Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fanny Lives: The Doom Defying Jungle Girl!

Donna Blank, The Phantom Jungle Girl, first appeared without origin with her unlikely detective partners Cowboy Gorilla and The Brilliant Brain in absurdist one-act skit entitled "The Crypt of Crime" (Pteranoman #1, Kitchen Sink Press, August 1990) . I next used her as a substitute member of the Megatropolis Quartet (along with Rubber Brother) in The Savage Dragon vs. The Savage Megaton Man #1 (Image Comics, March 1993). Lithe and fun to draw, her over-the-top name seemed no more ridiculous than a great many "straight" superhero characters, and she seemed to navigate quite easily between my more melodramatic urban pulp-noir conceptions such as The Meddler and the more overtly humorous cast of Megaton Man. Fanny was therefore a natural to anchor Bizarre Heroes (Fiasco Comics, Inc., 1994-1996) as a Crime Buster and subsequently hang out with the Wandering VW Van in The Megaton Man Weekly Serial (online, 1996-2000), which established her secret identity as Donna Blank, the short-haired social worker who knows little about her orphaned past. Donna/Fanny will play a major role in my current work in progress: all-new Megaton Man material than I am preparing for publication in some form or another in the very near future. Here is a brand-new pose I created from scratch recently, along with some key panels from her past comics!

This pose shows the undeniable influence of years of reading Ross Andru's Amazing Spider-Man in the mid-1970s. Although John Romita's covers were the attraction (he is my favorite Spidey artist and still one of my all-time favorite artists generally), I absorbed more than a little of Andru's often awkward and contorted posing, which as a reader at the time I found rather disturbing and lacking in suitable grace. But there's no denying that he always tried to achieve clear, readable storytelling, even if as he struggled to balance expressive body language with compositional constraints, perhaps beyond his skills as an artist. Given the level of artistry that has since become the industry standard, I've come to respect the fact that he made the attempt, and to the extant he has influence my work (and nearly everything I've ever looked at has registered some influence), I like to think I've managed to smooth off some of the rougher edges!

The original sketchbook scribble in pencil is on the right (dated April 21, 2015), which I subsequently scanned and printed out, enlarged, above left, and tightened up with a fine line pen, then inked on a sheet of Strathmore Vellum (I'm pretty sure from the same pad I used for Dracula's Daughter #1 back in 1992) below, both executed on June 23, 2015.

Fanny takes a turn as a fill-in member of The Megatropolis Quartet with Rubber Brother in the background, in the framing sequence taking place in my world in The Savage Dragon vs. The Savage Megaton Man #1 (Image Comics, 1993).

Donna Blank is introduced as Fanny's orphan alter-ego in an early episode of the online Megaton Man Weekly Serial (c. 1996).

Fanny navigates easily between the darker, more dramatic world of The Meddler and the more humorous world of Megaton Man in this incompletely colored tier from the Weekly Serial (c. 1997).

Fanny, now a member of The Doom Defiers, proposes a beach volleyball match to decide a dispute with The Bronx Bombers in my current work in progress (see more on my Megaton Man blog).

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Get Down, Get Down: Weird Cultic Rites of the Bizarre Heroes!

Here is a recent commission I created for the discerning Bizarre Heroes connoisseur Mr. Douglas Rednour, featuring two of his favorite characters, The Phantom Jungle Girl and the Asp. Doug requested a dance or athletic theme (no doubt inspired by Ms. Megaton Man's recent exploits in volleyball, posted on her blog), so I had to through her into the mix. I decided on a choreographic theme, with our trio of muses gathered 'round that ancient twentieth-century device, the 45 rpm record player! Groove on, ladies!

The original light blue Col-Erase and graphite pencil drawing on Strathmore 400 creme-colored drawing paper.

Crowquill pen (Hunt's #102) and India ink final.

If you would like your very own personalized, custom-made Don Simpson drawing,
please visit my commission rate page for some ballpark figures and contact me. Luxury you can afford!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Teenagers at 25: Turgid Turtles from the Twentieth Century!

Here is the original art of two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I created in 1989 and 1991. The first, "Teen Techno Turtle Trio Plus One," appeared in the trade paperback anthology Shell Shock, and the second, "Tales of Alternate Turtles on the Moon," parts 1 and 2, appeared in Turtle Soup vol. 2 no. 2, both from Mirage Studios, the originators of TMNT under creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Both cartoonists were fans of my early Megaton Man from Kitchen Sink Press, but Kevin especially patronized me for convention sketches in the summer of 1985 (much of the cash I made that year came from overcharging him for sketched of "Megaton Turtle" and the like), and he even did me the honor of creating a Megaton Man costume for Halloween that year and wearing it.



