Cranboyz Online

A place for the members of the Cranboyz to share stories about Comic Books, Conventions and Artwork!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Popa's Villain Sketch Book 1995-2018

Earlier this year I finished my sketchbook of female characters and now, a few months later, my oldest sketchbook, my villain sketchbook is also wrapped up.

When I started collecting sketches, Shane was getting his X-Men sketchbook up and running and I'm sure Iron Osier was getting Iron Man sketches from anyone he could find who had a pencil.  Also, our friend and sketch collecitng mentor, Wayne, was filling a book with Legion of Super Heroes characters so I knew I needed a theme, I just didn't know what theme to go with.  I was a huge X-Men fan but Shane was already doing that.  Nothing else was really sticking until I got the idea of villains.  It gave me room to get all sorts of characters but it was still a strong theme.  And it allowed me to be the villain of our group, which I always am :)

Once I started my second sketchbook getting only female characters I also decided there wouldn't be any female villains in the book.  It would be all dudes.  Well, mostly.  I'd eventually add Drusilla from "Buffy" but she's with Spike, at least. 

I also decided as time went on that I wanted to try and get all the major heroes represented by their villains.  Some were easy - Batman, Flash and Spider-Man have enough cool villains to fill their own books!  Some were tougher: Even Superman's rogues' gallery is pretty weak.  (But Andy Smith did an awesome armored Lex Luthor for me.)  As I'm more of a Marvel guy, it was easy to find cool, obscure Marvel villains but it was tougher with DC.  Keeping the balance of power was a challenge sometimes. 

Getting every hero represented by their villain became an adventure unto itself.  While it started with obvious stuff, Batman, Spider-Man, X-Men and the like, by the end I had Transformers villains, Masters of the Universe, Buffy, there's even a Scooby Doo Phantom Shadow in there!  Every hero has his villains and they're usually pretty cool. 

One thing about this book is that artists tended to have fun with it.  When they got the villain book, they usually got to draw something they didn't have to draw all the time.  My fascination with second tier villains only added to that!  I mean, I got most of the Serpent Society in there!

Some anecdotes and what not ...

The first sketch is Two Face by Cully Hamner.  I got that sketch at a con in Akron and wasn't entirely sure who I wanted to kick off the book.  Cully suggested The Joker but I'm more of a Two Face guy.  Two Face it was.

Years later I ran into Cully and showed him the sketch and he said he loved the joke but hated the sketch.  I'm a big fan of both!  (Artists rarely like their older work, even when it's awesome, like this sketch.)

At Heroes Con 2004, the Cranboyz were cleaning up with sketches across the board.  I still say, sketch for sketch, it's the best haul we've ever pulled in at a show.  One sketch I got there was from Howard Porter, who drew Ultron for me.  When he got my book and flipped through the sketches, seeing what other artists had done already he said 'aw crap, now I have to do a good one.'  And did he ever.  I won't talk about Andy's man crush on this sketch!  It was all I heard about all weekend. 

Porter slid the book down to Ron Garney who did Captain Cold on the next page, and it's just as awesome as Howard's sketch! 

I also got to reignite some childhood memories when I got a sketch of The Hobgoblin from Ron Frenz.  The Hobgoblin story in "Amazing Spider-Man" is certainly my golden age of reading Spider-Man and Ron was the artist on all that.  Hobgoblin's a favorite of mine and Ron delivered what looks like a panel from the book brought to life.

When Erik Larsen came to Heroes Con in 2006, the show was a zoo.  I really didn't expect him to be doing sketches.  Still, that Saturday morning I wandered over to his line and waited to see if I could talk him into one.  At the time he was EIC of Image Comics and was set up at the company booth.  There were a couple guys in front of me who were DIE HARD "Savage Dragon" fans, which is Larsen's creator-owned book.  Man, they were all having fun talking to Erik's book and I didn't even really read it.  I almost got out of line.  I didn't though and when I got up to the front, I asked Erik "how many Image trades to I have to buy for you to do a sketch of Doc Ock" for me?"  He looked at me a little puzzled and said 'do you have a sketchbook.'  I said, yes, it was all villains. He grabbed the book and went to work, churning out a smart-assed Doc Ock for me.  He wouldn't take any money ... but I did buy a couple Image trades anyway, because it was cool of him to do it for me.  This sketch always brings a smile to my face.

