
Flatter is a service that allows you to deposit a sum of money to a Paypal style account, then specify any number of sites to whom that money should be distributed at the end of the month.  The amount you have specified to be disbursed will then be shared equally among the people you have "Flattred". 
It's somewhat abstract for now, but I think it's an interesting idea, so I've added a Flattr button in the sidebar at the left.  If you're a member, just click the button to add me to your Flattr list and a few shekels will be distributed to me each month, allowing me to keep producing the drawings that keep this site moving, and bringing me small steps closer to my dream of eventual financial liberation, shortly followed by complete hermitage in a tin roofed shack hidden deep in the wilds of Nova Scotia. 
If you're not a Flattr member, but produce any kind of web content, why not sign up?  Anything that can monetize creative work is good in my opnion, and it could start you working on your own tin roofed shack.  Just not too close to mine, or I'll have to sic the dogs on ye.

01 August 2010

Powers vs. Power V. 2 Now Available

Waiting for a Watchmen sequel that's likely never going to happen?  Read every issue of Astro City and wondering where to go next?  Let me suggest you try "Powers vs. Power" by Robin Reed.
The second volume of this series has just been released in various ebook formats, with my own work gracing the cover.  Each book is a collection of short stories based on a group of original superheroes created by Robin for Metahuman Press.  I enjoyed the first volume very much and am pleased to say that the second volume, so far, is maintaining the same level of quality.
Writing prose about superheroes can be a difficult task because the visual aspect on which the medium of comics depends is missing.  "Biff!" and "Pow" don't parse the same in a non-graphic form.  This means that the stories, if they're not to be entirely juvenile, have to be a lot more character driven.  The problem is then to avoid the pitfall of turning the work into fanfic, making the characters cheap pastiches of existing heroes or winding up hip deep in long descriptions of powers and physiques.  Robin manages to avoid these dangers quite nicely and has created a cast with a fair amount of depth and personality.  Yet, the work does not cross over much into Alan Moore territory, in the sense that this is not a deconstruction of the genre.  Superheroes in this world are a good thing, and there's a good sense of fun and wonder in these stories as well.  I think these books will be enjoyed by anyone who actually likes superheroes.
Powers Vs. Power Book 2 is available in Kindle format from Amazon at the low price of $2.99, and in various ebook formats from Smashwords for just 99 cents.  If you're fan of the genre, or of good storytelling in general, I really do recommend it.

16 July 2010

There's Banditry Afoot!

In his latest "Rothland Tribune", Ian McDonald has spilled the beans that we're working on a print on demand edition of "Bruno the Bandit", so I might as well add some fuel to that fire. 
We are indeed going ahead with a POD version of Bruno, but that's not going to be the limit of it, by a long shot.  The plan is to get the work out into circulation through a variety of means.  This includes print on demand, but also includes digital distribution.  Digital comics seem to be growing in popularity, especially now that the big two have embraced the format.  I hope that between POD and digital distribution, we can do something to really bring attention to Ian's work.
And may I say I think we're off to a great start.  I'm in the middle of compiling the first book, and it's jam packed with Ian's earliest and some of his best storylines.  We're going to be including original and never before seen content, and to top it all off, we've got a cover drawn by a guest artist that I won't name yet, but will say that Ian and I are picking our jaws off the floor after being able to get this guy to create some work for us.  And there may be more surprises to come....

But I'm not going to go on too much about that here.  This is meant to be my online portfolio, and I don't want to cross it over too much with that project.  If this works out, I am hoping to expand this project to take in other work, not least of all my own long dormant comic book, "The Journals of Simon Pariah".  So, I'll soon be starting a new blog dedicated to news related solely to that project.  I'll post more about it here when it's available, which will be soon.

In the meantime, if you haven't read "Bruno the Bandit", now's an excellent time to go check it out.  Ian's put the strip on hold for a while (but it's clearly not dead), so now would be a good opportunity to catch up on his extensive back catalog and see what all the hoopla is (and will be) about.

