Saturday, June 25, 2011

Not to scale

ballpoint pen on scrap paper - circa 2009 - 20010

Just one of hundreds or perhaps thousands of sketches I've done of ZONE.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day Tribute

THREAT! #7 October 1986 - Page one of a seven page segment

Yeah, that guy in the circle, that's my dad, he's standing next to a stylized version of my mom on the left and my brother Scott is two people to the right of him about to take a drink.

Who's that peeking out from between the pines?

The Creator meets his creation.

For nearly 20 years a seven foot tall man-monster stood a silent vigil outside my parents home.

That's right, sometime in the late 80's or early 90's my dad made a ZONE out of plywood and kept it in his suburban back yard.

I'm unsure of the actual year he created it but the young gal on the left in the bottom photo is all grown up now and the mother of a toddler herself.

My father was always one of my biggest supporters, particularly when it came to ZONE.

Thank you Dad, it always tickled me and made me proud to see a life-sized version of my character.

Sadly time and the elements took their toll on the big guy, ants had eaten through his body and his time to stand silently among the trees was no more.

This past spring while I was visiting my parents I noticed the once proud head resting against the garage, it was all my dad could save of our creation. I asked my dad if he would mind if I took the head home, he gave his permission and it now sits stoically on a shelf in my apartment.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Unpublished three page story and notes on its inspiration

Marker on typewriter paper - 6" x 9" - year unknown

These are drawn about the size of a comic book. I'm not sure what I did them for, as a layouts for pages or just to try drawing at print size. ZONE doesn't have his weird shoulder wings so I know they were drawn after ZONE appeared in DARK HORSE PRESENTS, so this was drawn in maybe 1990 or 1991.

I'm satisfied with pages one and three but page two just doesn't work for me. I was trying to show three different things simultaneously. I think the sequence could be extended over a couple more pages.

Now, the inspiration for this story I remember clearly.

This was inspired in part by Patti Smith's poem: the amazing tale of skunkdog, the first portion of which follows:

the amazing tale of skunkdog

don't be surprised if death
comes from within...

seven days and six nights the hero watched relentlessly.
horizontally under the sky. without food, drink or friend.
what was he after. what was he looking for.
a sign? an answer? a way out? something new.

now on the seventh evening of the seventh day hero
was holding on by a thread. lack of sleep, provisions
and loving arms was taking its toll. he ceased to
look up.

fair hero. he who was so intent on keeping his eyes
peeled immediately missed out.

for he had made the sky jumpy. his piercing stares
put it on edge. when he finally looked down the stars
went haywire. cassiopia rocked like a cradle.


As mentioned in my previous post The Amazing Skunkdog, In the early eighties I had entertained thoughts of illustrating Patti Smith's poem. This ZONE story was a tribute/swipe/homage to her work. To this day her words are still powerful and I can visualize the stars going haywire, I just don't think I've adequately visualized it on paper yet.

Did you notice the Pepsi can?

That is partially in answer to the perennial Coke or Pepsi question. It 's also a tribute to June Gibbons' novel The Pepsi-Cola Addict, a novel I have never read. In fact, it is a rather rare self-published novel that's quite had to get a hold of but the name really struck a cord with me.

I learned of June and Jennifer Gibbons by reading Marjorie Wallace's fascinating book, THE SILENT TWINS. Well worth reading or at the very least Googling. The Welsh twins had independently devised their own secret language and rarely spoke to anyone but a younger sister.

As teens the twins decided to become famous writers and both turned out several self-published novels. Their story is both sad and fascinating, at the time I read THE SILENT TWINS they had both been committed to Broadmoor Hospital.

the amazing tale of skunkdog is © Patti Smith
The portion printed here is is done so without permission but with the hope that she would understand.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Amazing SKUNKDOG

black crayon on paper – circa 1980 - 1981

The Amazing Skunkdog - from my first year at The Kubert School. I believe these were done as part of a character design assignment for Milt Neil's, Introduction to Animation class.

The Amazing Skunkdog, name and inspiration come directly from a poem by Patti Smith in her 1978 volume BABEL.

I was planning to adapt the poem to comic pages and my well-worn copy of BABEL still has pencil marks in the margins indicating where I would break the poem down into panels and pages.

What does this have to do with ZONE?

A year before ZONE was finally delineated The Amazing Skunkdog was clearly his visual predecessor, we can see it in his hulking frame and the unique shape of his head.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Regrets, I've had a few...

Ink on duo-shade board - 1986
Page 25 from issue # 3 of THREAT!

Back in the day, the THREAT! guys were a regular fixture at Robert Geenberger's NYC comic conventions. We'd sit at a table and promote our book, talk to fans and maybe do a couple of sketches. And then one convention, when I was feeling particularly mercenary (and probably broke) I decided to try and sell my pages.

Well, I sold one page, this one, for $35.00 which was about what we were getting as a page rate back then. This one was one of my favorites and I've regretted selling it ever since.

I've always wondered if the guy who bought it hung it on his wall or just slipped it into a portfolio in his closet or under his bed.