That’s why the lady is a vamp…

I am notable in that I am one of the few people in all of geekdom who has not seen Ed Wood but has seen Plan 9 From Outer Space. Someone lent it to me recently, so I was inspired to draw Vampira:

This was sketched in pen (no preliminary pencils of any kind) on a piece of scratch paper, and touched up a bit in Photoshop. If you look carefully, you can see some text gibberish in her hair–I could have cleaned it up, but decided that it gave the piece an interesting quality. In retrospect, the text is so tiny, I don’t think it makes a difference one way or another. When I drew this I wasn’t looking at any reference, and with that in mind I think its a halfway decent likeness. I don’t know what made me color the picture monochrome, but I think it worked out alright.

And now, a five second review!

* * *

Plan 9 From Outer Space (Available on DVD)

For those who have not seen Plan 9 From Outer Space, I just want to say that it is far from being one of the worst films of all time. It is filled with flaws, riddled with continuity errors, and is unintentionally laughable. In spite of all that, or because of all that, it’s still, like, totally watchable. In fact the pacing in Plan 9 has better pacing than most of the movies I’ve seen in the past two and a half years. No joke!

Verdict: Awesome. Vampira! Tor Johnson! The best narrator ever! Bela Lugosi! Sort Of!

For More B-Movie Awesomeness: An Italian movie from 1963, Atom Age Vampire is a work of genius!

BONUS POST: What Time Is It???

I have been meaning to put this post up forever–old chum Gavin linked me to a video on Youtube. What follows is an animated short of minimalist cartooning and absurdist humor, in the most awesome form ever. Rather than rambling on in my usual manner, I will let the video speak for itself–you would be doing yourself a great disservice to not hear what it has to say. Ladies and gentlemen, Adventure Time:

For more on Adventure Time:

“He’s like fifty patoots!”

Another Dude With An Axe!

(Posted early cuz i feel like it, sucka!)

Another Masters of the Universe action figure variant re-purposed (by me) into a new character. It’s the opposite number to last week’s Battle Armor Skeletor re-vamp, Battle Armor He-Man, reborn as “Battle-Scar,” for obvious reasons:

click above for larger view

On the one hand, I think I more or less got across what I was trying to with this piece. On the other hand, I think it greatly suffers because I have not yet posted an illustration of He-Man proper, for comparison. I need to remedy that soon. In the meantime, I’ll just have to point out the differences that would be apparent if I’d had the foresight to finish a pic of He-Man first. Lame!

Anyways, where He-Man has blonde hair and orange (copper?) bracers & belt, Battle-Scar is strawberry blonde, and has gold bracers & belt. I’ve given Battle-Scar pale skin and blue eyes, in contrast to the cartoon version of He-Man, who had dark eyes, and deeply tanned skin. The idea was to give Battle-Scar more of a Celtic or Nordic look (which is where his title of Berserker comes in as well). In terms of facial features, the cartoon depicted He-Man with more or less classic good looks–in comparative nerd terms this means that if you ignore his coloration and haircut, he pretty much looks just like Superman. I gave Battle-Scar a face that was a little closer to the rough-hewn looks of the toy. His armor is slashed and dented, to represent the battle-damage gimmick of the toy, and the scars on his body were added to continue the theme and give a visual cue as to his ability to take punishment (more in the profile below). On its own, I think this character re-mix comes off as just a version of He-Man, but once I post my take on He-Man, hopefully the differences will be more apparent.

My drawing is a little static, but hopefully it gets across the idea of raw power that I was going for. No characters with axes next week–I promise!

* * *

PROFILE: Young, loyal to a fault, and still somewhat naive, BATTLE-SCAR is nevertheless a veteran of the battlefield. Even before he obtained his magical breastplate, Battle-Scar was well known for taking heaps of punishment on the battlefield. His immense stamina and resistance to pain are magnified to demi-god levels by the breastplate.

