Friday, January 23, 2015

NILES NEMO IN SEGALAND-Episode 2 "Columns"


Here is episode 2 of Niles Nemo in Segaland from the October-November 1990 issue of Sega Visions Magazine, almost a quarter of a century ago!  The Sega Genesis version of Columns was brand new.  Bill Kunkel wrote another great script with some very creative characters and scenes.  FUN FACTS:  The stage manager character is a cartoon rendering of my friend and The NoWhere-Men™ writing partner, Dave LeBlanc.  Dave is not a little person, nor does he normally wear a toga, but otherwise he looked just like that circa 1990.  Also, this was the first Niles Nemo adventure where I rendered separate art for the line art and color, using a fairly complex technique to get the look I was after in the color.  If memory serves, I believe I went through this process because I was less than satisfied with the fact that my hand lettering was printed in color in the first episode, rather than separated out and printed in just black ink.  Separating the line art from the color also gave me crisper black line work throughout. 

Here's the rundown on my technique:

Having done the pencils on a large layout pad, and then inked and lettered them on a light box onto Bristol board, I next rendered the color on a separate overlay. I did this by putting a sheet of watercolor paper over the inked art and tracing the color areas in colored pencil on the light box. For example, Nile’s coat would be outlined in red pencil. Then, I could paint in the colors using overhead light, which gave me more control over the tonalities. Finally, I would add some airbrush effects, more colored pencil, and voila! This was in the early days of desktop publishing, and though the rest of the magazine was produced using various graphic programs, I was many years away from learning how to use a computer to generate art. Today, I still use pen and ink for all my illustrations and then scan, and finish them in Photoshop.

As always, click on the images to see the larger art, and stay tuned for more Niles Nemo adventures!  NEXT:  Barbarians, dragons, and elves! Oh my!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

NILES NEMO-The first adventure!

Here's the first ever Niles Nemo adventure!  It was the only one I drew and painted all on the same layer.  After that, I started doing the line art separately and rendering the color on an overlay.  That was a particularly daunting and exacting process, as I chose to paint the color on watercolor paper, which even when it's on a light-box, is fairly opaque.  I used a combination of colored pencil, watercolors, and an airbrush effect which was accomplished by blowing air from a can over the tip of a marker.  More on that process later!  Meanwhile, here's Episode 1 of Niles Nemo in Segaland, written by the awesome Bill Kunkel and illustrated by Dave Sullivan!

Bill was great to work with, allowing me a lot of leeway to condense the script or discard some parts if I felt there was too much to fit into two pages.  I never took advantage of that, however.  It was more fun to think of creative ways to tell that whole story in two pages.  For example, in this episode, there are 12 panels on page 1 and 15 on page 2 including all the insets.

I never met Bill during the course of our collaborations, as we were thousands of miles apart, but had several enjoyable phone conversations with him in those pre-email/texting days.  We'd been out of touch for some time, probably since shortly after the publication of his excellent autobiography, "Confessions of the Game Doctor," and it was just now, while researching this blog post, that I discovered very sadly, that he had passed away.  Bill sent me a copy of his book, and I was was pleased to discover that it was a breezy read, as they say, even for a non-gamer like me.  He also asked me to draw an updated (2006) version of Niles Nemo which is seen below.  Why Bill wanted that, I can't recall, but I believe it was on his blog for a while. A belated sayonara, Bill.  You were the greatest.

The updated (and now outdated!) Niles seen here has a darker, grunge/slacker look and is outfitted with an iPod, and a wrist brace to help with his carpal tunnel syndrome, a by-product of years of video game playing.  The "Sega" logo he used to have shaved onto the back of his head has been replaced by a tattoo.

More Niles adventure to come!  Stay tuned!

NILES NEMO-From the archives!


I've been thinking for quite a while about setting up a gallery of the complete episodes of "Niles Nemo In Segaland," a two-page comic book feature I illustrated back in the early '90s for Sega Visions Magazine.  So, why not do it here?  I'll add more about the history of Niles Nemo, his origins, etc., as the gallery grows.  Right now, I'm starting with a special, never-before-seen image of Niles and Alex Kidd.  I rendered it as a concept drawing of the two characters before drawing the first adventure.  A smaller version of the scene appears on page one of the first Niles story, when the two characters meet.  You're seeing it here first, dudes and dudettes!

This painting is fairly large, about 22 inches wide, so given the size limitations of the blog, I'm also presenting it in two parts, so you can see the characters in greater detail.  As always, click on the images to see the larger art.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

IS THERE A SUPERHERO IN THE NEXT CUBICLE??


