Saturday, October 20, 2007

Saturday, October 13, 2007

It was twenty years ago today...

...give or take a few months.

After working at GEM Studios for eight years, doing storyboards and finished art I decided to pursue some comic book work. I enjoyed superheroes, but I wasn't too thrilled with the idea of drawing them. Norm Abramoff owned a small comic book shop in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and one day while we were talking I mentioned that I was interested in creating comics. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a surprise hit, so doing a small press comic seemed feasible. By chance I had my portfolio in the car, and while looking through it Norm suggested licensing a well known property and turning it into a comic book series. The Honeymooners was a big late night syndication hit on TV, so he thought that property might be a good candidate for publishing.

Norm and I partnered with Triad Publications and produced the Honeymooners for three years. The best part of the job was managing and directing a small group of freelancers- friends and co-workers I'd met and whose work I admired. My buddy Vinny Abbruzzese would help me out on cover art by airbrushing our logo, while Susan Sykes and Ted Camut would assist me in rendering the story pages. I'd do the inks and color the figures to set the lighting and Susan and Ted would take it from there. When they were done I'd make a final pass over it. Some sequences, like the midnight snack and exploding hot dog were solo efforts. Vic Spadoni supplied color tinted covers for a few issues, as well as cover art for issue four. The 48 page Christmas Issue would have been cancelled without the help of Brian Postman, who provided two full page pencils and lots of color work.

A young Jimmy Palmiotti did some retouching for us on a photo of wrestler Lou Albano and a carousel horse for our interior covers of the Coney Island issue. And Evan Dorkin expressed interest in working with us, but he never did for some reason or other.

John Reiner of the comic strip Howard Huge (Parade magazine), helped out with page layouts for the issue in this post, but I don't have any recollection of how he became involved. Maybe our publisher, Ron Merians hired him to help me get ahead of schedule. I almost had the chance to work with Jim Fern, but it never happened.

A big highlight in the run was when the legendary Jack Davis illustrated a wrap-around cover for our "Coney Island Baby" issue. One of the biggest, most beautiful pieces of illustration I've ever seen. I wonder where it is now?

The greatest part of the whole experience was working with breakdown penciler Win Mortimer. Win began his carreer at DC in the late '40s, and was one of their most prolific cover artists. In the early '60s DC began publishing Batman Annuals. Their cover art was usually a large Batman figure and a few reproductions of the covers from stories reprinted in the issue. Win's covers were always my favorite, so you can imagine how happy I was to work with him. He was a consummate professional, always getting his pages in early, and every panel was perfect.
At least until I got in there and mucked it up with my inks.

It was lots of work and lots of fun. I hope you enjoy these images.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rods and Monsters...

This is another Franky image from the same "80s book as the previous post. I was a big fan of Mr. Monster in the eighties, loved Michael T. Gilbert's art and quirky scripting style. Old MM stayed in print for at least ten years and was always a fun read. Sadly these days MM is only the host of "Mr. Monster's Comic Crypt", a series of articles appearing in Roy Thomas' "Alter Ego" magazine. I think Michael T. is currently writing stories for Disney comic books, I'm hoping he'll script a few more MM adventures. I miss that ol' monster hunter!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Old tricks...

These are out of a sketchbook from '82. In those days NYC was an anything goes place and totally out of control. There were guys selling reefer on every corner, cars being stolen every minute and drug treatment centers filling every square inch of open real estate in the run down sections of the city.

It looked like the kind of place that would scare Frankenstein's Monster, so I did a few gags based on that notion. Over on the "Gum or Mints" blog the subject is Frankenstein's Monster, I'm doing something new for that site but I thought it would be fun to post these here.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Break shot...

Time stood still in some parts of my old neighborhood in Brooklyn. Old bars full of old drunks and Pool Rooms populated by "hitters" who never grew out of the fifties. Most of the tough guys were gofers for the local mob family, low level thugs who would get their hands dirty while the capo's sat in their social clubs sipping espresso and talking about the old days. I'd occassionally see incidents like this one, and then document them in sketches, with varying degrees of success.

(detail, inks & prismacolor pencil, 1976)