Cranboyz Online

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

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.


Day 15 and it's still Cran-tober!
BONUS Secret File!
BONUS Cranboy!


Friday, October 27, 2017


More Cran-tober!
Day 14!


Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Cran-tober continues!

Still More Cranboyz!

Day 13!


Monday, October 23, 2017


It's still Cran-tober!
And we aren't out of Cranboyz, yet!
Day 12!

CRANBOYZ Secret Files: ANDY!

Saturday, October 21, 2017


Day 11 of Cran-tober!

CRANBOYZ Secret Files: KURT!

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Day 10!
More Cran-tober!
More Cranboyz!

CRANBOYZ Secret Files: ERIC!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Cran-tober Continues!
Day 9! More Cranboyz! More Secret Files!

CRANBOYZ Secret Files: NICK!

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Cran-tober Day 8!

CRANBOYZ Secret Files: ADAM!

Friday, October 13, 2017


Cran-tober Day 7!

CRANBOYZ Secret Files: POPA!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


More Cran-tober!
More Secret Files!

CRANBOYZ Secret Files: DAVE!

Monday, October 9, 2017


Cran-tober Day 5!