Cranboyz Online

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

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fundraiser for The Cran!

Dear Friends, and Customers,

It is with great regret that I write to inform you of the following situation. As some of you undoubtedly know by now The Cran has been diagnosed with Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia a slow-growing lymphoma (cancer that begins in the cells of the immune system). This form of cancer is a rare, only about 1,500 cases in the US annually and at this time there is no known cure for it, but there are several treatment options available to help control the symptoms of the disease.

The past few years have seen hard times for the store as evidenced by the downsizing to a smaller location and eventual closure, as well as for other small businesses in this depressed economy. Being a small business owner the Cran didn't have health care coverage, and most of his finances have been exhausted in trying to keep the store going. Adding this rare illness on top of all these other factors has been a huge financial burden for him, and he is unable to seek other work because of this disease. We are trying to organize a fund raising dinner to help raise some money for the man who means an awfully lot to us to help him meet his day to day expenses, as well as medical costs.

If Land of Cran was an important place in your life or you enjoyed your time shopping there, we are asking you for your generosity and kindness to help by either donating money, buy a ticket to the event, or place a bid on one of the silent auctions. Anything will be appreciated in this time of need.

Bill's Books & More will also have dinner and ticket information as it becomes available.

The Cran is a member of a local organization of friends and businessmen that call themselves the Pigdogs, and they are the ones who are putting together this fund raising dinner. They contacted Shane and myself to bring in the comics side of Cran's life to help make this event the best we can.

The event will be a spaghetti dinner at the Greentown Athletic Club. We are hoping to sell 500 numbered $20.00 tickets for a chance at a grand prize which will be a total gym courtesy of Fitness Quest Inc, Canton OH and door prizes (depending on donations),

From donations of themed baskets, corporate gifts, original comic art, sports tickets etc. money will be raised via "silent" auction, where bids are written on a sheet below the prize. Some of the comic artists involved with us are:

Robert Atkins (GI Joe)
Darryl Banks (Green Lantern)
Tome Feister (GI Joe Origins, Ex Machina)
Gene Gonzales (Pin-Up Artist)
Scott James (Mutants and Masterminds)
Comfort Love and Adam Withers (Mutants and Masterminds, the Uniques, Rainbow in the Dark)
Todd Nauck (Young Justice, Wild Guard and Amazing Spider-Man #583)
Joe Pekar (Pin-Up artist)

The key to make this a success is to raise most all of the funds before the event. All of you who where nice enough to say you would help in any way, or you do not live here and want to help, there is a paypal donation button at the top of this Blog and 100% of the money will go Directly to the Cran.

Benefit Dinner for The Cran!
Where- Greentown Athletic Club 9944 Cleveland av nw Greentown 44630
When- Sat. April 2nd doors open 3:00 Dinner 4:00-7:00 grand drawing 7:00

For more details contact:
Shane Simek - 330 704.9026,

Terry Bigrigg 330.639.9349,

Thank you so much for your contribution!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Iron Spider

Hey everyone! Hope 2011 is treating everyone well so far! As for me, I'm still moving forward with digital coloring, and here's a piece I did to learn a different coloring technique. It's called cel-shading, and it's used in primarily in animation and more graphic styles of illustration. I've shown the process in the series of images below. I used my sketch of The Iron Spider from Craig Rousseau from Mid-Ohio 2010.

First, I scanned the original line art into Photoshop and prepped it for coloring:

Next, I flatted the image, providing the base color for the character:

Then, the I used cel-shading to adds depth and volume to the character:

Finally, I created a cool spider web background to make the character pop off the page.

So, that's it! Hope you enjoyed it! Also, check out Craig Rousseau's blog entry for today, showcasing not the black and white sketch he did for me at the show, but my colored version!


Friday, January 7, 2011

2010: The Year In Cons: C2E2

I remember either in late 2009 or early 2010 emailing Shane when the initial C2E2 guest list came out -- at the time the main names were Steve Epting and Butch Guice. Shane blew me off. He's like that. Jump ahead another month or two and I get a call from Shane asking if I'd seen the C2E2 guest list -- oh, it had grown! We went from having never mentioned the show before to buying plane tickets and making hotel reservations in about a day. And the list KEPT GROWING!

