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®.

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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

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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.

 

Nocturne

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My interest in alternate history extends to comics as well – though  in that venue they are more accurately termed “what-if?” stories. I mean, you’re already starting out in a fictional setting so changing it that much more…?

There was a 1980s/90s comic line actually titled What if? but I have preferred more recent books like DC’s Booster Gold and Marvel’s Exiles. Exiles ( which is also my favorite X-title) is a kind of Quantum Leap with capes wherein a rotating roster of mutants are charged with correcting cosmic breaks in various parallel universes. The young lady pictured above is a character from about the middle of the book’s run; her name is Nocturne and she is the child of another time-line’s Nightcrawler and Wanda Maximoff.

(Hmmmm. Nightcrawler and Wanda Maximoff AKA the Scarlet Witch?  Publishing black & white work is sometimes counter-productive as Nocturne’s skin should be a beautiful deep blue in color, but time and a fading marker nib precluded the addition of color. I’ll have to buckle down and publish color versions of these drawings…)

 

 

Code Name: Dash

2016-08-03  DashVisitors to my studio are often more interested in my tools than my art , because for  every factory-made purchased implement in my collection there is one I’ve made myself.  Usually it’s a sculpture tool of some kind and was created for a function that all my other tools couldn’t accomplish. For example I have a small blade set into a handle but angled back at the grip which I contrived when I couldn’t find a way to smooth out the leaves of a plant that billowed out from the base.

The same thing happens with words. Every now and then I have to invent a new word because current ones don’t work for me. For example, what is the collective word for technologies that went down a blind alley and were discarded when mature – things like eight-track tape players or the Consolidated B-36 Peacemaker bomber? I love that sort of thing but grew tired of rattling down the seven word “blind alley” appellation and started to use the word “technodork” instead.

Today’s drawing comes from another category with a made-up name: “Retro-tailored Design” or RTD. RTD refers to designs that have been made to look like they came from another era.  It’s a challenge to design something that will convincingly fit another era.  One designer put together a series of faux ads that showcased modern devices like cell phones and MP3 players – but all of them with the squared off look and wood grain cover from the 1970’s. Pocket Books released a novelization of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that depicted the station and starships in a 1950’s motif…and of course Steam-punk is full of RTD with smart phones and lasers designed with a Victorian flourish.

So, back to the drawing:  what if the freak lightning bolt-striking-chemicals accident had happened in London in the late 1930s instead Central City twenty years later?  You’d end up with LT  Barrington Allenby-Smith RN looking something like this as he was running  about at super speed fighting the Germans.

Although… I would think that a code name like “The Flash” would be a bit too flamboyant for a Royal Navy officer, but I do believe he would carry out his duties   with an element of “dash”…..

Nightwing & Flamebird

2016-06-02 NightwingFlamebirdWhen current comics readers read those names they most likely think of the characters from the New Krypton story arc that ran about five years ago in DC comics just prior to Flashpoint and the introduction of the “new 52”. For geezers like me Nightwing and Flamebird can only mean one thing: the crime-fighting identities that Superman and Jimmy Olsen assume when  visiting the bottle-city of Kandor.

Kandor – the  Kryptonian city that was miniturized and stolen by the arch-villain Brainiac and subsequently recovered by Superman ( or “Nuper-Dan” as my three year old grandson calls him). Kandor was the setting for several Superman/Batman adventures as chronicled in World’s Finest comics and  Nightwing/Flamebird allowed the two heroes to continue to fight crime as a team despite Superman’s lack of powers under red sun conditions.

I enjoy revisiting characters from the Sixties. Yes, Silver Age stories and many of their conventions were a bit on the campy side but I loved them then and I still hold them in high regard now . I like them for the same reason I still like the Batman TV series. I mean, a world  with lots of adventures where a average guy in tights is considered heroic and no one really gets hurt? What’s not to like?