A Week of Cyberpunk Sketches

Last week I indulged the cyberpunk area of my brain and did my very best William Gibson impression. So lot’s of cybernetic limbs, hackers, icebreakers and androids! The world has very much moved away from this future which is probably for the best, but I’m always going to find it compelling.

If you like some of my sketches how about checking out my webcomic? I post new pages every Wednesday

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A week's worth of sketches

I try to do a sketch everyday, they often differ in their complexity but all usually involved comics or scifi or some such silliness, anyway here's this week's batch of sketches.

If you like some of my sketches how about checking out my webcomic? I post new pages every Wednesday

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A return from the wilderness...With sketches!

I haven't blogged in a while, to make up for it here's a few sketches I do on a daily basis.

I usually post these daily on my twitter feed, but I'll upload them here once a week to compile them a bit better.

Funny story about the Agent of Shield drawing. The original idea came from Gail Simone (Batgirl writer), she tweet a couple of things and it put a spark up my butt and I came up with that. That for me is some of the fun of twitter and things, ideas and jokes can be bounced off each other so quickly.

If you like some of my sketches how about checking out my webcomic? I post new pages every Wednesday

It's a scifi adventure with somewhat of an environmental twist, lots of trash talk and a guy with an eye patch.

I'm open to criticism about my work so comment if you have anything constructive to say. I'm going to try and use this blog a lot more with some musings, probably about pop culture or something.

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I don't ask much, but I need your help Comicvine

So I haven't updated this blog in a long time, my last entry being in February, when I was doing sort of misguided articles. Anyway it's been a fair few months and my quest to get my comics out there has continued. For those who don't know, I publish a mostly weekly comic over at www.abandonearthcomics.com and we have been trucking on for a while now. In that time I've learnt how to use Wordpress (which wasn't fun for me) as well as produce the comic with my dear friend Danni.

After several months I'm now creating a business plan to propose to the Prince's Trust to acquire funding to get things to kick into a higher gear. Things are on the up as I feel I have solid ideas and a growing skill of which I can use.

Now you may be wondering why I'm asking for help then. Well I'm not asking for money or promoting a kickstarter I'm asking you to fill out a survey, hopefully that's not too much to ask.

Go to this link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/P6XJF8P and fill out the survey and I will be very grateful. All I need is just a little information to know what people want.

To make this blog a bit more fun here is some art I posted on my deviantart page (found here

I'm not the greatest artist in the world, and I'm relatively new to it, but I'm improving and have much to improve upon. If you filled out the survey, thank you for your input. If you think you have something you want to say but it isn't in the survey just put it in the comics below.

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Cover of The Week: Punisher: MAX #6

This week’s Cover of the Week salutes an artist that has come to my attention only recently but has been consistently producing outstanding cover art for several years. Today we honor the work of Dave “The Reverend” Johnson.

Beginning in the early 90’s Dave Johnson has carved out a career of cover art with notable titles including 100 Bullets, his Eisner Award nominated covers for Superman: Red Son and his recent work on Punisher: MAX and Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest.

What makes Johnson’s work stand out from the crowd is his talent for Abstract design. This is not to say he cannot do anything else, far from it. But Johnson has an understanding of what is needed for a cover that he can achieve what is needed and go outside of the box with his designs to achieve it.

As mentioned on his blog that critiques Comic covers released every week. Johnson tries to avoid the cliche’s as often as possible. Examples being a dark brooding hero standing on a gargoyle or Wolverine starring straight forwards baring his claws. They are themes that have been done thousands of times by now and I’m glad at least someone is calling it out as something to stop doing.

A second element of Johnson’s work that is important is his ability to adjust his style to whatever work he is doing. For example take a look a the three covers above, the three styles there are different enough to make you think that they are done by different artists. This versatility is a great skill to have as it opens up a lot of roads for work and projects. It makes me incredibly envious.

After all the preamble and build what one Cover do I pick for this week’s Cover of The Week?

Punisher: MAX #6

The covers for the Punisher: MAX series are what caught my attention to Dave Johnson’s work. The use of Black, White and Red gives these covers a stark clarity to them that makes the whole cover jump out at you, making you stare at it, which frankly is exactly what is needs to do.

