Saturday, May 08, 2010

From The Archives.

I realise it's been a few days since I posted anything. But at the moment the only stuff on my drawing board is either Dracula, or covered in multiple layers of non disclosure agreements... as one client said to me when I asked if I could put some of the work I had done for them on here..

"you know Iran's nuclear program?"
"err.. yes..?"
"well, this is more secret than that!"

Taking that as a 'no' & while not wanting to let this blog fall back into a coma, here is some really old material... & when I say really old.. I mean it. We're talking High School here..

As I have often told whoever could be bothered to ask me, when I was still at school, the prospect of being a comicbook artist had never even occoured to me, that all seemed a world & an ocean away, done by guys who lived in America. Rather, I wanted to be the guy who painted the Iron Maiden/Motorhead/Rainbow/Whitesnake/Ted Nugent (etc, etc) record sleeves, so as such, when looking thru a sketchbook from my school days, I didn't find lots of drawings of Batman & Spiderman, rather it was lots of drawings of guys with guitars, or lead singers etc...

So in order here.. Rob Halford of Judas Priest, in the days when everyone was still pretending to not know he was gay, Ronnie James Dio of Rainbow & finally, Motorhead.... the band who, if they moved next door to you, your lawn would die.

While I was at 6th form college, I became an avid reader of 2000AD, & shortly afterwards WARRIOR magazine. It was reading these comics, combined with meeting a guy called John Watkiss, who now is a world famous anatomist & concept artist, but back then, he was fresh out of Brighton Poly, & had just landed some work with 2000AD, that made me realise you didn't have to be from New York to work in comics.
At that moment, in a surge of youthful single mindedness, all I could see was the desire to draw for the galaxy's greatest comic, so spent hours trying to hone my drawing ability & style to one which would be fit to be seen within those pages.
With these first three 'biker punk' pieces, it is easy to see the influence that the movie 'Mad Max 2' had on me. The post apocalyptic setting, & the 1982 17 yr olds assertion that nothing is quite as cool as a Kawasaki Z1000.

The brief meeting I had had with John Watkiss, had been enough to instill in me the need to learn human anatomy if I wanted to make comics my career. And although I still believe this, & looking back there is perceivable a growing understanding of anatomy, & a growing confidence in drawing it without the use of reference or models, it is clear that I gave little truck to the other neccesary disciplines... on some of these there is almost no suggestion that I gave any thought to backgrounds at all.

This 'Marvelman v Captain Britain strip is something I did just for fun back in 1983.

At the time it seemed an obvious coming together,they were the biggest two characters in British comics back then, & the were both being produced by the team of Alan Davis & Alan Moore, but at the same time given that the two were published by rival companies who were demonstrating no lack of animosity for eachother, it also seemed a meeting which would never take place. However, in recent times, what with Marvel's aquisition of 'The Big Blue Banana', we may yet get to see Britains best two superheroes slugging it out.

As you will be able to see from these pages, I always had a fondness for Rogue Trooper, so I'm sure you can imagine how thrilled I was to eventually get to draw him (in his original Nu Earth guise) some twenty years later.

Regarding these three Rogue pages, they were done at a time when I was heavily influenced by Dave Gibbons, & while doing them I was intentionally working within a 'WWDD' (what would Dave do) frame of mind.. but obviously without an ounce of his skill, so mostly I took very superficial things from his work. What is evident to me now, looking back at these pages, is how little regard I still gave to environment & location. Even given the future war battlefield setting of these pages, there is scant regard given to making the backgrounds believable.

This page was part of another sample strip I did in order to try to get work at 2000AD. Clearly I'm still being influenced by Rogue Trooper here, but it would seem that by this time, I had finally realised that there was more to drawing comics that just drawing people. The backgrounds, even thought they are bombed out ruins, do at least look as if I've given the notion if location some passing thought. The character represented here is basically a dead rip of Stallone's 'Rambo', & came out of a conversation in the pub with a friend, where we compared the 'Rambo 2' to Rogue Trooper. Hence this Rambo in a future war setting.. I even drew him with a faux AK47 assault rifle.

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Blogger Lee Townsend said...

Really nice to see this early work Staz great post!
and interesting you mentioned John Watkiss I was lucky to have met him on several occasions as well when I worked in animation, he was teaching a life drawing class.

4:28 AM  
Blogger Staz Johnson said...

Hi Lee,

Yes, I met John Watkiss when he was right at the end of his 3 years at Brighton. The meeting was only brief.. 20 minutes or so, but the fact that he had been hired to work for 2000AD (although, he never actually followed up on the offer)really spured me on, & his firure drawing really was second to non.

4:36 AM  
Blogger Lee Townsend said...

Hi Staz absolutely! I learnt more from his life drawing classes than any other teacher I have had since, hopefully some of his great tutution as fed in to my work when I approach a drawing of a figure, I did have a poster he did for the class if I track it down I will post it up on my Blog!
Will I see you at Bristol in a couple of weeks?

5:43 AM  
Blogger Staz Johnson said...

It doesn't look like I'm going to make Bristol this year Lee. But I should be at Birmingham in the Autumn.

6:17 AM  

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