Monthly Archives: February 2010

Thinking Outside the Bat-Panel

Since my son recently alerted me to my old animated Batman commercials online, I figured it was a good time to look back on some other non-comic related Batman projects I did during my decades long association with the Batman (there’s still a Brave and Bold comic on the way, so the association ain’t over yet!)  I did T-Shirts, puzzles, Happy Meal Boxes, Colouring Books, DVD covers, magazine spot illustrations… I’d say over half of the Batman art I’ve done over the years was for sources OTHER than comics…

Let’s start with the HOW TO DRAW BATMAN BOOK, from the year 1998.

Copies of this book are still at a bizarrely high $140 dollars on Amazon, for what was a ten dollar book only a decade ago.  I’m as flattered as a drag queen at a Mardi Gras Debutante Ball that these books are at skyrocket prices, but I’m equally annoyed that Walter Foster has kept them out of print for so long.  They’ve repackaged parts of the book at least two different times, but each time cutting half of the original pages away, to add pages by John Delaney and Ron Boyd.  But now even those repackaged versions are out of print and also at sky-high prices.   They sent me a box of thirty copies when it was originally published, and I used to give ‘em away like candies, figuring I could always get more.  HAH!

In general, I’m very proud of the book, and the overall experience, as the final product turned out much how I wanted it to, and I got along with all concerned.  (Subsequent editions of the series caused me a little tsuris, and I famously got into a public internet tongue lashing, which I now greatly regret, and won’t dredge up at this point).  A bunch of the HOW TO DRAW BATMAN pages were drawn at a cabin in the woods, drawing it on my lap, or on the steering wheel of the car, parked under a street light out by the highway, where the light was better (and I may or may not have been nearly attacked by a moose, the family still debates this event…).  That was fun.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I’ve planned to write a HOW TO MAKE COMIC BOOKS monograph and publish it.  Sort of a collection of my lectures from art college (that I’ve been giving for years), mixed with some comedy and original stories, exclusive for the edition.  I’ve also been meaning to climb Everest, wrestle a live shark and curse out Perez Hilton to his face, just to see what he’d do.  But there are never enough hours in the day to get this stuff done AND to sit around watching my kid play Mass Effect and eating cheese balls.

I’ve never offered the original art from this HOW TO DRAW book for sale, because the art from happy meals boxes, toy designs, posters, DVD covers and HOW TO DRAW BATMAN doesn’t seem to interest the public at a comic convention.  But I’m happy to dip a toe in the water and see if there’s any interest in these non-comic Batman art pieces online.

Ty the Guy

PS:  Get me drunk, and I’ll tell you the time I was swimming in the Atlantic with a live shark, but didn’t wrestle it at all.

Books by Ty

Whilst cruising the ‘net, looking to see this and that, I tripped over some reviews of Bigg Time which led me to Amazon.com, a site I don’t normally go to (we’re Canadian–our big box book store which has crushed all the little guys is Chapters Indigo, which in itself is a combination of two big box bookstores.  And not so much bookstore as “anything we can sell to you store”.  I never thought I would be able to buy baby slippers, Christmas ornaments, and salt and pepper shakes at a bookstore).

Anyway, while there, I started poking around, setting up a bio page for Ty (waiting on confirmation that he is who I claim he is “from the publishers) and found a list of all of the books he had some hand in, which are currently on sale through Amazon.  Impressed me…and if you’re looking for something, might be a place to start (and I think, online bookstores are the only place to get a copy of theHow to Draw” books he did for DC/Walter Foster many, many years ago).

Books by Ty Templeton at Amazon.com

Keiren

Animation by Ty, Part Deux

Whoops–missed one!  Not sure how exactly I missed this** (or Ty, who had a lunch meeting with Rick Green just YESTERDAY! Something they’re thinking about doing about some old show the two of them love called…Hover something…hoverguy?  Hoverman?  Hoverboy?) but I forgot all about the opening credits for the old TVO show, Prisoners of Gravity.

(Ty did do a handful of cartoons for the first episode of Rick Green’s show, History Bites.  But the concept of the show was tweaked and after the initial episode, the focus was on the pretense that the viewer was channel-surfing and tv guide-checking at the time period of each episode: thus, no need for cartoons that were meant to seem as if they’d been taken from magazines or newspapers of the time.)

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**Heh–might have helped if I’d checked Ty’s IMDb (very incomplete) credits where they actually list him as the Title Designer for the show.  Who knew?

