Saturday, November 15, 2014

Cave Girl


 Title Page Spread

 Bob Powell Biography Spread

Table of Contents Spread

I love the look and feel (even the smell) of old comics. The aged paper warms up everything on the page. The colors seem to meld into the paper better, and everything feels comfortable. I can't really explain the soothing nature of looking through vintage paper goods. I'm sure there is some sort of medical research that's been done on the subject, but for me, I'm sure it has helped lower my blood pressure.

I wanted to bring that experience to the book design of Bob Powell's Cave Girl. This is the first book I've had the opportunity to design with the Kitchen Sink imprint for Dark Horse comics. I think in most cases when companies are reproducing old stories, they do a great dis-service by trying to clean them up and then reprint them on shiny snow white paper. It causes the art, to lose all of it's character and reveal flaws that weren't present when originally printed. I wanted to use the brownish paper tones from the original comics and introduce them into this book's design. I wanted the experience of reading this book to be similar to owning the original comic from the early 1950s.

The cover was intended to be an homage to old chapter serials or jungle movie posters. Throughout the book, I used examples of single colored comic images to again give it a look and feeling of vintage printing. The overlapping collages gave an added energy which mimicked the jungle action within the stories. This is a perfect book for enjoying on a cold winter evening, looking at the steamy jungles and the hyperactivity of Cave Girl, is sure to heat up any room.

Joe Kubert Enemy Ace Artist's Edition


 Title Page

 Credits Spread

About This Edition/Table of Contents Spread

When Scott Dunbier, my editor at IDW, told me we were going to be doing Joe Kubert's Enemy Ace as an artist's edition, I was extremely pleased. There were so many levels to this story and art, and I enjoyed all of them. First, this being a series that had a somewhat plausible place in history was great. This gave me context for the direction for the design. The idea of men flying around in wooden and canvas airplanes engaged in air battles also really intrigued me. Somehow war seemed more honorable, with rules that everyone adhered to. Almost like a sporting event. I'm certainly not making light of war or the horrors and deaths involved, but it seemed more gentlemanly. Like medieval jousting. Kubert knew how to draw those flying machines, and bring along the reader into the cockpit with the pilots. It was a bit of an adrenaline rush!

This particular period was also one of my favorites when it came to the history of design. I got to use the influence of my library of european designers. The graphics were strong, bold and a little avant garde. The dynamics of the graphic icons fit with the imagery of the air battles. This book was an absolute treat to work on, and as always the source material was very inspirational!  

Will Eisner's The Spirit volume 2

 Variant Cover

 Title Page

 Contents Spread

Chapter Break

It was nice to be able to revisit Will Eisner's Spirit. After the template was established for the first volume, it was requested, and made perfect sense, to use it again for the second volume. It really wasn't too difficult to pick strong graphic images from the stories. Will had created such cinematic staging and lighting that he made my job very easy. I chose again to had flat color and sharp contrast lighting to enhace the drama that was already there. I was basically hanging the curtins in the house he had designed and built!

Friday, September 26, 2014

John Buscema's Silver Surfer Artist's Edition

Book Cover

 Title Page

 Credits Spread

 Table of Contents

Back Endpapers

John Buscema became the artist who defined Marvel Comics "house style." His figures didn't have as much exaggeration as Jack Kirby's, nor did they appear to be as highly stylized. Buscema's figures and story-telling seemed to be more grounded in "heroic realism." There seemed to be a more controlled sense of interaction and activity. Let's say, more cool and sophisticated!

The work Buscema did on the Silver Surfer touched a certain nerve within readers. It almost instantly became a classic. To this day people look at it as being a high water mark for the work Busecema did for Marvel. It's not very often that an illustrator and the subject matter seem to be so harmonious.

When designing this book, I wanted to portray the idea of "space." Both as in, "outer space" but also as in "open design space." The character of Silver Surfer always seemed to me, to be both melancholy and lonely. I wanted to re-enforce that idea, by showing great expanses of monochromatic atmosphere. Like being swallowed up into the darkness.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Walter Simonson Manhunter Artist's Edition


Title Page

Credits Spread

About This Edition Spread

Here was another opportunity to work with some of the work of Walter Simonson. It was during Manhunter when Walter really hit his stride. A lot of fans look back on this story as being one of their favorites. I'm sure the writing of Archie Goodwin contributed to those fond memories. Since the time of this story, Walter has become not only a highly stylized illustrator, but a well-respected storyteller also. It's great to watch the maturation process of Walter's work as he works from one chapter to the next. He seemed to gain confidence in his abilities, as he moves through the story to it's conclusion.

Walter also shared ideas about the design of the book. It was enjoyable to be able to engage in dialog with him about the little nuances of the way the book looked. Walter has such a respect for his wife, Louise's (Weezie) instinct, that he makes sure to include her in the process. The passion and enthusiasm for this project certainly came through when talking with Walter. It made for a little extra bonus when working on this book! When the artists are happy... I'm happy!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wally Wood Torrid Romance

Here's 3 different cover "sketches" for a collection of Wally Wood romance comics. It's always a bit of a challenge to create a cover design when you are limited by the amount of cover imagery available. All of the artwork provided was from panels or pages from the actual stories. I think only one of the cover designs made the "cut" to actually be included on the book cover. Guess which one...

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Fossil Watch Tin Contest

 Tin Top

 Tin Side 1

 Tin Side 2

 Tin Side 3

Tin Side 3

A few months ago, to celebrate their 30th anniversary, the Fossil Watch Company sponsored a contest. The contest's theme was based on travel, and the assignment was to design one of their tin containers that their watches are packaged in. Because I'm competitive, and there was nice prize money involved, I entered the contest.

Contests are tough, not just because you want to stand out from everyone else, but you have to try and figure what will be appealing to the judges. I decided to try to create an illustrative cartoon image. I wanted to use a cross between Hanna-Barbera cartoons and the styles of 60s children's magazines. I thought most people would go the route of using road signs, travel stickers and gasoline memorabilia for inspiration, so I chose a different path. I wanted each side of the tin to show what represented a different geographic part of the country. I actually was most proud of the tag line I wrote for the top of the tin, "It's About Time!" Do you get it? Anyway, I thought it was clever.

Well, I didn't win...but I was notified that I had made it to the second round. Out of 800 entrants, mine was one of the top 30. What won? Well, it was tins showing road signs, travel stickers, and gasoline memorabilia...