Super Blog Team-Up 7: Star Wars sketchbook

Welcome to the seventh edition of Super Blog Team-Up! This time, to celebrate the release of The Force Awakens, all of the participating bloggers will be writing about various aspects of the Star Wars phenomenon.  This ties in very well with what I’ve been doing on my own blog.  For the last few months I’ve been writing reviews of my favorite entries in the Star Wars expanded universe.

StarWarsSBTU7 Header

For my contribution to SBTU 7 I’m glancing through the Star Wars theme sketchbook that I started in 2003. In the last 12 years I’ve obtained incredible sketches & commissions from a number of very talented artists.  There are so many great pieces that I had genuine difficulty deciding which ten I should include here.  I would have featured more, but then this post would have been much too long!

1) Princess Leia by June Brigman

Princess Leia by June Brigman

June Brigman has a charming style to her work that I have always enjoyed. With her husband Roy Richardson she illustrated the Star Wars miniseries River of Chaos which featured Princess Leia.  June also did a cute trading card of Leia with the Ewoks for the first Star Wars Galaxy set from Topps.  She’s also drawn illustrations for a few SW young adult novels.  It was an obvious choice to ask June to draw Princess Leia in my sketchbook.  She did a really wonderful job!  The backgrounds on this commission remind me a bit of the SW work of legendary artist Al Williamson.

2) Boba Fett by Tony Salmons

Boba Fett by Tony Salmons

Tony Salmons penciled “Wookiee World,” issue #91 of the original Marvel SW comic book series. At first I was going to ask Salmons if he’d draw Chewbacca.  But I thought Salmons might prefer to tackle another character.  I asked him who else he’d enjoy drawing.  He suggested Boba Fett.  That was a great idea.  Salmons had a lot of fun drawing the bounty hunter, and it shows.  I love that “ZAT” sound effect.

3) Han Solo by Rich Buckler

Han Solo by Rich Buckler

Rich Buckler has a very bold style, influenced by Kirby. I thought Buckler he’d be perfect to draw either of the action heroes from the first movie, namely Han Solo and Luke Skywalker.  I asked Buckler who he’d prefer, and he immediately chose Han.  Buckler did an amazing job at capturing Harrison Ford’s likeness.  Buckler’s only published Star Wars art was the Lando Calrissian trading card he drew for the Galaxy series two set from Topps. That’s definitely unfortunate.  This sketch shows that he’s perfectly suited to the material.  I would really enjoy seeing him do further SW work.

4) Admiral Ackbar by Michael William Kaluta

Admiral Ackbar by Michael Kaluta

Michael Kaluta previously did an imaginative rendering of Ackbar for the first Star Wars Galaxy trading card set. When I began this sketchbook, I hoped to eventually have Kaluta draw that character.  Kaluta was generous enough to agree to it, with impressive results.  Note that he rendered Ackbar’s pupils in pencil to convey a watery, “fish-eye” look.  It’s that attention to detail that makes Kaluta such an incredible artist.

5) Tusken Raider and Bantha by Michael Lark

Tusken Raider and Bantha by Michael Lark

I suppose you can lay the “blame” for this one at the feet of fellow Star Wars sketch collector John Higashi. He obtained a nice sketch of Tarkin from Gotham Central artist Michael Lark.  When I later met Lark at a convention I asked him if he would be willing to draw that character again.  Lark felt it would be more fun to draw one of the Sand People on a Bantha, and asked me if that was okay.  I decided to let him go for it, and Lark produced this very impressive illustration.  It’s interesting to see Lark, who often works on noir-themed stories, illustrate sci-fi material.

6) Yoda by Guy Dorian

Yoda by Guy Dorian

Guy Dorian saw a scan of a Star Wars sketch his brother Ian had done for me, and he e-mailed to say he wanted to contribute one too. Guy told me that he’d worked on a SW coloring book several years earlier, and so had drawn a number of the characters before.  A few months later at the next Big Apple Comic Con, I stopped by Guy’s table with my sketchbook.  Guy told me he was interested in drawing Yoda.  He spent a fair amount of time working on this.  As you can see, there’s some very detailed linework to this piece.

7) Emperor Palpatine by Paul Azaceta

Emperor Palpatine by Paul Azaceta

Paul Azaceta was at the 2007 New York Comic Con to promote the release of the trade paperback collection of the Grounded miniseries he drew for Image Comics. He was also doing a lot of sketching at the show.  An incredible drawing of Johnny Depp from Pirates of the Caribbean that was sitting on his table immediately caught my eye.  Seeing that, I asked Azaceta if he’d be able to draw something in my SW sketchbook.  He agreed, and produce this stunning rendition of the malevolent Emperor.

8) Mace Windu by Jim Webb

Mace Windu by Jim Webb

When getting SW sketches, some artists are understandably uncertain if they’ll be able to do good likenesses. In his Comic Art Fans gallery Jim Webb has posted a scan of advertising art he did for the board game Stratego that had the characters from the sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. I figured if Jim could draw a good likeness of John Lithgow, I might as well ask him if he’d have a go at sketching Samuel L. Jackson in the role of Mace Windu. After Jim agreed to do a commission for me, I said something along the lines of “Maybe you can have him fighting a snake as a nod to Snakes on a Plane.” That’s how we got this epic struggle. A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, one very frustrated Jedi Knight is shouting “I have had it with these mother@#&%ing snakes on this mother@#&%ing spaceship!”

9) Aayla Secura by Jan Duursema

Aayla Secura by Jan Duursema

I saw Jan Duursema at the November 2002 Big Apple show where she was drawing some amazing convention sketches of Star Wars characters. That was what inspired me to start this theme sketchbook in the first place.  One of my goals was to get a sketch by Duursema. Well, it took some time, but I finally met her again at the 2009 New York Comic Con.  I asked Duursema to draw Aayla Secura, the very cool character she created with John Ostrander for the Dark Horse comic books.  Fortunately, I just managed to get onto Jan’s sketch list, and she drew this on Sunday afternoon.  It turned out great.  So, yes, it was worth waiting six and a half years for this after all.

