Tag Archives: comic book artist

Unseen Sketchbook land. Dredd! Batman! Headless nudes!

Hey internet.  I’m actually drawing something in my lap as I type this, I’m so busy finishing up something that should have been done yesterday, but I wanted to pass along a couple of these images from sketchbooks past.

The school at which I teach (Toronto Cartoonists Workshop) is having a faculty show in a few weeks, and it’s been suggested I put together a sketchbook for the event, since I’m one of the few guys on earth who doesn’t have one available at conventions.

Wife insists we do this, I concede, and much scanning is planned.  So I’m posting a very small sample from just the first scanned book out of the twenty or thirty sketchbooks I have in my studio.   This will take time, in between my other gigs, to sort out anything worth looking in this vast wasteland of nude/figure studies and odd doodles, but I’m told someone might want to look at some of these pages, so I present a few of them before they get collected up in the book.   We’re just at the start of the winnowing process, so I have no idea whether or not any of these pages will make the final cut.

The Dredded Sketchbook begins.

From the nineties, when DC had the rights to Judge Dredd – I was working on a  Dredd pitch right around the time the series ended.  The script was written, or at least plotted, but it got stopped before any art was done.   Dredd figures abound in sketchbook pages of this period, either because I was thinking about him a lot, or because I was hoping to draw the script I was writing, I honestly can’t remember.  All my 90’s sketchbooks have Dredd pages in them somewhere.

Saw a guy wearing this on the history channel and HAD to sketch it before it left my head.  Back in the crusades, apparently, knights would wear candles on their helmets in crown formation, so they could raid the heathen locals at night, and because it was scary as fuck.   It’s not so much the sketch that pleases me about this doodle, but the idea that occurred to me as I was drawing it;  it looked like  a halo, and perhaps that was the actual purpose all along?

The typical thought stream of a sketchbook page.  I’m doing a warm up figure drawing and I see something on the history channel about hand paintings on the outside of caves being a universal image found all over the world, and I start to wonder if it began with bloody hand prints, made by early hunters, and almost without asking it to, my hand draws a sketch of a caveman killing the bunny.   Let’s hope there are no psychiatrists looking in at the blog today.

Speaking of cave-men.

Met this guy in an elevator at a Star Trek convention in Niagara Falls, sketched this in my book as soon as I sat down in the hotel room.  There was something about the crazy Klingon eyes and the double chin that made it all magical to me.

Last year for Christmas, my wife asked me to do a drawing of Batman for a neighbourhood kid as a present.  I treated the gig like any professional job and did three sketches of the idea for approval from an editor in my sketchbook.  (I think my wife stepped into the role).  My editor picked the Batman in the rain one, but I’ve really come to LOVE that dropping cape shot, I think because Batman’s mask is an almost perfect ying/yang balance of black and white in simple shapes.

Here’s the rainy shot in its final form, by the way.

So very Christmas-y.

Ty the Guy OUT!

Here now, your sketchbook BONUS moment:

Nudes and Judge Dredds.  It was bound to happen.

Jeffrey Catherine Jones RIP

The Led Zepplin of Comics

From left to right:  Bernie Wrightson, Jeffrey (Catherine) Jones, Michael Kaluta and Barry Windsor Smith, back in the Seventies when everything was hairy and fun.

Catherine Jones passed away this week.  She was one of my favorite artists and painters and creators of amazing comics.  I never met her in person, though I had gotten to know her just a little bit on Facebook in the last year or so… which was a treat, but it her made her sudden passing sting a bit more.

Thirty-some odd years ago, Catherine (then known as Jeffrey, before her sex-reassignment operation) was one of four superstar artists in the comics and fantasy illustration world who shared a space in Manhattan called The Studio.  This  magical treehouse caught my imagination when I was a teenager, because I wanted to make comics someday, and these guys took this art and comics shit SERIOUSLY.

I ate this book from cover to cover. Consumed it and digested it like a four course meal.

