Thursday, January 29, 2009


Rocketo's new Journey takes him and his crew to places that were never shown in the vol.1 Journey to the Hidden Sea. I look at that map and I see the names written on them, and now I realized its time to bring them to life.

The Ocean of Cyclopes is crossed by Rocketo and his new companions, while trying to escape a Lucernian War ship. Its a desperate act in the story, as the Ocean has never been crossed. The reason: there is no water in the Ocean of Cyclopes, just giant jelly eyeballs as far as our eye can see. Waves of swirling eyeballs, that if one stares at them, your worst nightmare or your biggest dream is shown to you. Many have plunged into that mire without ever coming back. Rocketo forces the men, to throw their weapons overboard, as the visions, they see will test their will power.
These quick studies in my sketchbook, help me to visualize the sequences, and to design that dreaded Ocean. These tiny drawings are a wonderful guide for me later, as things that I thought would look great turn out to be really bad or, every once in a while, if I am lucky...the visuals actually work. Then the time comes to let it all go and just let the page take over.
Slowly the journey begins.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


 Had some time to do some quick playful studies of cover designs for Frankenstein. I would be a long time sketching to exhaust all the many graphic treatments this wonderful book has to offer. To do something with a lot of color instead of the traditional dark muted colors was my goal.
 Hope you enjoy.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009


  It was fun to play around with some quick color studies on the Old Man and the Sea. What a great illustration job that would be. These little color notations are a great way practice, and play. 
Best to all of you.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


 It feels like a Marlin chase now..
 Where will I wind up? Like Santiago says.. "I have gone to far out." That is were I want to take Santiago, to far out. I took a break, hit some more sketches.. the more I draw of Santiago, "Not enough" keeps repeating in my mind.. This guy is taking me out to sea.  What a blast.



 I figure there must be some grunts and fouls being called from some of you who are following this blog, and are expecting more Rocketo work. But the truth is that I get my inspiration for the Rocketo books, by reading many different types of books. It is sad to say but few comics actually inspire me these days, in many their artwork is fantastic and the writing is in some top notch, but I think the Superhero genre has hit its wall for me. So in the search for inspiration I look at some of my favorite old comic strips, and read as many books as I can. 

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway is one of those classic books that most of us are commanded to read while in school. I had to, and I hated it. At the time, I thought that good writing, was the type that described every single minute detail of what was going on in that scene.
Plus my mind was full of John Carter of Mars, and Doc Savage.
Years later, I read the Old Man and the Sea at the suggestion of an old friend who had pitched Hemingway to me. Not bad, I thought... maybe I will read up more of this Ernest fellow. 

Little by little like a boulder rolling toward my skull, Ernest Hemingway would smash me to bits. It hit me. Those short powerful sentences, the action, the truth, caught like a japanese brush master on paper. This was comic book writing at its best. 

Recently I was lucky to have a copy of the Old Man and the Sea available to me again, and so without any hesitation I once more met Santiago, and the giant Marlin. The ultimate battle of wills, in the waters off Cuba, man vs. giant Marlin! Its much more than that we all know. Santiago knows his mission in the world, he is old and wise... he knows exactly the type of fish he has caught by just feeling the line ever so softly. He is a master of his craft. May we all be so lucky. Santiago holds on to his Marlin, knowing he will kill it, but never once losing respect for the creature that is pushing him to his physical and mental breaking point.
As artist, we all know what that is like. That search for the truth, holding on to something, fighting with it, bringing it home for others to enjoy.
 Santiago's struggle is not about winning or losing, for me its about doing that which you were born to do.
As Santiago the old fisherman talks to himself in that small boat, Ernest writes.." Now is no time to think of baseball, he thought. Now is the time to think of only one thing. That which I was born for."

Zen Master at work. The artist concentrates. The fame is so short, everything ends, but the work, the love of the work is eternal.
When thinking about how I would draw the book, there were so many directions to go it was hard at first. I finally thought I would handle it with as little realism as possible. So that Hemingway's words of truth would be your anchor. 

Santiago came in my head like some giant red crab, some old sea creature that had been burnt by the sun. Quickly I did these sketches to try to get that feeling down as quick as I could, to try to feel the heat around his shoulders.

 In the meantime I will keep trying, keep sketching Santiago out, whenever I have some free time.
And yes, at some point more Rocketo.

My best to all.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hideous progeny

  Still thinking about Frankenstein... 
 I came across an interesting thing that Mary Shelley wrote in her introduction to the 1831 edition. "Perhaps the component parts of a creature might be manufactured, brought together, and endued with vital warmth."

 This got my noggin the book Dr.Frankenstein experiments on dead bodies, but there is no mention that a dead body was used to create the creature. Later in the story when Frankenstein begins to build another creature, there is no mention of him dragging a body to his new Laboratory. So it could be that Dr. Frankenstein "manufactured" the creature's parts in his own strange way. Created organs, and brains, eyeballs, and hearts to fit the creature's great size. 

