After a nice evening of Megan's cooking, watching an advanced copy of The Rise and Fall of WCW courtesy of my friends at WWE and taking my first shower since the surgery, I figured a little light blogging before drifting off into drug-induced slumber (and before Kiel posts this week's Linko!) would be a nice capper.
So here are the remainder of my Nova sketches (until such time as I hit the scanner again) and the stories behind them...
Ethan Van Sciver
This one basically started out with me showing Ethan my Jim Lee sketch and him going "I'm not sure I can top that, but I have to try." Well far be it for me to judge between two titans of artistic prowess, but if Ethan didn't achieve his goal, he certainly came as close as what can and didn't fall short for lack of trying. He took my sketchbook home with him for a couple weeks vowing "Something you could put on the cover of Wizard" and I do believe he delivered there. I like a lot of things about this, but in particular I like how Ethan really brought his unique personal style to it rather than conform to any sort of template. You can see in the helmet that he took some liberties, but little touches like that really leave a distinctive mark. I also love that he gave Nova's chest starbursts a similar-but-different visual effect to what he does with the Green Lantern symbols beginning back with Rebirth; Ethan is so thoughtful about every decision he makes and how visuals effect a character's make-up, so it's a pleasure to look at his work.
Bit of an awkward story here, as I was at one of the Wizard World Philadelphia shows, spotted Jamal Igle (who I knew had done New Warriors and drawn Nova before) and very much wanted a sketch from him, but had a full day of working the booth and conducting interviews ahead of me. Much as it broke my own personal code of conduct, I sent then-Wizard intern Brian Warmoth over to Jamal with my book to see if he would do a sketch. I don't remember exactly how it went down, but I believe I gave Brian a certain ceiling on how much I could spend for the sketch and he either got nervous or forgot to mention it. Brian comes back and tells me he got Jamal to do the sketch but didn't quote a price, which of course freaked me out because when you don't quote a price at the outset, you can land in the awkward position of having to pay way more than you planned to because the artist needs to make a certain amount of money over a certain amount of time in Artist's Alley to cover their expenses (that's why if a dude quotes you a price too high for you, you politely move on rather than waste their time or see if you can get a quickie sketch or just a headshot for less, again not wasting their time). Long story short, my first meeting with Jamal Igle consisted of my sheepishly underpaying for the gorgeous sketch you see above because he's one of the nicest dudes in the world. Fortunately we have since gotten past that and not only does Jamal feel comfortable yelling "Hey, loser!" at me from across a crowded booth in San Diego, he's also the one and only comic creator I've actually randomly run into on the streets of New York City despite having worked there for nearly two years now. His stoic, reflective Nova is a page-stopper in my book since it stands out in such stark contrast from just about any other sketch I have in there; he told me he chose to draw that pose and feel because he had drawn the character enough in the past that he didn't feel like doing the standard "Human Rocket" bit and wanted to try something different, which totally worked.
Speaking of nice guys, "Dandy" Don Kramer is one of the genuinely coolest dudes in all of comics (Brief aside: despite attempts by myself, Jesse Thompson, Andy Serwin and others to work the "Dandy" Don nickname into Wizard whenever possible, it never stuck). He is incredibly outgoing, totally laid back and loves just shooting the shit with fans. If you ever spot Don at a convention (he's the good-looking one), you should take the opportunity not just to nab a sketch if you can, but talk to the guy, because he's a fount of knowledge as well as just a wonderful conversationalist (he's also doing career-best work in the highly underrated JSA vs Kobra right now, so I very much suggest picking that up). Don actually sought me out to do a sketch in my book, having seen me post some of the images online (on MySpace or something...oh the old days), and hey, I'm not gonna say no! He went a little bit the same way as Jim Lee initially with the heavy India ink approach, but I love the way he portrayed Nova's jetstream, making it look much more like how an actual rocket would during takeoff than I think I've ever seen. When I think of Don's work, there's a very specific tone I tend to imagine, so I was very intrigued to see how Nova would look in that setting and was certainly not disappointed.
When I was a 13-year old X-Force fan, there was no better artist in the world in my mind than Tony Daniel. When I came back to comics after a few years' hiatus, I would wonder from time to time whatever happened to Tony, but could never track down his work (which consisted mostly of The Tenth for Image, but I had yet to really step outside my Marvel/DC comfort zone). When I saw the name "Tony S. Daniel" in the solicits for Teen Titans one month in 2005, I immediately called Geoff Johns to ask if it was the same guy, and lo and behold it was. Though Tony started on Titans just doing fill-ins, he eventualy became the regular guy (I'm not sure if my pleas to Geoff had anything to do with it or not) which gave me the opportunity to speak with him and work together on a Titans East sketchbook for Wizard (me and Geoff co-wrote little dossiers from Deathstroke to go with each of Tony's sketches). At Wizard World Chicago in (I wanna say) 2006, I finally had the opportunity to meet Tony and he greeted me with a big hug, saying how much he appreciated the push for his work in Wizard, to which I shot back gratitude for being one of the guys who got me into comics in the first place with his art. He told me whatever sketch I wanted was mine and I'm sure you can guess what came next. Tony actually had my book for awhile due to some unfortunate health problems on his end, but the end result was the first ever full-color Nova in my sketchbook, and the images pops with an incredible intensity and vibrancy that very much reminds me of Tony himself.
At the New York Comic-Con in 2007, I tracked down Dale Eaglesham, who I had never seen at a show before and who I had long wanted a sketch from. Fortunately I kinda knew Dale and his wife, Wolfie, from Comic Bloc (which, if you haven't gathered yet from these posts, is a great place to get to know some cool comics pros) and from helping arrange a sketchbook feature for Justice Society of America when it launched. I've heard Dale described as "the Norman Rockwell of comics" and he definitely lived up to that label here with a cool retro-looking Nova who has a great earnest quality to him. I actually prefer this sketch just in pencil with no inks and colors as it makes it feel even more "down home" for lack of a better term.
Ahhhh, what a nice night of reminiscing--now for Vicodin.
Should that be my new sign-off line?