Cranboyz Online

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

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!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Popa's All-Girl Sketchbook 2000-2017

While I started collecting sketches at cons as early as 1993, and started my all villain sketchbook in 1995, it was really the year 2000 that I became a full-time convention sketch tracker.  That was the year Shane and I first went to Heroes Con and the year I started my then second sketchbook, to be filled with my favorite female characters in all of comics.

Starting a female-centric book was mostly because, as much as I loved collecting villain sketches in my first book, I also wanted to get some versions of my favorite female characters, but a lot of them were heroes.  The solution was simple: start a second sketchbook.

Starting it at Heroes was easy enough as they always have a ton of artists.  The first sketch (and I promise I'm not going to post all 79 of them) was by W.C. Carani, who was inking the Legion books at DC at the time.  He did the armored version of Psylocke for me.  As much as I enjoy that sketch, it was the next sketch that really set the bar for the book.

I'd always been a fan of "Legionnaires" artist Jeff Moy and was dying to get something from him.  At Heroes I got my chance and asked for Jesse Quick from the "Flash" titles.  Jeff nailed it, as he always does.  It's still one of my favorite sketches.

The book was off and running.  The first couple years I did a lot of Mid Ohio Cons so Jeff Moy was all over the book as he always did that show and I could never resist getting something from him.  Plus he draws everything perfectly - from Legion girls to Supergirl and anything else in between, Jeff's always been The Man in my book!

Quickly, though, a handful of 'dream' sketches popped into my head - those perfect combinations of character and artist that I hoped to one day grace the pages of my book.  Over the last 17 years I can honestly say I've gotten most of those dream sketches, and a few more that cropped up along the way.

The first dream sketch in there is a Buffy sketch by Randy Green.  Randy's a super artist and a great guy and the next time we went to Heroes he was my main get.  If I remember right, he wasn't there Friday night so I had to wait for him Saturday morning but he got there and delivered my sketch in spades!

Another dream sketch would prove to be more elusive.  From the moment I started the book, I wanted to get a sketch of Mystique from the X-Men by one of my favorite artists, Steve Epting.  At the time I started the book we saw Steve with some frequency so I figured getting the sketch was all but inevitable.

Well, a lot of things happened along the way - at one point Steve went to work for a company called Crossgen Comics and they tied up his convention appearances and when he was there he mostly drew Crossgen characters.  After Crossgen folded, he went back to Marvel and drew the relaunched Captain America title that's the basis for the Cap movies and everything else.  This meant Steve became the superstar artist he always should have been, but it also meant getting sketches from him became more and more difficult.

Did I ever get the sketch, you ask?  YES.  In 2010.  It captures the beautiful bad assery of Mystique perfectly, as I knew it would!

One artist we all 'discovered' along the way was Cliff Chiang.  When we first met him, Cliff had done some cool stuff but he wasn't the high profile artist he is now.  I first got a sketch from him in my villain book (The Riddler) but once he delivered for both me and Shane, he became an artist in heavy demand from the Cranboyz.  When he did the Liberty Belle sketch below, he became a real Hall of Famer.  Of all the great sketches in my book, this is one I always come back to and love.  Sometimes, I can't believe it's mine.

I funny story about this sketch is the character wears jodhpur pants (the ones with the baggy pockets on the sides that aviators wear.)  I spent a ton of time looking for good reference of the pants for the sketch, only to have Cliff draw this waist up shot (which is superb.)

One title I always loved, although it's a bit off the mainstream, is ABC Comics' Top Ten book, drawn by Gene Ha and Zander Cannon.  My favorite character was always Peregrine and I hoped one day to see Gene and get a sketch of her.  We'd met Gene years before, when he was just starting out, so it was great to see him become a huge star.  Gene finally came to Mid Ohio Con in 2006 and, thanks to a VIP pass, I was able to get my sketch from him.  Another classic.

One memorable show for me and Shane was C2E2, the inaugural show in Chicago.  We decided to go and, thanks to some moderately confused staff, were able to basically be the first people on the con floor for the big show.  My plan at that show was to try and get a Voodoo sketch from the elusive Terry Dodson.  Terry doesn't do a lot of shows we get to, as he's based on the west coast.  Getting in the show around 9 am, I bee-lined for Terry's table, knowing then that he wouldn't be there for about 5 more hours.  Still, this was a one time chance.  Terry arrived and was met by my smiling face.  Despite that, he decided to stay at the show and he delivered this perfect sketch to me.

The last sketch I want to highlight is by the late Mike Wieringo.  Long before he passed, Mike did this sketch of Shadowcat for me.  It's easily one of my favorites and, more notably, is a favorite of most artists who flip through the book.  Even when Mike was alive, artists would flip back to it when they had my book and talk about how much they liked the piece he did for me.  I remember telling Mike that and he just kind of laughed.  I never knew Mike well, I'm sure he had no idea who I was, but to have such a special piece of art from an artist we lost far too soon, and to have so many people appreciate it too, is a pretty great reminder of what this hobby can mean.  

I remember the hour or so glowingly celebrating the greatness of The Hellions with Phil Jimenez while he sketched Roulette for me, I remember Comfort Love adding Jubilee to my M sketch, even though I hate Jubilee but it really makes the sketch even more awesome that she's there.  I remember Mike Grell telling some off color stories about Legion fandom while doing my Phantom Girl sketch, I remember George Perez basing my Liberty Belle sketch on Veronica Lake.  I guess I could go on forever about all the sketches, but I won't.