What makes this cover great is it’s simplicity, all that’s there is the Bullseye, Frank Castle and the Arrow point above him. Something I have struggled with an artist is know when to stop, where the line is between intricate detail and a scribbled muddled image. Other artist’s may have attempted to put a face in the background or add some other element because they think there isn’t enough on the page.

This cover is incredibly honest with it’s story telling. What’s going to happen in this issue? in giant letters above Frank Castle point down on him, BULLSEYE. It gives the reader an idea of what will happen in this issue even if they do not know who Bullseye the character is. Frank is being targeted by someone, he is going to fight him. This clarity of message also adds a atmosphere of tension and drama, like Frank has tunnel vision and can only concentrate on the threat of Bullseye.

Dave Johnson has very quickly become one of my favourite artists in the industry. His willingness to think outside of the box, with a knowledge of what makes a good cover work with a strong versatility in style and skill make him an excellent cover artist and Punisher: MAX #6 is a great a example of his work.

You can read Johnson’s (mostly) weekly blog here . Where he critiques covers from that week with praise or suggestion for changes, this blog has taught be a few things by reading it, so it’s definitely worth checking out. Also it’s cool to see him putting his own work up for critique by his readers, and good to see an artist’s opinion of his own work, and admittance of failure ( He admitted he incorrectly portrayed Frank Castle as a Green Beret instead of a Marine on Punisher: MAX #21). Admittance of failure and learning from your mistakes leads to a better artist, and if Johnson can get any better than he is right now, all the better for it.

More of Dave Johnson’s work can be found here on his Deviant Art Page.

For More Articles, Reviews and my own comic series go to www.abandonearthcomics.com

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Cover of The Week: Batwoman #5

Today’s cover of the week honours a highlight of the New 52, Batwoman #5.Of all the reboots and debuting series of the New 52 nothing makes me prouder of the comic industry than Batwoman. Debuting in the pages of 52 in 2006 Batwoman cut a different style to the Bat-mantle with bright red hair and heated personality.

The New 52 series by the creative team of J.H Williams III and W.Haden Blackman continued the ongoing story of Batwoman, with her facing a new enemy while being pursued by Cameron Chase at behest of Mr Bones of the DEO.

The team of Williams and Blackman created a strong character in Kate Kane and put her in dramatic and dangerous situations where the reader can invest in her character. Add to this the amazing innovative art and panelling provided by J.H Williams III.

It has been one of my favourite series of the New 52 and with out further a due, this week’s Cover of The Week is Batwoman #5.

A running theme of Batwoman’s Covers is there relation to the interior panels. This is something I always feel is important for a cover. The main point of the Cover is to sell the comic to the customer, and I feel the cover should do it’s best to convey what happens in that issue as well. Unfortunately that is not always the case.

One of the the weirdest moments of Covers being unrelated to the contents was the trend of including Gorilla's or Apes on the cover due to the popularity of King Kong and Planet of The Apes in the 1970’s and 80’s. They wouldn’t always be unrelated to the book itself but it was always a very clear cash grab attempt by including them. I am happy that this trend has gone away. Jumping on current crazes just to try and sell a couple more issues is incredibly crass and desperate.

On to the cover itself. J.H Williams III talent on covers is that he can render an eye catching scene but have intricate detail embed beneath to give an incredibly amount of depth and detail. The significant part is that all the parts of his covers blend together to provide the overall image. No part is fighting another for prominence.

Williams’ style has a ethereal feel to it giving the cover a unique style to it. This is especially important due to the enemy of Batwoman’s ghostly status. This cover adds an extra part to the overall story of the book, in this issue the Hydrology story near it’s conclusion and Batwoman is on the ropes. If gives the customer incentive to buy the book without being over the top melodrama that golden and silver age books did.

The other covers of this series are all quality covers, but this one edges them out by summing up the series and tells a more concise story than previous covers. Williams is a outstanding artist and I await any further work he puts out.

Congratualations Batwoman #5, you are this week’s cover of the week.