10) Shaak Ti by Jodi Tong

Shaak Ti by Jodi Tong

Jodi Tong is a talented artist with a really fun style.  Every time I get a new sketch from Jodi it’s inevitably better than the last one. She did an amazing job on this drawing of Shaak Ti, one of the Jedi from the prequels who was featured prominently in the Dark Horse comics.  There’s so much detail to this piece.  I’m hopeful that I’ll have an opportunity to obtain more sketches from Jodi in the near future.

I hope everyone will check out Comic Art Fans to see the rest of my Star Wars sketch collection. There are some really great pieces.

SBTU Crawler

Here are the links to the other Super Blog Team-Up 7 contributors.  You will not find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy…

This concludes Super Blog Team-Up 7.  May the Force be with you!  Well, either that or… Something, something, something, Dark Side; something, something, something, complete 😛

Mocca Arts Festival 2013: a convention report

Last Saturday I went to this year’s Mocca Arts Festival.  The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art was recently acquired by the Society of Illustrators, and so this was the first Mocca Festival organized by the Society.  As with the last few years, the Festival was held at the 69th Regiment Armory on 68 Lexington Avenue.

Originally, due to a limited budget, I wasn’t planning on attending this year’s show.  But at the last minute my girlfriend Michele Witchipoo had the opportunity to share a table with two other artists.  So I went to the show with her.  One of the books Michele was promoting was An Invitation to the World of Luisa Felix, Cartoonist.  Luisa Felix was an artist who unfortunately passed away in January of this year.  This tribute book of her work was assembled by Paul Curtis & E.J. Barnes.  Michele was one of several artists to illustrate a tribute piece for the book.  It’s a very lovely volume, and you can read more about it on her Witches Brew Press blog.

One of the first artists I stopped over to see was Teylor Smirl.  I first discovered her at Mocca Fest two years ago.  She does this sardonic mini comic Flightless Birds.  I really enjoy her art style.  Since I wasn’t at the show last year, I picked up her last two books, Flightless Birds Vol. 2 and Wild Turkey.  That later one is, as you can imagine, about drinking.  Brought back some odd memories for me, since back during my wild drinking days, I’d go out on Thanksgiving and knock back shots of Wild Turkey to celebrate the holiday.  One type of turkey was as good as another, I would drunkenly reason!  But, anyway, I enjoyed Teylor’s latest work, and it was nice to see her again.

Flightless Birds Vol 2
Flightless Birds Vol 2

I also went over to say “hello” to David Quinn, co-creator of Faust: Love of the Damned.  A few years back, Quinn, along with collaborators Michael Davis and Devon Devereaux, produced The Littlest Bitch, which they issued under the banner of “Not For Children Children’s Books.”  This darkly comical volume is the story of a little girl who plays the role of a ruthless corporate CEO.  I’d been meaning to pick this one up for a while now, so I’m glad I finally had an opportunity.

My pal Justin Melkmann is the guitarist in a local punk band, World War IX.  For the last few years he’s been putting out a self-published comic book titled Earaches and Eyesores, which recounts the real-life trials & tribulations of the band.  Justin was at Mocca Fest to promote the fourth issue, which relates the misadventures involved in the group having to find a new lead singer.  It was a really fun, crazy read.

World War IX Presents Earaches and Eyesores #4
World War IX Presents
Earaches and Eyesores #4

Sitting next to Justin at the show was artist Charles Fetherolf.  I wasn’t familiar with him, but he was sitting there doing these absolutely amazing sketches.  I purchased a copy of his self-published mini comic Dear Aunt Mollie.  It is an illustrated version of a letter which was written by his grandfather, an infantryman who fought in the trenches during World War I.  Fetherolf is hoping to be able to expand this to a full-length graphic novel in the near future.  I definitely wish him luck, because this was a really well done book.

Another artist whose work I really enjoy is Jodi Tong.  I’ve gotten several really lovely sketches from her over the last few years.  Jodi does a web comic called House of LSD.  It’s about three cat sisters who run an adult film company.  Yeah, it sounds naughty.  But, really, it’s actually quite sweet & funny.  Jodi was able to publish a collection of her strips from 2008 to 2010.  I read those on her website a couple of years ago, and really enjoyed them.  So I was happy that she was able to get them into print.  It was definitely fun re-reading them in book form.  I really hope that a second volume is forthcoming.

House of LSD
House of LSD

I was able to get a few sketches done at the show.  Teylor Smirl, Charles Fetherolf and Jacob Chabot drew some very nice pieces in my sketchbooks.  I’ve posted scans of them on the Comic Art Fans website:

http://www.comicartfans.com/GalleryDetail.asp?GCat=60

As I said, I was on a budget, so I really did not pick up too much else.  Which is a real shame, since there were so many amazing creators who had interesting books for sale.  There is so much creativity going on in the independent and small press corners of the business.  Mocca Fest is a fantastic show to go to in order to discover what is taking place outside the mainstream.

Some of the Museum’s collection of artwork was on display in a section of the show.  It was a very nice mix of old & new, of mainstream and alternative.  Among the artists whose work was on display were Walt Kelly, Ken Bald, Milton Caniff, Jose Gonzalez, Alex Raymond, Bill Griffith, Marie Severin, and Mark Texeira.  I wish I could remember more names.

Anyway, yeah, Mocca Fest 2013 was a great show.  I had a lot of fun.  I think the Society of Illustrators did a fantastic job organizing the weekend’s events.