Now, with a big guest list comes big questions. As most of you know I'd been suffering from The Mystique Curse since 2000, when, after getting my Dr. Doom sketch from Steve Epting at Heroes Con I said, 'next time I see Steve, I'll get Mystique from him.' Well, years passed, Epting went and got famous (or as we Cranboyz realize, he finally got the credit he deserved for being one of the best artists in the business) so getting sketches from him got tougher. Then he went and killed Captain America and he became nearly IMPOSSIBLE to get. Cranboyz wept. Getting sketches from Steve Epting was one of the things that kept us going. As time went on, The Mystique Curse started to take on a life of its own; fearing I'd never get a sketch from Epting again I decided I'd get one from Ron Garney, a guy we saw fairly often, if not all the time. As soon as the decree was made, Garney went off the grid. I then decided to get her from our friend Cliff Chiang, who had delivered for us time and time again. We TALKED about it ... but the day came and Cliff got busy and didn't get to me. It happens. Especially when Mystique is involved.

Sooo ... I decided to make getting a sketch from Steve Epting my top priority at C2E2. I was going to get Mystique dang it!

But then Epting cancelled. The Curse lived on.

Seriously, though, that was, in its own way, a blessing in disguise for me at C2E2 as I then decided to set my sights on getting a sketch of Voodoo from the great Terry Dodson, who I'd never met and who rarely ventures to shows in our range. But getting Dodson is work. You've got to WANT IT. And what Cranboyz want, Cranboyz get.

Before C2E2 there was a retailer convention, now Shane and I aren't retailers but we did know a certain man named THE CRAN who ran a comic book store and who got Shane and I passes for the Diamond retailer convention that was to be held the days before the show. Now, Shane and I didn't necessarily care about the retailer expo but we did care about the fact that retailers got into C2E2 THREE HOURS EARLY the first day of the con.

Now, being who we are, Shane and I decided that since retailers get in at 10, we needed to be the FIRST retailers into C2E2 so we figured we'd get there 8'ish. We took the handy C2E2 shuttle to the convention center, along with a group of people who were going to an entirely different convention and who weren't pleased to find out they were being dropped at the polar opposite end of the convention center from where they needed to be. We went to registration and got our badges and then noticed something about C2E2: The security was kind of incompetent. They were letting ANYONE in who had a retailer badge, even though it wasn't 10 am yet. We pounced and beelined for Artist's Alley. I can say with absolutely no exaggeration that for about a half hour, Shane and I were the ONLY PEOPLE in artist's alley. "First In, Last To Go!" I got in my spot to wait for Terry Dodson, who would be at his table in a mere FIVE HOURS.

As time went on, I was joined by a few other anxious Dodson fans, most of whom I knew from other shows. We did what fans in line always do before cons start: hold spots in line while people line up other sketches! Honestly, it was a great time and the good company certainly made waiting for the show to start a lot of fun.

Terry Dodson showed up, of course and his pal John Popa was FIRST on his sketch list!

And Voodoo? Voodoo is one of my favorite sketches I have:

With that sketch setup, others fell in line: Jeremy Haun, Jim Calafiore and Bob Layton in the villain book, Jeff Moy waited for Dodson to draw in my girls sketch book and Jacen Burrows took my monster book.

Burrows wasn't doing full sketches, he was there with his publisher and was mostly doing head sketches. Still, he did a great Leatherface fo me.


As usual, C2E2 was falling together the way a Cranboy con does.

After drawing a very ... subtextual ... drawing of Serpent Society member BUSHMaster, Jeremy Haun chastized me a bit. Jeremy and I share a deep love of horror movies and he was a bit let down to 'have' to draw a super villain for me, instead of getting to play in my monster book. Well, I'm never one to let my pal Jeremy Haun down so we chatted horror a bit and before long he was drawing Pennywise the Dancing Clown for me in my monster book.

The BUSHMaster:

Pennywise the Dancing Clown:

Jim Calafiore, known for drawing incredibly cool armored characters took on the challenge of drawing obscure Thor villain Kurse for me. Kurse is one of my favorite designs and Jim was excited to do the sketch. BEFORE he did it. When picking up his sketch, Jim smiled, shook his head and declared the armor "a real pain in the ass to draw." He said it with a laugh and then went on about how much of a big fan he is of Walt Simonson, Kurse's designer.


Legendary creator Bob Layton also hooked me up. I was a little torn, 2010 was Armor Wars for the Cranboyz and Layton is as linked to Iron Man as any other creator. But I'm also a big fan of Valiant Comics and wanted Master Darque from my favorite Valiant book: Shadowman. In the end, my nostalgia won out and I went with Darque. I swung by Layton's table at the end of the con Friday but he hadn't gotten to my sketch yet and asked that I stop by in the morning to pick it up. I asked if we was going to do it at night and have it ready first thing in the morning or if he was going to do it first thing in the morning at the con. Bob's response was "one of those two." I laughed. For the record, it was ready as soon as the show opened the next day.

