Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Old Time Radio

I recently completed the promotional poster for the Wild Claw Theater's "Deathscribe" 2011. The "one night only" performance is right around the corner on December 5th. Deathscribe is an extraordinary evening of live performances of original short radio plays, written by horror enthusiasts and professionals from all around the globe. The thrill of watching skilled foley artists creating sound effects live, right in front of you, is truly like no other. With live musical accompaniment, exclusive radio commercials, special guest directors and a celebrity panel to judge the best in the fest, the festival is magical. Imagine "Prairie Home Companion" with horror. Website:
Designer/Artist/Art Director, Charlie Athanas of Wild Claw, asked me to illustrate this years poster. I sketched 6 rough thumbnails for Charlie to look at and then he picked one for me to develop into a tight pencil drawing. I'm skipping some of the process here because the thumbnail looked like the drawing and the drawing resembles the finished painting very closely. The creative process went very smoothly and what you see here is pretty much what Charlie and I discussed. The only addition that I made was dripping red paint along the top of the image.
Detail of pencil study:

Finished art:

Posters will be available at the Mayne Stage Theater in Chicago on the day of the show.

On the board right now is a cover for "Adventures of Philip Marlowe" and I'm listening to "Nightbeat" while I work. The stories keep me entertained and in the mood well into the night. The Marlowe cover is for an upcoming Radio Archives collection. I'm enjoying their superb audio quality. If you need an introduction to Old Time Radio jump over to the Radio Archives website. If you don't know where to begin, try "Yours Truly Johnny Dollar" or "Box 13" which was recently released with a brand new cover illustration from me.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

ERB Thrillogy

I've been a big fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs for almost forever. Like a lot of comic book readers in the 1970's I discovered Tarzan and John Carter from reading their DC and Marvel comics and then later on buried myself in some paperbacks. Much later I found out about Billy Byrne, The Mucker, equally entertaining... But, I am really attached to the ERB universe of John Carter, Dejah Thoris, Tharks, White Apes, Mars... I think you get the idea. Painting and drawing the ERB John Carter/Mars characters have always been on my mind but I've always questioned, "where do I even begin"? There's a rich history of amazing illustrations bringing those stories to life by the likes of masters: Krenkel, Frazetta, Kaluta, Kubert, Buscema and Nebres. For many years I have been pretty content with just admiring those images. I'm not even going to begin discussing the upcoming Disney JOHN CARTER film... What you see here are my preliminaries and the finished painting for the ERB Thrillogy cover from Pulp 2.0 Press. The challenge was to showcase the three books: A Princess of Mars, Tarzan of the Apes and The Mucker. Classic characters all on one painting.
Pencil sketch:

On the board with pencils and acrylics:


Monday, September 19, 2011


Earlier this week I saw a color proof for my new piece from The Dialogue Project, which is a series of poems illustrated sequentially by a variety of artists and published as limited edition prints. I made a visit to the Transmission Atelier studio to check out the production and I have to say that I was incredibly impressed (again) at the quality that James Kay captures when capturing and printing artwork. At first glance I couldn't tell the original from the copy.

I've been excited about being a part of The Dialogue Project ever since the publisher, Cory Glaberson commissioned me to do "any poem" that I wanted! And I was equally thrilled that Robert Garcia was going to handle the design of the series as well as lettering the piece. "Orpheus" was finished in time for San Diego Comic-Con but the prints are just getting set to roll off the press. They are available now from the publisher or from the Reel Art booth at any major comic book/entertainment convention.

It all started with the poem from the play, "Henry VIII":

Orpheus with his lute made trees,
And the mountain tops that freeze,
Bow themselves, when he did sing.
To his music plants and flowers
Ever sprung; as sun and showers
There had made a lasting spring.

Everything that heard him play,
Even the billows of the sea,
Hung their heads, and then lay by.
In sweet music is such art,
Killing care and grief of heart
Fall asleep, or hearing, die.

-William Shakespeare

My rough sketch as I had originally envisioned.
And while I ended up reworking this rough sketch, it really shows elements of what I wanted it to be and where I eventually ended up.

Blocking in the drawing on the board.
More sketching and influences of Pre-Raphaelite imagery and art nouveau emerged as I began gathering my reference.

And then on to Bob Garcia to be lettered:

(Not Final Version)
Other artist's in the series so far: Michael Zulli, Rick Geary, Mark Nelson and Howard Chaykin. I may be missing somebody...
So, for updates and ordering information please go to their website:

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Yours Truly Johnny Dollar

The first in a series of cover illustrations for Radio Archives is the classic detective, Johnny Dollar. The old time radio program, "Yours Truly Johnny Dollar" was no mystery to me! I've been a fan of the series for a number of years and it's one of my favorites. Along with music, I listen to a lot of OTR in my studio while working. So, it's very exciting for me to be involved with creating artwork for the Radio Archives collections. I really needed this cover to appeal to die hard fans of the show as well as for a possible new audience. After selecting a thumbnail concept, I developed a tight sketch for approval and then painted the finished art.

The collection is available in stores or directly from the Radio Archives website:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Star Struck: Process

For my painting STAR STRUCK, I grabbed a rough thumbnail that was sitting in my sketchbook and quickly developed a concept and design influenced by the black and white illustrations from artist Virgil Finlay. I admire Finlay’s imagination, design and craftsmanship, especially with the female form.