12 July 2010

Sky Club Review at Virtuosity

There's a very nice review of "Sky Club" over at Virtuosity today.  The art only gets one sentence, but what a sentence it is!
All in all, it seems like people are enjoying the CD; it makes me very happy to have been a part of it.

08 July 2010

Sky Club on Delicious Agony

Over at one of my favorite prog rock internet radio stations, Delicious Agony, there's a great interview with Mack Maloney about "Sky Club".  I like the comparison of the album to a "Desert Island Discs" compilation.  It makes me wonder what my own desert island disc would contain. 
They get down to discussing the art and the booklet around 14:30 if you want to jump ahead.  The interviewer sounds very positive about it, and I'm also pleased to see that the Amazon reviews of the CD are also saying good things about the art.  I haven't heard anything from or about the other artist for the booklet, but any praise for the visuals goes out to him as much as me. 
You can hear the interview by clicking the "Interviews" link at the left side of Delicious Agony's page, or you can click here to stream the interview directly in your media player.

06 July 2010

It's Supersnipe!

My favorite comic shop, Strange Adventures, recently opened a new shop in Dartmouth.  Not only did I visit their grand opening to grab some nifty signed and sketched books by the likes of Faith Erin Hicks and Mark Oakley, but I also took the opportunity to enter their coloring contest for a bit of fun and the chance to win a big ol' gift certificate with which to stock my library.  Line art for the coloring contest was created by Dave Howlett, who's designed some really rocking work for the shop over the years.

I'm happy to say that I was one of the winners at the professional level of that contest, meaning I'll shortly be acquiring all kinds of cool goodies to fill my reading list for the summer.  Somehow I found the time to create two entries for the contest.  The first was bit of traditional digital coloring, like so:

The inspiration and palette for this rendition was inspired by the covers of the classic Marvel giant monster comic "Where Monsters Dwell", #25.

However, as I was rendering the piece, it put me more and more in mind of a piece I had seen by Alex Ross, created for the series "Marvels":

Ross's work fascinates me, so I thought this might be a good opportunity to see if I could do anything in his style.  I took the piece I had rendered earlier and went at it from a different angle, starting off with a more painterly approach in Artweaver.
As you can see from this, I replaced the background in the original with a more photographic layer with a couple of filters aplied to it, then turned the lineart layer of the original piece into an underpainting by doing a burnt sienna color hold on it.  From there I started painting in new layers over the underpainting.

And it was right about there that Artweaver and I parted ways.  I'm sure there are some people out there who swear by Artweaver.  At first glance, it does look like a fun program to mess around with, and has the potential for a lot of nice artistic effect.  However, on my system, I found it nothing but buggy and troublesome.  To begin with, the interface is not nearly as intuitive as it should be.  I've used a lot of art programs -- Photoshop, Gimp, MS Paint, Project Dogwaffle, and many more -- but almost none of them have been as difficult to decipher as Artweaver.  Simple things like layer opacity, brush size and dynamics seem to be present, but fine tuning them is more complicated than it should be.  I'm prepared to admit that this may be a subjective thing, but then I'm hardly inexperienced with this stuff.
A more serious problem for me was the floating toolbars.  I multitask; it's inevitable for me.  As a result, I find myself using alt-tab switching on Windows quite a bit.  Doing this while using Artweaver caused the floating toolbars to either stay on top of the other windows I had switched to, or disappear completely, forcing me to restart the program to get them back.  Either way, this was an unacceptable behavior from the program, as it greatly interefered with the work in progress.  I might try the program again if this behavior gets fixed, but for now, I'll give it a pass.