So to every artist who graced the pages of this sketchbook with their art, THANK YOU!!  Every piece means something to me and is attached to a great memory of time with friends and time growing up with these characters.  79 pages later, that's a lot of memories.

Thanks to Trevor Von Eeden who ended up doing the last piece, this cute Batgirl making a heart.

By the numbers, Jeff Moy is in the book the most with 5 pieces.  Todd Nauck, Darryl Banks and Chris Sprouse are next with 4 each and then Paul Pelletier has 3.  A slew of artists are in there twice but I do have to call out Lee Weeks and Barry Kitson who not only did some of my favorite sketches, but are two of my favorite people in the business.

If you want to peruse the entire collection, the link is here: 

I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks again to everyone who's done artwork for me over the years.  Believe me, I'm not done yet!! 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Popa's Favorite Ghost Rider Covers

In the spirit of the season (the season being Halloween, of course) I thought I'd post my favorite Ghost Rider covers.  These will all come from the first two series, which isn't inherently intentional, other than I haven't read a lot of the more recent Ghost Rider books.

In the 70's Ghost Rider was Johnny Blaze and was a bit of an Evel Keneval homage as he was a stunt rider who was turned into the Spirt of Vengeance and his adventures generally took place across the American Southwest.  There were times when the book felt a bit like a dusty 70's exploitation movie but, generally, it felt like a pretty standard super hero comic.  Some of it was good, some of it looks a little silly in hindsight.  You know what doesn't look silly?  Ghost Rider.  The flaming skull on a motorcycle is always awesome.

Somewhere in here Ghost Rider joined a team called The Champions. I can't tell you anything about them.  Ask Dave about them, I'm sure he's read every comic they ever appeared in.

The first series died after 80 issues or so.  There's a story that the comic sold well on newsstands, better than expected and no one knows why.  I know why: Because it had a badass dude with a flaming skull riding a fiery motorcycle on every cover.  Did Superman have that?  No.  Because Superman is lame.

In the 90's Ghost Rider was reborn as Danny Ketch and moved to Brooklyn.  His look was a bit more heavy metal (leather and chains) and the stories had a little more supernatural action involved.  In fact, as the series got popular it spun off a whole line of mediocre super hero action books under the banner of 'Spirits of Vengeance.'  Johnny Blaze showed up too but he was angry and had long hair.  He wasn't happy that Ghost Rider was back.  Eventually they teamed up, though, that's how comics worked in those days.

The Ghost Rider never had the best rogues' gallery, I mean, other than SATAN.  But he did have The Orb who was another bike rider who had a helmet that was a giant eyeball.  I think he's horribly disfigured under his helmet.  They don't make super villains like they used to, my friends.  I have an Orb t-shirt, mostly to impress the ladies.

The second Ghost Rider series died off too, as did all the Spirits of Vengeance books.  Lots of things got cancelled in the 90's.  Marvel relaunches Ghost Rider from time to time but he doesn't always catch on.  Deep down, it's probably Nicholas Cage's fault.  Ghost Rider did appear on "Agents of SHIELD" but it wasn't Johnny Blaze or Danny Ketch so I have trouble giving a shit.

Without further rambling, here is my list of my 10 favorite Ghost Rider covers ...

The older ones are mostly by Don Perlin, the second series ones are mostly by Mark Texeira.  I could be wrong on a couple, but those two did most of the Ghost Rider heavy lifting.

10. GHOST RIDER #46  When your alter ego calls you a loser, it's time to rethink your superhero adventures.

9.  GHOST RIDER 16: YES.  Ghost Rider is fighting a SHARK.  And his head is still on fire even under water.  Why?  Because it takes more than salt water to put out the flames of Satan.

8. GHOST RIDER #6 (Series 2):  Remember how HOT this book was in the 90's?  People were dropping $20-$30 to see Ghost Rider crossover with the Punisher.  Do you know how many Ghost Rider comics you can buy today with $30?  All of them.

7. GHOST RIDER #15:  This cover has it all: Ghost Rider. The Orb.  A hot chick.

6. GHOST RIDER #51: Do my eyes detect an evil truck?  And aren't I always a sucker for evil vehicles?  YES and YES.

5. GHOST RIDER #15 (Series 2):  The best part about this cover is it GLOWED IN THE DARK.  That was a thing in the 90's, that people complained about.  The 90's were stupid because people complained about comic book covers that glowed in the dark.  There was a Spectre series and like every cover glowed in the dark.  That should have been the best-selling comic of them all.

4. GHOST RIDER #34: I love these melodramatic covers.  "THE DEMON WITHIN."  I have no idea what this comic is about.  I haven't read it in like 30 years.

3. GHOST RIDER #54:  The second appearance on our list of The Orb.  I thought I knew evil before I met The Orb but this cover informed me that I was incorrect.

2. GHOST RIDER #1 (Series 2):  The iconic cover that started the second Ghost Rider series.

1. GHOST RIDER #38:  Now this cover REALLY has it all: Ghost Rider, a satanic leader, a hot damsel in distress.  This is how comics were sold in the 70's, my friends.  Or, in my case, as back issues in the late 80's.  Crass exploitation is what sells comic books, my friends.  Never forget.