Earlier this year, I was contacted by Patricia Bacall, the multi-talented head of Bacall:Creative, to design a series of superheroic images for a marketing campaign for Crucial.com.  The concept was a very clever and original one: First, find the person in your office whom everyone turns to when computer malfunctions erupt, causing widespread chaos and panic, who is uniquely capable of solving the problem.  Then, nominate him/her online for an award: "The Official Unofficial Office Computer Go-To Superstar" Award, to be precise.  The competition seems to be over now, and the website down, but you can read all about the competition and Crucial.com, plus scan some other interesting data hereCrucial.com's announcement about the contest is available here.

I created six images for the campaign, seen in the above image and the enlarged single hero illustration below.  Click on the pictures for larger views.  Each character was a pastiche of an ordinary office worker and a superhero.  Special thanks to Patricia for finding me and handing me the illustration reins for this very entertaining project!

Monday, December 16, 2013

THE NOWHERE-MEN™ NEW ANIMATED LOGO AND CHARACTERS ART ONLINE!


A year passes like nothing, or so it seems.  The first six months of 2013 are a total blur, as I was busy with a major book project.  The rest of the year has mostly involved catching up with everything I put off during that period.  Hence, it's been over a year since my last post and even longer since I revamped The NoWhere-Men™ website with this very cool and dramatic animated art featuring all of the heroes on the cliff with the logo animated and some striking lightning and lighting effects.  It's an animated GIF and at 2.5MB can be a bit of a download, but is worth the several seconds of wait time in my opinion.  The above image is one frame from the animation.  Click on it for the larger version, or go to the site for the animation  Several more updates for The NoWhere-Men™ site are in the works, including adding Joe Comet™ and Hour Father™ images, as well as animated logos and a wild illustration featuring a face-off between The Maniacal Mister Bones and The Phantom Aardvark!  Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, I've added some new products to The NoWhere-Men™ gift shop, including a very cool new black T-Shirt adorned with the classic cliff scene.  Check it out here!

Monday, December 10, 2012

MY UNO COVER WINS TWO CASE AWARDS!

I thought I was done talking about my cover art for the UNO Alumni Magazine summer issue. That was until I found out that the cover and my illustration won both the Silver and Bronze CASE Awards in their category. The CASE Awards are bestowed by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, and the cover won for excellence in design in the Communications and Marketing category. For more about CASE, click here.  For details about the cover art awards and others won by the University of Nebraska at Omaha, click here. To download a copy of my own press release, prepared by my friend and colleague, the incomparable John Hebert, click here. My thanks to him, and again to the Emspace Group and ace Design Director Heidi Mihelich, with whom I worked on the project. More about all that is two posts below.

Friday, October 12, 2012

JACK KIRBY TRIBUTE!

Early this past spring, I was contacted by my long-time client, the awesome Jodie Bernard of Lightbox Visuals, regarding an unusual assignment for an English book titled "Modern Morsels: Selections of Canadian short Fiction and Poetry."  To be featured in the book was a poem about comics legend extraordinaire Jack Kirby, his experiences as a soldier in World War II, and the influences those experiences may have had on Kirby's later characterizations, particularly his villains.  There was no specific concept for the accompanying illustration, so I was asked to come up with one.  I submitted two ideas.  The one which was decisively chosen is the image above.  My idea was to draw Jack in uniform, as he was in WWII, fending off villains with a giant pencil wielded like a rifle.  I also wanted to draw the piece in a close approximation of Jack Kirby's own, unmistakable style.  My other concept was similar, except that it would have shown soldier Jack riding the giant pencil through space like the Silver Surfer.  I liked that idea because it would have given me the chance to draw some "Kirby Krackle," but the chosen concept was a much more literal interpretation of the poem's message.

Little did anyone know that I was a decades-long fan of "King" Kirby's work and was also familiar with his WWII experiences.  That helped make this a very special assignment for me.  I was determined to do a fitting tribute to Jack, so I immersed myself in numerous back issues of The Jack Kirby Collector, some Sgt. Fury comics, and reprints of monster comics from the late 1950's.  When I'd absorbed enough Kirby-isms (such as his treatment of lightning and craggy mountains), I started drawing.  There are no "swipes" in the illustration, just my attempt at capturing the Kirby style, his treatment of anatomy, drapery, dynamic perspective, etc.  For the inking, which was usually handled by other artists during most of Jack's career, I leaned toward Mike Royer's style, which is considered the most faithful to the original pencil art, rather than attempting to ape the style of my favorite J.K. inker, the great Joe Sinnott.  Joe (whom I've had the pleasure of meeting a few times over the decades, including at the 2012 Boston Comic Convention) had a way of smoothing out and adding just a touch more naturalistic sculpting to Kirby's pencil art, but this piece was all about Jack.

The book is finally in print and can be ordered here, with a full description of the contents here.  It's an English Literature textbook, and the Kirby poem is the only comics-related feature in the book.  My special thanks to Jodie for choosing me for this highly enjoyable assignment!  Click on the image for a larger version.