So, I took the piece to my old standby, Gimp.   The Gimp has long been one of my favorite art programs; it's interface is much more natural for me, and I like its brush controls and customizable keyboard shortcuts much more than even Photoshop.  In fact, if it were not for the fact that I need to use CMYK for finished work, I would probably never use Photoshop at all.  For example, the digital paintings I recently created for the SkyClub CD were all rendered in The Gimp, and mostly just converted to CMYK for printing in Photoshop. 
The end result was the piece below.  While this was the puppy that won the blue ribbon for me, I can't say I'm entirely happy with it.  It's not bad, but it just didn't go where I wanted it to.  I think part of the problem is that I was not bold enough with the color.  Alex Ross is one of the few painters I've seen who's not afraid to paint with black.  In fact, he uses it quite liberally in his work.  When I studied art, I was told never to paint with true black and have tried to avoid it over the years.  Perhaps it is because his work is almost exclusively comic related that Ross is able to get away with breaking this "rule". 
In any case, I wanted to keep the tone of this piece light, considering the purpose and setting of the piece, so I avoided using any black or truly dark colors.  I think this took away some of the depth of the piece, so that it comes off looking kind of flat.  Also, while I avoided gradient fills wherever possible, I think the brush selection I used still makes the piece look very processed.  Like I said, it's not bad (heck, good enough to snag me a prize), but it's just not what I set out to accomplish.  Still, it was fun to work on and a real learning experience.


There were some other very nice contributions to the contest, at all skill levels.  You can see the other winners here.  It's nice to see such a selection of talent offering different interpretations of the same piece, and great fun to be able to be part of it all.

25 June 2010

Dimension of Pain

Here's a piece I recently completed for Pete Abrams of "Sluggy Freelance".  A couple of years back, Pete ran a Saturday strip called "Meanwhile in the Dimension of Pain" written by him and drawn by Ian "Bruno the Bandit" McDonald.  I had great fun coloring up a bunch of these strips for them, and now that he's gathering the Dimension of Pain material for inclusion in the tenth Sluggy collection, he needed this last page colored, so I volunteered once again.  It was an interesting exercise, as I had to deliberately dumb down my current coloring style a bit to match the style I was using at the time.  Still, I think the end result looks OK, and it's consistent with the other pages.  Be sure to check out Sluggy Freelance, one of the best and longest running webcomics, and pick up Volume 10 if you'd like to read more of "Meanwhile in the Dimension of Pain."

08 June 2010

Sky Club Winner

Congratulations to the winner of the Sky Club CD, Lisa of Actorz Inc.  Thanks, Lisa...I hope you enjoy the music; I think it's pretty darn good.  Thanks to all those who entered; I hope more of you decide to check out this project for yourself.  They're a pretty talented bunch of musicians and well worth a listen.

01 June 2010

Road to R'yleh

Anyone who's read past posts or knows my reading habits knows that I'm a Lovecraft junkie.  I like a good mythos tale, whether penned by the man from Providence himself, or by one of his many worthy successors.  A good portion of my personal library of comics, books and movies is dedicated to adaptations of Lovecraft's work or works set in and around the universe he created. 
Unfortunately, really good Lovecraftian fiction on the net seems to be hard to find.  Not that there's not plenty out there, but when stacked up against mainstream writers like King, Lumley and Alan Moore, the quality's just not there.  That's why, when I find a source of mythos fiction that's worthwhile, I cherish it for the enjoyment I know it will bring me.
One of the few of these, probably the most active one at the moment, is Innsmouth Free Press.  Aside from an interesting (if somewhat too TV oriented) blog that sometimes presents itself as if it were actually reporting events in an around Arkham (a neat literary device), the owners of this site also publish a magazine of mythos fiction that's professional in both the quality of the publication itself as well as in terms of the fiction it contains.  Although the magazine itself is free, IFP is actually a paying market for writers, meaning that they are getting work that is well above the average pastiche. 
Their latest issue has just been made available for free download, and along with it, they are doing their first fundraiser.  Their goal is to raise $1500 in June to pay for production costs of their website and magazine.  I've just made a small donation, and I'd like to suggest to any readers who might be interested in quality Lovecraftian fiction or just quality fiction in general to check out their magazine and, if possible, hit up their Donate button and throw a couple of dollars their way.  It's up to us to make sure that good markets like this not only do not disappear, but continue to grow and improve. Click the banner below to visit their site and see what they're all about.