For More Articles, Reviews and my own comic series go to www.abandonearthcomics.com

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Cover of The Week: Catwoman #80

As someone who has always struggling with drawing the female figure, I have huge admiration for Adam Hughes. He manages to capture the essence of the female form while injecting the personality of the individual character into all of his images. That is why for this week’s Cover of The Week we take a look at some of his best work.

In his lengthy career Adam Hughes has carved out his own style and has become a notable cover artist. Combining a realistic style and a distinct preference for female characters he has developed a style that is very much his, a style that is very easy to notice and pick out because of this.

Selecting one of his covers to talk about is a tough task. However I narrowed it down to his amazing run on Catwoman as I feel he has more of an understanding and connection to this character than his other work.

Hughes’ 40+ appearances on Catwoman showcases his great range of work, from the dramatic lighting to his ability to find the balance between sexy and slutty. Catwoman wears quite the provocative outfit but her portrayal in these covers doesn’t go into “it might as well be porn” There is a sophistication to the sexiness.

For these reasons I have picked Catwoman #80 as my Cover of The Week.

I chose this cover for several reasons. Firstly it depicts Catwoman in a very stereotypical scene for Catwoman. She is crawling up a wall after performing a jewel heist and is escaping with the police on the ground beneath her. This is important as the Cover of any comic book should stay true to the character it is portraying, and having Catwoman perform an act she is closely associated with is almost the first building block of displaying her character on the page.

Catwoman’s pose in this scene has a lot of character to it. The way she is climbing the wall is very cat like and unorthodox. This pose is great because of the perspective, we see the ground below her with police cars littering the area, and the jewels Catwoman has stole along with her whip hanging down below her. It tells a very clear and dramatic story without saying a word.

One of Adam Hughes’ strengths is his portrayal of women, he draws strong, athletic women who can handle themselves but with an underlying level of sexuality. His drawings are multi-faceted not simply sex objects or brutish women they are true to life characters, and this is what Adam Hughes has that puts him above some of his contemporaries.

Take for example his promotional poster DC gave away at conventions. The Women of DC poster is a perfect example of Adam drawing multiple women and being able to draw them with their own character and personality. They are drawn in an attractive manner but in a very respectable form.

Adam Hughes has a long career in the industry starting out by penciling stories in the first issue of Death Hawk and would soon go onto work for DC’s Justice League of America, where he did both cover and interior art. Other remarkable pieces of Adam Hughes’ work include his five year run on Wonder Woman,the cover of Wonder Woman #195 in particular showcases Hughes’ talent for perspective.

So there we have it Adam Hughes is a stand out artist in an industry with so many talented people. So here’s to you Adam I salute you.

For More Articles, Reviews and my own comic series go to www.abandonearthcomics.com

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The New 52: Looking Back, Looking Forward

DC comics took a bold step on August 31st 2011. The New 52 was their big gambit to gain new readers. Restarting or Rebooting their books to have 52 no.1 issues to give prospective new readers a clear starting point to start reading their books. Due to this reboot, certain sacrifices had to be made. Many years of lore and history have been erased, characters have been switched or replaced and there is an overall different configuration to the DC Universe.

One of the more personal loses of theses changes was the cancellation of Secret Six, a book that is responsible for why I read DC Comics today.

Let me take you back in time to early 2011. A slightly younger version of myself is very much a die hard Marvel comics fan. I had read some DC comics but overall I have never had the same connection to DC characters than I had with Marvel characters.

Around that time I was given the recommendation of reading Secret Six. I’ve always enjoyed books that have characters with distinct character defects that lead to weird gritty grey areas and overall weirdness. Combine that with my enjoyment of reading books that delve into the lower classes of super heroes and villains and their daily plight. So this book seemed pretty perfect for me, and as it turned out, it was.

The duo of Deadshot and Catman alone was enough to keep me reading. But what Secret Six did was give me an incentive to dig deeper into the underbelly of the DC universe. I went back and read the teams origin in Villains United, which in turn introduced me to characters such as Deathstroke and Black Adam. This lead to a continued tumble down the rabbit hole of reading other DC books.

My point here is that thanks to one particular book I found the books and characters from DC Comics that I enjoyed, and not through a specific promotion or deal, or reboot. I was recommended a book, read said book, took what I enjoyed about that book (Writers, Characters, story lines etc) and looked for other books to read because of that. A level of quality and trusted recommendation goes a long way.

