Well, it’s been almost a month since I had my cardiac bypass surgery, and I’ve been back in my Batcave studio some working on another sketchcover. It’s been good to be drawing and updating my sites again, but I have to pace myself. I get tired a lot quicker than I used to, and it can be uncomfortable to sit for any length of time. I got a new pillow and have it on my chair to help me sit up a bit straighter- which helps a lot. Overall I’m feeling much better, but occasionally I’ll do something or move a certain way that reminds me I had my leg and chest cut on recently! Hiccups and sneezes have become my mortal enemies. I’ll have an occasional mysterious bruise pop up in strange places, but the majority of the main bruising from the surgery has started to fade and gone from black and blue to green and yellow with some spotty purples..!
I get a bit stir crazy being in the house, and look forward to any trips to the grocery store, Walmart, comic shops, or even going out to check the mail. The weather here has been gorgeous this last month, and I really hate that I wasn’t at work during it. I know that sounds crazy, but when you work without A/C at a day job- days that are in the 60’s-70’s are so welcomed.
I have been lucky enough to have had get well cards and guano deliveries from friends, and even had some Area 51 Ice Cream specially delivered by Batman! I was supposed to draw at their Super Hero Day and new location grand opening, but had just been released from the hospital so I had to cancel. Luckily they were able to get my friend Lonnie “Spud Comics” Easterling to fill in.
No driving for me, yet. I still have to keep my pillow handy while riding in the car. Next week I have my doctor’s appointment to find out about it and when I can go back to work and drive. Will also have my first day of physical rehab that morning. Even though the time is going by pretty quickly, it’s hard to believe all this happened last month.
Speaking of last month, before my surgery I finished the Mark Hamill/Trickster sketchcover for the Comic Book Central‘s 4th anniversary giveaway on Ep, 200. Mark was one of the big special guests on the show last year, and one of my favorite interviews host Joe Stuber did (Ep. 163). I’m a big fan of the original Flash TV series, and love that they’ve worked several of the original series actors into the new CW series (Supergirl has as well). I figured The Trickster from the older series and the latest from Earth-3 would be fun to combine on a comic (you can see how I did that sketchcover here).
While doing some research on photo reference for Mark as The Trickster I ran across sever images of John Wesley Shipp from both series. I was going to do shots from all his incarnations on the shows but decided on going with the current Earth-3 CW version instead. (You can hear Joe interview JWS on CBC’s Ep. 96 and Ep. 146.)
I started off by cropping my photo reference in Photoshop and then lightboxing the figures into place on the comic. When I use the lightbox (or a projector when painting) it’s mostly for getting the composition/sizing down right, and I just do rough outlines to show me where the images need to be. It helps to position the figures around bar-codes and masthead logos. I don’t always lightbox (especially on robots or creatures or doing sketchcards or con-sketches), and always draw the majority of the art by hand with pencil. It’s just easier than trying to make out details on a print out through the comic cover stock- just too thick to make out and trace fuzzy details. It’s less of a headache and more accurate for me to sketch it out while looking at the photo. When I paint, being able to move the projector closer or farther away from the canvas can help crop the image into a more dynamic painting and interesting composition.
Once I had the pencil drawing to where I was happy with it I started in with some flesh-tone Copic Markers and doing some of the under-painting.
I then continued onto the back figures with more beige, skin white, brown, and other flesh/earth-tones shaping up the shading. I usually use a red-brown color to work out my drawings when I’m airbrushing in color, and tend to use more dark brown, purple, and blue for shadows instead of black. It just tends to keep the colors from looking flat to me. On this paper-stock I had a hard time getting good shadows. I tried several times to get the flesh-tones to go a bit darker in the shadow areas and they just kept going lighter. It happens sometimes.
After doing the belt in brown and the roughing in the shading for the red areas of the jacket, I started using a few reds and pinks to bring it to life.
I then started coloring in the blue on the suit, plus more yellows to the gold trim and adding more colors to the helmet and jacket. I used a few Letraset and Prismacolor markers here and there when needed. A few of my Copics have run dry and I won’t have any refills until Christmas.
I filled in the background with about 3 different shades of cool grey- broad and brush tip Copics. Kept debating whether to go with a yellow, light blue, or grey background. After asking my wife’s opinion I went with the grey she liked.
I used Pigma Micron pens (#3) to ink the line-work. I tried to go easy on the inking on this one, and let more of the markers do the work.
For the white highlights I used a Gelly Roll pen and a Prismacolor pencil. Also used some Copic White.
After adding in the lightning, doing a bit of touching up here and there, and trying to get the flesh-tones a bit darker I finally called this one done.
I had a lot of fun working on this one, and got a big kick out of John Wesley Shipp commenting on it on Facebook and Twitter.
I got to meet JWS in 2012 back at a small comic show up in Metropolis, IL. He was going to be at Cape-Con in Cape Girardeau, MO one year when we were, but his flight got cancelled due to really bad weather. We were all under tornado warnings while in Cape, and back home the Memphis area was flooding!
Yesterday Nicki and I dropped the Flash comic and a few of my sketchcards off at The Cellar in Bartlett, TN (a suburb of Memphis). Back in the mid-70s I lived just up the street and bought my first comic at a 7-11 about a mile up the road.
I’ve got a few of my other sketchcovers on sale there, along with a few other local artists. You can find them in one of the front display cases.
If you’re out towards Bartlett, check out the new location. It’s at 2737 Bartlett Blvd, between Stage Road and Bartlett Park.
Hope to see ya there!