Working Drawings for Cut-Paper Sculpt

PhanGirldiagramEnjoying a motion picture at age 9  entailed a lot more than just sitting in the theater – as  soon as I got home I’d want to “play” the movie and  act out scenes as a way of prolonging the excitement. Reading my Legion of Superheroes books has punched some of the same buttons a movie does  but at 65 jumping off the deck while clad in Spandex just isn’t going to happen. At this stage of my life maintaining a link with the excitement entails some sort of creative work and this time around it will mean a cut-paper sculpt.

BoBoyDIagram

In addition to the actual construction of the figures themselves I use a lot of paper in preparatory work. I carefully draw each figure/component , then make a dozen copies of each drawing. Then I cut each drawing into pieces I will then use as  templates in  making individual parts…and those parts will then be  assembled into major figures.  The  drawings you see here  depict  Phantom Girl, Bouncing Boy and Ultra Boy;   I may be adding another figure (Shrinking Violet) to the composition later on if the design can accommodate her. 

UltBoyDIagram

Amazon Review: Star Trek/Legion of Super-heroes Cross-over Book

TrekLSH Cover

Despite their common use of  visual communication comic books and television shows are not always a good mix. While it is true comic adaptations can work well enough, the product of mixed genres can quickly become as corny and contrived  as the classic 70’s SNL skit What If : “What if the pioneers crossing the plains had to fight dinosaurs but the Man from U.N.C.L.E. went back through time to help them out”?

Luckily the DC/IDW Star Trek /Legion of Super-Heroes cross-over book avoids that trap. Jeffrey and Philip Moy have succeeded admirably in blending the  intense  color and dramatic styling of a superhero book with the late 1960’s visual splash of the original Star Trek series.  More importantly Chris Roberson’s plotting and dialog fits neatly into either books’ universe and he includes just enough fan-favorite Easter Eggs  from both properties to treat  the reader without being patronizing.

…and I will die a happy man after seeing Brainiac 5 and Mr. Spock quibble.

All in all it was a very readable book. I’d planned on stretching it by reading just once chapter at a time, but I had so much fun I got through it all in one night and was left wishing there were at least four more volumes in a series after this one.

The Star Trek/LSH book makes a pretty nifty addition to any  graphic novel library and I highly recommend it. If pressed to make a complaint it would be that I didn’t get to work on the project myself (I painted the dealer-incentive covers for IDW’s Wrath of Khan adaptation) As both a Trek and Legion fan I would have settled for $67 and an old hockey trophy for a chance at working on some as cool as this book.

The Archie Legion

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I started reading comics at age eleven and have continued reading since that time – but I don’t necessarily read everything. When I find a good combination of story and art  I’ll read a book until the situation changes so when the industry made the big “gritty” change in 1985 I came close to leaving the genre behind.

The Legion of Super-heroes is a two-time favorite. It was one of the first titles I regularly collected and I collected the spin-off Legionnaires in the mid-90s when Chris Sprouse was handling the art. Some fans dismiss that 1994-96 run as lightweight,  referring to it as “The Archie Legion” but I am quite vocal  about liking it.

…and after a late-night text-duel on the matter with my good friend Mark Angell I came up with today’s sketch.

Nocturne Revisited

(I have a love/hate relationship with this newest lap-top AND Windows 10. Among other things I can’t get images to size properly so you’re seeing them far larger than desired. You’re seeing “warts & all” of rough sketches and sculpts. The drawings are all 5″X8″ (13cmX21cm) and the figure is about 6″ (15cm) tall)

Despite the “speculative” nature of the art I create, fantasy and science fiction make up a small percentage of the books I read. Truth be told, I am a voracious reader consumer of history to the point that my Beautiful Saxon Princess laughingly refers to my interchange with Amazon as my “Osprey Book of the Day Club”. However in between all the aviation, militaria and steampunk, you can often find graphic novels,  and as I read my graphic novels I can often become a fan of a particular character… and like all fans a good part of my leisure time can be taken up with visualizing those favorite characters I’ve been reading about.

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The Marvel character Nocturne is one such character. Daughter of the Nightcrawler and Scarlett Witch from a parallel universe, she first showed up in the pages of Exiles, a sort of combined Quantum Leap / Sliders / What If book Marvel published around the turn of the new millennium. She went from there to the 00’s version of Excalibur but I’m not sure what book she is part of now.

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…other than my sketchbook. She shows up quite regularly when ever I am “doodling” ( yes, professional artists still doodle) and I’ve also made a sculpt-sketch of her – a quick model made of plumber’s putty, resin and Bondo®.

NocturneScuplt3

NocturneScuplt2

In answer to your question: YES  she has a tail in some of these images. I don’t know if that issue has been resolved. I’ve never read a definite “no”, but I have read a comment that her tail is retractable, which would seem to be very uncomfortable…

Star Boy

Star BoyIt was  another one of those nights where I felt like I was breathing through a soda straw so at  2:00 AM I finally surrendered and left bed for the studio where I spent an hour or so reading a trade paperback collection of THE LEGION OF SUPERHEROES. Reprints of comics I’d read in the mid-1960s, the Legion stories are set in the 30th century and feature the wonderfully clunky art of John Forte. In my youthful estimation the Legion ran a close second to Batman because:

  •  The stories drew in both the superhero and science fiction genre
  •  The stories were about kids that I could readily identify with
  •   There was such a wide variety of both good and evil characters

 However, in some respects  that large number of characters could be a liability as well as an asset. Not only could it be difficult for an eleven-year old mind to keep up with all of the interweaving plot lines, I think that in the beginning the rush to pad out the roster gave us some fairly one-dimensional characters.

