Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hollywood Heroes Update #11: The Story So Far...

1943, somewhere on a small uncharted island off the coast of Africa...
"Behold! Za greatest veapon of za Sird Reich!"

Meanwhile, somewhere in the heart of Kansas, upon a hot, wooden stage, a handful of silver screen serial heroes gather for a War Bond rally.
Although the lot of them never quite reached the star status of the Phantom, the Shadow or even "Crash" Corrigan, to this crowd, they are all stars. Heroes.
Today, their names are legend.
William Waters, Olympic silver medal swimmer turned actor achieved fame in "The Underwater Empire" as the Atlantean hero the Blue Wave.
Sidney Rosenthal as the crimson-clad Latin swashbuckler El Royo.
Wally "Booster" Martin as the rocketeering Nightflyer.
Burt Barnes, aka the high-flying Captain Nighthawk.
Dylan Morrow, Olympic gold medal-winning archer as the Scarlet Archer.
The reclusive Richmond Kane as the mysterious Chimera.

And Jack Hart, the All-American Hero!
"Remember, kids, don't let the Nazis win! Get your parents to buy war bonds! It's the American way!"
And the crowd goes wild.

Hollywood Heroes Update #10

Meanwhile, somewhere in the heart of Kansas, a handful of silver screen serial heroes gather at a War Bond rally to the delight of a gathering crowd.For those of you keeping score, there are a few characters on that stage whom you might not know. I thought it would be cool to throw them in for flavor.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Laughing Boy

For those of you burned out on my Hollywood Heroes posts, here's something a bit different. For those of you who don't know him, this is my three-year-old son Atticus. I took this picture about a week ago and "painted" it with Microsoft Picture It.
His mother calls Atticus my Mini Me and it's not just because he looks so much like me, but because he's as big a super hero freak as I am.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Hollywood Heroes Update #9

Okay, this post is technically a Hollywood Heroes update, but it's a bit of a stretch. It's more just an excuse to show off a couple of drawings I did today. The one on your left is White Cherri, super spy sexpot extraordinaire and a possible player in a future sequel to Hollywood Heroes. "A sequel?" you ask. "But," you're thinking, "Hollywood Heroes isn't even in print yet!" Well, in the grand George Lucasian sense of the term sequel, White Cherri will possibly be appearing in book four(ish) of my ongoing series revolving around the rise of super heroes and the Martian invasion of over five hundred years ago, but likely I'll be dead before the book's ever done as it's taken me this long to even get book one started. Confused? Me too!

And to your right is my first attempt at the 1963(ish) variation of Marvel Comics' Black Widow (back when she was a bad girl manipulating that poor sap Hawkeye. This drawing, like the forthcoming painting, has been a long time coming. Google is good for a lot of things, but I'd had poor luck over the past year tracking down images of the femme fatal. I finally picked up the Iron Man Essentials Vol. I (half off, I might add) which, along with having some of my favorite stories of ol' Shell Head's early adventures, had ample images of the beautiful Russian she-spy.

On a related note, Nik Havert, whom I'm beginning to feel is the real nemesis, asked me why I haven't challenged Uko Smith to a Black Widow draw-off! My response? I'm not crazy! But, Uko, if you're reading this and you want to throw your hat into the ring, I'll be glad to email you some scans of Black Widow. Maybe we could do a set of drawings and auction them off somewhere for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. What do you say?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Hollywood Heroes Update #8

Prologue: 1943, somewhere on a small uncharted island off the coast of Africa...
"Behold! Za greatest veapon of za Sird Reich!"

'Nuff said, for now, boppers...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Motor City Madness '07 Review (The Short Version)

Top 10 Convention Moments of '07 (In some sort of order):

1. Upgrading to king-sized suites when the hotel realized they'd overbooked. Other than that, the hotel sucked.

2. Having Uko Smith refer to me as his nemesis.

3. Having Jay Fife refer to Uko as
my nemesis.

4. Witnessing Lou Ferrigno apparently escorting Seka back to her table.

5. Realizing I was taking a leak right next to Richard "Oscar Goldman" Anderson.

Not having the guy dressed up like Wonder Woman taking a leak next to me.

7. Mike Indovina begging "Don't eat me" after I explained my philosophy on food: If you're slower than me and stupider than me, pass the salt (Thank you, Anthony Bourdain).

8. Meeting the legendary Dick Ayers & buying an original original Ghost Rider sketch off of him for next to nothing!

9. Finally finding some decent images of the Black Widow's first costume!

10. "Sweet Christmas!" This awesome Power Man drinking glass! Pictured below filled with an inaugural bottle of LaBatts Blue.
Keep it here, boppers for more Motor City Madness!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hollywood Heroes Update #7

Good news, boppers! I've officially begun working on the pages of Hollywood Heroes.
Behold! Page one!
Okay, I know it's not much, but it's a start.
That's one down...39 more to go (approximately).
In this scene, it's 1943 and on a small, uncharted island off the coast of Africa, Nazi scientists have unearthed the Third Reich's ultimate weapon!