The most eye opening thing about that book up there, was that it introduced me to the fine art sensibilities of this quartet, especially Jones’ paintings and sketches.  He was the one that leaned away from comics towards painted expressionism and pre raphelite lyricism, and was clearly the biggest influence on the other three.  But Jones always held on to his OWN influences from the great fantasy illustrators of yore,  including  Frazetta, Howard Pyle, N. C. Wyeth.

I adore Jones’ paintings, but I’m a comic book artist at my core, so it’s no surprise that my favorite work by this complicated individual was the delightfully hard to pin down Idyl.

This series of one and two pages comics ran in the back of the National Lampoon and then later in Heavy Metal (under the name, “I’m Age”) .  They were the most bravely unapologetic bits of pretentious irony I’d ever seen, and at first I thought they were a blunt satire of American comics – but as I read more and more of them, I came to see they were actually a subtle  satire about everything, and I fell in love with the series.  It hit me right between the eyes and spoke to my brain perfectly. And oh, the skill of those illustrations…

  You should go spend time at Catherine’s website, where you can marvel at a mere fraction of her life’s work.

Sorry to see you go, Catherine.  You made stuff worth looking at.

Ty the Guy OUT!

I stopped calling these extra bonuses the “moment of zen” a while back as I was tired of ripping off Jon Stewart…but with Idyl, there’s really no other name for it.  So here now, your Jeffrey Catherine Jones Moment of Zen…

click image to make it much larger

Clement Sauvé 1977-2011

This is stunningly difficult to write.  Clement Sauvé, the brilliant Montreal comic book artist, has lost a brutal fight with cancer at the age of 33.

Clement and I worked together a while back, creating the HUMAN DEFENSE CORPS comic book for DC.  As a writer, I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful and faithful version of my scripts.  As each page came in, I was elated at the work, and a little jealous that Clement was so much better at drawing than I was.

A cover we produced together. Sketch by me, finished art by Clement.

I only found out Clement was sick about 48 hours ago, and was planning a wonderful tribute to him on Friday, to give him a nice shout out while he was in the hospital to lift his spirits.   But we didn’t have even that long.


Look at how GOOD this guy was at drawing hardware and soldiers. Amazing levels of detail and care.

I’m thrilled I got to work with Clement.  Equally thrilled I got to meet him and hang out at a Toronto convention a couple of years ago.   He recorded an interview for a Hoverboy documentary for me, and it was screamingly funny.  I’m going to pull out that footage soon and cry my eyes out.

33 years.  That’s just wrong.


To check out more of Clement’s work, click HERE for his Deviant Art page.

My own little Thing

For various reasons, I’ve had to draw Ben Grimm  (the recently published Harvey Pekar Meets the Thing, for instance—from Strange Tales Volume 2 #3…)  Hope ya got one, it was a fun issue.

Well, after the third or fourth time you draw Ben’s mug, you realize how badly you want a detailed map of the cracks on his face, and the proportions of his brow ridges, etc, as it’s hard to visualize, otherwise.  The normal solution is to roll up your sleeves and do a turnaround on the character, but I happened to have a bit of clay laying about from a different project I was mucking about with…so….


It's Clobberin' Time!

I tossed this together in about half an hour.  It’s the size of a baseball, more or less, and after doing it, the Thing’s face makes complete sense to me if I have to draw it from a strange angle.

Or give him dramatic lighting.

The material it’s made out of is simple air dry clay, molded by hand, with a butter knife for the flatter parts, and a push pin (for the details).

In the long run, it’s almost a form of me being lazy.  It would have taken me about an hour to do a proper turnaround map for Ben’s head, and I wouldn’t have had a chance to get really mucky and sticky.

I’ve done this a couple of times before.  I made a Two-Face model like this when I was having trouble with a Batman cover.  And I made clay models of the main characters in my graphic novel BIGG TIME when I was working on that.  It’s a super-quick way to burn a character’s features into my brain to make them “real” with your bare hands.  Usually, I find I don’t have to use the little head as a model after I’ve made it.  The act of sculpting it creates the model in my brain.  Does that make sense?

Of course, with only one colour of clay, I can’t make those baby blue eyes, the ones that make Thing the idol of millions…

Ty the Guy OUT!

Here now, your Sculpture of The Thing’s Head Moment of Zen