19 May 2010

SkyClub CD Update and a Contest!

My copies of the SkyClub CD arrived in the mail today.  It's a great thrill to have my work displayed for the first time in such a format, and by all reports, the response so far has been a good one.  I always like it when I can realize another writer's vision, and it's great to know that my work is being used to help bring to life the creative talents of Mack Maloney and company. 

Of course, to be fair, I'm not the only artist on this one; there's also several images by an artist named Sherp (http://soussherpa.tripod.com); you can see some of his work at his site.  Still, I managed to present the lion's share of the work for this one, including the images used for the CD website and the cover for the CD.

The CD is available to buy right now off Amazon, or you can purchase it direct from Voiceprint Records at the link above.  You can also preview some music from the CD at that site.  Meantime, I've got one copy of the CD to give away to a lucky reader who sends me an email with "Skyclub CD" as the subject (my email address is in the links to the left).  If your name is drawn, I will contact you to get a mailing address.  Contest closes 31 May, 2010.  No information will be harvested, sold, stored or made fun of behind the school at recess time.  Good luck!

Meantime, here's another sample of the images from the CD, just to whet your appetite a bit....



If you get a chance to listen to the CD and check out all the artwork, I've enjoy reading your opinion on the whole thing.  Drop me a line!

17 May 2010

Who's Killing All the World's Awesome?

OK, I don't want this blog to start looking like an obit column, but I've just got to comment on this.  It's starting to look like someone's draining all the awesome out of the world.  Just last Monday, I found out about Frank Frazetta, now I start this week by reading that Ronnie James Dio has died?  C'mon, guys, whattaya doing to me?!
Dio blew my mind with "Rainbow in the Dark", and I think I played the sides off my copy of "Holy Diver"; it's still a fixture in my playlist after more than 20 years.  Then I discovered Rainbow, and tracks like "Man on the Silver Mountain" and "Kill the King" became burned into my mind.  Seriously, I can still (badly) sing along with all of those songs.  Then I heard "Live Evil", then "Last in Line", then "Intermission"....and on, and on.....
You know, now that I think about it, Dio was really part of my pantheon of music for a long time, right up there with Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson and a select few others.  I've done drawings and paintings based on his work, and it was always required listening in my studio when working on a piece.  I remember rocking out to one of his live videos with some good friends in those post-teenage years that I go back to in my memory when I'm feeling nostalgic. 
Fortunately, I'm not alone in this.  I think Dio carved a place in the collective memory of a couple of generations.  So, time to queue up some "Holy Diver", throw a devil horn salute to the sky, and rock out for a while.

Ronnie James Dio: An Appreciation | EW.com

"If you suddenly see

What has happened to me

You should spread the word around



And tell everyone here

That it's perfectly clear

They can sail above it all on what they've found

It cries for you

It's the best that you can do

Like a sound that's everywhere

I can hear it screaming through the air


Long live rock and roll"




,

10 May 2010

The Grey God Passes...

Pause for a moment and recognize that the best fantasy artist of the 20th Century has left the party today; Frank Frazetta is dead.

I've mentioned before how I'm saddened by the passing of a great artist because I know that now I'll never get a chance to meet them.  There is no other person alive of whom this is more true for me than Frank Frazetta.  My earliest fascination with the work of Robert E. Howard came from reading the books for which Frazetta did the covers.  My earliest obsession with fantasy art came from a collection of Frazetta's work.  I cannot count the hours I've spent copying his paintings, reading his comics, cherishing every page of every collection of his art that I've found.  Even now, more than a quarter of a decade after I first discovered his work, I still sometimes pick up a volume of his work and find myself lost for an uncounted time in contemplation of the power, the energy and the mastery of his work.