 A prime example is Star Boy, born Thom Kallor to parents living on an orbital platform about the planet Xanthu. While the character was eventually fleshed out and linked to several other notable DC heroes, in the earlier Legion stories his sole super power was the ability to make things heavy, and I’m not talking mother-in-law poundage: Heavy as in up to the weight of a planet.

 Hmmm. A superhero that can make things heavy, as in:

  • Helping  construction workers by making foundation blocks sink into the ground
  • Hiding  valuable objects by making them so heavy they’d sink into the ground
  •  Stop fleeing villains by making them so heavy they’d sink into the ground

 …and at this point I run out of ideas…Other than the “sinking into the ground” bit the main benefit to Star Boy’s power would be helping Kate Moss to get across the street on a windy day. Even as a kid I couldn’t figure out how he’s managed to stay on the Legion roster with such limitations, but as I drove past a city maintenance crew the other day I finally figured it all out.

 It was the stereotypical nine-guys-standing-around-one-guy-with-a-shovel scenario, but that mob was not what caught my interest. It was the older guy sitting sideways out of the passenger seat in the truck, doing absolutely nothing but drinking coffee. That’s when it hit me:  The Legion of Super Heroes is a union shop! Star Boy was hired early on and has so much seniority he can’t be “downsized” no matter how limited his powers may be.

Sketchbook Superman

Big Blue

I’m fascinated by the wonderful yet economical way superheroes are portrayed in cartoons. I have been enjoying Warner’s latest treatment of the DC slate of heroes in  Justice League Action and it  amazes me how such evocative figures  images can be made with such a paucity of line. I try to duplicate the effect in my sketchbook but I inevitably get caught up in extra detail, as in this sketch of a young Superman with an articulated suit like the one Jim Lee came up with for the New 52 DC reboot a couple of years back.

Truth be told I am frustrated by just about anything I try to create anymore. I had big plans for doing airbrush work again, but my age betrays me. It’s bad enough that I’ve forgotten a lot but now I have an intermittent tremor to battle that seems to kick in right when I need the most control.  .

World’s Finest

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Latest in cut-paper sculpts and a miracle that it is finished at all. I started this almost a year ago but as most of you know this has not been an easy year. Even as I look at it now I can find a half-dozen rookie mistakes but to be honest I don’t give a rat’s (bleep). I’d rather be a couple of thousand miles northwest of here at a small chapel in Soldotna, Alaska waiting for my mom’s funeral.

The World’s Finest team ( Batman/Superman) has been one of my favorites from the Day One of my interest in comics. I was not sure I would like the current Batman V. Superman movie but when the flow of action moved away from the stereotypical “mistaken hero throw-down” to fighting Doomsday I stared to like it.

Batman: “Don’t worry – I’m a friend of your son’s “

Martha: “I know. I could tell – you know, the cape”

As it is with all my cut paper work you really don’t get the depth with regular photography, and with this particular piece you’ll be missing even more. You’ll note that Superman’s eyes are glowy-red, like he’s either just used his heat vision or is warming up to do so soon. When I box-frame this work I am going to melt two little holes in the protective Plexiglas.

…right in Superman’s line of sight….

 

NuperDan

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It’s the closing of the year – and as this particular year has been a most challenging one  I am glad that I can close it with this paper sculpt…as in “At least I got this one done!”

…and as for the name. When he first discovered superheroes Jaden couldn’t correctly pronounce “M” or “S” so “Superman” became “NuperDan”. It stuck, and now our favorite Kryptonian exile has been permanently dubbed “NuperDan” in the Deitrick home.

Look for this as part of a larger “World’s Finest” paper sculpt due to be out in February.

Batman ’64

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It delights me to see the attention lavished on the mid-sixties Batman TV series. Yes, I know it was the height of camp and I was none too pleased myself.( it was even worse for those of use in the Last Frontier –  KENI Channel 2 in Anchorage managed to broadcast  the two episodes in reverse order)  I was twelve when it first aired and had been an ardent Bat-fan since the first issue with Julius Schwartz at the editor and it was painful to watch my hero become a buffoon…but if we’d never had the series I doubt we’d ever had the movies or the animated series.

You see, Batman needed all the help he could get at this point of career. When “Julie” took over as editor Batman and all the related titles were on the verge of cancellation, avoided only when transformation from cowled scoutmaster to scientific detective caused a dramatic rise in sales. Aesthetics had a lot to do with it too; Carmine Infantino took over the artistic reins in Detective  with issue 327 and “Mystery of the Menacing Mask” and became the first artist that I could identify by style alone.

So, it should be no surprise that my upcoming World’s Finest piece should include that version of the Dark Knight that had more of a mid-level intensity.

 

Hawkman 1943

2016-10-01-hawkman-1943Carrying on with the alternate time-line historically correct superhero idea: CPT Carter Hall, US Army (Airborne) tests his wings. This design actually took some time to come together for me as Hawkman traditionally uses edged weapons and maces (granted they are enchanted edged weapons and maces) but they just didn’t look right. I also briefly considered  giving him an officer’s sword ( yes – they still do exist) but in the end I went with just the good old M1911A2.

(answering the age-old question: Why do you use a .45? Answer: Because they don’t make a .46!

I also considered giving him an oxygen mask w/bottle but I don’t think he would routinely fly high enough to need one.