Sometimes you get a sketch from an artist's artist - a guy that other artists are in awe of.  These sketches automatically up the street cred of your book, my friends!  Take, for example, this sketch of Kingpin by John Paul Leon.  It got to the point that when I gave people the book to work on, I just assumed we'd have to talk about John Paul's sketch when I got it back.  Once I came to get my book from Casey Jones and he was sitting with the book open to Kingpin and said 'we need to talk about this.'

This sketch also features what Bob Ross might call a 'happy little accident.'  If you see all the white and gray in the background, what happened was John Paul was working on Kingpin's shoulder and his black ink kind of exploded.  So in order to fix it he added that entire background!  (You can still see the black blob if you look closely at the back of the sketch.)

I also want to call out our friend Andy Bennett, who not only does awesome sketches for us all the time, he's been given some extremely obscure characters to draw for us, and he always delivers.  There just aren't a lot of Master Pandemonium, Black Flash or Orb sketches out there, but Andy knocked them out of the park, generally shaking his head at whatever oddball character I had for him this time.  (Hm, maybe should have gotten an Oddball sketch from him!)

Thanks, Andy!! 

Speaking of obscure villains, when I was collecting sketches of Flash's Rogues' Gallery, I definitely wanted a sketch of Rainbow Raider but, well, most people like to make fun of the Raider.  I went to my friend Adam Withers and said I wanted a Rainbow Raider sketch ... but I didn't want a lame sketch of Rainbow Raider.  Adam took on the challenge and gave me a Rainbow Raider who's fed up with being called lame!

I do want to call out this Scarecrow piece by Tommy Castillo.  Tommy passed away a little while ago and I was always a fan of his work and his company. He is missed.  When I asked him for a Scarecrow sketch, I said I had character reference and he smiled and said 'don't need it!'  Love the scalpel in his hand - this is one terrifying Scarecrow! 

The last page of the book came from Dave Aikins, who had some friend with our Animated Adventures theme and added Pinky & the Brain, off on another plot that probably won't work out as planned.  Thanks, Dave! 

Pinky & the Brain are on the last page but the page before that is the last sketch I got in the book, and I picked that up today.  I wasn't sure what to do for a last sketch - we always try to do something special when we wrap up a sketchbook.  I had a couple ideas but they weren't feeling right.  The right sketch hit me in phases.  First I decided to get a sketch of The Key because he was JLAdam's favorite villain.  As I got to the last page, though, I also remembered that BOTH The Key and Prometheus were Adam's favorite villains, all because of Grant Morrison and Howard Porter's run on "JLA."  That was it!  Believe me, if you knew Adam, you heard him prattle on about those two characters - AT LENGTH.  "The League needs more thinkers," indeed.  

We've been blessed with friendship from artist Darryl Banks for a long time and Adam loved his stuff as much as any of us.  When I reached out to Darryl to see if he wanted to do the last page with Adam's favorite villains, he, of course obliged.  It really was the perfect ending to the book.

I know, a rather sentimental ending to a book filled with so many bad guys.  Thanks, Darryl, again.

Thanks again to ALL the artists who have graced my sketchbook with their art.  I hope you enjoyed drawing something a bit out of the ordinary.  Or, in some case, something WAAAY out of the ordinary.

If you want to see the entire collection, it's here:

Saturday, March 3, 2018

G.I. JOE The Movie!

2017 marked the 30th Anniversary of GI Joe the Movie! This animated feature followed on the heels of Transformers the Movie and featured the all-star talent of Don Johnson (as Lt. Falcon), Burgess Meredith (Golobulus) and Sgt. Slaughter! Being a pretty big Joe fan, I remember it well and enjoyed parts of it (The opening credits sequence) more than others (Cobra-La)!

