Wednesday, 23 April 2014


I've got three original cover paintings in this auction ...

2014 May 15 - 17 Comics Signature Auction - Dallas  #7093

Check out the auction, you may grab a bargain...


I call this piece JSA YEAR ONE but originally it was just a piece I wanted to do as a learning exercise. I'd drawn a pencil version inbetween cover jobs for DC (I believe between my run on Hawkman and before JSA Strange Adventures). Peter Tomasi, Geoff Johns and I had been talking back and forth about doing JSA Year One. We'd worked well together previously and this would be an opportunity to team up on a bigger stage. 

The idea was for it to be fully painted, Norman Rockwell meets 1930's gangster movies, a realistic setting that always works well for the JSA, homemade uniforms, regular physiques on many of the characters, bulky maybe but not pumped up. The story would cover the time leading up to the formation of the team, explore more fully the background and personality of each member, create a definitive narrative of the teams origin that'd fit into the DCU continuity of the time. 

So I saw this piece, well at least the pencil piece, as something that may be used in the series. Geoff was needed for bigger things however...

So I continued with the original reason why I started the piece, as an educational exercise. I thought working the size, or thereabouts, that Rockwell worked would be interesting, so the piece is oversized, between 75cm and 1 metre. I traced up the pencils and painted a loose underpainting in Mars Violet (can't get that in Winsor and Newton artists range anymore). It was about 8 years until I finished the painting. 

Here's the unfinished painting.

After revisiting this I've got an inclination to do another piece but really work the way Rockwell did (build up texture initially, use the same brushes he did, take more photos until I get the right reference, use actual people instead of generic heroic looking ones etc)

As an afterward, this was the piece when I discovered that using Gold Ochre was the way to go when painting yellow, it looks a lot more realistic than using any of the actual yellows such as Cadmium or Chrome yellow.

Thursday, 17 April 2014


ADVENTURE COMICS #5: The Ongoing adventures of the Legion of Super-Heroes

Here's the finale of the Legion of crime story arc in the Adventure Comics series I'm doing. The original idea was to post one a month, I'll get back to doing that now. 

This is the face off between the Legion's Supergirl and the Earth 3 Ultra Girl (that'd be earth 3's version of Supergirl) and ends the first story arc. It's been an eventful one as Saturn Girl is dead and the Legion have been thrown into a sense of ongoing unease at the realisation that there's another evil version of themselves only a dimension away.

Next up, Superman gets some visitors from the future....

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


I received this piece of art in the post today from a good friend as a gift for a sketch I did.

It got me thinking about how much I loved New Adventures of Superboy as a kid. And how it influenced me, maybe not in an artistic sense, by that I mean stylistically, but in a way that it really connected with me, was something that I enjoyed immensely and ultimately played a part in me becoming an artist. 

So, this is the first in an ongoing series of posts about influences, not necessarily the obvious ones like Neal Adams, George Perez, Norman Rockwell etc (although we will get to them) but comics, TV shows, obsessions that led me to becoming a comic book artist, well illustrator really. If you discount the terrible series I drew for Dynamite Entertainment a few years back I've basically just painted or drawn covers-which I have no problem with, it's what I always wanted to do.

(I'd love to do a series of blogs about covers, the good, the bad and the unintentionally hilarious...but I'll stick to the good so as not to upset fans of artists who's covers I enjoy for all the wrong reasons)

So, New Adventures of Superboy and Kurt Schaffenberger. The art is very clean, maybe a little too simplistic for fans of contemporary comics-it isn't- just because something looks simple doesn't mean it is. A lot of artists from the early 90's didn't actually draw backgrounds, they just threw in tons of superfluous lines on the figures and hoped people wouldn't notice*-and it harks back to a simpler time. Part of this was obviously intentional, it was set in the past. The simplicity appealed to me as a kid, it may be slightly Rockwellian in setting, (the idea that Rockwell always depicted the good side of America in the 40's and 50's, he didn't, but it's the perceived view and useful to get across the point I'm trying to make about Superboy) but I liked that as a kid. It reflected my personal ideas of morality back then. 

I also saw Schaffenberger's work in Shazam but it was Superboy that really got me. 

I read maybe 98% DC as a kid, I didn't get into Marvel really until college. Superboy for a few years, was the one I always read first. 