Keiren

Ty’s Housekeeping

Ty was wondering, as a pack-rat of the first order, whether there was a chance he had the old art for the Zellers Batman commercials…  As of now, he hasn’t found any of those pieces, but he did find many, many other interesting pages.

So far he’s shown me:

the original pre-Stig’s strips he did in high school and art college

the original cover rough sketches for Dark Claw Adventures

an original concept sketch of Dark Claw

the sample art he sent to Playboy back before his superhero comic days

and much, much more.

I’m trying to talk him into some scanning and blogging…

Keiren


A Little Housekeeping

I’ve been trying to tidy up around here, and make things a little neater, and more accessible (after spending seven hours doing that today, kinda explains why my house is such a mess).  To that end, I’ve taken away the list under “Art for Sale” off to the side there…just click on “Index of Available Art” for a list of all the various page galleries.

Keiren

Animation by Ty

We (he and I) have done posts before about animated projects Ty has been involved with (goodbye, months of our lives gone to Dexter Early Cuts!), but yesterday’s post made me think I should just quickly gather ’em all in one place.  So, here, with no fanfare whatsoever…

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Zellers Law of Toyland commercials

featuring Joker

featuring Penguin

featuring Catwoman

featuring Riddler

(Ty did storyboards, layouts, full-animation for all the parts that repeat for each commercial and then, reveals for the Joker and the Penguin (coming out from the cash register.  He was less-involved in the latter two)

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Jerry Seinfeld and Superman for American Express commercials

“Hindsight is 20/20”

“A uniform used to mean something”

There’s a third one I have to hunt down…

(Ty did the still images that transform into the live action…if you have an eye for it, you’ll recognize his lettering for the titles)

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Dexter Early Cuts, “Cindy Landon” webisodes for Showtime

Dexter Early Cuts, “Cindy Landon”

(Ty did all the drawings–not for the credits–and the colouring for those drawings.  With an assist from Yours Truly. Animation was done by KTV Media.)

And Ty says this re-mix of the Batman commericals amused the hell out of him, so he asked me to put it up for ya (we’re still busy arguing about where it should go in this sequence…as I’m the one at the keyboard, I currently am winning, but at any moment he could shove my chair out of the way–it’s on wheels–and take over).

Holy Perplexity, Batman

Keiren

MY FIRST BATMAN CARTOONS ARE ONLINE!

How amusing to see what the internet can dredge up from its depths.

Many years back, I worked on a series of animated Batman commercials, pushing the Toyland department of Zellers stores. ( Zellers is a Canadian version of K-Mart or Target, just a small step up from a Walmart.) I did storyboards, layout, background art and key animation for about 60% of these ads (more or less all the repeating parts, and all the villain “reveals” [except Riddler] are my work, and most of each commercial repeats quite a bit).  You can see how fond I was of Brian Bolland in the slavish imitation of his designs and style I followed.

This Zellers Batman gig, by the way, eventually led to my working on Batman: The Animated Series for about two weeks (where I drew nothing and wrote nothing), and eventually to my gig drawing and writing the tie-in comic (The Batman Adventures).  But that’s a story for another day.

As we only had video tapes to copy things onto back then, my copies are essentially destroyed–so degraded I can’t play them anymore, and I’ve wished I had playable copies for years.  But someone had copies and has uploaded ’em to YouTube.  Here’s a link to them , and here’s a link to an article over on Topless Robot that alerted me that these things were out there.

What blows my mind is that there’s remixes and dance versions of these things.  BWAH HAH HA HA HA HA HA!

It’s getting weird when the internet has better copies of your youth than you do.

Ty the Guy


Nepotism Thursday! Apples, Trees and Original Sin!

It’s my son’s 14th Birthday today, so naturally it’s time for another “NEPOTISM THURSDAY!” (which falls on a Wednesday this month,  quite common, I assure you).  But because the kid’s going to get lots of expensive gadgets and free food later, I’m going to talk instead about the cartooning work of my father, Charles “Chuck” Templeton, and how far apples fall from trees.  So THERE, beloved son!

Just a quick tease this time out, with a couple of Dad’s sports pieces, scanned from the original art that hangs on my wall and from clippings…Chuck had a  regular cartoon gig for the  Toronto Globe and Mail in the 30s (*actually, when Charles was 17.  By 21, he started his career as an evangelist.  kts),  for about four or five years in what was Dad’s early twenties.  He drew mostly sports,  and some political cartoons with both a remarkable skill for likeness, and a playful skill for comedy.

