Saturday, September 02, 2017

Batman & Robin commission process.

I was contacted a while ago by comic art collector Stephen Blair because he wanted a private commission of Batman & Robin. After we had established which version of the characters he wanted (he settled on the classic Dick Grayson Robin & the 70's/early 80's Batman), I set upon creating a quick rough for Stephen's approval. This is what I came up with.

Stephen was happy with this, but work commitments meant I had to put it aside for a while. When I came back to it I decided I wasn't at all happy with the Batman figure  (he looked stiff & posed)or the gargoyles, & so set about doing this revised version.

Once again, Stephen was happy, & so I started ahead with an inked version. However, work once again had to take precedence so I set the piece aside. By the time I was once again able to work again on the piece I discovered that the inked version I had started had been under a pile of junk in my studio, & was so creased I had to be discarded. This was probably a good thing on the whole because once again I decided that I wasn't happy with the figure of Batman, so set upon doing a re-working of the figure.

Although I was happy with this revision, It occurred to me that the figure was similar to (if a mirror image of) the Batman figure in the classic Carmine Infantino illustration.I am of course referring to this image...

This bothered me, so I sketched out  bunch of thumbnail figures to try to come up with an alternative pose. These were some of the discarded attempts, there were more, but I can't find all the scraps of paper with tiny Batman figures to scan.

However, in the end, I decided I liked liked the original (despite it's similarity to the Infantino) & so elected to stick with it, further developing the drawing.

Having settled on this, I pasted the figure into the existing pencil for the commission in Photoshop. This being absolutely the final pencilled version.

All that was left then was to trace the pencil onto the art paper (using a lightbox) with a UniPin fine line marker. Once that was done, I got out my weapon of choice (my Pentel Brushpen) to do the rest of the inking. Here are various stages in that process.

The final touch was to add a little grey ink wash to the sky, & hey-presto, all done!





IF anyone fancies a similar kind of commission, either leave a message in the comments or email me at staz.johnson@yahoo.com. The price for a similar piece is currently £300 plus postage.









Monday, August 28, 2017

A few recent private commissions.

Been catching up on a few private commissions over the last week. If you're interested in one of your own, leave a message in the comments or email me at staz.johnson@yahoo.com.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Adam West 1928-2017

Anyone who reads this blog will (I'm sure) be already aware the legendary Batman actor Adam West died this past weekend. Therefore, the purpose of this blog post is not to give anyone a run down on Adam's life story or his impact on popular culture-there's far more eloquent people than me who have done & who will do that. No this is to reflect the effect that Adam West had on me.This is going to be long & rambling, could well jump around, & might not make much sense, so feel free to jump to the next blog on your watch list.


As strange as it may sound, I think it's probably true to say than no single person (other than my immediate family) has had such a profound effect on the course of my life than Adam West... & I never even met the guy. Ok, to be specific, it wasn't Adam West as such, but the truth is Adam West was Batman, & that had a significant effect.