I remember tracing the Superboy figure off issue #20 and (I don't think I've made this up) got my Dad to paint, in gouache, the same figure for me. No doubt I redrew his painting myself in the same way I drew over the top of a dinosaur painting he did for me. I guess I just wanted it to look how I wanted it to look. That's why I don't get mad when my kids draw over pieces I've drawn for them, they have an idea of how they want the art to look and it isn't how I've drawn it!

Schaffenberger was a very consistent artist, his Lois Lane looked the same for decades, you knew what you were getting. Next month's issue would have the characters looking the same, just as the characters did on Dukes of Hazzard each episode (it bothered me when Pigsy changed on Monkey). I've still not found that consistency with my art...Many artists progress, getting better and better, more mature throughout their lives (Rembrandt, Rockwell, Michelangelo etc) until their eyes or minds go, as they master their craft. That isn't really true of comic artists. A lot of them peak pretty early and then often just go downhill. Maybe they burn out. Maybe arrogance takes them...there of course is the flipside, some experiment or become something more accomplished (Sienkievitch for example) or just keep on getting better, Alan Davis, Adam Hughes. But it's very rare for an artist to show such consistency over a career, from beginning to end, Schaffenberger was one, Curt Swan another. 

Schaffenberger was great at portraying emotion too, with just a slight change in expression or body language. 
The above page is the original art for issue #43 page 18. 

One thing I don't think I'll do in this series is a history of whatever I'm talking about. I think digging for info yourself is a great way to learn. I kind of miss the old days when all you had to go off was a 1 inch reproduction of a comic cover in a price guide. Actually finding the comic itself was very exciting. The internet takes that joy away to a certain's a great tool...but people don't really use it to find out what went before. A lot of comic fans I meet never bother to learn what or who the artists they like learned from. A massive fail. As an artist it's important to look at who influenced your favourite artists so you can see where their style or technique originated from...and it's a great way to discover awesome art (or music) too.

So anyway, check out the book below for some info on Kurt Schaffenberger.

 'Hero Gets Girl!' by Mark Voger published by TwoMorrows. 

And look at the first run of Lois Lane too, it's ace. Fun stories too, a lot of them are good reads even now. I think if you enjoyed All-Star Superman you'll enjoy the original Lois Lane run.

And to Aidan, thanks very much for the piece of art! 

*Detail isn't a bad thing, look at Brian Bolland, Bernie Wrightson, Alan Davis or EC Comics for detailed comic art done properly.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

N.I.C.E. 2014

NICE COMIC CON 13th/14th September 2014

I'll be sketching and signing all weekend at NICE as usual. Looks like a good guest list again! 

As I sketch for free at the con I get booked up pretty quick so come on over early to avoid disappointment. 

And, if you'd like a pre-con commission doing be sure to get in touch in plenty of time (so I can get the art finished in time, obviously). 

A4 are £40, A3 are £80, art is drawn in pencil, ink and Copic marker.

I'll also have a selection of A4 and A3 Copic pieces for sale at the con. I pretty much sold out at the recent LSCC event, which was nice.

See the link below for a couple of examples of A4 pieces done 


Also, I'll be taking part in the sketch roulette again. Despite my initial reservations it worked out really well last time. Good idea, Jeff.

Thursday, 20 March 2014



The next chapter. The Legion are defeated by the Legion of Crime.

 I coloured this one to highlight the uniforms I've tweaked. 

The style of the art is still a kind of Grell, Adams, Davis hybrid...but I think in the next story arc I'll wing it a little more, see what happens.

Next issue, the final part of the Earth 3/Earth 1 battle between the Legions.

The body wearing the green swirly uniform is Chemical King by the way...I think everyone else is pretty obvious. Some of the uniforms will change over time, they're still in transition. As an aside, I loved the Superboy back up stories by Cockrum where the Legion was a mix of the original Adventure costumes and the ones that Cockrum was designing...also, remember the uniform that Element Lad wore for one panel in LSH 243 and again, in a pin-up in the tabloid where Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl got married? No idea why that one was never seen again, very Kirbyesque. Who designed that? Was it James Sherman?

Anyway, here's a pic of issue 4 (that I've just noticed I forgot to number) and also a mock up with a back cover...

