Thursday, June 6, 2019

Flashback Art Gallery (1977-1988)

About 8 years ago, I published a "High School Art Flashback" blog post where I scanned in some old art of mine and shared it here.  At the time, I planned to post some more happens.  Well, this past week my aunt mailed me a package returning to me a bunch of drawings I had given her back in 1980.  This got me reflecting on my past again and I grabbed some of those drawings and dug out a few more from the garage and this is the result:  a smorgasbord of quirky and nerdy things I drew ranging from about age 12  (middle school) through to about age 21 (college).  I don't know if anyone but me finds this sort of thing interesting, but I like having these preserved digitally.  I had a bad habit back when I was a child of throwing away any drawing I did that I did not perceive as "perfect."  So, I actually have but a small percentage of all the sketching and drawing that I did during those years.  Most of these survived because other people (mother, grandmother, aunt, etc.) held onto them.

I drew this Dr. Strange piece in 1977.  At the time, I did not really know what I was doing or much about art supplies.  I knew that I liked drawing on "boards" so I tended to scavenge large gift boxes from my mother and cut the bottom out of the boxes and used those as art boards.  This particularly drawing was done with black and colored sharpies and the figure of Dr. Strange was based on a Gene Colan drawing in a comic book.

In 1978, I was pretty well obsessed with Star Trek, Star Wars, Space: 1999, and whatever else I could find that was science-fiction-ey.  These are my attempts at drawing The Enterprise (Star Trek) and the Eagle 1 (Space: 1999).  I'm pleased to see I was attempting to figure out the shading on the Enterprise and I can see that the intricacy of the Eagle 1 design had me completely flummoxed.  I'm not much better even now at visualizing that sort of mechanical design in drawings.

The next piece is a little comic book I drew using a 7/11 Slurpee mascot named "Chuckle Cherry."  I have no memory of drawing this so I cannot explain its existence.  I can barely find anything online that even verifies the existence of "Chuckle Cherry" except I did finally come across this vintage photo someone posted online of an inflatable version of him that was apparently a part of the marketing at that time.

All I can really say in my defense is I must have really loved Cherry Slurpees that year.

Jump to circa 1980 and the above pencil drawing of a cat is one I did of our cat, "Darth Vader," while he slept on my pillow on my bed.  The Donald Duck drawing is one I'm pretty sure I traced using carbon paper, but I cannot remember actually drawing this so I cannot say for certain.  It's a mish-mash of sharpies and water-based markers though.  This is the cover I was copying (or maybe tracing).

I basically spent a lot of my time just drawing characters who had a look that I liked.  Baron Karza, the villain of the Micronauts toy line and the comic book, was one such character.  I'm pretty sure this drawing is my attempt at copying a panel by Micronauts artist Michael Golden.

Continuing my obsession with favorite characters, I was also beginning to get into specific artists.  The Wolverine drawing is copied from an issue of The Uncanny X-Men set in the Savage Land and drawn by John Byrne and Terry Austin.  If I remember right, it was Wolvie being thrown into the air by Colossus?  The Thing and the Hulk was me just copying the little faces that Marvel used in the corner boxes of their comics at that time.  I'm fairly certain that my drawing of The Wasp was riffing on her pose on this Avengers cover but wearing a costume she had on in a different issue that I liked.  It's funny looking back on it because the elements of this very basic costume are all stylistic design elements (wizard collar, puffy sleeves, sash, buccaneer boots) I continue to like to this day and have used in my own super-hero costume designs.

My first exposure to The Doom Patrol was with their 1970s version.  Above is my drawing based on artist Joe Staton's redesigned/updated character design for Robotman.  The other drawing is my attempt at a dramatic image of Bruce Banner turning into the Hulk.

Some cartooning from that time period.  A drawing of Harvey Comics' Hot Stuff, the Little Devil, cartoonist Dik Browne's Hagar the Horrible, and a gag I thought up of poor Mickey Mouse running for his life from a hungry eagle.

In 1982, DC Comics' Swamp Thing was turned into a movie and they relaunched his comic book as Saga of the Swamp Thing.  I was into all things Swamp Thing so, of course, I did a drawing of the character in an attempt to imagine him in my own unsettled "style."

Another odd compulsion in me my whole life is getting on these kicks where I would do exhaustive series of character drawings based on a gag.  For example, in elementary school on into early middle school I would obsessively draw sharks and dolphins dressed out in Marvel super-hero costumes.  In my young mind, the "men" were the sharks and the "women" were the dolphins.  Well, the next phase in that type of compulsive drawing behavior was this desire to play around with the simplistic image of Pac-Man and re-imagine a world of stock characters who were essentially human except they had Pac-Man faces and I would give them names that were some sort of Pac-Man puns.  Yes, it makes no sense, but it became some sort of creative challenge to see how many variations I could come up with.  I drew way too many of them to share them all.  But here's a few samples to laugh at.  Note that I was experimenting on cartooning with a "big foot" sort of style and using different line-art texturing techniques.
First off is just a basic Pac-Man followed by the Saturday morning cartoon version and then "Mr. Spac" (Mr. Spock).
From left to right are President Richard Paxon, the Hunchpac of Notre Dame, and Indiana Pac.
The Empire Strikes Pac
A couple of years later, in 1984, I drew this cartoon playing with the Marvel Comics' What If? series showing what would have happened if the very UN-bullet-proof Captain America had not equipped himself with a bulletproof shield.  I notice that the cartoon figures are still a bit stiff but much improved over the Pac-Man cartoons 2 years before.  I'm still using the same sort of "big foot" on the characters.

1985 starts to showcase a nice jump in drawing technique and experimentation that I credit to my college art classes at Temple College.

Mike Grell's Warlord (DC Comics) character meeting Grell's Star Slayer (Pacific Comics) character 
Sergio Aragones' Groo the Wanderer
 Playing with high contrast black and white ink drawings and female forms.  Shadowcat from The X-Men (note once again my fondness for puffy sleeves and sash).  The other 2 drawings are from a photoshoot in a Penthouse magazine.  I wish I could remember the photographer's name.  At the time, I know the joke was that you only read Playboy of Penthouse for the articles, but I was picking up an occasional issue specifically for the photo pictorials by this one photographer because the artistic design really connected with me back then.


The last 2 years of college I knocked out a few interesting pieces.  The first is The Joker as The Devil and my attempt at drawing Watchmen (which I don't believe had even concluded at the point I drew this).  The Joker drawing was an attempt at mixing my pencil technique with markers.  I notice some stylistic elements here that are reflective of stuff I draw even today.  The Watchmen piece is a total disaster in retrospect in terms of anatomy and physics.  I cannot at all figure out what I thought Nite-Owl was doing being dropped down on a rope from his ship but yet he's just floating there above it.  It makes no sense.  But I am impressed that I at least tried some perspective tricks and badly envisioning the anatomical features of Bubastis there in the back.  It was a nice effort for a teenager maybe.


Below is short poem/story written by a friend in my dorm that I illustrated.  I think I had some good ideas here and not the absolute worst in execution but there's some real need for a better understanding of how to do certain effects using ink.

The last piece is a watercolor painting I did for my painting class.