Frank Frazetta was one of the primary inspirations behind any attempt on my part to ever become an artist, but he was also an inspiration to the way I live.  In photographs of the artist I've seen, he has always appeared as a fit man who could easily be the model for any of the heroes he so often painted, but more importantly, he was always smiling.  No matter how he was photographed, he always appeared to me to be having just the best time in the world, and I always equated that with him knowing --as surely, he HAD to know -- that he was the absolute best in the world at what he did.  That impression gave me the idea early on that true happiness and satisfaction could be found through pursuing work that one loved, an idea that I live by now and try to teach to my children.
More than an enjoyment of his technique, I took from Frazetta's work what Ayn Rand called "sense of life".  There is a scale to Frazetta's paintings, even his personal work like his portrait's of his late wife Ellie, that speaks of a sense of life that is not small or petty or weighed down by monotony, but is instead large, and wide, rich with color and alive with possibility.  That sense serves me as a reminder to sort my priorities at times when things get a little murky.

I know that the work of the heroic fantasy artists like Frazetta is considered corny by many these days, but for me, there was and is a lot of value in it.  I took so much, personally, philosophically and artistically, from the work of Frazetta that it's hard to imagine what my life would have been without it.  It's sad to think that there will be no more of that, but it's great to think that the work is respected enough to be published in such volumes that guarantee that many more will have the opportunity to discover it for themselves.
I can't say I'm going to miss Frank Frazetta, because I've still got everything I learned from his work.  I suppose if anything is really sad for me, it is that I never had the chance to say "Thank you."  I guess this will have to serve as the next best thing.

Frank Frazetta 1928-2010 | The Beat

What of the world
that I leave for ever?

Phantom forms in a fading sight--

Carry me out on the ebon river

Into the Night.

-from "Lines Written in the Realization That I Must Die" by Robert E. Howard

04 May 2010

Hal was a Green Lantern!

One person I shamefully overlooked in yesterday's post about Free Comic Book Day was local comics artist and sketch tablemate Gino Collins.  An expatriate Newfoundlander like myself, Gino had a very nice portfolio of work with him, and seemed to be having great fun meeting the challenges of the kids looking for sketches...and I know there were some real challenges in that crowd. 
Gino is also a member of the Friends of Hal Foster Society, a group dedicated to promoting the work of Nova Scotia born artist Hal Foster, the creator of Prince Valiant and the Tarzan comic strip.  "Friends..." is currently fundraising to have a statue in Hal's honor erected in Halifax, which I think is a great idea.  If you'd like to help out with this initiative, donations can be made through Strange Adventures comic shop.
I hope Gino will forgive me for posting a piece of his art from his brochure "Who Was Hal Foster?"; it's a funny piece from a cleverly done brochure.  If you'd like to see more of Gino's work, you can find it at his blog, "Draw It Like You Mean It".  Take a look.

03 May 2010

Sketch-a-riffic!

Free Comic Book Day 2010 was a blast!  I'm pleased to say that I had a slight case of artist's cramp at the end of the day...from the moment the doors opened until the end of the day, I was drawing nearly non-stop, as were the other artists in attendance.  The hosts kept me plied with cookies and Dr. Pepper...a sure way to my heart...so I was happy to keep blasting out the sketches for any and all.  My only regret is that I didn't have time to do more.
My favorite drawing of the day was a portrait of The Tick challenging Batman...with a spoon (that's a reference you can only get if you've actually read The Tick, and you should).  That sort of thing was the real fun of the day....taking challenges from the attendees to draw things I'd never considered before....Princess Fiona from Shrek, Sonic the Hedgehog, Iron Man vs. Astro Boy; fun stuff all the way.
Of course, it was also great for me that I was in some very good company.  I had the chance to briefly meet Faith Erin Hicks, the creator of the brilliant "Zombies Calling" and "The War at Ellsmere", Tim Larade, creator of the webcomic "One of Those Days",  and several others who (I'm ashamed to say) I did not write down names, links or other identifying information (sorry, guys!).  Apparently Darwyn Cooke showed up at some point, but I must have been hip deep in a drawing at the time, as I didn't spot him.
There's some pictures of the day up at Strange Adventures website; you can see the gallery here.  I'm the one doing the drawings of Deadpool and Iron Man, among others.  As you'll see, there was quite a crowd there...I'm told some people stood in line for over half an hour just to get into the building, and nearly as long to get a sketch. 
So, thanks to all who attended and dropped by the table for a sketch.  It was a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to doing more of these events.

