Most of the time, plotting, pacing, scripting, designing, drawing, and overseeing the shipping, inking, proofreading, and posting of DEADBEATS ONLINE uses up most of my available work time, but every now and then, something crosses my path which seems to be too intriguing to resist.
Let’s start at the beginning of this tale. Follow:
My old pal Kurt Busiek, who–the same as many creators these days–maintains a weblog on his site and at one point posted a sample of Mort Meskin art from the 1950s (printed from the comic, of course; not everyone–koff koff–has the good fortune to have an available selection of Meskin originals), with some very favorable comments on the late Mr. Meskin’s stylizations. One of Kurt’s many weblog-followers contacted him, agreeing with his assessment and bemoaning the apparent fact that no one these days understood, let alone worked in, Mort’s style these days. Kurt E-mailed me and informed me of this particular situation, asking if a) Meskin’s was one of the styles I could mimic (or evoke, as I’d prefer to phrase it), and b) would I be interested in pursuing the project that this other party was attempting to put together. The answer was a) sure, and b) sure, so Kurt passed along my contact information, and I first E-mailed, then placed a phone call to the inquiring mind who appreciated Mort.
I had a very successful conversation, and got the skinny on what the project was: A double-tiered graphic novel, in which one of the halves was a noir-ish science-fiction-y extravaganza which he envisioned as being more effective if delivered in a consciously retro style, such as an evocation of Meskin. I was certain that I could structure my approach to resemble Mort’s–I’d already inked a few pages of Mort’s pencils (on overlay, naturally, for a project of Greg Theakston’s) and found that we could be a natural fit; I thought that my inking could easily be tailored to complement his structures and shadings–and, as I mentioned to the editor–I’d already done a published romance story in the style of the classic Simon & Kirby examples of the genre. (I decided that it would be irrelevant to rope in the fact that I’d also done a “Hellcat” story in an evocation of the style of classic PATSY WALKER artist Al Hartley.) He seemed impressed, and so was I. His project sounded great for me, and–since I was already at his company’s website–I noticed that one of the independent movies which his firm produced was one that I liked quite a bit (and had even bought). A meeting of the minds, as it were.
So he sent me a draft of the project proposal and I sent him copies of the S&K-ish pages, as a warm-up for the main event: character designs, contract talks, etc. All seemed well, for the first outside-of-Claypool project I would be undertaking in several years.
Then, the bad news: My contact, the project’s editor, sent me one of those “Thanks, but no thanks…at least for now” E-mails. His financial backers indicated that they preferred a more contemporary look for the artwork. So he had to accommodate their wishes, regardless of the fact that this whole waltz began due to my ability to deliver exactly what he asserted that he wanted, then to get overruled by the higher-up (the money people frequently have the last word, as I’ve discovered over the years). There was no hostility in the rejection of my work, and–unlike at least one previous incident–I didn’t get blackballed by an entire company by providing exactly what the editor wanted. I have to say that it was one of the most polite and complimentary rejections which I’ve ever received. I’ve been *hired* with less professionalism and regard for my sensitive artist’s ego.
Anyway, so that project’s apparently not going to happen…for me. I’m not actively looking for outside work these days, but when something appears to be dropping into my lap, I usually manage to discover some extra time that I didn’t think that I had. It’s still kind of a rush to feel the experience of someone wanting to offer me work, even if it’s only that I can summon up the shade of a former comics great (or three)
I thought that you DEADBEATS readers might enjoy a look at the Simon & Kirby-inspired story that I got assigned by the ever-helpful Al Milgrom back sometime around 1990. (It appeared in the final issue of MARVEL FANFARE, I think.) It’s possible that Al only approved this story because he wanted an excuse to ink in the S&K style, but as Al was and is one of the most versatile inkers in the biz, he welcomed and exceeded any expectations of whether or not he could handle it (including his own, I suspect). Here are a few pages:
Now, a look at the real thing. How’d we do?
As far as Claypool news goes: There really isn’t any. We’re each scrambling to catch up. Thom’s back in town and is posting more regularly; I got in another eight pages (sixteen online episodes 815-826) back from Ricardo in Argentina this past Monday, and by the end of the week, I’ll be able to send another six or eight episodes back down to him. I think that I share the impatience of everyone who’s been panting for us to get back on a regular posting schedule–with one exception: I know what’s going to happen. Here’s a little taste of the future:
Beyond that, it’s a long, long time from May to December, and the days are getting shorter and shorter now that we’re deeper into September (as the song almost goes). That means that my recently-reactivated daily tennis workout will shortly become dormant again, theoretically freeing up more time for DEADBEATS ONLINE, specialty drawings, and/or other projects. I don’t have any leads at the moment, but I’m hopeful that when they present themselves, I’ll be ready.
I also wanted to mention that I’m contributing–again–to Andy Mangels’ annual charity auction, now titled “Women of Wonder.” In Andy’s own words: “This year, the event will continue its expanded mission! On October 21, 2012, “Women of Wonder Day,” again as a part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, will take place, returning to Excalibur Books in Portland, Oregon, and Heroes and Fantasies in San Antonio, Texas!” Basically, artists are encouraged to donate drawings, paintings, etc., to be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the aid of those who have endured domestic violence. It’s an Internet auction and for anyone who’s interested in picking up some spiffy art and having their purchase money go to a good cause, this is highly recommended. All the information can be found at:
I’m also appearing in a local “Meet the Artists” show here in Leonia this Sunday. Here’s a sample of what I’ll be displaying.
That’s it for now. Keep checking in and reading DEADBEATS ONLINE. More soon.