  Being the 30th Anniversary, I decided to focus any GI Joe sketches I collected in 2017, on the movie! There are a few I didn't get to but a few others that I lucked out on!

Cobra Commander's look has always stood out in the cartoon and there's a scene at the beginning of the movie, in Serpentor's throne room, where the Commander's wearing a cape. That look was great and that went to the top of my want list! I was able to get Brian Sheerer (of the IDW GI Joe run) to do this one for me and it came out great! 

Next, I went to Sean Forney, who I've been lucky to get some killer art from, and gave him a challenge! I wanted a Trouble Bubble! basically a seat with engines, a canopy and weapons! Sean not only stepped up, he knocked it out of the park!

 It dawned on me while I was working on this that I've never gotten a sketch of anyone in a GI Joe jet pack (or JUMP from the toy line)! Well, pretty much the entire team wore them in the opening credits of the movie, so I talked with Brian and Brendon Fraim who delivered Duke looking like a Real American Hero! 

Next up was my excuse to get a real kick ass looking Beachhead! I wanted this one to really stand out because Beachhead is a favorite of mine and an A-list Joe! Although artist Joe Pekar is known for his good-girl style art, I've chatted with him enough to know that he doesn't mind drawing a little macho and since he's a fan of 1st person shooter video games, I knew he'd deck him out in cool gear! Joe Pekar did me one better and gave me a battle damaged Beachhead, ready to stay in the fight!

Moving on to Beachhead's "Rawhides" gave me great excuses to pick up some art of characters that I like but wouldn't normally go crazy over. Jinx was a free sketch by James Giar at a Free Comic Book Day event! They were supposed to be head sketches but he wasn't busy and wanted to know if I cared if he used some water colors! As you can see, he had a great time working on her!

My longest surviving friend, Eric, was excited about a sketch he was getting from local artist Lee Xopher so I thought I'd give him a try! As you can see I ended up with a cocky looking Chuckles, which fits the character perfectly!  

When I was working on ideas for this little theme I tried to come up with ideas of who to have draw some of these characters. I've gotten a few pieces from Nate Lovett, who's a super guy and a heck of an artist! His style is somewhat animated and very colorful so I really wanted to include him but I wasn't happy with any of my ideas for him. Then I remembered that Nate has done a bunch of work for Paw Patrol and I couldn't pass up the chance to have him do Law and Order! He did them in his own style and the two couldn't look more ready to jump into battle!

In all honesty, in my years of collecting GI Joe art, I've never planned to get a sketch of Big Lob! He was great in the movie but never appeared again and never showed up in the comics, which I was more into. I got kind of excited about adding him to this collection and wanted his sketch to be dynamic and in color. It just so happens that Scoot McMahon fits those criteria and drew me Big Lob in the midst of battle! 

I've had the chance to meet and chat some with Pat Quinn, who's done some work on GI Joe comics for IDW, any art I've gotten from him has always been dead on! I thought he might have fun working on Tunnel Rat but I had no idea! The detail on this piece is unreal! You'd think he went into some wet, creepy tunnel to reference it!  Fun note, the Tunnel Rat action figure came with a huge M60 machine gun, which has always drove me nuts because he could never carry such a massive weapon into the small spaces he's known for crawling around. So after I contacted Pat Quinn about this sketch I asked him NOT to draw him with the M60, which he was already referencing for my sketch! The tactical shotgun he switched to makes me much happier!

Sgt Slaughter and his Renegades! I have always enjoyed these characters and wished they would have been used more often! This Sgt Slaughter I picked up at Free Comic Book Day from Robert Walland! Taurus is from FCBD by Rick Lozano! Red Dog is from a different FCBD event by Martin Egeland! I'm so glad I picked these up and added these characters to my ranks!

My favorite Renegade has always been ex-Cobra Viper, Mercer! I wanted to do something more for my Mercer sketch and hit up my long-time friends, Comfort Love and Adam Withers. Adam jumped on it and then ran even further with it! He turned Mercer into  an Arnold Schwarzenegger stand in on Arnold's Commando movie poster! It's perfect in every way! Mercer was basically a bad 80's action hero and the job Adam did makes me wonder why he never got his own movie! The best! 