Tuesday, 18 March 2014



I'm very tired after the weekend, more on that in a minute. It was a great convention, probably the best I've attended since the glory days of the Bristol Expo. And it was packed. Often people fudge the numbers for attendance but there were seriously double the number of people there than last year. 

Thanks to everyone who came by to say hi, pick up a commission or buy something. I hope everyone who managed to get on the sketch list was happy with what they got. And that everyone was happy with their commissions too. I liked two of the sketches I did at the weekend myself...although that may have been the tiredness.

I have to mention Mike Grell, what a nice guy. He's been my favourite Legion artist since I first saw his work in SLSH 206 (he signed that copy for me, chatted about it, awesome) and to finally meet him was fantastic. We even managed to talk about art a little as Mike is a painter 

Larry with with Mike Grell  

If you want to go to a comic based comic con (let's face it, there are a lot of them that are craft fairs, nothing wrong with that, but comic cons should be comic cons) then LSCC is well recommended. There's expensive original art, cheap original art, cosplay, big name artists and writers, small press, people who sell comic based toys that I can buy for my kids, unlike some, there are even comics ranging from high grade Golden Age to the latest's a proper comic con. And the staff are helpful, pleasant and visible in their yellow t-shirts.

A photo taken on Sunday, my face is sarcastic, I'm not a mentalist. Russ had just awoken

If you're reading this you'll probably have read the post I wrote recently about LSCC 2013...well, this year was a lot more a point.

I was worried my friend Scott, who was driving down to London and giving us (that'd be me and Russell Payne of the Kirby museum) a lift to the con would be late to set off for the 4 1/2 hour journey. I was wrong to worry, 15.30, he was there. Professional. But was Russ ready to go? No. Instead of packing during the two hours since I'd last seen him he sat around drinking tea...

So it took us an hour to get out of Blackpool. And then we ignored the signs on the motorway telling us that junctions 16 to 19 were basically at a standstill. They really were. I suggested dumping the car and taking the train...panic was setting in. 

So, we get to London about 21:30, not too bad considering the traffic. I'd sent some messages to say that we'd meet people at 21.00 at the we were in the ballpark at 21;30...We found the hotel, for a change there were no problems, we went to our room to drop stuff off, only one bed. It's ok, there was a pull out. So we're good. Not a bad trip and we're almost where we need to be.

Now would be the time to mention that Russ' daughter Chloe came on the trip with us as she was going to a University open day on the Saturday. I think his words were 'We'll just drop her at her hotel (she only told him about it a week before, hence the different hotel) and she'll get the train home on Saturday'. Another rash statement was, 'her hotel is next door to ours'. 

Both statements were massive lies. 

Scott used his SatNav to find the led us to a street that was a hellhole, residential area that was grim, bricks in the street, scary people, we're not used to that in Cleveleys. It's quiet, a lot of dog feces, but quiet. We figured the SatNav had gone bananas so we drove back to our start point and set out again. 

 It was the right place but the hotel was a block down. I was scared. We all were. But Russ checked her in...and then we set off to find the hotel where we were going to meet everyone. 

There were two hotels of the same name around the Excel Centre. Two pubs called The Fox as it turns out too...that's just basics, but anyway...we went to the first one, it wasn't the right hotel. How to get to the other one? The SatNav didn't know. So Scott dropped us at the entrance to the was the wrong side. The Excel is massive. And I knew there was  a good chance not all of us would make the journey, Russ is no athlete. (He played 5 a side a couple of times. He didn't get why people were angry with him when he let a goal in the last time he played...he had one hand in his pocket and was eating a Snickers)...We eventually got to the other side and there were railings I just started climbing over them. I have to admit, I got to the hotel a little earlier than Russ and Chloe, as when I saw him trapped, straddling a 4ft barrier I just kept on walking. Was I wrong to leave them? Well maybe. But I had a few grands worth of art in my folder and I had to make a choice. Here's Russ' version of the journey...he's a much more eloquent writer than me since, well, he's a writer...

Scott dropped us off, very kindly insisting on a door to door service despite the fact that travelling two blocks at the Excel Centre in a car means driving in a complex series of one-way spirals.

John had arranged to meet up with people at a hotel that was about 14 miles away from our hotel, so we opted to go for a direct straight line of sight walking route that involved climbing over a line of metal fences. John leapt over them like a gazelle, Chloe managed to dislocate her hip on the third fence and I was left straggling the first hurdle in almost complete darkness as Chloe and John progressed into the distance.