When I was very young (back in the late 1960's) there was very little that was more important to me than Batman. And when I say 'Batman' I mean the Batman TV show, I think it wasn't until just before the turn of the 1970's that I even realised Batman comics existed (I'll get to that in a mo..). I can't explain why that show & that character resonated with me so strongly. It certainly wasn't the gaudy 1960's colours,because we had a black & white televison. Maybe it was the car (I had more than one die-cast Corgi Batmobile) maybe it was the theme tune... there can be few people in the western world who if you say to them "Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na...." they won't respond with "Batman!". But whatever the reason, I loved Batman, I loved the idea of Batman, I loved the costume, everything & anything to do with Batman was ok with me. Which brings me back me to that first Batman comic.It was (I'm guessing here) around '68 when I was walking through one of the less well off parts of my hometown with my Dad & older brother & we passed a second-hand (in America they'd probably call it a 'junk') shop. As we pass, my brother says "There was a Batman comic in that shop", I say there's no such thing a a Batman comic (as I said, to me, batman was a TV character), he insists that he saw it & gradually as we walk I realise he's telling the truth, so as we return the same way I'm pleading with my Dad... I simply HAD to have that comic. This comic.....
Yes, I got the comic, except it didn't look like that. It had no cover & I'm sure was missing a couple of interior pages too. But I didn't care, it was Batman, every page was filled with lots & lots of images of Batman. Well, someone who was mostly Batman. But something wasn't quite right. This wasn't the Batman from the TV show... not the real Batman, not the Adam West Batman. Firstly, the belt was all wrong, there were tubes instead of boxes & there was no Bat symbol on the buckle, the Batmobile didn't look at all right but mostly, there was no yellow oval around the Bat on his chest, fortunately going through the comic with a stubby yellow wax crayon easily solved that last problem.
Despite these teething problems the die was cast, more comics followed, I could enjoy the adventures of my favorite TV character despite the fact that the show was no longer being broadcast in my area. But the truth is, that even though I was reading (what I now know) were classic Batman tales I preferred them when they resembled the TV version, I liked it when they drew Robin to look like Burt Ward, & I was heartbroken when I read the comic in which Batman left Wayne Manor & the Batcave behind. So at the time, I would rather read & re-read my hardback UK Batman annual than all those classic Denny O'Neil, Neal Adams & Irv Norvick stories.

Then there were the trading cards. Those classic Topps cards adorned with Norm Saunders paintings , which I now know were produced as a tie-in for the TV show, & although I didn't know that at the time were quite simply like having the TV show when it wasn't actually around. They were perfect! They featured the best four villains, Robin looked like Burt Ward, but mostly, they got Batman's costume right! The belt had boxes, not tubes.On some of the cards you could even see Batman's eyes.This particular card was always my favorite, because this was the one which most closely resembled the Adam West Batman.


But then, in around 1972 something happened. I bought this book, with £1.25 of my own money.



The book was sealed in plastic, it was impossible to flick through it before purchase, but I bought it because I was convinced it was going to be full of photos from the TV show-it wasn't. But what there was in there were lots & lots of Batman stories, some I'd already read, but many I hadn't. Batman's origin, The Joker's origin & many more, & finally, my 8 year old brain could start to appreciate these tales for what they were. These weren't a spin off from my favorite show, these were the stories which inspired my favorite show.And at some time around that point I started to see the artwork differently. This wasn't Batman picked up from the television & slapped on a page... someone had drawn these, & if they could do it, why couldn't I? And though I never vocalised it, or probably even arranged the thought in anything other than a random sense, I think it was there in the afterglow of Adam West & Burt Ward & the full glare of Gil Kane & Carmine Infantino that my destiny was set.


Over the next twenty years I discovered lots of new & exciting comics, Action, 2000AD, Battle, Warlord, Star Wars etc etc, but always there was Batman. Even when Batman wasn't cool (yes there really was such a time, hard to believe now) to most comic fans, to me he was always number one. And I never got more of a thrill when reading a Batman comic than when the villain was The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin or The Catwoman.

Eventually of course (through sheer dogged determination rather than talent) I actually did get to draw comics professionally & part of that journey included spells drawing Batman (& Robin). And you can bet that when I sat to draw those pages for the first time, the thought in my head was "I'm actually drawing Batman". But as the four year old who read that tattered 80 page giant, this was a different Batman. The costume was different, Robin wasn't even the same kid anymore, but still, I'd made it, & I was determined to do something for that four year old kid with his yellow wax crayon & I drew the Bat symbol on Batman's belt buckle. Of course, that was never going to stick & it got hit with white out in the editorial office, but that didn't matter. What mattered was that I still knew the way it should be, & I knew that because Adam West had shown me.

Rest In Peace old chum, you affected more lives in more ways than you could ever have known.


Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Sketches going wanting


I was at the For The Love Of Sci-Fi show in Manchester (UK) at the weekend... an 'ok' show, some good points, some bad.

Rather than sitting waiting for customers, I passed the time doing random sketches, some of which were bought anyway, & some which didn't. Offered for you lucky people here, are those unsold sketches.