Oh...and to the guy who I spoke to about the Green Lantern drawing....I haven't forgotten, and will deliver.  Drop me a line.

28 April 2010

Sketchy Character

For anyone who's in the area, I'll be doing some sketching for the kids at Free Comic Book Day in Halifax this Saturday, 1 May. 
The event, as usual, is being hosted by Strange Adventures comic shop  and is being held at Saint David's Hall from noon to 4 pm.  Go here if you'd like more information, including a map to the location. 
Drop by and pick up some great comics, on the house, and maybe nab a piece of original art or two.  Judging by past years, I'm going to be in good company, artwise, and I'm really looking forward to it.  Hope to see you there!

19 April 2010

Sky Club is Flying!

Skyclub, the new album from Mack Maloney and friends, is now available from Voiceprint Records.  I've mentioned this here before, but it's changed homes since then and has a new producer and distributor.

I was pleased to be invited to be one of the contributing artists to the booklet for this CD, a concept album based on a science fiction premise by Mack Maloney, author of the Wingman  and Spacehawks series and numerous other novels.

The cover I designed for the CD is below.  If you'll click on through to the CD's website, there's a nice Flash-based flip book there that shows the rest of the illustrations used in the booklet.  A little more than half of the illustrations are mine, as is all of the fontwork.  That's also some of my art being used for the backgrounds.



I've had the chance to preview some of the tracks on this CD, and I think it's a fine piece of work.  It features covers of some classic tunes by the likes of Pete Townsend and  Mike Rutherford, and a rockin' piece of original surf music with some great horn work by Amadee Castenell.  I think any fan of classic science fiction or progressive rock will be pleased by the total package of this CD; it's a delight for both the ear and the eye.
Be sure to head on over to the site to see how to get your hands on a copy.  Of course, I'd love to know what you think of it, especially the visuals, so feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment with your reviews.

15 April 2010

Raven Lunatic...

Here's a thing I'm testing.  Testing this thing I am.

Here's a thing I made.  Purty, ain't it?

13 April 2010

Madcap Update

I recently finished the art for a ten page story, "Madcap White Dancing" for the upcoming anthology, Kudzu Comics.  "Madcap..." is a semi-autobiographical / high fantasy story written by Ben Zuerlein.  The anthology is scheduled to be published soon by the Yoknapatawpha Art Council, and the art will be on display at the Powerhouse Art Gallery in Oxford, MS. 
I'd like to be able to be on hand myself, but that's a trip the budget will not support right now.  Nevertheless, if you're in the area, be sure to check out the display and feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you think of the work.  Also, keep an eye on Ben's site for availability of the Kudzu anthology.  I'll make another post here when it's available, but I'm sure he'll get to it before I do.
Meantime, here's a small sample of the work I did for the story.  The final art will be colored by Victor Claudio (you can see more of the color art at his site), but this is a 1/2 page of black and white art from the finished project.  Click the image to see more detail.

07 April 2010

FYI...

Because nobody asked....
You'd think that I'd own my own name as a domain, but I never thought to do it.  So if you go to www.mikedominic.com, it redirects you to this site.  Which is not me.  And slightly creepy, in my opinion.  But still...not me.

25 March 2010

Modok Madness!

April showers may bring May flowers, but did you know that March brings Modok Madness?  I did, and that's why I submitted a piece to the March Modok Madness blog! 
For those who don't know, Modok is a completely mental Lee and Kirby Marvel Comics character who was a frequent foe of the Avengers and their compatriots.  Like many of Marvel's best villians, he is utterly megalomaniacal, and an utter failure, despite having a mega genius mind and the physical prowess of a Mr. Potato Head.  How could a combination like that fail to take over the world?
The good folks over at March Modok Madness have taken it upon themselves to see that this would be dictator gets his due by calling all artists to submit their interpretations of the character to be published on the blog.  There's some wonderfully creative versions over there, such as the "Obamodok" and the Simpsons Universe Modok.  Spending some time browsing the pages is not only entertaining, but also gives a good idea of how many ways a simple character can be interpreted.

