Cranboyz Online

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

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Shane's Favorite G.I. Joe Artists!

Being the GI Joe fan that I am, I thought I'd put together a list of my favorite artists from the series. I started reading GI Joe with issue 8 but had recently discovered a Comic Book Store in town so I was able to pick up back issues and collect on a monthly basis. Honestly, making this list brought back a lot of memories of reading the title as a kid and it was cool to kind of look at the series with those eyes, again.

10.  Frank Springer. GI Joe was probably the book where I started noticing different artists and their styles. Frank Springer brought a simple look to the book but stayed honest to the characters. He reminded me a lot of the traditional comic style of the 70's.

9. Robert Atkins. I won't make excuses, Robert didn't draw any of the original GI Joe series. He was a main player in IDW's reboot of the series and he did an amazing job of making everything fresh and modern while keeping the feel of the original run. On top of that, Robert gave the action scenes a very big budget movie feel!

8.  Herb Trimpe.  In many ways,  Herb is GI Joe! Herb drew issue #1, many issues of the original run, all of the Special  Missions series and numerous additional stories, covers and pin ups. His style really set the tone for the characters and storytelling of the book and I can't imagine what GI Joe would be without him!

7. Ron Wagner. I think Ron gets the credit for making GI Joe feel real. His detail was gritty and everything had a weight to it.  Something about his style made the book feel less and more like a comic book at the same time.

6. Steve Leialoha. Let me start by saying my complaint about Steve Leialoha is that he didn't draw enough GI Joe. The issues he did draw couldn't have been bigger, though.  Issue 21, the Silent Issue (over layouts by Larry Hama), and the Origin of Snake Eyes. I can't imagine reading the Origin of Snake Eyes as drawn by anyone else. The weight of the story, the way the characters looked and moved, it was all exactly right. 

5. Michael Golden. As a kid,  Michael Golden's animated pencils stood out to me way before I knew his name. I  tried to keep this list to people who drew stories,  not just covers and while Michael is known for his covers, he gave us some killer pages, as well! Fast paced and energetic, Michael Golden was a perfect fit for GI Joe!

4. Mike Vosburg.  It was Mike Vosburg's pencils that made me view GI Joe as a comic book and not a silly cartoon. People bled. Clothes were torn.  Muscles flexed. These were soldiers with guns and gear, not super heroes.  

3. Rod Whigham. Rod Whigham came onto the series when I was a little older and starting to catch on to the different artists and their  styles. Rod had a slick style that still fit the rough and wild world of GI Joe.  His characters all looked distinct and accurate to their toys while fitting into this comic book where characters died and could be killed. 

2. Mark Bright. One of my favorite aspects of Mark Bright's style is the unique faces and expressions he gives to everyone. GI Joe is the book where I discovered Mark and I've always been excited to see him on a book, since. Mark had a fresh style for GI Joe,  it was cleaner and more "comic book" than it had been and Mark pulled it off flawlessly!

1. Mike Zeck. No one draws more intense action than Mike Zeck! When he started drawing covers for  the series it looked like the books were literally going to explode! Every cover was a commercial that made me want to read not only this issue but the next! Mike's covers on GI Joe Special Missions are some of my Favorite Joe covers, ever!

Honorable Mention, Larry Hama. Larry Hama is known for writing the entirety of the GI Joe run, as well as the File Cards for the Hasbro figures, however, Larry is also an artist. Larry has done layouts or rough pencils for numerous books over the years, including GI Joe! He continues to write their adventures for IDW and does pencil layouts for the covers to that book, too!

There's a quick look at my favorite GI Joe artists and some of the reason why they  made the list. Now you know...!

Saturday, March 25, 2017


Eric and I discussed a lot of ideas this past year, and one of the topics we covered was the movie, Captain America Civil War. Eric being our resident Iron Man fan and me being a Captain America fan, we laughed some about our two heroes going head to head. Then as we usually do, we turned the conversation to sketches and came up with the idea for each of us to get a sketch of our favorite hero but have the two sketches face together, like one big piece of art!