My space heroine is so awe struck (or star struck) by the alien world around her that she has innocently fallen into danger - and without a ray gun at her side! While working on the composition and my drawing, I started to think about dramatic and effective color. That’s when a palette reminiscent of pulp covers by Hubert Rogers seemed like a good choice to me. Rogers has a wonderful sensibility of his subject matter with an attachment to art deco. My color choice made the image more romantic and dream like, which set a nice mood against the ensuing danger. Pulp covers are full of excitement with dramatic colors, pretty dames, cool costumes and ugly monsters. My alien world draws our victim close enough to be dragged into an unknown world or… to her doom.

SKETCH: After roughing out a design and composition on paper based on my thumbnail, I gathered my photo references and spent time focusing on my star struck girl, designing her art deco space suit and dramatic lighting from the stars that surround her. I then transfer the drawing and develop a tighter drawing directly on the illustration board.

In the past, I enjoyed the process of working out very finished pencil drawings where I was solving all obstacles, putting all my thoughts down on paper and spending an average of 3 -5 hours working on studies before even thinking about painting. Recently, I have decided to spend more time working and drawing directly on the board. I gain more time against a deadline and enjoying the immediacy of painting.

ON THE BOARD: Working on a gessoed illustration board, I developed a detailed drawing using color pencils; light umber, terra cotta, indigo blue and light violet. I start painting with Liquitex acrylics by blocking in darks (Payne’s Grey) with flat brushes and introduce some more color (Raw Umber and Burnt Sienna). Once I start usinig a #4 round for details I know I’m about to broadly apply glazes with the Iwata HP-C air brush. I quickly cut some acetate masks with an x-acto blade around the figure, the alien, the red planet above, and the planet below.

COLOR: I lay masks over the figure, the alien at her legs, the planet above and the planet below and paint the background of stars and outer space, which allows me to establish the overall darks and lights. I then move onto the alien world and tentacles. While applying the acrylics with the airbrush I play with watercolor texture effects using rags and sponges.

FINISH: Once I add the strong yellow dramatic light on the figure and paint her space suit with Payne’s Grey and Brilliant Purple, I set the mood for a warm red planet at the top by applying Indo Orange Red and then Naphthol Red Light with the air brush. I wrap everything up by painting her flesh tone on her face and tying details together with a little more color pencil work and opaque paint and brushes. I spent approximately three 10 hour days on this project. Another day and a half pulling the article together and selecting photos.

Cover art and color inspiration by Hubert Rogers

(The original concise article was featured in the January 2011 issue of ImagineFX magazine. This post adds more insight and more photos into the step-by-step process.)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Silent Film Starlets

I am painting a series of portraits of silent film starlets for an upcoming exhibition at Century Guild featuring Dave McKean, Gail Potocki and myself. My portraits will be appropriately grisaille and will include: Brigitte Helm, Pola Negri, Lil Dagover, Theda Bara and more. There is a wonderful exhibition catalog available and I'm sure it will be highly collectible because of the rare poster art that is featured. More information can be found at

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sci-Fi A-Z: Pulp

"Capture the essence of space pulp". That's the title given to the step by step feature written by me explaining the inspiration and process behind my new painting, "Starstruck". I owe a world of thanks to Ian Dean at ImagineFX magazine for contacting me back in October. I was able to pull a concept of mine out of my sketchbook and fine tune it to his needs and paint it for their upcoming Ultimate Guide To Sci-Fi Art issue. And now in the January 2011 issue sporting a TRON cover, there's a wonderful feature that is titled, "A-Z Of Sci-Fi Art". You'll find "Starstruck" under the letter "P" for Pulp on page 64. It's an incredible magazine filled with amazing images. As well as an interview with one of my favorite artists, Moebius. Run out and buy issue 65, available now. And check back later because I plan on posting the "director's cut" of my step by step process.

In issue 65:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Green Hornet Pulp Cover

Truth be told, I've never been a big Green Hornet fan. Growing up, I watched the television show from the 60's and one of my all time favorite Batman episodes from the 60's was the team up featuring Batman and Robin with The Green Hornet and Kato. I still love that episode - but that was it. Skipping ahead, I started listening to old time radio (OTR) episodes of the Green Hornet a few years ago. And- I enjoy them just as much as any crime detective OTR shows. Then Moonstone Books asked if I would do a cover for an upcoming publication featuring the Green Hornet and since I recently became a new GH fan, I finally decided to give it a shot. I started by looking through movie posters from the 1930's thru 1940's, and listening to the OTR shows for inspiration. The editor at Moonstone wanted a straightforward pulp art image, and focusing on that era, I wanted to do something that was instantly recognizable to the character.
I first worked on thumbnail sketches and decided on one I really liked.

And then developed a drawing to present to Moonstone Books for their cover:

Once approved, I transferred the drawing onto the board and jumped right in by blocking in the darks:

A dark and moody palette:

Something was missing - the finishing touch.... I soon realized I needed to make the car, Black Beauty, "come alive" by turning on the headlights.

Happy New Year!

Start the new year right and join us for the reception! Good time to make a commitment to take home some original art as well.
A huge "thank you" to my friend Tony Akins who invited me to exhibit among some super talented artists like: Alex Wald, Andrew Pepoy, Chris Burnham, Corinne Mucha, Hilary Barta, Heather McAdams, Jeffrey Brown, Jenny Frison, Jill Thompson, Tony Akins, Nicole Hollander, Mike Norton, Mitch O’Connell, Sarah Becan, Dave Dorman, Tim Seeley, Lucy Knisley, Gary Gianni, Bill Reinhold, Alyssa Herlocher & Steven Krakow.
StatiCCreep runs January 14 - February 6, 2011