There is no set price on these, I just invite you to make me an offer via the comments below, or to my email:- staz.johnson@yahoo.com. All serious offers will be considered... & probably some stupid ones too.

Here's the sketches. So go raid the piggy bank.

IMPORTANT EDIT: Both Wonder Woman sketches, the Hulk sketch & the Rogue Trooper one are now sold/have offers pending.










Thursday, August 11, 2016

ICE.

Just a quick heads up that I'll be a guest at this years ICE (International Comics Expo) in Birmingham on the 10th of September.

I'll be doing the usual signing & sketching. I have also contributed an original piece to the charity auction, a portrait of my 'Rocket Girl' character. All the proceeds will go to Beanstalk, a charity which aids reluctant young readers.


Thursday, August 04, 2016

In A Change To The Advertised Programming.....

I'm sad to inform you that contrary to this previous post I won't now be working on the second series of Vikings from Titan comics. The series will still be happening, it's just that it won't be me as pencil jockey.

On a happier note, the latest issue (issue #3) of the first four issue series is out this week, & features the kind of the bloodletting action that apparently readers wanted from the first two issues. So if that's your thing, or if you just like tightly plotted & well written & drawn comics, go out & buy a copy.



Monday, July 25, 2016

SHIELD WALL!!!

Issue #3 of Vikings from Titan comics is out this week. Written by Cavan Scott, it features artwork by yours truly, & continues the adventures of Ragnar, Floki, Rollo, Lagatha et al from the History Channel hit TV show.

 Here’s the pre-coloured artwork for the first three pages.



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Second VIKINGS series.

It was announced on the Hollywod Reporter website that Titan are to follow up the first VIKINGS series 'Godhead' with a second series entitled 'Uprising'. Like the first series, it will be written by Cavan Scott & drawn by yours truly.

Read the article here, & in the meantime, here are the thumbnails & the finished pre-coloured artwork from a couple of pages from  issue #2 of 'Godhead' which is available now.





Friday, April 22, 2016

Birmingham Comics Festival

Sorry to leave this until the last minute, but I will be at the Birmingham Comics Festival which takes place at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground tomorrow.

I'll be doing the usual signing & sketching, & appearing on a couple of panels where I will regale anyone who care to listen with my legendary wit & astounding intelligence, not to mention my modesty. That is to say, I will be responding to any questions with one of my three stock answers:-

1 ."Let me answer that question this way".. after which I go on to talk about whatever the hell I want.

2. "What I think you're trying to ask me is..." after which I go on to talk about whatever the hell I want.

3. "Before I answer that, can I just say...." after which, I go on to talk about whatever the hell I want.

For those interested, sketches will be charged at the (convention only) rate of £35-.

Here's a link to an interview I did with Paul H. Birch to help promote the show.

Hope to see some of you there.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Recent arrivals

A couple of intriguing things have arrived over the last couple of days. Firstly, this little beaut from DC Comics/Dark Horse.



Many moons ago I pencilled a series for DC called Batman/Aliens 2. Long since out of print, & copies of the collection on Ebay were fetching prices in the £40-£50 price range. However, fortunately, if there's still anyone out there who fancies reading it, it's now been made available in a new volume from DC which also features the original Batman/Aliens by Ron Marz & Bernie Wrightson alongside other tales which pit the Aliens up against various DC heroes.

Then this morning I received these two. Firstly, there is the second issue of the series I did recently for Dark Horse.. King's Road. And secondly, this Civil War collection, which contains  a thing I did for Marvel called War Crimes (or "what I did during the Civil War" by The Kingpin).





All three available form your comics retailer now... presumably.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

King's Road

I drew a mini-series for Dark Horse recently. Called King's Road & written by Peter Hogan, it's a fantasy adventure in the tradition of The Chronicles of Narnia. A fun book to draw, filled with lots of weird creatures, trolls & orcs etc. Issue #2 is already out, check it out if the sound of it appeals to you.

Here is a selection of thumbnails, sketches, pencils & inks form the first couple of issues.