One of the draws of a comic convention, and now through online commissions, is to get your favorite artists to illustrate your favorite characters. While the other half of Big Apple Comic Con was devoted to acquiring autographs from some shooting stars of TV, screen, and wrestling ring, the real celebrities were the paper heroes of Marvel and DC. Situated at the perfect center of Artists' Alley, I still found it difficult to get passers-by at the con to notice my FREE Frozen Dark mini-comic. But, there were plenty of unestablished artists who increased their traffic with the promise of familiar four-color friends.
And, you can often ask for anything you want! Where else can you play out your Alien Legion Vs. Alien fantasies?
Some of my favorite comics artists, Alex Maleev and Paolo Rivera come to mind, have productive side gigs as commissioned illustrators. Others, like Chris Samnee and Michael Cho, were brought to my attention specifically because of the skill they brought to the design demands of the single page.
Chris often eschews line and renders full volume in shadow and negative space. His subjects mythically emerge and recede from the page.
Michael has a printer's eye for flats and his heroes feel like they are preserved in Pop Art amber.
In both cases familiar characters are reborn through the personalized treatment of the artist. I don't feel like I yet have the clout or consistency to garner commissions but have plied my trade through the "Artists/ Non-Artists" threads on the Bendis Board.
By following the arbitrary request of the board member Fygar I am compelled to render a character that I might not otherwise think to sketch AND post it for an audience of peers.
Here are a few recent examples of my negotiation between the mystique of a character with a considered approach to the illustration style:
I've owed my buddy Roy, co-founder of the Cartoonists' Association of Rutgers, this sketch for about ten years. He kindly reminded me when I ran into him at a con and I was inspired to try a color version of Chris Samnee's approach while marrying some Kirby and Zeck like chocolate and peanut butter.
SUPER MARIO So there's the Brooklyn plumber that kills turtles and enchanted mushrooms by jumping on their heads. Sounds violent.
INVINCIBLE Not my favorite hero and I don't even read him regularly. But, I wanted to communicate that he's young, thin, immensely powerful, and possesses the best costume of the last 10 years.
FREDDY KRUEGER I had no interest in drawing Freddy. A realistic interpretation with all of the burn scars and posturing seemed like a chore. As I doodled, I discovered the character's wily side. Lithe and coy, perched on a flaming child's skull, I actually feel like I nailed the narrative of the character in this one.