Ostensibly, Battle-Scar was the first member of the entity that would become affectionately known to the populace of Eternia as TEAM GRAYSKULL, named so by Orko, much to the chagrin of their reluctant field commander THUNDER PUNCH. It is notable that Battle-Scar is the only member of the core team who is not a blood descendant of King Grayskull.

HISTORY: Years ago in the northern lands, the boy who would become known as Battle-Scar watched as He-Man saved his village from a brutal attack by Skeletor’s forces. This left an indelible mark on the youth, and he strove to live up to He-Man’s example of bravery and honor. Thus when word of He-Man’s disappearance spread, Battle-Scar (now a young yet experienced warrior) wasted no time, travelling to Eternos immediately to pay his respects to his missing (and possibly fallen) hero and offer his axe in service to Eternos and Castle Grayskull.

Initially He-Man’s allies were unsure of what to do with the young scarred warrior who stood before them. Teela decided to consult the Sorceress, and was bringing Battle-Scar to Castle Grayskull, when they were attacked by a platoon of evil Horde robots. Teela and Battle-Scar managed to fight them off long enough to retreat into the safety of Castle Grayskull’s dark halls. However, more Horde Robots were on the way, Teela had been gravely injured during the battle, and Battle-Scar’s axe was shattered, and his armor was blasted to pieces. The Sorceress saw to Teela’s wounds and lead Battle-Scar into a room pulsing with magical energies–the armory of King Grayskull himself!

“According to prophecy, only the just and even-handed–those worthy of King Grayskull–may wield these implements of war,” the Sorceress told him, “choose wisely, young warrior!” Battle-Scar was humbled beyond words–he could not bring himself to even touch the magnificent arms and armor before him. Everything was elaborately crafted and intricately inlaid with precious metals and gems. He spotted a dusty breastplate and axe in the corner; unlike the other items, these were plain and ungilded. The axe was rough and worn from use, the breastplate marred by slashes and dents, and marked with an ancient heraldic symbol of Grayskull’s line. In spite of their obvious wear, both were sturdy, and well-crafted–they would serve his purpose. Battle-Scar hastily equipped the breastplate and axe, promising the Sorceress that he would return them as soon as the battle was over. As Battle-Scar ran to the Jaw-Bridge, the richly crafted weapons shimmered and faded–in their place was a collection of humbler, and yet more powerful implements–like the axe and breastplate that Battle-Scar had chosen, these were the true weapons of Grayskull’s armory. Sorceress smiled to herself, “Well done, young warrior.”

Now armed and clad like a god of war, Battle-Scar dispatched the Horde robots easily. After the battle, Battle-Scar attempted to return his newfound weapons. The Sorceress explained to him that he truely was one of Grayskull’s chosen defenders, and Battle-Scar pledged himself to defend Castle Grayskull until He-Man returned.

* * *

In case anyone didn’t pick up on it, the whole “choose wisely” bit is totally lifted from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Also posted on the He-Man.org fan-art forums. The thread is here and the post is here.

For my other “new characters from old variants” posts:

Necessary Evil Character Files (Part 3 of 7): Asian American Ninja

Another entry in my series of character designs for Josh‘s upcoming comic Necessary Evil. Today’s character is another student at the Necessary Evil Academy, Sol:

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On the surface, she seems like a typical teenager, maybe a little shy. Get on her bad side, and you’ll quickly discover that you’re dealing with one of the deadliest assasins around. As Jacob and Miller begin carving out out a niche for themselves at the Necessary Evil Academy, Sol quickly becomes an integral part of their group of friends and allies.

Ask your local comic shop to order Necessary Evil #1. It’s on page 265 of August’s Previews catalog, and the Diamond order number is aug07 3547. And after you’ve done that, add Necessary Evil as your friend on MySpace.

Previous Necessary Evil posts:

I’ll be taking a brief break from the Necessary Evil Character Files, and resuming when the book’s release date is closer. Stay tuned!

This Is Not A Good Title.

One of the websites that I would have normally used (to link useful reference pictures of action figures and so forth) was unavailable at the time of this post. I will update later when the site has returned. UPDATE: links to Battle Armor Skeletor and Accessory Pack added.