Keep it here, boppers, more pages to come!
Tell your friends this is where the cool kids hang out.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


At this year's Motor City Comicon, I officially started my dream sketchbook. My plan is to get pencil sketches of my favorite Marvel characters (circa 1963-65) by some of my favorite artists who also happen to be some of my favorite people. My goal is to find just the right artist for just the right character and who better to draw the original clunky ol' Iron Man armor than Jason Howard? I've long admired Jason's style for all things metallic and, when I gave him the choice between the original armor and, say, the sleeker version that it was soon modified into, he naturally chose the ol' iron pants version.
Above you can see Jason's fantastic original sketch, while below you can see the ink job I did to a copy of it. My dream sketchbook has two purposes. One is to gather sketches as I said before. The other is to give me a chance to ink their work.

Keep it here, boppers! More Motor City madness to come!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

"Hollywood Heroes" Update #6!

One of the best aspects of working on Hollywood Heroes is getting to use some previously created characters created by some friends of mine who also share a love for serial heroes. In a small way, using previously established characters such as these, although not actually created in the 1930s & '40s, seems to ground this project in that era. One such character is Mike Indovina's Chimera, first published by Mike in mini-comic format back in the 1990s before graduating to full-size comics.

Mike's love for pulp & serial-style heroes really comes through with the Chimera although the character isn't anything as simple as a pastiche of such iconic characters. Mike toils over his plots and characterization like no one else I know and the end result is worth his mental anguish. When Richard Penn dons the mask and fedora of the Chimera, a pulp character created by his grandfather decades earlier, Richard takes on the persona of the masked mystery man. Complete with a "flashgun" and a not-so-typical "girl Friday" who shares the same last name as the pulp hero's assistant, Penn slugs his way through the crime ways of Mike's fertile imagination.

I had the privilege of working with Mike on an upcoming issue of the Chimera, a book he'd waited patiently for me to angle enough free time to work on, which is kind of ironic as I'd pestered him for quite sometime to relaunch the character. So, when I began to work on Hollywood Heroes, I was thrilled that Mike was gracious enough to allow me to continue drawing the Chimera in my own book. But to further add to the Chimera's already complex history, I added a twist of my own.

Richmond Kane, reclusive actor and conspiracy theorist not only played the Chimera in such Saturday morning serials as "The Chimera Strikes" and "The Chimera vs. Doctor Satanic," but played a number of other roles as well, including co-staring with the lovely Kay Campbell in "Tasma the Congo Queen & the Pharaoh of Fear" where the two shared a romantic, off-camera interlude. Smelling a good mystery, when Kane was asked to join the Hollywood Heroes he was on board quicker than a flash from his flashgun which was supplied to him by the team's inventor Professor Armstrong. Jack Hart, the All-American Hero might be the team's heart, but the Chimera is its brains.

Keep checking in, boppers, more updates are right around the corner. Don't worry, there's a black & white Tasma coming soon.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

"Hollywood Heroes" Update #5!

Something occur ed to me this afternoon while working on concept drawings for Hollywood Heroes. I've never considered this book to be anything but a black & white comic book to keep it in the vein of the old Saturday morning serial of the 1930s & 40s. While designing a character, I kind of have an idea of what color they'd be "in reality," but I've never considered, until working on Jack Hart, the All American Hero, what their colors would look like in black & white.
Confused? There's more. Now I'm considering gray tones for the book. I've always figured, most cases, gray tones overpower the artwork too much. I'm not knockin' gray tone artists, but sometimes editors/writers/the-powers-that-be allow them to flex their skills and sometimes the two don't mesh. The task I'm now considering is finding a gray tone artist that I think will work well with my style (such as it is). That, or do it myself. The trick I'm imposing on myself is making the grays look like movie grays and not artist strokes.

In the meantime, while I toil over it, enjoy a little comparison and let me know what you think.

"Hollywood Heroes" Update #4!

The trouble as I see it with creating a patriotic superhero is that they've been done to death. You name it, someone's already using the name you want or the costume you've so carefully created so as to not infringe on any others is too close to someone you've never heard of. And as for naming them, forget about it. Captain America, Super Patriot, Commander Steel are just a few of the better ones and the number of variances thereof are incalculable. So, when you want to create a classic-looking patriotic serial hero, what do you do? I just said "to hell with it" and did what I wanted. I went with a more subdued-looking stars & stripes type that has some obvious influences in the serials the likes of which you, the reader can toil over. The serials, after all, were black and white, so garbing Jack Hart, the All American Hero in too flashy an outfit would be just a waste.

So, who is Jack Hart, you ask? What separates Hart from the other Hollywood Heroes and other actual serial heroes for that matter is that Jack Hart the actor and the All-American Hero are one in the same. In much the same way Bill Boyde and Hopalong Cassidy were one in the same, Jack Hart is the All-American Hero. Everywhere Jack goes, he goes as Jack Hart, the All-American Hero, signing autographs and telling kids everywhere to get their parents to buy war bonds.