Master Darque:

Jeff Moy delivered a great Tarot for me. Jeff's been one of my 'go to' artists for as long as I've been getting sketches. Unfortunately, we don't see him as often as we used to so I was thrilled to get him in my book AGAIN. His Tarot is great -- and my love for the Hellions knows no bounds. For the record, he had no idea who the character was. He's a DC guy.


As the weekend wore on, C2E2 was interesting in that a lot of the artist alley artists, guys that are usually bombarded at Heroes Con, weren't as busy. It was a lot of casual fans, more into the displays from the publishers.

Needless to say, when a Cranboy sees spots available on Chris Samnee's sketch list, we fill those spots up ASAP. The nice thing about Chris is we know him well enough that we can not only pick characters we like, but we can also pick characters HE likes. Once upon a time, Chris posted a sketch of Buffy on his blog and said something about being a huge fan, in later conversations he mentioned he'd do about anything to draw a Buffy comic. Well, I'm not an editor at Dark Horse, so I can't get him the Buffy comic gig but I CAN hook him up with the opportunity to draw a Buffy sketch for me. And he did something wonderful that led to something VERY cool that Chris and I are going to do as time goes on ... but more on that in the Heroes Con post.


Sunday morning rolled around and I still had one more wish on sketch list. My longtime friend Paul Pelletier was at the show. Like Steve Epting, we'd discovered Paul when he was barely known but he's gone on -- through his incredible talent -- to become a top hand in comics. Now, in the old days, he didn't like doing con sketches. He'd just sell me pages for cheap. Which was nice! Still, getting sketches is a cool thing for us and over the years Paul had started doing sketches. At C2e2 he finally broke down and took a list even. So Sunday morning I went over to him and asked if he could fit me in, and he obliged. I bought a splash page from Paul of Crystal from the Inhumans and getting a Medusa piece to compliment it seemed like a pretty logical thing to do.


Now, that was all the con sketches I got at C2E2. But, earlier in the year I'd commissioned the great Brian Hurtt to do a Wolfman piece for me and we'd agreed I'd just pick it up at the show, rather than make him ship it. Now I'm generally in awe of the art I pick up at a show, but, even still, when I first saw this piece I don't think I could even string together a sentence. It just blew me away!


So that was C2E2, just in artwork. What else happened? Oh, we sought out some Chicago-style hot dogs and Shane pranked called me in the middle of the night. His excuse? He was trying to record me sleeping.

Yeah, it's creepy.

Next stop: HEROES CON 2010.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010: ARMOR WARS finale

With 2010 behind us, our theme of Armor Wars is now complete. We really had a fun time with this. My favorite is when one of us would get a sketch and say, "Hey, he can go in the Armor Wars!"

We certainly covered a lot of characters and different ideas with this theme. And really, that is the fun of it. I remember very clearly when JLAdam threw the idea out there, and it was obvious it was going to work. However, I had no idea it would be the cause of all of this!!

I will keep it simple, a roll call if you will. If you want to know more about the stories of any of these, check out our galleries at Comic Art Fans, or ask us, we'ld be happy to share!

The Cranboyz Present, 2010: ARMOR WARS!

Apocalypse by Todd Nauck for Popa:

Avalanche by Darryl Banks for Andy:

The new Blue Beetle by Karl Moline for Dave:
Cobra Commander in Battle Armor by Paul Azaceta for Shane:

Star Wars Clone Troopers Rex and Cody by Adam Withers for Shane:

Star Wars Clone Troopers Hevy and Echo by Adam Withers for Andy:

The Cimson Dynamo by Darryl Banks for Shane:

Cyborg by Jim Calafiore for Shane:

First Appearance Dr Doom by Darryl Banks for Popa:

Dr Doom by Bob Hall for Shane:

The Dreadknight by Casey Jones for Eric:

Iron Man Mini Marvels Hulk Buster Armor by Chris Giarrusso for Eric:

Iron Man post Armor Wars armor by Bob Layton for Shane:

Iron Man Silver Centurian by Darryl Banks for Eric:

Iron Man Space Armor by Uko Smith for Eric:

Kurse by Jim Calafiore for Popa:

Lilandra by Jay Fife for Shawn:

Lex Luthor by Andy Smith for Popa:

Mandroid Armor by Uko Smith for Shane:

Night Thrasher by Comfort Love for Shane:

The Predator by Brian Hurtt for Popa:

Spider-Man in his Iron Spider armor by Craig Rousseau for Andy:

Steeler of GI Joe by Chris Giarrusso for Shane:

Stingray by Greg Schigiel for Karen:

The Super Patriot by Scott James for Shane:

Ultron by Robert Atkins for Shane:

War Machine by Ron Frenz for Shawn:

War Machine Mini Marvels style by Chris Giarrusso for Karen:

Thanks for checking out our "sketch theme for 2010"!