Another Masters of the Universe action figure variant re-purposed (by me) into a new character, this time it’s Battle Armor Skeletor, now known as “Armorax.” The name Armorax was just a last minute portmanteau of the words ‘armor’ and ‘axe.’

click above for larger view

The first thing that strikes me is the alarming similarity between the pose on this one and last Tuesday’s post. O_O This was totally unintentional and all I can say in my defense is that the two pieces were not drawn consecutively, and both were inked and scanned months and months ago. The posting of the two pieces in such close proximity is an oversight on my part–I have to admit, over the past several months I’ve been drawing dozens and dozens of gestures for He-Man characters (many of which have not been completed/posted yet) and it’s getting hard to come up with original poses. I can at least promise you that the next few He-Man illustrations will have varying poses.

Back to Armorax–the weapon he’s holding is somewhat based on an axe that Skeletor used in the pilot episode of the series, “The Diamond Ray of Disappearace.” I also had in mind the blue axe from the Accessory Pack. He has a bonus bat-cape to match my illustration of Skeletor, though Armorax’s cape is shorter because Skeletor outranks him (more on that in the bio below). Armorax has a “normal face” but wears a skull mask to show his allegiance to Skeletor (more on that in the bio as well). The idea is that he is from the same race as Skeletor, but lacks the mutation/deformity that Skeletor is cursed with. I also wanted to show some battle damage as a nod to the original action figure (whose chest armor would show gashes upon impact) but at the same time, I didn’t want to obscure the cool bat symbol too much. As a compromise, I gave him a nasty gash in his skull mask.

As for colors, the only noteworthy deviation from the original is the mask itself. I gave Armorax a mask of bleached bone to distinguish him from Skeletor’s yellowed skull.

* * *

PROFILE: Brash, cruel, and arrogant, ARMORAX is the perfect champion for Skeletor’s Elite. He is a virtually unparalleled melee fighter and combat spellcaster, and an excellent field tactician, though slightly lacking in experience. His chestplate, enchanted with his own dark magicks, provides him almost unlimited protection from physical attacks. His axe, imbued with sorcerous power by the evil powers of Infinita itself, is an artifact that was awarded to him by Skeletor himself. According to various rumors, his skull mask hides a horribly scarred face, or grants him the fighting spirit of a demon, or both. Neither of these rumors are true–in fact, he wears the mask as a sincere tribute to his master and mentor Skeletor, and his combat abilities are born of training and intuition. The scar on the mask comes from a particularly intense sparring session with Skeletor himself, and Armorax brandishes it proudly.

HISTORY: Skeletor’s Elite are a group of cabalistic disciples, trained by Skeletor himself. Perpetually distrustful of his lieutenants (and with good cause), Skeletor formed this loyal, tight-knit inner circle to seize the reins of power in the event of his extended absense. With the disappearance of He-Man and Skeletor, the Elite have revealed themselves, much to the dismay of Skeletor’s highest ranking evil warriors, Evil-Lyn in particular. Armorax was one of the first recruits, and of the first wave, the only to survive the fatal rigours of Skeletor’s training regimen. His loyalty to Skeletor is absolute, however he was dismayed to learn that being Skeletor’s named champion did not also grant him a position as leader of the Elite. TERROR CLAW received that honor, and Armorax is constantly smouldering with fury over this appointment. Armorax’s resentment of Terror Claw is a fracture in the Elite that Evil-Lyn has picked up on, and intends to exploit.

* * *

Also posted on the He-Man.org fan-art forums. The thread is here and the post is here.

For my other “new characters from old variants” posts:

Necessary Evil Character Files (Part 2 of 7): Mean Girl

(Posted early cause I gots too much to do, and time’s a wastin’!)