We were sold! We were going to do it! Now we needed an artist who we could convince to do this for us. Someone dynamic and intense, we didn't want the characters just standing around with mean looks on their faces. And we wanted it to be someone we knew, this was a personal piece for us so we wanted someone that knew us and understood what this meant to us. And we both came up with the same name, Uko Smith! 

We have known Uko and have been collecting incredible artwork from him, almost as long as we've been doing this! Uko knows the Cranboyz and our diverse tastes and interests and there is nothing static about his work! His art is about as detailed and intense as you can imagine.

We planned to see Uko at a show about a month later and prepared our request. We decided on two other things along the way. We didn't care if these were comic book or movie versions of Cap and Iron Man, as long as they were recognizable, Uko could put whatever spin on them he wanted. The second was a bigger deal. This was going to be a surprise to the rest of the Cranboyz, we wouldn't say anything until the big reveal! This isn't how the Cranboyz do things! Traditionally, almost every sketch is discussed and considered by the person getting the sketch as well as most of the group. But Eric and I were confidant in our decision and acted on it. 

Uko was on board! Honestly, he has probably gotten stranger requests from us over the years! He understood the secrecy and that there was no rush, we wanted it by the end of the year and for him to take his time. We talked over the next several months, online or at conventions. We would discuss details and Uko would share his prelims and ideas. At one point, Uko felt bad about how long it was taking, he knew we understood, things come up and we told him no hurry. But like I said, Uko is a friend and wanted us to know he hadn't forgotten about us. So, going above and beyond, he created these "quick sketches" of Wing Head and Shell Head to thank us for our patience! We were blown away by his kindness and the amazing artwork! 

And then, at Akron Comic Con, November 2016, Uko presented us with our finished Civil War Artwork, but he tricked us! He did the piece as one, oversized commission! He wanted to test us to see if we could actually cut it in half! Popa, Kurt and Andy were present for the event and were shocked by it all. We ended up having Uko do the honors of dividing the art. It had to be done. After all, it was a Civil War! 

A HUGE freaking Thank You to our pal, Uko Smith! These pieces are phenomenal and Eric and I are both thrilled with all of it! If you aren't familiar with Uko or his art, check him out online at or chat with him at a con! He's extremely friendly and an amazing artist to watch! 

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Without a doubt, 2016 was one of our most enjoyable group themes! I'm pretty sure this is the most sketches we've collected for a theme and every one of them is a blast of nostalgia! From childhood classics to forgotten gems to full length feature films! We covered a lot of ground collecting original sketches of our favorite characters in Animated form!

Let's start off with the Wonderful World of Disney! Popa went with the uber classic, Sleeping Beauty by Stacey Lee!  And Angel went with the wild and crazy Stitch by Dave Aikins!

Popa kept things fun with Pinky and the Brain by Dave Aikins and the Scooby Doo Phantom Shadows by Joe Staton!

Next up Popa surprised us with Audrey II, from the Little Shop of Horrors (there was a cartoon) by Dave Aikins!

Eric revisited the heroes of G-Force (or Battle of the Planets. or Gatchaman) with Mark by Brendon and Brian Fraim and Jason by Sean Forney!

We collected a few different DC characters. From the Super Hero Girls, Karen and Alaina got Katana by Chad Thomas! Shane had Nate Lovett draw Slade from Teen Titans! And Andy had Gene Gonzales draw Superman based on the Fleischer cartoons and Kinsey Jenkins drew Supergirl from the Superman Adventures cartoon!

From the Batman animated universe, Popa got an impressive Clayface from Brian Level! Andy got Phantasm by Craig Rousseau and Batman Beyond by Andy Bennett!

And let's not forget Harley Quinn, who was first introduced in the Batman Animated episode Mad Love! Karen got her from Karl Moline and Popa got her from Robert Wilson IV!