In any case I was invited to contribute to these anthologies, which were various creators' takes on TMNT. However since I didn't really get the appeal of the Turtles at all (I never got the appeal of the lagte-'70s X-Men revival, either), I substituted my own group of snapper turtles led by a Jerry Lewis-like Nutty Professor mouse. The first story is noteworthy for introducing Pteranoman, my paleolithic take on Batman, who would soon thereafter get his own one-shot from Kitchen Sink, and later figure prominently in Bizarre Heroes.


It is also features some pretty nice cave babes which likewise prefigure The Phantom Jungle Girl, who also made her debut in Pteranoman #1. It also features some inside jokes, such as Proffy's catch-phrase from Larry Marder's Tales of the Beanworld. The "real" TMNT and their rat guru appear at the tail (no pun intended) end.



The second story appeared in color, and is a fairly generic pirate tale, with a very inside reference to Will Eisner and Wally Wood's Outer Space Spirit. It is noteworthy if only because I would later draw a "real" TMNT story for the Archie series featuring pirates.



The copyright status of this material, as far as I am concerned, somewhat unclear. I will have to check my archives, but I honestly don't believe I ever signed a work-for-hire contract, or indeed any contract, for these stories (although I was well paid for the time). As the writer-artist, the Teen Techno Turtle Trio, or Alternate Turtles, if you will, belong to me, and I would probably be free to reprint or collect them, although I would no doubt have to obtain permission to reproduce the panels in which TMNT and Splinter appear, and since the property is no longer controlled by Eastman and Laird, how I would go about that is unclear. More likely I would have to alter those panels in some way.






For some critical appraisal on the first and second story, see TMNT Entity blog.











The original artwork, in any case, remains in my possession, and as complete vintage stories, might be attractive to some collector.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Most In-Your-Face Hero of All ... Spread Eagle!

Part two: More pencils and inks, this time all-new growth from April 2014, as I round out the story from a sketchbook fragment from 2003 (see previous post). Notice the little pieces of tape!




See more here!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Spectacle of ... Spread Eagle!

From a 2003 sketchbook comes perhaps the most Bizarre Hero of all ... Spread Eagle! Below, the original sketchbook sheet and blow-ups lettered and inked in April 2014.


The original sketchbook sheet from 2003. In this same sketchbook are roughs for Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right as well as the Megaton Man Sept. 11 storyline.

Top: the original sketch with blue and graphite pencil additions. Bottom: the inked final.

Left to Right: The blown up sketch; a refined tracing on clear tracing paper; the inked final on Clearprint.

Left: blown up sketch with lettering additions on scrap bond paper. Right: inked final.

Left: blown up sketch with lettering additions on scrap bond paper. Right: inked final.

Top: blown up sketch with lettering additions on scrap bond and tracing paper. Bottom: flag rough next to the inked final.

Inked figure and tracing refinement for the mock cover.
See more here!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Another Unpublished Cover: Bizarre Heroes #1 Reprint

Here is a cover I created for a second printing of Don Simpson's Bizarre Heroes #1 (Fiasco Comics, 1994). I forget whether I solicited this with distributors or not, but if I did the orders were insufficient to go to press with a reprint at that time. Still, it demonstrates my growing familiarity with Photoshop as a coloring tool (the original comic was colored with Cel Vinyl, and overall this cover is a significant improvement, I think).


Here is the cover of the original comic book:


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Double Zero, Triple Action: The Unpublished Cover!

Here is the unpublished but digitally colored cover (by moi) for Bizarre Heroes #00 (double zero), which would have been a reprint of Pteranoman #1 (Kitchen Sink, 1989), one of my favorite comic books. It featured the first appearance of Pteranoman as well as Phantom Jungle Girl, Cowboy Gorilla, and the Brilliant Brain, as well as an intimate interlude between Megaton Man and Ms. Megaton Man. The issue was a real ground-breaker for me as I turned away from pure parody to a more general humorous take on costumed crimefighters. On the cover, photographs of Pittsburgh at Seventh and Liberty Avenue appear as the background.

Orders were insufficient to go to press, however, and dealers were given the option of taking actual Pteranoman #1's instead. Also below is the X-Ray Boy house ad that ran on the back covers of some later issues in the series.