Another entry in my series of character designs for Josh‘s upcoming comic Necessary Evil. Today’s character is Stacy Trax:

click above for larger view

Stacy is a student who attends the Necessary Evil Academy. She’s the archetypical spoiled rich girl–vain, manipulative, cruel, and selfish–and she’s set her sights on one of the twins. What will the brothers do when she tries to come between them? Stacy is featured on the cover of Necessary Evil #2, drawn by the excellent Todd Nauck:

click above for larger view

Ask your local comic shop to order Necessary Evil #1. It’s on page 265 of August’s Previews catalog, and the Diamond order number is aug07 3547. And after you’ve done that, add Necessary Evil as your friend on MySpace.

Previous Necessary Evil posts:

DISASTER!

Something is apparently wrong with my hosting… images are loading slowly, or not at all. I will look into this and fix it ASAP. Sorry for the inconvenience!

UPDATE: I have no idea what’s wrong. It looks like all images are loading now, but slowly. If there are any tech-heads out there, I’d be glad to entertain theories.

UPDATE on the UPDATE: Erm… the problem fixed itself. No clue what happened there. O_O

The Savage Sword of… ?

After many weeks devoid of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, I present to you a drawing of the rare and mysterious action figure known colloquially among fans as “Savage He-Man.” The figure is also known by the far less glamorous moniker, “Wonder Bread He-Man” by virtue of having been a mail-in offer from the eponymous, um… bread. The fact that this figure was available through an offer from Wonder Bread is about all people can agree on. The concrete details of how, when, or why, are apparently forever lost to the forgotten mists of the early 80′s.

My version of “Savage He-Man” has been re-purposed into a new character, just as I did with Starburst She-Ra several months ago.

click above for larger view

The visual details of Savage are largely the same. The contrast between the color of his hair and the color of his furry underpants is greater than in the toy, but I think it helps break up the monotony. I chose to interpret the toy’s ruddy brown weapons as blood-stained tools of destruction. The blood stains were accomplished by choosing a “spatter” shaped brush in Photoshop and messing around with the shape dynamics and scatter settings. It doesn’t completely blend with my style of rendering, but I’m happy with how it turned out because I basically accomplished what I was trying to do. Actually, I had a few options on how to render the weapons, and it was friend Annie (who was hanging out whilst I was coloring this) who challenged me to do it this way. If not for her I would have tried to take the easy way out. She also suggested that his eyes be hazel, and they are.

I have alternating feelings of lukewarmth and satisfaction towards the drawing itself. As far as proportions, the arms are far more ape-like than I intended. The right arm in particular is terribly awkward, even beyond the usual level of awkwardness resulting from my loosey-goosey depiction of anatomy. On the other hand, the intensity of his expression is about what I was aiming for.

Oh, by the way, the title of this post, and Savage’s “Heroic Barbarian” tag, are both references to Conan the Barbarian–according to rumor, Masters of the Universe was originally intended to be a Conan toyline, but was repurposed into an “original” franchise, for whatever reason. Fans speculate that the “Savage He-Man” toys may have been discarded “Conan” figures that were produced before Conan “became” He-Man.

But, what’s this you say, dear reader? It has been far too long since I posted a painstakingly written bio of a fan character? Read on!

* * *

PROFILE: SAVAGE is a ruthless and experienced warrior who has little use for words. He fights with whatever tools he has at hand, or his bare fists if need be, and is a master of improvisation and opportunism. Savage is a capable tracker, and is well versed in jungle survival techniques. Superficially, his cultural differences alienate him from some of his allies, but his sincere sense of honor and valor are deeply respected by all.

HISTORY: The disappearance of He-Man and the Horde invasion of Eternia have left the planet in dire need of heroes. Teela, now developing her latent spellcasting abilities under the tutelage of the Sorceress, found herself isolated and outnumbered by Horde troops. In desperation, and lacking control over her newly emerging abilities, she attempted to summon He-Man by magical means. A mis-wording of her incantation resulted in summoning not He-Man himself, but one ‘as good as’ or ‘as noble as’ He-Man. Thus emerged the hulking barbarian Savage–with his sheer power to compliment Teela’s skill, the Horde Troops were easily dispatched. Though Savage was displeased at being summoned without any choice in the matter, he was taken by Teela’s beauty and fought alongside the forces of Eternos (the Eternian capital) for a time. Coming to terms with the fact that Teela was still infatuated with this so-called He-Man whom he had never met, Savage travelled back to his distant jungle home. Savage remains an ally of Eternos, and is leading his people in fortifying their territories against the inevitable spread of the Horde army.