This brings us to Cobra-La! As a kid I was never a fan of the fantasy based, bug themed group of Cobras. As an adult I never saw a reason to change my mind and was always quick to say I would never own any artwork of Cobra-La! I was wrong. I couldn't honestly think of getting sketches spotlighting characters from GI Joe the Movie and not include Cobra-La! It was actually fun to think outside of the box on this one!

Pythona is definitely my favorite part of Cobra-La. She was tough and cool and broke into a Terror Drome in like 10 seconds flat! This sketch I happened upon online by artist Matthew Campbell who was drawing cartoon characters for Ink-tober! Pythona hadn't been sold so I picked her up for my collection!

Golobulus was only cool because he was voiced by Burgess Meredith. My good friend, Popa pointed out artist Travis Hart's artwork and it was clear he had a thing for monsters! I asked him about drawing Golobulus and he knew him as soon as he saw my reference. Obviously, it was meant to be!

Nemesis Enforcer was kind of cool, big bat wings, blades on his arms and no one could stop him but he just grunted and killed people. When I asked local artists Landon and Brandon Franklin if they'd draw him for me they got excited! Then I got excited when I got this sketch of Nemesis Enforcer, complete with a dead soldier in his hand!

So, I went from wanting no Cobra-La art to owing this gem! I've known former Kenner/Hasbro toy designer, Aaron Archer, since way before he worked in the toy industry.  I've gotten some art from him but he always complains that he wants to do something more for me than a "con sketch." When I was putting together these ideas, I asked Aaron if he would draw a Cobra-La character for me because I know he has a talent for drawing monsters and fantasy characters. I told him he could draw whoever, it was up to him. Aaron took this as his opportunity to draw me that "something more" piece we'd always discussed and I don't have the words to describe it! First of all, it's giant! Aaron claims it got away from him a little! It's ALL of Cobra-La, about to invade, and they're not friendly about it! The detail and depth are insane!  The designs of the characters are fantastic! You really have to see it to believe it!  Oh! And Aaron made prints of it! So, if you see him at a show or signing, you can grab a copy for yourself! But this one's mine!

YO JOE! Here's to the next 30 years of GI Joe!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

2017 The SILVER AGE!

 The Cranboyz have been around, collecting sketches and going to cons for 25 years!!! We decided to celebrate our 25th Anniversary with Silver, Silver Age characters!  The Silver Age of comics is considered to be from 1956-1970, which is the true era of Super Hero comics! So we had no trouble finding Silver Age characters to collect! 

There's no doubt that Batgirl became a household name due to her appearances on the 1960's Batman television series but we all know and love her from the Batman comics! 
Kurt got his Batgirl sketch from comics legend, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Popa got his from comics legend Trevor Von Eden!

Supergirl, the maiden of might! Karen got her Supergirl sketch from Karl Moline! Shane got his Supergirl sketch from Tressina Bowling!

The Justice League of America makes a strong appearance in our collection! Beswick got his Hawkman sketch from Darryl Banks! Eric got his Green Arrow sketch from Brendon and Brian Fraim! Kurt got his Wonder Woman sketch from Gene Gonzales! 

Andy collected an entire JLA of his own! Martian Manhunter and Aquaman are by Brendon and Brian Fraim, Green Lantern and Flash are from Darryl Banks and Black Canary and Green Arrow are from Pat Quinn!

 The Duo of Shane and Andy got sketches of Hawk and Dove (of Hawk and Dove)! Andy got Hawk and Dove by Nate Lovett! Shane got Hawk and Dove by Ron Frenz!

 Shane commissioned this sketch cover from Scoot McMahon of Flash and Kid Flash and got a bonus Gorilla Grodd!

The Cranboyz collected plenty of villain sketches, too! Popa got this intimidating Darkseid from Dave Aikins and Eric got his Joker sketch from Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez!

