Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sketchbook shenanigans.

Seems like every other blogger I read was at the New York Comic Con, and has already published their versions of events. I couldn't make it, after that little honest misunderstanding with that suitcase full of coke. But when I heard that so damned many of the pencil-pushing pals of this blog would be attending the NYCC, I cooked up a jolly wheeze. I suggested to Norn Iron homeboy PJ Holden that he take the sketchbook previously gathering dust under my bed with him to the con, where he'd accost the talented types whom I'd met, befriended even, via this humble organ. But what do you want them to draw, said Peej, 'cus there's nowt so annoying at a convention as being faced with a blank page and being told "draw anything you want".

So, a theme had to be decided upon. Something open enough to encourage individual interpretation, but not so open as to be just bloomin' annoying. Most artists who've done a sketch for me before, as unprompted gifts and the like, and knowing my tastes via the blog, tend to draw Batman, Judge Dredd or Hellboy. So that was my first thought: call it the "Batman, Judge Dredd or Hellboy sketchbook". Nah, too prosaic. Plus, I'd bet every artist at every con gets at least two dozen punters asking for Batman or Hellboy. That would just be formalising this misery, albeit with a knowing wink. I couldn't do it to them. Then it came to me - the old Blues Brothers gag, retooled for the comics fan: "I like both kinds of comics, Kirby and Ditko". That'll give 'em plenty to be going on with. A combined century-and-more of comics history to pick and choose from. Let's see what they come up with.

First man cornered by PJ was Sean Phillips, and here's where the sketchbook started to strike out on its own wacky, weaving, path through life. Shortly after PJ left the book with Sean, and possibly while he was working on this very sketch, Sean was doubled up in pain and taken to the ER with a kidney stone. Ouch! Anyway, he soldiered on, (probably) putting the finishing touches to his signature zombified take on two of Ditko and Kirby's classic characters from his ambulance gurney.

Next up was that other master of the zombie comic, Charlie Adlard. I've yet to make Charlie's acquaintance, but he was top of the list of non-bloggy types I asked PJ to proposition: I've loved the guy's work for ages, which has only been amplified recently when I embarked on a marathon THE WALKING DEAD kick, reading collections of the first three years worth in a couple of days. Love the way the guy throws the blackstuff around a page, making it do all the work. Plus he's the handsomest devil in comics. Yeah, you heard me. Sod John Cassaday and Paul Pope. It's a subtle take on the Kirby/Ditko remit: the lead zombie has a classic Kirby square fingers, foreshortening arm combo, while the rear zombie throws us the Dr. Strange fingers. Metal!
And then, Sir Duncan Fegredo. Continuing the rich vein of homoeroticism this entry is now descending into, every reader of this blog knows of my deep, ongoing, man-love for Fegredo. Uh, for his work, I mean. Like Sean Phillips, Duncan is a past-master of this wandering sketchbook malarkey, and his entry was something a little bit special. I'll bend everyone who'll listen's ear than he's one of the best storytellers working today, and this sketch is some sort of exemplar of this theory. In one sketch, he takes my basic Kirby/Ditko dichotomy notion and runs with it, telling a delicious little story in one panel, mashing a Kirby character into a Ditko milieu. Bravo, maestro.

Last, for now (I'm hoping this sketchbook gag runs and runs) is the wild, wild Chris Weston. Chris served up a rather louche looking Stephen Strange, who looks like the sort of sorcerer supreme just at home picking off divorcees in a singles bar as fighting off Mindless Ones in the Dark Dimension. In fact, I think he's throwing a spell to spike some chickadee's drink as we speak.

So that's it for now, folks. I hope the filthy Yankee dollars inserted in the back of the moleskine paid for many bottles of that sugary, fizzy piss they pass off as beer over there. Or some exorbitant hospital fees. Or (no names, no pack drill) bail money. And I can't believe PJ didn't do a sketch for me! "It never occurred to me you'd want one from me" was his (somewhat worrying) excuse, before promising me a sketch of Ditko's purest, maddest creation, Mr A. I'll make sure that happens.

And let's do it all again sometime!

*Bonus!* Lifted from the CBR forums, here's Duncan in Noo Yawk, displaying a Hellboy sketch while Charlie Adlard (swoon) stands by for action in the background. Grrrowr.


PJ Holden said...

I think you'll find that the most handsome man in comics is Lee Bermejo. Just ask Chris Weston.


Mark said...

He would have something of the Dr McDreamy about him...

Dan McDaid said...

Duncan Fegredo is a living legend. Why he isn't drawing the Hulk for Marvel, I don't know.

These are aces, btw. You can almost kind of tell Sean Phillips is on the wane from that first pic - there's something appealingly wonky about it, like he's desperate to get away from the page and hit the A&E.;

Mark said...

Yeah, you can practically see his pain coming out in Spidey's body language.

Duncan would be a natural fit on a lot of comics, but short of someone producing a clone army of the guy, I'm happy with him staying on HELLBOY for as long as possible.