* * *

Also posted on the He-Man.org fan-art forums. The thread is here.

Necessary Evil Character Files (Part 1 of 7): WE’RE TWINS!!!

(Posted slightly early, because I feel like it.)

Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned my buddy Josh‘s upcoming comic Necessary Evil? Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting the character designs that I did for Josh, talking a little bit about the characters and plot of Necessary Evil, and reminding you ever so subtly to ask your local comic shop to order Necessary Evil #1 (which just so happens to be in this month’s Previews catalog). Oh, and before I start plugging the comic, in the interest of full disclosure, I ought to mention that Josh is crediting me as editor. But I don’t get any money from Necessary Evil, so I hope you’ll take my recommendation of the book sincerely.

First up, the main characters–twin brothers, Jacob and Miller.

click above for larger view

Jacob and Miller are the sons of the Matriarch, a woman widely regarded as the world’s greatest super-villain until her untimely death at the hands of a super-hero. Years after the death of their mother, the twins receive an invitation to attend the Necessary Evil Academy, a school for super villains. This school becomes Jacob and Miller’s introduction into the world of heroes and villains and serves as the keystone of the series. The twins are polar opposites–where Jacob is cautious, reluctant, and unsure of fulfilling his villainous heritage, Miller is wreckless, bloodthirsty, and eager to prove himself. In spite of their differences, the boys are fiercely loyal to each other, and over the course of their stay at the Necessary Evil Academy, that loyalty will be tested again and again.

Necessary Evil is published by Desperado, and the first issue ships in October. You can read an article about Desperado right here on Newsarama. It includes a brief mention of Necessary Evil!

Pssst… go ask your local comic shop to order Necessary Evil #1. It’s on page 265 of August’s Previews, and the Diamond order number is aug07 3547.

See, real subtle like.

Welcome Back Potter

To (belatedly) commemorate the release of the final Harry Potter book, I present to you, the boy who lived…

Harry and the Snitch were sketched out in blue pencil, inked with an extra fine Pilot V Ball Grip pen, and then scanned and colored in Photoshop. The castle in the background (presumably Hogwarts) was drawn in Photoshop with the pencil tool. Quidditch is probably my least favorite part of the Harry Potter mythos, but giving Harry a broom to hold and adding a Golden Snitch zipping by gave this little picture just the extra oomph it needed. At least, that’s what I think. The linework on this one is pretty coarse, but I’m happy with the composition, even if it is a little busy. I’m satisfied with my color choices, but there’s something missing. I think perhaps I should have done more rendering. Thoughts?

As for my review of the book itself, please step into…

THE SPOILER ZONE
Turn back now, lest ye be spoiled forever! Seriously.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (759 pages, $34.99–but available for much less just about anywhere)

Dang, Dumbledore is actually dead! See, when I say spoiler zone, I mean business. I’m not just spoiling for the sake of spoiling–I actually have a point to make here. The past few books in the Harry Potter series (Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, and Half-Blood Prince) were all plagued by over-hype–particularly in regards to the supposedly climactic deaths of supposedly “main” characters. The deaths of Cedric Diggory and Sirius Black in Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix, respectively, were so anti-climactic, that when Dumbledore died in Half-Blood Prince, I assumed it was a fake-out, and I was positive Dumbledore would just “pull a Gandalf” and show up in the next book. How wrong I was! The fact that J.K. Rowling really did kill off Dumbledore not only makes it clear that she was “playing for keeps” in the final book, it also redeems Half-blood Prince, which, up until now, I had been dismissing as yet another anti-climactic cop-out.