Here's the rest of Russ' blog 

So, 22:40, we'd made it (well I had, Russ and Chloe took another 5 minutes or so). It was great to be sat in the hotel chatting with friends, looking at art. Chloe was safe. But I'd suggested that she should stay in her hotel room. I didn't like the idea of the three of us walking that street back to her hotel at 2am. And also, there was Jeff.

Jeff turned up at 1am. I think Russ, and to a greater extent, Chloe regret that deeply.

Got to the convention about 0830. Set up and then the day flew by. I took on way too many sketches and so I was drawing with my head down for most of the day. Russ was sharing the table. He was getting progressively more scared as the day went on and the time came nearer to do the Kirby talk at 5...George, one of the organisers came over just before 2 and asked if he was ready as he was on in 10 mins...Russ laughed afterwards but it took a while.

Saturday, me concentrating on drawing Captain America, tired, Larry posing

Every so often he'd disappear to find Chloe, get her from the train station, fed her etc. His head was getting progressively redder as the day went on as his blood pressure rose with the combined stress of not having planned his talk and making sure Chloe was ok. 

A big thank you to Aidan and Larry who helped me sell art and chat to people (I can't really talk and draw).

Russ was eventually escorted off to do his talk. He looked like he was off to be executed. I had to stay at the table as there was no-one else to watch over it.  Afterwards he was a lot more relaxed. It went well. Secretly, Russ has a massive ego and so the fear was quickly replaced by the joy of performing to a crowd.

Hopefully in that crowd were some people who would learn something about Jack Kirby. Maybe for the first time. Perhaps they were only there as they were tired and there were free chairs but they were educated nonetheless. Forget the arguments about copyright and everything for a moment, the more people who check out his work and are made aware of the ridiculous levels of creativity he had, the better. No-one created more in comics. The man was awesome.

If you're reading this and haven't heard of Kirby then go and research him. Or buy the Fantastic Four omnibus with his work in. 

So, as I frantically tried to fulfill my sketchlist, Russ went to drop off Chloe. He'd be 'half an hour'. I knew it was a lie. 

One thing about sketching at cons is people bringing over sketches they've had done from other artists...invariably, they're a lot better than what I'm drawing. It really adds to the pressure, nice to see, but sometimes it's like being held at gunpoint. 

The con finished at 7pm, a good, long day. I don't think anyone went away disappointed. The cosplayers, who I don't really see as I'm drawing, were everywhere and all seemed happy, the retailers were happy. The organisers and staff were happy, if a little stressed.

On the way out I was introduced to a reasonably famous person and I asked him an inane question. I'm not going to talk about it. In my defense I was very, very tired. 

Russ went AWOL for four hours. We had to eat without him. He wasn't returning texts, was he dead? No. But I was genuinely concerned. Turns out he had to take Chloe all the way to Euston because she'd forgotten her glasses and couldn't see any of the signs. On the way back on the Tube he got chatting to a guy in a giant green hat who was plastered after celebrating the Six Nations win and he missed his stop. He'd already eaten when he arrived in the hotel restaurant, he bought a pasty for, I believe, £43 at Euston. So, everything was fine. He got back just in time to join the mockery of my Scott Pilgrim hat. I don't care what anyone says, it's the best hat I've ever owned.

Spent the rest of the evening sat in the hotel bar chatting about comics and football (MOTD came on and there were a few points that needed discussing). Russ fell in and out of consciousness, awakening one time to shout out 'is it green?' 

After another night chatting, listening to the birds sing and looking at the pretty cool view of the Thames we had another day that was pretty much as good as Saturday. I spent all day sketching again, stopping only long enough to eat a Jammie Dodger for dinner. 

After a final couple of deals on sketches in the hotel bar (thanks Michael, Russ said I'd never sell the Camelot 3000 Morgan piece!) that once again showed my basic ineptitude as a businessman but made people happy, we set off to find Scott.

Deep down Russ loves walking so despite his begging to use the train (for one stop, no, not happening), I knew he was happy to walk the 20  minutes to the other side of the Excel. 

Went for a meal in Greenwich with Scott and his friend Sam, great meal and company. But, it was 0215 when we got home. 

Still, it was 15 minutes earlier than last year...