Now some classic 80's characters! Shane got a Snake Eyes (GI Joe Resolute) sketch cover by Landon and Brandon Franklin! Popa had our good pal, Darryl Banks, bring Skeletor to the collection! 

Speaking of Masters of the Universe, did I mention our newest Cranboy, Eric's brother Kurt, has started a MotU collection! Boy did he pick a great year to start! First off is Battle Damaged, Batttle Armor He-Man by Darryl Banks! Nate Lovett made sure Battle Cat was around too!

Kurt added a few more heroes from Eternia. MekANeck by AJ Sabino! Man at Arms by Scoot McMahon! Stratos by Sean Forney!

Kurt didn't forget the bad guys, either! Tri-Klops by Aaron Archer and Two Bad by Thom Zahler!

 Kurt also got Beast Man by Jay Fife! Trap Jaw by Andy Bennett! Leech by Glenn Williams!

Kurt may own the most impressive Hordak art, ever, thanks to Dave Aikins! And Hordak has a Horde Trooper by Brendon and Brian Fraim!

 Never one to pass up some awesome Craig Rousseau art, Andy commissioned this Fantastic Four  #259 cover homage featuring the Incredibles and Syndrome!

We picked up a few Marvel animated pieces, too! Eric got this 90's Iron Man by Tim Switalski! Andy went for Spider-Man AND His Amazing Friends by Scoot McMahon! And a stunning Firestar by one of our favorites, Todd Nauck!

Andy didn't stop there with the animated Spider-man love! Pat Quinn drew an inspired Green Goblin! Gene Gonzales drew a sassy Betty Brandt! Scoot McMahon drew a spectacular Spider-Ham!

Eric's a fan of the Next Avengers movie and had Scoot McMahon draw James Rogers AND Thorunn!

Who doesn't love Super Hero Squad! Eric picked up M.O.D.O.K. by Scoot McMahon and Iron Man by Thom Zahler!

Eric also picked up this moody Phantom by Ian Nichols!

Big armored guys?  They had cartoons too! Eric had Darryl Banks draw the Great Mazinger! Andy had Brendon Cahill draw a friggin Veritech fighter! (VF-1 Valkyrie, to be exact!)

It's the flying man! It's the Rocketeer! Andy got Rocketeer sketches by Scoot McMahon, Diana Kresge and Nate Lovett! Nate Lovett's piece even includes a Nazi rocket man from the propaganda film in the Rocketeer movie!

The Cranboyz are all about Turtle Power! Karen and Alaina got Michelangelo by Chad Thomas! Andy got Casey Jones and April O'Neil by Rebecca Farrow! Andy also got Bebop and Rocksteady by Ryan Bodenheim!  Popa got the Shredder by Adam Withers! 

More Than Meets the Eye! Transformers! Shawn got Autobots, a Clliffjumper sketch cover by Brendan Cahill and Prowl from Chris Giarrouso! Popa got Decepticon Rumble by Brendan Cahill! 

Andy couldn't collect animated sketches without getting the Iron Giant! K Lynn Smith drew this one for him.

Shane used the Animated Adventures theme to get several Young Justice sketches! Blue Beetle by Nate Lovett! Bumblebee and Beast Boy by Scoot McMahon! Red Arrow by Tressina Bowling!

Brendon and Brian Fraim drew Aqualad and Robin! Mike Norton drew Superboy and Miss Martian! Comfort Love and Adam Withers drew Kid Flash and Artemis! And Brandon and Landon Franklin drew Nightwing!

As for the "villains", Black Manta AND Tigress are by Sean Forney! Cheshire is by Tim Smith III! 

Our final sketch for the collection is Zuma from Paw Patrol! Sebastian Piccione drew him fro Karen and Alaina!  

That's a lot of original art, covering all kinds of animation!  As always, we had a blast collecting these sketches, talking about them, planning them and sharing them! Stay tuned for our 2017 theme! I don't want to say too much but it's a big one, a definite reason to celebrate!