I can accept that future generations of readers will be able to explore the series sans-hype, and many may even find the deaths of Cedric and Sirius to be meaningful and poignant. And, having now read the entire series, I only have two real complaints about the franchise– 1) J.K. Rowling gave us an expanded view of international wizardry in Goblet of Fire, which made the possibilities of that world seem endless. Unfortunately she never made any real use of this. In fact, in Order of the Phoenix the world view instantly shrank back to provincial boundaries, and I found myself constantly wondering why non-British wizards never stepped in as the Ministry of Magic began to rapidly adopt alarmingly fascist policies. 2) No explanation as to why James Potter was a total douche-bag, and no indication that he ever redeemed himself, or that Lily married him for any reason other than to piss of her former BFF. WTF, J.K. Rowling?

But, aside from my complaints, Deathly Hallows exceeded my expectations and desires. The explanation of Snape’s allegiance, the revelation of Petunia’s secret shame, Voldemort and Harry mano-a-mano at last, and the redemption of the Malfoys–plenty of memorable moments. As always J.K. Rowling’s writing style was easy to digest, and this volume, in particular, was less exposition-y in its explanations.

Verdict: Awesome. Possibly my favorite in the series, the other candidate being Prisoner of Azkaban. Deathly Hallows is a return to form for J.K. Rowling, and provides a structured and satisfying resolution to the story of Harry Potter.

For More Serialized Fantasy Targeted at Young Adults: Try Artemis Fowl novels by Eoin Colfer, or the manga series Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto.

Unrelated Topics: Comic-Con and comic Conan

As promised, here is a post rife with complete sentences, as well as a Comic-Con wrap-up. First up, the last illustration from the commisioned project where I was asked to depict a few distinct TV characters–my favorite talk show host, Conan O’Brien:

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Same technique on this one as the previous few–inked with Tombo brush pen and Sakura microns, followed by obsessive Photoshop touch-up and coloring. The colors on this piece don’t quite gel. They get the idea across well enough, but there’s something subtley lacking. In that respect this piece shows its age–I think I’d do a better job on the colors today. Incidentally, this and the Mr. T sketch from tuesday, were both drawn years before Mr. T became a semi-regular on Conan. MY DRAWRINS’ PREDICTED THE FUTURE!

So, Comic-Con. It was a decent show–crowded, but manageable (unlike last year). For me, Comic-Con is always a very surreal event–every fifteen minutes I’m running into someone I know, very often someone who I haven’t seen for years. For example, literally, within five minutes of stepping into the convention hall to pick up my badge, I ended up talking to someone who I haven’t seen since college (closing in on 8-9 years). It’s nice running in to some familiar faces, and its always cool to meet new creative people too, and get excited about drawing and writing. However, talking too much and being in a dry air-conditioned environment for four and a half days straight left my throat pretty messed up. Enough about my ridiculously frail constitution! The highlights:

  • Vinny drew me an awesome sketch of Skeletor–I will post it in the near future.
  • The Tired Girl Collective was joined by the very lovely Anna Woltz. Anna had a button that read “Frodo” but looked like the Ford logo, so naturally, I bought one.
  • “Hand-wrestling” featuring super-posable cardboard robot action figure thingees. It basically amounted to videos of a person’s hands making two cardboard robots “wrestle.” It’s ridiculous, I don’t understand the point of it, but the robots are awesome. Check out Kami-Robo.
  • Samurai cats in the style of traditional Japanese ukiyo-e prints. Verbal description doesn’t do it justice–good sense requires you to visit the website of Moira Hahn.
  • Martin Hsu‘s art really caught my eye, as did Seth Reek‘s. Let your eyes soak in their talent.
  • I bought the volume of Dungeon that I was missing, King City (review on its way), and an advance copy of Comic Foundry.
  • Jacob, who is both a Prince, and a Scholar, picked up this Transformers exclusive for me, so I didn’t even have to wait in line!

Phew. Enough of that! Comic-Con 2008 will be upon us before we know it. Onward, to the future, dear reader!

(Next Post: Harry Potter!)