Granted I was already pretty OK with reading comics in the first place so getting me to read more comics may not be the biggest of struggles. But up until that point I was pretty adamant of my distaste for DC Comics. It just took the right book to change my mind.

The New 52 did a good job of saying “This is where you can jump on” but watered down their message with the range of book they put in the “New 52” Now I understand that Batman is DC’s most recognisable character and a certain series of films has made them a substantial amount of money. That being said having four different books with Batman in the title is overkill mixed with market confusion.

The problem of continuity has always haunted DC and it hasn’t stopped with the New 52, if anything they may have made things worse. The New 52’s mishmash of new continuity and stories that have carried over from before the reboot make for a complicated mess of rebooted and unchanged characters.

One the books that I feel gave a good chance of grabbing the attention of new readers was Justice League. As it dealt with the first meeting and formation of the team it introduced each character with their own spotlight.It gave the right amount of attention and characterisation for the reader to get the character straight away. From these introductions the reader can then make the decision of which character’s solo book they want to read.

Overall the New 52 reboot has been somewhat successful, albeit with problems, as mentioned above. Of course it would be impossible for every book of the 52 to be successful. As such DC Comics has announced that six books will be cancelled, along with six replacements. Their so called “Second Wave”.

The cancelled books (Men of War, Mister Terrific, O.M.A.C, Hawk and Dove, Blackhawks, Static Shock) were all books that weren’t heavy hitters like Batman and Superman. Some of the books success was marred because of creative team shifts, Static Shock had changes and Mister Terrific’s team changed issue to issue. With titles such as Blackhawks and Hawk and Dove, I feel DC overestimated these titles because of the nostalgia surrounding them. As they are characters/teams that have not been front and centre of DC’s catalogue for a long time.

The replacement books I have mixed feelings for. G.I. Combat and Dial H appear to be filling the void that Blackhawks and Hawk and Dove existed in. The old title that has been brought back. G.I. Combat being a war themed book with classic stories such as The War That Time Forgot and Unknown Soldier and The Haunted Tank. Which if maybe handled better could stay around longer than the cancelled titles, but I wonder if the market for these titles actually exists.

Other announced titles included two titles from a parallel universe. Earth 2 stars the Justice Society as they threats that put them on course with colliding with another universe. While World’s Finest Stars Huntress and Power Girl as they try to return to Earth-2. Once again DC decides to immediately make their world and continuity more fuzzy after trying to unify it.

Overall these new titles are interesting and it’s good to see characters like Power Girl and members of the Justice Society return, but there is nothing more confusing to a new reader than parallel universes.

At the end of it all DC’s reboot has been a success, but I feel it is a short term fix that they can only do every once in a while. DC’s attempt to gain new readers is completely honest and has well intentions but it feels incredibly clumsy in it’s execution. They need to find a good balance of stories that are welcoming enough to grab new readers but still maintain the quality that their books can reach. The Comic industry is heading in to uncertain times with the rise of digital distribution and DC need to adjust to the times.

For More Articles, Reviews and my own comic series go to www.abandonearthcomics.com

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Cover of The Week: Mighty Avengers #20

For this week’s cover of the week we travel back to the heady days of 2008 and Brian Michael Bendis’ Mighty Avengers series. I have soft spot for this series (mainly because it was really good) as it was one of the first team books I started at issue one. I got to see the formation, the initial problems etc of several super (egos) heroes working as a team. Which I assume people would have the same affection towards the original formation of the original Avengers or Justice League. So onward we march to salute the Mighty Avengers.

Mighty Avengers was launched when the Marvel Universe was in a state of change. The Civil War was over, Captain America was dead and Iron Man was now in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. Iron Man elects Ms. Marvel to be the head of a new, government sanctioned Avengers team. Thus begins a new Avengers series that would have multiple roster changes over the span of it’s thirty-six issue series, and have three distinct shifts in tone and theme.

The cover I have picked is one of a few from this series that are of a stellar quality. I initially thought about the first issue’s’ cover by Frank Cho. Which serves as great introduction to the series and has Cho’s signature style. However there is a lot less going on in this cover than others, as it serves as an introduction to the new team, it doesn’t reveal any story points in the issue.