Just like in the comics, you never know when Lex Luthor will show up or what he'll be up to! Kurt had Martin Egeland draw Lex Luthor and got this bonus Lex vs Superman sketch cover! He also got Lex Luthor from Scoot McMahon!

The Osier brothers got a few sketches from Marvel's first family! Darryl Banks drew the Silver Surfer for Eric! Martin Egeland drew the Thing and the Invisible Woman and Ron Frenz drew the Watcher for Kurt!

 Popa collected sketches of the Mole Man from Ron Frenz and Annihilus from Craig Rousseau! Eric got this Silver Surfer and Galactus from Martin Egeland!

 Doctor Doom demands sketches! Beswick got Doom from Andy Bennett! Shawn got Doom from Darryl Banks! Andy got Doom from Brendan Cahill!

Popa collected 2 sketches of his favorite Inhuman! Crystal and Lockjaw are from Barry Kitson! Crystal is from Gene Gonzales!

Avengers Assemble! Eric picked up Hawkeye by Bob Hall! Kurt picked up Wonder Man by Arvell Jones!

 Shane collected several Avengers from Darryl Banks, Iron Man, Giant Man, Thor and the Hulk!

 Popa bought Shane this Barry Kitson page from Avengers issue 4.1, featuring Captain America, Hawkeye, Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver (not to mention Jarvis and the Frightful Four)!

 Shane added some Silver Age characters to his Captain America collection! Sharon Carter by Darryl Banks! The Falcon and Captain America by Craig Rousseau! Gabe Jones by Brendan Cahill!

Representing the villains of the Marvel Universe, Popa got Tiger Shark from Brian Level! Eric got The Grey Gargoyle from Sean Forney, the Fixer from James Giar and the Gladiator from Andy Bennett!

A couple of Marvel big bosses! Andy Bennett drew Mephisto for Kurt! And Andy drew the Yellow Claw for Shane!

 Sketches from Asgard! Kurt picked up the Enchantress from Joe Pekar and Loki from Pat Olliffe! Shane got Loki from Darryl Banks!

 The Master of Magnetism! Shawn got a Magneto sketch from Pat Quinn! Kurt got his Magneto sketch from Robert Walland!

The Man Without Fear! Andy had Brian Level draw Dare Devil! Popa had Lee Weeks draw Black Widow!

The Amazing Spider-Man! Andy had Matt Wieringo draw Spider-Man! And Thom Zahler drew Aunt May and Uncle Ben (and some wheatcackes!)!

Spider-Man has his share of villains and we collected sketches of many of his rogues! Kurt had Darryl Banks draw Doctor Octopus! Andy had Darryl Banks draw the Enforcers, Ron Frenz draw the Kingpin of Crime and Travis Hart draw Morbius! Travis Hart drew the Rhino for Popa!

Spider-Woman! She didn't appear until 4 years after the Silver Age ended but Andy didn't realize that when he commissioned Tressina Bowling to draw her. He knows that now but wanted her included since he got the sketch "in the spirit" of the Silver Age.

 The Invincible Iron Man! Eric loves some Iron Man art so the Silver Age was perfect for him! Eric's sketches of the Mark 1 armor are from Steve King and Andy Bennett!

 Eric got some Iron Man Mark 2 armors from Abdul Rashid! Gregg Schigiel! And Ron Frenz!

The Iron Man armory continues with Mark 3 armors! These are by Scoot McMahon, 2 by Brendon and Brian Fraim and Ron Wilson! 

Iron Man isn't the only guy to upgrade his armors! Eric got a Crimson Dynamo Mark 1 by Scoot McMahon and Crimson Dynamo Mark 2 from Arvell Jones!

 A few more classic villains for Iron Man! Eric got the Mandarin by Pat Quinn! The Freak is by Travis Hart!

And our final Silver Age artwork for 2017! Eric commissioned this painting of Iron Man versus Titanium Man from Kelly Williams! 

 The Silver Age! 25 years of collecting art with the best group of friends this side of the Negative Zone! Our sketches are great but what we can't express here is all the great times and laughs we shared along the way! 

Here's to the next 25 years!