 The vision that stuck in my head was of some overgrown embryo, a creature that would have giant blue veins, under almost, yellow, white translucent skin.. A bad sculpture, half finished, half aborted, if you will of a human. The creature would be either made from science or from some strange mystical darkness that the young Dr. Frankenstein was experimenting with, symbols that would be written over the creatures body.

  The vision was so great, I knocked out these quick color studies to use for a larger painting later.

I will keep at it, when the time permits sketching away at this creature that has captured so much of my imagination. 

Friday, January 16, 2009


 With those words, the monster taunts his creator.
 I just finished re-reading Frankenstein. The last time I read it, I was in college, and now I wanted to refresh my memory of the famous novel. My mind was swirling with the images and symbols that Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley so wonderfully created. The passionate, obsessive creator works non-stop to make his work, only to abandon it after it's done. The creature, who in many ways is superior to man, searches for acceptance. Then in a horrid  turn of events, the creation recreates his creator, fashioning a vengeful madman who will pursue him to the ends of the Earth. In that one act, the monster has made his mate. 
 So now my pen takes a life of its own and starts to draw the Frankenstein monster. So many ways of handling, one can design this creature for years... and maybe I will just make it a point to keep playing around with the creation of it. 
 It would make a great film, an animated film. Serious. Dark. The ship coming through the ice, the sails snapping open sprinkling ice chips like stars. The men onboard, beards frozen, ply the ropes. Black cracks of ice spreading outward like a giant spider web as the ship breaks through. The gigantic figure of Frankenstein is seen by the crew, racing across the great ice shelf. When will animated films learn?
There was an animated film called the tell-tale heart by UPA studios from Poe's great story, the film is amazing. A great example of the animated form doing something different besides rabbits and gnomes...
 Well here are some sketches, they are just the start, maybe as it progresses I will post some more. As I read books, I will be adding an illustration or two from them. It should be a fun experiment.

 Next one: The Old man and the Sea.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Above is the left hand side of a double page spread..

 This is the right side..

  One of the many joys of working on Rocketo is designing and planning all the different wildlife and creatures that populate it. The Tigermen are my favorite, I imagine them outnumbering the humans about five to one.

 The tigermen have spread their culture from the desert plains, upward into snow mountains filled with mysterious Monasteries, and into hidden jungles deep inside unknown continents. It seems that wherever one goes in the New World, lurks a Tigerman. In designing a complete tribe of them, it was fun coming up with different ways to separate one from another. 
 Color, dress, even how advanced one tribe is from another makes a difference and helps to sell the idea that this is a complete world.
 So as I read everything I can about different cultures around our planet, I bury my nose to the board to help design the tribes of the Plains.
I put up a double page spread from one of the opening shots of the New Series. It tells about the attack on the Chanku ferry, by the Tigermen of the plains. Have fun putting it together!

 I sketched this out, in detail, and then like always, just started drawing.
One can see where I have not erased the lines around the inks, as this is not a final scan. You can see where I just went off the drawing underneath to follow a different emotional lead.
During a recent tribe to the NY Natural History Museum, which in a way is one of the visual guides for the Mapping Guild itself, I came across some great designs that sneak into the Tigerman culture. Thousands of years of culture cannot be made up in a single instant, so going to the Museum and snooping around is the best way to jump start an idea when one has hit the wall.

I also added the inked page of one of the pages that was posted before that had just washes.



Wednesday, January 7, 2009

here we go again

 Well its been a while since I posted, I been a bit busy running around.
 Now its back to the New World, in the New Year.
 Here is a page from the new series.
The Bomb that the tigerman throws at Spiro is a mutant mind bomb... 
The bomb explodes killing the mutant, whose mind releases a powerful mind blast that creates a sort of gravity free zone for a while... so its actually a gravity bomb as they call them in Rocketo's world.

 This is still in the books, it was too much fun to throw out. That cannot be said for the following pages...

I decided to show some of the old pages that will not be used in the New World. I was lucky enough to take some pics of the different stages. As you can see it all stays very loose until the Indian Ink is put in. I keep the pencils really loose, and then during the ink washes I try for an even looser approach. Letting the inks do their work.

It sounds like madness, and in some ways it could be. But its the only way I can keep the energy of the pages alive.

I must add that, I work out the pages in very detail little comps, but once that is done, I almost seem to forget the comps while I put the pencils and the washes. Although I look closely at the comps when I am putting in the Indian Inks. The reason for the comps is to make sure that things read clear, so when I put in the Indian Inks I want to try to hit some of those notes, there are times the notes are hit, sometimes they are not, the full size page has a rhythm all its own. One must follow the energy of the full size page, and take advantage of all its power.

The following are scenes from an attack on the Chanku Ferry, for those familiar with the books, the Chanku is a giant organic train that travels across the plains. The Chanku attack is still in the books, but toned down a bit, in the old version it would last almost two entire books. Fight scenes are so nice to draw that they can carry you away. But the story and the characters have to come first.

May all of you have a wonderful New Year.