The cover I eventually chose for this week’s cover of the week is; Mighty Avengers #20, Secret Invasion Epilogue.

Created by Marko Djurdjevic it depicts the death of The Wasp, Janet Van Dyne. I’ve highlighted this cover because it shows off beautifully the importance of focus for a cover. By deconstructing the cover down to it’s core elements (Janet & the other Avengers) it gives the cover extra drama and incredible focus. This layout and design makes it incredibly distinctive on the shelf. This also leaves the artist to give detail to the remaining aspects, leaving the characters features bursting with emotion.

Djurdjevic is quite painterly in his style but still has an edge of detail that makes the image pop out the page. His line are also very detailed, take for example the hands of the characters. Djurdjevic took the time to position and draw the hands so there is multiple variations of the same pose, but also drawing them so they would stick out against the white background to make sure their silhouette is easy to view.

For me the cover made this issue of Mighty Avengers “complete” as the interiors dealt with her funeral and Hank Pym’s return from being kidnapped by the Skrulls. It resulted overall in a good tribute to her, and a good epilogue to the Secret Invasion.

Marko Djurdjevic has done extensive work with Marvel, creating numerous covers and promotional work. Recent notable works include his Avengers Origins covers such as this one for Vision.

It should be noted that Marko Djurdjevic has since left Marvel claiming conflict with Marvel editors and writer J. Michael Straczynski, as reported here .

Regardless of his conflicts with Marvel, Marko Djurdjevic has produced some fantastic work and as such that is why I highlighted Might Avengers #20 as my Cover of The Week.

Marko Djurdjevic’s portfolio can be found here and his personal blog here .

For More Articles, Reviews and my own comic series go to www.abandonearthcomics.com

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Cover of The Week: All Star Superman #1

In what could be seen as quite an easy choice to write about, this week’s cover of the week is from the modern classic All Star Superman. This book was inevitably going to be mentioned by me due to either it’s stellar writing, it’s amazing interior artwork or it’s iconic covers.

Created by the talented team of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, All Star Superman was a project with a specific aim in mind. Create a timeless Superman story that is simultaneously a throw back to classic comics of the past but also a modern spin on some story elements and have it’s own unique story twists.

The covers of All Star Superman do something that a lot of comic do, be part of and connected to the comic in the interior pages. It has almost become a standard in modern times to have the comic cover be severely unrelated to the interior panels. A stronger aim to make eye catching covers that may do a better job of selling the book but I feel more work could be done to make the two element interconnect more fluidly.

All Star Superman’s covers contain story elements and scenes that occur in the interiors. The covers are usually from different perspectives and add qualities needed to make the cover eye catching and work as a cover of a comic book.

With that in mind I have chosen issue no.1 as it sums up All Star Superman in a nutshell.

I chose this cover in particular because it has a fantastic scale to it, with Superman sitting on a cloud looking down at Metropolis, and has the fantastical and super powered elements of the Superman myth. But also gives a humanizing element to Superman.

Having him sit on a cloud high above the city is a very subtle way to demonstrate Superman’s power. It comes across as a way to humanize the character by having him sit there in reflection instead of speeding through the air or smashing through a wall. This book was aiming to be a quintessential Superman book so having more subtle study of the character on display is a good way to achieve this and sets out the mission statement of this book really well.

Artistically, Frank Quitely nails Superman completely. He has a muscular look that Superman of course should have. But there is a softness in his face and posture that gives him a warm, friendly attitude that sums up his friendly, good natured attitude. Jaime Grant’s colours compliment Quitely’s lines and add an overall warm, welcoming tone that adds to the overall theme of the cover.

Something I rarely talk about in cover of the week, but is extremely important in cover design is the logo. The typeface of the Superman logo is a simple and subtle logo compared to other books and it results in an iconic look that works with the rest of the cover.

In conclusion if the aim was to create a quintessential Superman book, I’d say Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely succeeded, and this cover sums up their achievement pretty well.

For More Articles, Reviews and my own comic series go to www.abandonearthcomics.com

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