I had no real sense of my father’s illustrating and cartooning work until after he died.  And though he taught me one or two things about proportion and how to hold a pencil when I was very young, it was nothing like professional secrets or anything.  And since his work was all printed and packed away decades before I was born, I saw almost none of it, until it was entrusted to me when he passed away.

So, what that amazed me most about his work once I got to see a lot of a it at once, is that I see many similar things to my own style in there.  Similar compositional methods, similar lettering even, and the basic skills are in the same zone, though in different styles for different generations.

Considering how little he taught me about the biz, and how little of his work I saw growing up, how freaking odd that there are so many similarities.  My parents were divorced, and I was raised by my mother, so it’s not a question of nurture…  Is there a GENETIC component to an artist’s aesthetic?

YEESH?!?

More of my father’s work to come in future weeks.  I’ve got stacks of it, and much of it is very good.  PLUS, it’s a nice slice of history for the Canadian Comics Corner buffs out there…including Mr. Pincombe.  As for me, I’m off to teach my comic book bootcamp course tonight, and maybe buy my teenaged son a slice of cake, and sing.

NEXT:  How I turned down sitting on an upcoming panel with Stan Lee and Harvey Pekar next week, (I’m an idiot), and the stirrings of JOHNNY CANUCK!  Oh, so exciting!

Ty the Guy!

Hoverboy-Friday on SUNDAY! CURSES!!

Once more, knee-deep into the land of Hoverboy we go, fellow inter-tube travelers, and this time, we’re exploring the wonderful world of the infamous “HOVERBOY CURSE”.

Most fans of The Battling Bucket know that co-creator Bob Stark ran down both his dog and his gardener the day after he created Hoverboy, in an accident the police dismissed as “hi-jinx” in their official report.  But the death of his beloved dog Skippy, and his casual acquaintance, Carlos the groundskeeper, would haunt Stark for the rest of his life.   Often, Stark would wander to the end of his driveway on Stonebrook Terrace and stare intently at the trees found there, where he would then start to whistle violently, calling for either the dog to come “do his business” or the gardener to “Trim these damn shrubs!”.   These episodes increased as the creator got older.

Some consider this tragic car accident the official start of the curse.  Others cite the meteor strike that killed Stark’s parents the week later.  Certainly the meteor strike was more memorable, singling Stark’s family out so specifically from the  crowd like that at the baseball game.  Either way, from that month  forward, and until his death at the hands of overzealous mall security officers in 1982,  Bob Stark’s life and the life of his creation, Hoverboy, were surrounded by mysterious and bizarre tragedies with a frightening regularity.

As this is the fiftieth anniversary of “The Day the India Ink Died”, when most of the staff of Vigilance Comics was killed by a dose of weapons grade botulism toxin that was accidentally spilled into the machine that wrote out the company cheques, I thought I’d focus on the curse and the cartoonists.   (Steve Ditko, the only survivor of the famous Vigilance disaster, had refused to cash his cheque for Hoverboy #37 that month, as he claimed later it was “against the higher laws” to do touch money throughout all of February.  Famously, when Ditko co-created Spider-Man with Stan Lee two years later, he would insist on being paid entirely in trousers and butter.)

The twenty eight cartoonists who died on February 13th, 1960 were not the only Vigilance artists to die mysteriously.  In fact, the regularity with which these poor ink stained souls would pass away was so frequent, that amongst working illustrators, a Hoverboy job was known as “taking the last gig”.   So great was the fear of the curse, that creators such as Kirby, Adams, Steranko and Toth stayed away from Hoverboy throughout their lives.  Lucky for us they did avoid the curse, and got to spend long years working at their craft.  Well, except for Steranko, the lazy bum.

At any rate, let us now pay tribute to some of the other unlucky craftsmen who “took the last gig”.  This is but a partial sampling of the many Hoverboy artists and writers who died of suspicious circumstances.  The loss to the golden and silver age of comics cannot be calculated, but some experts estimate it at around eight thousand dollars in unpublished art.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolled for these guys…but good.

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Ty the Guy

Upcoming events

in the Toronto comic scene…

Over on The Joe Shuster Awards blog, they’ve done an entry about all the upcoming cons for the next few months. Take a look, and make your plans accordingly…Ty should be at a few…umm, maybe all of them.

Keiren