My own modified Modok is a slightly askance comment on the Disney Marvel acquisition, but the image below is only a teaser...to get the image in its full glory, you're going to have to click through to March Modok Madness.  What are you waiting for?  Go!

04 March 2010

They Can't All Be Zingers....

Almost finished with my current crop of deadlines; it'll soon be time for some downtime.  I think a lost weekend spent pursing the finer pleasures of scotch and Bioshock may be in order.  That is, unless something else comes along to keep me working.
Meantime, here's a sample of the stuff I'm currently working on.  This is part of a larger piece that I'm just finishing up.  This particular panel ended up not being used, not because it was particularly bad, just that it didn't match what the client was looking for in this shot.  Still, I think it's a nice perspective on the scene.  Click the image to see it in all it's black and white glory.
By the way...this is part of the piece that uses the texture I mentioned in my last post.



Want to be the one to keep me from getting any rest this month?  Use the email link to the left to contact me with an interesting project idea and a fistful of dollars, and I'll consider surrendering sleep, studio time and sundry other pleasures to your demands.

28 February 2010

Credit Where Credit's Due

I use a lot of resources, both online and off, in any finished work.  It might be reference photos from an old book, inspiration taken from a particular artist's style, or custom brushes and textures taken from online sources (such as DeviantArt).  A lot of these resources are released with an attribution licence, meaning that there's no cost to use them as long as you give credit to the creator.  Unfortunately, there's not always room or opportunity to give credit to so many people in the finished work. 
So, I've decided to create a section for this blog called "Resources" that will be a link catcher to give credit to those people who have (perhaps unknowingly) contributed to the success of some of my work.  Checking the "resources" tag will lead you to a listing of sources, tools and inspiration that may benefit any other creative types in my readership.  I recommend looking up any of them and seeing what they have to offer.

First up is a thank you to Enchantedgal-Stock at DeviantArt, who's Rainbow Splatter Paint Texture is going to save me a bunch of time on a project I'm finishing off this evening.  This seems like it should be a simple thing to create on my own, but given a deadline crunch, this will be invaluable in saving time on work and cleanup.  Thanks, Enchantedgal.

14 January 2010

Things Rank and Gross in Nature Possess it Merely...

Just for grins, I've added a widget that tracks my Alexa ranking; you can see it at the lower left.  As of this writing, I'm at 6,731,802, meaning that far from being a star of the internet, I'm ranked well below pretty much any furry message boards and sites for Star Trek slashfic. 
This is not an important number to me....I would rather a dozen important people (e.g. close friends, known associates and paying customers) read this blog on a regular basis than any million people give it three seconds worth of their attention, but I think this will be a fun little game to play, to see how low I can make that number go this year.  If anyone can make suggestions as to how to improve my ranking, please send them my way, and if they do not involve a massive outlay of cash or the sacrifice of a small animal, I'll take them into consideration.


In other news, who does NOT know about the situation in Haiti right now?  Take a country that's already been through a social, political and economic collapse, stir in the most powerful earthquake in 200 years and add a death toll to match many genocides, and you've got a recipe for disaster at its worst...and that's exactly what millions of people are living through right now.  Sometimes you've just got to set aside your political disagreements and realize that people need help. 
I'm not bragging when I say I've just made a donation to the Canadian Red Cross specifically for disaster relief in Haiti.  In lieu of actually being able to go and start cleaning up the mess myself, I can't think of a better way to help, and I strongly urge any reader to go and do the same.  You can go to the Canadian Red Cross donation page by clicking the Haitian crest below, or do a quick Google search for the Red Cross in your own country and make your donation there.  If you're like me, it's the best thing you'll do today.