Strong as an ox and as determined as the American spirit he symbolizes, Jack Hart is a natural leader if not a bit too gung-ho. With a .45 on his hip, Jack Hart, the All-American Hero foiled many a dastardly plot by enemy saboteurs every Saturday morning and so, when his country called, Jack Hart the man didn't hesitate to become a true Hollywood Hero.

Don't worry about that ridiculous-looking mask, it's just for show.

Monday, May 07, 2007

"Hollywood Heroes" Update #3!

And the updates just keep on coming!
Equally as important to the team as her pilot Captain Nighthawk is...The Nighthawk herself, a one-of-a-kind prototype airplane based on the models used in the Captain Nighthawk serials. Lightweight and built for long range, the Nighthawk can land on water as well as land. Her dark colors and whisper-quiet engines make her nearly invisible in the night sky as she delivers her payload against tyranny.
Wally "Booster" Martin might be the shortest and most reluctant member of the Hollywood Heroes, but his daring soon knows no height as he straps on a working model of the jet pack he wore as "The Nightflyer, Vigilante of the Skies!" Along with his astonishing jet pack, Martin packs a mini-flamethrower as a sidearm against those who would appose liberty.

And, of course it wouldn't be an update without at least one Tasma picture.Keep swingnin' in and checkin' it out, boppers.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

"Hollywood Heroes" Update #2!

I've always felt that the non-powered or gadget-based members of DC's Justice Society of America would've translated beautifully into serial form. Flash Gordon had Prince Vulcan, so why not a Hawkman? Wildcat & Atom just wore costumes and beat the hell out of guys and what was more "serial" than that? But, Dr. Midnite would've been the best. So, while creating my "Hollywood heroes," there may be a little JSA influence shining through, particularly in the persona of Captain Nighthawk, an obvious nod to Midnite. Since he's the pilot of the team, zooming our heroes around in a prototype airplane (The Nighthawk), I also thought of doing an homage to Captain Midnight.

Burt Barnes, originally a circus barnstormer, turned his skills to stunt work in the serials before staring in his own as "Captain Nighthawk, Vigilante of the Skies." An ace pilot and a crack shot with a .45, Barnes was recruited into the Hollywood Heroes as the team's pilot, flying them around in a one-of-a-kind replica of his trademark Nighthawk. Barnes is a chain smoking daredevil who lives to fly.
It's been a dream of mine to do something with Tasma since Ken published her first (and only) adventure, "The Pharaoh of Fear," back in B-Movie Presents #3 in 1986. So, any chance I get, I'll gladly post whatever pin-up of her I've got lying around.
One addition I added to Tasma's character is her trained tiger, pictured above. I was actually going to crop it out of this image because it kinda looks more like a Guinea pig than a ferocious tiger, but, what the hell, it's my first attempt at drawing a tiger.

So, who is Tasma, you ask, or at least my version of Tasma? Kay Campbell, military brat and third-place winner for Miss America, turned her obvious beauty into a lucrative career as an actress, starring as Tasma the Congo Queen in a number of serials. But when her country went to war, Campbell stepped out of in front of the camera to get behind one herself and became an award-winning photojournalist. Recruited into the Hollywood Heroes as the team's photographer, Campbell's skills with a knife, gun and Judo prove invaluable.

Keep it here, boppers.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Hollywood Heroes Update #1

For the past few years, I've had the pleasure of working with some really great and talented people in the indie comic book scene who've helped me sharpen my skills as an artist and visual storyteller. During that time, I've been wanting to work on my own projects as well, but aside from painting, so far that hasn't really happened, not that I'm complaining. While trying to come up with an idea that I could stick with, I came up with a helluva lot of 'em that just went nowhere. Through them all, though, there seemed to be a few prevailing themes. I wanted to do a period piece, something with old-fashioned pulp-style heroes and Martians. That's right, I said Martians. Finally, something jelled and "The Hollywood Heroes" was born (No relation to Robert "Hollywood" Swinton).
So far, I've plotted out over half of the book, which will be a self-contained story with no current page count in mind. When it's done, it'll be done. The story revolves around the dark days of World War II, a morale-boosting photo opportunity gone terribly awry with a handful of Saturday morning serial heroes and, you guessed it...Martians.

Anyone who knows me knows about my love for the Saturday morning serials of the 1930s & 1940s, so when it came time to create architypes of those heroes of yesterday, it wasn't an easy task. I would like to thank my long-lost good friend Ken Holewczynski for letting me use his character Tasma the Congo Queen (pictured below), and Mike Indovina for letting me use a version of his character The Chimera. Mike, who knows more about the serials than I do, is also responsible, in part for Nightflyer, having coaxed me into using a jetpack-wearing character, which actually brought the story together in a weird way. I'm happy to announce that Mike has also agreed to letter the book, something I definately wasn't looking foreward to.In the future, I'll be posting updates regarding the status of the project, including character sketches like the ones you've seen above and, eventually, actual pages, so keep it here, boppers.